Avoiding Judgment

No one likes to find themselves involved in a civil action. This includes both the plaintiff and the defendant. Civil litigation can be lengthy, complex, and, in some cases, costly. However, there will be instances where seeking civil remedies are the only way to seek financial compensation in the aftermath of medical malpractice, wrongful death, product liability, breach of contract, etc. If a plaintiff in such cases proves successful, he/she will be awarded a monetary judgment. However, being awarded a judgment and actually collecting the money owed are two entirely different entities.

While one would assume that the defendant would be fearful of adverse actions due to not complying with the court's ruling, the fact remains that it is not out of the question for a defendant to completely default on a judgment. Yes, even fear of contempt of court penalties do not dissuade some from nonpayment. Then again, there are also those instances where the defendant may not have liquidity to pay a judgment at the time of the ruling. In such instances, the plaintiff may have to wait until the defendant has liquid assets available to cover the civil judgment. And, of course, there will be those rare instances where the defendant is hiding assets and income as a way of avoiding payment of a civil judgment.

It is important to note that regardless of the reason for nonpayment the plaintiff has a right to seek collection on the judgment that has been awarded. It is also important to point, however, that there are statutes of limitation in place on the ability to collect on a judgment.

Per the Pennsylvania legal code, the Pennsylvania statute of limitations on the collection of a judgment is four years. That means that unless further civil action is taken to collect on the judgment within a four year time frame, the plaintiff will lose the legal standing necessary to collect on the judgment. Granted, it is not impossible to have the statute of limitations extended (tolled) by court decree although such instances are rare. To ascertain whether or not an action to toll the statute of limitations on the collection of a judgment, it is best to discuss the specifics of the case with your attorney.

Winning a case and having a judgment awarded is never easy and neither is the collection of the judgment. This is why it is important to be diligent in order to collect on your award. If not, the statute of limitations may work against you and leave you in a very bad position. Obviously, this is not an optimum scenario and should be avoided.