I had a court docket today in Davidson County (Nashville) General Sessions Court. In “small claims court,” collections are generally limited to $25,000.00 (with some exceptions). Many defendants don’t have a lawyer, and many make the same mistakes. Here are ones I see the most:
Mistake # 5: Not showing up. Dealing with legal issues is stressful, but, if you don’t show up, you allow the other side resolve it for you–and that’s not going to be in your favor. Come to court to meet and work something out. Or call…
Mistake # 4: But don’t wait until too late to call. Don’t wait until the night before or the morning of the court appearance to call, because, by that time, it’s harder to work things out. Call and be prepared to discuss specifics; know how much you can pay per month, know what kind of agreement you’d like to make to get it resolved.
Mistake # 3: Not hiring an attorney (where you have good defenses), or, conversely, hiring the wrong attorney (where you’re spending good money for no results).
Mistake # 2: Agreeing to a resolution you can’t afford. Don’t get me wrong, as a creditor’s rights attorney, I want as much of your money as you’ll agree to pay. But, at the same time, I want you to actually pay the money. Don’t agree to $500 a month if you can’t pay it.
Mistake # 1: Silence is the worst mode of communication. Something will go wrong–it always does. Illness, job loss, something. If I’m expecting a payment from you and you can’t make it, call me. If a payment deadline comes and passes without a call, I assume you’re paying somebody else, and it’s time for me to start judgment enforcement.
It stinks to be sued, and, from my clients’ perspective, it stinks to not be paid. The process can be easier, though, and the above are easy ways to reach a resolution.