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How do I recover damages after a car accident?

When you have been injured because of the negligence or malice of someone else, such as a car accident or other catastrophic event, it may be necessary to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party to recover fair compensation for your injuries and losses. However, winning your personal injury case is not always the end of the fight. If you have been awarded monetary damages, it may be a another fight entirely to actually receive what you deserve.

First, it is important to pursue payment through proper channels. A vigilante approach to obtaining what you are owed may create further legal issues for you or lead to physical harm if you are involved in an altercation with the party who owes you.

Once you are awarded damages in a civil suit, the defendant may either be unable to pay what you are owed or simply refuse to follow the court order. Depending on the nature of your situation, there are several remedies that may be pursued.

When you gain a judgment against an individual or business, you may be able to petition the court to grant you the right to a post-judgment discovery. This allows you to inspect all of the assets your debtor has that may be pursued for your damages. You may also enlist the help of the court to garnish wages or bank accounts of your debtor. In some cases, you may be able to seize property or equipment from an individual or company.

The notion of a civil suit leading to a sudden windfall is often very inaccurate. Receiving full payment for your judgment may take many years, as a debtor pays you in small installments. The statute of limitations for collecting civil damages is generally 10 years, with another renewable 10 years. If you are exploring options for damage recovery, an experienced lawyer can guide you through the process and ensure that your are paid in a fair and appropriate manner.

Source: Findlaw, "After a Judgment: Collecting Money," accessed Dec. 29, 2016

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