When you take another person to court for negligence, such as for a car accident, your case is in civil court. This means the verdict will only involve the exchange of money and no punishment, such as prison time.
Within the civil system, the court will make an order for one person to pay the other damages. If you receive an order for damages, you will have to collect on that order yourself. The Superior Court of California explains the court does not handle collections of civil damages.
Further court actions
If the person who owes you money fails to pay you, you may have to go back to court for further rulings to try to collect on the debt. You may need to get an order to discover the person’s assets or income sources. You may need to secure an order to garnish the person’s wages or bank accounts.
Note that further court actions will require more investment on your part of time and money. You will have to pay the fees upfront and hope you can add them to the debt owed.
Cutting your losses
In some situations, the person who owes you money has no way to pay it and there is no way to collect it. If you find yourself in this type of situation, you may just need to walk away. Sometimes, it is far better to let it go than to continue to spend money pursuing the matter when you will never see a payment from the person.
While a judgment gives you every right to try to collect the debt, it may not always be possible without further court involvement. In some cases, you may never be able to collect the money the person owes you.