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Billboard-Lawyers-Los-AngelesAs a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer that has been helping accident victims and their families for over 25 years, I wanted to write a blog about something that I have begun hearing more and more of in the past few years.  Clients are coming to me stating that they hired a personal injury attorney, they attorney submitted a settlement demand to the insurance company, the settlement offer was either nothing or not a reasonable amount and then they were told, “You’ll have to find another lawyer, we don’t litigate cases.”  This is preposterous to me!  If an attorney was willing to sign up your case because they believed that the claim had merit, why would they not be willing to file a lawsuit?  The answer is simple and it goes back to something I’ve been “harping on” for some time now: There are too many self-proclaimed “personal injury attorneys” in Los Angeles that are simply out to do the least amount of work on each case, get what they can get, and move on to the next case!

What are “settlement mills” and why are they bad for every personal  injury victim in Los Angeles?

As I blogged about extensively here, there is a disturbing trend across the United States especially in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles when it comes to “Personal Injury Law Firms.”  The trend is for lawyers to spend big bucks on advertising or use other methods to get a high volume of clients, try to do very little work on the case, try to get a settlement as quickly as possible and then move on to the next case.  Why is this their business model?  In order to sustain a high volume practice where the majority of the overhead consists of money spent on advertising such as television ads, radio spots or plastering the sides of the freeways with billboards, less money must be spent on the actual pursuit of the claim.  For example, if a law firm is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month (which some in L.A. are doing) to get new “sign ups”, how does this leave any resources to be spent on things like attorney and staff salaries, court costs, costs of taking depositions, cost of hiring expert witnesses and other expenses that go into fully prosecuting the claim?  The answer is there it doesn’t!  From a time standpoint, how is it possible to give each claim enough attention to ensure that the best result happens when you have thousands of files at any given time?  The answer is it isn’t!!  The business model of the settlement mill, therefore, is to bring in as many cases as possible, try to spend as little money and time as possible to get the case to settlement, get paid quickly and move on to the next case.

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Dog-Attack-Injury-Attorneys-Los-Angeles-300x200Californians who suffer injuries in dog attacks that are not caused by bites may be able to recover damages by proving that the dogs’ owners were negligent. In Wolf v. Weber, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. A157937, the court considered whether the primary assumption of the risk doctrine bars negligence claims against dog owners when an injury occurs in an off-leash dog-walking trail.[1]

Factual background

Diane Wolf and her husband were walking their dog on a trail in Tilden Regional Park on Oct. 6, 2016, in an area in which dogs are allowed to be off their leashes but only when the dogs are under their owners’ control. Alexander Weber was also walking along the trail with his dog, a Boxer-Argentinian Mastiff mix, and a friend, Martin Cenek. Neither of the dogs was wearing leashes. Both groups were near the end of the trail, and Weber and his friend were approximately 70 feet ahead of Wolf and her husband. Weber’s dog started to lag behind his owner and then turned and headed towards Wolf, her husband, and her dog. Wolf yelled that she was afraid, and Weber tried to get his dog to return by yelling at him to sit. However, his dog did not obey. Weber called him several times, and his dog started to return to him. Wolf was scared and turned around and started to run when she felt something hit her in the back of the knee. She fell and broke two bones in her leg and dislocated her ankle.

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Los-Angeles-Car-Accident-LawyerIf you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in California that results from the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to recover damages for your losses. However, your ability to recover damages may be limited if you were driving an uninsured vehicle when you were injured. This is because of a California law that limits the ability of uninsured motorists to recover damages for their non-economic losses. While this law prevents people who do not have insurance from recovering all of the damages to which they would otherwise be entitled to receive, there are multiple exceptions. Getting help from an experienced accident attorney in Los Angeles may help you to recover fair compensation for your losses.

What is Proposition 213?

Proposition 213 is a law that was passed in 1996 in California. The insurance industry spent millions of dollars lobbying for this law to be passed. Insurance companies have been able to enjoy billions of dollars of added profits by avoiding paying non-economic damages to injured drivers who were driving uninsured vehicles at the time of their collisions. Proposition 213 is codified at Cal. Civ. Code § 3333.4, which reads as follows:

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ride-share-uber-lyft-los-angelesUber and Lyft have become so ubiquitous that people might have trouble remembering the time before either app was available in Los Angeles. However, Uber was founded in 2009, and Lyft was founded in 2012. Even though these and other ride-share apps are relatively new phenomena in LA, people have come to rely on these types of services to get to where they want to go at a cheaper price than hailing a taxi.

While there are other ride-sharing apps available, Lyft and Uber dominate the market. The popularity of these apps has led some major car manufacturers and rental companies to partner with Uber or Lyft. While there are exceptions, many people are choosing to use ride-share apps instead of hailing taxis, riding on public transportation, or using their vehicles during their daily commutes in LA. This has resulted in people comparing prices between Uber and Lyft as they try to determine which app offers better prices.

The cost of using ride-share apps widely varies from location to location. However, these apps are much cheaper than taxi services regardless of where you might be located. In addition to comparing prices, you should also understand your rights if you are injured in an accident caused by a Lyft or Uber driver.

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Covid-19-Worker-Injury-Attorneys-Lawyers-CaliforniaAs work injury lawyers, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the nation and has resulted in many infections and deaths in California and other states. As the state begins to reopen and more people return to their jobs, many people are concerned about what might happen if they get infected at work. Recently, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that makes it easier for people who contract COVID-19 while working to recover workers’ compensation benefits.

Governor Newsom’s executive order

On May 6, Governor Newsom announced that he had signed an executive order to allow workers who are diagnosed with coronavirus disease to recover workers’ compensation benefits.[1] The order makes a rebuttable presumption that people who work outside of their homes and contract COVID-19 were exposed to the virus at work. Before the order, workers had the burden of proving that they contracted their illnesses while they were working on the job. This order instead places the burden on the employers to prove that their employees contracted the disease while they were not working.

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lyft-accident-attorneys-injury-lawyersIn California, people who are injured by workers who are acting within the scope and course of their employment at the time of their accidents may recover damages from the employers under a legal principle called respondeat superior. Under this principle, employers are liable for the negligent actions of their employees. However, an employer is not liable for the actions of its employees when they are not working. In Marez v. Lyft, Inc., Cal.Ct.App. Case No. A156761, the California Court of Appeal reviewed the dismissal of two complaints against Lyft in which the plaintiffs alleged that a Lyft driver’s accident happened while he was working and that Lyft should be liable for their injuries and losses.

Case background

In 2015, Jonathan Guarano started working as a driver for Lyft. While he initially drove his personal vehicle, he started driving a vehicle that he rented from Hertz under a program through Lyft called the express driver program. To rent a vehicle from Hertz to drive for Lyft under this program, a driver must choose a pre-approved vehicle and drive at least 20 hours per week. In exchange for driving a Hertz rental vehicle under this program, Lyft drivers receive several incentives. When he made enough money to cover the cost of the rental vehicle, Lyft paid for the rental by deducting it from his paychecks. When he did not make enough money, he paid for the cost out of his pocket. Guarano used the rental car for both personal and work use.

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Navigating stairs can be difficult for some people. Unfortunately, falling while walking up or down stairs causes many injuries to people in California and across the U.S. every year. According to a study that was published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, more than one million people are injured in the U.S. in accidents involving stairs every year. These accidents affect people of all ages, but children, older adults, and women are likelier to suffer injuries.

The study

Researchers at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which is located in Columbus, Ohio, looked at stair accident data gathered by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System between 1990 and 2012 for injuries that required emergency department treatment.[1]

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Despite decades of educational campaigns and enforcement efforts, drunk driving continues to be a problem in California and across the U.S. When people go out for drinks, they sometimes wrongly believe that they are okay to drive instead of calling cabs or ride-shares to get home safely. People who choose to get behind the wheel when they are intoxicated place themselves and others at risk. Unfortunately, this does not deter some people from driving drunk. When people are seriously injured or killed in drunk driving accidents in Los Angeles, the victims and their family members may be entitled to recover damages by filing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits.

Drunk driving accident and arrest statistics

A review of statistical data by Smart Advocate from 2009 to 2018 compared drunk driving arrests in large cities across the U.S. In Los Angeles, there was an average of 1,804 drunk driving arrests per 100,000 people each year during the 10 years. Los Angeles has experienced a steady decline in the number of drunk driving arrests since 2009. In 2018, the total number of DUI arrests in the city was 4,755. By contrast, the total number of DUI arrests in 2009 was 9,020. While this is a substantial improvement, Los Angeles still ranked number 16 among the cities with the greatest number of DUI arrests in the U.S.

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In California, cities have immunity when people are injured while using paved or unpaved trails because of the design or location of the trail. The immunity does not apply when the injuries are caused by a dangerous condition that is unrelated to the trail, however. In Reed v. City of Los Angeles, Cal. Ct. App., Case No. B294531, the courts considered whether a badminton rope stretched across a bicycle trail was an unrelated dangerous condition or could have caused injuries to people regardless of whether they were using the trail.[1]

Factual and procedural background

On Sept. 12, 2015, Sells Reed III was riding his bicycle at 5:30 a.m. on a paved path that was adjacent to some sports fields in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. Some people who were not connected to the City of Los Angeles had stretched a rope of a badminton net across the path. Reed did not see the rope and struck it, causing him to fall backward from his bicycle and to suffer multiple injuries. He filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles, alleging that the city had constructive notice of the existence of a dangerous condition on public property or that the city’s public employees were negligent in the performance of their jobs, resulting in his injuries.

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Kobe-Bryant-Wrongful-Death-LawsuitThe deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant along with the other people who were on the helicopter with them shocked the world. As thousands of mourners went to the Staples Center in Los Angeles for a memorial service to remember the victims, Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the pilot’s estate and the helicopter company on several grounds. The civil complaint was filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court. While Kobe Bryant’s estate is estimated at $600 million, there are several reasons why Vanessa Bryant may have filed a lawsuit other than to add to her family’s vast wealth.

Key legal issues in the wrongful death lawsuit

Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit names the estate of Ara Zobayan, who was the pilot who also died in the crash, Island Express Helicopters, and Island Express Holdings as defendants. Her claims against the estate are based on negligence, and the claims against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holdings are based on principles of vicarious liability.  Note: For a full copy of the actual lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court click here:  1784052393(1-72)

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