To start a lawsuit, legal papers (called the complaint) must first be served on the defendant. The defendant becomes a debtor when a judge signs an order creating a civil judgment.
How many times have you heard a debtor tell you that you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip? “Come on over,” they say in desperation. “Take everything I have, because I don’t have anything. You’re welcome to look for yourself.” They’re trying to signal to you that they are judgment -proof; that even if you are 100% successful in your litigation, your judgment will be worthless because he has no income or assets with which to satisfy your judgment.
She had become desperate and threw beheaded squirrels into my back yard hoping to scare us. Only later did I realize her common addict behavior was foreshadowing a darker Halloween curse, as Vicki’s birthday was October 31st, just weeks away. Yet my faith in God wasn’t swayed by her ridiculous drug-induced voodoo rants.
Well, Let’s take a look at what happens when you get sued. Your creditor will file the suit with the local court. You will then, one day, arrive home and the smiling face of the local sheriff or some other “process server business” will greet you with a piece of paper, notifying you of the suit, in their hand. No, the world does not end at that point – although, at the moment, you may be wishing that it did.
If you don’t know your debtor’s schedule, or if the Sheriff serves it (the Sheriff levy processing time is not always quick), maybe just let fate determine the exact day the levy hits the debtor’s bank account.
“If we win the lawsuit, I can get the debtor to pay your fees back, right?” That question always comes up from the creditors. As I stated in the previous chapter, recovery of attorneys fees is not normally awarded to the creditor, even if he prevails in his lawsuit. If your debtor hasn’t expressly agreed, in writing, to pay your attorney’s fee, you will have to pay that yourself. An attorney’s fee might be a quarter to a third of the value of the account, give or take. That could be a pretty sizeable chunk.
Serving process is a small part of the responsibility of a legal professional, let alone a law firm. But it’s an important part of our Constitutional right to due process. Making sure it’s done right requires more than a price list. Ask the right questions and build a relationship with a trusted provider of process service. “Oops” is just not a good answer to give a client when a process has been improperly served.