Ouch! If a marriage ends and divorce becomes a reality, an attorney should lead you through the complicated maze of legal issues presented in divorce court, especially if child custody and child support will be part of the discussion. There are two ways to pay divorce attorney’s fees in such cases: a flat fee and an hourly rate. No lawyer should agree to take a percentage if and when he or she is successful with the divorce litigation. In other words, “contingent fee agreements” are not applicable here, even though they are very common in personal injury cases. Additionally, there are two types of costs a client will have to pay: attorney’s fees and litigation costs. Oftentimes, a lawyer will ask for prepayment in the form of a “retainer.” If the retainer is to be non-refundable, the lawyer is required to obtain the client’s prior consent and agreement in writing. As far as “flat fees” are concerned, this can be a one-time payment that pays the attorney’s professional fees. For example, a Fort Myers lawyer might agree to represent a woman in a divorce case, and accept a one-time payment of $10,000, for example, to cover all the time the lawyer spends on the case, even if it takes a year-and-a-half to litigate. Litigation costs, such as the court filing fee of approximately $400, may be paid or billed separately. Retaining an attorney on “an hourly rate” means the client pays a retainer (usually) and agrees to pay the attorney $250 per hour, for example, for each and every hour the lawyer is actively engaged in working on the divorce. Remember: lawyers sell their time. Again, litigation costs, such as the cost of hiring court reporters, are charged and billed separately. Normally, with an hourly rate case, the client receives a bill, periodically, identifying what work has been done, and the time taken to do it, plus costs expended during that billing period. So, in summary, to hire a lawyer for a divorce, you may pay a retainer at first, and you will probably be billed for costs, even though the retainer can be used for pre-paid litigation costs as well (depending on the Fee Agreement entered into), and a client can pay the lawyer either with one lump sum up front OR pay the lawyer by the hour during the pendency of the litigation.
Notably, the Florida Bar has certified Attorney R Frank Myers as a Board Certified in Civil Trial Law. Congrats Frank!
When July 1st came around, 161 of Florida’s newest laws took effect. One law set a sales tax holiday (on certain purchases, such as clothes and school supplies) for August 5, August 6, and August 7. Another reduced property taxes. For those of us trial lawyers, we noted that Florida law now allows a person who is unable to take care of himself or herself to obtain a permanent exemption from serving on jury duty, with the proper documentation from his or her doctor.
Myers Law is set up in the heart of the GATEWAY area of Fort Myers, Florida — near Lehigh Acres. We’re now located at 12331 Towne Lake Dr. #9, next to Gateway Boulevard — next to Subway and near Boulevard Deli. We’re out here where people live and work, not downtown, for the convenience of those with legal disputes, whether civil litigation or family law. Come see us for competent, professional legal services!
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!!