Thursday, December 14, 2017

THE CASE OF THE DNR ORDER TATTOO

            Most of us have heard the story about the unconscious patient brought to an emergency room in Florida with “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed across his chest.   The seventy year old man had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, in addition to other ailments.  
Getting a tattoo to express one’s wishes to not receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may hold some attraction.  After all, the patient’s wishes would seem to be clear and there is no need for your loved ones to rush to the hospital with your DNR request or health care proxy.  But, in fact, it has the opposite effect.  Emergency medical responders would be faced with a dilemma.  If just the letters “D.N.R.” are tattooed, the responders may not immediately see the tattoo or they may not be confident in what the letters represent as it could be the patient’s initials or the initials of a loved one.  It could be that the tattoo was the result of a drunken night gone wrong, such as the case with a patient who was in the hospital for complications related to diabetes.  When asked about the DNR tattoo, he indicated that he had lost a poker bet while inebriated but he wanted CPR if it would prolong his life.  More importantly, if the tattoo is determined to not be legally recognized and the first responder had not resuscitated a patient who could otherwise be saved, he or she may face legal consequences.    Finally, a tattoo is permanent and does not allow the patient to have a change of heart as to their instructions unless they undergo expensive tattoo removal.
            In the case of the Florida patient, the man did not have any identification with him so the hospital delayed implementation of the DNR order.  The hospital only began to honor the patient’s wishes when the hospital’s ethics staff determined that it would be reasonable to assume the tattoo represented the patient’s wishes.  The patient was finally identified and a legally binding DNR order was found which had been signed by the patient.  We recommend that our clients prepare legally binding documents, such as a health care power of attorney or living wills, rather that the use of tattoos to express end-of-life wishes.

            Does your family know what your wishes are with respect to your healthcare in the event you are unable to communicate with your medical care professionals?  There is no need to get a tattoo!  We offer various forms of estate planning depending on each client’s goals and needs, including health care powers of attorney and living wills. Contact us if you want to avoid the situation this man in Florida found himself in, and if you are in a difficult situation, we handle probate litigation as well. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Closing of Supervised Visitation Centers Complicates Contested Parenting Cases

          The Greater Nashua Supervised Visitation Center is expecting to close its doors at the end of the year due to a lack of federal funding.  This closure further reduces the options available to parents needing supervision of their parenting time.  Since the 2014 closing of the Manchester YWCA supervision center, only a handful of supervised visitation centers remain in New Hampshire. In 2016, Focus on Families opened in Manchester, filling part of the void.  However, due to the limited hours each of the centers offer for supervision services, there is often more cases needing supervision than time available to supervise.  With the closing of the Greater Nashua Supervised Visitation Center, the shortage of available supervision will only increase. Supervised visitation centers serve an important role in family law in New Hampshire.

          The need for supervised visitation services is generally as a result of child abuse or domestic violence, but can also be the result of drug or alcohol abuse. Supervision can sometimes be limited to the parenting exchanges.  This is often necessary if the parents are not permitted to have contact due to a domestic violence or other restraining order.  However, supervision is often needed for the entire time the children spend with a parent.  When visitations are fully supervised, a caseworker is present in the room and monitors the entire visit.  The caseworker also prepares notes about the visit, and can also intervene if the parent is behaving inappropriately. If necessary, the caseworker can terminate the visit.

          As we face the closing of Greater Nashua Supervised Visitation Center, we are left with only one available supervision center in southern New Hampshire.  If the parents do not have family members willing or able to supervise a visit, parents may be forced to travel out of state to find supervision.  Alternatively, parents may be unable to spend any time at all with their children. As a result, there are many different considerations being made as to how to deal with the problem, including increased counseling requirements, completion of anger management classes, and other ways the Court can compel a parent that needs supervision to seek help.
          If you are facing a need for supervised visitation for your ex, or even for yourself, the experienced attorneys at Parnell, Michels &McKay can assist you in obtaining the appropriate family law relief for your case. Contact u

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Massachusetts v. New Hampshire: Key Insurance Law Differences

                New Hampshire and Massachusetts share similar histories, but over time their laws have become different. One in particular is the Massachusetts’ consumer protection act (M.G.L 93A) and its sister law M.G.L 176D which regulates the practice of insurance in the state. The big key difference is that the Massachusetts’ consumer protection statute applies to insurance companies conducting business in the Commonwealth, while New Hampshire’s supreme court decided that New Hampshire’s consumer protection statute (RSA 358-A) does not apply to insurance companies. This was a frustrating Court decision that has had significant ramifications on people of New Hampshire being injured by unreasonable and unsupportable insurance practices.

                In Massachusetts, M.G.L 93A provides that if an insurance company violates M.G.L 176D, then the injured party (the Plaintiff in most cases) could be entitled to two to three times their damages, plus costs and attorney’s fees. In a lot of cases, this means a doubling or trebling of the judgment obtained in the underlying injury case. This provides a significant incentive to insurance companies to deal in good faith with injured Plaintiffs, as if they do not they can get hit with large judgments for their unreasonable practices.

                In New Hampshire, our only statute governing the insurance companies when they are unreasonable is RSA 417. This statute does not have much effect, if any, on the practices of insurance companies as they know the penalties for violating that statute are minimal. Thus, insurance companies have been protected by our legislature and Supreme Court to the detriment of its citizens. This was an unfortunate result, and one injured Plaintiffs in New Hampshire have been frustrated by since the ruling came down.

                While Massachusetts has always been more consumer friendly than New Hampshire, it is always important to note that New Hampshire does have some favorable laws. Two of them being no income tax and no sales tax, and the sales tax at least reduces costs for consumers.


                Still, it can be a frustrating practice, and it is important to know your rights in both states when you are injured. The Personal Injury attorneys at Parnell, Michels & McKay can help you navigate the legal field and get the best benefit possible in your case. If you are injured in either New Hampshire in Massachusetts, contact our office today to find out what rights you have. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fake Reviews!

The internet is both a wonder and nuisance. Over the past few months a flurry of New Hampshire attorneys and law firms have been “one star” reviews on Google regarding the quality of their service. Some of the reviews are blank like ours, but often the reviews are filled with diatribes calling the firm “backward”, “hillbillies”, or just plain “stupid”.
It is our belief that these reviews are possibly being left by a disgruntled client of a New Hampshire law firm at some point in time, or worse yet, a competing law firm in New Hampshire. This person is creating several “burner” accounts that fit a similar profile described above that either adopt nonsensical names or take the names of other New Hampshire attorneys.
The following profiles are just one of numerous, similar profiles:
We could continue listing the countless burner accounts, but we believe you readers will get the point. We are more than willing to accept and address any true and honest criticism; however, we feel compelled to answer false criticism. We hope this serves as a cautionary tale of doing your research on the internet.
If you face false criticism, you can seek an injunction and order to have the reviews taken down if they are defamatory in nature.

The attorneys at Parnell, Michels & McKay seek to advise people through the toughest moments in their lives by providing understandable legal advice and guidance to their clients. If you are having a currently dealing with a legal problem, or you have pressing legal concerns, please contact us today!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Co-Parenting Dos and Don'ts

            Several months ago, this blog discussed the value of good co-parenting. All too often, the media plagues its consumers with disheartening narratives like the vindictive ex-wife or the deadbeat dad. Unquestionably, Family Law is a field bursting with deep-seated emotions. The most important thing for any parent is their child. Parents want to make sure their kids are safe and secure, both financially and physically. Parents want to ensure their children grow up healthy, happy and successful. They want a better life for their children. In fact, what is often lost in the media’s tropes are the impact such narratives have on children. These tropes can arise from toxic co-parenting. A consistent and constant problem in a number of cases before New Hampshire’s Family Courts arises from parents’ inability to effectively cooperate with one another, where their old romantic issues bleed into the raising of their children.

            While lawyers should never pretend to be trained psychologists or family therapists, clients rely on us to tell them what the “right” thing to do is. However, what is “right” can take on several different meanings, which is often dependent on the client’s perspective. There are a few areas a client must consider: their legal rights and the practical outcome from the exercise of those rights. At Parnell, Michels & McKay, our attorneys always counsel our clients to try and work out their issues with their exes before filing in Court. In particular, while counseling on the legal implications and choices in front of a client, we turn that client’s focus to the importance of co-parenting. However, what is “good” co-parenting?

Several years ago, Psychology Today wrote an article that contained a “Do and Don’t” styled checklist to establish good co-parenting. While the “Do” items on that checklist are certainly useful, the most important information comes from the “Don’t” section. Specifically, the last item titled, “Don’t Accuse. Discuss”. Many co-parenting relationships break down because the other partner is focused on what they want for their child without first addressing the other parent’s position. Often, the parenting devolves into what one parent wants to see from the other parent in the name of “the good of their child”. A good co-parenting tree starts from the seed of effective communication. While you may have a problem with the other parent’s style of parenting, how that issue is addressed often makes the difference between well-functioning co-parents and toxic co-parenting. Certainly, there may be times where the parties cannot agree and they have a reasonable basis for it. However, even if the matter ends up in Court, both parents have to be willing to listen to the other parent going forward on their disagreement, because that decision alone sets a good example for their children.

Before you consider filing a motion against your ex-partner, it would be wise to consult with an attorney who can provide you with both the legal and practical advice. The family law attorneys at Parnell, Michels & McKay are well-versed in providing such a two-pronged approach when dealing with family matters. We seek to advise people through the emotional mountains and valleys that come with a family law dispute. If you are interested in learning more about parenting plans, divorce, child support, or any other legal worries, please contact us to learn more. We can help you get you back to parenting in normalcy.   



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! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH4LBLvsEys