Category Archives: Personal Injury

What Are the Signs of Negligent Driving?

Thursday, June 25, 2020

California follows a traditional fault-based system when it comes to car accidents, meaning that the person responsible for the collision must pay for the damages of the victims. To prove that the other driver was at-fault, you must establish that he or she engaged in negligent driving at the time of the accident. Proving negligent driving can be difficult, but you can identify this behavior by looking for common signs.

Common Types of Negligent Driving Behaviors

Under the law, all drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and follow all applicable traffic rules and regulations. This is known as the driver duty of reasonable care.

To keep everyone on the road safe, drivers must uphold their duty of reasonable care whenever they are behind the wheel. However, some drivers can cause accidents by engaging in negligent driving behaviors.

Common examples of negligent driving include the following.

  • Failure to follow the speed limit: Speed limits are in place for a reason, and it is important for drivers to follow these rules. In addition, drivers have a responsibility to drive at an appropriate speed for the weather conditions, visibility, and road conditions. If a driver operates a vehicle at a higher speed than is reasonably safe, he or she can put other drivers at risk and commit an act of negligence.
  • Violation of California law: All states have laws regarding how drivers should behave on the road, from avoiding drugs and alcohol to yielding the right of way to pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers. If a driver violates state traffic laws, he or she is engaging in negligent driving.
  • Failure to keep a proper lookout: As a driver, you never know what unexpected hazards or conditions may appear at any given time. Drivers have a duty to watch for pedestrians, drivers, and other road conditions that could lead to a dangerous situation. If a driver doesn’t keep a proper lookout, he or she may lose control of the vehicle, crash into a piece of property, or collide into another driver or person.

How to Prove Negligence in California

The concept of negligence is integral to all personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims involving negligent drivers. To prove the presence of negligence in your car accident, you and your attorney will need to gather evidence to support four important elements.

  • The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care at the time of the crash.
  • The at-fault driver breached his or her duty of care to you.
  • The breach of duty directly caused the accident and your injuries.
  • You can collect damages for your losses through your claim.

As discussed earlier, the at-fault driver can breach his or her duty of reasonable care to you in a number of ways, from speeding to running a stop sign. The driver may also breach his or her duty of care to you by violating California law, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Your attorney will need to conduct an in-depth investigation to determine the exact cause of the crash and why this cause is indicative of negligent driving behaviors. He or she may also use your medical records, expert testimony, witnesses from the scene, surveillance footage, and other pieces of evidence to prove causation and your damages.

Committing an act of negligence while driving can be very dangerous, leading to thousands of dollars in financial damages, severe injuries, and emotional turmoil. If you are the victim of a negligent driver, contact a Bakersfield car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for compensation.

 

Posted by highrank at 10:11 pm

How Long Do Commercial Truck Accident Cases Take to Settle?

Monday, June 22, 2020

Settling a case that involves a large commercial truck (such as a tractor trailer) often takes longer to resolve than an accident involving only cars because there are more components to the claim. In our experience as truck accident attorneys in Bakersfield, these are some of the factors that are involved.

Liability Investigation

An investigation of who was at fault will be done by your attorney and also by the truck’s insurance company. Many truck companies hold insurance policies that are $1 million or more so their goal will be to keep the claim amount as low as possible. Their investigation will try to build a case showing the driver was not at fault – or was only partially at fault. Because they will examine every possibility, investigations may take months or even years.

Injuries and Medical Treatment

Most personal injury cases are resolved when the victim is fully recovered, but injuries that involve a semi-truck may be more traumatic with a longer recovery period, thereby increasing the time it takes to settle the case. Settling the case without a clear picture of total injuries and/or necessary future medical treatment, is not advisable because it may result in an amount that will not fully compensate the victim.

Insurance Company Negotiations for a Settlement

As stated above, insurance companies have much more to lose if the truck driver is found to be at fault so they will aggressively defend the driver and the trucking company. Therefore, negotiations between the truck insurance company attorneys and your attorneys may be very lengthy. If nothing can be agreed upon, a lawsuit will be the next step.

A truck accident is unique and unlike an accident involving only cars. If you’re involved in a commercial truck accident, you will want to hire an attorney who is an expert in the field. Our Bakersfield truck accident lawyers have handled hundreds of truck accidents. We obtained the highest personal injury verdict (over $70 million) in Kern County history for an accident involving a big rig.

If you have been involved in a truck accident, call our Bakersfield personal injury law firm at (661) 323-1400 or 800-585-9262 to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 6:51 pm

What Is an Assumption of Risk?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the person you are holding liable in your case will try to develop certain defenses to deflect the blame away from him or her and place it on you. One common strategy that defense lawyers use in personal injury cases is the assumption of risk, which states that you understood the risks associated with the negligent actions of the at-fault party.

 

While facing an assumption of risk argument can be nerve-wracking, you can combat these claims. With an attorney on your side, you can defend yourself against this argument and prove the at-fault party’s negligence.

 

How to Prove Assumption of Risk

 

The goal of a personal injury case is for you to prove that the at-fault party in your claim acted in negligence at the time of your accident, leading to your injuries. To prove negligence, you will need to supply evidence to prove the following statements.

 

  • The at-fault party owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident.
  • The at-fault party breached his or her duty of care.
  • The breach of care directly caused your injuries.
  • You suffered damages as a result of these injuries.

 

To defend himself or herself against these claims, the at-fault party may use the assumption of risk strategy to prove that you were aware of the risks associated with the accident, and you knowingly and voluntarily assumed a risk of harm. If you assumed the risk of injury at the time, the at-fault party does not have to pay for your damages.

To prove your assumption of risk, the at-fault party must prove the following elements.

  • You had actual knowledge of the risk associated with the activity.
  • You either expressly or implicitly assume the risk associated with the activity.

Express Assumption versus Implied Assumption of Risk

There are two types of assumption of risk: express assumption and implied assumption.

  • Express assumption of risk involves an explicit agreement between you and the at-fault party that acknowledges your knowledge and acceptance of the risk. Usually, this is a written contract or agreement.
  • Implied assumption of risk occurs when you accept and acknowledge the risk through words or conduct. For example, if the at-fault party tells you that he or she has broken stairs and you nod in acknowledgement, you implicitly assume the risk. If you later file a lawsuit after suffering an injury on those stairs, the at-fault party can use this evidence against you.

Express assumption is typically easier to prove than implied assumption, but implied assumption can also be very broad and apply to a wide range of actions and statements. There are certain instances where you waive your implied assumption of risk due to factors outside of your control, such as criminal activity, unforeseeable events, and actions that may seem voluntary but are actually involuntary under the circumstances.

Defending Yourself Against Assumption of Risk

Facing an assumption of risk claim can be daunting, but you can defend yourself against this strategy. However, you will need an attorney on your side who can evaluate your accident, investigate the evidence surrounding the accident, and determine how to best approach your counterargument.

Hiring a personal injury attorney to represent your claim is one of the strongest ways you can defend yourself against assumption of risk and protect your right to compensation. If you have not done so already, contact a Bakersfield injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your claim and develop your case strategy.

Posted by highrank at 9:52 pm

Tips on Speaking with an Insurance Company After a Car Accident

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Insurance companies work fast after a car accident. Often times, the adjuster will contact people who are involved in an accident the same day or within a few days after the occurrence. You may even receive a call from the other party’s insurance adjuster. We understand how stressful it is after an accident, so we compiled tips for you on how to speak with an insurance company after you have experienced an auto accident.

Find out who you are talking to.

When you receive the phone call, ask for the person’s name, the insurer they work for, their work address, and work telephone number. If they are unable, or unwilling, to provide you with this information, do not speak with them.

Do not agree to a recorded statement.
The adjustor may claim that a recorded statement will “protect you” or speed up your claim process, but a recorded statement can also work against you. The adjustor may ask you leading questions or remarks (i.e. “It sounds like your back injury is not as bad as you thought”) and the answer you respond with may undermine your injury and your compensation.

Limit the information you give to the insurance adjustor.
You may give them general information, including:

  • Your name
  • The name of others in the accident
  • Date and time of accident
  • Location of accident
  • The insurance information of the other driver
  • The make and model of cars involved

Don’t discuss your injuries.
The extent of an injury in a car accident can take weeks or months to become fully apparent. How you state your injury may be used against you at a later date. You do not owe them a progress report. If they ask you how you are doing, you can say that you don’t know the “full extent of the injury yet”.

 Don’t speculate or guess.
If they ask you questions about the accident, and you don’t know the answer, do not speculate or guess what may have happened. It is acceptable to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”.

It is okay to postpone the conversation.
You may decline talking to an insurance adjuster. You have the right to answer their questions with your attorney and you may tell them that you will not talk to them without your attorney present.

If you have suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a car accident, we may be able to help you. Call our Kern County Personal Injury Law Firm at 661-323-1400 or 800-585-9262 (toll free) for a no fee consultation. Our car accident attorneys speak English or Spanish.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 12:26 pm

What Is the Difference Between Comparative and Contributory Negligence?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

In a California personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove that the at-fault party acted in negligence and caused the damages you are seeking compensation for. At the conclusion of your case, the court will decide if you are eligible for damages and if so, how much your settlement will be.

Identifying negligence is not simple in many cases, and the court may find that both parties’ actions contributed to the accident. In these situations, the court will either apply the theory of comparative negligence or the theory of contributory negligence to determine the amount of the final settlement. The specific theory that the court applies will depend on the state you reside in.

What Is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence states do not allow plaintiffs who share more than 1% of the fault from claiming compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. This means you lose your chances at compensation if you contributed to the accident at all. The only states who still apply the contributory negligence method include Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Let’s say you are in a car accident with another driver at a stop sign. You brake, the driver behind you doesn’t, and he hits the back of your vehicle. You suffer medical bills, damage to your vehicle, and pain and suffering worth $20,000, and request this settlement amount in your lawsuit.

However, the court finds that you had broken brake lights at the time of the accident, and assigns you 80% of the fault in your case. If you reside in a state that practices contributory negligence, you will not receive any damages.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

While contributory negligence is the most severe negligence rule, many states do not use this method. Instead, most states follow a comparative negligence system, which allows plaintiffs to collect compensation even if they share a portion of the fault.

There are two types of comparative negligence rules: pure and modified. California is a pure comparative negligence state, which means you can collect compensation in a personal injury lawsuit even if you share up to 99% of the damages. The court will simply reduce your award by the portion you share. Using our broken brake light example, you can still receive $4,000 out of your $20,000 settlement if you share 80% of the fault.

There are two different types of modified comparative negligence states. In some modified comparative negligence states, such as Colorado, you cannot receive compensation if you share at least 50% of the fault. In other modified comparative negligence states, such as Hawaii, you cannot claim compensation if you share 51% or more of the fault in your claim.

You would not receive damages under our broken brake light scenario if you shared 80% of the fault. If the court determines you shared 40% of the fault, you could receive $12,000 out of the original $20,000 under both modified comparative negligence systems.

Hire an Attorney for Your Personal Injury Case

Comparative and contributory negligence can reduce the amount of compensation you receive significantly. In these situations, you must defend yourself against claims that you share liability for the accident by highlighting the at-fault party’s negligent actions.

Hiring a Bakersfield personal injury attorney to represent your claim can help you protect your best interests during the lawsuit process. Your attorney will conduct a full-scale investigation into your claim, crafting a compelling case for your need for compensation and proving the negligence of the at-fault party.

Contact your personal injury lawyer today to discuss your story and begin filing your claim.

Posted by highrank at 9:53 pm

I Was Hit While Jaywalking… Am I Liable?

Friday, May 15, 2020

In Bakersfield, traffic lights and signs are in place for a reason. This critical infrastructure keeps drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike safe on the road — and jaywalking can put your life in danger. If you suffer an injury while jaywalking, even if you were not at-fault for the accident, you can harm your chances at recovering compensation for these damages.

Can You File a Pedestrian Accident Claim If You Were Jaywalking?

If you are in a collision with a motor vehicle while walking around Bakersfield, you have two main pathways to compensation. You can file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or you can file a personal injury lawsuit in California civil court.

You can still bring these legal actions against the at-fault driver in your accident, even if you were jaywalking. However, the fact you were jaywalking will impact your case. The insurance adjuster or the at-fault party’s defense may use this evidence to either deny your claim or reduce your award.

To combat these claims, contact a Bakersfield pedestrian accident attorney who can defend you from these arguments and advocate for your compensation needs. Through a thorough investigation and a strong negligence claim, you can increase your chances at securing a settlement with an attorney on your side — even if you do share a portion of the fault.

Comparative Negligence in Pedestrian Accident Cases

Pedestrian accident lawsuits rely on the theory of negligence to prove that the at-fault party is responsible for the victim’s damages. To successfully claim compensation for the damages you suffer in a pedestrian accident, you and your attorney will need to collect evidence to support the following four elements.

  • The driver owed you a duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws.
  • The driver breached this duty of care.
  • You suffered injuries as a direct result of this breach of care.
  • You can collect compensatory damages for your injuries.

These elements may seem straightforward, but if you also breached your duty of care as a pedestrian to follow traffic laws, you may share a portion of the liability. California follows a pure comparative negligence rule in these situations.

California courts allow you to collect damages for your injuries even if you share 99% of the fault in the situation. However, the court will reduce your final award by the portion of the liability you hold.

For example, if you are seeking $20,000 for your damages and the court assigns you 50% of the fault because you were jaywalking, you will receive $10,000 at the conclusion of your case.

Should You Hire an Attorney for Your Pedestrian Accident Claim?

If you were jaywalking at the time of your accident, proving your need for damages can be very complex. Attorneys and insurance companies may claim that you were at-fault for the accident, and either reduce or deny your settlement altogether. With medical expenses, lost wages, and many more losses on the line, this compensation is crucial to your recovery.

Contact a pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible following your collision. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into your claim and help you identify optimal pathways to maximum compensation. In addition, your attorney can advise you on which legal options are best for your case.

Speak to your lawyer today to discuss your claim and strategize your next steps.

Posted by highrank at 9:47 pm

What Are the Psychological Effects of Being in a Car Accident?

Friday, May 8, 2020

The aftermath of a car accident can be physically painful — but many of us tend to overlook the psychological impacts these collisions can have. From the development of mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder to long-lasting impacts on our daily activities, the mental toll of a car accident can be overwhelming. However, you do have legal options available to recover from this psychological damage.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Car Accident

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that involves overwhelming feelings of fear, uneasiness, or anxiety following a traumatic event. These emotions are common after a car crash, but if they linger or become stronger, they can impact your daily activities and make it difficult to enjoy activities you once loved.

Symptoms of PTSD after a collision often include the following:

  • Uncontrollable flashbacks or memories about the car accident
  • A constant feeling of uneasiness
  • Overwhelming feelings of rage or worry
  • Anxiety around driving or riding in a motor vehicle
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • A feeling of disconnection in regard to events or people

Who Is at Risk for Developing PTSD?

According to a study from the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 39.2% of car accident survivors develop PTSD following a collision — a shockingly high number. In addition, psychological experts state motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of PTSD in the general American population.

You may be at a higher risk of developing PTSD after a car crash if you have a history of prior trauma or mental health conditions. In addition, if you experience high levels of emotion such as fear or helplessness during or immediately after a car accident, your PTSD development risk may also increase. A lack of social support after the accident may also aggravate this condition.

What Treatment Options Are Available for PTSD?

If you believe you developed PTSD after a car accident, it is important to seek mental health treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor or psychiatrist will help you identify your condition and create a symptom management plan, which may include medication, therapy, and other forms of treatment.

Paying for this necessary treatment can be difficult, even with health insurance. However, a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim can help you pay for damages associated with your car accident, including the cost of mental health care.

Economic damages can cover the cost of medications, therapy appointments, and other psychiatric treatment. Non-economic damages can compensate you for the emotional pain and suffering you endure as a result of the PTSD, along with other psychological impacts such as anxiety, depression, and a loss of quality of life.

Do You Need an Attorney for Your Bakersfield Car Accident Claim?

If you are suffering emotional, physical, and financial damages following a car accident, you need a Bakersfield car accident attorney on your side who can advocate aggressively on your behalf. Hiring a car accident lawyer can benefit your case in a number of ways, including access to a wide network of resources, well-honed negotiation skills, and knowledge of personal injury law.

Contact your car accident attorney today to discuss your case and determine which pathway to compensation is right for you.

Posted by highrank at 9:35 pm

The Importance of Evidence in Trucking Accidents

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Accidents that involve a car and a truck, such as a big rig (also referred to as a tractor-trailer), often result in more catastrophic injuries and/or death because of the sheer difference in size and weight of both vehicles. If you are involved in a truck accident, it is important to have an expert truck accident attorney on your side because the case can be complicated. Your attorney must be familiar with state and federal transportation laws, motor vehicle carrier rules, and also the trucking company’s safety rules. In addition to this, your attorney must recognize the importance of collecting evidence early on in the case. This evidence can help build value into your case to work towards your advantage, and includes:

Evidence about the driver:

  • The truck driver’s qualifications file and the training file
  • The driver inspection records
  • Post-collision drug and alcohol screening
  • The driver’s log – close examination can determine if the driver has falsified their log. Drivers report inaccurate data for many reasons – including earning more money for driving more miles in a short amount of time, off-the-books incentives (bonuses) from their employer for “good service” by delivering their load early; or trying to make up time for a late start.

Evidence involving the truck:

  •  Maintenance history
  • Inspection history
  • Data from onboard systems relating to the engine, brakes, etc.,
  • Data from onboard GPS tracking and communication systems

Evidence involving the truck’s load and cargo:

  •  Weight tickets
  • Bills of lading
  • Trip envelopes
  • Dispatch instructions
  • Delivery documents

An experienced truck accident attorney will know what evidence to collect – and how to collect it – for your case.

If you are involved in a truck accident, here is additional evidence that your attorney will be looking for:

  • Pictures from the scene of the accident. If you are injured and cannot take photos at the scene of the accident, request that a family member takes detailed photos of your injuries as soon as you are able to communicate with them. Police or media may also have pictures from the scene.
  • Testimony from you and/or other witnesses plus expert witness testimony from professionals about your injuries (doctors, EMTs, etc.,)
  • Medical records from your injuries. These can help predict your long-term prognosis which can affect the value of your claim.

Our Bakersfield truck accident attorneys have handled hundreds of truck accident cases. If you, or someone you love, has been involved in a truck accident, contact us today (661-323-1400) for a no-cost consultation with one of our truck accident attorneys.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 10:05 pm

Rodriguez & Associates Attorneys on The Great Trials Podcast

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Daniel Rodriguez, Chantal A. Trujillo and Danay Gonzalez were guests on the Great Trials Podcast on Tuesday, April 14th, 2020. Listeners got a behind the scenes look of the Taft Unified School District v. Cleveland case.

In 2013, Bryan Oliver, opened fire with a shot gun at Taft High School, seriously injuring his classmate, Bowe Cleveland. Cleveland was shot in the chest and has since underwent more than 30 surgeries.

Rodriguez & Associates represented Cleveland and after suing the Taft Unified School District, he was awarded $3.8 million in damage.

Listen to the episode by clicking here or listen below:

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 3:38 pm

Can Social Media Impact My Case?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Today’s personal injury cases have several unique considerations that yesterday’s did not. With the advent of social media, it’s easy to share sensitive details of our personal lives in what we believe is a private forum.

However, your social media posts may be accessible to the defendant, members of the defendant’s legal team, and other individuals involved in your claim. What you post online can have a significant impact on your personal injury case — and likely not a positive one.

Social Media and Personal Injury Cases

Although your intentions may not be harmful, social media posts can be very detrimental to a personal injury case. If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, you suffered an injury that you claim that someone else caused, and are seeking compensatory damages to help you recover. These damages can include payment for medical bills, long-term care and disability accommodations, and lost wages during recovery time.

If something you post online raises suspicion about the nature of your injuries, the extent of your treatment plan or medical expenses, or your recovery timeline, you could lose your chance at receiving your settlement. The type of content that could lead to loss of credibility is not always obvious.

For example, say that you suffered a broken leg in a car accident. The at-fault driver caused this car accident by speeding through a red light and striking the side of your car. While you can easily prove that the at-fault driver was responsible for the accident by examining surveillance footage and police reports, proving your need for compensation is a bit more difficult.

You file your claim and ask for $50,000 to cover your damages, which includes ongoing medical treatment for at least four months. During your case, you attend a party while using your crutches. A friend takes a picture with you at the party, and your crutches are outside of the shot.

If you post this picture onto social media, it will raise suspicion about your need for medical treatment and the credibility of your injuries. The insurance company or the defense attorney could use this photo as justification that your treatment costs do not need to be as high as you claim — potentially leading to a reduction in your overall settlement and a loss of the funds you need to recover.

Social Media Tips for Personal Injury Victims

Although you must be careful about what you say online, it can be difficult to quit social media cold turkey and you may still want to be active on your accounts. However, it is important to be smart, be cautious, and think before you post.

  • Set all of your social media accounts to private and limit your posts as much as possible during the extent of your case. Something as simple as sharing a funny picture could be evidence against you. Keep your profiles locked and only post when necessary.

 

  • Do not accept any friend or follower requests from people you do not know in real life. Although many states consider this practice unethical, some attorneys or even insurance representatives may attempt to follow or friend you. It is best not to accept any new requests during your case.

 

  • When you do make a post on social media, do not post anything about your case. Remember, anything you post online could be evidence against you. If you make a contradicting statement, you can lose your chance at collecting the compensation you need.

 

  • In addition to the above tip, do not post about your injuries, doctor’s visits, treatment progress, travel, or anything related to the harm you suffered. These statements could become evidence against you.

Personal injury cases can be complex, especially in today’s digital age. You must take extra caution when sharing details of your case online, or even with family and friends. If you say or share something that could harm your credibility, you can lose your chance at collecting the settlement you need to recover.

For best results and to avoid accidental harm, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your Bakersfield personal injury attorney can advise you on the best practices of posting on social media, helping you preserve your credibility and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Posted by highrank at 5:15 pm