FAQ
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Frequently Asked Questions:

Bankruptcy Basics:


Probate and Trust Administration


Comparison of L1A and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas



 Why should I hire the Law Office of Keith Cordell Holmes to represent me?


Most of our cases are from referrals recommended to us by our former clients who were happy with our services. We have a bilingual staff that speaks both English and Chinese to serve your needs. We have an excellent reputation for getting great results, hiring us will eliminate the difficulties faced in your case. The Law Office of Keith Cordell Holmes has been practicing in the areas of personal injury, bankruptcy and probate/trusts for over thirty one (31) years. We have secured millions in settlements over the years.  We have the spirit and discipline to get the settlement you deserve. We are compassionate about you and your family’s ill-fortunes. We answer your calls and are computer savvy about responding to your e-mails.

 What is Personal Injury?

The most common types of personal injury claims are road traffic accidents, accidents at work, tripping accidents, assault claims, accidents in the home, product defect accidents (product liability) and holiday accidents. The term personal injury also incorporates medical and dental accidents (which lead to numerous medical negligence claims every year) and conditions that are often classified as industrial disease cases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, chest diseases (e.g., emphysema, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic obstructive airways disease), vibration white finger, occupational deafness, occupational stress, contact dermititis, and repetitive strain injury cases.

If the negligence of another party can be proved, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from that party. In the United States, this system is complex and controversial, with critics calling for various forms of tort reform. Attorneys often represent clients on a "contingency basis," in which the attorney's fee is a percentage of the plaintiff's eventual compensation, payable when the case is resolved. Oftentimes, having an attorney becomes essential because cases become extremely complex, such as in medical malpractice cases.

No win no fee is the term used to describe the Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) between a law firm and their client. In a Personal Injury claim, this is an agreement between the client and their lawyer, which will enable the lawyer to take on a personal injury case on the understanding that if they lose the case, the client will not have to pay their lawyer’s costs.

Aside from compensation for injuries, the injured person can also get compensated for how the injuries have affected his or her life. An example, a keen cricketer suffers a wrist injury which prevents him from playing cricket during the cricket season. This can be compensated for, over and above the award for the injury itself.

 Since I am paying a contingency fee shouldn’t I just handle the Personal Injury case on my own and not pay the lawyer?


No way! That is exactly what the insurance company wants you to do! We know how to make the insurance company pay you more than you could ever possibly get without a lawyer. We are worth more than the fees we earn. Insurance companies for the personal injury cases have a reputation for breaking promises and stringing unrepresented parties along and try to get away with the least possible amount of payment to you. We also know where to find doctors who work on a lien basis, if you are unable to afford a doctor, or don’t have the luxury of health care insurance.

 So how much money is my case is worth?

It depends. Obviously, if you suffered a fractured bone, you will get more than if you only got whiplash. The more serious the injury, the more the case is usually worth assuming the liability is clear and your degree of fault is not that great, or even exists at all. Assuming there is enough insurance, or assets, the greater the person's insurance company is able to pay the full value of your serious injury case.

 What if I don't have health insurance; how do I pay for a doctor and hospital bills to treat my wounds?

We find that doctors, hospital and other health care providers (like board certified specialists in medicine, X-Ray centers and MRI centers), as well as psychologists and psychiatrists and even some pharmacists offer medical services to our clients on a lien basis. This means these caring health care providers agree to await payment until you either settle or win a jury verdict. Sometimes you may elect to use your PPO, or HMO coverages under your private health insurance policies. However, most HMO’s and PPO’s have contracts that allow them to get reimbursement out of your recovery, and they may refuse to negotiate down their bills, unlike many lien basis providers. Therefore, your choosing a lien doctor could significantly increase how much money you actually put into your own pocket in the end.

 How long will it take to either settle or try my case?

There is no litmus test. As a general rule, the more devastating your injuries and the more complex your case is, the more time it will take to get a result for you. A rear end collision causing whiplash will normally take less time than one causing a disc burst fracture. When there are multiple defendants in a serious injury case, these can take as long as two to four or even more years to resolve.

 In a traffic collision where no one contests liability, does defendant’s insurance company pay for car repair right away?

With few exceptions, the answer is yes. Normally, you will get rental car reimbursement for up to 30 days while your car is in the repair shop. If you elect not to get a rental, you can seek recovery for loss of use. Usually you would get what the fair rental value for a car like yours would be while you don’t have your car. Sometimes we can get a shop to provide a loaner car for you to use.

 Can I get a rental car after an auto accident?

Yes. There are usually two ways to get a rental car.

  • The faster way is if you have rental car coverage from your own  insurance company. If so, they will usually pay up to their stated money limit for a rental car, and get reimbursed from the other insurance company who is the liable party, once the liability issue is determined.
  • Usually, after the Traffic Report is obtained, the other side's insurance company will make investigation first, do a car damage estimate, then decide who is responsible for the accident. In case of a multiple car accident, it may take longer.   Sometimes they set up a direct billing and other times you rent on your own and when done we take your receipt and submit it to them for reimbursement.  Then they investigate as to if the car was drivable and how long it was being repaired to determine the length of the credible rental period.   The basic rule, if you need it, use it, if you don't need it , then don't use it.

The duration of the rental depends on the car repair time. From a few days to two (2) weeks. The longest repair may take more than 21 days, but it is very rare.

If your car is totaled, then the rental car ends when they made an offer of your total loss.  Sometimes they add a few days to that.

Usually people "lose" money on the car, because usually a car loses value the minute it leaves the car lot, even if it is  brand new. But we try to make it up by the personal injury side of the case.

The amount per day is determined by the size & quality & year of the crashed car up to the maximum of either the amount in your policy or according to their formula or list.

The amount that the insurance company will pay includes the rental and tax, but any of the options offered when you rent a car.    You have to have collision/comprehensive insurance to rent a car, so if you have it on your car, then you are covered; if not, then they may require that it is added to the rental contract and you pay for it on your own and the insurance company will not cover it. So the trick in such a case if to add it (comprehensive and collision) to your own policy, where it is much cheaper in the long run. And then when you turn the rental car in, then you can cancel it.


 If I slipped and fell on another person’s property, will they be liable for paying my bills and pain and suffering?

Normally, the only way you can recover is if there is a dangerous condition which is known to the owner that you weren’t aware of, or if there is circumstantial evidence of dangerous conditions due to the landowner’s failure to make reasonable inspections for safety. If you want to collect money damages, you must establish the property owner was negligent. This would include a loose floor board, a spill making a wet floor that is not mopped up (a common slip and fall injury), unleveled sidewalks, slippery stairs, and loose handrails. You should have made an incident report, told a manager, taken pictures and got witness phone numbers to prove you were there and that you were injured. If it was in a store where you were shopping then having a receipt helps.

 What about sports injuries, can I still recover even though I may have assumed the risk?

Generally you can not recover for sporting injuries. In most states including California, this is known an "assumption of the risk" inherent in the sporting activity. This rule is riddled with exceptions, such as when the risk exceeds one that would be inherent in the sport. For example, someone punches you in the face in a game of golf. This would not be a risk inherent in the sport and is in fact an assault and battery. But if you are a golfer and are hit by a ball, too bad.

 In a traffic collision, can I say who repairs my car, or is it up to defendant’s insurance company?

You get to choose who gets to repair your car!

 If I am at fault, how can I get money for my damages and injuries?

Under California’s pure comparative negligence rules, you can sometimes recover something based upon your percentage of fault, no matter how great or small. Yes, you may be able to recover, but you need to speak to a lawyer to see if it is worth your while.

 If I retain the Law Offices of Keith Cordell Holmes and not go in pro per on my own behalf, will it take longer to get a settlement?

No way. In fact, it may take longer to settle without competent legal representation. Of course you can always settle for much less than your case is worth. Insurance companies will expect you to be as convincing as a lawyer and will hold you to that same standard in proving your injury claims. Good luck! If you aren’t an attorney you are stuck with a bad legal representative, you. The insurance company hopes you will go it alone. In fact, they are banking on it.

 If I lost time off work, can I be reimbursed for lost wages?

Yes you can. This is true even if you are collecting disability pay, or sick leave. The insurance company is not entitled to a set off.

 If injured in a traffic accident, how do I get paid if the liable defendant didn't have car insurance?

In many cases, you can get money from your own insurance policy if you have purchased uninsured motorist, or “UM” coverage. You get vehicle repairs from your collision coverage, if you have bought that type of coverage. If you purchased medical pay coverage, or have health insurance, you can pay some, if not all of your medical bills that way. Your lost wages may even be covered by California State Disability Insurance in some cases. In fact, every motor vehicle liability insurance policy in the State of California must be sold with uninsured motorist coverage. The only exception to this rule is if you signed a waiver of exclusion. If the insurance company can’t produce the waiver of uninsured motorist coverage, the insurance company may be on the hook for the bills. In any event, UM claims are a pain even for a lawyer. Get a lawyer to represent you.

 I already had pre-existing injuries prior to my injuries. Can I still recover if the injury was made worse?

Yes, you can recover. Under the eggshell skull theory, the tortfeasor (bad guys) takes the plaintiff (you) as he finds him. If you are more likely to be injured as the result of a pre-existing condition, you get paid for the exacerbation. There is no set of defenses available to the insurance company because of that pre-existing injury/condition.
*The problem condition is when there is no change to that condition.

 If I hire Law Offices of Keith  Cordell Holmes, who deals with the DMV reports and my insurance company?

If you retain Law Offices of Keith Cordell Holmes, we will report the accident to the DMV and make the claim with your insurance company. We take care of all the red tape, so you can focus on recovering and physical therapy rehabilitation.

 Who decides who is at fault for my accident injury case?

In motor vehicle collisions a police report can be helpful in determining fault. Circumstantial evidence like skid marks are used, as well as direct evidence from witness statements. Sometimes there may be pictures from security cameras. It really depends on each unique case presented. In all events, you must be vigilant and get license plates, drivers license information and descriptions of parties. Call the police, take pictures with your (cell phone) camera. Get witness names and their contact info too.

 In a California traffic collision, how can I recover under proposition 213 for my personal injury when I failed to maintain a valid "liability insurance" policy?

In California you can usually only recover for your medical bills and future medical care, but not for pain and suffering. If you were a passenger in a vehicle that you don’t own, you are not barred from recovering for pain and suffering. If you were a pedestrian, you can also recover. There are a few other exceptions to these rules that should be explored. Call us now and get free advice.

 What if Law Offices of Keith Cordell Holmes can’t take my case?

Yes, there is always the possibility that we may not handle your unique case. We do handle most personal injury cases, but if we don’t, or can’t handle your case, we may be able to refer you to a competent attorney who may be able to help in your unique situation.


 What is the statute of limitations in California personal injury cases?

In most cases, the statute of limitations for personal injury is two (2) years from the date of the injuries; the statutes are different for minors. But for most adults, you must settle within the statute, or file a lawsuit in either federal or state court within the statutory time frames, or you will be barred from recovery. Keep in mind that state and local government agencies require you to file a government claim within six (6) months from the date of the accidents.


 What Should I do When an Accident Happens?
    It is important to know what to do when confronted with a serious car accident.
* The first step is to call the police and/or paramedics. A quick call to 911 will solve both problems. Not only do you need to report the accident as quickly and accurately as possible, but you should get medical attention for all involved, including yourself.
* Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved. Make sure to get their full name, address, insurance policy number, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance provider and their phone number.            
* Take down notes of all you remember from the accident. It’s always handy to keep a notepad and a disposable camera in your car at all times in case such an incident occurs. Jot down details, including time of day, weather, traffic conditions, speeds and directions of cars involved in a sketch, pedestrians, etc. Snap a few pictures of the scene, the damage, and your own injuries (if they are visible—they may not surface for days or weeks, in some cases).
* Get statements from any witnesses. What did they see? Take notes.
* Without pointing blame at any parties involved (leave that duty to experienced attorneys after analyzing all information), give your account to the police.         
* Seek medical attention as soon as possible. If this is delayed, the other party involved may argue that your injuries were obtained after the incident, not by their negligent driving. Keep detailed records of all medical visits, costs, prescriptions, and surgeries. Keep the bills from the ambulance, hospital, etc.
* If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident, it is imperative to seek the help of an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.


 Free Consultation: At the Law Offices of Keith Cordell Holmes, there is never a fee for an attorney to review your case and determine if you may be entitled to an accident settlement or judgment. Don’t make the mistake of accepting the first settlement offer you receive. You deserve to be compensated for your medical bills, pain and suffering, past and future lost wages.

Unfortunately, all too often, auto insurance companies try to get car accident victims to accept less than they are entitled to. Every insurance company has aggressive adjusters and attorneys working on their behalf, and you should too.  The Law Offices of Keith Cordell Holmes strives to get you the maximum recovery for your car accident injuries under the circumstances. We will work for you on your case on a contingency fee basis.  This means that as a client, you will never pay a fee unless you receive a settlement.


 Bicyclists are frequently involved in truck accidents, automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and collisions with stationary objects such as trees, parked cars or traffic lights.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a bicycle accident that was somebody else’s fault, you may be able to recover damages from the party responsible for your injuries.

Pedestrian :    If you have been involved in a serious pedestrian accident :
1.    Immediately call the police and professional medical personnel
2.    Speak to any witnesses, and get their contact information. Take pictures of the scene.
3.    Remain at the scene until the police arrive and you can give your statement.
4.    Exchange information with the driver that hit you, including name, address, phone number, insurance provider, and policy number.
5.    Contact an experienced serious pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible.


 Slip and fall cases refer to the event of an individual slipping, tripping, or falling on someone else’s property. They become the victim of another’s negligence, and often suffer serious injuries or even death from the event. These cases often fall under the broader category of premises liability, since these cases usually occur on another’s property—thus holding the property owner legally responsible for your injuries.

Hazardous conditions that may cause injury to others on a property include narrow stairs, poor lighting, changes in flooring that cause instability, wet floors, cracked or broken sidewalks, unsafe stairs or escalators, or weather-induced accidents due to rain, snow, or hail.

Proving fault and liability in slip and fall accidents can be tedious and difficult. Therefore, it is recommended to seek the legal counsel of an experienced slip and fall attorney to aids you in structuring your case.        

 Dog bites can result in many types of injuries, including lacerations, punctures, bone joint injuries, bruising, and muscle and tendon tears. In addition, dog bite victims run the risk of developing serious mental and emotional disorders including a phobia of dogs, the outdoors (where the bite occurred, possibly), and post-traumatic stress disorder. If you have been the victim of a dog bite:

* Report the incident and injury to Animal Control as soon as possible. Take pictures of the scene and your injuries
* If the injury is especially serious, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
* Exchange information with the dog owner. Talk to any potential witnesses.
* Do not hesitate to contact an experienced severe dog bite injury attorney as soon as possible.

You should especially call your doctor if:

* You cave been bitten in the face, hands, or feet. These are especially problematic areas that should been treated by a medical professional immediately.

 Motorcycle accident:
If you have been involved in a severe motorcycle accident, you must preserve your right to recovery by taking all necessary steps.

* Remain at the accident scene, at least long enough to give a statement, name, and address to the police officer. You may be subject to criminal penalties if you flee.
* Relate all details of the accident to the officer, but avoid definitive statements that may unintentionally blame you for the accident. This is true for making statements concerning your health. Injuries may take a few days to appear.
* Gather all pertinent information from witnesses and other drivers. Collect names, phone numbers, addresses, license plate numbers, insurance providers, and insurance policy numbers. Get statements from witnesses.
* If possible, take photographs of the scene and your injuries.
* Call an experienced attorney to assess your claim. See a doctor or medical professional as soon as possible. Get copies of all medical records and note any pain that flares up within a week of the accident.
* Keep track of all expenses, including repair fees, medical bills, prescription costs, rehabilitation, and mileage to and from hospitals. Also include time missed from work.

 Bankruptcy Basics:


Chapter 7 Bankruptcy allows you to wipe the slate clean and get a fresh start.  Chapter 7's are also known as the "liquidation" bankruptcy,  most Chapter 7 cases DO NOT require you to give up your assets or belongings. The bottom line is that in most Chapter 7 cases you can get rid of your debt such as credit cards, medical bills, personal loans and all other debts which are not 'secured' against some collateral and still keep your assets and belongings and still get a FRESH START.

 Asset Protection:
There are several ways to protect assets in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. First, the Bankruptcy Court and the Trustee will not force the sale or liquidation of an asset that has no equity. The most common example of this is your house. If, for example, you own your home which is worth $400,000 and your mortgage is $450,000, you have no equity in your home. The sale of the home would not result in any proceeds that could be used to pay off your debts. As a result, the Court and Trustee will not require the sale or liquidation of the home as long as you can afford to continue paying your mortgage. This same concept applies to just about any asset you may own (such as a car).

 What are Exemptions and How do they Protect My Assets?

Another way that Bankruptcy laws allow you to protect your assets and belongings is by allowing an individual to exempt some of the equity you may have in your assets. For example, everyone who owns a home is entitled to a Homestead Exemption. The Homestead Exemption can range from $50,000 to $125,000 (depending on various factors). If your Homestead Exemption amount is $50,000, that means the Court and Trustee would not sell or liquidate your home even if it was worth $400,000 and you only owed $350,000. There are many Exemptions which are provided under the law such as the Exemptions for automobiles, household and personal belongings, tools of trade and many others.

 Are You Qualified to file a Chapter 7?

After a full review of your assets and debts has been conducted and a determination has been made that you would benefit from a Chapter 7, we would need to determine if you qualify to file a Chapter 7. The biggest factor in determining whether or not you qualify to file a Chapter 7 is based on your income. In order to be eligible to file, your income must be below the 'median income' for your state. The 'median income' amount increases as your family size increases. The process of determining if you qualify is also known as the 'means test'.

 What Is the Process of Filing for Chapter 7?

1. Contact us to make an appointment for a FREE EVALUATION of your case
2. Provide us with the information and documents we need to prepare your Petition
3. We will enroll you in a required Credit Counseling Class (which you can take online from your home computer)
4. We will pull your credit reports
5. We prepare your Petition and review it with you to verify the information in the Petition
6. We File the Petition with the Court
7. You go to a 341a Hearing of the Creditors (along with one of our attorneys)
8. Wait for the Court to Discharge your Debt.

The entire process can be completed in a short period of time and our attorneys and staff will be with you throughout the entire process.

 Probate and Trust Administration

When someone dies, a representative must be authorized to marshal the decedent's assets, to oversee the settlement of the decedent's debts and taxes, and to make distribution of the estate in accordance with the decedent's testamentary (will) wishes. In California, the person who takes charge and the procedures for carrying out these responsibilities depend on whether the decedent made a will, a trust, or did nothing.

 Probate is a court proceeding to administer the financial affairs of a deceased individual and to determine their last testamentary wishes. If the decedent made a will, the court rules on the validity of the will and appoints an executor. Heirs and beneficiaries are given a brief opportunity to contest the validity of a proposed will. Creditors are given a brief opportunity to file claims. After all contests and claims are resolved or satisfied, distribution is made free and clear to the beneficiaries of the will. If the decedent died without a will, the estate is administered and distributed for the benefit of the decedent's heirs.

 Trusts are established with similar objectives, but may be administered with or without court supervision, depending on the terms of the trust and the manner by which it was created. A trustee administers the trust assets for the distributees named in the trust in accordance with the trust terms. The trust instrument sets forth the testamentary desires of the person who established the trust.

There are circumstances when the affairs of a decedent may be handled without a probate proceeding or the administration of a trust. Typically, these circumstances involve a decedent with a small estate, assets held in joint tenancy, or an estate comprising of only life insurance or retirement benefits.

If someone close to you has passed away, you may have questions about your rights and responsibilities or you may have concerns that someone acting as a representative of the estate is not fulfilling his or her duties. I welcome your inquiries by e-mail or by telephone.

 Conservatorships

A Conservatorship is a court proceeding designed to protect an individual who can no longer protect him due to advanced age or trauma. If the court determines that the party to be protected is substantially unable to provide for their personal care or to manage their finances, the court appoints a conservator to act as the representative for the protected party, the conservatee. The conservator is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the personal and medical care of the conservatee and is authorized to transact business on behalf of the conservatee. The Conservator is required to file annual or biannual accountings and reports.

I help the loved ones of incapacitated individuals with the process of obtaining court authority and with the ongoing procedures required by the Probate Code and local rules.

If you have questions concerning a possible or existing conservatorship matter, please contact me.


 Comparison of L1A and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas



The fifth preference employment based visa (EB5) was created in 1990 as a way for foreign investors to gain United States permanent residency (and eventual citizenship if desired), through an investment in a new or pre-existing American business that sees the creation of at least 10 new full-time jobs for American workers. The L-1A Visa allows a manager or executive from a foreign nation to enter the United States for the purposes of furthering their business. In this article we will take a closer look at the L1-A Visa and the EB5 Immigrant Investor visas to see how their paths to a Green Card Visa compare and contrast.


 L1-A Visa – As defined by the government's website, the L-1A nonimmigrant classification: "enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.  This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.  The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of the employee."



L1-A Visa General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee 
- To qualify for L-1A classification in this category, the employer must

  1. Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  2. Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary's stay in the United States as an L-1.  While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
  3. Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.

Also to qualify, the named employee must

  1. Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
  2. Be seeking to enter the United States to render services in an executive or managerial capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
Executive capacity – This generally refers to the employee's ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.

Managerial capacity – This generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization.  It may also refer to the employee's ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.


More information on the L1-A visa can be found at USCIS.gov.

 EB5 Immigrant Investor Visa – In stark contrast to the L1-A visa, lays the EB5 Immigrant Investor Visa. According to the government's web page, to qualify for the Eb5 Visa Program you must:

  1. Invest or be in the process of investing at least $1,000,000.  If your investment is in a designated targeted employment area (A Targeted Employment Area is defined by law as "a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average) then the minimum investment requirement is $500,000.
  2. Benefit the U.S. economy by providing goods or services to U.S. markets.
  3. Create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. workers.  This includes U.S. citizens, Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) and other individuals lawfully authorized to work in the U.S. (however it does not include you (the immigrant), or your spouse, sons or daughters).
  4. Be involved in the day-to-day management of the new business or directly manage it through formulating business policy – for example as a Limited Partner, corporate officer or board member.

We see in this comparison that despite the fact that the L1-A  and EB5 immigrant investor visas both rely on certain job based requirements being satisfied; the two are very different in nature and offer disparate paths to a green card visa.



Keith C. Holmes
Attorney at Law