The Inner Workings of a Law Firm

When Should You Sue Your Neighbor?

You may think suing your neighbor is never a good idea, and usually, it isn’t. After all, living next to someone you have to face in court or over a lawyer’s table can put a real crimp in the neighborhood block party. In the case of most disputes, you should do everything possible to stay out of court, even if it means putting up with that barking dog or occasional garage band practice next door. In some cases, you do need to pursue your legal options in order to protect your property, your family, and your health. Property Boundaries Before you bought your property, you should have had it surveyed to establish the true property lines. If your neighbor begins to build a new garage that extends several feet onto your property, you cannot ignore it. If you allow this usage, it can complicate selling your home later. Your neighbor can argue that you agreed to this accommodation and may be able to use that bit of your land as long as they wish, something called adverse possession. If you stop this construction, your neighbor may be angry, but it’s a small price to pay to prevent land encroachment.  Aggressive Pets Navigating unfriendly pets is a tricky business. Just because your neighbor’s dog doesn’t like you doesn’t mean it isn’t a valued member of their family. However, if your neighbor’s animal bites you or threatens your children, you really can’t ignore it. Although you may not want to sue over one incident, you need to demand that their animals are safely restrained. If a second incident occurs, you need... read more

3 Things To Do When You Have A Claim Dispute With Your Homeowners Insurance Company

When you pay for homeowners insurance, it is natural to believe that you will be financially protected in the event that your home is completely destroyed and needs to be rebuilt, or if you are robbed of your valuable possessions. In most cases, filing a claim through your homeowners insurance should not be overly difficult and you will receive a check for the appropriate amount. Unfortunately, there can be instances where insurance companies do not cooperate with their customers, and you may find that having your claim taken care of has become a nightmare. If you have filed a claim with your homeowners insurance and they are giving you a difficult time, use the following tips: Know Your Rights as a Customer In the U.S. the insurance industry is highly regulated, and insurance companies must abide by state laws. When you’re having a dispute with your homeowners insurance company, it is in your best interest to educate yourself on the insurance laws of your state so you can know what your rights are. These laws can typically be found on a state’s official website, or you can call your state’s department of insurance to learn more information. Contact your Insurance Agent If you purchased your homeowners insurance through an agent, he or she can be a valuable resource when you have a dispute with the insurance company. Insurance agents typically understand how the insurance company handles claims, and they can work on your behalf to help you get the dispute settled. When you contact your insurance agent, make sure you have your policy number available, and be prepared to... read more

3 Tips To Help You Win Your SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) Claim

Fighting for disability benefits isn’t always easy. The process is time-consuming and requires gathering and presenting medical evidence in such a way that clearly shows the claims examiner why you need disability payments. While certain steps you take – or don’t take – can keep you from getting disability benefits, there are things you can do to improve your chances of winning your disability case. Tip #1: Hire an attorney. A disability attorney can help you navigate a complex and often confusing SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) claims process. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) rules for filing a disability claim are strict and require that you fill out lots of paperwork and meet filing deadlines. Submitting an incomplete form or even making a simple mistake on a form can be enough for SSA to deny your disability claim. But a Social Security disability attorney knows how to prepare and file the necessary forms and supporting documentation as well as follow the required laws and regulations. If you’re worried about not having the money to pay an attorney, usually, an SSDI attorney only gets paid if he or she succeeds in getting you disability benefits. Since Social Security disability law regulates how much an attorney can charge you for services, the fee may not be for more than 25 percent of the disability back pay benefits you receive. If you win your case and are entitled to back benefits, the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly. Tip #2: Avoid relying 100 percent on your doctor’s opinion. While your doctor’s opinion can weigh heavily on SSA’s decision whether to give... read more

Things To Consider Before Hiring A Divorce Lawyer

Getting divorced involves have to make some overwhelming life changes that are stressful for the entire family. Getting some support from a divorce lawyer should help make the overall process a little easier, but before hiring an attorney to work with it’s a good idea to make a few considerations to help you determine exactly which potential representative will meet all of your needs before, during, and after the divorce. Following are a few essential considerations to focus on:   Mediation Services If the relationship with your spouse is still decent, you might find that divorce mediation is the best way to hammer out agreements on things including custody of the kids, living arrangements, and financial responsibilities. Participating in mediation tends to be more cost effective and less stressful than litigation. It also tends to have a positive impact on home life and children who are involved in the divorce. Look for an attorney who is willing to work with you and a mediator throughout your divorce – you may even find that by working with a divorce mediator, you don’t need an attorney to finalize your divorce at all. Resource Access You will likely find that most of the attorneys and mediators you talk to have access to a variety of different resources you can use to gain some relief from the stress of your divorce, but those resources will vary depending on the representative in question. For instance, some lawyers maintain relationships with family psychologists and can get you a nice discount on their services. Some mediators you speak with may be able to hook you up... read more

Can I Sue Over A Gym Injury After Signing A Waiver?

Injuries are unfortunately not uncommon at gyms. With physical activity, there is always a risk of an injury. This, coupled with the inherent risk of heavy weights, can lead to some gym members wondering if they can sue over an injury sustained at the gym. This is only possible if a staff member, owner or operator was negligent. The Waiver Form It is common for gyms to require that their members sign a waiver before joining. You may not have even realized that you signed a waiver, since it is uncommon for gym staff to draw attention to these waiver forms and will likely request that you sign several other documents alongside the gym waiver. Using The Waiver To Determine Whether The Gym Is Liable The waiver can provide you with clues regarding whether you are able to sue the gym. Consider the type of injury you sustained and determine whether the gym is shielded from liability for that type of injury under the waiver. If the waiver is considered to be too broad, the judge might not consider it to be valid. However, many waivers will set aside specific responsibilities that the gym is expected to fulfill. If any of these responsibilities are not met, the gym can be held liable for your injury. Your Gym’s Duty-Of-Care As with all businesses, gyms have a duty-of-care that requires that they provide a safe space. For example, if you are required to climb upstairs to reach the upper and lower levels of the gym, if the stairs become unsafe, it is the responsibility of the gym owners to have the... read more

Timing Matters: Bankruptcy Or Divorce First?

If you know that both bankruptcy and divorce are certain events in your future, you should carefully consider the order that these two major legal issues will proceed. To help you make a good decision, read below to ensure that you avoid more complications by filing in the correct order for your particular situation. Type of Bankruptcy: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Since chapter 13 involves a reorganization of your debts that can take two to five years, you may want to go ahead and get your divorce out of the way and file on your own if using this form of bankruptcy. Not only is time a factor here, but the division of assets and debts will likely be very different after your divorce. By comparison, a chapter 7 bankruptcy can usually be completed in a few months. These two types of bankruptcy are the most common, each with their points. Filing Chapter 7 Before Divorce 1. Some of the most contentious issues when divorcing are the division of debts and assets. Filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy before you head to divorce court could lesson the acrimony that surround these issues, thus potentially saving both parties both time and money spent haggling in court. It should be noted that chapter 7 will wipe out nearly all debt, with the exceptions of taxes and student loans. 2. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows couples in some states to double their exemptions, which is a dollar amount applied and deducted from assets like real estate, personal property and vehicles. You must surrender assets valued at over a certain dollar amount to the... read more

How Your Car Accident Claim Worth Is Determined

When you have been involved in a car accident in which you were not at fault, you are probably going to want to sue the opposite party in order to receive compensation for financial damages that have occurred. Determining what your claim is worth, however, can be difficult, especially if you have no experience. This is why it’s important to have an auto accident lawyer by your side who can help ensure that you receive a settlement that is fair compared to what your claim is worth. Here’s how your lawyer will determine what your claim is worth: ​Car Repairs: First off, your car is going to be evaluated to determine how much repairs are going to cost you. The opposite party’s insurance company will provide compensation for these costs, and you will typically be reimbursed for whatever you end up having to pay for out of pocket.  Medical Bills: If you have been injured in the accident, you will want to save all medical bills, including bills from physical therapy if this is something you had to do. This will all be included in determining how much your claim is worth.  Lost Income: If you have been injured in the car accident, you will be compensated for lost income after having to spend however many days necessary in the hospital’s care and recovering at home.  Pain and Suffering: If you have suffered from anxiety or post-traumatic stress because of the car accident and needed to be treated for it, this will also be included in determining your claim amount.  Loss of Normal Life: If you were injured permanently in any way and that... read more

3 Things You Need To Know To Prepare For Court

Family law is extremely confusing and complex. While not something you can usually plan for, unfortunately, divorces happen often. Marriages go awry and couples can end up at each other’s throats fighting for custody of the children, the house, and everything else along the way. If you are dealing with a heated battle with your ex, there are a few things you can do to make sure your case goes smoothly. Watch how you act in court. You have every right to be upset and frustrated with the other person. However, that doesn’t mean you should fly off the handle in court. Being rude and disrespectful could find you in contempt of court. Listen to what the judge has to say. Answer their questions to the best of your ability. You don’t want to make the judge upset with you. Doing so will not bode well for your case. It could also hurt you later on down the line if you ever have to go in front of that judge again. Remain calm and watch what you say to the judge and about the other person. Get to the courthouse early. One of the worst things you can do is to show up late to court. Making the judge wait on you could end up having your case dismissed and make you reschedule and start over. When leaving for court, make sure you allow yourself enough time to navigate through traffic, getting lost, parking and your nerves. Try to be in the courtroom and sitting down at least 10-15 minutes before your scheduled time. It shows that you care... read more

Resolving Unpaid Tax Balances With An IRS Installment Agreement

If an outstanding income tax balance remains unpaid for long enough, it becomes subject to IRS collection activities. At some point in the process, an individual who owes the IRS could experience some type of enforcement action. For individuals unable to pay their tax balance in full, the IRS offers an installment payment arrangement. The prospect of receiving a wage garnishment or a bank levy provides strong incentive for an individual to make arrangements to settle a tax balance. Once you apply for an installment agreement, the IRS generally refrains from taking further enforcement actions. The steps required to request an installment agreement depend on how soon you can pay and the amount of your unpaid tax balance. Payment within 120 days The most straightforward payment arrangement is available if you can pay in full within 120 days. You may apply for this short-term agreement if you owe less than $100,000. There is no fee to set up a short-term agreement, but interest and late penalties are typically added to the balance. For tax balances requiring more than 120 days to pay, longer terms may be approved if your balance is within specified thresholds. Balance of $50,000 or less If you owe $50,000 or less in total, the IRS provides an online application process to request an installment agreement. The maximum length of the installment agreement is 72 months. It is crucial to understand the compliance requirements of an installment agreement. To gain approval of an installment agreement application, you must be current on all other federal income taxes. If approval is received, you must remain current on subsequent... read more

Filing An Income Tax Return After Becoming A Permanent Resident

Immigrants to the U.S. may have a physical presence in the country before becoming a lawful permanent resident. For the calendar year in which permanent residency status is obtained, the income tax return for a new immigrant reports income differently for the periods before and after becoming a permanent resident. For income tax purposes, a permanent resident with a green card is taxed in a manner somewhat similar to that of a U.S. citizen. Beginning on the first day of permanent residency, all worldwide income becomes taxable. In contrast, a non-permanent resident alien without a green card is taxed only on U.S. sources of income. Form 1040NR and Form 1040 A non-permanent resident alien normally files IRS Form 1040NR to report U.S. sources of income. If you have a presence in the U.S. before becoming a permanent resident, your tax status in the year of transition is referred to as that of a dual-status resident. For that year, you may file a regular Form 1040 to report your taxable income for the entire portion of the year in which you resided in the U.S. As a dual-status resident, your filed Form 1040 may include a Form 1040NR attached as a supporting schedule. Any tax due on Form 1040NR is entered on a designated line on Form 1040. The remainder of Form 1040 is completed for your period of permanent residency. To mark the status of the return, IRS instructions advise to write “Dual Status Resident” across the top of the form. Tax deductions Different tax deductions are allowable during permanent residency than for a period of non-permanent residency. You... read more

About Me

We all know that lawyers are professionals who help people interpret and work with the law, but do you know how a law firm works from the inside out? I am a professional paralegal, and I have worked in both large and small law firms during my career. I can tell you that a successful law firm needs more than just lawyers to keep it running smoothly, and sometimes things can get really crazy! Take a tour through a law firm in my blog, and find out what really goes on behind the scenes of an active and successful law firm.