In Maryland you will often see cases where the lender just sues the cosigner. This can be very frustrating for the cosigner of a loan.
People in this situation who come to us for a bankruptcy consult or civil litigation consult to try to fight the suit often ask “Can they do this?” The short answer is yes.
The first thing we have to get away from is the idea of a signer and consigner. This leaves the impression that the cosigner is secondary.
Legally when there is more than one signer on a loan, they are all cosigners. This means they are all legally liable for the loan.The full loan.
If there are two people on a loan one person can’t just pay their “half” and expect to be left alone. They are responsible for the full amount left owing.
Joint and Several Liability
This is called joint and several liability. This means the lender can get the whole amount left owing from any of the signers or borrowers.
If they collect all the money from the one person the other person is off the hook.
Is that unfair? Yes. Is it legal? Yes again.
Now the person who made the payments may be able to go after the person who didn’t pay their share to get their money back. But that is a separate case and depends on the agreement that the borrowers had between them.
Once you understand this, you still may ask “but why are they suing the other person?” When you think about it from the lender’s perspective, doing this can make sense. They sude the one with the good credit!
Who Would You Sue?
If you could sue two people who would you go after first? The one with good credit, right? They might actually pay up. Also, the person with bad credit is often the person that is harder to find and serve.
As the lender you could choose to sue both people. But it does cost money to sue somebody. If you were the lender would you want to even bother suing that other borrower? You may never get a penny out of them and trying to serve them will just hold up your case against the other borrower. So why spend the money on serving two people if one will do?
So, before you help out that family member or friend by cosigning a loan remember that if something goes wrong that lender may come after you and you alone.
You wouldn’t take out a loan you couldn’t afford to pay. That is why your credit is good enough that someone wants you to be a cosigner. Don’t cosign for a loan you can’t afford to pay on your own.
Want to know more? Discover what you need to know about Maryland law. See our guide Five Steps to Protect Yourself from Legal Trouble and get answers to your questions today. Know your options. Be informed. Protect yourself.
Need an attorney? Please contact us for a consultation today if you need an experienced lawyer in Waldorf and Lexington Park for your legal case.
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