Using legal proceedings to obtain a judgment in a construction dispute does not, unfortunately, get you paid once you obtain that judgment. Instead, creditors need to convert their judgment to actual cash that goes to the bottom line. Listed below are 4 options for doing so in Ohio:
1. Garnishment of personal earnings.
If your judgment is against an individual who is working, creditors can garnish the debtor’s wages. The process is relatively simple in terms of both the time and money required. While there are limits to the amount of the wages you can garnish, the garnishment is ongoing and continuing, meaning you will be paid as often as the judgment debtor is paid.
2. Garnishment of personal property, such as a bank account.
Garnishing a bank account is another relatively simple method of reducing your judgment to cash. If you have information on where the debtor banks (which you can find by looking at past payments made to you or the credit application the judgment debtor filled out for your company), it is an economical way to get some or all of your judgment in cash.
3. Execution against property.
Executions against property are generally more involved and may require more time and effort to successfully complete. However, the range of property available for execution is unlimited. You can execute on lands, leasehold interests and goods of the debtor, amongst others. The creditor must attempt to execute on personal property before executing on real property. The levying of goods requires a levying officer, typically a sheriff, who will physically tag the goods or seize them by taking possession of them. This process then necessarily requires the use and assistance of the sheriff’s office in accomplishing the execution.
4. Creditor’s bills.
If the debtor has insufficient real and personal property to satisfy a judgment, a creditor can use a Creditor’s Bill to get to claims the debtor has against others, whether they be in a pending lawsuit, other contracts or promissory notes that are due, amongst others. It requires a separate complaint and suit, so it is not as simple as some of the other collection methods outlined above. However, it can be effective and is worthwhile to consider when other methods have failed.
Careful consideration of one or multiple options for collection should be undertaken to reduce judgments to actual cash.