Collecting A Debt?


Disclaimer

This general discussion is for general information and not meant to be legal advice. Every case is unique and a discussion with an attorney is recommended.


Pre-Suit Demands

You may attempt to collect your own debt from a consumer without being subject to the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), but you will be subject to the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) if you are collecting a consumer debt. Therefore, review Florida Statutes 559.55 et seq. for a list of prohibited acts such as using deception or harassing phone calls.


In the vast majority of cases no formal demand is required, but it is often suggested as it allows defenses to be discovered and addressed. You may even get a serious settlement offer! An attorney demand letter enhances the chances of the above. I will send a simple demand letter for an additional $100 above my initial consultation charge of $150.00. If there are negotiations or review of responses to the demand letter, time is charged at my usual rate of $250.00 per hour.


Lawsuit Fees and Costs

Costs of filing suit have risen dramatically. Damages of more than $500 have a filing fee of $185 and go up to as much as $410 for cases above $15,000. There are other miscellaneous court costs depending on the type of case.

Attorney’s fees are not recoverable from the other side unless there is a contract provision or a specific statute providing for them. The frivolous claim or defense statute may occasionally offer some recovery of fees.


Post-Judgment Collection

Getting the judgment can be the easiest part of the case. A client may even obtain a judgment on their own and then seek counsel for advice on collections. Corporations can represent themselves in small claims court, damages up to $5,000, but must retain a licensed attorney for greater amounts. A sole proprietor can represent him or herself in any amount in controversy.


Florida is a debtor friendly state for individuals. See Chapter 222 of the Florida Statutes. If you are going to get a personal guaranty from the officer of a corporation, go to the extra effort of getting the wife or husband to sign it.