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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The new federal tax code that may have significant impacts on divorcing spouses in Idaho beginning in 2019.  Under the old tax code, a spouse paying spousal support to the other spouse either while the divorce was pending or after the divorce, was able to deduct the payments on their taxes.  Typically, that was a positive for the paying spouse.  The spouse receiving the payments paid taxes on the payments, just like any other income they would receive. Typically, that was a negative for the receiving spouse. 

Under the new tax law, and beginning January 1, 2019, and continuing until the new tax laws are changed, the paying spouse will no longer be able to deduct their payments to the other spouse on their taxes.  That is likely a negative for the paying spouse.  The spouse receiving alimony will not have to count the payments as income for tax purposes.   That is likely a positive for the receiving spouse. 

The new rules currently only apply

Posted by eswartz at 2/21/2018 3:45:00 AM
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

While the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage established the law regarding marriage rights, many are wondering what that decision means for same-sex couples in areas of the law extending beyond marriage. The United States Supreme Court’s decision ruling that the Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry aligned with a prior Ninth Circuit decision striking down Idaho’s constitutional amendment restricting marriage. The Supreme Court decision impacted more than 1,000 areas of federal law that are related to marital status. This includes everything from bankruptcy filings and Medicare access to military spousal benefits and social security. In Idaho, both court rulings affect how same sex couples are impacted by Idaho divorce law including asset division and spousal support.

                                         

Regardless of whether you are in a domestic partnership or whether you have legally married your partner, there are a plethora of legal issues that same sex couples and their families face, both on the state and federal levels. The attorneys at Jones & Swartz can help individuals navigate these various issues including: complex community property laws; legal adoptions; child custody and visitation; name changes; alimony; property and asset division without marriage; and assessing the legal ramifications of informal property and custody agreements between partners. Regardless of what legal issues you and your family face, having an attorney helping to guide you through this ever changing and constantly developing area of the law can be greatly beneficial in helping you determine your current legal rights and how to go about accomplishing your goals.

Posted by eswartz at 6/29/2016 5:30:00 PM
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Boise has had a large number of pedestrian accidents reported lately.   Be careful out there.   As a driver of a car or a pedestrian, refresh yourself on the rules of the road in Idaho.  Generally speaking, Idaho first requires that drivers exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian:  

… every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and shall give an audible signal when necessary. Every driver shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.

(Idaho Code § 49-615).  Of course, pedestrian have to exercise reason care, too, and they have to follow the traffic signals and markings to keep a driver from claiming that the pedestrian is at fault.   Stay in a cross walk to have the right-of-way.  (Idaho Code § 49-702).  And, mind the pedestrian lights.   Technically a pedestrian can only enter a crosswalk managed by a light  when facing a “Flashing or Steady "Walk" (Idaho Code § 49-803(1)).  A pedestrian is not supposed to enter a crosswalk when seeing a “Flashing or Steady ‘Don't Walk’ or ‘Wait.’" (Idaho Code § 49-803(2)).    

The situation where a pedestrian misses the “walk” light but sees the flashing, but not solid, “Don’t Walk” light and enters the crosswalk is all too common.  Pedestrians who do this do not have the right-of-way and, if hit by a car, can be found negligent. 

Any pedestrian who is hit by a car should contact a lawyer immediately.  Pedestrian-automobile accidents require a firm understanding of Idaho’s rules of the road.  But, best approach for pedestrians is to follow the rules so they are sure to have the right-of-way.  Having the right-of-way is the best defense to a driver trying to blame a pedestrian for the injuries the driver caused.   

Posted by eswartz at 4/14/2016 12:17:00 AM
Sunday, April 12, 2015

Injuries from car accidents may not be limited to the car accident itself.  Certain vehicle designs or malfunctions may make injuries worse.   Injuries caused by a seat belt failure, air bag failure, seat-back collapse, roof collapse, or other defects or failures may be the cause of catastrophic injuries that otherwise would not have been suffered in a car accident had the failures of defects not occurred. 

If you are in a car accident, do not overlook the possibility that the person who causes the accident is not the only one who is at fault.  Careful consideration should be given to whether a car manufacturer is to blame for some or all of the injuries. 

Jones & Swartz PLLC not only handles car accident injuries, but also handles injuries sustained from car defects.  Contact an attorney who understands the signs of car defects. 

If you are in a car accident contact Jones & Swartz PLLC without delay.  In addition to assisting you with your car accident claims against a liable third party, we can assist you with evaluating whether you have a claim against a car manufacturer, and if so, assist you with preserving your car – the evidence of you need to further explore and possibly pursue a car defect claim.  

Posted by eswartz at 4/13/2015 1:07:00 AM
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What is the value of your personal injury claim?  It depends.  The value of your personal injury claim against the person who caused your injuries can include damages like medical bills, lost wages from missed work, or use of sick leave or comp-time as a result of the accident.  If you suffer from physical or psychological injuries into the future, the value of your personal injury claim can include money for future medical treatment and future pain and suffering.  The value of your personal injury claim might also include other losses like reimbursement for mileage to and from doctor appointments, child care, or other costs incurred as a result of being injured and not being able to do daily activities that you used to do before being injured.  These types of damages are called economic or special damages. 

Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and inconvenience as a result of the accident is another type of damages.  These damages are called non-economic or general damages.

The value of your personal injury claim depends upon how badly you were injured and how being injured impacted your life.  Only you can really know the value of your claim.  But, unfortunately, you are not the one who gets to decide what the person at fault, or their insurance company, will pay you.

The insurance company will only pay what they think your claim is worth.  The value that the insurance company places on your claim is affected by every aspect of you injuries and loss.  If the insurance company does not understand your claim, the insurance company will not pay you what your claim is worth.  If the insurance company thinks a jury in Boise, Idaho won’t give you any money for your claim, then the insurance company is not going to pay you what your claim is worth.

Did you know that Idaho law also dictates what your claim is worth?  It is true.  Idaho’s legislature has limited the amount of non-economic damages that an injured party can get.  The cap is currently set at $324,478.18.  That’s right.  A person can be rendered completely disabled and suffer pain for the rest of their lives, and Idaho law only allows them $324,478.18 for their general damages. This is true even if a jury wants to award more.  A judge would be required by Idaho law to lower the amount that a jury awarded in non-economic damages in excess of $324,478.18.

Of course, that assumes that a jury can understand the magnitude of a person’s injuries.  Often, members of a jury have not been through the same or similar experience as an injured person.  As a result, juries often have a difficult time calculating a sum of money that is reasonable to compensate a person for their injuries.  A jury member’s perception of a dollar may also impact how they value a claim.  The value of a dollar to a jury member who makes minimum wage is very different than a jury member who make an executive’s salary.         

Other things can drastically impact the value of your claim is whether your insurance company or medical providers have subrogation interests or liens placed against a settlement of judgment.  While these interests can sometime be negotiated down, these types of claims impact the value of an injured person’s claim.    

With all these challenges to claim valuation, an injured party’s best bet to hire an experienced injury attorney.  An experience injury attorney will know how to minimize potentially negative aspects and challenges to your claim while maximizing your recovery.     

Posted by eswartz at 1/27/2015 8:08:00 PM
Friday, November 21, 2014

Thank you to our clients and our colleague attorneys for the many referrals you have made to Jones & Swartz PLLC in 2014.  Our clients’ pleasure without our services is of great pride to us at Jones & Swartz PLLC.  And, knowing that other attorneys refer to Jones & Swartz PLLC, confirms for us that our balance between professionalism and advocacy not only secures the best result for our clients but also builds respect among our peers.

Posted by eswartz at 11/21/2014 8:47:00 PM
 Tags: attorney referral 
Friday, February 21, 2014
Deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit involves more than answering “yes” to whether you have been wronged.  Many other factors must be considered before you pull the litigation-trigger. For starters, how much money are your really out because of someone's wrongful action?  How much money do you have that you are willing to put into fighting a legal battle?  How much time and energy do you really have available to commit to litigation?  How much time and energy does your family have available to commit?  What are your goals?  What are the risks?  Is there a solution other than litigation that could meet your goal?
 
It is natural that you would be really angry shortly after being wronged.  But, jumping head-first into lawsuit may not be the best option.  Your frustrations caused by someone else doing you wrong will not go away just because your find an attorney willing to file a lawsuit.  It may be that such an attorney wants your more than they want to help you resolve your situation. 
 
Litigation is intrusive, time consuming, expensive, and unpredictable.  And, it may not be the answer you are really looking for. 
   
Get help deciding whether pursuing a lawsuit is the best thing for you.  There are other options.  Contact the attorneys at Jones & Swartz PLLC today to discuss what options may be the most productive for your end goals.   
Posted by eswartz at 2/21/2014 11:49:00 PM
Friday, January 10, 2014
Tough times are sometimes made worse by the loss of your job or your partner’s job. One public benefit available to many folks who have lost their job is unemployment compensation. It is the public policy of the state of Idaho that: 
 
Economic insecurity due to unemployment is a serious threat to the well-being of our people. Unemployment is a subject of national and state concern. [Idaho Code Title 72, Chapter 13] addresses this problem by encouraging employers to offer stable employment and by systematically accumulating funds during periods of employment to pay benefits for periods of unemployment. The legislature declares that the general welfare of our citizens requires the enactment of this measure and sets aside unemployment reserves to be used for workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. I.C. § 1302.
 
In order to receive unemployment compensation you must satisfy certain qualifications. Three of the most prominent qualifications are that: 1) your job loss cannot be due to quitting or leaving voluntarily; 2) being fired cannot be a result of your own misconduct; and 3) you must actively look for a new job following the loss of your job. I.C. §§ 72-1366(5) and (6). Several other criteria must also be met. Contact the Idaho Department of Labor for help filing a claim for unemployment benefits:  www.labor.idaho.gov.
 
If your claim for unemployment benefits is denied, you have the right to appeal that decision. You must file an application for appeal within fourteen days after you receive the denial of benefits. I.C. § 72-1368(3)(c). After filing for the appeal, you will be afforded a reasonable opportunity to a fair hearing. I.C. § 72-1368(6). Both you and your former employer have the opportunity to submit evidence and testimony to the appeals examiner at the hearing. I.C. § 72-1368(6). If you disagree with the decision of the appeals examiner, you would have the opportunity to request a rehearing. But, you must file that request within ten days from receiving the appeals examiner’s decision. I.C. § 72-1368(6). 
 
As an individual claiming unemployment benefits, you have the right to be represented by an attorney, if you so choose. I.C. § 72-1375. However, that attorney would have to be hired by you personally on terms agreed to between you and your legal counsel. The deadlines for filing for an appeal or rehearing are short. If you need legal assistance do not delay in hiring an attorney. 
Posted by eswartz at 1/10/2014 10:30:00 PM
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Attorney-client communications are protected from disclosure. The client is in control of the privilege. Being in control, the client can maintain or waive the attorney-client privilege. “An attorney cannot, without the consent of his client, be examined as to any communication made by the client to him, or his advice given thereon in the course of professional employment.” I.C. § 9-203. The word “client” includes a person, a corporation, or an association. I.C. § 9-203. The attorney-client privilege exists as an exception to the rule that all relevant evidence must be disclosed by all parties involved in a lawsuit.
 
There exists a “fundamental principle that the public has the right to every man’s evidence … .” Garner v. Wolfinbarger, 430 F.2d 1093, 1100 (5th Cir. 1970) (citing 8 Wigmore, Evidence, § 2192 at 70.) Exceptions from the general duty to give testim
Posted by eswartz at 12/5/2013 11:36:00 PM
Friday, November 22, 2013
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There is no other place that this rings more true than in the formation of a business relationship. Taking a moment or two to outline the details is an important step and can prevent a long and drawn-out legal battle in the future. While it is nearly impossible to anticipate every potential problem, problems nonetheless should be expected to arise, and problems usually involve having to hire an attorney.   Addressing who should have to pay for attorney fees, and under what circumstances is worthy of consideration when forming a business relationship.   
In Idaho, the general rule is that each party to a lawsuit has to bear their own attorney fees.  Idaho law recognizes two exceptions to the general rule: (1) if a statute involved in the lawsuit provides for attorney fees; or (2) if the parties’ agreement at issue in the lawsuit provides for attorney fees.  Attorney fees by statute are limited to certain circumstances. Attorney fees by a provision in a contract can provide for attorney fees on your terms.   Even if the parties agree to arbitration, without a provision in the parties’ agreement providing for attorney fees in arbitration, not even a successful party to the arbitration will be able to get their attorney fees reimbursed.
While thinking about and planning for destruction at the time that you are trying to create something seems counter intuitive, if you put in a little effort into preventing a problem, you will not have to put in a lot of effort into solving the problem should it arise later. Attorney fees are a problem that can, and should be addressed in every agreement.    
Posted by eswartz at 11/22/2013 5:40:00 PM
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