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What Happens When You Sue Someone With No Money?

When someone has caused you harm or damaged your personal property, you are entitled to file a claim against them to recover compensation. However, what happens when you sue someone with no money? 

Civil lawsuits aim to protect your infringed rights and provide a method of recovering damages. Civil cases are filed against the liable or negligent party; the victim is awarded monetary compensation. But when the responsible party cannot cover the financial damages they owe, suing them may seem like a dead end. 

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney from West Coast Trial Lawyers. Someone from our dedicated and expert team will discuss your possible options for a financial settlement. 

Can You Sue Someone Who Has No Money?

You are well within your legal rights to sue someone who has caused you harm, regardless of whether they have money. Lack of financial resources or assets does not absolve a negligent party of their liability. 

If a person is struggling financially but has caused severe injuries to another, they may still be held liable and financially responsible for the victim's injuries and subsequent medical bills. 

Suing a broke person, however, presents its own set of challenges. While it can be extremely time-consuming, some situations absolve the liable party of any financial responsibility. This depends on the uniqueness of the case. 

If you are considering suing someone without money, speak with a personal injury lawyer at our law firm today. 

Strategies for Collecting a Judgment

A judgment is a court-ordered decision in a lawsuit. When a lawsuit involves a monetary claim or debt collection, a judgment may be made against the liable party so that the debt collector will have a stronger tool for collection. 

A judgment collection essentially involves collecting a lump sum or series of payments from a debtor to pay back what the creditor is owed. Trying to collect a judgment you are owed may be difficult in some cases, and sometimes it can be frustrating. 

If you are planning on collecting a judgment, here are some strategies for collecting a judgment that you might want to consider;

  • Bank levy: The debtor's bank account or safety deposit box can be levied (fined) by filing a Writ of Execution. You must provide the name of the bank and the branch location. After that, a levying officer from the sheriff’s department will collect and distribute the money owed from the bank. 
  • Garnish wages: Up to 25% of earnings may be withheld from the debtor’s salary if they are not self-employed. The debtor’s place of employment must be provided to the levying sheriff. 
  • Vehicle levy: The levying sheriff may sell or auction any vehicle registered to the debtor. Instructions on the vehicle's year, model, plate, and location must be given. 
  • Keeper levy: The creditor may instruct the sheriff to seize and retain control over all of the debtor's businesses and assets for a set period of time. 
  • Till tap levy: If the debtor owns a business that operates a cash register, the sheriff may be instructed to empty it. The name and location of the company must be provided in order for the execution of the till tap levy. The money from the cash register will be given to the creditor.  

Understanding Exemptions and Judgment-Proof Status

In certain situations, claims against a debtor may be denied or not permitted. These cases are part of the special exemptions. 

Being judgment-proof or having judgment-proof status means that the debtor's income is considered insufficient and exempt from debt collection or judgment. 

There are some scenarios where California law will prevent you from pursuing a claim against a person considered judgment-proof, like; 

  • If the debtor filed an affidavit declaring to be judgment-proof
  • If the debtor has filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
  • If the debtor has declared an exemption of income and assets 
  • If the debtor earns protected income or federal government benefits. These could include pensions, child support, social security, welfare, unemployment benefits, etc. 

Seeking Compensation When Insurance Doesn't Pay: What You Need to Know

Insurance policies usually have a limit on the payout amount they award, even if your claim is accepted.

If the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to pay the damages, it may be necessary to make a claim against other liable parties. Depending on the situation, there may be other third parties or insurance carriers for third parties you could make a claim against. 

You may even get compensation from your insurance company if the other party is an uninsured/underinsured motorist. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney today to learn more about all the options available to you. 

Debunking the Myth: Ability to Pay Has No Bearing on the Verdict

When trying to recoup financial losses in a civil lawsuit, it is important that the at-fault party can pay back. However, while it may be considered, the ability to pay back has no bearing on the verdict.

The defendant may be able to prove that repayment will cause them a substantial financial inconvenience, but this would not influence the verdict.

If a negligent party has caused you harm, you can ensure they are held liable by filing a claim against them. Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers to help you set up a claim and recover your damages today. 

The Pros and Cons of Waiting to File a Lawsuit Against a Defendant with No Money

If you decide that you would like to file a claim against an at-fault party who is unable to pay, you may choose to wait before filing. 

Waiting for a certain amount of time may give the liable party time to earn or gather the required amount. The disadvantage of this, however, is how time-consuming this might be. 

Another thing to remember if you decide to wait before filing a lawsuit against a defendant with no money is the statute of limitations

Keeping a Judgment Alive: Renewal and Other Considerations

The California statute of limitations for filing a judgment is ten years. If the debtor cannot pay or complete payment within this time, you must renew the judgment. 

The judgment must continue to be renewed to ensure the debtor pays the full amount. If the debtor cannot pay the creditor before the judgment expires, they are no longer under legal obligation to do so. 

You will need to keep renewing the judgment within the statute of limitations to keep the judgment alive, and judgment renewal comes at a cost. Speak with a personal injury lawyer about judgment renewal and adding renewal costs to the at-fault party’s debt. 

Consult for Free With West Coast Trial Lawyers 

An attorney will answer your questions and lay out your options so you can make the right decision for you. Speak with someone from the experienced personal injury team at West Coast Trial Lawyers, and they’ll be happy to assist you.
Our personal injury lawyers have won over $1 billion in settlements and have experience with all kinds of injury claims. Call for free today at 888-888-9285 or fill out our contact form and get a free case evaluation.

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