If you've been sued by a debt collector or creditor in Indiana, mostly commonly for a credit card debt, the first thing you probably wondered while reviewing the summons and complaint is: "what am I going to do?" It is very important at this stage to be proactive and take immediate action. You may give up some of your rights if you don't take action in as little as a week or ten days. For instance, in most small claims courts around the State of Indiana, you lose your right to move the case to a real court if you don't request it within ten days of receiving the small claims notice of claim. (Note: Small claims courts are essentially collection courts since a huge part of their docket is collection cases. They are generally favorable for debt collectors and unfavorable for consumers. We never, ever, ever, ever want to be in a small claims court if we can help it.) And, you have to respond to a summons and complaint within 20 days or risk a default judgment. Most of these cases end up with default judgments, and, in fact, that is what debt collectors count on.
Hiring an attorney to defend you in one of these cases unfortunately costs money. But you might be surprised at how affordable you can obtain representation. Our office handles most of these cases on a flat-fee basis. Depending on the size of the debt, our evaluation of the complexity of the issues of the case, the location of the court where the case is pending, and other factors, the flat fee is generally one to five thousand dollars. Our clients like the flat-fee arrangement because they know just how much the representation will cost. Paying by the hour is always an option, but then you never know just how much the representation will cost until the case is over.
All too often, debt collectors sue the wrong person or sue on a debt that is past the statute of limitations. Even more often, they tack on fees and interest that are not legitimate. And almost always they lack the proper documentation they should have because they expect to get a default judgment and rarely have to actually prove the case in court. This is because debt collection is all about volume and minimizing expenses. We understand that debt collection is a business, but that doesn't mean it is right for a debt collector to cut whatever corners they like in search of the almighty dollar. We have seen too many people's lives and well-being injured by greedy debt collectors. There isn’t much of a difference between a debt collector who sues the wrong person because their practice is to attempt to collect debts without the appropriate documentation and a bus company who injures a customer because they neglected maintenance on their bus.
Plus, while the Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff handles your case, we often uncover violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by the debt collector or its attorney. This usually leads to another lawsuit (this time you against them), often to a $1,000 statutory damage recovery, and sometimes even to the extinguishment of the original debt you were sued over.
We are often asked what the likelihood is that the consumer will win the lawsuit. Unfortunately, there are so many variables involved that this question is impossible to honestly answer with any accuracy whatsoever. Of course it is possible that you pay us to defend you and still end up having to pay the full amount the debt collector is seeking. Fortunately, however, that has never happened to one of our clients. And while we cannot promise any particular outcome in your case, we can say with pride that most of our clients pay nothing in addition to the flat-fee.
If you would like to consider hiring the Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff to defend you against a debt collector or creditor lawsuit, please click here to contact us.