Tag: Personal Injury

The cost of justice - gavel and money

How Much Money/Compensation Can I Win in a CA Personal Injury Suit?

Talking about winning money in a personal injury suit can feel uncomfortable for some people who bristle at the thought of courtrooms, lawyers, and making demands for money. But, after an accident occurs, someone has to pay for the medical bills (which can skyrocket over the months and years) and victims are often left in a state where they cannot work at their previous level and endure pain and suffering. Ultimately, these costs will occur as a result of the accident, regardless of your decision to sue, and the question is then whether you as the innocent victim should shoulder those costs or, instead, the defendant whose negligent acts caused your injuries should pay those costs. Thus, while it may be uncomfortable, understanding what compensation you can win in your California personal injury suit is extremely important for you and your family to understand.

Your Medical Care Costs

If you have been injured by another’s negligence, that defendant is liable for the full cost of your medical care for injuries resulting from the act or accident, even if your insurance paid for care. This includes medical care costs you received prior to bringing suit as well as projected costs for the care you might need in the years going forward, including rehabilitation and in-home care.

Your Lost Income and Reduced Earning Potential

If you had to miss work due to your injuries, you can sue for your lost income. In certain serious and catastrophic injuries, plaintiffs find themselves unable to pursue a career they had been working towards prior to the injury, and can sue for the lifetime differential between what they would have earned had their injuries not occurred and what they can earn now.

Your Pain and Suffering

Beyond your cost of medical care and lost income, you may also experience pain and suffering, such as persistent soreness, ongoing pain in affected areas, frequent headaches, inability to perform physical functions, and depression and other types of trauma. Your attorney will fight to ensure that you are compensated for the unwanted pain and suffering that accompany your injuries.  

Punitive Damages Where a Defendant Acted Egregiously

In some cases where a defendant acted particularly egregiously – such as where a manufacturer ignored safety warnings to put a dangerous product in the market or an individual intentionally injured another person – a court can also award punitive damages on top of the other costs to deter future defendants from acting in this manner. Where applicable, punitive damages can be extremely significant and the most substantial part of a plaintiff’s financial recovery.

Contact a Southern California Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation

Ultimately, the best way to learn what compensation you might be entitled to in a settlement or at trial is to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can assess your situation and provide you with a range of legal strategies to pursue.

At Berglund & Johnson, we have decades of experience in winning compensation for personal injury victims across Southern California, and our attorneys are committed to serving our clients in an honorable, ethical, and compassionate manner. Contact Berglund & Johnson today at 1-800-4IF-HURT to schedule a brief, no-hassle consultation to discuss your auto accident and see how we might be of service to you and your family.

Happy Senior Couple Reviewing Finances At Home

When is Changing a Will Financial Elder Abuse in CA?

Under California law, individuals have the right to leave their assets to whomever they choose, outside of community property rules which dictate the minimum assets a surviving spouse should receive from an estate. Other than that, an individual may decide in his dying days to disinherit all of his children and leave his estate to his favorite sandwich artist at the local deli if he so chooses, and the law will allow that. But such changes to a will must be taken voluntarily by a testator (the person creating a will), in accord with formality requirements for a will such as having the proper number of witnesses, and not be the result of undue influence by another party. If a person uses undue influence to get an elder to change his or her will, then the will can be invalidated, but the elder and/or his family can act now to bring a financial elder abuse claim against a wrongdoer who seeks to financially exploit elders.

Defining Undue Influence in California

Of course, anytime a testator changes a will to benefit a different beneficiary, it could be said that the new beneficiary influenced the testator. If a neighbor comes over to an elderly person’s house for 10 years straight to befriend that person and help him or her out, that is certainly an influence, and it is perfectly acceptable for the elderly person to take that influence under consideration in changing her will in favor of the neighbor.

Undue influence, on the other hand, is where a would-be beneficiary exercises an improper type of influence to get an elderly person to change a will. California law defines undue influence as including:

  • Using real or apparent authority over another person to get an unfair advantage over him
  • Taking an unfair advantage of another’s weakness of mind
  • Taking a grossly oppressive and unfair advantage of another’s necessities or distress

Examples of Undue Influence  

With those definitions of undue influence in mind, consider the following hypothetical examples of what a California court might determine to be use of undue influence and thus grounds for a financial elder abuse lawsuit:

  • A nursing home employee telling a resident he should change his will in order to continue receiving care
  • A “friend” of an elderly person suffering from dementia telling her that her family members have all turned against her in an attempt to get her to change her will
  • An in-home caregiver who has changed the password on a homeowner’s bank accounts persuading a homeowner to change his will in exchange for the password

These are just a few examples that might apply, and you should speak with an experienced elder abuse attorney to determine whether you have grounds for an elder abuse lawsuit.

Contact the Elder Abuse Attorneys at Berglund & Johnson Today

If you suspect that you or an elderly family member has been subject to financial elder abuse, include the use of undue influence to change a will, the elder abuse attorneys at Berglund & Johnson are here to help. We are committed to serving the legal needs of you and your family in an honorable, ethical, and compassionate manner. Contact Berglund & Johnson today at 1-800-4IF-HURT to schedule a brief, no-hassle consultation to discuss your situation and see how we might be of service to you and your family.

Female Driver Sending Text Message Whilst Driving

Texting While Driving: Who Wins in a California Accident Lawsuit?

Distracted driving kills thousands of people a year, and hundreds of thousands of people are injured by distracted driving, yet over a third of teenagers admit to texting while driving. We all know texting while driving is dangerous yet the truth is many teenagers and adults do it, and, even where they may not be texting, other drivers are distracted by music, podcast, email, GPS, and all other sorts of applications on their phone. California has comprehensive laws addressing the use of wireless devices by drivers, but what does that mean for a person who is injured in a car accident when cell phone use is involved? Continue reading “Texting While Driving: Who Wins in a California Accident Lawsuit?”

Figuring the cost of healthcare

Do I Need A Lawyer to Settle a California Accidental Injury Claim?

If you’ve been in an accident recently causing you injury, the last thing you might feel like doing right now is contacting a lawyer you’ve never met to talk about the process of pursuing a legal claim. Many people bristle at the thought of lawyers and lawsuits, which may stem from having a bad experience with the law or a lawyer in the past. Or the whole thing might just seem like a giant headache at the same time you’re dealing with the massive headaches of feeling traumatized, beat-up, and bruised while dealing with work complications and questions of money. And in a lot of cases, the person that injured you and/or their insurer might be offering you an immediate settlement for your injuries with the encouragement that “we don’t need to get lawyers involved.” Continue reading “Do I Need A Lawyer to Settle a California Accidental Injury Claim?”

LAWSUIT DEADLINES – STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Most lawsuits MUST be filed within a limited amount of time. Once the statute of limitations on a potential case has expired, you do not have a valid legal claim any longer.

The period of time during which you can file a lawsuit depends on the type of legal claim. Here are the statutes of limitations for some common legal matters:

  • Personal injury: Two years from the injury.
  • Medical malpractice: Three years from the date of the injury but shortened to one year from the date of reasonable suspicion when you knew or should have known.
  • Breach of a written contract: Four years from the date the contract was broken.
  • Breach of an oral contract: Two years from the date the contract was broken.
  • Property damage: Three years from the date the damage occurred.
  • Claims against government agencies: You must file a claim with the agency within 6 months of the incident. If the claim is denied, you can then file your lawsuit in court and the regular statute of limitations applies.

Determining the statute of limitations on a claim is not easy. If you have any doubts about how to calculate the time you have, you should talk to an attorney.

Is Your House Safe or an “Accident” Waiting to Happen?

We always refer to incidents as “accidents” when, in actuality, most “accidents” are anything but. With a little care, they could have been prevented. So, what are you doing to make sure your house isn’t an accident waiting to happen?

You ask, “What can you do?” Well, first, you have to know what areas can become problems, and therefore, it might first be a good idea to sit down with your family and make a list. Not only is this good for safety, but it’s also a good way to educate your children, if you have them, and a good time for simple, old fashioned communication – something we seriously lack in this age of technology.

What should the list entail? I would suggest the following areas to discuss and inspect. By all means, this is not an exhaustive list, and feel free to add to it.

Smoke Detectors – Make sure they are operating properly. If they are battery operated, test them and make sure the batteries are replaced regularly. Hard-wired detectors are typically better than battery, but you have to make sure you have a backup in the event the power goes out.

Fire Extinguishers – This is one of the simplest and most cost-effective measures you can take. The extinguishers need to be easily accessible, and you should learn how to operate them before the need arises. I have actually had the occasion to use one in our house when the wire to the propane tank on our grill caught fire. That was a disaster averted. Additionally, you might want to think about stove top extinguishers. These could prevent serious injuries in the event of a stove or oven fire.

Electrical Outlets – We rarely check on these, but in old houses, these can be the cause of major fires. They need to be properly grounded, and if you have any questions, have a licensed electrician come in and evaluate your home. Also, make sure they are not overloaded. In addition, check the wires in your house to all your lamps, appliances, and other electrical items to make sure they are not frayed and fire hazards. You might even consider asking the local fireman to provide you with an inspection.

Light bulbs – They have different watts for a reason. Make sure you have the proper bulbs in your various lamps and lights.

Fire Place – If you have a fireplace and enjoy having fires in your home during winter, make sure you have it inspected and checked out each year. Various chemicals and materials can collect in the flues and chimneys and cause fires, so you want to keep them clean.

Vents/Heaters – If you have ever looked at the tops of your water heaters or the backs of a dryer, you will notice that they begin collecting dust and lent. With gas heaters, fire hazards can be present, and you should clean these regularly to prevent the danger.

Gas Leaks – Another potential problem can arise with these heaters – gas leaks. This can not only lead to fire hazards but also to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you ever smell gas, make sure you have the gas company come out IMMEDIATELY for an inspection. Gas is never anything to play around with.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors – With the above said, it is also a good idea to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home. There has been some controversy over the effectiveness of these detectors, but if you do your research, you can find the best ones for your home. At the very least, it is another level of safety. Make sure you test them regularly, especially if they are battery operated, and just as with smoke detectors, have a backup for them if they are hard wired.

Child Proofing – Make sure you put protection on hard corners of furniture, cover electrical outlets, and put locks on cabinets containing poisonous chemicals. It doesn’t take long for your child to get into trouble, so be prepared. Also, put gates on stairways so they don’t fall down a flight of stairs. A simple gate and locks can avoid trips to the ER.

Heavy Appliances and Furniture – this goes along with child proofing, but make sure your heavy appliances and furniture are not in a place where they can fall over and injure a child, or anyone for that matter. Typically, these types of incidents occur with televisions and shelving.

Stairs – Make sure you keep stairs clear of various items. I am constantly removing my children’s things from the stairways. I can just picture the incident in my mind – step on a golf ball and break my neck, or worse, one of my children doing the same. This is easily avoidable. Also, make sure you check the banister/handrails to ensure they are secure.

Outside Lighting – Make sure the outside of your home has adequate lighting. If bulbs go out, replace them. The last thing you want is family members or visitors tripping and injuring themselves as a result of inadequate lighting.

Outside Maintenance – Walk around your house once or twice a year to make sure there are no dangerous areas. Not only is it good for safety, but it keeps your house maintained for value.

Dead Trees – If you know there is a dead tree on your property, have it removed. Don’t wait for a storm to come by or the wind to blow it over. You don’t want it to damage your neighbor’s home or property or fall and injure someone.

Fences/Dogs – If you own a dog, make sure you abide by all local regulations. It’s a good idea to either have a fence or electrical fence. This is especially true if your dog has a history of aggression or if it is considered a dangerous breed: pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, huskies, Alaskan malamutes, Doberman pinschers, chow chows, presa canarios, boxers, and dalmations are considered the top ten most dangerous breeds based on a study done analyzing the AVMA, CDC, and Humane Society. More importantly, however, is the owner of the dog. Most problem dogs are the ones who are not properly trained.

Evacuation – Have an evacuation plan in the event of a fire or other emergency. Go over it with your family and practice. Make sure children know what to do and where to meet in the event you get separated.

These are just some of the things to think about with respect to home safety. Do some of your own investigation. There are many resources on the internet these days. Don’t leave accidents and injuries to chance. Prevent them by being proactive and not reactive.

-Our colleagues at The Safety Report, Jon Lewis, attorney at Lewis, Feldman & Lehane, LLC

Buying the Right Ski Equipment

By now, you’ve probably learned how to ski, but do you know which ski equipment is safest to use? It is very important to take the time to choose equipment that is safe and comfortable for you. There are many variables you must consider before buying your ski equipment, such as:

  • Gender
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Skill level
  • Expected terrain
  • Snow conditions

Boots

Whether you are skiing or snowboarding, your movements will be governed by your ankles and feet, and so it is important to start with boots before you buy skis. Buy comfortable boots that will be compatible with your skill level; your boot stiffness will increase with skill level. Make sure your bindings pair correctly with your skis or board.

Poles

Select your poles by turning them upside down and holding them by their baskets. The angle of your elbows should be at 90 degrees. If they are more than 90 degrees, try shorter poles, and if they are less than 90 degrees, try longer poles.

Helmet and Goggles

Make sure your helmet fits snugly but comfortably on your head with a comfortable chin strap. Your goggles should fit tightly with the front rim of your helmet. If there is a gap, your goggles will fog and it will impair your vision on the slopes.

Now you’re ready to safely hit the slopes

Preventing Burns at Home

The topic of burns in the home is little discussed. However, if you ask any emergency room doctor, you will know how serious & prevalent scalding injuries are. It is important to protect yourself and your family with safeguards that will help reduce the likelihood of suffering a serious burn injury.

Seventy-five percent of scalds and burns happen at home. It only takes one second of contact with water or liquid hotter than 155°F to get a third degree burn, just 15 seconds with water temperature of 133°F or higher. Third degree burns are very serious and require immediate medical attention. Third degree burns create full thickness destruction of the skin; therefore, skin grafts and months of rehabilitation are required. Burns damage the skin, which protects us against infection, and makes us more likely to gain serious infections that could be life threatening.

Children age 14 and younger are at risk for burns at home. Each year 24,000 children are treated in emergency rooms in the United States for burns not associated with fires. That means that one child is seriously enough burned to be taken to the emergency room every 22 minutes. Children do not fully understand their surrounds at these ages yet remain curious about everything around them. They have thinner skin, which gives them less protection against burns. Non-fire related burns are the leading cause of death for children 4 and younger.

Adults over the age of 65 are at great risk as well. Elderly person have weaker immune systems and preexisting medical conditions, which would add to the likelihood of going through more extensive treatment for burns. Their reflexes are slower, their eyesight is poorer, and most of their body systems are compromised, which gives them a diminished judgment. Most of their injuries occur at home and are associated with hot food or water.

While, most people think that the kitchen is the most dangerous place to get a burn, few would think that the bathroom or exposed radiators are just as dangerous. Most people associate the bathroom as a place of comfort and relaxation. However, it is second only to the kitchen as to where the most burns occur. Cases involving parents who unknowingly put their kids in extremely hot bath water without first checking the temperatures are common. The kids in turn get third degree burns over their entire bodies. This leads to medical care in the form of skin grafts and long-term rehabilitation. Other than burns, people could break bones or tear ligaments trying to get out of an extremely hot shower or bath.

These injuries can easily be prevented. Always check the bath and shower water before getting in. You must make sure that your water heater is not set higher than 120°F; this will greatly reduce the likelihood of being burned and spikes in water temperature while you are in the shower. If you rent, notify your landlord via written letter or e-mail if there is a problem with the water being too hot or the water becoming very hot because someone flushed a toilet. Therefore, if a burn does occur because the landlord failed to fix the water heater or pipes than you will be protected. Remind your landlord that the law requires him or her to make the appropriate corrections for a tenant’s safety.

In the winter, people turn the heat up and exposed radiators will become exceptionally hot. Since radiators are not hot all the time children cannot distinguish when they are hot or cold. Even adults could easily fall into them if distracted. Elderly people with preexisting medical problems might become incapacitated in some way (faint, loss of consciousness, etc.) and land on a heated radiator. This is very severe if they live alone, because by the time anyone finds them, they will have significant burns on their body. Therefore, putting a protective screen or barrier around exposed radiators ensures that no one will be burned accidently.

Scalding injuries in the kitchen pose even greater dangers than in the bathroom. Cooking temperatures are frequently close to boiling, which will cause third degree burns in less than a second. Most accidents in the kitchen involve hot liquids being spilled such as coffee or soup. It takes seconds to turn a delicious beef stew into a life changing burn. The dangers arise in two forms: the cooking process and the transporting of hot liquids. Kids, naturally, are going to gravitate to what their parents are doing. A parent must be constantly aware when the kids are in the kitchen and take the precautions to keep them safe. Therefore, using the back burners when possible and keeping the handles of pots faced in will ensure that you will not accidently spill. Also, never leave children alone in the kitchen when you are cooking, and if they are in the kitchen with you, make sure they cannot reach anything that could spill or is hot.

The most common type of injury that could lead to severe scalding & a house fire is boiling oil. While it might be your first instinct to through water on oil that catches fire, this is a bad idea. Instead, while you cook, keep a lid or flat cookie sheet within reach. Therefore, if flames appear you can suffocate them.

If in the unfortunate case that you do get burn, there are specific steps that you should take to reduce the effects. First, stop the burning process and then remove any clothing that is burned. If the clothing is attached to your skin, do not attempt to remove it. Once this is done, pour cool water over (not cold or hot) the burned area for 3-5 minutes or until the ambulance arrives. Then cover the area with a clean dressing (it could be gauze, bandage or a sheet). If you have burns to your face, neck, hands, feet or genital areas or if there are blisters and severe burned skin you must seek immediate medical attention. Remember do not apply any aloe or other ointments because it may cause infection. Also, remember not to break any blisters and wear loose fitting clothing while the burns are healing. If you have any doubt, seek medical care.

-Samuel Davis (The Safety Report)

Bicyclists Beware!

The California Vehicle Code 21650.1 section states that “[a] bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.”

Traffic collisions involving automobiles and bicyclists are frequent. You must be careful to obey this law. Motorists are usually looking in the opposite direction as they are merging onto the roadway and not expecting traffic from the opposite direction.

Nevertheless, you may still have a claim if you were injured in the crosswalk or the sidewalk due to the negligence of a motorist. An argument can be made that the crosswalk or sidewalk are not considered as a roadway where vehicles are driven. Bottomline, be careful!

If you are the unfortunate bicyclist who is injured due to the negligence of a motorist, call us at Berglund & Johnson (1-800-443-4878) for a free consultation.

Happy biking and be safe.

Asbestos: What you should know

Whether it was woven into popcorn ceilings and insulation or used for its flame-retardant, chemical-resistant properties, asbestos once held promise in the late-19th century as an essential manufacturing and building material. This naturally occurring silicate mineral, made of thin fibrous crystals, was considered invaluable for protecting structures and the people inside.

However, in recent decades, asbestos has proven to be toxic and a far greater danger to people. Today, it is known that if its fibrous material is inhaled, it can cause rare form of cancer, known as mesothelioma.

Since the mid-1980s, many uses of asbestos have been banned in several countries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the seriousness of asbestos and has a Web site providing more information at www.epa.gov/asbestos.

Nearly all cases of mesothelioma are related to asbestos fibers, which were inhaled at work. However, many more people were exposed to the material indirectly, such as families who lived with workers exposed to asbestos. Anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. Studies predict that there could be 300,000 cases before 2030.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma (including any type of pleural, lung or chest cancer) or asbestos cancer, you may be entitled to collect from negligent companies that disregarded the health and safety of American workers.

Call Berglund & Johnson for a free consultation: 1-800-4-IF-HURT (1-800-443-4878)