Workers Compensation and Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, what happens if you have a pending workers’ compensation claim?  Generally, if you file for bankruptcy in New York, any money received as certain public benefits is usually exempt.  However, workers’ compensation claims can result in significant lump-sum awards and a bankruptcy trustee may file an objection to the debtor claiming such award as exempt.

Here in Rochester, Judge Ninfo dealt with a similar situation in In re Herald, and his decision resolved these issues in Western New York. In order to resolve this issue in favor of the debtor, Judge Ninfo had to find that worker’s compensation award fell within the scope of §282.2(c) of New York’s Debtor Creditor Law, which exempts benefits received as a result of “disability, illness or unemployment benefit.”

After analyzing the legislative history of §282 of New York’s Debtor Creditor Law, Judge Ninfo concluded that the legislative intent was to exempt workers’ compensation proceeds.  He further noted that in some situations this may give a debtor a head start, as opposed to a fresh start,  where the debtor will receive a significant award after the bankruptcy filing, but found that any such award to be exempt nonetheless.

Thus, if you have a workers’ compensation case pending or your are receiving worker’s compensation payments, you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and keep the award when you receive it.  It is important to tell your bankruptcy lawyer about it in advance, so that the workers’ compensation claim is listed as exempt on your bankruptcy petition.

If you are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a bankruptcy attorney.

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