The Dos and Don’ts You Must Know About Car Accidents

You’ve been in a car accident. Your mind is racing. Is everyone ok? What happened? What do I do now?

Unless you are in a major car accident, the police in the City of Los Angeles will in all likelihood not come to the accident scene. They are too burdened and stretched too thin to come to a small incident. It may not be the same in all cities. Assuming the police do not come to the scene, what should you do? First, stop and do not leave the scene. If you leave, you could be prosecuted for a hit and run violation/leaving the scene of an accident. This carries criminal implications. This is not the road upon which you should embark.

Second, be a good listener. Talk to the other people involved in the accident. Get their information. Southern California is the fraud capital of the world. Ensure that you account for all people who may present claims. Fraud takes the form of stuffed people in cars (they were not there at the scene but claims are presented by them), medical treatment does not occur, etc. Take pictures if you can. This will show the nature and extent of property damage, skid marks, etc. Get the names of any potential witnesses. People who are not directly involved quickly forget the incident and change their minds over time and do not want to get involved. They may move away or die. It is of crucial importance to get this information as soon as possible.

Cooperate with your insurance company. If you do not, your policy contains a cooperation clause and your coverage may be jeopardized if you do not.

If you are hurt, go to a doctor and follow the doctor’s advice. Do not make medical decisions yourself. If you do not have medical insurance, doctors can treat you on a lien basis and wait for payment for their services until your case ends, if you make a personal injury claim against the other parties involved in the accident.

Contact your Car Accident Lawyer to advise you of your rights in a personal injury case. Do not wait as the passage of time may prejudice your rights to pursue the other party for your injuries.

5 Things You Must Know About DUI This Year

With the holiday season rapidly upon us, the thought to partying comes to the fore. While enjoying the party, please note one thing: Do Not Drink and Drive. As the television commercials and newscasts say: the police will be out looking for drivers that have had too much of the holiday spirit. They will see you before you see them.

A DUI (driving under the influence) now carries a societal stigma more than in prior years. The penalties are much more severe than ever. The DUI statute (Vehicle code Section 23152) has been changed to reflect increased penalties which will result in a longer license suspension and increased fines and jail time. In the good old days, the time for a second DUI was 7 years, then it was lengthened to 10 years and now it is a lifetime. Society does not want to condone DUI. The increased penalties can be traced to organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) and others. They want to lessen the potential death, injury and property damage that results from DUI.

A first time DUI will give the defendant a $1400 fine ($395 increased by $600% with various fees added), a driver’s license suspension for 90 days (an actual suspension for 30 days and then a restricted license for 60 days. The restriction will allow you to drive to and from work and to and from the alcohol school. The court will mandate that you attend an alcohol school for counseling to get you to not drink and drive. You will get to pay for this as well. The court may order you to have (and pay for) an interlock ignition device for your car. The device will not allow your car to start unless and until the machine is satisfied that you are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  As you can see, these other collateral things can become very expensive in a short amount of time. Add this to the increased insurance that you will have to pay for the next 5-7 years (probably an increase of 200-300 per cent) and before you party, ask yourself, do I want to subject myself to all this?

All this could be in addition to any potential civil lawsuit that you could face if you drive drunk and injure someone. You could be subject to the imposition of punitive damages. These damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer. There is no “policy limit” as your car insurance will not cover you for punitive damages. You do not want all of your assets potentially exposed to pay for injuries because you drove drunk.

There are numerous options that exist to avoiding DUI. First, get a designated driver. Second, call a cab. Third stay at a friend’s house, your house or a hotel. Fourth, do not drink to excess or at all! Spend our money on enjoying the holiday season. Get gifts for your loved ones. Make a contribution to a charity of your choice. Do not wind up paying court fees and lawyer fees to extricate yourself from being stupid.

All Lives Matter

For the past year, a new advocacy group Black Lives Matter has come onto the scene and dramatically changed the conversation about criminal justice and the African-Americans experience with it. During the past year, Black Lives Matter has highlighted the harsh treatment that African-Americans are often subjected to by the police and how that has led to the deaths of many over the past years. Black Lives Matter has promoted the cases of Eric Garner ofNY, Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, Susan Bland in Waller County, TX and Ezell Ford in Los Angeles. And yet when we see high-profile cases involving black suspects in the past week, Black Lives Matter has been silent.

Do only black lives matter or can the group admit that lives of people of other races are just as important to protect? Should the advocacy on behalf of an oppressed and discriminated against minority forget that other people in society deserve to be recognized and protected?

In the past week, America, as a community, has been rocked by two high-profile murders. The first happened on Wednesday, August 26th, 2015, when a disgruntled employee of a television news program decided to take out his vengeance on a news reporter, her cameraman and the person she was interviewing. And just this past Friday, a Houston Sheriff’s Deputy was shot 15 times by another suspect. The Harris County District Attorney has said that the suspect “unloaded the entire pistol into Deputy Gosforth.” In these high-profile cases, both of the suspects were African-American. And yet Black Lives Matter has said nothing about either case.

I am not and no one at LA Jewish Lawyer will claim that Black Lives Matter has any responsibility for causing these deaths, but don’t they, as all Americans, have a responsibility for condemning them. In recent weeks, we have seen several incidents from those in the Black Lives Matter movement or claiming to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement that has been disturbing. First, we have the threat to La Plata police by Carlos Anthony Hollins. We have also seen other threats against police by Black Lives Matter members or supporters. And yet, we have not seen anyone in Black Lives Matter criticize or denounce those making the threats.

We will not solve the problem of institutional racism and oppression against African-Americans, whether they are criminal suspects or not, if all that happens is that one group sets off a war against another. Black Lives Matter must come out against all violence and condemn in the strongest terms those both in and outside of its membership that advocate violence against the police or authority figures.

What say you?

Treat Guns Like Cars

It is not a new idea. It is idea that has even been spoken about this summer when Dr. Claire McCarthy proposed the idea again in the Huffington Post on June 2, 2015. The problem is that every time that idea is proposed gun enthusiasts and 2nd Amendment supporters says that the right to bear arms is different from the “privilege” of driving. Those opponents of gun safety are right in some ways but in a larger sense they are very wrong. While the right to bear arms is expressly written in the constitution and the right to drive a car is not, both rights are granted by the Constitution and both rights are able to be limited or restricted in order to protect public safety.

Many, if not all Americans, know that the Second Amendment to the Constitution says “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” For centuries, those who supported stricter regulations on the ownership and use of guns have looked to the first phrase “a well-regulated militia . . .” as grounds to support their advocacy of gun control. Gun control activists said that guns were not a private right held by an individual but a state right to ensure that the state would have a militia to protect against threats to the state from foreign states and from the federal government. Therefore, in the opinion of gun control advocates, the “right” can be reasonably restricted in order to protect public safety.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller that the 2nd Amendment did contain a private right and that the prefatory phrase “a well-regulated militia . . .” did not limit or expand the private individual right. According to the Supreme Court in Heller, a person has an individual and “fundamental” right to own a gun for whatever purpose s/he decides to own it. This decision was narrow in its scope in that in only invalidated one law in D.C. Moreover, the Court stated unequivocally in the decision that regulations on gun use and ownership will continue and that those regulations can still be constitutional if they do not violate the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.

A fundamental right has a specific meaning when discussing constitutional interpretation. When the Supreme Court describes a right as a fundamental right, they are saying that the right has great importance to the functioning of our constitutional democracy. The Court has held that these rights can only be restricted if there is a compelling government purpose, the governmental action is narrowly tailored and the government uses the least restrictive means possible to achieve its goals. Fundamental rights that the Court has recognized include the right to vote, the right to marriage and the right to interstate travel.

Second Amendment supporters have taken the Court’s decision in Heller and in McDonald v. Chicago to mean that almost any restriction on gun ownership or usage is a violation of their fundamental right. But those advocates do not recognize that fundamental rights can and must be restricted in order to protect the safety of the public. If that were not the case, then how can we accept and justify how the right to travel has been restricted and diminished by federal, state and local regulations governing car ownership and usage.

The right to travel, as mentioned above, is a fundamental right. That right was ruled by the Supreme Court to be fundamental well over a century before the Court even considered the right to bear arms. In 1868, the Court ruled in Crandall v. Nevada that a state cannot tax individuals for leaving the state because it restricted the fundamental right to interstate travel. This right has been recognized time and again by the Supreme Court as one of the most vital and fundamental rights that exists in our republic. Yet, despite the impact on the ability to travel for millions of the citizens of this country, no court has ever overturned automobile restrictions because they violated that person’s fundamental right to travel.

It does not require one to be a legal expert to see how regulations on the ownership of cars and licensing requirements to drive one restrict one’s ability to travel. If anyone can drive a car regardless of whether they are licensed to drive, then an unlicensed person’s ability to travel is greatly improved. Nor does the argument that driving is not a right, but a privilege hold any water when one sees that restricting a person’s driving has a dramatic impact on that person’s ability to travel. Just like for regulations on guns or marriage, regulations on cars have a great effect on a fundamental right and can only be justified if that restriction is the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling government purpose.

What is compelling enough to require government intervention is where we should begin and end this discussion. Gun rights advocates insistence that the right to keep and bear arms exists can be taken as a given, but they never consider nor are willing to discuss whether the regulations proposed have a compelling purpose. They say that the 2nd Amendment describes a right that cannot or should not be restricted. Well to those that say that, I say that the Constitution also contains a right to drive a car in order to allow freedom of movement and that right can and is restricted in order to protect public safety.

Therefore, we, as a society, should be able to do no more and no less to restrict gun ownership and use to protect public safety.

What say you?