Collecting Judgment from a Defendant After Winning an Injury Case
If you are pursuing a personal injury case, you should know that your work won't be done after winning the case. You still need to collect your judgment from the defendant, which can be tricky if the defendant is not willing to hand over the money. Below are some tips to help you out in such a case.
Instigate Post-Judgment Discovery
If the defendant is difficult or claims they don't have money, then the first step is to start a post-judgment discovery process. The process, which involves several sub-processes such as interrogatories and depositions, will help you determine whether the defendant is truly insolvent or they are just being difficult. You should use a lawyer to ensure the discovery process is legal and efficient.
Accept Partial Compensation
Judgment-collection efforts sometimes require considerable resources. You need to weigh the resources you are willing to spend on the collection efforts against the amount of settlement you are likely to recover. This is especially true if the defendant genuinely doesn't have the money to settle the entire judgment. In such a case, you should consider accepting a partial settlement instead of spending more money to collect non-existent money.
Negotiate a Payment Plan
If the defendant is willing, then you can negotiate a payment plan structured over a reasonable period. This plan can work for a defendant who doesn't have insurance, has a regular income, but cannot access the whole judgment at once. For example, you can spread the payments over a year. Ensure the agreement is legally binding, you can have a lawyer look at it first, to prevent further complications down the line.
Use Law Enforcement
The defendant's wages, assets (such as cars), and cash (such as cash in the bank or register if the defendant is a business entity) can pay for your judgment. However, you should not try to forcefully sieve these assets from the defendant on your own. You should engage the services of the local sheriff, a lawyer or a debt collection agency. You risk breaking your state's laws or causing harm to yourself if you decide to go it alone.
Renew the Judgment
You don't have to give up immediately if the defendant doesn't have the money to settle your judgment. State laws give you a period, which typically ranges from five to seven years, to collect your judgment. What is more, you can renew the collection period if the defendant still doesn't have the money at the end of the initial period. This means you have many years to collect what you deserve.
For more information or assistance, contact local law services such as Spooner & Perkins P.C. Attorneys at Law.