New Court of Appeal Case: Horseplay Around Pool an “Accident” Under Homeowners’ Insurance

On Friday, the California Court of Appeals denied State Farm Insurance’s Petition for Writ of Mandate seeking to have the trial court issue judgment in favor of the insurance company. At issue in the case, titled State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. Superior Court, was whether the trial court erred in ruling that State Farm owed a duty to defend its’ insured from a lawsuit for personal injuries where its’ insured threw the victim into a pool, landing on an exposed step.

An insurance company’s duty to defend it’s insured is extremely broad. It is broader than the duty to pay a covered loss. The duty to defend applies to any claim that could possibly involve a covered loss.

In this case, the insureds’ 21 year-old son, who lived with the insureds, argued with another young man, Mr. Wright, at a party. When Wright went outside, the son grabbed Wright and picked him up and threw him into the shallow end of the swimming pool. Wright landed on the pool’s concrete step which was above the water line. As a result of this action, Wright fractured his right clavicle and was hospitalized for four days. The son apologized immediately to Wright and claimed that he was just horse-playing.

The son was later arrested for the incident and pled nolo contender to misdemeanor battery.

Wright then sued the son seeking compensation for his injuries. The claim was tendered to the parents’ homeowners’ insurance policy with State Farm. The policy covered “damages because of bodily injury…caused by an occurrence” with an “occurrence” being defined as “an accident…which results in a. bodily injury; or b. property damage.”

State Farm denied a defense to the parents on several grounds, including:

The claim against you does not meet the insuring agreement in the policy, as the actions do not arise out of an accident. Also, the policy specifically excludes damages which are either expected or intended by the insured or the result of willful and malicious conduct.” In short, State Farm treated the son’s actions as a willful assault rather than mere horseplay.

The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling that State Farm acted improperly when they denied the parents with a defense to Wright’s claims. The Court found that under the stipulated facts, an “accident” did occur which would give rise to the duty to defend. The Court held that although the son intentionally picked up Wright and threw him at the pool, the son did not intend or expect the consequence (that Wright would land on a step). Therefore, the duty to defend existed because Wright’s injury was neither expected nor intended by the son, nor was it the result of a malicious act by the insured.

San Diego Motorcyclist Killed in Accident Identified

A Wednesday evening motorcycle crash in San Diego County’s El Cajon last week had left one man dead who had been traveling on his motorcycle. The rider was recently identified by the San Diego Union-Tribune as 37-year-old Lance Michael Hagerty. Hagerty had been killed when his motorcycle rear-ended a pickup truck as it was attempting to turn into a driveway about 5 p.m. in El Cajon on West Bradley Avenue near Wing Avenue, according to the county Medical Examiner’s Officer. Hagerty had lived and worked in El Cajon.

Hagerty was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision and was riding a newer-model sports bike, according to El Cajon police. He was taken to a hospital after the wreck, where he died. The westbound traffic on Bradley Avenue had been diverted for about five hours as investigators examiner the scene, police said. The driver of the pickup truck had not been hurt.

If you or anyone you know has ever been injured or killed in a San Diego motorcycle accident, please contact San Diego motorcycle wreck attorney and the San Diego personal injury lawyers.

Was Pitchman Billy Mays Killed by MTBI; Second Celebrity Head Injury Death After Natasha Richardson?

Did Billy Mays, the 50-year-old celebrity pitchman, die of a Minor Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) following a “hard” landing by a US Airways flight between Philadelphia and Tampa, Florida?

That is the question buzzing around the internet right now.

Mays had been flying home to Tampa after filming an OxiClean commercial in Philadelphia when the front tire of his US Airways flight exploded following the hard landing. Initially, no serious injuries were reported and Mays posted on his Twitter feed about the hard landing saying it was par for the course with US Airways. After the landing, objects fell from the ceiling, although it is unclear what those objects were, and hit Mays in the head.

After landing, Mays told a local news crew about the hit to his head:

“All of a sudden as we hit,” Mays said. “You know it was just the hardest hit. All the top…you know the things from the ceiling started dropping and it hit me on the head, but I got a hard head.”

Mays was found dead at his home the next day by his wife, Deborah. Reportedly, Mays did not feel well when he went to bed later that night. No other major health problems have been disclosed.

Escondido Woman Suffers Critical Injuries in Dangerous Roadway Accident

A 23-year-old Escondido woman was critically injured recently when the car in which she was riding careened off the road on Calavo Drive and into a swimming pool, according to a recent news report from NBC San Diego. The road, known to the locals as “Rollercoaster Road,” has been a source of concern for many years due to the dangers it poses to drivers.

The car involved in the Escondido Rollercoaster Road crash was traveling down Calavo Drive near Nordahl Road when it left the roadway, crashed through a fence, and wound up inside a neighbor’s swimming pool. The pool’s owners and their neighbors rushed out to the scene when they heard the crash and pulled the injured woman out of the vehicle. The driver, a 33-year-old man, managed to climb free of the vehicle and swim to safety. He is expected to recover fully from his injuries.

According to locals, the stretch of road where the accident occurred consists of sharp turns and drops that make local teens compare it to a roller coaster. At sufficient speeds, the wheels of a car or truck will actually leave the road at some points. Other serious accidents have occurred during the road’s layout, including one in 2008 that left a local resident in a wheelchair after a car lost control and hit him.

Car accidents aren’t always the fault of a negligent or careless driver. Roadways that feature sharp turns, bad pavement, or insufficient warnings or guardrails can turn a normal day’s drive into a tragedy. That’s why our skilled dangerous roadway accident lawyers are dedicated to helping injured people and their families get the compensation they need when road engineers have failed. For a free consultation, call us today.

Elder Pedestrian Killed In Victorville Hit-And-Run Crash

64-year-old Manuel Cadena was killed in a Victorville hit-and-run car accident that occurred on June 26, 2011, around 8:40 p.m. at Palmdale Road west of Borrego Road. According to San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office Officials, Cadena was crossing Highway 18 (SR-18), when a dark-colored SUV, possibly a green or black Toyota, fatally struck him.

The SUV driver turned right onto Borrego Road after hitting Cadena and left the scene. Officers responding to the accident immediately transported Cadena to Victor Valley Community Hospital in Victorville where he was pronounced dead a few hours later.

From the available information, it is evident that the negligent driving and irresponsible actions of the SUV driver lead to Cadena’s wrongful death. Leaving the accident scene is a serious violation under California law. California Vehicle Code 20001 (a) states:

“The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident.” Motorists are not only required to stop but also remain at the scene of the crash and wait until authorities get to the scene. In addition, if the driver stayed and aided the victim, Cadena may still be alive today.

There is a clear violation of traffic rules. Cadena’s family members should immediately seek counsel from a San Bernardino County pedestrian accident lawyer to know about their legal rights and options. An experienced lawyer would assure that the at-fault party is held liable and that the victim’s family members obtain timely and fair compensation to cover funeral and burial costs, loss of love and companionship, and other accident-related expenses.

Our law office offers sincere condolences to all those who knew and loved Cadena for such a tragic loss.

Kolcraft Recalls Strollers Due to Fingertip Amputation Risks

Kolcraft Enterprises, Inc. and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have issued a recall of several models of the Kolcraft Contours Options stroller.

When the hinge mechanism on the stroller is being locked or unlocked, it creates a gap in which a child’s or parent’s finger can become wedged, increasing the risk for amputation or other serious injuries when the mechanism is closed. The CPSC has received five reports of product defect injury from the strollers, including two adults who had fingers smashed in the hinge and three children who required amputations after their fingers were caught in the hinge.

The recall affects three- and four-wheeled strollers with model numbers ZL002, ZL005, ZL008, ZL015, and ZL018. The model number and date the stroller was manufactured are on a sticker placed above the left wheel on the ZL002 and on a tag sewn into the back of the seat on the other models.

The strollers were sold between January 2006 and November 2009 at various retailers across the U.S., including Toys “R” Us, Target, and online at Amazon.com. Parents and caregivers should stop using the strollers and call Kolcraft at (800) 453-7673 for a free repair kit.

Defective products can cause serious injuries, especially when the defect is not obvious or expected. If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective stroller or other items, contact the knowledgeable San Diego defective child product injury attorneys today. We’ll help you find out what happened and protect your legal rights.

Sacramento Jury Awards Fired Employee $116,000 After Being Fired

A federal court jury in Sacramento awarded Erma J. Alaniz, a fired office manager, $116,031 from her former employer, Dr. Rober Peppercorn, finding that Dr. Peppercorn unlawfully retaliated against Ms. Alaniz. The jury found that Dr. Peppercorn’s actions violated the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

During the course of the trial, the jury heard evidence that Dr. Peppercorn blamed Ms. Alaniz for a tense workplace environment arising from his attraction to Tiffany Raspberry, a young assistant working in Dr. Peppercorn’s medical office. The evidence further showed that Dr. Peppercorn’s relationship with Ms. Raspberry caused his marital problems and that Ms. Alaniz sympathized with his wife and provided her with financial records demonstrating that Dr. Peppercorn gave Ms. Raspberry financial assistance through his business.

When Dr. Peppercorn found out that Ms. Alaniz was looking for another job, he terminated her. The exchange ended in a loud exchange where Dr. Peppercorn blamed Ms. Alaniz for creating rumors and gossip about him and Ms. Raspberry.

The jury did decide not to award punitive damages, rejecting a finding that Dr. Peppercorn acted with “malice, oppression or fraud.”

Escondido Police Shoot and Kill Pit Bull

Earlier today, Escondido police shot and killed one of two pit bulls that had attacked a woman’s dog.

The attack happened near the intersection of West 10th Avenue and South Maple Street in Escondido. Neighbors report seeing the dog being attacked and came to fend off the pit bulls with shovels.

Animal control officers tried to catch the pit bulls, but the animals confronted the officers very aggressively. Police officers arrived later only to find the pit bulls circling the officers. Pepper spray was ineffective and when one of the dogs rushed the police officers, one of the dogs was shot twice and later died.

The second pit bull was taken into custody by animal control and the dog’s owners could be facing criminal charges for the attack.

We hope that these dog owners face the maximum criminal penalty for allowing their obviously dangerous dogs to run around the neighborhood unescorted. Luckily the dog that was attacked is expected to survive. But it could have easily been a person or a child that was attacked. It is unconscionable that these dogs were left unattended on the streets.

If you or a loved one has ever been injured by a dog bite or attack, please contact us so that your rights are immediately protected.

Hot Coffee the Movie Shows the Ill Effect of Tort Reform

Remember the McDonald’s coffee case? A woman orders a cup of hot coffee. She puts the cup in between her legs as she drives. Then, the coffee spills, and she gets third-degree burns on very private areas on her body. Cha-ching!

Though, that is not exactly the whole story. Susan Saladoff, director of the documentary film Hot Coffee, which premieres on HBO tonight at 6 p.m. PST, shows viewers what really happened in the infamous “McDonald’s hot coffee” lawsuit. The movie looks at what actually happened to Stella Liebeck, why the case got so much media attention, who funded the effort, and who really profited from spilling hot coffee.

Hot Coffee is a “call to action.” It asks the question, What happens when access to court is so lopsided that the average person cannot gain access? And who really pays the price, the negligent party or taxpayers?

In the four cases the film documents, Saladoff shows how Americans are surrendering their Constitutional rights in all sorts of ways without even knowing it and how they are being screwed by the system –not taking advantage of it.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed because of a defective product or negligent person, you are entitled to damages. The California personal injury attorneys will protect your Constitutional rights and get the money you deserve.

Imperial Valley Woman Accuses Employer, 2 Others of Assault

On the evening of June 7, Yessenia “Jesse” Moreno of Westmorland, a town outside El Centro in the Imperial Valley, reported that she was assaulted by her employer and two others while she was working at The Town Pump, a local restaurant.

“All I know is (her co-worker, Estella Jimenez) ran toward the bar area, I get halfway to the bar, and before I know it the owner Andrew (Salazar) comes at me in a hostile way and her sister comes at me yelling at me,” Moreno said. “We then started fighting.

“I recall Andrew threw a drink at me, and (Estella’s brother, Zobeck Aguire) threw all kinds of beer on me,” she said. “I remember I was on (Estella’s sister, Esther Aguirre), Andrew was on me and I realized he was choking me.

“Then all of a sudden I feel a big something hit my face, and it was a big glass salt shaker that was full of salt,” Moreno said. “Estrella had thrown it at me.”

Westmorland Police arrested Andrew Salazar, 37, Zobeck Aguirre, 33, and Estrella Jimenez, 24, were arrested and booked into Imperial County jail.

San Diego Police Department Officer Acquitted for Oceanside Car Accident and Road Rage Assault

The case involving off-duty San Diego Police Officer Frank White has finally been settled. On Monday, a jury found Officer White not guilty in this road-rage car accident that occurred in Oceanside in March of 2008 that culminated in the shooting of a woman and her young son. Officer White, 29, was acquitted of a felony count of grossly negligent discharge of a firearm and a misdemeanor count of exhibiting a firearm.

Prosecutors of the case argued that White was an easily-angered man who had no justification for not only displaying his revolver, but also firing five rounds into Rachel Silva’s car at night on March 15, 2008. Silva had been struck twice in the arm and her son was struck in the leg. Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dusek noted that as a trained police officer, White should have taken other steps to diffuse the situation that brought about the shootings. White had been off-duty and not in uniform at the time it happened, and his wife Jacquellyn was reportedly with him at the time.

California Court of Appeals: Medical Bill Adjustment and/or Writeoff Not Enough to Sustain Collateral Source Attack

San Diego injury victims have repeatedly had their cases undervalued by insurance companies and their attorneys who reduce the victims’ medical bills by the amount paid or written off by medical insurance companies. This process, arising from the misapplication of two Court of Appeal opinions–Hanif and Nishihama–have allowed insurance companies directly attack and gut the collateral source rule.

Under the collateral source rule, evidence that a person or entity other than the tortfeasor has paid for the injured person’s medical care is excluded from evidence in determining the reasonable value of medical damages. In short, the medical damages is the fully billed amount of medical bills.

Earlier today, the Court of Appeal handed down an opinion in the case of Olsen v. Reid that defendants cannot seek reductions of medical damages simply by presenting a bill indicating that an adjustment or write-off was applied to a medical bill. The Court reversed the trial court’s post-trial ruling reducing Ms. Olsen’s medical damages from $62,475.81 to just over $5,000. The Court held that the defendant had not presented sufficient evidence to support the ruling when all it did was present a copy of Ms. Olsen’s medical bill with some amounts indicating a write-off and adjustment of most of the bill.

The Court also issued two concurring opinions which dramatically attack the insurance companies’ ability to obtain a reduction in medical damages. First, Judge Moore summarizes the case history of the collateral source rule and the subsequent attacks by Hanif and Nishihama before finally concluding that Hanif/Nishihama unjustly abrogates the collateral source rule and is, therefore, impermissible. Secondly, Judge Fybel’s concurring opinion lists a number of missing evidentiary items that were presented in Nishihama to obtain the reduction of medical damages–all of which were missing in this case. Most of the items that Judge Fybel describes are very hard for anyone–whether the plaintiff or defendant–to obtain as they contain trade secrets of the medical insurance companies.

We are still reviewing the Court’s opinion and will provide additional information after that review.

Chula Vista Bicycle Rider Killed While on Nationwide Bike Trek

A memorial service is scheduled on Saturday for a Chula Vista man killed on June 21, 2009, during a cross-country bike tour in order to protest government bailouts. The suspect thought to have killed the biker was a drunk driver in Illinois who left the scene of the car crash and was later arrested.

The fatal bicycle accident of Chula Vista resident Jim Gafney, 65, is mourned by his wife Nancy, three daughters, and a large extended family, who had asked him not to take part in the tour, although he was a seasoned bike rider. Gafney was apparently incredibly determined to make his voice heard on the bailouts, which he worries will affect his future generations in a very negative way, and his family hopes that his mission will not be lost but instead, that his death would help carry on his mission and echo his voice.

Gafney was a former Navy man and retired computer engineer who had worked at Camp Pendleton. He had left Chula Vista for his bike across the country on April 27 and was on U.S. Route 50, about 60 miles east of St Louis when, just before 1 a.m. he was struck from behind by a 1997 Nissan Altima being driven by a 27-year-old man suspected to be drunk, according to Illinois State Police. The driver was arrested shortly thereafter by an officer for speeding when they noticed the damage to his car. He told state troopers that he had been driving over a hill and saw Gafney but was not able to stop or avoid hitting him, according to Master Sgt. Chris Trame. Trame notes that the road on which the Chula Vista biker died was just a two-lane roadway with no shoulder, an area that was very isolated and not well lit. The driver is facing charges that include aggravated driving under the influence and leaving the scene of the accident.

Bicyclist Killed in San Diego Bike Accident

A 22-year-old man was killed late on the night of June 19, 2009, while riding his bicycle in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. The county’s Medical Examiner’s Office identified 22-year-old Jonathon R. Ramirez as the victim in this tragic San Diego fatal bike accident.

After being hit, Ramirez was rushed to a hospital where he died from head and neck injuries on Saturday morning, as reported by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Law Group Has Gone Paper-less: A Report and How-To Guide

The paperless office has been the dream of many San Diego businesses, including personal injury lawyers. The benefits are tangible and real: reduced office storage space, the ability to access file documents from any file right on your desktop, remote access to any office file from anywhere in the world, and the ability to share and communicate with clients instantaneously through e-mail. As data becomes increasingly digitized and the ease of digitizing data also increases, the paperless office becomes more and more inevitable as the next clear method of law office management.

In the past, the hurdles to achieve this goal has been equipment costs, document management, and the transition cost of changing office systems. However, these hurdles no longer exist and creating a paperless office is now very simple–even for a solo practitioner.

The Law Group is now 5 months into its’ transition to a “paperless” office. Bear in mind that “paperless” does not mean “without paper”. Paper has been around for thousands of years and will continue to have a place in the digital office for the foreseeable future. The goal must be to reduce all unnecessary paper by digitizing it and storing it in a central location.

These were our office goals in making the transition:
1. Reduce office administrative time sorting and filing paper in files.
2. Reduce the time used to search paper files for relevant documents.
3. Create a method to better share documents with clients, opposing counsel, etc.
4. Eliminate the need to store closed files, thereby reducing overhead costs.
5. Stay within a budget of $1,000 for accomplishing this goal

All of these goals were achieved. In addition, we attained other goals, including reducing paper, toner, and copying costs.

After reviewing a number of resources and conferring with other attorneys who have done the same thing, here is how we did it.

Overview
The Small Solo Tech Blog shows the five quick steps to a paperless office:

It really is that simple.

Equipment
In order to effectively go paperless, you need the following equipment:
1. High Speed Scanner
2. Document Tracking Software
3. PDF File Creating Software

In addition, you should consider purchasing a second monitor for your desk (which will require an advanced video card for your computer). While this is not necessary for implementing a paperless office system–or anything else, for that matter–I swear that once you start utilizing a second monitor, you will not go back. A second monitor is like having additional desktop space to hold and manage your documents. It makes cutting and pasting between documents extremely easy and allows you to maintain your e-mail on one screen while drafting a document on another.

High-Speed Scanner
What we have found to be useful is a scanner that will scan single or double-sided documents in a single pass at a rate of at least 15 pages per minute. Based upon the recommendations of others, we purchased Fujitsu ScanSnap s510 scanners for each workstation. We haven’t been disappointed. The scanners scan quickly with a push of a single button, scan right to PDF, come with a full version of Adobe Acrobat (a value of $200 itself), and at a price of $395 per scanner they are the right price to meet our goals. I even bought one for my home office to scan personal bills and records.

Document Tracking System
Once you scan your documents to save on your server, you must be able to search amongst your files and also create an automated file naming system which will logically name your files and organize them for future use.

There are a number of third-party products out there. However, since our office was already using Time Matters for our practice management software, we decided to use its’ document tracking software and established an automatic file naming protocol which organizes files by matter and then description.

The automatic file naming protocol we use is this:

Matter Name/YYYYMMDD Name of Document Author.pdf

Why do we use this naming protocol? Primarily because it is easily searchable in both Time Matters and through Windows Explorer. Putting the date for each document in front of the file name allows documents to appear chronologically in Windows Explorer. This provides another way to locate documents quickly beside searching via the descriptive file name.

PDF Creation Software
Again, there are a number of third-party software solutions out there. But since the ScanSnap already comes with a full version of Adobe Acrobat–which also seamlessly integrates with Time Matters–we use Acrobat.

Even if you don’t plan to transition to a paperless office, we highly recommend purchasing a copy of Acrobat for your office. The latest version of Acrobat, version 9, includes a number of powerful tools including the ability to insert digital signatures in documents, insert signature tabs and labels to direct clients to take action, and bates stamp documents.

Implementing a System
Really, this is the hardest part. Not only do the partners and supervising attorneys need to buy in and insist that the system be strictly adhered to, but that commitment needs to flow to the support staff. Everyone needs to be able to perceive the benefit of changing how business is done.

Our system is very simple. As soon as a document comes in the office before any action is taken the document is scanned and stored. The document is also marked so that other staff recognizes that the document has been scanned.

In addition, to limit the number of documents required to be scanned, we have done away with our fax telephone line and printer in favor of toll-free internet fax. Faxes now appear on our desktops in PDF format and can be directly saved to the server. In addition, this allows us to fax documents from our desks without having to retrieve hard copies from the paper case file.

Summary
The benefits of this system are significant. But the time and effort might seem daunting. I assure you, however, that this system can be implemented in 30 days and everyone–your clients, your staff, and yourself–will love the change.

Five People Stabbed in Dangerous Chula Vista House Party

A Saturday night party on June 20 in Chula Vista turned dangerous and threatening when five people suffered knife wounds and had to be treated at local hospitals after a fight on the premises.

The fight was located on 4th Avenue near Palomar Street in Chula Vista and happened about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday. Witnesses told the authorities that there had been several people fighting, but no one had seen the weapon that injured five people at the Chula Vista party.

All the suspects had left before the police arrived, although one had been described as a 25-year-old Latino and was seen wearing a white T-Shirt, while a second suspect was described as a 6-foot-3 Latino, roughly 200 pounds, last seen wearing a collared shirt and blue jeans.

Medical Malpractice Protections Extended to EMTs While Driving

In February of this year, the California Court of Appeals extended the protections afforded to medical doctors under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) to emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who are in the process of transporting patients for medical care.

In the opinion by Justice Madeleine Flier, the Court of Appeal held that such protections were warranted since the services provided by EMTs were “inextricably identified” with the health and medical care of their patients. Further, the Court rejected the argument by the plaintiff, a Los Angeles police officer injured while riding along in the ambulance when it was involved in a collision, that MICRA protections could only be extended to those services to which an EMT was licensed. The court held that EMTs were licensed to provide transportation by the Department of Motor Vehicles’ special license and, therefore, were still protected by MICRA when involved in traffic accidents while transporting patients.

Whiplash Injury Risk Increases As Rear-End Crashes Become More Severe

When a rear-end crash occurs, there is always a risk that whiplash injuries to the head, neck, and back will become permanent. This risk increases along with the severity of the accident. The faster the rear vehicle is traveling in a rear-end accident, the more likely it is that the passengers in the front vehicle will suffer long-term or even permanent disabilities due to the resulting whiplash injuries.

Multiple studies have found that permanent head, neck, and back injuries from whiplash are more likely at higher speeds. A 2005 study from Sweden found that permanent whiplash injuries were rare when the rear vehicle was traveling under 10 miles per hour. Temporary pain and loss of mobility occurred in some patients, but these injuries usually resolved within a month.

At higher speeds, however, whiplash can cause permanent injuries or death. A 2002 German study looked at nine cases in which drivers or front-seat passengers were killed after their vehicle was rear-ended at a speed of 100 miles per hour or more. Fractures of the spine, internal bleeding, and severe soft tissue damage proved fatal in each fatal car crash. At speeds between 60 and 90 miles per hour, deaths were less common, but permanent injuries from whiplash were likely.

Rear-end accidents present specific injury risks that differ from other kinds of accidents. Our skilled Southern California car accident attorneys have experience representing those who have been injured in rear-end accidents, as well as other types of car crashes. To discuss your case with us and learn more about your legal rights, call us today.

San Diego Drug Recall Attorneys

As technology progresses, new drugs hit the pharmacy shelves at an incredibly rapid rate. Though, not all drugs that pass through the system are as safe as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims it is. As a result, many patients suffer seriously, and often deadly side effects from these potential life-saving medications.

Defective Product Injuries : Drug Recall

Pharmaceutical Drugs are Meant to Better Lives. However, When Drug Companies Sell Products to Consumers Without Rigorous Testing, They Can Do More Harm Than Good.

As technology progresses, new drugs hit the pharmacy shelves at an incredibly rapid rate. Though, not all drugs that pass through the system are as safe as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims it is. As a result, many patients suffer serious, and often deadly side effects from these potential life-saving medications.

A drug recall occurs when a particular drug is removed from the market because it is either defective or potentially harmful. This can be done voluntarily by the manufacturing company or requested by the Food and Drug Administration if they receive numerous reports from physicians about the dangers of usage.

According to an analysis of FDA data, in 2009, there were a staggering 1,742 drug recalls, a huge leap from the 426 recalls reported in 2008.

Reasons for Drug Recalls

Manufacturing Defect

This accounts for the majority of recalls. It typically occurs when something goes wrong during the manufacturing process. Or if the packaging itself is not made according to approved specifications.

Design Defect

The defects exist when a product does not perform as intended or presents unreasonable risk of injury. This typically occurs when studies, additional data, or adverse events show that a drug may unreasonably increase the risk of a serious side effect.

Labeling Defect

A labeling defect occurs when the company does not provide the proper warning labels or cautions in the instructions to inform product users of risks involved with usage.

FDA Drug Recall Classifications

Category I: The use of, or exposure to, the recalled drug is most likely capable of causing a serious health issue or even death to the consumer.

Category II: The use of, or exposure to, the recalled drug is not likely to cause a serious health issue. At most, it may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences.

Category III: The use of, or exposure to, the recalled drug is not likely to cause an adverse reaction.

Contact a Drug Recall Attorney

If you or a loved one has experienced any extreme side effects, such as a heart attack or stroke, because of a recalled drug, get medical attention and contact an experienced San Diego product liability attorney immediately. You may be able to hold the manufacturer responsible for some or all of the injuries you incurred.

Filing a claim against a large drug company can be difficult and very confusing. Drug companies will bend over backward to protect their brand name and reputation from being tainted. If you have a case, call our San Diego product recall attorneys and we will work to get you the monetary compensation for your injuries, hospital and medical bills, loss of wages, and other injury-related costs.

Bicycle Accidents Cause Severe Head Injuries to Two in San Diego Area

Two bicyclists were sent to the hospital with severe head injuries in two separate San Diego-area bicycle accidents recently, with one of the accident victims also suffering spinal cord injuries.

The first accident involved a 54-year-old woman riding her back in Carmel Valley. She was traveling down a steep hill on El Camino Real when she lost control of the bicycle and fell. Rescue workers rushed her to a nearby hospital for treatment of the severe head injuries she suffered in the accident. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the accident and whether she was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, according to an article in the Del Mar Times.

The second accident left a 25-year-old man with spinal fractures, jaw damage, and a traumatic brain injury. He was riding along a driveway on Camino Santa Fe when he crashed. Medical workers said that his injuries were non-life-threatening, but the hospital to which he was taken has not issued an update on his condition. Meanwhile, investigators continue to look into the causes of his accident.

Injuries from bicycle accidents can range from bruises and scrapes to severe, even life-threatening traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries. Our dedicated San Diego bicyclist injury lawyers have the experience and resources to help you get the compensation you need for any kind of bicycle-related injury caused by another’s negligence. For a free, confidential consultation, call us today.

San Diego Food Recall Lawyers

Every year, hundreds of food products and pet food products are pulled from the shelves of stores and warehouses because they are contaminated, unsafe, or have other dangerous risks. This makes it increasingly difficult to trust the food that we purchase for our loved ones and ourselves from companies we have been loyal to for years. In the case of a food recall, it is the responsibility of the manufacturing company to absorb all costs of the recall, including informing the public, recalling the product, and paying for any damages.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a contaminated food product, contact an experienced food recall attorney immediately. Our San Diego expert food recall attorneys understand that companies will bend over backward to protect their brand name and reputation from being tainted. If you have a case, we will protect your rights and get you the money damages you need.

San Diego Dangerous Household Items Attorneys

Many people don’t realize it but there are a lot of common household items that are considered to be hazardous materials. Companies that manufacture these products must make sure that these items are as safe as possible and are labeled properly to warn consumers of their risks, usage, and storage.

Unfortunately, because of slips made within the production system, businesses sometimes distribute defective products to their consumers that may cause injury and sometimes death.

Defective Product Injuries : Dangerous Household Items

Too Many People Are Injured or Killed When Companies Make Mistakes in the System and Produce Defective and Dangerous Products.

Many San Diegans don’t realize it but there are a lot of common household items sold in California that are considered to be hazardous materials. These include medications, paint, motor oil, antifreeze, auto batteries, lawn care products, pest control products, drain cleaners and pool care products. Companies that manufacture these products for sale in San Diego must make sure that these items are as safe as possible and are labeled properly to warn consumers of their risks, usage, and storage.

Unfortunately, because of slips made within the production system, businesses sometimes distribute defective products to their consumers that may cause injury and sometimes death.

Children are at the greatest risk of being hurt or poisoned by these products. Each year in the U.S., more than 2,000 children under the age of 14 die as a result of a home injury, according to Safe Kids USA.

Dangerous Household Items Include:

  • Cleaning products
  • Indoor pesticides
  • Automotive products
  • Workshop/Painting supplies
  • Lawn and garden products
  • Batteries
  • Thermometers
  • Fluorescent light bulbs

Other hazardous household items consist of batteries, thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs, driveway sealer and other flammable products.

How to Buy and Store Dangerous Household Items Safely

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to lower the risk of a chemical emergency, you can follow these guidelines:

  • Buy only as much of a chemical as you think you will use. This will minimize waste and storage.
  • Keep products containing hazardous materials in their original containers and never remove the labels unless the container is corroding. Corroding containers should be repackaged and clearly labeled.
  • Never store hazardous products in food containers.
  • Never mix household hazardous chemicals or waste with other products. Incompatibles, such as chlorine bleach and ammonia, may react, ignite, or explode.
Dangers of Hazardous Products

Harmful and toxic products with insufficient warnings can result in a fire, explosion, or toxic poisoning. Ordinary household items and toys can cause serious injuries and can permanently afflict you for the rest of your life.

Contact a Hazardous Household Items Attorney

When products cause injury due to design or manufacturing defects or failure to warn about proper use, you may have a claim against the manufacturer. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed from exposure to a harmful household item or defective product, seek medical attention immediately and contact a hazardous household items attorney. Our dedicated San Diego defective product lawyers will get you the compensation to cover your injuries. Call our personal injury law office to set up a free consultation.

San Diego Airplane Accident Lawyers

We rarely see news headlines about major airline crashes. In fact, airplanes that carry hundreds of passengers are considered quite safe and crashes only occur a few times a year around the world. Just because major airlines don’t often have injuries or deaths associated with them doesn’t mean that plane crashes are rare. Small aircraft that only carry a handful of people, crash much more often and have a higher chance of leading to serious injury or death. Aviation accidents are typically a result of pilot negligence.

Whether you are injured in a crash while flying or injured on the ground by in a plane crash, our experienced San Diego airplane accident attorneys will help you obtain compensation to which you are entitled. Our lawyers will work for your best interest. Contact us to set up a free consultation.

Elderly Chino Pedestrian Injured in San Bernardino County Car Crash

67-year-old Luis Octavio Castillo was seriously injured in a Chino pedestrian accident that occurred on June 15, 2011, around 7:37 a.m. along the 3300 block of Riverside Drive. According to police officials, Castillo was walking through a construction area when he was struck by a 2007 Scion TC driven by 21-year-old Lissette Carolina Menijvar.

Due to a county construction project, the eastbound lanes of Riverside Drive had been temporarily diverted to the westbound lanes. Castillo was immediately airlifted to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for medical treatment. The investigating officers need to determine if the diversion of roads and construction area had proper signs to guide drivers along.

From the facts set forth in the news story, it appears that Menijvar may have been at fault for causing this serious pedestrian crash. Under California Vehicle Code Section 21950(a), “The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection….”

However, the construction company may be held liable for the damages as well after a further investigation. Castillo needs to consult with a San Bernardino County pedestrian accident lawyer to obtain compensation to cover treatment, medical and hospitalization costs, and other accident-related damages.

Our personal injury law office sincerely hopes and prays that the injuries suffered by the pedestrian heal soon and do not prove life-threatening.

Can an Insurance Company Hide Witness Statements?

What happens if you are involved in a car accident in California and the at-fault driver’s insurance company takes recorded statements of witnesses to the accident? Can you review them during your personal injury lawsuit?

The California Court of Appeals recently ruled in the case of Coito v. Superior Court that such statements are discoverable and must be turned over to the other party.

Are Witness Statements Protected by Attorney Work Product Privilege?

Posted on Jun 20, 2010

Are witness statements collected at the scene of an accident or by your personal injury attorney following an accident subject to the protections of the attorney work-product privilege–a privilege which allows injury accident victims to keep these statements confidential and away from the hands of insurance companies and their lawyers?

The issue was recently tackled by the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District of California in the case of Coito v. Superior Court.  The Court was asked to determine whether a statement of a witness to an accident by an attorney is protected by the work product privilege.  The Court held that such statements are not protected and can be discovered by opposing counsel during discovery.

The Court distinguished the case of Nacht & Lewis Architects, Inc. v. Superior Court holding that Nacht & Lewis did not hold that a list of witnesses from whom statements had been taken, nor the statements themselves, were privileged.  Such statements have very important evidentiary value, including containing inconsistent statements, prior consistent statements, or past recollections recorded–all of which would be admissible at trial.  However, were these statements to be protected by the attorney work-product privilege, the opposing party could not have access to these important pieces of information and evidence.

The Court also rejected a qualified attorney work-product privilege defense–in other words that in certain circumstances and with certain limitations, the privilege would exist.  The Court held that a recording or document which shows the attorney’s thoughts and interpretation of the evidence and case was protected by the privilege.  However, in most cases where the attorney or his representative is simply asking questions and the witness responses are simply answering those questions, then the privilege would not attach.  The statement would not contain any interpretive input from the attorney.  The Court also rejected the argument that the selection of the attorney’s questions itself was interpretive–the statements had evidentiary value only.

What this means, for people injured in accidents in California and the insurance companies who oppose them, is that witness statements are discoverable absent an affirmative showing that the statement contains protected interpretive analysis by the attorney.

Infant Killed after Dog Attack in Lemon Grove

An eight-month-old boy died after being attacked by at least one pit bull in Lemon Grove around 5 p.m. on June 14. According to 10 News, the incident happened in the boy’s crib at the family’s home on 3000 block of West Street near North Avenue, where their three male pit bulls also resided.

Animal Control removed all three canines, ages three to five years old, from the scene. Police are still unsure about how many dogs attacked the boy and why. However, a neighbor mentioned that two of the pit bulls had killed two cats in the neighborhood. A thorough examination will determine whether the dogs are aggressive and if they will be euthanized.

It is devastating that the mother lost her only son to a tragedy that could and should have been prevented. Dog attacks on small children are especially vicious because children are helpless and unable to defend themselves.

According to statistics, there were 31 fatal dog attacks in the year 2011. Over the past year, several other pit bull attacks have been reported in the San Diego area, including the death of an elderly Paradise Hills woman.

Under California law, a dog owner can be held liable for personal injuries caused by his or her pet. California’s Civil Code Section 3342 states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack because of a careless owner, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced San Diego dog attack attorney, who will hold the negligent dog owner liable. For a free assessment of your case, contact our San Diego personal injury office.

Newhall Toddler Seriously Injured In Dog Attack

A 5 year-old toddler, Jose Sadino, was seriously injured in a dog attack at a Newhall apartment complex on June 11, 2010. According to the news stories, a vicious pit bull jumped out of a window and started attacking Jose who was playing with other children outside the apartment complex. Sadino’s mother, along with a few neighbors, intervened and made the dog go away. Los Angeles Sheriff’s officers took the pit bull into custody to determine if it had a prior bite history and whether the owner will face any criminal charges.

Jose Sadino sustained serious injuries, but thankfully none of them are expected to be life-threatening. The owner of the pit bull may be held liable for the injuries caused and may have to compensate for the expenses involved. Clearly, the owner should have made sure that the pit bull was securely tied and that it was restrained. Dog owners have an absolute duty to make sure that their animals do not injure or kill others. Further, in a civil justice context, dog owners can be held strictly liable for any damage or injury caused by their dog.

We sympathize with Jose Sadino’s family and wish him a complete recovery soon. We hope that his wounds heal and that his scars, if any, can be treated and minimized. Jose Sadino’s parents can seek compensation for their medical expenses and suffering from the pet owner if this accident occurred due to his/her negligence. People who are injured in a dog attack need to know that they have certain legal rights that could help them come out of the accident, financially.

Driver Under the Influence Collides with San Diego Firefighter Truck

Yesenia Mitre, 25, collided with a firefighters’ truck and left four firefighters injured. The truck was on its’ way to answer a medical emergency on the morning of June 13, 2010. According to reports, Mitre drove out directly in the lane of traffic the fire truck was traveling in close to Alpine in eastern San Diego County. Due to the collision, the fire truck lost control and hit a pole.

According to the San Diego 6 news report, Mitre was driving under the influence and was arrested. The four firefighters sustained serious injuries while Mitre sustained a broken wrist.

It is indeed an unfortunate thing that due to the negligent and intoxicated driver, the four firefighters were badly injured. It is absolutely insane that instead of giving way to the emergency truck, Mitre drove right into its path. Mitre will most likely be found to have violated California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) which states that “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.” Under California law, it is also illegal to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher.

Teen Bicyclist Struck in Escondido Bicyclist Accident

An Escondido teenage boy was struck and injured in a North San Diego County car accident on June 15, 2011, around 12:36 p.m. at Grand Avenue and Rose Street. According to Escondido Police Officials, an 84-year-old elderly man, driving a Chrysler Town & Country van, made a wide turn into Grand Avenue, climbed the sidewalk, hit a traffic pole, and finally came to halt after slamming into the side of the building. The boy was waiting on his bicycle next to the pole when he was hit.

The bicyclist suffered serious injuries and was immediately transported to Rady Children’s Hospital for treatment. From the available information, it is clear that the 84-year-old driver made too wide of a turn and caused this bicycle accident. This leads us to question his driving abilities.

The investigating officers need to determine whether the driver was speeding, distracted, or was talking on the cell phone when this accident occurred. It would be in the best interest of bicyclist’s family members to seek counsel from a North San Diego County bike accident lawyer to know about their legal rights and options.

The bicyclist crash attorney would assure that the at-fault is held liable for the damage and help the victim’s family members obtain timely compensation to cover treatment, medical costs, hospitalization expenses, and other accident-related expenses.

Our personal injury law office sincerely hopes that the injuries suffered by the boy heal soon.

Shuttle Drivers Sue SuperShuttle; Claim They Were Improperly Called “Independent Contractors”

A class-action employment lawsuit was filed by current and former drivers of SuperShuttle International, Inc., a van service serving many of California’s airports (including San Diego’s Lindbergh Field), alleging that the company cheated them out of millions of dollars of wages by classifying the drivers as “independent contractors” or “franchises” instead of employees.

The suit alleges that the company, by making the designation, avoided state labor laws governing minimum wage and overtime pay and shifted the operating cost of the vehicles to the drivers, including forcing drivers to pay for the leasing and maintenance of the vehicles, their insurance coverage, and other expenses. In many cases, drivers earned less than minimum wage after expenses were deducted and were not provided meal and break periods–which would be required for employees.

The lawsuit seeks damages of “at least $100 million” and appears very similar to the claims presented by drivers for FedEx Ground. FedEx Ground recently lost that case at trial and on appeal.

If you work for a company that designates you as an “independent contractor” and you believe that you should instead be considered an employee, please contact us to discuss your rights.

Pedestrian Injured In Orange County Car Crash

A 74 year-old woman sustained serious injuries in a pedestrian accident on June 15, 2010 when she was hit by a Nissan Sentra. According to the news report submitted in the Orange County Register, the injured pedestrian was walking with her dog in the 3100 block of Yorba Linda Boulevard in Fullerton when she was struck by the car.

Police officials stated that the injured lady might have stepped into the westbound lanes to go around the car, which was coming out of an apartment complex driveway. The injured woman was taken to a nearby hospital where she was treated for her injuries.

We wish the injured pedestrian a speedy and complete recovery and hope that her injuries are not life threatening. Normally, California law holds that drivers must give the right of way to pedestrians in marked crosswalks and at an intersection. Under California law, an intersection is any place where two streets come together at a right angle. However, even given these protections (which are set forth in California Vehicle Code Section 21950) does not relieve the pedestrian from exercising reasonable care for his safety.

Downtown San Diego Trolley Accident Kills Pedestrian

An eastbound San Diego trolley in Downtown San Diego struck and killed a pedestrian over the weekend on the afternoon of July 12, 2009, authorities say.

The fatal trolley accident occurred on the trolley line on C Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, shortly after 3 p.m., Sgt. Ramona Hastings of the San Diego Police Department said. A dispatcher of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said that the victim died at the scene and that streets in the immediate surroundings were closed for investigations, which had not been concluded as of Tuesday morning. The victim’s name had not been released.

Should Doctors Prevent Texting While Driving?

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published an essay where the writing doctor recommended that family doctors begin asking their patients whether they text and drive or talk on their cellphones while driving.

A recent essay in The New England School of Medicine suggests that doctors should begin asking their patients whether they drive while texting or talking on a mobile phone.  The doctor, Dr. Amy Ship, reports that family physicians routinely ask patients whether they engage in dangerous or risky behavior such as smoking, watching their diet, or remembering to fasten their seat belt.  Dr. Ship believes that asking about distracted driving should be incorporated into these risk questions.

Distracted driving–whether by talking on a cellphone or texting while driving–is certainly a problem, particularly amongst teenagers and inexperienced drivers.  That is why our San Diego personal injury law firm helps sponsor the Teens Against Distracted Driving program where teenagers and their parents can take a pledge not to text and drive.

But can asking regarding dangerous behavior be effective to making patients safer?  Is it the place of medical doctors to take on the issue of texting while driving as a preventative medicine issue?  Is it too much of an intrusion into individual behavior to have primary car physicians ask about their patients’ personal behavior which is not medically related?

Dr. Ship takes the position that any efforts to keep patients safer and alive is fair game for medical doctors.  She herself initiates the conversation by letting her patients know that texting and talking on the cellphone causes more auto accidents.  She then tells them that multitasking when talking on the cellphone is obviously dangerous, otherwise patients would not mind if their surgeon spoke on the phone while operating on them.

Anything to increase awareness of the problem of distracted driving helps.

Hit and Run Driver Injures Encinitas Bicycle Rider

A woman on a bicycle coming home from a bar on the morning of June 12, 2009, in Encinitas was severly injured when she was hit by a van. The victim and her girlfriend were riding their bikes home on southbound Pacific Coast Highway 101 near Chesterfield Drive when the victim was struck.

The van’s driver was driving an older tan colored box-shaped van. He initially got out of his vehicle and told the victim’s girlfriend that he would move his van to a safer location and return to help, but he never did. The sergeant reports that the man was last seen driving towards Solana Beach. Paramedics that arrived on the scene took the victim to Scripps La Jolla Hospital for treatment.

Santa Ana Hit and Run Car Collision Causes Injuries

A SUV driver was arrested and charged with hit and run causing injury on June 13, 2010, after he hit a sedan, leaving the occupants inside injured. According to the California Highway Patrol, this car crash occurred near Orangethorpe Avenue close to the northbound 57 Freeway (SR-57).

The SUV left the sedan in an upside down position at the incident scene and fled away from the scene. The driver of the SUV went west on Orangethorpe Avenue and was arrested as he drove on the southbound 57 Freeway.

We offer our sympathies to the injured victims and wish for their speedy and complete recovery. Injured victims can seek compensation for their medical bills and other relevant expenses from the SUV driver if he is determined to be negligent in causing this traffic accident. Regardless, it is inhuman to leave someone injured at the scene of an accident. There is no excuse for a hit and run accident. Not only is it a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 20001(a), but it is simply morally reprehensible that someone would cause such a major accident and then leave the scene of the accident.

Ventura County Bicycle Accident Involving SUV Leaves Camarillo Man Dead

76-year-old Camarillo resident John H. Dillingham Jr. was killed in a Ventura County bicycle accident that occurred on June 11, 2011, around 1:15 p.m. on Pleasant Valley Road. According to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Bob Granieri, Dillingham was attempting to make a turn onto Freedom Park Drive when he accidentally veered into the eastbound lane and was struck by an SUV driven by 63-year-old Oxnard local Eva Labrador.

Dillingham was immediately transported to Ventura County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead two hours later. An investigation is under process. Though the victim mistakenly rode into the wrong lane, the driver failed to see the victim and safely move her car away. The investigating officers need to determine whether Labrador was speeding or distracted. If Labrador is at fault, then she may be held liable for Dillingham’s wrongful death.

Dillingham’s family members should immediately seek counsel from a Ventura County bicycle accident lawyerto obtain timely compensation to cover funeral and burial expenses, loss of love and companionship, and other accident-related damages.

Our law office offers sincere condolences to all those who knew and loved John H. Dillingham for such a heart breaking loss.

New Vehicle Technology Lets Cars “Talk” to Each Other to Prevent Accidents

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology that allows vehicles near one another to communicate may lead to breakthroughs in vehicle safety by warning drivers about the behavior of nearby vehicles, according to a recent article from the Associated Press.

V2V systems were the subject of a recent conference in which automakers offered demonstrations of one system currently under development. The system uses a wireless communications grid to allow vehicles within about 1,000 feet of one another to trade information about 10 times per second.

The vehicles trade information on their location, direction, and speed. If an oncoming vehicle poses a risk of a crash, red lights inside the vehicle light up and warning sounds alert the driver of the oncoming vehicle, allowing the driver to avoid a crash even if parked cars, buildings, or other obstacles prevent the driver from seeing the oncoming car.

Although V2V systems show promise at helping drivers avoid serious auto accidents, they are not yet ready for road use. Testing will begin this summer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, using volunteer drivers and a closed test course. Researchers predict the overall effectiveness of the system will depend on how drivers respond to the vehicle’s warnings.

Car accidents can cause serious injury, and even a careful driver cannot always prevent or avoid them. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, please don’t hesitate to call the knowledgeable San Diego car accident injury lawyers to learn more about your legal options and your rights after a crash. For a free, confidential consultation, call us today.

Southern California Personal Watercraft Safety Statistics

Personal watercraft (PWC) injuries account for about one-third of all boating- and watercraft-related injuries per year in southern California, according to the California Department of Boating and Waterways. PWC accidents are especially common along California’s southern coast and on Lake Perris.

Southern California sees more personal watercraft injuries each year than the rest of the state. A significant percentage of these accidents take place on inland lakes, such as Lake Perris and Silverwood Lake. For instance, about 10 percent of all California PWC accidents each year occur on Lake Perris, while about 28 percent of all California PWC accident each year occur along the Southern California coast. The Colorado River is also a frequent site of PWC and other boating-related injuries.

You can help protect yourself from a PWC accident by following a few simple steps:

  • Always wear a properly-fitting personal floatation device (PFD) while riding a PWC, as required by California law;
  • Never drive or ride on a PWC if you’ve been drinking; and
  • Avoid excessive speeds, as speeding is a key factor in many California personal watercraft accidents.

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a PWC accident, the skilled San Diego personal watercraft injury attorneys are prepared to help. We can put our experience to work for you at every step of the process, from filing an insurance claim to fighting on your behalf in court. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

ATV Crash in Valley Center Leaves Two Injured

Two North County San Diego all-terrain vehicle riders crashed their ATVs just south of Rincon and had to be rushed to local hospitals on Sunday afternoon. The accident happened around 2:20 p.m. on Paradise Creek Road, just south of Paradise Creek Lane, as California Highway Patrol’s website reported.

One rider had to be flown to Rady Children’s Hospital via helicopter and the other was taken by ground ambulance to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. Neither rider had been wearing a helmet, and no additional information on the crash was available as of Sunday night.

San Diego Elder Financial Exploitation Lawyers

As They Get Older, Elders are Less Able to Think and Act Independently. They Hire Help or Ask Their Family Members to Take Care of Their Homes and Assets. Unfortunately, Unscrupulous People See This Vulnerability and Take Advantage of this By Financially Exploiting an Elder.

People over 50 years old hold over 70% of the nations wealth, and most of them don’t even realize the value of their belongings. As San Diego seniors and retirees get older, they become less physically and mentally able to live independently, so they hire helpers or ask family members, who have access to their homes and assets, to take care of them. Many of the people who are directly responsible for the elder’s care take full advantage of this without the elder’s permission and exploit the elders financially to benefit themselves.

Who is Most Likely to Exploit an Elder?

Family members, including sons, daughters, grandchildren, or spouses, are most likely to financially exploit an elder. They may have a substance abuse, gambling, or financial problem. Or, they justify the exploitation because they feel that what they are taking is rightfully theirs and will be deprived of it. There are several other factors that may contribute to financial abuse that stems from insecurity. For example, an abuser may fear that the elder will get sick and use up their savings, depriving them of an inheritance. The abuser may also have negative feelings toward the elder or to other family members and what to pretend them from inheriting any of the elder’s assets.

What are the Signs of Financial Exploitation?

  • Significant withdrawals from the elder’s accounts
  • Sudden changes in the elder’s financial condition
  • Items or cash missing from the senior’s household
  • Suspicious changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, and policies
  • Addition of names to the senior’s signature card
  • Unpaid bills or lack of medical care, although the elder has enough money to pay for them
  • Financial activity the senior couldn’t have done, such as an ATM withdrawal when the account holder is bedridden
  • Unnecessary services, goods, or subscriptions
Report Elder Financial Exploitation

If you or someone you know is being financially exploited, tell someone you trust and act immediately. In the U.S., you can also call Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. You should also contact an elder abuse lawyer right away. The San Diego elder financial exploitation attorneys are trained at handling these kinds of situations. It is important that the abuser is brought to justice, and damages caused by the elder be compensated. Contact us so we can ensure the safety of the victim and prevent others from being abused.

San Diego Elder Abuse Lawyers

As San Diego seniors age, we will become more physically frail and less able to think and act for ourselves. In addition, we become less able to stand up to bullying or fight back if we are attacked, making the elder population extremely susceptible to being manipulated and taken advantage of, mentally, physically, and financially. Unfortunately, this happens more than we think and it most frequently happens in the home by spouses, adult children, and grandchildren.

Thousands of seniors in San Diego are abused by someone directly responsible for their care. In fact, more than half a million reports are made each year across the U.S. and millions more still go unreported.

If you or someone you know is being abused, tell someone you trust and contact a San Diego elder abuse attorney immediately to bring this abuser to justice and get compensation for all the damages done.

Remember California Laws for Safe Boating this Summer

California boat accidents are all too common in the summer months. Whether you’re on the ocean or on an inland lake, river, pond, or stream, a boat accident or crash can cause serious injury.

According to the California Department of Boating and Waterways, there were 570 reported boat accidents in our state in 2010. In these accidents, 283 people were injured and 49 people lost their lives.

Some key points of California boating law, according to the Department of Boating and Waterways, to keep in mind this summer include:

  • Lifejackets. A lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD) must be worn by any passenger under age 12 on any vessel less than 27 feet long. If you’re on a personal watercraft or being pulled by another vessel, you must also wear a PFD, regardless of your age.
  • Driving age. If the boat has a motor bigger than 15 horsepower, the boat’s driver must be at least 16 years old to operate the boat without an adult. Drivers between the ages of 12 and 15 may operate the boat only if an adult supervises them. Children younger 12 may not operate these boats.
  • Boating safety courses. These are required for anyone convicted of a moving violation while on a boat, but they can improve safety for any boater.

Our San Diego California boat accident attorneys have the practical experience and personal dedication to fight to protect your legal rights after an accident. If you or someone you love has been injured while boating, call us today. Your first telephone consultation with us is free and confidential.

After Killer Whale Accident, Trainers May Have to Stay on Land

In an Orlando, Florida case involving the death of a trainer working with killer whales at SeaWorld, an administrative law judge recently ruled that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could require the use of barriers between trainers and whales, according to a recent news report from CBS Los Angeles. The ruling may change how trainers and whales work together at aquatic theme parks and museums throughout the country, including California.

The subject of the hearing was a 2010 fatal drowning accident at SeaWorld in Orlando, where a 40-year-old trainer lost her life when a 22-foot-long orca grabbed her ponytail in his jaws and pulled her into the tank. She suffered drowning and blunt force trauma to her head, neck, and upper body, which proved fatal.

OSHA charged SeaWorld with a “willful” violation of safety regulations and levied a $75,000 fine. During the recent hearing, the judge reduced the violation from “willful” to “serious,” noting that SeaWorld did have safety measures in place.

However, the judge also ruled that it was “feasible” to require trainers to stay behind a barrier when working with whales and other animals in order to prevent accidents such as the 2010 death. OSHA is expected to begin requiring these barriers, effectively ending shows in which trainers and animals work in close contact.

Workplace injuries can occur both in high-profile jobs like theme park attractions and in everyday workplaces. If you’ve been injured on the job in southern California, the knowledgeable San Diego workplace injury lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

Escondido Construction Worker Killed in Chula Vista Construction Accident

Last Thursday, a construction worker was killed in Chula Vista when a wall fell crushing him to death. The wall was to a building being demolished to make room for Unified Port of San Diego convention and hotel area.

On Sunday, the worker was identified as Austin Sawicki of Escondido.

We are saddened to hear of Mr. Sawicki’s passing and give our sympathy to his family.

San Diego Woman Seriously Injured After Falling from Encinitas Bluff

An unidentified woman in her 20s is currently in critical condition after falling nearly 100 feet down a cliff. The woman was a house guest at a blufftop home in Encinitas when she took the fall around 11 p.m., which left her with serious trauma to her back and head. The injury was reported as happening at a home on Neptune Avenue near Roseta Street, according to Encinitas Marine Safety Captain Larry Giles.

The woman suffering the San Diego County fall injury had been in a hot tub before she got out and walked to a hammock in the backyard, however, took a few steps too far and slipped off the cliff and ended up on the beach, about a half-mile north of Moonlight Beach. Alcohol was involved in her incident. When rescuers arrived she had no mobility and could not feel her lower extremities. She was taken by helicopter to a La Jolla hospital.

Escondido Construction Worker Killed in Chula Vista Construction Accident

Last Thursday, a construction worker was killed in Chula Vista when a wall fell crushing him to death. The wall was to a building being demolished to make room for Unified Port of San Diego convention and hotel area.

On Sunday, the worker was identified as Austin Sawicki of Escondido.

We are saddened to hear of Mr. Sawicki’s passing and give our sympathy to his family.

Help Available for San Diego Wildfire Victims

The October 2007 San Diego Wildfires were a scary time for most of the region as wildfires raged and traveled great distances carried by powerful Santa Ana winds. It was, we believed, a horribly tragic natural catastrophe.

Now, there is significant evidence that two of these fires–the Witch Creek and Rice Canyon fires–may have been caused by defective SDG&E power lines. Several investigators and witnesses observed SDG&E personnel making repairs immediately following the fires.

If faulty or defective SDG&E power lines did cause these fires, the victims deserve compensation to rebuild their lost homes and to get back on their feet. Luckily, a group of dedicated and prominent trial lawyers has teamed up to help. Their website, SDWildfireHelp.com, provides information for victims and allows them to obtain legal advice.

If you or your loved ones were victims of the Witch Creek or Rice Canyon fires, please visit their website.

San Diego Social Security Benefits Lawyers

Social Security is a form of social insurance that protects individuals and families from financial hardships. Situations that affect a person’s ability to provide for himself and his family include retirement, death, disability, or any other physical or mental impairment. To ensure that money is available for beneficiaries, a claim must be made and specific criteria must be met.

The San Diego social security disability attorneys take on Social Security claims every year. We have been representing Social Security clients for several years and we can help you and your friends and family if they ever suffer from a physical or mental impairment.

Filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Can be a Daunting Process, but the San Diego Lawyers Will Focus on Getting You the Benefits You Need and Deserve.

Every year, thousands of San Diego residents become eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.  However, most are initially denied their SSD benefits when they apply to the Social Security Administration.  The experienced and skilled SSD/SSI appeals attorneys can help if you are denied your Social Security Disability benefits.

What is Social Security?

Social Security is a form of social insurance that protects individuals and families from financial hardships. Situations that affect a person’s ability to provide for himself and his family include retirement, death, disability, or any other physical or mental impairment.     

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers several types of benefits:    

  • Retirement Benefits 
  • Survivor’s Benefits
  • Disability Insurance Benefits
  • Supplemental Security income

There are other financial and health care benefits that are offered through Social Security.  However, these are some of the most relevant ones.    

Retirement Benefits

Retirement benefits are available to those who have paid enough Social Security taxes (through income withholding) to be fully-insured for retirement benefits.  You are eligible to receive full retirement benefits when you have reached full retirement age.  The full retirement age used to be 65, but is now rising.  

Survivor Benefits

Survivor benefits are available to direct relatives of deceased workers if those deceased workers have paid enough money into Social Security to be insured for retirement and survivors’ benefits.            

Disability Insurance Benefits

Disability Insurance was designed to provide disabled workers with income.  

How do prove that you are disabled?

  • You have a physical or mental impairment that can be shown through medical evidence.
  • You are unable to do ANY sort of work, not just your own past work, on a full-time basis.  (There are limited exceptions to this rule, depending on your age, education, and transferable skills.)
  • You are unable to work for 12 consecutive months or more at a level of substantial gainful activity (In 2008, this means you are unable to earn more than $940 per month).

Unlike an auto accident or a worker’s compensation claim, a Social Security Disability benefits claim includes a person’s entire life history, meaning it will take into account any physical injury you have sustained, but also any unrelated, pre-existing medical conditions, education level, skill level, and psychiatric conditions.   

What is Considered a Disabling Condition for Social Security Benefits?

  • Arthritis
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Accident (or stroke)
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Disorders of the Spine
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease

This is not an exhaustive list, but if you suffer from any of these symptoms, be sure to seek medical attention immediately and consult with a San Diego Social Security attorney. And remember, you can receive disability benefits even though you have been able to return to work.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program designed to provide financial assistance to those who are ineligible for Disability Insurance Benefits or who are only eligible for a small amount, but who are nevertheless unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment, and who have very limited income and financial resources.   In order to be eligible to receive these benefits, your household income must be very low and the value of your total assets (not including your house or car) must not exceed $2,000 if you are single or $3,000 if you are married. You must also prove that you are disabled.    

Find an Experienced Social Security Attorney

Choosing a Social Security attorney is no easy task.  Many attorneys claim to be Social Security lawyers, but they don’t have the experience that we have.  Our lawyers are experienced and have successfully prosecuted the interests of our clients before the Social Security Administration appeals hearing.  If you or a loved one has been denied your Social Security benefits, please contact our law office for a free consultation.

San Diego Workers Compensation Attorney

If you are a San Diego resident that has been injured on the job, you deserve to get full coverage of your medical costs and lost wages, right? WRONG. Recent changes in the California Workers Compensation Act now limit the scope and depth of your benefits.

Though the act protects workers and guarantees them compensation without having to go through the time-consuming and costly court system, many injured victims will still have to battle it out with their employers and workers compensation insurers. It is best to have an experienced and capable San Diego workers compensation attorney by your side to handle this dispute and get the money you need and deserve. Contact us for a free consultation.

San Diego Supplemental Security Income Lawyers

Every year, hundreds of mentally or physically impaired San Diego County residents reach a point in their lives when they can no longer provide for themselves or their families. Though they may not have paid enough Social Security taxes through income withholding, their household income meets the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) limits. However, out of the 10 that apply, approximately seven will initially get rejected.

Fortunately, the experienced Supplemental Security Income (SSI) lawyers can make this process go quickly and smoothly. Our attorneys are work for your best interest and will get you the benefits you need and deserve. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.

Filing for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Can be a Long and Drawn-Out Process, but the San Diego Lawyers Will Focus on Getting You the Benefits You Need and Deserve.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program, funded by general tax revenues, that provides those who have little to no income, and who are blind, elderly, or disabled to receive monthly benefit payments from the Social Security Administration to cover basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing.

What makes you eligible for SSI?

  • Your household income meets the SSI income limits. Your household income and value of your assets (not including your house and car) is less than $2,000 if you are single or $3,000 if you are married. 
  • You are unable to work for 12 consecutive months or more at a level of substantial gainful activity and cannot earn more than $1,000 a month. 
  • You have a physical or mental impairment that can be shown through medical evidence.
  • You are unable to do ANY sort of work, not just your own past work, on a full-time basis. (There are limited exceptions to this rule, depending on your age, education, and transferable skills.)

You can also use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool on the Social Security Administration (SSA) website to find out if you are eligible.

NOTE: SSI is also available to children with medical conditions that the SSA consider disabilities. To determine the monthly payments, the bureau looks at the parents’ income. 

How Do I Apply For Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

To apply for SSI benefits, contact your local Social Security Office and state that you wish to file an application.  There are three ways that you can do this:

  • File for disability online,
  • Call the Social Security office to set up an appointment to apply
  • Walk into the Social Security office without an appointment

You should apply for SSI AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. If you wait too long, you may lose your benefits. Also, the SSA does not pay for periods earlier than your application effective date. The process of filing can take several months.

How Much Will I Receive?

The amount of your SSI benefit depends on the amount of your household income and on which state you live in. Though, the basic SSI payment is the same nationwide. If your household income rises, your SSI entitlement will decrease. 

Effective January 2009 through 2010, the basic SSI payment for an eligible individual was $674 per month and $1,011 per month for an eligible couple.

Fortunately, the state of California adds money to the basic SSI payment. Your monthly payment will include the federal SSI payment and the supplement from California.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) Denied My Claim. Can I appeal?

YES. The SSA denies approximately 75% of claims every year. Many applicants simply give up after making their initial claim. DON’T GIVE UP. With an experienced social security attorney by your side, you may still be able to get your claim approved.

Find an Experienced Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Lawyer

Filing an SSI claim can be a confusing and lengthy process. In addition, there is a high probability that the claim will be denied. Fortunately, the experienced Supplemental Security Income (SSI) lawyers can make this process go quickly and smoothly. Our attorneys will work hard  to get you the benefits you need and deserve. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.