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Discharge personal injury damage awards in bankruptcy?

Additional Information:

I was involved in a car accident and got sued and owe over $10,000 in damages. I’m going to file bankruptcy very soon and I’m wondering if I can discharge the damages from that lawsuit?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

While most types of debts, including judgments are dischargeable, there are exceptions depending on whether you plan to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.  Chapter 13 allows you to discharge more “types” of debts than in Chapter 7.

For example, in Chapter 7 Section 523(a)(6) of the Bankruptcy Code prevents the discharge of debts “for willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity”.  So, while debts resulting from a negligent act may be discharged under certain circumstances, debts resulting from an intentional act may not.  Additionally, Section 523(a)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits the discharge of any debts arising from the “death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft if such operation was unlawful because the debtor was intoxicated from using alcohol, a drug, or another substance.”  Similarly, criminal fines are not dischargeable. 
In many instances, a creditor or trustee must object to the discharge of a particular type of debt.  This affirmative step involves litigation in the bankruptcy court and entry of a final order regarding the dischargeability of the debt from a bankruptcy judge.

The answer to your question will depend on many factors, including the nature of the injury, the facts and circumstances surrounding the injury, whether a judgment was entered against you before bankruptcy and the form of that judgment.

Addressing this issue is pivotal to moving forward and restructuring your financial future, so you consult with a competent Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer with experience in bankruptcy as well as litigation in the bankruptcy courts.

The Framingham Bankruptcy Lawyers at Esher-Rossi concentrate their practice in bankruptcy and insolvency matters.  Our lawyers serve consumers and businesses throughout the state of Massachusetts with offices located in downtown Boston, the Boston Metrowest town of Framingham, and  Provincetown, Cape Cod.

 

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