When you file for bankruptcy, something called the automatic stay immediately stops any lawsuit filed against you and most actions against your property by a creditor, collection agency, or government entity. The automatic stay prohibits most creditors from continuing with collection activities, which can provide welcome relief to debtors as well the opportunity to regroup during bankruptcy.
Creditors and bill collectors must stop collection activities when they first learn of a bankruptcy filing.
What the stay prohibits
The automatic stay prohibits
- Beginning or continuing law suits
- Collection calls
- Foreclosure sales
- Garnishment or levies
Violations of the stay
Anyone who willfully violates the stay in the case of an individual is liable for actual damages caused by the violation. Those damages include attorneys fees to stop the violation and any other damages the debtor can prove up.
The Power Of The Automatic Stay
In a recent case, the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) impounded a Debtor’s automobile on June 1, 2017 during an active bankruptcy case. Attorney Dunne filed a Motion for Sanctions against the PPA for Violation of the Automatic Stay. Chief Judge Frank ruled that the PPA must pay the Debtor $5,046.00 in compensatory damages + reasonable attorney’s fees.
The Judge ruled that the Debtor’s vacation and travel plans were disrupted; the Debtor had difficult sleeping at night due to the loss of his car; the PPA impoundment of his vehicle caused marital discord; and the Debtor felt “disrespected” by the PPA as this was the second time the PPA impounded his car in the same bankruptcy case.