Year: 2015

When Insurance Companies Take Advantage of Christians

About 30 years ago, a distraught, young mother came to us seeking both legal and biblical counsel. Tragically, her two year old son had drowned in a neighbor’s pool when a gate latch failed and allowed the little boy to enter.

Sadly, that was not the end of it. What followed demonstrates why injured Christians should consider seeking legal counsel.

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Increasing Risk of Elder Abuse / Neglect

Elder/Adult abuse is becoming a large problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable citizens in the United States. For the most part, elder abuse is seldom reported and some experts believe that only 1 of every 14 victims actually report abuse to the authorities.

Elder/adult abuse victims generally consist of:

  • Substance abusers
  • Chronically mentally disabled
  • Developmentally disabled
  • Weak elderly
  • Physically impaired

The different types of elder abuse conform to the following:

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Metrolink Train Derails In Oxnard After Colliding With Truck On Tracks

Today a Southern California commuter train slammed into a truck and derailed in a rural area near Oxnard on Tuesday, hospitalizing approximately 30 people, including four in critical condition. (USA Today). “The extent of injuries ranged from significant head trauma and extremity trauma to neck and back injuries and trauma that you’d generally get from being thrown around,” said Steve Caroll, of Ventura County Emergency Medical Services. “We did transport a total of 28 patients, and we have 23 on scene who were not transported who did not complain of any significant injuries.”

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Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage

In today’s economic climate, more drivers are either going without automobile insurance or only purchasing the minimum amount required by law, which is $15,000 liability insurance. That is why it’s important to check your uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage in your automobile policy.

UM covers you, the insured members of your household and your passengers, for bodily/personal injuries, damages or death caused by hit-and-run drivers or at-fault drivers who are uninsured. UM coverage will cover your medical expenses and other damages, up to the limit on your policy.

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LAWSUIT DEADLINES – STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Most lawsuits MUST be filed within a limited amount of time. Once the statute of limitations on a potential case has expired, you do not have a valid legal claim any longer.

The period of time during which you can file a lawsuit depends on the type of legal claim. Here are the statutes of limitations for some common legal matters:

  • Personal injury: Two years from the injury.
  • Medical malpractice: Three years from the date of the injury but shortened to one year from the date of reasonable suspicion when you knew or should have known.
  • Breach of a written contract: Four years from the date the contract was broken.
  • Breach of an oral contract: Two years from the date the contract was broken.
  • Property damage: Three years from the date the damage occurred.
  • Claims against government agencies: You must file a claim with the agency within 6 months of the incident. If the claim is denied, you can then file your lawsuit in court and the regular statute of limitations applies.

Determining the statute of limitations on a claim is not easy. If you have any doubts about how to calculate the time you have, you should talk to an attorney.

Is Your House Safe or an “Accident” Waiting to Happen?

We always refer to incidents as “accidents” when, in actuality, most “accidents” are anything but. With a little care, they could have been prevented. So, what are you doing to make sure your house isn’t an accident waiting to happen?

You ask, “What can you do?” Well, first, you have to know what areas can become problems, and therefore, it might first be a good idea to sit down with your family and make a list. Not only is this good for safety, but it’s also a good way to educate your children, if you have them, and a good time for simple, old fashioned communication – something we seriously lack in this age of technology.

What should the list entail? I would suggest the following areas to discuss and inspect. By all means, this is not an exhaustive list, and feel free to add to it.

Smoke Detectors – Make sure they are operating properly. If they are battery operated, test them and make sure the batteries are replaced regularly. Hard-wired detectors are typically better than battery, but you have to make sure you have a backup in the event the power goes out.

Fire Extinguishers – This is one of the simplest and most cost-effective measures you can take. The extinguishers need to be easily accessible, and you should learn how to operate them before the need arises. I have actually had the occasion to use one in our house when the wire to the propane tank on our grill caught fire. That was a disaster averted. Additionally, you might want to think about stove top extinguishers. These could prevent serious injuries in the event of a stove or oven fire.

Electrical Outlets – We rarely check on these, but in old houses, these can be the cause of major fires. They need to be properly grounded, and if you have any questions, have a licensed electrician come in and evaluate your home. Also, make sure they are not overloaded. In addition, check the wires in your house to all your lamps, appliances, and other electrical items to make sure they are not frayed and fire hazards. You might even consider asking the local fireman to provide you with an inspection.

Light bulbs – They have different watts for a reason. Make sure you have the proper bulbs in your various lamps and lights.

Fire Place – If you have a fireplace and enjoy having fires in your home during winter, make sure you have it inspected and checked out each year. Various chemicals and materials can collect in the flues and chimneys and cause fires, so you want to keep them clean.

Vents/Heaters – If you have ever looked at the tops of your water heaters or the backs of a dryer, you will notice that they begin collecting dust and lent. With gas heaters, fire hazards can be present, and you should clean these regularly to prevent the danger.

Gas Leaks – Another potential problem can arise with these heaters – gas leaks. This can not only lead to fire hazards but also to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you ever smell gas, make sure you have the gas company come out IMMEDIATELY for an inspection. Gas is never anything to play around with.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors – With the above said, it is also a good idea to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home. There has been some controversy over the effectiveness of these detectors, but if you do your research, you can find the best ones for your home. At the very least, it is another level of safety. Make sure you test them regularly, especially if they are battery operated, and just as with smoke detectors, have a backup for them if they are hard wired.

Child Proofing – Make sure you put protection on hard corners of furniture, cover electrical outlets, and put locks on cabinets containing poisonous chemicals. It doesn’t take long for your child to get into trouble, so be prepared. Also, put gates on stairways so they don’t fall down a flight of stairs. A simple gate and locks can avoid trips to the ER.

Heavy Appliances and Furniture – this goes along with child proofing, but make sure your heavy appliances and furniture are not in a place where they can fall over and injure a child, or anyone for that matter. Typically, these types of incidents occur with televisions and shelving.

Stairs – Make sure you keep stairs clear of various items. I am constantly removing my children’s things from the stairways. I can just picture the incident in my mind – step on a golf ball and break my neck, or worse, one of my children doing the same. This is easily avoidable. Also, make sure you check the banister/handrails to ensure they are secure.

Outside Lighting – Make sure the outside of your home has adequate lighting. If bulbs go out, replace them. The last thing you want is family members or visitors tripping and injuring themselves as a result of inadequate lighting.

Outside Maintenance – Walk around your house once or twice a year to make sure there are no dangerous areas. Not only is it good for safety, but it keeps your house maintained for value.

Dead Trees – If you know there is a dead tree on your property, have it removed. Don’t wait for a storm to come by or the wind to blow it over. You don’t want it to damage your neighbor’s home or property or fall and injure someone.

Fences/Dogs – If you own a dog, make sure you abide by all local regulations. It’s a good idea to either have a fence or electrical fence. This is especially true if your dog has a history of aggression or if it is considered a dangerous breed: pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, huskies, Alaskan malamutes, Doberman pinschers, chow chows, presa canarios, boxers, and dalmations are considered the top ten most dangerous breeds based on a study done analyzing the AVMA, CDC, and Humane Society. More importantly, however, is the owner of the dog. Most problem dogs are the ones who are not properly trained.

Evacuation – Have an evacuation plan in the event of a fire or other emergency. Go over it with your family and practice. Make sure children know what to do and where to meet in the event you get separated.

These are just some of the things to think about with respect to home safety. Do some of your own investigation. There are many resources on the internet these days. Don’t leave accidents and injuries to chance. Prevent them by being proactive and not reactive.

-Our colleagues at The Safety Report, Jon Lewis, attorney at Lewis, Feldman & Lehane, LLC

How to Buy a Safe Vehicle: Part 2

In frontal and side impact tests, dummies are measured according to the forces to it’s head, neck, chest and femurs. It is important to compare these crash test scores to get a better understanding of how strong your vehicle is in the event of an accident, including seat belts, air bags and head injury criteria (HIC) for frontal crash protection. The governement established that any HIC score above 1000 is unacceptable in a crash speed up to 30 mph. Howvver, HIC scores are typically shown below 700 (the lower the better). Chest scores that are measured in frontal crashes cannot reach a score over 60g’s. In side impacts, chest scores are measured in a criteria of 85 TTI (d). Fairly safe vehicles give chest scores of about 40g’s and 65 TTI (d).

A “star” rating is often used by the NHTSA and the IIHS, which more stars mean a safer vehicle. For more information on these safety ratings, visit www.safercar.gov/Safety+Ratings.

Since rollovers account for 25% of all fatal accidents, it is important to research the strength of your vehicle’s roof. You can visit http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/ratings-info/roof-strength-test for more information on the strength to weight ratios.

We are at our greatest opportunity to buy a safe vehicle with all of the top-line safety features. Please do your research before deciding to buy a car, and do not let the dealer rush you into buying one without going over all the necessary features. Also, if you have enough money to get a rear view camera, get one!