Posts by Edgar

An Overview of LHWCA

Posted By on Sep 25, 2014

Maritime workers are not eligible for workers’ compensation for work-related injuries such as regular employees are under state or federal law. Instead they are covered by a special federal provision called The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) which was originally enacted in 1927 to cover dock workers and longshoremen. It was only in 1972 that the LHWCA was expanded to include maritime workers that are not covered under The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, as well as civilians working on all US military bases as provided for by the Defense Base Act.

The LHWCA is generally more generous in terms of benefits than those accorded to employees covered by state-mandated workers’ compensation. The LHWCA, for instance, provides permanent partial disability payments while state workers’ compensation does not. Another difference is that the total temporary disability is equivalent to 67% of the maritime worker’s weekly wage while regular workers are paid just 60% of their average weekly wages under the workers’ compensation insurance. One thing they have in common is both are no-fault coverage as long as the injury or illness is work-related.

With these advantages, it is understandable that an injured worker would rather be covered under LHWCA than state workers’ compensation insurance, but the LHWCA only covers employees that spend a significant portion of the working day doing maritime or water transport-related work in an area that is on or near navigable waters. This excludes employees employed in the maritime industry but the nature of the work is exclusively secretarial or office work.

Other maritime industry employees excluded from the LHWCA are:

  • Builders and their employees of ships less than 65 feet long
  • Marina employees not engaged in replacement, construction, or expansion of the marina save for those in maintenance
  • Recreational boat mechanics and repairmen
  • Fish and related farming employees
  • Employees covered under the Jones Act

If you satisfy the requirements for coverage under LHWCA and you sustain a work-related injury or illness, you may be eligible for LHWCA benefits. Consult with a maritime lawyer to find out your rights.

Read More

It’s no joke that the right lawyer makes all the difference. You have to weigh your case and your options, and you have to know how to find the right attorney for your needs. Consider the following helpful advice concerning knowing what to look for in an attorney and how to secure the right one.

A good tip to remember when looking to hire a lawyer is to make sure you find a lawyer that has the necessary experience that you’re looking for. If you’re going to court soon for a criminal case, it wouldn’t make sense to bring on a divorce lawyer, you’ll need a criminal lawyer.

Do not hire a lawyer without doing some background research. Look their name up on the Internet and talk to friends or relatives who might know the lawyer you are interested in. It is always in your best interest to choose a lawyer with an excellent reputation and good ethics.

Be sure you know about the reputation of a lawyer before you hire that lawyer. Check with your local bar association, and read online reviews of lawyers. These can help you decide whether or not a particular lawyer is someone you can trust. You will save yourself a lot of money, aggravation and time, down the road.

A good tip to keep in mind if you’re thinking about working with a lawyer is to give them as much information as you can. The more documents and information they have that pertains to a case, the better your chances are of winning. If you think a document might be worthless, you lawyer might think otherwise.

It’s important that you remember what you’ve read here as you go about the selection process. A good attorney isn’t hard to find, but he or she is not just going to jump out at you. You have to know what you’re looking for, and hopefully you now feel like you do.

Read More

The Advantages of Being a Writer

Posted By on May 9, 2014

It is undeniable that most parents worry about their children who want to go into the creative arts, because it is a chancy business. The probability that one will be successful in the world of acting, music, or fine arts is very small unless one is incredibly talented or incredibly lucky.

Writers are perhaps a little apart from creative artists in this respect, perhaps because writing has a practical side to it. After all, information is power, and the best way to communicate information is through the written word.

Professional writers have it pretty much made. They can get into any type of writing from grant proposals to scripts using the same basic tools: good grammar, wide vocabulary, good organizational skills, and the urge to put ideas into words. While writing is considered an art, there is no real need for a writer per se to be passionate. Putting words to paper (or word processor) is essentially a mechanical act, so you can write about anything even if you have no personal stake in it. Why is this good? It is exhausting to be always in alt, which is probably why a lot of artists die young. Writers tend to be more hardy and down to earth than other artists.

Writers can also keep going until they die, or go senile. Because the work is mostly cerebral, as long as they can lift a pen or type on a keyboard, they can write.

Of course, not all writers make it into the big leagues; a vast majority of them remain anonymous. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Writers seldom starve because there is always work available, even if it is just ghostwriting, and they get to do what they like every time.

Read More

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