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.

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.

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.

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 Personal Injury Lawyer?

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

Tort Law

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

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

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

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

Personal Injury Lawyer’s Duties

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

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

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

Cases that Require a Personal Injury Lawyer

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

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

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

What is Wrongful Death?

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

Wrongful Death and Negligence

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

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

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

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

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

Civil Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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

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

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

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

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

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in California

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

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

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

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

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