One of the reasons we ask about clients’ bankruptcy is because this is something that insurance defense lawyers will use against them. Experienced accident lawyers have seen cases dismissed where the innocent plaintiff failed to tell the Federal Bankruptcy Court about their potential or pending negligence claim. This potential "asset" of the debtor is something that creditors in bankruptcy may look to in order to satisfy their claims. If it is not disclosed properly, then it does not get the benefit of the "Discharge in Bankruptcy."
In car crash cases, courts have ruled that if the injured victim has her bills discharged in bankruptcy, they cannot be claimed in the personal injury lawsuit. This is because the court found that if the plaintiff did not have to pay the discharged medical bills, then they should not be submitted to the jury.
Recently, a Federal judge in Norfolk not only excluded the discharged medical bills for proof of financial loss, he also barred their use as evidence of the plaintiff’s pain and suffering. For more details on this Federal Court opinion, see Virginia Lawyers Weekly.