It took a lot of effort, but we have successfully moved our law office from Tallahassee to Fort Myers, while ensuring we set up to continue providing legal services to our North Florida and South Georgia clients. It’s good to be back where I grew up as a teenager, even though a lot has changed since before Interstate 75 came to Ft. Myers. Hello Ft. Myers neighbors. I’m back!!
ObamaCare (a/k/a the Affordable Care Act) requires that employers with greater than 50 employees must purchase health insurance policies for their employees, and those policies must provide a statutorily-enumerated minimal amount of coverage. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a closely held corporation’s decision to NOT pay for some abortion-related medical procedures, even though ObamaCare mandates such coverage as part of a basic insurance plan. In its June 30, 2014, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Congestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell, 573 U.S. _____ decisions, the Court held that closely held corporations cannot be compelled to provide insurance policy provisions if such policies’ “minimum essential coverage” violates the corporate owners’ First Amendment right to freely exercise religion. In short, ObamaCare cannot compel some closely held corporations to provide abortion-related health insurance coverage to their employees when doing so violates the owners’ constitutionally protected right to freely exercise a religion that doesn’t include abortions.
For the first time in history, the U.S. Supreme Court specifically held that, under some circumstances where corporations are closely held by readily identifiable owners with certain religious beliefs, the corporations themselves can assert freedom of religion rights, even if the corporations were ‘for-profit” companies. The Obama Administration had already administratively created exceptions for not-for-profit corporations, such as churches, and the U.S.S.C. did not agree that a corporation should be treated differently simply because its owners desired to make a profit. Today’s decision means that Hobby Lobby will avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and still provide health insurance to its more than 13,000 employees, although its employees will have to pay for some, but not all, contraceptive care.
You’re on your way to work during morning traffic when, out of nowhere, a blue minivan in a rush to make it to work on time, runs a red light, plowing into your car’s front end. You’re understandably shaken up, and now your body feels sore and stiff. Auto accidents happen every day and can be a huge mess to deal with when you’re already feeling vulnerable. Hiring an attorney to help you through a personal injury claim can help make the process easier for you and your family.
They make it easier to deal with the Insurance Company.
Insurance Companies profit by under compensating injured persons. Sure, your medical expenses may be covered, but did you know that they should also consider future medical costs, lost wages and, the value of pain and suffering as a result of the accident? If you deal with the insurance company directly, and forego the assistance of an experienced attorney, you could be left with permanent injuries and a lifetime of pain without any way of paying for medical expenses that may arise in the future. Our experience leads us to conclude that, on average, our clients are probably getting thousands of dollars more in settlements, than if they represented themselves.
They get paid when you get paid.
It may sound too good to be true, but most attorney’s don’t require an upfront fee to work on personal injury claims. They accept clients on a contingency bases, meaning they will only bill you a percentage if your case settles or results in a judgment. This takes the financial pressure off the injured party and gives the law firm motivation to negotiate the best possible settlement in your favor.
The last thing you want to do when you’re injured and recovering is spend hours on the phone or sending correspondence to insurance companies. Hiring an attorney takes the burden off your plate so you can focus on obtaining medical care for your injuries. It’s best to hire an attorney as soon after the accident as possible due to legal deadlines that could jeopardize any claim you may have for injuries.
Attorneys have your best interest in mind when they take you as a client. They truly want to make this process as easy on you as possible. They can complete insurance documents, request medical records on your behalf, and write a proposal for settlement letter for the insurance company, without requiring you to leave the comfort of your home. How convenient is that?
Professional representation for the future.
While most claims settle long before filing suit, it is not a 100% guarantee. Sometimes insurance companies refuse to offer realistic settlements, forcing some clients into law suits so as to obtain a reward by jury trial. Without representation from the beginning, you may feel like giving up on a recovery. The right attorney will be able to help you set a reasonable value from the beginning and, if you need to file suit, the attorney can help you through the ends and outs of a complex legal system.
The next time you, or someone you care about, are involved in an auto accident, call a local attorney and talk to him or her about your claims. Most personal injury attorneys will speak with you on the phone and offer a free consultation. One thing is for sure, while it won’t hurt you to speak with an attorney up front, it certainly could hurt you down the road, if you don’t.
Erik Woody & Rachel Dodrill contributed to this blog.
Effective January 1, 2014, we’ll see a couple of new laws probably affecting those around us. Specifically, Florida’s minimum wage rises by $.14 per hour, and residential landlords are specifically required to give their tenants security deposit disclosures. There may be other federal and Florida laws going into effect on January 1st, but this is just a couple of them.
Florida’s minimum wage will increase from $7.79 to $7.93 per hour and, for servers who also collect tips, it’s rising from $4.77 to $4.91 per hour. Workers should see these increases within their first 2014 paycheck.
As far as landlords, who rent out residences are concerned, Section 83.49 of Florida Statutes has been amended to require a landlord to specifically give notice to their tenants concerning security deposit procedures. At the landlord’s discretion, those notices can either be inserted into lease agreements signed after December 31, 2013, or the landlords can elect to give formal written notice after the tenancy starts.
If a landlord does not include the disclosure in its lease agreement, then it must provide such written notice within 30 days after receiving the tenant’s security deposit.
This new disclosure requirement does not apply to landlords who rent out less than 5 residential properties; who rent commercial properties; or, who lease out self-storage rentals.
The Florida Legislature specifically set forth the terms of the disclosures it wanted residential tenants to get, to wit:
“Your lease requires payment of certain deposits. The landlord may transfer advance rents to the landlord’s account as they are due and without notice. When you move out, you must give the landlord your new address so that the landlord can send you notices regarding your deposit. The landlord must mail you notice, within 30 days after you move out, of the landlord’s intent to impose a claim against the deposit. If you do not reply to the landlord stating your objection to the claim within 15 days after receipt of the landlord’s notice, the landlord will collect the claim and must mail you the remaining deposit, if any.”
“If the landlord fails to timely mail you notice, the landlord must return the deposit but may later file a lawsuit against you for damages. If you fail to timely object to a claim, the landlord may collect from the deposit, but you may later file a lawsuit claiming a refund.”
“You should attempt to informally resolve any dispute before filing a lawsuit. Generally, the party in whose favor a judgment is rendered will be awarded costs and attorney fees payable by the losing party.”
“This disclosure is basic. Please refer to part II of Chapter 83, Florida Statutes, to determine your legal rights and obligations.”
For more questions about security deposits, please feel free to give us a call at 850-577-0610.
Ms. Miriam Thornton has joined our firm as an Associate Attorney, having graduated from the Florida State University College of Law in 2012 with Honors. This followed her successful completion of her course study at Florida State University and Oxford University. Graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2009, Ms. Thornton left F.S.U., and traveled to Oxford University — the oldest university in the English speaking world and a university that has educated world leaders for over 800 years. Ms. Thornton completed her legal studies at Oxford in August 2010, and returned to Tallahassee for law school. Ms. Thornton brings experience in personal injury law to Myers & Associates, and all of us look forward to our mutual success. Welcome Miriam!!
ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION!
We’ve been nominated for a Tally Award, and we’re excited about it! It’s a people’s choice award for businesses in Tallahassee, and we’d appreciate your voting. The category winners get a fun-filled, all expenses paid trip to . . . . “satisfaction”! Enjoy your day!
Please vote. It only takes 5 minutes! To vote,
Go to www.TallyAwards.com Select the “vote!” tab Select the “register” tab Insert your user name & email address Scroll down to the law firms and select “Myers & Associate” Select the VOTE button
By Meghan Bensted, Esq.
Now What?? You’ve been arrested for a DUI?
After being arrested for a DUI, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend you driver’s license but, for 10 days, your traffic ticket will serve as your “license” to drive on Florida’s highways. After 10 days, your driving privileges will be suspended, so you must request a DMV administrative hearing within (10) days of your arrest. At that hearing, you can ask for a hardship license, authorizing you to drive to the grocery store, the laundry, to work and to school. If you fail to do so, your license could be suspended for up to one year, and the request for a hardship license may be denied for an extended time!
You should always request an administrative review and always bring a lawyer with you to that hearing. This hearing is extremely important and gives your lawyer a chance to hear the evidence the police have against you.
This is because, in Florida, the penalties related to a DUI offense are serious, and the penalties accumulate with every additional conviction. Did you know, if you have a few serious traffic violations and then get charged with a DUI you could be classified as a “habitual traffic offender,” and there is a possibility you could lose your license for five years?! Therefore,
- Don’t plead guilty or no contest to drunk driving until you’ve had a DUI defense attorney look at your case.
- Don’t pay traffic tickets without talking with a lawyer – By doing so you may be admitting guilt to a serious driving violation.
Time is of the essence. Contact Myers & Associates for an immediate free case review. Your review will be confidential and is offered at no cost or obligation.
Written by Meghan M. Bensted, Esquire
Texting while driving is now illegal in Florida. However, the distracted drivers won’t disappear as talking on your cell phone is still legal in Florida.
On May 28, 2013, Governor Rick Scott passed the Senate Bill 52, which he said would make the state’s roads safer. In his statement, he stated, “As a father and grandfather, texting while driving is something that concerns me and my loved ones are on the road.” [sic] So what does this mean for you?
Florida has become the 40th state to outlaw texting while driving. The bill, SB 52, creates the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” which makes texting while driving a secondary offense.
The new law will ban operating a motor vehicle “while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing and instant messaging.”
The ban allows texting while stopped at a red light. It includes tablets and computers, but excludes using a “text-to-talk” feature.
The first violation is punishable as a nonmoving violation, with a fine of $30 plus court cost that vary by county. A second or subsequent violation committed within 5 years after the first is a moving violation punishable by a $60 fine plus court costs.
The bill allows for the admissibility of a person’s wireless communications device billing records or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such messages as evidence in the event of a crash resulting in death or personal injury.
In addition to the fines, a violation of the unlawful use of a cell phone which results in a crash will result in 6 points added to the offender’s driver’s license record and the unlawful use of the cell phone while committing a moving violation within a school safety zone will result in 2 points added to the offenders license record in addition to points for the moving violations.
These provisions take effect October 1, 2013.