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Personal Injury Trial

You should know what to expect if your personal injury case goes to trial in California.

Personal injury cases frequently settle before ever getting in front of a judge, but occasionally neither side is willing to budge, and the case has to go to trial.

If this happens, don’t worry. Your attorney will be with you every step of the way, working to build your case so that you can be fairly compensated.

There are a few things you should expect leading up to and at the trial of your personal injury case.

First, your personal injury attorney will have to document the evidence that proves the other party was at fault. He will need your statement and any medical records, police reports, photographs and notes that you have, along with the names of any possible witnesses.

Then, both sides will start the “discovery” process. That means your personal injury attorney and the attorneys for the insurance company will share whatever information they have, including documents. They also will likely take depositions, formal on-the-record sworn statements of what each witness knows.

California Child Custody

For some couples, child custody can be one of the single most contentious issues of a divorce. Divorce affects more than 100,000 children a year in California. That’s why California family law establishes a detailed process through which Divorcing Couples can try to reach agreement on their custody arrangements.

The state leaves much of the decisions about custody up to the parents, unless there is abuse involved. It’s important to remember that if your spouse is abusive, either to you or the child, or if your spouse is neglectful of the child in a potentially dangerous way, you must have documentation to help protect your child custody rights.

Report the abuse to police, take out a restraining order, enlist the help of witnesses to the abusive or neglectful behavior. Write down everything. If you have to, after speaking to a family law attorney, hire a private investigator to get video footage of neglect, such as leaving the child in a car alone, or keeping a child in a home with no food.

Sharing

Once a couple separates, it’s up to the parents to develop a “parenting plan” that details where the children will live, how the parents will handle visitation, and who will make decisions regarding the children.

That parenting plan, also called a “time-share plan,” can be worked out between the parents themselves or with the help of family law attorneys. When they have reached an agreement, a California family law judge has to sign off.

If the two sides are unable to agree on a child custody agreement, the next step is family court mediation, where professional counselors will listen to both parents, then try to help them reach a middle ground. In some California counties, the mediator also will submit written recommendations to the judge.

Getting Arrested

Know your rights and how the system works.

There are few things in life as stressful and unsettling as getting arrested. Fortunately, the legal system provides you with certain protections to preserve your right to due process when accused of a crime in California. Knowing those rights, how to exercise them, and what to expect after the arrest can help make your defense attorney’s job simpler and the criminal justice system a little less frightening.

Your basic rights when dealing with the police are:

· Right against unreasonable search and seizure – the Fourth Amendment protects your person and your property from government search without valid reason. You have a right to privacy. In most cases, the police cannot search you, your home, your car or any other property without first seeking the permission of the court.

· Right to remain silent – the Fifth Amendment gives you protection against self-incrimination. The police cannot force you to make statements that might be against your own best interests. And, should you choose not to make a statement, that cannot be held against you at trial.

· Right to an attorney – the Sixth Amendment guarantees you the right to be represented by legal counsel when suspected of a crime. You can have a defense attorney present during questioning by the police, and the courts must provide you with a defense attorney if you cannot afford one.

What to Expect When Stopped by Police

According to the FBI, police made more than 1.5 million arrests in California in 2006. So let’s look at what the police are allowed to do before and after the arrest.

Personal Injury

Know your rights when you suffer a personal injury in California.

A serious injury has widespread effects on your life, impacting your ability to support your family and enjoy your day-to-day activities. When personal injury occurs through no fault of your own, California law gives you the right to seek compensation from the responsible party, both for your medical bills and the related pain of the injury.

Personal injury in California can be divided into two basic categories: On-the-job and non-work related injuries.

Work injuries are covered by workers’ compensation insurance paid by your employer. If your employer maintains that coverage and provides care for your injury, you generally cannot sue over the incident.

Non-work injuries caused by the negligence of another person, such as in an automobile accident or a slip-and-fall are covered by California Civil Code§ 1714. You can sue to prove negligence and recover damages.

Workers’ Compensation

Let’s start with an injury that occurs on the job. The first and most important step is to report the injury, or illness, as soon as you realize what has happened, and seek medical treatment. You cannot receive any coverage if you don’t do those things first.

Within one day of learning of your injury, your employer must give or mail you the state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation Form 1. This is the form where you describe the injury or illness and begin your claim for benefits.

Through workers’ comp, you will receive medical treatment for the injury and temporary disability pay if the injury leaves you unable to work. Treatment generally can continue as long as necessary, however, the law limits chiropractic visits, physical therapy visits, and occupational therapy visits to 24 each.

The injury may leave you permanently disabled, in which case the state will determine the extent and percent of your disability. You will be entitled to permanent disability pay and possibly payment for future medical expenses. You also may receive vocational training if you can no longer perform the same job.

While it isn’t necessary to have a personal injury attorney, it is always a good idea to consult one in situations like this. An attorney can help you navigate the complex bureaucracy and can advise you on dealing with any disagreements you may have with your claims administrator.