How to Know if You’re Being Discriminated Against

Discrimination in business is a complex subject, but at its core, it revolves around whether or not you are being treated fairly and equally by an employer. Most types of discrimination fall into one or more of the following categories – if you believe you’re being discriminated against and it doesn’t match any of these, you may need to consult an attorney for more information.

Race and Ethnicity

Race and Ethnicity are an unfortunately common source of discrimination in the workplace, despite the fact that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act specifically prohibits using race or color in regards to many hiring decisions. It also rejects the use of stereotypes for potential employees, but this doesn’t always stop companies from displaying a bias.

Example: Generic Business Company is a national corporation with offices in twelve states. Twenty-seven percent of its workforce is African-American, and another ten percent is Hispanic, but executive and managerial positions are staffed exclusively by Caucasians. Darryl Johnson is an African-American who has been with the company for seventeen years, and has performed as well (or better than) many people who have been promoted to managers… and repeatedly been denied a promotion despite the fact that his performance demonstrates he deserves it. He is probably being discriminated against.

Gender and Sexual Orientation

Often referred to merely as ‘sex’ in documents, there are times when one’s gender or sexual orientation have an adverse impact on their ability to succeed within the company. This type of discrimination is typically – but not always – financial.

Example: Betty Brown is a manager at Generic Business Company, where she makes an annual salary of $60,580. This is an average salary for female managers in the company, but male managers have an average salary of $75,931, even if they perform worse (and have been employed for a shorter amount of time) than Betty. This is a probable case of gender discrimination, and Betty would be entirely within her rights to inquire about the discrepancy.

Age

Some companies don’t like the costs associated with having older workers, but federal guidelines are clear that age is not an acceptable reason for denying promotions, hiring, or benefits.

Example: Robert Jeffson is a 54-year-old male who has been with Generic Business Company for 30 years. Over that time, he has performed well and steadily been rewarded with raises. However, an economic downturn has cut into the business’ cash reserves, and it decided to fire him because of his ‘inappropriate age for the position he holds’. Robert has a discrimination case on his hands.

Disability

This is the most complex area of discrimination. Companies cannot discriminate against employees who suffer in a way outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, neither are companies required to lower their quality standards or go to “undue hardship” to provide for that employee.

Example: Carl cannot use his legs, and requires a wheelchair to move around the office. Generic Business Company hired him, but refused to provide him with an elevator key, slowing his movement between floors… then fired him for “consistently failing to move between areas in a timely manner”. GBC’s failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for his disability, then blaming him for problems caused by this, is a clear case of discrimination based on a disability.

Note: In all cases, there are times when exceptions are made to the rules. For example, many companies require bathrooms to be cleaned exclusively by individuals of the same gender as those using it. Refusing to hire a woman to clean the men’s bathroom – or the other way around – is not necessarily discrimination.

What to do if You Get in a Car Accident?

Each year US roadways see over 500,000 crashes. You’ll probably be in at least one crash in your lifetime. Knowing what to do ahead of time can save you time, money, and frustration. In a serious crash, knowing what to do can even save your life, preserve your health, and protect your financial security. Here is what you need to do when you’ve been in a car accident, as well as some tips about what NOT to do.

Protect Your Safety

The first and most important thing to do right after a car crash is protect your own safety. If nobody is hurt, this will prevent them from getting hurt, and if someone is hurt, it will keep him or her from being hurt more seriously. You SHOULD NOT try to move anyone with neck or back pain, or who has loss of sensation or inability to move their arms or legs, as these can be signs of a spinal injury and any attempt to move the person could result in permanent paralysis. The only exception is if the injured person is in immediate danger, as, for example, if the car is on fire. In that case, do whatever is necessary to get the injured person away from the hazard.

Move the Car Out of Traffic

Generally, if your car is driveable, the best thing to do is to steer to a side area out of the way of traffic, park, and get out. However, sometimes criminals lightly tap the bumper of a potential victim in order to lure her out of the car. If you’re in a deserted area late at night, motion the other driver to follow you to a well-lit location. If the car isn’t drivable, push it out of the way if you can do so without putting yourself in danger, or (if in a deserted area late at night), remain in the car with the doors locked and call the police from a cell phone.

Call the Police

You should call your local police or highway patrol after any car accident, even a minor one. Having a police report can help you deal with your insurance company. Even if you were at fault, it’s still a good idea to get the police involved. Even if you hit the other car, it’s possible the other driver was turning illegally or did something else wrong, which might reduce your culpability. If the crash is serious or someone is hurt, call 911, Otherwise, you local police dispatch number is your best bet.

Exchange Insurance Information

Exchange insurance information with the other driver. In most areas, local governments require liability insurance, which can help pay for car repairs, medical bills, or any other expenses you may have, especially if you weren’t at fault. If the other driver flees, try to get his or her license plate number.

Get Checked Out

Even if you don’t think anyone was hurt, it’s a good idea to have everyone involved checked out by a doctor. A car accident is a scary, and the adrenaline your body produces during an emergency is a natural painkiller. You should have x-rays done of any area of your body that experienced any form of impact, as well as any other tests your doctor recommends. It’s also a good idea to have a follow-up appointment about a week or two after the accident.

Notify Your Insurance Company

Finally, notify your insurance company. Even if you were at fault, you need to let your insurance know about the accident. That way, they can help you figure out what to do.

Can a Psychiatric Diagnosis Hurt You in a Divorce?

One in four adults will experience mental health issues at some point during their lives.  Coupled with the statistic that between 40 and 50% of marriages will end in divorce, you don’t have to be a mathematician to work out that the overlap between those two sets of figures is substantial, and that mental health issues are likely to have figured highly in many of those decisions to separate.

However, mental health problems aren’t just a factor in deciding to split, they can also heavily influence how your divorce proceeds, the outcome with regard to the final settlement, and even how family relationships are affected.  Your or your spouse’s decision to disclose a mental health issue diagnosis during divorce proceedings is entirely your or their own, but it’s worth bearing in mind the following, if only to get some clarity on what is already a very stressful situation for the whole family.

  • Undiagnosed conditions can have a significant bearing on events leading to a split in the first place – illnesses such as personality disorders can be very difficult to pin down, as the sufferer can be quite adept at turning the problems round on their partner, and no diagnosis means no treatment.  Divorcing under these circumstances can be extremely fraught, as it is unlikely that a reasonable result can be found without a great deal of distress on both sides.
  • Any diagnosis of depression or other mental health issues will already be bewildering for your children to comprehend, and they may resent the parent that won’t interact with them, or is otherwise emotionally absent.  If you can, putting the needs of your children first and parting as amicably as possible will help to lessen any blame they may place upon their parent over their illness.  Many states accept diagnosis with a mental illness as perfect grounds for a no-fault divorce, which can reduce heartache and bad feeling for all parties.
  • In terms of the settlement awarded, a psychiatric diagnosis could actually work in the favor of the mentally ill partner.  For example, a judge may rule that they are in need of financial support from their former spouse, especially if they have custody of any children and are otherwise capable of providing loving and appropriate care.

If the marriage breakdown is less amicable, and the mental health issues that have caused it have led to erratic and even violent behavior, it is important to keep an accurate and truthful record of events, and to have independent witnesses for any negotiations over property, custody, and finances.  If you fear for your physical well-being, or fear that the partner that is ill may harm others or themselves, it is extremely important to know where you can access immediate and appropriate assistance.  This may be either from the police or from mental health services, or if the illness is symptomatic or resulting from alcohol or substance abuse, an appropriate case worker or counselor.

There is no clear answer as to whether a psychiatric diagnosis will hurt or help you during divorce proceedings, but this one thing is certain; if you have children, any new openness and honesty you achieve as a result of full disclosure will enable you to continue to co-parent in a respectful and understanding manner.

Are You Eligible for Workers Comp in California?

You get injured while working. Should you report it or go to your own doctor instead? In California, every employer must carry workers comp insurance. And any injury sustained on the job is covered by that insurance.

What makes you eligible for workers’ compensation?

There are three general requirements for determining whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation.

  • Your employer must be required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
  • You must be an employee of that employer.
  • You must have an injury or illness that is work-related.

Let’s take them one at a time.

Employer required to provide coverage

In the state of California, any company or business that has one employee or more must carry workers’ compensation insurance, or provide proof they are self-insured. There are very few exceptions to this law, so virtually everyone is covered.

Employee of company

To be eligible for workers’ comp, you must be an employee of the company.

Independent contractors are usually not eligible in case of an injury. Volunteers are also usually not covered, though California does allow non-profit organizations to opt in to provide coverage for volunteers.

There are gray areas in the law, however. Some employers try to categorize people as independent contractors, when, by legal definition, they are actually employees. In those cases, the injured employee may be eligible for coverage under their employer’s policy (if it exists).

Work-related injury or illness

The injury or illness must be work-related. In most cases, this is easy to determine. You injured your shoulder while carrying a heavy box at work. You tripped and fell down the stairs at work. You developed carpal tunnel syndrome due to heavy use of the computer keyboard. Those are all easy to see as work-related injuries.

Some injuries or illnesses may not be so easy to figure out if they are work-related or not. Here are a few examples:

  • If you are out of the building, grabbing a sandwich for yourself at a nearby deli and sustain an injury, then you are likely not covered. However, if you are there picking up a lunch order for your employer, you may be covered.
  • You are attending an employee baseball game off hours. You get hit by a ball and sustain an injury. The injury is likely covered by workers’ comp. After the game ends, if you trip getting into your car and sustain an injury, you may or may not be covered.
  • If you are on a business trip and sustain an injury, it is likely covered. If you routinely drive a company car back and forth to work, and sustain an injury during your commute, you are likely covered. If you are driving your own car and sustain an injury during your commute, it is likely not covered.

If you have a work-related injury, you may need to seek legal counsel to make sure you get the proper medical care, disability benefits, and compensation you are eligible for.

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.

Why Hire a Divorce Attorney?

Approximately half of marriages end in divorce, and with no-fault divorces you can have a clean break from a spouse without proving any wrongdoing.

That said, filing for divorce is always an emotional decision that neither spouse takes lightly. A divorce attorney can patiently walk you through no-fault or contested divorce proceedings in a way that fits your schedule and gives you options.

Expertise of Divorce Attorneys

The process of divorce normally proceeds according to state law rather than federal mandates. California, in fact, approved no-fault divorces over two generations ago and continues to offer no-fault divorces to this day.

A divorce attorney has experience in an area of law known as civil law. This area of law is concerned with handling the sometimes emotionally fraught emotions between private relations and coming to mutually beneficial solutions for each party.

Let’s face it – divorce can be complicated and messy. Annulling a marriage, child custody and visitation rights are serious matters that require the help of an objective third party.

A qualified divorce attorney or family law attorney can help you achieve control and move your life in a more positive direction.

Avoid Costly Errors

Divorce proceedings can take six to twelve months to complete even with an experienced divorce attorney. In a state like California that has a long history of allowing for no-fault divorces, moreover, it can be challenging to figure out your options by going it alone.

California allows three ways to end a marriage or domestic partnership: marriage annulment, divorce and legal separation. Choosing one of these options and filling out a petition or summons can be challenging enough – knowing all of your rights when it comes to responding to, say, a marriage annulment can add to the complications.

Whether you’re filing for divorce or responding to one, the process is tremendously stressful for those embroiled in divorce proceedings. The areas of civil law associated with divorce are very complicated. Just hearing the word “divorce” can also make it challenging to think clearly and without strong emotions like anger, regret and anxiety.

An experienced divorce attorney can walk you through every form you’ll need to endorse and every asset you’ll need to appraise in order to move on with your life.

Align Yourself with an Expert

Divorce can be very high stakes and permanently alter the lifestyles of both spouses as well as children and other family members. Potentially millions of dollars are at stake and child visitation rights as well as child support payments hang in the balance.

An experienced divorce attorney or family law lawyer understands all of the procedural issues surrounding no-fault divorces, contested divorces, and child custody cases.

A family law attorney can help you file the proper paperwork, properly appraise all of your assets and make a convincing case to a judge. Aligning with an experienced expert in divorce proceedings can get the the best child support and alimony outcomes available given your unique circumstances.

Get In Touch Today

Set up a consultation with a divorce attorney today to get a better grasp of all of your legal options. California is a no-fault divorce state, yet judges also hear cases over legal separation and marriage annulments. Contact our divorce attorneys today to find out which option is best for you.

California Minimum Wage

The federal government establishes a minimum wage requiring employers to pay their workers a minimum of $7.25 an hour. Politicians are currently debating whether or not to raise that to a more reasonable amount.

Each state can establish its own minimum wage requirement as long as it at least meets the federal requirement. States can require employers to pay a higher minimum wage, but they cannot go below the minimum established by federal law.

California has an established minimum wage of $9 an hour. On January 1, 2016, that will increase to $10. The minimum wage requirement applies to both employers and employees. Employers cannot pay less than the minimum wage and employees are prohibited from agreeing to work for less than that amount. The law only applies to employees and not to those who work as independent contractors. There are some exceptions to the minimum wage requirement and nuances specific to California employers and employees.

Exceptions to the minimum wage requirement

There are some categories of workers to whom employers are not required to pay the minimum wage. They include:

  • Outside sales people or employees for whom generating outside sales is their main job.
  • The employer’s parents, children or spouse.
  • Babysitters under the age of 18.
  • Sheepherders. There is a minimum monthly wage instead of an hourly wage for sheepherders since they work unusual hours and generally live on the farm where they are working.
  • On the job learners may be paid 85 percent of the minimum wage during their first 160 hours of employment while they are learning. This is only if the worker has no previous experience in doing the specific job and is genuinely learning how to do the work.
  • Physically or disabled workers who are employed by nonprofit organizations who have obtained a special license from the Labor Department authorizing them to pay less than the minimum wage.

Specific rules applicable to the way employers calculate minimum wage

California law has some specific rules employers must follow to be sure the minimum wage law is not circumvented. Employees also need to be aware of the laws so they know what they can and cannot expect.

  • Holidays: California employers are not required to provide paid holidays to any employee. If they do so, it is according to their specific policy or to a collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, employees who work on a day considered a holiday are only entitled to be paid at the legally established hourly minimum wage and nothing more.
  • Tips: These belong to the employee who receives the tip. The employer must still pay the minimum hourly wage and what the employee receives as a tip is the employee’s to keep. It cannot be deducted from the minimum wage the employer is required to pay. If the tip is added on to a credit card charge and not left in cash, the employer may not deduct even one cent from the amount for credit card processing.
  • Benefits of meals and lodging: An employer and employee may agree in writing that meals and lodging may be provided to the employee to make up part of the minimum wage requirement. There are legal limits on how much of these expenses can be used to make up the minimum wage.

Whether you are an employer wanting to be sure you are complying with the minimum wage requirement, or an employee concerned about the accuracy of your pay, a California business and employment attorney can help you with your questions.

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.

How’s California Spousal Support Determined?

During the divorce process you might encounter a petition for spousal support. Spousal support, sometimes called alimony, is not an uncommon request and may be granted, along with child support (or in the absence of child support) for a number of reasons. The court decides what the appropriate spousal support is for each particular case, by taking into consideration the specifics of the case, the marriage, the length of the marriage as well as other circumstances.

Spousal Support in California

Spousal support, often a hot button issue, is decided in California by considering many different aspects of the marriage, and the life that will be led by both parties after the marriage is dissolved. The length of the marriage often comes into play when a court is ruling on spousal support. The length of the marriage greatly impacts whether or not spousal support will be granted, often times. A judge will also consider whether or not the person who is asking for spousal support can support themselves with marketable skills. For example, if a 20 year marriage dissolves in which the wife has never worked, she is unlikely to have marketable skills, and, thus will require support until marketable skills or necessary education is achieved.

A court will also take into account whether or not the party asking for spousal support has had their income potential impaired by their time spent outside the workforce because of the marriage. The court will decide whether or not the supported party was removed from the workforce to devote time to their marriage and domestic work, as well.

The supporting party’s needs are also taken into account when dealing with spousal support in court. For example, a judge will consider the lifestyle that both parties have become accustom to in the marriage, and he or she will also look at the monetary obligations of both parties. The supporting party must be able to sustain their own lifestyle appropriately while paying spousal support, and the court will not impose a financial hardship on one party in the interest of the other.

How Does Child Support Impact Spousal Support

Spousal support can be granted regardless of whether or not children were conceived during the marriage, however, many courts rule more favorably for spousal support if there are children involved, specifically, if the supported individual gave up their employment in the interest of caring for children. In many cases, the court agrees that the supported party should not take time away from the raising of children, as they had done during the marriage, for gainful employment and will rule in favor of spousal support to keep the children in a lifestyle they are both familiar and comfortable with. With that being said, however, spousal support can have an end date, and in cases were raising children is a deciding factor, the spousal support may end when the children involved in the case reach an age in which they can reasonably care for themselves.

The Length of Spousal Support

Many people think of spousal support as a never ending agreement. That simply is not the case. In the state of California, most spousal support decrees are for no longer than half the length of the marriage. This is considered enough time for the supported party to gain the skills they need to support their own lifestyle and interests. The length of the marriage, the age and the health of the parties, and other previsions may alter that time frame, however.

Poor Performance and Unemployment?

If you have fired an employee for the reason of poor performance, they may still be eligible to receive unemployment. Depending upon the state that you live in, most states consider workers who are terminated because of performance issue to still be eligible in many instances, provided they meet other work requirements.

What Does Poor Performance Mean?

Poor performance can be considered a catch-all term for several different reasons why an employee has been separated from their job. It is often defined as the employee’s inability to meet the standards set for their particular position provided that this inability was not deliberate.

Examples of why you would fire an employee because of poor performance may include that he or she:

  • Is a poor fit for the position in which they were hired
  • Does not have the proper skills or training for the position in which they were hired
  • Has been unable to perform to the standards for the position as expected by the employer
  • Made honest mistakes that cannot be considered willful misconduct

However, if you can prove that the employee has intentionally acted in any of these circumstances, it is possible that their unemployment benefits may be completely denied or delayed for a period of time.

For example, if the employee has intentionally shown misconduct or has acted recklessly against the best interests of your business, it is important not to label their dismissal as due to poor performance. This could be that they have previously performed their job as required, but have now stopped doing so intentionally. Keep in mind this does not include instances where the employee’s skills have declined because of infirmity or other declines.

Reasons Why an Employee May be Ruled Ineligible for Unemployment Benefits

It is important to protect your rights as an employer and help keep your costs for unemployment in check. The most important way is to understand the circumstances in which you would fire an employee under the guise of poor performance versus misconduct. For example, if after repeated warnings your employee has not corrected their behavior or performance to adhere to company policy; this may be grounds for being terminated for reasons of misconduct.

Instances of misconduct may include:

  • Excessive tardiness or unexcused absences
  • Insubordination or causing dissension among other employees
  • Dishonesty or stealing
  • Sexual harassment
  • Violating safety rules
  • Intoxication or failing a drug or alcohol test

The severity of the willful misconduct of the employee will be taken into consideration when determining if and when they will be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.

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.

What is a Prenup?

A prenup, or prenuptial agreement, is a legal document created before entering into a marriage. A prenup can include many provisions, but usually it provides for the division of property and spousal support in the event of the legal dissolution of a marriage. In some states, prenups also include provisions for the forfeiture of assets if the marriage ends in divorce because of adultery, and conditions of guardianship in the event of divorce. Prenups affect alimony payments, property rights, and other assets after a marriage ends. Prenups are also made in the event of death of one partner in a marriage.

Properly Drafted and Executed Prenups

In the US, some prenuptial agreements can be circumvented if it is found that they are not properly drafted and executed. In the state of California, a properly drafted and executed prenup is very powerful. There are five factors that constitute a valid prenup in most jurisdictions in the US:

  1. Must be in writing. Some couples make oral prenups, but they are mostly unenforceable in a court of law. Any marriage lawyer will strongly urge both parties to draft a prenuptial agreement in writing, signed by both parties.
  2. Must be entered into and executed voluntarily. Couples should take steps to prove that the agreement was voluntary. Some couples retain a private judge present during the signing to ensure that neither party has been coerced, and, to show proof of this.
  3. Full and/or fair disclosure when the agreement is officially entered into.
  4. Cannot be deemed unconscionable. This provision typically involves the guardianship of children, who are very often negatively affected by divorce.
  5. Must be officially executed by both parties, as opposed to their attorneys. Both parties must agree to a legal acknowledgement before a notary public for the prenup to be valid.

Prenups in California

Prenuptial law in California varies slightly from other states because it does not recognize penalties for adultery or using recreational drugs that are common in many prenups in other states. Californian courts will also refuse to enforce requirements that children be raised in a certain religion and other requirements written into a prenuptial contract. Couples can waive their rights to share communal property in California, and prenups can limit spousal support to one party or another unless a court rules that support limitations are unconscionable.

Why You Need a Lawyer

There can be many legal pitfalls surrounding prenups, especially in California, where these agreements are considered very powerful. Any contract that you sign, prenup or otherwise, should be read first by a lawyer who can watch for any improprieties and ensure that the contract is legal and benefits you. In California, there are special requirements for those signing prenups without legal representation. You cannot limit spousal support without a lawyer present at the signing, for example. If you wish to call for the payment of a lump sum at the time of divorce, Californian courts may deem the agreement null and void. Lump sum payments at the outset of divorce have come under attack recently in Californian courts because it has been ruled that it promotes divorce. There are many small nuances to prenups that most lay people miss.

Divorce Attorneys

Divorce attorneys help negotiate the terms of a divorce in accordance with the prenuptial agreement. Make sure that you get the best legal counsel when negotiating such a personal and sensitive legal issue. Both parties are encouraged to have legal help when navigating the legal terms of a divorce settlement. Figuring out where the prenup fits into those negotiations is the key to an amicable settlement for both parties.

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.

An Employers Responsibility When it Comes to Sexual Harassment

As an employer, you understand that fear of judgment and backlash can make opening up about sexual harassment tough for an employee. When a victim finally decides to speak up, you must be ready and willing to get to the bottom of the situation immediately.

Keep in mind that as the boss, you’re indirectly responsible for the on-the-job actions of your employees. If you choose to kick allegations of sexual harassment under the rug, it could lead to resentment, reduced productivity and high turnover rates among your employees.

Even worse, if you don’t take action, you could end up with a business-crippling lawsuit on your hands. The entire situation could turn into a chain reaction. Once one employee decides to sue, past victims might come out of the woodwork and fan the flames. Although 6 out of 10 lawsuits, according to information by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), never see the light of day, why would you want to take that chance?

Interview the parties

Speak to the victim, and then to the accused to get both sides of the story. Get the names of anyone who may have witnessed the incident. There should be two people in management present during both interviews so there is an extra witness just in case the issue spills over to court.

Have the victim sign a statement confirming his or her version of what happened. Document the date and time you spoke with the accuser and the alleged perpetrator. To keep down trouble and confusion, request that the victim avoid speaking to anyone on the job about what happened.

Investigate the matter

Gather all of the information and conduct an investigation via an in-house manager or a lawyer. It’s best to assign at least two people to the investigation to make sure it’s fair and unbiased. Also, document every step of the investigation process, as well as the basis for the outcome.

Take appropriate disciplinary action

If your investigation reveals that the accused did in fact sexually harass a coworker, take disciplinary action. The nature of the action will depend on what happened. If the infraction is small, a written warning may suffice. If the harassment is ongoing and severe, you may have to send the person packing to prevent a lawsuit.

Having a written, anti-harassment policy in place shows you took measures to prevent employee harassment and can protect you legally. Give everyone in the workplace a copy of the manual and have them sign a form indicating they received it. To ensure you cover all the bases, have the handbook drafted by an employment attorney. In addition, go over the handbook annually and update it as needed.

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.