What Bankruptcy Can and Cannot Do

What Can Bankruptcy Do for Me?

Bankruptcy may make it possible for you to:

  • Eliminate the legal obligation to pay most or all of your debts. This is called a “discharge” of debts. It is designed to give you a fresh financial start.
  • Stop or substantially delay foreclosure on your house or mobile home and allow you an opportunity to catch up on missed payments.
  • In some cases, “strip off” a second mortgage if the value of your home exceeds the balance on the first mortgage.
  • Prevent repossession of a car or other property, or force the creditor to return property even after it has been repossessed.
  • Stop debt collection calls, harassment, lawsuits, and similar creditor actions.
  • Restore or prevent termination of utility service.
  • Challenge the claims of creditors who have committed fraud or who are otherwise trying to collect more than you really owe.
  • Actually improve your credit score, as your old debts, defaulted debts, and bad debts are discharged.

What Bankruptcy Cannot Do

Bankruptcy cannot, however, cure every financial problem. Nor is it the right step for every individual. In bankruptcy, it is usually not possible to:

  • Eliminate child support, alimony, other debts related to divorce, most student loans, court restitution orders, criminal fines, and some taxes.
  • Protect cosigners on your debts. When a relative or friend has co-signed a loan, even though the debt is discharges as to the debtor in bankruptcy, the cosigner may still have to repay all or part of the loan.
  • Discharge debts that arise after bankruptcy has been filed.

Bankruptcy cannot solve all money problems. If your income is insufficient to pay your mortgage and other regular bills you may need to consider making significant and painful choices, which may well include a bankruptcy filing. In addition, there are restrictions upon filing another bankruptcy proceeding after receiving a discharge.

For more information regarding bankruptcy, read the entire pamphlet entitled “Bankruptcy” from the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Remember, the law often changes and each case is different.  This information was meant to give general information and should not be considered a substitute for legal advice.

A decision to file bankruptcy should be made only after determining that bankruptcy is the best way to deal with your financial situation.  A consultation with an experience bankruptcy attorney can help.  Call the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association today for a referral at 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Workers’ Comp Overview

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a system created by a statute (RSA chapter 281-A) that requires employers to provide certain benefits for workers who are injured during the course of their employment. Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws. Federal employees, railroad workers, and maritime, longshoremen, and harbor workers are covered by federal workers’ compensation laws which are not discussed in this pamphlet.

Usually, an employer buys workers’ compensation coverage from an insurance company. Some employers may choose to be “self-insured” but must seek approval from the New Hampshire Department of Labor to do so. Self-insured employers generally hire an insurance company or a similar company to administer claims. With few exceptions, any employer who hires one or more employees must make workers’ compensation available. An employer who fails to provide workers’ compensation coverage for employees may be subject to fines and criminal penalties.

Who is Covered By Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation coverage is available once you begin your employment. Almost all employees are covered by workers’ compensation laws. Some categories of workers, such as independent contractors, are not considered employees. However, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from an employer even though you are called an independent contractor. The Department of Labor will examine the substance of the relationship between you and your employer. If you are paid by the hour for a regular work day, you are more likely to be treated as an employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. On the other hand, if you perform a single type of service for many persons and supply your own tools and equipment to perform it on your own schedule, you are more likely to be viewed as an independent contractor. Nothing, however, prevents independent contractors from purchasing their own workers’ compensation insurance to cover themselves.

What Is Covered By Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation covers physical injuries which arise out of, and in the course of, your employment, and in some circumstances, mental health and stress disorders. For example, you are entitled to compensation for traumatic injuries such as burns, cuts, sprains, or fractures which result from an event at work, or nerve and joint problems which may result from repetitive motion. You also are entitled to compensation for occupational diseases, for example, from long term exposure to certain hazardous conditions, such as hearing losses caused by noise exposure or lung disorders caused by exposure to chemicals. The workers’ compensation law allows compensation for mental health and stress disorders so long as the disorder is caused by the worker’s employment, is not due to good faith evaluation, discipline, termination or similar actions by the employer, and results in physical symptoms.

Workers’ compensation does not cover disabilities which solely are the result of the natural aging process or which are due to non-work related causes. Workers’ compensation benefits do cover pre-existing conditions to the extent the condition is aggravated by your employment. You may not recover for injuries that result from your own willful misconduct or from intoxication, or in some instances, from participation in athletic/recreation activities.

If you have any doubt as to whether you have a work related injury, you should notify your employer and contact the New Hampshire Department of Labor, Workers’ Compensation Division, (603) 271-3176. You may also wish to speak with a lawyer who accepts workers’ compensation cases.

What Are My Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

A primary workers’ compensation benefit is payment for all reasonable medical services required by the work injury. This might include payment for hospital and surgical services, doctor visits, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, prescription medications, glasses, artificial limbs and all other medical expenses which are necessary because of your injury. Unless a claim is denied, there is no time limit or dollar limit imposed by law.

Workers’ compensation disability payments are based on your average weekly wage before the injury. Your average weekly wage is calculated from your gross earnings during the 26 to 52 week period prior to the injury (whatever period shows the highest average). If you have not yet worked a full 26 weeks, your average weekly wage may be based upon your actual wages, the wages payable under your employment agreement, or by the earnings of employees in similar positions. Weekly disability benefits stop once you return to your pre-injury earning capacity.

If you are totally disabled because of a work related injury, the law provides that you are entitled to a weekly tax-free payment equal to 60% of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum set by law. There is also a minimum benefit amount set by law. If you are totally disabled and remain so, there is no time limit to your benefits.

If you are partially disabled–that is, you are capable of performing some work, but not able to earn as much as you used to–your benefits will ordinarily be 60% of the difference between your prior average weekly wage and what you are able to earn currently. If you are partially disabled, you may not collect more than 262 weeks of workers’ compensation disability benefits. The 262 week limit includes any prior weeks of total disability payments.

If an injury has caused a permanent loss of function to a body part listed in the law, you may also be eligible for a permanent impairment award. The amount of such an award depends upon the part of your body affected, your percentage of loss of function, and the amount of your average weekly wage. Your loss of function must be determined by a physician in accordance with guidelines prepared by the American Medical Association.

In most cases, once you have recovered you are entitled to return to your former job, but that is subject to limits on the size of the employer and how long you were disabled.

If you are unable to return to your prior employment, or the job skills you may have are not transferable to other employment, you are also entitled to vocational rehabilitation assistance. Ordinarily, the employer or employer’s insurance carrier will assign a vocational rehabilitation counselor to assist you with locating and applying for suitable jobs. If you cannot find employment within your qualifications and medical restrictions, you may be entitled to retraining. The objective is to approximate your pre-injury wage. Benefits can be suspended for failure to cooperate with vocational rehabilitation efforts.

In the event of a work-related death, workers’ compensation coverage provides $10,000 in burial expenses, and weekly benefits for a spouse and dependents. Such benefits are ordinarily payable until the surviving spouse remarries, or in the case of dependent children, up to twenty-five years of age as long as the dependent child is enrolled as a full–time student in an accredited educational institution.

What Should I Do If I Have A Work Related Injury?

Your two most important responsibilities are to obtain appropriate medical care and to report the injury promptly to your employer. Your employer should have forms available which you should complete to describe the injury and how it occurred. Even without a form, tell your employer, preferably in writing, as soon as you know you have been hurt at work. If you fail to notify your employer within two years of the time when the injury occurs (or when you become aware of the medical condition caused by the injury), your claim will be barred. There is also a three-year time limit to begin claiming benefits. To recover workers’ compensation benefits, you do not have to prove that your employer did anything wrong, but you do have to show that the injury was related to your employment.

Once your employer knows of a work-related injury, your employer must file a report of the injury with the New Hampshire Department of Labor and the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Failure to complete such a report will subject the employer to a fine by the Department of Labor.

Once notified of the injury, your employer’s insurance carrier or employer has twenty-one days to either begin paying you benefits or to deny your claim. If your claim is denied, or if there is a dispute about any benefit in an accepted claim, you have the right to request a hearing before the New Hampshire Department of Labor to determine the matter. There is an 18-month deadline from the date of a denial in which to request a hearing. Hearings are usually scheduled within six weeks of the request. All medical evidence and submissions you wish to have considered must be exchanged with the opposing party no later than five working days before the hearing; and non-medical evidence and submissions must be exchanged no later than two working days before the hearing. Whoever loses the hearing decision has the right to an appeal before a three member Compensation Appeals Board panel. You must request an appeal within thirty days of the unfavorable hearing decision.

What Are Some of My Rights and Obligations?

You are generally entitled to choose your own physician or medical care provider. If your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier has obtained approval from the Department of Labor to operate a managed care network, then you must choose from an approved list.

You have a right to retain legal counsel. Your lawyer is required to file a letter with the Department of Labor indicating that you are represented by the lawyer. Attorneys’ fees are generally limited by the Department to no more than 20 percent of any benefits which you recover through the aid of the lawyer’s services, but for successful appeals and for certain types of disputes your attorney’s fee is paid directly by the employer or its insurer. If you need help finding a lawyer, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can assist you. Call (603) 229-0002 for more information.

Your workers’ compensation benefits may not be claimed by creditors, except for payment of child support, medical expenses for your work injury and the attorney you may retain to pursue your workers’ compensation claim. In addition, workers’ compensation benefits are not subject to either income tax or social security withholding.

Your employer or the employer’s insurance carrier may require you to attend an independent medical examination by a board-certified physician of the employer’s choice. Generally, such exams may be conducted only twice per year and within fifty miles of your home. If you refuse or fail to submit to such an examination, your right to benefits may be suspended until the examination takes place.

You must provide medical authorizations to allow your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier to obtain your medical records for the injury involved in your claim. By statute, your release is strictly limited to medical evidence that is relevant to the occupational injury or illness that underlies your claim, including any past history of complaints or treatment of a similar condition.

You have the right to a hearing anytime your benefits are denied if your request is filed within the 18-month deadline. The employer and the employer’s insurance carrier likewise have the right to request a hearing to reduce or terminate your benefits. If a medical provider states that you are able to work but you have not returned to work, your employer or the employer’s insurance carrier has a right to request a hearing for review of your continuing eligibility to receive payments.

Can I Go Back to My Job?

As long as your employer has five or more employees, you may have the right to return to work in a temporary alternative duty position or a right to full reinstatement.  Temporary alternative duty is both temporary (your employer generally does not have to provide you with a permanent alternative duty position), and transitional (your employer does not have to offer you an alternative duty position if you will never recover your ability to return to your regular duty position). Under certain circumstances, a failure to accept a temporary alternative duty position may result in the termination or reduction of your weekly benefits. There also is a right to reinstatement to your old job, or to a replacement position with your employer if your old position has been filled. There are a number of important requirements. Most significantly: (A) the request for reinstatement must be made within eighteen months from your date of injury, (B) your physician must release you to your regular duty position (possibly with “reasonable accommodations”), and (C) you must not have taken a job elsewhere since your date of injury. Because there are many technical considerations regarding both temporary alternative duty work and the right to reinstatement, it is advisable to contact the Department of Labor or consult with an attorney if you have concerns.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Not Provide?

The workers’ compensation law does not provide any recovery specifically for your pain and suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, loss of opportunities in your life, or the impact of your injury on your family or other people in your life.

Employment benefits (such as health insurance or pension contributions) are not protected under the workers’ compensation statute, and employers have no obligation to maintain or replace them. However, there may be protections under other state laws or federal laws such as the Family Medical Leave Act.

The workers’ compensation law is based on a policy of “trade off”–in exchange for quick payment of limited benefits without having to prove fault, neither you nor your spouse is allowed to sue your employer or a co-employee about a work-related injury. However, if your injury is due to the fault of someone besides your employer or a co-employee, you may also, in addition to collecting workers’ compensation benefits, bring a legal claim against the person who caused your injury. For instance, if you were driving from your place of employment to a construction site and were hit by another driver, you would be entitled to claim both workers’ compensation benefits from your own employer and also sue the driver at fault. If you do recover money from another person for your injuries, you will be required to pay back the amount you received in workers’ compensation benefits necessary to prevent a “double recovery.”

You may also have the right to collect Social Security Disability benefits or private disability insurance benefits in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. However, whether it is in your interests to pursue a claim will depend, among other things, upon your earning history and potential adverse income tax consequences. If you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits, you may also qualify for Medicare coverage for treatment of conditions that are not related to your workers’ compensation claim.

If you have been denied for Worker’s Compensation, the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer you to a competent and insured Worker’s Compensation attorney to assist you.  Call (603) 229-0002 or request a referral online.

Personal Injury Overview

“Personal Injury” is a blanket term to describe any number of legal claims in which a plaintiff (the party who sues/brings a legal action) files a civil lawsuit against a defendant (the opposing party/respondent in a legal action or lawsuit).

This term can refer to anything from a slip and fall or accident case to a medical malpractice or wrongful death case. The unifying theme of personal injury cases is that there is a harmed – physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially – party that wishes to recoup compensation – normally monetary – to make up for the damage caused.


Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

Asbestos Injuries

Assault Injuries

Auto Accidents

Breast Implant Injuries

Bus Accidents


Dental Malpractice

Drug/Pharmaceutical Injuries

Dog Bites

Home Accidents

Lead Paint Injuries


Medical Malpractice

Motorcycle accidents

Product Liability

Psychiatric Malpractice

Slip and Fall

Sports & Recreation Injuries

Toxic Mold Injuries

Train Accidents

Wrongful Death

The following represents common elements which must be proven in a personal injury case:

  • the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  • the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff
  • the breach by the defendant caused harm to the plaintiff
  • the plaintiff now suffers from a permanent disability or suffered major harm due to the acts of the defendant


Fee Structure
Attorneys in personal injury cases generally work on a “contingency basis,” which means that the attorney’s fee is a percentage of damages awarded rather than an hourly rate over the course of the trial process.

If you have been injured in a scenario which involves a potential personal injury case, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.   An experienced attorney may help you receive compensation while also helping to preserve your legal rights. The Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to attorneys in your area. Contact us today.

Social Security Overview

Bankruptcy Overview

  • Are you in over your head in credit card debt?
  • Are you worried you may lose your home to foreclosure?
  • Are you getting phone calls from creditors?

Seeking assistance with debt relief or foreclosures can be difficult and the laws can be confusing. There are many questions to be answered for example:

  • Do I qualify for bankruptcy?
  • Will I lose my house or automobile?
  • Will my creditors garnish my wages?
  • What debts can be discharged?
  • What happens after filing bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a person who cannot pay his or her bills can get a fresh financial start. The right to file a bankruptcy proceeding is provided by federal law (Title 11), and all bankruptcy cases are handled in federal court.

Filing bankruptcy immediately stops most of your creditors from seeking to collect debts from you, at least until your debts are sorted out according to the law. Bankruptcy will not stop criminal or government proceedings, or most domestic relations matters.

Going through bankruptcy proceedings is a long and complex process. It’s not advised for debtors to embark on this journey alone. Call NH Lawyer Referral Service today to find the right attorney for you. Or, fill out our contact form and an LRS representative will contact you as soon as possible.