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Los Angeles Bicycle Ridership Increases Due to COVID-19: What Does That Mean for You?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Thanks to COVID-19, more people than ever are riding their bicycles through Los Angeles to get to work and school or to enjoy leisure activities. Riding a bicycle is a great solitary activity that allows you to get in some much-needed exercise and see more of Los Angeles. Not only that, bus use is down throughout the Los Angeles area as people try to avoid high-traffic areas and close quarters.  If you've chosen to ride your bicycle to help reduce potential COVID-19 exposure or to enjoy a little exercise during this unprecedented period, it offers a number of advantages. 

You may find that using your bicycle allows you to:
  • Get in more exercise--a great answer to gym closures or avoiding the gym due to COVID-19
  • Get to your destination faster than walking
  • Improve your familiarity with the city and everything it has to offer through a rolling tour
At the same time, if you're using your bicycle during this time, there are several things you need to know. 
As more people ride their bicycles, bicycle accidents increase.
In part, accidents increase because there are simply more people riding their bikes and, with more people riding, accident risk increases substantially. Accident risk can also increase as bicycles become a more familiar sight on Los Angeles streets. Drivers may not yield as readily, or they might not take into consideration the needs of the cyclists around them, especially if they have been slowed down by bicycles as they hurry to work. 
You must also follow the rules of the road.
Just as drivers have specific rules that they must follow on the road, bicyclists must also follow those rules. You should not ride on sidewalks and other walking areas, but should ride in bike lanes when available. You should also follow traffic signals, yield to oncoming traffic, and follow any posted signs and limitations. 
Be aware at all times.
As a bicycle rider, you have little protection from the ground, the cars around you, and any obstacles in your way. Wearing a helmet can significantly decrease TBI risk, but it does not eliminate it entirely, nor does it protect the rest of your body from injury. You are also smaller than the large vehicles driving around you. Many drivers fail to notice the presence of bicycle riders in their lanes because bicycles do not fit the pattern they look for: instead of a large vehicle, you have a much smaller profile and travel at a different rate of speed. Some drivers may find you hard to spot. As a result, you must remain aware of your surroundings at all times and take steps to protect yourself as needed. 
Know what to do if you have an accident.
Many people are using their bicycles, not just for leisure or exercise, but to get to work and school: important destinations they need to reach in a timely manner. Nevertheless, you must take the right steps if you have an accident, even a minor accident. You should:
  • Report the accident and wait for the police to arrive, even if you believe you did not suffer serious injury. 
  • Collect insurance information for the other driver.
  • Seek medical attention, even if you believe you did not suffer serious injury.
A full evaluation from a medical professional can help ensure that you did not miss an injury that could cause serious problems later and serve as valuable evidence if you need to file a personal injury claim. 
Did You Suffer Injuries in a Bicycle Accident in Los Angeles?
If you suffered injuries in a Los Angeles bicycle accident, contact Freeman & Freeman today to learn more about your legal rights and how we can help you seek compensation for your injuries. 

Can You Seek Punitive Damages After a Trucking Accident?

Friday, May 08, 2020

If you have been in an accident with a truck, it was likely a major accident. As trucks are often of a significant size and with a lot of power behind them, few regular drivers come out unscathed from such an accident. If you have had to endure this accident, you will be entitled to compensatory damages. This monetary amount is meant to make you whole, as if the accident has never happened. This means your medical bills and auto damages will be covered so you aren't left paying any bills. However, in certain circumstances, you may have another form of compensation available to you – punitive damages.

Punitive damages are much like how they sound – they are compensation meant to punish the wrongdoing party for their negligence. However, your entitlement to punitive damages is not guaranteed after a trucking accident. As the saying goes, accidents happen. When it is indeed a true accident, the courts find no reason to punish either party. However, if the accident was caused maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently, or recklessly through the actions of the truck driver or company, this opens up the option for punitive compensation.

When Can You Receive Punitive Damages From a Truck Accident?

In many circumstances, a truck accident is just a more dramatic auto accident. However, if you discovered there was various other factors at play in the accident, you could seek punitive compensation. Solid examples of truck accidents open to punitive damages include:

  • Drunk Driving – If the truck driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they were not only acting illegally, but recklessly. As the acceptable BAC level for CDL drivers is even lower than the standard .08 percent, any drinking is likely to build a strong case for reckless driving.
  • Destroying Evidence – The issue with seeking punitive damages is that you will need to provide evidence that there was malicious, fraudulent, intentional, or reckless action. This can be difficult when a trucking company is circling the wagons to protect themselves. If the truck in the accident just happened to be missing its black box or various maintenance records are missing, there is some fraud going on.
  • Regulation Violations – This can be the most difficult circumstance for punitive damages to prove. In this situation, you would need to prove that a company forewent various regulations on purpose and not just on accident. If there is a long record of non-regular maintenance, for example, this can help. However, one missed maintenance appointment can be a weak case.
  • Employment of Unsafe Drivers – It is a company's responsibility to do background checks on their drivers to ensure proper driving history and one without any red flags for substance abuse. If a trucking company employed a driver with a long history of DUIs, this was just asking for an accident to happen. They failed to do their due diligence when hiring a driver when, if they had, the accident may have been prevented.

If your accident with a truck falls into these circumstances or others that are equally as fishy, your compensation options are not only limited to medical bills and auto damages, but can include damages that serve to punish the company as well. However, it will require gathering the proper evidence of wrongdoing first, something that can be quite difficult to do if you are trying to navigate these legal waters on your own.

 If you have been in a truck accident and want to see what your options for compensation are, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman is dedicated to helping you become whole after serious and traumatic accidents.


Auto Accidents on California’s Interstate System

Thursday, August 01, 2019

When you get behind the wheel in California, you're surrounded by many beautiful environments, including mountains, beaches, and deserts. Life feels good, and it's easy to get lost in disbelief that such a paradise exists. However, there are many types of drivers about when you're traveling the roads, and, quite frankly, some are just not paying attention. Using the national highway system in the Los Angeles metro, which includes Interstates 5, 10, and 15, means you could be stuck hours in traffic and risking your life due to the carelessness of other drivers. If you get in a car accident, you could be seriously injured or killed and there could be a devastating effect on your family. It's important to learn about your rights as a crash victim if you've been involved in one of these auto accidents on California’s interstate system to determine if you should pursue a personal injury claim against the defendants in your case.

The Background

California drivers and tourists who visit throughout the year due to the warm climate and popular Hollywood attractions often expect that all motorists on the Interstates will follow the speed limit, which is typically 70 miles per hour. In a perfect world, drivers are always paying attention because they're ignoring frequent distractions from their cell phones, passengers and pets traveling in their vehicle, and events happening on the highway. These statistics about driving on our Interstates might surprise you:    

  • One report found that Interstate 5 was the fourth-deadliest highway in the U.S. 
  • A 2015 report from the Insurance Information Institute found 15 percent of California drivers were uninsured, which is 11 percent lower than the worst state (Florida). 

Tips for Driving Safely on the Interstate 

Using the Interstate system does not have to claim the lives of you or your loved ones. It's possible to use these highways for efficient commuting by remembering these safety tips:

  • Talk to your boss about changing your work shift. This could enable you to use the Interstate system at non-peak times. For example, starting at 7:00 am instead of 8:00 am could get you off the Interstate before most commuters are using it. Then, you could leave work and get home before rush hour in the afternoon.
  • Watch your GPS for alerts on accidents and construction zones. Most sections of the Interstate have an alternate route. A serious accident could shut down the highway for hours, especially to accommodate onlooker delays.
  • Pack a cooler with drinks, sandwiches, and snacks. Then, you can stop at rest areas and minimize stops on the exits.
  • Schedule sections of your trip when you're likely to be tired for non-peak hours. You need all of your wits about you on the road.
  • Avoid driving late at night and during inclement weather. If you must drive at night, travel with at least one other person. This person can talk to you and help you stay awake when the road is dark and less traveled. 
  • Keep your gas level above half a tank. If there is a long traffic delay, worrying about running out of gas could distract you.
  • Stop and rest your eyes. Take a walk. Relieve the stress of being on the road.

For more information about filing a claim for injuries sustained in a California car accident, contact us at Freeman & Freeman and schedule a free consultation. We help clients in the Los Angeles metro and nearby communities. There is a statute of limitations, which is a time limit on when you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in a car crash case. Typically, you have only two years to pursue a claim for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Damages can include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will determine if our dedicated legal team can aggressively pursue your rights under the law. 


How to Be Safer When Using an Uber

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Uber is supposed to be the safer option: better, for example, than attempting to drive drunk in an unfamiliar city. Unfortunately, many people are skeptical about Uber rides--and with good reason. Fake drivers are out there--and they know how to convince you that they are, in fact, your Uber driver and that they're there to pick you up. Try some of these strategies to stay safer. 

1. Make Sure You Have the Right Driver

Before you get into the Uber, double check to make sure that you have the driver that the app says is coming to get you. The app provides a lot of information about your driver's vehicle, including the make, model, and license plate number of their car. The driver won't be offended if you walk around the car or check them out before you get in. You're just keeping yourself and everyone in your party safer!

2. Buckle Up

Any time you get into a moving vehicle, you need to be buckled in. Uber vehicles are no different from other passenger vehicles: they provide no extra protection against an accident, nor does the driver receive extra training about avoiding accidents or keeping their passengers safe. Buckle up as soon as you get in the car. 

3. Pay Attention

You've paid the Uber driver to get you safely to your destination. To many passengers, this means you can simply turn your attention to your phone or your friends. After all, your driver has GPS and knows the area. They don't need your input to get there. 

Paying attention, however, can let you know if any red flags are being raised. Is the driver taking the wrong route or headed toward a place you don't recognize? Is the ride taking far longer than it should have? Is the driver displaying signs of erratic behavior? By paying attention, you can increase the odds that you'll notice a problem before it leads to serious danger. 

4. Know When to End the Ride

If you call for an Uber, you always have the right to cancel or end the ride--even in the middle of it. You can end your ride early for any reason. If you feel unsafe, the driver is behaving erratically, or your gut is telling you to get out of the car, trust your instincts. This is particularly true if you notice your driver speeding, driving distracted, or ignoring traffic laws. If you end the ride, you can request another driver to take you the rest of the way to your destination or use an alternate form of transportation to get there. It may take a little longer, but if you feel unsafe, it's not worth taking the risk.

5. Leave Reviews

Did you get in an Uber with a driver who did not behave safely behind the wheel? Did they drive distracted, appear to be drunk, ignore traffic laws, or do something that made you uncomfortable? Leave a review! Not only does Uber seriously consider these reviews and check over them on a regular basis--in some cases, leading to the removal of drivers from their pool--your review can also help other riders decide when to avoid a driver who could cause a danger to them. While those reviews can't always prevent accidents or ensure safety, they can help prevent someone else from having a bad experience. 

Did you suffer injuries from an Uber driver, in spite of your best efforts to be safe? Do you need legal help to get the compensation you deserve after an accident? Contact us today to learn how we can help.


How is Liability Assigned in a Multi-Car Accident?

Thursday, May 02, 2019

While assigning liability is always a complex matter in auto accidents, multi-car accidents are an entirely different matter. If you were rear-ended, the car in the back would be saddled with liability. However, it is more difficult to assign liability when more than one vehicle is involved. Furthermore, because of the number of vehicles involved, the damage to your own vehicle as well as your body can be extensive and costly. Unfortunately, when there are a number of different cars responsible for the accident, it can be difficult to pinpoint liability for the damage.

Assigning Liability

In a multi-car crash, you don't file insurance claims for damage caused by different cars. Instead, typically liability is assigned for the crash. In most cases, the driver that started the chain reaction will be held liable for the accident. However, all drivers involved have a certain liability to an extent in the accident as well.

Most commonly, lawyers will work with police officers to try and find out who started the chain reaction in the accident as well as why it happened. It is easier for all parties if the person responsible confesses, but things don't always work out like that. Once the cause of the accident has been determined, if it was caused by negligence, such as distracted driving, then it is likely their insurance will be paying for all the damages. However, if something that was beyond their control caused a multi-car accident, then the liability for it may not solely rest on their shoulders. By not being able to brake in time to prevent the accident, all the cars involved have some liability. So if the initial driver lost control of the car due to something like ice (a rarity in California, but a good example) then they would not maintain sole liability for causing the accident.

The Biggest Complications in Multi-Car Accident Cases

As one would expect, if you were in a multi-car accident, the whole affair is going to take more time and money to resolve than your standard two-car auto accident cases. In truth, the biggest hang-up is often assigning liability for the accident to see whose insurance will be covering the damage. This requires the gathering of evidence and reconstruction of the accident to concretely prove. If you are lucky, the accident will happen in front of a traffic camera, a piece of evidence that will speed things up significantly, but not always a viable option.

Furthermore, as these accidents are often of a lethal nature, it is even more unlikely that a person will claim the fault if they are also looking at a wrongful death suit. If you have been in a multi-car accident, you should expect that it will take exponentially longer for the case to conclude. As it takes time to gather the necessary evidence as well as assign fault, it could very well be years before it reaches its conclusion.

Need Help?

Have you been involved in a multi-car accident and want to know when or even if you will receive compensation for damage and injuries related to the crash? You will want to find yourself legal representation to make sure your interests are fully represented in the matter of the crash so that you will get the compensation you need to get back on track. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Freeman and Freeman can do to help you. We are dedicated to being an advocate of those injured in California and we are ready to fight to make sure you get the compensation that you need.


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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.