The Law: My First True Love

Collecting A Wrongful Death Settlement: 3 Facts You Need To Know

Have you recently been awarded a settlement in a wrongful death case? If so, there are few facts that you should know about collecting on this settlement. Taking the time to review these facts outlined below can help you to avoid any unexpected surprises regarding your payment.

Your Lawyer Will Get Their Money First

Most wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency basis. If this is the case with your attorney, it is important to understand that your settlement check will be sent directly to the lawyer before you receive any funds. This check will be cashed so that the lawyer can collect their legal fees and any other fees that you owe. Once this amount has been deducted, the remainder of your settlement will be sent to you along with a detailed accounting statement showing the different fees that were assessed.

Structured Payments May Be Discharged As Part Of A Bankruptcy

If the court awarded you a structured settlement rather than a lump sum payment, you could find that your payments suddenly disappear sometime in the future. This is because current bankruptcy laws allow individuals and companies to discharge negligence payments as part of a bankruptcy action. If the individual or company that is responsible for paying your settlement is not currently on solid financial ground, you may wish to consider selling your structured payments to an investment firm. While this option will only allow you to collect a certain percentage of your total settlement amount, it will also safeguard you against the risk that the debt will be discharged.

You May Be Forced To Share The Proceeds Of Your Case

In some cases, the law will require that you share any settlement funds you receive as the result of a wrongful death case. Oftentimes, these statutes are employed when more than one person suffers equally from the loss of a loved one. For instance, if your parent was to die as a result of negligence, both you and your siblings would be equally impacted by this death. However, only one of you will be legally allowed to file a wrongful death claim. In this situation, the court may require that the proceeds of your case are distributed equally amongst you and your siblings.

In Conclusion

While the task of reaching a settlement in your case may seem like the hard part, distributing and receiving this settlement may be equally complicated in some cases. In order to help you through the process of collecting your settlement and dealing with any legal obstacles you may encounter, it is extremely important that you request a final consultation with your wrongful death attorney before your case is officially closed. For more information about how a wrongful death case might proceed, contact a firm such as Bangel, Bangel, & Bangel.

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What Happens In A Personal Injury Case

After an injury or accident, you have two possible avenues to get compensation. The first is to receive an offer for settlement (which you could choose to accept). The other is to file a lawsuit in civil court that would, if you win, allow you to collect compensation for any damages you have suffered. Although a lawsuit may eventually result in a larger settlement for a plaintiff, the fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of such cases are settled outside of court, usually before a civil lawsuit is actually filed. There are a number of reasons for this.

Understanding How a Settlement Works

A settlement takes place when either a defendant or insurer offers an injured party a payment for compensation.

1) This offer can occur prior to a lawsuit being filed but after a possible claim arises.

2) It can also be made when a case is in the process of being litigated but no verdict has yet been handed down.

3) A settlement can also happen as a case is being deliberated because one or both parties prefer the certainty that comes with a settlement.

After a settlement is agreed to by both parties, the plaintiff is required to relinquish any and all potential claims related to the incident or accident. The plaintiff must sign a liability release to confirm this. For example, in the case of a car accident, the plaintiff may be offered an out of court settlement of $50,000 by the insurer of the car that hit the plaintiff. In order to receive this amount, the plaintiff must agree that he or she will not sue the insurer in regards to the accident.

Insurance Companies and Settlements

When an insurance company is involved, a settlement is nearly always the preferred solution (as opposed to a personal injury civil suit). Since insurance companies are nearly always involved, this helps to explain why so many cases are settled rather than litigated. Insurance companies prefer to avoid risk. Therefore, since they fully expect that they will have to payout a certain percentage of claims, they would rather settle than deal with legal fees and the overall cost of a trial.

The Reason Why Many Cases Settle

There are several reasons why a case is settled, especially in instances when an insurance company is involved. First, as previously mentioned, opting for a settlement means the defendant can control both the risks that come with a jury trial and the associated costs. Second, if the defendant is certain that he or she will be found to be responsible, it’s probably in his best interest to avoid an especially sympathetic jury. Such a jury might decide to award the plaintiff with a much larger amount for punitive damages or pain and suffering. A third reason is that the defendant may prefer to avoid the case becoming public and showing up in the local newspaper. And lastly, settling a case is advantageous for both parties, as it avoids a lengthy trial that could go on for months and sometimes even years. Talk to a lawyer like Marcus & Mack for more information.

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Workplace Safety Standards: Are You Guaranteed Safety And Worker’s Compensation?

Most Americans have the expectation of safety while they work. However, each day in America approximately 150 people die from work related illness or injury, reports the Huffington Post. That number does not reflect more common injuries that occur from repetitive motion, equipment malfunctions, or chemical exposure. While some types of jobs are more dangerous physically than others, just what rights do Americans have when it comes to workplace safety? 

The OSH Act

In 1970, Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for employees in the United States. Very specific guidelines concerning asbestos, ergonomics, exposure to blood, and a variety of other health topics may be found at The United States Department of Labor. Some general guidelines that employees should be aware of are

  • Generally, all employers and employees are covered, excluding self employed persons, some farms that only employee family members, and industries that are regulated by federal law such as nuclear energy and most mining.
  • Employers must keep records in regard to every injury associated with the workplace, and employees have a right to their records.
  • Employees are entitled to a workplace that is free of hazards that are known to cause harm.
  • Employers must comply with the safety standards set for their industry.
  • Employees have a right to report unsafe conditions to OSHA without fear of reprisal.

Problems With Guidelines

Not every job will have the same rigorous guidelines as the next when it comes to safety standards. For instance, a construction job will have different safety guidelines than an office job. However, guidelines that pertain specifically to each industry are set up to ensure safety for employees in that particular field.

Unfortunately, even when guidelines are followed, they are not always 100 percent effective in preventing injury. This is due to human error, the type of job being done, regulations not being followed, or faulty machinery. An example of this is factory work that causes repetitive stress injury, such as line work at a meat packing plant. A factory may be within OSHA guidelines and still have multiple cases of carpal tunnel syndrome reported each year. 

Guaranteed Safety and Compensation

Americans are guaranteed safety from certain hazards in the workplace, but despite OSHA guidelines and preventive measures, accidents and oversights are still commonplace. Your employer should take immediate action if you are injured while working. If your injury is not taken seriously or you feel your working conditions are unsafe and caused your injury, it’s best to contact OSHA as well as a worker’s compensation attorney as quickly as possible. See websites like http://mooneyandassociates.com/ for more information.

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Why You May Need A Car Accident Lawyer Even When Not Driving

Surprise!

Non-drivers can find themselves in civil court more often than they think. When this happens, these people may need to speak with an attorney before appearing before the judge.

It may seem unlikely that someone not behind the wheel would need an accident attorney. Believing in this assumption can lead to losing a lawsuit for damages.  

Here are some times in which non-drivers can be involved in vehicle accidents, necessitating legal counsel.

  • At Crosswalks

Crosswalks accidents are common in American cities. These incidents occur on college campuses, downtown streets and residential neighborhoods. Many drivers pay little attention to who is in the crosswalk. Wise pedestrians check for oncoming traffic before stepping into the lane. It is best to wait until the ongoing traffic is clear. Pedestrians who had the right of way, and took all safety precautions, can sue for damages incurred by drivers who failed to stop at a crosswalk.

  • On Buses

Bus accidents are common. Passengers on buses during accidents can suffer injuries. They then might want to sue the transit authority. These cases can be complex because it is not always certain who is at fault. Bus drivers, dispatchers and others all might share part of the blame. Even other passengers may have contributed to the negligence. For example, a passenger talking to the driver may cause him or her to take their eyes off the road.

  • In Parking Lots

Parked cars are particularly vulnerable to accidents. A car sitting in a lot has no defense against a wayward driver who causes damage. Someone may be at the office or in the shopping mall and have their car hit, banged or scratched by another driver. It may take time and court appearances to get access to closed circuit recordings of the accident. A lawyer can help get full disclosure of the evidence.

  • After Loaning a Vehicle

Last, a car loaned to another can result in an accident claim. Owners are ultimately responsible for the actions of those driving their cars. Allowing someone who is irresponsible, under the influence of alcohol or not in possession of a valid operating permit to borrow a car are all negligent acts that can result in a lawsuit.

Get Help

Any non-driver involved somehow with an auto accident should contact an attorney for advice. A firm, such as Sarkisian Law Offices, is the best source of information on the current law. They can begin a personal injury lawsuit or defend against a claim for damages.

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Understanding Civil Lawsuits Against Drunk Drivers

Over the years, the penalties for driving drunk have become much stricter. Today, anyone arrested for driving impaired faces serious criminal charges and will need the services of a car accident attorney. They may also face separate civil charges for personal injuries or property damage.

What might surprise some is that for first time offenders, the civil charges may carry a heavier penalty than the criminal charges. There are several scenarios regarding civil charges against drunk drivers, depending on which state the accident occurred in.

In all civil cases, the standard of proof is a preponderance of evidence, instead of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, as in criminal cases.

Civil Lawsuits in No-Fault States

Certain states, such as New Jersey, Utah and Massachusetts are no-fault states. This means that in order to file a civil lawsuit, an auto accident must conform to a stated severity and exceed a mandated dollar amount. Therefore, drunk drivers in no-fault states are not automatically subject to civil charges. This is true even if there are clear injuries or damage. Minor injuries or property damage probably won’t require the services of a car accident attorney and will need to go through an insurance company. 

These terms may seem restrictive, but there are reasons for them. If the injuries and damage are minor, an insurance claim will be much less time-consuming and costly than a lawsuit. This makes any claim payments faster.

Civil Lawsuits in Pure Negligence States

Conversely, in a pure negligence state, a drunk driver can be sued for any injuries or property damage, no matter the scope. In these cases, the plaintiff must prove fault without regard to dollar amounts or severity of injuries. This doesn’t mean lawsuits are easier for auto accident attorneys to win, however.

Even in states with pure negligence laws, the terms differ from state to state. In some, like Virginia or Alabama, a defendant in a drunk driving accident may be able to avoid all liability if they can prove the accident victim was negligent in any way. 

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In the event of a death due to a drunk driving accident, the victim’s family or appointed representative can present a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased estate.  Generally, one of the main factors in determining compensation is the victim’s earning potential. Calculating damages can be complicated and experts may be called to help determine a fair amount. 

A car accident attorney, like those at the Law Office Of Tammy Strohl PA, can help determine rights and explain their home state’s laws. Calling one is the first step anyone involved in a drunk driving accident should take.

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