Bicycle versus auto accidents on the rise

In many ways, California exemplifies modern car culture with its system of modern freeways and parking facilities. Although most Californians cannot imagine life without a car, more and more people are using bicycles for daily transportation, exercise and recreation. Unfortunately, many drivers have not yet learned how to safely share the road with bicycles and this puts cyclists at risk for serious injury or death.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities involving bicycles increased nine percent between 2010 and 2011. In California, 4.1 percent of all traffic fatalities involved a pedalcyclist, compared to the national average of two percent. The 2011 NHTSA report also shows the following:

  • 677 U. S. pedalcyclist fatalities
  • 48,000 U. S. pedalcyclist injuries
  • 114 California pedalcyclist fatalities

Most fatal bike accidents — 69 percent — occurred in an urban area, and while the highest injury rate was among those between the ages of 16 and 20, the group with the highest fatality rate were pedacyclists aged 45 to 54. Bikes are increasingly part of city transportation and they are not just for kids anymore.

Getting adequate compensation for an injury after a motor vehicle hits you on your bicycle requires the services of an experienced bicycle injury attorney who can perform a thorough investigation of the accident scene and help you recover damages for the full extent of your injuries.


Personal injury claims and pre-existing conditions

Insurance companies have the right to examine the validity of a claim before they pay any compensation to an injured person, but they are not allowed to deny legitimate claims. This does not stop aggressive insurance agents from attempting to minimize the liability of their at-fault client by arguing that your injury existed before the accident.

However, under California law, you have a legal right to ask for damages if you had a preexisting “physical or emotional condition that was made worse by… the wrongful conduct” of the defendant. In addition, California courts instruct juries to follow the “eggshell” rule, which recognizes that a preexisting condition can make someone more susceptible to injury. For example, if you end up with a herniated disk that requires surgery after being rear-ended, the defendant cannot use the information that you were previously diagnosed with disk degeneration against you — as long as you can show that the collision caused the compromised disk to rupture.

Making a successful auto accident claim that involves a preexisting condition has its own set of challenges, so keep these tips in mind:

  • Never give the insurance company access to your medical records
  • Make an appointment with your regular physician as soon as possible
  • Schedule an MRI if you experience any back or neck pain
  • Keep a written record of your symptoms
  • Speak with a qualified personal injury attorney

People with preexisting conditions sometimes feel they are partially to blame for their injury — especially if the insurance company accuses them of overreacting or making false statements.  A San Luis Obispo personal injury attorneywith experience handling auto accident compensation can explain your legal rights and, if necessary, help you get the right medical care.


New regulations focus on trampoline injuries

One of the more contentious areas of premises liability law involves public recreational facilities such as swimming pools, water parks and now, trampoline parks. What constitutes reasonable safety precautions for activities that are inherently risky? According to State Senator Ted Lieu, trampoline parks are not doing enough to prevent patrons from potentially serious injuries. He introduced a bill to change that situation.

Indoor trampoline parks have become a popular destination, offering birthday packages for children, exercise classes for adults and competitive team sports. However, many patrons — including parents — do not understand how dangerous bouncing on a trampoline can be. The legislation, SB 256, gives the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health the authority to conduct inspections and requires safety training for all employees. It also increases the liability insurance requirement for trampoline park operators to $1 million per incident.

The Academy of American Pediatrics would like to ban privately owned or public trampolines altogether, citing the following statistics from 2009:

  • 98,000 trampoline-related injuries
  • 3,100 hospitalizations
  • 40 percent of injuries result from falls

The majority of these accidents occurred on private property. Half of trampoline-related injuries to children involve bone fractures or sprains. However, when children accidentally fall or jump off the edge, they are at risk for serious head and neck or spinal cord injuries. Authorities warn that this can happen even when there is protective netting in place.

If you or your child is injured because the owners of a recreational facility neglected to enforce reasonable safety measures, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit — even if you signed a waiver. You may also have a case if your child was injured on private property. California homeowners are required to install safeguards around potentially dangerous areas such as pools, ponds or backyard trampolines. An experienced attorney can explain your legal options for recovering the damages you are entitled to under California premises liability statutes.


Reducing restaurant slip and fall accidents

How much do you usually spend when you go out for a meal? Thirty dollars? Fifty dollars? Most people, even in their wildest dreams, cannot imagine a restaurant bill for $30,000 or more, but this is the typical expense for a slip-and-fall accident. Insurance companies covering the restaurant industry expect to pay out for numerous personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits every year. With slip-and-fall accidents increasing, however, restaurant insurers are taking prevention more seriously.

A recent article in Full-Service Restaurant Magazine outlined some of the steps restaurant owners can take to make their premises safer:

  1. Improve floor traction. There are dozens of restaurant flooring varieties, and property owners should think as much about friction as they do about aesthetics. Better traction translates into fewer slips, even when the floor is wet. Restaurant owners or managers should have their floor traction tested and, if the result is substandard, they should invest in resurfacing.
  2. Attend to spills. Food or drink spills are inevitable in a restaurant, which is another reason to install flooring with good wet and dry traction. It is also important to clean up spills quickly and alert patrons about potentially hazardous areas.
  3. Clean floors properly. Even high-traction floors can become slippery if grease and contaminants accumulate on their surfaces. Mopping is not sufficient to remove these hazards, which can compromise floor traction. Employees must be trained in effective floor cleaning and maintenance with the right tools and products.

Restaurant owners and building managers who ignore the current research on floor safety are putting their patrons at unnecessary risk for serious injury, permanent disability or death. Slipping on a low-traction, wet floor can result in a broken bone, bruising, spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injury. An experienced personal injury attorney can investigate the circumstances of your slip-and-fall accident and help you recover the full amount of damages, including medical expenses and lost income.


Getting help for a head injury

When you are in an accident and suffer a head injury, it is possible you have suffered a brain injury. The consequences may affect the rest of your life.

The most common form of brain injury is a concussion, a condition created when the brain is bruised or injured. To suffer a concussion, you need not lose consciousness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), leading causes of brain injuries include:

  • Falls
  • Traffic accidents
  • Being struck in the head, or striking the head against an object
  • Assaults

Awareness of the long-term danger of concussion has risen with reports of the class action lawsuit filed against the National Football League (NFL) by former players who suffer disabling conditions like Alzheimer’s’ disease, dementia and other disorders as a result of taking repeated hits to the head during their playing careers. That lawsuit was recently settled for $765 million.

The danger of concussion has trickled down to questioning the safety of high school and even middle school sports. Better regulations and decisions take place when more parents and others are aware of the serious injury that can occur after even one hit to the head.

If you suffer a head injury in an automobile accident or after a fall on a slippery floor in a store, get good medical care and then speak with an experienced attorney for good legal advice.


Your neighbors dog bites your son, who is liable?

You weren’t comfortable when your neighbor in San Luis Obispo, California decided to get herself a Pit Bull for protection. It was cute as a puppy but it grew to about 85 pounds and became very intimidating. Finally, it happened. Your discomfort became horror when the dog got loose and bit your son while playing in his own backyard. He was injured and treated for a severe dog bite.

Now you face many medical bills including the prospect of expensive plastic surgery to help your son recover. It is important to know that California Law on dog bites imposes “strict liability” on dog owners. The owner of the dog is liable for injuries to another person for an unprovoked dog bites while the person is on public property or lawfully on private property.  The dog need not have a history of violence nor does the owner have to have knowledge of any history of violence for the standard to apply.

Your best plan of action is to contact a California personal injury attorney experienced in handling dog bite cases. These lawyers know the rules and they will work with you to prove that your neighbor is liable. They also know how to deal with the homeowners’ insurance company that may not be so willing to fully compensate you for your son’s medical costs.

A dog attack can cause lasting physical and emotional scars. Don’t wait to consult an experienced attorney who can represent your interests and help heal the wounds. Make the call now.


Injury and the payment pecking order

If you have health insurance through your employer and are in relatively good health, you probably take for granted how simple it is to have your medical needs paid for. Most likely, all you have to do is show an ID card, pay a co-payment, and the rest just seems to be taken care of.

But imagine this: You are 66 years old and still working full-time. One day, your boss asks you to drive to a shop on the other side of town to pick up some supplies. You hop into your car and head down the road. Suddenly, as you are driving through an intersection, another car runs the stop sign and slams into you. Fortunately, you survive, but you are injured badly enough that the doctor who treats you expects you will never be able to work again.

Here comes the quiz: Who pays your medical bills? Would it be:

  • Your employee health plan?
  • Workers’ compensation?
  • Your automobile insurer?
  • The insurer of the other car?
  • Medicare?
  • All of the above?
  • None of the above?

And, since you can no longer work, what about your living expenses for the rest of your life? Workers comp? Social Security Disability? The settlement from your lawsuit against the other driver? Medicare again?

One thing is almost certain: Whoever should be paying your bills will probably say it should be somebody else.

Clearly, you need a lawyer — especially a lawyer experienced in the complexities of personal injury law and work-related injuries. Even in much simpler cases, the rules for who pays for what, and when, can be quite complicated. So if you are injured in an accident of any kind, be sure you have knowledgeable, experienced and vigorous legal representation to ensure you get payment when payment is due.


Understanding spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries most commonly result from car crashes, slip and fall accidents, sporting events, and gunshot wounds. Unfortunately, even with modern advances in medicine, spinal cord injuries are very serious and sometimes completely life altering. Because the extent of a spine injury isn’t always recognizable and can get progressively worse if left untreated, it is important to seek immediate medical treatment if you suspect that you have suffered spinal cord damage. The time between when the injury occurs and when you first receive treatment is critical to your recovery.

There are two classifications for spinal cord injuries. Some are classified as “complete,” meaning that the victim loses all sensory feeling and function below the location of the spinal cord injury. Others are classified as “incomplete,” meaning that the victim still retains some feeling and movement below the injury. Generally speaking, the higher up the spinal cord the injury occurs, the more severe the effects.

Some of the symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:

  • Loss of movement and feeling
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Spasms and uncontrollable reflexes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Weakness
  • Numbing, tingling or the loss of feeling in a particular area
  • Problems with balance

Treatment for serious injuries is usually ongoing and can be very expensive. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury and you believe that the accident occurred as a result of another person’s or entity’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, contact a personal injury lawyer in San Luis Obispo, California who can help you obtain rightful compensation.


Common scenes of slip and fall accidents

A slip and fall accident can occur anywhere, but some of the more common locations or situations include the following:

  • Nursing homes — Older people in nursing homes are at greater risk of a slip and fall accident. Sometimes these accidents occur because of neglect or negligence on the part of the nursing home staff, such as when a resident is not properly escorted even though he or she needs it. When this happens, the staff can be held liable for the injuries that result.
  • The workplace — Whether you work in a busy factory or a quiet office, employers are responsible for keeping the environment safe. Recently mopped floors, loose floorboards, sidewalk potholes and other debris can all lead to injuries.
  • Bad weather conditions — Ice, snow and rain are some of the most common weather conditions that cause slip and fall accidents. For this reason, proprietors and municipalities have a legal obligation to keep their streets, steps and walkways cleared and safe for visitors.
  • Construction sites — Pedestrians and workers alike can be injured at construction sites when Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) regulations are not followed, equipment malfunctions, debris is left out, or cracks and potholes go uncovered.

You can avoid some slip and fall accidents by wearing appropriate footwear and remaining aware of your surroundings. Don’t assume that just because the law requires proprietors to keep their properties safe and well maintained that they will comply. In the event that you or a loved one is injured in an accident that resulted from property owner negligence in Santa Barbara, California, consult Steven P. Roberts Personal Injury Lawyers.


The best ways to prevent dog bites

Dog bites account for millions of injuries in the United States every year. In fact, it is such a big problem that the American Veterinary Medical Association holds an annual National Dog Bite Prevention Week in order to raise awareness and educate people about prevention strategies.

By remaining aware of some of the following safety tips and teaching them to your children, you may be able to prevent a dog bite incident in the future:

  • Avoid aggressive games. Wrestling and other high-energy games are best avoided, especially with bigger dogs.
  • Stay alert. The most common victims of dog bites are children, so when your child is around a dog, be sure to monitor the situation closely. Teach your child not to act too aggressively or in a way that might startle the dog. And of course, never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be smart. Don’t reach through a fence to pet a dog or bother a dog while it is feeding puppies, sleeping or eating.
  • Don’t react. If a dog approaches you, do your best to stay still and remain calm. Avoid making any quick movements, running or raising your hands. The dog is likely to sniff you and head on its way. If this isn’t the case, avoid eye contact and try to back away slowly.

If a dog attacks you, try to “feed” something (purse, jacket, baseball mitt — whatever you have available) into its mouth as quickly as possible. If you’re knocked to the ground, cover your face, curl into a ball, and do your best to remain motionless and quiet. Once you are safe from the dog, seek medical attention if needed. Then contact a San Luis Obispo County personal injury lawyer, as you may have a claim against its owner.