Monday, February 28, 2011

Why Homeowners' Insurance is Important

  I am currently involved in a case where an accident victim has been countersued by the responsible party.  Upon learning this, I immediately asked the client's homeowners' insurer to defend the case.  While upsetting to the client in the short term, there is now an additional lawyer in the case fighting for my client with one paid by the insurer.
  Many clients do not understand the full benefits of a homeowners' insurance policy and think it applies only to persons actually injured at their home.  Whether issued by Allstate, State Farm, or any of the other major insurers, each of these policies protects the homeowner from being sued regardless of where the injury occurs.  Of course, there are exceptions made within the policy for things like intentional acts, car accidents and so on.   But the lesson to be learned is that there is no harm in asking your insurer for help.
  Another example of this is that most homeowners' policies include "medical payments coverage" to pay the medical bills fo someone hurt at your home regardless of fault.  This lets the homeowner make the gracious gesture of offering to pay for medical bills caused by an accident that no one feels good about.  Homeowners that are proactive and offer to pay medical bills or even to get in contact with their insurer are less likely to be sued.
   You always have to play your card hand smartly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

President's Day: Abraham Lincoln

The country celebrates President's Day this week with one of America's most significant Presidents being Abraham Lincoln.  Other Presidents who also happened to be lawyers include President Obama, President Clinton, and President Nixon.  Of this list, President Lincoln is most known for being a trial lawyer and being pragmatic in his representation. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is Local Government Responsible for Hazardous Conditions

I am working this week with high school student government classes attending an Alaska Supreme Court oral argument concerning a woman who suffered a serious injury as a result of tripping in an uncovered water main valve box:  basically an uncovered hole in the ground. 

The Municipality agrees that the hole should be covered but says that there is no evidence that a Municipal worker uncovered it or that the Municipality knew about it.  In response, the injured woman points out that it had been uncovered at least a week because another person had complained about it supposedly triggering a call to the Municipality.

The case raises several questions regarding governmental responsibility:  Who among us has not called a government office only to have the government worker encountered during the next visit say there was no record of the call?   Who should bear the consequences of the uncovered hole in the ground, the Municipality that created the hole or the woman who was injured as a result of the hole?

One always has to play their hand smartly.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Representation of Korean client

Last week, I attended a mediation with a Korean-speaking client for whom English was his second language.  Many lawyers avoid representing clients for whom English is a second language but I enjoy it.  It is a chance to understand a different culture and to learn about what prompted someone to leave their home and immigrate not just to the United States but also Alaska.

One of the challenges is making certain the client understands his case and can make knowledgeable decisions as to what is in his best interests.  With respect to translation, I relied on this client's son and family members are the most common translaters.  Beyond translation, however, it is important to explain legal issues in their simplest forms.  With lawyers having a tendency to make things more, as opposed to less complicated, this becomes an useful exercise for me.

You always have to play the hand that life deals you smartly.