Year: 2011

Frontovers and Backovers

With summer finally here, children are beginning to play in their neighborhood streets and driveways, which increases the risk children face with frontover and backover accidents. In 2010, there were 70 frontover fatalities and 60 backover fatalities because children cannot be seen around vehicles. Toddlers 12-23 months represent 70% of these victims. These young children are most at risk because they are unable to realize and comprehend the dangers associated with moving vehicles.

According to Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org, “Children often don’t want to be left behind when a beloved relative is leaving; they impulsively follow them out and put themselves in a dangerous position near the vehicle where they can’t be seen.” The same thing happens when parents come home from work, and their children come running out to greet them. All vehicles have some sort of blind spots in the rear, front and corners, and even with proper use of the mirror, accidents can happen. Furthermore, inclines can increase the blind zones of these vehicles and increase the risk of a frontover or backover.

As for backover prevention, rear camera units are now being installed in newer model vehicles, which will decrease the risk of backover accidents. However, preventing frontovers continues to be a serious concern. Fennell advises, “KidsAndCars.org will continue to raise awareness and work to find solutions to eliminate these tragedies.”

Dehumidifiers: Keeping Homes Clean & Healthy

Families around the country have been using dehumidifiers for years in their homes to make them more comfortable. These devices are used to draw excess humidity from the air. In addition to making the homes more airy, dehumidifiers help to keep the general appearance of a room dry, clean, and well kept. Excess moisture can cause mildew growth and damage to furniture of all types, photos, carpets, and other valuables, so using a dehumidifier can help preserve your family’s treasures.

Dehumidifiers are used for health reasons also. Mold and mildew have been linked to a number of lung diseases, including asthma. If mold and mildew begin showing up in your house, you should consider purchasing a dehumidifier.

If you decide to buy one, place it in a location where the moisture problem is the greatest, where mold, mildew, and musty odors are evident. This may be the basement, or a room where the ventilation is poor. It is important to keep the moisture level low if you store anything valuable there, or if you use your basement as a living space. Unlike the rest of your home, the parts of your foundation that are below ground level are constantly in contact with moisture from the earth outside. Though some homes have adequate vapor and water barriers installed outside their foundations, many older homes have none.
You may need more than one dehumidifier if moisture problems are in several areas of your home. If you put the device in a room with running water, be sure to keep it away from the water supply to avoid electrocution. It is also wise to place the dehumidifier away from the thermostat, since the fans blow warm air and could compromise the thermostat’s effectiveness.

It’s also important to allow plenty of open space around the dehumidifier so it can work properly. After you purchase the appliance, read the owner’s manual and follow the instructions. Typically, dehumidifiers won’t operate to their full capacities at temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you modify the device to drain the collected water into a sink or floor drain, be sure to locate it above the drain so it functions properly. You can adjust your dehumidifier so it turns on and off as needed.

Dehumidifiers help homes to stay clean and healthy. However, there have been recent recalls of dehumidifiers due to a potential fire hazard. Be cautious when you purchase the device; if you’ve already purchased one, check to see if it is on the recall list.

After four reports of fires, 98,000 portable dehumidifiers manufactured by Goldstar and Comfort-Aire were recently voluntarily recalled due to a potential fire hazard caused by shorting power connectors. Models recalled include No. GHD30Y7, sold at Home Depot, No. DH305Y7, sold at Wal-Mart, and Comfort-Aire BHD-301-C, sold at Heat Controller, Inc. The dehumidifiers were sold from January 2007 through June 2008. Consumers are advised to discontinue use of the dehumidifiers and to schedule a free repair service at an LG service center. Visitwww.cpsc.gov/ for more information on consumer product recalls. (The Safety Report)

A Word from Abraham Lincoln

This document fragment was dated July 1, 1850 by Abraham Lincoln’s White House secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, who collected many of his manuscripts after his death. The note in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln indicates that Lincoln could have written these observations several years later than 1850. It is not known, however, if Lincoln ever delivered this lecture.

In these notes Lincoln provides a glimpse of how he worked and the high standards of diligence and honesty he set. He has sharp words for the dishonest and unscrupulous members of the bar, calling them “fiends” and “knaves.” He warns prospective lawyers, “if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.”

“I am not an accomplished lawyer. I find quite as much material for a lecture in those points wherein I have failed, as in those wherein I have been moderately successful. The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done to-day. Never let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever piece of business you have in hand, before stopping, do all the labor pertaining to it which can then be done. When you bring a common-law suit, if you have the facts for doing so, write the declaration at once. If a law point be involved, examine the books, and note the authority you rely on upon the declaration itself, where you are sure to find it when wanted. The same of defenses and pleas. In business not likely to be litigated, — ordinary collection cases, foreclosures, partitions, and the like, — make all examinations of titles, and note them, and even draft orders and decrees in advance. This course has a triple advantage; it avoids omissions and neglect, saves your labor when once done, performs the labor out of court when you have leisure, rather than in court when you have not. Extemporaneous speaking should be practised and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech. And yet there is not a more fatal error to young lawyers than relying too much on speech-making. If any one, upon his rare powers of speaking, shall claim an exemption from the drudgery of the law, his case is a failure in advance.

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitually overhauls the register of deeds in search of defects in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it.

The matter of fees is important, far beyond the mere question of bread and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller justice is done to both lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee should never be claimed. As a general rule never take your whole fee in advance, nor any more than a small retainer. When fully paid beforehand, you are more than a common mortal if you can feel the same interest in the case, as if something was still in prospect for you, as well as for your client. And when you lack interest in the case the job will very likely lack skill and diligence in the performance. Settle the amount of fee and take a note in advance. Then you will feel that you are working for something, and you are sure to do your work faithfully and well. Never sell a fee note — at least not before the consideration service is performed. It leads to negligence and dishonesty — negligence by losing interest in the case, and dishonesty in refusing to refund when you have allowed the consideration to fail.

There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.”

Brain Cancer linked with Cell Phones?

A branch of the World Health Organization, The International Agency for Research on Cancer has officially linked cellphone usage with being “possibly carcinogenic.” It only points out the “possibility” of a link and the need for caution when using cellular devices.

Cell phones emit radio waves during phone calls and other data transmissions, and this is a form of electromagnetic radiation. It is not clear how large quantities of these waves affect our biological tissues, but some scientists believe that these waves may spur the growth of brain tumors.

Studies have shown there there is a spike in glioma tumor rates among people with the highest level of cellphone usage–those who talk for at least a half hour per day for a decade. There has not been a correlation for less frequent users.

You can best minimize your radiation exposure by using a headset/bluetooth device, which allows you to use your cellphone without holding the phone to your ear. The power radiated from the phone drops enormously with distance, and some scientists even say that you can decrease your exposure by holding your phone and inch or two away from your ear during phone calls.

Buy a headset…It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Kids and Driveway Safety

Every year thousands of children are injured or killed by drivers accidentally backing over them. These accidents usually occur in residential driveways or in parking lots. Because more people are driving larger, longer and higher vehicles, we are seeing more of these back-over accidents. Tragically, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel in more than 70 percent of such incidents which involve children as young as 12 months up to 14 years of age.

Tips for Keeping Kids Safe:Always assume children could be present, and carefully check the street, driveway, and the area around your vehicle before backing out. Another good idea is to walk around and behind your vehicle prior to moving it.

  • When backing up, always know where all children are and have them stay in your full view and away from your vehicle.
  • Always look behind as you back out S-L-O-W-L-Y with your windows rolled down to listen for children who may have dashed behind your vehicle suddenly- and be prepared to stop!
  • Use extreme care whenever you back up. If you’re driving an SUV or truck, remember that the blind spot behind your vehicle can be especially large.
  • Never leave children alone in or around cars, not even for one minute.
  • Trim landscaping around driveways to remove any visual obstructions.
  • Make sure all children passengers have left the car after it is parked.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway and always set the parking brake.
  • Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
  • Hold your child’s hand firmly while walking from a car into a building.
  • Never let your child walk or run ahead of you to anyplace where cars are.
  • Make your driveway a toy-free zone. Never allow any toys, bikes, chalks or any type of equipment to remain on the driveway.
  • Teach children not to play in, under, or around vehicles- ever.
  • Avoid making your driveway a ‘playground.’ If you do allow children in this area, make sure that it’s only when there are no vehicles present.
  • Teach your children that parked vehicles might move.

This list may seem long, but it is not exhaustive. Here at Berglund & Johnson we assist folks daily in dealing with personal injuries and other traumatic events. Our years of experience have taught us the value of being prepared. That is why we at Berglund & Johnson will continue to provide any information that could be useful to our clients and friends for their safety.

What is Character

Wikipedia has several definitions, but we like this one best: an evaluation of a particular individual’s moral qualities.

Character is the constellation of traits that we demonstrate on a consistent basis.

Character is something you show when people aren’t watching.

Your character can be influenced by upbringing, culture, world view, religion and many other factors.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines character in several ways, using words like moral or ethical strength; attributes, traits or abilities; and competency, dependability and reputation.

Today, unfortunately, character is often confused with success. Success seems to be the only thing that counts, and success is often measured by money and possessions. How you acquired that “success” doesn’t seem to be important. That is why there is such turmoil in our society and the world. Character has been forgotten or ignored.

Injured on the Job?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA), work-related accidents and illnesses claim over two million lives every year. Over 250 million accidents in the workplace cause victims to miss up three days of work.

Construction sites are one of the most hazardous job locations in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 350,000 suffered disabling injuries with another 1,000 people dying in 1995. More than 30 percent of injuries and fatalities are due to falls from defective ladders or scaffolds. That’s why construction companies and all contractors and subcontractors must ensure employees work in safe conditions, inform them of inherent job hazards, provide safety training, and enforce compliance with safety regulations.

A construction worker’s safety also depends heavily on the condition of their equipment. Manufacturers are responsible for design and production defects in their equipment. Tools and structures necessary for construction must meet basic safety requirements. Injuries caused by failure of equipment may be eligible for compensation from the manufacturer under laws for defective products.

At time, workers’ compensation alone will not cover all of an injured employee’s expenses, particularly if the injuries were serious and debilitating. In these cases, the personal injury lawyers at Berglund & Johnson will investigate the liability of a negligent third party. Third parties can include manufacturers of defective products, a supervising subcontractor or the owner or others responsible for the jobsite.

Should you require assistance with a job-related injury, please contact us for an immediate free evaluation of your situation. It is critical after a workplace accident that evidence be preserved and the responsible third-party located right away.

‘Rock-N-Roll’ and Ice in Flight

Over 50 years ago in 1959, a small private single engine plane took off from Clear Lake, Iowa shortly after 1 a.m. bound for Fargo, N.D. It did not get far. A cold northeasterly wind gave way to heavy snow, reducing visibility to almost whiteout conditions. One wing hit the ground and the plane crashed. The accident claimed the lives of Rock-N-Roll legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. “Big Popper” Richardson and the pilot, Roger Peterson.

The cause was most likely pilot error due to inexperience with instrumentation flight. When visibility is lost due to heavy snow and high winds, it is easy to get disoriented and fly into the ground. While some have said that “Rock-N-Roll” died that day, the “Rock-N-Roll” genre of music lives on and has infiltrated country, religious and even classical music!

Dave Berglund, Senior Litigation Attorney at Berglund & Johnson is an instrument-rated pilot and understands the significant weather conditions and how the pilot’s experience can make for a safe flight. Berglund & Johnson has handled several aviation accident cases from single engine light airplanes to commercial passenger airliners, such as Southwest flight #1455, which over-shot the runway at Burbank Airport and crashed into a gas station. Berglund & Johnson’s experience as seasoned litigators, combined with having a licensed instrument rated pilot on board, makes for the right combination to represent aviation accident victims and/or their families.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of an aviation accident, call us at 1-800-4-IF-HURT (1-800-443-4878) for a free, no-obligation evaluation.

Protecting Victims from Unethical Legal Practices

As in any profession, there are those who give others a bad name. For those who practice personal injury law, it’s the unscrupulous attorneys who improperly and aggressively solicit the representation of victims of major accidents.

In 2008, before the dust even settled from the Metrolink Train 111 crash, some attorneys found the names of victims and pursued them right away, even going into hospitals looking for potential clients- a practice that is illegal in California.

“Any unsolicited contact with a potential client, either in person or by telephone (and perhaps even by mail), by an attorney or someone acting on his or her behalf is both illegal and unethical,” warned the California State Bar’s chief trial counsel, Scott J. Drexel, in a letter to area hospitals.

He also cautioned potential claimants against agreeing to unsolicited representation or quick settlements, as many victims and families may not be thinking clearly in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy.

If you need a reputable attorney, look for one the same way you would a good doctor or dentist- ask for recommendations from trusted friends or associates. Here at Berglund & Johnson, we are thankful that many of our referrals come from past clients, other practicing attorneys, judges and church pastors.

ABC’s of Dog Safety

Each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites, half of which are children. Of those injured, 386,000 require emergency treatment and about a dozen die from their wounds. Dog-bite related injuries are highest among children ages 5 to 9; the rate decreases as children get older.

Some basic safety rules for children when they encounter dogs:

  • Do not approach or play with an unfamiliar dog, unless supervised by an adult.
  • Before you pet a dog, allow it to see and sniff you first.
  • Stand still if approached by a strange dog. (“Be still like a tree.”) Don’t run away screaming.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (“Be still like a log.”)
  • Report strays or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog while it is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.

Under California state law, a dog’s owner is liable for any damages suffered by a victim in an attack that happens in a public area or lawfully in a private place. If the injury takes place in a dog owner’s home, the homeowner’s liability insurance will compensate for the damages.

At Berglund & Johnson, we have represented many dog-bite victims over the past 32 years. We have established relationships with highly skilled medical providers who are experts in treating bite wounds and plastic surgery for scar revision, when necessary.