Chapter 7 Eligibility

Posted by on May 25, 2015 in Money | 0 comments

Not everyone can file for Chapter 7 in Texas even if they are drowning in debt. If you are eligible for Chapter 7, then it means you are not capable of restructuring it as you would under Chapter 13 even if you wanted to so that you can still meet your obligations. As determined by the means test, your income will simply not cover all your monthly payments without sacrificing your basic needs. In some cases, however, it could simply mean that you are unnecessarily spending more than what you earn, and this can make you ineligible. For Chapter 7 eligibility, you have to meet certain conditions.

The Means Test

According to the website of Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke PC, the means test for Chapter 7 only applies to people who have income that is over the median income for the applicable household size but are still unable to meet their debts. You can do this by applying a little organization and math. You need to get your current and future monthly income and expenses from your financial records.

Your income will include but not limited to your wages, business income, dividends, money from pension and retirement plans, and unemployment income. Your expenses will include only those that will recur over the next 60 months, legally required (such as child support) and essential for health and welfare. It should not include expenses for the purchase of luxury items such as designer clothing and recreational vehicles.

Once you have gotten all the information, subtract expenses from your income. If you come up with less than $7,475, then you pass the means test and are eligible for Chapter 7.

Median Income

On the other hand, you will not need to pass the means test under specific circumstances. One is when your annual income is less than the median income in Texas for your size household. For example, the median income for a two-member household is $56,296.00. If you live with one other person and your combined household income is $50,000, you will not have to take the means test.


You are also exempt from the means test if you are a disabled veteran, if you are on active duty as a military reservist or National Guard, or what you owe are primarily non-consumer debts. These are not cut-and-dried conditions however, so consult your attorney before doing anything.

If you believe you are eligible for Chapter 7, you can find out for sure. Your lawyer can better explain the details for these exceptions as they apply in your particular situation. Find a reputable bankruptcy lawyer in your area and get started.

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I Don’t Want to be in Storage Wars!

Posted by on Feb 11, 2015 in Storing Belongings | 0 comments

If you have ever caught an episode of the television show Storage Wars, then you have probably been fascinated by what people put in store. You may even have cheered for the buyers who happened on a rare or expensive find. However, have you ever stopped to think about the original owners of those items, and what they must be feeling about other people pawing over their personal possessions?

We already know that self-storage companies can auction off units that have been abandoned by their owners, otherwise there wouldn’t be a Storage Wars show. Legally, you grant the storage company a lien on the items that you place in self-storage the minute you sign the lease. This gives the storage company the right to sell the unit’s contents in case you don’t pay them the monthly rent. However, it doesn’t mean that if you are a day late in paying that they can just go in there and get your stuff. They have to follow a certain procedure that gives you the opportunity and time to address the issue so you can keep your things. There are state differences, but this is the typical timeline leading up to the actual auction.

  • Definition of default – you are in default when your contract lease says you are, so you need to know what is in there. The typical grace period is 5 days, but some allow up to 30 days before you are considered in default. At that point, the company can deny you access to your unit (presumably to prevent you from taking out your stuff) until you pay for what is past due.
  • Notifying the owner – the storage company has to send at least one letter of notice to you, the unit owner detailing the past due amount, late and other fees, and a scheduled auction date. The notice does not have to be via postal mail; many states allow email notices.
  • Informing the public – the next step is to post a public announcement about the scheduled auction in a conspicuous manner. This may include a poster near the storage company premises, twice in the local rag, or on a specific website. This will depend on what the state requires. Typically, the date of the auction is from 30 to 90 days after default.
  • Storage wars – You have until the day of the auction to pay up and stop them from selling your items. After your unit has been auctioned off, however, it’s game over. Your stuff is getting fifteen minutes of fame.

Storage companies are not in the business of selling other people’s property. They would much rather you pay off what you owe. They use the money they get from auctioning off the unit contents to cover what you owe them, but they don’t actually profit from it. If the unit goes for more than that, the company will usually notify you and you can claim it within a specific period.

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New Proposal to Affect Sexual Assault and Battery Cases in Texas

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 in Criminal Issues | 0 comments

During her run for Texas governor, candidate Wendy Davis announced a proposal to nullify the statute of limitations on sexual assault and battery cases in the state. The proposal was in part a criticism of her Republican opponent Greg Abbot, then the Attorney General, in what Davis characterizes as “siding” with a defendant in a liability case when Abbot was on the Texas Supreme Court panel.

Political agenda, if any, aside, the proposed bill will have a considerable impact for all parties involved in sexual assault and battery cases in Texas. Davis referred to the backlog in the of processing rape kits for months, even years after the fact, as “offensive” and that victims are being penalized for the state’s shortcomings when they are denied the right to have their cases heard because the statute of limitations has run out. The statute of limitations for sexual assault and battery in the state is 10 years.

However, the statute of limitations is imposed for good reason. Defendants in a criminal case are often under a cloud of suspicion even before they have had a chance to air their side of the story. In the case of sexual assault and battery, there are often no witnesses to the crime, so it is a double-edged knife. As pointed out on the website of Mark T. Lassiter, just as the victim cannot always prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime happened, the defendant cannot prove that it didn’t happen. This is why it is important for an individual accused of a crime to have a competent criminal defense lawyer handling the case.

To remove the statute of limitations for what too often could be a case with no merit means that the named defendant would live in uncertainty and unspoken suspicion for life. To say that in such cases that a formal charge would be a welcome relief would not be exaggerating. At the very least, it would put an end to fruitless speculation and result in some type of resolution, hopefully a just one.

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Texas on Identity Theft

Posted by on Oct 26, 2014 in Criminal Defense Law | 1 comment

In our increasingly electronic and largely anonymous world, the means by which we do much of our transactions are with the use of government-issued or institution-issued identification cards. We have also become used to having our personal information used to verify our identities as sufficiently safe and secure. The fact is, we are more vulnerable to identity fraud today than at any time in our history because of how easy it is for criminal elements to get access to our identification cards and personal information. For this reason, the law has become increasingly stringent in prosecuting those who are suspected of committing identity theft.

Identity theft, formally known as “fraudulent use or possession of identifying information” under Texas Law (Penal Code §32.21) is a felony, and a conviction carries escalating penalties depending on the circumstances. At the very least, it is a state fail felony with a minimum of 180 days in prison plus a fine; at worst, it is a first degree felony which means 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. People convicted of identity theft may also be required to pay restitution.

However, we can be breaking the law without knowing it. For example, if you know the information to get into your boss’s account and you accessed it regularly to verify some transactions without informing her each and every time that you would be doing this, you are technically in violation of this law. Now let’s say that your boss has a grudge against you and reported you to the police; you may find yourself hard put to defend yourself.

As pointed out on the website of Inglis Defense, it is advisable to get legal guidance when facing any type of criminal charge no matter how seemingly minor the offense is. It is so easy to make a mistake and pay the price for something you didn’t do. In the above instance, you will probably use the defense that you had no intention to harm or deceive your boss, which is a principal element in proving identity fraud.

Make no mistake, identity fraud is a serious crime, and can really wreak havoc on your life. When charged with a crime, consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

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Strategies to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Medication Error

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Medical Malpractice, Pharmaceutical Liability | 0 comments

More than 51 million prescription errors are made each year, and more than 1.3 million people are injured annually because of medication errors. What is even worse is that people who take prescription or over-the-counter drugs have no way of knowing if their medication is defective prior to taking them. Fortunately, there are precautionary steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim or pharmaceutical or medication error.

One step you can take is to open your bottle at the pharmacy. This can allow you to show the pills directly to your pharmacist, and to become aware if your medication looks differently than it has in the past. Another step is to avoid getting your prescription filled during the beginning of the month if possible. A study shows that medication errors rise by 25%, mostly because Social Security checks come in at the beginning of the month, causing pharmacies to be swamped with filling requests. The last precautionary step is to not be in a rush. You should take the time to learn exactly how to take your medication and what foods or other drugs to avoid while you’re taking it. Many drug names look similar, so taking the extra time to double check your prescription could also prevent you from taking the wrong drug altogether.

Medication errors are preventable, and could be the fault of the pharmacist who incorrectly dispensed the medication or the manufacturing company that created a faulty product. Pharmaceutical errors can be defects in a drug’s composition, or manufacturing errors that made the drug dangerous. Common examples of these defects include mislabeling, unintended side effects, undiscovered drug interactions, or contaminated drugs. Never be afraid to ask your doctor or pharmacist about your medication, you could be saving yourself from pharmaceutical malpractice.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a pharmaceutical error, make sure to contact a pharmaceutical liability lawyer today. An attorney will be able to help you through your case and explain the complexities of your situation.

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Auto Accidents Due to Drunk-Driving

Posted by on Jul 1, 2014 in Car Accidents, Drunk Driving Accidents | 2 comments

Alcohol and driving is a combination that will never work. Besides putting yourself at risk once you take the wheels after downing a glass or two of alcohol, you also compromise others’ (motorists and pedestrians) safety. Drunk-driving is one of the major causes of auto accidents in the United States. With more than five million mishaps every year, motorists become unsafe once they get on the same road with a drunk driver.

Alcohol affects or impairs a person’s mental and motor skills. Regardless of the type of alcoholic beverage taken, it is always the amount that will affect a person’s performance; thus, the more he or she drinks, the more impaired he or she will be.

Though it is a fact that the level of tolerance to alcohol differ from one person to another, rendering habitual drinkers more sober than social drinkers even after consuming bottles of alcohol, the measurement of blood alcohol content (BAC) or blood ethanol concentration is the same in all US jurisdictions: 0.08%. A normal male who weighs 160 lb. (the subject considered as basis for measuring BAC), after consuming two or three glasses of beer within an hour, will have about 0.04% BAC.

In an effort to reduce the number of accidents due to drunk-driving, the US government has imposed the dram shop and social host liabilities. Dram shop liability refers to the legal accountability of liquor stores, taverns, and other commercial establishments that sell alcohol to minors or already intoxicated persons who end up in car accidents and injure someone else. Social host liability, on the other hand, refers to the legal responsibility of hosts of parties or gatherings who continue to serve alcohol to already intoxicated individuals who subsequently get caught in an accident and injure someone.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to drunk driving, make sure to contact a personal injury lawyer today to discuss your situation. An attorney will be able to talk you through the process and support you during this stressful time.

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CDC Concerned About Human Antibiotic Resistance

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Health | 2 comments

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) hasn’t been vigilant in the past about warning, or even confirming, that antibiotics used on livestock affect human immune resistance to antibiotics. However, on Monday September 16, 2013, the CDC released an assessment confirming the advancement of drug resistance in humans as being related to antibiotics administered in agriculture.

According to the assessment released by the CDC, more antibiotics per volume are used on food-producing animals than people in the United States. The wide-spread development of drug-resistant bacteria in animals renders them carriers of harmful food borne illness like E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter.

Having this suspicion definitively confirmed by the CDC, consumers and researchers want to find solutions that allow the agricultural and livestock industries to thrive while also providing people with safe and nourishing food. Many have observed that animals should only be administered antibiotic medicines under veterinary supervision. In addition, the antibiotics give to animals should serve only to treat disease and not to accelerate growth.

Another cause for concern in antibiotic resistance exists in the transmission that occurs in hospitals. Many times people can be affected ingesting ill-prepared meat, but bacterium can also easilty spread in hospitals because of inadequate sanitation by doctors, nurses, custodial, workers, and visitors. When their report was released CDC director, Dr. Thomas Friedan, made a point to mention the spread of antibiotic resistance occurs through food consumption as well as lacking sanitation in high-risk areas, like medical facilities.

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Defunct Virus Resurfaces in Texas Megachurch

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in Health | 0 comments

Unvaccinated members of a Texas megachurch contracted what has once been considered an eradicated disease in the US when a member brought in the virus from overseas.

The Eagle Mountain International Church, a non-denominational church located in Newark, Texas associated with the Kenneth Copeland Ministries, is the site of infection for 21 cases of measles among its congregation. The viral disease is extremely contagious, but decades of vaccination have all but wiped it out of the US. The recent outbreak was due to the fact that many of the members of the megachurch are not vaccinated against the virus. Of the 21 who came down with measles, at least 16 were not vaccinated.

Kenneth Copeland is a televangelist who, aside from spreading the prosperity gospel, preached that a true believer would put his or her trust in God and not in modern medicine. While church officials deny that the ministry is anti-vaccination, church members subscribe to the belief that getting vaccinations is a sign of fear and doubt in God. The senior pastors of the EMIC are the daughter and son in law of Kenneth Copeland, Terri and George Pearsons, who tell their congregation to get vaccinated and in the same breath remind them that if they have faith they will not need it.

It is the opinion of the church’s critics and members alike that the views of EMIC and the Kenneth Copeland Ministries are clear; it is a sign of a weak or absent faith to rely on modern medicine. That this will lead to serious health consequences in the future seems likely.

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What is Insider Trading?

Posted by on Jul 25, 2013 in Commodities and Securities, Insider Trading | 0 comments

It is common knowledge that both Martha Stewart and Enron were busted for insider trading. However, many people are unaware of what insider trading actually is, and that there are legal and illegal forms of it. The SEC serves to regulate stock trading within the U.S. and go after those who chose to engage in illegal insider trading. When regulations aren’t followed, it corrupts the market that relies on the fairness of competition and participation in order to run properly.

When an employee buys or sells stock from the company they work for, that is considered legal insider trading. The line between legal and illegal trading is crossed when a person can impact a company’s stock price, and then makes a trade based on that knowledge. For example, an employee who finds out that their company will have higher annual revenue than expected and then buys shares in their company based on that information, has just committed a form of illegal insider trading. If that employee shares their information with friends or family who then buy company shares, then the friends and family are considered to be engaging in illegal insider trading as well.

A person violates the law when they breach their duty to keep certain information confidential. The employee who gave information to his friends and family breached this duty. Even though these people are outsiders, they are liable for securities fraud because they are using inside information to their own advantage. This liability is called the misappropriation theory, and applies to people who receive material information that isn’t public.

Using inside information is illegal because that knowledge is not available to everyone trading, and therefore, gives the person with that knowledge an inside advantage. The United States has some of the strictest laws against illegal insider trading, and the SEC goes to great lengths in order to enforce them.

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Medical Mistakes and Cerebral Palsy

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Birth Injuries, Cerebral Palsy, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury | 0 comments

Each year, around 10,000 babies develop cerebral palsy, and unfortunately, thousands of these cases are a result of medical malpractice. When proper procedure is not followed, it can have permanent results for your child.

Cerebral Palsy is caused by a brain injury that occurs during brain development. It typically develops by the age of three and can have symptoms such as stiff or weak muscles mainly in the arms or legs, tremors, irregular twisting motions, or fragmented motor movements. Affected babies are often slow to learn to roll over, crawl, walk, or smile. Mistakes such as failure to recognize seizures, leaving the baby in the birth canal too long, or failure to treat the mothers changing conditions are medical mistakes that can cause babies to develop cerebral palsy. A few signs that can indicate your baby may be a victim of medical malpractice leading to cerebral palsy include:

  • Your baby required oxygen after birth
  • Your baby required CPR, a brain scan, or special care after birth
  • Your baby had seizures either immediately after birth or within 3-4 days of life

Brachial Plexus palsy is a common birth injury involving weakness arm, shoulder, or hand muscles. Most infants with brachial plexus palsy make a complete recovery, but some continue to suffer from arm weakness and require physical therapy or surgery. A brachial plexus injury can occur naturally, but there are some medically negligent events that can cause this injury during birth. These events include failure to perform an appropriate c-section, excessive stretching or manipulation of the neck or shoulders, or the use of forceps.

Treatment, therapy, and surgery can be draining, so it is important to contact a cerebral palsy lawyer if you believe your child is suffering from cerebral palsy due to medical malpractice.

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