Insurance Companies have the Upper Hand

Mar 25

It is a little known fact that when someone wins in a personal injury lawsuit, it is not usually the defendant that pays the damages, but its insurance carriers. This is especially true when it comes to suing big companies or healthcare providers, but it can also be true for homeowners and regular business folk. Click here for a full list of the types of personal injury cases.

Under normal circumstances, like say a car accident, the insurance company investigates the claim and if everything is in order pays for the damages or injuries to the extent of the coverage. However, when it comes to big money such as a dangerous drug lawsuit, defective tire case, or a hazardous substance claim, then insurance companies will want to minimize their exposure. The most common (and effective) way to do this is to deny and defend.

Insurance companies are successful because they take in much more money than they pay out. As such, it is their prime directive to deny as many claims as they can past a certain monetary level. Claimants can appeal the case, but it can take a lot of time and effort, and many simply give up.

In cases where the plaintiff is persistent, or hires a lawyer to pursue the case, the insurance company exerts its own legal muscles. Most large insurance companies have in-house lawyers that are expert in making it very difficult for a plaintiff to prove liability. Unless the plaintiff’s lawyer is experienced in personal injury cases in the state, it can be very difficult for the plaintiff to win a case.

If you sustained serious injury because of the negligence of others, you may be eligible to claim compensation for your losses. However, you could be facing an uphill climb if your claim is challenged by the insurance company. Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you against insurance company lawyers.

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Reasons for Selling Mineral Rights

Feb 22

There are many reasons why you should consider selling mineral rights that you own. However, first you have to know that you own these rights, and many people only find out when a landman comes a-knocking offering to buy them. Mineral rights can be passed on from generation to generation with no one being the wiser, and that is a wasted opportunity to make money. If you do know or find out that you own mineral rights on some property, then you should consider selling them for the right price.

If you don’t need cash, it may be better to hold on to your mineral rights, especially if there is some question as to what the right price should be. If that is the case, leasing the rights may be the better option. However, if you can put the money to good use, and your property is in a known “hot zone” for valuable minerals such as Eagle Ford Shale or Haynesville Shale, selling is the way to go.

You can buy something else

With the money you get from selling your mineral rights, you can actually buy more property that will appreciate in value. You can also put aside the money for a college fund or retirement. You can invest in many things by using the money you get from selling.

It may be the right time

If your property is holding oil or natural gas, you should consider selling while the going is good. The market value for such mineral rights can be volatile, so the $100 you can get today may be $20 tomorrow. Selling also reduces the risk that your mineral rights might become worthless when your neighbor turns out to be a dry hole. Of course, the opposite may happen which means your mineral rights value may rocket! However, it is better to make sure and have one bird in hand.

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Electronic Stability Control System – Giving Vehicles Greater Stability

Jan 29

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports close to 10,000 deaths and more than 24,000 cases of serious injuries (every year) due to rollover accidents. Rollover accidents register the second highest number of deaths and grave injuries; the first is by head-on collisions.

A rollover accident can involve any type of vehicle, but most especially: vehicles that have tires that are worn out as these easily lose traction; those that have a greater tendency to oversteer, or turn farther than it was meant, or understeer, that is, turn lesser that intended; and, SUVs due to their design of having a higher center of gravity from the ground.

To lower occurrences of rollover accidents some car manufacturers now design their vehicles with a modern safety device, called the Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This safety device consists of sensors that are able to detect loss of vehicle control; upon detection, the device automatically applies brakes on the appropriate wheel to enable the driver to regain vehicle control and put it back on track. Besides this, ESC also: gives the vehicle greater stability, especially during abrupt turns; reduces risks of oversteering and understeering; improves traction on icy and slippery pavements; and, increases vehicle control on gravel patches and road shoulders.

Aside from SUVs, pick-ups and vans also have a center of gravity that is farther from the ground, thus, making these more prone to rollover. The risk of rolling over, however, becomes much higher in fully occupied 15-passenger vans because as more passengers get inside it the higher its center of gravity becomes. Placing heavy cargo inside or on its roof further raises its center of gravity, which increases all the more its risk of tipping over easily on sharp, emergency turns. This is due to the fact that the combined weight of passengers and cargo greatly reduces the vehicle’s stability, resulting to its increased tendency to oversteer.

To make sure that a van remains stable, the NHTSA issues these safety precautions: ask passengers (if there are only a few) to occupy the front seats, which are frontward the vehicle’s rear axle; and, avoid loading heavy cargo on the roof or inside the vehicle, else, make sure that the weight of the cargo does not go above the vehicle’s maximum safe load or that the cargo’s weight is equally distributed inside the van.

Rollover accidents have already injured or taken the lives of many individuals in the past, dramatically changing victims’ and their family’s lives. Though no amount of monetary compensation will undo any harm already done, it can provide victims the financial help to meet the resulting effects of injuries or death. For the best legal action that will allow victims or their families to seek and receive the full amount of compensation allowed under the law, it is best that victims are represented by top caliber personal injury lawyers, who will be able to assist them pursue such legal act.

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Understanding Dog Bite Laws in Oklahoma

Jan 03

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.7 million people in the US are bitten by a dog, of which according to the website of Abel Law Firm about 20% will be serious enough to require medical attention and about 27,000 (2012) requiring reconstructive surgery. In 2013, 31 people died from dog bites.

In Oklahoma, the laws are very strict when it comes to dog bites. The main statute dealing with the liability of dog owners is embodied in Oklahoma Code §1711 which states that the “owner of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death or loss to person or property that is caused by such dog.” This means that a victim of a dog attack (bite or not) can recover compensation from the dog’s owner or other third person unless the victim was committing a crime, trespassing, or taunting or abusing the dog at the time of the incident. Oklahoma imposes strict liability for dog bites i.e. the dog does not have to have a history of biting under four legal doctrines: negligence, negligence per se, and scienter.

Negligence refers to the failure of a person (dog owner or others) to exercise reasonable care when dealing with a dog, resulting in injury or damage to another person. A homeowner that allows a stray dog to get into the yard where young children are playing will be liable for injuries resulting from that action, even if the homeowner does not own the dog. Negligence per se, on the other hand, refers to negligence as a legal matter. A dog owner that fails to properly restrain a dog while in a public area can be held liable for injuries to another person, animal, or damage to property under the negligence per se doctrine.

This is distinct from the scienter doctrine, in which the cause of action is the propensity of a dog i.e. sharp teeth or any domestic animal to do harm and not the action or lack of action of the owner/keeper. The owner or keeper can be held strictly liable for causing harm to a third party if scienter is proven.

Dog bites can be serious, and the victims can suffer huge losses. In Oklahoma, you can get compensation from the party responsible for your dog bite or animal attack injuries. Consult with a personal injury lawyer in Oklahoma to discuss your case and options for pursuing compensation.

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Possession of Marijuana Charges

Aug 10

Oregon is pretty laid back when it comes to a little cannabis here and there for personal use. While it is against the law to possess any amount of marijuana while in Portland, having less than an ounce is a violation that may result in a hefty fine but it is not considered a crime.

With marijuana “pot” shops opening across the water on the side of Washington state where possessing a limited amount of marijuana for personal use is legal, there are understandable concerns that people driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII-Drugs) or “drugged driving” may drift over to Portland. The Portland Police Bureau, however, has no plans to step up patrols for this purpose until such time as having legal marijuana so close at hand becomes a real problem.

While it may have a somewhat tolerant attitude toward a little recreational use of marijuana and medical marijuana is already legal in the state, DUII is something the Portland police take very seriously. You can be arrested if you are suspected of being high behind the wheel and probable cause can be established for a blood test.

Unlike alcohol-related DUI where there is a legal limit, any amount of marijuana or any other drug found in the system is automatically a DUI and a crime. Even a first offense carries up to one year in jail, a fine, community service, or any combination of the three. If the DUI-Drugs results in serious bodily harm or death to a third party, it is immediately escalated to a felony charge.

If you are in a city where marijuana possession is still illegal and think you can get away with a slap on the wrist for possession of marijuana charges, you could be making a dangerous assumption. Consult with an experienced marijuana possession lawyer, just to be on the safe side. Dealing with the consequences of a marijuana possession conviction because you didn’t take the charge seriously enough is something that you’ll regret instantly.

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Domestic Employees and Overtime Disputes

Aug 07

It is very easy to overlook the fact that your live-out nanny who comes in 5 days a week before you go to work and leaves when you get home is a non-exempt employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This means that live-out domestic workers are entitled to overtime pay at 1.5 times the regular rate. This can lead to overtime disputes that can get pretty ugly pretty fast unless you cover your legal bases pretty thoroughly.

All domestic workers are non-exempt employees under the FLSA, and in New York, even live-in domestic employees are entitled to time-and-a-half in overtime when they work beyond 40 hours a week. In essence, you can have your domestic staff working extended hours; just be ready to fork out the cash. If you don’t, you could be dealing with a New York City overtime lawyer in a, well, New York minute.

The rule of thumb to avoiding overtime disputes with domestic employees is to have a clear and FLSA compliant work agreement. Employers typically quote a weekly salary without specifying how many work hours it encompasses and what the hourly rate will be. In the absence of specifics, it is presumed that the weekly salary is for a 40-hour workweek, and any hours worked over and above that will be paid in addition to the weekly salary.

The work agreement should include:

  • An hourly rate
  • Work hours
  • Weekly rate

If you include all these details, the weekly rate will include all hours worked within that week, including overtime. For example, if a live-out nanny is paid $650 for a 5-day workweek at 10 hours a day (50 hours a week) this works out to an hourly rate of $11.82. At the regular rate x 40 hours + [(regular rate * 1.5) x 10 hours)], it comes out to $650.53 a week.

If you are a domestic employee in New York with no work agreement and regularly work over 40 hours a week without being paid overtime, you have a possible case for an overtime dispute. You can use this website to record your hours of work which your New York overtime lawyer can use as evidence.

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Discharging Student Loans in Bankruptcy

Aug 05

According to student loan expert Heather Jarvis, 7 out of 10 college graduates in 2012 will have an average student loan debt of $29,400. That’s about 37 million student loan borrowers for a total of $1 trillion in outstanding debt to federal, state, and private lenders. Typically, student loan should be repaid with interest within 10 years after graduation which can significantly impact on a person’s income, more so when it gets to the point when filing for bankruptcy is the best option for managing debt.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate most unsecured debts and provide relief through more favorable debt payment options under Chapter 13. Student loans, however, need to be repaid within the prescribed period, except in one circumstance: undue hardship. You can have your student loan debts discharged through bankruptcy court if you can prove that repaying them will impose undue hardship on you.

There are various tests used by courts to determine if student loan debt repayment actually constitutes undue hardship in a particular case. In Alabama, for instance, the courts make use of the Brunner test standard to make this determination. Birmingham bankruptcy lawyers would help you determine if you qualify under the following factors:

  • Poverty
  • Persistence
  • Good faith

In most cases, in order to discharge your student loan debts when filing for bankruptcy, you will need to file a Complaint to Determine Dischargeability. You will then produce evidence that repaying your student loan debts poses undue hardship for you. This is incredibly difficult to do and most people do not succeed. Student loan debts are categorically challenging to receive assistance for.

If you fail to prove your case, you will need to find a way to manage your student loan debts on your own. There are several options open to you, including income-based repayment, the pay-as-you-earn program, public service loan forgiveness (for certain public service jobs), and federal loan consolidation. A bankruptcy lawyer will be able to give you advice on what may work best for you.

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