Can You Recover Injury Compensation If A Defendant Is Uninsured And Broke?

Posted on: 1 May 2023

One of the scariest scenarios in personal injury law is that a claimant might have a solid case against a defendant who's both uninsured and broke. There are times when defendants are so destitute that they are functionally claim-proof and judgment-proof. Before you give up on a case, though, you and your personal injury attorney should take a long look at these four possible options for recovering compensation.

Payment Arrangement

It is still possible to reach a payment agreement with the defendant if they have some sort of income or accessible assets. However, they'll have to voluntarily enter into the deal. Otherwise, you may have to file suit or pursue another avenue.

Asset Lien

Even if a person isn't flush with cash, they may still have assets. In such cases, the first thing you have to do is to win a judgment or reach a settlement. Once it's clear that the losing defendant can't pay up, the personal injury law firm can file a separate lawsuit. The goal of this lawsuit is to get a judge to place a lien on any of the defendant's current or future assets until such time that you've recovered all of the compensation they owe.

This approach may be particularly useful if you believe the defendant is hiding assets. Using the discovery process and other investigative tools, your counsel can try to find hidden assets and have the court place a lien on them. In extreme cases, the defendant may even face fraud charges if they knowingly and willfully hid assets.

Is this a rough route to go? It is, but pursuing compensation from these sorts of defendants requires persistence.

Wage Garnishment

A similar solution is to garnish the defendant's wages. Once more, you and your counsel have to win a judgment or reach a settlement with the defense. You will once more have to sue. In this scenario, you're asking the court to attach the person's wages going forward. The court will enter an order requiring all employers to garnish a portion of the defendant's wages and give them to you until the compensation is paid in full.

Notably, asset liens and wage garnishments aren't mutually exclusive. You have every right to ask the court to do both.

Sue Someone Else

A more creative and less certain solution is to sue a different defendant. Suppose the incident involves a bankrupt business that was a tenant at a mall. You might sue the mall rather than the business in the hope of making the case stick.

To learn more, contact a personal injury law firm in your area such as Craig P. Kenny & Associates