TargetLaw Goes Beta

If you are an attorney interested in new client acquisition, you should probably read on.

I got an email last week from a company called TargetLaw. In the past we’ve used the TargetLaw search engine on this site as it is one of the best ways to locate an attorney on the Internet. Several years ago the company developed a search engine using google custom search. They now have over 50,000 attorneys listed in their custom engine.

TargetLaw just released a beta site built in WordPress that now allows attorney’s to submit profiles and articles directly to the site. As with most Worpress sites, Targetlaw is very search engine friendly (ie the ability to be found on Google, Bing, Yahoo etc..). This translates to the ability for an attorney to be found when doing a search by location and practice area. If you are an attorney I would  recommend submitting to this site often.

It looks like this site has a good page rank and better yet their profiles and articles are near the top for many searches. I am also told they will give you links back to your site in hopes to increase your website visibility on the Internet. I have no idea how this happens but it does.

For example: go to google and put in the following term; Maryland felony lawyers – Yes you will find one of the attorney’s listed at the top of the search. They emailed me a list of about 300 different searches in which their lawyer profiles or articles were at the top of the engines. I don’t have the time to post them all.

I am no scholar when it comes to SEO but I do know there are some companies that have a real knack in getting to the top of the search engines. For attorneys, I believe this could be your answer. Best of all its free to join and free to submit. If you are a large firm you can become an administrator and submit as many attorney profiles and articles as you like.

Also listed in the email is a new concept they are about to release. I would suggest you keeping an eye on this new functionality which could leverage your firm to the top of the engines faily quickly.

If you are a vendor and have a cool product, please email us so we can list your company on this site.

Just Walk Away

By Andrew M. Apfelberg, Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff

Whether an acquisition, lease or contract with a vendor, every business transaction has its own particular pacing that develops. It is important to maintain that pace in order to effectively take the transaction from concept to signed agreement. However, when the parties involved focus exclusively on maintaining the deal’s momentum, they tend to ignore red flags that pop up, as well as their own inherent reactions to these cautionary signs. Getting caught up in the adrenaline rush of trying to close a deal is, in fact, a great way to wind up either with a transaction that does not deliver the opportunity you originally sought—or with a big bill for a deal you had to abort at the last minute.

Let me give you a case in point. Recently, a client wanted to acquire all the assets of a business as well as the property on which the business was located. The price was fantastic and the sales broker assured my client that the prospect was a rare opportunity. But the seller then delivered a skimpy purchase agreement, and put significant pressure on my client to review and sign the document within 24 hours of receipt. After a late-night and rather frank conversation with me, my client did not sign the document, and asked instead for a short no-shop period during which she could conduct her due diligence. The seller refused the no-shop restriction but, nonetheless, my client decided to proceed with negotiating the deal.

A day or two into the due diligence process, it came to light that one of the seller’s key employees did not hold a necessary license and had, instead, worked out a side-deal with the seller. My client instructed me to work around the problem by inserting an indemnification provision into the purchase agreement. The seller then provided some self-prepared financial statements, but would not give my client access to the back-up data or the seller’s previously filed tax returns. My client felt she could trust the seller and took him—and his financials—at face value.

In the meantime, I revised the purchase agreement and prepared the balance of the missing documents typically associated with this type of transaction. In response, the seller refused to accept any of my proposed changes to the language of his purchase agreement and was hesitant to agree to the terms of the other documents. He insisted that the sale was “as-is” and that if my client did not like it, there was another eager buyer in the wings who had already offered more money. My client the requested that I “trim down” the documents in order to appease the seller.

The transaction wound up not closing at the eleventh hour. After all the documents were laboriously negotiated and revised, one of the selling members refused to sign the non-competition agreement.
My client was livid. She had incurred significant legal, accounting and other fees, and invested more than eight weeks into the deal. She felt cheated, and looked for someone to blame—but ultimately concluded that the blame fell squarely on her shoulders. She was so eager to close the deal that she ignored obvious warning signs, failed to investigate red flags that popped up and refused to follow her “gut” instinct, which told her that the deal seemed questionable.

Unfortunately, my client ignored the following ten warning signals, and ultimately paid the price:
1) The deal seemed too good to be true.
2) The seller insisted on an overly quick closing of the transaction.
3) There was hesitancy in providing requested due diligence items in responding to transaction documents.
4) The records or documents reviewed in the due diligence process were incomplete and disorganized.
5) The other side was unwilling (or unable) to develop a transition plan for post-closing of the transaction.
6) The other side insisted on preparing the transaction documents, when the custom is for the buyer to prepare them.
7) The seller refused to negotiate the business terms or language of the agreements.
8) There was insistence on an “as-is” sale, and a refusal to offer any material representations or warranties.
9) The other side exerted significant pressure to close despite the existence of outstanding questions.
10) The seller had a questionable reputation within the community.

While the existence of one or more of these items does not necessarily mean that a deal is not a good one, it does mean that you should take the time to gather additional information and carefully analyze it before proceeding with the transaction. By continuously looking out for these red flags, you will inherently slow the momentum of a deal down just enough to analyze the information and issues presented without jeopardizing the pacing of the negotiations.

Above all, listen to your instinctive responses to these warning signs. In most cases, you inherently know what is right and what is wrong, and what makes sense and what does not. Never be afraid to walk away from a deal that simply does not feel right. There is almost always another opportunity just around the corner. When asked what his most profitable transactions were, a highly successful real estate developer answered without hesitation: “The ones that I didn’t do.”

About the Author: Andrew M. Apfelberg is a corporate transactional attorney for privately held middle-market companies. He represents clients as their day-to-day general counsel and in significant transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, financings, joint ventures, licensing, entity formation, agreements between shareholders and the establishment of manufacturing facilities in Mexico. He is a partner of Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff Incorporated, a full service law firm in Century City ( The firm provides comprehensive transactional and litigation services to companies, their principals and entrepreneurs. Apfelberg’s clients benefit from his strong business and finance background gained from working for investment banks prior to attending law school. This experience enables him to more effectively structure transactions and negotiate agreements to maximize the return to the client and increase the likelihood of getting the deal closed. He was awarded the most coveted AV rating through Martindale-Hubbell, and was selected as a “Super Lawyer” in the field of Business Law by Law & Politics in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish:

“Saving Costs” During Contract Formation Can Mean Big Litigation Bills Later

By Andrew M. Apfelberg, Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff

In today’s uncertain financial climate, many businesspeople have deliberately avoided involving their attorneys in the negotiation and documentation of deals. Reasons given have included, “Well, it is not that big of a transaction,” or, “It seems simple enough, so there is no need to consult with a lawyer.” But the real factor driving the decision to avoid legal involvement is one thing and one thing only: money.

While no one ever relishes the idea of paying a lawyer, the degree to which businesspeople are circumventing legal fees has dramatically increased during these less-than-booming economic times. For many middle-market companies, spending money to have a lawyer draft or review a business agreement is often perceived as a luxury that can be foregone when belts need to be tightened. Initially, eliminating $5,000 to $10,000 in legal fees sounds like a fantastic idea. However, what many businesspeople fail to consider is that they will inevitably have to deal with these agreements over the long-term and, without assistance from an attorney, significant fees can be incurred if a business deal goes south—ultimately costing a company thousands of dollars.

Take, for example, the example of Acme Skin Care Company*. In earlier, better economic times, Acme and Star Manufacturing Inc. signed an agreement drafted by Acme’s lawyer that explained Star’s relationship with Acme as an “exclusive supplier” of certain component elements of Acme’s products. After several years, a principal of Star met with Acme’s president to discuss the continuing relationship. By then, times were tougher financially, and in order to keep costs down Acme left its lawyer out of those discussions. Instead, in a private meeting with Star, Acme’s president hand-wrote what he believed to be a minor modification to the company’s original agreement with Star. Then, he and Star signed the handwritten “modification.”

After approximately one year, Acme’s relationship with Star began to sour. Star began demanding strict “compliance” with the “modification,” which Star asserted was a wholly separate deal. Acme decided to terminate its relationship with Star by providing 30 days notice as permitted under their original agreement. Star promptly filed suit, claiming the “modification” was a separate agreement for a fixed 10-year term with no provision allowing for early termination. Star claimed $10 million in damages, leaving Acme no choice but to defend the lawsuit. In the first few months of litigation alone, Acme spent more than $50,000 to defend against Star’s claims. Today, Acme’s counsel estimates that it will spend at least another $150,000 before the case is closed, with no guarantee of success.

So, how exactly did Acme get into this position? The problem lies with the actual wording of the “modification.” Read literally, that document—consisting of only five short paragraphs—said nothing about Acme’s prior agreement with Star and contained no mention of any right to terminate the relationship on 30 days notice or otherwise. On the other hand, it did mention a 10-year term and contained other language suggesting the “modification” was, in fact, a separate agreement.

Although Acme may have originally intended otherwise, the document read in a way that was favorable to Star, and, not surprisingly, Star then claimed that the document contained clear contract language that accurately stated the intention of the parties.

The difficulty for Acme in defending against Star was that California courts—and many state courts applying similar statutes—try to interpret contracts based solely on the written language contained in the document without looking to other evidence. The California Civil Code, for instance, provides that:

• The language of a contract is to govern its interpretation, if the language is clear and explicit, and does not involve an absurdity. §1638.
• When a contract is reduced to writing, the intention of the parties is to be ascertained by the writing alone, if possible; . . . §1639.

Most states adhere strictly to written terms in order to discourage situations like the one in which Acme now finds itself, where the document says one thing but the opposite party argues it means another. By holding parties to the apparent meaning of the specific words used in the document, the courts force parties during contract formation to express clearly and completely their intent in writing within the actual four corners of the document.

Does this mean that Acme stands no chance of success in the litigation with Star? No, there are additional rules of contract interpretation other than the “bare bones” rules. But the important lesson to be learned is that it has already cost Acme five to 10 times more to litigate its dispute with Star than it would have cost to have a lawyer simply draft or review the “modification” in the first place.

To avoid the kind of problem Acme now faces, a company must make sure that both parties clearly understand the general terms of a business transaction. The parties may even want to prepare an explicitly non-binding term sheet outlining the potential deal, before immediately hiring a lawyer.

Next, a company should discuss with the attorney, in detail, its relationship with the other party, explaining past history; identifying any prior agreements; explaining specific goals for the transaction and desired strategy for negotiation; and identifying each material term of the deal. After a formal contract is prepared, both sides must read it front to back, and word for word. A lawyer can then explain any difficult-to-understand terms and define words that may have legal significance beyond their typical, everyday meaning.

Above all, business executives must remember that if a deal goes south, they will be held to what the document actually says, and not to what they may have “meant” or “understood.” And if both parties involved decide later that they want to alter the deal, they must ensure that each change is put in writing and reviewed by a lawyer before it is signed.

As for costs, wouldn’t any savvy businessperson rather spend $5,000 now rather than $200,000 down the line?

* Company names have been changed to protect privacy

About the Author: Andrew M. Apfelberg is a corporate transactional attorney for privately held middle-market companies. He represents clients as their day-to-day general counsel and in significant transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, financings, joint ventures, licensing, entity formation, agreements between shareholders and the establishment of manufacturing facilities in Mexico. He is a partner of Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff Incorporated, a full service law firm in Century City ( The firm provides comprehensive transactional and litigation services to companies, their principals and entrepreneurs. Apfelberg’s clients benefit from his strong business and finance background gained from working for investment banks prior to attending law school. This experience enables him to more effectively structure transactions and negotiate agreements to maximize the return to the client and increase the likelihood of getting the deal closed. He was awarded the most coveted AV rating through Martindale-Hubbell, and was selected as a “Super Lawyer” in the field of Business Law by Law & Politics in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Ask a legal question

As some of you know I opted out of posting legal questions on this blog, at least for now. Its hard enough for me to keep active with everything else. I posted a few months ago regarding a legal service for ask & answer questions for the legal industry. Very much like yahoo without all the crazy point systems etc. I have since sent them about a dozen or so questions that I get from this blog.

If you have a legal question visit this site and ask it. You can now post a question without having to log in or sign-in. It seems like it would be pretty easy. The other nice thing about this is the fact they monitor the Q&A so you don’t get a bunch of spam and nonsense.

I highly recommend if you are looking for additional information regarding your legal needs, you visit this site and ask a question.

BTW- for those attorneys and legal experts and whomever else that submits posts and articles to this blog, I am taking a needed vacation at the end of the month. So if you have things that need to be added to the site, email me them within the next two weeks. I will have limited access to emails and probably won’t do much with the site for the 2 weeks I’m gone.

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Secrets of Avoiding a DUI Conviction: How to Protect Your Legal Rights
Against Aggressive/Oppressive DUI Enforcement Tactics

Secret Number 1

Remember that anything you say to, or when in the presence of, the Officer who stopped you will be used against you in court. Instead, politely tell the officer that you would be happy to answer his questions, but only in the presence of your attorney. You should not have to make another single comment.

Secret Number 2

Never admit to drinking, even if you have been. You will get no “credit” for disclosing information and will likely not be believed in any event, inasmuch as everyone seems to admit to a “couple of beers.” Even if the officer comments on smelling the odor of alcohol on your breath, do not take the bait and confirm his observations by an admission. That will certainly be used as evidence against you.

Secret Number 3

Resist the temptation to explain to the officer where you have been or
What you have been doing. At this stage of the stop it is none of his business! The officer is hoping you will say something real dumb, like “Oh, I’ve just been down at the bar with my buddies, hanging out.” Saying something like, “I have been tending to my business and personal affairs, Officer,” is much less incriminating! But, again that would be unnecessary if you had just handed the officer the pre-printed statement referred to in Secret

Number 1.

Secret Number 4

When responding to the officer, use head nods, hand motions, hand signals or signs instead of speaking aloud. You will be accused of having thick-tongued, slurred speech regardless of how well you speak anyway, so why should you talk at all. It may cause you to feel awkward, but you will not hurt your case nearly as much as you might otherwise. Besides, this will eliminate any slurred speech that might actually be there!

Secret Number 5

Never, ever agree to submit to so-called “field sobriety tests or exercises!!” As any Certified Instructor of these tests can tell you, you would not likely be able to pass these tests cold sober, in your own home.

Want to try? The tests are designed to make you look silly and the officer look good! Politely decline these tests, by nodding no when asked. These tests are completely voluntary, not mandatory. The officer will likely threaten to arrest you if you do not cooperate. Understand this: there is a much greater risk that he will make that arrest and have the evidence he needs after you perform these tests, so do not do them.

Secret Number 6

Unless you have had no alcohol at all and have not used an asthma inhaler in the past 30 minutes, do not submit to the roadside breath test requested by the officer. This pre-screening test performed on an “alcosensor” can detect the presence of alcohol and give the officer an estimate of the amount of alcohol concentration in your blood, even though that number is inadmissible in court. The officer will likely say something like, “let me just check and see if you are OK to drive home.” Don’t bet on it! Again this test is strictly voluntary, so again, politely decline or nod “no” to his request.

Secret Number 7

Ask the officer to return your license and allow you to leave. After handing over the license and registration, if the officer says you violated traffic laws, ask that he give you the citation and allow you to leave. If he says you are impaired, indicate you will get a ride or take a taxi. If the officer will not let you depart, or return your license, consider yourself under arrest and ask for an attorney! You won’t get one, but the evidence will begin to mount in your favor if you have started doing the things suggested so far. Issues of probable cause will be of interest to your lawyer, so get a lawyer that very night.

Secret Number 8

Unless you can answer “yes” to each and every one of the following questions, do not submit to the official Florida Implied Consent Tests of breath, blood or urine:
1. Are you over 21 years of age?
2. Are you a non-commercial driver?
3. Do you have a Florida driver’s license?
4. It is true that you have NOT been involved in an accident where a

Serious injury has occurred to any person or where a death may occur as a result of such injuries sustained in this accident?
If any of these questions must be answered with a “No” then consider
refusing testing. This state test is voluntary even though the officer may say that Florida law “requires” you be tested. Your consent is “presumed” but you may withdraw that consent by stating that you refuse such testing.

Secret Number 9

Ask for an independent test of your blood. The police may attempt to talk you out of it, indicating that you “must do this” or that “it won’t do much good”, but get it done anyway. Remember this is your test. All that needs to happen is that the blood be drawn for legal purposes and preserved and stored at the hospital or other facility. DO NOT get a medical blood test! That is a totally different test. Ask that the officer allow you to make calls to arrange for funds, if not readily available. This independent test may be evidence of your innocence, and if not helpful, the police will never see it.

Secret Number 10

When making your call from the jail, call your lawyer first. If you forget, then at least tell your family to call the lawyer BEFORE they leave to go to the jail. Lawyers doing DUI defense work are a lot like gynecologists. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. So, if your lawyer or doctors says “call me in the morning,” you might just want to get another doctor or lawyer. When you need one, you need one.

Just like the doctor, your lawyer can make the additional calls to set things in action and make important and helpful things happen in your case. What is important in the DUI case is that the attorney can immediately begin gathering evidence, names of witnesses, and making arrangements that may assist you in the defense of your case. Even the next morning might not be too late for a blood test. Even other people in jail can testify regarding you sobriety or the manner in which you were treated by the officer. If your lawyer is not available, make contact as soon as possible.

Secret Number 11

Learn and understand your 10 day right to request a hearing on the DMV
Administrative Drivers License Suspension Notice you are issued as a
“temporary driving permit.” It is much more than that and that difference will hurt you if you ignore, don’t read and understand and make that written request in the proper manner. My office can provide you with a free form for this purpose just call and ask for a DMV Administrative Drivers License Suspension Hearing Request Form, or come by and pick one up, but in either event don’t delay!

Secret Number 12

This secret is a little difficult for some folks, but here it is, very few of the lawyers who advertise they practice DUI defense are equal to the task of competently defending a driver charged with DUI. Big yellow pages ads and popularity often spell a volume practice that spells high percentages of guilty pleas.

In the Broward area from 2003 through 2006, fewer than two percent of lawyers advertising a practice in DUI defense actually attended ANY advanced level DUI defense continuing legal education courses or seminars in this highly complicated and specialized field of criminal law. It is safe to say that it would take a conscientious and thoroughly competent DUI lawyer at least an hour to evaluate your case and medical history.

In the vast majority of these cases the lawyer will suggest “talking” to the judge or prosecutor for you for a substantial fee. These cases invariably end up as guilty pleas! Many such cases would have been very defendable. If the lawyer you are talking to has concluded ANYTHING about your case in a 15 minute interview, I would highly recommend you get a second opinion, regardless of the suggestion or recommendation.

Richard G. Salzman, Esq. is an experienced Broward County Criminal Defense and DUI Defense attorney; licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey since 1986, and Florida since 1988. The Law Offices of Richard G. Salzman, P.A. focuses on Criminal Defense, DUI Defense and related vehicular offenses and BUI Defense (Boating Under the Influence).

Call now 954-981-0336 for free consult. Can you really afford to wait?

The Law Offices of Richard G. Salzman, P.A.
4340 Sheridan Street, Suite 102
Hollywood, Florida 33021


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TargetLaw’s Lawyer Search

Lawyer Search

Are you having trouble locating the right attorney? Have you searched through legal directories only to find out the attorney no longer practices law, changed their practice areas or even location? Are you annoyed by the fact it is taking so long to locate the right attorney or perhaps confused on which type of attorney you should hire? If you have answered yes to these questions, you now belong to an elite group of people searching for lawyers online. Unfortunately the number is on the rise.

TargetLaw is an all lawyer search engine consisting of only lawyers, law firms and attorneys. Our concept is to make it as easiest as possible for a consumer looking for a lawyer to search and find the right attorney each and every time.

Why is TargetLaw so unique?

There are hundreds of lawyer referral programs available on the internet. These programs are set-up mainly to make money on your referral. Unfortunately it makes no difference on the experience and qualifications of a lawyer, if an attorney is willing to pay the company fees for your referral, they will receive your name. There are some programs in which you get placed in a holding tank and your name is handed out to several attorneys. These programs can be called “first come, first serve.” Again, makes no difference on how good the lawyer may be, ultimately you are just another number to a referral company.

Lawyer directories although can be useful, they also can be frustrating. A lawyer directory typically consists of those attorneys willing to pay a fee to be listed in a lawyer directory. Again, makes no difference if you are qualified or experienced in a practice area, if you are willing to pay the company money, you will get listed! Furthermore, a lawyer directory can not be tailored to attorneys retiring, changes practice areas and changing location, unless the attorney manually goes in and changes his or hers listing. This can result in information that is outdated and ultimately causes frustration to the end user looking for the right lawyer to handle his or her case.

So why is TargetLaw so unique? TargetLaw is a lawyer search engine consisting of only lawyers, law firms and attorneys. When performing a search within the attorney search engine you will be presented with all lawyer websites. Depending upon your searches depends upon the relevancy of each search. Search for location and practice areas and the search result will present the best results for that search. Furthermore, each attorney can submit their lawyer website for free. The reason we don’t charge to be listed in our lawyer search engine is because we don’t want to limit people looking for attorneys only to those who pay. This gives the consumer more choices and the comfort that they can locate an attorney in an unbiased manner.

Furthermore, TargetLaw allows the end user to locate that attorney within 2 clicks; put in your search ie. “New York Personal Injury Lawyer” and the second by clicking on a website. Less time clicking through directories or filling out your name for call backs through a referral program and more time looking and investigating the right attorney for you case. With TargetLaw, you now have more time to investigate each firm and less wasted time actually locating an attorney.

TargetLaw’s lawyer search is the quickest and easiest way of locating an attorney for your legal issue. If you are currently looking for legal representation, visit TargetLaw today.


NEED A Lawyer? Check out our Lawyer Directory!

Lawyer Search

* I typically only allow lawyer posts but once I started searching this site I had to post this to my blog. I can’t believe how many lawyer sites are in this engine. This must of taken months upon months. I will open up your comments below. I’m curious of your opinion..Blog below…

It was just a few short years ago when most attorneys counted on advertising their firm in the yellow pages in order to get new customers for their practice. While many people still use yellow pages and other sorts of paper advertising to hire legal counsel, there has been a huge swing on how individuals look for legal counsel. Studies have shown over 70% of people will now use the internet in order to do a lawyer search. Furthermore, these are the prospects that have deeper pockets and willing to spend more money hiring the right lawyer. Because of the trend, it has forced lawyers all over the country to begin considering website marketing.

The importance of having a suitable website can mean the difference of getting new clients or not. Many attorneys now have lists of different practice areas on their websites to relay a message to those consumers who are looking for legal counsel. The message is we practice the type of law you are requiring and we are experienced in handling such sort of cases. When a consumer does a lawyer search on the internet they are primarily looking for information first and foremost. If the information on a lawyer website is geared towards that practice area, there is a good chance the prospect will contact that attorney for more information.

The facts are people are generally more educated and they will first research a lawyer prior to contacting them. If you are an attorney it is mission critical that you have some sort of web presence for both new and existing clients. is one of the largest lawyer search engines on the internet. If you are currently evaluating lawyers via the internet visit our site. Chances are you will find the right attorney, in the right location by the right practice area for every single search.

Personal Injury Claims – Protect Your Rights by Knowing What NOT to Say

Pursuing a personal injury claim puts you in an unfamiliar situation. You’ll have to think carefully before you speak to anyone. From the adjuster, to the defendant, to the police officer at the scene – what you say makes a difference. Never forget that the insurance company wants to save money. When processing your claim they’ll use anything you say against you in order to lower your settlement payment.

Litigation and claim processing really starts the moment an accident happens. You can make or break your case depending on how you handle yourself immediately after the accident. You must collect and pay attention to evidence, and you need to keep a clear record of what you see.

What you say during this time can sometimes come back to haunt you. Imagine that you come out of a car accident and you’re faced with a hysterical driver. You might feel the need to calm them down. It would be natural to say things like “it’s okay”, “it’s not your fault”, or even “it’s my fault.” You might also feel the need to say that you’re okay and aren’t injured. Saying such things is normal and shouldn’t totally ruin your personal injury claim. But these statements can make things more difficult, especially if you were heard by witnesses.

If you have an accident on business property, you may be interviewed by a company representative, or be asked to fill out forms on the accident. First of all, don’t sign anything. The only thing they could possibly ask you to sign is something that will clear them of responsibility. You haven’t even thought about a personal injury claim yet, so why would you let them off the hook?

As for questions they’d ask, answer like you would for a police report. Never say anything that will admit negligence on your part. Don’t even hint at it. Something as simple as saying you’re not sure what happened, or that you may have made a mistake, is bad for you.

When discussing your personal injury claim, you want to make sure you refer to your injuries in medical terms. Usually you’ll just be repeating things from your medical file.

Sometimes, you might be tempted to use terms that are medical slang. Don’t do this. A common example of this kind of slang is the term “whiplash.” This term is widely used and serves to quickly explain a certain type of injury, but it’s a bad word to use when discussing a personal injury claim.

Whiplash has never been a medical term. It used to be an acceptable way of describing certain injuries incurred from a car accident. These days it’s become associated with exaggerated or even fraudulent claims. Using it can damage your case – it can create a negative view with the adjuster or the judge.

No doubt there will be other times when you should watch what you say. The general rule to remember throughout your personal injury claim is: you’re not an expert. Whether it’s legal or medical, don’t let anyone pressure you into saying something that isn’t your place to say – this is especially true when determining the extent of your injuries. And remember, if something is your fault, then it’s someone else’s job to prove it.

Arthur Gueli works with his brother Charles (a licensed personal injury attorney) teaching injured people how to protect their rights and obtain fair compensation for their damages.

Learn more about liability in traffic accidents (and how to make it work in your favor) at this page on their information-packed website:

The Insurance Company Run-Around

The first thing to keep in mind about insurance companies is that they make their money by investing. This explains why they love delay. When they can delay paying you the compensation you’re entitled to: · They can keep their money invested · It keeps earning them interest or profits · Increased income for a given year, more than was expected, makes the stock price rise · Increased stock prices lead to executive bonuses So from their point of view, all delay makes good sense, especially delay that will run to the end of a quarter or financial year. Insurance adjusters don’t work for you The same facts explain why insurance companies usually make a low offer, and usually make it quickly. · Immediately after an accident or injury, we tend to feel shocked or traumatized. Perhaps we’re not thinking clearly. We could be in pain, in hospital, even unconscious for a while. · If we can be persuaded in this vulnerable state to accept the insurance company’s initial offer, kudos to the adjuster. He’s just saved his company a lot of money. · Alternatively, the adjuster may be soothing and urge you to get all the medical care you need, it will all be covered, not to worry. Silently, the statute of limitations is running. Are you thinking about that in your hospital bed? Probably not, and much time may be lost that would be well-spent assembling facts and information for your claim. · Adjusters can be quite pleasant people, and they’ll be polite to you and appear to have your interests at heart. However, they don’t work for you. They work for their company and their job is to conserve the company’s money. An experienced personal injury lawyer would be invaluable at this point. Before you accept any offers or sign any documents, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney, so as to avoid falling into any traps. The attorney can negotiate for you and obtain a better settlement amount. If necessary, the attorney can take the matter to trial, present expert witnesses, argue why you deserve more, and very often win. Your agent and your policy If you bought your policy from an insurance agent, and if there’s a discrepancy between what the agent promised and what actually shows up in the policy, the company is legally obliged to interpret it as being in your favor, rather than in theirs. · Agents are trained by their company, but they usually aren’t experts on the small print. They’re taught enough so they can paint a glowing picture for you, but the all-important details are a minor matter. · You might have paid for the policy before you actually received it. So what you’re actually buying is what the agent has described, not the piece of paper you eventually receive in the mail. A personal injury attorney can read the small print of your policy and pinpoint any unclear or ambiguous items. If you made notes during your initial session(s) with the agent, the lawyer can compare your notes with what’s actually in the policy. Then he or she can follow up with correspondence and negotiations to obtain the full settlement you deserve. Prompt Pay laws Like many states, Michigan has a prompt-pay law that requires payment of our doctors’ claims to be made without undue delay (usually around 30 to 45 days, or less than that when the claim is filed electronically). But insurance companies have ways of avoiding this. They can: · Find flaws in the way paperwork was filled out · Quibble over exceptions in the fine print · Claim that they’ve hired another party to pay the claim, and it’s that person’s responsibility · Ask for more verification of injuries What does this add up to? More delay.

Equip Yourself – What if You’re in an Accident with an Uninsured Motorist? Buying auto insurance is not a festive occasion for most of us. We’re paying good money for something we aren’t sure we’ll ever need. But the law requires us to have a minimum amount of it, so we comply, maybe with a scowl. But picture the situation you’d be in if you’re rear-ended by someone, sustaining severe injuries and much vehicle damage, and you discover that this other driver has no insurance. Or that they have only the minimum insurance, which comes nowhere near being able to pay for your injuries. No-fault insurance Michigan has been a “no-fault” state since 1973. We’re all required to buy no-fault insurance and in fact, it’s required before we can get our license plate. It’s illegal to drive without it, or to let someone else drive your vehicle without it. Michigan law requires us to buy, in certain minimum amounts: · Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – to cover the cost of any injuries you sustain in an auto accident, and your lost wages for 3 years (with a cap) · Property Protection Insurance (PPI) – to cover the cost of any vehicle repair after that accident · Residual Liability – to cover you when your negligence causes injury to someone else If you’re still paying for your vehicle, your insurance company may also require you to buy two other items to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car: · Collision, and · Comprehensive. The advantage of no-fault insurance is that it simplifies things and potentially speeds up the repair of your vehicle. Your insurance pays your injury and repair bills, and the other driver’s insurance pays his. It protects us from being sued. Michigan is not 100% no-fault No state is 100% no-fault. Michigan is a mix of no-fault and standard liability insurance. In other words, there are exceptions to the no-fault default. If the accident: · Happens outside Michigan, or · Causes serious injury or death, then the at-fault driver can be sued for damages, if he has insurance. Uninsured and under-insured motorist (UM and UIM) coverage Michigan doesn’t require us to buy UM or UIM coverage. It’s our choice, and it’s an added expense on the premium, so many of us don’t buy it. And in a no-fault state, the assumption is that our own insurance will pay our bills anyway, so why do we need UM or UIM coverage? But let’s think again of that driver who rear-ended you. You have severe injuries – whiplash, and maybe the airbag hit you too hard, maybe you hit your head on the glass – and you have expensive vehicle repair bills (a rear-end accident can even total your vehicle if it knocks the chassis out of shape). You can sue the other driver if you can prove that he/she caused the accident. But if he has no insurance, chances are that you won’t be able to get any compensation. However, if that driver is under-insured, you can potentially get compensation to the value of their insurance, such as it is. Advantage of UM and UIM But your bills total a higher amount than that. If you have no UM or UIM, you have no other recourse and will have to pay the bills out of your pocket. But let’s say you did buy UM and UIM along with your required coverage. Now you can potentially obtain compensation from your insurance company up to the value of your UM/UIM, as well as recovering from the under-insured driver. Hit and run accidents Looking at our rear-end scenario again, if the other driver takes off before you can get any contact information from him, that leaves you with only your own insurance as a source of compensation. If you’ve bought UM and UIM, you have more coverage than just the PIP and PPI. Enhance your changes with legal help If you’ve been in an accident with another driver who turns out to be uninsured or under-insured, the smartest thing to do is immediately consult an experienced accident attorney. The law is complex; there are exceptions to the no-fault law, and every situation is different. Some sound legal advice can help you decide on what course of action to take. You could well be eligible for more compensation than you think.

An experienced personal injury lawyer has ways of cutting through delay tactics. Rather than struggle alone against some faceless Goliath, why not call or email one today?

Frustrations with the insurance company could lead to unfair settlements. Don’t settle for less because you’re tired of the run around. Let an attorney help you.


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Employment Law – The Enforceability Of Post Employment Restraints Of Trade

Employing highly intelligent and highly qualified employees in a range of sophisticated commercial businesses is a risky business for employers.

To acquire competitive business advantage in an increasingly globalized and networked world of pharmaceuticals, genetics, telecommunications, power supply and information technology requires the employment of highly qualified, well educated, experienced and clever employees.

Potential employers and employees are both well advised to seek legal assistance when drafting or accepting terms of employment. Due to the seniority of these employees, their employment contracts are less likely to be workplace agreements but more likely to be private , one-off, contracts of employment.

Often, employees in the pharmaceuticals, genetics, telecommunications, power supply and information technology industries will have access to secret and confidential information which is both price and market-sensitive. This information might be chemical formulae, scientific and technological data, chemical, electrical or manufacturing trade processes, hardware or software engineering designs, or a range of other sophisticated technological and scientific information. The potential employee will need access to this information to perform his or her anticipated role. When the employment relationship ends, however, the employer is faced with a double problem. First, the employee is leaving. Whether the departure is voluntary or involuntary, it will be an inconvenience and a disruption to the employer. Secondly, and more importantly long term, the departing employee will take with him or her, knowledge of the secret and confidential information which may be the very basis of the employer’s competitive advantage in a particular industry or market.

To minimise this long term disruption, employers often include restraint of trade clauses in employment contracts when employing people in these sensitive areas. Commonly, the restraint of trade will prevent the former employee from seeking employment with any competitor of the former employer in the particular market for a period of time.

In current times, where there is a shortage of trained staff, particularly in scientific and technological areas, the reason why an employee departs is generally because he or she has received a better offer from a competitor.
In deciding whether or not to enforce the restraint of trade clause against a departing employee, Victorian courts have to balance a number of competing factors.

First, neither Australian nor Victorian general law will restrain a former employee from seeking employment with a competitor. Any such restraint must be found in an enforceable clause in the contract of employment with the former employer. Employers, therefore, should always ensure that staff are employed pursuant to written contracts of employment which contain enforceable restraints of trade.

Secondly, Victorian courts will not allow employers to prevent former employees from conducting a living by practising the skills which may have taken many years to acquire through university courses or practical experience. However, this is only a general rule or starting point.

Thirdly, Victorian courts will not allow former employees to obtain an unfair springboard into a new career by abusing the trust of the former employer. Examples are where employees spend an entire weekend photocopying price lists, formulae, client contact details and other confidential information and then resign the following Monday morning to set up a competitive business the following Tuesday morning.

Essentially, Victorian courts perform a balancing act between the competing interests of the employee to be able to continue to gain a living on the one hand and the employer’s interests of being able to reasonably prevent the disclosure of confidential and secret trade-sensitive information to competitors when the employment relationship ceases.

The sorts of factors courts have taken into account are as follows. First, Victorian courts will look to see whether the restraint of trade is reasonable or is too restrictive. Any restraint which tries to prevent an employee from working not only in the particular business of the former employer but any other associated or ancillary business is likely to be struck down. Likewise, a restraint which seeks to prevent an employee from working for an excessively lengthy period (generally more than 12 months) is also highly likely to be struck down and declared unenforceable. To overcome these problems, lawyers draft restraint of trade clauses to have a “waterfall” effect. The clause contains a number of alternatives, for example, starting from a very wide restraint and then proceeding to an increasingly narrow restraint in terms of future employment activities or in terms of length of time. Each one of the alternatives is severable from the contract if declared unenforceable by a court. Accordingly, a court might reject a restraint which provided for former employee X not to be employed in any pharmaceutical industry within South East Asia including Australia. The court, on the other hand, may be prepared to enforce a restraint which prevented employee X from being employed in the field of molecular genetic artificial-blood technology in either Melbourne or in Sydney for a period of one year. Such a restraint is far more precise and reasonably protects the former employer’s confidential information whilst allowing the employee to seek employment in the general field of molecular genetics.

A court must also be satisfied that an employer’s fears are genuine. For instance, is the information really secret and confidential? If the information is only knowledge which an employee would obtain through the repetitive working of his or her ordinary job, courts are less likely to regard this as secret or confidential information. Other sorts of information which are publicly available (even such as client contact details and price lists) may also not qualify. If there is no secret or confidential information, then there can be no restraint of trade.

Courts will also look to see whether the employee was specifically compensated for the restraint when first employed. If an employee received a specific additional sum as a hiring incentive for a longer than normal restraint of trade, courts are more likely to be persuaded that the restraint, when ultimately applied, is reasonable. The employee has accepted the restraint when first employed and has received a specific benefit for it.

Another factor which courts will examine is the seniority of the former employee. The more senior, the more likely it may be that the now departed employee may be capable of encouraging other staff to follow him or her and more capable of influencing former clients to switch allegiance. Alternatively, if the former employee was not employed in a managerial position and was only employed at either a junior or specific technical level, courts may be less worried about wholesale client or staff defections which would need to be prevented by the restraint of trade clause.

Until recently, courts seemed reluctant to enforce restraints of trade for more than 3-6 months. However, recent New South Wales Supreme Court authorities seem to be swinging the pendulum back in favour of employers where the balancing exercise outlined above suggests that the restraint of trade does need to be enforced to reasonably protect the former employer’s market and confidential information interests. For instance, Brereton, J., in John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd v. Bert & Ors [2006] N.S.W.S.C. 995 upheld a restraint of trade for 12 months in relation to a former employee who had been employed at a senior level. The same judge, in Cactus Imaging Pty Ltd v. Peters [2006] N.S.W.S.C. 17 (18 July 2006) also enforced a restraint of trade for 12 months in a situation where the former employee operated in a restrictive market or oligopoly.

This is a complex area of law. Contracts of employment generally and restraints of trade particularly need to be carefully drafted to have their intended legal effect.

Employers and employees need to be carefully advised on the range of tactics available in post employment scenarios.

Michael Pickering is a solicitor employed at LAC Employment Lawyers Melbourne. He has nearly 20 years experience as a lawyer.