5 Facts You Might Not Know About Sexual Harassment at Work
Researchers have discovered that people who’ve experienced sexually harassing behaviors at work rarely label their experiences as sexual harassment. Even after the visibility of the #MeToo movement, many people still don’t realize just how much inappropriate behavior counts as unlawful sexual harassment. Companies are required by law to uphold certain standards and respond quickly to sexual harassment complaints. If they fail, they can be held liable for the harm suffered by the harassment victims. Everyone deserves a safe and respectful working environment. When sexual harassment shows up at work, it can cause tremendous pain and suffering to those who experience it. What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace? Workplace sexual harassment involves unwanted conduct based on someone’s sex, such as sexual advances, jokes, or comments. This can take different forms: Quid pro quo – such as requesting sexual favors in exchange for something, or A hostile or toxic work environment – where the sexual harassment is ignored, allowed to go on unaddressed, or treated as a part of the workplace culture. Depending on the severity of the act, even a single incident could be unlawful sexual harassment. The law protects employees against sexual harassment, but 72% of victims do not report the harassment they experience in the workplace. Victims may not realize they have rights. They may be afraid to report harassment, or they may be conditioned to brush it off because of a company’s culture. After all, most people rely on their jobs to support themselves and their families. But you deserve a workplace free from unlawful sexual harassment. Even “small” incidents can add up over time, with devastating consequences to a victim’s mental health and career. Victims of sexual harassment have been found to suffer depression and PTSD, as well as long-term physical health problems. They’re more likely to become unemployed, forced to change jobs, or abandon otherwise well-paying careers because of the harassment they experience. If you’re afraid to report sexual harassment or if your company has failed to address its issues even after complaints, you should talk to an employment lawyer about your legal options. Are You Aware of These 5 Sexual Harassment Facts? To help you better understand what sexual harassment is and what your rights are as a potential victim, we have compiled five facts everyone should know: 1. Both Women and Men Can Be Victims of Sexual Harassment 52% of women and 43% of men have experienced sexual harassment behaviors at work. Although women tend to experience sexual harassment at higher rates, men are not immune. If you are a male who has been sexually harassed in the workplace, know that you have rights, regardless of your gender. No one should have to deal with the toxic and harmful effects of sexual harassment at work. 2. Harassment Can Happen Between People of the Same Sex Yes, sexual harassment includes conduct between people of the same sex. This can include sexual advances but also jokes or comments based on gender stereotyping. For example, a male employee could harass another with insults to their masculinity. Gender-based comments and insults are usually not appropriate in the workplace – for example, offensive comments about women in general. A single offhand remark or isolated incident may not qualify as sexual harassment. However, if the behavior becomes repeated or pervasive, that can lead to an unlawful hostile work environment. 3. Sexual Harassment Doesn’t Have to Involve a Physical Act Harassment covers all types of conduct – not just physical. Just because you were never touched or assaulted doesn’t mean you can’t experience harassment. Verbal harassment could take the form of suggestive comments or requests for sexual favors, either in person or through other channels like text or online chat groups. This includes sexually suggestive comments made about an employee to someone else. Excessive staring or leering could also be harassment even without any verbal or physical escalation of the behavior. Other actions that can be considered sexual harassment include sharing sexual photographs, watching explicit content at work, unwelcome nudity or self-exposure, or violating physical privacy. 4. The Harassment Doesn’t Have to Come from a Supervisor Unfortunately, supervisors can abuse the power they have over their subordinate employees, using their position to get away with their unlawful behavior. But supervisors aren’t the only ones who can be held accountable for sexual harassment under the law. You’re protected against sexual harassment from anyone while on the job. That includes not just your own supervisor but your coworkers, supervisors or employees from other departments, and even non-employees like customers or third-party business vendors. You can even experience sexual harassment from your own subordinate employees. You could have an actionable case if your employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate actions to stop the behavior. 5. Retaliation Against Harassment Victims is Illegal 75% of employees who reported workplace harassment faced some kind of retaliation. Workplace retaliation happens when your employer takes negative action against you for asserting your legally protected rights. That could look like: Demoting or firing you for reporting sexual harassment Changing your work schedule to fewer or more inconvenient hours Passing you up for promotions and other career opportunities Giving you an undeserved negative performance review Moving or downsizing your office or desk Removing you from important or higher-priority work projects Because companies have so much power over individual employees, it’s no wonder that the majority of workers who experience sexual harassment don’t report their experiences. But if you experience sexually harassing behaviors at work, the law is on your side. At Wilshire Law Firm, our nationally recognized employment lawyers have helped countless workers hold their employers responsible for toxic work environments. Without proper policies and procedures to protect employees, sexual harassment can go unchecked at a company. The responsibility for a safe workplace goes all the way to the top. Our award-winning attorneys have the skill and discretion to get the maximum possible compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. We take our cases on a contingency-fee basis so you don’t pay us unless you win your case. Call us now at (800) 522-7274 or fill out our online form for your FREE consultation. We’re available 24/7 for your convenience.
What Rights Do You Have If You Suffer from Pregnancy Discrimination at Work?
Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is illegal in all 50 U.S. states. Yet, thousands of workers file pregnancy discrimination claims every year with their state’s employment agency or with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You would think that in our modern world, sex discrimination and pregnancy discrimination would no longer be an issue. But even today, pregnant employees still suffer too many prejudices at work — despite the importance of their health and family. No one should have to suffer the indignity of workplace discrimination. Discriminatory comments and actions can affect not only your career but also your mental and emotional health. Family planning is deeply personal. Pregnancy and the birth of a new child is a meaningful time, and no one should have to worry about how it will impact their job. The law agrees, which is why your employer cannot legally fire, demote, or treat you differently for any pregnancy, childbirth, or reproduction-related conditions. This applies to past pregnancies, a current pregnancy, or potential pregnancies in the future. What does that mean exactly? A company cannot refuse to hire you for being pregnant. Your employer cannot make decisions related to assignments, scheduling, promotions, or demotions based on your current pregnancy or the possibility of a future pregnancy. This includes assumptions made about you that may not even be true — for example, assuming you plan to have children soon simply because you’re married and of childbearing age. You cannot be fired for pregnancy or any childbirth-related condition. Your employer cannot deny you reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy, such as changing your duties so you’re not lifting heavy objects, allowing you to take medical leave for pregnancy complications, or giving you additional breaks for pumping or breastfeeding once you’re back at work. Your employer cannot treat you differently than other workers based on your reproductive capacity. For example, your employer cannot forbid female employees of childbearing age from working with certain chemicals based on the concern that exposure might harm a developing fetus. You cannot get fired or demoted after coming back from pregnancy leave. Federal and state pregnancy discrimination laws don’t give pregnant employees any special rights. They simply make sure pregnant employees are treated the same as other workers. Federal law acts as a baseline to protect workers against pregnancy discrimination. The protections in the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) apply to workers across the country. But some states have pregnancy discrimination laws in addition to federal laws, granting employees even greater protections. What Does Pregnancy Discrimination Look Like? Pregnancy discrimination could include any negative action taken against you by your employer because of a childbirth-related issue. Examples of pregnancy discrimination could look like: Getting fired because of a pregnancy-related condition or taking pregnancy leave Being asked during the interview if you ever intend to have children Denying you a job because of your pregnancy and no other discernible reason, when you are otherwise qualified for the position Subjecting you to assumptions, jokes, or negative comments about your pregnancy or related condition Demoting you or decreasing your hours after returning from pregnancy leave Refusing to provide reasonable workplace accommodations for your pregnancy Retaliating against you after you file a pregnancy discrimination claim Punishing you for taking your legally protected disability or family leave time Shortening the amount of time you’re legally allowed for pregnancy or family leave You may have even greater protections based on the laws of the state where you live. For example, California extends the amount of unpaid family leave from 12 weeks to 24 total. Plus you get another 12 weeks under the state’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL). How Can You Prove Pregnancy Discrimination? Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace could be intentional or unintentional. You can prove intentional workplace discrimination by showing evidence that: The discrimination you’ve experienced is because of your pregnancy or other childbirth-related condition that is a legally protected characteristic, Your employer is subject to state or federal anti-discrimination laws, Your employer took an “adverse employment action” against you (such as firing or demoting you), The reason or motivating factor of the action was discrimination, and Your employer’s negative actions against you caused you harm. The harm you suffered could include lost wages, lost career opportunities or advancement, or even emotional distress and mental suffering. While unintentional pregnancy discrimination is more subtle and difficult to identify, it can be just as harmful. Unintentional discrimination often occurs when a company has a seemingly “neutral” policy that ends up negatively impacting a protected group of employees (such as pregnant employees) more than other employees. This negative impact is known as “disparate impact.” To prove unintentional discrimination resulting in disparate impact, you must show that: The policy in question has an actual discriminatory effect on pregnant employees, The policy is not a job-related business necessity, and Your employer refuses to enact a reasonable non-discriminatory policy in its place that would accomplish the same business purpose without discrimination. Every case involving pregnancy discrimination is different. As a result, it's extremely important to gather as much evidence as you can to support your claim. This may not be easy if your employer revokes your access to company files or refuses to cooperate with your claim. Evidence to demonstrate discrimination could include: A journal or log of all the discriminatory incidents you’ve experienced A list of people involved in the discriminatory behavior as well as witnesses Any written reports or emails submitted to HR or your supervisor about the incidents Records of any documents, emails, text messages, or discussions around the incident Copies of any positive performance reviews you’ve received in case your employer tries to blame your demotion or termination on the quality of your work Discrimination can take a major mental and emotional toll on you and your family. If you’ve experienced pregnancy discrimination at work, you should talk to an employment discrimination lawyer as soon as possible to protect yourself and explore your options. How Can You File a Pregnancy Discrimination Claim? Depending on the circumstances of your pregnancy discrimination case, you may file a claim with your state employment agency, a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or a lawsuit in civil court. Each process has a time limit to file, so it’s important to get started on your case sooner rather than later so you don’t lose your chance. Additionally, you don’t want to allow your employer the time to bury any evidence. An employment discrimination claim is a sensitive issue that must be handled delicately to protect your rights and your career. The passionate employment lawyers at the Wilshire Law Firm have stood for workers’ rights for years — we can help you get through this difficult time. We know that now is not the time for you to worry about how you’ll afford a lawyer if you’ve been demoted or fired from your job. That’s why we take our cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay us any fees until you win your case and are able to recover damages. Call our nationally recognized, award-winning employment attorneys 24/7 at (800) 522-7274 to get started on your case with a FREE consultation now. You can also request a consultation through our online form.
How to Recover Unpaid Wages in California
Wage theft is one the most common forms of theft in the United States, with employers cheating billions of dollars from hardworking people every year. To make matters worse, wage theft might not look like what you expect. In fact, it can take many forms other than just skimming money off your paycheck. You deserve to be paid what you’re owed money under the law for the work that you perform. Employee protection laws give workers the right to recover the unpaid wages that they rightfully earned. And if you're a California employee, you enjoy some of the most protective laws in the country. What Are Your California Employee Wage and Hour Rights? To qualify for wage protection laws, you must be classified as a “non-exempt employee.” Compared to independent contractors, employees get far more rights under the law. You qualify as a non-exempt employee in California if you: Work primarily under the control and direction of your employer, The work you perform is within your employer's usual course of business, and You don't otherwise operate an independent trade or business based on the type of work you do for your employer. For all qualifying California employees, your employer is required by law to: Provide a 30-minute unpaid meal break to be taken during every shift over 5 hours, plus another 30-minute unpaid meal break if your shift goes over 10 hours Allow sick pay and family and medical leave as required under state and federal law Pay you the required minimum wage (including salaried workers), prevailing wage, overtime, and double-time under the law Reimburse you for expenses such as gas mileage and your work cell phone plan Pay you on time – at least once every 15 days on a regular basis, immediately if you get fired, and within 72 hours if you quit Provide unemployment benefits if you’re let go from your position Subsidize your health insurance, social security taxes, and Medicare taxes You may have more protections and rights depending on the industry you’re in, as California has specific labor laws focused on the computer, entertainment, garment, and restaurant industries. What Are the Common Forms of Wage Theft in California? One of the most common types of wage theft happens through employee misclassification when employers misclassify employees as “exempt” or independent contractors. Unlike employees, independent contractors don't get the same rights and protections. Some businesses try to cut corners by misclassifying employees to save money, cheating workers out of the wages they’ve earned fairly under the law. Other than misclassification, wage theft can also look like: Failing to pay workers the required minimum or prevailing wage, their earned commissions or bonuses, or hazard pay even if it’s in their contract Failing to update wages after new laws come into effect or the minimum wage is raised Press employees to work off the clock without paying them the overtime rate Making employees work through their legally protected breaks Refusing to pay employees for vacation time they don’t use Failing to cover the required social security and medicare taxes on your paycheck Illegally deducting money from your paycheck for any reason Regularly failing to pay employees their wages on time Failing to reimburse employees for their work-related expenses If you’re experiencing wage theft you may be intimidated by the idea of bringing it up with your employer, especially if you fear that they will retaliate against you. However, California employee protections are robust – and retaliation is illegal. Also, if you’re experiencing wage theft by an employer, you may not be the only one. A company's illegal wage practices could affect many of its employees across the board. If so, you may have a class action case against your employer for all of your stolen wages. How Do You Fight Wage Theft and Recover Your Unpaid Wages? If your employer fails to pay you the wages you’ve earned under the law, you can file a claim with either the California Labor Commission or another relevant state or federal agency. You can also file a wage and hour lawsuit or class action against your employer. State and federal agencies have procedures in place to get you paid the wages you are owed under the law. If those procedures fail, a wage theft lawsuit may be your best option. When you file a civil lawsuit or class action against a company for wage and hour violations, the law works to “make you whole” – i.e., provide you with monetary damages to compensate you for your losses. Many wage and hour lawsuits end in settlements where the employer agrees to pay their employees the true wages they’re owed. In a large class action case, this could be millions of dollars being paid out by the company. If your employer takes negative action against you for filing a legitimate wage complaint, they can be held accountable under the law for even greater damages. In a case of retaliation, a court may order punitive damages from your employer. These damages are meant to punish companies for especially bad, intentional, or malicious behavior. Depending on the scope and severity of the violations, punitive damages can result in huge settlements or verdicts. How a California Employment Lawyer Can Help Whatever course of action you end up taking, an experienced and knowledgeable employment lawyer can help you navigate the process of filing your wage claim or class action lawsuit. If you've been cheated out of your wages, you deserve to be compensated for the labor you’ve completed. But you're just one employee against a company that might have much greater resources than you. That's where your attorney comes in to help level the playing field. The passionate and experienced legal team at the Wilshire Law Firm has fought for employees’ rights for years. We don’t back down from a challenge and we know California's labor laws inside and out. Plus, we work on a contingency-fee basis – that means you only pay us after we’ve recovered your wages for you. To find out how we can assist you with your claim, call us now at (800) 522-7274 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.
How Hours of Service Violations Cause Dangerous Truck Accidents
The trucks and 18-wheelers you see on the street every day can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs. fully loaded – the weight of more than 5 elephants. That's a lot of mass to haul around, especially with smaller vehicles sharing the road. To cut down on truck accidents caused by driver error, the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict rules on how long truck drivers can work in a given day. But hard deadlines, narrow profit margins, and performance bonuses often cause truck drivers to break these rules to meet company goals – with catastrophic consequences. When truck drivers work more hours than they're allowed, they can lose their concentration or even fall asleep at the wheel. These dangerous conditions can lead to devastating truck crashes that put innocent drivers at grave risk. Of the 4,119 people who died in truck crashes in 2019, only 16% were truck drivers. In fact, 67% of the fatalities from truck accidents were people in cars and other passenger vehicles. The remaining 15% were pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders. If you’ve been injured or you’ve lost a loved one in a trucking accident caused by hours of service violations, you could have a legal action against the truck driver and their company. A truck accident lawsuit can help you recover damages to compensate you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain you’ve suffered as a result of the crash. You may even have a claim for wrongful death if a family member passed away because of the accident. What Are the Trucking Hours of Service Rules? Truck drivers and trucking companies must follow all federal, state, and local laws and regulations where they operate. If a trucking company transports goods across state lines, its drivers must operate under the following FMCSA hours of service rules: Drivers must not drive more than 11 hours in a 14-hour shift. Each 14-hour work period allows drivers breaks for naps, eating, or using the restroom. A driver’s 14-hour workday begins after they have been off duty for 10 consecutive hours. Drivers must take a 30-minute break if they have been operating for 8 hours straight. Drivers can only work 60 hours over 7 consecutive days or 70 hours over 8 days. Drivers can reset their 7/8-day working period by taking off 34 consecutive hours. These rules ensure that truck drivers are well-rested enough to properly operate their rigs. But some trucking companies still push their drivers past the limits. A trucking company may break nationwide hours of service rules by: Setting ambitious schedules for drivers so they speed or make up the extra miles by unofficially driving past their hours of service Giving drivers bonuses based on unrealistic driving goals, incentivizing them to work past their hours even if that means lying on their logs Paying drivers by the load so that they want to deliver as many loads as possible, causing them to work off the clock and leave it off their logs Having policies that favor drivers who regularly bend the rules over others who don’t Threatening retaliation against drivers who refuse to go over their allowed schedule Research has shown that tired or drowsy driving has effects similar to drunk driving, including: Trouble staying focused, keeping your eyes open, or holding up your head Disconnected thoughts that wander away from the road Tailgating, swerving, or drifting across lanes Sudden jerking movements of the steering wheel Uneven driving speed and slowed reaction times Passing exits, running stoplights, and failing to use turn signals Memory loss and inability to remember areas you just passed These symptoms are bad enough for any driver but especially for truck drivers carrying massive or oversize cargo loads. An 18-wheeler or big rig only worsens the dangers in these conditions. How Can You Prove an Hour of Service Violation? In addition to rules around driving, the FMCSA also requires truck drivers and trucking companies to keep detailed logs of their operations. If you suspect your trucking accident had to do with driver fatigue, you can find evidence to back up your claim in these records. However, finding proof isn’t always easy. Trucking operators know that breaking the rules will get them fined under the law so they might falsify logs or records. This is where a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer comes in. Your attorney can help find the proof you need to back up your claims and establish that an hour of service violation caused the crash. Evidence could include: Driver logbooks – Truck drivers must keep detailed logs of their trips and deliveries. However, these records are easy to doctor and fake to look legitimate. You may have to dig deeper to establish inaccuracies in the logs. Electronic records – Truck cabs usually have electronic logging devices similar to airplane “black boxes.” These logs are much harder to fake. Cellular data – Cell phone records like calls, texts, emails, GPS, and internet activity can show a driver's actual behavior during the time they were supposed to be resting or driving without distraction. GPS systems – Trucking companies track their trucks with GPS systems like Qualcomm, which can show speed and location. Receipts and bills of lading – Gas station receipts, food and drink transactions, weigh station records, toll booth tickets, and bills of lading on shipment delivery can all help pinpoint a driver’s exact location at a certain time to compare it to the logbooks. Maintenance records and inspections – These records can be compared to the driver logbook for accuracy and to find any inconsistencies in the logs. If you can prove that your accident was caused by a violation of hour and service rules, the responsibility for the crash will fall on the trucking company for their dangerous actions. How Do You Recover Damages for Injuries After a Truck Crash? A personal injury lawsuit helps compensate you for the pain and injuries you’ve suffered after your truck accident. While your crash cannot be undone, a legal action can help you get the medical treatment you need to get better after your accident. If you’re unable to work because of your crash, damages from a personal injury lawsuit can help cover your lost wages. Call our nationally recognized truck accident lawyers for help pursuing the full compensation you deserve. We have handled truck accident cases from all over the U.S., and we are knowledgeable of both state and federal laws that regulate the trucking industry. We work on a contingency-fee basis, which means you don’t pay us unless you win your case. Call us today (800) 522-7274 or make an online request for a free consultation.
12 Most Important Bike Laws that Protect Cyclists in California
More and more people are switching to commute by bicycle for the health, environmental, and cost-saving benefits. California’s roads have become increasingly cyclist-friendly with projects like Vision Zero in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition paving the way for fewer traffic accidents and deaths. Even with all these efforts, the years between 2016 and 2018 proved to have the highest bicycling death rate since the mid-2000s with 2,516 California cyclists dying in traffic accidents, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Simply put, the more riders that are out there, the higher the chance of a bicycle accident occuring. But following the California bike laws below can help lower your risk. Generally, cyclists in California have the same responsibilities and must adhere to the same traffic laws as other cars and vehicles – such as yielding to pedestrians and respecting traffic signs and lights. The state’s bicycle laws can help save your life. 1. Bicyclists Must Ride in the Same Direction as Traffic If you’re riding your bike on the road, you must travel in the same direction as traffic. If you’re going in the opposite direction on a one-way street, you should walk your bike on the sidewalk. There are no universal statewide rules in California that block cyclists from riding their bikes on the sidewalk. However, your local or city government may restrict how and when you can actually ride your bicycle on the sidewalk, as this can put pedestrians at risk. For example, Los Angeles allows biking on sidewalks as long as you’re not riding dangerously. However, in Santa Monica, it’s illegal to bike on the sidewalk. Violations can result in a misdemeanor with the possibility of a fine or even jail time. 2. Bicyclists Moving Slower Than Traffic Must Use Bike Lanes Where you ride on the road depends on your speed compared to vehicle traffic. If you’re riding slower than traffic on a road with a dedicated bike lane available, you must ride in the bike lane. If there is no bike lane available, you must ride as close as feasible to the right side of the road or curb. After checking for safety and giving a proper signal, you're allowed to leave the bike lane and take up the entire traffic lane when: Passing other cyclists, cars, or pedestrians who are in the bike lane, Preparing to make a right or left turn at an intersection or driveway, or It’s “reasonably necessary” to avoid debris or hazardous conditions. 3. Bicyclists Moving with Traffic May “Take the Lane” You’re allowed to ride in the lane with traffic if you’re going the same speed as other vehicles. You can also “take the lane” to pass other cyclists, prepare for a left turn, or to avoid unsafe conditions along the right-hand side of the road. 4. You or Your Bike Must Be Visible at Night Cycling at night could be extremely dangerous if drivers can't see you clearly in time to avoid a collision. That's why California state law requires cyclists to have: A white light either on you or the bike visible from 300 feet ahead, A red reflector with or without a red light visible from 500 feet behind, A white or yellow reflector on each pedal visible from 200 feet ahead and behind, and A white or yellow reflector on each side of the front half of your bicycle and a white or red reflector on each side of the back half of your bicycle, unless your tires are reflective. 5. You Must Have One Ear Uncovered While Riding on the Road As a cyclist, you cannot wear headsets or earplugs that cover both ears unless you’re engaged in highway operations or the device is a hearing aid. 6. Wear a Helmet (Required if Under 18) You must wear a helmet while biking in California if you’re under 18 years old. This is not a requirement for adults – however, you should always wear a helmet for your safety. 7. Your Bike Must Have Properly Working Brakes This rule might seem obvious, but your bicycle must have proper brakes that allow you to skid to a stop on a single wheel on dry pavement. 8. Your Bike Cannot Be Too Tall You must be able to start, stop, and support your bicycle in an upright position with at least a single foot on the ground. Your handlebars must not reach above your shoulders. 9. Bicyclists May Not Stop on Crosswalks Crosswalks are for the safety of pedestrians, who have the right-of-way. As a cyclist, you should stop behind crosswalks whenever you're waiting at an intersection so you don't block pedestrians’ right-of-way and you’re less likely to be in the way of a car turning right. 10. Vehicles Must Give Cyclists 3 Ft. of “Buffer” California’s Three Feet for Safety Act requires all drivers to give bicyclists at least 3 ft. of space when passing them in traffic. If a driver is unable to maintain that buffer, they must slow down and only pass when doing so would not put the cyclist in danger. 11. DUIs Apply to Cyclists, Too! As a cyclist, you are exposed on the road. It's important to be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Not only is it dangerous to ride a bike on roadways under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but it’s also against the law – just like vehicular DUI. 12. Hit-and-Run Is a Crime If a driver collides with your bike and flees the scene of the accident, the crash becomes an illegal hit-and-run. Unfortunately, hit-and-runs are a real problem with cyclist and pedestrian accidents – perhaps the driver feels they have a better chance of getting away. However, there are a number of ways to track down hit-and-run drivers even without getting their license plate numbers, such as witness testimony or nearby security camera footage. While these laws help protect cyclists, unfortunately for California’s roadways, biking accidents are still too common – and too fatal. If you've been injured in a crash or if your loved one has died in a bicycle accident, call our passionate California accident attorneys today at (800) 522-7274 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.
How to Get Your Car Fixed After an Accident in California
If you were in a car accident or another type of motor vehicle accident, you may be left with not only injuries but also damage to your vehicle that is costly to repair. If you were not at fault for the crash, then it should NOT be your responsibility to pay for the damages. Legally, the person who caused the crash is liable to cover these expenses. But did you know that when you hire a lawyer for your car accident, most law firms will only handle your medical damages, not your property damages? That leaves you to deal with fixing or replacing your car – and finding a ride while you wait. If you’ve suffered a car crash, you’re already dealing with so much. You don’t need the added stress of wrangling with the insurance company over the worth of your car. We know this, which is why our experienced legal team is dedicated to handling every aspect of your case, including the damages to your vehicle or other property. If you’re hurt in a car accident, you can include the cost of repairing or replacing your car in your personal injury claim or lawsuit. In California, whoever is “at fault” for causing your injury is also responsible for paying the damages to your vehicle. The steps you take immediately after a car crash are critical to proving fault and damages in your case. You’ll need to provide documentation to establish the facts around your accident. With the right approach, you can file a claim to get the maximum payout for your car, even if you’re upside down on your loan. What to Do After a Car Accident in California California is an at-fault state, which means the amount of compensation you recover is based on the percentage of fault. You must be able to show actual evidence that proves: Another driver is responsible (or “at fault”) for your car accident, and The accident actually caused your injuries or made an existing condition worse. Facts are best gathered fresh before the accident scene changes and eyewitness memories get muddled. As soon as possible after your California car accident, you should: Get contact and insurance information from all other drivers involved in the accident. Take photos and videos of the scene of the crash and any damage to your car. Record eyewitness testimony at the scene and get witness contact information. File a police report either at the scene or shortly after at the police station. Get medical treatment immediately after the accident. Hire a lawyer to notify your insurance companies and file a claim. If you’re injured in a car accident, it’s best to contact a personal injury lawyer so that they can handle all the communication with the insurance companies on your behalf. Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Car Crash Your car’s property damage could be covered by: Liability coverage under the at-fault driver’s insurance Collision or comprehensive coverage under your own insurance (you may be responsible for paying your auto policy’s deductible) Uninsured motorist coverage under your own insurance Damages in a personal injury lawsuit related to the accident Once you file a claim with your insurance company or another driver’s insurance company, they will assess and set a value for the property damage you’ve suffered. It’s best to verify this amount with an independent party because insurance companies commonly undervalue damage to protect their profits. If your insurance company doesn’t pay for repairs directly, make sure to keep all your repair and rental receipts so that you can get reimbursed for those expenses. Insurance companies often lowball settlement offers shortly after traffic accidents, hoping you’ll accept a quick payout for much less than you’re actually owed. You should always talk to a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer to make sure you’re protecting your rights. Once you accept a settlement offer, you lose the ability to sue over the accident. At Wilshire Law Firm, our car accident lawyers gather evidence to negotiate the maximum settlement offer for the losses you’ve suffered. That includes any out-of-pocket cost you’ve had to pay to get back on the road while your car is being fixed, such as car rental payments. What If Your Car Is Totaled But You Have Payments Left? Insurance companies determine the fair market value of a car not from the Kelly Blue Book but by searching for similar vehicles being sold in your area. This is the “actual cash value” (ACV) of your car, usually set by an insurance adjuster. Because cars depreciate in value so fast, you may owe more on your auto loan than your car is worth – especially in the first few years of ownership. What happens if you get into an accident during this time and you severely damage or total your car? What Is Gap Insurance and What Does It Cover? Gap insurance covers the difference between your car’s current value and the amount you owe on the loan. You can get gap insurance through your car dealer or auto insurance policy. If you don’t have gap insurance and you’re upside-down on your car loan, you may have to pay the loan amount above the ACV of your car. To avoid getting stuck with this bill, you should make sure the ACV determined by your insurance company is correct. The property damage team at Wilshire Law Firm is experienced in calculating an accurate ACV of your car, using multiple resources to make sure the price is correct. Sometimes, readjusting the ACV of your car could increase your settlement amount by thousands of dollars. How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help When you hire a lawyer for your car accident, you level the playing field against insurance companies that have endless resources to fight your claim. A good personal injury lawyer can help you get compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered in your car accident. They can also help you understand your rights and establish the proper value of your car instead of falling prey to insurance companies who try to undercut you. At Wilshire Law Firm, we have an entire property damage department ready to handle whatever you need to get you back on the road. We are passionate about getting the maximum compensation possible for our clients – that includes the value of your car. Our client-focused approach means putting your needs first. Our team is available 24 hours a day ready to come to you if you’re unable to get transportation. Call our California car accident lawyers now for your FREE consultation at (800) 522-7274.