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Do I Have to Use My Personal Injury Award for Child Support Payments?

A parent owing past due child support will be obligated by most states to pay it out of a personal injury settlement they receive. There has been an increase in litigation since the 1990s to intervene in cases of the proverbial “deadbeat” parent receiving compensation for pain and suffering, and other consequences of a personal injury. No federal laws dictate these situations and states vary by jurisdiction. Usually states consider a personal injury settlement as income when child support is being calculated. The 1997 case Harbison v. Harbison, the state of Alabama decided a settlement paid out at $1,000 monthly over a period of ten years is part of a parent’s monthly income. Pennsylvania and New York agree to those terms as well. When does the state step in? These measures are only enforced if you are not up to date on your child support payments. The state will not intervene unless the other parent of your child files a lawsuit demanding your award be counted as income and used toward a recalculation of child support which will most likely end in a higher rate of child support obligation. Exceptions on Settlements While some states consider settlements as income, others except them from garnishment. The state of Michigan agreed that settlement money is considered income but is not subject to wage withholding–this was decided in the case Tulloch v. Flickinger. In 1197, Illinois decided that settlements received in installments are considered income, but an award paid in a lump sum is not. In Illinois, only a part of the settlement award representing lost wages is considered income, not the portion compensating for pain and suffering; even with periodic installments. Enforcement of Updated Legislation New Jersey and Pennsylvania have passed laws obligating personal injury lawyers to pay past due child support out of personal injury awards won by their clients. If a client owes child support, the state of New Jersey will place a lien on your award proceeds. The lien must be satisfied before you receive the remainder of your award. Fairness of Arrears If you live in New Jersey and your personal injury award amounts to less than what you owe in back child support, it will go straight to child support arrears. Other states think that this is unfair. In Pennsylvania, your settlement is deducted by the costs of litigation, then you receive the next $5,000 and...
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Personal Injury Lawsuits and Car Crashes: Frequently Asked Questions

You remember it vividly. The screech of the tires on the pavement, the violence of the impact. The quiet afterwards, followed by confusion and fear. You checked your car and your body for injury. You may have gone to the hospital. Looking back, it seems like a nightmare. But now it is time to put your life back together, and you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. If this sounds like you, consider the following frequently asked questions and answers. Do I have time to file my claim? This depends on the law of your state. State law prescribes a window within which you must file your civil lawsuit or risk losing your right to file forever. For example, many states require you to file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident. Consult with local attorney to identify any deadlines that may affect your claim. What is my claim worth? The answer to this question depends on the severity of your injury and any other damages you may have such as damages to your vehicle, time missed from work, past medical bills, and future rehabilitative costs. The value of your claim may also be affected if you were also at fault during the accident. How will I prove my claim? You will need to prove that the other driver caused the accident and that you were injured in the accident. You will need to offer your own testimony about the accident and be prepared to talk about your medical bills and treatment. Will I need to go to court? Maybe. Often the fastest and least expensive way to get compensation for your claim is to reach a fair settlement out of court. However, if you do not get a settlement offer that you are willing to accept, you will need to appear before a judge, and potentially jury, to make your case. What if I am also at fault? Depending on the law of your state, if you were also at fault in the accident, your recovery may be limited or even barred completely. Often, a determination of who was at fault will be a question of fact that you will have to argue in court. Do I need an attorney? Although it is not necessary for you to have an attorney to file and pursue a civil lawsuit, it is most...
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