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Personal Injury Blog

What to Do When Involved in a Hit and Run Motorcycle Accident

Thursday, January 23, 2020

A motorcycle accident in and of itself is a horrifying experience. As a rider, you lack the protective metal shell of a car and will have to endure more bodily injuries than most drivers ever will even in mild accidents. Unfortunately, if the driver that hit you drives off, it can leave you in a dangerous situation if no one else is around to help you. If you come out of a hit and run motorcycle accident, it can leave you badly injured, scared, and most of all furious that the person that hit you drove off and may not bear any responsibility for it.

However, it is important to keep a clear head and know what steps you need to take in order to make sure your case is covered fully.

Call the Police

Obviously, after a motorcycle accident, your first concern should be with your health. You will want to get pressing injuries taken care of. However, it is also important that you contact the police as soon as possible after a hit and run accident. The sooner you contact the police with details about the vehicle, the higher the chance that the police will be able to find the person responsible.

If the police are able to find the vehicle that did hit you, they will face criminal charges for a hit and run. Furthermore, since they actually located the person, you can press charges in an accident case to see that your medical bills and motorcycle damage is covered after the accident.

Unfortunately, the chances of police finding a hit and run driver can be rather low, especially if you barely saw them coming at you or needed immediate medical care after the accident and could not contact them. This means you will need to be ready to take other options in case of this event.

What to Do If You Can't Find The Negligent Driver?

If you contacted the police, but they cannot find the person that hit your motorcycle and caused this traumatic accident, unfortunately, they won't face the punishment they deserve. It is still possible the police may catch them later, but you need money for your medical bills and motorcycle damage sooner rather than later.

If the police cannot find the other driver, you will need to file a claim with your own auto insurance company. These days, auto insurance policies come with coverage for underinsured drivers or drivers with no insurance. This also covers drivers of hit and runs.

The tricky part of filing this claim is getting it approved. This is where you will still want to contact a personal injury attorney for help. They can help you deal with your insurance company to help make sure the claim is approved. Unfortunately, one missed step or improper piece of documentation means they will deny a claim you dearly need. As such, you will want to get in contact with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible even after a hit and run where you are dealing with your own insurance company. You'd like to think they are there to help you, but unfortunately they often only care about keeping costs low.

Need Help?

Have you been the victim of a hit and run or the victim of any motorcycle accident? We can help you. After a motorcycle accident, your injuries will be more serious than those of a car driver and you especially deserve to have them covered. Contact us today to see how we at the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you recover compensation for your extensive injuries.


Is The Driver Liable When a Car Malfunction Causes an Accident?

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Car problems are an inevitable part of life. However, while a dead battery or a flat tire are frustrating, they aren't dangerous. Yet, car problems had while on the road can be major hazards not just to your own safety, but everyone around you.

If you have been in an accident, that is bad enough. However, if prior to that accident you were dealing with some sort of malfunction, such as a blown-out tire or faulty brakes, you may be looking for a little justice. Yet, even if your car caused the accident and not any negligence on your part, it is likely that the other party and their insurance company will still try to pin the blame on you, but that might not be quite right.

If your car did have a malfunction, there could be another party you could be holding responsible for your damages and those to the other vehicle in some circumstances.

Manufacturer Liability

It is possible for your auto accident to transform into a product liability case if the malfunction was caused by the manufacturer. If you can show that the problem was caused by a flaw in the design of the vehicle or a flaw that happened in the manufacturing process, you can pursue a claim with the manufacturer and hold them liable.

Unfortunately, this will take an examination by someone very knowledgeable about cars and it can be difficult to go after auto companies. Furthermore, if the cause in question has already been recalled, depending on the time the recall has been out, you may be liable for not visiting a dealer to have it rectified after you have been notified about the issue.

Repair Shop Liability

More commonly when a car malfunctions, it is not so much the manufacturer that caused it due to some defect, but it could have been potentially caused by the repair technician. Over time, your mechanic has a lot more contact with the car and its mechanical functions than the manufacturer.

If your vehicle malfunctioned, you may want to have it investigated after the wreck to see if it was a fault in your repair shop that caused the problem. If this proves true, you can hold the repair shop liable.

Unfortunately, many independent mechanics don't have the assets, funds, or even insurance to field a lawsuit like this. However, chain repair shops will often have insurance specifically to cover the mistakes of their employees.

Were You Actually At-Fault?

When a car accident happens due to a malfunction, you may be somewhat relieved to know you might not be held liable, but there are circumstances where this isn't true. For example, if the malfunction was caused due to your own work on the car, this means that you are still held liable for that accident.

Furthermore, if you suspected something was wrong with your car, such as your tires kept losing pressure, or your brakes were a little slower to stop your car, you may be held liable if you didn't take any action. This falls into the same vein as the aforementioned recalled defects on the part of the manufacturer. Similar to if you received a recall notice and did not take timely action to have the defect replaced, if you knew of a problem but did nothing, then the accident it caused is still your fault.

Need Help?

Have you been in an auto accident in the Los Angeles area? Whether it was caused by a defect or the negligence of another, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you navigate through the complex process of personal injury suits to help you get the compensation that you deserve.


4 Ways to be Safe when Using Uber & Lyft Rideshare Companies

Thursday, December 12, 2019

It sounds like a great idea. Use your smartphone, wherever you may be, and get a ride to wherever you want to go. But many individuals have concluded that "all that glitters is not gold." What started as a fresh idea for getting a ride when you need it, has now gone sour for many.  The "ease factor" is excellent. The downsides can be downright dangerous.

1. Be Extra-Safe when you Drive

In Seattle, 90,000 Uber or Lyft rides a day take place, which is more than the number of people that are transported by Seattle's light rail system. At the University of California Los Angeles, 11,000 Uber or Lyft trips occur within the boundaries of the university's boundaries. Walking seems no longer in fashion.

Of the cities with the highest Uber, Lyft, and rideshare users, driving has risen approximately 3 percent compared to cities that have a lower rate of Uber and Lyft usage. The overall effect is that more vehicles are on the roads that have too many vehicles already. Over-crowded streets set the perfect scene for accidents. This fact means when you are driving your personally-owned car, you must remain aware, cautious, and sensible.

2. Be Cognizant that Uber and Lyft Drivers may be Stressed or Anxious

Edward Escobar, a Denver Lyft and Uber driver, is the founder of the Alliance for Independent Workers. Escobar noted, in an interview this year, that:

The ride-hailing companies "are squeezing drivers into poverty, despair, suicide," Escobar said, pointing to a reported suicide by a Lyft driver in New York City last week, the ninth known suicide of a taxi or ride-hailing driver there since 2017.

Drivers are disturbed by the manner and amount they receive as payment. Escobar says he is making 80 percent less than he made last year.

Stressed drivers can make for bad drivers. If the driver of a vehicle is distracted or having anxiety-based difficulties, it is best to exit the car quickly.

3. Know that Not all Uber and Lyft Drivers are Who they Say they Are

In 2019, Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old South Carolina student, was kidnapped and killed by a man impersonating an Uber driver. In the past, there have been up to two dozen such attacks. This type of crime includes driver suspects who have attacked multiple women. In Connecticut, Chicago, South Carolina, and other cities, these rare, but nightmarish crimes have occurred. From this particularly heinous crime comes a measure of hope. South Carolina has proposed a law that would require all Uber, rideshare, or Lyft drivers to display a lighted sign from their company.

The University of South Carolina started a new safety campaign that urges riders to ask the driver, "What is my name?" The valid driver will know his party's name due to his or her electronic mail sent to hail the driver.

4. Bring Your Car Seat

If an infant or toddler is riding with you, you must ensure the young one has a proper car seat for his or her age. It is not the driver's responsibility to have this equipment. Along with that, Lyft and Uber require that a parent accompanies children under the age of 18.  Drivers can get in trouble for allowing children to ride with no accompaniment. Parents need to be vigilant and never let a child call a Lyft or an Uber on his or her own.

Uber, Lyft, and Rideshare Safety

Here at Freeman and Freeman, we are delighted when accidents do not take place and our community remains safe. But call us if you need help with any issues that may arise due to the negligence of Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare business. Contact us at our Los Angeles offices today.


What to Do If You're Involved in a Boating Accident

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Boating accidents can be as minor as little fender-scuffs or they can be devastating vessel-sinking collisions that put every passenger in harm's way. It all depends on the relative speeds and point of impact for both boats. Experiencing a boat accident can be surprising, devastating, and even tragic. But when one happens, the best thing you can do is know how to respond quickly and correctly.

Someone will need to keep their head in order to handle the situation and help others involved to deal with the disaster. If you are well enough to make decisions after a boat accident, it can help to know exactly the right steps to take. Let's dive into the correct process for dealing with a boating accident both ethically and legally.

Rescue Everyone from the Water

According to the US coast guard, over 70% of boating accident fatalities are caused by drowning. If not rescued quickly, they may not have the strength, ability, or wherewithal to stay above water. The accident could become an even greater tragedy if someone was lost during the post-accident chaos.

This is why the first priority in any boating accident is to get everyone out of the water. If either vessel is still afloat, they must render aid to all survivors. Do your best to get everyone in life jackets or hanging onto a sturdily floating piece of debris. Do a headcount immediately to ensure that everyone has been found and rescued from drowning. Remember to include boat staff in your count as well.

Move the Vessels to Safety

In many boating accidents, the collision occurred in an aquatic thoroughfare where water vehicles pass frequently at high speeds. Just like pulling off the highway in a car, you will need to get your vessels out of the direct path of boat traffic. It's best if the damaged vessels can dock to move on to the next steps. But floating in a low-traffic section of the water is often as much as damaged boats can manage.

Seek Medical Attention for All Involved

Every single person who was involved should go see their doctor and get inspected for signs of long-term damage. Injuries can appear overtime after an experience like the body-displacing whiplash caused by a boating accident. 

For anyone overtly injured, call 911 and ask them to meet you at whatever dock you tied up after the accident. Then, for everyone who feels alright, be sure to visit the doctor and have a few tests in the week following the accident. 

Do Not Apologize

No matter how rattled you feel or whether you think the accident might be your fault -- Do Not Apologize. Saying a sympathetic "I'm so sorry" can be legally construed as accepting fault in the accident which can hurt your chances of a fair insurance claim. No one who has received legal advice will make the mistake of accidentally accepting blame. Keep yourself out of trouble by watching what you say carefully. Help everyone get medical attention, but do not apologize for the accident.

Trade Operator and Insurance Information

Liability is also an immediate concern. Each party should trade the names of their boat operators and their insurance data so the other can make a claim. The drivers will also be held liable but each case will determine whether the fault lies with a boat operator or the company that employs them.

Make sure to give your operator's card and insurance information to the other boaters and get theirs in return.

Get Contact Info from Witnesses

Witnesses are incredibly useful in describing what they saw and determining who is truly at fault. If there were any witnesses of the accident, especially those that stuck around during the medical assistance, they should not be reached out to. Collect their names and contact info to get started and worry about using them as reference witnesses later.

In the meantime, just be friendly. Locals and vacationers who witness a boating accident are usually not shy about sharing what they saw from their perspective.

Take Photographs

Photographs tend to be quite powerful in both insurance and civil court cases. Photographs taken immediately after the accident can also serve as proof and a confirmation of what happened after the evidence and gone and wounds have started to heal. 

Report the Accident to Authorities

If anyone or any bot got seriously hurt, you'll need to report the boat accident to the coast guard. You may also need to make a report to local authorities. You will need to submit a Recreational Boating Accident Report form if anyone was injured, killed, if a boat was lost, or if property damage equals $2,000 in value or more.

Consult a Boating Accident Lawyer

Once you have taken care of your duties to yourself and others to begin post-accident recovery, it's time to reach out to a boating accident lawyer. If there are no great disputes, then a lawyer can help you get a fair assessment from the insurance companies who may be hesitant to pay your fair share. And if the accident was pointedly caused by another, a lawyer can help you build a strong civil case. Whether you're filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit after your boating accident, the Freeman & Freeman team can help you. Contact us today for a consultation on your post-boating-accident needs.


When Should You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

When someone you love dies, it can be challenging to see the next steps forward. If the death was a freak accident or caused by something other than personal recklessness, you are probably wondering if there is any way in the world to make things right. Do you go to the police, or have the police already been and gone? Do you file a complaint? Can you file a civil lawsuit against the cause of your loved one's death if the legal system won't prosecute?

Today, we're here to answer that question. For anyone wondering if they can or should file a wrongful death suit in response to the death of their loved one, the criteria are fairly clear. Follow along with us as we explore the basics of wrongful death and you will find the answer to whether a wrongful death suit is right for your situation.

What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is the legal term for a death that should not have occurred. A death that, if everyone was doing their jobs and being responsible, would not have occurred. In other words, it's a death for which blame lies somewhere. And that blame can be applied legally, if not criminally. The police will only open a criminal trial if the death was caused by blatant criminal action - like intentional murder or drunk driving. For all other types of incidental but not faultless deaths, the victims are responsible for taking the case to civil court to find justice.

Therefore, a wrongful death suit is the pursuit of justice. Holding the party responsible for the death accountable, even if their actions were not officially criminal. The result is almost always a money award to the surviving family members to help ease the pain and financial suffering of the loss of the deceased.

Determining Liability After a Death

The next question is one of liability. Liability means "legal responsibility" and is how the law determines if someone's death was just an accident or if someone else was legally responsible in a way that could have prevented the death. Here's a quick run-down of the most common forms of wrongful death liability.

Death Caused by Another's Actions

If someone else did something that caused the death, but their action wasn't criminal, then you may be able to sue them based on personal liability. A distracted driver pulled into the intersection while texting and hit the deceased. A motorboat cuts off a jet-ski in violation of the marina rules, a commuter opens their parked car door and 'doors' a cyclist, killing them. These are examples of personal liability where the defendant will be held accountable for absent-minded, irresponsible, or reckless behavior that caused the death.

Death Caused by Unsafe Property

A property owner is liable for injuries and deaths that occur on their property, to varying degrees of responsibility. The primary form of property-based negligence is if the property was somehow unsafe for it's intended use. An un-salted parking lot where someone slips and cracks their head. An unsafely stacked pile of merchandise that falls and crushes someone. Or a cracked unrepaired step that causes someones' foot to slip as the step down the stairs. These are all examples where property owners have created a potentially deadly situation through negligence.

Death Caused by Negligence of Responsibility

Another form of negligence liability is one where death is caused by the failure of responsibility. A four-wheeler rental that fails to inform customers on the safe use of the vehicle, a driving instructor who does not take an ailing student back up to the surface, or a daycare worker who failed to keep an eye on the children.

Death Caused by Breach of Contract

Then there are situations where the deceased had every reason to believe the liable party would ensure their safety through a contractual agreement. They may have needed certain safety equipment installed before a stunt, equipment that was not installed by the time of the event, for example.

Death on the Job

Then there's death that occurs on the job. In some states, your family may be eligible for death benefits through worker's comp. But these top out, don't pay emotional damages and close the door on suing the employer for harm-causing decisions. Instead, you may want to file a wrongful death suit where you could have a strong case that the employer was responsible for the circumstances of your loved' one's death.

Close Family Member Eligibility

Finally, there's the question of who can file a wrongful death suit. Most people don't know this, but only very close relatives can file the suit and be the recipient of any monetary rewards. The first tier is the surviving spouse or children. If they decline or are unavailable to file, parents may file. If they decline, siblings may file. And if they decline, domestic partners and more distant relatives may file. But the right to file goes in that order. 

If you are a friend and want to file on behalf of distant relatives, that is also a legal responsibility. But you will not be awarded the damages, those go to the family.

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Should you file a wrongful death suit? Here at Freeman & Freeman, we believe in finding justice for deaths that the criminal court can't address. If the case of your dead loved one is within these circumstances, then filing a wrongful death is the best way to get that justice. For more information, contact us today!



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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.