Are you facing the unsettling possibility of your vehicle being repossessed due to overdue payments on your car, truck, or boat loan? The looming prospect of losing your vehicle amidst other pressing concerns can be overwhelming. However, a glimmer of hope is found within Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the protective laws of Louisiana.
At Simon Fitzgerald LLC, our highly experienced attorneys profoundly understand your rights in dealing with creditors and the array of options available to you. The power of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy lies in its ability to swiftly halt creditors in their tracks, ending the repossession process. Additionally, it enables you to outline a structured repayment plan directly with the creditor. In certain circumstances, Chapter 13 even offers the potential to settle the vehicle’s current value at a reduced interest rate.
If your vehicle has already been repossessed, taking swift action is imperative. Typically, you have a window of 10 days from the date of repossession to initiate a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.
Understanding Your Vehicle Repossession Rights
Are you falling behind on car, truck, four-wheeler, or boat loan payments? Does the fear of vehicle repossession weigh heavily on your mind? When life has already presented numerous challenges, losing your means of transportation can be distressing. Thankfully, the remedy lies within the provisions of Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the legal framework of Louisiana.
The seasoned attorneys at Simon Fitzgerald LLC are your advocates in navigating the intricate web of options and, more importantly, asserting your rights when dealing with creditors. The act of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy yields immediate relief as it puts an abrupt halt to creditor actions. The repossession process is effectively paused, allowing you to strategize a structured repayment plan within the framework of Chapter 13.
In specific scenarios, you might even find the opportunity to settle the present value of your vehicle at a reduced interest rate through Chapter 13. If your vehicle has already been repossessed, the urgency to act cannot be overstated. Typically, there’s a slim 10-day window from the date of repossession to initiate a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.
Meet Walter: Stopping Car Repossession in Louisiana – A Case Illustration
Walter, a young man in Shreveport, faced repossession of his car. Walter had been involved in an auto accident when he was with his friend, Jack. Both men sustained injuries from the accident, with Walter’s injuries severe enough to prevent him from returning to work for a few months. While Walter and Jack have a personal injury lawyer working on their case, the insurance company is dragging its feet on a settlement. It could be months or even a year down the line.
After missing work for two months, Walter is facing medical expenses for his injuries, and he has gotten behind on all his regular monthly bills—including his car payment. If Walter loses his car, he will also lose his ability to get to and from work. He has maxed out all his credit cards to keep his head above water. Walter tried talking to his lender but to no avail. Walter has missed two successive payments, and his lender has started repossession. While it may sound counterintuitive, Walter’s best option might be to file for bankruptcy.
A bankruptcy filing would not only wipe out Walter’s significant credit card debt (under Chapter 7), but it would also at least temporarily stop the car repossession. While both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy require that provisions be made for payment of the vehicle, the automatic stay issued when bankruptcy is filed will halt most creditors from pursuing collection activities. Should Walter file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, overdue payments on his car loan can be built into his repayment plan. It is definitely in Walter’s best interests to speak to a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney from Simon Fitzgerald LLC before his imminent car repossession.
Car Repossession Law in Louisiana
Car repossession laws in Louisiana are similar to many other repossession laws across the U.S. in that if you fall behind on your car payments, your lender can take your vehicle—so long as the law is followed when doing so. In Louisiana, a lender can move ahead with repossession actions if your car loan explicitly allows repossession and the lender uses a state-licensed repossession agent. If the following statements are factual, then your car can be repossessed:
- You have failed to pay two successive monthly car payments, or if you make payments more often than once per month, you are in default if it’s been more than 60 days since your last car payment.
- When you purchased the car, you entered into a signed agreement stating that the vehicle would be used as loan collateral.
- A notice of the repossession was sent to you; this notice must state in 12-point type that the lender can repossess your vehicle with no additional notice or legal process involved.
- A lender may come and collect your car if it has been at least 30 days since the due date, then the lender has 30 days to file a Notice of Repossession in your parish with the Recorder of Mortgages.
- If your lender failed to follow the law, repossessing your vehicle unlawfully, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against both the repossession company and the lender.
It is essential to know that an individual who is repossessing your vehicle may not enter your home without your permission, may not use any violence when repossessing the vehicle, and may not “trick” you into bringing your vehicle to a LA repair shop, then repossessing it after you leave. Louisiana has no court hearing requirements when a lender repossesses your car. For more information on car repossession laws, click here.
Preventing Vehicle Repossession: Your Options
Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a viable solution to save your car or truck. Repossession is put on hold as long as you continue paying for the vehicle or include the vehicle payment in your Chapter 13 Plan. Here are some options:
- You continue making the original payments until the vehicle is paid off, with any arrears included in Chapter 13. You can sometimes pay only the vehicle’s present value at a reduced interest rate through your Chapter 13 plan.
- The “cram down” law applies if you have owned the vehicle for 910 days (2 1/2 years) or more. You would be required to pay only the current retail replacement value of the vehicle instead of the total debt balance, possibly saving you thousands of dollars. Additionally, in most cases, the interest rate can be lowered.
- Filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may at least temporarily halt the repossession of your vehicle. Either bankruptcy type protects you from collections, but you will have to make some provision for payment. Under Chapter 13, you may only have to pay your car’s current value—and at a lower interest rate. If your vehicle has already been repossessed, you have only ten days to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you want to keep your vehicle.
- If your vehicle has not been repossessed, call your lender. While your lender is not obligated to help you by lowering your payments or letting you pay out the past due payments over time, they might agree to do so to save the hassle of a repossession. Lenders almost always lose money in a repossession action, so it might be in their best interests to work with you to pay back the overdue payments.
- While certainly not a long-term solution, if your vehicle is about to be repossessed and you are filing for bankruptcy, keep the vehicle in your closed garage. Repossession people cannot enter a private residence to recover a vehicle. While the vehicle can be taken from a side street, an open carport, or your driveway, it cannot legally be taken from a closed garage. If you drive the vehicle anywhere, it becomes fair game. It is also likely that the repossession company will soon send a deputy with a court order to remove the car from the garage. In other words, this is only a very temporary deterrent to repossession while you are putting other mechanisms like bankruptcy in place.
If you are worried that your car is about to be repossessed, make sure you don’t leave any personal possessions inside the car. If your car is repossessed, you have only ten days to reach your lender and ask that your personal property be returned.
UNDERSTANDING HOW CREDITORS MAY TRY TO REPOSSESS YOUR VEHICLE
Creditors employ three standard methods of repossession:
- The “Voluntary Repossession” Method: Many creditors use this method. They attempt to advise you that you must sign the voluntary surrender. However, you do not have to sign anything. Under this method, if you do not sign, they cannot take your car. A voluntary repossession form is just that, voluntary. You never have to sign it. Creditors may claim that you must sign the form; some may inadvertently do so. However, you do not have to sign this form and should consult with an attorney if you are faced with one.
- The Court Order Method: Creditors can go to a judge and obtain a court order to seize your vehicle. There are no documents to sign, and a deputy sheriff or marshal will have your car towed.
- The “Self-Help” Method: This is a highly restricted method in Louisiana. There is no need for a voluntary repossession form. They can take your vehicle without your signature if they have done this correctly. Chances are the creditor did not follow the strict guidelines under the law. Talk to an attorney about your situation.
Regardless of the creditor’s method, we can usually get your vehicle back to you by filing a Chapter 13. You must consult with us as soon as possible after the seizure.
Your Rights Against Creditors
Louisiana severely restricts “self-help” repossession. The lender or car dealer cannot hire a “repo man” to take your car in the dead of night without first complying with Louisiana’s restrictive self-help law or one of the other methods of legally taking your vehicle. People will often have their vehicle repossessed, thinking it was entirely legitimate. They may have been tricked into thinking their release was not required or given a release without knowing it. That is why it is so essential to understand your rights and when they have been violated. We can take legal action on your behalf.
How Do I Choose the Best Lawyer to Stop My Car Repossession?
When you are drowning in debt and facing car repossession, choosing the right bankruptcy lawyer can feel like an overwhelming task. At Simon Fitzgerald LLC, we understand that you have choices. We believe strongly that once you speak to an attorney at LA’s oldest bankruptcy law firm, your choice will be clear. The experience we bring to the table is unparalleled—both in the legal industry and across the state. Our qualifications are exemplary, we pride ourselves on transparency, and we have a solid record after handling over 25,000 bankruptcy cases.
In a world where big banks have all the money and power, the Simon Fitzgerald bankruptcy attorneys work hard to level the playing field for the average person—you. We want to help you get the fresh financial start you need and deserve, getting through your bankruptcy with the least amount of capital outlay possible. Through quality representation and hard work, we will fight against aggressive creditors seeking to take advantage of you or treating you disrespectfully. Our attorneys are sensitive to the fact that you are going through a tough financial time, so we work harder than our competitors to develop creative solutions that will benefit you, your family, and your future.
If you are struggling with overwhelming debt, perhaps even facing car repossession, filing for bankruptcy can be the best way to secure relief. The Simon Fitzgerald bankruptcy attorneys will help you weigh the pros and cons of bankruptcy to determine whether this is the best option for you. If it is, we will handle all the details of your bankruptcy, guiding you through the process and answering all your questions in an easy-to-understand manner.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Stopping home foreclosure can be a complex process, and it’s normal to question how bankruptcy can help. We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about stopping home foreclosure to help you better understand what to expect.
- Can bankruptcy stop car repossession in Louisiana?
- How can I stop car repossession immediately in Louisiana?
- How many payments can I miss before facing repossession in Louisiana?
How Can Simon Fitzgerald Help with Your Car Repossession?
Before making any decisions about your vehicle, it’s essential to seek guidance from our seasoned Louisiana bankruptcy lawyers. Avoid signing voluntary surrender or any related documents until you’ve consulted with us. We’re here to provide a free consultation and rest assured, there are no upfront attorney’s fees required when dealing with Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
When you schedule a free consultation with Simon Fitzgerald LLC, you’re opening the door to solutions that transcend overwhelming problems—falling behind on vehicle loan payments. We’re equipped to assist you. Reach out to us today at 318-284-5565 (Shreveport / Monroe), 318-526-8551 (Alexandria), or 337-486-3732 (Lafayette / Lake Charles) to take proactive steps in safeguarding your rights.
Ready to take control of your vehicle and your financial future? Schedule your free consultation now.