Judges Gavel, Soundboard And Bundle Of Money On The Table

Understanding Renewals of Judgment

Law Office of David J.Hollander Sept. 27, 2023

If you’ve been involved in a civil lawsuit where you were awarded monetary damages, there are certain procedures you’ll need to be aware of. Specifically, once a judgment has been issued, it may be up to you to enforce it, and if it’s not paid after several years, you will also need to renew the judgment. A judgment renewal is not an overly complicated process, but if it’s not done correctly or on time, it may mean you aren’t able to collect on money that’s rightfully owed to you. 

If you’d like to speak with a civil law attorney about this process and what’s expected of you, contact the Law Office of David J. Hollander. From his home office in San Diego, California, David J. Hollander is able to represent clients throughout San Diego County. 

What Are Renewals of Judgement? 

There are many civil cases where one party is awarded a monetary settlement due to damages they’ve caused to the other. Examples of this could include:

  • Medical malpractice 

  • Unpaid wages or other money that’s owed to you as an employee 

  • Torts such as auto accidents, or damages caused by battery, assault, or negligence 

  • Unpaid personal loans or debts 

  • Unpaid rent 

  • Contract breaches 

  • Premises liability claims 

  • Workers’ compensation

When the initial judgment is handed down by a judge, the debtor is then legally obligated to pay it. However, there are many instances where this will not be done or the debtor pays some of the total, but not all of it. While you as the creditor have legal rights to collect on this, there is a time limit on how long the judgment is enforceable, and this is usually ten years, though in some cases, it will be only five years. After this time, you will need to request a California judgment renewal so you can continue your efforts of debt collection. 

Reasons for a California Money Judgement Renewal 

The most important reason for pursuing a money judgment renewal is that the original judgment is expiring, and the creditor still wants to collect on the money that’s owed to them. Without a renewal, the judgment is unenforceable, and you will be left without the compensation you’re due. 

Another common reason someone may apply for a renewal of judgment is to include interest that’s compounded since the judgment was first made. Under California law, unless the judgment is officially renewed with the courts, you are not permitted to include the interest in the total amount. However, once the renewal is in effect, the interest can be added in. 

For example, if you were originally owed $10,000 and have not been paid in six years, you could figure in the amount of interest that accrued (calculated at 10% or 5% per year depending on when the judgment was issued) and then add this to the base amount. In this case, it would be around $6,000 in interest which would make your new amount owed to you $16,000. 

How Long Does the Renewal of Judgement Last? 

In most cases, a renewal of judgment will last 10 years, and this can be done repeatedly. The earliest you can re-renew a judgment is after five years, and many people choose to do this to include interest. However, there are other judgments that can only be renewed once after five years. Judgments that are subject to only one five-year renewal must meet the following criteria: 

  • The debtor is not a business or government agency and is instead a person; 

  • The amount owed is a medical expense and less than $200,000, or is a personal debt of less than $50,000; and 

  • The debt is not associated with fraud, unpaid wages, or a tort.  

Limits on Renewals 

It should also be noted that many parties seeking to collect on a judgment do so using a lien or wage garnishment, and this must be renewed separately from your money judgment renewal. This is because the lien will also expire at the same time as the money judgment.  

If you do not seek a lien or wage garnishment renewal, you won’t be able to continue this means of collection. You do this by visiting the County Recorder’s office and supplying them with a certified copy of your Application for a Renewal of Judgment that they will then use to renew your lien or wage garnishment.  

Advocate for Your Rights and Best Interests 

It may seem unfair that the onus is on you to collect on money judgments in your favor, which is why working with an experienced attorney can help ease this burden and ensure you’re able to get the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can make sure your paperwork is filed correctly, that any interest is calculated and included in the renewal, and that any wage garnishments or liens are also renewed. For trusted legal help in and around the San Diego, California area, reach out to the Law Office of David J. Hollander to schedule a consultation.