Serious Injury Attorneys / Wrongful Death Lawyers
The term "wrongful death" means that a person's death was due to another party's negligence, and a claim for wrongful death can be filed against another individual, group or company. Wrongful death claims are commonly filed as a result of an accident but may also include criminal acts, work related negligence and professional negligence. In order to collect for damages, you must prove that the other party was, in fact, negligent and their negligence caused the death. In most cases, a wrongful death claim must be filed by a relative of the person who died and, in some States, you must first show the courts that you have the legal right to seek damages against the negligent party.
Filing a wrongful death claim is extremely difficult for families because, not only must they deal with their grief over the death, they must also deal with a very complicated legal situation. It is important to keep in mind that the death was caused due to another's negligence and the family has the right to be compensated for their loss.
A claim for wrongful death may include compensation for the following:
- Reimbursement for all medical expenses incurred as a result of the negligence.
- Reimbursement for the loss of any future income.
- Reimbursement for property damage, if applicable.
- Reimbursement for any future services normally provided to you by the person who has died.
- Reimbursement for loss of consortium, meaning a spouse's right to the companionship, help and affection from the person who has died.
- Reimbursement for any punitive damages if the negligence was found to be criminal.
Every State has a "statute of limitations" (the amount of time allotted to file a claim for negligence). You must protect your family's rights by making sure that the negligent party is held accountable for your loss and, although extremely hard, it is crucial that you preserve any supporting evidence and file your claim within the legal time limits.
Automobile Accident Cases
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of injury and death in the United States. Americans collectively drive almost 3 TRILLION miles per year and 3 million people were injured or killed on our roads last year alone. NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) compiles statistics regarding motor vehicle accidents and some of results are alarming.
For example, in 2001
- 3,000,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents.
- 41,300 died in motor vehicle accidents.
- 40% of the fatalities were alcohol related.
- 2,600 children under the age of 15 were killed in motor vehicle accidents.
- 7,500 young drivers (16-20) were involved in fatal crashes.
- 3,000 motorcyclists were killed.
- 4,700 pedestrians were killed.
- Improper use of seat belts accounted for 63% of the fatalities.
Considering the above, it is quite possible that you may be involved in a motor vehicle accident. Always assume that the other driver does not have adequate insurance and purchase a policy that includes "uninsured motorist: and "underinsured motorist" coverage. If you have been involved in an accident caused by another driver's negligence, you may be able to file a claim against them for property damage, personal damage (medical expenses, pain and suffering, future losses, etc), and, in some cases, punitive damages. However, you must support your claim by proving 3 things:
- Negligence - The driver failed to use due care.
- Causation - The negligence of the driver caused the accident.
- Damages - You suffered damages as a result of the accident.
Never proceed with a negligence claim without first obtaining legal advice. An attorney experienced in the practice of personal injury law knows the court system, can cut through insurance company red tape, and will make sure you are justly compensated for all current and future damages.
Always anticipate the possibility of becoming a motor vehicle accident "statistic" and make sure you protect yourself by following these procedures:
- Call the police immediately.
- Secure the accident scene. Put up flares, redirect traffic, etc.
- Record the other driver's name, address, phone number, license number, registration, and proof of insurance.
- Gather the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses who can be contacted by your attorney at a later date; and try to convince them to remain at the scene until the police arrive. Beg if you have to!
- Always carry a camera and take pictures of the vehicle, the scene, and so on.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible even if you "don't feel that bad". (Even the most serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, may not be immediately apparent.)
- Report the accident to your insurance company and, if required, to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Cooperate with your insurance company but do not volunteer any theories about the circumstances leading up to the accident.
- Never, never, never discuss the accident with the other driver's insurance company.
- Always consult with an attorney experienced in the practice of personal injury law before you attempt to recover your losses.
- Once you have hired your attorney, redirect anyone who contacts you for information about the accident to your attorney.
Remember…you need to focus on getting well…let your attorney focus on the best way to get you there!
Bicycle / Motorcycle Accidents
Over the past 10 years, bicycling has become extremely popular in the United States. It is a convenient and inexpensive method of travel, especially in large cities where traffic is congested and parking spaces are difficult to find. High tech materials and fabrication have now made bicycle riding virtually effortless and many families enjoy exploring the countryside on bicycles. Many cities now recognize the increase in bike traffic and have constructed special bike lanes. Parks have now made trails accessible to bicycles. Even some vehicle manufacturers are now offering bike racks as standard equipment. Sadly, however, many automobile drivers do not respect the bicyclists' rights to share the roads and, more importantly, young bike riders haven't been educated on how to legally and safely share the roads with automobiles.
Uneducated drivers and bicyclists have resulted in some staggering statistics.
Did you know that:
- A bicyclist is fatally injured every 6 hours
- Nearly one million children are injured each year in bicycle related accidents
- 49% of all bicycle fatalities occur to children under the age of 16
- Head injuries account for 75% of all serious injuries and deaths
- While collisions with automobiles only account for 1/3 of the accidents, they account for the majority of the catastrophic injuries.
Motor vehicle operators must be attentive to bicycle riders. They must equate a bicycle with a motor vehicle and observe the same laws. For example: if you are sharing the right lane with a bicyclist and you are planning to turn right at an intersection, you must yield to the bicyclist. You may not drive in a designated bike lane unless you have immediate intentions to turn off the road. There are many "new" traffic laws concerning bicycles and ignorance of the laws will not protect you against negligence if you injure a bicyclist.
Bicycle riders are also subject to the same traffic laws as motorists. If you are riding a bicycle, you are also required to obey the traffic laws.
You can make your bicycle journey more enjoyable and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries by following these "common sense" rules:
- Many states require that all young riders wear an approved helmet. Even if your state does not have a bicycle helmet law, young riders should consider a helmet as part of their gear and wear one whenever they ride.
- Parents have a duty to teach their children about traffic laws and road safety. A "young drivers” handbook is an ideal resource for information. Children should know the appropriate hand signals for making turns, etc. (Parents: remember to teach only hand signals - not hand gestures!)
- It is never advisable to ride a bicycle after dark but, if you must, make sure your bicycle is equipped with headlights, taillights, reflective tape and always wear clothing that can be easily seen.
- Make sure that clothing, backpacks, accessories, etc., cannot get tangled in the spokes or chain.
- Always ride with the flow of traffic (on the right side of the road) and not against the traffic. Motorists are trained to react to other "drivers" who are following the same rules and may not respond quickly enough to avoid an accident if your presence isn't anticipated.
- Always perform a pre-ride safety check before getting on your bicycle. Check the brakes, check the alignment of the frame, and, if you have "quick release" wheels, make sure you have your lock in place.
Trucking / Big Rig Accidents
Handling cases of Serious Injuries and Wrongful Death caused by Auto Accidents, Trucking Accidents, Big Rig Accidents, Defective Products, Road Hazards, Defective Road Design and acts of Corporate Negligence.
EACH YEAR THOUSANDS of motorists and big rig drivers are killed and maimed by the negligent operation of big rigs by their drivers and by trucking companies. Semi-truck drivers and the companies they work for have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. Unsafe driving, oversized loads and various other treacherous practices put the public and the truck operators in danger.
To protect your legal rights following severe injury or wrongful death resulting from a trucking accident, big rig crash or auto accident, it is wise to immediately consult an experienced personal injury law firm. Within the first week, important physical evidence can be lost, and witnesses may forget important details.
The Law Offices of Scott Brickell has extensive experience handling claims involving trucking accidents. We offer Free Initial Consultations with no obligation for you to hire our firm.
Over 110,000 pedestrians are injured every year in the United States and almost 60,000 pedestrians are killed. People of all ages are affected by these staggering statistics, but school age children and the elderly are most vulnerable. In fact, 41% of pedestrian fatalities nationwide occur between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon.
Motor vehicle operators have a responsibility to adhere to the laws of the road and drive in a safe and observant manner at all times. Pedestrians are injured and killed every day due to a driver's negligence.
A few of the most common factors contributing to driver negligence are:
- An inattentive or pre-occupied driver.
- A driver's failure to observe posted speed limits.
- A driver's failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians at marked cross walks.
- A driver negligently turning at an intersection.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Pedestrians who are hit by motor vehicles may have a claim against the driver but they must prove that the driver was negligent and his negligence caused the accident. The very nature of the circumstances (3,000 pound car versus unprotected pedestrian) suggests that the driver would ultimately be responsible, however pedestrians must also adhere to the laws of the road.
A few of the most common factors contributing to pedestrian negligence are:
- Pedestrians who ignore the "walk" signal at an intersection.
- Pedestrians who enter a stream of traffic and disrupt the flow.
- Pedestrians who fail to use marked cross walks.
- Pedestrians who "dart" in front of a vehicle.
- Impaired pedestrians.
Be aware that the driver's insurance company lawyers will try to blame YOU for the accident by claiming that your negligence caused the accident. If you have involved in a pedestrian accident, you must do the following:
- Call police immediately.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident before help arrives.
- Gather names and phone numbers of any witnesses to be contacted by your attorney at a later date.
- DO NOT make any statements to the driver or his insurance company.
- Most importantly, do not offer any information such as, I was in a hurry, I was distracted, etc., that could be interpreted as your negligence.
- Call a qualified and experienced pedestrian accident attorney or personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Underinsured And Uninsured Motorists
If you operate a vehicle on any public road within the state of California, you are required by law to provide proof of insurance.
The minimum insurance coverage required in California is listed below:
- $15,000 for injury or death of 1 person per accident
- $30,000 for injury or death of 2 or more persons per accident
- $5,000 for property damage per accident
Persons operating a vehicle in this state who are unlicensed or have an invalid California or out-of-state driver's license are subject to the same financial responsibility laws as valid California licensed drivers.
Government statistics estimate that over 13% of drivers are driving without a valid license. In addition, countless licensed drivers purchase insurance in order to register their vehicle but cancel afterward. This means that it is quite possible that you may be involved in a motor vehicle accident and have no way of recovering damages against the negligent driver; and even if the negligent driver does have insurance, he may not have enough insurance to cover your damages.
"Uninsured motorist" means that the person responsible for your injuries is operating a vehicle without any insurance coverage whatsoever. If you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage, you will be able to collect from your insurance company to recoup your damages (both property and personal).
"Underinsured motorist" means that the person responsible for your injuries has opted to purchase only the minimum policy required by law. If you have purchased underinsured motorist coverage, you will be able to collect from your insurance company to recoup your damages (both property and personal) that exceed the responsible party's limits.
It is imperative that you purchase an insurance policy that includes "underinsured motorist" and "uninsured motorist". This additional coverage will protect you against a negligent driver's financial irresponsibility because it will place the responsibility on YOUR insurance company to compensate you for your losses.
Slip and Fall (Premises Liability) Cases
The Law Offices of Scott Brickell boasts a proven record in its handling of premises liability cases. Those who have suffered injuries due to dangerous conditions, neglect, or lack of adequate premises maintenance while on the property of another individual have been extremely pleased with our past performance in this area of law. We have handled dozens of cases where responsibility has ultimately been placed where it belongs--on the negligent property owner--and our clients have been fairly compensated as a result of our efforts. In the past year, the Law Offices of Scott Brickell received settlements in amounts exceeding $ 1,500,000.
Dog Bite Cases/Dog Bite Injuries
Many Americans have dogs as pets. Dogs are friendly and make good companions to many Californians, but any dog can hurt someone when they get scared or try to protect their owner, puppies, or food. Your dog may be gentle and welcoming 99% of the time, but the possibility of him or her biting another person is always there.
Over 330,000 people are treated in emergency rooms each year across the country after being attacked by a dog.
In California, the dog owner is the liable party in dog bite lawsuits. It does not matter if the owner did not know the dog would attack another person. The owner must pay for all of the medical bills and property damage imposed on the victim. In order to ensure a strong case, try to do the following four things as soon as possible after being attacked:
- Identify the dog and its owner and get the address and phone number of the owner.
- If another person witnessed the attack, get that person's contact information.
- Photograph the wounds and bloody clothes.
- Return to the scene of the attack and talk to nearby residents and businesses.
- Victims of dog bites often suffer more than just the physical harm caused by the dog. Emotional damage is also a factor when dogs attack, and the compensation you get should reflect this. The right attorney can help you get the money you deserve on top of any medical bills or time off work.
Liability falls of the owner of the dog due to these three kinds of law:
- Dog-bite statute - the dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.
- One-bite rule - the dog owner is responsible for an injury caused by a dog if the owner knew the dog was likely to cause that injury.
- Negligence - the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was careless in controlling the dog.
There are exceptions to the owner's liability. For instance, the owner is not liable for injuries imposed on those people trespassing, committing a felony, provoking the dog, or injured by a police dog at the time of the incident. In any case, you case must be presented to prove the identity of the dog's owner and that the dog did in fact bite you without provocation. The right lawyer can prove the pain and suffering you endured as well as the emotional harm inflicted on you due to the attack.
The Law Offices of Scott Brickell is dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals whose personal, natural rights guaranteed and protected by law are violated.
Both federal and California law protect you against violation of your civil rights.
Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, age and disability are prohibited under both state and federal law.
In addition, federal law prohibits the interference with your rights by public officials, and both individuals and public entities may be held liable if they have deliberately caused your rights to be violated.
The Law Offices of Scott Brickell has a solid record of successful litigation against municipalities and police officers who have violated people's rights by using excessive force, falsely arresting them or maliciously prosecuting them.
Successfully pursuing a police misconduct case can be extremely difficult, both because of the difficulties of proof and because of the public's perception of the police. It is difficult for most people to believe that a police officer would break the law.
Although most police officers are honest, dedicated public servants, some do abuse their authority and thereby injure people physically and psychologically. Pursuing claims against rogue cops is critical, not only to compensate victims but also to insure public confidence that such conduct will not be tolerated.
Nursing Home Abuse
In the United States today, there are over thirty four million people above the age of 65. According to statistics, many will need some form of assisted living, whether it is a nursing home, assisted living facility or other elderly facility. Due to the fact that long-term care for the elderly is typically extremely expensive (well over $5,000 per month in many jurisdictions), the vast majority of residents go through most, if not all, of their assets in a matter of months and then become eligible for federal Medicaid benefits. Indeed, the cost of over 90% of nursing home residents is paid by Medicaid. As such, almost all nursing home facilities receive Medicaid funds.
Approximately one million senior citizens are abused in some manner every year in the United States. Nursing home residents have patient rights and certain protections under the law. The nursing home must list and give all new residents a copy of these rights. Resident rights include but are not limited to:
- Respect: You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
- Services and Fees: You must be informed in writing about services and fees before you enter the nursing home.
- Money: You have the right to manage your own money or to choose someone else you trust to do this for you.
- Privacy: You have the right to privacy, and to keep and use your personal belongings and property as long as it doesn't interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others.
- Medical Care: You have the right to be informed about your medical condition, medications, and to see you own doctor.
You also have the right to refuse medications and treatments.
Whether a caregiver fails to meet the needs of the senior (neglect) or actually physically or mentally abuses a resident, nursing home abuse is not uncommon in today's society, and we must do our best to prevent it. Recently, there has been increased recognition that elderly and dependent adults are subject to risks of abuse, neglect and abandonment. The abuse can be recurrent neglect or a single egregious event which produces injury, either physical or financial. There are several common types of injuries that are suffered as a result of recurrent neglect, including:
- Falls and fractures
- Physical or chemical restraints
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Improper, wrong or over-medication
- Bed sores
- Lack of supervision (allowing residents to wander away from the facility)
- Physical abuse or unexplained injury
- Weight gain or loss
- Septic shock
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Theft of money and personal property
- Unexpected or wrongful death
- Unsanitary conditions
- Untrained or insufficient staff
- Substandard medical care
- Poor personal hygiene
- Defective equipment
- Sexual assault
The Federal statute, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act or "OBRA", 42 USCA 1396 et seq. and 1395 et seq., and its interpretive guidelines, spells out how nursing homes are ultimately responsible for the health, medical care and well-being of their residents. A federal bureau known as the Health Care Financing Administration oversees compliance with these regulations. HCFA enforces guidelines for the evaluation, care and treatment of residents, aimed at maximizing the quality of each resident's daily life and minimizing abuse and neglect. If substantial compliance is shown, certification of the home is continued and the home can continue to receive government funds such as Medicare/Medicaid. If not, the home may lose its ability to receive these benefits. Care is expected to improve as nursing homes take steps to prevent injuries and avoid litigation, which is increasing.
Before proceeding with litigation, a review of the medical records is critical. All available family members, friends and witnesses should be interviewed to determine if there is any additional information regarding the elder's treatment or documents which will assist in evaluation. This should include inquiries regarding complaints and/or third party investigations by governmental authorities. Because most victims in nursing home cases are long past the stage of earning wages and often have short life spans, analysis of these cases is different. Important factors which may impact the amount of damages that may be recovered include the egregiousness of the nursing home's conduct, whether a pattern of neglect can be shown, and whether injuries from the nursing home's negligence can be distinguished from the resident's existing disease process.
The Law Offices of Scott Brickell is committed to upholding the quality of care in our long-term care institutions by taking swift legal action to compensate nursing home residents and their families for injuries resulting from neglect or inadequate care. Only this way will the quality of care for all residents be assured.
Construction Site Injury Lawyers
Construction site employees work in one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. Hundreds of thousands of workers are injured and even killed in construction site accidents each year. With the large amount of construction going on in California today, here are some important things to know about construction injuries:
- It is the responsibility of the construction companies to thoroughly inspect each site with safety engineers and provide safety programs for employees. When these measures are not implemented or fail to protect construction workers, the owners, architects, insurance companies, and equipment manufacturers can be legally responsible.
- Third party negligence means the manufacturers of the various equipment and products used on the site can be found liable. It is also possible that subcontractors and even the general contractor may be contractually responsible for damages.
- Worker's compensation provides those workers injured on the job, or suffering from a disease while in the course of employment, benefits that include payments based on the employee's wages and total or partial disability. Unfortunately, this alone may not be enough compensation.
Around 40% of all construction site fatalities involve electrocution. Other accidents and injuries that can take place at a construction site include:
- Construction Site Falls. One-third of the nearly 1000 construction workers who will be killed on the job this year are caused by falls. The worksite might be unstable. Fall protection equipment might be misused. Many of the deaths and injuries from falls can be prevented when the proper precautions are made.
- Crane Accidents. Many serious and fatal injuries involving cranes occur each year when the crane touches a power line, when workers assemble and dismantle the crane, and various failures of the crane's construction.
- Scaffolding Accidents. Most are attributed to negligent construction and maintenance of the scaffolding. 10,000 of the 500,000 injuries that occur annually on construction sites are associated with work on scaffolds.
- Compressed Gases Hazards. Mechanical as well as chemical dangers accompany the wide use of compressed gases in construction projects. Failure to follow safe handling procedures injures thousands of workers each year.
- Dangerous and Defective Machines. Serious injuries result from moving machine parts when safeguards meant to protect workers are not implemented. Such preventable injuries can occur when using mechanical power presses, nail guns, and other dangerous machines.
- Mechanical Hazards. The point of operation, power transmission apparatus and other moving parts of machines pose hazards on construction sites. These basic components of almost all machines need to be recognized as such, and safety measures must be taken to protect those on the site.
- Logging Accidents. Possibly the most dangerous occupation in the country, logging can cause serious accidents. Massive weights and irresistible momentum of falling, rolling and sliding trees and logs are involved in daily operations, and when these hazards are combined with dangerous environmental conditions such as uneven terrain, wind or extreme cold, logging poses significant risks on employees.
- Welding, Cutting and Brazing Accidents. These hazardous activities pose safety and health risks that require employers to determine all exposures to hazards in the workplace and determine what protective equipment should be used.
Dangerous Product Injury Lawyers
Dangerous or defective products cases are complex and time-consuming. The insurance companies rely on experienced and aggressive attorneys who work overtime to defeat a product liability claims. Insurance companies have almost limitless financial resources and expert claim adjusters to protect their interests. You need a highly experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to win your product liability claim.
There are many types of dangerous or defective products that can cause serious injury. Some examples include:
- Machinery and equipment at the workplace
- Electrical equipment
- Seat belts and airbags
- Elevators and escalators
It may be difficult to tell if your injuries were caused by defective or dangerous products. Many victims are unaware of the true source of their injuries. Only an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you. Having tried dozens of products liability cases, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott Brickell have the knowledge, skilled investigators and researches within reach to place the real cause of your injuries.
In California, a product, by law, may be deemed defective if:
- The product was manufactured outside of the designated specifications.
- The product has a design defect.
Who is liable? California law states that anyone in the chain of commerce that manufactures or sells a new product can be held accountable for compensatory damages to those injured by their product's defect. If the manufacturer knows of the defect in the product that can reasonably cause harm to someone, that manufacturer may be held liable for punitive damages as well.
Defective or dangerous products cases can be very complex and difficult to prove. First, you must prove the product was defective. Second, you must prove the defect caused the injury. Third, you used the defective product in a manner that was both reasonable and foreseeable. California products liability lawsuits involve multifaceted issues including technology and accident reconstruction, and only an experienced trial attorney can provide the necessary tools to win your case.