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7 posts from October 2009

October 18, 2009

Divorce and Alimony: What Is It and What Factors Affect It?

Broken marriage     First of all, what is Alimony?*  Generally speaking, it is the money paid by one ex-spouse to the other for support under the terms of a court order or settlement agreement following a divorce.  Alimony is also called "spousal support" or "maintenance."  

    Okay, there are many factors that affect the amount and duration of alimony.  While this is not a complete list, it pretty much covers all the general bases.  Keep in mind that every marriage is unique and it is the combination of the factors below which will influence the spousal support determination. 

FactorDescription
Length of the marriageGenerally alimony lasts for a term or period, that will be longer if the marriage lasted longer. A marriage of over 10 years is often a candidate for permanent alimony.
Time separated while still marriedIn some U.S. states, separation is a triggering event, recognized as the end of the term of the marriage. Other U.S. states (such as New Jersey) do not recognize separation or legal separation. In a state not recognizing separation, a 2-year marriage followed by an 8-year separation will generally be treated like a 10-year marriage.
Age of the parties at the time of the divorceGenerally more youthful spouses are considered to be more able to 'get on' with their lives, and therefore thought to require shorter periods of support.
Relative income of the partiesIn U.S. states that recognize a right of the spouses to live 'according to the means to which they have become accustomed', alimony attempts to adjust the incomes of the spouses so that they are able to approximate, as best possible, their prior lifestyle.
Future financial prospects of the partiesA spouse who is going to realize significant income in the future is likely to have to pay higher alimony than one who is not.
Health of the partiesPoor health goes towards need, and potentially an inability to support oneself. The courts do not want to leave one party indigent.
Fault in marital breakdown In U.S. states where fault is recognized, fault can significantly affect alimony, increasing, reducing or even nullifying it. Many U.S. states are 'no-fault' states, where one does not have to show fault to get divorced. No-fault divorce spares the spouses the acrimony of the 'fault' processes, and closes the eyes of the court to any and all improper spousal behavior.  California is a "no-fault" state
Gender of the recipientIn general, women are more likely to be granted alimony than men, due that (usually and historically) men make more money than women, and men are less likely to have gaps in employment due to childrearing.

Broken hearted marriage

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"  


*Since my law practice is based in California, I'm addressing California law.  Your state's laws may vary so please consult an attorney for clarification of your state's law as it applies to you!


October 17, 2009

Divorce: What Is Community Property? It's Mine, No It's Mine. Well, Which Is It?

Splitting the house     Community Property laws vary from state to state.  Does Community Property Law apply in your state? Well, here's the list: 

  • California*
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

So, what then is Community Property? Simply defined, "Community Property" is all real and personal property, wherever situated, that has been acquired during marriage by a married person while domiciled in California* unless the property was his or her separate property.

    Wait! The word "unless" is in that definition.  Yes, the "unless" part is very important when dividing property upon the dissolution of marriage.  What, then, is "separate property?"  "Separate property" is all property of either spouse, owned before the marriage, or acquired after marriage by gift, inheritance, or descent, together with the rents, issues, and profits of such property.

    Here are some examples of separate property:

  • Property one spouse owned before the marriage
  • Gifts received by one spouse before or during the marriage
  • Property acquired during the marriage in one spouse’s name and never used for the benefit of the other spouse of the marriage
  • Inheritances received before or during the marriage
  • Property that the spouses agree in writing is separate
  • Property acquired by one spouse using separate property assets with the intention of keeping it separate, and
  • Certain personal injury awards

Divorcing couple Asset division is serious business and needs to be handled by an attorney.  What one spouse thinks is theirs may not be theirs!  For example, during the course of a 30 year marriage, Aunt Lettie left her entire $15 Million estate to her loving niece Jenny.  When Bob and Jenny decide to divorce, Bob is feeling pretty good because he's going to walk away with $7.5 Million!!!  Wrong Bob.  That inheritance is belongs to Jenny 100%.  This is separate property.

Feel free to consult my office if you're planning to get a divorce (or if you're in the throes of it now). Please note that Community Property v. Separate Property is just one of the complex issues in a marriage dissolution.  The issues of custody, child support, alimony, separation v. dissolution/divorce, restraining orders, retirement plans and/or tax consequences must also be addressed.

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"  


*Since my law practice is based in California, I'm addressing California law.  Your state's laws may vary so please consult an attorney for clarification of your state's law as it applies to you!

October 10, 2009

The Role of the Legal Nurse Consultant in a Personal Injury Case

Pat lewis rn     I have been very fortunate to meet a group of Legal Nurse Consultants whose passion, knowledge and expertise are of great benefit to my clients and my Personal Injury Law Practice.  As you may or may not know, I represent people who have been injured in a myriad of different ways -- vehicular accidents, slip and falls, dog/animal bites or attacks, assault and battery, defective products /product liability and more.  


    In order to best represent my clients, I need to have a complete understanding of all aspects of their case including, of course, the injuries that they sustained as a result of the incident for which I'm representing them.  A complete review and analysis of their past and present (and sometimes voluminous) medical records is a major component of the case and it is often through the assistance of a Legal Nurse Consultant that this gets accomplished.

    Therefore, I'm thrilled to post the following article by Guest Blogger, Pat Lewis, a Registered Nurse and Legal Nurse Consultant

Pat Lewis Face 

Guest Blogger Pat Lewis, RN, LHRM

How Can a Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) Help to Evaluate your Personal Injury Case?

    While it is true that an LNC may not be well versed in mechanics or as an accident reconstructionist, their contribution can be made by analyzing the medical records and spotting issues otherwise overlooked. In doing so, this will help the attorney identify the strengths and weaknesses of the case.

  Let’s take a Motor Vehicle Accident as an example

Auto accident


Testdummy  1.   Are the injuries sustained consistent with the type of collision described and the client’s position in the vehicle?  Restrained vs. unrestrained, driver vs. passenger.  Each type of impact can result in its own specific set of injuries.  Review the ER records and EMS run sheet for a description of the accident scene and injury complaints, as well as the traffic collision report. Are there any facts that support or refute liability?

2.   Does the client have any preexisting conditions or injuries similar to the current injuries or symptoms?    Review medical records and history, even just a list of current medications can give an insight into chronic medical conditions, look for tests or x-ray’s previously ordered as well as any billing/insurance payments on chart.

3.  When did the client first seek treatment?  Are they compliant with treatment?  Any gaps in treatment?  Review the health care provider’s documentation, i.e., Physical Therapy. 

4.  Identify crucial missing records.

5.  Identify medical experts needed.

6.  Attend Independent Medical Examinations.

Medical_records     The LNC can make a chronology and narrative summary in accordance to the attorney preference, research literature regarding the issues of causation and damages. Additionally, the LNC can educate the attorney and staff regarding medical conditions, anatomy and physiology, injuries suffered by the plaintiff, obtain or create teaching materials.  

    These are just a few of the benefits of using an LNC in Personal Injury litigation; there may be other roles in which they can assist the attorney by request.  The LNC can be an asset in all other types of cases that are medically related, not solely in Medical Malpractice.

How can a Legal Nurse Consultant help your practice?

Pat Lewis, RN, LHRM 

Legal Nurse Consultant

Licensed Healthcare Risk Manager

Lewispatricia22@yahoo.com

http://www.PATLEWISRN.com

    Thank you, Pat, for your well-written and thoughtful article.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident, please contact me immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"   

October 08, 2009

What To Do If You're In A Car Accident

What To Do If You're In A Car Accident

Things to Do If You're Involved in an Auto Accident

Auto-accident 



CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY TO SUMMON POLICE and/or PARAMEDICS

Then get the following information:

  1. Name, address and phone number of other driver(s) involved in the accident

  2. Driver's license number of other driver(s) involved in the accident

  3. Insurance information of other driver(s) involved in the accident, name of insurance company, policy number

  4. Registered owner information of other vehicles involved in the accident

  5. If any of the other drivers appears to be on the job for a company, get the name of that company

  6. Passengers in other vehicles? Get their names, addresses, phone numbers

  7. Actual location of accident (street, intersection, exact address, if possible)

  8. Witness information: Names, addresses, phone numbers

  9. Jot down basic information such as weather conditions, street condition, traffic (light, medium, heavy), time of day that accident happened

  10. Very Important: Do not speak to anyone other than your doctor(s) without the advice of an attorney.  In particular, DO NOT give a statement to any insurance company, recorded or not, without the advice of an attorney.

What if you don't have auto insurance?  Click here to read Uh Oh, Car Accident With No Liability Insurance: "But I'm Not At Fault" 

Keep a camera in your car at all times (disposable, camera phone, digital camera, etc.) and take pictures of the cars (including damage, license plates), people, scene.Camera_phone

Kodakmaxoutdoorcamerapromotional

Some excellent links What To Do If You're In An Accident

MSN Money: Insure Your Car.  Important tips on basic auto insurance

State Bar of California. Links to 14 important questions such as "What Information Should I Get at the Scene" and "Do I Need Auto Insurance?" as well as a link to download an entire pamphlet on the subject.

Roadragers.com. Practical tips and advice from the site whose tagline is "when you just can't take it anymore."

Important Link: Auto Insurance Coverage From A Personal Injury Lawyer's Perspective


If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident, please contact me immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

The Perfect Storm: Reducing Waiting Times in Emergency Departments and Diagnosing Heart Attacks by Jean M. Klingenberger, RN

Heart_attack     Thanks to Guest Blogger, Legal Nurse Consultant Jean M. Klingenberger, MBA/MHA, BSN, RN, who took the time to write the following article.  Legal Nurse Consultants (LNC) play an important role in personal injury and medical malpractice cases by reviewing and analyzing the client/patient's medical records. Due to their extensive educational background and great practical experience in hospital and medical settings, LNC's are able to review records and put together a comprehensive medical picture of the client's case.  This picture helps the lawyer deal with the medical issues and interact effectively with treating doctors, expert medical witnesses and the opinions of the medical witnesses hired by the opposing side.

The Perfect Storm: 

Reducing Waiting Times in Emergency Departments and Diagnosing Heart Attacks

by Jean M. Klingenberger, MBA/MHA, BSN, RN of Aurora Nurse Consulting, PLLC

More than 1 million people per year in the US have heart attacks.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both American men and women.  Heart attacks, or myocardial infarctions, cause permanent damage to the heart muscle.  “Myo” means muscle, “cardial” refers to the heart, and “infarction” means death of tissue caused by lack of blood supply.  If the heart damage is extensive, one’s health and quality of life can be severely impaired since the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body.  

The heart has a network of arteries in the heart wall that supplies blood and oxygen to the heart muscle, allowing the heart to continue to pump effectively.  Build-up of plaque and other blood products, such as clots, can severely narrow or completely clog a coronary artery, cutting off the supply of blood to that area of the heart muscle.  Without restoring the blood flow to that area, the affected heart muscle will die.  


Medical treatment for acute myocardial infarctions (AMI) is aimed at returning this flow of blood by using medications and/or medical procedures.  Time is critical in restoring this blood flow.  The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association joint guidelines for AMI care state that the goal for treatment is 90 minutes from time of patient presentation (to emergency department) to the medical procedure (angioplasty).  For health care organizations using “clot-busting” medication, that time is narrowed to 30 minutes from time of patient presentation to giving the clot-busting medication.  

Recent estimates are that between 2 and 8% of AMI patients are erroneously sent home from emergency departments.  How does this happen?  One probable cause is that patients may not exhibit the classic symptoms of a heart attack.  Typical symptoms of AMI include:

  • Heart.Attack Any abnormal sensation such as squeezing, pressure, burning, or pain in the center of the chest, which sometimes moves or radiates to the shoulder(s), neck, jaw, arms, or upper back;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Sweating;
  • Palpitations (fluttering in chest);
  • Fatigue.

However, a moderate percentage of people experience non-typical or “atypical” symptoms with or without the usual ones listed above.  These atypical symptoms include:

  • Faintness or lightheadedness;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Abdominal pain.

It is people who present with these atypical symptoms that pose the highest risk of not being correctly diagnosed as having an AMI.  Women under the age of 55, nonwhite persons, and those who reported shortness of breath as their main symptom were most likely to be discharged from an emergency department prior to the correct diagnosis of AMI.


Another possible cause may be emergency department sensitivity drift.  Of all of the patients coming into emergency departments complaining of chest pain, only about 15% of them are actually having an AMI.  This leads to a skepticism shown to patients presenting with chest pain, since roughly 85% are not having AMIs.  Emergency department personnel are much more likely to drop everything and run for a gunshot wound patient than for a chest pain patient, even though the consequences of responding slowly in either case could be devastating.   

Heart attack emergency 500 Emergency departments have been pressured over the past few years to improve patient satisfaction and reduce waiting time.  This has led to a tremendous amount of work being done across the country’s emergency departments to improve processes to move patients through in shorter periods of time.  When factoring the complexity of diagnosing patients with atypical symptoms and efforts to improve work flow processes within emergency departments to reduce time, the result is missing the diagnosis of AMI.  


Time gained for emergency department process improvement goals can result in some people dropping through the cracks and not receiving timely medical care to prevent losing heart muscle function.  Loss of good heart pumping leads to less blood nourishment of all the organs in the body.  Not only can this affect the way we feel physically, but can reduce our ability to perform our activities of daily living.  This loss of ability can affect our families, jobs, and emotional well-being.  Financially, the costs of impaired heart function can be substantial to pay for physicians, tests, and medications.  

How do we weather this perfect storm?  The best way is to know all of the typical and atypical symptoms of an AMI.  Know that tests such as electrocardiograms (EKGs) and blood tests should be performed at least twice and compared to each other for change, indicating possible heart damage.  This time frame should be no shorter than 4 or 5 hours.  Insist on being heard by the emergency department staff.  Patients often know when “something is not right,” and communicate that clearly.  Being informed and being heard are keys to accurate diagnosis and effective care during a heart attack.  

You can contact Ms. Klingenberger at jean@aurora-lnc.com

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident, please contact me immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


October 02, 2009

Are You Entitled to Compensation For Your Car's Loss in Value After an Accident?

Before-After-3     What happens when you're in an accident, it's the other driver's fault, their insurance fixes your car but now your car is worth less than it was before the accident?  In legal terms, this decrease in value is called Diminution in Value.  

    The vehicle looks okay but disclosing that it was in an accident will certainly decrease the amount a buyer is willing to pay.  So, it begs the question "Can I ask to be paid for this decrease in my vehicle's value?"  

    The answer is a qualified "yes."  The law in the State of California (it may be different in different states so please consult your attorney) is "When the damaged property cannot be completely repaired to its pre-accident state, the measure of damages is the difference between its value before the injury and its value after the repairs have been made, plus the reasonable cost of making the repairs."  This comes from an old case 1946 which is STILL GOOD LAW today! (For reference, Merchant etc. Assn. v. Kellogg E. & D. Co. [28 Cal.2d 594] (1946) 28Cal 2d 594, 600).  


What The Heck Does This Mean?  Can I Be Compensated Or Not?

    Here's what all of this legal mumbo jumbo means:  If the vehicle cannot be restored to its original value (which is almost always the case in a car accident), the owner can collect not only the cost of repairs but the difference between the vehicle's value before the accident and after the repairs were made UNLESS the cost of repairs was greater than the decrease in value.  

Example 1: YES!!! You Can Be Compensated

    Example 1: Say your car was worth $30,000 before the accident and it cost $5,000 to fix it.  But now if you went to sell your car today (after the accident), you could only get $20,000 because of the accident, you're entitled to an additional $5,000 for diminution in value! 

Example 2: NO! You Cannot Be Compensated 

    Example 2: Now let's say your car was worth $30,000 before the accident and it cost the same $5,000 to fix it BUT now if you went to sell your car today (after the accident), you could still get $27,500 for it, you are NOT entitled to any more money.

Asc2     Diminution in value is a question of fact.  This means that you must have objective evidence to prove your car's value before the accident and your car's value after the accident. This can be determined by a qualified appraiser and is an issue that should be discussed with your attorney.   

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident, please contact me immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

October 01, 2009

Internet Crime: Fraudsters on Social Networking Sites

Social-networking-sites     The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center has prepared a report entitled "Techniques Used by Fraudsters on Social Networking Sites."  Basically, the fraudsters hijack accounts in order to spread malicious software  via various techniques:

  • Use of spam to promote phishing sites, claiming a violation of terms of agreement or some other issue that needs to be resolved
  • Asking you to download an application or view a video
  • Some spam appears to come from a friend's e-mail, thereby giving the appearance of legitimacy
  • Some involve applications advertised on social networking sites, again giving the appearance of legitimacy.  

Mommy's fraudster

INFECTION!

Once the victim responds to the phishing site, downloads the application, clicks the video or link, their computer, telephone or other digital device becomes infected. Others install malicious code or rogue anti-virus software.  Yet others give the fraudsters access to your profile and personal information and begin sending messages to your "friends" list instructing them to install the new application, too!!!


PROTECT YOURSELF! TIPS ON AVOIDING THESE TACTICS

The IC3 has graciously provided the following tips to avoid these tactics:

  • Adjust Web site privacy settings to help protect your identity
  • Computer thiefBe selective of your friends because your "friends" can access any info marked as "viewable by all friends"
  • Provide only limited access to your profile to those with whom you don't feel comfortable sharing personal information
  • Disable options and then open them one by one such as texting, photos sharing, etc.  If you're using the site only to keep in touch with people, it may be better to turn off the extra options that won't be used
  • Be careful what you click on.  Posting a link or video to someone's wall doesn't insure that it's safe
  • Familiarize yourself with the site's policies and procedures.  Check their FAQ's.

If you experience a fraudster type incident, report it to www.IC3.gov


If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident, please contact me immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

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