If a debtor is seeking damages for a violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the facts or circumstances of the case largely determine what types of damages he or she can receive.
Depending on the level of harassment, how much distress the collection activities brought the claimant and whether he or she incurred sustainable damage, the compensation received in an FDCPA claim can vary. Here is a general idea of what is involved in FDCPA damages.
We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
The first type of damages a complainant can seek are statutory damages. Under the FDCPA, for debtors are entitled to receive up to $1,000 in statutory damages in each lawsuit.
These damages are issued even if the debtor did not sustain any real loss as a result of the FDCPA violation. The award is not given on a per instance basis but rather a per law suit basis, and it is allowed in all FDCPA claims.
In addition to statutory damages, the debtor can also receive actual damages. These damages are those that can be tied directly to an actual monetary loss resulting from the debt collector’s FDCPA claim. The damages that are included in actual damages include physical distress, emotional distress, and lost wages.
Any damages that come from the intentional infliction of distress that has had a negative impact on the debtor’s physical and emotional well-being can be considered damages. Physical manifestations from the stress can include heart-related problems, depression and anxiety, insomnia, and other medical conditions.
Emotional distress can come from problems that have stemmed from the constant harassment including harm to the debtor’s relationships with family and other loved ones. Medical bills are often good evidence for submission of physical damages, as are psychological treatment bills for emotional distress.
If the stress has also caused the debtor to lose work or to be fired from his or her job, lost wages can be claimed as an actual damage. The main crux of any actual damage is to show a connection between the illegal collections tactics and behavior and measurable damages sustained.
If no damages can be proven, then the court will not have a good idea on what to assess.
Attorney’s Fees and Court Costs
In addition, if a claimant is successful in bringing forth an FDCPA claim, he or she can receive “reasonable” compensation for attorneys’ fees and court costs. This means that the debt collector is essentially responsible for the costs of having to bring the FDCPA claim due to the creditor’s illegal tactics.
The fear of having to pay attorney’s fees upfront can often keep claimants from pursuing a valid claim. This part of the FDCPA helps alleviate some of that worry and gives the debtor relief in an otherwise helpless situation. It also guarantees that the attorney will receive payment for the work done on the case.
Granted, the work will need to be “reasonable,” given the facts of the case, meaning if the damages were not too significant, an attorney cannot get away with exorbitant bills including depositions and hours of work.
It all depends on the type of case involved and the facts at hand when it comes to figuring out what is considered a reasonable legal expense.
Review Evidence and Evaluate Claim
A consumer attorney can go through the evidence that a debtor has before submitting it all to the court and evaluate the claim. Many debtors will not truly understand the types of damages they can claim and will believe they may not even have a claim at all.
By having an attorney review the damages incurred and the behavior exhibited by the debt collector, the debtor may have more of a chance of receiving what he or she deserves.
The fact that attorney’s fees are covered by an FDCPA claim simply makes this possible for individuals facing harsh situations regarding debt collections.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you find yourself dealing in the middle of stressful debt collection proceedings and you have questions about what types of damages you could receive through an FDCPA claim.
It may be time for you to talk with an attorney about your situation and what you can do to stop the harassment as soon as possible. An attorney can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed.
Contact an attorney experienced in fair debt collections proceedings to schedule a consultation today.