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Posted by on Nov 12, 2015 in Uncategorized |

How To Maximize Potential Compensation In Your Car Crash Case

After being injured in a car accident, you’ll have to negotiate with an adjuster for the insurance company that represents the person who’s at fault for your injuries. This negotiation process is never fun and games, as the adjuster is sure to work hard at minimizing any payments they’ll be responsible for providing you with. So if your case is potentially worth thousands of dollars, it’s essential to hire an experienced lawyer who focuses on personal injury cases and knows the laws inside and out. Here’s what you can do to help your lawyer maximize potential compensation in your car crash case:

Take Photos

It’s important to take photos that document the accident and help prove your point of view about what happened. If possible, go back to the accident scene and take photos of the ground, landmarks, and any other visual information in the area that is pertinent to your case. It’s also important to photograph your entire vehicle up close and in sufficient lighting so that damage from the accident can be clearly seen without glare. If you have been physically injured, take photos of your bodily injuries once a week throughout the proceedings of your case to help prove how long you’re having to deal with said injuries.

Find Witnesses

While you’re at the accident scene taking photos, take the time to talk to people living in the area who may have seen what happened. If you do find witnesses to the accident, ask them to fill out a simple form stating their names, contact information, and the specifics of what they saw when the accident happened. You may want to ask your lawyer to create your own personalized form and make copies of it before looking for witnesses to ensure that you get the information you want and need from each of them. This will ensure that nothing important, such as a license plate number, is overlooked when witnesses relay their accounts.

Gain Some Written Insight

It can be helpful to ask your friends and family to write accounts of their insight into the pain and suffering you’ve had to go through since being in an accident. The kind of pain they see you in while they’re in your presence, the loss of work you have experienced, and what you are doing with your time during recovery can all be recorded by loved ones and turned over to your lawyer, which will help to fill in the blanks. Like with getting witness information, you can have personalized forms created to have your loved ones fill out – but open letters that allow them to speak in their own words and in their own way may be more insightful to your lawyer and the courts if they have to get involved in your case.

Record Your Progress Updates

In addition to having your friends and family members provide insight into your healing progress, it’s important that you document your progress personally. Consider keeping a diary dedicated just to aspects of your life that involve the accident. Each morning or evening take the time to record how much pain medication you’ve had to take, whether or not you had to miss work and if so, how much money was lost, and what your overall mindset if like in regards to your pain and suffering. Your diary can be used as an extensive account of your life after the accident, and can be used to help calculate the amount of compensation your lawyer should ask for.

You’ll find that these techniques will not only help your lawyer maximize potential compensation for your case, but it also help to keep you involved in your case and ensure that you maintain a sense of control over the process. Contact a local personal injury lawyers, such as Otorowski Johnston Morrow & Golden P.L.L.C., for more information. 

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Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 in Uncategorized |

3 Keys To Finding The Right Foreclosure Attorney

Many people’s biggest fear when filing for bankruptcy lies in the possibility of losing their home. In these situations, it’s important that you have a qualified foreclosure attorney who can fight your case on your behalf and help you to hold on to your property. However, choosing the right lawyer isn’t always easy. To help you make an informed decision, here are the three keys to finding the right foreclosure attorney:

Find a Lawyer with Experience in Foreclosures

Foreclosure is a very sensitive area of real estate law, and as such it’s important you find the right type of lawyer to represent you. While there are many lawyer who specialize entirely in foreclosure, you will typically come across many others with more general specializations such as real estate or bankruptcy. Whatever type of lawyer you choose, you must ensure they have a proven track record in handling complex foreclosure cases and delivering real results.

When choosing a foreclosure lawyer, make sure you find out how many cases your potential attorney has filed. Rather than gauging each individual by their years in the field, choosing an attorney on the basis of successful defenses will ensure you have the legal help you require.

When looking for an attorney, make sure you hold a number of one-to-one meetings to give yourself a chance to discuss your case before signing on the dotted line. Even if the first attorney you meet feels like a perfect fit, speak to a few others so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of each before coming to a decision.

Calculate the Cost

The cost of a foreclosure attorney depends entirely on your case. If you have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have a good chance of keeping your home, and so hiring a foreclosure attorney will be somewhat of a formality. However, if you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you face a lengthy legal battle to maintain possession of your property, and so your legal fees will be substantially higher.

While it is difficult to calculate an exact figure for your legal fees, it is possible to narrow your costs down to a small range. Typically, foreclosure attorneys will charge their fees in one of two ways:  

Flat fees

As the name suggests, these are lump-sum costs that you pay in advance of your trial. Typical costs range from $1,500 to $4,000, depending on your situation and how much work the attorney is required to put into the case.

Choosing a foreclosure attorney that charges a flat fee at the front end of the case is a good way to place a limit on your fees; however, the flipside of this is that you may end up paying a large amount for a little work. Therefore, it’s imperative that you analyze your situation in detail prior to hiring an attorney on a flat-fee basis.

Hourly Rates

If you would rather pay the exact amount for the legal service provided, consider hiring a foreclosure attorney who charges by the hour. Typical hourly rates for a foreclosure attorney ranges from $100 to several hundred dollars, although rates may be higher for particularly tricky cases or those with extremely tight deadlines.

Hiring an attorney that charges by the hour can be a great way to ensure you aren’t paying over the odds for your legal support. However, it’s important that you keep tabs on the overall cost to ensure your finances aren’t spiraling out of control.

Verify Their Credentials

It’s important that you don’t just take your potential lawyer’s word for their professionalism. In today’s modern era, you have access to a number of different metrics that you can use to assess your attorney’s credential. With the amount of information available at the click of the button, there is no excuse for not doing your homework!

The first thing to do is ask your potential lawyer for a list of references. In most cases, they will be happy to supply you with names and contact details of people who will back up their credentials. If they don’t, tread carefully. Word-of-mouth is a potent marketing tool for attorneys, so if your prospective lawyer doesn’t want to give details of references, they may be hiding something.

If you have chosen to use a bankruptcy attorney to defend your foreclosure case, you can use the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) to verify their claims. If your attorney’s law firm is a member of this association, you can rest assured they will hold themselves to a high standard.

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Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Bankruptcy Or Divorce: Which One Should You File First?

If you find yourself considering both bankruptcy and divorce around the same time, it’s easy to feel like your life is falling apart. But your position isn’t as unusual as you might believe. While bankruptcy and divorce don’t necessarily go hand in hand, they are often connected. Research indicates that debt is one of the most harmful relationship issues. And it’s well-known that legal separations and divorces have a negative impact on the finances of the couple. The court costs and lawyer’s fees are a big expense, and both spouses face bearing the full costs of maintaining a household on their own. Given the effects of finances on the strength of a marriage and the effects of divorce on one’s finances, it’s no surprise that a bankruptcy might be on the horizon before the divorce or become necessary immediately following the divorce. The question is, when you know that both a divorce and a bankruptcy are imminent, which should you file first?

When to File Bankruptcy First

It can be difficult to file for bankruptcy jointly if you’re not on amicable terms with your soon-to-be-ex spouse, so your ability to cooperate with each other for some length of time should be considered. It’s best not to attempt any joint bankruptcy if the relationship is highly contentious. If you’re considering filing bankruptcy first, your best bet is to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which usually only takes about three or four months.

A joint Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows both of you to wipe out your unsecured debts without the need to commit to a lengthy joint repayment plan. If one of the two of you is a stay-at-home spouse or is making only a minimal amount of money, filing for bankruptcy before the divorce can help the spouse that is making the majority of the money qualify for a Chapter 7, as opposed to a Chapter 13. Separately, the spouse making the majority of the money may have too many assets to qualify for a Chapter 13, but with the addition of a non-working or minimally-earning spouse, a Chapter 7 may be an option. Many people prefer the Chapter 7 because it doesn’t require you to repay your debts.

Furthermore, if neither one of you can afford to pay off an underwater car loan or mortgage, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can wipe that out, which means that you and your spouse won’t need to worry about how to split that debt up.

When to File for Divorce First

If your combined incomes are too high for the two of you to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, divorcing first may bring your income and asset levels down low enough to qualify for a Chapter 7. Basically, if you want or will have to have a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, filing for divorce first is a smart move. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan can last from 3-5 years. While you can certainly divorce while the repayment plan is in place,  you will still have to follow the repayment plan jointly, and one spouse’s failure to pay can affect the other’s status. In most cases, it’s best not to have your finances tangled up with someone that you intend to divorce.

If only one of you wishes to file for bankruptcy, divorcing first can protect the non-bankrupt spouse’s assets. For example, if you’re awarded the house in the divorce, and you don’t plan to file for bankruptcy, having the divorce decree in place and the home title legally signed over to you protects the house from foreclosure when your ex-spouse files for bankruptcy.

Spousal support and child support are also important considerations. If you’re going to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and you know that you’re also going to end up having to pay spousal support or child support, it’s best to get the divorce over with first. That way, the child and spousal support amounts will be factored in when looking at your income and determining your repayment plan.

Both divorce and bankruptcy can have a major impact on your finances for years to come, so if you’re going to have to deal with both of them, it’s best to take the time to strategize with your soon-to-be-ex spouse to choose the plan that will have the least negative consequences for the both of you. Also, contact a lawyer, such as Wade Bettis, J.D., Ph.D., PC, to help you through the process. 

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Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Protecting Collectibles From An Acrimonious Divorce

A person can develop a lot of anger and bitterness while going through a divorce that may cause him or her to lash out at the soon-to-be ex-spouse. This can result in the loss of valuable or sentimental items that the person spent a lot of years and money acquiring. For example, a woman acquired her ex-husband’s video game collection in a divorce and sold it for much less than it was worth to get back at the man. If you want to avoid the same thing happening to your collectibles, use the following tips.

Draw Up a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that details the terms of marriage prior to both parties going through with the union. While a prenuptial agreement can address almost any issue, the majority of contracts focus on the division of property and spousal support in the event the marriage ends in divorce. If you want to keep your spouse from being awarded your collectibles when you separate, drawing up a prenup agreement addressing the issue would be the first place to start.

Even if you’re already married, you can still have this type of contract drawn up between you and your spouse. In this case, it would be called an postnuptial and may be a little more complex to implement depending on how long you’ve been married and whether the assets you want to protect are considered separate or marital property.

In either case, it’s essential that you work with an attorney when drawing up the agreement to ensure it is legally binding. It’s not unusual for a judge to throw out a prenuptial agreement because it was worded poorly or addressed issues that can only be resolved by a court (e.g. child support payments, child custody).

Do Not Buy Your Collectibles with Mixed Money

Even if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, you can still prevent your soon-to-be ex-spouse from getting your collectibles by maintaining the assets’ separate property classification. Separate property is assets that belong to one spouse, while community or marital property is assets that belong to both spouses. In general, any assets the spouse owned prior to getting married is considered separate property, while assets acquired after the marriage are considered community property.

Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, your separate property can be ruled community property in a divorce. This can happen if you purchase items for your collection using comingled funds. For example, you buy video games with money from a joint checking account. Your ex-spouse could argue that since you used some of his or her money to enhance the collection, he or she has a claim to it.

A judge may also award your ex-spouse a portion of the collection (or equivalent value) if he or she added to it in some way. For instance, your wife spends time searching for and buying snow globes to add to your collection of kitsch. This investment in time and money may entitle her to some of the equity in the asset, especially if she spent her own money and her contributions increased the overall value of the collection.

To avoid either of these scenarios, only use your money to buy pieces for the collection. If your spouse is interested in contributing to it, then you’ll need to come to an agreement (preferably written) about what happens to the collection should you get a divorce.

Relocate the Asset

If you feel your marriage is headed towards divorce (or you’ve already entered that stage) and you think your collection is at risk of being damaged or sold off by your spouse, it may be prudent to move it to a safe place until the proceedings end. Be careful and consult with your attorney before doing so. Moving an asset can be seen as an attempt to hide it, and a judge may penalize you by dividing the asset between you and your spouse or taking it away altogether. Make sure you list the collection as part of your assets and be very clear about your reasons for relocating it to avoid accusations of impropriety.

For more tips on protecting your valuable collection during divorce, contact a divorce attorney near you, which you can do by visiting a site like

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Posted by on Aug 6, 2015 in Uncategorized |

When Is Your Employer Liable For Workplace Violence?

You may assume workers compensation coverage applies only injuries associated with slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. However, this insurance covers much more — and with recent increases in the rates of workplace violence, knowing when your employer is required to take steps to protect you and coworkers from potential physical danger can be crucial. Read on to learn more about the situations in which your employer may be liable for employee (or customer) actions that cause other employees injury, as well as what you should do if you find yourself on the mend from a debilitating injury deliberately caused by a customer, coworker, or supervisor.

What injuries are covered by workers compensation?

Workers compensation is a type of insurance coverage carried by employers and intended to compensate employees for any medical costs, lost wages, or other expenses associated with an on-the-job accident. Workers comp can cover injuries ranging the gamut from an infected papercut to a gunshot wound, as well as just about anything in between. If your injury didn’t take place at your work site, but while you were traveling for work (or to a new work site), it should still be covered. The only large swath of injuries excluded from workers comp coverage are those that take place during your normal morning or afternoon commute, unless you were traveling to a different location than your normal one.

Are employers responsible for violent actions committed by employees or customers?

Since 1970, the federal government has prescribed a number of health and safety regulations for employers through its Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). These OSHA regulations primarily govern safety from mechanical issues or equipment failure — like ensuring that those who regularly work at or above certain heights have the requisite safety equipment, requiring hard hats and other protective equipment in areas with falling or flying objects, and other physical safety issues.

However, some OSHA regulations are more broadly interpreted, and employers who ignore threats of violence or other potential red flags that indicate an employee or customer could pose a physical danger to other employees could be committing a violation. Many state governments have also implemented laws and regulations targeted toward reducing violence in the workplace. If your employer was (or should have been) aware of a danger and did nothing to prevent it, it may be responsible for not only workers comp coverage for your injuries, but also liable under personal injury or wrongful death law.

What should you do if you’ve been injured by a violent customer, coworker or supervisor?

Your first step should be to file a workers compensation claim with your employer. Your employer will then transmit your information to its workers comp carrier to open a claim. After this, you’ll be able to receive checks for any lost wages you’ve experienced while out of work. You should be able to have your medical bills forwarded to the workers comp carrier for direct payment.

If you feel your employer could have easily prevented your accident, you may also want to file a personal injury lawsuit to help recover additional costs. Although personal injury lawsuits are often barred in cases where the claimant is receiving workers comp for the same injury, most states will allow this lawsuit to proceed if your employer engaged in deliberate conduct or negligently failed to take action to protect you and other employees.

Depending upon the circumstances of your injury, you may also want to report this incident to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Representatives from this organization may visit your work site and speak to your employers to help implement measures that will prevent similar incidents in the future. Although OSHA fines collected don’t always go to the individuals impacted, the threat of such fines is often enough to force compliance from even reluctant employers. For more ideas, click here for info.

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Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Workers’ Compensation: Could You Claim for Avian Flu?

Around 3.8 million Americans suffer work-related injuries or illnesses every year. While employers (and workers) must take precautions to keep the workplace safe, workers’ compensation insurance helps people deal with the financial implications of time away from work. Avian flu is a rare illness for American workers, but the disease could have serious consequences.

Find out about the effects Avian flu can have, and learn more about the factors that could influence a workers’ compensation claim for this disease.

About Avian flu

Avian flu (commonly called bird flu) is a type A flu virus, which occurs naturally in aquatic birds. Scientists detect outbreaks in wild birds on a fairly regular basis, but the disease occasionally also spreads and infects humans. Only one serious pathogenic outbreak has occurred in the United States, when 7,000 chickens contracted the virus in Texas in 2004. In that case, doctors did not see any transmission to humans.

A few rare cases of human bird flu infection have occurred in the United States, after people came in close contact with infected birds. People with the virus can experience many symptoms, including severe respiratory disease and problems with several major organs. To date, only 359 people throughout the world have died from Avian flu, but many more have become ill.

Workers’ compensation requirements

There are three key criteria you must meet to file a workers’ compensation claim.

  • Employer insurance. State laws vary, but most American employers must hold workers’ compensation insurance. Some states do not force businesses that employ one or two people to have this insurance, so if you are the sole worker in a company, state law may not allow you to make a workers’ compensation claim. Also, some states don’t force charities to hold this insurance.
  • Employment status. You can only file a claim for workers’ compensation if you are a company employee. Full-time and part-time workers are eligible, but independent contractors cannot file a claim. 
  • Type of illness or injury. You must show that your illness is work-related. If you contracted the virus during working hours, then workers’ compensation laws should protect you.

In all cases, you might need a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you prove your case. If you catch bird flu, you may find it harder to prove your case than you would expect.

Objections an employer could make

While an employer cannot argue his or insurance status, he or she may battle the second two criteria.

Many employers describe workers as independent contractors, when they’re actually employees. Under Workers’ Compensation Law, the term employee normally includes borrowed employees, sub-contractors, leased employees and unpaid volunteers.

When challenging this, a lawyer will consider many factors including who has the right to control what you do, the sort of work you do and how your employer pays your wages. People who work on poultry farms often work under temporary or flexible contracts, so an employer may deny liability for any illness (like bird flu) you contract.

What’s more, it’s scientifically impossible to say when you caught a virus, so your employer may also argue against you. For example, if you came into contact with wild birds outside work, your employer’s lawyer could argue that you cannot categorically prove your illness was work-related.

Your responsibilities

When you file a workers’ compensation claim, a court will not normally consider if your conduct contributed to the illness or disease because the system works on a ‘no-fault’ basis. That aside, some courts rule against employees in certain situations. For example, if you got drunk, a court might decline your claim if your conduct directly caused an injury.

Your conduct is less likely to influence a case where an infection occurs, but a court may consider your conduct if you had used illegal drugs or alcohol. For example, scientists recommend a range of protective measures to prevent infection from bird flu. If you didn’t use protective clothing correctly, and you were drunk, a court could rule that your inebriation put you at risk of infection.

Avian flu remains relatively uncommon across the United States, but some workers are at higher risk than others. To claim workers’ compensation, you should always refer the case to a trained attorney because you may find yourself up against an employer who doesn’t want to take responsibility.

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