Preparing for Your First Meeting With Your Personal Injury Lawyer
In a previous article, I discussed the qualities you should look for in a personal injury attorney (trial experience, previous work with personal injury cases, a successful track record, etc). Once you have found the right lawyer, you will meet with him or her.
At the initial meeting, you should provide your attorney with as much evidence and information regarding your case as you can. Properly documenting police reports, medical reports, damage reports, photos, and/or eye-witness accounts allows for a stronger case. Make sure to bring all correspondence from any insurance company. Make sure to bring a copy of the “declarations page” for any insurance policy that you may have had in force. (The “declarations page” shows what types of coverage you had purchased and the amounts of coverage.)
The more documents that you can give your lawyer at the beginning of your case, the faster your lawyer can get your case moving. Ultimately, this will yield a faster, and perhaps larger, settlement.
Slips on Snow or Ice
We typically receive several calls each winter regarding falls on ice or snow. These slips and falls can be serious. I once encountered a case in which a business patron actually had his leg amputated, resulting from complications of a fall on ice.
However, most people misunderstand what obligations property owners have regarding snow and ice. Contrary to popular belief, property owners and business owners generally have no duty to clear snow and ice. (They often mistakenly believe that they do, and accordingly clear the ice and snow.)
In Ohio, snow and ice are considered general hazards of living in the northern parts of the United States. Everyone is supposed to take care to avoid slipping on snow or ice. In most cases, if a business owner fails to shovel the snow or put salt on ice, and you fall, you have no case against the business owner (or homeowner, or whomever). Shoveling snow or removing ice is, legally speaking, merely a courtesy extended to the walking public.
There is one major exception, however. If a property owner creates an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice, then the owner can be liable. For example, a property owner has a gutter that is facing in a direction that causes water to flow over a walking surface. The water freezes and causes a slip hazard. The owner can be liable in that situation.
More complicated are the “snow pile” cases. Store owners with large parking lots plow the snow into large piles. The snow starts to melt, creating new ice. Courts have gone both ways on these cases. Ultimately, whether the ice unnaturally accumulated will be the deciding factor.
If you think that you may have a case arising from a slip on ice, please call us at 740-374-5346.
The Oil and Gas Boom
Southeast Ohio is once again experiencing an oil and gas boom. The development, or potential development, of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations is reinvigorating the gas business in our area.
Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels handles oil and gas matters. We will review proposed leases, assist in negotiating leases, and can provide real estate transaction services involving oil and gas leases.
At Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels, we also assist landowners who have current non-producing leases. Under Ohio law, there are methods to cause the forfeiture of non-producing leases that burden property. There are a number of common situations. There may be an old lease, but no well was ever drilled. Or, there may be a well, but no royalties have been paid. Or, there is a well, but there have only been minimal royalties paid. Perhaps, the property is capable of additional development, but there is no current development. Sometimes, there is an “expiration” of the current lease by its own terms.
These are complicated issues, but there are ways for landowners to “un-burden” themselves of these leases, or at a minimum, obtain compensation for the burden of a not being able to obtain alternate development. Sometimes, it is necessary to file a lawsuit to enforce the landowner’s rights.
If you have a question about and oil and gas issue, please call us at 740-374-5346.