Pre-Judgment and Post-Judgment Interest
Q: If I have to sue to get my commission paid, do I get interest on the unpaid amount?
A: The Florida Statutes provide that the plaintiff in a lawsuit is entitled to judgment on the amounts being sued for, both after and potentially before a judgment is entered.
Once a money judgment is entered, interest will accrue at the statutory interest rate set forth in Section 55.03 of the Florida Statutes. This statutory rate is revised every three months using a formula set forth in the statute.
This post-judgment interest is calculated at the statutory rate in effect at the time the judgment is entered, and is revised every January 1, thereafter, to whatever statutory rate is then in effect, until it is paid. So, if a judgment remains outstanding for more than a year, determining the interest due will require a year-by-year calculation of the accrued interest.
But what about the interest that accrues on amounts you are owed in the months or years before a judgment is entered?
A successful plaintiff is entitled to this so-called pre-judgment interest only if the damages being sought are “liquidated.” In order for your damages to be considered liquidated, you need to be entitled to a specific amount of money as of a specific date.
For example, if you were entitled to be paid a commission which could be calculated as of a specific closing date, you will be entitled to claim pre-judgment interest. However, if you’re seeking unspecified or subjective damages, such as might be sought in a personal injury case, or in a breach of contract action concerning something other than the simple payment of money, then pre-judgment interest will not be available.
While pre-judgment interest also accrues at the statutory rate, unlike the calculation of post-judgment interest, which involves applying the statutory interest rate in effect at the time of the judgment, and revising that rate on January 1 of each year, pre-judgment interest will be calculated on the statutory rate in effect on the date the debt was originally due, from that date until the date the judgment is entered in your favor.
See Morris-Piard v. Piard, 198 So.3d 656, 657 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015); Genser v. Reef Condominium Association, Inc., 100 So.3d 760, 762 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012); and Trigeorgis v. Trigeorgis, 240 So.3d 772, 776 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018).