Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,“what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
We’re fortunate in the West that we have a functioning legal system. We take for granted the fact that people who commit crimes will pay for them. It’s thanks to this legal system that disputes are resolved, and people can get the restitution they deserve. Each year in the United States, there are some half a million Federal tort cases. Though many of these cases never make it to court, those that do offer significant monetary compensation. On average, the compensation payout for injury lawsuits in 2015 was $60,000. The average awarded in damages lawsuits was only a little less, at $50,000.
This underscores how seriousness courts take damages litigation.
Despite the seriousness, the legal system doesn’t always work the way that we would like it to. For instance, let’s suppose that you’re suing somebody for damages. You want to make sure that they compensate you for all the negative consequences of their actions. In preparation, you hire a well-referenced lawyer and go through the court system. In other words, you do everything by the book. Yet, when it comes to collecting the payment that you’re owed, things can go off-book quite quickly.
Sometimes it can turn out that the whole litigation process was in vain. The person or company that you were suing simply doesn’t have the funds or the assets to meet your compensation demands. It turns out that they have few, if any monetizable assets. As a result, you end up with expensive legal fees and little to show for it.
Occasionally, the person you are suing may be able to hide their net worth. Perhaps they have money stowed away in their houses or perhaps they have an offshore bank account. This is where a professional asset search can help. Professional asset searches allow you to look for evidence of the net worth of the person you are suing before you go through the court system. This allows you calibrate your claim, depending on how much money they person can pay.
But asset searches are also worthwhile for a secondary reason. You can find out whether a person is doing anything to hide their net worth from you and the court system. In court, you can use asset searches to portray how much the defendant can afford to pay. With this knowledge, the court might decide to increase the amount awarded, more than they would had the information not come to light.
The transfer of assets to avoid being sued can be a real and pressing issue for those trying to get compensation. This is why so many people are looking for new ways to secure the money that is owed to them.
While I hope you will never have to take a client or contractor to even small claims court, these tips are important to keep in mind from both the plaintiff and defendant perspectives. As a business owner, you should file the correct paperwork with your state to separate personal and business assets, but must be aware that in a professional asset search, there is likely to not be a separation.