Aug 30

LICENSURE Q&A – Are Licensed Employees Liable for Everything?

I spoke to a batch of graduating students of aspiring nurses and doctors a few years ago and we were on the topic of licensure and liabilities in their industry. One student asked me what the scope of liability was to nurses and doctors in the medical field. I had a hard time answering this because it varied from state to state and from field to field. Instead of giving them an answer, I shared my experience working with medical malpractice and negligence.

When it comes to healthcare, the scope of liability for professionals like nurses and doctors is huge. I had a case wherein a doctor was sued for malpractice because his patient died of allergic reactions to a particular medication. We won the case because the family of the patient did not disclose a complete medical history. There was also a case wherein a nurse was sued for negligence because she almost killed a patient by giving them the wrong medicine. It turns out that she was working a straight shift of 24 hours and that the hospital management failed to find her a replacement that time. The hospital settled for a minimum amount. This just goes to show that any small mistake can put doctors and nurses at large for lawsuits.

Jul 06

The Basics of Car Insurance Laws

Woman with Car TroublesAlmost anywhere you operate a motor vehicle you must provide “proof of financial responsibility.” In other words, you must satisfy local authorities that either you or your insurance company can and will pay for the consequences of a nasty traffic accident. More specifically, you must prove that you can afford to pay for property damage and medical expenses if you drive negligently or recklessly. For most drivers in most places, “proof of financial responsibility” is a polite and vaguely deceptive phrase that translates “car insurance.” Moreover, in most places with paved roads, the car insurance laws are clear: No insurance, no driving.

Consequences of failure to comply with car insurance laws

In many states, failure to comply with car insurance laws leads almost immediately to suspension of your driver’s license and cancellation of your car registration. With the suspension and cancellation in effect, you become vulnerable to stop and citation every time you get behind the wheel of your car. In some circumstances, law enforcement authorities may impound your vehicle and confiscate your driver’s license. In order to restore your driving privileges, you will have to supply your state authorities with proof of financial responsibility, pay penalties and fees for reinstatement of your license and registration, and pay storage fees for your vehicle. Given that basic liability insurance for a driver with a clean record costs only $50(US) per month, you pay far less for obeying the car insurance laws than you will pay for violating them.

If you cause a major traffic accident and you have no insurance, you are personally liable for all the damage and injuries you caused. Accident victims have every right to sue you for their losses, and the courts may place liens on all of your property and assets. The courts may attach your bank accounts, garnish your wages, and place a lien on your home. Even if you have very few assets or file for bankruptcy, the court’s orders remain in effect until you have made restitution for the damage or settled all of the claims against you.

Finance contracts supplement the car insurance laws.

The car insurance laws protect people and their property. They make no provision for protection of your own vehicle for damage or theft. If you have financed or leased your vehicle, your lending institution wants to protect its investment. Your loan or lease documents undoubtedly stipulate the lender’s requirements for your insurance coverage, demanding that you carry “comprehensive” and collision insurance. You may set the deductibles according to your budget, but you must carry insurance according to your contract’s requirements. The contract carries as much legal weight as the car insurance laws.

Jul 06

Strategies to Avoid Suspension of a Driver’s License Due to Child Support Arrears

78630776-child-custody-divorceIn  other US states, the failure of an obligor to pay child support may lead to the suspension of his or her license to operate a motor vehicle. Not surprisingly, many parents who have disregarded their child support obligations find themselves in a state of panic when they receive notice that within a matter of mere days, their nonpayment could cost them their ability to legally drive.

The rules governing the suspension of drivers’ licenses as a result of child support arrears are set forth in Section 510 of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law. The law requires that the Department of Social Services notify the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles of persons who are in arrears as to their child support obligations and/or combined child support and spousal support obligations.

In general, under New York law, drivers’ licenses can be suspended if the amount of past-due child support is greater than four (4) months of the current obligation, and the obligor is not paying support via an income execution.

Child Support obligors who receive notice of a pending suspension due to child support arrearages have several options. First, they may request that they be given a restricted license. Typically, the issuance of a restricted license is done so that the payor/obligor may continue to work. The conditional license may provide that the obligor is permitted to drive to and from work, as well as during their work if the employment requires driving.

Alternatively, he or she may request a “hardship exemption.” Such exemptions are discretionary, and a request would entail a personal appearance at the Support Collection Unit (SCU).

In order to most effectively determine which of the above options is most appropriate, and the best strategy for avoiding a suspension or other enforcement action, it is advisable to consider retaining an experienced New York child support lawyer. Because New York’s Support Collection Unit strictly evaluates requests for hardship exemptions, it is essential that individuals facing the possibility of having their licenses suspended for support arrears consult with a NY divorce lawyer with experience in support issues.

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