If debt collection calls are embarrassing, then what will you say about lawsuits? They are scary, expensive, and intimidating. Many consumers are afraid of court cases, lawyers, and judges. As such, they often ignore the lawsuits and don’t file an answer. This makes it easier for debt collection agencies/creditors to obtain a default judgment against the defendant. Once this happens, creditors/debt collection agencies garnish the paycheck of the defendant until the debt is paid off. You can very well understand the effect on the credit rating and financial life of the defendant.
Traditional court hearings are scary and a time-consuming process. A single judge opens and closes around 1400 cases every year. Now the biggest problem with consumer debt is that it is a civil offense. It’s not a criminal offense. Now, many cases, like criminal cases, pretrial detention hearing, abuse, and neglect cases have tight statutory timeframes. Usually, these cases get more preference than consumer debts. As a result, civil cases get delayed and both the plaintiff and the defendant have to wait for a long time.
But this is not right actually because civil cases are as important as criminal cases. The plaintiff and the defendant should get justice, and their time is equally important. There has to be a way to offer a quick and cost-effective way to serve justice. There has to be a way to resolve the cases without going to court.
So what is the way out of this problem?
Well, the answer is, online dispute resolution.
How to avoid going to court when creditors have filed a lawsuit
New Mexico court has launched an online dispute resolution (ODR) as an inexpensive and time-saving alternative to the traditional court tribunals. This online dispute resolution would cater to unsecured debts mainly, which includes credit card debts, payday loans, medical debts, etc.
Online dispute resolution is a smart way to fight back against debt collection harassment due to various reasons. Let’s discuss them one by one.
- It allows both the parties (plaintiff and the defendant) to negotiate with each other through emails. They can fill up a few forms and answer questions within a few taps on a smartphone or laptop or iPad. It helps the defendant to think rationally and frame logical answers. If required, the defendant’s lawyer can give all the answers and help him to contest the case.
- Online dispute resolution offers great flexibility to all the parties. The defendant can send emails after taking care of the kids at night. The litigation lawyer can check all the emails and guide the defendant during normal working hours. See also: How litigation lawyers handle their jobs.
- The plaintiff, defendant, and attorneys are not required to travel hundreds of miles just to attend the case. Consumers and the debt collection agencies don’t have to take a leave from work or leave kids at daycare just for this reason. For some people, $50 matters a lot. They can buy a week’s groceries with that money.
- Since there is no face-to-face interaction, so it becomes easier for the defendant to deal with the case. There are no heated up arguments. Plus, the defendant doesn’t have to face all the questions thrown by the attorney straightway. Many consumers get confused, embarrassed, puzzled, and nervous while answering the tricky questions thrown by the attorney in the court. This makes their case weak. In the online dispute resolution, consumers feel less intimated and can answer all the questions confidently.
- Online dispute resolution is an expensive process because the defendant doesn’t have to pay a penny to the mediator. The defendant has to pay only the settlement cost. Nothing else.
- Often, defendants represent themselves a court owing to various reasons. Some can’t afford a good litigation lawyer whereas others can’t find an experienced attorney in their locality. Online dispute resolution gives them an option to complete the process easily. See also: How, and how much, do lawyers charge?
- A lot of consumers don’t want to contest the debt collection lawsuit. They acknowledge the debt but don’t have any idea of how to pay it off. For these people, it’s a sheer waste of time to visit the court where they get tensed and anxious. An online dispute resolution is a stress-free option for them. The defendant can consult with his lawyer and figure out a way to settle debt.
Good news for the other states as well
Online dispute resolution will soon be available in other states as well. Some states have already launched a few programs to resolve debt collection lawsuits smoothly. But undoubtedly, online dispute resolution is the best program so far.
Online dispute resolution is already used in Nevada to resolve divorce cases without any added stress. In Utah, it is used for resolving both consumer debt disputes and small claim cases. Hopefully, the system will be used in other states soon and provide much-needed relief to stressed-out consumers.
No one wants to visit a court. This is probably why private sectors have been using online dispute resolution for so many years. They use it to resolve disputes between buyers and sellers. It saves both time and money.
It’s high time courts shed their inhibitions and accept online dispute resolution for the sake of all the parties – judges, consumers, and the debt collection agencies.
To sum up,
Online dispute resolution offers various benefits to all the parties involved in a debt collection lawsuit. Consumers get a chance to fight back against debt collection harassment without burning fuel or wasting time. Attorneys can guide their clients even at midnight, and the judges can resolve the cases quickly. Judges have loads of pending cases. They can close the pending cases quickly.
Please keep in mind that an online dispute resolution is only an alternative option. The state and federal governments have not made it mandatory. So if consumers want to opt for the traditional court hearings, then that option is also open.