Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays from All of Us


Whether you are traveling across the country or celebrating with loved ones in your own living room, all of us at Bertolino LLP wish a you a very merry Christmas and wonderful and safe holiday season. May the highways be free of accidents, the conversations around the dinner table be calm and exactly what you want be waiting under the tree.

We remember those who are serving our country in places throughout the world and therefore cannot be with family during this special time of year. May the new year bring peace and your safe return home.

The attorneys and staff of Bertolino LLP, in Austin, Houston and San Antonio will be here to serve your legal needs in 2014. Please call our office if we can help in any way.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Woman Trampled by Police Horse during Houston Parade Found Liable for Her Injuries


 
A personal injury case stemming from an incident that occurred four years ago finally reached a resolution through the decision of a jury this week. Kirste Reimers suffered multiple injuries to her mouth and face during the 2009 Houston Pride parade when she was trampled by a police horse. While Reimers insisted she was along the curb and the police officer riding the horse, Patrick Hernandez, should have taken more steps to stop his horse or warn her of the impending collision, the jury seated in a Harris County courtroom thought otherwise.

Reimers was found to be ninety-five percent liable for the injuries she sustained, as the city’s assertion that she was out in the middle of the street and ignored repeated warnings was accepted. This despite the fact that Officer Hernandez’s statements were inconsistent between the time of the original incident and the trial and the much watched amateur video showing a woman standing in the middle of the street was determined during an internal investigation not to be depicting Reimers. As such, Reimers will not be awarded any damages even though she had $21,000 in medical bills.

You never know when an injury is going to occur. It could be walking through a grocery store aisle with a spill that has not been properly marked off and cleaned. Maybe you twist your knee as you make your way across a parking lot that has not been salted following a snowstorm or that ends with an unmarked curb. While these examples might sound silly or frivolous, the pain that you experience and the loss of enjoyment of life you endure as you recover are serious matters.

There is no guarantee that a jury is going to find in your favor. That’s the nature of human involvement in the process. But, you can be sure that if you ask Bertolino LLP to represent you in your personal injury matter, you will not find more aggressive and dedicated counsel. We will work diligently to settle your case with the money you deserve before the suit ever reaches trial. And, if it does, we will be by your side every step of the way until a resolution that meets your needs is reached. Please call us today and let us help you.

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Zimmerman Arrested Again Following Another Domestic Disturbance Call


 
There is no shortage of legal and ethical and social analysis of the fatal confrontation that took place between George Zimmerman and seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida nearly two years ago, so that controversial evening and the legal proceedings that followed will not be recounted here. However, whether or not you count yourself among ones who believe the claim of self-defense and agree with the not guilty verdict or you think that Zimmerman acted outside of the law and should have been found liable for Martin’s death, there should be little disagreement on the fact that George Zimmerman has not found his experiences in the courtroom enough to keep him from further encounters with the law.

In addition to several traffic stops that have resulted in fines and warnings, Zimmerman’s more serious issues involve his estranged wife Shellie. In September, shortly after Shellie filed divorce papers, police were called to a domestic disturbance. No charges were ever filed due to lack of evidence. Then again, just this week, Zimmerman was arrested when officers responded to another disturbance call involving his new girlfriend. Zimmerman was booked at the Seminole County jail and details are just now emerging.

You always deserve to feel safe in your home and protected from violence at the hands of those who supposedly love you.  Unfortunately, all too often this is not the case. Twenty-five percent of all women have been victims of domestic violence, and the number may be larger as it is estimated that only a quarter of all incidents are reported to police. And sadly, as many as 12 million children in the United States are witnesses to domestic violence every year. 

If you have been the victim of domestic abuse, do not suffer in silence for another day. Bertolino LLP can provide counsel on obtaining legal protection from the court and we will do so with the sensitivity that we know such a situation requires. Please call our Austin, Houston or San Antonio office today. We are ready to help.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Child Day Care Facilities Must Be Monitored with the Highest of Standards


In many families, the decision for one parent to stay at home with the children at all times is not feasible. Instead, for those leading single parent homes and two-parent homes in which both incomes are necessary and/or both choose to work, selecting a child care center is one of the most important and emotional decisions to be made.

I am a parent to two girls so I am very aware that parents want their children to be nurtured and safe and happy. You want your son or daughter to be watched by someone you can trust and who will do everything possible to keep your child from harm. So with disturbing stories like the one recently coming out of Pearland, Texas, parents understandably can wonder about the facility that cares for their own kids. 

Tad Jeremy Costin has been criminally charged with four counts of aggravated assault of a child following an investigation into child pornography by Liberty County authorities. Sadly, there are hundreds of computer images of Costin engaged in sexual acts with young children, so police believe more charges will follow. And there is now the newly released detail that Costin’s ex-girlfriend, Julia Lack, who has also recently been charged, ran an in-home overnight babysitting service, leaving people to wonder if Costin used this home as a place to commit his crimes. Investigators are asking anyone who may have used this day care to come forward as the search for more victims continues.

If you run a day care service, you want your establishment to be above reproach. You hire professionals with excellent credentials and references. You create rooms that are welcoming and safe. Still, parents may need more before they feel good about leaving their precious kids with you. And they deserve that. No mother or father ever should have to receive a phone call stating that their child may have been abused while in the care of others.

You want to make sure that your day care’s license is solid. If there are any questions about your legal standing in the community, we can help. If there have been any complaints made about one of your employees or your facility in general, you need to take these seriously. We will be by your side through the entire process. Bertolino LLP has attorneys who specialize in issues surrounding licensure of various professionals, including day care workers. Please call our Austin, Houston or San Antonio office today if you think we may be of service to you.

 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Texas Dentist Sentenced to Jail for Insurance Fraud


 
Health insurance is in the news more than a little these days. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” finally taking place, there are questions about which doctors will take part in the coverage, how employers will handle the requirement to provide health care for their workers and why some people are being dropped from their plans when the language coming from the White House seemed to indicate this would not be happening. And then there’s the website, which has been the focus of both daily press briefings and Saturday Night Live sketches. While this post is not passing judgments on the merits or drawbacks of the health care plan, there should be little dispute over stating that the rollout has come with some concerns.

While Americans try to navigate this new system and provide the security of health coverage for their families, they at least want to hope that they can trust their doctors to act within the scope of the law. However, Dr. Terrence Ewing Syler of southeast Texas broke that trust and now he is going to prison.

Dr. Syler pleaded guilty to health care fraud, as he has been submitting claims to Medicaid, which is government health insurance, since 2007 for procedures he never performed. He now will serve 22 months behind bars and has been ordered to pay $835,000 in restitution and fines.

It is unfortunate when poor decisions of a few individuals in a profession cast doubt on the work of others who have always acted within the boundaries of the law. I wonder if the former patients of Dr. Syler now will look with skepticism, whether with any merit or not, on the next person who handles their dental care.

If you have been unfairly accused of wrongdoing in your professional practice, perhaps because one of your peers has made news for wrongdoing and others assume the same of you, Bertolino LLP can help. We have attorneys who specialize in dental license defense as well as the defense of other licensed professions. We will fight aggressively to protect your reputation and livelihood. Don’t take any filed complaints lightly, even if you know there is no truth to them . . . call us today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Can Facebook Get You Fired?


 
I wonder if some of you who are reading this post found your way to this site through a link on my Facebook page. If so, thanks for checking it out! There is no doubt that Facebook and other social media outlets play an important role in the lives of professionals of all types, from attorneys to landscapers to retail owners to even the President of the United States.
Of course, Facebook is just as prominent in its ability to reconnect you with old friends and share countless photos of your kids and get into political arguments that have no chance of being anything other than frustrating.
But what happens when your professional world and personal world collide on your computer screen? Where are the boundaries? What are the possible consequences if these lines are blurred?
For the purposes of this blog post, I am thinking about the situation in which a high school teacher wants to have a Facebook account to stay connected with friends and family. While this teacher likely wouldn’t “friend” any of her students, it is difficult to keep all details online completely private.
So, what is a teacher to do? Can you deny the rights of an entire profession to stay away from a social network that boasts millions of participants? No. Most schools set up parameters for the use of Facebook by its staff as part of a general code of conduct. That’s fair. But what if the lines are not always clear. What is something inappropriate is assumed by a parent or a principal based on your Facebook postings?
Or let’s move beyond teachers and think more generally. Can an employee use Facebook to blow off steam about an unpopular boss? What about simply keeping a comfortable distance from co-workers and just not having to know every detail of one another’s lives?
The influence of social media is just now taking shape in examples of legal precedence, as technology is always forcing us to ask new questions. But you may already have found yourself the victim of termination or other negative consequences at work due to your use of social media, and you believe what you are facing is unfair.
We have attorneys in Austin, Houston and San Antonio who specialize in wrongful termination and workplace discrimination who are ready to help you if you feel as if you have been mistreated in your employment for any reason, not just your use of social media. Please call our office today and let’s discuss what we can do to help.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maybe Funny on TV . . . Definitely Not in Real Life


If you've ever seen a live vaudeville show or even one of its television counterparts such as a Bob Hope special or The Carol Burnett Show, you know that the old "banana peel on the floor" gag is a sure-fire winner. An unsuspecting fellow takes a spill due to the slippery fruit and laughs ensue. But if you've ever been a victim of a slip and fall accident, you know better than most that the last thing you need in that moment is a laugh track. Sudden slips or trips can result in serious back and neck pain, arm or leg injuries and a variety of other medical issues that may linger for years.

You may have fallen recently and just chalked it up to clumsiness or bad luck. But there may be others to blame and accountability is needed!

Maybe you tripped over a curb outside your local drug store because it was crumbling or uneven and you broke your wrist in the fall.

It could be that your favorite grocery store had a leak in the frozen foods section and no signs posting the obvious danger of a wet floor and your lower back still hurts from your encounter with that puddle.

Have you ever walked across a parking lot in January to get into the shopping mall and thought to yourself how dangerous those unsalted ice patches could be? You aren't the only one.

Businesses are responsible for keeping their property safe for clients and customers, both inside and out. If you have been injured due to someone else's lack of due diligence regarding basic upkeep and maintenance, there is merit to your understandable desire for compensation. Have you been hurt due to someone else's negligence? Please talk to one of our personal injury attorneys in Austin, Houston or San Antonio today and we'll get started in working for the outcome you deserve.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

TV Attorneys -- Which One is the Best?


With the new season of television programming unveiling itself for the fall, there are, as always, several new shows that are introducing us to some new fictional attorneys. And, some other fictional attorneys who we have followed for years have returned for more legal maneuvering on the small screen. The legal profession has been a popular focus for television producers since the medium was invented.

So, here is the question for the day. If you need to be represented in the courtroom, which TV lawyer do you want sitting next to you?

Would it be Clair Huxtable? She broke gender and racial barriers in the 1980s on The Cosby Show as a successful attorney who took a no-nonsense, confident approach in front of a judge and often used her legal mind to solve conflicts at home as well.

Maybe you prefer the classic character of Perry Mason, memorably played by Raymond Burr in a popular series of the same name that ran for nearly a decade starting more than a half century ago. If you wanted to get someone on the stand to confess his guilt, Mason was your guy.

There is the more unorthodox and irreverent approach taken by Denny Crane on Boston Legal. While his tactics were always likely to offend someone, his winning record trumped his lack of political correctness for many who needed a victory.

The list of TV attorneys goes on and on -- shows like L.A. Law, The Good Wife, Suits, JAG, Law and Order in its multiple forms and many others offer us lawyers on the screen.

Who is your choice? Share your favorite TV lawyer and why that character tops your list!

If you need a real-life attorney to assist you with legal needs ranging from personal injury to divorce issues to defending your professional license, please call the Austin, Houston or San Antonio office of Bertolino LLP today and we will get to work for you!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

DUI Charges for Former Browns QB


So the Houston Texans snatched another defeat out of the arms of victory this weekend and the once undisputed kings of the collegiate football fields of Texas are wondering what happened and talking about the search for a new coach. Perhaps it is best to turn our attention away from sports in our home state for now and look to the north. In Ohio, a former football star has found himself in trouble entirely unrelated to any effort on the field.

Ex-NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar of the Cleveland Browns was arrested early Sunday morning after a stop by police due to speeding led to his arrest after it the strong odor of alcohol was found to be emanating from his vehicle. He now faces DUI charges. Fortunately, he did not have any passengers in his car and no other cars came into contact with his reckless decision to get behind the wheel.

Kosar has been vocal about how the the rough game and the head injuries he sustained over the years continue to plague him. Due to the repeated trauma to his brain, Kosar shares that sometimes he slurs his words. Will this be an issue when the time comes for Kosar to stand before a judge and state his innocence or guilt? Time will tell. Regardless of any connection, this incident serves as a solemn reminder that all too often our sports heroes will prove themselves to be quite human and not immune from the addictions and illnesses and poor decisions that our society must face.

If you have been injured by someone who decided to drive a car on our roads after having several cocktails, you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering and the person responsible should be deterred from making that same choice again. The personal injury attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. If you have been hurt due to another's careless act while driving, please contact our Austin, Houston or San Antonio office today and let us get to work for you.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Divorce -- What are Your Questions?


Despite what we may be seeing from some reality stars these days, most of us do not enter into marriage just for the enjoyment of planning an extravagant party or with the intention of getting divorced just a short time later (or at all, for that matter). The exchange of the "I dos" comes with the desire for a happily ever after. And, with commitment, work, love and respect from both partners, this ending certainly is possible.

But, what if the end of your marriage has become inevitable? It is clear that, for one reason or another, you no longer will be able to live under one roof as husband or wife. Along with a series of difficult emotions that must be processed over time, you probably also will approach this event in your life with a lot of questions. Some of the concerns we have heard in our offices include --

How long is this going to take?

How do we decide what happens with the house? The debt? Our wedding album?

Will I get to be with my kids on Christmas?

Do my parents have any rights to spend time with the children in their role as grandparents?

If my wife remarries, does that affect my child support?

Can I put guidelines in place regarding what can and cannot happen during the time that the kids spend at their father's new apartment?

Are all of these legal documents going to be public record?

Do I have to face my ex in a courtroom?

At Bertolino LLP, we have divorce attorneys who are ready to answer these questions and the many others that may be racing through your mind as you approach this life transition. No question is too small, too silly or too unusual. We want to do all we can to guide you through this emotional and difficult time.

Some of you reading this blog may just have made the decision that a divorce is the only remaining option. Others may have faced this challenging time several years ago and now can speak from experience. 

If you have been through a divorce, what are some of the most pressing questions that you brought to the table the first time you met with an attorney? Your insight may provide help to someone who is just now facing this difficult event and who likely has not thought of the needed questions to ask.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Worst Drivers are Ones Who . . .


As long as there are cars on the road, there unfortunately are going to be car accidents. Someone is going to be careless or the weather conditions will make the roads slick or a mechanical failure could cause your vehicle to go spinning out of its lane. All we can do is make sure that we are being conscientious in our own driving and following the rules of the road. It is frustrating, though, when we face property damage or bodily injury because of another persons' poor decisions on the road.

So, I am offering this blog post as a forum for your venting. What is it that bothers you most about other drivers on the road?

Is it the drivers with erratic speeds who you are none too shocked to see with eyes glued to their cell phones once you pull alongside them?

Is it the guy who never uses his blinker? Maybe the one who never turns his off?

What about the woman who follows too closely on your rear bumper as her way of letting you know she wishes you would drive a little faster?

Maybe your main problem is with the person who zooms down to the end of a lane he knows is closing with the expectation that someone will stop to let him in.

Leave your ideas in the Comments section below!

Beyond being an annoyance and perhaps a reason that your language gets a little more colorful during your morning commute, distracted or careless drivers can be the source of serious problems on our roads. Maybe you know first-hand how vulnerable we all are to others on the road who don't drive with the same sense of caution and attention that we do.

If you have been injured in a car accident due to someone else's negligence, you are entitled to some compensation for your pain and suffering. We have attorneys who specialize in car accident cases and they are ready to help you. Give us a call at our Austin, Houston or San Antonio office and we will work tirelessly on your behalf to make sure that accountability is in place for those at fault.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Austin's High Ranking Means Dangerous Roads


 There are plenty of instances in which being named to a list of distinction comes with a badge of honor. Maybe you are an actor who finds yourself on the list of nominees for Best Lead Actor at the Academy Awards. Or, perhaps you are a chancellor at a university and proud to open a newspaper and learn that your school is ranked in the top ten for the strength of its academic programs. But, what about a list that sets you apart as one of the drunkest cities in the United States? That is where Austin finds itself.

According to research developed and conducted by The Daily Beast, Austin falls below frequently imbibing cities like Boston and Milwaukee but still managed to finish ahead of places like New Orleans and Las Vegas. The study determined that 18% of all Austin residents are binge drinkers and around 5% are heavy drinkers. 

I'm sure you could find fault with the method of this study or even argue whether such a ranking serves any purpose at all. But, there is a case to be made that Austin, with its large student population and thriving nightlife, is home to quite a few people who enjoy an alcoholic beverage or three.

From our perspective as a law firm, though, we are especially concerned with what a person decides to do after finishing those drinks. Particularly, will he or she decide to get behind the wheel of a car?

We see the stories on the news every day. People make the horrible decision to drive a car after an evening of drinking. The results are often tragic. Lives are lost or forever changed because someone did not make that one choice to hand over the keys.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you need to make sure you are getting the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys who specialize in automobile accidents will fight on your behalf until your case is won. Please call the offices of Bertolino, LLP at our Austin, Houston or San Antonio office today and let's get to work.

Friday, September 6, 2013

NFL Reaches Settlement Regarding Head Injuries


Photo courtesy of Getty Images

High school and college football is well underway and the National Football League kicked off last night with a huge game between the Denver Broncos and the Superbowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Turn on ESPN or any local sports radio program and you will hear the pundits making their playoff predictions. (And most of them have our Houston Texans going deep into the post-season!) You likely also will hear them discussing a much more serious topic than expected wins and losses. Instead, you may be hearing your favorite host discussing the question of what did the NFL know about the impact of concussions and other such head injuries and when did they know it.

Last week, the NFL reached a tentative agreement with retired players that, assuming all goes smoothly with approval, will mean $765 million in payments to players and/or their families, as well as for medical research and exams. This is the conclusion of a lawsuit involving more than 4500 former players and the primary contention that brain injuries sustained on the football field have contributed to diagnoses of ALS, Parkinsons, dementia, and depression and even led to suicides, most recently and perhaps most prolifically of superstar linebacker Junior Seau.

The money is to be distributed over the next twenty years, with at least half of it designated to be given within the next three years. The amount received by each player will depend on his diagnosis and current state of health.

Perhaps you do not have a NFL contract and put on shoulder pads and a helmet every Sunday. But, many of you still face risks at your workplace. Machinery accidents, slip and falls, lifting or bending injuries . . . these examples and others can lead to permament impairments, lost time from work and other damages for which you are entitled financial relief.

If you have been hurt at work, please contact one of the workers' compensation attorneys at Bertolino LLP. We will advocate aggressively on your behalf to get you the settlement you deserve.

What do you think of this settlement? Is the payout fair? Do you think, considering the annual profits made by the NFL, the total figure should have been higher?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No Texting and Driving . . . and Now No Texting a Driver!


I don’t think anyone could argue seriously that texting while driving is not a dangerous activity. Studies have shown that the distraction of punching in keys on your smart phone to say hello to a friend or remind your husband to pick up milk while you are operating a vehicle causes at least as much impairment as driving drunk. There is no text message important enough that it needs to be sent while you are barreling down a highway at 60mph. 

But, what if you are sitting on your couch and texting from the comfort of your living room, with no steering wheel or car engine in sight? Can you still be held accountable if that text message you send is delivered to someone who is driving and their attention to your message results in an accident? A New Jersey appeals court says you can.

The case involves a 17-year-old girl who sent dozens of text messages to her 18-year-old boyfriend on a single day in 2009, one of which was received just thirty seconds before a crash that seriously injured two motorcyclists. While the court determined that the girl was not to be held liable in this particular case, as there was not enough evidence to show that she knew her boyfriend was driving and/or that she expected an immediate response, it did state that a person has a duty not to send text messages if he or she knows these messages will be viewed by someone who is driving.

In other words, if you know your friend is currently driving to your place and you text him anyway, you can get in trouble if that friend gets into an accident while looking at what you wrote.

What do you think about this ruling? Can someone sending a text from miles away be held at least partially responsible for a crash? Or, is it ultimately the choice of the driver to pick up that phone and look at the screen?

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, we have experienced attorneys who handle automobile accidents regularly and who are ready to help you. Please contact the Austin, Houston or San Antonio offices of Bertolino, LLP today and tell us your story.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Houston Mom Makes Several Bad Decisions


There was a news story out of Houston yesterday sharing the multiple poor decisions made by a mother that have left her behind bars at the Harris County jail and facing some serious charges.

Jennifer Michelle Claus walked into a Randalls grocery store on Wednesday and proceeded to place around sixty dollars' worth of merchandise into her purse. Her illegal efforts were noted by the nearby loss prevention officer, who quickly took her to the back of the store and called authorities. Ms. Claus soon let law enforcement know that she had not made the shopping trip alone. She had left her two young children sitting in the car out in the parking lot, with the engine running.

It has not been disclosed exactly what Ms. Claus was trying to steal from the store. Perhaps she was desperate to feed the two kids who were waiting for her. And, that is assuming the best of intentions. No matter the intended goal, though, Claus' decision to shoplift was a poor one only magnified by her other decision to leave her children in a car on a summer day with keys in the ignition.

For her choices, Ms. Claus now faces a misdemeanor charge of theft under $1,500 and a felony charge of endangering a child.

You hope that every child's mom is his greatest protector and the one who shields him from the potential for harm that inevitably is found in our world. However, the sad reality is that sometimes mothers, fathers and other family members fall short of these responsibilities and instead become the ones from whom the kids need protection.

If your children are being exposed to an unsafe environment, be it due to the other parent or an ex-boyfriend or just fighting between the adults in their lives, the family law attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help you reach and enforce a safe resolution. Please contact our office in Austin, Houston or San Antonio and let us know what is happening in your family. We'll work with you to find answers.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When Another's Decision Not to Immunize Affects You


 Perhaps by now you have read about the measles outbreak that is taking place at Eagle Mountain International Church, a mega-church just outside of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Twenty-one people have contracted the measles, with those affected ranging in age from four months to forty-four years.

The children who have been infected by the disease all share something in common -- they are homeschooled. And, the majority of them have not been vaccinated. Pointing out this fact is not to make any judgments on the way in which parents choose to educate their children, but rather noted because children entering the public school system would have been required to have their vaccinations current.

The senior pastor at the church, Terri Pearsons, is now encouraging her congregants to get their children vaccinated unless their convictions strongly tell them otherwise, and even has held clinics to share information with those who may be worried about the possible impacts of these shots on young kids.

Whether or not you choose to vaccinate in your family is a personal decision that should come from research and reflection on your moral and/or religious convictions. But what if your child falls sick due to another person's decision not to immunize? What if your toddler son or daughter, who is still too young to have had the series of shots to protect against the measles, is infected by an older child who never was vaccinated? Who should be held accountable?

If you believe your family member became ill through the negligence or lack of disclosure by another party, be it with measles or any other communicable disease, you may be entitled to some compensation. You need to get in touch with one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Bertolino LLP to share your story and learn what we can do to help. Your child's health matters.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Wills -- Uncomfortable Topic, Important to Do


We've all heard the age-old saying that, "Only two things in life are certain -- death and taxes." While many of us have no problem vocalizing our opinions about how much Uncle Sam asks from us every April or maybe even writing to our local councilman to complain about how property taxes are being spent, we generally are much more hesitant to have conversations about the inevitable end of life that every single one of us faces.

If you work for forty or fifty years providing for your family, spending and saving wisely and acquiring assets that you plan will continue to provide financial peace of mind to your loved ones after you are gone, you need to make sure that your wishes are clearly detailed in writing. Having to fight that legal battle is not a burden you want to leave with your spouse or children when they already are struggling to find their bearings with you gone.

Have you considered the awful instance in which you are the victim of an automobile accident that leaves you on a respirator? Or what if you are gravely ill and have a heart attack that would require extensive measures by medical staff to revive you? These are not pleasant scenarios to ponder, but it is responsible to acknowledge the possibility and make some decisions now so that family members overwhelmed with emotion in a hospital room can know that they are agreeing to treatment that is consistent with your wishes.

You don't want to talk about death. We get that. But we also know that you want that moment to be one of dignity and that offers the family you leave behind all that you are able to give them. Preparing a will to be read upon your passing and a living will that can be used to make determinations about your care should you become incapacitated due to illness is not a difficult process, but an important one. You should seek the counsel of a professional to make sure that every word is drafted to meet your wishes.

The law firm of Bertolino LLP has attorneys who specialize in writing wills. They will take the time to learn about your situation, ask you questions that you may not have considered, and create documents specifically to meet your needs.  Please contact our offices in Austin, Houston and San Antonio to begin this critical gift for your family today.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Real Accidents Have No Laugh Track


You probably have been watching one of your favorite television comedies as a scene like this one plays out on the screen: One of the characters gets into a minor car accident, with maybe a small dent on her rear bumper to show for it. She appears fine, but when she walks into an attorney's office a week later, he advises her to get a neck brace and play up her pain for the insurance company. Then, the laugh track takes over as the two share a knowing smile.

Unfortunately, the ongoing pain that accident victims suffer is no laughing matter. Just look at the news in our state of Texas over the past week and you will see that our roads, and those who drive on them, all deserve "proceed with great caution" signs attached to them.

An Austin man in a wheelchair was seriously injured when hit by a dump truck.

A 52-year-old man from Travis County was found dead along the side of a road, apparently killed in a hit and run.

In Houston, a man died when the car in which he was the passenger crossed the median and was struck by a tractor trailer only to spin and hit a shoulder divider. A male and female fled the scene.

You can read stories like this one in newspapers across the country every day. Because of carelessness or actual criminal behavior on our busy roads, lives are forever changed. Survivors face overwhelming medical bills and loss of time from work and and emotional trauma after enduring such a collision. When an accident victim dies, the family is left to cope with grief, anxiety and loss of companionship that their loved one had provided.

While numbers never can be placed on all of the emotional and physical injuries that occur with a motor vehicle accident, the fact that compensation is due should be unquestioned. When you are dealing with insurance companies whose goal is to pay you as little as possible, you need to seek professional counsel.

Bertolino, LLP has experienced car accident attorneys in Austin, Houston and San Antonio who are ready to serve you. Give us a call today, tell us your story, and we will begin to do the work to help you recover from the ordeal you have experienced.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stranger Invades Texas Home though Baby Monitor

 In a story that has made national . . . actually, international! . . . news this week, a Houston family faced a terrifying threat to their sense of security thanks to a baby monitor and a stranger with sinister intentions. Maybe as you've checked on your own sleeping infant in the past, you've heard the conversations of your neighbors who have their own monitors come through one of your devices. That crossing of traffic happens sometimes. This story will make you wish that overhearing another mom's off-key "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" was your only concern.

Marc Gilbert heard a strange voice coming from the bedroom of his two-year-old daughter. The unknown man was using vulgar language and addressing Gilbert's young girl by name. As Gilbert and his wife made a quick walk to determine what was happening in the room of their sleeping child, they realized that the stranger was not standing in their home but instead tracking their moves through an internet camera that they had set up to watch over their girl. And, as they entered the room, the camera zoomed in to focus on them.

Gilbert unplugged the system immediately and has pledged not to make his family vulnerable to hackers in this manner again. He shares that he did everything right, by creating passwords and establishing the firewall, but some person bent on at best the cruelest of practical jokes and at worst a scenario much more horrific to conceive managed to find his way into the home, at least virtually, anyway.

As a parent, one of your most important roles is to protect your children. You teach them how to be careful when talking to strangers and how to cross a busy street, and you provide a home that is intended to keep out harm. Sometimes the threat to your family's safety comes in the form of a camera hacker. Other times, it unfortunately can stem from a volatile relationship issue within the family. If the latter sounds familiar in your world, we can help.

Bertolino LLP has attorneys who specialize in the emotional area of family law. If you are dealing with a situation that threatens your child's sense of safety and well-being, please give our office a call and we can discuss your legal options for creating a better life for your family.