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In today’s episode of Legal Live, Peter Riley of the Tom Riley Law Firm answers all your hot legal questions.
The first question comes from Jeremy Moses.
Jeremy says “I have a friend who has an unlimited paid time off policy at his company, yet his employer is questioning employees who they think are abusing it. Is that legal?”
Riley says, “In the absence of a contractual relationship that has a term, even if you’ve got various policies, the employer can terminate the employee at any time. If you have a contract that says for a definite term of employment a year or a specific date, you might have a claim for wrongful termination.”
The next legal question comes from Kevin Brandt. Kevin says, “With snow, a constant presence.
Now, what’s the law on sidewalk shoveling? Have you ever seen a case for someone who didn’t shovel and there was an injury?”
Riley says, “Yes, there is an obligation to shovel the sidewalks and so even though the sidewalk is in the road right away and owned by the government, there’s an obligation to maintain and clear it of snow and ice.”
Uh, and, and it’s the standard is you have to use reasonable steps to do. Uh, and so obviously if it’s snowing, you can’t be expected to go out there until it’s over and that sort of thing. Um, you know, I don’t, I can’t think that I’ve ever had a case and we’ve, we’ve handled cases involving slipping on ice, uh, but they’ve usually been at, at a business establishment.
The next question comes from Paul in Iowa City.
Paul says, “Now that the state of Iowa has turned our senators, Congressional representatives completely read in Washington, DC. How do you expect our state laws to change?
Riley says, “The congressional delegation isn’t going to have a direct effect on. The state laws, they’re legislating at the national level and those are laws that will have an effect. I mean, Iowa, you know, we have republican governor and republican majorities in, in the Senate and house and the state and that.
That. I mean, that’s still a fact. I think they increased their margin somewhat. Uh uh, but at, you know, so there isn’t gonna be any change in the legislative outlook at the state level with respect to the congressional level. You know, it’s interesting. We’re going to see a lot of things happen before the, uh, new congresses inaugurated because, you know, the Republicans.
Peter, we have another question that came from Cindy.
Cindy says, “Recently I suffered a personal injury at work, but feel ashamed and embarrassed to file a claim against a subcontractor responsible. Please tell me if this is natural and what should I do?”
Riley says, “Well, it’s natural, but you should act against your natural impulse. Talk to a lawyer because there’s no reason. You don’t owe any, uh, moral obligation to somebody who caused you an injury, so there’s no reason not to look into it.”
The next question comes from Sandy.
Sandy says, “My teenage daughter was injured while playing a club sport when her opponent was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, getting kicked out of the game and disqualified from playing further. This year, it was a dirty play. The injuries my daughter received have eliminated any possibility to earn a college scholarship. Does she have a case to pursue against the opponent and or her club team that she played for?”
Riley says, “Well, she has a potential claim against the person who injured her. There is what we call the contact sports exception that basically says when people are involved in a contact sport, the standard of reasonable care can’t apply because by necessity there’s the potential for injury. The short answer is if you’ve had an injury, most law firms that handle plaintiff’s litigation will be happy to visit and provide a free consultation and explore whether or not you might have a claim against someone.”
The next question comes from Ned Ned says, “If at all, has Covid affected personal injury claims?”
Riley says, “First of all, it affected the litigation process. The court went into shutdown on, a lot of cases for about a year. The real effect was it did spawn a lot of immunity legislation.
The last question comes anonymously. The person asks, “What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?”
Riley says, “There there are different things. Arbitration is basically a proceeding where a private individual or individuals resolve a dispute rather than the court system. Whereas mediation, is a situation where you have a neutral third party who goes back and forth between the people who have the dispute trying to find common ground and resolve things and mediation.”