John F. Hayter, Attorney At Law, P.A.
Florida Collections & Litigation Attorneys
Frequently Asked Questions
We have found that a large number of our clients in the beginning of their relationship with our law firm, have many of the same questions. For this reason we offer this Frequently Asked Questions page and encourage you to review these commonly asked questions. It is our hope that this information will help you quickly find helpful answers and make prompt and effective decisions regarding your uncollected debts. If you don’t find an answer to your question on this page, we invite you to contact us so we can get you the answers you need and help you collect the money you are owed.
Do you have a deadbeat in your life, and in your pocket? Let us help you determine how to get them out!
What if I don't have my debtor's date of birth, social security number, etc.?
If you know your debtor’s name, approximate age and the general area in which that person lives or works, the odds are we can find that person for you. At this law firm our experienced staff utilizes state-of-the-art Internet search engines to locate not only your debtor but that individual’s or company’s assets, place of employment or operation, and banks. We also put our time-tested and experience-based statewide network of contacts to work for you to maximize the odds that we not only find your debtor but collect every last penny that you are owed.
When is the best time to hire the John F. Hayter firm to go to work for me?
The old saying is “There’s no time like the present!” and that applies more than ever when you are owed and need your money. This is because as soon as a debtor fails to pay you in a timely fashion the money that you are owed starts becoming worth less and less. Additionally, the more time that is allowed to pass before you do anything about collecting your money the greater likelihood that the debtor will become more difficult to find, start hiding assets or begin taking steps to put assets beyond your reach. For all of these reasons, you should start looking for help as soon as your debtor breaks that first “promise” to you.
How long do I have to file suit?
Generally speaking in Florida, a debt based on a verbal (non-written) promise is good for four years from the time it was first due to be paid. If the promise upon which the debt is based is in writing, you usually have five years from the time the debt was due or the date of the last payment, if made before the first five years runs out. The time within which you can file suit can also be extended if your debtor can be proven to have been out of the state, hiding from you or using a false name to hinder your ability to find them. Some other issues may also give you more time to file suit, but if you are at all concerned about whether your time is running out, CALL OUR LAWYERS WITHOUT DELAY!
What is a judgment and how long is it good for?
In Florida a judgment is a judicial statement or declaration that a debtor owes you, the judgment creditor, a certain amount of money. The fact that a judgment has been entered controls who the money can be collected from, how much interest is accruing on the debt and from what point in time, and the remedies that are available to the person or business to whom the money is owed.
With regard to interest, unless you have a written agreement that says you are entitled to a particular rate of interest on your judgment, it accrues interest at a rate that is set by the State of Florida at the beginning of each year (for 2010 the “official” rate is 6%).
Once entered and properly recorded in the official records of the county in which the debtor owns property, the judgment creates a “lien” against the debtor’s real property (land) that is not otherwise exempt (such as, but not limited to, the debtor’s home). Generally speaking, this lien can be foreclosed (like a mortgage) or the judgment creditor can have the sheriff of the county “levy” on the property in question. The judgment can also serve as the basis for a garnishment of the debtor’s non-exempt wages or bank accounts. There are many variations on what can and cannot be seized, and since the success or failure of each case turns on its particular set of facts, you should have a thorough discussion with an attorney about whether your judgment can be successfully collected. For this reason you are invited to CALL JOHN F. HAYTER, ATTORNEY AT LAW, P.A., WITHOUT DELAY!
Judgments in Florida are good for 20 years and can be renewed for additional 20 year periods so long as you take action to do so within the first 20 year period. The lien referred to above, however, is only good for 10 years from the date of recording, but it too can be renewed. For these reasons you are encouraged to contact our law firm today to ensure that your judgment does not expire or otherwise become worthless.
Can I submit a claim over the Internet?
Yes, by simply completing our Claims Form you can submit your claim to our legal team for review. When we receive the completed Judgment Enforcement Form or Pre-judgment Claim Enforcement Form the information you provided will be reviewed and evaluated to determine whether we believe your claim is collectible. Once this review is complete you will be notified of our findings and willingness to undertake collection on your behalf and the terms for such representation. The review, however, is free!
What are "the odds" that I can collect?
No one can accurately predict whether your debt, be it a pre-suit obligation or one on which a judgment has already been entered, can be collected. When you submit your claim to our law firm for consideration, we can make an informed judgment, based on the information you provide, as to whether your situation warrants our investing time and money into the collection process. If your case appears recoverable, you can be assured that we will bring our years of experience and expertise to bear on the situation in order that your chances of recovery are maximized.
Are there advantages in agreeing to accept installment payments or a reduced amount for my claim?
In many cases, shortly after a suit is filed, the debtor wants to make a payment arrangement because the amount of money necessary to pay off the entire debt is just not available. Such a payment arrangement may include the “freezing”, or waiving of interest so long as payments are made in a timely fashion. You may also be asked to reduce the amount that you are seeking to collect. When such arrangements are proposed our firm will evaluate whether it is in your best interest to agree or not and make appropriate recommendations. Often our recommendations will be influenced by the relative strength of your claim, whether the debtor is willing to offer security (collateral) for the deal and the significance of any defenses that the debtor might have to the claim (i.e. weaknesses in your written agreement with the debtor or possible statute of limitation problems relating to your claim). We will also sometimes recommend that you agree to such settlement arrangements to avoid prolonged litigation and get a payment stream going. An agreement may also serve in exchange for the debtor waiving exemptions that may exist to the enforcement of the debt (such as exemptions to garnishment of wages or bank accounts or to levies on property owned by the debtor). In all such cases a Florida judgment collection attorney in our firm will help guide and advise you relative to the wisdom of making a deal or not.
What can be done about "bad" checks?
In Florida when a check is returned for insufficient funds there can be serious financial consequences for the person that writes the check. These consequences can include having to pay as much as FOUR TIMES the amount of the check as well as the attorneys fees incurred by the person to whom the check is given. To accomplish such a result, however, it is necessary that the check writer be given an appropriate written notice and the opportunity to pay before a suit is filed. When you contact our law firm we will advise you on how to best enforce your rights when you have been given a bad check.
How can I collect the fees I have to pay my lawyer from my debtor, whether in a pursuit case or when collecting my judgment?
In Florida you are only entitled to collect attorneys fees from a person that owes you money if you have a written contract with the person or if you are entitled by a particular court rule or statute that provides for the collection of attorneys fees. When evaluating your claim our law firm will always consider and advise you relative to the recovery of attorneys fees along with your debt.