Thursday, June 15, 2017

Non-Traditional Injury Cases: Trip and Falls and Product Liability

                Most injury cases that are handled by personal injury attorneys are auto accident cases. Auto accidents are by far the most common, as driving a car comes with significant inherent risks. The same can be said for riding a motorcycle or a bicycle, and the injuries from this accidents can be devastating. However, there are many other types of cases like slip and falls, trip and falls, dog bites, and other incidents that lead to injuries.
                While we have addressed slip and falls and our strategy in approaching them, the trip and fall case is often confused with a slip and fall. A trip and fall generally comes as a result of some unknown invisible defect that causes a person to trip and fall, or dangerously constructed stair way or walkway that does the same. In order to property handle such cases, it is very important to first focus on building codes and other potential violations of the appropriate standard of care. This involves a very specific way of discovering the date the building where the incident was built, the date any modifications were approved, and the building codes in effect at the time of the fall. Other factors to look at include site views, pictures of the scene of the fall, and checking out whether past injuries have occurred there.
                Other types of cases can include product liability cases where a product is defective. Product liability generally includes three types of cases. A defect in the design of the product itself; a defect in created in the manufacturing of the product; and/or a defect in the warning on the product. A design defect is where the design itself of the product is problematic. A manufacturing defect is where the design is acceptable, but during manufacturing something went wrong and the product was faulty. The final type includes a failure to warn the person properly of the dangerous nature of the product itself. While easy to understand in the abstract, these can be difficult cases to prove, so professional representation is always recommended.

                At Parnell, Michels & McKay, we handle all forms of personal injury cases. Often, we are required to use our extensive combined experience to pursue these claims in an efficient and knowledgeable manner. It is important that if you find yourself experienced counsel to handle your injury cases, so contact us today and put our advanced knowledge to use on your behalf.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

New Hampshire Celebrates 100 years of Women Practicing Law in NH!

What an incredible celebration last week: 100 years of women practicing law in New Hampshire!! There were many speakers, all of whom discussed the impact women have had on the bar in New Hampshire, and all the great things they have done in the last 100 years. 

Check out the video!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Woodmont Commons Groundbreaking

                Yesterday, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Woodmont Commons project was held at the old Woodmont Orchard building on Pillsbury Road in Londonderry, New Hampshire. The main roadway giving access to the Commons was named Michels Way, after the late John Michels who was Nancy Michels partner and late husband. Governor Sununu, Mayor Ted Gatsas of Manchester, Kevin Smith (Londonderry Town Manager), and Christopher Pappas of the Executive Council all joined Nancy to celebrate this seminal achievement of both the community at large and of John Michels hard work in getting the initial stages of the project moving forward.

                The project is a modern development that will provide walking access to businesses, retail stores, restaurants and other amenities. The plan involves a production brewery to be installed as well, and will dovetail with the Exit 4A project that should be completed in 2021, and provide greater access to the Londonderry/Derry Communities. You can read more about it here.

                Parnell, Michels & McKay is happy to continue their involvement in the project and in support thereof. More than anything, it was fantastic to see John Michels being honored for his tireless dedication to the Woodmont Commons project, and bringing Londonderry into the forefront of modern New Hampshire towns. The Union Leader provided coverage of the ceremony, including Nancy Michels being able to take part in the official ceremony with the Governor and other important New Hampshire Figures.

                We look forward to continuing to serve the community of Southern New Hampshire, and helping assist the Woodmont Commons project moving forward. As always, our firm is ready to help out those in the community with their legal needs. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Personal Injuries: Maximizing Settlement Value

            Personal Injury cases are often unfortunate events that happen to good people. This can affect someone’s ability to work, their daily lives, and can have devastating effects on a person. However, it is often confusing to most people how we look at cases and how we value them. The hope is always that the injured person can recover, and get back to 100% of their previous health. Sometimes, there is no getting back to 100%, which is an awful situation to be in. In either scenario, your doctors will tell you when you are no longer expected to improve. This is called reaching “maximum medical improvement”. At this point, it is time to try to evaluate the claim you have and find out what settlement you should take.   

            The bulk of your claim is made up of the costs of your medical treatment. Typically, if you get back to 100%, this will only include your past medical treatment. If you find yourself permanently injured, then future medical expenses are included in the compensation, as is a potential permanent impairment. Other expenses that an injured party is entitled to compensation for are past and future lost income, mileage you incurred medical appointments, and pain and suffering. All of these things can sometimes be difficult to value. Insurance adjusters know this, and if an injured party does not have experienced counsel, they leverage this uncertainty into a lower settlement. This is unfortunate, but this is the reality of the way our system works. Having an experienced injury attorney is integral to getting the best result, and maximizing your available benefits.

That is why at Parnell, Michels & McKay we have utilized a time-tested system to accurately calculate for all of these uncertain expenses. We know how insurance companies evaluate your file, and we have extensive experience getting our clients the settlements that accurately account for their loss. We also have experience trying jury cases, and with that knowledge, we can advise our clients on what a jury of your peers would likely decide, and how that affects the decision you make on settling.

If you find yourself injured, contact Parnell, Michels & McKay today and find out how we have helped secure millions of dollars in compensation for our clients.  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Co-Parenting: Sacrificing Your Own Desires for the Betterment of your Child

            Family Law is arguably the legal profession’s most volatile field. Certainly, there are a number of other fields that could vie for this claim. Intellectual Property Law is in constant flux, there is often palpable tension at Real Estate closings, and in Criminal Law, individual freedom often hangs in the balance. However, it is in the realm of Family Law that those with deep emotional hurt must plot out the remaining years of those who are most important to them: their children. All too often, individuals are blinded by their disgust and anger with their ex-partners to properly address co-parenting. Are there times when a parent effectively has chosen to alienate themselves from their child? Unfortunately, that answer is sometimes yes, but a significant majority of the time parents simply fail to work well with one another.  

            The Huffington Post recently took on the subject of the importance of co-parenting. The theme of the narrative is “Don’t Pack A Bag”. In short, the article’s message is that while the child may have separate homes, he or she should not have separate lives. A child should not be made to feel that his or her life is transitory, or that they are a visitor in their own home. In Section B, Paragraph 6, Subsection (c) of New Hampshire’s parenting plan form, the State attempts to address this specific issue with a checkbox. Still, there are many issues that a model form cannot cover. The article wants to draw attention to the fact that details are important. New co-parents are frequently concerned with amounts of time that “they get”, while children just want more time. At Parnell, Michels & McKay, we believe part of the attorney’s role is to try to help guide new co-parents through this transitionary period in their parenting.

Too often, new co-parents lose sight of the little details. New co-parents are unaware of the impact that poorly-managed separate homes that are founded upon equally poorly drafted parenting plans could have on a child. When ex-spouses or ex-lovers seek to structure their lives as an independent bastion against the other, their ability to co-parent is sufficiently diminished. While not suitable for every situation, new co-parents do well to frame their thinking neutrally. The key question ought to be what is in the best interest of our child, not what is my best interest for my child.

            Parenting is not easy. Determining a balanced parenting plan between two people who carry significant polarizing emotions between one another is all the more difficult. If you are thinking about divorce, or have recently separated from a longtime companion but were not married, the attorneys at Parnell, Michels & McKay can help. We seek to counsel people through the turbulence that arises from the changes in one’s personal life. We strive to provide a fair evaluation of the legal entanglements involved in Family Law and what one can expect once the unexpected happens. If you are interested in learning more about parenting plans, divorce, child support, or any other legal worries, please contact us to learn more. Let us help you begin to get your life back on track.   

-- David M. Stamatis, Esq.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Cathy McKay and the Woman to Woman Project

            In the modern legalized world, sometimes people simply need help, advice, or an education. However, many people often lack the basic means to receive such guidance. Through their kind deeds, volunteers help these people by devoting their time and providing their knowledge and expertise to those that desperately need it. Cathy McKay is one such volunteer.

Apart from the countless other activities, boards, and volunteer work she participates in, Cathy is a member of the New Hampshire Woman’s Bar Association (NHWBA). The NHWBA, in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, developed and runs the Woman to Woman Project. The Project is focused on extending the NHWBA’s goal of “[promoting] the advancement and interests of woman in the legal community through leadership, professional interaction, education, and exchange of ideas.” (See the recent New Hampshire Bar News article for more). The goal of the program is twofold to provide general answers to those with questions in the family law field, but lack financial support, and to maintain the equality of services between the men and woman’s prison. Overall, the hope is that these women can learn from their legal troubles and come away with a better understanding of the system of laws and regulations that impacts their lives and their children’s lives.

            The office of Parnell, Michels & McKay would like to thank Cathy on her selfless service to her profession, New Hampshire, and its citizens. We here at Parnell, Michels & McKay truly strive to help those out there in need of guidance by untangling what can be a complicated web of legalese. We seek to counsel people through life’s difficult moments with personal empathy and countless years of legal experience. If you are interested in learning more about Family Law, or you have another legal matter that needs to be address, please contact us to learn more. If you would like to know more about the NHWBA or the Woman to Woman Project, please visit the NHWBA’s website here.  

-          By: David M. Stamatis, Esq.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Office Christmas Party - Legal edition

            With just a few days before one of the biggest holidays of the year, many businesses choose to reward their employees by throwing holiday parties. These festive celebrations can help reward the employees for the company’s good year while inspiring thoughts of togetherness and good cheer. However, how often do we hear about the raucousness of some holiday parties? It seems like every year, there is some national news story about allegations of sexual assault or other wildly inappropriate and dangerous behavior by superiors to subordinates or co-workers to other co-workers (e.g. this story about a supervisor who installed a stripper pole for his employees). Often, these bouts of horrendous behavior are spurred on by alcohol. Many pop culture staples have taken on the “office party” tableau, including The Office and Mad Men. In fact, this year, Dreamworks and Paramount released a movie playfully mocking these workplace gatherings in the appropriately titled, “Office Christmas Party”. While these media mainstays may have us joyfully laughing at the actions of fictitious characters, these events cannot be treated as a laughing matter for employers.

            Employers ought to be concerned with the actions of employees who may have imbibed a tad too much at their holiday gatherings. If that employee gets into an accident on the way home from such a gathering, the employer may have significantly more to worry about than terminating an employee with poor decision making skills. While Courts in the “Live Free or Die” State held that “it is the drinking, not the providing, of alcohol that causes the harm,” duties for employers will still develop if they serve as their employees’ social host. Hickingbotham v. Burke, 140 N.H. 28, 34 (1995).

In New Hampshire, the law focuses on who provides the alcohol and where it is provided. While there is more than one theory of recovery, a quick primer on the law of social hosts and respondeat superior may help guide employers through the holiday season. Consider the following scenario: Smaller businesses may consider buying and providing alcohol to their employees at an office gathering at work to save some money. For peace of mind, these smaller businesses are better served by hiring a bartender for the event and/or renting a separate location. While larger business may not have the financial concerns that smaller businesses have the advice applies to them in the same measure.

            Without the separation of location and alcohol provider, business maybe looked at as a social host, or worse yet, as holding the party within the confines of employees’ scope of work. Both theories are fact based inquiries that will target the exact who, what, where, when, how, and why of the party and the alcohol served. If the employer is considered a social host, an injured third party would need to show that the social host placed their guests in such a position that the host “consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustified risk of a high degree of danger” through the (over) provision of alcohol to their guests. Id. at 33. The theory of respondeat superior would require the injured party to prove that the employer imputed upon itself a duty to third parties by holding an office party that was within the scope of the employee’s job, not as an employee individually. See Estate of Thompson v. McClure, 2001 N.H. Super. LEXIS 21, *4–5 (Super. Ct. 2001) (quoting Trahan-Laroche v. Lockheed Sanders, 139 N.H. 483, 485 (1995)); see also Everitt v. Gen. Elec. Co., 159 N.H. 232, 238 (2009) (leaving the door open for recovery under the theory similar to respondeat superior but for unrelated parties). Thus, by having off-campus parties, with separate bartenders, on time or days that are not during work hours, employers separate themselves from the actions of their employees. Employers do well to remember that while third-party liability is difficult to prove, it is not impossible. Thus, it is best to operate under the motto of, “spend a nickel to save a dime”.  

            Christmas, and all the holidays celebrated this season, should be fun events that leave you with happy memories for a lifetime. Unfortunately, these times do not always pan out the way you hope. If you have been injured by slipping on a poorly shoveled walkway, you have had a car accident during icy conditions, the holiday money crunch has left you thinking about bankruptcy, or you are simply considering about divorce, the attorneys at Parnell, Michels & McKay can help. We seek to counsel people through life’s difficult moments with personal empathy and countless years of legal experience. If you are interested in learning more about some of the topics mentioned in this post, or you have a pressing legal concern, please contact us to learn more. Let us help you get back to having a happy holiday season.