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Friday
Nov042011

A Car Accident in Los Angeles – Three Steps You Must Take

Injury AttorneyAccident Attorney 

 

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

When you have a car accident in Los Angeles (or anywhere else in the world) it’s often difficult to think clearly about the important steps you need to take to keep you, passengers and other drivers safe immediately afterwards.

 

First, according to California law, you must stop immediately after the accident. If not, you could be charged with a hit and run.

Once stopped, you’ll need to do three things.

First, your basic survival instincts should remind you to get off the road and to stay out of harm’s way. Rubberneckers are prone to causing serious, secondary accidents. We once represented a woman who was struck by a big rig while she was standing outside her car after a minor accident.

The second step is to check to see if anyone has been injured and to call for help if someone did experience anything from minor to extensive injuries, or if they seem to be in a state of shock. My advice is to call the police after every accident. But you’ll find that they usually will not respond unless you tell them someone is injured or the other party is not cooperating in the exchange of information. 

The third step, which often gets lost in the immediacy of the situation, is to document everything that happened.

Steps one and two protect you in the “here and now”. Step three will help you later, particularly in the case of future litigation, financial claims, and/or developing injuries.

California Accident Law – Handle the Legal Requirements First

 

If you’re involved in a car accident in California, you must present your driver’s license, vehicle registration, proof of insurance and current address to the other drivers involved in the accident.

If you don’t have one of our brochures available but you have a smart phone with a decent camera AND if the other drivers will allow you to do this, take photos of the other drivers’ information, ensure all of the text is in focus, and immediately e-mail the photo to yourself so it won’t get lost. Otherwise, grab pen and paper and start writing.

Accident Photos Speak a Thousand Words

 

Once you have everyone’s information, start taking photos of the scene. Get wide shots of the area (include street signs, stop signs, traffic lights, etc.) as well as close up images of anything damaged (yours and theirs), and license plates of the cars involved.

Try to get pictures of the cars before they are moved, if you can, but do not put yourself or others in danger in an attempt to get photos.

Accident Avoidance: Stay Safe When Driving

 

The ideal situation when driving is to do everything you can to avoid a car accident in the first place. You can do this by staying constantly aware. That means no eating, drinking or applying cosmetics while driving, and no using your cell phone while driving. In other words, no driving while distracted, or DWD.

It also means “driving defensively,” especially when you spot others “multi-tasking” on the road.

Sometimes though, no matter how careful you are, things just happen. If you’re involved in a Los Angeles car accident,

1. Get yourself and others to safety.
2. Check for injuries sustained during the accident, and potential dangers arising at the accident scene.
3. Document everything.

You can reach David B. Bobrosky in our Personal Injury Practice Group by dialing 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.

 

 

Friday
Oct282011

Motorcycle Safety | Ride a Hog? Get your Harley Davidson Brake Light Checked

Motorcycle Accident Attorney

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro
(818) 907-3270

 

 

One important part of motorcycle safety for most riders  includes keeping current on bike maintenance and motorcycle recalls. If your machine doesn’t run smoothly, you run an even higher risk of getting into a motorcycle accident.

“Hog” manufacturer Harley Davidson will attempt to do their part to keep their customers safe, following two reported incidents that may have been caused by poorly-designed brake light switches on their bikes, according to an ABC affiliate in San Francisco. They issued a motorcycle recall on Monday, which will go into effect on October 31. Here’s the problem:

It is reported that the switches for the brake lights may malfunction when they’re exposed to too much heat form the bike’s exhaust. This may cause the brake lights to glow when no brake is applied, or to not light up at all when the rider does engage the brake.

Another problem may be even more dangerous, as brake fluid may leak from the over-heated switch area. Apparently that was the case with one of the two incidents mentioned above – a Trike rider lost rear brakes in June of 2010.

The other incident, a motorcycle accident in Louisiana, is still under investigation.

If you’re a Harley owner, you should be getting a notification letter from the manufacturer soon. You can also check recall information on the Harley Davidson website by clicking on the “Owners” tab and then looking for the link to “Check Recalls.” You’ll need to sign in to get Harley Davidson recall information.

The motorcycle recall affects over 300,000 Touring, CVO Touring and Trike models rolling off the production line between 2008 and 2011. Consumer Reports website lists these models in particular:

FLHP 2009-2012
FLHPE 2009-2011
FLHR 2009-2012
FLHRC 2009-2012
FLHT 2009-2010
FLHTC 2009-2012
FLHTCU 2009-2012
FLHTCUSE4 2009
FLHTCUSE5 2010
FLHTCUSE6 2011
FLHTCUSE7 2012
FLHTCUTG 2009-2012
FLHTK 2010-2012
FLHTP 2009-2012
FLHX 2009-2012
FLHXSE 2010
FLHXSE2 2011
FLHXSE3 2012
FLHXXX 2011
FLTR 2009
FLTRSE3 2009
FLTRU 2010-2012
FLTRUSE 2011
FLTRX 2010-2012
FLTRXSE 2012

If you own one of the models affected, you’ll be able to take your Harley back to the dealership for a replacement brake light switch, free of charge.

But in the meantime, it’s probably best to find an alternate means of transportation until you do. When it comes to motorcycle safety, you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of the Personal Injury Practice Group at Lewitt Hackman in Los Angeles, and has ridden motorcycles for over 30 years. You can reach 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
Oct202011

How Green is Greenland? A Cold, Hard Question for One Publisher

Litigation Los AngelesEnvironmental Litigation  

Stephen T. Holzer
818.907.3299

 

What’s over 100 years old and sports a black eye?

The Times Atlas of the World, whose reputation took a hit because of the Greenland map published in its 13th edition, just might be such a contender.

The challenger, the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) of the University of Cambridge Geology Department, studies the Arctic and Antarctic circles.

But what’s the fuss about? The Times Atlas made its latest edition available in September – it shows a Greenland map that looks a bit more green than white, which would indicate more flora and a lot less ice. Additionally, a press release from Times Books publisher, Harper Collins, stated that Greenland ice receded by about 15 percent in the last 12 years.

When the scientific team from SPRI protested these figures, other scientists warmed to the topic, causing Harper Collins to cite the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Colorado as the source of their information.

The site for the NSIDC does support the claim that the Greenland ice sheet is shrinking, by as much as 30 percent during the summers. However, more snow during the winter offsets some of this melt-off. NSIDC also joined SPRI in saying the Times Atlas got their facts wrong.

The SPRI webpage regarding Greenland ice does state that the ice sheet melts bit by bit every year, approximately one cubic kilometer annually, as a general measurement. But that’s no where near the Times Atlas figures or that of NSIDC. And satellite imagery differs from the maps the Times Atlas used.

So what does Harper Collins have to say about all of this? First the company stood by the figures. Then the company said the atlas info remained correct, but the information issued in the press release was misleading. Now the UK’s Daily Mail reports that Harper Collins admitted it was wrong and will make corrections. The publisher took these three positions in three consecutive days.

Now Harper Collins seems to have its own freeze on further statements regarding the topic. But the Times Atlas of the World homepage still makes the following claim, “The world’s most prestigious and authoritative atlas is a benchmark of cartographic excellence. In its 13th edition, it revels today’s world in all its glory and at its most fragile.”

The situation serves as a reminder that the public should not necessarily take any source on as infallible, when separating fact from fiction in the climate-change debate.

Stephen T. Holzer is a Los Angeles Environmental Law Attorney and Chair of our Environmental Law Practice Group. You can reach 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
Oct132011

California Community Property Law | Marriage and Business

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

We all love the romance of marriage. If you are thinking of taking the romantic plunge, you should consider community property law, especially if you live in California when you get married – community property law will apply to you. Ultimately, most of us hope that our marriage and business interests will last a lifetime.

With the proper planning and effort, you can keep both marriage and business running smoothly, until death do you part. Hopefully.

But the fact is, approximately 50 percent of first marriages will end in divorce. While it takes two people to get married, it only takes one person to get divorced in California. So it may be some comfort to know you can still save one institution if you can’t save the other. Here’s what you should know about California community property law:

 

1. Community Property Defined

 

Generally speaking, California community property law covers all property acquired during the marriage, unless a spouse inherits property or receives a gift.

Community property includes income, whether it comes in the form of stock instead of salary, company profit-sharing plans, vacation pay, deferred compensation packages, retirement plans, etc. It also includes profits from a spouse’s business whether the business is characterized as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a closely-held corporation.

It also includes debt incurred after marriage, no matter which spouse acquires the bills.

Separate property usually includes any property owned by a spouse before marriage up to separation, or acquired by gift or inheritance.

 

2. Marital Property Re-Defined

 

Did you know you can redefine your community property? Through a process called Transmutation, you and your fiancé or spouse can define real estate acquisitions as community property or separate property, or convert pension benefits from separate property to community property, or vice versa.

Most people sign prenuptial and/or postnuptial agreements to transmute property. In short, you can redefine all of your property either before or during your marriage, if you and your spouse both agree to written transmutation terms.

 

3. Your Business Protected

 

Some people can mix marriage and business and keep both running smoothly. One way for you to do this is to enter into an agreement with your spouse or fiancé that outlines partnership interests for both of you.

For those of you not in business with a spouse, consider the value of prenuptial agreements. These premarital contracts can:

▪ Protect your business interests, and let you know what to expect in the event of a divorce.
▪ Protect your business partner’s interests, particularly if you are involved in a family owned business.
▪ Protect the growth of your business from becoming community property.
▪ Protect you, if you should contribute to the growth of your spouse’s business.

Because California community property law constantly changes, you’ll want to get expert advice from a family law attorney and/or an estate planning attorney.

At the very least, a prenuptial agreement is the first step in making sure you and your spouse understand your financial obligations to each other, your children and your separate or joint business interests.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Los Angeles divorce attorney in our Family Law Practice Group. If you have questions about community property law in California, reach her 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.

 

 

Tuesday
Oct112011

Maximizing Your Annual Gift | Tax Free Gift Exemption

Trusts & Estate Planning Attorney

 

by Kira S. Masteller
818.907.3244

 

If your estate is valued over the Federal estate tax exemption ($5,000,000 in 2011 and 2012 and returning to $1,000,000 in 2013), you should consider making annual gifts to your family now so that those assets that would be received by the family anyway, will NOT be exposed to unnecessary estate taxes .

 

Your estate includes your:

▪ real estate,
▪ bank accounts,
▪ investments accounts,
▪ retirement assets,
life insurance,
▪ personal property, and
▪ all other assets

Annual Gifts that Don’t Keep on Giving (to the Government)

 

You are allowed to give $13,000 to as many individuals as you desire each year prior to December 31st without having to report the gift to the IRS, and a gift of $13,000 or under will not reduce your lifetime Gift Tax Exemption (presently $5,000,000; scheduled to return to $1,000,000 in 2013).

This means that you can give your son $13,000, his wife $13,000, and each of his three children $13,000 so that you have removed $65,000 that would be taxed at a rate of 35 percent (in 2011-2012; may return to 45 percent in 2013) if you left it in your estate and paid estate tax upon your death.

You can also directly pay tuition for students (your children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren), and health care expenses without affecting your lifetime Gift Tax Exemption. This is another way to help your family and reduce your exposure to Federal estate tax at the same time.

Of course when you have less assets in your estate, you may earn less income. This is something to consider prior to making gifts. Alternatively, if you are paying excessive income taxes, by reducing your income annually, you will pay less income tax annually.

If you have any questions regarding making annual gifts, you should contact your estate planning attorney or accountant to determine whether or not you should plan to make annual gifts to reduce the value of your estate.

Kira S. Masteller is a California Trust Attorney in our Trusts and Estate Planning Practice Group. For more information, call Ms. Masteller 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.

 

 

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