The Legal Insider

December 2011

Personal Injury on Vacation

Mishaps can occur at any time, even during holiday vacations.  In some cases you’re the only one to blame. But if you’re injured as a result of the negligence of another party, you may be entitled to compensation for the trip-ruining incident.

Below are some common vacation personal injury lawsuits, and suggestions on how to handle them. Of course, the best course of action is usually contacting a local lawyer where the accident happened, especially if you’re out of state.

Ski Resort Injuries: The failure to maintain reasonable care in operating a ski resort can result in avoidable ski collisions as well as slip and fall injuries. Resorts have been held liable for lift mishaps, downhill accidents, collisions (especially as a result of poorly located signs), inadequate slope maintenance, and negligent instruction or supervision. 

Rental Car Crash: Many of us will be going to snowy places where the roads are icy, but accidents can happen in any conditions. If you’re involved in a collision in your rental car you should: 1) Make sure everyone is safe and contact medical professionals ASAP, 2) Contact the rental company, and 3) Contact your insurance company.  In addition to the accident report, rental agreement, and photos of the damaged vehicle, you will want to get copies of any medical bills that are a result of the accident so you can be reimbursed.

Food Poisoning: Hopefully you won’t ingest any bacteria, viruses, or pesticides during your trip. However, if you’re the victim of food poisoning as a result of negligence you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and suffering.  Anyone who has experienced food poisoning knows it’s immobilizing.

Travel Agents: While helpful, some agents are only working to make a commission and have much less interest in your trip.  Thankfully, states govern these agents. Violations of general duties and fraudulent misrepresentations can entitle you to compensation. Most travelers take issue with injuries, delays, cancellations, discriminations, damaged or stolen baggage, deceptive port charges, and violation of consumer protection laws.


Travel Precautions for Dual and Naturalized Citizens

The United States is a wonderful place that attracts people from all over the world. Many people have made the commitment to turn their permanent immigration visas into bona fide U.S. Citizenship. But once you decide to become a U.S. citizen, how will this affect your return visits to see relatives in the home country?

In most cases your home country will still consider you a citizen of that country.  U.S. Citizenship requires you to renounce your previous citizenship, but many countries don’t acknowledge this unless you've also petitioned in their country.

If you travel to your previous country during the U.S. naturalization process, then you may be risking your U.S. citizenship. Renouncing your previous country means you are committing to the U.S.  If you travel back to your home country during this time period, your actions may be seen as “inconsistent” by U.S. officials.

As with any complex and ever-changing legal issue, it’s best to consult a U.S. Immigration lawyer in your area. An Immigration lawyer can help you decide exactly how to proceed and may even be able to negotiate a deal. It’s much better than risking removal / deportation.


DUI/DWI and Criminal Plea Bargaining

The Holiday Season is a time to share drinks with friends and have a merry time. But excessive drinking can have very adverse affects on your livelihood. DUI and DWI charges are increasingly high and can result in jail time and loss of your driver's license. Talking with a lawyer who specializes in DUI/DWI is crucial. A well-informed lawyer will explain your options and advise you on what seems to be the best course of action.  Successfully fighting a DUI/DWI case can be very tough, so many opt for a DUI Plea Bargain.

A plea bargain is when the government and the defendant make an arrangement whereby the defendant admits guilt to charges (typically reduced as part of the agreement) in exchange for ending further prosecution. Depending on the severity of the crime and strength of evidence, it may be the best option for your case.

Plea bargains work for both parties in many instances. Plea bargains are normally proposed by government prosecutors because they have less evidence than desired or to clear up the court’s busy calendar. A plea bargain will define the charges and repercussions without having a judge or jury decide your fate.

Plea bargains in DUI/DWI cases can usually save you from a more serious criminal charge, heavy fines, jail time, and sometimes the loss of your license. Contacting a DUI/DWI lawyer in your area should be your first step. The prosecution is working on your case, are you?


Christmas Fire and Lawsuit Hazards

Decorations are everywhere during Christmas. I'm sure your city's downtown corridor is lined with banners and ribbons wishing everyone "Happy Holidays!"  Over the top home decorating is fun, too. However, be careful: your decorations could be the fuse to a life changing house fire.

Defective products that result in the destruction of your home may entitle you to a sizable award. Usually, a defective product causes injury to a person due to faulty labeling, a design defect, or manufacturing blunder. The “product liability” will determine if the company can be held liable.

Accidents like unattended cooking fires and knocked over candles claim a number of homes every year. The American Red Cross instructs us to keep candles out of reach of children and pets’ tails. 

Be careful that holiday helpers aren't also negligent. For example, if a hired catering company burns down your home or office while preparing the food then they (or you!) may be liable. Negligence is the failure to use the proper amount of care that an ordinary person would in similar circumstances.

Negligence claims may result in large settlements to rectify any damage, injury, bills, or loss of income. The most successful cases are started soonest, so speak with a local personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a fire. Lawyers can also help you negotiate with insurance companies who will want to offer the smallest possible settlement.

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