As unsavory as it might seem, there are attorneys who lose civil lawsuits only to turn around and advise their clients to not pay. And when judgment debtors do not pay, they make life miserable on creditors. It is an unfortunate situation that happens far too often in this country.
There are only two legitimate reasons to offer such advice:
- The attorney disputes the judgment and needs time to appeal; and
- The debtor is legitimately judgment-proof, meaning they have no means to pay.
A truly judgment-proof debtor is a rarity. Likewise, appeals are a one-and-done exercises. Lose an appeal and a judgment stands. So that leaves us with the uncomfortable truth that the majority of judgment debtors who don’t pay are refusing to do so for a reason that doesn’t really pass muster.
Explore All the Options
So what is a creditor to do when a judgment debtor’s attorney is advising them to not pay? The first step is to explore all the options. Those options differ from state to state. For example, most states allow judgment creditors to garnish a judgment debtor’s wages. Yet not all do.
Likewise, the states tend to allow the seizure and sale of certain types of property for debt satisfaction. But what creditors can seize differs from one state to the next. Some states do not allow creditors to touch a debtor’s primary residence. Others do, but with homestead exemptions applied.
Consult With an Experienced Attorney
With all the options explored, the next step is to consult with an experienced attorney. The word ‘experienced’ is key here. Judgment collection is a specialized form of debt collection. It requires a certain level of knowledge and skill, especially in cases where judgment debtors are trying to evade contact.
An attorney with little experience in judgment collection might charge a lot for services while accomplishing little by way of actual payment. Then what’s the point? The judgment creditor might just as well waste his own money rather than paying an attorney to waste it for him.
Hire a Specialized Collection Agency
If a judgment creditor’s attorney is incapable of handling the case adequately, there is another option: hiring a specialized collection agency. A specialized collection agency is one like Salt Lake City’s Judgment Collectors, a collection agency active in 11 states.
Judgments are all Judgment Collectors handles. They don’t handle standard debt that could be dealt with by a general collection agency. By specializing only in judgments, they can leverage their knowledge and experience to:
- locate missing debtors via skip tracing.
- uncover previously hidden assets.
- arrange for wage and banking garnishment.
- work with attorneys to arrange for asset seizure.
Specialized collection agencies have access to a variety of tools to help them do what they do. In the skip tracing arena, they can access proprietary databases and other resources to locate debtors purposely trying to get lost. It is amazing to see what a good collection agency can do with limited information.
Give Up and Walk Away
If any of the previous options do not appeal, a judgment creditor can simply give up and walk away. A lot of them actually do. According to Judgment Collectors, upwards of 80% of all judgments rendered in the U.S. remain forever uncollected. It is pretty astounding.
In a perfect world, attorneys would not advise judgment debtors to avoid paying. But this isn’t a perfect world. The fact is that some attorneys do just that. They make a bad situation worse by encouraging their clients to not cooperate with creditors or the courts that ruled against them.