Practice Areas

Wrongful Death

What constitutes “wrongful death”?
These claims arise when a person dies as a direct result of another person or entity’s negligence or wrongful actions. Wrongful death claims are statutory in nature; they can only be asserted by survivors (or representatives) of the deceased who may or may not have witnessed the events leading to the death.

Survivors may launch a civil claim even with an active criminal case moving forward simultaneously.

What damages can be recovered in wrongful death cases?
Damages can be substantial with a successful case and may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical bills related to deceased person's final illness or injury
  • Lost income, including potential income the deceased person would reasonably have been expected to earn had he or she survived
  • The value of household services
  • Loss of anticipated financial support
  • Loss of love, community, attention, affection, moral support and guidance

What should you do?

. California law requires wrongful death claims to be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death, and sooner is better to mount an effective prosecution. If the case is not filed in within two years, your family could lose the right to file a case at all.

Vehicular Accidents

When should I file a vehicle (traffic) accident claim?
Many auto accidents can be resolved directly between drivers and their insurance companies. But when the parties involved disagree on each other’s extent of liability, resolution should be sought in court with competent legal counsel.

If you are a passenger (not a driver) involved in a traffic accident you may be entitled to damages under personal injury law should your driver be found liable for the accident.

What damages can be collected in vehicle accident cases?
Should insurance settlements prove insufficient (or unavailable) to cover costs and damages, the court may award additional funds to cover:

  • Medical bills, present and future, related to injuries caused by the accident
  • Lost income, including potential income you reasonably  expected to earn had the accident not taken place
  • Property damage to your vehicle and/or possessions
  • Emotional distress compensation (pain, suffering, and inconvenience)

What should you do?

If you are involved in a traffic accident and able to photograph the scene, report the accident and do so immediately. The police will also collect written and photographic evidence, but the better your documentation the more likely a settlement is to swing in your favor. If you are unable to do this (IE, have serious injuries or do not have a camera/phone with you), you’ll need to rely on the police’s records.

If there is a dispute between drivers over who is at fault and to what extent, you should not rely exclusively on insurance companies (who may offer an unsatisfactory settlement to begin with, though it may be faster than going to court) – to explore your options and potentially reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

Pedestrian/Bicycle Accidents

How do pedestrian and bicycle accident claims work?
These claims are a type of personal injury claim most likely filed when you are struck by a vehicle, although they are sometimes tied to premises liability claims in the case of unsafe/defective environments. If the driver is found liable, you are most likely to receive damages via their insurance company – and depending on your own automotive insurance policy’s coverage, sometimes your own.  Additional damages may sometimes be awarded; the defendant will be required to pay these out-of-pocket costs if their insurance does not cover the full amount awarded by the court or settlement.

What damages can be recovered in pedestrian/bike accident claims?

  • Medical bills related to injuries caused by the accident, present and future
  • Lost income, including potential income you reasonably  expected to earn had the accident not taken place
  • Property damage expenses
  • Emotional distress compensation (pain, suffering, and inconvenience)

What should you do?

In serious pedestrian or bicycle accidents, do not delay in filing these claims – or assign a representative to do so as soon as you are able. An investigation into liability may be necessary and these are best performed as promptly as possible to ensure you are awarded the full damages to which you are entitled. And make no mistake – although it’s difficult to gauge “pain” in terms of “dollars” you are entitled to collect damages because the suffering you will experience cannot be reversed. The only possible restitution is a financial settlement.

In less serious cases concerning only minor injuries, you may be able to deal with the insurance companies directly to ensure your medical bills are paid.

Premises Liability

What is a premises liability claim?
These claims are typically filed in personal injury cases where the injury was directly caused by unsafe, damaged, defective, or ill-maintained conditions located on private property. They are usually based on negligence, e.g. when a tour operator fails to use reasonable care in maintaining equipment or conditions to an acceptable safety standard or a homeowner allows a property to fall into disrepair; when injuries could have been prevented by doing so.

What are some examples of premises liability cases?
People have a reasonable expectation of safety when using or visiting privately-owned property, even as a trespasser and owners have a defined duty of care to provide it. Premises liability can involve:

  • Fire and flooding
  • Attraction accidents (parks, pools, playgrounds, etc.)
  • Inadequate premises security leading to injury/assault
  • Defective conditions or equipment on any private premises
  • Slips and falls leading to injury, including snow/ice accidents
  • Toxic conditions (chemicals and fumes)
  • Inadequate maintenance of private premises

What should you do?

These claims have a surprisingly broad bases ranging from wet floors to hidden cords, defective structures, and much in between. If you believe you or someone you know has been injured or become ill due to a property owner’s violation of the duty of care, you should to determine whether you have grounds to file a claim and collect damages – in California, the majority of premises liability cases settle before trial.

Medical Malpractice

On what basis can I file a medical malpractice claim in California?
These claims are filed when a patient is directly harmed by the action or inaction of medical professionals including doctors, nurses, dentists, and others. Surgical errors, avoidable infections, misdiagnoses, medical negligence, lack of informed consent to a procedure and many other circumstances all constitute grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

There are a great number of different medical malpractice claims which hold different parties liable and require different investigatory procedures. If you are a medical layperson, the best and often only way to determine if you have grounds to file one or more to consult an attorney specializing in these cases as soon as possible.

What should you do?

Whether the case involves you or someone you know (either living or deceased as a result of suspected medical malpractice) to determine the eligibility of your claim. Although sometimes symptoms may not appear immediately (e.g. in the case of a substandard surgery), the defense will most likely attempt to show that the victim would have reasonably discovered the injury or illness prior to filing the case, which decreases the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims and can even negate them altogether.

Workplace Harassment and Discrimination

What is workplace harassment or discrimination?
These claims are filed when you have been treated unfavorably in the workplace: harassed by a coworker or employer or discriminated against by same, and you feel the company or its representative(s) have been negligent in investigating, documenting, and resolving the situation appropriately, thereby violating your rights to safety, security, and equality as an employee.

When should you file a workplace harassment or discrimination claim?
Workplace claims can range from harassment, sexual or otherwise, and assault to racial/religious/gender discrimination whether overt or covert. Examples include:

  • Racial, national, disability, age, or gender discrimination
  • Physical assaults, from minor to severe
  • Verbal, sexual or other harassment
  • Intentional mental abuse
  • Any unwanted conduct based on a protected trait

What should you do?

Immediately inform your employer of the unwanted activity. They have a duty to protect your rights, wellbeing, and safety in the workplace. Do NOT allow the situation to continue or wait for it to escalate. If the issue is not resolved (or if the employer themselves is the source of the conduct), remove yourself from the situation if at all possible and to determine if you have grounds to file a case and collect damages.

Insurance Disputes

When should I file an insurance dispute claim?
These claims are filed when your insurance company offers or issues an unfair settlement, or refuses to issue a settlement at all when you believe your coverage entitles you to greater amounts than offered. Insurance companies are in the business of making money and although they are bound by strict Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations in California they will often attempt to low-ball their customers. You should file an insurance dispute claim only when you are reasonably certain that their proposed settlement is genuinely unfair.

What should you do?

counsel before accepting or denying any insurance company settlement you doubt is fair. The California’s FCSPR regulations are complex and cases can take time to review, but it is not uncommon for insurance dispute claims to be awarded in favor of the plaintiff when sufficient records exist of the incident triggering the request for settlement.

Probate Litigation

What is probate litigation?
These claims can challenge a provision of a deceased person’s will or trust, or force a representative to honor the deceased’s wishes. They are filed when the validity of a will/trust is questioned to avoid family disputes, protect the estate, and resolve tax liabilities, among other things.

What constitutes will invalidity, necessitating a probate claim?
Wills/trust can be contested under many different circumstances, all of which are best resolved with the assistance of counsel. The most common include:

  • Claims of undue influence upon the deceased
  • Creditor details undisclosed in the will
  • Personal representative (bank or trust of the deceased) disputes
  • Differences of opinion over provisions
  • Missing or incomplete documents, including estate inventory
  • Failure of a beneficiary to complete fiduciary responsibilities
  • No Last Will and Testament exists

What should you do?

If you have a will or trust dispute, . Usually the Executor named in the will, if available, begins this process, which in California usually lasts six months to one year. It is their responsibility to safeguard all assets related to the state until a ruling is passed by the probate court.