Archive for the ‘ Personal Injury ’ Category

How The Insurance Company Will Try To Minimize Your Claim

Posted on: July 24, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Insurance companies often try to reduce the amount they will pay for an injury claim – or reject the claim entirely – by using the same dubious and predictable tactics that some insurance companies been using for years. If you’re like most people – meaning you have little if any experience dealing directly with insurance companies – you might become frustrated and decide to just forget the whole business of seeking compensation, even if you’ve been seriously injured.

Insurance companies count on a certain percentage of people walking away from legitimate claims out of exasperation. Don’t be one of those people. If you are having trouble with an insurance company that is refusing to honor an injury claim, an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney can help. Below is a brief discussion of the most common ploys used by insurance companies to avoid paying injury victims who have legitimate injury claims.


1. By denying fault or liability: The immediate response of some insurance companies to any injury claim is a denial that any of their policyholders could be at fault. If you are injured, and the insurance company tells you that no coverage is available, have the insurance adjuster explain why – in writing. A letter of explanation should refer to the exact provisions that limit the policy’s coverage.

When an adjuster informs you that there is no coverage for your claim “according to the company’s attorneys,” don’t think you are defeated. You might even be sent a letter from a lawyer working for the insurance company. Don’t let yourself be bullied. One lawyer’s opinion is only one lawyer’s opinion. If the insurance company refuses to offer an acceptable settlement and your claim goes to court, the court alone will decide.

Alternatively, an insurance company might tell you to try collecting against a different policy – and from a different company – if several parties were involved in the accident. If you are injured by negligence in a traffic collision or in any other kind of accident, it’s usually best to speak first with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights – and avoid speaking to the insurance company entirely. In Southern California, let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.

2. By using delaying tactics: An insurance company should process an injury claim within a reasonable length of time. Stalling is a typical tactic because if the company stalls long enough, some people will give up and the company pays out nothing. The company might claim that an investigation is “ongoing” or “still pending.” Some companies will even tell claimants that they are at fault for a delay because they missed a deadline, failed to send a notification, or some other technicality.

3. By alleging that your injury was pre-existing: An insurance company will sometimes make the charge that you weren’t really injured as you claim, but instead, you were already injured, and you saw the accident as a chance to take advantage of your pre-existing condition. This is why you must seek medical attention immediately after an accident, whether or not you think or feel that you’ve been injured. If you need to file an injury claim later, you’ll need to have complete medical documentation that confirms your claim.

4. By minimizing the payment of a claim: When an insurance company cannot entirely deny a legitimate claim, it may try to pay as little as possible. The company may try to reduce what it should pay by claiming that the injury victim was – himself or herself – at least partly at fault for the accident and injury. If you had vacation days or sick days due from your employer, an insurance company might try to avoid paying for the wages you lost while you were injured by saying those wages were already covered. In such cases, if you are the injury victim making the injury claim, let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney advise and represent you.


When a consumer in California purchases an automobile insurance policy, the insurance company becomes legally obligated to provide the coverage spelled out in the policy and to settle legitimate injury claims against the policy promptly and professionally. An auto insurance company that fails to meet their legal obligation may be operating in “bad faith” under California law.

A California injury victim whose bad faith lawsuit prevails against an insurance company may also in some cases be awarded part of his or her attorney fees along with the damages for the original, underlying personal injury claim. How can an injury victim know if an insurance company’s actions constitute bad faith? A personal injury attorney can probably tell you upon examining the details of your injury claim.


In some cases, once you’ve read the provisions of the insurance policy and you’ve met with an insurance adjuster and a personal injury attorney, you might find that the company is right and the insurance policy, in fact, provides no coverage. In such cases, your injury attorney may be able to suggest other sources of compensation.

If a defective vehicle or vehicle part or a badly-maintained roadway played any part in the accident that injured you, you may be able to file a claim against the vehicle manufacturer or the entity responsible for road maintenance. If a crash involves a large commercial truck, a number of parties could share liability.

Candidly, if you have been seriously injured by someone else’s negligence in a southern California traffic accident – or any other kind of accident – dealing directly and personally with the insurance company is probably not something you should be doing. “Going it alone” might be fine if your only injuries were scratches, but when your health and future may be at stake, get legal help right away.

If a negligent Southern California driver has seriously injured you, speak to an experienced personal attorney before you sign any document, accept any settlement, or even make a statement to an insurance company. When you are recovering from severe injuries, an experienced personal injury lawyer can handle the legal work on your behalf while you concentrate on something even more important – getting your health back.

What Are California’s Negligence Laws?

Posted on: June 23, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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The Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School in New York defines the word “negligence” as the “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act (e.g., a duty to help victims of one’s previous conduct).”

Negligence is an action, or a failure to take action, when someone “owes” a legal “duty” to another person. For example, a supermarket’s managers and staff have a duty to maintain safe and hazard-free aisles for their shoppers. A shopper who slips on a spilled liquid that has not been cleaned up quickly and who thus breaks an arm or a leg may have a legitimate negligence claim against the supermarket, which failed its duty to the shopper.


Similarly, drivers “owe” the other drivers on the road a “duty” to drive soberly, and if an intoxicated driver injures you, you will probably have a strong negligence claim. Whenever the result of an accident is an injury, immediate medical attention must be your first concern. After seeing a doctor, seeing a personal injury lawyer should come next.

To prevail with a personal injury claim in the state of California, an injury victim (called the “plaintiff”) must prove each of the following elements about an accident in order ultimately to prove that the allegedly negligent party (called the “defendant”) was in fact negligent:

  • The defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, and the defendant breached that duty.
  • The breach of duty resulted in the plaintiff’s injury or injuries.
  • The defendant should have foreseen the possible result of the breach of duty.
  • The plaintiff suffered actual, quantifiable damages.


The legal definitions of negligence do not vary much from one state to another, but when the negligence that causes an accident with injuries is “shared” negligence – that is, when both parties in an accident are partly at fault, which is quite common in traffic collisions – the law in California will allow an injury victim/plaintiff to sue for the percentage of damages that are allegedly the responsibility of the defendant.

Let’s say, for example, that you are speeding, but not excessively, and you drive as you normally would through a green traffic light. While it’s in the intersection, your vehicle is hit by a vehicle driven by an intoxicated motorist who was exceeding the speed limit egregiously.

A jury might decide that because you were speeding, you were 25 percent responsible for your own injury or injuries, but the other driver’s intoxication, excessive speed, and reckless running through a red light make that driver 75 percent responsible for your injury or injuries. Theoretically, that driver should then have to pay for three-quarters of your medical bills, lost wages, and related losses.

Everyone has a “duty” to drive carefully and to refrain from putting other persons in harm’s way. In some instances, however, there may be additional specific duties, such as the duty of a business owner, an innkeeper, or a taxicab driver to provide a safe, hazard-free location for conducting business.

Professionals such as physicians and attorneys are required to exercise the duties and to maintain the standards of care set by their professions and by their professional licensing boards. When a professional fails to uphold such a standard and an injury is the result, a professional person may be liable for medical or legal malpractice resulting from negligence.

When you file a personal injury lawsuit in Southern California with the help of an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney, lawyers on each side begin compiling and examining evidence in what is referred to as the “discovery” process. Discovery may include “interrogatories” (with witnesses answering written questions) and “depositions” (with witnesses answering questions in person and under oath). During and after the discovery process, personal injury claims are often settled by the attorneys in out-of-court negotiations. Rarely do personal injury cases actually go to trial.


When a personal injury action is successful, the plaintiff receives what the law calls “damages” – compensation for current and future medical bills and for current and future lost wages and lost earning capacity. Damages may also include compensation for current and future physical pain, emotional suffering, and what the law calls the “loss of enjoyment of life.” The precise amount of the damages paid in any particular case will depend on the type and extent of the injury or injuries sustained.

Time limits called “statutes of limitations” are set by law to restrict the length of time someone has to take legal action after being injured by negligence. In this state, for most personal injury claims, there is a two-year statute of limitations, and although there are some limited exceptions, you must not wait two years to act.

If you are injured by negligence in Southern California, put an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney on the case at once. The sooner your attorney can review the evidence and talk to the witnesses, the more likely it is that your legal action will prevail.

A good California personal injury lawyer will give you frank, impartial legal advice based on years of personal injury experience. In fact, you might receive some advice that you didn’t expect. If you can’t prove your claim, for example, or if a defendant has no insurance or other resources to pay damages with, a personal injury attorney will probably dissuade you from filing a lawsuit.

When you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, you have a genuine personal injury claim. If you can prove it, and if the defendant is insured or is personally able to pay damages, whether or not to proceed with a lawsuit is still your choice and yours alone.

With your attorney’s guidance, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of filing a claim. If you are injured by negligence, an experienced personal injury attorney will explain those pros and cons and will help you to understand how California’s complicated negligence laws apply in your own case.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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 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.

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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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.


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.”


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.

How Can Injury Victims Know Which Attorney To Hire?

Posted on: October 17, 2016 by in Personal Injury
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Countless people from all walks of life in the United States have sustained personal injuries in accidents caused by the negligence of others. They’ve relied on personal injury attorneys to help them win the compensation they needed and the opportunity to rebuild their lives after suffering a serious personal injury. Personal injury attorneys fight on behalf of innocent victims and hold negligent parties accountable. In fact, if you or someone you know in Southern California has been injured by someone else’s negligence, you should speak about it with an experienced Los Angeles or Pasadena personal injury attorney.

Typically, when someone is injured, medical costs and related expenses start piling up while the victim is unable to work. Unless the injury happened at the job and is covered by workers’ compensation, there may be no money coming into the household, and many families can face financial hardship in just several weeks. A personal injury attorney can work with a client to obtain compensation for current and future medical expenses and lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of the “enjoyment of life.” Personal injury lawyers also protect clients from the questionable and sometimes illegal practices of insurance companies.


Automobile collisions generate the most personal injury claims, but whenever someone is injured because someone else was negligent, in California the injured party is entitled by law to compensation – if the plaintiff can prove that he or she was injured and can also prove that the defendant’s negligence is the reason why. This includes all types of personal injury scenarios, from slipping on a wet floor in a supermarket – or a puddle in a parking lot – to a dog bite, an injury caused by a defective consumer product, or an incident of dental or medical malpractice.


The best personal injury attorneys go to work immediately. Time is of the essence in a personal injury case because evidence deteriorates or disappears, and witnesses become forgetful or disappear. A personal injury lawyer explains to each client how the law applies in each particular case, examines the evidence, and negotiates on the client’s behalf. Most personal injury cases are settled out-of-court. Personal injury lawyers are trained negotiators who know what it takes to prevail.

If an out-of-court settlement is unavailable in a personal injury case, an attorney should be fully prepared to take the claim to a courtroom and argue on the client’s behalf in front of a judge and/or a jury. There are more than a million attorneys practicing in the United States today, and more than 185,000 right here in California. When someone is injured by negligence, what’s the best way to find the right personal injury lawyer? What should an injury victim look for?

If you’ve been injured in an accident, and you are looking for an attorney, Salt Lake City attorney Matthew Driggs suggests “there are a few things to keep an eye out for. You’ll want an attorney who is knowledgeable, experienced, and reputable. A knowledgeable attorney will be specialized in personal injury cases and understands the long-term effects of your injuries. This is crucial in your case when determining what a fair settlement is. An experienced attorney will know how to negotiate with the insurance companies to get you the fair settlement.”


Attorney Driggs explains, “Having experience will also help in knowing the laws, statutes of limitations, and liability issues in your case. A reputable attorney is important because you’ll want someone who is seen as a positive and ethical attorney in the industry. Mediators, judges, and insurance adjusters work with attorneys all the time, and if your attorney is known positively in the industry, your case will be handled more efficiently and effectively by all involved.”

When seeking the right personal injury attorney, find out the basics first. Experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney Gregory R. Vanni suggests: “First and foremost, anyone seeking to hire a specific attorney should check that attorney’s status on the State Bar website. In California, the State Bar maintains a publicly accessible website, where the attorney can be searched via name or bar number. Make sure the lawyer you hire is in good legal standing and has never been suspended or disbarred.”

“Second,” attorney Vanni recommends, “look at former client reviews of the attorney to gauge past client satisfaction. Third, confirm the attorney has deep experience in handling injury cases, and is not someone who just “dabbles” in personal injury. Finally, have a frank discussion about fees and costs so there are no surprises at the conclusion of your case.”


After doing some online research and speaking to people you know and respect, narrow your list of lawyers to three or five. Many personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation. The attorney will hear your side of the story, and if your personal injury claim is legitimate and provable, the attorney may offer to accept the case, at least provisionally. The consultation is also your opportunity to meet personally and size up an attorney for yourself. If the lawyer doesn’t really seem to be listening or interested, or if you’re uncomfortable for any reason or even for no particular reason, talk to another attorney.

No two personal injury lawyers are alike. If you’ve seen an attorney on a billboard, in a news story, or you’ve visited the website, that’s not enough. If you’ve been injured by another person’s negligence, you’ll need to conduct your own research, or – if your injury is severe – you’ll need to have someone conduct it for you. Be sure that your personal injury attorney or law firm has:

  1. A great track record. The most important thing is winning, and the best personal injury lawyers win consistently.
  2. Generally positive reviews, endorsements, ratings, and testimonials from former clients.
  3. A personal injury attorney or must be relentless and tenacious, willing to dig in aggressively to a case to win every cent that a client deserves.
  4. Compassion is imperative. While an attorney must be aggressive in negotiations or in court, the best attorneys genuinely care about their clients, about their communities, and about justice. If an attorney is involved with local charities or activities like youth sports, that’s a good sign.
  5. Whether your attorney works for a large firm or alone with just one or two assistants, a helpful and friendly staff is also a good sign that the practice runs smoothly and professionally.
  6. Finally, you need an attorney who handles your case and works with you personally from start to finish. In some firms, personal injury claims are transferred – sometimes more than once – to a second or third attorney. It’s hard to get comfortable with a constantly changing face.

La Jolla personal injury attorney Evan W. Walker offers this advice: “Understand that in large cities personal injury attorneys are a dime a dozen, so you need to separate the wheat from the chaff (for smaller areas, that’s not really a problem). Take the following 5 steps in order of priority:

  • Look for personal references (e.g. family, friends, co-workers)
  • If a personally recommended attorney is unavailable, have that attorney make a recommendation
  • Go to Yelp and Avvo and look for highly rated attorneys
  • Google attorneys in your area
  • With those recommendations and choices, narrow them down by weighing the following considerations: does one of the attorneys have better ratings, is one closer to you, does one specialize in your type of case or injury, is one known as a trial attorney, is one personally preferable because of age, experience, or publicity?”


About Yelp and Avvo, Attorney Walker cautions, “be careful, however, because there’s more than meets the eye.”  Unfortunately, some attorneys, and some of the people who work for attorneys, have in the past posted fake reviews and bogus endorsements. If you locate an attorney through Avvo or Yelp, it’s probably wisest to verify independently the information provided about that attorney.


Although the conventional wisdom holds that there are “too many lawyers,” another law – the law of supply and demand – means that the lawyers who are without clients are quickly out of work. An abundance of lawyers to choose from may seem a little overwhelming at first – especially for anyone trying to recover from a serious personal injury – but in Southern California, that abundance allows you to choose a Los Angeles or Pasadena personal injury attorney who is just right for you.


Anyone who has been injured by someone else’s negligence is entitled under California law to full compensation for all injury-related medical expenses, lost wages, and all other losses and damages arising from the accident and injury – if you can prove that you were injured by a defendant’s negligence. Don’t hesitate to stand up for your rights if you’ve been injured. It’s the right thing to do.

What are The Warning Signs of Elder Abuse?

Posted on: April 16, 2016 by in Personal Injury
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When a beloved family member is no longer able to care for himself or herself independently, a decision must be made about the best arrangement for that person’s care. The whole purpose of placing a parent or loved one into a nursing home or long-term care facility in California is to ensure that the parent or loved one is properly and well-cared for and will be kept protected and safe. When you select a nursing home facility for a loved one, you place trust in that facility and its staff. Usually, nursing home residents are properly cared for and protected. Occasionally, however, they are not.

In California law, “elder abuse” is a very broadly defined term. It can happen in many different ways, but elder abuse must never be tolerated or excused. Depending on the specifics of the case, justice for the elderly may be pursued through the civil and/or criminal court system. You might be wondering, what is elder abuse? What warning signs should a family member or a concerned friend look for? And what can be done if misuse is happening?

Elder abuse is any intentional or negligent action– or failure to act – that results in harm, injury, or the immediate risk of harm or injury to an older person, whether that harm or injury is physical, psychological, or financial. Elder abuse may include:

  • Physical abuse: use of force that causes intimidation or injury
  • Emotional abuse: verbal attacks, rejection, isolation, or humiliation
  • Sexual abuse: sexual contact that is forced, tricked, threatened, or coerced
  • Exploitation: theft, fraud, or deception used to gain control over an older person’s money or property. Financial exploitation may go undiscovered sometimes for years.
  • Neglect or abandonment: a caregiver’s failure or refusal to provide for a vulnerable elderly person’s safety or that person’s physical and/or emotional needs.

If you have a loved one now living in a nursing home, be certain that the facility is adequately staffed. Across the country, nursing homes and their residents suffer from a shortage of qualified personnel that severely impacts the quality of care to disabled and elderly residents. Many nursing homes simply do not hire the staff that they need. Federal guidelines are inexplicit and merely require facilities to hire “sufficient” staff.



Abusers of the elderly are rarely easy to identify. Elderly victims may be unable to report abuse, or they may be isolated, afraid, or ashamed to tell anyone about it. Elder misuse usually happens in the victim’s own home, in a caregiver’s home, or in a nursing home or other long-term healthcare facility. Often, the perpetrator of elder misuse may be an adult family member or even a spouse. Other offenders may include “new friends” who intentionally seek out and prey on older adults, as well as service providers in positions of trust. There is no typical profile of an abuser of the elderly, and frighteningly, it could be anyone.


In long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living residences, those guilty of misuse are usually the overworked, underpaid, insufficiently-trained employees of the facility. Although most long-term care facilities are professionally staffed and operated, it’s important for family members to stay alert to the possible signs of elder abuse even in the highest-ranked facilities.


Elder abuse may be difficult to identify because some victims may not understand that they are being abused. Those suffering from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia are especially at risk for nursing home abuse. The potential risk factors for elder misuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities also include negligent hiring practices, failing to conduct background checks, understaffing, and inadequate training. Elder abuse can take many forms. Here are some signs that family members or concerned friends should look for:

  • Slap marks, burns, or blisters. Explanations that don’t fit the circumstances should be treated suspiciously.
  • Withdrawal, depression, and unexplained mood shifts may be signs of emotional misuse or neglect.
  • A sudden change in finances, abruptly changing beneficiaries, wills, or trusts, unusual bank withdrawals, large loans, and any missing cash or jewelry are all signs of financial exploitation.
  • Untreated bedsores, bruises, cuts, a lack of dental care, uncleaned clothing, poor hygiene, overgrown hair and nails, and abrupt weight loss are almost always signs of neglect.


Trust your instincts. Do not be intimidated by nursing home personnel, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Victims of elder misuse may be the victims of more than one type of abuse, and almost any elderly person can be at risk for abuse. It’s important to understand that the victims of elder abuse should never be considered responsible and that the perpetrators of misuse are the persons responsible for it. And while almost any elderly person can be at risk, some are clearly more at risk than others. Factors that may increase an elderly person’s vulnerability to abuse include:

  • social isolation, loneliness, and the lack of any social support network
  • a mental impairment or disability that may increase an elderly person’s dependence on the abuser
  • an abuser’s own personal issues such as anger, drug and/or alcohol abuse, or an emotional or financial dependency on the misuse victim


While no federal law specifically protects elderly persons from abuse, every state has laws that specifically address elder abuse, exploitation, and neglect. Those laws vary from state to state.


State laws that already address battery, assault, theft, rape, fraud, and domestic violence may also apply in elder abuse situations, and when a victim of these crimes is elderly, a judge typically takes that into account when determining a sentence.

The state of California assumes the legal authority to investigate the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly or disabled person and to provide protective services immediately to that person upon confirmation of misuse. When nursing home misuse and neglect is reported, a criminal investigation can be started, adult protective services can become involved, and a lawsuit can be filed with the help of a California personal injury attorney.


A lawsuit provides immediate help and relief to the victim of elder abuse and prevents further harm. Reporting nursing home abuse is the first step in seeking justice. Of course, every elder abuse case is unique, so families that suspect abuse will need the advice of a California personal injury attorney. No one should ever hesitate to report elder abuse. Justice is available to the victims of misuse, but only if a friend or family member makes the initial report.