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Collecting from an Indebted Personal Injury Defendant

After a lawsuit has resolved through trial a prevailing plaintiff often ends up with a judgment award. The judgment typically orders the defendant to pay the plaintiff a certain amount of money, perhaps with a certain schedule. But if the defendant is substantially in debt and can’t afford to pay the judgment, what should the plaintiff do? Court judgments are a type of debt. Like other kinds of legally recognized debt, they create an obligation upon the debtor to pay what is owed. Until the debt is satisfied, it remains in place. When the defendant has other substantial debts, such as a mortgage, student loan debt, or even other judgments, a plaintiff can end up in competition with other creditors of the defendant to recover what is owed. There are several strategies that a plaintiff can pursue in this circumstance. The first option is to file a judgment lien. In any case where the defendant has a financial obligation to the plaintiff that won’t be satisfied immediately at the conclusion of the lawsuit, a plaintiff should file a judgment lien against any valuable property of the defendant, such as real estate, car, or other valuable personal property. A lien is a public record that stakes a claim to the proceeds from the sale of the property subject to the lien and remains in place for up to six years. Another option is to hire a debt collector. Although the services of a debt collect cost money, they can sometimes shake loose payments that might otherwise go unpaid, as the defendant grows tired of being hounded or the collector identifies resources that the defendant hasn’t previously disclosed. A third option is to pursue wage garnishment. A wage garnishment is a formal court process that orders an individual’s employer to set aside a certain portion of the individual’s wages each month and send them to the creditor. For someone who is owed a significant sum, wage garnishment can feel like an especially small sum, but it can be better than nothing. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. We work hard to ensure that our clients are compensated as quickly and as efficiently as possible. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.