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What The Graves Amendment Is And How It Might Affect You

Rental cars are a great convenience for people who are traveling or need transportation when their own vehicle is out of commission. With borrowing anyone’s car, even a rental car, comes the same responsibility and liability as driving your own vehicle. Until 2005, if you were driving a rental car and either hit a person or another car, then the rental agency could be sued for any resulting damages or injuries.

Before 2005, rental car companies were held liable for the actions of their customers through “vicarious liability.” Vicarious liability means that if you are the owner of the vehicle – even if you aren’t the one who is involved in the accident – you can still be held liable. Although vicarious liability is still used in accidents where people lend their cars to others, rental agencies are no longer held to it.

In 2005, there was a change to how rental companies could be held liable when someone rented their vehicles. The Graves Amendment was enacted to protect rental agencies from being sued. This law eliminated rental companies from being liable for any accident that resulted from their vehicles.

What is the Graves Amendment

What is the Graves Amendment?

The Graves Amendment was initiated in 2005 as a federal highway bill, specifically created to protect rental agencies from being liable for either property damages or injuries caused by their clients. The only way that a rental car company can currently be held liable is if there is negligence on the company’s part that led to the accident. There are two conditions under which the Graves Amendment is applied:

  • The owner or operator of the rental company’s sole purpose is to rent or lease motor vehicles to clients for money
  • There is no sign that negligence on the part of the rental car owner is to blame for the accident (i.e., car damage or defect to the automobile or vehicle)

Most rental cars cross state lines frequently, so they are considered under the jurisdiction of interstate commerce. Therefore, the Graves Amendment is a federal law that trumps any individual state’s law of liability. It can also be used as a defense of liability in cases of trailers, trucks, and tractors, making them exempt from the laws of vicarious liability. In the past, it has also been extended to cover ride-sharing companies like Zipcar. There is still a gray area when it comes to dealerships and auto dealers who rent out cars or allow drivers to “test drive.”

Why was the Graves Amendment passed?

The Graves Amendment was initiated because many states didn’t have an exception for rental cars, so they used vicarious liability in rental accidents. That put rental car companies at a great disadvantage, and in many states, it made them unable to operate at all without risking huge costs. It was estimated that in New York alone, prior to the Graves law being passed, that an additional $100 million was being passed down to the consumers who rented cars, making it way too expensive for many populations.

What does the Graves Law mean for you?

If you are going to rent a car, then it is important for you to know what your own car insurance policy is regarding rental cars. If you aren’t sure what your insurance will cover, then it is a good idea to take out the supplemental insurance that rental car companies offer.  When you rent a vehicle, in most instances, you will be held liable if you are at fault, and therefore you are responsible for any resulting property damage or injuries.

 

If the injuries or property damage were a result of the car’s malfunction or poor maintenance, then it is important for you to document it and make sure that you have the proof so that you aren’t left liable for something that isn’t your fault. Contact a car accident attorney Houston to get advice and potential representation if things get complicated with your claim. To be sure, if you are going to rent a car, know what your liability is and make sure that you aren’t leaving yourself vulnerable by not being properly insured.

What to Do If You Are a Victim of Fraud

While it would be great to think that identify theft and fraud are something the nation has been cracking down on, the fact is that fraud ended up costing consumers over $16 billion last year, which is $1 billion more than the year before. Fraud is no longer something we can push out of our minds and assume will never touch as, as it seems to be occurring at an alarming rate.

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There is plenty that government, law enforcement, and financial institutions can do to better the situation, but none of that helps in the moment that you realize you have been a victim of fraud. So, what should you do in this unfortunate circumstance? Here are the steps you’ll want to take.

Understand There Are Many Types of Fraud

The word “fraud” is pretty broad and in legal terms it blankets many different offenses. There can be bank, business, insider trading, bankruptcy, identity theft, credit card, insurance, mail and wire, internet, telemarketing, mortgage/real estate, and workers compensation fraud.

Contact the Police

The first step you will want to take if you are a victim of fraud is to contact the police and file a report. You may need to bring bank records, receipts, emails, etc. This official report will also be needed by other agencies as they work to address the issue.

Contact an Attorney

The next step should be to contact an attorney. Unfortunately, these cases tend to be quite complex, so going about them on your own isn’t advisable.

If you live in the state of Florida then you are much more likely to be a victim of fraud. This is because South Florida has been designated as the organized fraud capital of the whole country. You would want to get in contact with a Florida criminal defender the moment you suspect you are victim of fraud, to ensure that your interests are looked after.

Once you have contacted an attorney they will collect all the facts and information from you, go over your rights and options, and then discuss the possible outcomes you’d be looking at. Choosing an attorney defending clients in similar cases is paramount since they will understand the law and process better than anyone.

Contact Your Credit Card Companies and Your Bank

You will want to be sure that your bank and credit card companies are alerted right away. They can put a fraud alert right on your credit file which will protect you. It may also be wise to freeze your bank account and credit cards until you can get things sorted out. These are steps that your attorney may also be able to advise you on.

A Stressful Situation

Learning you are the victim of fraud can be a very stressful situation for people. There are many steps to take, factors to consider, and there is usually a lot of work on your part. Making sure you follow these steps will help ensure that the fraud is caught, dealt with, and you aren’t left on the hook.

With So Many Choices, How To Choose The Best Law Firms

Before the internet came along, attorneys pretty much dominated their locale by their own design. Having a good reputation was about all that a legal team needed to find and retain customers. With the advent of the internet and the increase in law firms around the Tampa area, it is hard to know which firm is the right one to build your offense or defense. It isn’t just about advertising, branding, and reputation; finding the right lawyer is about taking all things into consideration, including more than just price and availability.

How To Choose The Best Law Firms

There are times when you may have to hire an accident attorney Tampa, based on your budgetary constraints, but remember that hiring a Tampa law firm is just like hiring any other service. You should look around and do your research, talk with several law firms, and find the best one to build your case. Unfortunately, when you are involved in a lawsuit or a criminal case, it may feel as if you have no time to look around. But that is exactly what will help you the most in the end.

Your first step is to find a firm who specializes in the type of law that you need. For instance, if you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, find a firm who has a good reputation and the most experience in personal injury. That might take some investigation, but it will be well worth it. Once you have narrowed it down to a couple of firms in the Tampa area, call around to schedule interviews with potential lawyers so that you can sit down and really talk to them before making a decision.

During the initial consultation the questions you should ask are:

  • What experience do they have with the type of law you need help with?
  • How long do they have experience in the type of law? (not just how long have they been practicing)
  • What is their percentage of success?
  • How many cases do they handle at once?
  • How do they bill and are there any additional fees?
  • Can I contact former clients to ask about their experience?
  • Are they willing to put a contract in writing?
  • How communicative are they with their clients about updates?

Just because someone charges a lot doesn’t necessarily mean that they are worth the money. If they don’t spend much time with their clients or don’t have the experience in the appropriate field of law, then they aren’t the right ones to defend you or to sue on your behalf.

Ask local lawyers

To know how good an attorney is, ask other attorneys in your area. Local lawyers are sometimes your best referrals. Since they talk amongst themselves, they will know which lawyers have a good track record and which ones don’t. They can also give you information about what the lawyer is all about and who they are.

Check the lawyer’s background

Do a background check, which involves making sure they have the proper licensure and certification by the state. It is also important to ensure that they don’t have any disciplinary actions against them. Check all their supplied references, and also look on the internet to see if there are any reviews online. Be careful when reading online reviews, however. Sometimes they are nothing more than paid advertising in disguise.

Walk around the office

Tour their office and spend some time getting a feel for the type of lawyer they are. The organization of the office is integral to how the lawyers within it operate. Being on the same page and able to get along is important. In some instances, you might be spending a lot of time together, so making sure that you have a good rapport is very important.

When you are involved in a legal matter, sometimes you might feel like time is of the essence, and it very well might be. But taking the proper amount of time to investigate your attorney is the best way to protect your interests. Try to calm down, think rationally, and take all the steps necessary to find the best law firm in Tampa to make things go as smoothly as they can.

Rene Lima-Marin Pardoned But Still Remains In ICE Custody In Colorado

Although he was pardoned by Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper last week, Rene Lima-Marin is still not a free man. A man convicted of armed robbery won the favor of immigrant politicians and groups by changing his life around once he was released from prison in error.  Hickenlooper called the case, an extraordinary one and one that deserved special circumstances.

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Lima-Marin committed some very serious criminal offenses when he was younger, and the governor pardoned him because he believes that Lima-Marin has shown that he deserves a second chance. Hickenlooper maintains that Lima-Marin has already served his time and been punished adequately for his crimes; the prison system apparently did its job in rehabilitating him and returning him to prison would not show justice to the public or to Lima-Marin.

Even though the pardon has been made, Lima-Marin has not been released from prison. Because he is an immigrant, ICE agents — the Immigration and Customs Enforcement — quickly took him in their custody a couple of days following the pardon and stated that they have jurisdiction over him, regardless of the pardon.

Lima-Marin’s immigration lawyer is hoping to change the situation. Insisting that the fight is not over, attorney Hans Meyer believes that he can work to stop Lima-Marin’s deportation and get him reunited once again with his family. The hope is that ICE will work with Meyer to reach an agreement to reconsider his case and to restore the permanent status that he had. Instead of being deported, it is possible that he could end up with an order of supervision, which would require that he report to the ICE on a regular basis but could remain on American soil.

Lima-Marin is married and has two kids. He immigrated to the US as a one-year-old and was part of the Mariel boatlift. In 1998, he was convicted of armed robbery in two video stores. In 2008, he was released by mistake due to an error in his paperwork. The documents said that he was to serve the time concurrently, when he was actually supposed to serve it consecutively. He would not have been caught if he had not been rearrested in 2014 when authorities realized they had made a mistake.

In the six years that he was out of prison, he got his life together. He got a job, found a woman to settle down with, began a family, and saved enough money to buy his first home. He was one of the few criminal offenders released from prison who turned his life around and vowed to make something of himself. Even with a criminal record, he worked his way up the ladder and was a productive member of society. That is unusual in today’s penal society where recidivism is not an exception, but often the norm.

In a 165-page report decision that was issued last week, the judge who released him from prison was compelled to allow Lima-Marin to go free without serving out the rest of his sentence. The judge and Colorado immigration attorney argued that the ultimate goal of rehabilitating people is why the prison system exists. It was created so that a prisoner can be returned to society. What Lima-Marin proved was that he had been rehabilitated. If it were not discovered that a mistake had been made in his paperwork, he would still be living as an asset to the community and his family.

Although it was a serious crime, during his robbery spree no one was physically injured, and the sentencing was a bit harsh for such a young offender.

If there has ever been a case for redemption and a second chance, Mr. Lima-Marin is it. Given a second opportunity to make it right, he quickly went to work after his erroneous release to turn his life around, and he should be rewarded for it — not punished. Although being a convicted criminal offender means that he should legally be deported, in this instance that doesn’t seem like an equitable way to deal with a success story.

Although he was pardoned by the governor, the issue of whether Lima-Marin can stay in America and reunite with his family rests in ICE’s hands. However, if they want to teach those who are in the penal system a lesson, punishing someone who has turned their life around and done the right thing is probably not the way to do it.

Factors to Consider Before Implementing PPC Management for Attorneys

The law industry is one of the most complex, maybe due to the nature of work involved. That notwithstanding, clients are always looking for competent and professional attorneys to handle various aspects of their legal proceedings or even for advice. And when prospective customers are shopping for the best lawyers in town, one of the first things they do is visit a search engine. This means that there is a lot of online traffic looking for legal services.

The best law firms have appreciated the value SEO in converting digital searchers into probable legal customers. One of the best strategies that any law firm could adopt is PPC management for lawyers. Pay per click campaigns can be so effective in internet marketing, if only they are done right.

Be that as it may, the process of creating and optimizing PPC campaigns is painstaking and overwhelming. It calls for intensive and extensive research on the marketer. A quality PPC campaign must always begin researching and analyzing keywords. It is recommended that clients ask their digital marketing service providers about the tools they are going to use for advanced keyword generation and competitive analysis.

If you have made up your mind that PPC management for lawyers is one of the online marketing tools your website requires, it is best that you get things right from the start. For instance, you need to understand that keywords associated with lawyers and attorneys are among the most costly on Google AdWords. If you are going to pay for these keywords, it is critical to make sure that the keywords will provide desired results.

As a golden rule for implementing a pay per click campaign, customers must first consider their budget alongside the projected returns on investment. This is because when it comes to PPC management for lawyers, one has to pay in order to get the desired results. Research has shown for instance, that some keyword terms such as ‘criminal defense attorney’ can cost at least $30,000 per month.

Being evident that PPC campaigns are highly competitive and expensive, you may first want to determine whether pay per click is the best marketing strategy for your law firm. Be sure that PPC is making sense from your business perspective. Take for example that you are working on a daily budget of one thousand dollars. If the average cost of every click is $50, it means only getting 20 clicks. This may not give you your projected ROI.

In essence, while PPC is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies, it is recommended to consider business strategy, objectives and budget before making your final choice.