Q:

What Are Pedestrian Accidents?

A:

When most people think of pedestrian accidents, their minds jump straight to someone being hit by a car. But really, pedestrian accidents take many forms. For instance, pedestrian accidents may happen without a car being involved at all — they can be a result of many factors, such as poor sidewalk maintenance, unsafe parking lot conditions, and construction-related issues.

Crosswalk Safety

There are two types of crosswalks: marked and unmarked.  An unmarked crosswalk is one that extends basically from the sidewalk and curb lines across certain intersections, without painted lines.  A marked crosswalk is one where there are lines painted on the roadway surface at an intersection.  It is legal to cross the street in either type of crosswalk, so long as the pedestrian has the right of way.  Pedestrians in an unmarked crosswalk, although crossing legally, run a greater risk of injury or death.  Without painted lines to attract their attention, drivers are likely not aware when they drive through an unmarked crosswalk.

Pedestrian Accident Liability Issues

When a driver strikes a pedestrian, many liability issues arise.  If the driver had the right of way then generally the pedestrian will be found at fault.  But, if the driver is not paying close attention, they have responsibility.  For example, even where a pedestrian is crossing outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk, drivers have an obligation to scan the roadway.  When a pedestrian can be seen in the roadway for some distance, drivers should perceive the danger and react.  Failing to perceive and react to a pedestrian can lead to a fatal pedestrian accident, like the one above.

Investigating Pedestrian Accidents

After a pedestrian accident, determining fault can be difficult.  The driver’s attention, the pedestrian’s action and the roadway configuration all come into play.  If the driver is not paying attention and should have seen the pedestrian from 100 feet away, they have some fault.  If the pedestrian darts off a curb, they have the fault.  On occasion, because of sight obstructions (such as a significant curve or rise in the roadway) the government is to blame.  Analyzing pedestrian accidents involves careful reconstruction and expertise.

Q:

What Happens After a Fatal Freeway Accident?

A:

After a fatal freeway accident, the responsible police agency will conduct an investigation which will include taking witness statements, photographs and measurements.  That information will be used to reconstruct the accident and determine fault.  When such an event, there are likely to be both criminal responsibility and civil justice for the victim and their family.  The only way to obtain compensation for the family is by pursuing a claim and a lawsuit, if necessary.  There are certain rules and limitations of this type of wrongful death case, and they should be discussed with an experienced attorney.

Q:

What Do I Need to Know About Medical Malpractice?

A:

Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Every day, medical professionals make mistakes that cause serious injury or even cost lives. Learn about the most common forms of medical malpractice and what your legal options are if you or a loved one were injured through medical malpractice:

Prescription Medication Errors

Prescription medication errors happen often, despite the many fail-safes in place to ensure that mistakes don’t happen. Whether the doctor miswrote the prescription or the pharmacy filled the prescription in error, medication errors can be devastating. A patient may take too much of the wrong kind of medication or may experience serious side effects that require hospitalization.

Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis

A common type of medical malpractice is the failure to diagnose a patient, or the misdiagnosis of a patient. Life-threatening medical conditions that are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed can result in critical injury or even death.

Surgical Errors

When people hear the term “medical malpractice,” they envision cases where a surgical instrument was left inside a body cavity. This does happen and can cause great trauma to the victim, but other surgical errors can be just as detrimental. A surgeon who operates on the wrong side of the body or performs the wrong type of surgery can cause significant damages.

Childbirth Errors

Childbirth is an exciting time, but it’s also a time where medical professionals must pay close attention to the health of both mother and baby. Failure to act quickly in some situations may result in harm to either the mother or child. Common birth injuries include lack of oxygen due and physical injuries to the baby, such as shoulder dystocia.

Q:

Can I Bring a Claim Against a Restaurant or Bar if a Patron Assaults Me?

A:

The short answer is "yes", so long as you have evidence that the business owner was somehow negligent in preventing the assault and your injuries.  Under California law, a business proprietor such as the operator of a bar or restaurant has a duty to keep their customers reasonably safe from assaults occurring on or just off of their property. If a business employee knows or reasonably should know that an attack is about to occur or that they need more security then the business can be held liable if they fail to act. 

Q:

Can I Bring a Claim For Tripping On An Uneven Sidewalk?

A:

If you trip and fall over raised concrete on a sidewalk (or some other danger) you may be able to bring a claim against the party or parties responsible for maintaining the sidewalk, often the city or county where the sidewalk is located.  Such claims require proof that the uneven surface presented a "dangerous condition" of public property and not a "trivial defect".  A host of factors go into making that determination, not the least of which is the height of the defect.  The higher the defect and/or the more hidden the danger the better your chances are of obtaining a recovery.  It should be remembered that public claims such as this generally require that a written claim be presented to the public entity within 6 months of the accident.

Q:

Can An Insurance Company Close My Claim File?

A:

Many insurance companies will inform injured parties that if they do not provide certain documents or a recorded statement within a limited period of time they will "close" thier claim file.  This, of course, implies that the closure will preclude the injured party from any compensation, and nothing could be further from the truth.  While you have a duty of cooperation with your own insurance company (with certain limitations), an adverse carrier cannot prevent you from pursuing a claim for an alleged lack of cooperation.  So long as you do not allow your statute of limitations to expire on the filing of a lawsuit, there is nothing an insurer can do to prevent you from making or continuing a claim for the injuries and damages you sustained.  If you hear this file closure nonsense from a carrier, you should contact a lawyer immediately for advice.

Q:

Is a Dog Owner Automatically Liable If Their Dog Bites Someone?

A:

The short answer is "yes."  Under California law, a dog owner is strictly (automatically) liable for bite injuries.  This is true regardles of whether the dog had ever bitten anyone before or exhibited any aggressive behavior in the past.  There are defenses to this legal doctrine (such as when the victim provokes the dog), but they are rarely successful.  Perhaps the most important issue in dog bite cases is whether the owner has insurance to cover the losses.

Q:

Can I Bring An Injury Claim Even If I Share Some of The Blame?

A:

Even if you could have been more careful at the time of an accident, California law allows you to pursue an injury claim.  This issue often arises in slip and trip and fall claims.  Some people believe that if the tripping hazard was visible (even though they didn't see it) they cannot pursue a claim.  This is simply not true as California is a "pure" comparative law state.  What that means is that an injured party is entitled to compensation regardless of whether they could have been more careful.  In these situations the compensation may be discounted for the injured party's own neglect. For example, if a jury decides that a property owner is 80% at fault and the injured party 20% responsible for a fall then the injured party will receive 80% of the full value of their injury claim.  Only a few states in this country discount such claims altogether as this leads to truly unfair results.