The Legal Insider

May 2013

Putting a Dollar Amount on Your Injury

So you’ve been injured by the negligence of someone else. Now you’re going to court to prove that the person was careless, that they caused the accident, and you were injured. You’ve even brought it to your lawyer and the court within the statute of limitations. Congratulations, you’re head and shoulders above the rest at this point!

However, do you know how much your personal injury case is really worth? It will all depend on the factors below:

Severity of Injuries—For what seems like obvious reasons, the victim that bruised their coccyx probably won’t get paid as much as the poor fellow that lost an arm.

Amount of Medical Bills—Any medical expenses resulting from the accident should be calculated into the final sum. These can include doctor visits, surgeries, prescriptions, and physical therapy costs.

Pain and Suffering—Normally, pain and suffering is based on the severity of the injuries and how much discomfort and inconvenience they have caused you.

Work—Lost wages are usually requested in cases where the victim has been kept from working as a result of the accident.

Lifestyle—How have the injuries affected your lifestyle? Truly “life-changing” injuries are normally paid accordingly.

Your Age—Injuries to young children that will persist throughout their lives are generally paid more because they must live with the disability for longer.

Your Future Medical Prognosis—Will your condition improve over time, stay the same, or worsen?

Pre-Existing Injuries—Okay, here’s where it can get a bit sticky. The defense will try to prove you had a “pre-existing injury” that somehow lessens their responsibility.


How to Start Your Business

If you’re thinking about starting a business, now is arguably a great time to start one. Commercial spaces and used professional equipment are especially affordable now more than ever.

However, there are a number of hoops to jump through that can seem confusing. Many prospective business owners decide to hire a lawyer because they want to focus on the other aspects of setting up a business. Here are a few of the legal minded aspects to get your wheels turning:

  1. Business license—Every business must have one!
  2. Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)—This is mandatory if you have a corporation or employees, or you don’t want to use your personal social security number to open your business’ bank accounts.
  3. Resale License—This is also called a “Seller’s Permit.” In some areas it allows you to sell your product and collect sales taxes.
  4. Wholesale License—A wholesale license is a must if you are looking to buy or sell wholesale and sell retail. This can apply to many types of businesses including car dealerships, clothing/retail stores, and even online stores.
  5. Zoning Clearance—Before buying your appliances and stock, you will need to make sure your office space or storefront is in compliance with local zoning laws. These laws also include regulations on hazardous substances.
  6. Name and/or Incorporate—Businesses that are named something besides your personal name must register a fictitious business name. You cannot set up a merchant account until you register a fictitious business name or incorporate first.

The steps above are great for getting you started. You will probably want to consult a local business lawyer who will be able to advise you on how best to proceed, since they are familiar with local laws and the permits needed. For example, California business owners must also register for a State Tax ID: EIN Employer ID if they pay their employees more than $100 per quarter.


Highway Robbery: Fight Your Ticket!

Traffic Tickets are the most common type of criminal infraction. Normal moving violations such as speeding tickets, failure to signal or use an indicator, and not coming to a complete stop can be pretty costly. To make matters worse, accumulating a few tickets can cost BIG BUCKS when it comes time to paying your auto insurance premium. So now you have to decide, should I fight the ticket?

Your ability to successfully defeat a traffic citation will depend on the type of violation you receive. Some tickets are next to impossible to win. Others have better odds, like when the officer isn’t familiar with the law or how it should be applied.

Here are a few useful questions you and your lawyer should discuss when deciding whether to contest a traffic ticket:

Did the officer mis-target you? When traffic is heavy it’s common for an officer to see a violation committed by one car and stop another. Think about how many black SUV’s and white sedans are out there.

Was the officer’s view obstructed? Officers like to lurk back from intersections and under overpasses. So, it’s somewhat likely the officer’s view was obstructed and the alleged offense was mistakenly lodged against you.

Did you receive your speeding ticket for driving safely? In some states it’s legal to drive slightly over the posted speed limit if it’s safe to do so.

Was there a provable error in the officer’s approach or method? Did the officer properly pace your vehicle, use radar, laser, or VASCAR to establish you were speeding? Did the officer incorrectly fill out the citation?

Traffic tickets are the lowest level of criminal infractions, but they can still have real world consequences, so should be taken seriously and dealt with immediately.


Are You Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

Many people that are out of work know about unemployment benefits but are unsure of whether they are eligible. Most times it depends on how the person became unemployed. Below are a few unique situations you may not have heard of before:

Temporary layoffs are when employees are removed from their jobs for a short amount of time. Seasonal work, workplace renovations, and impossible weather conditions are a few examples of temporary layoffs. Depending on your state, you may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits for the time you are laid off as long as your employer isn’t paying you, too.

Employees that are offered work at another branch or location and reject the opportunity may forfeit their right to collect unemployment benefits during that period. Similarly, declining pay from your employer during your time off can bar you from unemployment benefits as well. But then again, who’s ever turned down money from their employer?

One other type of compensation during these tough times may be right under your nose: unemployment insurance. Unemployment insurance is a program that provides workers who lost their jobs with a weekly income during their time of unemployment. Once a “work separation” has taken place, workers who meet the requirements, below, can receive compensation:

  • worked a minimum number of weeks during the year
  • met a level of earnings for the past year
  • now actively looking for work
  • unemployed through no fault of your own

Unemployment is no fun. Not receiving any money while being unemployed is even worse. Speak with an employment lawyer if you have additional questions about unemployment benefits.


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