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Personal Injury Blog

Can an Animal Rescue Be Liable For a Dog Bite?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

When it comes to the city or state-run animal control, their business is to take dangerous animals off the street to prevent various issues, namely animal attacks. However, you also have groups working independently of the government to re-home dogs and other animals found on the street or in neglectful situations. These groups have the benefit of being able to place dogs and other animals with loving homes and also removing them from shelters in which, if not adopted in a certain amount of time, they will be euthanized.

Dog Bites

Unfortunately, while dangerous animals can be rehabilitated in many cases, it takes time to do so. During this time, there is the potential that they could lash out violently and hurt someone. If you were the victim of a dog bite by an animal that was under the care of an animal rescue group, can you hold those groups liable for the attack?

The answer, in most cases, is yes. As there is always the potential for any dog to bite someone this means that rescue groups need to take the time to protect themselves from what could very well be not a possibility, but an eventuality. In the larger animal rescue group, you will find that they have insurance to protect the group in case of an animal bite. If a dog bites someone, whether it is a worker or someone looking to adopt a dog, the insurance will be there to pay for the medical bills of the victim. However, if you are dealing with smaller animal rescue groups, they may not have the insurance, but you still retain the right to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Who's Liable?

While you maintain the right to pursue a personal injury suit against an animal rescue group, you must also realize the certain reality of doing so. Animal rescues, particularly small ones, run on a limited budget. Typically, this is the reason they did not have insurance in the first place. Often one bite and the impending lawsuit will unravel the organization. For some, they may choose not to pursue a lawsuit because it would likely mean the end of that particular rescue. However, dog bites can be more than just simply bites. They can be vicious attacks that require extended medical treatment, even plastic surgery to rectify. In these cases, there is no question who should come first – the victim.

Personal Injury

A personal injury suit against a group is much like a personal injury suit against an individual. You must first prove that the organization was liable for the injury. If the animal had attacked you on the animal rescue's property, they had the responsibility for making sure it was secured. However, it needs to be proved that you did not actively provoke the animal either. As they were harboring the animal, the organization has the responsibility to actively work to prevent attacks.

As for who to file the personal injury lawsuit against, you may not be filing it against the animal rescue group as a whole. Often these groups work on donations and have very little if any, profits from it. Instead of filing against the group as a whole, it is likely you will be filing the personal injury lawsuit against the person in charge of the group such as a leader or a founder. This is generally why many animal rescue groups insist they have insurance because a personal injury lawsuit against an individual is damaging financially.

If you have been bitten by a dog, whether it was held by an animal rescue group or just a private owner, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help get you the compensation you deserve for your injury.

Seeking a Personal Injury Suit on Behalf of a Child

Thursday, November 08, 2018

All parents never hope they have an injured child. It doesn't matter the injury either. If they fall off the monkey bars and break their arm, it can be just as terrifying as a child getting hit with a car. However, if a child has been injured in an accident due to someone else's negligence, it is something that affects the whole family. A parent may have to amend their schedule to take care of a child, siblings may need to change plans or may be overlooked by parents, and of course, the child themselves may end up missing school. So if a child has been injured in an accident, they, too, deserve justice and compensation for their injuries even if they aren't part of the working class yet.

Personal Injury

There are many who think that personal injury suits are only worthwhile if your ability to work has been compromised and you need to pay your medical bills. However, for a child who doesn't work and doesn't pay their own medical bills, parents might not think to pursue a personal injury case for them. However, a parent will still have to pay those medical bills even though another caused the accident. Furthermore, accidents are incredibly traumatic even for adults. Your child may suffer disfigurement or emotional trauma that will need to be treated. As a parent, it is your responsibility to treat these issues, but it should not be your responsibility to pay for them if another caused the accident.

Injury Claim for a Child

When it comes to filing a personal injury claim for a minor aged child, it works much the same way as if you were filing a claim for yourself as an adult. You will speak with your lawyer and get the whole process rolling. Much like in an adult claim, your case hinges on if the negligence of another was the cause of the accident. If your child ran into traffic, for example, your personal injury suit won't likely be successful.

There is also one more important distinction when it comes to personal injury cases for minors – time. The statute of limitation in which you can file a personal injury claim for a minor is different compared to an adult. You actually have much longer than you would have for an adult. If an adult were injured, they would have two years to file a claim before they would be barred from doing so. However, a parent of a minor, or a minor themselves later, has until two years after their 18th birthday to file a personal injury suit. This means, if a child is injured when they are 17, their parent can file a claim or the child can wait until they turn 18 years of age and file the claim themselves. Of course, the longer one waits to file after an accident, typically the weaker their case will because due to loss of evidence and witnesses.

Get Help

If you are the parent of a child injured in an accident, you will likely care more for their health over anything else. However, nursing an injured child back to health is expensive, and it is a bill that you shouldn't have to pay yourself. Some parents may innately think that a minor can't have a personal injury case, but it simply isn't true. With the help of a lawyer, it isn't much different than an adult personal injury suit.

If you have a child who was the victim of an accident due to another's negligence, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman is dedicated to helping injured people, even children, get the compensation that they need to get back on their feet.

Motorcycle Accidents: Can an Injured Motorcyclist Without Helmet Recover Personal Injury Damages?

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer

Helmet laws have been controversial for decades, with states yo-yo-ing between having them, not having them, and having some version. Motorcyclists enjoy the wind in their hair with the freedom of the road stretching out ahead of them and decry the need for helmets. This is fine in Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire - and 28 other states if you're at least 21 years of age - but 19 states have a universal helmet law which requires all riders to wear a helmet. This safety measure is based upon crystal clear statistics that show head injuries are the primary cause of fatality in motorcycle accidents. In fact, statistics show that wearing a helmet prevents brain injury in 67% of motorcycle accidents and is 37% effective in mortality prevention. That aside, do the helmet laws of your state affect your rights with regards to personal injury recovery? In a word, yes. 

State Laws

Each state dictates the laws governing insurance rates and coverage. Three primary considerations in an accident include:

  • Whether your state is an at-fault or no-fault state
  • Whether your state has a helmet law
  • Your level of negligence in the accident

In a no-fault state each driver pays their own damages regardless of who caused the accident, with important exceptions: if your personal injury exceeds Personal Injury Protection coverage, and/or you are permanently injured, you are entitled to sue the at-fault driver.

If the state also has a helmet law, your insurance carrier will pay your claim up to your personal injury limits, then either drop your coverage or raise your future rates. A rider without a helmet is a high-risk rider for any insurance company, given the likelihood of significant head and brain injury and the attendant elevated medical costs, incurred in a motorcycle accident. (The exceptions still apply but defending your claim is harder). 

In an at-fault (tort law) state without a helmet law, the negligent driver has to pay damages - once their negligence is proven. Where it gets complex is in an at-fault state with a helmet law, such as California.

Contributory or Comparative Negligence

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident in an at-fault state with a helmet law, and you weren't wearing a helmet, you suddenly have a degree of negligence in the accident. This means that you caused some or all of your own head injuries when you broke the helmet law. The other driver's insurance company and/or attorney can certainly claim this. Five states in the U.S. can defend against your personal injury claim through "injured party's contributory negligence": Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. In these states you may not recover any damages if you weren't wearing a helmet in the accident.

California has a comparative fault law which allows juries to determine a percentage of injuries caused by your own negligence, to reduce your personal injury damages; that is, they argue that a certain percentage of your injuries could have been prevented by wearing a helmet. For example, if 40% of your injuries are head injuries that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet, the court reduces your personal injury damages by 40%. In some states, the court will deny your claim if the other driver's lawyer can prove that your "comparative negligence" was 50% or greater.

Whatever your situation, your best chance of damage recovery lies in hiring a personal injury lawyer who understands insurance and state laws. You don't need the headache and stress of dealing with the other driver's insurance company and legal team while you're recovering from perhaps life-altering injuries. If you live in the Los Angeles area, please feel free to contact us at Freeman & Freeman, LLP or call 818-992-2919 and let our experts handle your claim.

 


Motorcycle Accidents Without a Motorcycle License

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers

Once you get that standard driver's license that many people get as teenagers, you can hop into most cars and be able to drive with a valid license. However, it doesn't work the same for motorcycles. You need a special motorcycle license to legally ride on the road. While the licensing type and timeline varies from state to state, they all share this in common. However, while you should have a license while riding a motorcycle, not everyone does.

Sometimes motorcycle driver's hit the road without a license for one reason or another. Yet, if they get into a crash, they believe that not having a license bars them from any legal action, but that isn't true. It is important to remember that even if you don't have a motorcycle license, you can still get coverage for a motorcycle accident if it was the result of the negligence of another.

Proving Fault

If you were in a motorcycle accident without a license, the smart money is on the insurance of the other driver blaming you for the accident because you do not have a motorcycle license. However, with the help of a lawyer, you can completely negate this if the other driver was indeed to blame. Fault in a motorcycle accident can be laid by proving the other driver was doing something they should not have been. These incidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light
  • Driving under the influence
  • Following too closely

However, no one will just take your word for it. You need to be able to prove that the other driver was at fault. If you cannot, then you may, in fact, be barred from compensation. In order to prove fault, consider collecting evidence via the following:

  • Photographs of the scene
  • Police reports of the accident
  • Witness testimony from the accident scene
  • Blood alcohol content results from the driver

By being able to prove fault, you can still get compensation for your injuries and the damages to your vehicle.

Penalties for Driving a Motorcycle Without a License

While you will not be barred from compensation if the accident was not your fault even if you did not have a license, you will not get off without punishment. You will still get the accident covered with the right lawyer, but they should also help to prepare you for legal action. When in an accident without a motorcycle license, the police pretty much have no choice but to charge you. In California, this is a misdemeanor level crime, meaning penalties range from a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail. It is also likely that the police will confiscate your motorcycle until you receive the appropriate license.

The unfortunate thing about this potential legal action is that it is particularly difficult to defend against. Prosecutors need to only prove you didn't have a license and that you were on an official roadway to get a conviction for driving without a license. However, the right lawyer can help to limit the punishments you receive from this.

If you have been in a motorcycle accident of any kind, whether you had a license or not, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman and Freeman is no stranger to serious motorcycle accidents and we know how to fight to get you the compensation you deserve for injuries that are so often more serious than standard auto accidents. Just because you didn't have a license or might have had some fault in the accident doesn't mean you don't deserve compensation for your damages. So let us help you fight the good legal fight.


Do Dog Walkers Have Liability For Dog Bites?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Dog Bite Injuries

When it comes to dog bite injuries, most worry about negligent owners with their poorly monitored dogs or even stray dogs doing the biting. However, while both situations can result in dog bites, there is a situation that can be even more common – a dog bite in the care of a dog walker. If your occasionally aggressive dog is inside your home, they are at a much lower risk for having a dog bite incident, obviously. However, that risk goes up exponentially if you have a dog walker take them out for some exercise. Not only is the dog walker at potential risk for getting bit, but anyone else is as well. However, who holds the liability in a dog bite incident when they were with a dog walker?

Dog Walkers and Dog Bites

When it comes to dog bites and dog walkers, typically the dog walker will not have any liability in these incidents. Whether you are using a legitimate dog walker or just a neighborhood kid, the blame will almost always come back to you, the owner. You may note that when choosing a legitimate dog walking service, you will have to sign certain liability forms.

These forms will state that the dog walker and the dog walking service will hold no liability in the event of a dog attack. Typically there are certain clauses within this form to protect the owner as well. For example, if the dog walker specifically antagonized the dog so that it did attack the walker or another person, they can still be held liable for that negligent action instead of the blame still going to the owner.

Insurance

While having insurance to protect the company and walker is recommended for all dog walkers, if you choose to have your pooch walked by a small company, they may not have insurance to cover them.  In this case, the person who is walking the dog may be held liable for its actions under a keeper or harborer clause. Under this clause, it states that if the dog is under the care of another – their keeper - then that keeper is liable for the dog's action, not the owner. This law is frequently used in dog sitting incidents, but it can be applicable to dog walkers as well if they are not covered by insurance.

If you have an aggressive dog, it may be best to not use a dog walker just to avoid any potential incidents. However, the fact remains that dogs need exercise and sometimes an aggressive dog is just an overly bored dog that needs more fitness. If you have a dog that you think might bite, it is best to notify the dog walker beforehand. In this regard, they can take the proper preventative measures. This might mean your dog walking service won't agree to walk your dog, which is within their right. However, more likely, it means that the dog walker will be more aware of your dog's behavior or need to walk them with a muzzle on. Either way, having a dog walker know that your dog might be aggressive is the first and most effective step to preventing dog bite accidents.

If you have been bitten by a dog, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman and Freeman is dedicated to helping make sure that victims get the justice they deserve. Dog bites can be both horrific and traumatic injuries and they deserve compensation so you don't end up paying hundreds of dollars in medical bills that were not your fault, but the fault of a negligent individual who didn't know they had an aggressive dog that was prone to biting.


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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.