Category Archives: California

The Most Dangerous Tasks for Oilfield Workers

Thursday, September 9, 2021

When it comes to jobs that are inherently dangerous, the oil and gas industries are at the top of the list. From 2013 to 2017, the most recent year for data, 489 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Explosions, such as the type that caused the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, are typically what come to mind when we think of oilfield accidents. But while those events are undoubtedly catastrophic, they are not necessarily the most common danger for those working on the oilfield.

The most dangerous tasks for oilfield workers include:

Driving. One of the most dangerous jobs in the oil industry doesn’t take place on the field or rig but instead on the freeway. Motor vehicle crashes cause over 50 percent of work-related deaths in the oil and gas extraction industries, according to the CDC.

This is largely due to the long hours these drivers are usually required to put in. Oilfield drivers are subject to different rules under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Hours of Service regulations than other commercial truck drivers. Because of this, they often work much longer shifts. The fatigue and exhaustion from such long hours can greatly increase the risk of a catastrophic accident happening.

Derrick operations. Derrick operators build, operate, inspect, manage, and service all components of an oil derrick. This means they are constantly working with heavy, dangerous equipment that if not managed properly can lead to falling objects, crush injuries, and slips and falls.

Derrick operators are also expected to work long hours in all types of weather: extreme heat, freezing cold, wind storms, and other situations. Like drivers, these individuals battle a good deal of fatigue from their working conditions and are at greater risk for accidents because of it.

Roustabout. Roustabouts are entry-level workers who do a number of different tasks, including handling cargo, transporting materials, and maintaining equipment. The work is physically and mentally demanding, and the hours are generally long.

Roustabouts also work in extreme weather conditions and with heavy, dangerous equipment.

Many oilfield accidents are preventable when proper safety regulations are followed and basic precautions taken. It is when employers cut corners to save time that their workers wind up at risk for severe injury and even death.

If anyone knows this firsthand, it’s Rodriguez & Associates boss Daniel Rodriguez, who worked in the oilfields for years as a roustabout and mechanic. He knows firsthand how difficult and dangerous the work can be, and how important it is to give those injured by someone else’s negligence a chance for justice.

If you have been injured in an oilfield accident because of negligence, consider contacting an oilfield injury attorney and pursuing a claim. Please reach out to us today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 5:30 pm

Joel T. Andreesen Helps Raise Close to $1 million for Student Athletes

Friday, August 27, 2021

attorney_Joel_AndreesenFor years, the senior partner at Rodriguez & Associates, Joel T. Andreesen, has helped our Bakersfield community. As the outgoing President of the CSUB Athletic Scholarship Fund, he’s helped raise close to $1 million for student-athletes. Because of this more student-athletes than ever before can achieve their educational goals with athletic scholarships.

Joel stated, “This year’s record setting fundraising total of $938,433 is a testament to the Kern County community, CSU Bakersfield Roadrunner nation and the Roadrunner Scholarship Board of Directors and their commitment to all current and future Roadrunner student-athletes. He adds, “The increased donation amount will help Roadrunner athletics get closer to its goal of fully funding all available student-athlete scholarships. I want to express a big thank you to all the Roadrunner donors who helped make this a record-breaking year!”

We thank Joel for everything he’s done for our student-athletes.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 4:16 pm

California Oilfield Statistics 2021

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

California is one of the top 10 oil-producing states in America, with Kern and Ventura counties home to much of that production. In these counties, oilfields provide employment for thousands of individuals, making it an important industry for the livelihoods of many families.

While work on the oilfield is inherently dangerous, the right safety precautions and processes can avert many disasters and oilfield injuries. It helps too, to be up to speed on recent facts about the ever-changing industry, and what those points and statistics mean for oilfield workers.

Some recent figures include:

● The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) has jurisdiction over more than 242,000 wells, including nearly 101,300 that are defined as active or idle. The Division’s authority extends from onshore to three miles offshore.

● Annually, 34.9 percent of oil supply sources to California refineries came from California oil sources. Overseas sources as well as those in Alaska made up the rest of the percentages, according to the California Energy Commission.

● While California remains one of the top 10 oil-producing states in the U.S., production has been on the decline since the middle of the 1980s. CalGEM is currently working to further the state’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2045.

● From 2008 through 2017, 1,566 workers died trying to extract oil and gas in the U.S. During the same time, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited companies in the extraction industry for 10,873 violations.

● According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 489 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job between 2013 and 2017. Top hazards that can become fatalities are vehicle accidents, being struck by, caught in, or caught between equipment, explosions and fires, falls, being trapped in confined spaces, and exposure to harmful chemicals.

● Roughly 35,000 wells currently sit idle in California, with production suspended. An analysis by the Los Angeles Times and the Center for Public Integrity found that regions, including Kern County and Los Angeles, do not have enough money set aside to ensure these sites are cleaned up and made safe for all, now and in the future.

Daniel Rodriguez himself worked in the oilfields for years as a roustabout and mechanic, and knows firsthand how difficult and dangerous the work can be. If you have been injured in an oilfield accident, these statistics can help you determine if your situation warrants contacting an oilfield injury attorney and pursuing a claim. Please reach out to us today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 1:18 pm

Rodriguez & Associates Obtains $5M Settlement After the 1st Phase of Trial

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

With the help of this wonderful and dedicated jury, Rodriguez & Associates obtained a $5,000,000 settlement on behalf of their injured client.

Rodriguez & Associates

From the start, the defense denied liability and offered very little to resolve the case. Daniel Rodriguez, Chantal Trujillo, and Joseph Whittington worked tirelessly to represent their client while demanding the $5,000,000 insurance policy.

With Daniel’s quick-witted and compassionate approach to gain empathy and understanding from jurors, he won them over and was successful after the first phase when the jury found the defendants liable. The defendants conceded and offered up their insurance policy limits.

We are so happy for our client and congratulations to the Rodriguez & Associates team!

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 6:45 pm

California Texting While Driving Laws and Statistics

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

“It will only take a second.” 

“Mom wants to know where I am.” 

“Work had a question.”

These are just a few of the various excuses people have used to rationalize texting while driving. They’re also thoughts people have had right before they cause a major car accident.

Texting while driving is illegal in the state of California, and for good reasons. Because drivers take their hands, eyes, and mind off the road when texting, it’s an especially risky form of distracted driving. According to Go Safely, California, a campaign from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), the average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of traveling the length of an entire football field blindfolded. Additionally, engaging in a visual-manual task like texting increases your risk of getting into a crash by three times.

Despite these alarming statistics, plenty of Californians still text and drive. In 2019, the most recent year for data, 57.9 percent of California drivers surveyed said they had been hit or nearly hit by a driver talking or texting on a mobile device.

California law prohibits motorists from using a cellphone or mobile device while driving unless they are in “hands free” mode. That includes writing or reading texts, and applies to anyone driving on California roadways, even if you don’t live in California. The only exceptions to this law are if you are driving on private property or making an emergency call to something like an ambulance. 

According to California Vehicle Code, Section 23123, a violation of this law is punishable by a base fine of $20 for a first offense and by a fine of $50 for all subsequent infractions. That sounds like a small amount of money, but in reality, you will pay more — sometimes over $250 — once assessments are added. 

Previously, drivers did not receive a point on their driving record for texting and driving, but that has changed as of July 1, 2021. A texting-while-driving violation can now result in one point to your record if the violation is within 36 months of a prior distracted driving offense. Points added to your record can increase rates or even result in your license being revoked.

All of these laws are aimed at avoiding crashes, injuries, and fatalities that happen because of texting while driving. No matter what excuse our brains may tell us in the moment, texting while driving is never safe, and the possible consequences of doing it can be devastating to more than just the driver’s life.

Rodriguez & Associates takes the laws around texting and driving very seriously. We are willing to fight for anyone negatively impacted by another driver’s negligence. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by texting and driving, you may be able to claim compensation for damages. Please reach out to us today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 9:07 pm

California Statistics and Laws on Drinking and Driving

Monday, July 26, 2021

Drinking and driving, or driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, impairs a person’s ability to drive safely and threatens the well-being of other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians that they encounter on the road. 

Over the last 40 years, public information campaigns such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have set out to eliminate drunk driving through education, prevention, and enforcement by advocating for stricter laws to be passed for drunk driving offences, and while this has helped decrease the amount of DUIs nationwide, it has not ended the problem. In 2019, according to MADD, 10,142 people were killed due to drunk driving which makes it #1 cause of death on America’s roads. The state of California accounted for 1,066 of the nation’s drunk driving fatalities, approximately 10%. 

California Drinking and Driving Statistics 

The most comprehensive statistics for alcohol-impaired driving is from Responsibility.org for the year of 2018. 

  • Total alcohol-impaired driving fatalities: 1,069
  • Under 21 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities: 113
  • 69.8% of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities had a BAC of 0.15+
  • 77.9% of drivers with BAC 0.15+ were repeat offenders
  • Total DUI arrests: 127,250 (Nationwide: 1,001,329)

California Drunk Driving Laws

In California, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. The law does not distinguish between prescription, over-the-counter or illegal drugs. If the drug or medication impairs your ability to drive safely, you can still be charged with a DUI.

California has enforced tougher laws for first time and repeat offenders in an effort to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, drunk driving on our roads. Here is a summary of laws about driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handbook. 

  • It is illegal to use or possess alcohol or cannabis products in a vehicle. Any open containers must be stored in the trunk or where passengers do not sit.
  • It is illegal for any person to operate a vehicle with the following BAC limits:
    • 0.08% or higher, if the person is 21 years +
    • 0.01% or higher, if the person is under 21 years old
    • 0.04% or higher, when a passenger for hire is in the vehicle at the time of the offense
  • It is illegal for drivers under 21 years of age to carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless accompanied by a parent or other person as specified by law and the container is full, sealed, and unopened. If caught, the car may be impounded for up to 30 days, driving privileges may be suspended for up to 1 year or delay the issuance of a first driver’s license for up to 1 year, or a fine of up to $1000 may be charged.

Similar laws also prohibit riding bikes and scooters or driving boats under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

We Represent DUI Accident Victims in Kern County and California

A victim of a drunk driving accident can suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. Medical bills can pile up, they may not be able to work or perform their job as before, and their mental state may be different due to the accident. The criminal court system can punish a drunk driver for the accident, but it does not compensate victims of the accident. 

This is when a victim of a drunk driving accident would seek expert legal representation to pursue claims in a civil court for recovery of monetary damages from medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages from missed work, property damage, and/or modifications to a home or car because of the injuries incurred. Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates, are standing by to represent you or a loved one who has been injured as a result of a DUI accident. We will do everything possible to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

We represent DUI accident victims in Kern County and throughout California. Call us to request a free consultation at (661) 323-1400 or toll-free (800) 585-9262.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:29 pm

What to Do if Your Uber Has Been in an Accident

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Many Bakersfield residents rely on rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft to travel from place to place. While these services may seem safe and reliable, Uber and Lyft drivers are not exempt from accidents. If you are in a collision while riding in an Uber or Lyft, it is important to remain calm and take a series of important steps to gather evidence, protect yourself, and secure the compensation you need to recover. 

Call 911

First, call 911 and report the accident to law enforcement. The responding officer will create a police report that you can use to prove your case. Collect the officer’s name and badge number so you can find the report later.

Seek Medical Attention

As soon as possible following the accident, seek emergency medical attention. Save all documents related to your treatment and injuries. These medical records will provide valuable evidence in your case, helping prove the nature and extent of the harm that you suffered in the collision.

You should always seek medical treatment, even if you do not feel hurt. You may have internal injuries that you are not aware of, and prolonged treatment could lead to serious complications. Additionally, failure to seek medical attention could harm your case’s credibility.

Record Important Information

After your accident, you will likely need to file an insurance claim against the Uber or Lyft driver or the rideshare company’s internal insurance policy. To file your claim, you will need to collect the following pieces of information from your rideshare driver.

  • The driver’s name, address, and phone number
  • The driver’s personal insurance information
  • Information about the Uber or Lyft insurance policy
  • The registration number, license plate, make, and model for the driver’s vehicle

You may not know who is at fault for the accident at this stage. To ensure that you have access to all available options, speak to the other driver involved in the collision. Collect his or her contact information, license and vehicle details, and insurance policy information for use in your future case. A California rideshare accident lawyer can evaluate your case and help you identify who is responsible for your accident. 

Document Evidence at the Scene

If you are able to move around the accident scene after the collision, you can gather other pieces of evidence that you can use in your future claim. Take photographs of your injuries, property damage, and the area around the accident. You should also photograph any damage to the driver’s vehicle. 

You can also take a screenshot of your Uber or Lyft app to prove that you were a passenger in the driver’s vehicle at the time of the accident. If there are any witnesses who saw the accident happen, ask for their names and contact information for use in your future claim. These individuals could provide valuable testimony on your behalf.

Contact an Attorney

As soon as possible after your collision, contact a Bakersfield rideshare accident lawyer to discuss your case and legal options. Navigating an Uber or Lyft accident claim can be complicated due to the presence of multiple insurance policies, and you may need assistance identifying your optimal path to compensation. 

A rideshare accident attorney can help you strategize your case and advocate for the recovery you deserve. He or she can evaluate your accident, conduct a full-scale investigation, and gather the evidence you need to secure maximum compensation. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible following your accident to discuss your legal options.

Posted by highrank at 2:43 pm

What is the California Good Samaritan Law?

Saturday, June 5, 2021

When you encounter an emergency situation, you may try to act as a Good Samaritan and help any injured victims instead of walking away from the scene. However, our actions may end up causing more harm than good—which often opens us up to civil liability. In these situations, California’s Good Samaritan laws can protect you from civil repercussions and allow you to render aid instead of worrying about potential litigation.

Who Qualifies As a Good Samaritan in California?

Under California Health and Safety Code Section 1799.102, a Good Samaritan is a person who renders emergency care to another and acts in good faith. A Good Samaritan provides this care without expecting compensation for his or her actions. As a result, this person will not face civil liability for any actions or omissions that may occur while providing aid.

Good Samaritan laws are important for several reasons. When someone is injured, it can take a long time for medical personnel to arrive at the scene. In these situations, emergency care from bystanders could increase the victim’s chances of survival. With Good Samaritan laws in place, bystanders have the opportunity to help others without worrying about potential liability, protecting both parties in an emergency situation.

Civil versus Criminal Liability

California’s Good Samaritan law protects bystanders from civil liability or paying for a victim’s economic and non-economic damages if they harm someone while providing aid. If a person sustains an injury due to the actions of another, he or she may file a lawsuit against the person responsible for the injury to recover compensatory damages related to his or her losses. These damages may include the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and loss of future earnings
  • Property damage
  • Chronic pain, disability, and disfigurement
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Disability accommodations
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Loss of quality of life

If a bystander renders aid in good faith, he or she will be exempt from civil liability if his or her actions injure the victim. However, California’s Good Samaritan law does not provide exemptions for criminal liability. If a bystander commits a crime while rendering aid, such as stealing the victim’s wallet or committing sexual assault, he or she can still face criminal charges for this act.

Exemptions to the Good Samaritan Law

Protection under California’s Good Samaritan laws does not apply to situations involving gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Gross negligence refers to a lack of any care while providing aid, or a departure from what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation. On the other hand, willful and wanton misconduct involves an intentional or reckless disregard for others’ safety.

For example, if a bystander encounters a person who is injured in a car accident and pulls him or her out of the vehicle, he or she will not be liable if he or she accidentally breaks the victim’s leg while dragging the victim to safety. However, if the bystander pulls the victim out of the vehicle and abandons the victim in the middle of the road, he or she may be liable for any injuries that occur.

If you are injured due to a Good Samaritan’s actions or are facing liability for providing aid to another person, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A California personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and identify your optimal legal options. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.

Posted by highrank at 7:57 pm

Bakersfield Gas Explosion Case Is Back On Track

Friday, June 4, 2021

Daniel Rodriguez and Chantal A. Trujillo of Rodriguez & Associates are co-representing Bakersfield, California neighbors injured by the Wildwood gas explosion.

In November 2015 the California almond farm, Wildwood, triggered a fire and explosion after rupturing an underground gas line while the farm was being excavated in preparation for planting almond trees, causing personal injury and property damages to nearby neighbors.

The injured neighbors sued Wildwood, along with the contractors, and in October 2018, the trial court initially granted summary judgment in Wildwood’s favor.

A 2021 appeals court reversed the original summary judgment in Wildwood’s favor and instructed the trial court to grant summary adjudication in the farm’s favor on every claim except peculiar risk. The state appeals court ruled that the farm can, in fact, be held vicariously liable for the contracted excavator that caused the explosion.

Chantal Trujillo, partner at Rodriguez & Associates, told Law360 that she and her clients are happy the “case is back on track” and can be put in front of a jury.

To read more about the case of Gloria Ruckman et al. v. Wildwood Farms LLC, click here.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 2:40 pm

What Are the Consequences for Driving Without Insurance?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

California is a fault insurance state that requires drivers who are responsible for car accidents to pay for their victims’ damages. To uphold this financial responsibility and comply with state law, you must carry certain amounts of car insurance. However, not all drivers comply with this requirement—but failure to do so can lead to hefty fines and other penalties. Additionally, uninsured motorists may be solely responsible for their victims’ damages, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

California Insurance Requirements

Liability insurance pays for the medical expenses, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and other losses that other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians suffer in accidents you cause. All drivers in California must carry the following amounts of insurance.

  • $15,000 for bodily injury or death per person per accident
  • $30,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage per accident

You can purchase higher amounts of coverage if you choose to do so. You can also purchase additional coverage, such as uninsured motorist and medical payments coverage, to pay for your own losses in an accident. Uninsured motorist coverage is especially important in cases where the at-fault driver does not have insurance.

If you do not want to purchase liability coverage, you can comply with California insurance laws using one of the following options.

  • A self-insurance certificate from the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV)
  • A cash deposit of $35,000 to the DMV
  • A $35,000 surety bond from a California-licensed issuer

Penalties for Driving without Insurance

Failure to comply with California insurance laws can result in serious penalties. If you are caught for driving without insurance, you can receive a $100 to $200 fine for a first offense. For a second offense, the fine increases to $200 to $500. For third and subsequent offenses, your fine will continue to increase.

In addition to financial penalties, the state could impound your vehicle. You will not be able to obtain it until you provide proof of insurance and pay for the towing and storage fees. The state may also require you to obtain an SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility certificate and carry an additional SR-22 insurance policy, which can be expensive.

If you are at fault for the accident and do not have insurance, you will still be financially liable for the victims’ damages. Instead of the insurance company paying for expenses like medical care, vehicle repairs, and lost wages, you will need to pay for these losses out of pocket. Although car insurance may seem expensive, it is not as costly as paying for multiple high-value claims by yourself.

What to Do After a California Car Accident

If you are in a car accident, it is important to seek help, preserve evidence, and protect your health. First, call 911 and report the accident to law enforcement. Receive emergency medical attention as soon as possible and save all records related to your injuries. If you are able, take photographs of your injuries, the area around the crash, and your vehicle damage. Speak to the other driver and exchange insurance, license, and contact information, and ask any witnesses in the area for their contact details as well.

Once you receive treatment for your injuries, contact a California car accident lawyer. If another driver caused your accident, you could hold him or her accountable for your injuries through an insurance claim or lawsuit. If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you could still recover compensation through an uninsured motorist claim. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your optimal path to recovery.

Posted by highrank at 5:57 pm