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Turner v. Midland Decision

Posted on Thursday, September 8th, 2016 at 10:13 pm    

Follow the link to read an important published decision by the Eastern District of Kentucky federal court, in which Justin Lawrence successfully argued that his admiralty client, a Jones Act Seaman working on the Ohio River, was entitled to proceed to a trial by jury on all his claims for damages.  Lawrence & Associates later settled the claim for a confidential amount.

Turner v. Midland

Thanks to Westlaw, a Thompson Reuters company that helps attorneys perform legal research, for providing this document.  Attorneys can find out more about Westlaw by following the link to their website.


Join Us as We Restore Trees in Buena Vista Park

Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 at 7:28 am    

buenavistaparkIn the fall of 2015, vandals destroyed newly planted saplings at the Buena Vista Park in Newport, Kentucky. Lawrence & Associates heard about this criminal act through the Newport Parks Renaissance Commission’s Facebook posts, and offered to help. After six months of planning and a short winter, we are ready to help the Newport Parks Renaissance Commission re-plant the trees and restore the park.

The attorneys and staff of Lawrence & Associates will be donating their time and money to help the Newport Parks Renaissance Commission enhance the beauty of Buena Vista Park in Newport Kentucky.

Justin L. Lawrence, owner-operator of Lawrence & Associates, vouched to personally help with a donation and his own two hands when he was notified that multiple trees of Buena Vista Park had been destroyed by vandals. Since his initial pledge, multiple other members of Lawrence & Associates’ staff have now also pledged their time to restoring these trees and improving the park.

We ask that you please stop by Buena Vista Park, W 12th Street, Newport, Kentucky 41017 on April 9, 2016 at 9:00am to show your support for these wonderful volunteers.


How Can I Stop My Car From Getting Repossessed?

Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2016 at 8:57 am    

Car-Repossession-300x225A car is a necessity in modern life. We need to go to work, school, and home, and few of us live in walking distance. Therefore, the prospect of a car’s repossession is frightening. Once you finance or lease a car, your car lender has certain rights and remedies that come with the contract you sign. One remedy allows the lender to repossess your car if you default under the terms of your agreement. Your contract will specify what exactly constitutes a default but common examples include failing to make your payments or not having car insurance. Although many car owners assume they have grace period before repossession begins, the contract usually allows for repossession at the time of default.  Some Northern Kentucky car lots, such as Limited Motors, report that they offer at least a three week grace period to car owners in default before repossession begins.  However, often car lots will not guarantee a grace period and choose to exercise their repossession right quickly.

What Steps Should You Take If You Default on Your Loan?

If you are in default on your car loan and cannot make an immediate payment in full, you’ll want to take a few easy steps to avoid finding your car missing one morning. Your car loan lender can usually repossess your car without giving you any notice as long as the repossession does not breach the peace. “Breach the peace” is an important term, and generally means they cannot do anything illegal, including “disturbing the peace” by creating an argument with you or “breaking and entering” by going into your garage to take the vehicle. Repo men generally take cars at night when no one is around so no breach of the peace occurs. If you are in default and know or suspect a repossession is going to occur, considering doing the following:

1. Keeping the car in a garage.

2. Parking the car a distance away from your house and place of work, where it will not easily be found.

3. Parking the car in your backyard, where it cannot be seen from the road.

4. Asking a neighbor or friend to keep the car at their home, under a tarp or other cover.

Under any of these scenarios, you make it less likely that a repossession will occur because you prevent the repo man from finding or accessing the vehicle.

Filing Bankruptcy Ceases All Collection Attempts

A bankruptcy can help you to stop the repossession and even get your car back after repossession. When you file bankruptcy, the automatic stay goes into effect, which forces your creditors to cease all collection attempts against you. This means that your creditors cannot call you, continue with a lawsuit, repossess, sell, or foreclose on your property. With a few exceptions, you are completely protected by the bankruptcy and creditors must seek court permission before continuing their collection efforts.

If you are facing a repossession, you must choose a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in order to save the car. Your best bet is to file bankruptcy before the car is repossessed – if you do so, Lawrence & Associates can print a proof of bankruptcy filing for you that will prevent the repo man from taking your vehicle. Even if the car has been repossessed, you can get the car back if you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy before the car is sold at auction. However, the timing of the auction is always in flux, so it can sometimes be difficult to get a bankruptcy filed and get notice to the lender before the auction occurs.

Hire Lawrence & Associates and Stop Repossession

Do you think your lender may try to take your car soon and you cannot afford to get caught up on your car payments? A bankruptcy may be your best option to stop repossession. Call Lawrence & Associates today! We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we can help you!


Am I Covered Under Kentucky Workers’ Compensation?

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2016 at 4:52 am    

**Workers compensation in the state of Kentucky is a state-mandated, “no-fault” insurance system that pays benefits to workers injured on the job. It is managed by Kentucky’s Department of Workers’ Claims. Any employer who has at least one employee must acquire this coverage before the employee’s first day of work. In return for carrying a workers’ comp policy, employers receive immunity from civil lawsuits filed by employees over workplace injuries.

There are a few circumstances where employers can be exempt. For example, purely agricultural workers are not covered by Kentucky Workers’ Compensation. However, agricultural activities are narrowly defined – for example, harvesting crops is considered agricultural but repairing the roof on a barn is not. If you are not sure whether you fall into the agricultural exception, the attorneys at Lawrence & Associates can research the issue for you, for free.

Other exceptions to Kentucky’s Workers’ Compensation system, although less common, include solitary domestic workers in private homes, workers in a charitable or religious organization, and workers covered by another Federal Act such as the Jones Act for American seamen.

Am I an Employee?

Generally, if you are drawing a paycheck from an employer, you are either an employee or an independent contractor. Figuring out which category you fall under is more an art than a science.

Kentucky has a case called Ratliff v. Redmon that sets out the following factors to determine who is an employee:

(a) the extent of control which, by the agreement, the master (boss/employer)may exercise over the details of the work;

(b) whether or not the one employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business (Do they have their own company?);

(c) the kind of occupation, with reference to whether, in the locality, the work is usually done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision;

(d) the skill required in the particular occupation;

(e) whether the employer of the workman supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and the place of work for the person doing the work;

(f) the length of time for which the person is employed;

(g) the method of payment, whether by the time or by the job;

(h) whether or not the work is a part of the regular business of the employer; and

(i) whether or not the parties believe they are creating the relationship of master and servant.

If you are confused, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Lawrence & Associates has litigated this issue on many occasions, and on each there are arguments for both sides. If you are not sure whether you qualify as an employee, give us a call and we’ll help you work your way through.

What Happens If I Fall Under an Exemption to Workers Compensation?

Although Kentucky’s workers’ compensation laws allow businesses to choose to be exempt from providing workers’ comp insurance, an exempt employer must still provide benefits to an injured worker. These employers also remain exposed to civil lawsuits brought by employees who are injured during work. In addition, employers that fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance can be hit with severe civil penalties and fines.

If you or someone you know has been injured at work, contact Lawrence & Associates today! We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we can help!


Social Media and Lawsuits – What You Say Can Be Used Against You by a Defense Attorney

Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2016 at 12:39 pm    

The American Association for Justice creates Trial Magazine, which discusses best practices for trial attorneys and their clients. A recent article on the use of social media by litigants gave ten excellent pointers.

socialmediaFor years, judges have allowed defense attorneys to look at social media accounts. Although this may not seem like a big deal at first (don’t teenagers allow everyone to see what they are doing on social media, all the time?), it can get very invasive. For example, let’s say you have a Facebook account that is set to private so no one can see what you post unless they are a friend. Then let’s say you were hurt in a car accident, and you sent instant messages to a friend on Facebook about the accident, but did not post about the accident on your wall. American case law says defense attorneys can force you to turn over the password for your entire Facebook account, and that the defense attorney can look through every instant message in the account and at every post you ever made to your wall, even if they have nothing to do with the car accident!

By comparison, when police enter a criminal’s home they are only allowed to look in the exact areas that a judge has specified in a subpoena – if the allegation is that they make meth in their basement, the police can go to the basement but may not be able to go through the bedroom drawers. In other words, Facebook users in a car accident have less of a right to online privacy from defense attorneys than meth manufacturers do from the police.

With that in mind, here are ten tips from the American Association for Justice to preserve your online privacy and still have a shot at getting justice in a lawsuit:

  1. Archive the contents of your current accounts – don’t just delete things; make sure there is a backup. Most social media sites will give you directions on how to do this.
  2. Deactivate or stop using your social media accounts. If you can’t deactivate, then after you archive you should delete any information about your injury.
  3. Turn on the highest privacy settings – make sure only your friends can see your information.
  4. Know who your friends are! Make lists of close friends and, if you are going to post during your lawsuit, only post to those close friends. Also, don’t accept random friend requests from people you don’t know.
  5. Become invisible by selecting “only friends” under the “search visibility” option in Facebook. Google Plus has a similar feature by unchecking the box for “Public Search Listing”.
  6. Remove all photos of yourself that are not head shots. Defense lawyers will use your private photos at trial!
  7. Anything you write can be used against you. What seems like a funny joke on Facebook might not seem too funny in a courtroom, and sarcasm doesn’t always come through! Think before you post.
  8. Keep all computers, tablets, or cell phones until the trial is over, even if you get a new one. Defense lawyers sometimes accuse you of destroying evidence if you don’t keep these.
  9. Don’t send messages about the case through instant messenger. Ever.
  10. Don’t join websites or web chat groups, even if they are about the law. Defense lawyers are allowed to troll these sites to try to pick up damaging information about you!

Lawrence & Associates – A Tech Savvy Law Firm

Lawrence & Associates is up to date on technological advances, and as a result we offer better protection from intrusive defense attorneys to our clients than many other firms. If you or someone you know had an accident in Kentucky but lives elsewhere, please do not hesitate to contact Lawrence & Associates for more information and assistance. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we can help!


Spotlight On Pete Tripp

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2015 at 9:28 am    

Learn more about Pete Tripp, the Senior Associate at Lawrence & Associates

Pete-TrippHow long have you been in practice?

Since 2012. I have been with Lawrence and associates since early 2015. I am admitted in Ohio and Kentucky. Prior to practicing law, my career was in sales, and retail management.

Describe your area of practice.

I head the workers’ compensation practice at Lawrence and Associates, which takes about seventy percent of my time. I practice personal injury, which takes about twenty five percent of my time, the remainder is spent on developing employees and the law office to promote an efficient client-driven organization.

Why did you choose these practice areas?

I would say they chose me. I always wanted to be a litigator, my late father in law was a judge in Ohio, and I excelled in trial advocacy at law school. I represented the law school on the national trial team, helping fill the trophy cabinet along the way. I now teach that class as an adjunct professor. Specifically I chose my position at Lawrence & Associates based on my background. I already had experience as a personal injury attorney with a large Ohio firm, and I had worked in workers’ compensation as a defense attorney for a couple of years before transitioning to exclusively representing injured people.

What attracted you to these areas of practice?

A sense of justice. I have seen first-hand many occasions where the insurance company holds all the cards and the injured worker gets a bad outcome. This simply did not sit well with my personality. I prefer to fight for the injured party rather than protect the wallets of insurance companies. I bring my experience from defense work to aid the injured worker, and to me that feels like it is the right thing to do. I became a lawyer to help people. At Lawrence & Associates, that is the goal. So these practice areas help me achieve that in a firm that shares my ideals.

What makes you or your practice stand out?

Commitment, determination, and advocacy. I begin every case as if it is going to trial. By doing so, we are better prepared to fight for our clients. Because I have a management background, I bring business experience that is simply not taught to lawyers and I use that to make the firm more efficient. The end goal is rapid results-driven recoveries for our clients.

What is the biggest success you have had?

I don’t believe attorneys should look at cases as their successes. The focus should be on whether the client considers the case a success. I suppose the biggest success I have had is in developing a team that believes the goal is to exceed our clients’ expectations. If the client is happy, I’m happy.

What is your favorite part of running your practice?

When a client breathes that sigh of relief because they know we are there for them. I tell my clients that it is my job to worry about their cases, so they don’t have to.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Big insurance companies. They have all the money, and a system in place that quickly operates against the injured person when they choose to deny a claim. I know what to do when the system turns against my client, but I try to stop that happening in the first place when I can. That is always a challenge,

Do you have any special education, background or skills? What unique talents do you bring to your practice?

I was a person before I was a lawyer! My background includes over a decade of management experience and I bring that experience to my client’s cases. My career has taken me from London, England to the USA with an almost two year spell in Warsaw, Poland in between. Living in other countries gives you other perspectives. I use those perspectives when I strategize over a case. I hold teaching and training qualifications, which hone my skills as a negotiator, I use them to get the best deals I can for my clients.

What is the best advice that you received and who did it come from?

Never give up. My Dad.


Spotlight on Danielle Rodriguez

Posted on Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 at 11:39 am    

Learn more about Danielle Rodriguez, an Associate at Lawrence & Associates

rodriguez-350How long have you been in practice?

I have been with the Firm since July 2015. Prior to practicing law, I taught in public and private education for 8 years.

Describe your area of practice.

I currently focus on Bankruptcy and Personal Injury. I also do some Social Security Disability law.

Why did you choose this area of practice?

I went to law school because I understand how frustrating and scary it can be to face a legal situation with no understanding of the legal field. After watching family and friends struggle with divorce, bankruptcy, and automobile accidents, I decided that I wanted to be able to help others who face that sense of helplessness. I enjoy extending some peace of mind to my clients and helping them see a light at the end of the tunnel.

What attracted you to this area of practice?

As a teacher, I constantly interacted with students and families. I enjoyed those relationships and wanted to practice in an area of law that would facilitate similar connections with my clients. I never would have enjoyed working in a corporate office without face-to-face meetings and regular phone calls. In each of the areas I practice, I am able to develop strong relationships with clients, and that ultimately helps me advocate on their behalf in a more meaningful way.

What makes you or your practice stand out?

We make personal connections with our clients and their struggles become our own. Client satisfaction is truly important to us—this is one reason why clients are able to speak to their attorneys when they call and receive reply emails promptly.

What is the biggest success you have had?

I feel that every success is an important piece to the overall puzzle. Whether it is as simple as offering assurance to a nervous client or finding solutions to problems that impede a bankruptcy, I am always satisfied to close a case and know that I helped.

What is your favorite part of running your practice?

I love telling clients that, “We’ll take this from here. You don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

What are the biggest challenges you face?

It is important to me to be available to my clients when they need me. Managing emails and phone calls in a timely manner sometimes requires that I come in on weekends and evenings, especially when I’ve been kept out during the day for Court. Although it takes some creative time management, it is a continued priority of mine. I have had several clients express amazement when I returned their phone calls late into the evening or on a Saturday. When a client chooses me or any other Lawrence & Associates attorney, they aren’t just choosing a 9-5 representative.

Do you have any special education, background or skills? What unique talents do you bring to your practice?

As I mentioned before, I worked in education for 8 years prior to practicing law. From the outside, it may seem like teaching elementary school doesn’t have too many similarities to what I do now. However, the skills I acquired during that professional experience have been invaluable to my daily performance as an attorney. I acquired strong problem solving and interpersonal skills, developed the ability to organize and multi-task under even the most stressful situations, and above all, became perfectly accustomed to getting my work done whenever and wherever is necessary. I used to sit at my son’s basketball practice grading papers—now I’m summarizing medical records!

How are you involved with the community?

Currently, I am working with AppalRed Legal Aid to assist several victims of the Social Security Administration’s fraud investigation in Eastern Kentucky. These clients did nothing wrong and are truly disabled, however the SSA is threatening to end their disability benefits because of the possible wrong actions of others. I am hopeful that I can secure a successful outcome for each of them.

What are the future plans for your practice?

It is my goal to help greatly expand the Bankruptcy and Personal Injury practices of Lawrence & Associates. Someday, I would like to combine my knowledge and expertise of public education with my legal career by expanding my practice area to include Special Education Law.

What is the best advice that you received and who did it come from?

“Let all that you do be done in love.”
– 1 Corinthians 16:14


The Problem with Using Yelp When Searching for an Attorney

Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2015 at 4:30 pm    

Yelp can be a thorn in the side of many professionals because Google tends to emphasize Yelp reviews and even publish them in search results. However, Yelp reviews tend not to accurately capture a professional service’s – or any small business’s – actual client relationships. Many have complained about the service for various reasons, some going so far as to call it a scam. For lawyers, Yelp can be especially problematic, and not always as good as more specific services such as Avvo when it comes to ranking lawyers. Here are a few reasons why:

Yelp Requires Attorneys to List Specialties

Keyboard_typingRight off the bat, it’s easy to tell that Yelp is not designed for professionals such as attorneys. While the word “specialty” gets thrown around a lot, for a professional such as an attorney, doctor, or accountant, specialty can mean something very particular. In Kentucky, for example, attorneys are not allowed to claim a “specialty” at all except under very specific circumstances. Thus, even creating a listing on Yelp could theoretically land a Kentucky attorney in hot water! Lawrence & Associates has attempted to compromise by listing our areas of practice in this section, but by also explicitly stating that none is a “specialty” per se.

Yelp Hides Reviews at Random

Again, this is a problem that seems to affect professionals such as attorneys, doctors, or accountants. For whatever reason, our clients don’t seem to leave feedback on Yelp nearly as often as, say, a restaurant patron. For this reason, you will often see only a handful of reviews for an attorney compared to dozens of reviews for a local restaurant such as Grandview Tavern & Grille. Apparently because of this, Yelp tends to assume the relatively few reviews received by professional businesses are “fake” reviews rather than real ones. Look through many local professional listings and you will see reviews hidden as “not recommended” or negative reviews boosted above positive ones. At Lawrence & Associates, we have been fortunate enough to avoid any negative reviews on Yelp, although we’ve seen several clients express frustration that their reviews are not recommended and therefore not visible. Unfortunately, Yelp’s confusing assumptions about reviews for professional organizations tends to lead to the conclusion that there are not many reviews of the business out there or, worse, that the business’s clients are more dissatisfied with the business’s performance than they really are. In either event, this is again a problem that does not exist when using Avvo or Martindale Hubbel.

Yelp Does Not Have Categories for Most Types of Law

Finally, it can be difficult to find the type of attorney you need by using Yelp. Yelp does not have categories for many areas of law that people in the Greater Cincinnati area commonly need. For example, Lawrence & Associates practices in bankruptcy, personal injury, social security, and workers’ compensation. Yelp has categories for bankruptcy and personal injury, but not for social security or workers’ compensation. Looking for a patent attorney? You can’t use Yelp. Until Yelp focuses more on professional services, it is probably a good idea to look elsewhere for referrals to local businesses. As stated above, Avvo specializes in attorney referrals (you can see the listing for Justin Lawrence here).

Attorneys Can and Will Make Referrals to Other Attorneys

If you need a referral to an attorney, call Lawrence & Associates. Even if we can’t help you, we are happy to refer you to another reputable attorney near you. Lawrence & Associates is Working Hard for the Working Class. Call us today!


Frequent Bankruptcy Question: Can I File Bankruptcy More Than Once?

Posted on Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 at 9:34 pm    

bankruptcyOur Northern Kentucky office regularly helps local families file bankruptcy a second or even third time. More than one bankruptcy filing is not only possible, it can be expected in certain circumstances. For example, if a client has significant tax debts and credit card debts and knows high payments in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy are likely, it might make sense to file a Chapter 7 to get rid of the credit card debts first, and then file a Chapter 13 to pay off the tax debts.

The issue many clients do not understand is that a certain period of time has to happen between bankruptcies before the second bankruptcy can result in a discharge, or before the second bankruptcy is even possible. Lawrence & Associates’ attorneys see many people who need to file a second bankruptcy, only to get frustrated when they are told they cannot get a discharge or that they will have to file a different bankruptcy than the kind they wanted. For that reason, we are offering the following general guidelines for potential clients so they have a rough guess as to the options available to them in a second bankruptcy filing.

Filing a Chapter 7 as a Second Bankruptcy

You cannot file a Chapter 7 if you filed a previous Chapter 7 within the past eight years in which you received a discharge. Similarly, you cannot file a Chapter 7 if you filed a previous Chapter 13 within the past six years in which you received a discharge. There is an exception to the six year rule if your prior bankruptcy either paid all the unsecured claims in full or plan payments in the earlier case were at least seventy percent of the unsecureds and the good faith plan in the prior case was the debtor’s best effort. You also cannot file a Chapter 7 if you have had a previous bankruptcy dismissed either voluntarily by you, or because a Kentucky or Ohio court ruled that you were in bad faith or violation of a court order.

Some rules for you to take away: If it has been more than eight years since you filed your bankruptcy, you are ok no matter what you file now. If it has been less than eight years, you need to determine both whether a bankruptcy is possible and whether a discharge is possible. The six year test has exceptions that rely upon the judgment of the court in each individual case, and it is in your best interests to get an experienced bankruptcy attorney, like those at Lawrence & Associates, who will be familiar with the way local courts lean on this subject.

Filing a Chapter 13 as a Second Bankruptcy

As a general rule, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be filed at any time after a prior bankruptcy. The issue is not whether the Chapter 13 can be filed, but rather whether the debtor can receive a discharge in the Chapter 13. Discharge in a Chapter 13 will be denied if a prior Chapter 7, 11, or 12 was filed within four years of this Chapter 13’s filing, or if a prior Chapter 13 was filed within two years of this Chapter 13’s filing. Additionally, if the Chapter 13 is being filed within one year of a prior bankruptcy’s dismissal, a motion to extend the automatic stay must be filed so creditors do not have the right to pursue foreclosure, repossession, or garnishment during the bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 can still have value even if a discharge is not available, so it is a good idea to talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine if a Chapter 13 will help no matter how long it has been since your last bankruptcy. Further, the automatic stay is critical for Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati residents to preserve their assets in bankruptcy, so be sure to consult with a lawyer before filing.

Every Case Is Different, So Don’t Go It Alone!

These are general rules, and every case is different. There may be something about your case that is unique and requires a variation from the norm. Don’t file bankruptcy without legal help. Lawrence & Associates takes pride in representing Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati residents just like you. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we can help. Call today!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

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It’s Election Day So Please Vote and Read This Article “No Accountability = No Safety: How Tort Reform Endangers Us All”

Posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 at 6:33 am    

VoteOn this election day, Lawrence & Associates would like you to take 5 minutes out of your day to read this article before you vote today. The article helps to show that there isn’t a “medical liability crisis” and that the number of medical negligence claims has always been small and getting smaller. The articles exposes that it really is just moneyed interests that want “tort reform” which can potentially endanger any of us who will be visiting a doctor or a hospital in the future.

The following excerpts come from No Accountability = No Safety: How Tort Reform Endangers Us All by Vanessa B. Cantley from this September’s Issue of Bench & Bar Magazine…

Preventable medical errors kill about 98,000 Americans annually according to the institute of Medicine.

The number of Americans killed or seriously injured by completely preventable medical errors every single year numbers in the hundreds of thousands. 

“We have an epidemic of medical malpractice, not of malpractice lawsuits.” said University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Tom Baker. So-called tort “reform” – including this medical review panel bill – is a solution in search of a problem. And, it isn’t even a solution, because it will lead to less accountability in Kentucky’s hospitals and other medical facilities.

Please read the full article that includes almost a full page of reference at the end…

>> No Accountability = No Safety: How Tort Reform Endangers Us All by Vanessa B. Cantley

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