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Personal Injury Blog

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.


burn injury burn injury

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.


über or Lyft rideshare accident rideshare accident

10 Steps to Handle an Out-of-State Uber or Lyft Accident - Pt 2

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Welcome back to the second half of this two-part article on Uber and Lyft accident aftermath. Last time, we covered what to do in the vehicle right after the accident. Along with taking care of medical needs and contacting the police to help clean up. Join us again today as we pick up where we left off. 

The Usual Accident Aftermath - Cont.


Collect Evidence & Witnesses

If you can, gather contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident. When combined with GPS and cellphone data, often witnesses are the best way to clarify exactly what happened on the road for legal and insurance purposes later on. Having contact with your witnesses allows you to get in touch later and take advantage of their third-party knowledge of the scene.

Get Safely to Your Hotel

Once the accident is cleaned up, please get yourself safely to your hotel. Don't let shakiness or stress after the accident put you in greater danger. Call another ride or take public transport to get somewhere you can shower and sleep off the incident. This way, you can plan your next steps from the comfort and safety of a hotel room.

Criminal or Civil Court Cases

The most difficult part of an out-of-state accident is dealing with court dates. If there is a criminal case brought up by the DA of the accident state, you may be called upon as a witness to speak for or against the charged driver. And if you choose to raise a civil case, you will likely need to file it in the county where the accident happened, not in your local court.

Court Occurs in the State of the Accident

It's important to understand that where the accident happens influences which court presides over cases. Both civil and criminal cases will be presided over by a local judge, and the local traffic laws will be what determines the outcome.

Research the Relevant Laws of the Accident State

To this end, you'll want to be aware of any relevant laws that are different from Minnesota standards. The statute of limitations for a personal injury case, for example, or different statutes for safe driving laws. Do a little personal research and confer with an experienced lawyer to find out what you need to know about a court in another state.

Work With an Experienced Lawyer

Speaking of legal counsel; you may need some. Now is the time to get in touch with an experienced rideshare accident lawyer who can help you handle the aftermath of out-of-state Uber or Lyft accident. Speak about the details of your case and then discuss your options for insurance claims and civil suits.

Be Prepared for Out-of-State Court Dates

Finally, be prepared to do a little extra traveling. Working with your lawyer and the court, you may be able to get a few remote participation accommodations. But eventually, there's a good chance you'll need to be personally present in the courtroom despite the fact that you live out of state. Be prepared for this. Know where the presiding courthouse is, find an affordable hotel nearby, and work with the court to lock down a workable set of dates for you to be available. Your lawyer can help you hammer out a plan that doesn't take you away from work for too long.

 

Dealing with Uber or Lyft

Other than legal proceedings, you may also need to deal with the rideshare company involved. Whether you were working with Uber, Lyft, or a local contemporary, it's important to keep on top of the situation because theirs is the insurance that may need to pay for your injuries. And like all insurance, claims can be denied for. Be prepared to work with a lawyer to define and defend your claim on Uber or Lyft's million-dollar-policy for incidents such as yours.

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If you or someone you know has recently been in an Uber or Lyft accident, especially if it was out of state, you will need legal assistance to navigate the future ahead. Always make sure that your injuries and the medical needs of others are taken care of first. Then consider the legal, logistical, and financial impacts of the situation. For more personalized advice on your unique situation, please contact our office today. Our legal staff is ready to help.


Emergency doctor putting a cervical collar to a patient in the ambulance Emergency doctor putting a cervical collar to a patient in the ambulance

How to Handle an Out-of-State Uber or Lyft Accident - Pt 1

Friday, September 20, 2019

Taking an Uber or Lyft ride should be easy, but Car accidents are devastating no matter what state they occur in. But an accident in your own state close to home is much easier to deal with than one that occurs outside the laws and customs you're used to. Especially if you're in an unfamiliar Uber or Lift at the time of the accident.

Experiencing an accident out of state, you'll need to tread carefully both to navigate the accident aftermath and to deal with legal concerns of getting involved in the inevitable insurance battle ahead. Not to mention, of course, making sure you get full treatment for any injuries you may have suffered. If you've been involved in an Uber or Lyft accident, be sure to take care of yourself and seek help when necessary.

A Passenger in the Aftermath

As an Uber or Lyft passenger outside your home state, it can feel like your options are severely limited, but they aren't. If you are uninjured and able, it's best to take charge of your situation and handle the aftermath as sanely and effectively as possible. Or at least make sure that someone else is on that job already.

Stay At the Scene

Do not let your Uber driver leave the scene and do not call another ride until you have spoken to the police. It is necessary to stay at the scene and make a report in every state. You also need to remain in control of the situation.

Unlike a car accident without rideshare, it's important to take a few extra steps or precautions during the aftermath. 

End the Ride

Do not let your "meter run" during the aftermath of an accident. Instead of trying to cancel the ride, simply 'end' it through the app. Mark it as complete. Most likely, you will get a refund from Uber or Lyft after you report the incident. 

 

Report the Incident

In the app, leave a comment about your ride mentioning the crash. Then, through the 'Help' section, go through the correct channels to report the accident to the corporate office. You may have time to do this while you wait for the cops and paramedics to arrive.

Uber and Lyft Insurance

The Million-Dollar-Policy is not a myth. Both Uber and Lyft have insurance policies that will cover your injuries and other collateral damage if you are involved in a rideshare accident. But, like all insurance claims, you may need assistance getting the settlement you need.

 

The Usual Accident Aftermath

After two cars collide in the US, the is almost always the same. The police must be notified, injuries must be treated, and the scene must be cleaned up so that normal traffic flow can resume. This doesn't change when one car is an Uber or Lyft vehicle on the job. You are a key witness to the accident and may also need immediate medical assistance. Many people don't realize how badly they are hurt right after a car accident, and the police will want to speak to you about the events immediately leading up to the accident.

Call the Police

First, whoever is most capable should call the police. Even if you're late for something. Even if your Uber driver wants to leave the scene to finish  Give no spin or detailed story to how the accident happened, that's up for the police and insurance companies to determine on their own. Instead, focus on the severity of the crash, whether anyone is hurt, and whether traffic is being blocked. The police will arrive shortly on the scene to provide assistance.

Once the police arrive, you can ask them about any legal details you need to be concerned about as an out-of-state Minnesotan. The police should be able to give you a few out-of-state pointers.

Address Medical Needs

Next, make sure that everyone who was in the Uber or Lyft accident is looked at by a doctor. Take care of your own injuries and those of your companions and driver first. Then, if you can, investigate to see of others near the crash need help. Get yourself checked out even if you feel completely fine and uninjured. Often, car accident internal injuries may not show symptoms until a few hours or days later. Including whiplash, which is a real condition that occurs when a person's velocity changes suddenly as in a car accident.

 

Take Away

Being in an Uber or Lyft accident can be scary, especially if you're out of state. Remember to take care of yourself and your companions as your first priority. Then the police, and finally Uber or Lyft. Join us next time for the second half of this article and further aftermath tips. Contact us today for a consultation on your Uber or Lyft 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.