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.

Auto accident involving two cars

10 Factors That Can Affect What Your Car Accident Case is Worth

The value of a car accident claim depends on numerous factors, many of which are within your control. Understanding how these factors affect your claim can help you avoid errors and mistakes that could lower the value of the claim.

Ten Factors That Can Impact the Value of a Car Accident Claim

Issues that can affect how much you might receive for a car accident claim include:

1.  Liability for Causing the Collision

To recover full compensation for damages caused by a car crash, the other driver or party must be entirely responsible for causing the car accident. If there is any doubt as to who caused the crash, the value of your claim decreases. Therefore, investigating the cause of the crash and gathering evidence to prove liability is crucial.

Allegations of comparative fault are used to reduce the value of your claim. The laws regarding comparative fault vary by state. In California, you could be 99 percent at fault for the cause of a car crash and recover up to one percent of the value of your damages. 

However, in Nevada, if you are 51 percent or more at fault for the cause of the crash, you cannot recover any money for your damages. In both states, the amount of compensation you receive for your claim decreases by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the car wreck.

2.  Statements About the Accident

Any statements you make at the accident scene can impact the value of your injury claim. For instance, if you say, “I’m sorry,” you could be accused of admitting you were at fault for the cause of the accident. Never apologize or admit fault at the accident scene. 

Likewise, any statements you give to an insurance company or questions you answer for an insurance claims adjuster could hurt your claim. Insurance adjusters are trained to “get people to talk.” The more you talk about the accident, the better chance the adjuster has of obtaining information the company can use to deny or undervalue your claim.

In most cases, it is wise to talk to a car accident attorney as soon as possible, especially if the claims adjuster is pressuring you to make a formal statement.

3.  Severity of Injuries

The severity and type of injuries a person sustains in a car crash impact the value of a claim. Traumatic and catastrophic injuries increase the value of a car accident claim. Minor injuries that do not require significant medical treatment lower the value of the claim.

Examples of injuries that can increase the value of a claim include, but are not limited to:

  • Paralysis
  • Severe burns
  • Amputations or loss of limbs
  • Loss of vision or hearing
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Any permanent disability

Severe injuries generally result in more damages. Medical and personal care are more expensive for traumatic injuries. Also, traumatic injuries typically result in a higher amount of lost income because the duration of the recovery is longer. 

4.  Delays in Medical Treatment

Insurance companies search for ways to deny valid car accident claims. Delays in medical care give companies a reason to question your claim. 

The insurance company may claim that the car crash did not cause your injuries. It may argue that if you had been injured in the car accident, you would have seen a doctor immediately. It is generally best for your health and a future injury claim to see a doctor as quickly as possible after a car accident. 

5.  Financial Damages

If another driver is entirely responsible for causing the car accident, all financial damages should be reimbursed in a car accident claim. Therefore, the higher your financial damages, the higher the value of your car accident claim.

Financial damages in a car accident claim can include:

  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Medical expenses
  • Personal care costs
  • Medications and medical equipment
  • Therapies and counseling
  • In-home health care
  • Help with household chores
  • Travel expenses
  • Legal costs

Careful documentation is vital. You can only receive reimbursement for financial damages that you can prove you incurred.

6.  Activities During Recovery

Remember, nothing you post online is private. A defense attorney may gain access to your social media posts and other information posted online. It is best to avoid using social media accounts until after your car accident claim has been settled.

If you were to post a picture of yourself at your niece’s pool party, a jury might believe you are lying about the extent of your damages. It would not matter that you were in chronic pain and left 10 minutes later. The perception would have already been created.

Failing to follow your doctor’s treatment plan can also hurt the value of your claim. An insurance company may argue that you caused your injuries to become worse by not following the treatment plan. Because you caused your injuries to worsen, you do not deserve full compensation.

To avoid problems with your car accident claim, follow your doctor’s orders, avoid activities that contradict your injury claim, and stay off social media.

7.  Pre-Existing Conditions

Insurance companies often use pre-existing conditions as a way to undervalue car accident claims. The company claims your injuries are from a prior accident or medical condition instead of being caused by the car crash.

Having a pre-existing condition does not mean that you cannot recover compensation for a car accident claim. However, it can complicate the case. Always tell your attorney about any prior accidents and any medical conditions.

Most states require insurance companies and defendants to accept accident victims “as is.” In other words, you are entitled to compensation even if the accident caused a prior condition to become worse.

8.  Available Insurance Coverage

California and Nevada require drivers to carry minimum liability insurance. Unfortunately, the minimum insurance coverage is very low. If you sustain a severe injury, your car accident claim is likely to exceed the minimum coverage amount.

However, the insurance company is only required to pay your claim up to the policy limits. Therefore, the amount of insurance the other driver carries could impact the value of your car accident claim.

You could be entitled to additional compensation from your insurance company if you carry underinsured motorist coverage. 

9.  Permanent Disabilities and Impairments

Accident victims who sustain disabilities and permanent impairments are entitled to compensation for future damages such as:

  • Ongoing medical treatment
  • Personal care 
  • Future loss of income and benefits
  • Decreases in earning potential
  • Future pain, suffering, and loss of quality of life

The amount of future damages may be significant. Lost wages over a person’s lifetime could total millions of dollars. Medical experts, financial experts, economists, and other experts can calculate the value of future damages based on numerous factors.

10.  Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer

The insurance company is not going to tell you how much your claim is actually worth. It wants to pay as little as possible to settle your claim. Without an attorney, you cannot be sure that the insurance company is offering a fair amount to settle your claim.

Also, most insurance companies are familiar with the record and reputation of lawyers who handle injury claims. Because the insurance company knows that you have someone on your side who is knowledgeable about injury claims, it may take the claim more seriously and offer a higher settlement amount to avoid litigation.

Therefore, hiring a personal injury lawyer may give you the best chance of recovering the maximum value for your car accident claim.

Medical bill

How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

When a person is injured in an accident, the person generally sustains damages. If another party caused the accident, the victim might be entitled to compensation for those damages. 

Examples of cases in which a person might recover compensation for damages include:

  • Car accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Nursing home abuse cases
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Premises liability cases
  • Product liability claims
  • Boating accidents
  • Bicycle accidents

Damages in a personal injury case generally include financial damages and non-economic damages. The person may be entitled to punitive damages, although it is not common in most cases. Punitive damages “punish” the person who caused the injury for gross negligence and wrongdoing. 

Calculating Financial Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Financial damages are the economic losses incurred by the accident victim. Examples of financial damages include:

  • Medical bills and cost of treatment
  • Personal care and in-home health care
  • Help with household chores
  • Loss of wages, salary, and benefits
  • Decreases in earning potential
  • Travel expenses
  • Legal costs

The value of financial damages is the actual cost of an item or financial loss. Unfortunately, calculating non-economic losses is more complicated.

Calculating Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Pain and suffering” is the term used to describe non-economic damages. Under personal injury laws, a victim can receive compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the accident. 

Examples of pain and suffering damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional distress, including anxiety, PTSD, and depression
  • Mental anguish
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Disabilities and impairments
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life
  • Loss of consortium (loss of relationships with others, including spousal intimacy)

Valuing pain and suffering is challenging because a person’s experience after a car accident is unique and subjective. Each person experiences injuries differently. The same injury could cause one person great pain and distress, but another person may only suffer minor pain and inconvenience. 

Because there is not a “bill” or “invoice” for calculating pain and suffering, insurance companies consider several factors when valuing pain and suffering damages:

  • The type and severity of injuries the person sustained
  • The overall discomfort and pain associated with those types of injuries
  • The duration of the recovery
  • How the injury impacted the person’s daily life, including personal relationships, work, activities, etc.
  • The types of medical care required to treat the injuries
  • Whether the person sustained a permanent impairment or disability that requires ongoing care and treatment

Other factors may be considered when valuing pain and suffering damages based on the facts and circumstances of the case. Unfortunately, there is not a standard formula prescribed by law to calculate pain and suffering.

Multiplier Method vs. Per Diem Method

Many insurance companies use one of two methods for calculating pain and suffering damages.

Multiplier Method

The multiplier method uses the total cost of repairing the injuries (medical bills) as a basis for the value of pain and suffering damages. 

Depending on the above pain and suffering factors, the insurance company assigns a number for pain and suffering damages, usually between 1.5 and 5. Traumatic injuries, lengthy recoveries, and permanent impairments generally result in a higher multiplier. 

Pain and suffering damages equal your total medical expenses multiplied by the number. For example, if your total medical bills equal $50,000, and the multiplier is two, your pain and suffering damages would be worth $100,000.

An insurance company fights to keep the multiplier as low as possible. Your personal injury lawyer builds a strong case to argue for a higher multiplier based on the above pain and suffering factors.

Per Diem Method

The per diem method is used in some cases to calculate pain and suffering damages. The per diem method involves assigning a daily rate for pain and suffering. 

The value of your pain and suffering damages is the per diem multiplied by the total number of days between the date of injury and the date your doctor states you have reached maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement is the point at which no further medical treatment will improve your condition. 

The above pain and suffering factors are the basis for the per diem amount. Cases involving catastrophic injuries and disabilities usually have a higher per diem rate.

Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer

An insurance company has one goal – avoid paying large injury claims. Therefore, the claims adjuster is going to fight to keep the value of your pain and suffering damages as low as possible. Because pain and suffering are subjective, it can be easy for an insurance company to claim that a person is exaggerating.

Attorneys who handle personal injury cases understand how insurance companies calculate pain and suffering. They understand which factors can increase the multiplier or the per diem rate. They also know how to use medical evidence in a case to maximize the figures.

If you believe the settlement offer is low, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer before accepting the offer. Once you settle your injury claim, you cannot pursue legal action for more money, even if you discover your damages are worth much more than the insurance company paid to settle the claim.