What to Do After a Car Accident

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, your immediate focus should be on your physical health. Right away, you should begin the process of documenting your injuries if you are considering filing a personal injury claim. Here are some tips:

First, visit a doctor as soon as you can. Delaying a doctor visit after you’ve been in an accident can give the insurance company all of the ammunition it needs to deny or minimize your claim (the assumption is that you must not be that hurt if you could put off seeing a doctor or going to the hospital to be checked out).

You will want to communicate with your doctor openly and inform them of any pain or other symptoms such as headaches or numbness that have occurred as a result of your accident.

Discuss your daily activities with your doctor. If you experience pain and discomfort while completing your normal daily activities, let your doctor know and get documentation. Many people downplay their injuries during doctor visits. Others only discuss the most substantial one, even though other significant injuries exist and may take longer to heal. Others ignore the nagging injuries in their desire to return to work and support their families. When called upon later to testify as to specifics and length of time during which they suffered, the insurance company’s attorney will often make a big deal out of the fact that it was not brought to the attention of the treating physician at the time, and credibility could suffer in the minds of jurors.

It is critically important to keep all follow-up appointments after your initial visit. If your doctor recommends physical therapy to recover from your injuries, then attend every appointment and complete the treatment.

Throughout your treatment, be sure to save copies of all records and keep them in a safe place. You can present these records to your attorney later. If your claim goes to trial, having good documentation will really help your case by proving your pain and suffering. Test results, X-rays, and MRIs are very powerful pieces of evidence for juries because they are objective proof of injuries. Presenting these types of medical evidence at trial can only serve to help your case, and result in greater recoveries.

 

 

A Tough Nut to Crack, but Some Hope
for Those With Severe Peanut Allergies

trick or treatingUntil now, the only way for those with peanut allergies to steer clear of anaphylaxis—a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction—was to avoid peanuts or peanut by-products altogether. If they accidentally ingest anything peanut related, short of a dash to the hospital emergency room the only option is an EpiPen®, a medical device used to inject a measured amount of epinephrine to counter or stave off anaphylaxis.

However, recent clinical studies have shown promise that a new weapon for those with severe peanut allergies may be on the horizon: oral immunotherapy. Oral immunotherapy involves adding a small amount of peanut flour to meals and then gradually increasing the amount over time. The goal is to decrease sensitivity and build up a tolerance to peanuts.

A recent study involved 99 children ages 7–16. Upon completion of the six-month study, 87 of the kids in the trial were able to eat the equivalent of five peanuts per day without any ill effects or 25 times what they could tolerate prior to the study.

Many questions remain to be answered, and researchers stress that this therapy should not be conducted at home. Only medical professionals in specialized settings are qualified to safely conduct the therapy.

Successful oral immunotherapy does not mean a child will be able to eat a peanut butter sandwich or a bag of peanuts. What this treatment does is expand the margin for error for someone who accidentally eats something with peanuts. Given that peanuts are the most common cause of severe food-related allergies, hopefully, oral immunotherapy will provide an effective, calmer option for those who suffer from them.

Legal Terms of the Month…
Deposition and Pro Se

A deposition is the oral testimony of a party or witness in a civil proceeding that is taken before trial and it takes place most often at an attorney’s office. An attorney asks the questions and the deponent, the person being asked questions, responds to those questions. These questions and answers are recorded by a court reporter/and or videographer and become testimony. Some depositions are fairly brief, taking an hour or less, while some depositions of important witnesses in a case may take place over several days.

Deposition testimony is taken under oath, so the court reporter and deponent sign affidavits that state the testimony is accurate. The testimony is then transcribed into a written transcript by the reporter and used as a discovery tool by attorneys to prepare for trial. Thereafter, if the witness is unavailable to personally appear for the trial (which is sometimes the case for expert witnesses), then portions of the transcript may be read to the jury, or the video may be viewed in court.

To act “pro se” in a legal claim means that you are representing yourself without the help of an attorney. For those people who do appear in court on their own behalf, it is important to understand that the Court still expects the pro se parties to follow all the rules and procedures that an attorney would follow. Pro se litigants often get into trouble when dealing with the rules of procedure and of the presentation of evidence in court.

If you or someone you know is thinking of acting pro se in a legal issue, it may be worthwhile to talk with an attorney. You may be able to get some guidance or discover that you really do need the help of an attorney. One thing you certainly don’t want to have happen is to get in over your head with a complicated legal situation without an attorney being there to help.

Everyone’s Terrible at Driving in the Snow...Except Massachusetts Drivers,
of Course!

cartoonEven with a mild fall, we all know that winter is just around the corner. It seems that many people have a hard time driving in even two inches of snow, so we’re hoping to change that with these important winter driving tips from AAA:

  • Take care of your car. This sounds basic, but it is one of the biggest factors in avoiding an accident. If you go into winter with a dying battery or bald tires, you’re asking for trouble.
  • Tell others your route and when you expect to return. If something happens and you cannot personally call for help, your only hope will be that a loved one will realize something is wrong and investigate.
  • Maintain at least a half-full tank of gas. This isn’t just to avoid running out of gas in a snowstorm; it’s also to avoid gas-line-freeze in the morning.
  • Avoid cruise control. Cruise control gets very confused by slippery surfaces. Trust yourself to make better driving decisions on snowy roads than your car’s mechanized systems can
  • Do one thing at a time, and do it slowly. Accelerating, turning, and braking should all be done with a lot of extra time and space. There is a lot that can go wrong when attempting maneuvers in ice and snow; don’t overwhelm your car with variables.

Bonus tip: Live in an area where you might get stranded out in the snow? Keep an emergency bag in your car with gloves, hats, food, water, a “burner” pay-as-you-go cell phone, and any daily medication you would need. These bags have saved lives.

Remember, even if you’re a good winter driver, many others aren’t! Make driving choices that keep everyone safe. If anything ever happens or if you should get into an accident, you know who to call.

Detergent Pods Pose a Genuine Threat

detergent podsWith reports of injuries to children from laundry detergent pods continuing to rise, Consumer Reports earlier this year took the convenient packets off of its list of recommended detergents. In fact, the non-profit, consumer-advocate organization took things one step further and indicated that the detergent pods should never be used in homes in which young children live or visit. Their bright colors and soft forms, while attractive to look at and easy to hold, can be easily mistaken as soft toys or edible treats by young children.

In 2014, there were nearly 12,000 incidents reported to poison-control centers of children ingesting or breaking open the small detergent packets and getting the liquid onto their skin or in their eyes. Two children have also died, according to Consumer Reports.

Several manufacturers of the pods, including Procter & Gamble, are initiating changes to the packets, such as adding a bitter flavor to them and making them harder to break.

How to Deal With Capital Gains Taxes Following the Sale of Your Primary Residence

car problemsCongratulations! You’ve taken advantage of the seller’s market and sold your home, and now it’s time to plan for whether taxes will be owed on the gain you’ve realized after the closing. The IRS allows a gain of up to $250,000 if filing a single return, and up to $500,000 if filing a joint return, to be excluded on your tax return. This exclusion applies to the sale of your primary residence, provided that you meet both the ownership and use tests. These two tests are applied to the five-year period leading up to the sale date.

To meet the ownership test, you must have owned the home for at least two years during that five-year period. To meet the use test, the home must have been your primary residence for at least two of the years. The good part is that the tests do not need to be met using the same two-year time period and that the two-year periods need not be continuous in order to satisfy the tests. However, in order to take advantage of the exemption, you must not have sold another principal residence during the two-year period ending on the date of the sale.

At real estate closings, sellers are often given both a 1099-S form and a so-called “Certification of No Information Reporting” form to complete. If the sale price is for $500,000 or less for a married couple or $250,000 or less for a single seller, then the Certification of No Info Reporting form may be filled out. If the transaction qualifies for the exemption after applying the above tests, then neither the closing attorney nor the seller will be required to report the gain to the IRS.

On the contrary, if you’ve sold a vacation home or second property that was not your primary residence, then the entire gain must be reported as a capital gain on your tax return.