How to collect on a judgment

(WSVN) - A tow company damaged her car. When they would not pay to repair it, she sued them in small claims court. She won and got a judgment against them, but they still refused to pay. Instead of giving up, she did what South Florida does — call Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to find a way out of her mess.

Your car may not be brand-new, not so bright and not too shiny, but it has four wheels, cranks up, and that works for you.

Jaquelyn Turck, collecting a judgment: “It was perfect for me. Petite, and it was small, and it was my baby.”

Then one day, Jaquelyn’s 2003 Suzuki ran out of gas. A tow truck driver came to get her car.

Jaquelyn Turck: “And I asked the guy, ‘OK, that’s it? You guys got everything going?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah. We’ve done it many times.'”

But a few minutes and miles away, there was a problem.

Jaquelyn Turck: “I see my car smooshed in, and when I pulled over, I couldn’t even cry. It was unbelievable what I was seeing.”

Jaquelyn’s car had fallen off the tow truck.

Jaquelyn Turck: “He said, ‘Oh, pretty much they didn’t hook it up correctly, and it fell off as they were turning,’ and he said, ‘Oh, don’t worry, the insurance will take care of it.'”

It turns out the towing company didn’t have insurance.

Jaquelyn needed $2,900 to replace her car. The tow company offered her $800.

Jaquelyn Turck: “I was angry. I was upset. I’m not the type of person that’s going to scream and curse, even though that’s really what I want to do.”

Instead of cussing, Jaquelyn took the company to small claims court.

When they didn’t show up, the judge ordered them to pay Jaquelyn to replace her car.

Jaquelyn Turck: “About almost $3,000 — 2,900 something dollars.”

But the tow company never paid — leaving Jaquelyn to conclude that $2,900 was not worth the paper it’s printed on.

Jaquelyn Turck: “So I don’t understand how someone can go to sleep at night knowing that they caused something like this to a single mom.”

Well, Howard, how do you collect on a judgment?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “First of all, you would hope they would pay their debt. If not, a judgment just says you are entitled to the money. You then need to file judgment lien certificate with the state, then go to the clerk to get a writ of execution to seize their property or assets. The sheriff then does that for you. It sounds complicated, and it is.”

We then started doing a little digging. We found out the small towing company went out of business after Jaquelyn got the judgment against them.

Jaquelyn Turck: “I’m going to assume, if the company closed, then I’m not going to get nothing from them if it’s closed.”

Well, Howard, is Jaquelyn out of luck?

Howard Finkelstein: “Sadly, probably yes. Once an incorporated business closes, unless they leave assets behind, you cannot collect a judgment against them because the owners are protected by the law.”

But we don’t like giving up.

We got in touch with the man who ran the towing company.

The guy who offered Jaquelyn $800.

He said he didn’t even know there was a $2,900 judgment against them, but he said he would make a deal. He would split the difference with Jaquelyn and give her $1,500.

Jaquelyn said she would take the money.

All after that call to Help Me Howard.

Jaquelyn Turck: “I called Help Me Howard because, like I said, I don’t have a friend that’s a lawyer. I don’t know people.”

Well, you do have a friend. You do know a lawyer. Everyone does! It’s called Help Me Howard.

As Howard said, collecting on a judgment is complicated, so we have a link down below to show you how to do it.

Also, there are attorneys you can hire to collect the judgment who will take a percentage of what you get, or there are people who buy judgments from you, and then they go after the people who owe the money. A lot of options if someone owes you money.

Your hope of solving a problem crashed and smashed? Ready to watch it get towed away? Contact us. Hopefully, we can pass on a judgement that says, “You win.”

Tips on how to collect a judgement

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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