When you get sued you hang your head. You feel like the battle is lost when the Sheriff delivers the court summons to your door.
But getting sued is not the end of the battle. No, getting sued may be the best thing the other side did to equalize the playing field.
Yes, getting sued is a serious thing. You are out of your comfort zone and you face a professional litigator. But there is something you are overlooking.
Lawsuits empower you to:
- Demand an accounting of all charges and payments.
- Demand a copy of all their documents. (“Motion to Produce Documents”)
- Demand answers to written questions, what lawyers call “Interrogatories.”
- Schedule face-to-face meetings with the people who sued you (the “Deposition”).
- Ask the court to appoint an arbitrator or mediator to facilitate a settlement.
You see, litigation is a two-way street.
The other truth of debt collection lawsuits is this: debt collection attorneys are not used to being confronted. Nine-five percent of their lawsuits wind in up Default Judgments, meaning the other side never bothered to file a response and they won a judgment by default. The remaining defendants who file a response are washed away in Summary Judgment motions.
Collection attorneys almost never face an organized, informed and diligent opponent. They don’t face such competition because the poor defendants don’t know the rules. They don’t have the tools. And they don’t have the experience.
But here is another fact. You are an expert in your own case. You know the facts. You know the dentist is not entitled to his $1,500 fee since the implant was not installed correctly and you have suffered infections and jaw pain ever since. You know the doctor’s office was supposed to file a claim with insurance but they didn’t do it in time to get paid. You know the car lot sold you a lemon that started for just 3 days before dying. You know basic facts of the case better than the collection attorney.
You are frustrated because they don’t answer questions. You are frustrated because they say all the money is due now and they won’t accept payments. So you quit paying.
It’s time to change your mindset and go on the attack. Demand answers. Demand documents. Demand the answer all your questions. Schedule meetings–i.e., depositions–with the creditor who sued you. Go face-to-face. They didn’t want to answer your 2 minute phone call? Schedule a half-day deposition with Dr. Arrogant and see how he likes his afternoon golf game canceled.
Getting sued is nerve racking. But it is also an opportunity. It is an equalizing event. Get busy. Get organized. Demand answers. And along the way, you might discover that settlement offers come your way, payment plans become possible, and getting sued was the best thing that ever happened to you.
Image courtesy of Flickr