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.

San Diego Work Injury Attorney

Different jobs carry different risks. It can be as safe as sitting in an air-conditioned office behind a computer or as dangerous as doing construction on the roof of a 30-story open-aired building, being thrashed by a storm.

It is your employer’s responsibility to keep you safe on the job or cover your expenses if you get injured. Though the California Workers Compensation Act limits the types of benefits you can receive, you may still be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit depending on the situation. This system can overlap and become very complicated. With an experienced San Diego work injury attorney by your side, you can get the most from your accident.

It is Your Employer’s Responsibility to Keep You Safe on the Job or Cover Your Expenses if you Get Injured. In Addition, Other Drivers and Employees of Other Businesses May Also be Responsible for Your Injuries. Filing a Claim can be Difficult. An Experienced Attorney Can Help.

Thousands of Americans and residents of San Diego are hurt in work-related accidents every year. In a 2009 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 3.3 million injuries were reported, and more than half were construction workers. Recent changes in laws governing employees in California have restricted the types of reparation available to injured victims. 

Depending on the circumstances of the incident, injured employees may be entitled to benefits from a worker’s compensation claim, personal injury lawsuit, or both.   

Workers Compensation 

The California Workers Compensation Act states that businesses in San Diego are held liable if an employee is injured on the job and must provide medical compensation and income replacement.   

However, this system is a double-edged sword. Though employees do not have to prove fault to get compensation from their employers, the insurance coverage that they do get often does not provide enough benefits for injured workers.     

Personal Injury – Third-Party Damages  

However, in many situations, injured workers can pursue both a worker’s compensation claim and a lawsuit against a responsible third-party responsible, if it is not the employer.   

For example, if an employee is injured is hit on the job while driving a company car, the injured employee may be entitled to a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the other vehicle. While pursuing this claim, he is still able to receive benefits through his employer’s workers compensation insurance. Pursuing a third-party claim can result in added compensation to the injured worker. 

This is a problematic situation because the compensation that an employee receives from a third-party claim may negate a portion of the benefits from the workers compensation insurance.   

Contact a Work Injury Attorney  

With an experienced and capable San Diego work injury lawyer by your side, these issues can be resolved. Our attorneys will get the maximum amount of money for you to pay for the damages inflicted on you by the work accident and resolve issues between the third party, employer, and you.

San Diego Social Security Disability Lawyers


Every year, hundreds of San Diego County residents suffer a condition that prevents them from being able to work and provide for themselves and their families. The process from filing to receiving a response can take months. Roughly 7 out of 10 applicants are initially denied, even though they have paid enough money in their Social Security taxes and can prove that they are disabled.

Fortunately, the expert Social Security Disability 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.

The Process of Filing an SSD Claim Can Be Long and Complicated. The Experienced San Diego SSD Lawyers Will Work For Your Best Interest and Get You the Benefits You Need and Deserve.

Social Security Disability (SSD) Insurance is a federal program that pays income replacement benefits to those who are unable to earn a living because of a severe physical or mental impairment. Disability benefits are available to those who have paid enough Social Security taxes, through income withholding, and can prove that they are disabled. Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers, widow(er)s, or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible.

What makes you eligible for SSD?

  • Whether you have enough work credits to qualify for disability benefits
  • 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).

As a general rule, you probably have enough work credits to qualify for SSD if you worked for five out of the last 10 years. 

When and How Do I Apply For Social Security Disability (SSD)?

You should apply as soon as possible after you find out your medical condition will last 12 months or longer and prevents you from returning to work.

To apply for SSD 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 SSD 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 SSD benefit is based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. The bureau looks at how long and how much you have paid into the Social Security system. If you don’t have an estimate, you can use the Benefits Calculator listed on the SSA website. 

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. 

I Was Just Approved for SSD. When do My Benefits Start?

If you have been approved, your first Social Security benefit will be paid for the sixth full month after the date the SSA finds that your disability began. If your condition improves and you are able to return to work, you are still able to receive benefits for the time that you were unable to work if it exceeds 12 months. This is called a “closed period of disability.”

Filing an SSD claim can be a confusing and lengthy process. In addition, there is a high probability that the claim will be denied. Fortunately, the experienced Social Security Disability lawyers can make this process go quickly and smoothly. Our attorneys are working for your best interest and will get you the benefits you need and deserve. Contact our law office to schedule your free consultation.

Florida Woman Killed in Santa Barbara Pedestrian Accident

Garcia Flores, 47-years old of Florida, was killed in a Santa Barbara pedestrian accident at Coast Village Road on May 27, 2010. Flores was walking across an intersection when she was hit by a mini-van.

The mini-van was driven by a 17 -year old driver who lost control of his van and struck Flores badly, throwing her more than a few feet away towards the intersection of Coast Village and Butterfly Lane, where she died immediately. The teenager told Police Officers that his van suddenly started to veer to the right, and when he tried hitting the brakes, they didn’t work. He says that is when the van jumped the curb and hit Flores. Officials found drug paraphernalia and marijuana in the teen’s minivan, but it is not certain that he was under influence of any drug or alcohol.

We offer our condolences to Flores’s family and friends for such an irreparable and tragic loss. If the teenager is found to be under the influence of drugs, we hope that he is prosecuted as an adult to the fullest extent of the law. Regardless, if the accident was caused by the teenage driver, we hope that Flores’s family consults with a personal injury attorney and obtains key advice as to how to balance the scales of justice in this case. They will never be made whole—Flores is dead and cannot be brought back—but the civil justice system can at least help minimize some of the loss.

San Diego Boating Accident Lawyer

With the Pacific Ocean as its front yard, San Diego is a boating paradise. Residents and tourists can take out their own boat or rent one at the many shops surrounding San Diego’s waterways, which include San Diego Bay, De Anza Cove and Fiesta Island in Mission Bay, El Capitan, Lake Jennings, Lake Murray, and Lake Poway. Though, despite the notion that it is a leisurely activity, there are a lot of risks and regulations that boaters must understand before they get into the water.

Unfortunately, many people who decide to set sail disregard these regulations and put their lives and the lives of other boaters in jeopardy. In 2009, the California Department of Boating and Waterways (CDBW) reported roughly 2,500 accidents. 40% of those resulted in injuries and deaths.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident because of someone else’s negligence, contact one of the knowledgeable San Diego boating accident attorneys. We will work to get you the compensation you need and deserve. Call our law office.

San Diego Water Ski Accident Lawyers

Water skiing is an exciting sport; but like all sports, it comes with a lot of risks. At speeds of up to 50 mph, water skiers must be extremely aware of other boats, swimmers, and any obstacle, which can cause them to lose balance and crash into the water. Injuries happen a lot more often than expected when an operator fails to make sure that a water skier has the proper experience and safety equipment and is capable of making a responsible judgment on the water. Operators of water ski tow boats carry a lot of responsibility when it comes to safety.

If you are injured in a water ski accident that was not your fault, contact the expert San Diego water ski injury attorneys immediately to get compensation.

Water Ski Injuries Can Happen When an Operator Fails to Make Sure that a Water Skier has the Proper Experience and Safety Equipment and is Capable of Making Responsible Judgment on the Water.

Waterskiing, in particular, has been growing in popularity in recent years in San Diego amongst the water sports. Though, with only one lake in San Diego offering the sport-El Capitan- waterways tend to get crowded and therefore very dangerous for water skiers. It is no surprise that water ski injuries have steadily increased throughout the years. 

As with other boating and water sports, there are both federal and state laws that regulate water skiing. The American Water Ski Association (AWSA) law, as well as California law, requires there to be a least two persons aboard a boat towing a water skier: the operator, and an observer 12 years of age or older. 

Water Ski Roles

Skier  

Be alert for anything that may come between you and the boat, i.e. cross-wakes, swimmers, rafters, etc.   

Boat Operator  

Boat operators must be extremely cautious when pulling a water skier. A skier’s safety falls into their hands. They are responsible for checking for a clear path, freeing the towline, accelerating at a steady speed, and making safe turns. When a skier falls, boat operators must return immediately. Shut the engine off so the skier is not in danger from the propeller and approach with caution on the side of the boat. Observer In addition to relaying the signals back-and-forth from the skier and the boat operator, the observer is responsible for watching the skier at all times. Statewide boating accident statistics indicate an alarming increase in water-ski accidents resulting from improper lookout.  

Waterskiing Safety Tips

  • ALWAYS wear a life jacket. 
  • Check your towline before each skier begins. 
  • Maintain a reasonable, safe speed at all times. 
  • If you are “dropping a ski,” release it near a dock where it can be retrieved immediately out of the way of other boats and skiers. 
  • Steer clear of docks and fishing boats. 
  • Do not pass the towline in between other vessels. 
  • Alcohol and other drug usage is prohibited.    

If you are the skier, learn the proper hand signals for communicating with the boat operator. Water skiing is an extremely dangerous sport, especially for someone who is inexperienced and unfamiliar with proper procedure.  Water skiers can be injured by boat hardware and emissions, ski equipment, obstacles, or collisions with other vessels.

Contact a Water Ski Injury Attorney

If you or someone you know was injured or killed in a water skiing accident in San Diego due to someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to money damages.  Contact an experienced water skiing injury attorney immediately. Our lawyers will help you get the compensation you need to cover your medical costs and lost wages. 

San Diego Boat Accident Lawyers

On a sunny holiday weekend, it is the perfect time to break out the barbeque grill and sail around the San Diego Bay or one of the many reservoirs surrounding San Diego. It is so relaxing to spend some quality time with the friends and family on the calm waters. Though, with about 900,000 vessels registered in California, these areas tend to get congested. What was supposed to be a boater’s paradise may turn into a nightmare when boat operators and passengers do not follow California boating regulations. Injuries and accidents happen because of this negligence.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, the San Diego boat accident lawyers can help you seek the damages you are entitled to for your injuries. Contact us to set up a free consultation.

San Diego Maritime Injury Lawyers

Every year, thousands of vessels come in and out of the San Diego Port’s two marine cargo facilities and one cruise facility, primarily because of its prime location in between Los Angeles and Mexico. The many maritime workers and dock laborers that work in and on these vessels help to make this process run smoothly. Though, it is a high-risk job and accidents happen because of other people’s negligence.

If you work in or on a vessel and are injured during the job, you will be covered by the Jones Act or the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). Because the laws governing maritime workers and dock laborers are tricky, you should contact an experienced San Diego maritime accident lawyer immediately. Our lawyers will maximize your chances for a successful recovery in a maritime accident lawsuit. Contact our law office for more information.

San Diego Longshore Act Benefits Lawyers

There are thousands of commercial vessels that come into the Port of San Diego every year, making it easily accessible for send and receive cargo, as well as a popular place to set sail one of the many cruise ships. Hence, the men and women who work along the docks put their lives on the line to make sure that the ships that come in and out of this port run smoothly and that the port stays uncongested, despite any dangerous work conditions that were overlooked.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), or Longshore Act, is designed to protect dockworkers that are injured or killed while performing their duties on land. Because of the complicated laws that constrain longshoremen, filing a compensation claim can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Fortunately, the San Diego disability lawyer can help you get the benefits you need and deserve.

The Laws Governing Dock Laborers Are Extremely Complicated. If You Are Injured Either at Sea, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Entitles You To Benefits. Our LHWCA Lawyers are Here to Help.

The Port of San Diego is a frequent stopping ground for cargo and cruise ships because of its proximity to open ocean and lack of shipping congestion. Thousands of workers line these docks every year to make sure the ships the come in and out of these ports operate properly. Though there are high standards for the upkeep of these docks, sometimes accidents happen.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), commonly referred to as the Longshore Act, was designed as a compensation plan that covers maritime workers or dock workers who are disabled or killed in a land-based injury.

Longshoreman and dockworkers usually do not qualify as seamen and therefore cannot receive benefits of the Jones Act.

Who is Covered?

  • Longshoremen
  • Harbor Workers
  • Ship repairmen
  • Shipbuilder
  • Ship-breakers

What Benefits are Available?

  • Medical – includes all medical expenses and the cost of travel to receive treatment. It also includes the cost of rehabilitation.
  • Disability –payable for disabilities that are permanent total, temporary total, permanent partial, or temporary partial. Compensation is paid at a lesser rate if the employee is only partially disabled. (Disability means that the maritime worker cannot earn wages while injured.)
  • Death-paid to a widow or widower or other eligible survivors if the injury causes the employee’s death. Reasonable funeral expenses are paid, up to a maximum of $3,000.

Maritime workers and longshoremen can also claim coverage for illnesses caused by certain jobs. For example, For example, workers exposed to toxic chemicals in the course of their job may claim benefits for chronic conditions caused by illnesses linked to toxic exposure.

How Much Will I Receive?

The minimum rate of compensation is 50 percent of the national average weekly wage or the employee’s full wage if less. The maximum compensation rate is 200 percent of the current national average weekly wage as determined by the Secretary of Labor.

What Should I Do If I am Injured?

  1. Notify your employer immediately. Written notice of your injury or death must be given within 30 days of the accident.
  2. Seek medical assistance for your injury.
  3. File a written claim for compensation within one year after the date of injury. A claim for survivor benefits must be filed within one year after the date of death. The time for filing claims in certain occupational disease cases has been extended to two years

It is important to act quickly; otherwise, you may lose your chance to get the compensation you deserve. The laws governing longshoremen and harbor workers are extremely complicated and often require a qualified, experienced, and knowledgeable maritime attorney.

San Diego Construction Site Injury

Working at a construction site is one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. In a 2009 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 3.3 million injuries were reported, and more than half were construction workers. Though construction workers are trained on basic safety precautions for handling dangerous equipment, accidents still happen. Whether the injured victim is partially or totally at fault, he is still entitled to workers compensation benefits.

Injuries that Occur on Construction Sites are Tragic and Deadly. A Trained Lawyer Can Make Sure You Get the Compensation You are Entitled To.

Thousands of California and San Diego construction workers are injured every year on construction sites, many of them fatal. Although every construction worker is trained in basic safety precautions for handling dangerous equipment, accidents still happen.

 

In a 2009 report by the Bureau of Labor, workers on construction sites incurred the most fatal injuries of any industry in the private sector in 2009. Statistics indicate that 1,000 of these employees are killed each year while on the job. Of these, over a third will result from construction site falls.   

Most Common Types of Accidents on Construction Site:

  • Falls
  • Crane accidents
  • Scaffolding accidents
  • Being run over by operating equipment
  • Electrical accidents
  • Trench collapses
  • Fires and Explosions
  • Welding accidents

These accidents are tragic and deadly and can be completely avoided through effective safety measures. Regardless of whether the worker is partially or totally at fault, he is still entitled to benefits.   

How Much Money Will I Get?

The California Workers Compensation Act states that if you are an employee injured on the job, you are entitled to receiving benefits that cover your medical costs and lost wages. Though, there are limitations on these benefits. In most cases, workers’ compensation often does not provide enough money to cover the damages suffered by the worker.

However, the amount of compensation that the injured worker gets depends on if he is an independent contractor, which contractor is responsible for workers’ compensation insurance coverage, and whether there is a third party liability claim. If there is a third-party liability claim, the injured victim may be entitled to more compensation and can sue for both workers compensation and personal injury.   

Contact a Construction Site Accident Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been injured on a construction site, the experienced San Diego construction site injury attorneys will make sure you get compensated for your medical costs and lost wages. We understand that injuries suffered at construction sites can be severe and life-altering and will get you the benefits you are entitled to.

San Diego Jones Act Benefits Lawyers

Every job has its risks but some are greater than others. There is no doubt that commercial seamen and fishermen have faced many more unpredictable risks including harsh weather conditions, long work hours, and clashing seas. That is why it is extremely important to keep the vessel properly maintained and to keep the seamen onboard safe under extreme circumstances. But sometimes, accidents happen.

The Jones Act of 1920 was passed to protect seamen injured or killed while working at sea and gave them the ability to obtain fair compensation for the negligence of the shipowner. Though the laws abiding seamen are somewhat complicated and the process of filing a claim can be difficult. Fortunately, our San Diego Jones Act benefits attorneys focus on getting the benefits you and your family need and deserve.

The Laws Governing Seamen and Commercial Fishermen Are Extremely Complicated. If You Are Injured Either at Sea, the Jones Act Entitles You To Benefits. Call Our San Diego Jones Act Attorneys for Help.

Commercial seamen and fishermen face sever unpredictable risks that make their jobs one of the most dangerous out there. Hundreds of accidents occur every year in the San Diego port.   Because of harsh weather conditions, long and exhausting work hours, and high seas, it becomes especially important to keep the decks and the vessel maintained properly.

The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 was passed to protect seamen who are injured or killed while working on a vessel in navigable waters. Jones Act is a fault-based system, and you must prove negligence to get compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act also covers injuries caused due to an employer’s negligence and vessels that are unseaworthy. A vessel is unseaworthy if it is not properly built or maintained, thereby creating an unsafe working environment for the crew. Employers may also be negligent, or careless, for failing to provide reasonably safe working conditions for their crewmembers.

Who is covered?

To qualify for Jones Act benefits, a seaman must:

  • Work at sea more or less permanently – spent at least 30% of the time on a vessel at the time the injury occurred. This is the definition the court will look at.
  • Be assigned to a vessel or fleet of vessels (i.e. cargo boats, tug boats, crew boats, drilling ships, transportation vessels, and supply boats) Other vessels may also fall under this category, depending on what the vessel is used for. ·
  • Work on a vessel that is still in navigation. ‘In navigation’ means that a vessel is still capable of moving about with a few modifications.

What benefits does the Jones Act cover?

Under the Jones Act, the injured seaman is eligible for financial compensation for a variety of damages, including “maintenance” and “cure.”

The Jones Act covers:

  • Maintenance: Living expenses while off work due to injury
  • Cure: Medical treatment, medications, and rehabilitation
  • Vocational training for a new job if an injury prevents the seaman from returning to the previous job
What Should I Do If I am Injured?  
  1.  Notify your employer immediately and seek medical assistance for your injury.
  2.  Give written notice of your injury or death to your employer within 30 days of the accident.
  3.  File a written claim for compensation within one year after the date of injury.

A claim for survivor benefits must be filed within one year after the date of death. The time for filing claims in certain occupational disease cases has been extended to two years

It is important to act quickly; otherwise, you may lose your chance to get the compensation you deserve.

San Diego Personal Watercraft Injury Lawyer

In the early 1990’s, jet skiing reached its peak in popularity. Today, it still is a widespread trend among all age groups, because of its affordability and speed. Though it is advertised as being easily handled, most people who ride a jet ski for the first time are unaware of how to maneuver a personal watercraft or PWC. Jet skis, unlike other vessels or vehicles, do not have a braking mechanism. As a result, many people are injured every year because of their lack of steering knowledge. A jet skier is 7.2 times more likely to get hurt than a motor boater and 31.6 times more likely than a canoer or kayaker, according to a survey commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard and published in 2002.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a jet ski or PWC, accident because of someone else’s carelessness, contact a San Diego PWC injury attorney immediately to get the money damages you deserve. Our lawyers are dedicated to helping you seek reparations for your injuries.

Jet Skis Do Not Have A Braking Mechanism. As a Result, Many People Are Injured Every Year Because of Their Lack of Steering Knowledge.

Personal watercraft, also known as PWCs, has become a popular pastime in the warm San Diego waterways. PWCs are small, fast, easily handled, affordable, and their propulsion systems do not have external propellers, making them safer for swimmers and wildlife. However, accidents are common. Though jet skis are no more dangerous than any other watercraft, it is the way that people operate them that causes many injuries.

Jet ski riders have a high risk of being ejected and drowning. Research from the University of Florida shows that jet ski accidents cause greater injuries than other boating mishaps. The study found that patients sustain more closed-head injuries, trauma to the chest and abdominal injury riding jet skis.   

Crashes with Jet Skiers Often Produce:

  • Head injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Facial lacerations
  • Fractured extremities
  • Burns
  • Hypothermia

All of these types of injuries tend to be serious and may induce unconsciousness and end in drowning. What adds to this cycle is the fact that jet ski injuries are one of the least publicized dangers in the recreational boating industry. Hence, most people do not properly educate themselves on the correct way to operate a jet ski because they are unaware of the dangers.   

Why Are Jet Ski Accidents So Common?

Operator errors can be deadly because jet skis are designed to achieve speeds of more than 60mph. This may result in a loss of stability and increased risk of flipping over.

However, one of the most compounding reasons for jet ski accidents is that they do not have a braking mechanism. Instead, the operator must keep the throttle down and actually accelerate to turn quickly and avoid hazards in the water.

Though, the natural tendency of most operators is to slow down when facing a hazard. Because this reduces the thrust from the jet nozzle, the operator often cannot turn the craft in time, resulting in a collision with another boat, a dock, a swimmer or the shoreline.   

Contact a Jet Ski Accident Attorney

A jet skier is 7.2 times more likely to get hurt than a motor boater and 31.6 times more likely than a canoer or kayaker, according to a survey commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard and published in 2002.

Pedestrian Injured In Riverside County Hit-And-Run Car Accident

A pedestrian in his 50s suffered serious injuries when he was struck by an unidentified SUV on May 18, 2011, around 12:35 a.m. in the Homeland area of Hemet. According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the pedestrian was walking across Highway 74 when an SUV struck him. The SUV was described as a dark-colored Ford Expedition or Lincoln Navigator with chrome rims, estimated to be a 2002 to 2006 model. Riverside police are searching for the driver.

The pedestrian suffered major injuries and was immediately transported to Riverside County Regional Medical Center for medical treatment. It is absolutely inhuman that the SUV driver did not stop and fled from the accident scene, leaving the elderly pedestrian unattended.

Leaving the scene of an accident 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.”

Morally, the SUV driver should have remained at the accident scene and waited until authorities got there.

The pedestrian’s family members should immediately seek counsel from an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer serving Riverside County to learn about their legal rights and obtain fair compensation to cover treatment, medical and hospitalization costs, and other accident-related damages. A Riverside County pedestrian lawyer would assure that the at-fault SUV driver is apprehended and brought to justice.

Our sincere prayers go out to the injured pedestrian and we hope that he recovers quickly.

Women Injured In San Clemente Hit & Run Accident

A woman was injured in a tragic Orange County pedestrian accident on May 14, 2010, at El Camino Real and Avenida Pico at San Clemente, when she was struck by a car while she crossing the street. Officials reported that the car driver, who was believed to be under the influence of alcohol, hit her and fled from the scene.

The victim was immediately taken to a local hospital where she received medical treatment for her injuries. Police have described the hit and run vehicle as a Saab, but no one has been taken into custody as yet.

We hope that the driver is caught and brought to justice. There are few things worse than a person who causes a serious injury and flees the scene of the accident without helping the person they injured. Before the accident, the driver was facing a driving under the influence criminal charge. Now, after leaving the scene, the driver is now about to be charged with felony drunk driving and hit-and-run with injury. California Vehicle Code 20001(a) requires those responsible for causing an accident to remain at the scene until authorities arrive, to exchange insurance and contact information, and to assist the injury victim.

Explosion Rattles San Diego Construction Site; Injures 14

On Tuesday, the windows of our office rattled. It wasn’t an earthquake, but it seemed like it was from an explosion. Only later on that afternoon did we discover that an explosion had occurred at the nearby Downtown San Diego Hilton, injuring 14.

Original thoughts turned to whether the incident was a terrorist attack. Then to whether a boiler in the hotel had exploded. Now it appears that the accident was caused by a natural gas leak inside the hotel.

Of the 14 injured, three were critically injured and were placed into medically induced comas. These workers sustained burns from 20-35 percent of their bodies, including some areas of third-degree burns. They were taken to the UCSD Medical Center burn unit for treatment.

Construction accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries, leading either to permanent injuries or death. In those cases, an injured worker or his family needs an experienced group of lawyers to navigate through the Workers’ Compensation and Civil systems in order to maximize the recovery that will provide for that worker and his family for the remainder of his life.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a construction accident, please contact us for a free consultation.

Boy Hit in Encinitas Bicycle Accident Dies from Injuries

An Encinitas boy who was struck by a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle more than two weeks ago is now dead, as reported by the Medical Examiner’s Office. The 11-year-old boy, Robert Franklin Thompson, had been on life support since his May 6 accident at Rady’s Children’s Hospital, and passed away Friday at 3:30 p.m.

The boy had been on a motorized “pocket bike”, which resembles a small scooter but can go up to 15 mph. He had been crossing the 1000 block of Double LL Ranch Road, a private, gated road in Olivenhain, when this fatal San Diego area accident took place. Witnesses reported to San Diego police that the boy was coming out of a driveway and went directly into the path on the oncoming car. The sheriff’s report had no indication of excessive speed or alcohol being involved with the accident.

Injured San Diego Workers May Receive Greater Disability Payments

In 2004, in the face of ever increasing insurance premiums, the California passed extensive Workers’ Compensation reform. One of the targets of the reforms was to reduce permanent disability payments to workers who had been permanently injured at work.

The result of the reforms was that disability payments to injured workers were slashed by at least 50%, insurance premiums for employers dropped dramatically, and the insurance carriers reported their highest profits in 30 years. The losers were clearly injured employees.

Now, after vetoing proposed permanent disability payment increases the last 2 years, Governor Schwarzenegger now appears willing to increase benefits to injured workers by at least 16%.

Increased benefits are definitely needed. According to the political action group, Voters Injured at Work, Californians are being shortchanged:

According to one group, Voters Injured at Work, people who lose a foot get $28,820, compared with the national average of $80,976. A lost eye fetches $17,714 versus $74,558. And deafness in one ear is worth $5,280, 83% below the national average.

Honestly, an increase of 16% is a good start, but it is not enough. The 2004 Reforms–and some reform was needed to reign in premium costs–went too far and left injured workers without a way to be compensated for life-changing injuries. Remember, the Workers’ Compensation system exists because more than a century ago, the states took away the right of injured workers to sue their employers and coworkers in civil court for workplace injuries.

If the Workers’ Compensation system doesn’t provide adequate compensation, injured workers are left without any recourse and assistance.

Orange County Girl Injured In Vicious Dog Bite Incident

A dog bite attack in Lake Forest on May 19, 2010, left a six-year-old girl seriously injured. The dog, which was described as a pit bull mix or a boxer, attacked the girl when she was playing in the driveway of her home. According to police, the dog pushed the child to the ground and began biting her fiercely.

The mother of the girl was coming out of her house with her infant child and her 14-year old son at the time of the attack. Despite her efforts and the help of a neighbor, the dog would not let go until her older brother jumped on the dog and punched it until it let go. The mother took all her children inside only to emerge with a handgun and began chasing the attacking animal. She chased the dog and shot it while it was on the porch. The dog survived the gunshot, but the girl sustained serious personal injuries including several bites on her leg, body, and face. The Police are currently looking for the dog owner to investigate why the dog was acting violently and why he was off leash and unsupervised at the time of the accident.

We hope that the young girl comes out of the shock and pain that this vicious attack and is not left with severe physical and emotional scars. Dog bite attacks can be extremely traumatic to anyone—people are hardwired to generally like dogs and it is scary when they turn and injure a person. However, as traumatic as it is for an adult, it is infinitely more traumatic for a child. Dog owners need to know that under California’s Dog Bite Statute, they are strictly liable for any damage or injuries that their dog causes to another person provided that the injury victim is lawfully on the property at the time of the attack.

San Diego Man Awarded $5.7 Million for Undiagnosed Skin Cancer

It’s always nice to trumpet the accomplishments of friends and their deserving clients.

Last Friday, a San Diego Superior Court jury awarded $5.7 million verdict to a bedridden San Diego man who claimed a doctor failed to diagnose his skin cancer. Under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, the award will be reduced to $1.9 million. The 1975 state act requires the court to cut general damages to $250,000 in medical-malpractice cases. It is the largest medical malpractice award in the state this year. The verdict came after a four week trial.

The jury agreed that the plaintiff, Regis M. Reilly, 53, suffered from life-threatening skin cancer after dermatologist James C. Powers failed to remove cysts on the right shoulder that eventually metastasized into cancer.

Reilly’s attorney, Denise Asher, said she was pleased by the size of the award because it represented a sum large enough to offset the trauma caused by the misdiagnosis.

“When you see pictures of the cysts, they are football-sized and deep in the tissue,” Asher said. Reilly went through a series of surgeries to remove the cancerous tissue. His wife, Karen Reilly, served as his nurse during the multiple surgeries and radiation treatments.

Reilly is confined to his home under around-the-clock medical care and had to be hospitalized during trial.

Good job, Denise.

Study Suggests Trauma Center Care May Reduce Long-Term Disability

Care at a specialized trauma center immediately after a serious accident may reduce the number or severity of permanent disabilities, according to a recent article in The Chicago Tribune.

The article examined studies performed in Australia and other countries on the death and disability rates of patients treated in various kinds of trauma center or emergency settings. The studies showed that patients treated at Level I trauma centers were 25 percent less likely to die after a serious accident than patients treated at other types of emergency or urgent care centers. Level I trauma centers are required to have a certain number of physicians on call at all times, specializing in various types of medical care often needed in the case of serious injury.

Another study examined the long-term disability outcomes of patients who were treated in systems that coordinated emergency care, long-term care, and government services. The study found that when services worked together, patients were better able to get the care they needed when they needed it – whether that was emergency care or rehabilitation and therapy during the healing process. Patients who had better access to needed care were able to make more complete recoveries from their injuries, and some even suffered no long-term disabilities.

Accidents of all kinds can cause serious injuries, with many often resulting in permanent disabilities or even death. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car crash, on-the-job incident, or similar accident, the knowledgeable disability attorneys at Disability Help Group in Arizona can help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

Record San Diego Roll-Over Verdict To Be Reviewed….Again (x3)

Know all those HUGE, “outrageous” verdicts that tort reformers cite as proof that juries are out of their minds and are too plaintiff-friendly? This is the story of one such verdict and, unfortunately, it is not unusual.

In 2004, a San Diego jury awarded Benetta Buell-Wilson and her family nearly $370 Million dollars in a Ford Explorer roll-over auto accident case. Now, the Supreme Court will review the verdict and possibly reduce it. The Supreme Court will be the third court to do so after the trial court and the Fourth District Court of Appeals both reduced the verdict from $122 Million in compensatory damages and $246 Million in punitive damages to $27.6 Million (compensatory) and $55 Million (punitive).

What happened to Benetta?:

On a January afternoon in 2002, Buell-Wilson was driving at a normal speed on Interstate 8 east of San Diego when she swerved to avoid a metal object that had fallen off a motor home. Her 1997 Explorer fishtailed and rolled over four times. Part of its roof was crushed, and Buell-Wilson suffered a severe spinal injury.

As a result of the accident, Benetta is now paralyzed and confined to a wheel-chair.

Now, Ford had previously won 13 trials without a loss. And they weren’t shy about sharing that fact during litigation in the hopes of forcing Benetta and her husband to settle.

Plaintiffs were 0-13 and Benetta and her attorneys were risking a huge disappointment. These cases are not cheap to try. I’ve heard some estimates that Benetta’s attorneys paid upwards of $750,000 to experts to prepare and try the case. And if they lost, the lawyers would lose that investment, Benetta would be forced to pay for all future care by herself out of her own pocket, and, worse still, Benetta would be forced to pay Ford’s litigation costs.

Given all this risk, and the evidence that Ford knew of problems with its’ vehicles for roof crush and roll over propensity, is $370 Million dollars outrageous to pay for a permanent injury and to punish Ford for its’ callousness?

In fact, the problem had been well-documented for years:

No recall has ever been ordered for these vehicles. How many are still out on the road? How many more roof crush injuries or deaths will still occur? Will Ford EVER be forced to pay enough that they will consider the safety of their customers?

The Supreme Court should uphold the reduced verdict. Ford is already emboldened by the two prior reductions. No need to make it worse for consumer safety.

Buena Park Pedestrian Accident Injures Orange County Teen

A teenager was injured on Tuesday in Buena Park when he was stuck by a 1996 Ford Ranger. The injuries are believed to be minor to moderate. The teenager sustained some cuts and abrasions and was treated at a local emergency and discharged.

The accident happened at Knott Avenue south of the 91 Freeway around at 9:12 p.m. Buena Park Sgt. Bill Kohanek stated that the 17-year old teenager was running towards a van parked on Knott Avenue that was about to pick him up. He was accompanied by another teen and both boys were returning to the van after doing door-to-door sales. The other teen made it to the van but the second boy was struck by the truck. The van was scheduled to take them home somewhere in the Los Angeles area.

Police are still investigating the pedestrian accident.

Our office wishes the teen boy a speedy recovery and a healthy life ahead. We should all be more careful and aware of our surroundings while walking on the road as we are more vulnerable to injuries from drivers who may not be looking out for pedestrians or bicyclists. Drivers should also drive slow and carefully in residential and highly populated areas.

San Diego Consumers Ripped Off by Baskin Robbins; $491K in Fines Paid

Last week, the San Diego District Attorney and California Attorney General settled a consumer protection lawsuit against Baskin Robbins from the company’s selling of hand-packed, pint sized containers of ice cream.

Baskin Robbins agreed to pay over $491,000 in fines and costs.

Inspections of 188 locations in 29 different counties found that 83% of all hand packed pint sized ice cream packages were underweight by approximately 4 ounces, or 25%.
ice_cream_small.jpeg
I’m not sure what Baskin Robbins pint sized sales are in California, but the company was definitely reaping a significant profit by underselling ice cream to its customers. If a pint of ice cream sells for $3 per pint, Baskin Robbins was collecting $3 for a “pint” that was only worth $2.25.

If you assume that Baskin Robbins sells 10,000 pints per week in California (I don’t know whether this is accurate, but sounds reasonable for a state of 38 million people and a market leading company with approximately 200 locations statewide), Baskin Robbins was reaping an undue profit of $7,500 per week or $30,000 a month. That’s a huge effect from a missing 4 ounces.

Escondido Pedestrian Bridge Opened in North San Diego County

North San Diego County recently saw the unveiling of a pedestrian bridge, to help walkers and bikers traverse Lake Hodges, usually traveled by those going between destinations in Escondido and San Diego.

Many who took this route have long been waiting for an alternate to having to take the busy Interstate 15, which has experienced many accidents and deaths in San Diego. Frank Lary, a cyclist who frequently was forced to take this highway over the lake noted that it was “very uncomfortable. I was always looking back at the cars, seeing people on their cell phones and not paying attention.”

The San Dieguito River Park officially opened the highly anticipated pedestrian path on May 15, 2009, just in time for San Diego’s Bike to Work Day. Having been in the works for about a decade, the 990-foot-long span is not only a slim stress-ribbon bridge, but it is the longest stress-ribbon bridge in the world. The $10.5 million bridge is designed to safely guide cyclists and pedestrians over Lake Hodges and out of the way of automobiles. It is constructed of steel, tensioned steel cable, concrete, and precast concrete panels.

The David Kreitzer Lake Hodges BBicyclePedestrian Bridge, as it has been named, will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. It has benches on two points of its’ long span. Horses and fishing are both banned along the bridge.

Most Likely Areas For Dog Bites in San Diego; Bites by Breed

A recent news story by NBC 7/39 highlights the areas in San Diego where victims are most likely to be bitten, the breeds most likely to bite, the months in which dog bites are most likely to occur, and the typical age of victims.

Not surprisingly, the months when dog bites are most likely to occur are warm-weather months, the most prevalent being July, when people are outside with their dogs enjoying the weather.

Also, not surprisingly, the highest number of reported dog bites come from pit bulls. Not surprisingly because the breed is very popular amongst owners who are either irresponsible or do not have the experience to control a very physical breed like a pit bull. However, the #2 breed–Labrador Retrievers–is a surprise. This breed is particularly popular amongst owners with young children and is known for its’ great temperament. We suspect the placing is due to the sheer number of the breed in San Diego County. As the news story states, any dog can bite at any time depending on the circumstances.

Our office actually gets more calls for the #4 breed, the chihuahua, than any other breed other than the pit bull. In our experience, the chihuahua is a particularly aggressive breed and will lash out at its’ owners and others. There are probably more bites by chihuahuas than the number reported. The saving grace is that, due to the animal’s size, the damage does not tend to be as serious or life-threatening as when a larger breed bites.

Last, the areas where most dog bites occur and the age of the victims raises a great deal of concern. Most dog bites occur in areas where pit bulls and more menacing dogs are popular. Coupled with the fact that most victims are under 10 years old, and this is a recipe for disaster.

Dog owners must take all steps to protect other members of the public from their animals’ aggressive actions. If you or a loved one has been bitten, knocked down, or otherwise injured by a dog, please contact us for an immediate consultation.

San Diego Bike Riders Experience Increase in Theft

A recent rash of bicycle thefts has made the San Diego City Courthouse begin to rethink the way it treats bicycles, including where to lock them. As a high-profile cycling city, San Diego bike riders have ample opportunity and plenty of good weather to commute via bicycle rather than a car. However, due to the volume of, and demand for, bicycles, it is no surprise that thieves target them.

Brienne Thompson was one such victim when she locked up her $1,000 Fuji Roubaix in front of the Hall of Justice while serving jury duty. She even locked her bike with two very secure U-Lock locks, only to emerge from the courthouse to find that both had been cut off. San Diego Sheriff’s Department notes that the problem has “become an epidemic” and are even considering moving those specific bike racks to an area more clearly visible to law enforcement from the Hall of Justice.

The owner of the San Diego Bike shop in Downtown San Diego, Mohammad Karimi, was quoted “Bike theft is very bad in San Diego… with the situation with the economy, it’s more organize — seems to be more happening.” Karimi recommends Kryptonite locks which are great deterrents, and the company also now ensures bikes that use the locks up to $4,500.

San Diego County Bus Crash Injures 11 Children

A school bus accident on the Campo Indian reservation has left eleven children hurt, according to San Diego County’s authorities. State Fire Department spokesperson Mike Mohler said that the bus struck a light pole at approximately 8 a.m. causing the bus to crash. Mohler said that all the eleven children were immediately taken to a local hospital and ten out of them have been released after treating their moderate injuries.

According to the California Highway Patrol, this bus accident occurred in the parking lot of the reservation’s Golden Acorn casino. The reservation is located about forty miles south-east of Downtown San Diego.

Our office wishes for all the injured children to reach a full recovery. It is hard to imagine that the bus driver failed to pay such attention to his job that the bus struck a light pole. One would think that a driver charged with the safety of kids would be more careful while operating a vehicle.

We sincerely hope and pray that none of the injured victims sustain any life-threatening injuries.

Encinitas Man Loses Life in Pedestrian Accident While Trying to Cross El Camino Real

A man from Encinitas lost his life recently when he was hit by a car while attempting to cross El Camino Real. The 46-year-old tried to cross the busy road on a recent evening when he was hit by a Toyota Camry traveling north in the 100 block of El Camino Real, according to witnesses. Investigators are still looking into the case and planning to speak to the driver and examine the vehicle involved in the crash.

The 46-year-old man, who suffered severe injuries in the crash, was rushed by rescue workers to a nearby hospital for treatment. He did not have any identification on him at the time. Unfortunately, hospital staff were unable to save his life; his injuries proved fatal approximately one day after the accident.

Approximately 60 San Diego County residents lose their lives in pedestrian accidents each year, according to the California Department of Public Health. Anywhere from 350 to 500 people are injured in San Diego County pedestrian accidents each year. In recent years, men have been slightly more likely than women to be hit in pedestrian accidents, but women have been slightly more likely to die as a result of their injuries.

The number of pedestrian accidents has decreased slightly in recent years, but motorists should still take care to watch for pedestrians in order to help avoid accidents.

Car accidents can cause serious harm, especially when an unprotected pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist is involved. If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident, a skilled San Diego fatal car accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you need. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

Wheelchair Bound Woman Killed in San Diego Hit-and-Run Car Crash

50-year-old Laurie Susan Whitlow was struck and killed in a severe car accident that took place on May 11, 2012, around 9:05 p.m. at 15000 block of Olde Highway 80, near Flinn Springs Road. According to San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, Whitlow was struck by a dark colored SUV-type vehicle driven by Anthony Wayne Olsen that was headed east as she tried to cross the road. The driver then fled the scene.

Whitlow was thrown from her wheelchair and into lanes of traffic. Whitlow suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the accident scene. Olsen was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.

Leaving the scene of an accident 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.”

The family of a victim killed in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing would be well advised to seek the guidance of an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer, who will stay on top of the official investigation and make sure that the family’s legal rights and best interests are protected.

The family could also file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver seeking compensation for medical and funeral expenses, lost future income, loss of love and companionship, and other related damages.

Our law office sends sincere condolences to the victim’s family and friends.

San Diego Injury Victims: How Not to Perform at a Deposition

Every person I know gets nervous when it is time to sit for a deposition. They worry that they’ll have to deal with the worst imaginable movie deposition with opposing counsel yelling at them, wagging their finger, and calling them a liar.

Very rarely does that ever happen. Most of the time, it is a very simple question and answers session.

Our office instructs clients that there are two simple rules for performing at deposition:
1. Listen carefully and answer directly.
2. Be truthful.

If you follow those rules, you’ll be fine. But here are a few examples of what not to do at a deposition.

First, don’t lose your temper. Don’t rise to the bait.

Second, speak clearly and act……well, sane.

Third, don’t get in a fight with the attorney.

Fourth, don’t act superior…or a jerk

It’s enough to drive court reporters and videographers nuts….or just lame.

Two Injured in Redlands Single-Vehicle Rollover Collision

Two people, both in their mid-40s, suffered serious injuries in a solo-vehicle rollover crash that took place on May 9, 2012, around 3:30 p.m. eastbound Interstate 10(I-10). According to California Highway Patrol Officer Mario Lopez, a green Ford Bronco went out of control and landed north of the 500 block of 11th Street, trapping a woman passenger.

Both the injured victims were immediately transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center for treatment. From the present facts, it is unclear as to how this traffic collision occurred. However, the driver reported a problem with a tire, suggesting that a blowout might be the cause. It seems that a vehicular malfunction may have contributed to this serious crash.

The injured victim in such cases could seek compensation to cover medical expenses, loss of earnings, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and other related damages.

Our personal injury law office hopes that the injuries suffered by both the victims heal soon and do not prove fatal.

Recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury in San Diego

About 1.7 million U.S. residents suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 75% of these injuries are mild, offering a chance of complete or near-complete recovery. The more serious a TBI is, or the more TBIs suffered over time, the more likely it is that permanent disabilities will result.

To help maximize the chances of recovery, the CDC recommends the following care tips:

  • Avoid suffering another blow to the head, which could cause another TBI. Stay out of sports, workplaces, and other situations where head trauma is likely. Get someone to “spot” you if you have trouble walking after an injury, as a fall could also cause re-injury.
  • Rest. Plenty of rest is necessary for the brain to heal itself. Take time off work or school if needed to give your TBI a chance to heal.
  • Your ability to react to dangers is often decreased after a TBI. Ask your doctor when it’s safe for you to return to driving, work, or other activities that require you to be alert.
  • Avoid alcohol and any drugs other than those your doctor has prescribed.
  • See your doctor immediately if you begin vomiting, losing consciousness, suffer severe headaches, or cannot stay awake.

Even mild traumatic brain injuries can leave lingering disabilities, and moderate or serious ones can cause permanent injury or death. Our knowledgeable San Diego traumatic brain injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you need after an accident. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation.

Bicyclist Killed in Ventura County Hit and Run Accident

An unidentified bicyclist was killed and three others suffered serious injuries in a fatal hit-and-run bicycle crash that occurred on May 11, 2011 in Ventura County. According to the responding California Highway Patrol Officers, the driver of the Hummer struck four bicyclists in two separate locations around 6:51 p.m. Wednesday.

One bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. The other three were immediately transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The investigating officers are trying to determine whether the Hummer driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, distracted by cell phone or had any medical issue.

If found guilty of driving under these circumstances, then he may be held liable for the victim’s wrongful death and the injuries suffered by the other bicyclists.

Regardless of the reason, the victims’ family members should immediately seek counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney in Ventura County to obtain compensation to cover medical bills, loss of future income, loss of love and companionship and other accident-related expenses. A personal injury attorney can help get the justice they deserve and would ensure that the driver of the Hummer is held responsible.

Our law office offers sincere condolences to all those injured in this tragedy.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed to Protect San Diegans

Earlier today, a class action lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles, alleging that State Farm Insurance had unjustly enriched itself by receiving and retaining payments that belonged to its’ insureds. According to the complaint, State Farm obtained these payments by violating California law by the “Make Whole Doctrine.”

Typically, insurance policies contain provisions which require an insured to reimburse their insurance company for benefits paid by the insurance company if the insured receives money from another source, such as when the insured receives money from a wrongdoer after an accident.

However, the “Make Whole Doctrine” prevents the insurance company from receiving reimbursement from its’ insured unless the insured has already been made whole by the other source. In other words, if the other source fails to pay 100% of the insured’s damages, the insurance company cannot claim a right to reimbursement.

The claims for reimbursement are very common. The named class representative in this lawsuit had $63.49 wrongfully withheld by State Farm. State Farm processes more than 12 million claims per year. Even if State Farm wrongfully exercised a right of reimbursement in 10% of those case, that would be 1.2 million cases. Multiply that by $63.49 per case and the unjust enrichment obtained by State Farm would be close to $75 million.

And that’s the amount that State Farm would have wrongfully profited by in one year alone.

Riverside Rollover Crash Results in Injuries

One person was severely injured in a rollover auto accident that took place on May 9, 2012, around 8:30 p.m. near Bradley Street and Harbart Drive in Riverside. According to Riverside fire Battalion Chief Scott Blair, one person sustained serious injuries in a possible off-road vehicle crash.

The injured victim was immediately transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The investigating officers need to determine whether the loss of control was due to negligence or any vehicular malfunction.

The victim’s family members may file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer to obtain compensation to cover treatment, hospital, loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, and other related damages.

Our personal injury law office sincerely hopes that the injuries suffered by the victim heal soon and do not prove fatal.

House Investigates Defective Medical Device Protections

Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court held in Riegel v. Medtronic that lawsuits based upon state tort law were preempted (barred) by federal law IF the FDA had granted the alleged defective product “pre-market approval” as a medical device.

The protections given to medical device manufacturers in Riegel may be extended to pharmaceutical drug manufacturers when the Supreme Court hears Wyeth v. Levine later this year.

However, Congress is looking at legislatively reversing the Supreme Court’s ruling. Beginning tomorrow, hearings will be held in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to discuss the effect of the Riegel decision and the effect an extension in Wyeth may have.

Write your Congressman and Senators and tell them that legislative reform is needed to provide protections to victims of defectively designed medical devices. If a medical product is defective, a manufacturer should not escape liability simply because the FDA signed off on it–perhaps before the actual defect is discovered after long-term human use.

Britney Spears Involved in Third Notable Car Accident

Earlier today, Britney Spears crashed the front of her Mercedes SL into the rear of a red Ford Explorer while driving on the Strip in Los Angeles. Luckily there were no significant injuries.

This is the third notable accident Britney has been involved in. On April 14, it was reported that Ms. Spears rear-ended another vehicle when she failed to realize that the vehicle in front of her came to a stop.

She was also involved in a hit and run accident when she struck a parked car while trying to park her vehicle:

We say this (slightly) jokingly: “Will she spend the money to hire a driver before she kills someone?”

It is very clear that Ms. Spears is an extremely poor driver and is a danger to herself and others. Her license should be revoked. If Ms. Spears was not a celebrity and just a regular driver, she would have already lost her license after being involved in multiple accidents, including a hit and run accident.

We can only hope she stops driving before she does kill someone.

Boy Killed in Encinitas Bicycle Accident

An 11 year-old boy in Encinitas was hospitilized with serious injuries after being hit by a car while riding an electric pocket bike, according to authorities.

According to witnesses, the child rode into the path of a car from a driveway, onto the 1000 block of Double LL Ranch Road on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after 4:30 p.m., as informed by Sgt. Randy Webb of San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. While the child’s name and medical condition have not been released, it is known that he was flown to Rady’s Children’s Hospital. There is no evidence supporting the idea that drugs or alcohol played a role in the San Diego bicycle accident.

CPSC Warns of Dangers Associated with Water-Walking Balls

“Water walking” is a new summer activity that is becoming popular at beaches, amusement parks, and other summer fun spots all over the U.S. During water walking, a person climbs inside a large flexible plastic ball, which is floating on a pool or other body of water, and can walk or ride on the water’s surface without getting wet.

While water walking looks like fun, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that it can also cause serious injuries. The CPSC has received several reports of injuries from water walking-related hazards.

First, the large plastic balls used in water walking are airtight. If a person is inside a ball too long, he or she may use up the oxygen inside it while breathing, creating an increased risk for suffocation.

Next, most balls used in water walking cannot be opened by the person inside the ball if there is an emergency and can only be opened from the outside. Constant close supervision is necessary in order to prevent an accident.

Finally, water walking balls are not padded. If the person inside the ball collides with another person, a pier, a boat, or another obstacle, he or she could be seriously injured in a San Diego watercraft accident. Since the balls are not easy to control, the risk of a collision is high.

Nobody wants a child they care about to be injured during summer fun. When a defective product causes injury, however, an experienced defective product injury lawyer in San Diego can help. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation.

San Diego Lawsuit Brings Attention to Food Contamination

Last week, a man diagnosed with hepatitis A filed a lawsuit against a La Mesa Chipotle restaurant.

The man, Terry Wesley, claims that he became sick on April 24 after eating at the Chipotle restaurant and remains sick to this day.

The lawsuit was filed just as San Diego County health officials reported another hepatitis A case that officials believe may also be linked to the La Mesa restaurant. If that is the case, officials have documented 21 people sickened by food contamination at the restaurant between March 1 and April 22.

Food contamination is a serious problem, particularly common among fast food restaurants and any other restaurant where health preparations are sacrificed in the name of speed and profit. Hepatitis A is a particularly serious disease that attacks the liver and is spread by contamination of food or water through fecal matter.

If you have suffered from food poisoning and incurred a serious infection, such as hepatitis A, please contact us for a free initial consultation. Not only are you entitled to compensation, but your claim draws attention to the poor sanitary conditions at the violating restaurant.

Tort Reform Hypocrite Settles Slip and Fall Lawsuit

As reported by the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog, former Supreme Court nominee, strict constructionist judge, and tort-reform advocate Robert Bork settled his lawsuit against the Yale Club after he fell while attempting to step onto the dais to speak.

The settlement terms were undisclosed, so little is known about the lawsuit other than those pleadings filed with the Court. However, a review of the complaint filed by Judge Bork’s attorneys at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher–who are typically defense counsel and presumably represented Bork because of his high profile–reveals two absolute truths about the case: (1) Regardless of whether the Yale Club was liable for Judge Bork’s injuries, Judge Bork was seriously injured and required significant medical care to address his injuries; and (2) Judge Bork’s lawsuit embodies many of the tactics and strategies that Judge Bork decried in his tort reform efforts.

San Diego Consumers Protected By Defeat of Tort Reform Class Action Legislation

Earlier today, the California Assembly rejected AB 1505 by failing to pass it out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The bill received so little support that when Van Tran (R-Costa Mesa) moved the bill, it did not receive a second and therefore failed without a vote.

The Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) continues to press the meat of AB 1505 through a costly initiative process.

Assemblymember Nicole Parra (D-Hanford) stated, in bringing the bill, that it would do nothing to prevent legitimate class actions from being brought. However, she hoped that it would prevent lawyers from gaining large verdicts and plaintiff class membes seeing little compensation as a result. She further stated that AB 1505 attempted to align state with federal law.

However, according to the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), AB 1505 would undermine the civil justice system by preventing an ordinary citizens’ right to bring a class action lawsuit in California. Among the provisions of AB 1505 that CAOC objected to:

1. The bill would have required each individual class member to prove their individual claim and extent of damages. Most importantly, it would have required trial evidence on both the plaintiff and defense side to be “substantially the same”.
2. The bill would have given the defendant the right to bypass class counsel to communicate directly with class members to make a settlement offer directly to the defense. This would have bypassed and destroyed the attorney-client relationship. It would have also allowed the defendant to make low ball offers and use threats to force class members to disregard their counsel’s advice.
3. The bill would also have stayed discovery of the merits of the case until the class was certified. This provision ignores the fact that the discovery process allows plaintiffs the ability to prove the existence of a broader class by being able to identify potential class members.

Our office is pleased by the defeat of this bill. Tort Reform supporters fail to recognize the need for class action attorneys to represent the rights of numerous consumers who have been wronged by the illegal acts of large companies. The importance of class action attorneys has been heightened in recent decades due to the reluctance of the government to enforce its’ own laws, leaving it to class action attorneys as “private attorney generals.”

If there is an objection to class action attorneys being paid for their services, it should be that we–as taxpayers–have already paid the government to do the job through our taxes and they have failed to do so.

Pedestrian Struck And Killed In Los Angeles County Crosswalk Accident

Aurelia Arciniega, 47, was struck and killed in a fatal Los Angeles pedestrian accident that occurred on May 4, 2011, around 6 p.m. in the 6300 block of Florence Avenue. According to Coroner’s Office Assistant Chief Ed Winter, the pedestrian was struck by a motorist in the Bell Gardens neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Arciniega was immediately transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and was later pronounced dead. From the limited information available, it is quite evident that the negligent driving of the motorist leads to this fatal car accident. From the facts set forth in the news story, it appears that the motorist failed to notice the pedestrian crossing the intersection in a crosswalk and hit her. This leads us to question his alertness while driving. Was the driver using a cell phone? Was he driving under influence? Did he do enough to avoid the accident?

In any case, striking a pedestrian legally in a crosswalk is negligence per se under California law. 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….”

The pedestrian’s family members should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles to discuss their legal rights and options. An experienced lawyer can help the family obtain fair compensation to cover for funeral and burial costs, loss of future earnings, loss of love and companionship, and other accident-related expenses.

Our law office offers sincere condolences to all those who knew Arciniega for their loss. If it is found that the driver was operating his care illegally, either because he was driving under the influence of alcohol or without a valid driver’s license, we hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.