Will My Personal Injury Settlement Be Garnished?

October 25, 2023

Whether you are planning on pursuing a personal injury lawsuit or are in the midst of settlement negotiations, you should understand the concept of garnishment and how it could potentially affect you and the amount of compensation you receive.

What Is Garnishment?

The concept of garnishment can be fairly confusing, but at its core, garnishment is the legal process creditors use to collect debts. In a personal injury case, this means that a portion of the plaintiff’s settlement may be transferred directly to creditors. However, it is important to note that this amount can vary significantly based on the severity of the plaintiff’s injury and the amount of the plaintiff’s debt.

When Could Your Settlement Be Garnished?

The most common instance of settlement garnishment occurs when a plaintiff has outstanding debts to a government agency or a large private loan. Examples of outstanding debts include unpaid child support, student loans, remaining divorce distribution, or fees related to criminal matters. If any of these apply to you, it would be wise to get in touch with your attorney as soon as possible about the impact these debts may have on your final settlement award.

Preventing Garnishment of a Personal Injury Settlement

The simplest way to prevent your personal injury settlement from being garnished is to ensure that all your debts are paid off before trial. However, we understand this goal is not always attainable for every individual pursuing a personal injury settlement.

If paying off your debts is not possible, or you are already in the process of trying your case, you should notify your attorney as soon as possible about your concerns surrounding garnishment. By collaborating with your attorney, you can brainstorm viable options for securing your full settlement amount. Some of the most common methods include requesting more financial damages, having your attorney negotiate directly with your creditors, or, as a last resort, finding another way to store your settlement until you can pay off your debts. In the worst case, your attorney can also work with you to contest or dispute the garnishing of your personal injury settlement.

Call a Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Concerns About Garnishment

While this blog offers a general overview of personal injury settlement garnishing, you should also be aware that not all states garnish personal injury settlements, nor will all these scenarios apply to you. If you have questions about how to protect your personal injury settlement or the particular restrictions on garnishment in your state, contact our firm, a team of personal injury attorneys with over 35 years of experience trying cases like yours.


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