Quincy Legal Issues Blog

Changes are coming to when medical debt appears on credit reports

While the old adage goes, "Always expect the unexpected," in reality there are many things people in Massachusetts can't always see coming down the road. For example, a person could be seriously injured in a sudden car accident. Or, perhaps a person goes to their doctor for a routine check-up, only to find they have cancer. In other cases, a person may have a chronic illness, but suddenly be laid off from work, meaning they no longer have insurance to cover their medical costs. In fact, around 50 percent of all unpaid debt that shows up on credit reports involves medical bills.

However, beginning in September, the three main credit bureaus will institute a waiting period of six months before a person's unpaid medical bills can show up on their credit report. This change will provide people with the time needed to resolve any insurance problems or other issues that may cause a delay in their ability to pay a medical bill. Moreover, once a person's insurance has paid the medical debt owed, this debt will be taken off one's credit report.

Is your power of attorney legally enforceable?

Many people in Massachusetts may have taken the wise step of estate planning years or even decades ago, and, as part of their estate plan created a medical power of attorney and financial power of attorney. However, that does not mean that those documents should be left to collect dust. They need to be reviewed periodically, to make sure they are still in line with any changes in law that may have occurred.

For example, the Uniform Health Care Decisions Act (UHCDA) received approval in 1993, and as time went on, more and more states adopted some version of it. This act addresses a person's power to permit organ donation, and a person's ability to admit a person to a health care facility. If one's medical power of attorney was drafted prior to the state's adoption of the UHCDA, it is time for a review.

Statistics about distracted driving are alarming

We all know that kids these days seem to have their smartphone or tablet attached to their hands. No matter where we go, we see them firmly focused on them, often not paying attention to where they are walking or even people who are trying to talk to them. While we have seen an occasional viral video of someone tripping while messing with their smartphone, it seldom ever leads to anything more serious than embarrassment and a bruised ego. But when the driver of a car is focused on their smartphone, things could get serious.

The United States Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released statistics showing an alarming trend running amok throughout the United States, including Quincy, Massachusetts and the surrounding area - distracted driving. And the statistics are troubling. In 2015, there were 3,477 deaths on the roads as a result of distracted driving. While smartphones are to blame for many of these accidents, there are other ways a driver could become distracted.

With the Fourth of July holiday comes increased DUI enforcement

At this exact moment, countless people across Massachusetts have one eye on the clock, eagerly counting down the hours until their shift ends and they are free to enjoy the weekend, which will be a long one for many of them owing to the Fourth of July holiday.

While many people have travel plans that will take them out of state to visit family and friends, many others will be sticking closer to home, enjoying backyard barbeques, neighborhood gatherings, parades and, of course, firework celebrations. 

Are there risks to debt relief companies in lieu of bankruptcy?

For residents of Quincy and throughout Massachusetts who are facing financial challenges, the prevalence of advertisements promising help with clearing debt without filing for bankruptcy might be an alluring temptation. For many, there is an ingrained fear of the word "bankruptcy" that leads them to try alternatives. However, there are often underlying circumstances with debt settlement companies that people are unaware of. These can ruin the attempt to eliminate debt and make the person's problems worse.

In general, a debt settlement company is for-profit. The company asserts that it will negotiate the credit card debt with the companies, settle it for less than is owed, and allow the debtor to move on. It is a lump sum. This money is usually set aside in an account and then transferred into an escrow-type account until enough is saved to pay the settlement.

When do you have a personal injury case?

With lawsuits on the rise, you may wonder when you should call a lawyer and when you should let things be after becoming injured. The answer depends on how you received the injury and how severe it is.

You may believe it is not worth the trouble of seeking damages, but the financial consequences of a personal injury are serious and long-lasting. It is best to pursue compensation, and the process need not be contentious or stressful when you have the right attorney.

Car accident involving pedestrian leads to fatality

Drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians all must share the road in Quincy and throughout Massachusetts to ensure that everyone remains safe. Obeying the traffic laws and being visible and vigilant is a sound way to avoid car accidents. However, accidents can sometimes happen regardless. When there is a crash between a person in a vehicle and someone who is not, there can be terrible results with major injuries and death. Knowing what to do in the aftermath is vital.

A male pedestrian was hit by a car and killed in Quincy. The accident occurred at approximately 10:12 p.m. as the 45-year-old man was hit. He was rushed to the hospital where he later died. The accident investigation closed two lanes of the road for several hours. The 31-year-old male driver of a 2005 Saab 9-3 stayed at the scene. As the investigation commences, it will be determined whether charges will be filed in this crash. This is the second recorded pedestrian accident in Quincy in 2017. There were five such fatal car-pedestrian accidents in 2016.

Am I eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Massachusetts residents who are experiencing financial problems will frequently be confused as to how to rectify them and what options are available to do so. It can be overwhelming to be in significant debt. Often, people do not know how to get the fresh start they so desire. One alternative under the bankruptcy code is Chapter 13. Chapter 13 is known as a "wage-earner's plan." The eligibility requirements for Chapter 13 must be understood before pursuing it as an option.

A person can file for Chapter 13 if the unsecured debts fall below $394,725 and the secured debts are below $1,184,200. This is a possibility even for a person who is self-employed or operates an unincorporated business. These amounts are altered intermittently based on the consumer price index. The debtor cannot file for Chapter 13 or any other chapter in the bankruptcy code if a bankruptcy petition had been dismissed within the previous 180 days due to the debtor willfully failing to appear before the court or adhere to orders, or if it was voluntarily dismissed after creditors sought to get relief to recover property upon which they have liens.

Can I keep my divorce out of the public record?

We live in an information age. It is easier than ever to get hold of records on people. All you have to do is conduct an online search and volumes of data can be revealed. Laws protecting privacy vary state by state. In Massachusetts, the presumption is that every government record is public. As such, when a couple divorces, the default is that the public can access those records.

It is possible to seek exemptions, however the criteria for granting them is tightly controlled. Experienced attorneys will know what divorce-related exemptions might be possible. Once identified, that experience can be leveraged to craft and present arguments to persuade a court to grant the request.

When invoking the right to silence, be clear about it

Few things are as scary as the first time you are arrested by the police. The average Massachusetts resident has never dealt with this situation. When it does happen, it's often unexpected - maybe stemming from a police stop for some suspected traffic violation. That only serves to disorient you more.

Police have a legal obligation to inform you of your Miranda rights when they take you into custody. If you've ever watched a cop show on television, you know the line. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. You have a right to an attorney before any questioning. If you can't afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you." You can waive your rights. Indeed, if you aren't careful, you could find them waived without you knowing.

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