A Request from ABA to The Supreme Court to Insist on Funding Sufficiency for Investigations After a Conviction

In an amicus brief that was filed Friday by the ABA, the legal organization demands that the U.S Supreme Court must not admit the decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans that imposes stiffer customary conditions for investigating post-conviction claims. The PDF brief indicated the intention of Avestas Manuel Carlos to seek funds from the court for hiring a legal professional he thought should have been contracted by the first attorneys he engaged in the Avestas v. Davis hearing. When the Federal law establishes that there is a reasonable necessity for a defendant to be represented, then it permits the solicitation of funding.

A case that came to the limelight was in 2016 when the 5th Circuit set a precedent for individuals like Avestas who demonstrated a reasonable need for representation but could not meet the high cost or standards for legal representation without recourse to funding by the court for the development of the case. But according to the amicus brief by the ABA, the decision by the tribunal was “restrictive and circular and, therefore, it supported the argument. According to the amicus brief, the rule of “substantial need” requires the establishment of a viable claim on the merits of the case by the counsel before the circuit can permit the funding necessary for the investigation of the merits.

The brief noted that the attorneys should have carried out an adequate and independent verification of the facts to uphold Avestas’ argument that his initial counsel was ineffective and so did not meet the requirement of effective assistance. The views are supported by the Criminal Justice Standards and Death Penalty Guidelines by ABA. If the original attorney was ineffective, the brief highly recommends the need for further investigations because the required information might be contained in the records of the prior proceedings by the court. Failure to fund the experts or investigators, according to ABA Death Penalty Representation Project, often leads to ineffective assistance.

And the brief claims that are a problem because in the case like that of Avestas, the ruling by the 5th Circuit sets up a Catch-22 situation for the defendants because they cannot hire an investigator before furnishing the court with the same facts that the investigator would be expected to unearth. The standards are much higher than what the Federal Statutes prescribes. The brief concludes that such results prevent the attorneys from acting in consistence with the professional standards.

Anacapa Law Group Inc Finds Justice for Polluted Water Ways in California

MATTCO Manufacturing is an independently owned company that specializes in offering oilfield services. The manufacturing company was established in 1974 and has been a sole active provider of a plethora of products generated from custom tailored components. The products seek to complete the OEM solutions for pumps as well as draw works equipment companies. The company specializes in the primary production of three products namely: MATTCO, TTE, and Bear. The products originate from the United States of America. Useful as the products may be, the reports channeled to the court stated that this company has contributed to more environmental damage.


On 7th June 2017, an environmental group took the streets with the aim of suing MATTCO Forge Inc. The lawsuit stated that the company was violating the federal law. The community of California against toxics filed a major complaint against MATTCO Forge Inc through the district court of California. The lawsuit indicated that MATTCO Forge Inc was discharging storm water and channeling it to the waterways of Los Angeles. According to the statement released by the complainant, the environment pollution was beyond control, and the waterways were damaged beyond explanation. The plaintiff stated that MATTCO continuously discharges pollutants as well as contaminated water from the manufacturing facility. In turn, the discharge redirects into the waterways.


While pursuing justice, the plaintiff stated that it was important to summon the defendant to comply with the terms of compensation, monitoring as well as reporting requirements. The compensation strategies also included the defendant being ordered to pay up to $ 37,000 penalty per day. The payment was meant to be made from March 21, 2012, through November 2, 2015. The defendant, MATTCO, was also ordered to restore the original state of the water. This is because the company played a primary role in contributing to the damages. Apart from the two settlement schemes, the company was ordered to settle the attorney fees. Through the services of Jesse Colorado from Anacapa Law Group Inc, the state of California received compensation for polluted waterways.

Anacapa Law Group Inc

Anacapa Law Group is a law firm in California. The company has been of excellent service at seeking justice for the people of California. With a team of professional lawyers like Jesse Colorado, a lawyer specializing in environmental justice, Anacapa Law Group is dedicated to improving the California justice system by initiating justice. Since its establishment, the law firm has won several lawsuits geared towards improving the lens of justice in the society.

Source: http://ecologycenter.org/directory/directory-entries/california-communities-against-toxics-ccat/

Massachusetts Mulls Changes to State Marijuana Laws

As it stands right now in Massachusetts, you can smoke it, but you can’t buy it. Although voters approved a 2016 bill that decriminalizes possession of marijuana for recreational purposes, it’s still very much illegal to purchase marijuana from someone else. Lawmakers struggle to amend the law while marijuana advocates worry about straying too far from the original intent of the voters. In addition to possessing marijuana, Massachusetts residents can grow marijuana for their own use. They can also smoke it.

The state is preparing for a big change as licensed marijuana retailers can soon manufacture and sell marijuana in the state. Some say this system of retail sales only creates taxation and hurts people who grow their own marijuana. The retailers can’t start selling until 2018.

Lawmakers are thinking about raising the legal age for marijuana use to twenty five. This would be a significant change from the current legal age of twenty one. Lawmakers also say that higher taxes on marijuana sales are more appropriate than what the law currently calls for. They say that other states tax marijuana at far higher rates than Massachusetts. The law voters passed in Massachusetts taxes marijuana at less than four percent, while the State of Washington taxes marijuana at a rate of thirty-seven percent. Lawmakers who support the changes say that higher taxes could fund social service programs such as job programs for teens or substance abuse treatment.

Opponents of the tax increases say that pushing the taxes upwards can nudge consumers towards other options or substances. They say that it’s only going to lead to a black market or send consumers to other states for purchases. They say that Maine’s rate is ten percent, and Massachusetts shouldn’t make its own rate too much higher, or the state won’t be competitive. Proponents counter that lowering the household plant limit that currently sits at twelve plants can offset some of these concerns and encourage commercial purchases. They also say that they have no intentions to completely change the intent of the voters.

Lawmakers expect to finalize proposals in the next few months. There are a number of ideas on the table including establishing a legal limit for driving while marijuana is active in the driver’s system. They also say that marijuana-laced candy and other edibles need regulation. Lawmakers also want to look at giving local authorities more control over locations and rules for marijuana retail locations.





Advocates protest possible changes in marijuana sales law

Connecticut First State To Have Animal Advocates In Courtroom

A new law in Connecticut makes it the first state in the U.S. to provide court-appointed advocates for animals who have been abused or involved in an animal cruelty case. This law for the animals is similar to those advocates that represent victims in child abuse cases. There are currently seven lawyers and a law professor from Connecticut that have been approved to be these advocates.

Last week, a student of the University of Connecticut was the first to use one of the approved animal advocates in a dogfighting case. The case involved pitbulls who were found to be wandering around and from a home that was filled with feces and rotting food. One of the three dogs had to be euthanized because of the horrible condition it was currently in and the fighting it had been involved in.

The student was unsuccessful in getting the accused man banned from being allowed to participate in a program designed to clear first-time offenders after successful completion. This outcome of the case has happened before and the new Connecticut law was named because of it.

Many studies have been performed to show a direct correlation between animal abusers and violence against people. In one particular study conducted by the Humane Society, the police department of Chicago found that an average of sixty-five percent of arrested individuals who were charged with an animal abuse offense had been arrested afterwards for abuse or violence against another person. Another study which was conducted showed that animal abuse was a big risk factor for people becoming violent against their significant others.

The Humane Society director in Connecticut hopes that with this new law in place, there will begin to be a better procedural outcome in all animal abuse cases. She also stated that the Humane Society is excited about the new law and happy that the judges seem to be taking full advantage of it.

Original Article Source: www.npr.org

The State of Texas Implements a New Law

The State of Texas recently approved a new law regarding immigrants from Mexico. The new law is known as the SB4 and is meant to address the issue of Mexican immigrants entering the state. However, this is not the first time that the state is dealing with immigration issues. These issues existed long before Texas annexation. However, some of these laws to curb immigration in Texas have been deemed as discriminative. Some of the laws that the court recently termed as discriminative include the state ID law as well as restricting maps. Immigrants have had to deal with other major issues such as housing segregation as well as employment discrimination. In the worst scenarios, massacres and mob violence have been experienced in the state all due to immigration.

What you should know about the SB4 law
This law has been tipped to ensure public safety in the state. However, critics of this law say that it puts immigrants at risks of public officials and law enforcement officers. This law copies the one that had earlier been implemented in the state of Texas. Despite the efforts by the state officials to enforce this law, legal fights opposing the law have been filed in the Supreme Court.

This new law means that there are more people to enforce the law other than a police officer. Under the new law, people who can enforce the law include district attorney, sheriffs, city council members as well as county commissions. The new law allows the mentioned people to look into the immigration status of a person in the state of Texas. This means that even campus police and government officials cannot prevent a search by federal immigration officers. The law also has a provision for removing people who fail to enforce the law. This is the part where appointed and elected officials are relieved of duty if they materially limit or prohibit the search by the federal officials. That’s not all as they can be prosecuted with Class A misdemeanor charges. These are serious charges as they attract a fine of $500 for first timers and $25,000 for repeat offenders.

This new law allows employees to turn in people who do not comply with the law. This means that sheriffs, police officers, as well as government officials, will have to be careful in their efforts as they can be rattled at any moment. However, for this to apply, the officials must have probable cause before they can inquire about the immigration status of someone.

The Supreme Court to Decide of the Travel Ban

President Donald Trump has been making headlines for many reasons, but the latest one is banning immigrants from six nations from entering the United States. He achieved this through an executive order. However, this ban did not last for long as it was overturned by the judicial system of the United States. After being overturned, the Justice Department is seeking the Supreme Court to decide on the issue. These requests were made last Thursday and rulings are expected in a week’s time. Regarding this issue, the Department of Justice has requested the Supreme Court to act a little faster as the issue is very pressing. This comes at a bad timing when the judges of the Supreme Court are about to leave for the summer holiday. Even if they make the decision, they will have to defer their arguments after they return in fall.

When the issue was petitioned in courts, the judges reasoned that the president acted in bad faith and the executive order had to be overturned. However, in a seven person’s bench, the Department of Justice will require four votes for the executive order to be upheld. Using the language of the lawyers, this petition is referred to as certiorari petition. If the Supreme Court is to grant the stay for these executive orders, the travel ban will revive the ban. On the other hand, it will offer the justices time to deliberate on the issue.

Experts say that the Supreme Court will agree to listen to the appeal as this is always the case with such cases involving a presidential initiative. After this, a Supreme Court review is expected to follow. However, this is the hardest part of the process as difficult questions are usually asked. Also, many Americans and the world are watching as the decision is expected to have major consequences.

For people who don’t understand the issue, the current government is seeking to ban people from several Muslim nations from entering the United States. The government says that this is until it has established a better vetting procedure. However, the move is seen as a ploy by Donald Trump who is known for religious intolerance and opposition to immigration reforms. During the overturning of the issue by a Virginia Court, the court said that the order violated the first amendment where the government should not prohibit the establishment of religion. The Supreme Court issued a brief saying that it understands the magnitude of the case.

Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial Begins

Bill Cosby goes on trial Monday on alleged sexual assault charges. It will be the first major trial after nearly 60 women have come forward to accuse the comedian of sexual abuse.

Andrea Constand, who’s lawyers gave permission to use her name, accuses Cosby of sexually assaulting her in an incident near his home in Philadelphia in 2004. Constand, claims that Cosby invited her to his home to discuss career opportunities and gave her wine and three blue pills to alleviate stress which “left her unable to speak or move after 30 minutes.” She says Cosby lying on a couch with her and engaging in sexual activity. Constand was 31 at the time, Cosby was 66.
Cosby was charged in December 2015 with three counts of aggravated indecent sexual assault. The crime is a second-degree felony and if convicted, Cosby could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison.
Cosby did meet Constand in 2001 at his alma mater Temple University in Philadelphia where he serves on the Board of Trustees. He has since resigned from this position.
Constand manages the women’s basketball team and had frequented the TV celebrity’s home at dinner parties during her time at Temple. Constand maintains that she rejected Cosby’s sexual advances twice before the alleged assault. She quit her job and moved back to Canada several months after the alleged assault. On January 13, 2005, a year after the alleged assault, she told police of the incident citing flashbacks had triggered her memory.
A criminal investigation was opened in 2005 but was closed due to lack of evidence. At the time, Constand pressed her allegations and Cosby and came to a settlement with included a non-disclosure agreement.
The current trial to begin tomorrow was a result of the unsealing of federal court documents from Constand’s 2005 lawsuit against Cosby. In the deposition transcripts, Cosby admits to providing drugs and having sexual relations with her and other women on different occasions but maintains that the sexual relationship was consensual.
Constand will be the main witness in the trial. Cosby said he will not take the stand, during an interview with Sirius XM’s Michael Smerconish last month.
.Cosby’s attorney, Walter Phillips, has tried repeatedly to get the cased dismissed citing a 12-year delay and other legal caveats. Judge Steven O’Neill has denied their motions.

Career Spotlight: Litigation with Karl Heideck

While litigation attorneys may represent criminal clients, real estate firms or individuals who are filing personal injury claims, people are usually referring to civil issues when they talk about litigation attorneys. These attorneys prepare cases for trial. However, up to 90% of cases do not go to trial. Most cases are settled out of court. In criminal proceedings, defendants usually take a plea deal. In personal injury, real estate and other civil cases, plaintiffs often accept a settlement.

Life As A Litigation Attorney

Most civil litigation lawyers work for law firms that employ several attorneys. Some may work in boutique firms or have a private practice. Larger law firms usually have litigation departments, and some have sub-departments for business, real estate, patents and other types of law. While the majority of civil litigation attorneys work in the private sector, some work for the government. Most government litigators work in criminal law as prosecutors and district attorneys. However, civil litigators work for municipalities and several U.S. attorneys’ offices.

Some corporations are large enough that they employ their own litigators. Large banks and other financial institutions do the same, and some insurance companies employ their own litigation attorneys as well. Companies with a large staff of attorneys may have several working on a case and one or more senior attorneys supervising them.

Duties Of A Civil Litigator

When a litigation attorney picks up a new case, he or she starts with some investigative work. From collecting documents such as witness statements to collecting medical records or necessary evidence to strengthen the case, the attorney and legal staff work hard to find all relevant details. Once the details are in place, civil litigators contact the legal representative of the other party and try to reach a settlement. If an agreeable settlement is reached before a lawsuit is filed, this saves both sides a considerable amount of money.

If a settlement cannot be reached before a lawsuit is filed, the litigator drafts necessary motions and pleadings to file with the court. A summons will be issued, and the defendant’s attorney must respond. An attorney may file additional motions when necessary. For example, a change of venue may be requested if the attorney feels that it would benefit the case and has a legitimate reason for the request.

The discovery phase happens next, and the litigators from each side exchange important information related to the case. This usually involves the exchange of documents. If there is physical evidence related to the case, they view it. There may be additional filings during this phase. Next, the attorneys prepare for trial. Pretrial conferences, depositions and proceedings take place.

In most cases, a settlement is reached after the pretrial stage. The court does not want to spend money on a trial, and businesses or individuals usually do not want the expense of a trial. If a settlement is not reached, the trial process is hectic. Attorneys work hard around the clock to build the best defense and predict any arguments from the other side to form solid responses. They may have to work with experts in a variety of fields to help strengthen the case, and they must continually examine the details of the case.

When the verdict is reached after all trial dates are completed, there may be an appeal process. If a litigator who was expecting to win loses, he or she typically files an appeal. Any issues that were not properly addressed during the trial must be highlighted. The attorney often rethinks strategies and finds additional ways to strengthen the point or points that were supposed to produce a better outcome. Some critical cases require the help of experts. If a litigation attorney who works for a corporation or other large business feels that the appeals process is out of his or her league, experts may be called in. Appellate litigators with experience in a specific area of law can usually help strengthen the appeal for a more favorable outcome.

Karl Heideck’s Tips For Success

Karl Heideck has always had a desire to see others succeed. He released a guide for new or aspiring litigation attorneys to reach their goals. In the guide, he emphasized the importance of making connections and being kind, humble and honest. He says that making connections and treating them as valuable treasures will be helpful along the way. Successful civil litigators are known for being respectful and helpful to others. Mr. Heideck also says that asking questions is important. This is how most litigation attorneys build their knowledge and success faster. He says that choosing a specialty should always require a great deal of thought, and putting a lot of effort into getting an ideal first associate’s position is also crucial.

For more information, follow Karl Heideck on Twitter.

Who Is Karl Heideck?

Karl Heideck
Who is Karl Heideck?

Karl Heideck is a talented and persistent attorney who specializes in compliance and risk management. He serves the greater Philadelphia area and has experience as a successful litigator.

Mr. Heideck is listed with Hire Council and has been a member since 2015. He provides services such as risk management advising and compliance consulting. His litigation areas of expertise go beyond these to include product liability, corporate law, employment proceedings and commercial litigation. In addition to being a dedicated litigator, adviser and consultant, Mr. Heideck is a talented writer who is devoted to his blog. The purpose of his blog is to explain legal news and changes to the public and especially to Pennsylvania residents.

Mr. Heideck graduated from Swarthmore College with an undergraduate degree in 2003 and earned a law degree from James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University in 2009. He has been working in related positions in the Philadelphia area for over 10 years. In addition to being an associate at Conrad O’Brien, he worked with Pepper Hamilton LLP. His experiences gave him the skills he uses today to help his clients solve complex legal matters. He was exposed to all steps involved in litigation during his time with Conrad O’Brien.

More by Karl Heideck:
Karl Heideck’s Guide to Pennsylvania Employment Law for Small Businesses

Karl Heideck Explains Philadelphia’s Newest Employment Law

Some of Pennsylvania’s Weirdest Laws, According to Karl Heideck


How to Know if You Have a Premises Liability Claim

A premises liability claim can usually be made if you were injured on another person’s property due to that property’s dangerous or unsafe conditions.

Premises liability cases are a subset of personal injury law, and premises liability cases are similarly based on negligence.

Do You Have a Claim?

Like most personal injury cases, getting a settlement and winning a premises liability case depends on proving negligence.

If you incur an injury on someone else’s property, then you need to show that your injury was the result of the owner’s negligence in maintaining his property.

In more precise legal terms, winning a premises liability case depends on showing that the property owner breached a “duty of care.”You may even have a case if you were injured on an owner’s property by a third party.

For instance, some assault cases that occur on an owner’s property can still hold the owner legally accountable for injuries. These are known as third-party premises liability cases. The negligent owner in a third-party premises case is said to be “vicariously liable” since the assault occurred on his property.

It’s important to remember, though, that premises liability cases center around proving that the property owner was negligent, and that the negligence resulted in your personal injury.

Simply because you are injured on another person’s property is necessary but insufficient grounds for a premises liability case – the owner must have known that the premises were in a dangerous condition and failed to take action to make the property more safe. This is where the owner would have breached his duty of care.

Common Premises Liability Cases

A property owner has a responsibility to maintain a certain level of safety when it comes to visitors’ safety.

If the owner fails to maintain a reasonable level of safety and someone gets injured, that’s when a premises liability claim might come into play.

Here are some of the most prevalent kinds of premises liability cases that people in California file against negligent property owners:

  • Dog bites
  • Slipping accidents
  • Elevator accidents
  • Inadequate property maintenance
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Restaurant accidents
  • Retail store accidents

Premises liability cases cover a broad spectrum of personality injury cases. The commonality across these premises liability cases, though, is a negligent property owner that failed to maintain safe conditions, which resulted in a personal injury.

Premises Liability in California

California premises liability cases involve aspects of both case law and statute law. In California, a property owner has a responsibility to maintain safe conditions.

The property owner has to show “due care” towards keeping his property safe and, if s/he fails to do that, then that might be a breach of the owner’s legal duty and grounds for a premises liability case.

Winning a premises liability case in California largely depends on showing that the property owner owned and controlled the premises at the time of the accident.

If the owner had no control over the premises when your accident occurred, then s/he can’t be held liable since the owner didn’t have a duty to exercise a reasonable care to prevent the personal injury.

In the state of California, the property owner’s duty of care extends to both “invitees” and “licensees.”

An invitee is a person who has implied permission to come onto the property (e.g., friends) whereas a licensee is coming onto the owner’s property for his own reasons (e.g., salesperson). Trespassers, unlike invitees and licensees, are owed a far smaller duty of care.

Contact a personal injury lawyer today if you’ve suffered a personal injury and you feel the property owner is responsible.

What is Professional Negligence?

In the legal world, there are many names for professional negligence including professional malpractice and professional liability. Regardless of the terminology used, it means one thing: you trusted a professional to resolve an issue for you and instead you were injured.

As you may have noticed the word “professional” is in every term used when discuss this type of malpractice. That is because it involves someone who is practicing a skilled profession owing you a duty of care. This professional may be a:

  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Lawyer
  • Nurse
  • Accountant

The Meaning of Negligence

When you hire a professional, that person owes you a duty of care to ensure he does not harm you in some kind of way. For instance, a doctor is not supposed to cause an injury or make a pre-existing injury worse. The term malpractice means that the professional gave you substandard care. Remember, by California law a professional does not have to provide you with high quality or superior care. She must provide the standard of care California expects her to give you.

When you receive substandard care it means that the professional failed to give you the type of care you deserved. The state measures this “standard of care” by what another skilled professional would provide in the same or similar circumstances. For example, a doctor misdiagnosed your heart attack symptoms as acid reflux. Under the same or similar circumstances another San Francisco doctor would have accurately diagnosed your heart attack, then you received substandard care.

Type of Negligence

When a professional provides you with substandard care it is known as breach of duty. This simply means he did not do what he was supposed to do.

How does a professional breach a duty of care? Well, there are many different ways such as:

  • Making an error. The professional acted badly when providing care. This could be a pharmacist filling a prescription with the wrong medication for your child. She became deathly ill.
  • Making an omission. An omission means the professional was supposed to do something, but did not. In other words, he failed to act. This could be a lawyer who was supposed to submit an emergency filing, but did not. As a result, you lost your case.
  • Ignorance. Ignorance means that the professional should have known what to do. This could be an anesthesiologist who should have known to watch your family member’s vital signs during a procedure. He didn’t and your loved one died.
  • Intentional wrongdoing. Intentional wrongdoing means that the professional purposely did something wrong. This could be nurse who purposely withheld medication from your loved one.

The Professional Negligence Injured You in Some Way

In order to provide professional negligence, there must be proof that you were injured. This separates the professional malpractice cases from those were a professional provided substandard care, but no one was injured. Individuals in the latter category typically have no malpractice case.

What is considered an injury?

It depends on the type of professional negligence case. In a malpractice case against a doctor it means sustaining an injury. In a lawyer malpractice case it may be losing custody of your children if the motion was not filed properly.

Damages are considered the monetary award you will receive to compensate for the substandard care you received. To understand more about your potential professional negligence claim, talk to a San Francisco lawyer. A personal injury lawyer will look over the facts of your case and advise you whether to proceed or not. You can schedule an initial consultation for free to find out the answers you need.

What is a Third Party Claim?

A third party claim is also known as a third party proceeding, and this type of claim involves someone attempting to bring a third party into litigation. Perhaps providing an example of a third-party claim and contrasting a third party claim with a first party claim will help give you a fuller idea of what a third party claim is.

First-Party Claim Vs. Third-Party Claim

The terms first-party claim and third-party claim are both pieces of terminology within insurance law and personal injury law. Under insurance contracts, the insured person is considered the first party and the insurance company itself is considered the second party.

So, where does the third party enter the picture? A third party is someone foreign to the insurance policy covering the insured (first party) and the insurance company (second party).

For example, if person A is insured by Acme Insurance Company, then person A is the first party and Acme Insurance Company is the second party. To continue the example, a third party would be someone trying to engage the Acme Insurance Company in litigation.

Perhaps a more concrete example would help. If your home gets wrecked by a hurricane, then the owner of the homeowner’s insurance policy (the first party) contacts the insurance company (second party) to provide first-party coverage and help the homeowner recover financially from the property damage.

Third-Party Claims and Insurance Claims

A third party, then, is someone outside of the contract between the first party and the second party. Third-party claims are the most frequent type of car insurance claim made within the United States.

Filing a claim against another driver’s car insurance company following a car accident is a third-party claim. You are seeking to bring the other person’s insurance company (a third party from your perspective) into litigation, and this kind of litigation is normally a liability claim.

A third-party claim is sometimes necessary to take following a car accident because you may have suffered a personal injury or damage to your car, yet the other person’s insurance company doesn’t have a contract with you per se.

The insurance contract is between the person that hit you (first party) and their insurance company (second party), so you (the third party) need to bring the other person’s insurance company into litigation in order to receive compensation for possible personal injuries or pain and suffering sustained during or after the accident.

Examples of Third-Party Claims

If, say, you were driving a company car on a work-related assignment and you got into a car accident, then you might be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses by filing a third-party claim against the insurance company that your employer has.

Lost wages as well as pain and suffering could be compensated for by the other person’s insurance policy if the other person was deemed at fault in the accident. These kinds of third-party claims are often liability claims because another party is at least partially responsible for your personal injury or possible pain and suffering.

Under rare circumstances, someone could file both a first-party claim and a third-party claim against an insurance company. If, say, you were a passenger if your own car and your friend driving the vehicle got into an accident. You could, then, file a first-party claim with your own insurance company and file a third-party claim.

Summing Up

First-party claims are between a policy holder (first party) and an insurance company (second party) whereas a third-party claim is filed by an outsider to that insurance contract. Third-party claims are usually associated with car insurance claims and typically involve a liability claim.

Mediation and Arbitration

A good lawyer always wants what’s best for the client and, in many cases, that involves alternative dispute resolution processes that keep client fees more manageable and prevents clients from having to step foot in a courtroom. Mediation and arbitration have helped thousands of couples to navigate their divorce agreements as peacefully as possible, keeps families from going to court over child custody issues or entering the agonizing probate process, and they have helped corporate clients resolve any number of disputes.

Work With an  Arbitration Lawyer for Win-Win Resolutions

Most people automatically envision “going to the courthouse” when they think about legal disputes. In fact, the courtroom should always be the last alternative. By the time you get to court, you have spent quite a bit of time, energy and money – and more will continue to be spent as long as the case is being worked out in front of a judge. Instead, we recommend alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a means of saving your money, time and precious life energy. In best case scenarios, ADR will also help to preserve your personal and professional relationships, which is a win-win situation for all.

What is Mediation?

A lawyer specializing in mediation can help you to resolve a multitude of disputes ranging from personal injury claims, conflicts with employees and management, small claims issues to disputes between neighbors or divorce and child custody agreements. Both parties must be in agreement regarding the mediator who oversees the process. The mediator remains an entirely neutral facilitator; he is not there to agree or disagree with either party, assess blame, or in any way affect the final outcome of the mediation process other than to act as a resource in regards to California law. However, it is the mediator’s job to facilitate concessions from either side when things are at a stand-still in order to avoid further conflict, dispute or a potential trial.

In our experience, the vast majority of clients who use mediation as a means of settling their claims are successful in resolving their dispute(s). If, for some reason, both parties are unable to come to a resolution, then you have the right to proceed with a trial and we can help you to prepare for the next step.

What is Arbitration?

Typically, the arbitration process is more formal than mediation. In most cases, arbitration occurs as the result of a pre-dispute contract that stipulates both parties must seek arbitration before any conflict or dispute can be taken to court. There are two different forms of arbitration: Binding and Non-Binding.

Binding arbitration means that the arbitrator’s decision is final and cannot be overturned or reversed except for extremely limited circumstances. If the arbitration is non-binding, either party can reject the arbitrator’s decision and pursue a trial.

What is a Personal Injury Lawyer?

A personal injury lawyer is just like other types of lawyers who advises, represents and advocates on behalf on their clients. What makes this type of lawyer different from a criminal or entertainment lawyer is the area of law he or she specializes.

Tort Law

Tort law includes civil or private injuries or wrongs such as breach of contract, automobile accidents, dog bites, or defamation. Tort law has two goals:

  • To make the injured party “whole” again.
  • To discourage other people from doing the same offense.

Under tort law, a personal injury lawyer can represent a plaintiff or defendant in a personal injury case. If the personal injury lawyer represent a plaintiff, he or she is fighting for compensation such as:

  • Past reasonable medical expenses.
  • Future medical expenses.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Legal costs.
  • Loss of earning capacity.
  • Attorney fees.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Loss of companionship or consortium.
  • Receiving a fair settlement from defendant or insurance companies.

Personal Injury Lawyer’s Duties

Personal injury lawyers often handle more than one case at a time. Regardless of the number of cases, he or she has, the duties are still the same. He or she:

  • Investigates claims.
  • Talk with potential clients.
  • Accept or decline to represent clients based on evaluating the merits of a case.
  • Gather evidence.
  • Build a case based on a legal theory.
  • Research a particular case law.
  • Writes a letter to opposing parties to inform them about the intent to sue.
  • Draft and file any lawsuits.
  • Conduct discovery. This is where a lawyer exchanges information with opposing counsel. The purpose is to gather additional evidence. It also includes deposing and interviewing witnesses and parties to the case.
  • Draft and file any motions and pleadings.
  • Prepare for trial.
  • Present evidence at trial.
  • Counsel clients.
  • Negotiate settlements.

Typically, a personal injury lawyer completes all these tasks on a contingency basis. This means they work for free until the case is resolved. If the lawyer wins the case, he or she receives a payment. The payment could be anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of the award. A “win” can be a jury verdict or a negotiated settlement. However, if a personal injury lawyer doesn’t win or settle the case, he or she doesn’t receive any money.

Cases that Require a Personal Injury Lawyer

Some cases that are considered simple may not require the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. However, there are many situations where having a lawyer is vital to a client’s case. These cases include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Medical malpractice.
  • An insurance company that refuses to pay a client.
  • Premise liability cases.
  • Wrongful death lawsuits.
  • Libel, defamation and slander lawsuits.
  • Product liability cases.
  • Cases involving permanent injuries and emotional distress.

In many situations, what begins as a simple personal injury case can become very complex. However, a personal injury lawyer’s job is to represent his or her client and find the best way to resolve the legal dispute.

What is Wrongful Death?

What are wrongful death lawsuits and when might they be brought against another person? A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of civil action that can be brought against a company or person responsible for another’s death.

Wrongful Death and Negligence

Normally, wrongful death lawsuits are filed by surviving family and brought against, for instance, a car company for selling a faulty vehicle or a liquor store owner for selling alcohol to a minor that lead to a roadside fatality.

Wrongful death claims usually involve wrongdoing or some form of negligence. A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought against anyone from a doctor or highway engineer to car manufacturer.

If a car manufacture, for example, knowingly ships out vehicles with faulty parts, then the car manufacturer might face a wrongful death lawsuit subsequent to a fatal accident tied to those faulty parts.

Alternatively, a physician who prescribes too high a dose that ultimately leads to a wrongful death could face a wrongful death lawsuit.

Although some cases of wrongful death are indeed murder, many cases of wrongful death involve simple negligence.

Civil Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In most cases a close family member or spouse can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. If found guilty of wrongful death, the defendant bringing the wrongful death lawsuit will be “made whole” and awarded civil damages.

Civil damages are simply monetary awards given to the plaintiff from a guilty defendant. Civil damages can be general or special – general damages are typically more intangible and include compensations for emotional distress as well as pain and suffering.

Special damages include more quantifiable payments. Lost wages and even future income that would have been generated by that family member had s/he not suffered a wrongful death could both be considered special damages.

Before contacting a law firm, make sure that you document all of the facts surrounding the timing and circumstances of the wrongful death. Contact any witnesses who could help strengthen your wrongful death lawsuit as well.

Individual circumstances and the amount of negligence largely dictate how much compensation in civil damages the surviving kin receive for a wrongful death.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in California

In California, hospital and funeral bills are part of the special damages that are paid to the surviving kin. Future financial support that would have been generated had the wrongful death not occurred also constitute civil damages payable to surviving kin.

A very common rationale behind filing a wrongful death lawsuit is to address medical malpractice that resulted in wrongful death. Medical malpractice is a form of negligence and, if proven in court and linked to a wrongful death, could entitle surviving kin to general and special civil damages.

In California, if the wrongful death occurred in a patient who had less than a 50-50 chance of survival, then the wrongful death lawsuit has a much worse chance of standing up in court. The reasoning behind this is that negligence by a physician would be harder to link to a wrongful death if the patient were already in a poor state of health.

Also, since the California Supreme Court has ruled that a fetus is not a person, wrongful death lawsuits are not applicable in this area.

Finally, California has a statute of limitations for wrongful death cases. This means that if surviving kin or a spouse fails to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the two year timeframe following the wrongful death, then the California civil court system might not hear the case.

Do You Need a Restraining Order?

A restraining order is a court order or injunction to do or cease doing particular acts. In practical terms, a restraining order is normally used in cases involving domestic violence, assault, stalking and harassment.

Within the United States, every individual state has some restraining order related to domestic violence cases. Most states have their own rules for restraining orders related to sexual assault and stalking.

Most restraining orders in California have an expiration date. This basically means that in the state of California, the day that your restraining order ends you are no longer protected legally.

If you continue to be concerned about your safety or the safety of your loved ones, you may file for renewal in your restraining order. A renewal of a restraining order can sometimes render the restraining order permanent.

Purpose of a Restraining Order

Normally a restraining order is used to put distance between someone being harassed and the person supposedly doing the harassing.

Thus, by court injunction, an abuser may be ordered to remain a certain distance from the school, home or workplace of the person who successfully filed the restraining order.

It is important to bear in mind that a restraining order is a civil order that does not result in dirtying up the criminal record of the supposed abuser.

Domestic Violence Victims

Victims of domestic violence frequently file restraining orders against their abusers. Domestic violence can include a whole range of actions, including: harassment, kidnapping, burglary, threats of violence, stalking, and assault.

If you have been subjected to any of these actions, you might be eligible to file for a restraining order against your abuser. A restraining order is a court injunction in which the judge will sign an order of protection that forces the abuser to comply with the law.

Consequences of a Restraining Order

A restraining order can prevent the abuser from contacting you or your family by phone or direct contact. Further, a restraining order could also force the abuser to leave a shared residence. A judge may decide to tell an abuser to leave even when the abuser owns the deed to the home.

If you are a parent and the victim of domestic violence, through a restraining order you may be awarded custody of minor children under your care. In addition, a restraining order can affect child support payments as well as visitation rights.

Depending on the state in which the restraining order is filed, the abuser may have to pay for things like utility bills, doctor’s appointments and even a loss of earnings related to the incident that brought about the restraining order.

In cases of extreme domestic violence, a judge could order the abuser seek treatment or order a police escort to come along with an abuser as he removes his personal possessions from the place of residence.

Signs that You Need a Restraining Order

Of course, it’s only natural to get a restraining order if you are the victim of domestic violence, assault, stalking or harassment. Sometimes, however, things aren’t as clear-cut.

The primary purpose of a restraining order is to keep the abused party safe from future harm. If you are concerned about the safety of yourself or your family members, it might be time to look into getting a restraining order.

Especially if the abuser has a long history of abuse, getting a restraining order and going through the right judicial channels and possibly police protection, could be the deciding factor in keeping you and your loved ones safe.