Monthly Archives: January 2017

Expert Witness Describes What Things Damage an Infestation of Insects Causes

These issues may cause minor to catastrophic damage based on the insect and how long it has been infesting the property. Expert witnesses are often needed to determine how much damage has been caused, what insect is involved and what this means for the selling and incidents that may occur with the homeowner. If the infestation started before the home was purchased, this may be one case. However, if the infestation started due to the actions of professionals at the residence, an entirely different claim is needed.

In order to better understand the problem plaguing those in the home, an expert witness usually needs to detail the information of the problem. A survey and inspection of the land and the foundation of the house are generally needed to investigate the concern. When this is applied to a legal matter, the issue of who is responsible for the infestation must be proven in addition to how much damage and the added problems with those living in the residence. This includes any injuries caused due to such concerns as termites eating through wooden panels, bites and skin conditions brought on by insect to skin contact.

Evidence Provided by Victims

There are often various types of evidence gathered by the lawyer and offered to the expert witness to apply to his or her report to determine how extensive the damage the insects caused. This could be photographs of the bites, video of infestations and medical records when treatment was sought. If the victim was allergic to the creature in the home, this could lead to further healthcare complications. Some insect infestations could include wasp or bee hives and nests in the most inopportune places. If these are in the attic or under the house, it is possible for stings to occur in multiples during the course of one day.

Through the photos, images, video and description given by the victims of infestations, an expert is often able to discern what type of insect has taken over the building. This is of the utmost importance to understand how best to treat them such as with poisons or traps, and this assists with experts of the medical field in resolving healthcare issues that may have started due to these creatures infesting the home. Some bits or scratches may lead to infections or illness. Knowing what started the ailment helps doctors and physicians treat these concerns with the correct medication and treatments.

Types of Insect Damage

Expert witnesses are needed to classify the insect, the damage and the injury. There are many details necessary for explaining how these combined issues affect the homeowner. The type of damage often depends on the insect that has infested the home. Where these creatures come from may determine who is responsible for compensation. Injuries sustained through these incidents often lead to litigation when the expenses are enough that insurance and other assistance cannot pay for the bills. For professionals in other fields, a report of how these matters affect an individual or family is essential so that the judge or jury are aware of the connection an infestation and residents of a house have.

Termites may eat away at the foundation of a home. This could cause certain areas of the house to fall apart, stairs to break with persons on them and injury through beams landing on individuals. Cockroaches often spread disease and illness through moving about the house. They are also exceedingly difficult to remove once they have been transported to the home. Ants may damage wood, bite and lead to similar problems as other insects their size. Bees may eat away holes in boards, build a hive in the home or attached to the property and sting when threatened. Due to allergies from insects, bites, stings and scratches could land someone in the hospital.

Expert Witness in Infestations

Some experts in the field of insect infestations may have worked for a company that exterminates or that has witnessed in the field how these creatures affect the house and residents living inside the building. However, infestations may occur in a commercial structure as well. If business associates or employees are subjected to the same concerns, litigation is almost certain. It is important that both a lawyer experienced in this type of law and an expert witness are hired to assist with these cases no matter if residentially or commercially related.

Law Forensic Accounting and Divorce

Accountants are commonly used to help lawyers calculate alimony and child support payments and assist in other general financial issues. Forensic accountants are specialists in uncovering hidden income and assets. They may be hired in cases where one spouse is a high earner or a closely held business is involved. In anticipation of a divorce, a spouse may hide or transfer income and assets to lower the amount of support payments. Especially in this case it is recommended that a forensic accountant be consulted. The results could greatly impact the financial outcome of the divorce. At the very least, this level of expertise is beneficial in finding and tracing marital, separate, and joint property.

The forensic accountant will analyze financial statements, accounts, and audits to trace income and assets. He/she can also use personal tax returns and business and fiduciary returns to examine a spouse’s financial status. Public records and loan applications are also helpful tools. Comparison of the family’s lifestyle vs. reported income can reveal discrepancies that need to be investigated.

A closely held business is defined as one that is operated and managed by a small group of shareholders. These are usually, but not always family businesses, and it is estimated that 90 percent of American businesses are closely held. A closely held business is ideal for hiding assets and income, and a good forensic accountant will use the above tools to make a detailed analysis of the hidden value of the company. Several scenarios for concealing income are possible with a closely held business. A spouse may deliberately reduce company profits at the prospect of divorce. He or she could also use business assets for personal benefit over and above reported income, or use the firm to obtain cars, planes, or homes for personal use. Forensic accounting is crucial to appraising the real value of the firm for equitable distribution in a divorce. The forensic accountant can ensure that the statement of income and assets is accurate.

When trying to achieve an equitable settlement for a divorce in Media, the skills of a good forensic accountant can be vital. The investment made in hiring one most often results in a better outcome for the client. The findings of the forensic accountant may prove to be a good negotiating tool when it comes to negotiating a settlement.

Information Public Officials and Privacy

Although the U.S. Constitution calls for a transparent government, each state handles police misconduct differently. In some, disciplinary matters involving police, including shootings, are considered personnel matters. This allows departments to bypass traditional transparency requirements. Maryland is one such state. In Maryland, police disciplinary records are sealed from public access.

Senate Bill 362 is pending in Maryland. Written by state Senator Joan Carter Conway, SB 362 would force police departments to make such records public. The bill has wide support but is facing stiff opposition from police and union officials. The arguments against open reporting include the belief that permitting public access to police misconduct files would needlessly risk the lives of officers, would limit recruiting efforts, and reduce reporting by fellow officers in misconduct cases.

A Pennsylvania bill with just the opposite intent of the Maryland bill was recently vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf. Pennsylvania is one of the states that currently has partial public access to records. In this state, individual department heads have the autonomy to decide what information to release. House Bill 1538 was intended to restrict police departments from making information related to certain police shootings public; it even criminalized doing so. The information which was to be restricted specifically dealt with shootings of unarmed citizens.

In signing the veto, Gov. Wolf stated, “I cannot sign into law a policy that will enshrine the withholding of information in the public interest. These situations in particular — when law enforcement uses deadly force — demand utmost transparency, otherwise a harmful mistrust will grow between police officers and the communities they protect and serve.”

A study by the CATO Institute in 2010 suggests Gov. Wolf is correct. The study considered whether there was a correlation between transparency by police departments and violence against police. The conclusion was that no clear correlation exists, but noted that the states reporting the most violence against police were those which restricted public access to records.

All About Grandparents’ Rights

A common question when determining custody of children is whether, and to what extent, grandparents have a claim to custody, visitation, and guardianship of children. It can be difficult to make important decisions regarding custody or guardianship of a child when the family is at odds.

Every situation is unique, and the manner in which decisions are made by the court depend on the specific nature of the case. However, the most important factor in every child custody case is the best interests of the child. It is not uncommon for some courts to present grandparents as alternative sources of care for children whose parents are not physically or emotionally fit for the task.

Who Should Care for Children?

In cases where the ability of both parents is compromised due to death, illness, drug use, incarceration, or so on, the court will examine whom the parents have chosen to care for the children. In cases where parents have not explicitly outlined an individual, the claim to guardianship that grandparents have depends largely on state laws. Some states will default to the grandparents as guardians if they are available, in good health, and willing to care for the children. Others will assume the children become wards of the state, unless a family member or grandparent makes a specific case to become their guardians.

Because these rights vary from state to state, and are also examined on a case-by-case basis, it is generally advised to seek legal advice when determining guardianship. The bottom line for most cases is that the court will decide in favor of whomever it believes stands to provide the best life for the children. Factors considered include the ability to provide children with their basic needs such as food and shelter, access to education, home stability, physical health, and emotional support.

Grandparents Are Important

Grandparents can be a major influence on a child, especially when those children have suffered from unstable home lives. Grandparents typically become the guardian of a child when there is some form of traumatic event, such as a death, arrest, or serious illness, and thus it is important for them to be able to extend the proper amount of care.

Grandparents also benefit from caring for or being involved in the lives of their grandchildren. A recent study found that people who are actively involved in their grandchildren’s lives tend to be healthier and happier. A University of Virginia study found that grandparents who hug their grandchildren more have lower levels of stress and higher oxytocin levels.