At The Dellutri Law Group, we sue harassing creditors and debt collectors all the time. There is both state and federal law that clearly states the actions that are not allowed with respect to collecting on debt.
The state statute on that topic is known as the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). The FCCPA states that if anyone attempts to collect a debt in violation of its provisions, the debtor is entitled to actual damages, statutory damages, and the attorney’s fees and costs incurred with having to bring suit to enforce his or her rights. Most of those categories for damages are easily quantifiable.
Statutory damages are up to $1,000 pursuant to the statute, and the attorney you hire to file the lawsuit will be keeping meticulous track of his or her fees and costs. What are actual damages though—and how do you calculate them? Actual damages (sometimes called compensatory damages) are damages you’ve incurred that you can show were caused by the other party’s wrongful conduct.
For example, in a personal injury lawsuit, if someone hits you with their car and causes $5,000 in damage to your vehicle and further causes you $5,000 in medical bills, your actual damages are $10,000.
But that can be tricky to figure out in an FCCPA lawsuit because frequently the “damage” a debtor has sustained is just aggravation, annoyance, embarrassment, frustration, fear, depression, etc. Those are all emotional damages that are hard to put a price on. However, any damage you’ve sustained as a result of a harassing debt collector is potentially recoverable in an FCCPA lawsuit.
Think about each time you got a harassing phone call or letter. What happened as a result? Did you have to pay anything out of pocket? Here are some common scenarios that might help you add up your actual damages:
- Did you become so distressed as a result of a harassing creditor/debt collector that you needed to see a medical professional or purchase medication? The money you paid for treatment/medication may very well be actual damages.
- Did you have to miss work for any reason as a result of the creditor/debt collector’s actions or the resulting lawsuit? If you did, your lost wages may very well be actual damages.
- Did a creditor or debt collector coerce you into paying debt that you didn’t actually owe? If so, the money you paid may very well be actual damages that you can get back.
These are just a few examples. Depending on your particular case, there may be many other damages you’ve sustained that are recoverable as actual damages. The best thing to do is to take detailed notes of everything that’s happened because of a creditor or debt collector’s violation of the FCCPA. Even if those notes don’t appear to be helpful to you, an experienced consumer litigation attorney can probably discover a lot of hidden actual damages that you may not have considered. If you are being harassed by a debt collector and would like to speak with an attorney,
The Dellutri Law Group offers a free confidential consultation. If you know someone who is having financial problems and the creditors are causing them stress and anxiety, please feel free to pass this blog along to them. We built this business on referrals from satisfied customers and will continue to do so with your help.