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.

What Should You Do if You Witness an Accident?

by Staff Blogger | June 1st, 2020

Witness an accidentCrashes are an everyday occurrence in California. In fact, there were nearly 500,000 auto accidents in California in 2017.  That’s an average of more than 1,300 crashes every day. If you’ve never witnessed one, the chances are good you will at some point in your lifetime.

So, if you’re wondering what to do when you witness an accident, you’ve come to the right place. The steps you take in the moments after a crash can make a big difference in people’s lives.

Let’s look at the most important things you should (and shouldn’t) do after witnessing a car accident in California.

What to Do If You Witnessed a Car Accident

As a witness, your first priority is to provide assistance without doing any harm to yourself or those involved in the crash. While your actions can be helpful or even lifesaving, taking the wrong steps may put you and others in danger. Keep the following steps in mind to be an effective and safety-conscious Good Samaritan:

Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Throughout every step listed below, keep your own safety in mind. If a crash happens in heavy traffic, be mindful of oncoming vehicles. If a vehicle has been badly damaged, remember that the vehicle itself is a threat to your safety. Always act with caution.

Report a crash to the authorities as soon as possible. Typically, someone involved in the crash will notify the authorities. However, it’s possible they might not be able to do so. For example, if a driver strikes a pedestrian or an idle vehicle and speeds away, a third party’s report might be necessary. That’s why you should always call 911—never assume someone else already has.

Give a statement to the police officer responding to the scene. When a police officer responds to the scene, you can give the officer your account of what happened. This information might play an important role in the report the officer files. Once you’re finished speaking to the officer, you can ask them if they need any other information before you leave.

Offer your contact information to one of the drivers involved in the crash. When you’ve witnessed a car accident, you can offer your contact information so they, their insurance company, or their lawyer have the option of following up with you later if they need more information. Insurance claims stemming from crashes are often contested by insurance companies, so your account of what you witnessed could be a valuable asset for the driver.

Call for medical assistance rather than trying to move an injured person yourself. If someone inside the vehicles involved is badly injured, let emergency medical responders handle them. You might inadvertently worsen injuries by trying to move the person to a safe place. Of course, there are exceptions.

California’s Good Samaritan Law protects people from liability when they try to help someone who needs to be rescued. If it’s an absolute emergency, and you’re confident in your ability to help, then you can. In all other circumstances, call emergency responders and wait for help.

Take pictures of the scene—if needed. Photographs of a crash can be valuable in the insurance claims process. If drivers are incapacitated, you might be able to help them by taking pictures of the crash’s aftermath. However, if at all possible, consider asking one of the drivers for permission first.

Look for other ways to help injured people. You might be able to help an injured person by contacting their loved ones, supplying first aid items, or doing something as simple as offering them water, a blanket, or a pen and paper to write down important information. The best way to find out how to help those involved in a crash is by simply asking.

There are also several things you don’t want to do when you witness a car accident. Tensions sometimes run high after a crash, so you don’t want to introduce any additional hostility. When you lend your hand to those involved, try your best to be a calming presence.

In summary, there are several ways to help crash victims without putting yourself or others in harm’s way. Be cautious, contact the authorities, and look for unobtrusive ways to make people’s lives easier. Consider the help you’d need if you were involved in a crash and act accordingly.

If You Need Help After a Crash, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we have years of experience helping people after a serious vehicle accident. We know how important the minutes, days, and weeks after a crash can be, especially when it comes to the insurance claims process.

We help our clients get the service and legal representation they need to get their lives back in order after a wreck. If you or someone you care about was involved in a crash, you can call our firm anytime to schedule a free consultation.

What are California’s Crosswalk Laws?

by Staff Blogger | May 25th, 2020

California crosswalk lawsCalifornia’s road laws aren’t just for motorists. Pedestrians have clear rights and laws they must follow, too.

It’s important for both drivers and pedestrians to understand the laws (and best practices) for navigating intersections, which is why we’re giving pedestrians the lowdown on California’s crosswalk laws.

So, What Are California’s Crosswalk Laws?

CVC §21950 says that drivers should yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. However, there are a couple of important caveats.

California’s law does not absolve a pedestrian from the duty of “using care” for their safety. The statute says that “no pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.”

The remainder of the statutes in this law pertain specifically to the responsibilities of drivers. It states that drivers approaching a pedestrian within “any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action” required to keep pedestrians safe.

What Does That Mean for Pedestrians?

California’s pedestrian law is somewhat at odds with commonly held wisdom that pedestrians always have the right-of-way, but it doesn’t absolve drivers from their share of responsibilities, either. It’s true that pedestrians using crosswalks have the right-of-way, but from both a legal and safety standpoint, it’s important not to stop in the middle of that crosswalk, if at all possible.

Some of the other language used in the statute is also open to interpretation. For example, the laws states that pedestrians shouldn’t “suddenly leave a curb into the path of a vehicle” in a way that presents an “immediate hazard.”

Terms like “suddenly” and “immediate hazard” introduce ambiguity into an otherwise clear-cut law. As you can imagine, this ambiguity is a focus for attorneys who are representing clients in cases involving pedestrian collisions on both sides of the issue.

The Legal Implications of a Pedestrian Collision

If a pedestrian is injured by a driver and files a legal claim, it’s possible the driver’s attorney will argue that the pedestrian walked into the street without warning, even if the pedestrian believes it would be obvious to any responsible driver that they were crossing the street.

This highlights the need for an experienced attorney when a legal dispute emerges from a pedestrian collision. An injured pedestrian will likely need an advocate to make their case using all available facts.

An injured pedestrian’s attorney might look for several types of evidence to back up their client’s argument. For example, security or street cameras might have captured footage of the accident, which can be used to reinforce the pedestrian’s claim. An attorney could also ask any eyewitnesses for their account of the collision.

What Can Pedestrians Do to Stay Safe?

Pedestrians can keep these safety tips in mind when walking near or across roads:

  • Whenever possible, use sidewalks and designated crossings.
  • Whether or not you’re using a designated crossing, be mindful of oncoming traffic and, when possible, try to make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you.
  • If walking at night, wear brightly colored or reflective clothing.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic while maintaining a safe distance from the road.

What Are Driver’s Responsibilities Near Pedestrians?

Drivers must follow all the rules of the road to keep pedestrians safe. They can further protect pedestrians by following these guidelines:

  • Always give pedestrians the right-of-way.
  • Slow down when near crosswalks or in areas where pedestrian traffic volume is high.
  • Never pass a vehicle when it is stopped at an intersection or crosswalk.
  • Never come to a stop in a crosswalk.
  • If a pedestrian makes eye contact with you, assume they’re crossing the street.
  • Give vulnerable pedestrians (elderly or disabled people) more time to cross the street.

When You’ve Been Injured by a Careless Driver, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

Though pedestrians do have the right-of-way in crosswalks, it’s possible that a driver will argue that a pedestrian acted unpredictably when crossing the road. It won’t surprise anyone who’s dealt with another party’s insurance company that insurers will use any argument possible to lessen or deny an injured pedestrian’s claim to compensation.

It’s vital that injured pedestrians get legal representation to make sure they aren’t taken advantage of by insurance companies. Berg Injury Lawyers has been representing injured people across Northern California for nearly four decades, and we’ve seen insurance companies make many outlandish claims, all for the sake of denying payments.

When you hire our California personal injury attorneys, you’ll be working with a firm that has a reputation for dealing firmly with insurance companies. We know what you’re going through, and we’re committed to fighting for maximum compensation on your behalf.

Let us hear your story, so we can help you explore your legal options. All you need to do is schedule a free consultation with our team. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.

Is Nursing Home Abuse Always Physical?

by Staff Blogger | May 18th, 2020

is nursing home abuse always physicalThe word abuse usually conjures thoughts of a person being physically assaulted, but there are several forms of abuse that don’t include physical contact, including neglect and emotional, financial, and verbal abuse. Though anyone can suffer these types of abuse, it is especially terrible when it happens to the most vulnerable among us.

Elder abuse is an unfortunate and common part of life for older Americans. The National Institute on Aging says that hundreds of thousands of people over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited each year in the U.S.

Though elder abuse is a serious threat, it’s also a preventable one. By raising awareness of the problem, we can make environments like nursing homes and assisted-living facilities safer for people in their golden years.

Examples of Non-Physical Abuse

Elderly people can be subjected to many forms of non-physical abuse, including…

  • Emotional and psychological abuse: This occurs when someone says anything threatening or shaming toward an elderly person. Examples include yelling and screaming; use of profanity or insulting nicknames; mocking or criticizing their appearance, interests, and opinions; undermining or dismissing their concerns; excluding them from activities; and preventing them from seeing their visitors.
  • Neglect and abandonment: Failing to provide elderly people the care they need and deserve is also a form of abuse. Neglect can include not giving elderly people the nutrition, grooming and hygiene assistance, or medicine they need, as well as leaving them alone for long stretches of time.
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse is common among elderly people. In a nursing home setting, it might be perpetrated by staff or even other residents.
  • Financial abuse and exploitation: Taking advantage of elderly people through financial exploitation is another common form of elderly abuse. This could involve anything from theft to financial scams to healthcare fraud. Other examples include cashing a resident’s checks without permission, forging a resident’s signature, or coercing a resident to sign documents such as a contract, will, or to grant power of attorney.

All these forms of abuse have dramatic effects on elderly people. Simply ignoring the needs of an elderly person can impact their physical and mental health dramatically.

So, how do you know if a loved is being mistreated?

How to Identify Elder Abuse

If your loved one is elderly, and you’re concerned about their well-being, you should look out for a few of the most common signs of elder abuse.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Erratic mood swings
  • Withdrawal from activities and loved ones
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Unexplained bed sores
  • Sudden changes in your loved one’s will or other financial-related documents
  • Personal belongings going missing
  • Absence of services or amenities that have been paid for or should be included in nursing home fees

When you notice these signs of abuse, it should trigger alarm bells. Your loved one might be hesitant to talk openly about their experiences. When abuse occurs in a nursing home setting, they might fear retaliation from nursing home staff or other residents.

How to Talk to Your Loved One About Abuse

If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, create a safe space to speak to them. You want to make sure that the discussion involves only the two of you or includes only people that your loved one feels comfortable with.

Let your loved one know that their situation doesn’t need to be this way. Tell them that you can help and that the mistreatment can end. If your loved one doesn’t want to talk about their mistreatment, simply let them know that you are available should they change their mind.

Whether or not your loved one voices concerns, you might still want to act on their behalf. We regularly hear from people who have loved ones in potentially unsafe nursing homes and simply don’t know where to turn next.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know how these cases typically unfold, and it’s important for you to know that abuse will not stop on its own. It might seem like an impossible situation, but help is available.

Where to Turn if Your Loved One Is Being Abused

For immediate assistance reporting a nursing home or assisted-living facility, find your local adult protective services agency. The National Center on Elder Abuse is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about elder abuse prevention.

Negligent nursing homes should be held accountable. Many people with mistreated loved ones look to the legal system for justice. Filing a nursing home abuse or injury claim gives the abused and their loved ones the opportunity to demand compensation for the damages they’ve suffered.

When you take legal action against a nursing home, you aren’t just demanding payment for the harm your loved one has suffered; you’re also making sure that they’ll have costs of future care covered.

These claims are a chance to hold negligent facilities accountable for the harm suffered by their residents. By taking a stand, you might also prevent other elderly people from being mistreated at a negligent nursing home or assisted-living facility.

If You Want Help, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

We are committed to holding negligent nursing homes responsible. Whether you believe your loved one was subjected to physical, emotional, verbal, or any other form of abuse, know that you have options available.

Let our California nursing home abuse attorneys hear your story, so we can assess your case at no cost. We have years of experience handling elder abuse and nursing home abuse cases, and we know how important these claims can be for families.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation.

What Is the Difference Between a California M1 and M2 License?

by Staff Blogger | May 11th, 2020

m1 or m2 license in California?You’ve made up your mind: you want a motorcycle. California’s scenic roads and highways are calling your name! Once you purchase or borrow a motorcycle and (hopefully) a helmet, all that’s left to do is to start up your bike and take off… right?

Not so fast, rider. Before you get on that chopper, you’ll first need to get a special license to legally ride a motorcycle in our state.

An M1 or M2 license is a requirement for motorcyclists in California. If you want to ride a motorcycle and are interested in learning which license is best for you, we have you covered.

What Is an M1 License in California?

When you have an M1 license in California, you can legally operate any two or three wheel device equipped with a motor and no pedals, such as motorcycles and sit-down scooters, as well as any motorized vehicle in Class M2, which includes mopeds and motorized bicycles.

What Is an M2 License in California?

When you have an M2 license in California, you can legally operate motorized bicycles, mopeds, and any bicycle with an attached motor, as long as they go no faster than 30 MPH on level ground and are equipped with fully operational pedals. You cannot legally drive a motorcycle or any two or three-wheel device without operational pedals with an M2 license.

Which License Do You Need to Operate a Motorized Scooter in California?

If you want to legally operate a motorized scooter, you only need a standard driver license and not an M1 or M2 license. California defines a motorized scooter as a “two-wheeled ‘device’ powered by a motor with a floorboard that is designed to stand on when riding.” Sit-down scooters do not fall into this category.

Should You Apply for an M1 or an M2 License?

An M1 license will cover many bases, so most applicants will likely be best served by applying for it. If you have a very specific need to ride a motorized bicycle, then an M2 license might be enough. As of January 1, 2020, California no longer requires an M2 license for mopeds.

How to Get an M1 License

If you’re over 18, you’ll take a vision, knowledge, and driving test. However, if you complete a motorcycle basic rider course, you can have the driving test requirement waived. If you’re under 18, you’ll be required to pass vision and knowledge tests. You’ll also need to complete a motorcycle basic rider course approved by the California Highway Patrol. Lastly, you’ll be asked to provide a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training.

The steps provided by the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles are as follows:

  • Complete a driver license or ID card application.
  • Pay the application fee.
  • Pass a vision test and a knowledge test.
  • Give a thumb print.
  • Have your picture taken.

If you’d like to know what to expect on the knowledge test, the California DMV provides a practice exam. Once you take the real deal, you’ll have three chances to pass it. To study up, check out California’s Motorcycle Handbook.

Find your local DMV office to identify the office you’ll visit to get your license.

What If You Don’t Already Have a Standard Driver License?

If you don’t already have a California driver license, you’ll be required to take a few extra steps in addition to the ones listed above. You’ll be asked to present an acceptable identity document or an acceptable residency document if you’ve never had a driver license or ID card in California.

Just like you would with any other driver license, you’ll also provide your Social Security number and your  full legal name.

What Else Do You Need to Legally Operate Motorcycle in California?

In addition to obtaining an M1 license, you’ll need to buy insurance. Like all motorists, motorcycle operators are legally required to carry liability insurance in the event of a crash. Your policy will be need to specific to your motorcycle, as your existing auto insurance policy for other vehicles won’t automatically include coverage for your motorcycle.

California motorcycle insurance requirements are known as 15/30/5 coverage. This means you’ll need $15,000 worth of coverage for injuries suffered by another person, $30,000 of coverage for injuries to others involved in the accident, and $5,000 of coverage for property damage caused by a collision.

If You Need Help After a Motorcycle Accident in California, Call Us Today

Berg Injury Lawyers handles motorcycle accident cases across Northern California. We have years of experience dealing with insurance companies on our clients’ behalf, and we can tell you that having an attorney can make a huge difference in the amount of money you’re offered after a crash.

Motorcyclists face a stigma that can affect the amount offered to them by insurance companies. It’s unfair, and it doesn’t need to be that way. When you work with Berg Injury Lawyers, we make sure you’re treated fairly by insurance companies.

If you’ve been involved in a crash, call the Northern California motorcycle accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers. We offer free consultations, and you’ll never see a bill from us unless we win your case.