Why does my lawyer ask if I've ever declared Bankruptcy?
Why does my lawyer ask about a Bankruptcy if I’ve been hurt in an auto-accident?
When a client comes into our office, we ask a myriad of questions so that we can begin our investigation into our client’s case. Some of those questions are pretty routine, such as name?, location of the accident? and where did you get medical treatment? Some of the questions may even feel a twinge invasive, like have you ever been in the hospital? or do you have any chronic problems? And still others cause clients to scrunch up their noses and ask what does that have to do with me being hurt in an accident, such as have you ever declared bankruptcy?
Our office asks this question for a very important reason: if a person has a claim for damages arising out of am injury claim, and then later declares bankruptcy, that claim may belong to the Bankruptcy Estate. There are exceptions (called exemptions in Bankruptcy Court), but any claim that is not an exception may be investigated and pursued by the Bankruptcy Trustee.
If your personal injury claim is not exempted, then a personal injury lawyer generally cannot be engaged without the permission of the Bankruptcy Court. The Court itself, and/or the Bankruptcy Trustee may grant that permission, but that is not a certainty. The last thing we - or any lawyer - wants to do is waste your time, and that is why we always ask about bankruptcies.
On the other hand, if a client has a bankruptcy discharged, and is later injured, that client’s injury belongs solely to the client, and so we can and will be happy to help.
We are dedicated to protecting our clients, and that is why we ask - not to be nosy or intrusive, but to ensure that we are proceeding as efficiently and effectively as possible, and always within the law.
If you have been injured in an accident, call our office at 703-879-5910 - and give us as much information as you can.