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What To Do When You’re In A Car Accident With The Police?

Posted on: May 28, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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In 2008 – the last time a precise count was conducted – there were 79,431 sworn peace officers working in the state of California. As you know, law enforcement officers routinely patrol southern California’s streets and highways, and they’re often moving quite rapidly in traffic.

Police officers must be skilled, experienced drivers, because when they’re barreling down a busy highway at eighty-five miles per hour, there is no room for error. Although the mission is “to protect and serve,” the tiniest driving mistake by a law enforcement officer can often be catastrophic to anyone in the vicinity.

With its multiple laptops, monitors, radios, and arrays of lights, the modern police vehicle – from the driver’s position – seems as if it’s designed intentionally to distract the driver. Police cars do end up in more than their share of accidents, and those accidents are too often fatal.

Using data from the years 1994 through 2002, researchers at the University of Washington have determined that every year in the United States, approximately three hundred fatalities occur in traffic collisions that involve police vehicles.

After you’ve been involved in any traffic crash, you have rights – especially if you were injured by someone who was driving negligently. Law enforcement officers do not have more rights than the average person and are not exempted from liability for personal injuries.

Even if the negligent driver who injures you is a police officer, in the state of California, you have the right to complete compensation after an accident for your medical care, lost wages, and any other accident-related expenses and losses.

WHAT IS SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY AND WHEN DOES IT APPLY?

Local, county, state, and federal governmental agencies and entities are in many cases protected against lawsuits by a legal principle called “sovereign immunity.” However, across the United States, sovereign immunity is not absolute, and in California, if you’ve been injured by a police officer who was driving negligently, and if you act swiftly, in most cases you’ll be able to pursue compensation for your injuries and for wages lost while you were injured. The first move is discussing your rights and options with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.

After any traffic collision, your health is absolutely the top priority, so you should obtain immediate medical attention – even if you don’t “seem” or “feel” injured. Adrenaline can sometimes mask the initial pain of an injury, and without medical attention, an injury that’s not immediately apparent could develop days or weeks later into a serious medical condition. A medical examination also provides evidence you’ll require in case you really are injured and need to file a personal injury claim.

State and local governments have established strict procedural rules for anyone making a claim against them for injuries. Those rules include short deadlines and precise requirements regarding what the claim must include. A traffic crash caused by a California police officer is what the law calls a “public entity” case, essentially meaning that you must act quickly to protect your right to sue.

Every personal injury case, of course, is different, and after a collision with a police officer, you’ll need the help of a good personal injury lawyer who can sort out the legal details and explain your rights and options.

WHAT IS AN “ADMINISTRATIVE CLAIM” IN CALIFORNIA?

In most cases in California, before a civil lawsuit against any government agency can be filed, an “administrative” claim must be filed with the agency itself within six months of the accident. After a claim is filed, the agency has 45 days to answer. If the agency denies the claim, the injury victim then has six months to file a personal injury lawsuit. If no rejection notice is received, the injury victim ostensibly has two years from the date of the accident file a lawsuit.

However, you can’t count on having two years to take legal action. There are a number of potential exceptions and exemptions in the law, and candidly speaking, when a California police agency is the defendant in a lawsuit, it can sometimes be difficult to determine precisely what the statute of limitations for a particular case actually is.

Clearly, if you’ve been injured in a traffic crash caused by a California law enforcement officer, take the case as quickly as you can to an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney, and then adhere to that attorney’s advice and recommendations.

Police officers are expected to honor and protect everyone’s civil and constitutional rights, but the truth is, cops aren’t any different from the rest of us. Most of them care about their jobs and reputations, and no officer wants to be suspended from duty or found liable for an innocent person’s injuries. When a police officer causes a traffic accident because he or she was driving negligently, don’t be surprised if the officer tries to shift the blame – onto you.

HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR OWN PERSONAL INJURY CASE?

If your personal injury case goes to trial, you must be represented by a personal injury lawyer who has experience interrogating officers on the witness stand and undermining their testimony when it’s misleading or deceptive. However, before you even have time to speak to an attorney, you can help your case right there at the accident scene.

Take as many photographs as you can – or if you are incapacitated, have someone else take photos – of the vehicles, the damages, the general accident scene, any key traffic signs or signals, and your own visible injuries.

The right photographs can make or break a personal injury case. You should also try to speak with anyone who may have been an eyewitness to the accident and obtain names, phone numbers, addresses, and even emails and work addresses if possible – any way that you and your attorney can contact an eyewitness if his or her testimony is needed. If other people who don’t even know you testify that the police officer was driving negligently, your case will be strengthened immensely.

One final word: Police cars are often moving in pursuit of suspects at high rates of speed, and the accidents that happen at those speeds can cause some of the most catastrophic injuries. Accidents involving police vehicles too often cause severe spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and other injuries that may require a lifetime of costly care and treatment.

If you or someone you love is injured in this way in an accident with a police car, make certain that you are represented by a California personal injury attorney who will fight tenaciously on your behalf for the maximum possible compensation.

Attorney Greg Vanni Recovers Settlement For Coma Victim

Posted on: May 20, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Negligent, careless, and reckless drivers are the leading reason for traffic collisions. Defective vehicles and parts also cause a considerable number of accidents. In California, when you are injured because a motorist was negligent or because a vehicle or a part was defective, you can pursue a personal injury claim against the negligent driver or the negligent vehicle or parts manufacturer. But what if a poorly constructed road or poor road conditions cause a collision that injures you? Sometimes governments or government agencies may be held liable for a poor street design, negligent or careless construction, or a failure to keep streets maintained and safe.

On May 9, 2014, Los Angeles Police Detective Ernest Allen, Sr., a 27-year-veteran of the LAPD, was killed when a cement truck lost its brakes on Loma Vista Drive, picked up speed, left the road at a sharp curve, and crushed the detective’s personal pickup truck. The cement truck operator, Brandon Cascio, is now in a persistent vegetative coma. Only a week earlier, on May 2, another cement truck lost its brakes on Loma Vista Drive, and that driver, Eric Johnson, was also seriously injured.

WHY HAVE CRASHES ON LOMA VISTA DRIVE BEEN UNAVOIDABLE?

The City of Beverly Hills has known for decades that Loma Vista Drive has unusually steep and long grades that constitute a clear danger to anyone in the vicinity. Drivers must work their brakes constantly while driving downhill on Loma Vista Drive, and some vehicles’ brakes are inevitably going to fail. When a vehicle as heavy as a cement truck becomes a “runaway” vehicle moving downhill, the vehicle eventually reaches a speed that prevents the driver from negotiating that last sharp curve to the right on Loma Vista. A crash becomes unavoidable.

City workers, traffic experts, and local residents have been telling the City of Beverly Hills for nearly fifty years that substantial changes to Loma Vista Drive were absolutely imperative. Over the decades, as accidents have continued on Loma Vista Drive, the City of Beverly Hills has aggressively fought against lawsuits filed by injured drivers and passengers. The City has sometimes claimed immunity and has even contended that truck drivers are at fault for accidents on Loma Vista because they could have taken another route.

WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME OF BRANDON CASCIO’S CASE?

Brandon Cascio, Eric Johnson, and the family of Detective Ernest Allen jointly entered into a lawsuit against the City of Beverly Hills. Mr. Cascio was represented by Pasadena personal injury attorney Greg Vanni of Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell, and the case was settled early in May, just several days before a trial was slated to begin. Mr. Vanni and attorneys for Mr. Johnson and the Allen family recovered for their clients a $32.5 million settlement from the City of Beverly Hills.

If you’re injured in a crash caused by poor road construction or poor road conditions, let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney at Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell review the conditions that led to the crash, determine what governmental body or agency may be liable, and fight aggressively for justice on your behalf. In such circumstances, do not speak to an insurance adjuster, accept a settlement, or sign any insurance papers before retaining the counsel of an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney at Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell.

What Is Insurance Bad Faith?

Posted on: April 28, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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If you are involved in a traffic collision, you probably expect an insurance company to provide compensation for the damages you suffer. You pay a great deal for insurance, and according to one advertising campaign, your insurance company is supposed to be where “You’re in good hands.” But if you suspect that an insurance company isn’t negotiating with you in good faith, what can you do?

Your insurance policy is a promise that you’ve paid for – a promise by your insurance company to provide you with insurance coverage when you need it. When you purchase a policy, the insurance company has a legal duty to provide that coverage and to negotiate and settle any claims you make in good faith. Don’t let an insurance company abuse you or operate in what the law calls “bad faith.”

Although the details of bad faith laws differ from state to state, the basic rule is that an insurance company must not look for ways to get out of its obligation to investigate your claim or to pay your claim. Each state regulates its insurance industry and insurance policies with precise legal requirements for starting and operating insurance companies, and most states have a “division” or “department” of insurance which enforces those regulations.

WHAT CONSTITUTES INSURANCE BAD FAITH?

When an insurance company does not take its own obligations to its policyholders seriously, you may have adequate grounds for legal action against the company – an insurance bad faith claim. Bad faith claims may arise from the specific actions or inactions of an insurance company. In Southern California, when an insurance company fails to meet its responsibilities, you may need to discuss your situation with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.

Listed here are some – but not necessarily all – of the reasons insurance companies may be sued for bad faith:

  • failing to negotiate for the settlement of a claim
  • failing to share important information with a claimant
  • failing to investigate a claim seriously
  • failing to explain the denial of a claim
  • failing to pay a claim without investigating
  • failing to attempt a reasonable settlement when liability is clear
  • failing to either deny or pay a claim in a reasonable amount of time
  • offering substantially less than the actual value of a claim

An auto insurance company has a number of legal obligations to its policyholders. Even a “third party” insurance company owes good faith to every injury victim who files a claim, but that duty is slightly less than the good faith that your own insurance company owes you, since you’ve actually purchased a policy from the company in advance of making any claim.

Thus, legal grounds for a claim of bad faith against a third party’s insurance company exist only if the company – or the adjuster representing the company – has deceived the claimant or interfered with the claim (for example, by withholding evidence or tampering with a witness).

CAN WRITING A LETTER TO THE COMPANY HELP?

When considering your own insurance company, a difference of opinion between you and an adjuster regarding the value of your claim probably does not constitute bad faith. But if the adjuster or company makes a low settlement offer and offers no reason for the low amount, or if the company has deceived you or otherwise treated you unfairly or unjustly, you might be a victim of insurance bad faith. If you believe that an insurance company or an adjuster is negotiating with you in bad faith, simply writing a letter to the company – or having your attorney write a letter – may result in some action.

If you write a letter to the insurance company, use the phrase “bad faith” and provide specific examples of the adjuster’s bad faith. A letter accusing the insurance company of bad faith often results in some action – and in a better settlement offer.

In other words, just the possibility of a legal claim may be enough to compel the insurance company to offer you a reasonable settlement. That’s because if you take an insurance company to court for bad faith – and you win – the insurance company could be ordered to pay you for damages beyond the amount of your claim, especially if the company’s conduct was particularly egregious.

Like every other company, an insurance company is in business to earn profits. When insurance companies faithfully provide the services they claim to offer, profits are fine, but no insurance company should ever be permitted to place profits above the legitimate claims of traffic collision victims. When an injury claim is rejected, undervalued, or delayed for no good reason, it can lead to serious financial burdens for injured policyholders who may be unable to work at the same time their medical expenses are piling up.

Historically in California, insurance companies maintained that it was bad faith to deny a claim only when the insurer already knew that there was no reasonable basis for denying the claim. That is, the companies claimed that only the intentional mistreatment of a policyholder should be legally actionable.

The insurance companies insisted that unintentional negligence in the handling of a claim did not constitute bad faith. In 1979, in the case Egan v. Mutual of Omaha, the California Supreme Court rejected that argument and determined that an insurance company’s negligence in the handling of a claim, in fact, does constitute bad faith.

HOW CAN YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE A VICTIM?

How can you know if you are a victim of insurance bad faith? You can file a complaint with the California Department of Insurance, but only by hiring an experienced personal injury attorney who routinely handles insurance bad faith cases will you be able to know if the insurer’s actions legally constitute bad faith and whether or not you have a case. In most states, if you sue an insurer for bad faith, you’ll have to finance the lawsuit yourself, but in California, the plaintiff who prevails in a bad faith action may be able to recover part of the attorney fees separately and in addition to the judgment for the original injury claim.

In Southern California, if an insurance company negotiates with you in bad faith, you’ll need to be represented by an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney who routinely and successfully represents the victims of insurance bad faith. Especially if you are recuperating from injuries, the last thing you need is an insurance company making your life even more difficult. All policyholders have the right to be treated with good faith by their insurance companies.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Suit In California?

Posted on: March 24, 2017 by in Wrongful Death
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The abrupt, accidental death of a loved one is always a tragedy under any circumstances. Often, surviving family members may not be sure where to turn after such an unexpected event. If the death was accidental and caused by someone else’s carelessness, in the state of California an experienced wrongful death attorney can provide the sound legal guidance that survivors will need.

Wrongful death happens in a variety of circumstances – in fact, in far too many ways. Wrongful deaths may happen in traffic collisions caused by impaired or distracted driving or as the result of medical malpractice. A wrongful death may also be caused by a property owner’s negligence that causes a fatal slip-and-fall, by defective consumer products, or by any negligence that leads to an avoidable and unnecessary fatality. When a death was intentional on someone’s part, both a criminal prosecution for homicide and a civil wrongful death lawsuit are possible.

In California, if an accidental death was preventable, in most cases the survivors may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. While no sum of cash can assuage a family’s grief after a loved one is suddenly lost, a wrongful death claim can at least help survivors meet their immediate financial obligations. A wrongful death lawsuit also lets the survivors hold accountable the party or parties that were negligent and responsible for their loved one’s death.

This is a brief, general introduction to wrongful death in California and the rights of survivors in this state. However, every case is different, so if a wrongful death occurs in your own family, you’ll need to obtain the sound legal advice that is specific to your personal circumstances by consulting with an experienced Pasadena wrongful death attorney. Your attorney will explain and discuss the legal rights and options of wrongful death survivors, and if necessary, fight in court for the justice that survivors need and the compensation they deserve.

WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH? WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?

A wrongful death may be defined as the death of an individual resulting from the willful or negligent action or actions of another person or persons. Every state allows for the recovery of damages after a wrongful death. However, what varies from state to state is the specific person or persons who have the legal right to pursue a wrongful death claim.

A person’s right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California depends on that person’s relationship to the deceased person. Under the law in California, the following parties are authorized to bring a wrongful death claim:

  • the deceased person’s surviving spouse
  • the deceased person’s surviving domestic partner
  • the deceased person’ s surviving children

Only if there is no surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be pursued by anyone “entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession,” including the deceased person’s parents or siblings.

Additionally, if they can show that they were financially dependent on the deceased person, stepchildren may file a claim, and so can a deceased person’s “putative spouse” and that putative spouse’s children. (California courts may consider an individual a “putative” spouse when a marriage is legally invalidated but one party reasonably believed that the marriage was legally valid.)

IS IT TRUE THAT THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUITS?

California law provides for two different slightly types of lawsuits that can be brought against negligent defendants responsible for wrongful deaths. A conventional wrongful death lawsuit may be brought under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60. The other type of lawsuit is called a “survival action” and may be pursued under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.30. If your family experiences a wrongful death, you should understand the legal difference.

With a conventional wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members can seek compensation for loss of support, loss of services, funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium. Punitive damages, however, are not recoverable through a conventional wrongful death lawsuit.

A “survival action” may be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, or if no representative has been named, by the decedent’s “successor in interest.” A “successor in interest” is the beneficiary of the decedent’s estate or the beneficiary of some item or part of the decedent’s property that may be subject to a cause of action.

A survival action may only be pursued if the deceased person did not pass away immediately from his or her injuries. If the deceased person lived for even a brief time between the accident and the death, then a survival action may be filed. A survival action basically allows someone to recover what the deceased person would have been entitled to through a personal injury claim if the deceased person had survived – medical expenses, lost wages, and punitive damages as well. Survival actions and conventional wrongful death claims are usually separate and distinct, but in some situations, where appropriate, both types of claims may be merged into a single lawsuit.

WHAT MUST A PLAINTIFF PROVE IN A WRONGFUL DEATH TRIAL?

Wrongful death claims are usually settled out of court. Typically, attorneys for both sides are able to arrive at a settlement that is acceptable to both the plaintiff (the surviving family member bringing the claim) and the defendant (the allegedly negligent party). When a wrongful death claim goes to trial, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the deceased person a “duty of care” and that the duty of care was breached, leading directly to the wrongful death.

For example, in a California wrongful death case arising from a traffic accident, the plaintiff first must prove that the defendant was obligated to obey the traffic laws and to drive safely. Next, a plaintiff must show that the duty of care was breached by the defendant’s negligent driving, reckless driving, speeding, or other failure to obey traffic laws. A plaintiff finally must prove that the breach of the duty of care directly caused the wrongful death – meaning that the deceased person “more likely than not” died due to the defendant’s negligence and for no other reason.

After losing a loved one, even discussing the legal aspects of a wrongful death can be difficult. Still, it’s imperative for family members to act as quickly as possible. In Southern California, survivors should seek the advice and legal services of an experienced Pasadena wrongful death attorney.

When you lose a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, you may not be prepared to deal with all of the legal and emotional issues, but a good wrongful death lawyer can be sensitive to the needs and emotions of the survivors while acting aggressively on their behalf to obtain the compensation and justice they are entitled to under California law.

The Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell Scholarship Winner

Posted on: March 10, 2017 by in Scholarship
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We are excited to announce that the winner of The Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell Scholarship is Victoria Solkovits, a 17 year old student from Los Angeles who is currently studying at the University of Central Los Angeles. Here is a snippet from her scholarship winning essay about how she engaged in public service in high school and college:

Eleanor Roosevelt, Malala Yousafzai, and Susan B. Anthony reside in me – all at once. Leadership is my calling, social justice is my cause célèbre, and I am extremely committed to public service. I have always stood for equity and equality, so it didn’t seem strange when my teacher told me that I was well suited for the Oval Office at the age of eight. From the very start, I was one who was catapulted to the front. Whether creating a project for Girl Scouts or debating on current issues in my community, my leadership was always respected. It may have been a part of my DNA, as my grandmother was the first female president of my local teachers’ union and my father held an office position in the same organization. Throughout my life, I have been involved in political action. While most children were playing on the field, I was fighting for what I believe; amongst 800 teachers at a march, the one six year old holding a picket sign was most definitely me.

Life can be chronicled from all the buttons and signs I have from various campaigns and propositions. “Vote NO on Prop 8” to “AFT for Hillary 2016”, I have always been told to make what I believe in the center of my being, some of these issues being women’s rights, reforming the criminal justice system, racial justice, and college affordability. Through working on campaigns and participating in strikes, I have always been politically motivated. For my whole life, I have idolized leaders such as Eleanor Roosevelt- her fighting spirit and strong will central to me. I soon decided I did not have to be President, or even of legal voting age, to make a valuable difference.

To apply for our scholarship, click here .

The Relationship Between Financial Abuse And Elder Abuse

Posted on: February 25, 2017 by in Elder Abuse
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pasadena-elder-abuse

Allegedly, she pried the diamond ring right off the sleeping woman’s finger. That’s what Keona Stephens, 22, of St. Petersburg, Florida, is accused of doing at the Allegro Senior Living Facility where she worked. As police in St. Petersburg investigated the theft, they learned that other residents had also been targeted by a jewelry thief while they were sleeping. The estimated total loss of jewelry was assessed at more than $21,000. Ms. Stephens confessed to the crimes and was charged with four counts of theft and one count of grand theft.

That theft is just one of the hundreds reported by nursing home residents every year. Many thefts also go unreported. The number of thefts and financial abuse incidents targeting the elderly is staggering – and unacceptable. Legally defined, the financial abuse of the elderly is the illegal or improper use of an elderly person’s money, assets, or property. Financial exploitation of the elderly can include stealing jewelry or money, cashing checks without authorization, forging signatures, or deceiving or bullying someone into signing a financial document such as a contract or a will.

If you have an elderly family member or a loved one living in a nursing home, you may be the only person who can look out for your loved one’s interests. Without the oversight of a family member or a close friend, a nursing home resident could be exploited for years. When an elderly person starts managing his or her accounts differently, making large withdrawals, or adding names to his or her accounts, these may be indications of financial abuse. Have a discussion with the person you believe is being targeted for financial abuse. Make sure you know that person’s best interests, needs, and desires for financial security.

WHERE CAN A FAMILY TURN FOR HELP?

In Southern California, if you have evidence or strongly suspect financial abuse – or any other type of elder abuse – take your concerns to an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney. Sometimes an attorney’s letter or phone call may be all that’s needed. The threat of an injury lawsuit – or actually filing a lawsuit – may be a necessary move. After reviewing the details of the situation, your attorney will also be able to determine if the police or other authorities should become involved.

One of the difficulties that elderly nursing home residents and their families deal with today is the expectation that a nursing home will manage and protect a resident’s money, which is typically placed in a special trust fund account used for resident care, personal items, and various incidentals. In the last several years, more than 1,500 incidents in which nursing homes have been cited for mishandling residents’ trust funds have been reported, and over a hundred nursing home employees across the nation have been prosecuted in these cases.

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT A LOVED ONE FROM FINANCIAL ABUSE?

In one particularly egregious case, a now-former office manager at the Vicksburg Convalescent facility in Vicksburg, Mississippi stole more than $100,000 from 83 patients’ accounts. Lee Ray Martin specifically targeted residents without families and those who suffered from dementia. If you have a loved one in a southern California nursing home who has a nursing home trust fund, here’s what you need to do:

  • Confirm all expenditures and withdrawals on trust fund statements.
  • Verify quarterly statements for the right amount of interest.
  • Find out if the facility has been cited for fund mismanagement in the past.
  • Learn how residents’ funds are managed.
  • Learn who is responsible for handling residents’ funds.
  • Learn when audits are conducted and if they are available.

You should also get to know the facility’s personnel and the families of other residents. If you find any evidence of fund mismanagement, or if you think someone you love may be a target for some other kind of elder abuse, immediately contact a good personal injury attorney who will fight for your family’s rights. If an older person is receiving substandard care despite having the funds for high-quality care, financial abuse could be the reason.

Get help for financial abuse – or any other elder abuse – right away. According to the Justice Department, about five million older persons are the targets of elder abuse every year in the U.S. Elder abuse can often be difficult to confirm because the victims themselves may not understand that they are victims. Elder abuse goes beyond financial exploitation and may include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, malnutrition or dehydration, intimidation or violence, and the failure to monitor residents or to provide needed medical care. As the average age of the U.S. population increases, elder abuse will most likely continue to rise as well. Consider these statistics:

  • From 1999 through 2001, almost a third of the nursing homes in the U.S. were cited for at least one violation of federal nursing home standards.
  • Nearly 10 percent of those violations posed a risk of serious injury or death or caused a serious injury or death.
  • Over 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse.
  • More than 90 percent of nursing home residents report that they or someone else in the facility has been neglected.
  • Research in 2010 indicated that as many as 50 percent of nursing home employees have admitted to abusing or neglecting residents.

WHAT ABOUT HOME HEALTHCARE AGENCIES?

Concerns about abuse in nursing home facilities are among the reasons that home healthcare agencies have expanded, but home healthcare agencies are not problem-free, either. Older persons can be at risk when home healthcare providers exploit them financially or otherwise fail to offer adequate care. Patients and their families have the right to hold home healthcare agencies accountable for the abusive actions of agency employees.

If you find any indications of neglect, abuse, or financial exploitation of an elderly loved one, or if you suspect that your loved one may be abused or exploited in a nursing home, by a home health care provider, or even by a family member, take appropriate action. In Southern California, arrange to speak with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney who will fight on your loved one’s behalf.

Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of the people we love. Preserving the dignity of our older loved ones as they age is perhaps the most important thing we can offer them. Everything we have inherited and learned, we have inherited and learned from older people. They have earned the right to age with dignity and without abuse or exploitation of any kind.

The State Of California Establishes New Laws Concerning Motorcycle Safety

Posted on: January 24, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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When a motorcyclist rides between lanes or tries to maneuver between lanes in a traffic jam, it’s usually a dangerous move. Truck and automobile drivers expect motorcyclists to be inside of a lane and not between two lanes. California, however, is now the first state in the nation to legalize the practice of lane-splitting after California State Assembly members approved legislation in 2016 authorizing the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to establish guidelines for motorcyclists to lane-split safely.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 51, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Quirk of Hayward, was approved unanimously and signed by Governor Jerry Brown late in 2016. Assemblyman Quirk said the proposed law will have the immediate effect of reducing traffic congestion and promoting safety. “No issue is more important to me than roadway safety,” Quirk told the Los Angeles Times.

PRECISELY HOW IS “LANE-SPLITTING” DEFINED?

Lane-splitting has been a controversial topic in California for many years. It happens when a motorcyclist passes other vehicles by riding between them on the lane line. Technically, lane-splitting has not been either legal or illegal in California. Instead, it fell into a murky legal area where – for the most part – it was “treated” as legal by police agencies. But when the California Highway Patrol issued strategies for safe lane-splitting back in 2015, at least one California citizen disputed the agency’s right to create public policy independently. That’s when Assembly Bill 51 emerged.

Assemblyman Quirk’s first version of the legislation proposed that lane-splitting should be allowed only when a motorcycle is moving no more than 15 miles per hour faster than the surrounding traffic, and it banned lane-splitting at speeds over 50 miles per hour. However, a number of motorcyclists’ organizations opposed that language and particularly complained that the speed limit was too low. Others believe that lane-splitting is dangerous in all situations and opposed the proposal on that basis.

Assemblyman Quirk’s revised version of the bill sailed through the state legislature. It precisely defines what a “lane” is and leaves the rest to the California Highway Patrol. Nicholas Harris, speaking for the American Motorcyclist Association, said, “We think it’s a great idea. It will give the CHP the authority it needs to educate the drivers and riders of California on the safe guidelines.”

WHAT GROUPS SUPPORTED ASSEMBLY BILL 51?

The new statute defines lane-splitting as “driving a motorcycle … that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.” The statute lets the CHP determine when lane-splitting is and isn’t safe. The proposal gained support from the American Motorcyclist Association, the Motorcycle Industry Council, and the California chapter of ABATE, a group primarily noted for its vocal opposition to motorcycle helmet laws.

However, not everyone is pleased with the passage of Assembly Bill 51. San Diego resident Dave Jordan told NBC San Diego, “I think it’s crazy.” Kyle Hickey, a mother of three, fears that legal lane-splitting compromises safety and will mean more accidents. “No, I don’t think it’s in their best interest at all,” Ms. Hickey told NBC. “I’m in a huge vehicle, they’re on a very small motorcycle.”

Motorcyclists who are injured by the negligence of another driver may be able to win compensation for their medical costs, lost income, and other injury-related expenses. In Southern California, an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney can work to protect your rights and win the maximum compensation for a motorcyclists’ injured by a negligent motorist. Your attorney will see to it that the driver responsible for your injuries meets his or her full legal responsibilities.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists in the U.S. are 26 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than automobile drivers and are five times more likely to be injured. Motorcycles comprise only about three percent of all vehicle registrations in the United States, but about 15 percent of the fatalities in highway collisions are motorcyclists or their passengers.

WHAT ARE THE LEADING CAUSES OF MOTORCYCLE COLLISIONS?

Lane-splitting can easily cause serious collisions because it reduces a motorcyclists’ maneuverability. It is impossible from some angles to see a motorcyclist between two automobiles, and a lane-splitting motorcyclist can easily move into a driver’s blind spot. When you operate a motorcycle, it’s always best to presume that other drivers cannot see you unless they indicate to you that they can. Lane-splitting is one of the top five reasons behind motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists should also know the other leading causes of collisions:

1. Vehicles Making Left Turns: This is the riskiest situation motorcyclists must deal with. In 42 percent of all motorcycle-automobile collisions, someone was making a left turn.

2. Road Debris: Potholes, oily pavement, and unexpected objects on the road pose a serious safety threat to motorcyclists.

3. Inexperience: Becoming an experienced motorcyclist takes considerable time and effort. Until you master motorcycling, stay off away from busy streets and highways.

4. Negligence: A substantial percentage of motorcycle collisions happen because the motorcyclist rider was either speeding, reckless, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While speeding and alcohol are responsible for all kinds of traffic crashes, the injuries in a motorcycle wreck are apt to be far more serious or even fatal.

If you’re injured in a motorcycle accident in Southern California, do not admit any fault or agree to any settlement prior to consulting a good personal injury lawyer. If you can, take photographs of your injuries and the vehicle damages. After a motorcycle accident, seek medical attention at once, obtain the other driver’s insurance information, and call the police – you’ll need a copy of their accident report. Keep and make copies of the accident report, medical records, and any other documents generated by the collision. Don’t even speak to an insurance adjuster; contact an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney who will do the negotiating on your behalf.

Motorcycles are popular and economical. They’re also great fun and delightful entertainment, but they entail serious responsibility. If you own a motorcycle, or if you are thinking about buying a motorcycle, consider taking a motorcycle safety course, never ride without a helmet, and make certain that you are clearly visible if you must ride at night. As the old saying goes, “The life you save might be your own.”

What To Do If Your Car Is Totaled And You Still Owe Money On It

Posted on: December 22, 2016 by in Personal Injury
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Any traffic mishap is inevitably a hassle and an aggravation, but if your personal vehicle is totaled in a Southern California traffic collision, it can genuinely disrupt your life, at least temporarily. It can get even worse if you are still paying for the vehicle, because in that situation, for many of us, the ramifications of a total loss can be financially devastating. Let’s consider what your options and alternatives are if you still owe payments on a vehicle that an insurance company deems “totaled” after it’s been involved in a collision.

When the estimated cost of repairing a vehicle surpasses 75 or 80 percent of a vehicle’s value, most insurance companies will decide that the vehicle has been totaled. Each company has slightly different rules and percentages, and every situation will be different, but generally speaking, a total loss is declared if the repairs will exceed 80 percent of the vehicle’s worth. For example, if a car is valued at $5000 but the repairs will exceed $4000, most insurance companies will declare the car a total loss and reimburse the owner for the full $5000 value. But if the same vehicle can be repaired for less than $4000, then the repairs will usually be authorized.

If you are the owner of the totaled vehicle, that $5000 check (or whatever the amount is in your own case) will name you as the payee. But if you are still paying off a bank or a finance company for the loan that you purchased the vehicle with, the name of that bank or finance company will also be on that check. Insurance companies will ensure that a bank or any other lien holder is paid first when an insurance company pays for a total loss after a collision.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU OWE MORE ON A VEHICLE THAN ITS TOTAL VALUE?

It’s a fact of life. Automobiles depreciate, and some lose their value faster than others. With that in mind, a vehicle’s value is determined by the market rather by than the amount of the loan or by any other guidepost. Factors such as total mileage, the condition of the body, and the popularity of the model determine a vehicle’s real worth – what you could actually expect to sell it for. In the United States, the standard resource for determining a vehicle’s worth is the Kelley Blue Book, which lists the value of most models – in a range of conditions – going back a number of years.

In the best-case scenario – if there can be a “best” case following a total loss – the amount you receive from the insurance company will exceed the amount you still owe, and you’ll be able to put the difference toward buying another set of wheels. But if the amount you still owe exceeds the amount you receive from the insurance company, that can be a worst-case scenario. You are still obliged to make the monthly payments until the loan is satisfied. The fact that the car is totaled, or that it’s worth less than you owe, does not alter the terms of the loan and makes no difference to the lender.

WHAT IS GAP INSURANCE?

“Gap” insurance (it stands for “guaranteed asset protection”) is an optional insurance coverage for newer cars that can be added to your existing auto insurance policy. (The definition of “newer” varies among insurance companies.) If you have gap insurance coverage, it may pay for the difference between the balance of a loan due on the vehicle and what you receive from the insurance company if the vehicle is deemed a total loss after a traffic collision.

There are several steps you must take immediately if you are involved in a traffic crash in southern California. If anyone is injured in the accident, make sure that paramedics are called to the scene. And even if you don’t feel injured, have a doctor look at you as soon as possible after a traffic accident. Many serious personal injuries are not apparent immediately after a crash and may not emerge as medical problems for days or even weeks. Seeing a doctor at once is also imperative in case you need to file a personal injury claim at any time after the collision.

Exchange information with the other driver or drivers at the scene, including personal contact information, driver’s license details, and insurance policy information. If you have your cell phone, take photos of the accident scene and the vehicle damages. If the damage is anything more than a trivial scratch or dent, try to obtain names and contact information for anyone who was a witness, and call the police. Get the names or badge numbers of the police officers and find out how to obtain a copy of their accident report, because you may need it.

WHAT INFORMATION WILL YOUR AUTO INSURANCE AGENT NEED?

You should contact your auto insurance agent, and if you’ve been injured, you should also arrange to speak with a Pasadena personal injury attorney. You can do this when you arrive home from the accident scene or from the hospital, or even the next day, but do not procrastinate. Speak to your auto insurance agent even if you believe that the other driver was negligent and you are filing a personal injury claim, because you may have benefits through your own auto insurance that you may at some point need. When you speak with your agent, have the following information ready:

• the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the other drivers involved in the collision
• the insurance policy details for those drivers
• the date, time, and location of the collision
• the name of the law enforcement agency that responded

If you’ve been injured in a Southern California traffic collision because the other driver was negligent, you are entitled by law to full reimbursement for your medical care for as long as you need it, your lost wages, and all of your other injury-related expenses. Having an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney working on your behalf is imperative if you suffer a serious injury because another driver was negligent. But if you are not injured, and if the other driver’s insurance company is accepting liability, in many cases you may be able to pursue a basic accident claim without an attorney’s help.

Governor Brown Inks Fair Civil Court Compensation Bill

Posted on: November 17, 2016 by in Personal Injury
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California Assembly Bill 2159, which was signed into law in August by Governor Jerry Brown, finally ensures equal treatment for all injured Californians who are filing personal injury claims, regardless of an injury victim’s immigration status when seeking damages for personal injury. The new statute is a just and long-overdue response to a controversial 1986 California Second District Court of Appeal ruling in the case Rodriguez v. Kline.

In that 1986 ruling, the Court of Appeal determined that when an undocumented immigrant is working in California, is injured, and receives a personal injury verdict, any compensation for the loss of future earning capacity must be based on the wages that the immigrant would have made in his or her nation of origin rather than what the worker would earn in California. In a number of cases, the Rodriguez ruling has been applied to injury victims who have lived and worked in our state for years. And for three decades now, activists have been voicing concerns that the Rodriguez decision was unfairly exclusionary and legally just plain wrong.

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AB 2159 directly addresses and resolves those concerns. The new law requires the courts in California to consider all personal injury plaintiffs equally and without regard to a person’s nation of origin or legal immigration status. AB 2159 was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, and it was sponsored in the California Senate by Senator Isadore Hall of Compton. After its passage by the California Assembly, AB 2159 was approved overwhelmingly by the California Senate in August and sent to Governor Brown’s desk.

According to Pasadena personal injury lawyer Gregory R. Vanni, “This bill assures innocent victims of negligent acts that they will not have their personal injury case prejudiced by evidence of their immigration status. A person’s immigration status is a complex issue that should only be resolved in proper immigration courts, not by juries deciding personal injury cases. This case removes a frequent weapon by the insurance industry to reduce compensation to innocent victims by trying to poison a case with immigration issues.”

When the governor signed AB 2159, the Consumer Attorneys of California released a statement that said in part: “Gov. Brown’s action today continues the progress California has made in providing equal legal treatment to all Californians. Immigration status is irrelevant to the issue of liability under state law, and undocumented workers have equal protection under California’s labor laws.”

WHAT GROUPS SUPPORTED AB 2159?

The proposal was aggressively supported by a number of organizations including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Consumer Federation of California, the Consumer Attorneys of California, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, the ACLU of California, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and the California Catholic Conference. Elise R. Sanguinetti of the Consumer Attorneys of California said, “We applaud Assembly Member Gonzalez and Governor Brown for restoring fairness to that process in our civil courts.”

Over the last several years, as you probably know, lawmakers in California have approved a number of proposals that protect the legal rights of immigrants who are in this state without documentation, and California is generally considered the most progressive of the fifty states. Until this year, however, legal protection had not been extended to undocumented persons seeking reimbursement for personal injuries.

Right now, and until January 2017, if an undocumented immigrant is injured by someone else’s negligence in California, that immigrant is in effect victimized a second time – by discrimination. On January 1, immigration status will become irrelevant to the issue of liability under California law, and undocumented workers will have equal legal protection when they file personal injury claims. By signing AB 2159, Governor Brown once again extended the progress this state is making in providing equal legal treatment to all.

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WHY WAS AB 2159 NECESSARY?

In the decades since 1986, the Rodriguez decision has been applied in personal injury cases to diminish the amount of compensation paid to severely-injured undocumented immigrants who are the victims of negligence in this state. In many cases, defendants even asserted that the compensation for medical care in these cases should also be based on what the same medical care would cost in the plaintiff’s home nation. Scores of undocumented immigrants have received verdicts for amounts far below what their claims were actually worth in U.S. dollars.

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Deciding on a reasonable and fair compensation figure after an accident caused by negligence is almost always a painstakingly difficult process. A completely irrelevant item – the wage rate in a faraway nation – only complicates the task. A personal injury attorney, for example, usually works on a victim’s behalf for a settlement or verdict that fairly and fully reimburses the victim of negligence for both the economic and noneconomic losses that he or she has sustained.

WHAT DETERMINES THE AMOUNT OF A PERSONAL INJURY AWARD?

To determine what amount a victim of negligence is entitled to receive, the victim and his or her personal injury attorney should include all medical expenses, all lost income, the cost of prescriptions, and all other expenses (for example, transportation to doctors and pharmacies) arising from the accident and injury. If the injury is temporarily or permanently disabling, an estimate of the victim’s lost future earning capacity must also be considered. In the case of catastrophic and permanent injuries, a Los Angeles or Pasadena personal injury lawyer will fight aggressively on a client’s behalf for the maximum available amount of compensation.

While a personal injury victim’s immigration status will no longer be considered in California personal injury cases beginning in 2017, other items are always considered by a judge or jury when deciding the sum of a personal injury verdict. Those considerations may include a plaintiff’s age and health – and any preexisting medical conditions – prior to the accident and injury, the plaintiff’s marital and family status, his or her childcare arrangements, work or school obligations, employment background and experience, education, and in some cases, the plaintiff’s ability to acquire new job skills.

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California has moved decisively on immigration reform in recent years. Immigrants pay in-state tuitions at state universities and may obtain California drivers’ licenses. California changed its laws to allow Sergio Garcia – an undocumented immigrant brought as a child to the U.S. by his parents – to practice law in this state. Even the word “alien” has been eliminated from California’s labor code. Immigrants bring genuine benefits to the people of California.

Recent statistics provided by Startup Compass, a San Francisco consulting firm, found that more than half of the new business startups in Silicon Valley are launched by immigrants, and more than seven in ten of the engineers in Silicon Valley are immigrants. A recent report issued by the American Competitiveness Alliance confirms that “Immigration can contribute to economic growth by increasing productivity through innovation.” Assembly Bill 2159 guarantees that when an immigrant is injured and files a personal injury claim, justice will finally have a chance to prevail.

Infographic – How To Avoid A Dog Bite

Posted on: November 3, 2016 by in Infographics
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We’ve all heard the cliche that dogs are “man’s best friend” and even though seeing a cute dog makes us want to interact, sometimes it is not a good idea. Dogs, when scared or threatened, are sometimes prone to attack. In this infographic, we explore the signs of when a dog is about to attack, what to do in this situation, and what to do if you’ve been attacked.

 

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