How Florida Protects Lawsuit Awards from Bankruptcy

If you have been injured on the job, in the car, or any other situation where someone else’s negligence came into play, you may have received a personal injury settlement, award, or verdict in your favor. This award is likely providing you with financial support, medical bill coverage, and more to help you with your recovery. Unfortunately, injuries and financial hardship seem to go hand-in-hand, and in some cases the backed up expenses from the injury can be the cause of someone needing to declare bankruptcy. Will this cause you to lose the financial support you depend on so heavily?

Lawsuit & Injury Exemptions

Unfortunately, Florida laws don’t necessarily protect and cover you in all situations if you’ve been injured and are collecting a lawsuit or personal injury settlement. There’s one situation that’s entirely exempt: if you have been injured or a loved one has died as a result of working in a hazardous occupation. Talk to a Brevard County bankruptcy attorney to learn if your settlement or award might qualify for this exemption.

Another exemption you may be able to utilize is for disability income benefits. If you were disabled as a result of your work or other extenuating circumstances, any benefits you may be receiving, such as Social Security benefits, are automatically exempt from bankruptcy. However, this does not include your lawsuit awards.

If your award does not qualify, then it’s considered to be part of the bankruptcy estate and you’ll have to protect as much of it as you can using your available exemptions. There are a few options for this—one of the most popular is to utilize a “wildcard” exemption, which allows you to protect up to $4,000 of your own property of nearly any type, so long as you don’t utilize your homestead exemption.

Insurance Policies & Annuities

If you have received a life insurance award that was payable to a specific beneficiary, there’s good news for you: your award is fully-exempt. Unfortunately, the untimely death of a primary breadwinner has caused many families to rapidly descend into financial hardship, and fortunately those who are backed up by life insurance don’t have to worry about the proceeds of the policy.

However, annuities such as an annual payment from lottery winnings are not exempt. Therefore, you should speak with an attorney about your options as soon as possible if you suspect you may have to file for bankruptcy.

Call The Buchalter Law Group today at (321) 320-6088 to learn more about how you can strategically use exemptions to your advantage when declaring bankruptcy.
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