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Two Ways To Protect Your Job While On Disability Leave

Posted by on Aug 1, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Two Ways To Protect Your Job While On Disability Leave

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against or fire employees for having disabilities. However, there isn’t anything in the law that prevents employers from firing workers while they are on disability leave and/or collecting benefits, as long as the reason for the dismissal isn’t because of their physical or mental condition. If you’re worried your employer may give your job to someone else while you’re out recovering or dealing with your medical issues, here are two ways you may be able to protect your position. Use the Family and Medical Leave Act The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that lets employees take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to tend to medical issues or take care of close family members. Under this law, employers are required to reinstate employees to the same jobs, or ones identical to their positions, when employees return from approved FMLA leaves. This means that if you take off work to recover from or deal with a disability, your employer can’t fire you while you’re away. To be eligible for this option, you must: Have put in 1,250 hours in the year before the first day of your leave Must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months (can be non-consecutive) Work for an employer that has a minimum of 50 employees who are located within 75 miles of each other Must have an eligible condition Not all disabilities or health conditions qualify for FMLA leave. To be eligible, your condition must require inpatient care, leave you incapacitated for more than 3 days and require treatment by a healthcare professional, be a chronic serious medical ailment, or be a long-term health problem, among other categories. It’s important you follow your company’s notification requirements when taking time off using the FMLA. Failure to do so may result in you losing the protection this law offers. Make a Case that Leave is a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Americans with Disability Act, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities so they can do their jobs. Typically this refers to making modifications in the physical environment (e.g. wheelchair ramps) or providing assistive devices (e.g. screen reader for the blind). However, reasonable accommodation may also encompass providing time off work. The caveat here is that letting you take the time off must not create an undue hardship on the company. For instance, if you’re one of two salespeople who work at your company and giving you the time off without replacing you would put the company at a significant competitive disadvantage, the company may not be required to honor your request. However, if you’re able to get your employer to agree to let you take time off under the ADA, then your job will be protected until you return to work. There may be other things you can do to protect your job status while you are taking time off to deal with your medical condition. Contact a disability attorney, like, who can provide some advice that may be...

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How Probate Treats The Family Home

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How Probate Treats The Family Home

For many people, real estate comprises the bulk of an estate. For those charged with dealing with the estate of a loved one, the dispensing of that real estate can be tricky. It can be confusing if the will states that your deceased parent has left you with the responsibility of being the executor, you may be concerned about how to properly and fairly divide up the family home. Read on to learn more about how probate deals with the family home when a loved one passes away. The Estate When one hears the word estate, you might picture a grand home on rolling hills, but when discussing probate the word “estate” simply means all the property (and debt) that a deceased person has left behind. It can be art, jewelry, cars, bank accounts and even cash. Most property can be divided fairly, but the family home can be a little more complicated to divvy up. Executor Responsibilities for Real Estate Once the will has been filed in probate court in your county, the executor must get to work on a variety of jobs, including those that concern any real estate holdings. Below are some of the real estate-related tasks: Pay property taxes as they are due. Continue to pay any utility bills and cancel the services that are no longer needed. For example, you will likely want to keep the water and electricity on to protect the contents of the home against heat and cold, but you probably can cut the cable television. Pay the mortgage or home equity loans. Pay any storage or condominium dues and fees. Keep the homeowners, flood and hurricane insurance policies current. Arrange for and pay for any clean-out projects, if the home is being sold. Pay for any needed maintenance. Arrange and pay for an appraisal of the home. At the Completion of Probate Once the will has passed through probate, your primary responsibility is to divide the property. With the appraised value in hand, you can begin to view the value of the home as part of the estate, which can help you to create a more fair division. For example, if one sibling wants the home and is willing to give up other property, a fair trade can be calculated. Other choices include: Sell the home and divide the proceeds. It should be noted that in some states the home may be put on the market before probate is complete. Discuss this option with your probate attorney. Allow one sibling to buy the other out with cash or by taking out a loan with the home as collateral. The family home is not just another piece of real estate or property, it can mean more to the survivors. Tread carefully when making decisions and be sure to include your siblings in the process throughout the probate period. Count on your probate attorney to guide you through this sometimes emotionally-charged process with eye towards fairness and honoring your loved...

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6 Major Steps Of A Personal Injury Case

Posted by on Jun 30, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 6 Major Steps Of A Personal Injury Case

In your quest for compensation from your auto accident injuries, you should be prepared to experience a somewhat lengthy process. While you can expect some compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, this amount will fall short of providing pain and suffering damages. To move beyond your medical expenses and loss of personal property (such as your vehicle), you will likely need to file a personal injury claim and pursue the matter in court. With the help of a personal injury attorney, you may be entitled to be reimbursed for your lost wages and pain and suffering, in addition to the property and medical expense compensation. Read on for the 6 major steps of a personal injury case. 1. Meeting with Your Attorney Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they don’t get paid unless you win your case. While this presents many people with an opportunity to take advantage of a legal professional, it also means that the attorney must be able to predict a positive outcome for your case before they agree to work for you. You can help both you and your attorney to get quickly up to speed by providing your attorney with some important paperwork at the initial meeting, such as the police report, insurance information for both you and the other driver, and a summary of your medical expenses. 2. Suit is Filed Once your attorney has all the information needed, a suit will be filed in court and the opposing side will be provided with a copy of the document. The suit will enumerate several important aspects of the case, including who is at fault, the reasoning behind the allegations of fault, and the dollar amount of compensation being demanded. 3. Discovery and the Deposition This legal meeting and process of interviewing major players in the case could be considered a mini-trial, since testimony from you and others is taken and recorded for later use in the actual trial, should it come to that. The upside of a deposition is the distinct possibility that once the other side views the evidence, they may offer you a settlement before the case comes to trial. 4. Motions You can expect most personal injury cases to be interrupted by the attorneys for both sides filing various motions, which are just documents that request the judge makes certain rulings. Motion to Dismiss: This normally takes place near the beginning of the trial and asks that the judge refuse to even the preside over the case due to lack of merit or for other reasons. Don’t be alarmed by this routine request. It should be noted that this motion often contains the crux of the other side’s case against you. Motion for Summary Judgment: Filed by your attorney, this motion seeks a peremptory ruling based on the evidence so far in the case. If granted, your courtroom days could be shortened considerably. 5. Settlement Offers Offers to settle the case without a court ruling can come at any time, and it’s interesting to note a large percentage, some 95%, of all personal injury cases are settled before a single day in court occurs. 6. Collection Once both sides have rested and a verdict has been rendered, the final step of collection...

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Injured On The Job? 4 Mistakes That Could Cost You

Posted by on Jun 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Injured On The Job? 4 Mistakes That Could Cost You

If you’ve been injured on the job, you might be worried about how it will affect your family and your future. Being injured on the job is stressful, especially if you’re the sole breadwinner for your family. Don’t take chances with your future, or your family’s future. Mistakes you make following your accident may have serious repercussions. In fact, some mistakes can make it difficult for you to receive the benefits you’re entitled to. Here are four mistakes you should avoid if you’ve been injured on the job. Delaying the Report If you left work without telling your boss about the accident, you could be jeopardizing your case. You might think that a good night’s sleep will alleviate the discomfort you’re experiencing but if it doesn’t, you’re going to have to explain to your boss why you delayed reporting the incident. Even if you think the injury is minor, notify your boss immediately. Filing a Verbal Report Only If you told your boss about the injury, but you didn’t file a written report, you’re not fully protected. A written report will provide a paper trail that can be followed if the insurance company fails to provide you with the care you need, or your employer tries to downplay the injuries. A verbal report will give your employer the opportunity to dispute your claims. When filing a paper report, make sure you get a copy of the report. It’s also important to make sure that the report was signed and dated by your employer. Ignoring the Accident Many workplaces have a way of advertising accident-free days as an incentive to ensure a safe work environment. Unfortunately, they can often use a long run of accident-free days as a way to manipulate their employees into ignoring injuries. If you’ve been injured on-the-job, don’t let a run of accident-free days keep you from receiving the care and the benefits you’re entitled to. Accepting the Doctor Chosen by Your Employer Your employer will probably send you to a doctor of their choosing. That doesn’t mean you need to stick with that doctor. In fact, you probably shouldn’t stick with them. Employers will try to send you to a doctor that will benefit them at the cost of your medical care. To protect your health and your benefits, be sure to choose a doctor that you’re comfortable with. If you’ve been injured on the job, don’t make mistakes with your future. The information provided here will help you avoid costly mistakes. Be sure to speak to a worker’s compensation attorney as soon as possible. They’ll help you receive the benefits you’re entitled to.  To learn more, visit a website...

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Should You Hire A Divorce Lawyer?

Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Should You Hire A Divorce Lawyer?

Should you represent yourself in a divorce? Some couples can successfully divorce without the help of a lawyer, while others do require the services of a divorce lawyer. Understanding the circumstances in which it is in your best interest to engage a divorce lawyer can make a big difference in the outcome of your divorce proceedings. When to Represent Yourself If you and your spouse are divorcing amicably, you may be able to successfully represent yourself, as long as these additional circumstances are met. • You have no adopted or biological children • You have no or few assets • Neither party is contesting the divorce • Neither party is seeking financial support from the other • You have no shared debt • Neither of you owes the other any money • You have no shared business concerns • You both reside in the same county As you can see, the circumstances of a divorce that can be handled are long and specific. Few people can say that their divorce qualifies for all of these conditions, but some can. When to Hire a Divorce Lawyer In most cases, it’s prudent to hire a divorce lawyer as soon as possible after the decision to divorce is made. Following are some situations in which you should definitely consider hiring a divorce lawyer. • Children are involved • Considerable assets are involved, such as a home or business • One party entered into the marriage with considerable debt or wealth • One party is contentious or acrimonious • The other party has hired legal representation • One party is threatening a lawsuit • One party is seeking financial spousal support • One party has divorced multiple times in the past • One party lives in a different county What a Divorce Lawyer Can Do For You A competent and ethical divorce lawyer is one that aligns himself with your interests. Your interest, of course, is to get through the divorce as quickly as possible, in as good a shape as possible, financially and emotionally. A divorce lawyer will be able to counsel you regarding choices that can be made regarding the divorce proceedings, but the final decision is always up to you, and the final judgment is up to the court. If you and your spouse are divorcing, contact a divorce lawyer for information about how best to proceed. With good legal representation in place, your divorce proceedings may be as swift and equitable as...

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What Is A Living Together Contract?

Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What Is A Living Together Contract?

If you and your partner have decided that marriage is not in the future but you want to remain committed, you may choose to simply live together. Many people have decided to move their relationship forward in this way. While it is not at all uncommon, it could lead to some issues should the relationship end one day. Unlike marriage, where you enter a legal contract that determines the division of assets if it ends, living together offers no legal protection. To safeguard both of your assets, you may want to have a living together contract written. Why Do You Need a Living Together Contract? Couples who live together outside the protections of marriage generally live life as if they are married, which often includes the co-mingling of finances. You may purchase a home together, use joint accounts, or put money into both of your retirement funds. If the relationship is no more, you could simply separate your assets and move on. However, it very seldom works out that way. If you cannot separate amicably, or if you are concerned about what will happen regarding your joint financial decisions should you break up, you may want to have some protection. Otherwise, you will find yourselves in civil court trying to split everything down the middle. A living together contract can help prevent some of these issues. A living together contract allows unmarried couples to state ownership of different items in the relationship. You can also include child arrangements if you have kids together. What to Include in The Contract These types of contracts are tailored to each couple’s situation. Some things that are included in most contracts are all dealings with money. The contract will need to state who owned what prior to the relationship. It should also list any significant property that was accumulated or received during the relationship. This can be a real estate purchase, significant inheritances, and other major expenses. You also need to include how bills are handled between the two of you and what should happen if one of you passes away. Putting the Contract In Writing To help keep the frustrations of a break up to a minimum, it is best to have this agreement in writing. While some courts will accept a verbal agreement, you can mitigate the issue more effectively with a written instrument. This contract is fast and easy to prepare and does not require the assistance of a lawyer. However, you may want to consult with one if you have a lot of expensive assets together. Consider a lawyer from a company like Patton Hoversten & Berg PA if you decide you need one. While writing up a living together contract is not the most romantic thing in the world, it can be a very helpful tool in your relationship. Be sure to check that this type of contract is valid where you live. You can find out by calling a family attorney in your...

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Warning Labels And Personal Injuries: How A Failure To Warn Can Make A Manufacturer Liable

Posted by on Apr 19, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Warning Labels And Personal Injuries: How A Failure To Warn Can Make A Manufacturer Liable

Have you ever picked something up, read the warning label, and wondered, “Why on earth do they need to tell someone this?” It’s because a provision of the law known as a “failure to warn,” which is an important part of many product liability cases involving personal injuries. If you’ve been injured while using a commercially sold product, this is what you should know about warning labels and the law. Manufacturers cannot hide known dangers. Manufacturers are expected to exercise a certain amount of caution when designing and producing a product. The products they make should be reasonably safe to use as instructed and for their intended purpose. Manufacturers are also expected to warn people if there are certain known and unavoidable dangers that come with using a product. That’s why, when you buy a package of steak knives, they may have the warning “These knives are sharp” on the package somewhere.  Hiding the known dangers of a product is another issue that falls under the “failure to warn” provision of the law. For example, if you buy a bottle of ibuprofen at the drug store, it has a list of warnings on the box, on the insert inside the package, and on the bottle. Like a box of sharp knives, the drug presents some danger to users even when used properly. The manufacturer knows this and isn’t trying to hide the information. However, not every manufacturer does the same. A tremendous number of lawsuits involving medications involve the failure to warn consumers of side effects that the drug companies hid from patients and doctors. For example, the drug Risperdal was marketed to elderly patients despite the fact that the drug’s maker knew that it could increase the risk of death for elderly patients. The company also knew that the drug caused gynecomastia, the development of male breasts, but kept the information off the drug’s label so it didn’t lose out in sales. Manufacturers must anticipate foreseeable dangers. Manufacturers are also expected to warn consumers about reasonably foreseeable dangers. Those often come in the form of someone using the product in a way that’s not recommended but (perhaps) easily anticipated. For example, a bag of air used as packing material warns users, “Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device.” All of those are probably reasonably foreseeable uses by consumers who aren’t particularly safety-minded. While some warnings may seem comic to many users, they play an important role in making sure that the general population is kept safe from dangers associated with what is sometimes called “predictable misuse.” Other common foreseeable misuses include things like someone using an iron to try to quickly get a wrinkle out of a shirt that they’re still wearing or rocking a vending machine to dislodge an item that’s stuck. While those types of actions might represent poor judgment, they’re the sort of mistakes that many people make. If you were injured by a product that didn’t contain adequate warnings about its dangers, contact an attorney in your area for assistance. Contact a lawyer, such as Richard M Altman, for more...

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3 Misconceptions Surrounding Social Security Disability Benefits

Posted by on Feb 23, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Misconceptions Surrounding Social Security Disability Benefits

Disability can affect anyone at any point in time. Thanks to social security disability payments, you can make sure you get the money you are entitled to and focus on what you need to do to get things straightened around once again. However, many people have formed a few misconceptions about social security disability payments that end up making the application process even more confusing when they apply. To make sure you know what you are dealing with, here are three common misconceptions you need to be aware of. You can collect benefits even if you aren’t able to work for a short time. Unfortunately, many people assume that they are able to collect disability benefits even if they can’t work for three to six months. However, that isn’t the case. To be eligible for benefits, you have to be dealing with an injury that is preventing you from being able to work for a minimum of one year or something that could end up resulting in your untimely passing. Anyone who has been disabled for at least a year, or has a medical prognosis that indicates they will be incapacitated for that long, should speak with a disability attorney to find out more about how to apply and begin receiving benefits. All you need to get benefits is a note that says you are disabled. While you do need to get an opinion from your doctor about your current condition, it takes more than just that to be able to receive social security disability benefits. You will need to provide medical records, your work history and test results that outline what it is that you are dealing with. Once you have submitted all of the proper paperwork, you will have to wait for your case to be reviewed by a specialist. It doesn’t take very long to get approved, so it can wait. Many people figure that it won’t take long to get a final approval from social security, but that isn’t the case. Depending on how busy the agency is and how complicated your case is, it could take months, or even years, before you get a final answer. If they deny your claim, you are stuck having to appeal their decision, which adds more time to your claim. With so many different misconceptions out there about social security disability, you need to speak to a licensed attorney, like those at Ball & Ferrari, who can help you along the...

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Share The Streets: Understand Florida’s Vulnerable Road User Law

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Share The Streets: Understand Florida’s Vulnerable Road User Law

Thanks to Florida Statute 316.027(b), also known as the “Vulnerable Road User Law,” drivers may face increased penalties if they hit a pedestrian or other at-risk users of the roadways. Here’s what drivers in Florida should know: The vulnerable road user law This Florida statute was passed into law in 2015 at the urging of bicyclists and others who share the streets and highways with standard vehicular traffic. The goal of the law is to lower the number of fatalities on Florida’s roads. Drivers who have a collision with a vulnerable road user must stop and remain on the scene to show identification if requested and to render reasonable aid. Failure to stop after hitting a vulnerable road user is a felony under the statute. The law provides for additional penalties including loss of driving privileges, mandatory driver education and/or community service in a trauma center or hospital known to receive a high number of accident victims. Mandatory minimum sentences may apply if a driver was under the influence when the accident occurred. Share the road with workers and walkers A vulnerable road user is the pedestrian, mother with stroller, or bicyclist on a city street. Pay attention in crowded urban areas for people who are crossing the road or exiting their parked vehicles. Highway construction crews, utility workers and tow truck operators are also vulnerable road users. When driving through work zones or near stopped delivery trucks, ambulances and utility trucks, slow down and watch for workers who may be busy around their vehicles. In farming and rural areas of Florida, be courteous and share the road with tractor drivers, horse-drawn buggies and people riding on horseback. These are also considered vulnerable road users. Courts have discretion in interpreting the law There will be wide debate in courtrooms across Florida concerning the status of vulnerable users as the new law is tested. Convicted drivers are being sentenced under the statute, but some cases are not so easy to sort out. In one case, the defense has argued that an alleged victim was jaywalking and under the influence of an illegal substance at the time of their accident. It remains to be seen how much these factors will influence cases in the future. In another case, no driver has been charged because an adult guardian was found to be negligent. A lack of parental supervision was suspected as the child’s primary cause of death. Now that an investigation has ruled out negligence, Florida may re-open its investigation into the driver’s part in the vulnerable child’s fatal accident. Remember to share the road, drive the speed limit and keep your eyes open for vulnerable road users. If you are involved in any moving accidents or collisions, contact a personal injury or accident attorney as soon as possible to protect yourself. Need more info about local attorneys, you can check it out on local...

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How To Challenge A Student Loan Wage Garnishment

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Challenge A Student Loan Wage Garnishment

If you’ve been dealing with paying down your student loan, it can be a long road until it’s paid off completely. In some cases, current and former students can have their loans deferred in order buy them some extra time. When your deferment period runs out or you stop making payments, you could face a possible wage garnishment. A garnishment can be detrimental to your take-home income and often will continue until your student loan is paid off. If you’re facing a wage garnishment, there are a few situations where you may be able to challenge it. Request A Hearing If the amount of the proposed garnishment will pose a financial hardship to you, you’re able to request a hearing to have it appealed. You can also ask for a hearing if you were fired from your place of employment and have only held your new job for less than a year. Other situations where you can request a hearing is if your loan has been repaid or all debts forgiven and you do not owe any longer, and the payee is not aware that the loan is now paid in full. This often occurs due to computer or paperwork errors. If you already have a repayment agreement set up with your lender, you may also request a hearing to avoid wage garnishment. Incorrect Garnishment Amount A loan servicing company is only permitted to garnish fifteen percent or less of your wages in order to recoup what is owed. Since the rules are rather complex, some lenders may be taking more than they are supposed to or more than they are allowed. You must be able to take home enough money to be able to survive and have what is known as disposable income. Check to ensure that the amount being garnished is no more than fifteen percent of your income. If it is, you should notify the lender and appeal to have the amount reduced. If you have a lower total take home income, you could also be exempt from garnishment. Part-time employees and those who make minimum wage are usually exempt from garnishment.  Make Voluntary Payments If you would rather make monthly payments to your student loan on your own, you should contact the loan servicing company immediately to make arrangements. As soon as those arrangements are approved, the garnishment should cease. This process can be very beneficial since you will have better control over how much money is going toward your loan and you can decide which due dates you prefer for payment. There are also perks for your credit as well. Wage garnishments can hurt your credit score, but loan repayments will help keep your score higher. If you are facing a wage garnishment for a student loan, try these avenues to stop it and get your income back on...

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