Can you declare bankruptcy for a civil suit that wants a million dollars for crashing a friend’s car into their house? 20 Answers as of July 11, 2014

I had received a DUI 6 months prior to this incident. I caused damage to the house I crashed into but the car owner had insurance. The home owners are suing me for over a million dollars for "in punitive funds" or something in those lines. If I declared bankruptcy, would I still owe that money for the rest of my life? Would I ever have credit again or be able to buy a house? I'm a single father and I cannot imagine trying to raise my son alone without being able to have a car, house etc. in my name. What should I do, and or how do I go about this... I'm terrified.

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EDWARD P RUSSELL | EDWARD P RUSSELL
There is an exception to discharge "for death or personal injury caused by the operation of a motor vehicle because the debtor was intoxicated from using alcohol, drugs or some other substance." It does not appear that damage to property or emotional distress would be an exception to discharge.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 7/11/2014
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
Bankruptcy would discharge the debt unless you were under the influence when the accident happened.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 7/11/2014
Law Office of Peter M. Lively
Law Office of Peter M. Lively | Peter M. Lively
11 USC Section 523(a)(6) provides that damages from willful and malicious injury to the property of another entity isn't discharged in Chapter 7.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/10/2014
David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law
David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law | David R. Fondren
Some of the exceptions that may or may not apply to your damage case include: 523(a)(6) willful and malicious injury. (a)(9) death or personal injury caused by operation of motor vehicle while intoxicated from any substance. I am not sure what your DUI from six months prior has to do with this problem? (a)(13) restitution ordered to pay under title 18 of the U.S. Code (criminal case) Whether any of these applies to your set of facts, you need to discuss in private with an attorney and not in public over the internet.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 7/11/2014
John Ceci PLLC
John Ceci PLLC | John Ceci
You should consult with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss this situation more completely. Bankruptcy generally wipes out your debts but there are exceptions. Once a debt is discharged you are no longer liable to pay it ever.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 7/11/2014
    Garner Law Office
    Garner Law Office | Daniel Garner
    I would advise filing bankruptcy and then you can wait and see whether the homeowners contest the discharge of the debt. If they don't file an adversary proceeding in your bankruptcy case, then it would be discharged. There are not enough details in your description to say whether the homeowners have grounds for contesting your discharge. If they succeed, then you would still have to face the lawsuit and defend it as best you can, but a bankruptcy would put a stay on the lawsuit until your bankruptcy is over.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    The Orantes Law Firm
    The Orantes Law Firm | Giovanni Orantes
    As a specialist in this area, it appears to me that you should be able to discharge this, too, which will enable you to nurture and recover your credit score after you get your discharge. However, you should seek counsel from a specialist in bankruptcy as soon as possible before that litigation gets too far along.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    You could certainly try to eliminate this debt through bankruptcy but if the creditor files suit against you in the bankruptcy, which they are allowed to do under 11 USC sec 523, you will likely lost. There may be a strategy you can utilize under Chapter 13 or Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code (Chapter 11 if the claim is over the debt limits for Chapter 13) that could allow you to make payments on resolving this debt. You are going to need to have the best bankruptcy attorney you can find to represent you - one that has experience with adversary proceedings in bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Idaho Bankruptcy Law | Paul Ross
    You can file bankruptcy on the debt. If you filed Ch 7 the creditor would have to file a nondischargeability action and it could very well be excepted from discharge depending on the circumstances. However, if you filed a Ch 13, then you would receive a discharge of the debt as well.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    Were you drunk when this accident occurred? You probably want to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer directly.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    You need to consult with local counsel ASAP. Generally punitive damages are not dischargeable, you need to see counsel now to see if there is an excepting here. The punitive damage claim may not pass muster as defined by the bankruptcy court. Do not wait on this, do not let a judgement be entered against you before you file.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
    This is the purpose of bankruptcy, to give people a fresh start when they have debt they can't pay. I would advise you to look into filing quickly, $1,000,000 is far over the unsecured debt limit for Chapter 13, but as long as it's just a lawsuit and not a judgment, then it's contingent and there is no limit on contingent debt. One aside, if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, it might be non-dischargeable.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Law Offices of Linda Rose Fessler | Linda Fessler
    If they are suing for personal injury, bankruptcy will not absolve you. If the action is for property damage, bankruptcy will take care of it. Look at the bright side. If you do not have a car, you cannot drive while you are drunk, although you will probably drive someone else's car and kill someone with it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    If the suit is indeed civil, not criminal restitution, it can be discharged in BK. You can have credit again very quickly after BK.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    The Law Office of M Grater LLC
    The Law Office of M Grater LLC | Mark O. Grater
    Injury caused by DUI is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    I would most certainly engage an attorney for some counsel, providing the details of the situation. Certainly there is a potential of personal liability but also that the car owners insurance should be covering the damages and providing you defense if the car was being used with permission and you are legally driving.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    C Page Hamrick Attorney at Law | C Page Hamrick
    FOR WEST VIRGINIA ONLY: When filing a petition in bankruptcy you must list all your debts and obligations, whether set in amount or contingent, such as a pending lawsuit. It is up to the Bankruptcy Court to determine whether a debt is dischargeable or not.
    Answer Applies to: West Virginia
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Lynch Law Offices, P.C. | Roseanne N. Lynch
    You should speak to an attorney immediately. The timing of the Bankruptcy filing is very important. There are reasons some types of judgments may not be dischargeable in Bankruptcy and you may also need assistance in defending the lawsuit.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Hicks, Massey & Gardner, LLP
    Hicks, Massey & Gardner, LLP | Robert M. Gardner, Jr.
    Physical injuries to a person as a result of a DUI accident are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, but property damage would be so long as the homeowners could not prove that you damaged the property maliciously. Filing bankruptcy will end the suit and, depending on what type of bankruptcy you file and qualify for, the alleged debt would go away in months or after a few years.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/10/2014
    Kenneth A. Parker, P.C.
    Kenneth A. Parker, P.C. | Ken Parker
    You may be able to file a chapter 7 and wipe out the debt IF you were not intoxicated are the time of this accident.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/10/2014
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