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Is it illegal to wear headphones while driving?
Many drivers enjoy listening to music, audio books, or radio programs to pass the time during their daily commute. However, in some circumstances, these types of in-vehicle entertainment can prove dangerously distracting. As a result, California is one of several states that have laws restricting how drivers use audio media while operating a vehicle.
The Dangers of Driving While Using Headphones
Being able to hear what's going on around the vehicle—such as the sounds of traffic, approaching emergency vehicles, or potential hazards like screeching tires—is essential to defensive and safe driving. Playing music or other audio media too loudly can make it difficult for drivers to hear sounds that could help them avoid accidents. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that listening to audio media through headphones, earphones, or earbuds not only further diminishes a driver's ability to hear critical sounds around them, but also increases their cognitive distraction level.
California has long banned the use of headphones and earplugs while driving or biking, but until just a few years ago, it was perfectly legal to wear earphones or earbuds. That changed on January 1, 2016, when a state law went into effect making it illegal to wear earbuds on top of the ears (these types of earbuds are also sometimes referred to as earphones) or inside the ear canal—regardless of whether they're actually playing audio. Motorists who violate the law can face fines of $160 or more. Additionally, though California law prohibits headphones, earphones, or earbuds on or in both ears, drivers using a single earphone or earbud are still in compliance.
Do You Need an Experienced Car Accident Attorney?
If you were seriously injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of a driver who was wearing both headphones, earphones, or earbuds at the time of the accident, you may have grounds for a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. Have questions about your case? Call the Inland Empire Law Group at 888-694-3529 or 909-481-0100, or complete our online contact form to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
Will I be fired for reporting sexual harassment to my employer?
Thanks to California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employees have the right to a workplace free of “unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” The law also prohibits workplace harassment based on gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or marital status.
Retaliating Against Employees for Reporting Sexual Harassment Is Against Federal Law
Sadly, when sexual harassment does occur, employees are often hesitant to report it to their employer due to a fear of facing negative consequences. Fortunately, the very law that gives employees the right to a harassment-free workplace also protects them from retaliation for filing a complaint, assisting in an investigation or testifying in a sexual harassment-related proceeding. FEHA prohibits unlawful retaliation in the form of poor performance reviews, demotions to lower-ranking positions, assignments to less favorable shifts or positions, termination, and other negative employment actions.
When an employee reports sexual harassment, California law requires employers to complete a thorough investigation and take prompt action against offenders if the investigation confirms the complaint. However, if employers fail to uphold their duty under the law, employees may have to fight for their rights. When that happens, an experienced California personal injury attorney can help.
Consult a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney
If you experienced sexual harassment in the workplace—or retaliation for filing a sexual harassment complaint—the skilled personal injury attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can help you understand your legal rights and options. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may even be entitled to both economic and non-economic compensation for damages.
Don't let someone else's inappropriate workplace behavior put your own career in jeopardy. The Inland Empire Law Group represents California sexual harassment clients from offices in Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation. We're eager to help you fight for the justice you deserve.
How do I report sexual harassment to my employer in California?
Having inappropriate sexual jokes, derogatory comments, innuendo, unwanted touching, and repeated or aggressive requests for sexual favors directed toward you on the job creates an extremely hostile workplace. Fortunately, California's Fair Employment and Housing Act—also known as FEHA—not only prohibits workplace sexual discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, it also requires employers to take reasonable steps to prevent such behavior, and correct it when it occurs.
It Is Imperative to Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
If you've experienced sexual harassment at work, it's important to report the harassment to your employer as soon as possible to give them the opportunity to take the necessary corrective action. The law requires employers to have a written anti-harassment policy in place; this policy should specify whom to approach with sexual harassment complaints. Depending on the structure of your company, this person may be your direct supervisor, a human resources manager, a diversity or equal employment opportunity coordinator, or a designated ombudsperson. In some cases, employees may be advised to direct their complaints to a company anti-harassment hotline.
Employers who understand their obligations under the FEHA often work to resolve sexual harassment complaints as quickly as possible. However, if the employer fails to put a stop to sexually inappropriate behaviors in the workplace, the victim can file a harassment complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Submitting this complaint to the DFEH is a prerequisite for filing a sexual harassment lawsuit in California. While California legislators are considering extending the time to file a claim, as of the date of the post, the time limit for filing a claim is one year from the date of the last act.
When filing a complaint with the DFEH, you can request the immediate issuance of a “right to sue” notice or wait for them to issue the notice after thoroughly investigating your claims. Once you've received a right to sue notice, you have one year to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for workplace harassment.
Consult a Knowledgeable Attorney
If you've experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, the skilled attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can help you understand your legal rights and options for compensation. Contact us today at (909) 481-0100 or (888) 694-3529 to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
Who is at fault in a left-turn accident?
Left-turn accidents are an all-too-common occurrence in California. These crashes occur when a vehicle making a left-hand turn collides with a vehicle that's headed straight, generally in the opposite direction. Left-turn accidents can result in serious injuries and property damages, leading to significant medical expenses and unexpected time away from work.
California law requires that vehicles intending to make a left-hand turn yield the right of way to vehicles approaching in the opposite direction, and wait until it's safe to make their turn. As a result, when left-turn crashes occur, the driver making the left-hand turn is almost always found liable. However, there are some exceptions. Left-turning drivers may not be liable—or may only be partially liable—in the following scenarios:
- The driver heading straight was traveling at an excessive speed.
- The driver heading straight didn't obey traffic lights or signage, such as a red light or stop sign.
- The driver turning left initiated the turn while it was safe, but unexpected circumstances required them to slow, swerve or stop.
- The driver going straight was under the influence of alcohol or drugs thereby contributing to the collision.
- The driver proceeding straight was talking, texting, or otherwise distracted thereby making their actions a cause of the collision.
- The driver heading straight acted in a way to increase likelihood of the collision.
If you were injured in a left-turn accident that wasn't your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, property damages, lost wages, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other damages. Because California follows pure comparative fault rules, accident victims may still be able to collect compensation, even if they were partially responsible for the crash and their injuries—however, their financial recovery will be reduced to reflect the percentage of their liability.
Were You Hurt in a California Car Accident?
After a serious car crash, it's vitally important that victims understand their legal rights and options. The knowledgeable attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can answer your questions, address your concerns, and offer advice on navigating the personal injury litigation process. Contact us today toll free at (888) 694-3529 or locally at (909) 481-0100 to request a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case with one of our experienced attorneys.
Is motorcycle lane splitting legal in California?
Lane splitting—defined by the California Department of Motor Vehicles as “passing other vehicles proceeding in the same direction within the same lane”—is a common practice among motorcyclists. In fact, one study found that 80 percent of California motorcyclists regularly lane split on the freeway.
Despite its popularity, there are questions surrounding both the safety and legality of lane splitting, also known as lane sharing or filtering. Contrary to popular belief, lane splitting is actually legal in California. State law never specifically forbade the practice and, in 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 51 into law, giving the California Highway Patrol (CHP) the ability to develop lane splitting guidelines.
The guidelines include tips to help motorcyclists who engage in lane splitting to do so more safely, as well as safety advice for motorists. CHP tips for lane-splitting motorcyclists include:
- Observe speed limits
- Assume that you're not visible to motorists and passenger vehicle occupants
- Stay out of other vehicles' blind spots
- Wear protective gear that's as visible as possible
- Split between the far left lanes, rather than between other lanes of traffic
- Avoid lane splitting next to big-rigs, semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, buses, and other large commercial trucks
The CHP also offered the following tips for motorists:
- Watch for motorcyclists and anticipate their possible movements
- Check mirrors and blind spots, especially prior to turning or changing lanes
- Signal before changing lanes or merging with traffic
- Never intentionally block or impede a motorcyclist in a way that could potentially cause harm to the rider
Consult an Experienced California Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Were you hurt in a California motorcycle accident that wasn't your fault? Whether you were the motorcyclist involved in a traffic collision, or a motorist who was struck by another vehicle, the knowledgeable attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can investigate your claims, help you understand your rights and potential options for compensation, and present a strong case. Do you have questions about a California lane-splitting motorcycle accident? Contact us today at (888) 694-3529 to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.
What type of monetary recovery is available to injured TBI victims?
Car accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which estimates that there are more than 5.3 million Americans—or roughly two percent of the population—living with disabilities caused by a TBI. These injuries can irreversibly change an accident victim's life, resulting in the need for ongoing medical treatment, assistive care, and other costly accommodations. In fact, one Northwestern University study found that living with a TBI can cost between $85,000 and $3 million over the course of a lifetime.
The Wide Range of Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Fortunately, victims who sustain TBIs in car accidents caused by another person or entity's negligence can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court and seek money for a wide range of economic and non-economic damages. A monetary recovery or judgment for economic damages is intended to compensate an accident victims for quantifiable financial losses arising from the accident and the accident related injuries. Examples of economic damages—also known as special damages—include:
- Medical bills
- Future accident-related medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Other past and future accident-related financial losses
The payment or award of money for non-economic damages, also known as general damages, have pay for items where there is no direct monetary value. Non-economic damages in car accident TBI case can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship and consortium
These damages are harder to calculate into dollars and cents, but they are real and an injured person can greatly benefit from the financial assistance for the losses suffered by the TBI victim.
Finally, there is a third type of damages known as punitive damages. Money may be awarded in cases where the defendant's behavior was particularly egregious or wanton. An attorney can help you determine if a request for punitive damages might apply in your case.
Consult a Knowledgeable California Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one sustained a TBI in a car accident caused by another person or company's negligence, the skilled attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can investigate your case, and help you understand your rights and legal options. The injury professionals at the Inland Empire Law Group can provide quality legal services, from pre-litigation settlement demands to taking a case to trial if necessary to secure the best result for your injury claim. Contact us today at (888) 694-3529 or (909) 481-0100 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.
When it comes to retained surgical objects, what is classified as a foreign object?
In a single medical procedure, a surgical team can use up to 250 different objects and tools. Anything that is inadvertently left inside a patient qualifies as a foreign object for the purpose of filing a malpractice claim.
Types of Retained Surgical Objects
Retained surgical objects can include:
- Guide wires
- Measuring devices
- Surgical masks
- Surgical gloves
Sponges make up about 70 percent of retained surgical object cases. Sponges are easily left inside a patient because they are very small and hard to spot with the naked eye once they have been used to soak up blood. Large surgical instruments such as forceps are the least likely type of foreign object to be left inside patients but in rare instances they have been left behind.
Foreign objects are most likely to be left behind when the patient is having emergency surgery or there are unexpected complications during an otherwise routine procedure. The majority of claims for malpractice involve objects left in the abdomen, vagina, or the chest cavity.
Complications from Retained Surgical Objects in California
Symptoms caused by foreign objects in the body include:
- Chronic pain
- Digestive problems
- Internal bleeding
- Damage to internal organs
Although large foreign objects in the body are often discovered fairly quickly, there have been cases of smaller retained surgical objects going undetected for years. Patients often mistake their initial discomfort as part of the recovery process or a common illness such as the flu.
Filing a Malpractice Claim in Rancho Cucamonga, California
Since foreign objects should never be left inside a patient, you have a solid malpractice claim if you have discovered a retained surgical object inside your body. You can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Inland Empire Law Group serves residents with medical malpractice claims throughout San Bernardino and Riverside County and in cities such as Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Victorville, Fontana, and the surrounding areas. Our Rancho Cucamonga medical malpractice attorney can assess the worth of your case, line up the evidence to support a malpractice claim, and negotiate with the insurer on your behalf for the highest possible settlement. Contact our California injury attorneys at (888) 694-3529 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
What is reckless driving?
Reckless driving is a common type of behind-the-wheel negligence that can lead to accidents, injuries, and deaths. This is no minor traffic infraction. In California, reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense that can result in up to three months in jail, between $145 and $1,000 in fines, and as many as two years probation.
Section 23103 of the California Vehicle Code defines reckless driving as “a person who drives a vehicle upon a highway (or in an off-street parking facility) in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. . . ." Though the term “reckless driving” can refer to a wide range of unsafe behaviors, common examples include:
- Excessive speeding
- Instigating conflicts with other drivers
- Purposefully running other vehicles off the road
- Weaving in and out of lanes in a way that endangers other motorists
- Engaging in illegal street racing
- Disregarding traffic signs and signals
California law considers two types of reckless driving: “wet” reckless driving, which indicates the involvement of drugs or alcohol, and “dry” reckless driving, which drugs and alcohol were not a factor.
Were You Injured by a Reckless Driver?
Reckless driving causes countless accidents, injuries, and fatalities each year—both in California and across the nation. If you were injured in an accident caused by a reckless driver, you may be entitled to compensation for damages such as medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Additionally, if the reckless driver's conduct was particularly egregious, you may be entitled to a rarely-awarded type of compensation known as punitive damages.
Do you have questions about an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit? The knowledgeable and experienced car accident attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can answer your questions, and help you better understand your legal rights and options. Contact us today at (888) 694-3529 or (909) 481-0100 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.
Is it always your fault if you hit another car from behind?
A rear-end accident occurs when one vehicle crashes into the back of another vehicle. These types of collisions are one of the most common types of car accidents in the United States. More than 6 million car crashes are reported to law enforcement each year and rear-end collisions account for more than one-third of those accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, more people are injured in rear-end accidents than any other type of crash; these collisions injure more than 500,000 and kill nearly 2,000 people annually.
After a rear-end accident, many people just assume that the driver who did the rear-ending is the one to blame. This is often correct since many of these collisions are caused by excessive speed, traveling too closely behind another vehicle or distracted driving. One NHTSA study found that distraction of the trailing driver was a factor in 87 percent of rear-end accidents. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. The first driver may potentially share in liability if they:
- Reverse suddenly
- Have non-functioning brake lights
- Stop to turn, but then change direction at the last moment
- Leave a disabled vehicle in the middle of the road without turning on hazard lights or setting up emergency triangles
- Stopping quickly for no reason
It's also important to note that being partially responsible for a rear-end accident doesn't necessarily preclude a driver from collecting compensation for damages. California is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that each party is liable for their percentage of fault and their financial award is reduced according to their respective liability.
Do You Have Questions About a California Rear-End Accident?
If you were injured in a rear-end accident that was not your fault, or even partially your fault, you may be concerned about whether you're eligible to collect compensation for medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, and other losses. The knowledgeable and experienced car accident attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can review the details of your case, and help you understand your legal rights and options. Contact us today at (888) 694-3529 to request an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
What factors are considered when deciding appropriate damages for a wrongful death suit?
A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury case designed to seek compensation for family members whose loved one is killed as the result of negligence or misconduct by another party. Wrongful death cases are initiated by the immediate family members, such as a spouse, domestic partner, children, or possibly parents. The purpose is to seek damages for the losses suffered related to the victim's death.
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Reimbursable expenses are those which are easily verified. In a wrongful death claim, these include medical expenses up to the time of death and associated funeral and burial costs. Losses can also include the loss of financial support the deceased person contributed to the family members left behind.
Damage amounts which may be recovered by the estate and/or family members as a result of the victim's death, include:
- Age. A person in the prime of their life with an established earnings record will result in a higher economic recovery then someone near the end of their average life expectancy, or someone young with no history of earnings.
- Physical health. If the victim had a medical condition that could reasonably have been expected to shorten his or her life expectancy, this may be taken into consideration.
- Occupation. The value of lost wages assigned to the estate is higher when a victim is employed in a higher earning occupation.
- Future earning capacity. Victims who were young, educated professionals in fields with a strong opportunity for professional advancement will have highest values assigned to their cases due to the likelihood that their earning capacity would have continued to increase each year. If the victim was a child, assumptions about education and future earning potential are made using statistical tables that take various demographic characteristics into account, but if there is no expectation of support by the child for the parents, then there is no loss of support suffered by the parents.
- Value of care provided to others. If the victim was a parent with young children or the caretaker for an elderly family member, the fair market value of this uncompensated labor is considered wages for the purpose of calculating a claim.
- Value of financial support provided to others. If the victim provided financial support to a spouse, parent, child, or other relative, the value of this support can be considered in calculating the claim.
Punitive damages are damages which are awarded solely to punish the defendant for serious misconduct that demonstrates a disregard for the wellbeing of others. Punitive damages are fairly rare in wrongful death cases, with the exception of claims involving nursing homes, elder abuse or product liability claims. The are some instances when a traffic collision can result in the recovery of punitive damages.
The Effect of Policy Limits for Wrongful Death
In personal injury cases involving a large multi-national corporation's liability for a defective product, collectability of a settlement is generally not an issue. Large corporations are extremely well insured so insurance coverage is not a serious consideration.
Unfortunately, when you are dealing with a small business or a private individual, policy limits will often play a key role in the settlement process. Even if you have a solid case to argue for substantial damages, you can only collect up to the policy's limits unless other assets from the defendant are available to fund a settlement.
Keep in mind that negligence awards can typically be discharged in a bankruptcy suit. This means that pushing for an award that is too excessive for the defender's resources may be a waste of time and energy.
Effect of Tax Liability for a Wrongful Death Settlement
Wrongful death settlements are generally non-taxable if the payments are intended to compensate for the pain and suffering experienced by the victim and his family members. If the damages are intended to be punitive, they are taxable. It is recommended that you consult with an experienced certified public accountant if you have questions about your tax liability and how this affects the fairness of a settlement offer.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation in California
The best way to protect your right to compensation in a wrongful death claim is to retain the services of an experienced attorney. Your attorney can line up evidence to support your case and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
The experienced legal team at Inland Empire Law Group is committed to helping California residents seek compensation following the death of a loved one due to another party's negligence. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at either our Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga location.
What are the motorcycle helmet laws in California?
California is one of 19 states with a universal helmet law that requires motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear a helmet while the vehicle is in operation, regardless of their age or ability. Some states exempt riders and passengers from wearing a helmet if they're over the age of 21 or have completed an approved safety course. However, in California, anyone driving or riding a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant motorcycle safety helmet—no exceptions. Additionally, the helmet must feature certification from the manufacturer stating that it complies with U.S. DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218.
Failing to wear a motorcycle helmet in California can have consequences that range from a verbal warning up to a $250 fine. Most importantly, not wearing a helmet can negatively impact any personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit a motorcycle driver or passenger might bring in the event of an accident. California is a comparative negligence state and if a motorcycle driver or passenger wasn't wearing a helmet, it leaves the door open for the opposing party's insurance company or defense attorney to claim that the victim was partially responsible for his own injuries.
Were You Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?
If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident caused by another person or entity's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damage. Even if you weren't wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, an experienced personal injury trial lawyer can assert arguments to overcome some of the comparative negligence claims raised by the defense.
The seasoned personal injury attorneys at the Inland Empire Law Group have extensive experience helping injured motorcyclists secure the compensation they need and deserve after an accident. If you have questions about your motorcycle accident case, contact us today at (909) 481-0100 or (888) 694-3529 to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. We're happy to help you better understand your legal rights, options and rights to compensation.
How can I spot a capper?
The use of cappers to solicit business is illegal under California law, but it is not always easy for someone who has been injured to identify a capper. If you are searching for a personal injury attorney, there are a few factors to remember to help you find ethical representation.
Signs of a Capper
A capper, also called a runner or ambulance chaser, is a person or organization who is acting for compensation on behalf of a lawyer or law firm to solicit business for the lawyer or law firm. You are being lured by a capper if you are approached shortly after your accident by a person who claims to be working for a law firm. Cappers approach potential clients at accident scenes, at a hospital, at funerals, or at their private residence. These individuals have not been contacted first by you or your family and are engaged solely to get your signature on a contract while your are desperate and have not had a chance to speak to a lawyer who abides by the law. There are risks associated with hiring an attorney that approaches you after an accident. This person will use aggressive sales tactics and will make unrealistic promises to attempt to convince you to become a client of the law firm, often appealing to your worry about your injuries and your financial needs for your family. They will provide vague and misleading information instead of being forthcoming with answers to any questions you have about your legal rights.
Unsolicited phone calls and letters that arrive after an accident are also a warning sign of a capper. When a letter contains personal information that should not be publicly available, this is a sign that an attorney is trying to solicit business improperly. When someone calls your home that you do not know, they researched your contact information or got your telephone number illegally from someone who is tasked with keeping your information confidential.
Cappers are paid a fee for each client they bring to an attorney's office, plus a part of the final settlement. Some cappers can receive tens of thousands of dollars to secure your signature on a retainer contract. A capper has no interest in protecting your legal rights only to secure a payday for them for violating the law. This scam is all about making an easy profit. It is likely that you will be pushed to settle quickly and may receive subpar representation from an attorney you may never even meet.
Finding Ethical Car Accident Representation in California
When it comes to finding ethical representation, the best approach is to do your own homework. Visit attorney websites in your community to learn about their qualifications and see what they can offer you. Then schedule an initial consultation to discuss your legal rights and options for making a personal injury claim against the person or entity that caused your injuries.
The legal team at Inland Empire Law Group never uses runners and cappers to secure clients for the firm. We would rather lose the opportunity to serve a client than to start a relationship based upon illegal activity. Our personal injury team serves residents of Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Ontario, Victorville, Fontana, and the surrounding areas of the Inland Empire. We will also represent clients in all of Southern California. Our attorneys are dedicated to advocating for the interests of California residents who suffer injuries due to the negligence of others. Call (888) 694-3529 or (909) 481-0100 today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
Prescription drug costs are rising all the time. How do I know my settlement will be enough to pay for the future costs of my medications?
Some medical malpractice victims may require ongoing prescription drug therapy as a result of their injuries. For victims without health insurance, or who have high deductibles or co-pays, and paltry prescription drug coverage, receiving the medication they need can be extremely expensive. In some cases, victims may simply be unable to afford the medications they need.
Should I Be Concerned About the Rising Costs of Prescription Medications?
While the cost of future prescription drugs is factored into medical malpractice settlements, the prices of these drugs regularly rise by significant margins. In fact, prescription drug costs increased by a shocking 9.8 percent between May 2015 and May 2016, according to The Wall Street Journal, and 2016 marked the third consecutive year that prescription drug prices in the United States rose by approximately 10 percent. With that in mind, it is easy to understand why a medical malpractice victim might be concerned that whatever settlement they are offered won't account for the rising cost of prescription drugs.
However, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who has experience handling medical malpractice cases can make sure that his client's future prescription drug needs, including potential cost increases, are accounted for in his settlement. The attorney can also help ensure that his client is appropriately compensated for other related medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Consult an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you were a victim of malpractice at the hands of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, you should not be forced to bear the costs of your injury on your own. The cost of medical visits, hospitalizations, and prescription drugs can add up quickly until they become insurmountable. The personal injury attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can help medical malpractice victims protect their right to collect a financial recovery. Contact the Inland Empire Law Group today at (888) 694-3529 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Can I sue for objects left behind after surgery?
Sponges, towels, clamps, tweezers, scalpels, and other surgical objects should never be left inside a patient. If you have been the victim of this type of medical error, you should seek the assistance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney to protect your right to compensation.
Never Events and Medical Malpractice
In the healthcare field, retained surgical instruments are considered never events. This means they are the type of mistake that is never supposed to happen. Other examples of never events include a patient developing bed sores, falling due to lack of supervision, or acquiring an infection due to poor sterilization of tools.
If you are the victim of a never event, your healthcare provider has not followed standard protocol for patient care. As a result, compensation is available for the damages you have suffered.
Filing a Claim for Medical Malpractice
The statute of limitations for malpractice in California is normally one year from the date of discovery or no more than three years after the date of the medical care that caused the injury. However, there is a special exemption for foreign objects improperly left in the body. The one year after discovery rule still stands, but there is no upper time limit. Even if it takes a decade to learn of the object that was left inside the body after a surgical procedure, you can still file for compensation as long as you initiate the case within one year of discovery.
- Medical care such as the surgery to remove the foreign object
- Any additional medical care you will require
- Lost wages from the additional time off work while you are recovering
- Applicable loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering, including the physical discomfort and emotional stress of being the victim of a never event
The Inland Empire Law Group handles medical malpractice claims related to treatment by doctors or at hospitals or surgical centers in the Inland Empire, including hospitals in Fontana, San Bernardino, Colton, Victorville, Riverside, Chino, Montclair, Upland and other local facilities. Contact us at (888) 694-3529 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
When are punitive damages appropriate in a car accident case?
Many different variables come into play in determining whether a car collision might give rise to an award of punitive damages. Simple negligence is not sufficient to create a factual scenario for awarding punitive damages. Even reckless conduct or driving drunk may not lead to an award of punitive damages. But if you add to the mix circumstances which show a willful disregard for the safety of others, or evidence which shows a pattern of serious misconduct, the case might warrant the possibility of punitive damages.
What Is the Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages?
Compensatory damages are those which are intended to reimburse the victim for specific losses he has suffered, such as lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering damages. Punitive damages are those which are intended as punishment for the defendant and his conduct. Punitive damages are also referred to as exemplary damages.
When Can Punitive Damages Be Awarded?
The circumstances for awarding punitive damages in a car crash claim has to arise above a mere accident. For punitive damages to be applicable, there must be severe forms of misconduct. For example:
- Two drivers are engaged in a game of chicken. The two drivers are competing to see who will swerve first, but the driver who swerves loses control and strikes a nearby motorist.
- A drunk driver on his second or third DUI blows more than double the legal limit. He is picked up after striking a pedestrian walking through a residential area.
- A driver who is accidentally cut off by another motorist experiences an episode of road rage. His speeding and carelessness results in multiple injuries, including victims left with lifelong disabilities—such a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or paralysis.
California Civil Code Section 3294 states: “In an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.” Key terms are defined as follows:
- Malice means conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard for the rights or safety of others.
- Oppression means despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.
How Are Punitive Damages Determined?
Some states place a cap on punitive damages in personal injury settlements, but California does not. The law only states punitive damages must be proportionate to your compensatory damages. This means that cases involving serious and permanently disabling injuries may be eligible for the highest punitive damages.
While not the deciding factor, state law also requires that the defendant's financial situation be taken into consideration when deciding the dollar amount of the damages to be awarded. Since the purpose of punitive damages is to deter future bad behavior, a wealthy defendant with ample resources can be expected to pay a higher punitive damage award than someone who is living paycheck to paycheck. A large punitive damage claim can provide the deterrent impact on a wealthy person or company while a smaller award might accomplish the same purpose on a person of lesser financial means.
It should be noted that insurance policies do not cover awards for punitive damages. This means if you have a punitive damage claim you are going to pursue you need to make sure the target of the claim has ample funds to pay an award of punitive damages.
How Can an Attorney Help Me Prepare My Case?
Since cases involving punitive damages involve complex factual and legal issues, it is vital that you have an experienced personal injury attorney available to advocate for your needs. Your attorney can help you line up evidence, document expenses, and negotiate with the insurance company or others on your behalf. This leaves you free to focus on recovering from your injuries to the fullest extent possible. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no upfront cost for your legal representation. The attorney accepts a percentage of your final settlement as the fee for his services. If the attorney is unsuccessful in a contingency claim, then he does not get paid for his work.
Inland Empire Law Group's legal team is committed to helping injured California residents receive the personal injury compensation deserve. Call (888) 694-3529 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
How will self-employment affect my personal injury case?
Recovery for lost wages can be a significant portion of any serious personal injury claim. However, receiving a fair settlement becomes more complicated when you are self-employed and your income fluctuates or is based on more than your own efforts.
Someone who is self-employed works for himself instead of being an employee of another business. The self-employed are typically either owners of unincorporated small businesses or work as independent contractors.
Self-employment encompasses a wide range of professions and industries. Salespeople, real estate agents, writers, artists, musicians, accountants, mechanics, doctors, and software developers are just a few of the many different types of self-employed people you will find working across the United States. People who are contractors in the gig economy working for services such as Uber or Fiverr are also considered self-employed, even if they only work through one service provider.
Types of Compensation
In a personal injury claim for injuries that are the result of another party's negligence, you are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. As a self-employed person, your lost wages include:
- Lost income
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Lost business opportunities
- Lost goodwill or damage to your professional reputation
- Lost profits that can no longer be invested back into your business
If you were forced to hire someone to provide essential business services while you were recovering from your injuries, this person's wages could be included in your request for compensation. If applicable, overtime pay for existing employees who were required to take on additional duties in your absence can also be included.
Documentation is absolutely vital to proving how much income your business generates. Supporting documents your attorney might ask for include:
- Income tax returns
- Bank statements
- Work orders
- Profit and loss statements
- Forms 1099-MISC
- Deposit information for cash and credit sales
- Payroll records
If you have been self-employed for several years, these documents will probably be fairly easy to provide. However, if you are newly self-employed or your income has recently changed dramatically, you may need to think outside the box to provide the appropriate proof. For example, attorneys sometimes recommend submitting letters from clients you have been working with or those who have agreed to have you perform work in the future. This avenue may be necessary if you have no other way to prove what your normal income.
Having an economic loss expert testify on your behalf is another way to support your claim for damages. An economic loss expert can assess your earning potential given your education, past experience, and the local market for your services. He can also help to provide insight into how your injuries will affect your ability to support yourself in the future.
How an Attorney Can Help
Due to the challenges associated with accurately estimating self-employment income, having an attorney to advocate for your needs throughout the settlement process is in your best interests. Your attorney will be able to assess the value of your case, help you properly document your income, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
It is a common misconception that legal representation is unaffordable when you do not have a steady income, but personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you owe no money upfront and will pay a percentage of your settlement to your attorney as the fee for representation. With this arrangement, you can rest easy knowing that your attorney is committed to helping you protect your right to compensation.
The attorneys at Inland Empire Law Group are dedicated to helping California residents receive the personal injury compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.
What is a release of claims?
A release of claims is the document the insurance company or a defendant requires to be signed in order for payment to be made to settle the accident-related injuries. The release of claims details the compensation you will receive for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in exchange for a release from any further claims.
Should You Sign?
If you are offered a release of claims a few weeks after your car accident, do not sign the document without careful consideration. Insurance companies are typically eager to settle claims early before you realize the extent of your injuries, so signing too soon may be a big mistake.
If you sign a release of claim, then seek the advice of counsel because you continue to hurt, the lawyer cannot reverse the effect of the release. Even if you do not intend to pursue a claim, you should consider consulting with an attorney to determine if signing a release is in your best interest.
The primary reason that attorneys caution against signing a release of claims too early in the process is that the severity of car accident injuries can be hard to predict. An injury that first seems to be a minor inconvenience may turn out to be much more serious. For example:
- Whiplash. Although most people with whiplash do make a full recovery, others are left with chronic pain that requires therapy, medication, and time off work well into the future.
- Concussion. A mild traumatic brain injury that happens after a blow to the head, a concussion can sometimes lead to a complex disorder called post-concussion syndrome. This condition causes symptoms such as chronic headaches, dizziness, and cognitive difficulties.
- Back pain. Don't assume that a backache will get better over time. Back pain after a car accident may be caused by damage to muscles and ligaments or a herniated disc. This can lead to chronic pain.
- Injuries to children. Since young children lack the communication skills necessary to fully articulate their symptoms, it is easy to underestimate a child's needs. Children may require treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a car accident which shows up later.
Another factor to consider when deciding if a settlement is appropriate is that pain and suffering compensation is often undervalued in the early stages of a claim. Pain and suffering damages are intended to reimburse you for the physical pain as well as the emotional trauma of the accident. Pain and suffering damages develop over time so and early settlement may not properly capture all these damages.
Maximum Medical Improvement and Your Settlement Offer
Regardless of the extent of your injuries, it is recommended that you refrain from settling your case until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is a term that indicates you have either fully recovered from your injuries or have stabilized your condition to the extent that it is possible for experts to accurately estimate what your future medical needs and future pain will be. Your doctor can explain when MMI is likely to occur for your injuries.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
A personal injury attorney offers several valuable services to resolve your car accident claim. For example:
- Assess the value of your case. While it is impossible to guarantee a specific outcome, a skilled personal injury attorney can assess the value of your case based on past experience with similar types of injuries.
- Document your expenses. To receive reimbursement for your damages, you need to have all of the proper documentation. It is easy to overlook required documents when you are distracted by your recovery, but an attorney will know exactly what's needed.
- Line up relevant expert testimony. If your case involves anticipated future medical expenses or loss of future earning potential, expert testimony will be crucial in establishing damages. Your attorney can locate the most qualified experts to testify on your behalf.
- Negotiate with the insurance company. The insurance company's goal is to make a profit, not to fairly compensate you for your injuries. Having someone advocate for your needs is critical.
Inland Empire Law Group's legal team is committed to help compensate California residents who have been injured due to the negligence of others. Our legal team wants to help you move forward with your lives. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville office. Call now at (909) 481-0100 and see the difference between our office and other lawyers in Southern California.
Can I still sue for damages if I cannot remember the accident?
It is common for people who are injured in serious car accidents not to remember the incident clearly. However, not remembering the accident does not necessarily mean that you are not entitled to seek compensation for your accident-related expenses.
Reasons for Memory Lapses
Common reasons for memory loss related to a car accident include:
- Traumatic brain injury. A severe brain injury can leave the victim unable to function independently, but even a concussion can create gaps in memory.
- Emotional trauma. In an accident where someone was severely hurt or died, the mind can shut down to avoid dealing with the emotional trauma. Memories may return at a later date, but may only be in brief flashbacks.
- Substance abuse. Someone who was impaired by drugs or alcohol may not remember the accident due to their substance abuse.
- Previous cognitive impairment. In cases involving accidents caused by older drivers with signs of Alzheimer's or dementia, a pre-existing condition may be the reason they cannot recall the details of the crash.
Types of Evidence Used in a Car Accident Claim
If you cannot remember the details of the accident that caused your injuries, you will want to consider using the following evidence to help establish fault:
- Police reports. The police report is not normally admissible in court, but can play a significant role in settlement negotiations if it shows that the other driver is clearly at fault. Reports can also provide contact information for witnesses and details that may help to fill in some of the gaps in your memory.
- Eyewitness testimony. Witnesses may include other vehicle occupants, nearby drivers, or pedestrians who happened to be in the area when the event occurred.
- Black box data. A vehicle's black box can contain data on variables such as speed, acceleration, steering, braking, airbag deployment, and seat belt use.
- Surveillance video. Live traffic cameras or security systems from a nearby business may have caught the accident on tape.
- Photos. Witnesses, law enforcement, or members of the media may have taken photos of the accident scene.
- Vehicle damage reports. Certain types of car accidents leave well-defined patterns of vehicle damage, which means damage can be used to indicate fault. For example, in a rear-end collision, the driver who hits another car from behind is almost always at fault. If the back of one car and the front of the other car are the only damaged areas, this provides a strong indication of what happened.
- Accident reconstruction experts. These professionals use their background in physics and vehicle dynamics to interpret available data, including photos, event timelines, vehicle damage, and testimony.
How Comparative Negligence Laws Affect Your Claim
If the evidence suggests you were partially at fault for the accident, you can still collect compensation. However, California's pure comparative negligence laws requires that your settlement be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. This means that if you were 30 percent responsible for the accident, you'd only receive 70 percent of the settlement you would otherwise be entitled to. A good personal injury attorney can help minimize the amount of fault attributed to your negligence. If the parties cannot agree on the percentage of fault, a judge or jury who tries the case will be required to assign percentages of fault.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation by Hiring an Attorney
A personal injury claim can seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses such as emergency care, diagnostic tests, surgery, hospital stays, and medication
- Anticipated future medical costs for an accident-related disability
- Lost wages during the recovery period
- Applicable loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
If you have recently been injured in an accident that you cannot accurately remember, retaining the services of an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to protect your right to compensation. Your attorney can help you line up evidence to assess fault, document expenses, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency basis, which means the attorney will ask for a percentage of the settlement in exchange for representation. This means you do not need to pay any money upfront for a retainer or come up with out-of-pocket funds while you are still dealing with the effects of your injuries.
Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Inland Empire Law Group's legal team at 888.694.3529. Appointments are available in our Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville offices.
How will unemployment affect my personal injury case?
Wage loss can make up a substantial portion of a personal injury claim if the injuries are so severe that they would limit a person’s ability to work. So unemployment can have a significant effect on your case. However, being unemployed does not necessarily mean that you are not entitled to compensation for the wages which could have been earned, but for the injuries suffered.
How Receiving Unemployment Benefits Affects a Personal Injury Claim
If you are currently receiving unemployment benefits, this will likely reduce the value of your personal injury claim. You cannot argue that your injuries have caused immediate wage loss if you were not working at the time of the injury causing accident. However, if your injuries have affected your future earning potential, this can and should be taken into consideration when negotiating a settlement.
Examples of possible car accident injuries that might affect your ability to find future employment include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Back injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Nerve damage
- Visual impairment
- Hearing loss
- Internal organ damage
In the situation where you were not employed at the time of the collision, but you were looking to return to the workforce, your attorney will use expert testimony to establish how your injuries have limited your ability to find suitable work. Testimony will focus on the nature of your injuries as well as your past work history, education, experience, and the conditions of the local labor market.
In any personal injury claim involving unemployment, the length of time in which you have been out of work will play an important role. If you have only been unemployed for a short time, and that unemployment event was not of your choosing, such as a layoff, it will be easier to make the link your injuries to how they have negatively affected your future job prospects. However, if you have been unemployed for six months or longer, the defense may argue that other factors are playing a more important role in your inability to find suitable work. These challenges are to be evaluated in assessing the value of any personal injury claim.
Individuals Who Are Not in the Labor Force
If you were unemployed, but not receiving unemployment benefits or actively looking for work, you may be classified as being out of the labor force. In this case, you are not entitled to lost wages or compensation for lost earning potential because your injuries are not the reason for your lack of employment. For example, someone who has been retired and drawing a pension for the past decade would not have lost wages or lost future earning potential due to injuries. The settlement value would be based solely on medical expenses, pain and suffering and possibly other damages.
Special Concerns for Stay at Home Parents or Caregivers
If you are currently at a stay at home parent, your lost wages can be calculated based on the economic value of the household services you provide. This includes:
- Caring for young children
- Transporting children to and from school or other extracurricular activities
- Cooking meals
- Grocery shopping
- Cleaning and performing general household maintenance
- Paying bills and managing the family finances
If you have had to hire a housekeeper or nanny due to your injuries, this cost can be included in your damages. If your spouse has been forced to cut back on his work hours due to increased responsibilities at home, this can also be taken into account.
Similar considerations would apply if you are the full-time caretaker for an elderly parent or a disabled spouse.
Special Concerns for Self-Employed Individuals
If you were working as a freelancer, independent contractor, or sole proprietor at the time of your accident, your claim for lost wages is typically based on your previous earnings. However, if your business venture is relatively new, you will need to provide an alternative way to document lost earnings or loss of future earnings. This might include copies of invoices, contracts, correspondence, and bank statements. Expert testimony can also be used to assess the value of your business and lost future opportunities that have occurred due to your injuries.
How Inland Empire Law Group Can Help
Car accident injuries can result in a significant financial burden. When your injuries are caused by another party's negligence, you need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner to advocate for your right to compensation. Calculating loss of earnings and its correlation to the injuries caused by the negligence of another, requires the skill of competent legal counsel.
The legal team at Inland Empire Law Group is dedicated to helping Southern California residents who have been injured due to the negligence of others receive the personal injury compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.
What are medical liens?
Some doctors and hospitals will provide medical services on a lien basis. This means that they provide the medical services for an injured patient, yet they wait for payment until after a personal injury suit is settled. The debt remains an obligation of the patient, however, the medical providers asserts a lien against any financial recovery by the injured patient. Knowing the amount of the medical lien will be important to determine whether a settlement offer is adequate for your needs, including the payment of any medical liens.
About Medical Liens
Medical lien are contractual agreements between the doctor, the patient and the attorney, to have the medical provider provide medical service in advance of payment. The doctor, patient and lawyer all agree to provide the doctor payment from any settlement or judgment prior to the patient receiving any funds from a settlement. This allows the patient to get the necessary medical care without having to worry about paying for the services during the recovery process. Ultimately, if there is no recovery, the patient remains responsible for the payment of the charges. Other types of medical liens involve a health insurance provider seeking reimbursement for previously paid medical bills. The health insurer often has contractual language which requires the insured person to repay any financial advances made by the health insurance company. Finally, there are some liens imposed by law for emergency medical services rendered to an injury victim or liens to protect government healthcare payments.
Generally, there are two categories of liens, statutory liens and contractual liens. Statutory liens are imposed by law, while contractual liens are agreements between patients and doctors. Statutory liens are imposed to government and hospital interests.
Contractual liens are those which exist due to the terms of a specific contract between two parties. Most medical liens fall into this category based on one of the following:
- Health insurance: The majority of health insurance providers have clauses in their agreements that require you to repay any health insurance benefits later recovered from a third party in a personal injury settlement.
- Medical payments from your own auto insurance carrier: If your car insurance covers medical expenses related to your accident and another driver is later found to be at fault, you may have to repay some or all of the benefits after receiving a settlement.
- Agreements to treat: When someone is injured in a car accident and does not have medical insurance, providers will sometimes agree to treat on a lien basis. In this case, the doctor or care provider is agreeing to provide immediate treatment with no pay until a settlement is received.
Negotiating a Medical Lien
Although it may seem like a lien would require you to pay back every dollar of medical care you received, this is not necessarily the case. Lien amounts can often be negotiated, depending upon the terms of the contract. In many cases, an experienced personal injury attorney can convince a lienholder to accept less than the full amount for repayment.
Negotiating a lien is often effective because the lienholder's financial interests are in line with the injured patient. If you go to trial and lose, the lienholder receives nothing. Therefore, they are often likely to accept less than what is fully owed as an incentive to resolve your personal injury claim out of court.
When your attorney negotiates a lien on your behalf, it is common to consider how the cost of attorney's fees factor into the settlement. Since personal injury cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis, your attorney receives no payment for his services until a settlement is received. Then, a percentage of the award is provided as reimbursement for representation. As such, lienholders are often willing to accept responsibility for a prorated share of the legal costs associated with your case.
Penalties for Ignoring the Law on Personal Injury Claims
You are legally required to report any personal injury claims that are pending to Medicare, Medi-Cal, or the health insurance which is paying for your medical treatment. Additionally, sophisticated computer software is used to flag records of injuries that could indicate an accident where someone else may be liable for payment—such as whiplash or broken bones. When this happens, you will receive a form asking for more information about who may be responsible for your injuries.
If you do not report your pending personal injury claim to the appropriate party, you risk jeopardizing your eligibility for future benefits. You could also be sued to recover the amount of the lien plus additional penalties.
How Inland Empire Law Group Can Help
In any personal injury case, the best way to protect your right to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering is to obtain experienced legal representation. Your attorney can assess the value of your case, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and help to resolve any outstanding liens to ensure that the final settlement you receive is adequate for your needs.
To learn more, call to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with the dedicated attorneys at Inland Empire Law Group. Appointments are available at our Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville offices.