How do attorney’s fees help in my case against a debt collector?
We sue abusive debt collectors who violate the FDCPA.
There is a portion of FDCPA that allows you to recover attorney’s fees.
This means the debt collector not only has to pay their attorney, but they must also pay your attorney.
How does this help you get cases settled?
Attorney fee-shifting, where we shift the fees from you to the collector, definitely helps settle a case. The debt collectors are very aware of the attorney fees.
You may have an incredibly valuable case under the FDCPA. However, typically the FDCPA cases brought around the country are not huge cases.
They may be worth $5,000 to $50,000 – not normally million dollar cases.
But if you go through trial and all the way through arbitration, you may accumulate attorney’s fees of $100,000 or $150,000.
At the end of your trial, the debt collection company is required to pay this.
The debt collection companies evaluate this a say, “What should we do?”
They know they have been caught breaking the law and have been sued.
Should they settle now, while attorney’s fees are low?
Or should they let those attorney fees build up until they are $150,000 and then have to pay all that money at the end?
Some debt collectors say they are happy to pay the money to send a message that if you sue them they will fight you all the way until the end.
This approach is sometimes called the Stalingrad Defense. This name comes from the very vicious battle from WWII, were the Soviets fought over every square inch of the city.
Just as the Soviets fought over every inch of the city, some debt collectors will fight you over every little thing and make it difficult.
They want you to know that if you sue them, it will be a nightmare to deal with them.
OK, that’s fine. But at the end of the case when our fees are enormous, those defendants will say it is so unfair for them to pay so much money and say the case shouldn’t have been so complicated.
The judge will say they shouldn’t have fought over every little tiny thing in the case.
Most of these defendants know when they have been caught and they make a business decision: a fair settlement for the consumer, for the lawyer, then the lawsuit done with.
This is a little different from personal injury.
For example, we could have an insurance company in a car wreck case who does not want to settle and pay out any money. They know their client ran the red light and broke your leg, but they do not want to pay any money.
This would be unusual, but they could take that position.
When going to trial for personal injury there is no fee-shifting. The case is worth what the case is worth.
Presumably, at trial, we would get significantly more money than we would in a settlement.
There are ways to bring up the fact that the client is suffering and the defendant refuses to pay anything.
But there is no direct hammer against the insurance company in the sense of fee-shifting to encourage them to settle.
The smart ones will realize this and decide to reach a reasonable settlement before this thing gets completely out of control.
It is in their best interest not to drag things out.
We hope this is helpful to you!
If you live in Alabama and you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us.
We would be glad to help you in any way we can.
You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447, or you can fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you quickly.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!