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Richard Kopelman

Richard Kopelman’s Answers

3 total

  • My mother passed away and her husband has given items that she told my sister and I we were to have? What do we do?

    My step father went through bankruptcy, my mother had to change her Will so not to lose her home. They also had to get a legal separation in order for this to happen. During this time my mother assured us that we would inherit curtain items that ...

    Richard’s Answer

    First, I am sorry for the loss you and your and your siblings have suffered, and the additional anguish you have endured as a result of this most unfortunate legal issue. That said, unless you can have the will legally declared invalid -- this can be extremely difficult to accomplish -- the Will will dictate the manner in which your mother's estate is distributed, i.e., all issues of inheritance will be governed by the Will. Unlike a surviving spouse who has certain rights of inheritance protected as a matter of law, even where such rights may be contrary to the provisions of a Will, there is no requirement in Georgia that surviving children inherit from their parents.

    Thus, in order to obtain any relief, I believe you will need to file a formal challenge to the Will in the probate court of the county in which your mother resided. I am sorry I do not have better news for you, and I wish you and your siblings well.

    Best regards,

    Richard Kopelman

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  • Can the car owner be held responsible when it was a friend that was driving the car and caused the accident

    My car was totaled and my friend was driving it. Background story: My friends invited me to go to a concert we met at my house and I offered my car because her car was having problems and we broke down on the freeway 3 times previously. I asked he...

    Richard’s Answer

    I am sorry to hear of your unfortunate situation. As you are learning first-hand, property damage claims can be extremely frustrating, but don't despair. I say this because you mentioned "GAP" insurance. I'll come back to this in a moment.

    Many car owners do not have such coverage and when they find themselves in your predicament, end up being what we call "upside down" on their car loans. By that I mean they owe more on the loan than the vehicle is worth, even though they've paid all car payments as required. Once someone goes through a situation like yours, he/she quickly understands why cars are not good investments. As soon as you drive a car off the lot, it begins to depreciate, and if the depreciation is rapid and significant, it is easy for someone to owe more on a car loan than a car is worth, i.e., upside down on the loan. Where, however, one has GAP insurance, the difference between the fair market value of the vehicle -- this is all an insurance company is required to pay its policyholder -- and the amount owed on the loan is paid by the GAP insurer.

    Thus, while you now need to get a new vehicle, at least you won't find yourself having to continue to pay for a car you no longer have. Provided you collect all available insurance coverage applicable to your loss, there is probably no reason for you to bring a claim against your friend. If, however, you find yourself in a position of having to sue your friend, you should know that you are not -- barring some unknown circumstances/facts -- responsible for having let your friend drive. There is no general prohibition against allowing someone to drive your car, and so long as you did not have notice of your friend being an incompetent driver, you are not legally liable for her negligence.

    I hope this helps you better understand your rights and liabilities, but even if it does, would strongly encourage you to consult with a local lawyer who may know of certain nuances in your laws with which I am unfamiliar.

    Regards,

    Richard Kopelman

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  • Car accident rights

    My 4 y/o was in a roll over car accident with her 16 y/o brother, he was driving his girlfriend's car. they had to fly the 4 y/o from the scene and he was brought by ambulance about 60 miles down the mountain. the insurance company does not want ...

    Richard’s Answer

    I am sorry to hear your children were injured, but it sounds as if they are going to be ok; I hope that's the case. I will do my best to answer each of your questions in the order they were posed. I am not surprised to hear that the insurance company "does not want to pay" the medical bills. This is typical. Remember, despite the commercials they run on TV and elsewhere, insurance companies are in business to make money, not to pay claims. That said, the reluctance to pay claims does not necessarily mean that there is not a legal obligation to pay such claims. If you have medical payments coverage on any automobile insurance policies in your household, that coverage may apply, even if your children were not in a vehicle that had a policy that included med pay coverage. Also, you should determine if the girlfriend's car had med pay as that coverage also would apply. When the insurer tells you the coverage has "run out," they likely are telling you that the limits of their coverage have been exhausted. That is why you need to look to all potential policies for coverage so you can maximize the coverage available to you. You next should turn to your health insurance company. Here again, I suspect you will be discouraged by the company as they habitually deny or discourage the filing of valid claims. You need to be persistent. If you have incurred medical bills that are not paid, this can affect your credit score. You should, however, not be afraid to negotiate with a hospital or doctor just as you would any other creditor. If, in fact, there are bills for which there is no available insurance coverage, the hospitals and doctors should be willing to reduce the amounts owed, especially if partial payment has been made. As for compensation for pain and suffering and other legal items of damages, this will depend upon the particular laws in Arizona. Some states have what is called Intra-family immunity which bars claims by family members against other family members. I am not familiar with the laws in Arizona, so I cannot weigh in on this for you, but instead, would strongly encourage you to consult with a trial lawyer in your area who can properly advise you on this and other questions you have. Finally, don't let the fact that the girlfriend got a new car bother you too much. I suspect she had property damage coverage on her automobile insurance policy and collected from that coverage to get a new vehicle. The property damage coverage is separate from other coverages provided and one does not have any impact on the other. Thus, it is not as if the insurance company chose to pay for a new car instead of for your children's medical bills. Rather, they simply paid the amounts they were obligated to pay -- assuming they have exhausted all relevant coverages for medical bills -- under each coverage. I hope this has helped you better understand what is happening. Again, I suspect -- and sincerely hope -- that your children are ok, and that, of course, is most important. Lastly, consult with a local lawyer to get the specifics you need.

    Best regards,

    Richard Kopelman

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