Winning Your Case and Getting Paid are Two Different Things
When you want to file a lawsuit, and you discuss it with your friends, colleagues, or attorneys, you will probably discuss primarily, whether you can win, and your chances of winning your case. What you may not discuss, but should, is whether or not if you win or settle your case, you’ll ever actually see the money.
No Discovery Allowed
Unfortunately in a lawsuit, you are not allowed to get information on the other side’s ability to pay a judgment. In other words, before you actually win your case, you can’t uncover their bank statements, assets, or other things that would tell you whether or not they have an ability to pay, should you win.
Certainly, there are times when you are suing such a large company, that it is obvious they can and will pay. And if insurance is defending the other side, you can be reasonably certain that you will get paid as well.
But there are other items when you aren’t so certain, just on the surface, and just by looking, whether you will get paid. Smaller or mid sized companies, companies that are only online, independent contractors or companies that are just a “mom and pop” business, may either not have the ability to pay a judgment, or they may be able to just close up the company and move on, instead of paying.
After the Judgment
When and if you do get a judgment, you do have a right to ask the other side about its assets. At that point, they will have to list income and property that could be available for you to take to collect your judgment.
But even then it’s not so simple—especially if the other side is a person, and not a business, in which case they are afforded a number of exemptions.
Exemptions means that even if they have money or property, it cannot be taken. So, for example, someone that is head of a household cannot have money or property taken, equity in a home is protected, and certain other property of value, is protected from being taken.
What if There’s Nothing?
If the other side has nothing (or nothing that can legally be taken), you are left to follow up with them on a routine basis. You would have to go back periodically to see if their financial situation has changed. You can record your judgment, which may be a lien on their real property, meaning you will get paid when and if the property is sold, but you cannot just foreclose on their real property.
This means that even after you get your judgment, there could well be a process to get your money. It is also a consideration to think about before taking your case to trial, lest you want to go the distance, and then find you won more than what they can ever pay you.
Get help with your business law case, from start to finish. Call the West Palm Beach business litigation lawyers at Pike & Lustig today.