In a restitution hearing, the defendant needs to be present. The victim may participate in restitution order procedures before the victim files a civil lawsuit. The restitution award assists the victim in recovery at a civil trial. The court and attorneys will review the accident victim’s medical and billing records, employment lost wages, and property damages. The victim may also recover attorney fees incurred in establishing restitution.
The restitution order decided after all evidence is presented will not include any award for punitive damages. The plaintiff can go after punitives in civil court. Restitution awards accrue interest each year. Once the court enters the restitution order, the victim will request an order of examination to find out the defendant’s assets to collect on the restitution order. Questions includes names of the defendant’s minor children, what the spouse (if married) does, the names and locations of bank accounts. Besides collecting on the restitution award, the information helps the victim find out the defendant’s finances for a civil case. The victim may get an attachment order against the defendant’s assets, and the court may enter an order to deduct income from the defendant’s wages. The defendant may ponder bankruptcy, but restitution orders are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
The restitution order provides the accident victim leverage in a civil case. The personal injury plaintiff can put a lien on the defendant’s real estate for the restitution award, and use the restitution amount to negotiate noneconomic and punitive recoveries.
When involved in a car accident, engage an experienced Hawaii attorney who knows how to use restitution awards as leverage in a civil case.