How Is “Premise Liability” Defined By Law

Most people have never even heard the term “premise liability” used, but it can be relevant in any situation where a personal injury occurs. This is how the law defines premise liability, and what you should do when you think you might have a personal injury claim.

“Premise liability” is an umbrella term under which most other aspects of personal injury law fall. Personal injuries might include: animal bites, slip and fall, danger on the premises, negligence, inadequate security, non-gated swimming areas, inadequate maintenance, unsupervised children, etc. 

But these types of personal injury are only included under the premise liability umbrella when the negligent party is the property owner. Usually, restaurant owners or retail management are responsible for keeping the brick and mortar “premises” safe and secure. 

You can always visit the company’s website to find the names of individuals who might have been responsible for increasing security at the brick and mortar location where you were at the time of an incident.

There are situations where the owner of the infrastructure might not be responsible for injuries that occur there. For example, a landlord might not be responsible for injuries that occur in your rental unit if the lease made you responsible for the underlying cause. For example, if a friend punches you in the face, you can’t sue your landlord for failing to establish adequate security measures on the premises. 

Then again, if your child drowns in the pool because the gate was broken — and your landlord knew about the maintenance issue but did nothing — then you have a case. The same is true if someone breaks into your apartment by taking advantage of a locking mechanism defect when that lock was recalled. It’s your landlord’s responsibility to know about these issues. Not knowing is tantamount to negligence. 

An example of liability of a store or restaurant owner might occur when the floor has been mopped but there is no “wet floor” sign to warn customers. There are less common occurrences, of course. Let’s say there’s a flickering light in the store. You walk underneath at the exact time the bulb explodes. A shard of glass lands in your eye. You’ll need surgery — and the store or restaurant owner is liable for the entire incident. 

“Duty of care” usually factors into premise liability cases. Duty of care is the measure of caution owed to a specific type of visitor. Sometimes state laws differentiate between “invitees,” or those who were invited to the property for business, versus “social guests,” who were invited there absent a professional relationship. 

Duty of care can also depend on other aspects such as age. A customer might not be owed the same duty of care as a child who swims at the apartment pool. Adults are expected to accompany children to these locations, but premise liability is why apartment complexes with pools usually have a lifeguard too. 

State law might also result in restrictions on how much a plaintiff might receive during a lawsuit or limit the amount of time someone has to file one.

Can I Choose Incarceration Over Probation?

The technical answer is no. The determination of whether or not a defendant receives jail or probation is entirely up to the judge. There’s one big caveat, though. The judge usually follows the recommendation of the prosecutor, who functions as the hand of the Attorney General’s office. But the prosecutor and a defense attorney will normally come to an agreement so a defendant can take a plea deal to avoid trial. 

What this means is simple: A defendant’s attorney has a big say in what the terms of that agreement will be. Does the defendant prefer incarceration over probation? They need only let their attorney know they’ve thought it through, and the attorney is ethically bound to attempt such an agreement. So whereas you can’t technically choose incarceration over probation — there’s the obvious loophole. 

Of course, not everyone would prefer to be jailed instead of enjoying freedom. Then again, there are benefits.

The first and most obvious? In jail, you get free room and board. Outside of jail, there are a plethora of fees associated with probation. They can add up. They might include a reporting fee, fines and court costs, and DWI education or vehicular alcohol lock fees if applicable. Many people who are on probation must also complete a number of hours of community service. That’s not the case when you’re stuck in jail.

Another benefit? Violating probation can result in stiff legal penalties than if you had committed the same crime outside of probation. That’s the point of probation! But if the defendant is likely to commit another crime while on probation, then the best option is to go to jail instead. At the end of the day, it might result in far less incarceration time.

It’s also worth noting that probation and jail time are disproportionate to one another because jail is considered the stiffer punishment. That means probation lasts a lot longer. Want the punishment over faster? Ask for jail.

Are Undocumented Immigrants Committing More Crime?

Many questions that we receive involve whether or not undocumented immigration causes increased crime rates in bigger cities like Los Angeles, Miami, or Dallas. The short answer is “no, not really…but yes, technically.” What exactly does that mean? Well, first you need to understand that simply being an undocumented immigrant is usually a crime. Overstayed your visa? Hopped the fence? Well, those are technically crimes. So when you hear how many undocumented individuals are criminals, that’s where those statistics are coming from.

Another reason why undocumented individuals are convicted of crime is the status quo. Those who flee to the country generally don’t do so because their pockets are leaking with American dollar bills. Plenty of people are stopped by police officers. If those officers don’t find a valid ID, chances are you’re getting arrested no matter who you are. It’s a lot more likely if they can’t find out who you are. On top of that, once arrested they can’t afford an attorney who can actually help.

An anonymous lawyer for the Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman said, “We always recommend immigrating to the United States the old fashioned way, but the truth is harder for most people to comprehend. It’s just not an option for everyone. Moving is a huge financial drain for most of us, and they’re not coming from places where wealth is the norm. Heck, even your average American would have more trouble just emigrating to Canada than they might expect. It’s tough.”

And some people just think immigrants are immune from the law in the United States. They aren’t. When they commit a crime, they’re treated with far more scrutiny than anyone else. But if you were the victim of a crime committed by an undocumented individual, you have the legal right to call the police to report the crime or sue in civil court if there were damages. 

What would surprise some people in this country is that the rates of “actual” crime among undocumented immigrants are usually lower than those of the native population. One Texas study published in the PNAS used data compiled from arrest data compared crime rates in various groups, including undocumented individuals, legal immigrants, and native-born citizens living in Texas. 

The study found that citizens of the United States were about twice as likely to be arrested for a violent crime, even more likely to be arrested for drug-related offenses, and a whopping four times more likely to be arrested for property crimes. What do these statistics actually mean? Well, when you remove the “they’re all criminals” element, undocumented immigrants and fair immigrants aren’t actually committing any crimes. Undocumented immigrants are considered criminals just for being here. 

Other studies have found similar data to satisfy similar conclusions. The perception that immigrants commit more criminal activity will likely persist due to news outlets like Fox News or popular public figures like Donald Trump, who twist the truth or tell outright lies. But perception is only reality for the people who are forced to suffer for it. 

New DUI Laws Going Into Effect In 2022

You would never know it from the headlines that greet you every morning, but 2022 will mark changes to many laws governing penalties for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Many states have implemented such changes in order to strengthen existing laws. You might see a stronger police presence on the roads during the holidays. You might see more checkpoints where none existed before. 

One bipartisan $78 billion transportation bill currently sitting in Congress is aimed at reducing the number of DUI fatalities. Tens of thousands of people are killed in automobile accidents every year, 10,000 of which are the result of alcohol. 

The bill is part of the larger $1 trillion infrastructure package. $17 billion has been set aside for auto safety. The bill’s language says that all vehicles made starting in 2026 must include technology to “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”

Those convicted of DUI will know that similar technologies — albeit not passive ones — already exist and are in use. Sometimes those convicted must use a breathalyzer attached to the vehicle before the car will unlock. Fail the breathalyzer and you cannot drive the car. But new technologies would need to be developed to make the same system work passively. 

What you might not already know is that several automakers are already working on it. BMW, General Motors and Nissan are trying to make cars with infrared cameras that check for inattentiveness or impairment to save lives. If the driver shows signs of impairment, a warning sounds. Continue the behavior, and the warning becomes louder. If the behavior continued after that, then the car would automatically trip the hazard lights, decelerate, and pull to the side of the road. No word on whether or not the authorities would automatically be called. 

Other safety features (like emergency braking) that are mostly standardized already will become so by law.

How Is Condominium Defined By Law?

We all know that where you live has everything to do with the law. You might be blasted by unusual tax codes in New York or Florida, but be much more familiar with those in Kansas or Arkansas. But what type of dwelling you live in can mean different laws you have to follow as well. For example, the Florida Condominium Act says that board members cannot be compensated for the related services they provide (in most cases). 

But what does that even mean? What’s the difference between an apartment and condominium and why are they governed by different laws in different states? 

Oxford Languages defines a condominium as “a building or complex of buildings containing a number of individually owned apartments or houses.” Anyone who has ever lived inside a normal apartment building might be feeling confused. 

It’s all about ownership! You rent an apartment. But when you live in a condo, you own your apartment — which is no longer defined as an apartment. Simple, right? 

That’s also why the laws are so different. We tend to treat lease agreements much differently than purchase agreements. The biggest thing most condo owners need to know is that their landlord will pay the property taxes (just like your landlord in an apartment). The other differences between a condo and apartment are superficial. Generally, you might find similar or the same amenities at both.

From there, the other differences are probably intuitive. Because you own the condo in which you reside, you are also responsible for all maintenance fees. One of the biggest reasons that someone might choose to buy a condo instead of rent an apartment is that condominiums gain or lose equity the same way houses do. Real estate means investment. Sometimes that means more profit down the road, i.e. you can sell your condo for more than it was worth at the time of purchase. 

You can view our website partner for more information or to find legal help in NYC.

Who typically owns a condo? Prices for a unit inside a condominium are usually marginally lower than those paid for a home. Still, those looking to make a first home purchase might choose a condo for that reason. They can always sell for profit and buy a more expensive home later. Although the unit’s maintenance is a responsibility belonging to the owner, the actual property will be maintained by the landlord. That means no mowing the lawn or trimming the hedges. 

One of the biggest draws to home ownership is relative privacy. You won’t find any of that in a condo. But maybe you like the sense of community. There will be condominium rules shared by all. You’re more likely to be close to businesses when living in a condo — so you might be able to get away with no car. That’s another benefit, right? 

You won’t need renter’s insurance, but you will need condo insurance. This will legally cover the owner against the costs of certain types of damage (such as flooding or fire) and help pay for the relevant repairs. 

What Is A Personal Injury Cap For Non-Economic Damages?

Those visiting our site will recognize how strongly we believe in a person’s right to fair compensation. This is even more true when a person’s injury was caused by a massive organization’s gross negligence. Sadly, sometimes state, local, and federal governments limit the amount that a person can receive in non-economic damages. This is known as capping. There are arguments on both sides. 

The first thing you need to know is that there are three basic types of damages. One type is economic. Those are your medical bills, wages lost, and everything else easy to calculate. The second type is non-economic. Those are different because they can’t be calculated the same way. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and these are what governments like to limit. The third type is punitive. These damages are punishments imposed by a judge because the level of negligence called for them.

Those who support non-economic damage caps believe that the caps help keep premiums and rate hikes low. Many judges have allowed plaintiffs verdicts in excess of these caps based on the argument that they do not, indeed, reduce premiums — and because they certainly are not fair to the injured party.

Judge Jose M. Rodriguez recently ruled that a Florida law limiting non-economic damages was unconstitutional for this reason and harmed thousands of victims of medical malpractice. He said that the very concept of non-economic damages was outdated and violates “equal protection under the Constitution.”

Part of the reason he gave is inflation. The law limited caps to $350,000 which would be $750,000 when he made the ruling in 2018. This had been the plaintiff’s argument and the judge agreed.

There are other “caps” that have nothing to do with damages. For example, we’ve all heard the phrase “statute of limitations.” These legal codes essentially place a cap on the amount of time a person has to make a particular case. Many states limit personal injury cases to two to five years.

Will A Personal Injury Settlement Affect My Social Security Disability Benefits?

When a United States citizen becomes disabled, he or she might become a recipient of social security disability benefits (SSDI). These are only applicable when the potential recipient has worked long enough to receive those benefits — they usually aren’t available to just anyone. For example, an undocumented worker wouldn’t be able to apply and receive SSDI (we hear a collective sigh of relief from our more conservative readers).

That said, anyone in “need” can apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) without paying into the pool.

We receive a number of inquiries from SSDI recipients who have been injured by another party wondering if a personal injury lawsuit and settlement would affect their benefits. We receive a number of inquiries from people who are still waiting on SSDI after turning in an application. In these latter cases, the people seeking compensation via civil litigation usually only applied for SSDI because of the injury that led to said litigation.

In either case, SSDI benefits will not be impacted by any damages repaid through civil litigation. Anything you win through a settlement or in a courtroom verdict is generally yours to keep, minus the portion your lawyer sucks away. The same is true if you’re a Medicare recipient. SSDI also remains unaffected by other insurance benefits, excluding workers comp.

However, if you’re an SSI recipient, a personal injury settlement would likely mean your eligibility status would be revoked — so it’s important for you to know the difference before mounting a big lawsuit.

A social security law firm can help facilitate collaboration between different law practices when necessary. This is especially necessary when you seek SSDI at the same time as another lawyer is helping you build a personal injury case against a negligent party. And if you’re not 100 percent sure whether you’re on SSI or SSDI, then you should speak to your social security law attorney about the difference — because your personal injury attorney would benefit from a civil settlement, and there’s no reason to suggest a potential conflict of interest when you don’t have to.

There are ways of “protecting” SSI benefits if you still wish to mount a personal injury case. One way to do this is to create a special needs trust (SNT) for any personal injury settlement damages. If you win the case, into the SNT they go. You would still be able to access the funds, just in a different way. Again, the best way to consider this course of action is to speak with your attorney first.

Unfortunately, if you still work but collect SSDI and are injured (again) at work, then your workers comp might be impacted by the SSDI you already collect. There are exclusions based on certain expenses — including legal fees — that you can use to offset the difference. Speak to your attorney!

When Is It Illegal To Kick Someone Off Their Health Insurance?

We previously discussed the possibility that COVID-19 — the very thing that health insurance is supposed to financially protect us against — resulted in the loss of employment, which in turn could leave someone suddenly without insurance. That makes us financially vulnerable in these uncertain times, and could spell financial doom if COVID strikes. A lot of people are asking when insurance providers can legally kick someone off their insurance. Here’s our answer!

Many people are dropped from their health insurance due to payment snafus. This might be the result of a clerical error on behalf of the provider, or it might be the result of an automated billing system that ended or changed — and you forgot to check. The Affordable Care Act increased the restrictions on insurance providers who want to suddenly cancel coverage for frivolous reasons, but the issue is still complicated. It still causes headaches.

Before the ACA passed, most states had allowed insurers to cancel coverage without warning if they discovered that the insured party was ill or became pregnant. The ACA still allows insurers to cancel coverage if the insured fails to pay up or knowingly provides false information on an application.

Needless to say, these are the two reasons that insurers often give when they drop coverage. 

But the cancellation should never be sudden. The ACA requires insurers to provide notification when a policyholder neglects to make payments on time. The policyholder has three months to continue making payments or face total cancellation of the insurance plan. The problem is that some people lose coverage without notification because of a loophole when they make too much to justify a subsidy that was previously provided. In this case, most states mandate a 30-day window before coverage can be dropped — but not all states.

If you believe that an insurance provider dropped coverage illegally and without notifying you under the ACA, then contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Can I Sue For Domestic Violence?

First things first: if you were the victim of domestic violence, then you’ll want to remove yourself from that living situation as soon as possible, seek both medical and emotional support, and then address any legal issues. Call the police, ask to file charges, and obtain legal counsel to smooth the process. In general, we suggest that an abused spouse divorce the abuses immediately. Divorce isn’t always a rapid or smooth process, but in these cases a judge is likely to help you out and streamline the process as much as possible.

Keep in mind that criminal and civil proceedings are separate: they don’t mutually exclude one another from occurring.

A spokesperson for Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. said, “We do see divorce cases that involve ongoing domestic violence proceedings. Those criminal proceedings are generally separate from our civil cases, and we try to keep it that way. The best case scenario is that the violent partner is not involved in the process. And that’s the most usual scenario, too, because a judge will almost always rule in favor of a spouse who has had to deal with a violent home through no fault of their own. It’s a tough scenario.”

A common example is made using the criminal murder case against O.J. Simpson. He was acquitted, but the family of the deceased still successfully sued Simpson for millions. Things might be slightly different depending on the case, however. For example, the victim of domestic violence might be allowed to sue for restitution in a criminal case, which makes a civil lawsuit redundant and more easily dismissed.

A common question made by a victim of domestic violence is whether or not they can “drop the charges” later. The short answer is no, absolutely not. It’s always up to the D.A.’s office whether or not to drop the charges or continue with prosecution. The office will absolutely hear you out if you believe the situation was misconstrued or blown out of proportion, but in general you have no real say in the matter. 

There’s a good reason for that: when the police are called, there is generally a reason why. Just because tempers have cooled and the situation doesn’t seem as momentous as it once did doesn’t mean that a crime was not committed. 

Unfortunately, not all states allow family members to sue one another. These include: Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. You also can’t sue a family member in civil court in Washington D.C. These ridiculous laws were built on the notion that allowing one family member to sue another could “break” the family unit. Sometimes, these laws are bypassed in domestic violence cases or disputes.

You have a number of options when suing for domestic violence damages, just as in any other personal injury case. These include: medical expenses, lost wages or income, future lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering. You may also sue for punitive damages in some states.

What To Do After A Boating Accident?

Boating accidents occur when boat operators fail to avoid collision with other boats or underwater objects — but in almost every case, you can only take legal action when another boat operator is involved in the accident. Hit an underwater rock, and you can’t exactly sue the rock! In any case, there are a number of steps you should take during and after a boating accident.

First and foremost, call the coast guard, police, or whatever authority is responsible for the jurisdiction in which you are operating your boat. Inform them of what to expect when they arrive on the scene. You’ll want to let them know if either boat is in danger of sinking and whether or not rescue services might be necessary.

Second, try to conduct a rescue if you’re trained to do so. Throw a life jacket or safety ring if the other boat is sinking. Do not leave your boat unless absolutely necessary.

If the area is heavily trafficked, then ask other boat operators to move aside and remain in the immediate vicinity so police can question them. Take witness statements if and when appropriate. You might need those statements in court later. Your personal injury attorney will certainly want to see them.

Once the accident scene is cleared and you are free to leave, seek medical attention for any injuries. Be sure to keep all bills and medical documents in a folder or binder. Add the witness testimony, police statements, and your own written explanation of what happened. This will all help your lawyer determine whether or not a case can be built. 

Keep a journal as you recover. This will help you organize your thoughts and give you a better chance of recollecting the events that occurred. A judge might be interested to know how you felt when determining damages for pain and suffering.