A story of poor construction

Posted by on Oct 4, 2017 in Real Estate Litigation

I own a new house. It’s my first house, and I’ve bought it brand new. You would think this was something to really celebrate, but I have to tell you, recent events have turned this crucial moment of adulthood into a real nightmare.

It all started with a loud bang. I heard that about a week after I finally moved into my house. When I went downstairs, I found some of the air ducts had fallen through the ceiling and landed on the floor. The mess was actually the least of my problems. When I called the next day to complain to the construction company, that’s when my trouble really began.

First, they wouldn’t return my calls. Every time I called, I was told the boss was away and would call me back within a day. That went on for a week. By then, I was worried the whole house would fall down. I contacted an appraiser from another company, and he told me much of the construction was quite shoddy. The walls were weak, the ceiling wasn’t holding up well, and there was a leak somewhere and some early signs of water damage. The whole house was crumbling. Still no word from the construction company.

When I finally got hold of someone in authority and complained (quite loudly and angrily of course), I was reprimanded over the phone and told the issues weren’t their problem. Every house they built was built with integrity, and I must have destroyed my own home somehow. When I mentioned how unlikely it was I could destroy my home in two weeks, he hung up.

Again, being offended by these people was the least of my trouble. I now have a mortgage, and I also had massive bills coming my way to repair my house top to bottom if I couldn’t get these people to come out and do it.

Finally, I got desperate and contacted some lawyers about the whole situation. With a bit of advice, I called back and threatened a lawsuit. I dropped the lawyer’s name. This finally got some results. Now, the construction guys are set to come out again tomorrow. Hopefully, they fix the home top to bottom, but I have it in the back of my mind, I may actually need to sue anyway. I just don’t know if I can trust the house’s structure if you know what I mean. I’d hate to live here two years and have the floor fall through.

I love this house. I had a small hand in designing it. But right now, I think it may be best to walk away from it if I can. I’m going back to see that lawyer to discuss my options.

My great moment has already been ruined, and I’m looking to go back to renting as soon as I can. What a tragedy.

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Taxi Service Automobile Accidents

Posted by on Aug 23, 2017 in Car Accidents

New York City is known for its over 13,000 yellow taxicabs that constantly shuttle passengers all over its five boroughs. In addition to these, there has been a recent surge in taxi services like Uber and Lyft, which employ individuals wholly unrelated to taxi companies. Inevitably, with all these new cab services on NYC roads, there are bound to be crashes and accidents. These accidents can occur between any combination of vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles. In this article, we are going to explore some of the legal ramifications of taxi crashes and what they might mean for you if you find yourself in one.

Before considering ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, let’s take a look at traditional taxi companies. Whenever a taxicab is involved in an automobile accident, all expenses are generally covered by the taxi company’s insurance. Since the cab is owned by the company and the driver is an employee of the company, it will generally be held liable for all related costs. Uber and Lyft, since they are not traditional cab companies, have a much different business model. Drivers for these companies are considered individual contractors, not employees. Consequently, they must provide their own insurance and keep their cars maintained at their own discretion. In the case of an accident, there are three different possible cases:

  1. A driver is not on shift/doesn’t have passengers
  2. A driver is on shift and doesn’t have passengers
  3. A driver is on shift and DOES have passengers

The responses of Uber and Lyft differ for each of these scenarios. In the first scenario, if the driver is using her own car and is not accepting riders, she will bear the entire cost of any accident that occurs through her insurance. In the second scenario, the accident’s costs will typically be split between the driver and the company, with the driver bearing most of the cost and the company doling out money up to a cap, usually if there are injuries. In the third scenario, the costs are also split between the company and the driver. In the case of the driver not having appropriate insurance, the company will typically cover all of the costs. While drivers for companies like Uber are not employees and not covered by company insurance, they are nevertheless rigorously vetted and not allowed to drive unless they have correct insurance.

On a side note, there have also been instances of automobile accidents being caused by city transit vehicles like buses. In these cases, the legal responsibility of the public vehicle typically falls on the appropriate government department, like the New York City Transit Authority.

Lawyers in New York City cover automobile accidents and related injuries ranging from pedestrian accidents to whiplash to highway defects. If you find yourself involved in an automobile accident in NYC, either as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or otherwise, you should contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.

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Possible Defenses to Drunk Driving Charges

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Criminal Defense

Drunk driving is against the law, and there is good reason for that. Firstly, alcohol can compromise a person’s driving capability. Secondly, this compromise puts not just the driver at risk of accidents, but also the others around him.

According to the website of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, Driving While Intoxicated convictions can have life-altering consequences, such as license suspension, substantial fines, probation, and even prison time. But did you know that you can challenge DWI charges? You may reduce your penalties or dismiss the charges themselves using the right perspective in your defense.

Viability of arrest

If you have been pulled over, arrested, and detained even without probable cause, all the evidence gathered in that period may be deemed inadmissible in court. For example, if you have been stopped by an officer for a reason that doesn’t involve suspicious driving behaviors or suspicions of being drunk, there is a chance that the arrest will be considered inviable.

Viability of symptoms

You may have the symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol, but it doesn’t mean that you are, because these symptoms are not exclusive to drunk people. Some of the most commonly challenged symptoms include fatigue, lack of sleep, and redness of eyes.

Viability of tests

The website truslowlaw.com mentions that blood alcohol content has a legal limit of 0.08%. Many DWI charges revolve around the fact that the driver has blood alcohol content that is greater than this legal limit. Your blood alcohol content can be determined through tests, but these tests can be inadmissible in court if they have been wrongly administered by the arresting officers.

Viability and accuracy of tests results

There may be substantial reason to believe that the tests results are invalid, like when there is a defect in the machines involved or there is a mistake in the testing procedure. The accuracy of test results can also be questioned, as there are instances where it is wrongly influenced by food, non-impairing drugs, and medication.

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Selling or Leasing Your Mineral Rights: Pros and Cons

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 in Mineral Rights

Selling or Leasing Your Mineral Rights: Pros and Cons

The “fee simple estate,” which refers to the most basic type of private ownership in the United States, grants estate or property owners the following rights:

  • Control over his/her property’s surface and subsurface; and,
  • “Surface rights” and “mineral rights,” which extend to private ownership of, and the right to sell, lease, give as a gift or bequeath, all the minerals, such as oil, gas and valuable rocks found on or within the land that they own.

The greatest benefits of this “fee simple estate” may never have been felt before this time, particularly in the state of Texas, due to what many experts in the U.S. oil and natural gas industry identify as the “oil shale revolution.”

Oil shale is a type of sedimentary rock that is formed through the combination of silt and clay. It contains kerogen, a possible source of oil and gas. Through technological advances that enable the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, more effective and increased extraction of oil and gas has been made possible; this has not only made the U.S. a major oil-producing country, but has also made her no longer dependent on imported energy.

The increased production of oil and gas benefits, in general, the U.S. economy and, in particular, owners of estates where shale may be abundant. With the hope of finding rich deposits of kerogen, big oil firms have offered many estate owners in various Texan counties hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to have their mineral rights either sold or leased.

Leasing of mineral rights can mean big earnings over the years, on the assumption, of course, that the property is productive; if it isn’t, then the owner can kiss his/her chances of earning big, goodbye. A decision to sell mineral rights, however, means cash up front, the amount of which depends on where the property is situated (it is said that one company offered four million dollars to one family and an even higher amount to another to have their mineral rights sold). Selling of mineral rights is never dependent on whether the land is actually productive or not – the buyer still has to discover this. If an estate produces much less than expected or turns out to be unproductive, then such would be the loss of the buying company, which made the purchase, and not landowner’s or seller’s, who has already been paid the amount.

Despite the sure cash for those who will sell their mineral, gas or oil rights, many remain hesitant due to thoughts of the possibility that their estate is productive and so will make much more money over time. Well, some estates do turn out to be productive, others, however, after leasing their land, are told that it produces either too little or nothing at all, thus, they lose all the economic benefits they had dreamed of.

Besides cash up front, which sellers can use immediately or save for the rainy days or for emergencies, sellers also enjoy notable tax benefits (as different from those who lease their rights since money earned from leasing is treated as regular income). However, rather than negotiate directly with buyers, who can be tricky and lure sellers to what seems to be a huge deal, it may be better to scout for a really reliable and trustworthy mineral rights broker, whose aim is to help sellers get the most competitive and generous price for their gas, oil or mineral rights. To accomplish this, rather than approaching buyers individually, some mineral rights brokers put their sellers’ mineral rights up for auction for these to drive up the price.

Selling or leasing mineral rights both have advantages and disadvantages which estate owners may learn and understand more by consulting with a trustworthy mineral rights broker. One important thing to bear in mind is never to make any decision based on a buyer’s promises. Selling, or even leasing, involves a legal transaction. It would be wise to have legal counseling before entering into any of these.

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Slab Leak . . . Either Have It Immediately Fixed or Suffer Costly Damages to Your Home

Posted by on Apr 4, 2017 in Plumbing

Slab Leak . . . Either Have It Immediately Fixed or Suffer Costly Damages to Your Home

Many homeowners take for granted their plumbing system; some do not even care about leaks until their water bill suddenly shoots up or until their plumbing system breaks down and stops giving them water. If it’s a slab leak, which occurs under the concrete foundation of a house, it will really be quite hard to notice, so homeowners may be spared from the blame; however, if it is a pinhole leak, which is leak above the floor, then people ought to notice it much faster and owe it to themselves to have the leak repaired immediately, otherwise, it will not only be pesky and destructive, but it can also cost homeowners hundreds of dollars in repair. Slab leaks can go undetected for months or even years, resulting to 2,000 to 20,000 gallons of clean water lost every year. Worse than this, however, is the destructive effect it can cause, that is damage weaken the foundation of a house and cause the development of mold, which is harmful to residents’ health. Though leaks are more common in older properties, newer properties can have problems too. Poor construction and corrosion and, in many cases, ground movement, which can cause unexpected pipe damage, are some of its causes. Thus, as soon as one supposes that there is a leak in his/her house’s plumbing system, the wisest thing to do is call in professional plumbers who have the right equipment in detecting, especially hidden leaks. Professional plumbers use electronic amplification equipment and an electromagnetic pipeline locator that will enable them to find the actual source of a leak. This will ensure least disruption to your property, faster repair time and lesser cost. Besides these benefits, their work also comes with a guarantee and except for the cost of the plumbing repair, insurance providers usually cover the cost of the leak detection service, line access and isolation, and dry out and restoration of the property to the condition before the leak occurred. For the least cost of repair it will be much better if the leak is minor; thus, to make sure that a leak never worsens, professional plumbers say that homeowners be wary of the signs of a possible leak. These include, besides a sudden increase in your water bill or electric bill (if a leak is in a hot water pipe):

  • The water meter spinning at a higher rate than before, or the water heater running more often;
  • Sound of running water even when all faucets are closed;
  • Cracks in walls or floors; and,
  • Mold or excessive moisture, especially under your carpet/s.

Have a leak fixed immediately or wait until it gets worse and damage your home: it’s your choice.

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The Devastating Effects a “Rape of a Child” Conviction

Posted by on Apr 3, 2017 in Criminal Defense

The Devastating Effects a “Rape of a Child” Conviction

Rape is a type of sexual assault that can be committed by a person on either a male or a female of any age. It always involves forced and unwanted sexual intercourse, The rapist, who is the offender, uses violence to threaten his/her victim, or force to have control over the other person. In some occasions, alcohol or illegal drugs is used by the offender to impair a victim and render him/her without any capability to fight back and defend himself/herself. A rapist may be in the person of a date, a friend, an acquaintance, a kin, a stranger or, in certain instances, a family member or even a spouse. So long as it is forced and unwanted, then it shall be considered a crime. In a rape charge, the following are alleged:

  • There was force applied;
  • The offender may be in a position of authority and uses this authority to coerce the victim to submit to his/her malicious intents; and,
  • The victim has a physical or mental condition which renders him/her incapable of expressing consent.

If an act of rape is committed against a person under a certain age, then the offense would be “rape of a child” or “statutory rape.” Statutory rape “is committed when an adult sexually penetrates a person who, under the law, is incapable of consenting to sex. Minors and physically and mentally incapacitated persons are deemed incapable of consenting to sex under rape statutes in all states. These persons are considered deserving of special protection because they are especially vulnerable due to their youth or condition.” Rape of a child is determined based on the victim’s age. This offense falls under three degrees:

    1) Rape of a child in the first degree. This felony is committed if the victim is under the age of 12 (and not married to the offender) and if the offender is at least two years older than his/her victim.
    2) Rape of a child in the second degree. A person will be charged with class A felony if he/she had sexual intercourse with someone who is 12 or 13 years old and not married to him/her; the offender should be at least three years older than the victim.
    3) Rape of a child in the third degree. A person who has sexual intercourse with another who is either 14 or 15 years old and not married to him/her can be charged with a class C felony. The offender should also be at least four years older than his/her victim.

Rape of a child is a very serious crime. The possible consequences of a conviction can include:

  • Lifetime registration as a sex offender;
  • Prison sentencing (there may be a mandatory minimum); and,
  • Substantial fines imposed by the court

Worse than these, however, is the devastating impact a conviction will have in the life of the convicted. Saving oneself from a conviction requires a very strong defense from a seasoned and highly-skilled criminal defense lawyer.

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