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Scura Wigfield Heyer & Stevens Blog

Emergency manager named to handle Atlantic City financial issues

  • 28
  • January

When a financial crisis occurs, individuals and business should understand their options regarding debt relief and a fresh financial start. In some cases, considering, preparing and filing for bankruptcy could be a good option. Even before business debt fully sets in, filing for business bankruptcy could help the company avoid more serious financial problems.

According to recent reports, New Jersey Governor Christie recently named an emergency manager, giving them the power to put the finances of Atlantic City in stable condition by restructuring municipal operations and adjusting the debts of Atlantic City. While this move has been labeled as premature by some, it has left the door open for the gambling resort to file for business bankruptcy if it is unable to get its finances under control.

Ten Critical Steps To Take With Any Accident To Protect Your Rights

  • 27
  • January

Close to six million car accidents happen each year in the United States.  The seriousness of accidents range from those only involving property damage to those involving serious injury and death.  You should always take minimum steps if you are involved in any type of accident.  The below list is not complete, but at least highlights some of the minimum things to do to best protect your rights.


1. Keep the Scene in Tact.  As best you can, make sure the cars stay in the same resting position after the accident.  Obviously, if you are in danger of any kind then move out of harms way.  Take such protective actions as setting up flares of keeping your flashers on.   If possible, stay in that position until the police arrive.


2. Do not leave the scene.  No matter what you do, never leave the scene of an accident regardless of how serious.  If you do, you are subject to a ticket and serious penalties, including potential loss of license.  Critical evidence may also be lost if you leave the scene.


3. Immediately call the police.  Call the police as soon as you can even if there are no serious injuries.  Most likely, you will need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company.  You will want a police report even if it is just to make a claim for damage to your vehicle.


4. Make an Accurate Record. When the police arrive, make sure you tell the police exactly what happened.  Now is not the time to be shy.  Immediately advocate, without arguing or alienating the investigating officers, for your version of the events.  If you are asked if you are hurt and you are not sure, then say that.  Do not say no you are not hurt. You should also make sure statements made by other persons involved in the accident are accurate as well and the officers are aware of all witnesses.


5. Take pictures/video.  With cell phones and digital cameras today, it is easy to get pictures, maybe even video.  Take as many pictures of the scene and all vehicles involved.  You want to take pictures of the damage to the vehicles involved as this will better prove your case if you are not at fault.  You also may want to take a picture of the roadway for skid marks or other areas at the scene that may show evidence of what happened.   Likewise, you should take pictures of yourself or others hurt in the accident if there are visible injuries.


6. Make sure you obtain information of other drivers.   If police do not arrive at scene, then obtain the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident, both drivers and passengers, and any witnesses.  Always obtain information about insurance of other drivers.   For witnesses, you should get their personal information.  If police do arrive, they will usually obtain this information.  I have noticed in many cases, however, that police do not take down information on witnesses.  Get those witnesses' information if you feel they will help your version of events.


7. Report Accident To Insurance Company. Notify your insurance company immediately after the accident.  In New Jersey, most policies have personal injury protection coverage for medical treatment under your own policy so you want that claim set up immediately if you are hurt.


8. Obtain Medical Treatment.  If you are hurt at all, seek medical treatment immediately.  Many times, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents do not show up right away.  Unless you are positive you are not hurt, you should seek medical attention at your local hospital emergency room.  You want to get fully checked out and any injuries fully treated.


9. Organize records. Start a file on all your accident-related documents.  This information should include an insurance claim number, the claim's adjuster who is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts and witnesses, pictures, receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident.


10. Contact an attorney.  You must protect your rights.  Be guarded on what you say to insurance companies, even your own.  The insurance companies are not your friends.  Preferably, see the attorney before you speak to insurance companies.  Do not give any written statements without speaking to your attorney.  Our office will speak to you free of charge and give you initial advice even if you do not intend on pursuing a claim.  This advice initially will save you a lot of time and headaches.  Our office works on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.

Icy rain causes hundreds of crashes in New Jersey

  • 26
  • January

Drivers in New Jersey have traveled through all types of weather. No matter what time of year it is, Mother Nature can create inclement weather that can make it challenging for drivers to travel safely on the roadways. Dangerous weather conditions might require drivers to adjust their driving for road conditions. Failure to do so might be considered reckless and lead to serious automobile collisions.

The recent icy rain conditions in the Northeast have lead to numerous traffic accidents. In New Jersey alone, more than 425 accidents were reported by the state police. In the tri-state area, fatal accidents, deadly pileups and pedestrian accidents occurred due to the slick conditions caused by the freezing rain.

When and how is the consumer expectation test used in New Jersey?

  • 24
  • January

When a product injures a consumer, the injured party often seeks to establish whether the design, manufacturer or both were the cause of their consumer injury. If a design defect was the presumed cause, the injured consumer may have to prove certain factors or elements to hold a company or manufacturer liable.

In the state of New Jersey, a consumer expectations test could be used to prove that a product was defectively designed and failed to perform in accordance with the reasonable expectations of the consumer. When and how is the consumer expectation test used in New Jersey?

Debt relief options and stopping vehicle repossession

  • 16
  • January

When residents in New Jersey are struggling with debt, they often have a lot of financial issues on their mind. In addition to considering debt relief options, debtors are also concerned with the possible asset forfeitures they might face. Vehicle repossession is a major concern for those financing or leasing an automobile. If they default on their loan, the debtor could have their vehicle repossessed. In these matters, it is not only important for consumers to understand their rights but also to understand how to stop repossession and get their vehicle back.

Although the laws differ from state to state, in general there are a few options that may be available to consumers that have defaulted on their loan payment, which means they have missed payments. First, if the consumer is aware that they will be late with their monthly payment or they have been sent an advanced notice for repossession, they could negotiate with their creditor. This could result in a revised payment schedule.

Stop Using Your Credit Cards when You Plan to file for Bankruptcy

  • 15
  • January

If you are planning on filing for bankruptcy, then it is important that you stop using your credit cards. If you continue to use your credit cards after you have decided that you will file for bankruptcy, you are incurring debt without any intention of paying it back. This is fraudulent under the bankruptcy code and could affect the dischargeability of that debt, while also presenting bad faith issues.

Contact a Lawyer

If you are considering bankruptcy, contact a lawyer so you can be guided accordingly as to what your options are and what option is best for you. The bankruptcy process can be difficult to navigate, so it is important that you have someone representing you who is familiar with the process to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Taking action after being injured by a dangerous product

  • 14
  • January

It only makes sense that when consumers in New Jersey purchase a product, they do not consider the hidden risks or dangers the product might possess. Yet every day consumers are injured through no fault of their own by dangerous products. Our law firm understands how manufacturing and design defects could lead to consumer injuries. An injured consumer could suffer greatly from a dangerous product, and they should understand their rights and legal remedies regarding their matter.

A defective product could lead to numerous losses and damages for the victim and their loved ones. This often includes medical expenses, rehabilitation, future medical care, medications, lost wages, accommodations for temporary or permanent disabilities, pain and suffering, loss of companionship and other related damages. Because the list of damages resulting from a defective product is vast, it is important to investigate the situation fully.

New Jersey man killed in pedestrian accident

  • 09
  • January

Residents in New Jersey often encounter times when they must travel by foot near moving vehicles. Whether they are in a parking lot, in a residential area, on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk, it is common for individuals to walk near moving vehicles, even if it is just for a short amount of time. No matter the circumstances, both pedestrians and motorists should take caution when traveling near one another. Failure to do so could result in a serious or even fatal accident.

Authorities in Mt. Laurel were recently dispatched to the scene of a fatal pedestrian accident. According to preliminary reports, a male pedestrian was traveling along South Church Road and was struck by a northbound vehicle around 5:25 p.m. between Academy Drive and St. David Drive.

Consumer injury and filing a products liability claim

  • 07
  • January

It happens every day, residents in New Jersey purchase goods at the store either out of necessity or desire. Whether it is a home good, children's toy or an automobile, these products were designed specifically for a particular use. But when there is a manufacturing error or a design defect, a consumer could be greatly harmed by this now dangerous product.

While consumer injury is not the first thing on the mind of a consumer when they purchase a product, it is a real possibility that could seriously or fatally injure a consumer and others in their household. When a consumer is injured by a product, the idea of product liability is often addressed.

10 Things To Consider Before Filing Bankruptcy

  • 03
  • January

While the following is not a complete list of all issues when deciding whether to file bankruptcy, these are frequent considerations and questions that arise with clients contemplating bankruptcy. 

1. Do I have assets that will be liquidated or sold if I file bankruptcy?

You have to analyze initially if your assets will be liquidated if you file bankruptcy.   You are entitled to exemptions under the Bankruptcy Code so many things will not be sold if you file bankruptcy.   If, however, you have assets such as a house without a mortgage and you will lose it if you file bankruptcy, some other options should be considered. 

2. Do I have enough debt to file bankruptcy?

If you do not have that much debt, you may decide that filing a bankruptcy is not worth it.  There is no minimum amount of debt you must have to file so in theory you could owe only a dollar and file bankruptcy.  If, however, you only have minimal debt, it may be better to settle that debt in order to avoid the bankruptcy altogether.   It is really dependent on your individual situation.   

3. How much will the bankruptcy truly impact my credit?

Most people who come to our firm with financial problems already have damaged credit.  The filing of the bankruptcy will really not make it that much worse.  In fact, many times clients are able to get back on their feet quicker after filing bankruptcy and are in a position to re-establish their credit quicker by filing a bankruptcy.   A bankruptcy does hurt your credit scores but sometimes the damage is already done so it does not make much of a difference.

4. Can I discharge tax debt if I file bankruptcy?

Contrary to popular belief, you can discharge certain tax debt.  There are five rules to determine if you can file a bankruptcy and wipe out tax debt.  Wiping out substantial tax debt may be a great reason to file a bankruptcy. 

5. Can I discharge student loans if I file bankruptcy?

Most student loans cannot be discharged.  You may, however, qualify for the hardship exception to the rule that student loan debts cannot be wiped out.  The proofs necessary to satisfy this exception are difficult, but it may be possible depending on your situation. 

6. Is my income too high to file bankruptcy?

If you make too much money, you may be unable to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  You may have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if your income is over the median income level for your area and you cannot qualify for a Chapter 7 after going through the means test.

7. Will I lose my house or car if I file bankruptcy?

Depending on what your house or car is worth and the loans against those assets will determine whether you can keep your house or car and file bankruptcy.  Most individuals we represent are able to keep these assets and still file bankruptcy. 

8.  Is the timing right or should I wait to file the bankruptcy?

You may want to wait to file a bankruptcy depending on your income situation and whether you have a significant event that will result in increased debt, such as a medical procedure and you have no insurance.   You may also want to a file a bankruptcy quicker in order to stop a sheriff sale or other creditor action against assets you want to protect.

9.  Can I settle the debt I owe without filing bankruptcy?

You can settle outstanding debt if you have the money to settle that debt.  Typically creditors will take less than is owed by way of settlement.  What you also have to be careful of is that you may be taxed on the portion of the debt that is forgiven in the settlement.  You do not want to settle a debt and then have a significant bill to the IRS for the amount of money on the debt that was forgiven. 

10. Can I protect retirement assets if I file bankruptcy?

Most retirement accounts, such as 401ks, pension plans, IRAs and 403bs are exempt in a bankruptcy.  Thus, you can file a bankruptcy and these qualified retirement monies cannot be touched. 

Give a lawyer in one of our New Jersey offices a call to determine whether your retirement assets are exempt.

Scura, Mealey, Wigfield & Heyer, L.L.P. Attorneys at Law

John Scura of Scura, Wigfield, Heyer & Stevens, LLP, serves clients in New Jersey communities including Wayne, Hoboken, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, Camden, Clifton, Passaic, East Orange, Newark, Union City, Bayonne, Irvington, North Bergen, West New York, Bloomfield, Paramus, Fair Lawn, Ridgewood, Saddle Brook, River Edge, Emerson, Englewood, Ramsey, Tenafly, Glen Rock, Teaneck, and Hackensack, and in counties including Bergen County, Essex County, Middlesex County, Hudson County, Union County, Passaic County, and Morris County.

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