Ask a Lawyer and Get Answers to Your Legal Questions
Hi, thank you for your question.
In which state did this occur?
Thank you. Who is the judgment creditor? In other words, to whom do you allegedly owe $4,000?
A lawyer for the insurance compony
the insurance company of the lady I hit but I have to send the payment to the lawyer.
You said that you received a letter and it is the final notice, but it is the first notice that you have seen. It's not clear to me if this is also the first time that you learned there was a judgment against you. When did you first learn that there was a judgment against you?
This is the first letter that I have seen.
I have not received any other letters.
Ok, so this is the first notice you have received of a notice against you, correct?
Excuse me, I meant to say "this is the first notice you have received of a judgment against you, correct?"
That is correct
Even if you did not receive notice of a judgment against you prior to receiving this letter, did you at any time receive notice that you had been sued?
Interesting. Do you know when the judgment was entered against you?
On the letter it say date of judgement 5/7/2007 but the accident was 1/4/2005.
Thank you for that information. Please allow me to explain the law:
Actually, I apologize... I do have just one or two more questions...
Does the letter tell you in which court the judgment was entered against you?
Thank you for your patience.
It say You are here by notified that you are subject to suspension in this state, under Section 56-9-430 SC Code of laws, 1976, as as amended as a result of receipt of judgement arising from the accident listed above. Then it goes to tell me what will happen if i dont pay.
Ok, so no mention of the court in which the judgment has been entered against you, correct?
I would also assume then that it does not give you a court's case number XXXXX the judgment against you, is that correct?
yes it has a judgement case number
Great. I appreciate that information because it gives me an understanding of the status of your matter, the document in front of you, and what the legal situation is. Thank you so much for your patience.
Going back to the matter at hand, please allow me to now explain the law:
I should start by saying that because the nuances of every situation are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with counsel. That said, your question is a relatively common one, but the most complete answer requires a discussion of not just the statute of limitations, but also the process when a judgment is rendered without notice to the defendant. The first question is what the statute of limitations is for enforcement of a civil judgment in the state of South Carolina. The answer is generally 10 years. That statute can be extended under limited circumstances, but a judgment rendered in 2007 could ordinarily be enforced as late as 2017. That said, the second question is really the more pertinent one, which is whether a judgment can be enforced at all when the defendant is not given notice of the lawsuit or a chance to be heard. You may be familiar with the phrase "due process of law". "Due process" is the right to reasonable advanced notice and a hearing before being deprived of life, liberty, or property. It is a fundamental principle of our Constitution that no civil judgment be entered against someone unless they are given legal notice in advance that the plaintiff has asked for a court judgment and given the chance to defend themselves in court. A judgment entered without due process may generally be dismissed (thrown out)...
So anytime someone tells me that they haven't received notice of a lawsuit for a judgment entered against them, I am immediately concerned that the judgment can be dismissed...
Typically, because the person has not received notice of the prior lawsuit or the judgment, they don't have any history of the case. The first thing that has to be done, therefore, is to find out what happened in the case, and why the court entered the judgment when there was no actual notice. With a case number, the defendant can contact the court and ask for the case file to be retrieved from their archives...
it generally requires physically going to the courthouse, but the case file can be physically examined. If there is no legally valid explanation for how a judgment is entered, a motion to vacate the judgment is ordinarily possible...
It's never a good idea to delay when filing a motion to vacate. Delay in filing can result in the defendant waiving their right to ask for the matter to be vacated...
So even though a judgment can generally be enforced for up to 10 years after it is rendered, notice of a lawsuit must be offered before a judgment can be enforceable.
Ok so I would need to go to the court house and have them to pull the case file and find out how it was entered without them notifying me?
You would have to examine the file yourself. The court clerk will not examine it for you. But "yes", having the court pull the case file is how to find out the history of a case.
Does that make sense?
Yes and i thank you very much because i did not know what to do. i did call the lawyer that it is with on last week and called back today to the dmv because I was going to go ahead and take out the sr-22 and i also called the lawyer office who advised me that i called them on yesterday and stated that i would pay 500 down payment and 100 installments. Advised that I did not call yesterday and did not agree to a 500 down payment to be paid on june15th . They are suppose to be mailing me some papers to sign for the installment agreement.
But yes that makes sense.
I do hope that this points you in the right direction. Did you have any other question?
Yes this does and again thank you...No I do not have any other questions.
Great. I do wish you the best. Thank you again for your patience.