Following are answers to questions frequently encountered at the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel about auto accident claims. If you have further questions or need immediate assistance in an auto accident or other personal injury matter, contact the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced auto accident and personal injury attorney.
Q. What should I do if I am in an accident?
A. You should first seek emergency medical treatment for yourself and anyone else injured in the accident. Exchange personal information with the other drivers involved, including names, addresses, registration and insurance information. Contact the police if you suspect another driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you think a traffic violation has occurred. When the police arrive, provide them with a detailed account of how the accident happened. In the meantime, collect the names and contact information of any witnesses. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to the vehicles. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Q. If the other driver was uninsured, can I still collect?
A. All insurance companies are required to offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you have this coverage, your own insurance company will compensate you when you are injured by an insured driver or one who doesn’t carry enough coverage to fully compensate you.
Even if the negligent driver is uninsured, he or she is still responsible for causing your injuries, and you may sue that person and obtain a judgment in the amount you are owed. Your attorney can then help you with different post-judgment remedies to collect from the person’s financial assets which are subject to judgment.
Q. Do I really need a lawyer to negotiate with the insurance company?
A. Whether you are dealing with the negligent defendant’s insurance company or your own, having legal representation is vital to obtaining a fair settlement. Insurance companies and their claims adjusters have a financial incentive to minimize payments on claims, and they will not necessarily offer you the true value of your claim. An experienced attorney knows how to properly evaluate a claim and negotiate for what your case is really worth. When an insurance company is dealing with a lawyer that they know is willing to go trial and has a record of success in court, they are much more likely to offer a fair settlement. Also, dealing with an insurance company without legal counsel could result in your unknowing waiver of important legal rights, including filing a lawsuit in a timely manner. For information regarding the applicable statute of limitations in an auto accident case in California, see the personal injury faqs page.
Following are answers to questions frequently encountered at the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel as we help people make a fresh start with the help of a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding. If you have further questions or need immediate assistance in a bankruptcy matter, contact the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced bankruptcy attorney.
How do I file?
Chapter 7 employs a means test based on a person’s income, assets, and liabilities, to determine if they have disposable income to apply toward debt repayment. If your household income is below the state median amount, you are automatically eligible for Chapter 7, and the means test is not even employed. If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 based on the means test, you may still be able to file for Chapter 13, unless the amount of your debt is very high. While individuals and businesses may file for Chapter 7, Chapter 13 is for consumers only.
Which Chapter is right for me?
Generally speaking, Chapter 7 is most attractive to consumers with large amounts of unsecured debt, such as credit card bills or medical bills that they cannot afford to pay off. These debts can be wiped away by the bankruptcy court, often without requiring the debtor to sell off any assets. Chapter 13 is more attractive to a homeowner facing foreclosure, or debtors with significant non-exempt assets which they desire to keep. In order to be successful in a Chapter 13 debt adjustment, you should have a steady job and some amount of disposable income which you can apply to a monthly payment plan.
Always consult with a qualified and experienced bankruptcy attorney before deciding which Chapter to file. Your attorney will want to know your entire financial situation, including your income, types of assets, and the nature and amounts of your debts, in order to give you the best advice about which route is best for you.
Can I keep my home?
If you are filing under Chapter 13, you can make up missed payments as part of the payment plan to save your home from foreclosure, as long as you stay current on your mortgage payments going forward. If you are filing under Chapter 7, you can exempt $75,000 of equity built up in the home as an individual, or $100,000 of equity as a couple. A debtor who is disabled or over the age of 75 can exempt $175,000 of equity in the home. Whether these exemption amounts would save the home from sale depends upon the overall value of the home compared to the amount of equity exempted.
What is an automatic stay, and how does it work?
The moment you file for bankruptcy, the court puts an automatic stay into place. This means that all attempts at debt collection or bill collection must stop while the bankruptcy is pending, including attempts to foreclose on a house or repossess a car or home furnishings. In order for a creditor to resume efforts at debt collection, it must apply to the court and receive relief from the automatic stay. The automatic stay is an important aspect of bankruptcy and provides immediate relief to consumers who are being hounded or harassed by creditors or who are in imminent danger of losing their home, car, or other important possession.
We are a federal debt relief agent.
Following are answers to questions frequently encountered at the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel about personal injury claims, including claims involving government entities. If you have further questions or need immediate assistance in a personal injury matter, contact the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney.
Q. When should my personal injury claim be filed?
A. Under normal circumstances, California law provides for a two year statute of limitations in most personal injury cases. This means that you must file your personal injury claim within two years of the date of your injury, or a reasonable period of time from the discovery of the injury. However, certain types of personal injury cases may call for a shorter or longer period in which a claim must be filed. For example, when minor children are involved, the statute of limitations may run longer. On the other hand, claims against government agencies must be filed within six months of the injury. In addition, a notice of claim must be filed with the public entity before being filed with the superior court. No matter what your injury may be, it is important to understand that each case is different and that a personal consultation with an experienced attorney is always advised.
Q. What is a notice of claim?
A. If your personal injury suit involves a claim against a federal, state, local government entity, or a government employee, you will most likely need to follow strict guidelines in bringing a lawsuit, including the requirement that you file a "notice of claim" within as few as 6 months after your injury. This is because governments and their subdivisions are usually entitled to what is known as "immunity" to liability and lawsuits, meaning that they cannot ordinarily be sued without permission.
Q. What is a Tort Claim Act?
A. Most governments, such as California, have enacted laws that contain rules for filing an injury claim against them. Through these laws (usually called "Tort Claims Acts"), federal, state, and city governments have conditionally given up or "waived" immunity to legal liability for an accident or injury. Note that if you do not follow the rules in these laws (including giving the government prompt notice of your injury claim), you will lose the right to receive any compensation for injuries caused by the government.
Q. How much are attorney fees in personal injury cases?
A. Our fees are contingent on a successful recovery. In general, this means that if you do not recover through a settlement or verdict, then you will not be charged. If you do recover, we charge a negotiable percentage of your recovery, which will depend on the facts and complexities unique to your case. We discuss the details of this arrangement with you during our first conference. Assuming there is an agreement between you and our firm, we will represent your interests through settlement and/or trial as necessary.
Q. What type of compensation may be available in my personal injury case?
A. Although each verdict or settlement award depends on the facts of your particular case, there are certain types of monetary damages that are generally available to personal injury plaintiffs. In many cases, a plaintiff may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages may include such costs as medical and treatment bills, lost wages, lost future earning capacity, and property damages. Non-economic damages may include pain and suffering and emotional distress. In addition, if you have lost a loved one in an accident, you may be able to recover for your own losses, including compensation for "loss of consortium," or loss of the person’s love, companionship, and support. If a negligent party’s conduct was particularly egregious in causing an injury or accident, you may also be able to recover punitive damages.