Debunked: Myths About Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

You’ve been in an accident, and you want to pursue the compensation you deserve. But instead of hiring a lawyer to handle your claim, you consider going it alone. After all, why hire a lawyer if you don’t have to, right?

There are many stigmas attached to lawyers. So pervasive are these myths that some people believe them even though they have never hired an attorney before. Unfortunately, these false beliefs result in victims of injuries (due to someone else’s negligence) not getting the compensation they deserve and wondering what went wrong.

Don’t become a statistic. Let’s debunk some of the most common myths surrounding hiring a personal injury lawyer so that you can get the compassionate legal counsel you need to win your case and get the compensation you deserve. 

Myth #1: You Don’t Need A Lawyer to File A Claim

The above sentiment is true: filing a claim with an insurance company can be done without legal counsel. But there’s a big difference between filing a claim and filing an effective claim. That’s where having a personal injury lawyer becomes invaluable.

The job of the insurance adjuster is to save their client’s (and, by proxy their own) money and pay out as little as possible. So when they’re talking to you, they’ll use everything you say (or don’t) to bend your words to their advantage and reduce the amount of money the insurance company will pay. It’s very easy to become confused and overwhelmed by their tactics, and without legal counsel in your corner, you could diminish or destroy your case.

Before filing a claim, you should first contact a personal injury lawyer to represent you. They will guide you through the entire claim process, including coaching you on what to say to the adjuster. If you follow your lawyer’s advice, you’re much less likely to make a costly mistake with your claim.

Myth #2: Attorneys Are Too Expensive

Some people who choose to forgo an attorney do so because they feel like they have to. They believe that they can’t afford to hire an attorney, even if they have a strong case. In addition, they may worry that, even if they win, they’ll be stuck paying the bill long afterward.

While it’s true that legal fees can be expensive, the final bill doesn’t have to come as a surprise. An experienced personal injury lawyer will tell you their costs upfront before you hire them. Moreover, most personal injury lawyers charge on a contingency basis and only bill you if your claim succeeds.

If you think that hiring a personal injury attorney is still too expensive, consider how much work they do for every client. Tracking down records, gathering evidence, talking with adjusters, filing paperwork, and negotiating settlements are all complex procedures they do on behalf of their clients. 

Myth #3:  My Injuries Don’t Warrant A Claim

All too often, people who suffer an accident never file a claim. For whatever reason, they think that their injuries are typical, minor, or otherwise not worth a settlement. They believe there’s some sort of standard that they don’t meet and choose to leave money on the table.

No matter how minor your injuries are, you need to consider the cost of treating them. Additionally, the full extent of your injuries may not reveal themselves at the time of the accident. Finally, even injuries that seem minor can worsen over days and weeks.

Before deciding on filing a personal injury lawsuit, you should seek medical treatment to determine the severity of your injuries. A personal injury attorney can then help you maximize your claim. You can recoup any costs related to your visit and treatment (even future treatment) by filing a claim.

Myth #4:  An Attorney Will Take Most of My Settlement

Even if you can afford an attorney, you might be worried that you’ll have to pay them the majority of your final settlement. After all that time and work, you fear what you get won’t be worth the time and effort. If that’s the case, why bother filing a claim at all?

The above worry is especially prevalent among those who have never hired a lawyer before. In truth, as part of hiring your lawyer, you need to sign an agreement. You can negotiate the terms before signing, including what percentage of the final award you’ll pay them. You’re paying them to do the heavy lifting for you, and often their fees will be a small fraction of the settlement you win.

The point is, at no point should you be surprised by what your lawyer charges so long as you carefully examine the contract. You should feel comfortable negotiating the terms. You’ll find most lawyers can be pretty flexible with their clients.

Trust Hann Law Firm to Handle Your Personal Injury Claim

Choosing to file your claim without an attorney is a massive gamble that’s not likely to pay off. A lawyer can help you get the most out of your claim so you can get your life back on track. But how do you know which lawyers have the experience you need?

Don’t risk making the wrong decision. Choose Hann Law Firm instead.

At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach from the start. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals.

While other firms see a case number and a bottom line, we see each client as a human being who deserves to be heard. We know your case is important to you, and we’ll take it just as personally. You and your case matters to us. 

We serve the communities of San Jose and help clients with personal injury claims, civil suits, family law, criminal defense, and business law. 

Contact us for your free consultation and get quality, compassionate legal help today.

What Can You Do to Maximize Your Personal Injury Settlement?

The stress of suffering a personal injury can affect all areas of your life. As a result, you need compensation not just for your medical bills but for everything you lost as a result. But how can you be sure that your claim is everything you’re entitled to?

Demonstrating how severely you’ve suffered can be a difficult task, especially if you’re still suffering. It doesn’t help that someone will be arguing against you, and attempting to trivialize your pain. If you aren’t careful, a judge may reduce your claim or dismiss it entirely.

Too many personal injury lawsuits fall short of providing adequate compensation to the plaintiff. Today, we will explain significant ways you can support and maximize your claim. 

1. Document As Much Evidence As Possible

Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, you need to collect evidence to support your claim. It’s not uncommon for personal injury suits to result in smaller awards because the claimant didn’t present a strong enough case. You can reduce the chances of this happening to you by documenting the accident and injury as soon as you can.

Report the accident as soon as you can to start collecting evidence. Take as many different photographs of the accident and resulting damage as you can. No matter how minimal you think an injury may be, get treated by medical professionals ASAP. Retain all medical diagnoses, written statements from your doctors, treatment dates, and anything relevant that alters your normal course of day-to-day life.

Of course, you may not be thinking clearly at the time the accident occurs. It’s also natural for some to minimize the harm they’ve suffered because they don’t want to come across as aggressive or feel frightened acknowledging how extensive their injuries are. But if you are going to maximize your personal injury lawsuit, you need to remember to treat your accident as seriously as you can and document everything.

2. Keep Track of Your Damages

When you make a personal injury claim, you can’t just pull a number out of thin air. Instead, you and your personal injury attorney will need to argue why the amount you’re fighting for is justified. To do this, you should keep records of everything the injury has cost you.

You can claim medical costs, lost wages from work, and non-economic damages as part of your lawsuit. You can prove the first with copies of your bills and the former with past pay stubs. Unfortunately, the last type isn’t quite as easy.

Most non-economic damages fall under the umbrella of emotional damages or pain and suffering. To best support claims of emotional damages, you need to demonstrate that you’ve sought professional help in treating it, such as therapy. These bills don’t reflect a demonstrable physical injury, but they’re still important.

3. Be Prepared to Negotiate

Interacting with the insurance company can be more challenging than going to trial. They work quickly to make offers in the hopes that their clients won’t have to set foot in a courtroom. But, of course, they’ll rarely match what you’re seeking.

Don’t negotiate on your own. An experienced personal injury attorney will work as your advocate whenever you need to interact with the insurance company. They can use their experience to prevent you from being taken advantage of.

When it comes to negotiations, don’t rush to accept the first offer they give you. Your attorney will show them the evidence that justifies your claims. If, after all that, they still refuse, you can file your lawsuit and take it to trial.

4. Draw Attention to Factors That May Have Led to the Accident

Whether you’re talking to insurance adjusters or making claims in court, you need to use all the evidence you have at your disposal. We’ve already outlined how to document the accident and support your claims. However, you can also suggest that the defendant engaged in behavior that made the accident occur.

Did the investigation uncover anything that could have impaired their driving in the case of a car accident? Did any witnesses see them driving recklessly or not following basic road safety? You can use any of these to show negligence and strengthen your case.

Note that you don’t need to prove that these things resulted in the accident, just that they were present. So, for example, you only need to illustrate that the defendant was in a distracted driving environment, even if you can’t definitively prove that they were distracted while driving. Your goal is to show that any reasonable person would believe the defendant created the situation that led to the accident.

Let Hann Law Firm Handle Your Personal Injury Case

Navigating the legal system is a challenge for anyone, especially when it involves personal injury claims. However, if you try to go it alone, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage from the start. Without experienced representation, you risk losing the compensation you deserve.

At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach from the start. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals.

While other firms see a case number and a bottom line, we see each client as a human being who deserves to be heard. We know your case is important to you, and we’ll take it just as personally. You and your case matters to us. 

Contact us for your free consultation and get quality, compassionate legal help today.

How Do I Modify a Child Custody Agreement in California?

In the state of California, child custody orders are not necessarily permanent. Therefore, custody can change multiple times before a child is legally an adult and may need to change to keep their living situation ideal. But how can it be done?

Sometimes circumstances change, and a parent may not be able to provide for their child, even if they received custody following a divorce. California allows either parent to request a modification to their custody agreement. However, the process to do so is strict and, at times, complicated.

As family law attorneys, we’ve seen many clients express frustration and confusion about how to modify a child custody agreement. Read our simplified outline below so you don’t make a mistake that could jeopardize your request.

When Can I Modify A Child Custody Agreement?

In California, you can modify a child custody agreement at any time. However, just because a parent requests changes doesn’t mean a judge will accept them. It must be deemed necessary or otherwise in the child’s best interest for a request to be received.

Common reasons for modifying a child custody agreement include changes in the child’s life that one parent isn’t suited to handle or difficulties in a parent’s. You can request a change if the other parent isn’t following the terms of the agreement or is irresponsible in a way that negatively impacts your child’s life. You can also file for a change at the child’s request.

Any changes presented to the court need to be significant to result in an altered custody agreement. A slight reduction in hours at work, for example, might not be enough. When making your request be sure to focus on how your child’s quality of life has changed to support your argument.

How Do I Request Modification?

Making a request only requires you to submit one form: Form FL-300, the Request For Order. Once filed with a court, the process will begin in earnest. You may also file Form FL-311, Child Custody, and Visitation, though this is optional.

While not needed to complete a request, FL-311 can be a strong supporting document. It allows you to provide precise details of your child’s visitations with yourself and the other parent. FL-311 is especially useful if the other parent isn’t meeting their obligations under the current agreement.

Both forms can appear overwhelming at first, requiring specific information about both parents and the child. However, if any part is incomplete or incorrect, the process will only be delayed further, so it is essential that you verify the validity of the information and submit it properly the first time. If you hire a family law attorney, they will not only help complete the form but give you valuable legal advice along the way to help you understand your options and potentially strengthen your case.

How Do I File the Forms?

Once you and your lawyer have gone over your forms, you need to make two additional copies of each. You will keep one and serve the other parent with the other. The original copy is what you’ll be filing with the courts.

Submit your forms to the court clerk, which does come with a filing fee (usually a few hundred dollars). However, the clerk will waive this fee if you have a low income or receive public assistance. Then, the clerk will process your paperwork and assign your court date.

Your lawyer will then hire someone to serve the other parent their copies or do it themselves. Depending on the circumstances, they may receive additional forms so they can submit a complete response to your claim. However, there’s no extra work for you at this phase.

What is the Court Process Like?

The court will order you and the other parent to attend mediation before sending things to trial. Mediation gives you both the chance to reach an agreement with the help of your lawyers and court-appointed supervision. Mediation is ideal because it can save all parties money in additional costs and prevent further court involvement.

If mediation fails to reach an agreement, your case will go before a judge. At your child custody hearing, the judge will review all the forms submitted so far and view any additional evidence. If they find it in your favor, they will sign the agreement, and it will go into effect.

The judge’s decision is final, but either party can file future requests. If the judge denies your request, it’s essential to keep monitoring the situation. If any substantial changes occur with the other parent or your child, you can file a new request to alter the agreement.

Get Help From Hann Law Firm

Sometimes, modifying your custody agreement is necessary to ensure your child’s safety and give them a stable home life. However, the process can be incredibly daunting. It can feel like you’re the only one fighting for your child when facing so much complexity.

That’s why you need Hann Law Firm on your side

At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach to everything we do. From our first consultation, we’ll listen to your needs and concerns. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals.

This kind of care takes more time, but the results of our personalized approach speak for themselves. While other firms see a case number and a bottom line, we see each client as a human being who deserves justice. We know your case is important to you, and we’ll take it just as personally. You – and your case – matter to us. 

Contact us today for your free consultation.

How Hard Is It To Win A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

When you make the decision to sue another party for a personal injury you sustained, you start out by filing a claim for said personal injury. The party you are suing may choose to negotiate with you out of court and come to an agreement that covers the damages associated with your claim. This settlement pays for your lost wages, medical expenses and other expenses deemed necessary. 

When dealing with insurance companies during these claims, they will often try to draw out or prolong the claims process, as they want to pay as little as possible. This is where hiring a personal injury attorney can really benefit you during the process.

According to the United States Department of Justice, 90-95% of all personal injury cases are settled before they go to trial, often because they have valuable representation backing them.

Nothing is cut and dry when it comes to proving yourself in court and you will need to show proof, including evidence of injury and other verification of loss for your injury case. In this article, we will go over what it takes to be able to settle, what can hinder or prolong your case and why having a personal injury attorney can help move the case along even faster and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. 

Benefits of Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you’ve been injured and feel you are owed compensation for your suffering, here are some of the benefits to starting the paperwork and getting your case ready:

  • If you are seeking compensation for an injury due to negligence from the part of a job, car accident, or other responsible party
  • Finding out if you join a joint class action lawsuit to seek justice for your losses
  • The ability to sue for multiple damages related to your injury, including medical treatment costs, pain and suffering, and other projected expenses
  • Compensation for temporary or permanent job loss
  • Settlement to determine compensation for disability due to injury

What is the Insurance Company’s Role in Your Personal Injury Cases?

Most likely, the insurance company that is involved with the other party will not want to spend the time and money going through a trial if there is a chance they can come to a settlement agreement with you, as the plaintiff. This saves everyone a lot of time and money, but both the plaintiff and the insurance company must come to a mutually beneficial agreement (known as a settlement). 

Naturally, the insurance company doesn’t want to pay as much as they would have to if the case went to trial. Likewise, the plaintiff doesn’t want to lose a lot of money by not going to trial, but the plaintiff must also realize how much time and money they’ll save by not going to trial. 

In the end, both parties must make it worth each other’s while to not pursue taking the case to trial. Again, this can be very stressful if you decide to represent yourself, because insurance companies have much more experience than you do dealing with personal injury cases and an entire legal team on their side for just such an occasion. 

In addition, you may still be suffering and uncomfortable during the case as well, and dealing with those issues alone is stressful enough. There may be pressure on you to settle, and without legal representation, you may end up settling for far less than you are rightfully owed. All in all, having a personal injury attorney on your side can help not only ease stress, but offer you the best settlement available. 

Additional Tips for a Successful Case and Settlement:

  • Collect as much evidence as you can to prove the other party’s liability and negligence.
  • Get medical care as soon as possible and keep a copy of your medical records.
  • Know your state’s statute of limitations and file your case as soon as possible. The statute of limitations in California for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of accident or injury.
  • Do not share details about your case with others. Your lawyer can direct you on whom you can share any information with while working on the case, as it is not wise to share too much information if the case is still in litigation. 
  • If in doubt, always hire an attorney. As we have seen, they can be invaluable during this mentally and physically tiring process. And with proper representation, you won’t get left on the sidelines looking at paperwork and agreements you don’t understand. An attorney will do their best to get the most beneficial settlement possible. 

Get Expertise with Understanding at Hann Law Firm

At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach from the start. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals.

While other firms see a case number and a bottom line, we see each client as a human being who deserves to be heard. We know your case is important to you, and we’ll take it just as personally. You and your case matters to us. 

Contact us for your free consultation and get quality, compassionate legal help today.

How Do You Win a Slip and Fall Case?

Recovering damages from a liability accident known as a “slip and fall” in California all comes down to proving negligence. Sometimes the damages can be as small as a bruised ego and hurt pride, but other times, a slip and fall incident can have devastating repercussions for the rest of your life. The outcome of your case relies solely on you to prove to the court that any negligence has been a factor in your injury.

In that state of California, not all injuries are created equal. As the one who has gotten injured, the burden of proof is on you to show proof of injury. You must also prove negligence on the part of the other party in order to collect any type of compensation or damages. 

If you slip and fall on someone else’s property, they might be liable for damages. Every case is different, and the judgement on the case will rely on several factors and a plethora of evidence. There is no sure-fire way to win a slip and fall case

If you plan to explore your case with an attorney, here’s some valuable information on how you can bolster your chances of winning your slip and fall case and what you’ll need to do to improve your chances for success.

Common Causes for a Slip and Fall Causes

Slip and fall cases are some of the most common legal cases that are normally seen by attorneys in the state of California. These common causes are: 

  • Failure to put up proper signage about known hazards
  • Plumbing leaks not cleaned up
  • Uneven roads or road spills
  • Loose carpeting
  • Uneven floors
  • Exposed cables and cords
  • Broken or missing railings
  • Broken furniture 

Who is Liable for a Slip and Fall in California?

When a person or persons comes on your property, you owe them “duty of care” which applies to the people who own, lease, occupy, or control property. Even parent companies or insurance companies can be liable to pay damages to anyone who gets injured on their property in California. 

What Proof Do I Need to Qualify for Damages?

To recover damages for a slip and fall accident in California, the plaintiff must establish four things:

  1. That the defendant owned, leased, occupied or controlled the property in question;
  2. That the defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property;
  3. That the plaintiff was harmed by slipping or falling on the property
  4. That negligence was the main factor in causing the harm to the plaintiff.

Keep in mind, there is a limitation on how long you may wait to claim damages. Section 335.1 of the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) explains that you have exactly two years from the date of the injury to initiate your legal claim.

How Can I Prove Negligence?

As the plaintiff, you must prove that the defendant was negligent, and some of the ways you can prove negligence by:

  • Proving that a condition on the property created an unreasonable risk of harm
  • That the defendant had prior knowledge of the object that caused the injury
  • The defendant failed to repair the issue or, protect against harm from the issue, or give adequate warning of the issue.

Say, for example, your apartment complex did not put out a Caution Wet Floor sign after they washed the floor and left it wet and unsupervised; that would be an example of negligent behavior and could lead to someone getting severely hurt.

What Type of Restitution Can I Get for My Slip and Fall Case?

As the plaintiff in a slip and fall case in California, you are entitled to recover any and all compensatory damages you deserve as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Compensation for a slip and fall claim can include, but is not limited to:

  • Getting any and all medical bills paid for medical treatments, home health, rehab, etc.
  • Recovering lost wages from your business or work,
  • Recovering lost earning capacity,
  • Being awarded however much the court determines the extent of your pain and suffering amounts to.

How Do I Prove the Accident was the Defendant’s Fault?

The key to winning a slip and fall case in California is to provide enough evidence that shows that a fall resulted from the defendant’s negligence. Getting help from a skilled personal jury attorney can be a huge asset and may give you the aid you need to prove your case. Evidence that you can provide includes:

  • Doctor’s notes
  • Physical therapy or treatment due to injury
  • Video footage of the accident itself
  • Witness statements 
  • Testimony from experts in the field of slip and fall cases

Personal Injury Help with Heart at Hann Law Firm

At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach from the start. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals.

While other firms see a case number and a bottom line, we see each client as a human being who deserves justice. We know your case is important to you, and we’ll take it just as personally. You and your case matters to us. 

If you have been injured in a slip and fall in San Jose or the surrounding area, contact us for your free consultation and get quality, compassionate legal help today.

How to Know If You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

Injuries come in different severities and may be due to a single point fault, or several to varying degrees. Some are inconsequential while others can incapacitate us and turn our lives inside out. 

Personal injury claims cover a plethora of circumstances and situations, so the severity of your injury makes a huge difference in the next course of action you should take and who should be involved.

If you feel your injuries are beyond insurance and small claims, then you may want to seek the advice and ongoing counsel of a qualified personal injury lawyer. Since personal injury claims cover a wide variety of situations and many different types of accidents, your claim could involve the need for investigation, subpoenas, repeat contact with the court and other parties, and much more, so having the help of a knowledgeable attorney is the best option to help you get the compensation you deserve. Let’s take a closer look at when a personal injury lawyer would be the best option for you.

What Are The Most Common Types of Cases That Personal Injury Attorneys Take On?

It’s important to know what kind of cases personal injury lawyers are willing to take on. Here is a list of some of the most common types of injury claims:

  • Car Accident Claims. These are by far one of the most common personal injury claims made every year.
  • Medical Malpractice Claims. Result from negligence and thought they can be quite complicated, are handled as a personal injury case.
    • Slip and Fall Accidents. A very common type of personal injury, these often happen due to the negligence of the other party and you could be liable for compensation if you have been harmed. 
    • Assault. This is one of the few forms of personal injury that is not considered the result of negligence. 
  • Wrongful Death. These claims involve the death of a person due to someone else’s negligence. 
  • Workplace Accidents. If you are injured at work due to unsafe working conditions, it is your employer’s negligence that the claim will be made against.
  • Dog Bites. Dog bite cases are treated similarly to personal injury because they are considered the result of negligence on the owner’s part.
  • Product Liability. Defective products can lead to direct or long term injuries and you may be entitled to compensation if you have been harmed as a result.

Signs You Need a Personal Injury Attorney

You suffered serious injuries. 

This means that your injuries are so severe that they prohibit your daily routine and activities as well as your ability to go to work. Compensation can range based on the severity of injuries, how much work you’ve missed and how much your medical bills total up to. Recovering from an accident is very stressful, not to mention incredibly expensive if you are missing work due to your injuries.

You have a permanent or long-term disability. 

If you have sustained injuries that will require you to get long-term care or have left you permanently disabled, you should discuss your case with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney can help get the most compensation out of a disability claim, as these cases can be quite complicated and intensive due to long term suffering and often, the inability to work.

Your accident was caused by a defective part or product. 

The manufacturer or company of the defective part or product could also be held liable for damages if there is any type of fraud involved on the company’s end as well. An attorney can help you navigate through the legal system, so all evidence is taken into consideration.

You’re not receiving compensation for missed work. 

You are entitled to receive lost wage compensation if your injuries have forced you to take time off from work due to your claim. If the insurance company is refusing to include the wages as damages in the case, consulting with an attorney the next step in you 

Your insurance company is refusing to pay your claim. 

If your injuries are due to the negligence of another person, it is on their insurance company to compensate you for your injuries. Many insurance companies may not be willing to pay the amount that you are due because they are trying to lower their payout. This is where a personal injury attorney comes to aid you in your negotiations to get you a better and more satisfying settlement.  

Get the Settlement You Deserve with Hann Law Firm

At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach from the start. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals.

While other firms see a case number and a bottom line, we see each client as a human being who deserves to be heard. We know your case is important to you, and we’ll take it just as personally. You and your case matters to us. 

Contact us for your free consultation and get quality, compassionate legal help today.

What Is The Difference Between DUI And DWI In California?

If you are a licensed driver in California, you’ve likely heard the term “DUI” and “DWI”. DUI stands for driving under the influence, while DWI is the acronym for driving while intoxicated. Drunk driving laws are set by states and each has their own rules and regulations when it comes to each term. Some states have separate rules for each term, but states like California use DUI as a blanket term for driving under the influence of a substance or being impaired as specified by that vehicle code of law.

There is more than one way to get a DUI, such as a per se DUI, drug DUI and other similar distinctions. While we never want to be in the position of receiving a DUI, being informed of what it entails and the penalties is important to not only help if you are charged, but to also for context the next time you may grab your keys after a function or long work lunch. 

What Does DUI Mean in California?

While some states use the terms DWI and DUI separately, California officially uses the term “DUI” for any conviction that falls under the blanket of someone driving impaired/under the influence. If arrested for a DUI, you can be convicted either because the court proves you had a high blood alcohol level, or because there is evidence that you were operating a vehicle while impaired. Either way, the penalties are the same. 

Charges for DUIs

There are different types of vehicle code offenses (VC) that are all related to impaired driving. California vehicle code offenses include:

Minimum and Maximum Penalties for a First DUI Conviction

A first-time DUI conviction is deemed a misdemeanor in California and the person charged will face the following penalties:

  • Fines. The first DUI can carry a fine from $390 to $1,000 plus any penalty assessments. The total can be several thousand dollars or more.
  • Jail. For a first DUI conviction, it is possible to get as little as 48 hours to as much as six months in jail. The judge can order probation, which is more common, and comes with no jail time. 
  • License suspension. A six-month license suspension is the most common for first time DUI offenders. If your blood alcohol concentration is .08% or more, then there will be a four-month administrative suspension added by the DMV. 
  • Probation. First DUI offenders normally receive a three-year term of informal probation (though it can be up to five years). As a condition of probation, the defendant normally must complete a three-month DUI course, consisting of 30 hours of classes. However, for defendants who had BACs of .20% or more, the program is nine months in duration and 60 hours of class time.

Penalties for a Second and Third DUI Convictions

The second and third DUI convictions come with penalties that only get more severe and cause you to lose more freedoms with each conviction. Both are still deemed misdemeanors in California, but incur misdemeanor probation of 3-5 years, mandatory second offender DUI school (18-30 months), installation of an driver interlock device (IID) on one’s vehicle (for one year), and a mandatory minimum of 96 hours in county jail (up to one year).

Felony DUI Charges

There are specific aggravating factors that can turn a misdemeanor DUI conviction into a felony. Felony DUIs come with more serious penalties than any misdemeanor charge, especially if they involve injury or death.

DUIs Involving Deaths or Injuries

DUIs with injuries: If you injure someone in a DUI incident, you will face more severe penalties than a standard DUI. Injury DUIs are “wobblers”—meaning they can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. If charged as a felony, an injury DUI can result in a prison sentence of 16 months to four years. And depending on the defendant’s history, fines for an injury DUI can range from $390 to $5,000.

DUIs with fatalities: A DUI offense that causes the death of another person is typically prosecuted under California’s vehicular manslaughter laws. A defendant who is found to have caused a death can be charged with:

  • Negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
  • Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or
  • Second-degree murder

Find An Experienced DUI Attorney

When you face criminal charges, it’s hard not to focus on what you have to lose. But you have control over your defense – and we’ll do everything in our power to protect your rights. Whether you face a DUI, assault charge, or something else entirely, we put our decades of combined courtroom experience to work for you. We have successfully defended many clients in San Jose and central California over the years. We can defend you, too.

At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach to everything we do. From our first consultation, we’ll listen to your needs and concerns. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals. 

Contact us today for a free consultation and we will fight for you!

How to Get a Legal Annulment in California

How to Get a Legal Annulment in California

Getting an annulment is a serious decision because, unlike divorce, it completely wipes away any sign that you were ever married. There are many rights that are given up during annulment, and as such, opting for one may not be as simple or as fruitful as a divorce.

There are specific and sometimes severely personal reasons for an annulment, and they all require strong proof to hold up in court in California. No matter your reason for pursuing an annulment over a divorce, you will have to be ready to meet the strict legal standards that are in place in California. Today, we will discuss how to pursue an annulment and the California state requirements to qualify for one. 

How Does Annulment Differ from Divorce?

While a divorce is a legal termination of a valid marriage, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage never even existed. A couple who successfully obtains an annulment will get it dissolved, earning both parties a clean slate. 

After you get a divorce, the law still recognizes the marriage as having existed but ended due to both parties dissolving the marriage in a court of law. Unlike a divorce, an annulment actually cancels the marriage, so the courts do not recognize you or your partner as ever being married and will officially deem records of your marriage as invalid. 

Requirements for Getting an Annulment

Due to the serious nature of an annulment and the requirement that each partner has to give up rights that would be granted in a standard divorce (i.e. spousal support and division of property) the state of California takes granting annulments very seriously. 

The state of California will automatically annul marriages where there is shown to be incest, where two relatives marry, or in cases of bigamy, where someone has married more than one person knowingly. No matter if all parties consented, these circumstances will automatically be annulled.

Otherwise, you will need to provide one of the following reasons to get an annulment:

Age

If one party was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, he or she could get the marriage annulled.

Past Marriage Still Valid

If one of the parties is still in a legal marriage or domestic partnership with another person when they get married to the current spouse, the subsequent marriage will be considered void.

Fraud

If one party believes they were deceived by the other somehow, they can file for an annulment. Examples of fraud include: a person claiming to be someone else or marrying to get a green card.

Force

Coercing or forcing someone into marriage is illegal and can result in an annulment. Examples include issuing threats against family members, children, or the spouse themself.

Being of Unsound Mind

Both parties must be of sound mind to enter into a marriage. If it can be proved that one party was not of sound mind when they got married, the marriage can be annulled.

Time Limitations 

In general, you have four years from the date of the marriage to file for an annulment, but there are exceptions depending on the reason for the annulment. When someone seeks an annulment based on one of the above claims, they have to provide proof of their claim. 

What Is the Process of Getting an Annulment in California?

The process for getting an annulment in California is quite similar to that of a divorce. Steps to getting an annulment in California include:

  • Signing the petition. To start the process of getting an annulment in California you must complete Form FL-100.  This is also the form to petition a divorce, so make sure to check the box for “nullify.”
  • Declarations for Annulment. Make sure to have all information on both parties, date of the marriage you want annulled, why you are petitioning, and any additional information you feel necessary for your case. You must notify the court if there are any children from this marriage as well.
  • Serve your spouse. Next you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. Working with a skilled attorney when seeking an annulment can make this process easier, especially if you are not on good terms with your spouse. 
  • Complete additional paperwork. Make sure to check with your local office to see if there are any additional forms you need to fill out or file. If children are involved, you will need to complete the Declaration Under Uniform Custody and Enforcement Act form. 
  • File with the clerk. To submit your petition for review, file it with the county clerk and pay all required filing fees.
  • Attend a hearing. During your hearing make sure to explain to the judge why you are requesting the annulment. This will give you a chance to expound on your petition and also allows your spouse to object. After this step, you have only to wait for the judge’s decision. 

Legal Expertise That Combines Knowledge and Compassion

We understand just how complex the divorce and annulment processes can be. Thankfully, our team of legal experts know what to expect and can guide you through the process, whether that means mediation or trial. More importantly, we understand the importance of listening. 

With Hann Law Firm, you can be confident that we’ll work with you, not just for you, to get the best results we can. Contact our office today and get your free consultation.

Personal Injury Settlement: How Much Can You Get?

Personal Injury Settlement: How Much Can You Get?

What happens if you’ve suddenly been hurt in a car accident, had a slip-and-fall or another kind of personal injury caused by another party’s negligence? If you find yourself in this situation, you no doubt have to deal with considerable medical bills and time off from work. There are many questions you may be asking yourself: 

  • How long does the process take? 
  • What can you do to increase chances of winning a settlement?
  • What a fair and adequate amount is to cover your losses?

With such a complex set of outcomes possible in personal injury cases, there is much to learn about your settlement and what channels need to be pursued to get yourself compensated. This article seeks to answer many of those questions for you and help guide you to your next course of action that will hopefully lead to healing and a just resolution. 

Factors That Can Affect the Value Your Personal Injury Claim

There are certain factors that have been shown to positively or negatively impact the value of your personal injury claim. Some of those factors include:

  • The type of accident you were involved in
  • The Severity of your injuries
  • Medical expenses
  • How long you were off of work due to your injuries
  • Total amount of recovery time
  • Any long-term injuries and effects
  • Whether or not you, as the victim, contributed to the accident

No two personal injury cases are exactly alike, and as a result, two cases may vary widely in the amount of compensation awarded. While the average slip and fall case settles for between $30,000 and $60,000, many cases are awarded in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions in some circumstances. Likewise, the average car accident settlement is only $21,000, however there are cases that are awarded far more and far less. 

Your personal injury lawyer will help you weigh the aforementioned (and other) mitigating factors to help determine how much they may impact your personal injury settlement.

How Long Does A Personal Injury Settlement Take?

Again, the length of time for you to receive your settlement can be longer or shorter due to a number of factors. The particulars of your case and the circumstances surrounding it will decide the length of time, as well as the following: 

  • The degree and extent of your injuries
  • When you will reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI);
  • If your case is being disputed by the other party 
  • Negotiations for the settlement
  • If your case needs to go to trial (US Government statistics show that around 5% of personal injury cases go to trial. The other 95% are settled pretrial.)
  • How long you are willing to wait for a good outcome

Damages You Can Seek For a Personal Injury Lawsuit 

There are two types of damages you can seek for personal injury claims in California: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

These serve to reimburse you for any expenses directly related to your accident or injuries such as:

  • Property damage
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages

Non-Economic Damages

These damages are also related to your accident or injuries but are for recovery of intangible damages, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not often awarded as they are damages assessed in order to punish the defendant for outrageous conduct and serve to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which caused the personal injury lawsuit. If a defendant’s egregious, malicious, or careless actions caused your injuries, a court might award punitive damages.

Your attorney will help you estimate the appropriate amount of damages due to you. 

What’s the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims?

It is very important to file your personal injury claim correctly and promptly in order to be entitled to the compensation you deserve. A statute of limitations imposes a time limit on how long you have to file your lawsuit.

In California, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years from the accident date. If your injury was not discovered right away, then the statute starts 1 year from the date the injury was discovered. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the specified timeframe, you will forfeit your right to compensation.

Shared Fault Laws in California

It is important to note that in some personal injury cases, the defendant may make the argument that the you, the injured party, is actually at fault (at least partially) for causing the accident in question. This is called shared fault or comparative negligence.

If you are at fault for some level of liability, in this case, that can affect the amount of compensation you end up receiving from the other at-fault parties. If your case is found to be a shared fault case, California follows a rule called “pure comparative negligence.” This means that the total amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by the amount that is equal to the percentage you are at fault for the accident.

Legal Help with Heart at Hann Law Firm

At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach from the start. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals.

While other firms see a case number and a bottom line, we see each client as a human being who deserves justice. We know your case is important to you, and we’ll take it just as personally. You and your case matters to us. Contact us for your free consultation and get quality, compassionate legal help today.

What to Consider Before Accepting a Personal Injury Settlement

You’ve endured a life-changing injury through no fault of your own. Due to this injury, you may no longer be able to work, and your finances could have started spiraling out of control. Instead of doing the things you once enjoyed, your days are now filled with doctor’s appointments and medical bills.

Plain and simple, your world has been turned upside down. You’ve brought this to the attention of the wrongful party. Now, after many disputes and lots of bargaining, you’ve been offered a settlement for your accident.

It may be tempting, but you may not want to take that settlement just yet. There are some things that you should know before you accept a personal injury settlement. 

Considerations for Accepting a Personal Injury Settlement

Now that you’ve been offered a personal injury settlement, it’s time to sit down and think about it. In this situation, it is always best to contact your lawyer and assess the situation with a legal professional before accepting the offer outright.

What You Need to Understand

Even though you have a copy of the settlement in your hand, you shouldn’t rejoice just yet. There are a few things that you need to understand before you decide to accept a settlement:

  • Even if you reject an offer, you still have the right to receive a fair settlement. You can still seek a settlement that more closely meets your needs. If an insurance company tells you that your options are limited, remember that this is not necessarily a confirmation that you cannot receive what you need. Insurance companies have their own interests, and are looking to pay out as little as possible.
  • Injuries don’t simply go away. Some may even last a lifetime. Nevertheless, an insurance company will make you an offer based on their assessment at this moment. They may not consider what ongoing or extensive treatment you’ll need (e.g., multiple surgeries, wound care, therapy) and will skew toward the least required payment possible.
  • Your financial status will quickly change. Due to the accident, you may be out of work and may be unable to return to work. Not only will this loss of income affect your entire life now, but it’ll affect your future too. This should be a major factor in your decision.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Once you’re sure that you understand what’s being offered in the settlement, it’s time to consider whether it’s right for you. There are several factors you’ll want to consider here. Take your time and ask yourself some questions:

  • Do you have an attorney? You should never try to deal with the insurance company alone. Research shows that doing so often results in much less compensation.
  • Have you fully recovered from the accident? If you haven’t fully recovered, you may still have a lot of medical expenses ahead of you. Don’t settle a claim without knowing all of your medical costs both now and in the future.
  • How much are your pain and suffering worth? While it’s essential to ensure that your settlement includes economic damages, you also need to consider non-economic damages (e.g., pain, suffering, mental distress, reduced quality of life).
  • Did you file a lawsuit? While this isn’t necessary, NOLO discovered that filing a lawsuit is beneficial. When you file a lawsuit, an insurance company is forced to take your case more seriously and must spend time gathering evidence that could strengthen your case.
  • Did you try negotiating a fair settlement? You shouldn’t feel compelled to accept the first offer you’re given. You may be entitled to better compensation if you show the insurance company that you’re willing to negotiate.
  • Is this offer better than what you’d receive by going to trial? Although you may wish to avoid a trial, it isn’t always possible to do so. Sometimes going to trial is to your benefit because the jury will potentially award you far better compensation. You should make this decision with help from your attorney.
  • Do you feel like you’ve been heard? Take a moment to consider whether you feel the insurance adjuster heard what you were saying. They should have spent time discussing how every aspect of your life has been changed by the accident. If not, chances are they aren’t offering you a fair settlement.
  • Will all of your medical bills be covered? Since someone else’s fault caused your medical expenses, they shouldn’t be able to deny treatment or tell you that they’re only paying a set amount. However, it’s in the insurance company’s best interest to offer you the lowest payout possible. Remember, you don’t have to accept it and you do have options.
  • What does your future hold? You need to consider how long it’ll take to fully recover from your injury if a full recovery is even possible. Make sure that the settlement you’re receiving is sufficient compensation for both now and in the future.

Talk to an Attorney Before Accepting a Personal Injury Settlement

Filing a personal injury lawsuit doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience, itself. When faced with the burden of having to choose this option, a personal injury attorney is your best bet.

If you find yourself in this position, contact the attorneys at Hann Law. We will help you in your time of need and we will fight to help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.