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.