Does this sound familiar: You performed the work and you delivered your product or service — but they did not pay you as promised? Alternatively, you loaned them money — but they did not pay you back in full? Or, you paid them money— but they did not provide you with the promised good or service? Whether its Bad Debts and Loans, Bad Checks, Unpaid Sales of Goods or Services, or Accounts Receivables, we recover it.
Our Demand Letter informs the debtor that we represent you, restates the applicable terms of your contract, and advises of his default. We demand that the debtor send payment to you within ten (10) days or promise to file a lawsuit against him requiring him to pay interest, additional damages, and your court costs. We say exactly what we want him to do. We ask for a specific amount to be paid by a specific date in a specific manner. We do not waste any words; we get right to the point and use direct language to grab their attention. If there is no settlement reached after our Demand Letter, we immediately file the lawsuit.
Most lawsuits involving loans, sales of goods or services, or other collections matters have some form of written documentation. This can include written contracts, written agreements, invoices, receipts, delivery confirmations, canceled checks, bank statements, letters, emails, or admissions of the debt. We present these documents to the court, together with your testimony or declaration, to win your case. We do not initiate formal and costly Depositions or Motions without necessity. Instead, we serve the debtor with written questions and document subpoenas to identify their admissions and defenses. We then prepare the appropriate documents with the court to obtain a Judgment by default, stipulation, or trial.
The debtor is fully apprised that if a settlement is not reached and paid, that a Court Judgment will be entered against the debtor, including court costs, and the resultant Court Judgment will be enforced aggressively. If you have already obtained, or if we obtain a Court Judgment, which has not yet been collected, we know how to enforce that Judgment to collect your money. We move quickly and aggressively through examination of the debtor’s assets, levy on bank accounts, garnishment on wages, and liens on real property, and do not let up until you are paid.
The following are some common questions and answers that may be helpful as an overview for your collections case. After reviewing this overview, you should consult with Counts Law Firm, PC to schedule a consultation to understand all of your legal options and retain professional representation.
Our Background Report discovers the debtor’s aliases, business names, corporate names, trusts, spouses, addresses, real estate owned, social security number, date of birth, bankruptcy information, and tax lien information. We verify the debtor’s corporate status with the Secretary of State and check the debtor’s professional or vocational license issuance. We Google search to uncover the debtor’s personal information. Upon your request, a private investigator searches bank accounts, investment accounts, and other asset accounts for bank location and balance information. Upon your request, credit bureau reports determine debt information, credit score, and employment information.
Our Demand Letter transforms you from just another person calling them on the phone about money, to a very real presence that must be dealt with now. A Demand Letter from an attorney is much more effective than a call or letter from you to the debtor. It is an effective way to “draw the line in the sand” and let them know you are serious about their payment. Our Demand Letter makes it clear in the debtor’s mind that they will expend significant time, energy, and money if they continue to avoid payment. Our Demand Letter also presents the best business decision for the debtor: pay all or negotiate an agreement to pay some of the demand in order to avoid court.
Our Demand Letter is served via fax with confirmation report, certified mail return receipt, and email. Our Demand Letter is addressed to the debtor, or if the debtor is a company, to the owner and/or department executive of the company. We take the time to prepare a convincing and well thought out argument to provide you with a significant positive response from your debtor. Serving the Demand Letter in this manner provides you with the maximum impact.
It is generally assumed that a phone call is the best first contact when a customer becomes overdue. Unfortunately, phone contact after the first few attempts consumes a lot of time and effort. The seemingly endless calling, being left on hold, leaving messages, returning messages, that is inherent in this method is not productive.
Most people respond to our Demand Letter rather than face the cost of a lawsuit. Some immediately mail payment in full to our office. Others call our office to make payment arrangements. We promise debtors what will occur if our client’s matter is not immediately resolved.
California law allows a creditor to apply for a Prejudgment Writ of Attachment, which is a lien to freeze or hold a debtor’s assets pending the outcome of a trial or settlement. A prejudgment writ of attachment encourages settlement and provides the source of financial recovery once a final judgment or settlement has been ordered. A writ of attachment also prevents debtors from attempting to transfer their assets before a court judgment has been issued.
We generally begin your case within ten (10) days of receipt of your retainer and relevant documents that support your claim. You should plan to send anything relevant to prove that the debtor got your money, goods, services or otherwise owes you the money. We also like to receive a brief handwritten statement or email that describes contact information of the parties, relevant dates and amounts, and explains supporting documents. Include any information available about the debtor names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and fax numbers. We need to know if there are any disputes about the debt or prior dealings.
A: A collections lawyer charges an attorney fee for his services. In addition to the attorney fee, there are required “court costs” that are payable directly to the courts and third parties. A collections lawsuit begins by filing an initial complaint filing and hiring a process server. The initial court costs are approximately $500. During litigation, documents are filed with court clerks, recorded with governmental agencies, and served on debtors. The courts, county recorder, sheriff, and process servers, charge approximately $50-$100 for each document. Private investigators charge approximately $100-$500 for bank account and investment account searches. We do not authorize real property seizures, vehicle seizures, or business keepers, without first discussing the cost with our client because those tend to be cost-prohibitive in many cases.
Attorney fees may be added to judgments if you have a written and signed agreement from the debtor that includes a clause for attorney’s fees. Legal fees may also be added in default cases, without an attorney fee clause, but the court will only add a limited amount of the attorney fees to your judgment. In cases that go to trial, which are rare, the court may award actual fees. Since many cases are resolved by negotiated settlements or agreements, often people will offer to waive the legal fees the court could award in order to receive settlement and payment from the debtor.
Some cases are collected within the first 10 days after we serve a demand letter, others are collected once we serve a lawsuit, others are collected at a court mediation, others are collected at trial, others are collected by garnishment or levy, others are collected when escrow closes on a real estate lien. In short, there are a variety of ways to collect a judgment, so we cannot guarantee if or when precisely any particular debt will be collected.
If a Defendant receives a court summons because he is being sued, and he does not respond within thirty (30) days, he may lose the case by default and his property, bank accounts and 25% of his monthly net income can be garnished. If the Defendant refuses to pay the amount that the judge ordered him to pay, he may be subjected to a debtor examination and be subject to a bench warrant for his arrest if he fails to appear.
Economic hardship, loss of employment, medical disability, or the like, is not a defense to a debt, and will not avoid a judgment being entered. However, if you obtain a judgment against a person they may be able to claim that some property is exempt and it cannot be taken from them. If we serve a post-judgment levy notice on a Defendant indicating that their property is being attached, if they fail to file a Claim of Exemption listing a legally recognized exemption, the property will be levied in your favor. If they file a legally invalid claim of exemption, we challenge it at a court hearing and if they fail to prove that the property is exempt at the hearing, they automatically lose the exemption.
A Sister State Judgment is a Judgment entered in a court outside of California. Out of State Judgments can be enforced under the Uniform Enforcement of Sister State Judgments Act. If you already have a court issued Judgment from another State that has not been collected and the Debtor or the Debtor’s assets are in California, we know how to enforce that Judgment and get your money. The procedure to enforce a Sister State Judgment is quick and easy. You do not have to re-prove your case. We file an “authenticated” copy of the Sister State Judgment with the California court, serve a notice and 30 days later we can start efforts at enforcement.
If you go to Arbitration out of court, you may obtain an Arbitration Award that becomes a Judgment by filing a Petition to Confirm the Arbitration Award with the Court. This requires filing a Court Case and serving the Debtor. Once the Court determines that there is a valid Arbitration Award and confirms it as a Judgment, we begin enforcement using all the legal means available to collect your money.
In beginning your collection, we formulate a collection plan for each case and try to construct a profile of each debtor and identify his or her weaknesses. The information you provide and our investigation form the backbone of our collection plan and any assistance you can provide increases the speed and efficiency of handling your case. Individuals and businesses that are solvent usually pay judgments entered against them. If an individual or business debtor avoids paying a judgment, post-judgment enforcement is necessary. We garnish the debtor’s wages. We garnish the debtor’s bank accounts. If you hold a judgment against a company, we can have the sheriff seize the money in the company’s cash register, and the machinery, equipment.
The time period for collecting judgments is ten years and then it can be renewed every ten (10) years. So even if the person or business that you have a judgment against does not have any income or assets to pay your judgment in full today, they may likely earn income or acquire assets in the future. Remarkably, a judgment that is not paid immediately may actually be an investment, as it earns additional interest of ten (10%) percent each year which means the judgment amount doubles every ten years!
If you are looking to file a collections case, going through a collections case or looking for legal consultation regarding either, do not hesitate to contact Counts Law Firm. Emahn Counts is an experienced Los Angeles collections law attorney who has years of experience in handling all types of collections law matters. We have experience collecting on collections law judgments by filing requests for contempt, recording liens, garnishing wages, and levying accounts. Emahn Counts will help you devise a strategy to maximize the value you are entitled to for your collections matter or help you negotiate a fair collections law settlement.