Not paying a bill could lead to a creditor referring the amount you owe to a debt collection agency. If you still don’t pay, you can be sued by the agency or creditor. If that ever happens to you, strongly consider hiring an attorney. Trying to navigate a civil lawsuit on your own isn’t easy. Furthermore, the chances of getting a decision in your favor are not very high.
Creditors take debtors to court in hopes of obtaining judgments. In a debt collection scenario, a judgment is a court order recognizing that the defendant owes a legitimate debt. The court order also compels the debtor to pay.
Prior to any court proceeding that could lead to a judgment, creditors and debtors can work out settlements. They can also choose to go to trial. In either case, there is plenty of legal wrangling that occurs in between a suit’s initial filing and its disposition. That is why debtors need attorneys.
Responding to a Lawsuit
State laws require that debtors be served notice of being sued for debt collection. So if you were ever sued, you would be served with a summons. The summons would outline the claim against you. It would also include a date and location for your court appearance and any other information you need to know.
You would have a limited amount of time to respond with legal claims of your own. But without an attorney, would you even know how to respond? Would you know how to file the paperwork? Would you know whether you had reasonable cause to dispute the lawsuit in question?
Making Your Case in Court
Assuming you and the creditor cannot reach some sort of settlement, it’s off to court you go. In all likelihood, your case would be heard by a judge only. No jury would be involved. Nonetheless, your bench trial would still be governed by a standard set of court rules. Lawyers know those rules. Do you?
There is also the matter of making your case. Perhaps you don’t believe you owe the debt. Maybe you recognize the debt but dispute the total amount you owe. Regardless, you need to convince the judge of your position. How would you do that without an attorney?
For right or wrong, courts do not tend to look too kindly at defendants who attempt to represent themselves. And if it is you up against an experienced debt collection attorney hired by the creditor, your chances of prevailing are not good.
Paying Up After the Fact
Though people representing themselves in civil court do win from time to time, it is not the norm. Defending yourself in a debt collection lawsuit actually means losing the case and having a judgment entered against you. Your only course of action then is to pay what you owe.
If you had an attorney representing you, they could work with the creditor’s attorney to come up with some sort of doable payment plan. An attorney might even be able to negotiate a lesser amount. But without an attorney, you are on your own.
Maybe your creditor decides to hire a collection agency like Judgment Collectors to collect on its behalf. Now you are up against an experienced collection agency that isn’t likely to give up easily. What would you do without an attorney?
Here’s the deal: your best course of action is to avoid being sued for debt collection by paying your bills. But if something happens and you get sued anyway, don’t attempt to proceed on your own. Hire an attorney with experience in civil lawsuits.