A Guide To Worker’s Compensation Settlements

In some cases, you may have the option of getting a settlement from your worker’s compensation insurance company rather than going to trial. Here is a guide to evaluating this option.

Pros and Cons of a Settlement

The settlement is a good idea if you feel that you won’t have a strong worker’s compensation case when going to trial. If your injuries aren’t severe, a judge might classify the injury as deserving of even less money than what the insurance company claimed. But in most cases, going to trial can help raise your monthly payments or the lump sum offered by insurance. This is because the insurance company may set low limits on payouts out of self interest, while a judge is more impartial in assessing the damages owed.

Evaluating the Form of a Settlement

A worker’s comp settlement can be either in the form of weekly payments or a lump sum. Make sure that the company offers you a payment in the form you prefer. With a lump sum, it will help you afford more expensive items upfront, such as a home to keep you off the street. You could also invest the money and end up with a larger sum as time goes on. But, a lump sum can also be dangerous if you’re coping with a long term disability. If the money disappears and you are unable to work, it could spell trouble. In that regard, a weekly or monthly check is a safer bet.

Does the Settlement Include Medical Costs?

Another thing to consider is whether your lump sum accounts for any future medical treatments that are related to your injury. In some cases, a lump sum settlement would prohibit you from going after the company for future medical expenses. Avoid this if you are unsure of the prognosis of the injury or you may need expensive treatments in the future.

Speaking With a Workers Compensation Attorney Helps

When you are undecided on whether to pursue a higher sum by going to trial, it helps to speak with a workers compensation attorney. They can help you evaluate the settlement you were offered, based on comparison with past clients. Depending on the severity of your injury, the total medical costs, and the amount of time that you will be disabled, the lawyer can give you a fairly accurate estimate of whether the judge will evaluate your case in a favorable light. And, should you go to trial, your lawyer will be your spokesperson to help you get the highest payout possible.

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Not of Sound Mind: Challenging The Testamentary Capacity of a Will’s Author

For a will to be considered a valid document, several requirements must be in place. One of the most essential of these requirements, upon which the remainder of the will depends, is the necessity of the will’s author having possessed a sound mind at the time of its drafting. This requirement is known as testamentary capacity, and without it, the assumption is that a will’s author lacked the capacity of mind to accurately express their intentions to leave property to heirs. In cases where would-be heirs feel deprived of property they believe should have otherwise been inherited, it is common to challenge the testamentary capacity of the will’s author.

Challenging testamentary capacity can be difficult, as the default assumption of the courts is that adult authors of a will possess a sound mind. That means the burden of proof belongs to the challenger; to convince a court the author of a will did not have testamentary capacity, the following elements will need to be shown to be true at the time of the will’s drafting.

1. The author of the will did not understand what property they owned, nor were they aware of its real value. If substantial portions of the author’s property are not mentioned in a will, then doubt may exist about their cognitive abilities.

2. The author of the will was not able to identify their descendants or other relatives. Memory lapses are probably not sufficient in and of themselves to used to deny testamentary capacity, but a genuine inability to recognize potential heirs is problematic.

3. The author of the will did not realize the will would distribute their property upon their death. If the will was written, but there was no recognition upon the part of the writer that it would be a document of distribution, then there are grounds to challenge testamentary capacity.

4. The author of the will did not propose a rational, clear means for distributing the property. Nonsensical wills that do not have an understandable plan for dividing property and passing it on to heirs may indicate that testamentary capacity is lacking.

Challenging testamentary capacity is not a simple matter, and it requires the assistance of an attorney to prepare a case. Other individuals may need to be involved, such as investigators, in order to establish grounds for denial of testamentary capacity. Your attorney will be responsible for making such arrangements and providing counsel to you during the process.

Talk to a firm such as Donald B Linsky & Associate Pa to get started. 

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Hotel Employees Are at a Unique Risk for Sexual Assault: What Can You Do to Recover from Your Injuries?

Hotel employees are not safe from sexual assaults, and they know it. If you’re a hotel employee, what can you do if you fall victim? What can you expect from your employer in terms of compensation and protection from future assaults? Here’s what you should know.

Sexual assault is all too common among hotel employees.

Nobody seems to be exactly sure how common sexual assault is when it comes to hotel employees, but everyone agrees that it’s common enough that the story of a maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of assault sounded legitimate. While that case collapsed under credibility issues, experts say that housekeepers frequently have to deal with sexual assault and harassment while they’re on the job. Worse, the assaults and harassment may not only come from guests but from their own co-workers as well.

You are usually covered under workers compensation rules for assaults on the job.

Generally speaking, if you are sexually assaulted while on the job, you’re entitled to workers compensation benefits for your injuries. Any physical injuries would be covered automatically. Psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), might be a little more difficult to claim, depending on the laws in your state. Some state laws require a physical injury to “back up” the mental diagnosis, while others don’t. That makes it important to have a rape kit done, if applicable, and photos taken of any bruises, no matter how slight, you may have suffered in connection with your claim. That can make it easier to convince an insurer to cover your mental health damages and therapy bills down the line.

Workers compensation may not be your exclusive remedy.

Workers comp is designed to keep claims out of courts, so it is often the exclusive remedy for an on-the-job injury—unless you can prove gross negligence on the part of your employer or that the action of an employee was intentional and personal in nature. That means that you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit, which often pays more and can award things like punitive damages or fines against your attacker.

Taking extra security measures can prevent future attacks.

Because of the nature of the work, too many hotel employees—which are largely staffed by women, although some males also work in the industry and can also end up victims—are put in the position of being alone in the rooms with their aggressors. Being asked to deliver extra towels, sheets, or a tray of food can be a set-up for an assault. Similarly, cleaning staff members are often alone while they work, making them easy targets for co-workers to sexually assault them.

Many hotels are aware of the problem but don’t put protective measures in place that could prevent the incidents:

  • having staff members always work in twos
  • having a security guard whose job is to look after hotel staff and prevent such assaults
  • making sure that the alleged victim doesn’t have to come in contact with the alleged assailant again 
  • banning any known sexual predators from renting

In addition, your employer owes you a certain responsibility to look into the background of the employees he or she hires. If he or she hired an employee who had previous charges filed against him or her or knew that other employees had reported sexual harassment or assault problems with the same employee in the past, your employer may be guilty of negligent hiring practices. This could also give you a way around the limitations imposed by workers comp.

If you were sexually assaulted by a hotel guest or co-worker, take steps to preserve any evidence that you can, and talk to an attorney like Prediletto, Halpin, Scharnikow & Nelson, P.S. to discuss whether or not your case is likely to be limited to workers comp or if you can file a civil injury claim as well.

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Think You’re A Law-Abiding Citizen? You May Still Be At Risk For Being Charged As A Criminal

You believe you are a pretty good citizen, avoiding things you know will just get you in trouble and even steering clear of anything you think is remotely resembling breaking a law. However, every year, well-meaning citizens get charged with crimes, and it is often a total shocker to the person involved.

The fact is, the legal system is complex, often changing from state to state, and the laws are ever changing or under revision. Therefore, it can be a whole lot easier than you suspect to end up facing a criminal charge and needing a defense attorney. Here are a few examples of things you should avoid if you want to avoid getting charged with a crime. 

Be careful about getting lost in the wilderness. 

If you like to hit wilderness trails on your ATV, motorbike, or snowmobile, be careful that you don’t veer too far off the beaten path and end up somewhere you shouldn’t be. In 1996, Bobby Unser got lost on a snowmobile with a friend in Colorado due to a blizzard and was later charged with misdemeanor charges because of the Wilderness Act. The Wilderness Act makes it a punishable crime to take any type of motor vehicle in designated wildlife preservation areas or certain parts of national forests. 

Make sure you don’t inadvertently support terrorism. 

If you set up a website online and create links to other websites where users can find more information, and one of the suggested sites happens to be linked to or associated with a terrorist organization by accident, you could be charged with providing support in material form to terrorists, which is a federally punishable crime. There have been several cases in which website developers have been charged with terrorist-supporting crimes, which is a charge that takes a good criminal defense lawyer to argue your case. So no matter what, make sure you are extremely cautious when it comes to setting up a website or providing website services online. 

Take heed when it comes to destroying someone else’s illegal items. 

Pretend for a moment that you share a home with several other roommates. You come across a bag of cocaine and decide the best thing to do is flush it and get it out of the house. While your intentions may be good, as you are essentially just trying to get rid of the illegal substance, just doing this could interfere with a DEA investigation if it has already begun and get you charged with obstruction of justice or tampering with physical evidence. As much as you may not want to be a rat, it is best to turn in what you find or leave it alone and file a report with the authorities. 

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A Few Worker Compensation Myths Dispelled

For many individuals, the thought of filing a worker’s compensation claim can be somewhat overwhelming. However, this type of protection can be essential for preventing the financial consequences of a workplace injury from devastating your life. To help you better evaluate your options following a workplace injury, you may want to have a few of the more common myths about these insurance claims.

Myth: You Will Be Fired For Attempting To File A Worker’s Compensation Claim

There is a common fear among some individuals that their employer will attempt to retaliate against them for filing a worker’s compensation claim. However, you should be relieved to learn that it is illegal for a business to retaliate against a person for filing this type of claim. If your employer were to fire you or otherwise punish you for this filing, you would be able to file a lawsuit against the business while also pursuing your worker’s compensation claim.

Myth: You Will Have Total Control Over The Doctor That Treats Your Injuries

If your worker’s compensation claim is approved, you may be under the impression that you will be able to choose your doctor. However, this is not actually the case, and the insurance can actually dictate which doctor will treat your injuries. In cases where the injuries are severe enough to require long-term or ongoing care, you may be able to petition the courts to allow you to choose your own doctor.

Myth: You Will Have To Go Without Pay While You Are Being Treated

Fear of going for protracted periods of time without pay can be another reason for some individuals to avoid filing for these benefits. Fortunately, these claims will provide you with at least partial wages while you are recovering from your injury. Also, when you are healed enough to resume light work, it is required for your employer to make a position available for you during this phase or they will be required to pay you the full wage that you would normally earn. This will allow you to feel less stress over the financial concerns that can follow these injuries, which can help you to focus on your recovery.

If you have suffered an injury as a result of your job, it is critical for you to be fairly well-informed about worker’s compensation benefits. By knowing that your employer cannot retaliate against you for these claims, that the insurance will choose the doctor and that you will receive partial pay during your recovery, you will find yourself better prepared to make sound choices for protecting your rights following these accidents. For more information, contact firms like Hoffman, Hamer & Associates, PLLC. 

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Help! How Do You Report Suspected Child Abuse?

If you see signs of abuse or suspect the neglect of the child, you want to do everything possible to keep that child safe. Reporting the people responsible for the abuse/neglect is an important step. Here’s what you need to do to protect the child.

Alert the Parents

Not all abuse is from parents, but from other family members. Where this is the case, talk to the parents and alert them of the problem. The parents may not be aware of the abuse. After alerting the parents, given them time to handle the situation. If you feel the parents are not taking the situation seriously, then you should take action.

It may help to have some proof when you do this. If the child abuse is by another family member or a new partner, the parents may not want to believe you without proof. When parents refuse to do anything or when it is the parents potentially abusing their child, you will need to report to your local child welfare authority. This will most likely be the local social services department.

Keep in mind, you need to be certain the abuse is not the parents. For obvious reasons, you should not talk to the parents about the abuse if the parents are the abuser as this could make the situation worse.

Remain Detailed

Whether discussing with the parents or reporting to child services, being as detailed as possible will help. The behavior needs to be neglectful or harming the child in some way: mentally, emotionally, or physically.

You don’t need to prove neglect, especially when reporting to social services. The details will help social services know the type of things to look out for during a visit. Details alert social services to potential similar situations to consider when visiting.

Continue to Report

Social services may not have enough to act at first. Whenever you see something abusive, contact social services again and keep giving information. As alerts build up, the experts will be able to delve further into the life of the child.

Avoid getting angry with those you are reporting the situation to. They can’t do anything themselves and won’t be able to answer all of your questions. Most of the time, they won’t be able to tell you if visits have occurred or if action is being taken.

Calling the Police

When the abuse is clear and in front of you, you may feel like this is an emergency situation. Contact 911 to get the police involved, again, being as detailed as possible. The dispatcher will need to know where you are. Remain at the scene, as you will need to give a statement to help the welfare of the child.

It is possible to report child abuse anonymously if you wish. This won’t affect the case, but it can make it harder for witness statements should something go to court. Be aware of this, so you can do the best thing for the child involved. For more information, talk to a professional like Nelson, McPherson Summers & Santos LC.

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Are You a Father Who Wants Custodial Rights but Isn’t Married to Your Child’s Mother? Three Tips That Can Help

If you are a father who has just ended a long-term relationship with the mother of your child, you might still want some kind of custody. This can be a challenge if you were never married to the child’s mother, but there are still steps you can take to earn custody. These tips may help.

Prove You’re the Father

Even if your name is on your child’s birth certificate, the first thing you’ll need to do is to prove to the presiding judge that you are the biological father. This can be done relatively easily by submitting yourself to a paternity test. You might feel somewhat insulted to have to prove paternity, but without doing so, it will be very hard, if not impossible, to proceed. Once the test is completed, you can then move on to other matters.

Write in a Diary

You may think that diaries are only for teenage girls, but the truth is that a journal or diary of your time with your child can be helpful to the judge when he or she is figuring out custodial matters. Do you take your child shopping for clothing? Do you take them to sports practice? Do you take them to the dentist? Keep a record of the things that you do with your child throughout the month. This proves that you are an integral part of the child’s life and that you should have the right to see them regularly, if not most of the time.

Keep track of different receipts too. It can be good for your case to show the judge how much money you’re spending to care for your child and ensure that they have everything they need.

Avoid Relying on Informal Agreements

The mother of your child may currently seem reasonable enough about your rights to visitation and co-parenting, but she may change her mind or want to make adjustments without regard to your feelings later. If you want to be sure that your rights are protected, it is essential to have a formal, legal agreement in place that can’t be changed according to personal whims. Therefore, be certain that the judge handles all custodial matters instead of assuming the child’s mother will do the right thing.

When you have used the information above, you will have put yourself in a better position to earn custody of your child. Consult a family lawyer such as John Alegria Attorney at Law, and try to find someone with experience representing fathers so that you can be sure you’re doing everything you can.

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