What Is Municipal Law? A Simple Guide for Beginners

There are so many areas of practice in the law; criminal, bankruptcy, family, civil rights,  entertainment, and many more. 

We hear about these areas of law and the court cases that come from trying to uphold this laws all the time. 

But there is one less known area of law which actually affects every day life quite a bit. And that is municipal law. 

If you want to learn more about municipal law and if it even applies to you, you are in the right place!

What Does Municipality Mean?

In order to really understand municipal law, we need to back all the way up and learn what a municipality is. 

The definition of a municipality is a community with a local government and specified boundaries. This includes towns, cities, or villages. 

These areas are formally organized by the larger state where they are located. They are given the authority to have their own laws and standards, as long as they are in line with the state’s laws as well. 

Municipalities and their governments were created in order to give the state’s a way to outsource some of the necessary services. This includes water, garbage disposal, and utilities. 

What Does Municipal Mean and What Is Municipal Law?

Since we understand that municipality is a defined area with a local government, it follows that municipal is a part of that. 

The municipal definition is the governing body in that area. And municipal law is the rules, regulations, and standards that are set by that governing body. 

This type of law gives those in the municipal government set limits to their power and also gives the community regulations to keep things running as smooth as possible. 

Municipal government officials are elected by the people living within their boundaries. After they are elected they are then responsible for upholding the law, adding to the law, and in certain circumstances working with the community to change outdated or unnecessary laws. 

Some of these municipal government titles include mayor, city council, or commissioners. 

Many of these elected officials are required to follow the laws set by their municipality but many of them were not actually trained lawyers before getting their position. 

Who Does a Municipal Attorney Represent?

There is a lot that a municipal government may want to do to help or improve their community. But they do not just have free reign to do whatever they think is necessary. 

A municipal law attorney is their advisor on what they are and are not allowed to do within the government. 

These types of attorneys do not represent a person but instead represent community governments, council boards, or other municipal groups. 

Often a municipality will have a contracted attorney that they can use often for counsel, not just when they are a part of a lawsuit. That attorney is hired through the government.

But a citizen may also need a lawyer who understands and is familiar with the local municipal law as well. If they believe there has been an issue with the upkeep of the law, they need someone who can argue that law for them. 

Many law firms can help people understand specific laws in their community, like estate planning or property management. 

What Falls Under Municipal Law?

Okay, so a municipal government has the responsibility to continually improve their community and make sure it is successful. But they also have the responsibility to stay within the bounds of the law. 

So what exactly falls under municipal law that these government bodies are working under and also creating?

This list obviously varies from place to place, as each governing body has come up with different regulations to cover specific needs. 

But, generally speaking, municipal law covers any liability the municipality may have, use of power, and space management. 

One of the most important aspects of municipal law is in drafting new ordinances for the municipal laws. There are very specific processes and standards that adding to the law takes. A lawyer can help the government body make sure that what they are doing is legal so that it can go through. 

Another common practice of municipal lawyers has to do with zoning for properties. Each community is divided up into sections; business, residential, etc. So the municipal government keeps up with all things concerning the zoning and building in the city. 

Municipal law also covers police operations, what they can and cannot do. These lawyers also deal with some traffic prosecution as well. 

There are a lot of areas that are covered within municipal law. A lawyer with specific training in this type of law is so helpful to make sure everything is done correctly. 

Why Is Municipal Law Important?

There are laws in place to keep order and structure, to maximize safety, and to promote personal rights. 

Each government entity has their own set of laws that are within their jurisdiction, from Federal to State to County to Municipality. That is a lot of laws to keep track of and uphold. 

A municipal lawyer is someone who is trained in municipal law but also has a thorough knowledge of all applicable laws (Federal on down).

This type of lawyer is critical to making sure the government runs as smoothly as possible and that citizens are also protected against abuse of power. 

If you want to learn more about municipal laws or anything legal, please contact us today! 

What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 5 Main Types of Personal Injuries

personal injury lawsuit

We all know it in the back of our minds: injuries and accidents happen, we’re just waiting for the next time they happen to us. It’s bad enough when an accident is inevitable, but when it occurs because of someone else’s negligence, you shouldn’t be left to foot the bill.

That’s why personal injury cases are so common today. They give you an opportunity to hold the person accountable while minimizing the damage you have to suffer.

Although every case is unique, they all boil down to a few top categories and types of personal injuries.

1. Car Accident Cases

Every year, there are 2.35 million people injured in vehicle accidents in the US alone. Many of these injuries are mild, but some of them are life-changing.

In a car accident lawsuit, you need to prove that the other driver was at fault or mostly at fault for the collision. You also need to be able to prove your injuries and damages.

It’s important to recognize that your settlement isn’t only meant to cover the costs you’ve already incurred. You need to consider the future repercussions of your injuries too.

For instance, you may need ongoing physical therapy or even home nursing care. If your future career prospects are damaged or ended because of your injury, you should be suing for that loss as well.

2. Medical Malpractice Cases

To many victims, medical malpractice cases are especially emotional. After all, you put your trust in a medical professional, and when they are reckless with your health, it feels like a betrayal.

With a medical malpractice case, one of the most critical challenges is proving that the provider failed to meet the minimum standard of care.

For instance, there are known risks to certain procedures and medications. If you happen to have complications despite the doctor taking all the necessary precautions, you wouldn’t win a malpractice suit.

Instead, these lawsuits are meant for cases when doctors fail to meet their minimum requirements. For instance, if a surgeon doesn’t sterilize their equipment properly and it causes an infection, you’re likely to win that lawsuit.

3. Assault, Battery, Other Intentional Injuries

Most of the time with vehicle accidents and medical malpractice cases, the person who injured you is being reckless and neglectful. They aren’t necessarily injuring you on purpose.

Assault, battery, and other intentional injury cases are different. The person actively chose to do harm to you rather than just choosing to take risks with your safety.

For this reason, plaintiffs in these cases are more likely to receive damages above and beyond their financial losses. That could include pain and suffering payments or punitive damages. If you aren’t familiar with the term, punitive damages are meant to be punishment for a defendant’s actions.

In these types of personal injury cases, the more documentation you have, the better. This is one of several reasons why it’s important to file a police report when an assault or battery occurs. Police reports are viewed as highly reliable evidence rather than he-said-she-said stories from the people involved.

4. Slip and Fall or Premises Injury Cases

Personal injury cases don’t always deal with a person’s actions in the moment an incident happens. Sometimes the problem is that the person didn’t take preventative measures to keep you safe before the incident occurred.

Premises injuries like slip and fall cases are prime examples of this.

Any property owner has a responsibility to take precautions to make their property safe for visitors. That includes commercial properties like stores and restaurants.

A slip and fall case is exactly what it sounds like. You’re on someone else’s property and you injure yourself because they didn’t take precautions like mopping up a spill.

However, you may also be able to sue a property owner due to their failure to protect you from crime.

For example, you’re leaving a restaurant late at night. Thanks to a lack of lighting or security in the parking lot, it attracts criminals and they rob you. You can seek damages from the property owner for failing to take precautions against a known risk.

5. Dog Bite Cases

This category might seem specific but it’s surprisingly common. As much as every pet parent loves their furry friends, there is always a risk involved.

As far as the law is concerned, a pet owner is liable for any damage or injury their pet causes. It varies from state to state, but in Wisconsin, owners are liable for the cost of any dog bite or other injuries their pets cause.

In some cases, the damages can be more extreme. If an owner knows their dog has bitten someone in the past and the dog bites someone again, the owner may need to pay double the financial damages to the second victim.

This is meant to force dog owners to take more responsibility if their pet is known to be aggressive. While any dog can bite at any time, owners need to take extra precautions if they know their dog has this tendency.

As with other injuries, you may be able to receive damages for future consequences of a dog bite. For instance, perhaps the bite scarred you and you need reconstructive surgery for the scar. You can seek damages to pay for that surgery.

Understanding the Types of Personal Injuries for Your Case

In all types of personal injury lawsuits, one of the biggest problems for plaintiffs is a lack of knowledge. Some people don’t bring a lawsuit at all even if they deserve compensation because they worry about the process and the hassle or they don’t realize they have a case.

While it helps to have a basic understanding of the types of personal injuries, your next step is to hire a lawyer who can take the case off your hands. To find out if you have a case, call our personal injury attorneys today.

Estate Planning 101: All You Need to Know About Estate Planning

estate planning 101

No matter how old you are, it’s never to early to start some estate planning.  Some simple measures can make a world of difference for you and your family, even if that eventuality is way in the future.

You also do not have to be a multimillionaire to take advantage of the laws surrounding trusts and estates. Some careful planning with the assistance of a qualified attorney can help you make preparations now while you are creating your legacy.

Here is a broad overview of Estate Planning 101 to help you get started. These questions will help guide you as you begin to plan for the future.

1. Where Do You Live? 

When you begin to plan your estate, you first need to consider where you live.

If you live in Wisconsin, you will not have a state estate or inheritance tax. However, if you own property in a state that does have this kind of tax, like New Jersey or Pennsylvania, that state may levy taxes on your beneficiary or your estate.

If you are very wealthy now or in the future, your estate may be subject to federal taxes.

However, there are other financial benefits to estate planning, even if you do not expect a large tax bill. If you place certain accounts in trust for your children, they may derive tax advantages while the money grows over time.

2. What Do You Have? 

Owning property, a business, life insurance, or other items of value means you should plan for their distribution after your death. 

The more money you have, the more you need an estate plan. However, even people who consider themselves middle class can benefit from having a will and even trusts to determine who gets what. 

If you have a large family, you may want to specify who gets how much of your estate. You may wish to include only those who will need it. You may wish your money to go to your children, but to be managed by another family member until they are aged 25 or 30.

Passing your assets to beneficiaries through a trust can also be more expedient than going through probate. Probate can be a long and contentious process. If you plan your estate carefully, the people you leave behind will have access to your property and money through a trust more quickly.

3. Who Do You Take Care Of?

If you have small children, you should have a will and estate plan. No one in their twenties or thirties likes to think they may die one day, but unfortunately, terrible things do happen. You want to take care of your family, just in case the worst happens.

In addition to making financial arrangements for your children, you may also want to designate who will take care of them. Some wills will name a guardian for minor children if both parents die.

You may also name someone to administer the estate, (control the money) after you pass away. They might be given the responsibility of deciding on what the money in the estate can be spent for the benefit of the children. For example, they might be able to approve college tuition but not the purchase of a motorcycle.

If you have someone with disabilities in your family who is unable to work for a living, you may want to make special provisions. There are trusts that can be set up for the benefit of disabled people which provide special protection. These special needs trusts may be funded by an inheritance from you.

These trusts aim to ensure that your family member is taken care of throughout their life.

5. Who Do You Trust to Take Care of Your Affairs? 

When you plan your estate, you must choose someone to pay your debts, distribute your assets, and make sure that all of your wishes are followed. This will be your Personal Representative. 

You can give your Personal Representative a wide range of power, including the ability to file taxes on trusts, distribute monies to beneficiaries, and even arrange your funeral.

Your Personal Representative can be your spouse, a trusted child or friend, or a lawyer or accountant. You should also name alternative Personal Representatives in case they predecease you.

You can also assign someone the responsibility to make end-of-life medical decisions on your behalf.

6. What Does Your Family Structure Look Like? 

Did you remarry late in life? You may want to make specific provisions to leave your estate to the children of your first marriage.

Do your children fight over money frequently? Is there a member of your family who is unworthy of inheriting from you? 

Are your family members well off, or do you want to teach them the true value of hard work? You may wish to give a portion or all of your estate to a charitable organization.

Estate planning will solidify your wishes to reduce infighting in your family and make sure your assets go to whom you want them to go. 

7. How Do You Want to Enjoy Your Retirement? 

Estate planning specialists and lawyers can help you get the full value of your money before you die.

Estate planning should start well before you retire.

Estate Planning 101: Not As Hard as You May Think! 

Estate planning 101 does not have to be difficult or morose. In fact, it is a great feeling to understand you can make the most of your income and provide for yourself and your family in the future. 

By exploring your options and setting up your affairs now, you will reap the rewards for a long time to come.

For more information on planning your estate, contact us