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Discharge personal injury damage awards in bankruptcy?

I was involved in a car accident in New Jersey and got sued and now owe over $10,000 in damages. I'm going to file bankruptcy very soon and I'm wondering if I can discharge the damages from that lawsuit. Thanks.

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While most types of debts, including judgment damages are dischargeable, there are exceptions. For example, under Section 523(a)(6) of the Bankruptcy Code, debts for “for willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity” will not be discharged.  So, for example, while debts resulting from a negligent act may be discharged, but debts resulting from an intentional act may not.  Additionally, Section 523(a)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits the discharge of any debts arising from the “death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft if such operation was unlawful because the debtor was intoxicated from using alcohol, a drug, or another substance.”  Similarly, criminal fines are not dischargeable.

So, the answer to your question will depend on the nature of the incident that lead to the award of damages against you.  The best advice I can offer is to talk to a Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer.  Describe your situation, the facts behind the lawsuit, and get opinion on the matter.  Good luck.

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