One of the biggest threats creditors have at their disposal is their legal right to sue debtors over unpaid bills. As Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyers we’ve seen this event become the proverbial straw that breaks a debtor’s back more times than we can count.
Picking up the phone to call a bankruptcy lawyer is a good impulse once you’ve been served. A law suit is nothing to take lightly. Being sued by a creditor carries a host of consequences you probably don’t want to deal with.
While Pennsylvania is one of four states which will not allow creditors to garnish your wages there are exceptions. Your wages may still be garnished if the creditor is a landlord seeking unpaid rent and damages, if the debt in question is an unpaid child support debt, or if the debt in question is a federal debt, like a student loan.
This is all good news if the plaintiff is a credit card company. However, the inability to garnish wages does not leave creditors without recourse.
Though certain restrictions apply, creditors may be able to reach into your bank account. There are some exemptions. Pennsylvania has a $300 statutory exemption. And if you have less than $10,000 in your bank account creditors won’t be able to seize income direct deposited from a paycheck, disability check, or social security check.
Nevertheless, few people want to wake up and discover someone has helped themselves.
Any creditor who wins a judgment against you may place a lien on your home, making it impossible to sell or refinance the home until the debt is resolved. This could create some real messes if, say, your employer chooses to transfer you to another state.
Unpaid judgments stay on your credit report for seven years, exactly as long as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy does. However, a judgment hurts your credit far more than a bankruptcy does. It is the most derogatory of all derogatory debts. You can salvage your credit after a bankruptcy. Salvaging your credit after a judgment is all but impossible.
Bankruptcy: A Way to Stop the Lawsuit
Declaring bankruptcy is a smart move if you’re already being sued. The “automatic stay” you receive upon filing puts an end to any attempts to continue litigating your suit.
Thus, when you are being sued bankruptcy is one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox.
Ignoring the lawsuit is the absolute worst thing you can possibly do.
Many debtors get so overwhelmed when they realize they’re being sued they are tempted to simply ignore the problem. They figure they can’t pay the debt anyway ,so they bury their heads in the sand and hope everything will go away.
But if you don’ show up in court you automatically lose your case. The judge enters a “default judgment” against you. The creditor is now free to pursue all of the above-mentioned consequences.
Believe it or not, there are ways a good lawyer can defend you if you’re being sued for an unpaid debt. You may not even have to declare bankruptcy. You do, however, have to face the problem head on. Start by contacting the law offices of Sadek and Cooper for your free consultation. We’re ready to help you take your life back.