What Happens if You Win a Lawsuit and They Can’t Pay?

A picture of a gavel and an empty wallet representing the inability to pay for a law suit Many think suing someone who’s is pointless, but it’s not. Lawsuits for personal injuries aim to hold wrongdoers accountable, regardless of their financial status. Winning means the court acknowledges the defendant’s debt to you. This obligation remains even if the defendant lacks funds.
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Collecting Your Judgment: What Happens When They Can’t Pay?

When you win a lawsuit for personal injury or any other harm, the court’s decision in your favor means the defendant is legally obligated to compensate you. This obligation stands, regardless of the defendant’s current financial situation. However, if the defendant doesn’t have the money to pay right away, collecting the awarded amount might require additional steps.

Asset Seizure

One way the court might help you collect your judgment is by granting you the authority to seize some of the defendant’s assets. This could include:
  • Real Estate: Property that the defendant owns.
  • Investment Accounts: Stocks, bonds, or other investment holdings.
  • Bank Accounts: Money held in checking or savings accounts.
  • Company Income: If the defendant owns a business, a portion of the business’s income might be directed to you.
  • Other Personal Assets: This category can include vehicles, jewelry, or any other valuable possessions the defendant owns.

The Judgment is Final, Even if Collection Takes Time

Remember, the court’s decision is final. The defendant must pay their legal debt. If they can’t pay immediately, legal mechanisms can help you collect later. This may involve payment plans or monitoring assets.
Pro Tip
Collecting from someone unable to pay requires patience. It can be helpful to know your rights and legal options. Consult with a California car accident lawyer at Text Kevin Accident Attorneys to aid in a successful collection.

Navigating Financial Recovery from Judgment-Proof Defendants

When pursuing a lawsuit for personal injury or any other harm, encountering a defendant without the financial resources to pay a judgment adds a layer of complexity to your quest for compensation. Understanding these challenges is crucial for setting realistic expectations and developing a strategic approach to your legal journey. Challenges of collecting from a financially strapped defendant can include:
  • Legal Protections and Exemptions: Defendants may invoke legal protections that shield their essential income and assets from seizure. These exemptions are designed to prevent individuals from falling into destitution but can limit your ability to collect awarded damages.
  • The Impact of Bankruptcy: If a defendant files for bankruptcy, the proceedings could discharge their obligation to pay some or all debts. This could include judgments from personal injury cases. Bankruptcy laws prioritize the debtor’s fresh start over creditors’ claims, which may include your judgment.
  • The Concept of Being Judgment-Proof: Some defendants are considered “judgment-proof.” This means they lack sufficient assets or income that can legally be tapped to satisfy a judgment. This status can make it virtually impossible to collect the compensation you’ve been awarded, at least in the short term.

The Path Forward: Strategies and Considerations

Facing these realities doesn’t mean you’re without options. It’s about adjusting strategies and expectations to align with the situation. Here are the steps you can take:
  • Consult with Your Attorney: An experienced personal injury attorney can offer guidance on the feasibility of collection efforts. At Text Kevin Accident Attorneys, we advise on whether pursuing a lawsuit is in your best interest. We can also explore other avenues for compensation, such as insurance policies.
  • Consider Long-Term Collection Efforts: Even if immediate collection seems unlikely, judgments typically remain enforceable for many years. Defendants’ financial situations can change, opening up possibilities for future collection.
  • Explore Settlement Options: In some cases, negotiating a settlement with the defendant may result in faster, albeit possibly reduced, compensation. Settlements can offer a practical solution when facing the prospect of prolonged collection efforts.

Kevin Crockett is Your Legal Ally in Personal Injury Claims

At Text Kevin Accident Attorneys, led by Kevin Crockett, we get it. Pursuing compensation from broke defendants isn’t easy. We’re here to help you handle this challenge. Our strategy aims to maximize your recovery. Kevin Crockett is hands-on in every case. You’ll have our support every step of the way. If you’re injured and unsure of your legal options, contact us. We’ll assess your case and guide you through seeking compensation, even with financially struggling defendants.
You don’t have to go through this alone. Let Kevin Crockett help you secure the compensation you deserve, regardless of the defendant’s financial situation.
What Happens if You Win a Lawsuit and They Can’t Pay?

How to Collect Payment After a Judgment

After winning a court case and being awarded compensation, the next big challenge is often collecting that payment from the defendant. This is especially true if they are not willing or able to pay voluntarily. There are several strategies you can use to try to collect the money owed to you.

Putting a Levy on Property

One effective method is to place a levy on the defendant’s property. This could include things like:
  • Investment accounts
  • Vehicles
  • Bank accounts
  • Real estate
By placing a levy, you’re essentially getting permission from the court to have the property sold so you can be paid from the proceeds. However, some assets might be protected from being levied if they’re considered necessary for the defendant’s work or livelihood.

Seizing Business Assets or Income

If the defendant owns a business, you might be able to seize some of the business assets or take a portion of its income to settle your judgment.
This route can be complex. It involves evaluating what assets can legally be taken. It might require additional court orders.

Garnishing Wages

Another common method is garnishing the defendant’s wages. This means a set amount of money can be taken directly from their paycheck and given to you until the debt is fully paid. The amount you can garnish can vary. There are protections in place for individuals earning low wages or those on social security, making them exempt from garnishment in some cases.

Claiming Future Income or Assets

Just because the defendant doesn’t have the means to pay you now doesn’t mean they never will. A judgment is typically valid for many years and can be renewed. This means you can attempt to collect the debt in the future when the defendant’s financial situation might have improved. This long-term view can be important if the defendant is likely to acquire assets or increase their income.

Getting a Lien on Their Assets

You might also be able to get a lien on the defendant’s property. This doesn’t immediately give you the property but puts a legal claim on it. If the property is sold, you will get paid out of the proceeds before the defendant receives any money. If the defendant fails to pay over time, you might eventually be able to force the sale of the property.

Using a Debt Collector

Finally, you can consider handing the matter over to a debt collector. This approach can relieve you of the burden of pursuing the defendant yourself. Debt collectors are professionals who know how to navigate the collection process efficiently. They work for a fee or a percentage of the collected amount. This means you won’t have to pay them unless they successfully collect the debt. Collecting a judgment can be a complicated and time-consuming process, but it’s important to remember that you have legal options and rights. If you’re facing difficulties collecting a judgment, consider consulting with Text Kevin Accident Attorneys. We can guide you through the process and help you understand the best strategy for your specific situation.

Contact Text Kevin Accident Attorneys

If you’ve faced an accident and are feeling overwhelmed by the legal process, Kevin Crockett and the dedicated team at Text Kevin Accident Attorneys are ready to stand by your side. With over 30 awards and honors and a proven track record of recovering millions for his clients, Kevin Crockett is a fierce advocate dedicated to getting you the compensation you deserve. Raised in Orange County and a top graduate from the University of California, Irvine, Kevin has dedicated his career to personal injury law. Kevin has helped thousands of accident victims across California to recover millions in damages. Choosing to start his own firm to offer more personalized care, Kevin ensures he’s involved in every case, offering the one-on-one attention every client deserves. His commitment has earned him a stellar reputation, reflected in a perfect 10.0 ‘Superb’ rating on AVVO and dozens of 5-star client reviews. Contact us today to see how we can help you on your road to recovery.
  • Call: Immediate assistance is just a phone call away. Dial (800) 900-9393 to connect with experienced staff who can guide you through your next steps.
  • Text Message: For quick queries or to start your case, send a message to (714) 492-1725. Our team is ready to assist with your specific needs.
  • Chat: Our live chat support is available 24/7 to answer your questions and provide assistance.
  • Email: If you prefer, email us at any time. We’ll respond promptly to discuss your potential case. Simply send an email to reach out.
Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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