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Albany New York Law Blog

Your rights during a vehicle repossession

You lease a vehicle through a car dealership. Unfortunately, you lose your job and can no longer afford to keep the car. You begin to fall behind on payments, and you worry that the lender will come to repossess your car.

In New York, when you lease or purchase a vehicle through set payments, the leasing agent has the authority to reclaim the vehicle if you miss payments. Yet you still hold rights during the repossession process. Though you may prove unable to pay the missing payments, you still must receive specific notification if you own the vehicle through the lease.

Utilizing an automatic stay and identifying creditor harassment

The process of filing bankruptcy may bring significant emotion in your family. Though bankruptcy is a relief of debts, the decision to file is not usually made lightly. On top of your mixed emotions in determining which chapter to file and when to begin the process, you receive phone calls from badgering creditors with threats and claims that you owe more than you thought.

In New York, creditors have no authority to make false claims against you for debt owed, and you can report claims of unlicensed creditors to the Department of Consumer Affairs. Not only is it stressful to receive these phone calls, it is illegal if the claims are not valid. To protect yourself from creditor contact altogether, you may wish to begin the process of filing bankruptcy and receive an automatic stay to end all communication between you and creditors. When going through the bankruptcy process, especially if you face suspicious creditors, you want to hire an experienced attorney that can help you file an automatic stay, lead you in the direction of bankruptcy relief and help handle the illegal acts of creditors.

Understanding insurance law for renters

For some New York apartment dwellers, the rent they pay is already a big chunk out of their budgets, so if another expense like renter's insurance is optional, they may pass it up. State and federal insurance law does not require renters to carry insurance the way drivers must be insured. However, if individual landlords include the obligation to have renter's insurance in a lease, tenants must comply by law. Like any kind of insurance, the policyholder may assume he or she understands the terms, but it is always wise to know what the policy includes by asking questions before buying.

Insurance policies can be voluminous with many pages of tiny print. This is not because the insurer is trying to hide things from the purchaser but because there are many contingencies and exclusions to cram into one document. An insurance agent will go over the high points, but the purchaser can ask questions to get to the heart of the matter.

Anesthesiologists named in many malpractice claims

Few people in New York or elsewhere look forward to surgical procedures, and the one enticement to having an operation may be the anesthesia, which blocks the pain and often allows the patient to sleep through the procedure. However, anesthesia is also risky since it is not always possible for anesthesiologists to know how it will affect the patient, especially in an emergency situation. One woman is suing an anesthesiologist and hospital for the pain and suffering she claims they inflicted on her during an emergency C-section.

The woman's labor was induced in her 41st week of pregnancy, but at some point during labor, the obstetrician lost the baby's heartbeat. The doctor decided an emergency C-section was necessary, and she reportedly paged for the anesthesiologist. However, the anesthesiologist apparently could not be located, and the patient claims the doctor proceeded to operate without administering anesthesia. The patient alleges she could feel the cutting of the knife, and her husband reports hearing his wife's screams and cries for help.

Considering bankruptcy? You are not alone

When a couple has a baby, it is common to see the new mom posting pictures on social media and dad might be handing out cigars to friends and family to announce the happy event. When it comes to bankruptcy, these types of jovial reactions are probably not going to occur.

People considering bankruptcy feel alone and are not comfortable sharing their feelings. Because of this, people assume they are one of the few who have financial stress severe enough to warrant bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy has been a solution for people from all walks of life and income levels. 

Insurance company may deny claim after pattern of violations

Drivers carry insurance to cover the expenses of property damage and medical care if they should be involved in an accident. If they keep their premiums current and file their claims according to the insurer's instructions, they may have little problem obtaining the funds they need after an accident, including for those losses another driver may have suffered. However, insurance company policies often have exclusions that may cause a claim to be rejected, and accidents may happen under circumstances that can invalidate a claim.

For example, if a company shows a pattern of safety violations on the road, it may find the insurance company is less likely to cover its claims. The insurer has the right to suspect that one more accident in a line of accidents could have been avoided if the company had taken the appropriate precautions before sending its drivers out. One New York company may be under just such scrutiny.

Mechanical analysis critical for truck accident defense

New York highways are notorious for catastrophic accidents, sometimes involving tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles. Following a truck accident, there are many factors to consider. Building a truck accident defense after a collision can be a complex undertaking, and one focus of the investigation is whether mechanical failure played a role.

A quick inspection may reveal a flat tire, leading to a hurried conclusion that tire failure caused the accident. However, reconstructing the crash may reveal more reasonable answers. Damaged components of a truck do not necessarily indicate that the component failed and caused the crash. An experienced accident reconstructionist can use the evidence at the scene to determine whether the component was damaged as a result of the accident or prior to it.

Insurance company may not always deny suicide claim

In New York or anywhere in the world, the loss of a loved one is often a shock, even if that person had been suffering a prolonged illness. However, perhaps the most upsetting loss a family can face is when someone dies by an act of suicide. This unimaginable event may be even more difficult to bear if the deceased's life insurance policy claim is denied by the insurance company.

It is not always true that a life insurance company will deny a claim if the cause of death is suicide. It is important for policyholders to review and understand their policies so they know if they are covered in the event of this unthinkable tragedy. A life insurance policy will typically have an incontestability clause, and some will also carry a suicide provision.

Is your pet sending you into credit card debt?

Resisting the adorable kitten at the animal shelter or denying kisses from the adoptable puppy at your neighbor's home proves nearly impossible for some. You may see the small animal and make the determination that if you don't adopt it, no one will.

Unfortunately, many adults' spontaneous decision to purchase or adopt a furry friend sends them spiraling into serious credit card debt. An increase in vet bills and food simply adds to your mounting owes, leaving you with the realization that you've made a mistake in adding a pet to your family.

Employers seek insurance company protection for harassment claims

More businesses in New York and across the country are finding it necessary to protect themselves against the cost of lawsuits and settlements that arise from employees accused of sexual harassment and other wrongdoing. Many business owners have decided to carry employment practices liability insurance policies, which cover the cost of defending against such charges and paying any resulting damages. However, as with any insurance policy, the insurance company will recommend policyholders read it carefully for exclusions.

Just because a company carries EPLI policies does not mean every act in every circumstance is covered. An insurance company has the right to deny a claim that is excluded from the policy. One common reason why an insurer may reject a claim under an EPLI policy is because the victim claims the harassment or abuse took place before the policy was in place. This is an important exclusion since, in many cases, victims wait years to bring their cases to the public eye.

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