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Entries in California Law (19)

Thursday
Jan162014

Gearing Up: New Driving Laws in California

Personal InjuryPersonal Injury Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

There are new laws aimed at protecting all on our state's roadways, whether they are bicyclists, pedestrians or other motor vehicle operators and passengers.

Much of this legislation is aimed at cracking down on obvious wrong-doers, such as DUI offenders, people who text while driving, and hit-and-run drivers. But a couple laws will affect the rest of us as well.  Here are the new laws for California drivers:

 

Assembly Bill 266: High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes

Have a low, or zero-emission vehicle? Congratulations – if you have a valid sticker from the Department of Motor Vehicles, you can continue to use the HOV lanes until 2019 (formerly 2015), or until federal authorization expires or the Secretary of State receives a specified notice, whichever comes first.

 

Assembly Bill 535: Emergency Alert System (Amber Alerts)

Law enforcement can now issue an Amber Alert when a child has been abducted by anyone, including a custodial parent or guardian, where law enforcement reasonably believes that the life or physical health of the child is in danger.

 

Senate Bill 194: Texting While Driving

Driving While Distracted (DWD) is a growing problem. SB 194 is aimed at cutting back DWD accidents caused by teens – one of the largest age groups guilty of this behavior.

Current law prohibits all drivers from using a cell phone while driving, unless it is a hands free device. This bill prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using any wireless device, including phones, while driving.

 

Assembly Bill 1371: Passing Bicyclists

This is the Three Feet for Safety Act, which requires drivers passing someone on a bicycle to keep three feet away from the cyclist. Failure to maintain three feet of space between an automobile and bicycle while passing results in a $35 fine for the motor vehicle operator, or $220 if that failure results in a collision. This law goes into effect on September 16, 2014.

 

Assembly Bill 184: Statute of Limitations for Hit and Run Accidents

AB 184 amends Penal Code Section 803, potentially doubling the statute of limitations for hit-and-run accidents to six years from the date of any crash that causes serious, permanent injuries or death, subject to all other requirements set forth in AB 184. Before AB 184 the statute of limitations was three years maximum.

 

Senate Bill 717: DUI Search Warrants

This bill amends Penal Code section 1524. Drivers suspected of Driving Under the Influence who refuse a blood test can be served a search warrant to draw blood in a “reasonable, medically approved manner.” This bill was considered an urgency statute and actually went into effect last September.

 

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com or phone: (818) 907-3230.

 

 

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
Jul182013

Pets or Threats? California Law Regarding Dog Attacks

Personal InjuryDog Attack Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

How many times have you gone to the beach, only to spot someone's dog frolicking in the surf without a leash?

Many people would cast a benevolent eye on such a scene, but in truth, these dog owners are violating Los Angeles Municipal Code. Even in some dog parks it's a violation to let a dog off-leash, and by the way, the tether in question needs to be no longer than six feet long.

Vicious Dog Attack Lawyer

The reality of the matter is that whether the dog is behind a fence, on a leash, or running free – and whether or not the owner knows how aggressive his or her dog is towards people and other animals – it is the pet owner who is held responsible. (Please read my colleague's, David Bobrosky's, blog about Pitt Bull & Rottweiler Dog Attacks, for steps to take immediately after being bitten or attacked by a dog.)

California Civil Code Section 3342 states:

The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.

There are exceptions, of course, i.e. if the dog is working in a policing capacity, or when trespassers break into a dog owner's home. Aside from these situations, you should know that:

Statistically, certain breeds are more likely to be involved in serious or fatal dog attacks than others.

  1. Owners are liable for their dogs, whether the animal bites for the first time (called the one bite rule), or has attacked on other occasions – and whether the dog has been trained to fight, is in service, or is just a family pet.

  2. Owners may have to serve jail time or pay monetary fines if they are found criminally liable. They may be liable for the victim's medical bills, long-term care, increased living costs, psychological counseling to overcome trauma, and other provable damages.

  3. If a dog attacks a human and that dog has been trained to fight, attack or kill – a district or city attorney can bring a criminal action against the dog owner. A court may take whatever action is necessary to ensure the vicious animal does not attack people again. A court order could include euthanizing the animal, in addition to criminal penalties against the owner.

When a vicious dog attacks more than once, anyone can bring an action against the owner (called the two bite rule), and a court may order the dog euthanized.

 

What If a Dog Attacks Another Dog?

 

Your dog may be your best friend, and that friendship may be priceless to you.

To the courts though, there is generally a market value accorded to the dog. Usually, the value depends on the dog's purchase price, age, health, breed, training, and certain other factors.

California law is ever-changing, and this applies to a dog's value, including the emotional distress suffered by an owner of a dog suffering serious or fatal injury. Several years ago, a jury awarded a dog owner $39,000 in a veterinary malpractice suit – nearly one quarter of that constituted reimbursement for treatment, but the remaining amount compensated for the dog's unique value to the owner.

Just remember California Civil Code stated above: the owner of any dog is liable for damages

 

Andrew L. Shapiro is an experienced Dog Bite Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com or phone: (818) 907-3230 , for further information.

 

 

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.

Wednesday
Jul112012

Bicycle Safety - California Bicycle Law & Common Sense

Personal InjuryBike Accident Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 630 people died in 2009 because of non-motorized cycling accidents, and 51,000 were injured. Those are national figures. But the California Department of Motor Vehicles cites about 99 bicycle fatalities each year in our own state. The numbers of California bicycle deaths make up a large percentage of the national figure.

Bike Accident Attorney

Many times, bicycle deaths occur simply because the bicyclist wasn't seen by a driver. But every now and then you hear of a bicyclist who was seriously injured or died because of road hazards.

So let's take a moment to review the rules of the road, so you can protect yourself and stay safe when two-wheeling.

Deaths for bicyclists over age 16 increased by 69 percent since 1975. The average age of the people killed while cycling from 2005 to 2009 is 40.  

California Bicycle Law – Reviewing the Basics

 

First, you should know that a bicycle is considered a vehicle in California. That means you must:

  1. Obey all traffic signals and signs.
  2. Ride in the same direction as other vehicular traffic.
  3. Ride on the road, close to the curb, and not on the sidewalk.
  4. Signal when turning.
  5. Wear a helmet if you are under 18.

There are other California bicycle laws to follow, but these five are the most basic, and the ones we see bicyclists violating the most often. You can check the more complete list of bicycle safety rules on the California DMV website page Sharing the Road With Other Vehicles.

 

Bicycle Safety – Paying Close Attention

 

How's your biking environment? Assuming you're following California bicycle law, are your favorite routes kept safe for your ride?

There are many factors that could affect a bicyclist's safety, and we have handled many bicycle accident cases where we found construction company or governmental negligence causing serious injuries and even fatalities.

So when it comes to bicycle safety, watch out for these hazards:

Drainage or Sewer Grates: If the slats run in the direction of traffic, you might be thrown from your bike if your wheels get caught in the grate. We represented a client who was seriously injured because of an ill-fitting grate in Malibu, recently. One of his wheels got stuck in the space between the grate and the pavement.

Potholes: Weather and heavy traffic create them, and hopefully the city or county will repair them. And hopefully they'll be repaired correctly. Watch out for potholes and buckles in the road that may throw you off balance. Watch out especially if the potholes are water-filled, since you may not be able to tell how deep the hole is.

Railroad Tracks: Just like the sewer grates mentioned above, if the rails run with traffic, you might get a tire caught in the groove between the rail and the pavement.

Road Shoulders: Since riding your bike on a sidewalk is illegal in many California municipalities (not illegal in the City of Los Angeles unless you're riding in a dangerous manner), you may want  to use the road. Shoulders can be hazardous to bicyclists though, particularly if they're too narrow and you're forced into the road, or if rumble strips force you into the road. Use a specified bike lane whenever you can. But if you are forced to move off the shoulder and into the road be sure to look for oncoming traffic, and to use hand signals to alert drivers to what you are doing.

Slick Spots: Look out for wet pavement and leaves, oil spills and painted pavements.

Bike Accident Lawyer Los AngelesThese are just some of the hazards you'll need to keep watch for when riding a bicycle. In addition, don't forget the dangers of other drivers: those that don't signal before turning or switching lanes, those that drive distracted, and those that just don't see you sharing the road.

Whether you're driving a two, four, six or 18-wheeler, keep safe, drive defensively, and always look twice before changing lanes or turning.

Andrew L. Shapiro is an Accident Lawyer and Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via e-mail: ashapiro@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.
Wednesday
Sep072011

No Fault Divorce in California: Over 40 Years of Benefits & Consequences

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

 

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

Believe it or not, it was the coastal “blue” states who first and lastly signed no fault divorce bills into law. 

Former governor Ronald Reagan signed the Family Law Act of 1969 which changed California family laws and set precedents for no fault divorces with other states for the next 40 years – while New York’s former governor David Paterson brought the Empire State on board in October, 2010. 

But what is a no fault divorce, and what does it mean for Californians in particular? 

Critics of the law have argued that the law makes it too easy to obtain a divorce. That may be true, considering that 50 percent of marriages tend to end in divorce these days. However, there are definitely some benefits to a no fault divorce:

 

No Fault” means “No Lying”  

 

Before 1970 (when the law went into effect) one party in a divorce had to state specific reasons for applying for a divorce. Oftentimes, when spouses just didn’t get along, a husband or wife had to claim physical abuse, adultery or make some other critical complaint. 

Back then, clients often lied in an effort to obtain divorces.

Aside from the legal muddle of ethical questions and perjury involved, the lying caused other problems. It often created a hostile atmosphere which made it difficult for separating couples to agree on divisions of community property, child visitation, child support, and child custody. 

Additionally, if one side is at fault and the other looks innocent of all wrongdoing, settlements on the above issues generally proved to be unfair to the “at fault” spouse.  

But who suffered the most before 1970? Usually, it was the children, whose parents tended to be hostile and bitter towards each other, and who sometimes saw their relationships with a particular parent decline because of court-ordered restrictions on visitation or custody settlements.

 

Other Benefits of the Current California Divorce Laws

 

 

Because fault is irrelevant when filing for divorce, separating spouses no longer have a “day in court” to tell all that went wrong in a marriage. Some of my clients, specifically those who have been emotionally hurt and angered, are disappointed when I tell them this. 

But not having to testify benefits almost everyone else, particularly victims of domestic abuse. They no longer have to summon up the courage to face their abusive spouse in a courtroom – a California no fault divorce makes it much easier for them to leave a violent marriage.  

 

Marital Advice From a California Divorce Attorney

 

One last thing you should know: Attempting to by-pass the California no fault divorce law with separate, conditional agreements regarding your marriage probably won’t work. 

For example, writing an agreement that assigns one spouse certain property if another spouse has an extra-marital affair won’t be recognized as a valid agreement by the California family law courts – because the judges cannot consider fault when dissolving a marriage. 

There may be other remedies available, like a prenuptial agreement, if you don’t specifically address such marital issues in the agreement – but it would take some forethought and planning by your family law attorney. 

The long and short of it though, is that the no fault divorce laws across the country are mostly beneficial to parties seeking a dissolution of marriage.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a California Divorce Attorney in Los Angeles County. She is a shareholder at Lewitt Hackman in Encino.

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.
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