Gary Bruce discusses restitution orders, judgments, and the challenges that can arise in enforcing and collecting damages and compensation from the people who cause injury. Payment of judgments if very difficult if there is no insurance available since most people do not have the means to pay and can file for bankruptcy in certain situations.
Payment of restitution and compensation for damages arising from an injury can be enforced through garnishment of wages and bankruptcy proceedings. However, having the correct insurance for your family and finding assets and coverage from the wrongdoer is sometimes the greatest challenge of a case. Lastly, Gary discusses the exception to the bankruptcy rule which does not allow for the discharge of punitive damages awarded by a judge or jury. The types of cases that give rise to punitive damages involve wanton and willful conduct such as impaired driving (DUI) and other activity which demonstrates a callous disregard for the consequences of an action. If you need to enforce a judgment or are seeking compensation where there does not appear to be enough coverage, please contact our office to discuss your options and how we might help.
Maureen: Hello there, and welcome to legal break. I’m Maureen Akers, and with us today Gary Bruce, as always, thanks for joining us again Gary.
Gary: Great to be here again.
Maureen: We’re here talking about a customer that has written to us and asked a very specific question about restitution in a lawsuit that hasn’t been fully paid back to them. What do you do? Do you have any advice on first steps there?
Gary: Well we had a viewer write in, and I appreciate that. And send your questions because I’m happy to try and answer as best I can. So she says we had someone embezzle money from our company. They were prosecuted by the district attorney, and part of their plea deal was they would make restitution and pay it back – which is essentially the same thing as a judgment, maybe even a little more teeth to it. So the question is what do I do, they haven’t paid it back. You know it’s not something I deal with all the time because it deals with the criminal system, but I think the first call is to the DA. Look they haven’t met the terms of their probation, what do we do? Do we revoke probation? Do we put them in jail? I don’t know the answer there’s but there are remedies there so that is a little different than a lawsuit, but it’s the same issue. You can get a piece of paper with a judgment on it, and we all have those in our drawers that aren’t worth the paper they’re written on because you got to collect from them.
So I think what it the point to take from it is this; economics is reality and collection is the reality of this whole process. Fortunately, there are insurance companies that people have to protect us socially, you know. If you’re hurt by someone and there’s no insurance, what do you do? You don’t go run their family over, but we hopefully have some social mechanism through our insurance that allows for people to be compensated. But even bigger than that, there needs to be justice so a judgment can be enforced, and there’s ways to do that through garnishment of wages or through bankruptcy courts, sometimes people find that they file bankruptcy after a big judgment. Now there are still remedies within the bankruptcy system to allow for payment to the extent possible
Maureen: That was going to be one of my questions about the garnishing wages but obviously you touched on that. Now, is there something even more serious that can be there another step that can be taken this even more serious than that it?
Gary: You know speaking about bankruptcy, that’s an interesting question. You can force people into bankruptcy to liquidate their assets. Interestingly, if you run into me and tear up my car, you can bankrupt that debt to me. But if you do it while you’re drunk or I have punitive damages against you, you cannot bankrupt that obligation. So yes, there are lawyers help do that, that’s part of what we do.
Maureen: Thank you so much for joining us and I look forward to seeing on a very next Legal Break!