Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our frequently asked questions page. Below are some of the most common questions that clients ask us regarding their personal injury, real estate, bankruptcy, and property damage claims. We hope you find this information helpful, and please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions or concerns.

A: A simple way to think of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is to imagine it as a garage sale, except all the money made goes to creditors. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, which is sometimes called “liquidation” bankruptcy, is a legal proceeding and allows businesses and individuals to pay back their debts from their personal assets. It usually involves liquidating or selling assets, whether that be jewelry, cars, or houses, to pay off creditors and pull themselves out of debt.

A: For the most part, yes, individuals are able to keep certain assets. The most common assets that individuals can keep include their primary residence, a mode of transportation, and other personal items. These are known as “exempt assets,” and what qualifies under this exemption varies by state. In Florida, the most common exemptions that are granted by the court are the homestead and limited personal property exemptions.

A: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can eliminate most unsecured debts, such as credit card debt, medical bills, and personal loans. However, student loan and tax debts, which are known as recent or secured debts, cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy.

A: Yes, but there are stipulations in place. Once you have been discharged from Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you are ineligible to discharge unsecured debt again for eight years. However, you are still allowed to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A: It depends on the complexity of your specific case, as well as the court system you are working with. A common timeline for the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy process across all jurisdictions is between three to six months.

A:  The short answer is yes; when you first file, it will impact your credit score negatively. However, in most cases, when people file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, chances are their credit score is already poor. The upside of filing is it can help you eliminate your debt so you can start rebuilding your credit score. You can start getting your payments in on time for secured debts, which will help bring your score up.

A: Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy that allows individuals to create a payment plan that helps reorganize their debts. This type of Bankruptcy usually spans three to five years. Individuals who opt for this type of Bankruptcy typically want to keep their assets or businesses as opposed to selling or dissolving them.

A: In most situations, you are able to keep your house and your car in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Because this type of Bankruptcy works off a repayment plan, the payments are more manageable and allow you to keep your assets. Before you set up a payment plan, it is very important to speak to a bankruptcy attorney who knows the court system and can help you sort your assets and help weigh your options before proceeding.

A: The Chapter 13 bankruptcy process is much lengthier than Chapter 7 because of the structure. Because you are on a payment plan, it takes longer to slowly repay your debts than to sell or dissolve your assets like Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It is important to stay on top of your payment plan and consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to come up with a plan that is feasible. If you fail to keep up with your payments, your debts will revert to the point prior to filing bankruptcy, plus any fees and costs accrued over that time.

A: One of the benefits of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is that oftentimes individuals are able to keep their assets while slowly repaying their debt. Therefore, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can prevent foreclosure on your property and give you time to catch up on your missed mortgage payments through your repayment plan.

A: No, you will not lose all your property if you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The reason why Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is appealing is that it allows the safeguarding of assets while simultaneously paying off debts. This occurs through a repayment plan, which also allows a reduction in interest rates and other charges.

A: You are able to file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy if you are self-employed. It will require more documentation and paperwork regarding your income, but you are still able to file and successfully complete the repayment plan.

A: Chapter 13 Bankruptcy offers several benefits. Some of the most appealing benefits include mortgage loan modification, student loan programs, price reduction of personal property, discharge of unsecured debt like credit cards and medical bills, and elimination of second mortgages and association arrears. These benefits work in tandem with paying off your debt while also keeping your assets.

A: If you’ve been injured in an accident, there are several steps you should take to protect your health and legal rights.

  1. The first is to immediately seek medical attention. Even if you do not feel your injuries are serious, it is important to have a paper trail of documentation.
  2. The second thing to do is to file a police report. It is important to call the police soon after the accident, while the details are still fresh in the mind.
  3. The next thing to do is to gather as much evidence as possible. Take pictures of injuries, gather documents and witness statements, and find any other revenant information.
  4. Once you have done that, contact a knowledgeable injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

A: If you’ve been injured in a personal injury case, you may qualify to recover damages. The number of damages an individual may qualify for depends on each specific case, but common examples include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

A: In Florida, the typical length of time an individual has to file a personal injury claim is two years. This two year clause is known as the statute of limitations, and is common in many aspects of the justice system. It is possible to qualify for an exception to the statute of limitations, so it is important to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine if your timeline for filing a claim.

A: The value of your personal injury case depends on a number of factors. These include the severity of your injuries, the impact the injury has on your daily life, and the extent of your medical expenses. This may seem overwhelming at first, so hiring a skilled personal injury attorney can help the process of determining the monetary potential value of your case and fighting for what you deserve.

A: Yes, you may still be able to file a personal injury claim even if you were partially at fault for the accident.

A: If the person who caused your injury does not have insurance, you may still be able to recover damages through your own insurance policy. Florida law requires drivers to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which covers lost wages and medical expenses up to a given amount. You also could be able to file a claim with your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

A: Florida law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, so if you were injured at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other injury-related costs. An important distinction to keep in mind is workers’ compensation claims are typically separate from personal injury claims. Therefore, they have different requirements and procedures.

A: If you were injured by a defective product, you may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the product. Product liability claims can be complex and require extensive investigation and analysis, so it’s important to work with an attorney who has experience in this area of law.

A: If you were injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you might qualify to file a premises liability claim against the property owner or manager. Property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition and warn visitors of any known hazards.

A: The length of time it takes to resolve a personal injury case will depend on the specific details of your case, including the severity of your injuries, the amount of damages involved, and the complexity of the legal issues. When cases go through negotiation or mediation, they are resolved sooner. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide you with a better understanding of the timeline for your case based on the specific facts involved.

A: There may be options available if you cannot afford medical treatment for your injuries. For example, you may be able to receive medical treatment through your own health insurance or Medicaid/Medicare. Furthermore, there are select healthcare providers that may work with you at a reduced rate or they may offer a payment plan if you don’t have insurance.

A: While you are not required to have an attorney represent you in a personal injury case, it’s highly recommended. A seasoned injury attorney can help you navigate the complex legal system, negotiate with insurance companies, and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

A: At our personal injury law firm, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we only get paid if you win your case. Our fees are typically a percentage of the total settlement or award, and we do not charge any upfront fees or costs.

A: Property damage refers to any harm or destruction to a person’s property caused by external circumstances. There are many different types of property damage, including damage caused by:

  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes
  • Accidents or negligence
  • Intentional acts

A: The first thing you should do if your property has been damaged is to document it. Take photos and notes on the damage so you can refer back to it later. The next step in the process is working with your insurance company. They will probably send an adjuster to assess the damage to your property and determine the amount of compensation you’re entitled to. This is why it is important to document all damage, as well as any repairs you make. Keep receipts for your expenses; they will be important for the adjuster to have.

A: While it’s not required to hire an attorney for a property damage claim, it’s highly recommended. Insurance companies typically have large teams of lawyers who will try to minimize the amount of money the insurance company has to pay out. Hiring a tenacious attorney could help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.

A: Some of the most common damages recovered in property damage claims include the cost of repairs and the value of any lost or damaged property. Other damages you can cover from a property damage claim include compensation for emotional distress, lost wages, and other damages, depending on the circumstances of your case.

A: Yes, you have the right to dispute the insurance company’s assessment of your damages. If the assessment does not meet your standards with the amount of coverage offered by your insurance company, consider hiring an attorney as the next step. Experienced attorneys know how to navigate the claims process and help negotiate a fair settlement or file a lawsuit when necessary.

A: Whether you hire a lawyer for your property damage claim depends on the complexity of your case and your comfort level in handling legal matters on your own. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Insurance policies can be complex: Insurance policies contain complicated language that may be difficult to understand, especially when it comes to determining coverage and exclusions. When you hire a lawyer, they help translate this difficult language, while also fighting for the coverage you are entitled to under the terms of your policy.
  • Insurance companies are not always cooperative: Insurance companies will likely minimize the amount of coverage they offer for damages or delay the claims process. It can be daunting to go up against that alone, so a lawyer can help you navigate this process. Lawyers can also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and ensure that your claim is handled fairly and in a timely manner.
  • Legal proceedings may be necessary: If the insurance company denies or claim or does not offer a fair settlement, you may need to file a lawsuit to recover the damages you are entitled to. An seasoned lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and represent your interests in court.

Hiring a lawyer can help ensure that your legal rights are protected and will fight for you to receive the full amount of coverage you are entitled to under your insurance policy. If you are unsure about your next steps or whether you need a lawyer for your first property damage claim, it is always a good idea to consult a knowledgeable attorney to weigh your options.

A: Foreclosure is a legal process by which a lender seeks to recover the balance of a loan by forcing the sale of the property that secured the loan. In Florida, the legalities are a bit more specific. According to Florida regulations, foreclosure is a judicial process, and therefore it must go through the court system. How this works is the lender files a lawsuit against the borrower,  and depending on the outcome, the court will issue a final judgment of foreclosure. If the lender wins the case, the property is then sold at auction to the highest bidder.

A: A foreclosure defense attorney is well-versed in the law and specializes in helping homeowners facing foreclosure. They can help you understand your rights, the options you have moving forward, and will represent you in court. While it is not required to hire an attorney, having one on your side can greatly increase your chances of successfully fighting foreclosure and keeping your home.

A: If you’re facing foreclosure in Florida, you have several options, which are listed below. It is important to note each option has advantages and disadvantages, so consulting an attorney can help determine what option is best for you.

  1. Loan modification
  2. Refinancing
  3. Short sale
  4. Deed in lieu of foreclosure
  5. Filing for bankruptcy

A: There are a multitude of factors that can influence how long Florida’s foreclosure process can take. The time frame can range from several months to several years. The variables that play into the timeframe may include how complex a case is, whether there is a backlog of cases in the area, and whether you decide to contest the foreclosure. It is of the upmost importance to move swiftly if you are facing foreclosure in order to have adequate time to explore your legal options.

A: Not necessarily. Foreclosure may result in losing your home; however, there are a multitude of legal options available that could allow you to maintain your property. It is of the utmost importance to work with a foreclosure defense attorney to understand all your legal options and map out the best course of action for your unique circumstances.

A: Loan modification is a process that allows homeowners to modify the terms of their mortgage loan. The aim of this process is to ensure the loan is current while simultaneously making monthly mortgage payments affordable and manageable for financially challenged homeowners. A loan modification may involve a change in interest rates, loan terms, balloon payments, or principal balance.

A: Yes, it is possible to apply for loan modification by yourself. Unfortunately, the process can be a complicated time-suck. It can lead to frustration if a bank doesn’t receive needed documents, which frequently causes homeowners to give up. A tenacious loan modification attorney could guide you through the process and help you bargain with lenders to secure ideal loan terms.

A: The loan modification process could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, varying based on the complexity of a case and the lender involved. Our attorneys work tirelessly to speed up the process and ensure that you stay in the loop the entire time.

A: Not necessarily, although an approved loan modification may stop foreclosure proceedings. During the time when a lender reviews a loan modification application, the foreclosure can proceed up to the sale of the property.

A: Applicants must demonstrate evidence of financial hardship, such as a loss of income, medical expenses, or divorce. Applicants must also provide evidence of verifiable income and showcase an ability to make loan payments going forward.

A: A short sale is a real estate transaction where the lender agrees to accept less than the outstanding balance on the mortgage. A short sale could be implemented to help a homeowner avoid foreclosure. Essentially, the homeowner sells the property for less than the outstanding mortgage balance, and the lender may agree to forgive the difference.

A: A short sale allows homeowners to sell property for less than what is owed on the mortgage. This option is usually available when the homeowner is facing financial difficulties. A short sale can help homeowners mitigate the negative impact of foreclosure on their credit scores. Additionally, the legal and financial consequences of foreclosure and deficiency balance can be reduced if the short sale is properly negotiated.

A: Ability to qualify depends on a few factors, including a homeowner’s financial situation, the property’s market value, and the lender’s willingness to accept a short sale. To qualify for a short sale, homeowners may have to provide evidence of financial hardship, such as job loss, divorce, or illness. Documentation must also be provided to show evidence of a homeowner’s financial situation, including tax returns, bank statements, and proof of income.

A: Yes. Keep in mind that short sales may involve complex legal and financial problems, and bargaining with lenders is a challenging proposition for homeowners who are not well-versed in the process. Hiring a skilled short sale attorney can help you navigate the process and increase your chances of a successful short sale.

A: The timeline can vary due to many variables, such as the market for sale, the complexity of the transaction, and the lender’s response time. On average, a short sale can take anywhere from three to six months to complete. However, in situations where there are multiple liens on the property or when lenders become unresponsive, the process may be exacerbated.

A: In many instances, forgiven debt from a short sale is considered taxable income by the IRS. Exceptions include if the debt was discharged in bankruptcy or if insolvency can be demonstrated. It is recommended that you consult with a tax professional to determine your tax liability in a short sale.

A: Partition is a legal process that is used to divide or sell property that is jointly owned by two or more people. Partition is often utilized when co-owners cannot agree on how to divide the property or if one of co-owner wants to sell their share of the property.

A: The partition process begins with the filing of a partition lawsuit. After said lawsuit has been filed, the court may order an appraisal of the property. Based on the appraisal, the court will aid in determining an equitable partition.

A: Sometimes, a partition lawsuit can be avoided if the co-owners are able to decide amongst themselves how they would like to equitably divide assets. If an agreement cannot be reached, a partition lawsuit may be needed.

A: As a co-owner in a partition lawsuit, you have the right to an attorney, to have your interests and concerns heard by the court, and to receive a fair and equitable distribution of the property. You may also have the ability to recover attorney fees accrued.

A: The length of the partition process can vary vastly. Based on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule, different partitions take different amounts of time. For the most part, the partition process can take several months to a year or more.

A: A quiet title action is a legal proceeding that can aid in settling any disputes over who legally owns a property. This sort of proceeding may be utilized if there are issues with the chain of ownership or when a property has multiple owners. A quiet title action helps to establish a clear title to the property, which can expedite the process of selling or transferring the property in the future.

A: Usually, these cases can take a few months to complete. The complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and the jurisdiction where the case is being heard can shift this timeline forwards or backwards.

A: If there are any issues with the chain of ownership for a property, a quiet title action could be utilized to resolve any disputes and establish clear ownership. Without a clear title, the sale or transfer of the property in the future may be delayed. Additionally, if there are any liens or other claims on the property, a quiet title action may be useful.

A: Generally, the process involves filing a lawsuit, notifying any interested parties, conducting a title search, and presenting evidence to establish a clear title. It is important to collaborate with an experienced quiet title attorney. This way, they can help maneuver you through the legal complexities while acting in your best interest.

A: The number of parties involved and the jurisdiction where the case is being heard can affect the cost. More complex cases may also cost more. At our quiet title firm in Florida, we offer competitive pricing and will work with you to develop a customized legal strategy that fits your budget and meets your needs.