• What Does Comparative Negligence Mean?

    One key concept in personal injury law is negligence. A person can be considered negligent if he or she acts or fails to act in a way that breaches his or her duty to exercise reasonable caution toward someone else. In some personal injury cases litigated in Tracy or Livermore, just one person is found negligent for an accident that caused another person’s injuries. But quite often, cases are more complex, and even the victim or plaintiff might share some of the fault for the incident. This is where the concept of comparative negligence comes into play.

    Personal Injury Claims

    Comparative negligence states, like California, do not penalize partially negligent plaintiffs by eliminating their right to seek compensation altogether. They can still collect damages, but their award will be reduced by a certain percentage. This percentage is also the percentage of blame they’re assigned for the accident. For example, if the jury decides the plaintiff shares 15% of the fault, his or her compensation will be reduced by 15%.

  • How Life Insurance Fits into Your Estate Plan

    You can purchase life insurance at any time, without consulting a lawyer. However, if you want to maximize the inheritances of your heirs , your best option is to seek professional estate planning advice in Tracy or Manteca. An attorney who handles these cases can give you the most effective guidance to make estate laws work for your family’s benefit.

    Watch this video to find out how. It features a financial planner, who presents the hypothetical example of a husband and wife who each gift $14,000 to each of their three children. This totals $84,000. The financial gifts would help their children today, but if the couple were to invest that amount into life insurance, their children could receive around five million in death benefits in the future.

  • Estate Planning Terminology Every Adult Should Know

    Estate law involves complex nuances of language, and the terminology can be baffling to non-lawyers. You can always count on a will lawyer near Tracy or Manteca to fully explain anything that isn’t clear to you. However, it’s still advisable for all adults to have a basic understanding of the most common estate planning terms.

    Estate Planning Terminology

    Last Will and Testament

    Your will dictates how, after satisfying debts, your remaining assets in your estate will be distributed to your heirs. Heirs are also called beneficiaries. You can use your will to distribute specific pieces of property if you wish, or to provide for your pets in the event that they outlive you. If you have any minor children, you should use your will to designate a guardian for them.

    Guardian

    A guardian is someone whom you trust to raise your minor children in the event that you die before they reach the age of majority.

    Executor

    The executor of your will is the person who will be responsible for seeing that its terms are carried out. Even when the executor works with a lawyer, he or she will have many complex responsibilities. Before designating an executor, you should ask that person if he or she is willing to take on these responsibilities.

    Trust

    A trust is a document that is legally binding. You can transfer assets into the trust during your lifetime. The trust manages the assets, and after your death, the trust distributes the assets to your beneficiaries.

    Trustee

    A trustee is a person whom you’ve designated to manage the trust. A trustee might also be a corporate entity instead of a single person. Trustees are responsible for administering and distributing the trust in accordance with the instructions in the trust document.

    Probate

    Probate is a legal process. It begins when the executor of a will files the will with the probate court in order to validate it. Validating a will means to prove that it’s legally valid. Probate involves paying the decedent’s debts and distributing the remaining assets.

  • Can I Sue a Restaurant for Food Poisoning?

    The pain and gastrointestinal effects of food poisoning can range from unpleasant to excruciating. Sometimes, food poisoning can even be life-threatening. It’s possible to accrue significant medical expenses if you need to be hospitalized for a foodborne illness, and you shouldn’t have to pay for medical bills when someone else is to blame. It’s tricky to prove that a restaurant is liable for a particular case of food poisoning, but it’s still worth your time to visit a personal injury lawyer serving Tracy or Livermore. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses.

    Foodborne Illness

    Preserving the Evidence

    Food poisoning liability can be difficult to prove, and your attorney will need all of the evidence he or she can get. If you brought your leftovers home from the restaurant, do not throw them out if you suspect the food made you ill. Your injury lawyer may request to send them to a lab for testing to confirm that the restaurant served you contaminated food. Upon falling ill, you should go to an urgent care clinic or ER, even if you feel like you could recover at home. Your illness may be more serious than you think, and your medical records will be instrumental in proving your claim.

    Testing Your Illness

    A general diagnosis of food poisoning, not supported by lab tests, probably won’t be enough to obtain a favorable outcome for your case. Ask the doctor to conduct lab tests to determine exactly which pathogen has caused your illness. Some of the most common are salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus. It’s possible to use DNA testing to confirm that your pathogen originated from the restaurant.

    Determining Liability

    Restaurants owe a duty of care to their patrons to handle food under sanitary conditions, and to cook it to the proper internal temperature. Your attorney can investigate the restaurant to determine if the staff may have breached the basic standards of food hygiene. However, it’s also possible that the restaurant itself isn’t to blame. The problem may be further up the supply chain, such as the farm or processing plant. Pinpointing the exact cause of your illness will determine the party named as the defendant in the lawsuit.

  • Should I Agree to Be an Executor? | Bakerink, McCusker & Belden

    Executors of wills are generally selected because of their ability to work with numbers, handle complex paperwork, and pay attention to little details. It can be flattering to be asked to be an executor, but don’t give your answer right away. Consider talking to an estate planning attorney near Tracy or Manteca about your responsibilities as an executor before you make a decision. If you do agree, you could ask the testator to select an alternate executor in the event that you no longer feel capable of carrying out your duties when the time comes.

    Abilities and Limitations of attorneys

    Evaluate your abilities and limitations.

    Critically examine whether your abilities would make you well-suited to carrying out the responsibilities of being an executor of the will. It isn’t necessary for competent executors to have a background in finance or law. You always have the option of hiring an accountant, and it’s a smart move to hire an estate planning attorney to guide you through the probate process. However, you should at least be comfortable working with numbers. Know that probate can be quick and easy or lengthy and arduous, depending on the deceased’s estate and the beneficiaries. Consider whether you would have time to take on these tasks, and whether you’re willing to commit to using your time this way.

    Consider your relationship with the individual.

    Contrary to popular belief, spouses do not always make the best executors. After the death of their loved one, a bereaved spouse must cope with grief and all of the challenges that go with it—such as cloudy thinking and poor concentration. Think about suggesting an alternative executor or recommend that your spouse chooses a paid, professional executor.

    Assess the size of the estate.

    Of course, there’s no way to predict what the individual’s estate will be like once that person dies. But you can ask some general questions to get a sense of how complicated and large it might be. Complicated estates may be better left to a professional executor.

  • Can You Contest a Will?

    Under certain circumstances, it’s possible to challenge the validity of a will . If you’re thinking about drafting a new will, talk to a lawyer in Tracy or Manteca about reducing the risk that your will is going to be contested. An estate planning attorney can also assist beneficiaries who believe that a deceased person’s will is invalid.

    For more information about contesting these documents, watch this quick video. It explains the four primary grounds for contesting a will. They include the assertion that the deceased was legally incompetent or was acting under duress. A will may also be declared invalid if there is a valid will drafted on a later date, or if the will was not executed properly.

  • Quick Look at Compensatory Damages | Bakerink, McCusker & Belden

    One of the most common questions asked of personal injury lawyers serving Tracy and Livermore is, “How much is my claim worth?” No attorney can precisely predict how much money you could receive in a jury award or settlement, but you can get an estimate of your compensatory damages. Compensatory damages refer to the money intended to compensate you for the actual amount you lost because of the other person’s negligence.

    Compensatory Damages

    In other words, compensatory damages include your related medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. If your neighbor’s dog attacks you and destroys your designer handbag, your compensatory damages would include the value of that handbag. You can help your attorney develop an accurate estimate of your damages by keeping track of all of your expenses in the wake of the incident. Save receipts for all of your pharmacy co-pays, and save any other documentation, such a estimates for your car repairs if the incident was an auto accident.

  • The Responsibilities of Trustees

     

    Trust administration is complex, and it benefits from the attention of a skilled lawyer. Trustees living near Tracy or Manteca must ensure that they follow applicable California laws, as well as the terms specified in the trust document. You can hear more about these responsibilities by watching this featured video and consulting your lawyer.

    Trustees have an obligation to act in a way that serves the best interests of the beneficiaries. They owe a duty of impartiality to avoid favoritism among the beneficiaries, and they cannot have personal or financial conflicts of interest. Trustees also have a responsibility to manage the trust property in a fiscally prudent way.

  • What Is a Preponderance of the Evidence?

    One of the many ways that civil trials differ from criminal proceedings is the burden of proof. In a criminal trial, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A favorable outcome for a civil lawsuit only requires that the personal injury lawyer demonstrates the defendant’s negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, the judge will instruct the jury to reach a decision based on whether it’s more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s damages. Prospective plaintiffs who live near Tracy or Livermore can consult a personal injury lawyer to find out whether their cases have merit.

    Civil Lawsuit

    In a personal injury lawsuit, it isn’t necessary for a lawyer to have a greater quantity of evidence than the other party. The quality or trustworthiness is far more important. If the defense has a handful of witnesses who aren’t credible, and the plaintiff’s attorney has one witness with stellar credentials and rock-solid testimony, then the jury is more likely to find in favor of the plaintiff based on the preponderance of the evidence.

  • Wrongful Death Cases: The Evidence Your Attorney Needs

    If your loved one died because of someone else’s negligence, you may choose to file a wrongful death case against that person. When you contact a lawyer in Tracy to determine if you have a case, he or she will need certain evidence to proceed with the suit and pursue damage on your behalf. Here is a look at some of the evidence your attorney will need to put your wrongful death case together.

    Wrongful Death Cases in Tracy, CA

    Death Certificate and Reports

    Your lawyer will need as much information as possible about how your loved one died. This means that he or will need a copy of the official death certificate that lists the exact cause of death. He or she will also need a copy of any police reports associated with the death or any event that contributed to the death, such as a report from the scene of a car accident. If there was an autopsy, your attorney will also need a copy of that report. In cases that involve medical malpractice, your lawyer will need copies of medical reports as well.

    Evidence of the Relationship

    As part of your wrongful death case, your attorney will need to show that there was a relationship between your lost loved one and the person you are holding responsible for his or her death in which that person owed your loved one a duty of care. This relationship can be the expectation that a doctor will act in the best interest of his or her patient or the responsibility of a driver to drive safely to protect other people on the road. Your attorney can tell you what kind of evidence will best prove this relationship in your specific case.

    Financial Records

    To determine what claim you may be entitled to, your attorney will need to calculate both the financial and emotional cost to you of losing your loved one. One strategy he or she will use to prove the financial loss is to show the income your lost loved one contributed to your household in the past and how that lost income will affect your family financially.