Can I deal with insurance companies without an attorney?
You certainly can, but you have to remember that insurance companies are mainly worried about their interests rather than your interests. Insurance companies want to pay as few claims as possible at the lowest amount possible. Their employees are trained to deny your claim or pretend to be on your side to get your claim resolved quickly and cheaply. A personal injury lawyer understands the law and what your injury is worth. It is best to consult with a personal injury attorney. Try our attorney finder to find interested personal injury attorneys in your area.
What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
The main purpose of bankruptcy is to give a person, who is hopelessly burdened with debt, a fresh start by wiping out his or her debts. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or a straight bankruptcy, is a liquidation proceeding. The debtor turns over all non-exempt property to the bankruptcy trustee who then converts it to cash for distribution to the creditors. The debtor receives a discharge of all dischargeable debts usually within four months. In the vast majority of cases the debtor has no assets that he would lose so Chapter 7 will give that person a fresh start.
What debts are erased by bankruptcy?
Most unsecured debt is erased in a bankruptcy. The exceptions are child support and alimony, bebts for personal injury or death caused by your drunk driving, student loans, and income tax debt.
Secured debt is generally not erased in bankruptcy. Secured debt is debt backed or secured by collateral to reduce the risk associated with lending. An example would be a mortgage, your house is considered collateral towards the debt. If you default on repayment, the bank seizes your house, sells it and uses the proceeds to pay back the debt.
If I file bankruptcy, how will my credit be affected? Will it ever recover? The fact you filed bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years. It becomes less significant the further in the past the bankruptcy is. Some banks now offer secured credit cards where a debtor puts up a certain amount of money in an account at the bank to guarantee payment. Usually the credit limit is equal to the security given and is increased as the debtor proves his or her ability to pay the debt. This program and others like it can be used to improve your credit.
Additionally, two years after a bankruptcy discharge, debtors are eligible for mortgage loans on terms as good as those of others, with the same financial profile, who have not filed bankruptcy. The size of your down payment and the stability of your income will be much more important than the fact you filed bankruptcy in the past.
Will my wife be affected by my bankruptcy?
Your wife or husband will not be affected by your bankruptcy if they did not sign an agreement or contract for any of your debt. If they have a supplemental credit card they are probably responsible for that debt. However, in community property states, either spouse can contract for a debt without the other spouse’s signature on anything, and still obligate the spouse. There are a few exceptions to that rule, such as the purchase or sale of real estate; those few exceptions do require both spouse’s signatures on contracts. But the day to day debts, such as credit cards, do NOT require both spouses to have signed. Community property states are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.
How much money can I get in my personal injury case? A number of factors figure into the monetary value of your personal injury claim. For instance, the value of your case is impacted by the nature and extent of your personal injuries; the amount of your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other financial losses; pain and suffering; and present and future disability. Even when those factors are considered, there are significant variations in the value of a personal injury claim based on the amount of insurance involved or the assets of the defendant, any partial fault on the part of the injured person, the victim’s willingness/ability to invest a long period of time in litigating the claim versus the need for a relatively quick settlement, and more. Assessing the value of your personal injury case isn’t an exact science, and your personal injury attorney won’t be able to give you a definite value up front. However, a personal injury lawyer will know how to weigh the various factors to give you an overall picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or reorganization bankruptcy, is filed by individuals who want to pay off their debts over a period of three to five years. This type of bankruptcy appeals to individuals who have non-exempt property that they want to keep. It is also only an option for individuals who have predictable income and whose income is sufficient to pay their reasonable expenses with some amount left over to pay off their debts.
Individuals may file chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions if they:
- Reside, have a domicile, a place of business, or property in the United States, or a municipality;
- Have a source of regular income; and on the date the petition is filed owe less than $290,525 in unsecured debts and less than $871,550 in secured debts. Note: The amounts given here are 2001 amounts. They are regularly adjusted to keep up with the cost of living.
Corporations and partnerships may not file a chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. If you filed a prior bankruptcy petition and the prior proceeding was dismissed within the last 180 days, you may not be able to file a second petition and should check 11 U.S.C. sec. 109(g).
Can I sue someone if my constitutional rights have been violated?
It is very rare to sue an individual for violating your civil rights. For instance, if someone stops you from holding a speech in their yard – you cannot sue them for the violation of your rights. However, you may be able to sue a government employee or other individuals of authority who violate your civil rights.
I owe a lot of money on credit cards? What can they do to collect?
Creditors use judicial and statutory processes to have debts satisfied. Attachment is a limited statutory remedy whereby a creditor has the property of a debtor seized to satisfy a debt. Garnishment allows a creditor to collect part of a debt to satisfy the obligation. Replevin allows a creditor to seize goods, such as a security interest, that he or she has a property interest in, to satisfy the debt. Receivership involves the appointing of a third party by a court to dispose of the debtor’s property in order to satisfy the debt. Creditors commonly seek to create a lien on a debtor’s property through a judicial process of lien creation, which is governed by state law. Once a lien has been created state statutory law governs how the lien is executed against the debtor’s property. The sale of property subject to a lien to satisfy the debt is also governed by state statutory law. Federal and state statutes, and the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act also limit the type of property that can be used to satisfy a debt.
If you are facing legal action resulting from a debt it is a good idea to consult an attorney. Try our attorney finder to find interested attorneys in your area.
What are the legal grounds for obtaining a divorce? The grounds for divorce depend on the state, and may be based on no-fault or fault. A no-fault divorce is available in some form in all 50 states; many states also have fault-based grounds as an additional option. A no-fault divorce is one in which neither the husband nor the wife officially blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage. Common bases for no-fault divorce are “irreconcilable differences,” “irretrievable breakdown” or “incompatibility.” Another common basis for no-fault divorce is that the parties have lived separately for a certain period of time (varies from state to state) with the intent that the separation be permanent. The list of grounds for a fault-based divorce may include: adultery, physical cruelty, mental cruelty, attempted murder, desertion, habitual drunkenness, use of addictive drugs, insanity, impotency, and infection of one’s spouse with venereal disease.
Who determines how assets are divided in a divorce?
Generally, spouses are free to divide their property as they see fit in what is called a “marital settlement agreement,” which is a contract between the husband and the wife that divides property and debts and resolves other issues of the divorce. Although many divorces begin with a high level of acrimony, a substantial majority are settled without the need for a judge to decide property or other issues. However, if the division of property cannot be settled, then the court must make the determination. Laws vary from state to state. As a starting point, many states allow both parties to keep their “nonmarital” or “separate” property.
In dividing marital or community property, the laws vary from state to state. Some states are community property states. Some states, such as California, believe that marital property should be divided equally unless a premarital agreement specifies otherwise. Most states, however, apply the concept of “equitable distribution,” which means the court divides the marital property as it thinks fair. That division may be 50-50 or something else. Some of the factors considered include: the amount of nomarital property each spouse has; each spouse’s earning power; services as a homemaker; waste and dissipation; fault; duration of the marriage; and age and health of the parties.
How do courts determine who gets custody of children in a divorce?
If the parents cannot agree on custody of their child, the courts decide custody based on “the best interests of the child.” Determining the child’s best interests involves many factors, no one of which is the most important factor.
Joint custody has two parts: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. A joint custody order can have one or both parts.
Joint legal custody refers to both parents sharing the major decisions affecting the child, which can include school, health care and religious training. Other considerations under these types of custody agreements can include: extracurricular activities, summer camp, age for dating or getting a job, and methods of discipline.
Joint physical custody refers to the time spent with each parent. The amount of time is flexible, and can range from a moderate period of time for one parent, such as every other weekend, to a child dividing the time equally between the two parents’ homes. In situations where the time spent with both parents will be divided equally, it helps if the parents live close to one another.
How is child support determined in a divorce or child support case? All 50 states have adopted child support guidelines. Some states use tables that indicate a support amount for different ranges of income, similar to tax tables. Although some states base support on the payor’s income, many states use an income shares model, which is based on the income of both parents. Usually, the parent without the child the majority of the time will pay support, but if both parents share time with the child equally, the parent with the greater income usually pays support. The support may be reduced based upon the amount of time the payor spends with the child. Some states also cap support at a certain income level. If a parent is intentionally not working or is working at less than he or she is capable of earning, the court can “impute income,” which means setting support based upon what the parent is capable of earning rather than actual earnings. States vary on what expenses are included in child support. For example, some states include medical expenses and day care, while other states add those costs on top of the child support.
Do grandparents have visitation rights to their children?
Traditionally, the common law denied grandparents visitation with a child over a parent’s objections. But since 1965, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation enabling grandparents to petition the courts for visitation rights with grandchildren. The laws do not make granting of visitation rights automatic—they merely give grandparents the right to ask for a visitation order. Many states permit only grandparents to petition for visitation, but some have extended the right to other relatives, such as great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings, stepparents, and even non-relatives with whom the child has a close relationship. In these and other areas, state law governs.
Most commonly, a grandparent (or other permitted third party) may petition for visitation after the death of a parent or upon divorce of the parents. Some statutes allow petitions when a parent is incarcerated, when a child is born out of wedlock, and when the child has previously lived with the grandparent.
What happens if I die without a will? If you don’t make a will or use some other legal method to transfer your property when you die, state law will determine what happens to your property. Generally, it will go to your spouse and children or, if you have neither, to your other closest relatives. If no relatives can be found to inherit your property, it will go to the state.
In addition, in the absence of a will, a court will determine who will care for your young children and their property if the other parent is unavailable or unfit to do so.
If you are part of an unmarried same-sex couple, your surviving partner will not inherit anything unless you live in one of the few states that allows registered domestic partners to inherit like spouses: California, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, and Vermont
What are some factors that are considered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in granting an individual immigration status?
Factors considered by the USCIS include:
•Whether the applicant has an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
•Whether the applicant has a permanent employment opportunity in the U.S., and whether that employment fits under one of the five eligible employment categories;
•Whether the applicant is making a capital investment in the U.S. that meets certain dollar thresholds, and that either creates or saves a specified number of jobs; and
•Whether the applicant qualifies for refugee status as an individual who suffers or fears persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political view, or membership in a certain group in his or her country of origin.
If you need further information or attorney assistance, please feel free to use our FREE attorney finder service.
What is the difference between the trademark ‘TM’ servicemark ‘SM’ Registered ‘R’ in the circle and Copyright ‘C’ in the circle?
Copyright © laws protect ownership of things like music, writing, artwork, photographs, and other “original works of authorship.” Copyright protection is automatic and may last for over 100 years. However, not everything can be copyrighted, and some copyrights expired prior to 1976 laws. The “circle-c” mark has been “optional” since the 1970s, but is properly used with a date and identification of the author/owner. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is a federal crime to remove or alter a copyright notice when you’re making copies, regardless of whether the copies are lawful or not.
Trademark laws protect “words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in commerce.” Unregistered trademarks are a bit harder to enforce than registered, but last as long as they are being used. Trademarks may be registered in states or countries or both.
The (TM) symbols for TM and SM are completely optional and require no registration. However, there are advantages to having a state or federal trademark registration, including the fact that it will tell others when you first used your brand, which can be important in priority disputes. Valuable marks justify getting professional advice.
To learn more – and there is a LOT of info – check out the United States Patent and Trademark Office Home Page (their glossary is a good place to start) and the U.S. Copyright Office in the Library of Congress.
What is the difference between a sole proprietorship, partnership, and an LLC?
The biggest advantage of an LLC compared to a sole proprietorship and a partnership are that owners are not personally responsible for company debts. In a sole proprietorship and partnership, the owners are personally responsible for business debts. If the assets of the sole proprietorship or partnership cannot satisfy the debt, creditors can go after each owner’s personal assets. However, if an LLC runs out of money, the owners are usually not liable.
The exceptions for when a business owner would be liable include personal guarantees, minimal capitalization or insurance, fraud, and failure to pay state taxes or other violations of state law.
LLCs, however, are more difficult, expensive, and time consuming to set up than sole proprietorships and partnerships. LLCs are also more formal in their organization, but this leads to being held as more reliable and open to investors.
It is best to consult an attorney for further guidance and to help you file the necessary paperwork for an LLC. Please use our attorney finder to find the right attorney in your area. Alternatively, check out your state’s Secretary of State Office for more information and forms.
I am buying a home and I was wondering the different type of ways I can own the title?
There are a few different ways. First, sole proprietorship allows ownership by an individual or other entity capable of acquiring title. This requires a signature by a single individual, an unmarried individual, or a married individual acquiring sole and separate property.
Another option is a joint tenancy. A joint tenancy is for any number of persons, including husband and wife, and ownership interest cannot be divided. There is only one title to the entire property, with equal right of possession for all owners. Upon the death of one of the co-owners, that person’s interest ends and cannot be willed. The survivor owns the property by right survivorship.
Third, there is tenancy in common. A tenancy in common also allows any number of persons to hold title together. Ownership can be divided into any number of interests, equal or unequal. Each co-owner has separate legal title to his or her undivided interest, and each person may sell, lease or give away his or her share. Unlike the joint tenancy, there is no right of survivorship and upon death each interest passes by will to heirs.
In some states, community property or tenancy by the entirety is available only to a husband and wife, allowing equal ownership interest to each. Both parties have equal right of possession, and both must join in transferring real property. Upon the death of a co-owner, half of that person’s interest goes to the survivor and other half goes by will or succession to heirs.
What is the foreclosure process and how long does it typically take?
Foreclosure is the legal process that banks and mortgage companies use to force the sale of your home to repay a debt. Even if one payment is missed the lending institution can take the property back and then sell it to repay the money owed them. A foreclosure notice is typically filed after three or four payments are missed.
Each state governs the foreclosure process differently. The law does requires that the borrower receive sufficient warning or notice before the foreclosure can take place. Other rights and responsibilities may be outlined in the mortgage or loan documents you signed when you purchased the home. Check specific laws in your state.
I have been served with a complaint and summons and the case is in Superior Court, what is the next step?
After you are served with a complaint, you must answer the complaint with the court or file an answer. There are deadlines for both of these actions and it is best to consult with an attorney to determine how and when to answer a complaint. If you do not answer or demur a complaint, then you may have a default judgment issued against you.
After I file an answer to a complaint with the Superior Court, what is the next step?