What happens if you sue a person who can’t pay?

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2023 | Firm News |

When someone else’s actions cause you injury or damage, holding them accountable and recovering compensation is your right. However, it may seem like a dead end if the person doesn’t seem like they can afford to pay. Thankfully, legal options are available to collect payment from someone without money.

Anyone, even a person struggling financially, can cause harm to another person because of their negligence. Yet, their inability to pay does not free them from liabilities. The court may provide you alternatives for seeking damages.

Collecting payment from a defendant with no money

Realistically, pursuing legal action against a person who cannot pay will take a lot of time and effort, but it is not impossible. There are several ways to recover compensation from the negligent party:


Illinois requires all motorists to have liability insurance, while property owners may have homeowners’ insurance coverage. If someone crashes into you with their car or if you suffer injuries on someone’s property, their provider may cover your compensation.

However, insurance providers are known to downplay claims or offer low settlement amounts. Rather than dealing directly with the liable party or the insurance company yourself, your lawyer can handle the negotiations and fight for a fair settlement amount.


A judgment is a legal decision made by a court resulting from litigation and typically involves monetary claims. If the court finds that the other party should compensate you, a judgment will compel the responsible party to pay through various methods. A judgment can initiate wage garnishment, establish asset and property levies, or freeze their bank account until the debt is paid.

While you have the right to file a lawsuit, it may help to seek legal counsel first. If the responsible party cannot complete their payments on time, you’ll have to renew the judgment until you are fully paid. Unless you have a very strong case, this could be more trouble than it’s worth. Weighing the potential benefits and drawbacks is key before pursuing legal action.