What to do When a Defendant Does Not Pay Your Nevada Damage Award

If you or someone you know has suffered injuries in a Nevada accident, filing a personal injury lawsuit for monetary compensation is just half the battle. If you have received a favorable judgement from a Nevada court in your personal injury lawsuit—whether this win was through a full-length trial or a well-negotiated settlement—this order is often not the last challenge a plaintiff faces.

Delays in Payment

Sometimes, collecting on a judgement or settlement agreement can be a difficult task. When a defendant does not pay the monies owed within a reasonable timeframe the plaintiff can be placed in an even more difficult financial position than he or she is already in as a result of the injury. This is because the main reason why a plaintiff files a Nevada personal injury lawsuit is to recover money for medical costs and income loss suffered as a result of the accident.

While some defendants are not able to pay the amount owed to you, others will risk being held in contempt by a Nevada court by withholding payment out of resentment. When a negotiated settlement is involved, a personal injury plaintiff may require defendant(s) to deposit the settlement funds into an escrow account as part of the agreement. If such an arrangement is not included in the agreement, a plaintiff will likely need to take further steps to recover the monies owed to him or her.

Collecting Your Award

A Las Vegas personal injury attorney attorney can help his or her client pursue several different avenues for collecting a damage award from an unwilling defendant under Nevada law. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Putting collections into the agreement: A personal injury plaintiff can protect him or herself by entering into a settlement agreement with a defendant who is unable or unwilling to pay on a judgment. Not only can a plaintiff refuse to accept a settlement that does not adequately address a provision for payment, but the contract can provide for a structured payment plan. This type of arrangement is often more attractive for defendants who must pay down liability out of personal assets as opposed to an insurance company;

  • Using a writ of execution to go after property: The owner of a judgment (i.e., the winning party) can request a Nevada court to issue a writ of execution. Essentially, this grants the plaintiff the authority to take possession of specific property owned by the defendant (i.e., cash or investments). In order to enforce a writ of execution, a plaintiff will likely need to hire a professional collection agent specializing in tracking down property;

  • Garnishing defendant’s wages: The plaintiff can request a Nevada court to order that the defendant’s employer withhold a part of his or her wages - assuming the defendant is employed - up to the maximum allowed by state law, to pay the monies owed;

  • Liening defendant’s property: While it is true that a personal injury plaintiff can not force a defendant to sell his or her property to pay off a judgment, he or she may be able to place a lien on defendant’s property so that it may not be sold without satisfying this judgment.

Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or someone you know has any questions about collecting on your personal injury judgment, the attorneys at Parry & Pfau can explain your rights and obligations under applicable law.

(image courtesy of Allef Vinicius)