In most medical malpractice cases, the healthcare provider's insurance company will pay any monetary judgment awarded. Sometimes, though, the defendant will be responsible for paying some or all the court award because the policy didn't cover the whole amount or the person didn't have insurance at all. Unfortunately, personal injury awards can be discharged in bankruptcy, but here are two things you can do to increases your chances of getting paid.
Put a Lien on Assets
As soon as possible after receiving the court judgment, put a lien on any assets the defendant has. This will protect you in a couple of ways. First, the defendant will be required to pay off the lien before he or she can transfer ownership of the asset. For example, if you put a lien on the person's house, the defendant must pay your lien off before he or she can sell it to another party.
Second, liens will typically survive bankruptcy. Although bankruptcy wipes out the defendant's requirement to pay the money owed and prohibits you from actively collecting your court judgment, you can require the defendant to pay the lien off as a condition of removing it from the asset. This ensures you still get paid something even if you're barred from taking further legal action to collect the judgment.
Levy the Defendant's Assets
It's a good idea to make it easy for the defendant to pay the money. If you know the person doesn't have the cash, you can set up a payment plan, for instance. However, if it appears the individual isn't interested in paying at all, your other option is to levy his or her assets whenever possible.
You can get a court order to garnish the person's bank account and wages. You can also obtain a writ of execution to take the defendant's valuable property (e.g. jewelry, vehicle), sell it, and apply the proceeds to the judgment. In some cases, you can get an assignment order that lets you intercept the person's tax refund or dip into a life insurance or annuity fund the person owns.
Be aware, though, being this aggressive with your collection activity may trigger the defendant into doing what he or she can to stop the legal action, which may involve filing counter motions with the court and possibly enacting the nuclear option and filing bankruptcy. It's best to talk to an attorney who can help guard against or overcome any strategy the defendant may enact to get out of paying the money owed.
For more information about these and other option for collecting your court judgment or help litigating a birth injury case, contact a lawyer.Share