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What to do if You’re Served with Legal Papers

legal papersIf you have been named as the defendant in a legal case and received a summons, the first thing to do is read the document fully. You need to understand what it is about and what is expected of you. Do not ignore a summons. Even if you do not agree with the premises of it, you may be subjected to legal consequences if you ignore it.

There are a number of different ways legal papers might find their ways to your door.

  •  Hand delivery by a Sheriff or legal process worker.
  •  Delivered to someone at your home at your place of work.
  •  Attaching to the front door of your home.
  •  Via mail. This is the most common method of delivery.

The only legal requirement of the deliverance of court papers is that the expectation the intended recipient will receive them is reasonable.

It’s important to know that if you are implicated in a court proceeding, and the court does not have a record of your home address and no one involved is able (or willing) to provide it, the proceedings may go forward without you- and you may not like the result. If you have any reason to think you may become part of a legal proceeding, it would be wise to proactively go to the courthouse and have them put your home address on file.

If you intend to claim that you no longer live at the address where the plaintiff claims you live, you should be prepared to show proof of your new address such as a utility bill or lease agreement.

Should you choose to ignore the summons, a default judgment can be entered against you. This is usually bad and can sit in the court’s records for years until you eventually find out the hard way.

Do not try to avoid the summons by not accepting a certified package. There is a chance the court will not receive the returned package and will go ahead with the case as if you have received the papers under the assumption that you have chosen to ignore them. Judges tend to get fussy about that kind of thing. Chances are that a default judgment will be entered against you.

How to read a summons

In a lawsuit the documents used are called Pleadings. All lawsuits begin with a set of two pleadings: a Summons and a Complaint.

– The summons is the notice we discussed above. It is the court’s way of letting you know you’re expected to show up in your Sunday best at the specified time to defend yourself. You may sometimes be directed to respond in writing. Your response to the complaint is called an Answer. You must either file it with the court at a certain date or present it in person at a trial.

– The Complaint is a statement made by the plaintiff explaining why they are suing you.

The Settlement

After you receive your summons, you have the option to contact the plaintiff (assuming a restraining order is not involved), and attempt to settle the problem out of court. Be sure to make a record of everything that happens from the moment you receive your summons, to the time things are meant to be resolved. Write down everything that’s been agreed to, who gets what and for how long.

Your Legal Rights During a California DUI Checkpoint

Sobriety-CheckpointGetting stopped by a DUI Checkpoint in the State of California can be a sobering experience. You may find yourself wondering if those two glasses of wine you had with dinner or the three beers you had at the game are going to come back and haunt you.

As you continue driving down the road, you see the flashing lights and the barricades. Yes, you are coming up on a DUI Checkpoint. Are you aware of your legal rights?

While California law states a police officer must have probable cause to search your person or your vehicle, they do not have to have probable cause to stop you for a DUI Checkpoint. It is usually a safe bet that if a national holiday falls on a certain day or a major event, local authorities will set up DUI Checkpoints to help keep the public safe from possible drunk drivers.

Each DUI Checkpoint must follow eight specific guidelines.

1. The Supervising Officers involved with the DUI Checkpoint must make all operational decisions.

2. Cars must be randomly stopped. There should be no set criteria involved when choosing cars to stop for the DUI Checkpoint.

3. For safety reasons, for both motorists and the police officers involved, the DUI Checkpoint must be reasonably located.

4. Adequate safety precautions must be taken.

5. To keep traffic moving in a timely fashion, a DUI Checkpoint’s time and duration should reflect “good judgment.”

6. All police officers involved in the DUI Checkpoint should be able to display proper credentials.

7. Motorists should be stopped for a minimal amount of time. Again, this is to keep traffic moving smoothly, to insure the safety of the public.

8. All DUI Checkpoints should be publicly advertised in advance. Again, this is to insure the safety of both motorists and the police officers involved. Taking this step will help motorists be sure they have time to stop their vehicle slowly and carefully to meet with the Checkpoint.

Once police officers have you safely stopped for the DUI Checkpoint, legally you do not have to answer questions about where you have been, where you are going, or if you have been drinking. However, it may be in your best interest to answer their questions truthfully.

Just because police officers have you pulled over for a DUI Checkpoint, it does not give them the right to search you or your vehicle, unless they have probable cause or at least your consent. You cannot be force to take a field sobriety test. However, if police officers do find probable cause, they may require you to take some kind of chemical test or breathalyzer to determine your blood alcohol content.

What Victims Need to Know About Car Accident Compensation

front end car accidentEvery year, millions of car accidents occur in the U.S causing death, injury, and property damage. When minor accidents occur, the parties involved may simply file reports with the police, contact their insurance providers, and pay their losses out of pocket. When an accident is more than minor, however, the parties who are not at fault should know that they can be compensated for damage to their vehicles and property as well as for other damages.

Those injured in car accidents are likely to face expenses related to the accident. Expenses such as bills for medical treatment, rehabilitation, vehicle rentals or other alternative transport expenses can all build up very quickly even before an accident case is settled.

What’s worse, accident victims are likely to lose income due to their inability to work at the same time as their expenses are piling up. Many car accident attorneys find that victims are often convinced to sign over their rights long before their injuries have healed. They may also lose their ability to perform many of the normal activities of daily living- either in the short term or permanently. Long term pain is another possible result which can make long-term therapeutic care necessary.

The need for collisionrehabilitation therapies can last for years and become an essentially permanent necessity for those injured in a car accident. Needless to say, the pain and suffering that goes along with such incidents can be difficult to measure.
Accident victims can be compensated for all of these types of injuries and all related expenses. Auto accident victims may receive what are called compensatory damages. Compensations of this kind are intended to restore the injured party to as near to their previous state of well-being as possible, what the law refers to as being made whole.

There are two varieties of compensatory damages for which victims can be awarded; economic damages, as well as non-economic damages. Economic damages are those awarded to restore all of the ‘out of pocket’ expenses incurred as the injured party has worked to endure the incident.

These include all the extra expenses of day to day activities which can be said to be responses to the damage caused by the accident. Taxi fare over time, lost wages, and replaced property fall into this category. Non-economic damages are awarded for the pain and suffering experienced by the injured party.

Both forms of compensatory damages may be available to victims of automobile accidents once the value of their claim has been determined. In extreme cases, where an assault or negligence is involved, punitive damages may be awarded. In cases where violence, reckless behavior, collisions resulting from an auto manufacturer’s defective products, or a fault with the roadway caused the accident- the victim may receive funds made available via punitive damages.

Why Orange County Families Should Pursue Compenstion After Wrongful Death

img-wrongful-deathWhen someone has died because of the negligence or even malice of another person in Orange County, it is unlike death from disease or other natural causes.  When someone dies of cancer there is sadness, pain, but the family isn’t left with the knowledge that it was preventable.  There is closure.  When someone has died due to the fault of another or multiple persons, there comes with that death many unanswered questions, and extreme untended rage and sadness.

The family is left with a million “what ifs” and troubling doubts.  They are also left with medical bills and expenses that pile up to present a daily reminder that a life was cut short.  In Orange County wrongful death cases, the families aren’t even seeking money as much as they are seeking justice and answers.  The bills are nothing compared to their loss.  The case is really about closure and doing right by the person they loved, even though they are gone.  As personal injury attorneys we have to be objective about these things and see wrongful death cases from a bird’s eye view.  Seeking settlement is not greed.

It’s not revenge.  There are many reasons to pursue compensation, not all of them having to even do with the victim.

When someone dies because a person or company was neglectful or their product was unsafe, not only was their life robbed, but in many cases their family’s.  Losing a parent or spouse, losing a child—these things are the only things in life that truly matter.  Someone has taken all of what you value from you.  People don’t recover from these things.  That loss is always there.  As personal injury attorneys we are one part lawyer, one part counselor.

We understand that no amount of money will ever compensate someone for the loss of a loved one.  It’s never about that.  Wrongful death cases are about these things:

  • Compensation for medical bills
  • Prevention
  • Justice

There are many reasons to pursue compensation for a wrongful death, and all of them are credible.  In addition to the loss of love, company, and affection that occurs when the people we love pass, there are other, immediate concerns that are also left for families to deal with alone.  People who have lost someone they love unexpectedly also have financial difficulties, as well.  Medical deductibles, loss of income that usually went to support the household, and event debts are all transferred to the remaining families members to deal with.  It makes finding closure next to impossible.

Beyond those concerns is also the fact that without someone pushing back, and forcing justice there will be others who potentially could be injured through this same process of neglect.  By taking a stand, it reduces the chances that others will be hurt.  Take for example, asbestos and mesothelioma cases—had no one fought back, asbestos might have continued to be used and a generation of people fall to cancerous sickness.

Oftentimes, people are judged because they ask for justice in monetary terms, but that stems from a type of prejudice that is unnecessary to inflict upon the grieving.  The truth is that there is no amount of money that can replace life, all that the money does is provide a means to pay bills, establish financial security, and force the person or business whose actions caused the death to fully understand that error and not repeat it in the future.  There is no happy ending when someone you love dies.  All that a wrongful death case does is ameliorate some of the difficulties that exist in the aftermath of a loved one’s death.