What to Do Immediately After an Accident
If you are involved in a car accident and are injured, the first thing you should do is call 911 and report the accident. If you are seriously hurt, someone else should call for you.
Reports from Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and police will be valuable tools in your personal injury case. The EMS report will include a description of your injuries and the medical care they gave at the scene. EMS may also transfer you to the nearest hospital, where doctors will create more medical documentation.
A police report contains detailed information regarding the at-fault driver’s errors (including tickets issued), names and contact information of witnesses, weather conditions, accident diagrams, insurance information, and more.
Don’t let the other driver talk you out of calling the police.
Always call the police if anyone is injured or any property was damaged. Don’t agree to any arrangements that don’t involve making an official accident report. If you plan on filing a personal injury or property damage claim against the other driver, a police report will be very helpful.
EMS and the police can only document certain information in their reports. Try to gather any additional info you think may help during claim negotiations. The more information you have, the better your chance of a higher settlement.
Write down the following as soon as possible after the accident:
- The driver’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and any other contact information you can get.
- The driver’s insurance company’s name, telephone number, and the driver’s policy number.
- The names and contact information for all witnesses.
- Your immediate thoughts and observations.
Also take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and damage to the cars. If you’re badly injured, ask someone at the scene to help you take photos.
The Next Few Days
You will need to see a doctor to get treatment for your injuries. To make a strong case, you must have credible, independent medical documentation. Be sure to get referrals to any specialists you need to treat specific injuries.
Be wary of doctors and clinics advertising directly to personal injury victims. Many of these doctors have reputations for unnecessarily extending the length and cost of treatment. Insurance adjustors know who these doctors are, and immediately doubt their credibility. This can be especially damaging if your case goes to court.
See your own doctor first. If you do not have a family physician, ask for referrals from family and friends. Seek out doctors who will objectively treat your injuries and render the medical documentation needed to support your case. Accept as much medical treatment and therapy as the doctor orders.
You will be contacted by a claims adjustor from the insurance company shortly after the accident. The adjustor’s sole job is to investigate and negotiate accident claims. They will try to settle for the least amount possible. They are not on “your side”, no matter how kind they sound.
If you have had an accident and need further info, please contact Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.
when a debt collector calls
When a debt collector calls, your
best response is to confront the
Be sure the debt collector
and the debt are legitimate.
- § Who you’re talking to (get the person’s name)
- § The name of the debt collection company
- § The company’s address and phone number
- § The name of the creditor
Ask the debt collector for:
- § The amount owed
- § The name of the creditor
- § How you can dispute the debt or verify the debt is yours. Ask for the information in writing. It is a good idea to get this written notice before you agree to pay the debt collector or try to negotiate.
Harassment is illegal. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says
debt collectors can’t harass, oppress, or abuse you or anyone else they contact.
For example, debt collectors can’t:
§ Make repeated phone calls that are
intended to annoy, abuse, or harass you
or any person answering the phone.
§ Use obscene or profane language.
§ Make threats of violence or harm.
§ Publish lists of people who refuse to pay their debts (this does not include reporting information to a credit reporting company).
§ Call you without telling you who they are. If you believe a debt collector is harassing you file a complaint.
Second, identify the debt
If you recognize the debt- You can contact the debt collector and work out a payment plan that makes sense for you.
HOWEVER——If the debt is several years old—-
Before making a payment or agreeing to a payment
plan for a debt that is old, find out what your state’s
statute of limitations is for filing a lawsuit to collect
the debt. If time has passed for filing a lawsuit, they can do nothing if you do not pay them.
In time it will drop off your credit report.
If you’re not sure the debt is yours—-
Write and ask for formal written verification of the
§ The name and address of the original creditor (if
different than the current creditor)
§ How much you owe
§ Proof the debt is yours
If the debt is not yours—-
Write the debt collector to tell it the debt is not
yours and that you do not want to be contacted
about it again.
Third, keep your letters
Keep the letters you receive and make copies of the
letters you send in case you need to dispute the
Fourth, if you need additional help, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.
WELLS FARGO SUED FOR OPENING FRAUDULENT ACCOUNTS
Los Angeles City officials and former Wells Fargo employees are asking consumers to scrutinize their bank statements and online accounts after a lawsuit accused bank employees of opening unauthorized accounts and moving clients’ money around to meet sales quotas.
The L.A. city attorney has sued Wells Fargo for ‘unlawful, fraudulent conduct’.
Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer claims that the California-based financial institution urged employees to meet sales quotas and that employees used confidential client information to open unwanted accounts.
Feuer asked customers to alert his office immediately if they noticed checking or savings accounts had been opened in their names without their permission. He also asked Wells Fargo customers to be wary of credit and debit cards appearing by mail, as the cards’ accounts could have been opened by employees trying to reach quotas.
“Have accounts that they have closed remained open? Have they received debit or credit cards they didn’t ask for? Have they incurred charges on any of these accounts that they have not authorized?” Feuer’s office warns.
Maged Nashid, a former Wells Fargo manager in Southern California, said customers should pay attention to their online bank statements. Nashid, who says he was fired from the company in retaliation for questioning practices similar to those alleged in Feuer’s lawsuit, said Wells Fargo employees who open fraudulent accounts usually attach them to bogus mailing addresses.
Nashid said clients also should review bank statements for suspicious withdrawals ranging from $25 to $100, the same amounts needed to open a Wells Fargo checking or savings account.
Wells Fargo employees hoping to meet their quotas sometimes would use a client’s savings to open fraudulent accounts under fake names, he said.
If you need additional info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.Read More
Ocwen Financial and Assurant have reached an agreement to settle charges that Ocwen profited from kickbacks on force-placed insurance policies with hard-pressed homeowners.
The settlement would provide $140 million in monetary relief to nearly 400,000 borrowers. It would also provide an additional $10 million for legal fees and expenses.
At issue are insurance policies placed on foreclosed properties, to cover hazard, flood, flood-gap and wind insurance. Plaintiffs in the case accused Ocwen of inflating premiums and profiting from kickbacks through an arrangement with Assurant, the insurance provider that administered the policies.
“Ocwen decided to settle this matter to avoid prolonged and distracting litigation. The company does not admit any liability or wrongdoing with respect to this matter,” the company said.
The settlement covers homeowners charged for policies between Jan. 1, 2008 and Jan. 23, 2015.
Under terms of the agreement, Ocwen would be prohibited from accepting commission for force-placed policies.
“We do not acknowledge any wrongdoing in this case, but feel it’s in the best interest of our company to attempt to resolve the matter,” Assurant said.
The settlement is pending final approval in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Ocwen in December agreed to pay $150,000 to settle allegations by New York regulators that it falsely dated foreclosure documents.Read More
Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson Concerning the District Court’s Ruling Concerning DAPA and DACA
I strongly disagree with Judge Hanen’s decision to temporarily enjoin implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction; in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it.
Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA.
The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority. Our actions will also benefit the economy and promote law enforcement. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do.
It is important to emphasize what the District Court’s order does not affect.
The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012.
Nor does the Court’s order affect this Department’s ability to set and implement enforcement priorities. The priorities established in my November 20, 2014 memorandum entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants” remain in full force and effect. Pursuant to those enforcement priorities, we continue to prioritize public safety, national security, and border security. I am pleased that an increasing percentage of removals each year are of those convicted of crimes. I am also pleased that, due in large part to our investments in and prioritization of border security, apprehensions at the southern border – a large indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally — are now at the lowest levels in years.
For more info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.
UNLIMITED FREE CREDIT CHECKS
Last year I told you about two websites: One was AnnualCreditReport.com. At this website once a year you can get free credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus. That way you can check all of them at the same time or spread them out over the course of a year.
CreditKarma.com is the second website. All their services are free. No hidden charges. You can get your credit score updated as many times as you want free of charge. They give advice on what to do and what not to do to improve your score. But this year they have added two credit bureaus. So you can also get free credit reports at this website. And there is no limit on how many times you can request them.
Hope this helps. If you need more info, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.Read More
NEW DEFERRED ACTION FOR PARENTS OF USC OR LPR
Because of President Obama’s new executive action, you may be considered for deferred action (DAPA) if you:
• Have lived in the United States continuously since Jan. 1, 2010, up to the present time;
• Were physically present in the United States on Nov. 20, 2014, and at the time of making your request for consideration of DAPA with USCIS;
• Had no lawful status on Nov. 20, 2014;
• Had, on Nov. 20, 2014, a son or daughter, of any age or marital status, who is a U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR); and
• Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors; do not otherwise pose a threat to national security; and are not an enforcement priority for removal.
For a free consultation, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.Read More
Probate is easy to avoid if you pay attention to what you own and how you own it. But if you do not take the time to avoid probate it can be costly.
WHAT IS PROBATE? Probate is a legal procedure that is used to close a person’s legal and financial affairs after death. In California probate proceedings are conducted in the Superior Court for the county in which the decedent lived, and can take at least eight months or more.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A PROBATE? The person who is nominated in the will as executor files a petition with the Superior Court asking that he or she be appointed as executor. If there is no will, the Probate Code provides a list of persons who have priority to petition to become administrator. The will also is filed with the petition, and notices are sent to the heirs and/or relatives to let them know when the hearing will be held. If there are objections to the petition, or if the validity of the will is contested, the hearing will be used to resolve any problems that have arisen. In some cases this may mean that the validity of the will is not upheld, or that some other person than the original petitioner is chosen to administer the estate. In most cases, however, there is no objection and the petition is granted. The executor then makes an inventory of the estate’s assets, locates creditors, pays bills, files tax returns, and manages the estate assets. When all of the duties of the executor are completed, another petition is filed with the court asking that the estate be distributed to the heirs. If this petition is granted, the estate administration is completed by distributing the assets to the heirs and filing final tax returns.
HOW MUCH DOES PROBATE COST? California Probate Code Section 10810 sets the maximum statutory fees that attorneys can charge for a probate. Higher fees can be ordered by a court for more complicated cases. The fees are four percent of the first $100,000 of the estate, three percent of the next $100,000, two percent of the next $800,000, one percent of the next $9,000,000, and one-half percent of the next $15,000,000. For estates larger than $25,000,000, the court will determine the fee for the amount that is greater than $25,000,000.
The fees listed below are the California statutory fees used to compensate attorneys and executors in probate cases for various sizes of estates. If both the attorney and the executor receive a fee, the amount paid will be double that shown below. The value of the estate is determined, in general, by the inventory for the estate. (If an accounting of the estate has been waived, the total value of the estate for attorney’s fees purposes is the inventory, plus gains on sales, minus losses on sales.) Debts are not included in determining attorney’s fees, and if a house is appraised at $1,000,000, for example, and it has a mortgage of $800,000, it is still considered a $1,000,000 asset for the purpose of calculating attorney’s fees.
|Estate Value||Statutory Fee|
The fee charged by the court to file a probate petition varies by county. There will be an additional fee when the petition for final distribution is filed. There are other fees for publication of the probate notice, for the probate referee, and for certification of copies of court documents.
APPRAISAL OF THE ESTATE: Estates are appraised by probate referees, who are appointed by the State Controller to determine the fair market value of the asset. The fair market value includes mortgages and other debts, which can result in an appraisal of the property that is higher than the equity that the deceased owned in the property. Probate referees receive a fee based on .1 percent of the assets that have been appraised.
FEES CAN GO HIGHER: In probates that are complicated by lawsuits or tax problems, the attorney and executor can ask the judge to approve fees that are higher than those set by state law.
ADVANTAGES OF PROBATE: The proceedings are controlled by a judge, who can decide disputes between heirs and/or the executor. Creditors are required to submit their claims against the estate within a four-month period, provided they have been notified of the probate. The executor is required, in most cases, to prepare an accounting and report of the executor’s activities.
DISADVANTAGES OF PROBATE: The cost is usually much higher than would be required for the administration of a living trust for an estate valued at the same amount. It usually takes longer to probate an estate than to administer a trust.
AVOIDING PROBATE: Many estates do not need to be probated. If there is a surviving spouse and there is no will, or the will gives the estate to the surviving spouse, a spousal property petition might be used. For estates valued at less than $150,000, the small estate law may apply.
For a free consultation, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Maryland Attorney General took action against Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, for an illegal marketing kickback scheme they participated in with Genuine Title, a now-defunct title company.
According to the bureau, Genuine Title gave the banks’ loan officers cash in exchange for business referrals.
As a result, Wells Fargo will be required to pay $24 million in civil penalties, JPMorgan will be required to pay $600,000 in civil penalties, along with $11.1 million to consumers whose loans were involved.
“These banks allowed their loan officers to focus on their own illegal financial gain rather than on treating consumers fairly. Our action today to address these practices should serve as a warning for all those in the mortgage market,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
“Homeowners were steered toward this title company, not because they were the best or most affordable, but because they were providing kickbacks to loan officers who referred consumers to them,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “This type of quid pro quo arrangement is illegal, and it’s unfair to other businesses that play by the rules.
Genuine Title was a Maryland-based title company that offered real-estate-closing services from 2005 until it became defunct in April 2014.
As part of the scheme, the title company offered loan officers services and cash kickbacks to increase the amount of loan business that was generated.
In return, the banks’ loan officers increased Genuine Title’s profits by referring homebuyers to the company for closing services.
This scheme violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which prohibits giving a “fee, kickback, or thing of value” in exchange for a referral of business related to a real-estate-settlement service.
The investigation identified more than 100 Wells Fargo loan officers, largely in Maryland and Virginia, who participated in the scheme. The CFPB alleged that these loan officers referred thousands of loans to Genuine Title.
Under the proposed consent order filed today, Wells Fargo would be required to pay $10.8 million in redress and $24 million in civil penalties. The bureau also filed an administrative consent order against Wells Fargo.
The CFPB alleged that at least six Chase loan officers in Maryland, Virginia, and New York were involved. These officers referred business to Genuine Title on almost 200 loans.
Under the proposed consent order filed today, Chase would pay $300,000 to customers and $600,000 in civil penalties. Additionally, the CFPB also filed an administrative consent order against Chase.
If you need additional info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.Read More