I recently injured my foot at work. I was cutting a metal piece with a grader when it broke into pieces and landed on my left foot, leaving me to get six stitches. I work at an auto body shop but am hired as a private contractor, which makes me unqualified for workers comp. I had to return to work within two days of my injury because they do not qualify me for workers comp. I am hopping around wearing a foot brace with stitches and am in a lot of pain, but cannot afford to leave work. What can I do? I already hired an attorney, but they haven't returned any of my calls for two weeks. I'm starting to lose hope and feel useless. -- David from Las Vegas, Nev.
I really get upset when I hear that attorneys are not responding to their clients. Keep calling the attorney's office, and if they don't respond, you need to find a new lawyer. I am also concerned about whether you should be considered an employee of this business, and that they might be calling you an independent contractor just to avoid paying benefits. There are many factors that go into properly classifying workers as independent contractors or employees, and employers cannot simply choose one or the other to escape responsibility for paying for things like workers comp. You need to consult with a workers compensation lawyer to ask if in fact you might be covered. If you are not and if the shop was negligent, you may be able to sue for damages. This would put you in an awkward situation if you still work there. Good luck.
A relative asked to live with me last January. I rearranged my house so that my niece could have her own room and access to my home. She was only supposed to live with me until she got married in April, so we never set how much she would pay me per month; however, she gave me $300 in February and March. Her uncle then passed suddenly, and she had to reschedule the wedding so she never moved. I didn't receive any additional money from her until she gave me another $800 at the beginning of July. From July through November, she didn't give me any more money. She ended up moving around Thanksgiving time and said she would pay me when she received her check from work. Since then, she's never given me anything. At first, she pretended like she forgot about bringing me payment. Now, she says she doesn't feel like she owes me anything. She increased all of my utilities by at least $100 a month, including Internet. I want to know if I have a case to sue her for the money she owes me for rent and/or all of the utility costs she incurred. -- Yolanda from Orlando, Fla.
Family squabbles are always the most difficult. Unfortunately, you did not have a clear understanding or agreement with your niece about what she was to pay you. You were lucky she paid you anything. Could you take her to court? Yes. Should you? Probably not. Since there was no contract, either oral or written, and you never set a monthly amount for her to pay, a judge would have a hard time awarding you money. It is best to consider this a life lesson and move forward. If you agree to rent a room again in the future, make sure you have something in writing to protect you.
I gave a pretty large deposit (by check) to a company to have replacement windows installed at my house. Before the windows were installed, the owner died and the business closed. The business office is vacant, the phone disconnected and the Web page taken down. An attorney told me that since I wrote the check out in the name of the company, I can't file a claim against the owner's estate. How can I get my deposit back? -- Dave, from Coral Springs, Fla.
What a shame. The owner's estate is protected so long as the business was incorporated and wasn't held individually by the owner. I expect you aren't the only person impacted by the owner's death. Hopefully the attorney you consulted with checked the business's corporate filings. If he didn't, you should check with the Florida secretary of state's office to see who the corporate officers were. Here is the link: www.sunbiz.org. There may be someone you can contact to follow up on your deposit. Maybe they can tell you whether your order was placed and how to reach the manufacturer of the windows to complete the transaction. This might sound strange, but look for the owner's obituary and see whether you can track down any close relatives to get some assistance. Be sure to give your condolences first.
(Jackie Glass is a lawyer and former district court judge from Las Vegas, Nev., who is the new host of CBS's daytime legal affairs program, "Swift Justice With Jackie Glass." Visit www.SwiftJustice.com for more information, local show times and to submit your legal questions to Jackie.)Copyright 2012 by Tribune Media Services, Inc.