Muslim Students Temporarily Barred from Entering Public Courtroom

A New York judge briefly barred a group of Muslim students from entering a public courtroom.

Judge Katherine Forrest of the US Southern District Court of New York stopped the trial upon the arrival of 16 students dressed in uniforms and hijabs (head coverings) from the Razi School, an Islamic private school in Queens. The judge called the student’s presence “gamesmanship” and held a conference with the trial lawyers while the students were forced to remain outside the court.

The unusual incident occurred last week at a civil trial of U.S. government against the Alavi Foundation. The U.S. government alleges that 650 Fifth Avenue, an office tower which is 60% owned by the Alavi Foundation, is clandestinely owned by the Iranian government.

Judge Forrest expressed concern that the presence of the Muslim students was a ploy by Alavi’s attorney, John Gleeson, to garner undue sympathy with the jury.

“The judge is out of line here,” said Sayyed Musawi, a social studies teacher at Razi who chaperoned the Muslim students. According to the Associated Press, Musawi said he convinced the school to approve the field trip in order to provide a venue for his students to better learn about the legal system. He denied knowing the lawyers in the case. He also said he was not trying to sway the jury in any way on behalf of the Alavi Foundation.

The students, including some who had participated in mock court sessions, were told that the judge was allowing them into the public courtroom.

“We were shocked,” said Eman Osman, the other social studies teacher. Osman said the students were very disappointed not to allowed into the courtroom.

Attorneys representing the U. S. government reminded the judge that it was a public courtroom and they were not opposed to having the students enter the courtroom.

After the lunch recess, the judge allowed the youngsters into court, all ten girls with white head scarves which are part of the private school’s uniform.

The U.S. Government is pressing for forfeiture of 650 Fifth Avenue and the trial has been contentious. Last week, Judge Forrest publicly scolded a former judge for making statements in court which she considered politically charged.

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

 

Sujit Choudhry: A Proponent for Peace Through Constitutional Law

Sujit Choudhry

No constitutional democracy is complete without a constitution and no constitution is complete without an expert in comparative constitutional law. That’s where Sujit Choudhry comes in.

 

Sujit Choudhry, an internationally recognized authority on comparative constitutional law, is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, an organization which assembles leading global experts to produce evidence-based policy options for decision-makers and agenda-setting. But this position does not come without a variety of law degrees, a multicultural upbringing, and years of experience of serving as a constitutional advisor for emerging democracies. After years of traveling around the world to forge constitutions in ethnically divided societies, Choudhry was drawn to the idea of building a global knowledge network to help these new constitutional democracies. He found there was a severe lack of up-to-date sufficient research when it came to implementing these constitutions, which hindered his constitutional advice. Out of this gap, sprouted the Center for Constitutional Transitions.

 

As an immigrant with degrees from three different countries, Choudhry’s global background inspired him to approach public policy from a more objective and worldly stance. This global viewpoint is important in today’s times now more than ever. Comparative experience, Choudhry claims, is vital to the current climate so that all constitutional democracies may learn from the successes and failures of other countries.

 

As someone who was worked with people of all different cultures, Choudhry has learned to take on a more empathetic approach to constitution building. The first step to assisting other constitutional democracies should be to first understand their point-of-view. The second step should be to not fear change, but to welcome new ideas. In the future, Choudhry would love to see a new organization which organizes and hosts the most important constitutional case-law from around the world, which would change the history of constitutionalism. But for now, Choudhry is proud to foster a community of experts to create global knowledge networks. And in the meantime, Choudhry is preparing to launch three global collaborative research projects with the with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in the fall.

 

Born in India and raised in Canada, Choudhry’s multicultural upbringing shaped his global perspective and future career. Additionally, his well-educated parents fostered a home based on intellectual stimulation. With a father who taught economics at the University of Toronto and a mother who taught nursing, Choudhry was inspired to pursue an academic path from an early age. Choudhry now holds law degrees from Toronto, Harvard, and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar

 

Now Choudhry is the I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley – School of Law, where he served as Dean. Previously, he was the Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University, and the Scholl Chair at the University of Toronto. Since his intellectually-stimulating childhood, Choudhry has gone on to speak in over two dozen countries and publish over ninety articles, book chapters, working papers and reports. His books include The Migration of Constitutional Ideas (Cambridge, 2006), Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation? (Oxford, 2008), The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution (Oxford, 2016) and Constitution Making (Edward Elgar, 2016).

 

His wide-ranging research agenda is combined with in-depth field experience as an advisor to constitution building processes. Professor Choudhry’s research addresses a broad range of issues in comparative constitutional law and politics, from using constitutional design as a tool to manage the transition from violent conflict to peaceful democratic politics to basic methodological questions in the study of comparative constitutional law.

Twitter: @sujit_choudhry

How to Issue a Subpoena for Family Law Court

A subpoena is one of the most powerful tools a litigant or attorney has in their arsenal to develop and present important information and evidence to the court. In family law, subpoenas are vital because these are often contentious affairs. During family law cases, parties are commonly reluctant to produce the requested evidence or documents. In this common instance, you must ask the court to issue a subpoena to force the other party to comply with the request. Continue reading to learn the basic steps of having a subpoena issued for family law court.

Steps to Issue a Subpoena for Family Law Court

In a nutshell, you must fill out the form, file it with the court, and have the person served, and submit an official notice to the court. With this powerful legal document, the individual will be held legally responsible to comply or produce the specified evidence or documents.

Fill Out the Form

The first step to issue a subpoena is to fill out the appropriate subpoena form. While each state’s requirements may vary, most of the information will be the same. You must provide your name underneath the defendant or plaintiff field. Below the name field, you should find boxes for civil and criminal. Family law matters are classified as civil issues, so you should check civil. Then fill out the address and other requested information of the person who is being subpoenaed.

The “You Are Ordered” Section

It’s important to check all of the appropriate boxes in the section titled, “You Are Ordered.” You must include the time and place if you are ordering someone to show up at a hearing. A few of the most common reasons family law courts issue subpoenas are to:

  • To produce evidence or documents
  • To require someone to provide a testimony at a deposition
  • To require someone to provide a testimony at a trial

In any case, make sure you check all of the options that apply to your case.

Issuing the Subpoena

Finally, fill out the rest of the information, such as your address, name, and contact phone number. Then sign and date the document. If you aren’t an attorney, you should check with your respective family law court because you may have to get permission of the court to issue the subpoena. Most states do require an attorney in order for the subpoena to be issued.

Serving the Subpoena

Since family law matters can be difficult for all parties, it’s best to serve subpoenas by certified mail. However, you can choose to use a personal service, which involves a process server delivering it directly to the person by hand. It’s important for the individual delivering the subpoena to be over the age of 18 and be someone other than you. Simply put, you cannot provide personal service delivery for yourself because it is illegal and can further intensify the already messy family law conflict. Doing it yourself can even lead to violence. In addition, doing personal service yourself will cause your proceedings to be dismissed or cause a delay.

Filing with the Court

After the subpoena has been delivered through personal hand delivery or by certified mail, you should file the form with the appropriate family law court. To do so, send a copy of the form with a short letter letting the court know that the individual has been subpoenaed.

In any case, filing a family law subpoena is confusing if you do not have previous experience. Instead of doing it alone, contact a San Francisco Bay area divorce attorney for assistance.

What is the Function of a Family Law Paralegal?

You may be looking for answers from a family attorney for advice involving divorce, separation, adoption, domestic abuse or many other family related issues. When you call, the receptionist might refer you to a family law paralegal at their law firm. You think to yourself, I thought I would have to get advice from a lawyer about this and how can a family law paralegal help me? Today, we will be looking at this question in its entirety.

The Bigger Picture of Family Law

Family law covers a lot of ground. A lot of clients typically seek out family law because of divorce, but parents don’t have to be married to one another to have custody or support issues. Family law can also cover guardianship, adoption, paternity testing, annulment, child abuse or neglect. Many family law practices specialize in divorce while others cover a broader range of issues.

Where the Paralegal Comes In

When you call the law office for the first time most of the time you will be transferred to a paralegal who will ask you specific questions regarding your case and keep you focused on what you’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes you may be emotionally frustrated or angry, and these emotions may come up during the call for your particular case. The paralegal will go over these questions with you and pass it on the lawyer. This information is vital, as the lawyer will go over a transcript of key facts covered by your initial interview with the paralegal. As a nurse is an assistant to a doctor, so a paralegal is an assistant to a lawyer, but the paralegal cannot give a client any legal advice.

Smart Filing

Lawyers are typically involved in several cases at the same time, so they need to be extremely organized. Law firms have been using cloud technology to have their client’s information sent to their smart devices, so it’s readily available anywhere and anytime. The paralegal keeps clients files with all their information up to date that can be easily available in both hard-copy and virtually in the cloud. The paralegal also has to keep up with the drafts and documents lawyers need when they go to court.

Investigation & Discovery

They say the devil is in the details and as a paralegal you will have to get every detail possible when helping a client. You will have to have your investigation skills fined tuned as you will be digging up financial details about your client. Sometimes during your research you will find gaps, and in these cases you will have to use discovery methods. Discovery uses subpoenas, electronic discovery using digital forensics, depositions, interrogatories, or request for admissions. You might even have to hire a private investigator to track down details as well.

Maintaining Court Contact

As a paralegal, you have to have constant contact with the court for the attorneys who employee you. You will be notified if anything changes from the court and will have to keep the lawyers informed on those details. An example would be, a judge orders a marital counseling for the client and or a mediation over the children. This is important information that needs to be updated.

Conclusion

Today, we’ve seen that a family law paralegal is often a client’s point of contact who serves that client directly and indirectly by accomplishing particular tasks for a lawyer. Whether you are contacting a family law firm for a divorce or another situation, we encourage you to receive the help you need today to resolve your dilemma.

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.