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Albany Law Blog

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.

Insurance law limits coverage in some cases

It is easy for many in New York to feel frustrated and even angry when their insurance companies deny their claims after an auto accident. They seem to believe that, even if their policies do not cover the circumstances, the insurer should use compassion and pay the claim. While it may be true that many insurance adjusters feel sympathy for the victims of accidents, insurance law limits their ability to approve a claim based on the confines of their policies.

In many situations, the reason for the claim denial is entirely in the hands of the policyholder. For example, failure to pay one's premiums may be the most common reason why an insurer will reject an accident claim. Essentially, when the policyholder stops making payments, the policy coverage ends.

Diagnosing is a challenge for medical professionals

The most common reason why patients file malpractice claims is misdiagnosis. Diagnosing an ailment is complicated and may involve the contributions of several medical professionals in different fields. Whether a New York patient receives a false diagnosis or the presence of a serious condition is missed, the results can have far-reaching consequences. A new study shows some of the weak links in the diagnostic process with the goal of helping physicians avoid such mistakes.

Typically, numerous medical professionals work together to arrive at a diagnosis, and communication between those professionals is critical. In fact, miscommunication when a patient moves from one facility to another is one of the most common reasons for inaccurate diagnoses. Because care providers do not often receive feedback if another doctor changes a patient's diagnosis, they have little opportunity to reassess or improve their process of reaching a medical conclusion.

Mandated paperless log systems offer safety benefits

Recent changes in federal law now require many trucking companies to use electronic logging devices to track work hours for truckers. While these paperless log systems have been available for some time, only this past year has the government mandated their use for any trucker or trucking company that has been required to use paper logs in the past. Not every New York trucker or truck owner is happy about the change, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration believes it will improve safety for all who share the road with big rigs.

While installing ELDs in their fleet is a high cost upfront, trucking companies may enjoy the potential savings ELDs promise. In addition to reducing spending for fuel and truck downtime, truck owners may have fewer expenses related to crashes. One issue that fleet owners must address is how to maintain productivity when a trucker's hours of service are severely limited by the ELD.

Insurance company may exclude drivers from policy

For some licensed drivers, affording auto insurance is an impossibility. Perhaps the driver has too many accidents or moving violations on record, making premiums too costly. Others with a driver's license may simply have no need to drive. Perhaps they are elderly or infirm and carry a license for identification only. Nevertheless, a New York driver's insurance company may require all licensed drivers in the household to be included on the driver's insurance policy.

One way around that is through exclusions. A driver may not want certain licensed individuals who are living at the same residence to be on his or her insurance policy. For instance, roommates renting the same apartment may exclude each other from their respective policies. This is how they acknowledge to the insurance company that other potential drivers live at the same address but assure the insurer that those other drivers will not be behind the wheel of the insured's vehicle.

The causes of car accidents are not always apparent

Traveling in New York can be a harrowing experience, whether one is driving through one of the many crowded cities or on a busy highway. State and local police see more than their share of car accidents, and it is not always easy to determine all of the circumstances that may cause or contribute to a collision. While it is important to use the evidence to reach a reasonable conclusion, especially if anyone involved suffered injuries, there may still be factors that are not immediately evident.

One example is a recent multi-vehicle accident that took place on the Van Wyck Expressway in the early morning hours. Media reports say a vehicle driven by a 29-year-old man traveling north collided with another northbound vehicle. The impact caused the driver of the second car to lose control, hit the median and flip numerous times until it landed in the southbound lanes. A southbound SUV and a pickup truck then struck the disabled car.

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.

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