Category: Blog

May is National Bike Safety Month

With that warm and beautiful weather, comes an even greater responsibility for adults and children be aware of your surroundings as you head out to share and enjoy the roads on your bicycle.

According to the NHTSA, 630 pedalcyclists were killed and an additional 51,000 were injured in 2009 in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Pedalcyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities, and made up 2 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes during the year.

The best guideline is: Be Alert. Be Wary. Be Seen.

Be Alert: Scan ahead, center, left and right.

Although drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists, many times the cyclist is not seen. All drivers and riders should be courteous.

Drivers should:

>allow at least three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road,

> look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space,

> and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals.

> Be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.

Cyclists need to

> keep your head up and look ahead, not at the ground. You need to see what is coming up so you have time  to react and maneuver.

> ride one person per bike. Riding with unsecured passengers puts you at risk for injury to yourself and others.

> ride in single file with space between bikes.

> ride on the right side of the road, never against traffic. Otherwise, you are at risk for an accident – or a ticket.

Be Wary: Pay attention to vehicles, pedestrians and others on the road.

Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.

Be Seen: Use your horn, hand signals and light to be seen by others on the road.

Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, dawn,

and dusk. To be noticed when riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.

Important Safety Reminder:

All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way

to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash. California state law requires helmets for all bicyclists under age 18.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Brain Injury Awareness

March has been Brain Injury Awareness month, however, just because the month is coming to a close doesn’t take away from the importance of taking care of your brain – it’s the only one you have.

The brain cannot regenerate itself.  When someone suffers a severe brain injury, the initial impact can be deadly.  However,  according to the Brain Injury Institute, if they survive,  progressive degeneration of the brain can continue during the hours, days, weeks and months that follow.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports these as the most common causes of brain injury:

  •  35 % from falls
  •  20 % from car accidents or truck accidents
  •  19% from impact with a moving object
  •  11% from attacks
  •  Other causes include sports injuries and shaking – “shaken baby syndrome”

Once your brain is injured, your life will never be the same. Your “thinking organ” can affect the way you act, feel, perceive and respond to others, including your family. It is important to understand, that although a personmay “look fine” on the outside, the brain injury may cause changes which affect their behavior. People who have suffered a TBI may display irritability, depression, apathy, anxiety, agitation, frustration; display a confrontational attitude and/or outbursts of anger; feelings of guilt and feelings of helplessness. They may become impatient, fearful or thoughtless, and have difficulty doing their usual routine or tasks. It can be most frustrating to families and friends because a person with TBI may have little to no awareness of just how different he or she is acting.

Several posts were written this month to assist you in learning more about brain injury and the important of using protection when possible, such as bicycle helmets.

Any traumatic brain injury is potentially catastrophic. Take care of your brain everyday.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

Serious brain injury: life will never be the same

One year after a brutal beating in the Dodger Stadium parking lot left San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow in a coma, the former paramedic who suffered severe brain injuries now uses a wheelchair. He can respond to questions with a few simple, halting words and  has short-term memory loss. He needs nearly around-the-clock care.

Dr. Mayumi Prins, an associate professor in residence at the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center studies how metabolism is affected after a brain injury. She said glucose sometimes has a tough time getting to the brain. She compared a normal brain to a Los Angeles freeway. “There are divergent pathways but one main pathway that allows glucose to go through,” she said. “With a traumatic brain injury, there are detours and SIG-alerts.”

Tyler Sutton, 38, crashed his motorcycle in December 1992, then fell into a coma. “I used to be No. 1 on the Oxnard High School golf team. I had three or four girlfriends,” the Camarillo man said. “Now I can’t tie a tie. I have to have Velcro on my shoes.” Formerly right-handed, he’s now left-handed. He has to keep his right foot from dragging. “Sometimes, people don’t understand.”

TBI affects all ages, all ethnic communities, and all professions, but is particularly prevalent in young children and older people where it is now the leading cause of death and disability. Among older people, falls are the primary cause of TBI, and among younger people, car crashes and sports injuries are significant contributors.

People are becoming more aware of brain trauma, but it’s important to continually educate yourself.

“Since anyone can sustain a brain injury at any time, it is important for everyone to have access to comprehensive rehabilitation and ongoing disease management,” Dr. Brent Masel, National Medical Director of the Brain Injury Association of America said. If patients with TBI get proper medical care, they are less likely to experience medical problems, permanent disability, job loss, homelessness, suicide and even involvement with the criminal or juvenile justice system. ”

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

A helmet keeps your head safer. Brain Injury Awareness month

Wear a bike helmet!Helmet fact: Did you know that once someone has a concussion, they are at higher risk for more concussions or other types of traumatic brain injury?  Be smart. Keep helmets on your kids, wear one yourself on a bicycle, while skating or riding a motorcycle.

In 2014, 242,931 children ages 19 and under were seen in emergency rooms for injuries related to riding bikes.  (Source:  Safe Kids Worldwide.)

Bicycle helmets offer bicyclists the best protection from head injuries resulting from bicycle crashes, and bicycle helmet laws have proved effective in increasing bicycle helmet use.

Motorcycle helmets provide the best protection from head injury for motorcyclists involved in traffic crashes.  Statistics tell us that helmets are 37 percent more effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and 67 percent more effective in preventing braining injuries.  (Source:  US Department of Transportation Fatality Reporting System.)

“Since anyone can sustain a brain injury at any time, it is important for everyone to have access to comprehensive rehabilitation and ongoing disease management,” Dr. Brent Masel, National Medical Director of the Brain Injury Association of America said. If patients with TBI get proper medical care, they are less likely to experience medical problems, permanent disability, job loss, homelessness, suicide and even involvement with the criminal or juvenile justice system. ”

Protect your brain! It’s the only one you’ll ever have!  Learn more.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Everything You Need to Know: Injury Car Accidents

 

by Will Daniels

You’ve been involved in an injury car accident. You don’t have obvious injuries — you’re alert and aware. But what should you do? The following offers tips of everything you need to know post car-accident. Being well-prepared can make your post- car accident experience less stressful and will ultimately make any claims clearer.

Injury car accidents can be stressful and usually happen at the most inconvenient time. You can significantly reduce this stress by being prepared. The following are a few tips to help prepare yourself in the unfortunate event you are involved in an injury automobile collision.

Be Prepared.

You should stock your car with a few essentials. One way to always ensure you have these essentials with you in one place is to keep a vehicle safety kit. This can take the form of either a premade or homemade safety kit.

At a very basic level a vehicle safety kit should include

:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Tow Strap
  • Reflective Emergency Triangle or Road Flares
  • Jumper Cables
  • Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Spare Batteries for Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Water / Food (Enough to last 2 days)

 

You also want to make sure you keep important information in your glovebox. This includes: vehicle insurance information, vehicle registration, emergency contacts, health insurance information, note pad and pencil or pen. (A disposable camera is a great addition to a glovebox if you don’t have a cellphone with a camera.)

If possible, try to keep your cell-phone charged and located in a place easily accessible in the event of an accident. (Never attempt to use a cell-phone while operating a motor vehicle!)


Don’t Panic!

When you experience an injury automobile collision, it is not uncommon to feel a variety of emotions ranging from anger to extreme anxiety. It is important, following a collision, to remain calm. Always flip on your “hazard” lights and, if possible, move to a safe area.

You should only attempt to move your car out of the collision location if there are no other threats in the vicinity. If you are unable to move your vehicle, ensure that you turn on your hazard lights and stay in the vehicle.

Once in a safe location, check to see if there are any injured parties from the crash and call 911, even if the collision is minor. The police dispatcher will instruct you if an officer is required to view the scene and make a record.

DO NOT leave the scene of the collision without exchanging information. Leaving the scene of an automobile collision in which you were involved, without exchanging information, may result in civil or criminal liability.

Once you have ensured that all parties involved are all right, immediately contact your insurance agent or provider immediately.

Document, Document, Document.

After calling 911, document the damage to all cars involved in the collision. This generally involves making notes about the identities of the other driver(s) involved, taking photos of the damage to ALL vehicles and securing witness information. Any discrepancies in the vehicle’s insurance, registration or driver’s information should be noted.

Take notes  (Super helpful tip: most mobile phones have a “Notes” app — input/type the following, rather than using pieces of paper which can either be lost or later prove to be illegible, due to haste, anxiousness, nerves, or a proper surface on which to write).

Make sure to note

  • the time
  • the specific location of accident
  • description of all cars involved

Also list, for each car involved:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Year
  • License Plate Number
  • Damage(s)
  • description of all individuals involved in the injury car accident, including passengers.

Photo Op

If you can, try and take a picture of all the above. If there’s ever a time to be snapping mobile phone pics, this is it — take many photos of both cars from every angle possible.

Make sure to exchange information with the other driver(s), including:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • E-mail
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Insurance Company
  • Insured’s Policy Number

 

It’s Almost Over.

Generally, if you have only sustained minor property damage, your insurance company will take care of everything and you should not have to talk to a lawyer. If someone is injured, you may need to seek advice from a lawyer on how to resolve any issues that arise from the incident.

 

Will Daniels

Will Daniels is a law clerk with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA. A recent graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, Mr. Daniels is currently waiting on his bar results. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com

Legal duty to prevent personal injury on government land

No legal remedy for hikers
The Government is immune for recreational use of their property.

What’s legal for the government?  

A person is injured when a tree falls on him while he is walking on a paved path.  He is injured on an “improved portion” of public property owned by the County of Yolo in California.  He sues for personal injury.  The case is dismissed by a judge.  The Plaintiff appeals.

The appellate court finds that under Government Code § 831.2 the County of Yolo is immune from liability because the injury is caused by a feature of unimproved property, ie., the tree.

Yolo County
Yolo County

The appellate court cites Government Code §831.2, which extends a statutory immunity to injuries caused by a natural condition of any unimproved public property. The court also cites Rendak v. State of California (1971) 18 Cal.App.3d 286, 288, 95 Cal. Rptr. 665, saying “further improvement of a portion of a park area does not remove the immunity for the unimproved areas.“

The appellate court finds that the County does not owe a legal duty of care to a person to prevent injury by unimproved land. Plaintiff’s injuries were caused by decaying natural trees located on unimproved property. So, a government entity is not liable for injuries resulting from a natural hazard even when it attacks someone on improved property.  (See Arroyo v. State of California (1995) 34 Cal.App.4th 755, 762- 764, 40 Cal.Rptr.2d 627.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Confusing Auto Insurance Policies Confound Drivers

What?
Confused about your policy? You’re not the only one.

According to an online Harris Interactive poll, reported by Insurance Networking News, confusing insurance policy wording makes auto insurance policies incomprehensible to 36% of American drivers.

The survey revealed that 87% of drivers who currently have auto insurance said they had read at least some of their auto insurance policies, but that 36% of those drivers complained that their auto insurance policies were somewhat or very difficult to understand.

Despite the fact that more than 30 states have enacted laws intended to simplify policy language, the online quote aggregator says that many consumers are confused by how their policies are written, and struggle to determine what’s covered and what’s not.

Bear Flag RepublicThe irony with all this is, in California and many states, the law presumes that a consumer has read their insurance policy and understands its terms. I advise all my clients to read their policies as carefully as they can and then ask their broker/agent questions about the parts they don’t understand.

Not that this always helps. I have one case right now where the insured read their policy and thought they understood it, only to find out when their claim for a defense was denied that there was some case law the insurance company thought meant that the policy didn’t cover anything.

The truth is, right now the law favors insurance companies over consumers, so people need to watch their step and be very careful in buying and maintaining insurance.

And, yes, I read my own insurance policies and, no, I don’t understand everything I read, even though I litigate insurance disputes for a living.

What a world.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

Distracted driving can hurt your company bottom line

The National Safety Council today released the white paper “Employer Liability and the Case for Comprehensive Cell Phone Policies,” which details the potential liability employers face when employees are involved in crashes where cell phone use is a factor.

The research includes examples of employers who have been held liable with awards reaching into the tens of millions of dollars, including cases involving employee-owned cell phones and cars and in situations where employees were driving during non-working hours or engaged in personal phone calls.

“Business leaders owe it to their employees to put safety first – especially when employees are on the roads,” said Janet Froetscher, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimate on-the-job crashes cost employers more than $24,500 per property damage crash. The cost rises to $150,000 per injury and to as much as $3.6 million per fatality.

NSC president and CEO: “Employers should know a policy that prohibits handheld and hands-free cell phone use by all employees while driving is not only a best safety practice but also contributes to the bottom line.”

Even though April has been Distracted Drivers Awareness Month, distracted driving is still an everyday occurrence.  The news has reported that thousands of tickets have been issued to distracted drivers this month. You not only need to be aware of your driving, you need to be aware of the distracted drivers on the road with you.

Although distracted driving accidents may cost millions of dollars, the ultimate high price is the loss of loved ones. Drive alert, drive safe.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

Understanding Your Rights After an Auto Accident

For police, fire fighters and ambulance personnel trained to handle emergencies on a daily basis, car accidents are a daily occurrence; for them—and for personal injury attorneys— accidents are just another day at the office. For the rest of us it’s not that easy. There are some things you should remember that might not have been included in the driver’s manual you studied before getting your license. Here are some of your rights, as a victim, after an auto accident and what they mean:

You always have the right to hire an attorney after an accident. Your insurance company has attorneys and their insurance company has attorneys. You have a right to consult with an attorney to better explain your rights after an accident. He or she can advise you as to whether or not you have a case, exactly who and what you can sue for as well as give you an idea of what kind of settlement you can expect. An attorney can also advise you as to time limits to file your case and possibly keep you from losing before you have even gone to court. In particular, if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence you have the right to sue for things such as:

  • Bodily injuries
  • Past pain and suffering
  • Future pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Hospitalization expenses
  • Loss of ability to earn future money
  • Inconvenience
  • Property damage

You may also have the right to sue not only the driver of the other vehicle, but anyone else who may have been responsible for the accident. For example, if there was some defect to your car’s design or operation that caused the accident you may be able to sue the manufacturer.

You have the right to demand the other driver’s contact information such as driver’s license and insurance card, email address, and home, work, and cell phone numbers. This information is vital since not only will it allow you to be able to contact this person and his/her insurance company, but it will also be helpful if the other party is hiding the fact that he/she does not have insurance.

You have the right to take as many photos as you can. These days everyone has a camera within reach at nearly all times. Take pictures of the damage done to both cars and the area around the accident as well as any physical injuries. These photos can serve as invaluable tools in any future legal action.

You have the right to obtain the police report of the incident. Before the officer leaves the scene ask for his/her contact information such as badge number, name and department. Also ask for the reference or service number of the report. It should be made available to you after a few days.

You have a right to not make incriminating statements to the other party’s insurance company such as “It was my fault” or “I’m sorry.” The other party’s insurance is not your advocate. They are looking for admissions of guilt/liability and for reasons to deny your claim. You could end up saying something that could damage your case. A serious personal injury attorney in Los Angeles such as Daniels Law can communicate with the other party’s insurance.

For most of us accidents are a confusing time that tests our abilities at crisis management and also test our common sense and judgment.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Using rule based analysis and mindmapping to make a stronger point in personal injury cases

I’ve been working with two tools that I believe all trial lawyers need to master to improve how they organize their arguments in briefs and in the courtroom.

The first tool is Mind Mapping using the Mindjet MindManager Pro software.  The second is rule based organization, as taught in Rick Friedman’s book, Rules of the Road.

My first example is a mind map outline of a conventional negligence analysis.  You’ll notice the map documents negligence in the same way it is taught to law school first years in their torts class, that is, duty, breach, causation and damages.

This analysis technique works adequately when the fact pattern is simple, such as a traffic accident or an uncomplicated slip and fall.  But, I think we can improve on it.

Now, see how the analysis looks when you apply the rule-based approach in a mind map:

You can see that the rule-based analysis is simpler and more direct.  I think it puts the advocate in a better position to communicate their case clearly, because it forces the story into a simpler framework that is easier to understand.

Detailed legal analysis is great for attorneys thinking through their cases.  But when we try to force a trier of fact, particularly a lay jury, to follow a complex thought process, we are raising barriers to understanding rather than building bridges.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.