Civil litigation is often seen as the solution to solving legal problems. Plaintiffs sue defendants, expecting that the courts will enter judgments in their favor. And when that happens, plaintiffs assume the money will somehow magically end up in their bank accounts. It rarely happens that way. Securing a successful judgment is just the start of a much longer and more difficult process.
Plaintiffs, also known as judgment creditors, are left with the responsibility of enforcing judgments entered in their favor. Courts do not get involved in enforcement except under rare circumstances. To the surprise of many creditors, judgment debtors do not play nice. They don’t just cough up the money because a judgment has been entered against them.
What should be understood is that creditors do have legal tools at their disposal. But if those tools are not used correctly, they can actually harm a creditor’s efforts to collect. As a point of reference, here are the two most common mistakes judgment collectors make:
1. Revealing Their Collection Strategies
Immediately following successful civil litigation, a creditor and their attorney will seek to interview the debtor. Some states refer to this as a deposition. Other states use different terms. At any rate, the interview is given outside the courtroom. Its purpose is to get the information needed to enforce collection.
Inexperienced judgment collectors make a big mistake here by revealing their strategies. It is all in the questions they ask. For example, a creditor’s attorney asking about any real property the debtor owns immediately tells the debtor that the attorney is planning to file judgment liens.
If the attorney asks about the debtor’s employment, this is a sure sign they are planning to garnish the debtor’s wages. Questions about bank accounts, retirement funds, securities, etc. all tip debtors off to their creditor’s enforcement plans. That makes it easier for debtors to hide their assets to avoid payment.
2. Failing to Follow Up
A second big mistake made by inexperienced collectors is failing to follow up. For example, imagine a creditor asking for copies of tax returns and W-2 forms. A debtor obviously cannot furnish that documentation on the spot. He doesn’t have it with them. So he promises to get back to the creditor in due course.
Days later, the creditor may call and ask about the documentation. An excuse for not producing it is usually forthcoming. Here’s where the mistake occurs: far too many creditors hang up the phone and never follow up again. The documentation is never sent, and collection is stalled.
3. Professional Collection Is the Solution
Unfortunately, collecting on a court -entered judgment is not as easy and straightforward as it seems. Far too many creditors have neither the time nor the resources to deal with judgments. Most do not have an adequate knowledge of how the system works, either. They might turn to attorneys with little experience in collecting judgments.
So what’s the solution? Professional collection. Collection agencies specializing in judgments are found across the country. Judgment Collectors is one such example. They are a Salt Lake City firm that takes judgments on a contingency basis.
The advantage of working with an experienced collection agency is knowledge. Specialized agencies fully understand how the system works. They understand all applicable laws. Best of all, they know how to uncover assets and encourage payment to the full advantage of their clients.
If your company is facing unpaid judgments, be careful to avoid mistakes that could harm your chances of getting paid. You might even consider hiring a specialized judgment collection agency to handle the job for you.