Suppose you have been wronged and you want to sue for damages. What is the first thing you should consider?
Collectability, of course. You don’t want to throw good money after bad. If you win and you can’t collect on the judgment, then you have not spent either your time or your money wisely.
There are a lot of web resources available to you to determine the collectability of a claim, and more are being added every day.
First, with any claim you need to first know who should be sued. The Texas Comptroller allows you to search a taxable entity doing business in Texas. The best tool is the Texas Secretary of State’s website. It does require you to open an account and charges for each search, but the information is useful and reliable. You can search by company name, officer or member.
You can look up assumed names and UCC filings on the same website. The Texas comptroller of Public Accounts will give you sales tax and use license information.
If your debtor’s business is regulated or requires a license, then you can go to the governmental agency that regulates that industry.
You can look at real property at appraisal district websites, MLS (Multiple Listing Service), www.realtor.com, and www.zillow.com. Personal property like vehicles, boats, trailers and stocks is listed at Public Data, Westlaw, LexisNexis, TLO and Accurint. The Texas Department of Fish & Wildlife keeps a registry of boats, the FAA has a registry of aircraft, the Texas Comptroller can give you information about hotel revenue and taxes, and the Department of Insurance has lists by agent of the name of each carrier the agent is licensed to sell.
Court records are listed in most counties in their database, and Federal Bankruptcy filings are online at Pacer.
And do not forget to conduct a Google search. It will pull up newspaper articles, federal agency announcements and customer complaints. Put your debtor’s address into Google maps and you can pull up the debtor’s storefront and neighbors.
Found some assets? Now it’s time to take everything to your attorney and discuss the lawsuit.
Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Give us a call. We can help.
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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.