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Massachusetts Legal Blog


Massachusetts Legal Blog

How Can Child Support Orders Be Changed?

By DiBella Law Offices on April 13, 2017

Massachusetts has, arguably, the most progressive laws relating to the process of providing child support in the nation. The family courts have significant discretion in support decisions. Traditionally, child support payments are a parental requirement until the child turns 18. A few states extend support until the age of 21, based on the circumstances.

In Massachusetts, if the child is enrolled in college, lives with and is supported by the parent being paid child support, the support payment eligibility extends to age 23. This state allows judges to deviate from the formula-based calculation if it is determined to be in the child’s best interest.

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Posted in: Family Law

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on a Wrongful Death Insurance Settlement?

By DiBella Law Offices on April 11, 2017

Under Massachusetts laws an individual or entity may have liability for someone’s death if they exhibited negligence, committed a willful or wanton act, or breached a warranty. A claim for damages may be pursued if, had the deceased lived, he or she would have been eligible to bring a personal injury action. Damages may be recovered in an act of tort by the executor or administrator on behalf of the estate.

Wrongful death actions have a statute of limitations of three years. Certain incidents do not allow actions of wrongful death—such as many accidents relating to railroads or streetcars—but may have other legal options. Claims of wrongful death are civil and would be separate from any associated criminal charges. Commonly awarded damages include amounts of expected lifetime earnings, loss of companionship and counsel, and expenses for a funeral and burial, among others.

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Posted in: Wrongful Death

Do Truck Drivers Have to Follow Special Rules on the Road?

By DiBella Law Offices on April 7, 2017

Commercial truck operators have specific regulations and compliance requirements that are dramatically different than those for private passenger vehicles. The industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with assistance from state entities for enforcement.

There are over 500,000 active interstate motor carriers in the U.S. One reason for national uniformity and rigid regulation is the potential impact these large vehicles can have on public safety. Most fatalities in large truck collisions are sustained by those in passenger vehicles. These trucks’ weight can be over 20 times that of a car’s. When loaded with freight, they require at least 20% more distance to reach a complete stop.

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Posted in: Truck Accidents

Hidden Assets in High Net Worth Divorces

By DiBella Law Offices on April 5, 2017

Divorces involving couples with significant net worth may be more complex, with diverse assets which may include investment accounts, properties, and business interests. Some spouses may attempt to move or conceal assets, which is why comprehensive strategies to identify, locate, and appraise them are necessary.

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Posted in: Divorce

How Safe Are Drivers in Massachusetts?

By DiBella Law Offices on April 3, 2017

The insurance marketplace Everquote created an application to measure people’s driving habits. The Safe Driving Challenge was a two-week study that compared Massachusetts’ drivers to those in New York State.

Motorists in Massachusetts fared slightly better in their overall safety score of 76 compared to New York’s 74. Within the state, North Reading was determined to be the safest city to travel in, while Boston was the most dangerous. The application measured factors including acceleration, braking, mobile device usage, and speed. Overall, the report stated that Massachusetts drivers seemed to travel at 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

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Posted in: Car Accidents

Is My Soon-to-Be Ex-Spouse Responsible for My Credit Card Debt?

By DiBella Law Offices on March 30, 2017

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of NY and the Census Bureau reports that households are carrying credit card balances averaging $16,061. Credit-card interest rates are averaging roughly 18%; U.S. households average around $1,292 in yearly debt interest. Financial issues are a commonly cited reason for couples choosing to divorce.

Credit Card Impact on Spouses Depends on Whose Name Is on the Card

Credit card accounts in marriages can be in the name of one spouse, making that individual solely liable for credit purposes. If the credit card is in the name of both spouses, then they would both be jointly liable. Often one spouse will be the account holder, with the other spouse considered an authorized user, so that both parties can use the card if and when needed. In this arrangement, the credit of the authorized user will not be impacted regardless of the good or bad status of the debt.

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Posted in: Divorce

What Is Distracted Driving Doing to the Roads?

By DiBella Law Offices on March 28, 2017

Law enforcement in Massachusetts continues to crack down on distracted driving, which most commonly involves drivers using mobile devices while on the road. The Massachusetts Office of Public Highway Safety is leading the statewide efforts to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Last year, Governor Baker announced that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Police are more aggressively patrolling areas that seem to be high-risk.

Impact on Fatal Crashes

The National Safety Council calculated there were roughly 399 fatalities from vehicle crashes in Massachusetts during 2016. This shows the continuation of a pattern: up from 354 in 2015 and 348 in 2014.

Nationally, there were 40,200 fatalities, making 2016 the deadliest year of driving since 2007. Jeff Larason, Massachusetts Highway Safety Director, considers this trend “troubling” and feels that distracted driving is the leading cause.

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Posted in: Car Accidents

When the Modern-Day Wolf Prowls at the Gate – Dog Attacks in Your Own Backyard

By DiBella Law Offices on March 20, 2017

Your house is your sanctuary; a safe place from the rest of the world. The same should be true of your yard. If you have pets—whether dogs, cats, horses, or turkeys—then that yard is their territory. But accidents do happen. And even if you’re being a responsible dog owner, there’s no guarantee everyone else is.

If a dog enters your yard and injures or kills your pets, you can seek damages from the dog’s owner or keeper – Massachusetts defines the “keeper” as one who was given control of the dog – in civil court. Massachusetts is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog attacks. No matter what kind of damage caused by physical contact with the dog, that damage is recoverable in court. You don’t have to prove that the owner was negligent; the fact that his or her dog caused you injury is enough to make him or her legally responsible to you. As long as you were not “committing a trespass or other tort…teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog” at the time of the attack, then you have a right to file a claim to collect compensation for up to three years after the attack.

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Posted in: Dog Bites

Dog Bites – Who’s to Blame: the Dog, or the Owner?

By DiBella Law Offices on March 16, 2017

Dogs bite.

Even the sweetest fur-baby can revert to its feral nature in an instant. Granted, some dogs will go their whole lives without a single snap, play-bite, or ER-worthy puncture of human flesh. Out of an estimated 78 million dogs currently owned in the U.S., only 1,000 people each day need medical treatment for dog bites. Considering that dogs are merely domesticated wolves, that’s not too bad.

But domestic dogs are by far the deadliest large carnivores in North America; they have more kills racked up than bears, mountain lions, alligators, and sharks combined. Dogs bite for many reasons, some of them quite logical. All dogs are capable of biting when frightened, in pain, provoked, teased, tormented, beaten, or to protect their owner or territory. So we’re not surprised that dogs can bite, but we’re often surprised when dogs do bite.

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Posted in: Dog Bites

Holiday Safety Tips for New Year’s in Massachusetts

By DiBella Law Offices on December 30, 2016

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately one out of every three traffic-related fatalities involves a drunk driver. Massachusetts allows for sobriety checkpoints that will likely be significantly deployed over this holiday season. Research clearly indicates that the incidents of Operating Under the Influence (OUI) occur at a notably higher rate during the periods of Christmas and particularly New Year’s. Let’s take a look at what constitutes an OUI, and overall tips for staying safe while celebrating the New Year.

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Posted in: Drunk Driving

Involved in a car accident?

The first step in getting the compensation you deserve is contacting the experienced legal team at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. Don’t delay, the statute of limitations in Massachusetts is just three years.

Call (781) 262-3338 Burlington, or (978) 327-5140 Methuen today for a free consultation.