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Can a Personal Injury Settlement Be Taxed?

By Richard Console on January 28, 2016

Everything you need to know about taxes and your personal injury settlement

When you got hurt, it was one of the most difficult times of your life. But you got through it, and you got justice. Maybe you handled a small personal injury claim on your own. If your claim was of a higher value, you hopefully had a lawyer to maximize your compensation. Either way, you ended up with money for the damages you suffered.

Now, though, you may be wondering if the money you receive from a personal injury claim or lawsuit is subject to income tax. It’s a timely topic, as taxpayers across the nation are beginning to see tax documents like W-2s, 1098s and 1099s arrive in anticipation of tax season.

Can a Personal Injury Settlement Be Taxed? | Console & Hollawell personal injury lawyersPhoto Credit: Pixabay (public domain).

The Basics of Taxation and Personal Injury Settlements

In most cases, no, your personal injury settlement can’t be taxed.

However, there are a lot of exceptions and exclusions that could make at least a part of your settlement or jury award taxable.

Let’s break down what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has to say.

Unlike the money you earn from working a job, much of the money you receive from a personal injury claim or lawsuit isn’t considered wages, salaries or tips, but instead “compensatory” – money meant to compensate the person for a loss.

Compensatory income is somewhat of a gray area.

“Generally speaking, most people view the term ‘compensatory’ to mean ‘nontaxable,’” the IRS noted, but that view isn’t 100 percent accurate – and assuming otherwise could leave you owing a lot of money.

What’s Not Taxable?

To simplify a complicated situation, the IRS spelled out which portions of a personal injury settlement are specifically excluded from income taxation.

You can’t be taxed on money from a personal injury settlement or jury award meant to compensate you for:

  • Physical injuries
  • Emotional distress caused by physical injuries
  • Lost wages that result from physical injuries

That means the money you receive for economic damages like medical bills and lost income and for non-economic damages like pain and suffering is generally tax-free.

Think you’re good to go? Not quite.

The Exceptions

There are exceptions to these general rules. Depending on what you did with your money and what decisions you made when filing your taxes in the past, you could still owe the IRS.

No Double-Dipping

If you already got any kind of tax benefit in the past that relates to your case, you can’t take advantage of additional benefits.

For example, perhaps you deducted the out-of-pocket cost of your medical care that stemmed from the accident on a previous year’s income tax return. That’s fine and perfectly legal to do.

But double-dipping isn’t. Now that you’ve been compensated for those expenses, you have to pay the IRS back what you deducted in the past. This amount is considered “other income” and belongs on the 1040 tax form, the IRS reported.

Interest

If you earned interest on any money recovered from a personal injury case, that interest isn’t tax-exempt. List it as “interest income” on your 1040 form.

What About Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages, meant to punish the defendant for negligent behavior, are a different beast. They can be taxed in many situations, including those arising from physical injuries.

Failing to include this compensation on your income tax return can be a big mistake. Include any punitive damages portion of your settlement on your 1040 form as “other income.”

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until tax season to check on this. If you received a lot of money in punitive damages, your tax burden could be high enough that you’ll need to make estimated tax payments throughout the year, the IRS reported. Fail to do that, and you could face a penalty.

You Still Might Not Be in the Clear

Even once you’re sure about how taxes will affect your personal injury settlement, be aware of any other ways you could owe. Make sure any liens against you – like debts to your health insurance company or any funding liens – have been paid.

If you had a lawyer, he or she should have taken care of this for you. If not, you’re on your own!

Remember that not knowing there was a lien doesn’t exempt you from paying it, so it’s in your best interest to find out if you owe anything to anyone sooner rather than later.

If your claim was complicated, with both compensatory and punitive damages, it can be difficult for you to determine what portion of your settlement is subject to tax. Talk to your lawyer and an accountant for help, if necessary. This is one situation where you definitely don’t want to make any mistakes!

Use Elevators, Handrails, and Tunnels to Avoid Winter Slip and Falls

By Richard Console on January 7, 2016

On any snowy day, think about your walking route. Can you take an elevator instead of potentially slippery steps? At any point on your path, do you have the option of using a tunnel instead of walking out in the open? If so, do – during winter storms, minimizing the risk of a slip and fall on ice the most important thing you can do.

When walking in icy conditions, you’re at a big disadvantage. Ice doesn’t provide the same traction as pavement, asphalt, or concrete. Piles of snow and slush can make it hard to keep your balance or force you to change your route to avoid them. To stay safe in these potentially dangerous conditions, you have to use any safety feature you’ve got available – even if it means altering your usual route to do it.

  • A slip and fall down a flight of stairs can be particularly dangerous. When you have the option, use an elevator or ramp instead of steps.
  • If you must take the stairs, either inside or outside, use the handrail. It could mean the difference between a close call and a devastating fall. Remember that even indoor stairs can become dangerously slippery when people track ice and slush inside buildings.
  • Ice can only gather easily on exposed surfaces, like sidewalks and parking lots that are out in the open. When possible, choose tunnels and covered walkways over open sidewalks. A roof or awning might not do much to keep out the cold, but if it minimizes the amount of ice that forms or prevents ice from forming entirely, it could make you a lot safer.

It only takes a few small changes to make walking in icy conditions safer. If a simple change could prevent you from breaking an arm or permanently damaging your back, isn’t it worthwhile?

Walking on Ice? Take the Path More Traveled

By Richard Console on January 7, 2016

Poet Robert Frost may have famously taken the road less traveled, but he probably didn’t do it during an ice storm. A snowy day is not the time to pioneer your own route – and trying could increase your risk of suffering a slip and fall on ice. In slippery weather conditions, the route you walk could make a big difference in your safety.

  • Stick to well-traveled (and hopefully treated) walkways. Even if walkways haven’t been treated, the foot traffic of pedestrians who have walked the same path before you can help melt and crush the ice. You can watch pedestrians ahead of you to see if they move to avoid a hazard that you might not have seen otherwise. If you do fall, at least you don’t have to worry about being stranded alone and injured, away from passersby who could help.
  • Avoid shortcuts, even if they are part of your usual routine, that could present slippery conditions. You may know the route well, but that doesn’t mean it won’t surprise you with unexpected patches of ice. If not many people use your preferred route, it’s less likely that the property owner would have treated it to prevent snow and ice buildup.
  • When possible, cut through buildings. The best way to not slip on ice is to avoid having to walk on it at all, so walking inside is a better choice than walking outside in the cold. Just make sure you wipe your feet carefully when you come in and watch out for wet spots on the floors, particularly near entrances and exits.
Easy Tricks to Stop Snow from Sticking to Your Shovel

By Richard Console on January 7, 2016

Nothing can slow down a snow removal job like the snow sticking to the shovel. Big clumps of snow can weigh your shovel down and decrease the space for scooping up new snow, making your work more tiring and inefficient than it needs to be. Every time you try to jostle stuck snow off of the blade, you’re wasting valuable time and energy. If the snow sticks enough, you might start to feel like you’re shoveling every pile of snow twice.

There’s an easy way to avoid sticking snow with the help of items you already have at home: turn your shovel blade into a nonstick surface.

A Slippery Shovel Blade

There’s a long list of potential ways to make your shovel’s blade a nonstick surface, many of which you probably already have in your home:

  • PAM and similar cooking sprays
  • Shortening
  • Vegetable oil
  • Furniture wax
  • Floor wax
  • Petroleum jelly (Vaseline)
  • WD-40 penetrating oil and water-displacing spray
  • Car wax
  • Silicone spray
  • Candle wax

Whether you’re spraying on PAM or WD-40, applying car wax or petroleum jelly with a cloth, or rubbing an old candle over the shovel blade’s surface, make sure you coat the blade front and back. You may have to reapply your nonstick coating, so keep your nonstick tool of choice handy.

Where and how you store your shovel can also affect how much the snow sticks, not to mention how long your shovel will last before you have to replace it. Snow is more likely to stick to a warm shovel than a cold one, so keep your shovel in a garage or shed, if possible. Also, wipe down the shovel every time you finish using it to keep the blade clean, in good condition, and ready for the next snowfall.

Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

By Richard Console on December 29, 2015

Whether You’re Hoping for Your Day in Court or Dreading the Ordeal of a Trial, Here’s What You Need to Know

Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial? | Console & HollawellPhoto Credit: Pixabay (Public Domain) 

The Odds of Taking the Case to Court

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tort lawsuits – suits over harm suffered because of someone else’s behavior – are filed in federal courts. State courts see hundreds or thousands of additional tort lawsuits.

How many actually go to trial? Just 2 percent, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.

Based on the statistics alone, your case isn’t likely to go to trial. And it might surprise you to hear this, but that’s a good thing.

The Disadvantages of a Trial

You have the right to take your civil dispute to court. The seventh amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees you the right to a trial by jury. But having your day in court often isn’t what’s best for you or your case.

The Time Cost

Taking a case to trial draws out the already lengthy process of pursuing a lawsuit. For claimants who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of their accidents already – and even for those who just want the closure of putting the whole ordeal behind them – this is a definite drawback.

The Expense

Then there’s the cost of a trial. There are administrative expenses to pay, like copying fees and the cost of hiring a court reporter. Filing fees alone can add up to thousands upon thousands of dollars. Expert witnesses may charge thousands of additional dollars to testify in court on your behalf.

All of that money comes out of the compensation a jury awards to you – assuming it awards you anything at all.

The Risk

A trial is a gamble. You could get more than what the defense has offered to settle the case. But if jurors don’t believe your account of the accident, doubt the severity of your injuries or how much they affect your life, or blame you for the accident, they may award you less than you deserve – perhaps even nothing at all.

Jurors enter the courtroom with their own prejudices, and sometimes they make decisions that could affect your future based on those beliefs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter whether their opinions are right or wrong – they can still keep you from getting the money you deserve.

Why Go to Trial at All?

Of course, there are situations where it’s better to take the case to trial – when the defendants aren’t budging no matter how hard an attorney tries to reach a fair settlement, when they try to hide evidence that could help your argument or hurt theirs. Your attorney should always discuss the risks and the benefits with you when you decide whether to settle your claim or take it to court.

What’s more important than whether or not your case actually goes to trial is whether it’s prepared for trial. Let me explain.

Preparing for Court

Trials aren’t easy to win. Juries today are cynical. For years, they have heard the insurance industry’s propaganda about frivolous personal injury lawsuits. Unfortunately, that makes them suspicious of even the most legitimate claim – yours included.

To succeed in a trial, your case must be thoroughly researched and prepared. Your attorney must have painstakingly investigated the accident and have evidence that the other party is at fault. He or she must have gathered medical records that show the severity of your injuries. At trial, your lawyer must present your case in a way that makes jurors side with you. Otherwise, you could lose the case and walk away with nothing.

Some firms might not worry about building your case this thoroughly until it actually goes to trial. By that point – often years after the accident – tracking down and organizing all of the evidence that supports your claim may be more difficult. The time crunch makes it easier to miss pieces of information that could help you and harder to prepare compelling arguments in your favor.

What Console & Hollawell Does Differently: Preparing Your Case as If for Trial

Here at our firm, we begin preparing your case for trial from day one. We conduct a full investigation of your accident from the start and carefully compile every piece of evidence we need to support your claim.

There are two benefits of doing this:

  1. When the defense sees that we’re already prepared for the courtroom, its lawyers think twice about whether or not they really want to take the case to trial. This preparation can itself help us reach a settlement – and that means you get to avoid the time, cost, and hassle of going to court.
  2. If your lawsuit does end up going to trial, you won’t have to worry that we’re rushing to build your case at the last minute. We’ve been working on it for months, even years, and we’re prepared for whatever the defense throws at us.

What Alternatives Are There to a Trial?

Even if your attorneys and the defendant’s lawyers aren’t able to easily reach a settlement that’s agreeable to everyone, there are alternatives to a trial that your case may go through. After all, trials can be expensive for defendants, too, so it’s often better for both sides to avoid going to court.

Other ways of resolving your claim include:

  • Arbitration, in which a neutral third party, called an arbitrator, decides how the case should be resolved
  • Mediation, in which a third party, called a mediator, tries to help the plaintiff’s and defense’s sides reach a resolution or settlement

So, Will Your Case Go to Trial?

The odds aside, some personal injury cases will make it to the courtroom. Without knowing more about your situation, I can’t tell you if a trial is in your future.

What I can tell you is that you want your claim in the hands of an attorney who understands the importance of preparing your case as if for trial from day one as well as the benefits of avoiding an unnecessary trial. This is the kind of lawyer who will do what’s best for you and your claim – not just what’s easiest or what will most impress other attorneys.

Posted in: Personal Injury

How Do Personal Injury Cases Work?

By Richard Console on December 22, 2015

We Break Down What a Personal Injury Case Is, Who Is Involved and What a Lawyer Will Do for You

How Do Personal Injury Cases Work? | Console & Hollawell
Photo Credit: Pixabay (Public Domain).

Damages and Your Personal Injury Case

When you get hurt in some sort of accident, motor vehicle-related or otherwise, you suffer what we in the legal industry call damages.

The injuries you suffered are just one example of your damages. The medical bills that result from treating them are another. If you miss work either because of your injuries or because of the treatment for them – say, weeks of recovery after a surgery – these, too, are damages.

Depending on the circumstances, you might even be able to get compensation for the “pain and suffering” that you experience from the accident. If your injuries are permanent in some way, your damages will include the future pain or limitations you will continue to suffer.

To resolve the problems caused by the accident, you can pursue a personal injury case. This is where you and the people at fault for your accident (or more commonly, their insurance companies) work out how much financial compensation they owe to make you whole again.

In cases where the injuries are minor, this amount might be small – not much more than what you had to pay out-of-pocket in medical bills. If the injuries are more serious and include other damages like lost wages and future impact, the amount could be higher – in the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.

Who Is Involved in a Personal Injury Case?

Of course, you’re involved in your case. Your role is the claimant or plaintiff, the one who is bringing the claim or lawsuit.

On the other side are the defendants, the people or organizations you are seeking compensation from. Your claim may involve just one defendant or many defendants. They may be individuals, corporations, or in certain situations, even government entities.

If your injuries stemmed from a motor vehicle accident, the at-fault driver will be a defendant. A separate person who owned the vehicle could also be named a defendant in your case. Accidents that involve unsafe premises can include owners and potentially renters of private residences, apartment complexes, and commercial properties.

The defendants can be major corporations with massive resources, but they can also be just people. Even when the defendant is an individual, though, they’re not in this alone. If they have coverage through an auto, homeowner’s or business insurance policy, then that insurer has its own professionals dedicated to both protecting the policyholder and minimizing how much the insurance company has to pay out.

We’re talking massive numbers of civil defense attorneys and insurance adjusters, all standing in the way of your goal – getting the money you deserve for the damages you suffered.

It’s not fair for you – an individual with limited legal knowledge, limited resources, and limited time – to have to take on many highly-trained professionals who have the time and resources to focus their full efforts on resolving your claim for the least amount of money. And when the injuries are severe and there’s a lot of compensation at stake, this path isn’t smart, either. That’s precisely why claimants hire personal injury lawyers – so they can have someone with plenty of knowledge, resources, and time to devote to representing them.

A Lawyer’s Role in Your Personal Injury Case

For most claimants, at least part of the reason for hiring a personal injury attorney is to increase the amount of money they receive. Research has shown that attorneys get clients 3.5 times as much money as unrepresented claimants get for themselves – and far more than what they collect in fees.

Of course, this is an average, and every case is different. But if there’s more than a minimal amount of money at stake, having an attorney on your side can only improve your likelihood of getting maximum compensation for your damages.

Your lawyer will fight to get you as much compensation as possible. But it’s not all about the money. Over the course of your claim, a personal injury lawyer will handle a lot of other responsibilities – so you won’t have to.

  • At our office, we handle your property damage claim along with your personal injury claim, as a courtesy to you.
  • Once you hire a lawyer, you won’t have to worry about insurance adjusters bugging you all the time with unwanted phone calls and paperwork. We’ll take care of all interactions with the insurer on your behalf.
  • Medical bills from an accident can be confusing, especially when there are different insurance companies involved. Your lawyers will handle all of the bills, making sure that the right insurers are paying the right portions.
  • If you’re having a hard time finding a doctor to work with you, we can help you search for one. And if you can’t afford your copays, let us know – we may be able to write your doctors what’s a called a “letter of protection,” essentially asking that they treat you now and get paid once your case resolves.
  • Many claimants still have outstanding medical bills after their case resolves, and these bills can really eat into their settlements or jury awards. At our office, we negotiate your medical bills down for you – at no extra charge, of course – so you can keep more of your money.

The Personal Injury Claims Process

Personal injury cases go through different phases. Read on to learn how the process works in each phase.

  • Investigation and Pre-litigation

Like we said, every personal injury case is unique. To begin the process of handling your claim, your attorney will need to gather information. The typical law firm will consider this an investigative or pre-litigation stage.

At our office, we have a dedicated investigative phase that every new case goes through. During this phase, a legal professional will conduct an in-depth investigation of your case, which includes getting police reports and medical records and beginning initial interactions with the insurance company.

We also have a pre-litigation stage, where we use that information gathered during the investigation to begin building your case – which, at this point, is called a claim. We’ll do all the work – you just focus on getting better.

  • Negotiation and Litigation

Typically, it’s only when you finish your medical treatment that we can know what the full extent of your damages will be. That’s when we begin negotiating with the defendant’s insurance carrier. This is also the stage where we begin litigation and the case officially becomes a lawsuit.

Our goal is to get you the most money possible. How we go about that depends on the details of your situation. If we can settle the case for the full amount of money you deserve and avoid the expense of a trial, we will. But if going to court is the only way to get you what you deserve, we’re prepared to do that, too.

  • Post-Resolution

Whether we reach a settlement or attain an award at trial, there are aspects of your claim that need to be finalized. We’ll take care of everything, from collecting your money from the defendants to making sure any outstanding costs or debts related to your case and your treatment are paid.

We know that the process of pursuing a personal injury claim is new and unfamiliar to you. When you ask how it works, you’re wondering all sorts of things, like what you have to do, what you have to pay, how long it’s going to take, and how much money you’re going to get.

Without knowing more about your case, we can’t give you specific answers to questions about timeline or value. No attorney can, at least not reliably. But what’s most important is knowing that someone has your back and is working to figure out what you deserve and maximize your compensation.

And that someone is us.

What Should I Do If I Have Back Pain from a Car Accident?

By Richard Console on December 17, 2015

The 3 Steps You Must Take NOW If You’re Suffering Back Pain from a Crash

When the accident happened, you felt more shaken than anything. That’s normal. You’re in shock – you certainly weren’t expecting this to happen! – and with the adrenaline flowing, you might have really thought you were fine. Maybe you even thought how lucky you were that the crash wasn’t worse.

But that was then. Now, there’s no way not to notice the pain in your back. It’s not getting better. It might even be getting worse. And you aren’t sure what to do next.

Our car accident lawyers have seen this all before, so we know what you’re going through. We also know how to help. Take these 3 important steps – then, let us handle everything else!

What Should I Do If I Have Back Pain from a Car Accident? | Console & Hollawell personal injury lawyers

Photo Credit: “Blausen gallery 2014“. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762 (Creative Commons).

1. Call Your Insurance Company

The last thing you feel like doing right now is digging out your auto insurance policy to find the phone number, navigating automated phone menus that seem designed to make you wait, and then answering a claims adjuster’s seemingly endless questions. We get that. It’s a hassle even when you’re not in pain, and right now, it’s enough to make you feel completely overwhelmed.

But when you’re hurt in an accident, notifying your insurer is necessary. That’s because both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have no-fault laws, which means that your own auto insurance company is typically responsible for paying medical bills that result from any kind of motor vehicle accident, no matter who is at fault. (Even if you weren’t driving!)

The good news is that once you get a lawyer involved on your behalf, you won’t have to worry about talking to the insurance adjuster anymore – but more about that later. For now, if at all possible, report the accident to your insurance company immediately so that you can get a claim set up. You don’t have to go into detail about your injuries or the accident at this time – just get a claim opened so you can…

2. See a Doctor

You back pain could be just soreness. It could be sprains and strains that will go away with minimal treatment and time. But it could also be a sign of something serious, like a bulging or herniated disc – the kind of injury that might require surgery to treat. The only way to find out is to see a doctor. No amount of online research will tell you what’s causing the pain, just like no amount of wishful thinking will make it go away.

Whether it took a few minutes or several days for your back pain to start, it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible. But what exactly does that entail?

If your pain is so severe that you require urgent medical care, go to the emergency room. Nothing is worth risking your health.

If you’re not ready to rush to the ER but still in pain, call your primary care doctor. Not every physician will treat car accident victims. Your doctor might not be equipped to deal with the complicated process of billing your insurance company for coverage through personal injury protection (PIP). In that case, ask your doctor to just document the accident in your chart, and start looking for a doctor who will treat you – or let us do the legwork for you. Once your case gets to us, we’ll make sure you’re seeing the right types of doctors to treat the injuries you suffered, so that you can make the best possible recovery.

3. Call a Lawyer

If your back pain is serious enough to be affecting your life, it’s serious enough to see a doctor. And it’s also serious enough to make it worth calling a lawyer.

Think about it – what would happen if your injuries kept you out of work for a few days? A few months? Could you lose your job? Would you still be able to pay your rent or mortgage? And what would you do if your accident resulted in thousands of dollars of unexpected medical bills?

For most of us, financial hardship is a real concern if an injury is severe enough to prevent us from working, or if the surprise medical expenses are more than we can afford. After a car accident, hiring a lawyer to pursue a claim on your behalf is a way – in many cases, the only way – you can protect yourself and your family from the threat of a personal financial crisis.

Maybe you’re not sure if you need a lawyer. After all, you’ve never done this before – but that’s the point. We have done this – in fact, we deal with problems like the ones you’re going through on a daily basis. Console & Hollawell has been practicing personal injury law since 1994, so once we’re familiar with the facts of your situation, we can tell you pretty confidently if you have a case worth pursuing with a lawyer (and if not, we’ll tell you that, too). A personal injury lawyer should never charge you for a consultation about your case, and most will never ask you for any money upfront.

Getting Help Is Easy as 1-2-3

To recap, you have three important calls to make after a car accident leaves you with back pain:

  1. Your insurance company – to set up a claim
  2. A doctor – to get your injury checked out
  3. A lawyer – to make sure you’re financially protected

The sooner you make these calls, the sooner you’ll have experienced medical and legal professionals working to make you whole, physically and financially. When you’re ready for our help, call (856) 778-5500 for your free, confidential consultation.

Posted in: Personal Injury

6 Reasons to Sue Santa

By Richard Console on December 9, 2015

Santa

Santa Claus Is Coming to Court!

Okay, we’re lawyers. And we know how hard it is getting through law school. But sometimes, law students just have too much time on their hands, and they get crazy ideas. Like suing Santa.

You can’t do that. He’s Santa, lay off! If you don’t have any moral standards that prevent you from suing Santa, there are really good legal reasons why you just can’t do that! But if you have to…. sigh… okay, we’ll tell you how to go about suing Santa. Consider the following.

  1. Emotional Distress

Remember that time Santa didn’t bring you the bike? Broke you heart, didn’t he? Remember how you cried and cried? Well, you might actually have a cause of action. Santa flagged you as naughty. He said you were a bad person. Essentially, he caused you mental distress, and that’s cause for a lawsuit.

  1. Non-Domesticated Animal Use

Rudolph is not a domesticated animal. Under the law, non-domesticated animals are “those animals considered to be naturally wild and not naturally trained or domesticated or which are considered to be inherently dangerous to the health, safety, and welfare of people.”  That’s straight from Black’s Law Dictionary, and that means that vis-à-vis the law on domestic animals, Rudolph ain’t it.

  1. Child Labor Law Violations

How old do you suppose those elves are? They’re just little guys, and there’s no way we believe they’re all dwarves. Most of them are probably just kids, and that means that they can’t be made to work! Bad Santa. Bad.

  1. Tax Evasion and Fraud

Santa works all year making toys, and then just makes one big run on Christmas Eve. We’re betting he’s never even thought of filing his taxes. And he allows all kinds of people to dress up like him. That guy ringing the bell outside the grocery store is NOT SANTA, and that’s fraud.

  1. Trespassing

Okay, some guy comes down your chimney on Christmas Eve, uninvited. Best case it’s simple trespass. Worst case, it’s burglary.

  1. Parking and Speed Violations

When Santa visits your house, where does he park? Probably on the street, where there are municipal bylaws in place. Don’t even get us started on airspace violations. Oh, and how fast do you think he has to go to get all the way around the world in one night – you think he’s not speeding big time?

So what’s the upshot here? Santa Claus is operating way outside the law, and he must be called to account.

Source:

http://abovethelaw.com/2010/10/a-guide-to-suing-santa-claus/

Posted in: Personal Injury

Is There Really Any Cheese in Cheez Whiz?

By Richard Console on December 1, 2015

Recently, a meme on Facebook went viral. It showed a dog, staring into a camera. The caption read, “I see you have cheese. I also like cheese.” You can bet that the “LOLs” were rampant, and why not? Who, be they canine or human, doesn’t like cheese?

Now, here’s the thing. What about Cheez Whiz? Is Cheez really cheese? Do we even care?

Dean Southworth was a “food scientist” for Kraft, the makers of Cheez Whiz. Whatever a “food scientist” is. His job was to develop new products and generally stay ahead of the competition. He likes Cheez Whiz, but he won’t tell you whether or not it’s real cheese.

Why Cheez Whiz?

Perhaps you’ve heard of Welsh Rarebit. It’s sometimes also called “Welsh Rabbit,” although it actually contains no rabbit at all. It’s simply cheese melted over toast. Anyway, the guys at Kraft felt that most cheeses didn’t melt well enough, so they invented a couple of products – Velveeta, and Cheez Whiz. Velveeta kind of resembled traditional cheese, although the texture was more like margarine. Cheez Whiz was… well… different. It would melt instantly, and presumably be delectable.

Perhaps not so much, though. Once Southworth’s brainchild hit the stores, he was horrified. He bought a jar at a local store, tried it out, and immediately called Kraft at their 800 number, telling them that it was nothing more than “axle grease!”

Nutritional Horror

Nutritionists were very much on the same side, pointing out that a mere serving, just two tablespoons, provided nearly a third of the daily requirement of saturated fat, and also a third of the daily requirement of sodium that was recommended for the average American. In short, if you spread Cheez Whiz onto a few Ritz crackers, you could expect to die young.

The Taste

So, horrifying nutritionists, and apparently tasting vile to its creator, why does Cheez Whiz continue to appeal to people? Well, you can use it to jazz up your Kraft Dinner, which nutritionists also don’t much like. It’s probably not all that much worse for you than any of the other processed foods that you consume on any given day. And it tastes great. Even if it doesn’t contain a whole lot of cheese, it tastes cheesy. And we’ll worry about the sodium and cholesterol later. For now, just pass the crackers!

Sources:

http://gizmodo.com/is-there-any-real-cheese-in-cheese-whiz-1681322493

http://www.kraftcanada.com/brands/cheez-whiz

Posted in: Personal Injury

Is Cyberbullying Really On the Rise? And How Harmful Is It?

By Richard Console on November 23, 2015

Cyberbullying

How prevalent is cyberbullying? Is it really as bad as you might think?

If you talk to Glen Canning, the father of Rehtaeh Parsons, a young girl who took her own life after being filmed having non-consensual sex with a number of young men, he’d likely tell you that it’s not only prevalent, it’s a plague. He’d say that a few photos and a few words can kill.

But is that really true, or just the words of an understandably distraught father?

How Bullying Has Evolved

Just look at a newspaper, Google, or even talk to your friends, and you’ll likely find that more and more young people are being bullied online.

Bullying used to take a bit of effort. A bully would have to wait for you after school, or catch you unawares on the weekend. Maybe a scribble on a bathroom wall. Now, all that’s needed is a few keystrokes, or maybe an uploaded photo, and it’s all done. The whole world is the bully’s schoolyard or bathroom.

Blog posts and Facebook statuses can be seen by literally thousands of people. Think of cyberspace as the school bathroom that anyone can enter, and they don’t just have to pull out a pen and scribble something on a wall. They can upload a video, post a picture, and have their hateful message sent instantly.

It Takes No Time

Bullying used to take time. You had to take out your pen, and scrawl your message onto that bathroom wall. Then you had to count on no one else coming around and taking out their pen, and scratching it out. On the Internet, bullying is forever. Awful comments are NEVER erased. And you can never count on hateful messages not going viral.

What Does the Future Hold?

We don’t know if cyberbullying can be stopped. Maybe it can’t. It’s a sad world if kids really and truly want to hurt other kids, and perhaps the solution is in trying, in the early grades, to teach children about the ways in which cyberbullying can affect people forever.

Have you been cyberbullied? Do you know someone who has been cyberbullied? What do you think?

Sources:

http://glencanning.com/

https://www.ipredator.co/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/cyberbullying-facts-cyberbullying-examples-cyberbullying-tactics-2015-michael-nuccitelli-psy-d-ipredator.pdf

http://www.deletecyberbullying.org/advice-for-parents/

http://cyberbullying.us/the-current-state-of-cyberbullying-laws/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Rehtaeh_Parsons

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