Category Archives: Kern County Lawyers

Chantal Trujillo Reflects on Her Experience with Rodriguez & Associates

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Since joining Rodriguez & Associates in 2011, Chantal Trujillo has grown to senior partner, developing into her role as a trial attorney in some of Bakersfield and Kern County’s toughest cases. In a male-dominated field that requires fierce grit and determination, Chantal possesses that and much more, understanding that the most successful work of a personal injury attorney is derived from compassion and empathy.

A Bakersfield-area native, Chantal left California to pursue school and life in Texas, returning after obtaining her J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio to be closer to family. She considers herself fortunate to have found a home away from home at Rodriguez & Associates and to have had the opportunity to be mentored by the firm’s founder and president, Daniel Rodriguez.

“Daniel took me to depositions and gave me the guidance and coaching to succeed. I always felt comfortable going to him with questions. I have become confident, always learning, and now I can help others learn the ropes and gain their footing.”

While Chantal attributes her technical training to Mr. Rodriguez, her hard work, and the opportunities the firm has presented her with over the years, she has also developed a unique skill that allows her to connect background knowledge from her lived experiences and apply it to the cases she works. She refers to this skill as the “Slumdog Millionaire” effect, as her exceptional memory allows her to recall details from moments in time that align experiences with information, research, or evidence at a moment’s notice – a skill that comes in handy during pivotal moments during trials. Her grit, determination, and presence stem from decades of Kenpo training, a Chinese martial art, which she also taught during her college years, a job that prepared her to present and differentiate information to make it understandable to many.

Familiar with male-dominated arenas such as martial arts, and Texas oil fields, embarking on a career in trial law did not phase Chantal. She says, “there were times that I would look around and be the only female attorney in the room. I had to make sure I was always on my A-game.” Her A-game has led her and her team to successful settlements and verdicts in some of Kern County’s most significant cases including a 2019 verdict in a school shooting case that was later upheld on appeal.

Chantal describes her team at our Bakersfield, California personal injury law firm as a well-oiled machine of experienced attorneys and attentive staff who take pride in putting their clients first.

“Our clients come to us at their most vulnerable and weakest moments in life. Being able to help them take strides in a positive direction and help guide them toward resolution is always our priority.”

Care and respect for clients are a significant part of the firm’s mission, understanding the immense difficulties that their clients are facing. Chantal is all too familiar with the struggles of her clients, many of whom are underage victims of unspeakable crimes including violence and child molestation. These cases are sensitive by nature, and working with minors requires special tenacity and attention to the emotional needs of her clients.

“Our most successful cases are those that will have the most impact and create change where change needs to happen.”

Chantal possesses the natural ability to connect with others, understanding that in her line of work, trust and compassion are just as important traits as tenacity and drive. Building lasting relationships with co-workers as well as clients, Chantal is a testament to the environment that Rodriguez & Associates has developed to serve the people of Bakersfield and beyond.

We are so grateful for the commitment and energy Chantal has brought to the firm over the years!

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 1:50 pm

The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Personal injury covers a broad range of cases in which a person can bring a lawsuit against another person or entity for harm suffered due to negligence. Laws allow individuals who have been injured to claim damages for both physical and emotional injury, in order to obtain compensation for medical treatment and pain and suffering.

Due to the diversity in cases, the personal injury lawsuit process is complex. If you or a family member are injured due to another person’s negligence it is important to work with an experienced and trusted attorney who can help you seek maximum compensation for your injuries.

Bakersfield personal injury law firm Rodriguez & Associates has outlined the personal injury lawsuit process to help you understand the general development of a personal injury case, from the time of the incident through appeal.

  1. Seek Medical Treatment
    If you are injured in an accident, your priority is to ensure you receive any necessary medical attention immediately. Quick and proper care can help you treat injuries most effectively as well as provide you with documentation provided by doctors, nurses, therapists, and other providers that can help validate your claim.
  2. Find a Personal Injury Lawyer
    It is recommended that you discuss your personal injury claim with an experienced attorney, especially if your situation is complex. Always research potential attorneys to ensure they have demonstrated experience in the practice area of your case, resources available to conduct thorough investigations, and the ability to take your case to trial and appeal if need be.Rodriguez & Associates is an award-winning personal injury firm in Kern County that has built the reputation of prioritizing client needs while pursuing exceptional results in a variety of practice areas including trucking accidents, workplace accidents, and oil field accidents, among others.
  3. Investigation
    It is important to share all details of your case, injuries, medical records, and medical treatments with your attorney so your team has an accurate and pragmatic understanding of your case and can best provide you with clarity and expectations. Each personal injury case is unique and may present challenges related to statutes of limitations, evidence, or testimonies. Keeping accurate records of treatment payments, bills, and other financial information that demonstrate your injuries and recovery will be helpful for your attorney as they fully investigate your situation and determine potential damages.
  4. Demands and Negotiation
    It is not uncommon for a personal injury claim to reach a settlement without ever going to trial. Settlements are determined at this time when your attorney contacts the defendant to demonstrate your intent to file and requests full reparations.Prior to contacting the defendant, your attorney will typically wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning your injuries have healed to completion of your medical plan. Waiting for MMI will allow your attorney to better determine the complete damages of your case, and the full extent of settlement demands.If the plaintiff and the defendant are unable to reach a settlement agreement, the case will move forward toward litigation and a trial.
  5. A Lawsuit is Filed
    Litigation begins when your attorney files a lawsuit on your behalf. In California, a personal injury claim must be filed within two years of the date the accident occurred. The California statute of limitations does not require that your case be completed within that time frame, but according to the law, your case must be filed within two years from the time the injury occurred. There are exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations as well, including medical malpractice cases, cases brought against a government entity, as well as cases in which the injury was not immediately discoverable. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney will ensure that your lawsuit is filed in accordance with the law.
  6. The Discovery Phase
    During the discovery phase, your attorney and the defendant’s attorney will review and investigate both sides of the case, measuring evidence, testimonies, and defenses against each other. Both the plaintiff’s side and the defense will communicate openly, ask questions, share documents, and take depositions from both sides to establish a complete explanation of what occurred, who was at fault, and where liability falls.
  7. Mediation and Negotiation
    After case materials have been reviewed, lawyers may enter a renegotiation of damages toward a settlement. If they are unable to find a resolution, a neutral, third-party mediator can be asked to assist in the negotiation.
  8. Trial
    If mediation is not an option or does not reach a resolution, the case may enter into trial. Trials can be time-consuming and expensive processes for both parties, requiring extensive resources and preparation. Trials will culminate in a decision reached by a judge or a jury. The team at Rodriguez & Associates are well-versed trial lawyers who do not back down from the challenge of taking a case to trial if necessary.
  9. Appeal
    If either party disagrees with the judgment made at trial, they may appeal the decision to a higher court. In this process, the court will review the details of the case and how the determination was made by the lower court. An appellate court can either uphold the original judgment or, in the event it is decided there was not enough evidence to make a decision, return the case to its initial stages. To read about one of our recent verdicts upheld on appeal, click here.

While the majority of personal injury cases will not reach trial, it is important to work with a legal team that possesses the resources and capability to help you reach a successful trial verdict, and have that verdict upheld on appeal, if need be. The experienced team of personal injury attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates holds records for some of the largest settlements and verdicts in Kern County.

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person, the attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates will make sure that all needs of your case are met while you focus on recovery. Contact our Bakersfield, CA office today for a free evaluation of your case.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 8:39 pm

Rodriguez & Associates Listed In The 2022 Best Of Bakersfield Readers’ Choice Favorites

Friday, June 3, 2022

The Bakersfield Californian has named Rodriguez & Associates a favorite in the “Best Law Firm” category in The Best of Bakersfield Readers’ Choice Poll 2022.

Daniel Rodriguez was also listed as a favorite in the “Best Personal Injury Lawyer” category.

Thank you to everyone that voted for us!

Every year, The Bakersfield Californian, a Kern County local newspaper, holds this competition to help our residents find the best of the best in the county from the Best Local Band to the Best Cardiologist. Congratulations to all those recognized this year!

Rodriguez & Associates has also been listed for years on Expertise.com as the Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Bakersfield.

Learn more about our firm here.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 5:03 pm

Named to Expertise.com’s Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Bakersfield List

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Rodriguez & Associates has been named by Expertise.com’s one of the Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Bakersfield for 2022. Expertise.com aims to connect people with the top experts in their city by field. 

Our firm was also named to the site’s 2022 top 19 Best Car Accident Lawyers in Bakersfield and the top 20 Best Litigation Attorneys in Bakersfield

Expertise.com evaluated 243 personal injury firms in the Bakersfield area, scoring them on more than 25 variables across five categories including availability, qualifications, reputation, experience, and professionalism. The results were then analyzed to provide the public with the best 23 lawyers in the area. 

Rodriguez & Associates is based in Bakersfield, California, but we have represented clients from all over the country. 

If you or a loved one are in need of an experienced and professional personal injury attorney, contact our personal injury attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates today.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 9:16 pm

Named Best Car Accident Lawyers in Bakersfield by Expertise.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Rodriguez & Associates tops Expertise.com’s list: 2022 Best Car Accident Lawyers in Bakersfield

Our firm has been featured in top rankings consistently by Expertise.com over the last several years.

We were also named to the site’s 2022 Best Litigation Attorneys in Bakersfield and Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Bakersfield lists. 

Expertise.com scored dozens of Bakersfield car accident lawyers on more than 25 variables across five categories and analyzed the results to give readers a hand-picked list of the top 19 firms in the area. 

Rodriguez and Associates has over 100 years of combined experience in handling car and other vehicular accident cases and takes pride in their reputation of success and professionalism. To learn more about us, click here.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 9:12 pm

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Friday, October 29, 2021

Losing a loved one is a very difficult experience. This grief can turn into anger if someone else’s negligent actions are responsible for your loved one’s death. In these situations, you may be able to hold the at-fault party accountable by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against him or her in civil court. Under California law, however, only certain parties are eligible to file a wrongful death claim on a deceased person’s behalf. 

Eligible Representatives in California Wrongful Death Lawsuits

According to California’s wrongful death statute, wrongful death is caused by the legal fault of another person or entity. A wrongful death may occur due to acts of medical malpractice in Bakersfield, negligence, or intentional acts, including crimes. You can pursue criminal charges and a civil wrongful death claim at the same time.

The following people may file a wrongful death lawsuit in California civil court.

  • The deceased person’s surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • The deceased person’s surviving children
  • The grandchildren of any deceased child of the deceased person

If the following individuals can prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased, they may also file a wrongful death claim.

  • The deceased person’s parents
  • The deceased person’s stepchildren
  • The deceased person’s legal guardians, if his or her parents are deceased
  • The deceased’s putative spouse, or an individual who had the good faith but mistaken belief that he or she and the deceased were legally married

If no surviving person is available to file a lawsuit in the deceased’s line of descent, additional rules apply. In these situations, any person who would be entitled to inherit the property of the deceased may file the claim.

How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

California law also restricts the length of time that you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations establishes a filing deadline for certain types of claims, and if you file after the appropriate date, the court will almost certainly dismiss the case. 

You have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California civil court. While there are some exceptions to this rule, they are not always applicable in wrongful death cases. To identify your appropriate deadline and protect your family’s right to recovery, speak to a Bakersfield personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Speak to a California Wrongful Death Lawyer 

Wrongful death litigation can be complex and difficult to navigate, and if you plan on filing a lawsuit, you need an attorney on your side. A California wrongful death lawyer can provide valuable benefits to your claim, including the following. 

  • The ability to assess your family’s damages and accurately calculate your settlement value
  • Negotiation skills to handle discussions with other attorneys and insurance companies, if applicable
  • Access to expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf, such as medical professionals and accident reconstruction specialists
  • Knowledge of the California court system and the various steps, requirements, and processes you need to reach a settlement

A California wrongful death lawyer will have the experience, skills, and resources necessary to guide you and your family through each stage of the litigation process. As soon as you are able, contact an attorney to discuss your next steps.

Posted by highrank at 8:25 pm

Who Is Liable in a Commercial Truck Accident?

Thursday, September 23, 2021

One of the major differences between commercial truck accidents and the average car crash is liability, or who’s at fault.

Liable parties in a regular car accident are usually just the drivers of the vehicles involved. Determining liability in a truck accident is a far more complex process that could include multiple third parties beyond the person actually driving the commercial vehicle. In other words, the accident may not have entirely been the driver’s fault, even if it appears that way at first. Proving liability in cases like these normally requires an experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyer.

Manufacturing, managing, and loading a truck is a long process that requires input from many different parties. There’s room for error along any one of these points in the process of moving goods from one location to the next. Because of that, the following groups, companies, and individuals could potentially be held liable for negligence in a truck accident:

Manufacturers: Companies that manufacture truck parts and equipment — anything from tires to brake pads — could share in the blame if their parts helped cause an accident. Some common examples of malfunctioning equipment include tire blowouts, faulty brakes, and mechanical failures. A thorough investigation should reveal such things after an accident. If found to be at fault, manufacturers would be required to pay at least part of victims’ damages.

The Trucking Company: The company that hires the truck driver is a frequent third party held liable in accidents. The trucking company is responsible for maintaining and inspecting the vehicle before every trip, ensuring that all equipment is working properly. But too often, these companies cut corners on inspections, increasing the risk of an accident. They may also push a driver to work longer hours than is safe in the name of meeting a shipping deadline.

Cargo Loaders: Cargo loaders are supposed to ensure a shipment is secured and balanced properly in the truck before the vehicle ever departs. Improperly packed cargo could spill onto the road or throw the truck off balance and hinder a driver’s ability to control the vehicle. An underloaded or overloaded truck can also cause problems for the driver and potentially anyone else in the nearby vicinity.

Truck Drivers: Often, the person behind the wheel of the commercial vehicle shares some responsibility in an accident. Drivers that speed, make reckless lane changes, or break other traffic laws are a danger to everyone on the road. Many truck drivers also struggle with substance abuse, while others work past their designated Hours of Service regulations and wind up exhausted and overworked. All of these factors increase the risk of an accident happening.

Because of the number of potentially responsible parties involved, truck accident litigation can get extremely complex very quickly. If the accident is catastrophic — which is often the case with commercial vehicles — proving negligence will get even more nuanced. Trucking companies and others on the above list do not have your best interests in mind and will often try to get out of paying what they rightfully owe. These companies are armed with attorneys and resources and will usually do everything they can to avoid paying you compensation.

Your best course of action after a major truck accident is to find an experienced truck accident attorney. Rodriguez & Associates has decades of experience handling truck accident cases, and our expertise covers not just engineering and legal issues but also the day-to-day details for truckers that can lead to accidents. Our Bakersfield personal injury attorneys are skilled at identifying and acquiring crucial pieces of evidence, too, including driver logs and trucking company records.

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 2:52 pm

What to Look for When Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

In truck accidents, it’s usually those inside the passenger vehicles that get the worst injuries. This is because commercial trucking vehicles like semi-trucks, which are on average 72 feet long and weigh 80,000 pounds, cause so much more destruction than your typical sedan. Drivers of smaller vehicles are therefore much more vulnerable.

Since multiple parties can be held responsible in a truck accident, including the driver, trucking company, or parts manufacturers, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries if you are involved in a truck crash. To do that, it is best to find an experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyer that has your best interests at heart.

As you search for the right attorney, you will ideally find a person with the following characteristics:

Experience With Truck Accident Cases

Your attorney should have at least some experience handling truck accident cases. This is a complex area of personal injury litigation, and your attorney needs to know how to properly investigate the case as well as the many state and federal laws that will be involved. Truck insurance companies almost always try to avoid paying what they owe to a victim, and a good truck accident attorney will be able to anticipate this and fight back with your best interests in mind.

Resources and Accessibility

Some firms take on so many cases they aren’t able to give each individual one the attention it deserves. That can potentially hurt your chances of claiming as much compensation as you deserve. The ideal attorney will have enough resources to be able to manage your case and provide additional staff to help respond to your calls and emails around the clock. It is never a good sign if you cannot get in touch with your attorney’s office or get a response to a question.

Positive Customer Feedback

No attorney wins every case, but you can get a sense of how competent this person is by paying attention to what others are saying. Look for online reviews about your prospective attorney to determine how easy they’ll be to work with. You want someone who is available, empathetic, detail-oriented, and can make you feel at ease during a stressful situation. If reviews suggest otherwise, you might want to look elsewhere for your attorney.

Awards and Honors

Top lawyers are usually on “Best of” lists. An attorney’s website and LinkedIn profile should list local and national recognition, along with that person’s participation in community organizations and pro-bono activities. An added bonus is if the attorney has won an award for multiple years in a row.

Though it might feel a little overwhelming to start your search for a truck accident attorney, remember that the more work you put into finding your ideal person, the better your case result is likely to be. Truck accidents are physically and emotionally traumatic events. You can improve your changes of compensation by working with the right person.

Rodriguez & Associates has decades of experience handling truck accident cases. Our knowledge covers not just engineering and legal issues, but also the day-to-day details for truckers that can lead to accidents. We are skilled at identifying and acquiring crucial pieces of evidence, too, including driver logs and trucking company records.

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 2:17 pm

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, oilfield drivers often work much longer shifts, which increases the odds of a Bakersfield truck accident. 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 a Bakersfield 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

What Is NOT Included in Attorney-Client Privilege

Sunday, September 5, 2021

If you plan on hiring legal representation, you have probably heard of the term attorney-client privilege. The attorney-client relationship is a sensitive one, and attorneys have an obligation to keep their communications with clients private and confidential. A lawyer cannot openly share or be forced to share information about his or her client, but there are certain exceptions to the rule. If crime or fraud was involved in a client’s communications with a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer, for example, attorney-client privilege no longer applies. 

Understanding Attorney-Client Privilege

Attorney-client privilege protects communications between lawyers and people who seek legal representation. This rule allows clients to share information without hesitation so that their attorneys can provide the most effective representation possible. Attorney-client privilege typically applies whenever an existing or potential client consults a lawyer who is acting in their professional capacity for legal advice, and the client reasonably expects the lawyer to keep their communications private.

Clients can choose to waive or forfeit this privilege at any time, but an attorney cannot. Attorney-client privilege can last long after the lawyer stops representing the client, and even after the client passes away. Potential clients who never hire an attorney are also protected.

In simple terms, an attorney can never share confidential information about any past, present, or potential client without his or her permission. However, there are some exceptions.

The Crime-Fraud Exception to Attorney-Client Privilege

When consulting with a lawyer, a client may choose to disclose information about past crimes or previous wrongful acts. These communications are protected by attorney-client privilege, and the lawyer will likely be unable to disclose this information. If the client communicates with an attorney with the purpose of committing a crime or fraud, the attorney-client privilege rule no longer applies. 

The crime-fraud exception applies if the following conditions are met.

  • The client was in the process of committing or intended to commit a crime or act of fraud.
  • The client communicated with his or her attorney to either cover up the crime or fraud, or to further his or her mission.

For example, say that a client seeks a Bakersfield car accident attorney’s advice after a crash. The client admits to the lawyer that he or she caused the accident but wants advice on how to manipulate evidence so that another driver looks to be at fault. In this situation, the client intends on defrauding an insurance company and the attorney is not obligated to keep his or her communications private. If the potential client was later arrested, the lawyer could be subpoenaed and required to testify against him or her. 

Confidentiality Exceptions for Imminent Harm

Under California law, if a client tells his or her attorney that he or she plans on committing a crime that may lead to death or serious injury, an attorney is required to disclose it. Before disclosing this information, the lawyer must make a good faith effort to stop the client from committing the act and inform the client of his or her obligation to report.  

For example, say that a lawyer receives a call from a client who says that he intends to kill the person who is filing a lawsuit against him or her. The attorney will be obligated to call the police and report the threat to the police. 

If you are facing any type of legal process, it is important to have a Bakersfield personal injury attorney on your side. As soon as possible following the initial incident, speak to a lawyer to discuss your legal strategy.

Posted by highrank at 3:32 pm