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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


Filing a First Report of Injury (FROI) Form is Not the Same as Filing a Claim for Workers’ Compensation

Posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2014 at 3:40 pm    

Workers Comp - Lawrence and AssociatesIn today’s world almost every employer has procedures in place when an employee is injured on the job. In many cases it involves documenting the events that led to the injury and recording them on a form for future use and reference. In Kentucky’s workers’ compensation system, this form is often referred to as a First Report of Injury (or FROI). 

First Report of Injury (or FROI)

In this report, the date and location of the injury and the circumstances surrounding the injury are disclosed. When an employee is injured on the job, the employer works with the injured worker in order to complete the form. Once the form has been completed, it is generally kept on site at the workplace. In addition to being kept on site, the employer should submit this form to the Department of Workers’ Claims in Frankfort, Kentucky. The FROI provides as a documentation of your injury, which can provide helpful information concerning your workers’ compensation claim down the road.

Filing the FROI Isn’t the Same as Filing  a Claim for Worker’s Compensation

Working with your employer to complete and file the FROI is not how an injured worker files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Many injured workers are under the impression that they have filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits by filing a First Report of Injury. This is not true. Filing a First Report of Injury with your employer is helpful in your claim but it is not the same as filing a claim for benefits. It is key to understand the difference between filing a FROI and a workers’ compensation claim because in Kentucky, the statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim is two years from the date of injury or two years after the last temporary total disability payment, whichever comes later. Although a FROI should be completed as soon as an employee is injured, filling out the FROI is insignificant for purposes of the statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim. In other words, you can fill out a FROI and still lose your rights to benefits if you do not get an attorney and file a claim with the Department of Workers’ Claims.

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

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 2014? You Should Get Started Early Due To New Increased Paperwork Requirements

Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2014 at 4:12 pm    

bankruptcy papersMany people filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in October of 2005. It was important to file before the new bankruptcy regulations went into effect later that month. The new bankruptcy regulations were much stricter and would require many Chapter 7 filers to file a Chapter 13 if they waited until November 2005. The rush of Chapter 7 filings in October 2005 helped save many people from ruthless creditors who were trying to take their property or garnish their paychecks.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Can Only Be Filed Every 8 Years

The unfortunate side effect was that all those bankruptcy filers from 2005 were prevented from filing bankruptcy between October 2005 and 2013. The bankruptcy code only permits a Chapter 7 to be filed every eight years. The eight years is measured from the date of the first bankruptcy filing to the date of the second bankruptcy filing. If no discharge is received during the first bankruptcy, then the eight year limitation does not apply. However, most Chapter 7s result in a discharge. Although you can file a Chapter 13 within eight years of receiving a discharge from a prior bankruptcy, there are certain limitations that apply to Chapter 13s as well.

Have You Been Waiting to File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

There are many people in Northern Kentucky that filed bankruptcy eight years ago and have found themselves in the same unfortunate situation now that they were in then. Many have gone through divorce or have had unexpected medical problems. Others still struggle with student loans that they were unable to discharge in the first bankruptcy, and these payments have led to more credit problems. Others were caught in the financial crisis and lost their homes to foreclosure. Whatever the reason, there are many people who have been waiting to file a Chapter 7 and that time is now upon them.

The Latest Generation of Bankruptcy Laws Requires a Great Deal of Paperwork

The most important thing for a Northern Kentucky bankruptcy filer to realize is that the new bankruptcy laws require a great deal of paperwork. If you intend to file bankruptcy in or near the date you are eligible in 2014, you should get started early. The requirements are very different now than they were eight years ago. A Northern Kentucky person filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy today has to do many different things that were not required in 2005. If you don’t consult with an attorney now, you will probably not be ready to file in October.

If you or someone you know may need to file bankruptcy, contact a Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy Lawyer today. Lawrence & Associates can help! We serve all of Northern Kentucky including Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Gallatin and Grant counties! 

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


BANKRUPTCY CASE STUDY: Couple Gets To Keep Their Home After Both Being Laid Off By Using a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2014 at 3:03 pm    

safe homeClient(s) Challenge – Our clients L.S. and P.S., a husband and wife living in Northern Kentucky, got a foreclosure notice in the mail. They had worked really hard to get their house and even harder to get the mortgage modified after they both got laid off a few years ago. Now it looked like all those efforts were for nothing, because the bank was coming to take the house away.

Lawrence and Associates’ Solution – Lawrence and Associates helped L.S. and P.S. file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, with a five year repayment plan to get their mortgage caught up. Their monthly payment was something they could afford to pay, and the bank was not allowed to foreclose on their house.

Results – L.S. and P.S. kept their home and are still living there to this day.

About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you are a Kentucky resident struggling to pay your debts, you need to take action. A Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing can put a stop to foreclosure or repossession actions, as well as wage garnishments, so that you can get a fresh financial start. It will also end the harassing phone calls and letters. You must comply with the terms of any repayment agreement or you will lose these protections, so it is important to have strong legal guidance before agreeing to anything. You want an experienced bankruptcy to protect your interests. At Lawrence & Associates, we provide comprehensive counsel in Chapter 13 bankruptcy matters to people throughout Northern Kentucky. We will take the time to listen carefully to your questions and concerns, and explain the law and the process, as well as your options. We will help you identify your needs and goals, so that we can tailor our counsel to your specific situation.

Experienced Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorneys

If you don’t qualify to permanently discharge debt under Chapter 7 or prefer to set up a new payment plan with your creditors, we will help you reorganize your debt in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. We will prepare and file all the necessary paperwork to complete the process and will represent you in hearings or meetings with creditors, the bankruptcy trustee or the bankruptcy court. We will help you put together a reorganization plan and will review all proposed repayment plans to ensure they are appropriate.

Immediate Relief

When you file for protection under Chapter 13, an automatic stay goes into effect, which prevents your creditors from calling, writing or using any other means to collect the debt, other than through the bankruptcy proceeding. The automatic stay will suspend foreclosure or repossession actions, as well as wage garnishments, giving you time to get back on your feet financially. In many instances, you will be able to reduce the amount you have to pay, sometimes to as little as a penny on the dollar, by entering into agreements with your creditors. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be ideal for someone with large medical bills or credit card debt, allowing you the opportunity to keep most or all of your assets and enter into payment arrangements that are workable.


Northern Kentucky Residents Have a Right to Haggle Over Their Debt

Posted on Friday, April 4th, 2014 at 3:09 pm    

lender callsThere is a pervasive myth in American society that attempting to negotiate down the amount of one’s debt is a bad thing. This myth is designed to keep you poor, and beholden to the interests of the banks, credit card companies, and other lenders that you’ve met during your quest to live a happy, normal life. The truth is that you have every right to negotiate down your debts, and that the lender or collection agency will usually work with you if you stand your ground and dangle a carrot in front of them. Don’t forget that the fees, fines, interest rates, and negative remarks on your credit report are not unchangeable, universal laws physics that cannot be altered. They aren’t laws at all, actually; rather, they are only policies, arbitrarily set by the lender (and often arbitrarily changed by them, too). Policies that are set arbitrarily and changed arbitrarily can be negotiated. Also, don’t forget that the lender you are using is a business, and it is in competition with every other lending business out there. If the lender is faced with a choice of waiving a few late fees or watching you walk to their competitor and pay them exorbitant interest rates for a while, then it’s no choice at all. The lender would much rather work with you than watch you walk to a competing Northern Kentucky business.

Bankruptcy is a Creditor’s Trump Card and a Fresh Start

In a bankruptcy, you have the ability to force the lender to take nothing (or much less than 100%) in return for their loan. Obviously, this is the worst possible outcome for the lender, and you have a Constitutional right to spring it on them at any time. The lenders know this, and this is a principal reason that they continue to perpetrate the myth that rearranging your debt is a sin; absent any legal way to prevent you from using your trump card, they try to convince you that the trump card is evil. Calling bankruptcy a trump card, by the way, is poetry because Donald Trump has filed for bankruptcy on multiple occasions. The belief in this myth is a major way that the thinking of wealthy people and business owners differs from the thinking of the poor and middle classes. Wealthy people and business owners don’t feel bad about filing bankruptcy or re-negotiating debt; it’s just another business decision. That decision should have no different connotations for you.

You Have Rights When Dealing With Lenders

When dealing with a Northern Kentucky lender, remember to be firm and remember that you have rights. The person you are talking to almost certainly has some ability to help you. If not, his or her supervisor does. However, you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. That means you must be polite and calm. Calling them in a temper tantrum won’t solve anything. They don’t have to help you, any more than you have to work that extra shift to pay their bill. If you have a lender that is abusive – including calling you at odd hours, calling friends and family about your debt, calling you at work, or telling you they’ll have you arrested – ask for the person’s name, employee number, direct line, or any other identifying information you can think of. Tell them you are gathering this information in order to file a Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) violation complaint. If that doesn’t change their tone, get a lawyer to deal with them for you. And if the lender really won’t budge, or if you have so many lenders that you can’t pay the bills even if they do try to help you out, then get ready to file a bankruptcy. Bankruptcy wipes the slate clean and gives you a fresh start.

Lawrence & Associates are Northern Kentucky lawyers who fight for the rights of debtors just like you, every day. Lawrence & Associates can help!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Know How Kentucky Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Affects You!

Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2014 at 2:20 pm    

PIP Personal Injury Propection ClaimInsurance policies are generally quite confusing and often vary between insurance companies. Most of them promise you a better rate, or better coverage in the event of an accident. Knowing what some of the standard policies cover will help in choosing the right coverage for you. For example, one thing that does not vary between insurance companies that do business in Kentucky is the minimum PIP coverage. PIP stands for ‘Personal Injury Protection’ (also known as Basic Reparation Benefits in other states). In Kentucky, every car insurance company licensed to sell insurance in the Commonwealth is required to provide $10,000 of minimum No-Fault benefits in the case of an automobile accident. This minimum benefit amount is per person, and it covers medical expenses and/or wage losses attributed to the accident.

PIP also may allow for an extension of time in which you may file a claim resulting from an automobile accident. Generally speaking, in Kentucky the statute of limitations is two (2) years from the date of the accident/collision.[1] However, if PIP benefits are paid, then the statute of limitations will be extended by two (2) years after the LAST PIP payment. For example, let’s say you’re involved in a car crash while driving on I-71 in Kentucky on January 1, 2014. You will have until January 1, 2016 to file a claim/suit against the other driver (assuming a valid claim exists against him/her). However, if you are injured in that car accident and your last medical bill is paid by your PIP on July 1, 2014, you will have until July 1, 2016 to file the lawsuit.

If you or someone you know is dealing with an accident related injury in Kentucky or Ohio and have questions regarding PIP, workers’ compensation, or other things regarding an injury claim, please do not hesitate to contact Lawrence & Associates for more information and assistance. We can help!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

[1] KRS 304.39-230(6)

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