Halloween Now Poses Greatest Risk of Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle Accident

Halloween Now Poses Greatest Risk of Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle Accident

Proliferation of Adult Celebrations Leads to Dramatic Increase in DWI-Related Crashes

A quick question—what night has the most alcohol-fueled motor vehicle accidents every year? New Years Eve, right? Not anymore…though the revelry that accompanies the annual changing of the calendar still poses substantial risk, there’s a new kid in town, so to speak. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, Halloween, the annual celebration of “All Hallows Eve,” now involves more drunk driving accidents than any other time of the year. In fact, the 12-hour period between 6 pm on October 31 and 6 am on November 1, sees more alcohol-related automobile accidents than any similar time period year-round. Of those accidents, approximately half involved drunk drivers between the ages of 21 and 34.

In addition to alcohol-related crashes involving two or more vehicles, there’s been a spike in the number of pedestrian accidents on Halloween night, often involving children out trick-or-treating. Halloween has long been recognized as the “deadliest” day of the year for child pedestrian accidents. A study of data collected over two decades showed more than 100 child fatalities on Halloween night, with one in four taking place between 6 pm and 7 pm, the peak hours for trick-or-treating. About seven of every ten accidents occurred away from a crosswalk or intersection—officials say that children excited by Halloween often neglect to obey simple rules about crossing at corners. Drivers under the age of 25 accounted for about a third of all the fatal child pedestrian accidents on Halloween.

Public safety officials say there are a number of steps both drivers and others can do to minimize the risk of a tragedy:

  • If you plan to drink, have a plan in place to keep you from getting behind the wheel—Arrange a designated driver in advance or schedule for a cab/ride share to pick you up at the end of the night. Take public transportation, catch a ride with someone who’s not drinking or make it a slumber party.
  • Stay off the roads during peak trick-or-treating time—It’s 6 pm to 8 pm in most places. If you don’t have to go anywhere, don’t. If your errands can wait, postpone them until trick-or-treating is over. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s often not a risk worth taking. If you have to be on the road, drop your speed down, just for this one night.

Parents can also help minimize the risk of injury to their children:

  • Accompany them as they go from door-to-door
  • Plan a route that minimizes proximity to busy roads or blind intersections
  • Make certain your child’s costume does not obstruct his or her view of surroundings
  • If the costume is not highly visible, add some reflective material

Contact Us

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an experienced Texas personal injury attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Your Personal Halloween Nightmare—Getting Arrested for DWI

Your Personal Halloween Nightmare—Getting Arrested for DWI

A Real Halloween Scare—A Drunk Driving Charge!!

There’s nothing quite like a good scare on Halloween night—but here’s a nightmare you can do without—getting pulled over by law enforcement officers after you’ve been enjoying a few cocktails with friends. Texas police officers take a very serious approach when enforcing the state’s DWI laws. A single mistake can be very costly, resulting in fines, incarceration and the potential loss of driving privileges. Your automobile insurance premiums can go up significantly and you could even put your job at risk.

Here’s something else you need to know—police will likely be on high alert on Halloween, as statistics show that more drunk-driving accidents occur on Halloween night and in the wee hours after trick-or-treating than any other time during the year. As Halloween has become more of an adult-oriented holiday, with many bars and restaurants hosting events with alcohol, the number of drunk-driving crashes has continually increased. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now says that there are more alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents between 6 pm on October 31 and 6 am on November 1 than any other 12 hour period during the calendar year. In a study conducted in Texas, almost half of all Halloween night traffic fatalities involved drinking and driving.

Tips for Avoiding a Halloween DWI Arrest

Whether you’re hosting or attending a Halloween bash this year, you want everyone to have a good time without risk of a drunk driving charge. Here are some ways that you can minimize the chances of just such a nightmare:

  • Go alcohol-free at your party—There are countless “mocktails” or non-alcoholic drinks that you can serve your party guests. How about a Halloween sherbet punch or blood-red (cranberry juice) Witch’s Brew Punch. Chances are your guests may not even know the punch isn’t spiked, but they may thank you later.
  • Make certain you have plenty of food at your party—Great food serves a couple of purposes—it counteracts the effects of alcohol and it encourages partygoers to drink less.
  • Have a plan if someone shouldn’t drive—It can be a cab or Uber service on call, a designated driver running a shuttle or even a few bunks at your house. It’s better for your guests to crash on your couch than to spend the night in the slammer.
  • Hire a bartender—Instead of letting guests manage their own alcohol consumption, enlist the aid of a professional bartender to limit portions and pull the plug on anyone who’s had too many.
  • Use tough love when you have to—If you have an attendee who won’t listen to reason, and insists on getting behind the wheel after too many drinks, be willing to take their car keys or even call police, if necessary. After all, if they cause injury to someone in an accident, you may be liable.
  • Never, under any circumstances, allow minors to consume alcohol—The best way to do this—insist that only adults come to the party and make no exceptions.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

IRS TAX COLLECTION PROBLEMS

IRS Tax Collection ProblemsEveryone has heard the old cliché, “There are two things in life we all must do – pay taxes and die.” Not paying taxes can have dire consequences. Just look what happened to the notorious gangster, Al Capone. He was prosecuted for filing false income tax returns and spent the rest of his life in federal prison – not for all of his crimes, but for failure to pay income tax.

Not all underpayment of taxes leads to prison. Sometimes, people just make honest mistakes. Whether underpayment of taxes is intentional or a mistake, the individual is more than likely going to hear from that dreaded federal agency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The IRS is the most powerful bill collector in the US. That’s why, when people receive a letter in the mail from the IRS, most, if not all, go into panic mode. Although this is a natural reaction, the IRS is not as bad as people fear. Yes, they do have extraordinary collection powers – but let’s analyze these powers. They can:

1. File federal tax liens against you, which ties up your property if you try to dispose of it either by sale or otherwise. It also makes it difficult to borrow money.

2. Levy and seize your assets, cars, boats, bank accounts, etc. Unlike other creditors, they can even seize and sell your homestead. State homestead exemptions do not apply to the IRS because federal law is superior to state law.

3. Garnish your wages, social security and other sources of income.

Even though the IRS has all of these powers, there are remedies that attorneys, as your tax representative, can utilize to help you resolve your tax problem. When contacted by the IRS, YOU SHOULD NOT IGNORE THEM! That only leads to them exercising the powers enumerated above. If you have a federal tax problem, you should contact Bailey & Galyen immediately.

When you owe the IRS and they attempt to collect, there are three things Bailey & Galyen can do to help you resolve the problem:

1. Obviously, you can pay the amount of taxes, interest and penalties they say you owe, and they will go away.

2. Your attorney can negotiate with the IRS to obtain an “installment agreement”. This is an agreement between you and the IRS whereby you agree to pay, and they agree to accept, a certain amount of money per month until the amount owed is paid off or the statute of limitations bars them from further collection. How much you pay per month depends on your financial condition. The advantage of this agreement is that as long as you make your payments on time, they will not do any further collection activity.

3. Alternatively, your attorney can try to negotiate an “offer in compromise”. This is a situation where the amount of taxes you owe are so high, and your income and assets are so low, that you will never be able to pay off the amount of taxes you owe. An offer in compromise is much more difficult to obtain than an installment agreement because it is an agreement to allow you to pay less than you actually owe. Like the installment agreement, if an offer in compromise is accepted by the IRS, no further collection activity will take place.

Both the offer in compromise and the installment agreement require you to remain current on all taxes in the future. If not, then the agreement or offer will be voided, and the IRS will be free to begin collection activity again.

Bailey & Galyen can help you avoid the concerns you have in dealing with the IRS. We have been dealing with IRS tax issues for over 48 years. We know how it works and how to obtain the maximum benefits for our clients. Please contact us, and we will be happy to assist you.

Legal Rights for Undocumented Immigrants

Immigration LawI often am asked what rights undocumented immigrants have in the United States. Many assume they have no rights; however, all persons living in the United States, regardless of immigration status, have certain protections.

In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, all people living in the United States, including non-citizens, are entitled to equal protection under the law and cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228 (1896). Additionally, all persons physically present in the United States, regardless of immigration status, have the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful searches and seizures and the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination.

So what does this mean for immigrants? It means that, like everyone else, an undocumented immigrant has the right to refuse an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer entry to their home unless the officer has a valid search warrant signed by a judge. Interestingly, ICE officers almost never have a valid search warrant when they approach the home of an undocumented immigrant. They rely on the fact that most undocumented immigrants will not know their rights.

Undocumented individuals who unknowingly allows ICE officers into their home still have the right to remain silent when questioned about their immigration status or country of birth. Why? Because answering such questions would be self-incrimination. It may seem ludicrous that a person does not have to answer questions as to their immigration status, but answering such questions can subject the person to removal (“deportation”) proceedings. Also, many people do not know that ICE has the burden to prove a person lacks lawful immigration status. By remaining silent, an undocumented individual holds ICE to its burden of proof, and ICE must produce evidence showing the person’s unlawful immigration status. As with criminal defendants, an undocumented immigrant is innocent of lacking lawful status until ICE proves otherwise.

This background helps illuminate why Texas’s SB4 “show me your papers” bill has been so controversial. Pending a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, SB4 has not fully gone into effect, but it is a move by the State to impose stricter rules than those mandated by the federal government, and it infringes on the constitutional rights of all persons in Texas.

What happens if ICE meets its burden and proves an individual is in the country unlawfully? Immigrants do not have the right to enter the United States unlawfully, but, once here, they are entitled to equal protection and due process under the law. This means that an individual facing removal is entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge to determine eligibility for relief from removal. The term “relief” refers to certain remedies available under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for immigrants facing removal. Additionally, all persons in removal proceedings have the right to an attorney (but not at government expense), reasonable notice of the charges against them, notice of the place and time of the hearing, the opportunity to examine the evidence and witnesses presented against them, interpretation for non-English-speaking individuals, and clear-and-convincing proof that the government’s charges are valid.

Changes to Social Security Coming in 2019

Changes to Social Security Coming in 2019

More Money in Recipients’ Checks

Social security recipients will see more money in their checks every month starting in January of 2019. The government approved a 2.8 percent increase to cover cost of living adjustments. This is the largest such increase since 2012; it is a $39 monthly increase for the average retiree. Social security payments, by law, have to keep pace with inflation, and recipients saw a 2 percent raise last year.

Increases in High Earner Social Security Contributions

In addition, high earning workers will contribute more tax dollars to social security in 2019. The maximum amount of earnings subject to the social security tax will increase by $4500 in 2019, capping it at $132,900 per year. This will represent a $279increase per year for high wage earners meeting or exceeding the cap. In 2019, every worker will pay 6.2 percent of his/her earnings into the social security trust, but annual contributions are capped at $8,239.80 for people that make over $132,900 per year.

An Older Full Retirement Age

People who will turn 62 in 2019 will have to wait longer to collect their full retirement benefit. The full retirement benefit age for people born in 1957 (and turning 62 in 2019) is will increase to 66 years and 6 months, which is an increase of 2 months from last year. The full retirement age will continue to increase in two month increments each year until it reaches the age of 67 for everyone by 2021.

Higher Earnings Limits for Recipients Still Able Work

There is good news for beneficiaries who continue to work in 2019. Recipients age 65 and younger can earn up to $1470 per month before having any benefits withheld. This represents a $600 annual increase. In the year a beneficiary reaches full retirement age the income limit climbs to $3910 per month. Once an individual is over the full retirement age, there is no limit to how much one can earn and also collect social security benefits.

There are a number of changes to social security payments and benefits taking effect in 2019. If you are hurt, injured or otherwise unable to work, please contact Bailey & Galyen for a free social security evaluation, and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.

Alimony and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Alimony and the Tax Cuts and Jobs ActThere has been no shortage of discussion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed this past year. For many, the tax law involved an immediate increase in their take home pay. But, there were many provisions of this law that were not discussed completely and the effects are not yet fully known.

One of the provisions that takes full effect on January 1, 2019 is the change in treatment of alimony, or, as it is called in Texas, spousal maintenance. Prior to January 1, 2019, alimony has typically been a deduction for the person paying it and taxable to the person receiving it. On January 1, 2019 this deduction will be eliminated.

The deduction for alimony (or domestic support obligations) has existed for many years. The tax treatment for alimony is often an issue in many divorce cases. The deductibility of the payments for the payor frequently made the payments more affordable to the payor while not overly penalizing the less moneyed recipient because the monies would be taxed at the lower marginal rate of the recipient.

Additionally, alimony has existed for long enough now that it is addressed in many pre-nuptial agreements. We do not know yet how the new tax law will treat alimony contemplated under pre-nuptial agreements (essentially contracts) entered into prior to the new tax laws. Additionally, in Texas (and probably other states), there are two types of alimony. Some alimony is post divorce maintenance covered by Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code, and other alimony is contractual.

Over the years some have disguised property settlement as alimony due to the tax treatment of alimony. Although the IRS rules do not permit this, it likely still happens. “Clever lawyers” that skirt the tax rules that prohibit the use of alimony to get favorable tax treatment of property settlements was one of the concerns that led to the elimination of the alimony deduction.

It is not an exaggeration to say it is a brave new world with regard to post divorce maintenance or alimony. It will likely be a few years until the full effect of the new tax legislation is seen. One thing is certain, now more than ever, it is a good idea to seek the assistance of a qualified attorney who practices family law.

Winning the Lottery

Winning the LotteryThe possibility of winning “one billion dollars”, said in the voice of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, was heavily reported by the media last month, which brought up memories of some interesting clients and some unforgettable times. Over thirty plus years of practicing law, attorneys meet countless people who present interesting questions. While the details and identities must be held in confidence, representing lottery winners is rarely dull and entails more than most people ever think about.

Who owns the ticket? Does more than one person have a claim? Who has possession of the ticket? How should you secure the ticket? Should you write on the ticket? Who do you call, and who can you trust? How do you contact the Lottery, and how do you go about accepting payment? Should you disclose my identity or try to fly under the radar?

If you read this far for all those answers, sorry. The answer to these questions is similar to the answer to most legal and tax questions; it depends. The action plan is identical to any other legal question; hire a good lawyer. His or her experience as a trusted professional with a network of legal and accounting professionals will help you make the most of this opportunity. FYI; you already have assets and opportunities to make good decisions with the help of wise counsel. Bailey & Galyen would love to help you do just that.

Repetitive Trauma Injury

Repetitive Trauma InjuryA repetitive trauma injury, as opposed to a specific injury, occurs when there is repeated exposure to harmful activities in the work place. These might be any constant motions that you have to do for work each day every day. Examples are: data entry/key boarding, jobs that heavily rely on how many units or products you can crank out per hour, scanning/labeling/shipping, using certain tools that require squeezing/triggering.

In order to recover for an occupational disease of this type, an injured employee must prove that repetitious, physically traumatic activities occurred while on the job, and there is a casual connection between those activities and the harm or injury complained of. Proof of a repetitive trauma injury should consist of some presentation of the duration, frequency, and nature of the activated claimed to be traumatic.

To determine what your date of injury is, it’s the moment that a reasonably prudent person should have realized that the condition was work related. This isn’t when you first experienced symptoms! You may have had symptoms from a year ago but didn’t know they it was work related until you went to your doctor to discuss the reason for your symptoms. THAT doctor visit would be your date of injury, since that is when you realized that your condition was work related.

The date of injury is very important. If you didn’t report your injury within 30 days of knowing it was work related, your claim will quickly be denied. So its very important to know what your date of injury is. As soon as you find out that you have been injured on the job, give us a call for a free case evaluation over the phone.

What Are Your Rights as a Passenger Involved in a Car Crash?

Auto Accident PassengerWe’re a society on the go: a 2016 census estimated that there were about 1.8 cars per household in the U.S. that year. But, that mobility comes at a cost. In 2017, over 4.5 million people were hurt in auto accidents badly enough to require medical help. Such injuries can be traumatic, even life-changing. How do you get back on your feet, medically and financially, after a car crash? How do you begin to recover?

If there is any good news in such a situation, it’s this: as a passenger, you may have the right to recover the full extent of your damages. If you are a passenger in a car that strikes a stationary object (like a telephone pole or even a parked vehicle), you can file a claim against the driver of the car in which you are riding. Your chances for recovery are good, even if you are in an accident involving two or more drivers. While the drivers may be embroiled in a dispute over who caused the crash, you can file a claim against the insurance policies of all drivers involved, including the driver of the car in which you were a passenger. The parties’ insurance companies can then debate about comparative negligence, that is, how to apportion responsibility for the crash. In a comparative negligence analysis, a driver who is found to be 60 percent responsible for the accident can recover only 40 percent of his or her damages, but as a passenger, you may be able to recover all of your damages. This means that you can still collect from the driver who was less at fault because both drivers were responsible for the crash.

Of course, your ability to recover may be complicated by other factors. For example, if you are related to the driver of the car, you may not be entitled to a separate recovery because the insurance company will not pay against its own claim. Also, if you were somehow responsible for the accident – say, you seized the driver’s arm or obscured the driver’s vision – your recovery would be limited by your proportional liability. The analysis of liability and recovery also changes if you are in a no-fault state, like Michigan or New Jersey. If you are in a no-fault state, you must file a claim with your own insurance rather than the driver’s.

However, in some cases, your damages may exceed the coverage of any party’s insurance policy. In those circumstances, you might consider filing a lawsuit. Injuries in a car crash are treated like other personal injury claims. As a passenger, you would have to establish that

  • The driver had a duty towards you (a duty to drive safely).
  • The driver breached that duty by failing to make reasonable decisions and avoid a crash.
  • You were injured.
  • The injury was a result of the driver’s actions.

In a personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to recover for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and even emotional distress.

If you have been injured in a car accident and have further questions about how to secure your rights, give us a call or send us an email. We’re here to help you get back on your feet again.

The Violence Against Women Act and its Application to Immigrant Victims of Crime

The Violence Against Women ActSeptember 30, 2018, is the current expiration date for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a law originally enacted in 1994 that increases protection for both men and women suffering from domestic and dating violence. In July, House Democrats introduced a measure to reauthorize VAWA, but then House lawmakers went on recess until September 4th, leaving very little time for reauthorization before VAWA’s expiration.

VAWA has provided more than 6 billion dollars in grant funding nationwide, leaving in limbo shelters and programs that protect victims of domestic violence. Historically, VAWA has had bipartisan support, but if neither the house nor the senate passes a bill to reauthorize it, funding will be cut. It is expected that the House will pass a short-term extension of the current law until December 7, 2018, however lawmakers are still nervous. VAWA was reauthorized with bipartisan support in 2000, 2005 and 2013, but the current House bill does not have the bipartisan support necessary to ensure a long-term reauthorization.

Immigrant victims of domestic violence who do not have lawful immigration status in the United States are in an even more vulnerable state because abusers that are U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents habitually use immigration status and the threat of deportation as a means to keep victims under their control in order to perpetuate domestic violence. Thus, VAWA includes provisions that protect immigrant victims of crimes. Luckily, such provisions are codified in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and therefore, do not require reauthorization from Congress. Despite this fact, the current administration’s hard line on immigration coupled with headlines stating that VAWA is expiring keeps immigrant victims of crimes anxious.

The VAWA protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence allow for an undocumented battered spouse, child or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident abuser to “self-petition” and essentially step into the role of the abusive spouse or parent for immigration purposes and submit a petition to immigration to change his or her legal status without the help of the abuser. This protection allows immigrant victims of crimes to break the cycle of abuse and seek safety for themselves and their children without fear of deportation. If approved, the self-petitioner is first placed on deferred action status and receives protection from deportation and work authorization. This VAWA deferred action status then opens the door for the Petitioner to apply for lawful permanent resident status (a green card) in the U.S. Even more importantly, the Petitioner’s minor children may also be included as derivatives on the VAWA petition. The abuser is not notified of the filing and the VAWA petitioner’s information is kept confidential.

Many people, including politicians, are skeptical of VAWA’s protections for immigrants stating that immigrants may easily lie about abuse with the sole purpose of obtaining a green card. As a practitioner who has worked in shelters and helped hundreds of abused immigrant women and men obtain lawful status through VAWA, I can attest to the fact that my clients’ scars, tears, custody battles and the psychological impact of domestic violence is real. I have personally witnessed clients transform from sad, even suicidal, victims to happy, productive members of society through the VAWA process, which allows them to come out of the shadows and obtain legal status.

Even given this, of course there may still be a liar or fraudster out there, and to that I always counter with this: a VAWA petition is an up-hill battle. They are frequently denied and it is the immigrant Petitioner’s burden to prove that he or she merits a grant of protection under VAWA. The application process from start to finish takes years and is virtually impossible to win without the help of an experienced immigration attorney.

To qualify as a VAWA self-petitioner, the immigrant applicant must prove the following: (1) that he or she resided in the U.S. with the abuser, (2) that he or she was subject to battery or extreme cruelty (for spousal abuse the battery or extreme cruelty must have occurred during the marriage), (3) that he or she entered into the marriage in good faith and not for an immigration benefit (for spousal abuse), (4) that he or she has not committed any crimes or immigration offenses that disqualify the petitioner from receiving an immigration benefit, and (5) that the self-petitioner is a person of good moral character.

To win a VAWA case, the Petitioner must submit documents such as shelter records, CPS records, police reports, protective orders, counseling records, psychological records and/or evaluations, and letters from friends, family, and witnesses to both the abuse and the good faith marriage. I always tell VAWA petitioners that we have to prove the bad and also the good because, on top of the evidence previously listed, the Petitioner must also submit photos, leases, bills, children’s birth and school records, joint bank account statements and whatever else he or she can gather up to prove the “good faith marriage” and “cohabitation” elements. Further, the Petitioner must also submit awards and certificates, criminal history reports and police clearances, taxes, and any other relevant document to prove the “good moral character” prong.

As you can see, gathering this type of evidence as well as re-living the trauma suffered as a victim of domestic violence is not for the feign of heart and the process itself naturally weeds out false claims of abuse.

Though the current expiration date of VAWA does not impact immigrant victims of crimes in their ability to file for immigration benefits, VAWA expiration does affect self-petitioners because if funding is cut for shelters and domestic violence programs, VAWA self-petitioners have nowhere to run to for help in breaking the cycle of domestic violence. Victims’ inability to leave a household ridden with domestic violence in turn puts everyone in the community in danger.

Importance of Medical Care, Treatment Compliance, and Medical Records, at Social Security

Social Security Medical RecordsThe first step in any claim for social security disability is proving that you have an impairment that prevents you from sustaining gainful activity. To prove the existence of an impairment, the social security administration looks to your medical records, your doctor’s opinions of your capabilities, and then, if necessary, incorporates your testimony at a hearing to determine your eligibility for benefits. No matter the diagnosis, how you feel, or what you know your limitations to be, it is crucial that you have sought and received medical treatment. Medical treatment can not only provide a diagnosis, but can outline the specific limitations caused by your impairments.

It is also important for claimants to continue treatment during the application and appeal process and follow the recommendations of their treating physicians and/or medical professionals. Compliance with treatment over a long period of time bolsters the credibility of your application and proves that your condition is long lasting, severe and disabling.

The path to a favorable outcome can be a long and difficult journey that takes a toll financially, emotionally and physically on even the strongest of individuals. As such, it is important that you take advantage of any and all resources available to continue treatment during your application process. At Bailey & Galyen, our experienced staff can help you find affordable treatment solutions available in your community that can provide medical care at reduced costs during this difficult time.

Bailey & Galyen can also provide your doctors with forms and questionnaires specifically designed to outline your limitations. These forms can be customized to your unique physical and mental diagnosis and the specific limitations they cause. A strong opinion statement from your treating physician can considerably bolster your chances of a favorable outcome.

If you are hurt and unable to work, it is crucial that you have hardworking experienced attorneys helping you navigate the complicated social security application process. Please contact us at Bailey & Galyen for a free disability evaluation.

What Does “Network” Doctor Mean in Workers’ Comp?

Work Comp Network DoctorThere has been much confusion as to what doctors an injured worker can or cannot visit for treatment. Many insurance companies offer network doctors that you must choose from in order to receive treatment under workers’ comp. Usually, the first doctor you see, if in network, becomes your doctor for all future treatments. Most networks allow for a one-time change, but it must be approved by the network or adjuster.

Finding a network doctor has been a huge headache and source of confusion for many injured workers. Often times, the list of doctors provided are only doc-in-the-box chains that are not equipped to handle ongoing issues or different levels of therapy. Unfortunately, not much can be done if you are stuck in the network scenario and unhappy with your medical provider. In order for a provider to be paid by the insurance carrier, he/she must be in the network.

If you have an insurance carrier that does not have a network, you may see any provider that accepts workers’ comp claims. You are allowed to change doctors, but you must submit a form to the workers’ comp division that must be approved before you start treatment with the new doctor.

Always ask the adjuster whether your case falls under a network, and, if so, ask for the name of the network. This information helps your attorney suggest other doctors in the network that may be able to treat you. Give Bailey & Galyen a call today if you need help understanding your workers’ comp case.

Military Divorce

Work Comp Network DoctorOne of the sad realities in Texas is that just over half of all marriages end in divorce. Perhaps due to the number of divorces, young attorneys fresh out of school often do divorces until they get their first job. It is also perhaps for this (and many other) reasons that some get the impression that matrimonial law is fairly simple. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Matrimonial law touches on every other field of law. Further, many people seeking a divorce are members of one of the branches of the military.

If you are seeking a divorce, it is important that you select an attorney whose practice is limited to matrimonial law. Further, if you or your spouse are a member of the military, you should consider hiring an attorney who also has experience in military law or dealing with military divorces.

Military divorces can be especially complex. In addition to the usual complexities of a divorce, there are special circumstances to deal with such as military retirement. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a single military retirement system. The old days of being in the military for 20 years and receiving a pension for 50 percent of your pay are gone. These days, the military retirement system is a hybrid system of traditional pension, something akin to a 401(k)/403(b) and a thrift savings plan.

There are many considerations in dealing with a military divorce beyond the considerations of other divorces. In addition to the complexities of the military retirement systems, military health insurance has changed over the last several years. Other complexities arise when the parties have property in multiple states or the non-servicemember spouse has retirement accounts in multiple states.

In addition, it is common for a divorce court to restrict the children’s residency to the county where the divorce is filed (or a surrounding county). But, everyone knows a military member is likely to be reassigned several times throughout his/her career.

For these reasons and many more, if you are getting divorced and you are or spouse are in the military, you not only need to be represented by someone who limits their practice to matrimonial law, but you should consider hiring an attorney who also has experience in military law or military divorces. At Bailey & Galyen we not only have board certified attorneys, but we also have attorneys who have military experience that have done thousands of military divorces over the years.

No Maintenance?

Estate PlanningSome of us have watched the world go from high maintenance to at least lower maintenance in our lifetime. Automobiles that used to get 100 miles to the tire and seven miles to the gallon now allow us to put 50,000 miles on a tire and get 40 plus miles per gallon. If you’re lucky, you can put a couple hundred thousand miles on a car with routine maintenance, and sealed systems mean that greasing parts or adding water to a battery are foreign concepts to most people. Vinyl siding and brick have reduced the need to paint the exterior of houses, and better design and more durable materials extend the life of countless products, which results in minimal maintenance.

When an attorney puts together an estate plan, it is important to try to make it as low maintenance as possible. The plan should name alternate executors, trustees and agents so that the plan will survive the death, disability or unavailability of the first choice. It should also name alternate beneficiaries for similar reasons. Further, percentages are usually preferred over dollar amounts because estate values change over time along with the value of a dollar, and living trusts should not be used for people that aren’t interested in the original funding, titling or upkeep required for a good plan.

Low maintenance is what most people want and need. However, low maintenance should not be confused with “no maintenance.” Over time, and in the event of changes to the law, your key players or assets in your plan may need to be updated. A car with 300,000 miles on it does not have the original tires, battery or oil filter. Similarly, in order for your estate plan to continue to provide good service for you and your family, it needs periodic maintenance. Mr. Bailey has been providing low maintenance estate planning for 25 years. Whether you need your first plan or an update on your current plan, give Bailey & Galyen a call.

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