Dear Clients, Friends and Family,
I cannot tell you how many people I’ve spoken to this year who have had a challenging (read: difficult) 2013. Maybe it’s because I have as well and people are just commiserating with me.
As the year comes to an end I like to think about the past year as challenges met and actually conquered. An Italian race car driver was once seen ripping the rear view mirror off of a rental car saying, “What’s behind me is not important” as he sped off down the road. But when you’ve survived adversity, taking a peek back once in a while with pride isn’t a bad thing.
We’ve all had good years and bad. It’s as important to learn from the bad, as to relish the good. The next and most important challenge is the future with unlimited possibilities.
So to all of my clients and friends who’ve supported me during my third office address change in one year (which I do not recommend), the separation from my law partner of many years, establishing a new office and dealing with innumerable service people who really ought to find some other line of work, and the health issues that continue to plague my family, thank you.
Thanksgiving is truly a time to recognize the blessings bestowed despite adversity and the fine folks who pull you through. This year you’ve pulled me through and next year I hope to pull you through whatever difficulties you face. Here’s to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
Author Bio: Walt Blenner is a Palm Harbor personal injury lawyer who is an “AV” (highest) rated by Lawyers.com and Martindale Hubbell. He has successfully represented hundreds of clients in Palm Harbor, Dunedin, New Port Richey as well as Tampa and looks forward to helping you and your family whether in the area of personal injury, estate planning or corporate representation.
You can follow Walt on Twitter (https://twitter.com/waltwb), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BlennerLawGroup) and Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+Waltblennerlaw)
Image credit: lar01joka / 123RF Stock Photo
As we all know golf carts are not just for golf courses anymore. As people try to conserve gas and move about their communities a little easier, golf carts have become an alternate method of transport. More than just efficient, they’re fun! My parents had one in their golf community and my friends have one in Safety Harbor for tooting around town.
In some communities like the Villages, they’re almost essential. In this self-contained little city in the middle of nowhere, carts are the most popular mode of transportation. Many houses have golf cart garages, there are cart parking lots and even special cart streets that cars cannot access. And some of the tripped-out golf carts cost as much as a car itself.
However, the more carts on the streets the higher the risk for collisions, just like every other motorized vehicle.
Recent case law has held that any golf cart capable of speeds in excess of 20 mph qualified as a “low speed vehicle” thereby triggering the necessity for insurance coverage.
The answer is Yes! Get insurance for your golf cart. The problem is, a modified golf cart is a wide open vehicle and while it may not travel at a fast rate of speed, if hit by a car that can go many times faster the potential for serious personal injury is there. Continue reading
Believe it or not, there are a whole host of internet scammers who specialize in attempting to scam lawyers. This is particularly offensive since lawyers are trained to question, to investigate to research and to search for the truth. These morons think they can pull one over on us? As a group, we’re not feeble minded simpletons ready to believe we just won the Scottish Lottery when told without ever having played it.
Flash forward to this past Monday: I received an e-mail inquiry through my law firm website from a Japanese businessman to see if could help his business with a collection matter. It seemed there was a Debtor of this foreign business right here in my community. He gave me the Debtor’s name, address and e-mail address.
Intrigued, I e-mailed back that I was interested. At this point I was pretty sure it was a scam, but I was intrigued to see just what sophisticated operation could try to take a lawyer.
Why did I think this was a scam so early on? The timing was off – Japan is 14 hours ahead of us. Mr. Japanese businessman was actively e-mailing me during the day when it’s the middle of the night for him in Kasugai, Japan. Also, I found the website of this huge manufacturing company and it was very basic and bush-league – almost like it was fabricated to cover a cheap deception.
The Debtor’s address was a residence on the beach. True, some people work out of their home, but it seemed odd. This company manufactured car parts, not pharmaceuticals.
Also, Mr. CEO was eager to sign a contingency fee agreement. Most people who are owed money want to pay legal fees hourly in case one simple letter gets the job done and the debtor pays one low hourly fee rather than 33% of the whole amount. But, this was calculated to lure the attorney in – the prospects of an easy fee. Continue reading
Recently a colleague related a story: A friend of his asked him to refer him to “the meanest, most aggressive attorney” he knew. He really wanted his lawyer to “rip to shreds” the other party to the dispute.
The result? The friend and his lawyer argued all the time and he fired the “aggressive jerk”.
This is a case of be careful what you wish for. Now the client is out a good amount of money after giving him a non-refundable retainer and must start over again.
Most lawyer know this “mad dog lawyer wins all matches”, mentality is a myth. I understand the concept of when one is spitting mad at another party, you don’t want them to get off easily – you want your lawyer to make their life miserable. I get that. However, vengeance is better left to a higher plane. Better to hope for a karmic event than a pound of flesh in court.
Good lawyers will tell you that in litigation, you want more light than heat. “Light” or getting to the legal issues in a calm and rational way will go a long way in resolving the issue without rancor. “Heat” or baloney bluster as I call it takes time and valuable resources, both emotional and in legal fees. Recently a lawyer in South Florida was suspended for two years for repeatedly screaming at his opponent in Court, as well as the Judge who found such disrespect to work contrary to the client’s cause. Continue reading
I wrote a post about food poisoning personal injury cases not too long ago. That was before Americans everywhere started dropping like flies from a whole variety of very recent food poisoning cases and subsequent food recalls when the problem is revealed.
Wow. A simple internet search shows that there have been very recent recalls for ground beef, potato salad, bags of broccoli salad, iceberg lettuce, barbeque beans, ham, chicken, cilantro and even dog “jerky” treats. Now they’re even poisoning our pets.
What’s going on? This recent rash of rash of food poisoning cases could be just a figment of collective media hysteria or it could be a culmination of food-related coincidences.
Another thought: Personal injury lawyers and consumer experts know that there is unprecedented pressure on food producers to keep prices low for discount box stores and sometimes quality suffers especially if they end up purchasing food across our national border to the south where food inspections and quality control are a rare event. Continue reading
I’ve debated this back and forth with Employers for years. The common thought is, if I tell the truth about a former employee and its negative I’ll get sued. So, the only thing I’ll verify is their dates of service and maybe whether or not I’d rehire them.
This is just wrong. If the former employee had a high absentee rate, was repeatedly written up for poor job performance, didn’t get along with other employees, you are free to tell the prospective employer this. Those examples are things that are true and have already been documented.
What you cannot do, is tell untruths. This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many vindictive business owners or HR managers seem to go out of their way to malign their former employee to jeopardize their future. “We suspect he embezzled money from us…”, “She dated every single guy in the office…” Before you say anything like this, you’d better make sure you have your facts straight, or you will get sued for either defamation or discriminatory retaliation. Continue reading
What’s a “second parent adoption”? If you’ve got the stomach for a legal subject that is truly nauseating and unjust, read on. More and more same sex couples are having children of their own through surrogacy and otherwise. Second parent adoptions are a way the non-biological parent can be legally recognized as the “second parent” of their own child.
The Issue: In a same sex relationship that opts to have a child through a surrogate who actually carries the child, only one parent can be truly genetically related to the offspring and hence considered the biological parent. His or her partner is every bit a parent to the child, yet if something happened to the biological parent, the child might be taken away from the non-biological parent (“NB Parent”) by a family member of the deceased. The NB Parent has no legal status over the child he or she has raised to that point even though they’ve wiped noses and tears, taught the child to tie a shoe and ride a bike and otherwise loved this child as their own for years.
Imagine the emotional trauma of a child losing one parent through death and then being separated from their other parent by a distant family member – which sometimes happens to be a judgmental family member of the deceased who objects to the “lifestyle” of the NB parent. Continue reading
Surprisingly, yes! You can hire a Florida lawyer for your personal injury claim even if your car accident was in a different state.
Typically someone who is involved in an accident in some distant jurisdiction returns home and resumes their life here. So, his or her family physician is here, as is a treating doctor. They go back to work but may have lost some time due to recuperation. It makes sense to hire someone locally to navigate your care and your insurance claim, locally. We know your doctors and can generally assist you more efficiently.
There are two differences: Even though you live in Florida and have Florida car insurance, if you’re involved in a crash in another state, your car insurance is subject to the laws of that foreign state. That state may have very different limits of liability on paying your medical bills as you go – the so-called “no-fault” part of your policy. That state may not even have no-fault.
The other difference is, if your case does not resolve amicably after you’re done treating and a lawsuit needs to be filed, your local attorney will need to “team up” with an attorney in the other state, if he’s not already a member of that other state’s bar. Continue reading
As the economy recovers – ever so slowly – there are still lots of people out there who had little choice but to live on their credit cards until they were able to find work after being unemployed or underemployed for months or even years.
Most well intentioned people intend to pay off these credit cards bills, but sometimes it’s not fast enough for your bank credit card company. Many creditors have a deadline on repayment and when it’s not met, they “sell” your debt to third parties whose sole job is to get you to pay it off sooner rather than later.
These third party “credit collection agencies” don’t care about your past hard time, they don’t care about your current circumstances or how difficult it is to make a payment of any amount. They just want money and they want it NOW.
Lots of these collection agencies are not located in the State of Florida and those that are, many are unaware of the existence of a State statute which regulates their behavior, called the “Fair Debt Collection Practices Act”.
If you are the victim of an overly aggressive collection agent, know that the law is on your side and you might benefit from a lawyer’s representation. Florida Statute 559.72, called “Prohibited Practices” is quite clear with regard to what aggressive collection activities are not allowed in Florida. Continue reading
Picture credit: Wikipedia
Currently lawyers in the George Zimmerman murder trial of Trayvon Martin are picking a jury. In reality, lawyers don’t really “pick” a jury, so much as exclude those who express actual opinions.
The process is known as “voir dire” and if you’ve never been called for jury duty, lawyers from both sides lob questions to the panel of potential jurors sitting in front of them to try to root out some information that would determine how that panelist thinks.
So, for instance, a lawyer might ask: “Who here knows someone who was in a car crash, sustained injuries and made a claim for damages?” Of the 12 panelists, #1, #4 and #6 raise their hands. “Of you three, what did you think of that injury claim?”
Panelist #1 said: “It was my sister who was really injured and I supported her all the way. She was out of work, had bills and needed the settlement. I wish she had gotten more. It was a real interruption to her life.” Continue reading