Premises Liability and Porch Collapse

»Posted by on Apr 23, 2017 in Premises Liability | 0 comments

Property owners should make sure that their properties are safe. In fact, they are legally obligated to do so. This is a legal concept called premises liability, and failure to comply to it may result into lawsuits, especially if there are accidents and injuries.

The website of Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky says that those who have been injured on such instances may take legal action, such as trying to get compensation from the property owners.

One of the most overlooked premises liability cases is porch collapse. This occurs when a porch gives in, often resulting into injuries such as brain trauma, skull damage, facial disfigurement, broken bones, particularly in the arms and legs, and spinal cord injuries, that may even be severe enough to cause paralyses.

Porches collapse because of many reasons, but these reasons share the same idea – somebody has been negligent, and it’s most likely the property owner. Below are some of the most common reasons.

  • Overloading – Porches are designed to withstand a specific maximum weight, and going over that limit may result into a collapse. Porch collapse because of overloading generally occurs because of two things – the property owner deliberately goes over the weight limit or he or she is not aware of the weight limit. Either way, he or she has become negligent.
  • Poor maintenance – Just like everything else, porches are supposed to be maintained so they are in top condition. This is important because if the porch is not in top condition, it may be prone to defects and wear and tear, particularly on the parts that are vital for their support.
  • Poor support – Speaking of support, it is known as a cause of porch collapse as well. No matter how well-maintained your porch is, if its beams, ledger boards, and joint hangers are not properly installed or not strong enough, it may be prone to collapsing, especially if it holds significant weight.
  • Poor foundation – Buildings are complicated things, and that is why you should hire professionals on constructing them. Even foundations can affect porches. Good building foundations may complement the porch’s maximum weight, and bad building foundations present its own problems.
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Uninsured / Underinsured Motorists

»Posted by on Feb 16, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In the event of a car accident, the at-fault driver’s car liability insurance provider would be the injured driver’s first source of compensation for all the damages that would resulting from the injury – this is if he/she lives in a tort state. In he/she lives in a no-fault states, however, a then his/her own insurance provider will pays for his/her medical treatment and lost wages no matter whose fault the accident is.

Carrying auto liability insurance or a state-approved bond, which will show a driver’s financial capability in compensating anyone who he/she may injure in an accident, is a requirement in all U.S. states in the US. This requirement is meant to make sure that people who are injured by reckless, negligent and irresponsible drivers will receive compensation.

Car liability insurance provides those who get involved in road accidents with the much needed financial safety net; this is why all US states, with the exception of New Hampshire, declare it mandatory for all drivers.

Under a tort-liability policy, physical injuries and damage to property (like vehicle, fence or house) are covered by the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability policy and property damage liability policy, respectively. A no-fault policy, however, while covering a policy holder’s own medical treatment and lost wages, does not pay for damage to property. For this coverage, the policy holder will need to purchase a separate property damage liability insurance, which will cover any property that he/she may damage in an accident.

There are currently 9 states which require the no-fault system: Utah, North Dakota, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, Hawaii and Florida. The states of Kentucky, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are known as the “choice states” as these allow their drivers to choose between the tort and no-fault car liability insurance policies; all other states require the tort-liability policy.

Despite the car liability insurance being a mandate, the Insurance Research Council says that 1 in every 8 drivers in the US is uninsured. Thus, for a driver’s assured protection (if ever he/she figures in an accident wherein the driver at fault is either uninsured or underinsured) as many as 20 states and D.C, require drivers to also carry the Uninsured Motorist (UM) / Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. These 20 states are Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Each state determines the minimum amount of UM and UIM coverage that drivers should carry. In states where UM and UIM coverage are not required, drivers are free to purchase these from their insurance providers.

Uninsured motorist coverage refers to the (total) absence of coverage on a vehicle; it is designed to cover all economic losses and damages due to accidents involving an uninsured driver, a stolen vehicle and, in some states, an unidentified hit & run. Underinsured motorist coverage, on the other hand, is intended to cover the amount in excess of the policy limit of the underinsured motorist.

In no-fault states, colliding with a driver, who is uninsured or underinsured, may not really present a big problem since claims are filed by each driver with their own insurance provider. Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage, however, will provide the innocent victim the extra financial protection which he/she may still require to fully recover from the accident.

According to Toronto car accident lawyers, “Cars and vehicles are a valuable asset for independent individuals. They enable people to travel, earn wages, engage in social activities, and have the freedom of going wherever they please. However, car accidents happen far too frequently, resulting in expensive car repairs, lost wages, and even death or serious injury. When a car accident is the fault of one specific party, it is greatly unfair to expect the innocent party to waste their time and resources dealing with the situation, especially in the event of a wrongful death.”

However, dealing with car insurance providers can be extra challenging as many insurance firms find ways to deny or delay insurance claims. Making a claim is a legal process; having an experienced car accident lawyer to deal legally with

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A Guide On What To Do After A Hit and Run Accident

»Posted by on Oct 2, 2016 in Car Accidents | 0 comments

Getting involved in a hit and run accident is a serious crime that can have serious consequences. These types of accidents happen when a driver who collides with another driver disappears from the crime scene. According to the website of  Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, victims of hit and run accidents may be left to face the initial damages alone. This article will guide you on the steps you need to undertake during a hit and run accident.

The initial reaction you will feel after a hit and run accident is disgust and stress. However, it will greatly help if you will stay calm. BY doing so, you will be able to think properly and make the right decision when it comes to hit and run accidents. The first thing you need to do is to call 911 if there are people who got injured. When medical attention has been given, the next thing to do is get as much information as you can. Get the model, make, and license plate number of the other car.

If there are possible witnesses, you may want to get their names and contact information as well. They can come in handy in case you go into court. If the hit and run accident happened when you were away from your parked car, take down as many details as possible. Call the police and file the necessary report. While the police may not be able to help you track down the driver who hit you, the police report can speed up the release of your car insurance claims and give you an important document that you could use in the future.

Hit and run accidents can cause serious injuries and even death so make sure not to let the liable person get away.

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The Many Benefits of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

»Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Bankruptcy | 0 comments

Among the worst effects of the Great Recession of 2008-09 were mass lay-offs, underemployment, prolonged unemployment and reduced pay. These resulted to financial crisis to millions of Americans and forced majority of those affected to live a more moderate or modest lifestyle.

Doing away with whatever little extravagance millions of individuals enjoyed was not all these people had to let go, however. Due to the mounting bills and debts that they are no longer able to pay, such as mortgage payments, car loans, personal loans, credit card loans, etc., thousands also faced (and actually) lost their home or car because of repossession, while thousands of others suffered stress as they worried about their debts, and the hounding and humiliating tactics employed by collecting agencies to make them pay their debts.

There is a way, though, for debtors to pay and free themselves from debts and have a brand new start at their financial life: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 is just one of the many chapters in the Bankruptcy Code, a law that the U.S. Congress passed in 1978. Otherwise known as Liquidation Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, as explained in detail on the website of Ryan J. Ruehle Attorney at Law, LLC, “offers the near-total liquidation of all debts that an individual may hold, giving those who pursue this option the ability to start their financial life anew.”

The immediate benefit of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, once it is filed in court, is the cessation of all forms of harassing tactics used by collecting agencies (including phone calls, text messages, emails, letters, etc.). This benefit is called the “automatic stay,” “an automatic injunction that halts actions by creditors, with certain exceptions, to collect debts from a debtor who has declared bankruptcy. Under section 362 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, the stay begins at the moment the bankruptcy petition is filed.”

An automatic stay also protects debtors against creditors who may: try to obtain a debtor’s property through a court injunction; request the court to issue a wage garnishment and/or bank account levy order; or, begin or continue any judicial proceedings against the debtor.

Through Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, a court may totally free a person from all of his or her unsecured debts, which includes personal loans, credit card debts, medical bills, past due utility bills, repossession deficiency balances, business debts, personal loans (from friends, family, and employers), student loans (under certain circumstances), money owed under lease agreements (including past due rent), tax penalties and unpaid taxes (due dates of these should be more than 3 years), and collection agency accounts.

There are also debts which cannot be discharged. In fact, unless due to totally reasonable circumstances, these debts will have to be paid even after Chapter 7 bankruptcy has been declared. These debts include spousal and/or child support, taxes, debts owed to tax-advantaged retirement plans, and student loans (with some exceptions).

While Chapter 7 may truly be beneficial, a person will first have to pass a test in order to get protection from this bankruptcy chapter. The Means Test, which is an evaluation method based on an applicant’s personal income, will determine if a person is eligible to file for this chapter.

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Volkswagen Emissions Scandal Continues

»Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Cars | 0 comments

About five months after the manufacturers’ emission scandal erupted, the US Justice Department gave an announcement about suing Volkswagen for up to US$48 billion regarding violations of environmental laws. The lawsuits echoes the increasing number of allegations following the German manufacturers’ admittance of installing devices to trick emissions tests in a number of 2.0 liter models. Although civil lawsuits are generally settle in a much lower amount compared to the hypothetical maximum penalties, analysts claim that Volkswagen may be up to a larger expense than what was already expected.

The Volkswagen lawsuit alleged the manufacturer installed illegal devices in order to tweak emission control systems in approximately 600, 000 units in the United States. Despite Volkswagens’ shares recovering following the car manufacturer’s positive news of simple repairs, stocks are still suffering from the scandal and causing analysts to worry about its impact on the United States since Volkswagen has been struggling to make inroads; the tougher regulations may prove possible bigger fines.

The installation of illegal devices allowed Volkswagen to avoid expensive engine revamps in order to meet US standards. Aside from the 2.0 liter vehicles, the Us Volkswagen lawsuit also included a number or 3.0 liter models such as the Porsche Cayenne. Filed in behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the lawsuit alleges the German manufacturer of four counts of violation of the US Clean Air Act, altering emissions control system and failure to report the violations. Furthermore, investigation has been done regarding criminal fraud allegations on misleading consumers as well as regulators, although this criminal complaint may require heavier burden of proof.

Because of Volkswagens’ admittance of their actions, defending themselves in court can be very difficult. What the manufacturer can do now is to negotiate lower penalties. The civil lawsuit will not prohibit the Justice department from pursuing criminal charges against Volkswagen, but the company has already issued their statement affirming they will “…continue to work cooperatively with the EPA on developing remedies” as well as cooperating with other government agencies to investigate the issues.

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Qualifying for an EB-5 Visa

»Posted by on Sep 19, 2015 in Business | 0 comments

In order to qualify for an EB-5 visa, the investor should be able to provide a minimum of $1 million worth of investment in a US commercial business. However, for those who do not have enough funds, there are certain circumstances where the amount of investment can be reduced to $500, 000. Such exceptions are given when the business where the investment is going is going to be located to a rural area or even an urban area as long as the location has high unemployment rate.

According to the AmLaw Group website, the state government will be the one who will decide whether the unemployment rate is high enough to qualify, but generally it should be at least at 150 percent of the national average. Rural areas are places that are on the outer boundaries of any city that has at least 20, 000 human population or any location that is outside of the official statistical metropolitan area. The state government will be the one who will determine which parts of the state are in high need of employment and will provide the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) the list of places that could qualify for EB-5 immigrant investments. Any location that may seem to have a high unemployment rate but is not on the list of USCIS will not accept business investment lower than the required US$1 million.

There are designated regional centers that the USCIS that are aimed in promoting the economic growth of the investment through various ways, and investors in these regional centers are not required to prove that they directly contributed new jobs to 10 US workers. They are simply required to prove that the regional centers which their investment went to was able to create 10 full-time jobs either directly or indirectly, or that the business was able to increase the productivity in the region. Because of these reasons, many immigration lawyers see regional centers as one of the most enticing ways to acquire an EB-5 visa. The important part of the investment, however, is that it should be on a well-managed regional center to avoid losing the investment and have the visa application rejected.

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What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

»Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Bankruptcy | 0 comments

Life can be unpredictable, and there are certain situations when one find themselves in the throes of financial difficulties. Whether it’s sudden unemployment or a serious medical condition in the family, people can easily lose their capacity to manage debts and other similar financial obligations at the blink of an eye. As a result, the government offers solutions to help individuals facing issues with their finances. By filing bankruptcy, the U.S. federal courts can grant to have a person’s debt be discarded or impose a debt repayment plan that are both aimed to help them regain financial control and stability. One option specifically meant for individuals are delineated under Chapter 13 of the U.S Bankruptcy Code.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also referred to as a wage earner’s plan. When it is granted by the court to a debtor, Chapter 13 enables an individual receiving regular income to restructure their debt payments through a plan that will allow them to repay what they owe in regular installments over the course of three or five years. This new payment scheme is meant to allow for more leeway as an individual settles their debts through enabling them to make more affordable payments over a significant period of time. Unlike a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, those who petition for a wager earner’s plan will no longer have to see their assets or properties liquidated. It also allows sole proprietors to continue running their business and use the profits they earn to meet their regular payments according to schedule.

Anyone who petitions for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will also be granted by the court with an automatic stay, which is a court order that prohibits creditors from taking any sort of action with regards to the debtor’s remaining balance. This means that debtors will be protected from harassing phone calls, emails, and any other form of contact. An automatic stay will also prevent creditors from filing lawsuits, attempting to repossess or foreclose properties and assets, as well as taking any other legal action against the debtor. Other benefits of filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy includes the possibility of having the total loan amount reduced and the discharging of particular debts.

According to the website of Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., eligibility for this type of bankruptcy depends on several factors. The most important thing is to know whether one’s situation can be best helped by Chapter 13. For more information, contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in your area.

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What Can Personal Injury Cost You?

»Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

When people hear the phrase “personal injury”, the most common image that comes to mind is the medical expense that comes with being injured. After all, these are situations with usually obvious physical aftermaths. However, that is just the first ripple of effect – on and on, it reach can go and encompass more ground that you ever thought it could.

For example, take a car accident. There are the immediate ripples that come to light – in the form of medical expenses from the injuries as well as insurance in either repairing or replacing the damaged vehicles. However, then comes the matter of having to pay for those expenses and getting insurance companies, and the guilty party in the accident, to pay for compensation. Some car accidents can even lead to temporary or permanent disability, thereby hindering you from being able to work – rippling into the effect that causes you your lost wages.

Personal injury cases can get even more complicated than even that as according to the website of lawyers Crowe & Mulvey, sometimes the guilty party at fault is a large corporation with many resources – and often, individual people or parties find themselves intimidated by the prospect of having to go against such a large entity when there is already much suffering and stress over something that they did not ask for. People who take the route of not taking legal action against circumstances of personal injury (an umbrella term for many other similar situations e.g., medical malpractice, unsafe premises, etc.) are often uninformed or unadvised of the rights and privileged that are justly theirs to claim.

In truth, personal injury should cost you nothing due to the fact that it has already cost you so much. Time, heartache, and effort that was never your fault in the first place can only be compensated in the best way possible – and this is only achievable through the expert handling of a professional who knows his or her way around this field.

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Saving Family Farmers and Family Fishermen from the Debt Crisis

»Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Bankruptcy | 0 comments

If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, then hiring a good lawyer to first learn about anything you need to know regarding bankruptcy, its different chapters and these chapters’ specific advantages and disadvantages, will definitely be a very good start. Afterwards, you and your lawyer can proceed to evaluating your actual financial situation to see if you really need to file a bankruptcy case and, if yes, then which specific chapter will help you best.

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding where debtors (individuals or business firms) declare their inability to further pay their overwhelming debts, and creditors are either ordered to forgive debtors their debts or are paid by debtors through the liquidation of (debtor’s) certain assets and properties or through a restructuring of the payment scheme to monthly payments extending from three to five years.

Forgivable debts include only those which are dischargeable, such as personal loans, medical bills, and credit card bills. There are also the non- dischargeable debts, which include mortgage, court fines, student loans, and child support among others.

There are different chapters in the US Bankruptcy Code, each designed to address an individual’s or a firm’s financial situation. One of these is Chapter 12 bankruptcy, which is specifically designed for family farmers or family fishermen, to enable them to recover from unmanageable debts.

Family farmers or family fishermen, according to the Bankruptcy Code, may refer to an individual, an individual and his/her spouse, a partnership or a corporation. To be eligible, however, the debtor should, first and foremost, have a regular annual income (though the law makes an allowance for those with seasonal income. This is just to make sure that the debtor will have enough, regular earnings to pay the debt.

Other conditions required by chapter 12, include:

  • At least 50% of the farm or fishery is owned by the debtor
  • With regard to the amount of death, 50% should be due to farming (for family farmers) and 80% should be due to the commercial fishing business (for family fishermen)
  • Gross income that came from farming or fishing operation (for the previous tax year)must have been more than 50%
  • The total debt owed does not exceed $4,031,575 for farmers and $1,868,200 for fishermen (these amounts are based on the website of the United States Courts: Other sites differ in figures with the US Courts, as well as with each other)

Having a clear understanding of what bankruptcy really is about and how it can really help individuals and businesses regain stability in their financial future can be better understood through the website of Ryan Ruehle.

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The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Over-assessment of Self despite Incompetence

»Posted by on Dec 22, 2013 in Health | 0 comments

The famous philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

Psychologists call this the Dunning-Kruger effect, a centuries-old mental condition wherein unskilled individuals experience illusory superiority, failing to recognize the fact that they really are incompetent. The name was coined by Cornell University psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, who conducted a series of tests in 1999, which involved undergrad psychology students, in the areas of logic, humor, and grammar.

Many other tests were conducted between 2000 and 2012, some of which centered on sensitivity and skills, like playing tennis or chess, driving a vehicle, and reading comprehension. After results of the tests were given to the students, they were asked to assess themselves and, as expected, the results of the assessment were identical – poor performers always thought highly of themselves, as well as believed that they were better than anyone else.

The problem, however, is not only the fact that incompetent people fail to realize their own incompetence; high achievers believe that others are just as good as they are, failing to realize that they are actually more gifted and competent than others. Dunning and Kruger do not consider the latter case a serious issue, though, since they know that these people will understand and appreciate more their capabilities if told about their real abilities. While with regard to the poor performers, the two experts saw how they openly recognized and acknowledged their incompetence when trained further about certain skills.

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