How to Collect a Personal Injury Judgment
Have you successfully won a settlement on a personal injury claim? Unfortunately, you are not done yet. The next step is the most important, and can also be the most difficult, for moving forward: the collection. It is not uncommon for a defendant in a personal injury case to be stubborn and unyielding in the delivery of the money that he or she knows, which can be frustrating after all the time and effort that you put into securing the recovery order. At Bill Easterly & Associates, we know that you need the money that you are due and want to help you understand your options for collecting it.
Our team of legal professionals have more than 25 years of experience in personal injury law and are dedicated to ensuring that individuals can recover the financial support that they need after suffering at the hands of negligent or reckless individuals. Furthermore, we want to provide you with the knowledge and resources that you need to collect the money that you are owed after the case has closed. If the defendant in your personal injury claim is stubborn or is not yet financially capable of paying you, you do have options.
Steps to Take for Collecting Judgments
The first step would be to conduct a discovery of the defendant’s assets to determine where his or her non-exempt assets lie. In a discovery, you can file interrogatories and requests for documentation which will allow you to expose sources of income and other financial assets. Once the discovery has been completed, you can then determine where the defendant can afford the court-ordered restitution and take action to ensure that you receive the finances that you are owed.
Methods of collecting include:
- Wage garnishment
- Bank account garnishment
- Real property liens
- Personal property execution
It is important to note that there are certain types of property that are exempt from collections. Additionally, execution of a recovery must be made within ten years of the date that the order was made. This means that, after ten years, a defendant is no longer required by law to pay any amount that you have not yet received. Thus, it is crucial that you take immediate action to recover the full compensation that you are owed.
Wage and Bank Account Garnishment Laws
If in the discovery period, you are successfully able to determine where a defendant has bank accounts, you may garnish these for to satisfy your settlement. Additionally, you can garnish the debtor’s wages, which requires a scheduled hearing with the court to prove that the defendant owes you money and has failed to pay it. Garnishment means that you are automatically paid a portion of the debtor’s wages until he or she has satisfied the debt to you.
In Tennessee, laws that protect a debtor’s wages include:
- You can only garnish up to 25% of a defendant’s paycheck (or)
- You can only garnish up to the amount of a defendant’s total weekly earnings in excess of 30 times the minimum hourly wage.
- If the defendant has dependent children under the age of 16, an amount of $2.50 per child will be exempt from wage garnishment.
- You are not lawfully allowed to collect from debtor’s social security, disability, pension, unemployment, or welfare wages.
Additional Notes on Collections
In some cases, specifically in those in which you are owed a settlement by a company or business, you may be able to have law enforcement intervene and seize money, assets, or machinery to sell and pay you the amount you are owed. Furthermore, if the debtor files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, under the terms of the bankruptcy, you will no longer be able to collect the restitution from them.
If you are attempting to collect a judgment against a debtor or his or her property that is located outside of Tennessee, you must file a foreign judgment that includes the defendant’s out-of-state contact information. The court will then order a summons to be delivered to the defendant and the property will then be subject to the same collections processes. A competent collections attorney can assist you with all aspects of the collections process.
Dedicated Legal Counsel in Nashville
At Bill Easterly & Associates, we understand the stress and frustration of court proceedings after being injured by a negligent individual or entity. This is amplified if a defendant from whom you have successfully won a recovery refuses or is unable to pay the funds that you are owed. We believe that no victim of negligence should have to suffer any more than they already have and want to provide you with the tools that you need to collect the money that you deserve.
For more information, contact our firm today!