Missouri 314.878.3200
Illinois 618.825.0188

What is a Non-compete Agreement?

non-compete agreementA non-compete agreement is part of a contract (usually an employee contract, although they are also sometimes included in contracts with independent contractors, depending on the business) in which one party promises the other not to work for one of their competitors after working with for them. It usually includes a time limit, meaning after the time period has elapsed, you’re free to work for whomever you want. The time period varies, but six months to a year is typical.

There is also usually a geographical requirement. For example, your employer may not want you working for one of their competitors within a five-mile radius of their headquarters.

Noncompete agreements are a fairly recent invention, having become popular a few decades ago when the tech giants were starting to grow and employee poaching was a serious problem for the industry. So companies started including noncompete clauses in their employee contracts, primarily with high-level executives who had access to trade secrets and sensitive information the company didn’t want them to take straight to a competitor.

A noncompete clause is a company’s way of protecting one of their assets – in this case, their employees and the information to which those employees have access. There may be nothing wrong with a noncompete clause that asks a high-level executive not to take their talent and knowledge to a competitor, but companies have been including noncompete clauses in more and more of their contracts, even, in some cases, minimum wage employees at the bottom of the totem pole. They’ve also been extending the time limit and the geographical limit, especially as the internet continues to bring people and businesses closer together than ever before.

While there may be a time and place for noncompete agreements, they’ve grown increasingly contentious over the past few years as employee advocates say they’re unfair to workers, while business advocates say they’re necessary.

The employee advocates argue that noncompete agreements inhibit employee mobility and artificially suppress wages – the idea being that, without noncompete agreements, companies have to pay their workers more in order to keep them from leaving.

It’s always a good idea to read contracts carefully before signing them, and the same goes for employee contracts. If your employer asks you to sign an employment contract with a noncompete clause, check it carefully before signing. Is it fair? Or will it inhibit you from working for any other company in that industry ever again? Is there a time limit to the noncompete agreement? A geographical limit? Are they both fair and reasonable? If a noncompete agreement is missing one or both of these components, it may not hold up in a court of law.

There have been cases in which an employee has left their company for a competitor, only to be slapped with a lawsuit for breach of contract. Sometimes they give in, but some of them have challenged the validity of those noncompete agreements and emerged with the court on their side.

Also check the employment laws in your area. Most states recognize the validity of noncompete agreements within certain restrictions, but those restrictions vary. California does not recognize any noncompete agreement, even if they were signed in another state.

Should I Hire an Attorney if My Loved One Has Been a Victim of Elder Abuse?

elder abuseIf you know your loved one has been a victim of elder abuse, it’s not a matter of whether to hire an attorney – it’s a matter of when and which attorney to hire.

Any time someone is suffering from abuse – whether physical, emotional, or financial – the most important thing is to get them out of that abusive situation immediately. Doing so may involve breach of contract with the facility where they’re living, but a good elder law attorney can help you deal with that legally.

If the facility refuses to release the senior, for any reason, call an attorney immediately. They can help get your loved one out of the facility swiftly and legally, so you can put your mind at ease as far as their safety and wellbeing is concerned.

Once the senior is safe, it’s time to evaluate damages. If you haven’t already contacted an attorney, you might want to do so at this point. You know best what you and your loved(s) spent as a result of the abuse, but an attorney can make you aware of some costs that could be included in a lawsuit that you may not have thought to include.

In addition to the financial damages as a direct result of the abuse, whether it’s medical costs or reparations for stolen money or personal items, the costs of moving can also be included the damages incurred as a result of abuse. For example, if you had to hire movers to help your loved one move from one facility to another, and/or make a deposit with the new facility, those are all financial damages that should be included when you go to file your lawsuit.

You can also include pain and suffering as one of your damages when you file your complaint. That term covers all the intangible harm the abuse caused to your family and your loved one. Although you can’t put a price on trauma and emotional damage, you can file for compensation for pain and suffering by filing a civil lawsuit.

If you do decide to file a lawsuit and have yet to hire a good attorney with experience with elder law, now is the time to do so. Their first job will be to determine if you have a case. To sue for abuse, you need to be able to prove that the facility (or someone working for the facility) was either negligent or outright malicious in their treatment of your loved one. Without proof, you don’t have a case.

Once you have proof (or at least a solid foundation for a lawsuit in which proof might be obtained during the discovery portion of the case), your attorney will help you draft a complaint and make sure it goes through all the proper channels. You can either file a criminal or a civil lawsuit and your attorney can advise you as to which course of action would be best for your particular case.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CONTACT the Lieser Law Firm today for your FREE case evaluation.

Is it Too Late to Sue if I Signed a Waiver?

signed a waiverLife involves a certain amount of risk. You don’t have to be a thrill seeker to encounter the occasional dangerous situation, either voluntarily or involuntarily. For example, no one wants to have surgery, which is not only unpleasant, but always carries the risk that something might go wrong, even when handled by the most competent professionals.

In an effort to protect themselves from lawsuits, professionals in certain industries started requiring their customers to sign waivers acknowledging they knew there was a certain amount of risk involved. It’s a way for professionals to cover their butts and avoid spending time and money fighting lawsuits.

But the pendulum has started to swing the other way, with an increasing number of industries requiring their customers to sign waivers absolving them of all responsibility. Not only are some of these contracts ridiculous, but many of them won’t hold up in court.

Ideally, you should always read a contract thoroughly before you sign anything. Any time a contract absolves the other party of all responsibility, even if they were negligent in performing their duties, don’t sign it because that’s not legal. Just because they’re working in a risky profession is no reason for them to escape all accountability. You can either refuse to sign the contract, or modify it, crossing out the parts that absolve them from all responsibility in the event of negligence. Both parties need to initial next to any sections of a contract that have been added or crossed out in order to acknowledge that they both agree to the change.

If it’s too late and you’ve already signed a waiver that lets the other party off scot-free and then been injured, you may still be able to sue if your case meets certain conditions.

Negligence

In order to have a viable case for suing the other party, you need to be able to prove that they were negligent in fulfilling their end of the bargain. If you think they were negligent, but you don’t have any proof, an attorney will be unlikely to take your case.

Cost

Filing a lawsuit is expensive and no one does so lightly. If you’re lucky and the court rules in your favor, you might be able to recover damages to match what you paid for your medical care as a result of the negligence. In certain cases, you can also ask for damages for emotional pain and suffering, which, while more abstract, is a legal term that does hold weight in the courts and can be eligible for damage awards.

If your injuries were relatively minor and inexpensive to handle, the cost of filing the lawsuit might be more than the damages you’d be able to recover, even if you did win the case. In that case, you’d be better off not suing, even if you can prove negligence.

f you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CONTACT the Lieser Law Firm today for your FREE case evaluation.

What to Do If You’re Involved in A Hit And Run Accident

hit and runIf you’re involved in an accident and the other car takes off, known as a hit and run, it might be tempting to try to run after them – either in your vehicle, or on foot if you’ve already gotten out of your vehicle – but that’s never a good idea. If you leave the scene of an accident, you’re no better than they are and could be held responsible for fleeing the scene. By doing so, you also leave your vehicle and belongings at the mercy of passersby.

Get A Good Look At The Other Car

What you should do instead is try to get a good look at the car as it drives off and try to commit to memory as many identifying features as you can, including the make, model, and license plate number. Even if you can only remember part of the license plate number, that, combined with a description of the car, should be enough for the police to identify the driver, especially if the other vehicle was damaged badly enough that it needs to be taken to an auto repair shop.

For that reason, noting any damage done to the vehicle as a result of the hit-and-run accident is also a good idea. Even scrapes and minor damage from previous incidents, such as a dent in one door or a scrape on one side smeared with green can be used to help identify the driver after the incident. Also note which direction the vehicle was heading and relay that to the police when they arrive.

Stay at The Scene, But Out of The Way of Traffic

In the meantime, you should immediately take photos of the accident and the damage to your car. The police will probably take their own photos for the accident report when they get there, but your insurance agent might want photos, so be sure to get your own.

Once that’s done, make sure you stay at or near the scene of the accident. If your vehicle is blocking traffic and you are still able to drive it, move it off to the side of the road or a parking lot where you will be out of everyone’s way.

Call The Police

Call the police if someone has not done so already. Wait for them to arrive, then complete the accident report, including any details of the other vehicle you managed to catch. If there were any witnesses to the incident, ask them to provide statements to the police as well.

Call Your Insurance Agent

Finally, call your insurance agent as soon as possible to report the accident. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance will usually help pay for the damages your car suffered from the hit-and-run driver, depending on the state. In that case, your insurance coverage acts the same way it would if someone without insurance (or without enough insurance to cover the cost of the damages) hit your vehicle and was unable to pay the damages. In fact, many hit-and-run drivers flee the scene of an accident precisely because they don’t have insurance and they don’t want to get caught illegally driving without the proper vehicle insurance.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CONTACT the Lieser Law Firm today for your FREE case evaluation.

 

Signs of A Head Injury and What to Do

head injuryThe brain is one of our most vital organs, and because it affects literally everything we do, brain damage is nothing to take lightly. That’s why it’s critical to pay close attention to anyone who has recently suffered a blow to the head, or any type of head injury, since it could result in anything from a minor bump to major cognitive problems.

The Different Levels of Brain Trauma

Head injuries are generally classified as “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe,” and while symptoms for each may vary, many remain the same through all levels of injury. And no matter the severity, anyone with a head injury should always be examined by a medical professional as soon as possible. Even a mild case of brain trauma is still brain trauma and could have lasting consequences if not handled properly.

Some Immediate and Long-Term Effects

Immediate vs. long-term effects also need to be taken into consideration after a head injury. Immediate effects generally include things like confusion/disorientation, a headache, or nausea/vomiting. Long-term consequences can include a change in sleeping habits and/or mood, as well as memory problems or trouble concentrating. Even if someone does not exhibit any immediate symptoms of brain trauma after suffering a blow to the head, they may exhibit more serious symptoms a few days, or even weeks later, so it’s important to remain vigilant.

Moderate-to-severe brain trauma can include anything from a few minutes of lost consciousness, to an inability to wake from sleep, to coma. Convulsions or seizures, loss of balance or coordination, slurred speech, and unusual behavior are also all signs of moderate or severe brain trauma. Again, some of these symptoms may appear immediately after the incident, whereas others may take a significant amount of time before they make themselves evident, so always make a note of any blow to the head that may have occurred and have them see a medical professional as soon as possible.

Symptoms From Body Parts Other Than The Head

While many of us might think a head injury could only result in things like headaches or mood changes, it’s important to remember that brain trauma can affect the entire body. Not only are nausea and vomiting common symptoms, but numbness in the fingers or toes could be a sign of moderate-to-severe head trauma.

Your brain sends signals to and receives signals from all over the body, so depending on where the brain trauma occurred, it can result in odd or unusual sensations anywhere on the body. That’s why it’s so important to monitor all unusual sensations or behaviors that occur any time after experiencing a blow to the head. You never know what could be the result of a serious head injury, so monitor the victim and alert your doctor to any changes immediately.

Symptoms in Babies and Small Children

Because babies cannot tell us exactly how they feel or what hurts, it’s particularly important to watch out for and try to prevent blows to the head, especially since their skulls are soft and still developing. Any change in eating/nursing habits, sleeping habits, or mood or behavior could be a sign of brain trauma. Crying incessantly or displaying signs of irritability are also indications of a potential head injury in an infant.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CONTACT the Lieser Law Firm today for your FREE case evaluation.

How to Choose Motorcycle Insurance

motorcycle insuranceDon’t make the mistake of thinking your car insurance will cover your motorcycle unless your insurance plan specifically says so. Just like you need a special license to legally drive a motorcycle, you also need to make sure you have the right insurance to cover your motorcycle and anything that might happen to you or anyone else while you’re riding your motorcycle.

Types of Motorcycle Insurance

As with buying car insurance, the type of motorcycle insurance you’ll need will likely depend on you, your driving history (on vehicles with four wheels, as well as those with two wheels), the kind of motorcycle you have, and the area around which you’ll be driving the motorcycle. Vintage motorcycles may require special insurance, but most motorcycles can be covered by the right plan from almost any company that offers motorcycle insurance.

While all those factors will influence the premium your insurance agent will charge you, there are additional things you can do to lower your premiums, including taking a class on motorcycle safety, installing an alarm on your motorcycle, and storing the motorcycle in a secure garage when you’re not riding it.

Where to Buy Insurance

If you already have insurance on another vehicle, you’ll probably want to get insurance from the same company for your new motorcycle, since most insurance companies offer a multi-vehicle discount.

If this is your first vehicle, there are a few things to consider. The good news is there are a lot of insurance companies out there and all you need is internet access and a credit card to get coverage for your new motorcycle almost immediately.

Do Your Research

But not all insurance is created equal, so be sure to do your research before handing over payment in any form. And although no one wants to pay more than they have to, you always want to make sure you have all the coverage you need. Like car insurance, you can include things like liability, medical, comprehensive and collision, uninsured and underinsured motorist, roadside assistance, and full coverage insurance.

While some of these are additional coverage you can ask your insurance agent to include, some of them are required by law. For example, liability insurance (which covers any damage done to any people or property from your motorcycle) is required in every state.

Uninsured and underinsured insurance is often mandatory, in addition to just being a good idea. If someone else without insurance (or without enough insurance to cover the damages) damages you or your bike, your insurance will pick up the extra costs. This coverage is especially important for motorcyclists since any crash is likely to cause significant injuries.

Medical coverage is separate from liability coverage, but some states require motorcycle owners to have both. Even if your state does not require you to buy medical coverage in addition to liability coverage, it’s a good idea. Because motorcycle drivers are more exposed than car drivers, they’re more likely to suffer bodily harm and to suffer more extensive bodily harm than car drivers. Medical bills can add up very quickly and you don’t want to have to worry about going bankrupt in addition to healing and trying to get back to work.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CONTACT the Lieser Law Firm today for your FREE case evaluation.

I Was In an Auto Accident and The Other Person Doesn’t Want to Tell Our Insurance Agencies: What Should I Do?

auto accidentThere are a number of reasons a driver might not want to report an accident to the insurance companies. In some cases, the person might not have insurance at all and they don’t want that to get reported to the authorities.

Even those with insurance often hesitate to report accidents, especially if it was their fault, because they don’t want their insurance rates to go up. Most insurance companies jack up the rates for a driver after they’ve been in an accident, so depending on the extent of the damage, it might be in their best interests to pay for the damage out of their own pockets, rather than handing it over to the insurance companies.

If the damage is minor, there’s probably no harm in handling the costs yourselves, as long as you follow a few ground rules:

Contact the Police

Just because you’ve decided not to tell your insurance agencies does not necessarily mean it’s a good idea not to have an independent party record the incident. That way, the other party can’t come back later on and twist the truth in their favor.

Also, don’t talk about the details of the accident with anyone other than the other person/people involved, the police, and the insurance agencies if you decide to contact them. It’s their job to determine who was at fault and what the next steps should be, not yours.

Get a Receipt

If whoever caused the accident offers to pay for any repairs to the other car, that person needs to make sure they see a receipt from the repair shop before they hand over any money. Otherwise the other person could have all sorts of repairs and additions made to their car on someone else’s tab, or they might not spend any of the money on their car. Any time you hand over money, you need to be certain it’s being spent on what they say it’s being spent on.

If you’re the one who doesn’t want to contact the insurance agencies, but the other person won’t provide you with a receipt for the damage done to their car, then you’ll be better off contacting your insurance agency and letting them handle it.

Check Your Insurance Plan

Some insurance plans require you to let the company know any time anything happens that might result in a claim. It’s a way for insurance companies to reduce liability and make sure they don’t have to try to deal with claims that get filed months, or even years after the incident, by which time no one remembers the details of the accident very clearly and any evidence they might have been able to collect has likely been lost or destroyed.

Check your insurance papers after you’ve been in an accident to determine if this is the case for your plan. If it is, then you definitely want to go ahead and notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible, no matter what the other person says. Failing to do so could potentially result in you losing your insurance coverage.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CONTACT the Lieser Law Firm today for your FREE case evaluation.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

medical malpracticeMedical malpractice is defined as injury to a patient as a result of a healthcare professional’s negligence or omission. It could be anything from a misdiagnosis to mistakes made during treatment or health management.

In order to qualify as malpractice, there are three requirements that need to be met:

Violating the Standard of Care

Each medical profession adheres to certain standards of care, which determine things like which treatments are acceptable to administer. They are based on the kinds of treatments other competent health professionals would administer in similar situations. They determine the level of care patients can expect to receive, and if those standards are not met, the patient may have a case for negligence against their healthcare professional, but only if the next two qualifications have been met.

Injury Caused by Negligence

People seek out healthcare professionals to help them feel better, not worse. If a patient suffered an injury while in the care of a healthcare professional, they will need to prove the injury was a result of negligence. If they are simply unhappy with the level of care they received, that won’t necessarily be enough to sue for malpractice if they suffered no harm as a result of the care and/or the care they received met the standard of care.

Significant Damages as A Result of The Injury

Medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely costly to litigate. They generally require testimony from multiple expert witnesses, leading to countless hours of deposition and testimony, on top of attorneys’ fees and legal costs. If a patient wants to sue for medical malpractice, they need to first make sure their claims are large enough to justify the costs of bringing a medical malpractice suit to trial.

Common Examples of Malpractice

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis

Before our doctors can treat us, they first need to determine the cause of our suffering that brought us to them in the first place. There are a number of reasons a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can happen: if the patient did not provide a full list of symptoms; if some, but not all, of the symptoms become apparent; or if the diagnosis is something unusual the doctor would never have encountered before.

After all, doctors are only human and mistakes happen. But if the patient can prove the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis was the result of negligence, and the failure to provide immediate care resulted in significant damages, they may have a malpractice case.

Errors in Prescribing or Administering Medication

Many Americans these days expect to just take a pill to make them feel better. While drugs can do marvelous things these days, they must be treated with the utmost caution. Anything from prescribing the wrong drug (especially in cases of misdiagnosis) to giving the right drug to the wrong patient can have serious consequences. But the most common types of medical malpractice involve dosage, whether it’s a doctor prescribing the right drug but the wrong dose, or prescribing the right dose but a nurse administered the wrong dose to a patient. If it can be proven that the mistake was a result of negligence, there could be a valid case for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CONTACT the Lieser Law Firm today for your FREE case evaluation.

When Car Insurance May Not Cover What You Think It Does…

car insuranceWhen car insurance companies claim you could save a certain amount of money by switching to their plan, there are a few reasons not to do so, however tempting it may be. First of all, when they say you could save “up to” a certain amount, that means that’s the upper limit and few people, if anyone, actually save that much by switching.

Second, it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. While getting the minimum insurance your state legally requires you to buy might keep you from having to pay a fine, you’ll end up having to pay more if something happens to your car and your insurance doesn’t cover all the expenses. Here are some optional insurance policies that you should probably consider mandatory:

Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

This pays for the costs of any repairs that need to be done to your car after an accident. If the car has been totaled, your insurance company will pay you the amount the car was worth at the time of the accident.

Currently, no state requires drivers to buy collision and comprehensive coverage, but your lender might require it if you’re leasing or financing a car.

Gap Insurance

If you have collision and comprehensive coverage, you’ll get a check for the amount the car was worth at the time it was totaled. But if you were leasing or still paying off the car, that amount might be less than you still owe on the car due to depreciation and other factors.

Again, most states don’t require citizens to buy gap insurance, but most lenders will. They don’t want to be the ones left holding the bag if you can’t finish paying your loan after the insurance company has paid for the value of the car.

Custom Parts and Equipment

If you made any changes or additions to your car, such as custom seats or a new stereo, that won’t be covered by your insurance unless you specifically buy a customized parts and equipment policy, which many insurance companies do offer.

People Who Live With You But Are Not Listed On Your Insurance Plan

If you give someone who does not live with you permission to drive your car, they’re generally covered by your insurance. But anyone who lives with you must be listed on your insurance plan if they want to drive your car. Otherwise they may not be covered if anything happens while they’re at the wheel.

Business Uses

With the rise of ride-sharing services, such as Lyft and Uber, almost everyone has become a part-time taxi driver. But if you’re using your personal car for transporting goods (such as pizza delivery) and/or people (Uber), you’re going to need business insurance. If anything happens to your car while you’re using it for business purposes, the insurance company can refuse to pay for it. So if you’re earning some money on the side (or full time) by driving for a ride-share company, make sure you have the proper insurance.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CONTACT the Lieser Law Firm today for your FREE case evaluation.

How to Choose A Personal Injury Attorney

How to Choose A Personal Injury AttorneyWhether you’ve been injured or are accused of causing an injury to someone else, you’ll need an experienced personal injury attorney to represent your side of the story in court. But choosing the right attorney is not a task to be undertaken lightly. Not only will you probably end up spending a lot of money on their services, but you’ll also be working very closely with this person for an extended period of time, so you want to make sure you’re choosing a good partner. Here are some tips for doing that:

Do your research.

A quick Google search can give you an idea of the eligible attorneys in your area, but it won’t tell you everything (and watch out for the links at the top that say “Ad” right below them because those were paid for). If/when you do go this route, be sure to use the most keywords possible, because the more specific you get, the more likely you are to find someone who can help you.

Ask around.

Ask your friends, neighbors, coworkers, family members if they know of any good personal injury attorneys who can help you. A personal referral is always preferable to the internet, especially from someone who’s been through what you’re going through now.

Ask other attorneys.

You may not know a personal injury attorney, but you probably know at least one attorney and they might know a good personal injury attorney. The law is a unique practice and lawyers tend to get to know each other pretty well through work, networking, and other events. This will give you an inside scoop that asking friends and family can’t get you. Other attorneys will have a better idea of their record, what they’re like to work with, and how competent they are.

Narrow it down.

Make a list of your top choices, but try to keep it to a minimum. The longer your list, the more time it will take to conduct your follow up research on all of them before making your selection – and it is important for you to do your follow-up research on ALL of them. If you fall in love with the first one upon speaking with/meeting them, that’s great. You can always come back to them after you’ve spoken with the rest of the lawyers on your list.

Know ahead of time what you’ll be asking them.

When you meet with the attorneys, tell them about your case and be sure to have questions prepared to ask them about whether they think you have a case, and if so, how they would approach it, including how much they’ll listen to you when determining next steps in the case. It’s true you’re hiring an attorney because they know the law and practices better than you, but they’re supposed to be representing your best interests. They can advise you, but ultimately the decisions on how to proceed should be up to you. You are paying them, after all.

Payment.

Get an idea, not only of how much they charge, but how they charge. Do they charge hourly, or do they only take a percentage if they’re successful? If so, what’s their percentage? If they charge by the hour, what’s their hourly rate and what activities are considered billable? Don’t forget there will likely be other legal costs in addition to your attorney’s fees. Filing documents with the court, making copies, requesting documents, etc. all have fees associated with them, and while the attorney will probably pay them initially, those costs will end up on your bill, so make sure you’re prepared to pay them in addition to your attorney’s fees.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

CONTACT the Lieser Law Firm today for your FREE case evaluation.