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.

Read More

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?

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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
Read More