Category Archives: Rodriguez & Associates

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

Daniel Rodriguez: How a Not-So-Typical Attorney Built a Law Firm Based on People, Not Profits

Monday, January 4, 2021

Daniel Rodriguez

If Rodriguez & Associates is not your typical law firm when it comes to handling personal injury cases, that’s largely because its boss, Daniel Rodriguez, is not your typical attorney. His beginnings as the son of migrant workers and his struggles to obtain his own education growing up have had a lasting impact on both his life and career. These experiences taught him both the value of hard work and the importance of helping those that most need it. Giving back to his community through these things is the bedrock upon which Daniel has built and maintained his firm over the years.

Daniel grew up on the move. His family took migrant jobs in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and California, and during that time Daniel and his siblings attended between three and five schools each year. Even in undergraduate and law schools, he worked a variety of jobs that ranged from dishwashing to sales to pumping gas. This exposure to many different types of employment imprinted an important lesson on Daniel from a young age: that there is no substitute for hard work, and that making a difference requires time, energy, and persistence.

Daniel also learned from an early age how to size people up, and developed the kinds of social skills needed to interact with a variety of individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Years on, he still relies on these skills as necessary tools for helping victims of negligence, wrongful death, and other areas of personal injury litigation. Meanwhile, his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering helped him develop the ability to assess both sides of a situation and fully understand all perspectives involved. For a personal injury lawyer, all of these things are invaluable assets.

Daniel_Rodriguez_Personal_Injury_Attorney_in_BakersfieldDaniel has applied all these lessons to his practice throughout his law career, championing the people of the Bakersfield, California community and giving a voice to those who most need it. His dedication to these ideas surfaced early on in his career as an attorney, when he was still working as a defense attorney at an insurance company. Discouraged at the idea of using his time and energy to represent the interests of corporations, he took the fight to the other side and started representing the people instead.

Daniel and his staff take this fight very seriously. Most personal injury firms rarely bring their cases to trial; Daniel has been in the courtroom since the first month of his career as an attorney. Going to trial with a personal injury case requires far more time and work then is usually required when that case is simply settled. Daniel’s willingness to devote the extra effort and resources to win his victims fair compensation is one of the underlying values of his firm.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 9:30 am

What Type of Compensation is Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?

Monday, December 28, 2020

If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person or entity, you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. This civil lawsuit provides compensation to a deceased person’s estate and surviving family members, such as his or her spouse and children, for the losses associated with his or her death.

However, California establishes strict rules regarding what types of compensation a plaintiff’s family or estate may receive. There are two categories of damages in wrongful death lawsuits: compensation for the deceased’s estate, and compensation for the deceased’s family.

Damages for the Deceased’s Family

Surviving family members can suffer from significant pain and suffering due to the untimely passing of a loved one. The purpose of wrongful death claims is to compensate the family for these losses with a monetary award. If a wrongful death claim is successful, the court will typically award compensation for the following losses to eligible family members.

  • The value of household services the deceased would have provided
  • The loss of anticipated financial support from the deceased
  • The loss of love, affection, guidance, moral support, community, and attention from the deceased to his or her family members

In California, only certain individuals may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased person. Typically, only the surviving spouse or domestic partner, surviving children, and people in the line of succession, such as the deceased’s parents or siblings, may receive this compensation.

Compensation for the Deceased’s Estate

After a person dies, he or she can incur certain costs that his or her estate will need to pay for. The court will compensate the estate for the cost of his or her funeral and burial expenses up to a reasonable amount, as well as medical bills and hospital expenses associated with the deceased’s final injury or illness.

The court will often provide funds for the value of the deceased’s lost income. This specific form of compensation reimburses the estate for the potential income the deceased would have likely earned in the future if he or she lived. The court will also provide compensation for lost wages the deceased incurred during his or her recovery period prior to death.

How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

If you lost a loved one due to negligence or reckless behavior, you may be eligible for a wrongful death settlement. However, California sets a time limit on these types of lawsuits—you only have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file. If you wait until this deadline passes to file your claim, the court will almost certainly dismiss your lawsuit and your family will lose the right to collect the compensation you deserve.

Hiring a California wrongful death attorney to represent your claim can help you avoid unexpected delays and file your lawsuit on time. Your lawyer can assist your family with every aspect of the wrongful death litigation process, from negotiating with insurance companies to identifying the damages you qualify for.

As soon as possible following your loved one’s accident, contact a California wrongful death attorney to initiate your claim. Your attorney will explain your legal options and discuss you and your family’s first steps toward compensation.

Posted by highrank at 8:12 pm

Joel T. Andreesen Reflects on his 16 Years Spent at Rodriguez & Associates

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Joel_AndreesenJoel Andreesen attributes his lifelong commitment to fact-finding as a huge reason for his success as an attorney. And that success is about much more than financial settlements. Throughout his career, and during his 16 years at Rodriguez & Associates, where he is now a Senior Partner, Joel has been driven more by a desire to help victims reach closure than by any monetary prize.  

Joel was born and raised in a farming family in Iowa. Leaving that setting, he initially set out to become a journalist. Though he switched to law, he cites parts of his journalism training—rigorous investigation, meticulous fact-checking, effective communication—as enormously helpful to his work as an attorney.

Joel met and began working with Daniel Rodriguez at a different law firm in the late 1980s. Some years later, Daniel left to start Rodriguez & Associates, eventually proposing, in 2004, that Joel should come and work with him. Joel has been there ever since. 

At the firm, Joel says he covers many areas of personal injury, though he started off working on business litigation, employment law, and criminal defense. “I think all of those areas helped me at a young age to be able to get into the courtroom a lot sooner than if [I] was only doing personal injury work,” he says.

Over time, however, his interest shifted to personal injury because of the opportunity it provided in terms of helping others. Like so many at Rodriguez & Associates, that drive to help those in need motivates many of Joel’s choices, right down to the cases on which he chooses to work: “We’ve taken on cases that other firms have turned down that may be tough liability cases but we really truly wanted to try and help these people.“

He cites one product liability case from several years ago as a prime example. A family had contacted Rodriguez & Associates after the father was killed by a defective product. Joel says that another law firm had turned the case down flat out. Joel met with the family and, through what he says was some very basic research, determined that there was a real viable case against the product manufacturer based on a detail the other firm had overlooked. He won the case, and was even told by opposing counsel that the settlement received was the largest one ever paid out by the product manufacturer. 

Not that the money is the prime driver here. For Joel, the real payout was “the satisfaction of helping the family through this process and through a very difficult loss of a great loved one. In the end, we can never bring them back, but hopefully we can help [the family] through it.”

The success of that case is in no small part due to Joel’s commitment to the lengthy process of personal injury cases, which rely so much on minute details and require attorneys to keep very open minds in order to uncover new facts that could influence the outcome. “From the very beginning, we think as broadly as possible,” says Joel. Most personal injury cases are settled out of court, but Joel starts out treating each one as though it were headed to trial, in order to motivate himself and the team to put as much effort as possible into it.

That involves bringing experts onboard from the start — many firms do not bring experts in until the end — and making them part of the process. He gets other attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates involved because “the more eyes that can look at something the more possibilities come up.” And he conducts focus groups with potential juries in whichever county the case is taking place.

The long hours and attention to detail pay off, and not just in financial terms. For Joel, being an attorney is about helping those in need and bringing both material and emotional resolution to often tragic situations. For him, there is no greater settlement than that. 

 

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 2:37 pm

How Commercial Truck Accidents are Different than Passenger Vehicle Accidents

Monday, December 14, 2020

Commercial truck accidents differ from passenger vehicle accidents on many levels, including physical damage wrought, injuries sustained, multiple negligent parties, and insurance policies. If you’re involved in an accident involving a commercial truck (also referred to as a semi-truck or tractor-trailer) you will quickly realize that truck accident claims require a different approach than an accident involving only passenger vehicles, and here’s why.

Truck Accident Injuries and Physical Damages are Usually More Severe

The severity of truck accidents is often due to their weight and dimensions, which contributes to longer stopping distances, wider turn radiuses, and larger blind spots. Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds which is 20 times heavier than the average car. Due to this difference, personal injuries sustained in a truck vs. car accident are usually more catastrophic, including death. The physical damage to a vehicle in a truck accident can also be severe and often the car’s condition is considered to be “totaled” (when the damage to repair the car exceeds the value of the car).

 Multiple Negligent Parties May Be Involved in Commercial Truck Accident Claims

When there is a car crash between two vehicles, usually only one person is at fault. When there is a crash involving a commercial truck, there may be multiple negligent parties involved. On top of this, each party may have their own separate insurance policies. Negligent parties can include:

  • Truck driver
  • Truck or parts manufacturers
  • Truck mechanics
  • Parent truck company
  • Freight brokers
  • Loading companies

Regulations for Truck Drivers and the Truck Companies

Commercial truck drivers and truck companies must comply with many federal trucking regulations, including the driving hours, training, truck maintenance, and much more. Navigating violations of these regulations is not an easy task.

 Massive Insurance Policies

In a truck accident case, there is a lot of money at stake because truck insurance policies are often worth millions. Therefore, the trucking insurance policies will aggressively defend their clients to avoid liability.

Compensation for Damages Incurred in a Truck Accident

Injured parties in a truck accident have the right to be compensated for medical care, rehabilitation, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and damages associated with pain and suffering, emotional suffering, and loss of consortium or diminishment of relations with a spouse.

Investigating Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are complex. Investigations are extensive and can require many months of research in addition to knowledge of federal and state trucking regulations.

Our Bakersfield trucking accident attorneys of Rodriguez & Associates have handled hundreds of truck accidents. Founder and senior attorney Daniel Rodriguez, along with attorneys Chantal Trujillo and Danay Gonzalez, obtained the highest personal injury verdict in Kern County history of $70,578,289 for a truck vs SUV case. We are familiar with truck accidents’ engineering, truckers’ fatigue, and other issues that lead to catastrophic accidents.

If you – or someone you love – has been a victim of a truck accident, contact us today. Call us at (661) 323-1400 for a free consultation to discuss your case and legal options.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 2:38 pm

Who is Liable for a Car Accident Caused by a Medical Emergency?

Sunday, December 13, 2020

California is a fault insurance state, which means that drivers who cause accidents must pay for the damages of their victims. Dangerous and negligent driving behaviors, such as failure to yield and distracted driving, often contribute to these accidents.

There are some situations, however, where a driver may experience a medical emergency while behind the wheel and lose control of his or her vehicle. In these accidents, liability will depend on whether the medical emergency was foreseeable.

The California Car Accident Sudden Emergency Defense

California is one of many states that recognizes the sudden medical emergency defense in car accident cases. Also known as the doctrine of imminent peril, this rule relieves drivers who are responsible for car accidents if they suffered an unforeseen medical emergency at the time of the crash. This doctrine applies if the sudden emergency caused the accident, was outside of the driver’s control, and the driver could not have foreseen the emergency.

A driver who seeks to use the sudden emergency defense must prove the following facts.

  • The driver experienced a sudden and unexpected emergency where he or she was in actual or apparent danger of an injury.
  • The driver did not cause the emergency.
  • The driver acted in a way that a reasonably careful driver would have under the same circumstances, even if a safer option became apparent at a later time.

For example, say that a driver suffers a heart attack while operating her vehicle and suddenly loses consciousness. The driver loses control of her vehicle and runs through a red light, colliding into you. Since the driver could not have anticipated the onset of the heart attack and did not have time to remove her vehicle from the road, she can establish the sudden emergency defense. As a result, this driver would not be liable for your injuries.

Exceptions to the Sudden Emergency Defense Rule

A driver cannot have any knowledge of the illness or medical condition prior to the actual emergency. If you can prove that the driver did know or should have reasonably known about the risk before the accident, he or she would have acted in negligence.

For example, say you are in an accident with a driver who loses consciousness at the wheel. She tries to establish the sudden emergency medical defense, but medical records show she lost consciousness due to the side effects of a new medication.

The medication warning label states that drowsiness is a common side effect and to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery during use. The driver should have known that she could not have safely driven while taking the medication and did so anyway, leading to the accident. In this situation, she would be liable for your damages.

If the driver has a history of medical issues that make it risky to drive, you could argue that a loss of consciousness was foreseeable. For example, if a diabetic driver loses consciousness due to low blood sugar, you could argue that it would be reasonably foreseeable that he or she would experience a medical emergency while driving.

Hiring an Attorney for Medical Emergency Accidents

Liability in car accident claims involving medical emergencies can be very complex. Although you may discover evidence that establishes a driver’s negligence, the insurance company may continue to deny your claim by invoking this defense.

Hiring a California car accident attorney to handle your claim can help you establish your right to damages. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident and explore all possible options to secure compensation on your behalf, leveraging strategies to determine whether or not the medical emergency was foreseeable. Contact your lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to discuss your legal options.

Posted by highrank at 7:39 pm

Why You Need Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Bakersfield personal injury attorney, Danay Gonzalez, shares four very important reasons why everyone needs Uninsured (UM) / Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage in her TikTok video.

  1. Covers you when the at fault driver has no coverage.
  2. Covers you when the at fault driver doesn’t have ENOUGH coverage.
  3. Covers you if the at fault driver is an excluded driver on a policy.
  4. Covers you if the at fault driver has a lapse in their insurance coverage.

Being smart about your insurance coverage can spare you from having to pay for a crash that you didn’t cause.

Watch Danay’s TikTok video here:

If you have sustained an injury in a car accident, call our Bakersfield personal injury law firm to discuss your case at (661) 323-1400 or toll free (800) 585-9262 or request to schedule a no-charge consultation online.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 9:51 am

The Greatest Trial Lawyers of All Time

Friday, December 4, 2020

Personal injury attorney, Daniel Rodriguez, was a guest on KGET’s Studio 17 Live with Vanessa Dillon to discuss the greatest trial lawyers of all time.

The Greatest Trial Lawyers of All Time

Here is a recap of the Q/A!

Who is the most famous trial lawyer in world history?
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Who is the most famous trial lawyer in American history?
Abraham Lincoln

Who is considered the best trial lawyer in American history?
Gerry Spence

What are the 3 biggest jury verdicts in Kem County History? And who were the lawyers that got those verdicts?

$32 Million – Daniel Rodriguez
$45 Million – Gerry Spence
$70.5 Million – Daniel Rodriguez

To watch the full segment, click here.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 4:37 pm

Danay Gonzalez on Coming Home to Bakersfield and Giving Her Community a Voice

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Giving a voice to those who most need it is one of the driving forces for Danay Gonzalez, in both her life and career.

A native of the Bakersfield, California area, she returned home after receiving her undergraduate degree at UCLA in the hopes of being a positive influence in her own hometown. Joining the Rodriguez & Associates family has allowed her to do just that, serving her community and getting to know the lives and stories of its individual members.

Danay cites events from her childhood as huge motivators for her eventually becoming an attorney. Growing up in Lamont, California, she had many classmates that were victims of crimes, including sexual abuse, who were afraid to speak up because of their families’ risk of deportation. She remembers watching her classmates’ personalities change because of the abuse they suffered, and, in her own words, she felt “an obligation” to help them find both their voice and the courage to use it.

“I don’t want people to be afraid,” she says.

That personal mission statement fits well into the philosophy at Rodriguez & Associates, which is “to serve those who are most in need.” It was this outlook, along with the close, family-like relationships the firm keeps with its clients, that first attracted Danay to the firm.

“Something that I love is that  we’re a family and we treat our clients as family,” she says.

She describes the attorney-client relationship as more of a partnership than a transaction.

Danay remains committed to helping sexual abuse victims that come to the firm with their cases and stories. A detail that stands out from her first case with Rodriguez & Associates is the sheer number of women and men who admitted to being sexually abused but had kept that fact a secret. Even more disturbing was the fact that these incidents were happening at schools, churches, and after-school programs—all places.

Danay_Gonzalez_Bakersfield_Attorney“Where you’re supposed to feel protected or safe.”

But many people—especially those under age—are not safe in these environments. Danay spends a great deal of her time working with minors who are victims of sexual abuse and assault, learning their stories and those of their families. Along with fellow attorney Chantal A. Trujillo, she handles the majority of the firm’s sex abuse cases involving minors.

“Something that we’ve learned through our experts is that these kids will live with this for the rest of their lives.”

Many have PTSD, and Danay sees the effects of that condition.

Giving these children, along with anyone else who is the victim of a crime or accident, a voice is part of what motivates Danay’s day-to-day work life. Back when she was working on that very first case and realizing how many people are sexual abuse victims, she had the realization that something needed to change to help these individuals step out from the silence imposed on them by fear.

“I feel like I need to be a part of that change one way or another,” she says.

The work is grueling, and often emotionally taxing, but she believes the rewards of helping those in need overcome their fear and find their voice are worth the fight.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 5:57 pm