Category Archives: Personal Injury Attorneys

Who Is Liable for a Civilian’s Injury on a Construction Site?

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Construction sites can be very dangerous places. Civilians who visit these locations can encounter falling debris, heavy machinery, and many other unsafe situations. Although safety equipment and regulations are in place to prevent accidents, negligence on behalf of a site owner, subcontractor, or employee could lead to serious injuries. If a civilian suffers an injury on a construction site, he or she may be able to pursue legal action against the at-fault parties.

Common Causes of Construction Injuries

There are numerous accidents that can happen on a construction site. To prevent these incidents from happening, contractors, foremen, and employees must follow established safety protocols. They must ensure that all visitors to the site wear proper safety equipment and follow best safety practices to avoid injuries. They must also place barricades around the site to keep passersby at a safe distance.

Unfortunately, not all construction sites follow these safety precautions. Civilians can suffer accidents due to a wide range of dangerous conditions, including the following.

  • Falling debris and objects
  • Tripping over equipment and materials
  • Improperly marked holes and ditches
  • Defective and dangerous machinery
  • The presence of hazardous materials
  • Improper use of construction tools and equipment

Legal Options for Civilians Injured on Construction Sites

If someone else’s negligence caused an accident on the construction site, he or she may be liable for the victim’s damages. For example, if a civilian is walking by the construction site and the employees failed to place barricades around the site, he or she may be struck by falling debris. In this situation, he or she may have grounds to pursue a lawsuit against the company that oversees the site.

Many parties may be liable for a civilian’s injuries, depending on the circumstances surrounding his or her accident. Subcontractors, employees, foremen, and the construction company itself may be liable. In other cases, the developer or the landowner may be liable. In cases involving defective equipment or machinery, the civilian can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective item. To identify the relevant at-fault party or parties, civilians can enlist the help of a construction accident attorney who can conduct an in-depth investigation into the accident.

How to Prove Negligence in a Construction Accident Lawsuit

A construction accident lawsuit allows civilians to recover compensation for the economic and non-economic losses he or she sustained due to the at-fault party’s negligence. To secure this compensation, the civilian will need to supply evidence to prove four key facts.

  • The at-fault party owed a duty of care to keep the construction site safe.
  • The at-fault party breached the duty of care through a negligent act or omission.
  • The at-fault party’s breach of duty directly caused the civilian’s injuries.
  • The civilian suffered damages that he or she can collect in the lawsuit.

For example, say that a visitor to a construction site falls in a hole that an employee failed to properly mark. Companies are often liable for the actions of their employees while these employees are performing their job duties, so the visitor would likely bring a lawsuit against the construction company. The breach of duty would be the employee’s failure to properly mark the hole.

The civilian can use multiple pieces of evidence to prove causation and breach of duty, including surveillance footage, medical records, and witness testimony. However, proving a construction accident lawsuit can be a challenge without the resources and knowledge of a personal injury lawyer. If you sustain an accident on a construction site, contact a California construction accident lawyer to discuss your pathway to maximum compensation.

Posted by highrank at 6:02 pm

What Is the Difference Between Actual and Proximate Cause?

Friday, February 26, 2021

When you suffer injuries due to another person’s negligence, you can recover economic and non-economic damages from the at-fault party through a personal injury lawsuit. To prove your right to compensation, you will need to prove that the defendant violated his or her duty of care to you. You will also need to prove that this violation was the actual and proximate cause of your injuries.

Understanding the difference between actual and proximate cause is very important for a personal injury claim. While actual cause is relatively straightforward, establishing proximate cause can be more complex.

Actual Cause versus Proximate Cause

Actual cause, also known as cause in fact, refers to the actual cause of your accident. For example, if you are driving through an intersection and an oncoming commercial truck runs a red light, the truck driver’s actions are the actual cause of the collision.

Proximate cause refers to the legal cause, or the cause that the law recognizes as the primary cause of the accident. In your case, the proximate cause may not be the first event that contributed to your injuries. It may not be the last event that occurs before the accident either.

Instead, the proximate cause is the natural and direct cause of your injuries, and your injuries are a natural, direct, and foreseeable consequence of the proximate cause. In other words, if the proximate cause had not occurred, you would have not suffered injuries.

The Substantial Factor Test for Proximate Cause

When determining whether or not a defendant’s actions are the proximate cause of an accident, California courts perform the substantial factor test. The court must determine whether the at-fault party’s conduct was a substantial and relevant contributory factor in the accident.

For example, say that you are driving on a highway when you notice a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road. In order to avoid a head-on collision, you swerve to the side and accidentally strike the highway’s guardrail. Since you would have not swerved but for the other driver’s actions—in this case, driving on the wrong side of the road—you can establish that the defendant’s actions played a substantial part in causing the accident. Using this information, you can establish the proximate cause.

The defendant’s conduct is not a substantial factor if the accident would have occurred regardless of his or her actions. You also cannot use conduct that is trivial or far removed from the actual events of the accident.

For example, say that you are in a head-on collision while driving to work. The city has closed your usual route for construction, so you have to take a detour. When driving on the unfamiliar road, you collide into a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction.

While you would have a claim against the other driver, you cannot hold the city liable for closing your usual route. While you would not have been in the accident if not for the construction, it is too remote, or too far removed, from the actual accident to be a substantial factor. For more information, contact a Bakersfield personal injury attorney today.

If you are in an accident, proving actual and proximate cause can be difficult without legal representation. A California personal injury lawyer will understand these statutory rules and will use his or her experience to craft a compelling case in your favor. After seeking medical attention, contact an injury lawyer to discuss your claim.

Posted by highrank at 7:22 pm

Named Best Personal Injury Law Firm in Bakersfield for 2021

Monday, February 22, 2021

Rodriguez & Associates has earned a place in Expertise.com’s list: Best Personal Injury Attorneys in Bakersfield for 2021.

The firm was also listed to the following lists by Expertise.com:

Expertise.com scored Bakersfield Personal Injury Attorneys on more than 25 variables across five categories and analyzed the results to give readers a hand-picked list of the best.

Our firm has been recognized from Expertise.com for several years now. To learn more about firm, click here.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 6:29 pm

Blaine Mustoe: Personal Injury Lawyer Spotlight

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Blaine MustoePersonal injury attorney Blaine Mustoe’s path to personal injury law stemmed from a personal experience. Some of his family members were victims of a terrible incident right before he started law school. While he thought the responsible party would stand up and try to make it right, they did not, and instead acted indifferently towards the damage they had done. Witnessing this injustice – one dealt directly to people he cared about – made him realize that holding wrongdoers accountable and helping the victims put their lives back together is what he wanted to do.

“My favorite part of being a lawyer is helping regular people stand up for themselves to powerful companies and organizations.”

Blaine, like several of our attorneys, was born and raised in Kern County. He came back after law school to work at Rodriguez & Associates so that he could help the community that surrounded him when he was growing up. Blaine graduated from Arvin High School, also the alma mater of Daniel Rodriguez, Senior Partner and Founder of Rodriguez & Associates. Ironically, or maybe it was kismet, Blaine met Daniel Rodriguez in high school when Blaine was part of the We the People program, a high school academic competition in which students are tested on their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and American Government. Mr. Rodriguez had volunteered an afternoon to teach the students public speaking skills and Blaine was part of that group.

Blaine is a first-generation member of his family to attend college. He worked multiple jobs to pay his way through school while also staying active in intramural sports and political clubs on campus and earned a degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley. Blaine attended UC Davis School of Law where he took part in mock trial exercises and volunteered in outreach programs with local schools. During his last summer of law school, Blaine worked at Rodriguez & Associates and was impressed with the firm’s commitment and ability to champion local residents against powerful corporations and entities. Impressively, Blaine passed the California Bar Exam on his first try and when the partners of Rodriguez & Associates recruited him, he jumped at the chance to return home and work in the line of personal injury law, which he had been interested in from the beginning of law school.

At Rodriguez & Associates, Blaine has worked on a variety of cases including catastrophic car collisions, civil rights violations by law enforcement, and defective products.

In his spare time, Blaine volunteers as a judge and coach for We the People, the same program he was involved in at Arvin High School. He loves to be able to give back to the program that he enjoyed so much. He also likes reading novels and non-fiction, running, trying new recipes, and rooting for the Golden State Warriors.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 9:14 pm

What is Negligence Per Se?

Sunday, February 7, 2021

If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit in California, you will need to prove the defendant’s negligence. You will need to show that the at-fault party’s conduct breached his or her duty of care to you. You will also need to prove that the defendant’s actions were the actual and proximate cause of the injuries you suffered. In some cases, however, the concept of negligence per se will come into play.

How to Establish Negligence in California Personal Injury Claims

To secure compensation in a California personal injury lawsuit, simply sustaining an injury is not enough. You will need to provide clear evidence to support four key elements.

● The defendant owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident.
● The defendant breached his or her duty of care. You must prove that a reasonable person would not have committed the negligent act under the same circumstances.
● The breach of duty directly caused your injuries.
● You suffered damages in the accident that you can claim in your lawsuit.

Proving negligence can be complex. You will need to provide evidence that documents the defendant’s actions or failure to act, as well as evidence establishing the extent and nature of your injuries. One of the most challenging aspects, however, is establishing whether or not the defendant’s actions were reasonable. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have to ask expert witnesses to provide testimony on the defendant’s conduct.

The Negligence Per Se Doctrine

Many negligent acts can rise to the level of negligence, such as failure to repair a set of broken stairs or ignoring hours of service regulations while operating a commercial truck. If a negligent act violates a state law, the concept of negligence per se will apply to the case.

Negligence per se is a legal doctrine that presumes that a defendant acted in negligence if he or she injures another person while violating a statute. To prove negligence per se in your case, you will need to prove the following four elements.

● The defendant violated a statute.
● The violation of the statute caused your injuries.
● The state designed the law to prevent the injury you sustained.
● You are a member of the class that the law seeks to protect.

As soon as a defendant violates state law, the court considers the defendant’s actions to be unreasonable. For example, say that you are in a car accident when another vehicle drifts into your lane and collides with your passenger side door. Subsequent police reports determine that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol at the time of your crash. Since California has a specific statute banning drinking and driving, the defendant violated state law during the crash.

During your personal injury trial, you can use the negligence per se theory to establish the defendant’s liability. Since drivers have a statutory duty not to drink and drive, the at-fault party breached his duty of care. You do not need to prove that the defendant’s actions were unreasonable since the violation establishes this fact.

Although you may be able to use negligence per se in your personal injury claim, the defendant can use several strategies to defend him or herself from these accusations. A California personal injury lawyer can strengthen your claim and counter the defendant’s arguments, helping secure the compensation you need to recover.

Contact your Bakersfield personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

Posted by highrank at 6:43 pm

Daniel Rodriguez Makes the 2021 California Super Lawyers List

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Daniel_Rodriguez_Makes_2021_Super_Lawyers_list

Attorney Daniel Rodriguez, Founder and President at Rodriguez & Associates, has been selected to the 2021 California Super Lawyers list. No more than five percent of the lawyers in California are selected by Super Lawyers.

For over ten years, Super Lawyers has recognized Daniel Rodriguez for his outstanding legal achievements. He has demonstrated excellence in the practice of law year after year.

Super Lawyers®, part of Thomson Reuters, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

Daniel is a member of The National Trial Lawyers – an invitation only group composed of the premier trial lawyers from across the United States. His firm has obtained more multi-million-dollar verdicts than any other law firm in the Southern San Joaquin Valley and has earned the highest personal injury verdict in Kern County history. In 2019 alone, he had three verdicts that made the Top 40 Personal Injury Verdicts in California list (by Top Verdict). The largest verdict in that list was a $70.5 million verdict in a trucking crash/traumatic brain injury case.

“Being listed in Super Lawyers once again for the litigation work I do is an honor,” said Rodriguez. “Helping individuals and families in Kern County get the justice they deserve for the pain they have experienced is why I do what I do.”

Congratulations, Daniel!

To learn more about Daniel Rodriguez, click here.

About Rodriguez & Associates
Rodriguez & Associates is Kern’s County premier personal injury law firm. The lawyers have with more than 100 years of combined experience. As an award-winning law firm, it is known to deliver big firm results with small firm service. www.rodriguezlaw.net

 

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 6:17 pm

Office Manager Martha Ruiz Looks Back on 35 Years at Rodriguez & Associates

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Martha_Ruiz_Rodriguez_and_AssociatesIt takes many more hands than those of a few attorneys to fight a personal injury case. Behind the scenes, an enormous amount of organization, troubleshooting, and detail work has to happen, and it is individuals like Martha Ruiz who provide that invaluable support.

Martha is one of the longest-standing employees at Rodriguez & Associates, having joined the firm in 1985. Over the years, she has worn many hats and performed many jobs, including time as a senior paralegal as well as her current position as office manager. On any given day, Martha can be found troubleshooting at the front desk, answering questions for both clients and attorneys, and providing ongoing training for the firm’s staff.

But regardless of the task at hand, Martha sees a sense of purpose in her work that hasn’t wavered since it originally attracted her to Rodriguez & Associates more than three decades ago.

A big part of her loyalty to the firm comes from Daniel Rodriguez and his staff’s approach to their clients. Atypical to a lot of law firms, Rodriguez & Associates maintains relationships with its clients that extend beyond simply settling a personal injury case or taking it to the courtroom. Those who work at the firm, whether as attorneys or in roles like Martha’s, build family-like relationships with their clients that last long after a case is wrapped. Martha likens this process to taking a journey with the client, one in which she and the rest of the staff get to see not just the close of the case but also what happens to the people in the years that follow.

Martha says that over the years she has watched clients who came to the firm as victims of tragedy and life-altering injuries evolve over time to lead their best lives possible. Talking to them periodically, seeing them return to the firm to say hello and share their lives’ details, helps to keep her motivated and her outlook positive.

Watching the stories of these people unfold and getting to play a role in their resolution has, she says, changed the way she views the world. It has helped her to stay humble and not to take things for granted.

She has also had the privilege of watching many staff members at Rodriguez & Associates grow over the years. Having been with the firm for so long, Martha has seen it expand from just a few individuals to over 20 people. It is rewarding for her to see those she initially hired and trained grow over the years. At the same time, she believes the firm has a knack for choosing people that value and respect one another and are committed to each other and to their clients.

One of her favorite things about her job is that it lets her interact with many different types of people. This exposure to people and events she might not have otherwise encountered also has a positive effect on her worth ethic and overall motivation at the firm.

As she celebrates 35 years at Rodriguez & Associates, Martha continues to find positive influence and inspiration in the people she meets and the stories she gets to be a part of along the way.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 12:39 am

What Type of Compensation is Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?

Monday, December 28, 2020

If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person or entity, you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. This civil lawsuit provides compensation to a deceased person’s estate and surviving family members, such as his or her spouse and children, for the losses associated with his or her death.

However, California establishes strict rules regarding what types of compensation a plaintiff’s family or estate may receive. There are two categories of damages in wrongful death lawsuits: compensation for the deceased’s estate, and compensation for the deceased’s family.

Damages for the Deceased’s Family

Surviving family members can suffer from significant pain and suffering due to the untimely passing of a loved one. The purpose of wrongful death claims is to compensate the family for these losses with a monetary award. If a wrongful death claim is successful, the court will typically award compensation for the following losses to eligible family members.

  • The value of household services the deceased would have provided
  • The loss of anticipated financial support from the deceased
  • The loss of love, affection, guidance, moral support, community, and attention from the deceased to his or her family members

In California, only certain individuals may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased person. Typically, only the surviving spouse or domestic partner, surviving children, and people in the line of succession, such as the deceased’s parents or siblings, may receive this compensation.

Compensation for the Deceased’s Estate

After a person dies, he or she can incur certain costs that his or her estate will need to pay for. The court will compensate the estate for the cost of his or her funeral and burial expenses up to a reasonable amount, as well as medical bills and hospital expenses associated with the deceased’s final injury or illness.

The court will often provide funds for the value of the deceased’s lost income. This specific form of compensation reimburses the estate for the potential income the deceased would have likely earned in the future if he or she lived. The court will also provide compensation for lost wages the deceased incurred during his or her recovery period prior to death.

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

If you lost a loved one due to negligence or reckless behavior, you may be eligible for a wrongful death settlement. However, California sets a time limit on these types of lawsuits—you only have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file. If you wait until this deadline passes to file your claim, the court will almost certainly dismiss your lawsuit and your family will lose the right to collect the compensation you deserve.

Hiring a California wrongful death attorney to represent your claim can help you avoid unexpected delays and file your lawsuit on time. Your lawyer can assist your family with every aspect of the wrongful death litigation process, from negotiating with insurance companies to identifying the damages you qualify for.

As soon as possible following your loved one’s accident, contact a California wrongful death attorney to initiate your claim. Your attorney will explain your legal options and discuss you and your family’s first steps toward compensation.

Posted by highrank at 8:12 pm

Joel T. Andreesen Reflects on his 16 Years Spent at Rodriguez & Associates

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Joel_AndreesenJoel Andreesen attributes his lifelong commitment to fact-finding as a huge reason for his success as an attorney. And that success is about much more than financial settlements. Throughout his career, and during his 16 years at Rodriguez & Associates, where he is now a Senior Partner, Joel has been driven more by a desire to help victims reach closure than by any monetary prize.  

Joel was born and raised in a farming family in Iowa. Leaving that setting, he initially set out to become a journalist. Though he switched to law, he cites parts of his journalism training—rigorous investigation, meticulous fact-checking, effective communication—as enormously helpful to his work as an attorney.

Joel met and began working with Daniel Rodriguez at a different law firm in the late 1980s. Some years later, Daniel left to start Rodriguez & Associates, eventually proposing, in 2004, that Joel should come and work with him. Joel has been there ever since. 

At the firm, Joel says he covers many areas of personal injury, though he started off working on business litigation, employment law, and criminal defense. “I think all of those areas helped me at a young age to be able to get into the courtroom a lot sooner than if [I] was only doing personal injury work,” he says.

Over time, however, his interest shifted to personal injury because of the opportunity it provided in terms of helping others. Like so many at Rodriguez & Associates, that drive to help those in need motivates many of Joel’s choices, right down to the cases on which he chooses to work: “We’ve taken on cases that other firms have turned down that may be tough liability cases but we really truly wanted to try and help these people.“

He cites one product liability case from several years ago as a prime example. A family had contacted Rodriguez & Associates after the father was killed by a defective product. Joel says that another law firm had turned the case down flat out. Joel met with the family and, through what he says was some very basic research, determined that there was a real viable case against the product manufacturer based on a detail the other firm had overlooked. He won the case, and was even told by opposing counsel that the settlement received was the largest one ever paid out by the product manufacturer. 

Not that the money is the prime driver here. For Joel, the real payout was “the satisfaction of helping the family through this process and through a very difficult loss of a great loved one. In the end, we can never bring them back, but hopefully we can help [the family] through it.”

The success of that case is in no small part due to Joel’s commitment to the lengthy process of personal injury cases, which rely so much on minute details and require attorneys to keep very open minds in order to uncover new facts that could influence the outcome. “From the very beginning, we think as broadly as possible,” says Joel. Most personal injury cases are settled out of court, but Joel starts out treating each one as though it were headed to trial, in order to motivate himself and the team to put as much effort as possible into it.

That involves bringing experts onboard from the start — many firms do not bring experts in until the end — and making them part of the process. He gets other attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates involved because “the more eyes that can look at something the more possibilities come up.” And he conducts focus groups with potential juries in whichever county the case is taking place.

The long hours and attention to detail pay off, and not just in financial terms. For Joel, being an attorney is about helping those in need and bringing both material and emotional resolution to often tragic situations. For him, there is no greater settlement than that. 

 

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 2:37 pm

How Commercial Truck Accidents are Different than Passenger Vehicle Accidents

Monday, December 14, 2020

Commercial truck accidents differ from passenger vehicle accidents on many levels, including physical damage wrought, injuries sustained, multiple negligent parties, and insurance policies. If you’re involved in an accident involving a commercial truck (also referred to as a semi-truck or tractor-trailer) you will quickly realize that truck accident claims require a different approach than an accident involving only passenger vehicles, and here’s why.

Truck Accident Injuries and Physical Damages are Usually More Severe

The severity of truck accidents is often due to their weight and dimensions, which contributes to longer stopping distances, wider turn radiuses, and larger blind spots. Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds which is 20 times heavier than the average car. Due to this difference, personal injuries sustained in a truck vs. car accident are usually more catastrophic, including death. The physical damage to a vehicle in a truck accident can also be severe and often the car’s condition is considered to be “totaled” (when the damage to repair the car exceeds the value of the car).

 Multiple Negligent Parties May Be Involved in Commercial Truck Accident Claims

When there is a car crash between two vehicles, usually only one person is at fault. When there is a crash involving a commercial truck, there may be multiple negligent parties involved. On top of this, each party may have their own separate insurance policies. Negligent parties can include:

  • Truck driver
  • Truck or parts manufacturers
  • Truck mechanics
  • Parent truck company
  • Freight brokers
  • Loading companies

Regulations for Truck Drivers and the Truck Companies

Commercial truck drivers and truck companies must comply with many federal trucking regulations, including the driving hours, training, truck maintenance, and much more. Navigating violations of these regulations is not an easy task.

 Massive Insurance Policies

In a truck accident case, there is a lot of money at stake because truck insurance policies are often worth millions. Therefore, the trucking insurance policies will aggressively defend their clients to avoid liability.

Compensation for Damages Incurred in a Truck Accident

Injured parties in a truck accident have the right to be compensated for medical care, rehabilitation, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and damages associated with pain and suffering, emotional suffering, and loss of consortium or diminishment of relations with a spouse.

Investigating Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are complex. Investigations are extensive and can require many months of research in addition to knowledge of federal and state trucking regulations.

Our Bakersfield trucking accident attorneys of Rodriguez & Associates have handled hundreds of truck accidents. Founder and senior attorney Daniel Rodriguez, along with attorneys Chantal Trujillo and Danay Gonzalez, obtained the highest personal injury verdict in Kern County history of $70,578,289 for a truck vs SUV case. We are familiar with truck accidents’ engineering, truckers’ fatigue, and other issues that lead to catastrophic accidents.

If you – or someone you love – has been a victim of a truck accident, contact us today. Call us at (661) 323-1400 for a free consultation to discuss your case and legal options.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 2:38 pm