If you are injured and are having financial problems, you may need to file bankruptcy. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s vitally important that you advise your bankruptcy attorney of your personal injury claim.

Let’s face it. Injury often causes financial problems. If you can’t work, you don’t get paid, or you get paid only what your disability insurance covers—usually a small portion of what you were earning prior to the injury. And that’s if you’re lucky and don’t get jerked around by the insurance company.

Financial problems, in turn, often lead to bankruptcy. I see this frequently in my Charleston bankruptcy practice.  If that happens to you, there are some important things you should know.

Having Two Lawyers is Like Having Two Doctors

If you have two doctors and one prescribes something the other doesn’t know about, that can be dangerous. It’s the same with two lawyers. You might think that your bankruptcy lawyer doesn’t have anything to do with your personal injury claim, but he does. You need to make sure each lawyer knows about the other.

Your Injury Claim is Property of Your Bankruptcy Estate

When you file bankruptcy, any assets you have become property of your bankruptcy estate. Don’t panic! This doesn’t mean you lose everything you own. It does mean, however, that you must list all your assets and then claim your “exemptions” in them. “Exemptions” are property you are allowed to keep. For example, in South Carolina you are allowed a $51,450 of home equity, a vehicle with a value up to $5,150, and many other exemptions.

But here’s the rub. If you don’t list the asset, you can’t exempt it. Only disclosed assets are abandoned (released) from your bankruptcy estate. Your bankruptcy trustee will specifically state this at your bankruptcy hearing

So if you don’t disclose your personal injury claim in your bankruptcy, you don’t own it. That means it can’t be released from your bankruptcy estate and remains an asset for the bankruptcy trustee to recover.   If the insurance company’s attorney finds out about your failure to disclose your personal injury claim in your bankruptcy case, he’ll use that to get your personal injury case dismissed. 

In addition, it’s a felony to withhold information in your bankruptcy filing. Actually, it’s two felonies: bankruptcy fraud and perjury—lying under oath. Both are serious crimes and can result in prison sentences. 

In “Personal Injury Claims and Filing Bankruptcy (Part Two)", I’ll discuss another problem you’ll encounter and an unfortunate case from right here in South Carolina. 

 

(This is a guest post written by Russell A. DeMott. Click on his biography below for more information about Mr. DeMott’s bankruptcy practice.)


 

Russell A. DeMott is a bankruptcy lawyer practicing in Charleston, South Carolina. He represents clients in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

 

 

 

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Photo of Trey Mills Trey Mills

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III knows that suffering a personal injury through no fault of your own can be a nightmare for the victim and his or her family

Mr. Mills was born on April 24, 1978.  His parents, Floyd S. “Butch” Mills,

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III knows that suffering a personal injury through no fault of your own can be a nightmare for the victim and his or her family

Mr. Mills was born on April 24, 1978.  His parents, Floyd S. “Butch” Mills, Jr. and Patricia Yarborough Mills, were originally from Newberry, South Carolina, and soon after the birth of Mr. Mills, his parents brought him back to be raised in the same county they grew up in.

Education

Mr. Mills attended Newberry Academy from grades K-3, Gallman Elementary 4th grade, Rikard Elementary 5-6th grade, Mid-Carolina Middle School 7-8th grades, Mid-Carolina High School from 9-12th grades, Clemson University, and Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.

Health Crisis

While Mr. Mills was a junior in high school he was chosen by his school to be a representative to Boys State.  This was a great honor and would have been an even better experience except, while at Boys State, Mr. Mills became unusually ill with blackouts, night sweats, and back pain.  Fortunately for Mr. Mills, his mother was an ER nurse at Lexington Medical Center, but unfortunately, for Mr. Mills that did not change his diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  Along with his diagnosis, Mr. Mills received a prognosis of two weeks.

Obviously, Mr. Mills has been blessed with his second chance at life and those who have been wronged by health care insurance companies and other types of insurance companies can feel confident in knowing that Mr. Mills can not only empathize with them but fight fervently for their side.  Mr. Mills’ cancer experience and his mother’s arduous yet unsuccessful battle against lung cancer were very trying times.  However, those real-world battles and experiences were nothing compared to the administrative and billing wars he had to encounter with Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance. It seems BCBS would deny any charge over $1,000 without rational reasoning therefore prompting Mr. Mills to go to law school and carry the torch for those that were too ill to fight for themselves while the school yard bully beat them down.

College

Mr. Mills went on to Clemson University where he was very active in student activities along with academic accomplishments.  Mr. Mills was invited to join Calhoun Honor’s College, Sigma Pi fraternity, Golden Key National Honor Society, Student Government, IPTAY Student Advisory Board, and Tiger Brotherhood. Mr. Mills also worked as a student employee with IPTAY Scholarship Fund under the direction of Bert Henderson, formerly the Associate Athletic Director of Planned Giving at Clemson University.

Early Life

Mr. Mills was unsure of where his hard work and life experiences would best provide an adequate return to the outpouring of kindness he received during his cancer experience. Having received many blessings from the American Red Cross, Mr. Mills went on to be an Apheresis Donor Recruiter under the supervision of Barry Pollard at the American Red Cross Blood Donor Services in Columbia, SC after graduating Clemson University.

Running from his true calling, Mr. Mills fled to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).  Having spent a semester of college in Madrid, Spain, Mr. Mills thought he should be assisting foreign countries. Mr. Mills was certified by the Vancouver Language Centre in Guadalajara for his TEFL training.  Mr. Mills was in Guadalajara only a few months when September 11, 2001 occurred and helped him focus on his life priorities.

Law School

Mr. Mills went on to law school at Mercer University and clerked each summer trying to determine how he could best serve those less fortunate.  The corporate law firms never truly provided him with that personal feeling of assisting the common person in need.  It wasn’t until Mr. Mills became the first law clerk of the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association under the supervision of Linda Franklin and lobbyist Michael Gunn that he realized where his education, life experience, drive, and hard work could truly benefit those who have been personally and directly affected by the negligence of another.  Mr. Mills wanted to be a coveted and much needed plaintiff’s trial attorney.  More importantly Mr. Mills realized the power of the faceless insurance companies, misinformed legislative members, and the true power of money and lobbyist in dictating laws.

What’s the one service you pay for all your life but you are actually penalized if you ever have to use it? Insurance.

Trammell & Mills

Mr. Ernie Trammell gave Mr. Mills his big break at leveling the playing field against the faceless and heartless insurance companies.  Mr. Mills works tirelessly every day in an effort to bring justice to those who have been wronged.  Mr. Mills has worked on both sides of the law and has been through some harrowing life experiences.  Mr. Mills has been tested and tried by many of the more traumatic events that life has to offer and now provides his services to the public.

Who would you rather have on your side? Someone whose resolve has been tested and tried? Or someone who has intertwined their morality and greed in such a way that they can’t tell one from the other?

Why haven’t you hired Mr. Mills to be your attorney yet?

Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why listen to insurance adjusters?