PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING TERMS OF SERVICES & LEGAL NOTICES (‘THIS AGREEMENT’) CAREFULLY BEFORE USING THE ATTORNEYSANJOSECA.COM WEBSITE (the ‘Site’ or ‘Website‘). These terms explain your (and our) rights under this Agreement, and make certain disclosures required by the law. By using the Site, you give your assent to the terms of this Agreement. If you do not agree to these terms, you may not use the Site. Rupe Enterprises LLC. (‘Rupe Enterprises LLC’,’ ‘We’ or ‘Our’) has the right, in our sole discretion, to modify, add, or remove any terms or conditions of this Agreement without giving individual notice to you, by posting the changes on the Site. Your continuing use of the Site signifies your acceptance of any such changes.
Use of this Site is licensed to various law firms across the United States (the “law firms” or ‘Law Firms’) to (i) allow each such Law Firm to promote its own web site and practice, (ii) facilitate the public’s ability to learn about the law and (iii) interact with personal injury attorneys (it being understood that not all area codes will include a licensing law firm at all times). In addition to educating the general public about the law, each Law Firm provides users with the ability to submit information about their specific personal injury case, and to request to be contacted by such Law Firm to discuss their case and to possibly hire it to represent them. You understand that Rupe Enterprises LLC does not refer attorneys or law firms, and does not endorse or recommend any of the law firms which license use of the Site. Rupe Enterprises LLC does not make any representation and has not made any judgment as to the qualifications, expertise or credentials of any participating lawyer or Law Firm. Lawyers and Law Firms are included solely based upon the payment of an advertising fee. It is your decision alone whether or not to work with a licensing law firm.
Website itself is not a law firm but rather a website owned (or, as applicable, licensed) and operated by Rupe Enterprises LLC. Rupe Enterprises LLC does not receive any portion of any lawyer’s or law firm’s fees and any arrangements subsequently made by you and any lawyer or law firm are strictly between you and such party and do not involve Rupe Enterprises LLC in any way. You understand that Rupe Enterprises LLC, and, to the extent applicable, its licensors, does nothing more than license the use of this Site to Law Firms to allow such Law Firms to better market their respective practices, and, in certain instances, provide various ancillary support services.
THIS WEBSITE IS AN ADVERTISEMENT OF LEGAL SERVICES, and all of the materials and information on the Site are provided for informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments or variances in the law of different jurisdictions. Nothing on the Site should be construed as legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. Neither Rupe Enterprises LLC nor any of its licensors provides legal advice (although a licensing Law Firm may provide legal advice to you in the event you engage such Law Firm to serve as your legal counsel). The materials and information on the Site do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorneys of the Law Firms, their partners, clients or affiliates. The information in the Site is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up to date. The Site is not intended to, and does not, constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between you and the attorneys of any of the Law Firms, their partners, employees, agents or affiliates, or any other attorney associated with the Site. Additionally, the mere receipt of an e-mail from or a “post” on the Site does not create an attorney-client relationship. The applicable Law Firm is solely responsible for providing its services to you, and you agree that Rupe Enterprises LLC shall not be liable for any damages or costs of any type arising out of or in any way connected with your use of such services (including, without limitation, claims based on malpractice). You agree that any claim arising out of your relationship with a Law Firm or attorney shall be brought solely against such Law Firm or attorney, and, as Rupe Enterprises LLC is doing nothing more than assisting the Law Firms to market their respective practices, neither Rupe Enterprises LLC nor any of its licensors or affiliates shall be included within any such claim.
YOU SHOULD NOT ACT OR RELY ON THE BASIS OF ANY INFORMATION ON THE SITE WITHOUT SEEKING AND RETAINING THE ADVICE OF AN ATTORNEY.
3. Submission of Information
5. Modifications to the Site
We reserve the right at any time and from time to time to modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, the Site (or any part of it) with or without notice. In the event of a modification or discontinuance, all information submitted by you and others may be lost. You agree to keep a permanent record of all information provided to us, and you agree that all information submitted to us is at your sole risk. You agree that we have no responsibility or liability for the deletion or failure to store any Content maintained or transmitted by the Site including without limitation messages and other communications. You agree that we shall not be liable to you or to any third party for any modification, suspension or discontinuance of the Service.
6. Participation in the Site
By submitting information to, reading, participating, or otherwise using the Site, you agree that you will abide by the following rules:
- The Site may only be used in good faith and may not be used to transmit or otherwise make available any information that is false or that you do not have a right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships (such as inside information, proprietary and confidential information learned or disclosed as part of employment relationships or under nondisclosure agreements), to threaten, abuse, harass, or invade the rights of any person or entity, to infringe on any person or entity’s intellectual property rights, or in any other way that could reasonably be deemed unethical, illegal, or offensive.
- You may not misidentify yourself or impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity (e.g., pretend to be a different person or from a different company or organization).
- Unless you have our prior written consent, you will not post advertisements or promotional materials, solicit participants and/or visitors of the Site, reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, resell or exploit for any commercial purposes, any portion of the Site or its Services, use of the Site or it Services, or access to the Site or its Services.
- You are prohibited from using any type of computer ‘worm,’ ‘virus’ or any other device that is intended or is likely to disrupt, overload, or otherwise impair the workings of any part of the Site. If you do engage in such conduct, the resulting damage will be hard to quantify as a dollar amount and thus you hereby agree to pay us liquidated damages in the amount of $5,000 for each day that the Site is damaged until the Site is completely repaired. This amount is derived by estimating the value of (1) the loss of good will caused by an inoperable site, (2) the time and money it will take to repair the Site and to address the concerns of visitors. We are required to use reasonable efforts to repair the Site as quickly as possible. This clause will not prohibit us from seeking additional compensation if your conduct injures us in a way not expressly contemplated herein.
- You are not permitted to collect or store personal data about other users.
- You are not permitted to access the Site for the purpose of data mining or extracting content from the Site beyond your personal end use.
- You are permitted to use the Site to find an attorney or law firm to perform legal services for you related to your personal injury and to obtain general information about personal injury cases(each, a “Permissible Use”). You are not permitted to use the Site for any other reason other than a Permissible Use as described above. Impermissible Uses shall include, but are not limited to, using the Site to order to solicit, hire, engage or otherwise work with the employees or affiliates of Rupe Enterprises LLC or the attorneys or law firms who sponsor Rupe Enterprises LLC, to interfere or attempt to interfere in the relationship between Rupe Enterprises LLC and such employees, affiliates, attorneys, or Law Firms, or for any other purpose other than described herein (each, an “Impermissible Use”). If you do engage in such conduct, the resulting damage will be hard to quantify as a dollar amount and thus you hereby agree to pay us liquidated damages in the amount of $10,000 for each Impermissible Use. You further agree that this liquidated damages provision reasonably approximates actual costs, losses, and expenses which would be incurred by Rupe Enterprises LLC due to any such Impermissible Use. You also agree that nothing in this section is intended to limit Rupe Enterprises LLC’s right to obtain injunctive and other relief as may be appropriate.
- You may not forge headers or otherwise manipulate identifiers in order to disguise the origin of any Content transmitted through the Site.
- You agree to not harm minors in any way.
- You shall not intentionally or unintentionally violate any applicable local, state, national or international law, including, but not limited to, regulations promulgated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, any rules of any national or other securities exchange, including, without limitation, the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange or the NASDAQ, and any regulations having the force of law.
- In the event you submit information through the Site, you agree to provide true, accurate, current and complete information and agree to promptly update the information to keep it true, accurate, current and complete. If you provide any information that is untrue, inaccurate, not current or incomplete, and/or we have reasonable grounds to suspect that such information is untrue, inaccurate, not current or incomplete, we have the right to suspend or terminate your participation in the Site and/or refuse any and all current or future use of the Site or its services (or any portion thereof).
- You understand and agree that all information, statistical data, text, software, music, sound, photographs, graphics, video, messages or other materials (Content), whether publicly posted or privately transmitted by you and other users of our service, are the sole responsibility of the person from which such Content originated. This means that you, and not us, are entirely responsible for all Content that you upload, post, email or otherwise transmit via the Site. We do not control all of the Content posted via the Site and, as such, do not guarantee the accuracy, integrity or quality of such Content. You understand that by using the Site, you may be exposed to Content that is offensive, indecent or objectionable. Under no circumstances will we be liable in any way for any Content, including, but not limited to, for any errors or omissions in any Content, or for any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of any Content posted, emailed or otherwise transmitted via the Site.
- You acknowledge that we may or may not pre-screen Content, but that we and our designees shall have the right (but not the obligation) in our sole discretion to prescreen, refuse, or move any Content that is available via the Site. Without limiting the foregoing, we and our designees shall have the right (but not the obligation) to remove any Content that violates this agreement or is otherwise objectionable.
7. Intellectual Property Rights
You acknowledge and agree that the Site and any necessary software used in connection with the Site may contain proprietary and confidential information that is protected by applicable intellectual property and other laws. Except for the limited license contained in paragraph 8 below, nothing in these Terms and Conditions grants or should be construed to grant any licenses or rights, by implication, estoppel or otherwise, under copyright or other intellectual property rights. You agree that all right, title and interest (including all copyrights, trademarks, service marks, patents and other intellectual property rights) in this Site and its content belong to us, or our licensers, as applicable. No part of the materials including graphics or logos, available in this Site may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without specific permission. Except as expressly authorized by us, you further agree not to modify, rent, lease, loan, sell, distribute or create derivative works based on the Site or the software, in whole or in part.
8. Limited License; Permitted Uses
You are granted a non-exclusive, nontransferable, revocable license (1) to access and use the Site strictly in accordance with these Terms and Conditions; (2) to use the Site solely for internal, personal, noncommercial purposes; and (3) to print out discrete information and search results from the Site solely for internal, personal, noncommercial purposes and provided that you maintain all copyright and other notices contained therein.
9. Restrictions and Prohibitions on Use
10. No Solicitation
You shall not distribute on or through the Site or to any persons or entities identified via the Site any content or material containing solicitations or advertising of any kind without our express prior written permission.
You agree to indemnify and hold us, and our licensors, subsidiaries, affiliates, equity holders, directors, officers, agents, third party contractors and employees, harmless from all damages, costs, liabilities, and any claim or demand made by any third party, including reasonable attorney’s fees due to or arising out of Content you submit, post to or transmit through the Site, your use of the Site, your connection to the Site, your violation of this agreement, or your violation of any rights of another person, or due to or arising from such activities carried out by a person using your Rupe Enterprises LLC account or password, with your knowledge.
12. Errors and Corrections
We do not represent or warrant that the Site will be error-free, free of viruses or other harmful components, or that defects will be corrected. We do not warrant or represent that the information available on or through the Site will be correct, accurate, timely, or otherwise reliable. We may (but are not obligated to) make improvements and/or changes to its features, functionality or content of the Site at any time. In no event shall we be liable for any such errors or defects.
By using the Site, you do not acquire any rights to the Site other than the limited license to use the Site (as set forth in paragraph 8 above) that can be terminated in accordance with this section. You agree that we, in our sole discretion, may terminate your password, account (or any part thereof) or use of the Site, and remove and discard any Content within the Site, for any reason, including, without limitation, non-payment, for lack of use, or if we believe that you have violated or acted inconsistently with the letter or spirit of this agreement. We may also in our sole discretion and at any time discontinue providing the Site, or any part thereof, with or without notice. You agree that any termination of your access to the Site under any provision of this agreement may be effected without prior notice, and acknowledge and agree that we may immediately deactivate or delete your account and all related Content information and files in your account and/or bar any further access to such files or the Site. Further, you agree that we shall not be liable to you or any third-party for any termination of your access to the Site.
14. Third-Party Content
Third-party content may appear on this Site or may be accessible via links from this Site. We shall not be responsible for and assume no liability for any mistakes, misstatements of law, defamation, omissions, falsehood, obscenity, pornography or profanity in the statements, opinions, representations or any other form of content contained in any third-party content appearing on the Site. You understand that the information and opinions in the third-party content represent solely the thoughts of the author and is neither endorsed by us nor does it reflect our beliefs.
15. Dealings with Advertisers
Your correspondence or business dealings with, or participation in promotions of, advertisers found on or through the Site, including payment and delivery of related goods or services, and any other terms, conditions, warranties or representations associated with such dealings, are solely between you and such advertiser. You agree that we shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage of any sort incurred as the result of any such dealings or as the result of the presence of such advertisers on the Site.
16. Links to Other Websites
The Site may contain ‘hyperlinks’ to websites neither owned nor controlled by us and we are not responsible for, and, unless otherwise noted specifically, make no representations or endorsements with respect to these sites or with respect to any service or product associated with these sites. By including these hyperlinks, we do not mean to state or imply that we sponsor, are affiliated with, or are legally authorized to use any trade name, registered trademark, service mark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol that may be reflected in the hyperlinks.
17. Disclosures Regarding Attorney Advertising
THIS SITE MAY CONTAIN ADVERTISING MATERIAL OR LAWYER ADVERTISEMENTS
Some jurisdictions may consider the Site to be a form of advertising for legal services and as such may require specific disclosures. Please read the following carefully:
THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Anyone considering a lawyer should independently investigate the lawyer’s credentials and ability, and not rely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. Hiring a lawyer is an important process that should not be based solely upon advertisements.
None of the Law Firms operate as a lawyer-advertising cooperative, lawyer referral service, prepaid legal insurance provider, or similar organization the business or activities of which include the referral of customers, members, or beneficiaries to lawyers for the performance of fee-generating legal services or the payment for or provision of legal services to the customers, members, or beneficiaries in matters for which they do not bear ultimate responsibility.
FREE BACKGROUND INFORMATION AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST Before you decide to hire any of the Law Firms, ask them to send you free written information about their qualifications and experience. Additional information about the lawyers or firms may also be obtained by contacting the Bar Association in the State in which such lawyers or law firms are licensed.
No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. Memberships and offices in legal fraternities and legal societies, technical and professional licenses, and memberships in scientific, technical and professional associations and societies of law or fields of practice do not mean that a lawyer is a specialist, expert, authority or is certified in a particular field of law, nor do such memberships or licenses mean that such a lawyer is more expert or competent than any other lawyer.
A description or indication of limitation of practice does not mean that any agency or board has certified such lawyer as a specialist, expert or authority in an indicated field of law practice, nor does it mean that such lawyer is more expert or competent than any other lawyer. We urge all potential clients to make their own independent investigation and evaluation of any lawyer being considered.
Except where otherwise indicated, none of the Law Firms are certified by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (‘Not Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization’), or any other entity or body. The fact that certain attorneys or firms concentrate their practices in personal injury cases (or any other field) is not meant to imply that they have gained any specific type of certification in these areas. Indeed, many states-including Illinois-do not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and explicitly state that any such certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in those states.
ADDITIONAL STATE SPECIFIC DISCLOSURES:
You are advised that no representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.
Florida Rule of Professional Conduct 4-7.10(c) defines a group advertising program operated by an organization wherein the legal services advertisements utilize a common telephone number and potential clients are then referred only to lawyers or law firms participating in the group advertising program to be a lawyer referral service. By all other standards, we and the joint advertising ventures for which we are an agent are not lawyer referral services.
THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT.
FREE BACKGROUND INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.
Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
The Wyoming State Bar does not certify any lawyer as a specialist or expert. Anyone considering a lawyer should independently investigate the lawyer’s credentials and ability, and not rely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise.
This site is intended to provide useful, factual information presented in a non-sensational, objective and understandable manner. The images and pictures on this site are not meant to represent or depict actual persons or events, but rather are merely provided for illustrative purposes only.
This Site is not intended for the purpose of advertising legal services to be performed in any state solely by the Law Firms, unless they are specifically licensed to practice in that respective State.
To the extent that this Site does not comply with the laws or regulations of any jurisdiction in which it may be received, the Law Firms do not wish to, and will not knowingly, accept legal representation based on or resulting from the use of the Site from a person located in that jurisdiction. None of the Law Firms wish to, or knowingly will, accept legal representation based on or resulting from the use of the Site from a person located outside the United States.
18. Disclaimer of Warranties
YOU EXPRESSLY UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT: YOUR USE OF THE SITE IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK. ALL CONTENT AND SERVICES ON THE SITE IS PROVIDED SOLELY ON AN ‘AS-IS/AS-AVAILABLE’ BASIS. TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, WE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY, SATISFACTORY QUALITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE, AS TO THE RESULTS YOU MAY ACHIEVE ON ACCOUNT YOUR USE OF THE SITE, AS TO THE RESULTS YOU MAY ACHIEVE ON ACCOUNT OF ANY RELATIONSHIP YOU ELECT TO CREATE WITH AN ATTORNEY OR LAW FIRM, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. NEITHER Rupe Enterprises LLC NOR ANY OF ITS LICENSORS OR AFFILIATES MAKES ANY REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES REGARDING ANY LAW FIRM, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY LAW FIRM’S ABILITY TO OBTAIN A FAVORABLE RESULT FOR YOU.
WE DO NOT GUARANTY THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF ANY CONTENT OR SERVICES AND WE DO NOT GUARANTY IN ANY SERVICES OR GOODS ASSOCIATED WITH THE SITE WILL BE ERROR-FREE OR UNINTERRUPTED, OR THAT ANY SERVICE OR GOOD WILL CONTINUE TO BE AVAILABLE.
ANY MATERIAL DOWNLOADED OR OTHERWISE OBTAINED THROUGH THE USE OF THE SERVICE IS DONE AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION AND RISK AND THAT YOU WILL BE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE TO YOUR COMPUTER SYSTEM OR LOSS OF DATA THAT RESULTS FROM THE DOWNLOAD OF ANY SUCH MATERIAL.
NO INFORMATION, WHETHER ORAL OR WRITTEN, OBTAINED BY YOU FROM US OR THROUGH OR FROM THE SITE SHALL CREATE ANY WARRANTY NOT EXPRESSLY STATED IN THIS AGREEMENT.
19. Limitation of Liability
YOU EXPRESSLY UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT WE SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF REVENUES, PROFITS, GOODWILL, USE, DATA, FAILURE TO REALIZE EXPECTED SAVINGS, OR OTHER INTANGIBLE LOSSES (EVEN IF WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES), RESULTING FROM: (i) THE USE OR THE INABILITY TO USE THE SITE; (ii) THE COST OF PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS AND SERVICES RESULTING FROM ANY GOODS, DATA, INFORMATION OR SERVICES PURCHASED OR OBTAINED OR MESSAGES RECEIVED OR TRANSACTIONS ENTERED INTO THROUGH OR FROM THE SITE; (iii) INVALID DESTINATIONS, TRANSMISSION ERRORS, OR UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS TO OR ALTERATION OF YOUR TRANSMISSIONS OR DATA; (iv) STATEMENTS OR CONDUCT OF ANY THIRD PARTY ON THE SITE; (v) YOUR FAILURE TO RECEIVE ANY THIRD PARTY SERVICES OR PRODUCTS REQUESTED THROUGH THE SITE OR (vi) ANY OTHER MATTER RELATING TO THE SITE. IN NO EVENT ARE WE LIABLE TO YOU FOR AN AMOUNT IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU TO US FOR THE SERVICES IN QUESTION, IF ANY.
20. Exclusions And Limitations
SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OF CERTAIN WARRANTIES OR THE LIMITATION OR EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES. ACCORDINGLY, SOME OF THE ABOVE LIMITATIONS OF SECTIONS 19 AND 20 MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.
21. Entire Agreement
This agreement constitutes the entire agreement between you and us and governs your use of the Site, superseding any prior agreements between you and us. You also may be subject to additional terms and conditions that may apply when you use or purchase certain other services, affiliate services, third-party content or third-party software.
22. Choice of Forum
Any disputes arising out or related to use of this Site, this agreement and/or the relationship between you and us shall be submitted to arbitration in San Jose, California carried out in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association.
23. Waiver and Severability of Terms
Our failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of this agreement shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any provision of the agreement is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, the parties nevertheless agree that the court should endeavor to give effect to the parties’ intentions as reflected in the provision, and the other provisions of the agreement shall remain in full force and effect.
24. Statute of Limitations
You agree that regardless of any statute or law to the contrary, any claim or cause of action arising out of or related to use of this Site, this agreement and/or the relationship between you and us must be filed within one (1) year after such claim or cause of action arose or be forever barred.
25. Attorney Ethics Notice
If you are an attorney, participating in any aspect of this Site, you acknowledge that rules of professional conduct apply to all aspects of your participation and that you will abide by such rules. The rules include, but are not limited to, the rules relating to advertising, solicitation of clients, unauthorized practice of law, and misrepresentations of fact. We disclaim all responsibility for your compliance with these rules.
The section titles in this agreement are for convenience only and have no legal or contractual effect.
DISCLOSURES REQUIRED UNDER SECTION 527 AND 342 OF THE BANKRUPTCY ABUSE PREVENTION AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT OF 2005. NOTICE NO. 1
Notice Mandated By Section 342(b)(1) and 527(a)(1) Of The Bankruptcy Code
PURPOSES, BENEFITS AND COSTS OF BANKRUPTCY
The United States Constitution provides a method whereby individuals, burdened by excessive debt, can obtain a “fresh start” and pursue productive lives unimpaired by past financial problems. It is an important alternative for persons strapped with more debt and stress than they can handle.
The federal bankruptcy laws were enacted to provide good, honest, hard-working debtors with a fresh start and to establish a ranking and equity among all the creditors clamoring for the debtor’s limited resources.
Bankruptcy helps people avoid the kind of permanent discouragement that can prevent them from ever re-establishing themselves as hard working members of society.
To the extent that there may be money or property available for distribution to creditors, creditors are ranked to make sure that money or property is fairly distributed according to established rules as to which creditors get what.
This discussion is intended only as a brief overview of the types of bankruptcy filings and of what a bankruptcy filing can and cannot do. No one should base their decision as to whether or not to file bankruptcy solely on this information. Bankruptcy law is complex, and there are many considerations that must be taken into account in making the determination whether or not to file. Anyone considering bankruptcy is encouraged to make no decision about bankruptcy without seeking the advice and assistance of an experienced attorney who practices nothing but bankruptcy law.
Types of Bankruptcy
The Bankruptcy Code is divided into chapters. The chapters which almost always apply to consumer debtors are chapter 7, known as a “straight bankruptcy”, and chapter 13, which involves an affordable plan of repayment.
An important feature applicable to all types of bankruptcy filings is the automatic stay. The automatic stay means that the mere request for bankruptcy protection automatically stops and brings to a grinding halt most lawsuits, repossessions, foreclosures, evictions, garnishments, attachments, utility shut offs, and debt collection harassment. It offers debtors a breathing spell by giving the debtor and the trustee assigned to the case time to review the situation and develop an appropriate plan. In most circumstances, creditors cannot take any further action against the debtor or the property without permission from the bankruptcy court.
In a chapter 7 case, the bankruptcy court appoints a trustee to examine the debtor’s assets to determine if there are any assets not protected by available “exemptions”. Exemptions are laws that allow a debtor to keep, and not part with, certain types and amounts of money and property. For example, exemption laws allows a debtor to protect a certain amount of equity in the debtor’s residence, motor vehicle, household goods, life insurance, health aids, retirement plans, specified future earnings such as social security benefits, child support, and alimony, and certain other types of personal property. If there is any non-exempt property, it is the Trustee’s job to sell it and to distribute the proceeds among the unsecured creditors. Although a liquidation case can rarely help with secured debt (the secured creditor still has the right to repossess the collateral if the debtor falls behind in the monthly payments), the debtor will be discharged from the legal obligation to pay unsecured debts such as credit card debts, medical bills and utility arrearages. However, certain types of unsecured debt are allowed special treatment and cannot be discharged. These include some student loans, alimony, child support, criminal fines, and some taxes.
Additional information about chapter 7 is available at the Site.
In addition to attorney fees, there is a filing fee that must be paid to the Bankruptcy Court.
In a chapter 13 case, the debtor puts forward a plan, following the rules set forth in the bankruptcy laws, to repay certain creditors over a period of time, usually from future income. A chapter 13 case may be advantageous in that the debtor is allowed to get caught up on mortgages or car loans without the threat of foreclosure or repossession, and is allowed to keep both exempt and nonexempt property. The debtor’s plan is a document outlining to the bankruptcy court how the debtor proposes to dispose of the claims of the debtor’s creditors. The debtor’s property is protected from seizure from creditors, including mortgage and other lien holders, as long as the proposed payments are made and necessary insurance coverages remain in place. The plan generally requires monthly payments to the bankruptcy trustee over a period of three to five years. Arrangements can be made to have these payments made automatically through payroll deductions.
Additional information about chapter 13 is available at the Site.
In addition to attorney fees, there is a filing fee that must be paid to the Bankruptcy Court.
By and large, chapter 11 is a type of bankruptcy reserved for large corporate reorganizations. Chapter 11 shares many of the qualities of a chapter 13, but tends to involve much more complexity on a much larger scale.
However, since chapter 11 does not usually pertain to individuals whose debts are primarily consumer debts, further information about chapter 11 will be provided by reference to the following resource: The ABankruptcy [email protected] brochure prepared by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, dated June 2000, and which can be accessed over the internet by visiting the following website: www.uscourts.gov/bankruptcycourts.html.
Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code was enacted by Congress in 1986, specifically to meet the needs of financially distressed family farmers. The primary purpose of this legislation was to give family farmers facing bankruptcy a chance to reorganize their debts and keep their farms.
However, as with chapter 11, since chapter 12 does not usually pertain to individuals whose debts are primarily consumer debts, further information about chapter 12 will be provided by reference to the same “Bankruptcy Basics” brochure referred to above, which can be accessed over the internet at the same said website as mentioned for chapter 11.
What Bankruptcy Can and Cannot Do
Bankruptcy may make it possible for financially distressed individuals to:
- Discharge liability for most or all of their debts and get a fresh start. When the debt is discharged, the debtor has no further legal obligation to pay the debt.
- Stop foreclosure actions on their home and allow them an opportunity to catch up on missed payments.
- Prevent repossession of a car or other property, or force the creditor to return property even after it has been repossessed.
- Stop wage garnishment and other debt collection harassment, and give the individual some breathing room.
- Restore or prevent termination of certain types of utility service.
- Lower the monthly payments and interest rates on debts, including secured debts such as car loans.
- Allow debtors an opportunity to challenge the claims of certain creditors who have committed fraud or who are otherwise seeking to collect more than they are legally entitled to.
Bankruptcy, however, cannot cure every financial problem. It is usually not possible to:
- Eliminate certain rights of secured creditors. Although a debtor can force secured creditors to take payments over time in the bankruptcy process, a debtor generally cannot keep the collateral unless the debtor continues to pay the debt.
- Discharge types of debts singled out by the federal bankruptcy statutes for special treatment, such as child support, alimony, student loans, certain court ordered payments, criminal fines, and some taxes.
- Protect all cosigners on their debts. If relative or friend co signed a loan which the debtor discharged in bankruptcy, the cosigner may still be obligated to repay whatever part of the loan not paid during the pendency of the bankruptcy case.
- Discharge debts that are incurred after bankruptcy has been filed.
Bankruptcy’s Effect on Your Credit
By federal law, a bankruptcy can remain part of a debtor’s credit history for 10 years. Whether or not the debtor will be granted credit in the future is unpredictable, and probably depends, to a certain extent, on what good things the debtor does in the nature of keeping a job, saving money, making timely payments on secured debts, etc.
Services Available From Credit Counseling Agencies
If you’re not disciplined enough to create a workable budget and stick to it, can’t work out a repayment plan with your creditors, can’t keep track of mounting bills, or need more help with your debts than can be achieved by merely having a few of your unsecured creditors lower your interest rates somewhat, it probably makes little sense to consider contacting a credit counseling organization.
If, on the other hand, you meet all or most of those criteria, there are many non-profit credit counseling organizations that will work with you to solve your financial problems.
But be aware that, just because an organization says it’s “nonprofit,” there’s no guarantee that its services are free, affordable or even legitimate.
Most credit counselors offer services through local offices, the Internet, or on the telephone. If possible, it probably best to find an organization that offers in person counseling. Many universities, military bases, credit unions, housing authorities, and branches of the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service operate nonprofit credit counseling programs. Your financial institution, local consumer protection agency, and friends and family also may be good sources of information and referrals.
Reputable credit counseling organizations can advise you on managing your money and debts, help you develop a budget, and offer free educational materials and workshops. Their counselors are certified and trained in the areas of consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting. Legitimate counselors will discuss your entire financial situation with you, and help you develop a personalized plan to solve your money problems. An initial counseling session typically lasts an hour, with an offer of follow up sessions.
If your financial problems stem from too much debt or your inability to repay your debts, a credit counseling agency may recommend that you enroll in what is knows as a “debt management plan” or “DMP”. A DMP alone is not credit counseling, and DMPs are not for everyone. You should sign up for one of these plans only after a certified credit counselor has spent time thoroughly reviewing your financial situation, has offered you customized advice on managing your money, and has analyzed your budget to make sure that the proposed DMP is one you can afford. However, remember that all organizations that promote DMP’s fund themselves in part through arrangements with the creditors involved, which are called “fair share”, so you have to be wary as to whose best interest the counselor has in mind. Even if a DMP is not appropriate for you, a reputable credit counseling organization still can help you create a budget and teach you money management skills.
In a DMP, you deposit money each month with the credit counseling organization, which uses your deposits to pay your unsecured debts, like your credit card bills and medical bills, according to a payment schedule the counselor develops with your creditors. Your creditors may agree to lower your interest rates or waive certain fees, but it’s always best to check with all your creditors, just to make sure they offer the concessions that a credit counseling organization is promising you. A successful DMP requires you to make regular, timely payments, and could take 48 months or more to complete. Ask the credit counselor to estimate how long it will take for you to complete the plan. You may have to agree not to apply for C or use C any additional credit while you’re participating in the plan, and a DMP is likely of little value if your problems stem from or involve your secured creditors holding your car, truck or home as collateral. DMP’s are also likely of little value if your problems stem from alimony, child support or overdue taxes.
The bottom line is this: If all you need is a little lowering of your interest rates on some unsecured debts, a DMP might be the answer. However, if what you really need is to reduce the amount of your debt, bankruptcy may be the solution.
NOTICE NO. 2
Notice Mandated By Section 527(a)(2) Of The Bankruptcy Code
NOTICE OF MANDATORY DISCLOSURE
TO CONSUMERS WHO CONTEMPLATE FILING BANKRUPTCY
You are notified as follows:
- All information that you are required to provide with the filing of your case and thereafter, while your case is pending, must be complete, accurate and truthful.
- All your assets and all your liabilities must be completely and accurately disclosed in the documents filed to commence your case.
- Some sections of the Bankruptcy Code require you to determine and list the replacement value of an asset such as a car or furniture. When replacement value is required, it means the replacement value, established after reasonable inquiry, as of the date of the filing of your bankruptcy case, without deduction for costs of sales or marketing. With respect to property acquired for personal, family or household purposes, replacement value means the price a retail merchant would charge for “used” property of that kind considering the age and condition of the property.
- Before your case can be filed, it is subject to what is called “Means Testing”. The Means Test was designed to determine whether or not you qualify to file a case under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, and if not, how much you need to pay your unsecured creditors in a chapter 13 case. For purposes of means test, you must state, after reasonable inquiry, your total current monthly income, the amount of all expenses as specified and allowed pursuant to section 707(b)(2) of the bankruptcy code, and if the plan is to file in a Chapter 13 case, you must state, again after reasonable inquiry, your disposable income, as that term is defined.
- Information that you provide during your case may be audited pursuant to the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. Your failure to provide complete, accurate and truthful information may result in the dismissal of your case or other sanctions, including criminal sanctions.
NOTICE NO. 3
Notice Mandated By Section 527(b) Of The Bankruptcy Code
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BANKRUPTCY ASSISTANCE SERVICES
If you decide to seek bankruptcy relief, you can represent yourself, you can hire an attorney to represent you, or you can get help in some localities from a bankruptcy petition preparer who is not an attorney. THE LAW REQUIRES AN ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER TO GIVE YOU A WRITTEN CONTRACT SPECIFYING WHAT THE ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER WILL DO FOR YOU AND HOW MUCH IT WILL COST. Ask to see the contract before you hire anyone.
The following information helps you understand what must be done in a routine bankruptcy case to help you evaluate how much service you need. Although bankruptcy can be complex, many cases are routine.
Before filing a bankruptcy case, either you or your attorney should analyze your eligibility for different forms of debt relief available under the Bankruptcy Code and which form of relief is most likely to be beneficial for you. Be sure you understand the relief you can obtain and its limitations. To file a bankruptcy case, documents called a Petition, Schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs, as well as in some cases a Statement of Intention need to be prepared correctly and filed with the bankruptcy court. You will have to pay a filing fee to the bankruptcy court. Once your case starts, you will have to attend the required first meeting of creditors where you may be questioned by a court official called a >trustee= and by creditors.
If you choose to file a chapter 7 case, you may be asked by a creditor to reaffirm a debt. You may want help deciding whether to do so. A creditor is not permitted to coerce you into reaffirming your debts. It may not be in your best interest to reaffirm a debt.
If you choose to file a chapter 13 case in which you repay your creditors what you can afford over 3 to 5 years, you may also want help with preparing your chapter 13 plan and with the confirmation hearing on your plan which, if held, will be before a bankruptcy judge.
If you select another type of relief under the Bankruptcy Code other than chapter 7 or chapter 13, you will want to find out what should be done from someone familiar with that type of relief. However, please be advised that in most cases, you will only be concerned with chapter 7 and chapter 13.
Your bankruptcy case may also involve litigation. You are generally permitted to represent yourself in litigation in bankruptcy court, but only attorneys, not bankruptcy petition preparers, can give you legal advice.
NOTICE NO. 4
Notice Mandated By Section 342(b)(2) Of The Bankruptcy Code
FRAUD & CONCEALMENT PROHIBITED
If you decide to file bankruptcy, it is important that you understand the following:
- Some or all of the information you provide in connection with your bankruptcy will be filed with the bankruptcy court on forms or documents that you will be required to sign and declare as true under penalty of perjury.
- A person who knowingly and fraudulently conceals assets or makes a false oath or statement under penalty of perjury in connection with a bankruptcy case shall be subject to fine, imprisonment, or both.
- All information you provide in connection with your bankruptcy case is subject to examination by the Attorney General.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF RECEIPT
By using the Site and/or otherwise accepting this Agreement, you acknowledge that you have received a copy of or been provided with access to all of the following notices:
- Notice Mandated By Section 342(b)(1) and 527(a)(1) Of The Bankruptcy Code
- Notice Mandated By Section 527(a)(2) Of The Bankruptcy Code
- Notice Mandated By Section 527(b) Of The Bankruptcy Code