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Legislative Update: Common-Law Marriage

In February of this year, a bill was proposed to abolish all common-law marriages entered into on or after January 1, 2017; that bill passed the legislature and was signed by Governor Bentley on May 3. Below is a summary of important points regarding the elements of common-law marriage and how this may impact family law and estate cases in the future.

A common-law marriage is a legally recognized marriage without all or some of the pre-requisites of a statutory marriage, such as a valid marriage license or no marriage solemnization. However, there are still necessary elements to a common-law marriage that must be proven in court: (1) Both parties must have mental capacity to enter into a marriage; (2) Mutual consent to enter into a marital relationship, exclusive to all others; (3) public recognition of the marital relationship (holding yourselves out to be married in public); (4) cohabitation or mutual assumption of marital duties and obligations.

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Case Study: The Stolen Therapy Dog

signal-2016-03-27-031650The Alabama legal motto is “lawyers render service”, and us attorneys are often presented with countless opportunities to help people in need. Whether it is representing an indigent person charged with a crime they did not commit or drafting uncontested divorce documents for free through a local legal aid group, Alabama attorneys are very selfless with their time and care a great deal about the communities they represent.

About two years ago, in the summer of 2014, I was presented with an opportunity to render service to a friend of mine with an autistic son whose brand new puppy had been stolen by the original owner of the dog. My buddy calls me on that summer morning and is, of course, frantic and a little upset.

My friend explains the story as follows: A few weeks prior to the phone call, he and his wife purchased a weeks old pit bull puppy for their 8-year old son who has autism. The dog is a gorgeous male dog with a blue/silver coat and white paws, and he and the boy make an immediate bond. Dogs are a natural pet for children with autism because they can provide an extra level of physical protection, such as preventing the child from wandering off, and serve as an emotional anchor for those children. There are countless stories and videos on the internet of dogs providing great therapy to autistic children. I challenge anyone reading this not to cry watching or reading those stories.

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These 5 Mistakes Could Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim

Every legal case is complex in its own way, but personal injury claims are typically the most sensitive when it comes to obtaining the justice you deserve. There are numerous phases in personal injury cases, including discovery, negotiations, and a potential trial. Therefore, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who knows the specific rules in your state to help you receive maximum compensation for your pain and suffering.

Unfortunately, insurance companies and their attorneys often attempt to twist the facts of your case to make you seem like the villain. Your future and livelihood may depend on the result of your personal injury case, which is why you cannot afford to proceed without a trusted personal injury attorney.

There are several missteps that you can make throughout the personal injury lawsuit process, but some happen more often than others. Here are five common mistakes that can deter you from receiving the compensation you deserve in a personal injury lawsuit:

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3 Ways to Better Your Chances of Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits

social securitySuffering a serious injury can spin your life out of control, forcing you to pick up the pieces in a short amount of time. While it is quite helpful that the government offers Social Security disability benefits, you are not guaranteed to be approved for this compensation. Therefore, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you are thinking about applying for Social Security disability benefits.

1. Understand the appeals process if you are denied.

When you file a Social Security disability claim, you should be prepared to receive a notice of denial in the mail. Understandably, this can force you to become quite emotional, but you need to remain level-headed. A denial of your claim does not mean that you will not receive Social Security benefits. If and when this happens, you need to file an appeal with the help of your Social Security disability attorney. The SSA adheres to a strict and unchanging deadline of 60 days for appeals. Unless “good cause” for missing this deadline is clearly established, you will not be eligible for Social Security benefits if you wait too long. Therefore, one of the best ways to make sure you receive Social Security benefits is to file your appeal as soon as possible after speaking with your attorney.

2. Apply for benefits at the right time/under the right circumstances.

Many injured people seeking Social Security benefits wonder if it’s possible to receive them along with unemployment benefits. While this is technically possible, it’s generally discouraged. Most states will require you to prove that you are physically capable of working full-time in order to receive unemployment benefits. Obviously, this would juxtapose your claim for Social Security benefits, making it less likely that you will receive what you deserve. Furthermore, you should never file your claim too quickly. There’s a good chance you need money now because of your injury, but it’s in your best interest to carefully work through the process. You don’t want to rush it. That being said, you can always notify the SSA of your intent to file a claim immediately after suffering the injury.

3. Prioritize medical care and maintain your insurance.

The crux of a successful Social Security disability claim is ongoing medical treatment. Simply put, your claim has little to no chance of being approved if you cannot prove you are currently being treated for a debilitating condition. Extended medical insurance through COBRA should protect you from losing health insurance through your employer after taking leave due to an injury. While these premiums are expensive, they are a necessary evil to get your claim approved by the SSA.

Before you can take advantage of these tips and tricks, you should consult with an experienced and trusted disability attorney. You need to build a complete and thorough case to support your claim, which is impossible to achieve without the help of someone who knows the ins and outs of Social Security. The SSA has its own definition of complete disability, and you cannot afford to lose out on these benefits because your claim was not presented in a convincing manner. The Huntsville, AL, Social Security disability attorneys at Martinson & Beason, P.C. can give you the legal advice you need. Call today.

Homebuyers Guide to Title Insurance

Title Insurance

Click to view full-size graphic.

Buying a home is definitely an exciting and emotional time for many people. To help you buy your home with more confidence, we recommend that you get owner’s title insurance.

Click on the links below to learn why owner’s title insurance is important for you.

If you have any questions about title insurance and your next real estate transaction, contact our experienced legal team today.

Support Team Will: Donate, Walk, and Share

2016 March of Dimes

5 year-old Wyatt Lilienthal Slams It Home for the March of Dimes!

At Martinson & Beason, we strongly believe it is important to give back to the community that has supported us for nearly 80 years. The March of Dimes: March for Babies event is an example of a local cause that our firm is involved in, and one that we strongly support.

Morris Lilienthal and his wife, Shannon, started a team to help support the March of Dimes in 2013. Over the course of the past few years, our team has been so humbled by the support of our friends, family, and the entire Huntsville community as we fundraise for the March of Dimes cause.

Last year, with the help of our local Huntsville community, we helped to raise $10,581 for this amazing cause. This year we’ve raised over $5,000 so far and we are hopeful to be able to donate even more to support programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies to begin healthy lives.


If you are able, our firm would greatly appreciate you making a donation to Team Will.

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If you’d like to follow our journey, please like our Team Will Facebook page as well.


You can also support this great cause by participating in the upcoming event, here are the important details:

Date: Saturday, April 23, 2016
Registration: 8:15AM | Start: 9:00 AM
Walk distance: 3 miles
Heritage Elementary & Bradford Creek Greenway
11775 County Line Road
Madison, AL 35758

Thank you so much for your support. We hope to see you at the March of Dimes event on April 23!

Tips to Avoid Making an Accident Even Worse

Before a driver ever even gets their license, there is a strict set of rules and expectations that are explained to them. Whether it be at the DMV, in a defensive driving course, or simply through life experience, the perils of driving recklessly are well-communicated to most people before they ever get behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, some of these tips, tricks, and rules become an afterthought after several years of driving experience. One of the most dangerous things that a driver can possess is a sense of invincibility, and reckless driving is typically a product of someone who forgets how severely one mistake can change their entire life.

Understanding the Rules of the Road

One of the most obvious yet abused rules of the road is simple: do not, under any circumstances, drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol may get most of the attention in the conversation about DUIs, but there are many more substances that can impair your ability to safely operate a vehicle. Even painkillers, which are typically prescribed by a doctor, can markedly inhibit your driving capabilities.
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8 Tips to Improve Cybersecurity [Infographic]


Martinson&Beason - Cyber Security InfographicFor more information on cybersecurity be sure to read our detailed post here.

M&B Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Arising Out of I-565 Truck Accident

M&B attorney Morris Lilienthal and Chris Glover of the Beasley Allen firm have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama federal court arising out of a February 12th 18-wheeler accident. The accident occurred when the driver of a tractor-trailer, Albert Villearreal, was traveling westbound on I-565 and his truck veered into the median and into I-565 eastbound traffic striking Jamila Davis’ vehicle. Tragically, Jamila Davis lost her life in this wreck. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Davis’ family and friends.

The wrongful death lawsuit named as defendants, the truck driver, Albert Villearreal and the trucking company New Prime, Inc. For more information on Alabama’s wrongful death law, click here. “We’re hopeful through this lawsuit to find out what caused this tragic accident and hold those at fault responsible” said Morris Lilienthal.

Click here to read a story about this lawsuit: http://www.waff.com/story/31326519/federal-lawsuit-filed-against-tractor-trailer-company-in-i-565-fatal-collision

Accidents involving 18 wheelers often result in fatal or serious injuries, due to the size, weight and speed of these vehicles. Truck accidents occur for various reason, but some of the more common causes are:

  • Driver Fatigue
  • Poor or Faulty Maintenance
  • Distracted Driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Excessive speed
  • Overloading trucks

To learn more about our top-rated attorney, Morris Lilienthal and how he helps injured victims click here or call 256-533-1667.

Recent Accidents in Huntsville Area Shine Light on Importance of Seatbelt Use

Picture1Car accidents can devastate the lives of those involved. But one thing that can lessen or stop the devastation is a seatbelt.

In September 2015, a passenger died in a single-vehicle crash on Alabama 251 near Ardmore. The passenger died after the vehicle left the road and overturned. He was not wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene. The driver did not suffer any injuries.

A single-vehicle accident in Athens in November 2015 left one man dead and four injured after the vehicle left the road and struck a culvert. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt and Alabama troopers pronounced him dead at the scene.

Don’t Make Excuses for Not Wearing a Seatbelt

There is no valid excuse for not wearing a seatbelt. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seatbelts reduce both injuries and fatalities from car accidents by about half.

But people make excuses nonetheless. Here are a few common ones people use:

  • Habit: Some drivers claim they just never got used to wearing them.
  • Invincibility: Some young people believe they can live forever. According to 2010 data from the CDC, drivers ages 18-34 are less likely than drivers over 35 to wear seatbelts. In addition, men are 10 percent less likely than women to wear seatbelts.
  • Drunk or Impaired Driving: People who have been drinking may have impaired judgment and forget or choose not to wear a seatbelt.
  • “I’m a good driver.” Some people believe they do not need to wear a seatbelt because they possess the skill to avoid an accident. But good drivers wear seatbelts.
  • Seatbelts can cause injuries.” This is true; seatbelts can cause injuries. But the injuries are usually relatively minor compared to the injuries you might suffer without one.
  • Airbags will save me.” Yes, airbags are designed to protect you in an accident; however, remember that airbags and seatbelts work together to save lives. If the airbag does not go off, you have no protection in an accident if you are not wearing a seatbelt.

Seatbelts drastically reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities in motor vehicle accidents. However, in order for them to work, you need to wear it.

Promote Safe Seatbelt Behaviors

Children learn their behaviors from their parents. If you do not wear a seatbelt, they may not wear one either. Focus on promoting good, safe behaviors rather than excusing unsafe ones.

  • Wear your seatbelt: If your children see you wear one and you encourage them to do the same, it can promote a lifetime of safe seatbelt use.
  • Create a rule for riding in the car with a seatbelt: Everyone has to wear a seatbelt or no one goes anywhere.

Teaching your children to wear a seatbelt can save their lives now and in the future.

Legal Consequences of Not Wearing a Seat Belt

Alabama fines drivers $25 for adults and children who are not buckled up within the vehicle. That might seem like a relatively minor penalty, but consider the costs if you are in a serious accident. If you suffer severe injuries, you are no longer looking at just a penalty of $25—you’re looking at thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and more. And your lack of seatbelt use might affect your ability to recover full compensation under Alabama’s contributory negligence laws.


If you ever find yourself in a serious wreck, call us for help with your case. Call the personal injury lawyers at Martinson & Beason, P.C. today at 256-533-1667 or fill out our online contact form.

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