In 2022, we eliminated over $15 million of client debt!
(This does not include debt eliminated by bankruptcy filings)
California Collection Lawsuit Defense Attorney
Understanding Collection Lawsuits
A collection lawsuit in California is a legal action taken by a creditor or debt collector against a debtor to recover money owed on an unpaid debt. This process is initiated when a person or entity believes that someone owes them money, such as unpaid credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, or other financial obligations. When the debtor fails to repay the debt, the creditor may choose to file a lawsuit to seek a court judgment for the owed amount.
Here's an overview of the typical process for a collection lawsuit in California:
- Demand Letter: Prior to filing a lawsuit, the creditor may send a demand letter to the debtor, notifying them of the debt and requesting payment. This letter serves as a final notice before legal action is taken.
- Filing a Complaint: If the debtor doesn't respond to the demand letter or doesn't agree to a repayment plan, the creditor can file a complaint in a California court. The complaint outlines the details of the debt, including the amount owed and any interest or fees. The debtor is then served with a summons and a copy of the complaint, informing them of the lawsuit.
- Response: After being served with the summons and complaint, the debtor typically has a limited time to respond (usually 30 days) to the lawsuit. They can choose to:
- Contest the debt, arguing that they don't owe the money.
- Negotiate a settlement with the creditor.
- Admit to the debt and request a payment plan.
- Court Process: If the debtor contests the debt, the case proceeds to court. Both parties may present evidence and witnesses to support their claims. The judge will make a determination based on the evidence presented.
- Judgment: If the court rules in favor of the creditor, a judgment will be issued. This judgment legally confirms the debt owed by the debtor.
- Collection Efforts: With a judgment in hand, the creditor can take various steps to collect the debt, such as wage garnishment, bank account levies, or property liens. California has specific laws governing these collection methods to protect debtors.
It's essential for debtors to respond promptly to a collection lawsuit, either by working out a repayment plan or seeking legal advice if they believe the debt is not valid. Ignoring a lawsuit can result in a default judgment, which can lead to more aggressive collection actions.
When you have been sued on a debt that you owe, you have 4 options:
- Ignore the Lawsuit (BAD OPTION)
This WILL result in a judgment being entered against you. With a judgment, a creditor can garnish your wages (of you AND your spouse), levy bank accounts, lien and sell your real estate, and enforce many other enforcement actions against any assets you have.
Ignoring any lawsuit is a BAD IDEA. At a minimum, get a free consultation from an experienced lawyer at Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC.to go over all options. Knowledge is power — make an informed decision.
- Settle the Lawsuit Prior to Litigating (BEST OPTION)
In most cases where you owe the amount, the best thing is to settle it rather than litigate it. This won’t always get the best or lowest settlements, but the time and money to contest a case can make fighting it a bad financial move. Also, by contesting it, you can cause the amount you owe to increase by the other side’s attorney fees and costs. If you do use this option, you will want to make sure the settlement is properly documented and filed with the court! We have very affordable fees and payment plans.
- Defend the Lawsuit with the Help of an Experienced Debt Defense Attorney. (GOOD OPTION if you need time to secure settlement funds)
By simply filing an answer in court, you extend the time before any judgment can be entered against you. This can be crucial in getting you the time you need to determine your next step. We strongly encourage everyone who is sued by a creditor or collector to do this if you are not able to settle the debt.
By just filing this single document, you will extend the time before anything further can happen to you (such as garnishments and levies) by months and even years. And generally speaking, the best settlements come when contesting the case. There is however additional costs to consider such as court filing fees and legal costs.
- File for Bankruptcy (SMART OPTION FOR THOSE THAT CAN)
Depending on the type of debt, bankruptcy may eliminate the debt entirely. Bankruptcy should always be reviewed as an option to terminate a collection lawsuit. Of course, you must qualify, and there can be downsides to bankruptcy. But if you have a lot of debt and no ability to pay it, it makes sense. The bottom line: Find out if bankruptcy is an option for you, even if you decide not to go that route.
Bottom line, if you have been sued on a debt you owe:
- Do not assume there is nothing you can do.
- Do not assume you will lose.
- Do not assume you owe what they allege.
- Do not assume there is no one who can help.
- Do not assume a lawyer will cost too much
The debt defense attorneys at Fitzgerald & Campbell are dedicated to making sure creditors follow the law to prove what you owe.
Featured Case Results
- August 25, 2023: Client’s debt was reduced by 100%! In a collection lawsuit in the amount of $10,062.00 that was DISMISSED! After our attorney fees and costs of $2,700.00, client’s net savings amount was at least $7,362.00 (Velocity Investments, LLC vs Client Case No. 22NWLC197XX – Los Angeles County)
- August 8, 2023: Client’s debt was reduced by $13,379.00! In a collection lawsuit in the amount of $15,879.00, that was settled for $2,500.00. After our attorney fees and costs of $3,370.00, client’s net savings amount was at least $10,009.00 (SCJ Commercial Financial Services vs Client Case No. 22CV0179XX – Alameda County)
- August 4, 2023: Client’s debt was reduced by 100%! In a collection lawsuit in the amount of $20,364.00 that was DISMISSED! After our attorney fees and costs of $2,000.00, client’s net savings amount was at least $18,364.00 (National Collegiate Student Loan Trust vs Client Case No. 11CV05XX – Los Angeles County)
- July 25, 2023: Client’s debt was reduced by $43,490.00! In a collection lawsuit in the amount of $57,490.00, that was settled for $14,000.00. After our attorney fees and costs of $4,320.00, client’s net savings amount was at least $39,170.00 (National Collegiate Student Loan Trust vs Client Case No. 21BBCV009XX – Los Angeles County)
- July 14, 2023: Client’s debt was reduced by $126,471.00! In a collection lawsuit in the amount of $176,471.00, that was settled for $50,000.00. After our attorney fees and costs of $15,450.00, client’s net savings amount was at least $111,021.00 (Nova Casualty Company vs Client Case No. RG211111XX – Alameda County)
- June 14, 2023: Client’s debt was reduced by 100%! In a collection lawsuit in the amount of $18,521.00 that was DISMISSED! After our attorney fees and costs of $2,432.00, client’s net savings amount was at least $16,089.00 (Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. vs Client Case No. 56-2021-005601XX-CL-CL-VTA – Ventura County)
- June 6, 2023: Client’s debt was reduced by 100%! In a collection lawsuit in the amount of $211,021.00 that was DISMISSED! After our attorney fees and costs of $18,000.00, client’s net savings amount was at least $193,021 (American Express vs Client Case No. CVPS22037XX – Riverside County)
DISCLAIMER: Every case is different. Results depend on the unique law and facts of each case. Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC makes no guarantees or warranties about the outcome of any particular matter or, case. The Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC website, or the information contained within the website, should be construed as ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.
See more results here.
What About Doing It Yourself ?
This is a BAD idea for many reasons, and here is just one: Collection attorneys love when you represent yourself (the only thing they like more is if you ignore the lawsuit entirely!) because they will actually have to do less work.
They don’t have to worry about having all the documents necessary to win. If you are in court, they can “prove up” their case out of your mouth! They only need to ask you two questions: 1) Did you have the account? and 2) Did you pay it? With an experienced attorney on your side, its way harder for them than that!
Doing it yourself will mean hours & hours of your time learning the court system and what to file. The court is a heavily process driven system and judges have no patience for these “smaller” and “simpler” cases. Many people come to us who started the defense themselves only to figure out hiring us was the way to go.
Focus on what you know and how you can increase your income. That is a far better use of your time.
Know Your Rights!
If you’ve been sued on a debt, don’t give up! You have rights, and just because a lawsuit has been filed doesn’t mean it will be successful. Banks and creditors often make mistakes in the loans, in the payment history, and in the filing of the case. They are not perfect. They also violate federal collection laws regularly. They also don’t always show up in court! It’s true what they say: Showing up is half the battle!
Our Promise to You
We have decades of experience fighting these cases. Mr. Fitzgerald has been a consumer lawyer for over 30 years. He has a staff who are specifically trained for these types of cases. We do not do any other type of law. You will not find a better team to represent you in a collection lawsuit case.
Here are some advantages of working with us:
- Legal Expertise: We have a deep understanding of California's consumer protection laws and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which can help you navigate the legal complexities of your case. Our expertise allows us to develop effective defense strategies tailored to your unique situation.
- Case Evaluation: We can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case, helping you understand your chances of success in defending against the collection lawsuit. We'll advise you on the best course of action, whether it's negotiating a settlement, disputing the debt, or going to court.
- Debt Validation: We can help you request debt validation from the creditor, ensuring that the debt is accurate and legally collectible. If the creditor fails to provide adequate proof of the debt's validity, we can use this as a defense in your case.
- Protection of Your Rights: We will work to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process. This includes preventing harassment from debt collectors, addressing any violations of the FDCPA, and representing your interests in court.
- Negotiation Skills: If a settlement is a viable option, we can negotiate on your behalf to secure a more favorable repayment arrangement, potentially reducing the overall amount you owe.
- Court Representation: In cases where it's necessary to go to court, we will provide strong representation. Our experienced attorneys will present your case, challenge the creditor's claims, and argue on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.
- Reduced Stress: Dealing with a collection lawsuit can be highly stressful. Hiring us can alleviate some of this stress by allowing you to focus on your daily life while we handle the legal aspects of your case.
- Potentially Reduced Debt: With our help, you may be able to reduce the amount you owe through negotiations or successful defenses, saving you money in the long run.
- Customized Strategy: We will create a personalized defense strategy based on the specifics of your case, ensuring that it aligns with your financial situation and goals.
- Favorable Outcomes: With our experience, legal knowledge, and resources, we aim to secure the best possible outcome for your case, whether it's a dismissal of the lawsuit, a reduced settlement, or a manageable payment plan.
At Fitzgerald & Campbell, we can help. Our process is simple. All that is needed is an attorney who is willing to fight hard for you, does not blindly accept what collectors say, and is willing to remind the judge of what the law requires.
Our fees are all flat and fixed, and include all expenses, including court filing fees. You WILL NOT receive any “surprise” bill or expense. They also include going to trial — we know it is important as creditor attorneys to show that we are all in for our clients.
We do not “coach,” as that is a big mistake in these types of cases. We do not charge one fee for this and one fee for that. When we are your attorney, WE DO EVERYTHING.
We are extremely affordable and offer payment plans.
Schedule Your Free Consultation
Call (844) 431-3851 or use our contact form to speak with a representative 24/7. One of our case analysts will get in touch with you to schedule your consultation.