What If The Liable Party Cannot Pay Me?

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | October 26, 2015
What If The Liable Party Cannot Pay Me?

It is 6 p.m. on a Friday night and your weekend is just about to start after a long week of late nights in the office. As you are driving downtown, a negligent driver runs a red light at excessive speeds and collides into the side of your car. This collision causes your vehicle to spin out of control before smacking into a brick building. As you push your door open and slowly emerge from your crushed vehicle, it is clear that this accident’s damage is significant. The person who caused this accident, known as the liable party, is responsible for all of the damages that result including medical expenses such as hospital fees, medications, surgeries, physical therapy, or any other medical bills, property costs from repairing or replacing your vehicle, lost wages, pain and suffering, and a range of other associated damages. There are steps that you can take to receive the compensation you are owed and begin the process of moving past the auto accident, this includes filing a police report, seeking medical attention, hiring a lawyer, filing a personal injury claim, and winning an award against the negligent driver. However, even when a judge or jury determines that an injured victim is entitled to recovery, sometimes the legal battle may not be over if the liable party is unable or unwilling to pay.

Steps Towards Obtaining Compensation

Even if a liable party is initially unable to pay the required damages, there are avenues that a plaintiff can take to receive compensation. Most plaintiffs want to get the money they are owed sooner rather than later, which is why many settlement offers are accepted. However, if a defendant is unable to pay a large lump sum, the first option is to consider establishing a repayment plan. This arrangement set up through your attorney can allow you to receive payments over a matter of months or years which though full reimbursement is delayed, the alternative of not collecting any compensation is a worse option.

Another common avenue for an injured party is to seek wage garnishments for the court judgment. A wage garnishment arises when a court issues an order that requires a defendant’s employer to withhold a certain amount of the paycheck of the person the judgment was entered against and send it directly to the person the court judgment was entered in favor of.1 This type of wage garnishment or withholding is restricted by federal and state law which requires limits to ensure that the person whose wages are being garnished have enough money to cover living expenses.2 Missouri law follows federal standards which state that wages may be garnished in the lesser amount of 25% of your disposable earnings (10% if you the head of household) or the amount by which your weekly disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal hourly minimum wage.3 Missouri Revised Statute section 525.030 covers the garnishment of wages including the procedures, exemptions, and limitations.

In the event that the repayment plan or wage garnishment options, do not satisfy the need to receive compensation, it is also possible for defendant’s bank account to be frozen and for the funds to be withdrawn from the bank account directly. Other ways to receive compensation may depend on the nature and particularities of the case and parties involved; those avenues are based explored on an individual basis with the attorney working on your case.

Also, there are preemptive steps that motorists can take in order to prevent the situation in which a driver is involved in an accident and cannot receive sufficient compensation from the liable defendant. Drivers can carry underinsured motorist coverage through their insurance policy so that in the event that a driver is underinsured or unable to cover the full amount of damages, compensation can be received through filing a first party claim against the injured drivers own insurance policy.

Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation

If you have been involved in a car crash resulting in injury or other damages, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your accident with an experienced auto accident attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.


  1. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/if-wages-are-garnished-rights-33050.html
  2. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/missouri-wage-garnishment-laws.html

A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

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