Month: February 2023

Do I Have a Civil Lawsuit Case?

Civil Lawsuit case

When you’ve been wronged by someone else, intentionally or by accident, and your injuries are substantial, you may be left wondering if you have a legal remedy in the form of a lawsuit. In order to have a civil lawsuit case, there has to be some legal theory supporting the other party’s liability. This is where the expert knowledge of an attorney comes in, understanding the law and applying it to the facts of your case. Beyond this, there are practical realities that must be taken into consideration as well.

Legal Liability

In most civil lawsuit cases, liability is based on the commission of a “tort.” A tort is a civil wrong, as defined by common law, i.e., the collective history of judicial opinions going back hundreds of years. There are many types of torts, from battery to conversion (theft) to defamation. It would be impossible to cover all of them here, but we can briefly overview the most common tort: negligence.

Negligence is so prevalent because it covers almost every situation where an injury is caused by an accident. To demonstrate negligence, a plaintiff must prove each of these four elements:

1. Duty of Care

A duty of care means that, in a given situation, the defendant had an obligation to prevent harm to the plaintiff. For example, a doctor has a duty of care to their patient, business owners have a duty of care to people who come onto their premises, and drivers must operate their vehicles safely on the roads.

2.  Breach of Duty

In order to be negligent, a defendant must have breached their duty of care to the plaintiff by failing to exercise reasonable care.

3.  Causation

The defendant’s behavior must have been a “but-for” cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, meaning that the injuries would not have happened if not for the defendant’s actions. The breach also must be the “proximate cause” of the injuries, meaning it was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s actions.

4.  Damages

The plaintiff must have suffered legally recognized harm to themselves or their property.

Whether the case involves a traffic accident or medical malpractice, these four elements provide the general roadmap in a civil lawsuit for negligence.

Practical Considerations

Virtually every plaintiff’s attorney works on a contingency-fee-basis, meaning the client doesn’t pay any up-front fees, and the attorney will take a portion of any compensation received. Overall, this arrangement is very beneficial to clients and makes legal representation more accessible to everyone, but as a result, there are some practical considerations to take into account.

The Complexity of the Case

How much time and effort will it take to litigate the case? Most civil lawsuits settle before trial, but not all of them. The case may require a lengthy discovery process, numerous court hearings, and even a months-long trial with expert witnesses. A more complex case means more investment in time and money and a less certain outcome. The attorney will have to account for this increased risk.

The amount of damages at issue impacts this calculation; a lawyer simply cannot afford to take the risk if the amount is too low. However, people often underestimate how much their case is worth, so you shouldn’t let this factor discourage you from consulting with an attorney.

The Ability of the Defendant to Pay

You can’t get blood from a stone. A $10 million judgment is just an expensive piece of paper if the defendant has no assets or means of paying you. A very real consideration, therefore, is the defendant’s ability to pay. However, sometimes other parties are vicariously liable, such as when a worker injures someone else during employment, so it’s still worth discussing your case with an attorney.

Talk to an Attorney

The only real way to know whether you have a civil lawsuit case is to sit with a lawyer and tell them your story. A personal injury specialist can quickly evaluate your case, ask the right questions, and give you an idea as to your options moving forward.

The first step is to schedule a consultation. Contact our office to get started today!

The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to Help with Your Tax Problems

benefits of attorney for tax problem

Tax problems are a special kind of misery. The U.S. Tax Code is so complicated most people just try to muddle through it every year and hope no one is paying too much attention. Then one day, a letter arrives and it turns out the government was paying attention—now they’re demanding money you don’t have, threatening fines or even jail time.

If you find yourself in a situation like this, you shouldn’t go it alone. Here are the benefits of hiring a tax attorney to relieve the burden and drastically improve the outcome. 

You Need Expertise

As the saying goes, “When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing is to stop digging.” Maybe you’ve made mistakes; don’t worry. As we said before, tax laws are very complex and always changing. So the important thing is not to make any more mistakes going forward.

You’re probably not a tax expert and will unlikely become one in the next few weeks. But, on the other hand, the people who work for the IRS or California’s Franchise Tax Board are tax experts, and they don’t give points for not understanding the law. So you’re going to need help.

Someone who understands the tax system can help you correct mistakes from past filings and chart a path forward. For example, if you owe money in back taxes, there are options beyond making a single lump-sum payment. There are even programs to have your debt forgiven. A tax attorney will be familiar with all of this.

Reduce Penalties

Tax problems are often accompanied by fines, penalties, and interest that has accrued in the meantime. A $1000 mistake can quickly balloon into a $5000 or more debt. The good news is that what you have to pay is often negotiable. Attorneys that regularly deal with the IRS, FTB, and other tax authorities may be able to reduce the total amount you owe significantly.

Note: Contact an attorney immediately if you are facing a criminal tax investigation. These cases can result in hefty fines and jail time; you will need legal representation.

Take the Burden Off Your Shoulders

The emotional stress of dealing with tax problems can be immense. The underlying legal problems are complex, and the amount of money at issue is often daunting. This stress can drive people to make more mistakes or, even worse, just ignore the problem.

You need someone who can look at your documents and say, “Okay, I see what happened. Here’s what we’re going to do….” Hearing these words can be a great relief, and so much of the stress you’ve been carrying will fade once you hand your tax problems over to an expert.

Get Started with a Consultation

The first step in dealing with your tax problems is to schedule an appointment with an attorney. At Hoffman & Forde, our tax attorneys have years of experience resolving these matters and improving client outcomes. Book a consultation to learn more about your options.