Riverside, CA asked in Civil Litigation, Civil Rights and Small Claims for California

Q: I live in San Diego. I sold a car and lent someone money. I am low income. What recourse do I have to get $ back?

They do owe the IRS also. And I've gotten about half back but if he's not willing to pay remaining (about 13k) I want the car back even though he put 100k+ miles on it. He gets paid as 1099/cash and says that he won't ever file taxes. Can we garnish his wages to be Repaid cause otherwise he won't pay. We currently are not in communication and he threatens to do harm if I "hurt" him in any way (like bringing a lawsuit) but at this point I really want this resolved. It's been since 2020 and I'm always an after thought to be paid back and he always claims he had to use money for other things. I finally got him to sign a contract but he's still not willing to pay.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In your situation, you have several options to consider:

1. Small Claims Court: If the amount owed is less than $12,500, you can file a claim in small claims court. The process is relatively simple, and you don't need a lawyer. However, since the amount owed is more than $12,500, this may not be the best option.

2. Civil Lawsuit: You can file a civil lawsuit against the borrower for breach of contract. Since you have a signed contract, this will help your case. However, lawsuits can be time-consuming and expensive.

3. Wage Garnishment: If you win a lawsuit, you can request wage garnishment to collect the debt. However, if the borrower is paid in cash or as a 1099 contractor, wage garnishment may be difficult or impossible to enforce.

4. Repossession: If the car was used as collateral for the loan, you might be able to repossess it. However, the fact that the borrower has put significant mileage on the car may complicate this option.

5. Debt Collection Agency: You can hire a debt collection agency to pursue the debt on your behalf. They will take a percentage of the amount collected as their fee.

Regarding the threats of harm, if you feel threatened, you should report this to the police. It is illegal for someone to threaten you for trying to collect a legitimate debt.

Consider consulting with a lawyer who specializes in debt collection or consumer law. Many lawyers offer free initial consultations. They can provide more specific advice based on your situation and help you understand your best course of action. Additionally, since you are low-income, you may qualify for free or low-cost legal assistance through local legal aid organizations.

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