Category Archives: Personal Injury

The Long-Term Costs of a Spinal Injury

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The spinal cord is responsible for enabling communications between our brain and the rest of the body. Any damage to the spinal cord can lead to serious long-term complications, including permanent paralysis and disability. Each year, nearly 18,000 people develop a spinal cord injury.

These injuries can result in expensive medical costs, loss of income, and many other physical and psychological consequences. If you sustain a spinal cord injury in California, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for your damages.

Medical Expenses for Spinal Cord Injuries

Medical expenses for spinal cord injuries can exceed millions of dollars over a person’s lifetime. Some of the most common sources of medical costs include the following.

  • Spinal cord surgeries
  • Medical equipment, such as wheelchairs
  • Hospital stays
  • Trauma care, such as ventilator use
  • Prescription medications
  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Transportation to and from medical care
  • Ambulance fees

In addition to hospitalizations, surgeries, and routine medical care, you may need specialized treatment. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need to attend rehabilitation programs, install disability accommodations in your home or vehicle, or hire a live-in caregiver. These special needs can be very expensive, and the average person does not have the means to pay for these needs out of pocket.

What Other Losses Do Spinal Cord Injury Victims Experience?

As a spinal cord injury victim, you can sustain many other losses outside of the tangible medical expenses. A spinal cord injury can impact your ability to go to work, and you may lose weeks or months of lost wages. Sometimes, your injury can prevent you from returning to your old position, leading to the loss of future earnings and benefits.

The physical and psychological toll of a spinal cord injury is also immense. You may develop mental health conditions, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of your condition. You may be unable to achieve independence or engage in the activities you once enjoyed. These impacts are just as serious as financial losses.

Legal Options for Spinal Cord Injury Victims

A spinal cord injury can lead to thousands of dollars in medical expenses and result in the need for long-term care. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you may be unable to return to work, lose weeks or months of wages, have to pay for property repairs or replacements, and suffer from physical and emotional pain and suffering.

If you sustained a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence, you could file a lawsuit or an insurance claim against the at-fault party. Through your claim, you can recover compensation for the economic and non-economic losses you sustained due to the at-fault party’s negligence. To prove your right to compensation, you will need to provide sufficient evidence to support four key elements.

  • The at-fault party owed you a duty of care.
  • The at-fault party breached his or her duty of care.
  • The breach of duty directly caused your accident and spinal cord injury.
  • You sustained damages that you can recover in your lawsuit.

In these situations, you need an attorney on your side. A California spinal cord injury lawyer will have the resources, network, and knowledge necessary to craft a compelling case for your right to compensation. Your attorney will also leverage the full power of his or her firm’s resources to conduct an in-depth investigation and gather evidence to establish the at-fault party’s negligence. As soon as possible after your accident, contact a spinal cord injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Posted by highrank at 6:32 pm

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

Rodriguez & Associates Obtains $4 Million Dollar Verdict Against Medical Transport Company

Friday, March 19, 2021

Rodriguez & Associates Wins $4 Million Dollar Lawsuit Against Medical Transport Company

Bakersfield personal injury lawyers Daniel Rodriguez, Chantal Trujillo, Blaine Mustoe & Danay Gonzalez obtained a $4 million verdict in Kern County Superior Court on March 18, 2021. The case was filed against Tri-County Medical Transport, Inc., on behalf of a 28-year-old woman for the wrongful death of her 71-year-old father.

Her father was being transported back to his home after being picked up at a hospital after undergoing a medical procedure. The medical van driver lost control of her vehicle resulting in a traffic collision. Her father was then taken to the hospital where he was treated and released. He was then sent home and the following morning he was found unresponsive and later pronounced dead that same morning.

The lawyers for the medical transport company argued at trial that the man did not die from any injuries in this crash but rather from any one of his list of pre-existing medical conditions. That he died from diabetes (he was a double amputee), requiring dialysis treatment three times per week, high cholesterol that resulted in 80% of his heart arteries being blocked, an enlarged heart (twice the size of a normal heart), or any of his other pre-existing conditions. In the end, they argued that his pre-existing medical conditions were what killed him and that this crash had nothing to do with his death.

The Insurance Company for the medical transport tendered their last offer about two months before trial in the amount of $125,000. The Rodriguez & Associates team said, “We’ll see you in court because old peoples’ lives matter!”

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:13 pm

Rodriguez & Associates Voted Top 3 Best Law Firms in Bakersfield

Friday, March 12, 2021

Rodriguez & Associates was voted as one of the Top 3 Best Law Firms in The Bakersfield Californian 2021 Best Of Reader’s Choice Poll.

Thank you to everyone that voted for us as their favorite!

The results will be revealed in the May Issue of Bakersfield Life Magazine.

Congratulations to everyone nominated and recognized!

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:22 pm

What Is the Hours of Service Rule for Truck Drivers?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Commercial truck drivers must follow strict state and federal regulations while operating their vehicles. These rules are in place to ensure the safety of these drivers and the motorists they share the road with. One of the most important rules is known as hours of service, which establishes limits on the number of hours a driver can operate without taking a break. Unfortunately, not all drivers follow hours of service regulations, leading to serious collisions.

FMCSA Regulations for Hours of Service

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency responsible for overseeing commercial truck operations in the United States. Its hours of service rule limits the amount of time a truck driver can drive during a single shift and is in place to combat driver fatigue.

These rules are as follows.

  • Drivers that carry property may drive a maximum of 11 hours after spending 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Proper-carrying drivers may not drive more than 14 consecutive hours after beginning their shift. They must take at least 10 hours off duty before driving for 14 hours.
  • When a driver has driven for 8 cumulative hours, he or she must take a break for at least 30 consecutive minutes.
  • A driver cannot drive more than 60 to 70 hours over 7 to 8 consecutive days. A driver can restart a 7 or 8 day period after he or she takes at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
  • If a driver has a sleeper berth in his or her vehicle, he or she can divide his or her required 10-hour off-duty period. One off-duty period must be at least 2 hours long and the other must be at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.
  • If a driver encounters adverse driving conditions, he or she can extend his or her 11-hour driving limit and 14-hour maximum limit by up to 2 hours.

Why Is the Hours of Service Rule Important?

It can be very dangerous for the operator of a large semi-truck to fall asleep behind the wheel, and the hours of service rule prevents these accidents from happening. According to FMCSA regulations, a commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. These trucks are much larger and heavier than the average passenger car, and collisions between the two types of vehicles can be catastrophic.

However, truck drivers often face pressure to meet tight deadlines. They may violate these rules and spend an unsafe amount of time driving their vehicles. As a result, a driver can fall asleep behind the wheel and lose control of his or her vehicle, leading to disastrous accidents.

Fatigued driving can be extremely dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 91,000 crashes in 2017 involved drowsy drivers. These accidents contribute to an estimated 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths each year. Unfortunately, hours of service violations can lead to catastrophic accidents.

Legal Options for Truck Accident Victims

If you are in an accident with a drowsy truck driver, you have the right to hold the driver responsible for your losses. Through a truck accident lawsuit, you can recover compensation for the economic and non-economic damages you sustained due to his or her negligence. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you may also hold the trucking company liable.

In these situations, you need a truck accident attorney on your side. A lawyer can represent you in your lawsuit against the negligent driver, securing the compensation you need to heal. Contact a Bakersfield truck accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

Posted by highrank at 5:07 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

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

Kern County Lawyers for DUI Accident Victims

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Driving under the influence (DUI) is still the #1 cause of death on our roadways, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

People who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs are more likely to cause accidents that are often more serious with more severe injuries because their judgment and reaction time is impaired. While the criminal court system can punish a drunk driver for the accident, it does not compensate the victims of the accident.

Drunk Driving Civil Lawsuit

 If you have been a victim of a drunk driving accident, you have the right to pursue claims in civil court to recover monetary damages, in addition to pressing criminal charges. Even if the drunk driver is not convicted in criminal court, you may still seek compensation through a civil claim. While serious compensation will not make up for the physical and emotional costs that a drunk driving accident victim endures, it can make it easier for the person to start putting back together the pieces of their life. Financial compensation can be pursued for:

  • Medical bills and ongoing healthcare needs related to the accident
  • Pain and suffering from the accident
  • Lost wages as a result of missed work
  • Property damage to the car that was damaged or destroyed in the accident
  • Modifications to a home or car because of the injuries incurred from the accident
  • Punitive damages – intended to punish the negligent party and discourage similar negligent behavior by others

If the claim is for wrongful death, you may be able to collect damages for loss of future income, loss of consortium, and funeral expenses.

What if the Drunk Driver Has No Insurance?

Most car insurance companies offer uninsured motorist (UM) coverage so if you are involved in an accident with someone who is uninsured, you can make a claim with your insurance company to be compensated for your medical care, pain and suffering, and lost wages. However, once you file a claim, your insurance company will view you as a liability, instead of as a customer, and they will do everything in their power to minimize or avoid paying out your claim (learn more about dealing with insurance companies and Uninsured Motorist coverage here).

Another option may be to sue the drunk driver but if the judgment is returned in your favor the defendant may declare bankruptcy which means they’re not responsible for paying the judgment or they may have no money to pay the judgment. Suing the driver can be a long process that may not amount to any compensation.

A third option may be suing a third party such as a restaurant that continued to serve a customer who was already drunk or a bar that served a minor.

Third-Party Liability in a DUI Accident

 While the person who was driving under the influence may be the primary cause of the accident, there could be liability for third parties who contributed to the circumstances of the driver. Third parties that may be held responsible can include:

  • Bar or Restaurant Staff & Owners: it is their responsibility to stop serving patrons that appear to be intoxicated.
  • Hosts: people who host parties or gatherings where alcohol is served can be held liable if they continued to provide alcohol to a guest that was clearly inebriated.

Determining third party liability can be complex and involving an experienced lawyer in representing DUI accident victims is highly recommended.

We Represent DUI Accident Victims in Kern County and California

At Rodriguez & Associates, our experienced personal injury attorneys are ready to represent you or a loved one who has been injured as a result of a DUI accident. We have the resources to fully investigate the accident, contributing factors, and can determine if there is third party liability. Our Kern County lawyers are caring and empathetic with our clients and will do everything possible to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

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

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 8:51 pm

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