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Personal Injury Lawyer in Rhode Island: Understanding Tax Implications of Settlements

Receiving a personal injury settlement or award is great news for anyone who has suffered a personal injury or wrongful death. This money is used to pay for expenses and help get your life back on track. It is also viewed as income, and as such, it is likely taxable.

At the Law Office of Melissa Larsen, Esq., we can help you understand your tax obligations when we successfully represent your personal injury or wrongful death claim. Call or text us at 401-218-0862 to schedule a free initial consultation about your personal injury claim and possible tax implications.

Taxes and Personal Injury Claims in Rhode Island?

Settlements and judgments have federal and state tax implications. The general rule specific to personal injury claims is that the proceeds for compensatory damages are not taxable under federal or state law. This rule applies whether the claim was settled prior to or after filing a lawsuit, or whether the proceeds were awarded in a verdict following a trial. 

The reason for the general rule is that compensation for compensatory damages is meant to essentially reimburse an individual for the losses suffered as a result of an injury. As such, any compensated gain is meant to offset the losses, so there is no net gain from the proceeds.

Non-Taxable Personal Injury Settlements or Judgments in Rhode Island

Personal injury claims include several types of cases that could fall into the general rule of non-taxable settlement proceeds. Common types of non-taxable personal injury settlements include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Animal bites and attacks
  • Slip and falls and other premises liability cases
  • Dangerous or defective products
  • Workplace accidents
  • Medical malpractice 
  • Dangerous or defective medications
  • Wrongful death 

Unfortunately, most personal injury claims include compensation for many types of damages, so taxability is not always a straightforward question.

Exceptions to the Rule on Taxing Personal Injury Claims in Rhode Island

There are several exceptions to the general rule that can present many complexities in determining the taxable portions of the settlement proceeds. Failure to properly include taxable portions of a personal injury settlement could result in severe tax penalties.

Punitive Damages and Interest Exceptions

In some cases, punitive damages are awarded to provide additional punishment for reckless or intentional behavior of the liable party and prevent similar conduct in the future. Compensation for punitive damages is awarded on top of compensatory damages, and as such, these proceeds are typically taxable.

Additionally, the interest earned on a verdict or settlement amount from a personal injury claim is generally taxable. Many states have court rules that provide interest on a personal injury settlement or verdict for the time the case was pending before the court.

For example, if a verdict awards compensation to an injured party one year after the lawsuit was filed, the injured party could receive interest on the verdict amount starting from filing date and running until the payment is made.

Other Common Exceptions to the General Rule

In some cases, an injured person might sustain emotional distress damages from an accident or incident. Emotional distress commonly results from an injury, such as anxiety or depression following a significant injury. However, it can also be unrelated to any injury, such as seeing a close loved one suffer harm.

If the emotional distress damages are connected to a physical injury or illness, any compensation is generally not taxable. If the damages are not connected to a physical injury or illness, the compensation is typically taxable.

Personal injury settlements also often include compensation for lost wages while an individual recovers from an injury. Unfortunately, this portion of a settlement is generally taxable as income, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Contact Melissa Larsen, Esq. Today

It is important to understand the breakdown of a personal injury settlement to ensure the proceeds are properly reported for tax purposes. At the Law Office of Melissa Larsen, Esq., we will help you understand what is and is not taxable. Contact us either by filling out the online form or calling us at 401-218-0862 today. We will schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your specific personal injury claim.

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Attorney Larsen handles all types of Criminal, Family Law, and Personal Injury cases. Attorney Larsen will help you successfully navigate your case.

Contact Attorney Larsen Today

Melissa Larsen is prepared to answer your questions regarding DUI/Chemical Test Refusals, Criminal Defense, Family Law, and Personal Injury cases in all four Rhode Island counties. Attorney Larsen is eager to discuss your case, contact her today for a free consultation.