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What Will Happen to My Spouse If I File Bankruptcy?

Posted on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 at 9:59 am    

There are a lot of reasons to file a bankruptcy, and there are even more reasons to not want your spouse involved. From our Northern Kentucky office, Lawrence & Associates has filed thousands of bankruptcies and seen hundreds of scenarios where it would benefit the people in debt to have only one spouse file for bankruptcy. While we’ve discussed the effect on a non-filing husband or wife when their spouse needs to file bankruptcy before, there are many angles to this question that appear in multiple blog posts rather than all in the same place. This post will consolidate that information.

How Do You Decide Whether Both Husband and Wife Need to File Bankruptcy Together?

The most important consideration here is determining which debts are driving you toward bankruptcy, and whose name the debts are in. Debts that were obtained in both spouses’ names will make each spouse jointly and severally liable for payment of that debt. For example, if you are behind on your credit card payments and afraid of getting sued, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is one way to get out from under that high interest rate debt. But who signed the credit card agreement and whose name is the account in? If only the husband or only the wife signed, then only that spouse will need to file bankruptcy. But if both spouses signed the agreement or have cards in their names, then both spouses MUST file bankruptcy to wipe out the debt. If only one spouse files, then the credit card company can still sue the non-filing spouse.

If you don’t know whether you might be liable for your husband or wife’s debt, the answer depends on where you live. We covered Kentucky’s equitable division rules previously in this blog, but only at the state level. At the county level, even in an area as small as Northern Kentucky’s seven counties, there is wide variation depending on the judges involved. Boone and Gallatin Counties have one family law judge; Kenton and Campbell counties each have their own family law judge; Pendleton and Robertson Counties share a family law judge with other counties outside the Northern Kentucky area, and; Grant, Bracken, and Mason Counties don’t have a family law judge at all! This wide variation creates a great deal of variability, but usually both spouses will be liable for debt even if only one spouse took out the debt. However, Lawrence & Associates’ attorneys are skilled at finding exceptions to the general rule, so ask before you assume this will apply to you.

Map of Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Pendleton, Mason, Bracken, and Robertson Counties in Northern Kentucky
Map of Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Pendleton, Mason, Bracken, and Robertson Counties in Northern Kentucky

One thing to bear in mind is that leaving one spouse’s name off of the bankruptcy will not affect what kind of bankruptcy you can file. High income earners must file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, because federal law will not allow anyone to file a Chapter 7 if they are making more than median income for their state. However, that median income is the income of the household, not the person filing. So, for example, assume a Northern Kentucky family makes above median income because the wife is a highly paid doctor, while the husband is disabled. Even if only the husband has debt and only the husband needs to file bankruptcy, the husband will be forced into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy because the wife’s income raises the total household income above median. Leaving the doctor off the bankruptcy will protect her credit, but will not change the husband’s bankruptcy from a 13 to a 7.

Will Filing Bankruptcy Affect My Spouse’s Credit?

In general, credit is linked to a social security number, and only the bankruptcy filer’s social security number appears on the bankruptcy filing. Each person has a separate credit file for credit reporting purposes. Your debts, if the debts are truly yours alone, are not supposed to show in your spouse’s credit report. Similarly, your bankruptcy should not show in your spouse’s file if you have no joint debts.

Will My Spouse Have to Come to Court or Be Involved?

Your spouse will certainly know a bankruptcy has been filed – the court and your attorney will mail things to your home – but your spouse should not have to attend any hearings or meetings with an attorney in the vast majority of cases.

Will Anyone Notify My Spouse’s Employer?

It is illegal for a creditor to notify your employer or your spouse’s employer, or any family members, landlords, etc. in an attempt to collect a debt. Further, the bankruptcy court only sends notices to people listed on the bankruptcy, including the debtors, the creditors, and any co-signers. As long as your husband’s or wife’s employer doesn’t fall into those categories, there is no reason the employer should find out about the bankruptcy.

One exception to this rule would occur if you choose to have your Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment (which goes to the Chapter 13 Trustee) pulled directly from your spouse’s paycheck. A paycheck garnishment is the most common way to make this payment, and the filing spouse sometimes between jobs, or has some other circumstance that makes pulling the payment from the non-filing husband or wife’s paycheck the most attractive option.

If you have any other questions about this topic, please call our Fort Mitchell, Kentucky office at 859-371-5997. We are one of the largest bankruptcy filers in Northern Kentucky and helped over 3,000 clients. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

A Northern Kentucky Tragedy, and What a Car Accident Lawyer Should Do

Posted on Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 at 1:02 pm    

By now, everyone is familiar with the tragic accident that took the lives of Rodney Pollitt, Samantha Malohn, and their three children. Because this firm represented Mr. Pollitt and several members of Ms. Malohn’s family in the past, the news hit us especially hard. When lawyers are at their best, they seek justice. In one way, justice is already coming for the man that caused this tragedy. Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders will charge the other driver with five counts of murder for his role in the collision. That is criminal justice, but Lawrence & Associates is in the business of civil justice.

The civil justice system is the process of suing for money. That can be a lawsuit over injuries or deaths, such as what happened to the Pollitt family, or business suing each other over contracts, or many other things. There are a few forms of civil justice that might apply to the tragic deaths of the Pollitt family. First and most obvious, the driver of the other vehicle probably had automobile insurance that would cover the accident, although that might be as small as $25,000.00, the state minimum limit. Second, the Pollitt family’s car insurance should provide coverage, in the form of Uninsured Motorist Coverage if the other driver didn’t have insurance, or Underinsured Motorist Coverage if the other driver just didn’t have enough insurance. Third, and less obvious, a qualified law firm would do a complete background check of the other driver to find out whether he had any other insurance coverage that would cover the collision. For example, many people with high paying jobs or lots of assets will get an “Umbrella” policy that will provide another million dollars of coverage (or more) in the event of tragic losses. Uninsured, underinsured, and umbrella policies are where many people make mistakes when they try to handle their own insurance claims. If the family is too quick to sign off on the first $25,000.00 in coverage, they may accidentally waive their right to any additional insurance coverage.

In addition to the insurance for the at-fault driver and the deceased family, a good law firm needs to look into a Dram Shop claim against the golf course where the at-fault driver was allegedly drinking before the collision. A dram shop claim arises whenever a bar or similar business sells alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, or to a minor. At this time, news reports have not covered this possibility, and so we don’t know whether the golf course might be liable under the dram shop laws. But given the scope of this tragedy, the possibility should be investigated.

Finally, an accident investigator should pull the black box from the at-fault driver’s car and inspect all the major mechanical systems. Almost all newer model cars now have a (black box [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/black%20box]), which records all the driving data up to the point of a collision. It will tell speed, whether the brakes were hit, how the steering wheel was turned, etc. There is always an outside chance that the at-fault driver’s car had some malfunction that prevented him from steering or braking. If so, that doesn’t necessarily absolve the at-fault driver from liability, but it could lead to additional liability for the car manufacturer, or anyone that had recently worked on the mechanical system that failed.

Both criminal and civil justice are important, and Lawrence & Associates hopes the surviving members of the Pollitt family get full justice through the American Courts of Law.

10 “Tricks” to Keeping Your Kids Safe This Halloween

Posted on Monday, October 30th, 2017 at 9:50 am    

By Karley G. Michels
glow-lightsIt’s that time of year again! All of the little ghosts, goblins (or ninja turtles) of the neighborhood will be at your doorstep asking for a sweet treat tonight. According to The Globe and Mail, most parents consider letting their kids trick-or-treat by themselves on Halloween night around the ages of 9 and 10. Allowing them to take off by themselves (in the dark) can generate a great deal of worry for a parent on Halloween night. And let’s face it, the adults want to have fun too, so here are 10 tricks (pun intended) that can help you worry less about your little creatures on Halloween night.

  1. Have them wear (or carry) something reflective – Especially if they insist on wearing an all-black costume. Get creative: use reflective tape from the hardware store to stick across their candy bags or buckets. Wearing or carrying something reflective is a great way to keep your little one in sight of neighborhood-intruding vehicles. Bright costumes are always a good idea.
  2. Give them glow sticks! – Who doesn’t like a good glow stick? They’re cheap and keep your child visible in the dark.
  3. face paintingHave your child carry a flashlight – Put it to use after it gets dark! This can be great for locating objects on the ground that can cause them to trip and fall.
  4. Eat no treats until an adult checks them – Check all of your child’s candy before allowing them to eat it. Throw out all candy with torn or open packages. If it looks suspicious, don’t eat it!
  5. Don’t eat homemade treats – Unless you absolutely know and trust the person handing them out, don’t chance it!
  6. Check ingredients on candy wrappers – If your child has a dye or nut allergy, it is important to check the ingredients before they eat the candy.
  7. Masks block vision! – Consider non-toxic face paint in place of a mask.
  8. Walk on sidewalks – Keep your kids safe by teaching them to walk on the sidewalk as far away from the street as possible and to always look both ways before crossing the street.
  9. Keep your little ones close by – If you think your child should not be able to walk the neighborhood by themselves, keep them close.
  10. Use the Buddy System – If your kids are old enough to walk without an adult, make sure they have a friend to walk with. Tell them to watch out for each other and stay safe!

Halloween night should be a fun and exciting night for kids of all ages. This doesn’t mean that you can’t take every precautious measure there is in the book to make sure your child is safe during the event. Happy Halloween from Lawrence & Associates!

The Dayton, Ohio Red-Light Camera Dispute – What do I Need to Know?

Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 at 11:21 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Caitlin DiCrease, a law student from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

What is the law on Red-Light Cameras in Ohio?

Speeding and the running of red lights are two of the most common traffic violations across the United States. In order to combat these problems, many cities installed cameras on roadways and in intersections that would take photos or videos of vehicles committing traffic violations. Law enforcement would review the tapes and ticket the vehicles that were recorded doing something illegal, such as moving above the posted speed limit or running a stop-light. The tickets would then be mailed to the individual listed on the vehicle’s registration. These cameras have been challenged in several states – people believe they are inaccurate, not cost-effective, are intended only to catch more speeders and increase police revenues from tickets, and that they could even infringe upon constitutional rights. Those who favor the cameras say that they free up police officers’ time, so that they no longer need to spend as much time catching traffic violators and can focus on more serious crimes.

Red-light cameras, those posted at intersections to catch drivers who run red-lights, are currently permitted in twenty-one states. Ohio cities, including Dayton, had been using red-light cameras in the early 2000s to ticket drivers who committed traffic violations. People who had been ticked by the use of the red-light cameras brought lawsuits, claiming that the use of red-light cameras was unlawful. In 2008, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that traffic camera use is legal, citing the “home-rule” authority of Ohio municipalities. Home-rule authority is the right of a local government to regulate actions within its boundaries in order to protect the public. This protection includes police activities, such as preventing car accidents by enforcing traffic laws and speed limits. As a result of this case, cities were told that they were permitted to install traffic cameras if they chose to do so. The court again ruled that the use of traffic cameras was legal in 2015.

However, in 2014, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 342, which created new regulations for the use of traffic cameras across the state of Ohio. The regulation at the heart of the red-light camera issue is the requirement that a full-time police officer must be present where the traffic cameras are operating. In order to obey the new law, cities would have to station a police officer at each intersection where a red-light camera was being used. This would be very costly for cities and would make the red-light cameras much less valuable to law enforcement. As a result, many cities stopped their red-light camera programs. The 2014 law carries additional costly requirements, such as a lengthy study of traffic conditions at each site where a camera is to be installed prior to installation of the traffic camera.

What Happened in Dayton?

Dayton, Ohio had begun installing and using red-light cameras in 2002. There are more than three dozen traffic cameras in Dayton, which were used to catch both red-light and speed violations. When the Ohio General Assembly passed its 2014 law limiting the use of red-light cameras and requiring a police officer be present when the camera is in use, the city of Dayton filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio.

Dayton argues that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the city’s home-rule authority. Dayton also argues that the 2014 law was created to impose impossibly harsh burdens on states that wanted to use traffic cameras so that the cities would stop using the cameras. The attorneys for the city believe that this law is an illegal use of the state’s power to regulate the city’s ability to control local policing and regulation of traffic laws. They also claim that the cost of completing traffic studies and paying police to physically monitor the areas where cameras are installed is too high, and defeats the purpose of the cameras. The city says that the 2014 law creates an effective ban on traffic cameras by making their use far too costly to be productive.

Meanwhile, the state of Ohio argues that the 2014 law was intended to create a uniform framework for automated traffic camera use across the state. The lawyers for Ohio claim that the Ohio Constitution only grants limited policing powers to cities under their home-rule authority, and that a uniform law governing the use of traffic cameras is beneficial to Ohio citizens. They say it would be confusing for drivers to have different traffic regulations in each city that they drive through. The state argues that, much like a city would be unable to use blue stop signs, it should not be able to use traffic cameras in a way that is different from other areas of the state.
The case is currently being considered by the Ohio Supreme Court. The court will rule on the Dayton case, as well as similar cases involving traffic cameras in the cities of Springfield and Toledo.

What will the Ohio Supreme Court do?

Hopefully, the court will rule on the whether or not the 2014 law is constitutional so that cities across the state know the standard requirements for traffic camera usage. While it is impossible to know exactly how the court will rule on the Dayton case, the Ohio Supreme Court has issued earlier rulings in 2008 and 2015 stating that the use of traffic cameras in Ohio is legal. It is possible that the court will find the 2014 law to be an unconstitutional infringement on a city’s home-rule authority and ability to implement programs for the safety of the public. However, the state’s arguments in favor of a statewide, uniform regulation for the use of traffic cameras may be convincing enough for the court to rule in favor of the city of Dayton.

Oral arguments in Dayton v. State were heard by the justices of the Ohio Supreme Court on January 10, 2017. The justices will take time to consider their decision and issue a ruling. Typically, the Ohio Supreme Court takes four to six months to release decisions, so a ruling on the Dayton red-light camera issue is likely to be published between May and July of 2017.

What do I Need to Know About Red-Light Camera Use in Ohio?

Currently, most cities in Ohio are not using red-light cameras because of the cost of having a police officer present at the camera locations while the cameras are in use. This means that you are unlikely to be ticketed by a traffic camera in the state of Ohio, however, there are some areas that are still using select red-light cameras. If you were recently ticketed by a red-light camera, a police officer was required to be physically present in the immediate area for the ticket to be valid. If the city has not complied with the 2014 requirements, you can challenge your ticket successfully.

However, if the Ohio Supreme Court strikes down the requirements, cities will again use traffic cameras to ticket people for speeding and running stop-lights. At that point, cities will likely add more traffic cameras to record traffic violations, and if you speed or run a light in view of one of these cameras, you will be ticketed. Drivers should keep an eye out for the court’s decision, and, as always, you should drive carefully and legally for the protection of yourself and those around you.

Legal Fee Arbitration — Knowing Your Rights as a Lawyer

Posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2016 at 11:53 am    

Follow the link to read Justin Lawrence’s most recent article in The Advocate, educating Kentucky attorneys about Kentucky’s fee arbitration system that acts as an alternative to costly civil suits over legal fees.

Legal Fee Arbitration — Knowing Your Rights as a Lawyer

Client Appreciation for Renee Chase

Posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2016 at 2:35 pm    

Renee Chase, one of our valued Workers’ Compensation paralegals, recently received a surprise bouquet of flowers from a grateful client.  Lawrence & Associates values customer service and encourages employees to go the extra mile to help our clients through trying times.  Renee does a wonderful job, and our clients clearly appreciate her.

Thank you Renee!


Join Us as We Restore Trees in Buena Vista Park

Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 at 7:28 am    

buenavistaparkIn the fall of 2015, vandals destroyed newly planted saplings at the Buena Vista Park in Newport, Kentucky. Lawrence & Associates heard about this criminal act through the Newport Parks Renaissance Commission’s Facebook posts, and offered to help. After six months of planning and a short winter, we are ready to help the Newport Parks Renaissance Commission re-plant the trees and restore the park.

The attorneys and staff of Lawrence & Associates will be donating their time and money to help the Newport Parks Renaissance Commission enhance the beauty of Buena Vista Park in Newport Kentucky.

Justin L. Lawrence, owner-operator of Lawrence & Associates, vouched to personally help with a donation and his own two hands when he was notified that multiple trees of Buena Vista Park had been destroyed by vandals. Since his initial pledge, multiple other members of Lawrence & Associates’ staff have now also pledged their time to restoring these trees and improving the park.

We ask that you please stop by Buena Vista Park, W 12th Street, Newport, Kentucky 41017 on April 9, 2016 at 9:00am to show your support for these wonderful volunteers.

Social Media and Lawsuits – What You Say Can Be Used Against You by a Defense Attorney

Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2016 at 12:39 pm    

The American Association for Justice creates Trial Magazine, which discusses best practices for trial attorneys and their clients. A recent article on the use of social media by litigants gave ten excellent pointers.

socialmediaFor years, judges have allowed defense attorneys to look at social media accounts. Although this may not seem like a big deal at first (don’t teenagers allow everyone to see what they are doing on social media, all the time?), it can get very invasive. For example, let’s say you have a Facebook account that is set to private so no one can see what you post unless they are a friend. Then let’s say you were hurt in a car accident, and you sent instant messages to a friend on Facebook about the accident, but did not post about the accident on your wall. American case law says defense attorneys can force you to turn over the password for your entire Facebook account, and that the defense attorney can look through every instant message in the account and at every post you ever made to your wall, even if they have nothing to do with the car accident!

By comparison, when police enter a criminal’s home they are only allowed to look in the exact areas that a judge has specified in a subpoena – if the allegation is that they make meth in their basement, the police can go to the basement but may not be able to go through the bedroom drawers. In other words, Facebook users in a car accident have less of a right to online privacy from defense attorneys than meth manufacturers do from the police.

With that in mind, here are ten tips from the American Association for Justice to preserve your online privacy and still have a shot at getting justice in a lawsuit:

  1. Archive the contents of your current accounts – don’t just delete things; make sure there is a backup. Most social media sites will give you directions on how to do this.
  2. Deactivate or stop using your social media accounts. If you can’t deactivate, then after you archive you should delete any information about your injury.
  3. Turn on the highest privacy settings – make sure only your friends can see your information.
  4. Know who your friends are! Make lists of close friends and, if you are going to post during your lawsuit, only post to those close friends. Also, don’t accept random friend requests from people you don’t know.
  5. Become invisible by selecting “only friends” under the “search visibility” option in Facebook. Google Plus has a similar feature by unchecking the box for “Public Search Listing”.
  6. Remove all photos of yourself that are not head shots. Defense lawyers will use your private photos at trial!
  7. Anything you write can be used against you. What seems like a funny joke on Facebook might not seem too funny in a courtroom, and sarcasm doesn’t always come through! Think before you post.
  8. Keep all computers, tablets, or cell phones until the trial is over, even if you get a new one. Defense lawyers sometimes accuse you of destroying evidence if you don’t keep these.
  9. Don’t send messages about the case through instant messenger. Ever.
  10. Don’t join websites or web chat groups, even if they are about the law. Defense lawyers are allowed to troll these sites to try to pick up damaging information about you!

Lawrence & Associates – A Tech Savvy Law Firm

Lawrence & Associates is up to date on technological advances, and as a result we offer better protection from intrusive defense attorneys to our clients than many other firms. If you or someone you know had an accident in Kentucky but lives elsewhere, please do not hesitate to contact Lawrence & Associates for more information and assistance. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we can help!

Spotlight On Pete Tripp

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2015 at 9:28 am    

Learn more about Pete Tripp, the Senior Associate at Lawrence & Associates

Pete-TrippHow long have you been in practice?

Since 2012. I have been with Lawrence and associates since early 2015. I am admitted in Ohio and Kentucky. Prior to practicing law, my career was in sales, and retail management.

Describe your area of practice.

I head the workers’ compensation practice at Lawrence and Associates, which takes about seventy percent of my time. I practice personal injury, which takes about twenty five percent of my time, the remainder is spent on developing employees and the law office to promote an efficient client-driven organization.

Why did you choose these practice areas?

I would say they chose me. I always wanted to be a litigator, my late father in law was a judge in Ohio, and I excelled in trial advocacy at law school. I represented the law school on the national trial team, helping fill the trophy cabinet along the way. I now teach that class as an adjunct professor. Specifically I chose my position at Lawrence & Associates based on my background. I already had experience as a personal injury attorney with a large Ohio firm, and I had worked in workers’ compensation as a defense attorney for a couple of years before transitioning to exclusively representing injured people.

What attracted you to these areas of practice?

A sense of justice. I have seen first-hand many occasions where the insurance company holds all the cards and the injured worker gets a bad outcome. This simply did not sit well with my personality. I prefer to fight for the injured party rather than protect the wallets of insurance companies. I bring my experience from defense work to aid the injured worker, and to me that feels like it is the right thing to do. I became a lawyer to help people. At Lawrence & Associates, that is the goal. So these practice areas help me achieve that in a firm that shares my ideals.

What makes you or your practice stand out?

Commitment, determination, and advocacy. I begin every case as if it is going to trial. By doing so, we are better prepared to fight for our clients. Because I have a management background, I bring business experience that is simply not taught to lawyers and I use that to make the firm more efficient. The end goal is rapid results-driven recoveries for our clients.

What is the biggest success you have had?

I don’t believe attorneys should look at cases as their successes. The focus should be on whether the client considers the case a success. I suppose the biggest success I have had is in developing a team that believes the goal is to exceed our clients’ expectations. If the client is happy, I’m happy.

What is your favorite part of running your practice?

When a client breathes that sigh of relief because they know we are there for them. I tell my clients that it is my job to worry about their cases, so they don’t have to.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Big insurance companies. They have all the money, and a system in place that quickly operates against the injured person when they choose to deny a claim. I know what to do when the system turns against my client, but I try to stop that happening in the first place when I can. That is always a challenge,

Do you have any special education, background or skills? What unique talents do you bring to your practice?

I was a person before I was a lawyer! My background includes over a decade of management experience and I bring that experience to my client’s cases. My career has taken me from London, England to the USA with an almost two year spell in Warsaw, Poland in between. Living in other countries gives you other perspectives. I use those perspectives when I strategize over a case. I hold teaching and training qualifications, which hone my skills as a negotiator, I use them to get the best deals I can for my clients.

What is the best advice that you received and who did it come from?

Never give up. My Dad.

Tort Reform, and How It Hurts Us

Posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 at 8:24 am    

KY_State_CapitolRumor has it that tort reform will be on the legislative agenda in Kentucky in 2016, based on leaks from Matt Bevin’s transition team meetings. Tort reform is great for insurance companies, but hurts average state citizens. To get an idea of how much it can hurt an average citizen, Lawrence & Associates is going to share a current case study (with the identifying data removed or rounded) that compares how an injured person can be compensated in Ohio for medical bills, and in Kentucky for the same medical bills.

Lawrence & Associates’ Client, His Injuries, and His Medical Bills

Our client, Mr. W, was injured while driving his car. He had a leg amputated and a hip fractured, and had extensive therapy so he could re-learn how to walk. After a thorough police investigation, the other driver was found to be at fault. Fortunately, the other driver had excellent automobile insurance, with policy limits high enough to cover all of Mr. W’s medical bills.

Mr. W has over $850,000.00 in medical bills. He had health insurance that paid about $100,000.00 of the medical bills, leaving the other $750,000.00 to be written off. In Ohio, they have enacted tort reform. As part of that tort reform, Ohio’s case law Robinson v. Bates states that the automobile insurance policy for the at-fault driver only has to pay the $100,000.00 that was paid by the health insurance company. In Kentucky, there is no tort reform. Kentucky’s case, Baptist Healthcare v. Miller, says that the at-fault driver has to pay the full $850,000.00 in medical bills. (Bear in mind that, in any event, there is enough insurance coverage to pay all the medical bills, so the driver himself would not be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars). What happens to the $750,000.00 when you cross the border from Kentucky to Ohio is the essence of tort reform.

Who Profits from Tort Reform?

How can two neighboring states reach such totally different positions on such a simple issue? It would seem obvious that the medical bills should be paid by the insurance policy. That is, after all, why we have insurance. However, years of lobbying dollars by insurance companies has muddled that logic and created a huge windfall for these multi-billion dollar businesses.

Kentucky adheres to the “common law,” developed over the centuries from the founding of America, while Ohio uses statutes passed within the last decade. In Kentucky, the logic of the common law is that someone that does something wrong should have to pay to fix what they did wrong. Thus, someone that causes $850,000.00 in medical bills should have to pay the full amount. If the injured person has health insurance that takes care of the medical bills, then the injured person gets the benefit of both policies. If there is a windfall, then Kentucky says Mr. W should get the windfall as part of his compensation for losing his leg.

Ohio’s statutes, on the other hand, were passed with the goal of limiting anyone’s right to recover in court, and most especially seriously injured people like Mr. W. Ohio says that the person who did something wrong only has to pay for that wrong to the extent that the injured person has to re-pay his or her insurance company to cover the bill. So if Mr. W’s insurance policy covers $100,000.00 and Mr. W has to pay that back, then automobile insurance company for the person who hurt Mr. W only has to pay $100,000.00. In Ohio, the windfall goes to the insurance company that has cleverly avoided paying $750,000.00 in damages.

Is Tort Reform Right for Kentucky?

All of us who drive on the road have the potential to be Mr. W. That is an ugly fact, but a true one, so we all must ask ourselves whether Kentucky or Ohio is right. When one person hurts another person, does the first person have the duty to pay the second person for the full amount of the damages? Put another way, should the other driver’s automobile insurance company have paid for all the medical bills Mr. W received when he lost his leg? Tort reform says no, that the car insurance company should keep the money. At Lawrence & Associates, we respectfully suggest that everyone in Kentucky should call their state legislator and express serious concern about Mr. W’s case happening again and again, right here in Kentucky.

If you have been involved in an accident, please contact us. We’ve helped thousands of people recover for their injuries, and our testimonials reflect the quality of our work. We are working hard for the working class, and we want to work for you. Call today!

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