April 22, 2019

Distracted driving study reveals growing road safety issue

The results of a recent study suggest that drivers in Colorado and around the country spend an average of 13 minutes each day looking at their cellphone screens while behind the wheel. Root Insurance, which offers motorists discounts for not engaging in this potentially deadly behavior, commissioned a Virginia-based research firm to conduct the online poll.Previous research into distracted driving has revealed that most motorists have an inflated view of their own behind-the-wheel skills and criticize others for behavior that they are often guilty of themselves. The Root Insurance study is no different. Almost 40% of the drivers polled admitted that even seeing a police car in their rear-view mirrors was not enough to convince them to put their phones down, but 90% considered themselves to be more skilled than Uber or Lyft drivers.The respondents also admitted to using their phones for more than making or receiving calls. Over half admitted to using their smartphones to type texts or send emails while driving, and one-third confessed to using their devices to post on social media or read posts. A worrying 18% of the drivers polled said that they even use their cellphones to watch videos while behind the wheel.One of the challenges facing police accident investigators is that distraction leaves no obvious physical clues. However, electronic records may reveal that a distracted motorist was not paying attention when they crashed. If the events suggest that distraction may have been a factor but police investigations fail to reach firm conclusions, an experienced personal injury attorney may use subpoenas to access wireless service and internet usage data. Legal counsel could ultimately help a crash victim obtain compensation for crash-related damages.

April 8, 2019

Changes in divorce and custody over the decades

If parents in Colorado who are getting a divorce must go to court to reach an agreement on child custody and visitation, it is likely that the judge will be amenable to both shared legal custody and an arrangement that allows the father far more time with the child than he might have had in the past. This is part of a shift over the past several decades toward fathers spending more time with their children after a divorce or separation.

Fathers who were never married and who have lower incomes are less likely to seek custody than higher-income fathers who were married. However, when the former group does seek access to their children, they are more likely to be granted it than they were in previous years. Another significant shift in how divorce plays out today compared to earlier decades is that parents are more likely to reach an amicable agreement through mediation instead of going to litigation.

According to one professor who specializes in family law, divorce laws began to change in the 1960s and 1970s along with the rising divorce rate. However, although it became less difficult to obtain a no-fault divorce, courts still worked off the assumption that children were better off with their mothers. Today, shared physical custody may still present some logistical complications, but it is far more common.

Parents who are negotiating child custody and visitation may consider a variety of different arrangements. Some parents find that having the child go back and forth on alternate weeks works well for them. A few families have even tried an approach called “nesting,” in which the parents take turns living in the family home with the children who are there full-time. However, most people find that this works best as only a short-term solution as children adjust to the divorce.

March 27, 2019

How a DUI conviction negatively impacts your employment

Should you find yourself facing DUI charges while in Colorado on spring break or at any other time, you will definitely want to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to aggressively defend you in court. The last thing you need is a DUI conviction on your record that will follow you for years as you attempt to establish your career and move ever upward through the employment world.Unfortunately, a DUI conviction could end your employment dreams before you even begin to fulfill them. Should your ambition entail practicing medicine, law or any of the other professions, the state licensing board could refuse to grant you the professional license you need to practice in your chosen profession if it discovers that your record contains a criminal conviction. In addition, should the job you apply for requires a Commercial Driver’s License, you likely will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain one once you receive a DUI conviction.Employment background checksWhen you apply for a job, your prospective employer almost assuredly will run a background check on you. Not only will your criminal conviction come to light, but many or all of the following may well, too:

  • Records of any incarceration you served as a result of your DUI or other criminal conviction(s)
  • Records from the court(s) that tried you for DUI or other criminal charges
  • Driving records from the state(s) where you became convicted of DUI or other traffic-related offense(s)
  • Records from the state(s) where your driver’s license became suspended or revoked
  • The Facebook and other social media posts you and/or your family and friends posted about your arrest and/or conviction

Once the background check reveals all these negative things about you, your chances of obtaining employment plummet. Rightly or wrongly, many employers refuse to hire someone with a criminal conviction on his or her record if they have other applicants whose records are clean.

March 25, 2019

Diagnostic mistakes commonly linked to medical malpractice

When Colorado residents go to the doctor, they may be at risk for a misdiagnosis that could put their health or even their lives at further risk. According to one study carried out by an insurance company, 46 percent of closed medical malpractice claims were related to an incorrect diagnosis or the failure to diagnose a serious, progressive illness. Even more significantly, 68 percent of paid malpractice claims were related to the diagnostic process, and 45 percent of these cases involved the death of the patient.A misdiagnosis can be particularly dangerous when a condition like cancer is involved. Early detection and treatment can be critical to survival. Therefore, the failure to diagnose cancer can introduce damaging delays that make it impossible to properly treat the condition. In other cases, patients may undergo treatments that are unnecessary and harmful, given that they did not have the condition for which they were treated.In a second study by an insurance company, 38 percent of all medical malpractice claims involving children in the past decade were also linked to misdiagnoses. In many cases, these medical mistakes were related to an improper or insufficient medical examination by the treating doctor. Physicians may not order appropriate tests and may not interpret the results correctly. In other cases, they may not conduct a full physical examination or take a thorough family history. The National Academy of Medicine said in 2015 that mistakes in diagnosis might be the third most common reason for deaths among hospital patients.People who have suffered a worsened health condition due to a doctor’s error may face escalating medical bills and a compromised quality of life. A medical malpractice attorney can review a patient’s case and determine the potential for seeking compensation for the damages suffered as a result of a misdiagnosis.
March 11, 2019

Claiming children on taxes after a divorce

When spouses in Colorado decide to divorce, they may wonder how the end of the marriage will affect their income tax filings. Of course, people will begin filing again as single rather than married, but claiming dependents can be a more complicated process. In some cases, both parents want to claim a child as a dependent on their taxes. The parent who can claim the child as a dependent will access credits like the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit as well as be eligible to file as the Head of Household.In many cases, parents specify who can claim the children as dependents in the divorce or custody agreement. If the parents have two or more children, they may distribute dependent status between both parents as part of the agreement. However, when families do not make this decision for themselves, the IRS has to make it for them. In this case, the tax agency will use several factors to assess the validity of the claim. First, parents have a higher priority than non-parents. Second, the parent with whom the children live the longest can claim them. If the parents have shared or equal custody, the ex with the higher income would receive the priority, assuming they have actually provided more support.The IRS does not mediate these disputes for parents. In general, the first person to file a claim will receive the credits and the second will have the return rejected. An additional step would be necessary for the IRS to decide.There are a number of factors that can complicate divorce, especially for parents. A family law attorney can help divorcing parents reach an agreement about a range of legal issues, from tax filing concerns to child custody.

February 25, 2019

Prenups and other ways to protect a business from divorce

A business can represent a significant emotional, financial and time investment for its owner, so protecting it in case of a divorce can be important. One way a business owner in Colorado can do this is with a prenuptial agreement. A prenup that specifies that the business is separate property can mean the intrusive and expensive process of valuing the business for property division purposes can be avoided entirely.A prenup might also state that the spouse is to receive a certain percentage of the company’s value. If both spouses own the business, they may want a prenup that says they will continue to be co-owners if there is a divorce, or they may want it to specify which party will buy out the other. If the couple is already married, a post-nuptial agreement can serve the same purpose.Some people prefer to use the company’s organizing documents to establish that the business cannot be transferred if there is a divorce. It is also important to keep good financial records and to be able to clearly demonstrate that business expenses were kept separate from marital expenses. Funding sources and all transactions, including cash ones, should be documented. Spouses who work for the company should be paid market rates to reduce the likelihood that the spouse can later claim to have contributed to the company’s value.While a prenuptial agreement may cover property, parents will still have to reach an agreement regarding child custody and support if they have children. However, this does not mean that ending up in family law court is inevitable. Many couples are able to successfully negotiate both property division and child custody without turning to litigation. Even if the couple is experiencing conflict, mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods may help them resolve it and come to an agreement that satisfies them.

February 19, 2019

The link between payroll and child support

In 2017, $24.4 billion in child support payments were collected through payroll deductions in Colorado and throughout the country. During that year, a total of $32.4 billion in support payments were collected from all sources. The agency collects $5.33 for every dollar it spends to operate its internet portal program, according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement’s (OCSE) office commissioner. However, the OCSE is looking for other ways to become even more efficient.There were 67,458,725 new hire reports in 2017. Employers are required to file them in a timely manner after bringing on a new employee, and they are used to determine if money needs to be withheld for child support. In addition to reporting new hires, employers can also report if lump-sum payments are made to workers or if certain individuals no longer work for the company.It is possible that the internet portal program will grow in the future. However, the OSCE is waiting to see if it would actually lead to greater efficiency. According to the OSCE’s commissioner, the child support system works best when payroll departments act as willing partners. He also said that it only works when there is a system that makes it easier to distribute money earned by a noncustodial parent.Individuals who are seeking child support payments may want to consider hiring a family law professional. Such an individual may be able to help custodial parents determine if their children’s other parents are working and where. It may also help facilitate the transfer of payments from one parent to the other. If a noncustodial parent is not making payments as ordered, it may be possible for an attorney to take steps to resolve the matter either in court or through other means.
January 30, 2019

2 key factors to consider when facing a DUI charge

If you happen to be a tourist who ends up with a DUI charge in Breckenridge, you may want to think twice before you put the situation out of mind. DUI charges are nothing to make light of, especially if you are a tourist. Though you might not be a local area resident, a DUI charge will follow you throughout your life. It goes on your criminal record where employers and other parties can see it, and it may make it harder for you to qualify for federal and public benefits and programs.Habitual DUI offenders face felony charges and up to six years behind bars. Even if this is your first time facing criminal charges, it is vital for you to consider the following pointers on mitigating them.1. Avoid self-incriminationPart of an effective DUI charge defense is to keep quiet so you do not say anything that might come back to haunt you in court. This includes any information that you supply to law enforcement and how you handle your affairs leading up to your day in court. Your statements can mean all the difference in whether you overcome the situation or spend time behind bars, pay hefty fines and restitution, install an interlock ignition on your vehicle and receive a criminal conviction on your record. A first-time DUI offense can even affect your livelihood and freedom.

2. Do not assume guilt

Contrary to common belief, sobriety testing devices that law enforcement uses in the field are not infallible. They can give false positive and abnormally high blood alcohol content readings when law enforcement does not properly administer or calibrate them. Also, your words and actions at the time of your arrest may be a part of the evidence substantiating your DUI charge. Until you have your day in court, you are innocent. You have the right to call into question the accuracy and reliability of any evidence and sobriety testing equipment as part of your defense.

DUI charges, whether drug or alcohol-related, are nothing to ignore. Everyone makes mistakes. What you do about that mistake is what will ultimately determine the outcome.

January 28, 2019

Distracted driving statistics spark concern

A new study is raising the alarm about the threat posed by distracted driving in Colorado. The research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit organization funded by insurance companies, compared distracted driving surveys conducted in 2014 and 2018. Of course, self-reported surveys are always vulnerable to errors and omissions, especially underreporting of known dangerous behavior. Still, many drivers admitted to being distracted while operating their vehicles, including using their mobile phones.The trends reflected in the study also indicate general social changes in the way that people communicate. Fewer drivers used their handheld mobile phones for voice conversations in the 2018 results, but there was a 56 percent increase in the number of people who reported texting or surfing the internet while behind the wheel. These results are troubling as texting and driving is linked to more serious car accidents. In 2017 alone, 800 people lost their lives in crashes linked to distracted drivers who were texting or surfing. The risk of a fatal crash goes up by 66 percent when drivers manipulate a phone by hand. While the general number of distracted driving reports remained the same, the types of distraction grew more severe.In addition, distracted driving is not limited to the influence of the smartphone or tablet. Drivers may have their attention shifted from the roadway by noisy children, eating or even built-in entertainment consoles.The consequences of distracted driving can be particularly serious for others on the road injured in motor vehicle accidents. Someone hurt in a crash due to another party’s negligent or distracted driving can work with a personal injurylawyer to pursue compensation for damages.
January 14, 2019

The divorce of the ultra-wealthy

Even though plenty of individuals in Colorado go through a divorce every year, the entire process can be a very different experience based on how much a couple is worth. The simplest case in point is that wealthy soon-to-be divorcees have very different concerns than what might ail the everyday individual.Of the many differences, a few stand out. The first relates to the assets being split up. A wealthy couple has a plethora of financial and real assets, including stocks, options, and art collections, all of which add to the value of the couple. This, in turn, makes the divorce proceedings all the more complicated. The second difference lies in alimony payments. Normally, this would be a point of contention between a couple going through a divorce. However, when a couple is splitting up and each party is walking away with a few million dollars, neither party needs support payments. With this in mind, despite men usually taking away more money, women tended to fare well enough that they didn’t need any alimony checks.