Houston’s slow moving insurance crisis

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Insurance | 0 comments

After Hurricane Harvey, the Texas insurance industry will really be put to the test. While the government has pledged a great deal of money to rebuild infrastructure, many homeowners will rely on their insurance to rebuild their homes. With extreme flooding damaging homes up and down the coast and especially around Houston, that is sure to put a strain on insurance company resources.

This issue will further be complicated by an unexpected factor: the lack of construction workers to do the rebuilding. According to Vox, much of the major rebuilding that took place in New Orleans after Katrina was done by undocumented workers. With recent crackdowns on that workforce, and with a very low unemployment rate, construction companies are struggling nationwide to find enough workers.

What workers they can find will cost more than most companies are used to paying as well, since undocumented workers were obviously cheaper to hire.

All that means that the situation in Houston will be, as Vox put it, “ripe for exploitation.”

That exploitation may take different forms. It may mean, as in New Orleans, paying people (even legal American workers) to do dangerous work for little pay (that is if they can find them). It may also include, and this is at least as likely, a conscious effort to appraise property at its actual value. Appraisers on the ground in Texas will have a heavy burden reappraising for clients after the initial valuation placed by the insurance companies. The importance of this job cannot be overstated for the coming years. Should insurance companies fail to meet the true value of a victim’s home, they may never receive enough compensation to rebuild their homes at all.

It seems highly likely, unfortunately, that just like in the case of Katrina, the federal government is woefully behind on what is required for the situation. Just as the Katrina response was famously slow, so Congress has been slow now to approve the necessary funds to get a strong start on the recovery. Having approved only $8 billion in aid (when an estimated $180 billion will be needed), the government looks as likely to cut corners as the insurance companies, leaving Houston in a very tough position indeed.

With aid needed elsewhere as well (specifically, in southern Florida and Puerto Rico), Houston, despite being the fourth biggest city in the country, may find itself a lower priority in the near future. Should another major storm hit either this year or next, it is hard to say how much more aid can be counted on at that point.

Which leaves Houston with a major crisis, one far slower in coming than Harvey. It may be years yet before Houston is aware that the insurance companies and the government have failed to meet obligations, and that the former is near bankrupt, and the latter is too busy to help.

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Will Pot Be Legalized in the Northeast?

Posted by on Oct 6, 2017 in Criminal defense | 0 comments

For many people in New England (and, let’s face it, across the country), the question of legalizing marijuana has been raised repeatedly over time, but now the chorus is getting louder. After seeing the success of states like Colorado who have legalized marijuana and have seen tax revenues and industry explode as a result, lawmakers in Rhode Island have actually taken another step toward legalization by creating a commission to explore the possibility of legalizing pot in the state.

According to a news report in the Providence Journal, nineteen panelists were selected by the General Assembly to explore the possibility and feasibility of legalizing marijuana in the state. The resolution was drafted in June and the panelists are supposed to deliver their recommendations to the assembly by March 1st. The committee begins meeting this month, in October. According to the new

According to the Journal’s story, commission members include state and local lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, members of substance abuse counsels and organizations, chamber of commerce officials, a medical marijuana patient, a criminal defense lawyer, and a therapist, among others. It is clear that the panel was designed to represent individuals across a broad spectrum of disciplines and social approaches to provide balance and thought to the discussion of legalization.

While citizens wait for the panel’s final decision, individuals who are arrested for possession of marijuana still may face criminal prosecution as a result. Depending on the situation, the individual’s criminal history, and the amount of marijuana in their possession, individuals may face heavy fines and even jail time if they are apprehended by law enforcement with pot on them.

If marijuana were to be legalized in Rhode Island, Cape Cod, or anywhere in New England, these issues would clearly become obsolete for many people, especially those who are charged with minor infractions, like possessing a small amount of weed. Personally, I feel that our jail system and the huge issue of overcrowding would be helped tremendously if people were not jailed for minor offenses. By legalizing marijuana especially (which I personally think is harmless, but that is a debate I’ll save for another blog post) it is hard to argue that we can alleviate some of the stress and strain on our already overwhelmed legal system.

Attorneys in the Northeast tend to agree, like this criminal defense attorney that I found through a Google search for defense attorneys in the Northeast, James Powderly. His firm represents individuals in Massachusetts who were charged with crimes ranging from serious offenses like assault, burglary, and murder, to non-violent offenses like possession of marijuana. Criminal defense attorneys routinely represent clients who are facing criminal charges for offenses that in other states in the U.S., (we’re looking at you, Colorado and Washington) are completely legal activities, and are relatively harmless.

In Rhode Island, lawmakers are at least making progress by discussing the possibility of legalizing marijuana so that people will not have to suffer the consequences of possessing the drug for personal, recreational use, an activity that I have made plainly clear on this blog many times, is something that I personally do not have an issue with at all. Maybe other states in the area, like Massachusetts and New York will follow suit if Rhode Island legalizes marijuana?

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Personal Injury and the Statute of Limitations

Posted by on Aug 10, 2017 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

Personal injury cases are perhaps the broadest category of legal cases and encompass many instances of unjust harm related to everything from asbestos to explosions to vaccinations to pharmacy errors. One of the most crucial elements of any personal injury case is its timeliness. How long after the injury is the plaintiff seeking reparations for any harm done? If you plan to sue for damages, you are generally allowed the right to do so until a certain amount of time has passed. This restriction on the allowable recency of a legal claim is known as a “statute of limitations.” In this article, we will explore many aspects of the statute of limitations and what that means for your personal injury case.

The statute of limitations generally begins as soon as a personal injury happens or is discovered to have happened. The length of a statute of limitations depends on state law and certain other factors like if the case is civil or criminal. In Wisconsin, for example, the statute of limitations for Civil Injury to Person is three years. This means that you are granted legal opportunity to sue for up to three years following the injury or discovery of said injury. After that three years, it becomes much harder to take legal recourse against the crime, if it’s even allowed at all. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to prevent legal issues from causing unnecessary strife in someone’s life. It seems like it would be unfair to force people to live their entire lives under a constant threat of a potential lawsuit.

If your personal injury case is within the statute of limitations and you wish to sue, here’s what you should know: Many cases don’t actually go to court and are settled by lawyers outside of the courthouse. This is the ideal scenario because it is a lot less trouble for everyone if all involved parties are able to reach a reasonable agreement. These informal agreements are referred to as “settlements” and usually include financial compensation for whatever harm was done to the individual suing. If, however, a settlement is not reached, the next step would be to file a formal lawsuit. Personal injury cases are typically filed as civil lawsuits, as they are between two parties separate from the government. Criminal lawsuits, conversely, are enacted by the government against an individual or group like a corporation. When a formal lawsuit is filed, your lawyer will handle most of the important things like representing you in a court of law and communicating with the defendant. A verdict will eventually be reached and any reparations will be determined by the court.

If you believe that you have suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence and wish to seek compensation for your damages, you should perform your own research to determine if your claim is within its respective statute of limitations and contact a lawyer with any questions to see if you are eligible for legal representation.

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Litigation Requires a Steady Guiding Hand in order to be Conducted Successfully

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Commercial Litigation | 0 comments

Wrongful termination, discharge or dismissal is one situation wherein termination of an employee from work violates not only the provisions of the employment law, but also the terms stipulated in an employment contract. All employees in the U.S. are protected by the Employee Rights against wrongful termination. These rights are based on:

  • Statutory Rights: these are mandated by the state or federal government and require an advance notice of the closure of or a facility or sizeable lay-offs (due to retrenchment), provision of unemployment insurance and protection through anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination laws;
  • Company Policy: states the provision of severance payment in case of company lay-offs; and,
  • Contract Rights: an employee’s individual contract with his/her employers which may be sheltered by a union/collective bargaining agreement.

If an employee sees foul play in losing his/her work, then the Wrongful Termination Law can be used to determine whether the termination was legal. The Wrongful Termination Law also provides possible remedies in cases of wrongful removal from work.

The usual reported causes of wrongful termination include discrimination, retaliation, refusal of employee to perform an illegal act (at the command of the employer), failure of employer to abide by the company’s policies on termination procedures and whistle blowing or complaining.

Besides wrongful termination, employers use two other means to terminate an employee or to make an employee resign voluntarily (to hide intent of illegal termination):

  • Constructive dismissal – a voluntary decision (by the employee) to quit from work arrived at due to the unbearable working conditions at the doings of the employer. These conditions may take the form of unconstructive changes in work and/or pay, harassment and/or discrimination. This voluntary resignation may be legally compared to wrongful discharge; the employee only needs to prove that he/she has quit work due to a breach of contract by the employer. The Employment Rights Act of 1996 states that any employee, who ends his/her employment contract due to the employer’s conduct, may be considered as illegally dismissed.
  • The “Employment at Will” Doctrine – simply means that any employee may be dismissed (even without notice) or can resign from work any time even without valid reason/s. There are circumstances, though, which will render this doctrine not applicable, such as if the employee is covered by a contract of employment, a company policy that provides termination procedure or a collective bargaining agreement.

According to Tucson commercial law attorneys of Russo, Russo & Slania, P.C., “The modern world of business can often be extraordinarily fast-paced, and success is frequently determined by who can respond quickest to changes in market conditions. Unfortunately, when a business or company becomes involved in litigation, it can quickly absorb the focus needed for business operations. Resolving these types of issues quickly and effectively is, therefore, of paramount importance.

Litigation requires a steady guiding hand in order to be conducted successfully, and the assistance of qualified legal counsel in these matters is essential. If you are involved in any form of litigation know that business or commercial litigation attorneys know how much the outcome matters to you and your business, thus, they will work tirelessly to achieve the results you deserve.

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What Constitutes a Viable Slip and Fall Case

Posted by on Jun 18, 2017 in Premises Liability | 0 comments

A slip and fall accident happens when a person slips and injuries himself. The owner of the property where the accident has occurred may be held accountable for the damages, such as for the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages for losing time at work, and other financial burdens.

This is because of a legal concept called premises liability, wherein property owners are required to make their premises safe. Any act of negligence that has resulted into an accident can turn into a lawsuit. But what makes a slip and fall case viable?

Property owner has caused the slip and fall hazard

For a slip and fall case to be legitimate and winnable, an important factor to have is that the property owner has directly caused the slip and fall hazard. These hazards can take on many forms, such as defective escalators and elevators, slippery materials applied or left on the floor, tripping dangers like extension cords, and even trash and debris.

These hazards can occur because of many reasons, such as those mentioned in the website of Hach & Rose: the failure to adhere to safety regulations and failure to remove or warn of materials or debris on walkways.

A reasonable time has elapsed for the hazard to be seen and fixed

Negligence on the side of the property owner is the most important aspect of a slip and fall case. This negligence mostly manifests in two ways. First is the creation of the slip and fall hazard, as said earlier. Second is the failure to see or the lack of initiative to fix the hazard.

This second manifestation can happen on many instances, like when the property owner has failed to maintain its facilities, resulting into defects, or has failed to see problems just because of the lack of supervision.

A person has been hurt because of the unseen or unfixed hazard

For a slip and fall case to be truly viable, someone has to be hurt, resulting into various damages that could have been prevented if the property owner has not caused a slip and fall hazard and has failed to see or fix the hazard.

The website of the Sampson Law Firm has expanded on these possible damages:

  • Medical and rehabilitative care to recover
  • Unearned income during recovery
  • Long-term diminishment in quality of life
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Most Common Forms of Employment Discrimination

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Employee Discrimination | 0 comments

Employment discrimination occurs if a person has experienced unwarranted disadvantages because of his or her personal features, such as gender and race. Discrimination occurs both in the hiring process and in the work environment. The hiring process may be compromised because of discrimination, such as not wanting to hire an applicant because of personal features. The work environment can be compromised in the aspect of promotions, mistreatments, and terminations.

According to the website of Cary Kane, LLP, it is illegal for employers to engage in employment discrimination because of an employee’s race, color, gender, national origin, ethnic identity, and religion. This just proves that the law knows the negative effects of discrimination in society.

Retaliation
This is one of the most common forms of discrimination. This manifests itself as fear of getting fired, demoted, or receiving any kind of negative consequence for complaining against an employer. Employees have rights to complain, especially if they have ethical or moral concerns about the employers. In these cases, threats such as termination are therefore discriminatory.

Sex
This kind of discrimination occurs if an employer treats an employee differently just because of the employee’s sex and gender preference. This can also manifest in the hiring process, where employers may have the tendency to prefer one gender over the other. Issues concerning sexual harassment and pregnancy can also count as sex discrimination.

Race and Color
Employers should not consider race, color, national origin, ethnic identity, and other similar aspects of a person when it comes to hiring processes, compensation offers, scheduling of shifts, assigning of tasks, and other important factors in the work environment. Harassment that is focused on such aspects are also considered discriminatory.

Age
Employees must have equal benefits, despite their disparities in terms of age. In the hiring process, age preferences, age brackets for internships, and other age-related methods are also considered discriminatory. Age discrimination is not exclusive for the young, as even the old can face age discrimination, like when they are not hired because they may be too old even though they are fully qualified for the job.

Other Forms of Discrimination
Above are just some of the most common forms of discrimination in the workplace, but there are subtler forms, such as those that involve unequal pay despite equal efforts and accomplishments, preference toward more physically-abled employees, and bias against those who have disabilities or limitations.

In a moral perspective, employment should be based on qualification alone, and not on personal features, especially features that employees have no control over, like gender, race, and age.

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The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in Distracted Driving | 0 comments

Car accidents happen with alarming frequency all over the United States. According to 2015 data released by the National Safety Council, the last year saw the highest percentage increase in fatal traffic accidents. The numbers show that over 38,000 people were killed in car accidents and about 4.4 million people sustained injuries that needed medical attention.

Plenty of factors contribute to making American roads more and more dangerous. Among these factors are distracted driving, which is considered as one of the most common causes for fatal crashes in recent years. As noted by both the U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Safety Administration, distracted driving caused more that 3,000 deaths in 2013. Most of these accidents were caused by drivers that were texting or otherwise using their smartphones.

The use of mobile phones can result in particularly devastating accidents because it typically takes up so much of a driver’s attention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that there are three different components to distracted driving: visual distraction, manual distraction, and cognitive distraction. The first refers to moments when a driver takes their eyes off the road, while the second refers to when a driver takes their hands off the wheel. The last type of distraction refers to when a driver becomes focuses their attention on something else other than the vehicle they’re operating. The use of smartphones while driving can lead to serious injuries because it encompasses all three components of distracted driving.

As with any car crashes, distracted driving accidents can to long-term consequences and serious injuries. In these situations, the car accident attorneys at Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC emphasize the importance of seeking effective legal counsel. If you or someone you know have been hurt in a distracted driving incident, you should know that you have every right to seek just compensation for the trauma and suffering you’ve endured.

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How To File A Workplace Injury Claim

Posted by on Jun 24, 2016 in Workplace Injuries | 0 comments

Employees assume that the workplace is a safe environment. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide their workers with a safe and conducive working environment. When an employee gets injured at work, they have grounds for filing a workplace injury claim. The law provides employees with the right to file a claim for any injuries they will incur. Both employer and employee have the responsibility to ensure that the filing is facilitated smoothly. In this article, we shall take a look at the workplace injury claim process.

Employer

In the first place, it is the job of the employer to ensure the safety of employees by providing them with a safe place to work. In case of workplace injury, the employer must ensure that they complete a First Report of Injury and submit it to their workers’ compensation provider. In addition, they must ensure that they do not violate any laws or rights of the injured employee. They should let them get medical attention for serious injuries or leave work to consult their personal doctor.

The employer also has the responsibility to cooperate with their carrier during the investigation of the accident. This includes providing them with a copy of the employee’s personnel file, letting them talk to the supervisor or some co-workers to confirm the accident. Whatever the employer can do to facilitate the process, they should do so.

Employee

On the other hand, it is the job of the employee to ensure that they act responsibly while in the workplace. Reporting for work while intoxicated, committing a crime, or willingly violating a policy or code may disqualify the employee from whatever compensation they can claim.

A workplace injury should be reported right away or at the soonest time possible to your employer or immediate supervisor. Make sure that your employer files a report for your injury. Ensure the accuracy of such report and provide yourself with a copy for your own records. Not reporting right away may result to difficulty in getting benefits.

Cooperate with any requests that your insurance company will require from you. If they ask that you consult a physician for examination, go and have yourself checked. This will erase any doubts for your refusal not to be examined by a doctor.

Lastly, the employee should act responsibly after an injury. According to the website of the Law Offices of Yvonne M. Fraser, insurance companies will be keeping their eyes on you if you have sustained an injury already. They will know if you have faked an injury or exaggerated it.

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How Can a Place Be Dangerous?

Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in Premises Liability | 0 comments

There is an adage old saying that people hurt people. This doesn’t necessarily have to be literally taken as there are indirect ways as to how people can actually cause harm to other people without really meaning to do so. Take, for example, the premise of premises liability.

Premises liability, according to the website of the lawyers with the Chris Mayo Law Firm, is a subset of personal injury that deals with injury that has been caused to a person due to improper care or negligent foundation of premises. Say that the premises in question willfully used asbestos during its construction and thereby exposed everyone within the vicinity to asbestos, causing multiple asbestos-related illnesses. It could even be as simple as the neglect to put a sign to say that the floor is wet and caused a slip and fall accident—it may not seem like much, textually, but if a fall is hard enough to have caused sustainable, debilitating injury such as epidural hematoma or paralysis due to a spinal cord injury, then it warrants legal action.

Personal injury is the legal terminology used in order to classify situations wherein one party was injured due to the negligent actions of another party. The injury itself doesn’t need to be physical in nature as emotional and mental injury such as clinical depression or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that were caused by an accident that was due to negligent actions can also warrant legal action that constitutes as personal injury.

It can be complicated grounds to file for personal injury, however, as since it is quite a broad legal field. With the right kind of experienced professional help, however, the stress can be alleviated just as quick and you could have someone on your team who can get you the right amount of what you’re rightfully owed.

People can sometimes hurt people without them meaning to—that doesn’t mean they should get away with it.

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Outsourcing in the Philippines

Posted by on Sep 21, 2015 in Business Tactics | 0 comments

In 2013, the Philippines edged New Delhi at number three spot in the top 100 global outsourcing destinations in the world; and while the Information Technology-Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry believes that the Philippines is a very strong contender in the top five most cost-competitive termini for IT-BPO services, one US-based company boldly predicts that by 2030 IT-BPO will be a trillion-dollar economy in the nation.

The ushering in of the practice of outsourcing or offshoring in the Philippines during the last decade of the 20th century has only led to the unprecedented growth of this business strategy in the country, which also continuous to benefit developing foreign companies and third party organizations.

Began by only a substantial number of Fortune 500 companies, top companies in Australia have also started to outsource in the country services that include call centers, customer relationship management, back office/chat support, creative processes, HR solutions, application maintenance, healthcare information management, medical transcription, software development, legal services, research, content writing and blogging.

Outsourcing, is a business strategy wherein a host firm contracts out a business process to another organization, called a third party. This third party organization may be located within the host firm’s own country or outside it, internationally, thus, the term offshoring.

Host firms usually resort to outsourcing or offshoring movement of certain company projects or services due to the lack of the necessary expert or skilled individuals needed for the job or because outsourcing just proves to be much more economically favorable – both for the host firm, which is able to save much from company expenditures, and the third party organization, which is able to create jobs while earning profits at the same time.

But what makes the Philippines a destination that deserves primary consideration? Top American and Australian companies that are already settled in the country agree on these same points: the employees’ high literacy and expertise in various areas, strong skills in the English language, a firmly established telecommunications infrastructure, competitive labor rates, and many others.

According to the website of Pinoy Partners Outsourcing Center Inc., some examples of outsourcing services available in the Philippines include chat support services, medical billing, SEO work, outbound calls, airline and hotel reservations, blogging, content writing, smartphone application building, and computer programming.

The path of online technology is continuous improvement, making people even in the most remote places on Earth fast and easy to reach. Outsourcing or offshoring has been proven totally beneficial and advantageous, without doubt. The only question is, who else is eager to get onboard and take advantage of the boundless opportunity outsourcing can provide?

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