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Personal Injury Blog

How Truck Accidents Differ From Standard Auto Accidents

Thursday, February 01, 2018

 

Los Angeles Auto Accident Attorneys

Accidents between automobiles happen every day, and in most cases, they are pretty straight-forward. Unusually one party is at least mostly responsible and their insurance covers the damages of the other party. Unfortunately, if you have been involved in an accident with a truck, you will fight getting that coverage for your damages, and your injuries will be just ever so more likely complex. This is why when in an accident with a truck, there are a few extra things to consider.

Extra Factors in Truck Accidents

The most obvious new factors to consider are that trucks are much bigger than cars and are often hauling heavy loads of freight. Obviously, this will result in more serious accidents for the auto driver involved while the truck might be relatively unscathed. Bigger injuries, bigger damages, and because of that, bigger costs are involved. However, if those were the only factors to consider, truck accidents would still be more straight-forward, the problem lies with the lesser known factors to consider in trucking accidents.

Dealing With Bigger Insurance Policies

Unlike your standard auto policy, the insurance policy on a commercial truck is much larger due to the size of the vehicle and the amount of damage that one can inflict on a smaller vehicle. As these insurance policies can be worth so much more to those involved in an accident, the insurance company will put infinitely more effort in escaping liability.

You can be assured when dealing with an insurance adjuster in charge of the truck's insurance, they will be their most experienced employee and well-versed in complex tactics to leave you with nothing or, at least, much less than you deserve.

Different Regulations

As trucks often work interstate, the company will be under the thumb of a number of different regulations administered by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Regulations dictate specific maintenance of the truck, inspections, and logbooks of the driver. These regulations are many and complex in nature, which can open up new avenues for compensation, but also make determining liability for the uninformed motorist very difficult.

Multiple Liabilities

As mentioned above, the many regulations that govern trucks mean that it might not just be the truck driver that is liable. The truck driver might have been on the road too long by falsifying their log book, but the trucking company could have also been neglectful in their maintenance or inspections that lead to malfunctions. Furthermore, if a specific part was faulty, the manufacturer of the truck can also bear some of the blame.

For this reason, you need to be diligent in determining what caused the accident and who can be held liable for it, or otherwise cut yourself off from potential compensation. This is where the help of a skilled attorney comes in.

Need Legal Representation?

While standard auto accidents can benefit from legal representation, it becomes a must for trucking accidents. While lawyers who handle auto accidents also do trucking accidents, dealing with trucking accidents often requires slightly more experience. A good truck accident lawyer will know how to navigate the complex waters of trucking regulation to find true liability and they will also be well-versed in the new tactics that trucking insurance will employ in order to escape paying you what you are owed.

If you were involved in an accident with one of the many trucks that use the roadways in the Los Angeles area, contact us today. Let the Law Firm of Freeman & Freeman put our years of experience to work making sure your likely substantial damages are covered in full so you aren't stuck with the bill.

 

Can Non-Family File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

In most cases of wrongful death, it is the family that is left behind that will pursue justice for their death in the form of a wrongful death suit. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a family. Sometimes, they may even outlive all of their family members. However, when someone suffers a wrongful death and they have no living family, is there anyone that can pursue justice for them?

Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Case?

In California, there is actually quite the long list of people that can pursue a wrongful death case after the death of a loved one. This includes the obvious heirs such as spouses, children, parents, as well as domestic partners. This goes further to include anyone that was dependent on the deceased at the time of death including putative spouses, stepchildren, or anyone that depended financially on them.

However, in most of these cases, these heirs are related by marriage if not by blood. Yet, what if they had no one like that in their life? The truth is a wrongful death case can be pursued if you are a distant relative or someone completely non-blood related that stood to inherit from their estate after death due to the wishes outlined in their will.

Pursuing Wrongful Death as a Non-Blood Relative

If the deceased passed away with no family to pursue a wrongful death case, those who stood to inherit from their estate can press their estate representative to pursue a wrongful death case. In these situations, any winnings from a wrongful death suit will go into the estate of the deceased and split among their heirs.

This does mean that if you are an heir and was the only one who was pushing for a wrongful death suit, you will only inherit a portion of the monetary winnings from the suit. The other heirs, no matter how indifferent they were, will still also get a split as the entire sum goes into their estate and will be divided evenly during the probate process.

What if there are Multiple Eligible Parties Seeking a Wrongful Death Suit?

Suppose that not only you, but other inheritors are interested in pressing a wrongful death suit for the deceased. If there is no living spouse, children, or parents, then all non-related interested parties can still pursue the claim, but they will all be lumped together through the estate representative. Again, the proceeds will also be evenly split regarded of their interest in pursuing a wrongful death claim.

It is the same for two different eligible blood-related parties. The claims will be lumped together as one case and all interested parties will be added on as plaintiffs to the singular case. However, if the disagreement is had between two eligible parties, two separate cases can be pursued. It is, unfortunately, not the same between interested non-related parties as they still just go through the estate representative.

Need Legal Help?

As you can tell, if you are not related to the deceased, but believe they were the victim of wrongful death, pursuing a case for them isn't going to be easy and isn't going to be as valuable. However, you will still get them justice and by winning you strike a great victory for their remaining heirs. If you believe the owner of the estate from which you are inheriting from in Los Angeles was the victim of wrongful death, contact us today to see what we can do for you. While the case will ultimately go through the estate representative, we can still help you discover its validity and strength beforehand.

What to Expect From a Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer

Thursday, January 11, 2018

When seeking a lawyer for any case, particularly a personal injury case, you will find that they offer free consultations for your case before you even commit to choosing them. Even we here at Freeman & Freeman offer free consultations in all areas of law that we cover. However, if it is your first time ever contacting a lawyer, you may not know what to expect from these consultations. Everyone likes to know what they are getting into the first time they ever do something, so if you are considering a free consultation with a potential lawyer, here is what you can expect from the experience.

What is a Free Consultation For?

A consultation for a personal injury case might be more apt to be called a getting to you know meeting for both sides. These consultations typically last for about 30 minutes to an hour in which the potential client will meet with their potential lawyer.

During this time, the client will give a description of what happened, what injuries occurred, and why they want to pursue a personal injury case. During this time, the attorney's only job is to listen and then give feedback on the validity of a potential case. Essentially, they want to hear about your case first to see if you actually do have one. If you don't, they will let you know and let you know why it is not valid in the eyes of personal injury law. This will save you a lot of wasted time and legal fees in the end. However, if your case is valid, they will want to proceed further to see how strong it is. Even clients that think they might have a weak case could very well have a stronger one with the right evidence.

What to Bring To a Consultation?

A personal injury case consultation isn't just about discovering validity in your case, but it is also about discovering how strong that case will be. This is why when heading into a personal injury consultation, even though you are not technically meeting with your lawyer yet, you should bring as much documentation as possible in with you. While it is possible to bring in too many documents, having everything your potential lawyer could ever need to see is never a bad thing.

At very least, for the initial consultation you should bring:

  • Medical Records - Your medical records should record any injuries that resulted from the incident and the treatment or procedures that your doctor administered. These records should also include the cost of the care and contact information for those that treated you.
  • Police Report - The police report will explain what happened and give a number of crucial details including if anyone was breaking the law or contact information for witnesses. Essentially it proves what you believe happened, did actually happen.
  • Insurance Policy Information - This will let the lawyer know what your insurance policy does or doesn't cover.

This is just the very bare minimum. You can also consider bringing records of any correspondence between you and the other party, pay stubs that prove you had to miss work and pay because of the accident, or any other legal documents that the other parties lawyer may have sent over.

How Does a Consultation End?

If it is shown you have a valid case, your lawyer will then begin the other half of the consultation in which they essentially sell themselves to you. A good personal injury lawyer will want you to feel both comfortable with them and confident in their abilities. They will also end the consultation by going over a potential game plan and including the cost and any fees associated with the process. They will be there to answer all your questions and hope you choose them, but even if you want to shop around for legal counsel, anything you disclosed in that consultation is still protected by attorney-client privilege.

If you have been injured in the Los Angeles area and are looking for a personal injury lawyer, contact us today. Freeman & Freeman can help look over your case and build your confidence in our free consultations.

Who is Responsible for Accidents with Student Drivers?

Thursday, January 04, 2018

At one point, every single driver that travels the road was a learning student. They learned the rules of the road and then began to put them into practice under the instruction and supervision of a driving instructor. While an instructor's job is to make sure a student learns to drive safely, it is also part of their job to make sure they don't get into any accidents. Unfortunately, the thing about accidents is that no matter how hard you try to prevent them, they still happen. However, an accident with a student driver is tricky business. As they are not yet fully-fledged drivers and don't have insurance, does that automatically make you, the adult driver, responsible for covering the damage?

Negligence in Student Driver Accidents

If you, the adult driver, were the negligent party in an accident with the student driver, then it would work very much the same as a regular auto accident. Your insurance may be held on the hook for damages to both vehicles. However, if it can be proven that the student driver was the negligent one, then things will happen a little differently. Instead of the student being held responsible, since they have no insurance, instead the instructor will be held responsible.

If the instructor is part of a driving school, typically they have top-notch auto insurance and there is very little to worry about. However, quality of auto insurance can vary if the instructor comes as part a high school driver's education program, yet that doesn't change their liability. Similarly, if you got into an accident with a learning student while they were logging driving practice hours on their learner's permit with a parent, it will be the parent's auto insurance that will be used to cover your damages.

It is also important to remember that it is a driving instructor's job to intervene in dangerous situations to prevent accidents. In these cases, you may be able to hold the instructor as well as the driving school responsible for any injuries you sustained if they did not take enough precaution to prevent the accident. If the student was speeding or conditions on the road were not safe for driving, it is the instructor's duty to intervene in order to prevent accidents. If accidents happened as a result of that, then the instructor's skills can be called into question and the driving school can be pursued for negligent hiring practices.

However, this route should only be pursued if you were grievously injured in an accident. Otherwise, it will not result in much other than just ruining someone's life for a simple accident.

What to Do After an Accident with a Student Driver?

Actions taken after an auto accident with a student driver are actually very similar to any other auto accident. After the accident has occurred, you should:

  • Gather Information - Get the name of the student, the driving instructor, and the driving school as well as any insurance information. You may also want to gather witness statements, if possible, to verify how the accident happened and who appeared to be at fault.
  • Call the Police - It is crucial to call the police after an accident so they can create a police report. This is excellent evidence for your claim.
  • Take Photos - Be sure to snap as many photos as need be to document the damage to both vehicles, the scene of the accident, and any injuries that were the result of the accident.

Have you been in an accident with a student driver in the Los Angeles area only to find that the instructor is pushing back against covering the damage? Contact us today so the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you.

Safety: One Key to Avoiding a Motorcycle Accident

Thursday, December 21, 2017

If you are a motorcyclist, you likely know that you have to take even more precautions on the road than people driving cars or other larger vehicles. There are several things you can do as a motorcyclist to reduce your chances of being involved in a crash, whether with a vehicle, another motorcyclist, or something else.

  • Make yourself visible. Wearing bright, reflective clothing as well as having reflective devices on your motorcycle can help. You should also avoid riding in a motorist's blind spot. At times, this may mean slowing down, speeding up, or changing lanes.
  • Always give yourself enough room to ride safely. This includes giving yourself enough road to safely stop or switch lanes if the motorcyclist or driver in front of you stops suddenly. Never try to slip into a small gap in traffic.
  • Be aware of drivers and other motorcyclists around you. When needed, adjust your speed or take a different route to avoid someone who does not appear to be paying attention to others or who appears to be impaired.
  • Always use your turn signal when turning or changing lanes. Use it early, especially if you are unsure if the motorists around you are paying attention.
  • Use caution when lane splitting. California formally legalized lane splitting for motorcyclists last year. So far, we are the only state to do so. Lane splitting should only be done in stopped or slow-moving traffic. When lane splitting, follow the California Motorist Safety Program guidelines. You should not travel more than 10 MPH faster than other traffic. Avoid lane splitting when traffic is traveling 30 MPH or faster. Never use lane splitting as an excuse to weave unsafely between lanes of traffic, and always watch for motorists who may not be watching for you.  
  • Wear protective gear. In California, all motorcyclists are required by law to wear at least a helmet. Other protective gear, such as gloves, a heavy jacket, long pants, and boots, are also important. While protective gear will not prevent an accident, it can reduce your chances of being seriously injured if you do crash.
  • Never ride impaired. Some people assume this means not drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs before riding. It is about more than that, though. Even over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs could impair your judgment or influence your reaction time. If you are unsure how a medication is going to affect you, avoid riding your motorcycle until you are sure you can do so safely. Even riding while tired could increase your chances of being in an accident.
  • Be aware of road conditions. When possible, avoid traveling on poorly-maintained roads. Watch for potential road hazards, including debris. If other motorists appear to be slowing down or weaving around something, anticipate that there might be something on the road, and be ready to react appropriately.
  • Be aware of weather conditions that might impact your riding ability. Fog can make it harder for others on the road to see you, which means you may want to give yourself extra space. Wet roads may also cause a riding problem. While icy roads are rarely an issue in our area, slow down and make the appropriate accommodations if you are riding in an area where you may encounter slick or icy roads.
  • Maintain your motorcycle. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and in good condition, and make sure your lights are working properly.

While being a safe motorcyclist will reduce your chances of being involved in an accident, you cannot control the actions of others on the road. Unfortunately, drivers do not always pay attention to motorcyclists. If you were the unfortunate victim of a crash caused by someone else while you were riding your motorcycle, contact us. We serve clients throughout Southern California, and we will happily provide you with a free consultation.


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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.