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How Much Will a Car Accident Lawyer Charge You?

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If you’re involved in a car accident, and another party is at fault, you’ll be able to appoint an attorney on a contingency basis. Find out when it’s worth the cost.

If you’ve been in a car accident, and someone also is to blame, you’ll be looking for a plaintiff’s car accident lawyer. We all know lawyers are expensive, but how much will you need to pay?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how contingency fees work and what you may expect if you decide to hire a lawyer to handle your car accident case.

  • Fees and Expenses

Depending on the lawyer and your contract for lawful services, you may or may not be responsible for upfront court fees and other litigation operating expense.personal-injury-law-practice-guide

These fees and expenses contain court filing fees, cost of serving summonses and subpoenas, expenses of obtaining medical records and police reports, court reporter fees, and expert witness fees.

Many personal injury firms need the client to pay the above-mentioned fees as they become due. If your contract states that you are responsible for these expenses, you can expect a personal injury firm to call you and seek payment as the fees become due. If you cannot pay these costs, your case will likely not proceed until there is a payment.

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  • Other Fee Arrangements

Not all cases will involve a pure contingency fee agreement. Lawyers may collect an initial retainer to begin your case and also collect an emergency fee at the end of your case. However, if you recover money in your case, the amount already paid to the attorney must be subtracted from the percentage that is due to the attorney at the end of the case. For example, if you paid $2,000 to the lawyer as a retainer and recover $90,000 in a resolution, the attorney will receive $28,000 from the resolution ($30,000-$2,000 = $28,000).

  • Is a Car Accident Lawyer Worth The Cost?

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The general rule is this: The more serious the injuries, the higher the value of hiring a lawyer. If you were in a minor fender bender with little or no injury, you may probably negotiate an acceptable settlement yourself. You would be doing yourself a disservice to pay a lawyer a third of an easy and almost guaranteed — settlement.

On the other hand, if you were injured and needed any important medical treatment, the settlement value of your case rises quickly. This means the insurance adjuster will work to reduce your damages and try to get you to accept a very low settlement offer – they are in the dealing of making money, not spending it. This fact is evidenced by a 1999 study by the Insurance Research Council who finished that, on average, claimants represented by a lawyer received 3 ½ times the settlement money like those without.

In this case, you’ll advantage from having a lawyer to negotiate your damages effectively. Additionally, the threat of a court case and trial puts pressure on the insurance company to offer a fair settlement.

 

Choosing Your Car Insurance In Calgary can be a tricky task, one of the easiest ways of doing this is to choose a broker who has access to all the major underwriters, This way you know you ae going to receive the correct cover you require at a price that suits you. So you wont ever need a car accident lawyer that you need to pay for.…

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New Energy Efficiency Regulations for TVs Are Coming to California: Why You Should Be Concerned

IFA Trade Fair Opens to Public
The California Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission is in the process of considering new energy efficiency regulations for televisions which would require substantially increased energy efficiency. (fn1)

Current Standards

Proposed Standards

Under the proposed rules, which were largely based on recommendations from California’s utility ca_en_cat_tvs_feature_003industry, power usage would be limited to 1.0 watts in stand-by mode. Power usage in active mode would be based on screen size — ultimately based on the following formula: [{0.12 watts x the screen area (in square inches)} + 25 watts]. All TVs would be required to have a power factor of no more than 0.9. In addition, all TVs would be required to include a menu that forces a viewer to select the display mode each time the power is turned or to have automatic brightness controls. TVs would also have to include features placing the unit in stand-by mode when not in active use.

The proposed rules would begin to take effect after January 1, 2011 and would cover both stand-alone and combination TVs, but still exclude computer monitors. (fn3)

Expected Impact of the Proposed Standards

television_comparisonsA review of the product database for TVs on the commission website indicates that almost 18% of the models listed would not be compliant with the new standards for stand-by power. It is not surprising that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has opposed the proposed rules, estimating that up to 30% of current TV models could not be sold under the new regulations. According to the CEA and the Plasma Display Coalition, the models that would be most greatly impacted by the proposed rules would be TVs with larger screen sizes and greater functionality — in other words, the units with the highest profit margins. (fn4)

On the other hand, some manufacturers of TVs and TV components had applauded the new rules. Vizio sent a letter to the commission in which it stated that it currently has LCD models that meet the proposed standards and that “there are significant efficient achievements on the near horizon” that could permit its plasma TVs to meet the new standards as well. (fn5)

At present, the rules are merely proposals. There are likely be at least 1-2 hearings with stakeholders, as well as at least one round of formal public hearings, before the Commission adopts final rules. However, the current economic and political climate makes it likely that tough, new rules will be adopted.

Compliance, Enforcement and Litigation Risk

AG-master1050Under Commission regulations, manufacturers of TVs and most other covered products must test their products for compliance with the Commission’s energy efficiency standards. (fn6) A manufacturer must also file a certificate of compliance with the Commission. The Commission places compliant products on a database that is published on its website. (fn7) According to Commission rules, only products that have been tested and that appear on the Commission database may be sold or offered for sale in California. (fn8)

It should be noted that the Commission has limited enforcement capabilities. The sole enforcement televisions_400x265power granted to the Commission by statute is the power to seek an injunction, where a violation requires “immediate action to protect the public health, welfare, or safety.” (fn9) The Commission has not brought such an enforcement action in recent memory. The Commission also has no inspection force to ensure that its rules are being complied with.

While the Commission may pose a limited direct threat, many manufacturing and vendor agreements contain clauses requiring suppliers to comply with all applicable laws. A non-compliant supplier could also be subject to suits by private individuals under California’s Unfair Competition law — which, inter alia, could subject it remedies such as to disgorgement of profits earned from the sale of non-compliant goods. (fn10)

Conclusion

Given the current economic and political climate, manufacturers of TVs and other appliances can expect increasing demands for energy efficient products from state and federal regulators.

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Melkonian v. Facebook: New Privacy Suit against Facebook Faces Challenges

ct-facebook-lawsuit-20160510Digital media law update: News has just broken about a suit filed by five individuals against Facebook for alleged privacy violations. While the ink has barely dried on the court filings, in my view, the plaintiffs face significant legal hurdles to recovery of significant damages. Here is an initial analysis of the claims in the complaint — Melkonian, et al., v. Facebook, Inc., et al., Superior Court of the State of California, County of Orange, Case No. 30-2009-00293755:

The plaintiffs and their allegations

This is not a class action, but a joint suit by a rather mixed bag of plaintiffs:

• The lead plaintiff, Melkonian, is a photographer who claims that images she took have been posted on Facebook without her consent.
• Two plaintiffs are minors under age 13 who created Facebook accounts without their parents’ consent and uploaded personal information and photographs onto the site.
• The fourth plaintiff is a college student who joined the original form of Facebook, “Thefacebook,” in 03germanfacebook2-master768May 2005 and uploaded personal information when the site operated under an allegedly more privacy-protective set of terms and conditions.
• The fifth plaintiff is an actress who claims that digital images of her have been uploaded onto the site without her consent.

Much of the 41-page complaint is devoted to a history of Facebook’s changing policies on user privacy, its interactions with groups such as “People Against the New Terms of Service,” discussions about public attitudes toward privacy, and various private and public investigations into Facebook’s privacy practices. The primary factual allegations in the complaint are:

(1) Facebook data mines personal information posted on its site and exploits this by providing it to facebook-marketplaceadvertisers who use it to target ads to users;

(2) Facebook’s posted privacy policies are incomplete, misleading and unfair. For example, on February 4, 2009, Facebook unilaterally changed its terms of service to include, inter alia, a grant by users of “an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute User Content . . . and to use your name or likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising . . .” According to the Complaint, this is an outrageous extension of Facebook’s rights over its user’s data;

(3) Facebook fails to adequately warn users about the dangers of posting sensitive personal information online;

(4) Facebook fails to prominently disclose its privacy policies and terms of use at sign-up and employs confusing and ineffective privacy protection tools;

(5) Facebook has no technical safeguards to prevent misappropriation of user data by third-party developers who have access to the site;

(6) Facebook fails to provide users with a simple and permanent means to delete their accounts and personal data;

(7) Facebook’s uses “social ads” — customized advertisements that use private data, such as a user’s name and photo — to advertise products and services to the user’s “friends” and others users within that person’s network;

(8) Facebook uses tracking technology called “Beacon” that allows third parties to gather information about user’s purchase activities and then create social ads regarding such purchases;

(9) Facebook lacks adequate safeguards to prevent registration or use by children under age 13.

Analysis of the causes of action

_76780127_76780126Based on these wide-ranging allegations, the complaint states six separate causes of action against Facebook, including: (i) and (ii) statutory and common law misappropriation of the right of publicity for its use of the plaintiffs’ names and photographs without consent for advertising purposes; (iii) violation of the California unfair competition law for its data mining practices and dissemination of the plaintiffs’ personal information, (iv) violation of the California Constitutional Right to Privacy for its commercialization of plaintiffs’ personal information; (v) violation of the California Online Privacy Act for failing to “conspicuously post and comply” with the privacy policies required under the Act, and (vi) violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act for unconscionably changing its Terms of Use and privacy policies without notice, and representing that user information would remain private, but then providing it to third party advertisers.

_76780123_1d5251c2-a507-449a-a910-a79f7448e2e2The claims of the lead plaintiff, Melkonian, appear to be claims for copyright infringement. As such, some or all of her claims here could be preempted by the Copyright Act. Putting this issue aside, the remaining four plaintiffs’ claims are based on allegations that their names, personal information and/or photos were used commercially without their consent.

So do these claims have any legs?

Causes of action 1 & 2: misappropriation of name and likeness

To make out a valid claim of common law misappropriation of name or likeness, a plaintiff must show that (1) the defendant used his/her name or likeness; (2) the use was to the defendant’s advantage, commercially or otherwise; (3) lack of consent; and (4) resulting injury. Eastwood v. Superior Ct. (1983) 149 Cal.App.3d 409, 417. To make out a valid claim under the California privacy statutes, a plaintiff must prove the same elements, however the defendant must have used the plaintiff’s name directly in connection with the advertising or sale of goods. California Civil Code § 3344.

facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-san-francisco-april-12-2016Here, the plaintiffs appear to adequately plead that their names and likenesses were used by Facebook to its advantage, and specifically in advertising — via data mining and social ads. Plaintiffs also appear to adequately plead that this use was without their consent — although Facebook will surely argue that the plaintiffs consented by agreeing to submit to its Terms of Use. While none of the privacy plaintiffs appear to claim that they suffered economic damages, economic damages are not required to make out a privacy cause of action. Under California law, emotional damages are sufficient. See Abdul-Jabbar v. General Motors Corp., 85 F.3d 407 (9th Cir. 1996).

In defense, Facebook will doubtless claim that the plaintiffs consented to its use of their personal data by agreeing to its Terms of Use when they signed up on the site. While Facebook changed its Terms of Use over time, this does not necessarily mean that new terms are invalid. (See our blog post of March 31, 2009). Facebook may have more difficulty in showing that the minor plaintiffs gave consent to the use of their personal data, but the resolution of that issue awaits further discovery.

Facebook might also argue that its use of the plaintiffs’ names and likenesses did not constitute “publicity” and hence is not actionable as a violation of the plaintiffs’ rights to privacy. It is a basic principle of California law that the right of privacy is only violated by “publicity” — a communication to the public in general, or to a large number of people, as opposed from communication to an individual or a few persons. See Schwartz v. Theile (1966) 242 Cal.App.2d 799, 805; 5 Witkin, Summary of California Law, 10th ed., Torts, § 654 (2005). The typical misappropriation of name or likeness case involves public advertising in which the name or the picture of the plaintiff is used to tout the product. Use of a plaintiffs’ name or likeness in data mining, or even social advertising, may not expose it to a large enough number of people to be considered publicity.

Privacy setting shortcuts are displayed on Apple Inc. iPhone 6 smartphone screen as a FaceBook Inc. logo is seen in this arranged photograph taken in London, U.K., on Friday, May, 15, 2015. Facebook reached a deal with New York Times Co. and eight other media outlets to post stories directly to the social network's mobile news feeds, as publishers strive for new ways to expand their reach. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook might also consider arguing that the common interest privilege applies to its practices because the data mining information and social ads were only distributed to a small number of interested parties.

Even if plaintiffs are successful in these claims, the complaint does not plead much of a case for a large damage award. There are no claims of monetary losses, and a jury may wonder how much emotional damage could be caused by plaintiffs’ knowledge of Facebook’s data mining practices, or the use of plaintiffs’ pictures in a social ad. While minimum damages are also available, the statutory amount is rather low — $750. On the other hand, an injunction prohibiting data mining or social ads could create significant lost revenue for Facebook.

Cause of action 3: breach of the California unfair competition law

The third cause of action, for breach of California’s unfair competition law (Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq.), is based on plaintiffs’ misappropriation of name and likeness allegations in the 1st and 2nd causes of action, and the statutory violations stated in the 4th-6th causes of action. As such, it will stand or fall based on the result of the litigation of those claims.

Cause of action 4: violation of the California constitutional right to privacy

The fourth cause of action, for violation of California’s constitutional right to privacy, is a cognizable claim. However, to succeed, a plaintiff must show: (1) a legally protected privacy interest, such as an interest in precluding the dissemination of sensitive or confidential information, (2) a reasonable expectation of privacy, and (3) invasions of privacy that are sufficiently serious to constitute an egregious violation of the social norms underlying privacy rights. See Hill v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. (1994) 7 Cal. 4th 1.

rtx1z0ssPlaintiffs may face a tougher time in meeting these high standards. Facebook could argue that the plaintiffs had no expectation of privacy regarding information provided to their “friends,” because the plaintiffs consented to have these persons to join their network and to obtain sensitive personal information about them. On the other hand, the plaintiffs would likely respond that they never consented to have information about their purchasing habits divulged to members of their network. However, Facebook could respond that even if this is true, providing social ads that disclose a user’s purchase habits is simply not an egregious violation of privacy rights, especially considering the level of personal disclosure that is often present on Facebook.

Cause of action 5: violation of the California Online Privacy Act

The fifth cause of action is for violation of the California Online Privacy Act. Business & Professions Code §§ 22575-79. The Act requires commercial web sites that collect personally identifying information (i.e., interactive web sites like Facebook) to create and “conspicuously post” a privacy policy. While the Act creates no public or private right of action, violations would be actionable under California’s unfair competition law.

However, remedies under the California unfair competition law are primarily limited to restitution and injunctive relief. Unless the plaintiffs actually paid money to Facebook, they would be unlikely to recover any money for breaches of the Act. I would expect Facebook to defend against this claim by attempting to show that it complied with the Act.

Cause of action 6: violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act

The sixth cause of action, for violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (California Civil Code § 1750) is based on two theories: (i) that Facebook’s unilateral changes in its Terms of Use, Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Privacy Policy were unconscionable, and (ii) that Facebook represented that user information would remain private, but then began data mining and sharing it with third parties.

However, as we have previously blogged, California courts have upheld clauses permitting unilateral alterations in a contract — under limited circumstances. See our blog posts of March 31 and April 22, 2009. Facebook may argue that such circumstances apply here, making any change in its change in policies not unfair.

Conclusion
This is an important suit that could prove to be a significant test of data mining and social advertising. While the plaintiffs’ potential damage awards do not appear to be high, the suit does have the potential to cause expensive damage to Facebook’s business, if it is required to scale back its data mining and advertising.

Civil enforcement, Copyright, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Litigation