The law presumes that if you are going to go to the trouble to bring a lawsuit against somebody who owes you money, you should be able to collect when you finally get a judgment against that person (the debtor). Accordingly, as part of a lawsuit, a very powerful tool you can use is called a prejudgment attachment.
A prejudgment attachment can be used to attach any money that person or that business has in one or more bank accounts or property in the hands of third parties (trustee process), to freeze money that a property owner owes to a contractor or subcontractor who has not paid you (a mechanic’s lien), or to make the debtor hold on to certain property until the conclusion of the lawsuit. You can make a prejudgment attachment on such assets as equipment, inventory, accounts receivable, or any other property that the debtor has.
At the conclusion of the lawsuit, your prejudgment attachment can be converted into what is called an execution, the process by which you ultimately end up with the property or funds unless the debtor pays you off.
Prejudgment attachments are regulated by statutes and court rules that are very specific. If the statute or the court’s rules are not strictly followed, it is possible for the debtor to defeat your attempt at the attachment. In other words, any lawyer who is making a prejudgment attachment on your behalf has to have all of the correct information, has to have enough time to be able to assemble the correct papers, and will almost certainly need you to accompany him or her to court and maybe even testify to ask the judge’s permission to make the attachment.
Obviously, being able to freeze a debtor’s assets until the conclusion of a lawsuit is a very powerful tool you can use to finally bring the debtor to a position in which the debtor is willing to talk with you about either paying you off or entering into a reasonable payment agreement over time.
After the court has attached the debtor’s property, the debtor must retain that property until the lawsuit is finished. Assuming you get a judgment, you can then ask the court for a writ of execution, a court document that allows you to obtain the attached property to satisfy the debt. If by this time the debtor has not entered into a payment agreement with you or paid you what he or she owes you, you can now ask the sheriff to sell the property and give you the money up to the amount you are owed.
This law office has been aggressively pursuing prejudgment attachments to aid creditors who have not been paid for nearly 30 years. If your company or you are in need of legal assistance to collect a debt, call our office at 800-909-LAWS (5297) or submit an online questionnaire. Because all cases are subject to a statute of limitations that limit the dates within which a lawsuit may be brought, call without delay to ensure you do not waive any of your rights.