Yes. In fact, while you can most often keep a home in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy has as one of its best qualities, the ability to get ‘caught up’ on your mortgage over time.

My Home In Chapter 7

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can keep your home provided you are current on your mortgage and the equity in your home does not exceed $35,000 for an individual, or $70,000 for a married couple. The equity is quite simply the fair market value of your home minus the balance of all mortgages on the home.

If the equity in your home does exceed the figures above, you can either ‘purchase’ that equity from the trustee by writing him or her a check for the amount you exceed the limits, or you can consider filing a Chapter 13, which would require that your payments in a Chapter 13 result in creditors getting at least the same amount of the excess, over the course of your re-payment plan.

My Home In Chapter 13

If you have too much equity in your home, or if you are behind on mortgage payments, HOA dues, or property taxes, a Chapter 13 will set up a repayment schedule for the arrearages, over the course of the plan. For example, if you were behind on your mortgage payments by $6,000.00 and filed a Chapter 13 to prevent foreclosure, the Chapter 13 plan would include paying off the $6,000 debt over the course of the 36 or 60 month plan—whichever you were approved for.

If excess equity is the concern driving you to choose Chapter 13, the Chapter 13 plan requires the debtor to pay creditors as much over the course of the plan as the creditors would get in a theoretical Chapter 7. Your Charlotte bankruptcy attorney will run all of those numbers for you and submit them to the court, but essentially if you have $8,000 of excess equity in your home, then as long as the plan calls for $8,000 or more to go to creditors over the life of the plan, your creditors can’t complain.

When you complete your Chapter 13 plan, you have completely paid off the amount of the arrearages, and your mortgage is current. When the plan ends, you go back to your normal agreement with you mortgage lender. None of the terms of your mortgage change as a result.

Call An Attorney

If your home is in foreclosure, there is still time to file a Chapter 13 to stop the foreclosure and force a repayment plan on your lender. Chapter 13 is a great way to do it. If you have any questions about Chapter 13, foreclosure, or Chapter 7, call 704.749.7747 today. We’re here to help.

This is a reasonable question to ask and I get it all the time. Quite often, I tell potential clients who have called my firm that they will be just fine without a personal injury lawyer. Those instances are typically when a lawyer’s fees would not be outweighed by the difference the lawyer could make in negotiating with an insurance company, or when the claim is cut and dry as in the case of a property damages only claim for a vehicle.

There are times when hiring a personal injury lawyer makes more sense and can make a significant difference for individuals. Here are some factors to consider if you’re trying to decide whether to hire a personal injury lawyer.

Claims Get Complicated

Personal injury claims may start off simple, or at least seem that way. Once you start going back and forth with an insurance adjuster, you realize they are not hired to look out for your best interests. They may request years worth of medical records in an attempt to establish your injury existed prior to the incident giving rise to the claim.

You may also get overwhelmed by the valuation of the claim. How much is future pain and suffering worth? What is the likelihood you’ll need a future surgery, and what is that worth today? These and other questions start to add up to money left on the table, and the feeling that you may be about to settle your claim for far less than you deserve. A lawyer helps issue-spot your claim and can defend the amount being demanded.

Your Comfort Level

While some injuries leave you quite capable of dealing with an insurance company, others leave you in pain. You’ll spend considerable time just managing your doctors’ visits, let alone pushing a claim along through a reluctant insurance company adjuster. Your lawyer of course devotes their practice to staying in good communication with adjusters, developing a working relationship with them, and knowing what they are willing to be flexible on, when it comes to your demand.

Coverage Is Denied

There are times where insurance companies deny coverage. You present all the information requested, it’s obvious from your perspective that there are damages and that there is liability on their end, yet you get a letter saying they deny all liability and refuse to even negotiate the claim. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate, a lawsuit is the next step, and having professional legal help is all but necessary at that point, to insure a good result.

You Feel Your Being Treated Unfairly

The bottom line is, it’s hard to know if you’re being treated fairly. While some of that decision is personal to you, it is always helpful to have an experienced personal injury lawyer involved in helping you determine whether the offer from the insurance company is reasonable. If you’ve reached a stopping point in negotiation, your lawyer will also discuss the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit with you, vs. taking the amount being offered. These can be stressful decisions and having a professional assist you can be priceless.

Protecting your rights after a North Carolina car accident can mean the difference between a nominal settlement with an insurance company, and fair reimbursement. While you generally have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit within the statute of limitations, there is some ongoing action you should take directly on the heels of the car accident or other personal injury you’ve sustained.

Keep Notes About A North Carolina Car Accident

I encourage clients to keep a small notebook with them at all times for the purpose of writing down anything associated with the accident. This means details from the actual event that led to the personal injury, to the pain they are experiencing after the injury. This is important for a few reasons. First, memory fades and the details of the accident are important to recall accurately and completely when making a demand on insurance. Second, unless a client communicates pain to their medical provider it will not make it into the medical record and the insurance company will deny a claim for it. Having notes to bring with you to the doctor’s or to your lawyer’s office makes all the difference.

Take Notes About Your Financial Losses

Your claim may include a demand for reimbursement for financial losses. In fact, I’ve represented numerous clients who filed Bankruptcy directly because of a severe personal injury they sustained which left them unable to work. While the pain of those losses is immediate and can be felt in the moment, down the road we often forget exact figures. By writing down financial losses specifically and keeping them in one place, you’ll build a strong record to rely on when making a claim.

Take Notes About Other Things Your Missing Out On

Birthdays, special family events, and other meaningful social events are often missed due to the timing of a personal injury, or the recovery period thereafter. While it is difficult to put a dollar figure on these events (which helps determine what your personal injury is worth) they are part of your overall claim and lend creditability to a higher damages calculation your Charlotte personal injury attorney may choose to utilize.

Justify Your Claim

Every insurance adjuster has limits as to what they can agree to in terms of settlement. It’s important to recognize that by providing greater detail and specific factual information which supports your claim, you’re enabling the insurance adjuster to either say yes to your demand, or justify your demand when requesting authority from their superior to settle with you for more than they have been authorized to do.

Call A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer

Call a Charlotte personal injury lawyer today. The call is free and you deserve answers to your questions. Additionally, answering questions is part of my job and I’d be glad to help in any way possible—whether you decide to move forward with my law firm or not. Call 704.749.7747 to speak with me today.

It can be frustrating for personal injury clients to not know what their claim is worth. An insurance adjuster won’t disclose the formula being used to determine value, and a Charlotte personal injury lawyer is hesitant to commit to a figure—for good reasons. Here are some factors that will play a role in determining how much your claim is worth.

Type of Injury

There are generally two types of injury categories: soft tissue and “hard” injuries. For soft tissue injuries, the damage is typically confined to the surface areas of the skin and the extent of the pain or discomfort is determined by what is communicated by the patient. Examples are:

— Sprained back;

— Sprained knee;

— Twisted ankle;

In “hard” injuries, a medical examination will detect the injury (MRI, x-ray), and physicians as well as insurance adjusters have a stronger hold on the pain associated with these types of injuries. Hard injuries of course, are worth more in a personal injury claim. Examples are:

— Separated joint;

— Broken bones;

— Pinched nerve;

Medical Bills

Your medical bills in a personal injury claim are a factor in the value of your case. Not only because you’ll be requesting to be reimbursed for out of pocket medical expenses, but because generally speaking the higher the medical bills the more serious the injury.

Duration of Treatment

If the recovery time from your personal injury is lengthy, you’ve obviously suffered more than someone who had the type of injury that left them bed-ridden for only a week. Your Charlotte personal injury lawyer will make sure to document the length of your treatment and the effect it had on your day to day life while you were treating the injury.

While chiropractic treatment is generally acceptable for reimbursement of medical bills, it does not carry as much weight for case valuation as treatment by a physician or through a physical therapy plan prescribed by a client’s doctor (physicians, hospitals, medical clinics).

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is a common phrase thrown around in personal injury. The more painful your injury was, the higher the formula used for computing your damages. The more invasive and long-lasting your treatment for the injury was, the higher the formula for computing the damages. This may not sound scientific, and that’s because it’s not. It’s a negotiation between you (your Charlotte personal injury lawyer) and an insurance adjuster.

Call An Attorney

If you have any questions about an accident or a personal injury claim, please call me at 704.749.7747. I’m here to help and the call is free.

The burden of supporting the damages claim for your personal injury claim is on you and your personal injury attorney. Essentially, your attorney will lead you on an information gathering journey from the time you hire them. Your personal injury attorney will also take steps to insure you complete all recommended medical treatment, in order to further support the damages claim. Here are a few categories of information you’ll need to be concerned with.

Police Reports

Provided that the police came to the scene of the accident, the report will be requested by your attorney. While the report may or may not speak to fault, there are often notes in the report which can add value to your claim, or which may weaken your claim. Either way, your attorney will want to be made aware of them. For example, if the report states that the driver of the vehicle had alcohol on her breath, this will play in your favor, even if there was not any ‘hard’ evidence that the driver was drunk.

Photographs

If you have photographs of your auto accident or the scene where had a slip and fall, this will potentially help to establish the extent of your physical injury, or lend itself toward establishing premises liability in a claim.

Witnesses

While witnesses can be unreliable in court, it typically strengthens a case if there is a witness who did not know you prior to the accident and who is willing to sign an affidavit or to testify as to what they saw. The sooner your personal injury attorney gets a written statement the better—memory fades as time goes by.

Documenting Injuries

Of course, one of the most important categories of evidence is going to be your medical records. From the date of the accident forward, you’ll need to make sure all of your treating physicians know the name and contact info for your personal injury attorney. Periodically, the physician will submit reports to the attorney’s office. Ultimately, once treatment is completed, the physician will provide a complete summary to the attorney’s office. This summary will pertain to your health and injuries, what the physician has done, what the physician recommends, and what the physician expects you will experience in the future. The attorney will examine this information and use it to assign value to your case.

If you have any questions about a personal injury claim in Charlotte, NC or would like to speak to an attorney about whether you might have a claim, please call 704.749.7747. The call is free and we’re here to help.

One of the challenges for clients in a personal injury case is waiting for the settlement agreement to be reached. This is the cause for a lot of frustration for individuals who are still experiencing pain and accumulating doctor’s bills. Fortunately, most bills can be deferred until settlement is reached.

Getting Treatment During Your Claim

While your personal injury claim is active, you will most likely still be receiving treatment. It isn’t until all treatment has been completed, that your personal injury attorney can make the most accurate demand on your behalf. My office communicates with any physician or chiropractor you are working with, to come to an agreement about your current bill.

While every office is different, most doctors and chiropractors will defer some if not all of their bill until your case is settled. They understand that is the first time you will have the funds available to afford the doctors’ bills.

Negotiating Medical Bills In Personal Injury

In addition to deferring bills during the settlement or litigation process, once a settlement is reached, my office will negotiate your doctors’ bills. This helps tremendously in putting more money into your pocket. While some doctor’s offices will want to know the total amount of settlement prior to agreeing to lower their bill, it is generally predictable the percentage by which they will lower the bill.

The Big Picture

Not having to pay for medical treatment prior to settlement means more clients continue with the treatment necessary to maximize the value of their claim. They also avoid the added stress of medical bills in personal injury, until the case is settled.

Negotiating down the medical bills in personal injury works for all parties—the physicians settle for an amount acceptable to their office knowing they will be paid in full, and the client experiences savings as well.

If you have any questions about a personal injury claim, or how personal injury claims work, please call me at 704.749.7747. You can also fill out a short personal injury consultation form here and I’ll call you.

When I speak with a potential or existing personal injury client, I’m always sure to ask about their mental state since the accident or event giving rise to their physical injuries. Quite often, clients either overlook anxiety or dismiss it as a natural byproduct of life. Physical injuries are tangible and more ‘real’ to us, while anxiety can seem like our own inability to deal with life—clients often feel guilty discussing this, but it’s important.

Emotional Distress Affects Your Pain and Suffering Demand

Anxiety, loss of sleep, depression—these can all be very real conditions directly related to the physical injury a personal injury client has sustained. Absent a compelling reason for not including it, the client’s personal injury claim should have a demand for pain and suffering incorporated into it.

Proving Anxiety or Emotional Suffering

While it is much easier to prove that a car accident led to a head injury or another injury diagnosed by a physician, it can be more challenging to establish the existence of anxiety or emotional suffering. If your personal injury attorney is negotiating a claim on your behalf with an insurance adjuster, the adjuster is going to need to be presented with some evidence of the claim for emotional suffering.

Every Demand Tells A Story

Your personal injury attorney knows that every demand presented to an insurance adjuster needs to tell a story—the client’s story. Mainly, the story is meant to illustrate how the client’s life has changed since the accident. It’s important that the personal injury attorney demonstrate vividly the loss of quality of life due to emotional distress or emotional suffering the client has experienced.

Consider a child who loved dogs and animals prior to a dog bite. The child had a household pet, numerous dog stuffed animals, and made friends with the pets of other households. Now, the child is petrified to pet any dog that is not her family dog, and is moved to tears when she’s in the same room with a dog. She also recently missed a class trip to the zoo because she was afraid the animals might bite her. There’s a story developing here.

Other Evidence Your Personal Injury Attorney Can Present

Anxiety in personal injury claims absolutely exists. Establishing hard evidence of it is something that needs to be considered early on. This is why I encourage clients to keep a journal of their physical and emotional experience from the day we begin working together. When this journal is combined with a list of prescriptions the client has been placed on to manage emotional suffering, or the narrative of a psychologist or other mental health professional, the demand for recovery for anxiety in personal injury cases starts to make sense.

How Much Is Anxiety Worth?

Your personal injury lawyer will use a formula which includes some generally accepted terms, combined with the severity of your physical injury, to determine the value of your emotional suffering. This will provide a good starting point for a discussion with the client and with the insurance adjuster, and will give meaning to the demand being made.

If you have any questions about anxiety in personal injury, or personal injury claims in general, please call me at 704.749.7747. I’m here to help.

You see commercials on television. You see advertisements in Google if you search for Personal Injury Attorney Charlotte. Almost every personal injury law firm advertisement promises to get you results. But how do you decide which personal injury lawyer is the best personal injury lawyer for you?

I have been practicing law for fifteen years. What I’ve found to be most important in my practice is client relationships. It’s how I’ve managed to build two successful law practices here in Charlotte in the past two decades. The fact is, many attorneys are capable of doing good work for you. What often distinguishes one attorney from another is the attention devoted to caring for clients.

Direct Access To Your Personal Injury Attorney

You deserve to be able to reach your personal injury attorney during normal business hours. If you choose a personal injury law firm that handles a high volume of cases, in many instances they manage those cases by limiting client access to attorneys. In the meantime, you’re expected to speak mainly with support staff. The attorney who was hands on in the beginning is somehow Missing In Action now that you’ve signed on with the firm.

At The Layton Law Firm, your personal injury case comes with direct access to an attorney. That’s a promise we make because we know it’s important for you to have substantive updates on your case, delivered by the attorney, on a regular basis.

Try This

Try this. Call or email a personal injury attorney in Charlotte and see how long they take to respond to you about your inquiry. It’s a good indicator of how much personal attention you will receive if you decide to have that law firm handle your case or claim. When you do speak with the law firm, are you speaking directly with an attorney? You should be. You deserve to. If you can’t speak with an attorney at the outset, it may be an indicator of the future inability to speak with one.  While there are many capable individuals who serve as support staff for lawyers, there are times where you need or desire to speak directly with the lawyer– we honor that.

Ask A Few Questions

Ask the law firm what it’s like to work with them on a personal injury claim. Will you be given regular updates? Can you access the lawyer via phone and email? Once you get to speak with an attorney, ask him or her what the most challenging part of their practice is. It’s an open-ended question but it will give you some insight into what’s important to them on a day to day basis, and what challenges them.

Trust Your Gut Instinct

In most cases, the client doesn’t know the law. That’s ok. Clients do have a gut reaction though, to an initial conversation with a lawyer or a representative at a law firm. If you’re trying to decide whether to choose a particular Charlotte personal injury attorney, you should consider all the information available to you– that includes the first impression the firm or lawyer makes upon you. Your ongoing relationship with the law firm will be about much more than the legal work they are doing for you. You deserve to be taken care of personally, while you and your attorney travel along the journey to obtaining best results for you.

If you would like to speak with a personal injury attorney about a potential claim, or ask any questions about an accident you have been in, please feel free to call me at 704-749-7747. Answering questions is my job and there’s no obligation to choose my firm to represent you. I’m happy to help.

 

It’s that time of year again. My office receives numerous emails and phone calls each week specifically asking about tax returns and bankruptcy. Mainly, clients want to know whether they can file bankruptcy prior to getting a tax refund, and whether they will lose their tax refund if they file bankruptcy.

Filing Bankruptcy Before You File Your Return

If you file bankruptcy prior to filing your return, you must estimate your tax refund and use bankruptcy exemptions to protect it. Ideally, you can consult with an accountant to get an estimated return amount and use those figures on the bankruptcy filing. The trustee will ultimately want to see your filed return. If the refund does not exceed your allowable exemptions, you can keep the refund.

Filing Bankruptcy After You File Your Return

When you file bankruptcy after you file your tax returns, you’re no longer estimating potential refunds. Your bankruptcy attorney simply discloses the refund amount and uses bankruptcy exemptions to protect it.

If you are filing bankruptcy after filing your return, AND after the refund has hit your personal account, not much changes. You’ll want to make sure with your bankruptcy attorney on the day of filing that any funds in your bank accounts are disclosed and exempted.

If You Owe Money

If you owe money to the IRS or state, that will not prevent you from filing bankruptcy. That tax debt will survive a Chapter 7 filing, but will not interfere with the discharge of other debt. If you’re filing a Chapter 13, the tax debt will be paid over the course of the Chapter 13 plan.

If you have any questions about tax returns and bankruptcy, please call my office at 704.749.7747. I’m here to answer questions.

The Layton Law Firm, PLLC is a Charlotte Personal Injury Law Firm. I’m writing this article today not to convince you to use The Layton Law Firm for your personal injury claim. Instead, I’m writing to convince you to seek the guidance of one of the Charlotte personal injury law firms, in general. If you have a legitimate injury, there are numerous reasons to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer in Charlotte.

Your Rights May Be Affected

First, the obvious. Charlotte personal injury firms and the attorneys that work for them make it their job to understand what your rights are, and how they may be affected by certain behavior. Waiting too long to file a claim, failing to seek the proper medical treatment and follow through with that treatment, even making statements to insurance companies—can all affect your otherwise valid personal injury claim.

Protecting Yourself Against Insurance Companies

Insurance companies are looking out for their best interests. If you negotiate a claim with an insurance company without the assistance of a personal injury attorney, you run the risk of getting less than what you deserve, and signing off on the right to pursue more money later.

Understanding The “Patience” Game

Your Charlotte personal injury lawyer will help you understand the frustrating amount of time it can take to settle a claim. But there are reasons. Charlotte personal injury law firms want to get paid on your claim as badly as you do, but they know that making a demand on the insurance policy too soon has a costly effect. As the client, your job is to follow your doctor’s orders, complete treatment, and give your personal injury lawyer the time he or she needs to put together the strongest case possible for you.

Negotiating Down Medical Bills

One way in which Charlotte personal injury law firms help you obtain a better result than you can on your own– even after you pay their fees– is their ability to negotiate down your medical bills. As part of representing you, the firm will present your medical providers with facts about the settlement and negotiate with them to get the bills down to a reasonable amount. The firm will also confirm that all medical liens by physicians and facilities against you are released as part of the process.

Emotional Support

Charlotte personal injury law firms are all different. It’s my opinion that most firms will get you a similar result. That’s good news for clients trying to decide on a personal injury lawyer in Charlotte. What will be different is your experience with each law firm and each personal injury lawyer you work with. You deserve an attorney who is competent in legal matters, but who also understands it’s an emotional journey that you, the client, are on. Your personal injury lawyer should soothe your nerves, keep you confident and informed in the process of negotiating the claim, and make you feel cared for. Period. It’s just part of the job.

Call A Charlotte Personal Injury Firm

If you have been injured, you should call a Charlotte personal injury attorney today. I can be reached at 704.749.7747. If I can’t assist with your case, I will be happy to refer you to another personal injury lawyer who I trust to assist you. Don’t get taken advantage of in the meantime.