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Are Boats Required to Have Insurance in California?

  California law does not require boaters to insure their boats. Despite California’s policy on boater’s insurance, it is wise to get coverage to minimize risks to your personal assets. Boating insurance is like car or home insurance; it covers

Safety Tips for Summer Road Trips

Summer is fast approaching and many are planning road trips with family and friends.  In order to ensure a good time for all, keep the following safety tips in mind:

Prepare:  Be sure to inspect your vehicle to ensure it has been properly maintained and is safe for travel.  Functioning lights, properly changed oil, new windshield wipers and fluid, as well as rotated tires with good tread can be huge contributors toward safe traveling.  Moreover, ensuring the hands-free features of your mobile devices are properly working before getting on the road will reduce distraction and help keep you and your family safe.

Drive safely:  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2012 that speeding contributed toward over ten thousand deaths.  Be sure to plan your trip so you have enough time to reach your destination without speeding.  Avoid texting, eating, or drinking behind the wheel as well.  If concentration is dwindling, pull over and take a break.  Limiting the occurrences of things that impair focus can be the difference between safety and injury.

Moreover, driving predictably by using turn signals, flashing brake lights, gradually slowing down, and giving adequate warnings to other drivers can reduce the risk of injury to yourself and others while on road trips.

If a traffic collision does occur, don’t panic.  Call emergency responders if someone is injured and encourage the police to document the event in a report.  Take pictures with your cell phone and exchange information with the other driver(s).  If there are additional witnesses at the scene, try to obtain their names and contact information as well.  Then, call an attorney who can explain your legal rights.

All of us at Kershaw, Cook & Talley, PC wish everyone a safe and happy summer season.  If you or a loved one unfortunately suffers injury on the road due to negligent driving, please contact our office at (916) 779-7000.

Pedestrian Accidents and What You Need to Know

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Being on the road is a dangerous place for most, but the group that is arguably the most vulnerable is also often the most forgotten – pedestrians. In an average trip, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than occupants of passenger vehicles to be killed in a car accident. Pedestrians were also one of the few groups of road users to experience an increase in fatalities in 2012, increasing to 4,743 from 4,457 the previous year. That number increased again in 2014, to 4,884. Fourteen percent of traffic fatalities and about 3 percent of injuries in traffic crashes involve pedestrians. On average, every two hours a pedestrian is killed and every 14 minutes a pedestrian is injured in various road accidents.

According to a national survey on pedestrian attitudes and behaviors, poor quality facilities are the leading cause of pedestrian injury. Getting hit by a car was only the third leading source of injury, following tripping and falling on either an uneven sidewalk or on one’s own. Nonetheless, actions can be taken to decrease injuries and fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pedestrian safety tips include the following:

Additionally, alcohol impairment contributed to 49% of crashes that led to pedestrian deaths – both drivers and pedestrians should take care to drink responsibly.

Legal Rights and Responsibilities

Both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to use care in their respective activities. Generally, the totality of the circumstances are taken into account in determining fault when the driver of a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian. Drivers are held to a higher standard of care due to the fact that driving involves a car – an instrumentality capable of inflicting injury or death. However, a pedestrian could also be found to be negligent in an accident where they were jaywalking, crossing against the traffic signal, walking in areas where pedestrian access is prohibited and more. Those involved in an accident, whether as a motorist or pedestrian, should contact our office for a consultation.

Bicycle Accidents and What You Need to Know

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Common Injuries From Bicycle Accidents Include: 

Usually, these injuries require emergency treatment and extensive trauma care including surgeries and diagnostic procedures such as CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 726 people lost their lives to bicycle-on-motor vehicle crashes in 2014 alone. However, this number only accounts for about two percent of the total number of people killed and injured in traffic crashes in 2014.

About 50,000 bicyclist injuries occurred in 2014. That figure has remained relatively consistent since 2008, with 52,000 injuries occurring in 2008, 51,000 in 2009, 52,000 in 2010, 48,000 in 2011, and 49,000 in 2012. While these numbers are high, research into hospital records shows that only a small amount of bicycle crashes that cause injury are ever reported by the police – this number could be as low as ten percent.

Other data from the NHTSA shows that the average age of bicycle injury victims is increasing over time, with 45 being the average age in 2014. In 2004, the average age was 39, and 32 was the average age in 1998. 88 percent of those killed in 2014 were male, with 71% of fatalities occurring in urban areas and 20 percent of them occurring between the hours of 6 and 9 pm.

19 percent of the bicyclists killed had BAC levels of 0.08 g/dl or higher, and 35 percent of the crashes involved featured either a bicyclist or driver with a BAC level of over 0.08.

Most of the bicyclist fatalities in 2014 occurred in California and Florida, with 139 occurring in Florida and 128 occurring in California.

Car-on-bicycle accidents appear to account for the majority of bicycle-related accidents. According to the “2012 National Survey on Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behaviors”, nearly a third of bicyclist injuries were caused by car accidents.

Legal Rights of Those Injured

If a bicycle accident results from a breach of one’s duty to act as a reasonable person would act in mitigating the risk of danger, the negligent party can be held liable for the injuries caused. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury  in such an accident, contact our office immediately.

Texting While Driving & Employer Liability

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Texting While Driving Statistics

As technology advances and the popularity of mobile devices increases, so do the number of fatalities and injuries associated with texting while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 18% of all fatal crashes in 2012 were caused by driver distraction. In one year alone, 3,328 people died and 421,000 people were wounded.[1] In 2010, one of every eleven traffic fatalities was caused by driver cell phone use.[2] Overall, studies have estimated that twenty-eight percent of traffic accidents occur when people talk on cellphones or text while driving.[3]

Legislation

Congress has not enacted legislation implementing a national ban on texting or using a wireless phone while driving, but a number of states have passed laws banning texting or phones usage or requiring hands-free use of wireless phones while driving.[4] In June 2012, the National Safety Transportation Board (NSTB) issued a recommendation to ban the use of all cell phones while driving, including hands-free devices. California has legislation addressing each. Subject to a few exceptions, California Vehicle Code § 23123 forbids driving while using a wireless phone unless the phone is specifically designed to allow hands-free operation and is used in that way. And California Vehicle Code § 23123.5 outlaws texting while driving unless the device is designed to allow voice-operated, hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text and is used in that way.

Employer Liability

Evolving legislation may create questions for employers who require employees to communicate via telephone while operating a vehicle. Generally, the doctrine of respondeat superior (vicarious liability) allows employers to be held liable for their employee’s negligence in the operation of an automobile if the employee’s conduct was within the scope of his or her employment. The often critical question is determining, in an accident caused by texting or phone use, whether the cellular communication was within the scope of the employees employment. Employers who encourage their employees to use hands-free devices as a safe alternative while driving may reduce their liability in an accident. However, determining the full scope of liability is dependent on multiple factors, and parties with questions should consult a California personal injury attorney.

[1] https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/dangers-texting-while-driving

[2] Isaac A. Hof, Wake-Up Call: Eliminating the Major Roadblock That Cell Phone Driving Creates for Employer Liability, 84 Temp. L. Rev. 701 (2012).

[3] Danielle Lenth, Chapter 570: Paving the Way for Autonomous Vehicles, 44 McGeorge L. Rev. 787, 795 (2013)

[4] https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/dangers-texting-while-driving

65-year old woman found dead after hit-and-run in Gibson Ranch

On the morning of Saturday, June 18, the body of a 65- year old woman was found in a ditch in the Elverta area near Gibson Ranch, California. Police later identified the body as that of Donna Zurfluh, who was walking on the south side of Elverta Road between 2am and 6am when she suffered a hit-and-run collision. The stretch of road she was walking did not have a pedestrian path, and was dark when she was killed. The speed of the vehicle and cause of the collision have not yet been determined. Ms. Zurfluh served her community by teaching adults with special needs and running a recovery program for people struggling with substance abuse – we extend our sincere condolences to Ms. Zurfluh’s family and community who are undoubtedly feeling the pain of loss in her absence.

Pedestrian Injury Statistics

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most pedestrian deaths occur between 4pm and midnight during weekdays, while most weekend fatalities occur between 8pm and 4am. Males seem more likely to suffer fatalities as pedestrians, with 70% of pedestrian fatalities in 2011 being male. Roughly one-fifth of children 10 to 15 years old killed in traffic accidents were pedestrians, with roughly the same figure holding true for those 65 and older. 62% of those involved in pedestrian fatalities were adults ranging from the ages of 21 and 64. Alcohol seems to be a significant factor in these pedestrian fatalities, with 37% of pedestrians killed in 2011 having BACs of .08 g/dL or higher at the time of the accident.

Victim’s Legal Rights

In addition to criminal sanctions for fleeing the scene of accident, drivers can be subject to civil penalties for causing harm by breaching their ordinary duty of care. In situations involving automobiles, drivers owe a heightened duty of care due to the dangerous nature of high-speed automobiles. If you, or a loved one, suffered injuries in an automobile accident, and you believe the driver failed to act with ordinary care, call a California personal injury attorney to receive the help you need and deserve.

Tragic Orland Car Accident Kills 15 Year Old

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On Tuesday, June 7,  a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer crashed into stopped traffic in a construction zone on the I-5 in Orland, CA . The officer, distracted by his computer, failed to see the traffic slowing down ahead of him and rear-ended a Hyundai Elantra. The resulting crash tragically killed 15-year old Willows resident Weston Sites and injured two other teenagers, who were taken to Enloe Medical Center in Chico. CHP officers on the scene stated that a separate investigation team would be handling the investigation.

Distracted Driving Statistics

Distracted driving poses a significant risk to drivers everywhere. Using devices such as computers or handheld electronic requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention, thus increasing the likelihood of accident while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) , in the US in 2014 alone, 3,179 deaths and 431,000 injuries resulted from motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. The National Occupant Protection Use Survey reports that approximately 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices at any given moment across America, and that this number has been consistent since 2010.

Legal Rights of Those Injured

Legally, drivers owe a heightened duty of care when compared to pedestrians due to the potential significant damage a vehicle can cause if misused. A driver’s breach of this duty of care subjects the driver to civil penalties such that the harm done to others may be mitigated. Those in Northern California suffering injury resulting from a distracted driving incident, or those whose loved ones have suffered such harm, would do well to seek the services of a Northern California personal injury attorney.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Weston Sites. We wish the injured teenagers the best in their efforts toward recovery.

Passenger Injury Claims After a Car Accident

Carpooling, road trips and rides to the store can be fun with co-workers, friends and family.  As a passenger in a car, you should protect your safety even though you are not expected to predict every decision of the driver. So, what happens if you are an injured passenger in a car accident? Who’s liable to compensate for your injuries? What are your rights?

Generally, passengers file a claim against the insurance company of the driver who is responsible for the accident. If the driver or owner of the car you were riding in is at fault, you should make a claim against the liability insurance policy of the driver or owner. However, if the fault lies with the driver or owner of another car, you would file a claim against their insurance policy. The claims mentioned above are called a “third party” claim because you are making a claim against another person’s insurance policy. There are scenarios where you may have to make multiple claims. For instance, if both drivers are at fault, you may pursue a claim against the other driver if they have insurance.

What if the driver or owner is family or a close friend? Unfortunately, if you are seriously injured in a car accident, you will likely incur a significant amount of expenses. The responsible person’s insurance company should pay for your medical bills, related losses, pain and suffering, and other expenses caused by the accident. The circumstances of the accident and severity of injuries and losses sustained will determine the amount of your damages.  The amount of available insurance coverage often will determine the amount of compensation you receive.

If you are ever in a car accident, seek medical attention before anything else. If possible, collect the names, license plate numbers, and insurance details of everyone involved in the accident. Also, be sure to take photographs of the scene of the accident and surrounding area.  Next, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your options. An attorney can help settle the case, and if needed, will go to trial to protect your rights and ensure you receive full compensation.

Protect yourself, protect your rights. When you seek legal advice, your chances of receiving full payment for your injuries and losses increases substantially. The attorneys at Kershaw, Cook & Talley will fight for your rights and walk with you every step of the way throughout the complex legal process.

Am I liable if another driver has an accident in my car? 

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When another driver has an accident in your car, you become liable- or responsible- for their actions through vicarious liability. Vicarious liability, also known as imputed liability, holds an individual responsible for harm or damage caused by another individual in either a negligence lawsuit or criminal prosecution. According to California Vehicle Code section 17150, “Every owner of a motor vehicle is liable and responsible for death or injury to person or property resulting from a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the operation of the motor vehicle, in the business of the owner or otherwise, by any person using or operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of the owner.” In other words, victims may sue you for damages caused by another person driving your car.

Many states that attach responsibility to owners for another driver’s actions limit the owner’s responsibility. California Vehicle Code section 17151(a) states, “The liability of an owner, bailee of an owner…is limited to the amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) for the death of or injury to one person in any one accident, and subject to the limit as to one person, is limited to the amount of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) for the death of or injury to more than one person in any one accident and is limited to the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for damage to property of others in any one accident.” However, these limits are inapplicable if you did not use sound judgment in lending your car to the other driver. For example, if you provided your car to an unlicensed or uninsured driver, or an irresponsible driver (drunken driver, distracted driver, etc.). If you were aware of a defect in your car and still allowed someone else drive it, you are possibly negligent. For instance, if you let someone drive your car with bald tires (i.e. tread on your tires are dangerously low and unsafe), and they lost control, and injured or killed someone, you could be held liable.

Car insurance follows the car and not the driver. Depending on your car insurance, the insurance company may cover the damage caused by and to your car even if you weren’t the driver, reducing the amount you pay out of pocket for damages incurred.

Your car insurance is the primary insurance- it is the first to cover damages. If the driver also has car insurance, their insurance is secondary- it will cover damages after the limits of your policy are met. If the damage surpasses your policy limit, and the driver does not have car insurance, you will pay the remaining costs out of pocket.

Permissive use occurs when one person gives permission to another person to use an item they legally possess, in this case, a car. In regards to permissive use, your insurance may cover any driver, family member in your household, and dependent children, if you gave them permission to drive your vehicle. In some states, permissive drivers have reduced coverage while behind the wheel.

UPDATE: 18 Year Old Arrested in Fatal Hit and Run

Photo Courtesy of the Sacramento Bee

Photo Courtesy of the Sacramento Bee

UPDATE:  18 Year Old Arrested in Fatal Arden-Arcade Hit and Run

Authorities have arrested 18-year old Sabina Carillo in connection with the hit and run collision that killed 54-year old pedestrian Stephen Vuletich yesterday morning.  Thankfully, a friend of the suspect persuaded her to turn herself in, according to Officer Chad Hertzell of the California Highway Patrol.  Based on the timing of her arrest, Ms. Carillo will likely be arraigned Monday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Our hearts go out to the loved ones of this tragedy.  We applaud the good samaratin for persuading her friend to do the right thing and turn herself in.  Hopefully, justice will be served and all those affected can get closure.

Driver Critically Injured After Car Crash in Citrus Heights

Two Car Crash Leaves One Driver Critically Injured in Citrus Heights

A person was left critically injured in a Citrus Heights car accident after a red convertible heading south on Auburn Boulevard collided with a silver sedan going north as the driver of the sedan made a left turn at Rusch Park.  According to a KCRA news report, the injury collision occurred on May 27th at 10:45 a.m. on Auburn just north of Antelope Road.  The driver of the sedan was not injured. However, the driver of the convertible remains hospitalized, listed in critical condition.  According to the Citrus Heights Police Department, the red convertible left the road, slammed into a concrete pillar and entered the park.  The vehicle overturned and came to rest upside down.  Officers at the scene said witnesses flipped the car back onto its wheels and tried to assist the injured driver.

Our thoughts are with the injured victim of this collision.  We wish them the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.

Crash Statistics

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 378 fatalities and injuries were reported in 2012 as a result of traffic accidents in the city of Citrus Heights.  In Sacramento County as a whole, 9,152 fatalities and injuries were reported that same year from vehicle collisions.

What Caused this Collision?

Based on the news report, it appears the driver of the silver sedan turned in front of or into the driver of the red convertible as that car was heading southbound on Auburn Boulevard.  The specifics are not clear from the report, however, and there are many unanswered questions.  Was the driver distracted?  Talking or texting on a cell phone?  Reckless or inattentive?  Were drugs or alcohol involved?  Was there a mechanical problem with the vehicle that contributed to the crash?  Was the other vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed?  Surely, officials will ask these questions and others to determine precisely what happened and why.

Victims’ Legal Rights

If the driver of the sedan is determined to have been at fault, he or she could be held liable for the injuries, damages and losses caused.  Injured victims can seek compensation for damages including hospitalization, continuing medical expenses, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, permanent injury, lost wages and emotional distress.  Additionally, spouses can seek recovery for loss of companionship and in those tragic circumstances where the injured victim dies, families can bring a wrongful death claim to recover certain losses.  It’s always advisable for victims to contact an experienced Citrus Heights personal injury lawyer who will stay on top of the investigation and protect their legal rights and interests.

Defective & Dangerous Products

Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyers

The attorneys at Kershaw, Cook & Talley successfully represent consumers in lawsuits against manufacturers and companies involving defective products and product recalls. Our experienced trial attorneys recover thousands of dollars on behalf of injured individuals in cases involving defective medical devices, dangerous drugs, car defects and more.

Referring Attorneys

Best Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyers

At times, attorneys require further expertise and resources, legally and financially, to resolve a legal matter. We have the team, capability and dedication to handle challenging cases. If you have a case exceeding your resources with respect to workforce or experience, consider contacting our firm. We welcome referrals from firms in Sacramento and throughout the United States.

Our Services

Medical Malpractice Lawyers, Kershaw, Cook & Talley

We provide free case consultations. If you, or a loved one, suffered an injury due to another’s negligence or wrongful conduct, call our firm. We will examine your individual situation and explain your legal rights. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing injured individuals, in both jury trials and settlement negotiations.

Personal Injury Attorneys, Personal Legal Service.

Kershaw, Cook & Talley is a Sacramento law firm founded on the principle of helping our clients through personalized legal services. With this philosophy, Kershaw, Cook & Talley has garnered a statewide and national reputation for providing outstanding legal representation and obtaining significant compensation for our clients.

Nationally Recognized Personal Injury Law Firm.

We understand personal injury cases are often emotionally and financially straining. Our team of top personal injury attorneys in Sacramento is committed to seeking justice for individuals injured as a result of another's negligence or intentional misconduct. At Kershaw, Cook & Talley, our experienced personal injury attorneys will hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.

CLIENT TESTIMONIALS

“Bill and Stu worked expeditiously to get my hip claim resolved.
I couldn’t believe how personable they were and easy to contact.”

-S. Thomas

“Stuart helped me with a case involving a defective hip replacement. He was incredibly responsive to my calls and concerns and really kept me updated on what was going on in the litigation. Even though his office was not in my hometown, he actually flew out to meet with me. He was incredibly knowledgeable about the case and really helped me through a very difficult time.”

-Personal Injury Client, as seen on AVVO

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