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Is it possible to settle out of court with a law office

Is it possible to...

Is it possible to settle out of court with a law office (plaintiff) who is suing for debt collection under $10k?

Lawyer's Assistant: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

California state, county of Riverside Superior court

Lawyer's Assistant: Has anything been filed or reported?

Yes a civil lawsuit for debt collection. Was summoned on Sunday for a court date in April

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Attempted to make payment arrangement with collection agency / law firm upon receipt of 1st letter of collection in December. The case representative stated that my file was in the process of being completed and once it was completed I could set up a payment plan. I never heard another thing, and called and left messages 4 times from January to February. I began saving money so that I could offer a lump sum up front and set up payments for the remainder. Total debt is $5,900

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Answered in 5 minutes by:
3/8/2018
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10,210
Experience: Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Because I want to provide you with the most accurate answer possible, do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
please review my question

Thanks for your patience. The answer to your question is yes. Sometimes, just settling the debt is the easiest thing to do. It doesn't always appear as if it's the easiest thing to do, but every single day lawyers across the country are explaining to their clients that if they just work on settling their debts in a way that makes sense for them and they are going to be in a better position in the long-term. To facilitate your situation, there’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template for debt settlement (click here). It's a bit easier (and cheaper) than going through litigation and I have seen it be effective in the past. If you send this letter and they do not respond, then try sending it again to remind them that settling is really what resolving disputes is all about.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
even though I've been served with a summons, I can still settle out of court? So do I need to file anything with the courts to let them know this is what I'm doing? Does the attorney also file something with the courts to let them know that is what we are doing? I already have a court date according to my summons, how does that work if the plaintiff and I settle out of court?

Oh yes absolutely. That's when most settlements occur. Have you filed an answer to the summons yet?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
No, I just downloaded the PLD-C-010 and am attempting to fill it out so that I can go file it. But I was worried that once I do this I wouldn't be able to settle out of court.

I see.

The first thing that is important to do is to respond to the lawsuit and I have some instructions below. California requires you file within 30 days after the lawsuit is filed, meaning there isn’t a lot of time to do so. One thing that you can do is click here to purchase a template “Response to Creditor Lawsuit” that you can edit to your liking, make three copies, and file that in the same court where the lawsuit was initiated. Keep in mind that even if you are responding to a lawsuit, most courts require a filing fee. The court will stamp that the docs have been received. The court will keep one copy of the received document and the court will give you back stamped copies of the others (one for you to keep and one for you to serve).

When you get those documents, you should go to www.thumbtack.com and find a process server. A process server is a person who will serve a copy of the lawsuit on the other party. Service is required when you are suing someone for almost all papers you file with the court. A process server must be at least 18 years old and not involved in the case in any way. If you have a friend or family member who can do it, they can serve it for you, too. Otherwise, most process servers charge something like 50-100 dollars. Once service is complete, the process server will typically have to file a “proof of service” form to swear to the court that they filed the documents.

In the meantime, the court will set up court dates like the case management conference (where the parties update the court as to the process of the case). You will also have a chance to conduct “discovery” with the other party. The basic discovery process is a good tool for people involved in a lawsuit to find out information the other party has. Discovery usually can’t begin until about 10-14 days after filing the initial complaint, depending on your jurisdiction. Through the discovery process you can usually a) request documents to help your case; b) conduct a deposition (which is a formal interview of certain parties); c) request admissions to certain things so there is less time wasted at a potential trial.

Regardless, sometimes, just settling the debt is the easiest thing to do\ as I mentioned and you can settle even up to five minutes before a trial.

Did you have any other questions for me today?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thanks, ***** ***** have another question. So yes I do want to and intend on settling the debt. There were extenuating circumstances that led to my defaulting, which I know they won't care about and it doesn't take away the fact that I owe the money. But to settle the debt, as you mentioned, I would have to come up with the entire $5,900? I want to settle, but I have only saved up $1,700, which I planned on paying as a measure of good faith and then set up a payment plan for the remaining amount. So if I do this how do I let the courts know that we (the plaintiff and myself) have come to a payment agreement? And if I have to go to court, I understand that I am liable for court fees and their lawyer fees? Is there a cheaper way, other than settling the debt 100% now?
Well, one of the things to keep in mind is that many times creditors will consider your hardship in determining whether they're going to take a settlement. Every creditor I have worked with has requested some sort of hardship letter from the debtors so I think that you should keep that in mind. In addition, if you and the other party come to a settlement, the Creditor would likely have you sign a settlement agreement that they will file with the courts. The settlement agreement will accompany a request for a dismissal of the entire action. If you go to court and you lose you would then be liable for court fees and attorney's fees potentially, but that is up to the court to determine whether they are going to Grant those. In almost all cases, a creditor is only going to want what is owed and most of the time they will settle for anywhere between 50% to 65% of the balance.
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you for your time and responses, it has helped clear some things up for me. I appreciate it, have a good rest of your day.
You bet!
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