It is not uncommon for clients to miss a Chapter 13 payment for one reason or another. Just because you’re in a bankruptcy doesn’t mean life stops throwing you curve balls. Clients often have vehicle repairs that need to be done, or emergency visits to the doctor—any numerous financial surprises can get in the way of making a payment on time.

Modifying The Plan

Fortunately, the Chapter 13 bankruptcy court is interested in seeing people succeed. If you miss a payment, quite often the easy answer is to make the payment as soon as you can. If you miss multiple payments, typically the trustee will file a motion to dismiss or modify the plan. If this happens, you and your attorney will attend a short hearing where the trustee will propose a plan amendment.

Post-Modification

Once your plan is modified, quite often your plan payment amount stays the same. The trustee may extend your plan, or grant a moratorium on your missed payments, or adjust the base plan to accommodate the missed payments.

Call An Attorney

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide powerful relief in a way that treats creditors fairly while allowing flexibility for the individual filing bankruptcy. If you have questions about Chapter 13 bankruptcy or bankruptcy in general, please call 704.749.7747 to speak with an attorney today.

One critical part of qualifying for bankruptcy in Charlotte, North Carolina is disclosing to the court your average income over the past six months, as well as your Current Monthly Income. Many individuals filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 are using regular retirement withdrawals, to meet monthly debt obligations. Generally speaking, those withdrawals need to be disclosed but are not counted as income.

Stop Using Retirement To Pay Debt

Retirement funds are excluded from your bankruptcy estate. Simply put, that means the bankruptcy court can not get to your retirement funds. They are protected. So, using those funds to pay debt which would go away in bankruptcy doesn’t make sense. You’ve worked your entire life to build up retirement funds. Save your protected funds, and prepare to file bankruptcy.

Retirement Not Counted as Income

Generally, withdrawals from retirement accounts are not included in the income calculation. These withdrawals are more akin to a withdrawal from a savings account. Additionally, your Charlotte bankruptcy attorney can argue to the court that the retirement account(s) are a limited resource and would not continue indefinitely, thus further distinguishing them from income.

Taxable Income Distinguished

The bankruptcy court defines income differently than the Internal Revenue Service. Just because a withdrawal from your IRA or Pension Plan may qualify as taxable income for IRS purposes, does not mean it’s counted as income in a bankruptcy.

If you have any questions about retirement funds, IRAs or bankruptcy, call 704.749.7747 today to get your questions answered. The call is free and we’re here to help.

As a Charlotte personal injury attorney, I am attentive to numerous personal injury clients who are Medicare recipients. If you’ve been in an accident or had an injury resulting from an accident, there may be a Medicare lien upon any funds you recover in settlement of that injury.

Medicare Reimbursements

Typically, for a Medicare recipient, Medicare is contributing payments for medical services related to any injury the Medicare recipient has suffered. When the Medicare recipient settles with an insurance company for proceeds related to the injury, the personal injury attorney must take steps to confirm the amount of reimbursement Medicare is entitled to.

There Is No Deadline

While you can wait until you have your case settled to reach out to Medicare, that is not the standard procedure. Medicare takes months to respond and there is no deadline on their response, so personal injury attorneys reach out very early on in the process to try to determine how much of the proceeds are due to Medicare. This also helps the client decide whether the amount being offered by the insurance company is fair in their minds—the Medicare lien affects the net amount of money going to the client.

Medicare Hold Back Option

If you receive proceeds from a personal injury settlement and still have not confirmed Medicare liens, your personal injury attorney may be open to disbursing to you all of the proceeds minus the potential Medicare liens. Then, once the Medicare liens are confirmed, the attorney can repay Medicare and disburse the remainder to you.

If you have questions about a personal injury in Charlotte, North Carolina, or have questions about Medicare liens, please feel free to call 704.749.7747 to speak to an attorney today. We’re here to help.

As a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney, that’s a question I get asked quite often. Charlotte, North Carolina has a divisional federal bankruptcy as part of the Western District of North Carolina. In order to file bankruptcy in the Charlotte, North Carolina division, you must meet the domicile requirements set forth by the federal bankruptcy rules.

Determining Domicile for Bankruptcy in Charlotte, North Carolina

If you have lived or maintained a permanent residence in Charlotte (or the surrounding counties) for the last 180 days prior to filing bankruptcy, then you’ll file your bankruptcy in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can also file bankruptcy in Charlotte, North Carolina if your personal place of business or your assets (house, etc) are located in or near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Determining Exemptions for Bankruptcy in Charlotte, North Carolina

Regardless of where you file, your attorney will still need to determine which exemptions you use to protect your property. There are federal bankruptcy exemptions, and each state also has its own set of exemptions. If you’ve continuously lived for 2 years in a state, you use that state’s exemptions or the federal exemptions, if that state allows federal exemptions as an option.

If you have not lived in the same state the last two years, you use the exemptions for the state you lived most of the 180 days prior to the 2 year mark from filing. For example, if you were going to file June of 2015 and had not lived in the same state the last 2 years, then you use exemptions for the state you lived in the greater of the 180 period from January 2013 to June 2013. Confused yet? Fortunately your bankruptcy attorney will figure all of this out and most state exemptions are nearly identical to one another.

If you have any questions about filing bankruptcy in Charlotte, North Carolina, please call 704.749.7747 to speak with an attorney today.

If you have been in a car accident in North Carolina, one thing your personal injury attorney will ask you for is a copy of your accident report. While an accident report is not generated for every automobile accident in North Carolina, there are a number of places online where you can attempt to obtain the report. Regardless, each incident will have a Driver Exchange form listing the contact info for each driver and their respective insurance companies.

If you have the date of the accident and the names of the drivers, you can typically use the websites below to find the accident report.

Finding Your Accident Report

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department maintains a crash report website here: http://cmpd.policereports.us/ . Your report is typically available 2 to 3 days after your accident. Accidents which were attended to by the NC State Highway Patrol, generate reports which are available at https://www.ncdps.gov/ . If neither of these sites works for you, you may need to make a personal appearance at your local police department to request a report or determine if one was made.

Reading Your Accident Report

The report contains a lot of information about the accident, the drivers, property damage, and the conditions contributing to the accident or existing at the time of the accident. Your Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury lawyer can assist you in reading and understanding your accident report. If you have questions about an accident report, feel free to call us at 704.749.7747. We’re here to help.

Each state has a statute of limitations which limits the time you can bring a lawsuit arising out of an accident or event that led to a personal injury. In most cases, in North Carolina, you have three years to initiate a lawsuit by filing a complaint with the court.

There are exceptions to the three year rule. For instance, in products liability cases, you have six years to file a lawsuit, per the North Carolina statute of limitations. For medical malpractice, the rule is generally two years, or up to a maximum of four years if you could not have immediately discovered your injury or that the injury arose from a medical provider’s negligence.

For minors, there is a tolling of the statute of limitations period if you are under 18 when the injury occurs. Consulting a north Carolina personal injury attorney is the best way to determine if there is still time to file your personal injury lawsuit.

The reason for statute of limitations is multi-layered, but generally speaking the more time between the event and the filing of the lawsuit, the more difficult it is to establish negligence, track down the individuals involved, and accurately recall the events leading to the injury. Additionally, at some point, all individuals need assurance that a lawsuit will not arise from something in the distant past. The North Carolina statute of limitations assists in establishing some concrete rules around this.

If you have a North Carolina statute of limitations question, please call 704.749.7747 and we will be happy to answer it for you.

A recent New York Times article regarding elderly bankruptcy makes some important points for those entering their ‘twilight years’ while facing financial difficulty.

While there are no special considerations given to the elderly or senior citizens considering bankruptcy, the primary focus on the article is retirement funds. When individuals reach the age of retirement, outside of other income coming in, retirement funds serve as the only available funds for paying bills. What most people fail to consider is that all retirement funds are exempt in bankruptcy—so it doesn’t make sense to spend your retirement paying bills that would be discharged in a bankruptcy.

If you have questions about filing bankruptcy, please call 704.749.7747 to talk to an attorney today. There are options, whether you’re single, married, young or old. Bankruptcy can provide tremendous relief.

Car Accidents are at the least a gigantic nuisance, and at worst can change your life dramatically, giving rise to permanent injuries and health complications. Negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company– and even your own insurance company– can bring on an amazing amount of frustration and fear that you’re not going to get a fair result. A Charlotte personal injury attorney can make all the difference. In the meantime, here are some tips:

The Negotiation Process For Car Accidents

Typically, your negotiations won’t really begin until your treatment for your injuries from the car accident has completed. This allows your personal injury attorney to value your claim without the insurance adjuster responding that it’s “too soon to tell what the permanent/final injuries are.” In the meantime, HERE are some tips for gathering support for your claim, while treatment is ongoing.

Once treatment is complete, your attorney will value the claim from a number of different perspectives including lost wages, pain and suffering, outstanding medical bills, future medical expenses, etc. This is all summarized in the demand package your personal injury attorney sends to the adjuster, which will include an amount your personal injury attorney thinks the claim is worth.

Getting a response from the adjuster often takes 45-60 days. Keep in mind this is the insurance company’s first chance to review all the paperwork involved in the case, review doctors’ notes, and examine your personal injury attorney’s breakdown of the demand. Once you get a response from the insurance company, each side is essentially attempting to figure out how much movement there is between the initial demand and response, what each party is willing to settle for, and how much patience each side has to wait the other out.

Key Factors In Successful Car Accident Negotiations

FACTS: It helps to have good facts– a police report that establishes the accident was the other motorist’s fault, or damage to the rear of your vehicle (vs. being side-swiped). In negotiations arising from these car accidents, there is little chance the other side will argue their driver is not responsible.

PERSISTENCE: While patience is a key factor in not accepting too low a number, your personal injury attorney also needs to establish a sense of urgency with the adjuster. Once the adjuster has done his/her initial evaluation of the case, there is no reason for each exchange of new offers to take another 45 days.

UNDERSTANDING AND EMPATHY: Insurance adjusters are corporate employees who are over-worked and under-paid. Your personal injury attorney will develop a relationship with the adjuster which goes beyond trading offers back and forth. It is your personal injury attorney’s job to get the adjuster to see you as a human being with a full life, who has been sidetracked by a car accident that was not your fault.

PATIENCE, AGAIN: If the adjuster’s number and your number aren’t even close, the best advice is to wait it out. Sometimes that’s not possible, as hospital bills are piling up; however, most personal injury attorneys can get medical providers and billing agents to defer payment until the case is settled. This helps buy time to play the waiting game. The longer you wait, the quieter your side is, the less the insurance adjuster thinks they can get away with a low offer because the most important thing to you is getting the case settled.

If you have questions about negotiating a personal injury arising out of a car accident, please call 704.749.7747 to speak with me today. I’m here and answering questions is my job.

A major consideration in reaching a personal injury settlement is the existence of liens on the settlement funds. A lien is simply a rightful claim against property—in this case, your settlement check.

A variety of companies or entities may hold a lien against your settlement funds, including Medicare, doctors’ offices, chiropractors, and even your own insurance company (if they paid some of your medical bills related to the case). All of these liens and debts must be addressed and taken into account when reaching your final settlement.

Medical Providers

Your personal injury attorney will have a discussion with you about your bills, leading up to the settlement negotiation. Typically, your attorney will be negotiating on your behalf with the insurance company while simultaneously negotiating with individuals who are owed out of your settlement. To the extent the attorney convinces those providers to take less than they are owed, it puts more money in your pocket. Due to the ongoing nature of the relationship between a personal injury attorney and a medical provider like a doctor or chiropractor, the attorney is usually successful at getting your bill reduced significantly.

Tax Obligations

Lastly, while not technically a ‘lien’ at settlement stage, your settlement may give rise to a tax obligation. To the extent that your settlement represents lost wages, you’ll need to speak with an accountant about how to declare those funds come tax time. Additionally, if you previously took a tax deduction for medical expenses on a prior year return, and then were later reimbursed for those medical expenses when you settled, you may have a duty to disclose that to the IRS on your next return.

Call Today

Prior to reaching a final settlement agreement, your personal injury attorney should be able to show you your total bills, the negotiated amounts, and the net amount that will end up in your pocket. If you have questions about a personal injury settlement please call 704.749.7747 and we will be happy to help you understand the process. We’re here to help.

If you slip and fall in Charlotte, North Carolina—or anywhere in North Carolina—you’re going to hear a lot about contributory negligence. Contributory negligence is a legal term and in North Carolina, it means that if the injured party was 1% or more at fault, the entire case can get ‘thrown out’ and there is no recovery for damages. Don’t let it scare you.

Every insurance adjuster and insurance company attorney is trained to raise contributory negligence as a defense. While it is still in effect in North Carolina, it should not keep you from making a claim against the insured’s policy, or even litigating a slip and fall case.

Addressing Contributory Negligence In Negotiations

Your Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury attorney will navigate the discussion around contributory negligence with the insurance adjuster. Insurance companies know they would have to prove that the injured party contributed somehow to the slip and fall, and that represents risk on their side. Truthfully, the insurance company wants to avoid the courtroom, so the mention of contributory negligence is typically meant to defend a lower settlement offer from the insurance adjuster.

Your personal injury attorney will remind the insurance adjuster that even in courtroom settings where a jury is presented with instructions to deny recovery if the injured party is 1% or more at fault, what juries typically do instead is lower the recovery amount given to the injured party. The “all or nothing” nature of contributory negligence is negated in those cases.

Establishing Liability in Slip and Fall Claims

Once you get beyond the contributory negligence discussion, the insurance adjuster will defend their low settlement offer with the claim that their client has no liability—they are not responsible for the injury. It’s difficult to prove liability in a slip and fall case because whether it’s due to spilled yogurt on a grocery store floor, or an inventory pallet left in the middle of an aisle, by the time the attorney and insurance adjuster are discussing it, the physical surroundings in the store have of course changed.

Key Factors In Establishing Conditions

If you slip and fall in an establishment in North Carolina, take care to do the following:

— Take photos. We are all walking around with cameras on our phones. Take close-up photos and a few far away shots of where the accident happened, to establish the conditions.

— Report the slip and fall. By reporting the slip and fall to the store manager, you are creating a written record that you were actually there on that day, and fell, on that day.

— Take down employees names. If at all possible, write down the names of employees on the floor at that time. Months later when an attorney is trying to research the claim for you, this information will be priceless.

–Take down name and phone numbers for witnesses. Witnesses who are not related to you can do a lot to bolster your claim. Even if your claim never sees the inside of a courtroom, if the insurance company knows you have a credible witness, they will value the claim more because the chance of establishing liability of their insured is increased.

If you slip and fall in North Carolina, call us at 704.749.7747 for guidance. We’re here to help and the call is free.