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Personal Injury Blog

Slip and Fall Injuries - Liability and Legal Information About Personal Injuries

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Slip and fall injuries are one of the most common legal issues just about everywhere. Unfortunately, this makes them ripe for misinformation and misinterpretation when filtered through the lens of media or uninformed legal "advice". With so much of this stuff swirling around out there, you might even be unknowingly spreading some yourself. To combat this misinformation and help you understand how you might be liable or when you might be owed some compensation, let's take a look at who might be liable for a slip and fall in a few hypothetical situations within the State of California.

Slipping and Falling While Trespassing

It's a common myth that you've probably heard before. A thief or some other ne'er-do-well breaks into your home intending to cause you harm but, the shock of all shocks ends up slipping on a spill and breaking their back. All of a sudden, now you're facing down a lawsuit for not cleaning up. How can this be happening? Well, the fact of the matter is it isn't. This is, as was said, a myth. The bottom line is that there has never been a case where someone has successfully been sued for injuries incurred by a person trespassing on private property. The current consensus is that, in most cases, the property owner is not responsible for the wellbeing of someone trespassing on their property. An exception may be made for a property that is knowingly in unsafe conditions or that is known to be frequently trespassed; in other words, situations where one has the knowledge that people are frequently moving through their property and have not made attempts to stop it or properly warn of unsafe conditions.

Slipping and Falling Without a Wet Floor Sign

While not required by law, the vast majority of businesses employ the classic wet floor sign to tell customers that...well, the floor in an area is wet. This is a precaution they take to ensure they can't be found liable for a person's injury as a result of slipping and falling as the prior warning of the unsafe conditions assumes that the injured party took on the risk of traversing the unsafe terrain. Without the sign, a person could reasonably make the case that they were not properly warned of danger while lawfully inside the other party's property, a scenario that would make the property owner liable for their injuries. This is especially damning if the case can be made that the floor had been wet for a significant amount of time without proper signage to indicate its wetness, too.

Slipping and Falling on the Sidewalk

Slipping and falling due to wet floors inside a business usually means the business owner is responsible for your injuries, but what about the sidewalk outside the business. In short, it depends. In a city setting where the sidewalk is public property, a business owner who owns or rents the space next to a stretch of sidewalk would likely not be liable for injuries pedestrians sustain by slipping and falling outside their store. However, someone who owns a business on their own private property may take on liability for a similar scenario as the pedestrian would have slipped on private property. In this situation, signage similar to a wet floor sign warning those outside is typically a good idea to limit liability.

The law is a tricky thing with few clear cut answers. Slip and fall injuries are no different in this regard with a multitude of scenarios that may or may not make one party responsible for the injuries another sustains. The three examples outlined here are a good illustration of this and a warning to be aware of the liabilities inherent in everyday life. For more legal information and representation in personal injury cases, contact the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman today.


Three Questions You May Have About Spinal Cord Injuries

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Being the victim of a car accident is a traumatic experience. For some people, unfortunately, the after effects of the injuries they suffer in a car accident are even more devastating. If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury as the result of a car accident, you may have several questions.

What Are Some of the Signs of a Spinal Cord Injury?

There are an assortment of signs of a spinal cord injury. They include problems walking, inability to move your arms or legs, and increasing numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.  Along with that, the person's head might be positioned in an unnatural position. The person may also be unconscious or have a headache. Pain, pressure, or stiffness in the back or neck are also signs of a potential spinal cord injury. Loss of sensation, including the inability to feel heat or cold or exaggerated muscle spasms are also signs that the person may have a spinal cord injury.

Even if the injury initially seems minor, if it involves the head, neck, or back, especially if the person exhibits any of the above symptoms, do not move the injured person. Call 911, and wait for qualified emergency personnel to show up to safely move the person.

Is It Permanent?

Only time and a qualified medical professional can tell you for sure. While it is rare, some people do make a full recovery from a spinal cord injury. The worse the spinal cord injury, the less likely the person will fully recover. At the most basic level, spinal cord injuries can be divided into complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury is one in which the person suffers a total loss of motor and sensory function below the site of the injury.  With an incomplete spinal cord injury, there is some function below the primary place of the spinal cord injury. The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) has created a scale to grade spinal cord injuries from A to E, with A being the most severe.

  • ASIA A- complete spinal cord injury, no sensory or motor function below the place of the injury.
  • ASIA B- some sensory function below the site of the injury, but complete motor function loss below the injured area.
  • ASIA C- some movement below the site of the injury but less than half the muscle groups are anti-gravity, meaning that less than half of them can lift against the force of gravity with full range of motion.
  • ASIA D- more than half of the muscle groups can lift against the force of gravity.
  • ASIA E- muscle movement normal.

This means that someone with an ASIA D or E spinal cord injury is more likely to at least regain the use of most of their muscle groups than someone who has an ASIA A or B spinal cord injury. Your doctor can likely tell you where your spinal cord injury falls and can help you create a recovery plan that is best for you. If you're feeling impatient, it is important to remember that recovery from a spinal cord injury takes time.  

What Are Some of the Lasting Complications?

There are several complications associated with spinal cord injuries. Along with muscle movement and potential paralysis, your injury may affect systems in your body, including the circulatory and respiratory systems. You may also experience bladder and bowel control issues. Muscle spasms, pain, and depression are other potential complications of a spinal cord injury. It is best to talk to your doctor about your risk of these complications as well as other complications associated with a spinal cord injury.

If you were injured in an auto accident resulting in a spinal cord injury, contact us. At Freeman & Freeman, we are dedicated to helping you receive the compensation that you deserve.  


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. 

Does Concussion Recovery Time Affect Brain Injury Lawsuit Settlements?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

For many, concussions seem like a relatively minor injury and something to be expected after an accident. However, while concussions can have very minor symptoms, they can manifest very major damage to your brain. Some who suffer a concussion as the result of an accident have brain damage that they never fully recover from, and they should be getting compensation as such.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is the result of blunt force to the head or severe shaking of the head, either of which causes the brain to essentially bash into the side of your skull and damage the soft tissue. Symptoms can be mild or severe, but can often be confused with other ailments, which can make those who suffer from a concussion slow to get help. Concussion can often be confused with simple anxiety from just being in an accident, but it is important to seek help if you have even on symptom. The symptoms of concussions include:

  • Headache

  • Loss of balance

  • Tinnitus, or ringing of the ears

  • Memory loss

  • Unconsciousness

  • Nausea

  • Slurred speech

  • Seizures

Those are just the immediate symptoms of a concussion. Longer term symptoms can manifest including issues like blurred vision, psychological disorders, light and noise sensitivity, and altered taste or smell.

For some, concussion symptoms last for a few days. Others will suffer for months or years from a severe concussion. However, what many don't realize is the time it takes to recover from a concussion that was the result of an accident can affect the lawsuit settlement they can receive.

How Concussion Recovery Time Affects Your Settlement

When it comes to accident settlements for concussions, you will be entitled to the standard damages for injuries. You can pursue damages for pain and suffering from the accident as well as the physical and mental impairment caused by the concussion.

If you suffered from concussion symptoms for more than a few days, you may also be entitled for your settlement to include compensation for a reduced quality of life. Long term symptoms of concussions can be very disruptive to a normal life, and the longer they last, the more you may get.

If you had a serious concussion, you will also want to keep good track of your medical bills. A big problem with brain injuries, aside from the unpredictable and permanent damage they can cause, is they can be very expensive to diagnose. If your concussion has serious symptoms, the MRIs, CTs, and all the other neurological testing you had to endure will be covered by an accident settlement.

In the same vein as tracking your medical expenses, if you have even the most minor symptoms of a concussion after an accident, you will want to seek medical help as soon as possible. The longer you wait to have a concussion diagnosed and treated can have an effect on your settlement amount. Furthermore, it could be argued that your lack of medical attention made the concussion worse than it needed to be, which in turn limits the amount you are entitled to.

Need Help?

Have you suffered a concussion or any other traumatic brain injury as a result of an accident? These injuries, while difficult to diagnose, are treated very seriously. They can cause long-lasting damage and disruption to your life. If you have suffered a concussion and want to discuss your legal options to get coverage for your expensive medical bills, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman is dedicated to helping those injured in unexpected accidents get the compensation that they are entitled to.

Lyft Liability – Collecting Damages After a Rideshare Accident

Friday, September 11, 2020

Ridesharing has become an essential part of life in Los Angeles, although the COVID-19 emergency has reduced the market somewhat. Nonetheless, when the restrictions ease and cities reopen again, ridesharing will undoubtedly rebound with new drivers. The same issues remain: questions of safety and liability in cases of accident.

Liability Insurance Then and Now

When Lyft first began offering ridesharing services, drivers supplied their own liability insurance, and most drivers carried no more than the minimum required for their state. Basic uninsured motorist insurance turned out to be inadequate for serious accidents, and there were questions as to Lyft's liability for their drivers.

Initially, Lyft disclaimed responsibility, but today, they offer third-party liability coverage up to $1 million dollars, which provides a resource for the passenger in cases of an accident. By doing so, Lyft bypasses questions of vicarious liability, as they technically have not "hired" their drivers, who remain independent contractors with the service.

Convoluted Claims and Restricted Requirements

Lyft's insurance does not make it easy for a passenger to file a claim in the case of an accident. Certain "contingencies" must be met, and the passenger will need to prove them as the claimant. This is when a knowledgeable attorney is essential.

  • The driver must have personal coverage and a rideshare endorsement. The coverage must be proper commercial coverage or a waiver of the "business use exception" that allows the insurer to deny coverage if the vehicle is being used for profit.
  • If the Lyft driver is at-fault in the accident, a claim must be filed with the driver's insurer first. If the claim is denied, or lacks sufficient coverage, then Lyft's third-party coverage will kick in.
  • Lyft also carries a $1 million uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which only applies if the Lyft driver is at fault and the other motorist is uninsured or unknown.

Some states, such as California, are comparative fault states. This means that drivers can share the fault and the liability for an accident. If the other driver is at fault in the accident, the Lyft driver can still bear some of the responsibility. If the Lyft driver is not at fault, then any claim would have to be filed with the other driver's insurance company.

When Insurance is Not Enough

Even if the Lyft driver is fully at fault, has the proper insurance, and the claim is properly filed, there may not be enough money in the insurance pot to cover all the claim. The driver will have his or her own claim, and any other passenger or drivers involved in the accident will have filed claims as well. Insurance amounts are split among claimants; sometimes there is not enough to go around.

In that case, a claim may need to be laid against Lyft itself. Proving Lyft's liability is extremely difficult, because Lyft does not hire their drivers, but insists they are independent contractors. As such, Lyft may not be responsible for their drivers' actions or other liabilities.

Still, some cases have been successfully brought against Lyft and sister company Uber, based on the companies' knowledge of certain drivers' poor driving records or criminal backgrounds. If a claimant can show that Lyft reasonably should have known the driver involved in the accident was at risk, had excessive tickets or previous accidents, or other habitually poor driving behavior.

Filing a Personal Injury Case

Bringing a personal injury case against a ridesharing company like Lyft is difficult, because of the restrictions Lyft places on filing. A claimant must exhaust all other potential claims before attempting to file against Lyft's third-party insurance. Because of this, a skilled attorney is highly recommended. Contact our firm today to see if you have a good claim against Lyft or their driver.



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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.