Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

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Collecting on a Personal Injury Judgment

Posted Friday, February 9, 2018 by Chris Thayer

You were injured in a car accident, or when you slipped and fell on a slippery substance at a department store, or when a restaurant served you undercooked meat, or by any other negligent act. You filed a personal injury lawsuit, and the court agreed that the other party acted negligently and that you are entitled to a specific amount of damages.

That is great news! So, what happens now? The negligent party (now called the debtor) might drag his or her heels in fulfilling the debt. In fact, he or she might not want to pay you anything. What are your options if you find yourself faced with an intransigent debtor?

Entry of Judgment

A creditor (the person who received a favorable judgment) has 10 years from entry of judgment to collect or enforce that judgment. When the judgment is “entered” depends on the court. For example, a superior court judgment is “entered” when it is delivered to the clerk’s office for filing, and a district court judgment is “entered” on the date of entry of judgment in the court docket. An experienced attorney can help you understand these semantics and what rule applies in your case.

There are several ways to collect a personal injury judgment. Two popular collection methods are by a writ of garnishment and by obtaining a judgment lien.

Writ of Garnishment

Garnishment entitles the creditor to take proceeds that belong to the debtor. This usually happens by garnishing the wages paid by an employer to the debtor or by garnishing proceeds in the debtor’s bank account. The county clerk issues the writ of garnishment and sends it to the employer, financial institution or other relevant entity, usually within five days of the entry of judgment.

An experienced attorney can help you find out where the debtor works or banks. If the debtor is not forthcoming with that information, then we can petition the court to intercede. *Judgment Lien*

A judgment lien entitles the creditor to proceeds from the sale of the debtor’s property. Washington law only permits judgment liens on real estate owned by the debtor, like land or a house. Other states permit liens on personal property like art and jewelry. The judgment lien attaches to the real estate for 10 years, even if the property changes hands.

Keep in mind that other creditors may also try to garnish the debtor’s wages or attach a lien to his or her property. There are also certain exemptions to contend with. For example, you can not deprive the debtor of a place to live or take every last cent he or she owns. Collecting a judgment can be complicated, which is why you need an experienced attorney on your side.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you were injured by a negligent act. Our experienced attorneys will examine the facts of your case and help determine your best legal options. We will then guide you through the litigation process, including how to collect on a favorable judgment. You deserve to be compensated for your injuries.