We get this question quite a bit. Do I need an attorney on this credit card case, or can I handle it myself? We are not trying to force someone to hire us, but we have to say that it is essential that you have an attorney to defend your interests on a collection agency case. You face the possibility of turning a very winnable case into a loser. That makes absolutely no sense. You also should hire an attorney because you want to win and hiring a knowledgeable experienced lawyer is the key to prevailing in any lawsuit.
Every once in a while, we do encounter an individual who can potentially handle a case on their own. The prime candidate would be someone who is facing a very small lawsuit at the District Justice level, certainly under $1000. It’s usually someone who has been through the lawsuit process several times and who has picked up bits and pieces here and there. Even with a few cases under your belt, we still do not believe that it is a good idea to represent yourself in a lawsuit. We follow the famous saying that “only a fool represents himself” and I believe it to be true.
The reasons that you need an attorney are many. First of all, an attorney handles lawsuits on a daily basis, it’s what we are paid to do. Think about it, would you want to operate on yourself if you were injured? Would you pilot a 747 jet across the country? No, you would leave those things to a trained professional. Lawsuits are the exact same thing. One must expect and understand that the attorney on the other side has a good bit more courtroom experience than you, has a law degree, and deals specifically with these cases every single day. You don’t… you are a teacher, a bus driver, an accountant, a waitress…. whatever. You are not an attorney. If you were, you wouldn’t be reading this website right now.
Our biggest concerns when an individual represents themselves is that they have no idea what the process is, they have no idea which defenses they need to present, and they have no idea when or how to present them.
There is an order to how you handle a lawsuit. There are certain defenses that need to be presented at certain times. Sometimes these defenses are presented in writing, and other times orally. If you fail to present the proper defense at the proper time, you can waive (lose) the right to present that defense. If you waive a particular defense, you do not get it back, ever. The other large issue is that you probably should not be in the courtroom, period. You are a liability. The opposing attorney can cross examine you and use your testimony against you. Think about that. The smart fellow on the other side is using you to prove his case against you. Sweet.
The facts are that the cost of hiring an attorney to defend you on these types of cases is minimal compared to the savings that can occur if the attorney handles the case the right way and obtains a successful verdict for you. While no attorney wins every single case, the facts are that we win most of the debt buyer cases that we handle. There are strategies in place that vary from courtroom to courtroom, county to county, and debt collector to debt collector. Only an experienced Consumer Attorney can offer that type of experience on your lawsuit.
If you have a credit card company or a collection agency attempting to collect a debt from you, please contact our office at 412-348-8600 or send an email to Attorney Greg Artim