Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Can My Facebook Posts Be Used Against Me in a Divorce? Massachusetts

Facebook and Divorce Laws MassachusettsUse of Social Media Laws in a Court Case

Popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be an easy way to share your thoughts and photos with friends and family. However married couples who are going through marital hardships and are involved in extramarital affairs are at risk. Your Facebook profile is an open source for people to comment, like or share negative feelings about you on your profile. Be careful what you post or tweet as this can also lead to a lot of incriminating evidence if you are in the middle of a divorce. If your girlfriend or mistress decides to post something on your Facebook page and your spouse happens to see it you will have a lot of explaining to do. These social sites and others have become an easy source that can prove adulterous behavior. Once the post or tweet is sent, it will forever live on a server somewhere even after deleting it. The posts can also be printed from the website as well. Every case is different, however with increased frequency, social media users are finding out that what they post may be used against them in the court of law.
The internet presents a special set of challenges to the legal field, and because of this, most laws regarding the social media are narrowly defined. With the rising rates of online crime and disagreements, legislators have had to keep passing new laws and amending the existing ones. The following are some of the cases that find their way in courts often and how they are approached:

Privacy issues


A social media account is considered private if access to its password is limited to a person or a specific group of people. Gaining access to such an account without the consent of the authorized persons is considered to be an interference with privacy.
In the US, the major problem a while back had been with companies forcing their workers to provide their social media passwords as a condition for employment. Almost all states now prohibit firms from making such demands and allow the victim to file for damages.

It is however important to note that companies that have their in-house social media platforms can access their employee information on these platforms provided they clearly inform their workers about this in their terms and conditions. The same applies to educational institutions.

Intellectual rights
Copyrighted content is not supposed to be shared on social media without consent of the copyright owner. On popular platforms like Facebook, this rule is frequently ignored and the culprits always get away with it; but posting or downloading unauthorized content may lead to a conviction if the property owner decides to follow up.

An individual can be found guilty of copyright infringement even if they themselves do not post or share the content in question. Fortunately, before one is taken to court for content infringement, the owner must first send a warning and demand the user to remove the content within a reasonable period. Only after they are sure that the person has received the message but has refused to comply can they go to court.

Defamation and trolling

Defamation is the act of making unfounded statements that may damage the reputation of an institution or individual. Trolling has been given various definitions in different jurisdictions; it however has to do with online harassment of a person either through public comment sections or via private messages. Both defamation and trolling carry punishments if one is convicted. Like other cases, the complainant must file an official court complaint against the suspect.

Because of the fragile nature of social media laws, very few cases ever result in convictions. Complainants raise their chances of successful lawsuits if they seek representation from attorneys that have special training in social media laws. Similarly, if you ever find yourself in trouble for misusing social media, get a qualified attorney to secure your best interests.

Employers who are found violating the law regarding access of employees’ social media accounts may attract a civil penalty. An employer may have the need to access employees’ personal social media accounts, but then again, it is important to determine if such employer is permitted to do so in their state.


By George C. Malonis


_________________________________________________________

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Car Accident and Insurance Laws in Massachusetts


Car Accident Insurance Laws
If you reside and drive in the state of Massachusetts, you should be aware of the state’s laws regarding car accident handling and protection.  Being knowledgeable about the laws will help you prevent unexpected losses due to car accidents, as well as guide you in case you encounter one.

Filing Period for Car Accident Claims


The “statute of limitations” law applies in the state.  This pertains to a three-year grace period given for plaintiffs to file a personal injury or property damage case against erring parties.  If you don’t file your case within the three-year period, you may not be able to do so despite the strength and validity of your case.  This limitation is only for lawsuits in the state and not for filing a claim with your insurance company. 

If you ever get involved in a car accident, do contact your insurance provider immediately so as to expedite an investigation and to receive your compensation promptly. 

The Comparative Fault Rule

Massachusetts follows the comparative-fault rule, meaning that the extent of fault of all parties are pre-evaluated based on the findings of the investigation.  Under the comparative-fault rule, you can recover damages from the car accident only if you were found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident.  If your fault level is 50% or higher, you receive no compensation. 

The ratio of fault also determines how much damage compensation you are entitled to in a rule of court.  For example, if the jury has determined that you were 30% responsible for the accident, you get to receive only 30% of total damages you filed for in court.

Car Insurance Requirements Under Massachusetts State Laws

Massachusetts is one of the states which consider car insurance coverage as mandatory.  At the very least, you should get an auto insurance policy to cover the following:

1.    $20,000 liability coverage for one person’s injuries
2.    $40,000 liability coverage per person if the accident caused injury to more than one person
3.    $8,000 personal injury protection (PIP) per accident
4.    $5,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident

Liability (1, 2 and 4) covers losses in case a seriously injured driver sues the insurance holder, and losses from damage to the vehicles involved. PIP pays for the medical expenses of both the insured person and whoever else is injured in the accident.

These minimum insurance requirements do not cover vehicle repairs or replacement, damage and loss resulting from non-accidents (such as thefts or vandalism), and uninsured drivers.  You need to buy additional insurance coverage for Collision, Comprehensive, and Uninsured Motorist coverage. These types of coverage are not required under Massachusetts state laws.

The Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan (MAIP)

The state has its own insurance program that assists drivers who could not obtain even the minimum insurance coverage in the regular market, especially drivers with adverse driving or accident records.  An insurance application to MAIP may be submitted by the insurance agent or broker, and the application will be assigned randomly to an insurance provider who is licensed under Massachusetts to sell insurance policies in the state.

Finding the Right Insurance


The premiums you’ll be quoted depends largely on your personal data, particularly your age, driving record and experience, accident history, location, and of course, the amount of coverage you want. You may want to shop around first for reputable insurance companies in Massachusetts, and to get quotes from several companies before deciding on your insurer. 

You may also want to negotiate for any discounts you might be entitled to, especially if you’ve had an excellent driving record and if your car has had low mileage during the year.  Do not hesitate to ask for the fine print of the insurance contract before signing up.  If needed, consult a car accident lawyer or insurance expert to clarify any points you are unsure of in the proposed contract.

By George C. Malonis

__________________________________________________________

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Travel Safety Tip for Thanksgiving in Massachusetts - Lowell Injury Attorney

Thanksgiving Day is close to the hearts of the people of Massachusetts, as it is the place where the first Thanksgiving was held back in 1621.  Sumptuous feasts of turkey, corn, candied yams, and pumpkin pie grace the dinner tables of not only Massachusetts but also most of US residents during this day.    

Families place a lot of importance on this holiday not only because of its historical significance, but also because it is an opportunity to reunite with loved ones.  Many people will take to the roads and air this season to spend Thanksgiving with family or friends.  Expect streets and airports to be full this season.

Be Prepared - Watch The Weather Before Traveling

All the more fitting it is to remind all travelers about keeping safe and worry-free this Thanksgiving season.  Are you aware that traffic-related accidents are at their worst during this time? This is mainly because of road conditions typical during the season, like icy roads and fog which could impede visibility. 

During Thanksgiving parties, people tend to overeat and overdrink. Some insist on driving even when they have had one too many. This is a surefire way to get into an accident this season.  Or, the intoxicated person may find himself slapped with DUI charges in a state which enforces some of the toughest laws on drunk driving.

Thankfully, this year’s Thanksgiving weather in Massachusetts is predicted to be only moderately cold with mostly sunny conditions.

You and your family can make your Thanksgiving holiday in Massachusetts even more enjoyable by simply following a few sensible travel safety tips:

•    Always allow plenty of time for everything, whether preparing for your trip or driving to your destination.  Never rush through traffic as this can endanger you and your passengers.

•    Make sure that your car is in tiptop condition.  Check the oil, water, and other fluid levels.  Also have sufficient amount of fuel to save yourself from the hassle of having to stop for refueling.

•    Be well-equipped for the road trip especially if it’s more than two hours long.  Bring extra water, clothing, food, medications, and other provisions, especially if you have an elderly or disabled person traveling with you.

•    Check your tires and brakes.  Many road accidents happen due to malfunction of these parts.

•    Plan your route before leaving.  Check Google Maps or other reliable navigation apps.  Take note of areas marked with heavy traffic, as well as any rerouting due to road conditions.

•    Check the weather conditions.  If snow is expected in the area (generally not this year), you need to install snow tires or chains.

•    Take a few short breaks in order to rest, use the restroom, or eat.

•    Never use your cell phone while you are driving.  Instead, have your companion take the calls and messages.  Or pull over before answering a call or replying to a text.

•    Obey all traffic laws, especially speed limits.

•    Keep your cool during heavy traffic. It’s something you can’t control anyway.  Sing or engage in conversation with your companions.

•    Take turns with your companions in driving to allow each other rest time.

•    If injured in an automobile accident that you believe was due to negligence from the other party, get help immediately, then contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible.


By George Malonis

____________________________________________________________


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Veterans Day Activities in Massachusetts - Lowell MA


Veterans Day in the United States is November 11th. It's a day when we as Americans are thankful to the tens of thousands of veterans who served our country with honor and integrity over the years. We show our respect and gratefulness for those who have protected our country, and for those who've made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America.


History of Veterans Day


Veterans Day was first celebrated as Armistice Day. Armistice Day signified the end of fighting between Germany and the allies in World War I. This happened at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month of the year in 1918. The holiday was first created by Woodrow Wilson and was supposed to be a day of celebrating soldiers and peace. In 1954, veterans pushed to change the name to 'Veterans Day.' The day was to celebrate American soldiers who served in all wars and battles in US history. Veterans Day has also represented the American way of life, but regardless of what the ideology behind the holiday at the time, it was always meant to honor and appreciate veterans who unselfishly served our country so that we can live in a place that cherishes the freedom provided by those who served under our flag.

Parades in Massachusetts

Massachusetts will celebrate Veterans Day with various ceremonies and parades across the state. Boston will host two parades for Veterans Day, and will have a cruise to Fort Warren so that people can learn more about Boston's military history. The first parade will begin at 1pm EST and start at the corner of Boyston and Tremont streets. The second parade will follow the first parade, and it's called the 'Veterans for Peace Day,' keeping true to the idea behind the original Armistice Day. There will also be a Veterans Walk and Run which is sponsored by 'Back on My Feet Boston.' It starts at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans and follows a route around Boston Common. It returns to the New England Center for Homeless Veterans where there will be a dinner. There will be several other events, discounts, and restaurants giving free meals to veterans all over the state of Massachusetts.

Other cities in Massachusetts will have their own celebrations. In Salem, there will be Blessing of the Flags at St. Mary's Cemetery. In Middleton, there will be a ceremony at the Flint Public Library at 11am. Hamilton will serve breakfast to veterans at The American Legion Post 194. Ipswich will host a parade which will start at the War Memorial at 11am. If you'd like to participate in a Veterans Day event in Massachusetts, simply google your town/city along with 'Veterans Day Events' and check out the local activities.

Helpful Resources

If you are a veteran in need, or if you know of a veteran in need, there are several resources that can help in the state of Massachusetts. Please see and use the following if you are a veteran or you know a veteran who needs assistance:

Homelessness: 1-877-424-3838 or http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/NationalCallCenter.asp

Housing For Disabled Veterans: 1-800-827-6311 or http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/your-rights/veterans-resources/housing-resources/specially-adapted-housing.html

Health Care: http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/your-rights/veterans-resources/medical-care-and-death/health-care-options/massachusetts-laws-on-veterans-affairs-healthcare.html

Education Benefits: 617-391-6070 or http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/your-rights/veterans-resources/education-benefits-and-scholarships/state-education-benefits.html

Employment Rights: 1-866-4-USA-DOL or http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/your-rights/veterans-resources/employment-rights-for-veterans/uniform-services-employment-and-reemployment.html

Legal Assistance: http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/your-rights/veterans-resources/legal-assistance/

Family Resources: 1-855- 260-3274 or http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/your-rights/veterans-resources/information-and-resources-for-family-members/

Support Groups
: 1-855- 260-3274 or http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/your-rights/veterans-resources/support-groups-and-services/

We will be forever grateful for our men and women in uniform, for without them we have nothing. God bless the USA, and have a heartfelt and safe Veterans Day. On this day and every day The Law Office of George C. Malonis salutes our Veterans and all those currently serving.


By George Malonis


___________________________________________________________

Friday, October 2, 2015

Car Accident and Insurance Laws in Massachusetts - Lowell Injury Attorney

Car Accident Lawyers
Car Accident and Insurance Laws in Massachusetts

If you reside and drive in the state of Massachusetts, you should be aware of the state’s laws regarding car accident handling and protection.  Being knowledgeable about the laws will help you prevent unexpected losses due to car accidents, as well as guide you in case you encounter one.

Filing Period for Car Accident Claims

The “statute of limitations” law applies in the state.  This pertains to a three-year grace period given for plaintiffs to file a personal injury or property damage case against erring parties.  If you don’t file your case within the three-year period, you may not be able to do so despite the strength and validity of your case.  This limitation is only for lawsuits in the state and not for filing a claim with your insurance company. 

If you ever get involved in a car accident, do contact your insurance provider immediately so as to expedite an investigation and to receive your compensation promptly. 

The Comparative Fault Rule


Massachusetts follows the comparative-fault rule, meaning that the extent of fault of all parties are pre-evaluated based on the findings of the investigation.  Under the comparative-fault rule, you can recover damages from the car accident only if you were found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident.  If your fault level is 50% or higher, you receive no compensation. 

The ratio of fault also determines how much damage compensation you are entitled to in a rule of court.  For example, if the jury has determined that you were 30% responsible for the accident, you get to receive only 30% of total damages you filed for in court.

Car Insurance Requirements Under Massachusetts State Laws

Massachusetts is one of the states which consider car insurance coverage as mandatory.  At the very least, you should get an auto insurance policy to cover the following:

1.    $20,000 liability coverage for one person’s injuries
2.    $40,000 liability coverage per person if the accident caused injury to more than one person
3.    $8,000 personal injury protection (PIP) per accident
4.    $5,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident

Liability (1, 2 and 4) covers losses in case a seriously injured driver sues the insurance holder, and losses from damage to the vehicles involved. PIP pays for the medical expenses of both the insured person and whoever else is injured in the accident.

These minimum insurance requirements do not cover vehicle repairs or replacement, damage and loss resulting from non-accidents (such as thefts or vandalism), and uninsured drivers.  You need to buy additional insurance coverage for Collision, Comprehensive, and Uninsured Motorist coverage. These types of coverage are not required under Massachusetts state laws.

The Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan (MAIP)

The state has its own insurance program that assists drivers who could not obtain even the minimum insurance coverage in the regular market, especially drivers with adverse driving or accident records.  An insurance application to MAIP may be submitted by the insurance agent or broker, and the application will be assigned randomly to an insurance provider who is licensed under Massachusetts to sell insurance policies in the state.

Finding the Right Insurance

The premiums you’ll be quoted depends largely on your personal data, particularly your age, driving record and experience, accident history, location, and of course, the amount of coverage you want. You may want to shop around first for reputable insurance companies in Massachusetts, and to get quotes from several companies before deciding on your insurer. 

You may also want to negotiate for any discounts you might be entitled to, especially if you’ve had an excellent driving record and if your car has had low mileage during the year.  Do not hesitate to ask for the fine print of the insurance contract before signing up.  If are in need of a needed, a car accident attorney in Massachusetts, contact Attorney George C. Malonis to clarify any points you are unsure of in the proposed contract.


By George C. Malonis


_________________________________________________________

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Massachusetts Car Accident Checklist After an Auto Accident

car accident lawyers in MassachusettsCar accidents occur on a daily basis in the United States. In fact, close to 4 million people are injured in car accidents each year. Accidents in New Hampshire and Massachusetts this year have been on the rise, this includes motorcycle accidents as well. According to the NHTSA 35,000 people died in car accidents in in the U. S. in 2013 alone. For teens, these numbers should be particularly alarming as teen drivers are three times as likely to be in a fatal accident compared to other drivers.  Aside from age, location can increase the likelihood of being in a car accident also. There are 30% more car accidents along rural roads compared to urban roadways. Whether young or old, on a rural road or city street, any car accident should be handled in a specific way. There are steps every driver should follow and be aware of in the event of any kind of car accident.
1.    Assess Medical Needs and Get Help. The very first thing anyone in a car accident should do is assess if people involved need medical help. If anyone is injured or there is the potential for unseen injuries, such as a head injury, call 911 immediately.

2.    Get Out of Harm’s Way. If a vehicle is still in the roadway, it could get hit again as can any victims in the roadway. You should try to move any vehicle that can be moved off the road and out of the way for the safety of everyone around. Many people become victims in chain reaction crashes because of accidents that are not cleared as they should be.

3.    Call Police. Once everyone is securely off the road and medical help is on the way, call the police. You will want to be clear about the exact location and nature of the scene, such as how many vehicles and type of crash that needs to be assessed. When calling police, do not verbally assign blame or opinions about culpability. Let police assess the scene on their own.

4.    Cooperate and Exchange Information. The police will assess the damages and file a report as to what occurred. It is up to you to get the other driver’s information to protect yourself. This information should include contact information, insurance information, address, and also contact information for witnesses. When exchanging this information and talking to police on the scene, it is important to remember that you should not verbally accept blame even if you were at fault.

5.    Take Notes & Photos of Your Own.  If you have a smart phone, use it to take pictures and notes of the accident. Even though police are skilled and trained as to how to assess and report on an accident scene, they are human. Plus, it will be you, not the police, who needs to worry about damages and any potential fight with an insurance company. The best way to protect yourself, your rights, and ensure the case is handled fairly is to document the facts yourself. Do not rely on your memory later, especially if you are injured. Memories can change and be difficult to decipher within hours of an accident. Whether it was minor or major, you need to write down your own version of events as soon as it is safe to do so.

6.    Contact Your Insurance Company. After getting to your destination safely and documenting the events, contact your insurance company and explain the situation. They will explain the timeframe for dealing with damages and also what all may happen as a result of the accident.  While you should let them know everything, you should not discuss a settlement with your or the other driver’s insurance company just yet. Too many people agree to a settlement or openly admit culpability when they shouldn’t.

7.    Contact a Car Accident Attorney. It is never a good idea to accept a settlement or admit being at fault without the guidance and support of a skilled car accident attorney. An attorney can best evaluate the situation and evaluate what kind of damages are possible. A car accident attorney by your side can greatly increase the chances of getting a fair settlement that will cover medical care and other expenses related to the car accident.

Being prepared for a car accident by having an emergency kit and roadside kit on hand is wise. However, being prepared will not always prevent a car accident from happening. Knowing the proper steps to take in the event of an accident is the best way to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.


By George C. Malonis


_____________________________________________________

Monday, August 31, 2015

U.S. Regulators Push For Auto Airbag Recall – Auto Accident Laws MA

Affected Vehicles affected by the Takata Air Bag Issue:

The recall only affects models from 2008 and earlier, here are the details: 

 Acura: 2002 to 2003 CL and TL, 2003 to 2006 MDX, and 2005 RL

BMW: 2000 to 2005 3-series sedan and wagon, 2000 to 2006 3-series convertible and coupe, and 2001 to 2006 M3 convertible and coupe

Chrysler: 2005 to 2008300 and 2007 to 2008 Aspen

Dodge/Ram: 2003 to 2008 Dodge Ram 1500, 2005 to 2008 Dodge Ram 2500, Dakota, and Durango, 2006 to 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 and 4500, and 2008 Dodge Ram 5500

Ford: 2004 Ranger, 2005 to 2006 GT, and 2005 to 2007 Mustang

Honda: 2001 to 2007 Accord, 2001 to 2005 Civic, 2002 to 2006 CR-V, 2002 to 2004 Odyssey, 2003 to 2011 Element, 2003 to 2007 Pilot, and 2006 Ridgeline

Mazda: 2003 to 2007 Mazda 6; 2006–2007 Mazda Speed 6, 2004 to 2008 Mazda RX-8, 2004 to 2005 MPV, and 2004 B-series

Mitsubishi: 2004 to 2005 Lancer and 2006 to 2007 Raider

Nissan: 2001 to 2003 Maxima, 2001 to 2004 Pathfinder, and 2002 to 2006 Nissan Sentra

Pontiac: 2003 to 2005 Vibe

Saab: 2005 9-2X

Subaru: 2003 to 2005 Baja, Legacy, Outback; 2004 to 2005 Impreza, Impreza WRX, and Impreza WRX STI

Toyota: 2002 t0 2005 Toyota Corolla and Sequoia and 2003 to 2005 Matrix and Tundra

The Reason for the Recall

The problem with the affected airbags is a dangerous propellant. There is a high likelihood of an airbag exploding when it is deployed in an accident. An exploding airbag will often result in metal parts being sprayed into the cabin of the vehicle. The metal parts are from the casing and can potentially lead to an injury to the driver or passenger. Humidity was identified as an issue because moisture might make the propellant more combustible.

A nationwide recall is being urged because there are vehicles experiencing this issue that are outside of high humidity areas. States which are affected include Hawaii, Florida, California, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Automakers are currently evaluating the request by the NHTSA. The recall is only for the airbag that is on the driver's side of the vehicle. It does not affect passenger-side airbags. This is because these airbags use a different design and no tests have indicated a problem exists.

However, some automakers have issued a limited recall of passenger-side airbags to high humidity areas. A few lawmakers have expressed criticism of this decision and insist more is needed as regional recalls from automakers are no longer sufficient. A simple reason might be that people can use their cars to travel out of their states to more humid areas. If you believe you or someone you know may have been injured by a defective air bag then it may be beneficial to speak to an experienced car accident attorney.


By George Malonis

_____________________________________________________________________