We Must Get Used to the Image of Nursing Homes: They’re our future

By on 5-17-2015 in Personal Injury, The Workplace

When you hear the word “nursing home,” what image immediately comes to mind? For me, I imagine the nursing home in Cloud Atlas from which the character Timothy Cavendish must escape. In the book, Timothy Cavendish is tricked into signing himself into a nursing home called Aurora House from which he cannot leave. The title of the chapter, The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, says it all.    

While most nursing homes are not so horrible, the story does serve as a reminder that you do not want to end up in a situation, not of your own making. The elderly often are sent to a nursing home after they are unable to take care of themselves, and many spend their final days in a nursing home because they were unable to afford long-term home care. It’s never too early to start thinking about where you will end up as you get older. Peck Ritchey, LLC, suggests discussing nursing home concerns while estate planning so those family members are not struggling to pay for nursing home expenses.

One way to pay for a nursing home is through Medicaid, a federal-funded and state-run joint program to assist both low-income families and individuals with long-term medical and custodial care costs. Before you can qualify for Medicaid, you may have to “spend down” your assets, according to lawyer Bonnie Kraham. Kraham explains that you cannot make gifts to children or other people in the five years before applying for Medicaid without a “penalty period.” This penalty period means you would have to pay for your long-term care out-of-pocket for a specific amount of time-based on the size of the gift.

Kraham lists a number of ways to legally spend down your assets so that you can apply for Medicaid, including paying off a mortgage or home equity loan, a car loan, credit card bills, medical bills and any taxes you owe and making repairs and renovations to your house. It takes some time and planning to spend down your assets without paying the penalty fee.

While the law does protect the spouse of the person who needs a nursing home, the spouse who first needs the nursing home or an unmarried person needs to plan ahead. Kraham suggests having long-term care insurance to cover long-term care costs. If you do not have or cannot afford long-term care insurance, Kraham advises creating a Medicaid asset protection trust (MAPT), which protects assets from nursing-home costs.

According to the Ettinger Law Firm, MAPT is known as an “income only” trust, meaning that the MAPT “names someone other than you or your spouse as trustee and limits you to the income.” MAPT has a five-year look-back period, meaning all the assets in the trust are protected if you need nursing home care after five years. If you need care before five years, you will only pay the remaining time. For example, if you need nursing home care after three years, then you would only have to pay for two years that are left.

Indecent Exposure Defense

By on 5-17-2015 in Personal Injury, The Workplace

Sex crimes are often the most controversial ones, but not all of them are in the level of rape and sexual assault. There are other sex crimes that are not as heinous and therefore often overlooked, such as indecent exposure.

According to the website of Horst Law, indecent exposure is the intentional exposure of a person’s genitalia or butt to another person or exposing unwilling bystanders to any manner of sexual contact occurring between two or more participants. There are possible factors that may influence defense to indecent exposure charges, such as the following.

Intention

One of the main ideas behind indecent exposure is that it is intentional. If the exposure is accidental, and there is no evidence that may prove intent, it can be argued that the act is already beyond the official definition of indecent exposure.

For example, if you are engaging in sexual behavior in a parked car and you have been accidentally seen by a bystander, you can say that the exposure is not intentional even if you are in a public space, because you are clearly inside a vehicle where the view can be blocked.

Place

Another core idea behind indecent exposure is that is has been done in a public place – in other words, a place where an unwilling bystander may witness the exposure. A possible defense against indecent exposure is questioning the place, whether it is truly a public space or a private space.

If it is actually a private place, like when you are at home and you have accidentally exposed your genitalia through a window, you may have a viable defense.

Identification

If the indecent exposure is merely an accusation by a witness, it may be much easier to defend yourself using proper identification as a factor. Are you truly the person the witness has seen to indecently expose himself? Is this person in a proper physical and mental condition to be a viable witness?

Mental Condition

Your mental condition can also be a factor that can influence the viability of an indecent exposure charge against you. If you are mentally impaired during the act, either permanently or temporarily, and therefore have no means to know what you are doing or judge whether what you are doing is right or wrong, you may have a viable defense.

Dog Biting Incidents

By on 5-17-2015 in Personal Injury, The Workplace

Dog Biting Incidents

Animal attacks should not be common, because we do not live in the wild where we can be vulnerable to them. But animal attacks become more common because of pets, and this is particularly true for dogs.

According to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, those who have been injured because of a dog biting incident have legal options. Dog biting incidents can be personal injury or premises liability claims. Personal injury because you might have been hurt because of the negligence of the dog owner. Premises liability because you might have been hurt because of the negligence of a property owner with an attacking dog.

But why do dogs attack? There are three general reasons:

  • A medical condition makes the dog not in the mood to interact
  • Someone is trying to acquire its possessions, such as its food and puppies
  • Something makes it feel threatened, like someone accidentally stepping on its tail

These three reasons have one thing in common – they are responses to stimuli. Therefore, it can be argued that the absence of these stimuli may prevent dog biting incidents. Of course, dog and property owners, as well as visitors, should all make the effort of ensuring that dog biting incidents will not occur. This can be done in various ways.

For dog and property owners, the core idea they need to enforce is to make the dog inaccessible. They can tether it in a strategic place so it doesn’t attack visitors and passersby. They can tether it in an immovable object that is away from walkways.

For visitors and passersby, the core idea is to not engage in stimulus that can make dogs respond in a violent way. Do not try to get its possessions or act like you are a threat. As much as possible, stay away from the dog, especially if this dog has the following signs:

  • Growling
  • Looking away
  • Raising its fur
  • Showing the white of its eyes
  • Stiffening of its body

Preventing dog biting incidents also means that you are avoiding legal and medical issues, which can cost a lot of time and money.

Possible Additional Punishments Awaiting Those Who would be Charged with Felony DUI

By on 5-17-2015 in Personal Injury, The Workplace

Drunk-driving or alcohol-impaired driving is the cause of at least 10,000 fatal car crashes in the U.S. (total yearly fatal crashes number to more than 32,000). Records from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics show 1.4 million individuals arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or both.

In all U.S. states, driving with a 0.08% (or higher) blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is a crime. A first offense DUI is usually treated as only a misdemeanor; it is considered a more serious offense if the alcohol-impaired driver injures or kills someone, or if his/her BAC level is higher than the 0.08% limit.

Many federal and state authorities are determined and overzealous in catching violators of the anti-drunk driving law, thus, they are sharp and focused on observing any signs of drunk-driving, such as braking erratically, driving too slowly, swerving, stopping for no apparent reason or zig-zagging across the road. For the same end, they set up sobriety checkpoints to check on alcohol-impaired drivers, as well as measure their BAC level.

A DUI felony is punished with costly fines and at least one year jail time. In some states, a felony leads to other heavy sentences, such as:

  • Mandatory installation of an Ignition interlock, which is a device that will prevent a vehicle from starting if it detects in the driver a BAC level that is higher than what is considered a safe level (about 0.02%);
  • Administrative license suspension (ALS), a law that gives law enforcers the authority to confiscate a driver’s license if the driver fails a chemical test. This can last for 90 days – 180 days, during which driving privileges may be limited to/from work;
  • Open container law. This law, which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), requires states to prohibit the possession of open alcohol beverage containers, as well as the consumption of an alcoholic beverage, in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on public highways.

Understanding how serious a DUI charge is should make a person think twice before sitting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. However, there are just instances when impairment gets the better of a driver. It will require a seasoned Columbia DUI defense attorney if you get charged with a DUI offense, more so if the charge is a felony.

Child Custody: Basic Information on Joint Custody Agreements

By on 5-17-2015 in Personal Injury, The Workplace

Child custody is among the most contested issues that are tackled during divorce proceedings. This is why, in most cases, child custody agreements are often left in the hands of the court. Parents in the middle of a highly emotional and contested divorce might not always be in the best position to make decisions regarding their children. As such, the court steps in and enables a judge to decide on behalf of the parents.

The law is clear in prioritizing the best interest of all children involved in a child custody case. Ideally, the court will decide on a child custody agreement that allows both parent to have equal opportunity in caring for and influencing their children. If the couple’s separate living arrangements will allow it, the court will typically decide on a joint custody agreement that allows the children to live with and spend equal time with both their parents. Should this not be possible, the court might look into a joint legal custody agreement. In this scenario, one parent will be named the children’s primary caregiver or custodial parent, while the other parent will be allowed full legal capacity to take part in their children’s lives.

Of course, any of these two arrangements are awarded by the court following certain factors and considerations. Based on specific considerations, the law can award a joint custody arrangement for divorcing parents. According to Marshall & Taylor, P.C., these considerations typical included the employment and income opportunities of both parents, the stability of both parents’ homes and their proximity to each other, the children’s educational prospects, and if both parents show enthusiasm and willingness over sharing custody.

Overall, even if it could end up in either of these ideal custody arrangements, determining an agreement that both you and your former partner can settle with can be a difficult process. If you need help navigating a child custody dispute, do not hesitate to contact an experienced family law attorney for appropriate counseling.