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My Vehicle is Gone! – The Judgment Creditor Strikes Again

Posted by Kristina Gonzalez | Jun 21, 2023

Imagine you wake up one morning and the vehicle you just paid off a couple of months ago is being towed away from the front of your house. You run outside in a frenzy to ask the tow truck driver why the vehicle is being towed. You come to find out that a credit card company that you owed money to years ago, sued you in court, obtained a judgment against you, and now that credit card company is seizing your vehicle to pay what is owed to them under the judgment. How is this even possible?

When a creditor files a lawsuit, and they prevail in that lawsuit, the court enters a judgment against the party who was sued. A judgment is a legal document that indicates that the debtor owes money to the creditor. A judgment in Florida is valid for twenty years, during which time it continuously accrues interest. This means that a small judgment debt can grow to a huge debt over the years.

During the lifetime of the judgment, a creditor is given the power to forcibly collect against the person that owes the money. The most common collection tools are wage garnishments and bank garnishments, but another tool that creditors have at their disposal is the power to levy vehicles titled to the debtor. This means any vehicle where the debtor appears on title, even if it is a vehicle used by the debtor or by someone else, can be a target for seizure.

A creditor seizes vehicles via a sheriff levy. What this means is that the creditor asks the court to enter an order which directs the sheriff to take vehicles that the debtor owns. Usually, a creditor will run an asset check of the debtor, find what vehicles are owned by the debtor, and if the debtor owns any vehicle outright the creditor will send the sheriff out to tow the vehicle. Once the vehicle is towed, the sheriff sells the vehicle at auction. The creditor keeps the proceeds of the auction, and those proceeds are applied towards the debt owed under the judgment.

The key to preventing vehicles from being forcibly seized by creditors is to be proactive! Act promptly when you find out that a lawsuit has been filed against you to prevent the creditor from obtaining a judgment. If a creditor already has a judgment against you, it may be best to resolve the judgment now before it continues to accrue interest. Reach out to an experienced attorney who can assist you in deciding what the best course of action is for you. 

If you need assistance resolving a judgment or a debt collection lawsuit, contact the professionals at Holland Law Group today at (941) 744-5450. We offer a free consultation and are available to assist Floridians across the state, whether you live in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, or anywhere else in between.   

About the Author

Kristina Gonzalez

Kristina is a native of Miami, Florida. Born to Cuban immigrant parents, she is the first in her family to go to college and obtain a law degree. She graduated in 2007 from the University of Florida summa cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in English and Political Science. Kristina remained at th...

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