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Do You Need an Attorney When Appearing Before The Kentucky Board of Claims?

Posted on Friday, June 20th, 2014 at 7:53 am    

Even though we have all seen movies and TV shows about jury trials, no one should try to represent themselves before a jury. It is a recipe for disaster. The Kentucky Board of Claims is very, very different from a jury trial, and that can make it both more and less difficult to represent yourself.

About The Kentucky Board of Claims

The Board of Claims was established by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1946 with the mission to ensure an impartial and fair review of all claims filed by citizens who believe their person or property has been damaged through negligence of the part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The board acts under the authority of KRS Chapter 44 and KAR Title 108 to determine whether a state agency has been negligent, consequently causing damages, loss or injury to a claimant.

Property Damage Claims

As a rule of thumb, if you are representing yourself only for property damage (such as to a vehicle), we would recommend representing yourself or contacting some kind of Legal Aid society. Very few attorneys will take on a minor property damage case due to the large amount of time and inability to get paid for that time.

Important Link: Board of Claims Website

Injury Claims

We highly recommend legal representation for Injury claims before the Board of Claims. Injury claims are defended by Kentucky’s state agencies before the board of claims every bit as vigorously as similar injury claims are defended in jury trials. Further, the rules at the Board of Claims often favor the state agency. For example, the state agency is allowed to ask the hearing officer to take notice of scientific facts that people working for the agency know, even though the injured person might not have the ability to question the state agency’s employees! In another odd twist, the state agency is allowed thirty days after the hearing in which to go get an expert, although many claimants can’t afford one. Injured people appearing before the Board of Claims can wind up overwhelmed and without the resources to fight the state government.

At Lawrence & Associates’ Northern Kentucky office, our attorneys will take injury cases before the Board of Claims and fight for your rights.  Don’t wait until it is too late to fight back – call our office in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky today!  

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Florida’s Supreme Court Tosses Out a Medical Malpractice Cap That Kentucky’s Legislature Is Now Considering – See Why It Matters to All of Us

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 at 8:00 am    

malpractice capsIn the article Florida Supreme Court tosses out medical malpractice cap on damages by Mary Ellen Klas, she writes that “The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the centerpiece of the 2003 medical malpractice overhaul law, blasting the Legislature for creating an “alleged medical malpractice crisis” and concluding that the cap on wrongful death noneconomic damages violates the state Constitution’s equal protection clause.”

What Happened

Florida, like many states, passed tort reform laws under the faulty thinking that there was a frivolous lawsuit crisis in the state.  They put a cap on damages that ensured the most injured people would not get full recovery, although people with minor injuries could get a recovery.  This obviously helped the insurance companies, who knew there was a maximum on any given claim.  Looking back, the Florida Supreme Court found that the law was a) unconstitutional, and b) was not based upon a factual foundation.  If you look at the bottom of the article, you’ll see how the Court did research and found that the supposed reasons for passing tort reform were not real.  For example, the claim was that doctors were leaving the state, but looking back at 2003 (when tort reform was passed), the history books show the number of physicians increased rather than decreased.

Why It Matters to All of Us

Kentucky is considering the exact same law that Florida passed this year.  If it passes, anyone with a personal injury claim and a serious injury – death, paralysis, amputation, etc. – will no longer be able to file a claim and receive a full recovery.  Instead, they have to look to state aid (like social security disability) to fill the gaps.  That means the law potentially affects all of us.


Spotlight on Casey Robinson: Associate Lawyer at Lawrence and Associates Focusing on Bankrputcy

Posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2014 at 3:19 am    

Focused on Bankruptcy Cases 

I was sworn in as an attorney in Kentucky in October 2013 and started working at Lawrence & Associates in January 2014.  I was admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky in March 2014. I work primarily on bankruptcy cases, but I also work with personal injury claims. In bankruptcy, I represent debtors in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases.  I represent clients with personal injury claims from automobile accidents and slip and fall accidents. I chose to focus on bankruptcy because I really enjoyed learning how the entire bankruptcy process works during my course work in college.  Bankruptcy is very different and it is, for the most part, not adversarial.  I enjoy how cooperative the entire process is because it feels like everyone is working toward a similar goal in the end.

Devoted to Helping Clients Get a Fresh Start Through Personal Attention

At the end of every bankruptcy case, whether it is Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, I really feel like I am helping someone restart his/her life.  It is a good feeling knowing that I helped them and that they can begin the process of rebuilding their lives because of our work for them. I am from a small town in Eastern Kentucky, which is one of the poorest regions in the country. I understand the issues that many struggling families go through to make a living and I know how hard it is to recover from serious financial setbacks.

My favorite part of working in the practice is meeting new people on a regular basis.  I enjoy hearing the stories our clients have to tell us, and I think the best part is seeing the relief the clients feel at the end of our bankruptcy cases. I’m devoted to ensuring the best outcomes for my clients. Lawrence & Associates is not a factory.  We work closely with our clients from the beginning to the end of every claim and case. I get involved from the very first meeting with every potential client.  I strive to ensure that I do my best work for each and every client and that all of our clients are satisfied with my work.

Working to Eliminate the Stigma of Bankruptcy

One of the biggest challenges we face is giving potential clients the reassurance that filing bankruptcy is not a bad thing.  People have a constitutional right to seek relief in bankruptcy, which is why it is often referred to as a “fresh start.”  There is a horrible stigma that comes along with filing bankruptcy that should not be there.

First Generation College Grad

My biggest success has been graduating and becoming an attorney.  I am a first generation college graduate in my family, and I am the first to complete graduate school.  Becoming an attorney has been my dream for so long, and I am so glad to have achieved that.  My true success, however, will be helping as many people as I can as an attorney.

Other Legal Experience

I have previously worked in a number of different areas of the law, including insurance defense, domestic relations, criminal law, personal injury, Social Security, estate planning, and mining regulations.  I feel that my experience in the other areas helps me work through all of the various issues that are brought into bankruptcy cases.

Giving Back to the Community 

I work with the Kentucky Bar Association Young Lawyer Division (YLD) and the Northern Kentucky Bar Association Young Lawyer Section.  I am a volunteer with the CARE Program (Credit Abuse Resistance Education), which puts attorneys in high school classrooms to teach teenagers credit responsibility.  I am also a volunteer in the YLD’s U@18 Program, which educates 17 and 18 year old high school students regarding their basic rights and responsibilities as renters, consumers, property owners, voters, spouses, and employees.

I also recently helped to get the Cincinnati Alumni Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, Law Fraternity International, reactivated.  The Chapter will participate in a number of philanthropy and professional events over the course of a year, and it allows us to work with undergraduate and law school students in their chapters.  We are able to connect to Chapters across the world.

Best Advice

The best advice I ever received came from my mother.  She always told me that you won’t know an answer if you don’t ask the question and that you’ll never get help if you don’t ask. I make it a habit now of never hesitating to ask a question and to keep asking questions until I get enough information.  I always advise people that it is okay to ask for help because everyone needs help at some point.  We are here to help, and all you have to do is ask.

About Our Bankruptcy Practice

bankruptcyThere are many reasons that individuals and families find they can no longer afford to pay monthly bills. Some may have recently gone through a divorce. Others have been injured at work or in an accident and are unable to earn an income. Many are facing increased interest rates on mortgages or credit cards and cannot keep up. There are also people who simply let spending get out of control and cannot find a way out. Have you received notice that your wages will be garnished due to delinquent payments on your financial obligations? Has the bank started foreclosure proceedings on your home? Is your car about to be repossessed? Or have you realized that try as you may, there is just no way for you to stay current on all of your bills? Regardless of the financial problems you are facing, it is important to realize that there are legal solutions to help you obtain debt relief.

Immediate Relief For Pressing Financial Problems

Above all, do not ignore your financial problems or lawsuits that creditors bring against you. These issues will not disappear. Your best option is to contact a bankruptcy attorney at the first sign of financial distress. Even if you are facing immediate foreclosure, repossession or wage garnishment, Lawrence & Associates can provide swift legal action to help protect you. Your start to a fresh financial future begins when you contact the bankruptcy law firm of Lawrence & Associates. Our firm helps clients file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. When you work with our firm, we will take the time to fully explain your legal options and the bankruptcy process in an understandable way — not with complex legal jargon. We can also provide advice on how to stop creditor harassment, garnishment, foreclosure and repossessions.


“What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?” is a Frequently Asked Question to Northern Kentucky Personal Injury Lawyers

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 at 1:40 pm    

car wreckPersonal Injury Protection, or “PIP”, is a basic coverage that is required in Kentucky on all motor vehicles, with the exception of motorcycles. It generally provides up to $10,000 to each covered individual in an accident to be used for the purposes of paying for medical expenses, lost wages, and all other costs that resulted due to the accident (optional higher benefits and deductibles are available).

Who’s PIP is Used and How?

 

In most circumstances, the PIP is paid by the insurer of the vehicle in which the injured person was riding at the time of the accident. For example, if an insured motorist is in an accident while driving his insured vehicle, his insurance company will pay the PIP. It does not matter who was at fault in causing the accident. Additionally, if a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the insurer of that vehicle will pay the PIP associated with the pedestrian’s accident related expenses.

What if there is no PIP?

In certain circumstances, an injured party will find that there is no PIP available. For example, this can occur in a situation where the injured party is uninsured and the owner of the vehicle does not have existing coverage for his vehicle. If a pedestrian is struck by an uninsured vehicle (where the owner of the vehicle failed to have insurance or the driver of the vehicle was uninsured), then his best option is to file a claim for basic PIP to the Kentucky Assigned Claims Plan. The KAC is a state fund which provides basic PIP benefits to those who meet the certain requirements listed under KRS 304.39-160 and 304.39-170. An example of someone who would not be entitled to apply to the KAC for PIP would be an injured driver who was uninsured at the time of the accident.

If you or someone you know has been in an automobile accident, have medical bills piling up, and are unsure of what your options are, do not hesitate to contact a Northern Kentucky Personal Injury Lawyer. Lawrence & Associates can help get you the benefits that you deserve!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Is It Really Necessary to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney When My Injury Isn’t Being Contested By My Employer?

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2014 at 12:15 pm    

Workers Compensation AttorneyOften times, I hear people say, “Why would I hire a workers’ compensation attorney? My employer is paying my medical bills.” Before practicing workers’ compensation law, I had the same school of thought. What I learned after diving into the area of Kentucky comp is there are several reasons to hire a workers’ compensation attorney, even when the employer is not contesting that the employee’s injury occurred at the workplace.

Reasons Why You Should Get a Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Lawyer For Your Case…

  • Workers’ Compensation Can Be Complex – It’s difficult for an injured employee to navigate the system without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
  • Kentucky Attorney’s Fees for a Workers’ Compensation Case are Contingent – Contingent means that  the attorney does not receive any form of compensation unless the injured employee recovers a settlement. Therefore, the injured employee has nothing to lose by hiring a workers’ compensation attorney to file his or her claim.
  • Employers Have a Conflict of Interest and Want You Back on the Job Quick – Even though an employer may not contest that an employee’s injury happened at work, the employer’s goal is to get the employee back to work as soon as possible. With this goal in mind, the injured employee may not be receiving proper medical treatment or the employer or insurance company may be forcing the employee to work in violation of medical restrictions from the employee’s treating physician. Hiring an experienced Northern Kentucky workers’ compensation attorney can help the employee navigate these issues if they pop up and the attorney will help to ensure that the injured worker is receiving proper medical treatment.
  • You Don’t Need the Hassle of Dealing with the Employer’s Insurance Company –  When hiring a workers’ compensation attorney, the employee no longer has to deal directly with the employer’s insurance company. The attorney handles all medical records and deals directly with all insurance companies involved leaving the injured worker to focus on his or her treatment.
  • Ensure You Get a FAIR Settlement – Hiring an experienced Northern Kentucky workers’ compensation lawyer can help an employee receive a fair settlement at the end of his or her treatment. Without an attorney, insurance companies may offer an employee a settlement that the employer believes is fair and the employee may accept the first offer, not knowing that settlements are negotiable. A workers’ compensation attorney can help with the settlement process and negotiate a fair settlement for all parties involved.

Also Know That If a Claim Has Been Denied by the Insurance Company That You Still Have Options….

Other times, I hear people say that they were injured at work and their workers’ compensation claim has been denied by the insurance company. The injured worker may wrongfully believe that the denial is the end of the road. In this situation, it is imperative that the injured employee speaks with a workers’ compensation attorney because he or she could be missing out on the opportunity to have medical bills related to the injury paid and a settlement at the end of the case. Just because an employer says that an employee’s injury did not occur while the employee was on the clock, it is not the end of the road for the injured employee. When an employee’s injury is denied by the insurance company, a workers’ compensation attorney can file the employee’s claim, which gives the employee the opportunity to be heard in front of a Kentucky Administrative Law Judge who then determines if the employee’s injury is in fact work-related and compensable.

If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, don’t wait to contact a Northern Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Attorney. Lawrence & Associates can help get you the benefits that you deserve!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


You Have the Right to Wipe Your St. Elizabeth Bills Clean Through Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 at 5:00 pm    

chapter 7 bankruptcySt. Elizabeth Medical Center is the largest medical provider in Northern Kentucky, serving thousands of patients daily. In addition to its five area hospitals in Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties, St. Elizabeth also owns multiple medical practices in areas ranging from physical therapy to business health and women’s health. While St. Elizabeth can be a great force for good for the Northern Kentucky community, they are also known as an aggressive bill collector that will file lawsuits against its patients for collection of bills, or send bills to collection agencies. Even if you are insured, St. Elizabeth can file a lawsuit for the portion of your treatment bill that is not covered by insurance.

You Have the Right To Reduce or Eliminate Medical Bills

If this happens to you, as a Kentucky citizen you have rights to help reduce or even eliminate the medical bill in its entirety. This is especially important for medical costs, because unlike many other types of debt a medical bill can cost enormous amounts of money and can be totally unexpected for even the most diligent and reasonable person. I speak from experience – my son had complications at birth that caused medical bills of nearly a million dollars. We were fortunate that her employer had insurance to cover the vast majority of these bills, but many people are not that fortunate.

You Could Try to Negotiate Lower Payments

If St. Elizabeth (or any other medical provider) has sent your bill to collections or is suing you for full payment of the bill, don’t despair. You need to take action (and quickly!), but you do have options. First, be aware that you can often negotiate your medical bill down to a fraction of the total bill. This is because Northern Kentucky medical providers often bill from a “chargemaster”, which sets an arbitrary price for services the hospital provides. All health insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, negotiate reduced rates from the chargemaster. For this reason, most medical providers don’t actually expect to receive the full amount of the bill they have given you, although it is quite rare for any Northern Kentucky medical provider to negotiate below the amount they have agreed to pay a health insurance company for any given treatment.  If you want professional help negotiating down your medical bills, there is a cottage industry of people that are familiar with Medicare guidelines that can try to pressure health care providers into reducing their bills to a more reasonable amount. You can also try a debt consolidation company, and there are several that service the Northern Kentucky area or operate nationwide.

The Problem with Negotiators and Debt Consolidators

The central problem with both a private negotiator and a debt consolidation company, however, is that they have no power to force the medical provider to do anything.  They are only asking permission.  If an aggressive medical provider, such as St. Elizabeth, refuses to negotiate, you will have paid money to the negotiator or debt consolidation company for no result.  Often, a medical provider that will not negotiate will decide to sue instead.  Courts in Boone County, Kenton County, Grant County, Gallatin County and Campbell County routinely see such lawsuits and rarely – if ever – side with the patient.  They are courts of law, not courts of fairness, and the law is on St. Elizabeth’s side.

Wiping Debts Clean with Chapter 7 Bunkruptcy

This is where a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be very important. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your medical debts will be wiped out completely. You can also choose a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in which you would pay back a reasonable portion of the medical debt before having the remainder of the debt wiped out. The attorneys at Lawrence & Associates are skilled bankruptcy practitioners, and we have helped hundreds of people discharge medical debts and receive a fresh start on life.  At our Fort Mitchell, Kentucky offices, Lawrence & Associates can counsel you on how to file bankruptcy, discharge the greatest amount of debt possible, keep all of your assets through the bankruptcy, and get control of your financial situation.

It is key to understand your rights when deciding to file for bankruptcy. If you are considering filing a bankruptcy, contact the experienced attorneys at Lawrence & Associates. We can help!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


What to Do Immediately After an Automobile Accident

Posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2014 at 2:38 pm    

After an automobile accidentAccording to the a Kentucky Traffic Collision Facts Report, Kentucky reported 150,278 car accidents on public roads. Out of those reported accidents, 37,289 drivers and passengers were injured or killed. Either you or someone you know is overwhelmingly likely to be in a car accident at some point in their lives. If you are involved in a personal injury litigation arising from a car accident, you will greatly benefit from consulting a Northern Kentucky personal injury attorney. Although automobile accidents are unfortunate, there are certain things that a person can do immediately after an accident which can either help or hurt their case.

Automobile Accident Tips 

  1. Stay at the scene – If you are involved in an accident involving injury, or substantial damage to property, stay at the scene of the accident until the police give you the okay to leave. Leaving the scene of an accident can result in driver’s license sanctions and even criminal charges.
  2. Obtain information – If you are involved in an accident, it is always wise to obtain the other driver’s name, address, driver’s license number, insurance information, and license plate number. Moreover, if there are witnesses take down their name, address and telephone number which may prove useful in your case. Obtaining the police officer’s information may also prove useful when obtaining the accident report. Finally, it may be wise to take notes about the accident itself, including the location where the accident occurred, the speed limit, the weather, time of day, how the accident occurred, etc.
  3. Give a statement only to police –  It is best not to make statements to anyone at the accident scene, other than the police. You are not required to give a statement to the other person’s insurance policy.
  4. Seek medical care if you are injured – Seeking medical care immediately following an accident will help halt arguments by the other driver’s insurance company that you were not actually injured in the accident or that your injuries arose from something that occurred after the accident. In certain circumstances, we get cases where a person is injured in an automobile accident but waits until the pain is unbearable before seeking medical treatment. This not only can hurt the injured person’s case, but it also causes the person to suffer from pain unnecessarily.

Although being involved in an automobile accident may be devastating to both you and your family, there’s good news- you may be entitled to compensation! Contact Northern Kentucky law firm Lawrence & Associates today for a free initial consultation with an experienced automobile accident attorney who can evaluate your case and help determine if you should pursue a personal injury action.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


How Personal Injury Settlements Are Handled When They Involve Minors

Posted on Friday, May 9th, 2014 at 1:29 am    

In most states, the parent of a child who has been injured and received a settlement as reparation for those injuries cannot generally access his or her child’s settlement funds.  The reason for this is to protect the child from parents who might use the money to benefit themselves, instead of the child.

“Blocked” Bank Accounts

A court will usually place a child’s settlement money in a “blocked” bank account until the child turns 18. A court will sometimes allow withdrawals from blocked accounts if the funds are needed for the child’s care and well being, and the court is satisfied that the funds are to be used for the benefit of the minor.

In Kentucky

Kentucky courts will generally follow the same rule, although there are certain instances where the courts will grant the parent of a minor access to the full settlement. For example, under the Kentucky Revised Statute 387.280, the custodian of a minor is able to petition to receive the minor’s settlement so long as that settlement is $10,000 or less.

If you or someone you know is dealing with an accident related injury involving a minor child, please contact an experienced Northern Kentucky personal injury lawyer at Lawrence & Associates!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Even If You Don’t Live in Kentucky, Talk to a Northern Kentucky Lawyer if You Where Hurt On the Job in Kentucky

Posted on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 at 10:29 am    

View of Cincinnati Ohio from Kentucky

Because Lawrence & Associates is located along I-75 and conveniently close to Cincinnati, OH, we often help injured workers who live outside the state. It is very common for injured workers to work at a factory or warehouse – such as the Amazon warehouse in Boone County, Kentucky – but live in Ohio or Indiana. If you are injured while working in Kentucky, then you will be covered by Workers’ Compensation in Kentucky! Companies located within the state are not required to have Workers’ Comp insurance in the state where you live.

Kentucky’s law says that your employer has to provide Kentucky Workers’ Compensation to you if any of the following are true…

  1. You mostly work in Kentucky.
  2. You work all over, but were hired in Kentucky. This would be true for a lot of truck drivers who drive all over the country, but report back to a depot in Kentucky and were hired out of that depot.
  3. You work in a state where your employer doesn’t have Workers’ Comp insurance, but were hired in Kentucky. This is true for a lot of people that live in Cincinnati and work out of their homes in Cincinnati, but have been hired by a company in Northern Kentucky.
  4. You work outside the country, but were hired in Kentucky.

The Bottom-line

Basically, if you were injured while working in Kentucky or were hired in Kentucky and got injured elsewhere, you should consider talking to a Kentucky Workers’ Compensation attorney.  At Lawrence & Associates, we have helped many people just like you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries.

If you or someone you know has a Workers’ Comp issue, please contact a Northern Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Attorney today. Melissa Doss and Lawrence & Associates can help!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Ways to Improve Your Credit Score After Bankruptcy

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014 at 2:24 pm    

Declaring bankruptcy is a decision that affects not only your finances but also may affect your credit score. In fact, one of the biggest concerns that people have when considering bankruptcy is how it will affect their credit score. While filing bankruptcy may decrease your credit score short term, it may not affect your credit score as much as you may believe. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it is likely that your credit is already low because of maxed out credit cards, late payments and mounting debt.

Credit Scores and Bankruptcy

Your credit score may also be affected by multiple factors including your payment history, outstanding debts, how long you have been using credit and by the types of credit that you use. It is important that you understand what happens when you file a bankruptcy. A bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, and there is a good chance your FICO score will be low until you have started rebuilding your credit.

Ways to Improve Your Credit Score After Financial Hardship…

  1. Review your credit report – The first thing you should do is obtain a copy of your credit reports and make sure there are no errors or inconsistencies.
  2. Pay bills on time – Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. One of the easiest ways to improve your score is to make sure you pay bills on time.
  3. Apply for credit, but make sure you pay the bill off in full each month – You don’t have to carry balances on your credit cards in order to build good credit.
  4. Beware of credit repair services – You may receive offers from credit repair services promising to help repair your credit. Beware that the fees are high and it’s best to rebuild your credit on your own at no cost.
  5. Know your limits on your credit cards – Once you begin re-establishing credit, it is crucial to know the limits on your credit cards and to keep your balances well below them. Use your cards sparingly and continue paying the bill on time.
  6. Do not close accounts – It’s best to keep the credit lines open, however, if you’re tempted to spend over the credit limit, cut up the cards.

The most important lesson to learn is to be patient. The road to bankruptcy did not happen overnight and neither will the road to improving your credit. By following the guidelines above, you can move toward a better financial future and improved credit score.

If you are a Kentucky resident that is interested in filing bankruptcy, call Lawrence & Associates today. We can help!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

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