The Velie Law Group, PC is dedicated to providing optimal legal services for its Southern California clients in any personal injury matter. Below are a few of the areas we focus on.
If a physician performs a substantially different treatment than what a patient consented to, it is considered a battery under state law. (Cobbs v. Grant, 8 Cal.3d 229, 239 (Cal. 1972).) Thus, physicians who perform unconsented amputations may be held liable for punitive and compensatory damages and perhaps even criminal charges. Even amputations that occur as a result of accident under care of a physician may make that physician liable for money damages. (see generally Dodds v. Stellar, 175 P.2d 607, 616 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1946).) An injured patient must file a claim within a year of discovering the injury, however, so it is important to seek counsel immediately to avoid being barred from collecting. (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 340.5 (West 1992).) If you think you may have a claim as a result of an unconsented amputation, please contact the Velie Law Group, PC for a free consultation.
Bicycle / Bike Accidents
If a biker is hit by another vehicle and injury is sustained to the biker and/or the bike, the biker may be able to collect damages for negligence of the driver. If the accident was caused by some sort of problem with the bike itself, the biker may be able to collect damages for the accident from the person who sold the bike and the bike manufacturer. If the accident was caused by a hazardous condition caused by government construction or lack of maintenance, the biker may be able to collect damages from the government.
In cases where the biker is at fault, bicycles and motorcycles are treated as motor vehicles by courts, and thus the biker must follow the same laws as other motor vehicles. (Cal.Vehicle Code 21200 to 21212.) Bikers can also be found comparatively negligent when involved in vehicle accidents, which may reduce the amount of damages that can be collected by biker. If you think you may have a claim against a third party as a result of a bicyle/bike accident, please contact the Velie Law Group, PC for a free consultation.
What is a brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability. (U.S. Dept. of Education, 300.8(c) (12).) Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech.
How common is brain injury?
In the U.S. over 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries each year resulting in medical and related costs of over $76.5 billion. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention Statistics, 2012) - Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury with the second highest cause being vehicle accidents. (CDC 2010).) Often impact from a collision to the interior of the car such as the seat or wheel can lead to brain injury, but even impact from an airbag or whiplash can cause traumatic brain injury.
Finding Remedy for a brain injury
Although it takes time, traumatic brain injuries can be treated, and people who have suffered from brain injury can often regain most or abilities lost to injury. People who have received such injury due either from a vehicle accident or manufactured product should seek recovery immediately to help mitigate costs associated with treatment and loss of money from being able to work fully.
Burn, Fire and Explosion Injury
How common are burn accidents?
An average of 450,000 Americans receive medical treatment for burn injuries per year with 45,000 requiring immediate hospitalization. (National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey 2011 (NHAMCS), National Hospital Discharge Survey 2011 (NHDS).) There are three types of burns: First-degree burns which damage only the outer layer of skin, second-degree burns damage the outer layer and the layer underneath, and third-degree burns which damage or destroy the deepest layer of skin and tissues underneath. (National Institute of Health, 2012.)
What can attorney do to help?
The most common reason as to why burns occur is because of negligence which is why a very knowledgeable attorney is required in settling the case. An attorney trained in handling burn injuries suits is also aware of what types of damages (personal, property, psychological) that are associated with burn injuries. Furthermore, personal injury attorneys are familiar with different doctors and specialists that can help assess injury related to your accident, and help you decide how to pursue the necessary damages from the entity responsible.
Under California law, common carriers (such as busses, airplanes, or trains) are held to a higher standard of care than other transportation services or even other drivers. (Cal. Civil Code §2100.) In fact, the more risk-prone the method of a common carrier, the higher the standard for liability. Gomez v. Superior Court, 113 P.3d 41, 44 (Cal. 2005).) This heightened standard for common carriers insures passenger’s safety against all injury short of an act of God, terrorism, or wild animals. Agnew v. Steamer Contra Costa, (1865) 27 Cal. 425, 429).) These heightened standards include but are not limited to:
- The duty to take reasonable steps to protect passengers from harm, including harm by other passengers.
- The duty to provide safe vehicles and maintain the safety of those vehicles; and
- The duty to hire qualified employees and properly train those employees. (Cal. Civil Code §2100.)
Despite these heightened duties, buses get involved in thousands accidents involving carelessness on the part of drivers happen every year. For this reason, it is important to assert your rights, as bus systems will not very likely to that job for you. An attorney can help you determine which laws protect you in case of injury, helping you collect from driver misconduct as well preserving the heightened standard of car bus drivers must maintain.
How do laws protect me in an accident?
All drivers are responsible for not only willful, but negligent acts not exercising reasonable care which damage another person or property. (Cal. Civ. Code §1714.) Drivers are responsible for accidents that caused by them that injure another party indirectly. (Am. Motorcycle Assn. v. Super. Ct., 578 P.2d 899, 903 (Cal. 1978).) For example, if driver A rear ends driver B and the resulting impact pushes driver B’s car into driver C’s car causing injury, driver A is liable for damage to both driver B and C.
What happens if both drivers are at fault?
California, like many states, follows a “comparative negligence” system for determining awards for damages. If one party is found to be 80% at fault for an accident, the opposing party will collect from that person. However, since the opposing party is still 20% at fault, the total assessment for damages will be reduced by 20%. (Li v. Yellow Cab Co., 532 P.2d 1226, 1243 (Cal. 1975).) If you believe you were injured during a car accident as a result of the negligence of a third party and would like to protect your rights, please contact Velie Law Group, PC for a free consultation.
Claims Against Government / Public Entities
States, like people or businesses are susceptible to personal injury laws for intentional or negligent conduct. In California, you must first file with the agency for which you have a claim against before filing in court. In California, generally the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years, except for certain public transit systems such as CALTRANS or BART where the statute of limitations is 6 months. (Cal. Gov. Code §910-913.2.) Given the number of claims against the government each year, it is most likely that a claim will be denied by the government, in which case a claimant will have 6 months to file a claim in court. It is important to contact an attorney because denied claims are often the result insufficient claims by a party. Most importantly, if you do not properly file a claim within 6 months of denial, your claim against the government will be forever barred from recovery.
The federal government, similar to state governments, is susceptible to personal injury laws for misconduct. The federal government has its own system for claims, which are generally litigated under federal law. The timeframe for the statute of limitations is same as for California state (2 years for initial claim, in court within 6 months of denial), so it is equally important to properly file a claim with the Agency that committed misconduct. If you believe you may have a claim against the federal or state government, please contact Velie Law Group, PC for a free consultation.
Yearly in the US, over 1200 fatalities occurred in relationship to the construction industry. (US Bureau of Labor, 2007.) A construction company or government agency is liable for activities which cause injury while performing duties of employment. (Cal. Civ. Code. §2295.) Under such circumstances, an employer can be directly liable for the employee’s act. (2 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (9th ed. 1987) Agency and Employment, 113, p. 107.) While behavior of employees or unsupervised techniques are a common cause of dangers that lead to injury, often substandard safety materials and measures are the cause of construction accidents. As construction companies benefit greatly from their hazardous activities on property, they are held to a stricter standard of liability to compensate for the great likelihood or severity of harm. (11 Cal. Real Est. § 29:28 (2011 3d ed.).) If you believe you have been injured as a result of a construction accident, please contact Velie Law Group, PC for a free consultation.
While weather and other natural events have a great impact on California’s roads, often it is lack of routine maintenance and care that leads to vehicle accidents. “Except as provided by statute, a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of its property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred, and either: (a) A negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the scope of his employment created the dangerous condition; or (b) The public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.” (Cal. Gov. Code §835.) The range of accidents for which the government may be held liable ranges from broken axle from a pothole, to a 12 car pile-up on the freeway.
It is critical to file claims against the government in a timely manner and to the correct agency. For example, if an accident involving the hazardous conditions of a state road, a claim must be filed first against Caltrans before filing claims in court. Moreover, if claims are not filed before the statute of limitation, an injured party will be barred from collection forever. This is why it is important to have an attorney who can not only maneuver these timelines, but can also help word a claim so that is much greater chance of success. As most claims against government agencies are denied, an attorney will become an even greater asset in what will become necessary civil filing. (Cal. Gov. Code §910-913.2.)
What Is A Product Defect?
A defective product is one with an unreasonably dangerous property that reaches the expected consumer and causes physical harm to the person or his property. (Second Restatement of Torts §402A(1).) A seller is liable regardless of whether he or she exercised all possible care or is not directly in contracted with the buyer. (Id.) A famous example of this law in action is the lawsuit a customer filed against McDonald’s for serving coffee so hot it would cause major burns if spilled. (Libbeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, 1995 WL 360309.) The purpose of this type of lawsuit is to encourage businesses to carefully develop and distribute their products with the possible impact on their customers in mind. (Bailey v. Safeway, Inc., 131 Cal. Rptr. 3d 41, 47 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. 2011).)
What Can Be Done If A Person Is Injured By A Product?
Often when a customer is injured by a product by no fault of his or her own, it can be difficult to find the party responsible. Because a long chain of distribution exists for many products in California’s markets, it’s possible that any given product has changed hands half a dozen times before reaching the customer. By analyzing the nature of the product defect, and the possible places where the defect originated, an attorney can help you find the people responsible, and under which types of laws you can collect for your injuries. Consumers are especially protected in California, but you are only protected if you assert your rights. If you believe you may have a product defect claim, please contact Velie Law Group, PC for a free consultation.
Dog Bites & Attacks
In the U.S., an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur each year with 800,000 bite injuries requiring medical care and costing insurance industries over $1 billion. (Centers for Disease Control. (2003) Nonfatal dog bite-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments-US 200l - MMWR, 52(26), 605-610, Humane Society of the United States (2005); and National Pet Related Statistics; Shelter Pages, 37-38.) California law provides that the owner of any dog can be liable for damages for dog bites, in public or private places, regardless of if the owner knew the dog’s potential for biting. (Cal. Civ. Code §3342.) Dog bite attacks are based on the idea that people who own dogs take on utmost care to prevent their dogs from biting others. Since a dog owner can be held liable despite taking precaution and with no fault, California places strict liability on owners for dog bites. Dog-related injuries can be fatal, especially to children when dog owners do not properly restrain their dogs. It is important for dog bite victims to come forward and assert their rights so that dog holders will be considerate of the possible consequences of dog ownership. If you have been injured as a result of a dog bite and would like to assert your rights, please contact Velie Law Group, PC for a free consultation.
When someone is killed by the wrongful conduct or gross negligence of another, it is called "wrongful death." These are the most tragic cases. When someone dies as a result of gross negligence in incidents such as car accidents or motorcycle accidents, the law provides that next of kin and the estate may act as plaintiffs to bring a civil action to recover economic and non-economic damages. This is true even if the deceased was partially (or comparatively) at fault in the events leading to the death. People who are considered next of kin include family members such as a husband, wife, domestic partner, children, parents or siblings, in order of priority to a claim. If a parent dies, the surviving spouse/partner and children may all be plaintiffs, as well as anyone else who was likely to receive support if the decedent had lived. A wrongful death plaintiff may recover:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income from the decedent
- Medical expenses prior to death
- Loss of household support
- Loss of child-rearing support
- Loss of medical and retirement benefits
- Other economic losses sustained by the accidental death of a loved one
- Non-economic damages such as mental anguish and suffering
A surviving spouse or partner, having lost a life companion, also has a separate right to recover damages for the terrible injury to the couple's relationship. This is called a loss of consortium. The surviving spouse/partner's loss is recognized as a separate civil action and provides separate damages.
HABITABILITY CLAIMS AGAINST LANDLORDS
Implied in every residential lease is a warranty of habitability. See Green v. Superior Court, 10 Cal. 3d 616, 638 (1974). California Civil Code § 1941.1 provides the minimum requirements for a habitable residential unit: a) effective waterproofing; (b) unbroken windows and doors; (c) working plumbing and gas facilities; (c) hot and cold running water; (d) proper sewage system; (e) heat; (f) working electrical lighting and wiring; (g)clean grounds; (h)no rodents and vermin; (i) an adequate number of garbage cans; (j)floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair; and (k) a locking mail box.
To prove a claim for breach of warranty of habitability, a tenant must show: (1) an uninhabitable condition; (2) actual knowledge by landlord or constructive knowledge; and (3) damages. Stoiber v. Honeychuck, 101 Cal. App. 3d 903, 918-19 (1980). Constructive knowledge means that a landlord should have known or could have known about the issue with reasonable inspection.
Damages for breach of warranty of habitability include return of rent paid and attorney fees. The statute of limitations for breach of warranty of habitability is two years for an oral lease and four years for a written lease. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §§ 339 and 337. This means that a tenant can only claim a return on rent for two years back on an oral and four years back on a written lease.
If you think you are the subject of an uninhabitable unit, please contact The Velie Law Group, PC for a consultation today.
HABITABILITY CLAIMS RELATED TO BED BUGS BED BUGS
California has had a surge of bed bug infestations over the past few years and tenants rights need to be protected from injuries and emotional distress related to these issues. Tenants that are dealing with bed bugs at their unit need to quickly report the problem and document any and all injuries sustained as a result of an infestation. If your property has bed bugs or is otherwise uninhabitable, you may be entitled to damages which may include a return of rent payments and monetary compensation for emotional and physical injuries. If your unit has become uninhabitable as a result of a bed bug infestation, please contact The Velie Law Group, PC immediately.
The Velie Law Group, PC has experience at litigating wrongful death actions and our lawyers are available to discuss all aspects, consequences, liabilities, rights, and remedies arising from the tragic fatality. Please call our office for a free consultation.
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