Any time you enter a financial contract, you’ll most likely notice very small but very important text at the end of the document. It’s pretty much always included in standard form contracts like apartment leases, mortgages, loans and bank account applications. In a typical case, you purchase a good or service and are presented with a “boilerplate” contract with terms pertaining to dispute resolution, warranties, return policies, etc. and you don’t have much opportunity to negotiate these terms.
Why does the fine print matter?
Contract law is based on the concept of mutual assent to the terms of the contract. Courts assume that all of the terms of the agreement have been agreed upon between both parties, and place the “duty to read” and understand the terms on both parties. Especially in these scenarios, failing to read and understand the fine print can have big negative consequences:
The insurance you have for your car is a legally binding contract. Be sure to read the insurance agreement carefully to know exactly what is covered if you have an issue. Implied in the contract is the insurer’s obligation to “play fairly with its insured.” This means your insurer is obligated to deal with the insured in a fair and honest way..
Once you have the lease in front of you, look for changes in the terms that you and the landlord agreed to verbally, especially in regards to security deposits, due date for rent, the landlord’s right to enter the property, etc.
While most consumers only look at the monthly payments when buying a car, it’s important to look at the deal as a whole to determine if it’s a good one.
If you sign up for a recurring service, like lawn care or financial planning, you may be asked to sign a service agreement. It’s important to read these carefully, because many of them contain arbitration provisions where you give up your right to take a dispute to court.
When you get a new job, you may be asked to sign employment agreements, such as non-disclosure and non-compete clauses. Always read these carefully.
It’s important to make sure you don’t sign any paper until you know exactly what you are signing and what it means. Sometimes, the language used in fine print can be vague and difficult to understand, but it’s still legally binding. If your insurance claim has been denied, your landlord hasn’t followed through on a promise in your lease, or if you have questions about whether you have been treated fairly, you may be dealing with a breach of contract. An experienced firm like Schenk & Podolsky can help you determine your rights and options. We invite you to call (480) 757-5000 today for a free consultation.
If your insurer has intentionally denied a claim, failed to process a claim, or failed to pay a claim without a reasonable basis they may have breached the contract and acted in bad faith. Call Schenk & Podolsky, Attorneys at Law in Mesa, Arizona to determine if you have a claim for breach of contract.
Product disclaimers have become a part of modern life over the past 50 years. A disclaimer is an attempt to absolve a manufacturer of any blame or liability in the event that someone is injured or becomes ill as a result of using the product. Often, they are effective in the event that a product is used incorrectly, but still do not completely absolve the company of liability.
50 years ago, products were essentially used “at your own risk.” These days regulatory bodies impose strict rules on manufacturers to ensure that products are free of defects and unreasonable risks. The law ensures that a product must be safe when used in a reasonable way. Even if a product has a disclaimer or a warning label, that’s not enough to defend completely against a product liability claim. When a product is defective or unreasonably dangerous and causes harm to a consumer, a personal injury claim can be brought against the manufacturer, regardless of the presence of a disclaimer.
Companies are actually required to provide basic instructions and warnings to consumers about potential dangers of using the product. In the event that you disregard the clear instructions in a highly visible disclaimer, a court could decide that you were negligent in a personal injury case, especially if you used the product in an unreasonable way.
What to do if you’ve been injured
Even when a product has a disclaimer that tells you of the dangers of using it, if you’ve been hurt as a result of using the product as it was intended, you have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. Serious illness and injury can lead to very large medical bills, lost wages and lots of pain and suffering, and you are entitled to compensation. If you’ve been affected by a defective or dangerous product, even if that product has a disclaimer, speak to an experienced attorney in Arizona today.
If you’ve never tried a rideshare service, such as Lyft and Uber, you may not be aware of the concept and how it’s different from a traditional taxi service. The idea is that you’re sharing a ride with the driver and other passengers to a similar destination. The concept also takes advantage of GPS devices, smartphones and social networks the make the process simple, convenient and to allow drivers and passengers to provide feedback on each other, thereby improving accountability.
The two major companies that provide rideshare services, Lyft and Uber, have been in the Phoenix area since 2012, making the Valley the 11th service area for Lyft and the 18th for Uber. Upon first coming onto the scene, the rideshare concept has faced some problems due to the lack of regulation typical of taxi drivers and other transportation services, but as of April, Arizona now has laws in place designed specifically for rideshare services. The laws are as follows:
- Rideshare drivers must have $250,000 of liability coverage to take passengers in the vehicle.
- Rideshare companies must perform criminal background checks on drivers
- The companies must inspect the vehicles.
- There is a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use by drivers.
Arizona became the ninth state to pass laws that establish guidelines for rideshare services, with Maryland following soon afterwards. Before the regulation took effect, the companies operated unlicensed and unregulated and drivers were issued citations up to $1,800 when caught providing a rideshare service. The Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, the department that regulates taxi drivers, stated just before the Super Bowl came to town that the citations would cease. Now that regulation is in place, rideshare drivers are free to work without fears of being ticketed.
Upon signing H.B. 2135 into law, Governor Doug Ducey stated that ”ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are already booming businesses-rather than standing in the way of growth, we should be encouraging it.”