A major car accident can be a life-changing experience, especially when your injuries are severe and you are no longer able to be gainfully employed. The costs involved in major car accidents can easily exceed the liability limits of the at-fault driver.
If you were in a car accident and your medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of income has greatly exceeded the liability limits of the at-fault driver, you may or may not be fully compensated. However, there are several things that can be done in order for you to receive compensation from a successful lawsuit. Here's what you need to know.
Is the At-Fault Driver Judgement Proof?
If the at-fault driver does not have the money or assets to pay for a judgement, he or she may be deemed judgement proof. Your lawyer can hire a private detective to do an asset check of the defendant to determine whether or not they have the financial ability to pay the judgement. A debtor examination is also usually done, as well as a determination of potential future earnings of the defendant. These are things that are generally considered before a lawyer will pursue a lawsuit because they affect whether or not you will see the judgement paid to you as well as steps you may need to take in the future.
Ways to Collect Money After a Judgement is Issued
Fortunately, there are several ways you can collect judgement from the defendant if they cannot pay or refuse to pay. However, you will need to do some legwork. Here's what you can do.
- File a judgement lien. Take the judgement documentation to the courthouse and file a judgement lien against all of the real estate property the defendant owns. This will cause the defendant to be required to pay your judgement in full should they sell their real estate property. Judgement liens must be released before real estate transactions can be completed.
- Garnish their wages. Depending on your state's laws, you may be able to garnish as much as 25% of the defendant's wages if they have a steady paycheck that is above the poverty line and they don't already have wage garnishments. However, in order to do this, you need to know where the defendant is employed. Your lawyer can request this information and the defendant is legally required to provide it as part of the discovery process during or after a lawsuit.
- Suspend their driver's license. In most states, you can have the defendant's driver's license suspended when they fail to pay a judgement from a car accident lawsuit. To do this, go to the court clerk and get a certified copy of the judgement to take to your state's department of licensing and request a suspension of their driving privileges. Losing their ability to legally drive may prompt them to pay the judgement.
- File a writ of execution. Go to the county clerk and file a writ of execution. Take the writ of execution to your sheriff's office or other authority who handles levies. A writ of execution gives the levy official the authority to collect the judgement by means such as seizure of bank accounts and personal assets, including vehicles, jewelry, and anything else deemed as liquid assets.
Getting the compensation you were awarded may require a long battle, especially if the defendant does not have the financial means to pay at the time of the judgement nor will be able to pay in the foreseeable future. Because of this, you'll need to carefully weigh your losses against the possibilities of obtaining any compensation at all before you move forward with a lawsuit. For more information, contact a professional such as Teresa P Williams.Share