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Personal Injury Blog

Injured Rideshare Drivers: Who Is Responsible?

Monday, June 22, 2020

Injured Rideshare Drivers: Who Is Responsible?

Americans are increasingly relying on drivers for rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft to get them to their destination. While these drivers serve an important function, they also put themselves at high risk of injury. In 2018, there were over 3,000 fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes in California.

The results of a rideshare accident can be devastating to the driver. Injuries will mean lost wages, and damage to a vehicle could take away their only means of providing support for themselves or family. Rideshare drivers need to understand their rights for recovery if they are injured while driving for a company like Uber or Lyft.

Determining Fault

When there is a car accident, a party is considered at fault if they acted negligently in a way that caused injury to another person or property. Common actions that can lead to a finding of fault include any violation of a traffic ordinance, such as speeding or running a red light. If a driver received a traffic citation from the police, this is compelling evidence that they acted negligently.

Insurance companies will also use fault as a basis for determining which driver's insurance should pay any claims. In order to limit coverage obligations, insurance companies are strongly incentivized to demonstrate that their insured was not at fault.

To make sure you can establish a strong case against the other party, be sure to secure a police report, document the scene of the accident, and secure contact information for any witnesses.

Seeking Recovery

Rideshare drivers face a complicated web or responsibility when determining how to recover for their injuries after an accident. While the driver might feel that they are employed by Uber or Lyft, they will considered an independent contractor.

Independent Contractors

Whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor is a determination made by analyzing the relationship between the individual and the company for which they are providing services. The following factors indicate that an individual is an independent contractor rather than an employee:

  • They control the work that is performed and how it is done;
  • They manage the business components of their job;
  • They do not receive any employee benefits; and
  • There is no formal employee contract

The National Labor Relations Board has advised that rideshare drivers are independent contractors. This finding excludes Uber and Lyft drivers from pursuing a workers' compensation claim. This finding, however, could be up for debate in California where recent legislation looks to limit the use of independent contractors in the state's gig economy.

Because an independent contractor cannot recover under workers' compensation, they will need to depend on insurance providers to compensate them for their injuries.

Navigating Insurance Policies

There are several insurance policies that might come into play after a rideshare accident:

  • The driver's personal policy;
  • The rideshare company's insurance policy; and
  • The policy of the other driver

Your first step should be to review the rideshare company's protocol when an accident occurs. Both Uber and Lyft require drivers to submit a report to access the company's insurance policies. The Uber crash report is here, and the Lyft crash report is here. If it is unclear whether you were operating in the course of your duties at the time of the accident, this will serve to complicate recovery even further and may require you to involve your personal insurance company.

If you are a rideshare driver who has been involved in an accident, you may be overwhelmed with the stress of managing injuries while considering the financial impacts. Navigating the complexities of determining fault and contacting insurance companies is an unnecessary additional stress.  Contact our firm today to understand the strength of your case and your options for recovery.

Nursing Home Negligence Resulting in Death

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Nursing Home Negligence Resulting in Death

The death of a loved one is the greatest loss a person can experience. This loss is magnified when you discover the death could have, and should have, been prevented. Unfortunately, many cases have occurred in which someone loses a family member due to negligence happening in a nursing facility responsible for that person's care. When you suspect a wrongful death of your loved one occurred in a nursing home, you need to seek legal assistance. Please consider the following to help your counsel in handling the case.

It is important to establish what occurred as quickly after the death as possible. If you suspect your relative was improperly cared for and this negligence resulted in fatality, evidence is essential. Details regarding the death are essential in proving negligence. You can help your legal representative discover answers to these questions:

What and How? You need to discern the information regarding your loved one's death.This, of course, would include the official recorded "cause of death" as well as all the details you can discover regarding "how" the death happened. Was there a fall? A cardiac event? An infection that resulted in death? Document all information given by nursing home representatives to share with your attorney. Talk to caregivers and any other witnesses, if possible, and write down what they say. Request all medical records and other accounts of your family member's care.

Where? You and your counsel need to know where the death actually happened. Did it occur in the facility itself? If so, exactly where? Perhaps the death occurred in the patient's own room, or the cafeteria, community room or somewhere on the grounds. In cases where a fall occurred, note whether there were hazards present in the area such as spills, debris or clutter.

When? While you can likely find out the date and time when your family member died, try to ascertain what happened in the critical days or hours preceding death. This information might shed additional light on possible neglect or abuse of the deceased. Was the death sudden and unexpected? Try to discover a timeline of events that led up to your loved one's passing.

Who? Who was present in the time directly preceding the death. Was anyone present when the person  expired or became critically ill or injured? Your attorney will likely want to compose a list of witnesses which should include these people. Discover not only who employed by the facility was present during this time period but who else, such as other patient's and their visitors, were nearby. These people could possibly have key information to your case.

Why? This is a key question in cases of nursing home negligence. What circumstances contributed to your loved one's passing. For example, was there a medication error that caused a heart attack or stroke?, did staff neglect to properly care for pressure sores which led to infection?, was your loved one not monitored or properly secured and suffered a fall? Or did something else happen such as an assault of your family member by a facility employee? Many cases are complicated and require diligence in ascertaining exactly why death occurred.

When you lose someone you love due neglect or abuse occurring in a nursing home, you have the legal right to justice. Those who failed to care properly for your family member should be held responsible. This includes compensation for  funeral expenses and medical costs preceding the death. It is also extremely important  to help prevent the facility's negligence from recurring. The law firm of Freeman and Freeman urge you to  contact us with your concerns.

Anoxic Brain Injuries From Near Drowning Accidents

Thursday, May 21, 2020




A day swimming at a local pool, lake or beach is a treat for you and your family. Unfortunately, a beautiful day of recreation can turn tragic in a matter of minutes. There are thousands of fatalities each year due to drowning and thousands more nonfatal incidents.

Submersion in water for just minutes results in mild to severe problems. One of the most common results of near drowning is a condition called anoxic brain injury (ABI). Anoxia happens when the brain lacks oxygen. Experts estimate that a few minutes of oxygen deprivation causes a victim a variety of symptoms but dissipates quickly, leaving the person to fully recover in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, four to five minutes without oxygen produces moderate to severe brain damage.

Effects of Mild Anoxia:

  • Disturbances vision, focus, and/or memory
  • Heavy Breathing
  • Sweating
  • Numb or tingling feelings especially in extremities
  • Dizziness
  • Heavy Breathing
  • Euphoric sensations

Effects of Moderate to Severe Anoxia:

  • Speech disturbances
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion
  • cyanosis (bluish coloring)
  • Jerking
  • Seizures
  • unconsciousness
  • Coma

Long Term Effects of Severe ABI:

There are many long term effects when the cerebral cortex and cerebellum are starved for oxygen for four or more minutes. Weakness in the arms and legs, difficulties in movement and balance make it difficult for the victim to walk.

Disturbance of the basal ganglia might lead to persistent tremors and/or writing. Other times, chorea may result causing jerky movements.

Some patients suffer cortical blindness when the anoxia impacts the occipital lobe. In rare cases, a condition known as Anton's syndrome develops in which the person does not realize he has lost vision despite bumping into objects and not recognizing objects.

Those with frontal lobe impairment exhibit personality changes including mood swings when the patient become angry, irritable, frustrated and/or depressed.

 

Possible Tests and Treatments:

Physicians will likely order a number of tests to determine the immediate condition of a near drowning victim. Among these are blood counts, x rays, magnetic resonance imagery scan (MRI) and, computerized axial tomography (CT). These tests will help doctors assess the severity of the damage to the brain and body. . Typically, a medical team assembles to provide physical, occupational and speech therapy. The severity of impairment indicates how long to conduct rehabilitation efforts for the best outcome. Psychological counseling often helps a patient deal with the emotions due to his life altering accident.

Liability and Legal Action:

While many near drownings are accidents in which nobody is at fault, there are times when such occurrences could and should have been prevented. If, for example, the body of water was under the supervision of an ill-trained or inattentive lifeguard, a victim could in legal action against that person, the property company or the organization that certified the lifeguard.

Others who might be liable in certain situations are owners of unprotected pools. For example, in Florida, persons who own pools must provide a barrier to that body of water for when it is not supervised. This barrier could be a fence with a lock and/or alarm or a pool cover that meets the specifications of the American Society for Testing and Materials. Owners of properties containing unprotected wells or other water hazards might also suffer legal consequences should a drowning or near drowning occur there.

If you or a family member suffered from an ABI from drowning you need assistance. A competent and experienced lawyer can help you during this challenging time. You need compensation for associated costs like medical and therapy bills and possible loss of wages.  The pain and suffering ABI victims endure also deserves monetary assistance.

We Want to Help You:

Those impacted by the trauma and damage of anoxic brain injury due to a near drowning deserve compassion and guidance. The attorneys  at Freeman and Freeman urge you to contact us  for assistance with your particular situation.

Who is Legally Liable for Jet Ski Accident Injuries?

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Riding on a jet ski is one of those unique vacation experiences. You may look forward to it for months or spot the rental place and decide to try it on impulse. You may decide to jet-ski alone just to feel the wind on your face or with friends to share the experience. But what happens when a high-speed frolic turns into a tragic accident? A few hundred jet ski accidents and a small number of deaths happen every year. And it's an unfortunate truth that because jet skis are high-speed recreation that the injured drivers are often blamed even when the accident was not their fault.

To discover who is responsible, you'll need to consider all the factors at play. Jet ski accident liability isn't as clear-cut as someone, say, getting injured on a theme park ride. Because there are so many contributors to the situation. Let's take a look at a selection of other players who might be the root cause of this terrible accident.

Another Boat Driver

Courtesy in the marina and along tourist-covered coasts is incredibly important. The more people in the water, the more careful each boat and personal watercraft driver has to be. It is vital that boats not only give each other space, but also respect each other's trajectories. You may be thinking that if another boat didn't hit the jet ski to cause the accident, then a boat driver isn't responsible. But that's not necessarily true. If another boat cut across the water in front of your jet ski and left a wake wave, for example, they may be directly responsible for the accident.  

 

The Jet Ski Rental Company

Rental businesses don't always fulfill their full responsibilities. Whether this was an accidental oversight or purposeful corner-cutting negligence, the rental company is still liable for failing to complete their duties in providing safe watercraft rental.

Rental companies are responsible for keeping their jet skis in top condition, well-tuned to perform well with inexperienced drivers. If a malfunction occurs or something breaks while you are out on the water, this is the rental company's failure.

The company is also responsible for giving you at least a quick summary of safety procedures. How to ride, how not to ride, and any local dangers. If, for example, there are sharks in the area your rental company is obligated to tell you before letting you go out on the water.

Liability Waivers

If the rental company is at fault, you may be worried about the liability waiver you signed to rent the jet ski. What you signed essentially says you won't be coming back claiming to have a crick in the neck because the handles were at the wrong height.

However, if the rental company really did fail to maintain the vehicle and rented you a defective high-speed personal watercraft, that is not included in most liability waivers. Make sure your lawyer takes a look at the waiver so you have a real idea of what the limitations are.

The Marina or Waterfront Management Company

Most people don't realize this, but there's also a possibility that the marina or beachfront where you were riding might be at fault for the accident. Any stretch of water and beach that are designated for recreational activity, the organization that opens the area is also responsible for making sure the area is safe. Patrolling the water for dangers, marking shallow rocks, and monitoring safe recreational activities.

The marina or waterfront are also responsible for any buoys, lines, piers, and floating docks that are part of their recreational area infrastructure. If your jet ski hits a buoy that is out of place, or shallow rocks that should have been marked, then these are examples of the marina or waterfront management company being at fault.

The Jet Ski Manufacturer

If your jetski malfunctioned but you can't figure out anything that you or the rental company did wrong, then the true responsible party might go all the way back to the manufacturer. Manufacturer errors do occasionally happen and personal injury suits are often the first time these risks are identified. In fact, if you successfully bring suit to a faulty manufacturer, you may save other lives by forcing them to do a recall on other units that may be defective as well.

A Tourist Guide Company

Finally, there is your tourist activity planning company or jet ski tour guide. Many people join a group or take a tour to enjoy their jet skis, meaning they are following the instructions and movements of someone who is supposed to be an expert with their safety in mind. If you were involved in an organized jet ski activity that resulted in an injury, there's an unusually high chance that your injury was ultimately the fault of the tourist guide or their company.

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If you or someone you know has been injured in a jet ski accident, the situation has so many layers that liability will take some investigating to discover. Was the marina a dangerous place to jet ski, or did your tour guide take you on a route too tough for beginners? Did your rental company fail to maintain the jet ski or warn you about local dangers, or did the manufacturer create a defective product that eventually failed under your use?

For more details on jet ski liability, to look over your rental liability waiver, or to consult on your case please contact us today. Our legal team is ready to help in any way we can.

Brain-Injured Rideshare Passengers Battle Uber for Justice

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Passengers expect their Uber and Lyft trips to be safe and problem-free. Of course, the reality is rideshare drivers have accidents too. It is difficult to determine how often passengers are injured while using a ride-hailing service. Although Uber recently released a safety report, the company did not include data on their accidents that resulted in non-fatal injuries. Yet, ride-hailing services have this data. They just don't make it public.

Each year transportation network companies, which is what the state of California calls ride-hailing services, must provide accident data to the state via the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The ride-hailing companies have asked the state to keep this safety data confidential. Thus far, the CPUC has honored their requests. A California politician is trying to get this critical information released to the public.

In the meantime, it's clear that rideshare passengers are being injured in collisions all over the country. The following cases show rideshare passengers have sustained serious brain injuries during their trips. These cases also demonstrate an injured rideshare passenger needs a strong Rideshare accident attorney to hold the responsible parties accountable. 

Uber Denies Hurt Passenger Has Right to Sue

Jillian Kemenosh is entangled in litigation with Uber. The basic facts of the case do not appear to be in question. In 2018, Kemenosh was using the service to get home. The Uber driver ran a red light and crashed into a vehicle. The accident left Kemenosh with a traumatic brain injury and a shattered spine.

When she sued Uber, the company claimed she had no right to sue. The company's argument is Kemenosh agreed to the company's terms of service, which requires her to settle legal disputes through binding arbitration instead of a jury trial.

Kemenosh countered that reading or agreeing to the terms of service was not required when she downloaded the app in 2013. A judge recently agreed with her according to media reports. The case is ongoing. It looks like Kemenosh may get the jury trial she desires.

Uber Rejects Responsibility for Passenger's Injuries

An Associated Press report indicates that ride-hailing service passenger Lokeshwaran Narayanasamy experienced a traumatic brain injury during an Uber ride from the airport. The driver hit a vehicle that had been abandoned on the road. In response to the 2017 lawsuit that Narayanasamy filed against Uber, the company said it wasn't responsible for his injuries because the driver is not employed by the ride-hailing service. 

In 2020, a federal judge ruled that a jury has to decide whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor. Narayanasamy's attorney is optimistic that a jury will classify the driver as an employee, which would mean the transportation service could be held accountable for Narayanasamy's injuries.

Passenger Sues Two Ride-Hailing Companies for Accident

The injuries that Sheila Hawkins received while taking Lyft to an appointment are similar to Jillian Kemenosh's injuries. Hawkins has brain and spinal injuries stemming from the highway crash. She alleges that her driver was distracted when he ran into a tractor-trailer because he had the Lyft app and the Uber app open to receive new rideshare requests. Hawkins contends these apps should be designed so that drivers cannot access them when their vehicles are traveling at high speeds. 

Los Angeles Uber Accident Lawyer

Have you been injured in an accident while you were traveling in a rideshare car? Did an Uber driver crash into your vehicle? We've helped hundreds of people in these situations. Contact us to have an experienced personal injury attorney help you navigate the complex process of getting everything you deserve. 


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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.