Category: Mental Health

Brain Injury Awareness

headMarch has been Brain Injury Awareness month, however, just because the month is coming to a close doesn’t take away from the importance of taking care of your brain – it’s the only one you have.

The brain cannot regenerate itself.  When someone suffers a severe brain injury, the initial impact can be deadly.  However,  according to the Brain Injury Institute, if they survive,  progressive degeneration of the brain can continue during the hours, days, weeks and months that follow.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports these as the most common causes of brain injury:

  •  35 % from falls
  •  20 % from car accidents or truck accidents
  •  19% from impact with a moving object
  •  11% from attacks
  •  Other causes include sports injuries and shaking – “shaken baby syndrome”

Once your brain is injured, your life will never be the same. Your “thinking organ” can affect the way you act, feel, perceive and respond to others, including your family. It is important to understand, that although a personmay “look fine” on the outside, the brain injury may cause changes which affect their behavior. People who have suffered a TBI may display irritability, depression, apathy, anxiety, agitation, frustration; display a confrontational attitude and/or outbursts of anger; feelings of guilt and feelings of helplessness. They may become impatient, fearful or thoughtless, and have difficulty doing their usual routine or tasks. It can be most frustrating to families and friends because a person with TBI may have little to no awareness of just how different he or she is acting.

Several posts were written this month to assist you in learning more about brain injury and the important of using protection when possible, such as bicycle helmets.

Any traumatic brain injury is potentially catastrophic. Take care of your brain everyday.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

A helmet keeps your head safer. Brain Injury Awareness month

woman who fell off bike
Wear a bike helmet!

Helmet fact: Did you know that once someone has a concussion, they are at higher risk for more concussions or other types of traumatic brain injury?  Be smart. Keep helmets on your kids, wear one yourself on a bicycle, while skating or riding a motorcycle.

In 2014, 242,931 children ages 19 and under were seen in emergency rooms for injuries related to riding bikes.  (Source:  Safe Kids Worldwide.)

Bicycle helmets offer bicyclists the best protection from head injuries resulting from bicycle crashes, and bicycle helmet laws have proved effective in increasing bicycle helmet use.

Motorcycle helmets provide the best protection from head injury for motorcyclists involved in traffic crashes.  Statistics tell us that helmets are 37 percent more effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and 67 percent more effective in preventing braining injuries.  (Source:  US Department of Transportation Fatality Reporting System.)

“Since anyone can sustain a brain injury at any time, it is important for everyone to have access to comprehensive rehabilitation and ongoing disease management,” Dr. Brent Masel, National Medical Director of the Brain Injury Association of America said. If patients with TBI get proper medical care, they are less likely to experience medical problems, permanent disability, job loss, homelessness, suicide and even involvement with the criminal or juvenile justice system. ”

Protect your brain! It’s the only one you’ll ever have!  Learn more.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Confusing Auto Insurance Policies Confound Drivers

woman confused
Confused about your policy? You’re not the only one.

According to an online Harris Interactive poll, reported by Insurance Networking News, confusing insurance policy wording makes auto insurance policies incomprehensible to 36% of American drivers.

The survey revealed that 87% of drivers who currently have auto insurance said they had read at least some of their auto insurance policies, but that 36% of those drivers complained that their auto insurance policies were somewhat or very difficult to understand.

Despite the fact that more than 30 states have enacted laws intended to simplify policy language, the online quote aggregator says that many consumers are confused by how their policies are written, and struggle to determine what’s covered and what’s not.

California Flag The irony with all this is, in California and many states, the law presumes that a consumer has read their insurance policy and understands its terms. I advise all my clients to read their policies as carefully as they can and then ask their broker/agent questions about the parts they don’t understand.

Not that this always helps. I have one case right now where the insured read their policy and thought they understood it, only to find out when their claim for a defense was denied that there was some case law the insurance company thought meant that the policy didn’t cover anything.

The truth is, right now the law favors insurance companies over consumers, so people need to watch their step and be very careful in buying and maintaining insurance.

And, yes, I read my own insurance policies and, no, I don’t understand everything I read, even though I litigate insurance disputes for a living.

What a world.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

Understanding brain activity during personal injury trials

breakfast on tray
You need to fuel your body when you’re on a jury — jurors need proper food and water.

Whether you are a judge on the bench, a juror in the jury box or an attorney arguing the case, a personal injury trial takes a lot out of you.

What none of us usually take into account is, the human body has natural rhythms and patterns that affect our ability to absorb and process information that the courtroom process rarely take into account.

For example, it is well documented that stress causes the body to produce the hormone, cortisol, and that excess cortisol can interfere with the brain’s ability to create new memories.  (See this article on the Diurnal Cortisol Cycle.) At the same time, when the body produces increased amounts of the hormone dopamine, concentration levels rise.

When I’m training for a marathon, I make sure to wear a fuel belt with water, little carbohydrate gel paks and gatorade to replenish minerals and electrolytes that my body uses while running, because everyone understands that the human system, like a machine, needs replenishment to function in top form.

So, I’m always amazed that during trial, the jury usually isn’t provided much more in the way of fuel than the bailiff or courtroom attendant pointing out where the drinking fountain can be found and how snacks can be purchased on the second floor and in the rooftop cafeteria.

This is downright weird, when you think of it.  After all, trial is stressful on all the participants.  The jury especially is empowered as a democratic body to weigh facts and decide on a verdict, which is hands down the most important job in the process.  So, why don’t we take better care of our decision makers?

In the courtrooms where I practice, attorneys are usually permitted to bring in water bottles and can stash snacks in their bags if they are so inclined.  It’s always felt awkward to me to sip my cool water when I know the jury in the box isn’t provided with the same opportunity.

Note to self:  Propose that courtroom judges be asked to instruct jurors that they may bring food and drink, reasonably, into the box so they can help themselves stay alert.  Appropriate limits need to be set, say water or soft drinks for consumption during testimony, snacks available in the jury room during breaks.  Perhaps the attorneys can be asked to equally contribute to a fuel fund to save the state some financial burden.

Not all judges will allow for providing fuel for jurors, but some may.  I think most would be willing to let the jurors know they are in a stressful job and let them know, just like my marathon trainers tell their runners, that getting the most from the experience requires proper fuel.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Defective Product Litigation and Injury Lawsuits

On the surface, product liability would seem to be a pretty cut and dry area of the law and being a litigation attorney may not seem super exciting. I mean it all seems like common sense. Some manufacturer or seller creates or distributes a product, a consumer purchases it and is injured, or perhaps even dies as a result of using it and naturally the manufacturer is automatically responsible for said injury and attempts to make things right. However, this area of law has many pitfalls that await consumers who have been harmed and for the inexperienced personal injury attorneys who try these cases.

Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit

According to some estimates, injuries, deaths and property damage from defective and recalled products cost the public more than $500 billion each year. Recently, a man in San Jose was awarded a $9.8 million judgment in a product liability case involving a surgical stapler that caused him grave bodily harm. Thus, product liability cases, unfortunately, are not an insignificant part of the legal system. In this case, without the proper legal counsel as to the circumstances, criteria and time limits involved in filing suit in a personal injury claim for product liability,it could have ended even more tragically for this person. Knowing when to file a case is one of the first steps to succeeding in personal injury cases involving product liability. In the state of California, for example, an action must be brought within two years from the time when the injury occurred. Here are some other things to know when filing a personal injury claim involving a defective product:

Establishing liability in personal injury cases involving a defective product

There are four legal means for establishing liability in personal injury cases involving a defective product:

  • Negligence: This is when expected, reasonable care is not taken and an obligation to do so exists. Negligence can occur when defective partsor improper assembly result in some injury.
  • Breach of Warranty: This is when a seller fails to uphold a claim or promise regarding their product.
  • False Advertising: This is when a consumer is misled into believing that a product is safer than it actually is.
  • Strict Liability: This is when the manufacturer or seller of a defective product is responsible for all injuries occurring from the use of the product. This also means that everyone involved in the making of a consumer product is potentially liable for any personal injury that results from using the product.

Obviously, manufacturers and sellers never mean to harm consumers with the products they create or distribute. However, intent is irrelevant when you suffer an injury and are required to pay hospital bills or when a loved one is struck down through no fault of his or her own. How can you be made whole after you are harmed by faulty—even deadly—products? We are Daniels Law, a Hollywood law firm that specializes in all areas of personal injury including the very complicated area of product liability. We are familiar with all aspects of product liability and can inform you as to your time limits to file and the types of product defects (design, manufacturing errors and false advertising) there are. We know that the cost to life and limb in these cases can be inestimable.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

California Personal Injury Law: The Basics

Personal injury is a much nuanced area of the law; in the state of California this is particularly so. However, even though many aspects of personal injury law vary from state to state, there are some commonalities. In general, all personal injury attorneys handle tort laws cases and provide legal representation to persons who claim to have been physically, psychologically, or financially injured due to the action of another person. These types of cases could involve anything from medical malpractice to defective products to bike and car accident, etc.

What are Personal Injuries?

In California, personal injuries are divided into three categories that determine whether the “threshold” has been met – Intentional, Negligence and Strict Liability. In cases of negligence, several things must be proven (1) a duty was owed to another, (2) that duty must have been breached in some way or another, (3) that breach must be both the actual and proximate cause of injury (4) there must be some degree of damages. Strict liability is where an individual is liable whether the conduct was intentional or negligent. Finally, intentional is where someone intended the injury that occurred

The Statute of Limitation

The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in the state of California is two years. For medical malpractice the limit is three years. In California, if you believe you have a case it is crucial that you find a personal injury attorney in California who can advise you as to your rights. If you have waited too long to file, it could mean the end of your case before it even begins.

Injury and Damage Limits

Damages awarded to victims of personal injuries in California fall into two basic categories – economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are out-of-pocket damages that can be documented such as medical bills, medical expenses, car repair bills, etc. On the other hand, non-economic damages are of an intangible nature. This covers things like pain and suffering, inconvenience, etc.

Before you hire an attorney, make sure that he/she is familiar with the applicable laws in your state. At Daniels Law you can retain the best California litigation attorney to familiarize you with all aspects of personal injury law in California. Our offices can provide you with a Los Angeles attorney who has the necessary knowledge and skills that could mean the difference between winning and losing or even getting your case to court.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

In California there are limits on what an employer can ask during a job interview

There are limits on what employers in California can ask you during a job interview, so it pays to know your rights.

In general, interview questions must relate to the background and skills that are necessary to perform the job in question.

Normally, your potential employer can’t ask questions about your age, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.  Also prohibited in most cases is asking whether or not you have, or once had, a disability, though the employer may ask if you are able to perform the general job duties for which you are being considered.

A potential employer usually is prohibited from asking if you’ve ever been arrested if the arrest did not lead to a plea bargain, verdict or some other finding of guilt. Employers are generally barred from obtaining your arrest record or from using an arrest alone in making employment decisions.  While there are exceptions to this rule (such as for certain law enforcement and other sensitive positions) this protection applies generally to both job applicants and employees seeking promotion.

Employers may ask if you have been arrested and are awaiting trial on criminal charges or, usually, if you have been convicted of a crime.  Still, there are protections for workers in this area as well.  So, an employer is usually barred from asking about any marijuana conviction more than two years old, or from inquiring about a conviction where the records were sealed.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

California employees are generally “at will,” which limits rights outside of discrimination or other illegal conduct

In California, employees are generally considered “at will,” which means that the law permits employers to suspend, demote or terminate (fire) them without providing a reason.  As a result, if you believe your employer has simply been unfair to you in the workplace, there is usually no remedy other than finding another job.

There are important exceptions to this general rule, especially where an employer acts in a discriminator manner.  It is illegal for an employer to discriminate in the workplace because of age, gender, race, national origin or sexual orientation, among other protected classes.  It is also usually prohibited to fire or discipline an employee for reporting or complaining to officials or governmental agencies about illegal discrimination, what is usually referred to as “whistle-blower” conduct.

To protect our precious system of trial by jury, the law also prohibits firing or otherwise disciplining an employee for missing work due to jury service.  However, your employer may limit the amount of paid time provided where an employee is selected to serve on a jury.

In some cases, if you quit or relocated because you were relying on a job offer, but the offer wasn’t made in good faith, you might have a remedy.  However, this exception requires that you can show that the employer made the offer in bad faith, meaning they knew the job offer wasn’t serious at the time it was made.

Some employees have contracts for fixed employment terms or that state they can only be fired for good cause.  Where an employer violates that agreement, the remedy is a breach of contract action in a civil court.

In some cases, a court will find an implied in fact contract that gives an employee rights beyond those the at will doctrine provides.  In finding an implied in fact contract, the court will look at such factors as length of employment, job performance evaluations, job duties, commendations, assurances of employment for certain terms and promises made in an employee handbook or human resources policy manuals.  There is no fixed standard in the court’s analysis and such factors as whether an employer is acting out of economics or was justified in acting because of poor job performance by the employee will all be taken into consideration.

Often, if you believe you have suffered illegal discrimination in the workplace or some other illegal job action, your best course is to consult an experienced employment attorney who can help you analyze your options.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Sexual Harassment: Everything You Need to Know

Here at Daniels Law, we make it a point to stay on top of all things employment law… In July of 2015 a New York jury awarded workers at Moreno Farms $17.4 million in a case of sexual harassment. Several female migrant workers accused male employees of groping and in some cases raping them. In June of 2015 a Manhattan federal court awarded Hanna Bouveng $18 million for Wall St. CEO Benjamin Wey’s sexual harassment and online smears. Finally, just this past December a Chicago jury awarded $2.4 million to an African-American butcher who alleged 5 years of sexual, racial harassment at a South Side grocer.

The last alleged victim was a male. Despite the countless seminars, courses and employment manuals available on the subject, the scourge of sexual harassment goes on undeterred by verdicts of this kind. Thus, no worker – male or female – can assume that their workplace is immune to this kind of illegal and disreputable behavior.

The question is, why does this behavior continue to permeate all kinds of workplaces in all industries and professions? Is it due to simple human nature? Is it due to vagaries of the laws concerning sexual harassment as some people believe? Whatever the reasons are, it is the moral and legal obligation of workplaces to do their best to make the workplace safe from sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment: A Definition

Sexual occurs when: submission to inappropriate conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term of condition of employment (2) submission to or rejection of inappropriate conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting the individual or (3) conduct unreasonably interferes with the individual’s performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. Sexual harassment is gender neutral in that either sex can be victims. Behavior constituting sexual harassment includes:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances,
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Most employers have a stated guidelines regarding sexual harassment and many conduct training and seminars to re-enforce their position against this illegal and unethical practice. It is the employer’s obligation to do his/her best to provide a safe environment free of harassment for its employees and employees themselves are obliged to know and adhere to these policies. Nevertheless, sexual harassment continues to rear its ugly head in many work environments. And when it does, workers have a right to make a complaint to HR and/or to the EEOC.

Often, however, private legal counsel is the only recourse a worker who feels he or she is the victim of harassment has.  If you are in the Encino, CA and surrounding area and you believe that you are the victim of sexual harassment or workplace discrimination you can see an Encino lawyer who will evaluate your case. Our Los Angeles employment law firm can help you understand your rights in cases of harassment and ultimately what compensation you may be entitled to. Simply because sexual harassment is still pervasive in our society doesn’t mean there aren’t tools to fight against this plight.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

It can’t be said enough – pledge to drive distraction free

Distracted driving is the cause of thousands of preventable injuries each year and has cost many families the life of a loved one. You can start solving the problem by pledging to change your own behavior and drive distraction-free from now on and then sharing this pledge with friends and family.

Tips from the AAA Foundation for Road Safety to help you to be a more alert (and alive) driver:

PLAN AHEAD.

Set your GPS, read maps and check traffic conditions before you get on the road. Plan your route and a potential alternative. If you need to set your GPS with a new route – pull over to the side of the road.

REMOVE THE TEMPTATION.

Turn off your phone before you drive so you won’t be tempted to use it while on the road.Put your phone away in a purse or briefcase.  If you must text or all, pull over to a safe place to do so.

A majority of drivers – 94% – agree that texting or emailing while driving is unacceptable and 87% support laws against reading, typing or sending text messages or emails while driving, according to the AAA Foundation’s 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index, yet more than one-third of drivers reported texting or emailing while driving in the previous month. This “do as I say, not as I do” attitude is one of the greatest obstacles preventing us from improving safety on our roads.

PREPARE YOUR FAMILY FOR THE TRIP

Get the kids safely buckled in and situated with snacks and entertainment before you start driving. If they need additional attention during the trip, pull off the road safely to care for them. Similarly, prepare and secure pets appropriately in your vehicle before getting underway. Your car isn’t a dressing room. Brush your hair, shave, put on make-up, and tie your necktie before you leave or once you reach your destination.

SATISFY THAT CRAVING OFF THE ROAD.

Eat meals and snacks before getting behind the wheel, or stop to eat and take a break if driving long-distance.

STORE YOUR POSSESSIONS.

Something loose and rolling around in the car can take your attention away from driving. Attemtping to grab something that is moving around can certainly make your driving risky.

MAKE SURE YOUR VEHICLE IS ROAD-READY.

Adjust seat positions, climate controls, sound systems and other devices before you leave or ONLY while your vehicle is stopped. Make sure your headlights are spotless so you can see everything on the road and every other driver can see you better. Keep your windshield clean and remove dangling objects that could block your view or distract you.

GET YOUR BRAIN IN THE GAME.

Focus on the task at hand – driving safely. Scan the road, use mirrors and practice identifying orally what you just saw to enhance your engagement as a driver. Keeping your head ‘in the game’ behind the wheel will help you improve your overall awareness and behavior as a driver. AAA offers classroom and online defensive driving courses that directly address distracted driving and offer tips for for avoiding these behaviors.

EVALUATE YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR FROM THE ‘OTHER’ SIDE OF THE ROAD.

When you’re on the road as a passenger or a pedestrian, take a look around and honestly evaluate whether you engage in poor driving behaviors that worry you when observed in other passengers or pedestrians.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.