Writ of Execution – What does it mean?

We’ve had lots of calls over the last few weeks asking about a Writ of Execution.  Can I hire you?  Why didn’t they give me notice?  What can be done?   These are some of the frequent questions that we get regarding Writs of Execution.

What is a Writ of Execution?  A Writ of Execution is a document that allows the judgment creditor (the party that sued you and won) to freeze your bank account or place your personal items up for public sale.  The key here is that they have sued you, and you lost.   In most cases, this occurs after a default judgment is entered.   A default judgment occurs when you are sued and you ignore the lawsuit.  Even though I’ve been an attorney for close to 20 years, it continues to shock me that people receive a lawsuit and then ignore it.   Duh?   It’s not a very good idea.   That’s how you end up with a Writ of Execution or a frozen bank account.

There is no “notice” requirement for a Writ…. frankly, I tell people that the unpaid judgment is their notice.  Again, YOU WERE SUED, YOU LOST, AND YOU DIDN’T PAY.   That is your notice that something else bad may happen.  In all fairness, there are times when there literally is no notice.  This can occur when the original lawsuit was not served on the person and they didn’t know that there was a judgment.  Many clients tell us that they were not served, but this is a fairly infrequent event.  Yes, it happens, but its nowhere near the 50% ratio that our callers believe that it is.  If you were not served with the lawsuit, then yes we can do something about that execution.

This raises another issue though…namely, the value of the case.  Many of these credit card judgments that we see are fairly small…. $800 to $1500.   If you were not served, yes, we can fight that, but the question that is raised is whether its cost effective for you to do so because the defense at that point is two-fold.  Act to strike the judgment, then defend the case.  That is essentially two sets of legal fees.  I’m not at all saying that you shouldn’t hire an attorney in this situation, I’m simply saying that you have to look at economics in a situation like this.

Ok, so what can be done if you receive a Writ of Execution?  Well, in most cases, not much.   Again, if you were never served with the original lawsuit, that can provide an avenue to attack the underlying judgment.  If you were properly served with the original lawsuit, then, we can look at a few things to check for other errors but at this point the odds are slim.  Negotiation may be a possibility, though if a creditor has your bank account frozen they are extremely unlikely to release those funds.

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