Back and Neck Injuries From Rear-End Collisions in Orange County and Inland Empire

back and neck injury lawyer in orange county californiaWhen someone rear-ends your car during a collision, your body’s response is immediate but often unpredictable. During even a minor impact, your neck moves with an unnatural flexion-hyperextension motion. This sudden whip-like movement sometimes triggers a series of physical reactions commonly known as whiplash.

If a heavy truck or a speeding vehicle strikes you in the rear, the speed and weight intensify the impact and vehicle occupants rarely escape the harmful consequences. Severe rear-end crashes cause extensive vehicle damage which contributes to serious or catastrophic injuries. Injured occupants sustain spinal fractures, spinal cord damage, and other life-threatening traumas. These injuries require immediate emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and costly lifetime care.

Although whiplash injury severity is unpredictable at an accident scene, rear-end impacts affect soft tissues, ligaments, nerves, discs, inter-vertebral joints, and other structures. One person walks away and remains symptom-free. Another feels okay at the scene, but pain, discomfort, and inflammation begin within a day or two. Whiplash symptoms ease within weeks but they sometimes worsen or continue for years.

While less serious than catastrophic injuries, a whiplash condition presents complex recovery and treatment challenges as well. Whatever the severity, back and neck injuries have many common elements: high treatment costs, permanent disabilities, lost income opportunities, and lifestyle changes.

Claims Adjusters and the Whiplash Credibility Gap

Liability insurance adjusters understand that rear-end accidents cause a long list of neck and back injuries. As the NIH Whiplash Information Page explains, whiplash injury symptoms usually include neck and back pain, headaches, inflammation, and stiffness. Injured victims also suffer from unanticipated problems such as burning sensations, memory issues, and depression. Despite supporting information from reliable resources, a credibility gap exists between whiplash victims and the adjusters handling their claims. The injury’s unpredictable nature defies automated insurance company injury evaluation software.

  • Whiplash symptoms sometimes surface days after an accident.
  • Patient conditions vary widely and doctors can’t always predict treatment needs or recovery outcomes.
  • Injured people often have extensive medical treatment but few outward signs of an injury.
  • Recovery times sometimes far exceed a doctor’s generic 6 to 10-week whiplash prognosis.
  • Treatment costs and wage losses add up quickly.
  • Whiplash injury dynamics defy insurance company automated injury evaluation programs.

Insurance claim adjusters systematically question whiplash injuries. They challenge doctors’ diagnoses and underestimate settlement values. As most back and neck injury manifestations are internal, when a condition becomes chronic, they suspect malingering or fraud. These attitudes against whiplash promote liability, investigation, evaluation, and negotiation biases.

5 Facts You Should Know About Discussing Your Claim With an Insurance Adjuster

At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, our lawyers recommend that our clients never get caught up in a whiplash injury dispute. When you’re injured, you need the legal guidance our personal injury attorneys provide. If an adjuster contacts you before you have a chance to review your case with one of our attorneys, consider these critical facts:

  • 1. Liability insurance adjusters work for the other driver’s insurance company, not you.
  • 2. When you talk to an adjuster, they record or write down everything you say.
  • 3. They use your statements against you during negotiations, depositions, and other formal encounters.
  • 4. Adjusters rarely debate rear-end accident liability but they often dispute injury severity.
  • 5. When adjusters negotiate claims, they settle for the least amount possible.

Chronic Back and Neck Injuries

When your whiplash injuries fail to heal after 6 to 10 weeks, they’re presumably more serious than your doctor originally anticipated. Your spine is highly functional yet sensitive. It doesn’t respond well to whiplash trauma. When weeks pass and your pain continues or increases, it’s usually a sign of a chronic problem. The Know Your Back Whiplash Page explains that several conditions cause chronic back and neck pain after a rear-end accident.

  • Facet joint pain: A primary neck pain trigger
  • Torn annulus: Irritation of the nerves in a disc’s outer wall
  • Disc pain: Pain when a disc irritation fails to heal
  • Muscle sprain: Acute muscular pain from protecting discs, nerves, and joints
  • Herniated disc: A disc compression

Catastrophic Back and Neck Injuries

A forceful rear-end impact jars a vehicle’s occupants so forcefully, it often causes death or significant injuries. Serious rear-end accidents cause severed spines and fractured vertebrae. Bone fragments destroy spinal nerve cells causing paralysis and diminished bodily functions. The 2018 Spinal Cord Injury Fact sheet documents the tragic connection between vehicle accidents and spinal cord injuries. Vehicles contribute to more spinal injuries than any other cause. Rear-end accident victims must handle a range of serious and catastrophic injuries and conditions.

  • Spinal fractures
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Paralysis
  • Diminished bodily functions
  • Loss of sensation
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Reduced life expectancy
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Psychological problems
  • Fatal injuries

Whiplash Treatment Options

Whiplash is a puzzling injury. Each person’s condition manifests its symptoms in different ways and doctors respond accordingly. They begin with traditional back or neck treatments. As pain continues or worsens, they move on to cutting-edge therapies and surgical interventions.

  • Pain/anti-inflammatory medications
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Cervical collars
  • Physical therapy
  • Cervical traction
  • Spinal fusion
  • Laminoplasty
  • Laser surgery
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Medial branch blocks

Catastrophic Injury Treatment

Catastrophic neck and back injuries have few treatment options. If injected in time, methylprednisolone minimizes spinal cord damage and maximizes spinal recovery. Unfortunately, patients often deal with the medication’s side-effects, including pneumonia and blood clots. As spinal damage is rarely reversible, treatment centers on healing, rehabilitation, and symptom management.

  • Respiratory support
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Surgery
  • Body and limb Strengthening
  • Physical and psychological therapy
  • Pain, heart, bladder, respiration, and bowel management

Recoverable Damages After a Rear-End Accident

Personal injury damages fall within two broad categories: economic damages and general damages.

  • Economic Damages include current and estimated future lost income, incurred and estimated future expenses for physicians, medication, prosthetics, mobility devices and structures, and other treatment and rehabilitation costs.
  • General Damages include intangible considerations such as pain, suffering, altered spousal and family relationships, lifestyle changes, and other personal and emotional issues.

Courts also consider punitive damages under California Civil Code Article 3: Exemplary Damages [3294 – 3296]. An injured plaintiff must present clear and convincing evidence that a defendant committed oppression, fraud, or malice.

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys

At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn our personal injury lawyers consider it a privilege to serve our injured clients. We represent injury victims in Orange County and the Inland Empire. If you or a family member sustained a neck or back injury in a rear-end accident, we want to hear your story and determine if we can help you.

Call our law offices at (714) 434-1424, or complete our contact form at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn online to schedule a free consultation. Our firm handles injury cases on a contingency basis: we charge a fee only after we resolve our clients’ cases.

Suing a Bus Company for a Loved One’s Wrongful Death

bus injury lawyer in orange county californiaOur Orange County Personal Injury Lawyers dedicate themselves to one result: serving those who are injured or aggrieved due to legal conflicts in the Orange County region of California. Aitken * Aitken * Cohn benefit from a national reputation of high-quality experience and aggressive representation for our clients. Our firm has obtained substantial recoveries on behalf of our clients, and is committed to doing its part in working toward a just and safer world.

Contact us today or call (714) 434-1424 if you need assistance in a wrongful death case resulting from a bus company’s neglect.

Orange County Bus Accident Lawyers’ Results

Aitken * Aitken * Cohn recently recovered $2,296,000 for the family of a young entrepreneur pursuant to a wrongful death claim. When a three-year-old boy, who lost his mother in a vehicle accident, was represented by our law firm for his mother’s wrongful death, Our firm settled for $2,500,000. A prominent California physician’s family received $19,422,000 in restitution for his wrongful death. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome in every case, but our track record of success shows our firm will work aggressively for the best possible outcome.

Wrongful Death – Understanding the Legal Term

When a person dies because of an illegal or wrongful act by another person, the individual who dies has suffered a wrongful death. Improper acts that can lead to wrongful death include:

  • Negligence (i.e., careless driving)
  • Assault or battery
  • Mortality associated with some crime
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Murder

A lawsuit may take place on behalf of the deceased’s family, who lost the company and support of the loved one.

Bus Accidents and Wrongful Death

In 2015, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety, Orange County suffered 2,461 fatalities and injured persons due to vehicular accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported, in that same year, California eighteen-wheeler truck and bus fatality rates per 100 million total vehicle rates were 0.09.

Bus Accident Liability

Finding liability for a wrongful death case can be complicated. The fault can lie with any of these entities or errors:

  • A lack of seat belts for passengers
  • Intoxicated or drugged bus driver
  • Another vehicle driver’s negligence
  • Passenger distractions
  • Faulty bus parts
  • Lack of bus maintenance
  • Wet or cluttered streets
  • Bus companies cutting corners
  • Poor county, state, or city regulation of road conditions
  • Other regulatory agencies
  • Bus manufacturers
  • Sleep-deprived driver
  • California respondent superior law that can make an employer vicariously liable for the negligence of his or her agent
  • California negligent entrustment law which imposes liability, not the driver of the bus but on a bus owner or employer
  • Negligent hiring, retention, and supervision

Damages Recovered for Wrongful Death

A wrongful death lawsuit can be significantly more stressful for a family than other types of personal injury cases. After all, the family has lost a loved one, but needs to enter into a legal battle to bring to light the negligence of the person or entity at fault. That is why it is essential to seek the advice of an attorney who has significant experience in the matter of wrongful deaths. You need a champion to fight for you and your family, so you receive just compensation.

Wrongful death damages can include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Lost consortium and companionship
  • Lingering medical bills due to the incident
  • Loss of potential inheritance
  • Pain and suffering of family members and loved ones

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

In California, the statute of limitations regarding the filing of a wrongful death suit is two years after the date of death of the decedent. California allows relatives of the decedent to file a lawsuit as a result of a wrongful act causing death. The survivor statute gives the family financial and emotional support (CCP § 377.60)

Proceeding With a Wrongful Death Case

A wrongful death claim must include proof that someone else’s negligence caused the decedent’s death. And, those members of the deceased’s family who survived must establish that they experienced significant and measurable damages because of their loved one’s wrongful death. All states, at this time, allow the surviving spouses and children to file wrongful death suits. California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 states that others may also file a lawsuit, such as:

  • Spouses
  • Grandchildren
  • Children
  • Domestic partners
  • Stepchildren (if the decedent paid for at least 50 percent of their monetary support)
  • Anyone entitled to the deceased’s property (California intestate succession laws)

Call Trial Lawyers Aitken * Aitken * Cohn if You Were Injured by a Bus

It is our honor to discuss your case and offer the legal advice you need. Our team works on a contingency basis, which means we pay all costs regarding trial preparation and procedures to achieve a successful prosecution of your case. We only accept payment after we have obtained a successful outcome for your situation. Once we take your case, Aitken * Aitken * Cohn will advance the costs of most activities leaving you with no upfront costs.

We can offer such services because our law offices are selective in the legal matters we choose to represent. We think our clients deserve the kind of personal attention we can provide based on our current staffing and our existing caseload. If we are to determine whether or not you have a viable case, we will need to ask many questions and listen carefully to the answers you provide. This conversation is crucial. We will want to know:

  • What occurred
  • What damages you suffered
  • Who caused the damage
  • What goals you have when we prosecute on your behalf

If you like, you can get our discussion started by filling out the form on our contact page at Aitken* Aitken * Cohn online or you can call us at (714) 434-1424. We have locations in Santa Ana, San Clemente, Riverside, and directions to each of our offices included on our contact page.

Pursuing a bus company for a loved one’s wrongful death can be a complex conflict, but it does not have to be. Call your Orange County Personal Injury Lawyers today and let us do the hard work for you and your family.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries and Permanent Paralysis

Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), approximately 12,000 spinal cord injuries occur annually in the United States. Furthermore, over one-quarter of Americans live with spinal cord injuries, and they spend a combined three billion dollars each year managing their injuries.

Sadly, 36.5 percent of spinal cord injuries occur during motor vehicle accidents. More than one-quarter of spinal cord injuries result from falls, and the rest are due to sporting accidents, acts of violence, and other causes that are less common. According to NINDS, the average age of individuals with spinal cord trauma is 42.6 years old, and 80 percent are male.

The skilled attorneys at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn handle cases that involve spinal cord injuries and permanent paralysis far too frequently. Our significant experience has provided us with valuable knowledge, and below we share important information that may assist individuals who have experienced this type of injury.

What Happens in a Spinal Cord Injury?

Serious harm to any section of the spinal cord or to the nerves at the end of the spinal canal can cause permanent strength, sensation, and other body function damages. Spinal injuries may also affect the mental, emotional, and social status of patients and their families. While research is ongoing into the best treatment for spinal cord injuries, there are currently treatments and rehabilitation processes in place to help injured individuals lead productive and independent lives.

Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury symptoms depend on the location on the spinal cord where the patient sustained the injury. Some injured individuals suffer incomplete damage, which means that they have some spinal function below where their injury occurred. Others, sadly, suffer complete injury, which means that the injured individual has no function below the injury. Damage to the spinal cord can cause:

  • Complete loss of muscle function
  • Weakness
  • Loss of control of the bowels
  • Loss of sensation below the location of the injury
  • Loss of normal sex function
  • Loss of muscle function

Complications of a Spinal Cord Injury

Numerous difficulties can accompany spinal cord injuries, including complications that make an individual’s day-to-day activities tough to complete. These side effects include:

  • Abnormal temperature control
  • Excessive sweating, the absence of sweating, or diminished sweating
  • Respiratory complications
  • Thromboembolism
  • Bladder disorders
  • Spasticity
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Bowel management

Living With Permanent Paralysis

According to research conducted by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, about 1.2 million Americans live with paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries. This number is five times more than the previous estimate of 250,000 people. Many of these individuals cannot afford health insurance that adequately covers the conditions that are most often linked to paralysis, which may further exacerbate their injuries.

Doctors, nurses, and caregivers are often necessary to care for permanently paralyzed patients, and they may assist in the following ways:

  • Skin care treatment (pressure ulcers)
  • Physical therapy
  • Muscle stretching
  • Guarding against sepsis
  • Administering medications
  • Watching for correct positioning when seated and reclining

Paralysis Law

Aitken * Aitken * Cohn attorneys have significant experience representing individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries in their personal injury claims. In a recent case, Wylie A. Aitken, a founding member of the firm, and Darren O. Aitken, represented a mother and daughter who were involved in a serious car accident. Another driver struck the right passenger side of their vehicle; both drivers lost control, and both vehicles sustained serious damage. The other driver worked for the U.S. Department of Defense. Sadly, the daughter suffered serious injuries, underwent 25 surgeries, and spent 250 days in the hospital; the accident left her a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. The mother developed severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after seeing her daughter injured so severely. Aitken * Aitken * Cohn secured $55,184,288 in compensation for the family.

In another case, noted by the American Association for Justice, a hunter fell from his tree stand and shattered his vertebrae. His injuries resulted in paralysis, and he is now a paraplegic who suffers from severe chronic pain in his hips, groin, and legs. As a result of the accident, he had to quit his job, divorced his wife, and moved in with his elderly parents. Interestingly, faulty gear caused his fall; the polypropylene straps that he used to bind his hunting stand to a tree failed and caused his fall. Primal Vantage, the makers of the straps, never informed consumers that the straps degrade severely when exposed to the environment. Aitken * Aitken * Cohn represented him in a case against Primal Vantage, and the jury ruled in his favor on strict liability and negligence-based warning claims. Our client received $18.49 million for his injuries and an additional $13 million for his pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, we can promise that our attorneys will do everything they can to ensure that you receive compensation for the full cost of your injuries.

Call Us After an Accident Occurs

There are two things to remember after you have been involved in a vehicle accident. First, if there is any person with injuries or there is damage to any of the vehicles involved, call 911 immediately. Second, call an ambulance for any injured parties, especially if you suspect a spinal cord injury. The faster that a victim of a spinal cord injury sees a doctor, the more likely that individual will avoid paralysis.

Another important step is to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. Our legal team at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn has handled numerous spinal cord injury cases, and our attorneys understand the laws and regulations that come into play in these types of cases. Our lawyers will do everything necessary to bring justice to you and your family. You deserve time to take care of your injuries. Your physical recovery is your most important job; let us handle the legal matters. Contact us today at (714) 434-1424 or online.

The Main Causes of Rollover Car Accidents and How to Avoid Them

Rollover Accident AttorneysCar accidents often involve complex interactions between drivers, vehicles, the road, and the weather. Accidents are traumatic events that can leave a lasting impression on the individuals involved, particularly if the accident included a rollover. When one or more vehicle rolls over during an accident, it can result in serious injuries and even death. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, almost one percent of all crashes result in a rollover, and rollovers account for nearly one-third of all accident-related deaths.

What Causes a Rollover Car Accident?

There are two common reasons why vehicles roll over during an accident. First, drivers may lose control of their vehicles and drift off the roadway; second, drivers may engage in high-speed, risky driving. While there are other causes for rollover accidents, including collisions with other vehicles or obstructions in the road, the aforementioned reasons are the most common. Below we discuss some of the causes of rollover car accidents:

  • Driver control. The most common cause of a rollover accident is a driver losing control of a vehicle. Falling asleep at the wheel, using a phone, and other distracted driving all may cause a driver to lose focus and control. Striking a curb or other obstruction in the roadway may throw off a vehicle’s center of gravity. The forward momentum may cause the vehicle to roll over onto its side or top.
  • Risky maneuvers. Another common cause of rollovers is aggressive driving, including risky maneuvers like taking turns or swerving at a high rate of speed. Quick maneuvers like this can cause friction between the tires and the surface of the road causing the vehicle to tip to the side and flip over. This is especially the case for vans, trucks, and heavily loaded vehicles.
  • Multi-vehicle crashes. Most often, rollovers are single-vehicle accidents; multi-vehicle rollovers are less common. However, if a vehicle is hit side-on and pushed over by the force of the oncoming vehicle, it may roll. In many instances, a vehicle will strike a guardrail or other object that creates a ramp and results in a rollover.

How Do I Avoid a Rollover Car Accident?

Whenever you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, or in the passenger seat, there is always a risk of an accident. Although you cannot control every situation, like the driving conditions, the weather, or other drivers on the road, you can take certain safety precautions to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident. You should remain in control of your vehicle at all times, stay sober, and remain focused and alert at all times when driving. Abide by the following best practices to help protect yourself against a rollover accident:

  • Always drive sober. Drinking and driving is never a good idea. It puts you and everyone else at serious risk, and it’s simply not worth it. Even a small amount of alcohol can impair your judgment, coordination, and vision. Taking a turn too quickly when you’re sober is a problem, and if you’re intoxicated, it’s infinitely more difficult and more dangerous. Remember that almost 50 percent of fatal rollover accidents involve alcohol.
  • Understand your vehicle. Every passenger and commercial vehicle has the potential to roll over under the right conditions. According to the NHTSA, it’s more likely for an SUV, van, or pickup truck to roll over than a sedan. The higher center of gravity and weight of the larger vehicles means that they easily become unstable and that sideways momentum is difficult to stop. If you drive a vehicle with a high center of gravity, be aware of the tipping potential.
  • Control your speed. Excessive speed is a factor in 40 percent of all fatal rollovers, according to NHTSA. Furthermore, the vast majority of rollovers happened in areas with posted speed limits of 55 MPH or faster. The lesson here is simple: don’t speed. Remember that the posted speed limit is not necessarily a safe speed, depending on the conditions. Adjust your speed according to the conditions.
  • Focus on the road. When you’re driving, that’s all you should be doing. Always stay focused on the road and nothing else. Driving isn’t the time to text, talk on the phone, eat, read, or engage in any other activity that’s not directly related to driving. This is especially true when driving down rural roads, where the speed limit is 55 MPH or more. These roads are especially dangerous; nearly 75 percent of all rollover accidents on rural roads are fatal.

What If I Am Involved in a Rollover Accident?

The fact that rollover car accidents are most often single-vehicle accidents, and that they often occur on rural roads, makes them especially scary. In these circumstances, you must take initiative in calling for emergency services, which may be located far away and need time to respond. Below are some important tips for individuals involved in rollover car accidents:

  • Stay calm. After the dust settles, and you’re sure the vehicle has stopped moving, take a moment to calm yourself. You just went through a serious event, and while you’ve got every right to be scared, you need to remain calm.
  • Assess yourself. Do a quick pat down and check of your body, face, hands, and feet. You need to determine if you’re injured in a way that will hinder your movement. You also need to make sure that you aren’t trapped in your vehicle.
  • Check on all passengers. If anyone else is in the vehicle with you, call out to them and make sure they’re alright as well. If you can, reach out and touch them for reassurance, and keep communicating with one another until help arrives.
  • Exit the vehicle. If possible, you should exit your vehicle. It will be easier for you to assess your situation, survey the damage, and help your passengers if you are out of your vehicle. It will also make it easier to flag down help.
  • Call for help. If you can find your cell phone, call 911 and request that they send immediate help. The problem is, you might be unsure of exactly where you are, what happened, or how long ago it was. That’s normal—and rest assured help will arrive even with limited directions.

What Happens After a Rollover Accident?

Cases that involve rollover accidents may prove complex. While driver inattention, distraction, and poor judgment may cause rollovers, they certainly aren’t responsible for every crash. As discussed above, different types of vehicles are more prone to rolling than others, causing injury and death to consumers. Also, roadways that aren’t properly designed and/or maintained can contribute to rollover accidents.

If you were in a rollover accident, and you think that your vehicle was especially prone to rollovers or that the conditions of the roadway contributed to your accident, you should consult an attorney. Mounting medical expenses and lost wages can cause stress, but you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. Call Aitken * Aitken * Cohn at (714) 434-1424, or contact us online, to speak with one of our experienced attorneys about your case today.

Who Is Liable If My Child is Injured in a School Bus Accident?

School bus accident attorneys in Orange County, Riverside County, and the Inland Empire

School buses carry precious cargo. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean school buses always avoid getting into accidents. If your child sustains an injury in a school bus accident, who is liable? Who will take care of medical bills and other expenses? In this blog, we discuss how the circumstances surrounding a school bus accident can determine legal liability for your child’s injuries.

Determining Liability

An attorney experienced in school bus accidents can help you determine who may be liable for causing injuries your child sustained in a school bus accident. Identifying a liable party usually requires taking a range of factors into account, beginning with the circumstances of the accident itself. Police, lawyers, and insurance adjusters typically examine at least some of the following facts to identify liable parties:

Where and when did the accident occur? When a bus is traveling its usual route, that may indicate someone other than the driver is at fault. Conversely, if the bus was on unfamiliar roads, such as when it was transporting a sports team to an away game, the driver’s poor decisions may have played a larger role. The condition of the roadway may also be a factor.

Were other vehicles involved? A bus accident involving only the bus tends to point toward the bus driver or the condition of the bus as potential culprits. A bus accident involving other vehicles may suggest the drivers of the other vehicles, or the condition of those vehicles, played a role.

Were drugs or alcohol involved? In rare instances, bus drivers consume illegal drugs or alcohol before they take the wheel, which obviously points to their own fault and/or the fault of their employers, for a subsequent accident. But, most bus drivers are responsible people who care deeply for the safety of the students they transport. Even so, particularly when drivers are older and have their own medical problems, medication side effects and negative drug interactions can make someone temporarily unfit to drive a school bus.

Were safety measures followed? If the school overloads buses or fails to enforce safety rules on buses (such as allowing students to stand/move between seats while the bus is moving), then the students’ injuries may result from the school’s policies and practices.

Did something go wrong with the bus? When a driver reports that brakes failed, or a bus was “acting funny” before an accident, that may point to a preventable mechanical failure as the culprit. In that case, the manufacturer of the bus or its parts may face liability for the students’ injuries.

Working with an experienced bus accident lawyer can be the most effective way to investigate liability for an accident that injured your child.

The School’s Liability

Schools have a burden of care for the children entrusted to them throughout the school day. That includes transportation to and from school, and on school-sanctioned trips, on the school bus. Specifically, schools must:

  • Provide safe transportation for all students
  • Follow state laws regarding student transportation
  • Maintain buses in good condition and have them inspected regularly to ensure that there is nothing wrong with the bus that could contribute to accident or injury
  • Require inspections from bus drivers before they transport children to ensure that the bus, fire extinguishers, and other important safety equipment are all in working order
  • Staff buses appropriately to care for the students on the bus, including students with disabilities who may need additional care

A school may also be held liable vicariously if its employee—that is, the bus driver—is engaging in reckless driving behavior, driving under the influence, or otherwise putting students on the bus in danger. While the bus driver may be the one who is actually liable for an accident that occurs due to these factors, the school district’s insurance carrier will likely be obligated to pay any expenses associated with your child’s care. Working with your lawyer is the most effective way to determine what liability your school district has in the case of an accident.

Bus Company Liability

When the school system chooses to outsource busing services to another bus company, that company is responsible for taking care of the students during their bus ride. It is the responsibility of the school, however, to enforce rules the company must follow to keep students safe. In California, schools must sure private bus companies conduct inspections, evaluate drivers, and maintain adequate safety restraints for students.

The bus company can also be held liable for the behavior of its employees. If the bus driver is employed by the bus company, rather than the school district, the bus company may be liable for student injuries in the event of unsafe driving behavior. This includes driving while intoxicated, distracted driving, and other unsafe driving behaviors.

Who Else Can Be Liable?

In addition to schools and bus companies, several other parties may face legal liability for student injuries in a bus accident. These can include:

Bus and part manufacturers. As noted above, if the manufacturer of the school bus, or a part of the school bus, delivered a defective product, that manufacturer may bear responsibility for the injuries caused when the bus or part failed to perform as expected.

Other drivers. Sometimes bus accidents happen when the bus driver is doing everything right, but the driver of another vehicle isn’t. In those cases, liability may fall on the other driver and parties associated with him, such as his employer or the manufacturer of his vehicle.

Municipalities and private property owners. If road surface conditions caused an accident, whether the road is public or private, the party responsible for maintaining the road surface may face liability for a school bus accident.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers. If a drug manufacturer fails to disclose a harmful or dangerous side effect of a drug, and that side effect leads to a bus driver to driver in an unsafe manner, the drug manufacturer could face liability for the injuries sustained in any accident.

Don’t Wait to Seek Legal Help

If your child has been seriously injured in a school bus accident, you and your child may be entitled to significant compensation. Do not wait to seek legal help to explore your rights. Contact the experienced school bus accident attorneys at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn today online or by phone at (714) 434-1424 to schedule a free consultation.

When School Zones Become Danger Zones

pedestrian injury lawyer in Orange County, Riverside County, and the Inland Empire

Who’s Liable for Your Child’s Medical Bills?

You taught your child how to be a safe pedestrian. She knows to look both ways before leaving the curb, to use crosswalks, and to obey crossing guards. Your family lives only blocks from your kid’s school, and you have every reason to trust she will arrive there safely.

But none of that matters when you get a phone call telling your child was hit by a vehicle while she was walking to school.

Risks to Pedestrians

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that nationwide, those at highest risk of pedestrian injury or death are children between the ages of 5 and 15 and adults 65 and older.

Caltrans launched its “Look Both Ways” campaign in the greater Inland Empire in late 2017. According to their public information office, “pedestrian-involved incidents have increased over the last few years due to several factors, such as increased traffic, increased population and distracting cell phone usage by motorists and pedestrians.”

In November 2017, Southern Californians learned that even public safety officers can make dangerous and deadly mistakes. In a single day, a Riverside County deputy sheriff struck and killed a fifteen-year-old in Perris, and in Los Angeles County, another deputy crashed into a mother and two children after colliding with two other vehicles. The young boys died, and the woman sustained serious injuries.

These incidents occurred outside school zones, but is your child’s daily route any safer?

What Contributes to School Zone Pedestrian Collisions?

Poor lighting conditions are major contributors to many vehicle vs pedestrian incidents, and fortunately, children usually walk to and from school during daylight hours. No matter the conditions, however, we expect drivers to use caution, especially in areas designated as school zones, even though those expectations might be in vain. Sometimes, though, a driver’s ability to safely operate her vehicle is hindered by factors beyond her control.

Insufficient or Absent School Zone Markings

Drivers can’t follow school zone laws if they’re not aware they’re in a school zone. Crosswalk stripes, signage, and flashing lights positioned to slow traffic can’t work if they’re not present, or they’re not maintained for optimal visibility.

A Safe Kids Worldwide study reported that there were no marked crosswalks in 30 percent of surveyed school crossings, and only 40 percent of observed school crossings had posted 20 mph speed limits. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is a drastic reduction in pedestrian fatalities and severe pedestrian injuries when speed limits are reduced to 20 mph from 25 mph.

Who is responsible for installing and maintaining school zone markings? In some municipalities, this is a contentious issue. Transportation agencies, school districts, city councils, and county commissioners often disagree on responsibility when it comes to funding school zone safety programs. This problem is compounded when traffic patterns change, requiring new metrics for timing nearby traffic lights or comprehensive plans for improving intersection safety in areas immediately outside designated school zones.

Fixed Hazards on Public or Private Property

Adults often forget that small children have a limited ability to see over large utility boxes and landscaping plants. Drivers making turns at intersections might not be able to see oncoming traffic or pedestrians due to similar obstructions. In the last decade, large SUVs and trucks have risen in popularity, making visibility nearly impossible when they’re parked close to an intersection. Were they within the legal parking zone? Did the city neglect to extend “no parking zones” to reflect current safety issues?

Incompetent or Poorly-Equipped Crossing Guards

School districts select, train, and equip crossing guards to keep children safe while navigating intersections. It’s a given that some students will ignore crossing guards, and the attendant has a responsibility to stay with the children who adhere to the rules. But if the attendant leaves his post for any reason or fails to pay attention to traffic while leading his charges across a roadway, he and the district may be liable for any injuries incurred in an accident.

If the school administrators or district does not equip its crossing guards with appropriate signs, safety clothing, and training, they should be held accountable.

Hazardous Pick-Up and Drop-Off Lanes

Safe Kids Worldwide observed unsafe driving behavior in 1 out of every 3 cars monitored at pick-up and drop-off areas. How is traffic directed through areas where children arrive to or depart from school in their parents’ vehicles? In most cases, school teachers take turns monitoring pick-up and drop-off lanes, while at the same time keeping an eye on children gathered nearby. This is a distracting environment for drivers, faculty, and children, especially in inclement weather when visibility is low and students are rushing to avoid the rain.

When a child is struck by a vehicle on school property, a number of parties might be liable:

  • The school or district administrators for failing to properly train and adequately staff on-duty faculty
  • The school or district administrators for failing to design safe pick-up and drop-off areas
  • The school or district administrators for neglecting to install and maintain visible directional signs and lane markers
  • The driver operating the vehicle involved in the accident (there may be more than one)
  • The on-duty faculty for failing to focus on student and vehicle activity

Drop-off and pick-up areas on school property also impact public roads. If transportation officials neglect to modify street traffic control protocols as a result of vehicle activity entering or leaving school property, their departments may be liable for pedestrian injuries.

Negligent Drivers or Cyclists

Vehicle operators are accountable for keeping their car, truck, bus, motorcycle or bicycle in control at all times, and for heeding traffic signs and signals. Nevertheless, drivers speed in school zones, divert their attention to personal electronics and allow themselves to become distracted by passengers or other stimuli.

A spilled coffee, a glance backward at a crying toddler, or an answered text can have tragic results, especially when large numbers of children are in a negligent driver’s path. Drivers late for work, too tired to safely operate a vehicle, or driving while under the influence are among the hundreds of vehicles passing through your neighborhood school zone each weekday.

Lack of Enforcement

Who holds local government administrators accountable when traffic planning, poor signals, and hazards on public and private property hinder pedestrian safety?

If laws aren’t enforced, they’re ineffective. Public safety presence by city police officers, county deputies, and California Highway Patrol officers heighten awareness in school zones and, through strict enforcement, announce a no-tolerance policy for unsafe driving.

On-campus traffic duty is a serious responsibility requiring more training and authority than is typically given to faculty traffic monitors, and most crossing guards are volunteers lacking the physical skill and mindset to convey authority. College and university campuses employ safety officers to protect their adult students. Our young children deserve the same consideration.

Your Child Deserves Accountability

Whether your child was injured while walking to school or heading to the bus stop, their injuries might impact the rest of their life. Your insurance alone probably won’t cover the long-term costs of the most common serious injuries associated with pedestrian versus vehicle accidents.

If your child is hurt, take them to the hospital right away. Next, call us at (714) 434-1424 for a free consultation. Aitken * Aitken * Cohn is experienced in handling pedestrian injury cases in Orange County, Riverside County, and the Inland Empire. Your job is to help your child recover; let us identify those liable for her injuries and stand up to protect her future.

Have You Been in a Car Accident Without Insurance?

California Car Accident Lawyer
With expenses increasing and income decreasing, it may be tempting to cut costs by eliminating auto insurance coverage. You may think that if you have a valid license and a car, you are all ready to hit the road: Not so fast. The purpose of car insurance is to protect people from financial hardship after an accident. All states have financial responsibility laws, requiring some form of financial responsibility or liability in the event of an accident. Most states require a driver to have valid car insurance. If you have been in a car accident without having insurance, the penalties can be severe.

California Law

Anyone with a California driver’s license must comply with Vehicle Code section 16028. To satisfy the California financial responsibility laws, you must have auto liability insurance or post a substantial cash bond with the Department of Motor Vehicles. You must carry proof of your liability insurance, or an acceptable alternative proof, with you at all times when you are driving. You must produce proof if:

  • A police officer asks you for it
  • You have an accident
  • You register your car or renew your registration
  • Your car is inspected

Proof of auto insurance generally means a card or paper issued by your insurer. It will include the driver’s name, the policy number, information on the insurance company, and the dates of coverage. Most insurance premiums are paid either monthly, quarterly, or annually. The dates are important because if you miss a payment, your coverage may expire. Many insurance companies offer proof of insurance through a mobile app. California drivers can provide proof of insurance on their cell phone. If you do not have proof of liability insurance with you, you are breaking the law and are subject to penalties. Some judges may be lenient if you appear in court with a proof of insurance covering the date of the incident, but they are not required to be.

California’s Proposition 213 limits the amount of compensation that an uninsured driver can collect for damages caused by the negligent actions of an insured driver. Known as the no-pay no-play law, it means that an uninsured driver cannot sue the person at fault for “non-economic” losses. The uninsured driver can still recover for losses such as car repairs or medical bills, but not for non-economic losses such as physical or psychological pain and suffering. Even when it comes to economic losses, the no-pay no-play law requires the uninsured driver to deduct $10,000 before suing for property damage.

Amount and Type of Insurance Required

The purpose of liability insurance is to compensate those who suffer personal injuries or property damage in an accident caused by you. California law determines the minimum amount of insurance that car owners must carry. The legal minimum liability coverage is 15/30/5, which means:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person (another driver, passenger, pedestrian, etc.) in an accident you cause
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person in an accident you cause, and
  • $5,000 for damage to property in an accident you cause.

If you desire higher limits, the policy will be more expensive, but the protection will be greater. Higher limits can help protect your personal assets.

You may also choose additional coverage, such as comprehensive and collision insurance, for property damage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and Med Pay coverage for injuries or wrongful death.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

Because California law requires you to demonstrate financial responsibility, if you are caught driving without insurance, there may be a number of penalties. The penalties vary, depending on the circumstances. If your lack of insurance is discovered when you are receiving a ticket, through an online registration check at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or in an accident, these factors may affect your penalty. The cost of your insurance may also go up. If you have an accident and then buy a car insurance policy right after, the policy will only apply to accidents that happen after you buy it.

California Vehicle Code Section 16029 sets forth the statutory penalties for driving without insurance. Whether you are a resident or merely driving in California, drivers operating a vehicle without valid insurance or other acceptable proof of financial responsibility will be fined from $100 to $200 for a first offense and $200 and $500 for a second offense. Additional penalties and fees may make those fines much higher.

In addition to fines, your car may be towed and impounded. In that case, you will be unable to get it back until you have obtained insurance and paid all towing and storage fees. If you do not have insurance and are involved in an accident, whether or not you are at fault, your license may be suspended for a period of up to four years. In some cases, you can have your license reinstated after one year. To do this, you must obtain valid insurance, supply proof of that insurance to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and pay a reissuance fee.

You will also have to obtain an SR-22 insurance policy in addition to your regular policy. An SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility is actually not a type of insurance. It is a document that your insurance company has to provide to the government to prove that you are appropriately insured. This filing may be required for a few years after an incident.

You may be driving without insurance because of financial problems. Perhaps delinquent payments or a problem caused by changing insurance plans may have led to a lapse in coverage. Whatever the reason, driving without insurance puts you at risk. If you are involved in a car accident, and your car is not insured, whether or not you are at fault, you should contact an experienced attorney to review the facts of your case. For further information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at (866) 434-1424.

Next Steps to Take After Being Injured in a Motorcycle Accident: What You Need to Know

California Motorcycle Accident Attorney

With traffic congestion on the rise on Southern California’s freeways, this makes it inevitable that car accident rates will be on the rise as well. However, this increase in congestion and traffic collision rates in Southern California can be particularly devastating for motorcyclists, as the exposed nature of riding a motorcycle means that these accidents tend to cause more severe injuries. Unfortunately, increased congestion on the road can make it more difficult for cars to see motorcyclists who may be obscured by other vehicles. Additionally, since motorcyclists often split lanes during traffic, these facts combined means that motorcyclists are particularly likely to be involved in an accident on Southern California’s highways.

As a motorcyclist, you may be wondering what you should do if you are injured in a motorcycle accident, and how fault will be determined if you believe that the other party is responsible. To help you be better prepared in the event of an accident, here are a few of the steps you should take after being involved in a motorcycle accident in Southern California.

Call 911

After being involved in an accident, your first step will be to assess your injuries. If you can move, you will want to call 911 immediately to dispatch emergency medical attention; this will also bring a police officer to the scene who will take a report of the accident.

Get Off of The Road

If possible, you will also want to get out of the roadway and to a safe area—such as the emergency lane—to prevent further injury. If you don’t think that you can make it to the side of the road on your own, try to make yourself visible to other drivers and wait until help arrives. Once out of harm’s way, refrain from moving as much as possible until you reach the hospital, as riding a motorcycle leaves you susceptible to sustaining head injuries as well as internal injuries.

Gather Information

If you are able, you will also want to gather as much information about the accident, and the other driver, as possible. If your phone survived the crash, you can use this to document information such as the other driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance information, license number, as well as their license plate number. While waiting for help to arrive you can also document what you remember of the accident, and you can take pictures of the damage. If you cannot document this information yourself, you can ask the police to document it and supply you with a copy of their report.

Determine Fault

Once you have left the scene of the accident and are in stable condition, you will next need to begin the process of filing a personal injury claim. Unfortunately, even if it is clear to you that the other driver is at fault for the accident and should then be financially responsible for your injuries as well as for any damage sustained to your motorcycle, you will still have to prove fault to the authorities, your insurance company, and potentially a judge if the other driver does not admit fault. If you are wondering how liability is determined with California motorcycle accidents, here is a quick overview of what you need to know.

  • Police Reports Can be Vital: Police reports are often key in determining fault in automobile accidents. Since officers are experienced at analyzing the scene of an accident, insurance companies and courts often rely on their opinion when determining liability. They will look at the vehicles, the injuries, and interview the drivers. They will use this information to make an assessment of the situation. However, it is important to remember that police officers are human and can make mistakes. It is then important not to despair if an officer finds you at fault for the accident, as you may still be able to prove the other driver’s fault.
  • Eyewitness Accounts Are Also Important: Another essential tool in determining fault are statements made by third-party witnesses either to the police at the scene of the accident, or at a later time to a personal injury attorney. An eyewitness will be able to attest to right-of-way, and they will be able to comment on any erratic or unsafe driving exhibited by the other driver. This makes it critical that drivers stop if they see an accident take place, as they could be instrumental in proving fault to the accident. If any eyewitnesses stop at the scene of an accident you are involved in, make sure to get their information in case you need them to make a statement at a later time.
  • Remember That Lane Splitting is Legal in California: If you were lane splitting at the time of the accident, you may be worried that you are automatically at fault for the accident, or that the other driver will try to use this fact against you. However, what many California drivers are unaware of is that lane splitting is legal in California. Not only has lane splitting never technically been illegal in California, but Assembly Bill No. 51 signed in to law in 2016 went on to define lane splitting and make provisions so that the California Highway Patrol could put out safety standards for lane splitting, which essentially reaffirms the legality of the practice. This means that lane splitting will not automatically make you liable, and if you have eyewitness accounts to the fact that you were not driving recklessly at the time of the accident, then you may be able to prove the other driver’s fault.
  • Contact a Personal Injury Attorney: Ultimately, proving fault after being involved in a motorcycle accident, and reaching a settlement, can be a long and complex process. This makes it imperative that you consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after being injured in an accident in order to get this process started. An attorney can help you to determine your best course of action, and they can be instrumental in helping you to determine fault and liability.

Contact Aitken*Aitken*Cohn at 866-434-1424 to learn about how you could benefit from consulting a personal injury attorney after being injured in a motorcycle accident in Southern California. Our experienced attorneys serve Orange County as well as the greater Inland Empire, and we can help you to determine what your next steps should be as you recover from your motorcycle accident.

Motorcycle Riders Have Rights and Responsibilities

Motorcycle AccidentThere is no shortage of motorcycle enthusiasts in California. The state has the largest number of registered motorcycles (private and commercial) in the United States. Motorcycling is a popular leisure time activity, but motorcycling is also a risky form of transportation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) most recent data tells us:

  • Motorcycles account for 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States.
  • The fatality rate for motorcyclists is six times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants.

Motorcycles are far more dangerous than any other motorized vehicle, and their popularity is increasing. It is estimated there are between 4 million and 5 million street bikes on our roadways. Despite ongoing controversy about safety, the number of bikers in California has grown, and in the past decade accident deaths have doubled. Motorcycling takes more focus than driving a car, and it is physically draining. Because there is no protection for a motorcycle driver when there is a collision, the injuries are exponentially worse.

Despite the known dangers and the general public’s negative opinion about sharing the road with bikes, motorcycles have gained popularity, for both recreation and commuting; riders are getting older and more mainstream. California Department of Motor Vehicles ata reports:

“[T]here are over 884,000 registered motorcycles and more than 1.4 million licensed riders. Creating a safer highway environment is the shared responsibility of drivers and motorcyclists alike. This is achieved by staying alert and using common sense and courtesy while on the road.”

Motorcycle demographics show the average age of bikers is rising. In 1990, only ten percent of registered riders were older than 50. Recent statistics prepared by the Motorcycle Industry Council reveal that number is now almost 40 percent. Baby Boomers currently outnumber Millennials as cycle owners at a four to one ratio, and they represent a disproportionate number of motorcycle fatalities. According to AAA, From 2015 to 2016, motorcycle fatalities rose 5.1 percent, while deaths among older baby boomers increased more than 20 percent.

California has a broad range of legal statutes that protect the rights of motorcyclists. If you or a member of your family is injured in a motorcycle accident, expect the insurance carriers for the person responsible for the collision to attempt to minimize any potential payouts. You need someone to look out for your rights. You need the services of an aggressive law firm that understands the complexities of our ever-changing motorcycle laws. You need the services of Aitken * Aitken * Cohn.

Your Responsibilities as a Motorcyclist Are as Important as Your Rights

Motorcycle riders are personally responsible for their actions and safety, and legally required to obey California’s laws and restrictions. No matter how you choose to travel on our roadways, safety should always come first. Motorcyclists and drivers alike share responsibility for roadway safety. Motorcyclists are sometimes hard to see, and are obviously more vulnerable to collisions than other drivers. Stay alert, be courteous, and share the road responsibly. California’s motorcycle regulations mandate:

  • Both driver and passenger wear helmets that meet DOT standards
  • Daytime headlights are required for all vehicles manufactured after 1978
  • Liability insurance
  • Turn signals on the front and the rear of the bike, with the exception of vehicles built and registered before 1973
  • Compliant exhaust systems on 2013 or newer model bikes. Older motorcycles with aftermarket products that were purchased prior to January, 1 3013 are excluded.
  • Handlebars can be no more than 6 inches above a driver’s shoulders.

Evidence-Based Prevention Strategies for Motorcycle Risk Management

A motorcycle has less protection than a car. Without any impact-absorbing structure or restraints, there is a greater chance of serious injuries when a motorcycle is involved in an accident. Protect yourself before you enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of the open road:

  • Make sure the bike you use is appropriate for your level of expertise, is comfortable and easy to handle.
  • Inspect the bike before riding, check fluid levels and brakes.
  • Install anti-lock brakes.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Always assume drivers in cars can not see you.
  • Wear proper protective clothing (helmet, goggles, gloves and appropriate footwear).

The most important piece of protective equipment is the helmet. The outer shell distributes the force of the impact to protect the skull; the inner liner lessens the impact to the skull by absorbing a portion of the force.

Collisions happen regardless of age or experience. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) strongly encourages all motorcycle riders to take a California Motorcyclist Safety Program course. This program has graduated far more than a million students since its inception in 1987, and has courses for both the novice and the veteran rider.

Dangers on the Roadway

Most motorcycle accidents involve impact with another vehicle. Unfortunately, all too often injuries are severe and frequently fatal. Intersections and junctions are particularly hazardous. Motorcyclists who drive defensively are better able to avoid collisions.

Other intersection safety tips for motorcyclists:

  • Watch for vehicles coming from side streets.
  • Slow down if vision is blocked.
  • Avoid riding in another vehicle’s blind spot.
  • Avoid riding between vehicles at intersections
  • Be vigilant and pay attention to vehicles changing lanes.
  • Slow down during inclement weather.
  • Steer clear of potholes, debris, and uneven pavement

Turning in, leaning down, and powering out will unbalance a driver’s weight distribution, and is a dangerous move in a turn. A motorcycle has substantially less traction than a car, and driving on sand and gravel can lead to disaster. Avoid traveling on the shoulder of the road, and be especially vigilant around construction sites.

Lane Splitting and Lane Sharing

Lane splitting, or white-lining, is an issue that has plagued legislators for years. Effective January 1, 2017, California became the first state to legalize this practice. Sacramento lawmakers officially define lane-splitting as “driving a motorcycle, which has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane.” This is not a no-holds-barred issue. Recognized guidelines exist:

  • The motorcyclist should not exceed 10 miles per hour faster than the surrounding vehicles.
  • Motorcyclists should only engage in lane-splitting in low-speed areas.
  • Lane-splitting only in the two leftmost lanes is recommended.
  • Avoid lane splitting into sharp curves and freeway ramps.
  • Only one motorcyclist should attempt to lane split at a time.

Lane sharing allows two vehicles to drive side by side within the same lane of traffic. This is only legal on roads where at least two lanes of traffic move in the same direction. On those roads, lane sharing is allowed only when it involves:

  • Two motorcycles
  • One motorcycle and one passenger vehicle

Motorcycle Injuries

Motorcycle accidents are traumatic, and the resulting injuries are often devastating. Protect yourself: be proactive in your driving habits, and avoid the five most common motorcycle accident injuries:

  • Head and neck injury: The most common head injury is a concussion, which can lead to brain damage. Spinal injuries damage the fibers and pathways that carry communications from the brain. Damages in this area can lead to permanent disabling injuries like loss of sensation, bladder and bowel dysfunction, respiratory problems, and paraplegia. Any blow to the head should be closely monitored.
  • Road rash: Sliding across the pavement following a motorcycle accident causes painful road rash. This injury can lead to severe skin irritations, infections, and permanent nerve damage.
  • Muscle damage: Muscle damage, anywhere in your body, may become permanent after a motorcycle accident.
  • Biker’s arm: Biker’s Arm is a condition that occurs when a motorcyclist is thrown off the bike and lands on his or her arm(s). The impact may lead to permanent damage
  • Leg injury: Bike accidents can cause the bones in the leg, knees, and feet to fracture or shatter.

Preserving Evidence Is Important in a Motorcycle Crash

Every accident has its own special set of circumstances. Although each one is different, they do have a common thread. No matter the cause of the collision (poor weather conditions, mechanical defect, or the carelessness of another driver), the immediate steps are usually identical:

  • Ensure the safety of all persons involved. Contact law enforcement and request on-site medical assistance to address and assess acute injuries. Even if you do not have any visible signs of injury, do not assume that you are not hurt. Have a medical evaluation and obtain a copy of the medical record.
  • Make sure an official police report is started, and request a copy.
  • Document the scene in writing and in pictures. Journal everything immediately; your observations at the scene, or any admissions from the motorist (“I’m sorry,” or “I didn’t see you”). These statements are often admissible as exceptions to the hearsay rule. Photograph everything: your motorcycle before it is moved, the point of impact, your helmet, the driver and passengers of the car, as well as any paint that transferred from one vehicle to the other.
  • Save, and preserve, your helmet.
  • Check the area for any visible surveillance cameras and note the locations.
  • Witness statements are advantageous. Don’t rely solely on a police report to get names and contact numbers. Make sure you get the names and contact information of all witnesses. Note, in detail, what they saw.

Liability and Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases

A motorcyclist who drives responsibly and obeys state laws has the same legal rights as drivers of automobiles. They have an absolute right to seek compensation for medical expenses, personal property damage, lost wages, and/or loss of earning ability following an accident caused by another individual or entity. Based on individual circumstances, it is often possible to recover monetary awards. As in all personal liability litigation proceedings, time is critical. The statute of limitations is two years to initiate a claim. The exception to this rule is when a government agency is culpable; in this case, a notice of intent must be filed within 180 days.

Motorcycle crashes cause extensive injuries, and the financial damages can be substantial. Victims may be compensated for:

  • Medical bills
  • Hospital charges
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages
  • Damage to the motorcycle or other property
  • Burial and funeral expenses (in wrongful death cases)
  • Loss of love and/or financial support (in wrongful death cases)

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to determine how long it takes to resolve a personal injury claim. The determining factors are different for each case. A thorough investigation is needed to properly assess medical treatment notes, diagnostic imaging results, accident reports, witness statements, and photographic images of the scene to determine maximum recovery parameters. Every aspect of an insurance claim and legal settlement process needs to be meticulously analyzed. This is what the litigators at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn do best: we take the time to do it right, and to do it to your satisfaction.

Call Aitken * Aitken * Cohn If You Suffered a Motorcycle Accident

You don’t have to face the aftermath of a motorcycle accident alone. Roadway safety is an important issue to the legal team at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn. We are tenacious, focused, and committed to each of our clients. Among numerous other awards and recognition’s, we are proud to have our firm included on the Best Lawyers in America list for 30 consecutive years. Our success speaks for itself: we are ready to help you and your family seek justice.

We welcome the opportunity to review your case to determine if you have grounds for a claim, and the amount of compensation you may be entitled to. Contact us at (714) 434-1424 or write to us using our contact form to arrange for a no-cost consultation with one of our skilled motorcycle accident attorneys.

First Class Legal Representation by California Truck Accident Attorneys

California Truck AccidentOrange County is a wonderful travel destination and a beautiful place to call home. Tourists and locals love the beaches, wilderness parks, and historic sites. Each day, commuters and trucks make the trip to L.A. and back again. A recent traffic study reported up to 377,000 commuters traveling I-405 each day. It’s no wonder, then, that our roadways are so congested; accordingly, truck accidents occur frequently despite local efforts to upgrade roadways, decrease traffic, and promote safety.

When a tractor-trailer rig crashes into a private passenger vehicle, the results are unfortunately predictable. Tractor trailers cause extensive damage and devastating injuries. Truck accident victims can undergo years of medical treatment and rehabilitation. Even still, they’re often left with chronic pain, disfiguring scars, or disabilities that diminish their quality of life.

Size is a primary factor in truck accident outcomes. The most recent National Highway Safety Traffic Administration data shows large truck involvement in 4,213 fatal accidents nationwide, and 322 fatal crashes in California. Eighty percent of those trucks weighed over 26,000 pounds; a truck’s size becomes dangerous when combined with speed and driver error.

At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, we’ve developed our truck accident knowledge through over 40 years of first-hand experience. Our legal team has a strong working knowledge of California and Federal truck laws, and we are widely respected consultants on liability statutes, accident causation, and catastrophic injury litigation. We have statewide resources to investigate, analyze, and prepare our clients’ cases. This gives us an edge in managing the complexities inherent to truck accident cases. Our legal experience and dedication have brought us numerous professional awards, “Best Law Firm” rankings, and overwhelmingly positive peer reviews.

Our Accident Case Results

Our firm is dedicated to first-class legal representation, compassion for our injured clients, and exceptional results. We understand that each truck accident involves a unique set of circumstances. Although we can’t guarantee a specific outcome for any particular case, we are nonetheless dedicated to pursuing every client’s case aggressively. Throughout the process, we take the legal path that’s best for our clients. If we can negotiate a fair settlement, we avoid the courtroom. If the responsible parties fail to cooperate, we prepare the case for trial and seek the best verdict possible. Here are a few examples of previous settlements and verdicts we’ve achieved:

  • $5,750,000 settlement: A truck driver towing a large piece of equipment made a left turn in our client’s path. Our client sustained serious physical and emotional injuries. We avoided a trial by settling after presenting a clear liability case.
  • $55,000,000 judgment: A government employee driving a Department of the Army vehicle ran a red light, striking a Chevrolet Suburban. The impact seriously injured the mother, who was driving the Suburban, and paralyzed her 9-year-old daughter. Our firm won an unprecedented $55 million dollar judgment against the US Government after a five-year legal struggle.
  • $19,422,000 settlement: A commercial driver for the Roe Corporation ran head-on into an oncoming vehicle, killing a local physician. Our firm settled a wrongful death case on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
  • $4,127,000 settlement: A driver under the influence of amphetamines caused an accident when the brakes failed on his overloaded dump truck. The crash killed an Anaheim Hills Optometrist; our firm settled the wrongful death claim.
  • $3,100,000 settlement: A truck struck a retired 72-year old grandfather while he was crossing the street.
  • $3,000,000 settlement: A dump truck lost momentum while exiting a job site excavation pit. The truck rolled backward, killing a young geologist working at the site.

What Are Common Truck Accident Injuries?

When a 26,000-pound truck crashes into a significantly smaller vehicle, the impact often causes death. When victims survive, however, they often struggle with disabling and life-threatening injuries. Treatment that begins in an emergency room may continue for months or years into the future. Victims cope with multiple traumas, each with the potential for a temporary or permanent disability. Common complications include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Quadriplegia and partial paralysis
  • Back and neck trauma
  • Widespread burns
  • Dislocated and herniated discs
  • Hematoma and brain trauma
  • Skull fractures and facial trauma
  • Traumatic amputations
  • Internal injuries
  • Multiple fractures: compound, comminuted, and stable
  • Multiple lacerations and contusions
  • Body-wide soft tissue injuries

Who Can Be at Fault for a Truck Accident?

Truck accident cases are complicated, and often difficult to resolve because of the long list of potentially liable parties. When you see a truck traveling Orange County roadways, the driver is one of many entities responsible for placing that vehicle on the road. When Aitken * Aitken * Cohn investigates a truck accident, we evaluate the potential for liability on behalf of both obvious and not-so-obvious individuals and companies. Many entities’ relationship to the truck may make them just as responsible as the negligent driver.

  • Truck driver: A truck driver’s responsibility for an accident is based on failures, errors, or actions the driver should have taken but didn’t. A driver may cause a crash by speeding, distracted driving, operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or other negligent actions. Drivers fall asleep at the wheel despite industry driving time restrictions and tracking via paper logs or Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).
  • Driver’s employer: If a driver is operating a truck as an employee, the employer is often responsible for the driver’s negligent actions on the road. Motor carriers are also bound by a duty to monitor and track a driver’s time on the road and their duty status. Most trucks in the United States are now compelled by congressional mandate to install ELDs to perform tracking and monitoring tasks.
  • Truck owner: Often, a truck is owned by one company and leased to another company or an independent operator. The owner may be liable if a vehicle they leased was defective or had other maintenance or safety issues that contributed to a truck accident.
  • Trailer owner: A tractor owner often connects to a trailer owned or leased by another entity. The trailer owner may be responsible for trailer defects or safety problems if they contributed to an accident.
  • Product shipper: Improper loading is a common cause of truck accidents and rollovers. If a driver hooks a rig up to a pre-loaded trailer, the shipper bears some responsibility for a load-related crash. Drivers and motor carriers must follow the North American Cargo Securement Standard. If a separate entity is responsible for loading the trailer and failed to comply, they may be negligent as well.
  • Maintenance contractor: When a contractor maintains and repairs a commercial truck fleet, they may be liable for repair and maintenance-related accidents. This may include faulty braking systems, failed steering mechanisms, or other improperly maintained vehicle systems that contributed to an accident.
  • Truck manufacturers: Some trucks leave the manufacturer with latent defects. When such defects aren’t easily detectable, they may cause an accident while the truck is in service.

Orange County Trucking Laws

Truck drivers traveling California roadways have a duty to follow the laws designed to protect their fellow motorists. Before they qualify for a commercial driver’s license, a trucker must know and understand the state and federal laws that govern their actions. The laws are complex and subject to revision, but that’s not a valid excuse when a truck driver fails to follow the law.

Our attorneys have a comprehensive knowledge of state and national trucking laws. We understand how they may affect your truck accident injury claim, and how to proceed accordingly. Our knowledge allows us to provide the most effective representation. We understand that when a trucker disregards these and other statutes, it’s often a red flag that points to liability.

  • Right lane rule: In California, commercial trucks must travel in the far right traffic lane. They may drive in the adjacent lane when traveling on a divided four-lane highway. Failure to maintain a legal lane position is a common cause of truck accidents.
  • Speeding: Excessive speed and speeds unsafe for road conditions are common truck accident causes. California law designates that certain vehicles adhere to a 55-mile per hour speed: trucks with three axles, vehicles towing another vehicle or transporting explosives, school buses, farm labor vehicles with passengers, or trailer buses are all included. State laws also prohibit truckers from creating safety hazards by driving too fast or too slow.
  • Former traffic offenses: NHSTA Large Truck statistics show that fatal truck accidents often involve drivers with a prior accident history. California laws recognize the potential for problems when truck drivers have prior convictions. Citations for excess speed, reckless driving, and other offenses may disqualify a driver from operating a commercial vehicle in the state.

What Damages Can a Victim Recover When a Truck Accident Injury Occurs?

An injured person may make a claim for damages under two broad categories: economic damages and general damages.

Economic damages are typically out-of-pocket costs. These may include those items paid by an injured person’s health care provider or auto medical payments coverage insurer:

  • Lost wages due to temporary or long-term disability
  • Medical treatment for accident-related injuries
  • Prescription medications
  • Physical therapy when prescribed by a physician
  • Medical transportation costs to and from medical treatment facilities
  • Costs to replace household services an injured person can no longer perform: lawn mowing, dish washing, child care, etc.

When an insurer pays injury-related medical expenses, the policy may include a subrogation provision. This gives the insurer a legal right to make a claim against a responsible party for medical expenses paid to or on behalf of an insured. An injured insured has a responsibility to protect the insurer’s subrogation rights.

General damages recognize how injuries affect a person’s daily life. They are an emotional and psychological component of an injury claim, and often a source of negotiation stalemates. General damages aren’t easy to evaluate, as there are no means to measure them objectively. Our firm prepares to evaluate our client’s general damages when we begin working a case. We talk to our clients regularly to discuss the emotional and physical effects of pain, distress, and other injury-related issues. We document changes in marital and family relationships, employment restrictions, and personal life challenges. When we present a client’s general damages, our research enables us to insist on consideration for these and other factors:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish
  • Altered spousal relationship
  • Inability to care for children
  • Inability to keep social commitments
  • Loss of reproduction capability
  • Disabled bodily and organ functions
  • Scars and disfigurement
  • Permanent disabilities

What Ways Do Liable Parties Try to Get out of Paying for Their Negligence?

When a truck accident causes catastrophic injuries, our clients expect the driver or the insurance company to acknowledge fault and pay the damages they owe under the law. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t work out that way. As our legal team interacts with the drivers, owners, lessors, shippers, and others in the chain of responsibility, we encounter numerous parties trying to avoid legal liability through various means.

A driver may refuse to accept responsibility when doing so may put their job or license in jeopardy. A trucking company or other commercial entity may wish to avoid accepting blame for a claim that may trigger a liability insurance coverage cancellation or a premium hike. The insurance adjuster handling your claim may have limited experience and authority. When defense attorneys become involved, they often formalize liability defense positions handed down by others:

  • No negligence: A defendant driver, owner, shipper, or any other involved party may defend themselves by asserting they committed no negligent acts.
  • Comparative negligence: The driver and others may claim that the injured person was partially at fault for the accident.
  • No defect: Even when a defect is apparent, a brake failure, for example, the formal defense position may assert there was no defect or malfunction.
  • Contractual transfer of liability: When the entities involved have contracts with hold harmless and/or indemnification agreements, they may rely on another defendant to assume their liability and pay damages on their behalf.
  • Damage dispute: Some defendants may acknowledge liability, but dispute the injury’s severity. They use this style of defense hoping to minimize the damages.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost Me?

Our associates believe that justice is a universal right. If you were hurt in a truck accident in Orange County, we invite you to take advantage of our free consultation. After our initial assessment, we determine if we can help you, and if we have the available staff and resources to give your case the personal attention it deserves. Our firm handles our client’s cases on a contingency basis: We charge a fee only if we successfully settle a case or achieve a verdict.

We Protect Our Clients’ Rights

If you’re injured in a truck accident in Orange County, contact Aitken Aitken Cohn immediately to learn how to protect your rights. Call us at (714) 434-1424 to arrange a free consultation, or complete our online contact form.

Aitken * Aitken * Cohn

Santa Ana

3 MacArthur Pl #800
Santa Ana, CA 92707

Local: (714) 434-1424
Fax: (714) 434-3600

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7121 Magnolia Ave. Suite A
Riverside, CA 92504

Local: (951) 534-4006
Fax: (714) 434-3600

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San Clemente

300 S. El Camino Real, Suite 208
San Clemente, CA 92672

Local: (951) 534-4006
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