California Legal News Reports Index
COLLECTION - CALIFORNIA
WHAT DO YOU DO when informal
collection efforts have not succeeded?
it is time to take more aggressive action.
You have several choices how to proceed:
used in this article,
“Debtor” means each person or entity that owes you
Attorney File Lawsuit and Prosecute the Case:
may retain an attorney
and file lawsuit in a Superior Court. The filing fee that the Court
filing such a lawsuit varies from $180.00 to $320.00.
The filing fee is graduated depending on how
much money you seek to recover. The
amount of attorney fees charged and the method of payment will have to
lawsuit is filed, next,
the defendant debtor must be served with the Summons and Complaint. The
hire a process server to do so, depending on how evasive the debtor is,
probably be $50.00 to $150.00.
prevail in your
lawsuit against the debtor, the judgment will include the amount the
determines you are owed, plus the filing fee paid, as well as the
process costs and any other statutory costs.
But the judgment will NOT normally include
your attorney’s fees
incurred, with limited exceptions.
example, if you have a written agreement with an attorney’s
fees clause, you
may be entitled to attorney’s fees.
Furthermore, is you prevail on a
“book account,” you are entitled to
statutorily prescribed attorney’s fees.
debtor chooses to
defend the lawsuit, your attorney’s fees will be greater. If
the debtor chooses
not to defend the lawsuit, a default judgment may be taken against him,
attorneys fees will be less than if the debtor defends the lawsuit.
judgment is obtained
against the debtor or debtors, then you will still have to seek to
money from the debtor, except that, with a judgment in place, you will
powerful post-judgment remedies available to you.
However, you still must pay your attorney to
perform the work necessary to implement these remedies unless you
attempt to implement them yourself.
2. File a Small Claims Action:
you may file a
small claims action in a Superior Court. The maximum amount you can
of early 2007) is $7,500.00. In small claims court, you represent
present the evidence. No
be present in court with you. The filing fee is $75.00.
you prevail at Small
Claims Court, you will obtain a judgment up to the maximum amount of
plus your filing fees and service of process fees.
The defendant debtor(s) has to right to appeal
the decision of the small claims court, which would caused the entire
will be heard a second time at the Superior Court level. On cases where liability
and damages are
clear and undisputed, an appeal by the debtor is unlikely.
have obtained a
judgment against the debtor, the Court will not collect your judgment
for you. But the
court will issue the orders and other
required documents (which you or an attorney prepare and file and serve
defendant) to force the defendant debtor to pay you.
3. File a lawsuit in the Superior
Court in “Pro Per”
(without an attorney of record):
You can file a lawsuit in the
superior court yourself. You can hire an attorney like me to
through the process (and prepare some of the documentation) which can
money because you’ll be making the any court appearances by
than paying an attorney to do so.
4. Write off the Loss.
You can do nothing.
You can confer with your tax professional to
determine what kind of a tax write-off you might be entitled to.
5. Bad Check Restitution Program (Orange
If you are an Orange County
resident, you might qualify for the Orange County bad
check program. The
maximum recovery is $2,500.00 total.
Many other counties in California
have similar programs with
varying amounts of recovery.
6. Contact the District
If the debtor wrote a bad
check, you may seek to have the district attorney prosecute debtor
under Penal Code §470 or
other sections for writing
a bad check. The
Court may might, in
such case, cause the debtor to pay restitution (i.e., pay 100% of the
lieu of criminal prosecution or jail time.
For Orange County cases, see article One
Easy, Free Way to Collect
7. Contact Orange
County Lawyer, Matthew
Tozer at (949) 863-9445 or email him
If you are
having an attorney represent you in a collection matter, please feel
contact my office at the number or email address identified
California Legal News Reports Index