In most United States legal contexts, if you cannot afford to pay a judgment against you, it becomes a debt more or less like any other debt.
It can go to a collections agency, they can sue to collect on it, eventually garnish wages or property, and in most cases it would be dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Can you go to jail for not paying a lawsuit?
However, some states—roughly a third—still use jail as a method to coerce debtors to pay certain debts. Today, you cannot go to prison for failing to pay for a “civil debt” like a credit card, loan, or hospital bill. You can, however, be forced to go to jail if you don’t pay your taxes or child support.
What happens if you get sued and have no money?
If they win the lawsuit and you can’t pay the judgment, the judgement turns into a debt you owe. This debt generally gets turned over to a collection agency which will try to garnish your wages or pursue whatever assets that are not protected by law. One way out of this situation is to declare bankruptcy.
What happens if you lose in small claims court and don’t pay?
If you were the defendant in a Small Claims Court case and you lost, you become the debtor. The person who sued you becomes the creditor. If you lose your court case, the court may order you to pay money or return personal property. But the court does not collect the money from you.
What happens if you ignore a lawsuit?
Although it might be tempting to ignore a summons and complaint, ignoring a lawsuit does not make it go away. And it could result in the court awarding a money judgment against you by default. That can lead to your wages being garnished, your bank accounts attached, or your property being taken!