FAQs on Filing an Arizona Personal Injury Case After Bankruptcy
If you were recently involved in an accident that left you injured, you're feeling the frustration, confusion, and physical and financial pains that come with an incident and injuries. It's difficult to look forward when you feel like you're stuck in the past, and that can become even more difficult when you realize that you need financial help to get through your recovery and to see brighter days. If you recently filed for bankruptcy, or had to file bankruptcy as a result of your accident and your injuries, then you'll want to read on to find out some basic, but pressing questions.
Q. Does it matter whether my bankruptcy was before or after my accident?
A. The timing of your bankruptcy does have an impact on your Arizona personal injury lawsuit. If you file for bankruptcy after your accident, then you will have to disclose the claim in your bankruptcy as a possible asset, even if you haven't collected money. If you file for bankruptcy before you file your personal injury case, it's unlikely that your claim will be counted in the bankruptcy estate. Filing after your accident may likely mean that the case no longer is your own asset but rather an asset of the trustee. It is important to speak to your bankruptcy lawyer about your injury claim. Many times people try to handle their bankruptcy claim on their own when they have an injury claim and due to legalities many times if not disclosed properly, the injured party can have their case dismissed and haven no recovery at all.
Q. Can't I stop the bankruptcy trustee from taking my injury settlement?
A. Sometimes exemptions are granted for compensation that is granted through a personal injury settlement that disallows a bankruptcy trustee from taking the injury case into account. Only an attorney can help you determine whether or not you may qualify for an exemption, and help you get started on the paperwork. Usually the trustee will try to do anything they can to make the injury claim an asset of the bankruptcy, which means if you file for bankruptcy and have an injury claim that your settlement of the injury claim will become part of the bankruptcy and you may get nothing at all.
Q. Does when I receive my personal injury settlement impact my bankruptcy?
A. If your personal injury case settles before you file for bankruptcy, it is likely that all of your compensation may be counted as assets that the bankruptcy trustee can seize. If your compensation is disbursed after your file for bankruptcy, you will likely still have to claim it in your paperwork. Exemptions, as previously noted, are a way to protect at least some of your settlement. We would for sure recommend you speak to a bankruptcy attorney about these scenarios. If you do receive a settlement, there may be certain time requirements that you need to wait for in order to file your bankruptcy otherwise the settlement will be included as an asset.
Q. How can I protect my settlement money during a bankruptcy?
A. Filing for an exemption may help you protect your money from an injury claim. There are laws in Arizona that do allow certain types of exemptions, but only a qualified bankruptcy attorney can help you understand these exemptions. Injury settlements and bankruptcies can be very complex with how the laws work together in both areas of law. For clients who come to our office, we work through the details of both claims and have an experienced bankruptcy attorney that we work with to go over all the details of our client's injury case and bankruptcy case. It's important to know that every scenario is different.
Q. Why not just omit my personal injury settlement from my bankruptcy?
A. Many people believe that they should not have to disclose their settlement during a bankruptcy. But if you purposely fail to disclose your settlement or the fact that you have a claim in the works, you may lose the right to exempt any of that money, which could mean losing it all. In addition, this can be considered a fraudulent action by the Court. Lastly, if a lawsuit has to be filed, the opposing attorney will likely file for your case to be dismissed because when you file bankruptcy and have not alerted the Court to your injury claim, there are laws that may prohibit you from continuing with your injury claim.
After a personal injury accident, it is normal to be confused and to want everything to be over sooner rather than later. And when you're facing bankruptcy at the same time, whether it is related to your accident and injuries or not, your situation may feel hopeless. The Arizona personal injury attorneys at the Breyer Law Offices, P.C. can help you to better understand your situation and what may be best for you when it comes to filing your personal injury claim or lawsuit in the wake of a bankruptcy. Call The Husband and Wife Law Team at (602) 457-6222 for a free consultation so that you can start the healing process, find the right resources, and make the right decisions as to how to handle your already filed bankruptcy or whether or not to filing a bankruptcy.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer