As a debt lawsuit defense attorney, I routinely visit with folks who have recently been sued for consumer debt. The experience is not a pleasant one. However, the consumer should know that there are options.
Here are some of the questions that I hear regularly:
Q: I’m being sued for consumer debt (like credit card debt). What options do I have?
A: You can fight the lawsuit and try to beat it, since credit card companies and debt buyers don't always have what is needed to prove their case - if properly defended. You can defend the lawsuit and try to settle on terms that you can live with. Or, you can seek bankruptcy protection if you qualify and have the lawsuit instantly frozen and then dismissed. It is important to consult with an attorney that offers you multiple options - not just one.
Q: I’m being sued for credit card debt. Should I just go ahead and file for bankruptcy?
A: Maybe. It all depends on a number of factors, one of them being whether or not you are a good bankruptcy candidate. A consumer defense attorney can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you - many will do so free of charge.
Q: What will it cost to meet with a lawyer for a consultation?
A: While some consumer attorneys do charge an initial consultation fee, many do not. You should be able to find one who does not charge an initial consultation fee by doing a little internet research.
Q: The citation attached to the lawsuit that I was served with says that I have to appear before the Judge by 10:00AM on some Monday morning. I'm not sure when that is and do I actually have to physically go to the courthouse and make an appearance?
A: A consumer defense trial lawyer can calculate the due date quickly for you. And no, you do not have to physically go to court. All that is required is that you file a document called an answer in a timely manner. If you hire a lawyer they should be able to easily take care of this for you. In consumer debt defense cases, the odds of you actually having to ever go to court are very slim if you hire a competent attorney to defend you.
Q: I was sued a few years ago and I ignored the lawsuit. Now there is a judgment against me. Is there any hope for me?
A: Yes. Bankruptcy might be an option or you can try to negotiate a settlement with the judgment creditor on terms that you can live with. There are many creative ways to try to settle judgments. A competent consumer lawyer can explain them to you.
Q: I am being sued. If I ignore the lawsuit and they get a judgment against me can my bank accounts really be frozen?
A: Yes. In Texas, a judgment creditor can file a garnishment action against a bank that holds attachable funds. The bank will usually freeze the account pending the outcome of the garnishment action. This is not a pleasant scenario and is one of the biggest reasons not to ignore a debt lawsuit.