>> Tiffany Bittner: Hello and welcome to LawCall. Here’s what is coming up tonight. In our caller segment you can ask about anything from dog bites to insurance, folks. 855-LAW-1955. Plus, we explain what an accident diary is and how it can help you if you have been involved in a wreck. In you are considering a divorce, have you considered mediation? First, personal injury attorney Kirby Farris is here to answer your questions. T.J. says, I had friends over for drinks the other weekend. One fell from the back porch and hurt her knee. Can she sue me?
>> Ken Riley: It depends on how she fell and why. Yes, you could be liable for that. If there was a defect that caused the fall you could be liable for that. Your homeowner’s insurance would have to cover her care. I notice you say she was drinking. If that led to her fall, you wouldn’t be liable. If there was a defect that caused her to fall, you could be liable.
>> Tiffany Bittner: If you need information head to delivery justice.com. In tonight’s side bar, Ken Riley explains what an accident diary is.
>> Ken Riley: There are so many details in filing an active claim. What is the best way to get organized? It may be months before you need to recall the details of the accident. You think you will never forget the details, but you probably will. Don’t rely on your memory. I suggest you start an accident diary. Write down everything you can remember about the accident. Keep a log of the injuries, even those that seem minor. A headache today could be more serious later on. Did you have a rent a car? Did you have to have someone cut your grass? List who was present at the accident and the conversations you had. It may be important if you have to confirm what happened. You will have a record of the accident and its result in your life. I’m personal injury attorney Ken Riley.
>> Tiffany Bittner: good evening to you. We hope you will call in. We have Kirby Farris of the law firm Farris, Riley and Pitt. Each week we take on a legal matter and ask questions pertaining to the subject. This week, it’s the ask us anything show. It’s fun to hear the different calls and questions coming in. Kirby, tell everybody who you brought on to answer questions.
>> Ken Riley: I needed a friend who had vast knowledge about the law. Ty is a great friend of mine. He spent three or four years with the district attorney’s office trying capital murder cases, then opened his own practice. He helps people with a lot of issues in their lives. I’m thrilled to have him with us tonight. Great to see you.
>> Tiffany Bittner: tell us about your practice and what they need to know. We’ll give them the number in a little bit.
>> Ty Townsend: We are a broad practice. We have handled significant cases in the line. We do employment discrimination and contract work. We have had recent success with those type of cases. They are intricate and take a good bit of background to make them successful. We do the standard slip and fall. It depends on the nature of the case and the amount of time we have to investigate it’s a viable cause before we advise anyone to go forward.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We have folks that want to talk to you. We begin with Linda in Avondale tonight. Are you on the line?
>> Caller (Linda): Hello.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Are you there?
>> Caller (Linda): Yes, I am. Thank you for taking my call. I have a baseball card —
>> Tiffany Bittner: Linda, I apologize. We are struggling to hear you. You may need to call back.
>> Caller (Linda): Are you hearing me better now?
>> Tiffany Bittner: can a bank transfer money to a better account that is passed due — is her question.
>> Based on my background, there has to be some actual content to transfer money between accounts. I don’t think the bank has liberty unless there was something in the contract that says if you are delinquent or not fulfilling your part of the contract, they can override your personal choice and apply it where there is a deficiency of some type.
>> Tiffany Bittner: David is our next caller in Helena.
>> Caller (David): Hi.
>> Hey, David.
>> Caller (David): How are you guys tonight?
>> We are good. Do you have a question for us?
>> Caller (David): I do. I have been ordered to pay child support and I have for many years. That’s taken out of my check when I get paid. My daughter has joined the army reserves. She graduates this year. She’s joined. My question is, will I continue to pay that as ordered, or will it be put on hold because she’s gone for a while. I’m not sure how that works?
>> That’s an interesting question. There are several factors to be addressed by the court. The child support was established through a divorce or court order, through family court, that’s one of the first differences to come to a conclusion about. There is something called reaching the age of majority. You as the individual paying child support have the obligation to notify the court and file a petition with the court saying this child is no longer able to receive child support under the current finding the court has. You have to make the court aware of that. They are not going to do it on their own. It’s their responsibility. I advise having a passenger filed on your behalf.
>> I’m thinking you can’t just stop because you want to.
>> That’s a bad idea. David needs to get with the lawyer. That’s going to take a court order.
>> Tiffany Bittner: let’s take a break. When we come back we’ll say “ask us anything.” We’ll be right back.
>> Tiffany Bittner: you may have heard of the use of mediation in legal battles. There are questions about how it works.
>> Mediation can be used to resolve a variety of issues without a trial. Mediators are getting more calls about divorces. In many cases the parties are happier coming to a mutual agreement rather than letting a third party like a judge arrange their property and children. It’s not a magic solution. It’s voluntary. The mediator doesn’t have binding authority and if they are not successful, the case can still be tried. Bills are billed hourly and some may set a flat fee for services. The total cost will depend on how long it takes for the parties to come to an agreement. Still, it’s turned many issues into an outcome everyone can live with. I’m Bob Prince. Back to you.
>> Tiffany Bittner: it’s our ask us anything show. Call us if you have a question for us. We have Cynthia on the line tonight. You are on live, my friend. What is going on?
>> Caller (Cynthia): Thanks for taking my call. I’m considering becoming part of a national class-action lawsuit. I’m concerned and hesitant because the fee is 45% of whatever award you get. If the victim is the injured person, why is it that the fee is set for the attorneys to get 45%, almost half and half but you are the injured party?
>> There are standard fees most attorneys use in their practice. 45% is not expressive depending on the time and resources the attorney put into the case to bring it to has hopeful conclusion for you.
>> Class action suits involve multiple plaintiffs and the risk is spread among the plaintiffs in the case. The attorneys that take on the class action case have to look at the benefits for all involved. They have to focus on everybody with a viable claim in the case. The time and resources to fight a class action type of litigation is extremely high. It’s very time consuming and often involves laws of several states. It’s a complicated process. It’s something you have every opportunity to discuss with the class action attorneys and make a decision if you want them to represent you or hire an attorney on your own and have you withdraw from a class action settle and move forward on claims. It’s a decision you have to make with complete knowledge of the choice that you are making.
>> If she chooses to do that, the fee is probably going to be the same. The fee is fairly routine. By way of example, we handle class actions. We have handled class actions with 10 or 11,000 manufacturers. One time was in 38 different states.
>> Tiffany Bittner: : there is a lot of behind the scenes leg work you do.
>> You tie up a lot of money. They are complex.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We have Winky on tonight. Hello. You have our attention.
>> Caller (Winky): Hello. I was wondering if there is a couple divorced for two years and there was alimony in the divorce, but they have been back together for eight months, does the alimony stay in effect?
>> They were divorced several years but now they are reconciling?
>> Caller (Winky): We’ll be divorced two years next month. We have moved back in together for the past eight months. Will the alimony continue?
>> That’s an interesting question you have.
>> Alimony is an issue ordered by the court during the divorce degree itself. Any change, once again, has to go before the judge before it can be altered in anyway. It would be my suggestion that whoever is interested in altering the decree get legal counsel and go before the court and have it done by court order. Normally, you can’t disregard a court order regardless of your current situation, even if you have reconciled on your own. The court has to review and act upon by the jurisdiction.
>> Tiffany Bittner: thank you for your call. I think it’s Tim next. Are you on the line?
>> Caller (Tim): Yes.
>> Hey, good evening.
>> Hey, Tim
>> Caller (Tim): How you doing?
>> Doing great. I hope you are?
>> Caller (Tim): Okay, are you ready for my question?
>> Yes, sir.
>> Go ahead.
>> Caller (Tim): I have been out of work on disability for two years now. I haven’t had a job or nothing. The local dealer had us come down and look at a car because we are trying to find something better for my wife. At the time, somehow they have taken permission from my wife’s work, had her stay with the child and had me sign the papers and next thing I knew I was buying a 2016 vehicle. I have been on morphine and all of that. The way they done it wrong to us, trying to make it right. I tried to talk to them. They said it wasn’t a problem because I signed a contract. Being on medication and not understanding is there anything I can do to get out of this?
>> When you sign a contract there has to be a meeting of the minds. Every party has to understand the terms of the contract and knowingly move forward on the contract. If there is a question of whether or not you were of sound mind or under the influence of medication, that sheds a different light on your ability to contractually go into an agreement. The contract itself has to be scrutinized as far as are you getting what you set down and explained what you were getting as part of the contract. You need someone to help you look over the circumstances and find out if your rights were violated moving forward if.
>> Tiffany Bittner: we have to take another break right now. When we come back and you are sitting at home, if you would like to call us, pick up the phone. 855-law-1955.
>> Tiffany Bittner: here are our upcoming dockets, May 1st, worker compensation. May 8th, mom and the law. May 15th, identity theft. We hope you will join us and call in any questions you have. If you are watching this evening and would like to contact our attorneys, we have Ty Townsend with law in Birmingham. Bob Prince is in Tuscaloosa. Kirby Farris is with Farris, Riley and Pitt here in Birmingham. Kirby, take a few minutes and explain what your law firm is about and contingency fees. I know someone called about a class action lawsuit about paying for that. When you take on a lawsuit, it’s costly. Your firm says, I’ll foot the bill to do the research.
>> We tie ten of of hundreds of thousands of dollars up in some cases. Contingency fees allow you to retain a law firm and whatever you are able to recover in litigation, a portion goes to the law firm and a percentage to the aggrieved party, to the client. It enables us to go in and litigate cases with some of the biggest corporations in America, some of the biggest insurance companies in the country on equal footing and balances the scales between the huge corporations and folks in Birmingham. We help people in automobile accidents, trucking accidents and medical malpractice cases. We do national drug litigation where there are drugs that are dangerous and hurting people. We do work in those areas.
>> You have to hire experts to help you in the cases, right?
>> It’s incredible. If you are investigating a drug, you have to have hire a pharmacologist. You have to hire a doctor to explain what the drug does wrong. It’s incredibly expensive.
>> Tiffany Bittner: the average person may not understand what it takes to do the leg work. Let’s hear from Anne next in Clinton.
>> Caller (Anne): My question is, when a company requires an employee contract is it binding if there is no disclaimer stating that they can fire at will?
>> Normally, it’s not a contract, not an agreement between the employer and employee. It normally serves as way of notification to let the employee know all of the rules and regulations and expectations that the company has for that employee as they come to work for that particular company. Now because it is an agreement between yourself — not an agreement. It’s notification between yourself and employer, there are things that you are expected to abide by as the company sets out their rules and regulations and so forth. I don’t think it can be a contract as far as the responsibility to the company. That’s your job description, what you are being hired to do. It’s an opportunity for the company to make sure you know all of the responses they have as an employee.
>> Caller (Anne): I would want to know what I am acknowledging. Am I acknowledging receipt of this book? You are giving me a handbook. Or am I acknowledging that you have gone over the rules. You taught me the rules and I’ll abide by them. Those are two different things. If I sign an acknowledgement what the rules, I want to go to rules classes.
>> Normally you sign to receive the document not that you understand or are agreeing to it. Not any section of document has been gone over with you. You need to let your employer know, I have a problem with this section. Can we discuss it? If that doesn’t work, you should take time to consult an attorney about whatever the concern is about the handbook.
>> Tiffany Bittner: let’s squeeze in Cynthia in Birmingham.
>> Caller (Cynthia): Hi, my name is Cynthia. I wanted to know, I have heard about people using a lawyer and I would like to know if that’s possible and if so how could you do that.
>> I didn’t understand.
>> Tiffany Bittner: she wants to know if you can get a divorce without a lawyer and what the options are for that.
>> I would advise anyone going through the legal process to have an attorney, but individuals are welcome to represent themselves. It’s called acting pro se. You have to fill out the proper forms.
>> You have to be careful about everything you sign in the legal issue.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Ty, we want to give out your information one more time. Ty Townsend with Townsend law Firm. Ty, thank you for your timing, coming on and sharing your expertise with us. Kirby, great to see you. Have a great week.