Nothing is too overwhelming than forcing a client to pay you after completing a project. If your client has not paid money owed to you as an independent contractor, you may have a claim. Many ICs have found themselves waiting for months to get paid. While some clients bother to pay their ICs on time or pay late, and others never pay anything. The key thing to remember is that there is no one to fight up the issue of non-payment except you. If you are in such a situation, this guide will offer some limelight on how to go about your case.
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How to Get Paid
Your work may have come to a standstill as you went to assist a client in clearing up slow-moving orders, only to wait for months before getting your due. There are many legal ways to ensure such clients don’t take advantage of you. Remember when the client in question was looking for an IC, he/she may have contracted an employment lawyer to help them draft a work agreement.
You too, can seek an employment law attorney in California who can advise on the best possible ways to get paid. Nevertheless, you may consider the below methods in an attempt to get what is rightfully yours:
Send letters requesting payment
You may have tried to send letters to your client claiming the unpaid bills. If this seems not to work, your next option will be to think of filing a claim.
Filing a claim
This is a good decision, effective only if the client has money or assets to pay you. If your debt is not substantially more, you can file your case in a small claims court that will demand such payment for you. Fortunately, debt collection issues are mostly held in small claim court. Another loophole is that you may be allowed to be represented by a lawyer. In such a case, you only win by default.
Before deciding to take your client to court, you may consider whether their agreement contains an arbitration clause. If there is, you will be required to resolve your issues through arbitration without going to court. This may turn in your favor as the process is fast and less expensive. An arbitrator will make a judgment that may be enforced just like any other court judgment.
Where your debt is substantially more, you can sue in superior court. You can decide to have legal representation to understand the process and ensure the client doesn’t play tricks. An experienced employment lawyer can offer the best legal strategy to help you get paid. He /she may push the defendant to pay the amount they owe you even before the legal proceedings commence.
Writing off your debt
This is a painful truth. If your client is out of business and nowhere to be found, you will have to face the fact that you will not get paid. Hence, you may write off your debts. This might be a tough issue if you were to pay taxes for such an amount. Your lawyer may offer insight on how to treat such issue for tax purposes.
If you offered services, no one should take advantage of you. The above legal recourse can significantly help to ensure you get what you deserve.
1. Securing Your Payment
Once such an issue is sorted out, you can consider the below points to ensure you don’t fall into the same problems again, keeping in mind that every client may pay but no sooner than you expect. However, you can secure your rights and get the client to pay up if you:
2. Set payment expectations
Make sure that you have a detailed record showing when you expect payment. You should make the information clear when you expect to be paid and what should be paid. Also, you can offer a kind reminder any time you have an upcoming payment.
3. Make follow-ups
It’s more likely that your client is busy. Making follow up either through emails or phone conversation will remind them to act promptly.
4. Have a personal connection with your clients
Having a good relationship with your client may not mean more until you want to collect your payments. It would help if you established a bond that makes it easier for you to feel comfortable when demanding payments.
5. Have a retainer
If you have a long term working relationship, a retainer will show how much the client owes you.
6. Be persistent
You have to show the client that you need the money. It’s more likely that a client will pay the most “bothersome” IC. But you must make sure to act professionally as some behavior may get you into trouble.
For more information on collecting bad debts as an independent contractor, you can speak with an experienced employment lawyer.
Also read: What Is a Structured Settlement?