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7 Auto Accident Legal Tips

Auto accidents come in many forms, from minor fender benders to catastrophic multi-car pileups. No matter what type of accident you are in, regardless of who is at fault, it is important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities. After an accident you may be forced to deal with medical issues, insurance claims, lawsuits and even potential criminal charges. Your LegalShield provider law firm can help you understand your rights and legal options. If you are in an accident call your provider firm right away.

  1. Safety First - Pull safely to the side of the road and out of the traffic lanes, if possible.  If you cannot do so or you feel it is dangerous to move your vehicle, carefully exit your vehicle and move yourself to a safe location away from traffic until help arrives.
  2. Police - Even if your accident seems minor, call the police and file an accident report. Do not admit guilt or responsibility for the accident to the police or other persons. Some individuals who are shaken up after an accident become overly apologetic while others may become angry and combative.  It is important to remain calm and let the police do their job.
  3. Hit and Run – Never chase a hit and run driver. A chase could put you and other drivers in harms way. If you can only remember one piece of information make it the other driver’s license plate number. Knowing the make, model and color of the car will also be helpful. Call the police. Even if you have very little information about the other driver, a police report will be necessary for any insurance claim or legal action.
  4. Information - Exchange information with the driver of the other car or cars. Gather names, phone numbers, addresses and insurance information. If there are witnesses on the scene take down their contact information as well. Witnesses may be particularly helpful in identifying hit and run drivers or understanding the full picture of a major accident. Use your smart phone to take pictures of the accident scene and any property damage.
  5. Documents - Organize all documents regarding your accident and keep them together. Important documents include the police report, the other driver’s information, insurance documents, medical papers, repair estimates or bills associated with the accident. Keeping your documentation organized will help you and your attorney accurately review your matter and calculate expenses.
  6. Injury – If you or a loved one is injured in an accident it is extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Those who are seriously injured are often unable to gather evidence at the scene. An attorney can help explain the process and help make sure vital information is gathered and preserved as evidence.
  7. Settlement Agreements - It may be tempting to take a settlement to pay for repairs, a replacement vehicle or medical bills, but it is important to make sure the settlement is fair and that it truly compensates you for the long-term consequences of the accident. An attorney can help you consider all of the potential costs and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. Do not sign any documents or agree to any type of settlement without calling your LegalShield provider law firm to speak with an attorney.

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MyLegalShield Smart Phone Update

You asked and we delivered! We're taking your feedback and constantly working to improve the experience and content for the MyLegalShield mobile member app.

Haven't downloaded the MyLegalShield member app yet? From your smart phone, go to the App Store or Google Play and search for "MyLegalShield" then download it today!


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What You Need to Know About Protective Orders

A protective order, also known as a restraining order (peace bond in Canada), is a court order used to protect an individual, family or entity from threats, assault, domestic violence, harassment or stalking. The criteria for obtaining a protective order and the court’s ability to enforce it vary based on the issuing state or province. If you believe you need a protective order or have been threatened with a protective order it is vital to speak with an attorney right away. Call your LegalShield provider law firm to learn more about the laws where you live.

The process of obtaining an order of protection generally begins by filing forms with the court. It is important to make sure the correct forms are filled out properly and filed with the correct court clerk. In some situations you may request an emergency protective order or (EPO) sometimes known as an ex parte order. An emergency protective order grants a temporary order in advance of a court hearing.

Emergency protective orders are only temporary and ultimately you will have to face the other party in court. Once you are granted a hearing you must prove the other party is a threat. The rules of evidence vary greatly by state or province, so it is important to have an attorney to help you compile the evidence required to prove the other party is a threat. Providing police reports, medical records, pictures of injuries, copies of threatening letters, voice mails or any other information that supports your claim will aid your case greatly.

If you are a defendant in a hearing you also need legal guidance to explain your rights. Some feel that the burden of proof in many courts is too low which leads to unwarranted protective orders. There are cases where divorcing spouses have used protective orders to gain an advantage in a divorce or child custody battle. If you are involved in a divorce or child custody battle and are threatened with a protective order, contact your divorce lawyer right away.

Protective orders are generally issued in civil court as opposed to criminal court, which means the party restrained by the order has not been convicted of a crime. The court can set specific limits on the distance the individual can be from the protected party, limit visitation with children, order protective supervision of any necessary interaction between the two parties or set other rules it feels are necessary to the safety of the individual protected by the order. Failing to follow the court’s orders means the party is in contempt of court and can lead to serious criminal charges.

If you need information on the rules pertaining to protective orders where you live call your LegalShield provider law firm and speak with an attorney.

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    What You Need to Know About
    Wage Garnishment

    Wage garnishment is the withholding of wages to pay a debt. In many cases a wage garnishment is made by court order. If your wages are garnished or you are threatened with wage garnishment it is important to understand your rights and your legal options. The following information provides a general overview of wage garnishment. If you need assistance call your LegalShield provider law firm and speak with an attorney who is familiar with the laws where you live.

    In the United States the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) limits the amount that may be garnished. A creditor may garnish up to 25% of an employee’s disposable earnings or disposable earnings greater than 30 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour). Disposable earnings are defined as the amount left after legally required deductions for taxes, unemployment insurance and social security. Payroll deductions for health insurance, life insurance, retirement or savings are not included.

    The CCPA protects employees from being fired for garnishment of any one debt. Be advised creditors can garnish earnings for the same debt multiple times, which would be protected under the federal law. The CCPA does not protect employees from termination if they have multiple garnishments for different debts, even if they are from the same creditor. Read more about the CCPA by downloading the U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet.

    In Canada wage garnishment is regulated by province or territory. The following links have information on wage garnishment in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba. If you live or work in another territory or need any additional information contact your LegalShield provider law firm.

    U.S. State Laws regarding wage garnishment vary greatly. In Texas, creditors cannot garnish wages, with the exception of unpaid taxes, student loan default, alimony or child support. In Virginia, creditors can obtain a court judgment to garnish wages up to 25% of disposable earnings or 40 times the federal hourly minimum wage. It is important to talk to an attorney in your state to determine which laws apply to you and your debt.

    You may be exempt from garnishment. State or provincial law may exempt some individuals from wage garnishment. It is important to speak with your LegalShield provider attorney to find out the criteria in your state or province and the process to file for an exemption.

    In most cases government benefits cannot be garnished. The primary exception is garnishment for back taxes or default on government backed student loans. If you owe back taxes or have defaulted on student loans it is vital that you come up with a plan for repayment before garnishment begins.

    Your LegalShield provider law firm can help you consider your options. In some cases it may be possible to negotiate debt settlement agreements or work with creditors before wage garnishment. If you are facing multiple garnishments or you are unable to manage your debt you may need to consider bankruptcy. Your attorney can guide you through the pros and cons of your options and help you determine the best course of action. Call and speak with your LegalShield provider law firm today.

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