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Tuesday
Dec182012

Personal Injury Accident Care: Getting the Appropriate Treatment

Accident LawyerPersonal Injury San Fernando Valley 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

 

 

If you’ve been injured in an accident, whether it be a car accident, or a trip and fall accident, or if you've been injured by a defective product – the first thing you should do is seek appropriate medical care.

Some attorneys advise seeking legal counsel before doing anything else, including getting medical care. This is wrong.  In fact, we won't represent that person if he or she has not yet received initial treatment for his or her injuries.  

See Your Own Doctors First

 

Many times we will be contacted after initial care is received. The care can be given by a paramedic, at an emergency room, or in an urgent care center. After emergency care is received, further treatment is usually needed.

If you have a primary care physician, our usual advice is to seek treatment from that physician first, if appropriate for the injuries you sustained.

Your primary care physician knows you best and presumably will be able to refer you to a physical therapist, orthopedist, neurologist, or other specialist, depending on your injuries. If you have health insurance and these providers are covered under your insurance, make sure to present your insurance information to these providers.

There are some attorneys who would rather you go to “their doctors.” They will tell you not to use your insurance and not to worry that you will not have to pay anything up front (liens will be discussed below).  This may sound good at first, but there are risks:

First:  Some of the less credible personal injury attorneys will refer you to a doctor who will work with them in litigation, but he or she may not be the best doctor for your needs.

Second:  You will have to explain to a jury why you chose not to use your insurance and not to go to your regular doctor.

Does this mean we never refer clients to doctors?  No, we certainly do under appropriate circumstances.

 

Don't Know a Doctor or Can't Afford Personal Injury Treatment?

 

Some clients do not have regular physicians. Others have doctors who are unwilling to become involved in an injury case. Some clients do not have health insurance or the means to pay for care on their own. Additionally, some clients have HMO insurance and cannot obtain referrals to specialists who are needed to render the best possible care.

Under all these circumstances, we will help the client find the best doctor for their given needs. Our firm has been in practice for over 40 years – we have worked with some of the best doctors in the area for almost every specialized need.

When you do not have insurance and cannot afford to pay for the care on your own, some doctors will accept liens.

A lien is a written agreement with a medical provider who will provide treatment, but wait until your case is over for payment. You must pay for the care, even if you do not recover anything for your injuries during your case. They are not treating you on a contingency basis; they are just agreeing to wait for payment.

Liens are often criticized by insurance company attorneys at personal injury trials, as they try to portray lien doctors as having a “stake” in your case.

But remember:  You are only put in this position because of the negligence of the defendant, and the defendant's and the insurance company’s unwillingness to pay for your medical care. If they would pay for your care as you get it, there would be no need to see a doctor on a lien.  Unfortunately, liability insurance carriers will not agree to pay for your care as you go.

Your ultimate goal is to get the appropriate care to treat, and hopefully resolve, your injuries. Your recovery is always the focus of the case.

 

Dave Bobrosky is an Accident and Injury Attorney with nearly 15 years of experience in helping Los Angeles accident victims and their families receive fair compensation for their injuries. Contact him via email: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. 

 

Thursday
Dec132012

Divorce and Money | Forgotten Assets

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerDivorce Attorney

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

So you're getting divorced and you're worried you might be missing something financially. Maybe you're just worried you'll forget something substantial – something that you don't normally think about every day.

It is important to be careful. And to help you remember some of the more important items, we've created this Divorce Planning Checklist to get you thinking about the more commonly forgotten assets.

This way, you'll be more prepared when you next meet with your divorce lawyer. And if you are more prepared and organized, you'll save your attorney's time, which will save you both time and money too.

 

Most Forgotten Assets When Planning for Divorce

 

We've broken this into four basic categories of overlooked possessions and potential income, because it may be hard to forget that you own a yacht, but it may be difficult to recall that there's 18 months' worth of dock space left on the lease. Remember, if it's "out of sight," it may be especially "out of mind" during a stressful divorce. 

Some of these items, especially in the Earnings or Investments categories, may be critical for couples undergoing a Grey Divorce

Earnings – Everyone remembers the regular paycheck, but don't forget about the other items listed here.

  1. Unused Bonuses
  2. Unpaid Commissions
  3. Medical Benefits
  4. Delayed Earnings
  5. Rental Property Income 

Investments – Where did you put your money 10 years ago? 

  1. Options to Purchase Stocks or Property
  2. Patents, Copyrights or Royalties
  3. Savings Bonds or Securities
  4. Unused Property for future retirement or business
  5. Prepaid Car Insurance
  6. Life Insurance Benefits
  7. Forgotten Credit Union or Bank Accounts
  8. Custodial Accounts set up for children

Entertainment – Relaxation and fun cost money. But did you prepay for some entertainment or invest in a hobby? 

  1. Travel Miles or Points
  2. Timeshare Property
  3. Club or Spa Memberships
  4. Collections, i.e. Art, Toys, Comic Books, Classic Cars
  5. Docking or Hangar Leases
  6. Season Tickets, i.e. Sporting Events, Theaters, etc. 

Miscellaneous – For many couples, every dime will count if they're not used to running two, separate households. Don't forget these:

  1. Moving Costs: Do you need to hire movers?
  2. Security Deposits for the apartment, setting up utilities, etc.
  3. Leased Vehicle: Who will keep it, make payments, and/or benefit from payments already made?
  4. Income Tax Refunds, Carry-Forward Credits, Prepaid Taxes
  5. Business Vehicles for personal use 

Remember: It is important to retain your records (credit card statements, bank statements and tax returns) to thoroughly complete your disclosure forms during a divorce. Mistakes made at that stage of the dissolution process can of course, be costly. 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is an Encino Divorce Attorney with nearly a decade's experience in divorce and divorce mediation. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Wednesday
Dec052012

The Tax Increases Have Begun

by Lewitt Hackman's Trusts & Estate Planning Practice Group 
December 4, 2012

Tax Attorney EncinoMichael Hackman - Certified Tax Law Specialist Kira S. Masteller - Gift Tax, Trusts & Estate Planning

With the “fiscal cliff” discussions front and center, many people do not realize that certain tax increases are already being implemented, both at the federal and at the state level. 

 

Federal Taxes

 

Earlier this week, the IRS released 159 pages of new tax rules related to the implementation of the 2010 healthcare reform law, sometimes known as “Obamacare”. 

First, there is a 3.8 percent surtax on “investment income” for individuals earning more than $200,000 in modified adjusted gross income, and married couples filing jointly with more than $250,000 of such income (notwithstanding the 159 pages, there are still numerous uncertainties as to what constitutes “investment income”). 

This surtax will be applied to capital gains and dividend income and is the first of its kind applying to capital gains and dividend income.  The IRS offered the example of a single taxpayer who makes $180,000 in wages plus $90,000 in investment income (a modified adjusted gross income of $270,000).  The 3.8 percent tax would apply to $70,000, resulting in a $2,660 surtax. 

In addition, there is a 0.9 percent healthcare tax on wages (i.e., the employee portion of the payroll tax) for such “high-income” individuals.  These rules are effective for the tax year starting January 1, 2013, though the IRS will take public comments and hold hearings in April before making the rules final in the fall.  It is estimated that these tax increases will raise $317.7 billion over 10 years.  We believe that employers must start to withhold once an employee’s wages pass $200,000 each year. 

There are numerous other changes as part of the healthcare law, including several changes in the deductibility of medical expenses.

 

California State Taxes

 

California voters recently passed Proposition 30 by a margin of 55.3 percent to 44.7 percent.  This proposition increases California sales tax to 7.5 percent from 7.25 percent.   

In addition, it will result in increases in state income taxes for “high-income” tax brackets.  These California income tax increases will apply retroactively to January 1, 2012, as follows:

  • 10.3 percent tax rate on taxable income for individuals between $250,000 and $300,000, and for married couples filing jointly between $500,000 and $600,000 (formerly 9.3 percent);

  • 11.3 percent tax rate on taxable income for individuals between $300,000 and $500,000, and for married couples filing jointly between $600,000 and $1,000,000 (formerly 9.3 percent); and

  • 12.3 percent tax rate on taxable income for individuals over $500,000, and for married couples filing jointly over $1,000,000 (in addition, though not part of Proposition 30, there continues to be an additional 1 percent tax assessed for an individual’s taxable income in excess of $1,000,0000, pursuant to the Mental Health Services Act). 

The Proposition 30 tax increases are temporary – the increased sales tax applies for four years and the increased income taxes apply for seven years. It is estimated that these taxes will bring in additional revenues to the state of approximately $6 billion annually (less after 2016-17 as a result of the sunset of the four year sales tax increase period). 

On the bright side, certain proposed deep cuts to education and other government services should not occur as the result of the passage of Proposition 30.

 

Michael Hackman is the Chair of our Trusts and Estate Planning Practice Group, and is a Certified Specialist in Tax Law, designated by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Kira S. Masteller is a Gift Tax, Trusts and Estate Planning Attorney. 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Wednesday
Nov212012

2013 California Tenant Law - Landlord Obligations Upon Foreclosure (AB 2610)

Corporate Litigation Lawyer Los AngelesBusiness Litigation  

 

Paul C. Bauducco
818.907.3245

 

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2610 in September, a California landlord tenant law which gives current renters more time to stay at a property when a landlord is undergoing foreclosure.

The new law will bring the state more in line with federal law regarding protecting tenants on foreclosed properties. (Senate Bill 1191 is the bill we discussed in my last blog, Responsibilities of Landlord in Default and Foreclosure, which addresses notices to prospective tenants. You may also want to read Seven New Laws in Effect January 1st, for an overview of other legislative changes affecting California property owners and managers.)

AB 2610 amends the Civil Code (section 2924.8) and the Code of Civil Procedure (sections 415.46 and 1161b). When a Notice of Sale is posted on a property, the new owner must post a notice in the same manner which informs tenants of protections available to them.

Landlords must notify tenants that:

1. If they are month to month tenants, the new owner must give them a new lease or rental agreement, or give them 90 days notice before evicting them.

2. If they have a fixed term lease, the new owner must honor the lease, unless:

a.  The new owner will occupy the property as his/her primary residence. 

b.  The tenant is the mortgagor, or the child, spouse or parent of the mortgagor. 

c.  The lease was not the result of an arms’ length transaction. 

d.  The rent is well below fair market excluding any federal, state or local rent control laws.

Landlord Responsibilities After a Notice of Default

 

While SB 1191 pertains to landlords who provide single-family, or four or fewer units in a multi-family dwelling, AB 2610 is broader, having no limitations on residence size.

The law will become operative on March 1, 2013 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2019.

One more thing:

Existing law permits the buyer of the foreclosure property to use a prejudgment claim of right of possession against a holdover former owner.

Assembly Bill 2610 specifically states that this existing law will not limit the rights of the tenant to also file a prejudgment claim of right of possession before judgment. Moreover, the tenant may also object to enforcement of a judgment for possession whether or not the tenant was served with the claim of right to possession.

 

Paul C. Bauducco is the Chair of the Business Litigation Practice Group at our firm. Contact him via email if you have any questions regarding construction defects, landlord tenant laws or real estate litigation: pbauducco@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Friday
Nov092012

Court: City Cannot Ignore Council's Past Promises to Pay Benefits

 

by Stephan Mihalovits

Well the election is finally over. Californians can celebrate another victory for voting as a peaceful, lawful way to make decisions about our state. It makes voters feel we are in control, that the world obeys our will. Allow me to throw some cold water on this celebration of democracy.

This week, a newly published case reminds Californians we are sometimes powerless to fix problems that contribute to chronic budget deficits.

In International Brotherhood v. City of Redding, 2012, the California Court of Appeal held that a city may be forced to honor past promises the city council made to pay medical benefits, irrespective of whether or not the City can afford the fiscal consequences.

A promise stated in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) ratified by the city council, is an express legislative authorization that creates vested contract rights for present and future retirees.

Beginning in 1979, the city council of Redding made and approved promises to the city’s electrical workers promising to pay 50 percent of medical insurance premiums for retirees, future retirees, and their dependents. The promises were stated in a MOU that routinely expired and was readopted.

When talks broke down in 2010 over a new collective bargaining agreement, the city unilaterally adopted its own plan for payment of medical benefits, with a much less generous benefits package. The union balked and initiated litigation against the city for breaking its promise. The trial court originally granted the city’s request to throw out the union’s lawsuit, but the Court of Appeal instead found that the lawsuit should continue forward, because contractual rights may have vested through city council approval of its promises.

 

The Precedents That Bind

 

To be clear, we do not have a court overreaching its authority in this situation. The court based its decision on established state law and noted it was following the recent Supreme Court opinion, Retired Employees Assn. of Orange County, Inc. v. County of Orange, holding that a vested right to health benefits for retired employees can be implied from a county ordinance or resolution.

The Court reasoned that, if an implied promise is sufficient to bind a city, then surely an express promise approved by the city council can be a binding promise as well. The court dismissed the city’s defense of budgetary woe, stating, “the city provides no authority for the relevance of whether the city, in the future, can afford to keep such a promise.” 

While based on established case law, the decision fails to discuss the foreseeable, negative effects on third parties, namely saddling the public with debt it can’t afford and never agreed to.

The court did not contemplate whether the city council meetings where promises were adopted were heavily or sparsely attended by the public. Nor did the court consider whether council members believed the promises in the MOU, like the MOU itself, expired after a certain period of time.

The court focused solely on the binding nature of express legislative authorization by the city council when it approves promises to pay benefits.

Voters try their best to elect local officials who will be responsible financial stewards. But when those officials make decisions that later turn out to be infeasible and foolishly made, it is the taxpaying public who is bound, not city officials. Officials act in their own political self-interest by approving short-sighted compensation packages. Municipalities should be given a chance to discuss current budget constraints and flawed budgetary assumptions on which promises were based.

 

Fixing a City's Financial Crisis

 

The court may have left a light on for those worried about these potential consequences. As with many issues, the court here would rather not make decisions when the legislature is capable. As stated in Retired Employees, binding promises can be prevented if such promises are already prohibited by law. Thus, the court signaled a role for legislative bodies across the state to take preventative measures to prohibit municipalities from making excessive promises.

Options include an overt ban on municipalities making promises that stretch more than 10 or 20 years in the future. Another option is to include a trigger to reopen contract talks between municipalities and unions if budget numbers do not meet certain threshold levels to fund obligations.

The options are out there, and the courts are willing to guide us. It is up to elected leaders to take proactive steps.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
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