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Our law firm handles personal injury cases on a contingent basis, affording everyone an equal opportunity to employ a strong advocate. Our attorneys charge a fee in the form of a percentage of the settlement we obtain for you.




Cerebral palsy is a birth injury that occurs when the brain is injured before or during the birth process. In some cases, this injury is caused by naturally-occurring factors; however, many times cerebral palsy is caused by medical malpractice. If your infant has been injured by the actions of a medical provider in the Phoenix, Arizona area, it is essential that you obtain the services of experienced cerebral palsy attorneys. They can help you to make important legal decisions during this difficult time, as well as help you to receive compensation for the medical bills and therapy needed to treat your child.

How Does Brain Damage Cause Cerebral Palsy?
The human brain requires a constant supply of oxygen that is supplied by red blood cells. When the blood flow, and therefore the oxygen supply, is cut off from the brain for any length of time, brain cells begin to weaken and die. The severity of brain damage incurred depends on how long the tissue is forced to go without oxygen. In the vast majority of cases, cerebral palsy is caused by this type of brain damage. Our attorneys can help determine whether the injury was caused by neglect or malpractice on the part of the doctors or other medical staff.

Cerebral palsy describes the physical manifestations of a brain injury sustained during birth. Depending on the severity of the injury, children may experience a loss of muscle control that ranges from twitching to an inability to walk or care for themselves. Although they result in similar physical characteristics, Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, and brachial plexus palsy are not related to brain injury and will be discussed on separate pages.

Once a child has cerebral palsy, the condition lasts a lifetime. As children grow, they may be able to take advantage of specialized therapies and medications designed to help them overcome their lack of muscle tone, and it’s important to remember that cerebral palsy cannot get worse with time.

If you live in Phoenix or other areas of Arizona and your child has cerebral palsy, the attorneys of Phillips Law Group urge you to read more about the different types of cerebral palsy and the promising treatments that are available to help your child succeed in life.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Muscle tone describes the “tightness” that the muscle is able to achieve when it flexes. A medium amount of muscle tone is desirable because it produces smooth, fluid movements. The brain of a person with cerebral palsy cannot properly regulate muscle tone.

In the case of spastic cerebral palsy, muscle tone is too tight, resulting in stiff movements. People with spastic cerebral palsy move jerkily and may have difficulty releasing objects being gripped in their hands. Nearly 50 percent of all people with cerebral palsy have the spastic variation, making it the most common type of cerebral palsy case brought to our Phoenix, Arizona attorneys.

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Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Children with ataxic cerebral palsy have muscle tone that is very low – the opposite of spastic cerebral palsy. Much rarer than other forms of the condition, ataxic cerebral palsy causes balance and depth perception problems in affected children.

Many Phoenix, Arizona parents who seek representation from our cerebral palsy attorneys also report that their children tend to have shaky hands and need more time to complete detailed activities or projects.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
Children with athetoid cerebral palsy have a hard time regulating the amount of tone in their muscles, meaning that they may have either high or low muscle tone without warning. Walking and even sitting upright can be very difficult for these children.

One of the most recognizable features of athetoid cerebral palsy is the tendency to make involuntary movements in the arms and legs and facial grimaces. These movements are very difficult to control; oftentimes, the child will have to use enormous concentration to achieve a task such as reaching for a toy.

It is estimated that about 20 percent of people with cerebral palsy experience the athetoid variety. Our attorneys can help you to determine the best legal course of action if your family has been affected by cerebral palsy. Contact Phillips Law Group today for a consultation.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy
It is estimated that about 25 percent of children with cerebral palsy have one or more types, a condition known as mixed cerebral palsy. Our attorneys understand the difficulties of getting an accurate diagnosis in the case of mixed cerebral palsy, and want to reduce your stress level by helping you to negotiate your legal case as smoothly as possible.

No matter which kind of cerebral palsy your child has, it is your responsibility to explore every resource available to your child. If you live in Phoenix, or elsewhere in Arizona, and would like more information about cerebral palsy compensation, contact the medical malpractice attorneys of Phillips Law Group today.

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Medical Malpractice
Perhaps no other type of personal injury case is as devastating as one arising from the neglect of a medical provider. We all place our trust in the education, training, and experience of our physicians. Unfortunately, even the most simple examinations, diagnosis , prescriptions, or operations can be (and regularly are) performed negligently by a medical provider, with dire consequences.
If you or a loved one is suffering due to the neglect of a physician or other medical provider, you need the help of Naimi & Dilbeck. Our attorney have both worked on the other side of medical malpractice cases, and have seen first-hand the tactics of negligent medical providers and their insurers and attorneys in attempting to stage a defense. Doctors and their insurers and attorneys are prepared to fight, and these cases are complex, involving medical experts, voluminous documentation, medical and scientific terminology and concepts, and extensive economic calculations. Medical malpractice cases are no joking matter. It isn’t “one call that’s all.” Make sure you choose a diligent and aggressive personal injury law firm like Naimi &Dilbeck to prosecute your medical malpractice case.
And whatever you do, don’t wait too long. A huge negative consequence of Nevada’s 2004 tort reform Keep Our Doctors In Nevada (“KODIN”) is that the amount of time someone who is the victim of medical malpractice has to enforce their rights is limited to one year! It makes no sense that a car accident victim has a two-year statute of limitations in what are often simple matters, whereas a hugely complex medical case has only a one-year statute of limitations, but this is the case.
Time is of the essence in medical malpractice cases, so don’t wait another minute! Call Naimi & Dilbeck today for a free consultation.
Sports and Recreational Injuries
Serious injuries aren’t limited to roadways, business premises, or the operating room. In fact, a huge percentage of injuries occur in ways you are least likely to suspect, and can encompass more than just simple negligence. Injuries in these areas can arise from defective products, intentional acts, or simple negligence. Even a relaxing trip to the lake can end in disaster through negligent operation of a boat or the intoxication of a boat or jet ski operator. Boat and jet skis are no less subject to negligent or defective manufacture than any other type of product. The same can be said for dirt bikes, four wheelers, and skate boards.
It is imperative that if you or a loved one have been injured in a boating or recreation accident, you hire attorneys who are familiar with these types of cases and have the experience and expertise necessary to identify and properly prosecute the responsible party, be it an individual or multi-national company.
Our consultations are free, and we can even come to you. Call us today for a free consultation and be sure to visit our FAQ page and injury blog.
Dog Bites
Let’s just say that not all dogs are sweet and cuddly. In fact, dog attacks are unfortunately a very common occurrence. It is estimated that over 4 million people become dog bite victims every year. It is also estimated that nearly a million of those dog bite cases are serious enough to require medical attention. If you or your child has been the victim of a dog bite, it is imperative that you seek the counsel of a qualified Las Vegas dog bite attorney.
Understanding the Nevada Dog Bite Laws
Like every other state, Nevada has its own set of dog bite laws. All dog owners have a responsibility to identify the dangerous propensities of their animal and take precaution to prevent attacks and injuries to the public. However, it is much more difficult that you think identifying responsible parties and their insurers while crafting a winning case for the liability of the dog owner.
The Dangerous Dog Statute – The dog, without provocation, has acted in a menacing manner twice within 18 months causing a reasonable person to feel the need to defend themselves from the dog if they are not locked up or confined within the owner’s property.
The Viscous Dog Statute – A dog that attacks or injures a person without provocation and inflicts serious injury or even death.
The Owner Liability – The owner is fully liable if they are aware of the dog’s tendency to attack and they are required to take necessary precautions to prevent such events.
When the Naimi & Dilbeck is on your side, you don’t need to understand the different Las Vegas dog bite laws – you can leave that to us. We will represent your rights in a professional and aggressive manner while making sure every angle is covered so you and your family can focus your time on recovering and moving on with your life.
What to Do When You Are the Victim of an Animal Attack in Las Vegas
Animal attacks in the Las Vegas area take a toll on any individual and family having to endure this experience. First, there are the physical injuries. It is important that you receive proper medical attention right away. If you do not the injuries could get worse causing the need for long-term care.
You also need to address your mental and emotional well-being. When you experience a traumatic event, such as an animal attack, there will most likely be lasting effects that may require you to seek professional counsel. As experienced dog bite attorneys, we ensure that you receive help for all areas that are affected through a situation such as this.
Sensitivity & Experience You Need to Defend Your Case
When the Nevada law office of Naimi & Dilbeck are on your side we will make sure that your rights are not forgotten. We have been able to help previous clients receive compensation in the following areas:
Medical Expenses
Lost Wages
Lost Earning Capacity
Pain and Suffering
Wrongful Death
Naimi & Dilbeck understands that when a dog bite occurs it can be a very stressful situation. You may be wondering where to turn for help – especially as your medical bills start to accumulate. We are here to help you as a dog bite victim and guarantee personal attention to you and your case. We are not just a law firm that goes through the legal motions. Not only do we guide you through the legal process, we also ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve to find true justice for the pain and suffering you are experiencing.
If you or a family member has been attacked by a dog, seek a personal injury attorney with experience in dog bite incidents immediately. These cases require a lot of investigation and are subject to Nevada’s two-year statue of limitations. Please contact Naimi & Dilbeck now at (702) 823-3333 for your free consultation and be sure to visit our FAQ page and injury blog.
If you are injured at the fault of another person, you would need to hire a personal injury attorney who will investigate and preserve your claim. This is your only chance of getting the compensation

that you deserve. When it comes to finding the best lawyer, there are a few tips that can help.

When it comes to hiring a personal injury attorney, it is important to hire someone with experience in this field. You need an attorney who has experience assessing the circumstances of an accident, and then investigating. You need someone who knows what to look for and where to look. They also need to be able to know what pieces of evidence will benefit the case.

Every state has laws and standards regarding negligence, contributory negligence, causation, assumption of the risk, statutes of limitation, and a variety of other laws. It takes an experienced attorney to build a case based on these laws.

It takes an experienced lawyer to know the proper venue for the type of accident that you were in. This can affect the amount of compensation that you would receive. For example, a slip and fall case would be filed in the state where the accident occurred. Unfortunately, not every case is that simple. If you were injured by a product while in your home that was manufactured in another state, the state where the suit would be filed can be complicated. An experienced attorney would be able to analyze the situation to protect your best interests.

If you hire a personal injury attorney without much experience, you are taking a serious chance on your case and your future. Before you hire an attorney, find out if they have handled cases similar to yours in the past. You should also look into their success rates and whether or not they are prepared to take your case to trial if necessary.

In order for an attorney to accurately value the compensation for which you are entitled. Personal injury attorneys have certain skills when it comes to assessing the liability factor in the case, causation, and negligence. It is best to have an attorney whose practice focuses on personal injury. You may know an attorney is successful in real estate law, however, they won’t have the experience in personal injury that you will need to win your case.

When it comes to hiring an attorney, you need one with a good reputation. A lawyer who has good relationships with insurance companies, other lawyers, and with the people in the courthouse where they practice will go a long way. It is important that your attorney is seen by the defendant and the court as someone who handles cases the right way.

It is important to have an attorney who can look at your case objectively. This is the best way to get the maximum compensation. You do not want to have an attorney who will be quick to settle for any amount, just to move on to the next client.

Personality is a huge factor when hiring a personal injury attorney ft lauderdale. While your attorney will not become your new best friend, you want someone who will listen you your concerns, update you on the status of your case, and return calls in a reasonable amount of time.
Anyone who has been in a car accident may need the services of a car injury attorney. These lawyers can help in recovering your losses due to the accident. They can also help you deal with the insurance companies, who are never out to help you, only themselves. By contacting a car injury attorney quickly after the accident, you give yourself the best chance of having a successful outcome in the resolving of your case, and to get the compensation you are owed.

The following is some vital information about hiring a car injury lawyer:

Why Do You Need One?

Sadly, car accidents happen every day. Most all of the personal injury claims filed within the U.S. are from accidents involving trucks, cars, or other types of motor vehicles. The damages from these types of accidents can range from minor ‘fender benders’ to totaled cars and injured people. Many times these are easily handled through the insurance companies. However, when they involved personal injury or fatalities, then legal representation is needed to see that the compensation is right. That’s why you need a car accident attorney.

Hiring an experience car accident lawyer will help ensure that your compensation is what you need and deserve. With personal injury accidents there can be costly medical expenses, car repairs, and lost wages. There are also situations when there are fatalities, and a car accident attorney can help you recover for losing a loved one. This is especially true if the accident involved drunk driving, speeding, or reckless driving. Your attorney will prove negligence on the side of the other party.

What You Need to Look For When Hiring a Car Accident Attorney:

These attorneys handle a broad range of issues that spring out of a car accident. It could be wrongful death, liability determination, destruction of property, or personal injury. When you look for your own legal representation you want to concentrate on the experience level of the lawyer, their commitment, specializations, and track record. Money should factor in as well.

Here are some things to look for:

Make sure your car injury lawyer is well versed in both state and national laws regarding transportation. They should be adept at dealing with insurance companies as well as healthcare companies. You want your attorney to be able to prepare and settle your case in a way that gets you the compensation you deserve. Always check reference and do some background checking.

Another tip is that the good attorneys will take your case on contingency. That means if they don’t win, they don’t get paid. They will study your case to determine if it has enough merit to take it on. You should make yourself aware of their fee structure to ensure that you come out with what you need as well, after the attorney fees have been paid.

When Should You Hire Your Car Injury Lawyer?

The sooner after the accident the better. There are usually deadlines for doing so that vary from one state to the next. Make sure if you think you have a case, to not drag your feet in contacting an attorney. The sooner the better.

Now is the time to start being proactive about your personal injury claim. Ideally, this will help you find the best personal injury lawyer so that you can get an optimal outcome for your case. Read on to find out what you should do next in this important process.

Having a preexisting condition doesn’t make you ineligible for compensation for any accidents that you are in. Discuss your medical history with a personal injury attorney Fort Lauderdale Florida locals can hire. Make sure that your provider is aware of everything pertinent so that there are no unpleasant surprises in court.

When dealing with a personal injury case, you have to make certain that you are speaking with others who have gone through similar events in the past. Having a good lawyer will give you the best chance at getting a positive outcome for your case. You deserve the best personal injury attorney Fort Lauderdale residents can hire.

Never use personal injury lawyers that you have found through television ads. This is a very common mistake that injury victims often make. Lawyers like these are overwhelmed with clients and thus, your case will probably be handled in its entirety by paralegals, so it is important to research your options carefully. Failing to do your due diligence can result in a lot of wasted time and money.

Talk to your attorney and get answers to all of the questions that you currently have. You probably want to know more about this process and the legal fees it entails. Asking questions will help you feel more comfortable.

If you are hurt, speak with the authorities right away. If you get injured in the workplace, speak with your employer. If you are struck by a car, contact the police immediately.

It is important to know about the individual who caused you accident. It may be possible to make a claim based on multiple policy violations. Knowing your rights and the laws that pertain to your case is essential for winning a case without any legal help.

After having been involved in an accident, you will need to take legal action immediately in order to guard your right to receive compensation. Should you decide that you wish to file suit later on, a deadline that you didn’t even know existed may have passed. Thus, remember to connect with a seasoned and trustworthy personal injury attorney Fort Lauderdale locals can hire so that this professional can help you file a claim for compensation.

When attending a free consultation visit with a personal injury lawyer, make sure to carry copies of any important documents that pertain to your case. It will be necessary to have income loss statements, insurance documents, bills for any medical care that you have received and all other, relevant correspondence. It is not possible to have too much documentation.

After an injury accident has occurred, collect the names and phone numbers of all witnesses as quickly as you can. It may be possible for your attorney to contact these individuals and get information that supports your case. People might move or details of the event can become blurry with the passage of time, so it is important to get this done right away.

Whether or not you win your case is dependent upon whether or not you have the right lawyer ad are knowledgeable about personal injury law and yourself. Use the tips outlined in this article to prepare for your court appearance. This will increase your chances of getting an excellent outcome.

Car Accidents

Anyone who has been in a car accident may need the services of a car injury attorney. These lawyers can help in recovering your losses due to the accident. They can also help you deal with the insurance companies, who are never out to help you, only themselves. By contacting a car injury attorney quickly after the accident, you give yourself the best chance of having a successful outcome in the resolving of your case, and to get the compensation you are owed.
The following is some vital information about hiring a car injury lawyer:
Why Do You Need One?
Sadly, car accidents happen every day. Most all of the personal injury claims filed within the U.S. are from accidents involving trucks, cars, or other types of motor vehicles. The damages from these types of accidents can range from minor ‘fender benders’ to totaled cars and injured people. Many times these are easily handled through the insurance companies. However, when they involved personal injury or fatalities, then legal representation is needed to see that the compensation is right. That’s why you need a car accident attorney.
Hiring an experience car accident lawyer will help ensure that your compensation is what you need and deserve. With personal injury accidents there can be costly medical expenses, car repairs, and lost wages. There are also situations when there are fatalities, and a car accident attorney can help you recover for losing a loved one. This is especially true if the accident involved drunk driving, speeding, or reckless driving. Your attorney will prove negligence on the side of the other party.
What You Need to Look For When Hiring a Car Accident Attorney:
These attorneys handle a broad range of issues that spring out of a car accident. It could be wrongful death, liability determination, destruction of property, or personal injury. When you look for your own legal representation you want to concentrate on the experience level of the lawyer, their commitment, specializations, and track record. Money should factor in as well.
Here are some things to look for:
Make sure your car injury lawyer is well versed in both state and national laws regarding transportation. They should be adept at dealing with insurance companies as well as healthcare companies. You want your attorney to be able to prepare and settle your case in a way that gets you the compensation you deserve. Always check reference and do some background checking.
Another tip is that the good attorneys will take your case on contingency. That means if they don’t win, they don’t get paid. They will study your case to determine if it has enough merit to take it on. You should make yourself aware of their fee structure to ensure that you come out with what you need as well, after the attorney fees have been paid.
When Should You Hire Your Car Injury Lawyer?
The sooner after the accident the better. There are usually deadlines for doing so that vary from one state to the next. Make sure if you think you have a case, to not drag your feet in contacting an attorney. The sooner the better.
Finding A Lawyer

When you’re facing an especially serious and complicated injury claim, you need to find personal injury lawyer. Of course, you can’t get the help you need if you hire just any old lawyer. Try to find one with experience in personal injury claims, one you know you can trust to get an successful outcome.
Find Personal Injury Lawyer
There are different ways of getting referrals for finding your personal injury lawyer. After you have a few referrals, make sure you do some comparison shopping. Get together with several of your leads to discuss you claim and see how you feel about them. Go in prepared to reject and/or be rejected. A lot of lawyers won’t touch a case unless the recovery amount is to their benefit or if the facts of a claim are obscure.
Here are some good referral hunting places:
1) Friend and Acquaintances
Have a talk with your friends or your coworkers. Chances are some of them have had to use lawyers to represent them in their own claims. If they give you a good recommendation, then follow up on that. However, you should not let a good recommendation from a friend or coworker be the sole basis for hiring your attorney. People have different needs and are in different situations, only you can figure out if this attorney is best for you. Reserve judgment until you have discussed your case and feel comfortable working with the attorney you’re discussing it with.
2) Other Attorneys
Another great attorney hunting place is by asking an attorney you already know. Regardless of the kind of law they’re involved in, they know people and hear things that can be of benefit to you. They move in those circles. Again, you don’t want to just take their word for it, but they can give you an excellent lead.
3) Referral Services
Most of the local bar associations offer referral services. They arrange the names of available lawyers according to their specialties. The services of lawyers covers a very broad range of legal areas. There is also a broad range of quality levels in terms of referral services, some are just better than others. Before deciding on what referral service to use, ask about its qualifications and about how carefully they screen their lawyers.
One thing that might be missing from a lawyer referral service is the insight into a particular lawyer’s philosophy. Some are willing to become your legal coach and some are reluctant. Some are more aggressive than others. Always screen them yourself in person. Use the leads you can get but do your own screening and make your own decisions. This is how you find personal injury lawyer.
Truck Accidents

Anyone who has been injured as the result of a truck accident, whether they were the driver of that truck or of the other vehicle, may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. Other parties like pedestrians or bicyclists may also be due compensation. You have the right to a legal claim against the parties at fault, even if in some way you are partially responsible.
The subject of ‘accident liability’ is sometimes a very complicated one. It is always a wise move to contact truck accident attorneys in these situations, to find out what your options are. You should try to find one with experience in these kinds of cases and that has a good track record to boot.
Suing When Partially at Fault
There are times when you may be able to sue even if you had some degree of responsibility for the truck accident. There are some states that follow a ‘comparative negligence’ theory, which gauges how much each party involved was actually responsible. They assess their level of liability. Experienced truck accident attorneys know exactly how to represent you in cases like this.
Determining Who is Responsible
Many people involved in truck accidents are unaware of who the responsible parties are. That’s why it is crucial that you have proper representation and everyone involved stays under close scrutiny until it has been thoroughly investigated. Finding out who is responsible and at what level is vital to the outcome of the lawsuit.
The most obvious parties to bear responsibility will be the drivers. However, there are extenuating circumstances that can put more blame on another party who was just there but not driving. Everything that took place prior to the accident must be investigated and evaluated.
There can also be other guilty parties involved that you don’t think of or see immediately like –
Trucking Companies
Government Entities
Insurance Companies
Vehicle Manufacturers
A good truck accident lawyers will be able to help you find all of these potentially liable defendants to help ensure you get the maximum compensation for any injuries you suffer.
Your Best Legal Strategy
There are other options available than just filing a suit in court. Lots of cases get settled out of court. Many go into mediation or arbitration. These strategies do have their benefits and can save a lot of headaches as well as money spent on going through the court system.
Good truck accident attorneys know all the avenues to pursue and which ones are the best for you and your situation. So don’t waste time contacting one as soon as you can after your accident.
Personal Injury Attorney Fort Lauderdale

The penalties for driving without valid car insurance is quite significant in many states. The penalties become even more severe, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and are not in possession of the required insurance. In such an instance you would need to contract the services of a personal injury attorney Fort Lauderdale, to provide a defense on your behalf. Additional information is provided below.

If You Reside in a No-Fault Insurance State
When last counted, there was a total of 12 states that were following the “no-fault” car insurance system.
In this kind of state, when an individual is injured in a car accident, they would usually seek compensation from their personal car insurance coverage. In very rare situations, the injured party would file a lawsuit, and go outside of the boundaries of the no-fault system.
If you happen to reside in a no-fault state and are the person at fault in an accident, and have no insurance, you cannot be named as a defendant in a lawsuit by the other driver, neither can they seek compensation from you. This will be possible only in certain circumstances where the injuries are deemed to be of a “serious” or “significant” nature, as defined by the state, or in situations where medical expenses are in excess of a specific amount, such as $20,000.
Should a lawsuit be filed against you, any damages that you are required to pay to the injured person will be out of your own finances, since you would be without insurance. At this point you may have to contract the services of a lawyer, unless you want to provide your own defense. You will not be able to offer the defense that you are unable to pay the specified amount. A judgment will be entered against you, once you are found to be liable and deemed to be responsible for payment of the other driver’s damages.
What If I Live in a Tort State?
The majority of states do not follow the “no-fault” insurance system and are referred to as “tort” states. If you are the person who causes a car accident that results in injury to another person, in those states you can be sued for all the damages suffered by the person from the car accident. The costs could include lost wages, property damage, medical bills as well as any physical or mental pain and suffering.
In the absence of an automobile liability insurance policy, you will be held personally responsible for the payment of these damages to the injured person. This means that you will have be make payment out of your pocket. If the other driver is successful in obtaining a judgment against you after the case is tried, there are several options that they can pursue to ensure that they get some or all of the judgment due to them. This could include the garnishing of your wages. Get more information about Collecting a Judgment.
What If the Other Driver Caused the Car Accident?
If another driver is the cause of the accident and you suffer injury, what may be recoverable from the other driver might be restricted, if you did not have your own car insurance.
Many states have a rule referred to as “No Pay, No Play.” The compensation due to you in these states for your injuries is limited, if you are not the holder of valid automobile insurance at the time the accident occurred. While being able to get reimbursement for your medical bills, you will not be able to recover “non-economic” damages such as compensation for any pain and suffering.
The rationale used for this rule is that you should not be able to claim the full benefits of another person’s insurance, if you have not secured the required auto insurance for yourself. The most recent list of “No Pay, No Play” states include the following:
New Jersey
North Dakota
Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance
If you do not possess valid insurance and are involved in a car accident, you may also be subject to criminal or administrative penalties. Fines in almost every state can amount to hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. The Department of Motor Vehicles also imposes penalties, that may include suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, which could extend for a period of a few months to one year.
Fort Lauderdale Car Accident – Most Common Injuries

Driving related injuries can be ruthless. When a car crashes, there is no telling which part of the human body can get injured. Injury could be anywhere from head to toe. Sometimes, injury can be internal too. Let’s have a look at the common car accident injuries.
Brain injuries
Goes without saying, brain injuries can be critical and long lasting. A severe blow to the head can actually damage the brain and cause an injury known as TBI. In mild cases, traumatic brain injury (TBI) can heal on its own within a matter of few weeks. However, patients with severe TBI can experience severe damage to critical functions such as eyesight, memory, concentration, speech and emotional control.
Injury to the eye during a crash can cause temporary or permanent blindness. Some people end up with partial blindness. Likewise, injury to the ear can result in complete loss of hearing. Loss of teeth, jaw fractures and ugly facial marks are some of the other injuries that one can experience during a car accident.
Back and neck injuries
One of the most commonly experienced injuries to the neck and back during a car crash is Whiplash. It’s generally caused due to high impact on the neck and back. The neck stretches and quickly regains its original position. Since this happens at a high impact at the time of the car crash, it leads to Whiplash. This injury can damage several vital body organs such as ligaments, vertebrae and the spinal cord itself. In some cases, the car crash victim can end up being paralyzed. Neck and back injuries can be extremely painful even if you do not suffer from Whiplash. In worst case scenario, a broken neck during an accident can cause death.
Chest injuries
Difficulty in breathing or pain that starts almost immediately after a car wreck may suggest that internal chest organs such as heart, lungs or blood vessels may have got damaged. A forceful blow on the chest during a severe car accident can lead to broken ribs, particularly without a seat belt in place at the time of driving. While airbags can come to the rescue, minor fractures and injuries can still take place. A rupture or muscle tear around the rib cage can occur due to the blunt impact. A blow to the back of the chest can lead to injured kidneys.
Abdominal and Pelvis injuries
Injuries to abdominal and pelvis is common during motor vehicle accidents. The kidneys and livers are more prone to injuries during front and side impact. Injuries to these crucial body organs can be severe.
Knee and leg injuries
A car smash can cause great degree of pain on the knees and legs. From minor wounds to major fractures, the impact of the crash and body positioning at the time of the car crash determines the severity of the injury. Knees if abruptly twisted are prone to tear that can take a long time to heel.
Foot injuries
Ankles, toes and feet can get fractured during a car accident. In some cases, they may get sprained. Foot injuries are common with two wheeler vehicles. On an obvious level, a person seated closer to the point of impact is likely to get injured more.
It goes without saying, a major accident can have devastating effects on your life. You can end up with a huge pile of medical bills. Not to forget the fact that you won’t be able to work during the healing period. While you can take help from top personal injury lawyers fort Lauderdale to win over a car crash feud, the emotional effects of a car accident can be extremely difficult to bear.

PI Law —234 Texas

Auto Accident Attorney

Auto Accident Attorney
Life can take you to many interesting, beautiful and scary places; especially when it comes to traveling the open road. Since the early twentieth century driving grown to become the main source of commuting whether it is your daily work commute or voyaging across the country. No matter how many precautions a driver may take there are always inherent risks when operating a vehicle; especially when traveling long distances. When it comes to auto and truck accident statistics if you get into a vehicle you run a relatively high risk of being involved in an accident. Some accidents are relatively harmless both to the people involved and to the vehicles and this is extremely lucky compared to the fate suffered by many others. Some accidents however, are extremely tragic and have many consequences involving hospital bills, insurance rejection, legal suits, and even worse.
If you should find yourself in legal trouble after a car accident you should look into the services of a good auto accident lawyer; especially in the event of a personal injury lawsuit. It can be scary for anyone going through a major car accident; luckily if you should find yourself in need of legal advice you can call an auto accident attorney at the office of Attorney James Sexton. They are an auto lawyer office that will truly understand what your needs will be and will help ease the stress that an auto accident lawsuit will bring.
Accidents Happen. Contact An Auto Accident Attorney
Trucking is the lead source in transportation of goods and material across the nation; traffic is heavy with semi-trucks loaded with goods. Drivers work day and night to get their load delivered safely and promptly. Whether you work for yourself or are employed by a company; life as a professional truck driver runs inherent risks. When you take on the responsibility of operating such a major piece of equipment you may find yourself involved in an accident. Most companies carry great insurance plans that will help cover damages if there is another vehicle involved; but in the unfortunate of personal injury you and your employer may face some legal situations you were not expecting. If you find yourself in a legal bind because of a truck accident you run the risk of losing your own business or if you are employed by an outside company your employer could lose money or even worse. You need to have the security and solid advice of a trusted truck accident lawyer; luckily you have the unwavering support of auto accident attorney James Sexton and his associates. When it comes to accident attorneys in the Chula Vista area the law firm of James Sexton is matched by no others. Your case will be taken care of as quickly and efficiently as possible and you will have a professional, caring, trusting experience. Not only does their office serve those involved in truck accidents but they are also one of the best automobile accident attorneys in the area. As your appointed automobile accident attorney you will be allowed to recover while the professionals at James Sexton’s law firm deal with the badgering insurance companies, auto accident attorney, hospital bills and other complicated paperwork involved in your case.
Leading Auto Accident Attorney
Automobile accidents are more likely to occur simply due to the fact that people drive automobiles for their daily commutes across town as well as for major road trips across the country. Finding a trusted, caring automobile accident lawyer can be difficult if you should find yourself involved in an accident; which is unfortunately somewhat likely. Cars are a large percentage of the traffic on the road and unfortunately as a result there are fatal car accidents that take place every day. The best a person can do is drive within road conditions, be aware of other drivers and pay attention to road signs. Having good insurance is a precaution you should also take in case of the event of an accident; if you find yourself in legal trouble due to personal injury or other damage you will need to seek the advice of an auto injury attorney. James Sexton has had over twenty years of professional experience as a leading car accident lawyer; he and his associates are there to assist you through this stressful time. They understand that legal disputes are very stressful and affect your daily life; auto accident attorney James Sexton will work tirelessly to ensure your legal security. As one of the leading auto accident attorneys in the area the best choice is obvious. James Sexton will be on your side when it can feel like nobody else is, he will fight for your case no matter what the cost.
Whether you are driving a loaded semi-truck across the country, on your work commute across town, or your are on your way to the grocery store down the street, you run the risk of being in an accident. Just know that an auto accident attorney at the offices of James Sexton will be there if you need them. They are the leading auto injury lawyer office in the surrounding area not only due to their experience but the fact that they care about their clients. They will take the time necessary to fully understand your case and what you need from your attorney. Not only do they care for your case but the people that work with auto accident attorney James Sexton understand that outside of their office you have a life that you just want to get back to normal. They will be there to take your side and provide the legal support you need no matter what.

Each year there are more than 7 million car crashes and auto accidents that occur in the United States. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that nearly 300,000 Americans suffer incapacitating injuries every year as a result of car crashes or auto accidents. It is estimated that nearly 43,000 people die on the nation’s roadways each year. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration has indicated that most car accidents could have been avoided, but for the negligence of the faulting driver. Current auto accident statistics show that crashes occurr when 81% of drivers were talking, 49% were eating or drinking and 25% used a mobile phone while driving.

In Texas, an injured person is entitled to damages for auto accident injuries resulting from the negligence of the other driver or the driver at fault. A person injured in an auto or car accident is also entitled to claim for additional damages including lost wages, lost income potential, pand and suffering, mental anguish, and other related injury damage claim.

Our Texas injury lawyers can help injured victims and families process claims related to an auto accident. Each accident has a unique set of facts, and so results for each case may vary. Contact one of our Texas auto accident attorneys today for a free no obligation legal consultation to assess your auto accident claim. Call us at 1-877-414-9817 or at 1-877-905-4882.

Austin Area Auto Accident Lawyers – Travis & Williamson County Area Auto Accidents

Some auto accidents, such as fender benders and minor incidents in which no one is injured can usually be sorted out through the insurance companies of the parties involved. However, when there are injuries or even deaths which result from an auto accident then hiring an attorney will become necessary. In addition, there are a lot of other circumstances which would require legal representation. For example, a police report that does not accurately depict fault in the auto accident would be an issue for a lawyer to handle.

There are also other situations in which you should contact an attorney immediately after an auto accident. If anyone at all has been hurt, even slightly, there may be a need for compensation. The severity of injuries is not always evident right away. Many people suffer from chronic neck or back problems as a result of auto accidents. If those people do not file a legal claim for compensation within the time constraints permitted by law then they will be left holding the bag, so to speak. Medical bills are not cheap by any stretch.

If there have been multiple cars involved or pedestrians then seeking legal representation is even more important as you must also protect yourself from any suit that may be brought against you, especially in auto accidents in which you are deemed at fault.

Insurance issues, either lack of or low liability limits can also cause problems for anyone who has been involved in an auto accident. If you have recently been involved in any type of auto accident that you feel you need legal advice on then do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call us at the Lorenzana law firm. We handle auto accident cases every day and have the expertise to help you determine what your options are, depending on your situation. Call 1-877-414-9817 or

1-877 -905-4882
to set up an appointment with one of our auto accident attorneys.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Austin TX
Personal Injury is a term often heard in the legal profession. It is typically used to describe an injury which was obtained through no fault of the victim in the case. Personal injury can occur at the work place, at a department store, in the home of a friend or relative, or as a result of an auto accident. One of the biggest mistakes people who have been injured in accidents make is failing to contact an attorney at the time of their injury.
In some situations, victims of personal injury cases do not even bother filing police reports or accident reports. If you or someone you know has been injured in some sort of accident, it is important to seek legal representation immediately. Even if the injury may not seem very severe at the time, there is always the possibility of recurring or lasting consequences from what could seem like a very slight injury.
At the Lorenzana law firm, we take personal injury cases very seriously and will do everything in our power to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. There will more than likely be medical bills, losses of wages and a number of other financial hardships as a result of your injury and there is no reason you should have to face these things alone.
With a competent team of lawyers on your side, you will have peace of mind in knowing that someone is out there working for you. If any type of negligence or carelessness can be proven then you could be entitled to monetary compensation for your pain and suffering. The amount of compensation will vary depending on the severity of the injury.
If you are like most people then this is not something you have had to deal with before. There is no reason for you to take on the weight of the situation without someone to represent you and file your claim.
Contact us at
1-877 -905-4882
to schedule your consultation. The sooner we begin working on your case, the sooner you will get resolution to your situation.
Texas Aviation Accident Attorneys
Aviation accidents or airplane crashes are few. However, the majority of aviation accidents are generally caused by pilot error or pilot negligence. Frequently, aviation accidents are caused by a number of factors or a combination of factors, whether pilot error coupled with weather related, which represents accidents in which pilot error was the cause but brought about by weather related phenomena; or pilot error but mechanical related, which represents accidents in which pilot error was the cause but brought about by some type of other mechanical failure; and other human error, which includes air traffic controller errors, improper loading of aircraft, fuel contamination and improper maintenance procedures. However, other plane crashes have been linked solely to airplane mechanical failures or structural failures.

Aviation accidents are some of the more complex accident cases to handle. Aviation cases are among the most time and resource intensive cases to litigate. The resulting wreckage of a mass commercial airplane impact or even a small plan crash will usually obscure the cause of the plane crash. Airplane crash litigation and airplane accident reconstruction requires meticulous investigation and interrogation of all the elements that could possibly provide insight into what went wrong or the party liable. These elements include the crash scene, witnesses, airplane manufacturers, airplane designers, airplane parts suppliers, airplane maintenance records and crews, and airplane industry experts.

Airplane crash survivors and or families of airplane crash victims are entitled to damages from personal injuries and wrongful death as a result of the negligence or error of the pilot or airplane manufacturer or other liable party.
Texas Aviation Accident Lawyers
While it is true that flying is still statistically considered the safest mode of transportation, plane and helicopter crashes do happen. In addition, aviation accidents are not only limited to crashes but injuries can also occur from things like severe turbulence. Unfortunately, more times than not it seems that aviation accidents result in very serious to fatal injuries and there are a plethora of things that could be responsible. Everything from faulty equipment, failure to properly warn pilots of questionable weather conditions and a number of other things could result in aviation accidents.
Some aviation accidents occur during work related tasks while others happen during commercial flights. No matter what type of aviation accident you or a loved one has been involved in, you are entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, whether it is physical, mental or emotional, or even a combination of the three. There are almost never aviation accidents in which someone cannot be held accountable in some way.
At Lorenzana law firm, we believe in going the extra mile to help you get the highest possible compensation. Whether it is you who has been injured or that you are grieving due to the loss of someone dear to you, we will enlist the assistance of aviation experts and other field experts to help you find out who or what was really responsible for the accident. We will then help you to take legal action. To find out more about what we can offer you in terms of legal representation in aviation accidents call us
and schedule a consultation with one of our aviation accident attorneys
Texas Brain & Head Injury Attorneys
Injuries to the brain usually result from traumatic head injuries. TBI or traumatic brain injury is an injury resulting from a head injury. A brain injury may be focal and confined to a small area of the brain, or diffuse that is affecting a large area of the brain. An impact force or hit to a person’s head can cause or lead to a brain injury. Head injuries can happen in various ways, either causing the brain to move within the skull (as with injuries such as the “shaken infant syndrome”), or breaking the skull and hurting the brain upon contact. Falls among the elder and infants are the leading cause of brain injuries. Infants, however are easily susceptible to obtain a brain injury from being shaken violently.

Our Texas brain injury lawyers can assess your case to determine whether you or your family have a valid legal claim for damages resulting from traumatic brain injuries. Contact one of our Texas head and brain injury attorneys today at 1-877-905-4882 or at 1-877-414-9817.
Texas Brain & Head Injury Claim Lawyers
Because head trauma can be so debilitating and severe, brain &head injury claims are perhaps some of the easiest to win compensation for. Brain injuries can range from a slight concussion to serious brain damage as a result of an accident or even an intentional assault. No matter how slight a head injury may seem, there is always the possibility of long term medical issues as a result.
A concussion is the most common form of head injury and occurs when the brain is shaken due to a fall or blow to the head. Most people dismiss slight concussions once they heal, thinking nothing more of them. However, a concussion can have lasting effects and can cause underlying brain injury.
Anytime an injury to the head takes place, the first thing to do is seek medical attention and then the very next thing to do is contact an attorney. Too many people ignore head injuries as they just do not seem very serious, only to find out years down the road that there is permanent damage which cannot be corrected.
An injury to the brain can cause loss of vision, hearing or even the ability to speak. If you or someone you love has suffered a brain or head injury, you may be able to seek compensation if proof can be furnished that someone was responsible in some way shape or form.
The Texas injury lawyers at Lorenzana law firm understand how serious brain & head injury claims are and we will work for you to get you the compensation you deserve. There is never any reason a person should have to endure a serious brain injury or watch a loved one suffer without being compensated.
Texas Bus Accident Attorney
No one really thinks about bus accidents, maybe it is because they aren’t something we hear about every day. However, they do happen more than one might think. In some cases the accidents seem minor, causing only a few cuts and bruises.
In other cases the accidents are much more severe, causing serious injury or even death. No matter how minor the accident may seem at the time, it is always best to receive medical attention as some injuries do not present themselves right away. In addition, seeking legal counsel at the time of the accident or shortly thereafter is also a very good suggestion.
While you may not notice an injury right away, it does not mean that you do not have one. If something is to develop much later down the road as a result of the bus accident you were involved in, you may find yourself in a very bad position if you have not done everything in your power to make sure that you are covered.
Not only does the bus company carry insurance for personal injury but if the accident is caused by another party then that party’s insurance company could be held responsible for your medical bills and compensation for any type of loss of income you may experience as a result of the bus accident. In cases where injuries are more serious or even fatal, good legal representation is even that much more important.
At Lorenzana Law firm we have years of experience in serving victims of bus accidents and other tragedies. If you are looking for a law firm that can get the job done quickly and efficiently, do not hesitate to contact us at 1-877-905-4882 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. We can help you sort through all of your insurance claims and help see you through the necessary steps in filing a claim against the party responsible for your pain and suffering.
Texas Child Day Care Accidents and Abuse Claims – Texas Injury Lawyers
Leaving your child in the care of another person or organization is frightening, and rightly so. Accidents in day care centers happen every day. Sometimes the accidents are truly unavoidable and other times they are due to negligence on the care taker’s part. Unfortunately, there are also unspeakable and horrific acts of child abuse that occur at day care centers.
Child day care accidents and abuse claims are not uncommon. Sadly, they are a very real part of the world we live in. When something happens to your child it is truly devastating and it can leave you feeling powerless and completely helpless. While nothing anyone can do will undo the damage that has been done to your child, physically, mentally or emotionally, you can at least take comfort in the fact that someone is going to be held culpable for the harm that has been done.
There are many emotions that parents of children who have been injured or abused while at a day care center go through. The most common is anger, followed by guilt for having left your child there. Fortunately, this is not something that you need to go through alone. Lorenzana law firm has attorneys who are more than capable of helping you get the compensation you and your child deserve.
Whether there are criminal charges being filed or not, you are still entitled to file a civil suit against the agency that employed the individual who was responsible for harming or neglecting your child. To find out more about your legal rights in the situation, under Texas law, call us today at
and make an appointment to come in and discuss your case. While it is hard to make decisions and think about the future at a time like this, it is always better to have legal representation on your side.
Texas Construction Accident Attorney
Construction accidents can happen for a multitude of reasons and the causes can be so broad that it is important to pay attention to all of the details surrounding your accident. Things like faulty equipment, poor safety standards and a number of other things can be responsible for construction accidents. This is why there are several steps that should be taken in the event of an accident that occurs on a construction site.
If you are the injured party and you are able, be sure to take names of any and all possible witnesses, have plenty of photographs taken of the accident site and of course seek immediate medical attention. Once those first crucial steps have been taken then you must begin looking at the legal aspect of your situation. Construction accidents can range from very serious to quite minor but whatever the case, an attorney is the only person qualified to tell you what your rights are under Texas law.
At Lorenzana law firm we handle construction accident cases all the time. We have years of experience in getting to the bottom of the situation and nailing down the party responsible for your pain and suffering. If you are looking for an aggressive law firm that is going to work double time to be sure you receive all the compensation due to you as a result of a construction accident then call us today at
and set up an appointment to come in and discuss your many options.
If you are the loved one of a person who has lost their life as the result of a construction accident, our attorneys will make you and your case a top priority. There is never a reason to neglect seeking legal advice and/or representation in situations involving construction accidents. After all, the consequences can be devastating for everyone involved.
Texas Dog Bite Injury Claims Attorney
Texas is one of the few states that still follow the old “one bite rule.” Essentially, this means that a dog owner may not be held liable for a first time dog bite injury, provided he/she had no prior knowledge or reason to believe his/her dog was dangerous at the time of the dog bite. However, there are very strict guidelines to this rule and that is why many dog bite injury claims are won each day.
First of all, if any proof at all, no matter how minor can be furnished that the dog in question posed a risk then there may in fact be a case. Secondly, the owner is responsible for properly containing his/her dog at all times. What this means is that a loose dog roaming the neighborhood that mauls a child may not be protected under the “one bite rule.” While it seems complicated and confusing, the truth of the matter is that it is pretty simple.
If an owner has done something or failed to do something for that matter and as a result a person was bitten by his/her dog, then compensation may be sought. Just as there are rules protecting dogs and their owners, there are most certainly rules protecting dog bite victims as well.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a dog bite incident and you feel there may have been cause to believe the dog was previously known to be dangerous then file a dog bite injury claim right away. If you are unsure as to whether or not you do have a case then the best thing to do is contact us at
to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. You have no way of knowing what your legal rights are in any matter without a competent attorney going over the facts of your case.
Texas Drunk Driving Injuries and Death Claims Attorney
Despite the fact that Texas is getting much tougher on people who drink and drive, unfortunately, too many people still get behind the wheel after having had too much to drink. Unfortunately, these people put others at a dire risk by engaging in this activity. Each and every year thousands of people are killed as a result of a drunken driving accident.
If you have been seriously injured or have suffered the loss of a family member or loved one as the result of a drunk driving accident then you should know what your rights are in terms of filing drunk driving injuries and death claims. You will need a good attorney at your side to help you deal with insurance companies and lawyers from the opposing side. Beware that insurance companies will work hard to get you to settle for much less than what you deserve.
This is one reason that having a competent attorney at your side is going to be so important. The attorneys at Lorenzana law firm, Texas drunk driving injuries and death claims attorneys will help you seek not only monetary damages but also punitive damages in your case. We have the level of expertise needed to help gather all of the evidence and build a rock solid case on your behalf.
No one should ever have to suffer the pain of a serious injury or loss of a loved one because of a bad decision on the part of another human being. Drunk driving kills and we take these cases very seriously. If you are looking for a team of lawyers who are going to be by your side every step of the way and work toward getting you the justice you deserve then do not wait to call us at
to come in talk about your case with us. Let us take some of the weight off your shoulders and get you the compensation you deserve.
Texas Explosion Accident Lawyers
Explosion accidents are horrible occurrences which often result in injuries which are life altering or even fatal. Figuring out the cause of the explosion as well as who the responsible party/parties were can be a bit challenging. There are several things that could cause an explosion to happen in the home or at the work place.
For example, in the home, the explosion could have been caused by faulty gas lines, a leak or even a product or appliance that was poorly constructed. If an explosion happens at a factory or refinery there are any number of things that could cause this to occur. Code violations, poor safety procedures and human error are only a few things that may lead to an explosion.
The attorneys here at Lorenzana have handled a great deal of explosion cases and we have the experience to help victims and their families receive compensation as a result of loss of life or serious and debilitating injuries. No matter how severe the injuries are or whether or not they are life threatening, there are going to be a number of expenses involved. In tragic cases even funeral costs will be a consideration.
If you have been involved in an explosion that has caused you an injury or if you have lost a loved one due to an explosion, contact us at
to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys who specializes in these cases. We can help you to sort through the complicated mess that often ensues with explosion accidents and help you to make sense of the details and process you must go through in order to file your claim
Texas Hazardous Waste Accident & Injury Lawyers
One of the most heavily regulated and overseen business processes is that of hazardous and toxic waste. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has very specific requirements in terms of handling hazardous waste. There are a multitude of procedures and guidelines that must be followed in order to avoid injury or even death as a result of contamination.
Unfortunately, as with anything else, hazardous waste accidents & injuries do happen despite the many rules and regulations set forth. This is because people do not always follow the protocol they are given. Sadly, thousands of people become seriously ill, injured or die every year as a result of these types of accidents.
When a person is injured because of some kind of negligence on the part of a co-worker, supervisor or company, he/she has a legal right to file for compensation. If a person loses a loved one because of a hazardous waste accident then the need for compensation is that much greater. No matter how slight the injury may seem at the time, it is important to remember that illnesses such as certain types of cancer can develop later in life.
If you have been involved in an accident in which you were exposed to hazardous or toxic waste then contacting an attorney right away is your best bet. We at Lorenzana take these cases very seriously. You can contact us at
to schedule an appointment with our team of professional attorneys to find out what sort of compensation you may be entitled to and how strong of a case you may have.
When it comes to something as important as your health it is always better to err on the side of caution. You would not want something unfortunate popping up much later in life without being properly prepared.
Texas Insurance Claims Attorney
Insurance companies can be very difficult to deal with, especially in situations in which there was some kind of injury or fatalities involved. Basically, the higher the claim, the harder the insurance company is going to make getting your benefits paid. There are so many different forms to file and often investigations conducted. Rather than trying to deal with all of this on your own, it is best to hire an attorney to help you ensure that all of your legal rights are protected under Texas law. When a person takes out some sort of insurance policy there are often a lot of things written in fine print that could be confusing. Instead of trying to decipher all of that, why not call our team of expert attorneys at Lorenzana. We have dealt with numerous insurance claims and we will do everything within our power to be sure that you get your benefits in a timely manner.
Filing an insurance claim for something such as the death of a loved one can be a grueling process. This is one reason allowing a good attorney to handle this claim for you will make things much easier on you. Even if your claim is simple, such as one for loss of property due to a small house fire, you are bound to run into a number of issues during the claims process. Contact us here at Lorenzana by calling
. We can help you file your claim and get your insurance benefits expedited to you much faster than if you tried to undertake the issue on your own.
Insurance claims seem like they should be pretty straight forward and typically they are but in the event you find yourself experiencing difficulties, we can help. Call us today!
Texas Manufacturing Accident Lawyers
Each year there are literally thousands of machinists and manufacturing workers who are injured while performing their duties due to improper safety training, poorly maintained equipment, improper warning labels and a number of other mishaps.
If you have been one of these unfortunate individuals who were injured at your place of employment because of some type of negligence, you may be eligible to file a claim for lost wages and medical bills. If there is a third party who is proven liable for your injuries then you might be entitled to even more compensation for your pain and suffering.
In situations in which loved ones have lost their lives due to manufacturing accidents, compensation can be awarded for wrongful death and a number of other things. A good example of a third party may be the company that built the piece of machinery which failed, causing the accident to happen, a contractor who failed to train his employees properly or even a foreman who was negligent in his supervisory duties.
Lorenzana law firm has a list of prominent and well educated attorneys who are experienced in manufacturing accidents claims. Whether you were injured because of an explosion at a manufacturing plant or because of a piece of heavy machinery failing, we can help you to seek compensation for your injuries.
When you incur a serious work related injury, you are bound to miss weeks or even months of work as a result. If you are the sole provider for your household this can be absolutely devastating. The good news is with a team of excellent attorneys on your side, there is no reason for you to go through this on your own or to find yourself buried in debt.
Call us today at
and allow us to offer you legal advice on the best course of action in filing your claim.
===================Texas Maritime Accident Attorneys
If you or someone you love has suffered a serious injury or lost his/her life as a result of some kind of offshore accident, be sure to seek legal advice from an experienced maritime attorney right away. In fact, it is even suggested that you seek legal advice before speaking with anyone at the place of employment including an insurance agent. If the accident occurred on a drilling rig, barge, fishing boat, tanker, offshore drilling platform or ship of any kind then you may be able to receive compensation under the Jones Act which is a federal law that was put in place for maritime workers.
The first thing you should know if you or someone you love has been injured in a maritime accident is that an accident report should be filed as soon as possible after the injury has taken place. If for some reason the employer should ask for any type of paper work to be signed, always refuse until you have a qualified attorney present. If anyone should ask you to give a statement and allow yourself to be recorded, decline unless your legal counsel is present.
Never under any circumstances consider the word of the company doctor sufficient in regards to the injuries you have sustained. Make sure and seek a second opinion from a doctor who has been chosen by you. At Lorenzana law firm we have a list of qualified maritime accidents attorneys who will be more than happy to advise you on your rights in terms of seeking out compensation. For more information on the Jones Act and what it might mean for you and your family, contact us at
Texas Medical Malpractice Claims Attorney
Medical malpractice is a very broad term that is basically used to describe a mistake made in the medical profession. Anytime a health care worker of any kind makes an error that causes harm or death to a patient, this is when medical malpractice claims usually take place. Proving medical malpractice is typically the most challenging part which is why it is important to have a very good team of lawyers on your side.
Hospitals and doctor’s offices will go to many lengths to be sure they are not found guilty of medical malpractice. They have in house attorneys who do nothing but defend them against these types of claims. For this reason you want to be sure that you have attorneys who are well experienced when it comes to filing and winning medical malpractice cases. If you or someone you love has been injured or has died as a result of an error made in the emergency room, operating room or when being prescribed the wrong medications, you have a very good chance of being compensated through a medical malpractice claim.
At Lorenzana law firm, we fight and win medical malpractice suits all the time. We use only the best medical experts to help prove your case beyond a shadow of a doubt and we prepare you for what you will endure when and if you are placed on the witness stand. Medical malpractice claims and litigation can be a very tough business. As mentioned earlier healthcare professionals have a lot to lose by being found guilty of medical malpractice. In some cases criminal negligence charges can even be filed on medical professionals who are proven guilty of making a mistake that cost a person his or her life.
If you or one of your loved ones have been the victim of what you believe to be medical malpractice, do not wait to contact us at
to set up an initial consultation with one of our medical malpractice claims attorneys.
Texas Military Accident Claims Attorney
When a member of the armed forces is injured in some kind of an accident it is a very difficult time for everyone involved. Not only is there the physical discomfort that goes with being hurt but there is also the mental stress that comes as a result of worrying over future matters.
Military accident claims are very sensitive as many times filing one involves filing a claim against a sect of the government. The truth of the matter is, depending on the exact set of circumstances surrounding the injury and where it took place; there could be a number of different parties that might be held responsible for the injury.
It is always important to remember that most accidents do have a cause. While it is true that sometimes we cause our own accidents as a result of being overtired or distracted, there are many situations in which some kind of negligence is to blame. These are the cases that require legal representation. It is a mistake to believe that just being a member of the military automatically means you will be cared for if you are injured.
This may be true to some extent if a soldier is hurt in the line of duty but off duty accidents are not held with the same regard, in most cases. It is vital when a member of the military is injured in an accident, whether on base or off to pay attention to every detail. Take photographs and document everything.
Seek medical attention right away no matter how minor the injury may seem at first. If you want a team of lawyers who have experience dealing with military accident claims then call us today at
and let us help you file your claim.
Texas Motor Cycle Accident Lawyers
No matter how you slice it, riding a motorcycle always poses a greater risk than driving in a car. This may not be what motorcycle enthusiasts want to believe but these are just the facts based on real statistics. However, this does not mean that people who are injured in motorcycle accidents are any less entitled to compensation as any other motorists. In fact, at least 5 in 10 motorcycle accidents are caused by another driver and not by the rider him/herself.
If you or someone you care for has been injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another driver then you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation for damages, not only for medical bills but also for pain and suffering, loss of wages and possibly even punitive damages. For example, if the motorcycle accident was caused by a drunk driver then not only can you file a claim but there will also more than likely be criminal charges filed against that driver.
The best thing to do is gather as many facts as possible at the time of the accident. If it is at all possible take photographs of the accident scene. Document witness names and telephone numbers, this may come in handy in the future. If the police report does not specify which driver was at fault and the matter is unclear, an attorney can help you file your claim and prove which party was actually responsible for the accident. This is where your witness list will come in handy, as well.
If you are looking for an excellent team of attorneys to help you file your motorcycle accidents claim then Lorenzana law firm is a great choice. We have had years of experience in dealing with all sorts of personal injury and wrongful death suits. You can contact us to set up a consultation at
. We will use our skills as professionals to help your claim filed quickly and get your compensation as swiftly as possible.
Texas Municipal Liability Claims Attorney
Every day we deal with some form of municipality. There are many sects of government agencies and they all work to keep things in our society running smoothly. They build all of our roads, maintain them, keep our parks nice, teach our children and offer a number of other services which help our society to flourish. However, this does not mean that there are never situations in which one of these agencies becomes responsible for some type of injury caused by human error or negligence. For example, a motorist is broadsided by a city water truck. In situations such as this, municipal liability claims will need to be filed.
There are special circumstances and regulations when it comes to litigating municipal liability claims and for this reason a team of attorneys with a good deal of experience in filing these claims is a necessary commodity. We at the Lorenzana law firm understand how delicate situations in which suit is being brought against a government agency works. There are many laws regarding this type of litigation and it takes a lawyer who really knows his/her stuff to get this type of claim filed and compensation won.
Another example of municipal liabilities claims are those that involve police brutality or wrongful death as a result of a harmful or negligent act on the part of a police officer or prison guard. These are cases that occur every day. It is not uncommon for cases like this to drag out for very long periods of time because of the complexity involved. We strongly believe in our ability to get municipal liabilities cases settled as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
If you are interested in sitting down to have a conversation with one of our expert attorneys on a matter in which you feel you may have a case against a government agency then call us today at
and set up an appointment.
Texas Nursing Home Negligence Claims Attorney
The numbers of nursing home negligence claims seen on a regular basis are absolutely staggering. It is truly unbelievable the things that happen to the elderly while they are supposedly being cared for by qualified health professionals. In some cases elderly people are beaten, left to lie in their own waste or even worse sexually molested. This is intolerable and when it happens it is simply devastating to the families of these helpless individuals. While nothing will be able to take the pain away from the victims of nursing home negligence and abuse, seeking compensation will at least hold someone responsible for their actions.
Not only do actual abuse cases happen but there are some staff members who are employed in nursing homes who simply do not care what happens to the people in their care. These people should be held culpable for any and all actions that may lead to injury, harm or even death. Sometimes criminal negligence charges are filed in extreme cases.
No matter what the issue or how mild or severe the negligence is, it is the duty of the family member to file suit against the responsible parties. This is where the experts at the Lorenzana law firm come in. We have handled hundreds of nursing home negligence cases and we know just how to deal with these particular cases.
If your loved one has fallen victim to undesirable and neglectful circumstances, do not wait to take action. The first thing you should do is document everything that has occurred during his/her stay in the nursing home. The next thing to do, and this goes without saying, is removed your elderly loved one from that facility immediately. Finally, call us at
and schedule a consultation to come in and speak to one of our highly qualified attorneys about the best way to go about filing your claim.
Texas Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
Pedestrians always have the right of way, this is a given and a law in just about, if not all states in the US. This is one reason that pedestrian accidents claims are so commonly won. If a person is walking across the street and he/she is hit by a car then typically the blame falls on the driver of the car, not the pedestrian. While there are some unfortunate circumstances in which an intoxicated person or perhaps even a mentally ill person may step off the curb offering very little time for the driver to act, this is not usually the case.
Today things like texting and social networking while driving a car are responsible for a number of pedestrian accidents. In these cases the drivers are without a doubt 100% wrong and should be held responsible for the accident. Unfortunately, there are some instances that occur with no witnesses and very little evidence to go on. These are the tough cases that require a competent group of attorneys to help sort out the issue and get to the bottom of what really occurred.
In addition, not all pedestrian accidents that happen even involve a car. Sometimes cases are municipal liability claims as a result of a manhole which has been left open, causing a pedestrian to fall in and become injured. There are many ways a pedestrian can be injured but one thing that most of these have in common is that there is almost always someone or some organization to blame for the accident.
If you know someone, either a loved one or if you yourself have been injured as a pedestrian then you have the right to seek compensation from the responsible party. You will need strong legal counsel and we at Lorenzana law firm can provide that. Contact us at
to discuss your possible case and to get advice on how to proceed. We will bring you in for an appointment and let you state your case to one of our qualified attorneys who deals regularly with pedestrian accidents.

Texas Personal Injury Claims Attorney
Personal injury claims are those which are filed after a person is injured in some type of accident or even malicious act by another individual. These cases must be proven and for this reason a few things are going to be necessary. The most important decision you make before filing personal injury claims is hiring the best possible law firm to represent you. Be sure that you have all of your documentation in order. Things like medical records, police reports, witness statements and anything else that may be relevant to your case should be kept organized and easily accessible.
Typically, well planned personal injury claims are quite easy to get settled. If you can prove that there was a third party or individual who was responsible for whatever injury you have incurred, then that person or organization becomes culpable. This means they must be held responsible for compensating you, not only for medical bills and things of that nature but in many cases for the level of suffering you have endured. Personal injury claims are quite common as they can result from any number of things. Whether you have had a slip and fall in your local grocery store or have been injured while performing your job duties, you may be eligible for compensation.
Our attorneys at Lorenzana law firm have been handling personal injury claims for many years. We have the qualifications and expertise to get your claim filed and settled as quickly as possible. We have many tools at our disposal such as expert witnesses and will extensively research every angle of your case to maximize the amount of compensation you receive, depending on your circumstances.
Contact us today at
to schedule a consultation with one of our personal injury claims attorneys. There is no reason you should have to suffer another day without getting the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.
Texas Pharmaceutical & Drug Claims Attorney
Over the past decade or so we have seen a number of pharmaceutical & drug claims surface. Some of these have been class action suits as a result of a large number of people developing undesirable side effects and illnesses as due to taking a specific drug. In other cases, the claims are limited to an individual who was prescribed a drug that was counter indicated with something else he/she was taking. In addition, there are even mistakes made every day in which a patient is given the wrong medication altogether! When this happens the consequences can be severe, even fatal in many cases.
When any of these things occur, or there is a situation that leads you to believe there may have been some sort of malpractice on the part of a pharmaceutical company or even your local pharmacy, you must take action. Not only are you going to be acting on your behalf but you will also be helping to insure that nothing like this happens to another person. Pharmaceutical & drug claims can be quite serious and they can certainly be complex matters. For this reason it is absolutely imperative that you have a good team of lawyers working on your claim.
The average person does not have anywhere near the type of resources at their disposal that pharmaceutical companies have. These giants typically have dozens of attorneys on call to handle pharmaceutical & drug claims which are brought against them. Without a reputable law firm, you might as well be prepared to lose your case. We at the Lorenzana law firm have extensive experience with individual pharmaceutical & drug claims as well as assisting in class action suits against drug makers and pharmaceutical companies. If you are looking for attorneys who know their business and will fight every step of the way to be sure you are compensated on your claim then contact us at
to come in and discuss the particulars of your case. We will shoot straight with you and let you know just what you are up against.
Texas Premises Liability Claims Attorney
Premises liability claims are typically filed as a result of someone being injured while on another person’s property. By law it is up to the property owner or tenant to be sure that conditions are safe on their premises before inviting one onto their property. One of the most popular problems seen in premises liability claims are slips and falls. This can be as a result of ice which has accumulated on the steps, uneven floorboards, or even because of something which has been left lying in a dangerous spot. In addition, other hazards such as faulty gas lines which end in an explosion or fire and a number of other things can happen while you are visiting the home or business of a person or organization.
There may be some situations that could be deemed truly accidental and no fault found. The only way to know if this is the case is to contact a good personal injury attorney and go over the facts and documentation of the case. For example, each state and jurisdiction has a different set of laws regarding premises liability claims. Without a lawyer who knows the law and can help you determine whether or not you have a strong case, you will be left guessing and not having a clue as to what your rights are.
Generally speaking, the law states that a person must be on the premises with the permission and knowledge of the property owner, such as in the case of an invitee or licensee, in order to file a claim. However, a person who has illegally trespassed on the property and incurred injuries may not have a case for compensation. With that being said there are also stipulations and exceptions even with trespassers. For instance, in situations in which the owner might have had previous knowledge that trespassers could easily enter their property, or who have had the occasion of trespassers more than once, there may be a chance for compensation.
Each case is different and that is why it is important to seek legal advice from a team of attorneys who deal with this sort of thing on a daily basis. We at the Lorenzana law firm believe that we are more than capable of handling any case involving premises liability claims. Call us today at
to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys if you or someone you loved have been hurt while on someone else’s property.
Texas Product Defect Lawyers
Product defects claims are very broad as there is such a wide variety of the products that could be defected, thereby causing injury. Product defect cases range from a child’s toy that has choking hazards to automobiles which explode for no apparent reason. Every year thousands of people are hurt or even killed as a result of product defects. Many of these products are recalled once the injuries and fatalities have been reported but this does nothing to compensate the victim in the case. In order to receive compensation for a defected product which has caused bodily harm, it will be necessary to file a claim.
Keep in mind that product defects are generally categorized in three ways, manufacturing defects, design defects and of course marketing defects. A manufacturing defect is something which happens during the process of assembling or building the product, a design defect is a mistake in the blue print or plans for the product that leads to injury, and a marketing defect is just as it sounds; the product was not labeled for use properly or not advertised correctly.
If any of the three scenarios mentioned above can be proven then a person who has suffered an injury as a result is eligible for compensation for his/her pain and suffering. In the case of a loved one losing his/her life as a result of product defects then wrongful death may be put on the table as well.
Never assume to know whether or not you have legal grounds to file a claim for product defects. Always seek sound legal advice and representation to be certain as to how strong of a case you may have. At Lorenzana law firm we believe in taking cases which we know to carry strength and we will honestly advise you on the best course of action. Call us at
and set up an appointment to come in and speak with one of our highly skilled and qualified attorneys if you have suffered an injury due to what you believe in a product defect.
Texas Railroad & Train Accident Attorney
When railroad & train accidents occur the results can be catastrophic, leading to extremely serious injury and in many cases even death. If you have been the victim of a railroad or train accident or someone you love has lost his/her life as a result, you should seek the legal advice of a Texas railroad & train accidents attorney such as the ones we have here at the Lorenzana law firm. There are many legalities and formalities involved in filing a claim against the federal railroad administration or even a train company such as Amtrak. Here at Lorenzana, we can help you sort through the corporate mess and help make your claim much stronger by gathering facts and evidence on your behalf.
Astoundingly, in the US there are well over six hundred railroads and literally several hundred thousand train tracks across the country. A very good portion of the railroad system is used for transporting cargo and freight. Many of these trains carry chemicals which are highly toxic and could cause massive damage if a derailment were to occur. Unfortunately, this is something that does happen, more frequently than one may realize.
Simply put, you do not have to be riding in a train or even employed by the railroad to incur serious or fatal injuries. In addition, there are numerous cases each year in which a car or truck is involved in a collision with a train. In some cases faulty warning lights or failure for safety arms to come down are to blame. The truth of the matter is there are so many possible causes for railroad & train accidents that it would be impossible to cover them all here.
The general idea is that if you have an injury or have lost a loved one because of anything that was caused by a railroad or train accident, then you more than likely have a good case in which to receive compensation for your pain and suffering. Contact us here at the Lorenzana law firm by calling
to set up an initial consultation.
Texas School Liability Claims Attorney
When we send our children off to school we should be able to have confidence in knowing that they will be kept safe from harm. Unfortunately, in today’s world that is not always the case. So many things can go wrong during just one school day that the possibilities are just staggering. This is why there are so many school liability claims filed each year, most of them for very good reason. A school which houses students has an obligatory duty to make sure that all areas are safe and regularly inspected at all times. If someone falls behind or neglects this duty, many things can happen as a result.
One example of a situation which may result in school liability claims is the presence of a harmful toxin such as asbestos. Another example would be a playground accident as a result of poorly maintained equipment. No matter whether the school has allowed a child to be released to an abductor or a child has slipped and fallen as a result of spilled milk, a case for school liability claims may be present.
Children are bound to have falls and get hurt, this can happen whether they are at home or in the care of a primary school. However, when something happens to a child during the school day, the ultimate responsibility falls on the school and this is not a matter that should be taken lightly. Schools should be held accountable for the safety of our children.
If you have a school aged child who has been injured, become ill or even died as a result of some sort of negligence or carelessness, you have the right to file a claim and seek monetary and possibly even punitive damages. Lorenzana law firm handles hundreds of school liability cases each year and we have the experience to help you file your claim and go through the entire court process. We understand how important your children are to you and will treat your case with the utmost sensitivity and care. Contact us at
today and schedule a free consultation to come in and sit down with one of our school liability attorneys.
Texas Slip and Fall Accident Attorney
Slip and fall accidents can occur at any time, at any place with of course, with absolutely no warning. In some cases the injuries obtained seem quite minor and in others there is severe head, neck or back trauma. Unless the slip and fall accident results in absolutely no injury at all it is always best to contact an attorney. The reason for this is because a small and seemingly harmless injury could become worse or have lasting negative effects. For example, you may feel just fine for the rest of that day or even that week but notice the onset of headaches, neck pains or other issues later down the road as a result of an injury that was undetected or untreated.
When a person has a slip and fall accident, a full medical work up should be done on that person no matter what the circumstances are and no matter how “fine” they feel. It cannot be emphasized enough how important this really is. If there is no record of medical attention being sought and no police report on file, it is very difficult to open a claim later. In cases where some sort of unknown or unpredicted injury does ensue, people who have no documentation have much weaker cases, if any at all.
Some people are too “nice” to file a report and make a claim, thinking they will be creating a hardship on a property or business owner. This is a very noble sentiment but when it comes right down to it, will that person or organization be as kind to you should you develop long terms problems later? If you do not seek compensation, you will not get it. It is just as simple as that.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a slip and fall accident, then do not wait to act. Seek medical attention for your injuries, no matter how slight and then seek legal representation. We have years of experience in handling slip and fall accidents at Lorenzana law firm and will be happy to sit down with you and discuss the details of your claim. Call us at
to set up a consultation with one of our slip and fall accident attorneys.
Texas SUV Rollover Accident Attorney
One of the most common accidents in SUVs are rollovers. This is mainly because of the way the vehicles are designed. At one point in time people believed that SUVs were extremely safe vehicles but that has changed a lot over the past decade or so. The problem with SUV rollover accidents is that they can occur as a result of even the slightest car accident. In fact, some of the reported SUV rollover accidents happened during what seemed to be normal driver maneuvers. Unfortunately, anytime a vehicle actually rolls over during an accident the result is almost always severe injury and in many cases death.
People who are involved in SUV rollover accidents usually become eligible to file a claim, whether the driver of the SUV was deemed at fault for the initial accident or not. This is because there is something known as a design defect in many SUVs. For this reason the manufacturer can be held liable for the SUV roller accident if it can be proven that a typical car would not have rolled in that particular situation.
Car accidents are traumatic and they take lives every day but when there is a death or major injury as a result of something that really should not have happened to begin with, it is even harder to deal with. The attorneys at the Lorenzana law firm know very well how common SUV rollover accidents are and they work on hundreds of these cases every year. Our attorneys are experts at uncovering the cause of the roll over and pin pointing where the blame lies. Through the use of expert witnesses and the documentation provided by the police and other witnesses, we can help you claim benefits for an injury which was caused to you or a loved one during an SUV rollover accident. Contact is right away at
and schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys who handle SUV rollover accidents frequently.
Texas Toxic Tort Claims Attorney
A toxic tort claim is just like any other personal injury claim except that it deals with injury, illness or death which has been caused by toxicity as a result of exposure to some kind of harmful chemical or substance. In some toxic tort claims there are many plaintiffs, as in class action law suits for a number of people who have been exposed to a chemical or substance. There are also individual toxic tort cases in which one person is bring suit against either a company or individual, depending on the circumstances.
A good example of toxic tort claims are those which are made as a result of exposure to asbestos. There are very strict guidelines and mandates about this carcinogenic substance which can lead to mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer. For years and years attorneys have been fighting class action suits as a result of asbestos.
However, this is not the only toxin known to cause problems and make people sick. Environmental toxins, poisonous gasses and a number of other things can severely injure people. There have been many toxic tort claims made by factory workers who were being exposed to radon gas and other toxic chemicals and became sick as a result.
If you or one of your loved ones has developed cancer or another life threatening disease as a result of being exposed to something proven to be toxic, or if you or a loved one has suffered other injury such as burns or skin disease, contact an attorney right away who specializes in toxic tort claims.
Our attorneys here at the Lorenzana law firm handle these cases on a daily basis and can give you the best possible advice. You are going to want compensation for your injuries, illness, loss of wages or even the loss of a loved one. In addition, if you’ve developed a life threatening disease you will surely need monetary damages awarded you so that you may support yourself and your family during your illness and in the event of your death.
Call us at
to schedule an appointment to come in and talk to one of our toxic tort claims attorneys. If you are not sure whether you have a case or not, that is the best time to call as we can help you figure that out.
Texas Truck Accident Attorney
If you have been injured as a result of being involved in an accident with a big truck in the State of Texas, the first thing you should do is to find a good attorney. Keep in mind that whether or not you feel you are at fault, it is required that you contact your insurance company within a certain amount of time and if you feel that you are not at fault, an attorney can best advise you how to make a claim.
Truck accidents in Texas often are the result of the truck driver being tired behind the wheel. Those big rigs are on the roads for hours at a time and the driver may have a deadline for getting his or her load to its location within a certain timeframe. This focus on deadlines also causes many of those drivers to be overly aggressive on the roadways and drive at speeds over the legal limit. Some drivers pay no attention to road conditions due to inclement weather and believe it or not, there are a number of drivers who drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Also, bear in mind that a ticket does not need to be issued before one or the other driver is found to be at fault. Many truck accidents result in neither driver being issued a citation by the law enforcement officer who arrives on scene. In fact, the officer arriving on the scene can only issue a traffic citation but cannot ascribe fault. Insurance companies are not bound by law to assign fault on the word of the law enforcement official which often results in disputes being brought to court.
In a case where neither driver was issued a citation, it is all the more important that you call an attorney as soon as you are able. If you are hospitalized, have a relative assist you with the call. The Lorenzana Law Firm is expert in handling insurance claims involving trucks of any size in Texas. After a consultation we can better help you understand your rights as a claimant. The sooner you contact us the better because you can be assured a commercial 18 wheeler will have representation on the job within hours of the accident.
Don’t speak with anyone buy your attorney because what you say can have bearing on the outcome of your claim. This is one of the first things we may advise you if we feel you have a claim and have agreed to be represented by our team of expert accident attorneys. Schedule your consultation by calling
at your earliest convenience. But remember; until you’ve spoken with us graciously refuse to speak with the truck driver’s insurance company or attorney. The outcome of your claim may depend on this.

Texas Vehicular Accident Attorney
Vehicular accidents in Texas often involve injuries sustained in one or both vehicles. In fact, sometimes there are multiple vehicles involved which makes filing a claim much more difficult. If you have sustained injuries as the result of an accident in Texas, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney at your earliest opportunity.
One of the things which many drivers don’t understand is the fact that being found at fault isn’t always cut and dry. In fact, there are times when fault is assigned in percentages which makes it all the more difficult to collect on a claim, especially where injuries are involved. However, The Lorenzana Law Firm has handled countless cases where fault was not readily apparent and through negotiations and/or litigation won settlements for our clients.
For example, you may have been driving the vehicle that actually collided with another. This doesn’t mean you are necessarily at fault, especially if the other driver was acting negligently or simply not following the rules of the road. Especially in a case like this you will most likely need good representation and all the more so if you received a citation for the accident! There are times when both drivers are ticketed and it will take a good attorney to battle it out on your behalf.
Most insurance companies require you to report an accident within a certain timeframe which is why it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney first if at all possible. Whether or not you are at fault, your insurance policy requires you to report any and all accidents to them. However, you do not need to speak with the other insurance company until you have spoken to your lawyer. In fact, it is best not to.
For expert advice and legal representation involving vehicular accidents in the State of Texas, call The Lorenzana Law firm on
to schedule a consultation. Our team of attorneys are experts in Texas tort law involving vehicular accidents. Whether your claim is settled out of court or will require litigation in court, our team is there to get you the settlement you deserve.
Texas Workplace Injury Accident Attorney
Just about every one receives the handbook about what the protocol is when a work place accident occurs. In some cases there are even liability waivers that are handed out and required to sign. However, if you have been injured at your place of employment, even if a waiver was signed, there are several things to keep in mind. First, there are often extenuating circumstances or loopholes as we like to call them in the legal profession.
Your case may not be cut and dry and you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Then of course there are accidents that occur purely as a result of negligence on the part of a supervisor or fellow employee. Faulty equipment and a number of other hazards often found on the job could also be to blame for your accident.
Some people are so frightened of making waves and possibly losing their job that they never file a claim against their employer. This is foolish on many levels. First of all, you cannot be dismissed from your job due to an accident claim; secondly, if there are injuries that will require you to miss work for a long period of time then you will experience a loss of wages. Your job may or may not have sick pay.
There are so many different things which could go wrong as a result of a work place injury that it is just best to allow an attorney to look at your case. Even if you feel the accident was your own fault, you may be entitled to compensation.
Without an attorney to review your case, you will have no way of knowing what you may be looking at. Work place accidents are common place and too many times people allow them to slide by without taking legal action. Imagine how much easier life will be if you are able to receive compensation for your time lost at work as well as for any medical bills which you have incurred as a result.
Call the Texas injury attorneys at Lorenzana law firm today at
, to schedule a consultation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Texas Wrongful Death Claims Attorney
Wrongful death claims are claims that are filed on behalf of a loved one who has lost his/her life as a result of someone else’s negligence or criminal act. The state of Texas has ranked the highest for occupational death claims over the past decade or so. These statistics were released by the US Bureau of Labor. In addition, Texas has ranked first or second over the past seven years in fatal car accidents, many of which have been caused by drunk driving. Because of this it stands to reason that Texas is also at the top of the list for the amount of wrongful death claims filed in the state.
We at the Lorenzana law firm take on a lot of these cases every year. We know how difficult it is for a family member who has just lost someone to go through a wrongful death claim. If you have lost someone you love due to an accident, malicious act or even as a result of an on the job hazard, do not wait to file your claim.
By Texas law a person only has two years to file a claim. If you wait beyond that period you will not be able to file for compensation. We understand that there is a grieving period and that it may take some time to get your emotions under control and become strong enough to file a claim. However, remember that your loved one cannot file a claim for him/herself and therefore it is up to you to seek justice.
If you are unsure as to whether or not you have legal grounds to file a claim, it is important to seek the guidance of a qualified attorney like the ones here at the Lorenzana law firm. We have years of experience and will be able to tell you honestly whether or not you have a case. If you would like to set up an appointment to come in and consult with one of our wrongful death claims attorneys, call us at
to set up an appointment.

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Employment Law
Businesses often find that as they get larger, it is important to have consistent and uniform policies and procedures in place. One way that objective can be accomplished is to develop an employee handbook. It can be a valuable source of information for employees about what is expected of them and what they can expect from the company.

Employers often worry that committing themselves to certain procedures limits their ability to effectively run the company. Such limits are not necessarily bad because lawsuits by employees often claim that the employee was treated differently from others. If the company has a uniform written policy that is followed, those types of claims are minimized. Overall, the advantages of a properly drafted handbook outweigh the disadvantages.

My employee handbook is several years old. Should it be updated?
Employers who fail to follow handbook policies may have trouble defending themselves if a lawsuit is filed against the company. Many times, however, the reason why a particular policy was not followed was because company procedures changed but those changes were not reflected in the handbook. Periodic review and revision of the employee handbook will minimize this problem.

In addition, employment law is an area where changes are occurring at a rapid pace. Employers must be ready to modify their policies when needed. Generally, it is a good idea for employers to review their handbooks at least on an annual basis.

What are some of the questions an employer may not ask during an interview or on a job application?
California Government Code Section12940 specifically prohibits employers from making inquiries either by way of a job application or during an interview that are not job related. Specifically prohibited are questions that may either directly or indirectly result in discrimination as to race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical handicap, medical condition, marital status or sex.

Must employers provide health insurance benefits to employees?
Health insurance is not one of the mandated employee benefit programs. Examples of mandated benefits include but are not limited to workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment insurance. However, employers have discovered that in order to attract quality employees, benefits such as group health insurance plans are important.

If an employer offers group health insurance there are laws that must be followed. For example, an employer with 20 or more employees will need to comply with a federal law, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, i.e. COBRA. An employer with 2 to 19 employees will also be required to look to state law, CAL-COBRA.

In addition, there are other laws employers may need to refer to that prohibit discrimination and place other requirements on the administration of such plans.

What is the difference between hourly and salaried employees?
The first difference seems obvious. The rate of pay would be calculated differently. Hourly employees are paid a set amount for each hour worked with an increased amount for those hours that are worked overtime.

The rate of pay for salaried employees is usually a set amount either per month or per week without any extra compensation for those hours that are worked overtime.

Even though an employee is paid on a salary basis, he or she may not be exempt from receiving payment for overtime hours. In order to make this determination, employers and employees must look to both state and federal law and consider each job position on a case by case basis. If the job does not fit into one of the specific exemptions that are provided by law then the employee must be paid additional compensation for overtime hours that are worked, even though the employee is paid a salary.
The California Occupational Safety and Health Act (CAL/OSHA) requires employers to furnish a place of employment which is safe and healthful for employees. This, of course, is just common sense for most employers.
What some employers may not realize, however, is that the Act provides stiff penalties for certain violations of safety and health standards. If, for example, a violation is shown to be “wilful,” penalties in excess of $100,000 can be assessed.

Just what is a wilful violation? As Rick’s Electric Company recently found out, a wilful violation can result from conduct that, at first blush, does not seem wilful at all.

Employees of Rick’s were installing electrical circuits in a commercial building undergoing renovation. The building was located in San Diego and Rick’s foreman on the job was Glen Woodmansee.

While on the job, Woodmansee directed a mid-level apprentice electrician, John Blackstock, to remove coating from some electrical cables in an area of the building where he believed there was no electrical power. Blackstock had not yet been trained to work on energized systems.

A CAL/OSHA safety order stated that electrical work should not be done on exposed energized systems until workers had received proper training and suitable safety precautions had been taken. Rick’s was familiar with this order.

Contrary to Woodmansee’s belief, the cables Blackstock began working on were carrying electrical current. Blackstock received a shock of 277 volts, resulting in serious injuries.

A safety engineer with CAL/OSHA conducted an investigation of the accident and cited Rick’s Electric for violating the above safety order. The citation designated the violation as “serious and wilful.”

Rick’s challenged the citation and the matter was heard before the CAL/OSHA Appeals Board, which found that Rick’s did violate the safety order and that the violation was “wilful.” Rick’s was assessed a penalty of $40,000. Rick’s appealed and the matter was recently considered by the California Court of Appeal.

On appeal, Rick’s argued that, in order for there to be a finding of wilful conduct on its part, it must be shown that Woodmansee intended that Blackstock be exposed to a hazardous condition. That clearly did not occur since Woodmansee did not know the cables were energized.

The appellate court said that a wilful violation occurs where an employer is conscious of the fact that what it is doing runs counter to a safety order, or where the employer is aware that an unsafe condition exists and makes no reasonable effort to correct it.

In this case, the court said, Woodmansee’s good faith belief that the cables were not energized was irrelevant. Another safety order required that all electrical equipment, such as cables, be treated as energized unless tested to prove otherwise. Therefore, in directing Blackstock to work on the cables, Woodmansee had a responsibility to either test them to see if they were energized or make sure that Blackstock had sufficient training and protection to work on energized equipment. Woodmansee did neither.

Instead, he directed an untrained employee to work on cables he knew should be treated as being energized. This was enough to support a finding that his violation of the safety order was wilful. The decision of the Board was affirmed.

CAL/OSHA requires all employers to have a written injury prevention program. Among other things, the program must set forth a system for identifying workplace hazards, procedures for correcting unsafe conditions, and methods of instructing employees on workplace safety.

If you are an employer and do not have such a program in place, you can receive information on how to create one from the CAL/OSHA division of the California Department of Industrial Relations in Sacramento or an attorney who practices employment law.
At the recent call-in sponsored by the Bee, several callers I talked to, both employers and employees, seemed to have a misconception about the law in California relating to termination of employees.

The callers thought that once a person is hired for a job, he or she can never be terminated unless the employer has a very good reason for doing so (“good cause”.)

Actually, the law is quite different. Although there are numerous exceptions, the basic rule in California and throughout the United States is employment “at-will.”

This means that either the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship at any time, without having a reason for doing so. This rule is set forth in the California Labor Code.

Now for a little history. American law traces its roots, for the most part, to old English law. Centuries ago, in England, if a master hired a servant without specifying the length of employment, the law required the employment to be for one year. This meant that neither the master nor the servant could end the relationship earlier.

England’s economy at the time was based mainly on agriculture. The one-year time frame was set so that a master could be assured of having the servant’s services throughout one full planting and harvesting season. Also, the rule assured servants that they wouldn’t be hired just for the busy season and laid off during the rest of the year.

The American colonies at first followed the English law in this area. However, beginning in the late 1800’s, the one-year rule was no longer practical.

Finally, in 1908, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Adair v. United States, set forth the at-will principle of employment. The Court said it was wrong for the law to require an employer to retain an employee against the employer’s will, and it was equally wrong to force an employee to work for someone against his or her will.

This rule of at-will employment has remained the foundation of employment law to the present day. However, as often happens with the law, exceptions to the rule have been created over time. There are too many exceptions to the at-will rule to treat each one in this space. However, three of the most common ones are the following:

An express agreement between the parties: if the employer and employee agree that the employee cannot be terminated except for good cause, that agreement will take priority over the at-will rule.

Such an agreement can be set forth in several ways. For example, it can be included in an employment contract, or it can be reflected in the employer’s policy manual distributed to the employees. It can also be a verbal agreement between the employer and the employee.

An implied agreement between the parties: Words or actions of the parties can result in the law implying an agreement by the employer not to terminate except for good cause.

For example, if new employees are required to pass a”probationary period,” after which they are classified as “permanent,” such a policy could be considered as evidence that employees passing the probationary period are no longer at-will. * Termination based on unlawful discrimination: even though a worker is an at-will employee, he or she cannot be terminated for reasons based on race, sex, religion, disability, pregnancy, or because of any other unlawful discrimination.

Although there are other exceptions to the at-will rule as well, it remains in effect. Employers seeking the protection of the rule should make sure employees are clearly advised, in writing, that their employment is at-will.

Careful drafting of employment application forms and employee manuals, using the at-will language, can be very helpful in protecting employers from wrongful termination claims.
===================You are a subcontractor on a construction project. You know that sometimes lawsuits are filed because of poor workmanship on projects like yours. However, you also know that you do only quality work and, therefore, you need not worry about being responsible for substandard workmanship, right?
Wrong. Subcontractors can, and frequently are held to be responsible for problems on construction jobs even though their work was done properly. Their responsibility does not come from their work, it comes from the contract they signed with the general contractor.

A case in point is Centex Golden Construction Company v. Dale Tile Company, recently decided by the California Court of Appeal.

Centex was the general contractor in charge of constructing a commercial building. Dale was a tile subcontractor on the project.

Dale signed a contract with Centex which said that (I’m summarizing here) all work covered by the contract would be at the risk of Dale exclusively. Dale agreed to indemnify Centex for any claims, including attorneys’ fees, relating to the tile work, including claims caused, in part, by Centex’ own negligence.

After the job was completed, the owner of the building made a claim against Centex, alleging that the tile work was defective. Centex settled the claim and then demanded that Dale reimburse it for the money it paid to the owner. Dale refused and Centex filed suit.

A jury trial was held and the jury decided that Dale had not been negligent in doing its work on the job. The jury also found that Centex had not been negligent, either.

However, it was also determined that the owner’s claim was reasonable. (The decision of the court does not explain why the owner’s claim was reasonable. There may have been defective materials which were not Dale’s responsibility, or another subcontractor may have done something to alter the tile job.)

The trial court awarded a judgment against Dale and in favor of Centex in the amount Centex had paid the owner, plus attorneys’ fees paid by Centex in pursuing the case against Dale. Dale appealed.

On appeal, Dale argued that it should not be responsible to pay anything to Centex unless it could be shown that Dale did something wrong on the project. On this issue, Dale said, the jury had found in its favor.

In deciding the case, the court of appeal said the question of Dale’s obligation to indemnify Centex should be determined by the language of their contract. After all, the contract was an expression of what both parties had agreed to do.

In reviewing the contract, the court could find no requirement of negligence on Dale’s part before Dale could be required to indemnify Centex. Dale had simply agreed to indemnify Centex with respect to all work covered by the subcontract.

Therefore, said the court, as long as there was a connection between the claim and the tile work, Dale was responsible. The judgment of the trial court was affirmed.

My guess is that nobody at Dale Tile Company actually read the contract with Centex before it was signed. If someone had read it, and realized that Dale could be responsible for something it did not do, Dale may have negotiated a better arrangement with Centex.

In my experience, indemnity agreements requiring a subcontractor to indemnify the general contractor, regardless of fault, are common in the construction industry. If a subcontractor finds itself presented with one of these contracts, it should try to get the indemnity language restricted.

However, whether or not it is successful in doing so, it should make absolutely sure that it has insurance coverage for any potential liability it may have under the contract. This includes the obligation to indemnify the general contractor.
Common sense probably tells most employers that they should not retaliate against an employee who exercises his or her legal rights in the workplace.
However, just what does it mean to “retaliate?” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently discussed this question in the case of William J. Ray v. William J. Henderson, Postmaster General.

According to the decision of the court, Ray was a rural postal carrier in Willits. His immediate supervisor was Dale Briggs and the local Postmaster was Dan Carey.

At a management/employee meeting in March 1994, Ray commented that he felt women employees at the Willits station were being subjected to harassment. Postmaster Carey denied the statement and called Ray a “liar.”

Ray made a similar comment at a subsequent meeting and then wrote a complaint to Carey’s supervisor. This prompted a meeting between Carey and Ray, during which Carey said he was not happy about the complaint to his superior. He said that, as a result, he might have to change his approach to management.

Carey and Briggs then began to publicly berate Ray on a regular basis. He was called a “rabble rouser” and “trouble- maker” at employee meetings and was yelled at in a private meeting.

About 11 months after Ray made his first comment about the treatment of women, Carey eliminated the management/employee meetings. He also required all carriers to come to work at 7:00 a.m.

Before this, carriers would come in between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. to give them more time to sort their mail and do other administrative tasks. Coming in at 7:00 meant they had to sort much faster to be able to leave on their routes on time. Since Ray had the longest route, this affected him the most. It also resulted in Ray having to work longer in the afternoon to finish his administrative tasks.

Ray continued to be the target of hostility by Carey and Briggs. On one occasion, in front of other workers, Briggs yelled at him, telling him to “shut up.” Also, Ray was twice charged with misconduct, only to have the charges cleared.

Ray filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), complaining of a hostile work environment. He then took a stress leave.

When he returned to work, Ray’s route was reduced by 90 boxes, causing him to lose about $3,000 annual salary. Also, Postmaster Carey instituted a “lockdown” at the Willits Post Office. This required carriers to keep the doors at the loading dock locked at all times. As a result, when carriers loaded their vehicles, they had to ring a bell and wait for another employee to open a door in order to get back in the building.

Ray ultimately filed a lawsuit, alleging, among other things, that he had been retaliated against for engaging in lawful activity. The trial court dismissed his case and Ray appealed.

The appellate court reviewed the case in light of Title VII. This is a federal law that says (among other things) that employers cannot retaliate against employees who oppose an unlawful employment practice.

The court said that when Ray complained about the treatment of women, he was doing something protected by Title VII. The issue, said the court, was whether he suffered retaliation by his employer as a result. This depended on whether he was subjected to any “adverse employment actions” because of his conduct. The court noted that the EEOC has defined “adverse employment action” as conduct by an employer that is likely to deter an employee from engaging in activity protected by law. The court adopted this definition.

The court said that an adverse employment action could include a transfer of job duties, an undeserved performance rating, an unfavorable job reference, or more burdensome work assignments.

The court decided that the actions taken by Ray’s employer, including eliminating the employee meetings and the flexible start-time policy, instituting the lockdown program, and reducing Ray’s route (and, therefore, his income) were adverse employment actions. They decreased his pay, increased his workload, and were done to discourage him and others from complaining about discrimination in the workplace.

The court said that Ray’s case should not have been dismissed. The judgment of the trial court was reversed and Ray was allowed to go forward with his claim of retaliation.

Certainly, no employer likes to have an employee make allegations such as those made by William Ray in this case. However, retaliating against the employee in an effort to “shut him up” only compounds the problem, as Ray’s superiors are finding out.
An employee makes a complaint of sexual harassment against her supervisor. Soon after, that same supervisor gives the employee a performance appraisal and rates her lower than she has ever been rated before.
Are the two events connected? If they are, can the low appraisal support an additional claim by the employee of unlawful retaliation? These issues were discussed by the U.S. Court of Appeals in the recent case of Aybike Kortan v. California Youth Authority (CYA).

Kortan, a woman, was a Clinical Staff Psychologist for the CYA. Her supervisor was Dr. Albert Atesalp. Kortan was a highly-regarded employee and in January 1994, was honored as Outstanding Employee of the Year.

Kortan had started working for the CYA in 1988. She was given regular evaluations which rated her performance in several areas. The evaluations used a scale in which “E” meant performance exceeds standards, “M” meant performance meets standards, and “I” stood for improvement needed.

Until 1994, Kortan had received all “E’s” on her reviews, except for one “M” in the “work habits” section of the 1989 evaluation.

In February 1994, Kortan had a disagreement with a nurse who she believed was not following her instructions. Kortan reported the incident to Atesalp, who did not seem to take the problem seriously.

Kortan then wrote Atesalp a memo in which she said that no matter how hard she tried, she was not able to improve conditions at the clinic. After he received the memo, Atesalp had coffee with Kortan and made several disparaging remarks about women. Kortan complained about Atesalp’s conduct to his superior, I. R. Schulman. After she made her complaint, Atesalp, according to Kortan, began giving her “looks” and treated her differently than he had before.

Atesalp then did a regularly scheduled performance review of Kortan and gave her five “E’s” and three “I’s”. This was the lowest overall evaluation she had ever received and was done in the same year she received the Outstanding Employee Award.

Schulman later reviewed the evaluation and changed the three low ratings to “M’s”. Only this revised evaluation was placed in Kortan’s personnel file.

Kortan ultimately filed a lawsuit, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation claims. CYA asked the trial court to dismiss the case and it did so. Kortan appealed.

On appeal, the court dealt with several issues, including whether the performance evaluation by Dr. Atesalp could be considered unlawful retaliation in light of Kortan’s initial complaint about him. (The court also reviewed Atesalp’s comments about women and whether they constituted sexual harassment. I will not discuss that aspect of the case here.)

The court said that for Kortan to prevail on the retaliation issue, she had to show that she had acted to protect her legal rights and that, as a result, an adverse employment action was taken against her.

The court said that the initial evaluation by Atesalp was clearly retaliatory. However, Schulman then raised the three low marks and no one else saw those marks.

Although the final evaluation was not perfect, it was not below average. Thus, the court said, Kortan could not show that the evaluation in its final form was retaliatory.

Also, the court noted that Kortan was not demoted, stripped of any duties, suspended, or given more difficult work assignments after making her complaint.

The appellate court agreed with the trial court that Kortan could not prove unlawful retaliation. It affirmed the judgment dismissing her case.

One of the appellate court justices disagreed with this decision. He wrote that, although Schulman revised Atesalp’s evaluation, those revisions should not negate Kortan’s retaliation claim.

Also, he noted that Atesalp was never disciplined for his misuse of the evaluation process. By not disciplining him, CYA was actually approving of his conduct.

This was a close case that could have gone either way. Looking back on what happened, CYA should never have allowed Atesalp to do a review of Kortan after she had complained about his conduct. Letting him do the review was just asking for trouble.
In our country, there are many levels of government that enact laws, from cities and counties all the way to the federal government. Not surprisingly, sometimes the laws of one entity conflict with those of another. In such cases, the courts have to determine which law is controlling.
This is what happened in the case of Latrell Sprewell v. the Golden State Warriors and the National Basketball Association (NBA) recently decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

If you are a sports fan, you probably recall that Sprewell was an all-star guard on the Warriors’ team from 1992 to 1997. After a run-in with the Warriors’ coach, P.J. Carlesimo, he was dropped from the team.

According to the opinion of the Court of Appeals, Sprewell’s problems with the team and the NBA came to a head at a Warriors’ practice session on December 1, 1997. During the practice, Carlesimo told Sprewell to pass the ball to a teammate for a quick shot. Although Sprewell contended he passed the ball “admirably,” Carlesimo criticized him for not putting enough speed on the ball.

Sprewell then slammed the ball down and directed several expletives at Carlesimo. Carlesimo responded with, as the court described it, a “similar showing of sophistication.” Sprewell then grabbed Carlesimo by the neck, saying “I will kill you.” Naturally, matters deteriorated from there, with Sprewell eventually leaving the facility.

The Warriors immediately suspended Sprewell and, two days later, terminated his contract with the team. The NBA, after an investigation, suspended Sprewell from the league for a year.

The players’ union has a collective bargaining agreement with the NBA which provides for arbitration of disputes between players and their teams. After the Warriors terminated his contract, Sprewell demanded such arbitration, claiming that the actions of the team and the league violated the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. The team and the league responded, claiming that their actions were justified by the agreement.

A nine-day arbitration hearing was held, during which testimony was given by 21 witnesses. The arbitrator then decided that the Warriors’ termination of Sprewell’s contract was not justified because the NBA had taken over the matter at that point. He also decided that the NBA could suspend Sprewell, but only to the end of the 1997-1998 season.

Sprewell then filed a lawsuit against the team and the NBA in federal district court. In his suit, he asked that the arbitrator’s ruling be overturned. He also made several claims for damages under California law, including claims of unfair business practices. The trial court dismissed Sprewell’s case and he appealed.

In analyzing the case, the appellate court said the award of the arbitrator was proper, according to the collective bargaining agreement between the players union and the league.

The court went on to say that federal law (the Labor Management Relations Act) exclusively governs claims for breach of the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the Players Association. Federal law, said the court, would supersede any state law claims that may be related to the agreement.

The critical issue in this case, said the court, was whether Sprewell’s state law claims were independent of the collective bargaining agreement or whether they were tied to that agreement. The team and the league, said the court, were relying on the terms of the collective bargaining agreement to justify their actions. Therefore, the agreement was an essential part of the case and federal law, not California law, applied to Sprewell’s claims.

The appellate court decided that the decision of the arbitrator should be upheld and that Sprewell’s claims based on California law should be dismissed. The decision of the trial court was affirmed.

(Federal law controls issues relating to collective bargaining agreements such as this one because the U.S. Constitution says Congress may regulate interstate commerce. Clearly, the NBA is involved in interstate commerce.)

Let’s say you are a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals. How would you decide the following case?
Gabrielle Breda was hired in October 1995, as a sales associate by Atlanta-based Wolf Camera and Video. She worked at a store in a shopping mall. All employees at the store were supervised by the store manager, who reported to a district supervisor that visited every five or six weeks.

After she started working for Wolf, a male co-employee began sexually harassing her. He would continually comment on her physical appearance and make lewd statements.

Breda complained to the store manager about the harassment at least four or five times. The store manager apparently did nothing about these complaints and did not report them to his supervisor. Breda eventually quit her job and sued Wolf, claiming she had been subjected to a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the trial court, Wolf pointed out that, in order for Breda to prevail, she had to show that the company either knew about the harassment or should have known about it, and failed to take action. In this case, Wolf argued that since the store manager did not report the harassment to his supervisor, Wolf had no way of knowing about it.

Also, Wolf argued that Breda did not comply with company policy in reporting the harassment. The company policy, which had been distributed to employees, stated:

“Anyone who believes that he or she is being subjected to harassment . . . must immediately notify his or her manager. If the problem is not immediately resolved, that associate should contact the Personnel Department.”

Since Breda did not follow up with a complaint to the Personnel Department, Wolf argued, she did not comply with the policy. Her complaint to the manager alone was not sufficient to notify Wolf of the harassment.

The trial court agreed with Wolf and dismissed Breda’s case. Breda appealed. How would you decide her appeal?

The Court of Appeals analyzed the case as follows:

The court said it is correct that, for an employer to be liable in a case involving harassment by a co-worker, it must be shown that the employer either knew or should have known of the harassment.

When an employer has a policy for reporting harassment, said the court, and an employee follows that policy, notice to the employer is established.

In this case, Wolf’s own policy said that store managers could receive complaints of harassment from employees. It was undisputed that Breda complained to the store manager several times. The fact that she could or should have also contacted the Personnel Department does not somehow cancel out the notice given to the store manager.

The order of the trial court dismissing the case was reversed and the case was sent back to the trial court for further proceedings.

One lesson from this case for employers is the importance of training managers on how to handle employee complaints of harassment or discrimination. Managers should be given instruction on how to respond to these complaints when they are received, and also counseled to immediately report them to more senior supervisory personnel. Employer liability can frequently be avoided in these cases if the employer responds promptly with reasonable action.
Employee alcohol abuse is one of the most difficult problems an employer faces in today’s workplace. The toll it takes on worker productivity can be significant, not to mention the safety risks that arise. Also, perhaps most importantly, careers of good, long-term employees are frequently ruined.
The employer in the recent case of Gosvener v. Coastal Corp. and Pacific Refining Corp. (Pacific) went to great lengths to try to salvage an employee afflicted with alcoholism. Unfortunately, the employer’s efforts failed and the employer found itself being sued by the employee it tried to help.

The employee was a shift supervisor at a chemical refinery in Hercules, California. At times, he was the only supervisor on duty and was then responsible for all safety issues.

He had a generally good work record from 1973 until 1991 when he checked himself into a hospital for alcohol detoxification. He then told his employer he had a problem.

Pacific referred him to a private clinic, paid for treatment by a private doctor, referred him temporarily to a less stressful position at the same rate of pay and cleared him to return to work while undergoing therapy.

Pacific and the employee also signed a written agreement stating that Pacific was concerned for the employee’s safety, the safety of his co-workers, and residents of the surrounding community. His continued employment was conditioned on his success in dealing with his substance abuse problem. The employee was to be subject to unannounced drug and alcohol testing, with a positive result causing disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Everything went well until 1993 when the employee appeared to be under the influence of alcohol at work. He acknowledged that he had a drinking problem for the past couple of months.

Pacific gave him another chance. Another agreement was entered into, requiring the employee to remain drug and alcohol free and to follow a treatment program.

In January 1994, the employee’s alcohol problems resumed and led to unexcused absenteeism. He was discharged. His request for another opportunity to attend a treatment program was denied. He sued, claiming, among other things, discrimination based on his alcohol problem.

The trial court entered judgment for Pacific, stating that there was no illegal discrimination and nothing to indicate that Pacific lacked good cause to terminate the employee.

On appeal, the court noted that Pacific repeatedly gave the employee reasonable accommodations in his attempts to recover from alcoholism. Each time, he began drinking again. He was also a supervisor and held a safety-sensitive position.

The employee claimed Pacific violated Labor Code section 1025. It provides, in part, that employers of 25 or more employees must reasonably accommodate an employee who wishes to participate in an alcohol treatment program, as long as it would not be an undue hardship on the employer. (It does not prevent discharging an employee who is unable to perform his or her duties because of alcohol use.)

The court pointed out that Pacific allowed their employee to attend two such programs and had warned about discharge if he failed to remain alcohol free. The court concluded that Pacific could not be required to tolerate unsafe conditions or be forced to allow substance abuse to continue indefinitely. The judgment dismissing the case was affirmed.

If you, as an employer, suspect one of your employees has an alcohol or drug problem, early consultation with an attorney experienced in employment law can help you deal with the difficult legal issues that will probably arise.
Can an employee quit his or her job and then file a wrongful discharge suit against the employer? As odd as this may seem, it can be done.
The legal concept is called “constructive discharge.” It applies in a situation where an employee is faced with intolerable working conditions that are so bad that a reasonable person would feel they must resign.

Also, the conditions must either be intentionally created by the employer or the employer must know about them and allow them to continue in order to force the employee to quit.

A leading California case in this area is Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., decided by the California Supreme Court in 1994. In that case, James Turner was employed by Anheuser-Busch. In 1984, he reported to his employer some alleged illegal acts and violations of company policies that he saw other employees doing.

In 1985, he was reassigned to another position at the same salary and level of responsibility. He received generally good ratings on his performance evaluations until December, 1988, when he received a “needs improvement” rating.

Turner met with his supervisors, who mentioned specific incidents and said that his job performance had deteriorated. Turner disagreed and criticized his supervisors for not discussing the incidents with him when they happened. A short time later, Turner resigned and then sued Anheuser-Busch alleging, among other things, constructive wrongful discharge. He said he believed he was being “set up” to be fired and his chances in court would be better if he quit.

The case came before the Supreme Court on the question of whether his claim for constructive wrongful discharge should be dismissed or allowed to proceed to trial.

The court noted that with a constructive discharge, although the employee may say “I quit,” the employment relationship really ends because of the employer’s acts. The doctrine was developed to prevent employers from making a job so intolerable that an employee leaves and then claiming the employee voluntarily quit so he or she cannot sue for wrongful discharge.

However, the court said that an employee cannot simply quit and sue, claiming constructive discharge. The conditions leading to the resignation must be extraordinary and intolerable. Every job has its frustrations and disappointments. An employee is not guaranteed a working environment free of stress.

In this case, Turner was not asked to participate in any illegal conduct. Also, his employer acknowledged and investigated his complaints.

In addition, the alleged illegal acts and his reassignment came roughly four years before his resignation. This indicated that neither situation was intolerable.

Finally, the court stated that the 1988 negative performance rating was not enough to justify a constructive discharge. Every employer must review, criticize, transfer and discipline employees. Doing so does not amount to creating intolerable working conditions. The court held that Turner’s claim for constructive wrongful discharge should be dismissed and judgment was granted to Anheuser-Busch.

Despite the outcome of the Turner case, constructive discharge is a legal theory that can be used in appropriate cases. However, they must involve extraordinary situations such as, for example, sexual harassment or racial discrimination.

We all face difficulties on the job from time to time including deadlines, co-employees with whom we may not get along, and more work than we sometimes think we can handle. These typical stresses of the modern workplace do not usually justify a constructive discharge.
The law does not require your boss to be nice to you. Rude and obnoxious behavior, as long as it is not discriminatory, generally does not give an employee reason to sue his or her employer for damages.
However, there are limits. Extreme conduct by an employer can justify an employee to resign and treat the resignation as a termination. This was discussed recently by the California Court of Appeal in the case of J. Scott McFetters v. Amplicon, Inc.

According to the appellate court decision, McFetters was a sales representative for Amplicon, which was in the business of leasing computer equipment. Patrick Paddon was the majority shareholder, CEO, and President of Amplicon. Over the years, McFetters developed a large customer base and became one of the company’s most successful salespersons.

After McFetters had been employed by Amplicon for a number of years, the company came out with a new form of lease agreement called the “ABC lease.” This lease had fewer options for the customer than other leases offered by Amplicon and was much more profitable for the company. Though the company still offered the other leases, salespeople were encouraged to push the ABC lease. McFetters initially sold the ABC lease, but developed reservations about it. He felt it was misleading to customers and also believed that the sales pitch he was told to use for it was misleading and untrue. He ultimately declined to sell ABC leases, even though it meant smaller commissions for him.

Paddon spoke with McFetters and told him to “get on board” with Amplicon’s sales practices. He told McFetters he had a poor attitude and said he didn’t want him discussing his concerns over company practices with any other employees.

One day, McFetters was approached by another employee who asked him his opinion of the company’s sales program. McFetters at first was reluctant to discuss his views, but the other employee pressed him and he began to talk about the program.

Paddon happened to walk by McFetters’ open door at just that moment and overheard the conversation. He became enraged and marched into the office, demanding to know if McFetters was complaining. McFetters responded “yes .. . . a little bit,” at which point Paddon lunged at him, grabbed and hit him, and dragged him forcibly out of the office and down the hall to the reception area. Along the way, he was yelling at McFetters, saying he had no value to the company.

Paddon sat McFetters in a chair and told him to stay there. He then left the room. McFetters knew Paddon sometimes kept a gun in his office, so he remained in the chair for about half an hour. Eventually, one of the company supervisors spoke to him and said that Paddon was just having a bad day. He told him to let the matter “blow over.”

McFetters took the rest of the day off, but returned to work the next day. At that time, he was told by two supervisors that they would act as intermediaries so he would not have to deal directly with Paddon again. Based on those assurances, and because he was owed a substantial amount of money by the company for commissions on sales, McFetters decided to stay on.

Paddon, however, continued to torment McFetters. He would interrupt conversations McFetters was having with others and walk by him in the hall and grab at his clothes. Paddon also arranged to delay paying McFetters his commissions.

Matters came to a head when the two supervisors that were acting as buffers for McFetters left the company. When he heard Paddon wanted to meet with him personally, McFetters concluded that he had no options other than to resign. He did so that day.

McFetters then filed suit against Amplicon and Paddon, alleging, among other things, that he had been constructively terminated. By this he meant that he was forced to resign because his working conditions had become intolerable.

The trial court dismissed this part of his claim and McFetters appealed.

On appeal, the court said that for constructive termination to apply, a person’s working conditions must be extraordinarily bad. They must be such that a reasonable person would have no alternative than to quit.

The court characterized the conditions faced by McFetters as “menacing” and “significant.” It said that an assault and battery on an employee by the owner of a company is not something that is quickly forgotten. This, combined with the taunting and other conduct by Paddon was more than sufficient to create a situation no reasonable employee would tolerate.

The appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court on the issue of constructive termination.

Constructive termination does not, by itself, give an employee the right to sue and recover damages from an employer. It simply establishes that the employee was terminated. The employee must also show that the termination was wrongful, such as, for example, that it was contrary to an employment agreement or done as a result of unlawful discrimination.

It seems that employers are constantly bombarded with laws and regulations that relate to their relationship with their employees. There are minimum wage requirements, record-keeping requirements, and safety and insurance requirements, among many others.
In the agricultural industry, growers have been exempt from many of these requirements when they have used workers supplied by farm labor contractors. These workers, the reasoning goes, are employees of the labor contractors, not the growers.

The recent case of Torres-Lopez v. May, decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (a federal court that includes California within its jurisdiction), raised a red flag that should be heeded by growers who hire labor contractors. The court said that employees of a farm labor contractor can, under certain circumstances, be considered to be “co-employed” by both the labor contractor and the grower.

In such a situation, the grower is responsible for all the record-keeping, insurance, and other requirements of an employer under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The case involved Bear Creek Farms, an Oregon grower which grew cucumbers that were sold to a cannery. Bear Creek, through
one of its managers, Robert May, contracted with Ag-Labor Services, a farm labor contractor, to supply workers to harvest the crop. Bear Creek agreed to pay Ag-Labor half the gross proceeds from the sale of the crop. The agreement was entirely oral. Bear Creek supplied bins for collecting the cucumbers, transported them to the cannery, and collected the payments from the cannery. Ag-Labor was responsible for harvesting.

Ag-Labor got their workers by word of mouth among unemployed farmworkers in the area. The harvest lasted 37 days. May oversaw the harvest schedule and at times told Ag-Labor to delay work because of a shortage of bins. It was also understood that he could require Ag-Labor to re-pick certain areas. He was regularly in the field during harvest and the Ag-Labor supervisor frequently communicated with him to see that he was satisfied with the workers.

A complaint was made by some of the farmworkers that Bear Creek violated the FLSA, which applies to employer-employee relations. Bear Creek contended that it was not an employer and therefore not subject to the Act. The court of appeal disagreed.

The court said that under the FLSA there can be more than one employer of a worker. It noted that the Act defines the employer-employee relationship in very broad terms. It said courts should look to the “economic reality” of a situation to determine if the employer-employee relationship exists.

One of the factors the court looked at in this case was the degree of control that Bear Creek had over working conditions. Bear Creek controlled the overall harvest schedule and told Ag-Labor which days were suitable for harvesting and when not to harvest.

Another factor was the degree of supervision Bear Creek exercised over the workers. It noted that May had the right to‘ inspect all work done and was present in the fields daily to ensure the harvest was done properly. The fact that he controlled the work indirectly, by communicating with Ag-Labor’s supervisor rather than the workers themselves, was not important.

The court cited other factors as well. The court’s conclusion was that Bear Creek was a joint employer of the farmworkers for the purposes of the FLSA.

This decision could have far-reaching effects. There are civil and criminal penalties for violating the FLSA.

In order to avoid the problem Bear Creek had, it might be a good idea for growers to have written agreements with farm labor contractors, clearly spelling out the nature of the relationship. It would also help for growers to educate themselves on the requirements of the FLSA and other similar laws.

There are many sources of information in this area. There is a good book published by the University of California entitled “Labor Management Laws in California Agriculture.” It is available through the university at 800-994-8849.

Information can also be obtained from the State Employment Development Dept. and the U.S. Dept. of Labor. You may also wish to consult with an attorney experienced in this area of the law if you do any work with labor contractors.
What is a “hostile work environment?” You may have heard this term as it relates to sexual harassment. A recent federal district court case has helped to answer this question.
First, a little background. Both California and federal law prohibit employment discrimination based on sex. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination.

One way that an employer can be responsible for sexual harassment is if it creates a hostile work environment for the person being harassed. Thus, it is important to know just what this term means.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit addressed this issue in the case of Patricial A. Brooks v. City of San Mateo, a case decided just a few weeks ago.

Brooks was a 911 dispatcher for the City of San Mateo. She was working an evening shift with a co-worker, Steven Selvaggio. At some point during the evening, Selvaggio put his hand on Brooks’ stomach and commented on how sexy it was. Brooks pushed him away and told him to stop.

Selvaggio then reached under Brooks’ sweater and put his hand under her bra. Brooks removed his hand and told him he had “crossed the line.” At that point, another dispatcher arrived and Selvaggio left the room.

Brooks immediately reported the incident and the next day Selvaggio was placed on administrative leave while an investigation was conducted by the city. The investigation disclosed two other situations where Selvaggio had made improper advances toward female co-workers. Those earlier victims had not reported his misconduct.

Selvaggio later resigned and pled no contest to a criminal charge of misdemeanor sexual assault. He spent 120 days in jail. Brooks took a leave of absence and began seeing a psychologist. She tried to return to work but eventually left her job for good.

Brooks sued the city, alleging, among other things, that she was subjected to a hostile work environment as a result of Selvaggio’s actions.

The trial court dismissed her claim. The court said that Selvaggio’s actions on the one evening at work were not severe enough to support a hostile work environment claim. Brooks appealed.

The appellate court said that a hostile work environment is one that is so discriminatory and abusive that it interferes with a person’s job performance. The discrimination must “alter the conditions of employment.”

The factors that a court will look at to determine this are: the frequency of the conduct complained of, the severity of the conduct and how much it interferes with work performance. The more severe the conduct, the less frequent it must be to create a hostile work environment.

In this case, Brooks was essentially complaining of one incident of misconduct by Selvaggio. The fact that he was involved in other incidents had no bearing on her case because the city did not know of them until after Brooks made her complaint.

The court noted another case where one incident of harassment was enough to create a hostile work environment. In that case, the harasser slapped the female plaintiff, tore off her blouse, beat her, hit her on the head with a radio, choked her and ultimately forced her to have sex with him. Afterwards, she required hospitalization.

The court said that, although the conduct Brooks complained of was highly offensive, it was not nearly as severe as the conduct in that case.

A reasonable woman, said the court, would not consider that the conditions of Brooks’ employment were altered by the actions of Selvaggio. This was particularily true given that the city promptly removed Selvaggio from the workplace.

The court of appeals agreed with the decision of the trial court and held that the City of San Mateo was not liable to Brooks for the actions of Selvaggio.

An important reason for the decision of the court, I believe, is that the City of San Mateo took prompt action to separate Selvaggio from Brooks. Had it not done so, and had Selvaggio had one or two more encounters with Brooks, the result may have been much different.
Should a supervisor at work who unlawfully discriminates against an employee be personally liable to the employee for damages?
The law is clear that the business is responsible for such damages but there is uncertainty in California about a supervisor’s liability. Two recent cases that addressed this issue show how courts of appeal can disagree on points of law, requiring the Supreme Court to make the final decision.

In 1996, the case of Janken v. GM Hughes Electronics was decided by the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles. In that case, several employees of Hughes over the age of 40 sued their employer for damages for age discrimination.

The employees alleged that Hughes had a policy of terminating employees over 40 without good reason. This, they said, was a violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The act prohibits employers from firing employees over 40 because of their age.

Supervisory employees at Hughes were named as defendants. The issue before the court was whether the individual supervisors, as well as Hughes, could be liable for such discrimination. The court said no.

There were several reasons for the decision but I willdiscuss just one. The court noted that the FEHA prohibits both harassment and discrimination. The act states that an employer and “any other person” (including supervisors), are prohibited from harassing. Only an employer is prohibited from discriminating. However, the definition of “employer” in the act includes any person acting as an agent of the employer. This would appear to include a supervisor. Nevertheless, the court decided that the legislature, in drafting the act, intended to treat supervisors who harass differently from supervisors who discriminate.

This makes sense, the court said, because a supervisor must consciously decide to harass someone, and can avoid liability by just deciding not to. However, making personnel decisions, such as whether to fire someone, cannot be avoided. Thus, if supervisors could be liable for discrimination, they would risk such claims every time they made such a decision.

This would make it nearly impossible for supervisors to do their jobs because they would constantly be concerned with protecting their family assets from lawsuits. They would make personnel decisions based on what would be least likely to cause a claim of discrimination rather than on what was best for the employer.

If the legislature had intended to put supervisors in such a situation, the court said, it would have used language that was much clearer.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, in the case of Reno v. Baird, didn’t mince its words in disagreeing with the Second District Court. In the Reno case, decided in September 1997, the plaintiff alleged discrimination by heremployer and supervisor based on her medical condition . (She claimed she was fired because she had cancer.) This is also prohibited by the FEHA.

The Reno Court said the clear language and purpose of the act support making both the employer and the supervisor liable in such cases.

The Reno Court said that supervisors know when they discriminate against someone, just as they know when they harass someone. If they know their conduct would be illegal, they should avoid doing it whether it be harassment or discrimination. If they don’t, they should be held responsible.

Thus, two courts having equal authority are on the record disagreeing on this very important issue. For that reason, the California Supreme Court has announced it will review the Reno decision. It will have the final say on how the FEHA should be interpreted.

My guess is the court will decide supervisors should not be liable for discrimination. This would allow them the freedom to work without constant fear of a lawsuit. An employee who suffered discrimination could still sue his or her employer.

I will keep an eye on this case and let you know when the Supreme Court rules. In the meantime, I suggest that supervisors make a special effort to be familiar with the FEHA as it relates
to discrimination.
Most of us spend a considerable amount of time and energy in our lives accumulating wealth. As we do this, there also comes a time to preserve wealth both for our enjoyment and for future generations. An effective estate plan ensures that your hard-earned wealth will pass to those you intend to be your beneficiaries.

What’s the difference between having a Will and a Living Trust?
A Will is a legal document that describes how you want your assets to be distributed at death. The actual distribution, however, is controlled by a legal process called probate. Once your Will enters the probate process, it’s no longer controlled by your family, but by the court and can be expensive, as well as an emotional trauma in a family’s time of grief and vulnerability.

A Living Trust avoids probate because your property is owned by the trust, so technically there’s nothing for the probate courts to administer. Further, a Will doesn’t take effect until you die, and is therefore no help to you with lifetime planning. A Living Trust can help you preserve and increase your estate while you’re alive, and offers protection should you become mentally disabled.

Will a Living Trust avoid income taxes?
NO. The purpose of creating a Living Trust is to avoid living probate, death probate, and reduce or even eliminate federal estate taxes. It’s not a vehicle for reducing income taxes. In fact, if you’re the trustee of your Living Trust, you will file your income tax returns exactly as you filed them before the trust existed. There are no new returns to file and no new liabilities are created.

Is a “Living Will” the same as a Will or a Living Trust?
NO. A Living Will is neither “Living” nor a “Will.” In California, the document is called a Health Care Directive (“HCD”). This document directs your physician and/or hospital on areas of your care. The HCD tells whether you want to remain on life support or just how much treatment you desire in a serious life-threatening injury or illness. Also, an HCD tells your loved ones what you want or don’t want at a time when you are not available to tell them yourself.

What is a “power of attorney” and do I want or need one?
There are various types of powers of attorney. Most of the types of powers feature the ability of an individual to give another individual the authority to make major legal, financial and medical decisions for another. Some POA’s are “springing,” that is, they take effect at a later date, usually after a major incapacitating disability. Having a springing POA is prudent planning and a large help to the family of one suffering from the disability.

Will the new estate tax changes affect my existing estate planning documents (will, revocable trust, etc.)?
In one way or another, yes. It will likely be a positive effect, in that your heirs will not likely have any more of an estate tax burden then before the changes to the tax code went into effect in July 2001. However, if you feel that your existing estate plan may need an update, it would be a good idea to ask us to look into any other changes that could benefit you and your family as well.

Do I really need an Advance Health Care Directive; can’t my spouse or children tell the doctor what I want done with my health care or end of life decisions?
It is a good idea for all adults to have an Advance Health Care Directive prepared, not just the elderly or those preparing a will or trust. The only way that your specific desires for continued health care, end of life decisions, or even organ donation can be assurred of being followed is with an Advance Health Care Directive. By law it provides to the doctor, the hospital or any appropriate interested person, your specific requests and desires on these very personal issues.
Marjorie Pang’s mother was in poor health. It was necessary for her to move out of her home in New York, where she lived alone, and into an apartment so she could continue to manage things herself.

Pang was employed by Beverly Hospital in California. She knew it would be necessary for her to assist her mother in the move. Therefore, she notified her employer that she would be traveling to New York to do so.

Pang believed her job would be protected while she was away, because the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allows employees to take unpaid leave from work to care for a parent with a serious health condition.

Pang’s mother, who was 81 years old, had a number of serious health conditions, including narcolepsy (sudden attacks of sleep), cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle power), arthritis, and a heart condition. She also had balance problems. Although she was still able to handle her own personal care and drive a car, she was not able to move herself.

After Pang left for New York, her employer terminated her employment, saying she had abandoned her job.

Pang filed suit, claiming that she had been terminated in violation of CFRA. Her case, which was recently decided by the California Court of Appeal, provides some insights into how courts will interpret the CFRA leave requirements.

CFRA gives certain employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for a number of reasons. Included among those reasons is to care for a parent with a serious health condition. An employee entitled to such leave must be allowed to return to work in the same or a comparable job. (There are specific requirements for CFRA to apply to an employer, including a minimum number of employees. There is also a similar federal statute.)

Pang argued that her help was needed by her mother because her mother could not move on her own due to her medical condition. In fact, the move itself was required by her medical condition.

Pang spent the time with her mother packing her personal belongings and arranging her furniture in her new residence. These were tasks her mother was unable to do herself. Therefore, Pang reasoned, her leave of absence should be covered by CFRA.

Pang’s employer argued that assisting a parent to move under these circumstances was not the same as “caring” for a parent under CFRA. The trial court agreed and dismissed Pang’s case. She appealed.

The appellate court noted that, although Pang’s mother had a variety of physical ailments, she was still able to care for herself. Pang did not travel to New York to assist in her mother’s medical care. Instead, she was there to help pack and to arrange furniture.

It was not enough, the court said, that Pang’s mother had a serious health condition. In order for CFRA to apply, Pang also had to show that it was necessary for her to provide care for her mother. Assisting in the move was not the type of care that qualifies for CFRA leave.

The court said that the term “care” in the CFRA statute means the kind of hands-on, daily care needed to help a person struggling with a serious medical or psychological condition. It would include administering medications, preparing meals, taking them to the doctor, and giving emotional support.

The appellate court decided that Pang was not entitled to the protections of CFRA. The trial court’s judgment dismissing her case was affirmed.
What is racial harassment in the workplace? What type of conduct will justify an award of money damages against an employer?
These are questions that many courts and attorneys have wrestled with in recent years as the legal concepts of racial harassment and discrimination have evolved.

Under the federal Civil Rights Act (often referred to as “Title VII”), it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (the “FEHA”) prohibits an employer from harassing an employee on the basis of race, sex, or other specified grounds.

Courts have been interpreting this language for years, in an effort to apply it to real life situations. For example, is one racial joke enough to constitute harassment? What if the person at whom the joke was directed took it as a joke and not seriously? What if a comment that seemed like a racial slur could also be interpreted in a non-racial way?

A recent California Court of Appeal decision has now offered some guidance in this area. The case is Robert Etter, Jr. v. Veriflo Corporation, an appeal from a Contra Costa County Superior Court judgment.

In that case, Mr. Etter, who is black, was employed by Kelly Temporary Services, which assigned him to work as a stockroom clerk at Veriflo Corporation. He worked in the same department as Anita Grigsby, a Veriflo employee. (It is unclear from the decision whether she was his supervisor, but my guess is that she probably was. As such, her actions would be the responsibility of Veriflo.)

Etter testified at trial that Grigsby made offensive racial comments to him during the six weeks he worked at Veriflo. He recalled that Grigsby used the word “Buckwheat” on two occasions and also called him “boy” almost daily. She also called him “Jemima” and “Stymie.”

Etter claimed these actions by Grigsby constituted racial harassment and that he should be awarded damages against Grigsby’s employer, Veriflo.

However, there was contrary evidence. Another black worker testified that Grigsby had used the term “boy,” but only in the context of, “You boys get back to work.” He did not find that offensive. He also heard her tell Etter that he looked like Aunt Jemima when he was wearing a bandanna on his head and Etter laughed.

Grigsby denied calling Etter “boy” instead of his name and denied calling him Jemima or Stymie. She testified that once when he talked of cutting his hair, she told him not to do it or he would look like Buckwheat. Etter responded by laughing. There was other similar contradictory testimony at trial.

The case was submitted to the jury and they rendered a unanimous verdict for the defendant. Plaintiff appealed.

On appeal the issue was whether the trial judge was wrong when he instructed the jury before they deliberated. He told them the conduct of the defendant must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the plaintiff’s employment.‘ Occasional, isolated, sporadic, or trivial acts of racial harassment were not enough to support a claim for damages.

Etter contended on appeal that the instruction was wrong because it made frequency of the conduct the determining factor. He argued that one isolated act, if it was severe enough, should be sufficient to support a claim for damages.

The court of appeal noted that the instruction was the same as the definition federal courts have used in deciding what conduct is enough to make a case under Title VII.

The court also noted that, until now, California appellate courtshave not addressed racial harassment in the workplace. However, in dealing with sexual harassment, they have looked at the nature of the sexual acts, the frequency, the total time during which the conduct occurs, and the context in which the conduct occurs.

The court decided that in order to support a claim for racial harassment under California law, the harassment must be “severe pervasive.” Frequency of the conduct is one factor to consider, but not the only one. A single incident of severe harassment may be sufficient. Less severe harassment, however, must be more than occasional, isolated incidents.

The court held that the trial judge’s instruction to the jury was a correct statement of the law. The judgment was affirmed.

This is the first California appellate court case that has addressed the definition of racial harassment under California‘ law. The case might still be appealed to the California Supreme Court, which would have the last say on the matter.

Needless to say, all racial harassment, however slight, is wrong and should never be tolerated by an employer. However, it is good to see a court dealing with this issue by setting forth reasonable, realistic guidelines that strive for fairness for all concerned.

Most employers reading this column will probably agree that the term “good cause” is an important term to understand, yet the meaning can be very elusive.
In employment situations, where there is a requirement that good cause exists before an employee can be terminated, failure to appreciate the meaning of the term can result in costly and unpleasant litigation.

A recent California court of appeal case has given employers some assistance in this area. The case, Soliz v. Great Western Bank, provides some guidance as to what constitutes good cause and how that term applies in the context of a workforce reduction.

The case involved a decision by Great Western, based on the recommendation of an outside consultant, to reduce staff in a particular department because of an expected decrease in workload.

In deciding which employees would be laid off, the bank said it considered overall job performance, the experience and skills of all employees in the department, and whether a particular employee worked well with the supervisor and other members of the work team.

Nine positions were eliminated, including the three employees who became the plaintiffs in this case. In their lawsuit, the three employees claimed that they had been wrongfully terminated because they had an agreement with the bank that they could only be terminated for good cause.‘ They disputed the bank’s stated reasons for deciding who would be laid off. They claimed they were selected only because they had been critical of their supervisor’s management style which, they said, was based on intimidation. They did not, however, disagree that the reason for the reduction in force was a business decision based on a reduced workload.

The trial court decided that Great Western had good cause to terminate the three employees and granted judgment in the bank’s favor. The employees appealed.

In its decision, the appellate court assumed that the bank was required to have good cause before terminating any of the plaintiffs. It then went on to discuss what good cause means.

Good cause, said the court, consists of a fair and honest reason, regulated by good faith. It does not involve reasons that are trivial or unrelated to business needs or goals. Good cause to terminate an employee can exist even where the employee is well-qualified and hard-working.

In this case, the bank decided to reduce its workforce, which was a legitimate business decision. Such a reduction in force constitutes good cause to terminate employees. Courts will not try to second-guess such business decisions.

The question remained, however, whether Great Western acted properly in selecting the three plaintiffs as employees to be laid off. The plaintiffs said it did not, because the real motivation behind the bank’s action was the personal animosity their supervisor had for them. The court of appeal disagreed. It said that in the absence of an agreement otherwise, an employer has the right to decide among employees to be laid off for any reason not prohibited by law. Such prohibited reasons would include illegal discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, or age.

A poor personal relationship with the supervisor did not make the plaintiffs’ termination an act of illegal discrimination. The court noted that such a relationship could infect the work atmosphere of the department and damage the quality and quantity of work performed. Thus, it would be a legitimate business reason for termination.

The judgment of the trial court was affirmed.

While this case appears to give employers a fair amount of legal leeway in terminating employees due to a reduction in force, such terminations can be risky, if not handled properly. In such cases, an advance consultation with an attorney experienced in employment law would be time well spent.

Employers seeking to make hiring and promotion decisions based on merit frequently use tests to establish a list of the most eligible candidates.
However, if such a test discriminates against a legally protected group of people, it is not valid and cannot be relied on. In legal terms, such discrimination is called a “disparate impact.”

Such an impact is usually shown by statistical studies whic h establish that the test has an adverse effect on a protected group. Although there may not be any intent to discriminate by using the test, in reality, the effect of the test is the same as intentional discrimination.

What happens, though, if a test is shown to discriminate against one protected group, but to throw it out would harm a member of another protected group?

As our society becomes more diverse, such situations are bound to happen. When they do, it is up to the courts to sort out the competing interests and arrive at a reasoned solution.

That is what happened in the recent California Court of Appeal case of Madeline Harris v. Civil Service Commission of the City and County of San Francisco.

Harris, a white female, was an employee of the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni). She took a written test to qualify for a promotion and scored number one, making her the first candidate on the eligibility list for promotion.

Meanwhile, the Transport Workers Union, Local 200, protested the test, claiming it had an adverse impact on African-American‘ applicants. They were able to show that only 26% of African-American men and 36% of African-American women passed the test. This was in contrast to passing rates of 73% for white men and 75% for white women.

Muni decided to cancel the test and the eligibility list prepared as a result of it.

Harris sued, challenging Muni’s action. She contended the test should not have been canceled because use of the test results could have served to correct past discrimination against another protected group (women) of which she was a member. Women, she said, were historically underrepresented in Muni management.

The appellate court reviewing the case said Harris’ position was both unwise and impractical. In a diverse population like San Francisco, many tests can be expected to benefit one or more groups while having adverse impacts on others. However, it would serve no useful purpose to help one protected group by imposing further disadvantages on another protected group.

If Harris’ claim were upheld, we could expect that nearly every test would result in a lawsuit by one group or another, and court-ordered directives on how the test results should be used, or whether they should be used at all. This would waste the time and resources of all involved, including the taxpayers who pay for the court system that would have to resolve such disputes.

The court held that just because Harris had a discrimination claim of her own, she had no right to benefit from discrimination against another protected group, and Muni’s decision to throw out the clearly objectionable test could not be considered discriminatory.

Our society is growing more complex, and the modern technology of our computer age now makes it possible to perform statistical and other analyses which a generation ago were impossible. As this occurs, courts are more and more called upon to become involved in complex issues which are not easily resolved.

The courts are society’s ultimate mechanism for dispute resolution. We should be mindful of the challenges they face as we move into the 21st century and see that they have the necessary support, including modern technological support, that will allow them to function effectively.
Employers that have policies against sexual harassment and deal promptly with complaints of such conduct are usually better able to defend against sexual harassment lawsuits by employees.
This was confirmed by a recent U.S. Court of Appeals case, Carrie Ann Montero v. AGCO Corporation. In that case, Montero sued AGCO and two of her supervisors, claiming that she had been subjected to a sexually hostile work environment.

AGCO, however, was able to defeat Montero’s lawsuit, largely because it had an anti-harassment policy in place and because its Human Resources Manager, Karin Rudin, responded promptly to Montero’s complaints.

Montero worked as a secretary for AGCO at their Stockton Parts Center. That facility was managed by a Warehouse Manager, Glenn Carpenter. There was also a Warehouse Supervisor, Russ Newman, who reported to Carpenter. Carpenter’s supervisor was Jamie Berk, who worked out of the company’s office in Illinois.

AGCO had a written policy prohibiting sexual harassment. Included in the policy was:

1. A definition of sexual harassment;

2. An indication of who an employee should contact if the employee was subjected to sexual harassment;

3. A statement of the disciplinary measures that the company might use in a harassment case; and

4. A statement that retaliation against someone complaining of sexual harassment would not be tolerated. The policy was contained in a handbook that was given to all employees and was also referred to in a separate memorandum given to employees.

On March 16, 1995, Montero contacted Rudin, who worked in the Illinois office, and complained that for almost two years she had been sexually harassed by Carpenter and Newman. Among other things, she said that Carpenter had used foul language around her, told her he was going to spank her, and rested his chin on her shoulder while she worked.

She said that Newman, among other things, had made sexually suggestive remarks and gestures, told her that he had sexual dreams about her, put his hand on her chair as she sat down and attempted to bite her neck.

Three days after Montero made her complaint, Rudin and Berk flew from Illinois to Stockton to investigate. They interviewed Montero, Carpenter and Newman, as well as other employees.

During her interview, Montero acknowledged that the harassment had stopped about four months earlier. Carpenter admitted during his interview that most of what Montero had said was true. Newman admitted some of the allegations and denied others.

Montero (apparently at her own request) was placed on paid administrative leave.

One week after the investigation began, Rudin terminated Carpenter’s employment and held a disciplinary conference with Newman. That same day, she told Montero that appropriate disciplinary measures had been taken, but that the specifics were‘ confidential. She also told Montero that all employees had beenstrongly warned that the company would not tolerate any retaliation against her for making her complaints.

Montero did not return to work and about four months later, she resigned. In response, Rudin wrote to Montero urging her to reconsider. She informed her that a new manager had been hired for the Stockton facility who would ensure that all employees were treated fairly.

About two months later, Montero filed her lawsuit. The District Court Judge (former Modesto attorney Frank C. Damrell, Jr.) dismissed the case. She appealed.

In analyzing the case on appeal, the court said it was significant that AGCO had a written policy against sexual harassment that was distributed to all employees. It was also significant that, although Montero thus knew of the process available to her for making a complaint, she delayed in doing so for almost two years after the harassment started.

The court said it was important that it took AGCO only 11 days to complete its investigation and take action on Montero’s complaints. It’s response, said the court, was “swift and certain.”

The court of appeals affirmed the decision of the district court. Although other considerations were involved as well, it appears that the appellate court was most impressed with the fact that AGCO had an anti-harassment policy and took quick action to enforce that policy.
You are a business owner seeking to hire some new workers. You’re tired of having to worry about being sued by your own employees, which seems to be more and more common these days.
You come up with a great idea: why not require all new employees to sign an agreement stating that they will never sue you? They’ll have to sign it, or you won’t hire them. This way, you’ll be protected from such lawsuits, right?

The answer is: no, you won’t be protected. However, you may give yourself an opportunity to learn about the legal concept of unconscionability, which can cause a contract to be unenforceable. This is an experience that an employer recently had in the case of Robert Ramirez III v. Circuit City Stores, Inc., decided by the California Court of Appeal.

Ramirez was employed by Circuit City installing equipment in automobiles. When he applied for the job, he was required to sign a “Dispute Resolution Agreement”, which stated, among other things, that he agreed he would never sue Circuit City as a participant in a class action lawsuit.

(Class actions typically are filed by a few plaintiffs as representatives of a large number of persons who were all allegedly wronged by a defendant in the same way. Settlements or verdicts in such cases are often large because of the number of people involved, although each individual plaintiff may have been damaged in only a small amount.)

After he became an employee, Ramirez filed such a lawsuit against Circuit City. He claimed that he and other employees‘ like him had been damaged by unfair business practices, such as not being paid overtime when they were entitled to such pay.

In response to the suit, Circuit City sought to enforce the terms of the Dispute Resolution Agreement. The trial court refused to enforce the agreement, stating, among other things, that the clause preventing class actions was unconscionable. Circuit City appealed.

The court of appeal, in deciding the case, discussed the doctrine of unconscionability. The doctrine, said the court, applies to contracts and the Dispute Resolution Agreement was a contract between Circuit City and Ramirez.

Unconscionable contracts typically involve parties that do not have equal bargaining power. One party, because of its superior bargaining position, is able to force the other party to agree to contract terms that are harsh and one-sided without any reasonable justification.

Here, Ramirez clearly had little bargaining power when he applied for a job with Circuit City. He had few marketable skills and needed the income. In order to get the job, he had no choice but to sign the agreement. He could, of course, have refused to take the job, but that would ignore the realities of the marketplace: people who need jobs have to take them when they are available.

Another aspect of Ramirez’ unequal bargaining position related to his lack of sophistication in legal matters. He most likely did not understand, when he signed the Dispute Resolution Agreement, what rights he was giving up.

Finally, the rights that Ramirez did give up were significant. The law allows employees to make claims such as those made by Ramirez in his class action suit. To prevent him from pursuing such claims because he signed the Dispute Resolution Agreement, would be a particularly harsh result.

The court of appeal agreed with the trial court’s decision that the contract clause was unconscionable. Therefore, it was not enforceable by Circuit City and could not be used to prevent Ramirez from pursuing his litigation.

Courts don’t often invoke the doctrine of unconscionability as a reason for not enforcing a contract. The vast majority of agreements between businesses, for instance, would probably not fall within the definition of the term.

However, employment law is one area where the doctrine is occasionally applied, because employers typically have much greater bargaining power than employees or job applicants. In order for employers to avoid running afoul of the doctrine, agreements with employees should be reasonable and fair, and clearly explained. This is probably just good business in any event.
People who get sued usually require an attorney to represent them. Attorneys, retained to represent such people, like to be paid for their work. Both of these statements are fairly obvious.
However, perhaps not so obvious is the answer to the following question: who is responsible for paying attorneys’ fees incurred by an employee of a business who is sued because of actions the employee took while on the job?

This issue was recently addressed by the California Court of Appeal in a case involving a lawsuit for sexual harassment between two co-workers. The case is Russell Jacobus v. Krambo Corporation.

Jacobus was employed by Krambo as their chief financial officer. He worked with, but did not directly supervise, a secretary named Rosie Vera-Aviles.

According to the decision of the court of appeal, Jacobus and Vera-Aviles had a friendly relationship at work. Over time, it may have become too friendly. They would frequently discuss their personal lives with each other at the office, including their sexual encounters.

Sexual joking and profanity were commonplace between them. On several occasions, Jacobus shared sexually-explicit written materials with Vera-Aviles, apparently at her request.

However, as sometimes happens in these office liaisons, a situation eventually arose where Jacobus and Vera-Aviles found themselves on opposite sides of a workplace issue. Jacobus received a complaint from a co-worker that Vera-Aviles was spending too much time on the phone. He relayed the complaint to the vice-president of Krambo. The vice-president and Jacobus then met with Vera-Aviles to discuss the complaint. The meeting did not go well, and Vera-Aviles became upset that her job performance was being questioned.

Later that same day, Vera-Aviles met privately with the vice-president and showed him some of Jacobus’ sexually-explicit notes. Four days later, she quit her job and filed a lawsuit against Jacobus and Krambo, seeking damages for sexual harassment.

Jacobus asked Krambo to pay for an attorney to defend him in the lawsuit. Krambo refused. Jacobus hired his own attorney and the case proceeded to trial. Jacobus contended during the trial that he did not sexually harass Vera-Aviles because she had consented to his conduct. The jury agreed and rendered a verdict in Jacobus’ favor.

Jacobus then sued Krambo to recover the attorneys’ fees he paid in defending Vera-Aviles’ lawsuit. The trial court dismissed his case and Jacobus appealed.

On appeal, the court pointed out that California Labor Code section 2802 applies to this situation. It requires employers to pay expenses incurred by employees that arise directly out of their job duties. The question to be decided was whether Jacobus’ conduct which led to Vera-Aviles’ lawsuit arose out of his job duties. The court stated that sexual harassment falls outside an employee’s job duties. However, the jury in the Vera-Aviles lawsuit decided that Jacobus’ actions did not amount to sexual harassment.

The jury decided that the interchanges between Jacobus and Vera-Aviles were done with the consent of both parties. Therefore, said the appellate court, they were more akin to the usual social interactions that occur in a modern office setting.

What’s more, said the court, Vera Aviles’ first complaint of sexual harassment occurred only hours after her job performance was questioned. As such, it seemed to be an effort by her to deflect criticism. The risk that a worker might accuse another of sexual harassment to deflect a bad performance review is a risk that employees must take these days as part of their job duties.

Therefore, the appellate court decided that Vera Aviles’ lawsuit against Jacobus arose out of Jacobus’ job related duties. Thus, Jacobus was entitled to have the attorneys’ fees spent by him in defending that suit paid by Krambo. The judgment of the trial court was reversed.

Another aspect of this case bears mentioning. There is just no good reason to engage in the type of conduct that Jacobus and Vera Aviles engaged in on the job.

While it may seem innocent and playful at the time, it is extremely dangerous. Had Vera Aviles handled her claim against Jacobus differently, she may have prevailed against him in court. Had that occurred, attorneys’ fees might have been the least of his worries.

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