Most people think once the judgment is handed, down the cash will quickly follow. However, it is not against the law in the US to owe money. "People think a judgment is a court document and if the defendant doesn't pay then the police are going to arrest him and they'll go to go to jail," explains Weihe. "But if they don't want to pay it they don't have to."
Non-payers often have to be pursued, and pursued vigorously.
"A collection agency will write or telephone debtors demanding payment, and the worst they can do to someone who owes you money is damage their credit rating. We are an asset investigation and recovery service. We will find out where the debtor lives, where they work, what assets they have in bank accounts or money market accounts."
Once a judgment is signed over to Premier Judgment Recovery Specialists, it locates the assets and then obtains a writ of execution. "That means a sheriff can go to debtor's place of business and stand there for four to eight hours and take the money right out of the till if they have to," explains Weihe. "Or a process server will go to the debtor's bank with the appropriate paper work and take the money right out of the debtor's bank account.
"We can also garnishee their wages if necessary."
"Bear in mind that we front all the costs and most people would rather have 50 percent of the judgment than nothing."
If people are in a hurry, Premier Judgment Recovery Specialists will buy the judgment for 20 percent of its value and pay the plaintiff immediately.
It is estimated that at least $1 billion in judgment money goes unrecovered every year in the US.
Steve Weihe is an account manager with Premier Judgment Recovery Specialists. The company is based in San Diego and recovers money for clients across the US.