Monday, May 25, 2015

Personal Injury Attorney - Construction Accidents

I have helped many injured workers throughout New York City and Long Island obtain compensation for construction accident injuries, particularly gravity-related injuries such as falling from a height or being struck by a falling object. 

I have over ten years of experience with construction accident cases cases, starting with a law school internship in the claims department of a major municipal entity working on evaluating possible settlements for hundreds of construction injury claims.  I focused on personal injury litigation following law school, and not only settled and tried numerous cases, but also argued and won multiple significant appeals.

If you have been injured in a construction accident, contact me for a free consultation.  

Scott J. Kreppein, Esq.
Email: Skreppein@Qhmlaw.com


Friday, May 8, 2015

Employment: Minimum Salary


I have seen a few cases recently where employers paid a minimal salary to avoid minimum wage and overtime requirements.  

There are legal requirements for making someone a salaried (or "exempt") employee. 

Among other things, the minimum pay must be at least $23,600 per year ($455 per week).  That is an absolute minimum, and does not, by itself, render someone exempt from overtime laws.  Paying a salary cannot be used an excuse to circumvent minimum wage and overtime laws.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Divorce and Family Law: Put On A Happy Face

One difficult issues that parents face when dealing with divorce, custody, or visitation is the pick-up and drop-off.  In addition to logistical problems (who drives where and when), the exchange is an emotional trigger for all involved.

One frequently used adage by judges is that both parents need to "put on a happy face."  In normal circumstances (absent health and safety issues), even if there's a profane litany of thoughts about your ex in your mind, and your child is expressing their reluctance to go, your outward expression needs to be something to the effect of "you're going to have so much fun."  It is similar to school.  Even if you didn't like going to school, and your child doesn't like going to school, you make them go and try to sound positive about it.  

On return, you welcome them back.  If you ask questions, they should generally be positive and geared towards reinforcing the exchange as a positive experience. The drop-off should not be followed by a debriefing trying to dig up negative information about the other parent.

Kids look to their parents for guidance about how to feel about situations. If you show that you're scared, nervous, or upset, then they may feel scared, nervous, or upset.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

SANDY CLAIMS

There has been a lot of activity lately in the Superstorm Sandy litigations.

At least with respect to my inventory of cases on the insurance claims, we are getting closer towards finalizing settlements in both the residential and commercial matters.  

I spent the morning in the Town of Hempstead building department helping a client work through issues.  Although the process may be difficult for many, the local town staff in the affected municipalities have been, from what I have seen, very helpful.  

Many individuals and businesses have recovered, but too many are still unfortunately, as I have heard it described, "trapped in the second day of the storm."

For those with attorneys, there are plenty of excellent lawyers working on these cases.  There are also, sadly, many storm victims who just became numbers on a spreadsheet somewhere halfway across the country.  

If you need help resolving your Sandy-related claim, please feel free to contact me at 631-482-9700 or send me an email at Skreppein@Qhmlaw.com. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Equitable Distribution Rights in New York

In many contested divorces, both sides lose.  The way to win - for both sides - is to identify and know your rights, stay focused, and keep any litigation targeted towards defined goals.

In principal, matrimonial litigation is an easy area of law.  Nearly everything is a question of "equity," with the court determining what is fair based upon the unique facts of each case in the event the parties cannot agree.  In practice, however, it can be very difficult to get divorcing spouses (or even reasonable attorneys) to agree on what is fair. 

There are some basic guidelines for equitable distribution.  Some of these guidelines are established by statutes and case law, while others are a matter of common practice that divorce attorneys pick up with experience.   There are, generally, four categories of assets at issue in a divorce.

First, seperate property (premarital property, inherited property, personal injury proceeds, and certain other defined categories) remains seperate.  

Second, ordinary marital assets (bank accounts, the marital portion of retirement accounts, real estate, etc.) are generally divided equally.

Third, personal property and tangible household items are best divided by mutual agreement.  In most cases, the personal property is not worth fighting over.  Although perhaps costly to acquire, used items often have negligible value.  They can be sold with the proceeds divided, but that often is not an ideal solution.  If you have two decent TV's for example, you are probably better off getting the worse of the two rather than selling them both and trying to buy a new one with your half of the proceeds.  Resolution of simple disputes can be facilitated by a series of coin flips or a similar divice. In higher asset cases, a detailed appraisal can be used to account for the value of collectables, artwork, jewelry, antiques, etc. 

Fourth, with illiquid "assets," such as a business created during the marriage, the value of a degree or professional license, or similar items, equitable distribution usually does not mean equal.  The non-titled spouse's interest in these assets is proportionate to their direct or indirect contribution towards the acquisition and growth of the asset during the marriage.  These rights can range from zero for an essentially absentee spouse to near-50% for a side-by-side equal business partner. Experts can place a dollar value on these items, and the non-titled spouse's interest is usually around 20% in a typical case. 

There are no "winners" in equitable distribution in the ordinary sense.  The parties are dividing what they already own.  The winners in divorce are the parties who maximize their proceeds from the marital estate, which in most cases means reaching a fair distribution while minimizing the transaction cost of obtaining that result.  Hiring a skilled attorney is an investment.  Divorce attorneys cannot increase the overall marital estate, but we can complete the due diligence needed to assess the value of the estate, and guide you towards making informed decisions as to your rights.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Visitation, Custody and Parenting Time Attorney


As a very general rule, family law attorneys try to encourage compromise and cooperation on custody, visitation, and parenting time issues, thereby helping clients transition into healthy co-parenting relationships. 

The "ideal" custody/visitation scenario consists of parents agreeing on joint custody between themselves, but with each consulting counsel so as to make an informed decision, with both parents staying within the same school district, working locally, with roughly 50/50 parenting time (which can be structure in several ways to fit their situation).  Child support is statutory, with appropriate adjustments when necessary to ensure that the children are properly provided for in both households. 

This ideal scenario is often not appropriate, whether due to practical limitations (i.e. residence, work schedule, the children's needs and comfort, etc.), or parenting concerns (the child's best interests being served, for whatever reason, with one parent serving as a primary caretaker and/or decision-maker).  The question is always the best interest of the child, and most cases involve either a failure of communication or a good faith dispute over parenting issues, not whether the other parent is so troubled and dispicable of a human being that should have less influence over their progeny

Even with two loving and responsible parents, it is at times appropriate -- based on the children's needs -- to emphasize quality over quantity and recommend unequal parenting time.  Making the best of a compromise can often be better, in the long run, than the direct and indirect damage caused to children heated and protracted custody battles.

Every situation and every set of parents and children are vastly different.  Family law is possibly the most case-specific area of law.  People in ostensibly identical situations will have wildly divergent experiences.  Personality plays a huge role, and Family Court and matrimonial judges have substantial discretion to determine issues on a case-by-case basis.

Family law is also possibly the most contentious area of law, with parents -- at the same time as they are often dealing with highly-emotional issues between themselves -- fighting over what they feel is best for their children.  

As a family law and matrimonial attorney, I have become particularly adept at facilitating amicable settlements.  My personality is well suited towards consiliatory discussion.  Generally, I am patient, deliberate, slow to anger, empathetic, matter of fact, and not easily distracted by ancillary issues. 

At the same time, however, I can be an effective, aggressive, and ruthless litigator.  I honed my skills as a trial attorney by handling jury trials in personal injury cases, obtaining multiple six-figure verdicts , and working on trial teams that resulted in several seven- and eight-figure verdicts and settlements. 

When necessary, I have no problem "being the bad guy" and holding a firm position, and I won't hesitate to take a case to trial where appropriate.