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How long do you have to be unable to work to get a favorable disability decision?

Posted on Thursday, November 11th, 2021 at 4:02 pm    

Are you thinking about filing disability, but you don’t know whether you would be considered disabled under the Social Security Administration? Here are some guidelines to clarify what Social Security means by disability.

Under the Social Security rules, someone is considered disabled if the all the following are true:

  • You cannot perform the same work that you did before because of your medical condition.
  • You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition.
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

Here are important things to clarify about those requirements.
How can work affect your disability case? If you are working, Social Security will likely determine that you are not disabled. But there is one exception to this rule: If you are working in 2021 and your average earnings is no more than $1,310 per month and you are not working full time, you can still be considered disabled. (Note that there are special rules for self-employed and blind persons).

What is required for your condition to be severe? For a medical condition to be considered severe, it must significantly limit your ability to do basic work-related activities, such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, or remembering – for at least 12 months. For injuries that have caused obvious permanent disability, Social Security will decide on your case right away. But if the progression of your condition is not clear, Social Security might wait a few months to see if your condition improves. Normally, if your condition does not improve within three months, Social Security will understand that the condition is severe and will last for at least one year.

When can you apply? There is no requirement that you must be off work for a year to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You can apply as soon as you stop being able to do a substantial amount of work. If Social Security does not believe your disability will last a full twelve months, it will send you a durational denial letter.

The process to apply for Social Security Disability might be complicated and confusing for someone that is not used to the process and steps that need to be taken. If you are interested in applying and still have questions about the process, call us! We will be more than happy to help you through the process.

How to Request an Accident Report

Posted on Sunday, October 24th, 2021 at 4:00 pm    

Obtaining a copy of the police report following a car accident is crucial. If someone else’s negligent actions resulted in your injuries, you need proof of what they have done. An accident report could show that their misconduct contributed to the crash.

However, you might not know where to turn for a copy of the report. You should hire an experienced attorney immediately following the accident to assist you with the process.

What Is an Accident Report?

An accident report outlines the information associated with a traffic-related crash. When an officer arrives at the scene to investigate, they typically write a report to submit to the police department.

The details in an accident report often include:

  • Date, time, and location of the incident
  • Names and contact information for any party involved
  • Factors contributing to the crash
  • Brief description of events leading up to the collision and a diagram to show what happened
  • Any traffic citations issued to the drivers involved
  • Property damage and injuries suffered
  • Fault determined by the officer

The investigating officer might include their determination of fault. However, this isn’t necessarily fact. It is just their opinion about which driver they believe is responsible for the accident.

If they stated you were to blame, but you believe the other motorist should be liable, you could fight the officer’s claim. However, insurance companies often consider police reports solid evidence to determine whether the injured victim deserves compensation.

Filing a Report After a Car Accident

Some states require filing a police report, while others don’t. If law enforcement came to the scene to investigate the crash, they should be responsible for completing a report. Under certain circumstances, you only have to report an accident if there were injuries, fatalities, or property damage above a specific value.

It’s always best to call 911 to report a car accident, even if there are only minor injuries. If you’re in a state where the law requires reporting a crash and you choose not to, you could face an expensive fine.

In Ohio, you’re not required to file a police report unless there was injury, more than $400 in property damage, or if one of the drivers doesn’t have insurance.

The investigating officer can obtain your statement and determine who they believe caused the crash. Having physical evidence of what happened could improve your chance of recovering compensation in an auto insurance claim.

Requesting an Accident Report After a Car Crash

The only parties allowed to request a copy of the accident report include:

  • Individuals involved in the crash
  • Parents of a minor child in the accident
  • Insurance companies of the involved parties
  • An attorney representing someone injured in the collision

Typically, the police department has an online portal you can use to obtain the report. However, some law enforcement agencies don’t offer a digital method, so you might have to call them to ask how you can request a copy. Sometimes, you need to complete a form and drop it off in person.

You can also use a service called BuyCrash to submit your request. Whichever method you choose, you likely have to pay a fee.

You need specific information related to the accident to locate the report. It could include:

  • The date of the crash
  • The police report number
  • The state, city/town, or jurisdiction
  • The name of at least one party involved
  • The location of the collision

Accident reports usually aren’t available immediately after the officer files them. It can take up to a week or even longer before you can request a copy.

Why You Need to Hire a Lawyer

Although there are multiple resources to request an accident report yourself, you should seek legal representation. Your lawyer can submit the request on your behalf and review the information in the report to determine whether you have a case to pursue.

If the report states you were at fault and the insurance company denies your claim, your lawyer might be able to proceed with a lawsuit. Additional evidence could discount the officer’s claims in the report and show that another driver or party’s actions contributed and should be held liable for your injuries.

Contact Us

Lawrence & Associates has represented car accident victims since 2005. Our award-winning attorneys received recognition from prestigious organizations, such as Super Lawyers, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and The National Trial Lawyers. We also hold an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest honor a law firm can achieve. Our reputation shows the level of service and dedication we provide to our clients.

We will advocate for your rights and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve when you hire us. We have the resources to obtain the accident report and determine a legal strategy to prove someone else should be financially responsible for your injuries.

If you were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, do not hesitate to contact Lawrence & Associates. We can meet with you for a free consultation to review the circumstances and advise you about your legal options. Call us at (513) 351-5997 today.

How to Read an Accident Report

Posted on Friday, September 24th, 2021 at 3:40 pm    

If you need to file an insurance claim or initiate a lawsuit, an accident report is a vital document following a motor vehicle crash. An officer investigating the accident often includes information related to the cause and events leading up to it. They might offer their opinion about which party they believe was at fault and notate whether they issued any traffic citations.

Accident reports can be confusing to read, especially if you’re not familiar with them. Below is a detailed outline of the information you could find in an accident report, so you understand what you’re reading.

Basic Details

Most accident reports begin with basic information regarding the crash, such as:

  • Accident date
  • Time of the crash
  • Street, road, intersections, and city or town where the accident occurred
  • Accident report number
  • Name of the police officer writing the report

Driver Information

Another section includes details about each driver involved in the crash. If there are multiple drivers, the report lists each one by number. The driver section can include details, such as:

  • Name of the driver
  • Driver’s address and phone number
  • Name of the vehicle owner
  • Vehicle owner’s address and phone number
  • Driver’s license number and the state where it was issued
  • The vehicle color, year, make, and model
  • Vehicle license plate number
  • Vehicle identification number
  • Auto insurance information, including the name of the carrier and policy number

Additional Occupants and Non-Motorists

Sometimes, accidents involve pedestrians or bicyclists and passengers in the motor vehicles involved. Another section will list these individuals and details, including:

  • Name of the occupant and their position in the vehicle
  • Name of the non-motorist
  • Addresses and phone numbers of the individuals

Accident Information

One particular section provides details about the crash itself. The information it contains might include:

  • The direction the vehicles were moving at the time of the collision
  • Point of impact, such as front or side collision
  • Contributing cause of the accident, such as speeding or failure to yield the right of way
  • Events associated with the crash, such as impacting a wall, pedestrian, or another vehicle
  • Any defects with the cars, such as a worn-out tire or malfunctioning brake system
  • Actions of any pedestrians involved
  • Conditions of the road
  • Weather conditions
  • Whether it was light or dark outside
  • Traffic violations issued, including the name of the violator and charge against them

Additional Details

Other sections might contain additional information that could be relevant to a case the injured party pursues. Common details include:

  • Type and location of vehicle damage
  • The estimated cost of the vehicle damage
  • Injuries suffered by the involved parties
  • Whether an ambulance showed up at the scene
  • Whether the ambulance transported anyone to the hospital and the name of the hospital
  • Skid marks, debris in the road, and other relevant information

Narrative and Diagram

Almost all accident reports have a page where the investigating officer can write a brief description of how and why they believe the crash occurred. The information can indicate what each driver was doing just before the accident, such as turning at an intersection or slowing down for a red light.

Law enforcement typically obtains these details by discussing the circumstances with everyone involved in the collision. They might also talk to eyewitnesses who saw what happened.

There is also a diagram the officer can use to reconstruct the events leading up to the accident. The diagram can show the direction of travel for the vehicles and include lines or other markings to indicate the driver’s moves prior to the crash.

The Importance of an Accident Report

Interpreting the information on an accident report can be a challenge. The aftermath of a car crash is often confusing, scary, and overwhelming. Pursuing a case against the at-fault driver while trying to heal your injuries can become a significant source of stress.

It’s crucial for you to understand the details contained in a crash report, so you can proceed knowing how to handle the legal process. If the report mentions that you were at fault, it’s unlikely you will receive compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.

However, the accident report isn’t the only evidence you can present during your case. Many of the details the investigating officer includes in the report are their opinions. It isn’t necessarily a fact that one person’s actions contributed to the crash over someone else’s. Law enforcement uses the information presented to them to interpret the sequences of events leading up to the accident.

Contact Us

If you were involved in a car accident and believe someone else’s negligent actions were to blame, do not hesitate to contact Lawrence & Associates. We can meet you for a free consultation to discuss the incident and determine whether you have a case to pursue. You can depend on our legal team to advocate for your rights and fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.

Call us now at (513) 351-5997. Our award-winning attorneys believe in helping accident victims hold people and companies liable for the harm they cause.

Why Didn’t My Lawyer Take My Call?

Posted on Monday, March 8th, 2021 at 3:07 pm    

Poor communication is the oldest and most common complaint about attorneys. And unfortunately, it’s often true. Many lawyers treat their firms like a part time job rather than a full time business. This can be very frustrating to clients, both new and old. A court case is designed to be a slow process that prioritizes careful information gathering over quick solutions. Insurance claims are the same way. The long timeline can leave many clients feeling adrift, without a clear sense of where the case is going and when it might get there. If your attorney doesn’t have the common courtesy to return phone calls and emails, it gets frustrating fast.

So why doesn’t the lawyer answer the phone when you call?

There can be some good reasons. First, lawyers have many clients, just like doctors have many patients. That’s not bad for you, because a lawyer who has shepherded many others through the process will know how to handle any curveballs thrown at your case. The last thing you want to do is hire an attorney who only touches your type of case once each year. But the downside of an attorney having many clients is that your attorney may not be able to pick up the phone right when you call. Instead, the attorney might be in court, in a deposition, or calling another client. And that’s ok; it’s what the attorney is supposed to do.

Second, an attorney being unavailable for a call might be an example of good customer service rather than bad. At Lawrence & Associates, every new client sits down with their attorney for around an hour and discusses the issues in the client’s case, likely outcomes, and things the client can do to help the case move forward efficiently. That’s great customer service – many law firms never set up a meeting between client and attorney before starting the case, and some don’t let you meet with the attorney in person until the case is ready for settlement. But the flip side of that meeting is that every Lawrence & Associates attorney is unavailable to answer calls while the attorney is in these one hour consultations. We think – and most clients agree – that its better for everyone to get comfortable with each other at the beginning, even if it means some callers have to leave a message.

Third, remember that lawyers and paralegals work in a team just like doctors and nurses do. Some clients call to speak to their attorney and speak to the paralegal working on their case instead. As long as the paralegal is able to answer the client’s questions, that’s ok! Just like calling a doctor’s office generally results in you speaking with a nurse, many attorney office calls result in you speaking with a paralegal. Lawrence & Associates’ paralegals are well trained and have worked here for years. Many paralegals have degrees or certifications to help them do their job. Sometimes, a paralegal might be even better at explaining things than the attorney is. If you call in and get to talk to the paralegal, don’t feel slighted. As long as you’re getting your question answered, you’re accomplishing what you set out to do.

But the Attorney Never Responds to Me. When is Enough Enough?

There are good reasons an attorney might not be able to take your call right away, but if your legal team isn’t responding to you at all that is unacceptable. Lawrence & Associates requires the legal team to respond to client calls and emails within 48 hours (except for weekends and holidays). We set the limit at 48 hours because sometimes attorneys are in trial or in a series of depositions that makes 24 hours impossible. If clients don’t get a response within 48 hours, they can escalate the issue to their attorney’s supervisor. The supervisor will get the phone number or email the client used and check the firm’s phone and email records to make sure we received the call and email and didn’t return it. In rare cases where there is not some reasonable issue (e.g. we sent a reply email but it bounced back, or we called but couldn’t leave a voicemail because the mailbox was full), the attorney or paralegal can be disciplined.

Not all firms have such a strict communication requirement, so here are some tips to maximize the chance you resolve the issue without needing to find a new attorney:

  1. Make sure you try phone and email. Some people are good about returning calls but not emails, or vice versa. And sometimes attorneys can respond to an email right away even when they can’t take a call. For example, sometimes attorneys are waiting for their case to be called by the judge, but court is running late and the judge is dealing with other attorneys. Your attorney may have wi-fi access and be able to respond to your email while he or she is waiting.
  2. Make sure you try the paralegal too. I can’t stress enough that paralegals are legal professionals and have access to all the information the attorney has access to. They are hired to help, so give them a chance to help you!
  3. If you start to feel frustrated, ask to schedule an appointment with the attorney. You might have to wait a week to get one, but lawyers are chained to their calendars. If they have time carved out for you, the attorney will be there. If the attorney won’t schedule an appointment with you, it is a sign that something is seriously wrong.
  4. Keep a journal of the number of times you called or emailed with no response, include the phone number and email address you used. Consider sending the attorney a letter with this list and demanding better service. The longer the list, the more embarrassed the attorney ought to be.
  5. Ask to escalate. For larger law firms, and for firms that are run like a business, there ought to be a corporate hierarchy. That means your attorney may have a boss. Just like you’d ask to speak to a store manager, ask to speak to your attorney’s supervisor.

If none of these tips work, and if you’re getting absolutely no feedback from your legal team, you should look for a new attorney to represent you. Clients are allowed to fire attorneys at will, and firing an attorney for a failure to communicate is considered a “for-cause” firing that prevents the non-communicative attorney from recovering a fee in contingency cases. This helps you find a new attorney, who won’t be as concerned about taking the case but not being able to recover a fee. When you sit for a consultation with the new firm, be sure to ask them what their policy is on returning client calls and emails before you sign a new contract. If they don’t have one, move on.

If you have any other questions about what you should expect in a personal injury, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, or social security claim, give us a call! We offer free consultations and we always make your case our cause. We look forward to speaking with you.

Kentucky’s Covington division opened the door for people filing bankruptcy petitions to make payments on their bankruptcies

Posted on Friday, February 26th, 2021 at 9:04 am    

A recent opinion from Judge Wise in the Eastern District of Kentucky’s Covington division has opened the door for people filing bankruptcy petitions to make payments on their bankruptcies. You can read the full text of the opinion here.

So how do payment plans work? First, let’s talk about the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you have a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Lawrence & Associates already gives you a payment plan. You’re required to pay your court filing fee and the cost of pulling your credit report up front. Court fees change occasionally, but this has been less than $400 for years now. Attorney fees are paid as part of your monthly payment to the bankruptcy trustee, and each monthly payment is the same. So in Chapter 13 bankruptcies, you automatically have a payment plan.

Chapter 7 bankruptcies are different because you don’t make any payment to the Trustee. On top of that, if you still owe your bankruptcy attorney money when you file the bankruptcy, then you just declared bankruptcy on your attorney too. Your attorney isn’t allowed to collect. This means that all Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys used to be required to collect their entire fee up front. If they didn’t, they were stuck with whatever money they’d accepted on the front end. Judge Wise’s opinion is important because it upends the old way of doing things and provides a blueprint that allows Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers to file without having to get all the money up front.

The most important thing to realize if you intend to have a payment plan on a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that you are going to agree to separate different parts of the bankruptcy that ordinarily go together. Although there’s probably more than one correct way to do this, Lawrence & Associates divides the services up like this:

Before Filing Contract After Filing Contract
Consultation Preparing and Filing All Bankruptcy Schedules
Preparing and Filing a Bankruptcy Petition Preparing and Filing the Means Test and All Other Required Bankruptcy Documents
Preparing and Filing a List of Creditors Gathering and Providing Necessary Documents to the US Trustee and Chapter 7 Trustee
Preparing and Filing an Application to Pay the Filing Fee in Installments Attending Court with You
Reaffirming Debts with Secured Creditors
Making Installment Payments on the Filing Fee

If you don’t have a payment plan and choose to pay the entire attorney fee, court costs, and credit report fee up front, then both columns are completely covered by that payment. But if you choose to have a payment plan you’ll sign a contract that covers just the items in the first column for as little as $300 in attorney fees. That gets your bankruptcy filed and gets the automatic stay in place to stop your creditors from garnishing you. But if you don’t also do all of the things in the second column, your case will be dismissed! You aren’t required to use the same law firm to complete the things in the second column; in fact, you aren’t required to use a lawyer at all! But you should be aware that some of the things in the second column must be done within as little as seven days after filing your bankruptcy, so you’ll have limited time to educate yourself if you decide to go it alone.

If you decided to retain Lawrence & Associates to complete the items in the second column, you’ll have a second meeting with your attorney and sign a second contract that covers those items. That second contract is accompanied by a form that allows us to take a deduction from your bank account once each month for 12 months. There’s no money owed on the second contract other than the monthly deduction. Having a payment plan is slightly more expensive than paying everything up front, because the law firm must keep the case open for longer and because the firm runs a risk of not getting paid over time. But payment plans give hard working people the opportunity to get a fresh start without dodging garnishments and law suits while they try to save up enough to file.

We can set up a payment plan for any Chapter 7 bankruptcy we file in Kentucky. Unfortunately, Ohio courts have not allowed this option yet, so we are not able to set up payment plans for Ohio bankruptcies. If you think a Chapter 7 payment plan is right for you, give Lawrence & Associates a call!

Your Attorney Cannot Take Attorney Fees from PIP Benefits in Kentucky – It’s Illegal!

Posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 at 2:48 pm    

In Kentucky, all automobile insurance policies default to having at least $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. These are also called no-fault benefits or, in some policies, basic reparations benefits (BRB). It’s possible to waive these benefits, but you must sign waivers with some strongly worded disclaimers. Very few drivers execute such a waiver, so if you’re a Kentucky resident, the odds are that your car insurance has between $10,000 and $50,000 in PIP coverage.

PIP coverage is unique because it is paid as you go, regardless of who was at fault. It pays for medical bills and up to $200 per week of lost wages. There are no co-pays, and only some plans have a deductible. Usually you do not have to go to an independent medical exam to access PIP benefits, and the carrier is not allowed to deny coverage upon only a paper review of your medical records. In the world of auto insurance, where most adjusters are trained to fight you on your claims – or even convince you not to file a claim – PIP benefits can be a real life saver.

Unfortunately, because most adjusters are trained to fight you on a claim for bodily injury from automobile insurance, you’re likely to need a lawyer at some point during the claim. Trying to resolve the claim without one is usually a big time sink, a big headache, and a big shot in the dark. We frequently tell clients that hiring a lawyer is like hiring a plumber – both are service industries where hiring someone with more knowledge and better tools than you makes a job easier than doing it yourself would be. Since personal injury lawyers get paid by taking a percent of the money you get from an insurance policy, it would be easy to assume a lawyer gets a percentage of the PIP payment from your auto insurance. But they don’t.

Kentucky has a statute that controls when an attorney can take a fee from PIP: KRS 304.39-220. This statute says that attorneys can take a fee when PIP benefits are unreasonably overdue and recovered by the attorney. The attorney must have either filed the case in court or at least sent a letter to the insurance company telling them a lawsuit over the overdue PIP benefits was coming. However, the statute is very clear that “[n]o part of the fee for representing the claimant in connection with these benefits is a charge against benefits otherwise due the claimant.” In other words, the attorney fee must be in addition to the PIP benefits owed to you. The attorney fee doesn’t get deducted from the PIP benefits owed to you. This is different from every other kind of insurance coverage, where the insurance policy pays one amount that the attorney fees come out of.

If your attorney is taking a fee from your PIP benefits, you have every right to question it. An attorney taking a fee from the PIP owed to you is doing something illegal. In fact, this is a big red flag that the attorney may be incompetent to handle your case. If you call Lawrence & Associates one of our attorneys will review the PIP paperwork for you at no charge and advise whether the attorney fee is appropriate. If an attorney takes a PIP fee inappropriately, we will give you guidance on how to report this to the Kentucky Bar Association so you can get the money back. On the other hand, if the attorney took the fee appropriately, you’ll at least have the peace of mind in knowing you were treated fairly under the law. Speaking up might not only benefit you, but also benefit other clients who will fall into the same trap.

Our offices are OPEN!

Posted on Monday, June 15th, 2020 at 5:18 pm    

We are excited to announce that our offices are now open!
We’re determined to succeed on behalf of every client who retains us, because we know what a difference it can make in their lives and the lives of their loved ones. When you need legal help, turn to a team that has the skill, experience, and resources necessary to win. Our consultations are always free, so contact a knowledgeable member of our team by calling (513) 351-5997, chatting with us live, or by filling out a contact form today.

Kentucky Moratorium on Eviction Hearings to Expire July 25, 2020

Posted on Friday, June 5th, 2020 at 3:09 pm    

As many unemployed homeowners and renters know, there has been a moratorium against filing foreclosure or eviction cases in court since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. However, that prohibition is starting to end. Because Lawrence & Associates practices bankruptcy law in Kentucky and helps save about one hundred homes every year, we’ve been paying careful attention to the Kentucky court system to see how they are handling foreclosures and evictions. The Kentucky Supreme Court issued an order that partially reopened courthouses starting June 1, 2020. Buried in this order are directions to the Kentucky state courts on how to process foreclosure and eviction lawsuits. Knowing what the state courts are allowed to do is critical to saving your home or apartment.

How the Kentucky Supreme Court Order Affects Renters

It’s important to know that Kentucky is still under a “state of emergency” due to COVID-19 and that there is no set date that this will end. However, the Governor could end the state of emergency at any time, and we don’t know how much notice we’ll get when that happens. Governor Beshear could make an announcement that the state of emergency will end in a day, a week, or a month. The Kentucky Supreme Court order says that all evictions can resume when the state of emergency ends or on July 25, 2020, whichever comes first. Some evictions can begin before then, but generally only if they are on commercial property or if the eviction is for some reason other than non-payment of rent. The order goes on to say that “…nothing in this Order shall be interpreted to suspend or otherwise excuse an individual’s duty to pay rent….” In other words, if you aren’t paying rent now then you’re living on borrowed time. The backlog of unpaid rent is piling up, and you have a maximum of seven weeks before that bill comes due.

How the Kentucky Supreme Court Order Affects Homeowners

If you own your home and are behind on mortgage payments, the situation is even more dire. The order allows judicial sales to begin again, effective immediately. A judicial sale is when a mortgage company gets a foreclosure judgment against you and the Master Commissioner sells your house to the highest bidder. The day of the judicial sale, the buyer is allowed to enter the house and change any locks on the doors. The judicial sale is a point of no return. Northern Kentucky counties – particularly Boone County, Kenton County, and Campbell County – have already put out scheduling orders for when hearings will be held to schedule the Master Commissioner’s sale. Lawrence & Associates has one client whose hearing is as early as June 11, 2020. While the amount of time depends on the county you live in, it does seem like homeowners who are several months behind on a mortgage have even less than the seven weeks that renters have to get caught up or find another way to save their homes.

What Does Bankruptcy Do to Save Your Home?

For homeowners, this answer is easy. If you’re behind on your mortgage and you can’t catch up, you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The rules in Chapter 13 are simple. You have to make your regular, monthly mortgage payment directly to the mortgage company beginning when the next payment is due after the bankruptcy is filed. (So for example, if you pay on the first of every month and you file bankruptcy on June 15, you’d need to start regular monthly mortgage payments again on July 1.) The total unpaid arrearage on the mortgage goes into the bankruptcy and your monthly bankruptcy payment will pay it off in full. The mortgage company can’t charge interest on the arrearage in the bankruptcy, but they get to charge any late fees or attorneys fees that were applied before the bankruptcy was filed. Your normal interest rate applies to the rest of the mortgage. You can file this bankruptcy at any time before the Master Commissioner’s sale, but once that sale happens the bankruptcy can’t save the home anymore. But whatever you do, don’t wait until right before the sale happens. You have to come up with several hundred dollars and quite a few documents to file, and the average client takes around a month to get everything together. Even if you are faster than average, you might not find an attorney willing to turn it around for you in just a day or so. That kind of speed can lead to mistakes, and many of us have other clients already scheduled to file.

For renters, the answer is a little more complicated. Your safest bet is to file the bankruptcy before the eviction is ever filed in court. If you do that, you’ll still have to get caught up on your rent while the bankruptcy is in progress, but you are guaranteed the opportunity to do so. The landlord cannot file an eviction while the bankruptcy is proceeding. But if the landlord files the eviction in court first, the landlord has a unique power to negotiate an agreement over the rent arrearage rather than having an agreement forced on the landlord by the bankruptcy court. If you wait to file bankruptcy until after an eviction is already filed in court, the bankruptcy will stop the eviction action temporarily. But it’s not a given that the bankruptcy will automatically save you from eviction. Landlords have a lot more rights in bankruptcies than most other creditors. This means Kentucky renters who are behind on their rent should not wait until July 25, 2020 or the end of Kentucky state of emergency before they file bankruptcy! Beating the landlord to court is the surest way to make sure you aren’t out on the street once the state of emergency expires.

If you have more questions about evictions or foreclosures, or just about how bankruptcy works in general, don’t hesitate to call Lawrence & Associates at (513) 351-5997. Our attorney consultations are free, confidential, and can be done by phone or video. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and the COVID-19 pandemic can’t change that. Good luck out there!

Hit by a DoorDash driver? Here’s what to do.

Posted on Monday, June 1st, 2020 at 1:48 pm    

A motor vehicle collision is a stressful, unhappy time no matter what. Even the most minor of crashes can cause property damage and injuries, and that leads to missed time from work, missed bill payments, pain, and frustration. The good news is, we have insurance and our insurance is supposed to take care of all this quickly and easily, right? But what if you can’t figure out which insurance is supposed to cover the collision? That’s the problem we are seeing more and more with the rise of the “gig economy” and services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub, not to mention the original gig jobs of driving a taxi for Uber or Lyft. When you’re hit by a driver working as an independent contractor for one of these companies, you can find yourself in a confusing situation where every insurance carrier is pointing the finger at someone else.

Determining Which Insurer Should Pay

Let’s start with the basics. In a normal motor vehicle collision where the other driver is at fault, your insurance steps in right away with no-fault benefits. In Kentucky the minimum no-fault benefits are $10,000 of PIP and in Ohio the minimum no fault benefits are $5,000 of med pay. Kentucky’s PIP goes toward medical bills and up to $200 per week in lost wages, while Ohio’s med pay only goes toward medical bills. After that, your insurance policy is done for a while. That is when the at-fault driver’s policy should step in. (If you have underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance might step back in at a later time, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.)

The problem with someone driving for a gig job is that you don’t know whose auto insurance policy should cover, at least not right away. Let’s use DoorDash as an example. Assume you were hit by a driver whose job was to take food from your local McDonalds to a DoorDash customer. This driver should have personal auto insurance to cover driving when that person isn’t working for DoorDash. After all, this is the at-fault driver’s personal vehicle and there are plenty of times when he or she is picking kids up from school, going to the grocery, or maybe going to another job. All of those things are personal to the driver and don’t involve DoorDash. But DoorDash also has its own insurance company that provides coverage for injuries caused by their employees while driving. Usually that insurance is through a California company called Assurant, even if you’re hurt in Kentucky or Ohio (the two states where Lawrence & Associates is licensed). So while the at-fault driver is working for DoorDash, the driver has two insurance policies covering their negligent driving: one personal, and one professional.

At first, having two different insurance policies at hand sounds great. Double the coverage, and almost no chance of running out of insurance while you still have medical bills to pay! What could go wrong? Unfortunately, the devil is often in the details. Here, that devil can be reduced to one question: Who has to pay first? Continuing our example above, let’s assume the at-fault driver for DoorDash has a personal auto insurance policy through State Farm and then DoorDash’s professional policy through Assurant. The driver caused the collision while going to pick up the food, but before actually getting to the restaurant. State Farm has an exclusion in all its policies that says they will not pay any money for a driver that is using the personal car in a professional job. Let’s further assume Assurant has an exclusion that says it only provides coverage from the moment the driver picks up the order to the moment the driver delivers it. If the crash occurs while the driver is picking up the food but before the food is picked up, it leaves the insurance coverage in a no-man’s land where nobody wants to pay. And that leaves the injured person who is not at fault with few good options.

What are your options after being in an accident with a delivery driver?

What should you do if you find yourself in this situation? This will seem a little cliché when coming from an attorney’s website, but the first thing to do is call a lawyer. At law firms specializing in automobile accidents, attorneys should get a lot of training on how to unravel this type of contractual snarl. Not every insurance claim requires an attorney, but if both adjusters deny payment and each points the finger at each other, you’ve reached the point where paying an attorney is worthwhile.

Second, take a deep breath. While the resolution won’t necessarily be quick, you are likely to receive a resolution that causes insurance payments to go toward your medical bills, lost wages, the diminished value of your car, and you and your spouses pain and suffering related to the accident. In both Ohio and Kentucky, the law absolutely hates a lack of insurance coverage. Judges are instructed to try to find coverage from someone, somewhere, unless there’s just no way to do it. So in our example above, it’s most likely that you’ll get coverage from either DoorDash’s Assurant policy or the driver’s personal StateFarm policy.

Third, don’t let the confusion make you take less than you’re due just to get rid of the headache. It can be tempting to do that but this money is supposed to cover medical bills and replace missing paychecks. Your doctor and your mortgage company aren’t going to forgive your obligations out of sympathy for the tough situation you’re in, so you can’t take one red cent less than what you need to cover what you’ve lost.

Whose insurance will pay?

Which insurance company should provide the coverage for the collision in the example above? DoorDash and Assurant are probably holding the bag, regardless of whether you use Ohio or Kentucky law. One of the first things we’d look at is whether the at-fault driver was logged into the DoorDash app when the collision occurred. If not, that points to the driver not being on the job and the driver’s personal insurance covering. But if the driver was logged in, that indicates the driver was on the job regardless of whether the driver had picked up the delivery food. State law has a lot of effect here, but often state law draws the line at whether the driver is furthering the employer’s interest (i.e. by getting food for delivery after a fee was paid on the app, which is how DoorDash makes money). If the driver is doing what the employer hires the driver to do, the employer can be liable. DoorDash isn’t likely to leave itself completely exposed with no insurance coverage at all, so even if the Assurant policy doesn’t have to cover the crash, DoorDash may have some other policy that will. DoorDash might even lean on Assurant to provide coverage for you, just to avoid a lawsuit. Solutions aren’t always straightforward and sometimes require arm twisting, but arm twisting is sort of what lawyers are for.

Discuss Your DoorDash Accident with a Lawyer

If you’ve been in a wreck like this one and all the insurance policies are telling you they won’t pay for the bills – or won’t pay enough – do yourself a favor and set up a free consultation with an attorney. Most attorneys charge contingency fees, so it won’t break your bank. And on top of that, good attorneys almost always move cases along more quickly and for better results than what you would see without the attorney. If you’ve got any questions about an accident like the DoorDash scenario in the example above, please give us a call at (513) 351-5997. Lawrence & Associates is Working Hard for the Working Class. We’d love to help you.


Posted on Sunday, May 17th, 2020 at 10:00 am    

Ohio and Kentucky residents know their states are re-opening slowly, and the exact guidelines – Are restaurants open this week? How about bars? – can be really tough to pin down. Kentucky’s re-opening dates are published on the state’s official website with a handy poster explaining the guidelines here. Meanwhile, in Ohio there is a similar re-opening plan with dates that only vary from the Kentucky schedule by a few weeks at most.

Law firms are just one more industry that is trying to stay one step ahead while complying with all the state regulations. Since Lawrence & Associates has locations in both West Chester, Ohio and Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, we are combining both states’ re-opening guidelines into one plan to have both our offices physically reopen on June 15, 2020. We are waiting until June 15th because many of our employees are not able to get childcare earlier. Even where childcare facilities will be open, the restrictions on the number of children in a single room mean some employees might not be able to send their children in on the first day the facility opens. Until then, Lawrence & Associates will continue to represent our clients while working from home. We’ve made a few posts explaining how our focus on using the latest technology to achieve better results for our clients made the mandatory office shutdown very easy for us. You can see a video here explaining how our phones, email, and fax are all internet based and work normally even when the employees are working from home.

Our transition was so seamless, we even managed to achieve over $1,000,000.00 for our clients during the shutdown. In addition, we’ve been able to continue keeping our clients informed using video options such as Google Duo, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and by telephone.

We know that your case is important and that work must continue. We recently produced another video talking about how we’ll manage our cases and personnel as we transition back into the West Chester and Fort Mitchell offices.

And while all this is going on, court systems are continuing to adjust and plan their own re-opening schedules. Here’s a little insight into how the court systems are planning for the next six weeks.

Personal Injury –The federal courthouse in Cincinnati recently re-opened. Kentucky is re-opening courthouses on a limited basis starting June 1, 2020. Despite that date, we expect that many routine motions and other issues will still have their hearings by video or teleconference due to restrictions on the number of people allowed in a courtroom. Lawrence & Associates’ attorneys have been attending or hosting depositions and mediations using Zoom. Important documents are being signed by Docusign so everyone can remain remote. Doctor’s offices’ re-opening has allowed us to get medical records in more quickly, and we are still asking clients if they’d prefer a medical records review by a doctor instead of an in-person exam, so your case can move forward despite your comfort level.

Workers’ Compensation – all workers’ compensation hearings are now moving forward normally, although mostly by telephone. Lawrence & Associates is seeing very little slowdown in the Workers’ Compensation system at this time, as both the Ohio hearing officers and Kentucky Administrative Law Judges have adapted to telephonic hearings. In fact, the telephone hearings have been so successful that we hope both systems continue to use them as a matter of course in the future. If you are in a workers’ compensation claim, you should see very little or no slow down at this time.

Bankruptcy– Much like the previous entry, there should be no slowdown in your ability to file bankruptcy cases. All hearings in federal court have been reset by video or telephone, and there was never a break in our ability to file bankruptcies. While this practice area requires client to produce a lot of documentation, Lawrence & Associates has a website set up where clients can upload all their documents with just the click of a button. There’s no more need to bring stacks of paperwork to an attorney’s office. If you need to file bankruptcy – and so many do because of the coronavirus-related layoffs – you should be able to hire an attorney and do so without leaving your home.

Social Security – although many social security hearings were remote even before the pandemic, this system has been slower to reset hearings than more. While Lawrence & Associates can still meet with clients by phone or video, and can get your claim filed, the hearings still haven’t been set at the same rate we saw before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, those first steps that can be done are still very important. Getting your initial application and follow-up motion for reconsideration filed are important pre-requisites to a hearing, so hiring an attorney and filing those documents still moves your case along the path of a successful disability claim. Lawrence & Associates’ social security disability attorneys expect to see many backlogged hearings set in the next month, but so far have not seen actual dates.

Tech-savvy Cincinnati lawyers

Our attorneys continued to be amazed and frustrated at the number of people who report that their current attorney is unreachable because the attorney’s office is closed, or who report that their cases are going nowhere because the courts are closed. This isn’t true, and if you’re being told these things you should find a new attorney. Good law firms with even a minimal grasp of modern technology should have no problem getting settlements or completing bankruptcies at this time. For those personal injury cases that can’t be settled, it is true that you cannot get a jury trial and that can be an impediment to moving a case forward. But ask your attorney about getting a bench trial done by video, because many courts are experimenting with this format to finalize cases without settlements. And above all, make sure you have an attorney that can keep you informed and move your case forward in case the COVID-19 cases start to rise again. While we all hope the quarantine is about to be over for good, no one knows. If businesses do shut their doors, will your case shut down or keep going? The decision you make today could affect you in the near future.

To get in touch with a tech-savvy Cincinnati law firm, call Lawrence & Associates at (513) 351-5997 or contact us online.

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