Archive for the ‘ Personal Injury ’ Category

Can An Uninsured Driver File A Claim Against An Insured Driver?

Posted on: February 18, 2018 by in Personal Injury
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If you drive with no auto insurance, and if you injure someone, you’ll be in big legal trouble. But what if you have no insurance, and you are the one who’s injured? Will you have any recourse?

Driving without automobile insurance is not a good idea. It’s against the law in California. This state requires every driver to carry the following minimum automobile insurance coverages:

1. $5,000 for property damage
2. $15,000 for one person’s injury or death
3. $30,000 total for the injuries or deaths of more than one person in a single accident

These are merely the minimum coverage amounts set by California law. Motorists can – and probably should – carry more coverage, particularly uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.


However, the state of California also allows vehicle owners to choose from three other options for compliance with the state’s financial responsibility laws.

Instead of buying a regular commercial auto insurance policy, vehicle owners in California may:

1. make a $35,000 cash deposit with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
2. obtain a self-insurance certificate from the California DMV
3. obtain a $35,000 surety bond

California is an automobile insurance “fault” state rather than a “no-fault” state.


If you are injured in a traffic accident in southern California and you are not the at-fault driver, seek advice at once from an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.

Your lawyer may – or may not – recommend filing a personal injury claim.

A number of factors must be considered before making that decision, but your future and your health are too important to risk. You must have the advice of a good personal injury attorney.

Do not agree to any settlement offer from an insurance company until you’ve consulted a good injury lawyer, and do not sign anything – you might be waiving your right to take legal action.


If you eventually file a personal injury claim, your claim will probably be settled out of court. That’s how more than ninety percent of personal injury matters are resolved in California.

But if an acceptable settlement is not offered, your lawyer may recommend taking the case to trial. If you can prove your claim in court, you can be awarded the compensation you need.

Nevertheless, an uninsured driver – even one who is injured by a negligent-but-insured driver – may face some serious consequences for driving without auto insurance.


If a California traffic crash results in any injury, death, or property damage exceeding $750, both drivers must present evidence of “financial responsibility” to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Financial responsibility” means legally sufficient auto insurance coverage or one of the three self-insurance options (listed above) which California allows in lieu of auto insurance coverage.

If you do not have proof of financial responsibility at the time of an accident, you will be fined, your driver’s license will be suspended for one-year, and your vehicle may be impounded.

After a year, if you can show proof of financial responsibility, you may apply to have your driver’s license reinstated.

But a second accident without insurance can result in a four-year driver’s license suspension.

Some states like Hawaii have different laws, so it is advised to consult with a Wailuku personal injury attorney.


If you drive without insurance, and you are involved in an accident that injures both drivers, the other driver may seek to claim damages against you – whether or not you file your own claim.

It is in every California driver’s best interests to make certain that you have adequate automobile insurance coverage. If you don’t, you must obtain it as swiftly as possible.


If you cannot afford vehicle liability insurance, you may qualify for the California Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program.

You can learn more about this program at the California Department of Insurance website,

The program provides affordable automobile liability insurance to eligible California drivers who demonstrate financial need, provided that they satisfy the program’s other requirements.


If you are involved in an accident as an uninsured driver, you could be held personally liable for property damages, personal injuries, and even wrongful death in the worst-case scenario.

But what if you are in compliance with California’s auto insurance regulations, and you are injured in southern California by a driver who is both at-fault and uninsured?

Except to notify your own insurance company that an accident has happened, do not make any statement to an insurance company.

As mentioned previously – and this is key – if you’ve been injured, do not sign any document provided by an auto insurance company before you’ve obtained legal representation and advice.


Instead, after you’ve been examined by a healthcare professional, discuss the accident and injury immediately with a good personal injury lawyer.

You’ll need to learn where you stand legally, and most personal injury lawyers will review your case for free. Your attorney will sort out the details and explain your rights and legal options.

If you file a personal injury claim, let your lawyer negotiate with the insurance company – while you focus on recovering your health.


California does not require motorists to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.

But when you consider that one out of every seven California drivers has no auto insurance coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance can provide genuine protection.

Uninsured motorist insurance kicks in if you are injured by a negligent driver who has no auto insurance coverage. It’s coverage that your own insurer provides when the other driver has none.

Why is having uninsured motorist coverage so important, especially in California?

Because drivers with no auto insurance are – as you would predict – drivers with no resources, so pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in such cases is almost always futile.


Still, if you are injured by another California driver’s negligence, and without regard to who is or is not insured or how much insurance either driver has, you are entitled to full compensation for your damages.

Those damages include all of your accident-related medical expenses, your lost wages and any future lost earnings capacity, pain, suffering, and all other related damages and losses.

The right lawyer will use every appropriate legal tool and strategy to help you win that compensation.

You are also entitled to justice. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in southern California, let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney help you obtain it.

Employer Liability In California Car Accident Cases

Posted on: January 22, 2018 by in Personal Injury
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If you’re injured by a negligent driver in a traffic accident in southern California, you are entitled by law to compensation.

But if the driver who crashed into you was working and “on the clock” when the accident happened, is the driver’s employer also liable?

How is liability determined in these cases, and how can that determination impact your legal rights and your compensation?

You need to know, because anyone could be injured in our congested southern California traffic.

Where does legal responsibility fall if an employee, while on the clock, drives negligently and injures you in a traffic collision?

Employers can be held liable in two different ways for an accident and injuries.

Employers can be held directly accountable if they make poor hiring decisions or if the employees and/or the business itself is supervised negligently.

Employers can also be held indirectly liable for the negligence of employees who are on the clock.

When employers hire drivers, those employers have a “duty of care” to investigate a prospective driver’s past driving record.

To drive a company-owned vehicle, the employer should also verify that the driver has a valid commercial driver’s license.

Employers must also enforce reasonable safety practices, ensure that company-owned vehicles are properly maintained, and monitor the performance of their drivers.


In some cases, employers who are negligent about these duties may be found directly liable when an accident with injuries takes place.

An employer’s liability may also be “vicarious” when an employee’s negligence is assigned indirectly or “imputed” to the employer under the legal concept known as “respondeat superior,” a term from Latin meaning “let the superior respond.”

However, employers may be vicariously liable for employee negligence only when an employee’s negligence was unintentional and when it took place within the “scope” of the employee’s job performance.

In any particular accident involving an on-the-clock driver, a number of questions must be asked and answered to determine if an employer has vicarious liability, such as:

– Was the negligent driver legally an employee, or was the driver instead working for the employer as an independent contractor?
– Was the driver’s negligence unintentional or intentional?
– When the accident took place, was the driver acting within the “scope” of his or her job duties?


“Respondeat superior” only applies to an employer if a driver is an employee, not a contractor, and was actually working on the employer’s behalf when the collision took place.

For instance, if an office worker is sent out to purchase office supplies, and that worker crashes into you while on the way to the office supply store, the employer in such a case potentially could be held liable.

But if instead of returning directly to work, that same office worker decides to stop in for some coffee at Starbucks, and that employee crashes into you and injures you in the Starbucks’ parking lot, because the worker was not acting at that moment on the employer’s behalf, in that instance, the employer should not and probably will not be held liable for the accident and injury.

Employers are not considered responsible for intentional acts of harm committed by employees.

For example, if you cut off that same office worker in traffic as he or she is leaving Starbucks, and he or she intentionally chooses to retaliate by running you off the road or by crashing into your vehicle, the driver’s employer has no liability for that kind of wrongful intentional behavior by an employee.


An injured accident victim seeking compensation from a negligent driver’s employer will have to prove that the driver was an employee and was not working as a contractor.

If a driver who injured you was operating his or her personal vehicle, using his or her own gas, oil, and insurance, and if no taxes are withheld from the driver’s pay, the driver is probably a contractor, and responsibility for accidents caused by the driver will probably be the driver’s alone.

In California, the majority of injury claims are settled out-of-court. If you are injured by a negligent driver in Pasadena or the greater Los Angeles area, a personal injury attorney can review the details of the accident and your injury, determine who may be liable, and negotiate for your compensation.

You must have an attorney’s help.

California personal injury law is complex, and vicarious liability cases are particularly complicated.

Personal injury lawyers are experienced negotiators who regularly handle negotiations for their injured clients.

If an acceptable settlement amount is not offered during out-of-court negotiations, a personal injury attorney will take your case to trial and advocate aggressively for the compensation you need. But you must put your attorney on the case quickly if you have been injured by a negligent driver.


After an accident with injuries, you must notify your insurance company that you’ve been in an accident, but do not make any statement, sign any insurance forms, or agree to a settlement offer before consulting a personal injury lawyer.

If your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, refer the company to your attorney.

A personal injury attorney will handle all of the legal aspects of your case while you focus on regaining your health.

In the state of California, anyone who has been injured by another driver’s carelessness or negligence is entitled to complete compensation for his or her medical care, for wages lost due to being injured, for pain and suffering, and for all other losses and damages arising from the accident.

When an injury is catastrophic – such as a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury, an injury resulting in amputation, or any injury leading to paralysis or permanent disability – that injury victim will require the maximum amount of compensation that is available.

An experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney can help.

Your health must be your highest priority.

If you are injured in the greater Los Angeles area or anywhere in southern California by another person’s negligence, a California personal injury lawyer will protect your rights and fight for the compensation – and for the justice – that you need and deserve.

How Are Car Accident Settlement Amounts Determined?

Posted on: November 19, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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It’s probably happened to you or to someone you know. You file an auto insurance claim after a collision, but what the insurance company wants to pay you is far less than the cost of the auto repairs. How can this happen? If an insurance company will not meet its responsibility to you, do you have legal recourse? Keep reading, and you’ll learn what every California driver needs to know about negotiating an auto insurance claim.

Because every accident is different, when auto insurance companies calculate settlement amounts, there’s no precise or reliable formula that can be routinely applied. Instead, auto insurance companies must take a variety of factors into account including the determination of fault, the property damage in a collision, any personal injuries that are sustained, and the limits of the drivers’ insurance policies.


If you aren’t injured in a collision, and if your claim is strictly for the damage to your vehicle, you’ll be seeking to repair or replace the damaged vehicle part(s) or the entire vehicle. When the replacement or repair cost exceeds the value of the vehicle, the vehicle is deemed a total loss, and you should be fully compensated for that loss. Too often, however, the compensation amount that a claimant is offered is not sufficient to repair a vehicle or to buy a replacement.

But if you are injured in a California traffic collision, a personal injury claim is negotiated separately from the property damage claim. Your injury compensation from the insurance company is supposed to cover all of your medical expenses and lost wages. The medical records documenting your injuries will be scrutinized and will have considerable influence on the final compensation amount that the insurance company offers you.

If you are not injured in an accident, and you’re up to the task, there’s no reason why you can’t negotiate directly and on your own with the auto insurance company. But if you are injured in a traffic accident here in southern California, before you submit any claim, sign any insurance document, or make any statement to an auto insurance company, consult first with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.


It’s imperative for all California motorists to understand their auto insurance. After you file a claim, if you are not pleased with a company’s settlement offer – let’s say that your car was a total loss, and you believe that your vehicle was worth more than the amount being offered – you can accept the offer anyway, negotiate on your own or through an attorney for a better offer, or retain an attorney to argue your insurance claim in civil court.

If you are negotiating with a claims adjuster, and the offer you receive is insufficient, you must provide some kind of evidence to support your position. That evidence might be photographs of the vehicle both before and after the crash, receipts for previous enhancements and repairs to the vehicle, and/or estimates from qualified appraisers.

Don’t simply accept a claims adjuster’s estimate of your damages and repair costs. When you file a damage claim after an accident, you have the right to obtain your own repair estimates and the right to have your vehicle examined and repaired by any mechanic who is certified in the state of California.


Remember – a claims adjuster answers to a company and a boss. According to Wikipedia, a claims adjuster “investigates insurance claims by interviewing the claimant and witnesses, consulting police and hospital records, and inspecting property damage to determine the extent of the company’s liability.”

Claims adjusters identify the damages that an insurance policy covers, and they negotiate settlements on the company’s behalf for property damages and personal injuries. Adjusters answer to senior adjusters and to supervisors who make the important liability, coverage, and negotiating determinations.

If an adjuster insists that a particular amount is all that the company can or will pay you, that’s probably not actually true. If your evidence proves that your vehicle was worth more than the settlement offer amount you are being offered, an adjuster can ask a company manager to approve a higher amount – provided, of course, that you’re dealing with honest insurance professionals.


Negotiating on your own can genuinely pay off when the auto insurance company operates ethically and legally, but if you are not treated fairly and forthrightly by a claims adjuster – or if you’re simply being ignored by the company – get an attorney’s help. In extreme cases, your attorney may recommend filing a bad faith lawsuit against an insurance firm that will not meet its obligation to you.

If you are injured by a negligent driver in southern California, you are obligated to notify your auto insurance company about the accident, but don’t make a statement or file a claim at that time. Instead, take your case directly and immediately to an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney who routinely represents the injured victims of negligent drivers.


In California, if you are injured by another driver’s negligence, the law entitles you to complete compensation for all of your medical care and lost wages. However, you’ll have to prove that you are entitled to the compensation, which means proving that you were injured and proving that the other driver’s negligence is the reason why. That will require an experienced California injury lawyer’s help.

Insurance companies, like all other companies, have to make a profit, but they must also meet their responsibilities. When a property damage claim or a personal injury claim is rejected, undervalued, or delayed for no good reason, those making legitimate claims can suffer financial hardships.

If you’ve suffered physical injuries in southern California because another motorist was negligent, consult first with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney. If you agree to a quick settlement or sign insurance papers before you discuss your case with an injury attorney, you might be signing away legal rights that you’ll need if you are severely injured.

Instead, have an experienced California injury attorney negotiate your insurance claim. If an insurance company’s final settlement offer is insufficient, your attorney may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit and seeking compensation in the courts. Adhere to your attorney’s advice, because after a serious accident, your health and your future are too important to risk.

Proving Fault In Slip And Fall Accidents

Posted on: October 19, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Did you know that falls – not traffic crashes – are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries? That’s right. Slip-and-fall accidents cause 41.5 percent of spinal cord injuries, and falls also cause traumatic brain injuries, head, back, and neck injuries, broken bones, and even internal injuries. If you are hurt in a fall on someone else’s property, do you have legal recourse? Can you be compensated? Keep reading, because a serious fall can happen to anyone.

Every year, thousands of people in California are injured, often seriously, from slipping or tripping and falling on a floor, stairs, or even on pavement that is – for whatever reason – slippery and hazardous. A cracked sidewalk or potholes in a parking lot can cause serious injuries. So can a rug, carpet, or floor mat that curls up over time. As you might guess, the elderly suffer the greatest number of slip-and-fall injuries.

In California, if you’re injured slipping and falling on someone else’s property, and if you can prove that the accident happened because the owner of the property was negligent, you are entitled to compensation for your medical costs arising from the injury, your lost wages due to your injury, and all other injury-related losses and damages.


Winning that compensation is not always easy, however. You are not simply handed reimbursement, even when you are legally entitled to it. In Southern California, you’ll need to have an experienced Pasadena premises liability attorney representing you and advocating on your behalf. You’re about to learn what it takes to prevail with a premises liability claim arising from a slip-and-fall injury.

A premises liability case arising from a slip-and-fall injury, in effect, asks and answers this basic question: If the owner of the property had been more careful, would the accident have happened anyway? Obviously, a property owner is not necessarily liable for every injury that might happen on his or her premises. We are all obligated to be alert and aware of our surroundings.

Every premises liability case, of course, is different, but generally speaking, the law requires property owners to take “reasonable” steps to keep their properties free of hazardous conditions. The law seeks to balance the property owner’s general and reasonable obligation to keep a property safe with an injury victim’s own responsibility to be alert and aware.


How is that balance achieved by the courts, and how are slip-and-fall cases resolved? Again, every case will have its own particulars and details, but to prevail with a premises liability claim, an injury victim – legally called the “plaintiff” – must show that at least one of the following three conditions existed at the time the injury occurred:

– The property owner or the owner’s employee should have known of the hazard, because a “reasonable” owner in the same circumstance would have known of the condition and repaired it.
– The property owner or the owner’s employee did, in fact, know of the hazard but did not repair it.
– The property owner or the owner’s employee caused the hazard.

In some instances, a property owner may not allow a Fair Housing Act emotional support animal which is against the law. They may not know the legal details, but most property owners generally understand that they are obligated by the law to keep their properties free of dangerous conditions. Thus, most premises liability claims are concerned with what a property owner “should have known” and what “reasonable” action the property owner did or did not take.

Frequently, the two key questions in these cases are:

– How long was the dangerous condition present before the injury occurred?
– Was that a reasonable amount of time for the owner the repair the condition?

Even when a property owner learns about a plumbing leak, a cracked sidewalk, or a creaking stairwell, it may take several days to repair the condition or to arrange for contractors to repair it. In the interim, a property owner should post warning signs or find another way to inform anyone who may be affected.


If you are injured and you accuse a property owner of negligence in a premises liability claim, in many cases that property owner will try to throw the blame back on you, the victim.

The defenses that property owners may offer against premises liability claims include:

– The victim was distracted and was not paying attention to his or her surroundings.
– The victim was in an area where the public is not allowed or expected.
– The victim was wearing improper or unsafe footwear.
– The hazardous area was marked by yellow cones and warning signs.
– The hazard should have been obvious to a normal, average person.

If you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident and your premises liability case goes to trial, California’s “pure comparative negligence” rule kicks in to determine the amount of compensation an injury victim can receive. Under pure comparative negligence, whatever damages a victim receives will be reduced by the percentage of the victim’s own fault.

Thus, if a jury determines that you were thirty percent at fault for your slip-and-fall injuries, and your total damages amount to $100,000, the property owner will only be liable for $70,000 – representing seventy percent of the fault for the accident and injury.

Although most premises liability cases are, in fact, settled out of court before a trial can begin, if you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident and your case cannot be settled out of court, a jury or judge will determine if the property owner should have known (or did know) about the hazardous condition that caused your fall and injury and if the property owner had or did not have a “reasonable” opportunity to repair it.


If you own rental property, retail property, or any other private property accessible to the public, you need to make sure routinely that pavements and sidewalks are unobstructed and even, that rugs and carpets are flat, and that spills, leaks, and rainwater are cleaned up at once.

Slip-and-fall accidents can be caused by dangerous property conditions that include:

– wet, slippery, or newly-waxed floors
– rainwater that accumulates in doorways and walkways
– clutter and objects that obstruct walkways, hallways, and aisles
– doormats, floor mats, or rugs that are torn or curled
– aging, uneven, or damaged stairs, particularly wooden stairs
– craters, potholes, or cracks in sidewalks or pavement
– poorly lit or unlit parking areas and walkways

When you sustain an injury in any kind of accident in Southern California, seek medical attention at once, and understand that some injuries may be hard to detect at first. If you believe that another person’s negligence might be in any way responsible for your injury or injuries, after obtaining medical attention, discuss the case – promptly – with an experienced Pasadena premises liability attorney.

California’s statute of limitations for premises liability lawsuits is two years. If you don’t file your lawsuit within two years of the slip-and-fall injury, you will not be able to recover damages. At any rate, you don’t want to delay for two years after a slip-and-fall injury and then scurry to file a lawsuit before the deadline. Once you’ve been checked out medically, have your legal options explained to you right away by an experienced California premises liability attorney.

How To Claim Insurance For A Car Accident In California

Posted on: September 19, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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According to the National Safety Council, approximately 15,000 traffic collisions happen daily in this country. When you’re involved in a crash in California, you’ll need to take some steps at the crash site, and you’ll need to take some other steps as quickly as you can. There are also some things that may seem like the right thing to do but must be avoided. The following “do’s and “don’ts” are some tips to guide you through the claims process.

After a vehicle accident in California, filing your own claim and negotiating directly with an insurance company is usually not a problem – that is, if you’ve only sustained vehicle and property damage or minor scrapes and bruises – but if you’ve been genuinely injured by a negligent driver in southern California, it’s best to put your case immediately in the hands of an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.


1. At the accident scene, summon medical attention first and at once if it’s needed for yourself or for others. If you don’t think you have been injured, have a doctor look at you anyway, and within 24 hours if at all possible. Call the police – you’ll eventually need a copy of the accident report. Trade your personal contact and insurance information with the other driver, take photos of the damages and the general accident scene, and try to get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses.

2. Notify your auto insurance company that you’ve been in an accident. You’ll need to make that call immediately after the accident or immediately after receiving medical attention. Later, but before you speak with your agent or with an insurance adjuster, review your automobile insurance policy and make certain that you understand its provisions. Take notes regarding each discussion you have with an insurance agent or an adjuster, and get the names, titles, and phone numbers of everyone you speak to about the accident.

3. If you’ve been injured, go ahead and notify the insurer that you’ve been involved in a collision, but before you speak about the accident with an agent or an adjuster, consult with a reliable and experienced personal injury attorney who can explain your legal rights and options as a victim of negligence in this state.

4. Determine if you have applicable coverage under another insurance policy. Several types of policies might cover an injury claim. Check into the provisions of your homeowner’s policy, any umbrella policies you may have, and even your credit cards, which sometimes offer several types of insurance provisions.

5. If you choose to negotiate personally with your own insurance company or with the other driver’s insurance company, be completely and absolutely forthcoming and honest during all discussions and negotiations. A failure to be entirely honest might void your auto insurance policy or become a barrier to obtaining affordable auto insurance coverage in the future. Intentionally misrepresenting the facts to an insurance company could constitute insurance fraud.

6. Understand the distinction between “actual cash value” and “replacement cost coverage.” With replacement cost coverage, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for property damages before you receive reimbursement. California entitles property damage victims to the amount of the vehicle’s repairs, or if the vehicle is deemed a total loss, to its “fair market” (or “actual cash”) value.


1. Until you are certain that you understand your automobile insurance policy’s provisions, don’t make any written or verbal statement to the insurance company. Again, if you’ve been injured, it’s always best to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer first.

2. Do not blindly accept the insurance company’s estimate of your damages. Some companies will ask you to agree to their own estimates, which may not, in fact, cover all of your costs. You have the right to have your vehicle examined and repaired by any mechanic who is certified in California. If the cost of repairs exceeds the insurance company’s offer, a repair shop will have to work with the insurer to ensure full payment. For this reason, it may be expedient to work with the company’s approved shop, which regularly deals with such circumstances.

3. This is absolutely imperative. Unless you are certain that you have been treated and compensated fairly and sufficiently, do not sign any waivers, releases, or any other insurance documents before consulting an attorney. If you agree to a settlement amount that is less than the actual worth of your damage claim, you will not be able to take any further legal action.

4. Do not overlook deadlines and time limits. Most auto insurance policies require you to file a claim within a specified period of time unless you can obtain a waiver – in writing – from the company. Many auto insurance policies also give you only a year to bring a lawsuit if you believe the claim hasn’t been handled properly. In any event, California’s statute of limitations gives you only two years to file a personal injury lawsuit and three years to file a property damage lawsuit.

5. Do not forget that your insurance company has a contract with you and a legal responsibility to provide the insurance coverage specified by its policies. When a claim has been undervalued, entirely denied, or unreasonably delayed, some accident victims may face serious financial hardship. Do not overlook an insurance company’s bad faith practices. Instead, discuss your options, which may include pursuing a bad faith lawsuit against the insurance company, with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.


Traffic accidents involving negligent drivers who cause injuries generate thousands of personal injury lawsuits every year. Minor collisions are usually resolved quickly, and most insurance company employees are honest and hard-working professionals. Still, accidents in this state that result in serious injuries – or wrongful death – should be handled only by a reliable California personal injury attorney.

Whenever you travel on California’s streets and highways, wear your seat belt. Make sure that your tires, brakes, and lights work properly every time you get behind the wheel. Negligent drivers ruin innocent people’s lives, so if you are injured in this state by a negligent motorist, reach out to an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney, and put a skilled, committed advocate on your side from the very beginning.

Who Is Liable For Truck Accidents In California?

Posted on: August 15, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, every day in this nation, more than ten people are killed in a commercial trucking accident. Of those fatalities, about 83 percent are not the occupants of the commercial truck – they’re passengers in other vehicles or they’re pedestrians.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the annual cost to the economy of truck and bus collisions in the U.S. is $99 billion. Can these figures be reduced? What causes so many truck accidents, and who is liable for these collisions?

If you’re injured in a collision with a large commercial truck, the law – and the questions about what caused the crash and who is responsible – quickly gets complicated. Unlike most car accidents, many parties can be involved in a trucking accident – not just the driver of the truck but also the owner, the leasing company, contractors, subcontractors, and possibly other parties as well. If you are hurt in a truck crash and you need to seek compensation for your injuries, you will need to be represented by an attorney who knows the trucking industry and routinely represents truck accident victims.

Trucks by the thousands roll in and out of Southern California every day. Understanding how truck crashes happen and how the various parties involved are related can help an injury victim decide whether or not to file a personal injury lawsuit after a truck accident. This is a general overview of liability issues in truck accidents, but if you’ve been injured in an actual collision with a truck in Southern California, it is best to obtain detailed legal advice about any particular case by speaking with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.


Can a truck’s owner or another party ever be deemed responsible for a truck driver’s negligent driving? Under California law, sometimes the answer is yes. If a truck driver’s negligence was unintentional and occurred within the “scope” of the driver’s duties, an age-old legal principle called “respondeat superior” (a Latin phrase meaning “let the superior answer”) can be applied, and the truck’s owner or owners can be held liable for injuries caused by a truck driver’s negligence.

Respondeat superior legally “imputes” a worker’s liability to the worker’s employer, as if the employer had personally committed the negligence. But applying respondeat superior to any specific trucking accident will hinge on the answers to these questions: Was the negligent driver an employee or an independent contractor? Was the negligence unintentional or intended? Did the carelessness and the subsequent accident occur within the scope of the driver’s duties?

An accident victim seeking compensation from a trucking company will have to prove the negligent driver is a company employee and not an independent contractor, because employers usually are not liable for the negligent actions of contractors. If a trucker was driving his or her own truck with his or her own insurance, and if a company does not withhold taxes from the driver’s pay, that truck driver is likely to be an independent contractor.


Defining who is and who is not a legal employee usually isn’t difficult, but accurately defining what is and what is not within a truck driver’s “scope of employment” can be more problematic. Courts use a variety of elements to determine the parameters of a “scope” of employment, including an employee’s intention at the time of a negligent behavior, the nature, time, and location of that behavior, and the amount of independence typically allowed to the employee while performing his or her job duties.

How does all of this apply to a real truck accident? Let’s say that a trucker making a delivery rear-ends another vehicle. Because the crash happened while a delivery was being made, the trucker was acting within the scope of his or her employment.

However, if that same truck driver goes a mile out of his or her way to drive through a Starbucks or a McDonald’s before making the delivery, and if an accident happens as a result of driving that extra distance, the truck owner or company may not be liable since the accident happened “outside” the “scope” of the driver’s employment.

Employers generally are not responsible for intentionally wrong actions committed by employees – like an assault or a battery, for example. That’s because the principle of respondeat superior does not come into play in such cases, because such cases have nothing to do with the scope of employment or the cost of doing business. If a trucker crashes intentionally into a vehicle that cut him or her off in traffic, for example, an employer usually will not be held liable.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the trucking industry, along with a variety of federal and state laws that regulate and govern independent truck drivers as well as truck companies. The weight trucks may carry, the hours that drivers can work, and the training a truck driver must receive are just a few of the items regulated by law.

If you or someone you love is hurt by a trucker driving negligently, any violation of a federal or state trucking rule or regulation by either the truck driver or the company will be considered evidence that favors the victim and increases the likelihood that a victim’s personal injury claim will succeed.

Sometimes more than a single party will be liable for damages sustained in a truck crash. Leasing companies, contractors, and subcontractors are all part of the trucking business. If a truck’s brakes or tires were defectively manufactured, if cargo wasn’t properly loaded, or if a truck is improperly maintained, several defendants may share a percentage of the liability for causing a collision with injuries.

Personal injury cases are almost always settled outside of court, but if you are injured by a negligent truck driver and you file an injury claim, that claim may be harder to settle if multiple defendants cannot agree among themselves regarding who pays what.

Only a brief introduction to truck collisions and liability can be made here. If you or your loved one is hurt in a truck collision in Southern California, you’ll need frank and easy-to-grasp advice about your rights, your options, and your legal recourse. Let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney offer the trustworthy legal advice that a truck collision victim in the Los Angeles area will need.

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.