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CALIFORNIA LITIGATION UPDATE

Death in mental health facility may bring wrongful death suit

As incidents of severe depression increase in California and around the country, treatment for the mentally ill is experiencing increased awareness in the medical community and the general public. A young man was recently admitted to a facility in the Los Angeles area. What occurred there could result in a wrongful death lawsuit.

A young man had been adrift and wandering around Los Angeles. He was observed experiencing a mental breakdown and was taken to a facility in South Los Angeles, where he was admitted. Less than a week later, he was found dead in his room. He appeared to have been strangled.

How can your employer protect your safety at work?

When you leave for work each day in California, you are accepting certain risks that are an inherent part of the job you have agreed to do. These risks may range in severity and in how prevalent they are depending on the industry you work in, how committed your employer is to safety and how current your employer is with the implementation of safety protocols. 

You uphold a significant portion of responsibility to protect yourself by abiding by the rules that have been created for your safety and that of your coworkers. Examples of some of the requirements you may be asked to follow include the wearing of appropriate safety gear, responsible operation of equipment, maintenance of applicable licensures, commitment to completing training and an understanding of how to report or address safety concerns. 

Liability insurance may help when accidents happen

There are many different types of liability insurance in California. Some common types include a homeowner’s insurance policy, auto insurance for drivers and general liability insurance for businesses. Anyone may become liable for an accident at any time, making liability insurance a good investment when policyholders can count on this to pick up the slack.

Still, property owners often express surprise when they find that they are responsible for an accident. NerdWallet shares some of the most unexpected times when a person may need to make a claim on their liability insurance in the event of an accident.

Understanding the value of maintaining your commercial property

Owning and operating a company in California can be hard work, especially if you have the desire to make your business one that is frequented by loyal customers who appreciate your organization's products and services. An interesting aspect of keeping your business well-maintained includes keeping the premises manicured in order to prevent unnecessary hazards from harming your customers. At Callahan and Blaine, we understand the risks and challenges of operating a business and are here to help. 

Depending on the location of the commercial property your business is housed in, you may face a number of unique circumstances that could potentially make your property dangerous. Examples include overgrown trees whose low-hanging branches can threaten passersby, uneven concrete, potholes, slippery surfaces, poorly lit parking areas and debris-filled walkways. Keeping your premises free of hazards requires you to be regularly informed about the condition of your property and to actively manage a schedule for regular maintenance and as-needed repairs. 

Assessing how additional training may reduce motorcycle accidents

Riding a motorcycle is a welcomed thrill and enjoyment for many people in California. It is also an activity that comes with a significant risk especially if riders do not take adequate caution in protecting their safety and well-being. Motorcyclists who prioritize their safety and are well-versed in the operation of their bike may be much less likely to be involved in a fatal collision resulting from their own actions. 

While motorcyclists can never control the behavior of other drivers, they can learn valuable awareness skills to help them recognize hazards before they turn into danger. They can learn to practice vigilance by staying aware of their surroundings and learning how to navigate road hazards with confidence and skill. However, mastering these types of maneuvers requires time, practice and review. 

Family claims that negligent care resulted in woman's death

When people entrust the care of their elderly family members to a care facility in California, they rely on professionals to provide committed and compassionate care. Many times, families spend considerable time researching their options and discussing which would be the best fit for their loved one's needs. Unfortunately, there are facilities that are careless in the way they handle and treat their patients which can put their patients at risk of injury or death. 

This is what one family in Oregon claims to have experienced after their 91-year-old family member died while in the care of a facility that neglected to provide timely medical treatment and effective monitoring after repeated falls from the patient. The subsequent lapse in proper care ultimately led to the woman's death only one month after she began her stay at the facility. The incident began when the woman suffered a fall in her home. After being placed in the care facility, it was assumed that she would be closely monitored. 

Motorcycle accident statistics indicate licensing issues

California roads often include a mix of motorcycles, trucks and passenger cars, but accidents may affect motorcyclists, drivers and passengers very differently. In many cases, motorcycle riders involved in accidents have improper licenses and/or driving records with traffic convictions. Ensuring motorcyclists receive adequate training and meet state licensing requirements may help reduce the risk of accidents.

According to crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, many motorcycle accidents involve riders without proper licenses or clean driving records. In 2017, nearly 30% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents did not have valid licenses. This percentage was far greater than the number of unlicensed passenger-vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes, which was only 13%. Additionally, motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents were more likely than car drivers to have previously committed traffic violations, such as speeding and driving while impaired. Fatal crash statistics also indicated that over 21% of motorcycle riders involved had suspensions or revocations included in their license histories.

Reviewing a property owner's duty of care

You might assume that whenever you enter onto another's property in Orange County, the owner of the property must see to your safety while there. The same assumption has been shared by many of those who have come to us here at Callahan & Blaine, yet they (like you may be) have been surprised to learn that is not always the case. Liability for injuries suffered on another's property depends largely on the circumstances of why you are there in the first place. 

Section 846 of California's Civil Code states that property owners owe no duty of care to keep the premises safe if your presence there is for recreational purposes. In the context of this statute, "recreational purposes" is determined to be "fishing, hunting, camping, water sports, hiking, spelunking, sport parachuting, riding, including animal riding, snowmobiling, and all other types of vehicular riding, rock collecting, sightseeing, picnicking, nature study, nature contacting, recreational gardening, gleaning, hang gliding,  winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic, natural, or scientific sites."

Traumatic brain injuries and rehabilitation therapy

It is not uncommon for individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes on California roads to sustain some sort of head injury. These injuries may include minor to severe whiplash or some form of traumatic brain injury. A concussion is a common mild form of TBI. A more serious example, such as a skull fracture, may require emergency surgery and a long recovery process. Severe TBI may cause issues including physical, emotional and cognitive challenges. Rehabilitation therapy may help victims recover their ability to function independently.

There are numerous potential causes of TBI, though car accidents are frequently to blame. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several symptoms that may indicate the presence of a TBI. Some of the physical signs include loss of consciousness, seizures, persistent headache, nausea and loss of coordination. TBI patients may also show mental symptoms, such as unusual behavior, ongoing confusion, combativeness or speech difficulties. A medical professional may develop immediate treatment and long-term recovery plans based on the severity of the injury and the patient's unique health circumstances.

Car accidents with bicyclists can be serious

Car accidents occur all the time in California, and when collisions occur with bikes, there can be serious injuries and even death. Bicyclists are not very protected, so motorists should drive extra carefully when they are in the vicinity. Either the cyclist or the driver may be negligent and the one at fault, but both should practice measures so everyone is safe on the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, no matter whose fault it is, a crash with a vehicle can be devastating to the cyclist, and more than 750 accidents a year involve the death of the cyclist. An accident can occur at any time, but fatal ones occur more frequently between the hours of 6 and 9 P.M. and in urban areas. Males are more commonly the victims of fatal crashes, and alcohol is a factor in 37% of cases.

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