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Personal Injury Blog

4 Safety Tips for Runners

Friday, August 14, 2020

Running is a great form of exercise, and many people find it to be a great way to rejuvenate their minds. Yet, if you are running on the street or along the side of the road, you also put yourself at risk of being hit by a passing vehicle or otherwise getting injured. Luckily, there are at least four ways you can be a safer runner.

Avoid Unsafe Roads

If you enjoy running along the road, it is important to be aware of any potential dangers along your running route. To help you better understand if your potential route is safe for a runner, take a drive yourself down your planned running route. Look for blind corners, busy intersections, or other areas where drivers may not notice you when you are running. You may also want to pay attention to areas where the road narrows or where there may otherwise not be enough room for a runner to safely run along the road. As a runner, you may not notice these as much as you will while driving the path.

Run With a Partner

Whenever possible, run with a partner. A partner increases your chances of seeing a potential danger and decreases your chances of becoming the victim of an assault. Along with that, if you have a running partner, the other person can go for help or help you to a safe location if you are injured.

If you are unable to run with someone else, it is important to let a friend or family member know your running route as well as how long you anticipate your run taking. Avoid deviating from your anticipated route without letting someone know. If something should happen to you, your friend or family member will know when and where to look for you.

Pay Attention

As a runner, it is your responsibility to pay attention to your surroundings. While it might be relaxing or enjoyable to run while listening to music, you are less likely to hear a car coming or hear another danger if you are focused on your music rather than what's happening around you. Ditch the earbuds and instead pay attention to your surroundings.

Once you've gotten rid of your earbuds, you can likely pay attention to your surroundings. To better see traffic and to make yourself more visible, you will generally want to run against the flow of traffic. Instead of having cars coming at you from behind, you will see them coming toward you and be able to react sooner. You may need to switch sides of the road for a short time if you are on a blind corner or otherwise feel that running on the opposite side of the road is safer.

Make Yourself Visible

It is especially important to make yourself visible to drivers if you are running at night or during bad weather when a driver's visibly might be reduced. If you plan to run when it's dark or in low visibility, be sure to invest in bright, reflective clothing as well as a headlamp. This will make it easier for drivers to see you and make it easier for you to see the ground.

Part of making yourself visible is also making sure that drivers see you before you cross the street or otherwise move to another location on the road. If you are running along a street with parked cars, avoid weaving between vehicles. Before crossing the street, make eye contact with any drivers, and make sure that they are aware of you and your intentions. Don't assume that just because you see the driver, the person sees you.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, even safe runners sometimes get injured by drivers who were not paying attention. If you were hit and injured by an inattentive driver while running, contact us.

Do Rideshare Companies Screen Drivers?

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Using a rideshare service is now more convenient than hailing a taxi. Companies like Uber and Lyft allow users to reserve rides online, designate drop-off/pickup times, and choose their preferred vehicle type. However, neither app allows you to choose a driver. 

 

Riding with an unsafe driver could lead to an accident. Does Uber or Lyft perform background checks on their drivers?

 

The Screening Process

 

Both Lyft and Uber screen their employees using background check services. Lyft uses a company called Sterling Solutions, while Uber uses Checkr. Every potential driver's criminal and driving history is thoroughly reviewed. The background check will also determine if the driver is on the National Sex Offender Registry.

 

According to Uber, drivers can't have more than three recent minor violations and absolutely no recent DUI charges. Lyft also performs a background check annually on all its contractors. However, it's entirely up to the company who will become a driver, regardless of what the background check says.

 

Background Checks May Not Always Work

 

Even supposedly vetted drivers can be dangerous. In 2017, an Uzbekistan driver who passed Uber's background check was charged for the murder of eight cyclists. Upon investigation, he was found to be a terrorist working with ISIS.

 

The man did not commit this crime while on the job. Still, Uber's background check apparently didn't find any evidence that this man was a terrorist. A study performed by CNN also found that over 100 drivers in the past four years had been accused of sexually assaulting their passengers.

 

Requirements May Vary

 

Another problem with background checks is inconsistent requirements. For example, New York City requires potential drivers to be fingerprinted, but many states do not. Many states also do not require government checks to be performed on drivers.

 

A federal background check can delve deeper into the driver's history, as well as pull up information about the driver's personal character. A government check is also more thorough and can find convictions that Checkr or Sterling Solutions may have missed.

 

How to Protect Yourself 

 

Many Uber and Lyft drivers are cleared as professional and trustworthy. Still, it never hurts to be prepared. Here are a few ways you can keep yourself safe during your ride.

 

Check Your Car and Driver

 

When your driver arrives at the pickup location, verify the license plate with the one listed on your app. When you select your ride in the app, you'll also be able to see the driver's profile photo. Make sure that person is the one behind the wheel. If you're unsure, ask the driver to identify you by name.

 

Avoid Riding Alone

 

An ill-intentioned driver likely won't harm a group of people. Always try to ride with at least one other friend or family member. If this isn't possible, install a trip sharing or tracking app on your phone.

 

Let the driver know that someone is expecting you at your destination. Call a family member in the car and let them know when you'll arrive.

 

Choose the Right Seat

 

Never ride in the passenger seat next to your driver. If a driver is insistent on you sitting next to them, that could be a red flag. Uber recommends that all their passengers sit in the back seat of the car.

 

Try to avoid sitting directly behind the driver. From this seat, it's hard to see what the driver is doing. Always sit where you have a clear view of both the driver and the road ahead.



Even the most careful planning can't always prevent an accident. If you've suffered personal injury while using a rideshare service, our law firm is always here to help.

The Tops Signs That You Should Consult an Attorney After Being Injured in an Auto Accident

Sunday, July 19, 2020

After being injured in a car accident as the result of another driver's negligence, you may find yourself wondering how you will pay for mounting medical bills, and how you will get by if you are temporarily unable to work. Fortunately, you do not have to navigate this difficult time alone. A personal injury attorney can walk you through your options for filing a personal injury claim, and they can work to make sure that you are properly compensated for your injuries. Yet, many people hesitate to contact an attorney after being injured in a car accident if they are unsure whether their case warrants legal action. If you have recently been injured in a car accident and are unsure what your next steps should be, here is a look at a few of the signs indicating that you should consider consulting an attorney. 

You Are Unable to Work

If you were hurt so badly in your accident that you cannot return to work, either temporarily or permanently, it is critical that you consult an attorney to help maximize your compensation. Not only will you need to be compensated for your medical bills and damages to your personal property, but if you are unable to work you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages as well as pain and suffering. An experienced attorney will be able to assess your situation based on the extent of your injuries, and they can calculate how much you may be entitled to. If the accident has left you permanently disabled, you will need a lawyer to help you determine the proper compensation you are entitled to based on future lost wages, as your family may be left without a significant source of income.   

You Need Help Determining Fault

Of course, just because you believe that the other driver was at fault and should be responsible for your injuries, this does not mean that the other driver or their insurance company will view things the same way. In fact, the other driver's insurance company will ultimately be looking out for their bottom line, and they may try to claim that you are at least partially at fault in order to reduce their liability. If your fault in the accident is being called into question, it is important that you consult an attorney as soon as possible. You will need a lawyer by your side who can help to collect and analyze evidence pertaining to the accident and present your case for why the other driver should bear full responsibility for the accident and your resulting injuries.  

Your Insurance Company isn't Treating You Properly

It is also important that you consult an attorney if you feel that you are not being treated properly by your insurance company. While your insurance company should be looking out for your best interest in theory, the reality is that you are likely just a case number to them, and they may be trying to close your case as quickly as possible. If you feel as if your insurance company isn't listening to/addressing your needs, is treating you unfairly, or is not doing anything to progress your case, then it may be time to consult an attorney. An attorney will work for you and will work tirelessly to make sure that your needs are met. 

You Are Being Asked to Settle

If things are progressing between your insurance company and that of the other driver and you have been asked to settle your case, it is critical that you consult an attorney. The fact is that you should never discuss offers, or accept a claim settlement, without talking to an attorney, as you may not get the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies will often try to offer a lowball settlement in the hopes that you will not know what your case is truly worth. Having an attorney by your side will ensure that you have someone who is looking out for your best interests and who will negotiate on your behalf to get a settlement that is in line with your injuries. 

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a car accident, contact us to find out more about the signs that you may want to consider consulting a personal injury attorney. 





Who Can Be Legally At Fault for Snowmobile Accident Injuries?

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Snowmobiling is an exciting winter sport, and one of the few non-athletes can enjoy safely at high speeds. In best-case scenarios, the biggest risk with a snowmobile is plowing into a big pile of snow. But in worse-case scenarios, they can become deadly. Anything moving at high speeds can cause injury or death if something goes wrong. Whether that something was a mechanical malfunction, an obstacle in your path, or the reckless actions of a driver.

If you have been injured in a snowmobile accident, your first priority will always be recovery. And your second priority is liability to help you cover the costs of that recovery. While some snowmobile accidents are just that, accidents of the person driving the vehicle. But often, the fault is in someone else's hands instead. When this happens, it is their responsibility to help you cover medical costs, time in recovery, and even wages lost due to the injury. 

Today, we're here to explain who can and might be responsible legally for your snowmobile accident.

The Driver or Another Driver

The first place the law tends to lay liability is with the drivers. Any kind of reckless driving or driving against venue policy can put someone at risk. When another driver is reckless with their driving choices, they can cause injuries to both fellow drivers and their passengers. Reckless driving is the leading cause of snowmobile injuries and, thankfully, the results are often a few scuffs that friends laugh off together. But sometimes the results are severe. Sometimes they are fatal.

In other situations, passengers are injured by the choices of their own drivers. And in very rare cases, reckless passenger decisions can put both themselves and their drivers at risk. The liability of drivers and passengers can only be determined by looking into exactly what happened when the accident occurred. Of course, there are other causes for accidents as well, having to do with more mechanical or situational dangers.

The Snowmobile Rental Service

If you rented your snowmobile, then they are partially responsible for it's performance and for your understanding of how to use the machines. Many snowmobile rental services require you to sign a waiver as part of the rental process. This waiver, however, is only to prevent you from suing the rental company if reckless behavior causes injury or damage. 'Risk of Activity' is often used in these waivers, but it does not protect them from liability if the rental company failed in their explicit duties.

However, if your snowmobile does not perform as you should be able to expect from a commercial business renting snowmobiles to vacationers, then they are legally at fault.

Recreational Venue Owners

If you are riding in a managed area with established paths, fields, or trails for snowmobilers then you have fair reason to believe that the trails will be safe and free of obstacles.

If your snowmobile injury or tragedy was caused by an obstacle in the path or a failure of path design in a controlled recreational venue, then the venue itself may be liable for the results of the accident. 

The Maintenance Mechanic

Snowmobile performance on the trails is often put into the hands of a mechanic, a team of mechanics, or a service that provides maintenance for recreational vehicles. Whoever is responsible for taking care of the snowmobiles is also responsible for their performance when you are riding them as a customer.

Just as the rental service might be liable if they give you a faulty snowmobile, a mechanic or maintenance service may be the ones liable for providing an unreliable vehicle. 

The Snowmobile Manufacturers

Finally, in rare cases, liability has been found with the snowmobile manufacturers themselves. Snowmobiles are potentially risky vehicles which means that they must be in top quality for sale.

Manufacturing flaws can be one-off errors in the production line or cause to recall an entire line or production batch of vehicles. If a manufacturer releases a snowmobile with a flaw that eventually causes injury or worse, they can be held liable. And if you are not the first to seek damages for a manufacturing error, you may even save lives by causing a needed safety recall.

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Have you been injured in a snowmobile accident, or has someone you know been harmed in a similar tragedy? If so, you are not alone, and you may not need to take on the costs of recovery on your own. If another party is liable for your injuries or the injuries of your friend, we are here to help. For more information about snowmobile liability or to consult on the unique details of your case, contact us today.

What To Do When You've Been Pulled Over With Expired Registration

Friday, July 03, 2020

Keeping your vehicle registration up to date must be done every year, but for obvious reasons, cannot be fully automated. This means that car owners are responsible for getting their vehicles inspected and re-registered every year, and attaching the tags when they come in the mail. But if you forgot this year or something happened to your vehicle tags, you could find yourself getting pulled over for expired registration.

The usual result is a warning, a fine, and the possibility that your car may be towed or impounded. The penalties you face will depend on how out-of-date your registration is or how unsafe your vehicle appears to be. The good news is that there are several things you can do to avoid the penalties of an expired registration ticket or reduce them.  

Expired Registration Penalties

If an officer pulls you over for expired registration tags, the most likely results are a simple warning and a ticket.  

Warnings and Tickets

Police officers see slightly out-of-date tags all the time. If the violation is very minor and your tags are only recently expired, you may get away just with a verbal warning. However, the police officer is within their right to write you a ticket for the expired tags as well. The severity of this ticket will usually depend on how long out of date your tags really are.

Fines for Expired Tags

The fines for driving a vehicle with expired registration range between $100 and $200 including surcharges. The longer your vehicle has been unregistered, the larger your fine is likely to be. 

 

Impound or Tow

If your vehicle appears to be incapable of passing inspection, or if you do not correct your registration quickly, your vehicle may be impounded or towed rather than allowing you to keep driving it. 

Court Hearing

You may be required to show up for a day in court, even if you take care of the registration. This is not optional and you will need to attend. Your day in court can be an opportunity to turn the ticket around.

Jail Time

It is possible for drivers with expired registrations to spend up to 15 days in jail.

 

What to Do if You're Pulled Over with Expired Registration Tags

If you are pulled over with expired registration tags, don't panic. You may be able to skate clean from the situation and, if not, you can almost definitely mitigate the costs by acting responsibly. Use the following techniques to reduce the penalties a vehicle registration ticket.

Prove Your Registration is Current

If your registration really is current, but you don't have the tags on our car, you can prove it! The ticket won't stick if your car really is registered. Even if you were driving with expired tags, the law is specifically about unregistered vehicles. As long as your vehicle is registered, you won't have to pay the ticket.

  • Show Online Registration During Police Stop

If you've got a phone and data signal, you can show a police officer your current registration through your online DOL account or an email receipt. The officer doesn't have to accept this as proof, but many are tech-savvy and know digital proof when they see it. This is a good way to avoid even having the ticket written in the first place.

  • Provide Proof of Correction Later

If you can't prove your current registration in the moment, you can submit a Proof of Correction form which will cause the courts to look up your current registration and dismiss the ticket. You may still have to appear in court if summoned.

 

Register Your Vehicle Immediately

Assuming your registration is genuinely expired, you'll need to remedy this immediately. Doing so shows the court that you are a responsible driver (and that your vehicle passes inspection) and your fine can be significantly reduced. There are two ways to get your vehicle registered depending on your circumstances, budget, and the car's condition.

  • Renew Registration

The most common option is to simply renew the vehicle's Minnesota registration. This may or may not involve an inspection. If you recently moved into the state, you have 30 days to get your vehicle inspected and registered.

  • Non-Operational Registration

If your vehicle will be parked for most of the year and/or is below inspection standards, you can get a non-operational registration instead. These are very common in large cities, as many people own vehicles but don't drive them while living in the city. It is also a very affordable option.

 

Get the Tags On Your Car

Being registered isn't enough to solve all your problems. You will also need to get new tags on your car or every third police officer will be stopping you about that registration.

  • Expedite Shipping

Whether you just renewed your registration or got one for the first time, expedite shipping if you need to drive. Alternately, keep your expired vehicle in the garage until the tags arrive via standard shipping.

  • Replace Lost or Stolen Tags

If you had current tags that have been lost or stolen, get them replaced immediately. There will be a small replacement fee that is ultimately worth not being hassled about your registration.

 

Appear in Court if Required

If you have been given a court date, you should make plans to appear. A set court date is mandatory and you can be charged with a misdemeanor for failing to appear. Even if you do everything else right.

Your court date is also a chance to dispute the ticket or prove that you have taken corrective steps to renew your registration. This can lead to a reduction in fines and other consequences if argued well.

  • Pay the Fine and Move On

If your court date is optional and money is no object, you can often choose to simply pay the fine just to leave the issue behind you. But be absolutely certain the court date is optional before taking this route. If you are required to show up in court, you might as well work to reduce your fine and other penalties.

  • Hire a Lawyer and Go to Court

Should you find yourself attending court, it's best to have a lawyer who knows how to handle the Minnesota traffic court. Hire a lawyer to make sure all your paperwork and proof is in order and to speak on your behalf for the best possible result.

 

Contact us for more legal advice!


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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.