I often meet with clients and potential clients who state, “I want to sue them for everything they’ve got!” Almost all these folks have been wronged by someone, and they have suffered injuries or economic loss as a result. I understand their frustrations, but going after someone for everything they’ve got is more difficult than it appears.
First, to try to go after someone for everything they’ve got, you must obtain a judgment against that person from a court. Even after the Judgment is obtained, it does not mean that the other person (known as a judgment debtor) will pay or even can pay the judgment. South Carolina law provides substantial protections to Judgment debtors.
S.C. Code Ann. §15-41-30 states that the following real and personal property of a debtor domiciled in this State is exempt from attachment, levy, and sale under any mesne or final process issued by a court or bankruptcy proceeding:
- $50,000.00 for a home in which the judgment debtor resides up to $100,000.00 if the home is a jointly owned residence.
- $5,000.00 in one motor vehicle.
- $4,000.00 in household furnishings, household goods, apparel, appliances, books, animals, crops, or musical instruments, that are held primarily for personal, family, or household use of the Judgment debtor.
- $1,000.00 in jewelry held primarily for personal, family, or household use of the debtor or dependent of the debtor.
- For debtors not claiming a homestead exemption in real property in which they reside, $5,000.00 in “liquid assets.” “Liquid Assets” include deposits, securities, notes, drafts, unpaid earnings not otherwise exempt, accrued vacation pay, refunds, prepayments, and other receivables.
- $1,500.00 interest in implements, professional books, or tools of the trade for the debtor or the trade of a dependent of the debtor.
- $5,000.00 in value of an unused exemption amount to which the debtor is entitled.
- $3,000.00 in value of any rifle, shotgun, pistol, or any combination of firearms not to exceed three firearms.
The following other property or right to receive the property that is traceable to the following sources are also exempt from attachment:
- Any unmatured life insurance contract owned by the debtor, other than a credit life insurance contract.
- Social security benefits, unemployment compensation, local public transit benefits.
- Veteran’s benefits.
- Disability benefit.
- Alimony, support, or separate maintenance.
- Payment under a stock bonus, pension, profit sharing, annuity, or similar plan or contract on account of illness, disability, death, age, or length of service.
- An award under a crime victim’s compensation reparation law.
- Payment on account of the bodily injury of the debtor or of the wrongful death or bodily injury of another individual of whom the debtor was a dependent.
- Payments from a life insurance policy that insured the life of an individual of whom the debtor was a dependent on the date of that individual’s death, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor.
- Individual Retirement Accounts.
- Pension plans that qualify under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended
It is important to consult with an attorney about your legal options before trying to sue someone for everything they’ve got because, depending on what they’ve got, you may or may not be able to get it from them. At KD Trial Lawyers, we care about our clients, and we want them to be prepared and equipped to navigate difficult situations. Contact us today to learn more about how our services can help you.