It is one thing to take a case to trial and win, but what happens then?
In many personal injury matters, an insurance company is responsible for
paying the judgment. However, if they are not, then how does one collect
the money owed?
The party who owes the money is called the judgment debtor, and the judgment
creditor is the party who is owed the money. Unless the judgment debtor
voluntarily pays the money owed or works out a payment plan, it is up
to the creditor to initiate proceedings to enforce the original judgment.
You will incur additional filing fees and likely appear in court again
for another proceeding. Collecting judgments can be difficult and complicated
in some cases, so you may want to hire an experienced
Maryland personal injury attorney who can assist.
Remedies for Collecting a Judgment
There is a 10-day stay before you can begin proceedings to collect on a
judgment owed. There are three main options available for you to collect
your judgment. These include:
- Garnishing the judgment debtor’s wages;
- Garnishing the judgment debtor’s bank account; or
- Seizing the defendant’s personal property or real estate in some cases.
In order to utilize these remedies, you need to find more information about
the defendant. You also need to determine whether the costs involved are
worth it. For example, you are responsible for all costs associated with
seizing real estate. It is important to do the math and determine whether
the proceeds from the sale, minus your costs, make the whole procedure
worth the time and effort.
Finding the Defendant’s Assets
To pursue any of the
legal remedies to collect a judgment, you need to bring the defendant in to learn about where their assets
are and what means they have to pay the judgment.
Once 30 days have passed, you can submit 15 written questions to the defendant
about finances and any real property owned. These are called Interrogatories
in Aid of Execution, and the judgment debtor is required to answer these
questions under oath. Questions should cover the most important ones that
can help you collect your judgment, including:
- Bank Account Information
- Real Estate Holdings
- Personal Property
Another option is to bring the defendant into a courtroom have them to
answer the same questions under oath. Like the written questions, this
process cannot be initiated until 30 days have passed since the judgment
was initially entered.
If the judgment debtor refuses to cooperate and answer the written questions
or appear in court, you can request the court issue a Show Cause Order
that summons the defendant to explain why they have ignored all efforts.
You can only do this after they have failed to answer written interrogatories
and an order from the judge to appear, or the failure to appear for an
oral examination ordered by the court.
If the judgment debtor still fails to show for the Show Cause hearing,
you may file an Attachment for Contempt. If the judge so chooses, the
debtor will be taken into custody and have to explain the failure to appear.
Contacting a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney
If you are looking to file a civil lawsuit against another party or need
assistance enforcing a judgment, please contact the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-804-2312 to schedule a consultation.