I won my lawsuit, now what?

If you find yourself in the position of having been awarded a judgment against another person or company, but have no idea as to how to collect it, the following should help.

One common misconception is that the court will collect the money for you. The court only issue orders and other documents that you may need to collect your judgment from the debtor.  Assuming the debtor is not paying you voluntarily, you can do the following:

  • Find out about the debtor’s assets and income- You can accomplish this by requesting the debtor to appear in court to answer questions about their assets and income, under oath. You can ask about things like where he/she works, how much he/she earns, if they own a house, boat, stock or any other assets like bank accounts.
  • Collect from the debtor’s property- Once you know where the property, accounts and other assets are located, you can file the necessary  paperwork  to collect the unpaid amount from the debtor’s bank accounts. You can also place a lien on the debtors real property  or personal property (car, jewelry, rare books, etc.) to collect from the proceeds upon sale or receipt of that property, or file to have the sheriff or marshall take the debtor’s real property and sell it at a public auction.
  • Place a lien on the debtor’s recovery in a pending lawsuit- you may be able to put a lien on the money the debtor hopes to get their recovery if they win the lawsuit (like you have yours).

Collecting a judgment can be a complicated and time consuming process. Resources to help you accomplish this task on your own include the California Courts website.

Otherwise obtaining an attorney to help you through the process is recommended.

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