Apparently, its bank account garnishment week here in Pennsylvania. We’ve been inundated with calls from consumers who have had their bank accounts garnished. In some cases, the consumer didn’t even realize that they had been sued. We’ll be attacking the judgments on those ones for sure. In many cases, however, the consumer did realize that they were sued and did realize that there was a judgment against them. They just didn’t pay the judgment. Several of these judgments are very old and the consumer either forgot about them or thought that nothing would happen. “How can they come after me now, the statute of limitations has expired…” Well, no, it hasn’t. The statute of limitations applies to the amount of time within which the creditor has to sue you. Generally, its 4 years from the date of the breach of the agreement (the date of default). Once they have a judgment, the judgment is good for 20 years. So if you haven’t paid a judgment from years ago, please know that your bank account can be garnished literally at any second.
Once you receive the garnishment, contact us right away. We can review the documentation for errors to see if the judgment can be attacked. We’ve found several instances just this week where the lawsuit notices were defective. If we can attack the judgment, the garnishment goes away. One client called us with a $14,000 judgment from 2007. We reviewed the court pleadings and discovered that the Notice to Defend and the Important Notice were defective, that is, lacking certain information. The judgment will be attacked through a Motion to Strike and we will be successful with the case from there. On another case, we found that the client was never served with the lawsuit. The court docket actually reflects that our client wasn’t served. Clearly, the court should not have entered judgment against this person, but hey, mistakes do happen. We’ll be attacking that judgment as well.
Sometimes, there is nothing that we can do with a bank account garnishment. If you are sued and you lose, then you fail to pay the judgment, the creditor can attempt to garnish a bank account. If the funds are yours and you do not qualify for any exceptions, the bank will give the money to the creditor. One common exception that we should talk about is the marital exception. If you are married and have both spouses names on the bank account, generally, it cannot be garnished. I say “generally” because in most cases the creditor has sued only one of the spouses. The only way that the creditor could touch the marital account is if they were able to sue both spouses and obtain judgments against both of them. For the credit card cases that we most often see, the creditor cannot sue both spouses.
Please contact our office at 412-348-8600 if you are facing a bank account garnishment.