Share

Bellmore, NY Estate Planning & Complex Litigation Blog

Friday, September 6, 2019

How the IRS Treats Personal Injury Awards

You've reached the end of your personal injury lawsuit and finally have the award you deserve. Court costs, attorney's fees, medical costs, and other expenses will need to be paid. But what about the IRS?

Most personal injury awards are not subject to federal taxes. The tax treatment of your award will be the same, whether it was reached through trial or settlement. However, personal injury awards are complex and contain both taxable and non-taxable parts.

Non-taxable

The portion of your award that compensates you for physical injuries is generally not taxable. Medical bills are perhaps the most significant portion of your award that falls under this category. 

Pain, suffering, and emotional distress damages are also not usually taxable. But these must be directly related to your physical injuries. Property damage is another type of award that typically does not get taxed. The IRS views all of these as reimbursement to the victim and so excludes them from federal taxes.

Taxable

On the other hand, lost wages are taxed. This is an award intended to compensate someone for work that was missed due to an injury. However, had the person not been injured and had earned that money, it would have been taxed. The IRS therefore will tax any portion of damages covering lost wages. Some plaintiffs also deduct out-of-pocket medical costs on previous tax returns. If you wrote off these sorts of eligible expenses in a previous tax year, the compensation you receive for them will likely be taxed.

In some personal injury cases, the court awards punitive damages. These are designed to punish particularly offensive behavior on the part of the defendant. The IRS considers these awards to be in addition to the actual losses incurred by the plaintiff, and so they will be subject to tax.

It's important to understand how exactly your personal injury award is divided up among all of the different types of damages. Failing to make this distinction could subject the entire amount to taxes. Talk to your personal injury attorney so you understand exactly what you have been awarded.

One way to manage personal injury taxes is to use what are called structured settlements. These pay the plaintiff over time instead of all at once, which could lighten the tax burden. 

When you've received news of your award or settlement, have your attorney categorize each part. Talk with a tax professional who can provide assistance specific to your situation, and who can also advise as to any tax consequences from your state taxing authority. Tax laws and regulations change every year, so be sure to get the most updated advice from an expert.


Friday, August 30, 2019

What You Should Know Before You SIgn a Co-Working Space Agreement

Co-working is a popular, flexible work style for sharing a workspace and reducing overhead costs for the users. Users can choose an unassigned seat at a desk or a more formal private office setting. Co-working is on the rise in many industries but special care and concern should be noted for professions such as law that require confidentiality.  

What is a user office agreement?

There are many companies that offer co-working facilities, especially in urban environments and these providers will often require the user to sign a User Office Agreement.  The agreement should clearly state that it is not a landlord/tenant lease. In fact, the landlord is the owner of the building, where as the co-work provider is the tenant and the member is a co-work user. 

Co-working agreements resemble a gym membership more then a lease agreement.   For example, the user agreement will list certain “house rules,” which give users the day-to-day rules regarding using the space and sharing it with other users.  Some of the key provisions to look for before signing a user agreement in addition to the fees to be paid are:

  • Term -- A user should review the term of the agreement. Is it month-to-month or annual?  How does a user cancel? Is there a notice period?  
  • Amenities -- A user will want to understand what amenities comes with the member’s agreement, such as use of copy machines (or is there a printing fee?), coffee, refreshments, mail delivery services, networking events and file storage/lockers.  
  • Access -- Can the user access the space 7 days a week/365 days a year (24 hours a day) with a key card or does the particular facility have closed hours.  
  • Relocation Rights --  If a user selects a formal office with walls and locked door, the user should be aware of any relocation rights the provider may have. Relocation rights basically give the provider the right to move the user to a different office, which may or may not have the same square footage, to accommodate a new user.
  • Internet -- The provider may provide free WiFi along with certain disclaimers regarding liability and damage to the user’s business.  Some providers will request users waive any rights in the event of a data breach.  This provision should be reviewed carefully especially for legal or financial industry users who may work with sensitive information.  
  • Disputes -- As with many other contracts, the method for resolving disputes -- arbitration, mediation or litigation -- should be specified.

The Bottom Line

Co-working is becoming a popular alternative to the traditional office lease. Users should review the user agreement to ensure that it provides for a productive and economical work style.


Friday, August 16, 2019

How to Prove Mental and Emotional Distress After an Automobile Accident

Car accident victims often suffer more than just physical injuries. The effects of mental and emotional distress can compound trauma long after the injuries have healed. A victim can be compensated for these types of injuries. Because mental and emotional damages are not always as obvious as physical ones, however, they are typically more difficult to prove.

What is emotional distress?

Evidence of distress includes anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, apprehension, and confusion. Some accident victims lose interest in things they once enjoyed, or experience dramatic shifts in their attitudes and temperaments. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, take note of these and other changes you observe.

There are various types of evidence that may substantiate a claim of distress, not the least topf which is therapeutic, psychiatric, and prescription records. In addition, witness testimony from family, friends, co-workers, and other individuals can attest to changes in someone's disposition after an accident. At times, video or photographic evidence can provide some of the strongest proof that a victim's demeanor has been altered.

As with any accident case, you will need to establish liability to claim distress.  This means proving the other driver was negligent in his or her actions, and that the negligence caused the accident.

However, not everyone affected by an accident can assert mental or emotional distress. The law is narrow enough to prevent individuals from claiming distress simply over hurt feelings or the shock of witnessing something. For example, random, unrelated bystanders to an accident cannot claim distress. If that were the case, the number of claimants could be astronomical. 

A victim who sustains a physical injury, which in turn causes mental or emotional anguish, can claim distress. But there are also cases of non-injury distress resulting from an accident.  An example of this is loss of consortium. This refers to the deprivation of a family relationship because of an accident, such as the death of a spouse or parent.  

In court, it will be your lawyer's job to attempt to quantify the degree of mental or emotional distress. Numerous factors will be taken into account, including the intensity of suffering. The duration and underlying causes of the distress are also relevant, along with the physical injuries (if any) associated with it. Finally, psychological symptoms can demonstrate the degree of the victim's suffering.

The Takeaway

In the final analysis, mental and emotional distress is a complex blend of science and law.  Accident cases usually require expert witnesses and extensive medical records. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car crash, make sure you get the treatment you need. Follow all advice from your physicians, therapists, and other mental and emotional health professionals.  Lastly, speak with an accident attorney about your rights.


Friday, August 2, 2019

Why You Should Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer Before Agreeing to a Settlement

A car accident can cause major disruption to your life. Not only do you want your injuries to heal, you just want things to get back to normal. Insurance companies know this, so they act quickly to make a settlement offer. While that dollar figure may be enticing, there are several reasons you should check with an attorney before accepting.

Don’t Settle for Less

Settlement offers tend to be way lower than they should be. Remember, insurance companies are businesses. Their goal is to minimize damage – dollar payouts – as fast as possible. So the sooner your case goes away, the easier it is for them. If you speak with an insurance adjuster, which you should never do before talking to a lawyer, that person may come across as sympathetic. But at the end of the day, you're a dollar figure to the insurance company.

In addition, many injuries worsen over time. Still others do not reveal themselves until months or even years later. Insurance companies aren't thinking about later, and they're counting on you not to, either. A proper settlement will account not only for current medical bills, but future ones.  Having an experienced automobile accident attorney in your corner will help evaluate whether the offer is a fair one. 

A good settlement will not only account for medical expenses. It will take into consideration pain and suffering, lost wages, decreased earning capacity, and numerous other things. If you're thinking about an offer, have you calculated all of these (and other) damages? An accident attorney can help evaluate your case and determine whether the offered amount is truly comprehensive.

Bear in mind, also, that settlement agreements tend to be complex works of legal writing put together by insurance company lawyers. They're not drafting these documents with your interests in mind. They have experience doing hundreds and thousands of these agreements, and they know which legal terms and clauses to use that will protect their bottom line. Once you accept a settlement offer and sign the agreement, there is no redo. You cannot renegotiate. And you certainly cannot take your case to court. There may also be restrictive terms such as non-disclosure agreements built in. With so much at risk, it just makes sense to have a lawyer review an offer before you sign.

The Bottom Line

A settlement offer can be a good thing. At the right amount, it can get you the payments you deserve without the time, stress, and delay of going through the court system. But don't be fooled into believing the insurance company and its lawyers are working for you. Have an experienced automobile accident attorney review the terms of settlement before you sign onto a costly mistake.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Why Does a Tenant Need to List "Additional Insureds" on its Insurance Policy for Leased Property?

When a landlord and tenant enter into a commercial lease for a retail store or office space, the lease will likely contain a long insurance provision as well as an indemnity provision.  An indemnity is a promise whereby one party promises to indemnify (or compensate) the other against some anticipated loss.  

The commercial lease insurance provision will state the types of insurance the landlord must carry on the building, such as casualty insurance for damage caused by fire, hazards or terrorism and liability insurance to cover damage to property, bodily injury or death. By contrast, the tenant will be required to obtain and pay for insurance covering casualty or liability occurring within the leased premises and coverage for the certain events that occur in common areas of the leased building, especially if due to the tenant’s negligence.  

The tenant is the named insured – that is the party paying for the insurance whose credit was reviewed when issuing the policy and determining the premiums.  The landlord will request certain types of insurance in certain amounts be on a “per occurrence” basis with permitted deductible amounts. Landlords will sometimes request a tenant to carry business interruption insurance.  The rationale behind this request is if an event occurs that interrupts tenant’s business, the tenant ymay lose revenue and then not have sufficient funds to pay the rent.

Why is the tenant being asked to add others to its insurance policy for casualty and liability ?

On most casualty policies (with the exception of business insurance), the landlord will ask to be named as an “additional insured” on the tenant’s casualty policy, together with other interested parties such as the landlord’s agents (e.g. the property management company, or the mortgage lender).

An “additional insured” is a person or entity other than the named insured who is protected under the terms of the insurance policy sometimes referred to as the “loss payee. “ Typically an endorsement to the policy is added to cover additional insureds.  Landlords feel this protection is like “a belt and suspenders.”

The landlord will sometimes request a full copy of the tenant’s insurance coverage, with an endorsement showing the additional insureds listed, but more commonly will request a “Certificate of Insurance” which is a one-page sheet showing the types of coverage, amounts and deductibles and the lists the parties covered as additional insureds. 

The Bottom Line

Both the tenant and landlord should have their attorney carefully review the insurance provisions of the lease and indemnity clause to determine that there is adequate protection for each party and reasonable coverage given the specific risks.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

What Does Joint & Several Liability Mean?


Joint and several liability is a concept applicable in many areas of law, including contract, debtor/creditor, partnership, insurance/indemnity law, real estate and personal injury law.  

In the context of personal injury (otherwise known as Tort Law), a key concept is negligence.  In order to prove negligence, there must be a duty of reasonable care, a breach of that duty, causation and damages.  A plaintiff in a personal injury case must prove there are actual losses caused by the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.  A plaintiff who is damaged by a defendant’s negligence will want the court to make the plaintiff whole again with compensation for such past, present and future losses, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering/impairment (mental and physical) and loss of earning capacity.
Read more . . .


Friday, July 5, 2019

Why Landlords Want Tenants to Obtain Renter's Insurance


Residential landlords will often include a provision in the lease requiring the tenant to carry renter’s insurance. Landlords do not want be sued by tenants for damage to their possessions and want tenants to look to their own coverage. Tenants often balk at an additional cost and mistakenly assume that they are covered under the landlord’s policy. This is not the case. 

In fact, the landlord’s insurance will cover repairs to or replacement of the structure from things from fire, water or storm damage.
Read more . . .


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Why You Should Give Your Spouse Power Of Attorney

Married couples will often have legal estate documents prepared together.  Such documents may include a will, leaving all property to the surviving spouse and/or the couple’s children, and a heath care proxy (sometimes known as a living will) to direct the spouse how to handle medical issues if one spouse becomes incapacitated.   However, another estate document may be beneficial for spouses -- a durable power of attorney.  

What is a durable power of attorney?

A durable power of attorney (POA) is a power of attorney given in the event of disability (whether mental or physical) by one spouse and directs the other spouse how to handle certain business or monetary activities detailed in the agreement.  Some instances of disability could include mental illness, physical illness, advanced age, drug use, alcoholism, confinement or disappearance.  

While state law may grant spouses certain rights to act for the other spouse, some activities may or may not be covered.  A power of attorney also helps spouses who may have separate ownership of property by giving the spouse the right to act on behalf of the incapacitated spouse. 

Some examples of business decisions in real estate matters where the well spouse is not a co-owner (perhaps because the real estate was a premarital asset or for other tax reasons) and can act for the incapacitated spouse are:

  • If the incapacitated spouse owns rental property, the other spouse can collect rent
  • To pay real estate taxes for properties that may not in both spouses ownership
  • To handle issues related to any mortgages
  • To take out property insurance

Some other general business related functions a durable power of attorney can include: 

  • To sue on the collect of a debt
  • To file for bankruptcy
  • To write checks and do banking transactions
  • To sell stock or other securities
  • To file tax returns
  • To manage retirement accounts
  • To borrow money
  • To make loans
  • To make charitable donations
  • To hire attorneys, accountants or other professionals

In the event state law did not allow a spouse to do any of the functions described above for its incapacitated spouse, a durable power of attorney signed by the incapacitated spouse before the disability (and notarized for validity) can come in handy in a family emergency. 


Friday, June 14, 2019

Children and School Injuries: What are Your Legal Rights?

Roughly 10 to 25 percent of accidental injuries for children occur while they are at school. An estimated 2.2 million students will suffer an injury at school each year throughout the country. If  your child was injured at school or on school grounds, you may be able to obtain compensation for the harm he or she endured. The legal remedies vary depending on the cause of the injury, however.

Teachers and support staff have a significant responsibility when it comes to caring for your child. There are times when their  failure to supervise or react appropriately to certain situations can create legal liability for the school. In other circumstances, poor maintenance or inattention can also create a legal obligation.

Premises Liability at School

Keeping students safe while on the school property is extremely important. When the school property is not well maintained, students are at a higher risk of being injured.

All  property owners have a duty or maintain  their property and provide a safe environment to visitors. Because schools are used by young children, however, schools have a more significant responsibility when it comes to upkeep and ensuring that the location is safe.

Parents of children who have been injured at school because of poor  maintenance or negligent supervision can bring a legal claim against the school. These situations include slips, trips and falls or if school employees fail to  provide aid to your child if he or she is harmed in an accident on school grounds.

Bullying in Schools

Bullying is a big issue today. It occurs in schools across the country, and it can make children unsafe while attending school. When a school fails to take action to stop bullying behaviors, it can be legally liable for any injuries that your child endures. This action may include things like suspending or expelling the bullying student. It is vital that the school utilize its own code of conduct to address poor student behavior.

Bullying instances can also create liability for the parent of the bully as well. That is, the bully’s parents may be liable for any harm that the bully causes your child.

School-Related Product Safety

Children handle a wide range of unique products at school, including toys, lunch boxes, and school supplies. Some of these products can pose risks and have been subject to recalls. For example, BPA-lined plastic containers were recently recalled because of the unsafe chemicals.

When your child is harmed by a product, you may have a legal claim against the manufacturer, even though it was the school that exposed your child to the product. In some situations, the school may also be liable, particularly if they  had reason to know that the product was dangerous or defective.

Getting Legal Help

If your child has been harmed at school, you may have legal options. It is a good idea to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine how to  help your child after an injury at school.


Friday, June 7, 2019

Common Injuries in Rear-End Collisions

Rear end collisions are extremely common, often resulting in serious injuries. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board reports that there are roughly 1.7 million rear-end collisions in the United States every year. Even small fender vendors end up costing drivers millions of dollars every year. Because these collisions are so common, they often result in very similar injuries and damages. The most common injuries are described below.

Back Injuries

Back injuries resulting from rear-end collisions vary widely in seriousness. They can be minor and last just days or weeks, or affect you for the rest of your life. The force of the impact of this type of collision can compress your spine, which may harm your vertebrae and discs. Disc herniation is common after a rear-end collision.

Spinal cord injuries are also relatively common. If your spine presses on the nerves in your spinal cord, it can result in pain, numbness, and even the inability to move other parts of your body.

Whiplash

Whiplash occurs when your neck is stretched to its capacity and then quickly contracted frontward and backward or from side to side. It is r the most commonly cited injury resulting  from rear-end collisions. Roughly 20 percent of the individuals involved in a rear-end collision will suffer from whiplash injury. Whiplash injuries can damage ligaments and tendons in your neck. Pain can last just a few weeks or even more than a year in severe cases.

Wrist, Finger, Hand, and Arm Injuries

Your mind and body will instinctively  try to protect you in a rear end collision. This often means  you may try to stop yourself from moving forward by placing your hands on the dashboard or seat in front of you. The force is usually too much for your body to handle, which leads to broken bones, sprains, and other injuries.

Head Injuries

In some situations, the force of the impact may lead you to hit your head on the steering wheel, dashboard, or chair in front of you. Even if the airbags deployed, you may still end up striking your head on something that can cause serious damage. A head injury often results in loss of consciousness, concussions, lacerations, bruising, and swelling. Head injuries should always be taken seriously, and you should seek medical attention as soon as you can after the accident.

Seat Belt Injuries

You should always wear your seatbelt every time you get into the vehicle, but the nature of rear-end collisions make seatbelts somewhat dangerous. The most common injuries associated with belts are bruising and lacerations, but seatbelts have been known to cause internal injuries as well.

The Takeaway

Regardless of the seriousness of your rear-end collision, it is a good idea to seek medical attention after an accident. It is not only important  for your health and safety, but it may also help your personal injury case.


Friday, May 31, 2019

Dealing with an Uninsured Driver After a Car Accident

Car insurance is not only beneficial,  it is also legally required in every state in the U.S. However, t some drivers fail to  obtain insurance coverage or are underinsured, which poses unique challenges. In these situations,  recovering damages is quite different than in the typical car accident case.

Involving Your Own Insurance Company

In many situations, you can turn to your own insurance company if the at-fault driver does not have insurance coverage. However, you can only do this if you have specific additional forms of insurance coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Some states require a certain level of Uninsurer Motorist Coverage (UIM) while others do not. Most states that do not require it force insurance companies to offer it, however, so you may have this type of coverage and not realize it. Nonetheless, you might have had to purchase this extra form of coverage separately for it to apply. Check your insurance policy language to determine if you have UIM insurance.

Generally,  UIM coverage does not exceed  your standard liability coverage. In other word,  if you have $100,000 in total liability coverage per accident, that will be your UIM limit as well.

Collision Coverage

Another option that involves your own insurance company is collision coverage. This type of insurance covers  repairs to your vehicle that are caused by an accident. It will usually apply if you are in a crash with an uninsured driver or were the victim of a hit-and-run. While this type of coverage is helpful for property damage, it does not cover injuries sustained during or after the collision.

Coverage in No-Fault States

If you live in a no-fault state, whether the other driver has insurance may not affect you as much as if you lived in a fault state. This is because drivers in no-fault states will look to their own insurance for coverage first. The other driver’s insurance only matters if the injuries are severe enough to go above your policy’s limits.

Your Other Options After an Accident

In most situations, you have the option to file a lawsuit against the other driver, regardless of whether he or she has insurance. This is true if you have a severe injury in no-fault states as well. However, while you certainly have this option, it may not be a practical solution in many situations.

People often do not carry car insurance because they cannot afford the regular payments. If someone cannot afford to pay car insurance, they likely cannot afford to pay for a judgment against them to cover your injuries either. While you certainly can take steps to acquire the funds through other means after you obtain a  judgment (e.g., a garnishment or levy), such efforts often cost more in fees and time than you stand to gain.

If you have been involved in an accident with a driver  driver who does not have insurance or is underinsured, an adept personal injury attorney to can help you explore all of your options.


Archived Posts

2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2015
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2014
2013
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2012


Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, P.C. has offices in Bellmore, NY and assists clients throughout Long Island, including: the north shore of Long Island, The Town Of Oyster Bay, The Town Of North Hempstead, The Town Of Hempstead, The Town Of Huntington, Nassau & Suffolk Counties & throughout the Five Boroughs of The City Of New York.



© 2020 Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Attorney Advertising
1786 Bellmore Avenue, Bellmore, NY 11710
| Phone: 516-333-5000 | 800-628-1620

Practice Areas

Law Firm Website Design by
Zola Creative