Beyond Legal Protection – Ten Often Overlooked Ways to Help Enforce Intellectual Property

The most powerful form of protection of intellectual property is usually through legal ways such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights. However, in today’s world of piracy and illegal downloading over the Internet, counterfeit copies from overseas manufacturers, and increased technology allowing for easier duplication and production of endless types of properties, IP owners must look for other ways to help protect their rights. This article discusses 10 non-traditional and often high-leverage ways to help protect IP.

Register relevant domain names as soon as possible. Don’t wait for trademarks to be approved before you register domain names for them. A domain name can be reserved for as little as $5, which is a much smaller price than the hassle of trying to enforce a legal right to it later. In many cases IP protection of the name in a domain name won’t apply if someone who has previously registered it also has a legitimate right to it, such as if you obtain a trademark for a telescopic product named PhotoStar but Photostar.com is already in use as a website for the personal photos of a person with the last name of Tar.

In some cases you may want to directly contact a violator of your intellectual property before starting legal enforcement of the rights. Some violators may not be aware they are violating your rights and if they are small enough, it may be worth just getting them to stop future violations than to proceed with pursuing damages for the past violations. You might win a settlement against a business without the assets to pay the judgment or your legal fees. Other violators may be willing to settle out of court, which may be to your benefit, when your time is taken into account, or may even be interested in licensing your IP for future production to the benefit of both parties.

A focus put on speed of product launch, promotion, distribution, and market penetration can help generate a large amount of sales before competing copies and counterfeits make it to market. Similarly, an awareness of the need for constant innovation can help deal with violators of your intellectual property, if you are constantly releasing new products and not counting on resting on today’s products for years. In some industries you may even want to kill off your product as the imitators step in, such as with a clothing designer starting and ending a fashion trend and then starting a new trend cycle.

Intellectual property can often been protected in part by focusing on your greater brand and image. Patents may protect a specific new power tool as an invention, but protection is also offered against knock-offs of the device by a focus on the greater brand name of its manufacturer. For instance, Black & Decker’s reputation for quality would help protect the company from a knock-off product in the power tool arena. This is not to say that the brand name itself may not also be violated, but in many cases an IP violation is re-branded or generic. Similarly, a shirt’s color and pattern design may be copied exactly by a cheaper clothing store, but if the image of the original store is one of luxury and high style, it will influence many customers to still purchase the same look at the higher price.

Many companies go to great lengths to protect their properties through legal means such as non-compete and confidentiality agreements but don’t invest the needed focus into protection of that confidential material through protection of mobile devices like laptops, blackberries, and other cell phones, and increased computer security such as firewalls for corporate websites and anti-virus and anti-spyware software for desktop computers of the workplace.

State clearly on your products not only phrases like ‘Patent Pending’ and ‘T.M.’ but also mention in more specifics how violators of the intellectual property will be prosecuted and detail how severe the legal awards can be. This small act of a few sentences will let violators know how serious you are about enforcing your rights, and in many cases let them know just how much their criminal actions could cost them.

Domestically manufacture your products if possible. Even though countries such as China are in legal agreements with the US to enforce IP rights, manufacturers in that country often openly violate intellectual property rights and the laws can be difficult to have enforced. Taking into account other aspects involved such as manufacturing costs, in many cases you may be better off with domestic manufacturing, particularly when there are some trade secrets involved in the manufacturing process, which could be easily violated by a foreign manufacturer even though they claim they will follow agreed terms of confidentiality and licensing.

Contact the partners of violators such as retailers of the violating manufacturer’s product. They can often end up with legal problems themselves from carrying the products or face other problems such as being stuck with inventory paid for that they can no longer sell due to intellectual property violation rulings, so they may be open to cease carrying a product or to reveal an unknown source of products.

Proactively police your own violations. Search EBay, Amazon.com, and other major retailers, and the Internet in general with Google to find violators. Sites like EBay will let you create a profile to automatically search for product keywords and notify you of new listings. EBay will often remove the listings of counterfeit products if you notify them of violators. If you actively seek, you can often find violators when they are just starting and the damage is small, rather than waiting until they are doing large enough violation to bring attention to themselves.

Tice Tansil has been an entrepreneur in the Internet retail business arena for just over a decade. He is also currently enrolled in the Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2008 Tice Tansil.

Non-Disclosure – Non-Compete Agreements – Structuring and Enforcement

There are several reasons a business might decide to employ a non-disclosure or a non-compete agreement (collectively known as “restrictive covenants”):

* The business is engaged in work that grants its employees access to sensitive information which, if publicized, would get said business sued by its clients. Such work can range from managing e-mail exchange servers to working at a PR agency where the job is to know and hide the clients’ skeletons.

* The business relies on certain proprietary information, such as client lists, to deliver its product and publication of such information would give its competitors an unfair edge.

In either case, it is in the business’ best interests to make sure that its sensitive information does not make its way into the wrong hands.

The Agreement

A non-disclosure or non-compete agreement is basically a contract between the employer and its employee where, for some valuable consideration (like a job and salary), the employee promises not to divulge any sensitive information learned during the course of employment or the employee promises not to go work for competitors for some period of time after the employment terminates.

As with all contracts, restrictive covenants require an exchange of consideration to be enforceable. The law defines consideration as a “bargained-for exchange between the parties,” in other words, something each side wants and promises to give to the other side. This is why restrictive covenants should be signed at the beginning of the employment relationship: There is no consideration when the employer promises the employee something he is already giving him (a job and salary). So NDAs signed mid-employment should be bought for something extra, like a bonus or a promotion, to be enforceable.

Enforcement of Non-Disclosure / Non-Compete Agreements

As with all breach of contract situations, the first step to enforcing a breached restrictive covenant is to send the breaching party a “Demand Letter.” The letter should contain the following:

* Reminder of an existing non-disclosure / non-compete agreement along with a summary of its terms.
* Explanation of how the employee / ex-employee breached such terms.
* Demand that the employee comply with the terms of the agreement within a certain number of days (10 is the standard number).
* Warning that failure to comply will be met with pursuit of all available legal remedies.

While the Demand Letters are usually ignored by the breaching party, they are necessary because most lawsuits based on breach of contract require a showing that the breaching party was warned of the breach and given an opportunity to comply. Which takes us to…

Court Relief

It is too late to stop a person from disclosing information once he has already disclosed it, so non-disclosure agreements are generally enforced by means of monetary relief. The Court will force the breaching party to pay the plaintiff a sum of money which plaintiff has proved to represent the total damages it suffered due to the breaching party’s conduct. Thus, the practical function of a non-disclosure agreement is to give employees notice that, should they breach the agreement, they will get sued and they will lose money — it is a deterrence mechanism.

Non-compete agreements are trickier because plaintiff, here, wants to force the breaching party to stop doing something it is already doing (competing). In this case, legal enforcement takes the form of an injunction ruling by the Court which commands the breaching party to stop what it is doing or face contempt. Civil contempt generally takes the form of steep fines and fees.

NY Does Not Like Non-Compete Agreements

New York courts take a very strict view of non-compete agreements because New York has a strong policy against preventing people from plying their trade and earning a living. New York courts generally require the following before they will enforce a non-compete agreement:

* The restraint must be reasonable such that it “is no greater than is required for the protection of the legitimate interest” of the party seeking enforcement.
* Legitimate interests are limited to “the protection against misappropriation of the employer’s trade secrets or of confidential customer lists, or protection from competition by a former employee whose services are unique or extraordinary”.
* A restrictive covenant against competition must also be reasonably limited temporally and geographically.

What this basically means is that the geographical scope and time of the non-compete should be reasonably limited, and that the purpose of the non-compete is to protect the employers “legitimate interests.” What constitutes “legitimate interests” often becomes the subject of heavy litigation.

Notice: This material is for information purposes and does not constitute legal advice that is tailored to your own personal circumstances and should not replace legal advice of an attorney. Although we try our best to keep the information updated, the material is not guaranteed to be up to date or complete.

2 Types of Legally Binding Settlement Agreements in Special Education

Are you the parent of a child with autism that is receiving special education services? Are you tired of your child not getting needed educational services? Are you considering filing for a due process hearing, and would like to know what legally binding settlement agreements are? This article will discuss what legally binding settlement agreements are so that you can help your child receive FAPE.

Due process is a formal process used by parents and special education personnel to resolve disputes between them. Either special education personnel or parents may file for a due process hearing. The hearing is run by a due process hearing officer which in most states are attorneys; that have special knowledge of special education.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which was reauthorized in 2004 allowed for legally binding settlement agreements for the first time. Prior to this any written settlement between parents and school districts, were not legally enforceable by any entity! This is a good change for parents and children, because if a school district writes a legally binding settlement agreement it can be enforced by any state or federal court.

There are two types of settlement agreements under IDEA 2004:

1. If a parent files for a due process hearing for their child a resolution meeting must be held between school districts and parents, within 15 days. If an agreement is reached, a legally binding settlement agreement must be written and signed by parents and school personnel. Either side can void the agreement within 3 business days!

2. If a parent requests mediation and an agreement is reached, a written agreement signed by both parties is also legally binding! There is no 3 day voiding allowed in mediation.

It is extremely important for parents to understand that legally binding settlement agreements only apply to settlements reached during the resolution meeting or mediation.

Many parents thought that they were signing a settlement agreement that was enforceable, only to find out that it was not! If you are having difficulty with your school district and they are now offering a settlement agreement, I would immediately ask for mediation. By doing this any agreement is enforceable in state or federal court. Mediation must be agreed to by both parties. If the school district refuses to go to mediation, file for a due process hearing. You can still settle your case at the resolution meeting, and it would be considered a legally binding settlement agreement!

By understanding legally binding settlement agreements you will be able to help advocate for a free appropriate public education for your child! Good Luck!

Regulatory & Legal Framework – Do We Need a Franchising Law in India?

Mater Franchising arrangements are the flavor of the day as it provides the franchisor the benefit of the franchisee’s knowledge of the local environment; provides access to local sales and marketing expertise and channels; reduces investment; requires negligible government approvals; provides freedom from recruitment of local workforce and consequently lowers the financial risk of the franchisor. The current regulatory restrictions on retail trading by foreign companies coupled with sustained economic growth; ever expanding market with a thriving class of urban consumers; quality consciousness amongst India consumers are some of the factors contribution to franchising being increasingly used as a model by foreign companies for entering India for the first time. A typical master franchise arrangement enables the master franchisee to develop the business in a given territory under the franchisor’s brand name and trademark with or without the right to manufacture the products in accordance with the franchisors’ operating guidelines coupled with assured financial returns to the franchisor.

There is a lot of discussion on the requirement of enacting a specialized law to regulate this growing sector in India. Before I proceed with my thoughts on the subject, I would like to quote a few lines from a report presented by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT, an independent intergovernmental organization of which India is a member) which states that “the foundation of a successful franchising industry in any country lies in the existence of a “healthy commercial law environment” which has been defined as one with a ‘general legislation on commercial contracts, with an adequate company law, where there are sufficient notions of joint ventures, where intellectual property rights are in place and enforced and where companies can rely on ownership of trademarks and know-how as well as on confidentiality agreements’. The Indian legal environment is characterized by all these key attributes, a fact established by ever expanding international franchise relationships with India.

To evaluate the need for a new legislation, let us first understand some of the keys issues/concerns involving a franchising arrangement that generally leads to potential disputes or disconnects between the parties and how they are protected or can be protected within the realm of current Indian legislation:

(1) Licensing and Use of Intellectual Property Rights: IP rights are an integral part of all franchising arrangements and every franchising agreement involves transfer of some form of IP right, either as a license of a trademark/service mark/trade name, or a copyright, or a patent, invention, design or a trade secrets. The manner of use of the IP rights and their protection against misuse is one of the most important concerns of the Franchisor. Some of the disputes that arise during implementation of the franchise agreement relate to the scope and purpose of the trademark license, exclusivity of use and geographical scope, protection of confidentiality, extent of transfer of the know-how, misuse and damage caused to the brand and goodwill of the franchisor, etc. Similarly, post termination related issues include unauthorized use of the trademarks post termination, limited right to use the trademarks for the purposes of disposal of pending inventory (in the absence of which the inventory may go waste), destruction of stationary containing trademarks/trade names, return and ceassation of use of IP rights. India already has a host of IPR related laws including the Trademark Act of 1940, Copyright Act, 1957, the Patent Act, etc that provide for extensive protection and enforcement mechanism for the intellectual property rights including permanent and mandatory injunctions against infringement and passing off. India is also a signatory to the international conventions on intellectual property rights including the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), thereby offering protection to trademarks or brand names, as well as copyright and designs of the foreign franchisor. Recognition and protection is also extended to service marks in India enabling the foreign franchisor to license its mark to a franchisee to provide the services synonymous with him to the consumers in India. IPR laws have also been recently amended to make them compliant with exclusive right obligations under TRIPS and accordingly, the laws meet international standards for IPR protection. Even the Indian courts are quite sensitive and proactive with regard to enforcement of infringement actions. It is therefore evident it is not the absence of IPR laws or its enforcement that lead to potential disputes but lack of carefully drafted and negotiated agreements between the franchisor and the franchisee related to IPR issues that lead to potential IP related litigations.

(2) Obligations of Franchisor and Franchisee: Another crucial issue that lead to potential disputes amongst the parties relate to implementation of the obligations of a franchisee such as the duties and services to be rendered by the franchisee, the investment and infrastructure of the franchise, adherence to specific operating guidelines or manual to maintain uniformity, reporting requirements, quality maintenance of the product or services delivered; creation of an agency between franchisor and franchisee, appointment of sub-contractors to manufacture and sub-franchisee to sell the products and franchisor and franchisee’s liability owing to their acts/omissions; meeting of annual market penetration targets; minimum stock purchase/import obligations; financial returns to the franchisor, including royalty and fee. Similarly, obligations of the franchisor related to periodic training as to the conduct of business, upgrading the franchisee with new methods and technologies, ongoing support, recommendations on general operational, management, accounting and administrative practices, joint marketing and advertising campaigns, sharing of advertising costs generally cause heart burns to the franchisee.

The Indian Contract Act, 1872 is applicable to all the franchise arrangements and provides for specific parameters for legally enforceable agreements, lawful object and purpose of an agreement, lawful consideration for an agreement, performance of an agreement, statutory interventions in unfair or unconscionable transactions, consequences of fraud, misrepresentation and undue influence, voidability and rescission/repudiation of agreement, contracts in restraint of trade, contingent and conditional contracts, performance of reciprocal promises, discharge and frustration of contracts, consequences of breach and rights related to liquidated damages, enforcement of indemnification rights, agents and principal relationship and obligations thereto. It is not the lack of commercial law but lack of carefully drafted agreements that generally fail the parties. It is therefore important that a franchisee tries to bridge all potential gaps by identifying and analyzing “what if?” situations keeping in perspective the franchisee’s financial, technical, manufacturing, marketing, human resource, sales and business planning capabilities.

All of this does not require a specialized law which is already in existence in the form of the Indian Contract Act but a fairly detailed and well negotiated contract. In any case even a specialized law can only provide a broad frame work, the details and the nitty-gritty of the relationship has to be always contractually agreed.

(3) Payment Terms: Delay in payment or non-payment of license and/or royalty payments could be another area of concern for the franchisor. Therefore the manner in which and the times at which such payments are to be made must be carefully addressed. In the event the franchisor is a foreign entity, applicability of prior approvals and terms and conditions for foreign remittance should be informed to the foreign party. The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 and the Regulations made there under specifically address the outbound payment related issues. For instance, an Indian franchisee can remit royalty towards license of trademark upto the amount of 1% of domestic sales and 2% of exports without prior government approval. If the licensor also provides technical know how to the Indian licensee, the Indian company can remit royalty upto 5% of domestic sales and 8% of exports and lump sum payment of upto US$ 2 million without prior government approval. Payment of royalty above the percentages specified above would need prior government approval. Detailed tax laws are already in place to deal with the withholding tax liability on such payments which may get reduced depending upon the provisions in the applicable double taxation avoidance agreement. The key issue is that both the franchisor and franchisee should be made aware before hand on the payment and taxation related regulations.

(4) Duration, Renewal and Termination and its Consequences: Another serious concern of a franchisee is the extendibility of the term of the franchising and licensing agreement. Typically, extension of the term is within the sole discretion of the franchisor based on annual sales turnovers and performance of the franchisee. Quite often a franchisee struggles with the franchisor for renewal of the term especially when the franchisor is lined up with many other franchisees offering higher royalties. The other possible scenario is when a franchisee is suddenly informed of an abrupt termination of the franchise agreement leaving the franchisee with costs of salaries, infrastructure and interest on working capital and other debts. Now do we need a law to tackle with this abrupt termination or non-renewal situations. First of all, it should be clearly understood that all agreements entered into between private parties (whether under franchise domain or any other commercial arrangements) are terminable in nature. This is regardless of the terms in the franchise agreement that the contract is interminable. The Indian Contract Act 1872 and the Specific Relief Act, 1963 supported by various Supreme Court judgments are clear that even in the absence of specific clause authorizing and enabling either party to terminate the agreement, from the very nature of the agreement, which is private commercial transaction, the same could be terminated even without assigning any reason by serving a reasonable notice.

Keeping this in perspective, it is advisable to negotiate for an open ended term (i.e., no fixed term) agreement with suitable termination clauses on breach with adequate notice period for rectification of breach/default. Though non-provision of the agreed notice will render the franchisor liable for damages under the Indian Contract Act, it is advisable to stipulate liquidated damages or substantial termination fees payable by the franchisor on breach of express termination provisions. Suitable exit options should also be provided if both parties are not willing to continue. Some of the key post termination issues that lead to potential dispute and are adequately protected by the existing Indian laws include:

(i) Misuse of IPR rights and Confidential Information post termination is generally a mater of concern for the franchisor. While there are adequate IPR protection laws against misuse and consequent infringement/passing off actions coupled with rights for permanent and mandatory injunctions under the Specific Relief Act, it is important to provide provisions constraining the franchisee from using the IP rights of the franchisor and return of all confidential information obtained during the term of the agreement.

(ii) Protection of franchisees against negative covenants particularly relating to non-competition post termination. It should be understood that a negative covenant restraining the franchisee from directly or indirectly undertaking business competing with the business of the franchisor during the subsistence of the agreement may not be violative of section 27 of the Contract Act, but post termination negative covenants may not be enforceable under Indian laws. This in turn protects the franchisee against unreasonable negative covenants imposed by the franchisor post termination.

What Is Tort Law Exactly?

Have you ever done something that was against the rules? Well, torts are something like that; but much more serious. Torts are civil wrong-doings; immoral behaviors and actions against civilians. The law identifies a tort as immoral, and approves it as grounds for a lawsuit. Most often, torts come with severe consequences, like serious injuries and death. These consequences establish a civilian’s right to file a personal injury claim against a wrongful party.

Torts that result in serious injury or death can be punishable by imprisonment; however, the objective of tort law is to acquire compensation for damages incurred by victims and families of victims. In addition, and equally important, intent is to prevent similar wrongdoings from occurring in the future. In fact, victims of tort can take legal action for an injunction in order to inhibit further torturous conduct of the opposing party.

Explaining Torts and Tort Law

Victims of tort can pursue fair compensation for damages incurred as a result of the offence. Exemplary damages include everything from pain and suffering to loss of companionship, and much more; such as lost wages, hospital bills, medical expenses, scarring or disfigurement, funeral expenses, prolonged rehabilitation, permanent disabilities, and much more. Injured victims can also pursue compensation for damages like diminished quality of life and loss of benefits from loved one’s death. Tort law is established to protect injured victims that were wrongfully hurt by a negligent party. Negligent parties can include people, companies, individuals, organizations, products, and much more.

Categories of Tort

There are several individual capacities of tort law that all depend on the type of injury or accident that harms a person. Types of tort include motor vehicle accidents, product liability, assault and battery, sexual harassment, drunk driving accidents, wrongful death, slip and falls, head or brain injuries, dog bites, nursing home neglect, motorcycle accidents, and several other types of deliberate inflictions of emotional or physical trauma.

Every type of tort can be grouped into three separate categories of tort law; these categories are Intentional Torts, Negligent Torts, and Strict Liability Torts. Intentional torts are deliberate, premeditated, and purposeful. Assault and battery, sexual misconducts, and nursing home neglect are some examples of intentional tort. Negligent tort occurs as a result of carelessness and disregard. Disobeying traffic signals and causing an accident that harms another person is an example of negligent tort. Other examples include pedestrian accidents, hit-and-run accidents, medical malpractice, legal malpractice, and slip and fall accidents. Strict liability torts, on the other hand, occur when a particular action causes harm or damage to another person; such as liability for making and selling defective products that are hazardous.

If you are a victim of tort, or was recently injured in an accident caused by the negligence or misconduct of another party, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact a licensed personal injury law firm for professional guidance and counsel. It is important to take immediate action following a serious injury before the State’s statutes of limitation runs out. An experienced tort lawyer will substantially increase your chances and likelihood of winning your personal injury claim recovering compensation for your damages.

Posted in Law

Common Benefits Received From Workers’ Compensation

It is common for people who are injured on the job to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The amount of compensation and degree of benefits received by injured workers largely depends on the extent of their injuries or damages. Damages can include but are not limited to pain, suffering, prolonged rehabilitation or illness, diminished quality of life, lost wages, medical expenses, hospital bills, mental trauma, PTSD, and much more.

It is wise to hire a personal injury attorney that specializes in workers’ compensation law to recover the full and fair recompense deserved. Continue reading to learn what type of benefits to expect, or that is possible, to receive after being injured while on the clock.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Not all workers’ compensation claims are for physical injuries. Although most involve some sort of bodily harm, mental anguish or trauma can be just as damaging. Sometimes, personal injury cases can involve sexual harassment, discrimination, assault or battery, contracting a work-related illness or disease, experiencing an armed robbery, and more. Either way, the common coverages and benefits received from workers’ compensation claims are as follows:

Paid Hospital Bills, Medical Expenses, Physical Therapy, Medical and Vocational Rehabilitation, Doctor Visits, Counseling, Prescriptions, Etc.

Paid Weekly Earnings for Time Off Work Longer than One Week (2/3 of Average Weekly Pay-400 Week Maximum)

Benefits for Dependents in the Case of a Wrongful Death at Work

Punitive Damages in Cases of Malicious Intent or Blatant Disregard

Compensation for Excessive Pain, Suffering, Loss of Companionship, Mental Anguish, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Diminished Quality of Life, Etc.

Travel Expenses (If Applicable)

There are several other types of benefits available to those injured on the job, however, they vary depending on the company’s policies, insurance coverage, the extent of injury, and much more. It is strongly encouraged to discuss your recent work injury with a licensed Indianapolis workers’ compensation lawyer for accurate case assessment and legal guidance. They retain the proper resources, experience, and knowledge to navigate your workers’ compensation claim.

In order to recover the full and fair remuneration deserved to an injured victim and their family, a personal injury lawyer is the path to take. Be sure your personal injury law firm employs attorneys with extensive trial and litigation experience in workers’ compensation cases. This will further ensure you are choosing a lawyer that can successfully navigate your claim and have a better chance of recovering for your damages and losses.

Posted in Law

Who’s Liable for Injuries Sustained in Public Transportation Accidents?

Public transportation is a wonderful asset for thousands of Americans all across the country. Buses, trains, subways, limousines, metros, taxi cabs, and more are just a few examples of the variety we have to choose from when it comes to public transport. As customers and clients, we generally trust that these choices are safe and reliable; but sometimes unexpected accidents happen.

If someone is injured while using public transportation, who is at-fault for their damages? There can be several outcomes when determining who is liable for accidents such as these. Continue reading to understand all the possible parties that might be liable, under law, for injuries sustained to public transient customers.

Public Transportation Traffic Accidents

When it comes to public transportation, buses are one of the most popular. Tickets are inexpensive, and some buses are complementary to individuals in the community. School buses are also widely used for public school transportation. With the rising popularity of public buses, more and more are on the roads every day. As a result, the number of bus accidents continue to increase each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 300 bus accidents happen every year, all of which resulting in fatalities.

Bus crashes, and other public transport cases, are complicated to litigate. Determining the at-fault party is a bus crash can be tricky because it may be more than one, or none at all. It requires the professional litigation skills and trial experience of a licensed car accident attorney to effectively pursue a bus accident injury lawsuit or claim. If you or someone you loved has recently been injured in a public transportation accident, like buses or taxis, contact a local personal injury lawyer to learn your rights.

Possible At-Fault Parties:

  • The Driver
  • Management Company
  • Other Negligent Vehicles
  • Government Entities (If Public)
  • Equipment Manufacturers
  • City Traffic Management (If Defective Light or Sign)

Common Causes:

  • Drunk Driving
  • Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
  • Defective Stop Light or Traffic Sign
  • Hazardous Weather Conditions
  • Reckless or Careless Driving
  • Poor Equipment Maintenance
  • Treacherous Roads
  • Defective Equipment
  • Obstruction of Views
  • Other Negligent Vehicles on the Road

Traffic accidents, public or not, can happen very suddenly, and usually result in serious injuries and damages to innocent bystanders and drivers. If a person is injured using public transportation as a result of another carelessness or negligence, they are entitled to legal compensation for their pain, suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and more. 

Posted in Law

A Myth Regarding Personal Injury Protection

I often get told by my clients that they “do not want to make any claims on their own insurance policy” because “it will raise their rates.” Like many things, this is an insurance tactic meant to scare people from claiming what is rightfully theirs. Let me elaborate further.

Under Texas law, every person in the State must carry Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage on their auto insurance policy, unless you expressly sign a rejection or “opt-out” of this coverage. The State minimum requirement is $2,500, although many people carry $5,000 or $10,000 in coverage (or sometimes even more, depending on what their auto insurance carrier offers). Importantly, under the Texas Insurance Code, it is illegal for your insurance company to raise your insurance rates, drop your coverage, affect your credit, etc. for making these claims. Therefore, if you have this coverage, you always want to use it.

PIP coverage is meant to reimburse you for two things: (1) medical bills you have already incurred or (2) lost wages (although it will only cover 80% of your lost wages). Additionally, Texas allows “stacking” of insurance benefits. For example, let’s say you get into an accident and you are taken to the emergency room where you incur a $10,000.00 bill. Let’s also say that you have the standard $2,500 PIP policy through your insurance company. After you are finished treating, we send that same $10,000 bill to both the Defendant’s insurance company and to your own. We get you paid $10,000 from this insurance company plus $2,500 from your own PIP coverage for a total reimbursement of $12,500. That’s right, you get paid $12,500 for a bill that was originally $10,000.

I always tell my clients the same thing: If you pay for this coverage every month in your premium, and if your insurance company cannot raise your rates for using it, then why wouldn’t you use it? It is free money falling out of the sky. However, because it’s free money falling out of the sky, many insurance companies (and their agents) will deliberately try to convince you that you do not need it because “it cost more.” Again, this cannot be further from the truth. The cost of this coverage is literally pennies on the dollar for what you get in return should you need to use it. Further, the best part is that this coverage is no-fault, meaning you are entitled to these benefits whether you caused the accident or if someone else hit you.

For these reasons, it is a no-brainer not only to have this coverage, but also to use it once you need it.

Posted in Law

How to Complete a Self-Health Assessment Following a Car Accident

As soon as you are involved in a car accident, the first priority is to have your health and over-all condition assessed by a professional emergency medical technician on-site or at the hospital. For less serious car accidents, it is still important to assess your own health to be sure you are not suffering from a head, spine, or neck injury. The issue with these kinds of injuries is that they can become evident or worse as time passes. So you might seem fine after a car wreck, but can then start to develop symptoms later on that point toward neck and back injuries.

There are signs and symptoms to look for, as well as, tips to learn how to identify the difference between vague soreness and tenderness of muscles, and an actual serious injury. Continue reading for a post-accident health assessment guide and information about filing a car accident injury claim for injuries and damages sustained in a serious collision.

Checking On Your Health

Once you have been involved in a car accident, whether it was your own fault or not, is to seek immediate medical attention. As a car accidents happens, authorities are usually alerted almost immediately; either by someone involved in the wreck or a bystander. Police will ask if you or your passengers need to go to the hospital if it is not obvious or evident that someone is hurt. You can make this assessment yourself, or you can simply have an EMT check you out at the scene of the accident or at the hospital.

You can choose to ride in an ambulance for a faster commute to the hospital for emergencies, but for less serious and less evident injuries, you may choose to take yourself or have a loved one drive you. In other cases, you might feel like you are not injured enough for professional medical care, and pass up the opportunity to go to the hospital altogether. Once you are familiar with how to assess your own condition after an accident, you will be able to responsibly make the choice of seeking further medical assistance, or to care for yourself.

Here are some symptoms to look for immediately after, as well as, the days following a motor vehicle accident:

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Soreness or Tenderness of Neck
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Mental Confusion
  • Pain or Tenderness in Lower Back
  • Pain in Neck or Spine
  • Difficulty Standing
  • Pain When in the Seated Position
  • Swelling of Neck, Back, or Head
  • Redness or Abrasions on Body
  • Nausea or Dizziness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Slurred Speech
  • Bleeding
  • Broken Bones
  • Immobility

Any of these symptoms could be a sign of a more serious injury or internal damage. If you are experiencing more than three of the above symptoms, it is strongly encouraged to go to the hospital or to request an EMT at the sight of an accident. Concussions are one of the most common and overlooked head injuries that results from car accidents. And the problem with this type of injury is that a person can seem fine at first, only to later suffer serious consequences and health decline as a result of a neglected head, brain, or spine injury.

Filing a Car Accident Injury Claim
Contact a licensed personal injury lawyer for information about filing a car accident injury claim against a negligent party that caused you or a loved one serious harm following a traffic accident or collision. You may be entitled to compensation.
Posted in Law

Personal Injury Should Be Well Taken Care Of

If there is ever a situation where a person is suffering terribly from an injury, disability or in worse case scenarios, even death, mostly due to a careless negligence of an individual, in such cases, the personal injury law covers these instances and extends its hand for help.

A severe injury can cost an individual to shell out a lot of money, sometimes an amount that the individual might not even be capable of paying, if you opt for a personal injury claim in such desperate moments then you are eligible to seek some compensation for the injury you have faced and the payment gets taken care of because of the claim.

Mostly this law covers all the kinds of injury that can possibly take place, these injuries can be of any type. It can either be something that can cause a lot of harm to your body or it can make you face some kind of emotional trauma as well. It can be anything and at anytime and having a claim especially for these kinds of injuries will help you in emergencies.

Be alert and be careful of every step you take.

Let us have a look at some of the tips that can help you get this claim:

• DO NOT DELAY TO GET SOME MEDICAL ATTENTION

The first and foremost step that you need to take when you get an injury is to seek out for medical help immediately and instantly. Do not under any circumstances delay that step because the more you delay it, the more serious it can get, therefore seek out for some medical help as soon as you find yourself in such a situation.

• BE CAREFUL OF THE STATEMENTS YOU MAKE

Be absolutely confident and clear in what you say in the accident scene. Do not say anything that might make the situation much more complicated than it already is or give rise to some kind of a conflict. Be clear in what you have to say and keep it straight when asked about it. This will help in dealing with the process much quickly.

• KEEP A CHECK ON ALL THE EXPENSES

This would include all the bills in the hospital. Be it expense bills; diagnose bills, medical bills or any other tests that you might have undergone. Have a record of all the expenses because it might be asked for when you go to claim for compensation. You can also keep a record of some lost wages that you might have faced due to missing work. Keep a track of everything.

Posted in Law