So You Think You Have A Slam-Dunk Case! Consider This Before You Sue
One main consideration that people often fail to really think about when deciding whether to sue is whether they will be able to collect the amount they are suing for.
Yes, the case may be a slam-dunk case, but can we really say we have won if we are not able to collect that judgment. Before you sue, it’s important to consider the potential defendant’s finances. Some of the questions you will need to ask yourself will include:
Do I know where this person or entity has a bank account? (The name of the bank and branch location is sufficient).
Do I know where this person works?
Does this person/entity own any property?
Do I know whether this person is bankrupt?
These are of course only some of the questions that you will need to ask yourself.
If you can answer one of the first two questions in the affirmative and the judgment is not bankruptcy-protected, then things do get a bit simpler in terms of trying to collect an amount ordered should the defendant fail to abide by that court order. Garnishment of someone’s bank account or their wages/salary is my personal preference in acquiring funds ordered for my clients. I find the garnishment process to be the simplest and quickest method. However, if you can answer the third question in the affirmation there are other enforcement measures you may be able to access such as a writ of seizure and sale.
Where the judgment is not bankruptcy protected but you cannot answer any of the above questions in the affirmative, things become a bit more involved, though not impossible. I say this because you will now need to think about utilizing the services of a skip tracer/investigator and or proceeding with an examination hearing. The good news is that as of June 1, 2022, the Small Claims Court resumed scheduling examination hearings.
At this hearing, you will be able to request that the defendant disclose certain financial information. You can then use this information to proceed with enforcement measures such as garnishment.
It may not be worthwhile pursuing your case if the potential defendant is judgment proof, meaning it would be impossible to collect the amount owed to you. It is often difficult to make an assessment on your own prior to commencing your case. It is therefore always prudent to seek legal assistance from persons who have experience and legal training in handling these kinds of matters.