One of the first questions our car accident clients ask us when we first meet is how much their case is worth. The second question they ask us is how long it will take to get paid. We always explain that it is impossible to give a client an exact figure for what their case may be worth. We also explain that it could be months or years before they receive any money at all. Nobody wants to hear this of course. However, our Georgia injury attorneys would rather be honest and upfront rather than make promises they cannot keep.
Not surprisingly, from the moment the judge reads the civil verdict ordering that the defendant is liable for your damages, you will want to know when your judgment will be paid. The unfortunate thing about having a civil judgement is that it may, at times, be worth less than the paper it is printed on. This may sound cruel, but the fact is there are many defendants out there they will do whatever they can to avoid paying your judgment.
Over the years, our Georgia injury attorneys have handled cases where a defendant will move from state to state every year to avoid judgment creditors. They move property into their spouses or friends name to make sure your Georgia injury attorney can’t put a lien against the property. It is sad to think that people will go to such lengths when, had they just done the right thing from the start, there wouldn’t have been an accident in the first place.
It Depends on Who You Sued and Who You Have a Judgment Against
As briefly explained above, whether your judgement is ever paid depends heavily on who the defendant was. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, your Georgia injury attorneys will name all possible defendants in your complaint. This includes any other drivers involved in the crash, their insurance carriers, and any other third parties who may have contributed to the accident. There are several reasons why we do this.
Your Georgia injury attorney knows that your best chance of having your damages paid is by securing a judgment against the defendant’s insurance carrier. By law, when you sue another motorist for a car accident lawsuit, their insurance company must defend the lawsuit on their behalf. At the same time, your lawyer is going to name the insurance company as a party to the suit. This means that, regardless of who ends up paying the judgment, you have at least covered all the bases when it comes to potential judgment payers.
If Your Georgia Injury Attorneys Sued the Driver Personally, That is Another Story
The worst-case scenario is that you and your case but that your judgment is only against the other driver. If you happen to get hit by an uninsured motorist, you can file a claim under your own policies uninsured motorist clause. However, most policies limit your coverage to less than $10,000. Even in a minor car accident, one that doesn’t cause any serious injuries, your damages will typically be more than $10,000. What this means is that your Georgia injury attorneys will more than likely have to sue the driver personally for the difference.
Years ago, if you got a judgement against somebody, you were allowed to go after their wages, their bank accounts, and their real property. There were a few states, such as Texas and Florida, where creditors had no recourse against the people they sued. What happened is that a lot of people who had run up a lot of debt would move to debtor- friendly states such as Florida and Texas. Once they were there, they were considered untouchable.
Today, it has gotten to the point where it almost doesn’t matter what state you live in, you have very limited rights to pursue the defendant to pay your judgment. Almost all states have limits on wage executions and bank levies today. And when it comes to putting a lien against somebody’s home, unless they sell their house, you will never see a dime of that money. This is why we always suggest that you let us at least reach out to the other side and try and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. The way we see it, 70% of your damages paid now is much better than 100% of nothing later on.
Let Your Georgia Injury Attorneys Take Care of Post-Judgment Execution
One thing we usually warn our clients about early on in the case is that it’s not always the best idea to go to trial. And when you settle your case, even if it’s only a couple days before trial starts, you’ll get your money typically within 30 to 60 days. You’ll be paid in one lump sum and, once your Atlanta car accident lawyer takes their fee and any costs related to your case off the top, most of the remaining proceeds will be yours. You won’t be waiting months or even years to receive your money. You also won’t risk the fact that the defendant has no assets and therefore your judgement is worthless.
We always ask our clients to trust that we typically know when it makes sense to settle. Almost from the start, your attorney and their paralegal will spend quite a bit of time investigating the defendant’s assets. If the defendant had insurance, then you can hope that they will pay the judgment once it is handed down. However, for all you know, the insurance company could close their doors tomorrow. Or they could appeal the case. If either of these things happen, you may never see a dime of your money. This is just one of the reasons why we suggest you at least consider a settlement rather than go to trial.
Of course, if you have already gone to trial and won your lawsuit, you’re probably expecting to be paid any day now. Unfortunately, there are times when we represent a client who had won at trial but were never paid. We don’t want that to happen to any of our clients. That’s why we ask that you trust your Georgia injury attorney has your best interest at heart.
If you have recently been involved in a car accident and are hoping to settle or win your case, contact our office. You can schedule your free, initial consultation with one of our Atlanta car accident lawyers over the phone or through our website.