Civil judgment collection isn’t always as easy as pie.
So, you’ve won your case and now you need to know about civil judgment collection. How hard can it be? Well, that all depends. Different factors that play into the judgment collection process. Let’s take a look at what it is and how it works.
What is a Civil Judgment?
A civil case is a non-criminal complaint filed in court against a person or business. If you win a civil case, the judge or the jury may award you a judgment, or money damages, for your complaint. Winning your case is great! But it’s really only half the battle. Once you win, you have to collect. And a civil judgment isn’t always easy to collect from your debtor.
What Happens After You Win?
If you win your civil case and the judge or jury awards you a judgment, it’s up to you to collect that judgment. The court order applies to your debtor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can or will pay the judgment. Most individuals or businesses who are subject to pay and have the means to do so, will. No one wants to refuse a court order. It’s not good for your personal record, and it’s bad for business. And most people and companies don’t want to be subject to the collections process. The question is, how do you collect on that debt if the debtor doesn’t pay right away?
Collecting on a Judgment
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a debtor pay you immediately for a court-ordered judgment, there are some steps you can take to collect on it yourself:
- Contact your debtor and ask for payment in the form of a letter. Request that they respond in writing, so you have a record of the communication.
- If you don’t get payment after contacting them, it’s time to take further action.
- You can conduct post-judgment discovery which is the process of doing interrogations and/or depositions, requesting documentation, and finding out the reality of your debtor’s financial situation.
- Get a record of the judgment in writing. You’ll need this to begin garnishment.
- You can garnish your debtor’s wages, up to 25% of their income, to collect on your judgment. This requires a hearing with the court. You must prove that they owe you the money and that they have not taken action to pay on that judgment. You can also garnish the bank accounts of the debtor.
- Seizing property is another potential step in collecting your judgment. The trick is finding and identifying assets that belong to the debtor that you can seize.
Winning a civil case is a huge victory, but if you can’t collect, it can end up feeling more like a defeat. You spent time and energy and money filing the lawsuit to end up with nothing. Instead of settling for that, take action and get the help you need to make the debtor pay what the court has ordered.