Wednesday, June 22, 2016


File early. If you are no longer able to work, it may not be a good idea to wait to see if it is permanent.

If you stop working in 2010, and wait around till 2017 to apply, there is a very good chance you will be unable to to receive all the benefits you might be entitled to.

What are the eligibility requirements to get Social Security disability benefits?

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have worked long enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually 10 years). Then, you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security's definition of disability.

In general, SSA pays monthly benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more, or who have a condition expected to end in death. The disability must be so severe the worker cannot work, considering age, education and experience.

If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use the new online application.

Applying online for disability benefits offers several advantages:
You can start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment;
You can apply from the convenience of your home, or on any computer; and
You can avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money.



Every modern lawyer has followed the same painful path: twelve years of school, followed by four years of college, earning a bachelor’s degree, sitting for the LAST test, then getting accepted into law school, and studying very hard with their nose to the grindstone for three years, and ultimately passing the bar exam.

Many young lawyers begin their hopeful career with six figures of student loan debt, earning less than they had hoped, while billing hours every day for firms for years and years. The light at the end of their arduous, sleep-deprived tunnel, is that opportunity to leap from associate to partner.

Wouldn’t it be great to just skip all that schooling and debt and make partner right away?

Kimberly Kitchen, a Pennsylvania woman tried just that. Amazingly, it worked. She became the proud partner of a law firm without ever having going to law school or passing the bar.

Now charged with forgery, unauthorized practice of law, and felony records tampering, her claim to have graduated from Duquesne University School of Law in 2005 was apparently fabricated. However, she worked an astonishing 10 years at a law firm before being promoted to partner in April 2014.

Oh, and she was even elected president of the Huntingdon County Bar Association!

She impersonated an estate lawyer for years and worked for over 30 clients. The firm maybe subject to civil suits and demands of refunds, not to mention having egg on its face.

This is not the first time someone successfully impersonated an attorney. In the movie, “Catch Me If You Can” Leonardo DiCaprio played famous con-man Frank Abagnale Jr. who sat for and passed the Louisiana bar exam. Frank Abagnale Jr. actually did not cheat to pass the test. In reality, it took him three tried to pass. He did so without law school.

Abagnale says that pretending to be a lawyer was easier to fake than being a pilot or a doctor, but he was able to pull those off as well.

Just think what deceptive folks could accomplish if they played by the rules.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Yes the owner is usually liable for the permissive driver's negligence. 

The family purpose doctrine is a court-created legal fiction by which the owner of an automobile is held vicariously liable when the car is negligently driven by a member of the immediate household.   The fiction is predicated on the assumption that the driver is implementing a “family purpose,” even if the driver is only using the automobile for his own pleasure or convenience.   

The car must be driven with the permission of the owner, but this may be inferred from very general circumstances

In order for the family purpose doctrine to apply in Tennessee, two requirements must be met, namely, that the head of the household maintains the vehicle for the purpose of providing pleasure or comfort to his or her family and the driver was using the vehicle at the time of the injury-producing accident in furtherance of that purpose and with either the express or implied permission of the owner.   

The true test is whether the driver was engaged in the owner's business at the time of the accident, with business here meaning the furnishing of pleasure to the owner's family.   The family purpose doctrine applies to adults as well as to minors and is imposed as a matter of public policy.
Thurmon v. Sellers, 62 S.W.3d 145, 156 (Tenn.Ct.App.2001) 

Tenn.Code Ann. § 55-10-311 reads as follows:
(a) In all actions for injury to persons and/or to property caused by the negligent operation or use of any automobile, auto truck, motorcycle, or other motor propelled vehicle within this state, proof of ownership of such vehicle shall be prima facie evidence that the vehicle at the time of the cause of action sued on was being operated and used with authority, consent and knowledge of the owner in the very transaction out of which the injury or cause of action arose, and such proof of ownership likewise shall be prima facie evidence that the vehicle was then and there being operated by the owner, or by the owner's servant, for the owner's use and benefit and within the course and scope of the servant's employment
(b) This section is in the nature of remedial legislation and it is the legislative intent that it be given a liberal construction.

Tenn.Code Ann. § 55-10-312 provides that
[p]roof of the registration of the motor-propelled vehicle in the name of any person shall be prima facie evidence of ownership of the motor-propelled vehicle by the person in whose name the vehicle is registered;  and such proof of registration shall likewise be prima facie evidence that the vehicle was then and there being operated by the owner or by the owner's servant for the owner's use and benefit and within the course and scope of the servant's employment.
In summary, Tenn.Code Ann. § 55-10-312 states that “proof of registration” of a vehicle is “prima facie evidence of ownership” while Tenn.Code Ann. § 55-1-311 provides that “proof of ownership” is prima facie evidence that the vehicle, at the time of the accident, was being operated “with authority, consent and knowledge of the owner” and “within the course and scope of the servant's [i.e., in this case, the driver's] employment.”

Saturday, June 11, 2016



The common view is that you are not moving forward financially unless you are buying your home. “You are making someone else’s payments,” they’ll chide. They almost shame you for renting.

Like most common beliefs, there is some truth to these sentiments. But, it is not necessarily true in all cases.

For instance, consider our brave service men and women that are transferred to this area to serve at the Naval Base. They are usually only here three or four years. Buying a home is a commitment they need not necessarily make. Further, they can receive orders to deploy on very little notice, should world affairs demand it. Our local military are probably smart to rent and to further have the expressly reserved ability to break the lease without notice in the event of orders to leave the area.

Another group that may wish to forgo buying and stay with renting is recent graduates. Getting a career established might result in following a job elsewhere, if only for a couple years. A home and mortgage ties you in one place. Until you know you are ready to put down roots, a rental is can be a more flexible option.

Finally, if the purchase of the house will be such a stretch, renting for a while longer might be a better option. Young couples who are both working can often qualify for much more home than the husband could pay for on his salary alone. If a purchase is made that requires 40% of all household income to buy, if she gets pregnant and is on bed rest, it may require 65% or more of his one income just to pay the note. Then, when the air conditioner has to be suddenly replaced, there is just no remaining margin to do so. Debt is run up further and foreclosure notices become common. The house has become not a blessing, but a burden.

Owning a home debt-free is still part of the American dream. I am reminded that debt, including mortgage debt, is never praised on recommended in the Bible. No one is saying it is sinful, but it is only given a negative treatment in Holy Scripture.

Do not let “keeping up with the Jones” cause you to make big mistakes. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers used to caution that, “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Whole Story

“The Whole Story”

One of the the things that needs to be taught is a healthy skepticism about what one sees and hears to be true.

What someone else has heard is not true just because someone trustworthy repeats it. We often fall in the trap of assuming the truth of the assertions someone makes with no intent to lie.

For instance, if someone you trust forwards you an email that you know to be a scam, it is not suddenly valid merely because a trustworthy source sent it to you.

Likewise, when folks repeat various gossip or misconceptions of others, it does not necessarily make it true.

Here are some examples:

-A man’s own mother sent him an upsetting internet rumor. He asked me and I assured him it was not true. He then replied, confused, “but my own mother sent it.”

-Many drivers (and even some insurance agents staff) are under the impression that filing an Uninsured motorists claim against your own insurance hurts you in some way. It cannot.

-People will sometimes say, “I had to have a new car because I needed something reliable.” They have heard this and bought into it, but the new car they buy is really used when they drive it.

-Folks assume that “if someone is hurt on your property it is automatically your fault.” This is not true, and has never been true, but folks have always heard it and believe it.

-Students in grade school are often convinced it takes seven years to digest gum. Oddly, the gum stays in them for about a day, but that fact does not interfere with their beliefs.

-Some college kids are convinced that sucking on a penny can beat a breathalyzer. Nope. If you drink and drive and hurt someone in your vehicle or another, you are likely to be charged with a DUI and get sued by me.

In other words, consider the source of the information that the person is relying upon, more so than just the source.

This could not be more true than with eternity. Neither Buddha, Mohamed nor Confucius could defeat their own death. Only Jesus even claimed to.  Trust Him.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The question behind the question

The Question Behind the Question

It is said that law school gives someone brain damage. And they don't mean that you won't be able to think anymore, I think they just mean that you'll think differently from that point on. And I agree with that concept.

For instance, when someone asks me a question I tend to think of the question much differently than I did 25 years ago before I went to law school.

A great example of this is the question: “Oh, you homeschool, what about socialization? "  I now lack the ability to turn off my lawyer thinking because my lawyer thinking immediately identifies two separate assumptions underlying that question. And if I don't agree with the assumptions on which the foundation of the question is based, then I can't truly answer the question.

Assumption one in the "what about socialization?" question is that homeschoolers do not get socialization.  Assumption two in that question is that socialization is something to be desired or is inherently good.

Taking the second point first, I disagree that socialization provided in a public school or private school is all necessarily good or desirous. Some of it is great. I am a child of public schools myself. My wife spent most of her time in private school. There is some of the socialization that occurs there that homeschoolers certainly miss.  Football games, pep rallies, working on the school yearbook and chatting in the hallways or lockers are something that homeschoolers never really experience.

By the same token, homeschoolers are generally not ever the victim of being bullied, they are not subject to long boring classes that are not geared to their academic ability, they are not generally daily witnesses to drug use, foul language or fights.

Further, I take issue with the assumption that homeschoolers don't get socialized. In fact, at least in our house, we have to set limits on the socialization that occurs. Between athletic classes and teams, church, mission trips, speech and debate tournaments, and shadowing adults doing real life every day, there is quite a bit of socialization.

It is true that in socialization no one is putting their head in the toilet or calling them names.   In fact, instead, they're exposed to trips to the bank and meeting with doctors and all kinds of other real life adult oriented activities. School just happens along the way.  And regardless of where you stand on homeschooling, I think the question is illustrative of the issue that there are questions behind any question you’re asked.

For instance, when you go to buy a car the salesman generally asks, "how much do you want to pay each month?"  Assumptions behind that question include: that you were going to not pay cash for the car, that you are going to do business with him, that you were going to choose to finance it at the lot, and that your monthly budget is the primary issue in the negotiation.

I got burned by one of these long ago where I asked a young boy in line if he "was excited about Santa coming to his house?"   I was quickly informed by his mother that they did not celebrate Christmas at their home. The boy just looked so sad.

I had made an assumption behind the question. So the lesson is that if your assumptions are wrong, you cannot get the proper question asked and that you cannot get the proper question answered.

Funny version of this all started by the striking blonde reporter who is interviewing a marine at a firearms training facility on his base. It seems that some local Boy Scout troops were invited to come and work with professional Marines on their marksmanship skills in the safety and direction of a Marine base Firearms course.

The reporter, took issue with Marines training Boy Scouts on good marksmanship and accused him angrily that," you are training these boys how to kill."  He tried to explain that firearm safety and marksmanship have nothing to do with killing other people.

Undeterred and louder she accused: "Admit it--You are equipping them how to kill".   When the marine could not get her to see the fallacy of her belief, he finally said, “ma’am you are equipped to be a prostitute, but I don't think you are."

It is important to understand the question behind the question. Those assumptions create the foundation on which every good question is based.  But be careful, if you start understanding this too well you may think like a lawyer and nobody around you would want that.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

$55 Million Dollar Verdict

The Tennessee verdict in the Erin Andrews’s civil lawsuit against a hotel group and the man who stalked her in 2008 was a staggering $55 million!
Many folks I talked to said something like, “Fine, film me and post it on the Internet and--for just a couple million bucks--I will be happy!”
The stalker, Michael David Barrett, a former insurance company executive, managed to get her room number and then film her nude through the peephole in her hotel door.  Then, after a failed attempt to sell the film, it wound up going viral on the Internet, where over 17 million people watched it. He did time in prison for this.
Ms. Andrews never knows who has seen it and who hasn't. She was emotionally affected by the events, and spent time and money trying to get the video offline.
The pervert was found by Nashville jurors to be 51% liable for the $55 million award. He is unlikely to pay a cent. West End Hotel Partners, the hotel owner, and Windsor Capital Group, the hotel management company, are responsible for the other 49%, and they will likely settle for far less than $26,950,000 they owe.
Ms. Andrews had to endure the defense attorneys’ strategy that argued her career actually flourished as a result of the video.  I do not think the jury liked that one little bit.
She was embarrassed because of assumptions people made as well.  “Everybody thought it was a publicity stunt. That ripped me apart, “ she testified.
Jury members really wanted to make a point. "We were sending a message out to the hotels and the chains to do better than what they've done," explained one juror.
Andrews repeatedly blamed the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt for giving out her hotel room number to the stalker. She further felt violated that they did not reveal to her that the stalker had actually asked to be put in a room next to hers.  While the hotel companies denied this, it appears that the jurors blamed the hotel.
I recently have noticed that hotel front desk clerks no longer state my room number out loud, and just scrawl the number down on the room key packet.
Under so-called “tort reform” laws now in effect in Tennessee, this verdict could not have been handed down for over $750,000 currently. Legislators in Tennessee have thus decided all cases ever to occur in Tennessee in the future, all without hearing one fact!

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.