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Personal Injury Blog


Uptick in Bicycle Accidents Causes Personal Injury Attorneys Great Concern

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bicycle accidents are becoming all too common these days thanks to a number of factors. Some tragic situations are caused by manufacturing issues. Such was the case with several accidents caused by Trek Bicycle Corporation’s products. Faulty brakes attached to a number of their bicycles resulted in one person being paralyzed for life.

Because the recalls happened in April 2015 and the faulty bikes were sold long before that, it is not known how many personal injury lawsuits may be filed as a result of related, bicycle accidents. Trek Bicycle Corporation wasn’t the only manufacturer in the cycling industry to issue recalls in the last several months either. There were others, including but limited to brands like Felt, Civia, Shiv, Vanish Evo, Marin Mountain Bikes and Zipp.

The list of defects that prompted the assorted recalls varied. Some of the production problems involved handle bars, wheels, helmet straps, frames and seats. At this time, it is not known how many bicycle accidents, if any, occurred as a result of those other problems. It is also unknown whether or not personal injury lawsuits have been filed on the behalf of any alleged victims against the other manufacturers that we mentioned.

Of course bicycle manufacturers are not the only ones that may be liable for accidents. Additional elements, like environmental factors, cyclists’ errors and motor vehicle drivers’ actions may play a critical role in assigning liability in bicycle accident cases as well. In 2014, the LA Times published an article about bicycle accidents that helps make our point. It noted an increase in accident rates and attributed some of the incidents to factors like cycling or driving impaired.

It is also critical to mention that bicycle accident cases are often impacted by a myriad of state laws. There are so many laws, in fact, that a lot of national cycling organizations devote entire sections of their websites to making cyclists aware of liability issues. Similar may be said for State Department of Motor Vehicles’ offices, who often publish entire books for both cyclists and motor vehicle operators on the rules of the road.

When bicycle accidents occur, participants should take action to protect themselves, their personal property and others from further harm. It is also necessary to extensively document the events leading up to, during and after the cycling accident for possible inclusion in personal injury or criminal cases. However, that information should be shared with no one except a personal injury or criminal attorney willing to represent the person doing the sharing.

Notes taken after bicycle accidents should ideally contain as much detail and verifiable evidence as possible. They should also focus solely on fact and not conjecture. For example, it is not merely enough to accuse another person of being impaired. Documentation about the person’s impairment should be provided to back that statement up. The list of backup materials includes, but is not limited to emergency room technician’s notes, toxicology reports and statements from first responders or officers called in to interview bicycle accident participants.

To learn more about the nationwide increase in bicycle accidents and how victims may benefit from legal counsel, please contact us.

Drug Crimes from the Suspects Perspective

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

If you are suspect in an alleged drug crime your defense begins before you even get arrested. As a citizen you are expected to follow certain rules, but law enforcement agents also have rules to follow, rules that are often bent in pursuit of alleged criminals.

Before an arrest law enforcement agents will normally engage in a search of your person, your vehicle, or your living space. If they have a search warrant it will be presented to you and they can legally search any space specifically listed in the warrant. However, many times these agents do not have a warrant because they have not collected enough evidence to show probable cause that a drug crime is being committed.

In situations where agents are without warrant, they often turn to a technique they call a ‘knock and talk.’ Just as it sounds, an agent will literally knock on your door in an attempt to engage you in conversation. You are under no obligation to open the door, or even speak to the agent. If you do open the door the agent will be very polite and persuasive and may say something like, “Hi I’m Officer Smith. We were told there is marijuana inside this home, do you mind if we come in and look around?”

This sounds innocent enough, and you may feel the urge to comply. You have been taught to cooperate with the police your whole life after all. If you say yes, and they find something—anything illegal—they will certainly use it against you.

If you say no but you already have the door open and have engaged them in conversation they will try to find another reason to enter your home, albeit without your consent. One simple reason is the ‘smell of marijuana.’ This is a nebulous idea of course, difficult to prove or disprove, but it gives the agent an excuse to enter.

Another reason for entering without consent is exigent circumstances. This means that something is happening that requires immediate attention from law enforcement. If someone were screaming, or a gunshot was heard, that would create an exigent circumstance and the agent could enter legally.

Another exigent circumstance can be as mild as the sound of a toilet flushing. In this case the agent can claim that he believes evidence of a crime is being destroyed, therefore his immediate action is required, again entering your home without consent.

If you choose to open your door, and either consent to a search, or fall victim to the many techniques an agent will use to gain entry—stay calm. Once this process begins you may find the agent, usually more than one at this point, very aggressive or even violent. Everything about their behavior will be an effort to intimidate you. In spite of their actions you must remain calm, be polite, but understand that anything you say will be used to help prosecute you. If you wish to remain silent—and silence is almost always the right choice—make sure you say so out loud. The agents will be bombarding you with questions, just repeat your choice to remain silent.

If you have not been arrested, ask if you are under arrest, if you are not under arrest ask to leave. If you are under arrest ask for an attorney. Your attorney understands exactly how law enforcement works and will protect you. The importance of an attorney is these situations cannot be overstated.

If they agents entered your home without your consent, and you did not say anything to incriminate yourself, your attorney is in a much better position to defend you.

Tips for Fighting Traffic Offenses

Thursday, November 05, 2015

It's a commonplace practice, many drivers across the US get traffic tickets for a variety of offenses. However, just because you get one, doesn't mean that you always did something wrong. At that point in the situation, it is your word versus the officer issuing the ticket.

Here are some tips for fighting a traffic ticket.

- Challenge the officer's conclusion (or their subjective opinion) about whether you deserve the ticket. This defense works very well when you collaborate with your lawyer to challenge what they perceived happened. Particulars include, but aren't limited to, defending against "unsafe" traffic maneuvers, and whether or not the officer was at a good vantage point to issue a ticket in the first place.

- Challenging the officer's observation consists of debating the facts that lead to the ticket. An example of this is arguing the facts behind whether you made a complete stop at a stop sign. A case like this is difficult to win, and usually goes to the police, but if you truly believe that you were in the right, you have every right to defend against the ticket as long as you have sufficient evidence.

- Arguing a "mistake of fact" requires some extra work when defending against a ticket. However, when a judge decides that there were circumstances out of your control, you may get some leniency in the outcome of your case. The main argument in this defense is whether the outcome expected from you was up for debate, like if you ran a stop sign that was newly installed and received a ticket for it.

- "Legally justified" behavior is another way to defend against an unfair ticket. For example, if you receive a ticket for driving too slow on the highway, but the reason you were doing so was because you had car troubles, you could easily say that you were legally justified to be doing so for safety concerns.

- It is also possible to defend against a ticket by proving that your actions were a result of you trying to avoid bodily harm. This sort of defense attempts to prove that your actions were a necessity and that, without them, you would have been in danger. An example is trying to prove that your speed on the highway at the time you were clocked was to avoid an out-of-control driver, and not for egregious reasons.

Defending against a traffic ticket isn't out of the question. The important factor of your defense hinges on the strategy you and your lawyer work out. Just remember, it's your legal, Constitutional right to defend and plead your case in front of a judge.

Swimming Pool Accidents: The Raw Facts

Thursday, October 29, 2015

In the United States, about ten people die per day due to accidental drowning.

It's a sobering statistic, but drownings and other swimming pool accidents occur with surprising frequency. What should have been a nice, relaxing day can all too quickly turn into a nightmare. An accident in a swimming pool can be a traumatic and tragic event for you and your loved ones.

Children are especially at risk while swimming. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five people who die from drowning are children aged 14 or younger. For each one of these children, another five recieve emergency care for "nonfatal submersion injuries." These injuries can result in memory problems and learning disabilities. They can even lead to the victim becoming trapped in a permanent vegetative state.

For younger children ages 1-4, the risks are even more alarming. For these children, drowning ranks ahead of all causes of death other than congenital birth defects. When children up to the age of 14 are included, drowning becomes the second-leading cause of accidental death, following only car accidents.

Swimming pool accidents can too often prove to be fatal, but unfortunately, many of the worst accidents often prove to have been avoidable. Even something so simple as a fence around a swimming pool can have a dramatic effect in stopping accidents and especially drownings. Young children, left unattended or unwatched, often wander off and sometimes make their way into the inviting waters of a nearby swimming pool. Some of these pools are easy to get into: they sit at ground level and are unprotected by any gate, fence, or wall. With the pool unsecured and unattended, it becomes very easy for a young, inexperienced swimmer to get in trouble in the water. In this one example, which accounts for a fair number of drownings in the United States each year, a fence would have prevented the child's entry in the first place. The statistics on this, in fact, are notable: a four-sided fence around a pool can lower the risk of drowning in children by a shocking 83%! Because of this, many municipalities now require such a fence to be installed around any new swimming pool.

On a similar note, any pool area should be cleared of inviting floats and toys after use. These items are definitely fun in the pool- and they look fun to young children, too! Unattended children are too often attracted by these objects and are drawn into the pool area out of curiosity or in an attempt to use them. Because of this risk, the CDC recommends in the interest of safety that all such items be removed or placed in a secure location after their use is concluded. This will reduce the chance that a child will wander into a pool unattended and possibly suffer an accident in the water.

Swimming pool accidents can be life-altering, but as we have seen, many could have been prevented through various means. If you or a loved one have suffered a swimming pool accident that you believe could have been prevented, it might be a good idea to contact an attorney. A personal injury lawyer can walk you through your case and help you and those closest to you get the help and compensation you deserve.

Can You Be Charged With A DUI And Be Innocent

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How would you answer the question “Can you be charged with a DUI and be innocent?” Of course you would say that you only can be charged if you drive under the influence. It is common sense, isn’t it?

Let’s look at the first case that happened over a year ago. A woman met her girl friends after work for dinner and a few drinks. On her way home, she had to cross some railroad tracks. She drove her car to the tracks, stopped then slowly crossed them. A police officer who had watched the woman pulled her over. The woman had to take a breathalyzer test after she told the officer that she had a few drinks that night. The result of the test showed that the woman was still below the legal limit. Nevertheless, she was handcuffed, and taken to the police station where she was booked, and only released after she posted bail. The reason for this? The police officer claimed the woman knew she was drunk otherwise she would not have stopped at the railroad tracks.

This case shows that you can be charged with a DUI even if your blood alcohol content is under the legal limit. The woman had to hire an attorney to fight the charges. Even if the charges were dropped, the nightmare of this experience will not go away that easily.

Another true story happened only recently in Surprise, Arizona. A 64-year-old man was driving home from the fitness center through the town of Surprise, and allegedly crossed the white line of his lane. The driver was promptly pulled over by a police officer. The officer saw the red bloodshot eyes of the driver and insisted that the driver was drunk therefore he was driving under the influence. The driver told the officer that he came from the fitness center where he had been swimming to release tension in his hip. He was schedule for a hip replacement a few days later. The police officer did not buy the story, and ordered the driver to take a sobriety test. Indeed, the result showed a blood alcohol content of 0.000%. Nevertheless, the driver was cuffed and taken to headquarters. A drug recognition expert was called in, and blood was drawn from the driver. More tests followed. All came back negative. No alcohol, no drugs, there was nothing in the system. Even in the case report was noted that the driver had not been driving under the influence. And yet, the driver was charged with a DUI, his car was impounded and the DVM notified to suspend his license. The driver had to take a lawyer, and fight the wrong charges. They were later dropped.

In the first case there could be proven some alcohol content in the blood, but not enough to justify any DUI charges. In the second case there was no alcohol in the blood detected at all. But in both cases the drivers were charged with a DUI. Both cases show that it was most important to find a good lawyer to defend them, their innocence, and help justice prevail. So, can you be charged with a DUI and be innocent? Unfortunately, you can in certain instances.

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From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.