Because of a slip and fall accident, I was out of work for 17 mos. and I am still in physical therapy 4 years later. Between the $56,000 in medical bills and the unemployment, it has caused me to have to file bankruptcy and lose my house. The Trustee took over the case. They never took a deposition and never questioned me about my injuries. I just found out that the Trustee agreed to a settlement of less than one third of the medical bills. Is this normal? Do I have any grounds to dispute this settlement?
Whether or not bankruptcy filers can keep any individual piece of property depends on many factors, including how much property is owned and what exemptions are available to cover the property.
Volumes are available on the subject, so here's a summary in response to your general question. In 2005 Congress amended the bankruptcy laws, imposing a "means test". If your household's average monthly income over the last 6 calendar months is less than the census bureau's statistics for current monthly income in your state, then you qualify for a chapter 7 discharge. If not, then you need to look at the means test form, deduct certain IRS allowances for living expenses and some of your actual living expenses to determine whether you pass the means test, qualifying you for a chapter 7. If you do not pass, then you would likely qualify for a chapter 13, which requires that you pay a certain percentage of your debts in a "plan" over the next three to five years.
Even though bankruptcy law is federal, the next question is whether all of your assets, including any equity value in your real estate, car(s) or other property is protected by exemptions available under your state law.
Bankruptcy requires review of your entire financial situation including all debts, income and assets. I highly recommend that you retain an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your jurisdiction to guide you through the complexities of bankruptcy law and procedure.
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This answer is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided in an office consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies.
Someone in your situation should have a personal injury attorney representing your interests. If you did not retain a personal injury attorney when this incident first occurred, you may have made a very serious mistake. If you don't have an attorney, I suggest you get one as soon as possible. At this stage of development, a bankruptcy attorney may be able to advise you about your bankruptcy question.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to insure proper advice is received.
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