Volume II, Issue 1, May 2012

BANKRUPTCY’S PROTECTION EXTENDS TO YOU AFTER YOUR CASE IS CLOSED
Betty Nguyen Davis Betty Nguyen Davis is an Atlanta attorney who focuses her practice on bankruptcy and personal injury.

A lot of people know that bankruptcy can protect you from foreclosure, garnishment, and lawsuits during the pendency of your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. However, did you know that bankruptcy’s protection extends to you AFTER the close of the case?

Upon the close and discharge of a bankruptcy, the court issues an order that prevents creditors from collecting discharged debt. Most debts that are listed on your bankruptcy schedules are discharged, although there are some exceptions. Debts that are not discharged include most taxes, child support or alimony, and debts based on fraud. Also, you are not protected if you incurred the debt after the bankruptcy filing.

When creditors whose debts have been wiped out upon the close of your bankruptcy case call you, sue you, garnish your wages, or try to collect money from you in any way, they are violating the bankruptcy court’s order stating that you no longer owe the money.

If a creditor contacts you either while you are in bankruptcy or after your bankruptcy case has been closed, you may be able to ask the court to punish the creditor by ordering the creditor to pay damages in the form of attorneys’ fees or other financial losses that you suffered as a result. You may also have a claim under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.

In order to obtain such damages, you must show that the creditor knew about your bankruptcy filing but still willfully contacted you to collect the debt in violation of the bankruptcy court’s order.

If a creditor calls you one time, and you inform the creditor that you filed bankruptcy and the creditor never calls you again, then you probably do not have a strong case. However, if the creditor persists even after you inform them of your bankruptcy, you could have a claim.

If a creditor calls you after you have already filed bankruptcy, you should:

  • Tell the creditor that you filed bankruptcy and give them your bankruptcy case number, along with my name and number;
  • write down the name of the creditor, phone number, date and time of the call, and note the conversation between you and the creditor;
  • if the creditor calls you again, keep the same records. If you have the ability to record the conversation, do so;
  • keep copies of all correspondence that the creditor sends you;
  • call your bankruptcy attorney and provide the information you have gathered.

Although not every contact will result in a strong claim, a welldocumented showing of persistent contact by the creditor may set up a case against them for fees and damages.

The bottom line is that creditors are not allowed to contact you without court permission (usually car and house creditors will obtain permission to proceed with foreclosure or repossession with a motion to lift stay). If they do impermissibly, they are violating the law!

HOW DO I PAY MY MEDICAL BILLS WHEN I AM IN AN ACCIDENT?

If you are in an accident that requires medical treatment, you are responsible for paying for such treatment, even if the accident was someone else’s fault. Although you are entitled to recover medical bills from a third party who causes your injuries, you must seek medical treatment and pay for it in advance of making your claim.

If you have health insurance, you can seek medical treatment as necessary to treat the injuries and submit your expenses to your health insurance company. You may come out of pocket for co-pays and deductibles in accordance with your health care plan.

Even if your health insurance company pays for your treatment, you can still seek reimbursement from the person who caused your injuries through their insurance carrier, whether it be automobile insurance or any other type of insurance policy. However, you cannot obtain the funds in advance. You must pay for treatment first.

Thus, you are still responsible for paying for treatment in advance of recovering from the other driver, even if you do not have health insurance. In that case, you may be able to find medical treatment from providers who are willing to treat you without advanced payment if you agree to pay the provider out of the settlement of your claim. Before agreeing to such terms, you should consult with a lawyer. Such arrangements are extremely helpful, especially in cases where you may need expensive surgery or treatment. However, you need to be careful about such arrangements.

Regardless of how you pay for medical treatment for injuries arising from an accident, it is important that you obtain proper and prompt treatment in order to make sure you get well and to make a successful claim for your injuries. Any gap in treatment could weaken your claim.

DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS OVERVIEW: WHAT KINDS OF PRODUCTS CAN BE DEFECTIVE?
Auto Defects
  • SUV rollover
  • Roof crushing
  • Seatbelt defects
  • Door latch defects
  • Tire blow out
  • Airbag Failure
  • Sudden Acceleration
  • Brake Interlock Defects
Child Products
  • Toys with lead paint
  • Choking hazards
  • Child car seats
  • Bicycle defects
  • Dangerous four wheelers
  • Flammable fabrics
  • Escalator injuries
  • Yamaha Rhino 660
Medical Products
  • Products recalled by the FDA
  • Pacemakers
  • Heart Stents
  • Defibrillators
  • Vaginal Surgical Mesh
  • Hip Implants/ Replacements
  • Pain management pumps
Dangerous Drugs
  • Actos diabetes drug
  • Chantix
  • Dilantin
  • Osmoprep
  • Reglan
  • Propecia
  • Triad Products
  • Yaz/Yasmin
  • Gadolinium

Manufacturers of products that are sold to the public have a duty of care to make sure that the products are safe to use the way the product was intended to be used.

When manufacturers fail to use quality control systems that ensure products are safe and contain adequate directions and warning labels for safe use, they can be held liable for hurting consumers with the products.

There are three different types of product liability lawsuits, including design defect, manufacturing defect, and failure to warn suits. If you are injured by a dangerous or defective product, the manufacturer of the product could possibly be responsible.

To show that you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, you have to prove that the manufacturer was careless or negligent and caused your injury. Other types of claims also include breach of warranty or misrepresentation or fraud.

Products liability cases in Georgia must be brought within two years of the date of the injury. If you or a loved one has been injured by a faulty product, it is best to consult a lawyer.

THE IMPORTANCE OF UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
TYPES OF INSURANCE COVERAGE
  • Bodily injury/liability
  • Property damage/liability
  • Uninsured/underinsured
  • motorist coverage
  • Collision Coverage
  • Comprehensive loss
  • Medical Payments
  • Gap coverage

Having automobile insurance is not only important, but it is required by law. However, when you buy car insurance, it is often difficult to decide the type of coverage you need and how much you should get.

One vital type of insurance that you should get is uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or “UM.” UM coverage will pay for your losses and injuries when another driver causes an accident but does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance to cover your losses.

All Georgia drivers are required to have at least $25,000.00 in UM coverage. However, it is a good idea to purchase “added-on” UM coverage because if you are severely injured in a car accident, you can rely on that UM coverage to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.

If you think about it, $25,000.00 can accumulate quickly when it comes to hospital visits, doctor visits, physical therapy, MRIs, or surgery. Of course, if you have health insurance, some of these costs can be covered by your health insurance. But, it is still important for you to have the additional coverage just in case you need it.

BUDGETING: HOW MUCH SHOULD MY MORTGAGE PAYMENT BE?

One of the biggest problems I see with clients who are overwhelmed by debt is that they fail to take a look at their budget. It is a difficult thing to do, but is imperative for financial planning. When faced with the question of whether to keep or surrender a house, you should consider your budget.

First, you should sit down and calculate your income. Pin down your take home pay by deducting tax withholdings from your gross monthly income.

Lending guidelines say you should not spend more than 35% of your gross (pre-tax) income on your mortgage payments (including property tax and insurance). That means if you make $40,000.00 per year, your total mortgage payments with escrow should be no more than $1,167.00 per month.

Now, Dave Ramsey, the popular debt erasing guru, has a budget that recommends that you spend only 25% of your take home pay on your mortgage and escrow. Under that scenario, a person making $40,000.00 per year and taking home roughly $2,700.00 per month should only pay $667.00 a month to the mortgage. The thoughts of losing your home or budgeting are not pleasant.

However, sometimes, your debt problems stem from a house payment that is too high. If that is the case, surrendering your house via foreclosure or bankruptcy may be a solid long-term decision that will ensure that you have a bright financial future.

YOUR APARTMENT COMPLEX HAS THE DUTY TO KEEP YOU SAFE

Did you know that apartment complexes, parking lot owners, and owners of other commercial properties have the duty to keep visitors safe?

Property owners have the obligation to act reasonably to protect visitors from known dangerous conditions. What that means is if the owner knows that there is a threat of danger, the owner must act reasonably to protect visitors, residents, or patrons.

In the context of an apartment complex, if there have been past incidents where people have been injured as a result of high crime or any other danger on the property, then the owner of the property must act to keep the residents and visitors safe.

For example, if there have been multiple muggings on the property and the apartment complex knew about them, the property owner has a duty to try to keep people safe by hiring security to patrol and obtaining better lighting.

If the property owner fails to make efforts to protect future occurrences and someone is hurt or killed on the property, then the property owner may be liable for monetary compensation for the loss.

MEET ALYSSA MALOOFAlyssa Maloof

If you are a client, Alyssa Maloof has probably happily assisted you many times. Alyssa has worked as a legal assistant at the Law Offices of Betty Nguyen Davis for almost two years.

Not only does Alyssa spend her day helping people with their legal issues, she is also a first year law student at Georgia State University College of Law.

Alyssa obtained her degree in International Affairs from the University of Georgia. After graduation, Alyssa spent a year working on political campaigns, and interning at the U.S. Capital before becoming a legal assistant. Because she enjoyed her work so much, Alyssa decided to go to law school in 2011.

Alyssa enjoys roller skating, dancing, running, and pageants. In addition to being a national champion roller figure skater, Alyssa has competed in the Miss Georgia USA pageant, and Miss America pageant system.

This summer Alyssa will be traveling to Linz, Austria to participate in a seminar focusing on International Commercial Arbitration, the predominate method of international trade dispute resolution.

If you have any concerns about your case, you can reach Alyssa at ajm@bettydavislaw.com.