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. 

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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.

What Is A Pedestrian Accident And What Should You Do After One?

A pedestrian accident occurs when a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian walker, runner, or biker during operation of the vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), around 5,000 people are killed in pedestrian accidents every year. Around 76,000 pedestrians will be injured each year. Many accidents occur when a pedestrian is jay-walking — meaning that it’s not always the vehicle operator’s fault.

That said, anyone who was abiding by pedestrian laws but was struck by a motor vehicle should seek advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. In order to build a case against the vehicle operator, negligence must first be determined.

The burden of proof relies on material evidence and witness/expert testimony to establish a defendant’s negligence in contributing to the pedestrian accident. According to FindLaw, negligence occurs when a defendant “owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances.” This might occur when a business owner fails to properly train an employee, who then gets into an accident during which a pedestrian is injured.

A third party might also be liable for the accident: the city, state, or municipality responsible for maintaining sidewalks or roads where the accident occurred. 

A number of pedestrian accidents occur due to reckless driving. Factors include: driving over the speed limit, texting or speaking on the phone while driving, failing to obey traffic signals, failing to signal, driving while intoxicated by drugs, alcohol, or exhaustion, or simply failing to account for weather conditions. 

Other pedestrian accidents occur when a walker fails to heed traffic signals (such as the “walk” signal) and disrupting the flow of traffic, failing to use a crosswalk, or assuming a vehicle will stop when entering a traffic lane. In these instances, the pedestrian is usually at fault — and a driver might be able to mount a case against them!

Premise liability law and pedestrian accident law are deeply connected, because pedestrian accidents might occur when a land maintainer fails to, well, maintain the land. If the conditions leading to the accident were created or exacerbated because of a land owner’s failure to make necessary repairs in the timely fashion, then either the pedestrian or the vehicle operator — or both — might be able to mount a lawsuit against the land owner.

If you were involved in a pedestrian accident — either as a pedestrian or the operator of a vehicle — then you should avoid panic. Call the police before you do anything else. Try to help the injured party if possible. Ask anyone who witnessed the accident to refrain from leaving the scene of the accident. Don’t actually say anything to anyone else. This means refrain from providing information to other drivers, the police, or insurers until you contact a lawyer.

Seek medical attention if you need it. Keep documentation of medical bills and witness testimony on hand when you meet with your lawyer — and remember to keep your head. You’re in good hands!

Open Container Laws Might Be Stranger Than You Think

If you’re old enough to drive, then you’ve probably heard that an open container — anywhere in your vehicle, and even technically closed — is enough to get you in legal hot water. Well, the truth is this: it depends completely on where you live. The biggest reason for the confusion is the difference between state law and federal law. In general, state law supersedes federal law, and municipal law supersedes state law. Sounds complicated? It is.

An open container is permitted in these states: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Keep in mind, that this law doesn’t necessarily permit a passenger to be drinking while the vehicle is in operation. Passengers may only drink in these states: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Mississippi might have the strangest (and most unexpected) open container law on the books. Believe it or not, the driver can drink an alcoholic beverage while operating the vehicle. Keep in mind that this is a state law, which means some communities might bar the practice altogether. And it’s always illegal by federal law. The safest course is to forego the booze — both legally and literally — until you’re safe at home.

Keep in mind that even when having an open container, drinking, or having a passenger who is drinking during the operation of a vehicle, the unfortunate driver who is pulled over will almost certainly be asked to perform a DUI test. It doesn’t take much booze to put you over the legal limit, so is it worth the risk? Probably not, but we’ll let you be the judge.

Some intoxication tests don’t work well and are not reliable. If you’re pulled over or charged with a DUI, we strongly suggest you find a lawyer who specializes in DUI law as soon as possible.

How Are Slip And Fall Laws Different In The U.S. Capitol?

Washington DC is known for having some of the most liberal, progressive laws in the entire nation — so much so, in fact, that about 90 percent of the city’s residents tend to vote Democrat, and most are also in favor of DC statehood. What do those laws say about work, construction, or curbside slip and fall accidents in the city? There are a few statutes to keep in mind, and you’ll want to get moving fast if you want to build a lawsuit.

Generally, it’s important to determine where the slip and fall occurred — not location-wise, but ownership-wise. Obviously, there’s nothing you can do if you have an accident at home when you own the building. But let’s say you’re leasing a unit from a landlord, and that landlord didn’t make necessary repairs to prevent your accident and injury. The landlord might be liable.

Similarly, if you take a tumble on a DC street or sidewalk, the municipality or even business owner might be financially responsible depending on where the accident occurred. Any question on who might be responsible? Find yourself a personal injury lawyer for help.

After you’ve determined who might be responsible for your slip and fall, it’s time to take a look at the laws. DC employs a “contributory negligence” statute that might reduce or eliminate your case’s merit if you were even partially responsible for the accident. For example, if you get into a fight on the street and trip over a pothole, then you’re out of luck — because the accident was partly on you. Your negligence contributed to the injury.

You might not have contributed to the accident, but the defendant of the lawsuit is almost certain to counter your case by arguing you did. That’s why it’s so important to keep impeccable documentation, including police statements, witness testimony, pictures, a written statement of what happened in your own words (and perhaps a journal), and medical bills. Washington DC doesn’t allow “comparative negligence” in personal injury cases, which means your award won’t be reduced by a percentage of the blame assigned to you.

But that’s not good news. DC’s contributory negligence means you get nothing if you have any amount of blame. It’s one of the less liberal-friendly DC statutes.

Then there is that phrase everyone hates to hear: “statute of limitations.” This puts a cap on the amount of time you have to build a case, starting from the time of the accident. DC’s personal injury or property damage statute of limitations is set at three years. You might have more or less time depending on circumstances, so discuss the details with your lawyer. 

How do you win a slip and fall case? Like any personal injury case, you need to prove that another party’s negligence resulted in your accident. For example, if the city knew about a pothole you tripped over but failed to fill it in a timely fashion, then you have a good case. The trick is actually proving that the city knew about the pothole. 

Biden’s Biggest Scandal Is His Dog “Major”

The importance of reigning in violent dogs can’t be overstated. And it starts from the time they’re born. Training needs to happen immediately, or “old dogs won’t learn new tricks.” President Biden’s dog “Major” recently had his second biting incident at the White House. This isn’t too big a shock — after all, both dogs are in a radically new environment where excitability can easily get the best of them.

Some dogs have two distinct modes: “walking” mode, where they’re on the move and understand that this is probably someone else’s territory. And “stationary” mode, where they’re on the lookout for potential threats to what is currently their territory. This is what gets many dogs into trouble. If your dog becomes aggressive to new visitors the second you stop moving, then you need to train harder.

We wouldn’t be surprised if these bites lead to a lawsuit against Biden sooner or later (especially if they don’t stop). If you were injured by a dog bite, you should seek the counsel of a personal injury lawyer right away. You don’t deserve to have to pay for medical bills because of someone else’s animal. 

Keep in mind that infection is the biggest predictor of how you’ll fare after a dog bite — and infection rates are high for dog or cat bites.

Emergency Medicine Physician Stephen Sayles III, MD says, “The No. 1 concern with these bites is infection. You may need hospitalization and require intravenous antibiotics. You should always see a primary care provider if you’re bitten.”

If the bite results in a breakage of skin and/or bleeding, clean the wound with soap and warm water immediately. Compress and wrap the wound with a clean cloth of bandage. Then get your butt to the doctor right away. If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last five or ten years, you’ll be getting one. When you return, your doctor will have given you step by step instructions for care — make sure you follow them.