HOW TO AVOID IDENTITY THEFT


An issue that is important for all clients, regardless of they type of case they have is protecting their identity. Attorneys often receive personal information including financial information from clients in the course of their representation. This information is carefully guarded by lawyers and remains secure.

The biggest identity theft threat is from criminals that make a living by stealing personal information from innocent victims. Here are some tips on avoiding the theft of your identity:

1. Protect your Social Security Number: Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet. When asked for your Social Security number, find out why it is needed and how it is kept confidential. Do not print your Social Security number on your checks.

2. Protect Financial Information: Review monthly credit card statements for unusual charges. Use automatic deposit whenever possible. It is illegal for stores to print receipts with your full credit card number; destroy the receipts and report the store to the Attorney General’s office if this happens to you.

3. Protect Passwords: Do not carry PIN numbers in your wallet or purse. Do not share your PINs with others. Do not use easy to guess passwords like family member names, birthdays, phone numbers, etc…Choose a different PIN for each account.

4. Protect Your Mail: Call 1-888-5OPT-OUT to stop pre-approved credit card bills from being mailed to you. Do not leave your mail sitting in your mailbox longer than necessary. Put outgoing payments in a locked postal service mailbox instead of your curbside mailbox. Avoid placing checks in the mail whenever possible. Use automatic draft or debits instead. You can cut down on junk mail by sending a letter with your first and last name, home address and signature to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.

5. Check Your Credit Report: You get one free credit report per year from each national credit reporting bureau. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to receive your free annual report. This site should not be confused with other for profit sites like wwww.freecreditreport.com.

6. Security Freezes: If you suspect credit theft or you simply do not anticipate needing credit in the future and want to freeze your information, visit www.noscamnc.gov to get instructions on freezing your information.

7. Prevent Email Fraud: Never send personal information, financial information or your Social Security number in response to an email. These emails are almost always attempts to steal your information. If you receive an email from your bank or another financial institution requesting information, call that company to confirm that they sent the email and that they need the information. Install virus and spyware programs on your computer to prevent theft of information directly from your computer. Try to use secure websites whenever possible when making online transactions. Secure websites can be identified by the lock icon in the lower right corner of your computer screen and the “https” tag at the beginning of the website address.

8. Telephone and Personal Scams: Nobody in Nigeria actually wants to give you money. Ignore these emails and phone calls. Never give out personal or financial information to people who call you. Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry at (888) 382-1222. Double check references for charities, door to door sales and others that show up at your door. Look up the official information for the charity or company and call that number to verify their legitimacy before you give out any information or money.

You may not be able to ultimately prevent all forms of identity theft. But, if you follow the above steps, you will greatly reduce your changes of becoming a victim. You can learn more from the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office.

PLEASE NOTE THAT NOTHING ON THIS BLOG SHOULD BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE AND THAT VIEWING THE INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY TO CONFIRM THE CURRENT STATE OF ANY LEGAL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BLOG, AS THE LAW CONSTANTLY CHANGES.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEGAL REPRESENTATION, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY EMAIL OR AT (919) 781-1311. YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME AT WWW.NICHOLLSCRAMPTON.COM (this site currently being updated).

More News on the Collaborative Divorce Process

Divorce and co-parenting
From the Daily News Tribune

Reduction of Animosity in the Divorce Process From the Austin-American Statesman

A more humane way to divorce From the Daily Camera

A kinder, gentler process From the Orlando Sentinel

PLEASE NOTE THAT NOTHING ON THIS BLOG SHOULD BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE AND THAT VIEWING THE INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY TO CONFIRM THE CURRENT STATE OF ANY LEGAL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BLOG, AS THE LAW CONSTANTLY CHANGES.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEGAL REPRESENTATION, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY EMAIL OR AT (919) 781-1311. YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME AT WWW.NICHOLLSCRAMPTON.COM (this site currently being updated).

Recession and Child Support


http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1550242.html

As you can see from this article from the front page of today’s News & Observer, a poor economy has a serious impact on child support payments. If you pay child support or receive child support, do not wait until a payment is due to discuss a change of income or loss of a job with the other parent. Addressing the issue as soon as an economic change happens can save both of you a lot of time in court. If you have questions about whether a reduction in child support payments is appropriate in your case, contact a family law attorney. Lowering or ending child support payments without obtaining court approval can have serious legal consequences.

PLEASE NOTE THAT NOTHING ON THIS BLOG SHOULD BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE AND THAT VIEWING THE INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY TO CONFIRM THE CURRENT STATE OF ANY LEGAL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BLOG, AS THE LAW CONSTANTLY CHANGES.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEGAL REPRESENTATION, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY EMAIL OR AT (919) 781-1311. YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME AT WWW.NICHOLLSCRAMPTON.COM (this site currently being updated).

Recent Article for The Nutmeg Lawyer: The Whole Truth?

http://thenutmeglawyer.blogspot.com/2009/05/anybody-who-watches-law-and-order-can.html

I recently authored an article for The Nutmeg Lawyer blog linked above. The Nutmeg Lawyer is a great blog, especially for attorneys. It deals with substantive legal, professional, technological and other issues of interest to lawyers. I would encourage everybody, especially lawyers, to give it a look.

PLEASE NOTE THAT NOTHING ON THIS BLOG SHOULD BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE AND THAT VIEWING THE INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY TO CONFIRM THE CURRENT STATE OF ANY LEGAL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BLOG, AS THE LAW CONSTANTLY CHANGES.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEGAL REPRESENTATION, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY EMAIL OR AT (919) 781-1311. YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME AT WWW.NICHOLLSCRAMPTON.COM (this site currently being updated).

SWEEPING CHANGE IN NEGLIGENCE LAW

The North Carolina legislature is on the path to bringing North Carolina into line with 46 other states by dumping the old and illogical contributory negligence system with comparative negligence laws. See the summary below created by the North Carolina Advocates for Justice for an explanation of what this means for you:

COMPARATIVE FAULT:
FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE FOR ALL NORTH CAROLINIANS
HB 813
What is comparative fault?

Comparative fault — the law in 46 states but not in North Carolina – allows judges or juries to divide responsibility among everyone who contributed to an injury, based on their degree of fault.

North Carolina does not have comparative fault. We have contributory negligence, a rule that prohibits an injured person from receiving any compensation if she made even the slightest contribution to her injury.

Why is contributory negligence bad for North Carolina?
• Individuals and businesses hurt because of someone else’s wrongdoing are denied the
opportunity to seek compensation for their injuries.
• Contributory negligence undermines principles of accountability and responsibility that lie at the heart of our civil justice system.

How do we fix the problem of contributory negligence?

Replace contributory negligence with comparative fault – as 46 other states have done.

The North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ) supports enactment of the Uniform
Apportionment of Tort Responsibility Act (UATRA), a model bill approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2002. Drafted by a broadly representative committee, UATRA is a compromise that draws on the experience of the 46 states that have adopted comparative fault.

How does UATRA work?
UATRA replaces contributory negligence with comparative fault. Under current law, if a person is 1% or more at fault, she can recover nothing from the party primarily responsible. Under UATRA, the injured person can recover as long as she is not more than 50% at fault. Her recovery is reduced by the percentage she is at fault.
UATRA also modifies joint and several liability. Under current law, fault is not divided among multiple wrongdoers, and the injured person can collect all her damages from any one of the responsible parties. Under UATRA, when two or more parties cause the injury, fault is allocated among those wrongdoers, based on their proportionate responsibility.

Here’s an example of how it works. A speeding truck runs a red light and hits Beth’s car broadside, totaling the car and fracturing her skull. Beth had the green light, but was driving 5 miles per hour above the speed limit. The jury decides that the truck driver was 90% at fault for running the red light and Beth was 10% at fault for speeding. Under the current law of contributory negligence, Beth would receive nothing because she was partly at fault. Under UATRA, Beth would receive compensation for her injuries, minus 10% for her fault in the accident.

UATRA is a compromise that strikes a thoughtful balance between the
interests of plaintiffs and defendants, fairly apportioning fault to all who
are responsible.

PLEASE NOTE THAT NOTHING ON THIS BLOG SHOULD BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE AND THAT VIEWING THE INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY TO CONFIRM THE CURRENT STATE OF ANY LEGAL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BLOG, AS THE LAW CONSTANTLY CHANGES.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEGAL REPRESENTATION, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY EMAIL OR AT (919) 781-1311. YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME AT WWW.NICHOLLSCRAMPTON.COM (this site currently being updated).

FAMILY LAW QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The law should, when practicable, encourage the resolution of family issues without resort to court interference.”

This quote is taken directly from a North Carolina Court of Appeals decision in a child support case. Even the courts think that most family law cases should be resolved outside of court! This is, in my mind, an admission that the courts are poorly equipped to find the best possible solution to family disputes. Yet another reason that parties should work very hard to resolve family law issues before going to court.

PLEASE NOTE THAT NOTHING ON THIS BLOG SHOULD BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE AND THAT VIEWING THE INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY TO CONFIRM THE CURRENT STATE OF ANY LEGAL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BLOG, AS THE LAW CONSTANTLY CHANGES.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEGAL REPRESENTATION, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY EMAIL OR AT (919) 781-1311. YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME AT WWW.NICHOLLSCRAMPTON.COM (this site currently being updated).

AUTO INSURANCE YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT


As you read this, do you know if you have uninsured (UM) or under-insured (UIM) automobile insurance? If you don’t, you should call your agent today and find out.

Here’s why:

In North Carolina, if you are in a car accident that is not your fault, the other driver’s auto insurance policy is obligated to pay for your medical care, pain and suffering, lost pay from missed work, etc…BUT, did you know that drivers in North Carolina are only required to have $30,000 worth of liability insurance? That means that in the accident scenario I just mentioned, you could be limited to just $30,000 worth of recovery, regardless of your actual injuries or medical bills.

Further, there are a lot of people driving around in this state without any liability insurance at all. If one of those people hits you, then you will most likely receive nothing for your medical bills or injuries.

Think $30,000 sounds like a lot? Think again. I recently represented a woman who was injured by a driver that ran a red light and hit her in the driver’s side door at 50 miles per hour. Her car landed on an embankment after it was knocked out of the intersection. She had multiple fractures and spent six (6) days in the hospital. Her medical bills alone were well over $30,000. That’s her car in the picture above.

Guess how much insurance the at fault driver had? $30,000. This did not even cover my client’s medical bills, much less lost wages or compensation for the weeks that she could not walk, use the bathroom by herself or live without very strong pain medications and 24 hour help from her daughter and son-in-law.

Now imagine if that driver did not have any liability insurance at all! This is just one of many clients that discovered too late that they did not have enough uninsured or under-insured auto insurance on their policy.

UNINSURED auto insurance is insurance that YOU buy on YOUR auto insurance policy. It pays YOU if YOU are hit by someone that does not have insurance.

UNDER-INSURED auto insurance is also insurance that YOU buy on YOUR auto insurance policy. It pays YOU if YOU are hit by someone that does not have enough insurance to pay all of your damages.

The important point is this: YOU BUY UNINSURED AND UNDER-INSURED COVERAGE TO PROTECT YOU AND THE MEMBERS OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD. It is the way to protect yourself from drivers that have little or no liability insurance. And those drivers are out there in large numbers.

The other thing to keep in mind is that under-insured coverage is reduced by the amount of the other other driver’s liability policy. That means that if the other driver has $30,000 policy limits and you have $50,000 under-insured limits, your total available insurance coverage is $50,000, not $80,000. In my opinion, $50,000 is just not enough uninsured or under-insured coverage.

What’s the bottom line here? I strongly encourage everyone that can afford uninsured and under-insured coverage to buy at least $100,000 worth of both on their policy. And, if you can afford $250,000 or more, then buy it. And, don’t wait for you insurance agent to mention it, because they usually will not.

I hope you never have to recover benefits under either of these types of insurance. But, it will be too late if you are injured by a driver who has little or no insurance of their own. Call your insurance agent and ask them about your under-insured (UIM) and uninsured coverage(UM) today.

PLEASE NOTE THAT NOTHING ON THIS BLOG SHOULD BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE AND THAT VIEWING THE INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY TO CONFIRM THE CURRENT STATE OF ANY LEGAL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BLOG, AS THE LAW CONSTANTLY CHANGES.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEGAL REPRESENTATION, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY EMAIL OR AT (919) 781-1311. YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME AT WWW.NICHOLLSCRAMPTON.COM (this site currently being updated).

Personal Injury – Common Questions

Having begun my legal career working for large insurance companies defending policy holders in lawsuit, I learned how insurance companies view and handle (adjust)claims made against their policy holders. Now I have “switched sides” and I represent people that have been seriously injured in accidents. That has given me a unique perspective on personal injury claims from both sides of the debate.

Here are some of the most common questions I hear from clients and friends,and some answers:

1. Why is the insurance company treating me like I am a criminal?

Answer: Keep in mind that an insurance company is a business. They do not make money by giving it away. They receive hundreds of thousands (if not more) claims a year. And they have to sift through all of those to figure out which ones are bogus (they are out there) and which ones are legitimate. The adjuster (the employee that is assigned to handle your claim) does not know you and has no reason to trust you. If you sat behind a desk all day and tried to figure out who was telling the truth about their claim, who was exaggerating and who was lying, you would become pretty skeptical too. You cannot take it personally or allow it to upset you. Each client only has one case, and it is very important in their lives. However, the insurance company has hundreds of thousands of claims to handle. That produces some less than sympathetic behavior from insurance companies. And, if someone made a claim against your policy, wouldn’t you expect your insurance company to fully investigate before sending someone a check?

2. Why do lawyers file frivolous lawsuits?

Answer: Some lawsuits are frivolous, and some lawyers file frivolous suits. But, the overwhelming majority of personal injury lawsuits are perfectly legitimate, as are the overwhelming majority of lawyers who file those suits. The biggest problem is the “McDonald’s Coffee” case problem. The public only hears about the outrageous cases, and then assumes that those four or five cases out of the millions of cases that are filed each year are representative of what goes on in the courts. But, as an intelligent discerning individual, you have to remember that for every “crazy” case you see on the news, there are millions of legitimate cases that go unnoticed. Insurance companies have a vested interest in convincing the public that lawyers and claimants are money hungry opportunists (not to mention a very strong lobby in Washington, D.C.). It’s not true, but their message has slowly taken effect.

3. How much money will I get in my case?

Answer: No lawyer can or should tell a client how much money the client will get from a case until the money is in hand. The fact is that the lawyer does not get to make the decision as to how much the client’s claim is worth. The only people who can ultimately make that decision are the adjuster, the jury or sometimes the judge. Most lawyers have enough knowledge and experience to be able to provide a range of possible outcomes. But even those ranges are speculative. Each case is factually unique and each seemingly small fact can influence the amount ultimately received. And, some injured people receive nothing in their case.

4. How long will it take before I get my money?

Answer: First, keep in mind that the facts of your case may not entitle you to money. Not every injury entitles someone to money. The other party has to be legally responsible (“liable”) for the injury for a money recovery to be necessary. The general time line of personal injury case is affected by numerous factors. The most common factors are the length of medical treatment, the complexity of the case, whether a lawsuit has been filed and the pace at which the insurance company responds to your attorneys’ communications. Each case is different and will require its own time line. If you have questions about the pace of your case, talk to your attorney. Remember that the attorney cannot control the insurance company or the court system.

5. Do I need a lawyer to resolve my case?

Answer: No. You can settle your claim with the insurance company by yourself. But, without a lawyer you are more likely to settle the case on terms that are more favorable to the insurance company and less favorable to you. Insurance companies frequently offer you a relatively small amount of money to resolve your claim right after the injury. Be very careful in this situation, because you will be required to release any rights to seek more money in the future if you accept this settlement. Getting a lawyer will help you understand the legal issues, evaluate the potential value of your claim and develop an effective strategy for resolving your claim. Let’s put it this way: I would not let a family member resolve a case without at least talking to a lawyer.

There are many more questions about personal injury claims that I am asked on a regular basis. Hopefully, I can address those in the future. But, these are the most common, and hopefully, they answer some of your questions.

More Collaborative Divorce Articles

https://www.collaborativepractice.com/lib/articles/Keen%20Interest%20in%20Gentler%20Ways%20to%20Divorce.pdf

https://www.collaborativepractice.com/lib/articles/CL%20Moving%20To%20Mainstream.pdf

http://www.collaborativepractice.com/lib/PDFs/Collaborative%20Divorce%20Booms.pdf

These articles shows that Collaborative Divorce is popular across the United States. The Associated Press article also give some good information on the costs of different ways of resolving the legal issues in divorce.

Collaborative Law may be new to you, but it is not new to lawyers. It is a tested and established structure for domestic legal issues.

The Six Ways to Dissolve a Marriage

One of the most prominent myths that new client bring to an initial meeting is that getting divorced means going to court. That is not true. In North Carolina, it is entirely possible to get a divorce and resolve the related legal issues of a divorce without ever stepping foot in a courthouse. While only a judge can divorce a couple in North Carolina, the legal issues surrounding a divorce (financial support, property division, co-parenting) can be resolved in at least six different ways.

Couples can resolve these issues through direct negotiation, Collaborative Law, attorney negotiation, mediation, arbitration or litigation.

I have listed these options in descending order of client control; that is, the client has the most control over the outcome in direct negotiation with their spouse/ex-spouse and the Collaborative process, and the least control over the outcome in arbitration and litigation.

Direct negotiation occurs when the parties simply try to resolve their legal issues themselves without the help of attorneys, judges or other third parties. Most couples are unable to do this effectively because of the emotions involved and the lack of substantive knowledge about the issues at hand. Even couples that are able to effectively negotiate with each other face legal traps that can present problems. Direct negotiation has the advantage of placing control over the outcome the parties’ hands. But, its disadvantages typically make it impractical or impossible.

Collaborative Law is very similar to direct negotiation in that is places almost all of the control over the outcome in the hands of the parties. But, it has distinct advantages in that it involves attorneys and other experts that have the substantive knowledge of the law, finances, taxes and other areas necessary to fully address the issues. And, the Collaborative process provides a structure for the negotiations so that the parties can communicate more effectively. In addition, Collaborative Law is generally less expensive than the other options. Perhaps most importantly, the Collaborative process teaches the parties to communicate in a productive, respectful and reasoned manner. This benefit cannot be overestimated, especially for clients that will be co-parenting children in the future.

One of the most historically popular means of resolving a case is through attorney negotiation. In this process, each party hires an attorney to negotiate for them. The lines of communication between the parties is broken by the attorneys. Each party provides directives to their attorney. The attorneys then negotiate with each other on behalf of their clients. Because the attorneys are communicating, and not the clients, the parties lose some control over the end product. Tone, emphasis and other important aspects of the clients communication get lost by the time it reaches the opposing attorney’s ears. And, because attorneys are involved, the cost of each email, letter and phone call increases the cost to the parties. Further, this process does not teach the parties to communicate effectively because they are using their attorneys to communicate for them.

Mediation was the first attempt to reduce the amount of litigation in family law and divorce cases. This process remains very popular today, and is mandatory for many cases filed in North Carolina. Mediation involves a conference in which the parties and their attorneys meet with a “mediator” to try to reach a resolution of the legal issues. The mediator is typically another independent attorney. Mediation places most of the control over the resolution in the hands of the party. In fact, no one is required to agree to anything at mediation. However, typically, the attorneys and the mediator conduct most of the negotiation at mediation. The mediator’s role is to help encourage the parties to resolve the legal issues by pointing out the benefits of a settlement and by pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ arguments. The mediator does not and cannot decide anything for the parties. While mediation is a vast improvement over litigation, it still involves indirect communication between the parties. Therefore, it does not teach the parties to communicate with each other. While mediation can and frequently does solve the immediate legal issues, it does not lay the foundation for productive future communication between the parties. In fact, mediation typically involves the kind of strong arm negotiating tactics that create bitterness and resentment.

Arbitration is essentially an informal trial. Instead of a judge, a neutral third party (usually an attorney selected by the parties) makes decisions for the parties. This process is designed to save a lot of the time and expense involved in a formal court case. Arbitration is a good option when the parties are totally unable to communicate, but do not want to spend the time and money that a court battle requires. However, arbitration take control over the resolution out of the parties’ hands, and places it in the hands of the arbitrator. The arbitrator does not know the parties, their children, their history, their personalities or any of the other things that should be considered in resolving family disputes. The arbitrator only knows the facts that are presented in the hearing. Like litigation, a stranger makes decisions for the parties and their families.

Litigation takes control of both the resolution and the process out of the parties hands and places it in the hands of another stranger, a judge. No matter how well educated, experienced or well meaning a judge, the judge is still a complete stranger to the parties and their family. Further, the judge’s main concern is fairness, as opposed to what works best for a particular problem. A judge has at most a few days to learn everything they can about a family before making a decision. In my experience, even the “winners” in these cases leave the courtroom unhappy because of the inconvenience and disruption that a judge’s decision creates. The only benefit to litigation is that a decision is made and the process (usually) comes to an end. Litigation leaves attorneys wealthy, clients poor and families unhappy.

A very small percentage of my clients choose litigation or arbitration to resolve their family law issues when they are presented with the above options. Most choose attorney negotiation or mediation. However, a growing number of people across the country are choosing Collaborative Law, and reaping the long term benefits of their decision.