Posts made in April, 2014

Establishing Mineral Rights

Posted By on Apr 3, 2014

If you have property in certain parts of the US that are known to yield profitable quantities of valuable minerals, oil, and natural gas, you may want to consider selling mineral rights. According to The Mineral Auction website, speculators are willing to buy these rights at good prices even if a property is non-producing in case it later yields the mother lode. Before you can do that, however, you need to do some digging around to establish whether you are the rightful owner of the mineral rights.

It is not enough to have ownership of the surface land. In the US, land owners can own the rights to anything that may be found under their property, but these rights can also be severed from the main land title. So just because you have a title to the land does not mean you own the mineral rights. You need to do what is called running a title, which is basically backtracking the history of your own title back to the original owner, much like tracing the lineage of a dog or horse.

The easiest and cheapest way to do this is to first check the land records lodged with the office of the county clerk, which is typically found in the vicinity of the courthouse. Checking the land records yourself is free although it can be difficult to search for the right tract or grantor/grantee index book, especially if you are not sure about the legal description. The index book will only tell you where these documents are, not the actual records themselves.

Your purpose for this is to establish a chain of title, which is a sequence of records documenting the transfers of ownership for your property, which should also include a record of the mineral rights at the time that it was severed from the surface title. Be on the lookout for any mention of mineral rights being reserved by the seller as this will signal a severance of the titles.

You may also need to check the records lodged with the court clerk for any stray record that is not in the county clerk’s office such as divorce decrees or mortgage agreements.  Even then, there may be gaps in the records, and this can be bad news if you are bent on selling mineral rights, because this can cast doubt on the clarity of your ownership.

You can hire an abstracting office to reconstruct the chain for you and provide you with a take-off list which you can then use to find the records themselves and make copies, but you will need to pay them for the service. You can also ask them to track down the actual records and make copies for you, but that will be even more expensive. However, it may be worth it in the long run as it is not at all easy to run title, and may take more time than you can afford.

Read More

Liability laws have certainly become tougher, especially in the construction industry where accidental injury is an occupational hazard. These laws are meant to protect the rights of all parties concerned. That includes protection of employers from liability for injuries which result from careless or reckless behavior of employees in the workplace as well as workers who suffer injury because of the negligence of employers. In general, the laws apportion assessed damages according to percentage of fault, such as Wisconsin (comparative negligence).

Labor Law 240, also known as the Scaffold Law, characterizes liability for an elevation-related (falling from height) construction accident in New York City in a unique way. The law states that the contractor who owns the policy for a particular construction project has “absolute liability.” This means the contractor or developer is responsible for any falling injuries that may happen on site, even if the injured worker was partly or wholly responsible for the accident that caused the injury. For example, if a worker neglects to use the safety harness required for working at height and falls, the contractor’s insurance will still pay for the medical bills and other costs to the worker. This effectively absolves the worker from any fault in the occurrence, and no defense may be mounted using the doctrine of comparative negligence.

Interested parties have been lobbying against the Scaffold Law, maintaining it makes the worksite more dangerous than it should be. Notwithstanding the pros and cons of the Scaffold Law, there is no question that contractors have been known to take shortcuts when it comes to ensuring safety in the worksite to save on costs. If you have been injured in a construction accident because of the negligence of the contractor, you may have an actionable case no matter what state you are in. Consult with a personal injury lawyer and find out your legal options.

Read More

Choosing a DUI Lawyer

Posted By on Apr 2, 2014

Just like with any job that needs to be professionally done, when you are facing a driving under the influence of intoxicants charge, you need to choose a lawyer practicing in the area with the experience and knowledge of DUI laws. It is also important that the DUI lawyer you choose has a good track record of success in mounting an effective defense leading to a dismissal of the charges.

DUI laws have become significantly stringent in most states, especially in states where drunk driving fatalities have earned it the dubious honor of leading the pack. It has spurred legislators to impose measures such as increasing the legal drinking age in the state to 21, and pressuring law enforcement to be especially vigilant in spotting potential threats to public safety. It has come to a point that even if a suspect tests negative for intoxicants in both breath and blood tests, it may still lead to an arrest if in the opinion of the police officer the driver may be impaired.

While this zealousness may be laudable, it can be taken too far. Navigating the justice system is not only complex, it is expensive, and the average citizen can find it overwhelming and stressful. If the DUI charges are unwarranted, or if there was an error made in the process, it would still take a competent DUI attorney such as Ian Inglis to unravel the mess with the least fuss and muss possible. While it is in the best interests of the defendant to get legal representation immediately, success will still depend on the quality of the lawyer. When choosing a criminal or DUI lawyer, go with one from an established law firm in the area that exhibits the aggressiveness needed to get the job done right.

Read More