Commerce personal injuries attorneys have a few tools available to them to collect a court judgment.
Commerce personal injuries attorneys understand even if you win your personal injury lawsuit, the hardest part may not be over. Depending on who you just beat in court, it may take a lot of time and effort to collect your monetary judgment. Luckily, there are a few legal tools you and your attorney may be able to use to collect your money:
A lien is a legal notice that tells the entire world that the owner of a particular piece of property owes a creditor some money. If the owner of the property wants to sell it, he or she will have to get rid of the lien first. They can do this by either paying off the debt so the creditor will remove the lien, or make a special arrangement with the creditor where the proceeds from the sale will go towards the debt.
A levy refers to taking the property, then selling it (often at auction) and using the proceeds to pay off the debt. In many states, a government official, or someone acting on a court’s behalf, will take the property and make the sale.
As a judgment creditor, you may be able to take money directly out of either the debtor’s bank account or from his or her paycheck. The legal term for this is “garnishment.” You will need to complete the necessary steps and provide the relevant paperwork to the debtor’s bank or employer, authorizing them to take the money and give it to you.
What If the Debtor Declares Bankruptcy?
A bankruptcy can certainly jeopardize your ability to collect a personal injury judgment. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it’s possible for your judgment to go away after the bankruptcy is complete. There are some exceptions to this rule for personal injury judgments, such as when what the debtor did to you was particularly bad.
If the debtor declares a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may lose your ability to collect the judgment or at least have to settle for getting a smaller amount than your award stated you would get.
If there is a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, your personal injury judgment should be safe. However, you may have to wait a very long time to get your money. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows the debtor to restructure his or her debts and take more time to pay them off.
Things can become even more difficult when the debtor has the money to pay the judgment but takes steps to avoid doing so. The debtor might hide or sell assets to friends or family members or move to another state and try to get away from your collection attempts. In either case, you’ll have to conduct your own investigation to find the debtor and discovery what sneaky dealings they might have. In these situations, you are almost always going to want to hire an attorney to help you.