Category Archives: Personal Injury

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

We Value Your Feedback

Monday, June 17, 2019

Our Bakersfield personal injury law firm helps victims focus on getting back on their feet by holding the wrongdoer accountable. Helping victims of personal injury is what we do best. And over the years, we’ve had the privilege of helping many individuals and families get back on their feet.

If you’re one of the ones we’ve helped, we would appreciate it if you could leave us a review and feedback online. This helps more individuals and families find us, especially when they really need us.

Here is the link to leave a review: https://rodriguezlaw.net/reviews

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 5:56 pm

Can You Sue a Tow Truck Company for Damaging Your Car?

Monday, June 3, 2019

Getting your car towed comes with its own level of stress and hassle depending on the circumstances. Regardless of the situation, towing could cost money in addition to the parking fine or cause to your vehicle damage as a result of moving your car. To make matters worse, sometimes your car gets damaged in the towing process, causing additional distress and costing more money to repair the damage. Suing a tow company is not always an option, but it is always best to verify if you can receive compensation for the damages your car sustained.

California Tow Law

California tow law dictates that a car owner can sue a tow company only if the company doesn’t follow the law. In this case, a car owner can sue the tow company for up to four times the cost of the towing service, along with storage and the fees required to hire a personal injury attorney in some cases.

Burden of Proof

If a towing company practices improper towing practices, they are liable for the damage done to your car. This is the most direct route in pursuing a personal injury claim. If the damage was not directly related to the company’s towing practices, a case becomes more complicated, and harder to prove.

Tow-related damage is the most effective type of proof you can possess. Although it might be hard to prove exactly what went wrong, documenting your vehicle before it gets towed is one way to prove that damage occurred during the tow-process. However, this option isn’t available for someone who isn’t present when the towing company towed their car. In this case, the claimant must present evidence of damage specific to the towing process. The most common types of tow-related damage that occur in improper towing practices are:

  • Bumper damage
  • Tire damage
  • Windshield damage

Damage done to either of these car parts via dents, scratches, or cracks, could imply negligent towing practices.

Can I File a Claim?

Any car owner can file a claim against a towing company, but it is in their best interest to consult with an attorney before pressing charges. Many firms provide free consultation and can let you know if your case has any grounds for success against the tow company. If you do have a valid case, an attorney will help you gather evidence and file your claim.

A claim filed for car damage during a towing procedure falls into your local small claims court circuit. When filing, it is important to emphasize that the tow company’s negligence is the cause of your car’s damage. Your attorney can help you prove the following things within your case’s investigation:

  • The tow truck driver and company owed a duty to you, which was to tow your truck in a manner that prevents accidents from happening. California implies this under the state’s tow law.
  • The tow truck driver or company breached this duty. Outside of the potential for tower negligence in hitching and driving your car, faulty components of the tow truck could have also contributed to the damage. This would still fall onto the tow company but remove the driver from the equation.
  • You can trace your car’s damage to the negligence of the towing company.

You can also file a claim with your insurance company. You will still need to provide proof in this scenario, but court involvement is typically not necessary. Your insurance company’s claims adjusters help in the process of settling with third-party entities in accidents like this.

Sovereign Immunity

One key detail that will impact your claim is whether the government owns the tow company. All government-owned vehicles, including those involved in public transit, enjoy protection under sovereign immunity. This means that they have protection from citizens filing lawsuits against them. While this protection doesn’t extend to privately owned tow trucks, it is always best to check.

Suing a tow truck for damaging your car can be difficult if you cannot prove that their towing process directly caused the damage. However, you should consult with an attorney to determine this rather than making the call yourself.

Posted by highrank at 4:06 pm

Meet Kern County Personal Injury Attorney Danay Gonzalez

Monday, June 3, 2019

Attorney Danay Gonzalez has a powerful voice. She uses it to sing ballads in English and Spanish; as a personal injury lawyer, she uses it to advocate for those who need it the most.

Attorney Danay Gonzalez Bakersfield

Growing up in Lamont, CA, Danay observed many of her classmates were afraid to speak up for themselves out of fear of getting their families in trouble or deported. At the same time, she admired Daniel Rodriguez, a successful member of the Hispanic community and a prominent attorney, who advocated for her friends and neighbors. She knew that she wanted to help others too.

Pursuing her dream of becoming an attorney, Danay attended UCLA and received her undergraduate degree in Political Science. She went on to receive her JD from the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University. During her years in law school, she worked in the summers as a law clerk at Rodriguez & Associates so it was only natural that she would come back to her community and work for our firm after successfully passing the bar exam on the first try. When Danay is at work, she is passionate about fighting for people’s rights and helping them find their own voice. If Danay is your attorney, you know that you are in good hands.

If you have been injured, let us help you put back together the pieces of your life. Schedule a no-charge consultation by calling 1-800-585-9262.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 1:33 pm

What is Personal Injury Protection?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Every state in the U.S. has unique laws for handling car accidents. Most states follow fault-based systems that require drivers to determine fault for accidents and file claims for coverage against at-fault drivers’ auto insurance policies. However, several states use no-fault systems, and personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage is the standard for auto insurance coverage in these states.

In the 12 states requiring PIP coverage, state laws determine how and when drivers may pursue legal claims for auto accidents. For example, a no-fault state may require drivers to use their own PIP to cover damages after an accident. However, if an at-fault driver caused a catastrophic injury or the incident otherwise meets the criteria for legal action under state law, the injured driver may file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Ultimately, states that uphold no-fault standards for car accidents do so to curb the number of lawsuits filed against at-fault drivers.

How Does PIP Work?

PIP coverage is an extension of auto insurance that can cover medical expenses and lost wages for the policyholder after an accident, and this type of coverage applies regardless of how the accident happened or who was at fault. In no-fault states, drivers must purchase and maintain auto insurance policies that include the state’s minimum PIP coverage. For example, one state may require $20,000 in minimum coverage while another may require $25,000 or $30,000. In most fault-based states, PIP is an optional form of coverage that may augment an auto liability policy.

Fault-based states usually require drivers to purchase auto insurance that includes bodily injury and death liability coverage for a single person in an accident caused by the policyholder, total accident liability coverage for a single accident caused by the policyholder, and property damage coverage. While a driver may legally drive with just a minimum policy, the coverage included in minimum auto insurance policies only covers damages the policyholder causes. If the policyholder sustains injuries and other losses, he or she may need additional coverage to pay for those expenses.

Purchasing Auto Insurance

Drivers with minimum coverage policies should strongly consider purchasing additional insurance coverage that allows for a decent buffer in the event of an accident. In fault-based states, this may mean adding comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, underinsured driver coverage, and/or PIP to a minimum policy. In no-fault states, PIP is mandatory, and each state determines how much a driver must carry and what types of medical treatment qualify for PIP coverage.

Every driver should strive to secure an acceptable amount of coverage with a reasonable monthly premium. More extensive coverage will lead to higher premiums, but offer a better buffer for an injured driver in the event of an accident. For example, if a negligent driver without insurance causes an accident in a fault-based state, the injured driver would file a claim against the negligent driver’s auto insurance policy. Since the at-fault driver is uninsured, the injured driver would need to file a claim against his or her own policy but may only do so in most cases if the driver purchased underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.

PIP may be optional in fault-based states, but every driver should consider the potential value of purchasing this type of coverage. PIP does not consider fault, so an injured driver can secure coverage for medical expenses and other losses after an accident no matter how the accident happened.

Additional coverage on an auto insurance policy can help a driver by providing peace of mind when an accident happens, but more expensive coverage will cost more in monthly premiums. Drivers should try to strike a healthy balance of coverage and affordability. While other drivers may face mounting economic pressure from an accident due to lack of coverage, a driver with PIP can use this coverage for immediate medical bills and other expenses while he or she determines his or her next steps.

 

 

 

Posted by highrank at 10:46 pm

What Is Second Impact Syndrome?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Concussions are common injuries from vehicle accidents, violence, and sports accidents. These injuries can range in severity and cause a host of unpredictable symptoms, some of which may impact the victim’s quality of life for months or even years.

A concussion occurs when an external force causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull. This may cause swelling or even bleeding, and the victim may experience unpleasant symptoms for several days, but most concussion victims make full recoveries within a few weeks.

Symptoms of a concussion can include short-term and long-term headaches, personality changes, symptoms of depression, and more symptoms that vary from person to person. One of the most dangerous symptoms is increased susceptibility to future concussions. A person who suffers a concussion can usually receive medical care to make a full recovery. However, Second Impact Syndrome (SIS), is a possibility after any concussion and this condition is almost always fatal.

What Is SIS?

SIS occurs when the brain swells from a concussion before the symptoms of the first concussion subside. For example, an athlete suffers a concussion during practice and receives doctor’s orders to avoid training for several weeks. A few days after his initial symptoms subside, he has a minor car accident that causes a second concussion. If the swelling and other symptoms of the first concussion had not yet subsided, he could experience SIS and die within minutes.

Anyone who suffers any kind of head injury faces a risk of concussion. If you find yourself in this situation and experience any symptoms of a concussion such as confusion, dizziness, nausea, or fall unconscious for any period, seek medical treatment immediately.

Concussion Treatment

The best treatment for a concussion is rest, though a doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to ease other symptoms. Rest serves two main functions: to allow the brain to physically heal from the concussion, and to keep the patient away from potentially dangerous situations that could lead to SIS.

A physician will usually recommend avoiding sports and strenuous activity for an extended time, and he or she may also recommend avoiding driving if possible. Patients should follow these instructions very carefully and use extreme caution during any activity that could lead to a head injury or they risk developing potentially fatal SIS.

Patients who fully recover from their concussions will still have an increased susceptibility to future concussions, so they must use care when deciding which activities to perform following concussion treatment. A second impact may show no visible signs at first and the victim may feel well enough to continue whatever he or she was doing only for symptoms to rapidly worsen within minutes, leading to the victim’s collapse and loss of consciousness.

Concussion and SIS Prevention

While a concussion may be treatable with swift medical attention, SIS can prove fatal within minutes of a secondary impact. Those who are lucky enough to survive SIS usually develop permanently disabling brain disorders. The best method to prevent this is to prevent a primary concussion whenever and however possible.

When playing sports, wear necessary protective headgear and only play in stride with your skill level. When driving, wear a seatbelt and follow the traffic laws to limit both the risk of an accident and your potential injuries in an unavoidable accident. After suffering a concussion, pay very close attention to your doctor’s orders and treatment advice.

Even after making a full recovery, use extra caution for several weeks to several months following the disappearance of your concussion symptoms. It is always best to limit your risk of a concussion at all times and use extreme caution during any activity that could potentially result in a head injury. For additional information regarding securing compensation to help with medical bills, pain and suffering, and the like, speak with a skilled brain injury lawyer in Bakersfield.

Posted by highrank at 6:09 pm