How Insurance Adjusters Work When Evaluating Your Accident Claim

The role of an insurance provider is twofold; to sell you on an insurance plan or police that provides the required coverage and to make sure as little is lost through future accidents. The role of an insurance adjuster is to determine how much the insurance company will settle for in the future.

The first number that they offer to settle a claim is oftentimes what I refer to as a “low-ball” guestimate or ballpark. Sometimes, it is thrown out to see what the parties are made of what the insured’s reaction would be at this first attempt to settle their claim.

While many people leave it up to their insurance company to handle any and all payments associated with an accident, others are rightfully turning to the advice of local attorneys such as ourselves to fight for them. For this reason, it is incredibly important that you have your claim looked over carefully by your attorney.

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So, how does the process work?

The first thing that is usually itemized are medical bills and records that relate to the accident which may have been paid out. The adjusters will carefully go through what medical evidence exists and attempt to find holes, gaps and any inconsistencies that they can use to justify rejecting your claim, reducing it or requesting additional documentation and information thus stalling your eventual payment. This deliberate delay and stall in your compensation can discourage many legitimate claimants.

More often than not, the adjusters will search for alternative explanations for what may have caused the physical injuries so as to justify non-payment of your claim. For example, suppose that your legs were seriously injured during your car accident– a crafty insurance adjuster might make a convincing argument that the injury to your legs was caused by the cumulative years of your love of running, and not by the traumatic impact of the accident that you just sustained!

In these cases, the insurance company will do its best not to pay the claim, saving themselves money through the process.

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If your claim is somehow higher than the average claim, this may also raise a “red Flag” or the ire of a claims adjuster. It is similar to the IRS if an insurance carrier and its agents identify a number or figure that is “out of the ordinary” or slightly higher than the standard average median they will “red flag” your entire claim for further investigation.

They are quick to label any “high” amount claim as fraudulent and then begin the hardball and investigatory process which further slows down your compensation payout. It is therefore advisable to hire experienced counsel to cut right through this self-serving nonsense.

Regardless of the reasons why an insurance company may be fighting you for a payout, you will need assistance.

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With countless years of experience helping David fight Goliath, we here at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC strongly believe in your right for professional and legal counsel.

Don’t allow the big insurance carriers and their skilled and well-trained adjusters push you around and deny you the full compensation that you deserve and are legally entitled to receive for your injuries! YOU have been paying into the ‘system’ for a long time and it’s now your turn to benefit from having paid your high insurance premiums for all these years!

My adage and what I commonly say is: The insurance companies are quick to take your money and hand you an umbrella, but they are even quicker to snatch it back when it rains! When it “pours” their tactics get even worse.

Instead of getting taken advantage of go with a team that will put your best interests ahead of shareholder profits. We will help fight for you throughout the entire process keeping in mind YOUR needs. WE believe in evening the playing field for your benefit.

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Contact our personal injury attorneys today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 for a free and confidential consultation.

We serve the great people of Sonoma County, Marin County and the entire North Bay and have been doing so since 1992!

Getting A DUI for A Second Time in Sonoma County & the Consequences that Follow

A second DUI conviction in Sonoma County with a prior DUI in the past 10 years can carry serious consequences, including up to 5 years’ probation, a one thousand dollar find, and up to one year in Sonoma County jail.

If you face a second time DUI, the most difficult potential consequence for you may be the loss of your California Driver License.

If you were convicted of either a standard DUI or a wet reckless, and then you get convicted of DUI again within 10 years, the new conviction triggers a two-year suspension of your California Driver License.


However, if you get the new DUI charge reduced to reckless driving, exhibition of speed, or some offense other than DUI, you can avoid this court-triggered license suspension. A second DUI does not have to destroy your ability to drive.  There is a pilot program and an alternative that we would be happy to determine if it can apply to your situation.

If you were still on probation for the first DUI when you are arrested for your second DUI, the DMV will also seek to impose its own one-year driver license suspension after your second-time DUI offense. This administrative suspension is separate from the Sonoma County court-triggered suspension. However, even if you suffer both suspensions, the total suspension period by law cannot exceed two years.

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You have a right to a DMV hearing to contest the administrative suspension. At the hearing, you can challenge the suspension and can be represented by a Sonoma County DUI defense lawyer, like the skilled and experienced attorneys at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC.

Mr. Fiumara has been practicing law in Sonoma County for nearly 25 years and knows all of the players from the District Attorneys, Judges and hearing officers at the DMV. If you win at the DMV hearing, no administrative suspension is imposed. If you lose the DMV hearing, the two-year administrative suspension is imposed.

It is important to have a skilled and highly experienced lawyer representing you at both, the criminal hearing and the DMV hearing. If you were arrested for a second time DUI, you must do two things to avoid the one or two-year suspension of your California Driver License.

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First, you must avoid being convicted of DUI in court (or you must at least get the DUI charges reduced). Second, you must win your DMV hearing. If you fail either of these, the DUI will cost you your driving privileges in California.

There are many factors that determine the outcome of a criminal case. Having a highly skilled and very experienced Sonoma County DUI Defense attorney is vital in making sure you get the best possible result in your case.

The attorneys at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC have been helping those charged with DUIs in Sonoma County win their cases for almost a quarter of a century! Let us help you.   

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You can call us at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507. We serve clients in Sonoma County, Marin County and the entire North Bay.

The consultation is confidential, but more importantly it is free and you will leave with more knowledge than when you arrived.

YOU owe this to yourself.  Don’t delay, “We Fight for you!”

Road Safety Tips to Avoid a New Year’s Car Accident In The North Bay

New Year’s Eve is around the corner and you want to avoid a car accident!

Drinking and celebrating with friends and family go hand in hand with New Year’s Eve. The trick is to enjoy the party and get home safely.

Sadly, along with New Year’s Eve parties comes roads filled with drunk drivers and drunk driving accidents. New Year’s Eve is one of the most dangerous nights of the year for car accidents and drinking and driving incidents.

Road Safety Tips to Avoid a New Year’s Car Accident In The North Bay

With alcohol being such an integral part of the revelry, too many people choose to drive home while under the influence. January 1 is not the deadliest day of the year, but it is one of the worst for serious car accidents caused by drunk drivers.

Rash and negligent driving or driving under the influence of alcohol are the most common causes of New Year’s car accidents, but darkness and winter driving conditions also play a role. The majority of motorists killed on New Year’s Eve are between the ages of 15 and 45.

Road Safety Tips to Avoid a New Year’s Car Accident In The North Bay

New Year’s Eve Road Safety Tips

  1. Plan ahead. If you are planning to drink at a party, plan to stay overnight or to get home safely. Can you book a hotel within walking distance? Call a cab or have a designated driver.
  1. If you are hosting the party, offer your spare room, couch and floor to anyone who would like to stay overnight. Better to have a crowded house then to see your friend or family member get hurt or injure someone else on the road. If your friend insists on getting home be sure that they are not drunk or call them a taxi. You can also make sure that there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available along with some hearty snacks to help your guests from getting out of control drunk.
  1. Call the police if you suspect a drunk driver. Help keep the roads safe; pull over and call the police if you see someone speeding excessively or weaving on the road. Keep your distance from the car and don’t approach them yourself. You could end up preventing a car accident.
  1. Celebrate without alcohol if you need to drive home. Be brave and start a new tradition! Keep yourselves entertained with board games and great conversation. The best part will be spending New Year’s day without a hangover!
  1. If you are driving home, drive with extra caution and care. You don’t know the condition of the drivers around you so defensive driving is your friend.


Road Safety Tips to Avoid a New Year’s Car Accident In The North Bay

Call Santa Rosa Car Accident Attorney Michael A. Fiumara and Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC if you’ve been injured in a New Year’s Eve Car Accident!

Please be safe this New Year’s Eve and have fun, but if you are injured in a car accident due to negligent or drunk driving, our skilled legal team will fight for the insurance compensation you deserve.

Call us today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507! We will get through this together!

Road Safety Tips to Avoid a New Year’s Car Accident In The North Bay

How to Combat the Seven Deadly Sins from the Insurance Industry to Avoid Paying YOU Fair Compensation!

After any kind of accident, the last thing you want to do is fight your own insurance carrier. The old adage from our law firm is: YOUR insurance company will give you an umbrella and as soon as it rains they will snatch it away as fast as they can!

Besides the endless run around and delays, your own insurance company, and especially the third party’s insurance carrier, can make your life a living hell.

Please keep in mind that insurance companies are businesses and they are in it for profit above anything else.

They will do anything to reduce or deny your legitimate claim for the sake of making an even greater profit! You should question every word out of the claims adjuster’s mouth because they are not on your side, they are working for their own company!

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Your goal, unlike theirs, is to fully and fairly recover all of your damages from YOUR accident including but not limited to medical bills, lost wages during your recovery period, pain and suffering, and any future losses.

In order to MAXIMIZE your damages, it is vitally important that you take the following actions/ advice to avoid the seven deadly sins that you can expect from the insurance industry to MINIMIZE your recovery and reward:

1. You must request in writing a written explanation from the insurance carrier for the following: You have a legal right to an accurate time line telling you when you need to submit billing or Med-Pay information. You also need to be alerted to the statute of limitations in order to bring your claim in a timely manner.

2. Organize and keep all of your files, records, and relevant paperwork in one binder. Later, you can hand this to your attorney. Your binder and relevant paperwork should include your original policy, your declarations page, any and all documents that you have signed. Always insist upon getting a copy of any paperwork that you have signed. Your paperwork should specify all of your benefits. Keep every piece of paper that your insurance company has sent to you. You also have a right to request any missing documents from the insurance carrier.

3. We recommend that you thoroughly review all documents that you receive from the carrier to determine whether your claim was legally denied and on what basis. We would be happy to look over vague or convoluted additions, amendments or addendums that appear to permit the insurance carrier to deny you coverage under certain circumstances. These may not apply.

4. Always be skeptical and confirm your signature and review any initials to determine whether they have been forged. Insurance carriers are well-known for being dishonest and downright deceitful. Therefore, you need to request copies of all of your documents which support their denial of your legitimate accident claim. Check to see whether the signature on these documents is really yours or someone else’s.

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5. Every request that you make must be put into writing and you should keep copies of all receipts, especially if you send those as attachments to your carrier or to the adverse insurance carrier. Don’t allow the adjuster to call all the shots. If they are not responding to your written requests, then demand that they forward your written request to the carrier’s legal department and to the upper chain of command. Pretend that you are a pit bull, be persistent and be tenacious. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but if you don’t want to pursue the matter for yourself, then hire us to help you reduce the stress and MAXIMIZE your compensation.

6. The insurance company is not permitted to legally deny your claim on the basis of you filing an error. Filling out paperwork incorrectly or omitting something minor is arbitrary and capricious and must be challenged to prevent a final denial of your claim. Sometimes a carrier will state that you filed the document prematurely or before some arbitrary deadline. Do not buy that false and misleading allegation! Instead, seriously consider hiring competent legal counsel to represent you.

7. Do not allow the insurance adjuster to record your statement over the phone or in person on how the accident occurred or how badly you were injured. The insurance adjuster will try to catch you off guard and possibly while you are under the influence of some prescribed pain medication that can put your memory at risk for no fault of your own—and that is only the beginning. We don’t allow our clients to speak to any third party insurance adjuster unless we are present. We also insist upon recording the interview ourselves and only after the carrier agrees that their transcripts from the recording will be supplied to our client without cost or delay.

santa rosa personal injury lawyer

Finally, one of the most important ways to avoid insurance carrier deceit and to ‘even the playing field’ is for you to hire a qualified personal injury plaintiff’s law firm to represent you from the onset. Insurance carriers will only take you seriously after you have elicited the assistance of a legal professional such as our law firm. Since our law firm does not charge for consultations, you have nothing to lose by calling us and so much to potentially gain.

At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC since 1992 we have been helping accident victims make the most out of their insurance and that of the offending third party and thoroughly know the insurance claim process. We are familiar with the underhanded tactics that the insurance industry employs to deny or reduce your claims.

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The best way to counteract these deceitful tactics is to contact us immediately. We know when to settle and/or pursue litigation in order to get you the maximum compensation that you deserve and are entitled to under the law.

Knowledge is power and our knowledge used to fight and protect your best interest will yield full and fair compensation that you deserve. We are here to help put your lives back together after a bad accident or incident.

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For more information about your rights and legal options, please feel free to contact us at (707) 571-8600 in Santa Rosa or (415) 492-4507 in San Rafael.

Santa Rosa Residential Burglary Alert And What We Can Do

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 at about 7:20 a.m. the Santa Rosa Police Department received a report of an attempted armed robbery on Rhianna St. in Santa Rosa. Officers learned that three men approached the house. At least two were armed with handguns, confronted the 26-year-old male resident in the front yard and demanded to enter the house. The resident fought the suspects off and tried to retreat into his garage. He struggled to close the garage door while the men attempted to pull it open. Eventually the would-be robbers gave up and fled in a vehicle.

The victim was uninjured. The exact motive for the attempted robbery is not known but police believe that the home was possibly targeted because the suspects thought there was a medicinal marijuana grow at the residence despite the fact no such grow currently exists.

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Armed Robbery Charges in California

When a robbery is committed using a weapon or simply with the pretense of a weapon, it will often be charged as an armed robbery. Although guns come to mind first, a weapon can be almost anything that might cause bodily harm to another. Knives, baseball bats and other similar items are often used in armed robberies.

All California courts treat armed robbery as a very serious crime. Hence, there are very serious consequences for those convicted of this offense. An armed robbery conviction will put a felony offense on your record, damage your reputation, and you will end up with a felony state prison sentence.

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How Does California Law Define Robbery?

According to California Law, Robbery occurs anytime someone uses force or instills fear during the process of taking property from another. While similar to larceny, robbery requires that the incident happen while in the direct presence of the victim. This is considered a very serious, violent crime resulting in enhanced sentences or long prison terms.

Robbery without the use of a weapon can be tried either as a first-degree or a second-degree offense. A first-degree robbery conviction may lead to spending up to nine years in state prison. A second-degree robbery conviction may lead to a five-year sentence. These rules are not hard and fast because of recent changes in the law so consult an attorney of your choice for the circumstances and facts that apply to your case.

Since robbery requires some use of force or intimidation, the use of a weapon is one of the most obvious ways this occurs. When this happens, the offense is termed armed robbery. The penalties for armed robbery are more serious than those of a simple robbery that is committed without using a weapon.

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What are the Penalties for Armed Robbery?

California has a law known as “10-20-Life” that applies to convictions when a gun is used during the commission of a violent crime. “Use a Gun and You’re Done” law, adds extra prison time to the sentence of anyone who is convicted of using a gun while committing a robbery.

Under this statute convicted felons who used a firearm or other weapon to cause intimidation and instill fear during a crime may face up to ten years in a California state prison in addition to the sentence for their crime. For example, someone who commits first-degree robbery may face 19 years in state prison without even firing the gun. If the gun is fired, the enhanced penalties are increased to 20 years in prison. When someone is seriously injured or killed during the commission of a crime, the enhanced sentence can stretch from 25 years to life in prison.

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Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC can Help!

If you have been charged with armed robbery, it is vitally important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Prosecutors are known to ask the Court for more serious charges if any type of force is used during a robbery, theft or while shoplifting. Normally these types of charges would be labeled as misdemeanors, but can be elevated to felonies if they are labeled as armed robbery.

At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC we are familiar with a wide variety of legal defenses in this type of case and can often help clients get the charges against them reduced. In other cases, the charges may be dismissed entirely.

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Call (707) 571-8600 in Santa Rosa and (415) 492-4507 to schedule a consultation or go online to complete the consultation form to speak with attorneys Justin Milligan or Michael A. Fiumara, armed robbery attorney experts, and discuss the details of your case today.

Personal Injury Helpful Tips

Unfortunately, a personal injury caused by someone else’s negligence could strike at any minute leaving you and your family to deal with the aftermath.

Faced with expensive medical bills, lost income and the battle to recover both physically and emotionally, the impacts are often devastating.

The most frustrating part for many is the feeling that so much is suddenly outside of their control.

Santa Rosa Personal Injury law

If you reside in the North Bay, Santa Rosa, San Rafael, Petaluma, Novato, Rohnert Park, Windsor and have suffered an injury, here’s some useful information:

Do I Have a Personal Injury Claim?

If you’ve been hurt through no fault of your own, you may have a case. Personal injury lawsuits attempt to recover financial damages from the negligent party to compensate the victim for their injuries.

Although money can never completely make up for the pain and suffering that a severe injury causes to the victim and their family, adequate compensation can relieve the financial distress that usually results from an unexpected tragedy. In other words, let the best Personal Injury Attorney help you stop worrying about paying the bills so that you can focus your energy on what’s really important, your recovery and future well-being.

Personal injuries can be a result of the actions, the inaction or the negligence of one or more individuals or organizations—private entities or even a public entity.

The most common causes include traffic accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death and workplace accidents, but anytime you’re injured due to no fault of your own, it can fall under the legal definition of personal injury.

When your claim is presented in a court of law, you must prove that the other party was both liable and negligent to recover. The defendant or offending party does not have the burden, you do as the plaintiff. This means that they were legally required to exercise a certain level of care, but they failed to do so and as a result of that failure you were injured or damaged in some way.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?

You can rely on the skills and knowledge of an experienced lawyer to know the relevant laws and case studies inside and out.

At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC our experienced team of attorneys will carefully examine your claim from a variety of different viewpoints to identify all of the possible angles in order to maximize your compensation package while ensuring that no detail, no matter how small, is overlooked.

Of course, the insurance company may tell you something different. They are trained to give you the impression that they are acting in good faith and protecting your interests, but really they are trying to minimize their financial exposure. They are trying to shift the burden to you, making you at fault. Don’t fall for that nor should you agree to a taped interview from the opposing insurance carrier.

Here’s a little secret: Even your insurance company doesn’t work to protect your interests when it comes to a payout. Their ultimate responsibility is to pay you as little as possible and avoid an expensive lawsuit.

Santa Rosa Personal Injury law

If an insurance company or a large business is involved in your personal injury claim, here are a few reasons that consulting with an experienced lawyer is critical:

You’re Outmatched – Organizations of this size have an entire team of experts, forensic accountants, attorneys and other professionals who share a common goal: to pay as little as possible to injury victims like yourself. Never attempt to take on an insurance carrier without having your own attorney by your side—YOU won’t be alone then.

You’re Too Close to the Issue – Personal injury is, very personal, and you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel emotional about the entire situation. Although the adjuster at the insurance company or business entity won’t pay more than they have to there is no reason why the final number doesn’t have to be so low that you are unable to pay your bills and living expenses. In addition to having many years of experience in ALL PERSONAL INJURY matters, we do not allow the insurance carrier to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table when they try to low ball you. WE aggressively negotiate with them directly to even the playing field for you!

You Can’t Afford to Wait – The insurance company has all the time in the world, but you don’t. Knowing that your bills are piling up, they may give you a low-ball offer on the chance that you’ll take it out of desperation. An experienced attorney who has handled hundreds of cases just like yours will be able to advise you on the fairness of any offer as well as what you can gain by filing a lawsuit.

You Don’t Know Their Tactics – Big business knows that you aren’t a legal expert, and they take full advantage of it. Don’t expect them to tell you about your legal rights or the applicable statute of limitations. They certainly won’t preserve any useful evidence that is unfavorable to them, so we need to write letters to preserve evidence for later testing.

Most of all, an experienced legal professional will provide you with peace of mind and the time to heal and get back on your feet. Once you have expert knowledge and attorneys with years of plaintiff’s personal injury experience on your side you’ll feel like you’ve started to take control of the situation, and your life, once again.

If you’ve been losing sleep worrying about negotiating with the insurance company and meeting your financial obligations, a single consultation with the best accident attorneys will be better than any sleeping pill! Once your energy is refocused on your recovery and your family’s needs, you’ll literally feel like a heavy weight has been lifted from your shoulders!

Personal Injury Claim form with pen and glasses

If you or someone you care about is injured due to someone else’s negligence, take these steps to protect your interests:

Do not wait to seek medical care. Delays can raise several questions including whether you were really hurt, the date of the injury or the actual source of the damage. Keep records of every doctor you see and how you feel on a daily basis.

Record the names of witnesses and other pertinent facts. If you’re able, create a file with all relevant information. Write down your own account of the accident as soon as you can just in case your memory of the event fades with time. Keep track of every medical visit and related expense and keep a log of your lost time from work. We make every effort to get you paid on wage loss.

Call Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC as soon as possible at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507—Two very convenient locations to serve the entire North Bay.

Santa Rosa Personal Injury LawSanta Rosa Personal Injury Law

Remember….never sign any legal documents or speak to anyone without speaking with us first. We will advise you of your rights and your responsibilities in your personal injury case and help you obtain the MAXIMUM COMPESNATION possible.

“The Right Personal Injury Attorney Makes All the Difference…” has rightfully been our motto as far back as when we opened the doors in 1992. Please feel free to call us. The consultation is free and everything is private and confidential.

Please feel free to CLICK HERE to view all of our videos relating to Personal Injury to find out more information.

Swimming Pool Drowning and A Wrongful Death Claim

A dip in the swimming pool is a welcome relief for many Californians whether it is summer or winter!

Tourists and residents alike in California enjoy participating in water sports and all kinds of recreational activities using swimming pools at their hotel of choice and PUBLIC swimming pools alike.

Due to the large amount of water activities Californians enjoy, it is not uncommon for parents to enroll their children in swimming classes and/or send their children to schools or private entities for swimming lessons.

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While pools for the most part bring delight to old and young alike, from time to time, a tragedy occurs resulting in a wrongful death by drowning.  In the US, the National Safety Council reports that 600 children and adults drown annually in swimming pools.

Lawyers who handle wrongful death claims related to drownings determine at the outset of the claim if the case meets the standard of premises liability and negligence.   In a nutshell, premises liability places liability on a property owner for dangerous or hazardous conditions that the owner should have known about or should have been able to foresee and inspect.

Cases involving premises liability are:

Privately owned swimming pools (examples are – swim schools or private schools with pools)

Residential swimming pools

Pools on government property (examples  – public school swimming pools or community park swimming pools)

Commercial pools for guests, tenants or members (examples are – hotels, motels, gyms, apartment complexes, or water amusement parks)

Renters/Tenants (example are– a renter who rents a property with a swimming pool)

santa rosa swimming pool accident lawyer

Some of the dangerous or hazardous conditions that may have contributed to the drowning death may include the following:

Maintenance Issues: 

Was the pool only partially filled?  When a pool is not filled with enough water, a person may strike their head on the bottom of the pool, rendering them unconscious thus contributing to the drowning.   Was the pool murky?  Murky waters can prevent the drowning victim from being seen or unable to judge the depth.   Was debris in the pool?  Debris in the pool may have contributed to the drowning victim from being seen and rescued in a timely manner.  Was the pool floor slippery?  A slippery side and bottom of a pool, can contribute to the drowning victim from being unable to get out of the pool or could have contributed to the slipping causing the head to hit the concrete or cement.   If electrocution played a role in the death or drowning, electrical maintenance and installation will be investigated.  If the drowning occurred at night questions such as, ‘Were lights on at the time of the drowning and were the light bulbs regularly changed/checked.  Was the light sufficient?   Did signage exist prohibiting swimming at certain hours?

Fencing Issues: 

Was it reasonable or prudent for a pool owner to install a locked gate and or install fences around the pool? Did adequate security exist for the location? Was the gate open or the lock broken are other questions that could be decisive in your case.

Lack of Supervision:

In a private residence, this issue may arise due to the drowning of a guest.  In public pools, a lifeguard (and/or the company) who hired the lifeguard may be held responsible or liable if there was negligent supervision.  Commercial pools may be held liable or responsible for the drowning death for failure to provide a lifeguard.

Another issue that we thoroughly investigate revolves around the negligence on the part of the pool owner.

Did the drowning occur due to the failure of the owner to upkeep the pool and or upkeep the maintenance or was the maintenance department or company responsible/ liable?  For instance, allowing an accumulation of leaves on the water surface or debris to accumulate or collect could be enough for your civil lawsuit.

santa rosa swimming pool accident lawyer

WE also examine whether the pool instructors or any of the employees of the maintenance company or hosts may be negligent in some way?

Did any debris cause the drowning victim or decedent to trip or slip into the pool resulting in the drowning death?

Maintenance surrounding the installation of equipment and in relation to local, city or county ordinances will also be evaluated.  If the death occurred at night, negligence associated with lighting and related to signage permitting swimming at night would be thoroughly investigated.  If alcohol was served and/or the owner or guest was intoxicated at the time of the drowning that would play a role in determining negligence.

At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC we specialize in swimming pool accidents and swimming pool drownings.  We understand that the relatives of the deceased may by experiencing pain and anger over the drowning of their loved one.  We would be more than happy to talk with you and help you achieve the answers you need for closure and a just compensation.  There is no fee to talk to us.   Our office works on a State Bar approved contingency fee arrangement which means that you don’t pay unless we win your case.

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Our law firm is committed to seeking justice for those who have lost a family member in a swimming pool accident resulting in death.   We want you to feel comfortable with the process of hiring a highly qualified and very experienced wrongful death lawyer who will achieve the results that you deserve.

With this in mind, we encourage you to look at what our past clients testimonials, results check out what our peers have to say about our firm. CLICK HERE

Please also take a look at our Google reviews HERE

Prostitution Laws In Sonoma County, Marin County & The Entire North Bay

prostitution laws

Under California law prostitution is a violation of California Penal Code section 647(b).

The act of prostitution involves two or more parties, the person(s) soliciting the prostitute and the prostitute. As such, the law criminalizes both the act of solicitation and the act of prostitution. Additionally it is a criminal offense under California law to loiter with the intent of committing an act of prostitution.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of soliciting a prostitute the People must prove that:

1. The defendant requested that another person engage in an act of prostitution;

2. The defendant intended to engage in an act of prostitution with the other person;


3. The other person received the communication containing the request.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of loitering with the intent to commit prostitution the People must prove that:

1. The defendant delayed or lingered in a public place;

2. When the defendant did so, he or she did not have a lawful purpose for being there;


3. When the defendant did so, he or she intended to commit prostitution.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of engaging in prostitution the People must prove that:

1. The defendant agreed to engage in an act of prostitution with someone else;

2. The defendant intended to engage in an act of prostitution with that person;


3. In addition to agreeing, the defendant did something to further the commission of an act of prostitution.

The legal definition of prostitution under California law encompasses a wide range of conduct. The act of prostitution is sexual intercourse or a lewd act involving touching the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of either the prostitute or customer with some part of the other person’s body for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of either person. This lewd act committed in exchange for money or something else of value.

Defenses to prostitution can involve challenging the intent of the person soliciting. In this case, the defendant must have displayed a clear intent to summon a prostitute to negotiate an exchange of a lewd act for something of value.

Prostitution Laws

In this type of situation, a person alleged to have been soliciting a prostitute must have intended that the communication reach its target. For the person engaging an act of prostitution, intent may also be challenged by the Defense. The Defendant may present evidence that refutes that he or she demonstrated the intent to induce, entice, or solicit prostitution or to procure someone else to commit prostitution.

If a person who may normally engage in prostitution, but is not doing so at the time, and is solicited for services and declines, this cannot be viewed as the requisite intent for to support a conviction for prostitution as the Defendant must knowingly be acting with the intent to engage in the conduct of prostitution at that particular time. Mere status of reputation is not sufficient to convict. However, an alleged prostitute may be convicted of loitering with intent to engage in prostitution if one is aimlessly waiting in an area with the intent of receiving a solicitation.

Prostitution, solicitation and loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution are misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Further, these California law contains provisions that enhance the penalties for repeat offenders. If convicted for a second prostitution or solicitation offense, the Defendant may be sentenced to a minimum of forty-five (45) days in a county jail. A third prostitution or solicitation conviction offense, the judge must order a minimum of ninety (90) days in a county jail.

Given the high risk involved with a child prostitution charge, it is important to seek experienced counsel if you are the subject of an investigation or are detained by law enforcement.

Regardless of whether or not the case proceeds to trial, the seriousness of a California prostitution charge requires the assistance of a skilled and committed California criminal lawyer who knows every legal argument when defending clients.

If you have been arrested for the crime of prostitution in the North Bay of California, contact Santa Rosa Prostitution Laws Attorney Michael A. Fiumara for a FREE case evaluation at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507. 

“The Right Attorney Makes All The Difference” 

prostitution laws



Gun Safety In The North Bay

This law firm has been representing defendants for almost a quarter century.  At many times young children, teenagers and especially adults are charged with gun crimes which have very harsh penalties, jail and prison associated with their use and misuse.  When guns are used in the commission of a crime, there is added enhancements, strikes, and other dire consequences which this article is not primarily focused upon.

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Here the focus is on responsible gun ownership and teaching children to respect guns and to follow safety precautions.


  1. Here is a way to talk to children about firearms especially since most children are naturally curious about things that they don’t quite understand or anything that may appear to be “forbidden.” Parents and particularly gun owners are encouraged to talk to their children about gun safety including the following rules:


  • STOP!  Please advise your children or any other child that you are the caregiver for that when they find or see a firearm they need to STOP what they are doing.
  • DON’T TOUCH!  Please caution your child or any other child to never touch a firearm that he/she finds or sees—Many gun owners will tell you that you should mind your business and they have the right to teach their children the proper gun protocol and rules and if that’s the case then you have done your job.
  • LEAVE THE AREA!  Please caution your child or any other child that they should leave the area where they discover or find a gun immediately; even if the child is trying to stop someone else from using the firearm they should leave first and get out of harm’s way.
  • TELL OR ALERT A RESPONSIBLE ADULT!  The child that you advise should immediately tell a responsible adult about the firearm that he/she has seen or discovered.  (There is also another view that the child should tell or alert the authorities but sometimes the authorities are heavy handed and overreaching and the next minute a child can be expelled from school, arrested on the spot, detained or worse for merely finding a gun or weapon and/or touching it!  This office is not comfortable advising anybody to contact law enforcement under these circumstances.)


  1. We advise parents to supervise the use of imitation firearms. In the case of imitation firearms, they should be marked accordingly with an orange band so that law enforcement does not mistakenly believe they are real for obvious reasons, i.e., theAndy Lopez case.  Imitation firearms including non-powder and ball-bearing guns should only be used under the direct supervision of a responsible adult and should always be stored and carried in a carrying case or later in a secured safe.  Imitation firearms can cause serious bodily injury and even death.  Children should be educated about the dangers and consequences of the misuse of these firearms.  Modification to imitation firearms, such as the removal of the orange tip from the firearm, are strongly discouraged as such modifications can often make the imitation firearm appear so real that law enforcement may act accordingly and shoot to kill. Again, i.e., Andy Lopez, a real case scenario in Santa Rosa, California.


  1. Please try to be a good role model for children— Always, actions speak louder than words and children learn most by observing the adults in their lives who they respect. Parents and gun owners need to set an excellent example by practicing what they preach and practicing safe gun handling and storage around their children- the same goes for hunters.


  1. Please educate yourself. It is recommended that you take the time to educate yourself about guns and gun safety and to assist you in this endeavor there are a few great resources that are available.

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-One of the tips for gun owners is:

-Another great source: A Dozen Things Parents Can Do To Stop School Violence.  Please go to

-Finally, there is another website, involving keeping firearms in your home safe and away from children. 

-Please also see: Gun safety tips for parents,

Arrested For Shoplifting In Sonoma County? What Are The Next Steps?

Shoplifting is one of the most commonly charged offenses in California, with a huge range of possible penalties.

The simple act of walking into a store and taking some goods without paying can be classified as an infraction, a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on a lot of circumstances.

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Before the prosecutor will decide what charges, if any, to file against a suspect, attorneys from the District Attorney’s Office will take a number of facts into consideration –

-What was the value of the item(s) taken?

-Was the property damaged in any way?

-Did the suspect use any force or the threat of force to take the property?

-What kind of criminal history does the suspect have?

-Did the suspect enter the store with the intent to commit theft or did the suspect decide to commit theft once he or she was already inside the premises?  

-Can it be proven that the theft was actually intentional or is there a chance that an innocent shopper simply forgot to pay for something?

The answers to these questions will guide the prosecutors in deciding what types of criminal charges to file against a person suspected of shoplifting and whether to allow a diversion or dismissal later.

The Value of the Item Taken

Typically, if the value of the property taken is low, nothing is damaged, the store receives the property back, and the suspect has no significant criminal history, the District Attorney or Prosecutor might be inclined to reduce the charge to a simple infraction, similar to a speeding ticket.  Depending on the county, the defendant might be required to take some classes, provide a DNA sample or make a financial contribution to a program that benefits victims of crimes before the case will be reduced from a misdemeanor to an infraction.  An infraction will include some fines, but no probation and no jail time.

If the value of the item taken is significant but less than $950, the suspect will probably be charged with misdemeanor petty theft.  If, however, the suspect has some history of theft, if force was involved in the crime, or if it appears that the suspect entered the store with the plan to commit a theft, he or she could be looking at more serious charges, even a felony or two.

Any theft of goods valued at more than $950 will probably be charged as felony grand theft.  Also, some theft of various agricultural products valued at more than $250 can also be charged as felony grand theft.

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Defendant’s Criminal History

Usually, if someone has had a shoplifting conviction reduced to an infraction in the past, the Prosecutor will not offer such a favorable plea or deal again.  The suspect will probably be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony this time.

A suspect with a prior conviction for petty theft can also be charged with a felony if he or she is convicted of petty theft a second time (petty theft with a prior).  Suspects don’t always realize that stealing a candy bar can send them to state prison if they’ve been convicted of stealing candy bars in the past. However, this scenario is changing because of several recent changes in the law due to passage of realignment and several recent ballot propositions.  The only way a current theft of valuables exceeding $950 becomes a felony is if defendant has been convicted of an offense enumerated in Penal Code section 667(e)(2)(C)(iv) or for an offense registerable per Penal Code 290(c).  (See Penal Code 490.2.)]

It is  Not Always Apparent that the Suspect Entered the Store with the Intent to Commit Theft

In California, commercial burglary is defined as entering a building (other than a home) with the intent to commit theft.  This means that you are guilty of burglary the minute you step into the store if it can be proven that you were even thinking of stealing something.  It is obviously difficult to prove a defendant’s mental state, but the prosecutor will attempt to do so with circumstantial evidence (Did the suspect bring any money with her?  Did she go straight for the thing she stole, then head straight for the door?  Was the suspect using a stolen credit card?  Did the suspect bring an empty shopping bag into the store no longer carries the weight it once did since most people now bring shopping bags into stores to avoid paying for bags!

Prosecutors will review the store’s video surveillance tapes to determine if the suspect looked around suspiciously as soon as they entered the store to try to determine an early intent to steal right from the onset. Defense Counsel will need to put this interpretation into the right context.

If it looks like the suspect came onto the premises or the store with the plan to steal, you can be charged with felony commercial burglary.

Did the Suspect Use Force or the Threat of Force?

In California, robbery is defined as theft + force (or the threat of force).  If a Loss Prevention Officer (commonly called an “LP”) blocks your escape path and you push or shove him or her  hat can transform a simple infraction into a serious felony.

santa rosa shoplifting lawyer

The Civil Demand Letter

If you have recently been arrested for shoplifting, you will probably receive a letter in the mail from the store where you were cited or arrested for stealing from the store’s attorney.  The letter will inform you that you owe the store a sum of money, usually several hundred dollars or more!   The letter may contain other threatening language and will appear very intimidating.   The store is given a statutory right of civil remedy pursuant to Penal Code section 490.5. What we can do is ensure the amount they seek in compensation, usually for the time to investigate and capture the suspect, is accurate and fair.  Our Law Firm has repeatedly and successfully reduced these extortionary amounts to a fraction of what the store or business originally demanded.

A civil demand letter is basically a threat to sue.  The store is claiming that they suffered some loss and that you were responsible for whatever loss they are claiming.  If you refuse to pay and deny that you caused the store any loss, the store will have to decide whether or not it intends to sue you.  Again, in order for the store to prevail in any civil suit, they will have to prove to the court that you caused them to suffer some actual, financial loss.  The store will not waste value time and money to pursue a theft suspect if the amount is small. The companies that handle these types of cases handle hundreds if not thousands to make them economical.  WE can discuss this with you since each case is different.

The civil demand has no effect on the CRIMINAL case against you.  The District Attorney will pursue the criminal theft charges regardless of whether or not you pay the store’s civil demand.  Paying money to the store will not help your criminal case, and refusing to pay the civil demand will not hurt your criminal case — they are completely independent of each other.

Since shoplifting can carry such a huge range of possible penalties, you should immediately talk to a local attorney if you are arrested.  Because shoplifting charges can damage your integrity and diminish your job prospects you should consult with an experienced attorney who has been practicing in this area for 25 years.  Our firm has recently had a lot of success defending against shoplifting charges.  Call for a free consultation at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 to see what we can do for you.

santa rosa shoplifting lawyer

At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC we have defeated numerous shoplifting charges in the past and have gotten great results for our clients over the years.  We will do our best to add your case to that growing list as well.