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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you want results, call us. If you want peace of mind, call us. If you want representation who understands the hardship that has been thrust upon you, call us.

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Archive: Jan 2020

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Achieving peace of mind after a bad accident takes hiring the right personal injury lawyer. You should feel comfortable with your attorney and confident in his or her ability to get the best possible results for your claim. During your free consultations with a few different contenders in your area, ask pointed questions to find out if the law firm is right for you. Do not take this decision lightly, as it could be critical to the outcome of your case.

What Are Your Practice Areas?

Find out what practice areas the firm handles, making sure yours is on the list. If you suffered your injuries in a slip and fall accident, for example, the law firm you select should have slip and fall or premises liability experience. Experience in your practice area will increase the chances of the firm understanding the surrounding laws and how to fight for top results.

Have You Won Cases in My Practice Area?

Ask about the lawyer’s success rate in general and in your practice area. A history of positive outcomes can show the law firm’s ability to negotiate with insurance providers and win verdicts at trial. Although past wins will not guarantee future successes, they can show you the attorney’s strategies, approach, and end results. Also, look at past client testimonials and reviews if the lawyer has them available.

Do You Think I Have a Case?

Give the lawyer details about your personal injury. Explain what happened to the best of your knowledge and who or what you believe caused your accident. Answer the questions the lawyer asks openly and honestly. Then, ask whether the attorney believes you have grounds for a claim. Not all personal injuries give rise to civil claims. In general, your case must involve someone else’s breach of duty of care or intent to harm for you to have a claim.

Will You Be Handling My Case?

If the lawyer thinks you have a case, ask if he or she will be the person handling the matter. Some law firms pass cases off to assistants or paralegals instead of lead attorneys taking care of the cases themselves. You want a lawyer who will be handling your case personally, and who is open to communicating with you from beginning to end. Your attorney should provide individual attention and tailored legal services throughout your claim.

Have You Dealt With Complex Cases?

Your injury claim could involve complicating factors such as catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, broken laws, criminal actions, a commercial defendant, or insurance bad faith. Your lawyer should have the confidence and experience to handle any complications that come your way. Otherwise, you may end up having to switch attorneys partway through your case. Ask whether the attorney has handled complex cases or cases against commercial defendants.

What Is My Case Worth?

Ask what the lawyer thinks your personal injury claim might be worth based on the facts you have given. The lawyer may ask to see medical records or hear your personal story to determine how greatly the injury has impacted you. Then, he or she can use prior experience and legal knowledge to estimate an accurate potential value. You can use this estimate to negotiate for fairer recovery from an insurance company or retain the lawyer to try to get that amount for you. You should also ask what the lawyer charges. Most injury attorneys handle claims on a contingency fee basis, with no fees upfront and no fees for cases they lose.

Can You Go to Court?

Although most personal injury lawsuits settle before reaching the trial stage, it can be in your best interest to hire a lawyer with trial propensities from the start. That way, you will not have to find a new attorney if insurance settlement negotiations fail and you have to take your claim to court. Going to trial is sometimes the only way to force a defendant to pay a fair amount.

Follow your instincts when choosing your personal injury attorney. Pick the one that best matches your needs and gives you confidence in your future.

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Behaviors to Watch for When Adults Are With Children

Sexual abuse of children is a heinous crime. Victims of child sexual abuse are often left with long-lasting trauma that affects them both physically and mentally. What many people do not realize is that around 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser. According to RAINN, around 34% of child sexual abusers are family members, while about 59% are other family acquaintances. While it does occur, strangers are rarely the perpetrators of child sexual abuse.

As a parent or guardian, you need to be careful of which adults you allow in your child’s life. There are various signs you should be aware of that could indicate possible sexual abuse attempts.

Invades personal space of the others

Does an adult in your child’s life do the following? If they do, you may have alarm bells going off:

  • Make others uncomfortable by ignoring social, emotional, or physical boundaries?
  • Refuse to let a child set limits of their own?
  • Regularly tease or use belittling language to keep a child from setting their limits?
  • Insist on hugging, touching, kissing, holding, tickling, or wrestling with a child even if the child does not want this attention?
  • Frequently walk in on the child when they are in the bathroom?

Relationships with a child

Does an adult in your child’s life do any of the following?

  • Turn to the child for emotional or physical comfort?
  • Share personal and private information that is normally shared with adults?
  • Have private or secret interactions with the child, such as gaming, alcohol, drugs, or sexual material sharing?
  • Spend an excessive amount of time texting or calling the child?
  • Insist on spending alone time with the child?
  • Always there to help babysit or take the child on special outings?
  • Buys gifts for the child or give them money for no reason?

Sexual conversations of behaviors

The following are inappropriate and are signs an adult may be grooming a child:

  • Frequently pointing out sexual images or telling dirty jokes with the child present.
  • Exposing a child to pornography.
  • Is interested in the sexuality of the child (their sexual orientation, whether they masturbate, how their body is developing, and whether they are having sex).

It is your job to be aware and protect

As a parent or guardian in your child’s life, you need to be aware of which adults have access to them and how any time is spent between them and other adults. You cannot be with your children every moment of their day. That is why we depend on other adults in our child’s life to care for and protect them, such as school teachers, youth sports coaches, clergy members, and other mentors. However, as we mentioned above, perpetrators of child sexual abuse are usually known by the child and the child’s family.

Be aware of any of the above signs, as they could be grooming behaviors designed to slowly move your child to a sexual relationship. You should also be aware that these behaviors could be displayed by other adults in your own family. Each year, child protective services throughout the U.S. report that many perpetrators of child sexual abuse are parents, other relatives, or siblings. Perpetrators of child sexual abuse can be men or women.

Finally, make sure your child knows that they can tell you anything and they will not be blamed. Have open conversations with your child about appropriate adult behavior, including areas of their body that are off-limits to everyone.

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Local Resources for Child Sexual Abuse Victims in California

Children who are victims of sexual abuse need our help. Every nine minutes in this country, a child becomes a child sexual abuse victim, according to RAINN, an organization dedicated to ending child sexual abuse. One of the most important things you can do as a parent or guardian of a child who has been sexually abused is get your child the help they need.

Victims of child sexual abuse often suffer trauma that has lasting effects, both physically and mentally. As a parent or guardian, you should know that you are not alone in supporting your child. There are many local resources available to help in these situations.

Where You Can Turn to for Help in This Area

  • Audrey Hepburn CARES Center: Located at the children’s hospital of Los Angeles, this center ensures that the children of our area receive medical evaluations for physical and sexual abuse. They say that out of all of their child abuse cases, sexual abuse comprises of 42% of them. You can contact the Audrey Hepburn CARES Center by calling (323) 660-2450.
  • Peace Over Violence: This organization is tremendous because it provides a 24-hour emergency hotline for victims of sexual abuse and assault. Their staff members are trained to provide crisis support for residents of Los Angeles who suffer from sexual assault. Depending on where you reside, they can be reached at the following phone numbers: residents of South Los Angeles can call (310) 392-8381, and residents of central Los Angeles can call (213) 626-3393.
  • LA County Department of Children and Family Services: When you need social workers to be immediately available to provide assistance and investigate child sexual abuse allegations, you can call this government agency 24 hours a day for an emergency response. They can be reached by calling (800) 540-4000.
  • Children’s Institute, Inc.: This agency is based in Los Angeles and works to provide resources and assistance to both children and families who have been traumatized by sexual abuse and violence. They work to provide family support services as well as mental health assistance. They also provide youth development programs. They have various locations, and the phone number of each can be seen by clicking here to go to their page.
  • YWCA of Greater Los Angeles: Our chapter of YWCA provides extensive resources for victims of child sexual abuse. They sponsor a sexual assault crisis service, including a 24-hour crisis hotline. They will accompany victims of sexual abuse to the hospital for a sexual assault examination and provide various support services to victims. You can reach their hotline at (877) 943-5778.

You May Need Help From an Attorney

You may also need to consider speaking with an attorney who has experience helping victims of child sexual abuse and their families. While these are often criminal cases involving law enforcement, victims of child sexual abuse also often have the option of holding perpetrators accountable through a civil lawsuit. Not only will an attorney be able to guide you through this process, but they will also work to ensure that victims of child sexual abuse and their families get the resources they need to begin the recovery process.

Nearly one out of every ten children are sexually abused before they reach their 18th birthday. Our children need help. They need our protection. If your child has been sexually abused by daycare workers, youth sports organizers, school faculty or students, members of the clergy, or anywhere else, contact us today to seek justice and compensation for your child’s pain.

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What Does Sexual Abuse in California’s Schools Look Like?

Schools are supposed to be safe spaces for children. As a parent or guardian, you cannot be with your child all the time. It is important to be able to rely on teachers, school administrators, and other school staff to keep your children safe. But what happens when schools fail to protect children? What happens if you discover that your child has been sexually abused at their school?

Recognizing the signs of sexual abuse

The signs of child sexual abuse are not always immediately apparent. Many cases of sexual abuse go undetected for long periods of time. Parents should look out for any changing behavior their child displays that could be a clue that sexual abuse is it occurring. This can include:

  • Major changes in grooming or bathing habits
  • Suddenly wearing inappropriate clothing (clothing that shows more of your child’s body or clothing designed to hide as much of their body as possible)
  • Excessive amounts online or phone time that is out of the ordinary
  • Withdrawn behavior, secrecy, or isolation
  • Sudden panic or anxiety attacks
  • Destructive behaviors such as drug or alcohol use
  • Suicide attempts

It can be easy to miss the signs that school sexual abuse is occurring because these behavioral changes often mimic what many parents would consider “growing up” behaviors of their child, especially if that child is going through puberty.

Who are the perpetrators of school sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse in schools generally does not happen right away, but rather gradually over longer periods of time. It is often a teacher who takes a special interest in a child, a coach who gradually integrates themselves into the child’s life more and more, or a new friend from school who spends time with your child.

Perpetrators of school sexual abuse will work to build the confidence and trust of the child in what is called the “grooming process.” Grooming is all about control – the control of the abuser over the child.

There are varying ways in which school sexual abuse occurs

School sexual abuse between an adult and child often happens in the following gradual ways:

  • Innocuous texts or emails related to school events or homework
  • Gradually becoming inappropriate texts, emails, or other communication from a school teacher, other school employee
  • Hugging, kissing, or cuddling as a “friend” that can be trusted
  • Physical assault or rape

We need to understand that school sexual abuse can occur between two children at the school (often an older child perpetrates abuse on a younger child). This type of sexual abuse can mimic the type between an adult and a child. It can also include:

  • Online attacks through social media
  • Teasing and harassing comments in front of other people
  • Sexual hazing, which is often swept under the rug as being a natural part of school and/or sports
  • Threats of physical or sexual assault
  • Physical assault or rape

How often does this occur?

The truth is that approximately 90% of children who are sexually abused know the perpetrator of the abuser. Approximately 34% of the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members, while around 59% are other acquaintances (such as teachers, coaches, or other school employees). Some studies show that as many as 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older and more powerful children.

If your child is a victim of sexual abuse at school, contact a school sexual abuse attorney at our law firm to seek justice and restitution.

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Can a Child Recover From the Effects of Sexual Abuse?

Children who have been sexually abused do not all respond the same way, but it is important to understand that they will be affected by what happened. Children are resilient, and they can recover from being sexually abused. But you must help them. As an adult in the life of a child who has been sexually abused, you can take steps to strengthen your child’s trust and ensure they receive the care they deserve.

Children may not fully understand what has happened to them. They may not even realize they have been sexually abused until they become adults. Some children may be ready to talk about the abuse right away, while others may need to move much more slowly. With help from supportive caregivers and from counselors who specialize in caring for sexually abused children, a child can begin the recovery process.

Children who have been sexually abused are at a much greater risk of post-traumatic stress another anxiety symptoms, as well as depression and suicide attempts later in life. As a parent or caregiver, you have the power to make the difference. There are specific steps you can take to help your child recover so they can have a successful life in the aftermath of sexual abuse.

Tell them they are not to blame for what happened

Children are never to blame for what happened. However, children often feel that they are to blame for the sexual abuse that occurred. They may feel responsible for the abuse as well as for causing the pain their loved ones feel when the sexual abuse has been uncovered. If families are split apart because of the abuse, the child may feel even more guilt. We know that approximately 34% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse were family members of the child. Continually reiterate to your child that this was not their fault.

Make sure your child knows you believe their story

Sexual abuse can destroy a child’s trust in adults. Your child needs to know that you believe in their story. They need to know they can trust and count on you to be there for them. When you acknowledge that they have been harmed, and when you get your child help, you are taking the necessary steps to protect them and help your child re-establish a sense of trust.

Tell them you will do everything you can to keep them safe

Your child needs to know that you are committed to taking steps to protect them at all times. This can be an incredibly difficult time for an adult as well, and you cannot be with your child every moment. However, if your child sees that you are taking steps to protect them and that you will intervene on their behalf, they are learning that they have someone who cares in their life.

Seek treatment for your child

You should seek treatment from counselors who are trained to help children who have been victims of sexual abuse. If your child is showing signs of emotional distress, they need to be seen by a specialist who will offer a safe space for them to tell their story. These counselors can also offer guidance and support to you as you move forward in your journey protecting a child who has been the victim of abuse.

If your child is a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of daycare workers, youth sports faculty, school officials, or Boy Scout members, contact us today to seek justice and restitution.

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