Effects of COVID-19 on Personal Injury Law in California

COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the United States. From employment to personal relationships, the “new normal” is affecting everyone. 

This includes personal injury cases. 

When you are involved in a physical altercation with another person, specific laws constitute self-defense. Because of COVID-19, your court case may be conducted differently — so it’s important to be aware of the changes.

Self-Defense

In California, self-defense is defined as defending yourself when you feel you are in imminent danger of physical harm, and force is necessary. However, the degree of force used must be reasonably necessary, depending on the circumstances. 

A few examples of reasonable force are:

  • Preventing a rape with lethal force
  • Hitting or kicking a burglar
  • Pushing an attacker away or down a staircase

California also recognizes the Castle Doctrine. This doctrine refers to a set of laws that allow lethal force to protect your home. No laws have changed or been altered in the age of COVID-19, but the way these cases are heard and settled has become more difficult. 

Once you meet with a lawyer and determine there is evidence to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit, there are a series of steps through the California court system to follow. Each phase has been affected by COVID-19. Let’s take a look at some of these issues.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for filing an injury claim in California is two years. That means once two years have gone by, you no longer have the ability to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

If you have any questions about when to file a personal injury lawsuit, consult a lawyer. They have the experience and knowledge to help you navigate the complicated court system.

Potential for Delayed Medical Care

Before COVID-19, going to a doctor or the ER was a simple matter of showing up and being seen for your injuries. That is not to say you should wait if you have an urgent medical emergency. While you may experience long waits in the ER due to understaffing and the number of COVID patients being treated, you still need to be treated. 

If your injuries don’t warrant a visit to the ER, contact your physician as soon as possible. Most general practitioners and some specialists are performing telehealth appointments. While it may not be the same as seeing the doctor in person, they can still assess your injuries and advise a course of treatment.

It’s essential to have your injuries documented as soon as possible after the altercation and get treatment. Accurate records of injuries and potential long-term effects are a crucial component of a personal injury lawsuit.

Changes to Insurance

Since insurance is a private industry, they are not subject to the same laws regarding personal injury. Since the onset of COVID-19, insurance companies are scrambling to reassess risks associated with the virus and the amount of money available to cover damages to another person. 

In addition to these changes, individuals have let their auto insurance and home insurance lapse due to the inability to pay. While this is the last thing you want to worry about when you’ve been injured, it’s important to understand that you may receive a lower than expected settlement.

Court Delays

Stay-at-home orders have changed the landscape of court workers. Delays due to working from home have pushed court cases further out in the calendar. Civil courts where most personal injury cases are presented have been significantly impacted. 

Hours have been cut in half to minimize exposure and allow work from home for clerical tasks. It’s understandable to want your case to be heard as quickly as possible, COVID-19 has impacted the courts exponentially, and it may be months before your case is presented. 

Even with these delays and roadblocks, your case is still important and must be filed promptly to receive a favorable outcome. When selecting a lawyer, make sure they can help you to navigate through these hurdles.

Increased Pressure to Settle

Insurance companies tend to try and settle as quickly as possible, and even more so now that the courts are backed up, and cases are delayed. Even if your suit doesn’t involve an insurance company, an individual defendant will attempt an out-of-court settlement. 

The pandemic’s increasing economic pressure might sway you to choose a quick settlement and get a check faster. However, settling can harm you in the long run. Most initial settlement offers undercut both your injury value and the harm you’ve experienced as a result. 

Trust your attorney’s advice and evaluate every settlement offer honestly, negotiating with the opposing party for a fair settlement that accurately reflects your injury and the damage caused.

Settlement vs. Trial

Even if you feel that the settlement offered is sufficient, your lawyer can negotiate a better settlement or take your case to court for a judge to determine. There are pros and cons to both means of settling a personal injury lawsuit.

Trial

A trial can significantly increase the potential compensation for your claim. For example, a jury could award more for your pain and suffering than an insurance company or individual offers. You also get a better sense of justice by having a trial. During the trial, the defendant is found guilty, whereas they never have to admit fault in a settlement.

The downside to a trial is the length of time it can take. Lawsuits can be a long, drawn-out process. The longer the trial takes, the more expensive it can become. Taking your case to court also creates the risk of not winning. Speaking with a qualified lawyer will help you determine if a trial is a right choice for you.

Settlement

Settlements take less time than a trial and can save you money in court costs and lawyer fees. You have more control over the settlement process. You and your lawyer can negotiate a better settlement and have the final say in accepting it. 

Unfortunately, in a settlement, the amount may be substantially less than what could be determined in a court case. However, there is always a chance that the court will award you nothing. Settlements are permanent. Once the money is paid, there is no other recourse. 

Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer

Even in the era of COVID-19, personal injury lawyers are standing by to take your case. Most offer online consultations and meetings, making sure that everyone stays safe. The lawyer you choose will help you navigate the complicated process of your personal injury claim and help you determine the best route to go. 

Hann Law Firm has a dedicated team of personal injury lawyers ready to take your call. We advocate for you in the face of these challenges. We’ll get you the compensation you need to heal and move forward with your life. 

Fighting for fair treatment from insurance companies and big businesses can seem like an uphill battle, but we’ll protect your interests every step of the way. We have a long, proven track record of success in San Jose and throughout California – you can trust us when it’s most important. Contact us today for your free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.

What Is ‘Legal’ Self Defense In California?

In California, the self-defense laws state that you have the right to protect yourself without retreating. 

California does not specifically have a “stand-your-ground” law. However, the legal principles in place are particular and provide a certain level of protection for individuals that are defending themselves only under specific circumstances.

What Are “Stand Your Ground” Laws?

In many states, “stand-your-ground” laws give a person the right to defend themselves or others if they have a reasonable belief of a credible threat. In those situations, deadly force is considered reasonable to prevent imminent danger, great bodily harm, or death. A person has the right to stand their ground instead of retreating. 

California’s Castle Doctrine

California recognizes the Castle doctrine. This is a legal principle that permits residents to use deadly force within their home when an intruder unlawfully forces their way into their residence.

In the case of a break-in, the resident specifically may only use deadly force if they have a reasonable fear that they or a member of their household will sustain great bodily injury or imminent death. 

The resident must also have reason to believe that the criminal unlawfully and forcibly entered the home and may not have provoked the intruder in any way.

Under California case law, the imminent danger is one that must be instantly dealt with. See People v. Humphrey (1996) 13 Cal.4th 1073.

Can Force Be Used to Defend Property?

In California, the owner or person in possession of the personal property can use reasonable force to protect their property from harm. Furthermore, a person can also use force to protect the property of a family member or guest from harm.

Reasonable force is defined as the amount of force that a reasonable person in a similar situation would believe is necessary to protect the property from harm.

The deadly force used in the protection of the property is authorized in the following circumstances.

  • To defend a habitation or property against someone who intends to commit a felony by either violence or surprise.
  • To defend a residence or property against an intruder attempting to enter that property violently with the intent of committing violence against someone inside. 

Can Deadly Force Be Used to Defend Yourself?

In California, a person is authorized to use deadly force or commit violence against another individual to protect themselves or protect others from harm. This is known as an affirmative defense to murder charges, voluntary manslaughter charges, or charges for violent crimes.

A person is considered to have acted and lawful self-defense if they reasonably believed that:

  • They are in imminent danger of suffering great bodily injury or being killed.
  • The immediate use of deadly force was required to defend themselves against the danger.
  • The amount of force used was reasonably necessary to protect against that danger.

Imminent danger is defined as being present and immediate. It may not be a perspective or even danger that would happen in the near future. Imminent danger is one that must be immediately dealt with — such as having a gun pointed at your head.

Great bodily injury is defined as being a significant or substantial physical injury.

When a self-defense case is brought before the court, the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury provides the following instructions to criminal juries.

CALCRIM #505. Justifiable Homicide in Self Defense or Defense of Another

Criminal jury instruction #505 states that a defendant will not be considered guilty of murder in the case that they are justified in murdering or attempting to murder someone while defending themselves or another person.

The defendant should have a reasonable belief that themselves or someone else was in “imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily injury.”

The defendant must also have believed that the use of deadly force in their defense was necessary and that they’d used no more force than was required to prevent harm.

A belief that they may be harmed in the future is not considered sufficient defense to justify murder or attempted murder.

CALCRIM #506. Justifiable Homicide in Defending Against Harm to Person Within Home or On Property

Criminal Jury Instruction #506 states that a defendant should not be considered guilty of murder or manslaughter if the murder or attempted murder was committed and the defense of themselves in their own home.

The defendant should have reason to believe that they were defending their home against someone trying to commit a “forcible and atrocious crime” (rape, maiming, or robbery) or believe that the person entering the house was attempting to commit an act of violence.

The defendant must also have believed that the use of deadly force was necessary, that they were in imminent danger, and used only the amount of force necessary to defend themselves.

This instruction also indicates that a defendant is not required to retreat. The defendant has the right to defend themselves, and if necessary, also has the right to pursue their assailant up until the point at which the danger of bodily injury or death has passed.

Like instruction #505, the belief in future harm is not considered sufficient to justify murder or attempted murder.

Contact Us

When you’re facing criminal charges, it’s hard not to focus on what you have to lose. But you have control over your defense – and at Hann Law Firm we’ll do everything in our power to protect your rights.

We have successfully defended many clients in San Jose and central California with decades of combined experience. We will defend you, too. If you are facing a self-defense case, Hann Law Firm is here to help. Contact us today for more information.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

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What Is A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal injury is a legal term used to describe when someone has been mentally or physically harmed due to the negligence of another person, party, or entity.

The legal principle of negligence is the basis for any personal injury claim. To win a personal injury case, you must be able to prove the four elements of negligence including:

  • Duty: The party you are suing owed you a legal duty
  • Breach: The party you are suing breached the legal duty by acting or failing to act
  • Causation: The party’s action (or inaction) was the cause of the injury
  • Damages: You need to prove you were harmed

In California, there are three common venues for filing personal injury claims:

  • Division of Workers’ Compensation for a work-related injury
  • Small claims court for a claim less than $10,000
  • California civil court (Superior Court) for an amount greater than $10,000

Steps To Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California

1. Establish Legal Standing

Legal standing is the right to file a lawsuit and it is required to file in the state of California. To have legal standing, you must:

  • Be directly connected to the subject of the lawsuit. Meaning you must have been directly harmed by the defendant, either through action or inaction.
  • Be an actual legal entity. Meaning you’re either a person or entity that has legal status
  • Have legal capacity. Children under age 18 and adults who are mentally incompetent due to illness, age, or infirmity don’t have legal capacity. Someone with legal capacity can file a lawsuit as a representative on behalf of a person who doesn’t.

2. Hire a Lawyer

This is often the most important step in filing a lawsuit. You need to find a lawyer with whom you are comfortable sharing private information. You also need to trust that they will be there for you as your strongest advocate throughout the legal process.

3: Determine the venue for your lawsuit

The venue is where you file the lawsuit. There may be more than one venue that is appropriate for your case, and your lawyer will advise you which is the best.

A lawsuit must be filed in the county where:

  • You live or have your principal place of business
  • The majority of witnesses are or where the injury happened
  • The defendant lives or has its principal place of business

4. File the Lawsuit

You need to file your personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations deadline expires. The statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time that can pass between an event and a lawsuit being filed. For California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years.

Oftentimes, your lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the prospective defendant prior to filing a lawsuit. If the two sides are able to come to an agreement, you can avoid having to go to court to settle the matter, benefiting everyone involved.

If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, your lawyer will begin the lawsuit by filing a complaint with the court. The complaint is a formal legal document that identifies the legal and factual basis for your personal injury lawsuit. It starts by identifying the plaintiff (you), the defendant, and the court you’re filing your lawsuit in.

The next section explains the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case, identifies the legal theories behind your allegations, and states the facts related to your lawsuit. The complaint also needs to explain what relief you’re seeking, including the amount of money you’re demanding from the defendant.

Depending on your location, you may also be required to file a summons, a document that identifies the parties to the litigation, and explains to the defendant that they are being sued. Along with filing the summons and complaint, you will need to pay a filing fee. The exact amount will vary depending on the court and type of lawsuit.

After you file the complaint and summons with the court, you need to serve a copy of each on the defendant. This is essential because, without proper service, the court will not have jurisdiction over the defendant, meaning that the court can’t impose any judgment.

After filing your summons and complaint with the court, and serving the documents on the defendant, the next step is for the defendant to respond to your complaint. Once you receive a response from the defendant, your lawyer will likely negotiate with the other party to reach a settlement. If they are unable to reach a settlement trial preparation will begin, which will last sometime before the case ends up in court.

Tips for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Here are some helpful tips to ensure the best possible results from your personal injury lawsuit:

1. Find the Right Personal Injury Attorney

Some people feel reluctant about hiring a lawyer and having to pay them a fee to handle their personal injury lawsuit. This is unwise as trying to handle the lawsuit yourself will likely lead to an unsuccessful case as the insurance company is specifically trained to pay you as little as possible.

When insurance companies see a person handling the case themselves, they know they can take advantage of them and pay far less than they would if the plaintiff had an attorney. This can result in you getting pennies on the dollar of what your claim is actually worth. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can handle a case involving personal injury without the help of an attorney.

With thousands of lawyers out there to choose from, finding the right one is not always an easy task. It is important to find an attorney that is trustworthy and experienced in personal injury law.

At Hann Law Firm, we have seen a wide variety of personal injury cases and know the ins and outs of each type of case. We have a proven track record of success in California and can help you get the compensation you need to heal and move forward with your life.

2. Do Not Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company

During the personal injury lawsuit process, the insurance company will ask you to give a recorded statement.

Be aware that providing them with a statement is entirely optional and it is recommended that you exercise your right to not give them one.

This is because insurance companies seek a recorded statement in the hopes of you saying something that devalues your claim.  The way you answer questions can ruin your case, so you should always talk to your attorney first.

Contact Hann Law

Hann Law Firm has the experience needed to protect your interests every step of the way. If you’ve been injured and are in need of an attorney, contact us today to learn how our personal injury law services can help you get the justice you deserve.

Should I Contact a Lawyer After Being Injured in a Car Accident?

consultation

I was in an accident, what’s next?

Car accidents are, unfortunately, problems car owners face. They are unpredictable, but when they do happen, we are often left dazed and confused and looking for advice on the next steps. Here’s what you need to know immediately following an accident and why calling an attorney after an accident is the right call.

What should I do immediately following the accident?

Remember that even at low speeds, cars carry immense levels of force and that after a collision,  you may be in shock. Be sure to try to remain calm. Once you have a clear head, your priority should be to check if you or anyone else involved is injured. Make sure to call the authorities and alert them if anyone is injured as well.

Once you’ve assessed the situation, you should begin taking documentation. Take pictures of your injuries, damage to your vehicle, traffic lights or signs, and anything that may determine who was at fault. Additionally, consider speaking to any bystanders who might have witnessed the accident. Witnesses can be a critical asset for determining fault. Finally, at the scene, exchange information with the parties involved. Do not discuss the accident with anyone else involved and do not admit fault or offer apologies, as these may be used against you in court.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Even if you feel alright, see your doctor. Often immediately following an accident, the body is still in shock, meaning your body could be suppressing the actual extent of any injuries. Additionally, make sure you follow through on the doctor’s orders, whether they include additional tests, specialist appointments, or medication. If you don’t, insurance companies can and will use the information to downplay your potential injuries.

When to call a lawyer.

If you suffer an injury or are involved in an accident with a fatality, you should contact an attorney. With serious injuries, serious medical bills follow, and if you were injured due to a party’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation. Timeliness is crucial for personal injury claims so try to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible.

That is the most obvious scenario where you should call an attorney preceding a car accident. There are some less obvious situations where you need an attorney as well. If you were found at fault incorrectly, based on the evidence or witnesses, an attorney helps you argue against the any claim against you

Additionally, an attorney can help if an insurance company is acting in bad faith. This is when an insurance company denies you the coverage you have paid for, refuses to pay a claim or fails to pay the claim in a timely manner, whether it be your insurance company or the provider of another party involved. When in doubt, it is the safer option to speak to an attorney after a car accident to assess the situation.

Don’t wait to call an attorney.

There are many reasons not to wait to call an attorney after an accident. After the accident, insurance companies are going to want to talk to the parties involved, and they are not looking out for your best interest.

You should avoid giving a statement to an insurance company without first talking to an attorney. Insurance companies are primarily concerned with getting you to agree to a lower settlement, and are notoriously difficult and tedious to deal with. A personal injury attorney is highly experienced in these situations and can legally deal with them for you.

Keep in mind that there are statute of limitations on personal injury claims, and they vary state by state. A statute of limitation is a period of time in which you are allowed to file a claim, and once that window has passed, you are no longer entitled to seek compensation. The sooner you get in touch with an attorney the sooner they can start your claim. Don’t lose track of time, and miss out on your right to compensation.

Once you do decide to reach out to an attorney, you should gather all the documentation you have from the accident, medical bills, police reports, and be prepared to pass the information along. Attorneys will determine the value of your injury claim, and start negotiating with the insurance companies. Usually most claims end in a settlement, but if agreeable terms are not met, you and your attorney may go to trial.

Consider Calling Hann Law Firm!

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you are probably feeling shocked and uncertain. Accidents happen, and often in a split second they can drastically change lives. You shouldn’t spend time fighting insurance companies. You are supposed to be recovering.

That’s where we come in. At Hann Law Firm we build a personal injury claim around YOU. We take a personalized approach that isn’t built around maximizing our profits, but investing time, energy, and resources to fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help you get the justice you deserve.

What Kind of Damages Am I Entitled to After a Trucking Accident?

alimony

What to Do After a Trucking Accident

If you have been in an accident involving a commercial truck, it was likely a major accident, potentially leaving you with serious injuries and financial damages. If the truck driver or trucking company is at fault in the accident, you can seek damages by filing a lawsuit.

In this guide, we’ll go through the damages you may be entitled to after a trucking accident and how to determine who is at fault for the accident.

Damages in a Trucking Accident

If you have endured a trucking accident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. As its name suggests, compensatory damages are intended to compensate the victim for losses in an injury accident. Compensatory damages in a trucking accident lawsuit include both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are those where a dollar value can be determined. They provide for the financial costs the victim has paid or will have to pay in the future. Economic damages in a trucking accident can include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • ER treatment
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Prescription drugs
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Court costs
  • Future medical treatment
  • Loss of consortium for a spouse
  • Medical supplies

With non-economic damages, it is more complex to assess a dollar value. These include physical and emotional losses that the victim has suffered. In a trucking accident, non-economic damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical disability or disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment in life

Punitive Damages

In some cases, the victim may be able to claim punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the at-fault party for negligence.

Be aware that punitive damages are not guaranteed. Instead, they normally apply when you can prove the accident was caused by malicious, intentional, fraudulent, or reckless actions of the truck driver or company.

Here are some examples of truck accidents open to punitive damages:

  • Drunk driving: If the truck driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they were acting both illegally and recklessly.
  • Regulation violations: In this situation, you need to prove that a company intentionally neglected various regulations. This can be difficult to prove as you often need a long record of intentional non-compliance.
  • Employing unsafe drivers: It is a trucking company’s responsibility to perform background checks on its drivers to ensure a clean driving history. If a trucking company hires someone with a poor driving history, they failed to do their due diligence and the accident could have potentially been prevented.
  • Destroying evidence: Because receiving punitive damages requires providing evidence of malicious, intentional, or reckless action. In situations where the driver or the trucking company has taken steps to destroy evidence, you can receive even more punitive damages if you are able to prove that fraud took place.

Determining Fault in a Trucking Accident

Fault in motor vehicle accidents is determined by negligence. Any negligent truck driver will be liable to other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians for any damages caused by an accident.

In normal accidents, driver negligence can be shown by violating a traffic law or failing to drive with due care, but in a trucking accident, the trucking company’s negligence can also be a cause of the accident.

Truck Driver’s Fault

Under California law, a negligent driver is liable for any injuries and damages caused to another. When filing a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff has to prove the defendant was negligent in causing the accident. Negligence in California includes:

  • The truck driver owed the victim(s) a duty of care
  • The truck driver breached the duty of care
  • The driver’s breach was a substantial factor in causing the victim’s injuries

The duty of care for driving in California requires the driver to:

  • Use reasonable care when operating the vehicle;
  • Look out for pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles
  • Control the speed and movement of the vehicle

Many accidents involving semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are the result of the driver failing to use reasonable care. Some examples include:

  • Speeding
  • Improper lane changes
  • Not obeying traffic signals
  • Distracted driving;
  • Driving under the influence of drugs
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way
  • Texting while driving

If any of these traffic violations was a substantial factor in causing the accident, the truck driver may be liable for any injury or damages.

Trucking Company’s Fault

The trucking company can also be negligent in causing a truck accident. This may involve intentionally or recklessly violating transportation regulations or safety requirements to reduce costs or earn higher profits.

When these violations contribute to a trucking accident, the trucking company may be liable for any injuries or damages. Some common examples of trucking company negligence include:

  • Failing to maintain trucks and trailers
  • Overloading trailers
  • Allowing for overweight vehicles
  • Negligent hiring and training of employees
  • Allowing trucks to take on unbalanced cargo
  • Encouraging driver’s to violate hour and sleep restrictions
  • Allowing driver to operate in violation of safety laws
  • Negligent retention of problem employees

What to Do If a Child or Spouse Was Killed in a Trucking Accident

If a child, spouse, or other family member is killed in a trucking accident, the surviving family members may be able to file a lawsuit under California’s wrongful death laws.

While the deceased is not alive to file a personal injury claim, wrongful death lawsuits allow the family to file a claim to seek damages for their loss.

Damages involved in a wrongful death lawsuit can include:

  • Burial expenses
  • Funeral costs
  • Lost of financial support that the deceased would have provided to the family
  • Compensation to the family for the loss of support, protection, and guidance

Filing a Lawsuit After a Trucking Accident

Victims of a trucking accident typically have two years to file a claim in civil court for damages. However, the statute of limitations can be longer or shorter depending on the situation.

For example, personal injury claims filed against the state of California may only have a statute of limitations of six months. As such, it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you file your lawsuit in time.

An experienced personal injury attorney understands the rules and regulations of the trucking industry and knows how to uncover any violations by the truck driver and trucking company.

Contact Hann Law for Help

If you have been injured in a trucking accident, Hann Law can help provide the justice you deserve. We have a proven track record of success throughout California and are here when you need us the most.

Contact us today to learn more about our expert personal injury legal services and let us fight to get you the justice you deserve.

What Is Legal Separation?

separation

While there are similarities between the two, divorce and legal separation are not the same thing. Both involve the couple living apart from each other and have a specific legal agreement in place. However, legal separation doesn’t completely dissolve the marriage the way a divorce does.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the details of legal separation, how it differs from divorce, and how it could be beneficial given your circumstances.

How Legal Separation Works

Like divorce, a legal separation requires court-approved agreements to become valid. The couple and their lawyers must complete agreeable negotiations that will be filed with the court. Unlike a divorce, legal separation still leaves the marriage intact, but with certain stipulations. A legal separation agreement covers all the same issues addressed during a divorce proceeding.

In the State of California, the non-filing spouse must agree to a legal separation. If they do not agree, you may need to file for a divorce.

Pros Of Legal Separation

Choosing to pursue a legal separation is not a decision you should make lightly. For most couples, legal separation is the first step to a final divorce. There can be reasons such as tax benefits and religious considerations that lead a couple to choose legal separation before deciding to completely dissolve their marriage.

Other times, a couple will determine that although they may not want to live under the same roof, they may have a good reason not to get a divorce either.

Here are some of the reasons a legal separation might be the right choice for you:

  • Being married affords couples several federal tax benefits and you and your spouse would like to continue receiving those benefits.
  • There is a possibility of you two reconciling your differences. With legal separation, you and your spouse can still choose to keep your marriage in place after spending some time apart. Many couples are able to seek marriage counseling during legal separation and find it helpful.
  • You or your spouse still wants to receive health insurance from the other’s plan.
  • The two of you may be financially unstable and wish to stay legally married to assist with living costs. This also applies if your spouse will be deemed financially unstable as the result of a divorce and you would like to stay married until they can stand on their own.
  • One or both of you don’t believe in divorce due to religious reasons.
  • If you or your spouse are eligible for the other’s social security benefits, the sum of money increases after 10 years of marriage so you may want to stay married longer.
  • You and your spouse may not be ready to negotiate a complete divorce agreement. Legal separation helps protect your rights and financial interests while the two of you decide if divorce is the best decision.

Cons Of Legal Separation

Like any legal process involving family law, there are some drawbacks to choosing a legal separation. While legal separation isn’t divorce, the process is still complicated and emotionally taxing. This is why it’s important to choose the right family law attorney to represent you and protect your interests.

Here are some of the reasons not to choose legal separation:

  • You have plans to remarry or aspire to remarry at some point in the future. Because legal separation isn’t divorce, you’ll still remain married and California state law does not permit being married to two people at once.
  • When there is zero financial benefit from going through the process. If there is nothing to gain from a legal separation, it likely isn’t worth the trouble of going through the process.
  • You want to sever financial ties with your spouse. Legal separation still requires you to act as one party for financial responsibility, except for child and spousal support obligations.
  • You are absolutely certain you want to dissolve your marriage. Choosing legal separation when you’re certain you won’t stay together might only prolong stress and discontentment.

Residency Requirements And Exceptions

For a married couple to get divorced in California, certain residency requirements must be met. At least one spouse has to be a resident of California for at least six months and a resident of the county where they will file for divorce for at least three months immediately before filing the divorce petition.

Partners who originally formed their domestic partnership in California don’t need to fulfill any residency requirements to get a divorce. The relationship can be severed no matter where the partners are living. However, partners who registered their domestic partnership in a different state will have to meet the same residency requirements that married couples must fulfill.

If neither spouse or domestic partner can meet the residency requirements, one of them can file for a legal separation and then file for divorce later once they meet the residency requirements.

Grounds For Divorce Or Legal Separation

In California, the courts don’t require either spouse or domestic partner to show fault or bad behavior to be able to initiate a divorce or legal separation. California is a “no-fault state”, meaning that either party can simply assert that the pair has “irreconcilable differences” making the marriage unsustainable.

Only one spouse or domestic partner needs to allege irreconcilable differences to have a marriage dissolved as California doesn’t require both parties to agree that differences are irreconcilable.

However, to obtain a legal separation based on this ground, both spouses or domestic partners must consent or one party must not appear in the action. This gives the responding party the power to prevent the legal separation.

Other Orders Available In Legal Separation And Divorce

A court is able to make a wide range of orders in both divorce and legal separation proceedings. If the appropriate jurisdictional requirements are met, a judge can issue the following types of enforceable orders:

  • Child custody and visitation: California courts will assign physical custody and legal decision-making custody to either one or both parents. In some cases, a parent may only be granted visitation rights.
  • Child support: All parents are responsible for the financial well-being of their children. A court will weigh a variety of factors when determining who owes what for child support.
  • Spousal support: In some cases, a judge will decide that a spouse or domestic partner merits financial support for a defined or indefinite amount of time. California law sets forth various factors a court will consider when granting spousal support.
  • Restraining orders: A party may request a domestic violence restraining order to ensure their safety and peace. A court can also grant restraining orders regarding money or property.
  • Property division: The default property division laws in California support community property arrangements. This means that all assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage are usually split equally between the spouses or domestic partners. Couples can form a prenuptial agreement to contract around these laws.
  • Restoration of a former name: In a divorce, a party is entitled to a restoration of their former name on request. However, this is not available in legal separation proceedings.
  • Attorney fees and costs: A court may order one spouse or domestic partner to pay the other a reasonable amount of money for attorney fees and costs. This is to ensure that each party has access to legal representation to be able to preserve their rights.

Contact Hann Law Firm For More Information About Legal Separation

Getting started with a divorce or legal separation can be challenging. As the process moves along, it is essential to have a knowledgeable, experienced attorney at your side. Hann Law Firm is here to guide you during this difficult time. At Hann Law Firm, we understand the struggle. We will do everything we can to make these circumstances as streamlined and pain-free as possible. Whatever that looks like in your particular case – a trial, mediation, or other informal means – our goal is always your well-being and best interests. Contact us today to learn more about or expert family law services.

Personal Injury Law in California – What You Should Know

Injury

Personal injury law in California establishes the legal framework for imposing civil liability for injuries caused by the reckless, careless, or intentional acts or omissions of others. It’s important to be aware of your rights when you are involved in personal injury situations. There are limits to filing a personal injury claim and the laws only pertain to certain situations.

Let’s take a look at the most important laws that will impact your personal injury claim in California:

Statute Of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a time limit in which a person is able to take specific legal action. If the victim fails to take certain legal action during this period, their claim can be forever barred.

In civil law, the legal action required is usually filing a lawsuit. In criminal law, it could be the time by which charges must be filed or an indictment issued.

According to Sections 335.1 and 340 of California’s Code of Civil Procedure, a civil injury victim must usually file a claim within two years of sustaining the injury. There is an exception for situations when the plaintiff did not learn about the harm until later. This is called the “discovery of harm” rule. It applies when the personal injury victim is not able to determine the extent of their injuries caused by an accident until later on.

In these situations, the timer for the statute of limitations doesn’t start until the person discovers the injury. The victim may have to provide proof that the injury didn’t occur at a later date.

Damage Caps On Personal Injury Cases

Another limitation that personal injury victims should understand is the maximum amount they can receive for damages. This limitation can have a major impact on the potential value of a claim and will influence a personal injury attorney’s decision to help you with the case.

The victim can receive economic damages that are based on the amount that they need to be restored to the same level of physical and mental health as before the accident. These amounts are not restricted to specific limitations.

Economic damages include medical expenses such as hospital bills, rehabilitative treatment, prescription medicine, follow-up treatment, and anticipated future medical expenses. It also includes lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and compensation for disability.

Personal injury victims do have a limit related to the non-economic damages portion of their claim. This includes pain and suffering, inconvenience, and mental anguish. In California, personal injury victims are limited to a single digit multiplier of the economic damages that they receive. For example, if someone receives $20,000 in economic damages, the maximum amount of non-economic damages they can receive is $180,000 (9 x $20,000).

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents can often result in personal injury so it’s important to understand the laws motorists must follow.

Driving Laws

  • Passing: Drivers must pass to the left at a safe distance and stay in the passing lane until it’s safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed should maintain their speed and not try speed up to avoid being passed.
  • Turning left: Drivers must use an appropriate turn signal and should only do so when the turn can be made in a reasonably safe manner.
  • Following: A driver must not follow another driver closer than what is reasonable and must consider traffic conditions and the speed of other drivers.
  • Mobile devices: Drivers must not use a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle unless it’s configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to send and receive text messages.

Motorcycle Laws

All motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets when riding on roadways and motorcycle headlights must be turned on during darkness.

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians have the right of way when crossing the roadway in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, meaning drivers must stop and yield to them. Pedestrians should not enter a crosswalk when it will cause an immediate hazard due to nearby traffic.

Pedestrians facing an illuminated “walk” signal may cross the roadway as the signal gives them the right of way. They should not start to walk on a “wait” or “don’t walk” signal.

Pedestrians must yield the right of way to vehicles when crossing a roadway that is not in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

Insurance Requirements

In California, vehicle owners must have insurance that provides liability coverage for the following minimum requirements:

  • $15,000 per person
  • $30,000 for two or more people
  • $5,000 per occurrence for property damage

California uses a no-fault insurance system that finds every owner of a vehicle is liable and responsible for any injury, death, or property damage caused by a negligent or wrongful act, or lack of action. Such drivers are liable up to the amounts listed above.

If a car accident victim can prove that an injury or death was caused by the driver’s willful misconduct or intoxication, they can file a lawsuit against the driver.

Dog Bites

Many states use a “one bite rule” in which dog owners are protected from injury liability for the first time their dog injures someone — as long as they have no reason to suspect their dog was dangerous.

However, California doesn’t use this rule. Instead, dog owners are strictly liable for all dog bites, including the first one. If a dog bites someone in a public place or lawfully in a private place, the dog owner is liable.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice refers to a healthcare provider who fails to meet the appropriate standard of care when providing services to a patient, causing an injury.

The standard of care is the term used to establish the generally accepted practices and procedures that reasonable health practitioners of the same specialization would use when treating a patient with the same condition. The standard of care can vary based on a range of factors such as the patient’s age and health.

In California, medical malpractice cases are subject to additional requirements and limitations. To start, plaintiffs must provide the medical party they plan to sue a formal notice at least 90 days before filing the initial complaint. The notice should provide the following information:

  • The legal basis of the claim
  • The type of damages sustained
  • The nature of the injuries suffered

Medical malpractice lawsuits are also subject to limits on attorney’s fees. The limit is a sliding scale of the percentage a lawyer is allowed to charge:

  • 40% of the first $50,000 recovered
  • 33% of the next $50,000 recovered
  • 25% of the next $500,000 recovered
  • 15% of any over $600,000

Product Defects

California has a variety of laws related to defective products. To succeed in one of these claims the victim must prove the following:

  • The defendant designed, manufactured, distributed, or sold a defective product
  • The product had a defect when it left the defendant’s possession
  • The victim used the product in a reasonably foreseeable way
  • The victim suffered harm because of the defect

California’s strict liability laws allow a victim to hold a defendant strictly liable for their injuries, even if they cannot show that the defendant acted in a negligent manner.

Strict liability applies to the following product defects:

  • Manufacturing defects: Defects when there is a mistake in the manufacturing process so that a certain batch of products are defective.
  • Design defects: Defects when a product is innately defective due to a dangerous design.
  • Warning defect: These defects occur when there are inadequate warnings.

Negligence

Most personal injury cases in California are based on the theory of negligence. This requires showing the following legal elements:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  • The defendant breached the duty of care
  • The plaintiff was harmed
  • The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the harm

Premises Liability

Premises liability refers to the liability of property owners for the injuries or damages that occur on their property.

Examples of premises liability claims include:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Injuries caused by negligent or willful misconduct by third persons

These claims rely on the same legal elements as negligence including duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. However, there are additional principles that must be established such as ownership, possession, and control of the premises.

Without these duties, the party has no responsibility to exercise reasonable care. Owners and possessors of property have a duty to ensure the safety of their property to help prevent others from being harmed.

Get In Touch With A California Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident in California and would like to learn more about your legal rights, Hann Law Firm is here to help. We provide a thoughtful approach to personal injury cases and help you get the compensation you need while you focus on your recovery. We are seasoned litigators who know how to win – Contact us today to find out how we can help you get the justice you deserve.

Tips For Making It Through Work While Going Through A Divorce

Californians going through a divorce may be struggling to handle their day-to-day responsibilities, like getting their kids to school or performing at work. This is completely normal, but it can also be problematic if it is not handled appropriately.

While it is not a great idea to discuss all of the intimate details of a divorce with coworkers, some bosses can be accommodating of individuals employees whom they know are going through a rough personal time. Employees going through a divorce should assess whether they can trust their boss or HR with the knowledge that they are going through a divorce and see if they can get a temporary reprieve on certain larger and more urgent assignments.

If telling someone at work about the divorce is not an option, employees should at least try to take a personal day off from work to recuperate if they begin to feel overwhelmed. It is important to take time away from work to spend either alone or with loved ones for emotional support when going through a divorce. Throwing oneself into work and becoming a workaholic is likely to backfire in the long run.

Given the prevalence of divorce, it is possible that coworkers who know about an employees divorce may be inclined to give unsolicited advice. Here, it is important for a newly-single employee to keep personal boundaries and to filter out unwanted advice. Keeping a healthy mindset is very important when going through a divorce, and individuals may want to explore things like therapy to help them get to a place where they can forgive their exes and move on. However, even if forgiveness can be achieved, it may still be necessary to go to the mat to battle over items of property or assets. A family law attorney can help individuals with these more difficult aspects of a separation.

A Billionaire Uses Trusts To Hide Money In His Divorce

If you are getting divorce in California and there are assets involved, what is happening to Marie Bosarge should frighten you. The wife of a billionaire may be completely shut out of receiving her share of a very large marital estate because her husband legally moved nearly all of their assets to a state that promotes extreme secrecy and protection for the assets of the super-wealthy.

Couples will exchange information about assets

Each divorcing couple will have a point in the process where they need to exchange information about their property and its valuation. In a divorce, this is known as the marital estate, and it is divided between the parties based on the agreement that they will reach. One of the real dangers in a divorce is that one spouse will either hide assets or deliberately undervalue them to end up with more for themselves.

Ed Bosarge took advantage of the laws of one state

Most times, courts will have a very negative reaction to this practice. However, Ed Bosarge moved practically all of his money to South Dakota before the divorce had begun. He was obviously preparing for the divorce but had told his wife that he had the assets there to avoid paying taxes. South Dakota law did not require Ed Bosarge to inform his wife that he had switched beneficiaries of the trusts to someone other than her. Now, she is largely prevented from touching the money and has had to sue her husband because the marital estate has been reduced to $12 million.

When there are assets at stake in a divorce, you need a divorce attorney on your side to make sure that you receive what you deserve in the asset division process. If your spouse is engaging in any type of questionable behavior when it comes to marital property, your attorney may fight to learn more about their assets and will follow the money trail. If they discover hidden assets, they could bring it to the attention of the judge for their action.

Motor Vehicle Accidents More Likely With Older Models

In California and across the U.S., car crashes more commonly happen with vehicles that are older than 10 years. These older vehicles are often involved in fatal or preventable crashes because owners fail to do routine maintenance, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.

In one study of the last three years, older vehicles were involved in the majority of vehicle defect-related crashes. According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, 56% of accidents were caused by defective equipment in vehicles with model years from 1999 to 2008. Only 24% of accidents caused by defective equipment happened in vehicles with model years from 2009 to 2018.

The most common causes of motor vehicle accidents were blown tires and brakes that failed. Blown tires caused 42% of fatal crashes. These accidents could have been prevented with regular vehicle maintenance.

According to the Ohio Insurance Institute, the average vehicle age is 11.8 years, and that is the highest it has ever been. The average vehicle age has been steadily increasing since 2002 when the number was 9.6 years. These figures reflect the fact that drivers are keeping vehicles longer, and some vehicles can last for 15 years and go up to 300,000 miles. One of the reasons that drivers keep vehicles longer is because it is more expensive to repair and replace parts on newer vehicles. An example is a bumper that would cost $200 to repair on an older vehicle and now costs $1,000 on a newer vehicle.

With more older vehicles on the road today, the likelihood of being in a motor vehicle accident has increased. Car accidents can result in serious or debilitating injuries that can last a lifetime as well as cause job loss and excessive medical bills. When an individual is a victim of a motor vehicle accident, it may be important to have a personal injury lawyer to fight for just compensation.