Monday, April 28, 2014

Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney| Public Defenders, Pro Se, and Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

When you face criminal charges, or when there is an investigation of possible criminal charges against you, finding an experienced criminal defense attorney is the key to helping you receive the outcome you deserve. The attorneys at Portner & Shure have been leaders in the area of criminal defense for over 20 years and have the results to prove it.

 Many are well-versed in their Miranda rights and know that if a defendant cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided free of charge. A public defender, while great for those who are truly unable to hire a criminal defense attorney, should be seen as a last resort for most clients. Public defenders usually meet their clients for the first time minutes before trial and brief themselves on the facts of the case moments before representing their clients. While some public defenders are truly great attorneys, the type of attorney you receive will be nothing short of a gamble with the greatest price at stake - your liberty and freedom.

In order to be eligible for the services of the Office of the Public Defender, there are six factors that must be considered under Article 27A§7 of the Annotated Code of Maryland: (1) The nature, extent, and liquidity of assets; (2) The disposable net income of the defendant; (3) The nature of the offense; (4) The effort and skill required to gather pertinent information; (5) The length and complexity of the proceedings; and (6) Any other foreseeable expenses.

Within the Code of Maryland Regulations, Section 14.06.03, are income guidelines for eligibility. The Regulations state that the maximum net annual income level for persons accepted for representation in District Court cases, violation of probation, and contempt of proceedings may not exceed 100 percent of the current official federal poverty income guidelines. All other cases may not exceed 110 percent of the current official federal poverty income guidelines. The guidelines can be found in §673(2) of OBRA-1981 (42 U.S.C. §9902(2)).

Many clients often call our office looking for information on how they can represent themselves in court. Criminal charges can be very serious and you, as the defendant, may not even fully understand the repercussions you are facing. Because of this, it is strongly advised that you do not attempt to represent yourself in a criminal case. This is especially true for many of our clients who speak English as a second language or those who only speak Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Vietnamese. Even clients who speak perfect English do not fully understand "legalese," or language that is so filled with legal jargon that anyone who is unfamiliar with it is left puzzled by the words before them.

The criminal defense department at Portner & Shure houses some of the best criminal defense attorneys in the area. In fact, our criminal defense attorneys have been recognized by The National Top 100 Trial Lawyers. Not only this, but our clients speak for themselves in our countless glowing reviews.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys Now Offer Spanish Workers' Compensation Evaluations

Leading personal injury law firm in Maryland is now providing free Spanish case evaluations in workers' compensation. Read more...

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Maryland Personal Injury Attorney|Distracted Drivers to Face Harsher Penalties

Just last week, Governor Martin O'Malley signed the bill for Jake's Law into the books. The law is named after Jake Owen, a 5-year-old boy from South Baltimore who died after a distracted driver crashed into his family's vehicle in 2011. The law creates harsher penalties and jail time for drivers that cause serious or fatal car accidents while talking or texting on their cell phones. The idea behind the law is to make distracted driving similar to drunk driving. The Owen family was shattered when Jake was killed, but when the distracted driver was only fined $1,000 as a result of the crash, they were livid. At the time of the trial, many jury members did not consider talking or texting on the phone while driving to be reckless behavior. Now, a judge may impose a jail sentence up to one year and a $5,000 fine if a driver causes a serious or fatal accident while texting or talking on the phone. It is essential for all drivers to be careful while driving and to know, now more than ever, to put down the phone.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Maryland Dog Bite Attorney|Pit Bulls are No Longer "Inherently Dangerous"

The two-year fight is finally over. Animal advocates sighed with relief when Governor Martin O'Malley negated the 2012 Court of Appeals ruling that found pit bulls to be inherently dangerous, and that they should be held to a strict liability standard.  This ruling infuriated dog lovers across the state and sparked a heated debate for two years. The court decision also opened the door for dog bite victims to sue landlords for injuries, causing difficulties for tenants who owned pit bulls. Many pit bull-owning tenants faced the hard decision between their homes and their pets.

The new legislation now applies the same legal standard to all dog breeds. The owner has the burden of proof to show that there was no previous reason to believe that a dog was dangerous. This allows for dog bite victims to seek the justice they deserve without singling out pit bulls as an inherently dangerous breed. Furthermore, the new legislation makes it more difficult for dog bite victims to pursue lawsuits against the landlords. 

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Maryland Personal Injury | Facebook and Twitter Can Hurt You as Much as Your Injury


After suffering from a serious personal injury due to the negligence of another in Maryland, most of our clients focus on getting better. In fact, in the past we would instruct clients that going to the doctor was all they needed to do, with the rise of social media this has now changed.

All Portner & Shure clients are now instructed that they need to be aware that the defendant's insurance company may be viewing their Facebook and Twitter posts. In fact, posts are now discoverable during the course of litigation. Discovery is permissible regardless of whether privacy settings have been set to allow limited access. All of our injury clients are specifically told, therefore that they should no longer post anything that could be considered relevant to their claims.

Once a post is made that could be viewed as harmful to any injury cases, your lawyer cannot ethically instruct you to delete the post. Be aware, in short, that social media posts that are inconsistent with your claim can actually destroy settlements.

Not long ago our injury firm only had to instruct clients in work injury cases or serious injury cases, that doing activities inconsistent with their claim could be caught on video tape. Despite my warnings, I did have several cases that I remember distinctly where a video tape of my clients activities was played at trial. Once, a client claiming a serious injury was found bowling. Another, a sympathetic nice Chinese speaking client, claimed she could not do any activities, yet was filmed raking leaves. Another, a man who claimed he could not raise his arms or lift anything, was filmed putting a rack on top of his car, and filling it with luggage and vacation items. Now, I fear defense attorneys can easily use documents revealing damaging statements, or pictures. from social media.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Maryland Personal Injury Attorney|Sharing the Road with Bicyclists

Many agree that biking is good exercise, but the majority of motorists believe that cyclists should have their own lanes and stay off the roads that were designed for automobile traffic.  

Cyclists are not permitted on roads where the posted speed limit is greater than 50 mph, but are permitted on the shoulder of the road.  This still becomes a problem when there is debris, glass, uneven pavement, culverts, etc., that prevent the cyclist from riding on the shoulder and entering back into the path of the motorist.

Motorists and cyclists both need to be aware of the laws and regulations in their states.  In Maryland, when passing a cyclist, you must allow three feet from the side of your vehicle and return to your lane when you can clearly see the cyclist in your rear view mirror.  A motorist should not use his horn to alert the cyclist as this could in turn alarm them.  Cyclists should stay as close to the right side of the road to maintain safety.  They are required to use turn lanes and motorists should not attempt to make right turns across the path of the cyclist.  

Maryland law requires that cyclists must:

    •    Wear a bicycle helmet if they are under 16 years old
    •    Obey all traffic signs, signals and other traffic devices    
    •    Ride in the same direction as motor vehicles and as near to the right side of the road as possible
    •    Use standard arm signals to alert other drivers of lane changes and turns
    •    Stop for school buses when they are loading or unloading children
    •    Yield to pedestrians
    •    Refrain from wearing a headset that covers both ears

Further, a bicycle must be equipped with front and rear lamps and reflectors if the bicycle is used on a public road at any time when there is insufficient light or inclement weather.  It should also be equipped with a bell or horn and brakes.

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Maryland Personal Injury Attorney|Contingency Fee

Most Maryland auto accident injury attorneys are paid through contingency fees. A contingency fee basically means that the client does not pay anything to the attorney unless there is a settlement with the insurance company or judgment from the court. When there is a settlement or judgment, a Maryland accident attorney is typically entitled to a percentage of that total settlement or judgment amount. When an injured person is considering hiring a Maryland accident injury lawyer, he or she should read the fee agreement very carefully. Before signing the fee agreement, be sure to check what percentage of the settlement the attorney is charging as a fee.

Some Maryland auto accident injury attorneys will charge fees that are too high. If the Maryland auto accident attorney's fee agreement includes a fee of more than 33% for a case that settles, that Maryland accident injury lawyer is a rip-off artist. Most Maryland accident injury cases settle and a fair Maryland auto accident attorney will charge a 33% fee.

Usually, a Maryland auto accident lawyer's fee agreement will have a different fee for a case that goes into litigation. When a case goes into litigation, that means that the case did not settle because of a disputed issue. Common issues insurance companies dispute are low property damage, liability, and reasonableness of medical treatment. A case that is put into litigation will be decided by a judge or jury. Litigation requires much more work including pleadings, discovery, trial preparation, travel, and trial. The additional work often increases the attorney fee to 40% of the total judgment. If your Maryland accident lawyer is charging you more than a 40% fee for a case in litigation, or more than a 33% fee for a case that settles, that attorney is ripping you off. The Maryland accident attorneys at Portner & Shure are both fair and experienced. If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident contact the Maryland accident attorneys at Portner & Shure.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney | Woman Wins $1.3 Million Jury Verdict

Last week, a Carroll County woman was awarded $1.3 million for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Her doctor left her with a permanent hernia and unable to eat normally after he used a surgical synthetic mesh to help close a hernia. The doctor had claimed that it was accepted practice to use the mesh for that purpose amongst surgeons.

When another surgeon attempted to remove the mesh months later, it caused a leak in her esophagus. While attempting surgery to correct the tear, it was found that there was too much mesh within her esophagus. It was claimed that the doctor had used the wrong type of mesh, used in the wrong way, without informed consent.

Today, the woman can now only eat slowly and in small amounts because of her condition. Furthermore, she has a ventral hernia, wears a special girdle, cannot lift more than five pounds, and cannot bend over. Her injuries have also strained her marriage as she relies on her husband to come home from work multiple times a day to care for her wounds and check her IV.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Maryland Social Security Disability Attorney|What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that pays benefits to those who become disabled before they reach the age of retirement and are unable to work.

Work Credits: In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, you need to have earned a set number of work credits. Work credits are earned every year that you work and you may earn up to four credits per year. The number of work credits that you need to qualify for benefits depends on your age at the time you became disabled.

Medical Condition: In addition to fulfilling the number of work credits, you must have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration's (SSA) definition of a disability. Those who fulfill the medical condition requirement are those with a severe, long-term, total disability. "Severe" means that the extent of your condition interferes with your ability to perform basic work-related tasks. "Long-term" means that your condition has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least one year. "Total disability" means that you are not able to perform "substantial gainful activity" (SGA). Meaning, if you are unable to gain an income of $1,040 per month, the SSA will find that you are not able to perform SGA.

Approval: If the SSA approves you for disability benefits, you will not receive those benefits for five months. This means that if your claim is approved right away, you will start to receive benefits five months from the date of approval. Most claims take months to a year for approval, and when this happens, you will be credited disability backpay. Disability payments start on the sixth month after your disability began. 

Denial: Most Social Security Disability claims are initially denied. When this happens, an appeal of the decision may be made. Within 60 days of your receipt of the letter, request a review of the denial. To appeal the decision, the first level of appeal is the Request for Reconsideration, which is simply a request to have another claims examiner review your case. If you are subsequently denied, you may request a hearing with an SSA administrative law judge.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

4 Startling Statistics of Truck Driver Fatalities


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Maryland Criminal Law Attorney|Two Paths to Marijuana Decriminalization

With the legislative session soon coming to a close, both the House of Delegates and the Senate are seeking ways to bridge the gap between two different measures on the same issue: medical marijuana.

The General Assembly last year passed a medical marijuana bill that allowed academic hospitals to order marijuana for patients with certain diseases or symptoms. None of the academic hospitals took advantage of this provision as they feared it may affect their federal funding, as marijuana is still illegal under federal law. This year, they are taking a second look at the program to make it more accessible to patients.

The Senate has a measure to allow for the licensing of treatment centers where medical marijuana can be ordered in order to separate the growers and the patients. Both the Senate and the House are looking at versions where doctors would be able to "recommend" patients to use medical marijuana. This "recommendation" would be akin to a prescription, but because the drug is illegal federally, it cannot be called such. Despite differences between the two bills, many are optimistic that the House and the Senate will come to a consensus. 

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