General Civil Litigation

PHILLIPS LAW, PLLC and its team represent consumers, debtors and businesses in a variety of areas, including violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”),  consumer law, including class actions on behalf of consumers; Fair Credit Reporting Act issues, including credit repair, identity theft, and litigation under the Fair Credit Reporting Act; injured parties; common law fraud, the Consumer Fraud Act; insurance law; contract disputes; Uniform Commercial Code actions; business and commercial lawsuits; and power of attorney and probate litigation.

Individuals and businesses take risks every day and are the engine that drives the American economy.  We are privileged to represent individuals and small to medium sized corporations in the greatest judicial system in the world.  We often co-counsel with other lawyers to best meet our clients’ needs or refer clients to other firms who will solve their problem.

Occasionally, PHILLIPS LAW, PLLC litigates business claims and lawsuits on an alternative fee arrangement.

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a person who cannot pay their bills gets a new financial start.  The right to file bankruptcy is provided by federal law.  Filing bankruptcy immediately stops your creditors from seeking to collect debts from you.  A completed bankruptcy discharges (“eliminates”) your debts.

What can Bankruptcy Do for Me?

Filing Bankruptcy:

  • Stops wage or bank garnishments, debt collection harassment and similar creditor actions to collect a debt.
  • Stops foreclosure on your home and allows you an opportunity to catch up on missed payments. (Bankruptcy, does not, however, automatically eliminate mortgages and other liens on your property without payment.)
  • Eliminates the legal obligation to pay most or all of your debts.  This is called a “discharge” of debts.  It is designed to give you a fresh financial start.
  • Prevents repossession of your car or other property.

Certain Debts Are Not Eliminated By a Bankruptcy:

Bankruptcy cannot, however, cure every financial problem.  Nor is it the right step for every individual. Bankruptcy will not:

  • Eliminate the rights of “secured” creditors. A “secured” creditor has taken a mortgage or other lien on property to secure the payment of the loan.  Common examples are car loans and home mortgages.  You can force secured creditors to take payments over time in the bankruptcy process and bankruptcy can eliminate your obligation to pay additional money if your property is taken.  Nevertheless, you generally cannot keep the collateral unless you continue to pay the debt.
  • Eliminate debts such as child support, alimony (maintenance), certain other debts related to divorce, guaranteed student loans, court restitution orders, criminal fines and most taxes.
  • Protect cosigners on your debts.  When a relative or friend has co-signed a loan, the cosigner will have to repay the loan.
  • Eliminate debts that arise after bankruptcy has been filed.

What Different Types of Bankruptcy Cases Should I Consider?

There are two types of bankruptcy that most consumers file:

  • Chapter 7 is known as a “straight” bankruptcy or “liquidation”.  It requires a debtor to give up property which exceeds certain limits called “exemptions,” so the property can be sold to pay creditors.
  • Chapter 13 is called “debt adjustment.”  It requires a debtor to file a plan to pay a portion of their debts from current income. The consumer must repay a portion of their debt for a period of three to five years.

Either type of case may be filed individually or by a married couple filing jointly.  The vast majority of debtors who file bankruptcy are entitled to keep all of their assets under the law.

We are a debt relief agency.  We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Protected Income and Assets Under the Law

Certain Income and Assets Are Protected Under the Law Without Filing Bankruptcy 

The typical assets of many consumers are protected without filing bankruptcy.  Income and assets that are protected under the law are “exempt” or protected from creditors.

For instance, the following income is protected under the law if the consumer properly asserts his rights in writing pursuant to the rules under the law after a judgment has been entered against the consumer:

  • Unemployment compensation
  • Social security income because of your age
  • Social security disability income
  • Pension and profit sharing income
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • 75% of all net wages are protected
  • Public assistance

This is a non-exclusive list.

In addition, most individuals’ assets are protected without filing bankruptcy.  For instance the following is protected:

  • Up to $390,000 in equity in your home
  • $4,600 in equity in your vehicle
  • $10,350 in household furniture, appliances and consumer electronics

This is a non-exclusive list.

However, if the consumer fails to assert their rights in a timely fashion after they’ve been garnished, their exemption rights may be lostThat is why it is important to hire an experienced attorney who can protect your income and assets.

If you are garnished you should immediately call an attorney. We want you to call us.

Stopping Garnishments

The procedure for stopping a wage or bank account garnishment is quite specific.  There are specific deadlines if you have income that is protected.  For instance, if your bank account is garnished, you must send copies of 60 days of your bank statements to the debt collector and a notice of your exemption claim to both the collector and the bank within a certain number of days.

The failure to exercise your rights in a timely fashion will result in your funds being garnished.

You may request a hearing on a creditor’s objection to your written exemption claim.

The best way to stop garnishments is to call an experienced attorney.