Articles Posted in Civil Law

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Suppose you find yourself in an automobile accident that was not your fault, or you take a nasty fall in a grocery store because someone spilled a soda and the employees neglected to clean it up.

In both situations, you have suffered injuries because of the negligence of another person.

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If you have been involved in an accident which was the result of another person’s negligence, you may be getting phone calls or written requests from physicians, law enforcement, and, of course, insurance companies.

You may be feeling both frustrated and overwhelmed, and you may not know what steps you should take to ensure the best outcome.

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When someone is wrongfully charged and prosecuted for a crime, what are the consequences? We’re fortunate to live in a nation that provides extensive protection for our personal liberties. Where malicious prosecution is concerned, there are two particulars that you should know about:

  • The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects you and your property from unreasonable seizure, meaning without a warrant. It also states that a warrant will not be issued without probable cause.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that you have a right to your life, your liberty, and your property, and none of those things can be taken from you without due process.

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Chapter 7 – NO, it cannot be discharged (wiped out).
Chapter 13 – YES, it can be discharged.

Willful and Malicious Injury to PERSON:
Chapter 7 – NO, it cannot be discharged.
Chapter 13 – YES, it can be discharged as long as the Chapter 13 was filed before the state court action has gone to judgment.

**Image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net**

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In most cases, creditors must take you to court and get a court order called a judgment before they can garnish your wages and bank account. State tax, IRS, Federal Student Loans and some other government agencies can garnish without a court order. Paycheck garnishment is limited to 25% of your wage but the full amount can be taken from your bank account. Social Security and other government benefits are fully protected IF that is the only money deposited into the bank account.

Employers must hold a garnishment for 30 days before they deduct any money from your paycheck. The problem is that many employers will not tell the employee that they have received a garnishment order (writ of garnishment). They should tell you, but they are not required to tell you, only to hold off for 30 days.

There are only 2 ways to stop a garnishment in Mississippi. You either attack the lawsuit or you file bankruptcy. For what you would spend attacking the lawsuit, you could more than likely spend (even possibly less) to file bankruptcy and take care of ALL your debt issues.

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Statutes of limitations is a statute prescribing a period of limitation for the bringing of certain kinds of legal action. When you are dealing with your Credit Report, it is good to understand and know the statutes of limitations surrounding debt collection. Creditors can use these rules to collect the debt you owe by filing a lawsuit within the statutes of limitations. If their lawsuit is successful, whether by trial or by default, they will receive a judgment. A judgement is a decision by the court that determines what a person is ordered to pay the creditor regarding the debt that was brought before the court. If the creditor receives a judgment, they have the legal right to go after your assets (bank account, property, etc) and even garnish your wages.
Most of the statutes of limitations are around 3 to 6 years but vary state to state. In Mississippi, creditor has 3 years to sue on an oral or written contract, a promissory note, or an open-ended account. If the debt is paid there is no need to worry about these statutes and other possibly applicable statutes. But, if you have not paid a debt that is appearing on your credit report, its important to know if the time for the statute of limitations has passed or if you are still vulnerable to a lawsuit. It may be good to wait until the time has passed to begin to question the creditor. Paying an old debt that you may or may not truly owe is up to you; however, paying it will not stop it from showing on your credit score as a negative mark. There are different statutes of limitations that govern how long information can be reported on your credit report. Making a payment may start the timeline over again for the amount of time it will remain on your credit report, and/or may start the timeline over again regarding the statutes of limitations. A better option may be to dispute the debt with the creditor if you do not believe you owe this debt or that the balance has been paid but is not showing as such, etc.
There are too many laws and subsequent plans of action to discuss them all in a few paragraphs. The rules establishing when the time frame begins on the 3 year statutes of limitations, filing and response to lawsuits, reporting credit information, disputing credit reports, etc; so it’s important for you to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney. That doesn’t mean that bankruptcy is the answer or that you are seeking to file bankruptcy. An experienced bankruptcy attorney is versed in the laws that govern debt – both what creditors can do and more importantly, the rights of you, the debtor and what you can do!

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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A parachute is defined as “a device for slowing the descent of a person or object through the air that consists of a fabric canopy beneath which the person or object is suspended.” If you add the word “golden” in front of “parachute” the definition changes to “a generous severance agreement for a corporate executive in the event of a sudden dismissal (as because of a merger).” A recent GMI Ratings Report listed 21 recent golden parachutes for various CEO’s. I found the payments ludicrous in light of the economic crunch this country is currently experiencing. Here is a list with the years the person acted as CEO:

General Electric John F. Welch Jr. 1981-2001 $417,361,902
Exxon Mobil Corp. Lee R. Raymond 1993-2005 $320,599,861

UnitedHealth Group William D. McGuire 1991-2006 $285,996,009

Children as young as 13 will be allowed to be a member of Google+, a social networking service similar to Facebook, according to executives at Google. After 6 months of “testing” their privacy settings, Google made the decision to allow teenagers to become members.

Talking heads appeared immediately on every news outlet to debate the issue of whether children should have access to social media. At first glance, the obvious questions are raised:
“Why does a 13 year-old need their own webpage to interact with their friends?”
“Doesn’t this make children and their privacy vulnerable?”
And the most popular question thus far: “Why expose children to the internet to make them targets for online predators?”

While I have always been a fan of actually talking to my friends and family when I want to talk to them rather than using a website to pretend to know what is going on with their lives, I understand the need for social media. People want information, and they want it fast…no matter if that information is news, sports, celebrity gossip, or even information about their friends and family. Facebook and Google+ provide the effortless access to information we all crave. Egos need to be fed, and when there’s an entire website devoted to an individual – which is exactly why Facebook and social media have become so popular – it becomes increasingly difficult to not get drawn into the positive aspects of Facebook and Google+.

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Now that the Republicans have gained control of the Mississippi House or Representatives, they are seeking more tort reform. They are doing this even though the doctors’ own insurance company say they no longer need any more! Yes, you read that correctly. The CEO of the doctors’ insurance company, Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi (“MACM”) was quoted in a Clarion Ledger article as follows: “It would be hard for me to argue more tort reform is needed,” Mike Houpt said. “We’re content with what we have.” Yet the Republicans want to lower the caps on damages AND institute a “loser pays” system which would make the loser of a lawsuit pay the other side’s cost. Whose agenda are the Republicans pushing?

The “loser pays” idea is simple. Over the course of a lawsuit, each side spends money on such things as depositions, expert witnesses, copying, etc. Costs can easily reach $10,000 in the most “simple” car wreck cases. “Loser pays” would require the “loser” of a lawsuit to pay the other winner’s costs as well as their own. So who is this designed to hurt? To a huge company like State Farm, $10,000 is nothing. To the average Mississippian, $10,000 is more than most folks have in savings. There is not way the could afford to pay this which means they would not file a lawsuit for fear of having to pay this kind of money.

Now, keep in mind that the doctors are “content” with what they have. This is the same group who claimed they were being forced out of Mississippi just 10 years ago. Now things are going so well that the doctors are receiving refunds on their insurance premiums and their insurance company is making a huge profit. I wonder if the quality of health care in Mississippi is going up as well? Are the number of deaths and serious injuries due to medical negligence going down? Oh well, who really cares about that. As long as the doctors are making money and forcing us to wait an hour to see them on every visit then things are fine. But, I digress.