Blog


Prevent Winter Driving Disasters with These Maintenance Tips

by Staff Blogger | January 13th, 2020

Winter can be harsh on roads and on your vehicle, even in Northern California. Although our winters aren’t as cold and icy as they are in other parts of the country, it’s still important to make sure your vehicle is properly winterized and ready for the impacting of dropping temperatures.

In addition to helping you avoid inconvenient and potentially dangerous vehicle breakdowns, proper car maintenance can also reduce your risks of being involved in an accident. Use the tips in our infographic below to ensure your vehicle remains in tip-top shape throughout the winter and well into spring.

Avoid These Common Vehicle-Related Winter Mistakes

Now that you’ve learned what you should do to reduce your risks of experiencing a breakdown or a crash this winter, it’s time for a quick rundown of things to never do. The following mistakes are common, and they can result in serious damage to your vehicle and even dangerous accidents:

  • Don’t defrost your windshield with hot water—Nothing melts ice as quickly as a bucket full of scalding hot water, but dumping one on your vehicle’s windshield will clear your wallet even faster. Hot water on frozen glass can mean a cracked windshield and an expensive repair.
  • Don’t swerve to avoid potholes—Potholes can be seriously damaging to your vehicle. In some cases, they can even total cars, trucks, and SUVs. But most potholes don’t cause much, if any, damage, and swerving to avoid one can increase your chances of colliding with another vehicle.
  • Don’t clear only a small porthole in your windshield—If your windshield ices over, make sure you clear it completely. Doing so can be time-consuming and might make you late for work, but driving with most of your visibility blocked can be extremely dangerous.
  • Don’t leave home without checking the weather—Winter storms are often predicted several days out. Being on the interstate or highway many miles from home when roads suddenly become slick from freezing rain can be dangerous, and you may end up trapped for several hours.
  • Don’t leave your fuel tank sitting more than half-empty. Condensation can collect in a half-empty fuel tank, and if it freezes it can damage your fuel lines.

Other important tips include packing emergency gear in your trunk, including blankets, clothing, water, and non-perishable snacks, and making sure others know your route and when you plan on arriving in case disaster strikes along the way.

We Help Auto Accident Victims Get Compensation All Year Long

At Berg Injury Lawyers, our auto accident attorneys know that winter weather can make roads much more dangerous, even in California. But we also know that crashes can occur at any time and place, whether it’s the dead of winter or the middle of summer. That’s why our legal team is ready to jump into action to help victims get the money they deserve after accidents that weren’t their fault.

If you or someone you love was hurt because of a negligent driver, we want to get you the compensation you deserve. Speeding, driving while intoxicated, driving while distracted, or even driving with a windshield full of ice and snow are all careless behaviors, and when those behaviors result in crashes, we think drivers should be held accountable. Contact us today for a free consultation. We want to put our experience to work for you.


Motorcycle Wreck? Don’t Let the Insurance Company’s Bias Cost You.

by Staff Blogger | January 6th, 2020

There are many reasons to ride a motorcycle over driving a car or truck. They’re easier to park, are extremely fuel efficient, and they have excellent acceleration and handling. But all those perks come at a huge cost: safety. Motorcycles have no safety features to protect riders, and even the most well-equipped riders can still suffer serious injuries during accidents. In fact, nearly 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injuries, and 4% are fatal.

The injuries associated with motorcycle accidents are painful, debilitating, and often disabling. Victims may need expensive medical treatments, and they may be unable to work for long periods of time. Getting compensation is a big priority for motorcycle accident victims, but insurance companies don’t often cooperate. That’s because insurers and their adjusters are typically biased against motorcyclists, and they often approach motorcycle accident claims believing that the riders were responsible.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know that injured victims face enough hurdles already when trying to get compensation for accidents that weren’t their fault. If you or someone you love was hurt in a motorcycle crash, the last thing you need is to deal with is an insurance company that has already made its mind up about who caused the accident.

Get in touch with our California motorcycle accident lawyers. We’ll investigate the crash, collect evidence that proves you weren’t at fault, and negotiate to get you paid fairly and on time. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’re ready to put our experience to work for you.


How Social Media Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim

by Staff Blogger | January 6th, 2020

Many of us enjoy staying in touch with friends and family and engaging with like-minded people through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, to name just a few. If you aren’t on them all, odds are you use at least one.

We love sharing major events in our lives on social media, good or bad, and a serious injury definitely counts as one. However, if you have filed or are thinking about filing a personal injury claim to recoup your medical expenses after an accident, your social media posts could seriously harm your chances of getting the money you need.

Social media posts are considered part of the public record, even if your accounts are set to private, and the insurance company’s lawyers don’t need a warrant to access them. To put it another way, anything you share can and may be used against you by the insurance company when reviewing your claim or in a civil lawsuit.

Your Posts

Statements Minimizing Your Injuries

A status update to the people who care about you saying something as simple as “I was in a crash but I am okay,” or “I’m just glad it wasn’t worse” could be taken out of context to argue that your injuries are not as severe or painful as they actually are.

Accidental Admissions of Fault

Posts along the lines of “I didn’t see them coming” or “I didn’t have time to stop” could be used by the defense to argue that the accident was your fault for not paying attention to your surroundings or not taking reasonable corrective measures.

Posts that Contradict Your Compensation Claim

Accidents, especially car accidents, are confusing and stressful, and everyone’s memory is fallible. If you accidentally post something that differs from how you described the crash in the police report or in your compensation claim, the defense will use it against you.

Ranting

When you’ve been injured and your life disrupted, you have every reason to be angry, especially when your injury is due to someone else being negligent. However, ranting about your injury or the responsible party online could hurt your claim. The defense could argue you are not injured and are only filing for spite or revenge.

Oversharing About Your Life

As strange as it seems, even posts that have nothing to do with your accident could hurt your chances of getting compensation. For example, posts about stressful or upsetting recent events in your life, such as a break-up, could cause the defense to argue that your emotional state at the time caused your crash.

Your Photos

Photos that Misrepresent Your Physical Health

Photos that appear to depict you doing activities that your injuries should prevent, even if you were not participating in the activity, or if the photo was taken before your accident and only posted later, could be used to argue your injuries are being exaggerated.

Photos that Misrepresent Your Emotional Health

Unfortunately, even photos of you looking happy and smiling (and who doesn’t smile when being photographed?) could be used as evidence your accident wasn’t as traumatic as it really was.

Your Friends and Family

It’s not just your own photos you should be wary of. If you are tagged in a photo by a friend that appears to show you happy and healthy, this could also be used as evidence against you.

Furthermore, if you post about your accident, and a friend jokingly replies with a statement like, “I told you to get off your phone!”, even if you and your friend both understand it’s a joke, the insurance company or court may not. And if they believe you contributed to your own accident by not paying attention to the road or speeding, it could hurt or ruin your chances of getting compensation altogether.

Your Online Activity

Avoiding all mention of your accident online isn’t a guarantee that the insurance company won’t be able to manipulate what you post, either. If you are trying to get compensation for the pain and emotional distress your injuries caused, but you continue to post as normal, the defense may try to argue that this proves that your injury didn’t seriously affect your life or mental health.

What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk

The best way to ensure that your social media habits don’t accidentally harm your claim is to not use social media at all until after your claim is resolved. However, these steps can help protect you if you do continue to post.

  1. Set all your social media accounts to private.
  2. If possible, adjust your settings to prevent other users from being able to share your posts or to post comments on your accounts.
  3. Do not accept any new friend requests, especially from people you don’t know, while your claim is ongoing.
  4. Speak privately with friends and family and request they do not post anything about you, or especially your accident, until your claim is resolved.
  5. Avoid mentioning your settlement even after your claim is resolved. If your settlement involves a confidentiality agreement, posting about it could result in your settlement being revoked.

Hurt in a Car Accident? Call Berg Injury Lawyers.

If you were injured in a car accident, you need to contact the team at Berg Injury Lawyers right away. We have years of experience dealing with insurance companies, and we know all the shady tricks they like to pull. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.


We Help TBI Victims Get Maximum Compensation

by Staff Blogger | December 30th, 2019

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) affect victims and their entire families, especially when victims are the primary income-earners in their households. TBIs can range in severity, and moderate to severe TBIs can make it difficult or impossible for victims to work. Some may even be unable to live independently and require assistance from family members or healthcare professionals to complete routine, daily tasks.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we’ve seen how devastating TBIs can be for victims and their families. In addition to being emotionally damaging to everyone involved, they can also be extremely expensive. The healthcare costs associated with TBIs can be too much for many families to bear, especially when their affected loved ones can no longer work and earn the paychecks they depended on.

Our California brain injury lawyers know all the expenses associated with TBIs, and we fight to help victims and their families get fair compensation. When victims contact us for help, we review all the facts of their claims, including how much their TBIs will cost them and their loved ones in medical bills and lost wages, present and future. We also factor in victims’ pain and suffering due to their injuries, impairments, and disabilities.

Then, we negotiate with the insurance company to get a fair settlement. We know that insurance companies are reluctant to give victims the money they deserve after accidents and injuries, but we don’t take no for an answer. When they refuse, we don’t hesitate to take them to court.

Contact us today for a free consultation if you or someone you love suffered a TBI. We’re here to help.


Winter Driving Tips

by Staff Blogger | December 30th, 2019

Although San Francisco and the Bay Area rarely experience freezing temperatures, winter weather and its impact on roadways can still be a concern for people living throughout Northern California. Whether you’re driving through some of the mountainous regions of the state this winter, or you’re taking a road trip to stay with friends and family for the holidays, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with winter driving and the best ways to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident.

Inclement weather is one of the most common causes of auto accidents, and the accumulation of snow and especially black ice on roadways means less traction for tires and increased distances required for slowing down and stopping. The combination of those effects makes it easier for drivers to lose control of their vehicles and skid, spin out, or be unable to stop in time before colliding with vehicles in front of them.

Be Cautious and Safe This Winter

At Berg Injury Lawyers, it’s our goal to help injured drivers and their passengers get compensation after crashes, but we know that the best course of action is to prevent crashes altogether. You can stay safer and do your part in making roadways less dangerous this winter by following these steps:

Modern advances in vehicle safety technology, such as anti-lock brakes, traction control, all-wheel drive, stability control, and innovations in winter tire design have made cars, trucks, and SUVs safer to drive in winter weather. However, those safety features shouldn’t be taken for granted, and it’s important to always drive cautiously when there’s a chance that roadways may contain snow or ice.

What Are Your Options If You’re Hurt in a Crash Caused by Snow or Ice?

Although winter weather makes roadways more dangerous, it doesn’t mean that accidents are a foregone conclusion. Like most auto accidents, winter crashes are often due to one primary factor: driver error. When other motorists fail to take into consideration the road conditions, visibility, and the effect freezing temperatures have on their vehicles, they put themselves and other motorists like you in danger. In addition, dangerous road conditions may be caused by negligent governmental bodies, whether it’s at the city, state, or even federal level, when they fail to clear roads.

And just like any other type of crash, our California auto accident lawyers are here to help injured victims get the compensation they deserve. If you or someone you love was hurt in a winter crash that was caused by a driver who didn’t take the necessary precautions, or a governmental body responsible for road maintenance and safety who failed to do their duty, you may be eligible to get compensation for expenses such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Why Call Berg Injury Lawyers After a Car Accident?

After an accident that wasn’t your fault, you need compensation for what you’ve gone through, but you may be unable to pursue it on your own—especially if you’re seriously injured, hospitalized, or have a long path to recovery. In addition, the insurance company will start building its case against you from day one in hopes of reducing or denying your claim. One misstep during the often months-long claims process could jeopardize your claim.

When you get our legal team on your side, you won’t have to worry about the insurance company’s phone calls, trying to collect evidence that proves you weren’t at fault, or making a statement that can be used against you by the insurance adjuster. We’ll handle everything from the moment you hire us until the moment you get your check. You’ve been through enough already—now you deserve a chance to recover and spend time with your family. Contact us today for a free consultation. We know what you’re going through, and we know how to help.


Let Us Help You Get the SSD Benefits You Earned

by Staff Blogger | December 23rd, 2019

The Social Security Administration (SSA) takes a percentage of every paycheck earned by workers in the U.S. That money is later paid back to workers in the form of Social Security retirement benefits. However, some people need that money sooner rather than later, especially if they suffer a serious injury or illness before retirement age that prevents them from working.

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are designed to replace lost income for people whose health prevents them from earning normal paychecks. But even when workers have paid into the SSA’s system for years and years, the SSA doesn’t always approve people’s SSD claims. While it’s true that some people try to scam the SSA and get benefits when they’re perfectly healthy, many otherwise valid claims are unfairly denied.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we believe that anyone suffering from an injury or illness that interferes with their livelihood deserves access to the money they’ve paid into the Social Security system. It’s our goal to help applicants get their claims approved, whether they’re filing for the first time or appealing the SSA’s decision. Our California Social Security Disability lawyers know what the SSA looks for when approving or denying claims, and use that knowledge to our clients’ advantage.

It’s important to have an experienced law firm on your side when it comes to applying to collect the SSD benefits you’ve earned over the course of your career. There are many pitfalls that can result in claims being denied, and we can help you avoid them. Contact us today for a free consultation.


How to Keep Your Kids Entertained on Long Car Trips

by Staff Blogger | December 23rd, 2019

Whether you are taking a roadtrip for vacation, or are visiting family for the holidays, traveling with small children can often be frustrating, especially when you need to keep your eyes on the road and be ready to react to bad drivers at any moment. Being distracted by cries of “I’m bored”, “are we there yet?”, or “my sibling won’t stop poking me” are the last thing you need while driving!

The team at Berg Injury Lawyers know how that can be, which is why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to keeping your kids entertained on your next car trip.

Must-Pack Items

Consider this your checklist when you next pack for a long car ride.

  • Kid-friendly books and/or activity books, or a kid-friendly electronic device such a tablet, portable DVD player, MP3 player with headphones, or other child-friendly electronic device, with the charger or spare batteries
  • Healthy snacks that won’t make a hard-to-clean mess if they spill
  • A lap desk—cookie sheets make a cheap and easy alternative that most people already have at home
  • Toys small enough to easily play with while seated, but large enough not to fall and become lost underneath the seats
  • Paper towels, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer to clean up messes
  • Garbage bags
  • A travel pillow
  • A disposable camera, which kids can use to take pictures out the window

Tips for Traveling with Kids

These tips are parent-tested and approved.

  • Get your kid involved in packing: allow each child to select for themselves at least one item (toy, game, or book) to bring along.
  • Make sure children requiring car seats are secured and fastened in. A study from 2015 found a startling 95% of parents make a mistake when installing a car seat, and a cranky child may be motivated to escape from their seat while their parents’ eyes are on the road.
  • Depending on how many children you have, and if any are old enough to sit up front, consider having one parent sit in the back to make it easier to get face-to-face time with the children.
  • If your child is prone to motion sickness, consider kid-friendly audiobooks rather than books or screen-time. Many libraries offer audiobooks for check-out, and several apps allow library-card holders to download audiobooks to their phones or tablets for free.
  • Plan your stopping points for lunch and bathroom breaks ahead of time, and remember that you will need to stop more frequently with small children. Plan to stop for a bathroom break around 20-30 minutes after a meal stop.
  • Consider making “snack jewelry” by looping circular snacks, such as cheerios, pretzels, or candy, onto a piece of string and allow your kid to snack at their leisure.
  • Reward good behavior by portioning out a new snack or toy every hour, instead of making all of them available at the start of the trip.
  • Avoid the “are we there yet?” with a trip tracker. Print out a map of your route and at each stopping point or major landmark (such as a state border), have your child place a sticker on the map so they can see for themselves how far they’ve gone, and how far they have left to go.

Conversation Games You Can Play Without Paper or Pens

When you don’t have toys or activity books, or when your kids lose interest, everyone can have fun with these games that don’t require any pieces or materials, just players.

20 Questions

One player thinks up an object, but does not tell the other players what it is. The other players can ask up to 20 yes-or-no questions to try to guess what the mystery object is. Examples of questions could be, “Is it smaller than a person? Is it an animal?” and so on.

Guess the Word

One player can trace a short word on the arm, back, or palm of another player using only their finger, and the player being written on must guess what that word is by the shape of the letters as they are being traced.

The Alphabet Game

Each player must find every letter of the alphabet on road signs, store signs, billboards, and so on (license plates cannot be used). However, they must be found in order. For example, if a player spots the letter ‘x’ before they’ve found a ‘w’ and every letter before it, it cannot be used. The first player to spot every letter of the alphabet wins.

License Plate Abbreviations

Players must come up with what the random letters found on a license plate of a passing car stand for. For example, a license plate that reads “TSD” might be imagined to stand for “The Silly Dog”. Whichever player comes up with the most amusing answer wins.

Alphabet Categories

After selecting a category, (ex: food, animals, cartoon characters, etc.) players take turns coming up with one answer for each letter of the alphabet, in order, that fits the category. For example, if the category is food, answers might be apple, banana, cake, and so on.

The Picnic Game

Players take turns describing what food items they are bringing to a picnic, with each player adding one additional item starting with the next letter of the alphabet. The longer the game goes on, the longer the list grows, and the more items each player must remember. For example, the first player must remember “apples”, the second player must remember “apples and bananas”, the third player must remember “apples, bananas, and cake”, and so on.

A, My Name is Anne

Players take turns moving through the alphabet and filling in the phrases, “My name is”, “I come from”, and “I have a suitcase full of” with words that start with that letter of the alphabet. For example, the first player might say, “My name is Anne, I come from Alabama, and I have a suitcase full of apples,” while the second player might say, “My name is Bert, I come from Bermuda, and I have a suitcase full of bananas.”

Team Storytelling

Each player takes turns supplying one sentence of a story, forcing players to stretch their imagination when another player takes the story in a new direction.

The Counting Game

Players taking turns counting, with the goal being to count up to 20. The first player says “one,” and then another player must say “two” and another “three” and so on, but players do not have to respond in a particular order. However, if more than one player responds at the same time, all players must start over from “one”, and if more than five seconds pass without any player responding, all players must start over from “one.”

Download Our Free Activity Book

If you are looking for more ways to keep your kids entertained in the car, the team at Berg Injury Lawyers has prepared a fun, free activity book. Download this book, print it out before your trip, and enjoy! Our book includes:

  • Coloring pages
  • Word searches
  • Mad libs
  • Mazes
  • Tic-tac-toe

After a Car Accident, Call Berg Injury Lawyers

Car accidents have the potential to be devastating, whether they occur on a roadtrip while you’re hundreds of miles from home, or on your daily commute. If you or someone you love were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, we want to help you. When you trust the experienced California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers, we’ll work hard to build a claim that proves your accident wasn’t your fault and get you the compensation you need to try to get your life back to normal.


Winter Boat Accident? Get the Compensation You Deserve.

by Staff Blogger | December 16th, 2019

As Northern Californians, we’re lucky to avoid the harsh winters that other parts of the country experience every year. We’re also only a short drive away from warm temperatures in the Southern part of the state, which means boating season can last all year long.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, it’s our goal to help people who are injured in boat accidents get the compensation they deserve, no matter what time of year their accidents occur. We know that boat accidents can happen on days when the water is crowded in the middle of summer, and also during the slow parts of the year when the ocean, lakes, and rivers are calm.

Accidents don’t abide by a schedule, and they don’t discriminate when it comes to time, place, or location. Simply put—if you’ve been hurt in a boat accident, you need experienced legal representation on your side, and our California boat accident lawyers are here to help. We know that you may have suffered serious injuries that result in expensive medical bills, and you may be too hurt to go back to work.

It’s important to have a law firm on your side that cares about your recovery and that knows how to maximize your chances of getting compensation. When you contact us about your boat accident injury, we’ll collect evidence to determine who was at fault and that proves your injuries were caused by the accident itself. Then, we’ll find out how much money you’re owed and negotiate with the insurance company to get you paid. Contact us today for a free consultation.


How to Gift a Car

by Staff Blogger | December 16th, 2019

The holiday season typically brings cooler temperatures, Christmas carols, and…car commercials. The holidays mean deals on new cars, and most car commercials feature shiny new models with big red gift bows on the roof.

Most of us won’t be gifting the latest model from the dealership to a loved one this holiday season, but there are several reasons why you might want to gift a car to a friend or family member. For example, you may want to gift your old car to a young family member who recently got their license, or to help out a friend in need who may be struggling financially.

Steps to Gifting a Car

The most important step to gifting a car is having a frank discussion with the person who will be receiving the car before you do anything else. You may want the gift to be a surprise, but there is a very important reason why it should not be. Gifting a car is very generous, but the cost to buy a car is not the only expense associated with car ownership.

If the person you are gifting the car to is unable to afford the cost of:

  • gas,
  • auto insurance,
  • maintenance and repairs,
  • annual registration,
  • and other fees,

and if you are not prepared or able to also cover these expenses yourself, then gifting a car may not be the right choice at this point in time.

If you are gifting a car you already own:

First, you need to legally own the car. If you are still making payments on the car you want to gift, you will need to finish paying off the lien before you can gift the car, because the financial institution you took out the loan from is technically still the legal owner.

Not sure if you are the legal owner or not? Check the vehicle’s title, which you should have received from the loan company after paying off the lien. If you can’t locate your title document, you can request an additional one from your local DMV after paying a replacement fee.

Next, you will need to transfer the title. The person gifting the car will need to fill out the seller’s portion of the transfer section of the title, and the person receiving the car will need to fill out the buyer’s portion. In California, you will need to:

  • Sign the title
  • If lienholders are listed on the title, they will need to sign as well
  • Fill in the odometer reading (if the car is less than 10 years old)
  • Where the title asks for sales price, fill in “gift”
  • Provide proof of smog certification (UNLESS you are giving the car to a family member or if the car is less than four years old and not diesel-powered)
  • Complete a Statement of Use Tax Exemption form
  • Complete a Statement of Facts form (UNLESS you are giving the car to a family member)
  • Inform the DMV within 10 days of signing over ownership
  • Have the gift recipient take the title to the DMV to register the vehicle in their name and pay the $15 title transfer fee.

If you are buying a new/used car as a gift:

If you are buying a car to gift, you will have four main options.

  1. Purchase the vehicle outright and follow the steps outlined above.
  2. Take out a loan in your own name but register the title under both your name and the gift recipient’s.
  3. Bring the gift recipient with you to the dealership and co-sign a loan.
  4. Bring the gift recipient with you to the dealership, gift the down payment and have the gift recipient finance the vehicle themselves.

What if the Person I Want to Gift My Car to Doesn’t Have Insurance?

The person receiving the car will not be able to register the car in their name or legally drive the car without insurance. They will need to purchase insurance to receive the gifted car.

What if the Person I Want to Gift My Car to Lives in Another State?

Title-transfer requirements vary state to state. Check the requirements for the state that the gift recipient lives in, because those are the ones you will need to follow.

Does Gifting a Car Affect Taxes?

In most cases, no.

A federal gift tax does exist. This is a tax on a gift-giver, based on the monetary value of the gift. This tax exists to prevent people from avoiding federal estate tax by giving away their money and property before they die. But this also means it only applies to large sums of money.

2019 tax code states that an individual can gift a car (or any other property) up to $15,000 in value, or up to $30,000 in value if jointly gifted with a spouse, without needing to pay gift tax, and without the recipient having to pay income tax on the gift.

Can I Get a Tax Deduction for Gifting My Car?

In most cases, no.

You can get a tax deduction if you gift it to a 501c(3) charity or to a religious organization, but not if you want to gift a car to an individual such as a friend or family member.

If you are gifting your old car to charity, you will also need to itemize your deductions, and you will need to fill out and submit Form 8283 with your tax return if the car is worth $500 or more.

When You Have Questions After a Car Accident, Contact the Team at Berg Injury Lawyers

One reason someone may need a car is because their old car has been wrecked in an accident. And when car accidents also cause injuries, they can leave victims struggling to pay their bills while they recover. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, we want to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today.


How to Safely Put Up Holiday Decorations

by Staff Blogger | December 11th, 2019

Christmas isn’t complete without decorations, and that includes everything from the Christmas tree and stockings, to outdoor lights and wreaths. And while putting up holiday decorations can be a fun-filled, albeit time-consuming, activity, it’s important to note that it can also be dangerous if proper safety precautions aren’t followed.

Unsteady ladders, toppling Christmas trees, and even defective lights can all turn even the most joyous holiday into a disaster. Don’t pull a Clark Griswold this Christmas—be smart and be safe by following our guide to safely putting up holiday decorations in, around, and outside your home.

8 Holiday Décor Dos and Don’ts

When putting up your Christmas decorations this year:

  • DO keep pets away from Christmas trees—Christmas trees are irresistible to pets, especially cats. They love nothing more than to climb their way to the top, knocking off ornaments and lights in the process—and sometimes, they even topple the entire tree itself. To keep your pets away from your Christmas tree, make sure the lower branches aren’t easily reached from the floor and that the tree isn’t positioned to close to furniture. In addition, avoid hanging shiny ornaments near the bottom, as they can attract pets’ attention.
  • DO anchor your Christmas tree—Small children are another source of potential Christmas tree-related disasters. Anchoring your tree helps keep it upright even when “outside forces” push or pull it in a direction it shouldn’t go. Enclosing the area around your tree with a safety gate can also keep small children away from it, protecting them and your tree.
  • DO test your ladder before hanging lights or wreaths—Hanging Christmas lights and wreaths outdoors completes the look of any home during the holidays, but it’s not a job for anyone with a fear of heights—or an unsteady and unreliable ladder. Always test your ladder to make sure it’s suitable for hanging lights and wreaths before you climb to the top, and always secure it on level, steady ground. Having someone hold the ladder can also improve your stability and safety.
  • DO burn candles sparingly—The scent of holiday candles can be the finishing touch on a Christmas wonderland of a home, but candles are a major fire hazard. Light candles sparingly, and never in more than one room at a time to avoid losing track of them. In addition, keep lit candles away from the reach of small children and pets, and be sure to thoroughly extinguish matches and used candles before throwing them away.
  • DO keep cords and cables away from walkways—Whether indoors or outdoors, make sure your walkways, including hallways and sidewalks, are free from loose or hanging cables and wires. Cords can be major trip hazards for your family and your holiday guests. However, take care to not twist, kink, or crush cords when moving them out of the way, as doing so can damage wiring and even create a fire hazard risk.
  • DON’T buy the cheapest lights you can find—You can find Christmas lights everywhere nowadays, including supermarkets, drug stores, discount stores, and even thrift stores. And while it may seem that all Christmas lights are the same, there’s often a huge difference in quality, reliability, and safety among different brands. Cut-rate Christmas lights are not only dimmer and more likely to burn out than higher-quality lights, but they also may pose greater risks to you, your loved ones, and your home due to inferior wiring. Make sure any lights you purchase have the UL Listing Mark to ensure fire safety.
  • DON’T buy small/glass ornaments and decorations if you have kids or pets—Ornaments are an essential part of decorating a Christmas tree, but they can also be one of the most dangerous parts of holiday décor. That’s because many ornaments are small enough to be choking hazards for children and pets. In addition, glass ornaments can be dangerous as they can shatter if they fall off trees, creating a risk of cuts or ingested glass.
  • DON’T let your tree dry out—Synthetic trees can be reused year after year, but there’s something about the smell of a live tree that makes the extra preparation and setup time worth it. However, when buying a tree, be sure to pick one that was recently cut and that still retains moisture. When setting a live Christmas tree up in your home, keep it far from heat sources, including radiators, space heaters, and even warm lights that might cause your tree to catch fire. Finally, keep your tree watered, and be sure to dispose of it promptly when it begins to dry out.

Christmas Décor-Related Injury? You Need a Lawyer on Your Side.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know that injuries can happen anytime and anyplace. Whether you’re driving to the store to buy Christmas decorations, or you’re at home putting them up, someone else’s negligence can cause you to suffer a serious injury.

And when that happens, our California personal injury lawyers are here to help. We know what it takes to get maximum compensation for injured victims, and we’re here to make sure you get paid. Contact us today for a free consultation.