“Heather” was at her desk, reviewing accounts receivable reports. She grimaced as she saw the unpaid invoices from HiSpeed Technologies, Inc. She had done great work for them, and they continually praised her efforts – but what started out as a rough cash flow patch for them was turning into one excuse after another. Just as she wondered how she would ever collect the debt, there was a knock at the door. It was a process server, handing her some official-looking court documents. Her heart dropped into her stomach as she saw the names on the papers. Hi-Speed was suing her! Frantic, she wondered, “How can I make this frivolous lawsuit go away quickly”?
Caveat. The author is an attorney in the state of Kentucky. The information contained herein may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. By providing this information, the author does not intend to create an attorney-client relationship with the reader. The following is not legal or financial advice. If you have legal questions about any of the material presented below, please contact an attorney in your jurisdiction.
1) Create some basic business cards and flyers to hand out to attorneys. Do a search for local attorneys within 20 miles of your location. Create a basic letter introducing yourself and listing your services. Let the attorneys know you are available to serve within 50 miles (or whatever you’re comfortable with) from their office to serve.
Well, Let’s take a look at what happens when you get sued. Your creditor will file the suit with the local court. You will then, one day, arrive home and the smiling face of the local sheriff or some other “process server business” will greet you with a piece of paper, notifying you of the suit, in their hand. No, the world does not end at that point – although, at the moment, you may be wishing that it did.
If you get a notice of this in the mail, visit your court and ask them how to proceed. In general you must file an opposition to their claim. If the debtor does not have a valid reason, their attempt will not work.
“If we win the lawsuit, I can get the debtor to pay your fees back, right?” That question always comes up from the creditors. As I stated in the previous chapter, recovery of attorneys fees is not normally awarded to the creditor, even if he prevails in his lawsuit. If your debtor hasn’t expressly agreed, in writing, to pay your attorney’s fee, you will have to pay that yourself. An attorney’s fee might be a quarter to a third of the value of the account, give or take. That could be a pretty sizeable chunk.
However, it is very possible to defend yourself (called being a Pro Se litigant) in this type of lawsuit. Many people I’ve corresponded with have successfully “Answered” their lawsuit and had their cases dropped. If you are proactive and fight these collectors head on, they often buckle and move on to the next “default” prospect.