Dealing with Insurance After an Accident
Drivers are taught to exchange information with other drivers when an accident occurs. But after a car accident, how should you deal with insurance companies? If you don’t know, that’s okay! You’re not alone. Traffic accidents are chaotic, and dealing with insurance companies can be confusing, even for the most experienced drivers. Take a moment to collect yourself after a traffic accident, document the scene, and then take out your cellphone. There will be a few phone calls you’ll want to make. What should you do if you’re not at-fault for an accident? Typically, if someone hits you with their vehicle, you’ll want to call your own insurance company and avoid speaking to the other person’s insurance company, whenever possible. Of course, it’s never as simple as all that. Here are a few steps that can make the process of handling insurance companies easier. Call the police: Ask police officers to come down to the accident scene. You will especially want to do this if you’re not at-fault for an accident. Call your insurance company: When someone hits your car, you should call your own insurance company. Tell them that there’s been an accident. Be prepared to give your insurance company information: Once you have contacted your insurance adjuster, provide them with the information you received from the other driver(s) involved, which police department handled your case; and the location, time, and date of an accident. Do not contact the other driver’s insurance company: Wait until you have spoken to a lawyer about your case before speaking to the other driver’s insurance company. Dealing with insurance can be stressful, but by speaking to the right people and avoiding others, you can set up a strong foundation for your personal injury case. Reasons some people don’t report accidents Some people may be worried about reporting an accident to their adjuster out of fear that their premiums will go up. It is unlikely your rates will increase after a collision if you’re not the at fault party. Insurance companies use many different factors to determine whether or not your rates will increase. Adjusters take into account the severity of your accident, such as your driving history, whether you’re the at-fault party, and the value you have to your insurance company.1 Others may be worried about this accident showing up on their record. Calling an officer to the scene can help prevent this. Every accident reported to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will show up on your record, unless an officer’s report says you were not the at-fault motorist. Although this is not a guarantee, it can help. By not calling an officer, you risk the chance of an accident staying on your record anywhere from three to five years. How should you handle the other driver’s insurance adjuster? After an accident, the other party’s insurance company will most likely attempt to contact you. You don’t have to speak to them! In fact, it is better not to talk to the other driver’s adjuster when you have been injured in a collision, period. Instead, you should find a car accident lawyer to handle you claim. Your lawyer and your insurance adjuster should do the talking for you. This is for your own protection because insurance adjusters are trained to use manipulation and other tricks to fish out information in an attempt to hurt your claim and the amount of compensation your case may be worth. On the off chance you do need to speak to the other driver’s adjuster, you must be careful. Keep the following in mind so you’re not tricked into giving out too much information: Do not discuss what condition you may be in. An adjuster may ask you how you’re doing, pretending they care about your well-being. In reality, they’re trying to find information that may point to your injuries not being as serious as you claim. Anything you say can be used against you. This is why you should never offer up any additional information that could be potentially construed in their favor. Never agree when they ask if they can record your conversation. Recordings of your conversations can be used as evidence against you! California is a “two-party” state, meaning both parties must agree to be recorded.2 An adjuster cannot legally record you if you say no. Avoid speculating. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you don’t know. Never attempt to guess an answer.3 If the other company’s adjuster calls you, ask if you can have your own adjuster on the line with you or send them your adjuster’s or lawyer’s information so they can contact them. Remember: the goal is to never speak to the other company’s adjuster, if possible. Dealing with insurance can be stressful, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Our car accident lawyer from Wilshire Law Firm will fight the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf so you can receive the maximum compensation for your claim possible. Contact us today and schedule your free consultation at 1-800-522-7274. Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to serve as legal advice, nor does it constitute a guarantee or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Sources: The Department of Motor Vehicles, “How Auto Claims Affect Auto Insurance Rates,” https://www.dmv.org/insurance/how-auto-claims-affect-auto-insurance-rates.php Digital Media Law Project, “California Recording Law,” http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/california-recording-law Nolo, “Insurance Adjusters: First Discussions,” https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/insurance-adjusters-first-discussions-29752.html
Can a Volunteer Sue For Wrongful Termination?
California is considered an “at-will” state, meaning you can be fired for any reason except for those listed under the California Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA). It is due to FEHA that an unpaid volunteer and intern may sue their employer if they were unlawfully terminated because of discrimination or as a form of retaliation. Volunteer Discrimination Law FEHA’s protection extends beyond paid employment. It also serves to protect those in unpaid positions as well. According to FEHA’s Unpaid Interns and Volunteers section, it is unlawful for an employer to: “Discriminate against a person serving an unpaid internship or other program providing unpaid work experience in the selection, termination, training, or other terms of treatment of that person on any protected basis (section 11009)(e).); or Subject unpaid interns and volunteers to unlawful harassment (section 11019(b).)” An employer can terminate you for anything except for race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, age (over 40), mental disability, physical disability, sex, gender, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, and military/veteran status. Furthermore, if you receive an “employment benefit” while working as an intern or volunteer, your case may be under the purview as an employee, strengthening your claim. An employee benefit could include gratuity and bonuses while on the job. There are laws to protect you regardless of your working status, but not all employers follow these laws. When this is the case, contact an attorney with details about your case. When you can and can’t sue As dictated above, an employer is allowed to fire their volunteers and interns for almost any reason. You could be lawfully terminated because an employer does not like your personality, but they can’t terminate you for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons. But how do you know if you were terminated because of discrimination, especially since discrimination is not always apparent? If you are a member of a protected class and you experienced any of these adverse actions while working, you may have a case on your hands: Employers giving you work tasks that are impossible to complete successfully Employers giving you work tasks that are consistently less than other volunteers You were subjected to demeaning conversations Tones are harsh or belittling Discriminatory jokes Offensive comments These are only a few examples of discrimination a volunteer or unpaid intern can face and is nowhere near an all-inclusive list. Not sure you were wrongfully terminated? Talk to an employment lawyer about your case. A lawyer can better guide you through what to do next and offer invaluable representation. What should you do next? Discrimination and wrongful termination should never be allowed to stand. If you don’t fight employers and companies who implement such practices, even for jobs that are voluntary, whose to say they won’t do the exact same thing to another worker? You can fight to change this. Filing a strong lawsuit requires evidence. The more evidence you obtain, the better. Unfortunately, finding physical pieces of evidence, like a letter or memo detailing discrimination, is difficult. A simple method to document discrimination is to write it down in a journal. Include a summary of what happened, date, and time. A journal may not be enough, though. You’ll also want to have the following for your claim: Witnesses Personnel file, if one is available An employee handbook or company policies regarding discrimination Discriminatory/retaliatory emails and text messages The firing process is another opportunity for you to gather evidence of discrimination. When terminated, ask your employer to put it down into writing as to why you were terminated. Keep evidence in a safe place and bring it to an employment lawyer. It may seem like a hassle to get a lawyer involved, but if you strongly believe you were wrongfully terminated from your volunteer or unpaid internship, you should discuss your case with an employment lawyer as soon as possible. On principal, no matter if it’s an unpaid or paid job, employers who engaging in discriminatory practices should be brought to justice. Call an employment lawyer at Wilshire Law Firm today to discuss your case at 1-800-522-7274. Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to serve as legal advice, nor does it constitute a guarantee or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.
Journal Your Way to A Higher Settlement
Car accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, any type of accident can lead to costly injuries. Even something as simple as whiplash can require thousands of dollars to treat! Why should you have to pay because of someone else’s negligent act? You shouldn’t! But to win the compensation you deserve, you’ll need evidence for your case. Photographs and police reports can only tell people so much. One of the best ways to show how an accident has impacted your way of life is by journaling. There is a certain way in which you want to journal so you’re conveying, in the most effective way possible, how your accident has affected you and your family. Should you use a paper journal or laptop? Before you can start journaling, you’re going to have to decide whether you prefer writing on paper or typing your entries into a laptop. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. Keeping a travel sized paper journal allows you to carry it around more easily. Unlike a laptop, a journal does not need to be booted up. As long as you have a pen, you’re good to go! This is great for getting things down immediately. Due to the ease of having and writing in a journal, you may also write in it more consistently. The downside to a physical journal is that you will always need a pen or pencil on hand. It’s also not as secure as a laptop, so keep a close eye on it. A laptop is a great choice if you’re someone whose handwriting is more difficult to decipher. Having a laptop will allow you to quickly look up something if you need to. Unfortunately, laptops can be bulky and awkward to write in at the spur of the moment. Regardless of which medium you choose to write in, we would recommend sticking with it. By keeping everything in one place, you won’t be scrambling later to get your entries in order later. How do you write about the accident? As soon as you can, make a journal entry right after your accident. Details have a way of escaping us, details that could prove to be essential to your case. Write them down while they’re fresh in your mind. When writing down your experience, answer all of the following questions: What happened before, during, and after the accident? What was the weather like that day? Were there any road constructions? Was the person responsible for the accident distracted? Did the other person say they were at-fault? What injuries did you sustain? How did you feel emotionally? Did you seek medical help at the accident site? Answering these questions will give your lawyer and an insurance adjuster a better idea of how the accident occurred and its impacted on you. But you’re going to need more than this to create a compelling journal. How often should you journal? Make it your goal to write about your injuries on a daily basis. Don’t forget to date and time each entry! When crafting an entry, you’ll want to focus on topics pertaining to your injuries. Here are a few topics to consider: Medical appointments Provider you visited Date Time Details about the visit Treatments administered Medicine prescribed Your pain levels Activities you struggled with or couldn’t do Losses you’ve experienced Wages Hobbies Emotions such as depression, anxiety, anger, etc. Always be as detailed as possible in your entries. Don’t just write, “neck pain.” Be more explicit. What kind of neck pain? Where on your neck? Can you move your head easily? The more precise and exact you are detailing your injuries, the better you’ll be able to convey to the other party how much pain you’re in. Be aware, your journal will be used as evidence in your case. Avoid writing down anything you would rather stay private. Keeping a journal is essential. It doesn’t have to contain Pulitzer Prize winning entries. All it needs to do is tell everyone how this accident has affected you and your family. What other evidence should you keep? A journal alone can’t win you your case. You’ll need to have other evidence on hand. Evidence can include: Photographs of the accident scene Collision Damage Injuries Location Traffic signs and signal Receipts for: Prescriptions Medical equipment Co-payments Car rentals Medical records and bills Travel expenses Police report A strong injury case is built on evidence. But you need to be able to humanize this evidence, that’s where your journal comes in. Finally, you’re going to need quality representation who will fight tooth and nail for you! If you have been injured in an accident and would like to seek compensation, call Wilshire Law Firm today at 1-800-522-7274!
Are Our Trains Safe?
Driving a car in Los Angeles is time-consuming, stressful and, at times, dangerous. That’s why many people opt to take the train. For many commuters, the train is the only way they can travel to their workplace reliably. But, is travelling by train safe? Though train fatalities are not as common as they once were, they can still happen at any time. Take, for example, the Amtrak derailment in Washington State or the pedestrian death that occurred in January. These are only a few incidents that come to mind, but there have been thousands of train accidents reported in the United States year after year. In fact, The Federal Railroad Administration documented over 10,000 train accidents in 2016 alone. As you can see, train accidents are not something of the past, but are occurring every day, taking the lives of hundreds and injuring thousands. In a car, instinct will make you slam on the breaks, swerve out of the way of oncoming traffic, stop for pedestrians, etc. When you’re a passenger on a train, you have zero control over what happens. The only thing you can do is be prepared in case of an accident. When boarding a train, keep the following tips from Vocativ in mind to help you survive a train accident: Do not sit in the front car. The safest cars to ride in tend to be one or two from the back. Sit facing backwards so you’re not flung out of your seat in case the train suddenly stops. If there is a café, do not linger in it too long. Avoid sitting near windows. Follow the captain’s and crew’s orders. Escape using a window or emergency exit. Taking precaution is never a wasted effort. You should use the above tips whenever you’re traveling by train to hopefully mitigate any injuries you may suffer from in the event of a train accident. Unlike train passengers, pedestrians and drivers do have full control over what actions they can take when they’re around trains. Still, according to Operation Lifesaver, a person or vehicle is struck by a train, every three hours! Operation Lifesaver recommends the following safety measures when driving or walking near train tracks: Only cross train tracks at designated public crossings that include a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate. Never walk around or under a gate when flashing. Don’t expect a train to stop in time before hitting you. They can take up to a mile or more for it to come to a full stop. Don’t walk on or near the train tracks! Trains have an overhang of at least three feet in both directions. Wait a minute before crossing train tracks after a train passes. It’s possible that a second train is following close behind them. Do not attempt to hop onto a moving train. Never rely on a train schedule. Next time you’re thinking about walking or driving on train tracks, remember that you could be one of the eight pedestrians and drivers that are struck every day! Our train accident attorneys understand that for many people, traveling by train is absolutely necessary. We implore that you take precaution when you do! If you or someone you know has been injured in a train accident, contact a Wilshire Law Firm attorney to discuss your case for free.
Which Express Lanes Can a Motorcyclist Use for Free?
As a motorcyclist, you want to reach your destination quickly and safely. Express Lanes help with this because they typically have less traffic on them, but the can be costly to use. Here’s some good news: motorcyclists may not have to pay the toll fees! Motorcyclists, carpools, and vanpools are afforded discounted or, oftentimes, free rates. This is a method that one cannot always rely on, though. While some Express Lanes are free, others are not. Before your next trip, take a moment to learn more about how you can use Express Lanes for free. How do you use an Express Lane? First things first, make sure to have a FasTrak Flex transponder mounted on your motorcycle where an overhead antenna can read it. Have no room to do so? No problem! An antenna can read your transponder through your pocket. Just make sure it is in a secure place. Please note that it is illegal to hold up a transponder while driving through a toll point. Check the toll rates on the overhead signs, especially for lanes that are not free to use for motorcyclists. You must decide whether or not you want to use the lane before the dashed line disappears and becomes a double line. To cross afterwards can result in a ticket. Each lane has a variety of entry points. Choose one to enter and ride in that lane until you need to exit. It’s as simple as that! Which Express Lanes are free for motorcyclists? Life would be much simpler if all of California’s Express Lanes were regulated in the same way. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While some lanes are free to use, others may require that you pay the toll. Here’s a breakdown of what lanes you can use for free and which ones you need to pay for: Interstate 10 and Interstate 110 Metro Express Lanes, Los Angeles CountyMotorcyclists can use Express Lanes on I-110 and I-10 free of charge and without transponders or a FasTrak account if they have a standard issued license plate. Personalized motorcycle plates may be registered as a vehicle unlawfully using the express lane. This can result in you getting ticketed! State Route 237 Express Lanes, Santa Clara ValleySR-237 is free during peak commute periods for motorcycles as long as they have the proper decals. Be aware that tolls may be required for carpool vehicles (which include motorcyclists) at later times. If Express Lane says “HOV only,” any carpool vehicles and motorcyclists may use it for free. Express Lanes are in operation Westbound (towards Sunnyvale), from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Express Lanes are in operation Eastbound (toward Milpitas) from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Outside of these posted hours, these lanes are free to use. State Route 125 South Bay Expressway, San Diego CountyUnfortunately, there is no free pass on State Route 125! This route requires motorcycles to pay the same toll rates as 2-axle vehicles. Interstate 15 Express Lanes, San Diego CountyIt’s toll-free for motorcyclists. You don’t need a FasTrak transponder. 91 Freeway Express Lanes, Orange CountyYou must apply for a [Special Access Account](https://www.91expresslanes.com/specapp.pdf) for discounted toll rates as a motorcyclist traveling on the 91 Freeway Express Lane. Interstate 580 Express Lanes, Alameda CountyMotorcyclists are allowed to drive on I-580 Express Lanes for free but are required to have their FasTrak transponder set to 2 or 3 plus people. Interstate 680 Sunol Southbound Express Lane, Alameda CountyMotorcycles can travel for free without a FasTrak transponder. If a motorcyclist has a transponder, they can set it to 2 or 3 plus people to avoid paying the toll. Interstate 680 Express Lanes, Contra CostaMotorcyclists are allowed to drive on I-680 Express Lanes for free but are required to set their FasTrak transponder to 2 or 3 plus people. Bay Area Bridges, San Francisco CountyMotorcyclists are allowed to ride in Bay Area Express Lanes toll-free, but are still required to own a FasTrak Flex transponder. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco CountyMotorcyclists must pay the toll but they may also use Carpool Toll Lane #2 on the right side of the Toll Plaza during HOV dedicated times which are: 5 am to 9 am (weekdays) 4pm to 6pm (weekdays) New Year’s Day Presidents’ Day Memorial Day Independence Day Labor Day Thanksgiving Day Christmas Day Always have your transponder mounted somewhere where it can be clearly read. Express Lanes are a great option when you need to get to where you’re going quickly and without having to resort to lane splitting techniques. When in doubt as to which lanes you can use for free, keep a FasTrak transponder on your windshield or somewhere where it can be read to ensure that you won’t receive a ticket. It’s better to pay a few dollars than to receive $300 or $400 ticket. While Express Lanes allow for more breathing room as you ride your motorcycle, accidents can still occur. If you have been hit by another driver while riding your motorcycle, call a Wilshire Law Firm motorcycle accident lawyer for a free case consultation at 1-800-522-7274.
Recreational Marijuana Driving Laws You Need to Be Aware of
January 1st marks not only a new year, but the first day in which legal marijuana will be available in California. You and your friend decide to kick off 2018 by purchasing some recreational marijuana. You both drive down to the dispensary and then drive back to your friend’s place to use it. After smoking and getting high, you remember that you were supposed to run an errand. You say bye to your friend and head out, still high from the weed. You sit in your car, ready to turn the key when a thought occurs to you: Is it legal for me to drive? Can you drive after using marijuana? It is common knowledge that you cannot drink and drive. The established law states that “it is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent of more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle” (California Vehicle Code Section 23152). As a further safety measure, the law makes is clear that it is unlawful for a person to drive under the influence of any drug. But, what about marijuana? Marijuana is treated in the same manner as alcohol. When you smoke, vape, and/or consume marijuana, you are considered to be “under the influence.” Currently, there is no reliable method to indicate when a person is “too stoned” to drive. Consider, though, that experiencing any effects from marijuana impairs your ability to drive, a fact that many people are unware of. Take, for example, Colorado. According to The Denver Post, 55 percent of marijuana users in Colorado believe it is safe to drive while under the influence of marijuana. This, in fact, is wrong. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana impacts all of the following when driving: Judgment Motor coordination Reaction time The consequences of driving while high are severe. The Washington Times reports that “roughly 10 percent of Washington state drivers involved in fatal car crashes between 2010 and 2014 tested positive for recent marijuana use, with the percentage of drivers who had used pot within hours of a crash doubling between 2013 and 2014.” Weed became available to Washington citizens in 2013, suggesting a strong correlation between the uptake in fatal car accidents and weed use. You would never drink and drive. So why would driving high be acceptable? If you have consumed weed but there’s somewhere you need to be, call someone to pick you up or take a taxi. It’s important to note that beginning January 1, 2018, California Vehicle Code Section 23220 will make it unlawful for drivers and passengers to smoke or ingest marijuana while a car is in motion. How long do the effects of marijuana last? Because there is no strict indicator as to how much weed is too much, it’s primarily your responsibility to avoid driving while high. It’s important to understand that the effects of marijuana differ depending on what form you take it in and your body’s metabolism. According to Herb.com, smoking marijuana can have lasting effects between an hour to three hours. Though oral cannabis takes longer for its effects to be felt (anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours), they can last four to eight hours! Your judgement suffers when high. This is a fact. So, if you have consumed marijuana, be prepared to stay where you are for a few hours until the effects have worn off. How can you spot someone who is driving under the influence? Though you may choose to be a responsible driver, other motorists may not. All too often, people who are high or drunk decide to get behind the wheel, putting both themselves and everyone else on the road in danger. These signs are strong indicators that a motorist near you is under the influence: Wide turns Weaving between lanes Straddling the lines Swerving Unable to maintain proper speed Difficulties stopping Driving the wrong way Inability to respond quickly to traffic signals Tailgating Making illegal turns Driving in improper lanes Drooping head When you come across a driver showing the above signs, take the necessary precautions, such as buckling up. Though it may be tempting to pass a DUI driver, it is actually best to keep a safe distance. If you notice consistent signs of impaired driving, call local law enforcement. If you are struck by a driver who is under the influence, contact the police. Your next call should be to the car accident lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm at 1-800-522-7274 so you can begin seeking compensation for your injuries. Driving high is the equivalent of driving drunk. If you decide to partake and consume marijuana, make plans like you would as if you were going out to drink. It is always best to be safe than sorry.