- Review how a civil judgment lowers your credit score.
- Consult with an attorney, when facing a legal judgment.
- Try to settle your case, before a judgment is entered against you.
Will a civil judgment affect my credit?
My question relates to a civil judgment and potential impact on my credit score. I was involved in an auto accident and have been sued by the other driver. My insurer has provided me with legal representation and the damages claimed by the plaintiff are small (the dispute centers primarily on the replacement value of his car and the max of the claim is around $5K) and would be well within my insurance coverage amount. I am planning to buy a home in the next few months so I am watching my credit score closely and was wondering if a civil judgment, that is paid by my insurance company, would have a negative impact on my credit score? Thanks.
Having a civil judgment against you will likely damage your credit score, but how much it will reduce your score greatly depends on the other items appearing on your credit report. For example, if you have numerous accounts reporting long positive payment histories, this single blemish on your report should not be detrimental to your credit profile. However, if you do not have a substantial positive credit history to balance out the negative impact of the judgment, your score could drop significantly.
I am glad that you have legal representation in this court case. You should work with your attorney to determine the best course of action available to you under the circumstances. Explain to your attorney that you are planning to purchase a home, and that you are worried about a judgment damaging your credit score. He may decide that settling the case, thereby preventing a judgment altogether, is the best course of action. Also, in some states, if a judgment is paid before it is recorded, it will never become part of the judgment records, and will therefore not appear on your credit report. Once a judgment is entered, you may be able to negotiate with the judgment creditor (the Plaintiff) to file a motion to have the judgment expunged as part of the settlement agreement. These last two options are much more difficult and time consuming that simply settling with the Plaintiff before the judgment is issued. Unless some fact that you do not mention in your question precludes settlement, I think you should discuss settlement options with your attorney before a judgment is entered against you. A judgment will almost certainly damage your credit score, so if a judgment can be avoided through a settlement, I would encourage you to consider that option.
To learn more about credit and credit scoring, visit the of Bills.com Credit Solutions and Resources page. See also the resources Collections Advice and Wage Garnishment and Liens & How to Resolve Them to learn more about your rights and liabilities.
Also, since you mention that you are planning to buy a home, you can read more information at the bills.com Home Purchase page.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.