Buying a Safe Bicycle Helmet

by Staff Blogger | August 10th, 2020

Here’s a sobering concept: the bicycle helmet you’ve been wearing might not meet federal safety standards. You might assume, as many people do, that all bicycle helmets sold in the U.S. are required to meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) standards, but the reality isn’t as clear-cut.

Technically, helmets are required to meet those standards, but in the online retail world, many bicycle helmets, some of which are widely sold and purchased, do not meet those standards. Consumer Reports researchers alone identified 13 helmets that didn’t include a CPSC compliance label. And many of those non-compliant helmets were offered on some of the biggest online shopping platforms.

In short, be extra careful when you buy a bicycle helmet. But what exactly should you be looking for? Let’s find out.

How Do You Know Which Helmets Are Safe?

First things first, look for a helmet with a label stating that it complies with the CPSC’s standard. It’s possible that labels on some of these helmets are counterfeit, but it’s a good place to start.

Next, Consumer Reports says that you should look for “the name, address, and telephone number of the manufacturer or importer issuing the certificate.” In some cases, the information will be that of the private labeler of the helmet.

Next, look for a serial number or other information that identifies the production lot of the product. This will also allow you to find out the month and year the helmet was manufactured. All this information can help you verify that the helmet you purchased does in fact comply with federal safety standards.

Though online shopping tempts helmet buyers through easy shipping and budget prices, the safest approach is to visit a local shop that sells reputable products.

Choosing a helmet in person not only makes it easier to inspect it for quality, but it also gives you a chance to try it on. Helmet fit is vital when it comes to safety. Helmets that are too small or too big don’t protect as well as helmets that fit properly.

Curious about California’s bicycle safety laws? We’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know in another blog post. 

Picking the Right Helmet for You

Now that you know how to avoid buying an unsafe helmet, it’s important to look for a helmet that fits your specific needs. This means finding a helmet with the proper fit that’s made for your style of biking (road, mountain, or recreational, for example).

Take some time to research the level of protection each option you’re considering offers. Look at the weight, shielding, and straps to determine whether a helmet will be comfortable.

Caring for Your Helmet

Once you have a helmet you like, make sure you follow best practices to get the most out of it. That means cleaning it frequently and making sure the straps and buckles fit securely each time you ride.

If your helmet is ever struck or damaged, even just a bit, stop using it and buy a new one. One small impact can greatly reduce a helmet’s effectiveness, so don’t take any chances. Don’t donate it or give it away, as it could put another cyclist at risk during a crash.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, We Have Bicyclists’ Backs

Our California bicycle accident attorneys have represented many cyclists in personal injury claims, and we always work hard to get them fair treatment and compensation. Whether an injury is caused by a defective product or a negligent driver, bicyclists should know that they almost always have legal options available, as long as they act fast, before the statute of limitations closes.

If you or a loved one was injured in a bicycle accident, contact our team to schedule a free consultation.

California’s Bicycle Laws Explained

by Staff Blogger | August 3rd, 2020

Understanding California’s bicycle laws is essential for every cyclist in our state. From helmet laws to bicycle lane laws, California is very specific about what’s expected of cyclists.

To begin our comprehensive list of California’s bicycle laws, let’s start with the required equipment.

Bicycle Helmet Laws in California

California law is clear about the helmet requirements for riders under the age of 18. Parents are responsible for ensuring that minors have proper equipment when they ride.

Cyclists Under the Age of 18

No cyclist under the age of 18 should ride a bike without a helmet. That helmet must be properly fitted and fastened.

The helmet must meet the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This also applies to any bicycle passenger in a restraining seat attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle.

Helmets must be clearly labeled by the manufacturer to display compliance with the safety standards of the ASTM or the CPSC.

Cyclists Age 18 and Older

There are no state requirements for cyclists age 18 and older. But, you should always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle for safety purposes. Wearing a bicycle helmet reduces your risk of suffering a head injury by more than 50%. When buying a helmet, make sure it is in keeping with CPSC standards.

More Laws Regarding Bicycle Equipment and Size

In addition to helmet requirements, cyclists in California must ensure their bikes also meet certain requirements:

  • Cyclists can’t operate a bike on a roadway unless the bicycle has a brake that will enable the cyclist “to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement,” which is the legal standard for an effective bicycle brake.
  • A bike’s handlebars should never be positioned so that the cyclist must elevate their hands above shoulder level to steer.
  • A cyclist shouldn’t ride a bike so big that its size prevents them from “safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it in a safe manner.”

When a bicyclist rides their bike in the dark, it must be equipped with:

  • A light that illuminates the road in front of the cyclist and is visible from 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle. This light can be attached to the bike or the bicyclist.
  • Either a red reflector, solid red lights, or flashing red lights visible from 500 feet to the rear of the bike.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from 200 feet to the front or rear of the bicycle.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle. Bicycles that are equipped with reflective front and rear tires are exempt.
  • All reflectors or reflective tires should meet state requirements.

Rights and Responsibilities of Cyclists in California

California law states that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. This means that the same rules (adhering to traffic signs and signals, watching out for pedestrians, signaling when turning) apply to bicyclists as they do for car drivers.

It’s illegal for cyclists to ride a bike while they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Bicyclists traveling at speeds slower than the normal flow of traffic must ride as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway UNLESS:

  • They are passing another bike or vehicle.
  • They are turning left.
  • Conditions of the road make traveling on the right-hand side dangerous.
  • They are approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
  • They are traveling on a one-way street with two lanes, in which case riding as close to the left-hand side of the road as possible is allowed.

The same rules apply to bicycle lanes. If a designated bicycle lane is available, stay in that lane unless:

  • It is unsafe to do so,
  • You’re turning, or
  • You need to pass another cyclist.

Don’t Attach Your Bike to Other Vehicles to Hitch a Ride

Bicyclists, along with every other vehicle type, are forbidden from attaching their bike to another vehicle for travel purposes. In other words, you can’t hitch a ride with other vehicles. This obviously doesn’t apply to cyclists who are simply loading their bikes on vehicles for hauling purposes.

Ride Only on the Designated Seat

California law states that cyclists must ride on the designated seats of their bikes. This also applies to passengers. Unless a bike is equipped to seat two people, it should only be ridden by one person. In other words, no sitting on handlebars or standing on pegs.

Don’t Haul Items That Restrict Your Ability to Safely Operate the Bike

When carrying items attached to a bicycle, cyclists must be able to keep at least one hand on the handlebars. So, no hauling items that restrict your ability to control the bike.

California Laws Concerning Parking or Storing Your Bicycle

Cyclists shouldn’t leave their bikes lying on their side on sidewalks. They shouldn’t park bicycles on sidewalks in any position that obstructs the path of pedestrian traffic. Local authorities can prohibit bicycle parking in designated areas of the public highway, but it must place signs in these areas that clearly indicate these restrictions.

What About Motorized Bicycles?

Motorized bicyclists also have many of the same rights and responsibilities of people riding or using other vehicles, though these vehicles are considered closer to motorcycles than bikes.

For example, a motorized bicyclist can’t travel on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway.

Local ordinances might allow exceptions, but it’s best to reference those laws to make sure you’re following them.

Don’t Loiter or Obstruct Bike Lanes

California law requires other road users (drivers, pedestrians, etc.) to keep bicycle lanes unobstructed. This means that people shouldn’t loiter, obstruct, or drive motorized vehicles in designated bicycle lanes.

Cities Can Mandate Their Own Bicycle Laws, Too

These are just California’s bicycle laws, but each city has the right to impose stricter laws regarding bicycle use on roadways. Reference your city’s specific laws to see if any additional laws apply to bicyclists.

Vehicle Drivers Have Responsibilities Toward Cyclists

Whether it’s staying out of bike lanes or giving cyclists plenty of space on our roads, motorists have an obligation to keep bicyclists safe. When they fail to follow the law, they can be held responsible for the harm they cause others.

If you’re injured by a negligent driver in California, the law gives you the opportunity to hold that driver responsible for the injury-related costs you face. Through a personal injury claim, you can get compensation for medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering.

If You Need Legal Help, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California bicycle accident attorneys help injured cyclists get the compensation they’re entitled to by law. If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver, contact our team to schedule a free consultation.

How Many People Die Every Day From Texting and Driving?

by Staff Blogger | July 27th, 2020

how many deaths per day from texting and drivingEvery driver has heard about the dangers of texting and driving. The statistics speak volumes about the risks we introduce when we look at our mobile devices behind the wheel. Maybe you’ve heard a few of the following:

  • Typing or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for at least 5 seconds. For a driver traveling at 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of traveling the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
  • For every 100 drivers, 20 are distracted 5 to 10% of the time and 10 drivers are distracted 15 to 20% of the time.
  • According to a survey from, 41% of drivers admitted to reading texts while stuck in traffic, and 11% admitted to texting while moving in traffic.

The reason you see endless reminders about the dangers of texting and driving is the same reason we’re discussing this important topic today: Seeing these numbers might just prevent someone from reaching for their phone the next time they’re driving.

Knowing the Actual Number of Texting and Driving Deaths Is Difficult

Before we dive into some more numbers, let’s preface what follows by stating that there’s no way of knowing exactly how many deaths or injuries are caused by texting while driving, for reasons we’ll discuss below.

Safety advocates always say that statistics of distraction-related crashes likely underestimate the actual numbers. So, as you read the statistics, remember that the problem is probably far greater than indicated.

How Many People in the U.S. Die Every Day in Distracted Driving Accidents?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that each day in the U.S., approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that 9% of all fatal crashes in the U.S. are caused by distraction (based on figures from 2017).

Why the Numbers Are Probably Much Higher

Safety advocates like those at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council (NSC) talk at length about the limitations of crash reports. Data relies primarily on police reports, which presents several challenges.

First, if a distracted driver causes a crash, a reporting police officer might not know the driver was texting or distracted in some other way unless the driver, victim, or witness mentions it to the officer.

Second, not all crash reports that police are required to fill out have available fields for distraction, so even if an officer knows that distraction was the cause, they might label the cause of the crash as “other.”

A review by the NSC indicates that 26 states in the U.S. lack crash report fields to capture texting, while 32 states lack fields to capture hands-free phone use.

What Does It All Mean for Crash Victims?

The fact that calculating the actual number of distraction-related crashes is so hard shouldn’t deter victims of bad drivers from filing claims after an accident. In some cases, an attorney representing the injured person can prove the driver was distracted.

Even if an attorney can’t prove that the at-fault driver was distracted, they can still prove the driver was negligent. For example, if a driver who is texting while driving strikes a pedestrian, it won’t matter why the at-fault driver struck the pedestrian; it will only matter that they failed to adhere to driving laws.

If You Need Legal Help, Contact Berg Injury Laws

We’ve been helping clients in Northern California since 1981. We know what it takes to get an injured person the compensation they’re entitled to. If you or a loved one was injured by a distracted or negligent driver, we can help. Contact our California car accident attorneys today for a free consultation.

What Are the Worst Traffic Times in Sacramento?

by Staff Blogger | July 20th, 2020

If you live in Sacramento, you’re likely behind the wheel of your vehicle longer than most people on your typical daily commute. One study suggests that Sacramento drivers spend 60 hours each year driving in traffic, establishing the city as having the 22nd-worst commute delay in the country.

Traffic has worsened significantly in Sacramento over the past few decades. To give some context, in 1982, people spent approximately only 16 hours on congested roads each year, meaning traffic today is nearly 4x worse! In other words, locals’ gripes about that awful Sacramento traffic are completely justified.

The Worst Traffic Times in Sacramento

On weekdays, Sacramento’s roads are most congested between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. On weekends, Sacramento drivers are most likely to encounter traffic between noon and 2 p.m. Unfortunately, for many commuters in Sacramento, braving long lines of vehicles during these hours of the day is unavoidable.

Why Is Traffic So Bad in Sacramento?

The causes of our traffic woes are multi-fold. Sacramento is one of the fastest growing cities in California, which means there are an increasing number of vehicles on our roads.

Another factor is the rise of so-called super commuters—people who face over an hour of commute times each day. The lack of affordable housing has pushed many people who work in Sacramento further away from the city, and they pay dearly in the form of time stuck in traffic.

The Consequences of Congested Roads

Every year, commuters in Sacramento lose approximately $1,022 and 24 gallons of fuel because of traffic. In addition to lost time, money, and gas, congested roads cause other problems.

Heavy traffic:

  • Causes wear and tear on vehicles through repeated braking and accelerating.
  • Blocks the path of emergency responders.
  • Induces anger or “road rage” among some drivers.
  • Contributes to air pollution and harmful gas emissions.

There’s also plenty of research suggesting that traffic increases the risks of car accidents. Though high-speed crashes are less likely when cars are traveling slowly, many other risks are introduced. For example, multiple-vehicle crashes and rear-end accidents can be more common when roads are congested.

Is There Hope for a Day When Sacramento Has Less Traffic?

Probably not. If you’re hoping that these numbers will improve in the years to come (pandemics and stay-at-home orders not withstanding), we hate to tell you things might get even worse. Researchers say that in 10 years, Sacramento drivers could spend up to 70 hours a year behind the wheel during their commutes.

But Isn’t There a Way to Solve Sacramento’s Traffic Problems?

Easing commuters’ traffic problems is possible, though it usually requires solutions that are either impractical or impossible.

The Brookings Institution, a reputable Washington, D.C. think tank, suggests four ways to deal with congestion:

1) Introducing tolls during the most heavily trafficked hours of the day to deter motorists.

2) Expanding road capacity to accommodate more drivers.

3) Expanding public transportation to give people more options.

4) Accepting it.

Yes, one of the leading think tanks in world suggests we essentially “get over it.” Brookings believes that option number four is the most realistic one. That’s because significant infrastructure improvements and tolls are politically and financially impossible in most parts of the U.S.

If this esteemed think tank is right, we might benefit from looking at ways to make our commutes more tolerable.

How to Stop Worrying and Love Traffic

If traffic is to be lumped in with death and taxes as something all of us will encounter, we’re best served by looking for ways to cope with it. Here are three methods for overcoming traffic-induced stress:

  1. Breathe: Researchers report that breathing techniques alleviate stress. Though some of these techniques are complex, others are doable even when behind the wheel. For example, one method of breathing for stress reduction is to simply exhale more slowly on each breath until stress subsides. Simple and effective.
  2. Listen to something engaging: Maybe you have certain types of music that put you at ease, or perhaps you enjoy podcasts or audiobooks. Whatever your entertainment of choice might be, being stuck in traffic is an opportunity to enjoy it. Just make sure you keep the volume down, so you can hear warnings signs of dangerous situations and avoid causing a distracted driving accident.
  3. Reframe the situation: You can view traffic as a waste of precious time, or you could view it as a break from the many demands you face at home or work. A simple change in perspective can make sitting idly much easier to endure.

Are these ideal solutions? No, we’d all prefer to spend less time in traffic. But if it’s a fact of life, we can find healthy ways to deal with it. We can do our part to keep a healthy perspective while also being mindful of the safety of our fellow motorists.

What happens when you’re involved in a crash with a driver who wasn’t mindful of your safety? In these situations, there is a clear solution: Demand compensation for the crash-related expenses you face.

If You Need Legal Help, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

The Sacramento car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can’t shorten your commute, but we can help you get the payment you deserve after a car accident that wasn’t your fault. Our consultations are free, so contact us today to speak to our team for a case evaluation.

What Types of Boating Accidents Lead to Lawsuits?

by Staff Blogger | July 13th, 2020

For many Californians, the best way to enjoy the great outdoors is on a boat, whether the vessel of choice is a sprawling, plush yacht or a humble, one-person kayak. There’s no shortage of boating options in California, but each comes with its own set of risks.

After a boating accident, you might wonder how you can get compensation for the costs of the injuries you suffered. Filing a lawsuit can help get you payment from the at-fault party’s insurance company, but since boating accidents take many forms, the type of lawsuit you file depends on the specifics of the incident.

Let’s review some of the most common types of boat accidents that lead to lawsuits.

Boating Accidents Caused by Other Boat Operators

Think of boating accidents caused by other boat operators the same way you’d think about car accidents. Any boat operator who is intoxicated, reckless, distracted, or improperly trained can be held liable if they cause someone else harm.

Just as in car accidents, you file a personal injury claim after a boat accident for the costs you face because of the boat operator’s negligence. Typically, the operator’s insurance company will cover your accident-related expenses, though don’t be surprised if the insurer offers you less than you deserve or denies your claim. If that happens, contact an attorney immediately for help.

Boating Accidents Caused by Defective Parts

Defective boats or boat parts can cause serious and potentially fatal injuries. If you’re injured by a faulty part, you can file a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the boat or the boat part.

The manufacturer has a legal responsibility to pay for damages caused by its defective parts, though manufacturers often deny liability (just remember the last time you tried to get something repaired or replaced under warranty, and you’ll have an idea of how hard this is!). Your attorney will be able to fight for a settlement on your behalf or, if needed, make your case in court.

Boating Accidents When You’re A Passenger

If you’re injured on someone else’s boat, many parties potentially bear legal responsibility for your injuries. If the accident is caused by the boat’s operator, they can be held liable for the costs you face. Or, if the accident is caused by a third party, you can file a lawsuit against them to recover your damages. Speaking to a lawyer can help sort out who might ultimately be responsible and how to get the money you need to pay your medical bills.

Cruise Ship Injuries or Illnesses

Boat-related lawsuits often stem from injuries and illnesses suffered on cruise ships. If you’re hurt on a cruise, you could file a claim against the company offering that cruise. These injuries often resemble premises liability claims in that you sue the company for injuries you sustained on their property.

However, cruise ship lawsuits are often more complex than typical premises liability claims. In many cases, the companies that operate cruise ships aren’t located in the U.S., and injuries on these ships usually happen offshore.

Yet another factor impacting your legal options is the fact that you likely consented to the cruise’s terms and conditions when you purchased your tickets. These contracts often contain language that constrains your ability to take legal action. If you’re injured on a cruise ship, an attorney who has experience with maritime law will help you determine the best path toward compensation.

Work-Related Boating Injuries

If someone who works on a boat is injured, they typically have rights to seek compensation. This is often accomplished through the Jones Act, a century-old regulation that provides injured maritime workers with a pathway to compensation, similar to a workers’ compensation program.

Why File a Boat Accident Lawsuit?

People file boating-related personal injury lawsuits to recover the costs of their injuries. This includes the direct medical costs (ambulatory care, initial treatment, hospitalization, ongoing care, etc.), lost income due to time missed at work or diminished work capacity, and pain and suffering caused by the accident. If someone causes damage to your boat in an accident, you can seek to recover those costs, too.

How to Find Out If You Have a Lawsuit

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, you might not be sure whether you have a viable legal claim on your hands. The best way to determine whether you should move forward with a case (and who can be held legally responsible for your injuries) is to contact a boat accident attorney.

When you suffer a costly injury that wasn’t your fault, the chances are good you’ll have legal options available to get compensation for the injury-related costs you’ve encountered.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers to Learn More

Berg Injury Lawyers offers free consultations for many types of accident and injury claims, and we can help you determine whether your injury might warrant a lawsuit. Contact our California boat accident attorneys anytime for a free case evaluation.

Tips for Driving in California’s Extreme Heat

by Staff Blogger | July 6th, 2020

In California, we’re fortunate to have some of the most accommodating, beautiful weather in the U.S. But we’re also no strangers to extreme heat. Northern California has already experienced one heat wave this year, and the chances are good that more will come.

As we head into the hottest days of summer, it’s a good time to re-evaluate your plan for dealing with extreme heat on our roads. A well-laid plan can be the difference between a mild roadside inconvenience and a serious emergency.

Vehicle Maintenance

Before you even think about hitting the road, you’ll want to be sure your vehicle is prepared for the heat. During the summer months, it’s especially important to:

  • Check your car battery often – The heat is a major drain on your battery. Check it frequently throughout the summer, especially if the battery is old or shows signs of corrosion.
  • Watch your coolant levels – If it’s been several thousand miles since you checked or replaced your coolant, the beginning of the summer is the perfect time to make sure levels are adequate to keep your engine cool and running smoothly.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated – Check your tire pressure at least once a month during the summer. Check your owner’s manual to find out the optimal tire pressure for both the front and rear tires on your vehicle, and don’t forget to check your spare tire’s air pressure level, too.

To make sure your vehicle is ready for the summer, get your car serviced and tell the mechanic what you want them to check. In addition to the items listed above, tell them to inspect your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, belts, hoses, fluid levels, and wiper blades.

Keep Yourself and Your Passengers Safe

Create an emergency safety kit

Your summer emergency safety kit could be a lifesaver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests several items to keep in your kit in case you get stranded on the side of the road, including:

  • Cell phone charger and portable external battery pack
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares or caution flags
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Tire jack
  • Basic repair tools
  • Duct tape
  • Nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines
  • Jumper cables

Keep these items easily accessible inside your vehicle, and don’t hesitate to include anything else you feel could make a difference in the event of an emergency.

Use your air conditioner

When it’s 90 degrees outside, you probably don’t need a reminder to turn on your air conditioner, but it’s worth emphasizing the importance of staying cool while driving in extreme heat.

Air conditioners help keep drivers alert, as driving for prolonged periods in extreme heat causes drowsiness. Children, older passengers, and pets are also more vulnerable to high temperatures, so it’s important to think about your passenger’s comfort level in addition to your own and watch for signs of heat-induced illness.

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Headache
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Flushed skin
  • Nausea
  • Confusion or irritability

Choose highways over secondary streets

Secondary streets are more likely to “fail” during the summer months. Smaller roads can easily buckle, warp, or crack, which means they’re also more likely to cause damage to your vehicle.

Highways are typically better maintained and capable of withstanding heavier traffic. Water drainage is also less of an issue on larger roadways than smaller ones. So, when you have a choice, opt for highways and interstates.

Follow child safety practices

  • No matter the time of year, always double check the size, fit, and effectiveness of your child safety seats before driving somewhere with your child.
  • Be aware that children are also more likely to play outside during the summer, so always be on the lookout for young pedestrians while driving.
  • One of the most important things to remember during the hottest months of the year is how quickly the inside your vehicle becomes. On a hot summer day, a vehicle’s dashboard can reach up to 160 degrees in about an hour. And within just a few minutes without AC, the interior of a vehicle can reach temperatures that pose a major health risk to occupants, especially children.

And Don’t Forget to Share the Road

During the summer months, more pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are traveling our roads. It’s important to give them the space they need. One of the best ways to do this is to slow down at intersections and keep extra space between your vehicle and pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

If You’re Involved in a Crash, Contact Us for a Free Consultation

The Northern California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers know how to get clients fair compensation after crashes. If you’ve had the misfortune of being injured by a negligent driver, we want to help you explore your legal options.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free, no-obligation case review.

What Is a Bellwether Case—And How Does It Affect Drug Injury Litigation?

by Staff Blogger | June 29th, 2020

In presidential elections, voting in certain states repeatedly predicts the outcome of a race nationally. Ohio and New Mexico, for example, tend to cast their electoral votes for the candidate who eventually becomes the winner of the election. Political analysts refer to these states as bellwether states.

The term bellwether refers to the practice of placing a bell on a male sheep who leads the flock, but for those of us who aren’t shepherds, the word is most commonly used to mean a “predictor” or “indicator.”

Essentially, bellwethers predict outcomes, and they exist in many fields outside of politics (and sheep). They’re increasingly common in our legal system, and bellwether trials can either breathe life into future lawsuits, or they can deflate litigation.

What Is a Bellwether Case?

A bellwether case, also called a bellwether trial, is a precursor to a larger group of lawsuits. The outcome of the bellwether case can determine the momentum of similar pending cases.

Bellwether trials are a commonly used tool in multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is a special federal legal procedure that accelerates complex cases through the legal system.

A bellwether trial guide from the Federal Judicial Center summarizes the importance of these trials in MDL cases:

“If bellwether cases are representative of the broader range of cases in the MDL proceeding, they can provide the parties and court with information on the strengths and weaknesses of various claims and defenses and the settlement value of cases.”

In other words, bellwether cases are a trial run for future lawsuits.

How Do Bellwether Cases Affect Drug Injury Litigation?

Let’s say that hundreds of lawsuits are being filed nationwide against the manufacturer of a widely used heartburn medication. Before all those lawsuits move forward, one case or a handful of them are tried in court. These are bellwether trials.

If our hypothetical case ends with a win for the plaintiff (or plaintiffs), momentum builds for others hoping to file similar cases against the manufacturer. If the case is a bust, however, momentum wanes and fewer lawsuits are likely to be filed.

What Happens in a Bellwether Trial?

The process starts by establishing common themes that represent all of the cases in an MDL movement. Then, the courts and relevant parties create a group of cases that reflect those themes. The discovery process (the fact-finding portion of the case) begins, and the trial proceeds, much like it would in any other type of case.

Does an Unsuccessful Bellwether Case Spell Doom for All Similar Cases?

Not necessarily. In some cases, plaintiffs’ attorneys might view the details of a bellwether trial, even an unsuccessful one, as instructive. Flaws of certain arguments are exposed, and a more effective strategy can be built.

What Is the Impact of a Successful Bellwether Case?

If a bellwether trial results in a favorable outcome for plaintiffs, defendants might be more willing to settle future claims similar to the bellwether. You can see why plaintiffs’ attorneys watch these cases carefully—a successful ruling for the plaintiffs exposes a vulnerability of the defendant.

Should You Worry About Bellwethers as a Plaintiff?

If you’re considering filing a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer, you might now be tempted to start doing your homework on bellwether cases similar to your own. But remember that the nuances of a bellwether trial matter as much as the outcome.

Bellwether trials are a barometer that legal experts, judges, and attorneys use to determine the viability of cases and the strategy of handling such cases. In other words, plaintiffs don’t need to obsess about the details of bellwether cases, especially if they’re hiring an experienced attorney to represent them.

Are You Considering a Defective Drug Case in California?

The legal team at Berg Injury Lawyers pays close attention to bellwether trials, but we know that these cases are ultimately about people who need help. Drug manufacturers too often sell products without adequate testing or without properly labeling their products to inform consumers of potential risks. What matters in your trial is how their product harmed you, specifically.

If you want to know whether your case has the potential for a successful outcome, contact our team for a free case assessment. We want to help you explore your legal options.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers Today

The Northern California defective drug attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers have years of experience holding drug manufacturers accountable for the harm they cause consumers. If you have questions about a drug injury case, contact our team today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

How to Sue Rideshare Companies After Accidents

by Staff Blogger | June 22nd, 2020

Suing a rideshare companyRideshare services have become perhaps the most common way to hail a ride. As of 2019, more than one-third of American adults had used a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber, more than double the percentage from 2015.

Judging by those numbers, rideshare services seem like they’re here to stay. That means we’ll inevitably see an increase in the number of crashes involving vehicles bearing the Lyft or Uber logo—and the person in the other vehicle could be you or someone you love.

This brings us to our topic of discussion: How can you sue a rideshare company after being involved in an accident?

The Complexity of Suing a Rideshare Company

This biggest issue when filing a rideshare accident lawsuit is whether you’re suing the driver of the vehicle or the company that backs them. Lyft and Uber drivers are considered contractors, which means they aren’t technically employees of the rideshare service they drive for.

There are several reasons rideshare companies don’t “hire” drivers, one of which is the issue of liability. By working with contractors instead of employees, companies like Lyft and Uber insulate themselves from accountability if their driver is involved in a crash—at least partially.

Who Exactly Are You Suing?

To determine who you should take legal action against, you’ll need to pay close attention to the details of your situation. If a rideshare driver isn’t actively working (meaning they’re off the clock) when the accident happens, you will likely file a lawsuit against the driver.

If a driver is working but has no passenger, you have more options available. The rideshare company might have an insurance policy that covers these situations, though the policy will likely pay out less than if the driver was actively transporting a passenger. In these cases, you could have the option of suing the driver or the company.

Once a rideshare driver has a passenger in the vehicle, the company that they have a contract with can be sued for the compensation you’re owed. This is true whether you’re the passenger in the rideshare vehicle or the driver of a vehicle involved in a collision with the rideshare vehicle.

Ultimately, these claims can quickly become more complex than the average vehicle accident case. You’re not only dealing with a driver, but the company they’re contracting for and either or both parties’ insurers.

We can tell you from experience that insurance companies aren’t quick to offer fair settlements. In many cases, they’ll offer a lowball settlement to eliminate the possibility of any claims. It’s important that you speak to an attorney to make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of.

How to File a Lawsuit Against a Rideshare Service

To take legal action against a rideshare service, you’ll need to go through the traditional process of filing a lawsuit. This includes filing a complaint, serving the complaint to the defendant (the person you’re alleging fault against), waiting for their response, gathering evidence and building a case in the discovery phase, and settling the claim or going to trial, depending on the willingness of the defendant to comply with your demands.

This a very simplistic summary of what is asked of someone filing a personal injury claim. Each of these steps can quickly become more complicated if the defendant pushes back. Keep in mind that if you choose to go it alone in a lawsuit against a big company like Lyft or Uber, you’ll be up against a well-funded opponent who handles these types of cases regularly.

As attorneys who have handled many crash-related lawsuits against big companies, we strongly suggest you speak to an attorney as soon as possible after your crash. Avoid speaking to the representatives of any insurance company that isn’t your own. The sooner you have an advocate on your side to handle the insurance company, the better your chances of a successful outcome.

The Future of Rideshare Lawsuits

In May 2020, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit in San Francisco County Superior Court against both Uber and Lyft. The lawsuit alleges that these companies are depriving workers of essential protections by misclassifying them as contractors instead of employees.

Depending on how this lawsuit plays out, the ways in which injured people can file claims against rideshare companies could change dramatically. In the meantime, it’s important for injured motorists not to accept initial offers from rideshare companies’ insurers without knowing what their claims are truly worth.

If You Need an Attorney Who Will Fight for You, Contact Us

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we’ve been standing up for injured motorists for nearly four decades. We deal firmly with insurance companies to make sure our clients get treated fairly. If you want to discuss the details of your case to find out your best path to compensation, schedule a free consultation with our Northern California auto accident attorneys.

Worried about our fees and whether you can afford them? Don’t be. We don’t get paid unless we win you money. Contact our team today for a free case assessment.

How to Avoid Overexertion Injuries at Work

by Staff Blogger | June 15th, 2020

Overexertion injuries at workOverexertion injuries cause more than one-third of all work-related injuries every year. They’re the most common reason for missed days at work and cost businesses billions of dollars annually.

By avoiding overexertion injuries, workers can be more productive, have longer careers, and enjoy a better quality of life. Before we learn how to avoid these injuries, we need to understand what they are and how they happen.

Examples of Overexertion Injuries

Overexertion injuries can occur after performing repetitive movements over long periods or with one sudden movement. A few of the most common examples of overexertion injuries include:

  • Soft-tissue injuries – Injuries to ligaments, tendons, muscles, etc.
  • Back injuries – Pulled, strained back muscles or damage to the spinal cord, such as a slipped disc or cracked vertebrae
  • Heat stroke and dehydration – Most common among workers doing heavy manual labor outdoors
  • Repetitive stress injuries – Injuries ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to stress fractures, often the result of weeks, months, or years of repeated movements

In many cases, two or more overexertion injuries can occur at the same time. For example, a worker might be more likely to pull a muscle if they are dehydrated or suffering from heat exhaustion. Lifting a heavy object can trigger an acute injury that stems from years of repeated actions.

How Overexertion Injuries Happen

Certain movements and activities are more likely to cause overexertion injuries than others. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Performing unnatural movements
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Using excessive force to perform a task
  • Vibrations, typically from heavy machinery
  • Working in extremely hot and/or humid environments

Industries with High Rates of Overexertion Injuries

The National Safety Council provides a list of industries in which overexertion injuries are most common. They include:

  • Government
  • Education and health services
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail trade
  • Professional and business services
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Construction
  • Wholesale trade

From these two lists above, we get a clearer picture of how these injuries happen and where they’re most likely to occur. Though workers who operate heavy machinery or lift heavy objects are more likely to suffer overexertion injuries, workers in any setting are at risk if they and their employers don’t take steps to protect their health and wellbeing.

7 Tips for Avoiding Overexertion Injuries

Preventing overexertion injuries requires preparation and mindfulness. The more aware you are of how you’re performing tasks, the better positioned you’ll be to look for more efficient ways to perform them.

Here are seven ways you can reduce your chances of suffering an overexertion injury:

  1. Use safe lifting techniques. Keep objects you’re lifting close to your body. Maintain proper posture throughout the lift. Try to lift with your knees instead of your lower back. In addition, ask for help if an object is too large or heavy for you to lift on your own.
  2. Break up and limit time spent doing repetitive tasks. Distribute repetitive tasks throughout your day instead of doing them in one block of time. If possible, look for ways to avoid performing the same taxing task repeatedly.
  3. Move often. If you sit or stand for long periods, find opportunities to move and stretch fatigued muscles.
  4. Rest when you need to. Whenever you’re hot or tired, take frequent water and rest breaks.
  5. Take pain seriously. Persistent pain can be a warning sign of a more serious injury to come. Listen to your body and avoid performing tasks that contribute to chronic pain.
  6. Prioritize ergonomics. Ergonomics means “fitting a person to a job,” and it’s all about performing the correct movements for a given task. Take ergonomics seriously by considering the position your body is in when you perform tasks and look for ways to perform these tasks in a way that is less taxing on your anatomy.
  7. Perform corrective exercises. Whether you’re in the same position all day or using certain muscles more often than others, you’ll benefit from corrective exercises. These exercises help you correct poor posture and ensure the strength of less frequently used muscles.

Most overexertion and workplace injuries are preventable. It’s vital that employers give their workers proper training, equipment, and rest to ensure overexertion injuries never occur. When employers fail to do so, employees have rights to seek compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other expenses.

If You Need an Attorney, Call Us

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we help injured people get the payment they’re entitled to. If you were hurt through no fault of your own, contact the Bay Area personal injury attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today to speak to our team at no cost. We want to help you explore your legal options, so you can find the best path to the compensation you deserve.

Are Retread Tires Legal in California—And Can You Trust Them?

by Staff Blogger | June 8th, 2020

Are retread tires legal in CaliforniaThe cost of replacing broken or worn out car parts can place a burden on many vehicle owners’ wallets. To reduce those costs, some vehicle owners turn to used or refurbished parts. Though some vehicle parts are more likely to be reused than others, many consumers still balk at the idea of purchasing used – also called retread or recapped – tires.

Consumer reluctance to buy used tires is understandable. For years, retread tires had a reputation as being unreliable, if not downright dangerous. Although tire manufacturing has advanced significantly in recent years, making used tires more capable of performing like new tires, the question remains: should consumers still approach recapped tires with skepticism?

Before we look at the current state of retread tires in the marketplace, let’s address a commonly asked question by vehicle owners in California – are retread tires legal to purchase or install on your vehicle?

Are Retread Tires Legal in California?

Retread tires must have a tread pattern that complies with Section 27465 of the Vehicle Code. They can’t be used on the front wheels of a bus or farm labor vehicle. They also can’t be used on the front wheels of truck tractors or motortrucks unless they meet requirements of the state. For passenger vehicles, retread tires are allowed.

What Does the State Government Say About Retread Tires?

California doesn’t just condone the use of retread tires; they implicitly encourage them, especially because they offer environmental benefits. Retreading a tire requires fewer raw materials than manufacturing a new one. A retread tire is also one less tire that needs to be thrown away.

California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery says that retread tires are commonly used on:

  • Commercial and military jets,
  • Some school and municipal buses,
  • Delivery service vehicles,
  • S. Postal Service vehicles,
  • Fire engines,
  • Taxis,
  • Race cars, and
  • All types of commercial vehicles.

Should You Trust Retread Tires?

So, the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery sings the praises of retread tires, and they’re legal for use on many vehicles in our state, but what does it mean for consumers? Should you feel comfortable buying a retread tire instead of a new one?

Before you become a retread tire devotee, it’s important to understand that not all retread tires are created equally. If a tire is retread properly, it is generally safe. However, the quality of a retread tire depends on the person or business performing the retread.

Simply put, when it comes to recapped tires, it’s very much a buyer beware situation. If you’re considering buying recapped tires, do your research on the vendor performing the retread to make sure they are trustworthy.

It’s Okay to Have Reservations About Retread Tires

If you still count yourself among consumers who greet the idea of buying recapped tires with skepticism, that’s okay. The sordid history of these tires, along with anecdotes of vehicle accidents caused by retread tire blowouts, should give any tire buyer pause.

You might even be concerned about the safety of retread tires on other vehicles, like big rigs, and we share your concerns. Retread tires are a frequently discussed topic among commercial trucking companies. Many of these companies have fleets upon fleets of vehicles, and that means they need a large number of tires to place on their trucks. To reduce maintenance costs of fleets, trucking companies look to solutions like retread tires.

As we’ve mentioned, retread tires aren’t inherently dangerous if they’re retread properly, but if an 18-wheeler is equipped with dangerous tires, it places many motorists at risk for a crash.

If Retread Tires Cause a Crash, Who Can Be Held Liable?

Crashes stemming from retread tires typically involve blowouts. Determining liability in these types of crashes can be complicated. In some cases, the company that retread the tire could be held responsible. If the tire wasn’t properly maintained by its owner, they might also bear responsibility.

So, if you buy a retread tire, make sure that the vendor is reputable and that you maintain the tire in accordance with instruction from the vendor or manufacturer. If, on the other hand, you are injured in a crash where another driver’s tire blows out, keep in mind that you deserve compensation for the costs you face.

If You Need Legal Help, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers Today

For nearly 40 years, we’ve helped thousands of people across Northern California get the compensation they deserve from insurance companies. We represent clients who are badly injured in vehicle accidents, including motorcycle, passenger car, and commercial vehicle accidents.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash and you need an experienced legal advocate on your side, contact the California auto accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers. Our consultations are always free, and we’ll charge no fee unless we win you compensation.