Filing Bankruptcy in Baltimore may Save You From Going Further into Debt

Annual toll fines put Maryland residents on the road to bankruptcy, according to a February 2017 article in Maryland Reporter. The state’s Finance Committee heard testimony in February about the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system causing many Marylanders to go into bankruptcy. More specifically, poor customer service and excessive penalties are the reasons behind the troubles.

The broad enforcement powers enacted in 2013 to address the toll violations have led to MVA non-renewal of vehicle registrations, financial hardship and wage attachments. However, the head of the Maryland Transportation Authority, the department running the toll facilities, claims that only a small percentage of people were affected.

Since 2015, the state has assessed $223 million in toll fines and only collected $34 million.

The 2013 law gave MDTA the authority to block registration renewals and refer all past due accounts to the Central Collection Unit. The $50 fine must be paid within 45 days or have a 17% fee tacked onto it.

A new bill, SB139, seeks to reduce the $50 fine per violation to 25% the original toll. It also seeks to prohibit the MDTA from referring delinquent accounts to the collection agency. The article did not indicate whether the bill had passed or had a good chance of passing.

Bankruptcy in Baltimore Gives People a Fresh Financial Start

Bankruptcy is the legal ability to wipe out debts or repay debts in three to five years. It consist of two personal bankruptcy chapters: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Each bankruptcy chapter gives an individual, called a debtor, a financial fresh start in different ways.

Chapter 7 is for debts like the toll violations. These debts are unsecured and not backed by collateral. Traditionally, Chapter 7 bankruptcy allowed the bankruptcy trustee, or government official over the case, to sell a debtor’s assets. The proceeds of the assets went to creditors.

However, many Baltimore residents go through a straight Chapter 7 bankruptcy. They do not have enough assets to pay back creditors. Thus, the unsecured debts are wiped out without the debtor having to pay anything.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the second option. It is for secured and unsecured debt. A debtor can repay debts over a three-to-five-year period. The debtor sends payment, the amount set depending on finances, to the trustee. The trustee distributes the payment to creditors. The debtor is responsible for maintaining all current monthly payments to creditors.

Both Bankruptcy Options Come with an Automatic Stay in Baltimore

Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 have an automatic stay. The stay prevents creditors from starting or continuing any legal action against the creditor. The Chapter 13 is the only bankruptcy option to stop foreclosure. Both chapters stop wage garnishments and lawsuits.

Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman, PA are Your Baltimore Bankruptcy Attorneys

You deserve a financial fresh start. Talk to us about which financial bankruptcy you can choose. The chapter you are eligible for depends on your finances. Contact us immediately for help.

Family Members can Sue if a Loved One Dies in a Baltimore Accident

According to a September 2017 report on CBS Baltimore, two passengers were killed in an early morning crash on I-70. The Maryland State Police said it happened on a Sunday morning shortly after 6:45 a.m. close to the mile marker 66 in New Market.

The initial investigation into the car accident found that a Ford F-350 was traveling eastbound on I-70. The driver allegedly lost control for unknown reasons. The truck went off the road and hit a tree.

At the time, there were four people in the truck. At least two of the passengers in the back seat were killed at the scene. The driver and front seat passenger were taken to separate hospitals. Their conditions were not known at the time of the report.

The report did not indicate whether the family of the passengers planned to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver.

Baltimore Wrongful Death Claim Under Maryland Statute 3-904

A wrongful death is defined as the untimely death of an individual caused by negligence or a wrongful act. The negligence could be the failure to act as a reasonable person would in the same and/or similar circumstance. Negligence typically involves a legal duty to keep the loved one safe from harm by not causing an accident.

The grounds for a wrongful death may vary from medical malpractice to a defective product and car accident.

Primary and Secondary Beneficiaries in a Baltimore Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Not everyone family member is allowed to sue for the death of their loved one. Maryland statute allows for specific beneficiaries to file a wrongful death claim in the state. The primary beneficiaries who can file are:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Child

If these primary beneficiaries are alive, secondary beneficiaries are not allowed to file a claim.

A secondary beneficiary is anyone related by blood or marriage who was financially dependent on the loved one at the time of his or her death. If no secondary beneficiary exists, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be filed for the untimely death of a loved one.

However, a loved one who is not a primary or secondary beneficiary can file a personal injury survival action. They have to be named in the loved one’s will.

Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman, PA will Represent You in Your Baltimore Wrongful Death Action

As a plaintiff in a wrongful death claim, you have to prove certain elements that prove the other driver was at fault for your loved one’s death. These elements include:

  • The driver owed your loved one a legal duty to protect them from harm
  • The driver breached that legal duty when he or she caused the accident
  • The driver caused your loved one’s death because of his or her negligence
  • You are owed damages to compensate you for your loved one’s death. Damages include funeral expenses and loss of companionship.

Contact us immediately for help with your wrongful death claim.

Negligence is the Foundation of a Personal Injury Claim

According to WMAR in August of 2017, a MTA bus and car crashed on an early Wednesday morning. Police and first responders were dispatched to McCulloh Street and MLK Blvd short before 6 a.m. The fire department confirmed that three people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

At the time of the report, police did not know how the car-bus accident happened. The report did not indicate if the injured passengers would sue the MTA or driver of the vehicle for damages sustained in the crash.

Negligence is the Failure to Protect an Accident Victim from Harm in a Baltimore Car Accident

Negligence is the legal reason to file a personal injury claim. The other driver must be negligent in some way and have caused the car accident and the victim’s injuries. The legal definition of negligence is the failure to do the same thing that a reasonable driver would do in the same and/or similar circumstances.

For example, two drivers are traveling in Baltimore. One driver is following the other too closely. Following too closely is a violation of the traffic laws. Another driver in the same and/or similar circumstance would keep his or her distance from the driver in front of them to obey the traffic laws.

The driver stops at a red light. The other driver is distracted and does not realize the other driver has stopped. They stop, but because they were following too closely, it is too late; they hit the other car. The first driver sustains an injury such as whiplash or a bruised shoulder because of the accident. Because this driver failed to do the same thing a reasonable driver would do in a similar circumstance, he or she can be sued for causing the accident.

Options to Resolve a Car Accident Claim in Baltimore

A car accident victim has plenty of options to resolve a car accident. A victim can file a claim with the car insurance company. The insurer has the option of denying or approving the claim. If denied, the dispute may end up in court.

Another option is to settle the claim. If the claim is sent to the auto insurer and approved, the accident victim cannot sue in court. In addition, the at-fault driver may want to settle out of court. In this case, the accident victim gives up the right to sue in exchange for a lump sum or series of payments to cover accident-related expenses.

The last option is to file a personal injury lawsuit. The accident victim is a plaintiff in the case. The car insurance company or at-fault party is called a defendant. An attorney will typically file a lawsuit immediate to prevent the statute of limitations from running out. The statute of limitations is a number of years an accident victim has to sue for his or her injuries.

Contact a Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman, PA to Learn More about Negligence in Your Baltimore Car Accident Claim

You need legal representation whether you plan to file a claim, settle your claim, or go to court. We will help you resolve your car accident claim. Contact us.

Severe Punishment for Baltimore Driving Under the Influence Conviction

According to a Baltimore CBS September 2017 report, a driver involved in a Route 50 crash in Anne Arundel County had four times the legal limit of alcohol in her system. Maryland State Police released new details in the fatal wrong way car accident that killed two people in July of 2017. Police now claim the at-fault driver, a 31-year-old female, was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

She was allegedly driving the wrong way when she hit another vehicle head-on, killing herself and the other driver. The crash also injured two other people in another vehicle.

Police could not initially determine why the female driver allegedly drove on the wrong side of the road. The new report of alcohol in her bloodstream does shed new light on the investigation.

The July car accident was one of many deadly accident on Route 50.

DUI is Prohibited in Baltimore Under the Statute 21-902

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or DUI, is illegal in Baltimore. It is illegal to have 0.08% or more alcohol in a driver’s blood system when operating a motor vehicle.

Penalties for DUI in Baltimore

The punishment for having a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, at or higher than 0.08% depends on the offense. A DUI offenses range from a first to third offense. The penalties are:

  • First DUI offense: Jail time for up to one year, life suspension for six months and a $1,000 fine. 12 points are added to the driving record.
  • Second DUI offense: Mandatory minimum five days jail time, $2,000 fine revoked license for a year and ignition interlock device installed to restore the license.
  • Third DUI offense: About three years in prison, $3,000 fine and loss of license for 18 months

 DUI and Driving While Intoxicated are not the Same Crime in Baltimore

In Baltimore, DUI and driving while intoxicated, or DWI, are separate crimes. They both involve being under the influence of alcohol. However, driving while intoxicated only takes a 0.07% BAC or lower. This means a driver could be below the legal limit in Baltimore and be arrested for driving under the influence.

Penalties for DWI in Baltimore

The penalties for DWI are less than DUI. However, it is still a harsh crime. The penalties include:

  • First DWI offense: Fine of $500, up to 60 days in jail. A 60-day suspended license and eight points added to the driver’s record
  • Second DWI offense: A year in jail, license suspension of 120 days and $500 fine
  • Third DWI offense: A year in jail and license suspension for one year

Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman, PA will Help You with Your DUI or DWI Charge in Baltimore

 

You have been charged with either DUI or DWI. You need tough legal representation to prove your innocence. Contact us.

A Baltimore Pedestrian Accident is a Personal Injury Case

In May of 2017, a 6-year-old boy died following an alleged auto-pedestrian accident, according to Baltimore CBS. It happened around 5:40 p.m. in the 4100 block of Glenarm Ave. The alleged driver involved in the accident was operating a 2005 Honda Pilot. Immediately after the accident, the little boy was transported to Johns Hopkins Pediatrics. At the time, he was in critical condition. He died from his injuries the following day.

So far, the police have determined the driver was traveling eastbound on Glenarm Ave. The 6-year-old boy allegedly ran out into the street from between two parked vehicles on the south side of the street.

The driver remained at the accident scene. According to police, the driver did not appear to be under the influence or impaired at the time of the accident. An investigation was ongoing at the time of the report.

What is a Pedestrian Accident in Baltimore?

A pedestrian accident is a type of personal injury case involving an accident between a pedestrian and driver. The driver may hit the pedestrian while operating a motor vehicle, or the driver may indirectly cause the pedestrian’s injuries by causing him or her to try to avoid being hit.

Common causes of a pedestrian accident include:

  • A driver not stopping at a crosswalk
  • A driver not clearing the intersection when turning right on red
  • A driver exiting out of the parking lot without looking for pedestrians
  • A driver operating a motor vehicle in a reckless way while driving in a parking lot

Suing After a Baltimore Pedestrian Accident

All pedestrian accidents are not the fault of a driver. For an injured pedestrian to file a personal injury claim, the driver must be negligent. Negligence is defined as the failure to do the same thing in a similar and/or same manner as a reasonable driver.

A driver who cautiously drives around the parking lot looking out for pedestrians while trying to find a parking space is a reasonable driver. A reasonable driver follows traffic laws. The driver who recklessly drives around trying to find a parking space and hits a pedestrian is negligent.

Prove Negligence in a Pedestrian Accident in Baltimore

In court, a pedestrian injured by a driver is the plaintiff. The plaintiff responsible for proving that the driver, called the defendant, injured him or her in the accident. Baltimore has four steps required for proving negligence:

  • The defendant had a legal duty to the pedestrian. This means the driver had the responsibility of avoiding an accident while driving
  • The defendant caused an accident. It was done directly or indirectly.
  • The defendant’s negligence was the cause of the pedestrian’s injury
  • The defendant owes the pedestrian damages in the form of medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering

Contact Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman, PA about Your Baltimore Pedestrian Accident

You were walking from one place to another when you were struck by a vehicle. The driver is at fault for the accident. It is time you get the money you need for your accident-related injuries. Contact us immediately for help.

Proving Medical Negligence in Baltimore

A Baltimore man won $3.9 million in a negligence case, according to an October 2014 report on Baltimore CBS. The man claimed he was left paralyzed from the mid-chest down because of the postoperative medical treatment he received. The 64-year-old man and his wife were awarded the damages after a weeklong jury trial.

According to the report, the man underwent successful spinal cord surgery at Saint Agnes Hospital in 2012. He claimed the neurosurgeon incorrectly restarted him on a blood pressure medication. The medication allegedly led to the man having a stroke in his spinal cord.

The defendant in the case, the neurosurgeon, argued the blood pressure medication did not lead to the stroke. Instead, he claimed it was a blood clot that led to the stroke. However, the man’s attorney counter-argued that the medical records did not support the neurosurgeon’s arguments.

The defendant and his attorneys were not available for comment at the time of the report. It is not known whether the defendant planned to appeal the verdict.

Medical Malpractice Involves Providing Substandard Care to a Patient in Baltimore

Medical malpractice is the failure on a medical professional’s part to provide standard care to a patient. Standard care does not mean top-notch medical care. It does not mean the medical professional has to be nice to the patient during treatment. Standard care means providing treatment that does not cause additional harm to the patient.

In Baltimore, every medical professional is required to provide treatment that does not cause additional harm. Additional harm is defined as another injury. For instance, if a medical professional treating a patient for a broken arm amputates the limb instead of placing it in a cast, that is an additional injury and not standard care.

A Plaintiff Must Prove That Medical Negligence Occurred

A patient is typically injured at the time he or she visits a medical professional. That is why the patient has the burden of proving medical negligence actually happened. Maryland has specific elements a patient must use as a guide when proving a malpractice case in court. The elements are:

  • The medical professional had a legal duty to provide standard care to the patient. This means the medical professional was hired to treat the patient and not merely offer advice.
  • The medical professional breached the legal duty by providing substandard care.
  • The medical professional’s breach of legal duty was the reason the injury to the patient occurred.
  • The patient is owed damages such as pain and suffering, lost wages, decreased income and medical bills.

Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman, PA are Your Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys

You expected to be treated competently by a medical professional, not sustain further injury. You have the right to sue the medical professional who injured you. The at-fault party may want to settle. This means you do not have to go to court. You still need an attorney to make sure you receive a fair settlement. Whether you want to sue or settle your medical malpractice claim, contact us. We will represent you.

Federal Bankruptcy Saves Maryland School Bus Driver

Unaware of a brewing legal situation with her former landlord, a Baltimore County bus driver narrowly avoided disaster by filing for bankruptcy, according to an article by The Baltimore Sun.

The bus driver in question was ordered to pay $7,100, after a court rendered a decision for her landlord. When the bus driver failed to appear in court, the judge tacked on additional penalties. Eventually, the judge ordered a body attachment, calling for authorities to detain the bus driver and bring her to court.

The bus driver maintains that she never received notice to appear in court. Moreover, the bus driver challenges the amount claimed by the landlord. She maintains that cleaning and upkeep fees were vastly overstated and that the landlord failed to credit her security deposit.

Before the court case began, the landlord claimed a debt of $4,637.76. After the court decision awarded court and attorney’s fees as well as interest, the judgment totaled $7,100.

I can be Arrested for Failing to Pay a Debt?!

As detailed by the Maryland Courts, a body attachment allows authorities to detain an individual and bring them to court. This rule only applies in three specific situations. Two of those situations involve witnesses. A third situation applies to our present question, involving anyone “who fails to comply with a court order in a civil action.”

Using the school bus driver as an example, her landlord filed a civil action for an original debt of $4,637.76. Notice to appear in court went out to the bus driver and the landlord. But the bus driver did not appear in court. The judge ruled in favor of the landlord, awarding a total of $7,100. The judge also issued a body attachment, ordering authorities to bring the bus driver to court.

That being said, the bus driver claims that after moving she never received any notices to appear in court. The bus driver also claims that the amount of debt is inflated. Overall, the bus driver declared bankruptcy and wiped the slate clean.

Circling back to our original question, yes, you can be arrested for failing to pay a debt. This rule only applies in extreme situations. Judges do not generally issue body attachment orders until a party fails to appear multiple times. This underscores the need to pay attention to any court notices or orders.

Do You Need Legal Counsel from a Seasoned Bankruptcy Attorney?

Whether you face mounting debts or a body attachment, it can be a terrifying experience. The stress can be crippling. But with the advice and counsel of a seasoned bankruptcy attorney, you can navigate toward an effective resolution.

With more than 40 years of experience serving clients, Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman can help you overcome a wide range of debt and bankruptcy issues. If you have questions about wage garnishment, foreclosure and other bankruptcy concerns, please do not hesitate. Contact us today for a free consultation at our Baltimore office. You can reach our attorneys by calling 410.669.5070 or by completing a simple online form.

Maryland Car Accident Raises Questions About Personal Injury

A rush hour accident on the interstate in Maryland sent three people to the hospital and resulted in severe traffic delays, according to an article by The Baltimore Sun. The fallout from this accident has serious personal injury implications, particularly concerning the injured drivers and damaged cars.

At approximately 4 p.m. on August 17, 2017, a car attempted to take an exit off I-97 onto Route 50. The car failed to brake fast enough and collided with another vehicle. The force of the collision carried into a Maryland Transportation Authority police car.

All three drivers were treated for minor injuries at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Wreckage from the accident took a little longer to clear, closing off I-97 from Route 50 for several hours.

Overall, this accident resulted in injuries to three people and damage to three vehicles, including a police car. In such a situation, it is fair to wonder who will pay for the medical bills and vehicle repairs. As with most personal injury cases, the answer will depend upon a finding of negligence.

How does Maryland Define Negligence?

Maryland laws outline a four-part test for determining negligence. In order to prove a case of negligence against the person who caused an injury (defendant), the injured person (plaintiff) must satisfy four conditions.

  • Duty: The plaintiff must show that the defendant had a “duty of care” to act reasonably under the circumstances.
  • Breach: The plaintiff must show that the defendant breached the duty of care by acting in an unreasonable manner.
  • Proximate Cause: The plaintiff must show that their injuries were a direct result of the defendant’s actions.
  • Damages: The plaintiff must be able to demonstrate an approximate value for injuries and losses.

After proving all of the elements above, the plaintiff can recover compensation for injury or loss from the defendant. But the defendant may be able to avoid liability through legal defenses or contributory negligence.

What does Contributory Negligence Mean in Maryland?

Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that considers whether the plaintiff played a role in their injury. If the plaintiff contributed to the injury at all, then contributory negligence prevents recovery the defendant. Stated otherwise, if the plaintiff was to blame for any part of an injury, then he or she will lose the case against the defendant.

Do You Need Legal Advice from an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?

Whether you were involved in a traffic accident, slip and fall, or suffered other personal injury, the road to recovery can be painful and stressful. As the bills pile up for medical services and property repair or replacement, it can be a challenge to make ends meet. Thankfully an experienced personal injury attorney can make a real difference, helping you maximize your chance of success.

Featuring over 40 years of experience, Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman can help you figure out the best road to recovery. We will accurately appraise your property. We will also ensure consideration for your injuries, pain, suffering, lost wages, and medical bills. Overall, we operate on a contingent fee basis. Unless we win your personal injury claim, there is no fee.

If you have questions about personal injury, please feel free to contact Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman for a free consultation today. We are available 24/7/365 by phone at 410.669.5070 or online by filling out an electronic form.