The Importance of Hiring a Local Lawyer

By: Dustin HumphreyCloseup of business people shaking hands over a deal

There have been a lot of attorney advertisements on television lately, but interestingly enough, none of them seem to be from Kentucky. Many are based in other states, some as far as Florida. This may not seem like a problem at first glance, but there are many reasons the attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike believe you should “shop local” when it comes to hiring a lawyer. Here are some things that a local lawyer knows that those TV lawyers may not:

  • A local lawyer knows the local customs and procedures.

Every community has a different way of doing things, making a commercial attorney unreliable when it comes to understanding local customs and courtroom procedures. A local attorney on the other hand is very aware of these things

  • A local lawyer knows the opposing counsel.

This is a great advantage to hiring local. Having an attorney that understands how opposing counsel is likely to practice the case gives you you an immediate leg-up. Commercial attorneys will most likely never have dealt with your opposing counsel, which can be a great weakness in the courtroom.

  • A local lawyer knows the personalities and pet peeves of the judges.

Every judge has their own set of unique personality traits and pet peeves. A local attorney who has practiced in front of the same judges year after year understands these things and is able to navigate accordingly.

  • A local lawyer knows the character of the community and people who will ultimately decide if a case goes to trial.

A commercial attorney can do all the research in the world, but they will never be able to fully grasp the character of the community without being a part of the community.

The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike believe hiring a local attorney is the wisest decision when it comes to protecting yourself legally. Don’t hesitate to contact your local attorney when you are in need.

 

 

Dustin

Dustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.

PIP Benefits: What They Are and How Do They Work?

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits are extremely important PIPto someone who has been injured in a car accident. Often called “no-fault” benefits, PIP pays for necessary medical expenses and lost wages when a person is involved in an automobile accident. These are referred to as “no-fault” because the benefits are readily available regardless of who is liable for the mishap.

PIP is a mandatory coverage in the state of Kentucky. Basic PIP is to be paid by the insurer of the vehicle in which the injured person is riding at the time of an accident or the vehicle, which strikes a pedestrian, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Basic PIP provides up to $10,000 per person per accident for medical expenses, lost wages and similar “out of pocket” costs due to an injury, while higher benefits and deductibles are optional.

Following an accident, it can become overwhelming to navigate the confusing world of insurance benefits. If you should find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney that can walk you through the advantages of PIP.

Why Small Businesses Need Key Man Insurance

By: Mike Pike5139847759_811bc2e7e1

It’s no easy feat to start a business from scratch. Between the saving, the planning and the many payments that are necessary, entrepreneurs often overlook a component that the attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike find vital. If you are starting or already own a small business, we encourage you to consider getting key man insurance.

Q – What is key man insurance?
A – Key man insurance is simply life insurance on the key person in a business, usually the owner. Sometimes this extends to the founders or perhaps a key employee or two. Basically, it is whoever is found to be crucial to a business. If this person were removed, the entire ship would sink. These people need to be insured for the sake of the business.

Q – How does key man insurance work?
A – Key man insurance works when a company purchases a life insurance policy on the key employee, pays the premiums and then becomes the beneficiary of the policy. If, by some unfortunate circumstance, the key person dies, the company receives the insurance payoff.

Q – Why do I need key man insurance for my small business?
A – Key man insurance is important to a small business because the death of a vital person can often cause the immediate death of the company. Key man insurance would help your company survive the blow of losing the person who makes the business work, rather than declaring immediate bankruptcy.

Q – Why do I need to talk to an attorney about key man insurance?
A – There are many different ways to structure a key man policy agreement. When you are working with a key policy, we recommend talking to an attorney to make sure all aspects are well taken care of.

 

Attorney Mike Pike

Mike currently is the attorney for the Cities of Radcliff and Vine Grove, advising elected officials, employees, and various city boards on a wide variety of legal matters. A member of the American Bar Association, the Kentucky Bar Association, Hardin County Bar, Meade County Bar, and Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Mike focuses his legal practice on cases concerning personal injury and social security, municipal law, business formation, and estates and probate law. Additionally, Mike oversees the real estate law department for the firm.

 

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

By: Dustin HumphreySide_on_collision

We have all heard the horror stories of someone badly injured in a car wreck by a person with minimal insurance or none at all. As the victim’s medical bills mount the negligent party’s insurance is quickly exhausted, leaving the victim on the hook for the balance. To avoid this predicament, the lawyers at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike recommend our clients consider uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is designed to help victims of car crashes caused by a person who either doesn’t have an auto insurance policy or has a policy with liability limits that are too low to cover the cost of damages. This extra coverage helps pay for the bills associated with the crash that would otherwise be left uncovered.

In Kentucky, the law requires uninsured motorist coverage at certain levels; however, the driver can opt-out of this coverage by stating so in writing. The lawyers at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson and Pike do not recommend opting out of the coverage.

When purchasing uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, first consider how much insurance you may need. Factors such as the worth of your car, the type of medical insurance you carry and whether your employer offers access to short- and long-term disability are all important to consider. The limits for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can range anywhere from $25,000 to $1 million.

While the particular coverage depends on the wording of the policy, the insurance typically covers bodily injury and can also cover passengers in the insured car at the time of the crash.

To be fully protected in the event of an accident, you must have both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. The lawyers at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike recommend that our clients be proactive when it comes to their protection. Don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer for advice if you are considering purchasing uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. You may be very thankful one day for doing so.

 

Dustin

Dustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.

Checklist: Preparing to Meet with an Attorney After Your Car Accident

By: Dustin Humphrey

You’ve been in a car accident and you need legal representation. What sort of things will your attorney want to know? How should you prepare to meet with him or her? What documents should you have? The personal injury lawyers at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike have developed the following checklist to help you in your first meeting with an injury lawyer:

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Are you prepared to explain the details of the accident?

What day did the accident occur?
What time of day did the accident occur?
What was the exact location of accident?th
What was the weather like?
What was the roadway like (wet, dry smooth, pot-holed, etc.)?
Were other cars or people involved?
How did the accident occur?
Were police called to the scene?
Was a police report filed?
What traffic violations, if any, were you charged with?
Was an ambulance called to the scene?
Were any photographs taken at the scene?
Were any television or other media crews at the scene?

Are you prepared to provide information about witnesses or other individuals involved in the accident?

What are the names of witnesses or other involved parties?
What is their relation to you (if any)?
What are their addresses?
Telephone numbers?
License plate numbers?

Are you prepared to provide information about your injuries?

Did emergency personnel treat you?
Were you taken to a hospital?
What was your immediate diagnosis?
What treatments were you initially provided?
Did you have x-rays or other scans taken?
Were you hospitalized? For how long?
What follow-up or additional treatment have you had?
What are your present symptoms?
What is your present diagnosis?
What normal activities are you unable to do because of your injuries?
What are the names and locations of all hospitals, clinics, doctors, specialists, chiropractors, physical therapists or other providers you have seen for your injuries, including the names of providers who have referred you to other providers?
Who is your general or family physician?
Have you ever had similar injuries in the past?

 

Are you prepared to provide information about yourself?

Your age and birthdate?
Your address?
Your telephone number?
Your social security number?
Your marital status?
Your children, if any?
Your present employment, if any?
Your wages or salary?
Have you have missed time from work as a result of the accident?
Do you have a valid drivers’ license?
Do you have automobile insurance?
Who is your insurer?
Have you previously been involved in any car accidents?
Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

Are you prepared to provide information about your car?

Make and model of car?
Year?
Is there a lien-holder or bank interest in the car?
How long have you owned the car?
What is the working condition of the car?
When was your car last serviced or seen by a mechanic?
What damages were sustained to your car during the accident?
Have you received an estimate for the damages?
Did your car have any damages, dings or dents prior to the accident?
Do you have photographs of you car both before, and after, the accident?

 

hs_dustin_humphreyDustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati.  He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University,  where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.

The Consumer’s Three Day Right of Rescission

By: Terry Bennett 1864lacmgkudqjpg

Have you ever made a purchase and immediately regretted it? We all have experienced this buyer’s remorse at one time or another. But did you know there are some instances in which you actually can go back and undo the transaction?

This concept is called a “right of rescission.” There has been much confusion over when a consumer has a right to rescind a transaction and when they don’t. Many people think these laws apply to any and all consumer transactions. Actually, the law only applies to very few purchases.

For example, consumers do not have a three day right to cancel in the following transactions:

  • When buying real estate, insurance, securities, farm equipment, or a motor vehicle; or
  • When the purchase is entirely by mail, online or telephone

The law does provide a few important instances when a person can rescind a contract within three days. For instance, Federal law allows consumers the right to cancel contracts signed in their home when they are solicited there by businesses. This is especially important for older folks, who sometimes enter into financially disadvantageous deals with salesman who apply high-pressure sales tactics. The same protection applies to consumers who purchase items at a temporary business location rented by a merchant on a short terms basis. This could include hotel rooms and convention centers.

You also have a right to rescind the deal when refinancing a mortgage on your home. You have until midnight of the third business day after the mortgage closing to cancel the contract. The cancellation must be done in writing. If the salesperson does not provide a cancellation form, you can still cancel your contract but it must be in writing. You are also given extra time if they do not provide you with the form.
You may waive this right if you have a bona fide personal financial emergency.

If you have any questions concerning the three day right of rescission or any other legal matter, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike want to make sure you stay informed and up-to-date.

 

Attorney Terry Bennett

Terry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.

A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.

Step by Step: The Personal Injury Case

By: Terry Bennettpersonal_injury

You’ve suffered a personal injury, your everyday routine has been interrupted and your long-term plans may be uncertain. And at times, the procedural rules of a personal injury case can be confusing or frustrating, especially when you’re anxious to get healthy and move forward.

To help you know what to expect, the attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike have developed a step-by-step look at the stages of a personal injury case.

Meeting with an Attorney
When you first meet with an attorney, this is the time for your attorney to learn about your case. They will ask you to tell them what happened and they will ask follow-up questions. They will want to know about your insurance coverage and the statements you’ve made to insurance company representatives. The attorney could ask you to give permission for the release of your medial records. If the attorney agrees to take your case, you’ll discuss matters such as fees and next steps.

Initial Court Papers
A lawsuit starts with the complaint, which will outline your case including your legal claims, facts related to the claims and what you want the court to order the defendant to do. The summons notifies the defendant of the lawsuit. The defendant’s answer addresses your complaint. The defendant’s answer might also include a counterclaim against you. And that counterclaim is answered by your reply.

Discovery
Both sides of a lawsuit should know all relevant information before a trial. This is done through discovery. Questionnaires, document sharing and depositions all are used to collect information. It is important to be honest as everything typically comes out in discovery and a lie will be used against you.

Pretrial Motions
Some pretrial motions are filed for a ruling on a minor piece of your case. Other motions can end your case. A motion to dismiss is generally filed because of a jurisdiction or venue issue with the court, if the summons or complaint were not properly served or if the defendant claims no legal responsibility for your injury. If the facts of the case are not disputed, a summary judgment motion may ask the court to consider the facts and make a judgment in their favor. A motion for default judgment may be filed with a defendant fails to answer the court. When this happens, the only question the court has to answer is how much you should receive in damages.

Settlement
Most personal injury claims end in settlement. In exchange for payment, you agree to cease legal action. There are a number of factors to consider before accepting a settlement including the verdicts and settlements of similar cases and everything related to a trial, such as timing and negative publicity.

Trial
A judge or jury will consider all evidence and determine if the defendant is legally responsible fro your injury. There are several stages of a trial including jury selection, opening statements, presentation of evidence through testimony and cross-examination, closing arguments, jury instructions and the jury’s deliberation and verdict. The timeframe of a trial can vary greatly.

Collection after verdict
If a financially stable person or business owes you a judgment, they most likely will pay without incident. If a person or business is not financially stable, there will be more work ahead. Its possible wages can be garnished or income and assets seized. If they file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, however, you will not be able to collect the judgment.

Appeal
An appeal reviews proceedings and how the law was applied. If an appeals court finds an error in the application of the law, the judgment may be reversed.

Though most personal injury cases end early in the process, the attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson and Pike believe it’s important for plaintiffs and potential plaintiffs to have an understanding of all phases of a personal injury case. We encourage seeking legal advice about the specifics of your personal injury case.

 

 

Attorney Terry BennettTerry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.

A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.

 

Can my Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?

In divorce or child custody cases, often a judge must decide which parent shall have custody of minor children. I often have clients assert that since their child is a certain age, he or she can chose where to live. There seems to be a widely held belief in some specific age at which the child gets to make the choice regardless of what the judge thinks.

This is simply not true. There is no particular age when a child’s desire is honored as the deciding factor in determining which parent shall have custody.

When making child custody decisions, Kentucky law states that the judge must do what is in the best interest of the child. There are various factors the judge will consider in making this determination. The opinion of the child is one of the factors. But it is one of many, not the only one.

This does not mean a child’s opinion never carries any weight, as there are cases in which a child’s testimony is a very important factor. Generally, the older and more mature a child is, the greater the importance of his or her testimony. For example, a judge will likely take the opinion of a 16 year more seriously than the opinion of an 8 year old.

Even if the judge does listen to the child’s testimony, the child’s reasoning will be scrutinized. In fact, the best interest of a child could very well be the opposite of what the child desires. For instance, living with Dad because he “lets me play video games and doesn’t make me do homework like Mom does” will probably not sway the judge toward the father as the child intended.

In conclusion, the opinion of the child is one of many factors a judge must consider when making a child custody determination. Generally, the testimony of the child carries more weight if the child is older and mature. There is not a certain age at which the child gets to decide regardless of what the judge thinks. How much weight to give a child’s testimony is determined by the judge on a case by case basis.

Divorce and child custody cases are difficult. If you find yourself facing either situation you should contact an attorney.

 

 

Dustin

Dustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.

Answers to Kentucky Employee’s Most Frequently Asked Questions

Young businessman holding white card with a question mark on itBy: Terry Bennett

Are you unsure of your rights as an employee in Kentucky? Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning Kentucky employment:

Q : What is the minimum wage in Kentucky?
A : The minimum wage in Kentucky is $7.25 per hour.

Q: Can an employer require that I work overtime?
A: Yes.

Q: What must an employer pay me for overtime?
A: Time and one-half must be paid for the hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek.

Q: May an employer pay “comp time” instead of overtime?
A: Comp time may not be paid by an employer or given to an employee who is subject to the overtime law.

Q: What defines a “full-time employee”?
A: Kentucky law does not define full-time or part-time employment. Employers are free to define these terms as they choose.

Q: Must an employer give a paid rest period?
A: An employee is entitled to a paid rest period of at least 10 minutes during each four hours of work.

Q: Must my employer give me a meal break and do they have to pay for the meal break?
A: An employee is entitled to a reasonable period for a meal no sooner than the 3rd or later than the 5th hour of their work shift, unless the employer and employee have mutually agreed to some other time period. The meal period does not have to be paid by the employer.

Q: May my employer require that I work more than 8 hours per day?
A: There is no limitation on the number of hours that your employer can require you to work in a day.

Q: Must my employer pay my vacation pay or sick leave upon termination of employment?
A: Whether you are paid for unused vacation or sick leave upon termination of employment depends on the policy and practice of your employer. Kentucky labor law does not specifically require that the employer pay for unused vacation or sick days upon termination of employment.

If you have any questions about employment rights in Kentucky, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. They attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike want to make sure your rights as an employee are honored.

 

Attorney Terry BennettTerry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.

A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.

 

The Danger of Misclassifying Workers

By: Terry Bennett

Many employers misclassify workers as independent contractors. The reasons are obvious: no duty to withhold taxes, no duty to pay Social Security or Medicare, no duty to provide workers’ compensation coverage, no duty to pay unemployment and no duty to provide any employee benefits. But the cost of misclassification can be high.
filing-taxes-independent-contractor

There can be personal and individual liability for the employer’s failure to pay withholding taxes for employees that are misclassified. The IRS looks at behavior control, financial control, and the type of relationship between the employer and the independent contractor. Many employers are at risk for the detection of misclassified workers. The IRS is focusing its resources on auditing employers to determine if they are properly classifying their workers.

Misclassified workers are often denied access to critical benefits and protections such as family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance. Not only are employees cheated, but it also generates substantial losses to the treasury and the Social Security and Medicare funds, as well as state unemployment insurance and workers compensation funds.

At Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike, we can help businesses with their classification of workers, whether it relates to independent contractors, part-time/full-time employees, or the employer’s responsibility concerning the many Federal and State requirements as it relates to employees.

 

 

Attorney Terry BennettTerry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.

A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.