The Legal Insider

November 2010

Avoidable Thanksgiving Liabilities

It's hard to believe but the Holiday Season is already here. Hopefully you have your turkey already and are preparing for the madness of Black Friday. 

The Holidays are a great time to visit and drink with friends and family, but there are some pitfalls you can avoid. Holiday parties result in a growing number of legal consequences these days.

One obvious and disastrous liability during parties and get-togethers is allowing alcohol to fall into the hands of minors. The supplier of the alcohol can be held liable for damages.

Below are some less obvious legal pitfalls that could send you running to a lawyer's office:

  • Burning your house down while trying to deep fry Thanksgiving dinner: Each year about 4,300 fires occur in the United States on Thanksgiving. Those cause about $27 million in property damage, kill 15 people, and injure an average of 50 people. Make sure your home insurance policy is up to date and keep an eye on those turkeys. Only deep fry outside!
  • Sending your guests driving home drunk: Another big Thanksgiving tragedy is drunk driving and it's the #1 day for DUI/DWI fatalities.
  • Food poisoning is a viable concern when cooking: Check out some quick tips to avoid giving your guests food poisoning.
  • Choking hazards: It's always good to know things like CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. Inebriation vastly increases the risk of choking.
  • Pet mishaps: You may be surprised to find out there are also pet safety tips for Thanksgiving. Did you know that in some cases an emotional distress lawsuit can result from a mistreated pet?

Winter Car Collision Guide: 15 Details that Could Save Your Giblets

Winters are a common time to have an accident because roads get icy, visibility can be poor, and sometimes things just happen.  The information you gather soon after the incident can make all the difference in your case or worse, the one against you.

Below are 15 things to write down if you have a vehicular mishap this season:

  1. The other driver's name, address, telephone number, insurance, and license number.
  2. If you think the other driver is intoxicated in any way and why.
  3. Names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
  4. Where the accident took place.
  5. When it happened. Date and time.
  6. Weather conditions when the accident happened. Include visibility or road conditions if necessary.
  7. The directions the cars were traveling.
  8. How the accident occurred.
  9. If there were any injuries.
  10. Any injured parties' names and contact information.
  11. Pictures of both cars and any skid marks.
  12. Names and badge numbers of officers at the scene.
  13. Traffic tickets were issued as a result of the accident.
  14. Any damage to the cars beforehand.
  15. If anyone admitted fault for the accident.

Potholes! Oh My!

There's nothing worse than hitting a big pothole. They can damage cars and increasingly cause injuries. Bicycling, scooters, and small economic cars all are greatly affected by potholes. Bicyclists have been thrown over their handlebars when riding through a seemingly small puddle. Those who use electronic mobility carts can be thrown and injured when hitting a pothole. Additionally, small cars that hit potholes can cause their passengers to have neck and back injuries.

Owners of parking lots, structures, and private property owners are liable for unreasonable large potholes that cause injuries. The severity is not always important in a lawsuit; it's often just the presence of medical bills, lost wages, and suffering.

Public property incidents can bring in more than a million dollars. In those incidents, the street has been poorly repaired or maintained, outrageously deep or jagged, or if it had been previously reported.

The injured person must record the incident's details including contact information from bystanders, pictures of the defect, injuries, and property damage. It's also important to call 911 as a record of the incident and go to the hospital to have your injuries assessed.

This is all vital evidence for any pothole case. It will make your case much stronger. As always, it's best to speak with a personal injury lawyer who has experience with filing injury lawsuits and negotiating settlements.


Talking Turkey About Alimony

Spousal support (also known as alimony) is regular payments made from one spouse to the other after a divorce or during separation. The reason for spousal support is to help one spouse achieve financial independence. Alimony also recognizes your, or your spouse's, contribution to the marriage. It's only granted to those who were legally married, and the official guidelines vary from state to state. Most are based on the length of the marriage.

If your marriage was “short” then the court will likely assume you and your ex-spouse maintained the same ability to support yourself as before you were married. Short marriages are normally considered such if they've lasted less than 5 years. Both partners will be expected to become self-sufficient again in a relatively short period of time.

Marriages over 5 years are considered "long" and a court takes a number of things into account when setting an alimony amount. Each spouses' assumed earning capacity, property and debts accrued, physical and mental health of the receiving spouse, length of marriage, income, contributions to careers and as a homemaker are all taken into consideration.

Depending on the things above, you or your spouse may be eligible for rehabilitative alimony, lump sum support, or permanent alimony. With any divorce, child custody, or support issue it's best to consult a lawyer who is familiar with your type of case.

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