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Knott’s Berry Farm Faces Second Log Ride Injury Lawsuit

Five-year-old Charles Miller was sitting in his father's lap on the Timber Mountain Log Ride at Knott's Berry Farm in California when the ride came to a screeching halt after the last drop. According to a lawsuit filed against the theme park by his father, Miller flew forward, forcing his head to be "sandwiched between his father and the back of the seat causing an orbital blowout." Miller suffered a fractured eye socket, and the lawsuit claims Knott's Farm negligently maintained the ride. It turns out this is not the first problem with the log ride or the first lawsuit filed against the park: the family of a 6-year-old girl settled with Knott's Berry after she broke a bone above her right eye hitting her head on the ride, and the Miller suit cites ten other examples where guests were injured in similar incidents. Improper Water The problems for the log ride allegedly occur on the final descent into a large pool of water. According to the lawsuit: [T]he water sensing system for the Timber Mountain Log Ride was not properly monitoring the water level on the ride, especially at the bottom of the last drop, where there was improper water for proper braking, which increased the deceleration experienced by the guests in the log and contributed to their being injured by being thrown against the log's interior components. The suit also claims the California Division of Occupational Safety had previously inspected the ride, made Knott's Berry Farm aware the water sensing system was not working properly, and that the ride was operating out of compliance for almost two years. Contemptible Conduct "The conduct of the Defendants was so vile, base, contemptible, miserable, wretched and loathsome," the lawsuit claims, "that it would be looked down upon and despised by ordinary decent people." Along with compensatory damages for the child's injuries, the suit is also asking for punitive damages against Knott's Berry Farm as well as attorneys' fees. Related Resources: Child Battered by Knott's Berry Farm Log Ride, Family Says (Courthouse News) Who's Liable for Waterpark Injuries? (FindLaw's Injured) When to Sue for Theme Park Injuries (FindLaw's Injured) Disneyland Sued in 140 Injury Cases in 5 Years (FindLaw's Injured)
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Can I Hire a Family Member to Be My Lawyer?

If you have a legal issue, it's only natural to ask the lawyer in the family some questions. Whether you want to hire family as counsel is another matter, however, and one to consider carefully. There are advantages to knowing your lawyer well and to having counsel that really cares about you. But family relationships can be complicated, and mixing it up is not always wise, even if it is allowed. So let's take a look at why you might not want to hire your cousin Vinny to be your counsel, although technically there is no prohibition. Too Much Information? When you talk to a lawyer about a matter, counsel will often have questions that touch on a personal or private aspect of your life. Whether you're planning your estate or defending against a criminal accusation, legal issues can be extremely personal. Do you want Vinny to know everything, considering that you'll also be eating Thanksgiving dinner with him next year? You need to be forthcoming with your lawyer. For some people and for some matters it is easier to share private details with a stranger in a professional context than with a cousin you used to have slumber parties with. For other people, a close cousin is the perfect representative. What is best for you will depend on your case, your relationship, and your other options. Maybe Vinny knows somebody he can recommend to represent you. Having a lawyer in the family is a great starting point for an inquiry but your cousin's office should not necessarily be the last stop. Also, because attorneys are licensed by state bar associations, you can always inquire with local authorities and find out more about your prospective lawyer. Money Matters Other awkward matters arise when it comes to representation, like legal fees. Depending how established your cousin Vinny's legal practice is, you may or may not be able to afford his fees. Maybe Vinny offers you a deal or graciously says he will handle the matter and not to worry about the money. Sounds nice, but you should still find out Vinny's usual price for representation in this type of matter. You do not want your lawyer to feel taken advantage of because resentment doesn't lead to great representation and it is hard not to resent someone who wants work for nothing. Lawyers do all kinds of things for clients -- from making phone calls to writing letters to going to court to filling out forms and much more. All of it is informed by their study of the law. Years of training and practice go into becoming a lawyer. Keep that in mind when you take up Vinny's time with your personal legal matters. Consult With Counsel If you're in need of legal representation and have no family lawyer or prefer to avoid involving that person in your matters, do not worry. There are many able attorneys and many of them consult for free or a minimal fee. Meet some people, tell your story, and find the lawyer who is right for you. Related Resources: Find a Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Top Ten Reasons to Hire a Lawyer (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Interviewing a Lawyer (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Where to Find a Lawyer (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Top 5 Reckless Driving Issues

The dangers of driving are many and you must pay close attention when you're on the road. Not only do you risk serious injury or even death when you're distracted, but there is also the possibility of being stopped by the cops and being charged with a traffic infraction or crime. Aggressive driving and road rage are not crimes in and of themselves. But they do lead to reckless driving, which is an offense. Let's look at the top issues surrounding reckless driving. 1. How Road Rage and Reckless Driving Are Related The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration considers aggressive driving a serious danger. Aggressive driving occurs, according to the NHTSA, when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." Aggressive driving and road rage lead to reckless driving, which leads to accidents and criminal cases. 2. Is Road Rage a Crime? In some states there are added penalties for crimes that arise from road rage. According to the NHTSA two-thirds of all accidents are caused by road rage, which leads to recklessness. So keep your eyes open, signal lane changes, and breathe deep when you feel angry, t could save you time, money, and your life. 3. Distracted Driving: Would You Pass a Textalyzer? Law enforcement officers are concerned about the prevalence of phone use on the road and though there is not yet a way to examine the role of phones in accidents, there may soon be. The textalyzer will allow police to analyze the phone activity of drivers before a crash =, and New York is the first state considering adopting the technology. 4. Can My Car Turn Me In for a Hit and Run? New cars are great for their innovations but would you feel the same way if one of those developments allowed your car to call the cops on you? Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime and, depending on your car's Emergency Assist functions, your car could call the police even if you don't think you need it. 5. Texting and Driving: 5 Potential Consequences You don't want to miss a text as plans can change at any minute. But you also don't want to drive and text or you could end up in an accident or facing a reckless driving charge. In California, fees and fines stemming from a first texting and driving ticket can reach $300. Talk to a Lawyer: If you are charged with a driving offense or a crime, speak to a lawyer today. Many criminal defense atorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Reckless Driving (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Distracted Driving and Texting While Driving (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) State Traffic Laws Directory (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Preparing to Meet a Real Estate Attorney

When you are meeting a lawyer for the first time on a real estate matter of any kind, it's a good idea to make a list. Before your appointment, know your concerns and questions. That's the first step. But it is a big one and will help with what's next, which is meeting your lawyer. So let's break down this list. Don't worry, it's not complicated. Making a List Why are you meeting with the lawyer? Are you seeking a specific service with respect to a particular place or general guidance? Whatever the issue is, try to boil that down to a few sentences. Write them down. Once you know your general goal for consulting with a real estate attorney, you'll have a better sense of what to ask. If you are buying a home, say, and want a lawyer to review the documents -- of which there are many -- consider all your concerns and gather all the paperwork. As you put your file together, questions will arise. Jot them down. Now you have a list. It is natural to have many questions when buying a home. There is a lot to the process apart from finding the right place -- securing financing, passing inspections, filling out endless forms with terms that are confusing and contain new vocabulary. If you're involved in a dispute, that too will involve paperwork, complaints, letters, evidence. Getting help is a good idea and getting organized in advance ensures you get the best guidance. Whatever the reason for your meeting, the key to preparation is gathering your thoughts and relevant documents. When you talk to the lawyer you'll be able to convey your concerns and needs clearly and provide context. Those are the most important steps. Next, you need to meet with the attorney. Consult With Counsel If you are dealing with a real estate matter, or just contemplating one, it's important to get good information and independent guidance. If you are buying a home, for example, the agent won't be your representative. Similarly, if you're dealing with a dispute, having wise and reliable counsel is critical. Get help. Related Resources: Find Real Estate Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Checklist: Are You Ready to Buy a Home? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Types of Legal Fees (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Getting Legal Help With a Tenants' Rights Issue (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Types of Witnesses Involved in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury cases are complex and can involve both expert and lay witnesses. These people will help to prove your case and corroborate your claims. Depending on the details of your case and the specifics of your claim, you may have a few or many witnesses, just laypeople or only experts, or both. Let's look at how the different types of witnesses help you prove a case. Lay Witnesses Negligence cases are proven by showing that someone who owed you a duty of care breached that duty and caused your injury, resulting in compensable damages. That means you as the plaintiff must establish what happened. One way you do that is by gathering evidence from anyone who was at the scene of the incident in question. Lay witnesses are people who have no particular expertise associated with the claim other than the fact they saw something relevant, whether at the scene of the incident or with respect to your injury and treatment. There are two types of lay witnesses that you might employ in a negligence case -- witnesses who saw what happened can testify about the accident and those who know you personally and observed you while injured can discuss that. The testimony of these two types of witnesses provides added support to the things you say. Expert Witnesses There are different types of expert witnesses, too. Depending on the type of case, you may need an expert to talk about engineering, or medicine, or the climate, or soil erosion or pretty much any other complex topic that is implicated in the case. Courts must certify a witness as an expert and who qualifies, as well as the procedure, is dictated by the rules of evidence. Most often, although not exclusively, the experts called upon in negligence cases are doctors, and they testify about the extent of injury, the appropriate treatment now and in the future, and more. Expert witnesses can be quite expensive, charging not only to compile reports that support your claim but also to come in to court and testify in person. But that doesn't mean you don't need them. Talk to a Lawyer If you were injured speak to a lawyer. Tell your story and let counsel worry about what witnesses to call and even how to pay them. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your situation, and many also take cases on contingency which means you will only pay legal fees if you recover damages. Get help. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) What Is a Subpoena? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) In the Courtroom: Who Does What? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Do's and Don'ts -- Being a Witness (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) What Happens at Trial? (FindLaw's Learn About
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Current Happenings by and for Women in White Collar Defense

Amy Greer from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius represented three AIG affiliates in 9.5 million settlement with the SEC. According to the charges, the AIG affiliates steered mutual fund clients toward more expensive share classes, which resulted in them collecting approximately $2 million in extra fees.  The firms entered a settlement where they neither admitted nor denied the charges. They agreed to the disgorgement of the two million dollars in fees, plus interest and 7.5 million in penalties.    Catching Up with Other Women White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers I recently attended the ABA White Collar Conference in San Diego, which resulted in some great opportunities to connect with other women in the field. The annual Women White Collar Defense Association had its annual event in La Jolla the day before the conference began. The ABA Women White Collar Subcommittee also held a reception for women white collar lawyers on the first night of the conference. There was also a fascinating panel discussion titled “Women in the Courtroom: a View from the Jury Box,” which presented a new study on the role of gender in the courtroom and its effect on jurors, which I hope to highlight in the future. Sally Yates Discussed the Infamous Yates Memo The ABA 30th Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime Seminar included an important question and answer style interview with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates about the now famous “Yates Memo.” In her Q&A Sally Yates appeared open and approachable in her effort to directly address some of the questions and concerns about the new policy.  At one point she comically noted that she wasn’t comfortable calling the new policy the “Yates Memo,” and preferred to call it the individual culpability memo.  It is a must listen to for anyone working in the white collar defense sector – you can listen to it here. Caldwell Denies Certification Requirements Finally, although I missed it in person, there were reports that Leslie Caldwell rejected media statements that the Department of Justice would soon require corporations to certify they disclosed all information about individual culpability before they would be granted cooperation credit. In her remarks during the conference, Caldwell denied that any certification requirement was being planned for the future. Read what others lawyers present reported here. The post Current Happenings by and for Women in White Collar Defense appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Supreme Court Calendar: 3 Cases to Watch in January 2016

After a momentous 2015 that saw the Supreme Court save Obamacare (again), give same-sex couples the right to marry, and preserve the death penalty (for now), the Court's October term moves into 2016. While the January session doesn't appear as juicy as previous dockets, there are some cases that will no doubt have a lasting impact. Here are three cases to watch in January 2016 as the Supreme Court closes out the October 2015 term: 1. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (January 11) Even if teachers and other public employees don't want to join a union, they can benefit from the union's collective bargaining on their behalf. Therefore, the Court has previous held that public employees may be required to pay union fees, even if they have opted out of joining the union. These are called "agency shop" arrangements, whereby public employees are still represented by the union for purposes of collective bargaining, but those who opt out of union membership only an agency fee for a "fair share" of the union's costs and unions are prohibited from spending nonmembers' agency fees on "ideological activities unrelated to collective bargaining." But a group of California teachers are saying that even public-sector collective bargaining is political speech and they shouldn't be compelled them to subsidize that speech. The Supreme Court will decide whether these "agency shop" arrangements and violate the First Amendment. 2. Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle (January 13) Is Puerto Rico part of the United States? Sort of -- it is a U.S. territory and Puerto Ricans have U.S. citizenship, but no star on the flag or senator in Congress. Puerto Rico has its own Supreme Court, but also a U.S. District Court. So how does double jeopardy work with these two court systems? Luis Sanchez Valle was indicted in a Puerto Rican court on gun charges, and then also indicted in a U.S. federal court based on the same facts. His lawyers argued that this was essentially charging someone twice for the same crime, violating the prohibitions on double jeopardy. The Supreme Court will decide whether Puerto Rico and the federal government are separate sovereigns for purposes of double jeopardy. 3. Heffernan v. City of Paterson (January 19) Can public employees get demoted if their boss thinks they support a certain candidate? In this case a city police officer (Heffernan) was demoted after another officer saw him holding a campaign sign for a mayoral candidate (Spagnola) who was running against his chief's chosen candidate (Torres). And here's where it gets even murkier: Heffernan is friends with Spagnola, but wasn't working with the campaign or even campaigning at the time -- he was picking up the sign for his bed-ridden mother. The Court will have to decide whether Heffernan has a valid First Amendment claim based on his boss's incorrect perception of his "speech." Keep an eye on FindLaw's Law and Daily Life blog and Supreme Court blog as we update the oral arguments and the rulings in these and other major SCOTUS cases throughout 2016. Related Resources: The Big 4: Major Cases and Legal Issues of 2015 (FindLaw's Decided) The 5 Most Important Supreme Court Cases of 2015 (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog) Supreme Court Could Soon Ban the Death Penalty, Scalia Says (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog) Supreme Court Calendar: 3 Cases to Watch in November (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Texas Law Puts Cameras in Special Needs Classrooms

A new Texas law will require cameras in classrooms with special education students and teachers after an investigation revealed questionable practices in some schools, according to a report from National Public Radio. Last year, a video of an 8-year-old autistic child held captive on the floor in a "calm room" resembling a closet -- over his protests -- was publicized. It prompted parents of special education students to demand cameras in classrooms across the state. The Texas law is the first of its kind in the country but it may be the beginning of a new trend in teaching, given the rise of cameras in policing. Child and Teacher Protection Some teachers resent the intrusion, although video could protect them from false accusations of mistreatment. But there are limits on filming in place in the law. Footage cannot be used in teacher evaluations, audio capability is required for context, and cameras are forbidden in bathrooms. The law's critics say Texas missed the opportunity to better train and compensate teachers, rather than spending on educator surveillance. There is concern that cameras will be a strain on school budgets. Not every school has to install them automatically or even at all. But districts must provide cameras upon request by a parent or school staff member. "Teachers are mixed, and the districts don't like the mandates," said Monty Exter, a lobbyist with the Austin-based Association of Texas Professional Educators. The law, which takes effect at the start of the next school year, applies to all of the state's public schools and charters, and to any self-contained classroom in which at least half the students receive special-ed services for at least half the day. A Major Expense The potential expense imposed by the new law is significant, as there are costs beyond camera equipment, such as added servers, microphones, archival capabilities, ceiling mounts, and labor fees. Plus, some rooms may need more than one camera. "We have to figure out how to store the video and audio, and that's a very expensive thing to do," said Robbie Stinnett, a director of special education for the Duncanville Independent School District. She says she has already received requests for cameras from three parents and expects more. "Schools are stretched," Stinnett said. "If [a bill] becomes law, it needs to be funded, because public education isn't funded well enough to add stuff on top of it." Consult With Counsel If you have a child with special needs, speak to a special education lawyer. Consult with counsel and get help even if you do not suspect mistreatment. A lawyer can help you secure the services your child needs at school. Related Resources: Find a Lawyer (FindLaw Directory) Disability Access to Education (FindLaw) Selecting a Special Education Lawyer (FindLaw)
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Legal Malpractice or Just Bad Lawyering?

A lawyer is an administrator, counselor, clerk, earpiece and voice, sword and shield. It's a lot to ask and not everyone does every aspect of the job just right. Sadly, there are bad lawyers. But that does not mean that they are committing legal malpractice or that you can sue an attorney when a case doesn't go as hoped. Lawyers do not guarantee results. They are, however, bound by the law, ethical rules, and standards of practice. And when they violate the codes of conduct that govern the legal profession, then a malpractice suit is in order. Legal Training and Standards The American Bar Association's (ABA) Rules of Professional Conduct have been adopted by all states but California. All licensed lawyers swear under oath to follow these codes, as well as the law and professional standards, after passing a rigorous exam ("the bar") and graduating from law school. This long process exists in part to drill certain ideas into lawyer's heads. They can't mix their money with client funds -- that is called co-mingling -- and they must work to vigorously represent client interests while remaining within the bounds of the law. If a lawyer has an undisclosed conflict of interest, that can be a basis for a malpractice suit. Breach of contract is another malpractice basis, as are violations of the ABA's codes. Failure to maintain the professional standards when it harms a client is a basis for a negligence claim. Negligent Lawyering Negligence is a basis for a claim whenever a person or entity who owes a duty of care breaches that duty and causes compensable harm. To prove legal malpractice, you must show the following four elements: The lawyer owed you a duty to provide competent and skillful representation. The lawyer breached that duty by acting carelessly or by making a mistake. The lawyer's breach was the cause of an injury or harm. That injury or harm resulted in financial damages. Have a Claim? The rules of professional conduct are many, and lawyers must follow them all. If you believe you have a malpractice claim, speak to an attorney and get your claim assessed. Related Resources: Browse Legal Malpractice Lawyers by Location (FindLaw Directory) Legal Malpractice Claims (FindLaw) Legal Malpractice Lawsuit FAQ (FindLaw)
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Top 10 Divorce Questions a Family Lawyer Can Answer

Going through a divorce is hard. And it's even harder to go through it alone without any legal help. There are many reasons why you'll want to hire an experienced family law attorney to help you with your divorce. One of them is an attorney's ability to accurately answer any and all questions you'll have about the divorce process generally, and your divorce specifically. Here are the top 10 divorce questions to ask a family lawyer: 10. How Long Will My Divorce Take? Although it occupies the 10 spot, this question may be one of the most important you have. Every divorce case is different, but you need to know what to expect and that your attorney has a good sense of how your case will go. A good family attorney should be able to provide a timeline of your divorce from initial filings to completion. This will also give your attorney a chance to give you a step-by-step overview of the divorce process in your state, as well as cue you into any deadlines or waiting periods. 9. What Is Your Experience With Divorce Cases? As part of demonstrating his or her familiarity with the process, your attorney should give you a rundown of their resume. Family lawyers might be experienced in various types of family disputes, without having many divorces under their belts. You should ask your attorney how many divorce cases he or she has handled, or what percentage of the firm's time is devoted to divorces. This gives your attorney a chance to discuss his or her legal experience -- hopefully in a way that inspires confidence. 8. What Can I Reasonably Expect From My Divorce? This is a broad question, but along with the timeline, you need to ask your attorney, if you hire him or her, what you can reasonably expect out of litigating or mediating your divorce. Your attorney should be able to paint you a range of likely outcomes based on your case, giving you a good basis for what to expect. 7. What Documents Will I Need for My Divorce? Depending on your shared assets and debts, you might need to provide quite a bit of documentation to back up your divorce filings. You may need to bring everything from pay stubs and tax returns to prenups and birth certificates to a consultation with a divorce attorney. And a good lawyer will be able to tell you how best to prepare for a divorce. So know what you'll need before you start you divorce. 6. How Will the Divorce Affect My Business? If you're an entrepreneur or small business owner, your first question might be how to protect your business assets during a divorce. Ask your attorney about which legal structure can best insulate your business from divorce proceedings and whether placing your business in a living trust could help protect it, and its assets, from your spouse. An attorney can also help you create an enforceable postnuptial agreement regarding the business (if you don't already have a prenup) and advise you on the effect of community property laws on small businesses. 5. How Will Our Property Be Separated? Who gets what in a divorce can become a major battle, and you'll want to know where you stand before the first shots are fired. But if not, you may need to divide everything from the furniture to the financial assets. There are two main factors to deciding property issues: (1) whether you live in a community property state or not, and (2) whether the property is separate or marital property. Your attorney should be able to tell you which marital property laws apply, and how those laws will apply in your case. 4. How Will Custody and Visitation Be Determined? More important than sorting out the kitchenware is sorting out the kids. ...
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