October 17th, 2022|
In a car accident, fault is applied to the person who caused the accident. They may have been driving recklessly, had a mechanical issue, or hydroplaned on a rainy day. Whatever caused the accident, the person at fault is responsible for reimbursing the other party’s expenses.
A car accident is a stressful and confusing event, even more so if you’re partially responsible. Discover what happens if you are at fault in a car accident in California and how the experienced team at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you reduce your liability.
How Does a No-Fault Accident Differ from an At-Fault Accident?
In a no-fault accident, neither party’s insurance is responsible for covering the costs of a car accident. Instead, both parties are reimbursed by their insurance companies, typically through Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
In an at-fault accident, the party deemed responsible for the collision is liable for covering the other party’s expenses, including medical bills and property damage. In an at-fault state, the negligent party’s insurance company agrees on a settlement with the injured party. Once paid, the claim is complete, and neither side can file another claim or lawsuit regarding the accident.
Who Pays for Car Damage in a No-Fault State?
Most PIP policies in no-fault states cover personal injury or liability costs, like medical bills, lost wages, or funeral expenses. However, PIP insurance does not pay for damage to property or vehicles. Instead, you must purchase separate car insurance, or uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, to cover potential damages to your vehicle.
Is California an At-Fault State for Car Accidents?
California is an at-fault state, so the party responsible for the car accident is liable for the other driver’s damages. For instance, if you total someone’s car and are determined to be at fault, your insurance will reimburse that person for the cost of their car and any related bills they received.
California requires motorists to purchase minimum liability insurance to cover these costs. According to the CA DMV, you must carry a policy with the following coverages:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person
- $5,000 for damage to property
What Determines Fault in a Car Accident in California?
California determines fault according to the circumstances of the accident. Depending on your case, fault may be determined by the insurance company, a judge, or a jury. The state uses pure comparative negligence, a doctrine that allows one party to win damages even if they both bear liability for an accident and recover compensation.
For example, if the insurance company finds you 70% at fault for an accident, you can win damages, but they will be reduced by 70%. If the other party files a claim against you, your percentage of fault determines how much your insurance pays for the settlement.
Working with a skilled car accident attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers can help you prove the other party’s fault in the collision and minimize your liability.
Do Police Reports Determine Fault for a Car Accident?
Police reports alone do not determine fault for a car accident but can influence an insurance company or jury’s decision. Most insurers require them and use the information in the report to come to a settlement offer.
When determining fault, insurance companies evaluate multiple pieces of evidence, including the police report. The report is often the first official record of the accident, and the officer may include who they believe is at fault. However, police reports can be incorrect or incomplete, so insurance companies may not rely on them if other evidence doesn’t match the report.
How Does Insurance Decide Who Is At Fault in a Car Accident in California?
In California, car insurance companies review multiple pieces of evidence to determine who is at fault for a crash. This evidence can include:
- The police report
- Testimony from both parties and eyewitnesses
- Damage to the vehicles
- Relevant traffic tickets
- Photos of the crash scene
- Medical reports
- Other evidence of the scene, e.g. damage to nearby structures
The insurance companies then decide who is at fault based on their review of the evidence. For example, if you rear-ended someone and two bystanders reported that you were using your phone, the evidence would point to you being at fault.
How Does Car Insurance Work When You Are At Fault?
California law requires liability insurance for all drivers. If insurance determines you’re at fault for the accident, your insurance will pay the other driver’s damages. Liability insurance only covers the other party’s damages, so your insurance will only cover your car and injuries if you have a collision coverage policy or Medical Payments Insurance, sometimes called MedPay.
Can I Be Taken to Court for a Car Accident?
Someone who suffered a serious injury, lost a loved one, or was unable to work because of an accident you caused can take you to court for restitution.
If you receive a summons, you must inform your insurance and contact a car accident lawyer to represent you in court.
Speak with Berg Injury Lawyers Today
If you were in an auto accident where you are partially at fault, contact an experienced auto accident attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers. We can review your case to determine your level of responsibility and help you reduce liability.
If you’re being taken to court, an experienced attorney can provide you with a strong defense against the opposing party to mitigate your percentage of fault. Schedule a free initial consultation with Berg Injury Lawyers today to discuss your case and determine your legal options.
October 10th, 2022|
While riding a bike is a healthy, eco-friendly mode of transportation, sharing the road with cars can be dangerous, especially in the urban cities of California. Since the body of a car isn’t designed to protect cyclists, they are at far higher risk of serious injury or death if they collide with a vehicle.
A bicycle accident can cause physical, emotional, and financial distress. Seeking legal representation can help you gain restitution to get back on your feet. The personal injury attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers are familiar with the nuances of California traffic law and can help you receive compensation for your injuries.
California Accident Statistics and Facts
California’s streets have a bad reputation among cyclists. Data collected by the University of California Berkeley showed 48,370 bike crashes in California between 2017 and 2021, of which 775 proved deadly. LA County alone reported 14,999 bike crashes during those four years, placing it at the top of the list.
Multiple factors make the streets of California riskier for cyclists. While the Golden State has seen successful growth of bike-share programs, many cities lack separate bike lanes, forcing cyclists to share the roads with drivers traveling at high speeds. Oversized cars with larger blind spots and increased rates of distracted driving also put cyclists at greater risk.
Bicycle Fatalities Statistics
Fatal accidents with cyclists are a nationwide problem. In 2020, nationwide research published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed:
- 22% of fatal cyclist accidents happened between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., while 18% occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight.
- 68% of cyclist fatalities occurred at non-intersections.
- Cyclists under 20 are more likely to be killed on minor roads, while cyclists over 20 are more likely to be killed on major roads.
- 57% of cyclists killed in accidents were not wearing helmets. Helmet use was indeterminable for an additional 25%.
- 18% of victims had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.
How Common Are Bike Fatalities in California?
Bike fatalities are worryingly frequent in California. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, California had the second-highest cyclist fatality numbers in the nation (after Florida) in 2020, with 129 deaths. In California, 3.4% of all road fatalities are bicyclists. In 2019, the state’s Office of Transportation Safety recorded 133 cyclist deaths.
Staying Safe While Cycling in California
A bicycle collision can have devastating impacts on everyone involved, especially the cyclist. Adhering to California’s road laws and following basic safety precautions reduces your risk of an accident and ultimately minimizes the chance of being held liable. Some important things to remember when biking in California include:
- Wear a helmet. While California law only requires anyone under 18 to wear helmets, adults are still at risk and can benefit greatly from helmet use.
- Attach lights and reflectors to your bike to ensure you’re visible to vehicles.
- Where possible, bike during the day, outside of rush hour.
- Stay in designated bike lanes if available, and plan your route ahead of time to maximize bike-lane use.
- Bike on roads with lower speed limits.
- Keep your bike maintained.
- Limit or avoid bike modifications.
- Avoid cycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
When Should You Get a Lawyer for a Bicycle Accident?
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in a bicycle accident because of a negligent driver, hiring a lawyer can help you receive compensation for medical bills and lost wages. Consider speaking to a bicycle accident attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers immediately after a collision so we can assess your case and discuss your legal options.
If you are involved in an accident where a driver sues you for negligent behavior, such as not following California’s bike laws and causing a collision, speak with a bicycle accident lawyer to represent your interests and minimize your potential liability.
Do I Need a Lawyer After a Bicycle Accident?
No matter the circumstances of your accident, you can benefit from the legal services of an experienced attorney with Berg Injury Lawyers. Our legal team understands California’s bicycle accident laws and knows how to negotiate with insurance companies to help you reach a fair settlement.
Schedule a consultation for a free case review today with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate bicycle accident lawyers.
October 4th, 2022|
Slipping and falling at your apartment can be a challenging situation to handle because several factors go into determining who is at fault for your injury. Our slip and fall attorneys in Sacramento can simplify the process of seeking compensation if you believe that your landlord was responsible for your fall.
When Is a Landlord Liable for an Injury to a Tenant?
Landlords generally have somewhat different responsibilities as far as protecting current tenants and those that have not yet signed a lease.
Before Giving Possession to a Tenant
Landlords are responsible for inspecting apartments and making any necessary repairs prior to showing the apartment to a prospective tenant. Failing to do so will often make the landlord liable for any falls or other injuries a prospective tenant experiences while visiting an apartment. In addition, landlords will generally be liable for any injuries that prospective tenants or new tenants that do not yet have possession of an apartment experience elsewhere on the property if they knew about and failed to correct the issue.
After Giving Possession to a Tenant
Once a tenant has possession of a property, they become responsible for the majority of potential causes of falls and other injuries within their own apartments. Although landlords should generally make repairs within a tenant’s apartment once the tenant brings a problem to the landlord’s attention, landlords are typically not expected to be aware of issues in private areas that they are not told about. Known issues are expected to be found and fixed before the tenant moves in, and many new issues that arise after this time are the tenant’s fault and unknown to the landlord. This means that landlords are usually not liable for most injuries that occur within an apartment, although they may still be liable for negligence-related injuries that result from problems they knew existed in public areas.
Is a Landlord Liable for an Injury to a Third Party?
Your landlord’s responsibility for maintaining a reasonably safe property extends to your friends, family members, and any third party guests that visit your building. Guests that are injured can sue your landlord for an injury that is the clear result of negligence, even if they do not live there. Like tenants, third party guests that are injured on your landlord’s property need to be able to provide sufficient evidence that the landlord knew about the unsafe conditions that caused the injury and neglected to correct the problem within a reasonable amount of time.
This means that most slip and fall injuries that occur within your actual apartment are more likely to be your fault or your guest’s fault than your landlord’s. However, certain falls in parking lots, stairwells, common areas, and other public areas of your building may qualify as negligence and give a third party a reasonable chance of proving that your landlord is liable for the injury.
What Happens If a Landlord Gives Maintenance Responsibilities to an Independent Contractor?
Many landlords hire an independent contractor to handle any maintenance needs associated with the property instead of doing all the work themselves, particularly if they own multiple properties. While this option can save a significant amount of time for landlords, they should still be diligent about visiting each property they own regularly to ensure that this individual or company is doing a thorough job because they can still be held liable for many types of injuries that may occur on their properties.
Responsibility for making sure that the property is safe enough to avoid injuries that are the result of negligence still falls on the owner of the property, regardless of who is actually supposed to be doing the work. This means that tenants can still sue a landlord for injuries to themselves or their guests that are the result of negligence, even if the independent contractor is the reason a known unsafe condition has not been repaired in a timely manner.
Are Liability Waivers Binding?
Under most circumstances, liability waivers are a more effective means of convincing an injured tenant not to sue a landlord in the first place than they are of actually protecting the landlord from a negligence lawsuit. Although your landlord may have included a liability waiver in your lease and may claim that this waiver means you will automatically be unsuccessful in suing them if you are injured, these waivers are generally much less binding than your landlord may want you to believe. Your landlord may genuinely, but mistakenly, believe that a waiver is all they need to ensure that they cannot be held responsible for any injuries that occur on their property, but they may also use the existence of this waiver to intentionally mislead tenants.
Injuries that result from clear negligence on your landlord’s part are different from injuries that were your fault or an obvious accident that is clearly no one’s fault, and these waivers or clauses typically will not be enforced if you decide to take legal action against your landlord. This means that you should not allow any threats or coercion from your landlord to convince you not to attempt to obtain compensation as long as there is sufficient evidence available that you or your guest was injured as a result of the landlord’s negligence. Experienced Sacramento slip and fall attorneys can help you navigate the process of determining where the rights of your landlord may think they have ended if they interfere with yours.
What Types of Damages Can Be Claimed in a Slip and Fall Accident Case?
Tenants that are injured as the result of a slip and fall accident that is connected to a landlord’s negligence can sue for compensatory damages. This means that you may be able to obtain financial compensation from your landlord for a variety of problems that result from your injury, such as medical or physical therapy bills, lost wages, and changes to your future work capabilities. Scarring, pain, and other types of non-financial results of your injury may also qualify for financial compensation if negligence is determined to be the primary cause.
Do Not Hesitate to Contact a Sacramento Slip and Fall Attorney
After a consultation with our slip and fall attorneys Sacramento residents can rest assured that Berg Injury Lawyers can help you navigate the complex process of determining fault for an injury and obtaining compensation. Although results can vary depending on the specific circumstances surrounding your slip and fall injury, working with us may help you obtain a higher level of compensation than you would get without consulting an expert. Contact Berg Injury Lawyers today to learn more about how choosing our personal injury attorneys may be a good fit for your situation or to schedule a free consultation.
October 3rd, 2022|
If you’re in a car accident resulting in injuries, you may incur medical bills and repair costs for your vehicle. You may also have to take time off work to recover, leading to lost wages and financial struggles.
If the at-fault driver causes you injuries or property damage in California, you may be able to sue for damages. The amount you receive depends on various factors, such as the cost of your medical treatment and the emotional distress the accident caused.
Types of Damages in a Car Accident Claim
California law allows injured parties to recover economic damages for out-of-pocket expenses and bills. These damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Job loss
- Repair or replacement costs
- Household help expenses
Non-economic damages may also be recoverable for personal hardships resulting from your injuries. A few of the damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Humiliation and injury to reputation
Average Car Accident Settlement Amount
The Insurance Information Institute reported that car liability claims for property damage averaged $3,841 in 2018. Liability claims for bodily injuries cost an average of $15,785.
Factors That Affect the Amount of Car Accident Settlements
Several factors determine the amount of your car accident compensation. They include:
- The at-fault driver’s insurance coverage for injuries and property damage
- The severity of your injuries and if they required extensive medical treatment
- Psychological treatment for pain and suffering you received after the accident
- Damage to your vehicle, such as a cracked windshield, personal property damaged inside the car
- The length of time you were out of work and the amount of lost income suffered during your recovery
How Car Accident Settlements Are Calculated
The insurance company and your legal team calculate your car accident settlement. Both parties examine the following elements to come to a reasonable amount:
- Expenses associated with car or property damage
- Ongoing medical expenses, including medical bills, prescriptions, and physical therapy
- Future medical bills based on your medical records and your doctor’s treatment plan
- Pain and suffering calculated using your medical records and personal statements
- Amount of lost wages and future loss wages based on your income tax returns and pay stubs before the accident
The insurance company is typically the first to calculate a settlement. They will offer you a starting amount you can accept or refuse. If the insurer tries to give you a low offer, your lawyer can help you negotiate for a higher settlement based on the circumstances of your accident.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Car Accident Settlement?
Negotiating a fair car accident settlement between your attorney and the other driver’s insurance company can take several months to over a year. A 2015 study from The National Center for State Courts found that settling a case took an average of 478 days. The time to settle your claim can vary based on your insurer’s investigation of your injury claim and calculation of your settlement.
Steps to Take to Prove You Are Not at Fault
The auto insurance company may try to reduce your settlement by saying you are partially or fully at fault for the accident. California follows pure comparative negligence to determine liability for each party involved in an accident. Your percentage of fault can reduce your damages. For instance, if you are 20% responsible for the collision, you may see a 20% reduction in the damages you receive.
The following steps are crucial in gathering evidence to reduce your liability for the accident:
- Contact the police to report the accident so that they can record the circumstances and help determine liability
- Document the accident scene, including vehicle damage, accident debris, traffic lights, and the weather
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver
- Get the contact information for witnesses who can give details about the accident
- Avoid talking about the case with anyone other than a lawyer, and avoid posting on social media
- Hire an attorney to obtain witness testimony and additional evidence like dash cam videos and surveillance footage
Discuss Your Case with a California Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident, the car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers have over 40 years of experience and can help you get fair compensation. We can evaluate your case in a free initial consultation.
Contact us today to book a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers, and let us help you get started on your case.
September 26th, 2022|
Using a seatbelt helps you stay secure in your vehicle and reduces injuries. Seatbelts saved an estimated 14,995 lives in 2017, and an additional 2,549 lives could have been saved if seatbelts had been used. In California, seatbelts are not only legally required but not wearing them can incur a fine of $162 for adults.
You can still file a personal injury claim if you were not wearing your seatbelt during a crash and suffered injuries. However, the insurance company may attempt to reduce or deny your compensation because you failed to wear a seatbelt.
An experienced San Francisco car accident lawyer from Berg Injury Lawyers can advise you of your legal rights to compensation and develop a legal strategy for your defense.
What is California’s Seatbelt Law?
California’s seatbelt law states that no driver can operate a vehicle on a highway unless everyone over 16 wears seatbelts. A highway can be any place maintained by the government that is open to the public for vehicular use. This definition includes streets, meaning all drivers and passengers must wear their seatbelts while using their vehicles.
The seatbelt law requires that the seatbelt must go around the waist. If the vehicle has shoulder straps, they should be over the shoulders. It also requires vehicle owners to keep seatbelts in good working condition, including straps, webbing, buckle, latch plate, pillar loop, and retractor.
What Is the Impact of Not Wearing a Seatbelt on Your Liability?
The insurance company’s claims adjuster will investigate the details of the accident and the severity of your injuries, so they can decide whether to offer a settlement. Unfortunately, failing to wear a seatbelt may prevent you from attaining the full compensation you deserve.
You can work with a car accident attorney who can evaluate your case and offer legal options, including taking it to court. Having a skilled lawyer on your side is essential because the insurance company may use a legal theory known as the seatbelt defense to reduce the damages in your settlement.
What is the Seatbelt Defense?
The seatbelt defense, also known as the “affirmative defense” under California court instructions, is based on the presumption that you should have been wearing your seatbelt at the time of the crash. As a result, although you were not responsible for the accident, your failure to wear a seatbelt contributed to your injuries. Just like other drivers have a legal responsibility not to harm others around them, you also have a responsibility to not put yourself in harm’s way.
A jury will assess your negligence in causing your injuries by determining:
- The availability of a working seatbelt.
- If a reasonable person could have used the seatbelt in your situation.
- Your failure to wear a seatbelt.
- If your injuries could have been less severe if you had worn your seatbelt.
Protect Your Legal Right to Financial Compensation
If the insurance company is successful in their defense, the jury can determine how much you can get in damages. The state of California relies on pure comparative fault, meaning that each party is liable for their percentage of fault in the accident, which is subtracted from their potential compensation. For instance, if you were deemed 10% at fault for your injuries, you may only recover $90,000 of $100,000.
An experienced lawyer can challenge the seatbelt defense from the insurance company. They can prove that not wearing a seatbelt wouldn’t have reduced the severity of your injuries. Your lawyer can also determine whether you would have suffered any different injuries if you had worn your seatbelt, such as bruising, abrasions, intra-abdominal injuries, and vertebral fractures.
The police report and the medical diagnoses for your injuries can show the severity of your injuries and your need for compensation. Testimonies from medical and safety experts can also help your lawyer distinguish between the injuries you sustained in the crash and the injuries you might have avoided if you had worn a seatbelt. If so, this could be used to reduce your fault in the accident against another party who was responsible for causing the crash.
Rely on the Car Accident Attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers
Although you may not have worn a seatbelt during a crash, you still have a legal right to compensation for your injuries in California. Trust Berg Injury Lawyers to advocate for your interests throughout the legal process of filing a claim. Contact our law office today for a free consultation of your case and let us help you with your personal injury claim.
September 20th, 2022|
Motorcycle accidents are one of the most dreadful accidents you can suffer, especially if you’re not wearing a helmet. Cruising through open roads brings a freedom that many riders enjoy. Unfortunately, that sense of freedom comes with a risk. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents. Consequently, all motorcyclists need to wear helmets on the road. Although it is not a legal requirement in all states, wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of suffering from a severe brain injury in an accident. If a car driver or another motorcyclist was in the accident, you may need a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento.
In 2016, there were 5,286 motorcycle riders killed in traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), where 94% were riders, while 6% percent were passengers. Wearing a helmet is the best way to protect yourself while riding a motorcycle. If you’re a motorcycle rider in Sacramento, failing to wear a helmet could affect your injury case if you’re involved in an accident. However, Berg Injury Lawyers can help handle your motorcycle accident case in Sacramento and throughout Northern California.
California’s Helmet Law
California’s helmet law protects riders of all ages from severe head injuries. Under the law, all riders must wear a helmet that meets Department of Transportation standards. In fact, according to California Code Section 27803, “a person operating a motorcycle shall wear a safety helmet meeting standards established by the department.” This means the helmet must have a hard outer shell, a padded lining, and straps that secure the helmet in place. Additionally, the law requires that riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet at all times when riding, regardless of whether they are on a public road or private property. The fine for riders who violate the law is up to $250 for the first offense, and for repeat offenders it’s up to $1,000. f
The Case for Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet
California’s helmet law is one of the most critical and practical laws. The law requires that all motorcycle riders and passengers wear a DOT-approved helmet while riding. This simple law effectively reduces severe injuries and fatalities in motorcycle accidents. This is true even if you are an experienced rider or only riding for a short distance. While some riders may view helmets as a nuisance, the truth is that they can make a difference in life and death outcomes. In Sacramento alone, there were about 116 traffic accidents involving motorcycles, according to a 2019 report by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). Therefore, make the wise choice and wear a helmet to avoid suffering a brain injury.
How Do Motorcycle Helmets Protect You?
Motorcycle helmets protect riders from severe head injuries during a crash. The critical part of a helmet is the outer shell, usually made of rigid polycarbonate plastic. This material can spread the force of an impact over a larger area, helping to prevent penetration. The inner lining of a helmet is typically made of soft foam that helps to cushion the head and absorb energy. In addition, helmets often have a chin strap that helps to keep them securely in place in the event of a collision. By wearing a properly fitting helmet, riders can significantly reduce their risk of suffering a serious head injury in an accident. When choosing a motorcycle helmet, select one that is sized correctly and meets current safety standards.
What Happens If You Are Injured When Not Wearing a Helmet?
First, insurance companies often view riders who do not wear helmets as more reckless than those who do, especially since it’s illegal in California. Thus, they may be less willing to offer a fair settlement. Additionally, if you file a personal injury lawsuit, the jury may view you as partially at fault for your injuries since you were not wearing a helmet. This could result in a reduction in your damages.
Nevertheless, California follows the doctrine of comparative negligence, which means that you can still recover compensation despite being partially at fault during an accident. As a result, an experienced Sacramento personal injury lawyer can build a strong case on your behalf and help you recover fair compensation. But, of course, every case is different, and many factors will affect the outcome of your claim.
Things You Can Receive Compensation for Whether You Wear a Helmet or Not
Some of the things you may receive compensation for whether you wear a helmet or not include:
- Medical expenses: You can receive compensation for all your costs related to the accident, including hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and more.
- Pain and suffering: With proper representation by a personal injury lawyer, Sacramento residents may get compensation for the physical pain and emotional damage you endured due to your accident.
- Lost wages: If you can’t work because of your injuries, you can receive compensation for the wages you have lost.
- Loss of earning capacity: If the accident resulted in a permanent disability that has prevented you from returning to work or achieving the same amount of money as you did before the accident, you could recover compensation for your lost earning capacity.
- Property damage: You can receive compensation for the damage to your motorcycle and any other property damaged in the accident.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
To say the least, the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be tedious. To some extent, it can be more costly than you can imagine. We recommend contacting a personal injury lawyer in case of the following:
- The other driver was uninsured or underinsured.
- You were not wearing a helmet at the accident.
- You suffered severe injuries in the accident.
- The insurance claim offer is too low.
- You are unsure of how to handle your claim.
Berg Injury Lawyers Can Help You With Your Sacramento Personal Injury Case
If you or a loved one has injuries from a motorcycle accident, Berg Injury Lawyers is here to help. With more than three decades of experience advocating for the rights of personal injury victims, our attorneys know how to get results. We’re not afraid to take on big insurance providers and will fight tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers. We conveniently have offices in Sacramento and other Northern California cities, and we offer a no-fee guarantee.
September 19th, 2022|
Driving while using over-the-counter (OTC) medications is a common occurrence. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recorded that 13% of daytime drivers tested positive for prescription or OTC medication in 2018. Drivers often mistakenly consider the effects of OTC medication harmless when it comes to driving ability. However, a 2020 study showed that those who used OTC sleep medications were 41.9% more likely to get into a car accident.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident that you suspect was caused by another driver’s OTC medication use, it is crucial to understand how OTC medication impairs driving and seek help from a qualified attorney at Berg Injury Lawyers today.
How Over-the-Counter Meds Can Impair Driving
After taking an OTC medication, some people experience side effects, which are mild to moderate adverse reactions caused by the medication. Some side effects are uncomfortable, but others are not always obvious.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, common medication side effects include:
- Blurry vision
- Clumsiness, impaired coordination
- Slowed reaction times
- Trouble concentrating
Even mild side effects of OTC medication use can have dangerous or devastating consequences when behind the wheel. In 2015, 90,000 of all reported car accidents in the U.S. involved a tired or drowsy driver. 33,000 of those crashes caused serious injuries.
What Over-the-Counter Meds Cause Impairment?
Many OTC medications can cause side effects that impair driving, posing a risk on the road. Common OTC medications that can cause difficulty driving include:
- Antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl, Allegra)
- Cold or cough medication
- Sleep aids (e.g., Melatonin, Valerian)
- Antidiarrheal medications
- Anti-nausea or motion sickness medications (e.g., Dramamine)
- Caffeine pills
- Diet pills
- CBD products
A medication’s most common side effects are typically listed on the packaging or a leaflet inside the box. Every medication has different side effects; some side effects last longer than others or become more severe if the drug is taken alongside other medications or alcohol.
If an OTC medication can have hazardous side effects, it will contain a warning on the label, leaflet, and packaging. The label may say to avoid operating heavy machinery, which includes driving a car: cars are considered a form of heavy machinery, and driving could put you and others at risk.
Can I Be Sued for Driving on Over-the-Counter Drugs?
You can be sued for driving while under the influence of OTC drugs. Every U.S. state, including California, includes OTC medication in their DUI laws. If you experience side effects from OTC medication and get into a collision. As a result, you are still considered at fault, and the injured party can file suit against you for injury or damages.
When to Avoid Driving After Taking Over-the-Counter Drugs
It isn’t always possible to judge your driving ability under the influence of OTC drugs. You may not recognize your level of impairment, putting you at greater risk of a car accident. Instead, watch for early signals that you or a loved one may not be in a position to drive.
Some signs that you shouldn’t drive include:
- Yawning excessively
- Trouble staying awake; “dozing off” periodically
- Reacting slowly
- Forgetting things easily
- Difficulty concentrating on things around you
- Losing focus or “zoning out” often
- Poor coordination
If you show these symptoms, finding an alternative to driving is the safest choice. Ask somebody else to drive you, rideshare with Uber or Lyft, order delivery instead of going out, or wait to drive until the medication has worn off. Driving under the influence of OTC drugs can lead to a car accident and a costly lawsuit.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you’ve been in a car accident and aren’t sure what the next steps are, you’re not alone. When over-the-counter or prescription drugs may have been at fault, it’s important to seek help from a qualified legal defense team.
September 12th, 2022|
Older adults face more risks on the road than younger drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 13% of deadly car crashes in 2020 involved drivers aged 65 or older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these crashes place all involved parties at risk but are far more fatal for drivers over 70.
Many variables place older drivers at risk of an accident, including reduced mental and physical abilities. Read on to learn the risks older drivers face on the road and how Berg Injury Lawyers can help if your loved one suffers injuries in an auto accident.
How Age Affects Driving Ability
Everyone’s physical and mental abilities decrease with age, impacting their driving skills in various ways. Age-related driving issues include:
Decreased Physical Ability
Older adults often experience joint and muscle stiffness, arthritis, or other mobility conditions that make moving difficult or painful. These impairments can make it hard to turn the steering wheel or hit the brakes in time, potentially leading to a collision.
Many older adults also have vision problems. Vision issues can cause trouble seeing at night, eye pain when exposed to bright light (such as oncoming headlights or sun glare off the windshield), and difficulty reading road signs. If elderly drivers overlook stop signs or other vehicles, they can cause serious harm to themselves and others in a car accident.
Reduced Cognitive Ability
Mental and cognitive functions decline in older adults, making certain aspects of driving difficult or dangerous. Dementia is a term for the general cognitive decline of aging persons and can contribute to worsening driving in elderly adults.
For instance, an older driver with dementia may fail to fully take in their surroundings and collide with another car while attempting to change lanes. They may also become lost and distressed on streets that used to be familiar to them.
Medical Conditions and Medication
Various medical conditions and medications can impair driving ability. If an aging driver has a medical condition like sleep apnea, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s, they are more likely to cause a collision due to impaired functioning.
Likewise, taking medication that causes difficulty moving, seeing, or reacting can increase a driver’s chances of causing or being involved in an accident. Any medication that cautions not to “operate heavy machinery” after taking, means your loved one should not be driving while the medication is in effect.
Recognizing Signs a Loved One Should No Longer Drive
Some older adults cannot safely operate a vehicle. According to the National Institute of Aging, older adults should be monitored or kept off the road if you notice:
- They receive more tickets, dents in the car, or get into more car accidents.
- They frequently become lost, even in familiar areas.
- They show reluctance or anxiety around driving.
- They have dementia, profound loss of sight, or another condition or disability that makes driving dangerous.
Protecting Aging Loved Ones Behind the Wheel
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that between 1997 and 2020, the fatality rate for drivers over 70 had declined by 22%. This may be attributed to increased awareness of the danger of letting elderly drivers with physical or cognitive impairments drive. It’s important to continue protecting aging loved ones who continue driving after age 65.
Car Adaptations and Habit Adjustments
For older adults with physical disabilities who can otherwise drive safely, consider adapting their car for their condition. For instance, if they have pain in their legs or feet, they can install devices allowing them to control the pedals by hand.
Other aging drivers can change their driving habits. For example, a driver with vision problems may opt to drive only during the day, limiting exposure to disorienting headlights that make an accident more likely.
Talking to Your Loved One About Not Driving
If you believe your loved one shouldn’t drive any longer, discussing their driving safety is crucial. Although there’s no one right way to approach the topic with your loved one, consider the following tips for the conversation:
- Show empathy. It’s difficult for older adults to give up driving because they may feel like they are losing independence. Show them you understand their feelings and offer potential solutions that support their independence in other ways.
- Use “I” language. Avoid using “you” language, as it can cause feelings of shame for an elderly driver. Instead, use “I” phrases such as, “I’m worried that it might not be safe for you to drive at night,” rather than, “You’re driving recklessly at night.”
- Find solutions. Many older adults are reliant on driving for their daily and social needs. Work with them so they can still meet these needs, like finding carpools or transit services.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents involving an elderly driver are immensely stressful. Our California car crash lawyers understand the complexity of car accident lawsuits and can provide the legal advice and protection you need for your elderly loved one.
Get in touch with Berg Injury Lawyers for a free initial consultation regarding your elderly loved one’s accident to learn how to proceed with their case.
September 7th, 2022|
Car crashes can result in closed-head injuries—injuries to the brain but not the skull—making them hard to diagnose. However, without visible evidence of damage, victims themselves can make the mistake of trying to move on with their lives without seeking a thorough medical check.
Being able to recognize brain-injury symptoms can help you learn when to seek medical help after an accident, and secure the necessary compensation to avoid financial strain while you rehabilitate.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a form of brain damage that occurs when the head is suddenly and violently hit. The severity of a TBI depends on several factors, including the force of the impact, the injury’s location, and the victim’s age and overall health.
Although brain injury is often associated with blows to the head during sports or car accidents, it can also occur due to falls, gunshots, or other trauma. Treatment for TBIs usually depends on the severity of the injury and may include measures like extended rest, pain medications, or surgery.
In severe cases, patients may require long-term rehabilitation to regain their ability to speak, walk, and eat.
What Are the Signs of a Brain Injury After a Car Crash?
Unless the brain is severely damaged in a car crash, it can often be challenging to diagnose a brain injury. This is because some symptoms may be attributed to other conditions, such as psychiatric disorders, while other brain injury effects only show up days or weeks after the initial injury.
The gradual onset of symptoms makes it challenging for medical professionals to diagnose the injury properly. This can create obstacles when trying to recover compensation from insurance companies or the people at fault.
The most common and immediate signs of a brain injury include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Dilated pupils
- Blurred vision
- Clear discharge (cerebrospinal fluid) from the ears and nose
However, more serious brain injuries can also result in convulsions, seizures, paralysis, and even coma.
More severe brain injury symptoms can develop over time, making them difficult to tie to the initial accident. These symptoms can affect the victim’s ability to perform basic tasks, both at work and at home. Long-term symptoms include:
- Memory issues
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
- Problems with coordination and balance
In some cases, a brain injury can lead to frequent seizures, hearing loss, and vision problems. The exact nature and severity of symptoms vary depending on the extent of the injury. However, even mild brain injury can cause lasting problems.
Why You Need a Doctor and an Attorney To Prove Your Case
Many people think that if they have a brain injury resulting from a car crash, they can automatically receive compensation. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Establishing a connection between the collision you were in and the injury you suffered is critical to receiving monetary compensation.
This can be difficult to do without the help of a doctor and an attorney. A doctor can document the extent of your injuries, how they occurred, and their impact on your ability to function.
One of the most challenging aspects of diagnosing a brain injury is that no single test or set of symptoms can definitively confirm the presence of a brain injury. Instead, diagnosis typically relies on a combination of medical imaging, cognitive testing, and patient self-reporting. This can make it difficult to obtain an accurate picture of the extent of an injury, particularly in the early stages. Determining the extent of the injury is important for calculating how much compensation will be needed.
Additionally, brain injuries can often lead to subtle changes in cognitive or emotional functioning that may not be immediately apparent to the individual or those around them. As a result, a victim’s diminished ability to perform at their job or their increasing symptom intensity may not be immediately attributable to the car crash.
Getting the help of a competent neurologist and an experienced personal injury attorney can vastly increase your chances of proving the connection between an accident and your injury.
Tests for Diagnosing a TBI
A computed tomography (CT) scan is one of the most common tests for diagnosing brain injuries. This test uses X-rays to create detailed images of the brain. CT scans can help doctors identify bleeding, fractures, bruising, fluid build-up, and other damage to the brain.
Another common test for identifying brain injuries is an MRI. This test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed brain and brain stem images.
Doctors may also use a PET scan. This test uses a special dye and a low-dose radioactive tracer to create images of the brain. PET scans can help doctors identify areas of the brain that are not functioning properly.
In addition to these tests, doctors may perform neurological exams, including memory, vision, balance, and coordination tests.
Seek Assistance From a Knowledgeable Attorney
Having a skilled attorney by your side is essential when filing a brain-injury claim. The California brain injury lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you collect medical and police reports, witness statements, and other necessary documentation to help build an indisputable claim regarding your brain injury.
If you or a family member is a crash victim experiencing signs of a brain injury, get in touch with our legal team to get the full legal and medical support you need.
Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today for a no-obligation, free initial consultation regarding your brain injury.
September 6th, 2022|
Sacramento personal injury laws allow compensation to individuals involved in automobile accidents, slip-and-fall, dog bites, or any other accident caused by a party at fault. However, several factors impact the amount or how soon the plaintiff receives the compensation.
Some factors can be influenced by the plaintiff or their personal injury attorney, while others are beyond their control. Understanding these factors can help reduce the compensation waiting time. If the actions of another party injure you or your loved one, Berg Injury Lawyers could help hasten the compensation process. Contacting a personal injury attorney could also increase your chances of getting maximum compensation.
Factors That Affect the Timeline of Your Sacramento Personal Injury Case
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
Accidents or actions that lead to personal injury claims lead to different injuries. The severity of injuries in a head-on car accident may differ from a slip and fall. Although the cause of the accident may not matter, the severity of the injuries does. Some injuries take longer than others to heal, and the time taken to achieve maximum medical improvement impacts the compensation timeline. The plaintiff or their lawyer cannot influence the doctor’s report.
Once a doctor ascertains the plaintiff has reached maximum medical improvement, they will not require further medical procedures in relation to the accident. An MMI report at this time allows for the computation of compensation amount since the cost of medical treatment is a factor in a personal injury lawsuit. Even where the plaintiff calculates the value within a reasonable time, they may have to wait for other parties in the lawsuit to recover. The delay in submission of medical bills and MMI reports, therefore, delays compensation.
Although MMI reports delay the compensation, temptations for quick settlements should be discouraged. One never knows what medical complications may arise from the injuries. A little wait could help the plaintiff get their compensation in full.
The Value of Your Claim
Insurance companies are always willing to settle small claims promptly. However, when the claim reaches tens of thousands, the insurance company may put up a spirited negotiation to reduce the amount. These negotiations may take months to conclude.
Although plaintiffs may start the negotiation early, insurance companies do not take them seriously before they file a lawsuit. After filing the suit, the respondent has 30 to 60 days to file their response. California laws also allow the respondent 30 to 45 more days to file their response. Filing the lawsuit and getting a response could take months. When the hearing finally begins, it can take several months.
Whether You Go to Trial or Decide On an Alternative Dispute Resolution
An aggrieved party can settle a personal injury claim through a trial or use alternative dispute resolution channels. The route taken affects the compensation timeline by shortening or prolonging it. Using the alternative dispute resolution route significantly reduces the waiting time. It can take 9 to 18 months to settle a compensation claim through the alternative dispute resolution channel.
If, on the other hand, the plaintiff chooses to go to court, they should expect to wait longer. Filing the dispute and getting a response takes several months, while the first appearance at the trial court happens after a year. The negotiations may take another year or longer, depending on the case.
The waiting time may also depend on the cooperation of the other parties. If the defendant is cooperative, the waiting time reduces significantly.
Should You Settle Early to Save Time?
Once the plaintiff seeks medical treatment, insurance companies are likely to make compensation offers. In most cases, the insurance company offers compensation that is way below what the plaintiff deserves. The insurance companies understand the complexity of filing a lawsuit and the waiting and hope the plaintiff will accept the offer to save time. This tactic is known as a lowball offer.
A plaintiff should not accept the lowball offer. They should reject the first and the second offer and make the defendant believe they are willing to stop at nothing but their rightful amount. However, the plaintiff should seek the opinion of a Sacramento personal injury lawyer on whether to reject a given offer. Berg Injury Lawyers have years of experience in personal injury claims and can help the plaintiff make an informed decision.
The Documentation Process Takes Time
Documenting different pieces of evidence takes time. The plaintiff may have to visit their employers to calculate lost wages or wait for an MMI report. The cooperation of the parties involved also impacts the documentation time.
Specific Issues With Your Case May Arise
While issues like whether to accept offers from the insurance company are within the plaintiff’s control, others are not. For instance, some injuries are diagnosed way after the accident. In such cases, the defendants may claim they did not result from the accident. Identification of the party at fault may also consume a lot of time. Any other unforeseen issues may increase the settlement time.
Patience Is Your Best Friend
For a plaintiff to get what they deserve in a Sacramento personal injury case, they should invest in patience. Patience means they will wait for their MMI, reject lowball offers, and invest their time in documentation. Even when the compensation process takes too long, the plaintiff will eventually get the compensation they deserve.
When To Contact A Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer
Filing a compensation claim in Sacramento can be long and tedious. However, contacting a personal injury attorney can help simplify the process. While the time to complete the compensation process varies from case to case, the attorney takes the negotiation burden from the plaintiff. This gives the plaintiff enough time to recuperate. When dealing with a personal injury Sacramento residents are advised to contact a lawyer immediately after the accident may also hasten the compensation process.
Berg Injury Lawyers Can Help You With Your Sacramento Personal Injury Case
At Berg Injury Lawyers, we understand the complexity of personal injury cases can prolong the compensation process. Although the waiting time depends on several factors, our experienced lawyers will do everything to speed up the process. Contact us at (866) 904-2014 or fill out our free form to speak with our legal team.