Examine The Bigger Picture When Fighting A Credit Card Lawsuit

Examine The Bigger Picture When Fighting A Credit Card Lawsuit

By |February 19th, 2013|

Big PictureSometime winning the battle isn’t enough.

If you’re served with a Complaint in a collections action, you may be tempted to fight back.  It’s true that many of the debt buyers who sue people for past due bills don’t have the proper paperwork to prove that they own the debt, that you owe it, or even that the amount claimed is correct.

It seems like a slam dunk to get that credit card lawsuit dismissed.  A little fighting may get the monkey off your back.

For some people, defending the lawsuit is always the right answer.

But consider the cost.

Court Fees For Fighting A Credit Card Lawsuit In Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, the cost to file an Answer to a credit card lawsuit is either $255 (if the amount claimed is less than $10,000) or $370 (if the amount claimed is more than $10,000 but less than $25,000).  As opposed to places like New York where the courthouse is open without regard to your checkbook, Los Angeles seems to have closed the door a bit.

The Los Angeles Superior Court does have a fee waiver process, but it doesn’t seem to be too friendly.  It even says that your fee waiver may be revoked (in other words, the court can tell you to pay later on) if certain conditions are met.

Don’t Forget The Legal Fees

Depending on the case, my legal fees can run between $750 and $1,500 in addition to those court costs. Some lawyers may charge more or less than I do, but that’s a range to consider.

If the case is big enough, my Los Angeles clients may end up paying as much as $1,870 (that’s the legal fee plus the filing fee) without any guarantee of winning.

If the debt collector or creditor stepped over the line in terms of the way collections were handled, I can sue on your behalf and recover some money. If it happens that’s great, but if not then you’re not going to catch a break on those legal fees.

How About Those Other Debts?

If you’ve got only one or two outstanding bills, fighting a credit card lawsuit may be a good idea. But if you’re dealing with a stack of bills, you need a solution that will help you get out of debt in a more costly and less time-consuming way.

Think about it – even if you’re on the low end of the legal fee scale you’re paying about $1,000 to defend a single credit card lawsuit. Multiple that by even 5 debts and you’re looking at over $5,000 without a guarantee of long-term success.

Consider Your Options

Fighting a credit card lawsuit is only one of many options.  There’s debt settlement, credit counseling and bankruptcy as well. I’m biased in favor of wiping out debts with bankruptcy, but to each their own.

The key is to look at the big picture, decide what you want to accomplish, and find the best solution for your goals.

Image credit: Mary_on_Flickr

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About the Author:

I've been a consumer protection lawyer since 1995, working to help people end their bill problems. I'm a faculty member at the Student Loan Law Workshop, a nationally recognized speaker, and a long-time member of both the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.