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.

Fourth Of July Aftermath: Personal Injury Claims For Firework Accidents

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While many of us associate the Fourth of July with fireworks and fun, the unfortunate reality is that thousands of people sustain firework-related injuries every year on Independence Day. Unfortunately, this year a nine-year-old girl in Southern California was seriously injured when fireworks exploded next to her at Burrell-MacDonald Park in Compton. According to the South Gate-Lynwood Patch, the little girl lost fingers on her right hand, suffered burns on her face, and injured her left hand so badly that it had to be amputated. While it is unclear at this time whether or not the little girl’s family will file a personal injury claim on her behalf, it is important for the public to know that victims who are injured in firework accidents may be able to recover damages for their injuries by filing a personal injury claim.

 

Personal Injury Claims To Recoup For Firework-Related Injuries

 

Determining whether some individual or company can legally be held liable for your firework-related injury can be complicated as there are a number of different legal theories that may apply. For example, one legal theory of liability that often applies in these types of personal injury cases is the legal concept of negligence. The theory of negligence can be a bit complicated but essentially holds a party liable for injuries sustained by the victim if that party failed to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would have been expected to exercise given the circumstances. Essentially, a person is often deemed to have acted negligently if they acted in a careless manner and as a result someone else was hurt. For example, if a teenager intentionally shoots a firework at his friend and that friend is injured when the firework explodes in his face, a court would likely find that the teenager acted negligently and is liable for his friend’s injuries. Determining liability can be tricky and therefore it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your claim.

 

Safety Tips

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According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2015 Annual Firework Report, an estimated 11,900 people went to the hospital due to firework-related injuries in 2015 and 11 people died. Given the prevalence of firework-related injuries across the United States, it is a good idea to review the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) list of safety tips before lighting those leftover Fourth of July fireworks that are sitting in your garage. A few of the APA’s key safety tips include:

  • Read all instructions carefully before lighting your fireworks,
  • Never let children light fireworks without supervision,
  • Only light one firework at a time,
  • Always have a water bucket and a connected water hose close by, and
  • Do not ever aim fireworks at people.

 

While safety should always be a top priority, also keep in mind that not all types of fireworks are legal, and that fireworks are not legal everywhere in California. You can check out a brief summary of California’s firework laws here.

 

How Can We Help?

 

If you have sustained a firework-related injury and are interested in pursuing a personal injury claim, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm today for a free consultation. Our Southern California personal injury lawyers are happy to help you and can be reached at (949) 861-2990.


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Case Barnett Law Settles Trip and Fall Case for $ 4.3 Million Dollars

Dr. B vs. Homeowner’s Association

Case Barnett Law Corporation

 

Verdict: Defendant found Liable by jury

Settlement: 4.3 Million Dollars

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It’s not often that an attorney settles a trip and fall case for $4.3 million, but in 2016, Case Barnett Law did. Dr. RB lived in a posh Orange County neighborhood paying over $700 a month in monthly homeowner’s association dues. A water meter box was continually broken in front of his home. Dr. RB complained to his homeowner’s association about the broken water meter box on multiple occasions.

After a day at work, Dr. RB returned in the evening and parked his car in the driveway. He exited the car to get his mail. His second step went in to the broken water meter cover causing serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury and severed tendons in his hand.

The defendants repeatedly passed responsibility among each other and pointed the finger back at Dr. RB for not fixing it himself, and for knowing about it, but failing to avoid it. The liability issues were complicated because of the covenants, codes and restrictions (the CC&R’s), the governing documents for the homeowner’s association and the HOA’s attempts to shift responsibility to the homeowners. CC&R’s give HOA’s the ability to make their own laws and distribute responsibilities. A close inspection of these governing documents is essential to suing any homeowner’s association.

Four of the five defendants acknowledged their safety failings before trial. One defendant did not. A jury dropped the hammer on the remaining defendant. At the end of the trial, the combined defendants were forced to pay $4.3 million to the plaintiff. Be safe. Don’t endanger others. If you do, Case Barnett law will force you to face the consequences.