Drunk Driving Accidents Over the Holidays

holiday drinking nutcracker

Don’t Settle for Less This Christmas

The holidays are a time of joy and revelry, a time to share and create lasting memories with loved ones. They are also a time of needless tragedy, one of the most dangerous times to be on the nation’s roadways. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that an average of 300 people have died in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents every year over the last five years.

In another study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the vast majority of fatal accidents occurred on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. Over the four year period of the study, more than 40% of the fatalities for the entire month occurred at the New Year’s holiday and as many as almost 38% at Christmas. The NHTSA study concluded that alcohol was a factor in around four of every 10 fatal accidents at Christmas and New Year’s. Statistics gathered by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) found alcohol to be even more of a factor, involved in 52% of fatal accidents on Christmas and 57% of fatal accidents at the New Year’s holiday.

Steps You Can Take to Minimize the Risk of a Holiday Drunk Driving Accident

The good news—most drunk driving accidents are almost entirely preventable. Here are some ways that you can avoid or minimize the risk of an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident this holiday season:

  • Plan ahead—If you know you’ll be attending a party where alcohol will be served, arrange a ride in advance. This may involve identifying a designated driver or contacting a ride-share or cab service to arrange to be picked up at a specific time.
  • Have the party at your house—Invite everyone to your house and you won’t have to worry about getting behind the wheel or being on the road with drunk drivers. You’ll want to think about your guests, too. Have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available. Offer guests a place to sleep, if necessary, or arrange transportation for anyone who is not fit to drive.
  • Be willing to be tough—Be willing to take keys away from someone who may be impaired. In addition, be willing to refuse to allow a person to have additional alcohol.
  • Be overly cautious on the roads—You know there will be drunk drivers on the roads. You can’t completely avoid that. However, you can intentionally maintain a little more distance between you and other drivers, and you can pay more attention to your surroundings.
  • Report any suspected drunk drivers—If you do get on the road and observe other drivers who appear to be impaired, call the police and report the location of the driver as well as the make and model of the car. You may prevent a serious or fatal accident.

Contact Us

At the law offices 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 email 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.

Avoiding a DUI/DWI Charge This Holiday Season

dui checkpoint

Tips for Minimizing the Risk of a Drunk Driving Arrest Over the Holidays

It’s the holidays—time to celebrate—and that often means a cocktail or two with friends and family. That’s all part of the season—unless you decide to get behind the wheel after having a few. Statistics consistently show that Christmas and New Year’s see more DUI/DWI arrests than any other period of the year, and with good reason—it’s also when the most alcohol-related fatal car crashes occur. It’s also the time when drunk driving arrests and alcohol-fueled accidents are not limited almost exclusively to individuals with some kind of drinking problem.

A Drunk Driving Charge — Not What You Want for Christmas This Year

It may seem like the simplest solution is to abstain from alcohol unless you’re at home and staying there. That may be easier said than done, though, as 22% of people responding to a survey from Scramsystems.com admitted that they had been pressured to drink by colleagues at an office holiday party, and approximately half of all Americans said alcohol was a part of their holiday celebrations. Here are some other tips for reducing the likelihood that you’ll be pulled over and arrested for driving while impaired.

  • Let someone else drive—Whether it’s a friend or family member who functions as a designated driver, a taxi, Uber or Lyft, or some form of public transit, this will allow you to go to the party, have as many drinks as you want, and not worry about a potential DUI.
  • Have your party somewhere where you can spend the night—This can be at the home of a friend or family member or at a hotel. Don’t worry about the accommodations—it’s better in the long run to be uncomfortable on your friend’s couch than in a jail cell for a DWI charge.
  • Give yourself a limit and stay within it—You may decide in advance that you’ll have two beers or one mixed drink. Pace yourself so that you haven’t hit your limit a few minutes after you arrive. The longer you take to drink two beers or one mixed drink, the less impact it will have on your blood alcohol content. One of the best ways to limit your intake of alcohol is to alternate an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic one, starting with a non-alcoholic libation.
  • Make certain you eat plenty—Drinking on an empty stomach is always a bad idea. Don’t try to lose weight and drink during the holidays.
  • Stop drinking alcohol at least 90 minutes before you get in your car—If you have to drive and want to have an alcoholic beverage, be sure to give yourself plenty of time for any effects of alcohol to wear off.
  • Make certain your vehicle is in fully working order—Don’t give police officers a reason to pull you over. If you have a headlight or a turn signal that’s not working, you can be stopped and police can ask if you have been drinking. It can all go downhill from there.
  • Obey all traffic signals and laws—Again, this will minimize the likelihood that you’ll be pulled over.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law offices 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 email 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.

It’s A New Year, Are You Ready?

New Year Fresh Start Coffee Mug Wills and Estate PlanningThe new year is upon us. Let us reflect on the old year and commit ourselves to making 2019 a better year.

Did you intend to divorce in 2018? Was Alimony or Spousal Support an issue? If so, you only have a couple of days to finalize the divorce and still have those payments be tax-deductible.

Do you have a divorce or other suit involving children? If so, you now need to provide for Dental Insurance in addition to Medical Insurance.

Additionally, 2019 is an Odd numbered year. That means the “visiting” parent will have possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28, 2019 until the day before school resumes; and starting at 6:00 the day school recesses for the Thanksgiving break until 6:00 pm the day before the Thanksgiving break ends.

Also don’t forget if the visiting parent wants to exercise summer visitation other than the month of July, you need to give written notice to the “home” parent not later than Monday April 1, 2019.

If your ex did something that made you angry, forgive them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Too often people do something that hurts or angers us and we assume bad intent on their part (rather than assuming it was unintentional or unintended) and then we respond in kind. Thus begins a pattern of escalation that does not benefit the child.

I cannot stress enough. It isn’t about you. It isn’t about your spouse. The legislature is concerned with the well-being of the child. In fact from Texas Family Code section 153, Subchapter E the guidelines spelled out in the Standard Possession Schedule a MINIMUM amount of possession and access for the visiting parent. (b) It is the policy of this state to encourage frequent contact between a child and each parent for periods of possession that optimize the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and child. (c) It is preferable for all children in a family to be together during periods of possession.

A final consideration of the standard possession schedule is considered in the best interest of children age three and over. Section 153.251 (d). Recent studies have shown that for children aged three and younger the children should have more frequent contact, but perhaps for shorter periods of time. An example, on a case I handled just this morning, we have the father visiting with the child on every Tuesday and Sunday for a couple of hours, rather than every other weekend for the whole weekend. As the child ages we will increase the period of visitation but it will be less frequent.

The one thing I can never stress enough. When you’re facing a Divorce, or Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship hire a qualified attorney who practices Family Law. We attend CLE on the subject so we know the latest law on the subject, we know the judges, CPS workers, Social Workers, and other lawyers in the area. We are more likely to be able to get an idea of what will happen and how much your particular case may cost.

Fresh Start!

New Year Fresh Start Coffee Mug Wills and Estate PlanningA new year is upon us and it reminds me of a fundamental need we all sense at one time or another; the need for a fresh start. I am not a huge fan of resolutions, but any prompt to move me into a better 2019 is a good prompt.

Start Spring cleaning early by donating or discarding stuff you don’t need as you tidy up after the holidays. This will free up more space for living life and may help you locate items or documents you need to secure. Read them to see if they are consistent with your wishes and circumstances in 2019. If you can’t find the originals of your Will, Powers of Attorney, Medical Directives, etc., neither will your loved ones in an emergency. Don’t settle for being “sure they’re around here somewhere” and don’t assume a copy is as good as an original.

Start talking with those you love and those you depend on about important things. Have the courage to discuss your mortality and your ideas about the future. Remind each other of your values, hopes, and dreams! Tell someone that you love them and appreciate them for who they are and who you see them becoming.

Start dispensing grace! For many of us it will begin with ourselves. We are our harshest critics and have the longest memories of our failings. Perhaps the New Year is an opportunity to let go of some stuff you carry around all the time. Perhaps your faith calls you to give grace to others, but you’ve found that forgiving yourself is much more difficult. You may view a relationship as so broken that it can’t be reconciled. Give a little grace and see what happens.

We have been blessed to help a record number of families and individuals in December. It would be an honor to help you with a fresh start in 2019!

How Do I Bring My Fiancé Into The United States?

ImmigrationThis winter, a sizable number of clients became engaged. Namely, to foreigners that they met on business trips, study abroad programs, or arranged marriages. No matter the reason, they all come to an immigration attorney to ask the same question: How do I bring my fiancé into the United States?

The answer is deceptively simple. One may bring a fiancé over on what is called the K-1 Visa, or otherwise known as the Fiancé Visa. The love ridden United States citizen can fill out a Form I-129F, and send it in with evidentiary documentation and a money order to United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). While the process, on the exterior, is not complicated, it is in fact time consuming, emotionally draining, and will test the strength the couple’s love and relationship months before the actual marriage.

The K-1 Visa process to immigrate a loved one into the United States is long one. There are three parts to the K-1 process. First, the Form I-129F must be approved by USCIS. USCIS approval normally takes anywhere between four to six months. Also note that the Form I-129F is not the only document sent in; the couple must prove that it is a bonafide engaged, meaning that, in most cases, a lot of evidence must be sent in. This includes, but is not limited to, pictures, emails, letters, divorce decrees of prior marriages, birth certificates, etc… This step, however, only recognizes the bonafide relationship. The foreign fiancé must obtain permission to travel to the United States, and must complete the second step.

After USCIS approval, the second step is applying for the K-1 Visa with the Department of State at the Consulate/Embassy of the foreign fiancé. This process, before Department of State approval, generally takes two to three months. The foreign fiancé will apply for the K-1 Visa at the Consulate/Embassy abroad, and submit documentation such as civil identity documentation, medical exam documentation (from a doctor approved by the Consulate/Embassy), and, again, proof of the bonafide relationship. The foreign fiancé will also need to undergo a consulate interview with a Department of State officer. This second step gives permission to travel to the United States, but does not grant admission into the United States. For admission into the United States, one must complete the third step.

The foreign fiancé will now need to arrive in the United States and seek admission at a port of entry (i.e., DFW Airport). CBP will conduct biometrics, check background information, and conduct an interview of the foreign fiancé. Once finally admitted, the couple has 90 days to marry.

The K-1 Visa process is long and emotionally draining. Therefore it is not a surprise that a lot of couples separate while the process is ongoing. The K-1 Visa is only the beginning. After marriage, the foreign fiancé must adjust status through USCIS and also possibly remove conditions from their green card. These processes also take a long time. It is highly recommended that the couple hire an experienced immigration attorney to guide them through the K-1 Visa Process.

Contact Us

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 immigration law 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.

Payment of Retroactive Benefits

Payment of Retroactive BenefitsSSI claimants are often disappointed when they learn that their past due benefits will be paid in installments after a finding of disability. Often times it can take a full year for social security to pay all the money owed. However there are circumstances that can effectuate an acceleration of the payment of past due benefits.

Since many SSI claimants accrue debt while awaiting their disability determination social security’s rules allow for the accelerated payment of past due benefits, if the claimant can show that the debt is related to medically necessary services or expenses. The definition of “medically necessary” is construed broadly and varies from office to office, however it can include, a car to travel to appointment, a cell phone to contact providers, and a computer to access records or my SSA account.

Similarly, if a claimant can show accrued debt or upcoming expenses related to the acquisition of food, clothing, or shelter (including rent and mortgage) social security can expedite the payment of the lump sum settlement. Lastly the payment of past due benefits can also be accelerated in circumstances where the claimant has expenses related to the purchase of a home.

The acceleration of benefits is only allowed in circumstances where the expenses will not be reimbursed by another public program, insurance policy, or other method.

Contact Us

To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 844-402-2992. For your convenience, we answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request.

Fight Night!: He Started It!

Workers’ CompensationI often receive calls about injured workers who were involved in a fight at work. My first question is usually, “Who started it, and why?” This is important to determine because if an injury results from a dispute that arose from the injured worker’s duties, how the work was performed, or in self-defense, it might be considered within the course and scope of employment and be covered.

These claims fall under Section 406.032(1)(B), the “Willful Attempt to Injure Another of Self.” This area of law is determined by an Administrative Judge as a question of fact that he or she must decide when the insurance carrier raises an affirmative defense.

For example, verbal disputes occurring outside of the workplace between employees who do not get along, which later results in a brawl while at work, is not categorized as a work-related incident for either party. This is because whether employees like each other or do not get along is not related to the way the work is performed.

By contrast, injuries resulting from a confrontation between an employee and their foreman because the foreman belittles the employee on how the employee is performing the job, is categorized as work-related. In this example, there is no personal animosity and the injury arose from a disagreement related to the manner in which the injured worker was performing their duties. This would be deemed compensable, and the injuries would be covered. APD 962472

The bottom line is, do not bring personal drama into the workplace, even if you have an issue with a co-worker or management. In most circumstances, an altercation at work that results in a physical dispute arising from the manner in which you perform your job duties or in reasonable self-defense would be covered.

If you believe you were protecting yourself and had no part in starting a fight at work, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation coverage for your injuries. Be safe, but just in case, give us a call so we can review the specific facts to your situation and explain what your options are.

Contact Us

Email or call our offices at 844-402-2992 regarding any questions you may have regarding a work related injury.

Beware of Quick Settlement Offers During the Holidays

insurance claim settlement

Don’t Settle for Less this Christmas

You don’t ever want to be hurt because of someone else’s carelessness, but it can be even more devastating during the holidays. There’s a lot to do and personal injury can bring your life to a complete stop. In addition, it’s a time of good cheer—it can be hard to put on a positive face when you’re uncertain about your future. For those reasons, you may be inclined or susceptible to taking actions that compromise your rights. Insurance companies know the stress that comes with the holidays and won’t think twice about trying to cut their losses by offering you a quick settlement—one that, unfortunately, won’t meet your needs.

Even when the holidays are months away, there can be an inclination to want things wrapped up as quickly as possible, so that you have your money. It’s a delicate balance—you don’t want to wait unnecessarily long for compensation that may not come, but you should never focus solely on how quickly you can get compensation. Instead, it’s better to determine how much you are willing to give up (dollar-wise) to get immediate access to cash.

Some Things Just Take Time

It’s an old adage, but it’s true, particularly with respect to many personal injury lawsuits. If any of the following situations describe your case, you’ll need time to get an accurate assessment of your total losses:

  • You are still receiving treatment for your injuries—often, you won’t know for some time just how much your injury will affect your life and what kind of recovery you can expect. With a quick settlement, you’ll typically be expected to sign a release, so that the insurance company has no further liability for any medical expenses or other losses. If, however, you have injuries that initially seem minor, but get worse, you may be unable to get the insurer to pay for the treatment you need because of the release.
  • Your losses are substantial—the more money that’s at stake, the more likely insurance companies will engage lawyers to minimize the amount paid out.
  • It’s unclear exactly who was at fault, or to what degree—there may be multiple parties who contributed to the accident. It can take time to sort all that out.

Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Accordingly, everything they do is calculated to maximize their profits. If they are offering a fast settlement, they’re doing so because it’s in their best interests, not yours. Often, it’s because they know that your claim is worth more and worry that you’ll retain legal counsel, who will bring out the facts to establish the company’s full liability.

It’s almost always a mistake to accept an insurance company offer before hiring legal counsel to represent you after a personal injury. The insurance company has no incentive to offer you the full value of your injury—in fact, you can expect that the first offer will be for significantly less than you deserve. Even if you end up negotiating a settlement, you’ll customarily end up with a larger recovery than if you take an early settlement offer.

Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Accordingly, everything they do is calculated to maximize their profits. If they are offering a fast settlement, they’re doing so because it’s in their best interests, not yours. Often, it’s because they know that your claim is worth more and worry that you’ll retain legal counsel, who will bring out the facts to establish the company’s full liability.

It’s almost always a mistake to accept an insurance company offer before hiring legal counsel to represent you after a personal injury. The insurance company has no incentive to offer you the full value of your injury—in fact, you can expect that the first offer will be for significantly less than you deserve. Even if you end up negotiating a settlement, you’ll customarily end up with a larger recovery than if you take an early settlement offer.

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.

Start the New Year with a Clean Slate — Expunging Your Criminal Record

expungement criminal law

Use the Texas Expungement Process to Seal Criminal Records

What’s your New Year’s resolution? A better job or a new place to live? A return to school, so that you have better job skills? When you have a criminal record hanging over your head, those can be unreachable goals. When you have to report a prior conviction on a job or apartment application, it can really limit your options. In addition, a criminal record can disqualify you for some types of student financial aid. What if you could do something to remove that blemish from your past? Under the Texas expungement law, you may be able to do just that.

What is Expungement?

An expungement in Texas is the permanent removal of information about an arrest, charge or conviction from a person’s criminal record. If an expungement is granted by the court, the information is removed from the record and the person obtaining the expungement can legally deny that the arrest, charge or conviction ever occurred.

Expungement is available in Texas on a limited basis. You can never expunge a conviction, unless the conviction resulted from identity theft, the conviction was subsequently overturned on appeal or you received a pardon from the Governor or the President.

The records related to the following events are generally available for expunction:

  • Arrest for any crime for which the person was not formally charged
  • Any criminal charge (misdemeanor or felony) that was dismissed and not re-charged (although your record will not be expunged if the statute of limitations has not yet expired)
  • Qualifying misdemeanor juvenile crimes
  • Some alcohol offenses involving minors
  • Conviction for not attending school

In addition, you will not qualify for expungement if you have received deferred adjudication or probation, or if you have been convicted of a felony within five years of the event you want expunged.

How to Apply for and Get Your Record Expunged

Obviously, the first step is to look at the statute and make certain you qualify. You must than file a Petition for Expunction in the district court. The petition includes information identifying you, documents the offense charged and identifies when the alleged offense took place. You also need to notify the court of the identity of the arresting officer and department, as well as any agency or entity that has a record of the arrest. If you were charged, you’ll also need to identity which court heard your case, the docket number of the case, the final resolution, and the date the matter was resolved. All this information must be notarized and submitted to the court.

As a general rule, your application for expungement will be filed with the same court in which the original criminal matter was heard. Once you file your petition, the court will schedule a hearing, and will provide notice to all interested parties, including arresting agencies, who can then come to the hearing and give testimony regarding the requested expunction.

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.

DACA Reinstated, For Now, But Dreamers Still Left Hanging

Immigration LawOn January 13, 2018, the federal government, under a federal court order, reinstated the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for certain individuals who currently hold or previously held DACA. DACA provides temporary protection from deportation and work authorization for qualifying individuals and was rescinded by the Trump administration on September 5, 2017. Now, however, the DACA policy that reigns is the one that was in effect prior to rescission, which is a breath of fresh air for many DACA-mented individuals who were left with no status or whose status expiration loomed in the future. This is also a breath of fresh air for employers employing individuals with DACA.

The Trump administration is appealing the federal court order that reinstated DACA. It is very important that those who now qualify to renew DACA apply as soon as possible. Below are the guidelines in effect:

  • Individuals whose DACA status expired on or after September 5, 2017, may now file a renewal request with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Individuals whose DACA expired before September 5, 2017, or whose DACA was previously terminated, may request DACA. However, the request must be filed as an initial request with all of the supporting evidence showing the person meets the DACA eligibility requirements as initially laid out by the Obama administration in the June 2012 memo.
  • Individuals who never received DACA may not submit a renewal or an initial request.

The bipartisan Dream Act was first introduced in 2001. Congress still has not acted to protect this group of young people even though the majority of constituents and members of Congress support measures to protect Dreamers. Many individuals held hope that the latest government shut down would fuel Congress to finally act, but the latest deal did not address the Dream Act and instead moved it to the Senate’s February agenda. Not only are Dreamers standing by for Congress to act, but they also hold hope that when Congress does act, it will be by passing a “clean” Dream Act. So, what options are on the table? Below is a list of proposed legislation affecting Dreamers.

The 2017 Dream Act has the most bipartisan support. It provides a pathway, albeit a long pathway, to citizenship for Dreamers who came to the country before the age of eighteen, have been physically present in the United States for at least four years, meet certain educational requirements, have not been convicted of certain enumerated crimes, and who are not subject to certain grounds of “inadmissibility” listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Such qualifying individuals may apply to become Conditional Permanent Residents (CPR). Then, after complying with another list of conditions, including meeting a developmental milestone, such as obtaining a college degree, two years of service in the military, or three years of employment, the CPR may apply for the coveted “green card” or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. Once the individual has been an LPR for five years, he or she becomes eligible to naturalize to become a U.S. citizen.

The BRIDGE Act does not provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, but allows individuals who came to the United States before 16 years of age and who were born on or after June 15, 1981, to apply provisional protected presence (PPP). The individual must also comply with certain educational, physical presence, and security requirements. PPP is valid for three years after the date of enactment of the BRIDGE Act.

The American Hope Act of 2017 provides a pathway to citizenship by allowing those who entered the country before the age of 18, have not been convicted of a crime which makes him or her inadmissible, and who have continuous physical presence in the United States since December 31, 2016, to apply for CPR status. After three years in CPR status, the applicant may then apply for LPR status. Once the applicant has obtained five years in status (CPR or LPR) he or she may then apply to naturalize to become a U.S. citizen. There is no education or employment requirement in the Hope Act.

The Recognizing America’s Children Act provides a pathway to citizenship by allowing those who entered the U.S. prior to the age of 16, received a high school diploma or went to college, have employment authorization, and who have not been convicted of certain crimes to apply for CPR status. After five years in CPR status, individuals may apply to extend such status if they meet certain requirements including graduating from an institution of higher education, working for 48 months, or being on active duty for at least three years. Once CPR status is renewed, the CPR may then apply for LPR status. After five years in LPR status, the individual may then apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen.

The SUCCEED Act provides a pathway to citizenship by allowing individuals who entered the country before the age of 16, were born after June 15, 1981, and have been physically present in the United States since 2012 to apply for CPR status. CPR status will be granted for five years. To qualify for naturalization, the CPR must be in CPR status for 10 years, then apply for LPR status, then be in LPR status for another five years. While the individual is in LPR status, he or she may not petition for family members, which is a benefit all other LPRs enjoy. An additional downfall is that if the individual accepts CPR status and subsequently violates such status and is placed in removal (deportation) proceedings, he or she must agree to waive most forms of relief from removal.
For now, though, Dreamers wait and hope for favorable legislation.

My Employer Cancelled My Health Insurance

Man With Broken Arm Filling Health Insurance Claim Form

Have you been off work due to an inury and discovered that the private personal health insurance you had with your company was cancelled or terminated? Here are a few useful tips that may help you with your claim moving forward.

Your employer must notify you that they plan to terminate your private health insurance and give you the option to purchase COBRA coverage, which must be paid out of your own pocket if you chose to maintain insurance.

This has no bearing on your workers’ compensation claim because that involves a separate/different insurance plan altogether. If your employer paid for any portion of your health insurance but has now stopped, this may factor into your average weekly wage for purposes of your indemnity benefits. As a result, your average weekly wage may increase a bit to include the amount of the health insurance that your employer was paying on your behalf.

Does this mean they can stop your private health insurance? The short answer is yes, they can (even though you are off work due to an injury sustained at work). This is most unfortunate for employees that depend on their private health insurance to cover chronic issues, regular medications to keep them healthy, or even coverage for their spouse and dependents. Most employees can not afford to pay for the COBRA cost to continue this health insurance since it’s usually more than what they get in workers’ compensation benefits!

What can you do? Give us a call today so that we can offer you an evaluation to see if the termination of the health insurance coverage would affect the amount of your average weekly wages for purposes of your weekly benefits.

Social Security Moves Forward With Plan to Re-instate Reconsideration Level Appeal Nationwide

social securityThe SSA experimented with removing the reconsideration appeal level in 10 “proto-type states” for the last few years. Claimant’s living in these states were able to file a request for hearing immediately after receiving their initial denial. The elimination of the additional layer of appeal allowed claimant’s to have their cases heard in front of judges more quickly. However, the SSA is now repealing the program despite concerns from claimants and their representatives. The National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives has long supported the elimination of the reconsideration step of the disability process and devoting the resources to improve decisions made at the initial level. However, despite the opposition, the SSA is moving forward with reinstituting the reconsideration level by 2019.

This decision while not directly affecting Texas claimant’s, shatters hopes that the program would have been expanded thereby reducing the average claimant’s wait time for a disability determination.

As it stands now, processing times for the major hearing offices in Texas are as follows:

Ft. Worth – 505 days
Dallas Downtown – 522 days
Dallas North 407 Days
Houston North – 359 days
Houston – Bissonnet – 617 days
San Antonio – 478 days

These figures represent how long it takes for a claimant requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge to receive a decision on their disability. Now more than ever, it is imperative that you have an experienced, qualified and hardworking representative on your side when applying for disability. An experienced Bailey & Galyen attorney can make sure your paperwork and medical records are submitted timely, thereby eliminating wasteful delays and helping expedite your claim. If you are hurt, injured or otherwise impaired and unable to work, please contact us at Bailey & Galyen for a free case evaluation.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Family LawEvery year about this time people lose their minds. The Texas Legislature, through the Texas Family Code, has gone to great length’s to make the possession and access schedule as fair as possible and as clear as possible so as to minimize confusion and to ensure the child has time with both parents. But, every year parents get confused about the holiday schedules and feelings get hurt. I should also point out the focus of the family code is THE CHILD.

The first point to remember is that holiday (and summer) visitations trump weekend visitations. For example, this year Thanksgiving holiday began on a weekend that would ordinarily be the child’s time with the “visiting parent.” However, for many schools the Thanksgiving holiday began Friday November 16, 2018 at whatever time school let out. That means that although the visiting parent would have ordinarily had that weekend for visitation, because 2018 is an even year, and in even years the “home” parent has the Thanksgiving holiday, the visiting parent did not have the superior right to possession on the weekend beginning on the third Friday of November. Likewise, whenever school lets out for the Christmas break the “visiting parent’s” period of possession begins without regard to whose weekend it is.

I would like to point out that the holiday schedule contemplates Christian holidays and there are plenty of people who aren’t Christian culturally or practice. A qualified family law practitioner is likely to have several alternative visitation schedules for whatever your particular religion or culture celebrates. Additionally, the standard possession and access also has the most magical sentence.

THE PARTIES SHALL HAVE POSSESSION OF THE CHILD AT ALL TIMES MUTUALLY AGREED TO IN ADVANCE BY THE PARTIES. This means if the two parents can put aside your pride and concentrate on your children’s best interest, you can literally do whatever you want. Trust me on this, you will be happier and, more importantly, your children will be happier. I realize this may not be possible for everyone, but for those that can work together you should. Those who cannot should visit a qualified attorney who practices family law.

Slow Down

estate planningHave you seen the signs in various neighborhoods that advise, “Drive like your kids live here?” These signs want you to slow down and be more attentive and careful. So much hardship and disappointment could be avoided if people followed that advice in every aspect of life. Every week attorneys meet with people who wish they had been more contemplative and consulted with advisors before choosing a course of action. Inaction is a choice people make assuming they don’t have to make a choice.

Slowing down allows you to avoid the emotions of the moment that can interfere with good decision making. Slowing down can frustrate the schemes of those who try to defraud you by pushing you to immediate action. Slowing down helps you gain perspective and avoid some dangerous blind spots that are not apparent in the heat of the moment. “Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,” has been good advice since it was written many centuries ago.

After 30 plus years of practice, I am convinced that slowing down is one of the best strategies a lawyer can employ. People listen better, ask better questions, and allow time for clarity when they take a deep breath. As the holiday season approaches with the inevitably frantic year-end activities, take some time to think before you act.

Procrastinators may take this message as an affirmation and suffer the consequences of their inactivity. On the other hand, if you seek wise counsel, Bailey & Galyen looks forward to helping you!

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