Debt Litigation Manual – Pre-suit

If you are in the “pre-suit” stage, you are at least pretty sure that you are either going to sue or be sued. Of course this is not true of most debts – a vast majority of them never get litigated at all. But you almost never know for sure whether a debt will, or will not, go to litigation. Therefore you must make efforts to protect your rights.

As soon as the possibility of litigation enters the picture – and for as long as it stays there – you must remember that you are playing by different rules than you would in ordinary life. In ordinary life, for example, people think it admirable to admit your wrongs and try to make them right. To pay at least a little even if you can’t pay it all. And above all to communicate with the other people to minimize bad feelings and maximize possibilities.

This all changes if the possibility of litigation is there. All those usual things would just hurt you then. For example, admitting the debt and trying to work out terms might – and most likely would – constitute an admission that made it easier for them to sue you. And making it easier to sue you means making it more likely. Making any partial payment would “re-age” the debt, making it start all over from the point of view of the statute of limitations.

Thus if litigation seems at all likely, you need to start acting more strategically: make them think that suing and winning isn’t likely or at least that it will be expensive. Any doubts you can encourage about their ability to get any money even if they win are good ones. And if you don’t see how you will pay it all, you probably shouldn’t pay anything.