If you had a personal injury claim that went to trial, a judge or jury may have entered a civil judgement on your behalf. This civil judgement states how much money you are entitled to for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, if you have never been through this process before, you may not know much about collecting your money. Here are a few questions you may have about getting your money after a judge has entered a civil judgement on your behalf in regards to a personal injury case.
How Long Does the Defendant Have to Pay the Civil Judgement?
Unfortunately, there are many factors that affect how long a defendant has to pay the civil judgement. This includes state and county laws. The amount of time the defendant has to pay can also be lengthened if they file an appeal because the judgement is stayed, or can't be collected on, while an appeal is pending. Always read your judgement, as it will state how long a defendant, or their insurance company, has to either pay or file an appeal.
What Happens if the Defendant Does Not Pay the Civil Judgement?
If the defendant does not pay the civil judgement, you will have to take action to collect your money. If you have a personal injury attorney, they can help you take the needed steps to recover your award. If a defendant does not pay on a judgement, one of the ways you can attempt to recover money from them is to garnish their wages. Many states allow you to garnish up to 25 percent of a defendant's paycheck in order to repay a civil judgement. Another option may be to garnish their personal and/or business bank accounts. Lastly, if your judgement is against a company, you may be able to seize some of the assets that the business owns to recoup your money.
Will Bankruptcy Wipe Out a Civil Judgement?
If you are awarded a civil judgement and the defendant files chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be unable to collect on the debt any longer. There are exceptions to this rule, such as when your injuries were the result of fraudulent or malicious behavior. However, as a general rule of thumb, the debt may be wiped out. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to protect against or defend against this.
Being awarded a civil judgement on a personal injury claim does not mean you will automatically receive the money. In some cases, you may have to fight to recover the money and in others, the defendant may file an appeal or file for bankruptcy. Learning more about what happens after a judgement is entered will help you know what to expect.
For a personal injury attorney, contact a law firm such as Speers Reuland & Cibulskis, P.C.