What Are the Most Common Forms of Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to innovations of the mind, such as inventions, scholarly and creative works, patterns and marks, names and likenesses used in trade and business. All IP is protected by the various laws in existence locally, regionally nationally, and internationally. Laws exist for patents, trademarks, copyright, service marks, trade secrets and more.

What is a Patent?

A patent is an absolute right granted for an invention, which is a product or a method that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or proposes a new specialized solution to a problem. To obtain a patent, methodological information about the invention must be revealed to the public in a patent application. The process for obtaining a patent is complex. If you are interested in obtaining a patent, you should first visit this website: The US Patent and Trademark Office. Once you have begun to understand this process and the associated laws you can apply for a patent. However, keep in mind this is a complex process and using an attorney specializing in patents would be the best avenue to use.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a legal term used to illustrate the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Creations covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, films, computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, technical drawings, and more. Copyright is not a complex IP to apply for and most people can easily complete a form and submit their work. Be sure to visit the Copyright Office online to learn everything you need to apply for a copyright, including fees, what to submit, etc: US Copyright Office.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a sign which distinguishes between goods or services of one company from those of other companies. Trademarks are safeguarded by intellectual property rights. Trademark protection can be obtained through registration, by completing an application for registration via the trademark office and paying the required fees. The website is the same as for patents.

What is a Service Mark?

A service mark is a mark that distinguishes between services. Businesses use service marks to connect their services and differentiate them from other services in the same field. Service marks consist of letters, words, symbols, and other devices that help notify consumers about the origin or source of a particular service. Registration can be completed at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

What is a Trade Secret?

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”) classifies a trade secret as: information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that produces independent economic value. These secrets are either tangible or impending, and generally are not known or easily discovered by other persons who might receive monetary value from its revelation or use; and is the focus of efforts that are logical under the conditions to preserve its secrecy. There are two basic situations in which acquiring the use of a trade secret is illegal. If a trade secret is acquired through illegal means or if through a breach of confidence then there is a legal standing for suit. Trade secrets may be obtained by lawful means such as private discovery, reverse engineering, and unintentional disclosure. The trade secret holder’s failure to take reasonable protective measures can allow this to occur. The misappropriation of trade secrets is considered a form of unfair competition. Reverse engineering is oftentimes restricted as found in computer programs.

What is Industrial Design?

An industrial design right is an intellectual property right that shields the visual design of objects that are not purely functional. An industrial design consists of the creation of a model, pattern or composition of a pattern or color, or permutation of a pattern and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value. An industrial design can be a two- or three-dimensional prototype used to produce a product, industrial commodity or handicraft.

What is Trade Dress?

Trade dress is a legal term of art that generally refers to characteristics of the illustration of a product or its packaging or the design of a building that signifies the origination of the product to consumers.

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a partial and that changes the purpose, such as to comment upon, disparage, or lampoon a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. Fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement.

Commentary and Criticism

If you are commenting upon or criticizing a copyrighted work a book review or any valid review, fair use principles allow you to replicate some of the work to accomplish your purposes.

These are the most common forms of intellectual property. If you decide that something you have created falls under one of the categories stated in this article, then you should look into registering the work or product. Be certain that what you are registering is not the same as what someone else has already registered.

Posted in Law

How Digital Technologies Improve Filmmaking

Breaking into the current film industry holds a greater challenge compared to classic filmmaking. The digital era has certainly catered to the universal passion of moviemakers for making motion pictures. Today, digital technology changed the way how movies are made. Digital filmmaking opened new opportunities and possibilities to filmmakers of both small indie films and big budget blockbuster films. This also includes the same way that copyright infringement software protects these films. Therefore, if you’re a filmmaker, whatever outcome or type of film you want to accomplish, you can play around using the latest technological advances.

Digital Vs. Traditional

In general, films are extremely flammable yet they are quite expensive. Directors have to look for major studios that could invest a big amount needed to produce a movie. As for digital filmmaking, the digital motion picture cameras may be expensive, but it is a significant investment.

Digital filmmaking is a type of filmmaking where you use digital cameras or a computer to create characters, environments and other extensive features. Digital storage has reduced and simplified the costs of making movies. Compared to films, storage in digital cameras cost less, lasts longer and is safer. Over a long period of time, films degrade and will actually decompose. Improper storage and protection may destroy the print of the film which ultimately results to losing classic movies forever.

The move from celluloid to digital has opened up huge opportunities for special effects resulting to the growth of fantasy movies and science fiction. Film characters are not limited to explore only our world. Now, filmmakers have the tools to visually depict imaginary worlds with digital technology. Movies feature computer generated imagery (CGI) while some combine both CGI and live action using revolutionary new motion-capture techniques. As a result, movie creations are more out of this world than ever.

As we’ve gone digital, the public’s movie experience has become a lot different. In the past, everyone was used to watching films without color. Each motion picture was black and white. But at present, anyone can enjoy a movie in full color with surround sound. They can even have a 3D experience if they choose to. The number of options given to every movie goer is just one of the things that prove that filmmaking has really improved.

Aside from the internet, the widespread use and application of digital technologies are shaping the future of film. At present, the way movies are consumed and distributed has also changed. People can stream or download the videos, and with video-on-demand services like Netflix, everyone can watch their favorite shows and movies whenever they like. Unfortunately, some people choose to share copyrighted materials without the owners’ permission, which is illegal. When you download a movie, you are stealing from the content owner’s compensation. So, content owners and their partners use copyright infringement software to detect any digital piracy.

Posted in Law

How to Come Up With Your Best Legal Move for Copyright Cases

Whether you’re the alleged infringer or the copyright owner, calculating damages for a copyright infringement case is critical in determining your potential legal strategy. To analyse, the first thing to consider is if the pirated work has been registered with the copyright office. Registered works are afforded greater protection and these registration records can be found in a free online database. To access the copyright registration records, you need to go to the Copyright Office website.

Statutory and Actual Damages

Your best legal strategy is not only determined by the best copyright infringement software. Read on to know more about the types of calculated damages that could just help determine what works well for your case.

Statutory damages are often higher than actual damages and they are easier to calculate. So the majority of plaintiffs or content owners usually choose to pursue for statutory damages. For illegal filesharing cases for example, actual damages per pirated song may be around $1; however, statutory damages could go up to $20,000 or more.

Regardless of the actual damages suffered by the content owner, the amount of statutory damages is set by law. Each infringement usually range from $750 to $30,000, but damages for “innocent infringers” can go as low as $200 and up to $150,000 if the court determines that the defendant acted “wilfully”. The courts do not award damages outside this range and they consider the purpose of the infringing use, the value of the infringed work, and the infringer’s intent or state.

Aside from statutory damages, plaintiffs can also ask for attorney’s fees and if awarded, the infringer will owe them the total sum or part of the legal fees plus the fees of their own lawyer. Although attorney’s fees are awarded through the discretion of the court, unregistered copyright is never allowed to ask for attorney’s fees.

Plaintiffs pursue actual damages when their infringed work was not registered prior to the infringement. This type of damage is the calculable profit the infringer has gained from infringing the copyrights or monetary loss that the content owner has suffered.

Proper Analysis

Aside from getting a better understanding of the strength of your copyright infringement case, proper analysis of the potential damages plays an important role in determining a legal strategy. Calculating damages for copyright infringement is just one of the things involved in determining a person’s rights under the copyright law.

Most copyright cases do not go to trial and some defendants even choose to settle as the cost of a court case is already high, and added legal fees could possibly grow larger too. So, if you feel like your work has been infringed, talk to a copyright entity. They can help you identify the individual specifics that you will need to determine to come up with the best legal actions. Also, they use high-quality copyright infringement software to track pirates.

Posted in Law

Personal Injury Should Be Well Taken Care Of

If there is ever a situation where a person is suffering terribly from an injury, disability or in worse case scenarios, even death, mostly due to a careless negligence of an individual, in such cases, the personal injury law covers these instances and extends its hand for help.

A severe injury can cost an individual to shell out a lot of money, sometimes an amount that the individual might not even be capable of paying, if you opt for a personal injury claim in such desperate moments then you are eligible to seek some compensation for the injury you have faced and the payment gets taken care of because of the claim.

Mostly this law covers all the kinds of injury that can possibly take place, these injuries can be of any type. It can either be something that can cause a lot of harm to your body or it can make you face some kind of emotional trauma as well. It can be anything and at anytime and having a claim especially for these kinds of injuries will help you in emergencies.

Be alert and be careful of every step you take.

Let us have a look at some of the tips that can help you get this claim:

• DO NOT DELAY TO GET SOME MEDICAL ATTENTION

The first and foremost step that you need to take when you get an injury is to seek out for medical help immediately and instantly. Do not under any circumstances delay that step because the more you delay it, the more serious it can get, therefore seek out for some medical help as soon as you find yourself in such a situation.

• BE CAREFUL OF THE STATEMENTS YOU MAKE

Be absolutely confident and clear in what you say in the accident scene. Do not say anything that might make the situation much more complicated than it already is or give rise to some kind of a conflict. Be clear in what you have to say and keep it straight when asked about it. This will help in dealing with the process much quickly.

• KEEP A CHECK ON ALL THE EXPENSES

This would include all the bills in the hospital. Be it expense bills; diagnose bills, medical bills or any other tests that you might have undergone. Have a record of all the expenses because it might be asked for when you go to claim for compensation. You can also keep a record of some lost wages that you might have faced due to missing work. Keep a track of everything.

Posted in Law

7 Common Immigration Mistakes To Be Avoided

While applying for immigration benefits, there are some common mistakes people make, but can be avoided. These mistakes can sometimes cause serious trouble at the end of the road, like not being able to reunite with their family, loss of both the application filing fee and the immigration fee, being deported and inability to re-enter the US. So, caution must be taken to avoid these simple mistakes listed below.

1. Providing Incorrect information:

When applying for immigration benefits, it is necessary to provide all the right information. This is right from the point where the immigration forms are filed. Fraudulent information or misrepresenting any facts for obtaining the immigration benefits must be avoided.

2. Late Responses to USCIS queries:

If the US Citizenship and Immigration Services needs any additional information for processing any immigration application, it sends a Request for Evidence (RFE) to the applicant. This request has to be replied with sufficient documentation within the stipulated deadline. Ignoring or missing the deadline for the RFE can lead to denial of the application.

3. Immigration Interviews and Court Hearings:

Attending the interviews set up by the USCIS and the court hearings is very important in the process of granting an immigration. Ignoring these interviews and court hearings can also lead to the application being rejected.

4. Filing application without the fee:

USCIS forms usually have a processing fee. Fee waiver is also available for most forms. Those who cannot afford to pay the fees, can send the application along with a request for fee waiver. USCIS does not process any application which does not have the fee or the proper fee waiver request.

5. Send the application to the wrong office:

The instruction form along with the application should be read carefully. The address to which the application form should be sent to is given clearly in the instruction form. The application must be sent to the correct address to avoid delay where the application is either returned to the sender or sometimes forwarded to the right address.

6. Not everyone who applies is successful:

Some of the applicants, even though they do not meet the criteria for immigration benefits, simply apply because their friends or relatives have applied and have obtained the benefits. Every applicant is evaluated and not everyone who applies is eligible for the benefit. Reading the instruction forms thoroughly clarifies the eligibility criteria and provides newer options available.

7. Eligibility:

Applying for an immigration benefit for which they are not eligible is a very common mistake. Reading the Instruction Form before applying and checking for an individual’s eligibility can be done before applying.

Posted in Law

The Do’s and Don’t of Workplace Injury Claims

When an employee is injured while on the clock, they have the option of accepting workers’ compensation benefits through their job. These benefits are meant to help cover the cost of the damages and losses incurred as a result of the accident. This may include lost wages, hospital bills, medical expenses, prolonged therapy, and more. If you were recently injured at work, it is in your best interest to learn what you can about workplace accidents and injury claims so that you may make the right decisions regarding your physical and financial recovery.

If you have not been injured at work, it is still wise to learn these tips so that you are prepared if it ever happens to you or someone you love. Continue reading to learn what you should and should not do in the case that you are injured at work and considering workers’ compensation.

Here’s What You Should Not Do:

Do not hide your injury or fail to report it.

Do not decline medical attention. This can be harmful to you both physically and in terms of filing a claim.

Do not let the company’s case manager into your hospital examination room while you are with the doctor if you do not want them in there.

Do not let the workers’ compensation insurance carrier take too long to approve or deny your injury claim. There are state laws that mandate when they must respond. It is usually within 30 days after the claim is officially filed.

Do not believe your employer if they tell you there is a “minimum period” of employment that you must retain in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. You are entitled to benefits immediately, no matter your length of employment.

Do not miss or reschedule any appointments that are made by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Missing too many appointments can revoke your right to certain benefits.

When you return to work, do not let your employer place you into a line of duty that violates your work restrictions.

Here’s What You SHOULD Do:

Report your injury immediately, whether you think you need medical care or not.

Demand that a written accident report is made on the spot and be sure to get a copy for yourself.

Immediately seek or accept medical attention.

Retain all paperwork and documentation of your accident, injuries, and medical care. Keep track of all the written restrictions and instructions given to you by your doctor.

If your employer makes any retaliations or threats in regards to your claim, contact the Department of Labor immediately and report the harassment.

If you are unsatisfied with your medical treatment or diagnosis, ask for a second opinion.

If you are denied certain benefits due to a “pre-existing condition”, be sure to protest with the help of a licensed personal injury lawyer.

Posted in Law

Did You Leave The Scene Of An Accident Even Though You Were Not At Fault?

State law in Ohio requires each person involved in a crash on a public road or parking lot to report the incident to police. The hit-and-run statute also imposes legal duties to remain on the scene, speak with investigators, alert emergency medical personnel when injuries occur, and, when possible, provide first aid to people who got hurt in the wreck.

The rules apply equally to the person who causes the crash and the victims. One of the implications of this is that victims of hit-and-run collisions can get charged with driving off after a wreck. Another is that failing to call in a crash can greatly complicate the insurance claims process, in large part because no official police report will get generated.

Do understand, however, that leaving a note on a parked car can protect an at-fault driver. Likewise, a person who comes back to a damaged car will not face problems for failing to report the incident immediately after it happened. When a hit-and-run involves an unoccupied vehicle, some leeway is allowed.

How a Victim Can Face Blame for a Hit and Run

Picture a four vehicle pile up at an intersection. A truck driver set off the chain reaction by failing to brake in time while approaching a red light. He slams into the back of a car, pushing it into the path of traffic crossing from a side street with a green light. If both the truck driver and the person in the car take off without checking on people in the other cars, without giving statements and insurance information to law enforcement officers, and without calling 911, both can be charged with the offense that Ohio courts call leaving the scene of an accident.

Problems With Hit-Skip Victim-Blaming

Even though the person driving the vehicle was a victim of the truck driver’s negligence or recklessness, the person has to comply with the hit-and-run law in order to avoid possible criminal consequences. The victim might have panicked or just assumed that he or she did not need to stick around because the truck driver was clearly at fault. Police and the court would not be inclined to accept either excuse at face value, so hiring a hit-and-run defense lawyer would be a good idea for the driver.

Beyond the legal concern, remaining on the scene would spare the driver from coming under suspicion of causing any part of the wreck and inflicting any injuries. Simply getting accused of instigating a hit-and-run collision can make filing and collecting on insurance claims impossible. Insurers will work hard to deny claims from a driver they believe to be at fault.

Speaking with a lawyer who does hit-and-run defense can help in a situation like this. The attorney will be able to organize and present evidence to support the victim’s right to make claims. The lawyer could also use evidence to explain why leaving the scene of the accident would be understandable and forgivable.

Posted in Law

The Basics of Acquiring a US Visa

It’s not uncommon to dream of visiting places you see in the movies. Let me guess, most of them are in the United States. To name a few, New York, LA, Miami, Washington and Chicago are some of the common tourist destinations in the US. You have the resources but you harbor this apprehension of being denied.

This should not stop you from making your travel plans a reality. If you have relatives in the US or you would like to travel solo, the key is to know what type of visa you must apply for, the necessary documents you must fill out, and more importantly, the purpose of your visit to the US.

First things first, know the difference between a US Visitor Visa (B-2) and a US Visa Sponsorship.

These two things are not the same.

The visitor visa often known as B-1/B-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa for people wishing to enter United States temporarily for pleasure, medical treatment, and business. In this case, you apply for your US Visa with the US Embassy or Consulate. Whereas, a U.S. visa sponsorship is applied for by the employer or close family member by filing an immigration petition with the U.S. government for getting a residency card (Green card) for their employee or close family member. This is also known as non-immigrant petitions such as work visa (e.g., H, L visa) as well as family visa (e.g., Fiancé or K visa).

What is the purpose of your visit?

You will be asked this question by the US consul who you will meet when you get to the embassy. But before that, determine the purpose of your trip. If the purpose of your trip is to visit USA for a short duration for pleasure, tourism, and visit relatives, family, or friends, then visitor visa known as Tourist visa to USA or B-2 visa is the right visa for you.

However, keep in mind that you if apply for a visitor’s visa, among other things, you must show to the US Consular officer that they have strong ties to the Philippines as you home country and they intend return after their temporary stay in the U.S. You must also show that you have enough money available to take care your expenses for your U.S. trip such as air tickets, visitors insurance, lodging/boarding, transportation expenses, tourism expenses and all other expenses.

What if I don’t have enough resources but my friends and relatives in the US are willing to shoulder my stay there?

Then this is where sponsorship sets in.

Who can sponsor my trip?

Any US-based person can sponsor visa for his/her parents, relatives, and friends. This means that he/she must either be a holder of an I-94 (US Green card) or a US Citizen. Your sponsor should provide an affidavit of support (form I-134). The form is a confirmation that the sponsor is ready to undertake the financial liability of the applicant during the visit.

What documents do I need to submit?

Must have Documents for US Visitor Visa interview:

  1. A valid passport that does not expire prior to 6 months beyond of your intended stay.
  2. Printout of your confirmation page from the form DS-160
  3. Fee receipt US Visa Fees
  4. One photograph
  5. Original/Copy of Visa interview appointment letter

Supporting documents to show your Ties with your home country include:

You must demonstrate strong economic, social, and familial ties with your home country. You must also show that you will not become a burden on US by proving your financial stability to cover the expenses in US. These facts will ensure the interviewing officer that you will return to your home country after the authorized period of stay in USA. The required documents are:
1. Evidence of sufficient funds for the visit to US (Bank statement and passbook, etc.)
2. Evidence to show that you have strong ties to your home country. Documents related to the property you own and your employment are good evidence
a. If you are employed get a verification letter of employment
b. If you are self-employed get a financial and other documentary proof of the ownership
c. If you are a government employee get a Certificate of Employment and an Authority to Travel Certification
d. Tax ID, and recent tax-related documents
e. Original property papers like house, shop or business ownership documents etc. which you own in the Philippines/home country. If no papers available, make a notarized affidavit for the same
f. Documentary evidence of running any business or organization
g. Evidence of family ties like unmarried children, old aged parents and other family responsibilities
h. If person is an employee, other than proof of employment and proof of leave granted from the office, any such document that would show proof that you have reasons to come back

Documents and other proofs aside, the assistance of an immigration counsel/consultant who would facilitate your application and better your chances of getting approved is strongly suggested and highly encouraged.

Posted in Law

How Car Accident Victims Can Improve Their Cases Before Their First Legal Consultation

Initial Impact

One oft-repeated phrase is, “it’s better read about than experienced for yourself.” Few maxims can better encapsulate what it’s like to be a victim of a car collision.

Like any paradigm shift in someone’s life, it’s often dramatic and sudden. The screeching of wheels, the scream of the unexpected, or the shot of unfamiliar adrenaline.

All such tragic events mark the beginning of a typical personal injury case. For simplicity’s sake, we will discuss a common car accident. This piece explores how a victim of circumstance can take control of their situation, and turn their misfortune into an opportunity to better their case and their chances of reasonable compensation.

Self-Assessment

After the initial shock and twisted metal, victims at the scene may be dazed and confused. Regardless of where you are on the road, examine yourself and passengers for injuries. If there are no visible injuries, do the obvious thing and move your vehicle to a safe location if you are blocking the road.

If anyone is injured, get medical help as soon as possible. Truth be told, calling 911 has the added benefit of documenting the incident for later insurance evaluation purposes. This is because the documentation generated from the call tends to indicate a propensity of a person being truly injured. While it may come across as callused, car accident cases – and other cases involving personal injury – are all about documentation.

Insurance claims representatives will even go so far as to reduce the value of a claim on not going to the emergency room, even if there are later objective findings indicating that an injury occurred. Injuries, such as cervical strain and sprain, tend to appear more than one to two days later after the “shot of adrenaline” wears off. However, it’s the documentation early on that is important.

Interaction With Law Enforcement

If police were summoned by a party contacting 911, documentation will again be generated. It is common that police, in addition to checking for injuries, may cite the at-fault driver for either a crime or a traffic infraction.

Keep in mind that a criminal case is the government (or, in Virginia, the “Commonwealth”) versus the defendant. A criminal case is about seeking justice. On the other hand, a personal injury case is about “being made whole again.” Until a magic wand is invented, that means the “bad guy” paying some form of compensation.

Before law enforcement makes a general “first look” at liability, they will gather evidence – including statements from other drivers and witnesses, as well as obtaining contact information. This information is crucial for a Virginia auto injury or car accident attorney to later help prepare a case.

Keep in mind that the initial police investigation is entirely separate from the civil process, which may, in turn, rely on documentation generated as a result of the crash investigation. Even should an officer believe that a person is at-fault in a collision, the other driver’s insurance company may come to an independent conclusion.

One final point is that calling for help may be legally required in some circumstances. In Virginia, assume that it is required if there is someone that is injured or visible property damage to the vehicles.

Document The Facts For Later

Feel free to be your own detective if you have not yet met with a personal injury lawyer.

Ask for the other driver’s name, address, telephone number, and insurance information. If there are other witnesses to the collision, ask for the same. Take pictures with your cell phone of the accident scene and the driver’s license, if provided.

It is perfectly normal and expected for you to provide your insurance information to the other driver, even if they were at-fault. We highly recommend to clients not to make statements to the other driver’s insurance company. They’re frequently very motivated to assign blame to someone other than their own insured.

Don’t be limited in pictures of property damage of the vehicles. If it’s safe and prudent to do so, take copious amounts of pictures of you and your passenger’s injuries. This includes bruising that may later develop.

By being your own detective, the insurance company for the other driver may not be so quick to turn a blind eye to the blame of their insured. Documenting (if safe and not obstructive) while still at the scene to show the location of the impact, road conditions, and the condition of the vehicles may be critical bits of evidence later that a personal injury attorney can later utilize.

A good law firm will use this evidence to help develop your case into the best it can be under the facts. If you don’t have any of this evidence don’t worry. In most cases a client doesn’t provide this information during initial intake. That said, the more information provided the better.

Seek Medical Treatment

In line with the need to call 911, if necessary, is the simple fact that you need to seek medical treatment if you are hurt in the collision or later develop conditions that didn’t exist the day of the accident.

It is critical that you go to every appointment scheduled with a health provider and do everything that they tell you to do. Top in the playbook of every insurance company is to highlight any and all delays or gaps in treatment and try to use that information to diminish the value of your claim.

This is even true if you don’t have health insurance at the time of the collision. It is highly important that if you don’t have health insurance that you waste no time in getting it. In addition to being legally required at the time of this writing, health insurance may cover tens of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in treatments.

Even if you have the most amazing case, not having health insurance means that the proceeds of any later settlement or trial goes to pay the providers when it could have gone to your pain and suffering that you had to endure as a result of the injuries.

As a slight caveat, under some circumstances the insurance company for the other driver may reduce any settlement offer by the amount paid by insurance. However, this depends on the state and an entirely different analysis. You’ll need to consult with a car accident lawyer in your state to determine if this applies.

Avoid Waiting Until The Last Minute To Seek Necessary Medical Treatment Or Blowing Off Your Appointments If They Are Recommended By A Treating Healthcare Professional

Whether it’s the day after the accident and you were discharged from the Emergency Room or it’s month three of physical therapy or chiropractic care, you need to keep your appointments. We cannot stress this enough.

Car insurance companies for the other driver will even go so far as to unjustly say that you’re faking your injuries. They may resort to this accusation if you stop going to your appointments or blow off treatment all-together before it has run it’s course. Frequently, soft tissue injuries can “flare up” if maintenance treatments do not continue until their natural conclusion.

Once upon a time, it was a socially-acceptable attribute for people to be “tough” and “suck it up” despite pain. That doesn’t appear to be a common thread in today’s negotiations with insurance companies, especially when it comes to auto-injury cases. If you feel a certain way, pursue treatment. We recommend to clients to keep a daily pain and inconvenience journal, so we can see how they are progressing in their treatment.

Lawsuit Time: “Let’s Get It On!”

While this article was limited to what a victim of car accident can do to improve their case prior to their first legal consultation, I would be remiss if I did not include one final bit of information: choose an attorney that isn’t afraid of going to trial. If you don’t get the settlement offer that you are looking for (and is reasonable given prior settlements or verdicts), a knowledgeable Virginia car accident attorney would have no qualms about filing a lawsuit and making a request for appropriate damages to the judge or jury.

If, after negotiation with the insurance company and discussion with my client, we don’t get a settlement offer that is reasonable, then it may be time to file a lawsuit.

Occasionally, it may be advisable to cut the claims representatives out all together and file the lawsuit against the person that hurt you.

If the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t place the right value on your case, a jury of your peers may see that you internalized your pain, choosing not to be a burden on your family and friends, and assess damages a more reasonable way.

Posted in Law

Alimony, Support and Division of Assets Explained in Pennsylvania

Spousal Support

Spousal Support is available to a married spouse, when the couple resides in separate homes and one spouse earns more than the other spouse. There are defenses against spousal support and it is important to have an attorney assist you in your claim for or against spousal support.

Alimony Pendente Lite

Alimony Pendente Lite is a type of support that is limited in nature and paid to the lesser income earning spouse by the higher income earning spouse in accordance to a statutory formula until the divorce is finalized. This support was enacted to equalize the parties incomes during the divorce proceedings and allow each spouse to afford the divorce process and expenses.

Alimony

In Pennsylvania, there is not a set formula to determine post-divorce alimony. Whether or not to award post-divorce alimony payments lies within the exclusive discretion of the court. The court relies on the following 17 factors to determine whether to award post-divorce alimony.

The 17 Factors of Alimony

  • The relative earnings of both spouses.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The ages and physical, mental and emotional states of the two spouses.
  • The sources of income of both spouses. This includes medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
  • The expected future earnings and inheritances of the two spouses.
  • The degree to which one spouse has contributed to the other spouse’s education, training or increased earning potential.
  • The degree to which a spouse will be financially affected by their position as the custodian of a minor child.
  • The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage.
  • The relative education of the parties. This also considers the amount of time it would take for the spouse seeking alimony to acquire the education or training necessary to find employment.
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the two spouses.
  • The property each spouse brought to the marriage.
  • The degree a spouse contributed as a homemaker.
  • The relative needs of the two spouses.
  • The marital misconduct of either of the spouses during the marriage.
  • The federal, state and local tax consequences of the alimony.
  • Whether the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs.
  • Whether the spouse seeking alimony is incapable of supporting themselves through appropriate employment.

[1] Title 7, Pennsylvania Code, §6102.

Division of Assests

In Pennsylvania “marital property” means all property acquired by either party during the marriage and the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired. However, marital property does not include:

Veterans’ benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure pursuant to the act of September 2, 1958 (Public Law 85-857, 72 Stat. 1229), as amended, except for those benefits received by a veteran where the veteran has waived a portion of his military retirement pay in order to receive veterans’ compensation.

Property to the extent to which the property has been mortgaged or otherwise encumbered in good faith for value prior to the date of final separation.

Any payment received as a result of an award or settlement for any cause of action or claim which accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of final separation regardless of when the payment was received.

Property acquired prior to marriage or property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.

Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties entered into before, during or after the marriage.
Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property.

Property acquired after final separation until the date of divorce, except for property acquired in exchange for marital assets.

Property which a party has sold, granted, conveyed or otherwise disposed of in good faith and for value prior to the date of final separation.

Pennsylvania states that the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired pursuant to subsection shall be measured from the date of marriage or later acquisition date to either the date of final separation or the date as close to the hearing on equitable distribution as possible, whichever date results in a lesser increase.

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