Ask The Attorney

November 6, 2023

By Thomas McCutcheon

Appliance Warranties

We have all heard the horror stories of building new houses or remodeling existing homes.  With that being said, I have been remodeling my home.  It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but it hasn’t been terrible.  I’ve had some snags with my appliances which leads me to this week’s article.  

Most appliances come with a manufacturer’s warranty that typically lasts for a specific time frame, such as one year or longer.  These warranties typically cover the cost of parts and labor necessary to repair defects that occur under normal use and conditions.  

The coverage provided by appliance warranties varies depending on the manufacturer and the specific terms of the warranty.  Generally, warranties cover defects in materials or workmanship that affect the performance of the appliance.  Warranties do not cover the natural wear and tear that occurs with the regular use of an appliance, such as a light bulb.   

Trying to fix it yourself can void the warranty.  You should rely on authorized service centers or technicians approved by the manufacturer to ensure the warranty remains valid.  Most repair services will advertise if they can service appliances under warranty.  I like to do business where the seller can do the service.  

Reach out to the manufacturer’s customer service or the authorized service center to report the problem, confirm in writing and keep the letter or email.  Provide them with detailed information about the issue, such as the symptoms and any error codes.  

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Depending on the warranty terms, the manufacturer may send a technician to inspect and repair the appliance or direct you to an unauthorized service center.  

Always document each communication, including date, name of customer service representative, and any service reports or invoices.  Written records can be valuable in case of a dispute or further issues and can prove notice of an issue during the warranty period. This can also extend the warranty period.  That hurt their case unnecessarily. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer

Proper Planning Prevents Problems

That’s what my Dad said and my Dad was right. One issue that we have seen repeated for over 30 years needs to be addressed and that is property or assets held by financial institutions.  

Certainly, a Will reflects the final wishes of a person made when they were living.  It’s easy to think in terms of dividing property between spouses and children.  Things become a little more complicated when we want to give a specific gift such as a ring but again that’s really not difficult.  We all know and agree that a Will saves your family a lot of money and a lot of time.  A Will makes things easy.  

What people don’t generally realize is that many different types of assets are not controlled by the terms of a Will.  

If you want all of your monetary assets to be divided equally between your children and you put that in your Will that’s fine.  What happens in real life is that a parent will put one child on the account and the account will say that the survivor gets the account.  The people at the bank don’t explain that to you but it’s always in the fine print because they will not be drug into an argument about whose money it is.  The fact is you’ve really given the money in that account to the one child on the account.  Most of the time children know the intent of their parents and do the right thing, but when they don’t, it causes hard feelings.  

Life Insurance policies will have a beneficiary.  If your main asset is a policy of insurance, whoever you name as the beneficiary receives the insurance proceeds.  Those proceeds will not be divided according to the terms of your Will.  You can make a policy of insurance payable to your estate and then it is divided according to the terms of the Will, but only if you name your estate as the beneficiary.  

The point is that when you think about dividing your property, proper planning for those assets held by banks and insurance companies require separate, proper planning.  

Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!  256-764-0112

Negotiation, Mediation, Arbitration Or Trial

No insurance company will pay money without proof that money is owed.  This is especially true in personal injury cases where documentation of medical expenses, injuries, lost wages and other claims is required.  Unless the claim is documented, the claim will not be paid.  

Your attorney should know the value of the case after becoming thoroughly familiar with the injuries and medical documents that prove these injuries.  A demand letter containing the information needed for an insurance company to evaluate a claim adds to the value of a claim.  This letter should address why the other party is at fault and the damages.   

At this point negotiation can take place to settle the case.  The majority of cases are settled after documentation is obtained and received by the insurance company.  This includes documentation of how the bills were paid, whether it was Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medicare, Medicaid or if they were not paid.  If the case is filed for trial, most cases are still negotiated for settlement.

Those cases that can’t settle are often ordered to mediation by the court. Mediation is an opportunity for all the parties to be present with a mediator who can help the parties reach an enforceable resolution.  We mediate a lot of cases.   The mediator does not have the authority to decide the case absent an agreement between the parties.    

If a case is not settled it is then referred over for a trial.  A trial will resolve the issues one way or the other.  Outcomes at trial can be good, bad or indifferent.  It is that uncertainty that truly promotes settlement through negotiation or mediation.  A trial means that a judge decides what law applies and the jury decides what the facts of the case are and then applies the law to the facts to render a decision known as a verdict, stated in dollars, or for the defendant.  

Certain types of contracts contain agreements not to go to court but to instead arbitrate.  Automobile purchase contracts almost always contain an agreement to arbitrate.  These agreements are enforced by the court.  During arbitration both parties present evidence that is generally admissible but under a more relaxed evidentiary standard and the arbitrator makes the final decision.  Arbitration decisions are generally not reviewable by the courts.  

Buckle up, drive safely and as always your referrals are appreciated!  256-764-0112

Offers Of Settlement in Workers Compensation Cases

The usual course of events in an on-the-job injury case begins with an injury and ends with the court approval of a monetary settlement.   In between those two events are medical treatment, recovery and often dissatisfaction.  

Workers comp does not pay for loss of enjoyment of life.  That means if you enjoyed watching your children play sports and you can’t sit in the bleachers for long anymore, you don’t get any money for that.  If you liked to bowl but you can’t, you don’t get any money for that.  

If you have the loss of ability to earn and the injury is to a hip, neck, shoulder or back, the legal evaluation of your case takes into account your loss of physical abilities and how that affects your ability to go back to your usual occupation.  If you used to earn $20 an hour but now the best job you can do pays $10 an hour you might have a loss of earnings of 50%.  It could very well be that if you only work 20 hours a week, a court could find that you are permanently and totally disabled, even though you could work part-time. 

Injured workers often get letters offering a sum of money.  These offers are typically based on a physical impairment.  These impairments are determined a physician using a book written by the American Medical Association and adopted by the State of Alabama.  This book addresses losses suffered by people who undergo certain surgeries.  An example is a neck fusion.  No one really regains the full range of motion they had before a fusion and this book states percentages that address the impairment. 

Don’t accept these offers as true or honest.  The courts are in no way bound by the physical impairment ratings given by the workers compensation doctor.  In a recent case the employer had offered a settlement based on 4% valued at $1,953.60 but based on other factors, including some further testing which documented the injured employee’s difficulties, the judge in that case awarded $29,304, which is 60%.  

Remember that the judge who hears your case will make a decision based upon all the evidence, including its own observations, and must interpret the evidence, to its best judgment.  The court is not bound to accept a physician’s assigned impairment rating.  Judges can’t and won’t just make up numbers without evidence.  A good workers compensation attorney can tell you whether an offer is fair.  

Buckle up, drive safely, wash your and as always, your referrals are appreciated!  

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