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5 Questions to Ask During your Workers’ Compensation Consultation.

You have been hurt and work and you are in pain, frustrated, and confused.  You know you need an attorney, but, understand that hiring the wrong lawyer can only compound your frustration and confusion.  You have set an appointment to meet with a workers’ compensation attorney.  As much as this is an opportunity for you to lessen your confusion and get on the right path, it is also the responsibility of the attorney to make you comfortable and help you understand why you should hire them.  In an effort to help you properly evaluate the attorney at the consultation, you should, at least, ask these five questions:

  1. What is your experience in Louisiana workers’ compensation law?

Louisiana workers’ compensation law is very specialized.  There are rules specific to workers’ compensation cases that do not exist anywhere else in Louisiana law.  These are not personal injury cases.  If the attorney begins to tell you about their experience in personal injury, tort, or civil cases, run, do not walk, to the door.  Without knowledge of the specialized rules in Louisiana workers’ compensation law, this attorney can cost you money and opportunity.  They may advise you to do something (or not do something) that can significantly impair your workers’ compensation claim.

  1. What is your fee?

Attorney’s fees in Louisiana workers’ compensation law is set by statute.  No attorney may receive more than 20% of the benefits you receive.  Even then, the attorney must apply to the Office of Workers’ Compensation (basically the administrative judge in these types of cases) and be approved, to receive their attorney’s fees.  Any attorney that does not tell you this, or quotes you something more than 20%, is not the attorney for you.

  1. What are the benefits to which I may be entitled?

In Louisiana, employers (through their insurance companies) are responsible for paying all reasonable medical expenses associated with your on-the-job injury.  In addition, you are also entitled to “indemnity benefits” in the amount of sixty-six and two-thirds percent of your average weekly wage for the four weeks prior to your injury.  You are also entitled to receive mileage benefits for your travel to and from work-related-injury doctors appointments, or, if you have no transportation, the employer is responsible for providing transportation to and from your doctors visits.  If the attorney you meet with does not tell you these things, you may want to reconsider this attorney.

  1. What amount can I receive for pain and suffering?

Any attorney that tells you that you are entitled to pain and suffering for workers’ compensation cases is WRONG.  Louisiana workers’ compensation law does not allow an injured worker to recover for pain and suffering.  If the attorney you are meeting with does not tell you this when you ask, that attorney is not familiar with Louisiana workers’ compensation law.

  1. When are you available?

Most attorneys are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Although it does not happen often, sometimes you need your attorney to be available, in some way, after hours or on the weekends.  You may have an important question or you may have issues with receiving medication or getting in to see a doctor.  Having an attorney available, at least by email, after hours and on the weekends can be a big selling point when choosing a workers’ compensation attorney.

 

The attorneys at Stanley-Wallace Law have helped numerous injured workers navigate the complicated Louisiana workers’ compensation claim process.  Let us help you.  For a free consultation, please contact us via telephone at (985) 288-4621 or via email: info@stanley-wallacelaw.com.

What does Louisiana law say about relocating a child’s residence after divorce? (Part 4)

What happens after you give notice? 

So, you want to move and you want your child to come with you.  You have given notice to the other parent as described in the last blog post – now what?  If you and the other parent have equal custody of the child, according to La. R.S. 9:355.4(B), you must either obtain a court order that you can move, after having a contradictory hearing, or you must have “express written consent” of the other parent.  However, if you and the other parent do not have equal custody of the child (for example, you have joint custody and are the domiciliary parent) then the other parent must object, in writing, sent to your address provided in the notice, via certified mail or commercial carrier (See La. R.S. 9:355.7).  If no objection is received, then the party requesting to relocate with the child, may relocate.  If an objection is received in accordance with La. R.S. 9:355.7, then the person requesting the relocation must file a motion to relocate the child’s residence within thirty days of receiving the objection. (See La. R.S. 9:355.9).  In order to get approval to relocate the child, over the objection of the other parent, then the court must hold a contradictory hearing and must find that the proposed relocation is made in good faith and is in the best interest of the child.  (See. La. R.S. 9:355.9 and La. R.S. 9:355.10).

What happens if you don’t give notice and move anyway? 

What happens if you want to relocate your child’s residence and you just move – in other words, you don’t abide by the requirements set forth in the Louisiana Relocation statutes?  According to La. R.S. 9:355.6, if you fail to abide by the relocation statutes, the Court may consider that as “… 1) A factor in making its determination regarding the relocation of the child; 2) a basis for ordering the return of the child if the relation has taken place without notice or court authorizations; 3) sufficient cause to order the person proposing relocation to pay reasonable expenses incurred by the person objecting to the relocation.”  There are some serious consequences to not following the relocation statutes, including being forced to move back, paying the expenses of the other party, and a change in your custody arrangement (i.e. less time with your child).

If you are thinking of moving the residence of you and your child, you should always get the opinion of an experienced family law attorney.  Although the past four blog posts have provided you with a basic knowledge of the Louisiana Relocation Statutes and the requirements that you face if you would like to move your child’s residence, Louisiana custody law regarding this issue is much more complicated.  At Stanley-Wallace Law we have experience in handling these types of cases and have had great outcomes, including the approval of a relocation in a hotly contested case after a contradictory hearing.  We are here to help.

The National Advocates Announces Kristen Stanley-Wallace as One of Its Top 100 Lawyers in Louisiana

Press Release of 10/4/2017:

For immediate release

The National Advocates is pleased to announce that Kristen Stanley-Wallace of Stanley-Wallace Law in Slidell has been selected for inclusion into its Top 100 lawyers in Louisiana for Matrimonial and Family Law, an honor given to only a select group of lawyers as recognition of their superior skills and qualifications in the field. The selection for this exclusive list is limited to only 100 attorneys in each state who have demonstrated their extraordinary abilities with superior results, a high level of peer respect, and client satisfaction.

The National Advocates is a professional organization comprised of premier lawyers from across the country who have demonstrated exceptional qualifications in their area of the law, including Matrimonial and Family Law, Employment Law, Social Security Disability Law, Immigration Law, Bankruptcy Law and Estates, Wills and Trusts. The National Advocates provides accreditation to these distinguished attorneys, and provides essential legal news, information, and education to lawyers across the United States.

With the selection for membership by The National Advocates, Ms. Stanley-Wallace has exemplified superior qualifications, leadership skills, and case results as a legal professional. The selection process for this elite honor is based on a multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third party research. As The National Advocates is an essential source of networking and information for attorneys throughout the nation, the final result of the selection process is a credible and comprehensive list of the most qualified lawyers chosen to represent their state.

To learn more about The National Advocates, please visit: http://www.TheNationalAdvocates.org.

What does Louisiana law say about relocating a child’s residence after divorce? (Part 3)

What are the requirements under the Louisiana Relocation Statutes?

In part three of this four-part series, we will examine what you are required to do when you have custody of your child and want to propose a relocation of his or her residence.

What information are you required to share with your child’s other parent regarding your planned move?  According to La R.S. 9:355.5, the following information must be shared with the other parent:

  1. Your current mailing address;
  2. The mailing address of the proposed relocation location, if known;
  3. The physical address of the proposed relocation location, if known and different than the mailing address;
  4. Your home and cellular telephone numbers;
  5. The date of the proposed relocation;
  6. The specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child;
  7. A proposed revised schedule of visitation with the child; and
  8. A statement that the other parent (the person entitled to object) shall make any objection to the proposed relocation in writing by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, within thirty days of receipt of the notice and should seek legal counsel immediately.

 

How should this information be shared?  Items one through eight are required to be provided to the child’s other parent via certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, or delivered by a commercial carrier to his or her last known address.  According to Louisiana law, text messaging or emailing this information is not sufficient.

 

When should this information be shared?  This information is required to be provided to the other party no later than one of two dates: Either the sixtieth day before the date of the proposed relocation (if you know where you are going, etc.) or the tenth day after the date you know the information to be provided if you did not know or could not have reasonably known the information in time to provide sixty-days notice.  In other words, if you know the address where you and your child are moving and the phone number, then you must provide sixty-days notice.  If you do not know that information, and could not have reasonably known that information, then you must provide that notice as explained above within ten days of knowing the address, physical location and phone number.  Next blog post, we will examine what happens after you give notice to the other parent of the relocation and what the ramifications are if you don’t abide by the relocation statutes.

As notice requirements can become more complicated, please seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney to ensure you are in compliance with the Louisiana Relocation requirements.  At Stanley-Wallace Law, we are here to help!

What does Louisiana law say about relocating a child’s residence after divorce? (Part 2)

Who is permitted to propose a relocation of a child’s residence?

In part one, we examined the distance requirement in the Louisiana Relocation Statutes – i.e. if you were moving with your child, what distance would trigger your obligations under the relocation statutes.  In part 2 of our examination of the Louisiana Relocation Statutes, we will examine who may propose the relocation of a child.

La R.S. 3:55.3 specifically addresses this issue.  It reads:

The following persons are authorized to propose relocation of the principal residence of a child by complying with the notice requirements of this Subpart:

(1)  A person designated in a current court decree as the sole custodian.

(2)  A person designated in a current court decree as a domiciliary parent in a joint custody arrangement.

(3)  A person sharing equal physical custody under a current court decree.

(4)  A person sharing equal parental authority under Chapter 5 of Title 11 VII of Book I of the Louisiana Civil Code.

(5)  A person who is the natural tutor of a child born outside of marriage.

If you have a current court order addressing custody, then the evaluation begins there.  Were you awarded sole custody of your child?  Do you and your ex have joint custody, but you are designated as the domiciliary parent?  Do you and your ex share equal physical custody of your child under a current court order?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, and you intend to move more than the distance discussed in Part 1 of this series, then you have obligations under the Louisiana Relocation Statutes.

If you do not have a court order regarding custody of your child, the evaluation becomes a little more complicated.  The reference to Chapter 5 of Title VII of Book I of the Louisiana Civil Code refers to the Chapter entitled: Parent and Child – Of Parental Authority.  Although the evaluation is far more complicated, basically, if you and your spouse are married and share equal parental authority, each of you may propose a relocation of your child.  Finally, if your child was born outside of marriage and you have no court order, then the parents of the child could be the natural tutors.  However, in this circumstance, please beware that there are numerous questions and legal analysis which must be asked before an in-depth evaluation can be done – such as, has the child been acknowledged, etc.  As always, a thorough evaluation of the circumstances by an experienced attorney is necessary when determining if you have obligations under the Louisiana Relocation Statutes.  In Part 3, we will evaluate what those obligations are.

If you, or someone you know, wishes to relocate with their minor child after a separation, please feel free to contact Stanley-Wallace Law, LLC for a free consultation.

What does Louisiana law say about relocating a child’s residence after divorce? Part 1 in a 4 part series.

Part 1: How far is too far?

So, you have gone through a messy divorce and custody battle, or you and your ex-spouse agreed to the custody of your child or children fairly easily.  Now, you want to move and you want your children to come with you.  What does Louisiana law say about this?  Louisiana requires certain people to make certain notifications if they are moving, with the child or children, a certain distance from their current residence or the other parent.  In part one of this four-part series, we will explore under what circumstances these “relocation statutes” come into play – more specifically, the distance requirement.

Before we can explore how far one needs to move for these relocation statutes to come into play, we need to determine the principal residence of the child.  La. R.S. 9:355.1 (1) provides:

(1)  “Principal residence of a child” means:

  • (a) The location designated by a court to be the primary residence of the child.
  • (b) In the absence of a court order, the location at which the parties have expressly agreed that the child will primarily reside.
  • (c) In the absence of a court order or an express agreement, the location, if any, at which the child has spent the majority of time during the prior six months.

If you have a court order, or the parties have expressly agreed to the primary residence of the child then this determination is easy.  However, without a court order or express agreement, it must be determined where the child spent the majority of his or her time during the last six months.

Once you have determined the principal residence of your child, you must next determine how far you would like to move and if that distance triggers obligations under the relocation statutes.  La. R.S. 9:355.1 (B) reads:

  1. This Subpart shall apply to a proposed relocation when any of the following exist:
  • (1) There is intent to establish the principal residence of a child at any location outside the state.
  • (2) There is no court order awarding custody and there is an intent to establish the principal residence of a child at any location within the state that is at a distance of more than seventy-five miles from the domicile of the other parent.
  • (3) There is a court order awarding custody and there is an intent to establish the principal residence of a child at any location within the state that is at a distance of more than seventy-five miles from the principal residence of the child at the time that the most recent custody decree was rendered.
  • (4) If either no principal residence of a child has been designated by the court or the parties have equal physical custody, and there is an intent to establish the principal residence of a child at any location within the state that is at a distance of more than seventy-five miles from the domicile of a person entitled to object to relocation.

If you intend to move, with your child or children, out of state – then you have obligations under the Louisiana relocation statutes.  If there is no court order, if no principal residence of the child or children has been designated by the court, or if you and your ex-spouse have equal physical custody then moving more than seventy-five miles from the other parent triggers your responsibilities under the statutes.  Finally, if there is a court order awarding custody, then you cannot move more than seventy-five miles from your child or children’s residence without abiding by your obligations under the Louisiana relocation statutes.

Now that you know the distance requirements, in part two we will explore who is authorized to propose relocation of the child or children, in part three we will discuss what your obligations are under the statutes, and in part four you will learn what consequences you face for not abiding by the Louisiana relocation statutes.  Stay tuned…

As always, interpretation and application of child custody and other laws requires an experienced attorney.  If you or someone you know is seeking to relocate with their children after a divorce or separation, please feel free to contact Stanley-Wallace Law.  We are here to help!

Kristen Stanley-Wallace Named 10 Best Family Law Attorney in Louisiana for Client Satisfaction

9/9/2017 Press release:  The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys has recognized the exceptional performance of Louisiana’s Family Law Attorney Kristen Stanley-Wallace as 2017 10 Best Family Law Attorney for Client Satisfaction.

The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys is a third-party attorney rating organization that publishes an annual list of the Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in each state. Attorneys who are selected to the “10 Best” list must pass AIOFLA’s rigorous selection process, which is based on client and/or peer nominations, thorough research, and AIOFLA’s independent evaluation. AIOFLA’s annual list was created to be used as a resource for clients during the attorney selection process.

One of the most significant aspects of the selection process involves attorneys’ relationships and reputation among his or her clients. As clients should be an attorney’s top priority, AIOFLA places the utmost emphasis on selecting lawyers who have achieved significant success in the field of Family Law without sacrificing the service and support they provide. Selection criteria therefore focus on attorneys who demonstrate the highest standards of Client Satisfaction.

We congratulate Kristen Stanley-Wallace on this achievement and we are honored to have her as a 2017 AIOFLA Member.

How to Prepare for a Workers’ Compensation Consultation with an Attorney

Sometimes life throws us a curve-ball, some good, some not so good.  One of these may be an injury at work.  Should you become injured at work, it is extremely important for you to learn what your rights are immediately.  Without a working knowledge of your rights related to a workers’ compensation injury, you may inadvertently waive some of those rights, causing you to receive much less than you are entitled to.  A consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is your best option.  Most, including our office, provide a free initial consultation to evaluate your case and provide you with information related to your claim.  But, how do you prepare for such a meeting?  Below is a list of information and documentation that you should have at the ready when meeting with an attorney regarding a workers’ compensation injury:

  1. The date, time, and circumstances of your on the job accident. It is important to determine if your accident occurred within the “course and scope” of your employment with your employer;
  2. Names and contact information for any and all witnesses;
  3. Names and contact information for your employer. Names and contact information for your supervisors;
  4. Is your employer a subcontractor for another business?
  5. Any documentation and information regarding when you first reported the accident/injury to your employer. Who did you report the accident to? When did you report the accident? Were any forms filled out?;
  6. Name, address, and telephone number for any adjuster and workers’ compensation insurance carrier for your employer. If you have been assigned a claim number, this number is important.  Bring with you any and all letters or other documents which may contain this information;
  7. Any and all treatment which you have undergone and any diagnoses that have been made. All medical records for this treatment should be brought with you to your initial consultation;
  8. Has any medical provider addressed whether or not you can return to work? Any documentation regarding your ability to return to work, with or without restrictions is crucial to your claim;
  9. Has a medical provider addressed whether or not your injury is related to the accident at work? In some situations, this may be obvious (i.e. a fall from a ladder resulting in a back injury), however, some are not so clear;
  10. How are you feeling now? Are you still having pain or has your injury resolved?;
  11. The name of any attorneys with which you have already consulted regarding this accident/injury and the result of that consultation; and
  12. Bring with you any and all forms that you may have filled out since reporting the accident to the employer and/or insurer. It is very important to NOT sign any documents until you have met with a workers’ compensation attorney.  These documents may waive some very important rights you have under Louisiana workers’ compensation law.  However, if you have signed any documents since the on the job accident, bring copies with you to your meeting with the attorney.

There are many more questions to be answered and issues to be discussed in that first meeting with a workers’ compensation attorney, but an experienced attorney, such as Kristen Stanley-Wallace, will guide the conversation to make sure that all of these questions are answered and discussed.  Meeting with a workers’ compensation attorney is not something to fear.  Should this attorney take your case they should be the client’s most trusted ally.

Gestational Surrogacy Contracts – New Louisiana Law

Prior to August 1, 2016, couples who were unable to have children had very few to no options when it came to the topic of surrogacy.  Any surrogacy or “gestational carrier” contracts were unenforceable in Louisiana prior to August 1, 2016.  Enter HB1102.  HB1102’s stated purpose is “to regulate gestational surrogacy agreements” and the legislature found “that it is desirable to assure that the intended parents of every child born through the use of assisted reproductive technology be legal and biological parents of the child.”  This bill, which was signed into law as Act No. 494 with an effective date of August 1, 2016, restricts enforceable gestational surrogacy agreements to those in which a married couple engages a gestational surrogate and the married couple also must use their “own gametes” (i.e. sperm and egg). Thus, under the terms of this new legislation, same sex couples do not fall within the definition of those married couples who can legally engage a gestational surrogate.  The legislation states that “compelling state interests justify provisions for filiation to be recognized by a court upon proof that the child is genetically related to both parents.”  This legislation further makes clear that contracts regarding “genetic gestational carriers” (defined as the process by which a woman attempts to carry and give birth to a child using her own egg and then agrees to relinquish custody and all rights to that child) is an absolute nullity.

Act No. 494 provides a myriad of requirements for such a contract to be legally enforceable.  Some examples of these requirements include that the contract must be in writing, signed by the gestational carrier, and her spouse if she is married, and both of the intended parents.  The gestational carrier must be between the ages of 25 and 35, must have already given birth to at least one child, must agree to reasonable medical evaluation and treatment during the pregnancy, must have undergone at least two counseling sessions, and agree to a post-birth counseling session.  The intended parents must agree and recognize that the gestational surrogate has the sole authority to make medical decisions during the term of the pregnancy as if she was a woman carrying her own biological child.  Further, the intended parents must agree to accept custody and assume full parental rights to the child, regardless of any impairment, agree to be recognized as the legal parents of the child, among other requirements.  Further, either the gestational carrier (and her spouse if she is married) or the intended parents, may seek judicial approval of the gestational carrier contract prior to the utero embryo transfer.

While this new act offers new options for some married couples, opponents of the act criticize its limited scope, not only for non-heterosexual couples, but also for some heterosexual couples, such as those with no viable gametes.  To review the entirety of Act No. 494, please see:  http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1011810.

LASC Rules that Employers May Only be Sued Under Workers’ Compensation for Employee’s Hearing Loss

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In an opinion issued by the Louisiana Supreme Court yesterday, the court found that gradual noise induced hearing loss caused by occupational exposure to hazardous noise levels is a personal injury by accident or an occupational disease, or both, under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act.  Read more