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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.  


Do I Need To Hire A Personal Injury Attorney? 6 Tips

Thursday, March 12, 2020

In case you find yourself wondering: do I need to hire a personal injury attorney? Keep in mind these six things.

Which types of accidents need a personal injury attorney?

Some of the more common injury cases are:

  • Common carrier accidents (car, bus, train, boat accidents, and plane); Workplace injuries;
  • Wrongful death; Slip and fall injuries; Injury from defective products; Asbestos poisoning; 
  • Nursing home neglect; Medical malpractice; and burns. 

When it comes to pre-trial settlement, many times people rely on insurance companies. Remember, the insurance company defending the negligent person wants to settle claims for the lowest possible amount. That's not in the injured person's best interest. 

Some people may choose to fight to recover the costs of their injuries through compensation for medical bills, pain, emotional distress, property damage, and lost wages. The injured person becomes the plaintiff in the case against the person responsible, the defendant.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a special type of negligence. We entrust our lives to medical professionals and, in return, we hold them to a high standard of care. When a medical provider fails that standard of care, the patient suffers severe injuries, pain, and even death.

Below is a partial list of possible causes of medical malpractice injuries:

  • a misdiagnosis,
  • a surgical error,
  • prescribing/dispensing the wrong medication,
  • inadequate training of health care personnel. 

Medical malpractice cases are complicated. They require a lawyer skilled in working with medical experts. The lawyer must know how to analyze intricate medical records that contain the proof of a defendant's negligence. A personal injury attorney experienced in malpractice cases is essential. 

What type of legal action addresses personal injury?

Some cases are criminal in nature; others are civil actions.

Personal injury cases are civil actions. A jury decides whether the defendant is at-fault and, if so, how much financial compensation to award the plaintiff. 

Criminal cases are those brought by the state or federal prosecutor against an individual charged with a breach of the public laws. In criminal cases, the judge or jury will decide the person's guilt or innocence. The answer may result in jail time.

Do I have a certain amount of time to file a personal injury case?

Each state has laws restricting the amount of time allowed to file lawsuits. The law calls such provisions "statutes of limitations". Once the applicable state's statute of limitations' threshold passes, the plaintiff cannot file a lawsuit. 

Suppose you were injured in a car accident and want to sue in California against the person causing the injury. You have to file the case against the defendant within two years after the date the injury occurred. If you did not discover the injury right away, then the time limit is one year after the date you discover the injury.

A plaintiff must file a medical malpractice case within the earlier of one year after he knew (or should have known) about the injury, or three years from the date of injury. 

What kind of remedies are available in California?

California's relief for personal injury victims comes in two types: economic and non-economic. Lawyers call them general and special damages, respectively. Special damages mean that the plaintiff has to specifically ask the court to award them or the court won't allow the award.

Economic damages are easy to determine. Jurors already know the price; it appears on receipts/bills. Medical bills are an example of economic damages.

Special (non-economic) damages include pain and suffering. Personal injury victims also may seek special damages for loss of earnings from time lost at the job as well as the loss of capacity to earn in the future. 

What do I do if sued?

Contact us immediately for a free consultation to discuss the case. Hiring the right personal injury attorney can make the difference between winning and losing. 

To talk more about this topic, please contact us. We want to help you protect your rights.

If you want to learn the latest wrinkle in personal injury cases, enjoy the benefitspro.com article from January 2020, entitled "Doctors forego the insurance in favor of personal injury law payouts."


What to Expect After a Burn Injury at Work

Thursday, October 17, 2019

What to Expect After a Burn Injury at Work

Burns are common among the types of injuries that occur in the workplace. Accidents involving fire or explosions often produce burns that range from minor to deadly. Chemical spills also account for many burns suffered at work. Individuals working in industries such as plants (especially chemical plants), welding and food service are prone to more burn injuries than other jobs. Learn what to do if you are burned at work and what legal options you have should a burn injury occur.

Types of Burns

Electrical

This burn occurs when you come into contact with an electric current. Any source of electricity can be culpable: these including facility wiring, power lines, lightning and stun guns. These burns occur as either a low voltage (under 500 volts) or high voltage (over 500 volts) event. Electrical burns generally cause more sub-dermal (tissue under the skin) harm than chemical or thermal burns.  

Chemical

You can obtain this type of burn when you come into direct contact with a chemical or its fumes. Strong acids or bases are usually responsible for these burns which range from mild to severe in nature. The face and extremities are the most likely locations for chemical burns.

Thermal

These burns are due to contact with high levels of heat as produced by such things as fire, heated objects, boiling water and other heated liquids. Common locations for these types of burn injuries are the fingers and hands. The burn is often superficial but can (in certain circumstances) be severe.  

Radiation 

The most common type of burn injury from radiation is a sunburn. It is also possible to suffer this type of burn from medical imaging procedures or from nuclear accidents. A radiation burn can range from minor to severe.

Degree of Burns 

First

Superficial burns concerning the outer layer of the skin. These burns are similar in severity to a minor sunburn that does not blister.

Second

These burns reach the dermis (underlayer) of the skin as well as the epidermis (outer layer). Signs of this degree are bright redness, shiny appearance, and swelling. Touching a second-degree burn will produce a moderate amount of pain. Scarring may occur depending on the severity of a second-degree burn.

Third

A burn that obliterates two full skin layers. Rather than a typical red-colored burn, the injury might appear white, black, brown or possibly yellow. Third-degree burns are not as painful as the nerve endings in the skin are destroyed.

Fourth

This degree of burn decimates both layers of skin and damages muscle and ligaments lying underneath the area. 

Fifth

Fifth-degree burns penetrate through two layers of skin and underlying muscle and proceed to damage the bone.

Sixth

This is the most severe degree of burn, which destroys skin, muscle, ligaments and chars bones. Fatalities sometimes occur from sixth-degree burns.

Complications

Prior to Healing:

  • Infection
  • Loss of fluids
  • Lowered body temperature

After Healing:

  • Scars
  • Joint and/or bone issues
  • Mental and/or Emotional Effects

Workman's Compensation

Get medical attention as soon as you can following a burn even if it appears minor. Alert your supervisor to the incident and follow your company's health and safety protocol to the best of your ability. You are entitled to workman's compensation when you experience a burn injury. This compensation typically pays all medical and therapy expenses and pays approximately two-thirds of your pay while you are out of work recovering. Insurance companies sometimes delay or even deny workman's compensation claims for various reasons, so you should seek out a qualified worker compensation lawyer should you face obstacles in your particular circumstance 

Other Legal Claims

Typically, you cannot sue your employer for an accidental burn unless there is severe negligence. There are some situations, however, in which a burn injury is caused by a third party. You might have a legal claim against this party.. For example, you could have a case in which the manufacturer of a piece of defective equipment is at fault for your burn.  Other burn events could involve negligence on the part of a vendor, subcontractor or even a client.

Please contact us for help with your particular circumstances.


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Legal Help for Rideshare Accidents

Thursday, October 10, 2019

If your Uber or Lyft driver gets into an accident, under current procedures, everything is usually very straight forward.

The View of Minimal Trouble

An article in Fortune Magazine describes what happened from the viewpoint of a San Francisco Uber passenger when her Uber driver got into a significant fender-bender. In the wee hours of a weekday morning, a turn into a one-way street resulted in significant damage to the passenger door of another car. The Uber driver was shaken up by the incident and she reminded him that he had to pull over. The Uber driver assured his passenger that he would be able to drive her the rest of the way home, but she refused, saying that she would prefer to walk. She was sure that negotiations between the drivers would take considerable time. Corporate Uber called the passenger days later, was very apologetic and refunded the passenger's fare. The driver had correctly reported the accident to Uber. The payment to the car sustaining the damage was covered by the James River Insurance Company. 

Under a California statute that took effect in 2015, Uber and Lyft drivers must carry increased personal insurance while online to seek riders and even more coverage during the time of the trip itself (from acceptance of the ride to the drop off). There are gaps in the legal process if a passenger were to hail a ride and not using the Uber or Lyft app online. Under those conditions, the driver might not be covered under the increased insurance.

Beyond the Easy Cases.

The basics of handling accidents by Uber or Lyft drivers are straight forward. However, there are many situations where resolution may not be simple. Difficulties are going to get more complicated once, in the near future, Uber and Lyft begin employing self-driving vehicles. In Los Angeles and California, the law says that Uber or Lyft passengers are entitled to be fairly compensated for injuries after a ridesharing accident. Sorting out the fault and the compensation for parties in an Uber accident would be complicated. There are many possible classes of victims and potential causes of accidents. Either could be private vehicles, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, truck drivers, bystanders. All victims are entitled to fair compensation for their injuries. All causes of accidents have to be factored into the awards picture. An experienced  Uber accident attorney, Lyft accident attorney, or rideshare accident attorney will be able to fully analyze any accident using techniques like accident reconstruction and employing experts in accident safety. Thorough legal investigation and casework an experienced attorney may find hidden insurance benefits and find the best medical and rehabilitation services available.

Uber and Lyft drivers themselves may have very complicated insurance cases especially if the rideshare driver feels that an accident was caused by another party, but the passenger feels their driver is at partly or fully at fault. The legal situation can be complicated if the insurance company decides to point its fingers at anyone other than the person whom they insure. A skilled rideshare attorney with years of experience could be the only one who can sort out such a case.

Self-Driving RideShare.

We don't know exactly when self-driving cars will be introduced into the rideshare environment. The principles and practices of insuring Uber and Lyft passengers will become much more complicated then. In a given accident, the vehicle manufacturer, the writer of the software, or the makers of individual components of the complex system could be included in the distribution of blame. These factors may involve foreign entities or entities from other states with different laws. Insurance companies may begin to count on the fact that investigations would be too costly to pursue. It could be a lot more complicated to obtain just compensation for injuries.

Freeman & Freeman have successfully handled hundreds of Uber/Lyft cases since the inception of their services. These cases have become one of our largest specialties. Please contact us to learn more.


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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.