When you are victorious in a lawsuit, the money you receive is usually referred to as special damages or economic damages. This is in contrast to non-economic damages, which are known as general damages. Even if you have a successful outcome in court, this does not necessarily mean that you will be paid immediately. A judgment in your favor is essentially a document that states that you are owed money, but collecting on this judgment can be a long and difficult process.
For this reason, it is essential for you and your lawyer to consider the potential for collection when deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit. In most states, the clerk of the small claims court will mail out the decision of the case a few days or weeks after the hearing. The winner of the case will receive a monetary judgment and become the judicial creditor, while the loser becomes the debtor of the judgment. The majority of financial risk lies with the lawyer, as they must win the lawsuit in order to receive payment for their legal services.
However, there are some steps that can be taken to increase your chances of collecting on a judgment. One way to increase your chances of collecting on a judgment is to hire a collection agency. Collection agencies specialize in collecting on judgments and can often be more successful than individuals trying to collect on their own. Collection agencies typically charge a fee for their services, but they may be able to recover more money than you would be able to on your own. Another option is to file an abstract of judgment with the county recorder's office.
This will create a lien against any real estate owned by the debtor and will allow you to collect on any future sales of that property. You may also be able to garnish wages or bank accounts if you have an abstract of judgment. Finally, if all else fails, you may be able to file a motion for contempt against the debtor. This motion can be used if the debtor has failed to comply with any court orders or has failed to pay any money owed. If successful, this motion can result in jail time for the debtor. No matter what type of lawsuit you are involved in, it's important to understand what happens when you win and how best to collect on your judgment.
By understanding these concepts and taking steps to increase your chances of collecting on a judgment, you can ensure that you receive the money that is rightfully yours.