There are three essential points to consider before you take the step of bringing your case to court in order to collect a debt:

● Determine whether you have a solid case.

● Ask yourself if you can accept the notion of going to mediation or agreeing to a compromise settlement.

● Consider whether you will be able to collect if you win your case.

To decide if your case is worth pursuing, consider the elements that apply to your type of lawsuit. For example, the term “breach of contract” would apply if a contractor you hired did substandard work and the elements discussed below are present.

What you will have to do

In order to succeed, you must prove that the agreement you have with the other party is legally binding, which will not be difficult to do if you have a written contract. If that is lacking, you must show that such a contract is implied by the circumstances of the case, or that an existing oral contract is enforceable. You also have to show that you complied fully with the contract’s terms, such as making your payments in a timely manner.

At the same time, you also have to show that the individual you plan on suing did not comply with those terms, and this is usually the basis for a lawsuit. In addition, you must also establish that because of the other party’s lack of compliance with the contract, you suffered economic hardship. In a case where a contractor’s work has to be completed or redone, this is relatively easy to establish.

Collecting the debt

Next, it is virtually impossible to overstate the significance of your ability to collect when you plan on taking another party to court. Of course, although most reputable people and companies are willing to pay what is owed, this will not be possible if they lack the necessary funds. Note that if your opponent does nothing, the court is not responsible for collections and can provide little assistance.

Generally speaking, if your opponent has valuable assets, including investments or land, or is employed, collection of what is owed to you is relatively easy. In this situation, your local marshal or sheriff can attach their non-exempt property or garnish their wages at your request.

If the other party is a successful business, particularly one receiving cash directly from those who patronize it, you can authorize your local law enforcement agent to collect the amount you are owed. And in many parts of the country, if you sue someone in business who has a state license, you can take steps to suspend that license until you receive payment.

When you find that you are unable to identify a collection source, which can happen if your opponent is an unlicensed, insolvent contractor, there is virtually no point in going to court because the individual or business you are dealing with may declare bankruptcy or simply “disappear.”

Finally, as an alternative you can hire a neutral third party to assist both you and the other party in finding a solution that both of you can accept. Also, especially if it is part of your contract, you may be able to settle your disagreement through binding arbitration.

An attorney specializing in civil law can help you decide the best course of action for your unique circumstances.

In the state of Texas, when one person’s actions result in the death of another, it is categorized as either murder or manslaughter. Without experience in criminal law or without the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer, distinguishing between the two can difficult, but they vary widely and result in significantly different penalties.

Understanding Murder

In general, murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice forethought, meaning the perpetrator intended to cause harm.  Murder has several different degrees in Texas, but it is most often classified as a first-degree felony. This typically results in a prison sentence between five and 99 years and a fine of no more than $10,000.

If severe enough, murder can be considered capital murder. This includes a number of actions such as killing a law enforcement officer or killing multiple people at once.  In Texas, the consequences for capital murder can be life in prison or the death penalty.

Types of Manslaughter

Manslaughter, while still considered criminal homicide, means the killing wasn’t premeditated. These actions can be classified as:

Involuntary – constructive manslaughter, where the victim is killed while the perpetrator is committing an unlawful act, or criminally negligent manslaughter, where one person is killed because of another’s reckless or careless actions

Voluntary – an aggressive action that is not intended to kill but just to harm, including acting in self-defense or acting in a temporary state of mental instability

Vehicular – an individual is killed in a car accident due to another’s criminal negligence behind the wheel

Manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony and results in two to twenty years in state prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Nikita Dawson is an avid writer for various legal blogs. She contributes to personal injury, divorce, and criminal attorney websites.

The terms “slip and fall” and “trip and fall” refer to injuries that a person suffers due to dangerous conditions on another person’s premises. These hazards can include ice, snow, spills and uneven flooring. These conditions are often unexpected and can lead to a person slipping or tripping on the slick or uneven surface.

Hazardous conditions are part of daily life and can manifest in many ways. Leaking roofs, heavy snowfalls, ice storms and spilled beverages can create a dangerous situation. These conditions can make unsuspecting customers vulnerable and may cause them to suffer significant injuries. They may also result in costly lawsuits against the owner of the premises.

When is a Business Owner Liable for a Slip and Fall?

Business owners will be liable if they became aware of a dangerous condition on their property and failed to act, either by fixing the situation or warning others about the hazard. However, a business owner does not have to be aware of the situation in order to be liable for any injury that occurs. If a judge finds that the property owner should have known of the dangerous situation and failed to act, the property owner may be liable for any slip and fall injuries that occur due to the hazard. For this reason, prudent business owners should conduct regular inspections of their property to ensure that surfaces are safe.

If your business is involved in a slip and fall lawsuit, the injured party will likely seek monetary compensation for the injuries suffered, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. If the injury was severe, you may be required to pay for future medical costs as well. If your case goes to trial, a judge will examine all of the circumstances to determine your level of responsibility for the accident. People are expected to use common sense in their daily life and to avoid putting themselves in dangerous situations. If a customer steps onto a wet floor when there are clear signs warning of the hazard, that customer has assumed a level of risk that may limit your liability in the situation.

Avoiding Slip and Fall Lawsuits

Business owners have a duty to ensure the safety of their customers. Although people can slip and fall in a variety of circumstances, business owners can protect themselves from liability by taking simple precautions. The best policy to prevent injuries is to wipe up any spills or repair any hazardous conditions as soon as possible. It is a good idea to put up a sign warning people of potential dangers including wet floors, icy conditions, uneven walkways or an unexpected step up or down.

If you are a business owner, make sure that your company has a policy for addressing hazardous conditions as soon as an employee becomes aware of them. If someone spills a beverage on the floor of your store, immediately warn your other customers to stay away from the area. Put up a wet floor sign and mop up the spill as soon as possible. If there is a snowstorm in your city, ensure that the walkways are shoveled and salted before you open for business. Any delay in repairing the situation puts your business at risk for an expensive personal injury lawsuit if anyone is injured because of the condition.

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A whistle-blower is an employee who exposes corporate misconduct. Corporate misconduct may include financial mismanagement, fraud or safety violations. Even if an employee has a mistaken belief that a company has violated the law, the employee will be considered a whistleblower once she makes a complaint against the company.

Whistleblowers play an essential role by exposing systemic problems within businesses and financial institutions. Unfortunately, retaliation is a very real risk for concerned workers who wish to bring fraudulent business practices to light.

When is Whistleblowing Appropriate?

If you are an employee who suspects fraud or financial mismanagement, weigh your options carefully. Although there are federal and state laws in place to protect whistleblowers, whistleblowing can still have an adverse impact on your employment. Most companies have implemented a whistleblowing policy. Check your employee handbook to determine the policies for reporting mismanagement or fraud.

Whistleblower lawsuits can severely damage a business’s reputation and result in hefty legal fees. Before you make a formal complaint, get as much information as you can about the situation without overstepping your role in the company. Take your concerns up the designated chain of command within your company first. Do not file a complaint without giving your superiors a chance to address your concerns and investigate the allegation. The management may have been unaware of the situation. Document each action you have taken to report the misconduct within your company. These records will provide valuable information to the government if you file a complaint against your company’s illegal or unethical business practices.

Preventing Retaliation

Both the state and federal government have enacted laws that prevent whistleblowers from receiving retaliation from their employers. In recent years, the federal government has implemented laws that increase the number of protections available to whistleblowers. Most of these laws prohibit retaliation against employees who are acting in good faith when they blow the whistle on an employer. They also offer compensation for back pay or reinstatement for employees who have been terminated because of their whistleblowing.

Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act following the Enron scandal. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is an attempt to prevent financial mismanagement and fraud within publicly traded companies. The Act also offers special protections to whistleblowers to prevent retaliation against them. The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 expands protections for whistleblowers and creates incentives for employees to report suspected fraud and misconduct.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created guidelines for employers, prohibiting them from retaliating against an employee who exposes illegal activities or other problems in the workplace. Employees who believe they have suffered retaliation in the workplace can file a complaint with OSHA, who will investigate your claim. If the investigation shows that your company was engaged in illegal activities and the retaliation you suffered was related to your whistleblowing actions, you will be entitled to back pay or other appropriate compensation.

If your company is engaged in unsafe working conditions, you will not be protected if you quit your job or refuse to work in these conditions. An employee must continue working after making the complaint unless there is imminent threat of injury or death due to the workplace conditions.

If you plan to blow the whistle on your company, contact an employment attorney who is experienced with whistleblowing. Your lawyer can guide you through the process of whistleblowing and help you protect yourself from consequences.

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“Comparative negligence” is a term many people may be unfamiliar with in personal injury law. In many cases, especially car accident cases, more than one person may be responsible for the accident. When this happens, it is a common misconception that one cannot recover any financial compensation through a civil lawsuit if they are partially responsible for the accident. Fortunately, this is not true.

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that gives you the ability to take legal action and recover financial compensation even if you were partially at fault. The specifics of comparative negligence depend on what state you live in so make sure you understand your state’s laws before taking legal action.

Under comparative negligence, a judge will assign a percentage of the blame for the accident to each party involved. He or she can then sue for that percentage of the damages. There are three basic forms of comparative negligence. They include the following:

  • Pure comparative negligence – The most basic form of comparative negligence gives injured victims the chance to file a lawsuit as long as they are less than 100 percent at fault.
  • Modified comparative fault / 50 percent rule – This is the law in the state of Delaware and 11 other states across the nation. A plaintiff can file a lawsuit as long as they are less than 50 percent at fault.
  • Modified comparative fault / 51 percent rule – As long as the plaintiff is less than 51 percent at fault for the accident, he or she can still sue for damages.

When a person receives damages under comparative fault, it is a percentage of the total damages depending on their level of fault. For example, if a person was 20 percent at fault and was awarded $1,000 in damages, he or she could only recover $800.

 

This is a guest post contributed by Carlos Santiago. Carlos is an experienced legal blogger who is interested in informing others of how to utilize the help of a personal injury lawyer when faced with injuries and hefty financial burdens.

 

 

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According to recent U.S. Department of Labor statistics , women make up 46.7 percent of the workforce. This is not surprising since it is an accepted fact that women are a vital part of the country’s economic engine. Yet, in spite of all of the career gains women have made over the past 40 years, there still remains a persistent problem for women when it comes to workplace discrimination.

Inequalities Still Exist

Most everyone agrees that any person should be treated fairly on the job regardless of gender. In fact, laws like Affirmative Action  prohibit discrimination against people on the basis of race, gender and national origin. Unfortunately, when it comes to women, there still seems to be remnants of the “old boys club” mentality that can make the workplace very uncomfortable for some women.

Sexual Harassment Still Happens Too Frequently

A recent case reported by NBC News  illustrates this point. A woman who worked for a company in Atlanta called Waffle House filed a police complaint against her boss. The complaint states that she was allegedly subjected to 10 years of sexual harassment. Among the behavior she had to put up with was unwanted touching of her breasts, lewd comments and attempts to disrobe her. She tolerated these grossly offensive and disrespectful acts towards her person because she really needed to keep her job. She was unable to find a suitable replacement job that offered the same pay. However, as soon as her child received a full college scholarship, she felt free to resign and file the police report.

This type of over the top sexual harassment is one of those silent types of discrimination that happens way too often. Many women are afraid to come forward in fear of losing that much needed job. Hopefully, as more of these cases get publicized, more women will find the courage to come out of the shadows and file formal complaints.

Another egregious form of workplace discrimination that is far more commonplace is pay inequality. Even though many women are educated, savvy, and hardworking, across all employment sectors women get the short end of the stick when it comes earning what they’re worth. According to a recent article in USA Today , the current pay gap between American women and their male counterparts is still evident. Women make about 82.2% of the wages that men receive. This includes college-educated women.

Standing Up for Equal Pay

Lilly Ledbetter  is very familiar with the unfairness of wages for women. She spent years fighting her own personal battle with the court system to receive wages she rightfully earned. While her equal pay case against her employer went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, she ended up losing. However, her cause was taken up by Congress, and in 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. This law provides stronger protections for women to get paid for doing the same job as men.

Pay inequality continues to be a nagging thorn in the side of the economic recovery. When women get paid less, they have less money to contribute to purchasing goods and services. The laws are on the books to right this wrong. Now there just needs to be stronger enforcement.

Overall, when it comes to workplace discrimination issues, women do not have to suffer in silence. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  is charged with protecting the rights of women in gaining fair treatment. A formal complaint can be filed with the EEOC and they will launch an investigation into the allegations. A lawsuit can also be filed against the employer. Increasingly, organizations such as WAGE  are leading the way in helping women become proactive in conquering inequalities. A certified discrimination lawyer can also help women who feel they have been unfairly treated in the workplace.

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In late September, Americans in several states began suffering from the serious effects of a rare form of fungal meningitis. This devastating infection has since been linked to contaminated steroid injections used primarily to treat back pain. Tragically, because the New England Compounding Center, Inc., the institution responsible for these contaminated injections, failed to ensure that the process in which the preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate and fungus were compounded was performed in sterile conditions, thousands of people may have been given these contaminated steroid injections.

Since the beginning of this meningitis outbreak, 438 people have suffered the effects of this rare, yet extremely dangerous infection and another 32 have died as a result of the infection. This fungal infection can cause victims to suffer from a number of symptoms, including nausea, chills, fever, meningismus (stiff neck), unconsciousness, serious headaches, and disorientation. Sadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is predicted that thousands more may suffer from the repercussions of fungal meningitis brought on by these contaminated injections.

As a result of receiving these contaminated shots, investigations into the company responsible are being conducted, and many victims are seeking professional help from a personal injury attorney to seek compensation for the suffering they’ve had to endure. Recently, Barry Cadden, a co-owner of the responsible pharmacy, has been subpoenaed by the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in order to aid with the investigations into whether this contamination could have been prevented. As these investigations continue, officials warn those who have received the injection to continue watching their health, as they are uncertain how long the incubation period is and whether or not people may still contract the infection.

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