Hostile work environment

Hostile Work Environment or Outrage?

Do you believe that you are the victim of a Hostile Work Environment? Maybe the correct legal term is Outrage.

by Chalmers Johnson, employment attorney

The Seattle Times recently reported on a state case involving a claim of “outrage”. A man did not like the fact that his neighbor was giving piano lessons in her home. He filed a complaint to stop her and then sued.  He lost, and paid $30,000 for court costs and her legal fees. In response he parked his big truck outside of her house. He then repeatedly remote-started it, revved the engine and sounded the alarm. This tended to scare off students and interfere with her lessons. The music teacher sued and won. Continue reading

Business partnership split

partnership splitIs your business partnership showing signs of fraying? Check out “How to break up with your business partner the right way” for cues to how to handle the split. The author, John Boitnott, cites three issues to look for. They include partners failing to carry their weight, fundamental issues that you can’t resolve and discordant work style issues.

The author focuses on the practical and psychological but also advises consulting a lawyer. Our 3-lawyer team for businesses can help you plan and negotiate your split, including tax, contracts, restructuring and estate planning.

You may need an estate planning lawyer if…

An estate planning lawyer is not just for the wealthy and elderly. You may need an estate planning lawyer if…..

You become a parent.

Parents want to make arrangements for the best life possible for their children if they die. Who do you want to care for your children? How can you guard against family struggles around custody that will further add to your child’s trauma? What financial arrangements will be best? Even if you have made the arrangements for existing children, return to your lawyer. The addition of another child calls for rethinking and talking with existing guardians.

You marry or plan to marry.

Continue reading

Business structure

The business structure right for you

Choosing the business structure that is right for you is not simply a matter of knowing the law. It is also a matter of knowing yourself. A good tax and business attorney can help you determine the best business structure based on taxation and liability. They must, however, know a lot about you and your vision for your business. Before you set up a consultation here are some questions to ask yourself.

  1. What is my vision for my business? Do I want to conquer the world or be a great local business? How about outside funding so that I can grow quickly? Or am I content with slow steady growth using my own funds and reinvesting profits?
  2. How much administration am I comfortable with? Do I need to plan for co-owners, or hiring several employees quickly? Finally, how much paperwork can I tolerate?
  3. Crucially, how comfortable am I with risking my personal assets? Some business structures leave your personal assets open to lawsuits against the business or open to process to satisfy business debts.

Let our business law team help you choose the business structure for you

Continue reading

Divorce doesn't mean failure

Divorce doesn’t mean failure

Divorce doesn’t mean failure. In fact, divorce may be the mark of a successful marriage concludes Shana Lebowitz in a story titled, “Divorce isn’t a failure, therapists say. In fact, it could mean the marriage was a success.” For the article, she interviewed several marriage therapists. Here are some quotes to consider.

“Your marriage has one goal,” Hal Runkel said. “Marriage has evolved into a people-growing machine.”

Runkel says that it highlights the areas where you need to grow and change. As Laura Markham puts it, disagreements are opportunities to “grow yourself.”

According to therapist Rachel Zamore satisfaction in relationships depend on our attitudes toward change. We need to embrace our experiences as opportunities for growth. Too often we rate experiences based solely on whether it makes us happy or not.

And sometimes you change to the point that you see your marriage differently and understand that it is time to leave. Even if you did not initiate the divorce, you will have a much better experience during and after divorce if you look at it with a learning and growing lens.

Your attitude to your marriage breakup will help you make sounder decisions

Continue reading

gender discrimination

Gender Discrimination: Equal time for Dads

 

Dads should have equal time to bond with their new children, according to a $1.1 million settlement in a gender discrimination lawsuit. Estee Lauder’s parental leave policy gave new moms six weeks paid leave. And yet, it awarded dads only two weeks leave. In addition, dads did not have the same flexible schedule benefits after returning to work. Best of all, Estee Lauder agreed to up to 20 weeks of paid leave for all new parents and six weeks flexible schedule.

Parental leave is a separate benefit from medical leave for childbirth. Although there is no federal law that requires parental leave. Yet, when an employer offers it, they must not discriminate based on gender. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on behalf of 210 new fathers. Continue reading

personal injury cases

Guide to personal injury cases

First steps in personal injury cases

1: Get as much information as you can as soon after the accident as possible. If you can’t do it yourself, enlist the help of family and friends. Most importantly, get names and contact information of witnesses and those involved. Take photos. Write down what happened as soon as you can so that you can capture details. If this is an on-going issue, keep a daily log.

2: Get medical treatment. If you have been injured, take care of yourself first and foremost. As you do this, you create evidence that will be used to determine the extent of your physical injuries. Don’t stint on this.

3: Find a good attorney with plenty of experience in both settling and trying personal injury cases. We have excellent lawyers with more than 40 years of experience. Nevertheless, consult with more than one attorney about your case to find a good fit.

4: The lawyer begins the investigation. The first step is getting all the information you have, as well as personal, financial, and medical background information. One of the biggest tasks is getting all your medical records and reviewing them.

5: Determination of viability. Once the attorney has reviewed all the information, she will make a determination about whether or not she believes your case is viable.

Moving forward

6: Attempting a settlement. If your attorney determines that the case is strong, she will probably make an attempt to settle it. Two factors determine when she begins settlement talks. The first is whether or not your healing is complete. Until that time, it is difficult to estimate or document the extent of your injuries and losses. Often, however, settlement or a lawsuit must go forward sooner than ideal because financial needs are great.

7: File a lawsuit. If no fair settlement results, your attorney will prepare for filing a lawsuit. He must file within the statute of limitations. In Washington state, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years. It will often take as long as two years before the case comes to trial. But, fear not, there are other opportunities for settlement before trial starts.

The final steps

8: Discovery begins. During discovery, your lawyer will demand that the other parties reveal their defense and the evidence they plan to use. She will also demand evidence that you need to prove your case that the other party has. The other party makes the same demands as you. Expect interrogatories, or written questions than demand written answers; demands for documents; and depositions. You will doubtless go to an attorney’s office with your attorney. There, after swearing in you will answer questions put to you by the other party’s attorneys. It will be recorded. Allow about a year for this process.

9: Mediation and Negotiation. Toward the end of discovery, the lawyers may attempt settlement. In fact, between 80% and 95% of personal injury cases are settled before trial. And, settlements can take place even after trial has begun.

10: Trial Begins. Most of these cases are tried before a jury, so the first step in the trial is seating the jury. A trial can take a day, a week or longer, depending on the complexity of the case and the number of parties.

Get a free evaluation of your personal injury case.

Personal injury attorneys Chalmers Johnson and John Groseclose have more than 40 years experience fighting for the injured. They are happy to talk with you about your case.
Personal Injury lawyers

avoid auto accidents

5 Tips to Avoid Auto Accidents This Holiday Weekend

Labor Day weekend demands especially careful driving to avoid auto accidents. While not all car accidents can be avoided, you can reduce your chances of ending up a victim. The National Highway and Transportation Administration says that Labor Day weekend is among the ten most dangerous times to be driving. Even running errands can be more dangerous this weekend. If you can’t stay at home, here are some tips for safe driving.

Tip 1 – Avoid driving between midnight and 3 a.m. and be very cautious on rural roads.

The National Highway and Transportation Administration says that night driving, in general, is more dangerous than daytime driving. The most dangerous hours are those between midnight and 3 a.m. when there is a higher percentage of drivers under the influence. Ironically but logically, the safest time to be on the road is between 4 and 6 a.m.

If you are planning a camping trip or other events that include driving on country roads be particularly careful. It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? We think of freeways with their crowding and high speeds as being more dangerous. Yet, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that fatal accidents happen 2.5 times more often on rural roads than highways. They say that drivers tend to drive faster for the conditions on rural roads and a much lower percentage of drivers wear seat belts.

Tips 2 & 3 – Make sure you are driving sober and slow down.

As you know, there will be more drivers under the influence this weekend. Thus, in addition to avoiding the peak hours for drunk drivers, it’s most important to make sure you have no drugs or alcohol in your system when you drive. That will allow you extra moments to react to reckless drivers. Slowing down also accomplishes the same result. It gives you extra time to take evasive action.

Tip 4 – Avoid distractions.

Of course, distracted driving is now illegal in Washington State. And, I know that we are all are constantly tempted. It is especially hard when we are going somewhere new and using our phones to navigate. We are certainly more likely to do that on holiday weekends. If possible, use voice navigation only. When necessary pull off the road to txt or make calls.

Yet, mobile phones aren’t the only source of distraction. Driving with children can be even more distracting. You know the routine. “Mom, make brother stop looking at me.” And then there’s escaping from seat belts and outright fighting. Make it a policy to pull over any time a distraction develops and resolve the situation before you continue traveling.

Tip 5 – Make sure your auto is in top shape.

Once again, avoiding accidents depend on quick responses. Make sure your equipment is in great shape. In addition, we’ve just had two weeks of smoke-filled air. Clean your headlights, taillights and signal lights. Also, give even your side windows a good cleaning, so you have an unimpeded view.

As Kitsap County attorneys we know all too well that there are too many ways that we all can be harmed. Please do all you can to be as safe as you can. And, if the worst happens to you, we stand ready to guide you through the legal process to better times.

If you are injured, call or message our personal injury attorneys.

Personal Injury lawyersChalmers Johnson

John Groseclose

insurance settlement negotiation

How to negotiate an insurance settlement

Should I negotiate my own insurance settlement?

If you have an insurance settlement offer you may be able to successfully negotiate a better settlement for yourself.  Your best chance is if your total damages are relatively small or your claim is with your own insurer. Here are some tips.

  • Don’t accept the first offer. Insurance companies often make low-ball offers.
  • If they believe the injury has created a financial hardship they may believe you will jump at their first offer.
    • Do what you can to cover your expenses during this time. Consistently maintaining health insurance will go a long way toward easing the financial burden of medical expenses.
    • Also, if your income has stopped or greatly reduced, consider taking advantage of any sliding scale pricing available from your medical providers. Don’t be afraid to ask.
    • Another source of financial help for medical costs are manufacturers of costly drugs. They often have special pricing available for people who can’t afford their drugs.
    • If you were in an auto accident take full advantage of any coverage you may have through your own insurance company. Check out the declarations page for coverages such as PIP (Personal Injury Protection) or underinsured motorist. They both offer coverage for your medical bills and generally are paid promptly.
  • If your claim is with your own insurance company, they will probably name your policy limits and provisions to justify their offer.
    • Make sure you know all of the provisions of your policy and ask questions of your agent if you can. In-house agents who only represent one insurance company may not be very helpful but independent agents will want to keep your business.

What is contributory fault or negligence?

Washington State has a contributory fault or contributory negligence law and the insurance adjuster may have information that leads her to believe that you were partly at fault. So, for instance, let’s say your medical bills and pain and suffering total $25,000 by their calculation. If they believe that you were 20% at fault for your injuries they will offer $20,000. All is not lost, however.

  • Ask them to document the contributory fault. That may be enough to bring the offer up.
  • If not, get your own evidence to counter their evidence. This will usually involve eyewitnesses.
    • If you are not up to the task of tracking witnesses down and questioning them about what they saw, recruit friends and family to do it for you.
    • Make sure you and the witnesses thoroughly understand what they will say to the adjuster once he asks questions. Play devil’s advocate with them.  Ask questions that probe any weaknesses or alternative interpretations of what they say. Their statements may sound great to you but once an experienced adjuster starts asking questions they may not be much help.

Put our personal injury attorneys’ 40 years of experience to work for you.

Often, however, it takes a law firm to effectively advocate for the insurance company to give you the compensation you deserve.  Call or message us for a free case review. We’ll thoroughly review the facts and if we believe we can help you get fair compensation. We stand ready to fight for you.  We know all the insurance companies’ playbook and we know how to counter them.

John Groseclose
John Groseclose, personal injury, family law attorney

Chalmers Johnson

Chalmers Johnson, personal injury attorney, employment law