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Complex Collections: Do I Need a Collections Attorney?

A common misconception in our industry is that the fight is over once the court rules a judgment. Unfortunately, the judgment is only a piece of paper that awards you damages unless you can successfully collect the assets or finances from the losing party. The court does not take ownership of this process or ensure that your judgment constitutes a lien on a debtor’s funds or assets. All the hard work, time, and money that was spent leading up to the judgment are futile without the collections process. In most litigated cases, the losing party will not amicably pay its debts. This is when you need a collections attorney to force the process.


When should I hire a collections attorney?


Whether you’re seeking an aggressive ruling in court or opting for a settlement, it’s advantageous to hire a collections attorney. Ideally, it’s best to consult with a lawyer before you submit your final judgment, and before you reach a settlement. The language must be precisely chosen in order to avoid a judgment that could be ignored or not enforceable. Further, in the event of a settlement, you want to be sure that the language of your settlement deems your settlement will maximize the chances of your debt being determined to be non-dischargeable if the debtor chooses to try to evade payment by filing for bankruptcy.


A collections attorney can also advise you on what decision makes the most sense from a business perspective. A good litigation lawyer can fight all day to win a case, but if there aren’t assets that are available to pay the debt, it’s not worth your while. Our ultimate goal is to achieve the best resolution that makes sense for you financially.


Why should I hire a collections attorney if I already won my case?


At the end of the day, your judgment is only as good as your collections effort. The successful litigation is the first half of the fight, but there is a full second half during the collections process before you can declare a victory. Most lawyers do not know how to maximize the chances of recovery in a collections case.


In some cases, collections can be judgments of a million dollars or more, and it’s rarely a straightforward approach. You want an attorney who has experience in complicated collections matters with sophisticated parties. It’s essential to bring in expert counsel who knows how to navigate the specific matters between competing parties.


At Michael H. Moody Law, we’ve handled complex, multi-million dollar, high-stakes collections that involved an intricate and comprehensive review of where assets might be located. From tracing assets to build a case to uncovering a 90 million dollar scam, we have the expertise to understand the rules of procedure and know how to play the game.


What does a collections attorney do?


During the court proceedings, the losing party typically is required to complete an information disclosure statement that lists their assets; but in some cases, they may have transferred assets in an effort to protect them from being seized. In other cases, the losing party is not truthful in its disclosures.


Collections attorneys conduct discovery to uncover the assets of the opposing party through requests, written affidavits, document exchanges, and by third-party subpoenas to others who know where the debtor’s assets are located. This might come in the form of bank accounts, garnishing wages, seizing property such as a car or real estate, or a more complicated asset discovery. We use our industry knowledge to develop a customized collection process.


What if my debtor declares bankruptcy?


If the debtor declares bankruptcy, you can still collect your winnings from the trial. In many cases, bankruptcy actually opens up a new arsenal of tools that we can use, sometimes with more aggressive penalties depending on the circumstances. Many people are under the assumption that filing bankruptcy will extinguish the collection effort, but that’s not always the case. Bankruptcy is a good solution for the honest debtor, but for someone with questionable motives who is concealing assets, it will do the exact opposite. Each situation depends on the facts of the case, but ultimately we’ll coordinate with the trustee appointed to the bankruptcy in order to collect your debts.


Collecting the judgment can sometimes be as difficult, or more difficult, than the litigation. In complex collection situations, it’s usually most favorable to consult with a collections attorney. We’ll put our experience and industry knowledge to work in order to achieve a resolution. Get in touch with our team to learn if our specialized expertise is the right fit to fight your case.

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