Will My Health Insurance Company Take Part of My Personal Injury Settlement?

February 28, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits

After a personal injury case is settled, many clients are surprised to discover that their health insurance company is entitled

Couple Reading Letter In Respect Of Wife's Neck InjuryAfter a personal injury case is settled, many clients are surprised to discover that their health insurance company is entitled to take a portion of the payout. People, especially those who are seriously injured in auto accidents, feel that this practice is simply unfair — but the reality is that your insurance carrier has a legal claim for reimbursement on the hospital and medical expenses made on your behalf. This is known as “subrogation,” which enables your insurance company to be indemnified for all medical costs covered after your accident.

While you are legally obligated to pay back your insurance company for the medical treatments your policy covered, a qualified personal injury lawyer can help you tackle this eventuality from the start by maximizing your monetary recovery.

Insurance subrogation

Whether your injuries were caused because of another’s party’s negligence, or you were partially to blame for your accident, your insurance company is responsible for covering your medical bills. This could include doctor’s visits, surgery, rehabilitation, prescription drugs and other care expenses. This safety net comes at a price – your monthly premiums and a binding contract that you signed when you acquired your policy.

When you purchased your health insurance policy, although you may not have been aware of it at the time, you agreed to a subrogation clause, which allows your insurance company to seek repayment from you for medical bills arising from an at fault third party.  In other words, if you were injured by a negligent party and received a personal injury settlement that includes payment for medical expenses, you are obligated to reimburse your insurance company for any monies they advanced for your treatments.

In effect, your insurance company will always pay for your medical treatments according to the terms of your policy, but it also puts a lien on any future monies made available to cover the expenses. If your claim does not culminate in a settlement or court judgement, you (the policy holder) have no monetary obligations to your insurance company beyond your normal premiums.

Why do I have to pay back my insurance company?

Any monies received through a verdict or settlement will be based in part on your medical expenses. This type of legal recovery is based on liability, which means the party who caused your accident would be responsible for paying your medical expenses. If you do not reimburse your insurance for the expenses, you would be, in essence, compensated twice for your injuries.

Keep in mind that that the insurance company is only allowed to claim the actual amounts paid  for your medical treatments, so even though a doctor may have billed for $2,000, your policy may have only paid $1,300 on the claim.

Importance of legal representation

In our experience as veteran personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles, many clients have little knowledge about subrogation liens, and the impact they can have on their financial recovery. If you’ve been in an accident and are filing a claim in Southern California, a skilled attorney can help you navigate insurance subrogation interests, while working hard to optimize the value of your case.

Protect your rights to fair compensation and contact the Salamati Law Firm for a free case evaluation. Our legal team focuses on litigation arising from car accidents, truck accidents and premises liability.

Additional Insurance Subrogation Resources:

  1. CMS.gov, Reimbursing Medicare: Medicare’s Demand Letter, https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coordination-of-Benefits-and-Recovery/Coordination-of-Benefits-and-Recovery-Overview/Reimbursing-Medicare/Reimbursing-Medicare-.html
  2. California Department of Health Care Services, Personal Injury Program, http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/Pages/TPLRD_PersonalInjuryProgram.aspx
  3. CMS.gov, Coordination of Benefits & Recovery Overview, https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coordination-of-Benefits-and-Recovery/Coordination-of-Benefits-and-Recovery-Overview/Overview.html
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Seven Crucial Steps Toward Winning a Personal Injury Case in California

February 24, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits

In a personal injury case, you have been injured by a person or entity due to their negligence. They failed

Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in courtIn a personal injury case, you have been injured by a person or entity due to their negligence. They failed to do something they should have done.

Say, for example, that a customer dropped a bottle in a grocery store aisle. The grocery store needed to clean it up quickly to ensure the safety of their customers. If they didn’t, and you fell and hurt your arm, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

A personal injury suit can secure compensation to pay for medical treatment, including doctor’s visits, prescriptions, physical therapy, disability, and other damages that affected your quality of life. If you had to take time off work, you can recover lost income.

A personal injury suit can be filed in California as long as the injured party files within two years of the date the accident occurred. You and your attorney need to prove that the negligent actions of the defendant were responsible for the injuries you received.

All legal cases rely on evidence and information. There are seven crucial steps you can take that increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries.

Get concrete evidence of what happened

When you have an accident, take pictures or get a record of evidence about what happened immediately. If you have a cell phone that can take pictures, don’t be shy to snap the scene of the accident. The glass and liquid on the floor, for example, in the scenario above. Any area of your clothes and face, if they show injuries (rips to clothes; blood on you). Even the store employee coming to the scene with a mop after your injury. If the pictures are time dated, even better. If you don’t have a camera, keep any ripped or blood-stained clothes or other evidence.

Get medical treatment immediately

For any injury, the safest action is to get medical treatment right away. Save all records of doctor’s visits, ambulance rides, prescriptions, x-rays or other treatments, like surgery or physical therapy. Be sure to get the diagnosis.

Keep all medical receipts

Keep all receipts for medical and medical-related treatment related to the accident, both immediate and over a period of months. It’s a good idea to keep all these in one place. Include receipts for prescription drugs, physical therapy, doctor’s visits, emergency room visits, and follow-up treatment. Don’t forget mileage driving to and from the treatments. These receipts can provide the basis for compensation.

Communicate well with healthcare professionals about the nature of your injuries

Doctors and other medical personnel need accurate descriptions about how your injuries feel to diagnose them. Does your arm have a stabbing pain or a dull ache, for example? Did the injury affect your range of motion, or ability to perform job tasks? Be sure to describe all the feelings, symptoms, and effects.

Tell your physician and attorney about any prior medical conditions

If you have prior medical conditions that might be causing some of your injury, be sure to be forthcoming about it. Under California law, you may seek damages for an accident that exacerbates a previous condition. But your chances of being looked upon favorably increase if you disclose prior issues.

Let your lawyer know any new information

Keep in touch with your lawyer about any new information that might be relevant. Did your doctor order an MRI? Did you hear that other people have had accidents at the same store? Did your injury flare up and make you unable to drive?

Take a good negotiating stance

Being able to be patient and wait for settlement offers, or for initial offers to rise, is part of being a good negotiator. Work with your personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles to receive the maximum settlement, which is often not the first one offered.

Speak to a personal injury attorney

If you’ve been hurt or lost wages because of another party’s negligence, reckless behavior or wrongdoing, it’s good to know the law is on your side. The Salamati Law Firm has successfully recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients. We are an aggressive firm that will protect your rights.

Call us today for a free consultation.

Additional “California Personal Injury Lawsuit” Resources

  1. California Courts. Statute of Limitations, http://www.courts.ca.gov/9618.htm
  2. California Courts. Going to Court, http://www.courts.ca.gov/1094.htm
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How Do I Appeal a Personal Injury Case?

February 22, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits

In the majority of personal injury cases, a settlement is negotiated before you ever step foot in a courtroom. Cases

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept, blue toneIn the majority of personal injury cases, a settlement is negotiated before you ever step foot in a courtroom. Cases that are tried before a judge or jury will result in a judgement. As a plaintiff who is suing for compensatory damages, you may not be satisfied with an unfavorable verdict if errors have occurred during the trial proceedings.

In a criminal trial, only the defendant has legal grounds to appeal a verdict, but in civil cases both the plaintiff and defendants have the right to appeal a personal injury judgement. An appeal is a legal process where one party requests that a higher court make a formal change to a decision rendered by a lower court.

A civil appeal is a process used to examine perceived errors of the law that unjustly affected the outcome of the case. If no errors are discovered, the appeal is denied.

Appealing a personal injury case in California

A plaintiff cannot appeal a personal injury verdict simply because they are unhappy with the amount of monetary damages awarded at the end of the trial. In California, the person who is filing the appeal (the appellant) and their personal injury lawyer should be able to highlight a procedural error during the trial that was prejudicial, whether it was committed by the presiding judge or jurors.

The main goal of the court of appeals is determining whether an error or infraction occurred in regards to the legal process.

A few examples of procedural errors committed at trial may include:

  • Improper admission of evidence
  • Judge gives incorrect instructions to the jury
  • Whether expert witnesses were allowed to testify
  • If testimony provided by expert witnesses exceeded their qualifications and scope
  • Trial judge misinterpreted the law

In order to succeed with their appeal, the appellant is tasked with showing that the trial court made a reversible error that adversely affected the outcome of their case.

Filing an appeal after an unfavorable outcome

Unlike a trial, which focuses on presenting evidence, calling witnesses and is generally a fact-intensive proceeding, the appeals process does not reexamine facts of the case, but looks only at the application of law during the trial to determine if errors were made.

In order to file an appeal in the California court system, your attorney must prepare a detailed brief that expounds on the legal arguments at hand. There are also strict deadlines to appeal a personal injury case. As specified in California Rule of Court 8.104, an appellant must file a notice of appeal 60 days from the date of mailing notice of entry of judgment, or 60 days from the date of service of notice of entry by the party, or 180 days from the date of entry of judgment if no notice was provided.

It is up to your attorney to craft a compelling brief that speaks to the relevant laws correctly, in attempt to persuade the appellate court that errors were committed. The brief will usually cite previous cases that support the appellant’s legal standpoint.  If the appeal is successful, the court may remand the case back to lower court, vacate the original judgement or call for a new trial.

Los Angeles personal injury representation

At the Salamati Law Firm, our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers provide sound legal guidance to accident victims throughout Southern California. We are dedicated to providing unwavering advocacy to clients and use our extensive experience to protect your rights throughout every stage of the litigation process.

If you or someone you love needs legal guidance, call us toll-free to discuss your case free of charge.

Additional “Personal Injury Appeals” Resources:

  1. Judicial learning Center, The Appeal Process http://judiciallearningcenter.org/the-appeal-process/
  2. American Bar Association, How Courts Work – Steps in a Trial – Appeals, http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_network/how_courts_work/appeals.html
  3. Court of Appeals, FACTS ABOUT A COURT OF APPEAL http://appeal.laws.com/court-of-appeal
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Pharmaceuticals Litigation Draws Plaintiffs to California

February 15, 2017 News

They have been dubbed “litigation tourists” and according to a 6-year study, they make up about 90 percent of the

They have been dubbed “litigation tourists” and according to a 6-year study, they make up about 90 percent of the plaintiffs in pharmaceuticals litigation in California. These plaintiffs with no California connection are flooding the courts and critics argue that they impede the chances of residents who are looking to have their day in court.

Justice group study identifies flux of “litigation tourists”

Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in courtAccording to a study recently published by the Civil Justice Association of California, most plaintiffs in California cases against pharmaceutical companies are these so-called “litigation tourists”, who do not reside in California – and have no connection to the state – but choose to file here because of a perceived advantage.

The study looked at product liability lawsuits filed against pharmaceutical companies in Los Angeles and San Diego between January 2010 and May 2016. It included more than 2,900 cases which included more than 25,500 plaintiffs.

Not only are individual plaintiffs likely to be non-California residents but more than two-thirds of the pharmaceuticals cases do not have any California residents in the entire group of plaintiffs. In nine out of every ten lawsuits included in the study, the plaintiffs were represented by one of 25 law firms and none of those firms had California residents make up more than one third of their plaintiffs.

Incentives for non-California tort plaintiffs

There are a number of likely contributing factors to the rise in non-resident lawsuits:

  1. California has garnered a nationwide reputation as being plaintiff-friendly
  2. California courts apply a different standard from most other states for admissions of expert witness testimony
  3. The state recognizes what has become known as the “innovator liability theory” which allows a manufacturer of a brand-name drug to be held liable when patients are injured by generic alternatives that were manufactured and sold by third parties
  4. Unlike most other states, California has no cap on punitive damages

Last year’s state supreme court case, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, decided in August 2016, appears to apply a stamp of approval to the practice. In that case, 86 Californians were joined by nearly 600 non-residents to sue the defendant drug manufacturer over alleged injuries related to a prescription blood thinner. The out-of-state defendant argued that the California court did not have jurisdiction because none of its operations took place in California. But the California Supreme Court permitted the lawsuit because the company had marketed and distributed the product in the state.

Critics point out that using California’s judicial resources for forum-shopping plaintiffs with no ties to the Golden State does not help residents who already face an uphill battle gaining access to the courts due to the state court budget crisis that has been ongoing since 2008.

California personal injury lawyer

A personal injury, including those caused by pharmaceuticals, can leave victims and their families with physical, financial, and emotional damage. Los Angeles attorney personal injury lawyer Sean Salamati understands the impact of these events and can help you determine your best next legal step. Contact the Salamati Law Firm at 888-259-4060 for a free consultation.

Additional Personal Injury Resources

  1. Civil Justice Association of California, Out-of-State Plaintiffs: Are Out-Of-State Plaintiffs clogging California Courts?, http://cjac.org/what/research/CJAC_Out_of_State_Plaintiffs_Exec_Summary.pdf
  2. California Courts, Jurisdiction and Venue: Where to file a case, http://www.courts.ca.gov/9617.htm
  3. Consumer Attorneys of California, Court Funding: California’s court system is bearing a disproportionate share of state’s budget hardship – denying vital services and preventing many Californians from ever having their day in court, https://www.caoc.org/index.cfm?pg=CourtFunding
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California Rains Cause Surge in LA County Car Crashes

February 14, 2017 News

Unprecedented rains in a historically dry area have triggered flash floods and a massive surge in freeway crashes, reports the

Firefighter and paramedics taking victim out of crashed car

Unprecedented rains in a historically dry area have triggered flash floods and a massive surge in freeway crashes, reports the Los Angeles Times. At the beginning of the rainy period last November, the California Highway Patrol noted a whopping 570 percent increase in traffic accidents throughout Los Angeles County, as motorists struggled with slick roads, poor visibility and hazardous conditions. According to reports, heavy storms inundated San Luis Obispo County with more than two inches of rain, and Brentwood’s Getty Center didn’t fare much better with more than an inch of water. The sudden uptick in motor vehicle crashes created havoc and gridlock along several highly-trafficked freeways in Southern California.

The spike in freeway crashes, some of which involved multiple vehicles and large trucks, left many motorists with serious injuries requiring hospitalization and medical treatment. Unfortunately, weather-related traffic accidents in California are not uncommon, says personal injury attorney Sean Salamati, who represents victims in the greater Los Angeles area. Salamati has vast experience handling personal injury car accident claims involving commercial vehicles and passenger cars.

Liability issues in bad weather accidents

Treacherous road conditions, whether caused by rain, ice or fallen debris, can lead to dangerous situations for anyone behind the wheel. In car accidents caused by bad weather, who, if anyone, is legally responsible for damages?

In California, liability for any type of auto accident comes down to negligence. Was the driver exercising reasonable care given the current weather conditions at the time of the crash? A light shower might only call for a slight reduction in speed, whereas a heavy downpour would require a reasonable driver to turn on their headlights, slow down considerably and accommodate for longer stopping distances, in case of sudden breaking.

Snow, rain, fog, ice and sleet can reduce tire traction, visibility and brake performance. When motorists are driving in bad weather conditions, they should take extra care and adjust their speed accordingly. Those who fail to do so and are involved in a collision may have a difficult time seeking appropriate compensation for property damage, medical bills and other related losses.

If you are injured because another motorist failed to drive safely in bad weather, or was driving too fast for conditions, the Salamati Law Firm is here to help.

Protect your rights to compensation

As a veteran California injury attorney who specializes in car accident claims, Sean Salamati leverages the resources and experience to build a strong case that documents all injuries, pain and suffering, and economic losses. His legal team can uncover whether hazardous road debris, careless driving, alcohol impairment, or other factors contributed to the crash.

Working with a trusted auto accident lawyer in Los Angeles with proven case results can make a major difference in your ability to successfully file a claim and recover fair monetary compensation for your losses.

To set up a free, no-obligation case evaluation at our Los Angeles office, we invite you to call 888-259-4060. 

More “car accidents caused by rain” resources:

  1. LA Times, Rain triggers 570% surge in Los Angeles County freeway crashes http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-rain-weather-socal-20161121-story.html
  2. LA Times, Drenched: How L.A. went from bone-dry to 216% of normal rainfall in four months, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-rain-record-la-20170123-story.html
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U.S. DOT Proposes Speed Limiting Devices for Commercial Trucks

February 3, 2017 Truck Accidents

In response to a staggering increase in truck accident fatalities over the past five years, officials at the Department of

Blue and white truck in motion blur on the highway at sunset

In response to a staggering increase in truck accident fatalities over the past five years, officials at the Department of Transportation (DOT) have proposed that all big rigs and heavy trucks have speed limiting devices installed. Federal authorities hope that by implementing speed governors on commercial vehicles (weighing more than 26,000 pounds), highway safety will improve substantially.

The speed limiting technology would cap large truck speeds at 60, 65 or 68 mph miles per hour. According to research conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), tractor trailers and trucks not using speed limiters were in twice as many high-speed crashes compared to those using them. A separate study found that more than 40 percent of all commercial vehicles crashes in 2014 involved trucks traveling at 60 mph or greater.

The DOT estimates that limiting large trucks to 65 mph would save between 63 to 214 lives annually.  “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment,” offered Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Speed limiters for heavy commercial vehicles

If the Department’s initiative is passed, the regulations would affect all newly manufactured commercial vehicles, including buses, trucks and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds.

Requiring speed capping devices on large trucks would not only save thousands of lives each year, regulators say it will also provide $1 billion per year in fuel cost savings. The proposed regulation has garnered support from the American Trucking Association (ATA). A spokesperson for the ATA offered that truckers who already use speed limiting devices have found numerous benefits, including increased safety, better fuel efficiency and equipment longevity.

The proposed rule has also drawn criticism for its narrow approach. Steve Owings, founder of RoadSafeAmerica, supports speed-limiting technology in commercial carriers but says that such devices should not be restricted to only new trucks, as it blunts the safety benefits to all motorists. Owings suggests that this life-saving technology should be utilized in all big rigs and heavy vehicles, not just newly manufactured ones.

Truck injuries, crashes on the rise

Statistics from the NHTSA underscore the increasing dangers facing motorists, who share the highways with thousands of heavy commercial vehicles:

  • Collisions involving big rigs and other commercial carriers jumped 44% between 2009 – 2014
  • Truck accident fatalities increased 20% from 2009 to 2015.
  • Injuries arising from commercial vehicle crashes spiked 50% between 2009 – 2014

The average tractor trailer tips the scales at 80,000 pounds, putting smaller, lighter passenger vehicles at a distinct disadvantage in a collision. Given the speed and weight of the vehicles involved, many of these accidents result in catastrophic injury and loss of life.

Injured in a commercial vehicle accident?

DOT’s proposal for speed limiting technology is a positive step for improving road safety. Until these regulations are fully implemented, motorists are still at risk for suffering serious harm in the event of a collision.

In the wake of an accident involving an 18-wheelers or heavy truck, there are many liability issues that need to be examined to ensure that victims are properly compensated for their losses. Los Angeles commercial vehicle accident lawyer Sean Salamati has a thorough understanding of negligence laws, and can help outline your options for legal recourse. You can schedule a free consultation by calling 888-259-4060.

Additional Commercial Vehicle Speed Limiter Resources

  1. FMCSA, U.S. DOT Proposes Speed Limiters For Large Commercial Vehicles https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/us-dot-proposes-speed-limiters-large-commercial-vehicles
  2. com, US DOT Wants Electronic Devices to Stop Trucks From Speeding https://www.trucks.com/2016/08/26/transportation-department-speed-limiter-rule/
  3. RoadSafeAmerica, RULE FOR HEAVY VEHICLE SPEED LIMITERS SHOULD APPLY TO EXISTING LARGE TRUCKS http://roadsafeamerica.org/proposed-rule-for-heavy-vehicle-speed-limiters-should-apply-to-existing-large-trucks/
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DUIs Down, But Alarming Totals Continue

January 18, 2017 Auto Accidents

While new data shows there are fewer drunk drivers on the road today than there were a few short years

 A set of car keys in the foreground and a glass of whiskey behind.

While new data shows there are fewer drunk drivers on the road today than there were a few short years ago, the millions that continue to drive under the influence each year are still alarming. Recent information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that while we are making strides in the area of driving under the influence, there is still much work to be done to make the roads safer for drivers in Los Angeles and across the country.

Drops in DUI span 12 years

SAMHSA released their latest report on December 27, 2016, using data collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The information includes self-reported drug and alcohol use before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and spans 2002-2014. Although the rates of driving under the influence declined (from 15.3 percent in 2002 to 11.1 percent in 2014), there were still around 27.7 million drivers age 16 and over that got behind the wheel after drinking.

Some of the biggest drops in driving under the influence occurred among drivers between the ages of 21 and 25. These adults had a rate that dropped from 29.9 percent in 2002 to 18.9 percent in 2014. The research also found that rates of driving under the influence peaked by the age of 29 and then continued a steady decline all the way up to the senior years. Just 4.1 percent of adults age 65 and older reported driving after drinking in 2014.

“Although it is heartening to see a downward trend in the levels of driving under the influence of alcohol, it still kills thousands of people each year and shatters the lives of friends and loved ones left behind,” Frances Harding, Director of SAMSHA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, was quoted as saying in a press release on the organization’s website. “We must strive to save lives by reducing this public health threat through education, prevention and all other possible measures.”

Male drivers had higher rates of driving under the influence than females across all age brackets. Men were also more likely to drive under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. According to this new report, a total of 10.1 million, or 4.1 percent of the population age 16 and over, drove under the influence of illicit drugs during 2014. Another 2.5 percent got behind the wheel after using a combination of illicit drugs and alcohol during that same year, compounding the problem of impaired driving in this country.

Impact of DUI

While positive progress has been made, the number of drivers operating a motor vehicle is still extremely concerning, considering that 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2014 related to alcohol use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that more than 9,900 people were killed in accidents involving impaired driving during that year. Over 1.1 million were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2014, which made up only one percent of the total number of people that reported driving while impaired during that year.

Los Angeles car accident attorney Sean F. Salamati has seen firsthand how impaired driving can change lives in a split-second. Our team works with victims of these accidents every day to help them get the financial compensation they are entitled to for injuries, medical bills and lost wages. To get a free assessment of your particular case and answers to all of your legal questions, contact the Salamati Law Firm today.

Additional DUI victim resources

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, The Rate of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol has Steadily Declined from 2002-2014, https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/201612271200
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Drunk Driving, https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving
  3. MADD, Drunk Driving Statistics, http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/about/drunk-driving-statistics.html
  4. CDC, Impaired Driving: Get the Facts, https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html
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5 Reasons to Always Wear a Motorcycle Helmet

January 4, 2017 Motorcycle Accidents

Hard data shows that the use of motorcycle helmets saves lives – hundreds of them each and every day. Riding

Driver riding motorcycle on the empty asphalt road

Hard data shows that the use of motorcycle helmets saves lives – hundreds of them each and every day. Riding without the benefit of protective gear puts motorcyclists at increased risk for severe head injuries, lasting brain trauma and death. According to recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmet use among riders can prevent up to 37 percent of fatalities, and states with strict helmet laws – including California – report fewer motorcycle accident related deaths.

California Vehicle Codes 27802 and 27803 stipulate that all riders must wear safety helmets when operating or riding passenger on a motorcycle. Failure to do so can result in steep fines, but even more importantly, wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of injury. While many seasoned bikers relish the freedom of riding without a protective helmet, here are five compelling reasons why you should never hit the road without wearing one.

5 Reasons to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet

  1. Protection from serious head trauma – It doesn’t take a high speed collision to leave a biker with lasting injuries caused by head trauma. Even the smallest of spills can result in permanent harm when motorcyclists forgo a safety helmet. Bikers who wear helmets are three times more likely to survive a head injury compared to those who do not wear helmets, according to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration.
  2. It’s the law in California – California motorcycle laws state that it is illegal to operate a motorcycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a DOT compliant helmet. Motorcyclists who fail to wear helmets run the risk of being pulled over, ticketed and fined.
  3. Increased weather protection – Helmets with clear visors help to protect eyes from wind, dust, rain and sun glare, thus reducing vision impairments and increasing comfort. Furthermore, research has shown that motorcycle helmet use does not interfere with vision or hearing.
  4. Road debris protection – Road debris and environmental obstacles are of serious concern for all motorcyclists who may be forced to contend with rocks, gravel and other fallen materials from vehicles ahead. Helmets that are equipped with faceguards can protect the face and eyes from flying objects and debris that can cause a crash.
  5. Better visibility – An estimated 30 percent of motorcycle-car crashes occur because the vehicle driver fails to register the motorcyclist. Helmet use, along with reflective clothing, can help increase visibility and prevent accidents.

Legal advocacy in Los Angeles

There is ample evidence demonstrating that helmet use decreases the number of motorcycle accident brain injuries and deaths. Motorcycle riding is exhilarating, but also inherently more hazardous than driving a car. If you were injured in an accident and need skilled legal assistance, call the Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers at the Salamati Law Firm for a free case review.

Attorney Sean F. Salamati is well-versed in California legislation regarding motorcycle rider rights and offers his services on a contingency-fee basis. Arrange your free consult today.

Additional California motorcycle helmet law resources

  1. BikersRights.com, Mandatory Helmet Law http://www.bikersrights.com/states/california/california.html
  2. California DMV, California Motorcycle Handbook https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/wcm/connect/af13374c-aa57-4f2b-9ac9-aa3fdc419cc9/dl665.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
  3. CDC, Helmet Use Among Motorcyclists Who Died in Crashes and Economic Cost Savings Associated With State Motorcycle Helmet Laws — United States, 2008–2010 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6123a1.htm
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Importance of Taking Photos after a Truck Accident

December 30, 2016 Truck Accidents

When faced with a serious – often catastrophic – event like a truck accident, things tend to move at lightning

trucks on highwayWhen faced with a serious – often catastrophic – event like a truck accident, things tend to move at lightning speed. From emergency responders giving medical care to law enforcement working to clear the scene and get traffic flowing again, there are a lot of moving parts and most are concerned with something other than a victim’s legal rights.

Especially in the fast-paced Los Angeles and surrounding Southern California area, it is not always possible to take the time to have an expert truck accident attorney in Los Angeles review the scene in person. Photos taken at the time of the accident offer irreplaceable insight into the scene that assist lawyers, expert witnesses, and jurors to determine what happened, why, and what the damages or injuries were. They also can capture information that does not appear in the police report and capture details that witnesses forgot in the heat of the moment or that the victim missed when overwhelmed by the terrifying experience.

The value of taking photos at the scene of an 18-wheeler accident

Photographs orient people and things in time and place. After the scene has been cleared, photos that were taken at the time of the crash will later help determine who and what were in a given place at a given time. One thing to keep in mind, then, is to use a time-stamp function to assist in building a timeline with the images.

Truck accident lawyers see the same types of factual questions come into play in lawsuit after lawsuit and these questions impact legal liability.

To help answer these questions, some of the photographs you should try to capture include:

  • People – Anyone present at the scene – including parties and witnesses, police, fire, and other first-responders – should be included. Especially important is any injury, even if it does not seem very serious at the moment.
  • Places – Be sure to capture evidence of where the accident occurred and how the vehicles were positioned. It is easy to over-focus on the smallest details after a serious accident but obtaining bigger picture photos that include objects like street signs and other location identifiers help others, after-the-fact, visualize where the details existed at the time of the crash.
  • Things – Objects on and around the vehicles give clues about the physics involved in the crash and the injuries and damages that resulted. Try to capture images of any objects that were damaged in the collision, including parts vehicles, guardrails, and even skid marks on the road.

When this information is captured by the camera, it can be a major factor in establishing who breached a traffic duty, what mechanism may have failed, how immediately the injuries were apparent, or any number of other elements that may arise in the course of a case.

Los Angeles truck accident attorney

The Salamati Law Firm serves personal injury victims in the Los Angeles area and throughout California. We fight for the rights of victims of trucking accidents and other auto crashes throughout the state. We pride ourselves on diligent representation with integrity and compassion. If you or a loved one have been involved in an 18-wheeler accident, call us for a free consultation.

Additional truck accident resources

  1. California Highway Patrol, SWITRS 2013 Report, https://www.chp.ca.gov/programs-services/services-information/switrs-internet-statewide-integrated-traffic-records-system/switrs-2013-report
  2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, Large trucks, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks
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Los Angeles Man Killed Following Altercation in Bar

December 23, 2016 News

In the early morning hours of December 16, a Los Angeles man was struck and killed by a car following

Paramedics with man on stretcher in ambulance, low angle viewIn the early morning hours of December 16, a Los Angeles man was struck and killed by a car following an altercation in a North Hollywood bar. The victim, whose name was not immediately released by police, evidently had been drinking in the bar and fought with the bouncer shortly before closing.

He and the bouncer, Ernest Reyes, struggled until he fell in the street. At that point, the victim was struck by a car which accelerated and left the scene without stopping.
The car was described in the Los Angeles Times as a “dark-colored vehicle with dark-tinted windows.”

Police arrested Reyes, who is 34, on suspicion of murder. His bail was set at $2 million. The Times noted that the sequence of events was unclear, including whether Reyes shoved the man into the street. Police are currently investigating. They are also exploring whether security cameras can yield a picture of the car and driver who struck the victim.

Multiple legal claims possible

While law enforcement is still investigating and fault cannot yet be assigned, the incident illustrates several points of California law regarding vehicle accidents, pedestrian responsibility, and personal injury.

Negligence laws in California apply to both vehicles and pedestrians. A car that strikes a pedestrian is not always at fault. Hypothetically, if a pedestrian darts into a street directly before a car, a jury could find the pedestrian 100% at fault. If, however, a pedestrian is jay-walking and a car is going too fast to stop, a jury might find that the driver bears the preponderance of blame. Under state law, a jury could find the driver 75% negligent and the pedestrian 25%. Any damages awarded would be split accordingly.

Second, there is the issue of driver behavior. News reports indicate that the victim was killed by a hit-and-run accident. A hit-and-run is an accident in which the driver of a vehicle that has struck someone does not stop. Under California law, drivers who strike someone, whether they are injured, killed, or unharmed, must stop. It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident. If someone was killed in the accident, leaving it is a felony offense.

If the driver is found, the victim’s family in this case could bring civil charges under California hit-and-run law.

Third, the incident raises the issue of personal injury law. Under California personal injury statutes, someone can be responsible for personal injury if they carelessly caused personal injury or death. Careless means that a person knew or should have known a situation was dangerous but did not take proper care to prevent it.

While we do not know the circumstances until the police investigations are complete, a party who pushes another party into the path of an oncoming vehicle could be found to have caused personal injury. However, if the victim stumbled rather than was propelled into the roadway, or did not notice an oncoming vehicle due to inebriation, a jury might find that the victim was partly or even entirely responsible. Because the victim was hit by a car, the driver of the car may also bear a large responsibility.

In this particular case, the accident resulted in death. The families and loved ones of the deceased can bring suits in cases of car accidents, pedestrian accidents, and personal injury.

Have you lost a family member in a hit and run or other traffic incident?

The Salamati Law Firm specializes in vehicle and pedestrian accidents and personal injury cases. If you or your family face any of the situations above, contact our skilled Los Angeles car accident attorneys today for a free, no-obligation consultation. There is no fee unless we win your case. We have years of experience fighting for the rights of people like you.

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