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.