How Much Can I Get for Slip and Fall Settlement in California?

How Much Can I Get for Slip and Fall Settlement in California?

Slip and fall injuries are serious matters. What looks like a minor slip and fall incident can lead to injuries that can significantly impact your life in many different ways, physically, mentally, and financially.

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall incident in the state of California, you may be wondering how much you are entitled to in a settlement. The answer to your question depends on several factors, and no two slip and fall cases are exactly alike.

Every slip and fall settlement depends on the individual circumstances, so an exact amount is tricky to pinpoint. But here are some factors that help determine your slip and fall settlement, as well as some average settlement amounts to build a frame of reference from in the state of California.

Slip and Fall Settlements

The amount of compensation you can receive for a slip and fall settlement in California depends on numerous factors. In some cases, settlements can be up to millions of dollars, but for many people, figures in the range of tens of thousands of dollars are more likely.

Because there is no fixed value given to the average slip and fall settlement, every case is different. Your lawyer may be able to provide you with a ballpark figure of how much you could be entitled to, but until the issue is settled, there’s no way to confirm an exact settlement figure.

Factors That Can Affect the Value of Your Claim

If your slip and fall accident results in a settlement, numerous factors are considered before it’s decided how much or how little to award you. Every aspect of the settlement is scrutinized, largely because insurance companies want to avoid paying out more than they have to. This is why it’s essential that you enlist the help of a qualified personal injury attorney to advise you with your case.

Injury Severity

The severity of your injuries is the first thing analyzed to determine the value of a settlement. More severe injuries could mean a more severe impact on your life physically and financially, so you could be eligible for a larger settlement.

Medical Costs

How much you’ve had to pay out in medical expenses directly related to your slip and fall injury will also play a part in how much your settlement ends up being. If someone else (or another entity or organization) is found partially or fully responsible your injury, they could be held responsible for paying your medical costs.

The settlement will also consider your future medical costs in relation to your injury. Sadly, for some people, slip and fall injuries can lead to a lifetime of medical expenses. Your settlement should reflect this financial need.

The Effect on Your Wages

If you could not work due to your slip and fall injury, this will be considered in reaching your settlement amount. Your wages could be impacted at the time of the injury and for many years, so this needs to be kept in mind when determining a fair settlement amount.

The Impact on Your Life Now and Later

Slip and fall injuries can be severe and painful. The pain can limit your physical ability to work and enjoy your previous quality of life. This factor should also be considered when estimating a settlement amount.

Who Was at Fault

To determine how much, if any, money you are eligible for, attorneys will look at who is at fault for your accident. Proving that the other party is wholly or mostly at fault can be tricky, but your personal injury lawyer will know how to demonstrate this blame.

If you are partly to blame for your injury, it could reduce your settlement. Consult with your personal injury attorney to discuss your options and go over the details of your injury.

After Your Accident

The most important thing to do after any slip and fall accident is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you think you are not injured, you could have sustained an injury that may manifest days or even weeks later.

Your lawyer will use your medical records to support your case, so make sure everything you tell the medical practitioner is documented accurately. Make sure that you follow the doctor’s recommendations and directions as well. Failure to do so could harm your case.

Report the accident to the property owner or manager. You may need to complete a written report of the accident. If you do, request a copy of the report for your records.

Make sure that you gather evidence for your claim. This evidence can be photo documentation, videos, the clothing you were wearing when the accident occurred, and witness statements about the accident.

Be sure to keep all medical bills, document loss of wages, and keep a record of how the accident has impacted your life. 

Let Us Help You Settle Your Personal Injury Case

Hann Law Firm has extensive experience in handling personal injury cases, including slip and fall settlements. We can help you get the fair and just compensation you deserve.

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 California personal injury attorneys who know how to win – Contact us today to find out how we can help you get the justice you deserve.

7 Things You Should Look For in a Business Law Attorney

7 Things You Should Look For in a Business Law Attorney

Starting and owning a business is challenging. There are many challenges along the way. One of those challenges is often hiring the right business lawyer for your company. An attorney may seem to have the proper knowledge on the surface, but the problem may be that they don’t have the specific knowledge they need to help you with your particular business. 

Law is what we do, and we know finding proper representation is hard. An attorney that’s right for one business may not be suitable for the next. There are so many specializations when it comes to business that it’s impossible to find one lawyer that knows it all. You want to find one who specializes in what you do. 

Today, we’ll take a look at the seven traits to look for when you are searching for a business lawyer. 

#1. Your Business Law Attorney Needs the Right Experience 

Take a look at what types of businesses the attorney has dealt with. Maybe you are a small business, and they usually deal with larger ones. That alone may indicate that they are not the right attorney for your business. 

Take a look at the type of cases they deal with, also. If they don’t have knowledge and experience in the things you need a business lawyer for, you may want to look elsewhere. 

#2. Your Business Law Attorney Needs the Right Expertise

There are many topics to discuss with a business lawyer and many things to ask about. Some of these things include securities law, income tax, finance, real estate, and much more. You will need someone with sophisticated knowledge of your specific business practices, making sure the attorney knows what you need them to. 

You may need more than one attorney. Your attorney is likely to bring in other lawyers to handle areas they lack expertise. This frequently happens, as lawyers have different types of specializations. 

Take the time to assess each attorney, and ensure that either they or their colleagues have the knowledge required to represent you. 

#3. Your Business Law Attorney Needs to Have Business Experience

For a lawyer to advise specific industries, they need to have the knowledge and experiences in the practices, jargon, and norms in the appropriate sector. It’s much like a podiatrist performing open-heart surgery: It doesn’t make sense. 

Therefore, make sure the lawyer you choose knows your industry well. If you specialize in technology and they specialize in entertainment, they are likely not a good fit. 

#4. Your Business Law Attorney Must Have a Good Business Sense

Some attorneys know legal and technical areas, but they lack hands-on experience, making them poor choices for advising business practices. 

You need an attorney with experience in business, good business sense, and experience as a legal advisor. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about an attorney’s experience on both of these sides. You might find he is confident in one area but doesn’t quite fit the bill on the other. 

#5. Your Business Law Attorney Needs to Have the Right Personality — For You

There are many types of personalities and approaches to the business world, which is true in all business areas. You need an attorney who matches yours. If you are a Type A personality, and the attorney is a relaxed Type B, you might not mesh well. But, if you find an attorney who has the same attitudes you do about business, it could be a good fit. 

Don’t be afraid to be picky. The right attorney is out there, so make sure you give yourself the chance to choose the right one for you. 

#6. Your Business Law Attorney Has to Close a Deal

Some attorneys can negotiate well but cannot close the deal. You might be that negotiator and need someone who can close for you. Not all attorneys are good at negotiating or closing, so it’s best to do your research. 

Find out as much as you can about the attorney you look into. Ideally, they should be able to tell you what their strengths and weaknesses are upfront. 

#7. Your Business Law Attorney Needs Helpful Connections

Successful transactions result from a great deal of hard work, and many depend on having connections to others or resources that you can access. If you’re an entrepreneur, you will need a lawyer with connections with the type of people you want to have connections with. Then, the attorney can introduce you to people who will help you. 

Much of the world is made of networking and those who help each other. Find the right attorney who can help you advance and meet the right people. Over time, you can build your network of people in your field and maybe help someone else along the way. 

Need an Experienced Attorney? Let Us Help!

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 to be represented fairly. We know your case is important to you, and we’ll take it just as personally. You – and your business – matter to us. 

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business.

The Criminal Court Process In California

The Criminal Court Process In California

The State of California’s laws, regulations, and criminal court processes are complex and often, confusing. You need the best criminal defense attorney in California that you can find to make sure you and your rights are protected. Whether it is a felony case, a DUI, drug charges, domestic violence, or any other crime, it is essential to have an experienced attorney on your side.

There are many stages to go through when dealing with criminal cases and knowing the court process and what to expect ahead of time will help you prepare.

This article outlines the different parts of the criminal court process and why it is crucial to have the best criminal defense lawyer possible on your side. We understand what you are going through and we know how to navigate the system.

Investigation Of An Alleged Crime

If the police didn’t witness the alleged crime, there would be an investigation before an arrest is made. The goal of an investigation is to determine if a crime happened and who committed it. Depending on the situation, this can take days, weeks, months, or even years. The police will collect evidence and interview witnesses to gather information about a possible crime.

The police may search you or your property as a result of the investigation. Even at this stage, having a criminal defense attorney is beneficial. 

A criminal lawyer will help you:

  • To know your rights and protect you during the interrogation or search.
  • Give you advice on which questions to answer and how to answer them
  • Tell you how to conduct yourself  
  • Tell you your rights during the investigation
  • Attorneys will also be able to work with prosecutors or police to prevent the filing of criminal charges and your arrest when possible

 It is best to always have a lawyer present during any interactions or investigations with the police.

Suspect Is Arrested And Charged After Investigation

Finding evidence during an investigation that may implicate you being guilty is cause for the police to arrest you. During the arrest, the police will search you, and in this instance, it is called a search incident — this is one of the few instances a search warrant is not required.

However, there needs to be probable cause for the police to arrest you. In some instances, one may be arrested on the spot, such as in the circumstance where an officer witnessed an altercation or drug purchase and then stopped the participants. An investigation could also lead to your arrest. In this case, the police may show up at your home, business, or somewhere else with an arrest warrant.

A prosecutor will decide whether to press charges after your arrest. If there is enough evidence and you charged with a crime, you may be:

  • Held for an arraignment 
  • Released on bail
  • Be released if there are no charges filed

Once this is determined and a filing of charges occurs, an arraignment will follow. 

Arraignment

After charging the suspect with a crime, the arraignment will be the first court appearance after being arrested and having charges filed. At this time:

  • The court will read the charges against you
  • The court will read you your rights 
  • The court will appoint a lawyer if you can’t afford one

You will also be able to enter a plea to the charge at this time. If you don’t have a criminal defense lawyer, requesting a continuance at this time may be a good idea, as you will most likely want to consult with a lawyer before entering your plea. It is imperative to understand the consequences of the plea options available to you.

Plea Options are either:

  • A Guilty Plea

Admitting you committed the crime.

  • Not Guilty

Not guilty indicates to the court that you didn’t commit the crime.

  • No Contest

   Acknowledges that there is enough evidence to convict you,  but you don’t admit to the crime

No contest is treated the same as pleading guilty — you will be found guilty, and the court will sentence you. Again, make sure you talk with a criminal defense attorney to understand each plea’s pros and cons and get advice on the best route for you to take based on your circumstances.

Bail Hearings In California

A judge may grant bail; however, bail is contingent on the promise by the suspect to appear at all scheduled court proceedings. The court will address it at your arraignment, or a separate bail hearing. Bail depends on the circumstances of your charge, and a judge has the following options:

 

  • Deny you bail, and you will remain in jail throughout the remainder of your case
  • Set bail for a specific amount that will reflect the crime and the individual’s circumstances
  • Release you without bail, which is known as on your “own recognizance”

You have to remain in jail until you pay the bail amount set by the judge. The judge sets bail based upon your history, the severity of the charge, and whether or not you are a flight risk or not. You must remain in jail for the duration of the trial if the judge sets no bail.

Pretrial Process

During the pretrial process, your criminal defense attorney and prosecutor trade evidence during what is known as the discovery process. Both sides file motions that address any legal issue that can affect the case and how or if it proceeds to trial.

The admissibility of evidence is one of the most critical issues addressed during this discovery period. Suppose the police violated your Fourth amendments rights. In that case, your defense attorney might challenge the legality of any searches or surveillance done on you or your property.

If a judge finds that evidence obtained during an illegal search or surveillance by police,  in the case against you, it is unusable, and this will weaken the prosecution’s case. Your charges could be changed, reduced, or dismissed altogether. Criminal cases are often resolved during the pretrial phase and do not proceed to court.

After the pretrial process, the next step is getting ready for a trial if the case is going to proceed.

Trials In The Criminal Court System

There are two types of trials in California — a bench trial or a trial by jury. Everyone has the right to trial by jury. In a jury trial, each side will present their arguments, evidence, and witness testimony to a jury and the judge. In a bench trial, you waive your right to trial by jury and choose to have the judge decide guilt or innocence.  It is best to consult with your criminal defense attorney before making this decision.

If you go to trial, you must be proven guilty by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt. Failure to do so will result in the jury or judge returning with a not guilty verdict. Being found not guilty means you go free. However, if you are found guilty, then the sentencing is the next phase.

A typical California jury trial proceeds this way:

  • Selection of jury members
  • Opening statements made by prosecution and defense attorney
  • Presentation of evidence
  • Closing arguments
  • The jury deliberates
  • The court receives the verdict
  • Followed by sentencing if necessary

Sentencing

When a jury returns a guilty verdict, the judge will set a date for the sentencing hearing. During the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor and defense lawyer will present evidence and make recommendations to the judge regarding what they think is the appropriate sentence based upon your charge and circumstances. The judge will then decide on sentencing.

Filing An Appeal

You have the right to file an appeal of the verdict when found guilty; however, there must be grounds for the appeal. Usually, grounds for an appeal include evidence of flaws in the case or court process such as:

  • The evidence provided wasn’t enough to be supportive of the verdict
  • Evidence that was obtained illegally was used in court
  • During the process of the case, some mistakes were made that affected the outcome
  • Jury misconduct
  • Prosecutor misconduct
  • The court makes an error
  • The transcript or record of the trial is lost or destroyed
  • New evidence is available

Having the best criminal defense attorney on your side during the appeals process can significantly affect the outcome.

Why Having The Best Criminal Lawyer On Your Side Is Important

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 put us to work for you!

How To Fight And Beat Your California DUI Charges

If you’re facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge, you probably know that it is a serious situation, and you could be facing substantial penalties if the case does not end in your favor. The fallout of losing your case goes beyond having your license suspended. You face multiple fines, re-education programs, higher insurance rates, and possible jail time. With all the consequences you could face, it’s something you want to avoid having on your record.

Even if you’re facing a DUI charge, there’s no need to feel hopeless. There are various strategies to help you with your DUI defense. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help you fight against a conviction and all the penalties it entails. But, with the right strategies in place, your defense can work in your favor. Here are the top defense strategies for a California DUI case.

Erratic Driving Does Not Equal DUI

Your driving pattern is one of the first things a prosecutor will focus on during a California DUI case. Routinely, the arresting officer will testify that you were driving in a way that is “consistent with” a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This could include allegations of speeding or weaving in your lane.

There are various ways your DUI lawyer can rebut this evidence. During cross-examination, they will have the officer testify about the ways you were driving correctly and safely. Additionally, the attorney will have the officer testify that:

  • Sober people commit most traffic violations, and
  • A driving pattern is not a reliable predictor of driving under the influence.

This defense helps provide a story that jurors can connect with, and people drive erratically for several reasons that have nothing to do with drunk driving. For example, they might be eating, changing the radio station, or being distracted by passengers.

Breathalyzer Accuracy

A DUI breath test doesn’t directly measure the amount of alcohol in your blood. Instead, it detects the amount of alcohol on your breath. It then converts that amount to come up with an estimation of the amount of alcohol in your blood. Other errors occur with a breathalyzer that negates its accuracy:

  • Malfunctioning instrument
  • Improper handling
  • If you have medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or other dietary-triggered conditions
  • Radiofrequency interference or other environmental factors

These factors can result in an inaccurate blood alcohol content (BAC). Therefore, having an understanding of these issues is the basis of a successful DUI defense strategy.

15 Minute Observation Period

The arresting officer is required to observe you for a full 15 minutes before performing a breathalyzer. They should observe you without allowing you to eat, drink, or smoke to ensure that nothing interferes with an assumed accurate breathalyzer test. However, the question of whether or not the observation took place is a common defense strategy.

Many officers don’t observe you without distraction. Most times, they’re doing paperwork, talking on their radio, or setting up the breath test machine. Causing doubt about whether the officer failed to observe you properly brings doubt about the breath results and possibly even the entire DUI investigation.

Similar Symptoms Of DUI Are Not An Indicator 

Another way your DUI lawyer can fight your charges is by challenging the use of physical symptoms of intoxication to prove you were under the influence. Your physical appearance is one of the leading indicators the prosecution will use to prove that you were under the influence. The arresting officer may testify that you:

  • Had red, watering eyes
  • Spoke in slurred speech
  • Had a flushed face
  • Had the odor of alcohol on your breath or in your vehicle
  • Were walking with an unsteady gait

However, these can be explained away as there are many reasons for having these symptoms other than drinking. For example, you may have allergies, had a cold, eye irritation, or just been tired.

Improper Field Sobriety Test

When an officer detects possible signs of intoxication, they might request a field sobriety test. These tests are meant to measure your concentration, ability to follow instructions, and check your balance. For example, you may be asked to recite the alphabet, count, follow a flashlight with your eyes, or various other seemingly simple tasks.

Field sobriety tests are used with the intention of using the results as evidence against you. However, this doesn’t take into account other factors that cause the failure of the test. For example, injury, wearing boots or heels, and fatigue can all cause poor performance. In addition, if English isn’t your first language, there may be difficulty understanding the instructions and can also impact the ability to perform the test correctly. Because there is potential for inaccurate test results, California law allows drivers to refuse field sobriety tests.

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 put us to work for you!

Things You Didn’t Know About California Divorce Laws

California divorce laws can be complicated. Knowing their ins and outs is vital to tempering your expectations and protecting yourself should you be faced with a divorce of your own. However, it can feel like a lot to learn on top of going through the process itself. Going in unprepared will leave you overwhelmed and could lead you to make potentially costly mistakes. 

One way to make things easier is to focus on how California divorce laws differ from those of other states. There are many unique aspects to California divorce law that simplify the process. If you’ve been thinking about filing for divorce in California but are intimidated by what the process may entail, you may find these facts about the state’s divorce laws encouraging.

California is a No-Fault State

Before 1970, anyone who filed for divorce needed grounds to do so. On top of presenting an “acceptable” reason to end your divorce, you would need to support it with evidence. Besides dragging out the process, it could prove humiliating for one or both spouses. What’s more, some very serious grounds for divorce could be challenging to prove, like emotional or physical abuse.

California was the first state to utilize the concept of no-fault divorce. Instead of requiring the filing party to convince a judge that their marriage is beyond repair, anyone could seek a divorce without providing a reason. This removes a lot of stress from both spouses and makes the process of divorce itself more approachable for those considering it as an option.

Since California introduced no-fault divorce, other states have followed suit. Their models for pursuing a no-fault divorce largely mirror that of California’s. 

There Are Residential Requirements

While California doesn’t require you to give a reason if you want a divorce, other requirements are still in place. First and foremost, one spouse needs to have been a California resident for at least six months. Also, they need to have been a resident of the county they file in for at least three months. Once you’ve filed, there is a period of six months where spouses can appeal before the divorce gets finalized.

There are different, more strict requirements for those who want a summary dissolution of marriage, another form of divorce. Though the process is faster than the standard divorce proceedings, it has a strict set of requirements that must be met (the Judicial Branch of California lists them all here).

Regardless of which type of divorce you choose, you’ll want the help of experienced divorce attorneys to help you navigate the process. Hann Law Firm can help with any kind of divorce in California.

California and Community Property

A common fear people have going into divorce is losing their property. They may feel they have certain entitlements that the division of property could threaten. Before you choose to file for a divorce, it’s crucial to understand how California carries out the division of property in a divorce.

California (along with some other states) is a community property state. This means that almost all assets (including income and debts) acquired during your marriage are equally co-owned by your spouse. This isn’t true for gifts from a third-party, like an inheritance. When it comes time to divide assets, California law requires it to be as close to equal based on the assets’ combined value. Also, note that assets you acquired during your marriage in another state (even those that don’t use community property laws) will be treated as though you acquired them in California.

Things that you owned before getting married are considered separate property and aren’t co-owned. However, you need to prove that you owned them before marriage. There’s also the issue of commingling property. Commingling occurs when both spouses share or otherwise have an investment in an asset owned by only one of them. A typical example is a wife helping her husband make payments on a car. In such instances, it can be challenging to determine original ownership.

Your lawyer will call on specialists not only to assess an asset’s value but, in the case of commingling property, determine ownership. When it comes to divorce and property, the only way to deviate from these laws is if both spouses agree to how they want to divide property beforehand.

California Allows for Collaborative Divorce

As an alternative to litigating your divorce in court, you and your spouse can instead work together to reach your separation agreement. By avoiding a trial, you can save money on legal fees, divide your property however you agree to, and come up with your custody arrangements. Lawyers are still involved (since it is still a legal process) and involved in signing contracts.

Collaborative divorce can be an incredibly flexible process. At the start, both spouses agree to settle their separation outside of court. However, if you reach an impasse and find something you can’t agree to, you can then go to court and submit the issues you already agreed to as resolved and have them enforced. However, the terms you agree to are final.

For all of these reasons and more, collaborative divorce is the ideal way to end a California marriage. However, it requires both spouses to work together. Unfortunately, not all circumstances allow for that. Still, if you’re looking for a process that gives you more control and eliminates a great deal of pressure, consider discussing it as an option with your family law attorney.

California Doesn’t Recognize Common-Law Marriage 

While many states recognize couples living together for a certain period as being married (called common-law marriage), California does not. That means that cohabiting but unmarried couples don’t get the same benefits as married couples. While this may seem strange, it simplifies divorce for California citizens.

Since there’s no common-law marriage in California, couples living together long-term don’t qualify for divorce and instead can separate without legal action. Community property and its equal division don’t apply since, again, no divorce is taking place. This also prevents situations where people may be considered married without intending to (which can occur in common-law states), protecting both parties from being vulnerable to divorce should the relationship end.

Hire Hann Law Firm

Whether you’re still considering divorce or are already starting the process, you need a knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate attorney in your corner. Our team at Hann Law Firm is here to help fight for you in many different areas of California law, such as divorce (including same-sex divorce), family law, personal injury, criminal defense, business law, and general litigation. Contact us and learn how we can put our expertise to work for you.

What You Should Know About ADR in California

The California legal system allows for alternative dispute resolution, commonly known as ADR. Rather than go through the traditional litigation process, involved parties can agree to resolve legal issues through ADR, saving time and money while giving them more control over the process itself and the final results. ADR has multiple forms in various areas of law, and personal injury disputes see its use often.

California personal injury lawyers will often recommend ADR to their clients for the above reasons and more. At the very least, it’s worth pursuing first before going to court. Below are some of the different forms of ADR available to California residents and how they work.

Mediation

Lawyers highly recommend mediation in instances where both parties feel they can resolve problems amongst themselves. Both sides agree to hire a neutral third-party to act as the mediator, promoting communication between the two without making decisions or judgments. Mediators can help people express or clarify themselves as they seek to reach agreements. Parties can use mediation to reach settlement agreements relating to lost wages, pain and suffering, compensatory damages, and other civil matters. The mediator can be anyone, regardless of their professional background. However, it’s generally best to choose someone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with either party so as not to jeopardize preexisting relationships.

Mediation is especially valuable if both parties value the relationship they share and don’t want it to end. The stress, pain, and bitterness of litigation, especially over small matters, can potentially turn friends and family members against each other. No matter how close these relationships were, they can prove difficult to repair afterward. Even if flared tempers and heightened emotions have already taken hold, mediation can prevent future damage and help people to calm down again.

Though it’s taking place outside of court, a lawyer can still help you during the mediation process. Besides evaluating your dispute’s circumstances and giving you advice, they can offer support as an advocate on your behalf. In situations where an expert’s advice is needed (for example, evaluating an item’s monetary worth), they can use their business connections to make that happen. 

Arbitration

Think of arbitration as a private trial. Much like mediation, both sides will agree on someone to act as an arbitrator for their disputes. However, instead of merely overseeing the dispute, arbitrators act as a judge. Both sides will make their arguments to the arbitrator, including presenting evidence, and at the end, the arbitrator makes an award. All of this takes place in private, usually in one party’s home, and is significantly less stressful than a traditional trial.

There are two types of arbitration available in California: binding and non-binding. As the name implies, an award issued in binding arbitration is final. Non-binding arbitration allows one party to take the matter to court if they aren’t satisfied with the results.

Arbitration is preferred over mediation when the disputed matter is more complicated. The chosen arbitrator can be someone with legal experience relevant to the dispute, ensuring a fair and just resolution. However, mediation isn’t flexible in the same way because you aren’t working together for an agreeable solution. By sacrificing the give-and-take that comes with mediation, you also give up control over the results.

Settlement Conferences

Existing somewhere between mediation and arbitration is the settlement conference. This process sees both parties and their respective lawyers meet with a judge to discuss potential settlements available to them. While a judge is involved here, it isn’t a trial, and they don’t make a final, binding judgment. Instead, they educate everyone involved on what each settlement option means compared to the trial’s likely results.

As the name implies, Settlement conferences are ideal in cases where settlements are possible, like punitive damages and overdue medical bills. However, unlike other ADR options, a settlement conference may be mandatory or voluntary, depending on the dispute’s circumstances. Anyone can agree to voluntary settlement conferences, but if a case is going to trial, your judge may set a date for a mandatory settlement conference before the trial to see if a settlement can be agreed to avoid the trial entirely. 

Neutral Evaluation

With neutral evaluations, the parties go to a neutral third-party and, like with arbitration, make their cases. Instead of reaching a conclusion and giving an award, however, the evaluator will give their opinion on the arguments made, and the evidence presented, highlighting who made the strongest case and explaining what the outcome of a trial would be in their opinion. Parties will usually pick a retired legal professional for this reason.

The most significant difference between neutral evaluation and other ADR forms is that it doesn’t resolve anything. Evaluators are only there to share their opinion and have no authority to make an award or binding decision. So why choose it as a method of ADR? For many people, it helps them determine what course of action they want to take. Based on the evaluator’s opinion, you may feel comfortable pursuing litigation in court, or you and your lawyer may prefer to handle things yourself with mediation.

Neutral evaluation is an excellent method for getting an educated opinion on more complicated issues like comparative fault and potential damages that a judge could award if things head to court. However, in disputes where emotions are already running high, it can be challenging to get both parties to agree to this additional step.

Consider ADR as a First Option

California law has ADR in place for you because it proves to be more beneficial to you and the state’s legal system for resolving civil disputes. They take much less time than usual litigation, cost significantly less in legal fees and costs, and take place on your own time rather than having to wait for assigned dates and hearings. Even if you feel you have a strong case against someone, an attorney may advise you to try one of the above ADR methods first to see if a more straightforward resolution is possible before filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Hann Law Firm Has You Covered

Whether you need a lawyer for personal injury, an expert in family law, an attorney to help you navigate California wrongful death laws, a criminal defense attorney, or need a hand with business law, our team at Hann Law Firm are here to help. Regardless of if you’re pursuing ADR or facing a trial in court, our experts will fight for you with compassion and in-depth knowledge of California’s legal system. Contact us today to learn more.

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?

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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?

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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?

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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.