Ohio Backyard Pool Liability

black-and-white-pool-1

Nothing beats cooling off in a pool on a hot summer day, but be aware that owning a pool comes with important responsibilities. In Ohio, homeowners may be liable for injuries that occur on their property, including incidents in or around swimming pools. What’s more, under the “attractive nuisance doctrine,” pool owners may be held liable for injuries to a child who is hurt while trespassing on their property.

To help mitigate your liability, it is important to take steps to protect your guests and the general public from injuries. Please keep in mind the following safety tips are general guidelines. Pool owners should make themselves aware of all applicable city, county, and state requirements.

Safety Measures for Backyard Pools

Fencing

  • Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the house from the pool area. Do not consider the house as a fourth side of a fence if children can access the pool from a door or opening.
  • The fence should be at least four feet high and separate the pool from the house and play areas of the yard.
  • Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward. Ensure that the latches are out of the child’s reach.
  • Consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks or alarms to prevent or notify you of entry into the pool area.
  • Always remove portable pool ladders when not in use.

Safety Equipment

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you have the following items near your pool to ensure that if the worst happens, you are ready to respond.

  • First aid kit
  • Scissors to cut hair, clothing or a pool cover, if needed
  • Charged portable telephone or cell phone to call 911
  • Flotation devices
  • Reach pole

Insurance

While your homeowner’s insurance may be sufficient to cover some pool-related injuries, you may want to consider adding additional coverage. Talk to your insurance provider about adding an umbrella policy, which provides liability coverage over and above your automobile or homeowner’s policy. For about $150 to $350 per year, you can buy a $1 million personal umbrella liability policy. An umbrella policy will help protect your assets from an unfavorable lawsuit arising from personal injury or property damage caused by you, members of your family, or hazards on your property for which you are legally liable. Exclusions may apply, always talk to an experienced insurance agent and read your policy carefully to insure you have appropriate coverage.

 

Elk & Elk Attorneys to Present at NBI Seminar

Elk & Elk Attorneys to Present at NBI Seminar

In the field of personal injury law, it is essential for attorneys and other legal professionals to possess a basic understanding of the human anatomy, types of injuries and common treatment options. An upcoming National Business Institute live seminar featuring presentations from three Elk & Elk attorneys will cover these topics.

Elk & Elk at NBI Seminar

NBI’s “Anatomy and Physiology 101 for Attorneys” will take place on Thursday, June 25, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland Downtown. The seminar has been approved by the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education for 6.0 CLE credit hours, and registration is $349 (includes book).

Click here to register.

The course is designed for legal professionals who handle cases related to personal injuries, insurance, workers’ compensation and/or disability, and will offer helpful insight into the medical aspects of common cases.

Attorneys Matthew J. Carty, Michael L. Eisner and R. Craig McLaughlin of Elk & Elk will present the following topics:

Matthew J. Carty

   Head Injuries: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Michael L. Eisner (presenting with Mary Hahn)

   Shoulder Injuries: 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

R. Craig McLaughlin (presenting with Lisamarie Pietragallo)

   Hand and Wrist Injuries: 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Uninsured Drivers: How They Can Affect You

Uninsured drivers affect everyone.I’m sure you don’t think much about uninsured drivers, but it’s very important to understand how they can affect every one of us on the roads. You should know what it means to be involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.

Even when all drivers involved in the accident are insured, it can be a difficult situation to handle. However, when you’re dealing with an uninsured driver, resolving the damage is even more challenging. The laws that govern automobile accidents differ from state to state. So, how uninsured drivers are handled depends on that state’s law. This is why you should work with a car accident attorney if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. In these situations, working with a qualified professional will give you peace of mind, especially if there were any injuries. A lawyer will be able to assist you with making a claim to your insurance company and help you figure out what damages should be paid by the uninsured party.

Did you know that nearly 1 in 7 drivers don’t have insurance? This means when you pay for your insurance policy, you are also paying to protect yourself from the uninsured drivers out there. Most auto insurance policies include provisions for damages or injuries caused by uninsured drivers. Depending on what state you live in, this addition can make your auto insurance much more expensive.

Even if you have all the right coverage, uninsured drivers are still treacherous for everyone. So, if you are involved in an accident, the wisest thing you can do to protect yourself is to call an accident lawyer and ensure that all of your needs are met.

Arthur M. Elk

My boss isn’t covered by Workers’ Comp. What happens if I get hurt at work?

Ohio attorney Gary Cowan discusses what to do if you’re injured at work but your employer isn’t covered by Workers’ Compensation.

 

With most employers, you have access to insurance if you’re injured on the job through a program called Workers’ Compensation.

Workers’ Compensation, or “Workers’ Comp,” is a fund that provides medical attention and treatment to employees after a job-related injury. So, what happens if you don’t have worker’s compensation available to you? Do you have any options to help pay for the harm you suffered?

No Workers’ Comp? – Three things you should know about bringing a lawsuit after a job-related injury

  1. The first thing your attorney will do is to determine whether your employer was at fault for the accident. Remember, even if your employer is not covered by Workers’ Compensation, you may still be awarded money due to their carelessness. An experienced personal injury attorney will question potential witnesses or even co-workers during an interview called a deposition to ascertain the cause of the accident and establish who was at fault.
  2. The next step will be to combat any claims made by the employer. Typically, a company will claim you were negligent in some part of your job and caused your own injury. To build a successful case, your attorney will need to prove your injury occurred due to someone else’s carelessness, rather than your own actions.
  3. Finally, your attorney will look for a way to resolve your case and bring you the compensation you deserve. Whether the fault lies with your employer, a third party or even a co-worker, a knowledgeable lawyer will research all possible methods of recovery through each insurance company and the various policies. By exploring all options, your attorney can help you recover costs related to your injuries – such as medical bills, lost wages and other expenses that you’ve incurred, including any future medical care you may need.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at http://www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Gary Cowan

Insurance Claims: Settling Too Early Can Be a Huge Mistake

Ohio personal injury attorney Bill Price explains why accepting an insurance provider’s settlement offer may not be the right decision.

One of the most common challenges you’ll face after an injury is the need for money. We already need it every day, but when you’re injured and can’t work, you need money more than ever to provide for your family.

To make matters worse, insurance companies know your situation. They know whether you’re living paycheck to paycheck or if you’ve been out of work for 6 months due to an injury – and they use this to their advantage.

Insurance companies deal with claims every single day. Claims just like yours. Claims that involve personal injury accidents like automobile crashes, tractor-trailer wrecks and even slip and falls. You don’t deal with an injury every day. In fact, the average person only brings one lawsuit against a company in their life regarding personal injury – if at all.

Insurance adjusters take that knowledge and use it against desperate, inexperienced injury victims. You don’t know whether your injury is worth $50,000 dollars or millions. What you do know is that with a family member out of work, bills can pile up quickly. Not only are there lost wages, but also medical bills, including hospital stays, prescription drugs and even physical therapy. For a struggling family, $50,000 can seem like a lot of money.

While an early settlement can help get you back on track and help pay off some bills, don’t accept an offer before seeking legal advice. An experienced personal injury attorney can look into the matter for you and help determine if more insurance money is available. Remember, a quick settlement may help right now, but what about future medical costs? If you’ve been seriously injured, it may take a very long time before you’re able to return to work – if ever. All future costs should be carefully examined in order to provide you and your family with the compensation you deserve.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

William J. Price

What To Do If the At-fault Driver Has Little or No Insurance

Ohio attorney Michael Eisner discusses what to do if you were injured in a car accident by a driver who does not have insurance or only carries very little coverage.

Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a very stressful situation as you try to recover from your injuries and resolve financial issues.

What happens if the driver who was at fault for the accident does not have any insurance or only carries the minimum coverage, which does not cover your costs?

To put yourself in the best position possible, you should purchase as much UM/UIM coverage as you can afford.

Uninsured Motorist (UM) was designed to provide a source of recovery when a driver without any insurance causes harm. UM coverage is paid by your insurance company to cover costs incurred due to the accident, subject to policy limits.

Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage will protect you if the at-fault driver has insurance, but not enough to cover your costs. With UIM coverage, your insurance company pays you the damages that you would have recovered had the other driver carried full coverage—also subject to the policy limit. For example, if your injuries incurred a cost of $100,000 dollars and the other driver only holds a $25,000 insurance policy, your own coverage would put in the rest of the money up to the amount of your policy.

Unfortunately, these situations are all too common. There thousands of drivers on the road who are uninsured or underinsured and they cannot cover your losses. These losses can include medical bills, hospital stays, prescription drugs, lost wages and any other costs associated with your injuries.

To recover under any of these types of policies, your attorney will need to present evidence demonstrating the other driver was at fault and that your insurance policy does not cover the complete costs of the injuries that you have suffered. What you’re technically doing at this point is filing a claim against your own insurance policy.

Filing suit against your own insurance company may sound strange. However, it is important to remember that you paid for this coverage to protect you in precisely these types of unfortunate situations. If your insurance company does not respond properly or handle the claim in an appropriate manner, it is your right to pursue the claim in court.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Michael Eisner

Garage Sales – what you need to know

yard-sale2Summer time is the peak season for garage sales. Kids and grown-ups alike have fun rummaging through their neighbor’s castoffs – hunting for a bargain or “new” treasure. But did you know when planning a garage sale, there are some very important legal issues to consider? Taking these simple steps before you host a garage sale may help prevent a great deal of legal problems down the line.

Check local permit requirements

Many cities require residents to purchase a permit (usually for around $5.00) before conducting a “home sale” – a sale of personal property to the public which is conducted on residential property. Local ordinances also may set parameters on things such as advertising (especially the placement of signs), hours of operation, the type of merchandise permitted, and the number of garage sales permitted each year. If you are part of a home owner’s association, there may be additional regulations that must be followed.

Insurance

Check with your insurance agent or company representative to be sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case you’re sued. Most standard home and renters insurance policies will generally provide at least $100,000 of liability coverage. This coverage pays for both the cost of defending you in court and court awards for damages —up to the limit of your policy.

Most standard homeowners or renters policies have “no-fault medical coverage” as part of the liability protection. This coverage allows someone who gets injured on your property to simply submit his or her medical bills to your insurance company without having to file a lawsuit. However, most policies only include about $1,000 to $5,000 worth of this type of coverage.

Depending on your property value, you may want to consider raising your liability coverage to at least $300,000 to $500,000. If you need more coverage, excess liability or umbrella coverage can provide additional protection and won’t cost you more than $350 a year for $1,000,000 worth of coverage. 

The Insurance Information Institute offers the following guidelines for different types sales:

  • One Time Event: Yard sales that are one-time events for the sole purpose of selling unwanted personal items are generally covered under a standard homeowners or renters policy. However, it is important to have enough coverage, so be sure to check with your insurance agent or company representative.
  • Frequent Yard Sales: If you have frequent yard sales, it is a good idea to purchase a separate policy for business liability or an in-home business policy. These policies are available from many homeowner’s insurance companies and specialty insurers that sell stand-alone in-home business policies.
  • Charity Fundraiser: If you are staging a sale to raise money for a charity, you will most likely be covered under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. But you can also contact the charity to see what type of insurance protection they would be willing to extend to you if necessary.

Plan your sale with safety in mind:

  • Repair loose railings and cracked concrete which may cause injuries.
  • Place sale items so that there is enough space to move about without tripping.
  • Avoid placing items too close to stairs and ledges where people could fall.
  • Keep sharp objects such as knives and scissors out of the reach of children.
  • Do not sell items that you know are unsafe or hazardous including recalled items.
  • Keep your pets safely indoors during the sale, both for their safety and to avoid someone getting hurt. Some dog breeds can become very protective when there are several strangers on their property.
  • If someone does get injured, make sure that you get them medical attention as soon as possible.

The resale of recalled items is against the law

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 made it illegal to resell recalled or other dangerous children’s items. Used car seats, old cribs, second-hand bike helmets, and even outdated children’s coats can pose risks. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site www.cpsc.gov/ for product recalls before hosting a garage sale. Car seats can be checked at www.nhtsa.gov/.

Taxes

As a general rule, you don’t have to pay taxes on items you sell at your occasional garage sale. The IRS assumes you’re selling household items you bought and used for personal use and you’re selling them for less than what you paid for them. However, you can’t take a deduction for any losses, either. If you frequently sell items at garage sales or make profits on items, talk to a tax attorney or another tax professional to make sure you avoid problems with the IRS.

 

Get your Car Insurance Company to Work for You

by Arthur Elk

Insurance companies can often seem like large, impersonal corporations that are protecting their own interests above all else. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Your insurance company provides a service that you contracted as a customer, so you deserve to be treated as such. As an experienced car accident lawyer, I work with clients to achieve a positive resolution to insurance claims, and I have developed knowledge over the years to give substantial advice. The following are a few key pros and cons when dealing with insurance companies and information you should take care to remember in the event of an accident.

First, ensure that you initiate contact with your insurance company as soon as possible in the event of an accident. After health and law enforcement concerns have been considered, contact your insurance agent. Second, keep a log of all correspondence and conversations with your insurance company, including names, times, and dates as well as a summary of the relevant facts or particular details of your claim.

Third, save all paperwork and receipts relating to your accident. You should request copies of charges from medical providers and estimates from automotive repair locations. Keep physical copies of documents in case you need to refer to them at a later time. When you work with a car accident lawyer, they can help maintain records like police reports, medical records, and other correspondence.

Lastly, be aware of time limits. Most insurance policies carefully detail deadlines for filing of claims. Be sure that you file any claims before these deadlines pass.

Most of all, remember that you are a customer of the insurance company. You have legal rights, and they in turn have legal obligations. If you are in any doubt of your position, a skilled car accident attorney can give quality advice and help you through the process.

 

Sources:

“Get the Most from Your Auto Insurance” by Kelsey Owen, Better Business Bureau, March 14, 2013.

20 things to know about auto insurance” by Dana Dratch, Bankrate.com.

BP Fighting Payments to Spill Victims

In what appears to be an effort to intimidate oil-spill victims, BP is sending out hundreds of letters, warning settlement recipients they may have to return part of the money. BP is currently appealing the settlement process, alleging administration errors that resulted in overpayments and “fictitious awards.”

According the Houston Chronicle, “One of the letters says if the appeals court reverses a claimant’s award, BP reserves its right to recover money the client received as well as the cut that went to the claimant’s lawyers.” A hearing for the case is scheduled for July 8 in the Fifth Circuit court of appeals in New Orleans.

The oil company agreed to a settlement last year for its part in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe that killed 11 people and released 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days. Recipients include local businesses and individuals that sustained economic losses, ranging from property damage to medical bills.

The letters are just part of the BP’s full-out media blitz. The London-based company also took out full page ads in main U.S. newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal accusing “trial lawyers and some politicians” of encouraging businesses to submit thousands of claims for inflated or non-existent losses. Lawyers for the plaintiffs contend that “it’s “BP’s problem” if the corporation underestimated the total amount of the settlement. Payments were clearly spelled out in the agreement and that BP “shouldn’t be allowed to push the rewind button now.”

Stand up to bullies

It is important to know that businesses will use every measure available to them in order to protect their bottom line. BP’s carefully worded letter announces that it “reserves any rights it may have to recover funds…”  However, it does not say that BP actually has any rights to recover settlements it already paid.

Intimidation tactics are just one of the ways a corporation may try to discourage injured parties from pursuing legal action. If you have been injured and a corporation or insurance company is denying your claims, call 800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online for a free consultation.

 

Source: “BP warns some oil spill claimants” By Harry R. Weber, Houston Chronicle, June 27, 2013.

Beware of Travelling Contractors

In the wake of recent storms, Attorney General Mike DeWine has issued a warning regarding traveling contractors. He cautions Ohioans that some contractors may try to take advantage of desperate storm victims as they struggle to rebuild their homes.

“After severe weather hits, it’s important to be vigilant about home improvement scams,” DeWine said. “Some contractors track storms so that they can travel to affected communities to offer their services to homeowners who experience damage. Unfortunately many of these ‘storm-chasers’ do not follow Ohio laws and do nothing to help consumers.”

DeWine offers the following tips for homeowners who are looking for contractors and/or other repair or removal services:

  • Research the contractor before signing any contract. Obtain the name, address, and phone number of any contractor agreeing to do work for you. Ask for identification from the company’s representative. Check out consumer complaints with the Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Be cautious. Do not accept services from any contractor who refuses to provide proper identification, does not have a permanent place of business, cannot provide references, or insists on a large payment before work begins.
  • Get written estimates. Do some shopping and get estimates from more than one contractor. Refuse to do business with a company that does not provide a written estimate.
  • Get a sworn statement. Insist that the contractor provide you with a sworn statement that all materials have been paid for and all subcontractors have been paid. This will protect you from liens which may be placed on your property if the contractor fails to pay all suppliers and subcontractors.
  • Never sign over your insurance check to a contractor. If you are financing the transaction, arrange for a certificate of completion with your bank. The bank will pay the contractor for each completed stage of the job only after you give your permission.
  • Be wary of a demand for a large down payment (more than one third of the total cost) and/or the use of high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Be cautious of people who knock on your door and want to do the work immediately. Businesses who solicit you at your home are required to give a three-day right to cancel and should not begin the work before the three days. Consumers may waive this right.

If your vehicle was damaged in the storm, contact your insurance company to determine what your plan covers. If you take your vehicle to a repair shop, you have the right to a verbal or written estimate if the anticipated cost of the repair or service is more than $25. In general, if the cost will be more than 10 percent of the original estimate, the shop must get your approval for the additional costs.

Ohioans who have questions about a contractor or those who believe they have been treated unfairly should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 1-800-282-0515.

 

Source: “Beware Of Traveling Contractor Scams Following Storms, Attorney General DeWine WarnsFayette Advocate, June 17, 2013.