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How To Evaluate A California Personal Injury Attorney

- SimpleSEO Group

There are thousands of personal injury attorneys out there, so if you ever find yourself in need of legal representation, how do you know which one you should call? Choosing the right personal injury attorney can make a huge difference in your case and affect your ability to recover compensation, so this is not a decision to take lightly. Instead of hiring the first attorney that you find, take the time to evaluate a handful of attorneys to determine which one is the right fit. Here’s how:

Tap into your network

Begin by reaching out to friends and family to ask for recommendations. Even if your loved ones have never filed a personal injury lawsuit, they may still know of someone who is highly respected in the community. Besides your friends and family, you should also ask any attorneys that you have worked with in the past for their recommendations. It doesn’t matter what kind of law these attorneys practice—criminal defense, family law, business, etc.—they should be able to give you a short list of personal injury attorneys that they would recommend.

Do online research

Once you have created a list of names based on recommendations, it’s time to do online research. Begin by visiting online review sites that specialize in rating attorneys such as Avvo and Martindale. On these websites, you will be able to read reviews written by former clients so you can get a better idea of what it’s like to work with each attorney on your list. It’s important to note that it will be hard to find an attorney who only has positive reviews. If the attorney has a couple negative reviews, this shouldn’t be reason enough to cross him off of your list. However, if the majority of his reviews are negative, move on to the next one.

In addition to reading reviews, you can also see each attorney’s accomplishments and work experience. Look for personal injury attorneys that have won prestigious awards and belong to local legal associations.

Next, visit each attorney’s website. You should be able to determine what practice areas the attorney specializes in just by looking at the website. Cross every attorney off of your list who does not typically represent clients in cases similar to yours. For example, if you would like to file a medical malpractice claim, don’t work with an attorney who mainly handles car accident cases.

You can learn a lot about a lawyer online, so use this information to help you narrow down your list of potential attorneys.

Schedule consultations

Now that you’ve narrowed your options down to a short list of attorneys, get in touch with each lawyer on your list to schedule a consultation. Personal injury attorneys typically offer free initial consultations, so meeting with the people on your list shouldn’t cost you anything. You don’t have to commit to working with an attorney in order to schedule a consultation regarding your case. In fact, the consultation is where you both will learn more about each other to determine if you should work together.

Attend the consultations

Be prepared to ask questions during the consultation to learn more about the attorney that you are meeting with. At this point, you should have already looked at his website to learn how much experience he has handling cases like yours. Therefore, the next thing you will need to discuss is how these cases are resolved. Does he usually settle outside of the courtroom? About 95% of personal injury cases are resolved in pretrial negotiations, so this is not unusual. However, it’s important to work with an attorney who is comfortable taking your case to trial in the rare event that it does make it that far. Talk to each attorney on your list about his trial experience. Find out how many cases he’s tried in court and the outcome of these cases.

Use this time to learn more about what it’s like to work with the law firm. Who will handle your case if you decide to hire the firm? Is it the person you are meeting with or someone else in the office? How often will you be updated on the status of your case? How many cases does each legal professional handle at once? If you expect a lot of personal attention from your attorney, don’t choose a lawyer that handles dozens of cases or doesn’t actually communicate with the client himself.

Finally, you should discuss fees. Most personal injury attorneys will work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they won’t be paid unless they are able to recover compensation on your behalf. Be sure that you ask the attorney who will pay for expert witnesses or other resources needed during the investigation and trial. If you will be responsible for paying for these additional expenses, this is something you need to know about upfront.

Pay attention to your comfort level during the consultation. If you feel uncomfortable talking to the attorney or don’t think that he’s listening to what you have to say, trust your gut and cross him off of the list. It can take months and sometimes years for an attorney to reach a settlement or trial verdict in a personal injury case, so you shouldn’t work with someone you can’t stand to be around.

Take detailed notes during each consultation so you can go back and review them later after you have met with every attorney on your list. The answers to these questions should be enough to help you decide which attorney is the right fit for your case.

If you have been injured, it’s imperative that you seek legal representation as soon as possible. Contact Carpenter, Zuckerman, & Rowley today to schedule a free consultation with our team of experienced personal injury attorneys.

Attorney Nick Rowley Wins $6.5 Million For Client In Nightclub Assault

- SimpleSEO Group

SAN DIEGO, August 7, 2017— Attorney Nick Rowley, partner at the law firm of Carpenter, Zuckerman, & Rowley and founder of Trial Lawyers for Justice, announces a verdict of $6.5 million for client Lisa Lopez as a result of an assault and blindness caused by negligent security and reckless conduct by shirtless bartenders at a popular San Diego nightclub who watched and laughed at the attack.  Rich’s nightclub and XL Staffing security destroyed evidence of the video footage which showed the assault and the Superior Court of San Diego instructed the jury on destruction of evidence.

On December 21, 2012, Lisa Lopez was a patron at Rich’s Nightclub in San Diego, with her best friend’s husband, Charles Burris, and others.  Charles met another friend, Sandra Beyl, an ex-girlfriend, at the club.  Later in the evening, a verbal confrontation began between Sandra and Charles. The altercation then became physical, and lasted for five to ten minutes while nearby bartenders laughed and nightclub security did nothing to intervene to diffuse the situation as San Diego permit required them to do.

Hoping to diffuse the argument, Lisa approached Sandra and Charles and encouraged them to stop arguing when without warning, Sandra smashed a beer bottle onto Lisa’s forehead and eye, resulting in significant facial lacerations, severe damage and vision loss to her right eye.  Neither the bar or security called the police or an ambulance despite having detained and handcuffed Sandra Beyl, who was intoxicated and over served.

“The employees at the nightclub behind the bar who were shirtless decided to laugh and serve more alcohol instead of stop the violence, and the security staff whose sole job is to protect patrons at the club chose to do nothing to diffuse this situation which lasted 5-10 minutes before Lisa intervened.  Then the Defendants destroyed the video footage,” said Nick Rowley.  “Despite the customer having a bottle shattered on her face and bleeding profusely, the club did not skip a beat or stop the music, and instead decided to continue the party and keep selling alcohol.  This was a case of profit over safety.”

“The jury in this case realized the fault of club employees and understood the importance of protecting people from violence rather than doing nothing or egging it on with laughter.  They also clearly understood the severe impact this event had on Lisa’s life,” Rowley went on to say.

The jury awarded $2.5 million for past non-economic losses and $4.0 million for future non-economic losses, resulting in a total verdict of $6.5 million.  The top offer from the defense was $75,000 prior to trial.  Then during trial the offer increased to $400,000.

“This verdict will help Lisa deal with the loss that resulted from the gross negligence of nightclub and security staff employees, but she will never be the same as she was prior to this incident,” said Rowley.

The trial team for Ms. Lopez consisted of Theresa Bowen, Haytham Faraj and Nicholas Rowley.

The California law firm of Carpenter, Zuckerman, & Rowley has over 100 employees dedicated to fighting for the rights of the injured.  

With offices in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and California, and offering legal services from coast to coast, Trial Lawyers for Justice specializes in personal injury law. 

Both firms are dedicated to helping clients recover the compensation they deserve for their injuries. For more information, or to schedule a consultation regarding your case, visit www.czrlaw.com or www.tl4j.com today.

Case Number 37-2013-00080607-CU-PO-CTL

How to Determine Who is at Fault in a Car Accident

- SimpleSEO Group

The at-fault driver—and his auto insurance company—are typically responsible for compensating anyone who is injured in a car accident. Sometimes, determining which driver is at fault is simple. For example, if someone rear ends your vehicle while you are stopped at a red light, he would be at fault and responsible for compensating you for your injuries and property damage. However, there are other cases where fault is much more difficult to determine. Unfortunately, some personal injury cases may remain at a standstill until both sides can agree as to who is at fault. Here’s how your attorney and the other party’s insurance company will determine who is at fault for the car accident:

Police Reports

The police officer that responds to the scene of the accident will ask for statements from drivers and witnesses. This information, along with a close examination of the vehicles, will help the police officer determine who likely caused the accident. The officer will write a summary of the accident and identify the at-fault party within his official police report. He may also issue a traffic citation to the party he believes is at fault for the accident. Later, insurance companies and attorneys may request a copy of this report and use it as proof that one party was at fault.

Because the police report plays such a crucial role in determining fault, it’s imperative that you always call the police after a car accident. Even if the other driver does not want to get the authorities involved, it’s in your best interests to call them anyways so everything is documented.

Interview Witnesses

After a car accident, it’s recommended that you ask witnesses for their contact information. This way, your attorney can get in touch with them later to ask them questions about what they saw. This should be done as soon as possible after the accident so the details are still fresh in the witnesses’ minds. They may be able to give your attorney important information that helps determine fault. For example, a witness may report that he saw the other driver texting behind the wheel or driving above the legal speed limit. Clues like these can help your attorney prove that the other driver was entirely to blame for the accident.

Review Evidence

If your injuries do not require emergency medical attention, it’s important to gather evidence at the scene of the accident that you can later hand over to your attorney. Car accident victims are encouraged to take photographs of property damage, debris, visible injuries, and traffic signs or lights located nearby. All of these photos can help your attorney get a better understanding of exactly what happened. For instance, an attorney may be able to determine the angle at which the two vehicles collided just by looking at photos of the property damage. Skid marks on the road or paint marks on one of the vehicles also provide clues as to who crashed into who. To ensure your attorney has the evidence that he needs, take as many photos as possible at the scene. Photograph anything and everything—even if it doesn’t seem significant at the time.

Consult With Experts

In complicated car accident cases, an attorney or insurance company may consult with an expert to determine fault. Accident reconstruction experts are professionals that have a strong background in science, engineering, and law enforcement. They are often called into cases where liability is disputed so they can recreate the accident to determine fault.

An accident reconstruction expert can carefully examine all of the evidence from the scene of the accident, the victim’s medical records, and the police report to determine the speed at which both vehicles were traveling, the location of both vehicles prior to the accident, and the force of the impact. These experts can even create animations or 3-D models to demonstrate exactly how the accident occurred.

It’s possible that your attorney and the other party’s insurance company will both hire their own accident reconstruction experts. In some cases, the two experts will reach very different conclusions as to who was at fault. If this happens in court, the jury will likely side with whichever expert they believe to be the most credible.

Proving Liability

Sometimes, the other driver’s insurance company can be persuaded after being presented with enough evidence. At this point, negotiations between the insurance company and your attorney would begin. In the event that both sides cannot reach an agreement regarding fault, your attorney may suggest taking your case to court so you can let a jury decide.

It’s important to note that California is a pure comparative negligence state. What does this mean? In many accidents, more than one party may be at fault, including the victim. When multiple parties are found liable for a car accident in California, a percentage of fault must be assigned to each party. For instance, it’s possible that the jury may decide that you are 30% liable for the accident and the other driver is 70% liable. In this case, you would only be entitled to receive 70% of the total settlement. To avoid losing a portion of your settlement, it’s up to your attorney to convince the jury that the other party is solely to blame for the collision.

Have you been injured in a car accident that was not your fault? If so, get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact Carpenter, Zuckerman, & Rowley today to schedule a free consultation regarding our case. Our attorneys will immediately begin investigating your case to determine liability so we can help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

5 Most Dangerous Intersections In California

- SimpleSEO Group

It’s impossible to prevent every traffic accident, but drivers can reduce their risk of getting into an accident by learning which intersections are the most dangerous. There are a number of reasons why car accidents occur so frequently at intersections. For example, drivers may become distracted when looking at their phones at a red light or they may wrongly predict what other drivers at the intersection are about to do. Accidents can also occur when drivers who are trying to turn misjudge another car’s speed or the distance between their vehicle and an oncoming car. For these reasons, it’s imperative that you are cautious when approaching, stopping at, or driving through an intersection.

Some intersections are far more dangerous than others. In fact, a report was released at the end of the last year that identified the most dangerous intersections in the state of California. It may not come as a surprise to California drivers that almost half of the intersections on the list are located in the city of Los Angeles, and more than 90% are located in southern California. Out of the 444 intersections that were included on this list, 221 of them are in Los Angeles, followed by 13 in Sacramento, 11 in Downey and Lancaster, and 8 in Santa Ana.

To determine which intersections were the most dangerous, the researchers analyzed 435,000 accident records from 2015 provided by the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). If there were more than 10 accidents at any single intersection, it was ranked on this list. Researchers looked at the number of collisions, injuries, and fatalities at each intersection. Then, each of these intersections was given a score that was calculated using the formula below:

Accident (x1) + Injury (x3) + Fatality (x10) = Overall Score

The higher the intersection scored, the higher that it ranked on this list. Which intersections in California should you avoid based on this research? Here’s a look at the top five intersections that made the list:

Devonshire St. & Reseda Blvd.

Topping the list of the most dangerous intersections in California is Devonshire St. and Reseda Blvd., which is located in Los Angeles. Although there were not any fatalities at this intersection in 2015, there were 24 crashes that resulted in 41 injuries. It’s unclear what caused these accidents in 2015, however there are a number of major retailers and shopping centers located nearby, so it’s possible that the high volume of traffic simply leads to more crashes. This intersection is located within the Northridge neighborhood of Los Angeles and fortunately for the car accident victims, it’s also right near a Los Angeles Police Department station.

Imperial Hwy & Vista Del Mar

The second most dangerous intersection in the state of California is also found in Los Angeles, specifically, near Dockweiler Beach. Many people may not be surprised to see this intersection on this list, since it has appeared on similar lists over the past few years. There were 26 car accidents at the intersection of Imperial Highway and Vista Del Mar in 2015. Although there were more crashes at this intersection than the intersection in the top spot on the list, there weren’t as many injuries. There were only 39 injuries at this intersection, which makes it slightly less dangerous than Devonshire St. & Reseda Blvd.

Balboa Blvd. & Nordhoff St.

The intersection of Balboa Blvd. and Nordhoff St., which is also located in Los Angeles, ranks as the third most dangerous intersection in the state of California. Balboa Blvd. and Nordhoff St. is just a few blocks away from the California State University, Northridge campus, and is surrounded by popular shopping centers. Due to its location, it’s possible that this is a congested area that sees a great deal of traffic. There were 26 accidents at this intersection in 2015, which resulted in 37 injuries. Fortunately, no one was killed at this intersection during this time period.

Firestone Blvd. & Lakewood Blvd.

The first intersection on the list that is from outside of Los Angeles is Firestone Blvd. and Lakewood Blvd., which is located in Downey, California. There were more accidents at this intersection than any of the intersections in the top three, however there were not nearly as many injuries. In the 36 car crashes that took place here during 2015, there were only 32 injuries. This intersection is located just a few steps away from Downey High School, so it’s possible that many of these accidents could be caused by inexperienced teen drivers. It’s also possible that the nearby shopping centers attract a lot of drivers to this area, which means there’s a greater likelihood of accidents occurring.

Lindley Ave. & Roscoe Blvd.

Rounding out the top five most dangerous intersections in California is Lindley Ave. and Roscoe Blvd, which is located in Los Angeles. There were only 16 traffic accidents at this intersection during 2015, however these accidents were more catastrophic than the crashes at other intersections on this list. Whereas there were no fatalities at any of the intersections in the top four of this list, there were two fatalities at this intersection and 31 non-fatal injuries.

These may be the most dangerous intersections in California, but they aren’t the only places where accidents can occur. If you have been injured in a car accident, it’s imperative that you seek legal representation as soon as possible. Contact Carpenter, Zuckerman, & Rowley today to schedule a free consultation with our team of experienced personal injury attorneys. You may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But first, you will need to get in touch with an attorney to discuss your case.

Nicholas Rowley Wins Impressive $4 Million Verdict in Iowa

- Andrea Kang

Nick Rowley, a partner at Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, obtained a nearly $4 million verdict in Iowa for his client, Cheryl Bronson, who is the aunt of Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson East. Bronson was struck by a drunk driver, who pleaded guilty to criminal DUI charges and who also admitted liability for the accident, leaving the jury to determine the amount of damages Bronson was to receive. The defendant’s attorney offered $450,000 but the jury ultimately decided that Bronson should receive $3.5 million in compensatory damages and $425,000 in punitive damages.