Were You to Blame for Your Accident? California Law Says You Can Still Collect Damages

April 7, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits

An auto accident is usually just that – an accident – which means no one intentionally caused it. Instead, accidents

Female Driver Making Phone Call After Traffic Accident With Head In Hands.An auto accident is usually just that – an accident – which means no one intentionally caused it. Instead, accidents usually happen because someone made a careless mistake or misjudgment while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers are under a duty to operate their vehicles carefully and in accordance with the traffic laws. When they fail to do so, they are liable for the resulting damages and injuries. But if the accident victim was also partly at fault, California law does not prevent them from recovering.

California comparative negligence

California follows what is known as “pure comparative negligence”, which allows you to recover damages for your injuries in an accident even if you were partly responsible – even if your were more responsible than the other party.

During the negotiation process, an insurance adjuster may attempt to assign percentages of fault to the parties but if the case goes to trial, then the judge or jury will decide this. Unlike what are known as “modified comparative negligence” states that only allow an injury victim to recover if he or she is less than 50% responsible (like Arkansas, Maine, and Tennessee), or less than 51% responsible (like Delaware, Massachusetts, and Oregon), California is one of 13 states that allows the victim to recover even if she or he was 99% at fault. In contrast, there are four states and the District of Columbia that do not allow someone to recover anything for a personal injury if they are even 1% at fault.

What this means is that even if you were 80% at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, you can recover up to 20% of the total value of the damages from the other party.

Comparative negligence hurdles

There are some things to keep in mind about how comparative negligence works in California:

  1. Insurance adjusters and lawyers representing the other parties may try to convince you that you do not have a case because you were partially to blame.
  2. You have the burden of proving all of the elements of negligence – that the other party owed you a duty to do or to refrain from doing something but that he or she breached that duty, the breach caused the accident, and your physical injuries and property damages were a result of the accident.

It is a wise decision to work with a CA car accident lawyer in these situations. Retaining a an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will put a stop to any harassment by insurance companies or other lawyers. It will also ensure that you present the most compelling case, one that complies with court rules and state evidence procedures.

Strong legal representation in Los Angeles

Recovering from the physical pain and impairment resulting from a car accident or other personal injury is hard enough, but mounting medical bills make the process even tougher. If you have been injured in an accident in Southern California, speak with Los Angeles car accident lawyer Sean Salamati. To schedule a free case review in LA, call today!

“California comparative negligence law” resources:

  1. Findlaw, California Civil Code Section 1714, http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/civil-code/civ-sect-1714.html
  2. Justia, California Civil Jury Instruction (CACI), 405. Comparative Fault of Plaintiff, https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/400/405.html
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Suspect Nursing Home Abuse? Follow These Steps

March 30, 2017 Elder Abuse

Elder abuse takes many different forms, some involving physical violence, threats or intimidation, some entailing neglect or sexual abuse, and

iStock_000074630629_nursing-home-abuse-1024x682Elder abuse takes many different forms, some involving physical violence, threats or intimidation, some entailing neglect or sexual abuse, and others involving financial exploitation. The problem of elder abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is a growing one, and research indicates that many cases go unreported and unpunished. While there are literally thousands of nursing homes that provide attentive, quality care to senior residents, there are dozens of others that do not.  In a recent study by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, researchers found that 30 percent of U.S. nursing homes were cited for some form of abuse. The events ranged from the grotesque to the disturbing, with some victims kicked, starved or subject to repeated sexual molestation.

When nursing home staff breaches its duty to provide proper care, residents can suffer irreparable physical and emotional harm.  There are many red flags which may indicate that a loved one may be suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect. Knowing what to look out for can help family identify the problem, report elder abuse or neglect, and hold negligent parties accountable.

Is your loved one being neglected or abused?

There are many warning signals that a family member or loved one is being physically or emotionally abused by their caregivers. Though a single incident (a bruise or scratch) doesn’t always suggest abuse, a combination of any of these signs warrants further investigation:

  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Sudden depression
  • Bedsores
  • Loss of mobility
  • Repeated medication errors
  • Evidence that staff used physical restraints
  • Unexplained injuries, bruises, scratches, infections or STDs
  • Signs of malnutrition or dehydration
  • Acting different around caregivers

Take action: how to report elder abuse

Identifying nursing home abuse or gross neglect of a loved one is often more obvious in cases where the family make routine visits and check-ups to the facility. If you do see one or several red flags, it’s important to talk to your loved one about their treatment and care in the facility. Don’t be surprised if they are reluctant to admit mistreatment or harm, as they may be frightened of future repercussions.

If you believe a loved one is in real danger of serious physical harm, call 911 right away. Do not wait until tragedy strikes, it’s better to report any signs immediately. If danger is not imminent but you suspect the mistreatment or neglect is ongoing, take the following steps:

  1. Share your concerns with administration at the nursing home facility, being careful not to confront the suspected “abuser.” If management is unwilling to help or investigate your concerns in a timely fashion, you should document the signs you are witnessing
  2. Gather evidence: This includes taking photos, making notes of your loved one’s injuries or changing behaviors, or even getting statements from other residents or witnesses.
  3. Report your suspicions to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Office of the Ombudsman. They are responsible for investigating reports of neglect or abuse in long-term assisted care facilities. Be prepared to provide the elder’s name, full address and contact information, and detailed report about why you are concerned.
  4. For more assistance and local agency resources, you can contact the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.
  5. Reach out to your elder loved one’s primary care physician or patient advocate, assuming they are not involved with the suspected abuse or neglect. They can also provide professional guidance on the best course of action.

Elder abuse attorney in Los Angeles

If you believe that a nursing home resident is being neglected or abused in any way, don’t hesitate in seeking the guidance of an elder abuse lawyer in Los Angeles who can ensure that proper authorities are notified immediately. Thorough investigations can determine if legal action is warranted against nursing home workers, administration or on-call staff.

If you would like more information on pursuing an elder neglect claim in California, contact the Los Angeles office of Sean Salamati for a free consult today.

Additional Nursing Home Abuse Resources:

  1. AgingCare, What to Do If You Suspect Abuse in Your Parent’s Retirement Home https://www.agingcare.com/articles/what-to-do-if-you-suspect-abuse-in-your-parent-s-retirement-community-133867.htm
  2. California Dept. Of Health Care Services, MMCD Office of the Ombudsman http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/Pages/MMCDOfficeoftheOmbudsman.aspx
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7 Apps That Prevent Distracted Driving and Texting

March 30, 2017 Auto Accidents

Distracted driving is a serious problem in the United States. The National Safety Council estimates that cell phone use while

Distracted driving is a serious problem in the United States. The National Safety Council estimates that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes and nearly 330,000 injuries each year. In fact, 1 in 4 car accidents are caused by texting and driving! The worst part about these devastating accidents is that they are wholly preventable. The Los Angeles car accident attorneys at the Salamati Law Firm are encouraged about the following apps that prevent texting while driving.

AT&T DriveMode

DriveMode for Android and iOs silences incoming text alerts and sends auto-responses to let people know the recipient is driving. The app automatically turns on when the vehicle starts moving faster than 15 mph. Games, calls, and social media are also locked out, but drivers can still access music and navigation while the car is in motion. Parents can set up the app to notify them when a teen driver disables it. (Free)

Live2Txt

Live2Txt is an Android app that silences incoming calls and texts while driving. The app auto-sends a customized message that the driver is unable to respond at the moment. (Cost: $1.99)

Cellcontrol

This subscription-based app Cellcontrol for Android and iOS is geared toward concerned parents. It comes with a device inserted under the dashboard that blocks incoming and outgoing texts, email, and camera functionality while the car is in motion. (Cost: $39.95 one-time hardware fee + $7.95/month)

On My Way

The On My Way app for Android and iOS lets drivers share time and location with friends to let them know their estimated arrival time. Drivers simply set up the trip and let the app invite selected friends to follow the trip. Location tracking ends when the destination is reached. (Free)

LifeSaver App

LifeSaver for Android and iOS auto-detects driving and blocks cell phone while the car is in motion. Once the vehicle stops, the phone will unlock. Parents receive a text message if their child disables the app. (Free)

tXt Blocker

Another Android and iOS app geared toward parents is tXtBlocker, which goes one step further by not only preventing texting while driving, but also allowing parents to set up “No-Cell Zones” (like school or work) that kids can’t hack. Parents can also locate their teens using the app and obtain driving reports. (Cost: $7/month)

Focus — Screen Free Driving

The Focus app for iPhones is a funny way of being shamed into submission. When the driver touches his or her phone, a voice sternly says, “Hang up and drive.” Those who fail to comply are yelled at with phrases like “Eyes on the road, Chief!” and “Lock your phone NOW!” The reminders may be all some people need to realize how much they touch their phones while driving. A road report includes how many distracted driving minutes were logged. (Free or $4.99 for premium version, with speeding reports)

Need a Los Angeles car accident attorney?

If you or a loved one have been injured in a distracted driving accident in Southern California, contact the Salamati Law Firm for legal representation. Police officers are not legally allowed to check an accident victim’s cell phone records without a warrant, so it can be difficult to gather the evidence needed to prove negligence without a knowledgeable expert on your side. The Salamati Law Firm has the grit and determination to see that justice is served. Contact us for a free, no-obligation quote.

To learn more about Distracted Driving click below:

  1. Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Take the Pledge to Drive SafelyDistracted driving in California
  2. Disturbing Statistics on Distracted Driving in California

Additional “apps to prevent distracted driving” resources:

  1. Verizon – Best apps to block texting while driving, https://www.verizonwireless.com/archive/mobile-living/home-and-family/apps-to-block-texting-while-driving/
  2. Honk For Help – 5 Free Apps To Prevent Texting While Driving http://www.honkforhelp.com/explore/2016/5-free-apps-to-prevent-texting-while-driving/
  3. USA Today – Best Tech To Prevent Distracted Driving http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2016/05/29/best-tech-prevent-distracted-driving/85121278/
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“Grandpa Scam” Targets Vulnerable California Seniors

March 23, 2017 Elder Abuse

Instances of financial fraud against senior Americans is on the rise, with an estimated 10,565 complaints logged in 2015, according

nursing home abuseInstances of financial fraud against senior Americans is on the rise, with an estimated 10,565 complaints logged in 2015, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Among the most sinister is the so-called “Grandpa Scam,” in which fraudsters posing as grandchildren call elderly people, asking for emergency funds under false pretenses.

The AARP cautions that people 50 and older are seen as easy targets for financial abuse. “They expect honesty in the marketplace, are less likely to take action when defrauded, and are less knowledgeable about their rights in an increasingly complex marketplace.”

Grandpa scams fleecing seniors

Seniors are also more likely to pick up the telephone when it rings, giving scammers the perfect window for duping their targets. The phone conversation usually begins with the con artist saying “hello grandma” or “hi grandpa, this is Jimmy” (or whatever the family member’s name happens to be) and then launching into a bogus story about crashing their car or being arrested and needing money right away. When elderly victims are wary or seem confused, scammers continue the ploy with lines like “don’t you recognize my voice grandad?” or “Can I share a secret with you, but no one else?”

Desperate to help their distraught grandchildren, dozens of seniors have been conned out of thousands of dollars before realizing the truth.

The AARP reported on a recent Grandpa scam in California, in which the victim wired $1,500 to his supposed grandchild Ralph, who pleaded for bail money over the phone. It wasn’t until the scammer called a second time, asking for more money that the victim understood what had transpired. When asked by his friends how he could have fallen for such a trick, he answered “I was so concerned about Ralph, and they had the story down so well.”

Financial cons against older Americans

Financial elder exploitation remains a huge concern as America’s senior population continues to grow.  According to Consumers Digest, some 5 million cases of financial exploitation are reported in the U.S. every year. But how do these scammers get the names of family members and other private information in the first place?  According to the Federal Trade Commission, social media sites like Facebook are often tapped for intimate details, and a lot of personal information can be purchased or stolen as well.  Other times, fraudsters will simply try calling random phone numbers until an elderly person picks up.

Considering that financial scams against the elderly are more rampant than ever, it’s important to protect yourself and your loved ones against these harms.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • If you get a call from someone claiming to be a relative who is asking for money, always hang up and consult with another family member to verify the truth
  • Never give out sensitive financial information, including credit card numbers, passwords, routing numbers or bank account numbers, over the phone
  • Do not agree to claim a sweepstakes or lottery prize over the phone or by email– this is a common ploy used to glean private info
  • Report unwanted telemarketing calls or soliciting calls and emails to the FTC for investigation

Legal assistance in Los Angeles, CA

Taking advantage of elderly citizens is an unspeakable crime, and one that should not go unpunished. If someone you love has fallen victim to the “Grandpa scam” or other types of financial exploitation, California laws provide legal recourse.

Los Angeles elder abuse attorney Sean Salamati is well-versed in identifying telemarketing scams and the financial exploitation of older residents. To schedule a free and confidential case review, we invite you to call 888-259-4060.

Additional “elder scams” resources

  1. AARP, How to Beat the Grandparent Scam http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2016/how-to-beat-grandparent-scam.html
  2. CNBC, The ‘Grandpa Scam’ That’s Costing Seniors a Bundle http://www.cnbc.com/2014/07/18/the-grandpa-scam-thats-costing-seniors-a-bundle.html
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What Evidence Is Needed in a Wrongful Death Case in California?

March 16, 2017 Wrongful Death Claims

“Wrongful death” is the name the law gives to a death that resulted from another party’s negligence. If the negligence

Wrongful DeathWrongful death” is the name the law gives to a death that resulted from another party’s negligence. If the negligence had resulted in an injury, it would be termed personal injury. If it results in death or conditions that lead to death, however, it is termed wrongful death. If your loved one has died from a car accident due to another driver’s carelessness or violation of traffic laws, for example, you may be able to bring a wrongful death suit.

Wrongful death cases also need to show that the other party, whether an individual or a business, knew or should have known that the actions or conditions that caused the death were dangerous and that they should have acted responsibly.

What types of evidence do you need to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Your wrongful death attorney will need certain pieces of evidence in order to obtain justice for you and your family. Evidence required by the court in wrongful death claims includes:

A Death Certificate

Death certificates are official documents that contain the cause of death as determined by the coroner. If a slip and fall caused fatal injuries, these injuries will be noted on the death certificate.

Police Reports

If the wrongful death of your loved one was due to an accident or other circumstance in which the police were called, the police reports will be needed. Be sure to obtain and keep copies of any police report in connection with an accident or investigation as soon as possible.

Medical Records

Some causes of wrongful death may be found in medical records. If your loved one died as a result of being given the wrong medication in a hospital, for example, all medications would be noted as part of the medical records. Medical records can also help determine if notations in the records were falsified or removed, or changed at a later date.

Autopsy Reports

If you believe that medical malpractice caused your loved one’s wrongful death, you need to request a full autopsy. Only this can indicate whether medical error was the cause. Surgical errors, for example, are indicated by a thorough examination of the body. If an error in medication, whether type or dosage, caused the death, a toxicology report will provide evidence.

Evidence of a Duty of Care Relationship Between Negligent Entity and Deceased Person

In order to bring a wrongful death suit, it must be shown that the negligent entity and your loved one had a relationship in which the former owed a duty of care to your loved one. A doctor is always to do no harm, for example; that is a doctor’s duty of care. All citizens need to drive safely; they have breached the responsibility if they’ve done otherwise.

In other cases, proving duty of care may be slightly more complicated. If your loved one’s car was hit by another vehicle, and that vehicle had a manufacturer’s defect that caused it to brake improperly, the duty of care might be owed by the manufacturer of the vehicle. Manufacturers must abide by safe practices in making and recalling products.

Tax Returns and Financial Records

Loss of financial support and loss of value of household services are among the financial damages that can be sought in a wrongful death case in California. Tax returns and other financial records are the best way for your attorney to estimate this loss. Other financial records, such as pay stubs, will help the court determine the financial loss. Records of investments and their returns, especially if the deceased person handled all the investments, are also needed.

Family Records

The documentation required for a wrongful death case is in part needed so that potential damages can be estimated. In California, one can receive damages awarded by the court for medical expenses related to the final illness or condition, loss of companionship and consortium for spouses, loss of training and guidance for children, funeral expenses, and burial expenses. Any and all records related to these should be gathered and given to your attorney. Loss of companionship and consortium can depend on length of the marriage, so a marriage certificate should be part of the documentation.

If you need a wrongful death lawyer

If you feel your loved one was the victim of wrongful death, call us today. The compassionate Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys at Salamati Law can help protect your legal rights after the unthinkable happens. We will review your case at no charge to you. Payment will come from any final jury award or settlement amount.

Additional wrongful death lawsuit resources

  1. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), 3921. Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult), https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/3900/3921.html
  2. California Legislative Information, CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE – CCP, ARTICLE 6. Wrongful Death [377.60 – 377.62] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=377.60.&lawCode=CCP
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Child Victims of Dog Bites

March 16, 2017 Dog Bite Injuries

Playing with a dog who suddenly bites is one of the most common causes of child ER visits. Often, the

Furious barking dogPlaying with a dog who suddenly bites is one of the most common causes of child ER visits. Often, the dog is the family pet or a next-door neighbor’s animal. Their small stature and strength puts a child at risk of serious injury from a dog bite. As a parent, you feel frightened, helpless, and probably angry about what has happened. Knowing your legal rights and possibilities is an important step toward closure following a child’s dog bite injury.

Dog bite statistics

According to the CDC:

  • Approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with nearly half of the victims children.
  • For children, the odds of being bitten are 1 in 3.
  • Dog bites cause 44,000 facial injuries in the U.S. each year, accounting for 1.5% of all ER visits.
  • Dogs are most likely to bite children between the ages of 5-9.
  • Children under six are most likely to be admitted to the emergency room for their injuries.
  • Three quarters of dog bite injuries in children under 10 are on the face.
  • 77% of the bites came from a family member or a friend’s dog.
  • There are 15-20 dog bite fatalities each year.
  • 18% of dog bites become infected.

The Insurance Information Institute and State Farm report that:

  • Dog bite injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance claims in 2015.
  • Dog bites cost insurers over $570 million a year.
  • Though the number of dog bite claims decreased 7.2% in 2015, the average cost per claim increased 16%.
  • The average cost per claim was $37,214 – up 94% from 2003 due to increased medical costs and jury awards.
  • California leads the nation in dog bite claims with 1,684 per year.

Child dog bite injuries

The most severe dog bite injuries involve the head, neck and face, which may require surgical repair of underlying structures such as nerves, muscles, and bone. Management of skin healing and scar prevention can be necessary for months following the incident. Furthermore, dog bites can make children seriously ill if the animal infects them with rabies, capnocytophaga spp, pasteurella, MRSA, and/or tetanus.

After the physical wounds heal, many children are left with emotional damage that can last a lifetime. Dog bites can change the way children view dogs for the rest of their lives. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that 12 out of 22 children who suffered dog bites showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder two to nine months after the attack.

Who pays when a dog bites a child in California?

The median charge for a dog bite related ER visit is around $300, according to the California Health Department. However, that cost skyrockets to $3,600 for 24-hour observations, and $5,900 or more for hospitalizations. One-third of medical visits are covered by private insurance.

California dog bite statutes

California is a “strict liability” state, meaning that dog owners are held liable for injuries, regardless of the dog’s past behavior. Children under five cannot be regarded as negligent, even if they are “provoking” the animal due to their inability to understand cause-and-effect consequences. The amount awarded may be reduced based on the percentage of negligence ascribed to a child over five years of age who was antagonizing the dog prior to injury.

When to call a Los Angeles dog bite attorney

You have up to two years from the time of injury to contact a Los Angeles dog bite attorney. Many people are hesitant to file a lawsuit due to an existing relationship with a friend or family member. Most dog bite lawsuits are handled by homeowners’ insurance, rather than out-of-pocket. Often, insurers will automatically pay out up to $1,000 for a child victim’s medical bills. However, you will need to pursue a personal injury claim if the medical expenses were higher. You may be awarded up to $7,500 through California Small Claims Court or much more in California Superior Court.

Compensation for a child’s dog bite injuries may include:

  • Past, present and future medical bills
  • Lost income related to caregiving
  • Repair or replacement of personal property damaged in the attack
  • Compensation for permanent disability and disfigurement
  • Compensation for emotional distress

It is very unusual for dogs to be put down following a bite injury. However, the animal may be placed on local law enforcement lists of “potentially dangerous dogs.” To protect yourself, it is not recommended that you discuss your child’s injuries or medical treatments with anyone except an experienced personal injury attorney. The Salamati Firm has a proven track record of substantial recoveries for dog bite victims. We recently obtained $300,000 on behalf of a child who was permanently disfigured in a Los Angeles dog attack. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

Additional child dog bite injury resources:

  1. CDC – Preventing Dog Bites https://www.cdc.gov/features/dog-bite-prevention/
  2. For Kids’ Sake – The Safety Around Dogs Program http://www.safetyarounddogs.org/statistics.html
  3. Journal of Pediatrics – Posttraumatic stress disorder after dog bites in children. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14722529
  4. Insurance Information Institute – Dog Bite Liability http://www.iii.org/issue-update/dog-bite-liability
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March 16, 2017 Dog Bite Injuries

Every state has its own set of dog bite laws. Some have adopted so-called “one-bite” statutes that gives pet owners

Every state has its own set of dog bite laws. Some have adopted so-called “one-bite” statutes that gives pet owners one shot at escaping legal responsibility in the event their dog bites or attacks someone. There are 14 “one bite” states, but California is not one of them. In California, dog owners are held strictly liable for any injuries or damages suffered by individuals who are bitten by their canines.

Strict liability is a legal term that means the defendant is held legally accountable for injuries or damages that occur, regardless of whether the defendant was negligent or had no intention of causing harm. In other words, California’s strict dog bite statutes make it much easier for victims to prove and win a dog bite lawsuit, because the dog’s owner cannot legally dispute who was to blame.

California – strict liability for dog bites

When California legislators passed Section 3342 of the Civil Code, they imposed a legal duty on all canine owners to control their pets in an effort to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by dog attacks. Prior the enactment of Civil Code section 3342, hundreds of dog bite victims in the state went uncompensated for their physical harm and emotional suffering unless they were able to establish that the owner knew or should have known their dog had displayed a “dangerous propensity” to bite, or had a vicious nature.

Under the current dog bite statutes, all victims have to prove in order to secure money damages from a dog owner is that they were in a public place or lawfully in a private place when they were bitten.  Considering that in more than half of all dog bite cases, the canine belongs to family, friends or is otherwise familiar with the victim, California’s strict liability dog bite laws pave the way for speedy resolution of injury claims, without assignment of fault on the part of the dog owner.

California dog bite statutes allow up to two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner in cases where the victim was lawfully on private or public property. This statute can be invoked even in dog bites where the skin is not broken. For example, canine owners are still held strictly liable in cases where the victim is knocked down and traumatized, but no puncture wounds were sustained.

Who cannot sue after a dog bite?

People who illegally trespass on another’s property and are subsequently bitten by a dog are not able to sue for damages under California’s Civil Code. Another defense that can thwart a recovery is if the victim alarms, excites or provokes the dog into biting. In cases like these, the courts would find that the plaintiff contributed to the animal’s behavior, and this “contributory negligence” could bar a successful claim for compensation. However, this “provocation defense” does not apply in cases involving children under the age of 5, who sadly represent more than 50 percent of all victims.

Dog bite lawyer in Los Angeles

Unfortunately, young children are the most frequent victims of dog bites and attacks, often sustaining disfiguring injuries and lifelong psychological trauma. If you or someone you love were bitten by a canine, Los Angeles dog bite lawyer Sean Salamati can file a claim on your behalf to secure compensation for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages.

For expert legal assistance with your dog bite lawsuit in Southern California, call today to set up a free case review with an experienced legal advocate you can count on, Sean Salamati.

Additional Dog Bite Liability Resources:

  1. Justia, California Dog Bite Statute (Civ. Code, § 3342) https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/400/463.html
  2. AnimalLawInfo, California Statutes – Dangerous Dog Provisions https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ca-dangerous-california-dangerous-dog-statutes#s3342
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What’s the Difference Between Wrongful Death and a Survival Action?

March 16, 2017 Wrongful Death Claims

When a family member dies as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongful actions, California law allows you to

When a family member dies as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongful actions, California law allows you to file a wrongful death lawsuit (Civil Procedure §377.60) and/or a survival action lawsuit (Civil Procedure §377.30). Understanding the differences between the two claims will help you recover maximum compensation, as well as avoid disagreements with other beneficiaries. The two claims differ in:

Wrongful death lawsuits in California

You may file a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one has died as a result of another’s negligence or wrongdoing.

  1. Compensation: Wrongful death lawsuits compensate family members for loss of love, support, training, guidance, assistive services, protection, companionship, consortium, and the loss to society. They can recover money for funeral and burial expenses.
  2. What’s Not Included: Notably, wrongful death lawsuits do not provide compensation for the survivors’ grief, sorrow, pain, and suffering, nor does a wrongful death suit allow the award of punitive damages.
  3. Claimants: The decedent’s next of kin are entitled to recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. The court will determine the degree of dependency for the surviving spouse or domestic partner, parents, and children under 18. In some circumstances, dependent grandchildren and adult children may have a valid claim. In some cases, the spouse may receive everything and the adult children nothing.
  4. Deductions: Since the award is given to the surviving family members, compensation is tax-free.

Survival Cause of Action in California

You may file a survival cause of action if the decedent did not immediately die from injuries suffered.

  1. Compensation: Survival action lawsuits compensate the decedent’s estate for medical expenses and lost wages the individual would have the right to claim had he or she survived. Other compensation may include punitive and exemplary damages, as well as penalties designed to punish wrongdoers.
  2. What’s Not Included: Burial and funeral expenses are not included. The California statute also does not include damages for the decedent’s pain, suffering, or disfigurement prior to death.
  3. Claimants: The estate’s personal representative or successor-in-interest can file a claim on behalf of the decedent. A probate estate must be set up before compensation is given out to the respective parties. Non-family members (such as churches, charities, or other specific individuals) can receive proceeds from a survival action if it is noted in the decedent’s will. Survival action proceeds are distributed pursuant to the will or the laws of intestacy in the absence of a will.
  4. Deductions: Since compensation is given to the decedent, survival actions are subject to federal and estate tax. If the deceased has unpaid bills – credit cards, medical bills, or other debts – these creditors are paid before the heirs receive their money.

Why does it matter whether a plaintiff files wrongful death or survival actions?

Hiring an experienced LA wrongful death attorney will help you navigate the complexities of California law. If your loved one had many unpaid bills and medical expenses, filing a survival action may result in very minimal compensation for surviving kin. However, it is necessary if it’s very important for you to punish those responsible for your loved one’s death.

A lawyer is a valuable friend who can educate you on your legal options and advocate for maximum compensation. The attorneys at The Salamati Law Firm in Southern California have an in-depth knowledge of the law that will help you decide whether to file for wrongful death, survival action, or both. Contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Additional “wrongful death vs. survival action” resources

  1. California Legislative Information, CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE – CCP, ARTICLE 6. Wrongful Death [377.60 – 377.62] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=377.60.&lawCode=CCP
  2. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), 3921. Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult), https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/3900/3921.html
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How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Distributed in California?

March 15, 2017 Wrongful Death Claims

Every state has specific laws regarding the distribution of a wrongful death settlement, which generally includes reparations for losses including

Wrongful Death report and gavel in a court.Every state has specific laws regarding the distribution of a wrongful death settlement, which generally includes reparations for losses including funeral and burial costs, hospital and medical bills incurred, loss of household support, loss of consortium, loss of future financial support, loss of household services, loss of love, society and companionship, and loss of guidance for minor children. Under California Civil Code §377.60, heirs are not able to recover punitive damages in a wrongful death claim.

California wrongful death statutes stipulate who is entitled to make a claim against the decedent’s estate, allowing the surviving spouse, domestic partner (if the partnership was registered), dependent parents, children and dependent minors to recover for the untimely death of a family member.

As is the case in many other states, wrongful deaths in California may give rise to only one civil action. This means that all relatives and domestic partners who may be entitled to compensation must bring the wrongful death jointly, as one group. Because of this legal requirement, there are often questions about how the courts distribute a wrongful death settlement among multiple heirs.

How is the wrongful death settlement divided?

In California, it is largely up to the family members and heirs filing the wrongful death claim to agree upon how much each party should receive out of the settlement proceeds. In a perfect world, claimants will agree to split the monies evenly, or to allocate larger amounts to those who will suffer most from the death, or who are the most disadvantaged financially.

However, there are some cases where claimants want more than their “fair share,” thus depriving children or other remaining family of adequate proceeds from the verdict or settlement. If the family members cannot come to a consensus about how the monies will be distributed, the court will be tasked with dividing the damages, looking at the financial needs and future losses of each claimant. As an example, a surviving widower may suffer lost financial support, while dependent children under the age of 18 may have greater economic needs for education and support compared to older siblings.

At trial, a California jury will assess the nature of each surviving relative’s damages and losses and attempt to distribute the award as fairly as possible. In situations where the decedent’s insurance policy is limited, the funds would be allocated in proportion to the settlement monies.

Some families turn to mediation or binding arbitration to hear each heir’s claim, and make a binding decision regarding how the estate monies will be divided.

If there is no agreement as to the proportional shares of a wrongful death settlement, it is important to speak with a qualified attorney to determine the best strategy.

Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer

If your family has lost a loved one and you need the compassionate assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles, please contact The Salamati Law Firm for a free consultation. Though no amount of money can bring back a family member or loved one, effective legal representation can help ensure that proper compensation is procured, reducing the financial burdens of such a traumatic loss.

Sean Salamati represents clients throughout Southern California. To arrange a free no-obligation case review, please call today.

Additional Wrongful Death Resources:

  1. California Legislature, Wrongful Death  [377.60 – 377.62] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=377.60.&lawCode=CCP
  2. FindLaw, California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60 http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/code-of-civil-procedure/ccp-sect-377-60.html
  3. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)3921. Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult) https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/3900/3921.html

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How to Use Surveillance to Win a Personal Injury Lawsuit

March 10, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits

Video has always been a powerful presentation in legal proceedings and the latest technology has given everyone access. Pretty much

security camera and urban videoVideo has always been a powerful presentation in legal proceedings and the latest technology has given everyone access. Pretty much everyone is walking around with some kind of camera, making it incredibly easy to capture video. This is having a dynamic impact on insurance claims and personal injury cases.

A video is worth a thousand words

People are using their security systems, dash cams and personal devices to capture material that shows insurance companies, lawyers, judges and juries facts you cannot get from police reports or eyewitness accounts. Investigators are going straight to public surveillance cameras to verify the circumstances of incidents. So are commercial retailers and office buildings, many of which have sophisticated camera systems.

Strength of surveillance video in personal injury cases

Savvy Los Angeles personal injury lawyers know it is often not what happened that matters, but what either party can prove with evidence. There is nothing more supportive of a case than surveillance video. Nothing impresses the court system or sways insurance companies like moving images. From claiming to fall on a wet floor to establishing the most likely scenario at an intersection crash, settlement negotiations can be greatly influenced by video.

In a personal injury claim, video can:

  • Reveal which party is accountable.
  • Clarify event sequences.
  • Demonstrate if there were dangerous conditions that contributed to the accident.
  • Show the severity of damage immediately following an incident.
  • Provide lawyers, judges, juries and insurance companies with a clear indication of a victim’s physical injury.

Surveillance & California law

The law restricts how video content can be used in court. One of the strongest rules is that no video capture can be used that invades a person’s privacy. An example would be an insurance company challenging a workman’s compensation claim by showing behavior that contradicts the injury claim. An investigator can video the claimant in a park, store, restaurant or mowing the lawn. They cannot tape in private areas, such as in the claimant’s home.

Getting the right counsel for personal injury cases that involve surveillance video

Depending on the content, video can simplify or intensify negotiation and settlements. It can both show if allegations are exaggerated or if claims are genuine.

The Salamati Law Firm provides steadfast representation for victims of slip and falls, vehicular accidents, animal attacks, and medical and appliance mishaps. We will use surveillance where it helps and fight vigorously if it doesn’t. Expect our goal to be achieving the best possible outcome on your behalf. If you need personal injury legal advice or have been in an accident, give the Salamati Law Firm a call today.

Additional “personal injury & surveillance video” resources

  1. ACLU: Privacy and Surveillance, https://www.aclu.org/issues/national-security/privacy-and-surveillance
  2. The Constitution Project: Guidelines for Public Surveillance, http://www.constitutionproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/54.pdf
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