Frequently Asked Questions
- Question: What should I do if I am in an accident?
- Question: If I rely on “factors other than age” in a decision to terminate an employee’s employment, will the courts take those factors into consideration if the former employee sues my company?
- Question: What steps can be implemented to reduce workplace accidents?
- Question: What is Probate?
- Question: Do I need a trust?
- Question: I'm starting a business, what type of entity should I use?
- Question: Do I need an attorney for a house closing?
- Should I stay at the scene of the accident?
DO NOT LEAVE THE SCENE. Leaving the scene of an accident before the police file a report could subject you to criminal charges.
- What if someone has been injured?
If someone has been injured in the accident, call for an ambulance immediately. Assist to the extent you are able but remember never to move an injured person unless they are otherwise in critical danger.
- Should I call the police?
Absolutely. The police will document important information about the accident, which typically includes information about the drivers, the witnesses and the road conditions.
- What information should I collect?
Document everything you can; write down the name, address, phone, driver's license numbers and insurance company of the other driver. Also, record the other car’s make, model and license plate number. Make a list of witnesses and include their names, addresses and phone numbers. Be sure to note the driving conditions and record where and when the accident occurred.
- Should I take photographs?
Take pictures! Always keep a disposable camera in your car or use your phone camera. Be sure to use it to get as many photographs of both automobiles as possible, both inside and out, as well as the scene of the accident. If the wreck is serious enough, consider contacting a professional photographer to supplement your own pictures.
- What should I do with my car if it’s not
Do not send your car to a city lot or to the tow company as it will inevitably end up incurring storage fees. Instead, have the car towed directly to a shop that will not charge you for storage pending repairs. If your car has been totaled, sign the title over to your insurance company immediately while reserving your right to negotiate the value of the vehicle. This will insure you do not get charged for storage while you settle the value of your car with your insurer.
- What if it was my fault?
DO NOT ADMIT FAULT. Things you say after an accident can be used against you later. Questions of fault are complex and recovery often depends on who was more at fault between the drivers. Before accepting or admitting blame, speak with an attorney.
- What if I’ve been Injured?
Get to a doctor immediately if you think there is any chance you may have been injured in the accident. Go to the emergency room or see your private physician as soon as possible. Remember that some injuries may not manifest until hours or days after the accident and even minor soreness can be a symptom of a more serious injury. Also, while you are seeing the doctor, remember to take your time and concentrate on all parts of your body that you think might have been injured. Though you may have tremendous pain in your neck, do not forget to mention the tingling in your legs. Neglecting to tell your doctor about possible injuries early in the course of treatment enables insurance adjusters to argue those injuries could not have been caused by the car accident or you would have complained about it earlier. Also, always remember to:
- Follow the Doctor’s Orders: Abide by your doctor’s recommendations but ALWAYS make note of all your complaints and make sure your doctor notes them on your chart.
- Keep Track: Keep a journal of all your doctors’ visits, problems that you are having with pain, and any inability to do things or participate in activities because of your injuries. Be sure to keep track of chores, new responsibilities undertaken by your spouse and other expenses incurred as a result of your convalescence.
- Follow Up: If you are still in pain, make sure your doctor knows and writes it down on your chart. Be persistent if your injuries do not resolve.
- What about my other property that was damaged in
Be sure to document (and save) everything of value that was in your car and damaged in the accident. Keep a list of personal property in the vehicle. This will make recovering their value from the insurance company much easier. Do not throw out valuable personal property damaged in an accident; simply put it in a box and save it because the adjuster will want to see it and, generally, claim it for its salvage value after the insurance company settles with you.
- How am I going to get around while my car is in
If your car is totaled, most insurance policies will cover the cost of a rental car for a week to ten days. You may also be entitled to a rental car during the time that your car is being repaired, Check with your insurance agent or adjuster to find out whether you have rental car coverage and what rental car companies your insurer uses. This will avoid headaches down the line.
- The Other Driver’s Insurance Company is calling
– What should I tell them?
Do not make any statements to the other driver’s insurance company representatives! This point cannot be overemphasized. Any statements you make can and will be used against you. When you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance adjuster, politely but firmly inform them you are not prepared to discuss the accident with them until you have consulted with an attorney.
- Do I need an Attorney?
If you have been involved in a serious accident or you have been injured, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney to make sure you recover everything to which you are entitled. If you have settled a claim on your own and are not satisfied, you should contact a lawyer before your claim becomes “stale.”
Remember: There is a two year statute of limitations in Ohio and a three year statute of limitations in Michigan for most claims resulting from an automobile accident. Also, there is a one year limitation period on uninsured motorists claims in Ohio and personal income protection claims in Michigan. You must contact an attorney before these limitation periods run out.
If you are involved in an automobile accident and have any questions, we would be glad to review your claim with you and make recommendations as to how you should proceed. Also, we would be happy to review your current insurance coverage and make recommendations concerning it.
Answer: The United States Supreme Court recently rendered a decision in Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Laboratory holding that, in certain cases, the employer bears the burden of proving that the termination decision was based on "reasonable factors other than age” (RFOA).
Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory laid off thirty-one employees, thirty of whom were at least forty years old. Some of the laid-off employees filed suit alleging a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA protects workers over the age of forty from discrimination based on age.
In a 7-1 decision, the Supreme Court held that the employer bears the burden of proving the RFOA under the ADEA. The Court acknowledged the difficulty employers face as a result of the decision: "[T]here is no denying that putting employers to the work of persuading fact finders that their choices are reasonable makes it harder and costlier to defend than if employers merely bore the burden of production."
How will the decision effect employers who are considering lay off decisions and other employment actions? Simply put, the plaintiff's burden of proof has been lessened.
Answer: Workplace accidents are an inevitable risk of running a business and their impact on employees and employers cannot be overstated. However, by following well-established accident prevention, response and investigation procedures and retaining the services of a qualified and experienced attorney, business owners can minimize the risks to their employees and their businesses.
Before an Accident Occurs:
Risk Assessment Program: Complete a comprehensive review of your jobsite and identify potentially hazardous situations before they cause injury. A good risk assessment program will evaluate the following:
First-Hand Employee Experiences: Involve the employees who actually perform the work.
Work Practices: Evaluate how, where and when work is being performed. What risks are posed by a job’s different facets?
Environmental Variables: Do environmental factors impact the performance of a job?
Compliance with Law and Standards: Review OSHA regulations and state laws or local ordinances.
Prior Accident History: Review OSHA reports at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
Remove or Diminish Hazards: Implement procedures to eliminate or diminish exposure to known hazards.
Communicate Effectively: Training is an indispensable part of your accident prevention program as is the effective communication of your company’s work rules.
Enforce Work Rules: Once the risks have been identified and safe work practices are in place, make sure to enforce work rules.
After an Accident:
Provide Immediate Assistance: Provide proper medical treatment from qualified professionals.
Investigate the Occurrence: Review the operation of the equipment and gather information about the occurrence. Contact your attorney and notify your carrier.
Isolate the Scene; Preserve the Evidence: Limit access to the site to essential personnel. If authorities appear at the site, consider contacting your attorney.
Notify the Authorities: Do you know when notification to OSHA must be made? Do you know when OSHA requires employers to file incident reports?
Addressing the Repercussions:
Control Access and Keep a Visitor Log: Again, only essential personnel should have access to the site. Keep a log of anyone outside the company who visits the accident scene. The log will help you and your attorney with the investigation.
Separate Privileged Documents: Any correspondence between you and counsel (including documents generated at the attorney’s request in anticipation of litigation) should be kept separate from other documents. In the event of litigation, this step will simplify the discovery process.
Electronically stored information: New rules are in effect governing electronically stored information. The scope of the rules is quite broad and steps must be taken to avoid the repercussions for loss of electronically stored information.
The OSHA Inspection: In the event of a serious accident or death, OSHA will conduct an investigation of the accident scene. We recommend that you contact counsel prior to the investigation. You should be advised as to the rights afforded to employers under OSHA. For instance, a designated company representative may accompany the OSHA compliance officer during the inspection. The importance of an attorney-coordinated investigation in advance of possible regulatory and/or civil proceedings is essential in these cases.
Answer: Probate is the process through which the courts recognize a will and transfer title to property to a deceased person’s heirs. It involves publication of the will, which then becomes a public record, and it can be expensive. It can also take a great deal of time. Call us to discuss ways to achieve the effects of probate without the time, expense and public exposure associated with probate.
Answer: It depends. There are many types of trusts. One common type is a revocable self-declaration of trust. The property held in the trust will pass to the trust’s beneficiaries without going through probate. Trusts can also be used very effectively to not only pass title to property but also to save on estate taxes, which in many cases, can be substantial. Call us to discuss your particular needs.
Answer: Limited liability companies are a very popular form of entity for new businesses because they protect the owner’s personal assets from creditors of the LLC without imposing a second level of taxation. S corporations can also achieve these goals, but have certain restrictions which may make them inapplicable to your business. Each situation is different, however, so please contact us to discuss your unique needs.
Answer: We think so, and would advise both the buyer and seller to have their own attorneys. Call now for a consultation concerning the buying or selling of a home. Better yet, call before you sign an offer to purchase. Possession, tax pro-ration, required repairs, inspection reports, financing, and making sure you obtain good title are all things your attorney can help you with.Please call Dick Wolff at (419) 252-6253, Tom Lupica at (419) 252-6298 or Michael Bragg at (419) 252-6271 with any questions regarding your business and real estate needs.