I am close to discharge of a chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, there is the potential of a lawsuit from exposure to toxic materials from over ten years ago that may be an option in the future. To date, there are no health effects. What happens if my health deteriorates in the future and I decide to file suit. Is that settlement subject to the bankruptcy after the fact? If so, will any and all settlements from here forward be subject to this?
State/Country relating to question: Virginia
Hi - my name is XXXXX XXX I'm a Bankruptcy attorney here to assist you.
Any potential claims that you had at the time of your Bankruptcy filing are subject to the Bankruptcy court - whether or not you have yet filed a lawsuit.
Any claims that come into existence after you filed your Bankruptcy will not be subject the Bankruptcy court.
However, personal injury awards are exempt from the Bankruptcy court, so any settlement based on your exposure to toxic materials would not go to the Bankruptcy court.
I think this is what you wanted to know. If not, please let me know.
Does this mean that I could file this claim at any time seeing that it would be a personal injury award? What if the claim was settled out of court as a means to prevent any future claim to the defendant? Is this still considered a personal injury award?
Yes - if the claim is settled out of court, it would still be considered to be a personal injury award.
It does not matter when you file this claim, it will be exempt whenever it is filed.
I guess the question that I am asking is that if I settled for POTENTIAL health problems in the future, does this still constitute personal injury?
Yes - an award based on potential personal
injury is still a personal injury award.
Can this change from state to state?
The award does not become non-exempt because it is based on potential injury.
Yes - because not all states exempt personal injury awards.
Pursuant to Virginia Statute 34-28.1, your state does exempt personal injury awards.
Thank you. You have been very helpful.
You're welcome! Happy to be of service!
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).