The Before and After of How I Can Help You

Let’s get right down to business, shall we?

Before means preventive measures.  Trying to avoid your need for legal services, liability, and/or cost in the future.  Before includes:


Free Information Center—includes tips on buying a vehicle, selecting a contractor, dealing with debt collectors, devising strategies to protect you and/or your small business from liability……..and many other resources

Drafting a contract or other document(s) to establish legal rights and liabilities

Protecting your small business from a liability or litigation nightmare
Attorney John O'Neal

After means reacting to something that has already happened.  You have been sued or you are in the midst of a legal situation and are in need of fairly immediate help or representation.  After includes:

Handling a traffic ticket

What to do in the case of a personal injury or wrongful death

Figuring out your options on a vehicle transaction gone wrong

Determining if you have defenses or counterclaims when sued on a debt, contract, or other civil matter

NOTE:  If you have a potential case, please read “What You Need To Have” so you can be prepared for an initial consultation

If you need me either before or after something happens, contact me.  Thanks for your ongoing support and I look forward to serving you if appropriate.


Is Small Claims Court too Large for You?

In 2013 the North Carolina General Assembly increased small claims court jurisdiction from $5,000.00 to $10,000.00.  This now means many more cases should be filed (and in some cases MUST be filed) in small claims court.  It can be an effective forum for having a dispute heard and decided sooner rather than later.

In some respects small claims court, or Magistrate Court as it is sometimes called, looks like (more…)

Weekend Plans? Reunioning with Some Bears

Happy Friday to you.  I hope you are slated for a good or at least restful weekend.  As for me I am off to my 25-year high school class reunion in New Bern.  This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime events.  It is a blessing to be able to attend and I was humbled to have the opportunity to serve on the planning committee for the Reunion.

The New Bern Senior High School Class of 1989 had under 400 graduates but a mountain of talent and chemistry.  In my class are professionals, parents, veterans, entrepreneurs, elected officials, community leaders, clergy, and many other folks doing really meaningful and cool things.  I am constantly amazed at the gifts amassed within our class.  Many of these gifts and the resultant energy have coalesced to put together what promises to be an outstanding weekend of events.

Unfortunately we have lost several classmates over the years including one within the last month.  We remember them and honor them this weekend as we reunite and share some quality time and make memories.  For those of you who were unable to attend we will miss you.  And for those who will be taking the time and making the trip to attend I will see you there………travel safe……and, always……Go Bears!

Debt Collection from A to Z: F is for Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Many people have heard of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  The FDCPA protects debtors from certain conduct by collectors.  Note I said “collectors” and not creditors.  This is an important distinction.  Follow this… (more…)

Debt Collection A to Z: E is for Emotional Distress

Dealing with debt can be stressful.  Finding the money to pay, prioritizing payments, and developing a plan for eventual payoff require some forethought.  Undoubtedly there are times when folks get behind on their debts and obligations.

Even when a person is delinquent on a debt there are rules in place to (more…)

The Verdict on Debt Settlement Companies

Our economy is challenged…this may be an understatement but you get the drift.  I have people contact me seeking “debt settlement services” and I also have people contact me who have had bad experience with debt settlement companies.

As to my impression of debt settlement companies, I will say this:  I do not fully understand how they propose to help and actually help consumers but I have heard a significant number of stories of “I paid money to a debt settlement company and my bills debts went unpaid even longer.”  And in a few of these situations the consumer reported to me that they were sued on at least some of the debts that they provided to the debt settlement company.  Just reporting my information and experience on this topic; as limited as it is.  For more info in debt settlement companies visit the Federal Trade Commission webpage.

If you find yourself in a position where you want or need some help in figuring out how to resolve your overall debt/financial picture you should probably consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney.  I do not handle bankruptcy cases but for those of you in the Charlotte area and Western North Carolina contact my colleague Rashad Blossom.  For those of you in the Greensboro and Triad area contact my colleagues Ken Johnson, Kenneth Love, and Aleta Kiser.  And for those of you in the Raleigh area and Eastern North Carolina contact Robert Lewis.

If you intend to contact a debt settlement company be diligent. Read reviews about the company and check the Better Business Bureau and Attorney Generals Office for information. Before you agree to employ the company read the proposed Agreement or contract very closely so you will understand what services are to be provided and at what cost. After you employ the company and the debt is “being handled” you should request periodic updates—preferably in writing—as to the status of your “account” and it may not hurt to check your credit report to ensure that the debt settlement company is following through on promises especially regarding payments on your debts.

Whatever you do make sure you get competent help and all significant promises in writing.  Best of success to you.

Debt Collection A to Z: D is for Deadbeat List

Deadbeat lists are lists of persons who owe money to a creditor.  One simple rule:  do not use them!  While there are some instances where a debtor’s debt and delinquency on the debt can be made publicly known (ex:  liens) these instances are few and somewhat far between.

One motivation for publishing a deadbeat list is to nudge a debtor to pay up or at least make some arrangement to pay up.  In addition to the fact that this nudge thumbs down for deadbeat lists...don't do it!may not work, the publishing of the deadbeat list is a really bad idea because (more…)

Debt Collection A to Z: C is for Collection Agency

Under North Carolina law the term “collection agency” has a very specific meaning.  It is quite complicated to give a precise definition of the term but groups such as Portfolio Recovery Associates, CACV of Colorado, National Credit Solutions, and NCO Financial Systems would qualify as collection agencies.  A collection agency is typically an entity (more…)

Debt Collection A to Z: B is for Breach

Most people are generally familiar with the term “breach.”  It is commonly used to refer to someone’s failure to adhere to the terms of a contract, agreement, or other obligation.  Since breach generally relates to a contract the damages are different from what one can recover in a tort case.  A tort case is a case where the duty of the defendant to the injured/aggrieved person is NOT based on a contract.  The most common example of a tort case is a car accident; the defendant and injured party have no contract or literal agreement regarding their responsibilities on the highway.  Instead the duty for each is established by the law and thus a violation of the law in this instance is deemed a tort which allows the injured person to recover damages for loss of property, loss of value to property, medical bills, and even pain and suffering.

In a contract case, however, a breach does not afford the other party the right to recover pain and suffering.  A breach of contract allows the aggrieved party to recover damages based on the contractual duty owed by the breaching party.  Common example here is where a construction company is contracted to perform repairs to a homeowner’s residence and the repairs are not done correctly.  The homeowner is entitled to recover the cost to have the repairs done correctly and possible additional money for structural damages caused by the shoddy repairs.  There is even the possibility of recovering incidental and consequential damages.

In the world of debt collection breach usually refers to a party’s failure to make payments or otherwise comply with the terms and conditions of a contract.  In the case of a vehicle, breach can include the failure to obtain/maintain comprehensive insurance on the vehicle.  However, the creditor (bank, finance company, etc.) can be in breach of the contract by wrongfully repossessing a vehicle, asserting or collecting extra-contractual and illegal fees, failure to make certain credit disclosures, and other ways.

Sometimes it is not wholly clear if a party is in breach of a contract.  To get an accurate assessment of your situation be sure to contact an experienced consumer law attorney for a consultation.

Debt Collection A to Z: A is for Asset Recovery

The “Car Law A to Z” seemed to be so popular that I thought I would do the same for debt collection.  Practically everyone incurs some type of debt be it a credit card, vehicle loan, mortgage, personal loan, or something else.  When you borrow money and obligate yourself to pay it back you do have certain rights under state and federal law.  There seem to be many myths floating around regarding some of these rights and even obligations when dealing with debts.  Over the course of the coming weeks I hope to educate the reader and provide reliable information that can be of real value.  If you have questions, suggestions, or comments feel free to reply.  brief info for your briefcase

A is for asset recovery which is merely a fancy term for repossession.  Click here for more details on repossession and the relevant law.

If you have questions about asset recovery or repossession be sure to have as many of the following information/materials available before contacting me:

  • Bill of Sale a/k/a Buyer’s Order
  • Retail installment sales contract a/k/a finance contract
  • Receipts or proof of all vehicle payments made by you
  • Security agreement (typically gives seller and/or lender the right to repossess vehicle if breach of contract occurs)
  • Any certificates of repossession
  • Correspondence or notices from seller or lender regarding potential deficiencies or breach of contract by you
  • Documentation of seller or lender’s usage of a GPS tracking and/or shutdown device on the vehicle

Then you should contact me for a free consultation to discuss your situation.