Winning a personal injury settlement may feel like a victory after months of courtroom battles and deliberation, but what happens when the defendant cannot pay? Hitting a financial roadblock may occur if the negligent party did not carry insurance coverage, as the Insurance Information Institute reports that some states, such as Florida, have a high rate of uninsured drivers.
If you won a settlement and want to collect on one or more defendants who claim they do not have the means to pay, there may be several other options open to you.
If a defendant claims he or she cannot pay out of pocket, you might have the option of claiming any valuable assets the individual holds. You may be able to collect on the value of property such as real estate, cars and recreational vehicles. Under most state laws, the owners of these items cannot transfer titles or ownership to others in an attempt to prevent them from being seized or sold.
Unlike insurance companies, an individual found legally guilty of negligence may not have the means to pay you in one lump sum. However, you may consider setting up a payment plan that can help the debtor pay off your settlement without completely wiping out his or her finances. You may want to ask your attorney how to set up such a plan and how to make a contract for such payments legally binding.
Not all settlement collections are possible and may depend on a variety of financial and legal factors. Your attorney and ruling judge can help you decide which collection option is right for you.