According to the Current Law, California Truckers Must Take a Break After Five Hours

If you have ever tried to make an interstate road trip in a single day, you have probably experienced firsthand how difficult and dangerous it is to drive when you are tired. If it is difficult for a road-weary and sleep-deprived driver to operate a vehicle that is carrying just a few people and perhaps some suitcases, imagine how hard is to drive safely after seven or more hours on the road when the vehicle subject to your bleary-eyed decision-making skills weighs numerous tons and is carrying enough food to feed an entire city. All states, including California, have laws limiting how long truck drivers can drive without taking a break, but California has some of the strictest rules about trucking safety. The most recent version of the Federal Aviation Association reauthorization bill has upheld California’s right to impose its rules, which are stricter than federal regulations.

According to the Current Law, California Truckers Must Take a Break After Five Hours
Case Barnett Law has expertise in handling big rig and semi truck accidents in Orange County.

In the world of personal injury law, this means that trucking companies could be leaving themselves open to truck accident lawsuits if truck drivers who cause accidents turn out to have been driving in California for more than five hours without a break.

What the New Bill Means for California Trucking Safety Rules

The federal bill, House Bill 302, contains provisions to determine how often truck drivers must stop to rest, among other provisions. Currently, federal law states that the longest a driver can go without a 30-minute break is eight hours, while in California, the limit is five hours. Since the maximum length for a workday for a truck driver is 11 hours, it means that in California, truck drivers must take at least two breaks during each eleven-hour shift. FAA regulations must be revised every five years, so HB 302 will determine the rules that will be in place for the next five years.

Legal Controversies Surrounding Mandatory Rest Periods for Truck Drivers

California’s five-hour limit on driving without rest helps prevent truck accidents, but the discrepancy between the federal laws and the state laws causes confusion and sometimes lawsuits. When truck drivers from out of state reach California during their interstate trips, are they required to stop after five hours, or can they keep driving until they reach eight hours?  Currently, states can override the federal rules. Truckers from other states have followed California law, taking a break after five hours, causing them to be late for deadlines set by employers in their home states. The truckers have filed class action lawsuits against the trucking companies that employ them, demanding their right to the breaks mandated by California law.

Contact Case Barnett Law About Commercial Vehicle Accident Cases

Regardless of their state of origin, truck drivers in California must take breaks every five hours.  If you were injured in an accident caused by a truck that had been on the road in California for more than five hours, you almost certainly have grounds for a lawsuit.  Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you have been seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle.

How do Courts Quantify Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The cliché that the things that truly make your life enjoyable do not have a price tag is true. In fact, most people do not even realize how much their happiness depends on being able to walk without pain, drive without fear, or rely on the emotional support of a family member unless they have lost those things temporarily or permanently. If you have never suffered a serious injury in an accident, you might balk at the amounts that courts sometimes award to plaintiffs and assume that the plaintiffs or their attorneys are being greedy by requesting such large sums. In fact, sometimes courts use a mathematical formula to determine the amount of money to award for physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment. The amount awarded for pain and suffering in car accident lawsuits sometimes comes down to multiplying the economic damages by a certain number, depending on how much the suffering resulting from the accident has changed the plaintiff’s life.

Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases
Case Barnett Law understands the impact of pain and suffering in an injured person’s life.

The General Damages Multiplier

Courts and insurance companies sometimes multiply the economic damages associated with a car accident (past and future medical expenses, property damage, and past and future lost income) by a factor of anywhere from one and a half to five. The idea is that long-term physical pain and emotional suffering resulting from an accident compound the damage caused by the accident. For example, if the accident left you with a phobia of driving, whereas you once used to enjoy driving, then that could lead the court to apply a general damages multiplier. Likewise, in a wrongful death lawsuit, the more the plaintiff depended on the victim financially and emotionally, the greater the general damages multiplier. People sometimes give the example of a personal injury lawsuit settlement worth three times the amount of the medical expenses, but this is just one example.

Providing Evidence of Pain and Suffering

In order to show how much the accident disrupted your life, you must give evidence of things you used to be able to do that you can no longer do because of your injuries. For example, were you an athlete and are no longer able to play your favorite sport? Were you an accompanist for your church choir, but because of hand injuries resulting from the accident, can you no longer play the piano? Did you used to enjoy ballroom dancing with your spouse, but you can no longer participate because the accident left you with chronic pain, thus leaving your spouse without a dance partner and a valued social outlet? All of these things can factor into a court’s decision when awarding non-economic damages.

Contact Case Barnett Law About Car Accident Cases in Orange County, California 

If you have been injured in a car accident, you might feel like no one understands how much the accident has disrupted your life, but a skilled personal injury lawyer knows how to show evidence of your suffering. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you have been seriously injured in a car accident.

Who is Liable in a Personal Injury Case?

You have probably seen co-workers and party guests show up at work and parties, respectively, sporting bandages, and then proceed to tell stories about the freak accident that resulted in the injury. Freak accident stories are quite entertaining, as long as the injury is minor, and the weirder the circumstances of the accident, the better. Sprained your finger lifting a baby out of a bouncy seat? Priceless! Bit your tongue in a tragic singing accident and had to get four stitches?  Dinner party anecdote gold! Caught 20 crabs in a single fishing trip, and the smallest one pinched your thumb as you threw them into the pot to cook them? You will be a local legend!

Orange County Personal Injury Attorney | Case Barnett Law Premises Liability Lawyer On the other hand, accidents that are serious enough to get you admitted to the hospital or keep you out of work for an extended period are not simply harmless fodder for shooting the breeze.  It is important to find out if any of the circumstances that led to the accident could have been prevented because any party that ought to have prevented the accident could be a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit.

A Personal Injury Lawyer can Help You Determine Who is Liable

Imagine that you are finishing a canoeing trip with friends. You are getting out of the canoe, when it capsizes. As it overturns, you get injured when you crash into a post sticking slightly out of the water, part of a broken dock, which you could not see when you went to get out of the canoe.  It is a freak accident, to be sure, but was it anyone’s fault? Do you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, such that the liable party could be required to compensate you for your medical expenses? Is the owner of the dock liable for letting the dock fall into disrepair, such that the post caused your injury? If so, it is a premises liability lawsuit. Did the canoe manufacturer fail to make the canoe stable enough? If so, it is a product liability lawsuit. Did the friend who was in the canoe with you when it capsized fail to stabilize the canoe? A personal injury lawyer can help you parse which parties had which responsibility to prevent the accident and determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Why File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you were injured in a preventable accident, a personal injury lawsuit can help you get compensation for medical expenses and lost income related to injuries suffered in the accident.  If it is a product liability lawsuit, a successful lawsuit could also lead to stricter safety regulations about the product.

Contact Case Barnett Law About Personal Injury Cases

Discussing your accident with a personal injury lawyer could be your first step to recovering financially from a serious injury. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you have been seriously injured in an accident and think that you might have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

Treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries are Promising but Expensive

In 1995, Christopher Reeve, the actor who had played Superman in several movies, was injured in a horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. The world was shocked to see the once-athletic Reeve confined to a wheelchair, but he made many public appearances after his catastrophic spinal cord injury. He spent the rest of his life raising awareness about the need for research for new treatments for spinal cord injuries, and after his death in 2004, his widow Dana continued her husband’s campaign. Spinal cord injuries are devastating; even a celebrity as wealthy as Reeve could not pay to restore his ability to walk.  Research on the treatment of spinal cord injury is ongoing, however, and in the last few years, medical scientists have been at work on developing promising new treatments to repair damaged nerve tissue and to find other means to restore the function of the limbs of people with spinal cord injuries. Currently, though, as with many complex medical problems, the most effective treatments are beyond the financial means of most people.

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New Horizons in Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Research

Currently, no treatments exist that can restore people with severe spinal cord injuries to their former state of health before the injury. Many treatments exist, though, and research continues to find a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury. Here are some of the most promising current research trends.

  • Neuroregeneration: Most of the cells in the body, including the axons (an appendage of nerve cells) of the peripheral nervous system, can regenerate themselves, but the axons of the brain and spinal cord cannot. Research aims to treat the injured spinal cord with antibodies that target myelin, a coating on the axons of the spinal cord that prevents the axons from regenerating. The goal is to enable the spinal cord to repair itself, restoring sensation and voluntary movement.
  • Stem cell transplants: Stem cells can differentiate to become cells of the various tissues of the body. Research aims to transplant stem cells to the spinal cord and enable them to regenerate functional spinal cord tissue.  Embryonic stem cells show promise in this regard, but because of the ethical concerns surrounding their use, researchers are also experimenting with transplants of stem cells that are present in adults, such as neural stem cells (which become nerve cells), mesenchymal stem cells (which naturally differentiate into bone, muscle, and fat) and induced pluripotent stem cells (adult stem cells that have been altered so that they can function like embryonic stem cells, which can differentiate into virtually any type of cell).
  • Medical devices: While not actually repairing the spinal cord, devices such as exoskeletons and brain-computer interfaces may help people with spinal cord injuries regain the use of their limbs.

Contact Case Barnett About Spinal Cord Injury Cases

If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, being able to pay for treatment can save your life or vastly improve its quality. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Who is Liable When the Cause of Your Injuries is a Car Airbag?

Car airbags prevent many more serious injuries than they cause. The purpose of this post is not to make you cagey about riding in a car with airbags. The clickbait industry thrives on fear; there is an entire genre of articles that deal in variations on the theme of “Is your [insert name of harmless product that you use every day] endangering you?” This is not one of those articles; airbags make cars safer in the event of a car accident, not more dangerous. It is possible for airbags to cause injury, though, when they malfunction and even sometimes just by doing what they were designed to do. If you were injured in an incident involving a car airbag, you should contact a personal injury lawyer, just as you should for any other accident that results in injuries.  Depending on the nature of the accident, it could be just another car accident lawsuit, or you might have grounds for a product liability lawsuit.

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How Airbags Work

Airbags are fabric bags concealed within the steering wheel, door, or other structures of the car.  They contain an impact sensor and inflation mechanism, so that they can inflate quickly in a collision and then deflate slowly. They first became widespread in the 1980s; originally, they only protected drivers in front impact collisions; thus, they were less effective in minimizing injury during side impact crashes and could not protect passengers besides the driver. By contrast, many 2018 models of cars have six airbags or more.

While airbags can reduce injury by cushioning impact and acting as a restraint, the mere presence of airbags in your car does not mean that you will walk away from the accident without a scratch. The rapid inflation means that the airbags themselves can cause minor injuries such as bruises, even when they work ideally. If you get injured in a car accident despite the car’s airbags functioning as they should, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against the driver whose negligence caused the accident.

When Airbags Malfunction, it Could be Product Liability

In a product liability lawsuit, the injured party sues the manufacturer of the defective product that caused the injury.  If your injuries were caused directly by a malfunctioning airbag, or if your injuries are more serious than they would have been if the airbag had worked properly, you might have grounds for a product liability lawsuit. These are some ways in which airbags have caused or worsened injuries in car accidents:

  • The airbag failed to inflate.
  • The airbag exploded, causing shrapnel to injure the plaintiff.

Airbags are designed for adults. If the airbag inflates when a child is in the passenger seat, it might injure the child because of the child’s height relative to the airbag. For this reason, children should never ride in the front seat until the meet the age and height requirement for doing so.

Contact Case Barnett About Car Accident Injuries

Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you have been injured in a car accident in which airbags inflate.

Railroad Crossing Safety Standards in California

When you are a child, it is fun to stop in front of a railroad crossing. You hear the bells and see the gates come down and then watch from your parents’ car as the train zooms by. You count the cars from the engine all the way to the caboose, and by the time the train has passed and you can safely cross the track, you feel as though you have been party to a special occasion.

When you are a busy commuter, having to stop to wait for a passing train is an annoyance. You count the minutes until you can finally continue your drive to work. Of course, these instances only apply when the railroad crossings are safely constructed and operated. If railway crossings are not properly constructed and operated, the resulting railroad crossing accidents can be devastating. The causes of railway crossing accidents are many, but if they are because of a flaw in the railway crossing, then the injured party could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

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Rules and Regulations Governing Rail Crossing Safety

The California Public Utilities Commission is in charge of making sure that the railway crossings in California are safe and properly maintained. A railway crossing is an intersection where a railroad crosses another railroad or a public road. These are some of the safety requirements for railroad crossings in California:

  • The minimum overhead clearance above railroad tracks where freight trains travel is 22 and one half feet. If a railroad track ends inside a building, then the minimum overhead clearance inside that building is 18 feet. The freight cars on these tracks cannot be taller than 15 feet; taller freight cars must bear permanent labels that say “excess height.” For railroads built only for commuter passenger trains, the minimum overhead clearance is 14 feet.
  • The minimum clearance between the center lines of two parallel tracks must be at least 14 feet.  Certain types of tracks require an even greater clearance.
  • It is illegal to place any items on the ground or on the platform within eight feet of a railroad track. A visible marker should indicate the eight-foot mark beyond which one cannot place any items.
  • When a railroad crosses above a public street or road where vehicles operate, there should be a 15-foot minimum overhead clearance. When a road open to vehicular traffic crosses above a railroad track made for freight trains, the minimum overhead clearance is 22 feet six inches.

Were There Violations of Safety Standards at the Site of an Accident?

If you are involved in a train accident, you should always document whether the minimum clearances were being observed and whether the required markings were present. If they were not, and you were injured in the accident, then you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact Case Barnett About Railroad Crossing Accidents

If you were injured in a railroad accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California to discuss your case.

Documenting Your Injuries After a Car Accident

2.nowordsIt is hard to think clearly after a car accident, even if at first it seems that no one was injured and the accident was not very serious. In the moment, the first thing that you might think about is how mad your boss will be if you are late to work or how upset your spouse will be if your already high car insurance premiums get even higher. It is important to think about your health first, though. Many personal injuries that result from accidents do not start showing symptoms immediately. Back or neck pain resulting from the collision tends not to show up until a few days later, but it can last a long time and be difficult to treat. In order to have as much documentation as possible to show your insurance company and, if necessary, your lawyer, take the following steps immediately after you are involved in an accident.

If You Go to the Emergency Room

If the police who report the accident recommend that you go to the emergency room to have your injuries evaluated, do not refuse just because it is an inconvenience to spend a big part of the day in an emergency room waiting to be seen by a doctor. Ask the nurses in the emergency room to take photos of any injuries you have sustained, if any of your injuries are visible. When you do see the doctor, ask for a written recommendation about how many days, if any, you need to miss work. This will be valuable information in your legal case when it comes to proving lost wages.  You will have written proof that your injuries sustained in the accident were the reason you missed work; the other side will not be able to argue that you simply chose to take a certain amount of time off of work.

A Doctor’s Expert Opinion

Unless your primary doctor is nearby and you can easily see him or her without an appointment, the emergency room physician is usually the first medical professional who will do a full evaluation of your injuries after the accident. Emergency room doctors must provide a detailed report when they release you from the hospital. Ask the doctor to include his or her assessment of exactly what caused your injuries, such as the angle from which the other car hit your car.  Also ask the doctor to include written instructions about future treatment you will need.

Make an appointment with your regular doctor as soon as you can after being released from the emergency room. Have your primary care doctor review the emergency room doctor’s notes and make any further recommendations in writing, including referrals to a specialist. Reports from physicians are some of the strongest evidence you can use in court in a personal injury case.

For More Information Download Our Free Book 

Download our free book, The 7 Biggest Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Accident Claim, to learn more about the steps you can take right now to protect your claim. Avoiding these mistakes could save you thousands of dollars.

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Contact Case Barnett About Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents

The key to a successful personal injury lawsuit is gathering as much information as you can as soon as you can. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California about your personal injury case.

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.

When Do I Get My Personal Injury Compensation Award?

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Those injured in a serious personal injury accident – as well as the surviving family members of decedents killed in a fatal injury accident – usually have two overriding concerns on their minds when they visit with a personal injury law firm. First, these injury victims and family members want to know if they have a viable case. Answering this question requires our legal team to analyze the facts and circumstances of the person’s situation and utilize our knowledge of the law to render an informed opinion as to whether the person has a realistic opportunity to recover compensation for his or her injuries and losses.

The second most common question – and an equally compelling question, too – that injury victims want answered is this: “How long will it take to get my compensation award?” This is understandable considering that many injury victims are facing significant financial hardships due to medical bills and decreased wages. Unfortunately, it is not always as easy to determine when an injury victim will actually get the money in his or her hands.

If Your Case Settles Before Trial

If you and the at-fault party in your civil action decide to settle your case, then the settlement agreement will usually indicate when and how the defendant in your case is to pay you. This is typically true if you and the defendant settled the case yourselves or if a mediator assisted in brokering the agreement. Because a settlement agreement should be an enforceable contract, you should be entitled to additional damages and/or other legal relief if the defendant fails to pay within the time specified.

If You Win Your Case at Trial

If your case proceeds to trial and you prevail, the judge will enter an order fixing the amount of compensation the defendant must pay and the time within which he or she should pay. This timeframe can be paused if the defendant decides to appeal the trial’s result, legal issues that arose during the trial, and/or the amount of compensation ordered by the court. If the defendant does file an appeal, then the defendant is usually not required to pay until after the appeal has been resolved. Depending on the number of cases that must be decided before your own at the appellate level, this can take months or (in some cases) years.

If You Arbitrate Your Case

If you submit your case to an arbitrator, the arbitrator will fix the amount of time the defendant has to pay you. However, like a trial, the defendant may be permitted to appeal the arbitrator’s decisions to a court (and then appeal any adverse decisions the court makes to an appellate court). Again, it can take months – or even years – in order for the case to be finally resolved in your favor and the defendant to begin making payments.

Case Barnet Law Firm is a California personal injury firm committed to helping injury victims recover the compensation they need following a catastrophic personal injury accident. Contact the firm at (949) 861-2990 today for assistance, or complete our firm’s online contact form.