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Visitation and the Holidays

Holidays and Visitation

The holiday season is upon us, and this is the time of year when families gather to spend quality time with each other. For divorced or separated couples with kids, the holidays can be especially hard on the children. They are used to spending time with Mom and Dad together, and now they have to go back and forth between the two depending on what the child custody and visitation schedule says.

In Alabama, most child custody arrangements call for the non-custodial parent to be allowed liberal visitation rights. The state recognizes the role of both parents in the lives of their children, so they are inclined to grant frequent visitation in the vast majority of cases. In some rare and extreme cases in which there is a history of abuse, the court may only grant limited supervised visitation.

Holidays and Visitation in Alabama

Visitation for holidays is an area that couples should try to work out on their own. Each family has their own traditions and their own ways of celebrating the holidays,and the holiday visitation schedule should reflect the uniqueness of each individual circumstance.

There are several ways parents may handle visitation during the holidays. Here are some common approaches:

Alternating Holiday Schedules Annually

One popular way parents may choose to divide holiday time with the kids is to rotate holidays in alternate years. One parent could have the children for a certain holiday in even-number years, while the other parent has them in odd-numbered years. In addition, you can rotate major holidays so that each parent has some holiday time each year with the children. For example, during even-numbered years, Parent A could have the children for Thanksgiving weekend while Parent B has them from Christmas Eve through Christmas morning. Other holidays throughout the year could be scheduled in the same manner, and the parents would swap holidays in odd-numbered years.

Assigning Fixed Holidays for Each Parent

Another way to fairly divide the visitation schedule around the holidays is to have the children spend the same holidays with each parent every year. So, in this example, Parent A would have the children for Thanksgiving weekend every year,Parent B would always have the kids for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and other holidays would be divided up accordingly between the parents. This arrangement might work well if the parents want a more simplified schedule and/or the parents have different holidays that they believe are most important.  

Splitting Holiday Time in Half

You may choose to split the holiday time between the parents, so the children spend part of the day (or series of days) with each. For example, one parent could have the children for the night before Thanksgiving and most of Thanksgiving Day, while the other parent takes the kids on Thanksgiving evening and keeps them the rest of the weekend. A similar arrangement could be done with Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. The time-splitting approach works best when the parents live close to each other and can coordinate the schedule so there is not too much traveling involved.

Alabama Standard Visitation Schedules

If parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own regarding visitation,the courts usually have a standard visitation schedule that is followed. The standard schedule varies depending on the county you are in, and judges have discretion to account for various factors; such as the age of the children, the distance between the two parents, whether or not one parent lives out-of-state,and many others. A strict standard visitation schedule is usually only imposed if there is no agreement at all between the parties. More commonly, this schedule is used as a starting point for negotiations, and it is customized as needed based on what is important to the parents and children.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Family Law Attorney

Holidays and visitation schedules can be a source of dispute during a divorce or parentage case. When working out a schedule that fits your needs and the needs of your children, it is best to have a skilled advocate in your corner arguing forcefully for your rights and interests. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we extensive family law experience, and we work closely with clients to ensure that they receive the strong personalized representation they need and deserve. For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 334-737-3718. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our office in Opelika.

DUI and the Holidays

DUI and the Holidays

The holidays are a festive season that we love to enjoy with our family and friends. For most of us, this is a favorite time of the year when we look forward to time off from work and more time celebrating with those closest to us. Many of the parties and gatherings we attend involve alcohol, and sadly, this causes an increase in drunk driving and DUI-related accidents during this time of year.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports some sobering statistics regarding DUI and the holidays. From 2012 through 2016 (the last five years on record), just under 4,000 individuals were killed in crashes that involved drunk driving in the month of December. This accounts for 28% of auto accident fatalities during the last month of the year. Just in the week of Christmas Eve through New Year’s Eve alone, an average of over 300 individuals per year are killed in DUI-related crashes.

Alabama police are well-aware of the spike in drunk driving during the holidays, and you can expect beefed up enforcement in all 67 counties throughout the state during the month of December and into New Year’s. There will be more officers patrolling the streets, and an increase in DUI checkpoints to try and keep the situation under control.

If you are arrested for drunk driving in Alabama, the consequences can be very harsh. Penalties for DUI in the Yellowhammer State just for a first-offense may include:

  • Fines of up to $2100 plus court costs;
  • Up to one year in county jail or mandatory probation;
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 90 days or the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID);
  • Mandatory substance abuse evaluation and treatment.

Penalties may be enhanced if there are aggravated circumstances such as a second or subsequent DUI, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher, child endangerment, and DUIs involving serious injury or death.

A DUI conviction can cost you in several other ways as well. For example, having a drunk driving conviction on your criminal record can make it more difficult to obtain housing, loans, employment, and admission to college. And if your job requires a professional license, you may have difficulty obtaining the license or getting it renewed.

Staying Safe and Avoiding a DUI During the Holidays

With Alabama law enforcement on high alert this time of year, there is no sense putting yourself or others at risk by getting behind the wheel while intoxicated during the holiday season. Here are four tips to help you stay safe at your holiday gatherings:

1. Bring a Designated Driver

If possible, bring someone along who is going to stay sober for the evening. Even if they don’t drive you there, they can always drive your car home if necessary. If you can’t find a designated driver to come along with you, try to at least have someone available to call for a ride home when the evening is over.

2. Use a Cab or Rideshare Service

If there is no one among your group of friends that is sober and able to drive you home, plan to take a cab or Uber. Have the phone number to a cab company, or have your information prepopulated in the ridesharing app on your phone to make it easier to contact them when you’re ready to go.

3. Plan to Stay at a Hotel/Motel or a Friend’s House

One of the best ways to avoid a DUI during the holidays is to book a room at a hotel or motel near the party, or plan to stay at a friend’s place that is nearby. This way, you can go to the party without any worries about how you will get home.

4. Stick to the Plan

Planning ahead for your holiday party is great, but the plan can only work if you commit to sticking to it. Sometimes after people drink too much, they exercise poor judgment and deviate from the plan. For example, you might think, “I’m only a couple blocks from home, so I’m okay to drive.” Do NOT fall into this trap.Decide ahead of time that you will not drive drunk under any circumstances, and if needed, have someone else along who you can count on to hold you accountable.

Pulled Over for Drunk Driving? Contact an Alabama DUI Attorney

Maybe you already made the mistake of getting behind the wheel drunk and got arrested for DUI. If so, you need strong legal counsel in your corner to help mitigate the circumstances as much as possible. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have an in-depth understanding of Alabama DUI laws, and we know the most effective defense strategies to minimize the negative consequences of a drunk driving arrest. For a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys, call our office today at 334-737-3718, or send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

commercial truck accidents

Questions to Ask After an Accident with a Truck

Being involved in a motor vehicle accident is one of the most traumatic experiences an individual can go through. This is especially true if the accident involves a large commercial truck. Truck accidents are among the deadliest that occur on the roadways because of the sheer size and strength of the vehicle involved. These types of accidents can result in serious injuries and in the worst cases, wrongful death.

Though a trucking accident can be unsettling (to say the least), it is important to regain your composure and gather as much information as possible about the incident. Assuming you are physically able, write down in detail what just happened while it is still fresh in your mind. In addition, take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible, and obtain the contact information of anyone nearby that may have witnessed the event.

In addition to extensively documenting what just occurred, there are some questions you should ask after an accident with a truck. Here are three of the most important:

  1. Have the police been called?

After a truck accident, the first priorities are to obtain immediate medical attention for anyone who was hurt, and to gather as much information as possible. Once you have made sure everyone who was injured receives treatment, it is important to notify the police. If a truck driver caused the accident, there is a chance they will not want to involve the police. There are several reasons this could be the case.

Truckers are required to comply with federal regulations regarding vehicle maintenance, how many hours they are allowed to be on the road, and many other rules. If they were driving while drowsy or fatigued or did not properly maintain the vehicle for example, they might not want a police report filed. This is exactly the reason law enforcement should be involved. If a truck driver caused an accident while in violation of federal regulations, this should be officially documented in a police report.

  1. Does the driver have the right commercial license to operate the vehicle?

Truckers are required to have a commercial license to operate a big rig truck. In addition, the driver may need special endorsements (that indicate they underwent the proper training and obtained the required certifications) when they are transporting various types of goods. Some trucking companies fail to perform their due diligence and allow drivers on the road who are not properly licensed.

  1. Is the driver the owner of the vehicle, or is he/she an employee or independent contractor of a trucking company?

In a trucking accident, there are several parties who could potentially be at-fault. These may include the truck driver, the trucking company, the owner of the truck, the transport company that loaded the truck, the vehicle or vehicle part designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor, or a combination of factors. One of the first steps in determining who is responsible is to figure out the relationship between the truck driver and other parties involved.

In some cases, the truck driver may be the owner/operator of the vehicle who accepts jobs from multiple trucking companies. In this case, the driver would most likely be an independent contractor. In many cases, however, the driver transports exclusively for one trucking company and displays their placard in their truck. In this instance, even if the trucking company maintains that the driver is an independent contractor, they may actually be an employee (based on their relationship).

Speak with a Knowledgeable Alabama Truck Accidents Attorney

There are several other questions that need to be asked after an accident with a truck to determine who is responsible for damages. This can become a complex web to untangle, because very often, multiple factors converge at just the wrong time and in just the wrong place to cause the accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, the best thing to do is contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, so you can ensure that the rights questions are asked, and your rights and interests are fully protected.

At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have several years of experience successfully representing clients injured in truck accidents in Alabama. We have extensive knowledge of this area of the law, and when we accept a case, we go to work immediately to thoroughly investigate the circumstances and explore all potential legal avenues toward recovering full compensation. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-737-3718, or send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

fmla lawyer in auburn alabama

Worker’s Compensation and FMLA

When an employee becomes injured or suffers an illness, s/he has multiple options for getting the time off needed to treat the condition. Two of these options are workers’ compensation leave and time off through the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These two programs serve similar purposes, but they differ in some significant ways. Many employees wonder what happens to them when these two programs overlap.

Understanding FMLA

The Family Medical Leave Act is a federal law created in 1993 that gives employees who work for organizations with 50 or more employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. Unpaid leave may be granted under FMLA for any of the following reasons:

  • Giving birth to a child and/or caring for a newborn;
  • Placement of a child with the employee for adoption and caring for the newly adopted child;
  • Dealing with a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform his/her job;
  • Caring for the spouse, child, or parent of an employee when the loved one has a serious health condition.

Under the FMLA, an employee’s job is protected during the time that s/he is out of work. When the leave is over, the employer must allow the employee to return to his/her job or to another job that is equivalent.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a program that allows employees to receive treatment and benefits when they suffer an injury or illness due to a work-related accident. The program provides compensation for medical expenses, two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly gross pay for time missed from work, and in some cases, compensation for a partial or total permanent disability.

Workers’ compensation benefits are only paid for accidents that occur during the course of employment, regardless of fault. There are a few exceptions to the “no fault” provision, such as accidents that result from willful employee misconduct, accidents resulting from an employee being drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs on the job, and an employee’s intention to due himself/herself harm.

Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state. In Alabama, most employers with five or more employees are required to carry workers’ comp insurance. Most employees in Alabama also have “at will” employment. This means that an employee can be terminated for any reason, and employees can also resign for any reason or no reason at all. Unless you have an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement stating otherwise, you are most likely an “at will” employee. This also means that employees who take time off to treat a workers’ compensation-related injury do not have job protection.

Though there is no requirement to hold an employee’s job under workers’ compensation, employers are not allowed to terminate an employee in retaliation for reporting a workplace injury and/or filing a workers’ comp claim. Employers will almost never cite this as the reason for termination, but if you suspect that you may have been terminated because of your workers’ compensation claim, you should compile as much evidence as possible and speak to an experienced employment law attorney.

When FMLA and Workers’ Compensation Overlap

If an employee is required to miss work due to a serious health condition, the provisions of both FMLA and workers’ compensation could be applicable. In such cases, the provisions of both laws can run concurrently; meaning that they would both be in effect at the same time. If an employer does require an employee to take FMLA leave, they must notify the employee in writing. FMLA leave begins on the date the employer provides written notice to the employee; they cannot charge employees retroactively against their FMLA for leave already taken before the written notice was provided.

Because FMLA provides more job protection than workers’ compensation, it might be in the employee’s best interests to utilize both programs at the same time. Job security is important, and by using FMLA concurrently with workers’ comp, you can ensure that your position (or an equivalent position) will be there when you come back from leave.

Speak with a Seasoned Attorney to Discuss your Options

The workers’ compensation and FMLA laws can be confusing, especially when the two laws converge, which is usually the case when an Alabama worker suffers a serious health condition resulting from a workplace accident. To further complicate matters, some employers throw up roadblocks or deny workers’ comp benefits outright. When you need help understanding these laws and getting approved for benefits, it is best to talk with a skilled attorney.

At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of workers’ comp and FMLA laws, and we have helped numerous Alabama workers who have had trouble accessing the benefits they deserve. If you are anywhere in Opelika, Auburn, or throughout Alabama, call us today at 334-737-3718 for a free consultation.

workers comp attorney in auburn

How to File an Alabama Workers’ Compensation Claim

Most Alabama employers with more than four employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp is a program that provides benefits to employees who suffer injury or illness due to an accident on the job, regardless of who is at fault. In exchange for the “no fault” provision, employees are usually unable to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer for their injuries.

The workers’ compensation claims process can be very confusing, and many employees find it difficult to navigate the complexities of it. There are certain steps that need to be followed if you are injured on the job, and it is important to complete each step in the process. The steps to take to apply for workers’ comp are:

Report the Accident Right Away: When you become injured or ill from an accident at work, you need to report it immediately to your manager or supervisor. Alabama law requires you to report the incident within five days, so make sure to do this at the first convenient time. If your employer is already aware of the incident, this knowledge has been held to be the equivalent of statutory notice.

Seek Medical Attention: Your employer selects the doctor you will see to be treated for your condition. Check with them right away to find out where they want to send you for treatment. If you are not satisfied with the initial treating physician and additional treatment is required, you can inform your employer and be allowed to choose from a panel or list of four other physicians your employer selects.

File a Workers’ Compensation Claim Benefit Form: If your employer agrees to accept liability for the accident, a First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease Form must be completed. This form should be filled out by your employer, your employer’s insurer, or a third-party administrator. The form includes information about the employee’s wages and describes the injury, how it occurred, the severity of the injury, and medical treatment received.

What if My Employer Denies Liability for my Claim?

There are many cases in which an employer declines to accept liability for an injured employee. They might do so by alleging one of the following:

  • The injury did not result from an accident;
  • The accident did not occur in the course of employment;
  • The employee did not give proper notice of the accident to the employer;
  • The accident was caused by willful misconduct on the part of the employee;
  • The accident was caused by the employee being intoxicated from alcohol and/or the use of illegal drugs;
  • The accident resulted from an employee’s intention to kill himself/herself or someone else;
  • The accident resulted from the actions of a fellow employee or third person for reasons unrelated to your employment;
  • The employee failed or willfully refused to utilize safety equipment which the employer provided;
  • The employee willfully refused or willfully neglected to perform a statutory duty;
  • The employee had knowledge of and willfully breached an employer’s reasonable rule or regulation.

If your employer does not want to accept responsibility for your work-related accident, you have a couple of options; you can contact the Worker’s Compensation Division of the Alabama Department of Labor and ask to speak with an examiner to look at your claim, or you can retain an attorney and pursue your claim through the courts. An experienced Workers’ Comp attorney will be able to thoroughly assess the specific circumstances of your case and help determine the best legal path to recover the compensation you deserve.

Your attorney may be able to work out a settlement with your employer, or if your employer is not willing to be reasonable, the case may need to go to litigation. In cases involving a third party who was the cause of the accident and injury, you may be able to recover damages under Alabama personal injury laws. By working with an attorney, you can ensure that all your legal options are explored and that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.

Speak with a Skilled Alabama Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be complex and confusing. Oftentimes, employees find it very difficult to obtain the benefits they need to make ends meet when they are injured and out of work for a while. Employers may deny benefits for arbitrary reasons, and in many cases, these tactics are designed to frustrate the employee in hopes that they will give up.

At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we understand the frustration working people have when they are eligible for workers’ comp but denied by their employer. We aggressively pursue benefits for our clients, and we have a strong track record of success with these types of cases. If you are denied workers’ compensation benefits anywhere in Opelika, Auburn, or throughout Alabama, call our office today at 334-737-3718 for a free consultation.