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Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Car Accident Settlements: 4 Financial Impacts For Farmer’s Market Workers

Selling products at a farmer’s market is a great way to connect with the community, make some money, and showcase local foods. However, if you’re involved in a car accident before or after a farmer’s market event, then your role in the farmer’s market industry may be drastically changed. When someone else is at fault for the car accident, you can hire an attorney to hold the person liable and seek a settlement for damages. Along with compensation for costs directly related to your injury, there are four additional financial impacts associated with your job at a farmer’s market. By breaking down these different costs, you can help build a settlement case that is fair to your losses and the true financial impact you’re going through.

Lost Income

The severity of car accident injuries can often have a huge impact on your ability to earn money. Even if working at a farmer’s market was not your main source of income, you can still seek compensation for lost money earned. The amount that you make at a farmer’s market typically varies on your sales and will often be based on past results. When consulting with an attorney, you will often calculate different factors associated with the income from a farmer’s market. This includes how often the farmer’s market was held and your amount earned at each event.

For example, if you attended one farmer’s market each week and averaged $500 each time, then an attorney would seek $2,000 in damages for each month that you were forced to miss due to your injuries. This lost income can have a huge impact on your settlement case and help increase the final amount.

Lost Inventory

When traveling to and from a farmer’s market, you are likely transporting a lot of your goods with you. A car accident could cause fruits, vegetables, and other items to fly out of the vehicle and become spoiled as they are wrecked in the crash. All of these items are potential items that could have been sold at the farmer’s market. This loss in inventory can result in a huge financial impact and should be a part of your case. When someone else is liable for the car accident, a settlement case often involves compensation for the items that were damaged during the accident. Pictures and personal inventory documents can both be used to showcase how much food and product was actually lost during the car accident. Even if the items were not directly damaged, the car accident may cause them to spoil or have the inability to get sold due to your injuries and the emergency situation.

Assistant Workers

As you continue to heal through your injuries, you may rely on support to keep your farmer’s market going and continue to establish your presence at the events. One way to help with this is by hiring assistant workers to carry items, manage your products, and complete sales at the farmer’s market. If you were not injured in a car accident, these workers would likely not be needed. An attorney can include their costs as part of your settlement case and attempt to seek compensation for the expenses related to the additional help.

Adaptive Equipment

While preparing to return to your local farmer’s market, you may need to purchase special equipment to help you with setting up and moving product around. The injuries that you suffered may impact your ability to lift items, access the back of a truck, or complete simple tasks like opening and filling plastic bags. The purchase of adaptive equipment can make these tasks easier and cause less strain on your current injuries. By using receipts and cost estimates for pieces of equipment, an attorney can seek compensation for the items that you need. This will help you return to the farmer’s market with less out of pocket costs on your behalf.

Contact an attorney from a firm like Wolter, Beeman & Lynch to set up an initial meeting and get help with moving forward through a settlement case.

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Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Smart Steps Toward Obtaining Your Social Security Disability Benefits

On the surface, applying for Social Security disability benefits looks like a simple process — you fill in an application and then wait for approval or rejection. Unfortunately, that process also includes a minefield of of potential sticking points, each of which can lead to a small but critical error barring from much-needed payments. Here are some smart tactics that can help you sidestep these mistakes and smooth the way for a successful Social Security disability application.

Lawyer Up

Unless you have an obviously devastating long-term or permanent disability or already have a detailed understanding of Social Security forms, your smartest first move will be to engage a Social Security lawyer, such as Todd East Attorney at Law. This type of professional can provide instant expertise so you don’t have to grope blindly through the complex process by yourself. An attorney will also know exactly what types of supporting data need to be gathered (and where to get them), how to decipher the sometimes-tricky terminology in the application forms and how to make the best possible case on your behalf. If you end up having to go to court to fight for your claim, you’ll be glad you already have this expert in your corner.

If you’re already in dire financial straits at the time of your disability application, you may wonder how in the world you’re supposed to pay for attorney on top of everything else. The good news is that a Social Security lawyer will work a disability case on contingency, getting paid only if you’re awarded your benefits. The lawyer then receives a percentage of the back pay awarded to you by the Administration (or a flat fee of $6,000, whichever method comes out to less money). The only caveat is that you may have to pay a small sum for the attorney’s out-of-pocket expenses, win or lose.

Fill in the Blanks (Correctly)

Social Security disability forms distribute a dizzyingly long list of disability categories across a two–part Listing of Impairments. In many cases the terms are by no means self-explanatory, and it’s all too easy to classify yourself under the wrong disability. This is a critical reason to have a Social Security lawyer handle the documentation. You’ll also have to provide a large body of medical documentation going back as far as the earliest signs of your impairment. Your attorney can track down and obtain the exact records you need to present your case.

Simply submitting the wrong forms of forms can derail your Social Security application right from the beginning. This is an easier trap to fall into than you might think because there are different types of Social Security benefits, each of which requires its own specific application. For instance, if you’ve paying tax dollars into Social Security over a certain period of years, you may qualify for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), in which you need to fill out that application form. If you haven’t been able to make those payments, then you may need to apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) instead. Fill out the wrong form for your situation, and you can expect to have your application denied.

Update Your Data Before the Hearing

If your application for disability has been denied twice by Social Security, you still have the option to taking your case to court in a hearing. In certain circumstances, you may not even have to make an appearance in court yourself — your Social Security lawyer may be able to persuade the judge to issue an OTR (“on the record”) ruling ion your favor based on the evidence presented. 

Updating your information for the hearing can be a major factor in your success or failure. That’s because Social Security disability claims place a high value on the “recency” of your medical documentation, defining 90 days as “recent.” This means if that if you don’t add supportive medical data from the previous 90 days into your claim, you may lose your case on that basis.

Put these intelligent tactics to work for your Social Security claim, and you’ll have a better chance of receiving your disability benefits. Good luck!

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Posted by on Mar 31, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Reasonable Suspicion And Pretext–Their Impact On DUI Stops

Police officers in today’s society have a tough job. They are required to enforce the law but must also respect the rights of every citizen while they do so. To put this issue in perspective, imagine that someone in your neighborhood is planning to rob your home. You’d like them stopped before the crime happens, but you don’t want police to accuse everyone on your block of plotting a crime. 

This means that police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is happening before a person can be detained for any reason, even in the case of a DUI. That way, your rights are protected. However, the actual definition of reasonable suspicion is murky. Knowing a little bit about it–and how it governs police behavior before and during a traffic stop–can help you behave in a way that could help protect you from misconduct.

What Is Reasonable Suspicion In a DUI Stop?

Impaired motorists often make themselves obvious to everyone around them. They exhibit many signs of reduced functioning, including:

  • Swerving inside a lane
  • Driving too slow or too fast
  • Drifting across the center line
  • Inconsistent acceleration or braking

If you’re seen driving in a way that is consistent with an impaired driver, the officer certainly has the right to stop you and investigate further. Often, this stop will lead to a request for field sobriety tests and possibly a breathalyzer. Depending on the law in your state, your options for refusal or failure of these tests will vary.

However, motorists are often detained and questioned when they have not displayed any signs of impaired driving. Some people point out that this practice of finding any pretext by which to detain a motorist contributes to racial profiling, but the practice is also used frequently to investigate a suspected DUI incident.

What Is a Pretext Stop?

Essentially, a pretext stop is when an officer believes that a significant crime–such as a DUI–is happening. However, they cannot articulate the reason for their suspicion in a way consistent with the requirements of having reasonable suspicion. To execute the stop, the officer then finds any minor traffic violation to detain you and begin investigating.

Often, police officers are given quite a bit of latitude in establishing the pretext for a traffic stop. That said, their power in these situations is not absolute. For example, if you’ve been pulled over for speeding and the officer notices that your speech is slurred, they can begin investigating your level of impairment. However, if no signs of impairment exist, they technically should not press that issue.

What Can You Do?

Only a legal expert can tell you exactly what your rights are in any specific situation. Unfortunately, this analysis almost always comes after the fact. You’ve already been detained, investigated, and charged by the time you contact your lawyer. That’s why it is important to know how to best protect yourself in a general sense before you’re subjected to a traffic stop.

The first thing you should do is to politely ask the officer for the reason behind the traffic stop. You have a right to know why you’re being detained. In the event that the stop goes poorly, your representation will need to know what the reasonable suspicion or pretext was. Having the officer state it will reduce the chances that it changes later.

Second, limit your answers to short sentences. This isn’t to mask any slurring or anything like that. People are naturally nervous in a traffic stop. Stuttering or tripping over your words could give the impression to an officer that you’re impaired–even when you aren’t. Brief answers help eliminate this possibility.

Finally, do not show anger or defensiveness. Many people become angry when they’ve been drinking, for a variety of reasons. Any combativeness on your part could be construed as a sign of intoxication–leading to further investigation and the establishment of reasonable suspicion.

While you’ll certainly need the help of a legal expert if you’ve been unlawfully detained or charged, the best time to begin protecting yourself is during the stop itself. By understanding how reasonable suspicion and pretext impact your traffic stop, you can properly set the stage for your attorney to be an effective advocate for your rights.

Talk with a traffic law attorney or click here for more info.

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Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Uncategorized |

3 Big Differences between Child Support and Alimony

During your divorce, you may have discussed the subjects of alimony and child support with your divorce lawyer. Both of these are types of financial support one spouse must pay another, but there are several key differences between them that you should know about. As you are working through your divorce proceedings, it is important to understand the following three differences between child support and alimony.

The Purpose of Each

Child support is a type of payment from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent to help him or her financially support their children children. If you have kids and you obtain custody rights of the kids, your ex-spouse will most likely be required to pay you child support each week or month. The court calculates this amount based on both of your incomes, and it can often be garnished from a person’s wages to make sure it is paid. This money is designed to help you provide food, shelter, and clothing for your children.

Alimony, on the other hand, is a type of support designed to help provide for a spouse who earns significantly less than the other spouse. This money has nothing to do with the kids involved, and it can be awarded when a couple does not have children. It is harder to convince a court you need alimony in comparison to child support, and you will not even be eligible for collecting alimony if your marriage was short lived and if you earn about the same income as your spouse.

Tax Consequences of Each

The second big difference with alimony and child support involves the tax consequences of each. Child support payments you receive are not considered taxable income. This means that you do not have to report them on your tax return, and you will not have to pay taxes on this money.

Alimony is taxable income. When you collect alimony payments, you will have to report all of them on your income taxes, and you will have to pay taxes on the payments. Because of this, you may end up with larger tax liabilities at the end of each year.

You should also realize that your ex-spouse will not be able to write child support payments off on his or her tax return, but he or she will be allowed to write off alimony payments made to you.

Length of Time Each Must Be Paid During

The third difference to understand is there can be differences in the length of time your ex must pay each of these to you. When it comes to child support, most states require payments to be made until a child turns 18 to 21 years old. Each state has different rules, and the rules are different for kids in college and kids that are not in college. In either case, you can expect to receive child support payments until your children reach the age of 18 or so.

With alimony, there may not be a set amount of time a person must pay it, and every state has different rules. In most cases, alimony is a temporary form of support. It may last until you have had enough time to receive training for a better job, or it may only last until the divorce is finalized. Your ex may also have the right to ask the alimony to stop if you get remarried or have a significant positive financial change in your life.

Receiving alimony and child support can be helpful during and after a divorce, but these forms of support will not typically last forever. If you have questions about this subject, contact a divorce lawyer like Andrew H P Norton in your area to schedule an appointment.

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Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Divorce And Underwater Mortgages — An Underwater Dilemma

If you currently owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth, you are not alone. According to MarketWatch, there are more than 4 million homeowners in the United States who owe their banks 20 percent more than their houses are worth. In the best possible situation, you could try to live in your home until the housing market recovered and your house became more valuable. But if your marriage is ending, you may be required to sell your house as part of the divorce proceedings. So what are your options for selling your home if it is underwater?

Consider a Short Sale of Your House

If neither you or your soon-to-be ex can afford the mortgage payments after your divorce or if neither party has a desire to continue living in your underwater home, you could try to sell your home for less than the amount of money that you owe your mortgage company. This is known as a short sale. Generally, it is considered a better idea than letting the house go into foreclosure because, according to the New York Times, a short sale will have less of a negative impact on your credit history. Plus, having a foreclosure on your credit history can also affect other aspects of your lives. For example, some employers are leery of hiring a person with a bankruptcy on their record. 

But short sales are not simple, so you may want to seek legal representation during the process to protect your interests. The bank that owns your mortgage is definitely going to have high-powered lawyers representing their needs, and they are going to try to get as much money from you as possible. Remember, during a short sale, you will be selling your home for less money than you owe the bank. And banks are not in the business of giving away their cash. So in order to recover part of their losses, the bank’s lawyers may attempt to:

  • Garnish your wages
  • Attach your bank accounts
  • Pursue payments in the future

A lawyer from a firm like Iannello Anderson can look over the final paperwork from the bank to ensure that it does not contain wording that could hold you liable for the balance of the loan in the future. Another reason you may need a lawyer during this process? Real estate agents are not allowed to offer legal advice even if they know the answers. And, finally, you may not have a choice of whether or not you want to hire a lawyer as some real estate firms are now requiring that short sellers hire legal representation. 

One Party Keeps the House

If either you or your spouse wants to continue living in the house, the other party could receive a credit for the negative equity during the divorce proceedings. For example, if you and your spouse have total assets of approximately $500,000, and your home has a negative equity of  $50,000, the spouse who keeps the home will end up with $50,000 in marital debt. In some cases, the judge may give the person keeping the house a credit for $25,000, which is half of the negative equity. This situation may be appropriate for you if:

  • The party who wants to stay in the house can afford to pay the mortgage on their own. 
  • The home may be worth more in the future and a spouse is willing to take that gamble and continue paying for and living in it. 

In some cases, the divorcing parties may decide to cut their losses and zero out the negative equity, which means that it will not be factored in during the division of assets.

Divorce is tough enough in the best of times, but it can be especially gut-wrenching when a house with an underwater mortgage is involved. Unfortunately, there are typically no winners in this scenario, and the best you can hope for is to protect your interests as best as you can. 

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