Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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.

The San Fernando Valley’s elderly population is in serious danger. Of the 419 nursing homes in Los Angeles, only 17 facilities were in full compliance with federal safety standards. Many nursing homes violate standards that create a real risk of injury or death to their patients. Seventy-six percent did not provide adequate staffing for the dependent adults in their care. This has resulted in medication errors, life-threatening bed sores, and failure to timely treat medical conditions at an early stage, put the 34,000 resident of Los Angeles’ nursing homes at an unacceptable risk.

Recognizing that the elder population is particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect, California “elder abuse” law provides an effective means for holding nursing homes liable for the injuries they cause. When regulators don’t have the resources to enforce laws designed to protect elders, elder abuse lawyers sometimes get involved. Unfortunately, that usually does not happen until a family member is injured or dies.

Elder%20Abuse%20Los%20Angeles.jpgIf you are in a position where you may have to place a loved one in a nursing home for care, there are some things you can do. First, do your homework. There are a number of resources on the internet about nursing homes in Los Angeles County. One is the “Long Term Care County Data Book,” which you will find at http://www.caads.org/ltcdata/ltc_data.html. Visit several nursing homes and interview the staff. Ask for references. Talking to the family members of other residents will let you know how satisfied, or not, they are with the care at the facility. Finally, contact DHHS to find out whether the nursing home is in compliance with State and federal laws and whether they are aware of any serious complaints about the facility. San%20Fernando%20Valley%20Elder%20Abuse.jpg

The death toll in the Los Angeles Metrolink commuter train crash has risen to 24 with scores hospitalized. Negligence on the part of the Metrolink engineer, who failed to stop the train at a red signal, is the likely cause of the crash in the San Fernando Valley on September 12, 2008. The engineer responsible for the collision died in the accident, but it is clear that the freight train that crashed into the Metrolink train had the right-of-way. The number of dead is expected to rise as rescue personnel continue to sift through the wreakage. It is unlikely that any more victims will be taken out of the wreck alive.

As rescue efforts are completed, the process of carefully investigating the cause and blame for the September 12, 2008, Chatsworth Metrolink crash begin. To ensure that its clients and future clients are protected, Rice & Bloomfield has already joined in the investigation effort. Every member of the investigation team has their own agenda. We do not work for the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, or Metrolink. Our only interest is to protect the rights of those people whose lives were forever changed when they were injured or lost a loved one from this horrible crash. Chatsworth_crash_investigation.gif
Getting involved early puts us in the best possible position to make sure our clients are properly compensated as the culprit responsible for this Metrolink train crash is determined.

The Chatsworth crash between a Metrolink commuter train and freight train, which has killed at least eighteen and injured more than 130, is not the first deadly accident to occur since Metrolink began operating in 1992. In 2005, eleven people died when two Metrolink trains and a freight train collided in Glendale. That accident was triggered when Juan Manuel Alvarez parked his Jeep Cherokee on the tracks in what he said was a suicide attempt. He has since been convicted of murder. Los_Angeles_Train_Crash.jpg

Metrolink was faulted for its configuration of the commuter trains, some of which are pushed from the back in a “pusher configuration,” leaving passengers in the first car vulnerable in any collision. Lawyers and experts argued that, if the heavier engine was in front, fewer passengers would be at risk. As a result, Metrolink roped off the first car in some of its trains. Today, passengers are permitted in the first car of a “pusher configuration” car, but only in the rear portion.

While it is unclear whether the Metrolink train involved in the Chatsworth crash was a “pusher configuration” type train, it is clear that seating in the rear of Metrolink commuter trains is safer than sitting in front

September 12, 2008, in Chatsworth, in the San Fernando Valley, eighteen people were killed and scores injured because a Metrolink train failed to yield the right-of-way to a freight train in Chatsworth. The commuter train, which had become more popular with the recent rise in gas prices, was traveling from Union Station in Los Angeles to Moorpark with more than 220 people onboard. At this time, it appears that the crash occurred because the either the Metrolink train violated established protocols or a signal malfunctioned. The investigation is continuing.

Chatsworth_train_crash.jpg

Here in Los Angeles, Tort reform is the term that has been adopted by groups that reject the notion of personal responsibility. They feel that people should not be held accountable for their actions. If they hurt someone else, they do not think they should have to pay for their negligence. I find this notion offensive. We make it our job to fight these people. In Los Angeles courtrooms, we have to deal with the impact these groups have on our jurors.

The McDonald’s Coffee Case was the landmark action that fired up these groups. However, that case is mostly an urban legend. It was not a runaway jury, it was a case of a greedy company putting its customers at unreasonable risk. In that case, the injured person was not driving a car, but was a passanger, the coffee did not spill because the car was moving but spilled because the victim was taking the lid off the cup, and a vascular surgeon determined that she suffered full thickness third degree burns over 6 percent of her body requiring 8 days of hospitalization with skin grafting surgery.

Woodland%20Hills_McDonalds.jpgShe sought to settle her case for $20,000 and McDonald’s refused. During the case, her attorneys obtained McDonald’s documents showing that more than 700 people had previously suffered similar significant injuries but McDonald’s continued to serve its coffee unreasonably hot because they were able to make more money but getting more coffee out of each bean. The jury awarded her $200,000 in compensatory damages which was reduced to $160,000 because they found the victim 20% at fault. She was also awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages which is the profit of 2 days of McDonald’s coffee sales. That was reduced to $480,000. Clink on this link for more details about the truth of this case.

Lining a baby’s crib with a bumper pad has long been a popular trend in Southern California. A recent study shows that that risk of death or accidental injury to a baby or toddler associated with a bumper pad outweighs their benefit. Ultimately, you should speak with your local Los Angeles peditrician to decide whether to use a bumper pad.

crib_Los_Angeles_injury.jpg

Many people use these pads to protect babies from injury. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision date found that many infants lack the motor development to free themselves when they become wedged between the bumper pad and the surface. Babies are likely to suffocate because they are re-breathing expired air or their nose and mouth are compressed.

Both soft and firm bumper pads are dangerous. Researchers of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome indicate that a soft pad can cause suffocation while a hard pad can provide a means for babies to climb and fall out of the crib.

An elderly patient dies from a bed sore after a brief stay in an understaffed Los Angeles nursing home that has not provided the care she was promised. When the family complains about elder abuse, it takes months for the Dept. of Public Health to investigate.

A bill sponsored by Los Angeles Assemblyman Mike Feuer to ensure that most nursing home abuse and neglect investigations be completed within 40 days after a complaint is made passed the Legislature. It is awaiting signature by the Governor, whose office says he has not yet decided whether he will sign it.

801960_reading_with_grandmother_in_wheelchair.jpg

More than 110,000 Californians reside in nursing homes each year. This law is needed to protect those senior citizens from serious injury or death from neglect or abuse. “A timely investigation with timely results can make the difference literally between life and death sometimes,” Feuer said.

Personal injury lawyers are in the business of enforcing our civil laws when someone is needlessly hurt. Those laws require that we exercise “due care” in our dealings with one another. If I have a business that invites the public onto my property, I have a duty to ensure that the premises are reasonably safe so that my customers are not hurt.

A municipality – city, county or state – generally has the same responsibility, to take reasonable steps to make sure that its sidewalks, streets and highways do not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to those who are using them.

When a dangerous condition exists and is known to exist for a sufficient period of time that it could be corrected but is not, the property owner (or the person who occupies or controls the property) may be responsible if someone is injured.