What’s the worst that can happen if someone is suing me but O don’t have the money to pay?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What’s the worst that can happen if someone is suing me but O don’t have the money to pay?

I was in an accident last year and just received a letter from a lawyer stating the cars owner is suing me for $13,000. I didn’t have insurance and the woman who was driving didn’t have a license. I told the lawyer the most I could pay is 10-15 a month, he said it wasn’t enough but im on cash assistance so I can’t more than that. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I’m a single parent to 4 kids so I’m really worried, could this turn into me going to jail because I can’t pay?

Asked on July 17, 2017 under Accident Law, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You won't go to jail.  This is a civil case (lawsuit); not a criminal case.
The worst that could happen would be a wage garnishment to enforce a court judgment against you.  The judgment could also be enforced with a lien on your property if you own a home.
When there is a court judgment against you which you can't pay, at that time it would be advisable to file bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is straight liquidation which will eliminate that debt.

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