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Three myths about personal injury law

Given the various media outlets available, there is a lot of inaccurate information floating around about injury law. If you have recently been involved in a car, truck, motorcycle or other type of accident in California, you no doubt want to know if you are entitled to receive some form of compensation. The first thing you need to realize is that nothing you read or see will ever be as educational or beneficial to you as consulting with a knowledgeable attorney.

Additionally, you should be wary of the following three common misconceptions about personal injury law:

  • You don’t need a lawyer — If you suffer injury in a car accident, would you say you don’t need a doctor? The same logic applies to your legal case. The purpose of filing a claim is to obtain reimbursement for medical expenses and other damages. Without an attorney, you lower your chances of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries.
  • One lawyer is as good as another — You may have a friend or relative who is a lawyer. However, you need a personal injury attorney, not a bankruptcy lawyer or business attorney. To use the doctor analogy again, you wouldn’t visit a foot doctor if you had a brain injury, would you? Further, the attorney you hire should be someone who has extensive experience and success in personal injury law.
  • A lengthy court battle lies ahead — One of the biggest misconceptions victims have about personal injury law is that at the end of the road lies a heated courtroom battle. Truthfully, the majority of accident cases are resolved through settlement negotiations. That being said, every case is different.

When an accident of any kind — auto accident, bicycle mishap, medical malpractice, or a slip and fall — causes you injury and pain because of someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

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When injuries hurt in other ways

Most people think of personal injury lawsuits as involving physical wounds: bodily injuries from car wrecks, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice or dangerous products. But there are a number of personal injury claims that, while they do not involve broken bones or bleeding, can compensate you for other kinds of hurt inflicted by another person.

The legal area known as torts (from a Latin word meaning twisted) covers all kinds of ways in which one party can cause harm to another. Some examples:

  • Defamation: Oral or written publication of false statements that harm your reputation.
  • Conversion: Essentially, the non-criminal version of someone stealing or trying to steal your property.
  • Assault: In civil law, an act that causes you a reasonable fear of being injured, even if no contact actually occurs.
  • Battery: Any physical contact that occurs without your permission, even if it is merely offensive rather than harmful.
  • False imprisonment: When someone detains you against your will by force or threat of force (except in the case of law enforcement.)
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress: This can occur with or without infliction of physical harm, but must result from extreme and outrageous behavior.
  • Trespass to land or personal property: When someone interferes with your exclusive right to your property without permission.

Of course, some of these wrongdoings happen in minor ways every day. But when the actions of another cross the line to cause you harm, you have a right to sue for damages. While your injuries in cases such as these may or may not be visible, an experienced personal injury attorney can fight for your right to be compensated for a wrong. Contact Steven P. Roberts Personal Injury Lawyers today.

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Combating insurance company bad faith

In 2013, a California court ruled that insurers could be found to be acting in bad faith against their clients, even after they provided counsel for them and paid settlement funds to them. In California, insurance companies are subject to heavy state regulation designed to prevent insurer bad faith. Despite this, insurance company bad faith is prevalent.

Your insurer acts in bad faith when it:

  • Does not pay, communicate or process your claim in a timely manner
  • Does not provide you with a lawyer
  • Refuses to pay you a fair amount

Your insurer is obligated to provide you pay your claimed damages when you are entitled to it under your policy ― not look for ways to deny your claim in an adversarial manner. You may miss court-filing deadlines due to insurer foot-dragging during the claims process, which may unfairly enable the insurer to further resist paying your claim.

Below are some tips on how to fight an insurance company that acts in bad faith:

  • Claim but do not necessarily settle now. You have a limited time to settle your claim or file suit. However, be suspicious of hasty settlement offers. The insurer may be settling for cheap, especially if you do not yet know the full extent of your injuries.
  • Hire a lawyer who knows their game. Claims adjusters are trained negotiators who use many ploys. For example, they may call you at 7:00 am when you are still groggy, or, before Christmas time when you need extra money for gifts. Lawyers understand the insurer tactics and will be less likely to be taken advantage of.
  • Do not let your guard down. Adjusters sometimes record your conversations, and these can be used to fight your damage claim, especially when you concede your faults. Note that your insurer may have opposing interests from you. Do not provide an authorization to your medical records, they may use them to assign responsibility of your injury to non-accident factors, to reduce their payout. Do not believe everything they tell you.
  • In general, review your policy carefully. Sit down with your lawyer to verify their statements and see what you are entitled to receive.
  • Be prepared to fight. You may have to appeal several denials before you get the result you deserve.

Increase your chance of receiving fair and timely compensation for your injuries in an accident by hiring a firm that knows how to talk to California insurance companies that act in bad faith. Contact Steven P. Roberts, Personal Injury Attorney to learn more.

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California products liability theories

There are many consumer products that can cause serious injury including, for example, defective children’s toys or auto parts. After you have suffered a serious injury, a product recall may be an insufficient remedy for you. An alternative may be a products liability lawsuit. Lawsuits involve intricate issues, many potential defendants, and focus on issues such as mislabeling, negligent or faulty design, and general manufacturing defects regarding the item that caused your injury.

Consider a defective heart medicine tablet. If the product inadvertently contained a toxic material, it is a manufacturing flaw. If you took the same medicine without toxic components and suffered a heart attack as a result of the medication, that is a design flaw. If the pharmaceutical company designed and made the heart medicine pill carefully, but did not warn about its unsafe combination with another drug that you then took, that would be a labeling defect.

Defective design claims are brought because of the fundamental danger of the product — even if the product and its design fit the manufacturer’s requirements. For instance, a car model that has problems with its electronic system. If you purchased the car with the defect, and got hurt while the car door suddenly open due to a glitch with the electronic system, you have a design defect claim.

Sometimes a product is inherently unsafe — there may have been a manufacturing defect at the factory, making it different from all the others for sale. For example, an acid reflux medicine may have included a poisonous component, or a motorcycle with a faulty disk brake that resulted in an accident trying to avoid an oncoming vehicle.

Mislabeling claims involve a company’s failure to give appropriate instructions or warnings about a product’s correct use, especially when that product requires unique precautions when using it, such as a cold medicine that does not warn you about which other medications to avoid while on the drug.

Some lawsuits may include multiple alleged concerns with the product. And in some situations, there may be many potential defendants in those lawsuits, including manufacturers, design experts and others within the manufacturing and distribution chain. If you have been involved in a products liability lawsuit, contact Steven P. Roberts Personal Injury Lawyers.

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Spinal cord injury sufferers new hope

Nearly one quarter of a million people suffer from the effects of spinal cord injuries. Auto accidents and workplace accidents account for over 50 percent of new cases. In some instances, these spinal cord injuries can cause permanent or temporary paralysis.

Treatment for a spinal cord injury can be very expensive. The average treatment costs in the first couple of years after the injury range from approximately $250,000 to $750,000 annually. The lifetime costs of a person’s treatment and rehabilitation can approach $3 million. With these injuries typically affecting people under 30, victims can face a long existence of grueling rehabilitation and a diminished quality of life.

Two recent studies provide hope. A 2013 study shows that a combination of physical therapy and stem cell treatment can repair many lost neurological functions in spinal cord injury victims. In this study, scientists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School conducted a clinical trial of spinal cord injury patients who had not responded previously to six months of treatments. The doctors placed the patients into two groups, one receiving only physical therapy and the other group combination treatment. The combination treatment group indicated improvements after just a month. After two more months, some patients previously unable to control their bladders could now relieve themselves without catheters. After 18 months, some patients previously unable to walk independently could walk without support.

Previously, in a 2012 study, doctors performed the first human cell transplant on a spinal cord patient. Doctors grew cells from the patients’ own extracted nerve tissues, and then placed these cells back into the patients. Researchers plan to monitor the patients for another two years to measure overall improvement.

Scientific developments in stem cell research may ultimately help many spinal cord injury victims recover many of their lost functions and/or physical sensations. While the medical community is hopeful for a cure, it recognizes that substantial work lies ahead.

If you are suffering from a spinal cord injury, speak with San Luis Obispo personal injury lawyer, Steven P. Roberts. He can help you pursue the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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Premises liability public falls

Although it can be embarrassing to fall in public in front of other people, in the eyes of the law, your falling may not entirely be your fault. In most cases, if you fall and injure yourself in a public place, the liability for your injuries rests with the premises owner. And, while it is important to seek legal assistance in determining liability, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of how fault is determined under the law.

Premises liability places the responsibility for your safety in the hands of the premises owner. If the owner has failed to address or remove potential hazards that contributed to your injury, it may constitute a negligent act. Some examples of these types of hazards include icy walkways, inadequately lighted stairways, falling objects or slick surfaces.

If there is a reasonable expectation that the premises owner had prior knowledge of any hazards that contributed to your injury, that person may be found negligent. In addition, the premises owner has a responsibility to deliver adequate warning of any known hazards on the property. If the owner has failed to do so, you may be entitled to damages to cover any medical expenses or lost wages you experience due to your personal injury.

After sustaining an injury as the result of a fall on public or private premises, you should immediately seek dependable legal representation. It may be that your fall is the result of negligence on the part of the premises owner, and a skilled California lawyer can help you pursue any damages from property owners or their insurance companies.

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Dog bites children: Special circumstances

In most dog bite cases, there are arguments to be made on both sides. Maybe the dog owner acted negligently, but, in some cases, the victim may have provoked the attack in some way. However, in cases in which children are bitten by dogs, there are some special rules that apply in Santa Barbara County that make it a little easier to establish fault.

Under the law, children under the age of five are considered incapable of negligence. The reason for this rule is understandable enough, as young children are prone to misunderstand the risks associated with a given situation. This is particularly true in cases of dog attacks, as children are more likely to approach a dog without recognizing the threatening behavior the animal exhibits. The law and our society do not expect small children to understand the difference between friendly dogs and dangerous ones.

As a result, liability will often rest with the dog’s owner when a child is bitten. In some rare cases where a child is found to have committed a willful act of misconduct resulting in an attack, liability may be extended to the child’s parent or guardian. Even in situations where an adult is responsible for provoking an attack, a child will typically be held blameless.

If your child has been the victim of a dog attack, you may be eligible for compensation to cover medical bills, lost time at work and pain and suffering. It’s important to consult with a San Luis Obispo personal injury lawyer to determine liability based on the specifics of your case.

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Filing suit after the tragic loss of a child

Recently, a 6-year-old girl living in San Francisco with her family was struck and killed by a Honda driven by Syed Muzaffar while he was logged on to the transportation app called Uber. Police arrested and charged Muzaffar with vehicular manslaughter, gross negligence, and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. For the Lius, however, that wasn’t enough. The Liu family is suing Uber for wrongful death.

Burying a child is a pain that no parent should have to endure. This is especially true when the child dies because of the wrongful act or omission of another person. When this occurs, the parents or guardians of the child can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable parties. Here’s what you need to know: 

Statutory eligibility — Under Indiana’s statute for wrongful death of a child, a “child” is defined as:

  • An individual who is under the age of 20 and not married
  • A student who is under the age of 23 and not married
  • A viable fetus 

Potential damages — In a lawsuit for the wrongful death of a child, you may seek compensation for:

  • Hospital and other medical expenses
  • Burial and funeral costs
  • Loss of companionship and love
  • Loss of the child’s services
  • Mental health counseling for the parents and minor siblings 

Statute of limitations — Generally, a lawsuit for the wrongful death of a child must be filed within two years of the date of the child’s death. If the lawsuit is filed after the two-year statute of limitations expires, the surviving parties may be barred from recovering damages.

If your child was killed because of another person’s wrongful act or omission, contact a California wrongful death attorney. At the Steven P. Roberts, we fight hard to obtain compensation for those affected by wrongful death. Contact our office today to discuss your situation.

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Did negligence and mismanagement lead to boxers disability?

A few months ago, boxer Magomed “Mago” Abdusalamov was a WBC champ on his way to a chance at the world heavyweight title. Today, the 33-year-old husband and father of three little girls is helpless in a hospital bed, struggling to follow simple commands. He may never walk or talk again.

Mago’s family doesn’t blame Mike Perez, the opponent who delivered punishing blows in a brutal 10 rounds at Madison Square Garden. They blame commission officials, medical personnel and others for “negligence and medical mismanagement” that nearly cost Mago his life. They have filed a civil lawsuit in light of the following:

  • The referee and ring doctors failed to stop the fight as Mago was “unreasonably and violently beaten.”
  • “Improper, untimely and inadequate medical care” by boxing commission doctors exacerbated Mago’s condition. After a rudimentary neurological check, and despite complaints of head pain, they stitched a gash over his eye, noted his broken nose and advised him to see a doctor “in a day or two.” It was not until an athletic commission inspector observed blood in Mago’s urine — suggesting internal bleeding — that his handlers were advised to take him to the nearest hospital.
  • Two ambulances were stationed at the Garden for the fight — yet none was provided. As his condition worsened and he began vomiting, Mago’s team was finally able to flag down a cab which dropped them at the ER waiting room. By the time he was examined, he could barely speak. A CT scan revealed a blood clot causing severe pressure in his brain, and at 1:33 AM — nearly three critical hours after the fight ended — doctors began surgery. Mago Abdusalamov’s life was spared, but he had several strokes and was left in a coma.

In a violent sport like boxing, can an ambitious young man be solely accountable for his own safety? Or are officials and medical personnel required to exercise reasonable care and judgment? If the carelessness or negligence of others has harmed you or a loved one, a California personal injury attorney can help you seek justice.