Thursday, January 27, 2022

Getting to Know Bankruptcy Terminology

        A few weeks ago, I wrote a post dedicated to Workers’ Compensation terminology to help clarify any confusion you may have. Today, I want to do a similar post dedicated to one of Marcie Baker’s other practice areas: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

        I have included many of the terms I think will be of importance to you and your case, but should you want to see these and more check out the linked sources below!

Automatic Stay: An injunction that automatically stops lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments, and all collection activity against the debtor the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed.

Chapter 7: The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code provides for "liquidation," i.e., the sale of a debtor's nonexempt property and the distribution of the proceeds to creditors.

Equity: The value of a debtor's interest in property that remains after liens and other creditors' interests are considered. (Example: If a house valued at $60,000 is subject to a $30,000 mortgage, there is $30,000 of equity.)

Chapter 7 Trustee: A person appointed in a chapter 7 case to represent the interests of the bankruptcy estate and the unsecured creditors. The trustee's responsibilities include reviewing the debtor's petition and schedules, liquidating the property of the estate, and making distributions to creditors. The trustee may also bring actions against creditors or the debtor to recover property of the bankruptcy estate.

Non-dischargeable Debt: A debt that cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy.

Fresh Start: The characterization of a debtor's status after bankruptcy, i.e., free of most debts. Giving debtors a fresh start is one purpose of the Bankruptcy Code.

Exempt Property: the property you do not have to forfeit when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The Means Test: To be eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass the means-test. It requires borrowers to earn below a specified income. The income is based on the median income of similar household sizes. The median income is determined by the U.S. Census and is updated frequently.

Statement of Financial Affairs: A series of questions the debtor must answer in writing concerning sources of income, transfers of property, lawsuits by creditors, etc. There is an official form a debtor must use.

Reaffirmation Agreement: An agreement by a chapter 7 debtor to continue paying a dischargeable debt after the bankruptcy, usually for the purpose of keeping collateral or mortgaged property that would otherwise be subject to repossession.

Creditor: A person to whom or business to which the debtor owes money or that claims to be owed money by the debtor.

        I hope that these definitions help you as you navigate your Bankruptcy claim. Should you require further clarification or would like to consult about a potential Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing, please do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule your free consultation.

***This blog is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions regarding Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Bankruptcy in general, please fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation.


Thursday, January 20, 2022

What are Depositions?

    Whether you are dealing with a Work Comp. claim or a Family Law dispute, there are many ways to go about obtaining evidence to further your case. One often-used method is something called a deposition. Today I want to delve deeper into what a deposition is so that you can understand what this means for your claim/case.

    According to the Legal Information Institute, a deposition is “a witness’s sworn out-of-court testimony used to gather information as part of the discovery process.” While the premise of all depositions is relatively similar, I am going to break down the differences when it comes to a Work Comp. deposition vs. a Family Law deposition.

Work Comp.

    A workers’ comp. deposition is one of the first opportunities for the injured worker to make an impression on the insurance company. In a Florida Work Comp. deposition there may be several people present in the room. Generally, this consists of the injured worker, their attorney, the defense attorney, and a court reporter to make an official record of the proceedings. Of course, in today's world the depositions may take place over Zoom so that everyone is in a digital meeting room!

    There are a number of questions that you may be asked during your Work Comp. deposition. Here are just a few examples:

- Medical history (can include general health questions)

- Any prior Work Comp. injuries

- Job title and description of job

- How the injury occurred

- When the injury was reported and to whom

- Treatment, if any, that was received prior to the deposition and what your work status has been determined to be as of that time.

    It is always best to discuss any confusion or concerns with your attorney regarding depositions. Additionally, it is important to give full and accurate information during the course of your deposition.

Family Law

    Much like Workers’ Comp., a deposition in Family Law is a critically important tool in gathering evidence about your dispute.

    While depositions are an important tool, they can also be incredibly expensive, and this is something to keep in mind as your case continues to move forward. In order to conduct a deposition in Florida, the other party must be given notice of the deposition’s time, location, and names of the person/persons to be deposed.

    Some questions that you may be asked are:

- How long you have been married

- If there are any children and their ages

- Your current and past employment history

- Your educational history

- Where you live and the type of residence that you have

- Other background information like birthday and various personal history

    Again, it is best to iron out any issues or concerns that you may have with your attorney. Here too, it is important to be truthful and make sure you fully understand what is going on during the process.

    I hope that you have found this explanation of depositions as well as their meanings in the Family Law and Work Comp. context helpful. Depositions can be a great tool to learn more about a case and should not be something for you to worry about. Should you have any other questions or need further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact our office so that we can assist you to the best of our ability!

***The thoughts, facts, and explanations contained in this blog are meant to serve as informational only. They in no way constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions about your claim, please fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Deciphering Workers’ Comp. Terminology

Becoming injured on the job can be very stressful. Having to file a Workers’ Comp. claim can be confusing, complicated, and leave you searching for answers. Today I have decided to take some time to define terms and phrases that may come up during your case so that you can be better prepared throughout the course of your claim.

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI): A medical report written by a treating physician that describes the injured worker’s medical condition when it has stabilized.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): Payments to a worker who can still work, but whose ability to compete in the open labor market is reduced on a permanent basis after reaching MMI.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): Payments to a worker who can do some work while recovering but who earns less than 80% of their average weekly wage during the 91 days before the injury.

Arising Out of Employment (AOE): caused by a worker’s job and occurring while working. An injury or illness must be AOE to be covered by workers’ compensation.

Independent Medical Evaluator (IME): A physician selected to determine the cause of the medical condition, the permanent impairment of the injury, and/or the permanent limitations, if any, that the worker has sustained.

Primary Treating Physician (PTP): The doctor who is responsible for managing the overall care of the injured worker and who writes medical reports that affect the worker’s benefits.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR): Once a physician determines that an injured worker is medically eligible and unable to return to his or her previous type of work, the employer or injured worker may choose to select a rehabilitation counselor to help determine whether vocational rehabilitation is feasible, and if appropriate, develop a suitable rehabilitation plan.

Work Restrictions: A doctor’s description of clear and specific limits on an injured worker’s job tasks, usually designed to protect the worker from further injury.

Specific Injury: An injury that was caused by one event at work. Examples: hurting your back in a fall, getting burned by a chemical that splashes on your skin, getting hurt in a car accident while making deliveries.

I hope today’s post has given you a better understanding of the legal world of Workers’ Comp. Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to reach out to our office!

**This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions regarding a Workers’ Compensation case you have, please fill out our contact sheet to schedule a free consultation with Marcie Baker.


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Parenting Plans: How They Impact Schedules, Vacations, and Holidays

            Minor children create an entire new layer of requirements to understand and follow when it comes to getting a divorce in Florida. Florida law requires that parenting plans are filed with a dissolution of marriage if there are minor children involved.

            Contrary to popular belief, custody law in Florida does not give a preference to mothers or fathers, but instead takes the specific facts and circumstances of each case into account when deciding issues regarding parenting plans.

            There are many types of parenting plan schedules in Florida. For example:

-          Weekly Exchange. This is pretty straightforward. The child/children will be with mom for a week, and then dad for a week. This works best when work schedules are similar for both parents.

-          2-3-2. This is also a weekly schedule but with a different setup. For example, one week dad will have the child/children for 2 days, then mom for 3 days, then back to dad for 2. The following week it will be flipped so that the child/children are with mom for 2 days, dad for three days, and back to mom for two days.

-          Two Weeks. This is similar to the weekly exchange. However, this arrangement allows the child/children more time in each home and works better for busier schedules for both parents and children who may be involved in extracurriculars.

-          **There are others as well, but as I have said before, the specific circumstances of your case will determine just how the time is split while also taking the child’s best interests into account.

            With time-sharing also comes the issue of holidays, vacations, and breaks and how these will affect the child and be split by each parent. The most important thing when it comes to this part of the parenting plan is compromise.

            Here are some tips when it comes to deciding how to split time for holidays, summer break, and any planned vacation time:

-          Be specific. Be clear when holiday visits begin and end. For example, if time is split over Christmas Eve and Christmas day, specify things like, “time with mom starts at 3pm Christmas Eve and ends 9am Christmas Day.”

-          Make a transportation plan. Clarify which parent is dropping off/picking up as well as agreeing on a drop-off/pick-up location. This could be at either parent’s house, a public location in the middle, or an agreed-upon location detailed in the plan.

-          Plan vacation and break time for the whole year. This way there are fixed dates detailed in the plan that are agreed-upon by both parties. It also gives the children more of a schedule and ability to know when and with whom they are spending vacation and holiday time.

-          Work together when possible. For example, if there was a previous family tradition of big birthday parties, try and keep that as similar as possible for your child, especially if you and your spouse have a working relationship.

            Ultimately, the schedule that works best for one family may not be the one that is best for yours. It will take time, patience, understanding, and compromise to reach an agreement that works for your family and takes your child/children’s best interest into account. Florida law requires a parenting plan, but this does not mean you have to lose precious time with your children. The end goal is that everyone finds a beneficial arrangement that makes life easy for all.

***The content, facts, and thoughts of this blog are meant to be informational and in no way constitute legal advice. If you have any questions relating to family law issues or a claim that you may have, please do not hesitate to contact Marcie Baker to schedule your free consultation.


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...