Beware of Eavesdropping in Your Personal Injury Case

Following your Orange County car crash or other personal injury accident, you will soon learn that your ability to recover full compensation for your injuries and expenses will depend in large part on your ability to show that another person is responsible for causing the accident or incident that resulted in your injuries. Absent a confession or admission of fault, this task can only be completed through the use of evidence and perhaps the testimony of one or more witnesses.

Suppose, however, that while out at a restaurant you see the person you believed caused your injuries in a secluded corner talking on his or her phone. He or she is obviously talking about the crash or accident and begins to make statements admitting fault and responsibility to the person to whom he or she is talking. Before you pull out your smartphone and begin recording the conversation, take time to consider whether your intended course of action might be criminal.

Eavesdropping in California

When a person utilizes an electronic recording device such as a digital recorder, a digital camcorder, a smartphone, or another similar device to record a confidential conversation of another without the consent of every party to the conversation, that person has committed the crime of eavesdropping. Not only does this subject you to potential civil and criminal fines, but you could also be incarcerated for up to one year. Obtaining a confession or admission of guilt through illegal means can cause the court hearing your personal injury case to exclude such confession from consideration at trial.

Whether a conversation is “confidential” or not depends on the specific facts present at the time the communication was made. Key to making this determination is whether the parties appeared to have intended that their conversation be private and confidential. While speaking at a public restaurant at a table may not indicate an intention for a communication to remain private, going to a secluded area of that same restaurant and deliberately communicating as far away from others as possible may lead a court to a different conclusion.

Does This Mean I Can Never Record an Admission or Confession?

California’s eavesdropping law does not prevent you, for example, from electronically recording a statement the at-fault party makes to you if the at-fault party gives you permission to record his or her statement. Nor does the law prevent you from making a written record of statements you overhear the at-fault party make in a public setting.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a California personal injury accident, speak with us at Case Barnett Law about your situation as well as evidence that might potentially be available for you to use in your quest for compensation. Call us at (949) 861-2990, or reach out to us using our online contact form.

Defenses in California Personal Injury Cases

When one begins talking about legal defenses, it is common to assume that a criminal case is being discussed. However, defenses are relevant in both criminal and civil cases alike, in defending against criminal charges and allegations of civil wrongs. Some of the defenses a defendant in a civil case might raise are merely designed to challenge the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s evidence of liability against him or her; other defenses are such that the defendant admits that he or she engaged in wrongful conduct but that this was somehow excusable under the facts and circumstances of the situation.

Why Plaintiffs Should be Aware of Potential Defenses

Crafting a winning strategy with your personal injury attorney requires considering potential defenses that the defendant might raise. Doing so helps ensure that you locate the appropriate witnesses and/or evidence to prove your case.

In any California personal injury case, defenses that might be raised include:

  • Did not engage in careless behavior: One of the most basic defenses to civil liability involves the defendant claiming that his or her actions or behaviors were not “careless” or “negligent” in that a reasonable person might have engaged in the same actions or behaviors that he or she did. This can be raised by argument and/or through challenging the conclusions of the plaintiff’s witnesses.
  • Plaintiff’s own carelessness: This defense strategy does not seek to absolve the defendant of all responsibility for his or her actions, but instead seeks to assert that the primary or predominant cause of your injuries was your own carelessness. A successful defense of this sort lessens the defendant’s civil liability. Just as you (the plaintiff) must come forward with evidence of the defendant’s carelessness, so too the defendant must prove your carelessness with evidence and/or testimony of witnesses of his or her own.
  • Necessity: One is legally permitted to otherwise enter another person’s land if it reasonably appears to the person that trespassing on the other person’s land is necessary to prevent someone from suffering serious harm or death. This is another affirmative defense which requires the defendant to bring forth witnesses and/or evidence to establish that such a necessity existed by a preponderance of the evidence.

Work with an Experienced Orange County Personal Injury Attorney

At Case Barnett Law, we understand that when you file a personal injury lawsuit, you have one chance of success. That is why we invest the time and resources in locating evidence that will help prove your case and defeat any potential defenses the defendant. This helps you have the best possible opportunity for recovering full and fair compensation following a car wreck, slip and fall, or other California personal injury accident. By contacting Case Barnett Law early, we can better utilize our resources and skill to strengthen your case. Call us to discuss your personal injury case with us today: call (949) 861-2990, or reach out to us online.

Beware of First Impressions in Personal Injury Cases

First impressions are important, but they can also be deceiving. Just as the person who appears to be shabbily dressed can be a genius with considerable wealth, so to can a personal injury accident that may appear to not provide you with any opportunity to obtain monetary damages nonetheless actually allow you to recover compensation for your injuries. In other words, just as you ought not judge a “book by its cover,” you must also be wary of concluding that you are not entitled to monetary damages based on mistaken beliefs and assumptions about personal injury cases in Orange County.

Common Misconceptions About Personal Injury Accidents in Orange County

Regardless of where we first heard these lies and misstatements of the law, believing any of the following to be true and refusing to take action because of them can seriously and negatively impact your legal rights. Beware of the following inaccuracies concerning personal injury accidents:

  • I collided with the vehicle in front of me, so I am at fault: While in a significant number of rear-end collisions the trailing vehicle is the one who is primarily responsible for causing the crash, this does not mean that the lead vehicle’s driver cannot be at fault in a rear-end collision. A lead driver who suddenly and inexplicably brakes or who brakes or turns without signaling can easily be found to be negligent and to have contributed to your injuries.
  • I did not go to the doctor right away, so my injuries are now my responsibility: It is always a good idea to obtain medical evaluation and treatment as soon as possible after a personal injury accident. However, failing to do so does not necessarily mean you cannot obtain any compensation at all. Rather, your failure to obtain timely medical treatment will be one of several circumstances a court will need to consider in determining the amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
  • The store put out a “Wet Floor” sign that I did not see, so my slip and fall is my fault: Property owners and businesses must take “reasonable steps” to protect guests and customers from dangers like wet floors. This may require a property owner to put out signs alerting others of the danger and/or promptly correct the hazard. You may still be entitled to recover after a slip and fall at a store if evidence shows the property owner failed to promptly clean up the spill.

Speak with a California Personal Injury Attorney Today

It is always advisable to speak with an Orange County personal injury law firm such as Case Barnett Law about your legal rights as opposed to making decisions and conclusions on your own. Our firm fights aggressively on behalf of our personal injury clients to help them obtain the compensation to which they are entitled. Call our firm at (949) 861-2990, or complete our online contact form today

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is one of many tools available to litigants and their attorneys in a California personal injury lawsuit. It is one of the primary methods whereby parties are able to determine what information the opposing party and/or its witnesses have concerning the subject matter of the lawsuit. Despite the frequency with which depositions are conducted, many individuals and litigants can easily be confused about the purpose and manner in which they are conducted.

When are Depositions Conducted?

Depositions are conducted as part of the general discovery process. The discovery process typically begins after your lawsuit has been filed, any response from the defendant has been received, and any initial dispositional motions have been heard and determined. In many situations, depositions are conducted near the end of the discovery process and after the attorneys involved have had the opportunity to review documents, reports, and expert opinions relevant to the subject matter of the dispute.

Can I, as a Personal Injury Plaintiff, be Deposed?

You not only can be deposed, you probably will be deposed by the opposing party’s attorney or legal team. A deposition is an opportunity for attorneys and parties to compel the opposing party to answer questions under oath. These answers can then be used to argue a motion for summary judgment or at trial to impeach you if you change your answers (for example). Because personal injury lawsuits are civil in nature, you generally do not have the right to refuse to answer questions or show up for a deposition.

If your answer to a question would tend to implicate you in criminal activity (i.e., an insurance fraud scheme), you may have the right to invoke your Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer. Otherwise, you will be expected to answer all of the questions asked of you truthfully and to the best of your knowledge.

Are There Limitations on How Depositions are Conducted?

Yes, although they are limited in nature. In most cases, your attorney only has limited grounds upon which to object to questions posed to you and/or badgering or unprofessional behavior by the attorney asking you questions. You may not be deposed for hours upon hours, especially without any break or opportunity to eat or use the restroom (it is a deposition, not an interrogation). You also will usually have the opportunity to look at a written transcript of your deposition and make corrections or supplements, if needed.

How Does Case Barnett Law Help Me?

If you are injured in a personal injury accident, Case Barnett Law will help you file your lawsuit and guide you through the discovery process. When you are deposed, we will help prepare you ahead of time and will be with you during the deposition to help protect your rights. Our goal is to remove as much uncertainty and fear from the civil recovery process as possible. Contact Case Barnett Law and discuss your case and the recovery process with us today: Dial (949) 861-2990 or contact us through our website.

Are You Ready for Your California Slip and Fall Accident?

Consider how many times you walk onto the personal or business property of another person in any given day in California:

  • If you start your day with a trip to your local coffeehouse, you are on the private property of another, which he or she has opened to the public for business use;
  • If you were to then stop by the gas station in order to fill your car up with gas, once again you would be on the private property of a business owner;
  • Once you arrive at the office, you are (once again) on the private property of another – your employer;
  • Going home, if you stop at the grocery store or go to a restaurant, yet again (you guessed it!) you are on the property of another person.

A slip and fall injury can suddenly occur at any one of these locations, or any other time you find yourself on the property of another, whether for personal or business purposes. No matter your occupation or income level, you are at risk of a slip and fall or trip and fall injury whenever you leave your home.

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What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall?

Slips and falls that happen while you are lawfully present on another’s property can be the basis for a successful personal injury lawsuit against the property owner. Depending on the actions you take immediately after the fall, recovering compensation through such a lawsuit may or may not be a straightforward endeavor:

  • Seek medical attention, especially if you struck your head or believe you may have suffered a serious injury: Obtaining prompt medical attention for any injuries you may have suffered will not only help prevent your injuries and the effects thereof from worsening, but doing so will also limit the property owner’s ability to claim your own carelessness contributed to the severity of your injuries and losses.
  • Do not sign any waiver or release: Carefully review any release or waiver that is presented to you by the property owner. Some owners may promise you a cash payment in exchange for your signature on such a form, but signing may mean giving up important legal rights. Have an experienced attorney review and discuss the waiver with you prior to signing.
  • Speak with a lawyer as soon as possible about your rights: Like other types of personal injury suits, you only have a limited amount of time within which to initiate your claim for compensation. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the sooner you can begin the process of obtaining monetary damages for your injuries.

Contact Your Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one have slipped and fallen while on the property of another and your fall was due to an obstruction or hazard the property owner failed to correct or warn you about, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Case Barnett Law today at (949) 861-2990, or contact us online for assistance.

Four Reasons Why Your California Personal Injury Case is Not Resolved

One of the chief concerns of personal injury victims in California is when they can expect their case to be resolved. Obviously, a timely and successful resolution to the case means that the victim will be able to enjoy the benefits of the monetary damages award ordered by the court. However, even when the case is unsuccessfully resolved, the victim is at least able to begin the long and difficult process of moving on with his or her life. Again, the sooner this occurs, the better it is for the injury victim. So why, then, do some personal injury cases take months or years to resolve while others do not?

Top Four Reasons Your Case is Still Open

Your California personal injury attorney is in the best position to tell you why your specific case is still pending and hasn’t been resolved; however, some of the more common reasons why this happens include:

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  •      Your case is complicated. If your case involves a considerable number of witnesses or complicated evidence requiring an expert’s explanation, your case will take longer to resolve than other cases. While you may have little control over the evidence or witnesses in your case, hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the evidence and experts typically present in these types of cases can help speed the case along.

 

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  •      You or the other party do not want to settle. A settlement agreement can resolve your case quickly and result in you obtaining some measure of compensation in a timely fashion. However, a settlement is only possible where both you and the other party wish to resolve the dispute in this manner. If either party insists on a trial, then the case will not be resolved as quickly as it would otherwise be through a settlement.

 

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  •      Discovery and/or pretrial issues exist. When one party has not fulfilled its discovery obligations by turning over discoverable material, or when the court has ordered that one party or the other undertake some action and the party has failed to do so, these issues can stall a resolution of your case until the obligation or task has been completed.

 

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  •      The court’s and/or attorneys’ calendars are full. A delay in your case may be the result of nothing more than the attorneys’ and/or the judge being unavailable to address your case any earlier due to preexisting cases and commitments connected therewith.

Reach Out to Case Barnett Law Today for Prompt Assistance

Case Barnett Law is your Orange County personal injury law firm, and we understand the importance of resolving your case as successfully as possible and as quickly as possible. We have years of experience helping Costa Mesa injury victims accomplish both of these tasks. We will quickly but thoroughly evaluate your case and will devote our firm’s knowledge and resources to helping you obtain compensation for your injuries. Call our office at (949) 861-2990, or contact us online, and let us assist you in your quest for compensation.

A Personal History of Negligence – Is It Relevant?

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We all know individuals who are chronically clumsy or careless. These generally are not bad people; rather, they simply seem to routinely forget to take the precautions and protections necessary to keep themselves and those around them safe. While this can cause these individuals to develop a negative social reputation – individuals know to be on their guard whenever they are around such people – can this reputation be used in a personal injury lawsuit to help an injury victim prevail?

How Prior History Could Be Helpful to a Personal Injury Plaintiff

Plaintiffs who are injured by individuals known to be clumsy or negligent may wish to have this information presented to a judge or jury to help bolster their claim. The plaintiff could argue, for example, that because the defendant has a history of engaging in careless conduct that injures others, it is more likely than not true that the person engaged in careless behavior in the present case. In other words, the plaintiff could argue that while any defendant is capable of engaging in negligent conduct, a defendant with a reputation for clumsiness is more likely than others to have been careless in a personal injury incident.

The California Rules of Evidence and Evidence of Carelessness

Knowing the persuasive power of such evidence, the California Rules of Evidence prohibit a plaintiff from introducing evidence of a defendant’s character or reputation or of specific incidents of negligent behavior for the express purpose of creating an inference that the defendant is more likely to have committed a negligent act in the present case. To illustrate, the Rules of Evidence in California would not permit a plaintiff to introduce the fact that the defendant has been found at-fault in five previous car accidents to suggest to the judge or jury that the defendant is at fault in the present case.

There are exceptions to this general prohibition, however. First, evidence of prior acts or reputation can be admitted as evidence of the defendant’s motive or the lack of mistake. Also (and more significant), evidence of prior acts or reputation is admissible when used to rebut the defendant’s characterization of his or her habits or reputation. If the defendant in a car accident case testifies that he has a spotless driving record and is a careful driver, the plaintiff could then introduce evidence of prior car accidents in which the defendant has been involved to rebut the defendant’s testimony.  

Contact Case Barnett Law for Help with Your California Car Wreck Lawsuit

The experienced Orange County car accident lawyers at Case Barnett Law are thoroughly familiar with the rules of evidence applicable in California personal injury lawsuits. We know how to help you build a convincing case for compensation, and we will devote our firm’s resources to collecting the evidence you will need to prevail in your case. Call Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990, or reach out to the firm online for help today.

When are Warning Labels Appropriate for Products?

In our current culture, we are accustomed to seeing warning labels on various types of products – lightbulbs, coffee cups, and scissors are just a few of the everyday items we use that have one or more obvious dangers but that still have labels and advisories alerting consumers and users of the product to those dangers. Are avocados the next product to receive a warning label? According to a report in the London-based Times, surgeons in the United Kingdom are seeing increasing numbers of patients who have caused serious damage to their hands (including nerve damage). This has led the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons to begin pushing for warning labels on the delicious fruits.

When are Warning Labels Appropriate for Products?

In general, manufacturers of products that may be dangerous to the average consumer even when used as directed are generally advised to include warning labels alerting consumers to these dangers. This is why many disposable coffee cups include a warning regarding the likely temperature of the contents, why scissors include a warning on the package advising the user of the potential dangers of being stabbed or cut, and why lightbulb packages alert the consumer about the heat that a lightbulb can produce.

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Are Avocado Warning Labels Coming Soon?

Unlike dangers that are inherent in a product’s design and construction, avocados themselves are not inherently dangerous. That is, holding an avocado or deciding to use one in your next meal is not in and of itself dangerous. It is only when one decides to use a knife or other sharp instrument improperly while opening an avocado that one risks stabbing one’s hand and/or causing nerve damage as a result of a stab wound. Because there are no “hidden or obvious” dangers with the avocado itself, it is unlikely that avocado farmers will need to place warning labels on the fruit.

What If a Dangerous Product Does Not Have a Label?

If you or a loved one are harmed by a product that has dangerous characteristics or properties and there was no warning label present on the product and/or its packaging, a warning defect may exist. If the manufacturer of the product knew or should have known of the product’s dangerous characteristics and the manufacturer unreasonably failed to place a warning to alert consumers, then the manufacturer may be civilly liable to any consumers who are subsequently injured by the dangerous product. Whether a particular product needs a warning label – and, if so, how detailed that warning label ought to be – are usually fact-specific inquiries.
Case Barnett Law can assist you and/or your loved ones if you find yourself injured by a dangerous or defective product in California. Our experienced and dedicated legal team will investigate the facts and circumstances of your injury and will help you obtain compensation for your losses and injuries. Contact Case Barnett Law today to discuss your dangerous product-related injury by calling (949) 861-2900 or by reaching out to us online.

Beware of Common Hazards at Sports Stadiums

Baseball season is in full “swing” (pun intended), and over the course of the next several months, hundreds of thousands of individuals in the California area will flock to one or more sports arenas to cheer on the home team (whether that would be the Athletics, the Padres, the Giants, the Dodgers, or the Angels). While a baseball game can be a great way to spend a weekend or weeknight, the venues in which these events are held are full of dangers and hazards that can cause you, your spouse, and/or your children significant harm.

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Top Five Common Dangers at Sporting Arenas

Tragedy can befall you and/or your family at the ballpark if those in charge of maintaining the park in a reasonably safe condition fail to perform their duties. Common hazards that lead to significant injuries include:

  •      Wet floors / dirty floors: Hot dogs, condiments, and/or water are just a few of the substances that can make walkways and restrooms at the ballpark slippery for pedestrians. Falls due to slippery floors can be especially dangerous for older ballpark patrons as their injuries may be more severe and/or require significantly more time from which to heal.
  •      Flying objects: Foul balls and splintered bats can strike fans who are not paying attention. The force with which these and other items from the playing field enter the stands and strike spectators is significant: as a result, deep internal injuries, concussions, and/or other catastrophic injuries are possible under these circumstances.
  •      Other fans and spectators: In the not-too-distant past (In 2011, to be precise), a Giants fan was severely beaten in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium after a matchup between the two teams. It was alleged that the owners of Dodger Stadium did not have enough security present to prevent or disrupt a fight.
  •      Elevators and escalators: Elevators and escalators are useful and helpful in moving large numbers of people up and down the many floors of a sports arena. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 30 individuals are killed and another 17,000 injured every year in elevator and escalator accidents. An elevator or escalator accident is more likely to occur if the device has not been serviced or maintained properly.
  •      Food poisoning: A 2009 ABC News report cited findings from ESPN that at 30 stadiums across the nation over half of food vendors were in violation of food safety standards. In California, the report showed that 16 percent of vendors were found to be in violation at Dodger Stadium, 13 percent of vendors were in violation at Angel Stadium, 10 percent of vendors were in violation at Petco Park, and 4 percent of vendors were in violation at AT&T Park.

When to Call Your Orange Count Personal Injury Law Firm

If you or a loved one are injured while at the ballpark this season, speak with your California personal injury attorneys at Case Barnett Law before agreeing to a settlement with the park owners. You may be waiving important legal rights by signing a settlement. We can quickly and thoroughly review your case and inform you of all your legal options so you can make the best decision for yourself and your family moving forward. Call Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990, or contact us online today.

Is It a Good Idea to Speak with Witnesses Following My Car Wreck?

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Even though car crashes are (arguably) a common occurrence in Orange County, a car wreck can still draw a considerable amount of attention from onlookers and bystanders. Some of these individuals will leave the scene of the crash before you or anyone else can speak with them, but others will remain around and be eager to talk with you, the other driver(s) or passenger(s) involved, and law enforcement officers who respond to the scene.

Choosing whether to engage these witnesses in conversation following your wreck is a decision that can have both positive and negative consequences.

Positive Results in Speaking with Witnesses at the Scene of a Crash

One of the greatest benefits to speaking with witnesses who remain around the scene of your crash is that you may be able to identify those witnesses who can provide an objective and unbiased account of what led to the crash and who may have been at fault. Being able to identify these individuals and securing their presence at any future trial can often determine whether your case for compensation will succeed or fail.

Even if a witness did not see the crash occur, he or she may still have observed other behaviors or overheard important conversations that can impact the outcome of your case. For example, a witness may have overheard the other driver involved in the crash say in a telephone conversation that he or she “screwed up” or observed the driver furtively attempt to hide his or her cellular phone. In either case, such information may suggest the driver was at fault in causing the crash (at least partially).

Potential Disadvantages to Speaking with Witnesses

Conversely, you may accidentally disclose damaging information to witnesses at the scene of your crash if you are not careful. A witness may ask if you require medical attention, for example: saying that you do not need an ambulance or that you are uninjured may impact your ability to recover compensation for medical bills if it becomes necessary later to obtain such treatment. In such an event, the other driver whom you allege is responsible for your injuries may call the witness with whom you spoke at the scene of the crash and that witness may recount the conversation he or she had with you for the judge or jury.

Be Sure to Speak with an Orange County Car Crash Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Whether you speak with any witnesses at the scene of the crash or not, be certain to speak with your experienced California car crash lawyers at Case Barnett Law as soon as possible. By retaining our services quickly, we can take action to identify witnesses to your crash (both helpful and those who can jeopardize your claim for compensation) and build as strong of a case as possible. Call us at (949) 861-2990, or contact us online for help today.