Tripped and Fell On Sidewalk Do I Need A Lawyer?

I’ve been there. Running along a sidewalk on a nice fall morning. I’m enjoying the crisp weather. Looking at what is ahead of me. And suddenly I’m on the ground. Fortunately, aside from a scrape I’m okay. I look back to see what caused my fall and I notice the sidewalk is uneven. I’m lucky. I don’t need to make a claim.

Not everyone is so lucky. Falls on sidewalks can result in serious injuries.

In Connecticut, one of the harshest statutes we have is the sidewalk notice statute. Many folks are injured on Connecticut’s sidewalks. Often because towns fail to maintain or inspect them.

If you are injured on a sidewalk you need to seek a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. 

Connecticut provides that a person who was injured by means of a defective sidewalk may recover damages from the party bound to keep it in repair. In making a claim under that a person was injured because of a defective sidewalk, the first thing the plaintiff must prove is that he gave the required statutory notice of injury.

No notice no case.

The law requires that an action can only be brought to recover damages caused by a defective sidewalk if the plaintiff provides written notice of the injury, with a general description of the injury, the cause, the time, and the place of its occurrence. This notice shall be given within ninety days thereafter to a selectman or clerk of the town, city or borough bound to keep the sidewalk in repair.

Your lawyer should immediately investigate the sidewalk. You should accompany your lawyer to the location of the fall. Pictures should be taken. Your lawyer should do a title search to determine ownership of the sidewalk. Your lawyer also needs to examine town ordinances related to sidewalks.

All of this has to be done within 90 days of the fall. If it is not, you cannot make any claim for your injuries. And just because you give notice doesn’t mean you have to pursue a claim.

If you have fallen on a sidewalk and would like to discuss your claim, please contact me for a free consultation at (860) 471-8333

 

Audible – The Best Buy In Attorney CLE

It’s a beautiful summer day. I’m on a walk. The weather is perfect. As I make my way down by the river, I’m listening to an audio book. I’m learning from Gerry Spence about how to make a closing argument. Spence is one of the greatest trial lawyers ever. He teaches a college in Wyoming that costs thousands to attend over 3 weeks. For 1 Audible credit, I get to spend nearly 5 hours with Spence. I treasure our time together.

You need to go to a formal seminar if you are someone looking for CLE credit. Audible is the best buy in attorney cle.

If you are dedicated to improving your practice – look to Audible.com. Audible is Amazon’s audiobook service. Audible’s pricing is as follows:

Gold Monthly $14.95 per month – 1 credit each month
Platinum Monthly $22.95 per month 2 credits each month
Gold Annual $149.50 per year 12
Platinum Annual $229.50 per year 24

A single CLE class can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

The advantage of Audible is you can listen to your books in the car or on a walk.  It’s a fantastic way to learn when you are pressed for time. Here are some suggestions of books that can’t help but make you a better attorney:

Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail, Every Place, Every Time by Gerry Spence. Spence reads the book. It is fantastic. A tour de force on persuasion.

The E-Myth Attorney: Why Most Legal Practices Don’t Work and What to Do about It: This book may challenge the way you look at your practice. Are you self employed or are you running a firm?

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage by Brene Brown. Law, at least most of it, is a people profession. Learn about the shame, vulnerability and courage that are at the core of our practices and cases.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In: We negotiate for a living. This book offers practical advice that will benefit you and your clients.

Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You: Your firm is your systems and the people who manage those systems. Do you have systems? We all need systems. Systems, systems, systems.

There are many other books that are worthy of your time. I burn through 24 credits a year. Reading all sorts of books on neuroscience, meditation, law, communication, and business. What I get is a steal for $229.50.

Free Connecticut Residential Lease

I’ve seen a lot of bad leases in my career. Often placing unnecessary burdens on landlords. There’s one in particular that is sold at a big box store that I see a lot. Its terms add months onto an already long eviction process.

So below I am pasting a free Connecticut residential lease. It is not legal advice. Legal advice would be tailoring this document to meet your specific needs. Rather it is a jumping off point. Use it at your own risk. If you choose to use this you do so at your own peril. It is always wise to consult with an attorney prior to entering into a lease with a tenant. Housing law is a trap for the unwary.

Here’s the bones of a lease:

RESIDENTIAL APARTMENT LEASE AGREEMENT

This Residential Apartment Lease Agreement (“Lease”) is made and effective ______________  ___, 20__ by and between (Landlord”), and (“Tenant”).

1. PREMISES
Landlord hereby rents to Tenant and Tenant accepts in its present condition the residence at the following address: , _______________, __________ Connecticut ________ (the “Premises”).

2. TERM
The term of this Lease shall start on _______ ___, 20___ and end on ________ ____, 20_____.

3. RENT
Tenant agrees to pay, without demand, to Landlord as rent for the Home the sum of $___________ per month in advance on the first day of each calendar month.

4. SECURITY DEPOSIT
Upon execution of this lease, Tenant shall pay the Landlord a security deposit in the amount of $___________.

5. QUIET ENJOYMENT
Landlord agrees that if Tenant timely pays the rent and performs the other obligations in this Lease, Landlord will not interfere with Tenant’s peaceful use and enjoyment of the Home.

6. USE OF PREMISES
A. The Home shall be used and occupied by Tenant exclusively as a private single-family residence. Neither the Home nor any part of the Home or yard shall be used at any time during the term of this Lease for the purpose of carrying on any business, profession, or trade of any kind, or for any purpose other than as a private single-family residence.

B. Tenant shall comply with all the health and sanitary laws, ordinances, rules, and orders of appropriate governmental authorities and homes associations, if any with respect to the Home.

7. CONDITION OF PREMISES
A. Tenant agrees that Tenant has examined the Home, including the grounds and all buildings and improvements, and that they are, at the time of this Lease, in good order, good repair, safe, clean, and tenantable condition.

B. Tenant shall comply with all the health and sanitary laws, ordinances, rules, and orders of appropriate governmental authorities and homes association, if any, with respect to the Home.

8. ASSIGNMENT AND SUBLETTING
A. Tenant shall not assign this Lease, or sublet or grant any concession or license to use the Home or any part of the Home without Landlord’s prior written consent.

B. Any assignment, subletting, concession, or license without the prior written consent of Landlord, or an assignment or subletting by operation of law, shall be void and, at Landlord’s option, terminate this Lease.

9. ALTERATIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS
A. Tenant shall make no alterations to the Home or construct any building or make other improvements without the prior written consent of Landlord.

B. All alterations, changes, and improvements built, constructed, or placed on or around the Home by Tenant, with the exception of fixtures properly removable without damage to the Home and movable personal property, shall, unless otherwise provided by written agreement between Landlord and Tenant, be the property of Landlord and remain at the expiration or earlier termination of this Lease.

10. DAMAGE TO PREMISES
If the Home, or any part of the Home, shall be partially damaged by fire or other casualty not due to Tenant’s negligence or willful act, or that of Tenant’s family, agent, or visitor, there shall be an abatement of rent corresponding with the time during which, and the extent to which, the Home is untenantable. If Landlord shall decided not to rebuild or repair, the term of this Lease shall end and the rent shall be prorated up to the time of the damage.

11. DANGEROUS MATERIALS
Tenant shall not keep or have on or around the Home any article or thing of a dangerous, inflammable, or explosive character that might unreasonably increase the danger of fire on or around the Home or that might be considered hazardous.

12. UTILITIES
Tenant shall be responsible for arranging and paying for all utility services (telephone, water and electricity) required on the premises. Tenant will also pay for all heating oil and agrees to keep at least 75 gallons of oil in the tank at all times. Tenant shall not default on any obligation to a utility provider for utility services at the Home.

13. MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR
A. Tenant will, at Tenant’s sole expense, keep and maintain the Home and appurtenances in good and sanitary condition and repair during the term of this Lease. In particular, Tenant shall keep the fixtures in the Home in good order and repair. Tenant shall, at Tenant’s sole expense, make all required repairs to the plumbing, range, oven heating apparatus, electric and gas fixtures, other mechanical devices and systems, floors, ceilings and walls whenever damage to such items shall have resulted from Tenant’s misuse, waste, or neglect, or that of the Tenant’s family, agent, or visitor.

B. Tenant agrees that no signs shall be placed or painting done on or about the Home by Tenant without the prior written consent of Landlord.

C. Tenant agrees to promptly notify Landlord in the event of any damage, defect or destruction of the Home, or the failure of any of Landlord’s appliances or mechanical systems, and except for repairs or replacements that are the obligation of Tenant pursuant to Subsection A above, Landlord shall use its best efforts to repair or replace such damaged or defective area, appliance or mechanical system.

14. ANIMALS and SMOKE-FREE ENVIRONMENT
Tenant shall keep no domestic or other animals in or about the Home. There shall be no smoking of any kind in the Home.

15. RIGHT OF INSPECTION
Landlord and Landlord’s agents shall have the right at all reasonable times during the term of this Lease and any renewal of this Lease to enter the Home for the purpose of inspecting the premises and/or making any repairs to the premises or other item as required under this Lease.

16. DISPLAY OF SIGNS
Landlord or Landlord’s agent may display “For Sale” or similar signs on or about the Home and enter to show the Home to prospective purchasers.

17. SURRENDER OF PREMISES
At the expiration of the Lease, Tenant shall quit and surrender the Home in as good as condition as it was at the commencement of this Lease, reasonable wear and tear and damages by the elements expected.

18. ABANDONMENT
If at any time during the term of this Lease, Tenant abandons the Home or any of Tenant’s personal property in or about the Home, Landlord shall have the following rights: Landlord may, at Landlord’s option, enter the Home by any means without liability to Tenant for damages and may relet the Home, for the whole or any part of the then unexpired term, and may receive and collect all rent payable by virtue of such reletting; Also, at Landlord’s option, Landlord may hold Tenant liable for any difference between the rent that would have been payable under this Lease during the balance of the unexpired term, if this Lease had continued in force, and the net rent for such period realized by Landlord by means of such reletting. Landlord may also dispose of any of Tenant’s abandoned personal property as Landlord deems appropriate, without liability to Tenant. Landlord is entitled to presume that Tenant has abandoned the Home if Tenant removes substantially all of Tenant’s furnishings from the Home, if the Home is unoccupied for a period of two (2) consecutive weeks, or if it would otherwise be reasonable for Landlord to presume under the circumstances that the Tenant has abandoned the Home.

19. SECURITY
Tenant acknowledges that Landlord does not provide a security alarm system or any security for the Home or for Tenant and that any such alarm system or security service, if provided, is not represented or warranted to be complete in all respects or to protect Tenant from all harm. Tenant hereby releases Landlord from any loss, suit, claim, charge, damage or injury resulting from lack of security or failure of security.

20. SEVERABILITY
If any part or parts of this Lease shall be held unenforceable for any reason, the remainder of this Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

21. INSURANCE
Tenant acknowledges that Landlord will not provide insurance coverage for Tenant’s property, nor shall Landlord be responsible for any loss of Tenant’s property, whether by theft, fire, acts of God, or otherwise.

22. BINDING EFFECT
The covenants and conditions contained in the Lease shall apply to and bind the heirs, legal representatives, and permitted assigns of the parties.

23. GOVERNING LAW
It is agreed that this Lease shall be governed by, construed, and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of Connecticut.

24. ENTIRE AGREEMENT
This Lease shall constitute the entire agreement between the parties. Any prior understanding or representation of any kind preceding the date of this Lease is hereby superseded. This Lease may be modified only by a writing signed by both Landlord and Tenant.

25. NOTICES
Any notice required or otherwise given pursuant to this Lease shall be in writing; hand delivered, mailed certified return receipt requested, postage prepaid, or delivered by overnight delivery service, if to Tenant, at the House and if to Landlord, at the address for payment of rent.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have caused this Lease to be executed this ____nd day of _________, 20____.

TENANT:___________________________                                LANDLORD:_____________________________

Do I Have A Case?

I am often asked “Do I have a case?”

The answer requires understanding the law, investigating the claim, and listening to the client. Every situation is different. Only an experienced Connecticut injury attorney can answer this question. 

I always ask myself two questions: (1) what do I have to prove? and (2) can I prove it?

In order to do this I think about the civil burden of proof. Commonly referred to as a preponderance standard. Below I’ve paraphrased and cut from the CT Civil Jury Instructions on burden of proof:

“In civil cases, an injured person who asserts a claim has the burden of proving it by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that is, the better or weightier evidence must establish that, more probably than not, the assertion is true.

In weighing the evidence, a jury must keep in mind that it is the quality and not the quantity of evidence that is important; one piece of believable evidence may weigh so heavily as to overcome a multitude of less credible evidence. The weight to be accorded each piece of evidence is for the jury to decide.

Imagine the scales of justice. Put all the credible evidence on the scale. If the scales incline, even slightly, in favor of the assertion may you find the assertion has been proved by a fair preponderance of the evidence.”

If you would like to talk about your case contact me at (860) 471-8333

Happy September To You

Good morning.

It is September 1st. September is the most glorious time in Connecticut. I used to despise September as it meant going back to school. I loved and still love the freedom of summer.

September on the Farmington.
September on the Farmington.

As an adult, I welcome the richness of September. There’s no school to go back to. The weather is warm and dry. The sky a perfect shade of blue. The nights cool. Days getting shorter but still long enough.

This year meaningful – to the extent games can be – baseball will be played at Fenway Park. Football returns.

The apples are delicious. The leaves begin showing color. There are fairs, many, many, fairs. There will be sitting by the fire. And great running weather.

May life shower you with abundance.

And may Papi, Mookie, Xander, and Pedroia make a run deep into October.

Happy September to you.

Is a Hotel Responsible For Bed Bug Bites?

Bed Bugs are nasty.

Spending a night in a hotel room should not result in welts, the destruction of your furniture at home, and a weeks long fumigation process. Shouldn’t happen. 

But bed bugs can happen even at a 5 star hotel that is very clean. A traveler unknowingly brings them into the hotel in a suitcase and just like that the hotel has a bed bug problem.

According to the Centers For Disease Control, “bed bugs hide hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep”.

The good news is that bed bugs are not known to spread disease. The bad news is that I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. They can create major headaches.

Is a hotel responsible for bed bug bites? Can you sue the hotel?

The answer like the answer to so many things is maybe.

We have successfully brought bed bug claims against hotels. We have also declined a number of cases.

What we look for is evidence that the hotel knew of a problem and failed to act. If a hotel doesn’t know or doesn’t have any reason to know it has bed bugs than there is possibly no claim.  For example, the traveler before you brought in bed bugs. They were hiding under some wallpaper. You hit the unlucky lottery and are bitten. Upon the hotel learning about this they treat the premises for bed bugs.

Hotels can’t be wilfully blind to bed bugs. Bed bugs are a foreseeable risk to their customers. Hotels have to have inspection and treatment procedures. They must take actions to prevent bed bug bites.

We look at any prior publically available reports – complaints to the Department of Health, town, or lawsuits to try and determine how a hotel handles bed bugs.

If our investigation reveals that the hotel knew or should have known and failed to act properly than the hotel may be held responsible for the damages caused by their failure to follow safety rules including medical bills, damage to property, pain, and anxiety.

Contact us if you’d like us to review your bed bug case for free. We are only licensed in Connecticut.

Pro Tip On Bringing Your Cell Phone To Court

Can I take my cell phone to court?

The answer is yes. Yes with a slight caveat. You can’t use your phone while court is in session. Nor can your phone make any noise.

You don’t want to have a marshal take your phone. Or fine you. Or disrupt court proceedings. You really don’t. I know from experience.

These magic devices that make our lives easier are hard to mute. Even when we hit mute – notifications have a way of popping up and making noise.

Here’s a pro tip on bringing your cell phone to court.

Tip: Use airplane mode.

Hillary Clinton Sued For Being A Woman…..Again

Hillary Clinton is being sued for being a woman….again.

Eight years ago, I wrote about an Nevada attorney suing Hillary Clinton to prevent her from becoming president. His theory in a nutshell:

Simply put, he says the document the fathers drafted contains gender-specific language when it comes to the president. He counts no fewer than 19 masculine references to the president. Kolo. 

I predicted his suit would be dismissed for mootness. A prediction that turned out to be true.

I will go out on a limb and again predict the suit will be dismissed.

That’s right, in 2016, a woman running for president is being sued for being a woman. For the second time.

Using Amazon Dash Buttons In Your Law Firm

If you are running a small law firm there are all sorts of things – taxes, insurance audits, payroll, vendors and the list goes on. The work never stops in a day. You just stop working that day. Using Amazon Dash Buttons in your law firm makes life 250% more awesome. Guaranteed.

You need to spend your time focusing on the important things like clients. But there is mundane creep that tries to sabotage your best intentions. By mundane creep I mean running out of supplies. You go to print the fee agreement only to find out you are out of toner. A trip to staples ensues.

Fortunately it is easier than ever to buy anything. But there’s a better way. That better was is Amazon Dash buttons.

Dash buttons are little wifi enable buttons that are easily placed where you keep your supplies. You buy the button, easily connect it to the internet with your phone, and select the item you want ordered when someone presses the button. And bam! Two days later that item appears.

There are dash buttons for all sorts of products. In my office I use them for paper, toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, dishwashing detergent, and trash bags.

My assistant sees the paper is running low. She hits the button. The paper that I want comes directly to the office. Neither my time or hers is wasted buying or ordering supplies.

With dash buttons you don’t have to worry about multiple people hitting the button and winding up with 20 boxes of paper. The button won’t process another order until after an order arrives.

This is especially useful for me. In addition to running a law firm, I also lease office space through a separate business to colleagues. I handle common supplies. With dash buttons there are no more emergency runs for supplies. It is less for me to do.

Dash buttons are a cheap and simple hack to make your office more efficient and productive.

If only there was a Starbucks dash button. Make it happen, Amazon.

Here’s my hokey video featuring paper and a dash button.

Picture Your First Day As A Solo

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What will your first day as a solo look like? Picture your first day.

Four years ago. I’m sitting here. On a bucket…or maybe it was a step ladder. Or a fixture that had been abandoned by a clothing store that previously occupied the space.

There is dust. There is an old record – maybe Streisand? – in close proximity. There are plans. Lots of plans. There is hope. But mostly there is anxiety. My once stable professional life was in uncharted waters.

This is the day that it got real. There was no more paycheck. No actual office to work in. No staff. Months of planning lead to me being here.

Months of office construction would come to an end. There would be nights assembling ikea. Meetings with clients at Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Outback Steakhouse and Starbucks. An opening would be delayed by a November hurricane.

A year later, I’d be starting over again. A new office to paint. In a new town. A new logo. A new website. A new email. New insurance. New walls to paint. New furniture to buy. New bank accounts to set up.

And two years later I’d find myself in the position of designing a new office.  Adding members to my firm. Adding staff. Filling an office with wonderful colleagues.

But that dusty room is where the first day of the rest of my life happened.

Not all of the plans I had that day went as planned.

I can still smell and feel that day. It’s humid. It’s musty. It’s dirty. It is a day waiting to happen.

It’s a day I go back to.

When you start your journey into forming your own practice. Take a picture of what is in front of you. Maybe it is your bedroom wall. Maybe it is a friend’s conference room.

Take that picture. You’ll cherish it.