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Credit Injury Claims—Lawyers on the Leading Edge

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Tustin, CAYour credit rating is a valuable asset, and long-time attorney Thomas Key says credit injury claims are on the verge of becoming pro forma in the world of torts. "The traditional recovery in a personal injury suit is for the cost of medical treatment, wage loss and pain and suffering," says Key. "And now, loss of credit reputation is going to be consistently added to that list."

Key stops short of calling the demand for a credit injury revolution. "In the past, courts balked at allowing for damages to your credit rating," says Key. "They considered it speculative and unquantifiable, but we now know there are ways to demonstrate that to the court."

The attitude toward credit injury claims may be a bit like pain and suffering claims, before the infamous California attorney Melvin Belli made it standard, says Key. "Before Belli, no attorney recovered a dime for pain and suffering in a negligence case," says Key. It was considered speculative until Belli recovered $20,000 in pain and suffering damages for a boy who had been given a live dose of polio in a vaccination and had to spend the rest of his life in an iron lung.

A tidy credit rating is vital to life in the contemporary society. And people who have it damaged, through no fault of their own, and can point to the person or person responsible, may have a case. And as Key points out, in tort law, it doesn't even have to be a foreseeable consequence of their malfeasance.

Key won over $100,000 for a man who was injured in a car accident and consequently lost his job and his car, and even had trouble renting an apartment because the circumstances following the accident damaged his credit rating.

"It changed from a pristine credit rating to an expensive or poor credit rating," says Key. "Everything is more expensive, interest is higher, payments are higher, he may not be able to purchase a new car or even find an apartment because landlords evaluate prospective tenants on their credit rating."

The difference between successful cases for credit injury and unsuccessful cases, says Key, is proper expert witnesses who can liquidate the amount and put a figure on it for the court to consider.

Credit is a critical part of maintaining your standard of living. And where there is an injury to your credit reputation because of the actions of a third party, either indirectly or directly, you may have a cutting-edge case, says Key.


Thomas Key is a retired, but still practicing, attorney from Tustin, California. He consults with lawyers on credit injury cases and mentors young attorneys. He has won credit injury cases in negligence cases, family law cases and business law cases.

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