Archive for November, 2010
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Black Friday brought us some black weather this year, with sleet and freezing rain making walkways and roads slippery. This is not unexpected in New England, of course, but it serves as a useful reminder and warning of what to expect over the next several months. Slippery surfaces bring the potential for mayhem and accidents. It is time to think ahead and prepare for the snow, slush, and other precipitation that makes living in New Hampshire in the winter such a challenge.
For most people, the biggest worry in the winter is commuting. Driving a car that is floating along on top of snow, slush, or even ice, can be nerve-wracking for even the most skilled and experienced drivers. Without a doubt the single best investment you can make for winter safety is a set of high quality snow tires. If you haven’t driven on modern snow tires, you really cannot appreciate what you are missing in the winter. It is important to remember that every action you take behind the wheel is transmitted to the road through those four small contact patches where your tires meet the road surface. Bad tires lead to a poor connection with the road.
Snow tires are really not “too expensive.” When you consider that a good quality set of snow tires will last four, five, or possibly more winter seasons, they are really the cheapest form of insurance you can purchase to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the winter. Even if you decide not to buy dedicated snow tires, you absolutely should not drive on wintery roads with worn out tires of any sort. The law requires that your tires have a minimum of 3/32 of an inch of tread. That really is not enough for winter driving. You want as much tread depth as you possibly can have so that your tires can find purchase in snow, and cut through slush. In addition to putting you and your vehicle at risk, having badly worn tires could expose you to liability in the event you injure someone else an accident caused by loss of grip in the winter.
Even with snow tires (and especially without), winter driving requires a more delicate touch than driving the rest of the year. You should steer, brake, and accelerate more gently, plan further ahead for stops, slow down earlier for corners, and leave much more room to the traffic ahead of you. Often times on multi-lane highways, a relatively “dry” line will be created in one lane as the majority of traffic tries to take advantage of the tracks cut in the snow by preceding vehicles. Obviously these “dry” lines have more traction, and are therefore somewhat safer to drive on. However, in some weather conditions these paths can still be deceptively slippery, so one should not give into the temptation to follow the car ahead too closely.
Four wheel drive and all wheel drive are a great advantage in the winter, but they do not make you invincible. The primary advantage that these systems give you is the ability to accelerate in slippery conditions. They are generally also slightly more stable at speed. However, AWD does not “create” traction. AWD drive cars just make somewhat better use of the traction available when accelerating. When it comes to turning and braking, you are still limited by the amount of traction your tires can provide. AWD combined with poor tires is a recipe for disaster, because the AWD allows you to accelerate despite the lower grip of worn tires, but the tires’ limitations often reveal themselves suddenly when the driver is forced to stop or turn. Just because you have AWD does not mean you should not invest in a good set of snow tires.
That’s it for Part I of the winter caution tips blog. Part II will deal with precautions you should take for walking in the winter, and making your property safe for others to walk on.
Monday, November 15th, 2010
In these economically challenging times, many people have found themselves unemployed and struggling to find new work. Employers are still wary and not in a big hurry to increase their work forces. If you are one of the many unemployed workers looking for a new job, you know it is a competitive job market. One aspect of keeping yourself above the competition is to bolster your resume or job application by clearing your record of an arrest or conviction.
It is common for employers to have a space on their job applications which requires you to disclose certain prior criminal arrests or convictions. Because many employers also do criminal background checks on prospective employees, you will not be able to “hide” from such a criminal record. Under New Hampshire law, any employment application may question you about a criminal record in terms of “Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime that has not been annulled by a court?” (emphasis added).
This means you should try to have an arrest or conviction annulled because you may not have to disclose it on a job application. If annulled, it is treated as if you had never been arrested or convicted. New Hampshire law permits you to petition the court in which you were convicted for an annulment of the criminal conviction, provided that the court finds that it will “assist in [your] rehabilitation and be consistent with the public welfare.” Different levels of criminal convictions have different minimum time periods that must pass without further criminal convictions on your record.
For non-motor vehicle related violations, the minimum time is one year. For misdemeanors (except certain sex crimes), the minimum is 3 years. For class B felonies, it is 5 years, and for class A felonies and certain minor sex-related crimes, it is 10 years. Crimes involving violence, obstruction of justice, and aggravating circumstances which lead to an extended sentence, are not eligible for annulment.
An attorney experienced in seeking arrest or criminal conviction annulments can assist you in filing the proper documents with the court. The attorney will file the necessary paperwork and appear with you before the court if necessary. Getting your record annulled is important and can have a significant impact on your life so you should contact a law firm with experience in annulment law.
Monday, November 15th, 2010
The recent news story of a 6-year-old girl in Hillsborough, New Hampshire being mauled by a family friend’s pit bull is a reminder of how devastating dog attacks can be on the victim.
In this case, the girl was running near the chained dog when she fell. The dog grabbed her by the arm and then bit her on the face. The injuries were severe – tearing open her cheek and tearing a muscle in her face. This young victim will have gone through hours of reconstructive surgery but will still have scars.
Under New Hampshire law, a dog owner is liable for injuries caused by their dog. As for criminal charges, the first time a dog bites is a $100 fine, the second time, if within a 12-month period, is a $400 fine. A third bite in one year may mean the dog owner is brought to court. In the Hillsborough case, the dog owner was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child for “keeping a vicious dog and allowing it to be near children.”
In dog bite cases, it is important to have an experienced New Hampshire dog bite attorney representing you against the insurance company. They will help you understand your rights and maximize the recovery of damages.
Monday, November 15th, 2010
Because your case is important to you, we suggest you consider the following criteria/factors when you choose a personal injury lawyer:
Select an Attorney with a Focused Practice
Some lawyers and law firms try to do it all. It is important to choose an attorney who focuses on certain areas of the law. You need to find out how much of that attorney’s practice is in the area of personal injury for victims.
Select an Attorney with Trial Experience
Many lawyers claim to handle personal injury cases. Just look at the ads in the yellow pages or on TV. It is important to choose an attorney that has actual experience taking cases to trial. Insurance companies know which lawyers will take a case to trial and which lawyers just want to settle a case fast. Without an experienced trial lawyer on your side, it puts you and your case at a disadvantage.
Select an Attorney with a Track Record
Your personal injury case is important to you because it affects you and your family. Your case is the opportunity for you to get fully compensated for your damages. It is important to choose an attorney that has a record of accomplishment and can deliver a full and fair trial verdict or settlement.
Select an Attorney with the Necessary Resources
Many personal injury cases require serious investigation and are expensive to prepare. Your attorney will need to devote not only time to your case but the resources to hire medical experts, accident reconstruction experts or vocational rehabilitation experts, if necessary. The lawyer should have staff dedicated to your case. It is important to choose an attorney that has the resources to fully prepare your case.
Select an Attorney that Represents only Accident Victims
Many law firms try to have it both ways. They have some lawyers that represent accident victims and other lawyers representing insurance companies. It is important to choose an attorney whose loyalty is easy to read – one that only represents accident victims.
Select an Attorney Who Receives Referrals From Other Attorneys and Satisfied Clients
Some lawyers get most of their cases from an out-of-state 1-800 number or a telephone book ad. Find out the source of the attorney’s personal injury cases. It is important to choose attorneys who receive most of their cases from referrals from other lawyers or satisfied clients because that is a reflection on the quality and skill of their representation.
Select an Attorney Who Will take Your Case on a Contingency Fee
Make sure the attorney will agree that you will not pay attorney’s fees unless you recover in your case. It is important to choose an attorney who will believe in your case and agree to work for a contingency fee.
In a case with serious injuries, having an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer representing you against the insurance company will help protect your claim and maximize your recovery of damages.
Monday, November 15th, 2010
Personal injuries happen every day in New Hampshire. These injuries may have a long-lasting impact on the accident victims and their families. Your personal injury claim is your one chance to put your life back together and recover all damages for your injury. Having a lawyer on your side can help you with two important parts of your case. The first thing is to make sure you get prompt and necessary medical treatment. The second important thing is to make sure you receive full compensation for your injury.
Insurance companies have their own experienced adjusters or lawyers whose only job is to process personal injury claims and reduce the amounts paid to victims like you. They rely on the fact that many accident victims do not get an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer. Without your own personal injury attorney, insurance companies count on the fact that you are unsure of what to do. Without the necessary experience, it is not surprising that many injured persons give a recorded statement or provide signed authorizations for their medical records without legal advice. Insurance companies are also aware that you do not know the fair value of your injury, which means you may accept a “quick and cheap” settlement. Insurance companies want to pay you the least amount of money while your personal injury lawyer’s job is to get you the full and fair amount for your injury.
Choose the Right Lawyer for Your Case
In cases with significant injuries, you need a lawyer representing you against the insurance companies. Choosing the right lawyer for your claim may make a difference in the amount of compensation you recover in your case. That is why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you against the insurance company. Count the number of lawyer advertising pages in your phonebook. There are probably 10 or 20 pages of lawyers with full size ads. Everyone has seen the 1-800-TV ads for lawyers claiming to be experienced accident lawyers. Just because a lawyer has paid for expensive advertising does not mean that the lawyer is right for your case or even has the actual trial experience needed to protect your claim.
Before you “hire” your lawyer you should learn if the lawyer has actually had any trial experience. Trial experience is one of the most important factors to consider in hiring your attorney.
Insurance companies know if your attorney is skilled and experienced in bringing a case to trial. The threat of an experienced trial attorney taking your case to trial puts pressure on the insurance company to offer you fair compensation. The insurance company may raise the amount to resolve your case if your attorney is willing and able to go to trial to fight for your case. Without this leverage, the insurance company will try to dictate the value of your case. Having an inexperienced lawyer on your side may put your case at a disadvantage.
Make sure you protect your claim and maximize your recovery by having an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer represent you.
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
As the weather gets colder and we all begin preparations for winter, many of us find ourselves operating dangerous machines. We run wood processors and woodsplitters to ready firewood. When the snow falls, as soon it will, we fire up our snowblowers. Be careful with these machines! A moment’s carelessness could cause you permanent injury and change your life forever. Shutting the machine off when working on it is the only way truly to ensure that your body parts do not become grist for the machine’s mill. Read the owner’s manual to determine what other safety precautions you should take in operating the machine. Regardless of how familiar you may be with machines in general, do not assume that you know all the idiosyncrasies of your machine without having read the owner’s manual.
If you do suffer injury as a result of operating machinery, get medical treatment promptly, and consider consulting an experienced products liability lawyer as well. A serious injury can have devastating consequences on your life. You want to make sure you know your legal rights.
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
Getting fired is a traumatic event, particularly when you feel the reason for the firing is unjust. The wronged employee, understandably, often feels a temptation to “vent”–to tell his supervisor what he really thinks of him, or to send a company-wide e-mail railing against all the injustices the employee believes exist at the company. The employee may even write a scathing e-mail (or, worse yet, post an entry on “Facebook”) lambasting the people in power at the company and “exposing” their evil motives.
If you find yourself the victim of an unjust firing, please resist the temptation to “vent.” Thomas Jefferson once said, “When angry, count ten before you speak, if very angry, count a hundred.” Keep this maxim in mind. Any rantings against your employer that you leave in your wake, whether oral or written, can be used against you to paint you as a disgruntled employee. Don’t give your employer this ammunition to use against you.
If you feel your employer has wrongfully discharged you, hold off on firing any “parting shots” until you speak with an experienced employment lawyer.