Debt Proof: Why Suing Some People Will Not Work

Debt Proof or Suit Proof | A Seattle, Washington Civil Lawyer | Attorney’s Perspective on Suing Another Person or Company in Washington that is Lawsuit Proof and Debt Proof.

An extreme example of debt proof is as follows: a person who is a lifelong drug addict in their 80s, with health problems that give him months to live, with no insurance, no assets, no job, no potential future job shoots at a rival and accidentally hits a 9-year-old girl with the bullet and paralyzes her. A lawyer could sue this man civilly as his actions were criminal and negligent, however, without any other source of liability (Department of Corrections failed to monitor him, gun was sold to him wrongfully … something), this man is functionally “lawsuit proof” and “debt-proof”. Suing him will produce a judgment that is functionally worthless. This is what lawyers mean when they say someone is debt proof or civil suit proof. The Washington criminal system can put him in jail or prison, but the Washington civil system does not offer any rational remedy.

In our role as civil attorneys | lawyers, we spend a lot of time talking with potential clients and/or their families about problems about who is hurt or damaged. A hard reality is that one of the most important factors in any civil case, outside determining Should you Sue Someone is determining whether there are adequate assets and remedies to justify the suit. Before a civil lawyer or a client should be willing to put time and effort into championing a case, they must consider two overriding concepts: (1) what are the chances of winning and (2) who can and will pay if they do. This hits a tough situation: if the suit is about compensation for damages i.e. money, some cases are not worth pursuing because the other party is debt proof or suit proof and there are no other parties who your lawyer can hold responsible. If the person who hurts you has no assets to speak of, no future earning power, no insurance and no one else is partly responsible for the situation; it is possible that the situation and party is “suit proof” and “debt-proof” and one is only left with the potential of trying for a criminal case and jail. In some cases, creative and driven civil lawyers can find liability elsewhere, but occasionally there are situations where there are simply no remedies worth pursuing because there is no remedy i.e. money in doing so.

FYI Because of this problem, Washington State insurance companies offer their clients “uninsured” and “underinsured” insurance on automotive policies. Functionally, this allows a driver to “sue” their own their own health insurance.  This is an example of the law trying to find a remedy for the suit proof | debt proof situation.

The civil lawyers | attorneys in our office have handled a wide variety of complicated cases over the course of our lengthy legal careers. We are a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, temperament and nature. Our lawyers know cases are rarely as simple and our clients hire us because they want their lawyers | attorneys to serve their interests first. We are staunch, uncompromising, results-oriented counsel. As lawyers and people, we take the time to go the extra yard in a fight. Whether acting in our role as counsel, advocate, negotiator or litigator, we have years of experience working and fighting to resolve cases with our clients’ best interests in mind. We are a fierce team.


Choosing bad counsel can make your legal journey a long and difficult road. Call us at 206-708-7852 to set up an appointment and assess what kind of team we are and how we litigate cases.




Robert Rhodes

With a successful background in law, courtrooms, wrestling, rugby and jujitsu, Robert Rhodes’s nature is well-suited for argument and litigation. Mr. Rhodes knows how to talk clearly and directly to his clients, adversaries and to the Court. His common sense, straight talk and experience put his clients immediately at ease. Mr. Rhodes does not do anything half way and you will sense this when you meet him. Read more >>