Most of the people I meet with who are facing a debt collection lawsuit have (1) never been sued before, and (2) never even hired a lawyer previously. And I think it is fair to say that is a good thing.
But in working with a lawyer there are things you can do as the client that can make your case proceed much more smoothly and even greatly increase your chances of winning your case. In this article I want to discuss three ways you can help your lawyer successfully defend your debt collection lawsuit.
#1 – Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Hire an Attorney
I fully understand that dealing with a debt collection lawsuit is last on your list of things you would like to devote your attention to. But too often I have clients come into my office seeking to hire me to help them out immediately prior to some large deadline.
I do my best to help clients out who are often in desperate need of assistance, but if you come in to hire me the day before your trial with Midland Funding (or one of the other debt buyers), then there is a good possibility that my schedule will already be booked and I won’t be able to represent you.
Same thing with bankruptcy. If your home is set to be sold at a foreclosure sale start looking at hiring an attorney to file your bankruptcy case at least a month before the scheduled date of sale. I know that often banks will push off the foreclosure date as it get closer, but what if they don’t? Then you are in a tough spot which in turn puts your bankruptcy lawyer in a tough spot.
If you are able, meet with an attorney early and find out what the process is for hiring a lawyer and what they will need from you.
#2 – Communicate with your Lawyer
If you get something in the mail and you aren’t sure what it is, call your lawyer. Most of the time it will be nothing, but you never know. On more than one occasion I have had an opposing lawyer inadvertently (or so they say :), send an important document that has critical deadlines directly to my client.
My client didn’t say a word about receiving the document and then deadlines get missed and cases get lost. If you receive something and you aren’t sure what it is, let your attorney know.
Same thing with bankruptcy cases. I can’t tell you how many times I have had chapter 13 bankruptcy clients who are struggling to make their monthly plan payment to the court and eventually just stop making the payment without saying a word to me about it.
The next thing I know I receive a Motion to Dismiss their bankruptcy case from the bankruptcy trustee for failure to make the agreed upon payment.
If the client would give me a heads up that things are no going well we can often solve the problem. But trying to fix it after the fact is difficult at best.
#3 – Trust Your Lawyer
In the world of debt collection lawsuits many people try and represent themselves in court simply because they don’t have the money to hire an attorney. When things get tough sometimes those same people will come in and hire a lawyer to finish the case.
Again, on several occasions I have had clients who have done a fairly good job at working their case but then struggle letting go of the reins when it comes time to let the attorney handle it. Sometimes clients will second guess my trial strategy based upon something they are reading in an online debt forum on how to deal with creditors.
While a lot of the information you find online is helpful, there is also a lot of stuff that is flat out wrong. And while I want my clients to be engaged in their case I need my clients to understand that I handle these cases day in and day out.
When you are at work doing your job – I am in my office fighting debt collection cases. When you go on vacation — I am likely in my office fighting debt collection cases. When you moved here from Wisconsin three years ago – I was in my office fighting debt collection cases.
You get my point. This is what I have chosen to dedicate my career to. I study the cases, the statues, I know the rules.
I say all this not to proud or arrogant, but simply to get across the point that you should be able to trust me because I have done this numerous times before.
You and your lawyer can make quite the team. Be proactive. Communicate. Trust each other. Do these three things and you will give yourself the best possible chance of prevailing in your debt collection lawsuit.
Photo Credit: Letsdance Tonightaway