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    Insurance Settlement questions

    Hey gang,

    This isn't really a BKForum type of question, but because so many of y'all seem to have so much experience and knowledge in such wide ranging topics relative to finance, I'm hoping this is a good place to ask the question.

    Situation:

    Last Monday, 12-Jul, I was out for a 7-mile trail run, and as I was nearing the end I was running by a home which borders the horse farm where my wife and I rent a small care-taker apartment; the home is currently having a new in-ground pool and landscaping performed, which in turn means the "invisible fence" for their dogs has been taken down. Their two dogs, 170 and 150 pounds respective, charged across their lawn and blew through where their "invisible fence" would normally have stopped them in their tracks, and confronted me out in the street. I faced off with the largest of the two who stopped in his tracks, however, the smaller one, circled around and bit me hard on the back of the right knee; the next thing I remember the owner of the dogs, which were no where in sight, was helping me get up from where I'd collapsed in the middle of the street. Being a "typical guy", I had no idea how seriously injured I was and asked her to drive me home instead of taking me to a hospital; I remember taking my running shoes off and going inside, and then the next thing I remembered was waking up in the ICU some 30 hours later.

    As was related to me by the dog owners and my wife, who got home maybe 10 minutes after I did (to find a raving lunatic in her home who kind of looked like her husband), I was dropped to the street hard enough for my head to bounce off the pavement, and have since been diagnosed with a "severe category" Grade 3 concussion; my initial CT Scan was fortunately negative, however, I have yet to have a follow-up MRI, which apparently is more detailed. In addition to the concussion and badly bitten leg, requiring surgery and a few dozen staples to hold together, I also suffered some bizarre, and as yet unexplained, deep abrasions to my abdomen, the largest red, purple, and green scabbed and bruised area is easily eight inches wide and maybe a foot long. What was also related to me was just how poor of a patient I was when the paramedics first got to our home, for the ride to the hospital, and for the first hour or two while there. As the story goes, it took five burly security guards to hold me down, while they were trying to sedate me, and when that failed, they brought out the heavy artillery and hit me with a full Fentanyl drip.

    Since regaining consciousness on the evening of the 13th I've had a horrible non-stop headache, severe soreness in my throat (probably because I was intubated while in the medical coma), and pain, swelling, and persistent infection in my abdomen and right leg. I got the staples out yesterday, kind of a similar procedure as removing a staple from a stack of paper, but a heck of a lot more painful, and the surgeon acknowledged there was in fact an infection in my right knee; I'll be back to see her tomorrow, and if the infection persists, she's going to order an MRI for the knee as well. The only good news is, I am able to work for at least three to four hours per day and be reasonably effective.

    I told y'all the above to ask this; per our town's Animal Control department, we were strongly recommended to contact an attorney to represent us in the compensation negotiations, and while I don't really have any familiarity with such things, I'm being led to believe the settlement could be, uhhh, rather significant. One thing I related to the attorney was, my career as a Conversational AI Architect requires literally all of my critical thinking skills, and often for hours, or even days on end; if the brain trauma interferes with my ability to innovate new solutions in this space, I will probably lose my career, and I really cannot afford that only 18 months after getting my Chapter 13 discharge.

    And now my question(s), finally; will any settlement money be considered taxable (the last thing I really want or need right about now)? If so, all of it, or just a portion which cannot be ascribed to current and ongoing health care?

    Thanks in advance for any and all advice and experience.
    Latent car nut.

    #2
    I'm really sorry to read that horrible experience. Yes, men typically are tough and will "walk it off" but it reads as though you had a serious head injury which could lead to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). If the TBI is severe enough, it could certainly affect your ability to make a living in your profession.

    Originally posted by shipo View Post
    And now my question(s), finally; will any settlement money be considered taxable (the last thing I really want or need right about now)? If so, all of it, or just a portion which cannot be ascribed to current and ongoing health care?
    From what I know, taxability of settlement will depend on how the settlement is written. I think that direct amounts related to actual care are almost always non-taxable. The question almost always comes down to how the settlement is written and how the money is divided. This is also true when it comes to bankruptcy as the Trustee will look to see if there is an exemption protecting certain categories of the settlement amount.

    I can't tell you which is which. I just remember that it would come down to how the settlement is written. I would get the best personal injury attorney that you could obtain. They work on retainer, and the first thing they'll do is look at the policy limits of the insured.

    Remember, don't quote me. I'm not a professional tax adviser.

    I hope you recover, and I wish you the best.
    Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
    Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
    Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

    Any advice provided is not legal advice, but simply the musings of a fellow bankrupt.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for the thoughts justbroke, no worries, I won't quote you.

      Yes, TBI is definitely in play here so that is by far the single largest wildcard when it comes to my recovery. It is now 11 days since the attack and I am reasonably encouraged as the pounding 24/7 headache has diminished to a dull roar, and my ability to invest detailed thought to complex technology challenges has improved to where I can work four or five hours per day. So, here's hoping.
      Latent car nut.

      Comment


        #4
        I suffered a head injury several years ago when I fell in my house and hit my head hard on the corner of the wall as I went down. I don't have any advice for you re: legal issues, but I do have advice for your health.

        REST! Don't push yourself to see how much you can do. Take it really, really easy. You're only a few days out from your injury. Brains take a very long time to heal. Make sure you're eating healthy food and resting your body and brain as much as possible. Sleep a lot. Give yourself a month or so of truly resting and allowing your body to heal, then *slowly* get back to your usual habits and see if you can sustain them. Hope you feel better soon!

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks JellyBeany, unfortunately I don't have the luxury of taking time off of work. The good news is work is becoming easier; I have the luxury of being "far-sighted" so I typically sit between two and four feet from the wall of screens I used for my work, that seems to help as well.

          As far as physical stress, I resigned my caretaker duty with the horses on the farm where I live effective the end of June, so I don't need to worry about that; from the running perspective, I won't be out on the trails until probably mid to late August at the very earliest.
          Latent car nut.

          Comment


            #6
            shipo You will not want the settlement to be partially wage replacement even though it is. The way the settlement is written is going to be important. Although I can't guarantee anything, you are progressing well so far and you may be able to go back to work soon. I know someone else with TBI and it took her longer to progress to where you're at today. But she did eventually recover 100%. Thank goodness you are not in the chapter 13 anymore too.

            Comment


              #7
              Shipo, all though my perspective may not be much comfort in such a trying time, you sound as articulate and astute as ever, with out any discernible loss of cognitive ability (to me at least!) To be able to run 7 miles so well all at once in your mid- sixties is remarkable in itself.
              Whether you can continue to perform what sounds like a ultra demanding job and what ever pitiless tasks it entails, is beyond any advice I could provide. Perhaps ,you could get some kind of leave of absence or worst case, negotiate some really substantial "exit" package, in addition to whatever hefty settlement you receive from the canine's owners and/or insurance company. Maybe being so close to 65 (in the more rigid American work climate) can be of assistance in these dealings with your employers.

              As flashoflight stated above, you are indeed fortunate to be free of the iron confines of Chapter 13. And since you made it through BK13 virtually unblemished, there is no reason to believe you won't triumph over this scary and wholly unforeseeable tragic incident - on behalf of my lesser (LOL) half, Zombie 13, we both send our best wishes on a swift and total recovery, along with a massive financial payout!

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks flashoflight, Barbisi, and Zombie13!

                A few updates...
                • I've has multiple visits to various medical professionals this week, with the exception of an ongoing infection in my right knee where I was badly bitten, I am recovering faster than expected, so virtual happy dance here.
                • Following the staple removal, my surgeon did three things:
                  • She left the wound wide open so it could drain (not pretty, but seems to be working)
                  • She recommended I use a very warm compress on the wound and infected area numerous times per day (which apparently help liquify the hard mass in the infected area and allows it to drain out faster, see the above comment)
                  • She prescribed Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim which *seems* to be gradually lessening the breadth and painfulness of the infection.
                • All in all, I remain guardedly optimistic I'll be infection free early next week.
                • The injuries to my abdomen are healing the quickest, and will probably be completely pain free sometime next week.
                • My cranial pain due to the concussion is also on the mend; yesterday was the first day I was able to go 24 full hours without any Tylenol for headache pain, and while the headache still exists, it is at a very low level, some times not even detectable for an hour or more at a time.
                As for work and retirement, I pretty much need to stay the course; I figure I'll need to work until the end of the decade before retiring in my early 70s so as to have enough money to live off of without becoming burdens to our children. The semi unusual issue my wife and I both need to deal with is we have both had centurions on both sides of our family trees, and given our relative health in our mid-60s, there are reasonable odds one or both of us are going to live into our early hundreds. Restarting our retirement plans from zero in our late-50s definitely put a kink in our ability to retire any time soon; I figure if we file for Social Security when we're 70, but work until we're 72 or 73, we should be pretty well set to retire and live comfortably until we croak.

                That of course brings me to my work, while I was in the midst of my Chapter 13 I got "voluntold" I was changing careers and moving from a classic technology engineering back into what is now called "Conversational AI"; at first I was the epitome of the "old-dog, new-tricks" adage, my brain just didn't adapt well to the new paradigms and metaphors. Fortunately I was teamed up with a brilliant kid in Bangalore fresh out of college; his young flexible brain was constantly all over the map and when he and I would collaborate he'd say something which would trigger something I'd literally forgotten in 1982 which was suddenly relevant enough to warrant a few hours, or even days, of experimentation. Within 18 months we were demoing what we'd come up with to Google (who owns the toolset we're using) PHDs, and they were blown away by the architecture we'd come up with, saying things like, "We didn't even know that tool could do stuff like that!" For the next two years he and I led two different but complementary development streams which greatly benefited the financial services company we worked for.

                Then this year happened, as I've related elsewhere here, the headhunters and recruiters zeroed in on me; between January and April I literally turned away over 100 requests for an interview, only allowing three recruiters to get me on the phone. One of those three talked up a job which kinda checks off that all-important box called "Dream Job"; I interviewed with one of the directors a week later and he tried to hire me on the spot. I declined. I had a second interview scheduled the next business day, and the company once again tried to hire me on the spot, I declined again. They improved the offer twice more that day and I accepted the job that evening. I am now the single architect responsible for developing a foundational and extensible Conversational AI architecture which can be used for any of my company's clients. And while on that topic, I now work for a consulting company with 125,000 employees and clients in over 100 countries around the world.

                Long story short, I love what I do, so much so, even when I'm not working, say even when I'm out for a long run, or trying to sleep, or hell, in a coma in the hospital (apparently my first words when I came out of the coma last week was, "I've got to get out of here, I have work to do"), I'm thinking through various ways of building this new architecture. Of course it doesn't hurt my situation when the compensation is not insignificant, and assuming we're as successful with this product offering as I believe we will be, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Yeah, ain't no way I have any intention of retiring anytime soon.
                Latent car nut.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Hey, shipo ! I am sorry to hear about the dog attack etc. but it sounds like you are on the mend!
                  And, oh yeah... I was eating but, not anymore... after reading your post LOL! Just kidding. Actually, I am glad I *wasn't* eating when I read it Hahaha!
                  Seriously though. Sounds like a really cool, satisfying job.
                  Alrighty; take it easy.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Zombie13 View Post
                    Hey, shipo ! I am sorry to hear about the dog attack etc. but it sounds like you are on the mend!
                    And, oh yeah... I was eating but, not anymore... after reading your post LOL! Just kidding. Actually, I am glad I *wasn't* eating when I read it Hahaha!
                    Seriously though. Sounds like a really cool, satisfying job.
                    Alrighty; take it easy.
                    Thanks Zombie13, it's rather fun being a hotter commodity now in my mid-60s than at any time before. It is also rather novel being older than the parents of literally all of my coworkers.
                    Latent car nut.

                    Comment

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