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Strict Liability and Dog Bites: What Does it Mean?

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Dog bite law throughout all states is typically very similar. However, where the legal rules for dog bites start to become a bit muddled is in the liability. In California, the state follows strict liability laws. This means that liability for a dog bite case cannot be disputed. If a dog bites someone, it is the owners fault and they are held liable except in some very small exceptions.

Strict Liability of Dog Bites

It used to be that California had a "first bite free" rule, as many called it. This rule basically stated that victims could not receive monetary compensation from a dog owner unless the dog has a history documenting a vicious nature. This otherwise means, they could not get compensation unless the dog had already bitten someone.

However, that rule has since been replaced by strict liability. Now, a victim of a dog bite who was bitten in a public place or a private residence where they were lawfully permitted (such as being invited over) can receive compensation for a bite regardless of previous viciousness or lack thereof. Furthermore, under strict liability, you do not have to prove any owner negligence as you may have to in other states outside of California.

This law was created in order to make sure that owners always abide by their duty of care to prevent a dog from biting. Since the victim has no need to prove negligence, but rather liability will always automatically be placed on the owner, it provides compensation for injuries and encourages more discretion to prevent bites on the part of the owner.

When Does Strict Liability Not Apply?

Section 3342 under the California Civil Code details the strict liability of dog bites. However, it also details the small exceptions in which strict liability does not apply. This means that if the victim was in breach of these small exceptions, then strict liability is not applied to the owner. In the case of these exceptions, the victim will be responsible for their own injuries.

Exceptions to Strict Liability include:

  • Trespassing - If you invite someone over, you as the owner are liable for your dog. However, if someone is on your property without your knowledge or invitation, then you are not responsible for the event of a dog attack as the owner. Of course, this does not apply to those that have reason to be there, such as postal workers.
  • Occupational Hazard - Also known as the veterinarian's rule, veterinarians, groomers, and everyone that works in a profession where they are around many dogs has a reasonable assumption of risk that they may get bitten. They are trained to take precautions against this, and as such, the owner surrenders their responsibility to them. If a veterinarian or other dog professional gets bit, it is an occupational hazard and not the owner's responsibility. However, it is still the owner's responsibility to warn the professional if the dog has been aggressive lately or has bitten in the past. By informing them, they know to take appropriate preventive action.

Been Bit in California?

Have you been the victim of a dog bite in California? Then it is extremely likely that the owner can be held liable for your injuries that were the result of their dog. However, while you have a strong case for compensation for your injury, you still need someone to represent you throughout the process. If you have been bite by a dog and you need compensation for you injuries, contact us today. Let the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman help walk you through the process so you can get compensation that your injuries require.


Wrongful Death of an Unborn Child: A Complicated Civil Suit

Thursday, February 08, 2018


Wrongful death suits are a fairly common recourse for those who lose a loved one to an accident that should never have happened in the first place. Even if what happened was not illegal in the criminal sense, you still lost someone important to you, and there should be recompense for that. It's hard enough when the loss is a partner or a parent, but when it's a child that loss can be devastating. Even worse, perhaps, is the loss of an unborn child. Worse, that kind of wrongful death is rarely the kind of open and shut case a parent may be expecting. Which is why if you're planning on pursuing a suit for the wrongful death of an unborn child, you should know what you're getting into.

The Basics of Wrongful Death

According to The Free Legal Dictionary, the idea of a wrongful death suit is pretty straightforward. It is defined as, "the taking of the life of an individual resulting from the willful or negligent act of another person or persons."

That might sound complicated, but in legal terms, it's actually quite simple. In order for a suit like this to be brought, someone has to die, and that death has to be the direct result of another person's (or persons') willful act or negligence. So, for example, if someone gets behind the wheel, and then an axle breaks, resulting in a car accident that causes a death, that was not a deliberate action by the driver. It was a technical malfunction that led to an unfortunate result. In another scenario, though, say the car was in perfect working order, but the driver was impaired. Perhaps he was too tired to operate his vehicle effectively, or he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because he chose to get into the vehicle, and the accident was a result of that impairment, that means the resulting death could be considered a wrongful death.

Life is rarely so straightforward, though. Determining the wrongful death of an independent person, child or adult, is hard enough. When we try to determine the wrongful death of an unborn child, though, things get complicated.

Wrongful Death of an Unborn Child

In order for a wrongful death suit to have any chance of success, there has to be a clear line drawn between the incident in question, and the resulting death. Take the impaired driving example above. If there was a child in a car seat, and that child died as a result of the accident, that would be a clear case for a wrongful death suit. The child was just fine before the accident, caused by the deliberate actions of another person.

When we start bringing in unborn children, though, a slew of other factors get involved in the case. First and foremost is the question of whether or not an unborn child is a person in the eyes of the law. This will vary from state to state, and it's important to review the jurisdiction where the incident occurred. According to the Sacramento Injury Attorneys Blog, 40 states currently have laws that recognize an unborn child in the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, but each law has its own specifics that must be met in order for the case to be considered valid.

The next difficulty is proving that it was this particular act which led to the unborn child's death. This is significantly more complicated because there are dozens of factors that can lead to the premature termination of a pregnancy, and all of them have to be discounted in order to prove the incident was the cause. This can be particularly difficult if the unborn child's status at the time of the incident wasn't known, and there's no one who can testify as to whether the fetus was healthy, or if there were problems that could have contributed to the death.

A Difficult, But Not Always Impossible Case

Bringing a wrongful death suit is hard, and bringing one for the wrongful death of an unborn child can be even harder. However, just because a case is complex, or difficult to win, does not mean that it's impossible. It simply means that you need to adjust your expectations and look at the facts before you. Something which is not always easy to do, particularly when grieving for a loss like an unborn child.

If you are considering bringing a wrongful death suit for an unborn child, it's important to collect all of the information surrounding the incident. You need to have the details of what happened, who was responsible, and you need to have your unborn child's status confirmed. Most importantly, though, you need to present your case to a lawyer with experience in bringing these kinds of suits who can advise you on your chances. This can be particularly important if you need to bring this kind of suit in one of the states where the wrongful death of an unborn child either isn't recognized or will be extremely difficult to bring before the court.

Losing an unborn child can be a traumatizing experience, and if there is a way for you to be compensated for that, you should be. If you need assistance finding your way through these troubled waters, all you have to do is contact us today to speak with one of our experienced legal professionals.

How Truck Accidents Differ From Standard Auto Accidents

Thursday, February 01, 2018


Accidents between automobiles happen every day, and in most cases, they are pretty straight-forward. Unusually one party is at least mostly responsible and their insurance covers the damages of the other party. Unfortunately, if you have been involved in an accident with a truck, you will fight getting that coverage for your damages, and your injuries will be just ever so more likely complex. This is why when in an accident with a truck, there are a few extra things to consider.

Extra Factors in Truck Accidents

The most obvious new factors to consider are that trucks are much bigger than cars and are often hauling heavy loads of freight. Obviously, this will result in more serious accidents for the auto driver involved while the truck might be relatively unscathed. Bigger injuries, bigger damages, and because of that, bigger costs are involved. However, if those were the only factors to consider, truck accidents would still be more straight-forward, the problem lies with the lesser known factors to consider in trucking accidents.

Dealing With Bigger Insurance Policies

Unlike your standard auto policy, the insurance policy on a commercial truck is much larger due to the size of the vehicle and the amount of damage that one can inflict on a smaller vehicle. As these insurance policies can be worth so much more to those involved in an accident, the insurance company will put infinitely more effort in escaping liability.

You can be assured when dealing with an insurance adjuster in charge of the truck's insurance, they will be their most experienced employee and well-versed in complex tactics to leave you with nothing or, at least, much less than you deserve.

Different Regulations

As trucks often work interstate, the company will be under the thumb of a number of different regulations administered by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Regulations dictate specific maintenance of the truck, inspections, and logbooks of the driver. These regulations are many and complex in nature, which can open up new avenues for compensation, but also make determining liability for the uninformed motorist very difficult.

Multiple Liabilities

As mentioned above, the many regulations that govern trucks mean that it might not just be the truck driver that is liable. The truck driver might have been on the road too long by falsifying their log book, but the trucking company could have also been neglectful in their maintenance or inspections that lead to malfunctions. Furthermore, if a specific part was faulty, the manufacturer of the truck can also bear some of the blame.

For this reason, you need to be diligent in determining what caused the accident and who can be held liable for it, or otherwise cut yourself off from potential compensation. This is where the help of a skilled attorney comes in.

Need Legal Representation?

While standard auto accidents can benefit from legal representation, it becomes a must for trucking accidents. While lawyers who handle auto accidents also do trucking accidents, dealing with trucking accidents often requires slightly more experience. A good truck accident lawyer will know how to navigate the complex waters of trucking regulation to find true liability and they will also be well-versed in the new tactics that trucking insurance will employ in order to escape paying you what you are owed.

If you were involved in an accident with one of the many trucks that use the roadways in the Los Angeles area, contact us today. Let the Law Firm of Freeman & Freeman put our years of experience to work making sure your likely substantial damages are covered in full so you aren't stuck with the bill.


Can Non-Family File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

In most cases of wrongful death, it is the family that is left behind that will pursue justice for their death in the form of a wrongful death suit. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a family. Sometimes, they may even outlive all of their family members. However, when someone suffers a wrongful death and they have no living family, is there anyone that can pursue justice for them?

Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Case?

In California, there is actually quite the long list of people that can pursue a wrongful death case after the death of a loved one. This includes the obvious heirs such as spouses, children, parents, as well as domestic partners. This goes further to include anyone that was dependent on the deceased at the time of death including putative spouses, stepchildren, or anyone that depended financially on them.

However, in most of these cases, these heirs are related by marriage if not by blood. Yet, what if they had no one like that in their life? The truth is a wrongful death case can be pursued if you are a distant relative or someone completely non-blood related that stood to inherit from their estate after death due to the wishes outlined in their will.

Pursuing Wrongful Death as a Non-Blood Relative

If the deceased passed away with no family to pursue a wrongful death case, those who stood to inherit from their estate can press their estate representative to pursue a wrongful death case. In these situations, any winnings from a wrongful death suit will go into the estate of the deceased and split among their heirs.

This does mean that if you are an heir and was the only one who was pushing for a wrongful death suit, you will only inherit a portion of the monetary winnings from the suit. The other heirs, no matter how indifferent they were, will still also get a split as the entire sum goes into their estate and will be divided evenly during the probate process.

What if there are Multiple Eligible Parties Seeking a Wrongful Death Suit?

Suppose that not only you, but other inheritors are interested in pressing a wrongful death suit for the deceased. If there is no living spouse, children, or parents, then all non-related interested parties can still pursue the claim, but they will all be lumped together through the estate representative. Again, the proceeds will also be evenly split regarded of their interest in pursuing a wrongful death claim.

It is the same for two different eligible blood-related parties. The claims will be lumped together as one case and all interested parties will be added on as plaintiffs to the singular case. However, if the disagreement is had between two eligible parties, two separate cases can be pursued. It is, unfortunately, not the same between interested non-related parties as they still just go through the estate representative.

Need Legal Help?

As you can tell, if you are not related to the deceased, but believe they were the victim of wrongful death, pursuing a case for them isn't going to be easy and isn't going to be as valuable. However, you will still get them justice and by winning you strike a great victory for their remaining heirs. If you believe the owner of the estate from which you are inheriting from in Los Angeles was the victim of wrongful death, contact us today to see what we can do for you. While the case will ultimately go through the estate representative, we can still help you discover its validity and strength beforehand.

What to Expect From a Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer

Thursday, January 11, 2018

When seeking a lawyer for any case, particularly a personal injury case, you will find that they offer free consultations for your case before you even commit to choosing them. Even we here at Freeman & Freeman offer free consultations in all areas of law that we cover. However, if it is your first time ever contacting a lawyer, you may not know what to expect from these consultations. Everyone likes to know what they are getting into the first time they ever do something, so if you are considering a free consultation with a potential lawyer, here is what you can expect from the experience.

What is a Free Consultation For?

A consultation for a personal injury case might be more apt to be called a getting to you know meeting for both sides. These consultations typically last for about 30 minutes to an hour in which the potential client will meet with their potential lawyer.

During this time, the client will give a description of what happened, what injuries occurred, and why they want to pursue a personal injury case. During this time, the attorney's only job is to listen and then give feedback on the validity of a potential case. Essentially, they want to hear about your case first to see if you actually do have one. If you don't, they will let you know and let you know why it is not valid in the eyes of personal injury law. This will save you a lot of wasted time and legal fees in the end. However, if your case is valid, they will want to proceed further to see how strong it is. Even clients that think they might have a weak case could very well have a stronger one with the right evidence.

What to Bring To a Consultation?

A personal injury case consultation isn't just about discovering validity in your case, but it is also about discovering how strong that case will be. This is why when heading into a personal injury consultation, even though you are not technically meeting with your lawyer yet, you should bring as much documentation as possible in with you. While it is possible to bring in too many documents, having everything your potential lawyer could ever need to see is never a bad thing.

At very least, for the initial consultation you should bring:

  • Medical Records - Your medical records should record any injuries that resulted from the incident and the treatment or procedures that your doctor administered. These records should also include the cost of the care and contact information for those that treated you.
  • Police Report - The police report will explain what happened and give a number of crucial details including if anyone was breaking the law or contact information for witnesses. Essentially it proves what you believe happened, did actually happen.
  • Insurance Policy Information - This will let the lawyer know what your insurance policy does or doesn't cover.

This is just the very bare minimum. You can also consider bringing records of any correspondence between you and the other party, pay stubs that prove you had to miss work and pay because of the accident, or any other legal documents that the other parties lawyer may have sent over.

How Does a Consultation End?

If it is shown you have a valid case, your lawyer will then begin the other half of the consultation in which they essentially sell themselves to you. A good personal injury lawyer will want you to feel both comfortable with them and confident in their abilities. They will also end the consultation by going over a potential game plan and including the cost and any fees associated with the process. They will be there to answer all your questions and hope you choose them, but even if you want to shop around for legal counsel, anything you disclosed in that consultation is still protected by attorney-client privilege.

If you have been injured in the Los Angeles area and are looking for a personal injury lawyer, contact us today. Freeman & Freeman can help look over your case and build your confidence in our free consultations.

Office Locations

21900 Burbank Boulevard
Third Floor
Woodland Hills, CA 91367-7418

P: 818-992-2919
F: 818-992-2940

From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.