If I take an at-fault driver to court and that person then refuses to pay me after being ordered to, what can I do?

UPDATED: Feb 3, 2015

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If I take an at-fault driver to court and that person then refuses to pay me after being ordered to, what can I do?

Asked on February 3, 2015 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

There are collections activities which you can try: if you know or can find out where he/she works, you can try garnishing his/her wages (having the employer send you part of the paycheck each pay period), for example. If you know or can find out where the person banks, you can levy on (have money taken out of) the bank account. If you know where the person lives, you can try to put a lien on real estate, or if you know anything valuable he/she owns, have a sherirr or court officer execute on (seize and sell) property, like a car.


1) First, you need information. There are mechanisms for getting this information, but they are not foolproof and they can be tricky/technical; you are advised to seek the assistance of lawyer who does collections work or a  collections agency.

2) Similarly, these collections methods can be tricky or technical, so again, you'd be better of with expert help.

3) At the end of the day, there are some people you'll never be able to collect from. For example, you can't garnish social security retirement or disabiltiy income, pension payments, welfare, etc., so that's the person's only source of income, you can't touch it. It's effectively impossible to garnish wages  from someone who is self-employed, especially in a mostly or entirely cash business, since you'd be trusting them to honestly send you part of their income. Some people don't keep money in the bank, so there is no bank account  to get money from. It's harder to collect from renters than homeowners, because renters don't have property to put a lien on. Etc.

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.

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