A big part of what lawyers do is help client’s minimize or eliminate civil liability. Aside from formal legal training, lawyers see where even the most careful clients unnecessarily incur liability and often run afoul of, or become entangled in, the legal system.
What can we learn from this and pass on? A lot.
Generally, there are seven (7) legal liabilities and commonalities lawyers see with some frequency, or which will occur to a legal certainty, that could be reduced, or even eliminated, with a little advance thought and planning.
The well-lived life is one free of the following avoidable legal entanglements :
Uninsured and under-insured motorist insurance.
The first relates to under-insured and uninsured motorists. Clearly, uninsured motorists should not ply the streets because it is a crime to do so. Nevertheless, this is a fact of life.
Although actual number vary widely, are hard to come by, and even harder to quantify, a large number of drivers who cris-crossing the roads in Indiana and throughout the United States are under-insured or uninsured. In Indiana, along with many other states, an under-insured driver may well have insurance.
However, he or she may have the State’s minimum, which is $25,000 (individual)/$50,000 (aggregate of a single accident). Although this may sound like a lot, it is easily exceeded by an ALS transport, ER visit and a simple surgery.
Without under-insured coverage, which you pay for under your auto policy, this will be left to you to pay. The other driver may not pay or file bankruptcy.
In a staggering number of cases, up to one-third of drivers have no insurance at all; thus, without purchasing this coverage, you are left to bear the costs you incur by the other driver’s negligence. This is not fair, nor morally right, but a realistic and sobering fact.
Thus, in order to avoid such risk, at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we advise under-insured and uninsured motorist coverage for virtually everyone. This may keep you out of a lawyer’s office, where there is ultimately no remedy, and a life of financial ruin. You will be protected.
Ask your agent about this coverage today. Determine if its costs are worth the peace of mind.
Credit monitoring and identify theft.
With identity theft running rampant, it is easy for the average consumer to fall victim. Even assuming the financial obligations are borne by the creditors, years of low credit scores and mis-identification with a deadbeat creditor remain ahead.
However, careful monitoring of all three (3) credit bureaus is an ideal way to mitigate this risk. With any credit inquiry, an electronic message is sent to you. Credit card companies do a very good job with the offer of these services.
In addition, certain companies have very aggressive loss-management programs. These monitor spending habits, send e-mails with purchase and balance updates, and, sometimes, even make calls to card-holders with unusual purchases.
Yes this is somewhat self-serving in that it protects the issuer from loss, but also its cardholder from identity theft. American Express is one of the leaders in this area.
Typically, the monthly cost to join a credit monitoring service is less than $20.00 per month. Additionally, a number of these services (and homeowner’s insurance) also provide a number of tools for monitoring credit, disputing inaccuracies, and helping with identify theft.
A person considering reducing his or her risk and staying out of the civil litigation area should evaluate the service. Credit takes a life time to build and but a moment to lose.
A very inexpensive type of insurance is umbrella insurance. Insurers are keen to sell this coverage because they know very few cases exceed the underlying policy coverages. For this reason, the coverage cost investment is minimal. But it is a cash-cow of sorts for insurance companies.
However, if you find yourself in a case where the policy is exceeded, this coverage is there. In addition, umbrella insurance often provides additional coverage not found in the underlying policy. Prudence directs consideration of this excess coverage and is typically a win-win for the insurer and insured.
Unbeknownst to most Hoosiers is that Evansville, Indiana has a major earthquake fault zone running near it. The reason it is not talked about is because the frequency of quakes is minimal.
However, the severity of these infrequent quakes is high. Thus, every person seriously interested in minimizing his or her risk of loss should consider–and obtain–earthquake insurance.
This is particularly the case for brick and mortar and similar structures. Unlike stick-built, but sided homes and businesses (wood or vinyl), those with rigid facades just like brick or stucco, break and crumble.
Thus, in an earthquake, the damage may be considerable and render the structure unsafe to ever be repaired and re-occupied. This is a big, game-changing loss if uninsured.
Earthquake insurance is not inexpensive. However, relative to the risk with most man-made or natural disasters, such as water backup in a basement, the costs or repair or replacement associated with an earthquake may equal or exceed the value of the improvement on the property.
Consider earthquake insurance.
Quality of carrier.
The nightly television and cable ad spots are punctuated by insurance companies advertising the lowest rates. Clearly, none of us wants to overpay for insurance coverage, a service we never expect to use.
However, while there are reasonable differences as to loss reserves and premiums, some carriers may have lower rates for a reason. In fact, as with many, if not all, things in life, what you hear or see in the media may not reflect reality.
Insurance is certainly the case. Will your insurer pay a claim in a timely and hassle-free way if you have one? Can the insurance company weather a catastrophe with financial ruin. At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we observe wide variance between the quality of carriers.
The time to consider and make this informed determination is at the outset before a loss. This will help ensure your claims are paid in a timely fashion and minimize your need for any legal counsel to assist.
For the most part, the consideration should not be first made proceeding a call or meeting with legal counsel. Again a big part of living life to the fullest is learning from and acting upon the experiences of lawyers who are willing to share with you ways to avoid risk.
As Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates, we hope this blog information helps.
Short- and long-term goals.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we observe time and again a significant number of legal litigants wind up in a lawyer’s offices not because of some legal wrong, although that may appear to be the reason or case at first blush.
Instead, and in reality, it is because the client took the easy route to live life, and did not account for its inevitable bumps along, making and reaching short- and long-term goals to hopefully avoid them.
Sound too good to be true? Think about a potential problem and it may go away? That is indeed the case.
For example, a person determined to save and invest a prudent amount of his or her salary is unlikely, or at least less likely, to be wasteful and wind-up in bankruptcy or meeting with a lawyer as a business owner seeking restructuring of debt.
Clearly, this is not always the case, as market and other influences have brought down even the biggest of the business titans amongst us, such as Lehman Brothers.
Ultimately, to make the most of a short life, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates are strong believers in individuals and businesses having concrete short- and long-term plans. With these, some of the detours, which suck the financial and emotional life out of individuals and businesses, are or may be, avoided.
By way of example, a prudent, goal-oriented consumer is unlikely to gamble and exceed his or her budget for this entertainment, knowing the statistical odds against hitting it big. On the other hand, a less disciplined person without goals, including a budget, may well max a credit card thinking the next roll of the die, or pull of the slot, may be pay dirt.
Thus, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. does not necessarily advocate living a Spartan’s life, but a balance must be struck. The means by which this is accomplished is through living life with a plan and goals. The goal is simple, have goals.
Not all legal wrongs have a legal remedy.
America is a land of rags-to-riches stories. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates know this is borne out in facts. The million dollar jury verdict is one many lawyers seek. However, this fact, emboldened in the story of the day, often obscures the other 99% of cases.
In these, litigants sometimes spend time, emotion and dollars chasing an actual or perceived legal wrong that has no remedy. The Madoff-like cases of the US demonstrate this point.
Lawyers often have clients who are willing to spend their dollars chasing a remedy for a legal wrong, such as the breach of trust and loss of retirement funds that may come from a loss such as those investors who were tied with Madoff. That does not mean a client should do so.
Specifically, if ultimately there are no funds to seize or recover from, or limited funds, the legal wrong may have no legal remedy. A law and economics approach demonstrates this. If $1.50 is spent to recover a dollar lost, the net result is the additional loss of another $.50.
Nevertheless, in some cases this makes sense. A litigant may not be able to move on in life without at least taking some steps to try to reach recovery, but typically is should be a prudent and measured legal attempt relative to the client’s overall financial situation. That is clearly one of the purposes of law and lawyers.
However, where Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. lawyers believe good advocates rise to the top is where they advise their clients of this risk/benefit analysis and also the non-legal objectives that may be met by litigation, such as emotional contentment. But blindly spending money on principle, without a realistic chance of recovery, is another matter all together.
Where do you stand on this continuum. By this blog post, you know Ciyou & Dixon, P.C.’s position. May we be your advocated.
Similar goods and services are not the same.
A final legal liability matter Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys observe with disturbing frequency is the mindset that similar, or the same goods or services are, in fact, the same. Doctors, lawyers, cars and homes, to name a very select few, are not the same just because they possess that label.
Thus, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. lawyers strongly push clients to make educates choices about everything in their world. This fosters making a better decision and minimizing, or eliminating, the statistical probability of a bad outcome from an uneducated choice.
Disagree? Consider this: A less skilled doctor may leave you paralyzed, despite the fact the outcome is a common risk and medically acceptable. An attorney’s mis-step may result in criminal conviction or civil loss.
With a badly engineered car, its stopping distance may be too long or its windshield wipers ineffective, all resulting in a collision and bodily injury or death which would not occur with a better vehicle decision.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we hope these observations, reflective of our cumulative experiences, help you make the best choice in every facet of your personal and professional life. If we are successful, you may never need counsel or meet us. That is our essence.