Winter Boat Accident? Get the Compensation You Deserve.

by Staff Blogger | December 16th, 2019

As Northern Californians, we’re lucky to avoid the harsh winters that other parts of the country experience every year. We’re also only a short drive away from warm temperatures in the Southern part of the state, which means boating season can last all year long.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, it’s our goal to help people who are injured in boat accidents get the compensation they deserve, no matter what time of year their accidents occur. We know that boat accidents can happen on days when the water is crowded in the middle of summer, and also during the slow parts of the year when the ocean, lakes, and rivers are calm.

Accidents don’t abide by a schedule, and they don’t discriminate when it comes to time, place, or location. Simply put—if you’ve been hurt in a boat accident, you need experienced legal representation on your side, and our California boat accident lawyers are here to help. We know that you may have suffered serious injuries that result in expensive medical bills, and you may be too hurt to go back to work.

It’s important to have a law firm on your side that cares about your recovery and that knows how to maximize your chances of getting compensation. When you contact us about your boat accident injury, we’ll collect evidence to determine who was at fault and that proves your injuries were caused by the accident itself. Then, we’ll find out how much money you’re owed and negotiate with the insurance company to get you paid. Contact us today for a free consultation.

How to Gift a Car

by Staff Blogger | December 16th, 2019

The holiday season typically brings cooler temperatures, Christmas carols, and…car commercials. The holidays mean deals on new cars, and most car commercials feature shiny new models with big red gift bows on the roof.

Most of us won’t be gifting the latest model from the dealership to a loved one this holiday season, but there are several reasons why you might want to gift a car to a friend or family member. For example, you may want to gift your old car to a young family member who recently got their license, or to help out a friend in need who may be struggling financially.

Steps to Gifting a Car

The most important step to gifting a car is having a frank discussion with the person who will be receiving the car before you do anything else. You may want the gift to be a surprise, but there is a very important reason why it should not be. Gifting a car is very generous, but the cost to buy a car is not the only expense associated with car ownership.

If the person you are gifting the car to is unable to afford the cost of:

  • gas,
  • auto insurance,
  • maintenance and repairs,
  • annual registration,
  • and other fees,

and if you are not prepared or able to also cover these expenses yourself, then gifting a car may not be the right choice at this point in time.

If you are gifting a car you already own:

First, you need to legally own the car. If you are still making payments on the car you want to gift, you will need to finish paying off the lien before you can gift the car, because the financial institution you took out the loan from is technically still the legal owner.

Not sure if you are the legal owner or not? Check the vehicle’s title, which you should have received from the loan company after paying off the lien. If you can’t locate your title document, you can request an additional one from your local DMV after paying a replacement fee.

Next, you will need to transfer the title. The person gifting the car will need to fill out the seller’s portion of the transfer section of the title, and the person receiving the car will need to fill out the buyer’s portion. In California, you will need to:

  • Sign the title
  • If lienholders are listed on the title, they will need to sign as well
  • Fill in the odometer reading (if the car is less than 10 years old)
  • Where the title asks for sales price, fill in “gift”
  • Provide proof of smog certification (UNLESS you are giving the car to a family member or if the car is less than four years old and not diesel-powered)
  • Complete a Statement of Use Tax Exemption form
  • Complete a Statement of Facts form (UNLESS you are giving the car to a family member)
  • Inform the DMV within 10 days of signing over ownership
  • Have the gift recipient take the title to the DMV to register the vehicle in their name and pay the $15 title transfer fee.

If you are buying a new/used car as a gift:

If you are buying a car to gift, you will have four main options.

  1. Purchase the vehicle outright and follow the steps outlined above.
  2. Take out a loan in your own name but register the title under both your name and the gift recipient’s.
  3. Bring the gift recipient with you to the dealership and co-sign a loan.
  4. Bring the gift recipient with you to the dealership, gift the down payment and have the gift recipient finance the vehicle themselves.

What if the Person I Want to Gift My Car to Doesn’t Have Insurance?

The person receiving the car will not be able to register the car in their name or legally drive the car without insurance. They will need to purchase insurance to receive the gifted car.

What if the Person I Want to Gift My Car to Lives in Another State?

Title-transfer requirements vary state to state. Check the requirements for the state that the gift recipient lives in, because those are the ones you will need to follow.

Does Gifting a Car Affect Taxes?

In most cases, no.

A federal gift tax does exist. This is a tax on a gift-giver, based on the monetary value of the gift. This tax exists to prevent people from avoiding federal estate tax by giving away their money and property before they die. But this also means it only applies to large sums of money.

2019 tax code states that an individual can gift a car (or any other property) up to $15,000 in value, or up to $30,000 in value if jointly gifted with a spouse, without needing to pay gift tax, and without the recipient having to pay income tax on the gift.

Can I Get a Tax Deduction for Gifting My Car?

In most cases, no.

You can get a tax deduction if you gift it to a 501c(3) charity or to a religious organization, but not if you want to gift a car to an individual such as a friend or family member.

If you are gifting your old car to charity, you will also need to itemize your deductions, and you will need to fill out and submit Form 8283 with your tax return if the car is worth $500 or more.

When You Have Questions After a Car Accident, Contact the Team at Berg Injury Lawyers

One reason someone may need a car is because their old car has been wrecked in an accident. And when car accidents also cause injuries, they can leave victims struggling to pay their bills while they recover. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, we want to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today.

How to Safely Put Up Holiday Decorations

by Staff Blogger | December 11th, 2019

Christmas isn’t complete without decorations, and that includes everything from the Christmas tree and stockings, to outdoor lights and wreaths. And while putting up holiday decorations can be a fun-filled, albeit time-consuming, activity, it’s important to note that it can also be dangerous if proper safety precautions aren’t followed.

Unsteady ladders, toppling Christmas trees, and even defective lights can all turn even the most joyous holiday into a disaster. Don’t pull a Clark Griswold this Christmas—be smart and be safe by following our guide to safely putting up holiday decorations in, around, and outside your home.

8 Holiday Décor Dos and Don’ts

When putting up your Christmas decorations this year:

  • DO keep pets away from Christmas trees—Christmas trees are irresistible to pets, especially cats. They love nothing more than to climb their way to the top, knocking off ornaments and lights in the process—and sometimes, they even topple the entire tree itself. To keep your pets away from your Christmas tree, make sure the lower branches aren’t easily reached from the floor and that the tree isn’t positioned to close to furniture. In addition, avoid hanging shiny ornaments near the bottom, as they can attract pets’ attention.
  • DO anchor your Christmas tree—Small children are another source of potential Christmas tree-related disasters. Anchoring your tree helps keep it upright even when “outside forces” push or pull it in a direction it shouldn’t go. Enclosing the area around your tree with a safety gate can also keep small children away from it, protecting them and your tree.
  • DO test your ladder before hanging lights or wreaths—Hanging Christmas lights and wreaths outdoors completes the look of any home during the holidays, but it’s not a job for anyone with a fear of heights—or an unsteady and unreliable ladder. Always test your ladder to make sure it’s suitable for hanging lights and wreaths before you climb to the top, and always secure it on level, steady ground. Having someone hold the ladder can also improve your stability and safety.
  • DO burn candles sparingly—The scent of holiday candles can be the finishing touch on a Christmas wonderland of a home, but candles are a major fire hazard. Light candles sparingly, and never in more than one room at a time to avoid losing track of them. In addition, keep lit candles away from the reach of small children and pets, and be sure to thoroughly extinguish matches and used candles before throwing them away.
  • DO keep cords and cables away from walkways—Whether indoors or outdoors, make sure your walkways, including hallways and sidewalks, are free from loose or hanging cables and wires. Cords can be major trip hazards for your family and your holiday guests. However, take care to not twist, kink, or crush cords when moving them out of the way, as doing so can damage wiring and even create a fire hazard risk.
  • DON’T buy the cheapest lights you can find—You can find Christmas lights everywhere nowadays, including supermarkets, drug stores, discount stores, and even thrift stores. And while it may seem that all Christmas lights are the same, there’s often a huge difference in quality, reliability, and safety among different brands. Cut-rate Christmas lights are not only dimmer and more likely to burn out than higher-quality lights, but they also may pose greater risks to you, your loved ones, and your home due to inferior wiring. Make sure any lights you purchase have the UL Listing Mark to ensure fire safety.
  • DON’T buy small/glass ornaments and decorations if you have kids or pets—Ornaments are an essential part of decorating a Christmas tree, but they can also be one of the most dangerous parts of holiday décor. That’s because many ornaments are small enough to be choking hazards for children and pets. In addition, glass ornaments can be dangerous as they can shatter if they fall off trees, creating a risk of cuts or ingested glass.
  • DON’T let your tree dry out—Synthetic trees can be reused year after year, but there’s something about the smell of a live tree that makes the extra preparation and setup time worth it. However, when buying a tree, be sure to pick one that was recently cut and that still retains moisture. When setting a live Christmas tree up in your home, keep it far from heat sources, including radiators, space heaters, and even warm lights that might cause your tree to catch fire. Finally, keep your tree watered, and be sure to dispose of it promptly when it begins to dry out.

Christmas Décor-Related Injury? You Need a Lawyer on Your Side.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know that injuries can happen anytime and anyplace. Whether you’re driving to the store to buy Christmas decorations, or you’re at home putting them up, someone else’s negligence can cause you to suffer a serious injury.

And when that happens, our California personal injury lawyers are here to help. We know what it takes to get maximum compensation for injured victims, and we’re here to make sure you get paid. Contact us today for a free consultation.

3 Reasons Truck Accidents Are More Complex than Auto Accidents

by Staff Blogger | December 9th, 2019

At first glance, getting compensation for truck accidents seems like it should follow the same process as getting compensation for accidents involving passenger vehicles. But anyone who was hurt in an accident involving a tractor-trailer can tell you that truck accident claims are often far more complicated than auto accident claims.

There are three main reasons for that:

  1. Truck accidents involve more potentially liable parties—In auto accidents, there’s usually one liable party: the negligent driver. But in truck accidents, there may be two, three, four, or more negligent parties, including the truck drivers, truck owners, truck companies, and even other motorists. Determining who was at fault can be a difficult process and it requires collecting and analyzing plenty of evidence.
  2. Truck accidents cause severe injuries—Semi-trucks are dozens of feet in length and can up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. When they’re involved in crashes with passenger vehicles, their occupants are likely to suffer serious injuries that can be life-changing and life-threatening. Victims often experience permanent disabilities that put them out of work, which means their compensation claims must be carefully built and negotiated.
  3. Truck accidents often result in big settlements—Insurance companies do everything in their power to pay victims as little as possible after crashes. And because truck accident settlements are often much bigger than auto accident settlements, insurance companies can be even less helpful and even combative when victims seek the compensation they are owed.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California truck accident attorneys know the unique challenges victims face after tractor-trailer accidents. Contact us today for a free consultation.

3 Reasons Why Prescription and OTC Drugs May Be Dangerous

by Staff Blogger | December 2nd, 2019

Whether you picked it up from a pharmacy with a prescription, or bought it right off the supermarket shelf, you never expect a new medication to cause you to develop a serious illness or other dangerous complication. However, that’s the reality for countless people every year due to defective and dangerous drugs.

Drugs are supposed to be thoroughly tested via multiple rounds of clinical trials before they’re released to the general public. And yet, every year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publicizes recalls of medications that are potentially harmful to patients. There are three primary reasons why this occurs:

  1. Impurities—Recently, a drug designed to treat high blood pressure and one designed to treat acid reflux were recalled due to containing an impurity that’s linked to cancer. Impurities are often found in medications that are manufactured in non-sterile facilities or in facilities with lax oversight.
  2. Hidden side effects—Researching and developing a new medication can cost billions of dollars. That means drug companies are desperate to get their products on the market. To do so, they may hide side effects from the FDA to increase their chances of approval.
  3. Labeling errors—The safety of all medications is dose-dependent. When patients take too much or too little of a medication, they can experience severe complications. Labeling errors can result in patients taking incorrect doses, putting their health and their lives at risk.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California drug injury attorneys have helped many people get compensation after suffering medication-related injuries, and we want to help you, too. Contact us today if you or someone you love was harmed by a prescription or OTC medication.

Without a Lawyer, the Veterans Disability Process Is Complex and Confusing

by Staff Blogger | November 25th, 2019

People who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces are supposed to get a variety of important benefits, including disability benefits, if they suffer an injury or illness that makes them unable to perform their duties while serving their country. But receiving those benefits isn’t automatic by any means. The Veterans Administration (VA) is notorious for denying claims, and winning appeals is also difficult.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California veterans disability benefits lawyers have helped many former servicemembers who suffer from health problems that left them unable to complete their duties. If you or someone you love became disabled during military service, it’s important to speak with an experienced veterans disability lawyer about applying for benefits. There are many pitfalls during the application process, and we can help you avoid them.

In addition to building a strong claim for you from the get-go, we can also appeal your claim if it was denied by the VA. The VA denies what should be valid and strong claims all too often, and when that happens, it’s essential to have an experienced law firm on your side who can make a case for why your application should be approved.

Don’t leave the outcome of your initial application or appeal up to chance. The VA has a huge backlog of claims to work through, and getting information or status updates on your benefits can be difficult and time consuming. Our attorneys know how to expedite the process and maximize your chances of approval. Contact us today for a free consultation.

How to Safely Deep-Fry Your Thanksgiving Turkey

by Staff Blogger | November 25th, 2019

In recent years, deep frying the Thanksgiving turkey has become the most talked about cooking method, and for plenty of good reasons. Deep frying a turkey keeps the meat succulent and juicy while ensuring a perfectly crispy skin. It also cooks significantly faster than in the oven. However, deep frying a turkey can be extremely dangerous, and anyone who attempts it should always use extreme caution.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), more than twice as many fires are started from cooking accidents on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. Additionally, frying poses the highest risk of fire of any method of cooking.

Based on data gathered between 2014-2016, roughly 2,400 cooking fires occur on residential property every Thanksgiving, causing an average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $19 million in property damage. But if you decide the taste is worth the danger, make sure to keep all potential sources of accident and injury in mind.

Dangers Associated with Deep Fryers

  • Deep fryers can tip over and spill dangerously hot oil.
  • Overfilling the cooking pot can cause the oil to overflow when the turkey is added.
  • Any amount, even a drop, of cooking oil coming in contact with the burner can result in a fire.
  • The pot, handle, and lid can become hot enough to cause severe burns.
  • Without thermostat controls, deep fryers can overheat the oil and combust.
  • Any water that hits the hot oil, even condensation, can cause a spray of flaming oil outward.

If you are interested in learning how to safely deep fry a turkey this year, we want to help. Follow our guide by clicking the image below for tips on how to avoid fires and burn injuries this Thanksgiving when frying a turkey.

Injured on Thanksgiving?

Sometimes accidents are unavoidable, but other times this isn’t true. If you’ve been injured in an accident because someone was behaving negligently and ignored safety measures, you may be eligible to get compensation for your medical expenses.

Even if you were injured at the home of a friend or family member during Thanksgiving dinner, don’t put aside the idea of contacting a lawyer––you still need to pay your bills, and in many cases, your loved one won’t be responsible for paying out of pocket. At Berg Injury Lawyers, our team of California personal injury attorneys work with the at-fault party’s insurance company to help injury victims get the compensation they deserve.

If you’ve been injured through no fault of your own, we want to help you. And when you reach out to us for assistance, your initial consultation is always free.

Dog Bites Are Painful, Expensive, and Traumatic

by Staff Blogger | November 18th, 2019

If you were bitten by a dog that wasn’t leashed in public or enclosed on private property, you may be eligible for compensation. That’s because cities throughout California have ordinances that require owners keep their dogs leashed or enclosed when others are around, including when they’re in public or when others, such as neighbors and guests, may be nearby. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable if their dogs bite.

Dog bites are serious injuries that can cause victims to suffer severe complications. Dogs have long, sharp teeth, and when they bite, they can puncture deep into the skin and muscle, causing victims to suffer severe wounds that can result in:

  • Profuse bleeding—Dog bites can sever veins and arteries, resulting in potentially life-threatening bleeding
  • Infection—Contrary to popular belief, dogs’ mouths are full of bacteria. When they bite, their teeth push bacteria into victims’ bloodstreams, creating a risk for local and systemic infection.
  • Nerve damage—The size and shape of dogs’ teeth and their bite pressure means they’re capable of damaging skin, muscle, and even nerves when biting, which can result in disability.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California dog bite attorneys know how painful, expensive, and traumatic dog bites can be. If you or someone you love was attacked by a dog that wasn’t leashed or enclosed, we want to help you get the money you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ve helped injured victims like you for many years, and we know what it takes to win.

Liability and Insurance in a Rental Car

by Staff Blogger | November 18th, 2019

There are endless reasons why you might need to rent a car. You might be traveling for business or on vacation and need a way to get around after you step off the plane. You may temporarily need more space or different features than your own car has, want to avoid adding additional mileage to your personal car on a road trip, or your own car may be in the shop.

Whatever the reason, road accidents are a risk every time you get behind the wheel of a car, even in a rental car.  However, getting compensation after an accident in a rental vehicle can be complicated.

What Makes Rental Car Accidents Different?

In any collision, the at-fault party has liability. However, the rental agreement you sign when you rent a car means you are responsible for any damage to the rental car, even if you were not at fault. This is why it’s so important to carefully inspect your rental vehicle for scratches and dents before leaving the lot.

After an accident caused by someone else, you will be required to pay your insurance deductible directly to the rental company, and then your insurance company will go after the at-fault party for the remainder.

Additionally, you may be responsible for paying “loss of use” fees for every day the rental vehicle is being repaired to compensate the rental company for the profit they’ve lost.

Finally, the rental company may not wait until the insurance matter is settled and charge you for the damages right away. If this happens, you will need to deal with the at-fault party’s insurance directly to get reimbursed.

What Steps to Take After an Accident in a Rental Car

Many of the initial steps you will need to take after an accident in a rental car are the same as those you would take immediately after a car accident in your own car.

Follow these steps after a car accident:

  1. Exchange contact information with the other driver.
  2. Take pictures of the scene of the accident.
  3. Make a police report.
  4. Notify your insurance provider.
  5. Seek medical attention.

However, unlike in most auto accidents, compensation could come from several sources, or none at all, and not all of your expenses may be covered. That’s why two additional steps must be added to the checklist.

  1. Notify your rental company.
  2. Contact a lawyer.

Determine What Type of Coverage You Have

There are three main sources of insurance coverage available for rental car accident claims.

  1. Your Personal Insurance: Nearly every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry auto insurance in order to legally operate a vehicle, even if minimum coverage amounts vary. Most personal insurance policies will also cover accidents that take place in a rental car, but make sure to read the fine print. Some rentals may be excluded, such as exotics or trucks.
  2. Insurance Provided by Your Credit Card: Most major credit cards offer rental car insurance as a perk when you make the entire payment for the rental on the card. However, this is often collision insurance only, and won’t cover any medical expenses. Additionally, it may be secondary insurance, which means it only kicks in for what your personal insurance doesn’t pay, such as your deductible.
  3. Supplementary Insurance Provided by the Rental Company: When you rent a car, you will be offered additional insurance for purchase at the counter.

What Type of Coverage is Available from the Rental Company?

The most common type of supplementary insurance provided by the rental company is collision insurance, but there are four major types of insurance you can purchase at the time you make a rental.

  1. Collision Damage Waiver: This absolves the renter of responsibility for damage to or theft of the rental, except as the result of reckless driving or if the damage occurred while someone other than renter was driving.
  2. Liability Coverage: This covers property damage and medical expenses incurred by individuals other than the renter after a car accident in which the renter was at fault.
  3. Personal Accident Insurance: This covers medical expenses of the renter and any of the renter’s passengers.
  4. Personal Effects Coverage: This covers lost or damaged personal property kept in the rental vehicle.

What if I Was Hit By Someone Driving a Rental Car?

If you were hit by someone in a rental car, you will not be able to sue the rental company for any damage or medical expenses­­–federal law protects rental car companies from liability in situations like this.

Exchange information with the other driver and learn what insurance they may have. You may need to use your own insurance, through uninsured or underinsured coverage, to recover your medical expenses. A personal injury lawyer experienced with these types of cases will be best suited to help you learn what you need to do to get compensation.

Get Help Today

When there are multiple potential sources of compensation for an accident, filing a claim for your expenses after an accident that wasn’t your fault can be frustrating. Contact the car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation on your case.

3 Common Accidents That Lead to Wrongful Death Claims

by Staff Blogger | November 11th, 2019

At Berg Injury Lawyers, it’s our goal to help people who have been injured because of other people’s or parties’ negligence. And while most of the claims we build are for people who suffered serious injuries, we also build claims for the surviving loved ones of victims of fatal accidents.

When someone dies as a result of others’ negligence, their family members can pursue compensation via a wrongful death claim—and it’s our job to provide them the legal representation they need.

There are many types of accidents and injuries that can result in wrongful deaths. However, our California wrongful death lawyers know that certain accident types are more likely to result in deaths than others, including:

  1. Auto accidents—Wrongful deaths can occur when drivers break the rules of the road. Whether they’re speeding, driving while impaired, driving while intoxicated, or running red lights, negligent drivers can cause serious and even fatal injuries to others.
  2. Motorcycle accidents—Motorcyclists are vulnerable on California’s roadways. Their only protection comes from their riding gear, and it’s not always enough to prevent serious injuries. When other drivers fail to look out for motorcyclists, they can cause fatal accidents.
  3. Truck accidents—The trucking industry is strictly regulated and governed in the U.S. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has its own bylaws that truck drivers, companies, and owners must abide by. When they fail to abide by those rules, fatal crashes can occur.

If your loved one was killed in an accident that wasn’t their fault, you may be eligible to get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, loss of companionship, and more. Contact us today for a free consultation.