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Wednesday
Mar142012

Big Rig Truck, Motorcycle, Construction Zone - Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful Death Attorney 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

 

In our practice we deal with tragic accidents all too often.  While many people are significantly injured or sometimes killed in auto v. auto accidents, the most violent injuries occur in motorcycle accidents, big rig trucking accidents, and on construction sites.  And when all three are involved– it’s almost always deadly.

We were recently involved in such a case.  We represented a wonderful family who tragically lost their son when his motorcycle collided with a big rig truck.  The family was extremely close, and the loss was devastating for all of them.  

The accident occurred when the truck turned left out of a parking lot and entered the path of travel of our clients’ son.  He did not have time to react and his motorcycle collided with the truck, killing him.  The devastation was compounded by the fact that the investigating officer found our clients’ son – the motorcyclist – at fault for the accident.

The family came to us seeking answers.  They couldn’t understand how the accident could be their son’s fault when he was just proceeding straight when this truck blocked his right of away causing the accident. In reviewing the police report, the truck was turning left out of a parking lot across north bound traffic to head south.  The officer concluded that the trucker had entered the roadway and had essentially taken over the right of way from north bound traffic before finishing the turn to head south bound.

We immediately went to the scene of the accident to investigate, and noticed some very important factors: 

Van Nuys Wrongful Death1. The truck was not turning out of a typical driveway, it was turning out from a construction site.  This is very important because contractors and sub-contractors have strict regulations that need to be followed regarding safety.  Once in litigation, discovery showed that the truck driver was hauling material off of the job site. 

2.  Also, the driveway the trucker was turning out of was at the end of a sweeping curve.  When we put ourselves in his position, it was very difficult to see any traffic coming from his left to ever know if it was safe to turn.

Construction Site Safety

 

Safety is paramount to each and every construction project.  These safety requirements start with the State of California Construction Safety Orders established by CAL-OSHA.  These Orders establish minimum safety standards whenever employment exists in connection with the construction of any fixed structure.

The general contractor on any site is responsible for the overall safety of the jobsite and work environment.  Each contractor and worker involved in a construction project relies on the general contractor to establish the environment, framework and protocols within which they will work. 

Regardless of the general contractor’s responsibilities, however, each supporting contractor (e.g., a grading contractor) and equipment operator (e.g., the truck driver) is responsible for the safety of its own operations and equipment.  It is the responsibility of the general contractor to make sure each such supporting contractor and equipment operator is carrying out duties safely and complying with all safety protocols, rules and regulations.

The most glaring safety violations in relation to this tragic accident were the lack of signs and flaggers to notify and control traffic along the roadway adjacent to the construction site.  The use of warning signs and flaggers were required by CAL-OSHA Sections 1598 and 1599 when hazards exist because of traffic or haulage conditions at work sites that encroach upon public streets or highways.  Other standards required or recommended the use of flaggers as well, including: 

  • The Work Area Traffic Control Handbook (WATCH Manual)
  • Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
  • Manual of Accident Prevention for Construction (MAPC)

The use of flaggers and flagging has become a highly recognizable and important safety component of construction activity.  Because construction activity is temporary in nature, it calls for unexpected and unusual traffic to be moving on and off of the site. 

The large size of the vehicles that tend to be moving on and off of the site also added to the need for flaggers, as the vehicles require extra time to move across the roadway.  The need for flaggers in this situation was compounded by the large sweeping curve that made it more difficult for the trucker to see oncoming traffic, and difficult for our client's son and other drivers to see the truck exiting the parking lot.

Notwithstanding all of the regulations, standards, and industry practice related to signage and flaggers, the Defendants (including the truck driver and involved contractors), failed to provide any protection for motorists.  Once all of this information came out through litigation, the Defendants settled the case prior to a trial.

The settlement was an important step for the family on their road to recovering from this tragedy.  As we see time and again, such simple and obvious safety standards, if followed, would have prevented a tragic death.

David B. Bobrosky is a Wrongful Death Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com. 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar082012

Supervised Visitation – Monitored Visits Keep Children Comfortable and Safe

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

Not all supervised visitation orders are made by a family law court because of the potential for violence or abuse.

Sometimes a court will order a monitored visit by a third party simply to keep a child comfortable with a parent – especially if the parent had problems parenting (e.g., discussed inappropriate topics, did not properly supervise the child, etc.), has been absent for a period of time, or to introduce a parent to a child when no previous relationship existed.

Of course, there are the more serious situations for which supervised visits are ordered: There may be a threat of abduction in contentious divorces where child custody is in dispute, a parent has a drug or alcohol problem, there is a history of abuse or neglect, or one of the parties suffers mental illness.

No matter what the reason, keep in mind that supervised visits are ordered with your child's best interests in mind, and that the providers of supervised visits should be neutral parties.

 

Finding a Supervised Visit Provider

 

You have three options when choosing someone to supervise visits with your child. You will need to decide if the monitors will be professionals, non-professionals, or therapeutic.

Also, they will need to be at least 21 years old, with no DUI convictions in the last five years, not on probation in the last 10 years, and have no convictions for crimes against another person. They will also need proof of auto insurance so they can transport the child to and from supervised visitations, if necessary. There are agencies that will provide monitors as well as a location for visits.

1. Professional Providers – Your Child Custody Lawyer will generally have a list of referrals for you. Here in California, these providers will comply with standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration. They and their staff will have background clearances.  

Many will also be registered with TrustLine (1-800-822-8490) – if you can get the provider's CA driver's license number and name, TrustLine will be able to tell you if there are any criminal convictions or reports of abuse by that provider in California. 

2. Non-Professional Providers – Some parents feel more comfortable asking a family member or friend to act as a supervised visitation provider. However, there are certain conditions. The non-professional supervised visit provider must be: 

a.)   A neutral party, impartial to either parent (e.g., a mutual friend), and able to avoid conflicts of interest 

b.)  Able to speak the same language as the visiting parent and the child 

c.)   Able to follow court orders, including compliance with standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration 

d.)  Able to make reasonable efforts to assure safety and welfare of the children and adults during the visitation 

The non-professional monitors may need to testify in court, if a custody dispute arises.

3. Therapeutic Providers – These supervised visitation monitors are mental health professionals. Monitored visits will occur in a clinical setting.

If you have more than one child, the number of monitors required depends on a variety of factors, such as their ages and levels of risk to the welfare of the children.

If you need more information about implementing supervised visits while processing and finalizing your divorce proceedings, you can reach me at 818.990.2120.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer in our Family Law Practice Group.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Thursday
Mar012012

Carb Wars - Europe the Latest Evil Empire in the Greenhouse Gas Wars?

Litigation Los AngelesEnvironmental Litigation  

Stephen T. Holzer
818.907.3299

 

Just over a decade after the Cold War ended, we may be beginning another highly stressful, albeit less deadly face-off: a Carbon War. 

Highly stressful, because it will probably mean skyrocketing airfares in the near future. This will be bad for both individuals and companies that require travel to do business, international shippers and the businesses that rely on their services, and even the smaller mom-and-pop stores that thrive on the tourism economy.

Not to mention tensions between countries. 

Less deadly, because world Super Powers aren't pointing ballistic missiles at each other—at least not yet. 

Instead, they're levying fees: Unlike California's controversial Cap and Trade System, the European Union enacted a law that makes airline companies pay for greenhouse gas emissions outright. But they're not just taxing their own aircraft's carbon emissions, but all carriers coming into Europe. 

 

European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) Opposition 

 

The European Union has been charging for aircraft emissions since January 1, 2012. Environmental Law Carbon EmissionsIf an airline refuses to pay up, the airline will be fined 100 Euros for each ton of carbon dioxide emitted. Those companies still refusing to pay the fees or fines may find their wings clipped in Europe. 

In response, a "Rebel Alliance" of unlikely players has formed: Brazil, South Africa, India and China call themselves the BASIC bloc, though the United States and Russia are also involved. Saudi Arabia may even host the next rebellion planning meeting. 

Russia, which like the other countries just mentioned, opposed the EU’s greenhouse gas fees, is threatening in retaliation to reinstate over-flight fees for planes cruising over Siberia, which Russia gave up for World Trade Organization membership. The United States' State Department is also against the greenhouse gas fees, though there's no talk of retaliation or counter charges of any kind as of yet. 

China refuses to allow their air carriers to pay. Companies who feel they must will need special permissions from the Chinese government. 

A joint statement from environmental ministers of the BASIC countries said, 

"Ministers noted that the unilateral action by EU in the name of climate change was taken despite strong international opposition and would seriously jeopardize the international efforts to combat climate change." 

The EU's response is that it wouldn't be charging these fees if there were a global response to solving the greenhouse gas problem. It may take the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to step in and suggest a resolution. But the EU says talks through ICAO haven't worked for the past 10 years, that's why they enacted the aviation emissions law in the first place. 

Moreover, history teaches that countries act only in their own interest and that the United Nations is an impotent organization unless the major powers want it to act.  No wonder talks through the ICAO haven’t worked. 

On the other hand, the EU’s carbon fees may be worse than not acting.  If one government (here, the EU) essentially places a tariff on doing business in that government’s jurisdiction, retaliation is sure to follow (example:  Russia, as discussed above). 

Whatever happens, the carbon emissions war is sure to do one thing: raise airfares for everyone. 

Stephen T. Holzer is a Business Litigation Attorney and the Chair of our Environmental Law Practice Group. Contact him by calling 818.990.2120.

 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Feb232012

Charitable Trusts + Low Interest Rates = Tax Savings

Trusts & Estate Planning

 

by Kira S. Masteller
818.907.3244

 

Some people don't like to talk about death and because of that fear, distaste or superstition; they put off planning for the future. But think about it this way: 

When you pass away, your money and assets will go to one of two places. They will either go to (1) People you care about, or (2) Institutions who have already received your money throughout your lifetime – the State and Federal Governments. 

Those are very broad categories, but it's essentially true. When we talk about the people you care about, we mean more than just those individuals who make up your immediate family. 

In estate planning, “what” you care about may include people, such as yourself, your children, your siblings and your friends – but might also include your alma mater, a national animal rights group, your favorite church or the local Elks Lodge, among many, other organizations. 

The CLAT – Smart Moves in Tax Savings

 

One way to make sure you provide for all of the people and charities you care about is through a CLAT, or Charitable Lead Annuity Trust. The benefit of the CLAT is that you can take advantage of some huge tax breaks right now, while interest rates remain low. In fact, the lower the interest rate, the bigger the tax savings through CLAT. 

These charitable trusts will pay your favorite charity or charities a pre-determined amount of money for a pre-determined time frame, leaving whatever funds or assets that are left at the end to revert back to you, your heirs, or even to another trust. 

If using a CLAT to pass along assets to beneficiaries, your heirs wind up with whatever funds or assets you used to fund the CLAT, and the possibility of very little or no gift tax liability at the end of the term.  For example: 

You own stock that yields dividends (income) you do not need.  You put $100,000 of that stock into a 10 year CLAT that gives $5,000 annually to a program that benefits at-risk teens. The income from the stock increases the value of your CLAT, and at the end of the term, your children get the principal stock, plus the profits it generated. The gift tax your children will owe is based on what the IRS projected the charitable trust to be worth when you first set up the CLAT. 

If employing a CLAT for yourself, you will get the original assets back, and an income tax break. 

Charitable Trusts can be a convenient way to make sure both your heirs and your favorite organizations receive gifts during your lifetime, while you gain an ever-important tax break. 

Kira S. Masteller is a Shareholder in our Trusts & Estate Planning Practice Group. If you have questions about tax planning, business succession planning, or shifting your assets, please call her at 818.990.2120.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

Tuesday
Feb212012

Hiring the "Nice" Attorney a Smart Move for Most

Injury AttorneyInjury Attorney San Fernando Valley 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

A friend of mine says that if he ever hears someone say that his attorney is a nice guy, he or she is fired. He says he doesn’t hire his attorney to be “nice.” If his attorney is nice when interacting with the other side, he or she is not doing their job. 

Mark Hermann published an article recently (“Is Our Lawyer Aggressive Enough”)  on the popular legal website “Above the Law” regarding a similar comment from one of his in-house lawyer colleagues. The comment focused on a concern of whether their outside counsel was “aggressive enough” during a meeting with other attorneys.   Mark described how an attorney can be just as successful, or more successful, being quietly confident as opposed to being a “blowhard.” He also stated another downside to being the type of attorney my friend looks for: 

[B]eing a blowhard can in fact undermine a lawyer’s effectiveness. As a client, I really don’t need to spend money on tangential discovery disputes caused by lawyers with too much testosterone being unable to get along. Being civilized can reduce costs and help speed a case to resolution. 

I completely agree with Mark. In fact, I think the negative effect of being a “blowhard” is magnified in the area of personal injury litigation. 

A personal injury attorney can, and should, be a “nice guy (or gal)”. Comparing two equally skilled lawyers, being  “nice ” helps at every stage of personal injury litigation. 

  • As a client, you want your attorney to be “nice” to you. You want the attorney to truly care about you and your case. This is more important in personal injury litigation than in any other area. If you have suffered a serious injury, or have lost a loved one, you are very vulnerable. You need to feel as though you can trust the attorney and that he or she is working your case as if you are a member of his or her own family. 

  • Statistics show that most cases settle prior to going to trial. Therefore, attorneys must present your case to defense counsel and insurance adjusters. In other words they need to sell your case. Your attorney needs to convince them to ask their superiors for authority to pay money on your case.  Being an attorney the other side likes and respects goes a long way in obtaining maximum value on your case. 

  • For the cases that do go to trial, it will benefit you if your attorney is able to cooperate with the attorney on the other side. Cooperation makes the trial much smoother. Judges and jurors also like “nice” and cooperative attorneys.  They do not appreciate attorneys who are always fighting with each other and making their time in jury duty even longer. An unhappy jury is generally not good for a Plaintiff’s case. 

Now, don’t confuse being “nice” for being a push over. An attorney should extend professional courtesies to the other side when possible, and when it does not hurt your case. Regardless, your attorney can, and must, vigorously pursue your case. However, your attorney should do this with the utmost professionalism and respect for the other side and the Court. It will get your attorney and YOUR case much farther.


David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney at our Firm. Contact him at dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com, 818.990.2120.

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

LEWITT HACKMAN | 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Eleventh Floor, Encino, California 91436-1865 | 818.990.2120