I don't want to file BK just because of one default judgment, which never should have been awarded. I do have excessive credit card debt, no assets, but none of the other companies have made any attempt to collect in over a year. I'm wondering if it would be better to try and settle the 1 default judgment instead of filing a chap 7 bk.
You should get a free consultation to ensure that bankruptcy is your best and/or only option. A lot depends on the plaintiff and the amount of the judgment. If BK7 is your best bet, you are looking at about $1500 for a decent attorney on a simple case. Also note that you will have to pay at $306 filing fee along with 2 counseling courses that run about $60 total. Ensure you know about these fees in addition to what the attorney charges you.
A simple Ch7 in Palm Springs would cost you around $1,500.
You are free to attempt to settle the one, of course; but (1) the rest would still be on your credit report and (2) they still have another 3 yrs in which to choose to sue you.
Whereas a Ch7 now could be out of the way in a few months and you would already be re-establishing your credit within a yr.
I agree with Mr. Whitaker's answer. I only wish to point out that the sum he mentions would be for a VERY simple Chapter 7 and assumes your income is entirely from earnings for which you receive a W-2. It also would not include the filing fee.
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Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney
Most of the time it takes about 5-8 hours to prepare a chapter 7 for an attorney. Some cases can take even longer if they are complicated. In California the average hourly rate is probably about $260 an hour.
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
You didn't mention the amount of the default judgment, but assuming you could settle it for a few hudred dollars, you may be ahead. However, as has been pointed out, for the cost of the banruptcy, you can virtually wipe the slate clean, and start over.
The best course of action is to go in and consult with a local attorney. Many will offer a free or inexpensive initial consultation, and can give you a much better idea of the options best tailored to your case.