>> Tiffany: Hello and welcome to “Lawcall”. We have the answers to your legal questions. Here is what is coming up this evening: In our caller segment, we’re going to be talking about bankruptcy. The laws changed few years ago. What is different? Which bankruptcy will best help you? Does the law treat businesses and individuals differently? Give us a call at 205-741-7474, if you have questions.
>>> Plus – benefit of the doubt. It’s something many motorcycle riders seldom get when involved in an accident. We will explain why that may be. And, if you have been involved in a collision with a driver who was intoxicated, he or she may not be the only one that fault. We will talk about personal injury law. First, Kirby Farris is here from the law firm of Farris, Riley & Pitt, and he will answer your questions tonight. We have a question from Mary Fran, who says: “My daughter slipped on the stairs while moving into the dorm and slipped on her leg. The lobby was wet from rain, but she fell on the stairwell. Any chance that the university would pay for her MRI bill?” What do you think about that, Kirby?
>> There’s a lot of moving parts. Let’s talking about that. Let’s talk about slip-and-fall cases. As with all claims, personal injury claims you first have to have an act of negligence by the person you’re making a claim against. With a slip-and-fall like Mary is describing, you also have to have something called “notice.” The property owner has to know that there’s a defective condition or has to have reason to know that there’s a defective condition. Then you run into another problem which could be immunity. It could be a state-funded college. There are different types of immunity. If it’s a private college, you probably wouldn’t run into those problems. Or if what caused your daughter to fall was the fault of a contractor, say, a cleaning service, you might be able to write a claim against them. But overall, you have pretty complicated case. Mary probably needs to see a lawyer about that.
>> If you’re watching and need more information, go to deliveringjustice.com or WBRC and click an the “Lawcall” link. Ken explains how an “accident diary” can help you stay on top of your claim.
>> It seems like accidents involving a motorcycle is painted as the biker’s fault. Is the system biased against bikers in motorcycle accidents and tend to have serious injuries. But the motorcyclists have a bad PR problem. The public says they’re dangerous drivers. An attorney may try to suggest that you share in liability by causing the accident by simply riding a motorcycle. Here is your side-bar advice: The best thing you can do to counter the negative representation is to respect other drivers. Demonstrate an excellent driving record and give other evidence that you’re law-abiding and accountable, and it could help dispute your claim. If you have a question, send to it LawcallTV.com. I’m Kirby Farris at Farris, Riley & Pitt in Birmingham.
>> Hello and welcome to “Lawcall.” We’re glad that you’re staying up with us and hopefully going to call us. We’re focusing on bankruptcy. And we know that there’s the that’s not an easy subject for anybody dealing with a situation where they may need to turn into looking at filing for bankruptcy, and we want to explain what your options are, what you might want to consider. So if you have questions give us a call. Again, we have Kirby Farris with the law firm of Farris, Riley & Pitt. He is here to help answer your questions. Another teacher we brought on will help as well.
>> Kirby Farris: Our firm does personal injury work, and when we have this, we need an expert with us. Jared Arnold came to be with us.
>> Tiffany: Tell us about yourself, your practice, and that sort of thing.
>> Jared Arnold: My office is located in St. Clair County. We are primarily a bankruptcy — consumer bankruptcies. We handle Chapter 7 and 13 cases for consumers, which is debtors, individuals. We primarily focus in that area. We do a little bit of criminal work and state work as well, but we primarily focus on bankruptcy and helping individuals with their debts.
>> OK. Jared, we have folks already lined up to talk to you, so let’s hear from John in Anniston. That’s just right up the road from Pell City. Hey, John?
>> Caller: Thank you for taking my call.
>> Sure, John.
>> Caller: I have a question about bankruptcy. When one files for a bankruptcy, of course your credit score drops. And I have done research and found out that most, if not all, insurance companies increase your premiums not because of your driving record, but because of your bankruptcy. And I wondered, is there any recourse legally that an individual or maybe a class action to be taken because of that?
>> Okay. What do you think?
>> Well, that’s kind of an insurance type question. I have never heard of insurance companies increasing someone’s premium just for the fact of filing bankruptcy. That might be a question to pass on to an insurance attorney, but I have never had a debtor complain to me about that. But I’m not saying it’s not a possibility. But it’s definitely something that you might want to check with an insurance attorney on that.
>> Fair enough. Let’s hear from Lee in Pelham today. And Cheryl?
>> Cheryl, we will talk to you.
>> Hey. My question is: If you’re paying a hospital and they’re accepting your payment and they turn you over to a collection agency, you’re on disability, can they garnish your wages or do you need to go and ahead and file bankruptcy?
>> Did you understand that question?
>> She said if you’re in a hospital and the hospital has a lien against you —
>> Yeah. That is an excellent question. I believe she mentioned being on disability. You cannot garnish disability Social Security, things of that notice. However, they can call you, right, your letter and client service and intent attempt to file the debt. If you file bankruptcy, all collections will cease at that point, and then what is called the automatic stay will kick in. And when the automatic stay kicks in, once the bankruptcy is filed, your creditors cannot contact you about your debt. So definitely something to check into.
>> My understanding is that we have Lee on the phone. Hello there.
>> Caller: Hi.
>> Hi, Lee.
>> Caller: Yes. Back several years ago, we had to file bankruptcy. We were behind on our mortgage. During bankruptcy, we made monthly payments, and we also caught up the back — you know what was back-owed through Bankruptcy Court. The last year of our bankruptcy, our mortgage was sold to another company. They now say we still owe that backpay, and each time our lawyer has written them a letter asking them to show where they posted the money through Bankruptcy Court, we only get what we have done. What can I do for that?
>> Well, I can speak for this. The Chapter 13 trustees in our district do a great job of recordkeeping. That was paid to her. When you file a Chapter 13, what you’re doing is you’re structuring a budget to pay one of your debts back. And everything that you pay, they keep a great record of that. So I would try to get in touch with your bankruptcy lawyer and have them get in touch with the Chapter 13 lawyer and see if they can get to the bottom of it.
>> We will take a break. Bankruptcy is our topic. If you’re having financial troubles and need information, call us tonight. We will be right back. [ Break ]
>> When drunk driver injures someone in the accident, the bar where he or she bought the drinks may be liable as well. Bob Prince has more in tonight’s “Legal Brief.”
>> Bob Prince: Alabama and many other states have laws that hold alcohol servers and bars responsible for the harm that intoxicated patrons cause if they have an alcohol-related accident. These laws hold the establishments responsible for the dangerous actions of an intoxicated person when they are illegally sold alcohol to that person. In addition to bars and liquor stores, these establishments can include things like restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and even social clubs, as long as they’re selling alcohol. For example, if you were hit by a drunk driver who bought drinks at a local restaurant while visibly intoxicated or the driver was being served even though they were under age, you may be able to file a claim against that restaurant. That’s your “legal brief.” I’m Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince. Back to you.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We’re discussing bankruptcies, so if you’re having financial woes and if you need information an how to file for bankruptcy, it will affect you, give us a call and we would be happy to talk to you and maybe provide insight for you. Of the number is on your screen. We have a Brenda calling from Jasper. Hello, Brenda.
>> Caller: Hello.
>> Hi, Brenda. Let us have it, Brenda. What is going on.
>> Caller: I filed bankruptcy, and I was supposed to be able to make it in payments until I got paid, and they said they couldn’t file it until it was paid. I said okay. And I’m paying like $400 a month, and I had to miss the month of December. And they said it was okay that I missed that month. Well, when the month of January was to be paid, it was paid, $400. Well, they bumped me up to 1785 and instead of the several hundred, I was supposed to be paying out together, now, up to 1785 — Is that right or can they do that?
>> I don’t understand.
>> I think I see what Brenda is saying. I think what Brenda is getting at here is Chapter 7 attorney’s fees, and we get this a lot at the office. Your attorney cannot file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy until the fees are paid in full. The reason is because if the attorney takes money post-petition, after the bankruptcy petition is filed, you know, it can cause conflicts, because he is there to represent the debtor and the debtor’s interest, so I think that is what he was asking about. But, yes, your attorney’s fees will have to be paid in full. But most attorneys will allow you to make payments if you need to. But the case can’t be filed until the attorney’s fee is paid.
>> And I guess a lawyer would give her an accounting of what he had —
>> If you give your attorney a call on that, he would be more than happy to sign with you.
>> Do you sign an agreement when you met with the bankruptcy lawyer that outlines that?
>> Absolutely. The code requires your attorney fees and bankruptcies, so that you have to have a written agreements with how it goes.
>> The attorney should have a copy of that, yes, sir.
>> Tiffany: DeVita is up next. Hi, DeVita.
>> Caller: Hi.
>> Hi, DeVita.
>> Go ahead. Go ahead.
>> Caller: My question is, I have property now in my name and my ex-husband’s name. He has filed bankruptcy, and I want to know — I want my name off the mortgage. And I no longer live there, and I no longer am financially tied to the court, and I petitioned a bankruptcy court to get my name removed. What can I do to get my name off the property?
>> It’s so interesting that she called. We had this situation come up in our office not long ago. She gave to deal with the mortgage company directly on this. The bankruptcy judges will tell everyone we’re not going to re-litigate the divorce in Bankruptcy Court. That would be an issue to call the mortgage company, whoever the mortgage company is. I would advice you to give them a call and see if you can find out something with them.
>> They can fill her in on that.
>> Okay. All right.
>> Janice is calling us tonight in Vestavia. Hey, Janice.
>> Caller: Hi.
>> Caller: Hi, I need to know will I need to file bankruptcy for me and the — it was combined leap, and the tenant — the landlord is basically wanting to, like, sue me and another tenant that was in there. And I was — I need to know do I need to file bankruptcy? Because I have never been into bankruptcy before.
>> What do people look at when they’re making that decision?
>> Well, there are numerous issues to look at, of course. What I look at is — if you get to the point to where you have more going out than you do coming in money-wise, financial-wise. So many times people get into this is pattern that you pay to take out this loan and this loan, and we see this all the I’m in our office, and it’s a never-ending cycle. And sometimes people working hard at their jobs and they’re following all they can, but sometimes they get in over their head and, it’s best to go ahead and get a fresh start. And bankruptcy can do that for you. That’s why it is there. And that’s why we have — you know we can’t have a capitalistic society without a bankruptcy system because no one would ever to a chance or anything.
>> For someone like DeVita with an isolated situation, where she was describe it one day with the landlord, that may not be enough —
>> It may not. Yes, you’re right. But I want to advice you to give someone a call and go in and discuss it with just them them do a consultation with you.
>> When we come back, more of your phone calls on bankruptcy. Stay with us.
>> Here is our upcoming docket for what is coming up for the next three weeks. January 24: Can the police do that? January 31: Injuries. And then February 2 is, car and truck accidents. So we hope that you will join us and call in your questions for those topics coming up that we have. If you would like to get in talk with Gerald — if you need to talk to Bob Prince, he is in Tuscaloosa.
>> Call 1-800-536-1165 or Princelaw.net. And Kiry Farris has been here representing his lawfirm, and they’re here. Give us an update on what you’re doing. We know that you do personal injury.
>> We do. We have been really, really busy over the last few months wrapping up the end of the year, and we’re wrapping up all sorts of cases involving accidents. And we just finished a couple of cases involving trucking accidents at the end of the year that were pretty serious cases. We actually got an aviation case, an air case, that will be in the next few months.
>> Someone has an opinion injured from a car or truck accident, they need to call your office and get pointed in the right direction. I can say you have said, even being involved in car versus a truck, they are different than normal automobiles.
>> They’re so different. A body of law applies to trucking cases that doesn’t apply to automobile accidents. To be involved in a trucking accident, you need a lawyer that is experienced in that part of the law. It’s important.
>> Take into consideration if you need to contact the attorneys that you’ve seen, that’s why they’re here, to help you or guide you in the right direction. More calls about bankruptcy and financial matters, and we have got Brenda in Talladega. Hi, Brenda?
>> Hello. Thank you for taking my call. I have a question regarding a modular home which was financed. We own the land but did not include the land when when we financed the modular home. And we’re up against financial difficulties right now. Can we file bankruptcy or is it considered like a car and they would just repossess it?
>> Well, that’s an excellent question. I believe the question was can she keep here mobile home if she files? And the answer is, it depends on how much equity she has in the home. Most of the time, you can do a reaffirmation — and reaffirm that and keep the home. And it all goes back to what chooses she chooses to file under.
>> I would think they can remove the property. That could definitely benefit. But she needs to be careful. If it’s surrendered anyway could face a deficiency balance on that as well.
>> send them to me, the average person, that it would be complicated to navigate those waters alone. Is it really important that you get legal representation because there are so many things that you need to know about and consider.
>> Bankruptcy is a very complicated area of the law and would get advice from someone — you can file your own petition if you wish. I would advise against that. See a bankruptcy attorney and see they can help you out.
>> Angela in Tuscaloosa. Let’s see if we hear from her. Hi, Angela?
>> Hey, Angela.
>> All right. Let us have it, Angela.
>> I was — I have a question about how do I get my — I have been paying bankruptcy, and I’m through paying. I got through paying the office last year, and I want to know how do I get my title?
>> How does she get her title?
>> Has the bankruptcy paid out?
>> Yes. The bankruptcy has paid out.
>> The bankruptcy has paid out. I would make sure that your attorney knows. Give him a call and he can help you get back, get that title back. It’s not difficult at all.
>> So, for instance, if you paid off an automobile and your attorney can help you get the title for that —
>> Absolutely. Call whoever is representing you in that proceeding.
>> Okay. Ralph in Vestavia, how are you?
>> Hey, Ralph.
>> I’m calling back to see if I could file bankruptcy without a lawyer. I have talked to several lawyers and, you know, they kept telling me that, you know, you have to have a lawyer to file bankruptcy you.
>> That’s what we were — you were probably on hold and didn’t get to hear that part of the call. But I asked Jared about that’s and mostly definitely you can.
>> You can represent yourself in a bankruptcy proceedding as you choose, but I would rather let an attorney handle it for you. The process is so different, and an attorney could help you out.
>> We have just a few minutes in the show. Anything else that you would share, maybe a common question that you get day in and out that people need to be aware of?
>> Well, one of the most pressing issues that we seem to run into are — I would just advise everyone to be careful and not enlist with payday lenders. There’s a lot of that going on in the state with the legislature and things, and if you need — if you have payday loans and need help, call an attorney and see if they can help you.
>> Always great to see you. Have a great week, everybody. See you next weekend when we discuss “Can the Police do that?” Join us with your calls and questions.