What Is Suing Municipalities?

Life isn’t easy when you’ve been injured, and finding out who is at fault can quickly become a mess when you’re tied up in the legal system. If a city, town, or municipality is to blame for your injury, the process can seem even more complicated. It doesn’t have to be. This is why we have such a system of laws in the first place. So you’ve been injured–but what does it mean to sue a municipality?

Part of the problem when suing municipalities is the legal limitations set forth to protect them from losing too much money–even if their negligence led to your injury. A municipality is defined as a regional division with corporate status or governed locally.

The first thing you’ll notice when trying to file a claim placing blame on a municipality is presence of time. In an ordinary personal injury case, a statute of limitations governs how long you have to file your claim. This period of time usually provides you with years to make your case. When suing a municipality, you might only have as few as thirty days to establish and file your case.

This distinction is important because injuries don’t always become apparent for months or years following an accident. If this scenario sounds like yours, then speak to your personal injury attorney about any options that may still be open to you. Even if your injury is obvious right away, it’s important to set up your case with as much speed as possible.

Before you can file a claim, you should file a “Notice of Claim”. This informs the municipality in question that a lawsuit is pending, and allows them to prepare an appropriate response. In Florida, notice must be filed with the Florida Department of Financial Services. If that seems confusing, you shouldn’t be surprised. Local governments have limited funding, and they protect their resources however they can. After the notice is filed, an additional period of time must elapse before you can take it into court.

One last thing to keep in mind: filing a claim for punitive damages–in order to prevent future negligence–usually isn’t possible when suing municipalities.

What Is RICO?

The legal system has found creative methods of combating criminal organizations in decades past, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was one of the best. It made it easier to charge and convict members of such organizations and levy extreme sentences, even if there was no direct involvement in the worst crimes committed. Of course, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and the prosecution must meet high standards to achieve a conviction.

Racketeering occurs when criminals plan or organize their activities. The usual template for these activities falls under the umbrella of a larger business which may or may not have genuine business activity. In most cases, a criminal will create an imagined problem, and then offer his services to unwilling consumers in order to “fix” that problem. These days, a racket is any illegal organized operation.

The RICO Act was passed in 1970 in order to target members of racketeering operations. It is a federal law under which prosecutors are able to target the entirety of organizations accused of crimes like money laundering, counterfeiting, embezzlement, or more extreme crimes like kidnapping, murder, and drug and human trafficking.

Someone might be convicted under RICO if prosecutors can prove the individual was part of at least two instances of racketeering. In addition, the individual must have directly invested in the organization. The key to convicting someone under the RICO Act is the effect of those crimes on the interstate or foreign commerce. If the prosecution can prove that the criminal activities affected commerce, then the final nail is pounded into the coffin.

An individual charged under the RICO Act could be imprisoned for up to twenty years, unless one of the charges under the umbrella of Rico would have already demanded life. If one stands accused of murder, for example, then that individual can expect to spend his life behind bars. The charge could also lead to a $250,000 fine. Although these penalties are strict, those prosecuted under the RICO Act could easily land more time because they are usually charged on multiple counts.

Defining Who is at Fault in a Car Accident

Who’s at Fault?

Determining who is at fault for the occurrence of a car accident comes down to the car accident laws of each state. A general rule for determining fault after a car accident is to determine if one driver was performing an illegal act or not. If both drivers were abiding by the laws of traffic, a driver may be deemed at fault if they collide with another vehicle. For example, if you are at a red light and are hit in the rear of your vehicle, the driver who collided with you would be considered at fault.

In most states, auto insurance is fault-based. In other words, the driver who is determined at fault for the accident can be held liable. If you are found liable, you may be responsible to pay for repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.

In other states, auto insurance is considered “no-fault.” In no-fault states, drivers might be required to carry personal injury protection (PIP). Personal injury protection is put in place so a driver cannot be sued for their personal belongings. In these states, both insurance companies will pay for medical expenses until they reach a predetermined threshold.

Who’s liable?

Now that we know how fault is dealt, we must determine who is liable. Determining liability depends on the state that the accident occurs in. There are a few different theories to determining who is liable, they are:

  • Comparative Negligence

In states with comparative negligence, you are allowed to seek compensation even if you are determined to be at fault. Damage is determined in proportion to responsibility. In other words, if you are deemed to be at 70% at fault for the accident, you will be held liable for 70% of the damages, while the other driver to cover the remaining 30%.

  • Modified Comparative Negligence

In states with modified comparative negligence, your ability to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance is limited.

  • Contributory Negligence/Pure Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is the strictest of the three. In states with contributory negligence, a driver must be determined to have no-fault in an accident to receive compensation. A good example of this is if someone side swipes a legally parked car. Since the car was parked legally, the driver cannot be placed at blame for being hit.

Determining Fault

After a car accident, there are a few things you should do. First of all, make sure everyone involved is medically okay. If not, call an ambulance immediately. Then you should begin to gather evidence. Evidence can be anything from pictures of the accident, to witness reports, and even a copy of the police report. When you are discussing the accident with authorities, it is important that you do not admit fault. At the end of the day, the police report has the last word. It will be considered the most important document.

What is a brain injury?

What is a Brain Injury?

Brain injuries can be life altering events. They can lead have long-term effects like a loss of cognitive abilities or debilitating headaches. By definition, a brain injury is an injury to the brain that is not from illness or disease. In other words, a brain injury can be caused by a blow to the head or by non-traumatic experience, like a stroke. In order to sue for a brain injury, the injury must be caused by another person’s negligence. Proving negligence can be easier in the case of a traumatic brain injury, than a non traumatic brain injury.

Two Types of Brain Injuries

There are two types of brain injuries. Traumatic Brain injuries are a brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head. This can be the result of a car accident, fall, assault, or any other experience that causes you to hit your head.

A non traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain that is suffered by something other than a blow to the head. This “something” can be lead poisoning, an electric shock, a stroke, a seizure, or anything of that matter. Both of these injuries can be caused by the negligence of another person or by the individual who suffered the injury.

Can I Sue for a Brain Injury

The simple answer is yes, you can sue for a traumatic brain injury or a non traumatic brain injury. The injury must be caused by the negligent or reckless behavior of an individual. For example, if you are driving and are hit by a drunk driver, causing your head to bang against the windshield, you may be entitled to compensation. The trauma of hitting your head caused the brain injury, which can lead to further issues down the road.

An example of a non traumatic brain injury is if you have a brain tumor that goes misdiagnosed or unnoticed by a medical professional. While you might have been able to regain full functionality if the tumor was removed, the medical professional was negligent causing the tumor to do further damage to your brain.    

Consider Contacting a Brain Injury Attorney

Both of these cases are considered personal injury lawsuits. If you have suffered a brain injury due to the negligence or reckless behavior of another individual, you should consult with an experienced brain injury attorney right away. You may be entitled to compensation for the medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses you have suffered.

What Is Modus Operandi?

While watching your favorite crime drama on television such as CSI or Law & Order SVU, you might hear your favorite detectives tossing the phrase “M.O.” around. But what exactly does this mean?

Modus operandi is a Latin phrase which translated means “operation method”.  This phrase usually refers to a distinct pattern and/or a particular way of working for a criminal when they are committing a crime. Regardless of the crime, whether it be a burglary, sexual assault or even a white-collar crime like embezzling, the criminal performs the crime in a particular way.

This is not to be confused with a criminal’s “signature”. A signature is a personal mark or imprint after the crime is committed.  All crimes have a modus operandi, but not necessarily a signature because a signature is not required to commit a crime but rather serves as a psychological or emotional need for the criminal.

This is also different than the motive of the crime. The motive of a crime is the reason as to why the crime is being committed not the way in which it was perpetrated.

An M.O. can be something simple such as he preferred to shoot the victims with a gun to something very complex like Jeffrey Dahmer’s modus operandi:

  1. He would frequent gay bars waiting for the opportunity for a victim to appear
  2. He would get intoxicated
  3. He would invite an unsuspecting male back to his abode (for various reasons)
  4. Once at their apartment, he would mix a drink with sleeping pills which would make the victim unconscious in a half hour.
  5. He would begin having sex with the victim before and/or after they were unconscious
  6. Once drugged, he would strangle the victim causing their death
  7. Once dead, he would continue to have sex with the body in various ways
  8. He would take pictures of the dead body.
  9. He would dismember his victims (continuing to take pictures along the way)
  10. He would dissolve the body with acids and flush it down the toilet

Many police and detectives rely on the M.O. to help connect crimes that might at first glance appear to not related because their victims might be of different ages or in different geographical locations.

What Is Child Support?

By definition, child support is court-ordered payments, typically made by the non-custodial divorced parent, to support one’s minor child or children. In other words, child support is a payment made by the parent that has the minority custody of the child to the parent that has the majority custody of the child. The purpose of child support is to dampen the economic impact of a divorce. Child support is also used to improve the standard of living of the custodial household, which should improve the lives of the children. In order for child support to be ordered by a judge, the child must have a genetic relationship or be adopted by the parents receiving the divorce. Even if the child was financially dependent on a step-parent, the step-parent is not held responsible to pay child support in the event of a divorce, unless there is a legal adoption by that step-parent.

Who Pays Child Support?

Child support is a payment ordered by the court that is made from one parent of the child to the other parent. The parent that does not have sole or primary custody of the child will be ordered to make payments to the parent that is responsible for the child. Child support is put in place to maintain the upkeep and care of the child. It also takes a great deal of economic stress off of the parent that has sole or primary care of the child.

How is Child Support Determined?

There are a variety of factors that a judge will take into consideration when determining how much child support will be paid. Some factors are the number of children involved, the income of each parent, and the earning potential of each parent. If joint custody of the child is ordered, another factor will come into play. The amount of time the child spends with the non-custodial parent will play a role in determining how much child support will be ordered. This plays a role because, in theory, if the child is spending a lot of time with the non-custodial parent, they are already incurring expenses while they are spending time with the child.

What Does Child Support Cover?

Child support is intended to assist in the financial responsibility that comes along with having a child. It is not just for the child’s basic needs, but it is intended to be used for expenses like entertainment, medical, education, extracurricular activities and more. The guidelines for what child support should be used for vary greatly from state to state. Some of the general items ha child support is intended to cover are:

  • Basic Necessities: Food, clothing, shelter
  • Medical care
  • Uninsured medical expenses
  • Educational fees
  • Childcare
  • Transportation/Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Extracurricular activities
  • College expenses

When determining child support, the court will take into consideration the essential financial needs that are required to cover the child’s activities. In the event that a child’s needs change or there is a significant change in the parent’s situation, it may be necessary for a modification of the existing child support. Contact a child support lawyer in your area.               

What Is The Definition Of Probate?

There’s no wrong time to think about what should be done with your assets in the unfortunate event of your death, and doing so as soon as possible can relieve a great deal of the stress–and financial burden–thrust upon your family if the worst should happen. If you’ve already done this planning, then that’s great–but that’s not what probate is. So what exactly is probate, and how is it used to facilitate the transfer of wealth from person to person?

You might have heard of estate planning, which is essentially the aforementioned planning stage. It takes place before the worst happens, while the probate process takes place after. The process can be quick and painless over a few months, or it can be a gruelingly slow process that takes place over years. If estate planning has already been done, then chances are probate will be streamlined. If not, then your family is in for the long haul if they’d like to see your assets divided fairly among potential heirs.

There are a number of things you might want to know about the probate process for future reference. First and foremost, you’ll often hear all about the estate tax. It’s been in the news a lot in 2017 because a key part of the initial Republican tax reform plan was the axing of this tax. Most people who draw up a last will and testament need not worry about the estate tax. In order for this tax to be administered, your assets need to add up to over $5,450,000. If you’re married, the figure is doubled.

As part of the planning process, you will designate an executor. This person retains a responsibility to divide and transfer your assets in the way you intended. If you died without a plan in place, then these responsibilities instead fall to an administrator.

During the probate process, you may hear a number of words with which you’re unfamiliar. The “testator” is a term for the person whose will is to be executed. In the case that no will had been drafted by the deceased, that person died “intestate.”

If you’re studying up on these subjects, then you might often hear about a number of other practice areas that fall under this umbrella of the law. Tax law is a given. If you own a large estate, then tax law is an important subject to cover with your estate planning lawyer. Elder law governs how the needs of an estate and testator might change as clients age. If you hold assets in real estate, then these laws come into play as well.

If you’re an heir about to receive an inheritance, it’s essential you know these definitions. If you’re in the process of planning for the distribution of your own estate, then you will need to find an estate planning lawyer who is qualified to discuss these matters with you and the designated executor when the time comes. Estate planning and estate administration are technically separate practice areas within the law, but lawyers often practice both because of how fluent they’re required to be in both anyway.

What Does Quid Pro Quo Actually Mean?

It is likely that at some point you have heard someone say “quid pro quo” and wondered exactly what they are talking about. Sometimes it can be used to help settle negotiations and arguments while other times it can incite one. So, what is the big deal about?

Well, the term can be translated a couple of different ways. Essentially, it means this for that. It is part of a negotiation process that gives both sides of the issue what they want. Of course, those who are not friendly to negotiations don’t always accept this line of thinking and might even be offended that they are expected to provide anything in return. These are the instances where things go wrong.

However, for most people, it is a very reasonable expression that can apply to many different situations. If someone wants to borrow something from you, it might be your opportunity to ask for something in return that you have wanted a long time. For instance, you will go to the football game with your wife if she will attend the hockey game with you.

Of course, these are just some small personal examples. The concept is used on a much grander scale during business negotiations. For generations, it is part of the system that has helped nations, individuals, corporations and virtually every other type of groups to get along well.

Now that you understand a bit more about quid pro quo and what it means, you will better understand conversations around you. Remember that it always pays to expand your vocabulary and practice helps to set new words in your mind. Find a new way to use the term every day for a week, and you will set it in your memory to access the rest of your life.

What Does Sanction Mean?

If you’re paying attention to international news at all lately, you’re probably well aware of the growing conflict between the United States and North Korea – specifically their intercontinental ballistic missile program which rumors toward the possibility of implementing nuclear materials. Through all the discussions, however, you also may have heard of the word “sanctions,” and you may or may not necessarily be aware of what that word means or implies for the world stage.

Merriam-Webster lists quite a few meanings for the word. However, in terms of international relations, the term “sanction” means the following:

Sanction (n) – an economic or military coercive measure adopted usually by several nations in concert for forcing a nation violating international law to desist or yield to adjudication

Basically, it means a bunch of countries gang up on one or two other countries using political, economic or military pressure to try to convince them to stop doing bad stuff – kind of like what’s happening with the North Korea situation right now.

Particularly used these days are economic sanctions, which imposes restrictions on international commerce between the target country and whichever countries are involved with the sanctions in the first place. As an example, the United States has imposed (or encouraged through other entities such as China or the United Nations) economic sanctions on North Korea in an effort to dissuade them from continuing testing within their missile and nuclear programs. Some of the particulars involving these sanctions include:

  • United Nations’ complete ban on all major North Korean exports, including coal, iron, lead, and seafood
  • Restrictions on imports of oil and energy resources as well as textiles from China into North Korea

The general concern for the country in question is usually one of economic consequence that forces the country to reconsider the course of action they are taking for the sake of avoiding a collapse of their economy. In the case of North Korea, however, the economy doesn’t seem to suffer too badly at the moment – at least, not to the point of discouraging such behavior or effort put into these programs. As Justin Hastings writes, North Korea appears to have adapted to the economic pressure in a number of surprising ways.

Other types of sanctions besides those resorting to economic sanctions include diplomatic and military sanctions, which essentially are what they sound like. Diplomatic sanctions generally impose a lack of communication between world leaders or the governments in general through canceled visits by high-ranking officials or the expulsion of diplomatic staffing. Military sanctions, while possibly inclusive of actual military action, differentiate themselves from wars through tactical, precise military strikes to disable a country’s military capabilities rather than destabilize the nation as a whole and prime it for occupation or liberation, whichever the case may be. More often than not, however, military sanctions themselves are less cumbersome than actual military courses of action. They tend toward resolutions similar to that of economic sanctions in that they impose restrictions on arms and weapons to the country in question.

The whole purpose in general for effective sanctions is to come to a relatively peaceful resolution to issues that rule the international stage, even if by attempts that seem akin to intimidation tactics such as threatening one’s economy or military capabilities, or by establishing less-than-ideal relations with other countries. While this may be considered similar to a tactic such as “muscling the pot” in a one-sided poker game, it is generally seen as a favorable alternative to military action where countless lives could potentially be lost as a result, and it better exemplifies unity of opinion and policy on the world stage.

Written by Timothy Abeel

Bankruptcy And The Means Test

If your debts are larger than your assets and the stress of having the debt is interfering with your ability to enjoy your life, you might want to consider filing for bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy you can legally eliminate your debts and you can get on with your life again. Once you finish a means test you will know whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, according to cramplawfirm.com.

If your income is low enough, you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy which will wipe out all your debt and you won’t have to pay any of it back. If you have a large asset like a lot of equity in a house or a very expensive car, you might have to sell it if the value exceeds your bankruptcy exemption amount.

You get to keep a certain amount of assets and equity in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and whatever exceeds the amount you can keep you have to sell. If you have a higher income and you have assets that you want to keep, you will want to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. With this type of bankruptcy you have to pay a portion of your debt back over a period of several years.

Once you file for bankruptcy, your debtors have to stop harassing you. If a creditor has filed a lawsuit against you, they cannot proceed with the lawsuit either. The means test is very important because if your income is more than the median income of the state you live in, the judge could dismiss your case which will put you back on the hook for all the debt you owe.

You might want to consider hiring a bankruptcy lawyer to make sure that you do everything right. If you try to fill out the paperwork yourself and make a mistake, you could end up delaying the process or you might have to start all over again. When your bankruptcy protection is lifted, the creditors can start calling you and threatening you again. Getting the paperwork done right the first time is crucial.

When you are planning on filing for bankruptcy, you have to start with the means test so you know what type of bankruptcy you are eligible for. Bankruptcy provides you with a legal way to start over and it makes sense if your debt is out of control.