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You won your business litigation case, but did you really win?

Are you a company owner in California? Have you ever found yourself in the position where you needed to pursue business litigation against a customer, supplier or partner? It is certainly a tough spot to be in, but sometimes it is necessary in order for you to achieve compensation for any losses you have experienced.

Business litigation cases can be difficult. People typically go to court as a last resort, but you did it and you were successful at proving your case. The judge ordered a monetary judgment in your favor, so case closed -- right? Not likely. Now you have the job of trying to collect on that judgment.

Why would the debtor refuse to pay?

Believe it or not, this happens quite a bit. You win a judgment and the debtor refuses to pay or does everything possible to delay payment. One may do this because he or she cannot afford to pay or he or she simply disagrees with the order.

What can you do when this happens?

You actually have several options in order to collect the debt, and you generally have 10 years to do it. Your options may include:

  • Use post-judgment discovery in order to find a debtor's assets and other sources of income
  • Ask the court to garnish the debtor's wages
  • If the judgment is against a business, ask the court to seize assets

If you are unsuccessful in your efforts to recover the judgment before the time limit runs out, you may request an extension.

Is there anything that will make it completely impossible for me to collect?

Yes. If the debtor chooses to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the judgment owed you may be dischargeable. If the court does write it off, you may have no legal grounds to continue trying to collect the funds owed you.

Can I make attempts to collect on my own?

It may be possible, but the court recommends that you seek legal assistance with this type of issue. This is particularly true if you need to go back to court in order to seek to collect your judgment.

You would think that, after winning your business litigation case, collecting the judgment would be the easy part. It is unfortunate that this is not always the case, and it can certainly make you feel like you didn't win anything. It does not mean that you can't or that you never will collect, however. With the right help, you can take all the steps necessary to recover the compensation awarded to you.

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