In a civil court case, a judge, who is neutral in the dispute, decides the outcome of a dispute between two individuals, two businesses, or a person and a business.  Personal injury lawsuits, child custody disputes, and breach of contract cases between a former employee and his or her former employer are examples of civil lawsuits.  Both sides have the right to be represented by a lawyer, and the various kinds of cases have different rules about evidence, statute of limitations, and standards of proof.  In most civil cases, the person trying to get money or some other remedy is called the plaintiff, and the person from who they are seeking it is the defendant.  By contrast, criminal cases involve the prosecution, representing the state or the federal government, against a defendant; the defendant also has the right to be represented by a lawyer, and a jury must decide whether the prosecution’s allegations against the defendant are true.  Today, a disproportionate number of civil cases in Alabama and many other states involve a company, sometimes a debt collection company, trying to get payment from a consumer who fell behind on payment obligations.  To find out what you, as a creditor, are and are not allowed to do and say in court to collect a debt, contact an Alabama creditors’ rights lawyer.

Business to Consumer Suits Are the Rule Rather Than the Exception

The number of debt collection lawsuits has increased exponentially since 1990.  This trend makes sense when you consider how much consumer borrowing has increased in that time period.  According to a report published by the Pew Charitable Trusts, 52 percent of all civil court cases nationwide in 2013 were for debt collection; the only kinds of cases that were more numerous were traffic violations and criminal cases.

In practice, debt collection lawsuits often work differently from other kinds of civil lawsuits.  Consider a divorce case, where the parties are both individuals, with approximately equal resources to hire legal counsel; in most divorce cases, both parties have lawyers, or else neither party has one.  Likewise, former business partners who go to court to resolve their disputes are also on approximately equal footing when it comes to hiring lawyers.  In debt collection cases, the plaintiff is almost always a corporation, and the defendant is usually an individual.  When defendants respond to lawsuits by debt collectors, they usually do so without an attorney.  If you can’t afford to pay your debts, can you afford to hire a lawyer?

Even worse, the plaintiff is sometimes a debt collection agency who bought the debt from the original creditor.  The defendant might not respond to the lawsuit, thinking it can’t be real.  The defendant might receive mail about the impending lawsuit and think, “I have never heard of XYZ Financial Solutions.  How can I owe them money?”  In other cases, they have become so disillusioned by correspondence about debts that they stop paying attention.  The defendant might think, “Why should I go to court about a debt if I’m already broke?”  In that case, the court enters a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff, sometimes leading to garnishment of the defendant’s bank accounts.  Many consumers and an increasing number of legal experts consider this system unfair, but for the time being, it is the status quo.

Contact Us Today for Help

Contact an Alabama creditors’ rights lawyer to collect debts owed to you without violating borrowers’ rights.  Contact Cloud Willis & Ellis for a consultation on your case.