Debt Defense

Collection Lawsuits

Many lawsuits are filed by creditors or debt buyers with little or no documentation to ultimately prove their case in court. Unfortunately, many consumers are not aware of the various defenses or methods in which a lawsuit can be attacked. As a result, many judgments are entered against people that may not have been entered if proper defenses were presented.

If a judgment is entered against a consumer, the creditor may attempt to garnish wages and bank accounts. They can also attach non-exempt property and record the final judgment in public records, which acts as a lien on real property in the consumer’s name. The judgment likely will show up on the consumer’s credit reports as well.

Asset Protection

There are various protections that consumers have to protect their assets from being seized. For example, Florida provides certain exemptions from wage garnishment. Our debt defense attorneys are well versed at raising such exemptions in wage and bank garnishment cases.

One exemption Florida provides is the homestead exemption. If a judgment is entered and a lien is attached to your home, our debt defense attorneys can assist in having that lien removed if your home falls within the guidelines prescribed by Florida law.

Certain retirement accounts are typically exempt from attachment. This may also include money in bank accounts that was deposited from social security or other retirement benefits.

Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  What if I just respond to the lawsuit and explain why I couldn’t pay the bill?

Answer:  If you respond to a lawsuit in this manner, you are effectively proving the case for the creditor; even if they don't have sufficient evidence to prove the case. It is usually best to contact an attorney prior to filing anything with the court.

Question:  If I get sued by a creditor, should I just call the law firm and work out a payment arrangement before I contact an attorney?

Answer:  No. Many times the law firm will convince you to sign a document consenting to a judgment being entered against you or a stipulation for payments that is not in your best interest. It is best to consult an attorney before you speak with the attorney for the creditor. If you ultimately want to work something out with the creditor, you will typically get better terms if you have an attorney on your side.

Question:  I’m being sued by a company that apparently purchased my debt from the original creditor, is this legal?

Answer:  Yes. However, whether they can prove the case, if properly defended, is another story. Debt is typically purchased for pennies on the dollar. Commonly, the debt buyer does not have the necessary documentation from the original creditor when the lawsuit is filed. It would just be too expensive to transfer years of billing statements and other documentation with the purchase of the account.

Question:  How do debt buyers or creditors obtain judgments against consumers if they ultimately don’t have the proper evidence to prove their case?

Answer:  Typically, it’s because the consumer never consults an attorney who could raise the proper defenses for them. The majority of the creditor’s lawsuits are won by default because the consumer doesn’t respond to the lawsuit or the consumer responds in a manner that hands the case to the creditor on a silver platter.

Question:  Can I be responsible for paying the creditor’s attorney fees if they prevail?

Answer:  In a typical debt case, you will only be responsible for paying the creditor’s attorney fees if the credit contract provided for it and they asked for the recovery of attorney fees in their lawsuit. However, in Florida, if a contract provision allows the recovery of attorney fees for the creditor, then the consumer could also seek attorney fees under the same provision if he or she wins the case.

Question:  What is a judgment?

Answer:  A judgment basically is a document signed by the judge when the creditor wins in court. It effectively states an amount that the consumer is indebted to the creditor for. The judgment is what gives the creditor the right to garnish wages and bank accounts, and to attach the consumer’s assets.

Question:  If my wages get garnished, I won’t be able to pay my mortgage. Is there an exemption from garnishment if I won’t be able to pay my other bills because of the garnishment?

Answer:  No.

Question:  If my wages get garnished, how much do they take?

Answer:  25% of your net income or the amount over 30 hours of minimum wage, whichever is less. Most commonly it’s 25%.

Question:  How do creditors know which bank I use in order to garnish my accounts?

Answer:  If you have ever made a payment with a check from your bank, they likely have your bank information. They may also conduct discovery in order for you to give it to them.

Question: How long are judgments enforceable in Florida?

Answer:  20 years.



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