Category Archives: Personal Injury

How to Prove a Wrongful Death

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences we can face. The death of a family member can be even more painful to face if he or she lost her life due to someone else’s negligent, reckless, or intentionally violent behavior.

In these situations, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party to claim compensation for the damages you and your family suffered as a result of the incident that led to his or her death. However, proving a wrongful death case requires satisfying a series of specific legal elements.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

In all states, only certain individuals can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. If you qualify, you must file the lawsuit within two years of the date of your loved one’s death, and you must prove that you are one of the following people in relation to the deceased.

  • A spouse or domestic partner
  • A surviving child
  • A person who is in the line of succession to inherit the deceased’s property in the event that no spouse or child exists, such as a parent or sibling
  • A person who is financially dependent on the deceased, such as a stepchild, a putative spouse or putative children, or parents

You can file a lawsuit against any party that may be at-fault for the death of your loved one, including individuals, corporations, hospitals, or government agencies. You can file a wrongful death claim against a single person or entity, or multiple parties. However, to prove your case and claim compensation, you will need to provide evidence to support a series of four elements.

Element #1: Duty of Care

Before you can establish that a wrongful death occurred and that the at-fault party is responsible, you will first need to prove that the at-fault party owed your loved one a duty of care at the time of the accident. To prove duty of care, you can provide a copy of medical records, a lease agreement, surveillance footage, and other pieces of evidence that establish the relationship between the at-fault party and your loved one.

For example, if your loved one died in a car accident, you can prove that the at-fault driver owed him or her an obligation to follow the rules of the road and to drive safely. If your loved one died due to dangerous conditions in an apartment building, you can prove that the landlord had a duty to maintain safe premises and respond to hazardous conditions promptly.

Element #2: Breach of Care

After you establish the responsibility that the at-fault party had to your loved one, you must prove that he or she breached the duty of care in some way. Proving this element will vary based on the circumstances of your case. For example, if a driver ran a red light and crashed into your loved one’s vehicle, you can establish the breach by showing police records and surveillance footage.

Element #3: Causation

Once you establish that the breach occurred, you will next need to prove that the breach of care directly led to the death of your loved one. You can prove this by displaying medical records, witness testimony, surveillance footage, expert witnesses, and many more pieces of evidence. Your attorney can help you determine which evidence you need to prove causation.

Element #4: Damages

Finally, you must prove that the death of your loved one led to damages that you and your family members can collect in your lawsuit. Damages in wrongful death cases differ from personal injury lawsuits and can include any of the following.

  • Final medical expenses for the deceased
  • Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of consortium or companionship

If you are grappling with the death of a loved one in California, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on his or her behalf. To do so, you will need an attorney on your side who is familiar with the legal process that governs these lawsuits and who has the resources necessary to help you build your case. Contact a Bakersfield wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and to begin the filing process.

Posted by highrank at 5:06 pm

Is There a Cap on Non-Economic Damages in California?

Monday, November 25, 2019

When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you can claim compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, as well as punitive damages in some circumstances. However, many states can limit the amount that you may claim by imposing caps on certain types of damages in certain lawsuits – even if you believe the circumstances of your case warrant a higher award. The state of California imposes caps on non-economic damages in certain circumstances.

Different Types of Damages in California Lawsuits

You have the right to claim two main types of damages in a California personal injury case: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to the tangible financial losses you suffered as a result of the accident, such as medical expenses, lost wages while you were in the hospital or recovering at home, property damages sustained in the accident, and disability accommodations to your home and vehicle.

On the other hand, non-economic damages refer to the losses you cannot provide a financial paper trail to prove. They refer to the emotional repercussions of your injuries, such as the development of mental health issues like depression and anxiety, or other intangible impacts, such as chronic pain, disability, and disfigurement, or a loss of quality of life.

In certain cases, you may also be able to claim punitive damages in your lawsuit. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the at-fault party, not to compensate you for your losses. Courts will assign punitive damages on top of economic and non-economic damages in situations where the at-fault party acted in an especially negligent, reckless, or dangerous manner.

How Do California Courts Calculate Non-Economic Damages?

In the state of California, different courts calculate non-economic damages in different ways. There is no set standard under which the state will determine your non-economic damages. The jury will determine the final amount based on the circumstances of the case and what would be a reasonable amount based on your injuries.

To successfully prove your case for non-economic damages, your attorney will need to establish that you suffered the injuries as a result of the at-fault party’s negligence or recklessness. After presenting your case to the courtroom, the jury will determine whether or not you can claim compensation, and will determine how much you should receive.

California Non-Economic Damage Caps

California does not impose limits on the amounts on economic damages you can claim in a personal injury lawsuit. In most personal injury cases, California does not impose a limit on non-economic damages either – unless the case falls under certain circumstances.


  • If the lawsuit involves an instance of medical malpractice, the court caps amount of non-economic damages you can claim at $250,000.


  • If you do not carry car insurance and suffered injuries in a car accident that was not your fault, you do not have the right to claim non-economic damages. The exception to this rule is if the at-fault driver was under the influence at the time, during which you can claim non-economic damages.


  • If you suffered an injury while you were driving under the influence, even if the other driver was at-fault for the accident, you cannot claim non-economic damages if the courts convicted you of the DUI.


  • If you suffered an injury while committing or fleeing a felony crime, you cannot claim non-economic damages if you receive a felony conviction, even if you were not at-fault for the injury.


Calculating non-economic damages can be challenging, as well as collecting evidence for the economic damages you could claim and determining whether or not your case qualifies for punitive damages. However, hiring an attorney to assist you with your lawsuit can help you discover optimal pathways towards maximum possible compensation. If you have not done so already, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options and to begin the filing process. 

Posted by highrank at 8:12 pm

What Is the Difference Between Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Accidents can happen at any time and in any place, including your home, at school, or in the workplace. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to claim compensation for certain damages after an injury, like medical expenses or lost wages. However, the process you enter to obtain this compensation will change based on whether you suffered an injury at work or not.


California Workers’ Compensation Law


In the state of California, you can collect compensation for injuries you suffer on the job. You must prove that your workplace duties caused the injury, such as overexertion while lifting boxes or a slip and fall on your construction site. Through a workers’ compensation claim, you can collect benefits for lost wages and disability, as well as funds for your injury-related medical expenses.


Only injuries that occur during the course of your job qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you suffer an injury during a commute, on your lunch hour, or even while stepping outside for a quick 15-minute break, workers’ compensation insurance will most likely not approve benefits for you.


If someone else’s negligence or recklessness caused your accident, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim against him or her – even if it happens on the job. This is true in cases where a third-party causes your injury at work, a defective product harms you, or your employer acts in an intentionally harmful manner.


What Is a Personal Injury Case?


Whether you suffer an injury at work that doesn’t fall under workers’ compensation or you are in an accident outside of work, you may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. For an accident to qualify under personal injury, someone else’s negligence must have caused it to occur.


You can claim many different types of damages in personal injury cases, including the following.


  • Past and future medical expenses related to the injury, including medications, surgeries, and doctor’s visits
  • Lost wages during recovery time
  • Emotional damages, like pain and suffering and a loss of quality of life
  • Disability accommodations to a home or vehicle
  • Property damage sustained in the accident
  • Punitive damages in situations where the at-fault party acted in an especially reckless or negligent manner


What Should You Do After an Accident?


If you are in an accident, you will need to take certain steps to preserve the evidence necessary to file your insurance claim, lawsuit, or workers’ compensation claim.


If you suffer an injury on the job, take the following steps.


  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your employer may require you to visit a specific doctor or you can choose one on your own – verify with your employer before you leave.
  • Report the injury to your employer within 30 days of the accident.
  • Receive your workers’ compensation claim form from your employer and complete it. Contact an attorney if you need assistance with your claim.
  • Receive a decision from the workers’ compensation insurer within 90 days of filing.
  • If the insurance company denies your claim, you can file an appeal. Contact an attorney to help you build your case.


If you suffer an injury anywhere outside of work or during a lunch break, take the following steps.


  • Call 911 and bring law enforcement and medical attention to the scene immediately.
  • Take photographs of your injuries, any vehicles involved, and the area where the accident occurred.
  • Collect the contact information for the at-fault party and any witnesses in the area.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible for your injuries and save all documentation.
  • Contact a personal injury attorney to assist you with your insurance claim or lawsuit.


Personal injury and workers’ compensation are two different legal processes that can lead to different types of compensation or benefits. The main difference between the two is whether or not you suffered your injury on the job.


If you are unsure about your case’s category or wish to discuss the legal processes further, contact a California attorney who works with both personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Your attorney will be able to advise you on which path you should pursue to claim compensation.

Posted by highrank at 6:29 pm

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Slip and Fall?

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Homeowners have the responsibility to ensure that their property is free of any hazards to visitors and occupants – including any object or condition that can lead to a slip and fall. Homeowner’s insurance policies typically cover the cost of medical expenses and other damages in case someone suffers an injury on the property, including slip and fall cases. However, the injured person will need to prove that the homeowner was negligent in his or her upkeep of the property to successfully claim that compensation.

Proving a Slip and Fall Case in California

In the state of California, you can claim compensation under homeowner’s insurance if the homeowner’s negligence was responsible for your slip and fall. You cannot claim compensation if the accident was not a result of an action by a homeowner or due to your own negligence.

For example, if you trip on wet grass on the homeowner’s front lawn after a rainy night, you cannot hold the homeowner liable for your damages. However, if you trip over a broken stair that the homeowner was aware of and suffer injuries, you could file an insurance claim for compensation.

To prove a slip and fall case in California and establish homeowner negligence, you and your personal injury attorney will need to satisfy the following elements when speaking to the insurance company.

  • You will need to prove that the homeowner owed you a duty of care. If you were a visitor and not a trespasser, the homeowner has a responsibility to maintain safe premises. The homeowner also has the responsibility to fix any issues he or she is aware of that could lead to an injury.
  • Next, you will need to establish that the homeowner breached his or her duty of care to you in some way. This will likely involve proving that he or she knew about the issue that caused your slip and fall and failed to take action to fix it.
  • Then, you will need to prove that the homeowner’s breach of care led to your injuries. This element depends on what caused your slip and fall. A broken stair, failing to shovel ice or snow, or unsecure area rugs are all common causes of slip and falls on private property.
  • Finally, you will need to prove that you suffered damages that you can claim through the insurance company. These damages must be a direct result of the slip and fall that the homeowner’s negligence caused.

What Damages Can You Claim Through Homeowners’ Insurance?

Homeowners’ insurance policies typically offer two types of claim coverage: liability coverage and medical payment coverage, often referred to as med pay. Through these sets of coverage, you can collect compensation for any medical expenses you incur, lost wages during recovery time, property damage, and more. Speak to your attorney to determine which damages you may be eligible for.

However, you can only claim compensation up to the policy limits that the insurance company sets. If you suffered significant and severe injuries, are grappling with emotional damages, or missed months of work, you may not recover enough through an insurance claim to cover these costs. The insurance company may also offer you a settlement below what you need to recover.

In these situations, it may be best to file a personal injury lawsuit instead of an insurance claim. There are very few limits to the damages you can claim in a slip and fall lawsuit, as compared to the insurance process. Speak to your attorney to discuss your legal options and to determine which pathway is best for you.

Whether you slip and fall on someone else’s property or you are a homeowner facing a lawsuit, having homeowner’s insurance is crucial to ensure that an injured person receives the funds he or she needs to recover. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be able to claim compensation through homeowner’s insurance for a slip and fall. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and to begin the filing process.

Posted by highrank at 6:24 pm

Can a Spouse Sue for Loss of Consortium?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

If your spouse is in an accident that someone else’s negligence caused, the aftermath can be devastating for the entire family. You and your family may have to deal with unexpected medical bills, funeral costs, and emotional damages, like mental anguish and a loss of consortium. Whether an accident leads to your spouse’s death or an injury so severe that your spouse cannot provide the same support as he or she did in the past, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party for loss of consortium.

What Is Loss of Consortium?

Loss of consortium refers to the loss of moral support, companionship, or intimacy following an accident. You can claim non-economic damages for loss of consortium in both personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits under California law.

There are two main types of damages you can claim in a lawsuit following an accident: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to the tangible losses you and your spouse suffered, such as medical bills or lost wages. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, refer to the losses you cannot prove a financial burden or provide a receipt for. Instead, the damage is emotional – and loss of consortium falls under this category.

How to Prove a Loss of Consortium Case in California

If you are filing a lawsuit and claiming loss of consortium damages after your spouse’s accident, you will need to work closely with a California personal injury attorney to prove your case. In order to successfully claim this compensation, you and your lawyer will need to satisfy the following four elements.

  • First, you will need to prove that your spouse suffered injuries in an accident that someone else’s negligence caused. You will have to prove that the at-fault party owed your spouse a duty of care and breached it, leading to his or her injuries or death. You can satisfy this element in a number of ways, including medical records, surveillance footage, witness testimony, and expert testimony.
  • Second, you will need to prove that you and your spouse are in a legal marriage or registered domestic partnership that was valid at the time of his or her injury. You can prove this element by providing your marriage license or domestic partnership paperwork.
  • Third, you will need to prove that you lost your spouse’s consortium as a result of the injury or death. This element can be difficult to prove, since you cannot always see emotional damages. You may need to discuss the impacts that the injury has on your spouse’s abilities or behavior, and how that impacts your relationship. Speak to your attorney to determine which pieces of evidence you should present.
  • Fourth, you will need to prove that the injury and the accident that caused the injury is at fault for your loss of consortium. This portion of the lawsuit can be difficult to prove as well, since you will have to establish that the loss came from the accident itself instead of an outside event, like marital troubles. Your attorney can assist you with satisfying this element.

How Do California Courts Calculate Loss of Consortium?

If you are successful in proving the loss of consortium, the court will award you a settlement for your damages. Understanding how much you receive can be difficult, since there is no specific number attached to this type of loss. In addition, settlements vary from case to case; the amount you receive will depend on the extent and severity of the damage.

The court will likely consider the following factors when calculating loss of consortium.

  • How severe your spouse’s injuries are
  • The emotional trauma you and your spouse have suffered
  • How the loss of consortium disrupts your daily life
  • How long it may take for your spouse to recover
  • Whether or not the injuries are permanent or long-term

If your family is experiencing loss of consortium after your spouse suffers severe injuries in an accident that was not his or her fault, you can claim compensation for these damages in California civil court. However, proving a loss of consortium case can be difficult depending on the circumstances. Contact a California personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and begin the lawsuit filing process.

Posted by highrank at 6:12 pm

Can I Claim Workers’ Compensation for Stress?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Workers’ compensation claims can involve numerous types of accidents and injuries, from falling from scaffolding to suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome after writing all day. However, you may wonder if non-physical injuries and ailments, such as mental stress, could be grounds for a workers’ compensation claim. While the legal framework for these claims can be tricky, it is possible to claim workers’ compensation for stress.

California Workers’ Compensation Laws

Compared to many other states, California is ahead of its counterparts when it comes to workers’ compensation. While the state does not explicitly name stress as an injury you can claim compensation for, you can file a claim for mental health injuries that you suffer as a result of your job.

However, you will need to prove that you suffered your mental injury as a result of your job. Providing evidence for this claim can be very difficult, since you cannot show a physical injury. As a result, many employers and insurance companies can deny mental health-related workers’ comp claims.

The Definition of Psychiatric Injuries in California

In order to receive benefits for workers’ compensation, you need to prove that the injury is workplace-related. For a mental health claim, this means showing that you suffered your stress due to stressful conditions at work. Due to this injury, you cannot perform certain tasks on the job and may have to take time off of work.

You must meet all of the following requirements to successfully file a workers’ compensation claim for a psychiatric injury.

  • A doctor diagnosed you with a mental disorder established by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).
  • You worked for your employer for at least six months. If your injury came as a result of a sudden, extraordinary condition, you do not need to meet this requirement.
  • You had to receive medical treatment or experienced disability as a result of the mental disorder.
  • You can prove that your working conditions were the predominant cause of your mental disorder or psychiatric injury.
  • You did not suffer the injury as a result of any personal, good faith actions of your employer.

To prove that you satisfy these requirements, you may need to produce documentation such as medical records. You will need to collect additional pieces of evidence that prove your stress injury is work-related. Contact an attorney to determine what evidence you should submit along with your claim.

What Benefits Can You Receive Under Workers’ Comp?

While you may be able to claim certain types of benefits for physical injuries under California workers’ compensation, you may not be able to claim these same benefits for a psychiatric injury. Because of the way that the system verifies these claims, the insurance company may limit the amount you can receive.

For stress injuries, you could receive compensation for medical treatment. You may also be able to claim temporary disability benefits if you need to take time off of work due to your condition. However, you may not be able to receive permanent disability benefits since the system assumes that you could return to work. The company may assume that you could find a less stressful position that will not aggravate your condition.

Do You Need an Attorney for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?

If you are attempting to file a workers’ compensation claim for a stress-related injury, you may run into a few issues. Since the evidence is not physical, you may find that your employer and the insurance company can deny or dismiss your claim. In these situations, you need an attorney to assist you with your case.

A California personal injury attorney will know the processes you need to follow to receive your settlement. In addition, your lawyer can launch an in-depth investigation into your stress injury, helping you build a more compelling case to the insurance company. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after you discover your injury to begin the claims process.

Posted by highrank at 6:45 pm

What to Do When You Are the Victim of a Dog Bite

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Injuries from dog bites are serious affairs that can leave victims in significant emotional and psychological pain. In these cases, victims have the right to seek fair compensation for things like medical expenses incurred when treating wounds from the attack.

Like many areas of personal injury law, however, dealing with dog bites can quickly become a complicated procedure best dealt with by having an experienced personal injury attorney at your side. Even before that, it also helps to understand a few basic facts about making a personal injury claim in the aftermath of a dog bite.

Who’s Liable?

California has very strict laws around liability involving dog bites. According to the California Civil Code Section 3342, dog owners are “strictly liable” for any injuries their dog causes. That means owners are liable even if their dog has no history of violence or aggressive behavior. All the victim has to do is show they were bitten in a public place or when lawfully on private land, and the owner is responsible for damages.

There are a couple exceptions to this. If you were trespassing or it’s shown you provoked the dog (teasing or harming it), you may not be eligible to claim damages. If the dog was carrying out duties as a police or military dog, that could further complicate your ability to press a claim. An experienced attorney will understand the complexities behind situations like these and be able to coach you through appropriate next steps.

What to do if Bitten by a Dog

Go to a doctor. First and foremost, seek medical attention immediately. Serious infection or worse can develop from a dog bite left untreated, especially if you’re unsure whether the dog was vaccinated.

Even when the bite seems minor, go to an emergency room or your doctor, so you can obtain evaluations and statements proving your injury is the result of the bite. You will need records of any medical examinations, test results, follow-up care, and prescriptions when you make your claim for compensation. If you or your child sustain a psychological fear of dogs after the bite that warrants medical attention from a mental health professional, you will need records of those visits as well.

Gather evidence. If you’re able, take photos of your injury before medical treatment begins. Get photos of the dog involved in the attack, and record important information like the location of the attack, the dog’s owners, and, if possible, the animal’s vaccination history. If witnesses were nearby, try to gather statements from them. Also save any clothing or personal property torn or bloodied because of the attack.

File a report. You should report the incident to your local animal control agency. Not only is this important for the safety of your entire neighborhood, it also provides further documentation you will use when making a claim for compensation.

Find an experienced attorney. Any time you plan on seeking a claim for compensation after a dog bite, you should consult a personal injury attorney who can discuss your options with you and guide you through the process. Your attorney should have experience dealing with cases involving dog bites. They should also understand some of the nuances surrounding this area of personal injury law.

Rodriguez & Associates have decades of experience working with victims of dog bites in the State of California and are committed to helping clients receive the compensation they deserve. To speak with an attorney about your case at no charge, reach out to us today.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 3:45 pm

Is There a Cap on Personal Injury Claims?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim, you may wonder what your chances are of receiving a multi-million-dollar settlement like some of the cases you read about in the media. Settlement amounts vary from case to case, and different states may place a cap on the amount of damages you are allowed to collect in these lawsuits. You may wonder if California has the same restrictions – and here’s what you need to know.

Does California Have Economic Damage Caps?

When you file a personal injury lawsuit in California civil court, you can claim compensation for a number of losses associated with the accident that led to your injuries. These monetary losses, also known as damages, can cover a wide range of expenses and consequences.

The most common and easiest to prove form of damages are economic damages. These are more  objective and usually involve hard documentation, including invoices, receipts, credit card statements, and medical reports. Economic damages usually have a monetary impact and can involve the following expenses.

  • Past and future medical bills related to the injuries sustained in the accident
  • Household services and vocational rehabilitation
  • Lost income and loss of earning capacity due to disability and recovery from the injuries
  • Property damage
  • Disability renovation accommodations

Because economic damages are directly related to the monetary losses suffered by you, the state of California does not place a limit on the amount you can collect in a lawsuit. However, you will need to prove that you sustained these injuries as a result of the negligence of the other person involved in your accident.

Non-Economic Damage Caps in California

Non-economic damages are harder to prove, since they involve the intangible losses, emotional damage, and shifts in your life you suffered as a result of your injuries. Your attorney can help you estimate how much of these damages you may qualify for – typically, courts use a multiplier system or set values to determine how much you can receive.

Some of the most common forms of non-economic damages include the following.

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Humiliation
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities

California does place some limits on who can collect non-economic damages. In most cases, uninsured drivers cannot claim non-economic damages. However, uninsured drivers can claim these damages if the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and received a DUI conviction.

In addition, if you file a medical malpractice claim, you cannot claim more than $250,000 in non-economic damages.

Punitive Damage Limits in California

In certain circumstances, the courts may award you a certain amount of punitive damages. The purpose of these damages is not to compensate you for your injuries and losses – instead, the intention of punitive damages is to punish the at-fault party in your claim.

The courts will grant punitive damages in situations where the at-fault party acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. Usually, the at-fault party harmed you either intentionally or in an act of extreme negligence and recklessness.

To determine the amount of punitive damages you can receive, the court will take into consideration the following criteria

  • How severe the act of harm was to you
  • The relationship between the injuries you suffered and the amount of damages
  • How much money it will take to punish the at-fault party

Unlike many other states, California does not set a limit on how much in punitive damages you can receive. The more reckless or dangerous the behavior, the higher the amount will be.

The amount of damages you can collect in your personal injury lawsuit will depend on the facts of your case – from how much you paid in medical expenses to the emotional pain and suffering the accident inflicted on you. To accurately calculate your damages, contact a California personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you find the optimal pathway to maximum possible compensation.

Posted by highrank at 11:43 pm

What Schools Can Learn from the Bowe Cleveland Case About Gun Violence

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

When it comes to gun violence in schools, questions over how to best protect our students are becoming more and more critical to answer. Last year was a record year for gun violence in schools, and students are at risk of not only mass tragedies on the scale of Parkland and Sandy Hook, but also of individual targeting.

A case Rodriguez & Associates took to trial this year underscores this issue, and raises even more questions, specifically around how much schools themselves should or can do when it comes to preventing gun violence on premises.

Bowe Cleveland, a former student at Taft Union High School in Kern County, California, was shot in the chest with a shotgun by fellow student Bryan Oliver on January 10, 2013.

Oliver pleaded no contest to two accounts of attempted murder without premeditation and was sentenced to 27 years to life. But Cleveland argued that school administrators ignored red flags about Oliver and could have prevented the attack in the first place. After suing the school district, Cleveland was awarded $3.8 million in damages this past July. The case was the second school shooting in the U.S. to ever go to civil trial.  The first such trial was sometime in the 1990’s.

Cleveland accused the school district of ignoring numerous threats made by the shooter in the ten months leading up to the shooting. Those red flags included threats by the shooter of bringing a gun to school and shooting 50 students and blowing up the school auditorium during a pep rally. The school administrators received reports not only from students but even from teachers and staff that they were scared of what the shooter might do.

Cleveland also accused the school district of violating their own written safety protocol.  This written safety protocol called for a threat assessment plan on how to deal with students making such threats.  The school district came up with a weak plan and then failed to modify it in the face of continuing threats made by the shooter.  Finally, Cleveland accused the school district of violating their own written safety protocol because they were more concerned with their school image than the safety of their kids.

Cleveland suffered severe injuries after the shooting that required 30 surgeries over the past six and a half years. During his opening statement in the second phase of the trial, attorney Daniel Rodriguez said Cleveland faced lifelong continuing medical problems due to the shooting, and that he still deals with lead pellets embedded in his body.

This case, however, highlights the need for schools to not simply pay lip service to student safety but take the necessary actions to help prevent gun violence on school property.

While it is impossible to predict every single situation that might occur, raising awareness and taking steps in the face of suspicious activity could prevent cases like Bowe’s from repeating themselves in the future.

At Rodriguez & Associates, we stand behind the communities we serve, including schools and the students that attend them day after day. We hope this verdict can serve as a wake-up call across the nation, and stand willing to assist and play our role in making a change.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 8:06 pm

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in California

Monday, July 22, 2019

Most of us are at least familiar with the term “statute of limitations,” but when it comes to understanding it in the context of a personal injury, there are hidden details and complexities to be aware of because they can drastically affect your ability to file a claim.

The Statute of Limitations in California is defined as “the deadline for filing a lawsuit.” You must make a claim for your losses within that timeframe or risk losing any legal right to compensation. The Statute of Limitation varies from one type of claim to the next. For personal injury, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a claim in the State of California.

Personal injury can be anything from events where the other party had ill intentions, such as assault, battery, or emotional abuse, to accidents where there was no intent to harm, such as car crashes and injuries that happen in the workplace.

While two years is the standard amount of time to file claims against such injuries, there are exceptions — and in certain cases you have more or less time. Here are a few scenarios worth getting familiar with so you understand how much time you really have to file a claim.

Cases Against the Government

If the at-fault party is the government, you have six months from the time of the injury to file what’s called an “administrative claim.” This is a claim you file with the appropriate government office or agency before you file in court. The six-month timeframe only applies to the administrative claim, for which you’ll need to download and fill out government forms.

Delayed Discovery of Injury

As mentioned above, the Statute of Limitations in the State of California is two years from the date of your injury. However, not every injury is apparent immediately following an event. For example, injuries from automobile accidents can take weeks and sometimes months to surface and cause the victim discomfort.

In such cases, the “delayed discovery” rule applies. Here, you have one year from the time you discovered — or reasonably should have discovered — your injury to file a claim.

When the Statute of Limitations Is Tolled

In some cases, the Statute of Limitation is “tolled” — that is, the time limit for filing a claim stops running. This applies to cases where the defendant is a minor, out of the state, in prison, or legally insane. In these situations, the statute stops counting down until the person’s situation ends, whether that means they turn 18 years of age, return to the state, are released from prison, or are deemed to have their mental state of mind restored.

Whether or not the other party had intent to harm, you are entitled to compensation any time an injury occurs. While you should always try to file a claim as soon as the injury occurs, major injuries are one of life’s unexpected challenges, and not everyone is able to deal with the paperwork and processes that go along with filing a claim right away. It helps to know beforehand your rights around this process in the event of a delay.

Once you know the basics, you should always seek a reputable lawyer who can further help you navigate this complex system and receive the compensation you deserve for you and your family’s peace of mind. Rodriguez & Associates has a long history of helping clients through personal injury claims. If you or a loved one has been injured, reach out today to start a conversation. We have an office in Bakersfield and help personal injury victims throughout the state.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 6:00 pm