What to do if you are in an automobile accident

What’s up with all the SUVs driving around, eh? It’s more than just their owners wanting to look tough – automobile accidents are the biggest concern of every car owner, which is why more and more people are opting for tank-esque personal vehicles. Car accidents can happen even to the most attentive driver, and when they do, the shock can often make people forget that the end of the accident usually means the start of a tough legal battle. Here are basic steps to take if you find yourself in an automobile accident (or have recently been in one).

  • Get ready to stick around. While you’d probably want nothing more than to go home, have a nice warm bath and forget all about the accident, leaving the scene is ill-advised and will cause a lot of trouble for you later on. Instead, you’ll have to stick around for what could be hours, depending on the magnitude of the incident.
  • Take pictures and collect data. One of the blessings of present day is the option to take a photo in mere seconds and in virtually every situation – make full use of this by taking dozens of photos of the accident site from all angles, including photographing everything that was damaged by a vehicle. Likewise, ask for contact info of everyone who participated in the accident and feel free to use the threat of law enforcement if necessary. Speaking of law enforcement…
  • Call the police and work with them. Sure, it’s a hassle, but the police need to have a record of what happened, and working with them will help you a great deal when things hit the court (they usually do).
  • Visit a hospital. No matter how you’re feeling, get a full check-up – car accident injuries can often be hidden and only present themselves later on after you’ve already given a statement, causing you to bear the medical expenses in full. Also, make sure to get a copy of the complete medical record of your physical and mental state in the aftermath of the accident.

The next steps aren’t as clear-cut for some but are even more straightforward for many. Some will tell you to call the persons who played a role in the accident and work out an agreement with them, or to talk to your insurance company, tell them what happened and see what they can do to help.

Our advice, though? Head straight to an attorney. Even if you aren’t keen on ‘lawyering up’, there are countless benefits to working with an attorney every step of the way – a good attorney will prevent you from undermining yourself with any action you could take due to oversight or simply good will.

Not to mention, working with an attorney will almost certainly entitle you to greater compensation both from the insurance company and any persons who played a role in the accident. While you might feel as if you’re lacking a guardian angel after being in an accident, your attorney will end up filling that role nicely as time passes.

Basic insurance you need your business

Nobody wants to do business with someone who isn’t insured – it makes the business owner seem unprofessional and lacking a certain seriousness. But if you own a business, public opinion is far from the only reason why you should have a good insurance plan – should something go wrong, your own pocket is not a place from where you want the damages money coming from. Here are some types of insurance you, as a business owner, should look into.

The meat and potatoes of business insurance

These days, you can get insured against an ingrown toenail, but do you really want to? Many non-basic insurance premiums are uncomfortably high – if you’re good at what you do, the basics should serve you just fine for the time being.

The first form of insurance every savvy business owners rushes to is liability insurance. Even if you have a limited liability company, you should put some serious thought into getting a policy that protects you in the case of legal issues – lawyers and courts ask for a pretty penny, and everyone can sue everyone (or so Ally McBeal told us). Should someone strike you with an unjust lawsuit, you don’t want to be the one paying for legal fees – likewise, should something go wrong on the job, a liability insurance policy will compensate the victims.

Afterwards, it’s a good idea to insure the tools of your trade with a property insurance policy that will protect your headquarters and the objects in it. The effectiveness of this policy will vary – from weather-related woes all the way to breaks and malfunctions caused by you or your employees, depending on the premiums you’re willing to pay for. Likewise, consider vehicle insurance – if you’re running a door-to-door business like tree service, your vehicle can be every bit as important as your shears.

Professional liability insurance is another good thing to have, especially if you have many people working for you: you might be supremely confident in your skillset, but can you vouch that none of your employees will make mistakes? If you get sued over some type of malpractice, this policy can act as an extension of the liability insurance by helping you deal with any payments you are forced to make.

The insurances of your employees

Other than insuring your brand, you should also think about the various insurance policies that your workers will have. It’s probably the dream of every bad employer to have his employees pay for their insurance premiums in full, but many states now force business owners to pay for their workers’ health and unemployment-related policies.

This is also why every business owner should think twice about expanding the workforce: you might be able to set aside extra paychecks, but can you bear the many additional fees that come with more employees as well? If you don’t want to pay for someone else’s disability insurance and unemployment tax, you should consider working with what (or rather, whom) you have until you enjoy greater profits.

How to set up an LLC for your business

Aiming to push your business from a garage-ran effort to a legitimate enterprise? You’ll have to start by establishing it as a company. If you own a regular business, you’ll probably want to turn it into an LLC, or limited liability company – you’ll reap multiple benefits, and besides, who doesn’t want to be only partially liable should something go wrong?

Jokes aside, no matter how difficult or downright scary setting up an LLC might seem, it’s actually pretty easy. Here’s how to go about it.

The basics for any business

The first thing you might want to get out of the way is figuring out state-specific laws: every state treats LLCs and their creation differently, and you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs related to your particular area.

In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from around $50 to upwards of $150 depending on where your company will be located and what kind of business you’re in. Thanks to how far internet has come, you can even opt to start your LLC online, although you’ll probably pay less if you do it in person in the office of your secretary of state.

Next up, paperwork. (you didn’t really think you could get around this, did you?) The purpose of much of the paperwork related to LLC start-ups is actually to protect the future company owner from legal harm. Sure, you might think you and your partners will never quarrel and that everything will always be rosy, but it only takes one arduous legal battle to make you wish you took protective measures.

Consider working with a lawyer going into your first LLC. You don’t need one, but then again, you don’t exactly need a lawyer even when facing 20 to life – having professional legal help now might mean a world of difference some day.

The documents you provide should include an operating agreement where you’ll explain who’s who and who owns what in your company – should things ever get to a court, you won’t have to worry about a minor partner claiming full ownership of the company.

Should I start a LLC, anyways?

You should know that starting an LLC isn’t free even past the initial fee. Once you’re a successful business owner, everyone wants a piece of your pie, and things are no different here – you’ll probably find yourself paying hundreds of dollars every year to keep your LLC up depending on your exact state. Scratch that – when you count in profit-based fees, you’ll fork over anywhere from over $1,000 to a five-figure amount to Uncle Sam every year. While only businesses making over $200,000 a year tend to be charged a five-figure annual fee, don’t underestimate your potential earnings – even a smaller company like one that installs rain gutters can rake in big numbers when things start rolling.

Hence, you’ll have to figure out whether your business has really reached this point. You can use the following for a good measure: if your company acts as your main source of income, go ahead and slap an LLC tag on it – it will be worth it, despite the taxes.

How to choose a personal injury attorney

Have you recently suffered an injury of any magnitude and feel like you could use some help paying the medical bills or living expenses brought about during a layoff? Personal injury attorneys specialize in ensuring compensation for people who deserve it (and preventing others from doing wrong by them) – even if you think your injury was caused by an accident, there is very likely a guilty party that can compensate you with the right legal help on your side. Here’s how to choose a personal injury attorney.

Choosing a personal injury attorney

  • Word of mouth: Good lawyers have a way of getting famous (or infamous) in a relatively short period of time: the best will have others trembling at the slightest utterance of their name. Ask your friends, family and acquaintances regarding a good attorney specializing in personal injuries – you will more than likely get a name or two worth checking out.
  • Look for attorneys that work for free until the legal battle is won: Successful lawyers will have no trouble working with this policy – in fact, most personal injury attorneys insist on payment only after they’ve won in the courts. If your attorney asks for any sort of payment before going to court, it might be a sign of bad things ahead – likewise, if the contract mentions payments in case of a loss in court, you probably want to keep looking. With that said, be careful: some attorneys might ask for too big of a cut, and you’ll want to agree on clear-cut payment terms before ever going into court (preferably a percentage fee). Also, attorneys with this policy might be reluctant to take cases in ‘gray areas’ – if the case around your injury seems murky (read: difficult to win), you might have to contend with paying something up front to get a good lawyer on the case.
  • Ask for past clients: This goes without saying: a good attorney won’t mind providing a few past clients with whom they’ve had successful dealings. It’s best if you can actually get in touch with these people and ask them about details, although a review is still better than nothing. While there, make sure to ask for specific amounts of money that they’ve managed to secure for past clients – this is one of those cases where bigger is indeed better.
  • Ask for past opponents: This is a major one, and one that many overlook. You can usually judge the caliber of your attorney by the parties they’ve successfully prosecuted in the past. Why? The bigger a name, company or brand is, the better their own attorneys will be – the bigger players have an entire legal team working with them and fending off attacks, so to speak. A personal injury attorney who has went against some big or downright menacing companies and won is definitely someone worth your consideration. Sure, the list of ‘victims’ doesn’t have to include Google or The Coca-Cola Company, but going against established companies with seven-figure or higher annual earnings and winning should be a part of your attorney’s resume.