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.