Category Archives: Rodriguez & Associates

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

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

Named Best Personal Injury Law Firm in Bakersfield for 2021

Monday, February 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 6:29 pm

Blaine Mustoe: Personal Injury Lawyer Spotlight

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 9:14 pm

Joel T. Andreesen, Senior Partner at Rodriguez & Associates, Encourages Community to Support CSU Bakersfield’s Roadrunner Scholarship Fund

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Joel from Rodriguez & AssociatesAt Rodriguez & Associates, we encourage our employees to be involved in the community. For the past 10 plus years, Senior Partner Joel T. Andreesen has been active in the CSU Bakersfield’s Roadrunner Scholarship Fund. He currently serves as president of the CSU Bakersfield board of directors for the scholarship fund.

What does the scholarship fund?

At CSU Bakersfield, there are a total of 14 sports. Many people assume that the money to fund those student-athlete scholarships comes from the State of California-from the state government. However, much of the money comes through fundraising efforts. The role on the scholarship fund board is to fundraise; to go out into the community to encourage people to give to the scholarship fund to fully fund the scholarships for these student-athletes.

Where does current fundraising stand?

Right now, we are in the middle of our fundraising drive for the 2020/2021 year. The fund drive ends on June 30th. The goal this year is to rate $750,000 for the scholarships for these student-athletes. Now, at that amount, CSU Bakersfield will only be funding about 65-70% of the scholarships that are allotted for the sports at CSU Bakersfield. So, it is important that we get the community involved and hopefully raise upwards of $2 million because that is the number it is going to take to fully fund all the scholarships for CSU Bakersfield sports.

Would you say the best way for residents to get involved would be donations right now?

There are a variety of ways you can donate. One of the easiest ways is to go to the https://gorunners.com/ website, there is a drop-down menu that will allow you to donate. An annual donation can be made. A monthly donation option is available.  Or you can make a longer-term commitment and commit money over a five-year period. It is important that people donate, as right now are only 460 donors to the Roadrunner Scholarship Fund. For a division one sports program such as CSU Bakersfield, that number needs to get up to over 1,000 donatees. That’s what we are working hard to do.

Why is it crucial to donate to this fund?

So many of these student-athletes remain in the Bakersfield area after they graduate. They become a part of the Bakersfield community by going to work for various businesses. By investing in the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunner Scholarship Fund, you are really investing in the future for Bakersfield and Kern County.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 8:49 pm

Joseph Whittington: Rodriguez Lawyer Spotlight

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Joseph-WhittingtonJoseph Whittington, partner and lawyer at Rodriguez & Associates in Bakersfield, was born into a family in the legal field so it was natural for him to pursue a career in the legal profession. He has fond memories and photos of sitting behind the judge’s bench at the Kern County Superior Court with his grandfather, a retired Kern County Superior Court Judge. His father is a practicing real estate attorney in Bakersfield.

Joseph was raised in Bakersfield and is a graduate of Garces High School (2004). He earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in the Globalization of Business from UC Berkeley, where he was also a four-year varsity member of the UC Berkeley’s Men’s Swim Team and Captain of the 2008/2009 team. While at Cal, he worked for a law firm in Oakland, California, where he learned legal principles and ideas. Joseph attended Western State College of Law for his Juris Doctorate and passed the California Bar Exam in July 2013.

Joseph joined Rodriguez & Associates in 2015. Joseph primarily handles cases involving multi-party car crashes, pedestrian vs. auto cases, and civil rights violations by police departments.

“I really like being able to help people through some of the most difficult times in their lives. Lawsuits can be complicated and if I can take one thing off my client’s to-do list, then they can spend more time recovering from their injuries.” – Joseph Whittington

Joseph WhittingtonAt Rodriguez & Associates, we also strongly believe in giving back to our community. Joseph volunteers as a board member of the Dignity Health and Mercy Hospitals Friends of Mercy Foundation. The board supports the hospital’s fundraising efforts to continue to ensure the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy, who started the hospital in 1910.

Joseph loves spending his free time with his wife and two children. He also enjoys exercising and running – particularly through the Hart Park hills and around the outskirts of town – and in obstacle course races like Tough Mudder and Spartan. He is also a huge fan of the LA Dodgers baseball team!

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 6:24 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

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 12:39 am