July 23, 2014

Attorneys Help Personal Injury Victims

I am a trial lawyer. A personal injury lawyer in the San Fernando Valley, who is proud to represent victims of car crashes and dangerous conditions that cause falls, which injure or kill. But, I am perhaps proudest of the work I do as lawyer representing victims of medical malpractice. It is my work as a medical malpractice attorney that has brought me the most satisfaction and made the biggest difference in the lives of my clients.

Unfortunately, limits on the amount a victim of medical negligence can recover in California have made it increasingly difficult to help those injured by health care workers. A $250,000 cap on damages, which was passed in 1975, has never been adjusted for inflation.

packactnewlogo4.png We know who has been hurt by this decades old cap - victims of medical negligence and the families of people who die because of medical mistakes. The prestigious Journal of Patient Safety estimates that 440,000 people die each year because of preventable medical mishaps, a figure also cited by the Journal of the American Medical Association. That's a population the size of Atlanta - killed off each year by negligent health care providers. Only a very small fraction - estimated at less than 5% of medical malpractice victims or their families - receive any compensation for their injuries or loss.

Medical malpractice insurance companies, not doctors, have most benefitted from the limit on damages. As the value of the $250,000 cap has decreased over time, fewer claims of medical negligence are filed because they are too costly to litigate. The pay-out for non-economic damages is the same today as it was in 1975, while the insurance companies keep raising the premiums doctors pay. As a consequence, medical malpractice insurance companies earn 5 to 6 times the profit that California auto insurers enjoy. The cap is a cash cow for insurance companies.

Voters in California will have a chance to change the cap this fall when they vote "yes" on Proposition 46, the Pack Patient Safety Act initiative. We urge you to help us help more victims of medical malpractice by voting "yes" on November 4th.

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January 21, 2014

Cell Can Cause Car Crashes

As cell phones have become so common, especially in Los Angeles, where people spent so much time driving, the incidence of distracted driving collisions has gone up. Nobody wants to be injured in a car accident and no one wants to need a car accident lawyer. It is not unusual here in Encino to see people texting while driving. It is no surprise that reading a text requires drivers to take their eyes off the road which leads to a car accident. Writing a text is even more dangerous. It is just common sense that a person who is focusing on a cell phone is more likely to be involved in a crash.

Anyone with whom you discuss it will self-riotously declare the evils of texting while driving. It is common for California drivers to recognize that driving a car and reading small print on an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S4, or other device is bad. No one defends such a dangerous driving habit which surely will lead to injury. Yet, it is common to see people doing it.

Driving%20while%20texting.jpgThis is one area where there is a clear dichotomy between what people preach, and what people practice. Everyone says driving and using a cell phone is bad, but in the San Fernando Valley and across Los Angeles, it is very common to see. People text at red lights, on the freeway, and driving down Tarzana streets.

It may stem from the common belief, “it can never happen to me.” No one ever thinks they will be in car accident. While there is some concern that a driver will be hit, no one ever goes out thinking they could be negligent and cause a car crash.

Laws have been passed making texting while driving illegal, but the practice still exists. As long as it does, there will most certainly be more car accidents.

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February 17, 2010

Los Angeles Accident Lawyers Help Prevent Harm

This is part two in a two part series relating to social benefits from personal injury lawsuits.

Georgian Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died on February 12, 2010. He should not have.

Lawsuits remind people to take the care necessary to make sure they do not injure others.

luge-792805294.jpgThe designer of the luge course and the International Olympic Committee knew in advance how dangerous the course was and still sent relatively inexperienced luge riders down the track. They knew athletes were crashing more often, and at higher speeds than normally occur in the sport.

Such dangerous conditions occur because the speed and danger of the track make the event sell better. It makes the race more exciting. It also saves the money that should have been spend on having an engineer review the course to determine how high that safety wall should have been, and the expense of making the course safer, including a higher wall and padding and barricading the steal beams next to the track.

Huffington Post blogger Marian Salzman wrote: “With 82 countries participating in the Games this year, shouldn't the course have been designed to be safe for all of them? Where were the safety wardens?”

Personal injury lawyers are part of the safety wardens in Southern California. Any business knows that when they produce a defective product or a dangerous product, and sell it, personal injury lawyers will hold them accountable. Personal injury attorneys will make them pay for their negligence. So, manufacturers are more careful.

Even when you drive on the freeway, people watch how fast they are going. Why don’t people speed more? Because they do not want to get a ticket. The reason people do not want to get tickets is because it will make their insurance rates go up. Tickets make insurance rates go up because speeding causes auto accidents. It places other people in unnecessary danger.

When drivers hurt people, car accident attorneys hold the negligent driver accountable. These lawsuits give people a reason to be more careful when they drive. Drivers are forced to think about the safety of others not only to protect other people (which is the right thing to do), but also to prevent their insurance rates from going up.

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February 13, 2010

San Fernando Valley Personal Injury Lawyers Benefits Highlighted by Olympic Luge Tragedy

This is part one in a two part series relating to social benefits from personal injury lawsuits.

People in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California are hurt in auto accidents and through the negligent of others all the time.

Luge%20wake%20KUMARITASHVILI-GEORGIA-WAKE-PICTURES-PHOTOS.jpgEveryone hates lawyers. Juries tell us there are too many lawsuits. Governor Schwarzenegger is taking aim at lawyer with his supposed tort reform proposals.

The loss of Georgian Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili highlights why the work of Los Angeles personal injury lawyers is so important.

The Vancouver luge track, has been described as the fastest ever built prompting safety concerns before the death. Why wasn’t it fixed? Nodar was competing in a sport with inherent risks, therefore the luge track owners may assert “assumption of the risk” as a defense and escape liability for causing the death of Nodar. Imagine how this story might have ended if the track builder knew they would have to pay for the harm they caused.

The new track had a reputation for causing crashes in all but the most experienced sliders. Most alarming was the fact that race officials knew that lugers were traveling at record speeds and crashing. They knew that this was a dangerous corner, and even erected a slight extension to the wall at the fatal turn. However, they did not take the simple and inexpensive additional precautions of erecting a higher wall and most importantly, protecting riders from the exposed steel beams next to the track. Had their responsibility for their decisions not been shielded from lawsuits, things would have been different.

Part two of this series will discuss how this tragedy relates to Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers keeping people safe.

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February 1, 2010

Southern California Doctors' Medical Malpractice Causing Erb's Palsy

This is the third in a three-part series about birth injuries in Los Angeles County.

Macrosomia is a condition in which a fetus’ birth weight is much greater than is normal during pregnancy. Generally, macrosomia is defined as a birth weight greater than 4000 grams or 8 pounds, 13 ounces. It is a condition that affects one in ten pregnancies.

Some factors that contribute to macrosomia - genetics, ethnicity, and the size of the parents - cannot be controlled. Other factors that may predispose a fetus to unusual growth in utero can be identified and should be addressed by the obstetrician. If the mother has gestational diabetes, excessive weight gain or diabetes mellitus, her fetus is at risk to develop macrosomia, which is associated with birth trauma to the baby and mother. Women whose pregnancies go on longer than they should are also at risk to develop macrosomic babies.

Encino%20Delivery%20Med%20Mal.jpgThe larger the fetus, the greater likelihood that the baby and/or mother will suffer injuries during delivery. If there is ultrasound evidence that the baby is very large, the doctor needs to take this into consideration when discussing delivery options with the parents.

A woman with a history of having had several large babies without difficulty vaginally may be an appropriate candidate for a vaginal delivery. A petite woman pregnant with a first baby that appears on ultrasound to weigh nearly ten pounds, should be advised of the risks of vaginal delivery and advised to undergo a planned Cesarean section.

Continue reading "Southern California Doctors' Medical Malpractice Causing Erb's Palsy" »

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January 15, 2010

Southern California Cerebral Palsey Resulting from Medical Malpractice

This is part two in a series of three relating to birth injuries in Los Angeles County.

Cerebral palsy, or CP, is a term that is used to describe a group of chronic conditions that result from injury to the brain, usually occurring before, during or shortly after birth. It generally affects motor function - how the body moves. Children with cerebral palsy may have mild symptoms affecting coordination or may be completely unable to control motor function, making it impossible to sit or stand independently.

Med%20Mal%20Los%20Angeles%20Baby%20Foot%202.jpgCerebral palsy can occur when oxygen to the fetus is interrupted during labor or delivery. Monitoring of the baby during labor is done to detect changes in the baby's heart rate which may signal a problem. If the amount of oxygen the baby is getting is reduced or cut off during labor, the baby's heart rate will change and its ability to recover from the stress caused by contractions will diminish, signaling a potentially catastrophic injury if appropriate medical intervention is not taken in a timely fashion.

It is the job of the obstetrical nurse to monitor the fetus during labor and communicate any significant changes in the fetal heart rate and tone to the obstetrician in a timely fashion. It is the doctor's duty to respond promptly if conservative measures (changing the mother's position, administering oxygen to her, for example) do not improve the fetal heart rate.

If the nurse is unskilled or inattentive, she may not appreciate the fact that the baby is in distress, putting the baby at risk of injury. A doctor who does not respond to a nurse's concern in a timely fashion also puts the baby at risk. Over time, the lack of oxygen can cause the brain damage that results in cerebral palsy.

Continue reading "Southern California Cerebral Palsey Resulting from Medical Malpractice" »

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January 7, 2010

Los Angeles Labor and Delivery Errors May Cause Birth Injuries

This is the first in a series of three relating to birth injuries in Southern California

Every year, hundreds of babies in Los Angeles County are born into the world seriously handicapped because of medical negligence. Birth injuries are among the most devastating injuries that can occur when a doctor or nurse is careless or inattentive. If a mother's prenatal course is routine and there is no indication of any problems with the fetus she is carrying, the parents anxiously await their new arrival. They pick out names and dream about the future with their new little boy or girl.

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When things go awry during the labor or delivery and the baby is born with brain damage or is otherwise injured, everything the parents hoped for and planned is shattered. The baby may have to remain in the hospital long after the mother is discharged, so there are frequent trips back to the hospital. Preparing the home for the baby's discharge is no longer about the color of the nursery or the style of the crib. There may be equipment that must be obtained and medical techniques to be learned.

Caring for a special needs child is a full-time job for one of the parents. Sadly, the full impact of the injury to a birth-injured child often will not be evident until the child is several years old. A special needs infant is easy to carry; a four-year old who cannot sit or walk is much more difficult to transport. Even transferring such a child from his bed to a wheelchair can be challenging. It is often at this point that the parents realize what the future will hold for them and their child. It is also at this point when they are likely to ask why it happened. This is also the point at which the parents may consult a lawyer.

What are the most common causes of birth injury and how can they be prevented? We will look at these issues in the next installments of this series.

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October 10, 2009

Pedestrians Hit in California Crosswalks Must Be Compensated for Injuries

This is part four in a series of posts regarding why someone hurt in a car accident should make a claim with the insurance company.

I recently told the story of a friend that called me because her sister was hit by a car while crossing the street. The sister did not want to file a claim. My friend’s sister felt bad and did not want to impose on the person that hit her or the insurance company. Here is how I explained it:
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The minute you were hurt because the driver caused the pedestrian accident, you are entitled to money for what you have been through. It is like you are at a table with the insurance company on the other side, and we suddenly put $50,000 of your money in the middle of the table. It is your money. You are entitled to that money because it is fair compensation for the injuries you suffered. (Obviously, the amount of money will vary depending upon the extent of the injuries).

Now that your money is in the middle of the table, the insurance company says: “I think we are going to take your money. We know it is your money, but we are rich and powerful and if we take it, there is not much you can do. If you want to deal with it, you can hire an attorney, but we will make you and your attorney work hard to get your money back. If you hire the right personal injury attorney, you will get it back, but we have a large team of trial lawyers and we do not mind the fight.”

Somehow insurance companies have convinced our juries that people who seek compensation when they are injured are bad. The insurance companies have done such a good job of this, that people that are injured feel like they are doing something immoral by asking for the compensation they deserve. They have no problem paying huge premiums. They are frustrated when the insurance CEO’s take millions of dollars. But so often, people do not feel right about fighting to keep their own money.

If you are injured because someone else was negligent, please do not fall for the insurance companies line. People injured in Southern California automobile accidents are entitled to compensation, even if they have to hire an attorney to get it. It does not help you or anyone else to let the insurance company keep your money.

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September 12, 2009

Compensating Los Angeles Area Auto Accident Victims Is Part of the Purpose of Insurance

This is part 3 in a series of posts explaining benefits of lawsuits and insurance claims when people in Southern California are injured in an accident.


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People buy insurance for several reasons. Some buy insurance because the law says they have to. Some people buy insurance to protect themselves. If they are negligent and hurt someone in an a car crash (it can happen to anyone), they want to make sure it does not cost them a lot of money which can take away from their retirement, or their kid’s college education fund. Still other people buy insurance because they want to make sure that if they cause an auto accident and hurt someone, the person they injure is taken care of. They want to make sure that they have the means to take care of any injury they cause.

The minute you are hurt in a pedestrian accident, or in any car accident in Southern California, or from any negligence of another, under California law, you are entitled to fair compensation for your injuries. The reality of modern insurance companies, is that you will have to fight to get the compensation that is rightfully yours.


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June 5, 2009

San Fernando Valley Car Crash Victims Should Be Compensated for their Injuries

This is part 2 in a series relating to San Fernando Valley Car Crash Claims as a benefit to everyone

I was recently contacted by a friend asking for help. Her sister was crossing the street in Woodland Hills, in a crosswalk and was hit by a car which was coming from Encino. She suffered a significant injury, yet, she did not want to talk to a lawyer and did not want to seek compensation for her injuries. She felt bad for the person that hit her.
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I explained to my friend that her sister has been brainwashed by the insurance companies, and she has no reason to feel sorry for them. The person that hit her had insurance. California law requires that you have insurance if you drive. The person that hit her was negligent. Generally, when there is a car accident, where a car hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the driver is at fault. Therefore, the pedestrian is entitled to be compensated for her injuries. She is entitled to receive medical attention for her injuries. If it was my family member that was hurt, I would want them to get medical care. The driver (or her insurance company), is legally obligated to pay for that care.


The pedestrian is also entitled to be compensated for her pain and suffering. That phrase has almost become a bad word in our system of justice. It should not be. She was injured. It is painful. It is inconvenient. It forces huge negative changes on a person’s life. For example, I want to play with my son tomorrow morning. If I am injured in a collision such that either I cannot lift him in the air, or tickle him, or if I have to endure pain when I do it, that is not fair. If you came to me and said, “I will pay you $100 not to play with your son tomorrow, I would not take the money.” How much is fair compensation. At what point would I say, “Okay, I will take the money and not play for one day; or maybe two days, or maybe six months.”

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It seems only fair that a person should be compensated when they are harmed because someone else is negligent.

The other part of this equation is that in California, you will not be compensated for the cost of hiring an attorney to help you. Unfortunately, insurance companies are less than willing to provide the fair compensation that they are supposed to provide. That means that people that are injured require legal assistance. If they only receive the cost of their medical care, they are not truly compensated. Pain and suffering compensation, or non-economic damages as it is called, defrays the cost of the legal assistance.

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May 8, 2009

Los Angeles Lawsuits Help Keep People Safe: Compensating People Who are Hurt

This is part one in a series on why Los Angeles car accident victims should be compensated for their injuries.

There are a lot of lawsuits filed every year in Los Angeles County. Many of those cases stem from auto accidents. Yet when we talk to jurors, they all complain that there are too many frivolous lawsuits. If you ask for more detail, most cannot explain why they feel this way, they have simply been told by the media and the insurance companies that there are too many lawsuits.

Certainly not every automobile accident need result in a lawsuit, nor must every injury result in a lawsuit. Sometimes, people are injured simply because they are careless. Sometimes, people are injured because somebody else is careless. In Southern California and throughout the United States, our laws are designed to protect us from the negligence of others. Thus serves two purposes: (1) it compensates the injured; and (2) it encourages people to be safe and protect others.

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April 21, 2009

How Much Insurance Do You Need If You Are in a Car Accident in Los Angeles? Basic Liability Coverage

As car accident lawyers located in Woodland Hills, we review our client’s auto insurance policies all the time. By the time we do so, it is because someone has been in a car accident and has been injured. As personal injury lawyers handling auto accidents in the San Fernando Valley, we are here to make sure our clients are properly compensated for the injuries that were caused by the accident.

Tarzana_Auto_Accident_Keys.JPG Unfortunately, at that point, it is too late to talk about what insurance they should have had.

One of the first steps in helping our clients is looking at their auto insurance coverage. California law requires that all drivers have basic liability coverage of at least $15,000. It is a misdemeanor to drive without insurance. In addition, you are required to notify the DMV if you are in an accident and let them know who your insurance company is. We handle this process for our clients. Without question, this is the easy part, everyone should/must have at least the minimum required insurance coverage of $15,000.

That is not the end of the question. Liability coverage, that is coverage which will be paid out to someone you may injure if you cause an accident and serves two important functions.

Protect Yourself and Your Family: First, insurance protects you and your family. If you cause a collision, if you do not have adequate coverage, the person you hit may be able to take the money you have been saving for retirement, your child’s college education, a new home, or whatever is important to you.

Second: It protects the person you hit. That is a good thing. We should all take responsibility for our own actions. If we are careless and we hurt somebody, they should be compensated for what we have done. That is fair. That is also part of the purpose of insurance, to make sure someone we accidentally hurt is cared for, without destroying our own life. To hurt someone is to take something away from them. Not to compensate them for their injury; paying for the damage to their car, paying their medical bills, and paying for the imposition on their life (pain and suffering), is like stealing.

However, when you accidentally hurt someone, that does not mean your life should be destroyed either. That is part of the purpose of insurance. It enables us to properly compensate someone we hit, without taking away from our own life.

That brings us back to the question, “How much insurance should I have.” The answer to that question is going to depend on your income and your savings. If you have limited assets and limited income, you can likely only afford basic coverage. You can drive legally and provide some protection to someone you injure. If you have a lot of assets, you should probably have an umbrella insurance policy. To qualify for an umbrella policy, you will have to have a certain amount of auto insurance. Those people will probably need to have $250,000 in liability coverage.

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