Kern County’s Premier
Personal Injury Lawyers
Posted in Personal Injury on July 23, 2018
There are plenty of circumstances that can lead to fights. If you’re involved in one, there’s a chance you may be on the receiving end of a punch, which could lead to potential health complications depending on the severity of the attack. And when that happens, you may just want to file a lawsuit to get compensation for your injuries so speak with a skilled Bakersfield personal injury lawyer to learn more.
Civil and Criminal Charges
Two potential charges can fall on aggressors following a fight: civil and criminal. Criminal charges can involve fines and imprisonment if the court determines that party is guilty of assault or battery. Assault involves an intentional attempt to harm another person, regardless of whether the harm occurred or not. Battery refers to any intentional hits the victim suffered.
Further categories of assault, abuse, and harassment can involve:
- Domestic violence, for incidents between couples, former couples, and close familial relations
- Elderly or dependent assault, for when the victim is over the age of 65 or is between the ages of 18 and 64 and is incapable of caring for him or herself due to disability
- Civil harassment, for parties who do not have a romantic or familial relationship
- Workplace violence, for cases of assault, battery, or threat of violence in the workplace
Even if the court does not deem the aggressor guilty of criminal charges, it does not mean you as the victim cannot press for civil charges. The court will handle the criminal case and your personal injury lawsuit separately.
In some cases, you may be able to sue third parties related to the incident. Premises liability and negligence in selecting employees may enable you to sue the location of your injury if an employee’s actions led to the fight.
When Can You Not Sue?
Despite it being possible to sue another party who has punched you, not all cases involve the other individual as the aggressor. If you instigated a fight and the other person retaliated in self-defense, you would have a hard time proving that the other party was responsible for your injuries. In fact, such a situation would likely take away your eligibility for a claim.
Self-defense only applies when the defense is a reasonable response to perceived or threatened harm. The aggressor must, through words or actions, make the victim believe he or she is in appropriate harm for self-defense to apply. The defense must also not exceed the perceived threat level – repeatedly hitting someone for one threatening comment would not be appropriate.
Should You Sue?
Even when you are not the aggressor in a fight and you have evidence to prove it, a lawsuit may not be worth it. Awarded damages in such cases are proportionate to the amount of physical harm and financial loss as a result as an injury. A lack of evidence of who caused your injuries in a group fight can also lead to complications in proving liability. Not having any damages related to your incident such as medical bills or lost income due to work will likely end with the dismissal of your suit.
Assault lawsuits with minimal awarded damages may also not be worth the resulting court and attorney fees. And even in cases with high damage awards, there’s a chance that the guilty party may not have the money to pay your compensation.
If another person has punched you, there’s every chance that you may be able to file a lawsuit. However, many factors contribute to the success of such a lawsuit and the resulting level of compensation. If you’re considering pursuing a lawsuit for injuries sustained in a fight, contact the attorneys of Rodriguez & Associates for a free consultation. Our lawyers can advise you on the potential success of your case and help you with the necessary steps if you decide to move forward with your claim.
Thousands of students across the state of California rely on school buses for transportation to and from school. Bus drivers must follow safety measures while operating these vehicles to ensure that students arrive at school and home without any injuries or accidents. However, driving is not the only time that students face potential harm while on the school bus.
Following the unfortunate death of one student in 2015, California passed Senate Bill 1072, also known as the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law, to increase school bus safety.
Origin of the Law
On September 11, 2015, Hoon Jun “Paul” Lee died in a school bus. It was not the result of a bus accident, but instead from overheating. After completing his rounds for the morning, the bus driver had parked the bus in the lot and left. Lee was in the bus in 90-degree weather with the windows shut. Authorities discovered him over seven hours later, dead.
Lee, a nonverbal autistic, did not receive any help with getting off the bus. The driver, Armando Abel Ramirez, failed to notice Lee was still on board, despite the boy sitting upright and being tall enough to be visible over the top of the seat. Ramirez did not conduct a proper check of the bus before departing. Lee was 19 years old.
In response to the incident, California signed the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law in early 2016.
What Does the Law Do?
The Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law is a measure to prevent future incidents of students left on school buses. It requires all old and new school buses in the state to have a child safety-alarm equipped. Other vehicles responsible for transport of students, especially those with special needs, will also require safety alarms. The alarm must meet California Highway Patrol regulations.
The alarm works whenever the driver shuts the bus down. The alarm will emit a noise until the driver presses the stop switch – which is at the back of the bus. As such, the driver will have to walk through the whole bus to turn the alarm off, checking for any children in the process.
Other vehicles that transport students do not require alarms if they meet certain conditions, such as not only transporting pupils, the presence of a responsible adult chaperone, and drivers filling out forms after each student-based trip that confirms that no children are still on the vehicle.
The bill also adds a provision that all school bus drivers must receive additional child-safety check training when renewing their bus driver safety certificates. Like their certificates, this additional training must happen every year.
Through the combination of alarm systems and further safety training, California hopes to better equip school bus drivers with the skills necessary to keep students safe, even after the bus has pulled off the road.
When Does the Law Go into Effect?
The original version of the Paul Lee School Bus Safety law was set to go into effect during the 2018-2019 school year. By that time, all school buses were to have CHA-approved children safety alarms. However, the statewide need for new alarm systems posed challenges for schools due to the limited number of producers and installers for such systems. The late approval of the exact alarm requirements also caused delays for schools implementing the new protocol.
Due to the complications, California made steps to pass Senate Bill 1269, which would increase the deadline for installation of child safety alarms until the 2019-2020 school year. The current version of the bill requires vehicles responsible for special needs students to have proper alarm systems by the 2018-2019 school year, while other vehicles have six additional months to meet the policy requirements.
Food poisoning is extremely uncomfortable for anyone who has experienced it. If you get food poisoning after going out to eat, you may determine that the restaurant was responsible for your illness. When this is the case, you may be wondering if it’s possible to sue the restaurant for food poisoning.
Is a Lawsuit Possible?
When injury and illness result from another party’s actions, California law allows for victims to pursue rightful compensation from those responsible for their suffering. This means that if the restaurant’s food truly was responsible for your illness, then you may have grounds to file a claim.
Potential claims for food poisoning can include:
- Product liability. In product liability claims, the restaurant is responsible for providing you with a proper product, which would be food free of bacteria or other illness-causing viruses.
- Personal injury. These cases work on a basis of negligence – the restaurant’s negligent actions, such as serving spoiled food or not preparing items correctly, led to your illness.
When these circumstances occur, you may be eligible for compensation. However, pursuing a lawsuit over food poisoning may not always be the most worthwhile move.
Chances of Success
Personal injury cases and similar lawsuits require that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was responsible for their injuries, and the same rules apply to cases of food poisoning. While it may be easy for you to think your meal at the restaurant may have led to your illness, proving this in a court of law can be difficult.
The most critical piece of evidence – your meal – may already be gone. Even if you have leftovers, proving that you didn’t tamper with the food after taking it home can also be difficult. A restaurant may claim that you did not properly refrigerate your leftovers, which then led to your illness. There is also the chance your illness arose due to other circumstances besides your meal.
Proving that your meal caused your food poisoning can involve testing samples of your food and stool for matching bacteria. It is also easier to prove that a food resulted in sickness if several people who ate it fell similarly ill, such as a class action lawsuit due to mass food contamination. If you can confirm these factors, you will have a chance of a successful lawsuit, but it is not always a guarantee.
The Value of a Food Poisoning Case
Even when you have solid proof that the restaurant’s food caused your illness, going to court may not be a worthwhile endeavor. Even though you have suffered through food poisoning, the lack of intense medical bills may not amount to much in terms of damages. The time and cost of court may not be worth the potential payout.
However, situations that have incurred massive damages can result in larger compensation. For example, if your illness caused you to miss work for an extended time resulting in lost wages, you may have a stronger case. Food poisoning that involves more deadly bacteria, such as E. coli or salmonella often requires hospitalization, which results in higher financial damages than cases where you simply needed to stay at home and rest to recover. Class action lawsuits that involve damages to many people also have a higher potential payout.
Determining the exact value of your food poisoning case can be tricky. If you are uncertain if your case is worthy of a claim, schedule a free consultation with an attorney in your area. An experienced Bakersfield personal injury attorney can help you determine if you have solid proof of liability and determine your potential compensation. If you wish to file a claim, you will need an attorney to represent you fully in court.
Posted in Community Involvement on July 2, 2018
After finishing law school in San Diego eighteen months ago, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was ready to begin the journey of a trial lawyer. I’ve grown up around lawyers, spent a lot of time with them, and one thing they always told me is that law school is a great learning experience but it doesn’t exactly prepare you for the realities of practicing law. This, to me, seemed like one of the great ironies of being a lawyer and I was skeptical considering how many hours I spent reading, writing, and arguing like a lawyer during my legal education. However, as I’ve already learned in my first year of practice, the theory holds water. Here are three things they don’t teach you in law school:
1. It’s okay to be yourself.
Law schools indoctrinate students with legal theory and case law. There is some discussion about alternatives, but in most cases, applying the law to the facts is clear cut, on one side of the line or the other. There is little room for human experience or feelings.
Real life, however, is not so black and white, and more often than not, real cases often come in shades of grey. Just as in life, so too, does the human factor play into so many cases. Impressions matter. Cooperation matters. Character matters. Law school doesn’t teach you about the advantages in law practice of embracing who you are, where you came from, and what you are passionate about.
In nearly every interaction as a trial lawyer, rapport plays a significant role. When talking to a new client about a case, for example, sharing something about yourself early on lowers the resistance most clients have in sharing their story and asking for help. When going over a witness’ background in deposition, asking them about their passions, and when was the first time they knew they wanted to be in the position they are now, likewise lowers resistance and makes information gathering that much easier. Curating that connection between you and their passions or ambitions creates a rapport that may leave the defending lawyer muttering to themselves, “This lawyer knows my witness better than me.” Either way, you are far more likely to get the information you need if you embrace this dynamic early on in a deposition.
When meeting and conferring with opposing counsel, finding something meaningful in common diffuses tension and promotes cooperation. I recently asked an older opposing counsel for advice on something unrelated to our case as we were waiting for a deponent to show up to a deposition. In response to my question, this lawyer turned in his chair, sat up, and was glad to share his experiences with me. (Turns out he used to be a plaintiff’s attorney!) Just that simple exchange has made conflict resolution that much easier over the remainder of the case.
In front of a judge, too, credibility is of utmost importance. One easy way to establish credibility is to simply channel what you know to be true about yourself. This authenticity about yourself translates to an impression that you are being authentic about your case, your client, or whatever issue is before the bench on a given day. When you know your opponent has made a good point, say it! Then counter with your own reasoning.
In law school, I was taught that being an advocate necessarily means being an adversary at almost every turn. But this does not reflect the reality of law practice. Being a lawyer is about picking your battles and, as they say in the South, “A little honey goes a long way.”
Don’t be afraid to be yourself, you might be surprised by the results.
2. Some lawyers don’t follow the rules.
As law students, we are taught that rules matter. The Code of Civil Procedure, the jury instructions, the Evidence Code—all of it adds up to rules that are sacred to every lawyer, or so I thought. When I got out into practice, however, I was astonished to find so many lawyers bending or breaking the rules. It is true that such lawyers might be the exception that proves the rule, but I’ve seen it so often in my first year of practice that I’ve already had to adapt my approach. For example, large corporations defend themselves by limiting access to information through delay, deflecting responsibility, blaming others, and, occasionally, outright obstruction. The Code of Civil Procedure exists for a reason (among others): to hold lawyers accountable for obstructionist lawyering!
In basic discovery alone, the excuses are endless: “this will take a lot of time;” “we have no clue where the car is;” “I’ll have to go to my boss with this and who knows how long he’ll take;” “this is not remotely relevant;” etcetera, etcetera. Even casual “in the spirit of cooperation” emails with “responding” documents fly in the face of the Code and add more to the procedural plate of the plaintiff’s lawyer.
Holding a lawyer to his word shouldn’t be as difficult as it is and lip service alone is all too common. Meet and confer letters often don’t bear fruit. It takes the judge reminding the lawyer of his professional duties (by means of granting motions to compel, for example) to move the needle.
Seeing this in action, I’ve adapted my practice to be more proactive about heading these kinds of defense tactics off from the start. I’ve also accepted that patience, above all else, might just be the plaintiff lawyer’s greatest virtue.
3. Leverage what you don’t know.
There’s an old proverb that goes something like this: “A wise man never knows all; only a fool knows everything.” In law school, your success is measured based on what you know. How much law can you cram into your head before an exam only to word-vomit back on the page and move on? This is often the exercise in law school.
In law practice, by contrast, I’ve learned how important it is to be honest with yourself about what you don’t know. These gaps in the story are often the most crucial in terms of discovery. In order to uncover them, however, it is important to be brutally honest with yourself about what it is you do and do not know. Early on in a case, lawyers must wear the hat of detective. This is the essence of good discovery. And I have to remind myself of something that I learned from Sherlock Holmes, the greatest detective of all time: Often the loudest dog is the one that’s not barking.
Where are the holes in my case? Which parts of the story need developing? What is odd or missing? These are the questions that matter. Sure, good lawyers know a lot about the law. But great lawyers, I’ve found, are keen on gaps in their cases.
Being a lawyer is a lifelong journey. We’re always honing our craft. Graduating from law school, while a necessary hurtle, is only the beginning.
The moments following a car accident can be chaotic, but the actions you take are essential in protecting your car insurance claim. First, call emergency medical services to care for any passengers or other drivers who sustained injuries. Next, start collecting information for your claim with Mercury Insurance.
Gather Information at the Scene
After you call emergency medical services (if needed), you can begin the process of filing your insurance claim. Mercury Insurance offers the option of filing a claim by phone, and the company requests that you collect as much of the following information as possible:
- The date, location, and time of the accident
- The number of the police report, name of department responding (i.e. the sheriff’s office or city police department)
- Description of the damage to all vehicles, with photos, if possible
- A description of how the accident occurred
- The makes, models, and years of all vehicles involved in the accident
- Insurance policy numbers of all motorists involved in the accident
- Names, license plate numbers, and driver’s license numbers of all drivers in the accident
- Owner of the vehicles involved, if different from the driver
- Identifiable information such as name, date of birth, and address
The more information you have, the easier it will be to follow the claims process. If the accident already occurred and you neglected to collect this information, don’t stress. You can fill in the details as you file a claim with the insurance company.
While at the accident scene, never admit fault – even if you think it was yours. Be polite to other drivers and passengers at the scene, but never apologize or insinuate that you were responsible for the injuries.
Know the Extent of Your Coverage
California law sets certain minimum requirements for all policyholders within the state. However, your coverage may exceed the minimum. For example, you may have rental reimbursement coverage, which will provide a rental car for transportation while your vehicle is in the shop. Read the terms of your policy to learn more about coverage limits before renting a car.
Most insurance policies also require a deductible before your insurance company will kick in to pay for repairs. The amount of your deductible may range from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the terms of your policy. You must meet your deductible before your insurance company will compensate for any damages. If, for example, you incurred $1,500 in damages in collision following an accident and your deductible is $500, insurance will likely offer to pay $1,000.
Observe All Requests for Documentation and Follow Deadlines
Mercury Insurance, like many other insurance companies, often requires additional documentation to investigate and complete the claims process. Observing all these instructions is essential to completing your claim. If you neglect to provide requested documentation within a set deadline, it could lead to a denial of coverage – even if you only miss it by a day or two.
In certain situations, however, it may be beneficial to wait instead of providing documentation right away. A common example is a request for release of medical records. A claims adjuster might ask you to sign a release to view your medical records to evaluate a claim, but it’s best to wait until your health care provider records the full extent of your injuries before consenting.
In car accidents involving extensive property damage or injury, consider hiring a Bakersfield car accident lawyer to help you with the claims process. He or she will serve as your advocate and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to attain fair compensation for the full value of your car accident claim.
Were you recently in a car accident in Bakersfield? If so, you likely took steps to protect your passengers and other injured people at the scene. You might even have required some medical treatment yourself. Now that everyone is out of danger, it’s time to contact your insurance company and learn more about filing a claim. Here’s what to do if you have State Farm as your insurance carrier.
Know When to File a Claim
When is the best time to file a claim? The best answer is as soon as you’re able. Your insurance company should be one of the first calls you make, aside from calling emergency medical services in the event of an injury-causing accident. Your insurance agent will guide you through the claims process that’s to follow, but in the meantime, have the following information handy when you call your agent the first time:
- Your policy number
- Your identifiable information (i.e. name and date of birth)
- Your license plate number and driver’s license number
If you have it available, it also helps to have the following information to aid the claims process:
- Descriptions of the vehicles involved in the accident (year, make, and model)
- Insurance companies and policy numbers of other drivers involved
- Names and numbers of any eyewitnesses to the accident
- The responding officer’s name and badge number
Be Familiar with Your Coverage
Remember that insurance policies can vary greatly, depending on how much you pay for your premiums each month. California law requires certain insurance minimums, but you may have more optional coverages on your policy. A few factors, including optional coverages, may affect your claims process:
- Do you have rental reimbursement coverage? If your vehicle sustained significant damage, it might take time to make repairs. For this reason, many people elect rental reimbursement coverage, which provides transportation while the car is in the shop. Before you rent a vehicle, check the terms of your policy for coverage limits and other pertinent information.
- What is your deductible? Depending on the terms of your policy, you have a deductible to meet before the insurance company will pay for damages. If your deductible is $500 and you incur $2,000 in damages, for example, your insurance company will offer to cover $1,500.
Know How to File Your Claim
State Farm provides several options for filing a car accident claim: phone, online, and the State Farm app. With the app, you can begin to file the claim directly at the accident scene and type in essential information, such as the other driver’s policy number, while it’s still fresh in your mind. You can always fill in more details as you go along. The State Farm app also allows you to track the progress of your claim, upload documentation, and learn answers to common questions regarding insurance claims.
When filing your claim and additional documentation, keep deadlines in mind. The insurance company will likely advise you of certain time limits for submitting supporting evidence, such as medical records and repair bills. It’s important to follow these deadlines carefully, as failing to submit documentation in time could lead to a denial of coverage.
Know the Basic Dos and Don’ts
Finally, be familiar with the basic dos and don’ts of talking to insurance companies:
- Do not sign a medical release too early. It’s essential to allow your claims adjuster access to your records by the deadline, but you should wait until a provider makes note of the full extent of your injuries before signing any releases.
- Don’t sign any documentation from an insurance company or agree to recorded statements unless you have the approval of a Bakersfield car accident lawyer.
Knowing how to navigate your State Farm claim can bring a speedier resolution to your claim. Following these tips will help you handle your car accident claim with State Farm like a pro.
The hours, even days following a car accident can be full of confusing procedures. However, it’s important to follow the terms of your insurance carefully to protect the health of your car accident claim. If you have Allstate insurance, you should follow these steps:
Call the Insurance Company Right Away
After a car accident, you’ll take a few key steps such as making sure everyone is okay, calling emergency services, and receiving medical care. After you finish taking care of everyone’s medical needs, it’s time to call your insurance company.
When you call Allstate to file a claim, your agent will ask you to supply key information and documents related to your accident. You need to have the following information handy:
- Your policy number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate and title information
- Brief description of what happened
Know What Your Insurance Covers
Insurance law can be complicated, but it’s essential to have a working knowledge of how your coverage works. The following elements may affect your car insurance claim and the way you obtain reimbursement for your accident.
- The amount of your deductible. When you signed up for your auto insurance policy, you followed certain rules regarding your deductibles for coverage, such as comprehensive and collision. Know how much your deductible is, as this is the amount you will have to pay out of your own pocket before your insurance will begin to kick in. For example, if you incurred $1,500 in property damage and have a $500 deductible for collision, your insurance will ultimately pay $1,000 toward your repairs.
- Do you have optional coverages? Depending on the terms of your insurance policy, you may also have convenient coverage such as rental reimbursement services. This service provides a rental car while your vehicle is in the shop, so you can get from place to place, but read the terms carefully. In some cases, you may need to rent from a certain facility or stick within your coverage limits (for example, $40 a day).
Ask About Time Limits
When calling your insurance company, know what time limits apply. If you fail to provide documentation within the specified timeframe, your insurance company could deny coverage on a claim. Read the terms of your policy carefully and take notes during your conversation with an agent, so you know exactly what to expect following an accident.
Track Your Claim
Allstate gives you the option of filing a claim by phone or online. Once you complete the process, you will receive a claim number. You can use it to track the progress of your claim, as well as to identify any missing documentation that the insurance company might require.
Know How to Talk to Claims Adjusters
Once you file a claim, an adjuster will likely investigate the accident and evaluate the damages. These interactions could affect the amount of your settlement. Though it’s important to provide documentation to the insurance company to aid the claims process, offering too much information – or too little – could affect your payout. For example, a claims adjuster might request a medical release to ascertain the extent of your injuries following an accident. Wait until the full extent of your injuries manifests before signing any medical releases. This will better illustrate the damages you incurred.
When filing a claim following a serious or injury-causing accident, having the guidance of a Bakersfield car accident attorney can be helpful. He or she can help you file a claim, guide you through interactions with claims adjusters, and help ensure that Allstate insurance compensates you for the full extent of your injuries and property damage.
Many Californians, particularly in urban areas, choose to walk or ride their bikes in lieu of driving to their destination. Commuting by foot or bike can save money, provide convenience, and save time on the hassle of heavy traffic. However, some pedestrian conduct raises important questions about liability following an accident. Do pedestrians always have the right-of-way in California? Who will be liable for injuries a pedestrian sustains in an accident? Here’s everything you need to know but if you have additional questions, reach out to a skilled Bakersfield pedestrian accident lawyer.
When a Pedestrian Has the Right-Of-Way
You may have heard that the pedestrian always has the right-of-way. This statement, however, is exactly that: a saying, not a matter of law. In reality, the law is more complex than that.
In the most obvious cases, the pedestrian does have the right-of-way. This applies, for example, when a pedestrian is crossing at a crosswalk at a red light. One of the most common kinds of pedestrian injury – for which a driver is at fault – is when a driver turns right or left into a pedestrian who has the right-of-way. Here, liability for the accident is clear: a motorist will be responsible for the injuries that the pedestrian incurs since he or she was crossing at a crosswalk with a stop sign or traffic signal.
What about less obvious circumstances? What happens when a pedestrian sustains an injury while crossing at an unmarked crosswalk? Or while walking in the middle of the street? This is where the law becomes less clear.
California Laws Regarding Pedestrians
The California Vehicle Code sets basic rules for pedestrians and drivers who navigate around them. The law states a few things:
- The driver must yield to any pedestrian within a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
- The driver must also use reasonable care and diligence to prevent pedestrian accidents and safeguard anyone who walks or rides their bike around them.
These laws have a few implications following a pedestrian accident. Here are some examples:
- A motorist may be liable for a pedestrian accident that occurs on the roadway, even if it’s not a crosswalk. For example, a motorist will likely be liable for striking and injuring a biker who is riding on the shoulder, since he or she has an obligation to prevent an accident. If the driver was speeding or distracted, he or she will likely be responsible for the cyclist’s injuries, even if not on a crosswalk.
- A motorist must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks that are not at intersections. Ultimately, if a pedestrian uses a marked or unmarked crosswalk, he or she has the right-of-way.
On the other hand, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way. According to the California Vehicle Code, pedestrians cannot leave a place of safety, such as a sidewalk, to run into the path of a moving vehicle such that it constitutes an “immediate hazard.” But what does this mean, exactly?
- Pedestrians may be liable for their own injuries if they jaywalk. Running out into the street without a crosswalk is against the law, and a driver may not be civilly responsible for any damages he or she causes.
- Pedestrians must use extra caution at late night crossings. They must remain as visible as possible and keep to crosswalks. A pedestrian should never assume right-of-way at night and allow plenty of time to cross.
Both pedestrians and motorists have certain rights and responsibilities on the roadways. Motorists have a high duty of care to pedestrians and must take steps to reasonably assure their safety. At the same time, pedestrians must also follow all traffic laws, avoid jaywalking, and stick to crossing at crosswalks.
We would all like to think that our children always behave like perfect angels. On the other hand, we know that our kids act out on occasion. Did you know that you could be civilly liable for any damage your minor child causes? Learn about parental responsibility laws and how the state of California handles damage caused by minors.
Like many other states, California has a number of parental responsibility laws on the books that make parents liable for any damages that result from their minor’s actions. We can break these laws down into two separate categories:
First, parents may be responsible for any “willful misconduct” of a minor leading to property damage or injury. Under California Civil Code 1714.1, any act of misconduct by a minor that leads to injury, death, or property damage will be the financial and civil responsibility of the parent or legal guardian. A custodial parent or guardian may be jointly liable with the minor for $25,000 per wrongful act. This is the latest estimate, though the dollar amount may change to reflect inflation, cost of living, and other elements.
The $25,000 per wrongful act can apply to medical bills and other economic damages, but do not apply to intangible losses such as pain and suffering. The $25,000 dollar rule also applies to property damage such as graffiti or defacement of public property.
Keep in mind that these rules only apply to a minor’s “willful misconduct.” In other words, a parent might be civilly liable if his or her child starts a fight and breaks another child’s arm. On the other hand, parents will likely not be liable if their student-athlete breaks another’s arm while completing a legal tackle on the football field.
Parental Liability and Minor Driving Rules
The other main parental responsibility law pertains to a minor’s use of a motor vehicle. According to the California Vehicle Code, a parent may be civilly liable for any damages his or her child incurs while driving a motor vehicle. California law requires that a parent or legal guardian sign a driver’s license application for anyone under the age of 18, so parents can be – and likely will be – liable for any damages from a car accident in which their minor is at fault.
The California Vehicle Code also states that a parent can be potentially liable for any foreseeable damages when they give a minor implied or express consent to drive a vehicle. These statutes vary from California’s willful misconduct laws in a couple of different ways:
- The minor’s intent does not apply. With the “willful conduct” parental responsibility law, the parents will only be liable if a minor’s intentional conduct leads to injury of property damage. In a car accident, however, a parent will be liable for any injuries a minor causes, even if it was “just an accident.”
- Damage caps do not apply. With the “willful conduct” statute, a parent may only be liable for economic damages up to $25,000 per wrongful act. In a car accident, a parent may be responsible for any damages stemming from the accident – including not only economic damages, but intangible losses, as well.
Parents in California have a responsibility to keep their children reasonably safe, but also to protect property and people from their child’s behavior. If a minor child causes property damage, injury, or death – whether through a car accident or their own willful actions – parents can be civilly liable for the damages that result. To reduce your risk of liability, talk to your child about safe driving practices and tackle any potentially problematic behaviors as they arise.
Posted in Personal Injury on May 7, 2018
Care providers – whether for our children, elders, or disabled loved ones – must use reasonable care with regard to their supervision. If they fail to do so and your loved one suffers harm as a result, you may be able to file a claim on the grounds of negligent supervision. Learn what it is, how it pertains to personal injury, and when to contact a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer for further guidance.
Negligent Supervision of Children
The negligent supervision of children may occur in a variety of settings. The rules regarding supervision apply to daycares, schools, recreational sporting leagues, churches, day camps, and more. The following individuals and entities may be responsible for failing to provide adequate supervision of a child:
- Supervisory faculty and staff, such as coaches
- Daycare providers and babysitters
- Camp counselors
- Foster parents
- Youth group leaders
- Other parents
There are two main types of negligent supervision: first, that the caregiver failed to monitor a child, leading to injury. Secondly, provider inattention resulting in injury can provide the basis for a negligent supervision claim. These two seem similar, but there are subtle differences. A failure to provide adequate supervision of a child, for example, may stem from an inappropriate ratio of caregivers to children, or even a failure to provide adequate fencing around the facility itself.
Caregiver inattention, on the other hand, applies when a facility may have proper supervision, but a caregiver simply does not monitor the children. Examples of caregiver inattention may include allowing a child to ingest dangerous chemicals, parents allowing teens to drink alcohol at a supervised party, or a child playing with matches and starting a fire.
Negligent Supervision of the Disabled and Elderly
Caregivers of our disabled and elderly loved ones can similarly be liable for any injuries they suffer under the caregiver’s watch. Like the negligent supervision of children, there are two main forms of these claims: caregiver inattention and failure to supervise. Some common examples affecting this population include:
- Development of infection or bedsores resulting from lack of basic care or hygiene. When negligent supervision causes actual physical harm to a patient, it rises to the level of physical abuse.
- Failing to prevent vulnerable patients from injuries outside the premises, such as failing to prevent someone with dementia from wandering off the property.
- Failure to prevent falls and associated injuries.
- Ignoring signs of abuse of a patient, whether physical, emotional, sexual, or financial.
- Failing to follow special dietary restrictions leading to injury.
Elements of a Negligent Supervision Case
Wondering if you have a case for a negligent supervision claim? Each claim requires the following elements:
- That the party owes you a duty of care. This applies when you arrange supervision for pay, but even your child’s friend’s parents owe a duty of care to your family and have a responsibility to keep them safe.
- That party violated a duty of care, or committed negligence. We outlined some examples of negligence above, but others apply.
- The party’s negligence led to your loved one’s injuries.
- You suffered harm as a result. Examples of harm include medical bills, any work you had to miss to care for your loved one, and any pain and suffering your loved one experienced.
If you believe that you have a claim for negligent supervision based on the criteria and examples outlined above, the next step is to contact an attorney. Negligent caregivers can be civilly liable for any damages they cause to your family, so you can file a claim to compensate for all your expenses. A negligent supervision attorney can help identify negligent supervision and provide guidance throughout the claims process.