Frequently Asked Questions
Can you collect the money owed to me?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions at the start of each case and there is no simple answer. Any lawyer who blindly says “yes” without investigating the facts of the case and the debtor is being less than honest. Simply put, not all debts are collectible. Collectibility depends on several factors but the two most important ones are: (1) documentation of the debt; and (2) the financial condition of the debtor. If someone owes you money but you can’t prove it, it will be difficult to obtain judgment. Determining the financial condition of the debtor is what our office attempts to do at the outset of your case. If we deem a debt to be uncollectible, we will advise you of the same right away and not waste your time and money in pursuing collection. Not all debts/judgments are collectible. Debtors do file bankruptcy (and get their debts discharged). With that said, our 35 years of experience has proven to us that if anyone can collect on your debt, we can. Why? Because our business is collections and our track record speaks for itself. Moreover, when working on a contingency fee arrangement (which is the predominant fee agreement utilized), if we don’t collect, we don’t get paid.
How do you charge for your services?
There are several different types of fee arrangements that the client can choose. They are as follows: (1) Contingency fee - a contingency fee means that we are entitled to a percentage of the amount that we collect for you. (2) Flat Fee - we handle your case for a guaranteed fixed fee. The fee is paid in advance or in installments as phases of the case are completed. (3) Hourly fee - this arrangement is calculated by the hours spent working on the case multiplied by an hourly rate. (4) Hybrid fee - this is a blend of the hourly or flat fee and contingency fee arrangements. Here, we are paid a negotiated flat fee or on an hourly basis at a discounted rate lower than our standard hourly rates. At the end of the case, we also receive a discounted contingency from what you collect or save. (5) Costs and Expenses - costs and expenses are typically incurred in every case in order to obtain judgment and/or to enforce judgment. These costs and expenses are typically borne by the client and are paid as and when incurred.
Do I need a lawyer to collect my money?
If the debtor is not paying you after your repeated requests for payment, then the answer is obvious - yes, you do need a lawyer. Our legal team will help you locate the judgment debtor and determine whether the judgment debtor has any ability to pay the debt owed or judgment you have obtained. We utilize some of the best resources available to skip trace (locate) the debtor and to discover, attach and collect on any assets that they may have in order to collect the money you are owed and/or enforce your judgment. Aside from the 35 years of experience, tools and techniques we utilize, we know the law and can help you avoid any legal pitfalls along the way.
How long will it take for me to start seeing money?
That depends on a few variables such as the amount of the debt involved, in what judicial venue the debt is to be enforced, client involvement and the debtor’s assets. Generally speaking, we have obtained collections results from as quick as one day after filing a lawsuit to up to one year. If a case is contested and a trial is necessary, it takes approximately one year for the case to go to trial under the current system of judicial administration in the State of California . If a case is not contested by a debtor, a judgment can generally be obtained within three to six months after the filing of a complaint. It is our goal to file the lawsuit immediately, get the debtor served within 45 days, obtain a judgment within four months from the initial filing and then proceed to enforce the judgment immediately afterwards.
How involved do I have to be in order to collect my money?
This depends on the complexity of the case. We will specially craft the best and most efficient course for litigation designed for the level of involvement you desire. For example, if the debt and litigation process is straightforward and you just want to sit by the beach and get paid, you may need to provide us with as little as the name of the debtor, amount of debt, copies of any contracts evidencing the debt and last known address of the debtor. From there, you will likely only need to sign a few declarations and other documents (typically no more than two or three) and then sit back until we send you your money! We are available in person, by telephone, by e-mail, and by fax, but most clients enjoy the fact that they can just e-mail us without the hassle of ever having to leave the comfort of your own home!
If I hire you, how will I be notified of the status of my case?
One of our top priorities in representing our clients is our accessibility to them. Our firm promises to respond to all communications that are made to our office during business hours within one business day from the date that they are received by our office. Typically, we respond to all inquiries within the same business day that they are received in our office. For our Fortune 500 clients, for whom we handle several hundreds of cases, we can provide a custom status report that is typically updated on a daily basis and even provide limited electronic access (via a secured ftp site) to our network in order for them to continually monitor the status of the work that we have performed on their files.
What do I need to do to get started with your office?
It is as simple as contacting us by phone or email ("see the "Contact Us" tab above) and providing us with all pertinent information regarding your situation. Typically, that will include a brief description of the debt owed to you, the amount owed, and when it became due. You will also need to send us the document(s) that evidence the debt owed to you. From there, we will evaluate and discuss your claim with you. If we both decide to proceed with the collection of the debt that is owed to you, we will prepare a retainer agreement for you to sign. Once the retainer agreement is signed and returned to us with the necessary costs, we can proceed to pursue your claim as necessary. Retaining our services will be as painless and easy as we can possibly make it for you.
What do you do to collect a debt?
If the debt is not barred by the applicable Statute of Limitations, we will prepare and file a lawsuit, have the debtor served with the lawsuit, and obtain judgment. From there we then utilize the entire spectrum of post-judgment remedies available to creditors. These include wage garnishment, attachment of property, bank levies, installation of a sheriff’s keeper or a receiver, debtor’s examination, etc. In any event, we strive to aggressively collect on the debt and typically do not limit ourselves to a single remedy.