Should I hire an attorney?
Getting injured in an automobile accident, divorced, foreclosed, arrested, and numerous other regular aspects of life present the question-should I hire an attorney. Typically, consultations are being offered for free in many areas of the law. So why not get a consultation or two from a qualified attorney. Lawyers are required to answer questions about their qualifications and experience, so don’t hesitate. Oftentimes, certain issues in life are not severe. Small fender benders, divorces without children or property, bankruptcy with few assets or debts are oftentimes matters that some non-lawyers can successfully handle. Other times, the results can be very devastating. So go alone with extreme caution.
What to do if I am in an automobile accident?
First, secure yourself and loved ones. Safety is first and foremost. The initial accident might produce other accidents with other vehicles.
a. Safety. After securing yourself, there is no hard and fast rule about what to do next. Is the vehicle that you are involved in the accident fleeing? Is there an urgent safety issue that you might want to explore? Trying to save someone else, might result in you getting seriously injured or even sued (if you somehow or another take action that is negligent, even if it was your best intention). These issues require split second judgment and you really need to decide for yourself how to proceed during the initial moments when certain things are taking place rapidly. Do you want to risk your life saving someone you don’t know. Only you can decide.
b. Locate, secure, and pull out the cellphone. Once you can, getting the cellphone would be top of the list, particularly if your phone has a camera and/or video capabilities If the other vehicle is fleeing away, you might want to either snap the photo or enter the license plate number and/or vehicle description.
c. Report accident to 911 as soon as possible. If you have flares or other warning lights, you might want to place them around the scene to try and alert other vehicles.
d. Photograph anything that you think is important as soon as possible, including the point of impact on all vehicles involved, the vehicles’ landing spot, damage to the vehicles both inside and outside, deployed air bags, cracked windows, and anything you think might be important (including the passengers in the other vehicle). Take several photographs from several angles. I suggest photographing the surrounding areas, to show the location. If you think that there might have been something about the road or the area that caused/contributed to the accident scene (like construction, trees blocking a stop sign, or malfunctioning lights), you should photograph or document those items. Any photograph that helps in any way demonstrate the cause of the accident might want to be taken.
e. Fault. If you are at fault, you will have to decide whether to take photographs or not, as the photographs might help save you substantial money or might demonstrate the extent of the damage to the other individual(s). There is no hard and fast rule and common sense should dictate what you do.
f. Photograph bodily injuries. If you or others are injured, cut, bleeding, or have abrasions immediately after the accident, take good quality photographs of the effected areas. Any visible injuries that show up a day or so later, including swelling should also be photographed properly.
g. Other driver(s).Whether and when you speak with the other driver is your decision. Courtesy and concern might go a long way toward resolving whatever issues might arise. If you do speak with the other driver, don’t be so quick to admit fault, note the amount of passengers and try and determine any damage to the other vehicle, inside or outside. You might want to video items, including comments made by the other driver or the others in the other vehicle.
h. Speak with police. Make sure they understand your story but don’t interfere with the officer’s duties to investigate. What you say with the officer at the accident scene is privileged. If there are inaccuracies with accident reports, like-a passenger was not listed, you must take the proper steps to get the accident report fixed.
i. When to speak with an attorney. If it was me, I’d call one as soon as I could from the accident scene to get proper advise. If the accident is significant (for example, a roll over or a severe injury), the attorney might come to the scene as well to begin investigating and preserving any evidence.
j. Medical treatment. Some people feel the need to go to an emergency room following the accident. This decision is something that you need to make on your own. The ER might result in a long wait, a quick evaluation by a nurse, physician’s assistant, or other non-Medical Doctor. Most likely, Xrays will be taken and the hospital will release you with some pain medications, splints, or other small types of treatment. Some people choose not to go to the ER. Oftentimes, the pain from an injury does not come about for a day or two. If you have Personal Injury Protection insurance, you can get some treatment at accident clinics, or other medical providers. However, you need to present yourself to these medical providers within 2 weeks of the accident, or you might lose coverage.
k. Ticket. What if you get cited but you feel that the other side was at fault or partially to blame or something else caused or contributed the accident. There are many qualified traffic ticket attorneys. You should get a consultation with one of them to see what, if any action, you should take regarding your ticket.
l. Insurance issues, including repairing vehicle and towing vehicle away. You should report the accident to your insurance company immediately. They might be able to help get your vehicle towed and start dealing with the damage to your vehicle. Whether you vehicle is declared a total loss or whether your insurance company will pay for the damage to your vehicles, are items which handled typically in a fair fashion. Careful not to leave your vehicle at another location without knowing whether you will be required to pay for the storage.
Should I pay for insurance when I rent a car?
A rather tricky answer that requires that you know what your insurance coverage covers, what your credit card covers and requires, and other items. To get an indepth video analysis, including how to review your own insurance coverage, please check out my website for my short series on this discussion that few people seem to know at the moment of truth.
Do I need a written contract to have a legally enforceable contract?
The laws on contracts are governed by each State. In Florida, a contract does not need to be in writing for it to be enforceable. As long as the requirements for a contract are in place, generally there need not be something in writing to make the agreement enforceable. Certain contracts do need to be in writing. For example, a promise to pay a debt barred by the statute of limitations needs to be in writing. Additionally, certain agreements that take longer than one year to perform also need to be in writing. If you do not have the contract in writing, this might present you with a problem if you need to go to court to enforce the contract. First and foremost, how are you going to prove what the terms are if there are not in writing. So while many find that the hand shake is their preferred method, you might want to think about such approach for every situation. Also, just because you do have a contract in writing does not mean that the way it is written will support your position regarding what you think the contract means. There are many other issues that arise in the context of forming an agreement with someone/thing and my recommendation is to get a competent attorney to guide you along the way.
What should I do if I am disabled and cannot get access to a governmental program, facility, service or into a privately owned building?
If you are denied access, you should immediately try and rectify the problem. Many governments or large employers have people that are responsible for handling these types of issues. Oftentimes, they are called ADA Coordinators. Try and see if the ADA Coordinator will make the necessary accommodation to enable you to have access to whatever is accessible to the non-disabled. If the problem is large enough, most States and the Federal Government have agencies that can help. The United States Department of Justice has a division that will accept complaints for civil rights violations, such as the rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the problem is big enough, you might want to consult with a private attorney to get more attention.
Do I need to follow the non-compete agreement? What should I do if I fall in a store or a building and get hurt?