Collecting unpaid civil judgments is what Judgment Collectors specializes in. We have worked with more than one client who went into the civil litigation arena ill-prepared for what was about to happen. If your company is thinking about filing its first civil lawsuit, we do not want you to end up in that boat.
Be sure to speak with your attorney in detail. Ask every question you have, and don’t let the questions go until you have the answers you are looking for. To get you started, below are five things your attorney should tell you about civil judgments.
In a criminal trial, the court delivers a verdict after considering all the evidence and hearing arguments from both the prosecution and defense. The ‘victor’, as it were, is determined by the verdict. We see something similar in civil litigation.
Civil courts do not return verdicts. Instead, they enter judgments. A judgment determines who has prevailed in the case. It often includes a financial penalty along with a requirement that the losing party pay the winning party’s court and attorney fees.
Another significant difference between criminal and civil court lies with enforcement. The court in a criminal case enforces a guilty verdict by assessing some sort of penalty. It could be jail time, a fine, or even community service. Unfortunately, civil courts do not enforce judgments.
This is where we come in. Enforcing a judgment as the creditor involves collecting from the debtor. Creditors are generally ill-equipped to handle collection on their own. Sometimes their attorneys offer to collect, but that’s not always the best choice either. The best way to enforce is to work with a judgment collection agency who specializes in this sort of thing.
It is possible for the value of a civil judgment to increase over time. How? Through additional court costs, legal feeds, and interest. Whatever a creditor spends on collection can be added to the amount collected. And in some states, outstanding judgments can accrue interest.
Next up, civil judgments in nearly every state have statutes of limitation. Those statutes vary. However, most are within the 7–10-year range. A 10-year statute of limitations dictates that a creditor only has that amount of time to collect. If collection is unsuccessful and the judgment is allowed to expire, that’s it.
The good news is that judgments can be renewed in most states. The creditor needs to go back to court prior to the expiration of the original judgment so that no time lapses between the two.
Although courts do not enforce judgments, creditors are not left entirely on their own. There are scenarios under which law enforcement can get involved. Two examples are wage garnishment and property seizure.
In a wage garnishment scenario, the county sheriff may deliver the appropriate documents to the debtor’s employer. In a property seizure scenario, the sheriff actually conducts the seizure operation. The sheriff will even handle eviction if necessary.
There is certainly more to know about collecting judgments than this post can adequately address. The most important thing we want you to know is that the vast majority of creditors who attempt to collect on their own ultimately fail.
Here at Judgment Collectors, we have the knowledge, tools, and experience required to succeed. Consider partnering with us to get those judgments paid as soon as possible. We take all the risk and bear all the expense.
Published March 28, 2023