I have an accident judgement from 4 years ago and the attorney won’t negotiate. Can he do that???

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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I have an accident judgement from 4 years ago and the attorney won’t negotiate. Can he do that???

I got in a accident 4 years ago and missed court. Long story short they sued and it took a couple years to hit. I got stopped and found out the hard way. I went to court a couple times and the secretary of state. Now trying to negotiate with the other attorney and he’s brutal. I owe $3214. I tried to negotiate $100-$150 a month but he said I need at least $1000 to even consider talking to me. Can he do that? I’m trying to get my life together and I really need a car for work. I do temp jobs and independent contractor work such as food deliveries. I go back to court to show the judge my SR-22 and installment or release papers. Do I need them filled out because he full them out without $1000?

Asked on September 6, 2017 under Accident Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It's perfectly legal. Why should the attorney negotiate--he's already won. That's what a judgment means: the court has already determined (whether at trial or because you failed to respond propertly or in time--legally it is the same) that you owe a certan amount of money. That means that the legal system has already determined that you owed the full amount all at once or immediately. If you don't come to an agreement with the other side, they can look to garnish your wages, execute on (have the sheriff seize and sell) any vehicles or other identifiable valuables you own, levy on (take money out of) your bank accounts, put  a lien on any real estate you own, etc. They have all the leverage; if you don't do what they want, they can proceed to use the collections methods discussed above. So while you can try to negotiate with them, they don't have to be reaonable or flexible; legally, they can hold out for whatever they want, since it has already been determined that you owe them $3,214.
For what it's worth, they *are* being reasonable: no attorney worth his/her salt would settle without getting his/her client 1/3 to 1/2 up front and the rest over time--I know I would not.

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