I was in a car accident and am being sued. I have no money but was wondering how long someone can look for money from me after I declare that I have no money. If I win the lottery within a year, can they take money from that?
Judgments expire 6 years from the date of their entry unless they are renewed. See NRS NRS 11.190(1)(a) and 70.010(1). This section will address the process of renewing a judgment and will address:
•How do I renew a judgment?
•What information must be included in the Affidavit of Renewal?
•Does a bankruptcy filing affect a plaintiff’s ability to renew its judgment?
How do I renew a judgment?
A judgment creditor may renew a judgment which has not been paid by:
1.Filing an Affidavit of Renewal (link to form) with the court within 90 days before the judgment expires (See NRS 17.214(1)(a));
2.Recording the Affidavit of Renewal in the county recorder’s office within 3 days after the Affidavit of Renewal is filed if the judgment to be renewed is recorded (See NRS 17.214(1)(b)); and
3.Serving the Affidavit of Renewal on the judgment debtor within 3 days of filing. See Browning v. Dixon, 114 Nev. 213, 217 (1998).
What information must be included in the Affidavit of Renewal?
The Affidavit of Renewal must contain:
a. The names of the parties and the name of the judgment creditor’s successor in interest, if any (i.e. if there was an Assignment), and the source and succession of his title;
b. If the judgment is recorded, the name of the county and the number and the page of the book in which it is recorded;
c. The date and the amount of the judgment;
d. Whether there is an outstanding writ of execution for enforcement of the judgment;
e. The date and amount of any payment on the judgment;
f. Whether there are any setoffs or counterclaims in favor of the judgment debtor and the amount or, if a setoff or counterclaim is unsettled or undetermined it will be allowed as payment or credit on the judgment;
g. The exact amount due on the judgment; and
h. If the judgment was docketed by the clerk of the court upon a certified copy from any other court, and an abstract recorded with the county clerk, the name of each county in which the transcript has been docketed and the abstract recorded.
Does a bankruptcy filing affect a plaintiff’s ability to renew its judgment?
No. The United States Bankruptcy Code creates an automatic stay upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition of "any act to create, perfect, or enforce any lien against property of the estate" or "any act to create, perfect, or enforce against property of the debtor any lien to the extent that such lien secures a claim that arose before the commencement of the [bankruptcy] case." 11 U.S.C. § 362(a). Renewing a judgment is considered a ministerial act intended to notify parties in interest of the existence of a judgment, and does not serve as a vehicle for enforcing the judgment
If you had insurance coverage at the time of the accident (with insurance coverage being mandatory in Nevaa), then they are entitled to go after that money. Beyond the limits of your coverage, if they sue you and get a judgment, they can pursue the amount of the judgment beyond what insurance pays for years (a judgment is good for several years and can be renewed). However, it is very unusual for a case to go that far, as pursuing a judgment costs money with no guarnatee of collecting, and virtually no one bothers to go that route on the hope that you would win the lottery.
There are several issues for you to consider. First, did you have insurance at the time of the accident? If you did, you should contact your insurance carrier immediately and provide it notice of the Complaint. Your carrier owes you a Duty to Defend, and an attorney will be assigned to the case. If you did not have insurance, you may consider retaining an attorney on your own, depending upon both the extent of exposure and the assets you wish to protect. Second, if you are anticipating a large (potentially non-dischargeable) Judgment , you may consider consulting with an Bankruptcy Attorney. Of course, I understand this may not be an option based upon the potential size of your lottery winnings. Third, if the Judgment is valid, it may likely be recovered from your lottery winnings (presumably they still exist at the time the Judgment Debtor attempts collection).
In any event, my immediate concern for you is that you limit exposure by defending yourself in litigation. If you don't, the Plaintiff will likely obtain a judgment quickly, affecting your ability to appropriately strategize.
I hope you find this response helpful.
You are welcome to contact me if you need any assistance within our Practices Areas (Injuries and Disabilities).
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