Can one file for bankrupcy after a car accident? 18 Answers as of May 17, 2013

In February, I got into an accident with no license and no insurance. At this point, I have racked up about $18,000 in cumulative debt from this accident. My mother suggests I file for Bankruptcy since I am unemployed and have no savings. I have made 2 $350 payments already via tutoring cash but I am drowning in my debt. I am wondering if filing for bankruptcy will help me and how it will affect me? I also received a letter from the collection agency saying I will not have a suspended license due to outstanding court fines as long as I made the payments on time. What will happen to my license if I file for bankruptcy and no longer have to pay some of these fines? I am 19 years old and have been living on my own since I was 18. I'm trying to figure out what would be the next best step at this point.

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The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
The debt is dischargeable but the municipal fines are not. You should speak to a local attorney and see if bankruptcy makes sense for you.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/17/2013
Hayward, Parker, O'Leary & Pinsky, Esqs.
Hayward, Parker, O'Leary & Pinsky, Esqs. | Michael O'Leary
Providing that another person was not injured in the auto accident as a result of your being intoxicated or stoned, your exposure to a personal injury claim should be discharged in bankruptcy. A bankruptcy filing will set aside any license suspension resulting from an uninsured accident, but any criminal fines or Court-ordered restitution will not be discharged in bankruptcy. You should arrange to discuss this situation with competent bankruptcy counsel.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/16/2013
Law Office of Michael Johnson
Law Office of Michael Johnson | Michael Johnson
Yes as long as you were not charged with a DUI
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 5/16/2013
Philip R. Boardman, Attorney at Law
Philip R. Boardman, Attorney at Law | Phil Boardman
Yes, filing a bankruptcy will certainly take care of the debt. Any punitive fines will not be discharged.
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Replied: 5/16/2013
Portland Bankruptcy Law Group
Portland Bankruptcy Law Group | Christopher J. Kane
Yes, you can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy to discharge those liabilities. If you lose your license before you file bankruptcy, you can get it reinstated after you file Chapter 13.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 5/16/2013
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    If there is a court order for restitution a bankruptcy will not help you. Restitution orders are specifically excluded from discharge.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Heineman Law Office
    Heineman Law Office | Jeff Heineman
    Yes, you can file bankruptcy after having a car accident. While in bankruptcy, the trustee will control any possible lawsuit you may have against any other party involved in the accident. We call it "stepping into your shoes" and having the right and power to assert a claim against the party, or parties, involved. A bankruptcy filing does not affect your driver's license, that is a state matter. If you owe fines that were imposed by a state court, they are debts that you cannot discharge in a bankruptcy. So, if you need to pay fines to get your license re-instated, then you will need to pay them.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Law Offices of David A. Tilem | Michael Avanesian
    Bankruptcy is a good option but depending on if you were drunk etc when you got into the accident, it could or could not help. Consult with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Law Office of Robert Sisson | Robert Sisson
    Sure. So long as the car accident was not due to drunk driving.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Heupel Law
    Heupel Law | Kevin Heupel
    Yes, you can file bankruptcy and get rid of the debt from the accident plus avoid having your drivers license suspended. Given your situation, bankruptcy is a good option for you.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Michael B. McFarland, P.A. | Michael B. McFarland
    You can file for bankruptcy after a car accident, but it won't help much with criminal fines or judgments for restitution, which are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. You would need to take the court papers, including any judgments, as well as other claims related to the accident to an experienced bankruptcy attorney to review them, and determine whether or not they are dischargeable. If the debt is dischargeable, and you file bankruptcy, your license would not be suspended in Idaho. If some of the debt was a fine, or a judgment for restitution, however, you would have to keep paying to keep your license. If only a portion is non-dischargeable, you could pay it through a Chapter 13 plan, possibly making it more affordable.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    As long as you were not charged with a crime, such as drunk driving, bankruptcy should eliminate the debt and resolve the issues regarding the non-criminal court fines, allowing you to get your license back. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in any legal matter and additional information could change my opinion as to a result.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Your question is difficult to answer since you did not indicate if another vehicle/driver was involved. If so, and accident was your fault the other vehicle/driver insurance company will be suing you for all monies they spent on the accident. Otherwise you can file bankruptcy and keep your driver license and discharge all the debt.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Ray Fisher Law Offices
    Ray Fisher Law Offices | Ray Fisher
    Filing bankruptcy is an excellent idea with those facts.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Moffa & Bonacquisti, P.A.
    Moffa & Bonacquisti, P.A. | John A. Moffa
    You need a lawyer! You should be able to keep your license, but someone needs to review the fines and penalties and what those mean to you.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Morris Campbell LLC | W. Erin Morris-Campbell
    Court fines are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if they are owed to a governmental unit (i.e., court, or municipality), are for the benefit of a governmental unit (i.e., the payment goes to the government and no one else) or are punitive rather than compensatory (i.e., fines designed to punish you versus fines designed to compensate the victim for a financial loss). Criminal restitution obligations also aren't dischargeable in a Chapter 7. However, fines may be repaid in a Chapter 13 case. So whether or not your debteither in toto or in partcan be discharged in bankruptcy turns on a careful analysis of each liability and a determination as to whether the debt is dischargeable. What you may view as a "fine" may not be a per se "fine" and vice-versa. However, above all else, you need to pass the "means test" to determine if you qualify for bankruptcy relief. The means test looks at your gross income over a 6 month period and deductions for certain actual and IRS standardized expenses. Filing for bankruptcy "may" help but you need to contact an attorney for a free evaluation to determine whether bankruptcy is your best option.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/16/2013
    Law Office of J. Thomas Black, P.C.
    Law Office of J. Thomas Black, P.C. | J. Thomas Black
    Yes, I have filed many bankruptcies for individuals after they have been in auto accidents, and have claims or judgments against them. In Texas, if you have an unpaid judgment against you resulting from an uninsured auto accident, your driver's license is suspended. Filing bankruptcy can stop that process, or if your license is already suspended, once you file bankruptcy it can be reinstated. You would have to keep insurance in force going forward, however. However, if you were DWI or DUID, and caused death or personal injury to someone, then the debt for that is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. In that event you would have to make a settlement or continue with the payment plan to keep your license
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 5/16/2013
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