How long will my bankruptcy stay on my credit report?

My office gets many questions from consumers who have gone through the bankruptcy process about its effects on their credit reports. One of the key concerns is the length of time that their reports will show the bankruptcy filing. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibits consumer reporting agencies, or “CRAs” from reporting obsolete information on consumers’ reports. The FCRA sets different time frames for obsolescence of different types of information, however, and consumers are often mistaken about when the law considers bankruptcy information to be obsolete.

Two types of bankruptcy information might appear on a consumer’s report: (1) the public record of the bankruptcy itself, which comes from the docket of the federal bankruptcy court; and (2) historical information about accounts that were included in a bankruptcy, which comes from the creditor itself furnishes to the CRAs.

With respect to the public record information from the court docket, bankruptcies of any kind can remain on the credit report for TEN (10) years. If the bankruptcy is successful and results in a discharge, the ten years runs from the date of petition filing. See 15 U.S.C. § 1681c(a)(1). If the bankruptcy is unsuccessful, and results in a dismissal, then the ten years runs from the date of the dismissal of the bankruptcy. See FTC Staff Summary 605(a)(1), Item 3.

With respect to the accounts or “tradelines” for debts that were included in bankruptcy, the FCRA prohibits a creditor from reporting individual debts for any time frame longer than the normal obsolescence period under the FCRA for debts of that type. See FTC Staff Summary 605(a)(1), Item 1. The obsolescence period for an individual debt, however, is often shorter than the obsolescence period for bankruptcy. This means that a consumer may see a bankruptcy listed in the “public records” section of their report, even though accounts that the consumer included in the bankruptcy no longer appear on the report. This is understandably confusing, and can lead a consumer to believe that, since their accounts from the bankruptcy no longer appear on the credit report, that the CRA is wrongfully reporting the bankruptcy past its deletion date.

Let’s look at an example. In 2009, Chris Consumer received a personal loan from Community Bank. In 2011, after several years of on-time payments, Chris became ill and was unable to work. Without income, Chris could not make the personal loan payment that was due on July 1, 2011. Chris never made another loan payment. On August 1, 2011, Chris filed a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including the personal loan to Community Bank on the list of accounts to be included in the bankruptcy discharge. Because Chris filed for bankruptcy quickly, Community Bank had not yet placed the loan account out for collection or written it off as a charge-off. Chris received a bankruptcy discharge, and no longer owes the loan to Community Bank.

The FCRA mandates that after SEVEN (7) years from the date of delinquency, a CRA must remove from the consumer’s report the tradeline for a personal loan account such as Chris’s, where the lender never placed the account for collection or charged it off. See 15 U.S.C. § 1681c(a)(5). In Chris’s case, the delinquency occurred on July 1, 2011, when Chris failed to make the scheduled payment. Therefore, on or before July 1, 2018, the CRA must delete the Community Bank account from Chris’s report. In the meantime, the account can remain on Chris’s report, but the CRA must report the balance on the account as zero and indicate that the account has been discharged in bankruptcy. See FTC Staff Summary 607(6), Item 6.

Because Chris’s bankruptcy was filed on August 1, 2011, and the court granted Chris a discharge in bankruptcy, the CRA can report Chris’s bankruptcy until August 1, 2021, ten years from the date of the filing of the bankruptcy petition. Therefore, even though the individual Community Bank account will vanish from the report in 2018, the CRA is within its rights to continue to report the bankruptcy itself until the ten-year obsolescence date that Chris once filed for bankruptcy.

 ~Suzanne Begnoche practices in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and represents consumers with issues in the following areas of law:  Collection harassment; Credit reporting; Identity theft or other financial fraud; Security breach; Debt collection lawsuit and  Post-judgment exemption process.  For more information, visit http://www.begnochelaw.com/.

What to Expect After an Automobile Accident

Every year, 1 out of every 88 people in the state of North Carolina will be injured in an automobile accident. In many of those accidents, negligent drivers will cause the injuries. And, resulting insurance settlements will likely not be enough to make the injured driver whole. If a driver in the state of North Carolina wrongly injures you or someone in your family you are entitled to full compensation for your property damage and injury. Anyone who is injured in an auto accident should seek legal advice because North Carolina law differs somewhat from many other states in this area. The following are a few frequently asked questions when someone is injured in an automobile accident.

Who is at Fault in a Car Accident?

Determining fault after an accident can be difficult in some situations but here are a few general rules. To avoid liability for an accident, all drivers and passengers must exercise ordinary care while driving. We all have a duty to take ordinary care in most situations including while driving. Ordinary care is simply doing the normal thing you do every day to ensure your safety on the roads, like looking ahead, checking before you change lanes, or following too closely. A driver becomes negligent when they take less than ordinary care on the roads, in another word, careless. Common sources of negligent behavior on the roads include: inadvertently running a red light, speeding, or tailgating. If a driver is excessively negligent, the law defines that as reckless behavior. Reckless behavior occurs when a person knew or should have known that their actions were likely to cause harm to another. Reckless behavior while driving can include: drinking and driving, severely distracted driving, or excessive speeding. If you believe a negligent or reckless driver has injured you or your family you should contact an attorney quickly to evaluate your case.

What can I do to help my claim against a negligent driver after a car accident?

Good news, there are things you can do immediately after an accident to help your claim. First, seek medical attention if it is needed. Your health is the most important issue after an accident and the records formed by doctors can serve as evidence of the damage you suffered. Second, do not make any statements that could be seen as an admission of fault to any other drivers, witnesses or the police at the scene. Third, document the scene and collect evidence yourself. This can include photographing the scene, talking to witnesses and talking to the police. Accidents are very chaotic scenes. In the chaos, evidence tends to get missed or lost. All these steps will insure the evidence of what really happened is preserved. When dealing with a negligent driver’s insurance company or if a court case is filed, good evidence will go a long way to help you in the end.

What can I expect from a negligent driver’s insurance company after a car accident?

While your insurance company may be more willing to corporate with you, do not expect the negligent driver’s insurance company to be so willing to work with you. Insurance companies are in the business of making money so there is little incentive to fully compensate you for your damages. Any insurance company will have a lot of questions to ask you. Keep in mind that any statements you make can be used against you in the case. If you choose to speak with the insurance company without an attorney, it’s always best to communicate professionally and courteously. Polite and professional responses can do nothing but help the process of your claim.

If the insurance settlement is not enough to cover my medical bills, what can I recover in court?

If you are involved in an auto accident where you were not at fault you are certainly entitled to recover your medical cost. You many also recover damages for the loss of wages, time, companionship, and pain you had to endure from injuries. In North Carolina you may be entitled to recover damages for:

  • Medical Bills
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Lost Wages
  • Loss of Consortium (Companionship)
  • Property Damage

Can a person get away with being negligent or reckless while driving?

In North Carolina, unfortunately sometimes the answer is yes. North Carolina is one of only a few states that recognize contributory negligence as a defense to negligence conduct. Under North Carolina law, you can recover for the other driver’s failure to exercise proper care while driving. However, if the other driver can establish you did not take ordinary care at any time surrounding the accident, you will not be allowed to recover any damages. Known as the defense of contributory negligence, if the other driver can prove you were even 1% liable you will receive no money to help with your or your loved ones injuries.  This defense makes obtaining legal council for personal injuries sustained through an automobile accident in North Carolina very important if the claim will likely find its way to court. This is also why it is important to speak with an attorney prior to providing any statements regarding the case.

If you are involved in an automobile accident, contact a personal injury attorney soon after your accident. The days following an accident are critical to your claim. Often personal injury attorneys provide complimentary consultations, so take advantage of that. The money you stand to lose handling the claim by yourself could be substantial. Click here to learn more about Personal Injury claims.

Researched and authored by Legal Intern Jeff Parris.  Ingalls Law, PLLC is based in Charlotte, NC and focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation claims.  For more on this firm, click http://www.ingallslawfirm.com/

EEOC Rules that Sexual Orientation Discrimination Violates Title VII

In a recent case involving a federal employee, Baldwin v. Foxx, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination and therefore violates Title VII. The EEOC is the final decision-making authority in most federal sector cases alleging employment discrimination. While this case involved a federal employee, the ruling has broad implications to impact the way Title VII is interpreted for private sector employees.

Because the EEOC is a federal rule-making authority, its interpretation of Title VII is afforded deference by federal courts in most circumstances. As a result of the decision in Baldwin, it will arguably be less of a reach for federal judges to find that sexual orientation claims are actionable as a matter of law. To date, several federal courts have found that sexual orientation claims are not actionable under Title VII; however, one federal district court last year permitted a claim based on sexual orientation to proceed.

The EEOC’s decision rests in the same logic followed by the Supreme Court in its Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins decision in 1989, finding that discrimination based on gender stereotyping is sex discrimination. In the Baldwin case, the EEOC noted that disapproval of someone based on sexual orientation is tantamount to disapproval of that individual’s failure to conform to stereotypes or expectations about his or her gender. The Commission wrote that “[d]iscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is premised on sex-based preferences, assumptions, expectations, stereotypes, or norms.”

Make no mistake, this is an impactful landmark decision that, absent explicit protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual employees, will bring aggrieved employees one step closer to relief.   Congress can strengthen Title VII and help root out discrimination against LGBT persons in the workplace by amending Title VII to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as protected classes.

If you’re an employee who has suffered from a termination, demotion, harassment, hostile work environment, or some other adverse action based on your sexual orientation, you should speak with an attorney about your situation.  Employers:  dust off your handbooks and add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to your anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

~ The Noble Law Firm is a boutique Labor and Employment Law Firm in Chapel Hill, NC.  Founded in 2009, The Noble Law Firm provides forward-thinking trusted employment law counsel and assertive representation on key employment issues to individuals experiencing problems in their employment relationship and companies wishing to execute “best practices” to improve employment relations and minimize litigation exposure.

North Carolina drivers often break the “move over” law

Many North Carolina residents may be aware that in 2002 our state passed a law that required vehicles to move over or reduce their speed if there is an emergency vehicle near them. That law was meant to safeguard accident victims, emergency crews and law enforcement officers who might be present at the scene of an accident. Sadly, as recent reports state, many drivers in the state are unaware of this law.

One example of such an incident occurred recently when a state trooper’s car was hit by another driver. According to reports, the incident happened when the trooper was investigating a car accident on U.S. Highway 70. A 22-year-old driver reportedly crashed into the trooper’s car. Stemming from this incident, and other similar cases, the North Carolina Highway Patrol has stepped up its efforts to apprehend those drivers who break the “move over” law. The fine for that violation is $250.

In addition to the safety of emergency workers and law enforcement officers, the “move over” law is also useful for the passengers of the vehicle at the site of the accident. While it is true that emergency workers and law enforcement officers may be able to obtain workers’ compensation, the same rule does not apply to the general public in the event of an accident like this. For such people, the only option may be to seek compensation by means of a personal injury claim against the negligent driver.

However, claiming compensation is a legal issue and it may be a complicated task for many people, especially when that person is injured because of the accident. Therefore, car accident victims, or their loved ones, oftentimes get more information about how personal injury claims need to be filed.

Source: WNCN.com, “NC drivers continue to violate ‘move over’ law,” June 30, 2015

This post was authored by The Law Offices of John M. McCabe, P.A. in Cary, North Carolina ~  Dependable & Aggressive Lawyers Serving All Of North Carolina.
Since 1994, injury victims in the Raleigh area have been able to count on The Law Offices of John M. McCabe, P.A. to pursue the compensation and benefits they deserve in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases.  Whether you were injured in a car accident, on-the-job accident, dog bite, or as a result of a defective product, they will go to bat for the outcome you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney from their firm, please call  919-899-9852 or toll free at 877-320-1851. Their firm has been given the highest ratings for their legal skills and ethics, including being named a Super Lawyer, one of the Best Lawyers in America and one of the top trial lawyers in North Carolina.

Flashing Lights to Avoid Blue Lights

Ever been driving down the road, street, or highway and see an oncoming vehicle flash headlights at you? No this is not a Herbie the Love Bug story. Instead, the flashing headlights are typically a “heads up” of law enforcement ahead. Undoubtedly this friendly advice has saved many a motorist from a traffic ticket and made things on the roadways a bit safer. Well, it seems some law enforcement agencies didn’t like this tactic and decided to charge motorists who flashed headlights at oncoming motorists. It now appears that several courts have decided that a motorist’s flashing of headlights, in most circumstances, is protected as free speech under the First Amendment.

If you find yourself snagged with a speeding ticket or other traffic citation DO NOT try to handle it yourself unless you understand the circumstances and potential consequences. Consult a traffic attorney to discuss your situation. Happy and safe motoring!

John T. O’Neal is a practicing attorney with the O’Neal Law Office in Greensboro, NC who focuses his practice in Personal Injury/Wrongful Death, Consumer Law (includes Auto Dealer Fraud/Vehicle Issues and Debt Defense Lemon Law), and various types of Civil Litigation handling cases across North Carolina. A long-time NCAJ member, he is a former Chair of the NCAJ Consumer Areas of Practice Section and a two-time Ebby Award winner.

Bounce Houses Pose a Significant Risk to Children

Children love to bounce and while everyone recognizes the obvious risks posed by trampolines, a brightly-colored castle-shaped balloon seems like safe fun. Whether these devices are completely enclosed or have side openings, children can easily fly up into the air and fall quickly to the ground, offering countless opportunities to sustain serious accidental injuries. With complex rules and regulations scattered within North Carolina legislation, it often takes support from an experienced Charlotte injury lawyer to help hold all responsible parties accountable.

The Many Risks of Bounce Houses

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an estimated 64,657 children age 17 and younger received emergency room treatment for bounce house injuries between 1990 and 2010. Even more disturbing, they reported a 15-fold increase in these injuries between 1995 and 2010 and a doubling between 2008 and 2010. Nearly 47 percent of injuries, which were primarily sprains and strains, occurred at places of sports or recreation, but home injuries were not far behind at nearly 38 percent.

The following are the most common causes of these injuries:

  • Falls in or on the bouncer (26.1 percent)
  • Falling from or getting in or out of the bouncers (17.2 percent)
  • Accidents involving other users, including colliding with or being pushed or pulled by another person (9.9 percent) or when another person falls on a victim (6.3 percent)

NC Regulations May Not Offer Adequate Protection

The Amusement Device Safety Act of North Carolina contains detailed regulations governing the actual operation and inspection of all amusement devices operated within the state. Still, it is easy to argue that injuries to children in bounce houses may be caused more by childlike behavior than by device defects.

In fact, even the inflatable device operation-specific regulations imposed by the North Carolina Administrative Code to provide appropriate supervision fail to truly address the types of accidents that can occur in a split second when more than one child is using a device.

Liability for these accidents can reside with numerous parties — including another child, supervisor inattention, improper setup and maintenance or improper manufacture. This means parents seeking compensation for injuries to their children need to enlist assistance from a personal injury law firm with the skills and resources necessary to conduct detailed investigations into the precise causes of these accidents.

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Brown, Moore & Associates, PLLC, represents personal injury and medical malpractice victims throughout North and South Carolina. The firm’s attorneys have in-depth experience in motor vehicle accident and workers’ compensation litigation, and are known as strong advocates for their clients’ interests. To identify all available legal options, call 800-948-0577 or use this convenient online contact form.

How to Prepare for Summer Road Trips

The warm, sunny season is a great time to get on the road with friends and family, exploring the country and various points of interest. To keep you and your passengers safe, we urge you to take a little time to prepare your vehicle and reduce your risk of getting in an auto accident. When it comes to road trip safety, a little preparation and vehicle maintenance can go a long way.

The following road-trip preparedness tips come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Routinely maintain your vehicle: Regular maintenance on your vehicle reduces your accident risk by eliminating the factor of a breakdown, tire blowout, belt snapping and other common problems. At a minimum, routine maintenance of your vehicle should include:
    • Oil change
    • Tune up
    • Battery test
    • Tire rotation/alignment
    • Tire pressure check
  • Buckle your seat belt every time: Seat belts save lives. They can prevent ejection from the vehicle in the event of an accident and also prevent serious injuries. According to the NHTSA, when front-seat passengers wear a seat belt, their risk of fatal injury is reduced by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury is reduced by 50 percent.
  • Never drink and drive: Alcohol delays your reaction time, reduces your ability to concentrate, impairs your vision, and makes you more drowsy. All of these things and other effects of drinking make it dangerous to drive and increase the risk of a drunk driving accident. Be a responsible driver and commit to never drink and drive. If you plan to drink, make sure a sober driver has been designated or that you have arranged for a taxi, Uber or other means of getting home.
  • Prevent distracted driving: Distraction is a major cause of car wrecks. Texting, talking on a phone, adjusting audio controls and using GPS navigation can all potentially lead to a distracted driving accident. Put away anything that distracts you from the task of driving during your road trip.
  • Obey “move over” laws: The “move over” law is effective in all 50 states and prevents accidents involving law enforcement officials providing motorist assistance on the side of the road. Move over to the other lane to give the officer(s) a safe distance from your vehicle.

These preparedness measures and any others you have adopted should help you stay safer when traveling the American roadways this summer season.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, please call the Ricci Law Firm for a free case review at (855) 444-9764. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at Ricci Law Firm serve Fayetteville, Greenville, Raleigh and all of the surrounding areas in North Carolina.