Articles Posted in Miscellaneous Personal Injury

On December 14, 2017, a teenage girl, who was molested by her Los Altos High School teacher over three years ago, finally got some closure. U.S. News reported that a California jury awarded her “nearly $3 million in damages” in her personal injury lawsuit. The teen filed a personal injury suit because, as a result of the molestation, she now suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress. U.S. News stated that the suit named as defendants both her teacher, David Park, who had served time in prison for the criminal charges, as well as the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, located just east of Los Angeles. The school district commented that “the verdict mostly blames Park but serves as a reminder that it must be vigilant in protecting students.” While certainly nothing can take away what this young girl experienced, she now can move forward with both closure and some form of compensation.

In this case, the young girl brought this personal injury claim not only against her abuser, Mr. Park, but also the school district. Legally, both can be held liable for the harm that befell the young girl. While Mr. Park’s fault is obvious, the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District can also be named as a defendant in the case because they not only have responsibility over the teacher who is an employee of the district, but the District also has a responsibility to protect their students from harm. There is also an economic benefit for naming the school district—they have more money to provide compensation for the student’s injuries.

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If you’ve been in an Orange County car accident, you’re aware of the shock and fright brought on by such an event. Car accidents can shake you up physically and mentally. Immediately after an accident, you’re likely thinking of how badly you’ve been injured, whether the people in the car with you are okay, and the damage to your car. Yet, in the days to come, there are several reports you should file. Here’s a handy list for you to keep track of the reports to make:

  • File a Police Report Within 24 Hours of the Crash: You will need to file a police report even if no one involved in your accident was injured. According to the California Vehicle Code, Section 20008, any driver of any vehicle who has been in a car accident must report the accident to either the California Highway Patrol, or the local police department where the crash took place. This report has to be filed within 24 hours of your accident. Generally, the police officer arriving at the scene will write this report. You should tell the officer your version of what happened and whether you are injured. Try to get a copy of the police report to take home with you, because your insurance company will likely require a copy.
  • File a Report with the California DMV: If any of the following events happened because of your accident, you are required to report the crash to the California DMV:

California State Health Inspectors from the Department of Public Health in 2015 found two leading California hospitals in violation of numerous safety requirements that appeared to put their patients in “immediate jeopardy”.  The violations were found at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on March 4, 2015 and also at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center just 21 days later.   The state of California launched these investigations right after the notorious “superbug” outbreak reported last year that centered around hard to clean medical scopes that reportedly resulted in serious illnesses and some incidences of wrongful death in California.

At the UCLA Medical Center the state of California reportedly declared “Immediate Jeopardy” which meant that lives were at imminent risk after finding contaminated water and a tinted liquid cleaner dispenser that was used to prepare colonoscopes and other medical devices for patients.

At the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center the state of California again issued its very rare “Immediate Jeopardy” ruling when it reportedly found “a widespread pattern of potential ineffective sterilization and storage of surgical instruments” as well as disinfection of medical scopes.

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On Wednesday, May 4, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed various new bills which became law, including one that will raise the smoking age in California from 18 to 21 years of age, another that will restrict the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and another that will expand the no-smoking areas in public schools.

At the same time, Governor Brown vetoed a bill that would have allowed individual counties to seek its voters’ approval of new local tobacco taxes to pay for health care expenses associated with tobacco related illnesses.  Brown’s explanation was there are too many taxes already being proposed on the 2016 ballot so he did not want any more taxes.

The bill limiting smoking to those 21 years of age and older is being referred to as “Tobacco 21”.  It, with the other new tobacco related bills, is being called the “most expansive” effort to control tobacco use in California in more than ten (10) years.  These bills were not surprisingly supported by a coalition of health related groups, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the California Medical Association.

Health officials are investigating at least 22 E. coli illnesses allegedly caused by health or food problems at Chipotle Grill in Washington and Oregon.  As a result, Chipotle Grill has reportedly closed 43 restaurants in the affected areas pending this investigation.

It was further reported that about one-third of the E. coli victims were hospitalized, and fortunately no deaths have been reported.  Symptoms may include feeling very ill with vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria, is the most common in food-borne outbreaks, and it is believed that many people affected with Shiga toxin E. coli may not seek health care.   As a result the number of people made ill by this E. coli outbreak is likely more than already identified,   Health Department officials have requested that any persons who have eaten at a Chipotle between October 14, 2015 and October 23, 2015, who became ill, including with vomiting and bloody diarrhea, should immediately see their health-care provider and inform their health care provider about this outbreak.

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A high school accident in Anaheim has resulted in injuries to 25 students. The students were injured at Servite High School, during a performance. According to the Los Angeles Times, the injuries occurred when part of the stage the students were performing on gave way and collapsed.

It appears that the students who were injured were students of Rosary High School, a Catholic school in Fullerton, California. They were doing a performance at Servite High School, in Anaheim, California, when they were injured.

Fortunately, none of the injuries are life threatening, but some of the students did suffer serious injuries, including broken bones and other fall injuries. These injuries are often very painful and often require surgery and may require many months or years of physical therapy, chiropractic or other forms of medical treatment.

There are many different legal issues involved with accidents in a school. First, it must be determined if there is any government entity involved. If so, a government claim is required, which involves different time limits from a normal California personal injury case. Second, there are different rules for cases involving minors. Some of these students may have been under 18 and others could already be 18. Next, liability, meaning fault for the accident, must be established.

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In 1975, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (“MICRA”) was set into law in California. This law unfairly limits the amount of money that a victim of medical malpractice can receive for his or her pain and suffering to only $250,000. This amount has not gone up with inflation in 38 years and is the limit regardless of how severe the injury and malpractice. For example, if a doctor were to negligently remove the wrong leg of a patient, the pain and suffering of the crippled patient is limited to the same $250,000.

For the protection of California’s citizens, this law obviously needs to be changed. We urge our readers to vote in the poll on the website for the Los Angeles Business Journal, by clicking here. The poll is on the bottom right of the page, and we urge a “yes” vote, that the limit on California medical malpractice is unfair and far too low. As of the time of publishing this blog post, 92% of the votes in the poll favor raising the unfair limit on pain and suffering damages.

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Did you know that retired professional athletes with non-California teams are receiving California Workers’ Compensation payments?

Former pro athletes who previously played for non-California teams are eligible for and receiving money under California’s workers’ compensation insurance program. According to the Los Angeles Times, former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, who played just nine times in California in his 88 game career, received $199,000 from a California workers’ compensation court. He was paid this workers’ compensation money for the lifelong cumulative effects of his NFL injuries, including injuries to his head, arms, legs and general body, per records of workers’ compensation.

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A Los Angeles work accident has resulted in the deaths of the pilot and two passengers of a helicopter, in Polsa Rosa Ranch, California. According to the Los Angeles Times, the helicopter accident occurred during a production of a reality television show for the Discovery Channel. The pilot of the helicopter, David Gibbs, from Valencia, had apparently been involved in other incidents in which he was reprimanded by the FAA.

Many safety issues have come up regarding this particular helicopter crash. First, it has been questioned whether Mr. Gibbs, given his safety record, should have been hired to work on this project. Also, it must be answered why the helicopter was flying at night, in a hilly area with poor visibility. The Los Angeles helicopter accident resulted in the deaths of a crew member and a cast member of the reality based television show that has not yet been named.

According to the L.A. Times, there is currently debate in Hollywood as to the safety of filming certain reality tv shows. It is alleged that deaths and work injuries have occurred due to an attempt to show dramatic footage and cut costs involved in the production of the shows.

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The California Supreme Court has sided with Great America Amusement Park in an important bumper car accident case.

In a decision limiting liability of amusement parks for amusement park accidents to patrons, the California Supreme Court ruled on December 31, 2012, that the Great American Amusement Park is not liable for amusement park injuries suffered to a rider of a bumper car resulting from the inherent nature of the attraction.

The California Supreme Court previously held in a case relating to sports (touch football) injuries: “In cases involving ‘primary assumption of risk’–where, by virtue of the nature of the activity and the parties’ relationship to the activity, the defendant owes no legal duty to protect the plaintiff from the particular risk of harm that caused the injury–the doctrine continues to operate as a complete bar to the plaintiff’s recovery.” Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal. 4th 296. The court now has extended this doctrine to recreational activities, limiting liability for injuries resulting from amusement park rides.

In a suit brought by Smriti Nalwa, due to her fracturing her wrist while trying to brace herself by putting her hand on the car’s dashboard in a head on bumper car collision, the California Supreme Court ruled 6 to 1 that her accident injury was caused by the collision with another bumper car, a normal part of the ride. According to the Los Angeles Times (AA1, January 1, 2013), the court stated, “A small degree of risk inevitably accompanies the thrill of speeding through loops, defying gravity or, in bumper cars, engaging in the mock violence of low-speed collisions. Those who voluntarily join in these activities also voluntarily take on their minor inherent risks.”

In analyzing the legal doctrine of assumption of the risk and recreational activities that inherently involve some risks, the court stated that riders assume some risks when voluntarily riding on bumper cars, specifically stating “[T]he primary assumption of risk doctrine is not limited to activities classified as sports, but applies as well to other recreational activities ‘involving an inherent risk of injury to voluntary participants . . . where the risk cannot be eliminated without altering the fundamental nature of the activity.’ (Beninati v. Black Rock City, LLC, supra, 175 Cal.App.4th at p. 658.)”

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