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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What is a Structured Settlement in an Auto Accident Recovery?

As they relate to auto accident and personal injury recoveries, the main differences between a cash settlement and a structured settlement is the tax impact.   

The Tax impact.  Let us say, for example, you have been injured as a result of the negligence of another driver in an auto accident.  Your lawyer gets you $100,000.00 in damages.  If the money is coming from the insurance company for the other driver, you do NOT pay taxes on that sum.   
If you choose to invest that money and get paid out over time, the earnings on that money will be taxable.  
Now, if the award is in the form of a a structured settlement instead of the $100,000 cash, payments will be made to you over a period of time.  Each payment is fully tax free.  
Insurance companies like to pay out structured settlements, but you should discuss with your attorney whether a structured settlement is right for you;  it depends on your circumstances.
The setup.  You are generally talking about being paid out of an Annuity.  However, you do not own the Annuity -- if you did, the tax law would not be in your favor.   The Defendant insurance company will deposit the monies for structure with a life insurance company’s subsidiary called an “assignment company.”  This is who buys the Annuity and pays out the structured settlement. 
Because you don't own it, you don't pay taxes on it.  This can be especially beneficial to plaintiffs with families, with children in college, etc.
A final note:  be careful of the "Get your cash now" ads you hear on infomercials.  They generally involve factoring, not the annuity process.  The best course is decide initially whether you will take the cash up front or setup the structured settlement.
For more information, contact Anthony LoBiondo, a personal injury attorney with 23 years experience. www.LoBiondoLaw.com or anthony@lobiondolaw.com.  (845) 569-7600

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New York State Law on Seat Belts and Car Seats

"Seat belts save lives and help prevent serious injuries in a traffic crash. This is why New York State requires seat belt use by adults in motor vehicles. and seat belts. booster seats. or child safety seats for children.

New York is a "primary enforcement" state. A law enforcement officer can issue a traffic ticket just for failure to wear a seat belt. A ticket can be issued to the driver who fails to make sure a child passenger is properly secured in a safety seat or with a seat belt. This law also applies to visitors from outside New York State.

Highlights of New York State's occupant restraint law:
  • In the front seat, the driver and each passenger must wear a seat belt, one person per belt. The driver and front-seat passengers aged 16 or older can be fined up to $50 each for failure to buckle up.
  • Every occupant, regardless of age or seating position, of a motor vehicle being operated by the holder of a Class-DJ Learner Permit, a Limited Class-DJ, or Class-DJ Driver License must be restrained by a safety restraint.
  • Each passenger under age 16 must wear a seat belt or use an appropriate child safety restraint system. The restraint system must comply with the child height and weight recommendations determined by the manufacturer. Depending on the size of the child, the restraint system may be a safety seat or a booster seat used in combination with a lap and shoulder belt.
  • The driver must make sure that each passenger under age 16 obeys the law. The driver can be fined $25 to $100 and receive three driver license penalty points for each violation.
  • Seat belt use is not required in taxis or livery vehicles, emergency vehicles, 1964 or older vehicles, or by passengers in buses other than school buses (seat belt use may be required by the school district). Rural letter Carriers are also exempt while they are delivering mail.
Tip: Keep your seat belt tight but comfortable.
CHILDREN IN SEAT BELTS


Every child under age 16 in the vehicle must use a safety restraint. If under age four, he or she must be properly secured in a federally-approved child safety seat that is attached to a vehicle by a safety belt or universal child restraint anchorage (LATCH) system. A child under age four who weighs more than 40 pounds may be restrained in a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt. A child of age 4, 5, 6 or 7, must use a booster seat with lap and shoulder belt or a child safety seat (The child and safety restraint system must meet the height and weight recommendations of the restraint manufacturer.)
Exception: A child more than four feet nine inches tall or more than 100 pounds is allowed to use a seat belt that has both a lap belt and a shoulder harness. To use the seat belt, the child must be able to sit straight up against the vehicle's seat back with his or her knees bent comfortably over the edge of the seat. The lap belt should be placed low and tight across the upper thighs; the shoulder belt should rest tightly but comfortably across the child's chest and shoulder (collar bone) without touching the throat. If the seat belt does not fit properly, the child should use a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt.
A booster seat can be used only with a lap and shoulder belt together. If all the combination lap and shoulder belt positions in the vehicle are already occupied by children using child safety seats or booster seats, a child who ordinarily would use a booster seat should be restrained using only the lap belt.
An appropriate child safety restraint system:
  • Is required for all children until their 8th birthday and,
  • Must meet the size and weight requirements for the child based on the Federal requirements and the recommendations of the manufacturer, and
  • Can be a child safety seat, a harness, a vest or a booster seat attached with the vehicle seat belt or latch system, but not the vehicle seat belt alone, and
  • Should not be used in the front seat of the vehicle.
If the child is eight years old and is under 4'9" tall or weighs less than 100 lbs, it is recommended that you continue to use a child restraint system.
SEAT BELTS ON SCHOOL BUSES
New York State law requires that large school buses manufactured after July 1, 1987, be equipped with seat belts, and that schools make them accessible to each vehicle occupant. Every school bus driver is required to wear a seat belt, and children under the age of four must ride in properly installed, federally-certified child safety seats. Each school district sets its own policy for seat belt use by the other passengers.
SEAT BELTS IN SCHOOL VEHICLES
In a school vehicle which is not built to meet federal school bus construction standards, New York State Law requires that all children must ride in a properly installed, federally-certified child safety seat or booster until their 8th birthday. Vehicles of these types include school cars, vans, suburbans and SUVs.
WHY YOU NEED TO WEAR A SEAT BELT
A seat belt absorbs the force of impact in a traffic crash and reduces your risk of being killed or injured. It holds you securely to help prevent you from striking hard objects inside the vehicle while being tossed around. You are less likely to be thrown (ejected) through the vehicle's windshield or doors - and vehicle ejection usually results in death.
Your seat belt offers the most protection when you sit upright. Most seat belts easily adjust to allow some comfort and free movement until you need it for protection. To properly wear your seat belt, the lap belt portion should be tight but comfortable across your upper thighs at your hip joints and the shoulder belt should rest snugly across your chest and shoulder, away from your face or neck. Never place the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm. Improper use of a seat belt or shoulder belt can cause internal injuries in a crash.
PREGNANT WOMEN
If you are pregnant, your seat belt can help protect yourself and the baby you are expecting. Make sure the lap belt is low on your hips, under your abdomen, and the shoulder belt is resting closely and comfortably across your chest and shoulder.
Tip: During wintry conditions, you may have to loosen a heavy coat or lift it out of the way so it does not interfere with the proper adjustment of the seat belt.
MEDICAL EXEMPTION
For almost every medical problem or physical situation, wearing a seat belt increases your protection against death or serious injury. However, if a physical condition inhibits the proper use of a seat belt, you may be exempt from the seat belt law if your doctor certifies your condition and exemption in writing. Certification must be on the physicians letterhead and carried with you when you travel. For more information, see publication "Guidelines for Granting Medical Exemptions from Seat Belt Use" (C-58), available from the DMV Internet Office, by request from a DMV Call Center, and at any motor vehicle office.
AIR BAGS
An air bag provides extra protection against crash injuries. It works with seat belts, and does not replace them. An air bag helps protect a front-seat occupant in a head-on or side crash by inflating upon impact. This rapid inflation cushions the occupant from collision with the steering-wheel, dashboard, windshield, side windows, or metal doorframe.
Air bags deploy (expand rapidly) from the steering wheel and/or dashboard, and, in some vehicles, from the side doors beneath or above the window. The force of an air bag deploying may injure those who sit too close to it. Make sure to sit with at least 10 inches between the center of your breastbone and the air bag cover. If you are the vehicle's driver, place your hands on the steering- wheel at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions to keep them out of the way of air bag deployment. For maximum protection, children under the age of 12 should sit in the rear seat of the vehicle.
Tip: Never put an infant in a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an air bag on or in the dashboard."

SOURCE - NYS DMV.gov

For free consultations on DMV and other legal topics, contact Anthony LoBiondo, (845) 569-7600 or email him at Anthony@LoBiondoLaw.com

Thursday, January 16, 2014

NYC Agrees to $18 Million Settlement

New York, NY - New York City has agreed to pay $18 million to settle claims from over 1,800 arrests made "en masse" during the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Speakers at a press conference said the settlement gave teeth to their claim that the police had no right to arrest people without individualized probable cause.

Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the arrest of some 1,800 protestors, bystanders, legal observers and journalists was "one of the darkest moments in New York City protest history." 

Celeste Koeleveld, executive assistant corporation NYC's counsel for public safety, said 
"It was vitally important to defend the city in this litigation, and we are proud of the major victories we achieved." 
Under the $18 million settlement, which is pending approval by Southern District Judge Richard Sullivan , each plaintiff will receive about $6,400, according to the city law department. Plaintiffs lawyers' fees will comprise $7.6 million of the total settlement.
The city had paid outside law firms more than $16 million to vigorously defend the 430 lawsuits against it. The settlement will extinguish the claims of more than 1,600 plaintiffs who were arrested during the related demonstrations, the Law Department said in a release.
Submitted by: Anthony LoBiondo, Esq.
www.LoBiondoLaw.com
Anthony@LoBiondoLaw.com
(845) 569-7600

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Do I have to pay Taxes on my Personal Injury Settlement?

One of the greatest parts of being a personal injury attorney is handing my client the check after the case is over, either due to settlement or after T
rial.  Whether the check is in the thousands of the Hundreds of Thousands, one of the most important questions that comes up is:  "Do I have to pay taxes on this?"

The answer is based upon the different components of the proceeds.  There is no tax due on any  portion of the settlement due to pain and suffering, incidentals, or medical expenses.  However, the portion of a settlement which represents lost wages is taxable.

After a trial, there is a written decision which will tell you what portion is attributable to lost wages.

However, that is not generally the case after a settlement out of court.  Most of the time, a General Release does not state what portion of the settlement represents lost wages.  It may be that the IRS can make a determination as to the amount of taxes owed from the settlement.  Talk this issue over with your attorney.

Prepared by Anthony LoBiondo
Anthony@LoBiondoLaw.com
www.LoBiondoLaw.com

Call for a free consultation at (845) 569-7600

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Basics of "No Fault Law" in NYS after an Auto Accident

Call 845-569-7600 for a free consultation with an Attorney

Let's start with the basics.  First, what is "No Fault Law" in New York State?  
This statute was enacted to ensure that insurance companies would pay for expenses incurred after an auto accident, from medical expenses, to lost earnings to "incidentals," without getting into who was "at fault."   
Where does this No Fault Coverage come from?
If you are involved in a collision involving a vehicle, in New York State, and you are injured, the No-Fault statute will kick in.  The No Fault insurance coverage you receive will either be from the vehicle the injured party was operating in, was a passenger in; or another vehicle which the injured party was injured/ hit by or had contact with.  
How does this affect my lawsuit for personal injury damages? 
These are two separate matters.  If you suffered a personal injury to your body, as a result of a vehicle collision, due to the negligence of another, you may be entitled to damages for the injury, your pain and suffering, loss of future wages and the like.   No Fault coverage is separate and different from a personal injury claim / lawsuit.
No-Fault is there to ensure that, regardless of fault, an insurance company will pay up a minimum of $50,000.00 for the economic losses, such as medical expenses, resulting from the vehicle accident.  Medical expenses includes emergency care, medical and doctor bills, prescription expenses, diagnostic tests, such as x-rays and MRI’s; and to some extent items such as physical therapy; and may include wages lost as a result of the accident.  Any ADDITIONAL claims, such as pain and suffering or future lost wages should be pursued by an attorney in the form of a separate and distinct lawsuit.   
New York No-Fault Law applies to any cyclist, pedestrian, passengers, or driver injured by a motor vehicle in New York. The conditions that must be met to qualify for No-Fault coverage:
  • The accident occurred in New York.
  • The injured party was the driver or passenger of the insured vehicle or a cyclist or pedestrian struck by or in contact with the motor vehicle.
  • The vehicle must be a car, truck, bus, taxi (not a motorcycle) or other vehicle covered by New York No-Fault law.
  • The vehicle is registered in New York.
  • The vehicle has an insurance policy sold in New York or issued by a company licensed to do business in the State of New York.

What is the Procedure to file for No-Fault?
Typically, you may obtain the no-fault application form from the insurance carrier of the car that struck you, you came into contact with, that you were driving or in which you were a passenger.
Can I get No Fault Coverage from my OWN Insurance Company?  What is PIP?
Many people don't realize that they get no fault coverage from their OWN insurance company, unless you were injured as a pedestrian or cyclist.   In these instances, you may request or send the No Fault application to your insurance company as well. You may have benefits under your policy such as excess PIP (additional no-fault coverage above $50,000). The application can be requested by phone but it is recommended to also request it by mail, certified return receipt requested.
How long do I have?
Be aware that you have only 30 days from the date of the incident to file the No Fault application. If you get nothing else from this Blog, do remember to act quickly, don't delay for the variety of reasons that people have.  Remember that the act of filing the application does not obligate you to start a claim.  You can always change your mind.  
OK, I filed, now what? 
Once your No Fault claim is filed, you should receive a no-fault claim number. Open up a "file" for yourself and keep in it the Claim number, the name and contact information for the insurance company and the adjuster assigned.   
No Fault coverage is not a lifetime endeavor. The insurance company will want you to be removed from their coverage sooner rather than later.  You may expect to be examined by a physician or medical specialists to determine in his or her opinion whether you need additional treatment or your treatment and no-fault benefits should be terminated. This doctor hired by the insurance company will also decide whether you are still disabled or can return to work. 
Prepared by Anthony LoBiondo, Esq.
For more information or a free consultation involving this topic or if you have been injured in an auto or other collision, protect your rights by contacting him immediately for a free consultation.  If you are  injured and unable to move, you may have someone come to you at the hospital or rehab center.  Call (845) 569-7600 office or (845) 742-7133 cell phone.  Email is anthony@lobiondolaw.com
www.LoBiondoLaw.com