If a credit collection agency doubled the amountthat Iowe, is that legal?

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If a credit collection agency doubled the amountthat Iowe, is that legal?

I was in accident about 4 months ago without insurance and it was my fault. A few weeks later I received letter from a credit collection agency stating that I owe about $6000. I requested a debt validation letter. Then few weeks after that I received another letter stating that I owe about $12,000. A week or so later I received a validation letter from the other driver’s insurer saying that the damage Iowe is about $8000. Now I’m sitting here confused, not knowing what to do.

Asked on April 19, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You only owe--assuming that you are found to be liable in trial (see below) provabe amounts of damages. ("Damages" is a legal term meaning how much someone owes for wrongful behavior, such as for causing personal injuries, property damage, etc.) However, it is possible that the provable damages will "increase" over time, as either new damage or injuries are discovered or as the true or full cost of repairs, medical treatment (if any) etc. become known.

At the end of the day, you only have to pay once for any injuries you caused; you only have to pay if you're at fault; and if you don't want to settle, you can force the other side to prove you're at fault. You should request that both the debt collection agency and the insurer prove or substantiate (provide evidence of) the claimed losses AND determine who is suing you for what, on what basis--again, if you owe, say, $8,000 for automotive damage you caused, you only have to pay that once, not to two different parties each trying to collect it.

Once you have some sense of how much is at stake and who can rightfully seek to collect it, you can decide whether to try to negotiate a settlement or fight it (e.g. go to trial and make them prove their case). Note that if you end up owing, in one way or another, ore than you can afford, filing for bankruptcy remains an option to get out from under the debt.


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