While there are many reasons why you might wish to consider filing for bankruptcy, perhaps none are more compelling than potential lawsuits filed against you. There are three different categories of lawsuits to look at in relation to filing bankruptcy:
1. You are Being Threatened with a Lawsuit
There is some good news here. With apologies to the late, great, baseball icon and master of the misspoken word, Yogi Berra, if you haven’t been sued yet, you haven’t been sued yet. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking for options in the event that you are sued.
A lawsuit may be filed at any time and, if you are not prepared to act, it can have serious consequences. Most of the time you are threatened with a lawsuit, it is because you owe money. There seems to be a misconception that a credit card company can not sue a person who owes money or could not collect the money that is due. That’s wrong on both counts. If you owe an entity money, even if you dispute the amount, you can be sued. If you are threatened with lawsuits, it’s time to contact Steidl & Steinberg and examine your options.
2. A Lawsuit Has Been Filed Against You and Is Pending
The entity to which you owe money has filed a lawsuit either in the Court of Common Pleas or at your local District Judge. You need to do something.
One option is to go to the hearing and offer a defense. You can say you do not owe the money if you do not. You can say their numbers are incorrect if you believe that. Most of our clients owe the money, so other strategies are usually necessary. Regardless of what option you wish to use, you must let the Court and the parties involved know you are going to defend yourself.
The rules are different depending on the Court where you have been sued, so consulting an attorney is always helpful. If you lose, there is an appeal process, and an attorney can help you. If you do not file an appeal, or if you do not attend the hearing and lose, there will be an award for the entity that is suing you. If this happens before a District Judge, there is a 30-day appeal period so the award does not become final for that period of time. If you have lost in the Court of Common Pleas, the appeal time is less. If you lost by default, you may have no appeal time at all.
3. A Decision Was Reached: You Lost
You have lost and there is a judgment against you. The entity can execute on that judgment and start coming after your assets. The most common way is to attach the funds in your bank account. They can also place liens on your house and your car, and, if you owe little or nothing on your house or another vehicle, they can take them.
By filing bankruptcy, if all other factors for filing are in place, we should be able to halt the attachment of your account or property and work out a plan for either getting rid of the debt or paying it over time.
Things would go a lot more smoothly if you contact the experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Steidl & Steinberg well before any of this happens so we can discuss your options. Suddenly not having access to your money is frightening and can set you off balance. Don’t let this happen!