The Legal Insider

January 2015

Involved in a Car Accident? There’s an App for That

car-accident-sidekickCar accidents happen every day, but a survey from the National Associations of Insurance Commissioner has shown that many drivers do not know what to do after an accident.

Gathering proper evidence after you have been in a car accident is very useful and can be the deciding factor in protecting your rights or proving fault. Fortunately, there are a variety of smartphone applications that walk you through crucial steps after you have been in a car accident.

The following smartphone applications and other options can help you minimize harms in the aftermath of a car accident:

  • Car Accident Sidekick: This app allows you to go through a step-by-step checklist after you have been involved in an accident. This allows drivers to know what type of information they need to take down.
  • Car Accident +Report: This app allows you to pre-load emergency contact info, personal data, vehicle registration, and vehicle insurance info so it will be ready when you need it. It also tracks your location using GPS so you know exactly where you are after a car accident.
  • Auto Accident: This app tells you the necessary things to think about right after an accident and also gives you all the essential steps and information that you must obtain for reporting to your insurance company.
  • Car Accident Handbook: This app is also designed to walk you through the essential steps after a car accident and also describes how to file a claim after an accident or theft.
  • Other Sources: A smartphone also has other types of useful apps such as a camera and video and audio recording that could be very useful in documenting the accident and any resulting injuries.
  • Internal Notepad: Note-taking applications are also very useful when you do not have a pen or paper around.

Accidents happen, so it’s important to think ahead and be prepared.

What to Do If Your Child Is Injured?

If you purchased a suspect toy for your child, and the defective or dangerous product subsequently injures your child, it would be prudent to contact an attorney. While a personal injury lawyer might be suited to handle the case, you should probably consider contacting an attorney who specializes in products liability cases. He or she will know the best ways to handle your case going forward.

What to Do If You Are Injured by a Defective Airbag

defective-airbag Recently, Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata knew about and hid the fact that their airbags carry a high risk of injury when deployed. In 2004, following an accident in Alabama where a deployed airbag sprayed metal debris onto the passenger, Takata performed secret tests on their airbags.

The tests revealed that the airbags had serious issues—so serious that engineers began preparing for a recall. However, instead of recalling the airbags or warning the public, Takata executives discounted the tests and ordered the destruction of the testing data.

Now, former and current Takata employees have broken the silence on the defective airbags. It is suspected that Takata airbags have been responsible for at least 139 injuries.

What to Do If You Are Injured

If you were recently involved in a car accident and for some reason your airbag did not deploy properly, or if it deployed in a way that caused further injury, you may have cause to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. Below are some helpful tips to remember when pursuing your claim.

  1. Keep all records related to your vehicle purchase.It is important that you keep all documents you received when purchasing your vehicle. Most importantly, hold on to your vehicle’s owner’s manual, as it will contain information about the manufacturer of the various components, including the airbag.
  2. Keep records of all doctor visits and bills.If you are actually injured in your accident, you should seek medical attention right away. Be sure to retain all bills you accumulate as the result of your visit. If you were injured as the result of a defective airbag, you may receive compensation for your injuries and medical bills.
  3. Contact an experienced products liability attorney.Once you have received medical attention, it is time to consider whether or not you should file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. In such a situation, an experienced products liability attorney will be best suited to assess whether or not you have a viable claim. He or she will also be able to guide you through the complicated and often stressful process of filing a lawsuit.

Does the Fence in Your Yard Comply with the Law?

boundaryFence-and-lawThe majority of fencing laws place a limit on the height of man-made fences in residential neighborhoods to four feet. In backyards, the maximum height is six feet. Fencing is regulated by local laws that are established by cities and counties, and regulations known as Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

What Are the Height Restrictions of Fences?

There are also restrictions on the height of natural fences consisting of bushes or trees. If the natural fence conforms to the definition of a fence, then local laws concerning the height of a fence will be enforced.

In most instances, putting a row of bushes and trees along the edge of a property will comply with the meaning of a fence. Several height restrictions of natural fences fall within the range of five to eight feet.

Exceptions to Height Restrictions of Fences

Despite the presence of fencing laws, there are situations where a violating fence can remain in existence. One such example is where the fence was constructed prior to the passage of the ordinance. If the height of the previously existing fence exceeds the limit set forth in the ordinance, for the most part, it can remain in place.

Another instance is where a property owner applies for a variance, which is an exception to the law that is allowed only once. The city will usually grant a variance when the owner of the property plans to protect the property from unfavorable conditions, such as noise from a highway.

How Does the Law Apply to Boundary Fences?

Boundary fences, which are also called division fences or partition fences, are fences that are situated on the border between two properties. Such fences fall under the ownership of both property owners when fences are used by both of them. The definition of “use” varies among the states.

While some states consider “use” to mean occupancy, or use of the land to the point at which it reaches the fence, other states define “use” as join, or attaching a fence to the boundary fence. And then there are states that describe “use” as enclosure of the property owner’s entire property by a fence attached to the boundary fence.

Who Is Responsible for Maintaining Boundary Fences?

The majority of state and local laws hold both property owners responsible for maintaining boundary fences unless there is an agreement that states that only one of them is to be held liable in the event that the fence needs to be repaired. Therefore, both owners are required to share the cost of repairs. If one owner decides not to contribute to the cost of repairs, the other owner has some available options. They are:

  • Write a letter to the neighbor regarding the issue concerning the fences.
  • Have the fence repaired, after which the owner can write a demand letter asking for payment from the neighbor.
  • Attend mediation.
  • File a lawsuit against the neighbor for reimbursement.

Should I Consult an Attorney?

If you have a fencing or boundary dispute with your neighbor that you cannot resolve through mediation, you should consult a real estate attorney, who can advise you as to how to arrive at a favorable solution.

Estate Planning Tips

Estate Planning TipsNo one likes to think about their own death. This becomes a practical problem if it makes you avoid estate planning activities. A little preparation today can save significant time and money for your loved ones.

  1. Disability– Modern medicine can preserve the body, but it can’t ensure that a person will be able to move or will even be conscious. If you become paralyzed or trapped in a vegetative state, proper estate planning can direct doctors, courts, and family about how you want your condition treated. In those cases, proper power of attorney documents can resolve many legal disputes.
  2. Jurisdiction– What happens to property in other states or even other countries? The answer will vary depending on the property, the state your properties are in, the location of death, and the location your will, trust, or estate planning device was executed in. In some cases, multiple wills may be required. In other cases, the state of execution may have laws that recognize wills created in other states. For instance, California will recognize wills that were created in other states as long as those wills were validly executed in those states.
  3. Digital Assets– In the 21st century, more and more assets are being stored online. Bank accounts, social network profiles, and online businesses can be valuable. When a person passes away though, passwords are often lost and third party websites often refuse to change or remove profiles absent a court order. If you have an internet presence, you should account for those assets in your estate planning.
  4. Taxes– There are two things you can’t avoid in life: death and taxes. But those things are not mutually exclusive. When you die, your estate may be taxed. Take this into account so that your loved ones will receive more of your assets than the IRS will.

Find a Lawyer Now