Thursday, August 26, 2021

Do You Know Your Work Comp Rights?

     We all learned in middle school that each United States citizen has rights, and that you cannot be deprived of these rights. While I am sure that you all know the often repeated, “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law,” did you know that under Workers’ Compensation you have a specialized set of rights as well?

            According to Florida Statutes §440.09 “The employer must pay compensation or furnish benefits if the employee suffers an accidental compensable injury or death arising out of work performed in the course and the scope of employment.”

            It is important to first note that laws in Work Comp can vary greatly from state to state. So, what may be a law in Florida may not be the same in Arizona. However, there are several general rights that are pretty common across the country.  

·         You have the right to file a claim for your work-related injury in court.

·         You have the right to be represented by a lawyer.

·         If your injury has led to a temporary or permanent leave of absence from your job then you have the right to some type of disability compensation.

·         You have the right to pursue medical treatment to deal with your work-related injury.

There are several instances to be aware of where the actions of your employer are violating your Workers’ Comp rights. For example, if you are injured on the job, you should report within 24 hours of the incident, and in Florida must report within 30 days.  Your employer then should provide you with claim forms and information regarding your rights. If they fail to do so, then one of your basic work comp rights has been violated.

The law requires that employers post a notice that details information regarding employee rights, provides information about available work comp benefits, and detail information that tells employees that they have the right to receive medical treatment. This notice cannot be hidden, but must be in a common area where all workers are expected to be frequently, such as the break room. If your employer posts it in a place where it is concealed or only seen by a small portion of employees, then they have violated your right to know your legal rights.

Finally, your boss CANNOT offer you a type of incentive, whether it be benefits or money, to convince you to not file a Workers’ Comp claim. Not only do you have the right to say “no,” but this action is illegal.

It is important to know that you have rights and that you are not alone when you become injured or ill on the job. If you are concerned that you have been deprived of your rights you should seek the advice of an attorney. You deserve opportunity to have your side of the story heard, and to seek recovery for any injuries you have sustained while working.

***This blog is meant to be informative in nature and does not serve as any form of legal advice. If you feel that your rights have been violated or you wish to speak with an attorney about your claim, please fill out our contact information below.***


Thursday, August 19, 2021

What is Collaborative Family Law and Why is it Important?

    Family law is an incredibly diverse field. Within it, there are practice areas such as adoption, divorce, domestic violence, guardianship, and paternity. More recently, a subset of family law has emerged that is allowing this practice area to revolutionize and focus on the wants and needs of the families by allowing them to advocate for and choose what is best for their situation. 

I’ve previously written that Marcie trained in collaborative family law in 2019 and has incorporated it into her family law practice ever since. This is an area that she is extremely passionate about as it allows her clients to have more of a say in the decision-making process. Having never heard of collaborative family law prior to clerking for Marcie I was, and continue to be, very interested in how it works, how it benefits clients, and why it should be more widely promoted across the field of family law.

What does collaborative family law mean? This subset of family law gives couples the ability to resolve their marital issues with less conflict and more communication, finding beneficial results for both themselves and any children that they may have. According to the Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida, the couple’s goals and interests are explored so that they can find options that allow them to achieve these goals. Doing this allows couples to make informed decisions between themselves, versus placing it in the hands of a judge. The clients voluntarily handle all issues out of court and doing this gives couples an opportunity to identify what matters most to them and find solutions that work for all parties.

There are several benefits to choosing the collaborative family law path:

-Efficiency. Since collaborative family law is handled out of court, there is more flexibility for each party’s schedule, and it is usually completed much quicker than a court proceeding.

-Informality. Court proceedings can be very stressful and even more so when dealing with a situation like a divorce. Collaborative family law is lower stress due to the informal setting of being in a law office versus a courtroom. In addition, the entire process is voluntary, so you are never in a position that you have to agree to something that doesn’t feel right to you.

-Control. Collaborative family law puts each party in the “driver’s seat”. In this option, the parties have a great deal of control over the outcome of each collaborative session. In a litigation setting, these same issues are decided by a judge or neutral party.

While all of these benefits are certain reasons you should consider whether collaborative family law would be a good fit for your case, it is also important to take note of the fact that there are a few potential disadvantages to collaborative family law.

For example, both sides need to be on good terms. Collaborative family law is not for parties who have gone through a messy end to their relationship. While there is the benefit of not being in a court proceeding, the collaboration aspect of collaborative law will be hard to come by if one or both sides have animosity towards the other. 

Going hand in hand with being on good terms, both spouses must be able to fully trust that the other will be honest during these proceedings. In order for collaborative family law to work, both sides need to be open and honest about any financial and other issues involved in the case. Without this trust and honesty, you may never reach a compromise and the process could turn into one that is both lengthy and frustrating.

Collaborative family law certainly is not for everyone and as Marcie has said many times, “each case is unique.” That’s not to say that it will not be the right fit for you, but choosing collaborative family law requires communication, compromise, and an understanding of how this alternative will impact your case overall. It is definitely not a “one size fits all” approach, and you should discuss with your spouse and attorney if this alternative is best for your case.

***The opinions and thoughts presented in this blog are only meant to be informative in nature and do not constitute any form of legal advice. Should you have any questions or wish to learn more about collaborative family law, please contact us to schedule a free consultation using our contact form below.***


Thursday, August 12, 2021

How Social Media Can Ruin Your Court Case

You’ve heard of the phrase, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” The same can be said of social media. Anything you tweet, hashtag, share, or post can and will be used against you. Most content on social media is admissible as evidence at trial. That is why it is important to be aware of the ramifications of sending that tweet or sharing that Facebook post.

We live in a highly technological society. With a swipe, scroll, or click, we have instant insight into the lives of those we know, as well as celebrities and political figures. Some people prefer Twitter, where 140 character tweets can go viral in a matter of minutes. Others prefer Facebook, where posts are lengthier, can include multiple pictures and links, and is often associated with older generations. Still others prefer Snapchat or Instagram, where pictures can be posted about everyday life events, and in Snapchat specifically, are only temporary and disappear instantly or within 24 hours.

            Whatever your preferred method of social media is, we can all agree that it has taken over life as we know it. While these apps allow us to connect with friends, family, and colleagues all over the country and even the world, their impact is not always a positive one.

            This is especially so when you find yourself in the middle of litigation, with a pending or ongoing court case, and everything you have ever put on social media is suddenly under intense scrutiny. This is why it is extremely important to be aware of everything you post on social media during this time and recognizing that for the time being, less is more.

            You may be thinking, “Well what’s the worst that can happen to me if I do post whatever I want during my case?” Here are just a few examples of how that behavior can impact you now and down the road:

-          If your case deals with Family Law and custody, opposing counsel can use your posts about partying and excessive spending to show that you are not financially stable or responsible and should not be allowed custody privileges with your children.

-          If your case deals with Personal Injury and you post about doing something active like roller skating, rock climbing, or heavy lifting when you’re supposed to be injured, opposing counsel can use this to show why they should not have to compensate you for your injury.

-          If you’re involved in a criminal case and make attacking posts about victims, judges, or opposing counsel, this can be used to undermine your credibility and damage any defenses you have for your case.

Now that you have an idea of just how your social media presence can impact your case, here are some helpful tips if you find yourself posting frequently on social media:

1.) Never EVER post anything when you’re angry or frustrated. In the heat of the moment you may say things that you do not mean, or something that will hurt your case down the road. Think twice before clicking “post.”

2.) Seriously consider deleting or suspending all of your social media accounts once you are notified that you are part of a pending legal claim. However, you should not delete these accounts without checking with your attorney before doing so. There are specific evidence rules dealing with the destruction of evidence, which is essentially what deleting your account comes down to. However, if you feel that you need to keep the accounts active, increase the privacy settings and POST NOTHING.

3.) Reach out to family and friends and ask that they do not post or share anything related to your legal claim. Posts related to your case posted by others can also be used against you as evidence.

4.) Discuss with your attorney before going through all of your social media. Deleted materials are still discoverable, and the court may not look favorably on the fact that you tried to clean up your social media and may conclude that you have something to hide.

5.) Try googling yourself and if negative information from social media pops up, discuss with your attorney the appropriate steps to take. Again, do not delete this information before consulting your attorney and do not post anything regarding past negative posts.

You may think all of these tips are excessive, aren’t that important and don’t apply to you, or that your social media presence will not impact your case. However, as recently as April of this year, the Supreme Court of the United States addressed a First Amendment case that dealt with posting on Snapchat. So, if social media is important enough for the highest court in United States to recognize, you need to take it seriously as well.

Above all else remember the age old quote, “if you wouldn’t say it to your grandma’s face then it isn’t appropriate for social media.”

Happy Posting!

***The information contained in this blog post is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions regarding your social media and a claim you may have, please contact an attorney or fill out our contact information below to schedule a free consultation with Marcie.***


Thursday, August 5, 2021

What is the Difference between a Small Law Firm and a Big Law Firm?


During my short time in the legal world I have had the privilege of working at three different law firms. Two of them were small, one to two attorneys, and the third was quite large, having thirty attorneys, five legal assistants, four paralegals, and three records clerks. Each firm taught me new skills and important lessons, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have been exposed to such different areas of law as well as being able to witness the different practice styles of the attorneys that I worked for.

            So, what is the difference between small law firms and big law firms? Is one better than the other? The answer, a particular favorite of law professors and attorneys alike is, “It depends”. Finding a law firm is all about doing what is best for YOU. I definitely recommend doing research on attorneys in the practice area that you are seeking help in, but don’t be so quick to count them out if the size of their firm is not one that you envisioned hiring an attorney from.

            Here are some things to consider when choosing between a small and big law firm:

            -The personal connection you are looking for: More often than not, large law firms have partners, assistants, paralegals, and a variety of "worker bees" that keep the firm functioning. As a result, you may deal with the paralegal or legal assistant on your cases versus the actual attorney for a majority of the time. This is not necessarily negative, but if you are hoping to meet, converse, and work with the actual attorney on your file, a small firm may be a better fit. This is not to say that a paralegal wouldn't meet with you at a small firm as well, but you do have a better chance of working one-on-one with the attorney handling your file. It is about deciding what type of connection you feel would be most beneficial for the case that you have.

            -Where you live: If you live in a big city like Tampa, you have access to a variety of attorneys who work at both small and big law firms. However, if you live in Zephyrhills, Dade City, or Wesley Chapel, you will more often be dealing with small law firms who specialize in specific areas. Neither option is bad, but your location is important to consider as well as if you decide to travel to access a larger law firm.

            -The type of case that you have: As I have said before, many attorneys and firms specialize in specific practice areas. For this reason, a smaller law firm can be beneficial because the entire practice can be dedicated to the type of case that you have. Larger firms usually cover many practice areas and can be just as effective/helpful. Again, it is a matter of you deciding how involved you want the entire firm to be in your case and what you are most comfortable with.

            -Other client reviews: It is always helpful to read reviews and testimonials of the law firms that you are considering. It allows you to gain an understanding of how clients felt when working with the firm, and can help you make a decision about what firm is best for you. Don’t be afraid to look at reviews, you would check them before making a purchase on Amazon, so it makes just as much sense to do it for your law firm as well.

            -The first impression you get from the firm: You deserve respect and dignity. You may assume that you are just another case to a big law firm, but this can also happen with small firms. Pay attention to first impressions and go with the firm that makes you feel heard and understood. You want an honest attorney who is going to advocate to the best of their ability to help you case succeed.

Ultimately, the decision about the law firm that you choose is yours alone to make. While both are different, ultimately the attorneys are practicing there to help clients and make a difference, no matter the size of the firm that they are working for. It is helpful to consult attorneys or reviews for advice and insight, but more importantly it is about finding a firm that is best suited to your needs.

Small and big law firms have been serving clients for many years and while some may say one is better than the other, you may be surprised to find out that the type of firm that you prefer is not the size you anticipated. Don’t be afraid to give either a chance and you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

***The information contained in this blog post is meant to be informational and is not intended to persuade or convince anyone to choose a specific type of law firm. Always do what is in the best interest for the claim that you have and should you have any questions please fill out our contact form below.***


Time to Say Goodbye

Happy Thursday, all! Enjoy this upcoming long weekend and the unofficial start to summer! Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and to...