What assets are at risk in a civil lawsuit?

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What assets are at risk in a civil lawsuit?

My boyfriend went to court over a bar fight with a friend last year. They agreed in court to $15,000 and now the guy is suing again. Should we worry?We don’t own our home and have no trust funds! We have no assets but our jobs.

Asked on August 5, 2010 under Personal Injury, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) Any money in a bank account could be garnished (taken).

2) The party your boyfriend owes money to could garnish his wages (i.e. get a court order to take part of his salary).

3) Personal property (e.g. a car, furniture, a plasma or LCD TV) could theoretically be executed on with the proper court order--i.e. taken by the sheriff and sold to pay the creditor.

If you and your boyfriend are not married, your own personal assets (e.g. you own bank account; anything you can show is yours alone; your salary) should be safe, except to any extent that you agreed to help pay the judgment.

Note that judgments can be enforced for several years; even if it's not worth the judgment creditor taking action now, he could try to enforce it later, such as when your boyfriend has more money or owns a home.


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