During the 1990s, a new term increasingly became fashionable within the ranks of legal practitioners. The term is elder law, and it refers to the legal representation of individuals who are older members of society.
Although there is no fixed date at which a person becomes “old” (retirement age in many companies is sixty-five or seventy; membership in the American Association of Retired Persons – AARP – is available to individuals at fifty-five), there is a rough sense that sometime during this period people cross the threshold from being middle-aged to elderly.
People reach a time in life where their children have grown up and moved away (the so-called “empty-nesters”) and they can think about more leisure time, retirement, and baby-sitting grandchildren. They are likely to contemplate the necessity of disposing of their worldly possessions after they die.
It should not be surprising, then, that the legal concerns of older citizens would be different from those of younger people.
Three specific factors contribute to the rise of elder law issues today. First, actuarially, people are living longer now than ever before. Advances in medical science, changes in eating habits and lifestyles, and economic prosperity have all combined to push life expectancies in the United States well into the seventies.
In fact, someone who has survived the mortality risks of childhood and youth can expect to live well beyond eighty. Second, the baby boomers are getting old.
The same post-World War II bulge in population that swelled the elementary schools in the 1950s, graduate schools in the 1970s, and the workforce through the 1950s will swell the ranks of older citizens for the first part of the twenty-first century.
Third, these relatively healthy aging baby boomers are predicted to lead lifestyles very different from those of their grandparents. They will have leisure time and money to spend. When they have problems, whether medical or political, they will be proactive in forging solutions.
They will, as they always have, turn to the law as a vehicle for establishing and protecting their rights.
Elder law is a field that is defined by the clientele rather than the substantive legal problems. In fact, the field is more of an umbrella for many types of substantive practice that are commonly provided for older clients.
It is a buzzword to describe the legal services that elder citizens are likely to require in the areas of estate planning, health law, real estate, Social Security, pensions and retirement, and others.
- Estate Planning. Older individuals contemplating the end of life often seek legal assistance in developing a plan for disposing of their estates. This can be done through a will during the life of the individual.
- Health Law. The fact that older people are statistically more likely to experience health problems means that more of them will have contact with the health care system. As that system changes, and to the extent that lawyers are involved in representing people with health care problems, health law issues will be a major component of elder law.
- Real Estate. Many retired people at some point sell the homes they have lived in and move to retirement communities, small homes, condos, or health-care facilities. Thus, there is a high probability that older people will have one or more experiences with real estate law.
- Social Security. At age sixty-five, most individuals become eligible for Social Security, Medicare, and other government benefits. As with any government system, many people encounter problems getting the right benefits in a timely fashion. Frequently, they require legal assistance.
- Pensions and Retirement. A variety of legal problems are associated with the process of retirement itself. The terms of companies’ retirement policies are not always clear. The timing of retirement is not always agreed upon by employees and their employers. The value of a departing business owner’s equity in the business or succession to leadership is not always clear. The right to manage and control pension-plan assets and benefits may be ambiguous or confusing. These and other issues frequently end up in the hands of lawyers or the courts..
- Other Issues. The elderly also face all of the other legal problems that can be found in society. Sometimes age is a factor in the way those problems are handled. Often the personality of the lawyer – being able to communicate with and relate to older people – is significant. The old as well as the young need to feel that they can trust their lawyers.
In one sense, the denomination elder law is shorthand for saying that a firm or individual lawyer concentrates in or is particularly sensitive to older people and their specific legal needs. Anyone practicing law over the next two decades is likely to encounter elderly clients.
Regardless of whether it is a minor or major aspect of a person’s practice, elder law issues will continue to be an important part of law practice in the United States.
Dealing with an insurer can be challenging in any situations. After a vehicle crash, it can even be scarier to face the duty of presenting all the essential documents to the insurance company and to take part in settlement negotiations. A skilled personal injury lawyer can ease the burden using engaging in information-gathering, collecting the necessary documents, and creating concise and comprehensive demands for your personal injury claims settlement.
Starting a Slip and Fall Injury Claim
After an accident like a slip and fall, the initial actions to take could go a very long way towards protecting your future claim. Just follow the following tips, and you cannot go wrong.
Report The Mishap To The Property Owner
If you are harmed in a slip/fall accident, you ought to immediately report it to the owner of the premises or some individual in charge of the premises. If you’re injured on commercial property, notify the highest-ranking individual that can you find in the property about the accident. If you’re injured on public property and the injury wasn’t that severe to call for emergency responders or the police to arrive at the accident scene, notify the town or city about the mishap as soon as possible.
Though failure to instantly report a slip/fall injury won’t legally restrict you from submitting or filing a case, you shouldn’t wait, particularly if the accident was not witnessed by other people. Insurers and juries question the validity of an accident claim that’s unwitnessed, and that wasn’t reported by the following day at least. Even a several-day delay in the accident reporting can hugely harm a claim. In a few instances, perhaps you will even need to send a letter of notification.
Get The Witnesses’ Names
If there were eyewitnesses to the accident, ensure that you acquire their names as well as contact details. Witnesses can be vital in a slip/fall case.
Take Photos ASAP
If you happen to be in a slip/fall accident, perhaps you won’t be in a mood or condition to collect evidence. But take photos immediately if you can. If you have a smartphone or a camera , take as many photos of the scene of the accident as you can – from different angles – prior to leaving the scene.
If you don’t have a device for taking pictures or cannot physically take any photos after the bodily injury claim, have a relative or friend take photos immediately, and before anybody changes or fixes the accident area. This is particularly vital if you slipped or skidded on snow or ice. The ice and snow’s condition can alter within minutes. Ice melt, or can be cleaned or cleared away. It may be tough to win a case involving snow and ice without photos showing the snow and ice as it was during your injury.
Personal injury can entail mental and physical injuries that take place because of somebody else’s negligence, strict liability, or intentional actions.
Negligence is the term used when the other party was unable to behave with reasonable care. For instance, imagine you’re in your vehicle stopped at a red traffic signal when another driver hits you because they are not paying attention. If you sustained physical injuries in the collision, those are considered personal injury because of negligence. (Any damage to the vehicle is property damage, and not considered personal injury since the vehicle is a thing, not a person.)
Intentional harm means that the other individual planned to harm you, which includes cases of assault, battery, as well as false incarceration.
Strict liability means anybody involved in manufacturing, distributing, or selling of defective merchandise, which can be held liable if the merchandise injures somebody.
There are quite a few common types of personal injuries:
• Motorcycle accidents
• Auto accidents
• Trucking accidents
• Boating accidents
• Slip-and-fall accidents
• Railroad accidents
• Sexual abuse
• Medical and dental accidents
• Work-related accidents
• Injuries that happen because products fail or malfunction
• Dog bites
• Wrongful death
The majority of personal injuries belong to a law category called torts. Torts are a category of civil (not criminal) law. It’s a way in holding somebody else legally liable for the injuries you sustained.
Personal injury cases almost always involve negligence. In order to have a legal case, your car accident attorney should be able to demonstrate that your injury was due to another party’s negligence. To show negligence, your attorney should prove four things:
• Duty of care: The careless party had a duty to behave cautiously to avoid harming the other party
• Breach of duty: The careless party significantly exposed the harmed party to a huge injury risk or did not even realize (but should’ve) that there was risk
• Direct cause: The careless party’s lack of action, or deliberate behaviour, resulted in the injury
• Harm: The harmed party endured a financial loss due to the negligent party’s neglect (for instance, a medical bill would be a financial loss)
In addition, damages are meant to compensate somebody for their injury.
Personal Injury Lawyers Differ in Various States
Tort laws differ from state to state. Now if you have suffered a personal injury, consult an auto accident lawyer who has the experience and skills in your jurisdiction.
Experiences like getting bitten or harmed by a stray dog can’t be avoided. In situations such as this, it is best to protect yourself and exercise your legal rights. If you got bitten and harmed by a dog, or if you happen to witness someone else being hurt, then you should be aware that your state has its particular laws that essentially encourage everybody to act instantly if harmed by an animal. A number of laws even require the killing the dogs that cause injury so as to stop the same incidents from occurring sooner or later. Moreover, you should be aware that dogs don’t normally attack people. They do only when provoked or threatened. Furthermore, attacking may indicate that the animal was attempting to defend itself.
The owner of the dog has a legal responsibility. He is wholly liable for the damages that his dog has inflicted if proven in court particularly if the injured party has sustained severe injuries.
Documents are available that can help you by supporting your case, so you’ll get the compensation that you deserve due to the incident. Try reviewing on local animal sections and see whether the animal that has injured you has had past records of attack.
What Are Your Initial Actions?
• You should note down vital data like the names and contact info of the witnesses of the incident. Importantly, the name, contact number as well as the address of the animal’s owner.
• In court, the witnesses’ stories concerning the incident matter a lot. Their own understanding and version of the event are extremely important. This is even more helpful particularly if the dog’s owner and you get into a dispute. Animal control professionals are there to aid you identify the dog according to your descriptions. In this manner, they’ll be able to contact the owner too.
• If you require immediate action for your injuries, do not delay searching for professional assistance. You need doctors to tend your injuries to avoid further problems from occurring. Furthermore, your hospital bills and documents, and your medical examinations results will act as evidences in court.
Ensure You Preserve Such Important Data
• Once you are attacked, directly report the event to the local authorities. They’ll attempt to get the animal quarantined.
One question that comes into mind every time people inquire about personal injury is – what is personal injury case worth? What’s it worth and how much money is one going to get?
First of all, that would depend on how much insurance coverage is available. As a practical matter, defendants very often either don’t have enough income or assets to make it worth going after them or for whatever reason those are protected. So to most personal injury attorneys, the most important question besides the extent of your injuries and the cause of the accident is how much insurance coverage is available.
They’re going to want to get the defendant’s policy and find out how much coverage is available. There could also be other policies at play including your own uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage. Sometimes people think they don’t when they do and so it is always a good idea to check which many of the lawyers do. Just review the facts to determine what other types of insurance might be in place. In general you get a total amount and that’s going to be an effective cap on what damages are available.
Who Caused The Accident
The next question is whether the cause of the accident is clear. If the other person caused the accident is clearly identified then the next question would be what are your injuries and what are the extent of your injuries. Oftentimes insurance companies will say that you are not injured enough and that your case isn’t a serious case. This is just a lie most of the time and you can always consult your attorney on the matter.
You should always call a lawyer to find out if you really have a strong claim and weather the insurance company is giving you the compensation that you deserve. Sometimes the case really doesn’t justify the work of an attorney but oftentimes your injuries might not be apparent in the beginning or you may just don’t know the extent of them.
Let’s just say that you’ve hurt your neck during the accident. You feel a slight pain over your neck area but you’re not sure whether you should go to a doctor because your body seems fine. But a week later you may find out that the pain on your neck area hasn’t gone or healed.
Under such circumstances, it is important that you reserve any offer that the insurance company might make for your case and call you physician to make a diagnosis of your injury. After that, you need to share the results with your attorney and determine whether you really have a good case.
The Injured Party’s Burden in a Personal Injury Claim
As a personal injury case proceeds to court, the burden of proof will be on the plaintiff or the injured person. He or she must prove the necessary elements of the alleged claim. The defendant or party responsible for the injury does not necessarily have to prove anything under such circumstances.
Within a civil court case, the plaintiff’s burden is not as tough as the prosecutor’s burden in a criminal case.
The plaintiff suing the defendant does not have to prove anything that the defendant do beyond reasonable doubt. The plaintiff on the other hand has to prove beyond the preponderance of the evidence wherein the defendant did as was asserted. So what does this mean? This means that the plaintiff must show that more or less the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
What Must The Plaintiff Prove?
What does the plaintiff have to prove under these circumstances? Well, it depends on the case. Generally, though there exists four important elements of a personal injury claim wherein negligence is involved. They include:
• The defendant owed a certain responsibility towards the plaintiff
• That the duty has been breached
• That such breach has led to the harm, and;
• Injuries were done from which damages will be paid.
Whatever the nature of your case or claim is, it is important to assert that having a good personal injury attorney would make a difference. An experienced personal injury lawyer can advise you and what to do in order to build up your case.
No one can ever completely avoid personal injury situations like being harmed or bitten by dogs. These situations are not rare and may occur to you or to anybody you know any time.
If ever a stray dog got you bitten and hurt, or if ever you saw someone undergoing the same situation, it’s always sensible to take initial actions so as to properly resolve the situation. This will help protect you and your family from such incidents. You must know that each state contains particular set of laws that will guide each concerned citizen on what to do if ever scenarios such as this occur. These laws will motivate victims to take immediate action. A few laws even entail the killing of dogs so as to avoid future incidents from happening. Dogs rarely attack or bite people. They only do so whenever they are provoked.
The dog’s owner has a legal responsibility under such situations. This must be contemplated on especially if the victim has acquired injuries regardless of the seriousness of such injuries.
Local animal control divisions have their own documents for such matters. You should reassess these documents to make sure weather or not the animal that has bitten or harmed you has done this to other people as well. This is a sensible thing to do since checking documents will aid in supporting your case. These documents provide legal proof against the dog. In addition to that, this will help you in having just and fair discussion with the owner of the dog. If evidences would reveal that the animal is undeniably a threat, then the dog’s owner could be penalized. In a number of cases, the judge might even choose to eliminate the dog if necessary.
Initial actions to take:
• Take note of vital information like the names and contact info of the individuals who witnessed the incident. Take note of the personal information of the dog’s owner as well.
• Remember that witnesses are extremely important individuals that will aid you in going through your case. Their stories and recollections of what happened during the incident will help present additional information to the proper authorities. Furthermore, witnesses can hear out in court.
• Do not be reluctant to look for medical help. Your injuries require proper intervention from your doctor. Getting medical assistance will prevent injuries from getting worse. Furthermore, your hospital bill and medical records will be used as supporting papers in helping you win the case.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Rights
The law will protect the rights of your family so you can be protected from dog attacks inside and outside your property. A dog owner is also accountable for certain responsibilities if ever his dog causes harm or injury to others.
There are three important steps that anybody can take in case of a dog attack:
1. Report what happened to the authorities that are capable of handling animals with control issues within your area like the Humane Society, Animal Control Department, Police Department or Dog Warden. Don’t report that the hospital’s report will do anything about your rights to safety. Hospitals will be reporting for purposes such as health statistics and they don’t do animal control enforcement.
2. Work with the animal control authorities in conducting a “dangerous dog hearing.” Such hearings can lead to penalizing of the dog and the dog owner.
3. Talk to a lawyer about setting a civil claim with the dog owner. The claim will inform the landlord or insurance company and penalize the dog or dog owner. A claim may also lead to substantial compensation for you and your child; even past and future medical treatment.
What If The Insurance Company Does Not Want To Settle?
The claim will now become a lawsuit and such lawsuit will be taking up to dog owner’s time. The truth will come out eventually.
Bear in mind that you must not make statements of what happened in the incident until you are assured that the insurance company is willing to cooperate with you.
Usually, it is best to contact a lawyer who is familiar with the cases in order to get the compensation that each victim deserves.