Q&A - I am bankrupt can I still claim personal injury compensation?

09/03/2015

Q: I came off my bike last year, when the front wheel went down a pothole in the road. I suffered a broken arm which prevented me from working for several weeks in the small bike repair business I own. That was bad enough, but I also suffered a head injury which affected my memory and caused me to have panic attacks. I got depressed and couldn’t cope and eventually I had to close the business down.

I had borrowed money to set up the business. When I couldn’t work I got into more debt and then I was made personally bankrupt. I have now put in a claim against the local authority for compensation, but now I am worried about how the bankruptcy might affect my claim. Can you advise me?

A: The situation is certainly not straightforward and a lot will depend on what exactly you are claiming for.  In simple terms any compensation awarded in respect of injury damages for pain and suffering would remain yours.  Any compensation awarded for a lost earnings claim or loss of profits claim during the period that you were bankrupt will fall into your bankruptcy estate and belong to your Trustee in Bankruptcy. If you put in a successful claim for future losses and for care to look after yourself in the future, the money awarded will belong to you. 

It is important that you liaise with your Trustee in Bankruptcy and they will need to be involved if any Court proceedings are issued. But the key factor is to make sure that you instruct a solicitor to assist you with your claim and not just rely on an insurance company “helping you out” by making you an offer for early settlement.

John Hulme

John Hulme

Partner

A Partner and Head of our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team in Oswestry

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner

A Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham