Should You Have an Attorney Look Over Your Contract?
Many people never think of using a lawyer in a real estate transaction. But having a lawyer on your side is very important in any legal matter. Especially those that have hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line.
You shouldn't sign any purchase contract that doesn't say "this contract is subject to the approval of my attorney."
You should wait and have your lawyer review the contract before you sign it, but I understand that in real estate, you sometimes don't have time. In the past few years, many homebuyers have had to make a quick decision when it comes to making an offer n a home. Or you may be a seller who has a time limit to accept the offer.
When you make the offer subject to your attorney's approval, you are saying that the contract is not valid until your lawyer okays it.
In most cases, you have a few days for your lawyer to review the contract. For example, in New Jersey, ever real estate sales contract is subject to attorney's review within five days of acceptance.
You aren't asking for validation of the price you plan to buy or sell at -- that is for the appraiser. You are simply asking the lawyer to make sure that the contract's wording protects you. You need to also understand what you are committing to.
Once the contract is legal, you can either keep your lawyer on board or not. In some states, a lawyer will stay with the transaction all the way to closing. In my opinion, it is a good idea to have a lawyer with you at closing. There are tons of legal papers to sign and you will need to have someone really explain them to you. The lawyer can really be helpful.
In other areas, closing is mostly handled by escrow agents, title companies and lending institutions. But you can still bring representation with you to help review the paperwork. It is sometimes nice to have a second set of eyes checking the paperwork.
There are many ways a lawyer can help you avoid potential problems. For example, you may have failed to notice, and the Realtor didn't point out, that your contract to purchase the property did not include an inspection contingency. Without an inspection, you may be purchasing a home riddled with problems. Even if you find the problems before closing, there is no way out without forfeiting your deposit on the property.
If you are a seller, you may have not noticed that the closing date wasn't written in. Or perhaps you were given a verbal from the buyer as to the date his bank expects to close on. Your lawyer may point out that without a set closing date, the property could be in limbo for a long time. For example, on the sale of our first home, the buyer and his bank set five different closing dates, moving them back and forth. We finally closed the day after bringing our newborn home from the hospital. We were supposed to close three weeks later, but there was no set closing date in writing.
The thing is -- lawyers see things that we don't. They like to prepare for the worst. They will see the worst case scenario. That is exactly what you want to be prepared for.
This article courtesy of http://www.mentzlaw.com.
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* Government Statistics on Legal Verdicts and Jury Awards - $ U.S. district courts terminated approximately 512,000 civil cases during fiscal years 2002-03. Nearly 20% or 98,786 of these cases were torts in which plaintiffs claimed injury, loss, or damage from a defendant’s negligent or intentional acts. $ Of the 98,786 tort cases terminated in U.S. district courts in 2002-03, about 2% or 1,647 cases were decided by a bench or jury trial. $ An estimated 9 out of 10 tort trials involved personal injury issues C most frequently, product liability, motor vehicle (accident), marine, and medical malpractice cases. $ Juries decided about 71% of all tort cases brought to trial in U.S. district courts; judges adjudicated the remaining 29%. $ Plaintiffs won in 48% of tort trials terminated in U.S. district courts in 2002-03. Plaintiffs won less frequently in medical malpractice (37%) and product liability (34%) trials. $ Eighty-four percent of plaintiff winners received monetary damages with an estimated median award of $201,000. $ Plaintiffs won more often in bench (54%) than in jury (46%) tort trials. The estimated median damage awards were higher in jury ($244,000) than in bench ($150,000) tort trials.
April 2006 - A Jury in New Jersey found last week that Vioxx significantly contributed to a 77-year-old man's heart attack awarded him $9 million in punitive damages yesterday, raising Merck & Co.'s liability in the case to $13.5 million and intensifying pressure on it to settle such lawsuits.
Example of Personal Injury Case 2004 : Ford Explorer rollover-prone and roof not crash safe and worthy- CASE TYPE : Product Design Defect, Auto Truck Vehicle - SUV,
Motor Vehicle – Rollover CASE : Buell-Wilson v. Ford Motor Co., San Diego Co.,
Calif., Super. Ct. GIC 800836 Los Angeles, Calif.
JURY VERDICT: $369,000,000 (369 Millions Dolalrs
2005 - In what may be one of the biggest massive medical malpractice tort verdicts in the state of Texas, a state jury awarded $606 million - including a remarkable $ 600 million dollars in punitive damages - to the family of an 82-year-old patient who had cancer and then who died after receiving an overdose of chemotherapy drugs.
2005 - In the 9th big loss for Ford in SUV Explorer rollover cases, a Florida jury awarded $61.2 million to the parents of an 18-year-old boy who was killed in a 1997 (wrongful death & Product Defect and Product Liability Issues)
Example of Personal Injury Lawyer Case 2004 : Dodge Caravan seatback collapsed on baby in a car-seat - CASE TYPE : Automobiles, Products Liability -
Product Design Defect, Wrongful Death, Motor Vehicle -
Rear-ender, Motor Vehicle - Passenger, Motor Vehicle - Minivan
CASE : Flax v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., Davidson Co., Tenn., Cir. Ct. O2C-1288
JURY VERDICT : $105,500,000 (105 Million Dollars
2005 – Billion Dollar Verdicts - In one of 2005's largest verdicts to an individual plaintiff regarding financial fraud , a Florida jury ordered Morgan Stanley Broker Dealer to pay $1.45 billion to investor Ronald O. Perelman for defrauding him in the sale of his camping gear company - Coleman.
2005 - February, a prominent Houston law firm and a Texas bank were SMACKED and Beaten with a $65.5 million verdict in a highly complex estate planning case that involved major problems and conflicts of interest. (65 million dollar jury award)
2005 – 3 years after a jury acquitted a company in Florida of manslaughter and criminal charges, a Florida civil jury SLAMMED the outdoor advertiser with a $65 million jury award verdict for the shock and electrocution of a sixth-grade boy.
Age Discrimination - In December, a Los Angeles California jury found that PrivatAir - an aviation company focusing on private airline services - wrongfully fired Captain Doyle D. Baker on the basis of his age, defaming him in the termination process and causing extreme emotional distress.
Punitive damages serve a number of important functions which—despite a few horror stories, which are themselves either apocryphal or overturned in the courts, the functions remain valid and in the public interest. Persons causing great harm—persons deliberately or with gross negligence causing great harm should not view paying damages as merely a cost of doing business, a cost that might fit neatly into a risk analysis of wrongdoing. That is what happened in the Ford Pinto case in which the cost of paying claims to victims of a known deadly hazard was deemed less than the cost to retool the assembly line, and thus the hazard was maintained knowing full well that further people—more people would be injured or killed.
This is the purpose of punitive damages, to punish this kind of egregious wrongdoing, and to deter, to be a deterrent to such conduct. It is not immediately clear why a deterrent—or the necessity of the deterrent should bear any great relationship to the amount of actual damages in a given case. There is nothing wrong and indeed something highly desirable in maintaining this disincentive to wrongdoing in an appropriate relationship to the harm and the conduct of the tort-feasor. This trend has led one commentator to suggest that ''[p]unitive damages have replaced baseball as our national sport.'' Theodore B. Olson, Rule of Law: The Dangerous National Sport of Punitive Damages, Wall St. J., Oct. 5, 1994, at A17. See also Malcolm E. Wheeler, A Proposal for Further Common Law Development of the Use of Punitive Damages in Modern Products Liability Litigation, 40 Ala. L. Rev. 919, 919 (1989) (''Today, hardly a month goes by without a multimillion-dollar punitive damages verdict in a product liability case.'').