Thursday, February 24, 2022

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Workers' Compensation

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives in many ways. It has also changed how the entire legal world operates. From zoom hearings to delays in filing, there have been several changes that have altered how legal proceedings work.

Workers’ Compensation has seen a shift as well. In today’s blog, I would like to highlight some of those shifts and show how they can potentially impact or alter your case.

While several other states have amended state policies regarding Workers’ Comp. and COVID-19, Florida is NOT one of those states. While the state has addressed that there are limited circumstances where an employee can receive benefits for contracting COVID-19 “on the job,” it often requires clear and convincing evidence connecting job-related tasks to the exposure to COVID-19. The standards of proof in occupational disease and exposure claims are so high that it is rare for an injured worker to prevail on COVID-19 claims.

Florida’s CFO, Jimmy Patronis issued a finding that if first responders (who are state employees) contract COVID-19 there is a rebuttable presumption that they contracted it during work and it will be compensable under WC, unless the employer can prove otherwise. This presumption does not apply to workers in the private sector.

Since the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida case law has highlighted a list of requirements that employees must show to qualify under the occupational disease statute as it relates to COVID-19.

1. The disease must be actually caused by employment conditions that are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular occupation;

2. The disease must be actually contracted during employment in the particular occupation;

3. The occupation must present a particular hazard of the disease occurring so as to distinguish that occupation from usual occupations, or the incidence of the disease must be substantially higher in the occupation than in the usual occupations; and

4. If the disease is an ordinary disease of life, the incidence of such a disease must be substantially higher in the particular occupation than in the general public

I hope this post has been informative and opened your eyes to the complications that COVID-19 has brought to the world of Workers’ Comp. Should you have any questions or want to learn more as it pertains to your case, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.

***This blog in no way constitutes legal advice and is meant only to be informational in nature. Should you have any questions regarding Workers’ Comp., please do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule your free consultation.


Thursday, February 17, 2022

Important Family Law Terminology

            Welcome to the third and final installment of important legal terminology that you should know. I have already covered Bankruptcy and Workers’ Compensation and you can always access my previous posts to refresh your memory on important terms in those two areas.

            Today I am going to focus on all things Family Law, the third practice area that Marcie Baker specializes in.

Alimony: spousal support which may be ordered by the court in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage. Types of alimony include bridge-the-gap, durational, rehabilitative, permanent or retroactive, and may be either temporary or permanent in nature. The court may order periodic payments, payment in lump sum, or both. In determining whether to award alimony, the court must determine whether either party has an actual need for alimony and whether the other party has the ability to pay. The court must consider the factors set forth in section 61.08, Florida Statutes, and must make certain written findings. An alimony award may not leave the paying party with significantly less net income than that of the receiving party without written findings of exceptional circumstances.

Annulment: a marriage can be dissolved in a legal proceeding in which the marriage is declared void, as though it never took place. In the eyes of the law, the parties were never married. It is available only under certain very limited circumstances.

Child Support Guidelines: Each state has child support guidelines that must be followed in awarding child support. (See Florida Child Support Guidelines here.) The guidelines are typically a formula. There are only a few circumstances when the court can award child support higher or lower than the guidelines.

Marital Property: includes all property acquired during the marriage, even if it is not titled in both names, with some exceptions.

Uncontested Divorce: when the defendant is not going to try to stop the divorce and there are no issues for the court to decide about the children, money, or property.

Child Support: money paid from one parent to the other for the benefit of their dependent or minor child(ren). It is important to note that both parents are required to support their children and the calculations reflect this.

Dependent Child/Children: child(ren) who depend on their parent(s) for support either because they are under the age of 18, have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from supporting themselves, or are in high school, between the ages of 18 and 19, and performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of graduation before the age of 19.

Financial Affidavit: a sworn statement that contains information regarding your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.

Marital Liability: generally, any debt that you and/or your spouse incurred during the marriage. A debt may only be determined to be nonmarital by agreement of the parties or determination of the judge.

Nonmarital Liability: generally, any debt that you or your spouse incurred before your marriage or since your separation. A debt may only be determined to be nonmarital by either agreement of the parties or determination of the judge.

Permanent Alimony: spousal support ordered to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities after dissolution of marriage. Permanent alimony is paid at a specified, periodic rate until: modification by a court order; the death of either party; or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony, whichever occurs first. Permanent alimony requires consideration of the factors set forth in section 61.08(2), Florida Statutes, and must include certain written findings by the court.

Shared Parental Responsibility: an arrangement under which both parents have full parental rights and responsibilities for their child(ren), and the parents make major decisions affecting the welfare of the child(ren) jointly. Shared Parental Responsibility is presumptive in Florida.

Time-Sharing Schedule: a timetable that must be included in the Parenting Plan that specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child or children will spend with each parent. The time-sharing schedule shall either be developed and agreed to by the parents of a minor child or children and is approved by the court or established by the court if the parents cannot agree, or if their agreed-upon schedule is not approved by the court.

Mediator: a person who is trained and certified to assist parties in reaching an agreement before going to court. Mediators do not take either party’s side and are not allowed to give legal advice. They are only responsible for helping the parties reach an agreement and putting that agreement into writing.

            I hope this blog, like the other terminology blogs, has helped your understanding of often confusing terms and phrases related to family law. If you have any other questions regarding this post or Family law in general, feel free to call our office and we will assist you in the best way that we can!

***This blog is only meant for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice of any kind. Should you have any questions regarding a family law claim, please do not hesitate to fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation.


Thursday, February 10, 2022

What Your Attorney Wishes You Knew

    It’s hard to believe we are already almost halfway through February! I would like this week’s blog to cover some easy tips and tricks to make both your, and your attorney’s life just a bit easier when working on your case. Welcome to, “What your attorney wishes you knew.”

- We can’t change the law. While attorneys will do their best to work on your case diligently to get you the best outcome, we do still have to abide by what the law says. If this means you can only get a certain amount of compensation for your Work Comp. case or there will be a division of assets in your divorce, we can only work within the boundaries of the law. Outcomes may not always be what you hoped, but we will do our best to find the best result for you.

- Time is money. When you begin an attorney-client relationship your attorney will explain what fees you will owe, how you will be billed, and so on. You need to understand that any time spent talking to your attorney could contribute to your bill since we are on the clock whenever working on your cases. And as a courtesy matter – pay your bills on time or work out a payment plan with your attorney so they aren’t wasting time tracking you down to get your bills paid.

- You and your life are an open book. During a divorce, privacy is almost non-existent. Your social media, employment, and finances are all a part of helping the court determine how to resolve your case most equitably. Especially when children are involved, anything negative that you post on social media or document doing can be used against you. Think twice before acting or posting.

- Pick your battles. This is especially true for divorce cases. While you and your spouse should try and compromise for division of assets, time-sharing, and all of that, don’t waste your time arguing about who gets to keep the Keurig or Nespresso machine. This will just add costs and prolong your case more than you and your attorney want it to be.

- Don’t forget attorneys are people too. No, we aren’t available at 3AM to answer your “quick question.” And if you have an appointment, stick to it and be on time. Attorneys scheduled you into their day for a reason, and you being late or a no-show is a waste of their time and your money. Attorneys also have other clients – so wasting their time can also negatively impact other clients and is just plain rude. If you have a sudden emergency or conflict, let your attorney know so that they can plan accordingly. Last-minute cancellation for good reason is much better than not showing up and not explaining why. We all need time to step away from the office and spend time with our families – so it is unrealistic for you to expect that your attorney will be available 24/7 for all of your needs.

    I hope you have found this blog to be both informational and helpful and what you should do to prepare to have as smooth a legal case as possible. As always, please reach out to our office with any questions or concerns.

***This blog is meant to serve informational purposes only and does not constitute any form of legal advice. Should you or someone you know have any questions regarding a case, please reach out to our office to schedule a 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...