Monday, December 29, 2008

Discrimination based on Mental Disability and Impairment

Having a disability is difficult enough for anyone and being discriminated at work because of one’s medical condition makes it even worse. Similarly, disability discrimination is also an unlawful practice that has corresponding penalty under the law.

Consequently, taking unlawful advantage of one’s medical disorder at work is prohibited by law. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enumerate the medical conditions that qualify as disabilities, and hence, must not be used as basis to discriminate people.

These include the neurological disorder called Tourette syndrome. Tourette syndrome and other similar neurological conditions qualify as a disability under the law. As defined by the ADA, mental impairment means “any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or specific learning disabilities”.

People with mental disability comprise a substantial part of the country’s population. In fact, nearly 4.56 million people are recognized as having mental retardation and developmental disabilities (MR/DD) and many of them are productively employed, thereby contributing to the nation’s economy.

If you experience discrimination because of your mental and medical condition, you can consult with an experienced discrimination lawyer in your area.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Plane crashed into home, killed three

An airplane accident happened recently in San Diego which claimed the lives of at least three people just this week.

Prior to the accident, an F/A-18D Hornet plane took off the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego with only one pilot on board. Reports said that the plane was having problems right after take off and the lone pilot prepared for an emergency landing.

The condition of the plane worsen while air borne prior to the landing, i.e. it lost its second engine, etc. As the consequence, the plane nosedived, according to witnesses – the pilot was able to eject himself from the aircraft in the nick of time.

Unluckily for San Diego neighborhood, the accident took place above them. The plane reportedly crashed into a home where a woman, her two kids, and an elderly woman lived. Due to the crash, three of them were confirmed killed.

The neighborhood was reportedly had to be evacuated. The pilot sustained injuries and was taken to the Naval Medical Center of San Diego.

Airplane or aviation accident doesn’t happen very often. But because of the dangerous nature of the plane’s fuel, it has a tendency to create a more fatal accident than others.

If you or anyone you know suffered injuries or wrongful death due to aviation accident, consult with an aviation accident or personal injury lawyer. You may have a valid claim against the party at fault or for whose negligence produces the accident.

Like this particular accident, the family of the victims may pursue a case for the loss of lives that happened because of the plane accident.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Expected Legislative Changes in Employment Law

Is it right to say that we lack laws when a situation does not favor us? Or do we simply lack implementation of existing laws that we feel the need to enact some more?

Whatever we say about new laws, we are about to see some major changes in the coming days as more legislative acts are expected to bring these changes to the present employment laws.

Some of these laws are mentioned in the article “More Political Predictions”, which was posted on October 31, 2008. According to the article, the next Congress is about to pass into law a set of employment laws that will eventually affect both employers and employees.

Among these laws, I believe three of them bear significance to of employees in relation to the present employment conditions.

For one, the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act is expected to complement the ADA and other state anti-discriminatory laws but will deal with the issue of sexual orientation and the more controversial, sexual identity.

Another law that will have impact on the workers and employees is the Arbitration Fairness Act, which would “ban requiring an employee to agree to resolve employment related claims by arbitration as a condition of employment”.

I believe this act will help improve the employees’ conditions, as it will eliminate binding arbitration as a means to avoid jury trials in many employment cases.

The Protecting America's Workers Act, another employment law that is deemed important, is expected to toughen Occupational Safety and Health Administration's whistleblower provisions. The law also increases the penalties, both civil and criminal, and expands the coverage to the public sector.

Now, the question on whether these proposed bills will be enacted into law or not will depend much on the next Congress who can be expected to take into consideration the present economic crisis, its impact on federal, state and local governments and the cost on employers when changes are finally implemented.

Workweek and Minimum Wage Compliance Definitions

Employers should be aware of what constitutes a workweek and minimum wage compliance as provided under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA).

Workweek under the FSLA is defined as the “fixed and recurring period of 168 hours -seven consecutive 24-hour periods”. It may begin on any day and hour of the week and need not correspond with the calendar week.

Knowing the workweek is essential because it determines minimum wage compliance. Any time beyond the 168 hours shall be considered overtime hence, compensable.

Minimum wage compliance is an order that sets the minimum amount an employee should be paid in an hour.

Employees should receive compensation as set by the law. Any amount received by the latter below such standards would make the employer liable.

Guidelines on workweek and minimum wage compliance are vital. Employers would not have any reasons for not complying as they are mapped out by the law. Hence, liability may easily be pointed at the employer.

Employees should know their rights under the law. Various laws are enacted to protect their well-being. They just have to be vigilant and sue to vindicate their rights.

Non-Resident Employees are also Covered by California Wage Laws

The case of Sullivan v. Oracle Corporation and Oracle University, filed on 6 November 2008 and decided by the United States Court of Appeals, resolved that non-residents of California are under the coverage of the California Labor Laws for works performed within the state.

In this case, it appears that the plaintiffs were instructors who go to different states to train customers on the use of Oracle software. In California, the plaintiffs worked between nearly five and 30 days per year – the rest they work on other states.

On their complaint for overtime claims, among others, the instructors alleged that the respondent, Oracle, misclassified them into exempt employees and failed to pay them overtime, daily and/or weekly.

The Court said that the California wage and hour laws, including payment of overtime, apply to the plaintiffs during the days they worked in the state.

In California, overtime law mandates that employees who are not otherwise included in the list above, 18 years of age or older, or any minor employee 16 or 17 years of age who is not required by law to attend school and is not otherwise prohibited by law from engaging in the subject work, are entitled to overtime pay.

Meaning, they shall not be required to work beyond 8 hours in any workday or beyond 40 hours in any workweek unless they receive one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over eight hours in any workday and over forty hours in the workweek.

Bicycle & Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise

The streets of San Francisco have seen the rise in the number of motorcycle and bicycles not only due to continuing rise of fuel prices and worsening economy, but in an effort to lessen the pollution and cleanse the air.

But corollary to that is the rise in pedestrian and bicycle accident which reported to have doubled since the last year. Authorities said that this does not mean that roads have become more dangerous but merely because of the increasing number of bicycles and motorcycle these days.

In 2006, vehicular accident fatalities in the US totaled to 42,642. Out of that number, pedestrian accident kills a staggering number of 4,784 individuals while nearly 70,000 pedestrians are injured.

Statistics show that at least 1 pedestrian gets killed in a traffic accident every 110 minutes, or so.

More and more people use motorcycle and bicycles to reduce the continuing micro economic burden that increasing fuel prices brought to American families.

In the State of California alone, the number of motorcycle licenses has reportedly increased – from 908,000 in 2002, the figure reached a staggering more than a million this year.

But as they say, everything has a price. As mentioned, due to increasing use of motorcycles and bicycles, the accidents in the streets involving them has exponentially increased as well. Cases of pedestrian accidents have noticeably increased too.

Pedestrian accidents are covered by tort laws which make negligent person liable for injury, damage or death of a pedestrian. Compensation may include medical bills, lost wages and property damages, as well as compensation for pain and suffering.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Equal Treatment to Pregnant Women

Women composed nearly half of the workforce today. When they become pregnant, they have the right to apply, be hired and continue working just like any body else. In fact, about 80% of American women become mothers.

The pregnancy discrimination act was enacted to safeguard the rights of pregnant women. It amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Act prohibits employers from employing discriminatory practices against women workers because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

However, problems continue to exist and to my surprise pregnancy discrimination comes from female dominated industries such as finance, real estate, retail services and insurance.

The law does not require employers to grant special treatment to pregnant women. It only requires that they be treated the same as that of other employees. Hence, if the employers give accommodation to non-pregnant employees, the same accommodation should also be granted to them.

Nevertheless, any favorable treatment by employers to pregnant women is not prohibited. The law only requires employers to make good their obligations under the Act.

When You are Discriminated against due to Obesity

Albeit there is no law specifically outlawing it, it is still illegal to discriminate against an employee or a job applicant on the basis of his/her weight - or to put it bluntly, if such an individual is over-weight or obese.

It is common today for people suffering from obesity to be fired from work or not hired by a prospective employer because of this condition. Although it is not covered by the Civil Rights Act as a protected category as regards discrimination, such is illegal under ADA.

ADA provides protection for people with recognized medical disabilities.

You might be considered as clinically obese under certain conditions and your employer may not discriminate against you by firing, not hiring or demoting you from your current position because of your condition.

If you are suffering form this condition and you feel you were discriminated against in the job, consult and seek the assistance of an attorney specializing in discrimination lawsuits.

Employment discrimination attorney will be able to help you exercise your rights under the law.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Records to Keep in compliance with FMLA

Employers are required by law to maintain records for safekeeping. No less than the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) imposes this responsibility upon them. These records must be preserved for at least three years and be open for any inspection by the Department of Labor representatives.

Covered employer must keep accurate records for each eligible employee. These records need not be in a certain format so long as it includes certain identifying information concerning the employee and data regarding hours worked and wages earned.

The Act requires employers to keep records of the following information:

• Basic payroll information and identifying employee data such as name, address and occupation and terms and conditions of employment

• Dates FMLA leave is taken by the eligible employees which may be taken from the latter’s time record or requests for leave

• Hours of leave if taken less than one full day

• Copies of notices of leave and copies of all general and specific
written notices given to employees as required under FMLA

• Any documents concerning employee benefits or employer policies and practices on paid and unpaid leaves

• Premium payments of employee benefits

• account of any dispute between the employer and an eligible
employee regarding designation of leave as FMLA leave reasons for designation.

GPS: Protection from False Overtime Claims?

Proving exactly how many overtime hours an employee has worked is difficult in many overtime cases. And this becomes even more complicated when an employer’s time or pay records are inaccurate.

When this happens, an employee has the burden to prove or satisfy his claim by offering a so-called “convincing substitute” or evidence “sufficient to permit a just and reasonable inference” regarding an employee’s overtime claim.

Now modern technology has something to offer to help both employers and employees resolve a dispute on overtime claims. The article, “Can GPS Help Prove Your Wage Case”, posted on October 31, 2008, gives an insightful look at how the use of a geopositioning (GPS) device can help people in many ways, including proving overtime claims.

In overtime claims, the stronger the inferences one can draw of his time estimates, the more detailed and reliable the evidence should be. And the use of GPS, which most mobile phones have been equipped with, can improve monitoring of employees and help better calculate wage and hour abuses. In a way, an employee’s GPS-enabled cell phone can help him prove his claim too.

However, under California wage and overtime law, some employees remain exempt from overtime claims as enumerated:

• workers covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBA)

• professional, executive and administrative employees

• state and government workers

• taxi cab drivers and outdoor salespersons

• airline employees working more than 40 but less than 60 hours per week on a temporary basis and per their own request

• adult employees whose earnings are more than 50 percent commission, if their total earnings exceed more than one and one half times the minimum wage

• some computer software employees

• commercial fisherman and boat crews, sheepherders and irrigators

• in-home babysitters, student nurses and personal attendants

• parents, spouses or children of the business owner

• professional actors and motion picture projectionists

• carnival ride operators at traveling carnivals

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Between Winning and Losing in an Auto Accident Claim

Recovering for damages in an auto accident requires more than having an injury to show and having someone to account for it as the offending party (defendant).

Take the case involving Keanu Reeves and Alison Silva as mentioned in the article, “Keanu Reeves Wins Lawsuit Filed by Paparazzo Alison Silva”, posted on November 3, 2008.

According to the article, the lawsuit arose from an auto accident where Reeves, who was driving his car, had allegedly struck Silva, resulting in permanent damage to his wrist as he claimed.

However, in the hearing that lasted five days, the jury who heard all the testimony of witnesses, including a video, decided in favor of Reeves, turning down Silva’s claim of $ 711, 974, to cover for medical expenses and compensation for lost wages.

There is no surefire way to win in an auto accident claim but one can surely increase his chances of obtaining a successful claim. Winning a claim depends on a case-to-case basis, meaning the verdict in a case will depend on the issues raised and its merits.

To increase one’s chances in obtaining full compensation in an accident, it is necessary to have evidence of the accident and your injuries well documented, including accident reports and the medical findings.

In addition, hiring a personal injury lawyer who specializes in auto accidents may also improve one’s chances of getting a rightful claim.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Insights on School Bus Accidents and Negligence

School buses are of great help especially when we cannot take our children to school by ourselves. To and from school, we entrust the safety of our children to these school buses. However, a rather unfortunate accident can happen for some of us.

School bus accident is not unheard of across the country. More often than not, these accidents involved negligence on the part of the bus driver. Despite numerous tests, clearances, requirement compliance, etc. that bus drivers undergo, still some manage to be negligent and put our children’s safety at risk.

We see and hear that school bus accidents have risen. While we can no longer bring back time to undo the unfortunate event that cause the loss of our child, or injuries, because of the accident, we are not however completely helpless. The law is in our side and we only have to invoke it.

From year 1990 to 2001, there were recorded 50,000 to 63,000 bus accidents in the US. The figure includes school, transit and intercity buses. Death toll is rather low, fortunately, but injuries reached a staggering figure of 15,000 to 21,000.

A civil suit for recovery of compensation for wrongful death may be pursued by the family of the children who were victim of the school bus accident. This is not to enrich them but to vindicate them for the loss of a loved one.

If the bus was operating illegally such as when it turned out that the bus company was not authorized to operate as a carrier in intestate commerce, then it may be facing more legal repercussion that its owners or operators care to imagine.

Statistics shows that there are at least 360 million bus passengers in the US each year, while there are 30,000 commercial buses for tours, charters, special operations and regular route services.

Being Gay in California

Admitting you are gay is never a ticket for one to tease or discriminate you in any way.

Discrimination can be in several forms. It can be verbal or non-verbal. It could be through actions like imitating a “cat walk” whenever one sees a gay employee or leaving a tiara at his desk.

Whenever one feels that he is in a hostile environment, then he is being discriminated against.

The policy against gay discrimination is clear in California. Laws in California specifically protect homosexuals, heterosexuals and bisexuals from gender or sex discrimination. The protection even extended to transsexuals and transgenders.

In a 4-3 decision, California Supreme Court struck ban on gay marriage.The decision declared that no less than the fundamental law protects ones right to marry his or her choice. It furthered that state’s ban on same sex marriage would not be in keeping with its policy against gender discrimination.

Consequently, hundreds of couples in a same sex relationship grab the opportunity and wed before the ruling is overturned.

One thing is for sure, we have to live by this ruling of the Supreme Court. Even the governor said that he would not take steps to amend the constitution or support any movement to that effect.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Samaritans in the Freeway, Beware

Freeway crashes are fatal and sometimes, could end up in disasters and unnecessary loss of lives. In many fatal freeway accidents, the victims are likely to suffer serious injuries or death.

As vehicle crashes are truly devastating; a freeway accident may lead to another as shown in the article, “Freeway Accidents are Often Fatal: Contact a Los Angeles Injury Lawyer”, posted on October 17, 2008.

According to this article, a motorist lost control of the vehicle and crashed. As another motorist tried to stop over to help the victim, a utility truck struck the car followed by another truck. As a result, the female driver died while the Samaritan motorist, who was just trying to help, suffered serious injuries.

A freeway accident can be twice more dangerous as in other places like city streets or minor roads. The extreme speeds of vehicles while they travel on the freeway make it a truly dangerous place, discounting all other factors such as weather conditions and vehicle malfunction.

Thus, for people who get involve in minor accidents and those who are willing to lend a hand, they must see to it first that their vehicles have been moved safely to the side of the road before exposing themselves to traffic.

If you happen to get stuck in the middle of traffic with a malfunctioning car, be sure to put up an early warning device at a safe distance from your vehicle to warn oncoming vehicles of the emergency. You can also put on your vehicle signal lights on hazard mode.

Getting involved in a vehicle accident, especially a freeway crash, is truly difficult – sometimes, devastating. But if you happen to be involved in one, consulting with a car accident lawyer can help you recover from the injuries that you may incur from it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Default Judgment: A Defendant’s Mistake and Negligence?

Default judgment in a civil lawsuit happen when a defendant fails to appear before the court or fails to respond to summons. Generally, it is a binding judgment handed down by the court in favor of the plaintiff or the complainant.

The article, “A Lesson on Default Judgments”, posted in October 17, 2008, offers some advice on how to respond to default judgment and ask the court to “set aside” a default judgment.

In damages claim or tort lawsuit, the court often enters the amount of damages in the original complaint when a default judgment is made.

However, a defendant can have a default judgment vacated or set aside. Code of Civil Procedure section 473 provides the standards on how to ask the court to have such judgment vacated or set aside.

Under this section, a defendant may seek relief from default judgment provided he has a good reason for his failure to answer the complaint or defend the lawsuit.

In California, the courts allow and recognize the following grounds to have a default judgment set aside or vacated:

• Mistake – when a person knows the facts but has mistaken belief of the legal consequences of those facts

• Inadvertence – when inadvertence is the result of inattention or negligence

• Surprise- when a party is placed in an “injurious legal situation”

• Excusable neglect – this includes illness, failure to respond because you relied on your lawyer, failure to appear in trial because you relied on misinformation of a court officer

• You were not given “actual notice” to defend yourself – by actual notice, this means that a party genuinely knows of the litigation.

At any rate, you can avoid these hassles in legal procedures if you give yourself proper time to select a credible litigation lawyer to handle your case.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bicycle Accident Kills Mom, Injures 14-year Old Son

The California Highway Patrol’s SWITRS reported that in 2006, there were no reported bicycle accident related deaths in Seal Beach. But the same was broken last week when a mother was killed and her 14-year old son suffered injuries.

The OC Register reported the accident.

The mom and her autistic son were said to be riding their bicycle when they were hit by a truck. The truck, a blue Ford, hit the mother and son and crashed into a eucalyptus tree on Lampson Avenue, east of Seal Beach Boulevard.

Cathy Busse was pronounced dead on Tuesday and was taken off life support on Wednesday.

Bicycle has become a common form of transportation in California besides cars. Tourists love it for sight seeing and health buffs like it to keep in shape. But because bike depends on human power, it has limited capacity like humans do.

Drivers on a motorized wheel oftentimes undermine, or ignore, bicycle riders. Because of this, bicycle accidents, when they occur, oftentimes end up badly.

If you have been injured while riding your bike without fault of your own but by the negligence of other drivers, you must pursue a personal injury claim.

Remember that you are protected under the law and a bicycle crash lawyer in California can help you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Employment Rights of a Disabled Person

Under the law, persons with disability (PWD) are given equal opportunity to engage in gainful employment. The employment rights of disabled persons are guaranteed by various federal and state disability rights laws and one of these includes the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

As discussed in the article, “Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Prohibits Discrimination Against Federal Employees with Disabilities”, posted on August 17, 2008, this act is intended to protect employees with disability from discrimination from work or jobs that are “conducted by federal agencies, or programs receiving federal funds and to be employed in businesses with federal contracts”.

Primarily, this Act was designed to help disabled employees in “preparing and engaging in gainful employment to the extent of their capabilities”. In other words, it helps them to find a suitable job and use their skills in employment as a way to improve and ‘rehabilitate’ their lives.

Under the program, an eligible employee has the option either “to develop his own Individualized Plan for Employment Services, which can be tailored to his specific needs through an Individualized Plan for Employment or request the assistance of a qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor to help him in determining his special needs”.

Other federal disability rights laws are also beneficial to disabled employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is another law that protects employees against disability discrimination. Like the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, this law also provides employees with necessary adjustments in the workplace called “reasonable accommodation”, also designed to help disabled workers by making changes or improvements in equipment design and functions.

A disabled worker who experiences discrimination issues or finds difficulty at work regarding his disability or impairment can always seek the assistance of an employment lawyer to resolve the problem.

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Car: Not worth Every Penny

We often think that only small vehicles like motorcycles are prone to accidents. This belief came to being maybe because small vehicles are no match for other vehicles on the streets such as SUVs, minivans, trucks, etc.

But did you know that even large vehicles are prone to accidents, too? Take for example in the case of SUVs. SUV rollover accidents are becoming a trend. In fact, another rollover accident happened just this week. Full story can be read at

Roll over accidents are not only often caused by negligence. It may also be due to manufacture defects or mechanical make up of the vehicle. Just imagine buying a new car just to find out that it is rollover prone!

This type of accident is usually related to the vehicle's stability. It is dictated by the relationship between the track width or the distance of the right and lefts tires and the center of the gravity. This relationship could be very well determined at the manufacturing stage. That is why I have pointed out earlier that it is not only due to negligent driving.

As of now, no federal roll over standard is followed but some are pushing into having one. Having a standard will help verify which vehicles are prone to rollover. To this effect, a rollover rating system has been presented by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2001.

A death of a loved one or an injury sustained because of rollover accident is devastating. The effect may be very traumatic especially if the accident is due to the fault of the manufacturer. Certainly, it is not worth your every penny so to speak.

Should you be a victim of a rollover accident, you may pursue a claim against the erring party. You just have to hire the best rollover accident lawyer to win your case.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Complications in a Car Crash

Car accidents are common occurrence in most roads and highways across the country. And as the number of accidents rise, the causes are no less varied as the countless names of victims involved in such incidents.

But even ordinary accidents may turn out to be serious and more complicated when other elements come into play. Take the case of the accident mentioned in the article “Two Killed in San Jose Car Accident”, posted on October 14, 2008.

The rollover incident, a type of accident popular among SUVs, involved a Ford Explorer. What made this incident extraordinary and newsworthy is that it involved an 18-year-old boy and five other young children between the ages of 4 and 15 years old.

Added to the complication of being the injured party in the accident, the young man’s vehicle was discovered to be ill equipped with its safety mechanisms like child seats and seat belts. For instance, the seat belts were unable to protect the passengers of the car, which cause the passengers to be ejected from their seats during collision impact, resulting in serious injuries.

The four-year old passenger, the youngest occupant of the vehicle, reportedly suffered a broken leg, while a 6-year-old suffered a broken arm, and the 10-year old suffered facial lacerations.

According to the report, the Explorer hit another car, a Nissan, as it lost control before finally crashing. But compared to the occupants of the Explorer, the driver and passenger of the Nissan car only suffered minor injuries.

Several factors may be considered in determining the causes of a rollover. Generally, car accidents are the result of recklessness or negligence of drivers. In this case, one can clearly rule out the responsibility of another party. Otherwise, factors such as vehicle manufacturing defects and external conditions may be taken into consideration.

Finding fault in a rollover incident may be as complex as the accident itself. In this case, one would definitely need the assistance of an expert, preferably a lawyer, to establish fault and liability in the accident.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Consequential Issues under the New ADA Amendments

California employees who are victims of discrimination based on disability have a reason to rejoice. Under the new amendment to the federal law, employees can expect to receive more protections as amendments to the old ADA have widened the scope of disability.

According to ”New Federal Law Provides more Disability Discrimination Protection to CA Employees: Amendment to Americans with Disabilities Act”, posted on October 9, 2008, the new legislation will result in more individuals claiming protection under the broader scope of the new law.

With the implementation of the amendments, more employees are expected to file discrimination claims and lawsuits. For employers, this would mean added work, as they are expected to make improvements and necessary changes in workplace policies and regulations. This would also mean making adjustments to provide reasonable accommodations to more disabled employees.

Although changes in the law have been introduced, the same processes are followed and the same requirements are applied when making or filing claims. In sum, the major change in the law is in the broader scope of the term and the effects it could bring to many employers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Road safety: A matter of choice

Accidents in the major highways and thoroughfares are becoming part of our daily living. Not a day passes by without it.

Just this week, another accident at Southbound I-15 near Barstow happened. Five people were injured and no fatalities were reported though.

Repeatedly, we are being cautioned from the debilitating effects of accidents. But it seems that we are continuously playing in the ring of death so to speak. We never learned our lesson from the experiences of others.

Accidents, just like any other occurrences, are preventable. By observing the diligence of a cautious man, we may be freed form injuries. We can also save lives. Observing road signs, traffic rules and speed limit are some steps we can take to prevent it.

Admittedly, though, there are moments when we are just being lured by fate into it. Sometimes, its just have to happen and unluckily, we are there at that moment. We are just caught unaware.

However, in most cases, accidents are caused by negligence of people - of the driver, pedestrian or passenger. Drunk driving and use of the phone while driving are some negligent acts attributed to humans while road condition, weather condition, negligence of others are instances beyond our control.

The bottom line is, to be involved or not in any vehicular accident lies in our own hands. We have the power to dictate our fate on the road. It is just a matter of choice.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Recovering Claims in Sexual Harassment Suit

Bringing a sexual harassment suit against one’s tormentor often entails hardship, not only in terms of the legal processes involved but also in the emotional difficulties one has to undergo.

The article, “Jury Deliberating Gay-Pride Suit Adjourns for Day”, posted on October 1, 2008, is an update report on the sexual harassment charge filed by four San Diego firefighters after being subjected to “sexually-charged scenes and lewd comments” in last year’s gay parade celebrations in the city.

The firefighters complained that after bringing up the matter to their superiors, they were mistreated and continued to receive offensive remarks.

Because of the experience, the four victims said they suffered “headaches, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome and other emotional problems.

Generally, a victim may file a claim for injuries suffered as a result of the sexual offenses. These injuries are not necessarily physical ones but are emotional injuries suffered by the victim.

In most cases, a victim may file a claim for the recovery of the following things:

• Damages for emotional distress

• Back pay (multiplied by three times) if you lost money or missed out on a raise

• Fringe benefits lost

• Reinstatement, if you lost your job

• A requirement that your employer initiate policies or training to stop harassment

• attorney's fees and court costs

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Liability in Sexual Harassment Suit

Illinois, Michigan and North Dakota are the only states that expressly prohibit sexual harassment. Other than these states, sexual harassment acts are considered as a type of discrimination. In California, for instance, these acts are prohibited by a number of statutes and by the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the ADA.

These laws and other various statutes ensure that victims of sexual harassment are protected. Other than this, the state government continues to make laws to improve the conditions in the workplace and prevent sexual harassment acts. AB 1825, for instance, is a law passed in 2004, which provides training for supervisors on how to handle situations involving sexual harassment.

The article “Testimony in Hollywood Sexual Harassment Suit Continues”, posted on September 24, 2008, tells of the continuing sexual harassment lawsuit brought up by an actor against a fellow worker.

The article mentioned the changes that have taken place since the lawsuit was filed. In this case, a witness has made a different testimony regarding the alleged sexual acts, contrary to what was presented by the plaintiff.

As sexual harassment is a delicate issue, the law has defined which acts are considered harassment and thus prohibited:

• vulgar or lewd comments

• forcing workers to wear sexually revealing uniforms

• unwanted physical touching or fondling

• suggestions to engage in sexual conduct

• Even obscene or sexually suggestive cartoons and posters

• Occasional inappropriate touching, off-color jokes, or repeated sexual references can be sexual harassment.

It depends on the circumstances. Courts consider the nature, severity, and frequency of the conduct, as well as the conditions under which the conduct occurred.

Friday, September 26, 2008

If at First You Don’t Succeed….

Pursuing disability benefits is an activity involving persistence. In this respect, pursuing a claim is like playing a game. Like game players, disability claimants must adhere to rules governing the awarding of benefits.

In most cases, disability applications are denied at the initial stage. This happens especially to those who had applied for benefits under social security disability (SSD) and supplemental security income (SSI). Rejected for the first time, a claimant should not be discouraged. Rather he should look at the brighter side of things: that it is always possible to make an appeal and to have a case reviewed.

At any rate, a claimant must first evaluate his application before making a claim:

1. An applicant must carefully look for reasons why his application was denied. Majority of the applications denied were simply due to technical errors such as incomplete information supplied by claimants. According to Social Security Administration, nearly 80 percent of applications for disability benefits were denied simply because some claimants have entered erroneous or incomplete data.

2. To be able to receive benefits under the SSD, an applicant must have a severe impairment or a medical condition categorized by the SSA as a disability. A claimant must show that his disability is so severe that it had greatly affected the way he lives.

3. A claimant must also show that he was not able to engage in any gainful activity caused by his disability or condition for about a year.

If an application is denied in the initial stage, a claimant must immediately file for an appeal known as a request for reconsideration.

While awaiting the result of the appeal, it would be better for an applicant to review his application and obtain the necessary medical documents to support his claim. Getting the help of an experienced social security lawyer would also work to one’s advantage.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When Absences and Work Leave Becomes a Job Issue

When an employee gets sick and has to take a leave, it is usually expected that he would notify his employer about his absence. If he fails to do so, the consequences are often undesirable to the worker.

Take the case of the employee who lost his job after taking up more than the allowable number of absences and failed to notify his employer. Because of this, the employee was sacked.

In the article, “CFRA Requires a California Employer to be Proactive with its Employees Sick Leave”, posted on September 18, 2008, the issue of absences and sick leaves were tackled. Based on the case, the Continental Airline employee exceeded the allowed number of absences and missed notifying his employer about it, although he told some of his friends that he was hospitalized for an illness. As a result, he was fired.

Generally, unexplained absences can be a basis for one’s termination. If an employee or worker fails to notify or give a valid reason to his employer about his absences, the issue would certainly result into a job issue.

However, the law protects employees from being penalized for taking leaves when necessary. In California, for instance, the Family and Medical Act and the California Family Rights Act guarantee protection of these rights.

These statutes allow eligible employees to take leave of up to a total of twelve (12) weeks for each calendar year.

To be eligible for this leave, a full-time employee must have been employed for a total of twelve (12) months and he must have worked 1,250 hours in the year preceding the leave.

Under the law, a leave may only be permitted for the following reasons:

• If the employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition

• To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) who has a serious health condition

• During the birth or adoption of a child or during a foster
In order to qualify for such a leave, an employee must meet the eligibility standards set by law and a notice to the employer must be made. At the most, he would have to consult with an experienced employment lawyer to help him with the issue.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Protected Category in Work Discrimination

Contrary to popular belief, an act is considered discriminatory and illegal only if it is based on the so-called protected category as stated by law. This means that an act is deemed actionable only under the discrimination laws listed in these categories.

What are these protected categories?

Under federal and state laws, these categories include the following:

• Discrimination based on race

• Discrimination based on disability

• Discrimination based on gender

• Discrimination based on religion

• Discrimination based on pregnancy

• Equal pay and compensation discrimination

• Sexual harassment

• Retaliation

Hence, if you think a discriminatory act has been committed based on all these protected categories, it is only proper to file a complaint to seek redress.

A California employee has the right to speak to representatives of the office of the California Labor Commissioner or any other government or law enforcement agency about any issues affecting your working conditions. On the other hand, an employer cannot fire, demote, suspend or discipline a worker or employee for answering any questions or providing any information to a government agency.

A discrimination complaint must be filed within six months after the occurrence of the alleged discriminatory and/or retaliatory action. However, complaints filed under Labor Code sections 230(c) (one year), 230.1 (one year), 1197.5 (no later than two years after the cause of action occurs), and Health and Safety Code section 1596.88 (not later than 90 days after action as to which complaint is made) are exempted from this statute of limitation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

That Horrible Metrolink Train Accident

Although the Federal transportation official made a pronouncement that it is too early to know what really caused the train crash that left:

• 25 people dead
• 135 people injured
• 40 critically injured

… the Metrolink official earlier said that the train crashed after their engineer drove through in red light.

Metrolink sensibly accepted responsibility in this now the worst train accident in Southern California, if not the whole of California, in half a century.

The LA Times extensively reported the news. And as if echoing the question many victims and their families or the public in general have in mind, the news account asks “how the Metrolink engineer could have missed the red signal.”

We cannot answer this question with definiteness this early. We can only surmise, speculate and infer from many unclear but determinable details of what really took place in the accident and what really caused it.

A lot has been said but as mentioned, that would remain speculations for now.

Answer/s to that question will not be available sooner or later as the investigation is still on going.

One thing is certain here though. Metrolink, now dubbed as one of the worst in the US when it comes to fatality record, will be facing the inevitable legal consequences brought about by this unfortunate train accident.

The Labor Day Weekend: The Roads Safest Days

Generally, accidents can be expected during the holiday, especially the long ones, because people move around a lot. People travel miles and miles of distances for merry making and spending time with their families and loved one.

So it is refreshing news to hear that San Francisco, and the majority of cities and counties in California as well, recorded a lower motor vehicle accidents on this year’s Labor Day weekend.

According to the report of the California Highway Patrol, the traffic fatalities were surprisingly lower this year than last year. And the Labor Day weekend when traffic fatalities were historically the highest has been the safest in a year so far.

The downside is that as the accident rate decreases, the number of arrests made increases. This, the authorities theorized, has something to do with the measures of keeping the streets from offenders and consequently keeping roads and streets safer.

Majority of the arrest made involved DUI. There were also cases involving non-use of seatbelts. It was recorded that there are at least 9 deaths that occur in traffic accidents related to non-usage or not wearing of seatbelts. Such deaths, authorities believe, would have been prevented if only seatbelts were worn.

The same report revealed that automobile accidents in San Francisco were down almost half of the number recorded last year.

Generally, it is something to rejoice with and congratulate the California Highway Patrol for helping keeping our streets safer. Accident, especially auto accident, is something that we don’t want to happen to us or to our loved one and families – so news of this sort will always be a welcome treat for us especially during the times of rest and merry-making.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Foreseeability of Harm in Animal Attacks

Reasonable foreseeability of harm may be considered as a vital factor in determining liability in a personal injury case such as animal attacks.

Take the case posted on August 29, 2008, entitled “Dog Bite: Absentee Owner Can Be Liable If They Allow Dog on the Premises”. Here, a property owner was held liable for the harm done by a dog owned by one of his contracted workers after the dogs attacked a fellow worker. Salinas v Martin (August 28, 2008) First District, Division 1, Case No. A119733 prohibits.

Based on the article, a property owner had contracted a group of workers to do renovation job on his house. Several men worked on the project as sub-contractors and gardeners. All of them had access to the premises. The gardeners, whom the owner hired to do the landscape, had two dogs, a pit bull and a pit bull mix.

The homeowner knew about the dogs and given the gardeners the permission to allow the dogs on the premises. The dogs were free to run around in the fenced-in back yard.

One weekend, as one worker went to the job site to retrieve some scaffolding, he was attacked and bitten by the pit bull.

The trial court granted summary judgment to the homeowner, holding him to the same standard as a residential landlord who must have actual knowledge of a dog’s dangerous propensity before he or she can be held liable.

The Court of Appeal reversed the verdict and held the property owner to the usual standard according to the doctrine of reasonable foreseeability of harm. In this case, the Court of Appeal held that it was foreseeable that the pit bull would attack another worker and thus the homeowner could be held liable for the injuries sustained by the animal attack victim.

In animal or dog attacks, foresee ability of harm may be determined by these factors:

• The dog’s behavior prior to the attack
• The history of attack incidents, if there are any

To pursue claims in an animal attack, a victim must seek the assistance of a lawyer with experience in handling cases of this nature.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The New Temp Workers’ Rule

For good or ill (for some), Governor Schwarzenegger did it again.

The controversial governor, known for signing into effect, controversial, not to mention queer, attention-magnet laws (no pun intended) has signed into law a law which will change the way temp workers are paid in California.

The new law, which will take into effect in January, requires temporary service agencies to pay temps every end of the week instead of every other week. If the temps work on a day-to-day basis, such temp will have to be paid daily – not weekly, more so not monthly.

But when is one a temporary employee, or temp for brevity? You are a temp if you are under the employ of a temporary services employer.

So what is a “temporary services employer”? The New Labor Code holds the answer. It defines TSE as an employing unit that contracts with clients or customers to supply workers to perform services for such clients or customers.

Your employer is a TSE and consequently you are a temp, if your employer does the following, among others:

• Negotiates with clients and customers for matters such as the time and place where the services are to rendered, the type of work, condition, quality and price of the service
• Determines assignments or reassignments of workers, even if workers retain the right to refuse assignments
• Retains the authority to assign or reassign a worker to another client or customer when the worker is determined unacceptable by a specific client or customer
• Assigns or reassigns workers to perform services for clients or customers
• Sets the rate of pay of workers, whether or not through negotiation
• Pays workers form its own account or accounts
• Retains the right to hire and terminate workers

But there are instances when you may look like you’re a temp but under the law, you’re not. You are not a temp if your employer is one of the following:

1. a bona fide non profit organization that provides temporary service employees to its clients
2. a farm labor contractor as defined under the law
3. garment manufacturer which can be considered as “contractor”

The new law, to reiterate, applies to temp employees. Basically, the heart of the law is the requirement that you should be paid weekly, not another week after. If it’s day to day work – then at the end of each day.

Of course, needless to say that there are some ambiguous parts of the law that an ordinary temp employee may not fully understand, such as when exactly is payment due, what are the conditions, how about the rules on striker replacements, etc.

In this regard, and in any issues of law for that matter, it is still ideal to consult with a qualified and competent employment law attorney in California to avoid being taken advantage by some unscrupulous employers, TSE or not.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fights Against Pregnancy Discrimination Finally Pay-off

It is quite ironic that a place where anti-discrimination laws were supposed to be advocated, or observed at the very least, becomes the latest place to cuddle discrimination.

Not so long ago, two lady employees of a large law firm (take note law) reportedly became victims of discrimination.

Lady “A” was reportedly “let go” due to what her employers call “downsizing”. While Lady “B” said her salary was severed just before she went on a law sanctioned maternity leave.

Learning well from their boss, the two women are expected to file suits – and they did.

The two women filed suits for gender discrimination against their bosses. Not long after, they won the lawsuits and the judge ruled that the two had been victims of pregnancy discrimination.

The action, and consequently the judgment of the court, is based on the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and pertinent federal laws which prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, among others, in terms of hiring, firing, demoting, job detailing, etc.

Also, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees are protected from any and all types of discrimination such as race, color, religion, sex, nationality, etc. And this includes discriminating a woman employee because (1) she became pregnant, or (2) she is expected to get pregnant.

If you, or any of your family member, experience this kind of discrimination, or any discrimination for that matter – it is a must that you speak with a qualified employment law attorney to protect your rights.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Discriminated due to “Kissing Disease”

A kissing disease is an ailment which commonly occurs among young adults. Technically called Mononucleosis, this disease is typically transmitted through saliva or blood. It isn’t deadly but can make you miss work and can be a cause of action for discrimination claims.

Symptoms don’t appear until four to seven weeks of the infection. Typically, symptoms include:

• Fever
• Sore throat
• Depression
• Stomach ache
• Weakness or fatigue
• Severe tiredness
• Muscle soreness

The following symptoms might resemble and are commonly confused with cases of cold and flu. You might end up being discriminated against by your employer because of this rare disease when 1) you were not allowed to leave work to see a doctor, 2) you were not accommodated concerning your need to take reasonable time off work, 3) there were no reasonable on-work accommodations provided for your disability and 4) you were given time to rest.

This ailment is rare and most people with high resistance to bacterial infections do not easily experience this. Almost always, people who suffer from this disease didn’t know that they have it as it cannot be easily discerned.

However, if you believe that you are suffering from it, you must immediately seek medical assistance. And when you experience discrimination because of this sickness as mentioned in the instances above, speak with an employment law attorney to assist you for possible recovery of damages.

The ADA and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act can protect you from this kind of employment discrimination.

Pedestrian killed in Fresno Bus Accident had Right of Way

The police investigation recently confirmed that 74 year old man who was killed in a bus accident in Fresno had right of way when the accident occurred.

Initially, it appears that a Fresno Area Express bus was maneuvering a U-turn from Fresno Street onto M Street when the victim, who was crossing M Street at about the same time, was struck by the bus.

After the investigation, the police believe that the bus was about to stop at the intersection when all of a sudden the light turns green. So it proceeded to turn into the intersection, thus hitting the pedestrian which the driver didn’t probably notice. It means then that the victim was in the right.

Statistics shows that there are at least 360 million bus passengers in the US each year, while there are 30,000 commercial buses for tours, charters, special operations and regular route services.

With the rise in numbers is the rise in bus accidents. From year 1990 to 2001, there were recorded 50,000 to 63,000 bus accidents in the US. The figure includes school, transit and intercity buses. Death toll is rather low, fortunately, but injuries reached a staggering figure of 15,000 to 21,000.

In this particular case, civil suit for recovery of compensation must be vehemently and strongly pursued by the family of the old man. This is not to enrich them but to vindicate them for the loss of a loved one.

If the bus was operating illegally such as when it turned out that the bus company was not authorized to operate as a carrier in intestate commerce, then it may be facing more legal repercussion that its owners or operators care to imagine.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Reporting a Boat Accident

Due to its proximity to the ocean, boating has become a foremost recreation in California. Even boating enthusiasts from other states come to the place to experience the joys of sailing.

But accidents happen when we least expect it – even at sea.

The article “Boat Catches on Fire in Marina Del Rey” posted on August 19, 2008, tells of a boat, which caught fire near the north jetty of Marina del Rey. Luckily, for the two people on board, they were immediately rescued by responding firefighters. The cause of the fire was yet to be determined.

Urgent response is always required for an emergency like this. Anyone involved in a boating accident that results in serious injury, death or disappearance must notify authorities as soon as possible.

A boat operator is required by law to file a boating accident report (BAR) when an accident happens. The Code of Federal Regulations 33 CFR 173.55 (2001) requires a BAR to be filed with the nearest state boating authority under the following circumstances:

1. when a person dies

2. when a person is injured and requires medical treatment

3. when damage to vessels and other property totals $2,000 or more or there is a complete loss of any vessel

4. when person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury

If you happen to get involved in a boating accident, you must file an accident report with the Department of Boating and Waterways if:

• a person dies, disappears or is injured and requires treatment beyond first aid

• property damage exceeds $500 or there is complete loss of a vessel

Accident reports must be filed within 48 hours of the occurrence if a person dies within 24 hours of the accident, is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first-aid, or disappears from a vessel.

How Discretionary is Discretionary bonus

Now that the ‘-ber’ months is coming, we usually think of bonus, among other things. And when we talk of bonus; the issue of whether the same is discretionary or non-discretionary will come into picture.

Determining whether your bonus is discretionary or not, is important. The legal implication with each kind varies.

Discretionary bonus, as a rule, can be withheld from the employee provided it is done in good faith. Non-discretionary bonus, again as a general rule, cannot be withheld.

Issues branch out when we speak of discretionary bonus. Questions arise like have the employers all the power to withdraw discretionary bonus because in the first place, it is that – discretionary?

Can the employer exercise discretion in not paying discretionary bonus?

In both instances, the employer cannot. As mentioned, the exercise of discretion to withhold the bonus must be made in good faith. It must not be withdrawn from the employee capriciously or irrationally.

The discretion to mean at employer’s will and want is not absolute after all. An employer must always be fair and just in his dealings with his employees. His rights, though clearly his, must be exercised in good faith and in reasonable grounds.

Lack or absence of good faith and reasonable ground would constitute a cause of action against the employer by the employee. For those who have been unfairly treated and denied discretionary bonus, it is imperative to speak with a labor or employment attorney right away and stand for your right.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

California: Boating Accident Capital?

The article, “California Leads in Boating Accidents Nationwide”, posted in August 11, 2008, has placed the state in the map of accident-prone areas, particularly for its high incidence of boating accidents. In contrast to this image of the state, the information may actually do more harm than good to California, which is better known for having “some of the most perfect conditions for sailing”, owing to its extensive coastline and good beaches.

However, no less than the state Department of Boating and Waterways has confirmed this information, recording approximately 804 boating accidents last year, making California the second leading state with the most number of boating fatalities.

The agency data also noted a steady increase in the number of victims at 30 percent from 42 percent the previous year.

The department has enough reasons to be alarmed. In a study done recently, it identified some of the common causes linked to boating accidents. They are:

• operator inattention

• inexperience of the operator

• excessive speed

• other external factors such as weather conditions or boat defects

What’s surprising is that most of these accidents (the Department says) may be avoided or preventable. For instance, the study also showed that of the 71 percent fatalities that drowned, at least 87 percent of them were not wearing life jackets.

Basic safety precautions like wearing of life jackets and following proper and safe boating practices can help in reducing the number of boat accidents. The US Coast Guard recommends boating safety guidelines that all boating enthusiasts may follow.

Boating accidents, like all other accidents, can actually be prevented. With adherence to safety guidelines and learning of some basic boating skills, one can avoid accidents or know how to deal or confront when the situation arises.

If people will only heed the call to maintain safety when sailing or boating, then perhaps California may regain the pride of being a safe destination for boating enthusiasts all over the country.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Battling Motor Vehicle Accidents in Los Angeles

For quite a long number of years, Los Angeles is experiencing great troubles in dealing with various types of motor vehicle accidents that results to thousands of people injured and even killed.

Most of these untoward incidents are being caused by those people who are negligent and careless with their behavior. Further, during these recent years, famous celebrities are also facing annoyance and dangers in dealing with paparazzi photographers who frequently go beyond their limits just to take a close shot on them.

Enough is enough for these irresponsible acts as many Hollywood stars echoed their appeal against paparazzi. During an inaugural meeting, held at the LA City Hall, celebrities gave their testimonies of dangerous chases and dreadful experiences with paparazzi.

However, the Police Department seems so sluggish and uninterested in forming a task force to battle these occurrences. They said that all the existing rules and operations are just enough to handle paparazzi problems.

In my opinion, I think that it is just time to establish a group operating against paparazzi. We should not wait until such major accidents occur due to these dangerous dealings.

Even our celebrities have their right to protection on the roads – and creating a special task force may keep them safe from those people who earn money at their expense.

Paparazzi photographers must learn to respect the privacy of these celebrities at some point. They must also be aware that our laws will apply if they have caused injuries and damages resulting from such performances.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Who’s to Blame in a Bicycle Accident?

Accidents involving bicycles can be fatal. On the other hand, if a rider luckily survives an accident, he may sustain severe injuries that could lead to a disability. A look at the article, “Six-year-old Boy Suffers Severe Head Injuries in California Bicycle Accident”, posted on August 4, 2008, will tell you that injuries from these accidents are no laughing matter.

According to the article, the accident occurred when the rider made a sudden U-turn and collided with an oncoming car. The victim was not wearing a helmet and as a result, he suffered a “depressed skull fracture”. He was reportedly in “critical but stable condition”.

News accounts attributed the cause of the accident mainly to the victim, or largely to that sudden U-turn he made directly into the path of the car. Nevertheless, facts regarding the accident are yet to be confirmed, especially in the light of information that the six-year old boy was actually wearing a helmet when the incident happened and he would not have survived the serious injuries he incurred were it not for it.

In order to find liability in a bicycle accident, it is first necessary to establish the facts of the incident. Accounts from independent witnesses, physical evidence culled from the site of the accident, and police accident and medical reports may form a substantial body of evidence that could help a victim pursue claims in a bicycle accident. Without these, proving liability in any accident may be difficult even for a lawyer.

In this incident, the following questions must be satisfied first:

• What are the relative positions of the vehicles and the damages incurred on both vehicles?

• Why was the car so close to the bicycle?

• Why didn’t the car stop when the rider turned towards her?

• How close was the car to the bicycle?
• Are the car’s brakes in good condition?

• Why is a six-year old boy allowed to ride alone on the streets and without adult supervision?

In the end, the victim’s family would truly need a good personal injury lawyer to establish liability of the other party (car driver) in this accident. All information related to the accident will ultimately determine who is to blame for injuries incurred by a victim in an accident such as this.

The Prevalence of Multi-Vehicle Collisions on Freeways

Commonly referred to as one of the most fatal incidents on streets, multi-vehicle collisions or pile-up accidents bring about more than a thousand of injuries and deaths in California alone. That is, since the state envelopes some of the most dangerous highways and freeways in the United States.

As reported recently, a multi-vehicle accident again happened in one of the busiest freeways in California. Three different types of vehicles have been the subject of such accident, which killed two young victims. It involved a truck trailer that rear-ended a car situated on the back of a motorcycle, which stopped along the freeway for unknown reasons.

The drivers of the car and the motorcycle, who happen to be siblings, died on the spot due to the impact created by the raging truck that failed to make a timely stop.

This example tells us how risky it is to be driving on major highways and freeways where thousands vehicles of various kinds run wild. Many motorists are still unaware of the dangers of driving without caution.

Primarily, negligence is the root cause of most multi-vehicle accidents. These irresponsible individuals still assume that they own the road and fail to care about the safety of other travelers. As a result, they tend to cause great injuries and damages.

Now, to at least the accounts of these accidents and misfortunes, I guess the authorities should strictly implement more laws that will castigate these negligent drivers. Also, they should conduct more seminars and campaigns about road safety.

Nevertheless, our motorists should me more vigilant in traveling. They should know how to foresee accidents in various conditions.

Finally, for those who have already been injured in a multi-vehicle catastrophe, they should understand their legal rights. Consulting a credible vehicle accident lawyer can then be advantageous in pursuing a legal action against the liable parties.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Frequency of Roll over Accidents

Most of us spend most of our time on the road traveling from one place to another for work, leisure activity or fun. Expectedly, we face great risk of meeting an accident – a roll over crash for instance.

True enough, when a family of five was on their way home from a fishing trip, a roll over crash spoiled their day. They were sent to the hospital although sustaining minor injuries. The reports failed to state the reason for the accident.

In a more recent roll over accident involving two vehicles - Chrysler sedan and a Chevrolet Suburban, it appeared that defects in the design of one of the vehicles were apparent.

The said accident had been the subject of a blog “Three Injured in Santa Rosa Chevy Suburban Rollover Accident” posted on August 3, 2008.

These accidents happened only in two months!

Ultimately, roll over accidents or crashes pertain to the vehicle’s stability in making turns. It usually happens to pickup trucks or sport-utility vehicles. The typical cause is that the vehicle is either so loaded or simply defective.

Regardless of the cause of the accident, we should be alarmed. Accident like that should not suppose to happen at all much more on a monthly basis. Action should be taken to prevent, if not completely eliminate, this kind of accident.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Do We Need a New Law to Protect Disabled Employees from Discrimination?

Last 25 June, the US House of Representatives approved an amendment to the ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The ADA is a law which prohibits “private employers, state and local governments and employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, or in the terms, conditions and privileges of employment.”

Also in places of public acomodation such as schools, restaurants, parks, etc.

This time, the law, termed the ADA Restoration Act of 2008, is born to restore the original intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

In order to give the law more tooth in preventing further discrimination of our disabled citizens, the law is amended to make clear the following, among others.

The ADA should be interpreted broadly to provide ample protection for people who experience disability discrimination.

Impairment that “substantially limits a major life activity, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working”, does not need to limit another major life activity to be considered a disability.”

An episodic impairment or impairment in remission is still a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when it is active.

It is improper to take into consideration most measures that would reduce the impact of impairment, such as medication, prosthetics, or other technology, when determining if an individual is disabled.

Employees are protected from discrimination if their employers discriminate them because they perceive the employee to have a disability, even in fact there was none.

The law is still “wait and see”, pending approval of the Senate and the signature of the President.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Swimming pool Accident

Swimming pools are essentially attractive and eye-catching but with inherent hazards especially for children. These so-called ornaments have caught our attention with so much case of accidents and drowning scenarios.

Like in the recent case of the 6-year-old daughter Ruby, of Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood, where it was held in critical condition following pool accident that happened at the home of Fleetwood’s family friend in Los Angeles.

Ruby was the victim of an accident that is extremely serious, as held by the doctors treating her. According to the hospital spokespeople, she has made remarkable progress and doing quite well though, she still has not made a complete recovery. The doctors and the Fleetwood’ are optimistic that she will recover fully from the injuries she suffered.

Setting aside speculations on what really transpired in the incident, if anything the swimming pool accident and like cases underscores, was the importance of maintaining pool safety at all times, especially where there are children involved.

Whether the pool is situated in private homes, hotels or in public, pool safety must be taken huge considerations (at all times) by swimming pool owners or operators, as these provisions are common source of accidents especially for the sector of the kids.

For otherwise, the failure of the owners or operators to maintain their swimming pool in safe conditions or of them deficient in providing pool safety measures, will hold them liable for any accident or injury that may happen thereto. Specifically, a constitutive premise liability case can be filed against them.

Employee and independent contractor: A comparison

Often times, employers are confused on how to treat someone working for them, whether to treat them as employee or an independent contractor.

To avoid misconceptions and confusions, the California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering a seminar on employment status issues.

This information had been the subject of the blog, “Employee versus Independent Contractor”. The author relayed that the seminar is available from time to time. An online webinar or CD is also available for free.

Well, this will be useful especially to employers. Knowing the difference between the two will greatly affect employer’s dealing on matters such as withholding of income taxes or withholding insurance or medical taxes.

My professors in law school taught me that in determining whether the person providing service is an employee or an independent contractor, the degree of control and independence must be considered.

An employer must have control over the employee’s means and method. Regardless what the employment contract states, if all evidence points to the existence of an employee-employer relationship, then that will hold true.

Now that I am practicing law myself, my guide is to examine the entire relationship and look into the degree or extent of the right to direct and control. Only after doing those steps that I can arrive at a conclusion.

The keys are to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Another Vehicular Accident in California freeway

Another vehicular accident, particularly one involving a big truck, happened in one of California’s freeways just a couple of days ago.

The accident was reported to have occurred on the I-5 Freeway. It involved a big rig truck and an SUV near the San Clemente State Beach. The SUV was the first vehicle to figure in an accident when the truck struck it causing the latter to rollover several times.

The big truck was then reportedly carrying 60,000 pounds of food cargo.

When the two vehicles collide, both the SUV and the truck caught fire. The truck driver was airlifted to a hospital. The SUV driver was lucky to be uninjured.

Vehicular accident, such as this one, is one of the common sources of personal bodily injuries and deaths in the US.

In California freeways in particular, it is very common to see accidents involving large trucks.

For those who are involved, one thing I could suggest is to go after whosoever is responsible for the damage. Under the law, they may sue the driver, or the owner or anyone which contributed to the accident.

They may recover damages by hiring a competent car accident or personal injury lawyer. In doing so, they may realize that they can get a lot more than to grab hasty settlements from insurance companies.

A good accident lawyer is the key.

In the US, there are more than 6 million car accidents and from that figure, 42,642 lost their lives.

One person dies every 13 minutes or 115 each day. Others suffer bodily injury which range from temporary to permanent injuries.