If Iwon a lawsuit, how do I collect the unpaid portion of the debt?

My car was totalled in a car accident. The defendant was uninsured, fled the scene, and did not have a valid license. It’s been about 2 1/2 years since I won the court case. I only received 1 payment. When is it to late to collect?

Asked on July 13, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The good news, if you have a judgment in Alabama, you typically have up to 20 years to enforce it. The bad news, of course, is that if the debtor has no money, it doesn't matter how long you have--you won't be able to collect. There are some mechanisms you can try to collect. For example, you can go back to court to get an order garnishing (or taking part of) the defendant's wages. You might also be able to execute against some of his property, which means to force a sale of it for your benefit. Or you could possibly garnish his bank account. Those last two remedies, too, like any remedy to collect on a judgment, will involve going back to court. Since someone who is uninsured and did not have a valid license might not have meaningful assets or income, you should first ask yourself whether it worthwhile to continue pursuing this.


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