Page 2 of 4

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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 3.43.16 PM.png

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?

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 10.42.29 AM

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.

Am I Responsible for Another Driver’s Crash if He or She Used My Car?

One of the central tenets of American society is individualism – the belief that one is responsible for one’s own decisions and actions. Thus, when someone gets into a car wreck, it is only natural to assume that the driver who is responsible for causing the wreck should bear the burden of paying for any harm or damages he or she caused. In most cases, this is what happens: the driver whose careless or reckless behavior is primarily responsible for causing the wreck will be obligated to pay compensation to the other injured motorists (either through is or her insurance or out of his or her own pocket and resources).

Despite this, there may be several situations in which the owner of a car may be held partly to account for the damage done by another driver who uses the owner’s car.

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 10.42.19 AM

Situations Where the Owner – and the Driver – Can Both be Held Responsible

Where a car owner acts in a careless or reckless manner, he or she may be able to be held responsible for a driver or passenger’s injuries and losses. This can include situations like:

  •      Failing to hide the keys from unauthorized drivers: If the car owner knows or ought to know that an unauthorized person – an elderly parent or young child – is taking the car out for joyrides, the car owner may need to take certain measures to help prevent the person or child from obtaining the car’s keys and control of the car.
  •      Failing to stop an intoxicated driver: Similarly, a car owner who knows or should know that an individual is intoxicated may be held partly responsible for the injuries the intoxicated driver causes if the owner knowingly allows the driver to take the car. This liability may also exist if the car owner is the one who serves alcoholic beverages to the intoxicated driver.
  •      Failing to keep the car in good operating condition: Finally, a car owner may be held partly responsible for the injuries resulting from a crash if the crash is due to the car’s condition (such as underinflated or worn tires or defective brakes) and the dangerous condition of the car was known – or should have been known – to the car owner.

What Does This Mean for Car Crash Victims in California?

California car crash victims ought to take steps to learn the identity of the owner of the car that is primarily responsible in the car crash, especially if the facts and circumstances of the crash suggest that the car’s owner (if different from the driver) somehow contributed to the crash. This is the best method for an injury victim to pursue full and fair compensation and hold all responsible parties accountable for their negligence and recklessness when such behavior leads to injuries and losses.

Case Barnett Law is an experienced and dedicated California personal injury law firm. Contact them at (949) 861-2990 or online through their website if you or a loved one have been injured in a car wreck.

No More Rules of the Road for California Bicyclists?

California lawmakers are considering a new law that would amend bicyclists’ obligations and duties while traveling along California roadways. Presently, bicyclists are subject to the same “rules of the road” that govern motorists and their operation of motor vehicles. This means that a bicyclist must stop for red traffic lights and stop signs. A new bill, however, would permit bicyclists to disregard signs and signals that would otherwise require them to stop their bicycles and (essentially) allow bicyclists to proceed through the intersections governed by these signs and signals without stopping.

A Bicyclist’s Duty to Yield to Other Traffic

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 10.15.28 AM

In the event of a bicycle accident occurring at an intersection controlled by a stop light or stop sign, a judge or jury will need to determine which parties involved – the bicyclist and/or the motorist – acted in a careless or negligent manner. Where both the motorist and the bicyclist may bear some blame for the bicyclist’s injuries (for example, where neither the motorist nor the bicyclist were paying attention to the movement of cross traffic before proceeding through the intersection), a judge or jury will need to assign a “percentage of fault” to each party whose carelessness contributed to the crash. The size of the bicyclist’s monetary recovery would depend on how great the bicyclist’s percentage of fault is determined to be.

How Does a Judge or Jury Determine a Percentage of Fault?

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict who a judge or jury will assign percentages of fault. Instead, determining a percentage of fault is quite subjective and depends on the strength of the bicyclist’s case and the motorist’s defense. As one might expect, having legal counsel familiar with presenting bicyclist accident claims and/or defenses can help the party maximize the percentage of fault attributable to the other party while minimizing the percentage of fault attributable to him- or herself.

Trust your Costa Mesa personal injury attorneys at Case Barnett Law to help you recover compensation if you are a bicyclist and are injured by a careless motorist who is not paying attention to your movements on the road. The sooner you contact our office, the quicker we may be able to help you and your family during this difficult time. Call Case Barnett Law’s offices at (949) 861-2990; alternatively, you can reach our firm quickly by using our online contact form.

Multimillion Dollar Verdicts are Not Common in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 10.11.51 AM

Headlines are littered with news reports and press releases of personal injury lawsuits and other similar cases in which the injured victims obtain millions of dollars in monetary damages. With the large number of such cases that are reported on by the media, one might be forgiven for assuming that the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits end with such large sums of money being awarded to the victim. This, in turn, can lead a person to seek out an attorney who claims to have a record of obtaining these types of judgments to handle his or her own personal injury lawsuit.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 10.11.39 AM

The Truth Behind Multimillion Dollar Awards

In truth, only a small percentage of personal injury lawsuits end with the injury victim receiving millions – or even hundreds of thousands – of dollars in compensation. Those that do typically have several of the following factors in common:

  •      The victim was of a young age with few or no preexisting conditions that limited his or her life;
  •      The victim suffered a considerable amount of pain in the aftermath of the incident;
  •      The victim will be left permanently disabled in some way as a result of his or her injuries;
  •      The victim will require continuing medical treatment or medical assistance for a considerable length of time;
  •      The victim had children and/or a spouse who depended on the victim for love, companionship, and support;
  •      The victim was active in one or more activities prior to the incident, and as a result the victim may not be able to fully participate in these activities.

In addition, evidence that the at-fault party acted with extreme indifference, gross negligence, or deliberately caused the victim’s injuries can lead a court to impose punitive damages in addition to other economic and noneconomic damages.

What the Headlines Don’t Emphasize

Even where a victim obtains a multimillion dollar compensation award, this award may be reviewed by the trial court or one or more appellate courts. Any one of these courts may lower or throw out a judgment award they believe to be grossly unfair or disproportionate to the harm suffered by the victim. In other words, just because a victim was awarded a large sum of damages after a trial does not mean that he or she will actually get such an award, especially where the case was tried to a jury.

Can the Right Attorney Help Me Obtain More Compensation

To be sure, however, having the assistance of an experienced and skilled California personal injury attorney like a member of Case Barnett Law’s legal team can help increase the likelihood that you will receive a compensation award that fully and fairly compensates you for your injuries.  At Case Barnett Law, we carefully help our personal injury clients evaluate the losses they experienced as a result of their injury incident and then aggressively fight to help our clients obtain this compensation.  Contact us at (949) 861-2990, or complete our online form, and discuss your personal injury case with us today.

Strict Liability for Dog Bites in California – What You Need to Know

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 1.54.52 PM.pngDogs can make great companions, but a dog bite can be a traumatic (or even fatal) injury event. Unfortunately, such events are not uncommon in California: as recently as 2014, the Los Angeles Times dubbed California the “dog bite capital” of the United States based on the number of insurance claims filed for dog bite-related injuries and losses.

In California, dog owners are held strictly liable for the injuries that these canine companions cause. This does not always mean that dog bite injury victims have an easy time recovering compensation, however.

What Does “Strict Liability” Mean?

In some states, dog owners are only held responsible for the injuries and harm caused by their dog if the owner “knows or has reason to know” of the dog’s vicious or destructive tendencies. In these states, dog owners are said to have “one free bite” before they are held legally responsible for dog bite injuries: this is because a dog owner generally does not have reason to know that his or her dog is aggressive until after the dog has attacked at least one person.

This is not the case in California: in other words, dog owners in California do not get “one free bite.” California law holds that the owner of a dog is held responsible for any harm or injury that the dog may cause, even if the dog has never attacked anyone previously and/or the dog owner has no reason to suspect his or her dog is vicious or aggressive.

Strict Liability Does Not Guarantee Recovery

This does not mean a person injured by a dog’s bite will automatically receive compensation for his or her injuries, however. A bite from a stray dog or a dog whose owner cannot be identified may not result in any compensation as there is no one who can be identified and held to account. Similarly, California’s strict liability dog bite laws will not allow compensation to be awarded to someone who antagonized the dog prior to the dog’s attack, including individuals who trespass on the private property of others.

When to Contact a California Dog Bite Lawyer

Many victims of dog bites are young children: dog bite attacks of children, or any dog bite to the face, neck, or other vulnerable area of the body should be treated at the local emergency room right away. As soon as possible, though, you and/or your loved one should contact Case Barnett Law for legal assistance and direction. Taking swift legal action after a dog bite helps ensure the dog responsible for your injuries – as well as the dog’s owner – can be promptly located. Case Barnett Law’s team of dedicated personal injury attorneys will also examine the attendant facts and circumstances of your case so that you can understand your rights and to what compensation you may be entitled.

Contact your Orange County dog bite lawyers today by calling Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990, or by completing the firm’s online contact form.

No Cell Phones While Driving in California

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 2.00.40 PM.png

In response to the dangers of distracted driving, several states have banned drivers from using cellphones or smartphones to read or send text messages or e-mails while driving. This year, California goes one step further than the rest of the nation: a statewide ban on using a cellphone or smartphone for any purpose while driving – whether to watch online videos, talk to a friend or loved one, or look at a map. This new law (California Vehicle Code 23123.5) requires drivers to put down the cellphone while driving and not use it for any reason unless they are able to do so without touching the phone.

Eliminating Distracted Driving Through Legislation

When one describes “distracted driving,” references are made to activities that take the driver’s eyes and/or attention off of the road. However, distracted driving can also include actions that prevent the driver from using his or her body to safely control the car – such as holding a cellphone with one hand while attempting to drive the cellphone with the other hand. For this reason, the new ban in California prevents any use of a cellphone that requires the driver to physically hold the cellphone. The driver may use a cellphone that is securely mounted to the dash of the car and are able to be used hands-free. Fines begin at $20 for a first offense and then increase for subsequent violations.

Distracted Driving Requires Aggressive Action

Despite educational efforts and public awareness campaigns designed to shed light on the dangers of distracting driving, many Californians and other Americans continue to use cellphones without regard for the danger they present themselves and to others on the roadway. According to DistractedDrivingAccidents.com:

  •      About 25 percent of all traffic crashes in the United States involve a driver using a cellphone at the time of the crash;
  •      Seventy-eight percent of all distracted-driving crashes result in at least one person involved suffering severe injuries;
  •      Seventy-seven percent of adults and 55 percent of teenagers claim that they can safely text while driving (but it was also determined that teens veer out of their lane of travel for approximately ten percent of their total drive time when they text and drive);
  •      Ten percent of adults and 20 percent of teenage drivers have had actual text conversations (involving multiple text messages sent and received) while driving. One quarter of all teenage drivers will respond to at least one text every single time they drive.

Legal Dangers of Texting While Driving

Aside from the physical danger a distracted driver presents to him- or herself and others, violating California’s new law can also lead to you being held civilly liable for the injuries, losses, and related expenses suffered by an individual with whom you collide.

For those who have been injured by a distracted driver, your Orange County car crash lawyers at Case Barnett Law stand ready to assist you in seeking compensation for your injuries. Call our office at (949) 861-2990, or reach out to us through our website, and we will get to work helping you obtain the monetary damages you need for your distracted driving accident-related injuries.

After the Storm, Who Cleans Up?

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-1-49-15-pm

This past week a large swath of the country felt the wrath of winter storm Jupiter. In particular, some areas of the country saw an inch or more of ice accumulation, leading to downed power lines and snapped trees and branches. Not only did this cause power outages and general discomfort for many, but the devastation and destruction caused by the ice may take weeks to clean up. Not only is the question of how long a clean-up effort will take important, but so is the question of whose responsibility it is to clean up a residential or commercial property.

The Property Owner is Generally Responsible for Debris and Damage

In many cases, a property owner has the legal obligation and affirmative duty to make reasonable inspections of his or her property and correct any hazards present thereon through reasonable corrective actions. When trees are toppled and large, heavy branches scattered everywhere (not to mention downed power lines), it can be difficult to fulfill this obligation. Failing to do anything is not the answer, however, as even though the property owner may not have caused or contributed to storm damage, he or she may still be liable for injuries that occur on his or her property.

 

To reduce the likelihood of this occurring, consider taking one or more of the following actions following a destructive storm:

  1.     Clearly mark off the area of your property containing dangerous debris with highly-visible tape and leave this up until the damage can be cleaned. Be sure to encompass any area with a tree as branches may snap and fall even after the storm has passed.
  2.     Clean up the debris yourself, or hire a licensed and insured contractor to help you clean up the debris. Make sure that your clean up includes trimming any tree branches that have snapped but have not yet fallen.
  3.     Do not attempt to clean up any power lines yourself that have fallen to the ground as these lines may still be live. Instead, clearly mark off the area and take steps to alert others using signage or other means not to enter the area. Immediately contact your local utility company to advise them of the downed line so that they can safely remove it from your property.

Note that your local town or municipality may also have passed ordinances requiring you to take certain steps (such as clearing off any sidewalks in front of your property within a certain period of time).

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-1-49-28-pm

Reasonable Steps Can Save You (or Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company) Millions

Cleaning up after a destructive ice storm or other natural disaster may seem overwhelming; however, the law does not require you to go extraordinary lengths or expend large amounts of money in order to clean up. Instead, all that is required is that you take “reasonable” steps considering your situation to either clean up your property and/or alert others who might come upon your property of dangers and hazards.

If you or a loved one has been injured in California while lawfully present on another’s property (whether a residence or a commercial property), Case Barnett Law is here to help. Contact us to discuss whether the property owner took reasonable steps to clean the property and safeguard you or your loved one from harm. Call us at (949) 861-2990, or contact us online for assistance with your injury claim.

California Court of Appeals Affirms “Going and Coming Rule”

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 6.57.05 PM.pngThe California Court of Appeals recently affirmed the longstanding “going and coming rule” in announcing that an employer was not responsible for the injuries suffered by employees who were injured in a wreck while carpooling to a jobsite. In Pierson v. Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co., the plaintiff Pierson was struck by a vehicle being driven by an employee of Helmerich & Payne (H&P). The employee was also transporting two coworkers from their worksite to a nearby hotel. The hotel was being paid for by H&P, and though a supervisor had requested the employees carpool, H&P made it clear that each individual employee was responsible for securing his or her own transportation to and from the jobsite.

Plaintiff Seeks to Join the At-Fault Driver’s Employer

After filing suit against the at-fault driver personally, the plaintiff Pierson moved to join H&P as a defendant, alleging that the at-fault driver was an employee of the H&P at the time the crash occurred and that H&P received an incidental benefit from having the employees carpool together back to the hotel. (Naming the at-fault party’s employer as a defendant in a personal injury case is a common strategy, as the employer is likely to have the resources a personal injury plaintiff needs in order to fully recover his or her losses.)

Generally speaking, an employer is responsible for the tortious conduct of its employees when the employees are engaged in their work duties or engaged in some activity that provides an incidental benefit to the employer (such as an employer who allows an employee to take a company vehicle home where the employee has a sales call to go to while on the way home). Noting, however, the well-established “going and coming rule” – which holds that an employer is not responsible for an employee’s action when that employee is going to work or coming from work – the court sustained a motion to dismiss Pierson’s claim against H&P.

What This Means for California Personal Injury Victims

This decision means that California courts are likely to remain true to established legal principles concerning employers’ liability for the acts of their employees: that is, unless the employee is engaged in his or her job duties when the personal injury accident occurs, the employer will not be held responsible for the employee’s actions.

It is important to have the facts of your personal injury case carefully evaluated by the California personal injury law firm of Case Barnett Law. Determining whether a person’s employer can also be held responsible for your injuries and losses is a fact-intensive inquiry, and Case Barnett Law has the knowledge and resources to carry this important investigative task efficiently so you have the greatest chance of recovering full and fair compensation. Contact Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990, or contact us online, if you or a loved one have been injured by the careless acts of another.

NHTSA Moves to Prevent Distracted Driving

It is no secret that distracted driving is on the rise, along with the numbers of injuries and deaths attributable to distracted driving. According to the  (NHTSA), approximately ten percent of all traffic fatalities are due to distracted driving. While distracted driving occurs any time the driver’s attention and/or eyes are diverted from the act of driving, texting and driving (or using one’s cell phone while driving) is the most common type of distracted driving. To combat this, NHTSA has just promulgated a new voluntary guideline applicable to smartphone and auto manufacturers.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-1-23-20-pm

What the Voluntary Guidelines Attempt to Accomplish

According to the guidelines promulgated by NHTSA, smartphone manufacturers and automakers are to develop technology that is able to “sense” when a smartphone user is driving a vehicle and automatically disable many of the smartphone’s functions, including the ability to send and receive text messages and browse the internet. Although some auto manufacturers have already created technology that allows cellphone users to use a touchscreen inside the car to access many of a phone’s features, the technology contemplated by the guideline does not yet exist.

Voluntary Guidelines Do Not Absolve Drivers of Responsibility

Even when enacted, the voluntary guidelines are voluntary. This means that there are no legal ramifications for automakers or smartphone manufacturers who choose not to develop and/or implement the technology contemplated by the guidelines. This means that drivers who choose to text and drive – and who cause an accident as a result – cannot bring a claim for compensation against the automaker or smartphone manufacturer for failing to follow NHTSA’s recommendation.

The NHTSA guideline is also unlikely to have any mitigating effect on a car accident defendant’s culpability. In other words, suppose a defendant-driver in a car crash case is found to be 75 percent responsible for causing a crash because he or she was texting while driving. The defendant’s percentage of fault is not likely to be reduced by any amount if the defendant attempts to argue that the car manufacturer or smartphone maker failed to comply with NHTSA’s regulation.

What if New Technology Malfunctions and Causes a Car Crash?

If the technology that is the subject of NHTSA’s voluntary guideline is developed, and this technology malfunctions, however, the entity responsible for developing and/or integrating the technology may be held responsible if the malfunction causes a crash (i.e., by causing the phone to startle the driver). In such a case, it would be the defendant-driver’s responsibility to prove the manufacturer acted with negligence and that such negligence contributed to the crash. The judge or jury would then be responsible for determining the role the manufacturer’s negligence played in causing the crash.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a distracted driving accident, contact the Costa Mesa car crash law firm of Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990. You or your loved one may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses, and our experienced legal team can assist you in obtaining the monetary damages you need to recover from your accident.