What Are Contingency Fees?

by Staff Blogger | February 26th, 2024

If you’re considering legal action in a personal injury case, you might encounter the concept of contingency fees. This arrangement means your personal injury lawyer only gets paid if your case is successfully resolved, earning a predetermined percentage of your final settlement amount.

This arrangement means you don’t need to worry about upfront legal fees. It’s a practical option if you’re concerned about the costs of legal representation, and it creates a shared-risk situation where your lawyer’s motivation is directly tied to your success in the case.

Learn more about how contingency fees work at Berg Injury Lawyers, helping you get skilled legal help for your personal injury case.

How Contingency Fees Work

Contingency fees are a sign-now, pay-later payment model for legal services. When you hire a lawyer with this arrangement, their fee includes their time and experience. This fee is a set percentage of your settlement or award, ensuring all necessary legal work is covered without upfront costs.

If your case is successful, these fees will be deducted from the final settlement or award. If not, you generally owe nothing. This makes it a low-risk option for those needing legal counsel but not immediately available funds.

Always ensure you understand the specific terms and percentage, as it may vary from one lawyer or firm to another.

Benefits and Considerations

There are several benefits to using an attorney who works on a contingency fee arrangement, including:

  • Reduced financial risk. You do not need to pay upfront fees with a contingency agreement. This reduces the financial risk associated with pursuing a lawsuit. If the case is unsuccessful, you typically won’t owe attorney fees.
  • Access to legal representation. Contingency fees provide access to experienced legal counsel for individuals who may not have the means to pay hourly rates or retain an attorney on a traditional fee basis. This is especially important in personal injury cases, where you may already be dealing with medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Motivated attorneys. Since they only get paid if you win your case, your attorneys are highly motivated to secure the best possible outcome. It also means they likely won’t take on your case if there isn’t a reasonable chance of a favorable settlement. This often means more dedicated and effective legal representation.

Despite these benefits, you may have concerns or misconceptions about contingency fees — for example, the possibility of hidden costs. Even under this arrangement, you may be responsible for court filing fees, document request fees, or postage and copying fees if your case is unsuccessful.

However, your attorney should provide you with a clear and transparent contract before you use their services. This contract outlines the specifics of the fee arrangement, including the percentage the attorney will take from any settlement or award if they win the case, as well as any potential costs or fees you might be responsible for if the case does not succeed.

Contingency Fees and Additional Charges in California

In California, contingency fees are subject to regulations and ethical guidelines set by the State Bar of California. The California State Bar mandates that attorneys may not charge unreasonable or excessive fees. It also outlines that any fees must reflect the services performed and require informed consent from the client before charging.

However, these percentages can vary based on the case’s complexity and other factors.

For instance, a straightforward car accident claim might be at the lower end of this range since it may not require extensive investigation or expert witnesses.

Complex medical malpractice cases may warrant a greater percentage of contingency fees. This increase reflects the complexity of the case and the necessity for additional resources such as medical experts, extensive records retrieval, and thorough research.

This variability ensures that the fee structure is adaptable to the unique demands of each case.

Find Affordable Legal Representation

Contingency fees make legal representation accessible to all personal injury victims, especially those facing financial hardship after an accident. If you’re concerned about legal fees, speak with our experienced team at Berg Injury Lawyers.

Our personal injury lawyers are committed to providing transparent and compassionate representation. Contact us today for a free consultation. We can explain our contingency fee structure and help you get started on your case.

The Most Important Evidence to Gather After a Truck Accident

by Staff Blogger | February 19th, 2024

Accidents with semi-trucks are among the most severe you can experience. These large trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and cause catastrophic damage to your vehicle and to your physical health.

Collecting the right evidence after a large truck crash can help you prove fault and hold the trucking company responsible for your damages. This can include pictures, black box data, and witness testimony that supports your claim.

Learn the most important evidence to gather for your truck accident case and how our California truck accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can use our resources and legal skills to help you collect it.

What Kinds of Evidence Do I Need?

After a truck accident, there are several pieces of evidence to collect that can help support your claim. Here’s a comprehensive list of what to gather with the help of your attorney:

  • Accident report. Obtain a copy of the police report from the accident. This report provides an objective account of the accident, including details about the parties involved, like the trucking company, driver’s name, and license plate. It may also contain the officer’s conclusion about who is at fault. Request the report by filling out the California Highway Patrol Collision Request form.
  • Detailed photographs. Capture clear images of the accident scene using your phone or a camera, emphasizing the size and positioning of the semi-truck. Include photos of the truck’s license plate, company name, and visible damage to its cargo or trailer. You can also photograph the tire marks, road conditions, and traffic signs, which can show how the accident occurred.
  • Witness information. Collect witness contact information, such as name, address, and phone number or email. Write it down or put it in your phone with their permission. Ask if they noticed anything specific about the truck’s operation, such as erratic driving, speeding, or cargo issues. This testimony can support your claim and provide insight into what caused the crash.
  • Medical documentation. Gather all documents related to your medical treatment after the crash. This includes hospital invoices, medical reports, X-rays, MRI scans, and prescriptions. These records connect your injuries to the accident, prove their severity, and provide a clear picture of your medical condition. Request your records through the hospital’s medical records department and your primary care physician, then share them with your lawyer.
  • Dashcam and surveillance footage. If available, obtain all footage of the accident, including dashcam footage, traffic camera, or surveillance video. These may have captured the truck’s movements before the accident, helping prove liability.

With the help of your attorney, contact local law enforcement agencies, nearby businesses with surveillance cameras, and relevant highway authorities to request all footage of the accident.

  • Black box data. Secure the semi-truck’s black box or Event Data Recorder (EDR) data from the vehicle. This data contains critical information, including speed, braking, and acceleration, that can help reconstruct the events leading to the accident and determine causation.

Your attorney can contact the trucking company or file a Motion to Preserve evidence to access and protect this information.

  • Electronic hour log records. Acquire the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) records as soon as possible from the truck. These records help assess compliance with hours-of-service regulations and identify potential driver fatigue issues that may have contributed to the accident.

Your lawyer can request these from the trucking company as part of your claim.

  • Trucking company information. Gather information about the trucking company, including insurance details and a history of safety violations. This can be important for understanding broader issues like company negligence or systemic safety failures.

Your legal team can communicate with the trucking company to collect this information during the investigation process.

  • Cargo records. Request information about the cargo the truck was carrying. Overloading or improper loading can contribute to accidents, affecting liability and the seriousness of your injuries.

Your attorney can obtain cargo records by contacting the trucking company’s records department or through legal discovery processes, including subpoenas and requests for the production of documents.

Evidence Gathering Tips

When gathering evidence for your case, you must move quickly to collect relevant documents, footage, and records. Our skilled attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can walk you through the evidence-gathering process and help you secure all relevant information.

Here are a few tips for gathering effective evidence:

  • Act promptly. Begin gathering evidence as soon as possible. Memories fade, and physical evidence can deteriorate over time.
  • Document everything. Keep a detailed record of events, conversations, and any relevant information. Make a digital copy of paper records and save them in a secure, cloud-based file you can easily access when needed.
  • Communicate with legal professionals. Consult with an attorney early in the process. They can guide you in evidence collection, ensuring you gather information vital to your case.
  • Preserve the evidence chain. Maintain a clear and documented chain of custody for physical evidence by recording each instance of possession and handling. This helps protect its integrity and admissibility in court.

Work With an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers

Collecting the right evidence after a serious truck accident can help you win the compensation you deserve. Our team at Berg Injury Lawyers has over four decades of experience with personal injury cases. We know what evidence to look for and how to obtain it for your claim.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We can review your medical records and the evidence you collected and start investigating your claim to get you a fair settlement.

Dealing With Renal Trauma After a Car Accident

by Staff | February 13th, 2024

Car crashes lead to serious injuries and fatalities every year. In the first half of 2023, 19,515 people died on the roads in the U.S. according to estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the National Safety Council, around 5.4 million people seek medical attention for injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents every year. In 2020 the average claim for injuries for those involved in crashes was more than $20,235, due partially to increasing medical costs.

Among the serious injuries caused by car accidents is renal trauma. The results of these injuries can be life-threatening or life-altering, such as internal bleeding, kidney failure, and lifelong medical treatment.


Renal trauma is when an exterior force injures a kidney. Although the kidneys are well protected by the ribcage and back muscles, damage to them may be caused by either blunt or penetrating trauma.

Blunt trauma is an impact that doesn’t break the skin but still causes damage to the kidney. Penetrating trauma is where the damage is caused by the object passing through the skin and entering the body.

Any kind of renal trauma may prevent a kidney from working correctly and carries the potential to be serious.

The kidney’s main purpose is to act as the body’s filter. It keeps us healthy by:

  • Regulating blood pressure and red blood cells counts
  • Removing waste through our urine
  • Maintaining fluid balance
  • Maintaining electrolyte levels

When the kidneys are damaged, these functions may be compromised, causing the body serious problems. In some cases, the accident victim may require dialysis.


The kidney is the most common injured organ in serious trauma cases. Renal blunt trauma may be caused in car accidents by an impact with any part of the vehicle’s interior, such as door handles or controls.

It may also occur when the body is jolted after being propelled forward quickly. Children are particularly vulnerable to this type of injury in a car crash.

Penetrating trauma may be caused by an object entering the body. This can be a part of the accident victim’s car, the other driver’s car, or another piece of debris involved in the crash.

Renal injuries are categorized on a 5-grade scale. Minor injuries such as bruising are grade 1. Grade 5 is the most serious, such as where the kidney is no longer connected to the body’s blood supply.


Suffering renal trauma can have an impact on your overall health. Possible symptoms of renal trauma include:

  • Painful bruising to the abdomen
  • Internal bleeding
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness, or fainting
  • Severe pain in the abdomen, made worse with movement

Treatment for minor renal injuries might include hospital rest until there is no blood in the urine. After leaving the hospital, the accident victim will have to stay alert for continued bleeding and high blood pressure.

Surgery is sometimes necessary when there’s a significant blood loss or the kidney is badly damaged. If the damage is too severe and the surgeon cannot save the kidney, they may opt to remove it.

The cost of kidney injury treatment in hospitals is substantial. A report by the Society of Hospital Medicine in 2017 found that acute kidney injury patients’ hospital costs were greater than those with heart attacks and were comparable with patients suffering from pancreatitis or strokes.

Medical costs incurred by rental trauma are a difficult financial burden at a very distressing time.


If you were injured in an auto accident, you need to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim for compensation. The information you need includes:

  • Photographs of the accident site, your injuries, and damage to the vehicles
  • The names and contact information of independent witnesses
  • The other driver’s insurance details, license number, name, and address
  • Notify your insurance company
  • Medical records from your doctor

If you have been seriously injured in the accident, you may be unable to collect this evidence yourself. When you hire a personal injury lawyer, they can gather this vital information on your behalf.


Serious injuries like renal trauma can cause severe and ongoing financial problems for accident victims. You need California car accident lawyers to protect your legal rights so you can receive the long-term healthcare you require without worrying about how to pay for it.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers to arrange a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. With our No Fee Guarantee®, you don’t pay any legal fees unless you win your case. Learn how we can help you recover the damages you are entitled to for your injuries.

Originally published December 27, 2021.

The 5 Most Common Types of Bicycle Injuries (and How to Avoid Them)

by cjadmin | February 12th, 2024

With the increasing popularity of cycling for transportation and as a recreational activity, riders need to be aware of its potential risks. California, in particular, has seen a surge in cycling enthusiasts, but with it, an increase in accidents.

Our detailed guide offers insights into common bicycle injuries and their causes, along with strategies for accident prevention. If you are injured in a bicycle accident, contact a California bike accident lawyer to help you recover damages.

Common Bicycle Injuries

Cycling can lead to many injuries, with 38,886 bicyclists hurt in 2020 in the United States according to data from the NHTSA. As the fourth most bike-friendly state, California accounts for many of these injuries.

Here are the most common bicycle injuries, their causes and risk factors, and common scenarios you might encounter:

Type of InjuryCausesRisk FactorsCommon ScenariosSafety Measures
Accidents Involving Motor VehiclesCollisions with cars, trucks, or other motor vehicles, often at intersections or driveways.Riding on busy roads, lack of dedicated bike lanes, riding in a vehicle’s blind spot.Being hit from behind at a stop sign, side collisions when a vehicle turns across a bike lane.Use bike lights and reflective clothing, follow traffic rules, avoid riding in blind spots, use hand signals.
FallsLosing balance due to slippery surfaces, sudden stops, or incorrect maneuvering.Riding on wet, icy, or uneven terrain, inexperienced riders, mechanical failures.Slipping on wet roads, falling over due to a sudden stop or obstacle, mechanical issues causing falls.Wear a helmet, use non-slip pedals, keep the bike in good condition, avoid sudden maneuvers.
Overuse InjuriesRepetitive strain injuries due to prolonged riding, improper bike fit or posture.Long-duration rides without breaks, poor ergonomic bike setup, lack of conditioning.Developing wrist, knee, or back pain after long rides, numbness due to poor saddle position.Regularly adjust bike fit, take frequent breaks, use ergonomic accessories, condition muscles.
Collisions with PedestriansUnexpected movements by pedestrians, such as stepping into a bike lane without looking.Riding in crowded urban areas, inattentive pedestrians, high foot traffic zones.Pedestrians suddenly stepping onto bike paths, collisions in crosswalks or sidewalks.Stay alert in crowded areas, slow down in pedestrian zones, use a bell or horn to alert pedestrians.
Road HazardsEncountering potholes, uneven roads, debris, or other obstacles in the path.Poorly maintained roads, inadequate road signage, lack of visibility.Cyclist swerving to avoid a pothole and losing control, crashing due to hitting unexpected road debris.Watch for road hazards, use lights in low visibility, avoid distractions, maintain a safe speed.

Importance of Safety Gear and Equipment

Always wear the appropriate gear when riding a bicycle in California, and ensure your bike has the right safety equipment. This includes the following:

  • Helmets. Mandated by state law for those under 18, all bicyclists should wear a helmet to protect their heads when riding. The helmet should meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards, per CA Vehicle Code 21212(a).
  • Padded gloves. Wear padded gloves to improve your grip, cushion your hands during long rides, and offer protection in case of falls.
  • Padded cycling shorts. Consider padded cycling shorts for increased comfort on the saddle. They help reduce friction and prevent chafing, especially on longer journeys.
  • High-visibility clothing. Wear bright or reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to motorists, especially at dawn, dusk, or night, to improve your safety on the road.
  • Appropriate eyewear. Use sunglasses or clear protective lenses to shield your eyes from the sun’s glare, wind, and airborne debris.
  • Elbow and knee pads. Elbow and knee pads can prevent serious injuries during falls, especially in areas with rough concrete or uneven surfaces.
  • Proper footwear. Wear closed-toe shoes with a firm sole for better pedal grip and better control and to protect your feet from injuries.
  • Brake, handlebars, lights. Per CA Vehicle Code 21201, your bike needs a skid-capable brake and handlebars at a safe height. For night riding, it needs a front white light visible from 300 feet, rear red reflector or light visible from 500 feet, pedal reflectors visible from 200 feet, and side reflectors or reflectorized tires.

General Tips: Responsible Biking Practices

Cyclists can minimize their risk by practicing road awareness and responsible biking practices. This includes the following:

  • Always ride in the same direction as the traffic flow.
  • Use hand signals to indicate turns and stops.
  • Stay alert and avoid distractions like headphones or phones.
  • Yield the right-of-way when required and be courteous to other road users.
  • Use designated bicycle lanes if available.
  • Give yourself enough distance from parked cars to avoid dooring.
  • Attend bicycle safety courses to improve riding skills.

Consult an Attorney if You’re Hurt in a Bicycle Accident

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, don’t wait to get the help you need. Reach out to our experienced attorneys today to protect your rights and start your journey toward recovery.

We can use all that we’ve learned in our more than 40 years of experience to review your case and help you get a fair settlement to pay for your damages. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Liability When Improper Lane Changes Cause Truck Accidents

by Staff Blogger | February 7th, 2024

According to California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22107, drivers must confirm that moving from one lane to another is safe and warn nearby road users sufficiently. The at-fault party may be liable for property damages and other injuries if an accident occurs.

Occasionally, it may be challenging to identify the at-fault party. At first glance, the driver changing lanes is the most likely culprit. However, it is possible that both drivers were merging into the same lane simultaneously. In these cases, blind spots or wide turns can cause an accident rather than a lane change.

Whatever the situation, if someone you know gets injured in an improper lane change accident involving a truck, they may be able to recover damages with the help of an attorney. If you live in the Modesto area or anywhere in Northern California, a Modesto personal injury lawyer from our team can help.

In this article, we’ll provide information that may help victims understand improper lane changes, what causes them, and how to pursue compensation.

What Is an Improper Lane Change in California?

The law referenced above governs unsafe movements by vehicles between lanes. Under the law, each driver is responsible for ensuring that any steering or merging maneuvers they perform do not endanger other drivers or pedestrians.

Simply put, it is illegal in California to change lanes without taking necessary precautions.

Motorists can receive tickets for this traffic violation and may have to pay fines and court fees if convicted. Even worse, if the driver caused harm to another person, they may have to compensate the victim for their injuries.

What Constitutes Improper Lane Change in California? 

Although every motorist should know the law and the dangers of unsafe road practices, what factors might cause them to change lanes improperly?

  • Not Signaling Before Leaving Their Lanes
    Failure to signal before turning puts other drivers at risk since they’ll have no way of adjusting their driving to accommodate them as they change lanes.
  • Not Warning Other Motorists Before Merging Left or Right
    Signaling is not enough to adequately warn other motorists before changing lanes. Motorists need ample time to react to potential hazards. It may take up to a second or more for another driver to register the movement and apply their brakes. Truck drivers must allow adequate time for others to notice them and their intentions before executing the lane change.
  • Failing To Check That They Have Enough Room Before Changing Lanes
    Depending on the vehicle’s size, the driver may need a little or a lot of space to change lanes.
  • Abruptly Slowing Down After Entering a New Lane
    Other drivers may not anticipate that you plan to slow down after changing lanes. They may maintain their current speed and end up crashing into you.
  • Making Accidental Lane Changes Due to Distraction or Exhaustion
    Drivers may unwittingly drift into nearby lanes because they are too tired or distracted to concentrate on their steering.
  • Signaling Too Late
    It makes no sense for a truck driver to signal when the other car is already ahead of their taillights. Thus, the other driver will not see the warning.
  • Swerving Between Lanes or Lane Hopping
    As a rule, drivers should stay in one lane as much as possible. If drivers constantly hop from one lane to another, their risk of causing an accident increases.

How Do Lane Changes Affect Truck Accident Liability?

Insurance adjusters will consider improper lane changes and other traffic offenses when determining whether to approve or deny a claim. For example, if a driver was driving under the influence, they can still claim damages if another driver improperly merged into their lane.

A capable, experienced truck accident lawyer is the best person to handle these complex accident analyses. Rather than denying that Driver A was under the influence, an attorney’s goal in such a case would be to prove that the second driver was still to blame for the accident.

It is also possible for both drivers to share the blame, and both claim damages in California.

Do I Need a Truck Accident Lawyer for My Claim?

Victims sometimes avoid securing legal representation due to the misconception that hiring a lawyer is too costly. However, that is not true at Berg Injury Lawyers. Victims get a free consultation and do not pay any attorney fees unless they win.

Another advantage of having our lawyers on your side is that you’ll leave the stress of the negotiations to us. You won’t have to spend time mastering any legal jargon or worry about the other party preying on your lack of legal experience.

Our lawyers fight hard for their clients. Remember, we do not get paid unless you win. We work hard to maximize the highest possible compensation for our clients’ damages in every case we build.

Liability can change significantly in truck accidents when improper lane changes are involved. Building a solid case to ensure the best possible outcome is essential, and Berg Injury Lawyers has the knowledge, experience, and skill to take on the big trucking companies.

By hiring capable injury attorney, victims can rest assured that their case is in good hands and focus on their recovery. Contact us for a free consultation to determine your eligibility for compensation.

Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim in Cases of Workplace Violence?

by Staff Blogger | February 7th, 2024

The families of victims of violence at their workplaces can sometimes file wrongful death claims against the perpetrators of these horrific crimes. Families may also pursue legal action against their deceased loved ones’ employers because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers set and enforce regulations to protect workers from acts of violence.

However, bringing legal action against an employer without the help of a lawyer is not a good idea. The employer is likely to hire a reputable attorney or a team of attorneys to do everything possible to deny your claim. By seeking legal representation to assist you, you give yourself the best chance of receiving the most compensation. If you live in the Modesto area, getting an experienced Modesto personal injury lawyer to establish a solid case on your behalf can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

This article will answer some common questions that weigh on victims and their families’ minds after fatal attacks or violent altercations at work.

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death claim is a civil case brought against a party who negligently or intentionally causes death.

Wrongful death claims differ from criminal offense cases because the state does not punish the offender. Instead, the victims’ family members and other affected parties must file wrongful death cases to receive financial compensation for their losses.

Can the Family of the Deceased File a Wrongful Death in Cases of Workplace Violence?

According to OSHA, workplace violence is “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening behavior that occurs at work.” The facts in each claim are different and depend on the specifics of the incident.

There are instances when going after an employer for an employee’s death may seem the most obvious pathway to compensation, i.e., if the death occurred due to exposure to harmful chemicals, explosions, fires, etc.

Unless the employer is the attacker, wrongful deaths resulting from workplace violence can be complicated to pursue. The employer may argue that they could never have predicted or prevented the violent event.

Family members are left to deal with grief and both financial and emotional damages. Who should be held accountable for workplace violence-related deaths? Let’s review California’s laws regarding wrongful deaths.

Code of Civil Procedure – CCP § 377.60 stipulates that a spouse, child, or other eligible dependent can file a wrongful death claim for losses caused by another’s accidental or intentional actions. This law means you have a right to pursue damages provided you can prove the defendant’s fault in the death.

Let us find out who the defendant can be in California.

Who Is to Blame for Workplace Violence in Modesto, California?

Going after the right person in a wrongful death case is the only way to receive compensation. The responsible party could be anyone, including the perpetrator or a third party.

The Perpetrator

The most prominent party to pursue is the perpetrator. The government will likely open a criminal case against an attacker who kills someone. As mentioned, such lawsuits will not order compensation for the surviving relatives’ loss. It will only punish the offender, likely through imprisonment.

A wrongful death lawyer can help families evaluate whether it makes financial sense to go after a perpetrator. They want to determine if the defendant has assets to cover the victim’s losses.

The Employer 

Although employers may argue that they had nothing to do with violent attacks, an attorney can prove that they were aware of the danger but failed to act.

Employers should establish and enforce clear workplace regulations to lower the risks of violence. OSHA also suggests that employers demonstrate a zero-tolerance response to office violence. Employers must act if they believe that something or someone poses a threat to their employees.

Consequently, if an employer fails to address concerns of violence and harassment at the workplace immediately, they may be accountable for future incidents. Negligent security measures could be counted among these failures.

A Third Party

Your attorney may find that someone other than the employer was to blame for the death.

Suppose the employer put measures in place to secure the premises, but a security guard fails to do their job. In such cases, the employer can pass accountability on to the security firm.

How Can a Modesto Wrongful Death Lawyer Help? 

Knowing who is to blame in situations of workplace violence can prove challenging. A wrongful death lawyer can assist with identifying at-fault parties.

Wrongful death claims are inherently personal. The victim’s relatives may be re-traumatized by repeatedly discussing the specifics of their loved ones’ death during negotiations with the defendant. A lawyer takes over this communication with the defendant, sparing the family additional stress.

Because lawyers are used to the complexities of wrongful death claims, they can navigate the system for the best outcome possible.

Following a wrongful death, families may be apprehensive about pursuing compensation. They may worry that they will not succeed in defending their rights.

However, with the help of an experienced attorney, victims’ loved ones can file wrongful death claims and win. At Berg Injury Lawyers, you only pay us if your case is successful. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.

Alcohol-Related Injuries at Parties: Can the Hosts be Held Accountable?

by Staff Blogger | February 7th, 2024

Many states have laws that hold party hosts responsible for accidents resulting from the consumption of alcohol. California is different. The host is generally not liable for the actions of an intoxicated party guest as long as they are of the legal drinking age. Also, in the US, hosts of social events are typically governed by more lenient laws than commercial establishments.

There are, however, exceptions where a host may be liable for first and third-party injuries. One major caveat to these exceptions is that the victim must be able to prove that the host’s actions were the primary cause of their injuries. Only a seasoned lawyer can fight for victims when the system works against them. You can find an experienced Modesto personal injury attorney at Berg Injury Lawyers.

This article explains California laws regarding alcohol-related injuries and will help point victims in the right direction.

What Does California Law Say About Alcohol-Related Injuries? 

Victims of alcohol-related accidents may feel helpless when they have to make an unwilling host own up to their negligence.

For one, California law generally protects hosts of private social gatherings. The law states that everyone is responsible for their “own actions.” Put simply, if a drunk person causes an injury, the victim may only be able to pursue legal action against that person and not the person who served them alcohol. It is very common for event hosts to deny responsibility based on this argument.

Also, “furnishing” alcohol is rarely considered the primary cause of an injury. Instead, it’s usually the consumption of the alcohol that matters.

In the case of drunk driving accidents, for example, a victim wishing to file an injury claim against the host would have to prove the host negligently over-served an already visibly intoxicated party guest. Even then, the host may argue that controlling someone else’s actions was not their responsibility. As we’ve already mentioned, however, there are some exceptions to these laws that only an attorney can work through.

Which Arguments Can Your Personal Injury Attorney Use? 

The advantage of having an attorney represent victims during settlement negotiations and litigation is that lawyers know their way around the legal system. With a skilled lawyer,injured victims may still be able to receive damages, even in cases where the odds of success seem low.

Was the Drunk Person a Minor?

The law mentioned above has one huge caveat. Responsibility shifts when the drunk person who caused injury to another is under 21 years old (California Civil Code 1714). Victims can, therefore, hold a host liable who knowingly furnished alcoholic beverages to an underage guest or family member.

Your lawyer must demonstrate that the host knowingly provided alcohol to the underage individual. The court will consider whether the host knew or should have known that the person was not of drinking age and if they failed to supervise them to prevent alcohol consumption.

Did the Social Host Charge an Entry Fee?

If your lawyer can prove that a host’s actions negate their social host immunity, you may have a case under the state’s Dram Shop Liability laws.

Although California generally does not hold bars and restaurants that serve alcohol liable for a drunk adult’s actions, they can be liable if the intoxicated person is a minor or if the person was visibly intoxicated before they decided to serve them more alcohol.

Can Premises Liability Come to the Victim’s Aid? 

If another hazard, other than alcohol, was to blame for the accident, victims may be entitled to compensation.

Picture the following scenario: A visibly intoxicated party guest loses their footing and knocks you to the ground, causing injury to you both. On the surface, the guest may appear liable. But what if, upon closer examination, you find out that the drunk guest slipped and fell because the floor was wet and slippery? In this scenario, the host may be liable.

California premises liability law requires that homeowners ensure the reasonable safety of their visitors. In a case like this, your attorney can make the homeowner pay for their failure to keep their property safe for you and other guests. Even if the homeowner believes the intoxicated guest was partially responsible for their own injury, the homeowner may still be liable for damages proportional to their contribution to the guest’s injury.

When Should Injured Victims Contact an Attorney for Alcohol-Related Injuries at Parties? 

Contacting a Modesto personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident can make a huge difference in the outcome of a victim’s claim.

Early consultation means victims still have a clear recollection of the events surrounding the accident. Witness statements are likely more reliable at the time. In addition, the evidence is fresh, and the defendant has had limited time to alter the accident scene.

It’s important to let an experienced lawyer review your case as soon as possible after your injury. You will not pay for a consultation or case review with Berg Injury Lawyers.

It can be tricky for alcohol-related injury victims to convince party hosts’ homeowners insurance companies or juries that the host’s negligence caused their injuries. But by building a solid case, it is possible.

Victims should not give up on their cases before contacting us. We offer a No Fee Guarantee®, meaning our clients will not be charged a fee for our services unless they receive compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

I Think My Medication Made Things Worse. What Should I Do Next?

by Staff Blogger | February 5th, 2024

Taking medication as directed, only to find it is making things worse, can be a worrying experience. If you follow your doctor or pharmacist’s directions but experience symptoms like headaches, rashes, or fatigue, you may wonder what to do next.

Understanding the impact of your medication on your health is crucial for your well-being. If these side effects stem from an unsafe product, an incorrectly prescribed drug, or a dosage issue, you might have grounds for a personal injury case.

Learn what steps to take if your medication worsens your condition and how a California drug injury lawyer from Berg Injury Lawyers can help.

Recognizing a Medication-Related Issue

Identifying medication-related problems starts with knowing what to look for. Here are a few signs and symptoms that may show up when you begin taking a medication:

  • Intense or rare side effects. Severe or uncommon side effects that are not typical reactions to the medication can indicate an issue.
  • Escalating or new health issues. Intensifying pre-existing symptoms or new issues like sudden joint pain or unexplained skin conditions after starting the medication.
  • Immediate allergic reactions. Symptoms such as skin rashes, facial or throat swelling, or acute breathing difficulties indicate an allergic response.
  • Pronounced mood swings. Changes in mood, such as deepening depression, heightened anxiety, unexpected irritability, or thoughts of self-harm.
  • Marked cognitive impairment. Noticeable memory lapses, confusion, or a sudden inability to focus or process information.
  • Severe digestive problems. Persistent or severe gastrointestinal issues like relentless nausea, continuous vomiting, chronic diarrhea, or ongoing constipation.
  • Drastic sleep pattern changes. Severe insomnia, sleeping far more than usual, or altering sleep-wake cycles.

Steps to Take

Should you have concerns that your medication is adversely affecting your health, it’s important to take proactive measures to address the situation, including:

  • Seek prompt medical attention. If you experience severe or life-threatening symptoms, such as allergic reactions or breathing difficulties, seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Document symptoms and health changes. Keep a detailed record of any symptoms you experience, their severity, and when they started. Note any changes in your overall health or well-being.
  • Save all medication documents. Keep all information provided by the pharmacy, such as the container, medication guide, prescription details, and labels. This information can be crucial for your healthcare provider to understand what you’ve been taking and in what dosage.
  • Contact your healthcare provider. Reach out to your healthcare provider who prescribed the medication. Schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns openly and honestly. Be prepared to share your symptom diary with them to illustrate your concerns.
  • Follow their advice. Your healthcare provider may recommend adjusting the medication dosage, changing to a different medication, or discontinuing the drug. Follow their advice and continue to communicate any changes in your condition.

Options for Medication Adjustments

If you consult your doctor regarding issues with your medication, they should attentively hear your concerns and contemplate potential adjustments. This may involve conducting a physical examination, blood tests, or other diagnostic procedures to ascertain the cause of the medication-related problem.

Based on their findings, they can make an informed adjustment to your treatment plan, which may include:

  • Dosage adjustment. Adjusting the medication’s dosage can reduce side effects while preserving its therapeutic effects. Your healthcare provider will assist you with the proper dosage modifications.
  • Switching to an alternative medication. If the side effects are unbearable, or if the current medication isn’t effective, your healthcare provider might suggest transitioning to an alternative medication that offers similar therapeutic advantages but with fewer side effects.
  • Tapering off medication. Some medications require a gradual reduction in dosage rather than abrupt discontinuation to prevent withdrawal symptoms or potential rebound effects. Your healthcare provider can develop a tapering schedule if necessary.
  • Exploring non-pharmacological alternatives. Depending on your condition, your healthcare provider might suggest non-pharmacological treatments or lifestyle modifications that can complement or replace medication.

Speak to an Attorney About Your Medication Injuries

If you believe that your health has been negatively affected due to medication errors or a defective drug, you may need legal assistance to protect your rights and seek compensation. Our defective product attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can review your medical records and the medication’s safety and dosage information to determine if you have a case.

Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your situation and explore your legal options.

How Expert Witnesses Can Impact Wrongful Death Cases

by Staff Blogger | January 22nd, 2024

Wrongful death cases are complex legal matters that rely on subtle details and thorough legal arguments. These cases arise when a person’s death is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another party, leaving the bereaved family seeking justice and compensation for their loss.

In this emotionally and legally challenging situation, expert witnesses can offer specialized insights that influence the outcome of your case. Their testimony often clarifies complex issues and helps establish liability, causation, and damages.

Our California wrongful death attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can use expert witness testimony to support your wrongful death claim and help you receive compensation for the death of your loved one.

What Is a Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death case is a legal action taken by the survivors of an individual who has died due to the wrongful act, negligence, or misconduct of another. These cases originate from various incidents, including medical malpractice, car accidents, workplace accidents, or slip and fall injuries.

They allow the family to receive compensation for funeral expenses, loss of companionship or guidance, and medical costs related to the decedent’s care.

The complexity of these cases often lies in proving that the defendant’s actions caused the death and determining the appropriate compensation for the survivors’ loss. Expert witnesses help establish these connections by reviewing evidence and offering insights based on their training, background, and experience in their field.

Types of Expert Witnesses

In wrongful death cases, several types of expert witnesses may be called upon to provide their specialized knowledge. These experts help construct a comprehensive understanding of the incident, contributing to a stronger case for the plaintiff or a solid defense for the accused.

  • Medical experts: Medical experts are often essential in wrongful death cases, especially those involving medical malpractice or complicated health-related issues. These experts provide insights into whether proper medical standards were followed and if negligence contributed to the death. They help establish a clear link between the defendant’s actions and the death.
  • Accident reconstruction specialists: In car accidents or workplace incidents, accident reconstruction specialists use their expertise to recreate the circumstances of the incident. They often use physical evidence and scientific principles to determine the cause and sequence of events leading to the fatality.
  • Forensic pathologists: Forensic pathologists help determine the exact cause of death. Their analysis can identify whether the death was a direct result of the defendant’s actions or if other factors were involved. This testimony establishes a causal link between the defendant’s actions and the death.
  • Economists: Economists are often called upon to assess the financial impact of the death on the surviving family members. They calculate the loss of income, benefits, and other financial contributions the deceased would have provided based on numerical data from employment or tax records. This helps determine the appropriate amount of compensation for the family.

Selecting and Qualifying Expert Witnesses

The plaintiff and defendant are responsible for selecting and qualifying expert witnesses in legal proceedings. The qualification process includes guidelines in California Evidence Code 720:

  • Assessing the expert’s educational background and area of specialization
  • Evaluating their professional experience and practical expertise
  • Examining any previous publications or research contributions
  • Reviewing their history of prior testimony or legal involvement

Once an expert is qualified, the approach to presenting their testimony varies between plaintiffs and defendants. Plaintiffs often leverage expert testimony to solidify the foundational aspects of their case, like demonstrating causation or quantifying damages. This is done by gathering the expert’s detailed analysis to reinforce their arguments in a deposition or live testimony.

Defendants frequently engage expert witnesses to challenge or debunk the plaintiff’s assertions. Their focus might be on questioning the accuracy or methodology of the plaintiff’s expert findings, offering different interpretations or conclusions.

The impact of expert testimony often depends on the expert’s skill in clearly and effectively communicating complex concepts. Effective expert witnesses combine easy-to-understand presentation skills with in-depth technical expertise.

Real-Life Wrongful Death Case Examples

The following case examples demonstrate the impact of expert testimony on the outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit. They provide insight into various scenarios where the involvement of expert witnesses played a pivotal role.

Nicholas S. Cohen v. Lake Worth Enterprise, LLC et al.

In this case, the expert witnesses helped determine a favorable outcome for the deceased’s family. The plaintiff’s experts in urology and nursing testified that Michelle Cohen’s death from complications related to a urinary tract infection could have been prevented with earlier treatment.

They argued that the nursing staff at Oasis Health and Rehabilitation Center failed to investigate and treat her symptoms properly, leading to her death. The defense’s geriatrics expert argued the facility acted appropriately.

Ultimately, the jury sided with the plaintiff, awarding $1,758,230 in damages, thanks to the expert’s testimony highlighting the negligence in Cohen’s care and treatment.

Kelli A. Andrews v. Jeffrey Gelfand, M.D. et al.

In this wrongful death case, expert testimony was crucial in securing a $1.9 million verdict for the plaintiffs. The case centered on Dr. Gelfand’s failure to diagnose and treat William Andrews for deep vein thrombosis, leading to his death from a pulmonary embolism.

The plaintiff’s experts in critical care, orthopedic surgery, and internal medicine, along with an economics expert, provided key insights into Mr. Andrews’ medical condition and the financial impact of his death. These experts argued that proper risk assessment and treatment could have prevented the fatal embolism.

Despite a mistrial in the first trial, the retrial resulted in a unanimous jury verdict favoring the plaintiffs. This was influenced by the compelling arguments and evidence presented by their expert witnesses.

Expert Testimony: A Decisive Factor in Wrongful Death Case Verdicts

In wrongful death cases, expert witnesses are more than just informative voices; they are crucial contributors to the pursuit of justice and compensation. Their testimonies provide the technical base needed to support or challenge the key elements of these complex and emotionally charged cases.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one due to another’s negligence, contact our wrongful death attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyer today. We can meet with you during a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.

Who Is it at Fault for a Lane-Change Collision?

by Staff | January 16th, 2024

Determining liability is not always straightforward in a lane-change collision. You’ll need to know which California laws apply to unsafe lane changes. You must also understand what factors are at play when establishing liability for a collision during a lane change.

One of our experienced California car accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you determine fault in your case after a serious lane-change car accident so you can receive a fair settlement for your losses.

What are California’s Laws for Unsafe Lane Changes?

California vehicle law prohibits drivers from making unsafe lane changes. According to this law, drivers can move left to right or turn from the main roadway when it’s safe to do so and after signaling their intentions to other cars. Drivers are required to signal at least 100 feet before turning left or right.

No driver can suddenly stop or reduce the speed of their vehicle without first giving a signal. If a driver cannot use the turn signals in their vehicle, they should use the appropriate hand signals to indicate when they are changing lanes left or right or when they are stopping or decelerating the speed of their vehicle.

What Causes a Lane-Change Collision?

A collision might occur if a driver underestimates the space between two vehicles. If the driver fails to merge properly on a roadway after stopping or yielding, they can collide with another vehicle.

A lane-change collision can also be caused by:

  • Merging too slowly onto a lane compared to ongoing traffic
  • Speeding up to make a lane change
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Crossing multiple lanes at once
  • Bypassing other traffic to change lanes
  • Not checking side mirrors before merging
  • Changing lanes without checking blind spots
  • Low visibility from weather conditions like fog or heavy rain

Other situations can hold a driver liable for a lane-change collision. According to the Insurance Information Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these factors play a role in fatal collisions:

  • Driving over the posted speed limits
  • Alcohol or drugs
  • Refusal to yield right of way
  • Inability to stay in the proper lane
  • Reckless driving
  • Distracted driving

How Are Drivers Found to Be at-Fault for Lane-Change Collisions?

In a lane-change collision, the court will examine various evidence to determine who is at fault. This can be determined in multiple ways, including:

  • Witness testimony
  • Dashcam video footage
  • Black box or electronic data recording of the car’s speed and brakes at the time of the accident
  • Data of text messages or calls made by the driver while driving
  • Pictures of the damage to vehicles and the scene of the accident
  • Police report that includes all the details of the accident, including the road and weather conditions
  • Test results for alcohol, drugs, or blood
  • Traffic camera footage

What About California’s Negligence Laws?

Liability issues often complicate lane-change accidents. Even though the other driver may share some blame for the accident, the court may also examine your role in the accident based on evidence. You might be held liable if the other car changed lanes in front of you while you were texting.

This type of situation falls under the comparative negligence rule in California. If the court finds you were partially at fault for the accident, your share of fault will reduce the settlement amount. Furthermore, if a driver violates a statute, they are presumed to be “negligent per se” under California law. If a driver makes an unsafe lane change, they are negligent per se since the act violates a California vehicle law.

Contact the Accident Attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers

Talk with an experienced car accident attorney who can help you get answers to your questions about fault and damages after a collision caused by changing lanes. A car accident lawyer at Berg Injury Lawyers can investigate the facts of your case and work to protect your rights while helping you increase your chances for financial compensation.

Contact our legal team at Berg Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We can evaluate your case and let you know the best course of action in the future to ensure that you get the best outcome possible.

Originally published November 15, 2021.