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Posted in car accidents on June 16, 2017
All legal drivers on the road must pass a written and road exam before receiving a license and heading out on the open road. This training unfortunately does not stop drivers from engaging in reckless and illegal driving activities. Obligations, emotions, and general carelessness often take the place of common-sense driving safety.
It’s important to keep these factors in mind, as most drivers can check off at least one of these driving behaviors.
Here are our top 10 dangerous driving habits:
- Brake checking. Brake checking occurs when a driver in front of a tailgater hits (not taps) the brakes to startle the rear vehicle into backing off. Tailgating is a frustrating and dangerous driving behavior, but responding with brake checking is just as bad. Instead of responding to road rage with road rage, move over at your earliest convenience to let the tailgater pass or maintain safe speeds and allow the tailgater to pass.
- Tailgating. Drivers should always follow the three second rule to maintain a safe distance from the leading vehicle. Tailgating to make a vehicle move faster or over may inspire an instance of brake checking and/or contribute to a rear-ending accident. Give yourself time to react to sudden traffic stops and unexpected obstacles.
- Speeding. Speeding is dangerous on its own, but it often accompanies every other dangerous driving habit on this list. When drivers combine speed with carelessness, the risk of an accident increases. In practice, a 5-10 mph increased speed will only shave a maximum of a couple of minutes off average daily drives. Such small savings cannot justify the accident risk nor vehicle wear and tear.
- Swerving. A driver that moves suddenly to avoid a hazard may encounter a new one or overcompensate on the way back into a lane. While safely avoiding visible obstacles makes sense, the fast reaction can result in a number of adverse outcomes. Instead, defensive driving professionals urge drivers to stop or slow down instead of swerving.
- Texting/driving distracted. Campaigns across the country warn drivers of the dangers of texting and other distracted driving behaviors. Still, drivers consciously or unconsciously grab for a mobile device as soon as it buzzes or beeps. Any distraction that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for even five seconds dramatically increases the likelihood of an incident.
- Avoiding turn signals. Turn signals are not a courtesy. Under California laws, drivers must signal their intentions within 100 feet of a turn if the turn affects other vehicles. Failing to signal can lead to accidents with other vehicles and bicyclists on the roadways.
- Running a red light. When traffic lights turn yellow, many drivers take the signal as an opportunity to speed up and miss the stop. Unfortunately, this can lead to running a red light and a collision. Drivers can make an effort to stop at every yellow/red light and watch out for other runners to build safe driving habits.
- Impairment. Impairment of any kind slows reaction times, distorts visibility, and increases the likelihood of other reckless driving behaviors. Drivers should never get behind the wheel after drinking, doing drugs, or staying awake for long periods. Call a friend, use a rideshare service, or stay put.
- Lane hopping. Unlike swerving – a reactionary response – lane hopping involves purposeful and quick movement among lanes. Some drivers cut one lane at a time and others cut more. This practice does not give drivers enough time to anticipate other drivers’ movements and can cause serious accidents. Signal and move at an appropriate speed into and out of lanes to contribute to a safe driving environment.
- Driving too fast for road conditions. Rain, debris, hail, and other conditions can decrease visibility and change the way vehicle tires interact with the road. Drivers who do not adjust speeds based on weather conditions can lose control and slide, flip, or spin into other cars or obstacles.
Accidents happen in the blink of an eye and can change a life forever. Safer driving starts with your next driving decision. Focus, follow the rules of the road, and know when to hand over the keys to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries.
Posted in car accidents on June 14, 2017
Car accident claimants often wonder how long a case will take from start to finish. Depending on the situation, an accident claim can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. While many victims want to move past the accident as quickly as possible, spending extra time on a case can make a world of difference in the outcome and an individual’s recovery.
Factors that Determine the Length of a Car Accident Claim
Black and white cases with clear liability and a well-understood injury may settle in a matter of months without any delays. Other cases are not as clear. They require patience and perseverance to investigate, develop, and complete. Consider some of the factors that can lengthen the timing of an accident claim:
- The injuries involved. Many questions surrounding the injuries can keep a claim in limbo for weeks or months at a time. In the early stages of a claim, a physician may not know the recovery period for an injury or the extent of treatments needed to bring an accident victim to maximum recovery levels. A car accident attorney needs this crucial information to accurately outline damages for the injury.
Some injuries such as whiplash, chronic generalized pain, and soft-tissue injuries can raise questions with insurance companies involved in the claim. Since many fraudulent claims involve generalized injuries, insurance adjustors carefully scrutinize claims involving these injuries.
- Insurance company cooperation. Insurance companies will often take their time to respond to conduct investigations and communicate with claimants. However, they must adhere to certain time limits. In California, for instance, the insurance company must either deny the claim or offer a settlement within 40 days of receiving a proof of claim.
After the insurance company makes an offer or denies a claim, the injured individual must decide on a path forward. A claimant may appeal a denial, accept a claim offer, or reject it and either negotiate settlement terms or file a civil claim for compensation. Each communication with an insurance company may bring the claim closer to or further from resolution.
- Legal proceedings. If an insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, a plaintiff may initiate the civil claims process. Car accident lawsuits and other personal injury cases involve a discovery period and additional out-of-court negotiations. If the two parties still cannot reach a satisfactory offer, the case will likely go to trial. Each stage of the legal process takes additional time to complete.
In general, cases involving serious injuries, questionable liability, or a potentially high settlement value will take longer to successfully resolve than straightforward claims. While the timeframe of a claim may seem lengthy consider the following benefits of following through with your attorney’s advice not to settle:
- Additional time can improve a settlement offer. Many seriously injured car accident victims may need ongoing care and support for months or years after an accident. Taking the time to develop and fight for a fair settlement can greatly improve a claimant’s financial stability after an accident.
- Offset legal fees. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they receive a percentage of the settlement. A larger settlement benefits both claimants and attorneys involved in the case.
- Create awareness. Some claimants pursue cases to raise awareness of particularly negligent driving behaviors and hold careless drivers accountable. A lengthy lawsuit can force insurance companies to follow good faith practices and prevent other drivers from making reckless driving mistakes.
A car accident claim timeframe can vary widely from case to case. Talk to your attorney to gauge the timing and the potential outcomes of a claim before deciding to accept a hasty settlement offer. Short, undervalued cases may not allow you to move past the incident as quickly or completely as you think. The closure and compensation that come from a well-negotiated claim may better support the financial, physical, and mental recovery process.
Police officers receive training for many different scenarios, including those involving dogs. Unfortunately, mistakes can and do happen. The heat of the moment, a perceived threat, or miscommunication can all lead to the untimely death of a beloved canine. In these cases, a dog owner can take a few different types of actions to hold the officer/agency accountable and start the recovery process.
Possible Claims Against the Police
A pet owner can look at both federal and state laws to determine the right jurisdiction for a legal claim. Unless an officer commits an act of cruelty that results in the death of the dog, California remedies fall under property-related claims. Under Californian and most other state laws, an owner can sue for the value of the dog, any medical bills for the dog prior to death, and emotional distress. Animal cruelty deaths fall under a different category and may warrant a larger settlement.
Many dog owners choose to file claims against police officers in federal court as a Fourth Amendment violation (illegal property seizure). Depending on the facts of the case, the plaintiff may make an argument for illegal seizure and/or acts of excessive force. In a federal claim, a plaintiff may receive damages for costs associated with the death of the dog, owner mistreatment (if applicable), and personal emotional distress.
While these claims seem straightforward, law enforcement agencies enjoy many protections from both civil and criminal claims associated with dog shootings. Officers enjoy civil action immunity if they acted within the scope of the job and made a good faith attempt to honor an owner’s rights. Officers may also escape liability in claims if they can demonstrate adherence to agency procedures during the incident.
A law enforcement agency may attempt to settle a claim outside of court instead of fighting the accusation. Dog owners must carefully evaluate the settlement offer before accepting or rejecting it. An agency may only offer compensation for the “going rate” of the dog based on its breed, background, and age. This type of settlement may not cover the pain and suffering an owner experiences after experiencing the death of a canine companion.
What to Do After a Police-Driven Canine Killing
Dog owners can take steps immediately after a canine killing incident to protect their rights to compensation:
- Call emergency services. Report the incident and request support and an investigation. If you wait to report the incident, investigators may miss important pieces of evidence. As with any injurious incident, a swift investigation can prevent evidence loss or tampering.
- Record witness information. Look for any witnesses to the event and write down their contact information. In urban and neighborhood environments, search for any security cameras that might contain footage of the incident. A visual recording can serve as powerful evidence of police misconduct.
- Record officer information. If you are present at the time of the killing, ask for the officer’s name and badge number. Officers must file a report every time they discharge their weapons. Investigators can often locate an offending officer, even if the owner did not witness the incident.
- Talk to an attorney. Canine killing cases run the gamut from small claims settlements to civil claims worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Until a police misconduct attorney reviews the evidence, avoid taking a settlement or talking about the case.
Law enforcement agencies do not keep data on the number of dogs shot, but one specialist from the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services facility estimates officers kill 25-30 companion dogs every day. As social media draws awareness to the ongoing problem and more loving pet owners pursue legal action against the police, standard legal procedures may change. Instead of using lethal force, officers could substitute a non-lethal alternative and avoid unnecessary harm to animals and their owners.
Until law enforcement practices change, pet owners must understand their rights after a dog’s death. They can pursue a civil claim to agency perspectives and receive compensation for their losses.
Posted in car accidents on May 18, 2017
Large commercial trucks contribute to thousands of fatal car accidents every year in the U.S.. We need big rigs to fuel America’s economy, but these large, heavy vehicles pose serious threats to other roadway users. While it is not always possible to prevent a big rig accident, defensive driving can help drivers avoid these dangerous situations. Follow these safety tips next time you’re driving near an 18-wheeler to improve your chances of avoiding a collision.
Give Extra Room to Large Trucks
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 5% of large truck accidents occurred when the truck driver followed the lead vehicle too closely. Large trucks can’t stop as quickly as smaller, lighter vehicles. Thus, rear-end collisions are a greater possibility when driving in front of big rigs. Leave more room in front of and behind your vehicle to prevent these accidents.
Follow the five-second rule instead of the three-second rule: Leave at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length (account for 50 feet at speeds over 40 miles per hour) between you and the vehicle in front of you. Prepare to swerve to the left or right of the vehicle in front of you, should you notice a big rig failing to stop in time to prevent a rear-end collision. Defensive driving practices such as avoiding driving in front of a big rig can help prevent these crashes. Never cut a big rig off, as the driver likely cannot stop in time to avoid an accident.
Do Not Drive in Blind Spots
Big rig drivers have larger blind spots than typical motor vehicles. There are several areas where the driver cannot see cars around the truck at all. There is an especially bad blind spot on the right side of an 18-wheeler. It is wise not to pass a commercial truck on its right side or drive in this area if you can avoid it. You may notice a sign on the back of a semi stating something along the lines of, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” This is a good rule to abide by – if you cannot see the truck’s sideview mirrors, assume you are in the driver’s blind spot. Never assume a truck driver can see your vehicle. Believe the opposite, and pass as quickly as possible to avoid driving in a blind spot for an extended period of time.
Pass with Care
On top of dangerous blind spots, passenger vehicle drivers also face a much longer distance to pass big rigs. If you must pass an 18-wheeler on a two-lane highway, only do so when you can see far ahead in the opposite lane. Do not pass if it will require going over the speed limit, or if you will have to come to a sudden stop once you get in front of the big rig. There is no guarantee that the large truck can stop fast enough if you cut it off before a stop sign or red light. Give a truck more space than you would to other vehicles once you pass – wait until you can see the front of the truck in your rearview mirror before returning to the lane.
Watch Out for Wide Turns
The structure of a big rig makes it impossible to make sharp turns. Instead, trucks require wide berths, especially when making a right turn. Trucks may need to swing left to turn right successfully. Do not squeeze your vehicle directly next to or behind a big rig making a turn. It can be difficult to tell where the driver will need to maneuver to make the turn possible. Give the truck enough room, and wait to see where the truck driver intends to make the turn before making your move. These simple truck safety tips can make all the difference next time you’re near a big rig.
Posted in Uncategorized on May 16, 2017
Birth injuries can be life changing for both child and parent. The trauma of a birth injury and the recovery journey can be difficult to endure alone. Luckily, parents don’t have to figure out life with a birth injured child without help. Birth injury support groups exist for the families of minor patients. These groups can help the parents of children who suffer from birth injuries such as Erb’s Palsy, brachial plexus injuries, brain injuries, autism, cerebral palsy, and other disorders. They can also help mothers who are coping with anxiety from a traumatic birth or post-partum depression. Here is an introduction to some birth injury support groups that are available in California.
This UK-based online support group includes a variety of traumatic birth experiences, with heartfelt stories families share. This group regularly posts helpful information and resources for coping with a traumatic birth and injuries, such as books, articles, and blog posts. Find information about how to prepare for birth, how to heal after a traumatic birth, and how to birth again after a harrowing first birth.
This national organization has a wealth of information and support options for parents with children who have suffered brachial plexus injuries. These are injuries to the brachial plexus, or the network of nerves in the arm and shoulder. Brachial plexus injuries commonly occur when the baby becomes stuck in the birth canal, lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone. Improper use of birthing tools and techniques can cause this type of injury, especially when the physician reacts poorly to an emergency situation.
The United Brachial Plexus Network (UBPN) offers resources for parents as well as for people living with brachial plexus injuries. It offers scholarships for individuals with this type of injury, as well as an annual camp for children, adults, and parents. Find everything you need from a brachial plexus injury support group with the UBPN, from learning tips on how to prevent this kind of injury, support for families, education about this disability, and a worldwide network of people dealing with this injury.
This support group is helpful for all parents of children with brain injuries, and not just brain injuries relating to traumatic birth. The Brain Injury Association of California is a nonprofit organization that provides information and support for families and individuals affected by brain injures. This group publishes recent news relating to brain injuries, as well as information about local events and fundraisers. It helps people get involved with the cause, such as attending educational events or participating in forums. It is also a great source of support for those living with brain injuries. The group provides personal stories, FAQs, recent research, and staff available for conversation.
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) has an extensive network around the country. It provides services and support based within individual communities, serving the unique needs of people with cerebral palsy (CP). Parents and individuals can find information, resources, and support for life with cerebral palsy. UCP aims to help those with CP live life to the fullest, providing a way to stay connected and join the conversation. The UCP also accepts donations for helping those living with CP.
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and other behavioral disorders, can stem from a traumatic birth injury, especially those involving the brain. Lack of oxygen to the brain (brain hypoxia) during birth can lead to permanent brain damage and behavioral changes in children. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) gives you excellent resources you can trust and a network of individuals going through the same experiences with whom you can connect. As an individual with ADD or a parent of a child with ADD, this organization can help you learn how to live with this disorder and join a community of others who can support you and your family.
Posted in School Bullying on April 15, 2017
Bullying is a problem that’s been around for centuries, but the type of threats and the severity of consequences have changed in recent years. Today’s students can become victims of cyberbullying, or using electronic devices and equipment such as cell phones and computers to bully a victim via text message, email, or social media. Cyberbullying has been linked to depression, anxiety, and even suicide in young students. Unfortunately, the halls of many middle schools are not safe from this form of bullying or others.
Recent Cyberbullying Investigation at Curran Middle Schools
In February 2017, police launched an investigation at Curran Middle School in the face of new threats against students. While they made no arrests, they did receive a confession from two students who admitted to creating a social media account. The students said they created the account for attention and had no intention of doing anything. According to the original complaint a few months ago, there had been multiple social media threats listing students targeted for a supposed school shooting and the dates on which the shootings would occur.
As of now, there is no confirmation that new findings relate to these prior threats. However, police have identified one 14-year-old girl as a suspect. Ultimately, the District Attorney’s Office will decide whether a crime took place. Investigators are still digging into the source of the original threats. While police say they don’t believe Carron Middle School students are in any danger, many parents are keeping their children home from school. This recent cyberbullying event raises many questions and concerns about bullying.
The Dangers of School Bullying
Bullying is a real threat to students. In spite of efforts of communities, schools, and parents to put an end to bullying, it still pervades thousands of schools all over the world. “Bullying” describes any type of intimidation one person imposes on another. Students may become victims of verbal, physical, or psychological bullying. All forms can have serious ramifications on a person’s life, including:
- Physical harm and injuries
- Health problems and complaints
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder
- Poor self-confidence and self-image
- Emotional and mental trauma
- Feelings of isolation from friends and family
- Problems with fear, anxiety, and depression
- Turning to drugs or alcohol to cope
- Problems in school or with grades
- Loss of interest in regular activities
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
In the event of bullying, parents may be able to hold a school liable for damages. This may be the case if a negligent staff member contributed to your child’s harm, such as by failing to supervise children or take reasonable action to prevent bullying. The courts may hold a school liable for negligence or intentional acts if teachers contribute to bullying or student harassment.
When to Speak to an Attorney
Not all cases of school bullying are grounds for personal injury lawsuits, but many are. Most school bullying attorneys offer free initial consultations, giving you the opportunity to speak to a licensed lawyer about your child’s particular situation. If the lawyer believes your case has merit due to someone else’s negligence or intent to harm, you may want to pursue a lawsuit against the school or school district. A lawsuit can result in recovery for your child’s damages, including his/her personal injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
A local attorney can help you learn your rights as a parent and your options moving forward. An attorney can also file a claim against the school district on your behalf and represent you during settlement negotiations and a trial if your case goes to court. For more information about a bullying case at Curran Middle School, speak to the attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates of Bakersfield.
Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2017
During the time President Trump has been in office, he has made big strides toward changes in American immigration policies. His administration is focused on three goals for immigration reform: to create a wall across the southern border, to enforce laws in accordance with our Constitutional system of government, and to improve jobs, wages, and security for all Americans. As President Trump’s immigration policies tighten, undocumented immigrants fear for their futures. In this time of great uncertainty, Bakersfield attorneys with Rodriguez & Associates are offering free legal advice and representation.
Daniel Rodriguez and His Mission to Protect Immigrants
Daniel Rodriguez of Rodriguez & Associates grew up in a family of migrant farm workers. He has worked and lived in multiple states across the U.S, working in the fields and holding a variety of other jobs while putting himself through college and law school. His father could not read or write English or Spanish, and his mother only had three years of schooling. Daniel’s upbringing gives him a unique perspective as a lawyer in Bakersfield. He knows the importance of hard work and the value in protecting those who cannot protect themselves.
Today, Daniel is dedicated to helping America’s immigrants navigate the complex and often frightening new immigration laws. As President Trump orders 10,000 more immigration agents and gives local police officers more power to assist in immigration law enforcement, immigrants need more legal help than ever. Police are conducting mandatory vehicle checkpoints and making house calls to find and detain undocumented immigrants. Daniel and a panel of 15 lawyers recently held an open-to-the-public panel at California State University in Bakersfield to offer free legal advice for people in this situation.
Undocumented and documented immigrants face difficult questions and legal considerations, many of which are changing on a weekly basis under President Trump’s administration. During the free panel and in his professional time since, Attorney Rodriguez has offered counsel and legal advice to immigrants regarding deportation fears, documentation processes, police investigations, and bullying and harassment of minorities in hostile environments. It is a matter that hits close to home for Rodriguez, who wants to do everything possible to protect minorities.
Legal Counsel from Attorney Rodriguez in Bakersfield
Daniel Rodriguez and his team of local injury attorneys have a mission to help immigrants understand their rights and how to protect themselves and their families during this tumultuous time in America. At the public meeting, he acknowledged the unfortunate impacts of President Trump’s campaign when one mother mentioned the bullying and harassment of her daughter in school due to her race. The bullies called the young girl by a racial slur and said her family would get deported “once the wall went up.”
Rodriguez informed the woman that what her daughter is going through is illegal – the law protects children from physical, verbal, and psychological bullying in school. He recommended she file a complaint and keep documentation of the complaint. This is just one example of how Rodriguez is shedding light on the legal rights of immigrants.
The main point of conversation of the night, however, was what to do if confronted by police. The panel advised immigrants not to speak to police officers and not to answer the door if police come knocking. They also said to always be polite, even if you do not agree with why or how the officer is confronting you. Immigrants should not give police any excuse to take the situation to the next step. Staying calm, quiet, and courteous can prevent you from giving too much information to police and getting into further legal trouble. For any immigration questions, concerns, or legal needs, please come to the law offices of Rodriguez & Associates in Bakersfield.
Posted in Uncategorized on April 4, 2017
From Mt. Pinos to Sunday Peak and everywhere in-between, Bakersfield, and the larger Kern County area, has numerous options for fantastic hiking. Kern County is home to strenuous hikes at high elevation as well as leisurely hikes perfect for families and kids. No matter what kind of hike you are looking for in the area, it’s always important to take necessary safety precautions.
Best Hikes in Kern County
The southern end of the Sierra Nevadas and Sequoia National Park are within Kern County and a short drive from Bakersfield proper. Challenging hikes with stunning views are not too far away. Some of the best within Kern County include:
- Owen’s Peak – At 8,453 feet, it is the tallest mountain in Kern County. The trail is nearly 13 miles roundtrip, and there is more than 3,700 feet of elevation gain. It’s a steep trail as well, so be prepared.
- Wind Wolves Preserve Trail – This trail is just shy of eight miles round trip, and even features a waterfall. Dogs are allowed as well.
- Hart Park Trail – Replete with picnic tables, grills and boat rentals, this two mile loop trail circuits Kern River, and is perfect for an afternoon jog or leisurely stroll with your pooch.
- Piute Peak – This prominent peak is 8,440 feet, and the road to the trailhead can be rocky at points but offers beautiful scenery and the chance to see wildlife.
- Badger Gap and Little Tenant Spring Trails – This is accessible year-round, allows dogs and is a little less than 10 miles roundtrip.
- Tecuya Mountain – This peak lies on the southern end of Kern County, and is about 7,160 feet tall. At a little less than five miles round trip, it’s a short but moderately steep hike.
There are many more in Kern County, particularly near Fort Tejon State Historic Park and Sequoia National Forest. Find what suits your abilities and enjoy yourself.
Kern County Hiking Safety Tips
Given the hot temperatures of Central California and the high winds that can accompany them, it’s important to be prepared when going on a hike that will last more than a couple hours. Water and food are obvious necessities; dehydration starts as mildly as a headache, but if left untreated can manifest into confusion and disorientation. In the California sun, a lack of water can prove fatal.
If you feel dehydration coming on or notice these symptoms in someone else, stop moving and drink water until they feel better, or if no water is available, turn around and go home immediately. Other provisions such as these are recommended:
- A cell phone is important, but can lose battery. Have a trail map and/or a compass just in case.
- Extra clothing in case of weather changes.
- Keep an eye on the weather. The worst place to be during a storm is on an exposed trail or ridge.
- For longer hikes or those that cross streams, rivers and snow, an extra pair of dry socks will help you avoid blisters.
- Sunscreen. Even on cloudy or cool days, the trails of Central California often do not supply sufficient shade.
- It can’t be stressed enough; bring 1-2 liters of water to stay properly hydrated.
It’s vital to tell someone where you are going, just in case of emergency. The worst thing that could happen, on top of being lost, is no one knowing where to look for you. Some common injuries that can occur on a hike:
- Blisters – Hiking with these is more than a nuisance; it can make it impossible. Dry socks are crucial.
- Sunburn – The sun is harsh at high, dry altitudes, so sunscreen is important for minimizing the skin’s exposure to UV rays.
- Bug bites – These are particularly common if hiking in wooded areas. Bring spray if you know they’ll be present.
- Twisted ankle – Good footwear provides comfortable and even support will help prevent this, even if you encounter slippery rock or muddy ground.
- Exhaustion – This usually comes with similar symptoms as dehydration, and greatly increases the likelihood of getting lost.
A hike is a great avenue for exercise and exploration, but being properly prepared will prevent injuries, dehydration and getting lost. Take your time, know when to turn around, stay with the group and the experience that much more enjoyable.
Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2017
The people have a right to know. The job of a journalist is to report need to know information to the public, but sometimes, the means by which journalists obtain their information can fall on decidedly muddy moral grounds. This is particularly evident here in California, where paparazzi make a living disguising and hiding themselves in order to sneak pictures of celebrities.
The First Amendment provides broad protections to members of the press, but if a person feels harassed by a reporter, what is the law?
Expectation of Privacy
The general rule here for all citizens is whether you have an expectation of privacy. It’s not expected that a celebrity or politician will have the same amount of privacy as other people, yet they still have rights meant to protect what privacy they have. It is allowed to film, photograph or record what is seen and heard in public places. This idea has recently been given much scrutiny regarding the filming of police, specifically in the event of police brutality, a right which has been upheld by the courts.
The area of privacy which has become most important is online. The information we store and share online can be stolen by someone with sinister purposes, from which it could take months to recover personally and financially. As of right now, the law states that we have a reasonable expectation of privacy online, but Internet Service Providers and some politicians are looking to change that line of thinking.
Can a Reporter Be Held Liable for Harassment Claims?
Where a journalist may see surveillance, their subject may see stalking. The consensus amongst reporters is that going undercover and obtaining a job at a farm in an effort to spotlight animal abuse is fine, but using long microphones or binoculars to spy on a celebrity in an effort to obtain juicy gossip is unethical. Er go, the effect the news has on the health and safety of others must be the greater goal.
Intrusive actions such as staking out the home, following them, or recording them in private places can be labeled as harassment. A reporter can absolutely be held liable for these claims, particularly in California where two anti-surveillance laws have been passed:
- Senate Bill 606 – Passed in 2013, this makes the penalty for harassing the children of a person purely because of that person’s status much more harsh. Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry testified in favor of this bill, which makes it a misdemeanor to alarm, annoy, torment or terrorize the child. The maximum punishment for a first offense is jail for one year and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Senate Bill 856 – Passed in 2015, this bill made it illegal to operate drones on or near private property. Doing so would make that person liable for invasion of privacy, and the liable person could be sued for their actions.
Even if these activities occur in public, the reporter could still be held liable for harassment claims if their actions are deemed overzealous, intrusive, or of a stalking nature.
Bakersfield Speedway is renowned for its intimacy; spectators feel close to the action, which makes it a memorable experience, but also presents some added danger. Despite the precautions of a catch fence as well as the space between the fence and the first row of seats, an injury is still a possibility for the fans in attendance. For any large event, there are a number of safety precautions racing fans can take to ensure they have an enjoyable experience.
The Charlotte Observer reported that approximately 2,000 people are injured every year at a racetrack, and between 1990-2010, 46 people died. It’s unclear how many of those injuries stemmed from an accident on the track, but NASCAR is consistently seeking ways to improve fan safety, particularly when it relates to the catch fence.
Improvements to all racetracks in this regard have been paramount in the last 15 years, particularly due to a string of accidents in which fans were injured by race car debris. Enormous strides have been made in determining the proper angle of the walls, the height of the catch fence and the material it’s made out of which it’s made to prevent spectator injuries.
Bakersfield Speedway Safety Tips
Another thing that makes Bakersfield Speedway unique is that it’s a clay track only one-third of a mile around. The clay increases the odds of debris and dirt flying into the stands, which is just one of many things for which spectators should be prepared. Veteran attendees may know this, but some safety tips for racing fans at Bakersfield Speedway include:
- Ear plugs and safety glasses are recommended to protect against loud noise and dirt.
- Sit further back, especially with small children. It’s better to be safe than sorry and although being right up on the track may be exciting, the extremely loud noises and potential for flying debris may not be worth it.
- Stay alert – while it’s tempting to let loose at a race, it’s important to pay attention to what is going on around you. Watch for car wrecks or flying debris and cover your head in the case of a crash.
- An employee or security staff will always be nearby, report any emergencies to them as soon as possible.
- When parking your car, do not leave any valuables in plain sight and be sure to lock all doors.
- Only buy tickets from reliable vendors.
- You may bring a blanket, seat cushion and extra clothing if needed.
If you have been drinking, don’t drive. Find another way to get home. There are plenty of options for sober transportation in Bakersfield:
- Rideshare options
- Public transportation
Large crowds at racing events can also present their own challenges. If attending the race with children, be aware of their location at all times and don’t let them wander away from the group. Just in case it does happen, it’s a good idea to decide on a rendezvous point beforehand. While a concession stand or bathroom may just be a few feet away, the large crowds make it easy for a child to become disoriented or lost. Use the buddy system and make sure they are never left alone while visiting Bakersfield Speedway.
If an injury does occur at a racetrack like Bakersfield Speedway due to outside circumstances like poor security, insufficient fencing, or dangerous conditions, contact the personal injury attorneys of Rodriguez & Associates. Our skilled lawyers have experience handling a range of injury and accident cases across Kern County.