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Personal Injury Blog

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. 


Motorcycle Accidents Caused By Road Defects

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Most motorcycle accidents typically involve two drivers or at least the ones that turn into litigation. Do to someone's negligence, a crash occurs and the party not at fault will seek compensation for their injuries. It isn't a simple matter by any stretch, but it can be done. However, where motorcycle accidents and compensation get more complicated is when the accident wasn't caused by another driver, but by the road itself.

Every motorcyclist has driven on some spectacularly bad roads before. However, every time you take that bike out onto a bad road, you are taking a pretty big risk. When a car drives over something like loose gravel or a pothole, it doesn't really affect them. However, if a motorcyclist hits a pothole or loose gravel in the wrong way, it means a pretty bad accident.

Roadway hazards include:

  • Rough Seams – Roads are constructed so that there is typically a seam in the middle as they only typically do one side at a time. When the road is finished, however, that seam should be minimal. That is unfortunately not always the case. If you hit this uneven seam while doing something like passing another vehicle, it could be dangerous.

  • Gravel – Gravel road will always be difficult for bikers. Even just loose gravel on paved roads can be an issue. Essentially they can cause the front wheels of a motorcycle to slide out.

  • Railroad Crossings – The reason railroad crossings are required to be properly marked is not only to watch for trains but so drivers can take proper care while crossing them. They are rough to cars but even rougher on motorcycles.

  • Bad Design – We have all rode on roads that were a little iffy. Maybe there was a blind corner or a particularly tight curve without a guard rail. These are dangerous and should be dealt with by the governing entity before someone gets hurt.

Getting Compensation For Motorcycle Accidents Caused By Road Defects

The obvious difficulty when looking to recover compensation from a motorcycle accident caused by any kind of road defect is that there is often not one person responsible. Instead of going after another driver as you would with other accident cases, you instead need to seek compensation for the state or city that is responsible for maintaining that roadway

As you would expect, the city or state will try very hard to get out of paying you for an accident they caused by likely not wanting to spend any money maintaining that particular road. Many will try to insist that it was your fault for one reason or another. This is why it is crucial that if you need to file a claim against a government, something that is vastly more complicated than the normally complicated personal injury cases, that you hire a knowledgeable attorney. You can trust that the government entity will bring in their best lawyers to save themselves both money and reputation, so you need a lawyer to evaluate the success rate of your case and make sure you get that compensation that you need.

Need Help?

Were you a victim of a motorcycle accident that is fully to blame on a road defect that should have been fixed? You have a difficult case ahead of you, but it is not impossible. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can do to help you recover compensation from the government that was responsible for maintaining that road. Just because another vehicle wasn't involved doesn't mean you can't recover damages from your motorcycle accident if the road itself was to blame.


Motorcycle Accidents: Can an Injured Motorcyclist Without Helmet Recover Personal Injury Damages?

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer

Helmet laws have been controversial for decades, with states yo-yo-ing between having them, not having them, and having some version. Motorcyclists enjoy the wind in their hair with the freedom of the road stretching out ahead of them and decry the need for helmets. This is fine in Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire - and 28 other states if you're at least 21 years of age - but 19 states have a universal helmet law which requires all riders to wear a helmet. This safety measure is based upon crystal clear statistics that show head injuries are the primary cause of fatality in motorcycle accidents. In fact, statistics show that wearing a helmet prevents brain injury in 67% of motorcycle accidents and is 37% effective in mortality prevention. That aside, do the helmet laws of your state affect your rights with regards to personal injury recovery? In a word, yes. 

State Laws

Each state dictates the laws governing insurance rates and coverage. Three primary considerations in an accident include:

  • Whether your state is an at-fault or no-fault state
  • Whether your state has a helmet law
  • Your level of negligence in the accident

In a no-fault state each driver pays their own damages regardless of who caused the accident, with important exceptions: if your personal injury exceeds Personal Injury Protection coverage, and/or you are permanently injured, you are entitled to sue the at-fault driver.

If the state also has a helmet law, your insurance carrier will pay your claim up to your personal injury limits, then either drop your coverage or raise your future rates. A rider without a helmet is a high-risk rider for any insurance company, given the likelihood of significant head and brain injury and the attendant elevated medical costs, incurred in a motorcycle accident. (The exceptions still apply but defending your claim is harder). 

In an at-fault (tort law) state without a helmet law, the negligent driver has to pay damages - once their negligence is proven. Where it gets complex is in an at-fault state with a helmet law, such as California.

Contributory or Comparative Negligence

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident in an at-fault state with a helmet law, and you weren't wearing a helmet, you suddenly have a degree of negligence in the accident. This means that you caused some or all of your own head injuries when you broke the helmet law. The other driver's insurance company and/or attorney can certainly claim this. Five states in the U.S. can defend against your personal injury claim through "injured party's contributory negligence": Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. In these states you may not recover any damages if you weren't wearing a helmet in the accident.

California has a comparative fault law which allows juries to determine a percentage of injuries caused by your own negligence, to reduce your personal injury damages; that is, they argue that a certain percentage of your injuries could have been prevented by wearing a helmet. For example, if 40% of your injuries are head injuries that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet, the court reduces your personal injury damages by 40%. In some states, the court will deny your claim if the other driver's lawyer can prove that your "comparative negligence" was 50% or greater.

Whatever your situation, your best chance of damage recovery lies in hiring a personal injury lawyer who understands insurance and state laws. You don't need the headache and stress of dealing with the other driver's insurance company and legal team while you're recovering from perhaps life-altering injuries. If you live in the Los Angeles area, please feel free to contact us at Freeman & Freeman, LLP or call 818-992-2919 and let our experts handle your claim.

 


Motorcycle Accidents Without a Motorcycle License

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers

Once you get that standard driver's license that many people get as teenagers, you can hop into most cars and be able to drive with a valid license. However, it doesn't work the same for motorcycles. You need a special motorcycle license to legally ride on the road. While the licensing type and timeline varies from state to state, they all share this in common. However, while you should have a license while riding a motorcycle, not everyone does.

Sometimes motorcycle driver's hit the road without a license for one reason or another. Yet, if they get into a crash, they believe that not having a license bars them from any legal action, but that isn't true. It is important to remember that even if you don't have a motorcycle license, you can still get coverage for a motorcycle accident if it was the result of the negligence of another.

Proving Fault

If you were in a motorcycle accident without a license, the smart money is on the insurance of the other driver blaming you for the accident because you do not have a motorcycle license. However, with the help of a lawyer, you can completely negate this if the other driver was indeed to blame. Fault in a motorcycle accident can be laid by proving the other driver was doing something they should not have been. These incidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light
  • Driving under the influence
  • Following too closely

However, no one will just take your word for it. You need to be able to prove that the other driver was at fault. If you cannot, then you may, in fact, be barred from compensation. In order to prove fault, consider collecting evidence via the following:

  • Photographs of the scene
  • Police reports of the accident
  • Witness testimony from the accident scene
  • Blood alcohol content results from the driver

By being able to prove fault, you can still get compensation for your injuries and the damages to your vehicle.

Penalties for Driving a Motorcycle Without a License

While you will not be barred from compensation if the accident was not your fault even if you did not have a license, you will not get off without punishment. You will still get the accident covered with the right lawyer, but they should also help to prepare you for legal action. When in an accident without a motorcycle license, the police pretty much have no choice but to charge you. In California, this is a misdemeanor level crime, meaning penalties range from a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail. It is also likely that the police will confiscate your motorcycle until you receive the appropriate license.

The unfortunate thing about this potential legal action is that it is particularly difficult to defend against. Prosecutors need to only prove you didn't have a license and that you were on an official roadway to get a conviction for driving without a license. However, the right lawyer can help to limit the punishments you receive from this.

If you have been in a motorcycle accident of any kind, whether you had a license or not, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman and Freeman is no stranger to serious motorcycle accidents and we know how to fight to get you the compensation you deserve for injuries that are so often more serious than standard auto accidents. Just because you didn't have a license or might have had some fault in the accident doesn't mean you don't deserve compensation for your damages. So let us help you fight the good legal fight.


Motorcycle Accidents: The Importance of Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Thursday, April 12, 2018

After being injured in a motorcycle accident, it is easy to become overwhelmed by everything you need to take care of such as going to doctors appointments and meeting with your insurance company. However, you do not want to make the mistake of attempting to go through this difficult time alone. An attorney can help to walk you through this oftentimes confusing process, and they will make sure that someone is looking out for your best interests during this difficult time. If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a motorcycle accident, here are just a few of the reasons you should consider consulting a personal injury attorney.

An Attorney Can Walk You Through The Legal Process

As we previously stated, filing a personal injury claim can be an extremely complex process. There will be various legal documents that you will have to file, forms that will have to be filled out properly, and all of this often has to be completed within a set period of time after your accident. The fact is that unless you have legal knowledge you will likely find yourself drowning in complex legal documents and terminology you don't understand. However, an experienced lawyer can help to walk you through this process and explain to you what is happening and what you are signing at each step of the way. They will also shoulder much of the burden by completing and filing the paperwork for you, ensuring that you have enough free time to focus on your recovery.

Get Help Establishing Fault

Unfortunately, more often than not a driver will not admit their fault in an accident. This means that it will be up to you to establish proof that the accident wasn't your fault, and that you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. This is where having an experienced lawyer on your side can be particularly critical, as they will have first-hand experience furnishing proof in cases similar to yours, and they will have experience working to get their clients the compensation they deserve. With a personal injury attorney working for you, you will have the best shot of proving the other driver's fault.

Have Someone Looking Out for Your Interests

Hiring a personal injury attorney is the only way to ensure that you have someone looking out for your interests during this difficult time. People often make the mistake of assuming that they do not need an attorney as their insurance company will watch their back; however, this is a misconception. The fact is that insurance companies are generally looking to close a claim as quickly and painlessly as possible. They are then often focused on looking out for their own best interest, and what is in the interest of their own pocketbooks, rather than on ensuring that you are being taken care of. By hiring an attorney, you will have someone looking out for you who will make sure that you are being treated fairly, and that you are properly represented, during this difficult time.

Benefit From Expert Knowledge

If you do not consult a personal injury attorney, you may also be leaving yourself open to being taken advantage of. The fact is that you likely do not know the full extent of what your injuries are worth. Thusly, without an attorney, you may agree to a settlement that is much lower than what you deserve. A personal injury attorney will have a great deal of experience assessing claims similar to yours, and they will be able to make sure you are properly compensated for your injuries, any time off of work, and your medical expenses.

Contact us to learn more about why you should consult a personal injury attorney after being injured in a motorcycle accident.


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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.