Thursday, October 30, 2014

Aggressive Discovery Helps Car Accident Victim Obtain a High Six-Figure Settlement

We are often asked “am I required to hire a lawyer to represent me in obtaining compensation for injuries I sustained in a car accident”. The simple answer is “no”, but the question is more complex than a simple answer provides. While the car accident victim is not required to hire a lawyer, she or he is at a significant disadvantage by representing herself or himself. The insurance company will have experienced adjusters and lawyers representing the insurance company’s interests. Adjusters handle thousands of accident claims and received extensive training on how to evaluate and negotiate car accident settlements. The adjusters also have the ability to consult with lawyers who work for the insurance company and to provide them with much needed legal advice. This gives the insurance company is a significant advantage over the self-represented car accident victim during all phases of the case from investigating the claim through the settlement negotiations. The case described below demonstrates the advantage a car accident victim receives by hiring a lawyer to represent his/her against the insurance company.

Earlier this year, Hamblett & Kerrigan negotiated a high six-figure settlement for an injury victim as a result of an automobile accident in Massachusetts. The injury victim was traveling on 93-North in Somerville, Massachusetts on an early spring day, when an improperly secured ladder fell out of a pickup truck and onto the highway. In order to avoid striking the ladder, an unidentified vehicle swerved into the victim's lane. In an effort to avoid the swerving car, the victim swerved to the left and struck the jersey barrier in the median strip. As a result of the accident, the injury victim sustained serious injuries, including a herniated disc. Despite the injury victim's significant injuries, the insurance company for the pickup truck made a low six-figure settlement offer prior to filing a lawsuit. After rejecting the offer, Hamblett & Kerrigan filed a lawsuit on the injury victim's behalf in the Superior Court to collect for the injuries he sustained as a result of the automobile accident. Hamblett & Kerrigan proceeded with aggressively obtaining discovery from the defendant driver and his employer, and used the information obtained from the discovery to get the insurance company to offer a high six-figure settlement offer and resolving the case at mediation.

It is critically important for the injury victim's attorney to be willing to file suit when settlement negotiations do not result in fair compensation for his or her injuries. Even though the defendant's insurance company offered a low six-figure settlement prior to filing suit, the offer was still significantly lower than the injury victim's damages. We were able to educate the car accident victim on the value the claim to assist in making the decision to reject the insurance company’s settlement offer made prior to the filing of the lawsuit. We then used our knowledge and trial experience to obtain the necessary discovery to get the insurance company to reconsider their settlement posture and to offer the car accident victim a fair settlement.

If you have any questions regarding a car, automobile, motorcycle, pedestrian or truck accident, whether in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, please contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss. Let Hamblett & Kerrigan use their experience in representing injury victims to your advantage.

Kevin P. Rauseo is a director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. He concentrates his practice in the areas of family and divorce law, Collaborative law, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony, personal injury, insurance defense, slip and fall accidents, automobile and truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability, dog bites and civil litigation. He is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professional and serves on the Professional Development Committee and has previously served on the Public Education Advisory Panel of the Academy. He also is a member of the Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire. AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Recipient of the 2014 Nationally Ranked Top 10 Attorney Award from the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (NAFLA). You can reach Attorney Rauseo at krauseo@nashualaw.com.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hamblett & Kerrigan Expands Its Presence At The Seacoast

Hamblett & Kerrigan is pleased to announce that it has expanded its presence in the Seacoast area as it now offers appointments at two locations in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In an effort to better serve our Seacoast clientele, Hamblett & Kerrigan has the convenience of meeting with our clients at the following locations: 155 Fleet Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and The Pease International Tradeport, 1 New Hampshire Avenue, Suite 125, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. For 125 years Hamblett & Kerrigan has provided legal services throughout New Hampshire and New England, including many clients from the Seacoast.

We are excited to offer our existing Seacoast clients with the convenience and flexibility of meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, much closer to their businesses and homes. We are also excited about growing our Seacoast client base and offering our services to Seacoast individuals and businesses for whom it may not be convenient to travel to our main office in Nashua, New Hampshire.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with one of our attorneys at one of our locations in Portsmouth, please contact us now to schedule an appointment. We ask that our clients continue to direct all written communications to our Nashua office.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Child Support and Alimony in New Hampshire

Understanding Child Support

Child support is money paid for the support, maintenance and education of a child or children. It is paid on a regular basis, usually weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, by one parent to the other. Gifts, purchases of clothes, transportation, vacation expenses and payment of rent may not considered support, even though they benefit the child. The Court does not require the parent who receives support to account for the support, that is, to prove that each and every support dollar received is spent on the child/children.

Published statutory guidelines provide an estimate of the monthly support the Court will grant under normal circumstances. The support obligation is based on the number and ages of the children and the net income of the parties. Net income is determined by subtracting the Federal and State withholding taxes, Social Security withholding and cost of dependent health insurance from the gross monthly income. The Court does, however, have the power to award more or less than the statutory guideline amount upon a showing of exceptional circumstances.

Support orders issued by the Court are statutorily required to provide for the assignment of wages. This means that, unless there is some exception that is applicable, the court will issue automatically an order to the paying spouse's employer directing that the support amount be deducted from the employee's paycheck and sent directly to the state agency in charge of enforcement or to the person to receive the support. The exceptions to this rule are: (1) where there is an agreement between the parties which has been approved by the court; and (2) where the court issues a written order that there is good cause not to require immediate assignment.

The first months of separation are very important in establishing patterns of support payments. The parent receiving support should expect support to be paid in full and on time. The parent paying child support should always pay by check or money order and indicate the payment for "Child Support for (month) , (year) ." For example, "Child Support November 2014."

Support will cease when the child reaches age eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever is later. The parties may, by agreement, make provisions for the child's education beyond age eighteen, until the child completes a college education or reaches age twenty-one. However, the Court will not impose such a requirement in the absence on an agreement between the parties.

Modification of Child Support

The support obligation may be modified subsequent to the initial order. However, a request for modification will only be heard by the Court if at least one of two factors is present: (a) there has been a "substantial change in circumstances" which makes the current child support award unfair; or (b) three years have passed since the child support award was entered. Remarriage of either parent does not automatically change the support obligation.

Enforcing a New Hampshire Child Support Award in Another State

A New Hampshire Decree granting support is enforceable in other states based on the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution. If the parent paying child support leaves New Hampshire and fails to comply with the support Order, the non-payment of support may be referred to an attorney for enforcement, or referred to the appropriate state agency for enforcement under the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act.

Alimony

Alimony is often referred to as spousal support and spousal maintenance. It can be awarded to either spouse. Permanent alimony is generally reserved for cases of lengthy marriages, illness of one party or other unusual circumstances. Alimony generally ceases when the recipient remarries. It does not cease when the payor remarries. Alimony may be awarded for a limited period, often six to twenty-four months, to allow one party to finish an education or adjust to single life.

Unlike child support, the amount of an alimony award is reserved to the Court's discretion. There are no statutory guidelines for determining alimony, and alimony will not be awarded in all cases. Some factors to be considered is determining the amount of alimony are: (a) each spouse's needs and ability to pay; (b) each spouse's age and health; (c) employability; (d) social or economic status; (e) liabilities of each spouse; (f) the duration of the marriage; and (g) the amount of property owned by each spouse.

There is no fixed rule by which the amount of alimony can be determined. Each case must be decided upon its own relevant facts in the light of what is fair and reasonable.

If you have any questions regarding child support and/or alimony, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss. The attorneys at Hamblett & Kerrigan have experience in handling such situations. Let Hamblett & Kerrigan use their experience to your advantage.

Kevin P. Rauseo is a director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. He concentrates his practice in the areas of family and divorce law, Collaborative law, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony, personal injury, insurance defense, slip and fall accidents, automobile and truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability, dog bites and civil litigation. He is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professional and serves on the Professional Development Committee and has previously served on the Public Education Advisory Panel of the Academy. He also is a member of the Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire. AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Recipient of the 2014 Nationally Ranked Top 10 Attorney Award from the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (NAFLA). You can reach Attorney Rauseo at krauseo@nashualaw.com.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Prompt Action is Required in Automobile Accident Cases

Being injured in an automobile accident is a traumatic and often life-changing event. While it is understandable that an injury victim should first be concerned about her health, addressing the legal issues involved in an automobile accident are important, especially in situations where the issue of speed is question. Speed is often a crucial factor in determining liability in car accident cases, whether you are attempting to impose liability on a person who hit you or defending a claim of negligence by someone whom you hit. Traditionally, the issue of speed was often proven by testimony of persons involved in the accident and sometimes by eye witness testimony or accident reconstruction experts. However, with the advancement of technology, many automobiles are equipped with a "black box" or other device which records crucial data such as speed immediately prior to an accident. Securing this information may often times be the critical difference in pursuing or defending an automobile liability case.

Accordingly, it is important that you take steps to secure and preserve the information contained in the black box as close to the accident as possible. There are various ways that this information can be protected, including promptly placing the other party and/or her insurance on notice to preserve the information contained in the black box or other device. If the opposing party does not preserve the information after receiving notice, then his or her failure to do so may result in civil liability or other sanctions.

If you have any questions regarding a car, automobile, motorcycle, pedestrian or truck accident, whether in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, please contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss. Let Hamblett & Kerrigan use their experience in representing injury victims to your advantage.

Kevin P. Rauseo is a director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. He concentrates his practice in the areas of family and divorce law, Collaborative law, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony, personal injury, insurance defense, slip and fall accidents, automobile and truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability, dog bites and civil litigation. He is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professional and serves on the Professional Development Committee and has previously served on the Public Education Advisory Panel of the Academy. He also is a member of the Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire. AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Recipient of the 2014 Nationally Ranked Top 10 Attorney Award from the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (NAFLA). You can reach Attorney Rauseo at krauseo@nashualaw.com.

Friday, October 24, 2014

OUSTER IN AN ADVERSE POSSESSION

In an adverse possession case, the party seeking to claim the disputed property must demonstrate 20 years of continued, uninterrupted use of the land. One defense to this claim is to show the adverse possessor’s use was interrupted at some point in that 20-year period. This is known as “ouster.” What constitutes ouster that is sufficient to halt the running of the adverse possession clock is an issue of fact to be resolved by the trial court.

In the recent Supreme Court case Gallo v. Traina, the Court defined ouster as an act “as such as would put a reasonable notice that their adverse possession claim has been halted. A mere casual entry for a limited purpose by the record owner is not necessarily sufficient to destroy the adverse possession.” In the Gallo case, the placement of a post and fence and occasional yard work did not interfere with the adverse possessor’s use of the land which included paving, plowing, and placing walls.

To respond to an adverse possession claim with the defense of ouster, the defending party must catalog as many actions that occurred in a disputed parcel with photographs and descriptions so that a court could find that the adverse possessor knew or should have known that some other person was making use of the disputed land.

If you have any questions regarding adverse possession, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss. The attorneys at Hamblett & Kerrigan have experience in handling such situations. Let Hamblett & Kerrigan use their experience to your advantage.

Andrew J. Piela is a Director at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. Mr. Piela concentrates his practice in civil litigation, family law, probate and land use litigation. You can reach Attorney Piela by e-mail at apiela@nashualaw.com.