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If I recently declared bankruptcy, can I bring a lawsuit for my injuries and then keep all the proceeds? My injuries have nothing to do with my bankrupcty, right?


A: Wrong. When you declare bankruptcy, you are required by law to list all your assets with the Court. If you even suspect that you might have a potential lawsuit (malpractice or personal injury case) you must list that as a potential asset. If you inadvertantly neglect to put this potential asset on your list, and you go to an attorney (and don't tell him about your bankruptcy) who then starts your lawsuit, the defense has an absolute right to get a Court order to dismiss your case. (They will definitely learn about your bankruptcy sooner or later.) The reason is simple. When you declare bankruptcy, your bankruptcy 'estate' is no longer yours. A bankruptcy 'trustee' (a Court appointed lawyer) supervises how your assets are distributed - with Court approval. Once you have declared bankruptcy, you are no longer legally capable of starting a lawsuit in your own name. The case must be started in the name of the bankruptcy trustee who must then hire an outside lawyer expereienced in malpractice or personal injury to handle your matter. If you are actually awarded money, either by a settlement or verdict, your attorney will receive a fee, the bankrupcty trustee will receive a fee, your creditors will be paid, and you will receive the remaining monies (in most cases) if there is any left to be distributed. IF YOU HAVE DECLARED BANKRUPTCY WITHIN 10 YEARS, YOU MUST LET YOUR ATTORNEY KNOW THIS BEFORE YOU START ANY LAWSUIT.