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About Los Angeles Accident Center

Los Angeles Accident Center was created to provide useful information for anyone who has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence in Los Angeles and throughout the state of California. Author and attorney Sherwin Arzani and his team have over 17 years of personal injury experience. If you have been injured in accident, you will find useful information to assist you during this difficult time.


How to Find a Good Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney

Have you recently suffered an injury in a Los Angeles accident? You may be able to recover much-needed compensation by filing a personal injury claim for damages. The chances of being fairly compensated for your accident-related injuries increase when you hire an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney to represent you. There are thousands of personal injury attorneys in the Los Angeles area; how can you decide which one is best suited to handle your case? The attorneys at the Los Angeles Accident Center have created a list of suggestions to consider when you are searching for a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles.

Do an Online Search

The internet can be a wealth of information for accident victims. There are hundreds of different sites that offer information about local Los Angeles personal injury lawyers. While many of these websites can be great, some can prove to be more confusing than helpful. Try to stick to search engines, legal directories, and the California State Bar website when narrowing down your choice of attorney.

Search Engines

Search engines like Google and Yahoo can be a great way to learn about personal injury attorneys in your Los Angeles neighborhood. Use a search engine to conduct a broad search for terms like “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer,” “good personal injury lawyer near me,” or simply “Los Angeles accident lawyer.”

For even better results, try including the type of accident you were involved in and your personal neighborhood. If you were in a car accident in Glendale, try “Glendale car accident attorney.” If you were injured on the job in Ventura, try “Ventura worker’s compensation attorney.” The more specifics you include in your search, the more relevant the results will be.

Legal Directories

Legal directories are great, because they are generally easy to navigate and contain a lot of information about attorneys, including education, experience, publications, and contact information. Many of these directories have incorporated rating systems, which allow you to get a sense of what prior clients think about an attorney. Take the time to read these reviews, they can provide a lot of information that will be extremely helpful in narrowing down your search. You may feel great about an attorney’s background and education, only to find out that prior clients have been disappointed with his/her representation. Great legal directories for finding a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer include:

Los Angeles County Bar Association

The Los Angeles County Bar Association website can be great if you need help finding an attorney. The website has a referral system to match clients with prescreened and qualified attorneys. The process, which is fairly easy to use, requires you to:

  • Choose the type of attorney you need to hire;
  • Indicate your preferred language;
  • Provide contact information; and
  • Explain your legal issue.

The referral service will then match you to relevant attorneys in your area.

California State Bar

Always check the California State Bar website for information about an attorney you’re thinking about hiring. This is where you can find official information about an attorney’s education, experience, and areas of specialization.

Request a Free Consultation

Most Los Angeles personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation for prospective clients. Once you have narrowed your search for an attorney down to a few you should ask to meet with them in person. During a free consultation the attorney will begin by giving you an overview of their experience and try to explain why they are well-suited to represent you. You will have an opportunity to explain why you want to pursue a legal claim and listen to their candid thoughts about your case.

Prepare For Your Free Consultation

Don’t walk into a free consultation without doing a little bit of homework. This includes checking out the attorney online and reading up about your type of accident injury case. The more information you have walking into the consultation, the better equipped you will be to have a frank conversation about your legal needs.

Ask Questions to Learn More

During your free consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask the attorney you are meeting with a series of questions. The questions you ask should help you to determine if you would be comfortable and confident hiring that attorney. Questions that you should be prepared to ask during a free consultation with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney include:

  • How long have you been practicing as a personal injury attorney?
  • Do you practice personal injury law exclusively?
  • Have you ever been disciplined by the California State Bar?
  • Have you handled other cases like mine?
  • How many jury trials have you handled?
  • Are you confident in the courtroom or do you prefer to negotiate cases before trial?
  • What verdicts and settlements have you recovered in the past?
  • How much do you think my case is worth?
  • How much are your legal fees?

Consider What is Important to You

What is the most important characteristic of the attorney you hire to handle your Los Angeles personal injury claim? Is there a specific factor that will lead to you hire one attorney over another? There are many things to consider when you are hiring a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, and you will have to decide which are most important to you. This answer will help you decide which attorney is best-suited to handle your case.

Personality

You don’t have to be best friends with your attorney, but you do have to trust them. It is important to choose an attorney who you would feel comfortable confiding in. Details can make or break a case, so it is important to be as detailed as possible when discussing your case with your attorney. When you are meeting with an attorney during your free consultation try to assess whether you feel comfortable and confident when speaking with them.

Cost

Most Los Angeles personal injury lawyers will take your case in exchange for a percentage of any compensation you recover. However, this is not always the case. Even when it is, this percentage will vary from case-to-case. Many times, this percentage can range anywhere from 25 percent to 40 percent of your compensation. A personal injury attorney will consider the type of case, complexity of the case, and value of the case when deciding the percentage they will take in any given case. Ask the attorney you meet with to give you a firm offer and to disclose any hidden fees (e.g., court costs, deposition fees, etc.) that may be linked to your case.

Experience

Some Los Angeles personal injury attorneys have decades of experience under their belt. They have handled thousands of cases and know the Los Angeles court system like the back of their hand. Maybe they’ve been practicing for so long that they have earned a reputation with local insurance companies and judges. This can be of great value to you when you hire that attorney to represent you.

However, this experience may also come at a cost. Established attorneys may charge more than attorneys with less experience. Just because an attorney does not have a significant amount of experience does not mean that they are not qualified to handle your case or that they will be any less effective. You will have to weigh the importance of experience when deciding which attorney is best for you.

Contact the Los Angeles Accident Center

Have you been injured in an accident in Los Angeles? Contact the Los Angeles Accident Center today to find out if you have a viable legal claim for damages. We will review your case, explain your rights, and answer any questions you have. You have a limited amount of time to act after an accident, so do not hesitate to call us today.

When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you have high medical bills or emotional pain from a recent injury, you may be wondering if there is a way to recover compensation. The best way to find this out is to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can walk you through the facts of your injury and determine if you have a case. It can be hard to know when to go to a lawyer or even how to choose the right one.

Here are a few tips to help you decide.

What is Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law is a part of tort law. These cases are heard in civil courts, not criminal courts. There is an injured party who seeks to get a legal remedy, called damages, for losses that occurred because of the injury. This is usually a monetary remedy, but there can be other forms of relief.

Common types of personal injury cases include:

  • Car accidents
  • Other transportation accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Slip and fall
  • Construction accidents
  • Premise liability
  • Defective products
  • Wrongful death
  • Nursing home abuse, and
  • Workplace accidents.

These injuries can be intentional or accidental. However, a good lawyer should be able to help you recover regardless of how and why the injury occurred.

How Do Personal Injury Cases Work?

Every injury and the facts surrounding it are different. However, all personal injury cases have several similarities. First, all cases have both liability and damages. For liability, there has to be a defendant – a person that the injured can sue. This person must have done something to cause harm to the injured. It doesn’t have to be a direct cause. For example, the defendant could be the owner of a company that produced and sold a defective product.

For damages, the point is to make the injured whole and like they were before the injury. This can include compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering, and
  • Wrongful death.

It can also include punitive damages in some states like California which are intended to punish the defendant, rather than make the injured whole. Many states have damage caps where recovery of monetary amounts is limited depending on the injury.

When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you are injured, one of the first things you need to consider is if you should hire a personal injury lawyer. Even if you are not sure if you have a case, consulting with an attorney is always a good idea. They know the law and can help you determine if you can recover any damages. Many personal injury lawyers offer low-cost or free first consultations.

The main thing to remember is that almost all personal injury claims have a time limit. In legalese, this is called the statute of limitations. For example, in California, you have three years or less from the date of injury to file a claim for medical malpractice. For car or other accidents, it is generally limited to two years. As with all law, there are complicated exceptions. A lawyer can help you sort through these to see if any of them apply to you.

A final factor is whether you have to deal with insurance companies. The large insurance companies deal with claims all day and have legal representation. You shouldn’t have to compete with them on your own, and you deserve your own representation. The insurance company is not your advocate and they are focused on closing your claim quickly and paying the least amount of money. Hiring a personal injury lawyer to help you through your insurance claim will assure that you are well represented and get the compensation you need to pay your bills.

Are There Any Other Considerations?

You are not legally required to hire a lawyer for a personal injury claim in California. You can represent yourself in smaller claims or for minor injuries. However, representing yourself is not an excuse for not knowing the law or missing deadlines. The court will expect you to know what you are doing, and you will not be given any leeway if you decide to represent yourself.

When looking for a lawyer, make sure to do your due diligence. Look at their website and make sure they have experience in your type of injury. Read their reviews online from former clients. Also, when you first meet with them, have a list of questions prepared to ask. Find out their track record with cases similar to yours. Ask if they prefer to seek settlements or do they go to court.

Finally, take note of how the lawyer makes you feel. This person will be representing you and you want to make sure they are a good fit and that you trust them to make decisions on your behalf.

What is Direct Examination?

TV shows and movies that take place in a courtroom put a heavy emphasis on closing statements at the end of a trial. The lawyers make their dramatic final pleas and set the case up for a fruitful and satisfying ending for viewers. However, what is rarely shown are the other parts of the trial that make the closing statements possible.

What is Direct Examination?

One of these important parts is direct examination of a witness. Cases are won and lost on excellent or poor direct examination performances. Direct examination is a sequence of open-ended questions by an attorney. They are directed at a witness who has been called to give testimony in the case. The point of direct examination is to show who the witness is and develop the facts in a logical sequence.

Direct examination allows the witness to tell a story. It is up to the attorney to make sure that the story is told in a way that is beneficial to their side of the case. To do this, the attorney needs to do their due diligence and research the witness to make sure that the questions asked tell the story they want to be heard. You do not want to be surprised at trial when a witness offers too much, not enough, or conflicting information.

Who are the Witnesses?

There are several types of witnesses that can be called for direct examination. The main three are eyewitness, character witness, and expert witness. An eyewitness saw something that is relevant to the case. In a personal injury case, they may have seen the accident or even been in the car with either the accused or the injured.

A character witness gives testimony about the character of someone in the trial. These are generally only called for criminal trials or if someone’s reputation is being questioned during a civil trial. The rules of evidence can be tricky to understand as they apply to character witnesses, so it is a good idea to find an attorney who knows how and when to call them.  

An expert witness is someone who has knowledge about something that is not commonly known by the judge or jury. Common examples are:

  • Handwriting
  • Fingerprint
  • Evidence, or
  • Weapons experts at a criminal trial.

For a civil trial, doctors, nurses, and scientists are often called. They provide an opinion that is based on the facts of the case and their relevant background. They draw a conclusion and compare it to what happened in the actual case.

What Are the Rules of Direct Examination?

In California, the rules of direct examination of a witness are found in the California Evidence Code. There are some different rules for questioning expert witnesses, but the types of questions that may be asked are similar.

Leading should not be used during direct examination. These are questions that are suggestive of what answer is wanted in the actual question itself. It may be impossible to exclude all leading questions, but the practice should be used sparingly.

There is a difference between direct examination and cross-examination. Direct examination is done by the attorney that called the witness to court. In contrast, cross-examination is when the opposing side’s lawyer, the one who did not call the witness, gets to ask questions. These questions are more direct, usually resulting in yes or no answers. The purpose is to impeach the witness or make them seem less credible.

Common Direct Examination Questions

Common direct examination questions are generally asked first. The purpose of this is to lay the groundwork to establish who the witness is and why they are relevant to the case. 

The basic questions are usually who, what, where, when, and why issues. Examples of basic questions include:

  • What is your full name?
  • Where do you live?
  • Where do you work?
  • How do you like your job?
  • What is your educational background?
  • How many children do you have?
  •  What is your expertise in this subject? (For expert witnesses)

If it is a jury trial, these questions also help jurors relate to the witness which can be beneficial to the outcome of the case. 

More In-Depth Direct Examination Questions

Once the lawyer has asked the basic questions that allow the witness to present their background, it is common that the lawyer will ask more in-depth questions. These questions often relate to the case directly.

For example, the lawyer may ask the witness where they were on a certain day at a certain time. The lawyer can also ask the witness to describe how they were feeling or what they saw or experienced.

Once the lawyer has completed their questioning, the opposing side will be given a chance to cross-examine. It is here that the lawyer will be able to see if their direct examination techniques hold up or if the opposing counsel is able to poke holes in their witness’s testimony. 

 

Driving is an incredibly popular yet inherently dangerous activity. To operate a vehicle safely requires your full attention. Anything that takes the focus off the road can lead to an accident. This includes things like eating, looking at your navigation system, talking on your cell phone, or even having a heated conversation with a passenger.

By the numbers, distracted driving causes over 3,000 deaths per year. Texting while driving is the most troubling of all forms of distracted driving. It reportedly takes your attention off of the road for at least 5 seconds. For that reason, a number of states and cities are passing regulations aimed at cracking down on this form of distracted driving.

The Hands-Free Law in Austin

The city of Austin passed an ordinance to curb distracted driving-related accidents in 2015. The ordinance prohibits the use of electronic hand-held devices while driving a car or operating another vehicle, such as a motorcycle or motorhome. Failure to comply with the law can result in a fine of up to $500. Things can get worse if you get into a car accident in Austin while texting.

Included in the definition of hand-held devices are cell phones, laptops, personal digital assistants, music players, GPS/navigation systems, gaming devices and pagers. Unpermitted use of these electronics includes any activity that requires the driver to touch the device. Examples would be dialing phone numbers, viewing images, browsing websites, sending or reading texts, and playing games.

However, the ordinance does allow for the use of these devices in cases of emergency. But, the driver would be required to first bring the vehicle to a complete stop before engaging with the device. 

Now, it is important to note that this law does not apply to passengers. Further, hands-free devices used by the driver are permitted. An example would be a cell phone call connected through Bluetooth and utilizing the vehicle’s speakers.

Additional Texas Laws on Distracted Driving

The state of Texas has also made efforts to reduce distracted driving. In 2017, the state passed a law that completely bans texting while driving. Further, the law states that if a texting-related accident results in death or serious bodily injury, the texter can be charged with a misdemeanor. The misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 or up to one year of jail time.

It is important to note that this law only applies to reading, writing, or sending electronic messages. This means that it does not regulate other forms of distracted driving, such as using a GPS system or talking on the phone.

Keep in mind that the law places a few other limits on the use of electronic devices while operating a vehicle. Drivers are not allowed to use hands-free devices in school zones. Further, drivers under the age of 18 and school bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones for calls or texts, even hands-free devices.

Distracted Driving Laws in Los Angeles

Similar to Texas, California has passed a few laws related to distracted driving. Except in cases of emergency, California drivers may not use hand-held devices while driving. The fine for violation of this statute ranges from $20-$50. However, note that these violations do not result in points being added to your driving record.

Now, drivers in California are generally permitted to use hands-free devices. The exception would be if you are under 18 years of age. Minors are completely barred from using cell phones while driving. There is also a separate law that bans texting while driving. Fines for violating this statute start at $20.

Comparison of Distracted Driving Laws

As you can see, states are grappling with the question of how to encourage distraction-free driving. Many have passed laws to punish distracted driving, using both fines and even jail time in some cases. The main variation across state lines appears to be the severity of the punishment.  

At present, the city of Austin and the state of Texas have stricter regulations than California. In fact, the fines for using hand-held devices in Austin are nearly tenfold higher than in Los Angeles. Further, Texas has a much harsher criminal penalty if an accident results from a driver texting. 

Now, given the number of drivers on the road in Los Angeles, there is a lot at stake with simply maintaining the status quo. Instead, motorists could benefit from stricter penalties like those enacted in Austin and Texas. These laws would help deter dangerous and potentially deadly distracted driving behaviors.