Tuesday, December 18, 2007

“Lessons in Online Incorporation”

Online incorporation services proliferate in the internet. The article “Online Incorporation Service Review”, posted in September 25, recounts a business owner’s experience with one of these online incorporation companies that offer and cater to the needs of new businesses.
The article, written by the business owner himself, complained about the high service cost being charged by these online companies on novice businessmen like him. And despite the high charges, most online companies fail to meet the standards of the job.
The article also noted that online incorporation services do not explain or educate clients on legal forms they needed to accomplish in business. As a result, clients feel disappointed, groping for answers to their basic questions about business incorporation. And for new businessmen, who knew less of legal forms, this creates confusion and problems.
In addition, the article pointed out that online incorporation websites failed to give any legal advice to clients and went directly to selling their services like a “package”.
The confusion was fairly illustrated when the businessman purchased the wrong type of incorporation and his lawyer had to undo the process and fix him up with the right corporation. The businessman blamed the high cost of incorporation fee ($150) imposed by the California government as the reason why online incorporation companies continue to exist and operate. These companies allegedly charged lower fees, he added.
In the end, the article recommends that the legal services of a business corporate attorney is a more reliable way than the services of online companies which lack the personal touch of human assistance.

“Certification Process in A Class Action Lawsuit”

We all know that class action lawsuits are related lawsuits bundled together by common cause against a common defendant. In a way, class action lawsuits help unburden courts of working on too many individual lawsuits and save the court its precious time and effort.
But before becoming a class action lawsuit, there are certain requirements and conditions set by law which determine whether cases can be treated collectively in a class action lawsuit. To determine this, individuals in a lawsuit must file a certification request with the court, which will either certify a case, or not.
In California, the court requires that the four elements must be present as provided by Rule 23 (a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to certify a case as a class action lawsuit.
The four elements required are:
  1. if the class is so numerous that “joinder” of all members is impractical
  2. when there are questions of law and fact common to the class
  3. when the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class
  4. when the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interest of the class.
Another thing, the court also set three conditions, one of which must be satisfied to get an approval in certification. These are:
  1. the prosecution of separate actions would create a risk of: (a) inconsistent or varying adjudications or (b) individual adjudications dispositive of the interests of other members not a party to those adjudications; the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class;
  2. the questions of law or fact common to the members of the class predominate over any questions affecting only individual members,
  3. and a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Corrected Steps

I find this article informative and useful, especially for a claimant or his representative. In this article, a new, corrected steps in filing claim for social security disability was presented.
This article titled “Correct Steps for Filing a Social Security Disability Claim”, posted in November, provided a better way of pursuing a claim. It presents a clearer version of guidelines to follow in filing a disability claims.
The article called it “thinking steps”, which are actually reminders in filing a claim. Here is a list some of these considerations:
1. Consider you current work activity – Before filing a claim, one should first determine his monthly gross income. This means, one cannot be eligible to apply for a disability benefit, if his income exceeds a certain amount allowed by law.
2. Find a physician who is willing to do the paperwork required in a disability claim.
3. Write down your complete medical history and all the details related to it.
4. Write down your complete work or employment history within the ‘relevant period’, which is 15 years for social security disability purposes.
Taking all these considerations in mind, applying for the claim is now easier. Where and how can one apply? One can simply contact a local social security office and request for an appointment to apply for a disability. The interview can be conducted over the phone or in person.
Otherwise, one can also apply online, although it would not be as practical as talking to a human representative, especially if you have many questions to ask. In the case of the disability lawyer, you can hire one if he is willing to do the filing for you.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

“Safeguard against Fraudulent worker’s compensations claim”

I just read the article “Ten Tips for Detecting Fraudulent Claims”, posted August 11, which warns workers and employers alike of the dangers of fraudulent claims made against workers’ compensation. The article revealed a disturbing trend among dishonest employees who try to file erroneous claims for compensation.
According to the article, this deceitful practice is causing insurance companies a lot of money, which is in turn passed onto the employer who will pay higher premium. If disregarded, this crime may affect the ability of the agency to further sustain its ability to pay other claims and workers’ benefits.
To detect fraud in claims processing and transaction, the article suggested looking at some following telltale signs:
  • Lack of prompt reporting –when an employee does not immediately report an injury, it is best to review the employee’s record
  • Unclear details – if an employee cannot recall or make a clear description of an accident, it is important to keep more attention to the progress of the report.
  • No witness
  • Discrepancy in story – during investigation, when a person keeps changing his story, it is good reason to suspect fraud.
  • First day of the week claim
  • Disgruntled employee
  • Financial problem at home
  • Employee never answers the phone (at home)
  • Misses medical appointments
  • Engages in activity inconsistent with the injury sustained
The above mentioned hints may be helpful in detecting fraud in compensation claims. The article is informative and useful for both employees and employers alike.

Friday, November 30, 2007

“Fatal Three-Way Collision”

I just read the article “DUI To Blame in Deadly Wildomar California Crash”, posted November 19 which tells the story of the fatal multi-car collision that resulted in the death of three people and caused serious injury to two others.
According to the article, the incident happened while a Mexican couple was on their way home to visit their family. Another car driven by a 19-year old man collided with the couple’s vehicle while another oncoming vehicle rammed the side of the two cars.
The accident resulted in the instant deaths of the Mexican couple, the 19-year old driver of the car, and the driver of the last vehicle in the collision. The two passengers of the third car survived the collision but sustained serious injury to the brain and the spinal cord respectively.
Initial investigation of the police pointed the fault at the Mexican couple but further inquiry revealed that the 19-year old who smashed the couple’s car was found to be drunk while he was driving. The results of the investigation supported witnesses’ accounts that the teenage driver was driving beyond the speed limit, in counter flow to traffic and worse, intoxicated.
This article pointed out that this tragic accident could have been avoided had people listened to the message that “when you drink, don’t drive”, which is clearly violated here. Drunk driving is surely one of the major causes of road accidents and incidents like this continue to rise, which contribute to the increase in wrongful death cases.
This incident proves that road safety is a matter that should not be taken for granted by people. In this lesson, one learns that no matter how safe you drive, when other motorists won’t obey rules, troubles are bound to happen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

“How a Disability Lawyer Assists His Client”

I just read this article, “Using an Attorney to File for Disability”, posted November 22, which pointed out the mistake committed by claimants who submit paper applications, to pursue their benefit claims. The article also noted that submitting a paper application can cause delay in the processing of claims documents. Instead, it advised applicants to apply personally or visit the social security administration website to inquire about application problems.
The article described how busy claims representatives are and to manually type in the information in paper application would take so much of their time. Hence most paper applications are delayed.
The article commented that this process of sending paper applications tend to “disadvantage individuals who apply for disability as well as make life harder for social security employees.” The article also noted how an ordinary employee’s schedule is packed with daily appointment schedules spent mostly on disability applications and retirement claims, along with the burden of attending to walk-in applicants.
The article offered some interesting ideas on how disability lawyers can help their clients getting started on their disability claim:
  • Schedule an interview appointment for the client with the local social security office.
  • Visit the social security administration website and complete form SSA-3368 (the disability report form)
  • Send in several copies of SSA-827 (the medical release form) to social security office, along with the fee agreement and the appointment of representative form (SSA-1696)
By doing this, a disability lawyer can help his client speed up the processing of his paper instead of being dumped into the list of applicants who submitted paper application and awaiting attention.

“Your Unconscious, Unexamined Bias”

The article, ”Can Employers Discriminate Unconsciously?” sheds light on the emerging issue of so-called unconscious bias. The discrimination issue was brought to public attention when colored workers of Wal-Mart and Walgreen filed a discrimination class suit against their employers.
Unconscious or implicit bias is a discriminatory offense, which stems from the assumptions and opinions some people make on others. According to a lawyer at the Center for Work, life Law in California, when these assumptions are unconscious and discriminatory, then it becomes a legal problem.
However, some people argued that there is no such thing as discriminatory bias. At the least, how can one be accused of being discriminatory of something he is unconscious of?
In my opinion, the issue of unconscious bias will generate a big debate on many other issues such as gender and race questions in the workplace. It is perfectly right when employees of WalMart complained that the hiring process of the management is flawed. Workers said managers often prefer white male trainees over the black applicants.
In Walgreen, when managers assigned colored workers to poor stores or stores in black neighborhoods, majority of the employees cried foul. The workers’ protest turned into the multi-million dollar discrimination class suit against Walgreen.
On the other hand, lawyers representing the employers said the accusation could turn into reverse discrimination as their complaints are all biased and based on assumptions.
How can management take an objective look at things?
Experts and lawyers said employers should train employees on how to spot and overcome their biases. In this way, one can determine and control each other’s bias.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is it really worth it to hire a business lawyer?

Have you ever dream of becoming one of the business tycoons in Los Angeles? Are you planning to start your own business? Do you want to achieve a smooth operation of your business?
Now, let me remind you… It’s not that easy as you may think. Putting up a successful business involves a lot of considerations and careful planning in order to do well in the corporate world. Along with this, you have to strictly abide by the laws covering all the aspects of business.
Maybe then, you are wondering how you can be fully adept of these rules with just a short period, minding that the legal matters and terms are not that easy to understand. Definitely, there is a simple way to resolve this issue… Hire an expert business lawyer.
A legal professional with a wide range of knowledge and skills about the Business Law will certainly assure you of having lesser legal worries. He can give you advice in various legal aspects of establishing and managing your own business. That is, if you are willing to invest a small amount money for their fees.
Primarily, it is more beneficial for a businessperson to spend cash to make sure that his company is following all the necessary legal procedures than being sued or penalized for an illegal practice. If law violations have been committed by a company, it may cause the business bigger problems such as employment disputes, civil charges, loss of credibility, and financial losses that may also trigger a closure.
It is wise to consult a lawyer before making any business decision – on its establishment, in your transactions or even handling civil litigations and employment problems. This is because of the fact that all of these are subjected to legal procedures that only a competent business lawyer can manage.
These plenty of reasons summarizes all the importance of hiring a professional lawyer. But still, you have all the options to choose; it is the future of your own business at risk anyway.

Friday, November 23, 2007

“How to Prevent Employment Law Problems”

The article “A Checklist For Preventing Human Resources Problems”, posted February 2007 identifies the common employment law pitfalls committed by management. To prevent lawsuits and employment troubles, a company must have a comprehensive policy that will serve as guidelines for employees. An experienced employment lawyer can help management draft the policy that should also include the employees’ manual. In California, which has a big percentage of employee turnover, employment problems are likely to occur more often.
Here is the checklist for preventing human resources problems:
  • Knowledge of human resources principles – Every member of the organization must be aware of the company policy and human resources principles. It is the responsibility of the human resources manager to ensure that every employee knows the concept.
  • Communications – Appropriate communication is the key to a trouble-free workplace. Good communication must start from the top. However, every employee must perform as expected. They should also know how to resolve issues internally. Open-door policy in communication must be encouraged.
  • Sound employment documents – Before hiring, management must have a clear employment application which does not contain provisions that will be questioned later by employees. Misleading promises must also be avoided. Trade secrets must be kept confidential too.
  • Conduct background check on applicants – Before hiring an employee, the management must have a thorough, if not strict, background check on applicants during pre-employment screening.
  • Employees should be required to undergo discrimination, harassment, and retaliation prevention training.
  • Audit wage-hour record – Employers must conduct a wage-hour audit to prevent complaints. In recent years, many California employers were charged with violations of the labor code and wage-hour regulations. To avoid this, employers should make a classification of its workers and make a wage-hour audit, which must be done with the help of a lawyer.
  • Manage and supervise the leaves of absence and disabilities of employees
  • Make sure that all employee benefit plans comply with the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
  • Urge employees to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement.
These are the important points discussed in the article, which I believe, can help both employers and their workers find industrial peace and harmony.

Friday, November 16, 2007

California Employment Law, a Formidable Employees’ Defense

Speaking of legal issues that arise in our society, it can be said that one of the most challenging case to handle is regarding labor disputes. It seems that we lawyers are being pushed between two big boulders of rocks. Yet, these experiences make us more determined in advocating the cause of those employees who have been deprived of their rights stated under the California Employment Law.

The law is separated in five major divisions that tackle different areas:

  • Division 1 – Department of Industrial Relations
  • Division 2 – Employment Regulation and Supervision
  • Division 3 – Employment Relations
  • Division 4 – Workers’ Compensation and Insurance
  • Division 4.5 - Workers’ Compensation and Insurance: State Employees Not Otherwise Covered

All of these divisions deal with different aspects of employment – ranging from the rights and privileges of the employees to the legal remedies that correspond to certain law violation. In short, the California Employment Law guarantees that all workers are given fair treatment and due benefits for bestowing their services in their respective employers.

Precisely, because of the fact that the California Labor Law has able to detail numerous rights and privileges of the workers, it is not amusing that considerable a number of cases are being filed by the aggrieved employees. This is due to various instances of employment discrimination and violation of the Labor Code.

Now, to tell you the truth, several companies engage in illegal employment practices for various reasons:

  • to lessen their company’s operational cost
  • to hinder their workers from establishing or joining a labor association
  • to compel their workers to increase their production without giving benefits
  • to threaten their workers from revealing their company’s illegal operational procedures such as tax evasion and malpractice

As employees, you must be sure that your employers are following the provisions of the Labor Code. Report any illegal dealings of your employer not just, because you are directly affected by these violations but also because it is your obligation to your fellow workers and to the country. Be not afraid, you can always rely on employment lawyers to protect you from employer retributions.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

“Street Racing As Cause of Fatal Collisions”

I come across a news article, “Street Racing Causes Serious Auto Accidents in Southern California”, posted in October 14 which brings to attention the dangers of street racing in Southern California. The article was based on several newspaper accounts of the young Californians who indulged in their new emerging pastime of car racing.
According to reports, about 100 Californians die each year as a result of their involvement in street racing. Most of the fatalities are teenagers – the youngest at 14 -who barely had the experience handling the wheel. Authorities are baffled on how to control the operation of illegal race circuits.
The race participants allegedly used secluded streets and remote areas to stage their races. Recently the police reported that the drag races are now conducted on city streets, specifically on the wide roadways in the San Fernando Valley and right in South Orange County. But the dangers posed by these races are not only aimed at the participants but more on the innocent by-standers who become unwilling victims of these reckless drivers.
According to the reports, most of the victims suffered from major injuries caused by automobile collisions. Brain injury and spinal cord injury are only two of the major injuries a victim may sustain in an automobile collision.
Having read this article in a blog website, I hope more people will show concern for the safety of our young people and call the attention of the authorities in southern California to curb the illegal drag racing activities in the place.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

“10 News Myths about Bike Crashes”

I just read this blog article, “Top Ten Things News Gets Wrong About Crash Reports”, which enumerates the mistakes made by journalists who report about bike crashes. In the article, the writer pointed out the erroneous way some journalists present their stories about bike accidents. The article was written in response to series of reports written in the Oregonian, in March 2006.

Here is the list of ten mistakes committed by reporters who write news using wrong information and misimpressions about biking:

1. Failure to include speeds in the report. – Journalists fail to mention if a car or bike is speeding in the report, relative to the crash.

2. Failure to mention distracted or sleepy driving. – Drowsiness is one of the causes of bike crashes but reporters fail to mention cell phone use, drunk driving, and other deadly causes of accidents.

3. Failure to mention bike lane violation – Journalist must know that cyclists are allowed by law to use outside lane for various reasons (turning to avoid dirt pile or holes, etc.)

4. Mentioning that the cyclist was not in a bike lane when there was no bike lane on the road.

5. Noting that the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk, when she was, in fact, in an unmarked crosswalk

6. Calling “crashes” accidents, instead of crashes.

7. Repeating driver claims that “the driver did not see the cyclist/pedestrian” or that the cyclist or pedestrian “darted out”.

8. Noting the pedestrian was over the legal limit for alcohol use.

9. Talking about people’s choices of clothes - Reports focus more on the clothes worn by cyclists in accidents but fail to report on safety markings that should be placed on vehicles.

10. Mentioning information about helmet use, unnecessarily

Therefore, in writing news reports, journalists must be careful with facts and present their stories truthfully.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Schools near freeways: A time-bomb waiting to happen?

According to an article in the L.A. Times, the Los Angeles Unified School District is in the process of adding seven new schools to the more than 70 already near highways, despite a state law prohibiting it and evidence that road pollutants are harming children’s lungs.
The article "Schools still rise close to freeways", which appeared in the newspaper’s online version on September 24, quoted scientists from both UCLA and USC who have been studying the effects of freeway contaminants to the health and found that they are significant.
It added that children who reside near freeways are more likely to suffer from diminished lung function compared to those who don’t. These findings are further bolstered by the findings of a study by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which found an increased incidence of asthma and bronchitis among San Francisco Bay Area children who went to schools near major highways.
Under a 2003 state law, school districts are barred from building sites within 500 feet of a freeway, unless it can mitigate the pollution or that there are no other options.
Given these facts, one may question the policy behind the continued preference of areas near freeways as school sites despite the hazards. According to Los Angeles officials, their choices have become “more and more limited.”
How do authorities limit their choices in this case? This is really a choice between finding a more suitable place over compromising the health of our children.
Are we waiting for a child to actually get seriously hurt before we put a stop to this geographical malady? If this time-bomb explodes, trial lawyers will get a field day in holding those responsible liable to the would-be victims.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Looking For the Prospective Accident Lawyer?

“What You Need to Know Before You Hire an Accident Lawyer” is a guideline on how to engage the services of a lawyer in case of an accident. The article carefully outlines the steps in hiring an accident lawyer, including information on the insurance system and how to preserve evidence.
I think one of the most important parts of the article is the one on deadlines. The article reminded readers about the importance of the statute of limitation in accident cases, which varies depending on state laws. I believe in other cases, some accident victims delay the filing of a claim until they find out that it is too late and regret it.
It also explained briefly the process of litigation and what clients are expected to do to help their lawyers. Another thing, it mentioned the importance of certain pieces of evidence needed to build a strong case.
As added information, the article discussed the process of hiring an accident lawyer, including the questions to be asked and the legal fees to be paid by a client. The article may look like a long lecture on the hiring of accident lawyers but it provided a wealth of information and advice to readers.
Moreover, the article advises clients on how to negotiate claims with insurance companies. Clients are advised not to give up in the negotiations and to stick to their demands. The article is lengthy but largely, it is informative and takes the reader in the reality of negotiations among insurance men, claimants, and the accident lawyer.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Disastrous Bicycle Accident Story

This is a brief story of a bicycle accident case I am recently holding that involves a young man who is fond of trekking the busy streets of Los Angeles with his bike. He suffered from spine injury due to an intense hit by a car that threw him near the road gutter. This is his accounts. (I opted not to indicate the particular place where it happened to secure my client's identity)
It was around four o’clock in the afternoon; I am on my way home with a pack of donuts for my younger sister. I am riding on my bike near the ______ crossing when a car on the other side of the street makes a sudden turn to the left. I do admit it… I was traveling fast but it was clear that the green light is on.
I do not remember what happened next. I just see myself the next morning, lying on a hospital bed with a hard thing that prevented me to move. Only then, I knew that the car has hit me and threw me on the side when my mom explained to me what had happened.
This young man is crying while he is telling his story. I was upset when I heard that the car driver did not do anything to help him with the hospital bills. My client has undergone a surgery and still going through a thorough strenuous rehabilitation to at least bring back his capability to stand.
Now, his case is still pending in court. However, I am very much confident that we have a strong bicycle accident claim against the unruly driver. Thanks to our two witnesses who agreed to testify on behalf of my client. If the court will accept their testimony, along with our other evidences, my client will be able to obtain justice and recover substantial amount of damages from the other party.
As for the moment, I asked him to continue his treatment while I make sure that the car driver will be accountable for his aggressiveness.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Prohibiting the Use of Cell Phones while Driving

The count down timer is set for those teenagers who are fond of using their cell phones. Just recently, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a law banning the teens of making use of their cell phones while driving their cars. This law covers all drivers under the age of eighteen or those who are carrying provisional driver’s license.
According to this cellphone ban law, all of those who will be caught for violation will be fined $20 for their first offense and higher penalties for the succeeding violations. However, the California Highway Patrol operatives affirmed that they would try to direct their efforts in educating the teenagers rather than to apprehend them.
Similar law has also been implemented lately for adult drivers. However, they are still allowed to use their cell phones if they utilize hands-free devices in making a call. The lawmakers explained that adult drivers should be given such consideration before the law because they are deemed more responsible and cautious compared to teenagers.
Now, I do believe that these laws, upon its implementation, will lessen the accounts of car accidents on our roads and highways. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also affirmed those motorists who are using hand held phones have 400% greater possibility of being involved in an injury causing accident.
It is a fact that handling the driver’s wheel and dialing a cell phone makes driving more difficult and risky. This performance may affect the driver’s concentration and may result in a tragedy.
Meanwhile along with these legislative efforts made by the government in order to lessen the risks of accidents, we have the obligation to be extra careful in driving. We must always consider the people who might be affected due to our failure to abide the traffic rules.
As for the already victims of these unfortunate incidents, it is always your privilege to defend your right and file charges against the liable parties. Seek the aid of car accident lawyers whom you trust and assure recoveries.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Real Score In Quality Testing

The article “Child Safety In Car Accidents: Los Angeles Lawyers Call For Stricter Safety Standards”, posted in January 2007 calling for a review on laws for the safety standards of child safety seats in cars should become a cause of concern for many of us, even for those without children to drive with. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, which conducted the tests, only two out of the twelve models presented, passed their standards and are fit to be used by consumers.
The revelation that many of the child safety seats being sold in the market today fail safety quality standards is quite alarming. I cannot even imagine seeing a child or a baby in a car that crashes even at low speed and discover the inefficiency of the safety seat during the crash.
Protesting lawyers put the blame on the limited testing undertaken by government to test the quality standards of child safety seats. They claimed the test failed to achieve its goal, as the safety seats were tested only in 30mph front end collisions, when we know for sure that most car accidents happen under extreme conditions at high speed. In this respect, the tests conducted failed to determine the real conditions during car accidents and what child safety seats can really do.
Despite this, I still find consolation in the report that said child safety seats have been responsible for the safety of many children in most car crash accidents. However, I would still recommend the recall of the products from the market. The sooner they are taken out, the better the chances of survival for our car-riding children and babies.

Client Power: To Hire, To Fire

I just come across this blog article “Be Wise Enough To Hire the Right Legal Services” and found it interesting, insightful, and informative. The article urges you to take a closer look at lawyers before taking up the services they offer. It also offers suggestions on how to scrutinize a lawyer’s credentials and ability.
One interesting advice from the article says that it is often reliable to ask about a lawyer’s background through his former clients and colleagues. I find this piece of information very valuable. As a non-lawyer who sometimes have legal questions in mind, this article gave me some knowledge on how to hire the right legal service for a particular issue or case. He is right in pointing out that clients often fail to determine their case before seeking the services of a lawyer, hence they often fail.
Through this article, a reader will learn some mistakes that most clients often commit. I believe that if there is one error that clients are prone to commit: it is the rashness in choosing a lawyer.
The article also gives the reader the power to choose over the legal services that he wants to hire, depending on his needs and concern.
I agree with the writer of the article that lawyers have their own areas of specialization and they should be hired according to their knowledge, experience, and abilities. By hiring the right lawyer, a client has better chances of success in his case.
In the end, hiring the appropriate lawyer for the job will also help determine the outcome of a case. And, I believe the power to hire and fire lies in the hands of a client.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In searching for the best accident attorney

One of the greatest mistakes that most injured victims can make is hiring an incompetent accident lawyer to assist them in pursuing their cases. Doing this will just lessen their chances of winning and put their money and efforts into wastes.
In his article, Paul Steven imparts some tips that may help injured accident victims in finding the right lawyer for their cases. He have mentioned these five qualities, which I also agree to be effective – knowledge, application skills, ability to negotiate, friendly and approachable and being sincere. It is true that if you have been involved in an accident and you were able to follow these tips, you might as well increase your chances of obtaining justice.
Now, maybe you are asking how you can determine if an accident attorney fits these qualities. Well, I think there are many possible ways but of all these, the most effective method is done through proper questioning or interviews.
You can ask an accident attorney of these questions before employing him to be your legal advocate.
  1. Have long have you been practicing law?
  2. Are you duly licensed to practice in California?
  3. Do you have expertise in handling accident claims?
  4. How many cases have you won/lose for your former clients?
  5. Can you provide me a list of your former clients as my references?
  6. Are you affiliated in any prestigious law firm or legal organizations?
  7. Will you be the only attorney to work on with my case?
  8. What problems do you see in my injury claim?
  9. What steps will you do to strengthen my case?
  10. What will be my role in pursuing the case?
  11. How often will you give me an update of my case?
  12. How long will my case be settled?
  13. How will I pay your professional fees? Is it on a contingent basis?
  14. Do I still have to pay retainer fees?
In choosing the best accident attorney, an injured victim must be critical and wise enough. They should make sure that they are working with the finest advocate to ensure that their rights are properly defended.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What’s So Frivolous About Severe Burns?

Yes, whenever I buy coffee from McDonald’s, true enough my tongue feels burnt for at least one whole day but I thought it was just a passable complaint. The McDonald’s coffee case however was widely heard in the media and most shared the same sentiment: we live in such a silly world! Some who just heard it by word of mouth thought it was just a fabricated gossip but this is a real case. Critics of civil justice continue to mock this case but there is more than what the media covered. The civil justice system and facts of the case are definitely no laughing matter
According to Wall Street Journal, Liebeck suffered third degree burns over 6 percent of her body, burns on her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and groin areas. She was hospitalized and underwent skin grafting and debridement treatments. She initially sought $20,000 but McDonald’s refused.
McDonald’s produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee from 1982 to 1992! The fast food chain’s own quality assurance manager testified that a burn hazard exists and McDonald’s coffee was not fit for consumption. McDonald’s also promised to do a market testing but failed to keep it.
Liebeck was awarded $200,000 in compensatory damages which was reduced to $160,000 because somehow the plaintiff was a little responsible for the spill. The jury awarded her $2.7 million to punish McDonald’s but consequently reduced it to $480,000 for a total verdict of around $600,000. Liebeck’s litigation attorney is quite a catch!
What is so frivolous about the case? Liebeck suffered severe burns and rightly so she deserves $200,000. The rest of the total amount is just bonus on her part I suppose for putting the case forth because the purpose of the punitive damages is to punish McDonald’s for its negligence .
This is no laughing matter. If a cup of coffee harshly burns your body, I don’t think you’d still be able to laugh. And with the case’s long trial process, I believe we still have a justice system that functions pretty well. The system still checks and limits the amount of damages one receives based on injury suffered, its nature and degree to compensation just and fair.

Warning: Consult Before Signing Binding Arbitration Agreements!

My client was involved in a car accident months ago and unfortunately sustained permanent injury on his spine. Because of this, he decided to file a lawsuit to recover damages from the negligent driver. To prove his claim he was required to undergo physical examination. He asked around and found a respected doctor in his community but when he appeared for appointment several weeks later, he was overwhelmed by the documents he needed to fill out and sign.
He admits he couldn’t understand some of the legal statements so without first consulting me as his lawyer just like most clients he recklessly signed all of the papers, including a binding arbitration agreement. What was it; he didn’t know until he was somehow forced to go through the whole mediation process.
By common knowledge, arbitration is often resorted to, to avoid the long and inconvenient process of a jury trial. Through mediation, both parties come into an agreement favorable to both instead of a full blown trial with a winner and loser. However, my client has experienced it first hand and he can attest that there is secret business brewing behind this seemingly simple binding arbitration agreement.
The lawyer representing the defendant negligent driver told me he would pay $80,000 to settle the case if his client consents. Unfortunately, the driver refused so the case proceeded to binding arbitration. The defendant surprisingly agreed that the injury was caused by his negligence! But the “neutral” arbitrator only agreed to an award of $70,000 or else he was going to vote against my client!
Generally, arbitrators award lesser damages than a jury would because the former expects repeat business with its main source of income: insurance companies.
It was a smart ass move on the part of the “neutral” because he was fair in both returning my client’s award and bringing the amount lesser than the defense lawyer was willing to pay. With this, no doubt the insurance carrier would be pleased with the result. They would surely be anxious to utilize the arbitrator’s services in the future.
My client paid my lawyer’s fees, party arbitrator, and neutral arbitrator. He netted less than $35,000 for a permanent injury on his spine. The aforementioned article states that arbitration is less costly than trial but truth of the matter is my client suffered serious consequences by waiving his Constitutional right to a jury trial without completely understanding the paperwork.
If you are going to a doctor’s office, make sure you discuss all matters with your doctor and lawyer. There are a lot of CA trial lawyers specializing in personal injuries to help you in the event you find yourself needing to make a claim.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Road Accident Alert!

Vehicular accidents are fortuitous events that can happen to anyone. These can be avoided though by the exercise of due diligence. And in this free world we’re living in, rubbing shoulders with peasants and Kings along public streets on a typical day, it is just sensible that every one is demanded due care from and at the same time protected by the law against negligence.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young persons aged 16 to 20. Yearly, over 6,327 persons aged 16 to 20 are involved in fatal crashes and this figure continues to increase.
There are various car accident causes we should be wary of:
  • DUI (Driving Under the Influence of alcohol) – The NSDUH report also states that in 2002 and 2003, more than 4 million persons (21 percent) aged 16 to 20 reported DUI involving either alcohol or elicit drugs. Be a defensive driver and avoid frequenting streets during ungodly hours of the night. The dangerous and scary fact of DUI is it can victimize careful and sober unsuspecting drivers.
  • Aggressive / poor driving skills – As mentioned above, defensive driving is recommended. It is going beyond mastery of road rules and basic mechanics of driving. It’s anticipation of dangerous situations despite adverse mistakes of other drivers or adverse conditions. There are general rules and specific driving techniques one should develop a habit of.
  • Vehicle engine failure – Automobiles should have a monthly service checkup to make sure that they can safely cruise around public roads.
  • Cellular phone misuse – California has recently enacted the cell phone act ban which prohibits drivers from using their mobile phones and gadgets while driving. Distraction like this and rubbernecking proves to play tremendous part in heavy traffic and frequent accidents.
No one is exempted from car accidents; anyone and anything can get involved. Protect and familiarize yourself of the steps you can take when an accident takes place. You can also consult a lawyer and file a California personal injury claims should you sustain any kind of bodily harm.

Can Nurses Be Liable For Wrongful Death?

Fred Stein, an 89 year old billionaire with Parkinson’s disease, dies of suspected Stalevo overdose as claimed by the former’s daughter and relatives last August 3, 2007. Stein’s daughter Liza has filed a lawsuit against the former’s caregiver-turned-surviving-wife Norma Stein, arguing that the latter caused the Wrongful Death and Elder Abuse against her father.
Liza and her Los Angeles Litigation Attorney insist that Norma should not only be disqualified from her father’s testate succession, but also be held liable for damages. Norma contends that she exercised due care and was not at all negligent. Liza again claims that Norma wanted her father’s quick death to speed up the probate hearings.
It appears that Norma prepared Fred’s medicines everyday and neglected the prior prescription of her husband’s doctor. Dr. Rosenberg earlier advised Fred to take Stalevo to influence his Parkinson’s disease instead of his previous medicine, Comtan. Fred’s system however failed to respond to Stalevo, so Dr. Rosenberg then recommended a lower dose of Stalevo and Comtan for a week of observation.
Norma let Fred take a high dose of Stalevo and Comtan everyday. Whether it was intentional or negligent on her part is yet to be proven. Fred had a severe heart attack in the morning of August 3 and overdose is the suspected cause of the cardiac arrest. Norma is a member of an expensive nursing home and agency in Los Angeles.
Is it true that nursing homes are all about money-making rather than real advocacy of genuine health care? This appalling article says so. What’s maddening is the appeals court’s refusal to hold said nursing home liable financially to Arlene’s death. Nursing homes guarantee valuable protection and care over our loved ones and should they fall under reasonable standards they should definitely be held responsible.
This gross negligence involves not only physical but also emotional distress among family members – it is but just that wrongdoers be held liable for compensatory and punitive damages. The Stein case is currently pending in court.

Car Rental or Loss of Use: Know What’s Best For You

My friend Marvin was recently involved in a car accident; unfortunately the fault was his thus, his insurance has to cover both the expenses of his car damage and the other party’s. Thankfully, he secured and is capable of maintaining an expensive insurance. Hence, the company agreed to cover the accident’s costly claims, which includes car repair and rental reimbursement or loss of use for both parties since he was at fault. This is impressive given that Marvin drives a luxury car.
The only flaw I noticed in this whole deal is the short length of time the insurance company agreed to cover rental reimbursement or loss of use. The company promised a month of insurance even if the car repair, estimated through the degree of damage the car sustained, requires at least three months of full revamping. However, Marvin’s car accident lawyer overturned said decision and was successful in its negotiation with the insurance company.
Car rental reimbursement is actually not synonymous to loss of use according to this article . Insurance companies usually cover rental car reimbursement or loss of use if the insured doesn’t rent a car within an approved duration of time.
An insured has a choice between a car rental with exactly the same model as his or a loss of use claim, which is calculated at around $20 a day. In other words, the insured cannot claim both at the same time (day).
Marvin’s lawyer demanded that his client receive loss of use expense for a longer duration of time, which is for three months, given that the insurance company was willing to reimburse an expensive car rental of a luxury car for a month. Fortunately, the insurance company agreed.
It was such a smart move! Marvin didn’t have to shell out money to rent a car for the supposed two months the auto insurance earlier refused to cover. Instead, he collected a smaller amount of money per day under the loss of use claim to extend the duration the insurance company approves to cover and rented a cheaper car for three months.
If you encounter auto accidents, it is wise to avail of legal services to help you get the best deal in all kinds of transactions.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

$20 For A Possible Car Crash?

Unfortunately, according to car accident statistics, a person dies in a vehicle crash every 12 minutes in the US and such is the leading cause of death for Americans 35 years and younger. Due to this demoralizing report, advocacy groups continue to create stronger, more vehicle safety standards with the goal of improving driver awareness among other key measures to reduce car accident statistics.
In urban areas, statistics show that car accidents are mostly influenced by the distraction use of cell phones while driving brings. The increase in cell phone usage appears to be a significant contributor to higher car accident statistics; hence, the birth of a law which prohibits all drivers from using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving comes forth .
There are enacted laws restricting the use of wireless communication devices by all drivers but will they be effective in combating driver negligence? Under the law, drivers who violate the cell phone ban would face a $20 fine for a first-time offense, and a $50 fine for any repeat violation of the law. Operative human discipline proves to involve adequate positive and negative reinforcements. That being said, is a $20 or $50 fine considerable enough to discourage drivers from using cell phones behind the wheel?
It appears that distraction from cell phone use while driving is fatal – both for the offender and the common public thus, I think this prohibition merits a larger penalty from violators. If you beat a red light, a looming $350 fine is imposed… what makes utter negligence of cell phone use behind the wheel any different, or evil lesser?
Car accident claims and lawsuits are the most common type of civil tort case filed by attorneys today. Except for states with no-fault laws, car accident cases are litigated under general negligence principles. The attorney for the plaintiff in a car accident files a lawsuit in court and is required to prove that the defendant was negligent and that the negligence, like cell phone use while driving, was the proximate cause of the accident. Damages are nowhere near $20 or $50.
Car accident causes, especially mindless distractions like cell phone use or rubbernecking, should be eliminated effectively, through commensurate violation = penalty measures which would actually discourage people from continuing their old, careless driving habits.

The Preventable Risk of Heedless Guilty Pleas

The American legal system is designed to accommodate both substantive and procedural due process - the respect of a person’s legal rights to guarantee him of fundamental fairness, justice, and liberty. The law affords a person the right to defend himself in court; in fact, regardless of all calculated assumption or evidence, a person is deemed innocent until or unless proven guilty (in criminal cases, beyond reasonable doubt).
So why on earth would anyone plead guilty at the outset of a legal lawsuit?
The overwhelming majority of criminal cases in the US, over 90% are resolved through guilty pleas rather than trials. In a host of these cases, due to poor representation or ill advice from their lawyer, defendants plead guilty without considering whether they have a winnable case or not http://writ.news.findlaw.com/lazarus/20070913.html . Reasons include Panic and/or allegedly poor legal advice, which unfortunately result to verdicts lesser favorable than what could possibly a good ruling.
Defendants face a choice between 1. risking a harsh sentence by taking a borderline case to trial and 2. guaranteeing themselves relative leniency by pleading guilty to a subset of charges against them. They most of the time do not understand the case and are entirely guided by defense counsels, who often are confused by juggling tremendously overwhelming caseloads all at the same time. Apparently, these decisions post significant and perhaps, lifetime risks that’s why if your person is on the line, a competent lawyer is a must!
The Craig and McTiernan stories told in the aforementioned article serve as useful reminders that this legal system involves plenty of sausage-making behind the scenes. To successfully understand and navigate through a case an aggressive, smart lawyer could utilize the ingenuity of guilty pleas, of bargaining, and one can expect him to deliver rough justice amidst the pressures on both the prosecutors and defendants. Yes, the high and mighty may be subject to these vagaries but careful, intelligent analysis – from a brilliant and outstanding lawyer of course - can seriously lower the risk of legal blunders.

From Which Side of the State – Church Separation Wall

The Constitution has clearly marked the separation of state and church in the Establishment Clause found in the First Amendment. This intends to prohibit the federal government from declaring and financially supporting a national religion – an age-old practice done upon founding of a nation. While it is only fair that there is no “one sect” that receives larger favors and amounts of benefits, there is still a line between directly supporting a certain religious mission and supporting a general advocacy driven by some religious organizations.
When a religion is involved in a government sponsored campaign, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the government funds go directly to such religion. The goals and objectives of a government operation must be unambiguously declared so as not to stir confusion.
For instance, there have been important developments involving Law and Religion during the summer: a Supreme Court decision strengthening precedence and a settlement of more than just money from reported clergy abuse http://writ.news.findlaw.com/hamilton/20070906.html . There are conflicting viewpoints regarding the issues but the truth of the matter is, challenging government actions benefiting religion and involving taxpayer funds would be a setback to an opportunity for public education on crucial, hidden matters and a movement that has transcended from its historically religious roots to a more general subject.
The taxpayer undoubtedly has the legal standing to question executive spending where the funds were taken from general executive funds but the parameters around this Establishment Clause permits were definitely tightened. In Los Angeles, the Archdiocese was required to release documents to the public involving its knowledge of the predatory habits of its employees and clergy. This will reap precious public knowledge about truth in society and church. Through this Archdiocese settlement, the Child Victims Act was passed by the legislature to cover for the vast majority of claims barred by the statutes of limitation.
In California, victims abused within the Catholic system were given a window to file lawsuits by the suspension of the statute of limitation along with those who filed suits against Boy Scouts, the Explorers, the Seventh Day Adventists and others. This has very little to do with religion. A child victim may now put forth his / her legal rights through a Los Angeles Attorney under the abolished child sex abuse statute of limitation. In Delaware, the Child Victims Act can be invoked.
True, the Establishment Clause is placed on the Constitution’s First Amendment for a reason and this is not to be infringed. However, government actions – very beneficial and common-to-public ones that have but little to do with religion should not be thwarted by the wall of separation between church and state.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Workers Compensation Law Disregards Pain And Suffering

Hierarchy has been an age-old system and not only does it continue to fuel the world today, it exists in every nook and cranny, in various nature and degree of our daily lives. Inevitably, every chain of command comes with the tendency of those above to abuse power. We often hear it at the end of the day – bosses make our lives both delightful and miserable.
The Workers Compensation Law is commendable for promoting the rights of those who come from the lower side of the chain: the common employee. This law awards workers of different benefits they deserve for their praiseworthy sweat, toil, and dedication.
However, Workers Compensation seems seriously limited for my taste, especially discriminating to the worker risking his life and limb for the job. Yes, he is entitled to several benefits but when it comes to construction accidents, it can be quite disparaging as medical treatment usually comes slow and deficient. During recovery, the injured worker also receives reduced pay and unlike other cases, pain and sufferings, which he may want to claim, are generally not covered by this law http://www.californiainjurylawyerblog.com/2007/07/construction_accidents_cause_s.html.
If the injured worker suffers a “permanent partial disability,” he may be entitled to receive a lump sum for the percentage any permanent disability he suffers. Each state has a different disability formula and the amount of the settlement depends on the doctor’s findings and income at the time of injury. It is wise to consult your California Court Attorney to determine the calculations of your benefit if you incurred this kind of injury.
Fault and negligence of the employer are immaterial under the Workers Compensation law but though the worker’s rights are an absolute remedy against the employer, it doesn’t exempt other involved companies or persons working, who may have been the actual cause or part of the accident. That’s just sensible but in case of companies or persons other than the employer, pain and suffering damages may be claimed.
I understand that the Workers Compensation law aims to protect employees while careful not to exploit employers but why remove the rights to recover pain and suffering damages from the former when the law actually recognizes its existence in other cases? What makes employers exempt from liability for the pain and sufferings of their very employees?
The Workers Compensation Law is a progressive step towards justice but since we are aiming for perfection and common good, more beneficial measures must be put into force so that those who have less truly receive more of the law.

Expensive Insurance, Meager Rewards? Go For A Full Blown Trial

It is a fact that though we allocate huge amounts of our earnings to insurance, to secure our persons and properties, we often rack up benefits less than what we need and deserve. Do you remember having heard of a truly satisfactory and not just barely acceptable true story about insurance claims? Barely. Nothing’s unusual about an insured paying lump sums of money because his insurer fails to compensate him of fair and reasonable premiums.
We have to remember that insurance companies make money by the absence, or not paying, of claims. According to the article entitled Taking Aim at Insurance Company Gouging the insurance industry has aggregated large amounts of money profit by evading payment of legitimate personal injury claims. It is estimated that around $60 billion of after-tax profit has boomed from the $48.8 billion record of 2005, which previously broke the $40.5 billion record of 2004.
Voila! The percentage of premiums paid out for claims dropped from around 75% in 1980’s to an astounding 60%. Now who’s surprised?
The maddening part though is not exactly that – the government has enacted the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act that subsidized the insurance industry to around $7 billion! The Congress should definitely abolish the act and push its expiration this year.
It is utterly revolting to put the blame on trial lawyers and clients as the source of increasing premiums. The insurance industry’s power remains unchecked, should be thoroughly reviewed and addressed through fair regulation to minimize room for insurance payment evasion. The middle class is the biggest victim in this greed as it continues to burden rising premiums.
Los Angeles Lawyers promote taking civil cases to trial instead of agreeing to settle in mediation, if necessary just to get reasonable compensation for their clients. Insurance companies engage in bad faith practices to reduce claims. Lawyers are now unafraid of costly cases taken to trial for insurance companies to reconsider how they should handle legitimate claims.