Socioeconomic Status & Location Increase Risk of Bicycle Injury to Kids, Study Finds

A new study finds that kids with lower socioeconomic status and kids riding on the sidewalk or in rural areas have an increased risk of bicycle injury. Authors of the study who compared bicyclists under 20 years of age, from 1990 to 2015, in 5 different countries urge drivers to stay alert on roadways. Read more here.

Protecting Your Homestead Proceeds Upon Sale of Property

In a ruling which is useful for sellers of their primary residences, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the protected status of funds generated by the sale of a homestead property. The issue was whether proceeds from the sale of a debtor’s homestead retain their Article X, Section 4 Florida constitutional protection against a writ of garnishment when the funds were divided into multiple accounts, including a brokerage account investing in mutual funds and stocks? JBK Assoc., Inc. v. Sill Bros., Inc., Case No.: SC-977 (Fla. April 28, 2016). In finding that the funds retained their constitutional protected status the Court affirmed the Fourth District Court of Appeal decision, which in turn had affirmed the trial court decision.

In short, JBK, a judgment creditor of Sill, served a writ of garnishment upon Wells Fargo. Sill moved to dissolve the writ to protect his deposit accounts at Wells Fargo. As a result of earlier divorce proceedings, the couple’s marital home was sold, and Sill deposited his portion of the proceeds into Wells Fargo accounts, including an investment account.

The Supreme Court began by emphasizing the tradition liberal construction in favor of the homestead declared in Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution exempting homesteads from forced sale. Further, the party objecting to the exemption, normally the judgment creditor, bears the burden “to make a strong showing that the claimant is not entitled to the claim exemption.” (Citations omitted) relying on two Florida Bankruptcy Court decisions.

The Court restated a three part test to protect proceeds from creditors after the sale of a homestead:

(1) there must be a good faith intention, prior to and at the time of the sale, to reinvest the proceeds in another homestead within a reasonable time;

(2) the funds must not be commingled with other monies;

(3) the proceeds must be kept separate and apart and held for the sole purpose of acquiring another home.

The Court recognized that allowing funds to be placed into investment accounts serves a practical purpose:

In today’s economic climate, in which traditional bank accounts do not garner any significant amount of interest earnings, we do not believe placing the proceeds from the sale of a homestead in the type of safe investment account at issue here demonstrates an intent so different from reinvestment in a new homestead within a reasonable time as to violate Orange Brevard.

The Court characterized Sills accounts as not being speculative and not turning over constantly.

So what is the careful debtor to do? When handling homestead proceeds it does bear attention to follow the “Court’s three part requirement” carefully, document the intent to reinvest funds in a new homestead and label the funds as “homestead.”

Alternatives to Pain Pills Often Denied by Insurance Companies

Its discerning that insurance companies often deny coverage for alternatives to strong pain pills when nerve simulators, biofeedback, acupuncture, cognitive therapy, prolotherapy and PRP are so widely available with tremendous results. Watch the NBC Nightly News Report here

Big Tobacco Slapped with $6.4 Million Verdict, $0 in Punitive Damages

The question of addiction was at the heart of Prentice v. R.J. Reynolds, 2008-CA-000386 where a jury returned a verdict of $6.4 million to the family of a Florida smoker who died of emphysema. No money was awarded for punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds. Read more here.

You’ve Got Mail: Misconceptions about Email Delivery

Have you, your staff, or a client ever sent an important email that the recipient claimed he or she did not receive? Understanding the common misconceptions about email delivery, i.e. ‘read receipt’ and ‘delivery receipt’ notifications, will help your business. It will also reinforce the importance of follow-up. Read more here.

Hurricane Matthew Damage Assessment for Orange County

Based on an email from Rick Singh, Orange County Property Appraiser, the rough estimate of total damage inflicted by Hurricane Matthew is assessed at approximately $552,129.00 (subject to change). If you have any questions or concerns about property damage, you can contact the OCPA at (407) 836-5044.

Florida Approves 14.5% Workers’ Comp Rate Hike in Response to Court Rulings

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) has given contingent approval for an overall statewide workers’ compensation rate increase of 14.5 percent to take effect Dec. 1, 2016. The rate increase is in response to two recent Supreme Court rulings undoing reforms passed in 2003 and rocking the state’s workers’ compensation system. Read more here.

Dealing with Your Insurance Carrier in the Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew – Practice Tip

Hurricane Matthew threatens Florida and  its effects will be felt far beyond the eye of the storm, including potential impact to buildings and structures by devastating wind, rain, storm surges, snapped or uprooted trees, roadway signs and large airborne projectiles. Regardless of whether you OWN or RENT, take pictures and/or video of the interior and exterior of your home prior to the storm. This will serve as evidence in a dispute with your insurance carrier as to the extent of damage in a potential claim. Often people will unsuccessfully attempt to negotiate claims with their insurance company prior to hiring a lawyer. We welcome you to call our office first for a free consultation regarding property damage and loss. (407) 809-9000.

The Disturbing Rise in Traffic Deaths in the First Half of 2016

Experts say that self-driving vehicles drive more safely than humans, a theory contradicted when several Tesla Model S vehicles crashed this year while in autonomous driving mode. The number of roadway deaths spiked by 10% in the first half of 2016. Read on here.