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Why you should let your lawyer know you filed bankruptcy!

Feb. 18, 2014

Why you should let your lawyer know you filed bankruptcy!

I have discussed the issue of bankruptcy and personal injury cases before. Personal injury claims are treated differently in chapter 7 (total liquidation) and chapter 13 (personal reorganization) bankruptcies. In summary, an injured person loses their claim to the bankruptcy trustee in chapter 7 matters and keeps their claim in chapter 13 matters.

Discuss these matters with your personal injury lawyer

You may be embarrassed, think a bankruptcy doesn’t make a difference to your case, or feel that your personal injury lawyer doesn’t care, you still have to talk to them about the matter.

A recent case decided by the Third District Court of Appeal – shows the heartache, stress and money spent in trying to overturn a trial court’s dismissal of a personal injury case because the injured person didn’t report the personal injury claim to the bankruptcy court. Even though the outcome was favorable to the injured person, it took over 18 months to resolve.

Facts of the Case

I like to look at real facts so we can put this matter into perspective and apply them to your circumstances. In Montes v. Mastec:

  • In April 2009, Mr. Montes claimed he was injured when a ladder fell on him.

  • In October 2009, he retained a Florida personal injury lawyer to assist him.

  • In March 2010, the personal injury lawyer sent a demand to the defendant setting out Mr. Montes injuries and his theory of negligence.

  • In April 2010, Mr. Montes hired a bankruptcy lawyer and filed chapter 13 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy lawyer did not notify the bankruptcy court of the personal injury suit. He never told his personal injury lawyer before or after filing bankruptcy.

  • In June 2012, the defendant asked the personal injury court to dismiss the case because Mr. Montes didn’t disclose the personal injury case to the bankruptcy court under the theory of judicial estoppel.

  • In June 2012, Mr. Montes amended his bankruptcy petition and notified the bankruptcy court of the personal injury lawsuit.

  • In September 2012, the trial court dismissed Mr. Montes personal injury claim.

  • Mr. Montes then filed an appeal with the Florida Third District Court of Appeal.


This could have all been avoided if Mr. Montes would have communicated his desires with his personal injury lawyer. Clients should discuss everything about their life with their personal injury lawyer because you cannot segregate parts of your life. If you are making a Florida personal injury claim, you live in a fishbowl. Everything that happens may be relevant to your case and you must let your lawyer know.

If you have any questions about a Leesburg, Florida personal injury claim, you can call me anytime at 352-267-9168 to discuss the matter.