Collecting Unpaid Judgments: Why Time Is the Enemy

Collecting Unpaid Judgments: Why Time Is the Enemy


Every day, civil courts across the country enter judgments against defendants. Some judgments are the result of outstanding debts that have not been paid. Other times, they are the result of civil lawsuits. The one thing they all have in common is time. From the plaintiff’s standpoint, time is the enemy.

Plaintiffs have only so much time to collect on outstanding judgments. The more time passes, the more difficult it is to collect. That’s why it’s in the plaintiff’s best interests to do whatever is necessary to collect on a judgment as quickly as possible.

Statutes of Limitation

Unfortunately, there are plenty of things that work against plaintiffs trying to collect unpaid judgments. Right off the bat you have statutes of limitation. Salt Lake City-based Judgment Collectors, a specialist judgment collection agency active in six states, says that the time limit on judgments in most states is between 7 and 10 years.

That may seem like a lot of time to a plaintiff working on collecting its very first judgment, but it is really not. Collecting on a judgment requires following certain rules and regulations. It requires following certain steps that can take some time to complete. That first year could easily roll into the second, and then the third, and so on.

Debtors Know How to Avoid Payment

The next problem plaintiffs face is the reality that some debtors know how to avoid payment. The experienced ones have done it before. Every instance of success only encourages them to do it again. But even defendants facing their first judgments have something working in their favor: an attorney.

Just as specialized judgment collection agencies know how he use the tools at their disposal to track down debtors and encourage them to pay, the attorneys who represent plaintiffs in civil cases know how to use the system to their client’s advantage. They know how to advise clients in the best ways to protect assets and other personal information. Rest assured they offer the advice when asked.

Trails Go Cold

Debt collection can take some time to complete. On the other hand, it also takes time for a debtor to do the things necessary to ensure their trail goes cold. For instance, let us say a debtor’s attorney advises him to sign over a piece of property to a relative so that it cannot be seized and used to pay the debt. That transaction cannot occur overnight. It will take some time.

This reality gives plaintiffs the edge in the weeks and months immediately following a judgment being entered. But the longer the judgment goes unpaid, the more the defendant can do to hide themself and their asset. Over time, the trail can go cold.

Bring In the Big Guns

Time is clearly the enemy to plaintiffs trying to collect unpaid judgments. The best way to prevent time from destroying collection efforts is to not wait to bring in the big guns. As soon as the judge’s gavel falls, a plaintiff should be in touch with a specialized debt collection agency ready to take on the job. Utilizing the plaintiff’s attorney is another option, but the attorney may not be able to give his full attention to debt collection.

Bringing in a judgment collection agency right away offers the opportunity to get right on the debtor’s trail before they have time to start obscuring it. The sooner a collection agency gets started, the better the results for the creditor. It is all about time, and time is the enemy when it comes to collecting judgments.


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