Collecting Your Personal Injury Judgment
You’ve won your personal injury lawsuit. So what happens now? It’s easy to assume that the litigation is over once the court issues a judgment in your favor, ordering the other party to pay a specific amount of money to you. But the losing party is probably not going to hand you a check as you walk out of the courtroom door.
Collecting on a final judgment can be tricky, especially if the losing party does not voluntarily pay the damages award. What is the best way for you to collect the compensation owed to you?
What Is a Judgment Lien?
A judgment lien is one way to ensure that the losing party (also called the debtor) pays a court-ordered monetary award to the winning party (also called the creditor).
A lien is a claim on someone else’s property. It gives the lienholder the right to take that property if the debtor does not make timely payments on the money it owes to the lienholder. A mortgage is a common type of lien. In that case, the bank holds a mortgage on your house, and if you don’t make timely payments to the bank then you can lose your home.
A judgment lien can also be attached to the debtor’s house and other real estate (like a condo or land). Florida also permits judgment liens on personal property, like jewelry, art and other valuables.
How Do I Obtain a Judgment Lien?
To attach the lien on real estate, the creditor must record the judgment in the county in which the property is located. The lien will remain attached for 10 years, even if the debtor sells the property to someone else. To attach the lien on personal property, the creditor must file the judgment with the Florida Department of State. This lien will remain attached for 5 years.
Collecting on a judgment lien can be complicated if there other liens attached to the property, if the debtor files for bankruptcy, or if the property is foreclosed. An experienced attorney will explain all of your options and help you obtain the money that is owed to you.
The Homestead Exemption
Florida grants a “homestead exemption” to debtors with a judgment lien attached to their primary residence. This means that a portion of the home’s value cannot be touched by creditors. The standard exemption is $25,000, and it only applies to permanent Florida residents. So if someone has a vacation home in Florida that residence is not covered under the homestead exemption.
Contact Us Today
Contact an Orlando personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you were injured by another person’s negligence. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the litigation process from beginning to end, including helping you collect the judgment entered in your favor.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Myers, Miami, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.