Why you should speak to an attorney in your personal injury case

We’ve all heard those silly jokes about attorneys. Lots of people like to say a lot of things about why you should or shouldn’t hire an attorney. But if you have been injured and suspect that you may have a personal injury case on your hands, it is important to at least speak with one. To break it down, here are four reasons why:

  1. The Law is Complicated

There is a reason why attorneys go to law school, and there is a reason why they are required to pass the bar. The law is complex, and the specifics vary on a state by state and city by city basis. Effectively pursuing a personal injury lawsuit involves hours of tedious paperwork and difficult negotiations. Even simply determining how viable a personal injury claim is can take hours of legal research and resources that only an attorney would have at their disposal.

  1. Navigating the legal system alone is dangerous

The law isn’t just complicated. There can be serious repercussions from acting on a case without knowing your rights to the fullest extent. Missteps in the law can have lasting effects and can result in expensive losses and fines. If the opposing party is represented by a skilled attorney, you may find yourself out maneuvered on every turn.

  1. You need to heal

After an injury, severe enough to constitute a personal injury lawsuit, the stress of successfully filing and arguing a case can only be detrimental to the healing process. Make no mistake, fighting your way through the legal system is stressful and defeating. After an accident, you should be focused on resting and recovering.

  1. Most Personal Injury Attorneys Won’t Get Paid Until you do

Most personal injury attorneys will perform their services on a contingent fee basis. This means that they receive a fixed percentage of any settlement they negotiate for you. This arrangement helps you rest assured that you will receive the best representation possible and the highest settlement that can be reached. It also means that you have nothing to lose by contacting an attorney who is highly recommended to represent you.

All of this means one simple thing. If you have been hurt in an accident, contact a skilled lawyer, like a personal injury attorney Atlanta GA trusts,  in your area and see what next steps are appropriate for you. The risks of trying to represent yourself are simply to high.

Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into personal injury accident cases.

What Is a statute of limitations?

A statute of limitations is the amount of time that a person has to file a lawsuit. This time restriction is a limit that the court imposes based on where the person lives who initiates the lawsuit. If the statute of limitations expires, the person can never bring a lawsuit against the other party regardless of the severity of their damages.

Civil and Criminal Cases

Civil as well as criminal cases may have a statute of limitations, depending on the crime or complaint. The statute of limitations that applies in a particular situation also depends on the laws of that state. For example, if a case is a medical malpractice case and the statute of limitations is two years in that state, the plaintiff has two years to start the lawsuit process or it’s barred forever. Statutes of limitations can vary by state but the only one that matters is the jurisdiction where the person brings the case.

Do all cases have the same statute of limitations?

Some types of cases have a short statute of limitations and others have no statute of limitations at all. In family law cases, a person may have as little as a few months to claim that the other parent violated a custody agreement. In many personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is a few years.

Criminal cases usually have longer time limitations than civil cases. Even for a misdemeanor case, the statute of limitations is usually several years. For very serious offenses such as homicide, most states don’t have any time limitation.

Why have a statute of limitations?

The passage of time may make it difficult to preserve a defense or mount a counterclaim. As the years pass, witnesses may become unavailable as they move away or die. Paperwork and critical information gets lost. Lawmakers say that after a certain period of time, it isn’t fair to make a person defend something that happened a long time ago. They say that when a person has a valid case, they should bring it promptly.

Discovery Rule

In some cases, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until a person knows or should know that they have a claim. If a person obviously knows that they have a case as soon as an event occurs, the statute of limitations begins the same day. An example of this is a person who suffers obvious injuries in a car crash. However, if it’s not something that the person discovers until later, their period to file a claim might not start until the discovery. Workplace illnesses or diseases may not present symptoms until years after the initial exposure. Mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, is a good example of this.

A Person Can File the Case on the Very Last Day

Once a person files their case in court before the deadline, they’ve met the requirements of the statute of limitations. That is, the other side can’t stall the case once it’s been filed in order to claim that too much time has passed. Rather, filing the case before the deadline makes it valid even if the case takes years to litigate. There are exceptions to this, and a good personal injury lawyer Phoenix AZ counts on can provide you with additional information specific to your case.

What are the options if the statute of limitations has passed?

If there’s any question about whether or not the statute of limitations has passed, the defendant can bring a motion to the court to address the issue. This is usually called a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary disposition. Then, it’s up to the judge to decide if the statute of limitations deadline has passed for the case. If it has, the case ends and it’s dismissed permanently.

Alex & Saavedra, P.C.Thanks to our friends and contributors from Alex & Saavedra, P.C. for their insight into personal injury practice.

Can Airbags Injure You in a Car Accident?

There has been an alarming increase in the number of auto accidents resulting in airbag injuries during the past decade. Sometimes the protection devices deploy without impact and are essentially the actual cause of the accident. The number of vehicle models that have been recalled due to this problem has also increased drastically in the past year after the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration began investigating the specific accidents. At issue are various Takata airbags that are now known to have been installed in a very wide variety of vehicle models for practically every car manufacturer.

This is not to mention the injuries that occur when airbags do release properly after being impacted by a vehicle. Airbags effectively explode when they engage, releasing fast and with considerable force. When the passenger is turned in a vulnerable position, the final result can be injuries to the face, arms, and neck area, potentially causing central nervous system problems that can prove catastrophic in some instances. However, pinpointing that an injury was caused by an airbag can be a difficult task without an experienced car accident lawyer Fort Collins, CO trusts investigating the entire material case evidence record.

External Injuries

Common external injuries resulting from an exploding airbag are usually to the upper torso, with many of those injuries being lacerations to the arms and facial area. While external injuries to the arms are often considered superficial, lacerations to the face can result in permanent scarring and potential surgical repair. In some instances, the parts of the body the airbag is designed to protect are actually the body parts that are injured.

The chance for upper body and facial injuries is more likely for drivers, while passengers tend to experience injuries to lower extremities as well because of airbag installation design. It is important to remember that the airbag is designed to protect the passengers, but an impacted automobile can also experienced damage that could also cause injuries when debris is dislodged inside the vehicle.

Internal Injuries

While external injuries are obvious, the same cannot be said of internal injuries that assuredly can happen from an airbag during a collision. The problem with internal injuries is that they are not always immediately recognized unless there is significant pain. Injuries such as a twisted back or whiplash around the neck around can easily manifest later. Even if an accident victim has no apparent external injuries, it is still best for the accident victim to seek treatment at an emergency facility. Internal organ damage is common, as well as separated shoulders or broken limbs, and internal problems can be very dangerous. Internal bleeding situations can worsen quickly, even resulting in a fatality, and time is of the essence even though the symptoms may appear minimal.

An experienced car accident lawyer would advise those with airbag injuries of any type to seek medical attention immediately following a crash. Timing is very important documentation when damages are being recovered in an auto accident case, especially when the injury is not apparent. Attorneys must connect the injury to the accident and use the case evidence regarding the deployment of the airbag configuration to establish cause and effect for the injured victim. Lapses in time can provide the respondent insurance provider an opening for an case issue that can be used to deny or lessen the value of an injury claim.

Cannon Hadfield Stienben, LLCThanks to our friends and contributors from Cannon Hadfield Stienben, LLC for their insight into car accident cases.

The World’s Largest Airbag Recall — Are You Affected?

Takata, one of the world’s largest airbag suppliers, is settling for $1 billion after pleading guilty to distributing defective and fatal airbags.  Even with a minor fender-bender, these airbags can explode and fire bits of shrapnel into the cabin.  These airbags have been the cause of at least 17 known deaths worldwide.  These airbags are incredibly dangerous, and what’s worse, is that millions of cars have had their airbags recalled, but many people don’t know!

Please look through this list to see if your model has been affected, or look up your VIN to see the specific recalls here: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/

 

 

 

Estate Planning – Protecting Your Assets

One of the issues that is often overlooked in the estate planning process is the protection of assets from third parties.  Most of the effort in estate planning is around making sure that the right heir gets the right asset at the right time.  What many of us do is forget to make sure that those assets are protected so that they are actually there when the time comes to pass them to the heirs. Let’s take a look at some of the basics around how to protect assets so that we actually have those assets to pass on.

How can Your Assets be Vulnerable?

One of the biggest ways that your assets could be vulnerable to a third party is through some sort of personal injury claim, as an estate planning attorney Leawood, KS trusts can explain.  These arise in two major circumstances for most employed persons:  First, someone comes onto your property and gets injured.  Let’s assume that you have a great Independence Day celebration planned.  Everyone is over and having a great time when someone falls off your deck and breaks their leg. Unfortunately, there are complications and the medical claims now exceed the limits from your homeowners’ policy.  Second, you are in a car accident where the other party is substantially injured.  Again, their injuries substantially exceed your automotive liability limits. They then look to you to make them whole for their injuries. This could include a lawsuit and them trying to attach any property that they can get their hands on.  

Trusts – Protective Clauses

One of the most common techniques to protect assets is a trust.  People have been using them for a long time to protect the assets of the grantor.  Of course, one of the biggest keys to having a trust that fully protects the assets is to have a trust that is irrevocable.  An irrevocable trust is one that cannot be changed by the Grantor after the trust is created.  What the Grantor does is to create the trust and then give (or sell) the assets into the trust.  Accordingly, the assets no longer belong to you (they belong to the trust) and would, therefore, not be available to satisfy any claim against you. You need to be sure that you do not keep any substantive control over the trust.

Trusts are also great vehicles to keep assets away from potential creditors of the beneficiaries of that same trust. If a beneficiary does not have access to the assets within the trust, and the language is property drafted, then the potential creditors cannot reach the assets that are within the trust.  These clauses, commonly called anti-alienation provisions, keep creditors away from the assets. So, trusts are typically drafted to have several protective measures so that the beneficiary does not have access, which will severely limit (if not eliminate) any creditor from going after those assets within the trust.  Some of the more common types of trusts that exist for asset protection purposes are support trusts, spendthrift trusts, blend trusts, and discretionary trusts.

Please note that there are claims that are able to pierce even the most bulletproof of trusts.  Those claims include such things as claims by a child for support payments, some federal or state claims, etc.

Conclusion

Estate planning is about more than setting up the basic documents. One thing to think about is protecting assets from creditors, or potential creditors. These creditors can include such things as claimants from a car accident or other personal injury claim.  There are certain trusts that can protect those assets from most of those claims.

This article was brought to you by The Eastman Law Firm.

Preexisting Conditions and Personal Injury Claims

An Overview on Pre-Existing Conditions and Personal Injury Claims

At any time on any given day, an accident can happen that could very well aggravate any pre-existing medical condition you may have. And when this happens, do you bring a personal injury lawsuit against whomever you believe is responsible? And, if so, what are your chances of a successful suit? Do you have a case at all if an accident aggravates your pre-existing medical condition?

Pre-existing Medical Conditions and Personal Injury Lawsuits

If a car accident or slip and fall incident aggravates a preexisting condition, you may be eligible to file a claim against the negligent party. However, keep in mind that your case can be complex when you’re going up against an insurance company. It’s best if you understand the personal injury claim process. It may also help to work with a personal injury attorney in order to improve your chances of a successful outcome.

Do You Have a Personal Injury Claim?

When you’re involved in an accident or some type of personal injury incident, you may experience injuries that can cause your pre-existing condition to flare up. You may also have a condition that has healed, but is re-injured due to a new accident. For both of these particular incidents, you may have the ability to file a personal injury claim. You certainly can’t receive compensation for injuries that existed before your accident, but you can receive compensation for injuries that have caused your other conditions to worsen.

What Happens After You File a Claim?

After you file for a personal injury claim following an accident, expect that the insurance company will fight your claim for compensation. You may be best served by consulting a lawyer like a personal injury lawyer Phoenix AZ trusts who will need to gain a comprehensive understanding of your pre-existing condition. Very likely you will need to provide him or her with a complete medical record that outlines your pre-existing conditions.

The insurance company may very likely refuse to pay you any compensation. Instead they may fight the claim saying that the accident did not have any impact on your pre-existing condition. They may also claim that your new injuries were caused by the pre-existing condition and not the incident itself.

How You Can Be Successful

There are a few things you can do to ensure a solid claim:

  1. Retain an experienced personal injury lawyer. They will know every tactic that the insurance company may use to fight your claim, so it’s best to anticipate their moves with the help of a personal injury attorney.
  2. Avoid signing any authorizations for the insurance company to access your medical records. The insurance company may ask for unrestricted access to your records. This may seem like a good idea in order for you to prove that you had the pre-existing condition, but the insurance company can also use that information to discredit your injury claim. Your attorney can guide your actions while protecting your best interests.
  3. Disclose your medical issues to your lawyer. It’s very important that you disclose all of your past and current medical issues to your lawyer. He or she may wish to enlist the expertise of a medical professional who can testify to your injuries and overall medical condition.

If you have concerns or questions about a personal injury claim, consider meeting with an attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation for your first visit.

Alex & Saavedra, P.C. Thanks to our friends and contributors from Alex & Saavedra, P.C. for their insight into personal injury practice.

Hitting a pedestrian

Pedestrian accidents happen every day. In highly dense areas, all it takes is a moment of distraction to accidentally cause serious injury and damage. If you have struck a pedestrian on the road, you may find yourself in shock and at a loss for what to do. It is a scary situation. You don’t know if the pedestrian is okay, and of course you didn’t mean to hurt anyone.

You must remember to stay calm. Though pedestrian accidents are stressful situations, panicking has never helped anyone through anything. Once you have collected your breath, follow these steps to make sure you do the best possible to stay within the law.

1.     Do not drive away

Even though you are scared, even though it was an accident, you need to pull over and make sure that the pedestrian you hit is okay. If you leave the scene of the accident, you put yourself in serious legal jeopardy. This is a crime known as hit and run and can cost you your license in the best of cases, and jail time in the worst. If pedestrian you struck dies due to their injuries after you flee, you can even be facing some very serious time in jail.

So even though it may go against your instincts, stop the car and go check on the pedestrian.

2.     Contact an ambulance

Pedestrian accidents carry with them some intense and debilitating injuries. These accidents frequently lead to concussions, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and death in the most extreme cases. If you see the pedestrian is injured, render any aid you are capable of to them. As soon as you can, you need to dial 911 and have them send an ambulance. Even if the pedestrian says they are fine, many injuries will not show obvious signs immediately after the accident.

3.     Contact a pedestrian accident attorney

In the aftermath of the accident, you will almost certainly have very difficult legal proceedings to navigate. As soon as possible, you need to contact an experienced pedestrian accident or personal injury lawyer Atlanta GA trusts. Your attorney will help make sure you understand your rights and that you are treated fairly. Be honest and open with your attorney, and they will be able to determine what the proper next steps are for you based off the laws and regulations of your state or city. Pedestrian accidents can carry significant legal punishments, so it is crucial you have the best representation.

Andrew R. Lynch, P.C.Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into pedestrian accident cases.

Can I use a personal injury award to create a trust?

Being a victim of an accident makes a person aware that life sometimes throws hard curveballs, rather than softballs.  Once securing compensation, a person’s mind logically turns to preserving the money.  Clients who have received personal injury awards which are also concerned with asset protection will often ask, “Can I use a personal injury award to create a trust?”
Types of Trusts for Holding Personal Injury Awards
There are many different types of trusts, as a skilled estate planning lawyer can explain. Each is designed to address a particular concern. The right trust for you will depend on what issues you wish to address.

Revocable Trusts, To hold Personal Injury Awards.
A Revocable Trust is perfect if your concern is needing assistance with your money, but you are not concerned about creditors or lawsuits.  For example, if you wanted your child to help you manage your investments and help pay bills, but don’t want to subject your assets to your child’s creditors or potential divorce issues, a Revocable Trust is a perfect document.  In short, the Revocable Trust owns your accounts for your benefit, and the Trustees are free to act for your benefit. You can change the Revocable Trust at any time, and it replaces your Will at your death.

Irrevocable Trusts for Others, Giving Your Personal Injury Award Away.
An Irrevocable Trust for other people is the safest way to protect your award, but it also means that you are giving away direct access and control.  For example, you could form an Irrevocable Trust for your spouse or your children and transfer a portion of your award into the trust.  If properly drafted any future creditor you may acquire will have no claim to those transferred assets.  While your spouse and children can share these assets with you in the future, you cannot require them to return the money.  While this is a very safe option, you may find losing control and ownership difficult.

Self-Settled Irrevocable Trusts, Your Personal Injury Award Held for You.
While an Irrevocable Trust for other people is settled law in all states, only a few allow Self-Settled Trusts.  A Self-Settled Irrevocable Trust is an Irrevocable Trust that you form for your benefit.  You place some or all of your Personal Injury Award into the trust, and the Trustee holds it for your benefit. You are both the “settlor” and the beneficiary.  Understandably, if these trusts were easy to form and cheap to manage, everyone would put their money into one avoiding all creditors.  Some states, such as Delaware and Alaska have statutes explicitly creating these trusts.  To use those laws you have to hire an Alaska or Delaware Trust company.
The costs involved in setting up and maintaining a Self-Settled Trust require a substantial amount of money.  I would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of a Self-Settled Trust.
Can I Use a Personal Injury Award to Create a Trust?
Yes!  Depending on your needs and requirements, a trust can be set up to help.
In conclusion, a trust can be crafted to address your needs and concerns.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Klenk Law for their insight into trusts and estate planning practice.

What’s the Difference Between Payable on Death and Transfer on Death?

When it comes to personal assets there are different types of ownership. After a person passes away, how those assets are distributed to their heirs depends entirely on the form of ownership. Unless certain arrangements are made beforehand, most assets will have to pass through the probate process before they can be distributed to the heirs. Probate can be a costly and lengthy process which can in large part, if not entirely, be avoided. This is often handled with payable-on-death (POD) and transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts.

  1. Payable on Death Accounts. A POD account is recognized by the court as a valid method to avoid going through probate. Most every type of bank account is allowed to be a POD account.
  2. The owner simply files the required forms with his bank to set up this account.
  3. The beneficiary simply receives the funds when you pass.
  4. This type of account can leave you in total control of your assets throughout your life.
  5. You can change your beneficiary at any time, and take as little or as much money from your account at any time. This means that for as long as you are alive, the person who you’ve designated as the beneficiary has absolutely no right to the assets in that particular account.

2. Transfer on Death Accounts. The rules are similar for a TOD account. You can bequeath stocks, brokerage accounts, or bonds without them having to pass through probate. This works like a POD account, where you register your ownership and then you designate a beneficiary.

  1. Once you’ve set up your ownership, your beneficiary has no rights to the assets as long as you are alive.
  2. After you have died, the beneficiary can claim their securities without going through probate by simply providing identification and proof of your death to the transfer agent. A transfer agent is a business authorized to complete the ownership transfer of the asset from one person to another.
  3. Your TOD beneficiary has no rights to the stock for as long as you are alive. You can give it away, sell it, name a different beneficiary or even close the account.

Sometimes people neglect to name a beneficiary, or they name someone who passes away before them and they hadn’t named a secondary beneficiary. In that scenario, those accounts are treated as if they did not have a beneficiary at all. When an account does not have a beneficiary, it will have to pass through probate.

For more information about POD or TOD accounts, reach out to an experienced estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ can count on.

Hildebrand LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into estate planning practice.

Negligent Slip and Fall Case at Your Apartment: Is this Grounds to Terminate a Lease?

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, often including apartment buildings or the units themselves. In such instances, it’s important for landlords to understand the potential fallout. First off, negligence is almost always necessary for there to be any liability in a slip and fall case, but how do you determine if a landlord is negligent? For those who don’t already know, negligence is often defined as failing to take a reasonable amount of care. In the landlord and tenant context, this often means failing to fix a condition that the landlord knew or reasonably should have known was unsafe (i.e. – a broken stair, missing handrail, etc).

When the slip and fall is the result of a dangerous or defective condition in the apartment, negligence often comes to down to whether the landlord knew or should have known about it. Let’s use a slip and fall that occurs because of a leaky pipe as a hypothetical.

Obviously, if the tenant provided notice to the landlord of the leaky pipe, this is not an issue since the landlord knew about the problem and should have had it fixed before it caused an accident. Otherwise, you would have to show that a reasonable landlord would have known that the pipe was leaking in order to prove negligence. If the leak was inside an apartment unit, it’s very unlikely a reasonable landlord would know about it without a tenant telling him/her (unless the building’s plumbing was so old that a reasonable landlord would assume that leaks were occurring).

Assuming for the purposes of this blog that the landlord was negligent, and that his/her negligence caused a slip and fall injury in your apartment, can you break your lease?

First of all, anytime you wish to break your lease, the first step is always to check the lease itself. Many residential leases contain terms that govern what happens when injuries or crimes occur in the unit or apartment building. If you’re not sure, consult with a locallandlord tenant attorney Chicago trusts for a thorough review of your lease.

Absent a lease provision that allows you to break your lease, however, chances are still fairly good that whatever defective apartment/building condition led to the slip and fall could also get you out of it. That’s because such defective conditions could also be considered a violation of the implied warranty of habitability, which requires all landlords to provide apartments that are suitable for human habitation. A leaky pipe that led to a slip and fall injury not only presents a danger to tenants, but also could lead to toxic mold, water damage that compromises the integrity of the ceiling, and more – all of which touch on whether the apartment unit is habitable or not.

Much like with any apartment lease issue you’re having, it’s best to consult with a local landlord and tenant attorney for advice tailored to your individual circumstances. Attempting to break your lease on your own could result in an eviction case, and landlords are well-advised to take care of any defective conditions in their apartment units before they become even bigger problems.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from William Mazur Law for their insight into negligent slip and fall cases on a rental property.