Spada Law - September 2019

THE SLG ADVISOR

617.889.5000 | SPADALAWGROUP.COM

SEPTEMBER 2019

When the Kids Leave Home for Good

What Does It Mean to Be an Empty Nester?

never again live with us on a permanent basis is evoking all types of emotions that I am having trouble sorting out. There will be pros and cons to our new living situation. Liz and I will

This September marks the last back-to- school season where I will have a child living at home. My son Jake is already a senior in college and applying to graduate school, and my youngest child, Jessie, has started her senior year of high school. In less than a year, Jessie will be moving out to attend college herself, and when she’s gone, my wife and I will be empty nesters. I’ve always been aware of the concept of “empty nesters,” but over the last few weeks, the fact that this concept will soon become my reality has me reeling and a bit sad. “Being an empty nester will be a bittersweet experience.” For the last 22 years, my wife, Liz, and I have enjoyed having at least one of our two children living at home with us. Like any family, we’ve had our ups and downs, but I’m so grateful to say the ups have far outnumbered any downs. Now, as Liz and I plan for the next chapter in our lives, the realization that my children may

confident young adults who are ready to go out into the world and start their own lives. I am so proud of my children and know they will go on to do great things. But, on the other hand, as our children start their own lives, Liz and I find ourselves looking at each other and thinking, “What do we do now?” Thankfully Liz and I share many interests, and I am sure we’ll be fine, but it is a weird feeling to be sure. One thing I know that I will do is move. Liz and I raised our children in Middleton, Massachusetts, a quiet, sleepy suburb of Boston. Great place to raise kids but not enough going on for us older folks. Once Jessie moves out to start college, we intend to put our house on the market and move to a town that has a little more activity, possibly Newburyport, Beverly, or Salem. I think living within walking distance of the ocean and good restaurants might help ease the sting of not having my kids around. We shall see. -Len Spada

have more freedom to do as we please. We can go out to dinner whenever we choose; we can travel more; we can get away for the weekend on the spur of the moment; we can work late without concern about getting the kids dinner or missing a sporting event; or we can get to the office early to beat traffic. We can do what we want. This newfound freedom should have me giddy with excitement, but I’m not. When my son left for college, I had my daughter (who I adore!) as a buffer. Now she is leaving too! Just writing this article is causing me anxiety. I will miss the conversations during our meals and the laughter our children contributed to our home on a daily basis for so many years. There will be no soccer games to attend or school activities to participate in. Damn it, the house might even be neat and quiet. Too neat and too quiet! The reality is that I’m saddened by the prospect of becoming an empty nester. I really am. Being an empty nester will be a bittersweet experience. On one hand, it’s a sign that I did my job as a father. My wife and I fulfilled our responsibility and raised two intelligent,

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Does Your College Student Need a Health Care Proxy?

3 D ocuments to H elp P arents H andle a M edical E mergency

Most college freshmen are either over the age of 18 or will be soon, and all parents of these students should be aware of the legal changes that come with this milestone. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of medical records. This means if your adult child becomes ill or injured while at college, you may find yourself unable to obtain any information about their condition. There is nothing more terrifying to a parent than to be in the dark about their own child. Here are forms you and your college student must fill out so you will be able to help them in a medical emergency. 1. HIPAA Authorization A signed HIPAA form allows health care providers to disclose a patient’s health information to designated individuals. These forms do not need to be notarized, and they also include a section where a patient can specify what kind of information they don’t want to be disclosed, such as information regarding mental health, sexual health, or drug use. Find a HIPAA form from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at Mass.gov/media/1105441/download . Be sure you and your student have hard copies of this form as well as scans saved to your computer and smartphone. 2. Health Care Proxy A medical health care proxy is someone appointed by a patient to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event the patient can’t make decisions for themselves. Each state has different laws governing medical health care proxies. You can find more information about health care proxies as well as the form to designate a health care proxy in Massachusetts at MassMed.org/Patient-Care/Health-Topics/ Health-Topics/ .

“From day one, this attorney and firm have been amazing to work with — whether it be response time or just overall being there for me. I would definitely recommend using them. I had nothing but a great experience from the secretary all the way up to the attorney himself. They worked hard for me, and the end result was more than expected!” –John July 26, 2019 3. Power of Attorney Appointing a power of attorney isn’t restricted to health care matters and is something every adult should do. When you appoint a durable power of attorney, you give a designated agent the authority to take care of business on your behalf if you are incapacitated. This could include signing tax returns, accessing bank accounts, or paying bills. Students who have turned 18 and plan on traveling abroad should appoint a parent or trusted family member as their power of attorney in the event they become incapacitated due to an injury or illness while out of the country. The forms for appointing a power of attorney vary state by state, and you should consult an attorney before signing. College is a time for young people to take those first steps into the freedom of adulthood. Having these signed documents lets students enjoy this freedom while allowing parents to be there for their children in an emergency.

review of the month

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How Facebook Can Ruin Your Personal Injury Case Social media has changed the way we interact with the world. These platforms are key to keep in touch with family, stay updated on the news, get invited to the latest party, and even check your child’s school calendar. But for all the benefits of social media, there are just as many drawbacks, and some of these dangers become even more apparent when you’re in the middle of a personal injury case. Here are a few tips to keep your online habits from ruining your case. Don’t Rely on the Privacy Setting When it comes to legal matters, the privacy settings on your social media accounts won’t protect you. A defense attorney may have the right to access anything you post on social media, be it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit. If you’re in the middle of a legal battle, assume everything you post online will find its way to the courtroom. Think Before You Post At Spada Law Group, we’ve watched injured clients testify to being incapacitated in one way or another, only to have the defense counsel show a photo of the client skiing, golfing, or engaging in some other physical leisure activity that seems to contradict the client’s stated disabilities. It doesn’t matter if they were in pain the whole time and only put on a smile for the camera; these seemingly harmless photos or videos posted on social media platforms can have a negative effect on the ultimate value of a claim. If you want to be fairly and fully compensated for an injury that wasn’t your fault, avoid posting about the “amazing weekend” you just had or boasting about the battle wounds you received. Make sure your friends and family members also know not to share anything about you, be it photos or text posts, while your case is ongoing. Don’t Hit That Delete Button After hearing how your social media accounts can be used against you, your first instinct might be to delete potentially incriminating posts or even your entire online presence. Don’t. After your personal injury case starts, scrubbing past posts makes it seem like you have something to hide and are intentionally deleting evidence. This looks bad to a jury or insurance adjuster. The best move is to not put anything incriminating on social media in the first place.

AUTUMN APPLE

FOOTBALL QUARTERBACK TOUCHDOWN HOMECOMING

HARVEST CIDER LEAVES SWEATER

SEPTEMBER LABORDAY

Len’s Lazy Man Low-Carb ‘On Fire’ Shrimp Local Chef’s Corner

Len loves hot and spicy foods but is not a good cook. He also “tries” to eat healthy, so here is his own version of easy, fast, healthy, and hot!

INGREDIENTS • 1 bag (12 oz) of Green Giant cauliflower rice • 12 oz bag of frozen cooked medium shrimp • 3 tbsp olive oil

• Chili powder • 16 oz jar of Green Mountain Gringo hot salsa • Garlic powder

DIRECTIONS 1. With a colander, thaw shrimp under cold running water for 10 minutes. 2. In a deep sauté pan, heat olive oil. 3. Cook cauliflower rice in microwave for 6 minutes, using instructions on bag. 4. While cauliflower rice is cooking, sauté shrimp on medium heat. 5. Sprinkle chili powder and garlic to taste as shrimp heat up in oil. (Be brave, go hot!) 6. Empty cooked cauliflower rice into sauté pan with shrimp, add entire jar of salsa, and heat together for 3–4 minutes.

Like most things in life, there is a time and a place for social media. Our advice? Log off social media until your case is over.

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Inside This Issue

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Empty Nester Anxiety Can You Help Your College Student in an Emergency? Review of the Month Try Len’s Shrimp Recipe! Will Facebook Ruin Your Personal Injury Case? A Surprising Reason for Bankruptcy

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What Happened in Reed Springs? H ow a S mall T own W ent B ankrupt O ver a P othole In 2002, the quaint town of Reed Springs, Missouri, declared

bankruptcy. The hard decision came after the town was forced to pay $100,000 to Sally Stewart, a woman who sued Reed Springs after she tripped over a pothole during a shopping trip. News of a greedy woman ruining a small village to make a quick buck sparked outrage across the country. But Stewart wasn’t the real villain of this story. A little digging into this case reveals a much deeper conspiracy. Stewart had been visiting Reed Springs in 1998 when she tripped on a pothole hidden beneath some overgrown grass on the sidewalk. But this was no small stumble. Stewart tore two ligaments in her ankle and had to undergo surgery. To help pay for the medical bills, Stewart, who’d never sued anyone before, initially filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owners of the store in front of the pothole. However, the Missouri Court of Appeals determined the city of Reed Springs was liable for Stewart’s injuries. The court ordered Reed Springs to pay Stewart $100,000, over half the city’s annual budget. Despite the high price tag, in normal circumstances, this verdict wouldn’t have forced Reed Springs to declare bankruptcy because the town’s insurance would have covered

the bill. Unfortunately, at the time of Stewart’s accident, the mayor of Reed Springs was a corrupt man named Joe Dan Dwyer. Dwyer left office while being investigated for insurance fraud, child pornography, statutory rape, witness bribery, and perjury, and he was later sentenced to seven years in federal prison. Among his many indiscretions, Dwyer also let the town’s insurance policy lapse. Reed Springs didn’t have insurance when Sally Stewart got hurt, which is why they had to write a check out of their own budget and ultimately declare bankruptcy. In this case, what started as a simple pothole accident quickly unveiled the lasting damage of an unscrupulous politician. Perhaps this case serves as reminder about why it’s important to vote in local elections.

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