What Happens if a Personal Injury Judgment Expires?


Suppose you were injured in an accident, sued the person who caused your injury, and successfully took that case to court. Upon winning, you received a judgment against that person for the amount of money owed for your injury. You may feel like the battle is over—you’ve won, after all. However, there’s still the matter of actually collecting on your personal injury judgment.

After some period of time, your personal injury judgment may expire, making it more difficult to collect the damages you’re owed. What happens then? Here, we’ll go over the details of what might occur if your personal injury judgment expires.

Collecting on Personal Injury Judgments

Before going into what happens when a judgment expires, it’s important to understand how these kinds of judgments are often collected in the first place.

Typically, large businesses and insurance companies will pay up without any further issues. However, judgments against individuals who are unable or unwilling to pay may require additional measures. In Illinois, personal injury judgments may be collected through various means, including:

  • Wage garnishments
  • A Citation to Discover Assets, after which assets may be seized or sold
  • Non-wage garnishment for funds held by a third party
  • Payment plans

Interest may also be charged for unpaid judgments. In the state of Illinois, that rate is 9% per year for personal injury judgments, which is quite high as interest rates go.

Expiration of Personal Injury Judgments

If you wait too long to collect on a personal injury judgment, it may expire. In Illinois, the expiration date is 7 years from the date it was entered. After that point, the judgment expires and becomes dormant, meaning you can no longer enforce it and make the defendant pay.

For example, if you won a court case and received a judgment on the 1st of March 2015, you would have until March 1st 2022 to collect on it. After that point, the judgment goes dormant and cannot be enforced without reviving it.

Petition to Revive and Other Options

If a personal injury judgment has gone dormant, that isn’t necessarily the end. You can still file a Petition to Revive to have the judgment renewed. This requires court proceedings and may only be done up to 20 years after the initial judgment date. This effectively means a court judgment can be enforced for 27 years after it was made.

Going back to our March 1st, 2015 judgment, if you file a Petition to Revive by March of 2035, you can still collect on it for seven years after that date (until March 1st, 2042).

There is no limit to the number of times a judgment can be revived, but a Petition for Revival cannot be filed after 20 years have passed.

Enforcing Personal Injury Judgments

Note that the rules here apply to judgments made in court. Since the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court, you likely won’t run into this issue, particularly if you’re working with a large business or a person with liability insurance coverage.

That said, collecting from individuals with no liability coverage or enforcing judgments for particularly large sums can be more difficult, even if it’s backed by a court judgment. You’ll need a competent lawyer to handle that process. If you’ve been injured in a personal injury accident, contact one of our attorneys today.

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