When Collecting a Judgment, Aim for Low Hanging Fruit First

You have won a civil lawsuit that includes a monetary award. Now what? If you have done any online research, you might already be thinking about seizing the debtor’s vacation property and selling it to pay the debt. But before you go to that extreme, step back and look at the big picture. When it comes to collecting judgments, it is better to aim for the low hanging fruit first.

Aiming for the low hanging fruit means starting with the easiest remedies first. You may have to attempt seizing that vacation property if nothing else works. But going to such an extreme is often complicated, time consuming, and expensive. There are easier ways to seek payment. There are less complicated avenues to pursue.

Offer a Payment Plan

All of the means for collecting discussed in this post are offered with the assumption that the debtor is unable to pay what he owes immediately following the court’s ruling. In such a case, the lowest hanging piece of fruit is the simple payment plan. Although it might sound absurd, your debtor might be willing to enter into an affordable payment plan in order to avoid any other collection efforts.

What have you got to lose? If the debtor agrees and then sticks to the subsequent plan, you do not have to put any more time or effort into collection. You simply allow the monthly payments to come in as agreed. Once that final payment comes in, you are done. No fuss, no muss.

Wages and Bank Accounts

Perhaps the debtor is unwilling or unable to commit to a monthly payment plan. No worries. You also have low hanging fruit in wage and bank account garnishment. Note that garnishment is not possible in all states. It is available in most, and the process for garnishing is simple and cheap.

To begin garnishment, the debtor asks for a garnishment order from the court. Such an order compels the local sheriff to serve the order on the debtor’s employer and/or bank. In the case of an employer, a certain amount of the debtor’s paycheck is withheld and forwarded to the creditor or its representative. In the case of a bank, the institution would be compelled to seize a certain portion of the debtor’s financial assets and forward them.

Garnishing Business Debts

The last piece of low hanging fruit is business debt. In some states, the debts owed to your debtor can be garnished. Perhaps you are a landlord who has sued a heating and cooling contractor who rents space from you. That contractor has accounts receivables – just like you. State law may allow you to garnish those receivables.

In such a case, your debtor’s debtor would send payment for an invoice to you rather than the contractor. You could continue garnishing receivables until the entire debt is paid in full.

Working With a Collection Agency

Even when you are aiming for low hanging fruit, it’s still advisable to work with a collection agency from day one. An agency like Salt Lake City’s Judgment Collectors can manage all collection efforts for you. And if aiming for low hanging fruit ultimately fails, a collection agency is in the best position to move forward with more aggressive actions.

You may have to resort to placing liens on the debtor’s property. You may have to seek writs of execution to seize and sell assets. But start with the low hanging fruit first. Go after easier things like wages, bank accounts, and business debt. Only move on to liens and asset seizure if it is absolutely necessary.