Personal Injury Lawyers and Dog Bite Claims

Lots of adults and children get dog bites but whether you collect for your damages in large part depends on state law.

Strict Liability States

In certain states, an owner is strictly liable for the actions of his dog.  You do not have to prove that the owner was at fault in any way to win a lawsuit. Nevertheless, you must prove your actual amount of damages and counter any legal defenses of the dog owner.  A good attorney will end up increasing the value of your settlement.

“Dangerous Propensities” States

In certain states, you cannot win a lawsuit against a dog owner unless you prove that the owner was at fault. Typically, this means you must prove that the dog had “dangerous propensities” or “vicious propensities” — that the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous, and that he failed to take appropriate precautions that likely would have prevented your injury.

          Proving Fault

In a “dangerous propensities” state, you can prove that the dog was dangerous (and that the owner knew or should have known about it) by showing that:

The dog was kept for protection,

The dog had a history of aggressive behavior, including fighting with other animals,

The dog was often chained up indicating that the owner considered the dog dangerous,

The owner warned others about the dog – either verbally of with a “Beware of Dog” sign,

The dog’s breed is known for its aggressiveness.

Stray Dogs

If you are bitten by a stray dog, you cannot sue a non-existent owner. You can sue the city, however, if you can show that the city was obligated to secure the city from the dangers of stray dogs, and that it negligently failed to do so. Lots of luck with that.

Possible Defenses

A dog owner might assert one of several possible defenses in a dog bite lawsuit, including:

Provocation: The dog was provoked into biting by the victim.

Reasonable care: The owner undertook reasonable safety precautions in light of the dog’s known propensities, and therefore should not be held liable for the injury.

Contributory negligence (assumption of risk): The victim removed a dog’s muzzle, or otherwise acted carelessly.

Trespassing: The victim was trespassing on the owner’s property at the time of the dog bite.

If you have suffered a dog bite, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

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Vicarious Liability in Car Accidents

If the driver who caused your injuries did not own the vehicle he or she was driving, you may be able to recover compensation from the owner of the vehicle under the legal doctrine of vicarious liability. Each state is different. Some states offer wide protection for injury victims, while others are far more favorable toward vehicle owners and their insurance companies. You also need to know the laws in your state if you own a vehicle that you allow other people to drive. A local auto accident attorney can help.

Parents and Kids

Parents can be held liable for accidents caused by their kids. Negligent entrustment applies when a parent lets his kid drive the family car, knowing that the teenager is a dangerous driver.

In some states the family car doctrine applies. In those states negligent entrustment is not necessary. Even if the kid is an excellent driver, the parent who owns the vehicle can be held vicariously liable.

Employees

Employers can be held liable for accidents caused by their employees when the employee was driving in the scope of his employment.

Rentals

In some cases, rental companies can be vicariously liable, although you must prove that they were negligent or guilty of criminal wrongdoing.

Loaned Vehicles

Negligent entrustment can be an issue if you loan your car to a bad driver. If you let someone use your car and you know he is intoxicated, for example, you can be held responsible for any injuries he causes.

For a free consultation, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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Why You Need an Experienced Lawyer to Negotiate Your Product Liability Claim

There are many different kinds of personal injury claims: auto accidents, slip and falls, products liability. The product liability claim, which is the appropriate claim to file when you are injured or your property is damaged by a defective product. Product liability law is complex, and it is distinctively different than other types of personal injury claims.

Who You Can Sue

You can assert a product liability claim against a manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer.

If you sue all of them and win, you can collect your damages from any one of the defendants based on a theory of joint and several liability.

What You Have to Prove

To win a product liability lawsuit you must prove that:

You suffered a tangible injury

The product was defective and unreasonably dangerous.

The product defect actually caused your injury.

You were using the product as the manufacturer intended it to be used.

If you prove that the product was defective, you may not have to prove that the manufacturer  was negligent.

Product Defects

Design defects: The defect lies in the design of the product itself.

Manufacturing defects: The manufacturer failed to manufacture the product in accordance with its design.

Warning defects: The product included no warning of its known dangerous side effects.

Establishing the existence of a design or manufacturing defect usually requires an expert witness. In addition, you will have to interview witnesses and collect extensive documentation.

For a free consultation regarding any personal injury case, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

 

 

 

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Head Injuries After an Auto Accident

Head injuries caused by an auto accident can be very serious. This kind of injury can occur at both low and high speeds. While significant injuries can occur if the head strikes an object in the car, it’s also possible for a  brain injury to occur without any direct impact.

Hematoma, skull fractures, and brain concussions are head injuries that can occur during an accident. If any kind of head injury is sustained, it will require immediate medical care.

The Basics of Dealing with an Insurance Company

When someone sustains a head injury during a car accident, the main concern is getting back to normal health. However, you are still faced with medical bills. Compensation may be available in the form of an insurance claim, settlement, or verdict, but getting them is easier said than done. Insurance companies work hard to minimize the amounts they pay out. This is more so if an individual tries to represent himself. Without proper legal representation, it is likely that a head injury victim will get significantly less than he is entitled to receive.

How a Lawyer Can Help Build a Claim

Head trauma caused by an auto accident can be either a closed or open head injury. A closed head injury happens inside the skull, while an open head injury happens when a head wound is open or something penetrates the skull. Because the symptoms of closed head injuries can be less obvious than open head injuries, it is crucial for anyone involved in a car accident to visit a doctor immediately. Seeing a doctor will ensure that a closed head injury does not go untreated. It will also provide documentation of the injury and its direct link to the accident. That type of documentation can help a car accident lawyer build the strongest possible case. Other forms of evidence like photographs, witness statements and a police report will be used.

If you were involved in a car accident and sustained a head injury, you need the right legal representation.

For a free consultation, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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DYI–IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION

The Federal Trade Commission has published this article

Identity theft protection – you can do it!

March 28, 2016

You’ve probably seen ads offering “identity protection” services. In fact, nobody can guarantee you won’t experience identity theft. Those services offer identity monitoring and repair — things you can do yourself, for free.

Concern about identity theft has spawned many companies that watch information sources — most notably, your credit report — for signs that an identity thief may be using your personal information to get loans, open credit card accounts, or otherwise cause financial havoc. You can pay them to alert you to possible trouble, or simply keep watch yourself.

If you’re open to being a do-it-yourselfer, here are some free and low-cost alternatives to buying identity theft protection services:

  • Check your credit reports for free. Your credit reports usually will show if an identity thief opens, or tries to open, an account in your name. Federal law requires each of the three major credit bureaus to give you a free credit report each year at AnnualCreditReport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports.
  • Place a credit freeze on your reports. A credit freeze blocks anyone from accessing your credit reports without your permission. Because potential creditors can’t check your files, a freeze generally stops identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name.
  • Review your monthly credit card, bank, retirement, and other account statements for transactions you didn’t authorize. Better yet, log in to check them more frequently.
  • Keep an eye on your mailbox. If you’re not getting bills, benefits checks, or other mail you’re expecting, or if you get bills for items you didn’t buy, it could be a sign that an identity thief is at work.
  • Review benefits statements you get from your health insurance providers, and immediately tell your insurers and medical providers if you see treatments you never received.

What if you find an identity thief has struck? You can get free recovery help at IdentityTheft.gov. You can report identity theft to the FTC and get a personal recovery plan that:

  • walks you through each recovery step
  • tracks your progress and adapts to your changing situation
  • pre-fills letters and forms for you to send to credit bureaus, businesses, debt collectors, and the IRS

IdentityTheft.gov has recovery plans for more than 30 types of identity theft, including child identity theft and tax-related identity theft.

To learn more about your identity theft protection options, read the FTC’s recently updated article, Identity Theft Protection Services.

 

If you need further information, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Scammers phish for mortgage closing costs

The Federal Trade Commission has distributed this article

Scammers phish for mortgage closing costs

March 18, 2016

Buying a home is exciting. You saved for the down payment, scheduled the move, and are dreaming of planting new roots. Closing is right around the corner… unless a scammer gets your settlement fees first.

The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors® are warning home buyers about an email and money wiring scam. Hackers have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account could be cleared out in a matter of minutes. Often, that’s money the buyer will never see again.

If you’re buying a home and get an email with money-wiring instructions, STOP. Email is not a secure way to send financial information, and your real estate professional or title company should know that. If it’s a phishing email, report it to the FTC.

Here are some ideas to help you avoid phishing scams:

  • Don’t email financial information. It’s not secure.
  • If you’re giving your financial information on the web, make sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with https (the “s” stands for secure). And, instead of clicking a link in an email to go to an organization’s site, look up the real URL and type in the web address yourself.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and security software up to date.

Learn more about protecting yourself from phishing and what to do if your email is hacked. If you gave your information to a scammer, visit IdentityTheft.gov.

If you need further information, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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10 Ways to Avoid Fraud

 

The Federal Trade Commission has distributed this article.

Consumer Information

10 Ways to Avoid Fraud

Scam artists in the U.S. and around the world defraud millions of people each year. They use the phone, email, postal mail, and the internet to trick you into sending money or giving out personal information.

Here are 10 things you can do — or not — to stop a scam.

What to Do

Know who you’re dealing with.

Try to find a seller’s physical address (not a P.O. Box) and phone number. With internet phone services and other web-based technologies, it’s tough to tell where someone is calling from. Do an online search for the company name and website, and look for reviews. If people report negative experiences, you’ll have to decide if the offer is worth the risk. After all, a deal is good only if you get a product that actually works as promised.

Know that wiring money is like sending cash.

Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Don’t wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to anyone who claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency and wants to keep the request a secret.

Read your monthly statements.

Scammers steal account information and then run up charges or commit crimes in your name. Dishonest merchants bill you for monthly “membership fees” and other goods or services without your authorization. If you see charges you don’t recognize or didn’t okay, contact your bank, card issuer, or other creditor immediately.

After a disaster, give only to established charities.

In the aftermath of a disaster, give to an established charity, rather than one that has sprung up overnight. Pop-up charities probably don’t have the infrastructure to get help to the affected areas or people, and they could be collecting the money to finance illegal activity. For more donating tips, check out ftc.gov/charityfraud.

Talk to your doctor before you buy health products or treatments.

Ask about research that supports a product’s claims — and possible risks or side effects. In addition, buy prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies. Otherwise, you could end up with products that are fake, expired, or mislabeled — in short, products that could be dangerous to your health. Learn more about buying health products online.

Remember there’s no sure thing in investing.

If someone contacts you with low-risk, high-return investment opportunities, stay away. When you hear pitches that insist you act now, that guarantee big profits, that promise little or no financial risk, or that demand that you send cash immediately, report them at ftc.gov.

What Not to Do

Don’t send money to someone you don’t know.

Not to an online seller you’ve never heard of — or an online love interest who asks for money. It’s best to do business with sites you know and trust. If you buy items through an online auction, consider using a payment option that provides protection, like a credit card.

If you think you’ve found a good deal, but you aren’t familiar with the company, check it out. Type the company or product name into your favorite search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” See what comes up — on the first page of results as well as on the later pages.

Never pay fees first for the promise of a big pay-off later — whether it’s for a loan, a job, a grant or a so-called prize.

Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back.

By law, banks have to make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. You’re responsible for the checks you deposit: If a check turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for paying back the bank. No matter how convincing the story, someone who overpays with a check is almost certainly a scam artist.

Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or financial information.

It doesn’t matter whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text message, or an ad. Don’t click on links or call phone numbers included in the message, either. It’s called phishing. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into revealing sensitive information. If you got a message like this and you are concerned about your account status, call the number on your credit or debit card — or your statement — and check on it.

Don’t play a foreign lottery.

It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery. And yet messages that tout your chances of winning a foreign lottery, or messages that claim you’ve already won, can be tempting. Inevitably, you have to pay “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your prize. If you must send money to collect, you haven’t won anything. And if you send any money, you will lose it. You won’t get any money back, either, regardless of promises or guarantees.

Report Scams

If you think you may have been scammed:

If you get unsolicited email offers or spam, send the messages to spam@uce.gov.

If you get what looks like lottery material from a foreign country through the postal mail, take it to your local postmaster.

 

If you need further information, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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Integrity Advance is accused of misrepresenting the cost of loans

 

Online lender, Integrity Advance, LLC, and its CEO, James R. Carnes, are in trouble with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

According to CFPB, the company’s contracts did not disclose the costs consumers would pay under the default terms of the contracts. The CFPB also has accused the company of using remotely created checks to debit customers’ bank accounts even after the consumers revoked authorization for automatic withdrawals.

The bureau has filed an administrative lawsuit seeking damages for customers, as well as a civil money penalty and injunctive relief.

From May 2008 through December 2012, the Delaware-based online lender offered loans ranging from $100 to $1,000, and consumers applied for the loans by entering their personal information into a lead generator website.

Upfront information missing

Under the terms of Integrity Advance’s contracts, the loans would roll over four times — causing additional charges to accrue with each rollover; this would occur before Integrity applied any of the payments to the principal amounts. However, on the disclosures the costs were based on the premise that the loans would not roll over and would be repaid in full by the first payment.

Integrity never informed customers of the total costs of their loans if the loans were rolled over. Under the terms of the loans, customers would end up paying finance charges more than double the amount originally borrowed: $765 in finance charges for a typical $300 loan.

The unlawful practices alleged by the CFPB include:

  • Hiding the total cost of loans: Customers were given contracts with disclosures based on repaying the loan in a single payment, even though the terms of the contract called for multiple rollovers and additional finance charges. For example, under Integrity Advance’s payment schedule, a customer borrowing $300 would ultimately pay $765 in finance charges — $675 more than the $90 finance charge disclosed in Integrity’s contract.
  • Requiring repayment by pre-authorized electronic funds transfers: Integrity violated federal law by requiring consumers to agree to repay their loans via pre-authorized Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments. The Electronic Fund Transfer Act says repayment of loans cannot be conditioned on customers’ pre-authorization of recurring electronic fund transfers.
  • Continuing to debit customers’ accounts after they canceled the authorization: Integrity’s contracts with consumers included a clause allowing the company to use remotely created checks if a consumer successfully canceled his or her authorization for ACH withdrawals. The provision was hidden in the loan agreement, and the company used it to take customers’ funds when they believed they did not owe money to Integrity.

If you need further info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

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CITIBANK PAYS

Citibank must pay for illegal debt sales & collection practices

Penalties and reimbursements will total more than $50 million

Citibank faces a bill of more than $50 million to clean up its illegal debt sales and collection practices. This follows two separate enforcement actions by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In the first action, the CFPB ordered Citibank to provide nearly $5 million in consumer relief and pay a $3 million penalty for selling credit card debt with inflated interest rates. They also failed to forward consumer payments promptly to debt buyers.

The second action is against both Citibank and two debt collection law firms that falsified court documents filed in debt collection cases in New Jersey state courts. Citibank and the law firms were ordered to refund $11 million to consumers and forgo collecting about $34 million from nearly 7,000 consumers.

“Citibank sent inaccurate information to buyers when it sold off credit card debt and it also used law firms that altered court documents,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today’s action provides redress to consumers who were victimized by slipshod practices as part of our ongoing work to fight abuses in the debt collection market.

Debt sales

The CFPB said that from 2010 to 2013, Citibank sold portfolios of charged-off credit card accounts. In 130,000 cases, they provided inaccurate and inflated APR information for the credit card accounts it sold to debt buyers. These buyers then used the exaggerated APR in debt collection attempts.

Citibank also failed to promptly forward to debt buyers approximately 14,000 customer payments totaling almost $1 million, the agency said.

If you need further info or advice, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

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WELLS FARGO SETTLES BUT YOU MUST FILE CLAIM FORM BEFORE MARCH 16 DEADLINE

A settlement has been reached in the Wells Fargo inspection fee class action lawsuit, resolving claims that Wells Fargo & Co. and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. improperly assessed property inspections when a mortgage borrower allegedly fell behind on payments by 45 days or more and charged borrowers for that inspection.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs of the Wells Fargo class action lawsuit claim subsequent inspections of the mortgage property were also allegedly ordered every 25 to 35 days for as long as the borrower remained delinquent in payments.

Finally, the Wells Fargo inspection fee class action lawsuit claims the bank concealed these fees from by consumers by labeling them as “Other Charges” on mortgage statements.

The plaintiffs bring several claims against Wells Fargo in this inspection fee class action lawsuit, including violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations by improperly and illegally assessing and charging property inspection fees.

Wells Fargo denies all liability and wrongdoing in this inspection fee class action lawsuit, but has agreed to settle the case in order to avoid the uncertainty of further litigation and increasing court costs.

Per the terms of the Wells Fargo inspection fee class action settlement, Wells Fargo will pay $27,750,000 to establish a settlement fee to compensate eligible Class Members for damages allegedly incurred by Wells Fargo’s actions.

Who’s Eligible

You are a Class Member of the Wells Fargo inspection fee class action lawsuit if you had a mortgage serviced by Wells Fargo and you allegedly owe or paid a bank assessed inspection fee between Aug. 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2013.

Potential Award

Varies. Calculations of each Class Member’s portion of the settlement will depend on which settlement category they fall into and how many Class Members choose to participate in the settlement.

If you are part of the group of Class Members who are part of the “Post Sale” category, then you will need a Claim Number and Control Number in order to submit an online claim form. A complete claim form must be submitted online or mailed in postmarked on or before March 16, 2016.

Claim Form

CLICK HERE TO FILE A CLAIM »

Claim Form Deadline

03/16/2016

Case Name

Young v. Wells Fargo & Co., Case No. 4:08-CV-507 RP-CFB, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Final Hearing

01/21/2016

Settlement Website

www.WellsFargoPropertyInspectionSettlement.com

Claims Administrator

Wells Fargo Inspection Fee Settlement
c/o Garden City Group, LLC
P.O. Box 10106
Dublin, OH 43017-3106
If you need additional info, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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