How does the civil court ensure payment to a victorious plaintiff?

If I’m in smalls claims court because a deadbeat doesn’t live up to his agreement to pay me back and I win, then what? How is he forced to pay me? If he didn’t pay then, what will make him pay after he’s lost the lawsuit? How does the court ensure that the person pays up? What if they literally have no money to pay?

Asked on July 17, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This is when the term "hollow victory" comes in to play.  Once you win a court case you have to enter judgement against the defendant.  This is usually done by the clerk of the court and they include statutory interest, if applicable, and court fees.  The once it is reduced to a judgement you have to execute the judgement. This can be done through a Marshall for the City (levy on property such as bank accounts) or through their employer (garnishment) or filing a lien on their property if they own a home.  The good thing about the lien on property is that it is filed and is good for a good amount of time so it lingers on.  There are people who can help you collect.  Just be leery of scams.  Good luck. 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.