September 21, 2016

Definition: Interrogatories

Interrogatories are written questions that can be served from one party to the other.

Instead of doing face to face deposition, we can write our questions out to the other side for them to answer within a set amount of time.

The other side can also serve us with written questions that we need to answer within the time limit given.

Basically the time limits are 30 days from when you receive the questions. Then you either answer completely, answer partially and object partially, or just object if the whole question is inappropriate.

This part of a lawsuit -- interrogatories -- is very difficult to do on your own. We have lots of consumers contact us after they have blown through the deadlines and the court is about to enter judgment against them.

It is definitely worth your time to see if you can get a lawyer to help you.

Contact Us.

If you have any questions and you live in Alabama, you can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to talking with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

August 31, 2016

What's the difference between arbitration and mediation?

Sometimes we deal with cases that require arbitration, and other times the case requires meditation.

What do these terms mean?

Arbitration is where your case is looked at by 1 or 3 people, and they decide by their own rules who wins or loses.

Your case isn't tried in court, but it's instead reviewed by an arbitrator.

The arbitrator could be a former judge, and it may be 3 arbitrators instead of 1.

Arbitration is like being in court, instead there's no jury trial or appeal.

You present your case to the arbitrator(s), and they decide what happens in your case using their own rules, just like a judge and jury would do in court.

Whatever the arbitrator says, that's the ruling on your case.

This is what's called "binding" or "mandatory" arbitration.

There is a big push in the Federal government to get rid of this with consumers, because there's a lot of abuse within this system.

Mediation is where a mediator comes in and tries to get both parties to voluntarily settle the case.

You may be ordered to go to mediation, but once you're there, settling the case is up to the parties.

A mediator is usually an experienced lawyer or a former judge.

The mediator brings everyone together, the lawyers, the parties, and gets them to talk about the case.

The mediator usually will ask each party to make an opening statement, and then the parties will be split up into two separate rooms.

Then the mediator will go back and forth between the two rooms to try and bring them together to settle the case.

The mediator has no power to make you settle with the other side, but his job is to try and help settle the case.

Contact Us.

If you have already hired a attorney, definitely talk with them about mediation or arbitration.

But if you have any questions and you haven't hired a lawyer, you can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to speaking with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

August 30, 2016

Why you should to get an appraisal and an inspection when you buy a home

If you're looking to buy a home, whether it's a new house or an older house, there are two things have you need to consider doing.

Many people who buy a home skip these two steps, but they're critical to saving you money in the long run.

1.) Get an appraisal.

If you're buying a house with a loan, then generally an appraisal is done.

However, some people buy their homes with cash or the previous owner will do owner's financing.

Regardless, it's a good idea to get an appraisal done.

Appraisals aren't always 100% accurate, but it's good to get a ball park price.

If the appraisal comes back at $175,000 and you're paying $220,000, it should make you think, "Huh, that's a lot more money to pay. Maybe I should get another appraisal, or maybe I need to re-think buying this house."

2.) Get a home inspection done.

Get a licensed home inspector to come and look at the house you're considering.

They check all sorts of different things, including pipes, air conditioning, electricity, etc.

Some people will say that they don't want to waste money on hiring an inspector, and that they can inspect the house themselves.

It's true that you could, but not everyone is a certified home inspector.

If you buy that house without properly inspecting it, you could potentially be paying a lot of money down the road if there's an issue.

Home inspectors catch plenty of little things, and they usually will give you a detailed report on their findings.

That allows you to go the builder or seller and ask him to fix these things.

Hiring an legitimate home inspector is a smart move that could save you a lot of money in the long run.

We understand wanting to save money where we can, especially when buying a house, but you could really hurt yourself financially by not getting an appraisal and inspection done.

If you're working with a realtor, they can recommend home inspectors to you.

It also really helps to work with your own realtor.

They can look at a property and decide whether or not it's a good idea to look at or not.

Contact Us.

We aren't home inspectors, but if you have any questions regarding your house that you have bought, you can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to chatting with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

August 29, 2016

Definition: Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Today we're continuing our series on legal terms, and we're going to talk about bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is where we pull all of our debts together, and we pay them off over a 3 or 5 year period.

A Chapter 13 is also called debtor's court.

This is because we pay off our debts over a period of time, instead of wiping them all away like we would in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Paying them off over time makes catching up doable, and helps get control over the debt we've accumulated. Normally we continue to make our normal car or mortgage payments while in the Chapter 13.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is most appropriate when it is used to stop a foreclosure.

However, my opinion is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy should only be done if all other options fail to stop the foreclosure.

There are plenty of other ways to stop a foreclosure before a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a good way to consolidate debt, and gives you some breathing room to take care of it.

Contact Us.

If you have any questions, you can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to chatting with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

August 13, 2016

Can a debt buyer sue me in Alabama?

Can a Debt Buyer Really Sue Me?

This question is a natural question when you have been sued by some debt buyer such as LVNV, Midland Funding, Portfolio Recovery, etc.

First off, it is completely legal to buy debt

Companies are allowed to buy old credit card debts, and other debts as well. The most common are deficiencies after the repossession of a vehicle or a deficiency after a foreclosure.

But remember there is a big difference in it being legal to buy a debt and the actual proof that the company suing you literally bought your old debt.

The debt buyer has to prove ownership of the debt

It may be legal to buy the debt, but the debt buyer has a responsibility to prove that they own the debt now that they have sued you.

Think about your car or your home -- you prove ownership through a chain of title.

When you buy a house from someone, you want to make sure the person you bought it from had a "good title" on the house. This is why we have title insurance and do a title search.

The company suing you on an old debt may be the fourth, fifth, or sixth person to supposedly buy this debt.

They prove it by showing the proof where they bought the debt and the company they bought it from owned the debt. In other words, if I sell you the Golden Gate Bridge -- you can prove you bought it from me, but I never owned it so I had nothing to sell to you.

Even then you have to keep going back all the way until you get to the original creditor.

Many debt buyers cannot-- or will not-- prove ownership

Now, in some ways we don't care because if they don't prove the ownership, they should lose their case.

They complain and whine and fuss about having to prove ownership. They want the court, and you, to just believe them because they sued you. That's not proof of anything other than they sued you.

Even if they prove ownership, their lawsuit may be outside the statute of limitations

I've been working in this area of the law for many years and don't see them proving ownership.

But let's be generous and assume they can prove ownership, they may still lose because they waited too long to sue. This is a statute of limitations defense.

Suing may be legal in general, however the lawsuit against you may actually be illegal under Alabama or Federal Law.

Under Alabama law, if someone sues you with no proof, this is often called a malicious prosecution and we sue a lot of debt buyers for breaking this law.

Suing you with no proof at court can also -- and normally does -- violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, because they brought a bogus lawsuit or waited too long to sue you under the statute of limitations.

It may be that they have no way to prove ownership.

They might even be suing you for more than you owe.

There's all sorts of reasons why the lawsuit may be illegal in your case.

Find out your rights and 5 options-- these are so much more than simply bankruptcy

So many people, when they're sued, think that bankruptcy is their only option -- often because that is what everyone tells them they have to do.

That's just bad advice.

Bankruptcy is just one option.

You have 4 other options, which gives you a total of 5 options.

What a relief to know that you may have multiple options, right?

You can discover more about your five (5) options when sued so you can make the best choice for you.

Feel free to contact us

If you live in Alabama, and you have a specific question for us, feel free to get in touch with us by phone at 1-205-879-2447, or you can fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

August 12, 2016

Consumer protection lawsuits in federal court: part 14 -- subpoenas

Subpoenas are a type of discovery where we can get information and documents from non parties -- people or companies who are not in the lawsuit.

The other types of discovery we have discussed so far -- initial disclosures, interrogatories, request for production, and request for admissions -- are only to the parties in the case. The Plaintiff (who filed the case/lawsuit) and the Defendant (who was sued and who has answered the lawsuit).

Why would we use a subpoena?
There are many times we need to get documents (or even testimony) but the person or company that has the information is not a party. So the only vehicle -- the only discovery type of device -- to get the information is a subpoena.

What can we get from a subpoena?
The typical information we get from a subpoena are documents. These can be in hard copy form or electronic form. Combined with a deposition (covered in the next article), we can require a third party (not the plaintiff or defendant) to testify and answer questions under oath.

What are examples of when we have used subpoenas?
Let's look at several types of cases:

Debt collector does false credit reporting and it causes our client to be turned down for a home loan.
We may need copies of credit reports and so we subpoena those from the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).

We may need proof that the mortgage company turned our client down for a loan so we subpoena its records about the application, underwriting and the reasons for the loan turn down, including the review of the credit reporting.

Or we have a case involving a credit card company blowing up our client's cell phone with illegal robo dialers (auto dialers).
We would subpoena information and documents from the company that actually did the dialing if it wasn't the credit card company directly.

What is the next type of discovery we will cover?
Next we will talk about one of the most important types of discovery and that is the deposition. A deposition allows either side to ask questions of a witness in person and in front of a court reporter.

Hope you are enjoying this series and if you have any questions and you live in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we'll be glad to help you any way we can.

Or you can contact us through our website.

Thanks!

John Watts

PS -- it is a long rule but what follows is Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP):

(a) In General.

(1) Form and Contents.

(A) Requirements—In General. Every subpoena must:

(i) state the court from which it issued;

(ii) state the title of the action and its civil-action number;

(iii) command each person to whom it is directed to do the following at a specified time and place: attend and testify; produce designated documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things in that person's possession, custody, or control; or permit the inspection of premises; and

(iv) set out the text of Rule 45(d) and (e).

(B) Command to Attend a Deposition—Notice of the Recording Method. A subpoena commanding attendance at a deposition must state the method for recording the testimony.

(C) Combining or Separating a Command to Produce or to Permit Inspection; Specifying the Form for Electronically Stored Information. A command to produce documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things or to permit the inspection of premises may be included in a subpoena commanding attendance at a deposition, hearing, or trial, or may be set out in a separate subpoena. A subpoena may specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced.

(D) Command to Produce; Included Obligations. A command in a subpoena to produce documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things requires the responding person to permit inspection, copying, testing, or sampling of the materials.

(2) Issuing Court. A subpoena must issue from the court where the action is pending.

(3) Issued by Whom. The clerk must issue a subpoena, signed but otherwise in blank, to a party who requests it. That party must complete it before service. An attorney also may issue and sign a subpoena if the attorney is authorized to practice in the issuing court.

(4) Notice to Other Parties Before Service. If the subpoena commands the production of documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things or the inspection of premises before trial, then before it is served on the person to whom it is directed, a notice and a copy of the subpoena must be served on each party.

(b) Service.

(1) By Whom and How; Tendering Fees. Any person who is at least 18 years old and not a party may serve a subpoena. Serving a subpoena requires delivering a copy to the named person and, if the subpoena requires that person's attendance, tendering the fees for 1 day's attendance and the mileage allowed by law. Fees and mileage need not be tendered when the subpoena issues on behalf of the United States or any of its officers or agencies.

(2) Service in the United States. A subpoena may be served at any place within the United States.

(3) Service in a Foreign Country. 28 U.S.C. §1783 governs issuing and serving a subpoena directed to a United States national or resident who is in a foreign country.

(4) Proof of Service. Proving service, when necessary, requires filing with the issuing court a statement showing the date and manner of service and the names of the persons served. The statement must be certified by the server.

(c) Place of Compliance.

(1) For a Trial, Hearing, or Deposition. A subpoena may command a person to attend a trial, hearing, or deposition only as follows:

(A) within 100 miles of where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person; or

(B) within the state where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person, if the person

(i) is a party or a party's officer; or

(ii) is commanded to attend a trial and would not incur substantial expense.

(2) For Other Discovery. A subpoena may command:

(A) production of documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things at a place within 100 miles of where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person; and

(B) inspection of premises at the premises to be inspected.

(d) Protecting a Person Subject to a Subpoena; Enforcement.

(1) Avoiding Undue Burden or Expense; Sanctions. A party or attorney responsible for issuing and serving a subpoena must take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on a person subject to the subpoena. The court for the district where compliance is required must enforce this duty and impose an appropriate sanction—which may include lost earnings and reasonable attorney's fees—on a party or attorney who fails to comply.

(2) Command to Produce Materials or Permit Inspection.

(A) Appearance Not Required. A person commanded to produce documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things, or to permit the inspection of premises, need not appear in person at the place of production or inspection unless also commanded to appear for a deposition, hearing, or trial.

(B) Objections. A person commanded to produce documents or tangible things or to permit inspection may serve on the party or attorney designated in the subpoena a written objection to inspecting, copying, testing or sampling any or all of the materials or to inspecting the premises—or to producing electronically stored information in the form or forms requested. The objection must be served before the earlier of the time specified for compliance or 14 days after the subpoena is served. If an objection is made, the following rules apply:

(i) At any time, on notice to the commanded person, the serving party may move the court for the district where compliance is required for an order compelling production or inspection.

(ii) These acts may be required only as directed in the order, and the order must protect a person who is neither a party nor a party's officer from significant expense resulting from compliance.

(3) Quashing or Modifying a Subpoena.

(A) When Required. On timely motion, the court for the district where compliance is required must quash or modify a subpoena that:

(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;

(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits specified in Rule 45(c);

(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or

(iv) subjects a person to undue burden.

(B) When Permitted. To protect a person subject to or affected by a subpoena, the court for the district where compliance is required may, on motion, quash or modify the subpoena if it requires:

(i) disclosing a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information; or

(ii) disclosing an unretained expert's opinion or information that does not describe specific occurrences in dispute and results from the expert's study that was not requested by a party.

(C) Specifying Conditions as an Alternative. In the circumstances described in Rule 45(d)(3)(B), the court may, instead of quashing or modifying a subpoena, order appearance or production under specified conditions if the serving party:

(i) shows a substantial need for the testimony or material that cannot be otherwise met without undue hardship; and

(ii) ensures that the subpoenaed person will be reasonably compensated.

(e) Duties in Responding to a Subpoena.

(1) Producing Documents or Electronically Stored Information. These procedures apply to producing documents or electronically stored information:

(A) Documents. A person responding to a subpoena to produce documents must produce them as they are kept in the ordinary course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the demand.

(B) Form for Producing Electronically Stored Information Not Specified. If a subpoena does not specify a form for producing electronically stored information, the person responding must produce it in a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably usable form or forms.

(C) Electronically Stored Information Produced in Only One Form. The person responding need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form.

(D) Inaccessible Electronically Stored Information. The person responding need not provide discovery of electronically stored information from sources that the person identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. On motion to compel discovery or for a protective order, the person responding must show that the information is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. If that showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from such sources if the requesting party shows good cause, considering the limitations of Rule 26(b)(2)(C). The court may specify conditions for the discovery.

(2) Claiming Privilege or Protection.

(A) Information Withheld. A person withholding subpoenaed information under a claim that it is privileged or subject to protection as trial-preparation material must:

(i) expressly make the claim; and

(ii) describe the nature of the withheld documents, communications, or tangible things in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will enable the parties to assess the claim.

(B) Information Produced. If information produced in response to a subpoena is subject to a claim of privilege or of protection as trial-preparation material, the person making the claim may notify any party that received the information of the claim and the basis for it. After being notified, a party must promptly return, sequester, or destroy the specified information and any copies it has; must not use or disclose the information until the claim is resolved; must take reasonable steps to retrieve the information if the party disclosed it before being notified; and may promptly present the information under seal to the court for the district where compliance is required for a determination of the claim. The person who produced the information must preserve the information until the claim is resolved.

(f) Transferring a Subpoena-Related Motion. When the court where compliance is required did not issue the subpoena, it may transfer a motion under this rule to the issuing court if the person subject to the subpoena consents or if the court finds exceptional circumstances. Then, if the attorney for a person subject to a subpoena is authorized to practice in the court where the motion was made, the attorney may file papers and appear on the motion as an officer of the issuing court. To enforce its order, the issuing court may transfer the order to the court where the motion was made.

(g) Contempt. The court for the district where compliance is required — and also, after a motion is transferred, the issuing court — may hold in contempt a person who, having been served, fails without adequate excuse to obey the subpoena or an order related to it.

August 11, 2016

What is a Default Judgment?

A default judgment is what we get if we don't respond to a lawsuit within the time limit we are given.

If we were sued in Small Claims or District Court, then we have 14 days from the time we were served to respond.

If we were sued in Circuit Court, we have 30 days from the time we were served to respond.

If we don't, then the other side can get a default judgment against us.

This simply means that we didn't show up for our case.

Sometimes people get confused and say, "Well, this isn't a real judgment anyway."

Understand that this is a legitimate judgment.

A default judgment will go on your credit report.

It allows the other side to garnish your wages and bank account.

It can also allow the other side to seize your property and/or car.

The other side can do all of these bad things with a default judgment, just as they could with any other judgment.

Bottom line is you must respond to the lawsuit in time or you will get a default judgment.

We have to take it seriously.

Sometimes people will say, "Well, I'm not going to worry about this judgment, because it can't really hurt me."

However, 5-10 years later, the judgment doubles or triples from the original amount which can be a real problem. All that interest adds up.

And maybe you have a new job or you inherit money or you pay off other debts and now have equity in your house -- that judgment still stalks you through life. It just gets bigger and bigger as it waits for you to have something it can take.

So my suggestion is don't let a default judgment happen. It is one thing if you lose at trial -- but don't lose because you did nothing. If you go to trial, you could lose but you can also win. If you do nothing, you will always lose.

Contact Us

If you have any questions and you live in Alabama, you can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to talking with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

August 10, 2016

“Why is the defendant entitled to see my medical records?”

If we've been in a car wreck, and we're suing the person who ran into us, we may wonder, "Why does the defendant get to see my medical records?"

This is a reasonable question, because we know about HIPPA, which protects our medical privacy.

When we sue the defendant and claim personal injury, they have the right to defend themselves. This includes questioning our claim of damages.

We're looking at a couple different things when we're dealing with a personal injury case.

1.) Did they violate the law?

In other words, were they careless or negligent?

and

2.) Did they hurt you?

It would be unfair to claim that you were hurt because of the defendant, but then refuse to let them see your medical records, at least during a lawsuit.

There are some exceptions, but usually the defendant is allowed to look at your medical records.

If we're taking deposition of a doctor, the doctor needs to see our medical records so that he or she can answer questions accurately and truthfully.

The defendant who caused the wreck can require us to turn over our medical records if we're in a lawsuit with the defendant.

If we're trying to settle with the defendant before filing a lawsuit, then we can decide whether or not we want them to be able to look at our records. There are advantages and disadvantages to letting them look at our records -- we usually let them but never with their form medical releases. We use our own.

Contact Us.

If you live in the state of Alabama and you have any questions about a personal injury claim (unless you already have hired a lawyer), you can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447. We'll be happy to chat with you about your options so you can make the best decision for you.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to talking with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

August 9, 2016

Definition: Auto-dialer

An auto-dialer, also known as a robo-dialer, is a computer that dials numerous people an hour.

A person isn't dialing these numbers.

Usually when they call and we answer, there may be a delay, and often a recording starts playing.

So when you answer these calls, they can either be a recorded message, or it will connect you with a person.

It's important to remember that it's a machine dialing the numbers, because if a company is calling you with an auto-dialer without your permission, then they're violating the TCPA.

One of the requirements for the TCPA to apply is that a company has to have call you using an auto-dialer.

Contact Us.

If you live in Alabama and you have any questions about robo dialed or auto dialed calls to your cell phone, feel free to call us at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to talking with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

August 2, 2016

Definition: Business Days

Business days go by the work week, Monday-Friday.

We often need to know in the law what is meant by a "business day" -- as an example we'll use this in the context of our mortgage company and RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act).

Let's say we send our mortgage company a request for information or a notice of error.

Once those letters are received by the mortgage company, they have 5 business days to acknowledge that they have received them.

If they received those letters on a Tuesday, then they would have until the following Tuesday to acknowledge them.

Unless Monday is a holiday, in which case we would roll over one more day to Wednesday.

The mortgage company also has 30 business days to give us a substantive response.

It's important to understand how business days work, and that the mortgage company has deadlines to respond to you.

Often in litigation we are counting "calendar" days and even in RESPA we use calendar days. For example, we might have 21 calendar days to respond to a motion or an order from the court.

Or in the world of RESPA and mortgages -- we might need to get in a loss mitigation package more than 37 day calendar days from the scheduled foreclosure date.

So we want to make sure as we look at dates and deadlines that we know whether we are dealing with calendar days (regular days) or business days (Monday - Friday). In either event, the general rule is if the last day falls on a weekend or holiday, we go to the next day.

Contact Us.

If you have any questions and you live in Alabama, you can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as we can.

I look forward to chatting with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

July 31, 2016

How do I find out how much insurance the defendant has in a car wreck case in Alabama?

If you've the unfortunate experience of being in a car wreck, you may wonder, "How do I figure out how much insurance the other person has?"

Pretty important question if you need money from the other side to compensate you for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, permanent injury, etc.

There are two scenarios for this question.

One scenario is before a lawsuit, when you're just talking with the insurance company.

If you have not filed a lawsuit against the responsible person, then their insurance company is not required to tell you the amount of insurance.

Although, you can certainly encourage them to tell you. Especially if they want you to negotiate a settlement before filing suit.

The second scenario is if you have filed a lawsuit against the negligent person who caused the car wreck.

They're required to tell you if you're suing them.

They may claim, "Well, we can't let the jury know how much, or that the defendant has insurance. So, we can't tell you."

While it's true that we can't let the jury know about the insurance, that's not the question. The question is are you entitled to know about the amount of insurance when you have sued.

Absolutely.

Don't let these insurance companies play games with you.

While you're just talking with them, before a lawsuit, you're trying to encourage them to tell you the amount so that you can base your settlement off of that amount.

It's important to get this information, because if you have $200,000 in medical bills to pay, you need to know how much you can sue for.

If they only have $50,000, then that helps you to know whether to take the money or to sue and try to get more than the amount of insurance.

However, if they have $1 million in insurance, then you know that their insurance can cover your damages so you won't be tempted by a "low-ball" offer that you might have taken if there was little or no insurance.

Contact Us.

If you live in Alabama and you have any questions, you can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as we can.

I look forwarding to chatting with you.

Have a great day!

-John G. Watts

PS -- Our main personal injury website is being redesigned but this will get your message to us if you fill out the contact form above. Thanks!

July 30, 2016

“What is the Statute of Limitation on an old credit card debt in Alabama?”

When you're dealing with a debt collector or debt buyer who is suing you, you may wonder, "What exactly is the Statute of Limitation on an old credit card debt in Alabama?"

We believe that it's 3 years. This is known as an "open account" -- the credit card had no fixed term. Its not like a car loan (60 months) or a home loan (30 years) -- instead you can use it or pay it down. And then the next month you can use it or pay it down more (as long as make the minimum payments).

However, some collection lawyers believe that it's 6 years that they have to sue on old credit card debt.

Since they believe this, they will sue you under "breach of contract," or "account stated."

Both of these claims have 6 year statute of limitation.

We believe this is wrong as those theories or legal "causes of action" don't apply here, but we also have to realize that they're trying to sue after 3 years if no payment has been made. So they have to come up with some theory to justify what they are doing.

When they do this, we will put statute of limitations as a affirmative defense when we defend ourselves.

Sometimes people will say, "I'm not worried about it, because I read on the internet that the statute of limitation is 3 years."

Well, it is 3 years for an open account.

The real question is whether they can sue you for something beyond 3 years.

We don't want to go into court and naively say, "Judge, it's 3 years for statute of limitation."

Especially when the collection lawyer will be there saying that it's 6 years. We have to be able to answer their arguments.

Here's the secret though . . . The bottom line is that we rarely rely on the statute of limitation in a collection lawsuit.

Most people get so fixated on statute of limitation when there are better defenses that can be used.

Does the debt buyer even own the debt? That's a critical issue in these debt collection cases.

Contact Us.

If you live in the state of Alabama and you have any questions, you can call us at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get back with you as soon as possible.

We will gladly walk you through your 5 options, and help you decide the best course of action.

I look forward to chatting with you.

Have a great day!

-John G. Watts