Can bankruptcy help with debts from willfull and malicious injury?

Willful and malicious injury debts are rare, but they happen when someone has placed a claim against you, stating that you intentionally hurt them or their property.  In the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes Mississippi), a “willful injury” is one where the debtor purposefully caused the injury, and didn’t just purposefully perform the act that resulted in harm to the person or property.  A “malicious injury” is when injury results “without just cause or excuse”.

You can discharge (wipe out) debts for willful and malicious injury to property in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy but not in a Chapter 7.

You can discharge (wipe out) debts for willful and malicious injury to a person in a Chapter 13 but the Chapter 13 must be filed before the state court action has gone to judgment. You cannot discharge (wipe out) this type of debt in a Chapter 7.

Every situation must be looked at in more detail to absolutely determine dischargeability. If you owe this type of debt, which can be substantial, and it is not dischargeable (cannot be wiped out), then a Chapter 13 may still be an option that would help you be able to financially handle this debt.  The Chapter 13 would allow you to stretch out payments for 3 to 5 years, which is often longer than the judgment originally has laid out for this debt to be repaid.

You need to consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney for assistance in this area if you are in litigation or have received a judgment of this sort to ensure you take the appropriate action, at the appropriate time and if dischargeability is challenged by the other party, you have an experienced attorney who can see your case through.

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