Why Do I Have to Take a Credit Counseling Course?

The courts require that you take a credit counseling course from an approved agency prior to your bankruptcy being filed. This is not a requirement from just our law firm, this is a requirement by the Court.

When the bankruptcy laws were changed in 2005, one of the changes included two course requirements. The first is that you take a credit counseling course prior to filing bankruptcy. You must take the course within 6 months prior to your bankruptcy filing. Another court requirement is that you take the course at least 24 hours prior to your bankruptcy being filed. The course is simple, and there are even approved agencies that allow you to watch a video online to complete the course.

The second change in the 2005 bankruptcy laws was the requirement of a financial management course. This is a different course than the credit counseling. Financial management must be taken prior to the discharge of your bankruptcy. You can also take this course online from an approved agency.

At your free initial consultation, we will explain both of these course requirements in more detail.

To find out more about how Duncan Law can help you, visit our website.

Duncan Law, PLLC

Charlotte Office:
4801 E. Independence Blvd.
Suite 1100
Charlotte, NC 28212
704-563-1224

Greensboro Office:
628 Green Valley Road
Suite 304
Greensboro, NC 27408
336-856-1234

Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

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Most nursing home neglect and abuse cases go unreported. If you have a suspicion that there is abuse and neglect, you are probably right. Common signs are the patient complaining of hurting, lack of care by the staff, taking a long time to answer the call button, allowing patients to lie for many hours without turning the patients, the staff refusing an authorized relative to view medical records, and a general don’t care attitude by the staff.

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?

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Nursing home abuse and neglect is a terrible act against our elderly loved ones. If a loved one has been injured by the abuse or neglect of a nursing home facility then they have three years to file a lawsuit against the facility. If the neglect or abuse has resulted in death then a lawsuit would need to be filed within two years to meet the Statute of Limitations.

Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

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Most nursing home neglect and abuse cases go unreported. If you have a suspicion that there is abuse and neglect, you are probably right. Common signs are the patient complaining of hurting, lack of care by the staff, taking a long time to answer the call button, allowing patients to lie for many hours without turning the patients, the staff refusing an authorized relative to view medical records, and a general don’t care attitude by the staff.

Timeline For a Nursing Home Abuse Case

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A nursing home abuse and neglect case is a type of medical malpractice case. These types of cases are known as a complex litigation case.  The usual timeline from the date of filing a lawsuit, also known as the complaint, to settlement or trial is usually anywhere from one to three years.

You are probably asking why so long? On television programs the case goes to court within one hour. Of course, this is television, not real life.

In a real case, the attorney must first meet with the family and investigate the nursing home case.  A nursing home will not allow an attorney to question their staff, before filing a lawsuit, to determine if there is a legitimate case. Therefore, the attorney must first examine the medical records.  It may take several weeks to obtain these medical records. The attorney then begins to piece together what happened at the nursing home.

Next, if the attorney believes there are grounds for a medical malpractice case, under North Carolina law, they must have these records reviewed by an expert doctor and/or nurse.  This will usually take at least 30 days for the expert to review the records.  As you can see, we are already at about two months of time elapsed and the lawsuit has not even been filed.

If the expert doctor and/or nurse believe the nursing home staff has violated the “standard of care”, the expert will render an opinion to the attorney.  At this time the attorney begins the legal process of developing a complaint or lawsuit.  Depending on the complexity of the case, the Complaint that has to be drafted for the lawsuit to be filed may take several weeks.

Eventually the attorney files the lawsuit at the courthouse.  The deputy sheriff must then serve the lawsuit on the nursing home.  Large corporate chains own most nursing homes making it difficult, at times, to determine the appropriate party to be served.  After being served, the nursing home retains defense counsel.  The defense counsel usually files an extension to “answer” the lawsuit.  This usually takes about another 60 days.

At this time the discovery process begins.  This is when expert witnesses, such as doctors and nurses, and the staff of the nursing home are questioned under oath at what is known as a deposition. Again, depending upon the complexity of the case this could take a year to complete.  By now we are up to least 18 months since the family first met with the attorney.

Eventually the court will schedule mediation.  Mediation is an attempt to settle the case before trial. This will usually take place several months after the discovery process ends.  At mediation, both the plaintiff and the defendant meet with a mediator to try to resolve the case without the time and expense of a trial.  Many times mediation is successful and the case is settled.  Sometimes mediation is unsuccessful and the case would then proceed to trial several months later.  A typical trial may last anywhere from one to four weeks.

As you can see, the wheels of justice roll slowly. We have an imperfect and often times slow justice system but there is no doubt it is the best in the world. Knowing the timeline of a typical nursing home abuse case is important when determining how you want to move forward to obtain the justice your loved one deserves.

What If I Get a New Job While I am in Bankruptcy?

Father and Son Playing OutsideMost who file a bankruptcy are doing so to get debt free and are looking at life as a second chance and a fresh start.  In many cases this is not just regarding a bankruptcy but a change in every aspect of life, which includes new employment.  So what happens if you change jobs while you are in a bankruptcy?

It is our due diligence to alert the court of any changes in your circumstances; so when you get that new job, we’ll have to tell the court about it and report your anticipated wages.  It will all depend on how much of a fluctuation in your pay that you have as to what happens next.  Let me give you a few circumstances:

You file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and report that you make $2,000 per month when you file the bankruptcy.  You switch jobs and now you make around $2,200 per month.  The bankruptcy Trustee will likely do nothing, since your income did not change all that much.  Now let’s say when you changed jobs, you started making $3,500 per month, this could be a problem.  The Trustee could look at it as if you have additional income to pay back your creditors and can convert your case to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Next scenario, you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, report that you make $2,000 per month and that income is used to calculate your plan payments. If you make only a slight amount higher than originally reported then it most likely will not be a big deal, but let’s say that you jump to a significantly higher income; that could be a problem.  The Trustee will likely increase your plan payments because at this time you have the additional income to show that you can make a higher payment.  But, let’s say that the pay decreases, can you pay a lower amount?  Sure you can, IF your plan will allow it.  This process is much more difficult, and you will definitely need to discuss whether that is an option for your case with your bankruptcy lawyer.

The bottom line is, as easy as it would be to keep your change of income to yourself, you need to contact your attorney and make the appropriate changes to your budget and discuss what your options are going forward for when you have to file that amended budget with the court.  Remember you sign off under penalty of perjury that you have given all of the correct information and you will disclose any changes needed.   Should you not, and the court find out, it could result in the dismissal of your bankruptcy case.

Why Would the Trustee Increase My Chapter 13 Payments?

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Your payments are usually increased when you have failed to make payments to the Trustee, and the mortgage company increases your house payments due to a change in your interest rate or escrow and/or you have additional claims filed in your bankruptcy. The Trustee may also increase your Plan payment if you fail to pay property insurance. Usually when the Trustee increases your Chapter 13 payments, it is because there is not enough being paid into the Plan to pay all of your secured debts on a monthly basis (house, car, furniture/appliances, etc.). Additional claims may be for taxes you have failed to pay to the city, county, state or Internal Revenue Service after filing your bankruptcy.

What is the General Timeline for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

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This is a general and approximate timeline. Each and every case will be different depending upon your individual situation. Some cases may take less time and others may take more time. To get a more definitive timeline, review the contract you sign with an attorney at Duncan Law at the time of your free initial bankruptcy consultation.

What is the General Timeline for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

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This is a general and approximate timeline. Each and every case will be different depending upon your individual situation. Some cases may take less time and others may take more time. To get a more definitive timeline, review the contract you sign with an attorney at Duncan Law at the time of your free initial bankruptcy consultation.

Should I Get a Credit Report Before I File Bankruptcy?

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Although, it’s important to keep statements that you receive in the mail regarding your debts, you should also consider obtaining a credit report.

For many people, it is difficult to remember original creditors, collections agencies, amounts owed, and so on from years past.  A credit report is a great way to visually see all of your debts listed out for you, especially if you did not keep statements.  Our recommendation would be to look at your statements first, then back it up with a credit report.  For many people, this will cover your bases in regards to who you owe, but remember this does not guarantee to be all of your creditors.  This is why it’s important to keep up with your statements and also view your free credit report yearly.  By doing this, it allows you to see whom you owe, if it’s accurate, and when and where the debt was incurred.

You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from www.AnnualCreditReport.com. It is one of the only legitimately free places to obtain a credit report. It will not, however, give you your actual credit score. Use this website, if you have not already done so in the past 12 months, to view your debts and names of your creditors.  We recommend checking this annually so you can be sure the creditors on your report are accurate.  When filing bankruptcy, it is essential that all of your creditors are listed, so be sure to use both statements and a credit report to back up what you already know regarding your debt.

It’s also a good idea to be sure you get your free credit report again a few months after you file bankruptcy. It will help you rebuild your credit after bankruptcy.