Under California law any business who has an opening in the floor (like a whole) must cover it or provide a guardrail on all open sides. Toeboards shall be installed around the edges at openings where persons may pass below the opening. While the cover is not in place, the openings shall be constantly attended by someone or shall be protected by guardrails. Title 8, Code of California Regulations section 3212(a)(1).
The above law was successfully applied in one recent case in San Joaquin County, where the Plaintiff was awarded $867,000 for injuries and damages as a result of falling into a hole in the floor. (Payton v Installation Services Technologies, Inc.) In that case, the victim was a bread delivery vendor of a restaurant who came for regular delivery and fell into a hole in the floor, created by an wiring installer previously. The hole was unmarked and unguarded in violation of the above law.
The power of the above section is the fact that violating it makes the Defendant automatically at fault and liable. This makes proving this type of slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall case easier than a typical slip and fall case, where the Plaintiff faces the common challenge of proving notice of the condition (i.e. that the condition that caused the fall was created by the Defendant or that they were aware of it long enough and failed to take reasonable steps to remedy it). A typical example of this more difficult slip and fall case would be falling on a wet floor or a banana peel at a grocery store.
For more useful information on this please visit our page on how to prove a slip-and-fall injury case.
Bicycle accidents are some of the more common injury accidents in San Francisco. This is despite all the work that has been done by the city and the bike coalition to create designated bike lanes in many parts of the city and take other steps to make the roads safer for bicyclists.
A very typical bicycle accident scenario is where a bicyclist runs into the open door of a parked car, when the driver doesn't look or doesn't notice the upcoming bicyclist. Under these circumstances, the driver of the car who opened the door is almost always found to be negligent and liable for the bicyclist's injuries. This is the case even if the bicyclist didn't have the lights on, didn't have a helmet on, or was going much faster than he/she should have been going under the circumstances. Such bicycle accidents often result in serious injuries, including disk bulges and fractures to both legs and arms.
The insurance companies usually do not dispute their insured driver's liability under the circumstances, realizing that out of the two parties involved the driver of the car should be the one making sure that when he opens his car door, that side of the road is free and clear of upcoming traffic, including bicyclist.
If you are a driver, you should train yourself to always look back when you open your car door, no matter how unlikely you think the bicycles is to come down near you. If you are a bicyclist riding down the long street of parallel parked cars pay, take a glance inside the cars that are parked in front of you. Often, you will be able to tell that someone has just parked or is about to open the door of their vehicle. This will save you from suffering serious and often permanent injuries.
If you have recently been involved in an accident where you were hit by a car while riding a motorcycle, and the driver's insurance company is trying to deny liability, you are welcome to contact us to discuss your situation.
Many people in California do not realize that if they are hit by an uninsured vehicle while riding a bicycle, their claim may be covered by the victim's own uninsured motorist coverage or the coverage of the member of his or her household. For instance, a claim of a teenage hit by an uninsured driver will usually be covered by the uninsured motorist coverage of his parents' vehicle, if in fact they purchased the UM coverage, and it's part of their policy at the time of the accident. The same coverage would apply of the driver at fault has fled the scene of the accident after hitting the bicyclist.
The law says that the occupant of insured vehicle "or otherwise" is covered by the uninsured motorist policy. The phrase "or otherwise" provides broad coverage to this class of insured. They need not be occupants of a car involved in a collision. They only need to demonstrate that they were injured as a result of the uninsured motorist's neglect. (E.g., a relative in the named insured's household is covered if struck by an uninsured motor vehicle while a pedestrian.) See Lopez v. State Farm & Cas. Co. (1967).
California Vehicle Code Section 11580(b)(2) mandates coverage for the named insured, spouse or relative residing in the same household "regardless of whether the individual is in a motor vehicle or on a horse, motorcycle, bicycle or stilts, when injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, so long as one of the statutory exclusions does not apply." Daun v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co. And it doesn't matter that insured was not in the insured motor vehicle, but was riding a non-owned motorcycle at time of accident.
We are happy to report that on Friday, July 22, 2016, an Alameda jury returned a $280k verdict to our client in a challenging slip and fall case against against the landlord / owner of the apartment building. In that case, a plaintiff was visiting his cousin, who lived on the second floor of the defendants' 36-unit building in East Oakland. As plaintiff was leaving, he slipped and fell on the water that was apparently coming from the adjacent laundry room. Plaintiff fell down the flight of stairs, suffering an ankle fracture. He was taking by ambulance to the Highland Hospital emergency room and later had a surgery. Plaintiff's post-surgery treatment was quite conservative and it was limited to 1.5 months of physical therapy.
The Defendants argued the main reason or the only reason that Plaintiff fell was the fact that he was intoxicated, due to admittedly drinking between six to eight beers while hanging out with his cousin. They further argued that no water could have possibly come out from the laundry room in question, because it was not operational. Finally, through their expert - biomechanical engineer - the defendants claimed that the fall couldn't have happened the way that plaintiff described it.
The trial lasted for five days. The juror's total deliberation time was about 6 hours. The jurors mentioned after trial that the most important evidence in the case from their perspective was the fact that the landlord had no documentation whatsoever of any cleaning or maintenance of the premises during the 9 years of owning the property. They also appreciated the fact that the plaintiff was somewhat stoic on the stand and also upfront and honest about drinking and about smoking marijuana illegally.
I believe this case is a lesson to both plaintiffs and landlords / owners of premises about how important the documentation regarding maintenance of the property, and especially sweeping logs, is in slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall cases. Here is a copy of this verdict for your reference.
Statistics clearly suggest that accidents involving pedestrians being hit by cars are almost twice as likely to happen in San Francisco as they would in New York City, even though NYC is obviously a much bigger and more densely populated city. The pedestrians in San Francisco cannot be blamed for being hit by cars so often, except for those instances when they completely disregard traffic laws and cross the street at wrong time and the wrong place.
However, there is one thing that pedestrians can do in SF to minimize the risk of being hit by a car when crossing the street lawfully - they should not be so confident that the cars that are approaching the intersection they are crossing will necessarily stop for the upcoming traffic stop or traffic light. As a pedestrian, you should still look at the car, try to make some kind of eye contact with the driver and make sure that it appears that the car is about to stop before you proceed to cross the street. More and more drivers drive tired and distracted by texting and listening to music or books on their headphones. You simply cannot blindly trust that any driver will stop when they should.
Pedestrian accident injuries results in some of the most serious and debilitating head injuries in San Francisco. Do your part to minimize the risk of being hit by a car when you cross the street, especially at night, or when it's foggy or raining on on weekend evenings, and quite a few people drive while intoxicated.
Fractures of the clavicle, humeral head and the first and second ribs are not difficult to diagnose. There is usually a mechanism of injury, such as abrupt forward movement into the steering wheel and/or dash or side movements into the driver door or passenger door during a car accident. Obviously, if an individual is not wearing a seat belt and is ejected, it is not being catapulted through the air that is dangerous; it is always the sudden stop. It is important to remember that with any of these injuries, there can be an associated injury to the rotator cuff that is not always diagnosed shortly after the accident.
The rotator cuff is subject to stretch injuries, torsional injuries and impact injuries. The majority of rotator cuff tears are due to long-term wear-and-tear and frequently the abnormalities noted on MRI's of the shoulder are pre-existing problems. Acute tears of the rotator cuff are always associated with a history of immediate onset of pain, decreased range of motion and severe sleep dysfunction. These symptoms occur within the first 24-48 hours of an injury, if there is an acute rotator cuff tear as a result of the accident.
The driver of a vehicle who is rear-ended and who is grabbing the steering wheel at the 10:00 and 2:00 positions and placing the elbows in full extension, is subject to rotator cuff trauma. The more difficult cases are those where the vehicle is rear-ended and pushed forward into the vehicle in front, or is pushed off in a direction to the right or left and the driver attempts to regain control. This produces torsional events on the rotator cuff, which can also cause tears. In some cases, the driver is pushed forward and strikes the steering wheel with the anterior part of the shoulder. This can also produce injuries to the bicipital tendon and the anterior aspect of the rotator cuff.
Automobile accident where there is a side impact and the vehicle spins in the opposite direction, when at the same time the driver is attempting to regain control of this changing direction, also puts the rotator cuff at risk because of the rapidly changing direction of the steering wheel.
It is important to notice and memorialize the bruise patterns. Photos of the bruising help identify whether the primary impact collision was from the front, the back, or the side. All persons who are injured in an accident and who complain of shoulder pain with decreased range of motion during the first 24 hours should undergo diagnostic studies. Initially, x-rays should be obtained and based on the x-rays and physical examination, on many occasions an MRI of the shoulder is indicated if the doctor suspects rotator cuff tear. An orthopedic surgeon performing the examination is in a better position because he or she has determined the points of tenderness as well as presence of any impingement abnormalities.
Non-displaced or minimally displaced fractures are treated in a comfort sling and usually do not warrant a surgery. Severe fractures of the clavicle occasionally warrant open reduction internal fixation. The diagnosis of rotator cuff injury can be deceiving within the first 30-45 days, especially in individuals who develop a partially frozen shoulder. The usual treatment focuses on regaining range of motion with physical therapy and a home exercise program.
One critical element in proving a slip-and-fall injury case in California is demonstrating that the owner or other entity responsible for maintaining the property where you slipped and fell was negligent in maintaining that property in a reasonably safe manner. Generally, if, for instance, you are a paying customer at a grocery store, the owner of that business has a higher duty to protect you not only from the conditions that the owner knew of but also the ones that he had a reason to know of or should have known of, that could create danger of slipping or tripping and falling. In other words, if a reasonable business owner would have known of a certain dangerous condition and would have taken steps to prevent it or fix it, but the property owner in your incident failed to do so, you are likely to be entitled to a recovery.
Let's compare and contrast two different slip-and-fall scenarios, one of which is likely to give rise to the property owner's liability for an injury and a valid slip-and-fall case worth pursuing, while in the other case the injured person is unlikely to prevail in his/her case against the property owner:
1. John goes into a pharmacy store and while trying to pick out a shampoo in the hair-products isle, he slips and falls on a spilled hair lotion. The investigation shows that the lotion was spilled when the store's employee was unpacking and placing the hair product on the shelf. The evidence also show that the employee didn't thoroughly clean the area before leaving and didn't put a warning sign in that area as often required or didn't bother to clean the area or ask someone to clean it at all. Under these circumstances, John has a good chance to win his slip-and-fall case against the store, because it was ultimately the store's responsibility to maintain the shopping area in a safe manner and the store's employee was negligent by failing to maintain the safe conditions in the store or warn customers against a dangerous condition.
2. Brad goes into a grocery store and while walking through the magazines isle, slips and falls on blueberry jam that was spilled by a customer 5 minutes before the incident. The investigation reveals that the store has a strict policy of having its employee walk through the store and inspect the floor and the shelves every hour. Under this circumstances, Brad will have a hard time to recover for his slip-and-fall injuries. First, the store owner didn't create the dangerous condition; one of the customers did. Secondly and even more importantly, the store was probably not negligent because it did what a reasonable person would have done to maintain its property by requiring frequent and periodic inspections throughout the store.
For more useful tips, please visit our slip-and-fall injuries information page.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event, such as a serious auto accident, especially an accident in which the victim believe that he/she was about to die. In some individuals, PTSD may result in a type of brain damage. Such damage may be associated with the effects of constant chemical processes associated with increased fear and anxiety. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder IV, PTSD may be summarized as exposure to traumatic event, associated with persistent re-experience of events, lasting more than one month, and which significantly impairs social, occupational, or other important areas of the person's life and functioning.
It is not uncommon for a person who has been involved in a serious accident to suffer from PTSD, experiencing constant fear of driving in general and feeling that they are just about to find themselves in a similar accident again, and that there is not much they can do to prevent it. This fear can be debilitating, and interfere not only with a person's ability to drive, but also focus and sleep.
Typically, successful treatment of PTSD will include both, medication to alleviate the anxiety symptoms as well as psychological counseling to rebuild the person's confidence and rational outlook on the surrounding environment.
One of the most critical elements in any legal claim, whether civil or criminal, is the credibility of the testifying witness or claimant. Injury claims are not an exception to this rule. Any good personal injury lawyer should urge his or her client to not get more treatment than they need, or not to continue getting the treatment which is clearly ineffective and does not help their pain.
An honest, reasonable victim will likely recover more and sooner for his injuries than someone who appears to be exaggerating and making more out of his injury than they really are. This is exactly why it is so important to make sure that you do not receive more treatment than you should. Some doctors and especially the chiropractors are tempted to provide more treatment than necessary to the injured patients, especially if these doctors work on a lien basis, so that they can receive a larger portion of the settlement at the end. The problem is that once the claims adjuster or the insurance company's lawyer receives an unreasonably high bill from a doctor or a chiropractor, he will necessarily suspect some kind of exaggeration on the part of the injured. This will likely result in delay of the settlement process, casting doubt on your entire claim - something that an injured person should avoid when dealing with insurance companies.
Being reasonable and honest about your injuries and your pain, without exaggerating your symptoms is the best strategy to recover a fair compensation for the injury accident that you were involved in, whether you settle your case early on, or at mediation, or right before trial, or whether you have to testify at trial in front of the jury. No one is more generous to someone who appears to depict their situation as worse than it really is, and a typical jury responds very negatively when they have any suspicion that the plaintiff in an injury case exaggerates his or her injuries.
Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your injury claim at (415) 295-4730