On this past Tuesday, the Honorable Jason Woodard spoke in Columbus, Mississippi about what bankruptcy is and why it is necessary for some people in Mississippi. Judge Woodard is the Chief U. S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Mississippi. While speaking to the Columbus Rotarians, he stated that there are some misconceptions about bankruptcy including the misconception that those who file a bankruptcy case are financially irresponsible. Local television station WTVA quoted Judge Woodard as saying, “A lot of times it’s driven by market forces, it’s driven by divorce or illness or a job loss.” Judge Woodard noted that bankruptcy is necessary for some people.
Finances Can Be Out of Your Control
Indeed, based on my own experience in helping people in financial distress over the past twenty-five years, the truth of Judge Woodard’s words rings true. Overwhelmingly, the reason people are in my office contemplating a bankruptcy case is due to factors largely or wholly beyond their control. Many times, clients have come in because they lost the job they’ve held for years or their hours at work have been cut resulting in a decrease in their income. Often, these changes come on suddenly with little or no warning. Some of these clients had a little savings in reserve; but, after a short while, these reserves are depleted and these clients were facing a serious loss of property. Filing a bankruptcy case offered them a chance at a fresh start or the ability to reorganize their debts and keep their property.
Judge Woodard referenced divorce as a cause of bankruptcy. Over the years, I’ve had both men and women crying in my office fearful of what was going to happen to them next. This situation can be really overwhelming for any person. Not only is there the anger and pain associated with the dissolution of a marriage, but their creditors are there to remind them that debts are owed and must be paid.
Illness and Medical Bills
Judge Woodard also mentioned illness as a cause for filing a bankruptcy case. Like divorce, this situation is very tough as well. Many people are still without adequate (or any) health insurance. Even a brief stay in a hospital can result in thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Recently, a client came to my office after a short stay in the intensive care unit of a hospital. As a result, he was facing in excess of $80,000.00 in medical bills alone from that short stay. This client is a decent and hard working member of society and was very near being sued and having his wages garnished (which would cause further difficulties) from these medical bills. A bankruptcy case was the only way to protect him.
This is Not Financial Irresponsibility
In none of the situations described above will you find a person who filed a bankruptcy case because he or she was financially irresponsible. People confronted with these situations are in real life terrible situations and they need real life help and solutions. They’re not there because they bought a $100,000.00 Mercedes Benz knowing all the while they couldn’t afford it. These individuals often express their embarrassment at their inability to pay their debts. Above all, virtually every client in my office is a person who sincerely wants to pay the debts they owe. They are extremely anxious and frustrated that they are not able to do so.
So, if you are facing a similar crisis, your best option may be to seek bankruptcy relief. Our lawyers and staff are ready to help you. Please feel free to contact one of our offices nearest you and let us show you how we can help. No obligations, just come in for a free consultation and let’s talk about how we can help you.
Ed Woods is the Managing Attorney of several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices throughout Mississippi. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of Law. Ed puts his extensive knowledge of bankruptcy law to use defending consumers from debt collection lawsuits and more. Read his full bio here.