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What Is Gap Insurance and What Does It Cover?

Posted in car accidents on November 13, 2018

Buying a new vehicle entails much more than paying a large down payment and arranging financing options. New vehicles require registration and insurance, and generally cost more to insure than older models. Vehicle owners need to carefully shop for auto insurance that not only meets their state’s requirements for coverage minimums but also provides the policyholder with a good balance of coverage at an affordable premium.

Most vehicle owners know that as soon as a person purchases a vehicle and drives it off the dealership lot, the vehicle starts losing value. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that most vehicles lose about 20% of their initial value within the first year of ownership. Despite this, most standard vehicle insurance policies only cover the depreciated value of an insured vehicle. This means if a policyholder has an accident, the insurance coverage will refer to the value of the vehicle at the time of the accident, not when the owner bought it. To learn more, speak with a car accident lawyer in Bakersfield.

Gap Insurance Offers Peace of Mind

When a driver purchases or leases a new vehicle with only a small deposit, he or she finances the vehicle and makes monthly payments to pay it off in full over time. The vehicle continues to depreciate in value as the owner makes these payments over a few years. Gap insurance can help a new car owner feel more at ease and soften the financial blow after an accident. When an accident happens involving a vehicle the driver hasn’t fully paid off, gap insurance covers the difference between the current market value of the vehicle that the insurance policy will cover and the amount the driver still owes on the vehicle.

For example, John buys a new car for $20,000. One year later the market value of the vehicle has dropped to $13,000, but John has only paid $3,000 off the full price, owing a remaining $17,000 on the vehicle. If John gets into an accident with gap insurance coverage, the gap coverage will apply to the $4,000 difference between what John still owed on the vehicle and the current market value of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

When to Consider Gap Insurance

New drivers or drivers purchasing a second or third vehicle generally have many options when it comes to insurance coverage. A few indicators that a driver should consider gap insurance coverage with an auto insurance policy include:

  • Down payment amount. If the driver paid only 20% or less of the vehicle’s value as a down payment, it is a very good idea for the driver to purchase gap insurance for at least the first few years of owning the vehicle.
  • If the buyer finances the vehicle for more than 60 months, it will take quite a while to pay off the remaining balance. The vehicle will likely depreciate significantly during this time, so gap insurance can be very helpful for an accident in the first few years.
  • When a driver leases a vehicle, he or she doesn’t technically own the vehicle, so the dealer or seller will need some guarantee that the driver will take good care of the vehicle. Gap insurance is usually a requirement for leasing a vehicle.
  • Rapid devaluation. Some vehicles lose their value more quickly than others. Well-built vehicles in high demand typically retain their value longer than models discovered to have defects or common issues.
  • Negative equity. Some drivers will roll the negative equity leftover from a previous car loan into a new loan. This could increase the effective cost of the vehicle beyond its actual value, but the vehicle will still depreciate over time. Gap insurance offsets the financial risk of an accident significantly in such cases.

Some dealerships and car sellers will offer gap insurance for a new vehicle purchase or lease, but many private insurance carriers also over gap coverage. This type of coverage may only cost about $20, added onto the policyholder’s existing policy, but every insurance carrier offers different rates and package options.

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Posted in Brain Injuries,Personal Injury on October 16, 2018

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when a force causes the brain to move inside the skull cavity, striking the insides of the skull. The brain essentially floats within the skull, and any traumatic impact or blow to the head can cause the brain to shift violently within this fluid. After the brain strikes the inside of the skull, the victim experiences a concussion, and the symptoms vary greatly from person to person.

A concussion may result in a brief period of unconsciousness, disorientation, and confusion. Other symptoms can include sensitivity to noise and light, headache, nausea, sensory confusion, and a host of other symptoms. The immediate effects of a concussion may only appear to last a few hours to a few days, but one of the most troubling aspects of concussions is their tendency to cause long-term problems, including post-concussion syndrome. In the event you or somebody you love sustained head injuries caused by the negligence of another party, speak with a Bakersfield brain injury attorney as soon as possible.

What Are the Symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome?

An individual who experiences a concussion will be more susceptible to concussions in the future, and he or she may also develop post-concussion syndrome. The symptoms of this condition differ for every individual, so a physician may diagnose a patient as having post-concussion syndrome in one of many ways. Some of the most common symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Lapses in memory and/or diminished short-term memory
  • Fatigue, apathy, and symptoms of depression
  • Noticeable personality changes

A physician may look for three or more of these symptoms to diagnose a patient with post-concussion syndrome, and additional screenings such as CT scans and MRIs may help accurately diagnose a patient.

Prognosis for Post-Concussion Syndrome

Post-concussion syndrome has physical and psychological effects, making it difficult to treat in some patients. Rest is generally the most recommended treatment for a concussion, but this may exacerbate the psychological symptoms of post-concussion syndrome like depression, anxiety, and restlessness. Most patients who experience post-concussion syndrome make full recoveries within three months, but some cases can last a year or longer.

No one-size-fits-all approach to treating post-concussion syndrome is available, as the symptoms differ for every person who experiences it. Physicians must develop individualized treatment plans to address the physical and psychological symptoms of post-concussion syndrome for the best recovery experience.

Individuals who experience concussions and the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome should take care to prevent subsequent concussions in the future. Individuals who experience a second or third concussion generally report more severe symptoms, and repeat concussions are more likely to cause long-term damage.

Risk Factors for Concussions

Two of the most common causes of concussions in the United States are motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries. Motor vehicle accidents continue to be one of the leading causes of accidental injury and death in the U.S., and many people who survive serious car accidents sustain concussions. Many contact sports are prevalent in American life as well.

Football, hockey, basketball, soccer, and many other sports carry risks of causing concussions from collisions with other players, falls to the ground, blows to the head from equipment, and many other potential hazards. Athletes, especially younger athletes still in school, should take care to follow their sports’ safety regulations and wear appropriate equipment to prevent concussions.

While you can never predict the actions of other drivers on the road, you can use good judgment to do your part to prevent motor vehicle accidents and limit your risk of injury if an accident happens. Always wear a seatbelt while driving or riding as a passenger and drive defensively. Refrain from speeding and aggressive driving and use extra caution in high-risk areas like construction zones, heavy merging areas, and busy city streets. It’s possible to sustain a concussion from even a mild fender-bender, so safe driving is a great way to prevent these injuries

How Long Do You Have to Sue a Doctor?

Posted in Medical Malpractice,Personal Injury on October 9, 2018

Whenever you believe you have grounds to take legal action against another party for civil damages, you must first ensure you meet the statute of limitations for your claim. A statute of limitations is essentially a time limit for filing legal claims. Different statutes exist for different types of claims, and the laws concerning these statutes vary from state to state.

A medical malpractice claim is a complex civil action that typically requires a claim review from a medical board before it can proceed, and symptoms from some medical conditions or injuries may not immediately appear. If you are unsure whether your claim will meet the required statute of limitations for your situation, your Bakersfield medical malpractice lawyer should be able to help you determine when your statute of limitations started.

How Does the Statute of Limitations Work?

The justice system recognizes that injured people cannot always take legal action immediately following an injury. In some cases, an acquired injury or illness may not manifest any noticeable symptoms for a long time, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact date a medical condition appeared. However, the justice system also recognizes the need for a system that discourages frivolous or outdated claims that use valuable time and resources. Therefore, a claimant who wishes to take legal action against a medical professional must do so within the appropriate statute of limitations for his or her state. In California, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is three years on the date of harm or one year from the date of discovery of harm.

Discovery Rule for Medical Malpractice Claims

The earliest date that a statute of limitations can begin for an injury claim is the date that harm occurred. This applies when the injury or illness is immediately noticeable, or the cause of the injury is immediately apparent. Several things may “toll” or delay the statute of limitations. The Discovery rule applies to cases involving symptoms that develop over time, or medical conditions that do not immediately display the full scope of harm.

Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations may begin on the “date of discovery,” or the date the symptoms of harm became visible or noticeable. The court may also apply this statute to the date that a plaintiff should have noticed or discovered the harm with reasonable diligence. For example, if a person experienced stomach pain after a surgical procedure but did not notify anyone or see a doctor for several weeks, the statute would likely begin on the date his or her symptoms appeared and not the date of the diagnosis or the date of the surgery.

It’s important to remember that many states place a statute of repose on medical malpractice claims. These statutes function as hard time limits for taking legal action. For example, a state may have a 10-year statute of repose for medical malpractice claims. This means that a plaintiff must discover the harm from medical negligence and take legal action within 10 years of the date of injury, not the date of discovery. In California, the only exception to the three-year statute is for cases involving foreign objects left in a patient’s body during surgery. These cases must still meet the one-year statute under the discovery rule, but claimants may take legal action many years after the normal three-year statute has passed.

A medical malpractice lawsuit is a very complex legal matter that requires meeting various legal deadlines and filing requirements, so time is a critical factor for anyone who wishes to pursue a medical malpractice claim. A Bakersfield personal injury attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases can help you determine whether your claim meets the applicable statute of limitations for your situation.

How to File a Complaint Against a Doctor in California

Posted in California,Medical Malpractice on October 9, 2018

When another person causes an injury or other damages, you can pursue a personal injury claim to recover your losses. However, if the person who injured you was a doctor administering medical treatment, it’s first vital to determine whether medical malpractice occurred. A medical malpractice lawsuit will follow a similar framework to a personal injury lawsuit with a few notable exceptions. In California, a medical malpractice claim will need to pass through the Medical Board of California before you can proceed with your lawsuit.

Starting Your Medical Malpractice Claim

It’s important to remember that medicine is an inherently uncertain field. New treatments show promise for a variety of conditions, and medical science has advanced tremendously in recent years. Individual reactions to medical conditions and diseases can differ greatly as well. A margin of error always exists in medicine, and even an accomplished, skilled, and competent medical professional can make an honest mistake.

The Medical Board of California reviews medical malpractice claims to determine whether the claimant has grounds for a lawsuit. Essentially, the medical board reviews the details of the claim to determine if the defendant in the claim failed to meet the acceptable standard of care for the patient’s situation. If the board finds that the plaintiff has grounds for a medical malpractice claim, it may investigate and press charges, if necessary. Approval from the medical board is one of the most important requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim in California.

Standard of Care

The medical community reaches consensus for known medical conditions to decide the best methods for treating those conditions. New treatments, medications, and therapies require thorough testing before the medical community can rely on them on a regular basis. The “standard of care” is the level of treatment the medical community recommends for a condition. If a physician fails to meet this standard of care or deviates from the standard of care without justification and harms the patient, the physician commits medical malpractice.

It’s important to note that medical negligence does not necessarily equate to medical malpractice. Medical negligence describes a deviation from the standard of care, while medical malpractice describes a deviation resulting in patient harm. It’s possible for a defendant to have committed medical negligence without committing medical malpractice. If the patient did not suffer any harm from the defendant’s negligence, there is no claim.

The Medical Board of California also investigates claims pertaining to sexual misconduct, the administration of medical treatment under the influence of drugs or alcohol, substandard medical care, improper prescription practices, unprofessional conduct, and office practice complaints. It’s possible for a medical malpractice claim to touch on many of these issues, so the Medical Board’s investigation will be critical to a subsequent lawsuit.

The Claim Process

Once the Medical Board of California receives your complaint and determines that the claim falls within its jurisdiction, it will mail you an acknowledgment of receipt of your claim. A medical board analyst may contact you to request documentation related to your claim or to release some of your medical records. Once the board has your complaint and the necessary documentation, a medical consultant will review the complaint to determine whether the claim has grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

No one can predict how long the claims process will take. Each case has many unique factors that may complicate the process. The board’s responsibility is to investigate any claims of medical professionals violating the standard of care for their patients and pursuing administrative action against those professionals if necessary. Once you know that the defendant in your claim violated the standard of care in your treatment, an experienced Bakersfield medical malpractice lawyer can help you build your case and take your next steps toward recovery.

Can I Sue a Doctor for Prescribing Wrong Medication?

Posted in Medical Malpractice,Personal Injury on September 27, 2018

Medications can be powerful tools to help treat medical conditions, but improper usage can also lead to further complications – especially with prescription drugs. When improper medicines, dosages, or even combinations of medications come into play, a patient may suffer a further decline in health, or even a wrongful death. If the fault rests with the prescribing doctor, is it possible to sue? Read on to learn more or consider speaking with a Bakersfield medical malpractice attorney.

Prescription Errors as Medical Malpractice

Prescription errors can be a form of medical malpractice, in which a healthcare professional’s negligence leads to harm or damages to a patient. As a type of personal injury case, a medical malpractice claim consists of three major factors:

  • The doctor had a duty of care to the patient
  • The doctor breached that duty of care
  • The breach caused the plaintiff harm

In terms of prescription errors, the doctor has a duty of care to provide you with reasonable treatment. Prescribing the wrong medication (which can have severe consequences) is the breach of that duty, and any resulting harm that resulted from that prescription error may be eligible for compensation.

The complication that can arise from these cases is proving the duty of care and the breach. Often, the plaintiff will accomplish this by bringing in an expert witness that can testify and establish a reasonable standard of care, which serves as a comparison point for the doctor’s actions. In many cases, a doctor may be at fault if he or she:

  • Prescribes an incorrect medicine
  • Prescribes an incorrect dosage
  • Prescribes a medication that has known negative side effects with a patient’s other medications
  • Prescribes a medication that triggers a patient’s known allergies
  • Prescribes a medication that does not help the medical condition and causes the patient’s condition to worsen
  • Does not make clear the instructions for correct usage
  • Writes a prescription that a pharmacist may misread

Another important point of this type of case is that the error must have caused some form of harm. For example, if you picked up your prescription from the pharmacist and recognized the dosage was incorrect before taking any, you would not have a claim. The same would hold true even if you took the incorrect dosage and experienced no side effects.

Other Potentially Responsible Parties for Prescription Errors

While the doctor is often the first person you may consider suing for your prescription errors, he or she is not always the responsible party. Pharmacists, nurses, and manufacturers are all potentially liable for a prescription error. In some hospitals, the medical institution may be liable for any errors made by its staff. Additionally, a patient can be partially at fault if he or she is not open about his or her medical history when consulting with healthcare professionals.

With so many potentially liable parties for a prescription error, it’s essential to have skilled legal help on your side – both to correctly determine the at fault party and to meet strict filing requirements. Inaccurately filing your claim can be the difference in between a successful case and a lack of compensation. With the investigation resources and expert contacts of a law firm, you increase your chances of receiving compensation for the prescription error.

California law sets the statute of limitations for most medical malpractice cases to one year after discovery of injuries or within three years of the date of the injury. This strict timeline applies to prescription errors and means that you may waive your right to compensation if you do not file promptly. It’s in your best interest to hire an attorney the moment you discover the damages caused by the error.

If you’re uncertain if you have a medical malpractice case due to a prescription error, talking with a Bakersfield lawyer can help you understand your rights and learn if you’re eligible to receive compensation.

What Is an Implied Warranty?

Posted in Personal Injury,product liability on September 27, 2018

When purchasing products, many people are wary of warranties that could ultimately impact how long a product can receive repairs or even the timeframe we can return the product in. However, warranties can apply in many more situations than getting a costly appliance fixed. Some warranties apply to the quality of the product or the validity of making product liability claims.

Implied and Express Warranties

Many of us are familiar with written and spoken warranties, which include statements of what is and is not part of a warranty. When it comes to products, warranties serve as a guarantee that a product will meet stated quality and reliability standards – often with a money back statement applied. When a product does not meet the expectations of the warranty, a consumer can easily pick out the discrepancies and take the matter up with the manufacturer.

In contrast, an implied warranty does not involve any form of written or verbal agreement – the guarantee of proper operation is an implication. However, this does not make such warranties any less valid or enforceable. If you purchased a toaster that does not produce enough heat to operate as a toaster, then it would be a breach of the implied warranty of the product.

Consumers have several legally enforceable warranty rights that work on the concept of providing fair value for money spent. These warranties fall into two major categories.

Implied Warranty of Merchantability

One of the types of implied warranties is that of merchantability – that the product will work if used for its intended purchase. If you purchase a product that does not work as it should for the intended purchase, like the toaster in our earlier example, you have a right to an exchange or refund. However, if the product doesn’t work because you are using it for an unintended purchase, the warranty of merchantability does not apply.

To be a merchantable item, a product must:

  • Conform to stands of trade as applies to the contract for sale
  • Be suitable for intended purposes, even if a consumer purchased it for another use
  • Be uniform involving quantity and quality
  • Packed and labeled appropriately
  • Meet specifications on package labels

The implied warranty of merchantability is also applicable to used items, given the condition of the product at the time of sale.

Some states allow merchants to mark items as “with all faults” or “sold as is” to avoid implied warranty, often under the argument that the consumer had the opportunity to observe the item before purchase. California is one of these states.

Implied Warranty of Fitness

While all products have an implied warranty of merchantability, others also have a warranty of fitness. Products with an implied warranty of fitness are not only suitable for the merchantable standards, but for an additional, specific purchase. Coming back to the toaster example, if you asked a salesperson for a toaster that could toast four slices of bread at once but it only has the capacity to handle two, then you could return the product for breaching the warranty of fitness.

In most cases, the warranty of fitness comes from a salesperson’s recommendation of an item for a specific purchase. These warranties can apply even if a product meets the standards of merchantability.

Implied warranties work to protect a customer’s rights to functional products that work as intended. They not only serve as grounds for returns and exchanges but can also help to support a product liability case. If you have suffered damages due to an improperly functioning product that violates the implied warranty of merchantability, then you may have grounds to seek compensation. Discussing your potential claim with a Bakersfield product liability attorney is the first step to understanding your warranty rights.

How Effective Are Disclaimers?

Posted in Personal Injury,product liability on September 27, 2018

When it comes to injuries and damages caused by products, it can be legally possible to pursue compensation through a product liability case. These claims allow for consumers to protect their rights to safety when using products. However, as a lawsuit can take up the time and money of a company and cast poorly on its reputation, many manufacturers hope to avoid such procedures altogether.

Product disclaimers are one such strategy to avoid fielding lawsuits and claims for damages from a company. And while a disclaimer may seem discouraging when you read it, the legal effectiveness of these written warnings isn’t as airtight as you may think.

Implied Product Warranties

All manufacturers must uphold two types of warranties that boil down to one conclusion: the manufactured product is safe enough for consumer use, so long as you follow the intended purchase. Even if you don’t see such a warranty written out when you purchase a product, the law implies this safety for all manufactured and sold products.

Because you have these warranty rights, a general written disclaimer has no legal standing. You as a consumer have had no opportunity to bargain or revoke your warranty rights, so a written general product disclaimer would be invalid. Your default warranty rights still hold, and you’d be able to file a product liability lawsuit if you suffered unfair injury during reasonable use of the product.

Reasonable Use and Assumption of Risk

One of the included provisions of implied product warranties that they are only valid so long as a consumer uses a product within the reasonable limitations. For example, if you followed all safety precautions when lighting fireworks and still sustained an injury due to a malfunctioning product, then you would have a chance to file product liability.

On the other hand, if you were handling fireworks in an unsafe manner, such as aiming them at other people or objects, then you would not be using the product in a reasonable way, thus revoking your right to potential compensation for your damages. This is because assumption of risk has come into play.

Assumption of risk is a common defense for manufacturers during product liability cases, where the company purports that the plaintiff was using the product in an unsafe manner and assumed the potential risks of that use. Ways to reinforce this claim involve a product including a specific disclaimer rather than a general one.

General disclaimers often try to claim that the manufacturer has no form of liability through use of its products, no matter the situation. Specific disclaimers focus on stating the company isn’t liable if the consumer misuses the product in any way. If a manufacturer had included such a specific disclaimer with its product, then a court is much more likely to uphold it in court, so long as there is proof of product misuse.

Are There Situations Where General Disclaimers Can Apply?

While a court is much more likely to dismiss general disclaimers, it’s still possible for them to be valid in court. One common scenario is that if a written and signed contract indicates that the consumer has waived his or her warranty rights after given the chance to negotiate. A typical consumer may not see contracts for most purchases, but they can come into play for handmade or customizable products.

Even though general disclaimers aren’t effective in most situations, they can prevent lawsuits by discouraging customers from pursuing legal action – and it can be hard for an average consumer to tell the difference between a legally valid and invalid disclaimer. Seeking the counsel of an experienced Bakersfield product liability lawyer can help you determine if a disclaimer is legally binding. If not, you’ll be able to work with a lawyer to determine if you have a product liability case and start the claims process.

Can You Sue Someone for Punching You?

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.

What Is the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law?

Posted in Bus Accidents,California on July 23, 2018

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.

Can You Sue a Restaurant for Food Poisoning?

Posted in Personal Injury,product liability on July 23, 2018

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.