Personal Injury 101: The Lawyer’s Role

Personal injury lawyers are like dentists: they figure in a lot of jokes, but when you need one, there’s no substitute. Whether it’s a motor vehicle accident, a slip-and-fall in a store or mall, an illness or injury caused by a product, or a piano falling from the fourteenth floor, an attorney specializing in personal injury represents the injured party.

FACTS ABOUT PERSONAL INJURY LAW
When dealing with injury law, a lawyer has some obligations to the client. He must keep his finances and bank accounts completely separate from those related to the case. For example, if opposing counsel (the lawyers on the other side) pay a lawyer $15.00 to copy some records, she cannot put that $15.00 in her pocket. That would be called “commingling” and it is against the law.

Attorney-client privilege is also crucial in injury law. This is another term for confidentiality, just as you expect from a doctor. If you tell your lawyer a fact that might damage your case, he cannot reveal that fact to anyone, whether in public or private.

You must have documented physical, mental, or financial injuries, or you do not have a case.

Once a client has signed with a lawyer, a formal Complaint is filed with the court, outlining what has happened, who is responsible and why. The Complaint also provides a dollar amount to settle the case. To arrive at this figure, the attorney or her staff will research the injuring party, determine how much insurance coverage they have, and tally up your “specials,” or medical bills, directly relating to the accident.

There’s no cost to hire a personal injury lawyer, and the client does not pay a fee until the case is settled to everyone’s satisfaction.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT ATTORNEY
Your personal injury lawyer should be sober and serious. He should keep regular hours and return phone calls promptly. She should answer all your questions and translate the complex jargon known as “legalese” into everyday English. Rude, bullying lawyers may be fun on TV, but in real life a client deserves and should demand professional appearance, demeanor, and respect from an attorney.

TECHNOLOGY & THE LAW
The rise of technology has had an impact on law and the way it is practiced. Your attorney may choose to communicate via e-mail or text messaging. She may maintain a web site or a social-media page that provides information or serves as a forum. It’s wise to ask attorneys how technology impacts their practice and what, if anything, you need to know to keep track of your case.

Every moment of the day and night, an accident happens to someone somewhere. When you have been injured, talk to several lawyers, get recommendations, and choose the one who seems most interested in you and most knowledgeable about your situation. Suing someone is never pleasant, but the process does not have to be a nightmare, if you hire a competent, pleasant, and smart personal injury attorney.

No Lawyer Required – Small Claims Court

Your best friend, or someone you thought of as a friend, asked you for a loan of $2,500.00. You had the money, and you liked the guy, so you said okay. Two months have passed, and he bought a new house. You know he’s not hurting. You called him after you heard about the house and asked when he was going to pay you back. He said he had huge expenses now because of the new house. He said soon. Two weeks later you called again. Again he said soon. You just put the phone down. You’re tired of calling. He said soon again. What to do next?

This situation sounds like a case for small claims court. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Letter

Write your friend a letter. Tell him that he has two weeks to pay you back. Tell him you want to resolve his payment to you in a friendly manner, but if you do not receive a check within two weeks, you will see him in small claims court.

We’re hoping that the letter resolves the non-payment problem. If it does not, you’ll have to continue to step two.

2. File a claim

Go to your local small claims court and complete the forms. You can probably download the forms from your county’s small claims website. Submit the forms to the small claims court. The court will schedule a hearing.

3. Service of process

Your friend has become the defendant. He must be served at least 15 days before the hearing date if the defendant lives in San Francisco county. If the defendant does not live in the county, s/he must be served at least 20 days before the hearing date. A capable adult must serve a true copy of the claim. You cannot serve the defendant.

4. Evidence

You next gather all evidence to submit at the hearing. Evidence would include a copy of the cancelled check that you gave your friend and dates and notes of all phone calls that you made to him. You may want to take a photo of his new house.

5. At the hearing

Small claims courts are generally much more informal that other courts. The judge will ask you questions, and then s/he’ll ask your friend, the defendant, questions.

If you have presented the situation with evidence, the judge will probably rule in your favor.

You’ve won your case, and your friend is now going to pay you back, but suppose he doesn’t. Suppose he is a real jerk and has decided that he wants you to have to work just a little harder to get your money back.

6. Collecting a judgment

You have to collect the judgment. The defendant may pay the amount directly to the court. If the defendant does not have the money, the defendant may have to pay installments.

If your friend refuses to pay, you can complete an Application and Order for Appearance and Examination which would require your friend to appear in small claims court to have his income and resources examined.

You could also consider wage garnishment by completing a Writ of Execution. This writ could also levy your friend’s checking or other bank account.

If your friend has a business with a cash register, a sheriff can go to the business for a till tap. The sheriff can take enough money from the cash register to pay the judgment debt. The typical sheriff’s fee for a till tap is $85.00. We hope your friend doesn’t put you in this situation, but if you are ever in this situation, the purpose of small claims courts is to resolve small problems without the expense of an attorney. This is the do it yourself legal remedy.

Disclaimer: This article is not to be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, seek out a licensed attorney. Remember that small claims courts do not require an attorney. If, however, the losing defendant appeals the small claims court’s decision, the new venue is a superior court. In a superior court, you will need an attorney.

Business Law – Make Sure Your Business is Legally Covered

It is important that if you operate a business you understand what the laws are involved. You need to make sure that you are covered with all business related legal issues that possibly could arise. It can be scary if you do not understand the laws of surrounded business but with a little education you can be up and running in no time. It is important that if you incorporate you fill out the proper forms so that legally you have a business entity. It is important that whatever transactions you have there is proper legal documentation to support them. It is always a good idea to find an attorney they can help you manage legal issues with your business.

Always make sure you check that all documents are legally correct so that you do not get sued. It is important to have some common knowledge of business law before you go into business for yourself. Once you have started your business you want to find an attorney that specializes in business law. This will help you so that you can keep all of your legal affairs in order. Having a lawyer who is knowledgeable about this area of law is important so that you do not have any legal trouble in your business.

Remember before you start your own business you want to find out a little information about business law. When it comes to doing up contracts and other legal issues you need to find an attorney that can help you with your business. It is a good idea to interview 2 to 3 attorneys before making a final decision on which one you want to use. Try to stick with a lawyer who specializes in business law not someone who is a general attorney.

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