Personal Injury Claims with Head Injury and Concussion

Personal Injury Claims with Head Injury and Concussion

There are different levels of trauma when it comes to a head injury, from minor to very traumatic. While some head injuries are easy to see, such as a bump or an open wound, there are times when a head injury can be accompanied by concealed damage to the brain. These situations can include concussion, memory loss, cognitive impairments, as well as emotional and behavioral changes that can impair the victim’s standard of living.

If you or a loved one received a head injury as part of an accident and intend to file a personal injury claim, you need to consider how much you would be willing to accept as a settlement. Resolving this claim can become difficult when head injury is involved, as it is hard to calculate damages and is dependent on many various factors.

Concussion Prevention and Risks

From sports to car accidents, there are many ways that a person can sustain a concussion. No matter how the concussion occurs, you should be aware that sometimes there is a lack of obvious symptoms present right after the event. This means that a single hit to the head can lead to a concussion without anyone realizing it at all.

In an athlete, no matter how hard the hit to the head was, it’s always best to be taken out and checked for a concussion before going back into the game. Making sure every athlete has the correct safety gear on is also very important. The athlete’s wellbeing should always be the most important aspect of the game at all times.

If you have been in a car accident or work-related accident where you hit your head, you need to have it looked at by a doctor as soon as possible for any symptoms of a concussion or other head trauma. You may not feel like your head hurts or have any symptoms that go along with a concussion, but it’s best to get it looked at for your own health and for any later legal action that may need to be taken. The documentation created from this kind of doctor’s visit will greatly help your case later for a personal injury claim.

Make sure you follow up after the initial check for a concussion, since some of the symptoms may pop up later after the incident occurred. Again, this is best for you and for your potential legal claim.

Types of Damages Due to Head Injury or Concussion

There are several types of legal damages involved in a head injury case.

General Damages (non-economic loss) are losses in which money is only a rough substitute. They can include:

  • Physical pain and suffering.
  • Loss of reputation.
  • Shock and mental anguish.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Loss of society and companionship.

Special Damages (economic loss) are losses that are easier to determine the money lost and calculate a comparable substitute. They include:

  • Lost wages.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Lost earning capacity.
  • Property damages.

How to Calculate Damages for a Claim

To calculate any damages for a head injury settlement, there are a few things you should do:

First, calculate for any special damages. This is a simple thing to do for medical expenses and lost wages, but it’s more difficult to do for future wages or your lost earning capacity. It’s a good idea for you to keep detailed records of your injuries and of every doctor visit along with any medication you take as a result of the injury.

Next, you should calculate your general damages. Most of the time, your general damages will equal 1.5 – 5 times the special damages. This is dependent upon the severity of your injury. It will help to keep a detailed journal documenting the effects of the injury to your everyday life. Make notes of pain you suffer, headaches, or any other head injury symptoms, like memory loss or dizziness.

Add these two losses together. The sum of these damages becomes the total value of your claim. You should adjust the value to reflect savings, and then adjust the sum based upon the expenses that will add up as well as the risk that you avoid by not going to trial.

Factors that Influence Settlement Value

There are several factors that can affect the overall value of your head injury claim:

Liability – A case where liability is clearly established will lead to a higher settlement than cases where there is a liability dispute.

Multiple Tortfeasors – This happens when there are multiple individuals who committed the act that caused the injury, and each person is represented by a different insurance company. There may be an issue with how much each tortfeasor should pay.

Characteristics of Plaintiff – The plaintiff’s own character can influence the value of the settlement. The plaintiff’s age, occupation, likability, or prior medical history can all affect the settlement value.

There are many factors to think about if you or someone in your family has sustained a head injury of any kind. It’s important to make sure you get the medical attention you need, especially if it’s a head injury, as concussion symptoms are hard to see and recognize early. If you want to take the responsible party to court or file a claim for your head injury and any damages, you first need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney and get them all the important information. He or she can then help you set up your claim and make sure you get the settlement you deserve for the head injury that occurred.

If you want more information on personal injury claims in California, check out Dan Higson’s other blogs, such as this one about motorcycle accident claims or this one on wrongful death claims. If you are interested in pursuing a personal injury claim in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

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Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

There are many types of bankruptcy that you can file, based on your situation and what you are looking to accomplish. Chapter 11 is a form of bankruptcy reorganization that is available to corporations, partnerships, and individuals. With no limit on the amount of debt for which you can file, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is most often the choice for a large business seeking to restructure its debt. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is not usually the best choice for individuals, because filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is much simpler and less expensive on a smaller scale.

Recently, the news has been full of Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings by retail stores that are struggling with modern online shopping. You can read more about this “Retail Apocalypse” here.

The Basics of Filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

When a business files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it will usually remain in possession of its assets. Operation of the business can continue under the supervision of the courts and for the benefit of its creditors. While under the supervision of the courts, if the debtor’s management is deemed ineffective or not totally honest, then a trustee can be appointed to watch over the business and manage it.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is usually referred to as a reorganization of debt. You will see businesses that are on the brink of closing up shop use Chapter 11 as a last attempt to save the business and stay in good standing with their creditors and partners in the business.

After a business has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a creditor’s committee is appointed from the 20 largest unsecured creditors who are not insiders to the business. This committee represents all of the creditors, while providing oversight for the debtor’s operations. It acts as a person or group with which the debtor can negotiate a plan for reorganization.

For the Chapter 11 filing to work, a plan needs to be confirmed by affirmative votes of the creditors. Their votes are used as function of the amount of their claim against that debtor. If said debtor cannot get the votes to confirm a plan, the debtor can then try to force a plan upon the creditors and get the plan confirmed despite the opposition. In order to do this, though, the debtor must meet certain statutory tests.

How Does Someone File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?

The debtor has 120-day period in which they maintain an exclusive right to file a plan of action. This time period may be extended or reduced by the court based on the case and the debtor that is filing. However, this time to file can be no longer than 18 months. After the exclusive time period has expired, a creditor or the case trustee may then file a competing plan.

A chapter 11 bankruptcy case can continue for many years, unless the court, the committee, or another party of interest acts to ensure the case has a timely resolution. The creditor’s right to file a competing plan provides the debtor with incentive to file a plan within the time period and can also act as a check on any excessive delay in the case.

The Success Rate of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing

Chapter 11 is usually the most flexible of the bankruptcy chapters to file for, but it is also the hardest to generalize. With it being so flexible, it can be the most expensive to the debtor as well.

The rate of success for those who file for Chapter 11 reorganization is sadly low, and is often shown at a success rate of 10% or less. There are many complex rules and requirements when filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and this often increases the cost to file the case and secure a plan for confirmation. In most cases, to file for reorganization under Chapter 11, the debtor is essentially adding to the debt in order to reorganize the debt they currently have.

Due to all of the rules and requirements, you will see most individuals who are looking to erase personal debt file for Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 11. Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers a plan to the debtor at a lower cost and allows the individual to keep possession of assets while catching up on secured debt and letting go of unsecured debt at the end of the plan. You can find more information on Chapter 13 bankruptcy here.

There is no easy way to reorganize your debt, and it can be an especially long process if you are filing as a business or partnership. But with a basic understanding and a plan for where you want your business to go, filing for Chapter 11 reorganization may be the best way to get your business back up and moving in the right direction.

If you have more questions about Chapter 11 bankruptcy, or bankruptcy in general in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

What Can an Estate Planning Attorney Do For You?

What Can an Estate Planning Attorney Do For You?

There are many types of attorneys and they differ in the ways that they can help. You’ve heard that an estate planning attorney could help your situation, but you’re not sure what exactly they could do. Let’s go over the basics here, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not consulting an estate planning attorney is right for you.

The Basics

An estate planning attorney guides you while you choose the correct options for maintaining your estate after death or if you become incapacitated. The right attorney will strive to understand your goals regarding your estate and desires for medical treatment in the case of incapacitation or death. Then he or she will suggest ways to reach those goals and wants and guide you through the necessary legal process to achieve them. Proper estate planning greatly simplifies the process for your family and friends after you are unable to manage things yourself.

Estate goals will differ for each person. Whether you want to involve your children and family in the maintenance of your estate or you want to distribute it all in a certain way, an estate planning attorney can help you set everything up correctly. The attorney can describe various options for you as well as make sure that your wants are carried out according to the law, as your estate must meet state guidelines to avoid any surprises down the road.

What Can an Estate Planning Attorney Help You Do?

  • Prepare a legally complete Property Power of Attorney.
  • Prepare a Will, as well as help manage the probate process with or without a Will.
  • Plan to reduce or even eliminate estate tax.
  • Establish a Living Trust. This will avoid probate and allow for management of assets in case of incapacity.
  • Help avoid guardianship of the estate of minors or an incapacitated person.
  • Pass along property to your loved ones in the manner that you wish.
  • Ensure that your property is protected appropriately from your inheritors’ creditors as well as predators.
  • Assist you in putting your brokerage accounts, insurance policies, retirement plans, debt and personal property, and business and partnership interests into trusts or business entities.
  • Create Irrevocable Trusts or other special types of Trusts.

For more information, here is an estate planning checklist for the state of California to help you focus on the necessities when starting your estate plan.

What Should You Look For in an Estate Planning Attorney?

  • Your attorney should be devoted in his or her practice to this area of law. He or she needs to have the specialized knowledge you require to plan your estate.
  • You should feel comfortable sharing details of your life and concerns with him or her so that your estate does not fall short of your wants and goals.
  • Your estate planning attorney needs to be well versed in and up to date with the laws in your region. If they are not, your plan could ultimately be found invalid by the courts later on.

What Should You Expect to Pay for Your Plan?

You should be prepared to pay the legal fees to have your estate plan created, maintained, and updated as the laws change. Remember that you are paying for the attorney’s expertise and years of practice in this field. If you do not work with an attorney who has the experience in estate planning, your estate could stand to lose far more money in the long run than the cost of paying for a qualified attorney. There is peace of mind that comes with knowing that things are going to go exactly as you planned should you pass away, and this is possible with the help and cost of that qualified estate planning attorney.

In other words, there is much more here than one person can handle on their own. If you have numerous things set up or numerous business deals and property, it’s probably best that you find and consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. This will save you time, headache, and money in the future. It can also give you and your family relief knowing that all of your affairs are in order when the time should come.

If you feel like you want to take on your own estate planning, check out Dan Higson’s blog on do-it-yourself estate planning here. There are many resources available to help you fill out simple estate planning forms yourself. Just keep in mind that tricky and complex estate plans will require legal guidance to ensure that they are set up accurately.

If you have more questions about estate planning in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

What to Expect After Filing Bankruptcy

What to Expect After Filing Bankruptcy

Whether you have just filed for bankruptcy protection or are simply considering the option, it’s important to know what comes next. After filing bankruptcy, you may feel an initial sense of relief. The bankruptcy laws were set up to help people in your situation, after all. Your credit rating will not be as strong after filing bankruptcy, but it probably was not very strong leading up to the process anyways. There are some things to expect once you file, as well as some things you personally can do to get yourself back on the good financial road sooner. Let’s look at a few of those factors now.

Trim Down Your Lifestyle

After filing bankruptcy, there is still the chance that there is a small amount of your debt that you will need to pay back. Paying this debt back is part of the deal, and you must make sure you do it in order to really start rebuilding your credit. The court can sometimes help you set up a budget to live off of and will divide the rest of your income out to the creditors you owe.

What does that mean? You must set yourself up for a no-frills type of lifestyle as you improve your financial situation. This can mean changing the basics, from buying cheaper options at the grocery store to finding a less expensive place to live. Remember that during the period of your bankruptcy, you cannot add on new debt, so what you have as income is it. No extra income will come from creditors.

Once your bankruptcy has cleared, the filing will still stay with you for another 10 years, making it hard to get a low interest line of credit or any credit at all. Making small changes in your lifestyle to help your budget can help you manage your credit and spending better later.

Getting Credit

After filing bankruptcy, you might immediately start getting calls from credit card companies offering you cards that will help you build your credit back up. As tempting as this may seem, you cannot add new debt if you are still within the active bankruptcy process. Also, do not jump back onto the credit card bandwagon until you are sure it’s something you can safely manage. You do need credit to rebuild your finances, however, so be careful and honest with yourself as you start this part of the journey. How fast you rebuild your credit depends on you and the resources you have available to you.

If you managed to keep your house in your bankruptcy filing and have been making your mortgage payments, this will help build your credit back up. As you start to get new credit lines, you need to know that you will probably not qualify for most conventional loans or mortgages. If you pay your bills and debt on time during your active bankruptcy, you should have access to these conventional types of loans within two to three years.

After filing bankruptcy, you are likely to see higher interest rates on any line of credit you obtain. These rates are based on your 3-digit credit score, and this score is going to be low right after a bankruptcy. The good news is that negative items on your credit will have less and less impact on your credit report as time goes by. Making sure you replace these older negative items with newer and more positive items will quickly raise your credit level to good standings.

Discuss Your Lifestyle After Bankruptcy With Your Lawyer

You most likely had weak credit when you decided to file for bankruptcy, so you already know what this entails. After filing, you have a great chance to rebuild that credit. Talking with your lawyer can help you start down a good path in the right direction. If you handle the old debts carefully, your credit can bounce back stronger than it was before. Your attorney should have the resources to help you make those decisions and do what’s best for you and your future credit.

Filing for bankruptcy can be a stepping stone to better money management and a good lesson for you on how to develop the skills to increase your credit score and keep it all in good standing.

If you want more information on bankruptcy, check out attorney Dan Higson’s other blogs, such as these that go over the basics of Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you have more questions about bankruptcy in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

Estate Planning with Foreign Financial Assets

Estate Planning with Foreign Financial Assets

Estate planning can be a complicated and tricky thing to do, but this is especially true when you have diversified assets. It can become even more complex for the estate plan that has to take foreign financial assets, including real estate, into consideration. Whether you are thinking of purchasing any foreign assets or you have already done so, you need to know how these affect your estate plan. Making sure you have an attorney who specializes in estate planning is key. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you better understand the steps needed when dealing with foreign assets and how to put them into motion.

Wills and Their Validity

In most cases, a United States Last Will and Testament is a valid way for you to make sure your assets reach the people and places you intended them to go. However, if your will includes any foreign assets, there are separate rules that need to be followed other than just writing up a simple will.

If your will should include any foreign assets and the proper steps were not taken, it could make your entire United States Last Will and Testament an invalid document. Needless to say, this will be a huge hassle for your heirs! To avoid this situation, you must ensure that the document complies with the requirements of a valid will in the foreign jurisdiction where your assets are located. It’s important to consult an estate attorney in the country where these assets are located or at least one who is proven to be very familiar with the laws of that country. If you do not take the time to do this, you can take the risk of losing those assets or having them distributed in a way that does now follow your wishes.

It’s also important to take into consideration how multiple wills can affect your estate. Most likely an estate plan that takes the laws of multiple countries into account will require more than one document to set up a will.

Taxation

Your taxes are one of the more complicated issues that come along with foreign assets and estate planning. The United States maintains estate tax treaties with several other countries around the world. What this means is that when an individual passes away with any property in those countries, then that property will be included in the person’s estate and can sometimes be subject to the estate tax. If this should be the case for you, it may lead to a double taxation on these assets and would have a larger impact on the amount of assets that remain after all tax considerations.

Along with this, you need to remember that many foreign countries impose a higher estate tax rate on assets that are distributed in a certain way. Using France as an example: if you leave property to a cousin, it carries a higher tax consequence than if you were to leave the same property to a sibling.

Additional Costs

Dealing with estate planning that includes any foreign assets will require a lot more work to make sure that everything is accurate in each document. Every document, both foreign and domestic, should be reviewed to make sure they all comply with the rules and regulations of both countries.

Since each document should be cross-referenced to make sure that they go along with the laws, you will see more up front costs. Just keep in mind that these steps will save you even more money in the future by preventing costly mistakes.

If you have already set up your estate plan but have added foreign assets since then, you need to make sure that you speak with an experienced estate planning attorney such as Dan Higson to make sure the newly acquired foreign assets are covered.

Any type of strong estate plan benefits from an experienced estate planning attorney, but in the event that you have any foreign assets, it is even more important to have that experienced attorney there to help you along the way. He or she will take the time to help you double check everything, make sure you are leaving everything as it should be, and that everything is filed in the correct way.

If you have more questions about estate planning in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today. You can also check out Dan Higson’s other blogs here!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

What Makes a Motorcycle Accident Different from a Car Accident?

What Makes a Motorcycle Accident Different from a Car Accident?

Getting into any kind of vehicular accident is scary and dangerous. It will also lead to a lot of stress and questions. What should I do next? How do I pay for these repairs and medical bills? While you may think that getting into a motorcycle accident has the same set of laws and consequences as a motor vehicle accident, there are a few differences. If you or a loved one is in a motorcycle accident, your first legal step is to make sure you have an experienced attorney who knows those differences and can help you navigate the legal path.

How Do Motorcycle Accidents Differ from Car Accidents?

Size – Most importantly, a motorcycle is a much smaller and lighter vehicle than most other kinds of passenger vehicles. This leaves riders with less protection than they would get with a regular motor vehicle. This leaves the person with a much higher chance of serious injury or death if they are in a motorcycle accident.

Less Visibility – Due to the smaller size, motorcycles are not as easily seen by other drivers and can be difficult to see. The visibility of motorcycles is also reduced at intersections.

Road Hazards – Any debris that may be lying in the road, along with wet or bumpy pavement, has little effect on most passenger vehicles, but can be trouble for the unsuspecting motorcyclist. This could lead to a motorcycle accident in a split second.

Less Protection – Aside from the protection of a car surrounding them, motorcyclist also do not have seat belts and lack airbags. Yes, they (should) have helmets and protective clothing, but it may still not be enough to shield the rider from serious injury in an accident.

Driver Skills – The ability to drive a motorcycle takes much more skill than just driving a car. An inexperienced driver may be much more likely to be in a motorcycle accident than a car accident.

High-Risk Driving – If a motorcycle rider is riding on a sport or super-sport bike, they may be more tempted to speed, can accelerate too quickly, and can sometimes be tempted into engaging in other unsafe driving practices.

Shorter Stopping Distance – A motorcycle can stop more quickly than a passenger vehicle, so when a motorist is not keeping a safe distance behind a motorcycle, the rider can be easily rear-ended when he or she makes a quick stop.

Unfair Prejudice to Motorcycle Riders

It is an unfair fact that in many cases, a motorcyclist will be seen as a daredevil, based on past experiences around other riders or from the media. A reckless motorcycle rider is the minority, but it can leave a bad impression for those who have encountered those riders. This means that as your motorcycle accident case goes to court, it is crucial that you have a good attorney on your side who can figure out if the jurors have any previous bias towards motorcycle riders. An experienced attorney can help show the court that you, the defendant, are a responsible motorcycle rider.

Jurors Should Have a Basic Understanding of Motorcycles

In most cases, the majority of a jury will not have any first-hand experience on how motorcycles are driven or how a rider is supposed to react in certain road situations. For a jury to fully understand who is at fault and have a better understanding of the responsibility of both parties for injury compensation, there must be a fundamental knowledge of safe motorcycle practices.

For example, a motorcycle rider knows that speed creates stability on a bike, but a passenger car driver would likely consider that faster speed to be reckless driving. Having an attorney that is experienced in motorcycle accidents can help educate the jury and can greatly improve your case.

Motorcycle Accidents Have More Severe Injuries

Due to the open and exposed nature of motorcycles (which is often what attracts people to them) an accident that involves a motorcycle typically has more severe injuries than collisions between two cars. There are often times where serious and permanent injuries can occur in even a minor motorcycle accident. This again is when it’s very important to have an attorney who specializes in this kind of case and can help account for these types of damages.

An example of having an attorney who can account for injures due to a motorcycle accident is if a rider has road rash. This injury is often more painful than fractured and broken bones and common to riders who have been in an accident. The right attorney will be able to better calculate what compensation you would need for the future recovery of road rash as well as other injuries.

Beware of Sneaky Insurer Tactics

Just like your jurors may have a prejudice against motorcycle riders, some insurance companies do too. They sometimes will try to use biases to their advantage and leave many riders seeking the help of a motorcycle accident attorney after they realize that their insurance company is not acting fairly on their behalf. Always keep in mind that insurance companies are not on your side, and don’t want to pay out large amounts of money when they don’t have to. It is likely that if you are partially at fault for the accident, the insurance company could very well try and deny you any compensation.

The only way for you to make sure that you are treated fairly in court by both the jurors and the insurance company is to make sure that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney, like Dan Higson, who understands the hurdles that will come up when proving fault in a motorcycle accident case. You must not make the mistake of thinking that a motorcycle accident is the same as a car accident.

If you have further questions about your motorcycle accident personal injury case, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez or check out Dan Higson’s motorcycle accident page, which goes over what to do immediately after an accident occurs.

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

DIY Estate Planning (and When You Need Legal Help)

DIY Estate Planning (and When You Need Legal Help)

When you really sit down and start to think about planning out your estate, you soon realize the headaches that can come along with it. Lawyers charge a big fee, but it’s important to make sure that everything is set up correctly. Fewer and fewer people are spending their money on estate planning help, and are opting to do it themselves or to not have any legal documentation at all. There are many online resources available to you if you choose this route, but it’s important to recognize when you’re in over your head and seek help from the professionals. You don’t want to leave your family in a bad financial situation later by saving some money now!

DIY Estate Planning

There is nothing out there that says you can’t plan your estate out yourself. In fact, you can easily access many books, software, and websites that get you the documents and knowledge to use them for free or for a much smaller price than using a lawyer.

In most situations, doing some DIY estate planning on a smaller budget is better than doing nothing at all. Should you pass away without a will and testament, state law will determine how most of your belongings are handed out, and the results may not match what you wanted. Check out this blog if you want more information on how that situation works. If nothing else, it’s certainly better to have simple living will and medical power of attorney forms set up before you are wheeled into an operating room, even if there has been no lawyer consulted.

Estate Planning Complications

While these forms may be easy to write up and print from a reputable website, there can be things that an average person would not think may go wrong when setting up these legal documents without a lawyer’s help. One of these mistakes may cost your heirs more than you saved in the legal fees in the long run.

If you are married, own a home, have kids, or other factors can add some complications to your estate planning and contribute to the possible mistakes in your documents. If you are worried about the estate tax charged for people who leave behind more than a million dollars, it may be in your best interest to at least consult with an attorney before you write anything up, as each state has a different process for this tax before the federal tax is added in.

Keep in mind, as you are setting up your DIY estate planning, that most lawyers also rely on software to keep track of these documents and reduce the chance of mistakes. Look around for one that helps you prepare the documents at a relatively low cost.

Estate Planning Documents and Professional Assistance

As you shop around in preparation to plan your estate, here are five important estate planning documents that can be a low-end cost to you even when you have a legal pro help you prepare them. Depending on your situation, these can be tricky documents that can be set up incorrectly if not checked by a professional.

Basic Will and Testament

At the base of every estate plan, your will should transfer your assets, appoint a guardian for any minor children, and name an executor to your estate who will hand out your belongings as you see fit after you are gone.

Having an attorney help you with this document may be a good idea, as this can be the document that will have the most trouble spots that only an experienced lawyer would be able to spot. For instance, if there is a special needs child, some software programs will tend to dis-inherit this child if you answer a question a certain way. If you have stocks you want to equally share between children, there is a certain way to go about handling that in a will that may be best left to a legal professional to ensure correctness.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

An irrevocable life insurance trust is created so that you own a life insurance policy that becomes part of the taxable estate. Your heirs can own insurance directly on your life without using a trust, but not if those heirs are minors.

This is a trust that requires a very careful plan. You can add money in the trust to pay the insurance premiums using the annual exclusion, but that annual gift must be of a “present interest.” This means that it is something that the recipient can use right away. The beneficiaries of a trust like this are usually given ‘Crummey powers’ (right for a limited time to withdraw all the money from the trust). For these powers, a lawyer could write up a sample letter for the beneficiary called a Crummey notice in order for them to get the trust money.

To speed up this process with a lawyer, make sure you already have your first and second beneficiary ready so that the guesswork is already done.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney appoints a trusted family member or advisor to act on your behalf in legal or financial matters if for some reason you cannot.

A lawyer can help you quickly determine which rules apply to this in your state. If you own real estate in more than one state, you may need a power of attorney for both. They can also help you determine which powers should be included and when the document should take effect.

Health Care Proxy

This can also be known as a health care agent or health care power of attorney. A health care proxy will authorize someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable. Similar rules apply for an attorney’s help as with the durable power of attorney.

Make sure you have at least four copies of this document signed. Keep one for yourself, and give the other copies to your health care agent, your primary physician, and a trusted advisor.

Living Will

A living will expresses your preferences about certain parts of end of life care, instead of leaving it up to the person named in your health care proxy.

Having a lawyer who has witnessed life or death decisions with other clients help you can often better facilitate conversations about this difficult topic. It may be less stress emotionally on you and everyone involved to have a lawyer’s help setting up this document.

DIY estate planning is not for everyone, or at least not every aspect of it. Knowing what you are comfortable handling on your own and what you want guidance with will make the planning go much smoother (and cheaper in the long run) for you and your family.

If you want more estate planning tips, check out Dan Higson’s other blogs hereThis one goes over how to fairly distribute the assets of an estate. If you have more questions about estate planning in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

California Debt Consolidation

California Debt Consolidation

Not everything is sunshine in California. While the sun is warm and the water is nice, there is a staggering 10% rate of unemployment in the sunshine state. This includes a poverty rate that is well above the national average. The state’s economic turn for the worse has created a tide of serious personal debt for many people. Those who took out mortgages before the housing bubble burst, as well as those holding credit card and business loans, seem to be taking the biggest hit. While some consider debt consolidation to be the best option, there are a few pros and cons to look at before you decide if that is the right choice for you. For many people struggling with debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a better plan.

The Pros of Debt Consolidation

If you decide that debt consolidation is right for you, here are some pros you can expect to achieve through the process:

  • Debt consolidation programs are more regulated and enforced now than they were a few decades ago.
  • It will provide you with a proven and predictable program to become debt free.
  • It can save you money, reduce your interest rate, and waive late fees/penalties.
  • Allows you to reduce your debts at a pace that fits into your budget.
  • Lets you manage multiple debts owed using a single and more affordable payment.
  • Will put you back in control of your finances to help reduce your stress.

The Cons of Debt Consolidation

Although debt consolidation programs are better than they used to be, there are still several problems with them, which may push you to look at your other options:

  • Sometimes the math doesn’t work out, and the debt consolidation does not outweigh the interest and late fees accrued during the process.
  • If you default on payment, you revert back to the original creditor agreement.
  • Creditors are not required to accept any debt relief proposals.
  • It takes discipline to make every single monthly payment.
  • It can take up to 3-5 years, sometimes more, to become debt free. This is mostly due to negotiations with the various companies.
  • While you stop paying your bills for debt consolidation, you may be at risk of being sued for the outstanding debts.
  • Debt consolidation will be noted on your credit report. Although this is not always harmful to you, sometimes this process can reduce your credit score significantly.
  • You may still be required to pay taxes on the forgiven debt.

What to Expect with Debt Consolidation

In most cases, debt consolidation programs are set up by debt relief specialists who will conduct brief interviews with you to better understand your debts. They will also make sure they understand how much you can realistically afford every month for a payment.

With this information, your debt consolidation specialist can help you customize a debt management plan. Once the plan is OK’d by you, a letter will be sent out to all your creditors requesting the benefits of debt relief. If accepted, those creditors are added to the debt consolidation program that was set up for you.

There may be some creditors that do not accept the proposal for debt relief, and you would still be required to live up to the original terms with that creditor. Take this into account when you are setting up the monthly payment you can afford. While you look into debt consolidation, it is important to remember that no two situations are the same, and there is no single debt consolidation solution. This is where a debt specialist can provide more help and details.

Types of Debt Consolidation in California

There are many California debt consolidation programs out there if you want to take that route to get your head back above water. Here we will go over a few options for debt relief in California. These are the options you have if you want to act quickly on your mounting debt, and these options can prevent you from filing bankruptcy or foreclosure.

Debt Consolidation Loans

If you cannot seem to make any headway on your credit cards and other unsecured debt, getting a debt consolidation loan may work for you. These loans, which are offered by a wide variety of lenders, are designed to help you pay off your outstanding debts by consolidating your payment obligations into a single loan. Once you do take out a consolidation loan in the state of California, you will be relieved of any future obligations to your former creditors. Instead, you will only be obligated to pay that single payment on the loan.

While this is a convenient option, there are a few drawbacks. These loans are not typically offered to borrowers who have poor credit, and they can also carry high interest rates, which may make your debt worse rather than better. Also, using a debt consolidation loan can leave a bad mark on your credit score.

Debt Management Plans

When you use a debt management program, your credit counselor will review your household budget and help you come up with a money-saving plan that will lower your obligations without draining your budget. These plans have the power to put a reorder on your entire household budget.

Your credit counselor will be the one to negotiate with each of your creditors in the effort to reduce your outstanding rates. What amount you will actually save depends on the persistence of your counselor and the willingness of the creditors to negotiate. Having a knowledgeable person negotiate this on your behalf greatly reduces your stress levels while increasing your chances of getting a good deal.

California Debt Settlement

This is also known as debt negotiation and is regarded as the one of the better options if available to you. If a debt management program does not give you the results you want, then setting up a tailored program of California debt settlement might be what you need.

This is a several-step process starting with an entire team of debt settlement experts going to bat for you. They will negotiate with creditors to reduce principal balances and you will stop making any payments on your unsecured debts. You will also stop getting those collection calls at all times of the day.

This is a process that could last for a total of 2 to 4 years, but it might take less time in the state of California than if you used a debt management program. If you choose this option, you could easily see a debt reduction into the thousands of dollars.

Bankruptcy is a Good Option

Although it sounds scary, it’s possible that bankruptcy is the best option for your situation. Check out Dan Higson’s blogs on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13bankruptcy to learn more about the specifics. Many debt consolidation companies harshly and falsely criticize bankruptcy. Bankruptcy does not mean starting from zero. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for example, you will still be able to keep your personal possessions and many of your assets. You will also be done with the process in a matter of months instead of years. Bankruptcy will halt collections and lawsuits. Both bankruptcy and debt consolidation will harm your credit score, often to a similar extent.

When to Choose Debt Consolidation

If Chapter 13 is your only option (which takes 5 years to accomplish), or you absolutely do not want to file for bankruptcy for another reason, debt consolidation could be for you. If you are willing and able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is probably your best option, since it takes less time and provides more financial and legal protection. A good bankruptcy attorney is legally required to keep your best interests in mind. Debt consolidation companies are not required to give you all the information about your other options, and may be more interested in their own ambitions.

As long as you are careful with choosing a debt consolidation plan and are able to stick with it, you should see improvement in your financial situation. With all the different California debt consolidation options, you are sure to find the right option for you and your budget so that you can take that next step to the relief of financial burden. If you have more questions about debt consolidation in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

Out of State Car Accident

Out of State Car Accident

It’s the time of year for family vacations and getaways. For many, this means a road trip across several state lines. As you set out on that road trip, the last thing you want to happen is a car accident, but what if that should happen to you? How does the process work if you are out of the state you live in when an accident occurs? Let’s take a look at how this works with the state of California.

How to Handle the Claim

No matter where an out-of-state accident occurs, dealing with the insurance claim can be quite a task. Lets say you have an accident in California, but you live in Nevada. If this is the case, then you are able to file and handle the claim in the state of Nevada. However, if you are unable to settle that claim, you would then have to file a lawsuit under California’s laws. This is because the accident occurred in the state of California, so that means it would fall under that state’s legal jurisdiction.

What does all of this mean? Unless the California driver chose the higher liability coverage, you would be covered under the California minimum insurance liability amounts. These amounts are: up to $15,000 per person for bodily injury, $30,000 per accident per bodily injury, and $5,000 per accident.

If your injuries or damages do not exceed the minimum liability coverage in California or the driver’s extended coverage, filing a claim should not be much different than with any other accident in-state. Should the injuries or damage exceed that coverage, your claim could get tricky. If the driver has the minimum coverage for California, their insurance would only cover the vehicle’s damage and not your injuries, thus leaving you with all of your medical bills.

Having the Right Insurance Coverage

There is a simple solution for you so that you can make sure to avoid the common problem of being a driver with too little insurance coverage. Simply make sure you carry on your insurance policy the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This is an added coverage should you be in a car accident anywhere with another motorist that does not carry enough or any insurance at all. Having this coverage on your policy means your insurance coverage would kick in even if the party that hit you does not have sufficient coverage.

If you do not carry the Uninsured/Underinsured coverage on your policy, it is a good idea to call and get it added as soon as you can, since a significant portion of the population drives uninsured or underinsured.

If You Have to File a Lawsuit

Remember that if an accident happens in the jurisdiction of California, should you have to file a lawsuit, it would need to be filed in California and need to go by that state’s personal injury laws.

To do this, you need to make sure that you have a lawyer who is licensed in the state of California. There are two ways you can make sure you have the right lawyer. You can either find a lawyer in California who would be willing to handle your case and deal with it remotely, or you can find a lawyer in either state who is licensed in both Nevada and California. It’s easier by far to find lawyers who are licensed in both states when the states are right right next to each other. If you are in an accident several states away, it is unlikely that you will be able to have such a luxury. It is possible to find a California attorney who is willing to help you remotely, but you may find it easier and less stressful to find a lawyer in your state as well as the state where the accident took place.

If you have further questions about car accidents or personal injury lawsuits pertaining to California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.