Most people in Ohio are feeling the pinch of the economic crisis less than most states, but personal bankruptcies are still being filed more than the national average. Since a large portion of the average person’s debt is due to student loans, which is typically not covered in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, this is rather perplexing.
Debt Situation in Ohio
Ohioans are about average when it comes to their debt burden compared to other states, and the average credit score per person is a respectable 650. Ohio debt relief is still needed, however, mostly due to student loans and credit card debt.
The average Ohioan is $35,200 in debt, lower than the national average of $47,500, but still, that’s no small change. This includes mortgage and non-mortgage debt. Credit card debt is typically 17% of a household’s annual income, while student loans amount to an average of $27,713 per graduate.
Overall, Ohio residents have relatively stable financial health. For those who find their debts to be overwhelming, however, Ohio debt relief comes in the form of personal bankruptcies.
What are Personal Bankruptcies?
There are two types of bankruptcies that an individual can file. The first is Chapter 7, which is also referred to as liquidation because it involves the selling of non-exempt assets and property to pay off a portion of outstanding debt. To qualify for Chapter 7, the filer must have an income below the median wage in the state, or pass a means test which will indicate the inability of the debtor to pay off debts. Usually, a large portion of the debt is forgiven and the debtor can start fresh.
The second type is Chapter 13, which is also referred to as resettlement, because it is a court-mandated scheduling of debt payments based on the ability and capacity of a debtor to pay. No debt is forgiven, although there is a cap for the amount of annual interest a creditor may legally impose on outstanding amounts.
Bankruptcy as Ohio Debt Relief
In 2005, for every 66 Ohio residents in debt, one filed for personal bankruptcy. This is twice is high than the national average for the same year. The incidence rate has since dropped considerably, but it is still an option that many Ohioans have no problem considering. For student loans to be forgiven in a bankruptcy, however, very specific conditions have to be met. Bankruptcy lawyers would be able to advise a filer about this, as well how to best handle a bankruptcy so that the cost is not too excessive.
You may be going “huh?” but when your truck accident lawyer considers this or the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, it refers to a type of liability where the owner of a tool may be held accountable for any damage or injuries it may cause.
If you are going “huh?” again, you should consider that a truck, because of its sheer size and weight, poses a greater danger to other vehicles and people the road than does your ordinary vehicle, and should therefore be operated by a qualified and responsible person. The truck driver, by virtue of the vehicle being controlled, may be considered a tool with a potential for great damage. The “owner” (employer) of that tool is therefore liable for any injury or damage that may result under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine.
Respondeat superior is phrased somewhat differently but may be interpreted to essentially mean the same thing. The liability for a truck accident may be laid at the door of the principal (owner) if it is due to driver negligence while in the execution of regular duties or otherwise functioning as an employee. The employer is liable under the theory that little or no care was given to the hiring of the truck driver, who provide not fit to be in control of a truck, or negligent hiring. There are other ways that an employer may be considered liable for a truck accident, including illegal extension of a truck driver’s work hours or inadequate maintenance of a truck, depending on the circumstances.
Claims against the employer when a commercial truck accident may be considered when the truck driver is incapable of compensating an injured party be he or she ever so willing. An experienced truck accident lawyer would be able to gauge what and how to file a claim against an employer to recover damages resulting from injuries.
A maritime lawyer that specializes in the Jones Act can ensure that the proper compensation is awarded to seamen who suffer injuries in the performance of their duties. They are especially important when negligence is an issue, where non-economic damages (pain and suffering) can be awarded, because a Jones Act maritime lawyer will know when the damages awarded are commensurate to the extent of the injury and degree of culpability of the employer. However, there are instances when proving the employer’s negligence is not enough to secure the whole of what the plaintiff believes he deserves.
Even when a claim for personal injury is successful under the Jones Act, the court can decide that some of the responsibility lies with the plaintiff. This can have a significant effect on the awarding of damages, as in the case of Simeonoff v. M/V Saga (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2001).
The plaintiff was able to prove to the district court that his injuries were a direct result of negligence and unseaworthiness on board that M/V Saga at the time of the accident. However, the court also considered his years of experience in operating the equipment (launcher) that caused his injuries. The court concluded that he was partially responsible for the accident for failing to use his experience and knowledge to prevent it, that he should have known better in fact, and pegged his culpability at 30%. As a result, the damages awarded to him were reduced by that much.
The plaintiff appealed the decision, and it was a good thing that he did. Under the Jones Act, a seaman cannot be held partially responsible for any mishap that occurs onboard in the performance of his duties where negligence of the employer is clearly proven. The appeals court therefore affirmed the damages awarded by the district court, but denied the reduction of 30%, which represented the plaintiff’s “share” of the blame. Clearly, the maritime lawyer or lawyers in this case knew what could and could not be allowed under the Jones Act, and this benefited the plaintiff greatly.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, is primarily a statute of the US federal government to ensure that inland transport of cargo and people are carried out by American vessels manned by Americans. However, the Jones Act also provides for the protection of the civil rights of seamen from work-related injury and death, and is often cited in personal injury cases usually handled by a maritime lawyer conversant with the intricacies of maritime law.
Maritime work is inherently dangerous, which is why the Jones Act parallels the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) protecting railroad workers in many respects. However, the provisions of the Jones Act with respect to personal injury claims need to be navigated carefully for a successful claim, because interpretations of negligence and liability can be tricky depending on the circumstances of the case.
Take for example the claim in Perkins v. American Electric Power (Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2001) where a second mate sustained serious injury because of a defective ratchet supplied by AEP. The contention was that AEP was negligent in that it failed to ensure the safety of its crew by providing adequate tools and training to carry out their tasks without fear of injury. The plaintiff, James W. Perkins, lost the case in district court, but was granted a partial reversal on appeal.
The case illustrates that while the ratchet was clearly defective, the plaintiff failed to provide evidence that AEP knew about the defect and allowed its use anyway. Moreover, the work history of the plaintiff negated the allegation that he needed additional training to do the task that resulted in his injury. The saving grace was that AEP was found negligent under the doctrine of seaworthiness inherent under the Jones Act for not providing safety ropes or handrails that may have prevented the accident.
It is not enough to think you have a clear case of negligence to prove a personal injury claim under the Jones Act because proving negligence requires a myriad of conditions to be met. Expert knowledge and experience of a maritime lawyer is needed in handling the case to have a reasonable hope of success.
The loss of a loved one can be difficult to deal with, especially when you know the cause of death is due to another person’s negligence or recklessness. Although nothing can ever fully compensate for the damages caused by this type of loss, filing a wrongful death claim can help those struggling to deal with this type of tragedy to relieve the financial burden they may have received.
When filing for wrongful death claims, personal injury lawyers advise clients to ask for compensation for funeral expenses, lost wages and medical bills. The bereaved family can also ask for punitive damages if they would like to penalize the responsible party for their wrongdoing. Compensatory damages can also be asked for the loss of companionship.
Personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits share some similarities, mainly because both occur as the result of willful or negligent actions on the part of others. However, wrongful death claims differ from personal injury claims in terms of the types of compensation that may be awarded and who is legally entitled to file the claim.
Compensation for wrongful death covers only things such as lost wages, medical treatments, and funeral expenses, as well as the pain and suffering the family may have experienced. Certain states also have some limitations on the amount of compensation the responsible party can give to the victims’ family. Knowing more about state laws regarding these things by asking personal injury lawyers can help you to better understand your legal rights and options in this tragic circumstance.
Filing a wrongful death claim can help in holding the responsible party accountable for their negligence or recklessness. This is especially important in those cases in which those who caused the death to occur face no other potential penalties for their irresponsible conduct.
The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), originally enacted in 1914, is designed to protect consumers and business from fraud via unfair trade practices. The Texas state statute specifically prohibits 25 acts which are considered fraudulent under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act. These include but are not limited to:
- Mislabeling a product or service as that of another
- Misleading the customers on the quality and certification of goods or services
- Misrepresenting the condition of the product
- Bad-mouthing competitors using false information
- Making unnecessary repairs or replacements
- Overcharging for repair of an item under warranty
- Tampering with the odometer of a vehicle
- False announcement of going out of business
- Paid chain referral sales plan
- Failure to disclose necessary information prior to a purchase
- Overpricing basic necessities in times of calamity
Also considered under unfair trade practices are those engaged in the following that have exhibited abusive behavior:
- Debt collection
Anyone who has been a victim of unfair or deceptive trade practices can have recourse to the state statutes which is distinctly favorable to consumers. Most states mandate the awarding of minimum damages to any claimant that can prove the defendant engages in unfair or deceptive trade practices, even if there is no proof of actual damage done to the plaintiff. If the defendant knew the practice was unfair or defective, then you can sue for punitive damages. Compensation may be approved for the following
- Refunds of purchase price, repair cost or rental fees
- Medical bills in case of defective products or services which resulted in injury
- Loss of income
- Attorney’s fees
- Pain and suffering
A plaintiff may also request for a cease and desist order for those businesses that engage in fraud from a civil court.
When you have overwhelming and burdensome financial issues, bankruptcy may become an extremely tempting option. In considering the many different options you have for paying back your debts, you may come to find that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the best option. This is generally a good choice for people looking to get their debts wiped out so that they can start anew. However, there are only certain debts that are considered dischargeable, while others are still required to be paid.
Excluding some non-dischargeable debts, a large number of your debts can be wiped out through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Getting these debts discharged means that it is no longer legally necessary for you to pay the creditors, and they are not allowed to collect anything from you anymore. Among the most common debts that are usually discharged are:
- Credit card debt
- Past due amounts for utility bills
- Business debts
- Social security overpayments
- Balances on repossession deficiency
- Dishonored checks
- Loans from family, friends and employers
- Debts from lease agreements
- Penalties from taxes (past a set number of years)
- Revolving charge accounts (not including the extended payment charges)
- Lawyers fees (not including alimony and child support awards)
There are just some of the possible debts that can be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but some of these can become non-dischargeable if the court determines that any of these debts are related to any fraud or misconduct. It is also important to note that aside from the debts that you acquired or built up before you filed for bankruptcy, the debts you have gained after filing your petition are still your responsibility. While filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may seem complicated and confusing at first, it may nevertheless be the best way out of your financial predicament.
The §341 meeting of creditors is part of the process of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, so called because it refers to Title 11 Section 341 of the USC. This is convened by the assigned trustee for the purpose of bringing together the debtor and creditors in case there are any questions regarding the proposed repayment plan filed under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Law and other issues. In general, creditors do not attend §341 meetings unless there are some issues regarding the legitimacy of the plan. Even then, creditors usually dispense with actually attending the meeting and simply lodge their objections with the trustee.
Prior to the scheduled meeting, the trustee will go over the documentation filed by the debtor in accordance with the requirements of the bankruptcy process. If everything is in order, a §341 meeting is scheduled between 21 and 50 days after the initial Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, and will only be presided over by the trustee, not the judge. It typically takes about 5 minutes.
The debtor is required to bring the following, without which the meeting cannot proceed and will have to be rescheduled:
- Social Security card
- Photo identification
The trustee will pose questions to the debtor, who may have a bankruptcy lawyer in attendance. These include but not limited to the following issues:
- Accuracy of financial statements
- Civil status and dependents
- Assets and liabilities
- Other payment plans
The trustee may decide to schedule a follow up meeting if more information is needed or if there is a need for the debtor to amend some documents. In cases where objections by the creditors cannot be resolved through negotiation, a judge will have to step in.
The §341 meeting is a mere formality in most cases due to the failure of creditors to attend them. However, since it is part of the filing process for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debtors and trustees are obliged to comply.
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common birth defects that affect newborn children in the United States. It is a permanent health condition where the muscle and body coordination is affected, causing problems in physical movements. Although there are also mild cases, severe and lifelong cases can affect the victim and their families.
The lack of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia) or the body (asphyxia), premature childbirth, or birth traumas are the leading causes of cerebral palsy. When medical malpractice is the cause of your child’s condition, it would be best to consult medical malpractice lawyers in order to get assistance in arranging compensation and making sure the hospital and its staff are well reprimanded for their errors.
For medical malpractice to be the trigger of your child’s cerebral palsy, medical professionals may have:
- Failed to recognize the prolapsed umbilical cord
- Neglected and insensibly mistook the use of instruments during childbirth
- Overlooked the treatment for the mother’s infections such as meningitis
- Failed to properly check the child’s heart rate before and during labor
- Delayed or failed in performing caesarian section procedures
Although cerebral palsy does not get worse as the child grows up, it can still pose a huge challenge in their everyday life. The symptoms of cerebral palsy can only be determined after a proper diagnosis and these symptoms can appear after some years. This serious and incapacitating condition not only affects the child as they grow up, they also affect the parents. And because it is a lifelong condition, it treatment can lead to financial burdens. Compensation from the medical errors made by the doctors and other staff responsible for the condition can help in maintaining the medical care of the child, as well as punishing the people responsible for the condition.