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Articles Posted in California Personal Injury Law

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Emergency-Room-Bills-Personal-Injury-AccidentWhen people in California have health insurance through health management organizations, they normally will go to their in-network providers for care. However, when people are injured in accidents and are forced to seek care in emergency departments, the hospitals may not have pre-negotiated contracts with the HMOs. This might mean that the HMOs may refuse to pay the full amount that they are billed for the provided services. In some cases, doctors have subsequently billed the patients for the balance between what they billed the HMOs and the amounts that they received, which is a practice called balance billing. The Supreme Court of California ruled that balance billing is not allowed in the state in Prospect Health Source Medical Group, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Saint John’s Emergency Medicine Specialists, Inc., et al., Defendants and Respondents, 45 Cal.4th 497 (2009).

Factual background of the case

Prospect Health Source Medical Group is an individual practice care association that manages care through written contracts with health plans. It contracts with medical providers and hospitals to provide patient care to its members at contracted rates. When people go to one of the providers in the network, Prospect pays the provider the agreed-upon rate. However, patients who have to go to the emergency department might go to a hospital that does not have a contract with Prospect.

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California-Personal-Injury-Case-LawWhen people in California decide to participate in inherently risky activities, they assume the risk that they will be injured unless the operators of the activities engaged in conduct that was grossly negligent. In Grotheer v. Escape Adventures, Cal. Ct. App. 4D, Case no. E0634449, the court examined the concept in the context of a hot-air balloon ride in which a female passenger was injured after signing an express waiver of liability.

Issue: Is a balloon company a common carrier, and was the express waiver of liability sufficient to preclude a finding of liability?

Grotheer, a 78-year-old German woman, was a passenger on a hot-air balloon ride that had been purchased for her by her son while she was visiting California. Grotheer could not speak English. Prior to the ride, her son explained that she could not speak or understand English to the balloon operator but was apparently waved off. Grotheer signed an express waiver of liability prior to the balloon’s takeoff. The trip was apparently uneventful until the landing. The balloon descended too rapidly and crashed through a fence before crashing forcefully to the ground. The force of the landing caused the balloon’s basket to skip across the ground before it came to rest on its side. Grotheer landed at the bottom, and her leg was broken in the crash-landing. She filed a lawsuit against the balloon’s operator, the balloon company and the vineyard from where the balloon launched, alleging negligence. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Grotheer assumed the risk when she chose to go on the hot-air balloon ride, that the company was not negligent or that if it was, it was not grossly negligent to the extent that the assumption of the risk standard would not apply.

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immigrants, personal injury claims, CaliforniaCan an undocumented immigrant obtain monetary recovery for a personal injury claim in California? Under a new law that was passed, courts will no longer be allowed to inquire about plaintiffs’ immigration statuses in personal injury cases. Previously, defendants were allowed to raise the immigration statuses of plaintiffs as a defense to the determination of lost earnings. The new law passed in February, 2016.

The old law: Rodriguez v. Kline

For the past 30 years in California, plaintiffs who were not in the country legally had to compute their future earnings that were lost according to what they would have earned in their countries of origin. Often, this amount would be substantially less than the calculation would be for future lost earnings in the U.S. The rule came from the case of Rodriguez v. Kline, which was decided on appeal in 1986.

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California, Personal Injury, LawsCalifornia Personal Injury Laws are constantly being updated and 2016 is no exeption. The State of California is revamping some of its laws to cut down the number of citizens that fall victim to traffic and pedestrian accidents. The following are some of the top laws that California intends to pass for 2016:

Safe Skateboarding Law: AB 604

A rise of electric skateboards has been occurring over the past five years, and a rise in skateboarding accidents has followed. The new law will demand that young riders wear helmets when they ride, stay on the sidewalk, and keep their speed under 35 miles per hour. Furthermore, electronic skateboard riders must be at least 16 years of age.

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apple watch, personal injury lawTrial attorneys learn early in their careers that each group of jurors is a blank canvas waiting for the evidence that will paint a picture of events as their clients seek to portray them. It is the task of the attorney to convince the jury that allegations are facts that can be believed and relied upon.

Needless to say, personal injury cases offer the greatest challenge to lawyers who must prove the effect an accident had on a client’s ability to go about his or her daily activities. In the past, attorneys resorted to commissioning professionally prepared videos portraying what purported to be an average day-in-the-life of the accident victim. The video could be played in court to offer jurors visual proof to support the testimony of the victim.

Wearable Data Offers an Alternative to Videos

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Hazing, California Law, Hazing Victim AttorneyAs a California hazing assault lawsuit attorney, I am glad that hazing, of all sorts, is rare, however, it still happens too often in our schools, universities and other institutional settings.   Recent events show that assault and battery as a “rite of passage” is still taking place.  What do the laws of the State of California provide with regard to victim’s rights in these cases?

Hazing Is Both Criminal Conduct and Can Result in Civil Liability for Money Damages Under California Law

California Penal Code 245.6 defines “hazing” as a crime in California and sets forth the legal definition as follows:

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California Personal Injury AttorneyHiring the wrong injury lawyer can ruin your case forever!  This is a harsh statement but, one that I find to be true time and time again as a California personal injury attorney.  The State of California has one of the highest number of attorneys of any state.  It is estimated that, especially in high populated urban areas like Los Angeles, there can be as many as one lawyer for every 150 people!  Many of these attorneys claim to “do” personal injury cases or “handle” accident claims but, hiring the wrong one can mean complete and permanent disaster for your claim.  Why do I say this?

In order to obtain full and complete compensation on an injury claim, the case must be handled properly FROM THE START!

You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you’re going to have a strong superstructure.

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personal injury, jury verdict, Los AngelesIn what will be a continuing series highlighting personal injury jury verdicts in Los Angeles, I wanted to discuss two cases were jury verdicts rendered in L.A. Superior Court were reported in November as follows:

Verdict of Almost $70,000 After State Farm Insurance Offers Only $30,000 for Settlement

Villalobos v. Aranda, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. MC023611

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Settlement of Insurance Claims, Personal Injury Settlement Negotiation, Los Angeles Personal Injury LawyersPersonal injury insurance settlement negotiations in CA can be tricky without the right advice and assistance of legal counsel.  Having negotiated hundreds of claims throughout the Golden State ranging from traffic collisions to injuries on commercial and residential property to all manner of claims involving bodily harm, I thought I would share some of my tips on effective negotiation tactics. Being able to resolve a claim without having to file a lawsuit can save a client both attorney’s fees and costs.  Most personal injury lawyers have a “graduated” scale on their contingency fee agreements.  Oftentimes, the percentage of the gross recovery charged as lawyer fees increases the  longer the case drags on and the more work the attorney has to do in filing a formal lawsuit in court, conducting discovery (including sending out and responding to requests for information and documents, taking and defending depositions) and preparing for mediation, arbitration or trial of the case.  In addition, litigation of claims costs money!  There are court filing fees, fees to have the lawsuit served on the defendant(s) by a certified process server or constable, costs of court reporters to record deposition proceedings, costs of expert witnesses and many other expenses.  Therefore, it is most often in the economic interest of a personal injury client to try to have their claim resolved sooner rather than later from a net proceeds standpoint unless the offer to settle is so low that the risks and costs of proceeding forward are outweighed by the potential for greater recovery.

Top Five Strategies Used by Attorneys to Maximize the Settlement Offer From An Insurance Claims Adjuster Prior to Filing a Lawsuit

There are many tactics and approaches used by lawyers who represent injury claimants to maximize value and increase the chances of settling a claim “pre-litigation.”  I thought I would share my top five methods as follows:

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police brutality claims in California, Los Angeles police misconduct lawyerThe Los Angeles Times reported today (see article here) that the California Highway Patrol has agreed to settle a civil rights police brutality claim for $1.5 Million.  The plaintiff, Marlene Pinnock, was a 51 year old woman who was held on the ground and repeatedly punched by a CHP officer on the side of the 10 freeway near Los Angeles.  The beating was videotaped by a passing motorist and the videotape sparked widespread protest.  I thought I would use this incident to explore the legal aspects of such claims.

What is the legal standard for a civil rights violation or other claims for personal injury in California and under Federal Law related to police brutality?

The main statute pertinent to these types of claims is a federal statute found in chapter 42 of the United States Code at section 1983 which states, in pertinent part, as follows:

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