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Regular people can, and do, appear in court all of the time without an attorney. This is very important, because not everybody can afford a lawyer. But can a person representing themselves ask for an award of attorney’s fees? Read on to learn more.

What is a Pro Se Litigant?

Courts describe self-represented parties as “pro se” or “in pro per” litigants. These are latin phrases that basically mean “for oneself.”

Importantly, courts require self-represented parties to follow all of the same rules that lawyers must follow. While not impossible, this can make it difficult for a pro se party to effectively navigate the court process.

But what happens when a pro-se litigant wins their lawsuit? Can they ask for money for acting as their own attorney?

Attorney’s Fees in Lawsuits

Most courts follow the “American Rule.” This says that each side to a lawsuit will pay for their own lawyers fees and costs. In other countries, the losing party will pay for all of the legal bills. But not here in America.

However, there are two main exceptions to the American Rule. Some laws specifically allow the winning party to ask for attorney’s fees. And contracts can also allow the winning party to a lawsuit to ask for court fees and costs. In these two cases, a winning party can petition the court for an award of attorney’s fees.

Self-Represented Parties Can’t Usually Win Attorney’s Fees

In most cases, a self-represented party cannot ask the court for an award of attorney’s fees. Of course, there are exceptions to this (and every) rule. But here in California, the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that a party to a civil lawsuit can’t claim attorney’s fees unless they actually incurred the fees.

Since a pro-se party didn’t actually pay any attorney’s fees, they cannot later ask the court for a reimbursement of those fees. If you consult with an attorney and actually pay for some services, those fees may be recoverable.

Court costs are treated differently. For instance, a self-represented party can still ask for reimbursement of their court filing fee if they win.

People often co-sign debts without realizing that there can be severe consequences down the road. For instance, a lender can sue a co-signor if the primary borrower defaults. Read on to learn more about these insidious lawsuits.

Co-Signing a Loan is Very Serious

Co-signing on a loan for a friend or family member seems like a simple way to help. However, not everybody realizes that a co-signor is 100% legally obligated on the account. This means that a lender can legally collect the account from the co-signor in the event that the primary debtor defaults.

Lenders allow co-signors because it gives the lender an additional person from whom the lender can collect money. Some people mistakenly believe that they are merely lending their credit score to a loan application.

Co-signing a loan for a friend, distant relative, or boyfriend/girlfriend can be especially dangerous. You really do not want to get left holding the bag on a car loan for an ex. That just is not fair at all!

Lenders Can Sue You Over Co-Signed Debts

Let’s pretend that a debtor stops making payments on a car loan. You co-signed the car loan. The lender can legally go after both the original borrower and you as the co-signor. In fact, the lender doesn’t even need to sue the original borrower. A lender can file a lawsuit solely against the co-signor!

A co-signor doesn’t have very many defenses in court. The co-signor agreed to be liable on the loan. A co-signor can try to file their own lawsuit against the original borrower. But that is an expensive and time-consuming process.

The Easy Solution

The easiest solution to this problem is simple. A person should not co-sign loans! Lenders are giving less and less importance to co-signors on loans these days. This means that adding a co-signor to a loan only marginally increases the chance of the loan being approved. But as I discussed above, the consequences for a co-signor can be huge.

Bankruptcy might be a good option for a person facing a lawsuit over a co-signed debt. There is absolutely no realistic reason why a person should pay off a car loan for someone else.

Call my office today at (916) 333-2222 to discuss your bankruptcy options if you are being sued over a co-signed debt. 

Credit Bureau Associates is a prolific filer of lawsuits all over California. The company is a debt collector located in Fairfield. Read on to learn more about these lawsuits.

Debt Collectors Can File Lawsuits Against Defaulted Debts

A debtor collector is someone that tries to enforce a defaulted debt. A debt collector might be working on behalf of the original creditor. But a debt collector might have also purchased the debt (usually at a discount). In that case, the debtor collector is said to “hold” the debt for themselves.

A debt collector can collect the full value of an account even if the collector purchased it at a discount. In fact, a collector stands in the shoes of the original creditor. A debt collector has all of the same rights as the original creditor.

Credit Bureau Associates Often Sues

Not everyone voluntarily repays debts that they owe. This is especially true when a debt collector is invovled. In those situations, collectors can file lawsuits to try to recover the debt.

Credit Bureau Associates files lawsuits all over California. In fact, Credit Bureau Associates have sued many of my bankruptcy clients. Often times they are pursuing very old accounts. These cases can force people into bankruptcy. Aggressive collection tactics can have a ruinous effect on a person’s livelihood.

You Must Take Immediate Action If You Are Sued

Do not ignore notice of a lawsuit! California law requires a plaintiff to serve legal paperwork on a defendant in a lawsuit. This is to make sure that a defendant has actual notice of the lawsuit.

However, plaintiffs don’t always ensure that defendants receive adequate notice of a lawsuit. Sometimes plaintiffs will mail documents to the debtor’s last known address. Occasionally, a person facing a lawsuit will receive solicitations from other attorneys.

In any event, a defendant facing a lawsuit needs to take immediate acting. Failing to act will result in a judgment, wage garnishments, and bank levies.

Has Credit Bureau Associates sued you? Don’t delay! You have options. Call my office at (916) 333-2222 to set up a consultation.