Category: California Personal Injury

E-scooter Dangerous speed in the city

E-Scooter Companies Lobby to Modify New California Bill Before Senate Vote

In the wake of a recent study on e-scooter injuries conducted by the American Medical Association, California is taking action.

The study looked at the types of injuries sustained by e-scooter riders as presenting to emergency rooms in L.A. County. It also looked at the use or lack of helmets used by riders.

E-scooters such as those provided by companies like Lime and Bird made their way to Santa Monica, California in 2017. These scooters are popular. They are fun, easy to use, cost little to rent, and are a ready tool for micro-mobility. And their popularity is growing.

E-scooters are placed around a city or on college campuses and can be located and unlocked through an app on a smartphone. Once the rider pays the fee and agrees to the company’s user agreement, they are free to go.

The scooters can go up to 16 mph. The rider stands on the scooter which has handlebars approximately waist high. When the rider is through. The rider ends the use on the app and leaves the scooter at their destination to be located later either by another rider or by a company employee at the end of the day.

The study looked at injuries arising out of scooter use that were severe enough to trigger an emergency room visit over the course of one year. The study recorded 249 scooter injuries over that time. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of a fall (80.2%), collision with an object (11.0%), or being hit by a moving vehicle or object (8.8%). Of the 249 injuries, only 10 riders wore helmets.

The most common injuries were fractures (31.7%), head injuries (40.2%), and soft-tissue injuries (27.7%). Many of the fractures required surgery and hardware to secure the bones. Head injuries include serious head traumas. Several of the injured riders were under the age of 18.

Original California Bill

As a result of rising injuries, California legislators drafted AB 1286 in 2018. The bill as originally drafted was a two-prong attempt to protect the public. The first prong was a requirement that all e-scooter companies obtain permits from the cities or counties in which they operate. Along with the permit requirement, the bill required that e-scooter companies purchase general liability insurance which would provide no less than $1,000,000 of coverage per occurrence.

The second prong of the bill would have required e-scooter companies to change their user agreements. These companies currently have user agreements that contain liability waivers and cap damages at $100 In some instances. The bill, as originally drafted in 2019, contained language that would prohibit any language in the user agreement which would waive, release, or in any way limit a rider’s legal rights, remedies, or forum under the agreement. This prong of the legislation has come under heavy attack by the e-scooter industry.

E-Scooter Objections

E-scooter companies have depended on these waivers and damages caps to manage their exposure to liability. Because California generally upholds these waivers, it has been difficult for injured parties to sue these companies. Cases have been brought alleging product defects, but the waivers make negligence difficult to prove.

Forbidding these waivers, releases and caps, would open these e-scooter companies to a much greater risk of liability exposure. The industry as a whole made it clear to the California legislature that it felt the imposition of the removal of waivers and damages caps was an unfair burden upon them and would make it difficult if not impossible for them to operate their businesses. They argued further that waivers and damages caps are standard contractual clauses designed to protect companies from liability for accidents caused through no fault of their own. They requested that this section of the bill be removed.

 The California legislature, afraid that the e-scooter industry would pull out of California If the bill kept the restriction, has removed it from the final bill’s language.

In its version of August 25, 2020, the bill requires that e-scooter companies obtain permits, obtain sufficient liability coverage, and requires local jurisdictions to adopt operation, parking, and maintenance rules. The changes must be put in place by 2021. The bill has now been passed to the governor for signature.

Implications for Injured Parties

The original language restricting the rights of e-scooter companies to use waivers, releases and restrictions on damages would have made it much easier for injured parties to sue to get compensation for their injuries. The legislation as it stands now will continue to make it difficult for plaintiffs. This is troubling particularly in light of the seriousness of many of the injuries sustained by riders.

It is also not clear whether these contractual limitations will curtail a rider’s ability to collect compensation from insurance companies which cover e-scooters. If so, the legislation would seem to have been a pointless exercise.

These cases will likely continue to be difficult, but not impossible to litigate. Cases based on product defects and negligent maintenance continue to be brought against e-scooter companies. When these injuries occur, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney.

Seven Ways a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You After an Accident

If someone suffers an injury in an accident, they might have a legitimate claim to file a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation. However, getting money isn’t always easy and it’s not always swift. That’s where a personal injury lawyer can help to make a difference. Here are seven things a personal injury lawyer can do to help their client secure a meaningful financial award after an accident.

Help Injured Plaintiffs Understand Their Legal Rights and Options

Nothing an unexpected accident is easy or straightforward. That’s also true for the processes that are involved in recovering compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Procedures and rights vary from state to state.

For example, some states, like New York, have no-fault insurance laws, which require car accident victims to seek benefits from their own insurance provider first, regardless of who’s responsible for their injuries. Other states, like Texas, have at-fault insurance rules, which means whoever is at fault pays. 

Unless someone regularly handles injury claims or is fluent in the law, it’s fairly easy to get confused, overwhelmed, and stressed out during a pursuit of compensation.

That’s where an attorney can help. A personal injury lawyer knows the laws and procedures that will affect a plaintiff’s case. An attorney who specializes in personal injury law will be able to help guide an accident victim and help them through the processes that are involved in getting money. A lawyer can explain everything and make sure that the plaintiff understands what’s going on and what has to happen in order to get a financial recovery.

Make Sure The Accident is Subject to an Independent Investigation

Most personal injury cases involve an insurance company or two. Insurers will not want to pay more than they have to – or anything at all – after an accident. So, you can be certain that they’ll investigate to find any reason to deny a claim for benefits. This investigation will be thorough and likely aided by several experts. 

That’s a huge advantage for insurers, especially considering that the average person doesn’t have the same resources or connections. But, you know who does? A personal injury lawyer. An attorney can make sure that an accident is also subject to an investigation that’s independent of state agencies or insurance adjusters. This attorney-driven investigation can help to level the playing field.

Stop Insurance Companies From Taking Advantage of an Accident Victim

Insurance companies tend to have an upper hand and advantage when dealing directly with accident victims. These insurers handle thousands and thousands of claims every year. In fact, they designed the processes and know how to tip things in their favor. Insurers are also well-aware that the average person doesn’t have a comprehensive, in-depth understanding of the law, relevant procedures, or their legal rights. At the same time, accidents are quite stressful.

So, insurers will go to great lengths to take advantage of all of these things. A company might deny a claim altogether, hoping that a plaintiff gives up and walks away with nothing. Others might offer a quick settlement that’s attached to a clock, in an effort to scare them into accepting way less money than their case is really worth.

When a personal injury lawyer enters the picture, things change. Insurers aren’t able to rely on their old manipulative tricks and tactics. Instead, they’ll have to communicate and negotiate with someone who has extensive training and experience. 

Bring in Experts to Assist in the Valuation of a Claim

Again, insurance companies aren’t on an accident victim’s side. Their sole interest is in protecting their bottom line and increasing profits. That’s diametrically opposed to paying out cash to accident victims. So, insurers will put a lot of time and effort into assessing the value of a claim. You can be certain that they’ll do everything in their power to assess a value that’s as low as possible. 

So, the last thing an accident victim should do is allow insurance companies to unilaterally decide what their case is worth. This can be accomplished by hiring an attorney who has experience handling personal injury cases. Most lawyers work hard to establish professional relationships with experts in their local area, including:

  • Accident reconstructionists
  • Medical experts
  • Psychiatric experts
  • Property assessors and appraisers
  • Vocational experts
  • Engineering experts
  • Manufacturing experts, and more.

These professionals can review information and evidence related to a case and provide invaluable insight about:

  • Why an accident probably happened,
  • The victim’s injuries,
  • How those injuries will likely impact the victim’s life, today and in the future, and
  • What the victim’s damages are likely worth.

Attorneys can rely on expert testimony and input to support claims for compensation. This approach can help to ensure that all damages are calculated properly, increasing the odds of securing a fair settlement or award.

Negotiate a Fair Settlement Offer

Insurance companies would much rather negotiate a settlement with an accident victim than opposing counsel. When a plaintiff is represented by a lawyer, insurance companies have a much more challenging road ahead. They won’t be able to extend a lowball offer and hope the technique works. Instead, they’ll have to come up with a legitimate offer that will be given serious consideration.

That’s because personal injury lawyers are skilled in the art of negotiation. They know what steps must be taken to obtain a fair and meaningful settlement offer from an insurance company or at-fault party. A personal injury lawyer can ultimately be the difference between a meaningful recovery and little-to-no money, at all.

Litigate a Claim in Court, If Necessary

Most personal injury cases end with a private settlement between two parties.  However, there’s always a chance that the two sides won’t agree on a deal and a case might have to go to a judge and/or jury. That’s probably the last thing an insurance company wants, especially if the claimant is represented by an attorney. Insurance companies don’t fare particularly well in court. Juries are often reluctant to side with insurers when an accident victim is hurting and their lawyer makes a strong case. 

A personal injury lawyer knows that there’s always a chance that a case will go to trial. So, personal injury lawyers spend time honing skills and learning the rules that might apply, should they have to go to court. A skilled trial attorney knows how to explain complicated legal theories to a lay audience, paint a picture for the jurors, and get them on their injured client’s side.

Provide Emotional Support and Assistance

At the end of the day, personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims can be really stressful. That’s on top of the stress that accompanies the injuries and trauma of an unexpected accident. A personal injury lawyer can offer invaluable support and guidance at one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. A lawyer can handle every aspect of a legal case, giving the client the time they need to focus on themselves without distraction. Many times, that opportunity can make a world of difference – in the client’s financial, mental, physical recoveries.

Legal Resources

If Airbags Did Not Deploy in a Car Accident, Is the Car Company Liable?

Airbags are designed to keep drivers and passengers protected. Vehicles are heavily marketed for their safety features, which includes having effective airbags.

Crash test results are boasted about by manufacturers who use successful results to attract buyers because they are deemed the “safest” car on the market. However, sadly, not all airbags are safe and there can be catastrophic injuries or even death if one fails to deploy during an accident. 

If you were in an accident and your airbag did not deploy, you may have a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle. You could also have a case against the manufacturer of the airbag or any company that inspected the vehicle for safety.

According to Michele Mirman, a car accident lawyer in New York City, “These companies have a duty to the consumer to make a safe product. If they violate that responsibility, they can be held accountable.”

How Do Airbags Deploy?

Cars and other automobiles are built with a number of safety measures, including airbags. Airbags can be both on the driver’s side and the passenger’s side. The purpose of an airbag is to reduce the physical effects of an automobile accident. More specifically, they are designed to reduce head injuries by cushioning the neck and head during the forward movement of a collision.

Airbags are most commonly located behind the steering wheel or the passenger side dashboard. They can also be located on the sides of the vehicle. Airbags rely on two things: timing and a small explosive charge. The airbag begins to inflate the second the vehicle begins to slow down as the result of a collision.

Each airbag has an accelerometer attached to it that detects the deacceleration of speed. If it is faster than a normal breaking pattern, the accelerometer will activate the airbag circuit.

The airbag circuit passes through a heated electrical current that ignites a slow chemical explosive. This explosion creates a harmless gas that fills the airbag when it deploys. The airbag begins to deflate the second it makes contact with the driver’s or passenger’s head. If functioning correctly, the airbag should be completely deflated by the time the automobile comes to a total stop.

What Causes Airbags to Not Deploy?

Speed or Type of Crash

Airbags do not deploy in every collision. One main reason they may not is the nature of the crash. The majority of airbags are most effective in moderate to severe crashes involving the front of the vehicle. Airbags generally deploy if the speed is at least 8 to 14 mph.

If the crash is minor or at a low speed, it may not trigger the circuit that deploys the airbag. Also, since most airbags are located at the front of the car, they may not deploy if the collision is to the back or side of the vehicle.    

Design or Manufacturing Defect

Defects in the manufacturing or design of the airbag may also be at fault. Types of defects include airbag sensor defects and defective electrical components. These defects are usually to blame when the airbag deploys early, late, or unexpectedly when there is no collision.

If the defect is great enough, the airbag could even explode. Additionally, there could be a defect in the design of the airbag itself which led to an injury because it did not deploy correctly.

Installation Errors

Finally, there may have been an issue with installation or safety check that caused the airbag to not deploy. A common example of this is car manufacturers cutting costs in the installation by making the location of the airbag ineffective because wires were routed through areas that were vulnerable to being severed or damaged.

It is also possible that a negligent safety check was performed that could have found the defect. However, the defect went unnoticed because the check was not done correctly or to the company standard.  

Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?

You may have a personal injury case if you have an injury that was caused by an airbag malfunction. Usually, these injuries are caused by the airbag not deploying or deploying at an incorrect time.

Examples of these types of injuries include neck whiplash, face lacerations, hearing damage, broken bones, soft tissue damage, brain injuries, concussions, organ damage, or even death. 

To prove that an airbag or automobile manufacturer is to blame for the injuries caused by a defective airbag, the law of strict liability applies. Automobile and airbag manufacturers have a responsibility for providing a product that is properly designed and tested to ensure customer safety.

To be successful in a personal injury claim, you will need to prove two things:

  1. The airbag had an unreasonably dangerous defect and, 
  2. The specific defect caused injury or harm.

If you can prove these things, you may be able to recover monetary compensation to help recover from your injury. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.