How Does Child Support Affect My Personal Injury Award?

child support personal injury award

Around 13.6 million custodial single parents live in the US, and roughly half of them have a legal or informal child support agreement in place. The amount awarded for child support payments vary, but the average is about $5,760 per month. The purpose of child support is to help the custodial parent provide the child with food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and education.

Some non-custodial parents have asked Haffner Law’s attorneys whether or not their personal injury settlement awards can be affected by child support responsibilities. If they were given financial compensation due to personal injury, would their legal obligation to pay child support require that they give up a percentage of the money?

The answer depends on the parent’s child support payment history.

Defining Child Support Arrears and Liens

When a parent is obligated to pay child support but has not provided the required amount, the owed money is referred to as child support arrears. The parent may have missed one or more child support payments, and with every missed payment, the debt increases.

The child’s custodial parent can place a lien on the other parent’s finances. A lien is an asserted claim on the other parent’s property or finances until the outstanding debt is paid. In some instances, when multiple payments have been missed, the state has the power to place a lien on behalf of the child’s custodial parent.

How It Works

For example, you have been obligated by the state to pay a sum of $5,000 a month to custodial Parent B as child support. However, you have missed three months of payments. This brings your outstanding child support arrears to $15,000.

However, you have recently been in a workplace-related accident. You settled with your employer and were awarded a personal injury settlement of $20,000 for medical expenses. But because you owe multiple months of child support payments, the state, on behalf of Parent B, can place a lien on your settlement.

The state can then force you to pay your outstanding child support debt through the lien. The state will notify both you and your insurance provider, and your respective legal representatives will discuss and arrange the payments.

What happens next is determined by the state’s policies. The court may decide to:

  1. Determine a specific minimum amount for you to receive for medical and legal expenses before the rest goes to paying off the child support arrears. Using the previous example, the court may decide to give you $10,000 for medical and legal expenses, while the remaining $10,000 goes toward paying off the child support owed.
  2. Deduct the total cost of the arrears from the settlement amount before releasing the rest of the money to you. This means the court will take the outstanding arrears of $15,000 out of the settlement and release only $5,000 to you.

Whichever way it goes, you will still get medical and legal expenses paid out of the settlement. However, part of it will go toward paying off your child support debt.

Discuss Your Options Thoroughly with a Personal Injury Lawyer

It is legal for the state to place a lien on your injury settlement. However, you must consult with a personal injury attorney to thoroughly discuss your options and help you negotiate how much money you’ll receive out of the settlement. This way, you will be able to receive a good amount of money to help you with your medical and legal expenses while still paying off your child support obligations.

Haffner Law’s personal injury attorneys have extensive experience negotiating settlement terms for clients. Additionally, they have provided legal counsel to individuals whose personal injury awards are at risk of being garnished to settle child support debt. Learn how we can help you get the most out of your settlement—contact us today for a free consultation, or read the legal resources on personal injury cases we have available.

Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Include Emotional Trauma?

emotional trauma in personal injury

People typically associate trauma with the death of a loved one and with natural disasters. However, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that trauma can be anything deeply distressing or disturbing. It looks different for each individual even though they witnessed or experienced the same thing. They won’t have the same degree of suffering. And issues can take days, weeks, or months to surface.

When victims seek help for psychological distress, it isn’t right to tell them to “just get over it.” Trauma is a serious concern that may result in an inability to cope with everyday situations. And there’s a chance that mental and emotional trauma of difficult situations can be compensated through a personal injury lawsuit. After all, they can also result in hospital bills and lost income.

How do mental and emotional personal injuries manifest?

Personal injuries that affect an individual’s mental and emotional health may be categorized into one of the following: traumatic brain injury, emotional trauma, or the inability to cope with reality.

Traumatic brain injuries are caused by violent collisions and heavy blows to the head. Although these are physical injuries that require medical treatment, they can also contribute to cognitive impairment. Victims might experience memory loss along with problems with concentration and reasoning. These symptoms may heal over time, but serious cases may cause permanent damage.

Emotional trauma is common among people who get into an accident or witness traumatic situations caused by someone else’s reckless actions. Symptoms may include fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and intense feelings of anger, fear, or sadness. These may last longer than physical injuries.

The inability to cope with everyday life usually stems from visible scars, obvious limps, missing limbs, and permanent disabilities caused by an accident or a traumatic incident. The psychological distress of not being able to return to their old life may lead to mood swings and similar symptoms to emotional trauma.

What are examples of mental and emotional personal injuries?

Like how physical injuries after a bad accident should be tended to by a medical doctor, an individual’s psychological wellbeing should be checked by a mental health professional. A traumatic incident may lead to mental health issues that may be considered as mental or emotional personal injuries.

These are the most common conditions that could fall under mental personal injury:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Clinical Depression
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Phobias

If the psychological health concerns are chronic, and if they result in long-term recuperation or permanent disability, then the victim may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. They may seek compensation for emotional distress, ongoing medication and therapy, and lost wages and income.

Get a Reputable Personal Injury Lawyer to Fight for Your Rights

Defendants and their insurance companies might try to claim that an accident that they caused didn’t lead to the victim’s mental or emotional trauma. Alternatively, they might claim that the victim is faking or amplifying the symptoms of a psychological disorder linked to the personal injury.

Psychological conditions might be challenging to prove or link directly to the defendant’s careless or negligent actions. But an experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to create a strategy for the best chances of securing your compensation.

Call us today at 213-514-5681 for relentless legal representation for your mental or emotional injury case.

Can You Reopen a Personal Injury Case After Settlement?

personal injury reopening settlement

Approximately half a million personal injury cases are filed annually in the United States. According to the Department of Justice, 52% of them are from car accidents, 15% from medical malpractice, 5% from Product Liability concerns, and the remaining 28% are due to other causes.

However, as we at Haffner Law have often experienced, the most common results of these personal injury cases are settlements made out of court before the case goes to trial. The success rate of trial outcomes in personal injury cases is roughly over 60%, although it varies depending on the type of case.

Common Reasons for Considering Reopening a Case After Settling It

A common query following a settlement is whether you could reopen a personal injury case. This could be due to various reasons, such as:

  •       Incorrect estimation of total medical reparations or compensation for damages
  •       More wages lost than predicted
  •       Changes in circumstances regarding mental and physical health following the injury (such as increased pain and suffering)

However, if you have already agreed to a settlement and signed a settlement agreement, it is unlikely that you would be able to reopen the case.

Defining a Settlement Agreement and Release

Every personal injury case has a unique set of settlement terms. Both parties’ legal representatives would carefully define the settlement’s conditions and clauses. The settlement agreement may specify an amount of money for compensation and damages for what the affected person has endured.

As the name implies, a release agreement refers to a release of liability when both parties enter a settlement. The release may be part of the settlement agreement as a clause or an independent contract.

When you agree to a settlement, the release waives your right to pursue any other claims about the accident or incident. Should the case go to trial, you will be unable to file another lawsuit about the same accident.

Instances Where a Case May Be Reopened 

There are a few exceptions wherein the affected party may reopen a case following the signing of a release or settlement agreement.

More than one party is legally liable for the accident

Though you may no longer pursue another case with the defendant you have settled with, you may reopen the case with another party responsible for the accident.

However, instances like this are rare and depend upon the verbiage used in the settlement agreement. There may be a clause in your settlement agreement that prevents you from pursuing a case against the other party as well.

Proven fraud

Suppose the insurance company, the defendant, or their legal representatives had compelled you to settle the case by misrepresenting facts or providing fraudulent information. In that case, there’s a possibility that you could contest the settlement.

Upon proving that the settlement was based on fraud by the defendant, you may be able to revisit the claim. However, like the previous condition, these instances are uncommon. It can also be challenging to prove, requiring extensive investigation and solid evidence.

Discuss Your Case with a Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer

If you feel you have grounds to reopen a personal injury case following a settlement, your first act should be to consult a personal injury lawyer. They’ll discuss the facts of the matter with you and analyze the situation, along with the legal verbiage in your settlement agreement. A trustworthy and experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to tell you if reopening the case is a possibility.

The lawyers at Haffner Law are highly experienced in handling personal injury cases, with an extensive record of success. If you believe that you’ve been fraudulently led to signing a settlement agreement, contact us now for a free consultation so we can discuss your options.

 

Common Personal Injuries on New Year’s Eve and How to Avoid Them

new years eve personal injuries in Los angeles

New Year’s Eve is a joyous time. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when we see a spike in holiday-related accidents, personal injuries, and even fatalities. According to the National Safety Council forecast, 427 traffic-related fatalities were likely to occur during the 2022 New Year’s Day Holiday period.

However, traffic-related accidents aren’t solely to blame for these incidents. Haffner Law, home to skilled and experienced personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles, offers the following tips to ensure a safe New Year’s holiday celebration for you and your loved ones.

Don’t Drink and Drive

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers made 263 DUI (drinking under the influence) arrests on New Year’s Eve, an 8% increase from 2021. There were also 29 reported deaths over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Help reduce these numbers by assigning someone to stay sober and safely drive everyone home. Or, you can pitch in to hire a designated driver.

Exercise Caution When Using Fireworks

Prevent injuries by letting professionals handle the fireworks. Always have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby in case of an emergency. Most importantly, don’t allow kids and pets to get too near the fireworks display.

Also, if you do plan on buying fireworks, make sure only to purchase legal fireworks that have been screened and tested for safety purposes. The State of California only allows the use of non-aerial and non-explosive fireworks, including:

  • Ground and handheld sparkling devices
  • Wheel and Ground Spinners
  • Cylindrical and cone fountains
  • Illuminating torches

If you’re not sure which fireworks are legal, you can refer to the approved list issued by the State Fire Marshall’s office.

Say No to Celebratory Gunfire

In California, celebratory gunfire or shooting firearms in the air as an act of celebration is illegal. Under section 246.3 of the California Penal Code, reckless shooting of guns can lead to prison time. An individual can be charged for gross negligence if they fall under any of the following categories:

  • They acted in a reckless manner that could have resulted in a high risk of fatality or bodily injury
  • They knew that their actions could create suck risks
  • The use of firearms could have resulted in the injury or death of an individual
  • The defendant did not act as a result of self-defense.

Note that a person who was unaware that the firearm was loaded prior to discharging it is exempted from this law.

Have You Been Injured? Get Help from L.A.’s Trusted Personal Injury Lawyers

Accidents can happen on New Year’s Eve regardless of whether safety precautions were followed or not. If you’ve been injured as a result of someone’s reckless behavior, the personal injury lawyers at Haffner Law will help make things right.

Our seasoned legal team knows how to handle all types of personal injury cases in Los Angeles, from firework injuries to intoxicated driving accidents. We’ll help you gather the necessary evidence, track down witnesses, and more.

Get the legal support you need for your case. Reach out to Haffner Law today at 213-514-5681 for a free case review.

Holiday-Related Injuries to Watch Out For

holiday related accidents injuries los angeles

Many Americans look forward to the holiday season as a chance to rest and celebrate with loved ones. Unfortunately, major holiday periods such as Christmas, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July are also associated with a spike in accidents resulting in serious injury and even death. In fact, doctors in New York estimate a 5-10% uptick in emergency room visits over the holiday season.

If you aren’t careful, you can end up spending the holidays in the ER rather than enjoying time with family and friends. Haffner Law’s personal injury attorneys in Studio City list down common holiday injuries and how you can avoid them.

  1. Road traffic injuries and fatalities

Millions of Americans hit the road to see family and friends during the holidays every year. Unfortunately, the increase in traffic combined with adverse weather conditions in winter creates higher risks for road injuries and fatalities.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24% of weather-related traffic collisions each year occur on icy, slushy, or snowy pavement, while 15% take place in sleet or during snowfalls. Before driving in harsh conditions, inspect your battery, and ensure you have enough pressure in your tires.

Drunk-driving crashes are also more prevalent during festive seasons when social drinking is more common. Alcohol can impair a driver’s vision, motor skills, and decision-making abilities. If you’re the designated driver, commit to total sobriety. Even if you only had one or two drinks, you risk getting into an accident, so it’s best to avoid getting behind the wheel.

  1. Slips and falls while decorating

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that more than 5,800 individuals sustain fall-related injuries from holiday decorating activities. Slips and falls can occur in the following ways:

  • Putting up holiday decorations on a roof
  • Standing on furniture or a ladder to hang garlands or decorate a Christmas tree
  • Tripping over extension cords, ornaments, and other holiday-related items

Instead of stepping on furniture to hang ornaments, use a ladder and ensure it’s always on a level surface. Ask someone to spot you for extra safety. Put lights, wires, and other holiday-related objects out of the way to keep everyone safe from trips, slips, and falling décor.

  1. Fires and burns

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that each year nearly 156,000 winter holiday fires occur nationwide. These holiday fires result in over 630 fatalities, 2,600 injuries, and $936 million in property damage.

 

During the holidays, many homes and buildings are decorated with candles, seasonal garlands, and electric lights which can pose various safety hazards. Dried-out fir and pine Christmas trees can catch fire easily, while exposed wiring and faulty cords from pre-lit artificial trees can increase the risk of sparks and fires.

To prevent holiday fires, use nonflammable décor and place live Christmas trees far from your fireplace or furnace. Avoid overloading electrical circuits and using old or damaged electric ornaments.

Recover compensation for your holiday injury

If a holiday accident happens because of another person’s negligence or recklessness, Haffner Law’s seasoned attorneys are here to help you recover damages. We will assist you with filing a personal injury claim and collecting strong evidence. If necessary, we will aggressively represent you in court.

Book a consultation now and learn how we’ll help you get the compensation you deserve.