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Bank Levy/ Civil Judgment

Los Angeles, CA |

I was sued for personal injury resulting from an auto accident . The damages exceeded my then 15k bodily limit policy and plaintiff won at trial for 56k . The judgment was in Nevada , I reside in California . The plaintiff refused to negotiate with me even though I have no house , or equity in my automobile . In self employed so wage garnishment is not an issue . However I did have liquid assets in various funds . Before trial began , I transferred all my holdings to a Delaware bank that only conducts business in Delaware . Am I safe from bank levy ? Would my funds be safer in a foreign account , though wouldn't there be more complex tax issues ? If I can avoid payment for a while ( say a couple years ) will the plaintiff / lawyer give up or make a reasonable offer to settle that makes sense ?

Attorney Answers 8

  1. There are investigative services that claim they can find bank accts. I dont know if that is true, and if the pltf in your case will want to spend the money paying investigators to do this search. I suspect they will have a Calif atty enter the Nv judgment in Calif so that they can try to collect against you here, and bring you into court on a debtors exam. You will have to answer questions under oath about your assets. It would be unethical for a lawyer to advise you to lie about your assets. If they learnof the assets in Del, they will have to go to Del to levy. I dont know Del law on that. I dont know if they could get a writ of attachment on the acct w/o you knowing, so that they could prevent removal of the funds from the bank. They also could try to have the Ca court order you to turn over the money from the Del account. if you fail to, you could possibly be held in contempt.
    It isnt possible to predict the amount of resolve the pltf and his atty have. You can look for an asset protection lawyer for advice.

  2. Judgements like this typically stay with you for life and in the event you have a windfall (lottery) than the judgement would be met. Your attorney for the case should've given you advice and in Florida under certain circumstances the insurance company may also hold liability.

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  3. A California judge can order you to turn over money or property to a judgment creditor. It's called a "turn-over order." A creditor who is on-the-ball can make your life miserable through aggressive tactics or can just sit back and wait until you have assets.

    Meanwhile, the judgment accrues interest at the rate of 10% and costs of collection can be included – a very good rate of return in today’s economic climate. Recorded abstracts of judgment and personal property liens attach automatically.

    Unless you intend to remain penniless the remainder of your life, perhaps you really should consider bankruptcy. Hopefully, the transfers you have made do not affect the exemption status of your present assets and the facts of the accident do not make the judgment nondischargeable.

    Avoiding creditors’ collection efforts does not make for a happy camper. The outstanding judgment is a huge ding on your credit for 10 years – longer if renewed. A bankruptcy might be the best way to resolve your present situation and allow you to have a future life. Good luck.

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  4. You need to consult a lawyer in 'bad-faith' cases, to determine if your insurance carrier handled the claim properly. They may be on the hook for the excess judgment.

  5. A judge can make you turn over can't hide them. A situation like this can be avoided for people is they simply drive with high policy limits. I recommend 100/300 minimum with an umbrella policy for a marginal amount.

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  6. I am curious; did your attorney offer the $15,000 to the plaintiff prior to trial commencing?

  7. I agree with Attorney Harting. Did your insurance company try to settle within the policy limits? If not, I strongly suggest that you consult an attorney for a possible bad faith claim against your carrier.

  8. You should pursue a claim against your insurance company for bad faith insurance litigation. Essentially, the insurance company owed you a duty to settle the claim and release you of liability in exchange for the policy limits. In Georgia, defendants assign the right to this claim to the meritorious plaintiff in an exchange of a release of liability for the excess judgment.

    You probably could choose between California and Nevada state courts. The decision would best be made dependent on whether bad faith insurance litigation has capped damages in either state under modern day tort reform legislation. If either state has legislatively limited insurance company liability for bad faith, pursue the claim in the other state.

    Ranalli and Zaniel has fantastic attorneys, specifically Michael Nixon, if you choose to pursue a claim in Nevada state courts.

    Answers to questions does not create an attorney/client relationship. I only am your attorney if I have entered into a written contract, signed by me, wherein I expressly assent to be your attorney. Nothing I post should be construed as legal advice to be acted upon, it is merely a legal opinion.