Real Estate

Q. 1. What is an HOA?

An HOA, which is short for Home Owners Association, is a private association initially formed by a real estate developer and used to market, manage, and sell homes in a subdivision. In most cases, the developer eventually transfers control of the association to the homeowners once a certain number of lots are sold. If you want to live in the subdivision, you must become a member and abide by the tenants which can limit your choices regarding your home.

Q. 2. How are Property Taxes Calculated?

You can calculate property tax by taking the mill levy and multiplying it by the assessed value of your property. The assessed value is an estimate of the reasonable market value of your home. Property taxes are levied by the government in which the property is located, which can include the federal government, the state, a county, or the geographical region or a municipality. Multiple jurisdictions can tax the same property.

Q. 3. What is title defect?

A title defect, sometimes referred to as a defective title, renders the title unmarketable. When it comes to real estate, a title defect usually means the land being sold by a party claiming to have a clear title is actually under the ownership of an unnamed or unrelated party and it cannot be sold. You can avoid problems with title defects by having the title checked and investing in title insurance.

Q. 4. What kind of deeds are there in Florida?

There are four different types of basic deeds in Florida, as well as some additional special types of deeds. The four basic types of deeds include: Warranty Deed, Special Warranty Deed, Fee Simple Deed, and Quit Claim Deed. General Warranty Deeds are the most common deed used in the sale of residential properties and offer the greatest number of benefits for the grantee.

Q. 5. Home Warranty?

A home warranty plan protects you in case something breaks or stops working properly in your home. You will need to pay an annual or monthly premium for the plan based on the size of your home and age of the covered item. There might also be co-pays or deductibles.

Home warranties can cover a variety of things, including:

  • Plumbing systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Washing machine and dryer
  • Dishwasher

Q. 6. Wiring funds for closing?

Most buyers must pay a significant amount of money when they close on a home purchase. Using wire transfer for those funds can be an efficient method for taking care of your obligation. When executed properly, wiring funds is nearly instant and relatively inexpensive. If you are selling a home, you can request that the fund be wired to you instead of having the buyer submit a cashier’s check – a method that has a higher risk for fraud.

Q. 7. Should I get a home inspection?

Yes. It is important to have a home inspection before finalizing a sale because if any defects are discovered you might have the option to cancel the contract. It might also be possible to require that the defect be repaired before the contract is complete. If you fail to have a home inspection prior to closing the deal you could be responsible for anything that goes wrong with the property.

Q. 8. What does escrow really mean?

Escrow occurs when an impartial third party holds on to money that is exchanging hands in the sale of property. When an offer is made on a home, the buyer writes an earnest money check that is placed in “escrow.” It does not go to the seller until the deal is closed and neither you nor the seller can tough the money until that point. Holding the money in escrow protects both the buyer and seller.

Q. 9. What are common issues when closing on a home?

Ideally the closing of the sale of a home will go smoothly, but some of the most common issues that arise include:

  • Errors in documents
  • Delays with the mortgage
  • Problems with acquiring the money for the closing
  • Unclear title
  • Problem during the walk-through

There are things you can do to reduce the risk of problems arising at closing, so make sure you work closely with the real estate professionals who are involved in the sale to avoid a problem.

Q. 10. Do I need an attorney to handle my closing?

It depends. Some states require you to hire an attorney for the closing, but even if your state does not, it can drastically help your cause. Even if an attorney is not handling the closing of the sale, you can choose to have an attorney review your documents before closing. The real estate agent or mortgage broker involved in the sale can provide recommendations if you are not already working with an attorney.

Personal Injury

Q. 1. What damages can I seek in my personal injury lawsuit?

Typically the damages you are entitled to as a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In some cases, plaintiffs are paid additional money that is applied as a punishment for the defendant. Settlements in personal injury cases vary a great deal based on several factors, but the average award ranges between $3000 and $75,000.

Q. 2. The person that caused my injury is claiming that it was my fault. What do I do?

You will need to prove that you were not at fault or show that if you had any fault in your injuries that the majority of the blame lies with the defendant. Keep in mind, even if you are partially at fault for your injuries, you can still recover compensation. Your personal injury attorney will assist you in establishing fault in your situation.

Q. 3. What should I avoid doing after an accident?

There are several things you should avoid doing after you have been involved in an accident. First and foremost, remain at the scene and contact emergency services, including police. Never refuse medical attention even if you believe your injuries to be non-existent or minor. Do not admit fault or speak about your role in the accident and do not speak to the insurance company without first speaking to an attorney. Finally, do not accept an offer for a settlement from the insurance company without first speaking to an attorney.

Q. 4. How Much Time Do I Have After I Am Injured To File A Lawsuit?

It varies from state to state, but in most states you must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of being injured. Ideally, you will contact an attorney as soon as you are able to do so. The sooner you get the ball rolling on a personal injury lawsuit the better because it ensures your memory of the incident is fresh and that any eyewitnesses are easily reasonable and have fresh recall of the event.

Q. 5. What is a bodily injury claim?

A bodily injury claim is a claim placed against your insurance policy regarding injuries suffered by anyone not on that policy due to the negligence of you or someone else on your policy. To determine the general value of a bodily injury claim, you will need to add up the hard costs, called “special damages” including:

  • Medical or chiropractic bills
  • Therapy or treatment bills
  • Out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury
  • Cost of replacement services, like lawn care
  • Lost income

Q. 6. How will personal injury claim affect my insurance?

If you were injured and you file a personal injury claim against the negligent party’s insurance, it will have no bearing on your insurance. A personal injury claim against you will likely increase your premiums. In some cases, it could put you at risk for losing insurance coverage, depending on your driving record and history of claims at the time the lawsuit is filed.

Q. 7. Do I need an attorney to handle my personal injury case?

Yes, it is highly advisable to work with an attorney when you are dealing with a personal injury case. You are legally permitted to represent yourself in court, but unless you are an attorney with professional personal injury experience, you are doing yourself a disservice not hiring an attorney. Not to mention, if you have been injured in an accident or you are the at-fault party and you are dealing with other issues that arise after an accident, your time is better invested elsewhere while your attorney handles the lawsuit.

Q. 8. What is negligence and will it affect my personal injury claim?

Negligence indicates who is at fault for an injury. It has a significant effect on a personal injury claim. If you bear any negligence for your injuries it will reduce the compensation you receive. However, even if your actions did play a role in your injuries, you could still be eligible for compensation, so you should speak to an attorney about pursuing a lawsuit. Unless you bear the majority of responsibility for your injuries, you could be entitled to a settlement.

Q. 9. What monetary recovery is permitted in a personal injury claim?

As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. There are also cases in which plaintiffs receive punitive damages, though this is far rarer than the other three types of recovery. How much you will receive depends on the extent of your injuries, the medical care required, how long you were forced to miss work, and how severe the long-term consequences of your injuries.

Q. 10. What should I do after a dog bite?

Suffering a dog bite is a frightening experience, but it is important you follow a few steps after the incident occurs. First, seek medical attention, even if you do not think the injuries are serious. If the bite is serious, call 911 or have someone drive you to the emergency room. Next, you will need to identify the dog and its owner if this person is not already known to you. Make sure you take photos of your injuries and keep all paperwork for the doctor’s visit. Finally, you will want to report the bite in order to trigger an investigation and then contact a personal injury attorney who has worked with dog bit victims in the past.