Collecting Outstanding Judgments: Do You Know the Language?

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A judgment is a court decision rendered in a civil case. It could be anything from a monetary award to a court order involving the defendant’s conduct. When money is involved, enforcement focuses on collecting it. According to Judgment Collectors out of Salt Lake City, UT, collecting a judgment is often more difficult than obtaining it.

Successful collections are hampered by a variety of things, including legal restrictions. Individuals and organizations trying to collect in-house are often victims of their own ignorance. They do not know how the system works. They don’t know their legal rights and responsibilities. They do not even know the language.

Yes, the judgment collection industry has its own language. If you don’t know it, you could find yourself lost in a sea of ignorance as you try to collect an outstanding judgment. Before beginning collection efforts, it is wise to learn the language. Below are just some of the terms you will need to know.

1. Money Judgment

Judgments come in a variety of forms. The form we are dealing with in this post is the money judgment. Such judgments stem from cases involving a plaintiff seeking some sort of monetary award from the defendant. Personal injury cases are the classic example.

Note that not all judgements involve monetary awards. For example, a group of people might sue the local town council to prevent zoning changes. A judgment in their favor would halt any changes already in the works. No monetary award would be paid.

2. Judgment Creditor

When a civil suit results in a monetary award for one party, that party becomes the judgment creditor. It is the plaintiff in almost every case. As the person or organization to whom the money is owed, the winning party becomes a creditor of the losing party. As for the monetary award, it is a legally recognized debt that can be collected by the creditor or its representative.

3. Judgment Debtor

If the winning party in a money judgment is the judgment creditor, that makes the losing party the judgment debtor. It is no more complicated than that. A judgment debtor is just as legally responsible for the monetary award as any other bill he is legally compelled to pay.

4. Judgment Lien

The next term, judgment lien, can mean several different things depending on jurisdiction. Generally speaking, a lien is a legal instrument that demonstrates one party’s financial interest in another party’s property. A bank places a lien on a customer’s house until the mortgage on that house is paid off. As long as the lien remains in place, the bank has a financial interest in the property.

In some states, a similar definition exists for the judgment lien. A creditor might file a lien against a debtor’s property for payment of the judgment. It is a very specific legal instrument in such cases. However, other jurisdictions take a more general approach. Instead of the judgment being specific, it’s a general tool that gives creditors access to a variety of collection methods including garnishment and property seizure.

5. Garnishment

Since garnishment came up in the previous point, we will close by discussing it. Garnishment is an official order that compels a judgment debtor’s employer to withhold some of his wages for repayment of the debt. Some states also allow bank account garnishment.

These are just a few of the basic terms commonly bandied about in the judgment collection arena. Whether you have an outstanding judgment or you are planning to file a suit, learn the language before attempting to collect a monetary award. You will be better off for it.

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