If You Sue Them, They Still Might Not Pay
How much do you know about civil litigation? Are you among those who believe that obtaining a court judgment against someone else guarantees you will get paid? If so, think again. Judgments are legal decisions that establish legal debts. Yet they do not guarantee anything. That is why the vast majority of judgments are never actually collected.
A False Assumption
The assumption that obtaining a judgment guarantees payment is a false one. I like to compare it to a classic baseball film entitled Field of Dreams. The 1989 Kevin Costner film tells the story of a farmer who has a supernatural encounter with some of the greatest baseball players in history.
Costner’s lead character is told by the baseball players that people will come if he builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield. It turns out he actually needs the income that would be generated by such visits to save his farm. In the end, he builds it and the visitors do come.
The phrase ‘if you build it, they will come’ is still used today to encourage people to take risks. The assumption is that risks generally pay off. But if we were to apply the phrase to judgment collection, it would have to be slightly different: if you sue them, they still might not pay.
You Had to Sue for a Reason
Picture yourself in a civil litigation situation. Imagine being a landlord trying to collect unpaid rent from a tenant you evicted months ago. Perhaps you are lucky enough to win a judgment against that tenant. But think about what you did. Think about why you did it.
You had to sue the person for a reason. You sued because your former tenant was not paying his rent. In fact, he hasn’t paid a dime in rent for half a year. He owes you back rent plus an extra fee for breaking his lease via eviction. Do you honestly think he is suddenly going to come up with the money because you take him to court?
Collection Is Rarely That Easy
It would be nice if judgment debtors came to court with checkbooks in hand, ready to pay what they owe as soon as the court’s decision is rendered. Yet collection is rarely that easy. Judgment creditors are already dealing with individuals who have shown reluctance to pay. That reluctance is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
A creditor can do everything right and still not see a penny. Making matters worse is having to pay court costs and attorney’s fees just to win a judgment. The fact that those costs and fees can be added to the judgment amount is of very little consolation if the debtor never makes an attempt to pay.
Bringing In a Collection Agency
All this gloom and doom can make it seem like suing isn’t worthwhile. It may or may not depend on the type of person you are dealing with. But there is a way to greatly increase the chances of getting paid in the event that you do sue and win: bring in a collection agency the minute a decision is rendered in your favor.
An agency like Salt Lake City’s Judgment Collectors is staffed by experts who do nothing but collect judgements. They have the tools, skills, and experience to do the job better than anyone else. If anyone can extract payment from a debtor, it is a specialized collection agency whose sole focus is judgments.
Just because you sue someone does not mean you will get paid. In the judgment collection game, there are no guarantees.