Proving Loss of Consortium in Personal Injury Cases in California
January 30th, 2023|
A personal injury incident can significantly affect a victim’s financial resources and relationship with their spouse or a life partner. If your relationship suffers due to your injuries from an accident, you can file a claim for the loss of consortium.
However, you must establish a loss consortium and calculate the value of your damages. A personal injury lawyer’s legal guidance can help you prove your loss of consortium and get a fair settlement for your damages. The California personal injury attorneys at Berg Injury have the experience and resources to help you bring a personal injury claim against the liable party.
What Is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium refers to the loss of society, companionship, and intimacy when a spouse or domestic partner suffers a wrongful injury. This legal term essentially means that your emotional or physical state resulting from an accident prevents you from doing normal activities with your partner, such as walking together, traveling, or having sexual relations.
For instance, a car accident victim could suffer paralysis in the lower body and brain damage resulting from a spinal cord injury. As a result, the victim cannot provide their spouse with the same intimacy and companionship as before the accident. Their spouse may file a claim against the responsible party for harm caused to their marriage.
In California, compensation is available for loss of consortium. This compensation includes:
- Loss of love, care, moral support, companionship, society, comfort, assistance, protection, and affection
- Loss of enjoyment of sexual relations or inability to have children
How Can You Prove Loss of Consortium?
To win compensation for the loss of consortium, you must prove four legal elements: the victim was injured by another person’s negligence, the victim is married or in a registered domestic partnership, the victim or their spouse suffered a loss of consortium, and the loss of consortium is due to the negligent injury.
Proving non-economic damages like loss of consortium can be challenging. An attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers can investigate your case and gather evidence to help prove the following requirements to win you a settlement for your loss.
- The Injured Victim Was a Victim of Someone Else’s Negligence
You must prove that the other party’s intentional or negligent conduct injured your spouse or registered domestic partner with evidence from the accident scene. Critical pieces of evidence can include:
- Police report
- Witness statements
- Accident scene photos
- Surveillance and dash cam footage
- Chemical test results for evidence of intoxicating substances
- Testimonies from accident reconstruction experts
- The Victim Is Married or Has a Valid Domestic Partnership
An official certificate can show you were married or in a registered domestic partnership. You may potentially be able to claim the loss of consortium if the injury occurred before marriage, if your spouse discovers the extent of the injury after your wedding and the underlying cause worsens during your marriage.
- The Victim’s Spouse Suffered a Loss of Consortium
There must be evidence of the deprivation of your spouse’s love, companionship, sexual relations, and moral support since the accident. Your lawyer can help you put together evidence showing the following:
- The injured victim can no longer perform household chores and childcare.
- The injuries have aggravated the spouse’s anxiety, depression, or irritability, thus straining their marriage.
- The victim no longer finds joy in recreational activities they previously enjoyed before the accident.
- Sexual relations show changes in desire, capability, or frequency.
You can provide photos, videos, and documentation showing the daily chores and activities your spouse enjoyed before the accident to your lawyer. Additionally, your lawyer may advise you to keep a diary of your struggles with your spouse since the injuries.
- The Loss Was Due to the Negligent Injury
Your spouse’s medical records can prove the loss of consortium resulted from the negligent injury. These records can include:
- Diagnostic images
- Photos of visible injuries
- Conclusions from your spouse’s medical specialists explaining the extent of the injuries
- Statements from your spouse’s primary physician detailing your spouse’s prognosis and anticipated recovery process
What Can an Injury Lawyer Do to Help?
Filing a loss of consortium claim requires working with a personal injury lawyer at Berg Injury Lawyers, who can help you build your claim. An accident’s impact on marital relations is unique to every victim and their spouses or domestic partners. Your lawyer will examine the accident and evaluate the merits of your claim to determine how much you may be entitled to.
Additionally, your attorney can present the evidence required for each element of your claim before the court, demonstrating how the injury affects you and your spouse. They can obtain testimonies from family and friends to describe the daily difficulties caused by the injury to your spouse.
Obtain Loss of Consortium Compensation Through Berg Injury Lawyers
If you or your spouse suffered severe injuries in a personal injury accident, Berg Injury Lawyers can help you. Our California personal injury attorneys can give you the compassionate support and legal advice you need to discuss the emotional and physical effects of the accident on your relationship with your spouse.
We protect your privacy while helping you pursue the full extent of your damages. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with one of our compassionate and knowledgeable lawyers.
Tips For Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents in the Rain
January 24th, 2023|
Stormy, rainy, and icy weather increase the risk of accidents, especially for motorcycle riders. Roads become slippery, and the rain obstructs visibility, making it easy to lose control. If a motorcyclist has been involved in a motorcycle accident in Sacramento, they should get in touch with a motorcycle injury lawyer in Sacramento. At Berg Injury Lawyers we offer a free consultation, where we assess the merits of your case and advise of your legal options.
This article discusses safety tips that can help you avoid motorcycle accidents when riding in the rain.
Use Rain Gear
When thinking about rain gear, you must consider more than simply clothing that will keep you warm and dry. You must consider safety as well.
So, in addition to warm clothing, you should invest in a pair of gloves with grips to prevent your hands from slipping off the handlebars. You should also have a full-face helmet or shield to protect your eyes from the rain. Consider a helmet visor that does not get foggy or that is designed to improve visibility when it rains.
Another important thing in your rain gear arsenal is a pair of high-traction tires. These types of tires may need replacing more often, but it is better to spend a few dollars now and then than risk severe or fatal injuries.
Motorcyclists should stand out in low visibility and low light conditions. Candlepower bulbs have a higher light output than traditional headlamp bulbs, so you should consider them to increase visibility from the front. You should also install a brake light modulator to increase visibility from behind. Finally, be sure to wear bright and reflective gear to make yourself more visible.
Check Your Tires
Worn-out tires can cause the air pressure in your tires to go low or lead to dangerous blowouts. Under-inflated tires increase your chances of having an accident, even when riding in dry conditions. They also cause poor braking performance, poor handling, and reduced riding precision. These effects are enhanced in rainy or snowy weather.
You can avoid unnecessary accidents by inspecting your tires beforehand to ensure they are not worn out and that they have enough pressure.
Give Yourself More Time to Brake
Braking too fast can cause your motorcycle’s wheels to spin out. To avoid this, you should give yourself extra time to brake, and stop if the need arises. If you need to stop or reduce speed, you must brake earlier than you usually would, then ease into it.
Also, you might need to focus harder to see things in the rain. Going slower and keeping extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you will give more time to notice and react to hazards on the road.
Slow Down and Ride Safely
The faster you go, the higher the risk of hydroplaning. Riding fast also increases your lean angle, which is dangerous in slippery conditions. To avoid an accident, you must ride slower in the rain than you normally would. If you need to be somewhere by a particular time, you should leave earlier than usual to give yourself time to slow down and drive safely
Another safety measure when riding in the rain is standing up from time to time as you ride to remove the water that pools on your laps. If left for too long, water could seep past the zipper of your riding gear, making you uncomfortable and reducing your attention.
When traveling at highway speeds in normal weather conditions, you should always maintain 275 ft. between you and the vehicle ahead of you. This distance should be doubled when it is raining because you need that much more time to stop safely.
Be aware of “Black Ice”
Black ice is a glaze that forms on the roadway when light rain mixes with oil and grime and freezes over. It often blends in with the rest of the roadway but is actually translucent and very slippery.
Black ice is dangerous because it is hard to detect. Be wary of areas on the road ahead that look smoother and shinier than other parts of the road, especially at night and in the early morning.
Also, take note of any car ahead of you that suddenly swerves for no apparent reason. It probably hit a patch of black ice that you want to avoid. If you find yourself riding over black ice, slow down and avoid accelerating or braking until you have passed over it.
It can be hard to know what is inside a puddle and how deep it is. What may seem shallow can damage or stop your wheels and throw you off your motorcycle. A puddle can also contain sharp objects that can puncture your tires. Riding over a puddle also increases the risk of hydroplaning. For these reasons, you should avoid puddles completely.
Look Out for Manhole Covers
You should avoid manhole covers and other metal surfaces because they could be raised, loose, or slippery. If you must ride over them, you should cross them in a straight line slowly without accelerating or braking.
Use Extra Caution at Intersections
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 70% of all car vs. motorcycle accidents occur at intersections. Some causes of accidents in intersections include left-turning cars and rear-end accidents. Therefore, you should pay extra attention to every vehicle and motorcycle in an intersection and determine who has the right of way.
If you get involved in an accident at an intersection, speak to a personal injury lawyer immediately. With the help of a Motorcycle injury lawyer, Sacramento motorcyclists who are involved in accidents can hold the at fault party financially accountable for their injuries, the damage to their bikes, and other related losses.
Ride the Dry Line
If there is a dry area on the road or pavement, use it. If not, try riding in the tire tracks of other motorcycles and cars ahead of you, as their tires may have pushed water off the road briefly. But be sure to keep your eyes on the road as you ride the dry line.
Know When Not to Get Out on the Road
If your tires and rain gear are not fit for riding in the rain, do not go riding. Likewise, you should avoid getting out on the road if the rain is too heavy or if there are reports of flooding.
Know When to Get Off the Road
After all the safety measures mentioned above, riding a motorcycle in the rain is still dangerous, and your safety is still not guaranteed. Therefore, if you decide to ride in the rain, it is important that you recognize when it is time to get off. For instance, there is no point in risking your life by continuing to ride after a slight downpour has turned into a storm. Simply find a safe place to pull over and wait until the storm has passed.
Have You Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in Sacramento?
The tips above can help you reduce the risk of having a motorcycle accident if you are forced to ride in the rain. If possible, you should keep rain gear strapped to your bike or stored in your saddlebags in case you need them when riding.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident in Sacramento, a motorcycle injury lawyer at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you. Our dedicated, compassionate, and determined lawyers protect the rights of injury victims throughout Northern California.
Contact us today for a free case assessment.
Will Insurance Companies Pay for Drunk Driving Accidents?
January 23rd, 2023|
A drunk driving accident can lead to severe injuries and damage to vehicles and property. The cost of medical bills and repair or replacement costs for vehicles after crashes can be thousands of dollars, leaving accident victims burdened with overwhelming expenses during an already stressful time.
Filing a drunk driving accident claim against the negligent driver’s insurance can help you receive compensation to pay for accident-related expenses. However, insurance companies will typically do everything possible to avoid paying you a fair settlement for your injuries.
Read on to learn the factors that insurance companies in California consider when paying a settlement for a drunk driving accident. Contact the California drunk driving injury attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers to help you seek compensation to cover your financial losses.
What Does California Law Say?
In California, it’s against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol. The law states that anyone with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher if they are over 21 years old or a BAC of 0.01% if they are under 21 cannot legally get behind the wheel.
California also has laws on driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs and medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. If a police officer suspects a driver to be under the influence of a substance, they can conduct sobriety tests and potentially put them under arrest.
However, for insurance purposes, drunk drivers are not automatically considered at fault for damages in a car accident. For example, an intoxicated driver may be involved in an accident they did not cause.
A drunk driver may be stopped at a red light when another vehicle fails to stop and rear-ends them. In this case, the drunk driver has not caused the crash, so their insurance does not need to pay to cover the other driver’s damages, even though they were driving drunk.
Drunk Driving and Liability in California
If you were involved in an accident with a drunk driver, even if they were charged with a crime, they may not be responsible for damages resulting from the accident. Legally, the driver may still face jail time, fines, or loss of driving privileges, but insurance companies don’t automatically fault the drunk driver when determining liability for a settlement.
California uses the pure comparative negligence doctrine to assign fault in an auto accident. Pure comparative negligence works by assigning responsibility to drivers involved in an accident. Pure comparative negligence allows anyone to receive damages, even if they are 99% at fault for the damages.
If you file for damages in a drunk driving incident, California insurance companies will examine the factors of the case to determine a level of fault to all parties. For example, they may look at blood-alcohol level tests, camera footage, police reports, or receipts from nearby bars to decide if the driver was drunk and if their actions caused the collision.
Based on the insurance company’s conclusion, they may take the following actions:
- If the drunk driver wasn’t at fault: The insurance company will argue that the drunk driver was not at fault, and therefore, does not need to cover the cost of a claim even though the driver will face criminal charges for driving while intoxicated.
- If a drunk driver was only partially responsible: The insurance of both parties involved in the crash may make payments in this case. For example, a drunk driver ran a red light, but the other driver was texting while driving and hit the drunk driver’s car.
- The drunk driver was at fault: If a drunk driver is at fault in an accident, their insurance will most likely cover your claim because they did not intentionally cause damage or injury. However, depending on the case’s specifics, the drunk driver’s insurance may deny the claim based on illegal activity voiding their policy.
In this case, you may need to seek help from an attorney at Berg Injury Lawyers to help gather evidence, navigate the insurance claims process, and pursue a settlement.
Get Legal Help When Filing a Claim
If you or someone you know were in a car accident, you might not be guaranteed compensation from the drunk driver’s car insurance company. A lawyer specializing in personal injury resulting from drunk driving accidents can help ensure you have the money to pay for your medical bills.
California Drunk Driving Injury Attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you navigate the insurance claim process or file a lawsuit against the guilty party to help you receive the compensation you’re entitled to get you back on your feet.
Our knowledge and experience in car accidents and personal injury cases can win you a fair settlement so you can focus on recovery.
Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.
Does Paying Truck Drivers by The Mile Lead to More Accidents?
January 19th, 2023|
The trucking industry lacks enough drivers. This may be detrimental to the US economy since the trucking industry accounts for 67% of US total freight by weight. There are 3.5 million commercially licensed truck drivers, but only 2.6 million are on the road. The difference in these figures primarily lies in how drivers are being paid.
Nowadays, freight companies usually pay truck drivers by the mile and not by the hour. This encourages truck drivers to spend more time behind the wheel or engage in speeding in order to earn more money. It also has the effect of putting truck drivers and others on the roads at greater risk of being involved in a truck accident.
Truck accidents often result in serious injuries and huge financial losses. If you or someone you care about was injured in a truck accident in Sacramento, hire a Sacramento truck accident lawyer to assist you with getting compensation for your injuries and financial losses.
Read on to learn how an experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in truck accident claims can help.
What Does it Mean to Pay a Truck Driver by the Mile?
Paying a truck driver by the mile means that the driver is paid according to the miles traveled in their job. The rate of pay varies according to experience, the region, and the company the driver works for. Most trucking companies pay between $0.28 to $0.40 per mile, but drivers hauling sensitive materials are paid at a higher rate.
Why Is Paying a Truck Driver by the Mile a Problem?
By far the biggest problem with paying a truck driver by the mile is that it encourages the driver to drive as far as they can in the shortest time possible. To maximize their earnings, drivers might be tempted to speed or continue to drive even after they are fatigued.
This reckless behavior puts the truck driver and others on the road at risk of serious injury. Some of the most dangerous consequences of speeding and fatigued driving are as follows:
- Greater likelihood of losing control of the vehicle;
- More stopping distance needed in an emergency; and
- Greater likelihood of severe injuries and death if an accident occurs;
- Greater likelihood of falling asleep at the wheel;
- Dulled reflexes;
- Tunnel vision; and
- Poor decision-making
Why Trucking Companies are Reluctant to Change their Business Model
Paying truck drivers by the mile is not necessarily the best paying model for trucking companies. However, because of labor requirements, these companies cannot easily adopt a different payment structure.
Paying truck drivers by the mile goes back to 1939 when the Minimum Wage Law or Fair Labor Standard Act was passed. President Frederick. D. Roosevelt passed this law during the great depression to protect laborers from overexploitation. However, he exempted the trucking industry from this requirement and mandated the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to oversee truck drivers’ payment structure.
In 1980, the ICC was stripped of its authority over the trucking industry when Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act. Even with this new law, Congress did not remove the exemption on the Minimum Wage Act, resulting in a piecework rate of pay where drivers are paid for the distance they drive or business they produce.
Truck Accident Statistics
Paying a truck driver by the mile contributes to the nation’s truck accident statistics by encouraging truck drivers to engage in reckless driving behaviors like speeding, tailgating, reckless overtaking, and other behavior that increases the possibility of a truck accident.
Here are some notable truck accident statistics:
- Approximately 130,000 people are injured by truck accidents annually.
- Roughly 4,000 people die from truck accidents every year.
- 4% of fatal truck accidents involve trucks carrying hazardous cargo
- According to driving tests statistics, speeding contributes to 14% of light-truck fatalities and 7% of large-truck fatalities.
- According to FMCSA truck accident statistics for 2020, 54% of all fatal crashes associated with large trucks occurred in rural areas, 27% on interstate highways, and 13% on rural interstate highways.
Compensation for Truck Accident Injuries
To recover compensation after a truck accident in Sacramento, you and your truck accident lawyer need to prove the following:
- The truck driver owed you a duty of care;
- The truck driver breached their duty of care;
- The truck driver’s breach caused you to sustain injuries; and
- You incurred actual damages or financial losses due to the injuries you sustained
With the aid of a skilled truck accident lawyer, Sacramento residents injured in a truck accident are better able to satisfy these requirements and recover the compensation they need and deserve. On the other hand, those who pursue truck accident claims without the assistance of a qualified attorney, often find themselves getting less than what they deserve or nothing at all.
Types of Compensation You Can Get After a Truck Accident
There are essentially three types of damages that may be recovered in a truck accident:
Losses to which an accident victim can assign an actual dollar amount. These include all expenses incurred due to injuries sustained in the truck accident, such as:
- Past and future medical bills;
- Past and future lost wages, income, and benefits
- Damage to your vehicle
- Other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident and your injuries
Non Economic Damages
Intangible losses that are not easy to assign a dollar amount, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Compensation for scarring and disfigurement
Your Sacramento truck accident lawyer may enlist the help of experts to assist with assessing all of your damages and calculating how much you need to be fully compensated.
A court may award you punitive damages if the liable truck driver willfully and willingly disregarded safety laws or exhibited particularly egregious behavior. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the wrongdoer and to deter others from engaging in similar behavior. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you determine if your truck accident case warrants punitive damages.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents
What Should You Do Immediately After a Truck Accident?
There are several important things you need to do immediately after a Sacramento truck accident for your health and wellbeing and to preserve evidence:
- Call 911;
- Seek medical attention;
- Take pictures of the accident scene;
- Exchange information with the truck driver;
- Talk to the witnesses about what they saw and ask for their contact information; and
- Contact a truck accident lawyer in Sacramento
What Parties May Be at Fault for a Truck Accident?
In addition to the driver, the following parties may also be at fault in a truck accident:
- The trucking company;
- The truck’s manufacturer;
- The truck maintenance company;
- The loader;
- The shipper; and
- Other third parties
Your Sacramento truck accident lawyer can assess the circumstances involved in your truck accident and attempt to identify every party that may be held liable.
How Do You Choose a Truck Accident Lawyer?
There are specific qualities you need to look for when choosing a lawyer for a Sacramento truck accident case, specifically:
- Experience handling truck accident claims in Sacramento;
- Willingness to work aggressively towards a settlement;
- The ability to communicate with you effectively;
- Transparent fees;
- Impressive client testimonials and reviews; and
- Whether you and the lawyer are compatible
Is There Any Cap on Damages for a Truck Accident Claim in California?
No. California has not established any cap on damages recovered for any personal injury case, including truck accident claims. This applies to all three types of damages, economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Contact a Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accidents can be devastating. Victims often suffer fatal injuries and incur huge financial losses. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident in Sacramento, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we are ready to help you seek what you are rightfully owed.
We have been fighting for injury victims for more than 40 years. We offer a free consultation to every potential client and charge no legal fee unless we win your case. Contact us today and let us give you the peace of mind you need as you recover from your injuries.
What Is the Difference Between a California M1 and M2 License?
January 18th, 2023|
This blog was originally published on May 11, 2020.
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-wheeled vehicle 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-wheeled vehicle 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 only have 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 need to 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 Guide. Find your local DMV office to identify the office you’ll need to visit to get your 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 identity document or a 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 full legal name.
What Else Do You Need to Legally Operate a 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 specific to your motorcycle, as your existing auto insurance policy for other vehicles won’t automatically include coverage for your motorcycle.
California’s required motorcycle insurance coverage is 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 all others involved in the accident, and $5,000 of coverage for property damage caused by a collision.
You can learn more about riding a motorcycle in California by checking out the following resources:
- What to Do Before, During, and After Riding a Motorcycle
- What Is California’s Lane-Splitting Law in 2021?
- The Leading Causes of Motorcycle Crashes in California
If You Need Help After a Motorcycle Accident in California, Call Us Today
Berg Injury Lawyers handles motorcycle accident cases across Northern California. Our San Francisco personal injury lawyers have years of experience dealing with insurance companies on our clients’ behalf, and 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, but 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.
What’s a Putative Spouse in California?
January 18th, 2023|
Filing a wrongful death claim in California can be a complicated and confusing process, made worse by simultaneously grieving the loss of a loved one. Usually, wrongful death lawsuits are filed by surviving spouses with the assistance of California wrongful death lawyers.
But in some cases, surviving spouses find out after their spouse’s death that their marriage may never have been legally valid due to a defect or technicality.
When these unfortunate situations occur, California law provides an avenue for recourse through the putative spouse doctrine. In this blog post, we’ll explain what a putative spouse is under California law, and how the putative spouse doctrine can assist families of wrongful death victims.
California Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death lawsuit is filed after a person dies due to another person’s negligence. Filed by the victim’s surviving family members, wrongful death claims are designed to compensate surviving family members for the loss they have suffered.
During a case consultation with our team of wrongful death lawyers, California families can explore the types of damages that may be available in their specific case, as damages vary from case to case. The types of damages that may be available in a wrongful death case include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of future earning potential
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of expected gifts or inheritances
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In California, the law first permits a victim’s surviving spouse to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If a victim is unmarried, then the lawsuit may be filed by other surviving immediate family members, such as children, parents, or siblings.
In some cases, a surviving spouse may find out after their spouse’s death that they were actually never legally married. In these situations, California law labels the surviving spouse as a “putative spouse” and allows them to file a wrongful death lawsuit if they meet certain conditions.
What is a Putative Spouse in California?
Under California law, a putative spouse is a person who holds a reasonable belief that they are married, when in reality, their marriage is legally invalid. Putative spouses in California are allowed to file wrongful death lawsuits if they genuinely believe that their marriage to the victim was true and valid.
Most often, the putative spouse issue arises in cases of second marriages, where one spouse’s divorce may not have been actually finalized, accidentally leaving the first marriage legally intact.
Putative Spouses in California Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The California Supreme Court most recently addressed the putative spouse issue in a 2013 case titled Ceja v. Rudolph & Sletten, Inc. In that case, the deceased victim filed for divorce from his first wife, but it was not finalized until three months after the victim and his second wife married. Because the divorce was not finalized when the second marriage occurred, the second marriage was never legally valid.
But despite that, the second wife changed her last name, wore a wedding ring, and otherwise held herself out as the victim’s legally wedded wife. Four years later, the victim was killed in an on-the-job accident at a construction site. The victim’s employer tried to dismiss the lawsuit, but the court disagreed, holding that the putative spouse doctrine applied because the surviving spouse held a genuine belief that her marriage to the victim was valid.
Rights of California Putative Spouses
Putative spouses in California hold the same legal rights as any other surviving spouse. In short, the putative spouse doctrine provides a solution for spouses who may be surprised to learn that their marriages are invalid. Experienced wrongful death lawyers in California, such as our team at Berg Injury Lawyers, are knowledgeable about the putative spouse doctrine and its applications.
Why You Need a California Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you and your family find yourselves grieving the loss of a loved one caused by another person’s negligence, you should contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Our team at Berg Injury Lawyers has been representing California families for more than 40 years, including in wrongful death lawsuits.
We’re proud to offer free case consultations to prospective wrongful death clients, and we’re ready to hear from you. Contact us today to set up an appointment.
Are Back Injuries Caused by Car Accidents Difficult to Prove in a Claim?
January 16th, 2023|
If your back was injured in an automobile accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and lowered quality of life. However, these injuries can be challenging to prove liability, and insurance companies fight hard to avoid paying you what you are due.
The California auto accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers have years of experience negotiating with insurance companies and getting back injury victims the compensation they deserve.
How Common Are Back Injuries in Car Accidents?
Roughly 4.4 million Americans are injured in car accidents yearly, resulting in $380 million in medical costs. According to the California Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, there were 15,379 traffic accidents resulting in injuries in the state in 2020.
Back injuries are some of the most common injuries in car crashes because they can happen in any type of crash, even minor fender benders. Nationwide, there are roughly 869,000 cervical spine injuries due to automobile accidents. The lumbosacral spine region was the most commonly injured portion of the back in car accidents, along with other spinal disk and column injuries.
What Makes Back Injuries Difficult to Prove?
Back injuries can result from various activities, including manual labor, existing muscle imbalances, sitting in chairs with improper lumbar support, sleeping on the wrong mattress, and minor slips and falls.
Insurance companies may try to claim that your back pain is due to another, different injury or cause. They may state that your back pain existed before your car accident, that it is a result of an injury after your accident, or that it is due to a different health issue you may have. They may even claim you are overstating the severity of the pain.
Back injuries are complex, and the other driver’s insurance company can claim that the car accident was only one of several causes or that only a minor injury resulting from the accident was then made worse by an unrelated activity or injury later. Back injuries often take years to heal, if they heal at all, so they could also claim that it is an old injury that predates your accident.
The insurance company will try everything possible to avoid paying you what you deserve. With legal representation from Berg Injury Lawyers, your skilled attorney can help you prove your case and get the compensation you deserve. We can gather evidence to support your medical claim and negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement on your behalf.
What Steps Can You Take to Strengthen a Claim?
If you have a back injury resulting from an automobile accident, there are steps you can take to strengthen your claim. In any potential legal case, you must prove:
- Your accident was caused by the negligence of another driver
- Your back injuries are a direct result of the accident
- The financial damages you deserve are a result of your back injuries
Successful back injury legal cases require two types of proof, evidence from the accident and medical evidence that backs up your health claims.
Accident evidence should include:
- Any possible physical evidence from the scene, including any debris on the road
- Witness testimony
- Police reports or other investigations of the accident
- Pictures of the damage, crash scene, skid marks, and road conditions
- Any possible video footage from CCTV cameras or dashcams
For medical evidence, visit your doctor immediately after an accident and receive a complete exam. Schedule an X-ray, MRI, and CAT scans to show the physical condition of your back, particularly when compared with any scans taken before your injury. Ask your doctor for a report detailing the damage and its effects on your body.
It is also essential to prepare a detailed report of how your injuries affect your life, including:
- Calculation of any wages lost
- Detailed tabulation of all associated medical expenses
- Estimate of future medical bills
- Pain and suffering losses quantified into a dollar amount
- An affidavit detailing your pain and how it has impacted your life
- Personal testimony in journal entries or from friends or family that can attest to the changes in your personality or physical capabilities
This information, along with the assistance of the car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers, can help you present a case that will be difficult for an insurance company to refute.
Our team will work with you to depose witnesses, take your sworn statements, help confirm your expense calculations, and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you get the settlement you deserve.
Get Compensation for Your Back Injury with Berg Injury Lawyers
If you suffered a back injury in a California auto accident, you can seek compensation with the help of Berg Injury Lawyers. Our attorneys have worked hard for clients for more than 40 years to get them the compensation they deserve when a negligent driver causes a life-changing injury.
Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation regarding your auto accident case. We can review your medical records and the circumstances of the accident to help ensure you get the maximum compensation so you can rebuild your life.
Can a Personal Injury Attorney Really Help You?
January 13th, 2023|
In an ideal world, personal injury attorneys would not be necessary, because no one would get injured. But unfortunately, in our world, countless people are injured due to another person’s negligence every day. If you are one of these people, and you’ve recently been injured due to the negligence of another person, you may be wondering if a personal injury attorney can really help you and your family. The answer is “yes,” and we’ll explain why.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
When a person is injured due to another’s bad acts, the victim of that accident is entitled under the law to receive compensation for their injuries. A personal injury lawsuit filed on a victim’s behalf by a Sacramento personal injury attorney is the mechanism by which that compensation is sought and received.
A Misconception About Personal Injury Lawsuits
One important misconception about personal injury lawsuits is that they are brought against individuals, and that filing a lawsuit could cause a defendant to lose their house or go into bankruptcy. That thought sounds cruel, and it may persuade some people against filing a lawsuit, but personal injury lawsuits don’t really work that way. While personal injury lawsuits can be brought against individuals, many are brought against insurance companies who insure defendants in these lawsuits.
In other words, if you are injured by another person’s negligence, the law provides you an avenue of recourse, and you should take full advantage of it to obtain the compensation you and your family may be entitled to.
Obtaining a Settlement Before Trial
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits end in settlement before trial. A settlement occurs when a defendant offers to pay an amount of money, usually kept confidential, in exchange for a plaintiff dropping a lawsuit. Oftentimes, in personal injury cases, insurance companies will look to settle lawsuits as quickly as possible, meaning that your personal injury lawsuit could be over in a much shorter amount of time than you expected.
What a Personal Injury Attorney Can Do For You
In addition to filing a lawsuit, a personal injury attorney in Sacramento can assist you in many other ways. Among those ways include the following:
Help You Get Proper Medical Attention
Sometimes, one of the biggest villains in an accident story is unexpected: your own insurance company. The insurance business model depends on paying out as little as possible for claims, and your insurance company may be reluctant to approve procedures, medications, and treatments that you need to receive. A personal injury attorney can assist you in ensuring that your insurance company provides the coverage that it is obligated to provide you.
Provide a Professional and Objective Approach to Your Claim
At Berg Injury Lawyers, we believe that honesty is key. We’re always honest with our clients about their claims for compensation, and when you consult one of our personal injury attorneys, you gain a professional and objective look at your case. Being involved in an accident is an emotional situation, and injuries can be devastating. A lawyer can assist you in setting these feelings aside and seeing things in a truly objective manner.
Negotiate with Insurance Companies
As previously mentioned, insurance companies will look to pay as little as possible for claims, including claims for liability. A personal injury lawyer can assist you by negotiating with insurance companies to ensure that they pay an amount that will fully and fairly compensate you for your injuries. If an insurance company chooses to make low-ball offers at the settlement table, a personal injury attorney can then take your case to trial, if necessary.
Gather and Preserve Evidence
Making a successful personal injury claim requires a lot of evidence and documentation – especially when proving your injuries, and in turn, how much compensation you intend to seek. A personal injury attorney can assist you in gathering and preserving all of this information. You may not be aware of some important pieces of evidence that could be critical to your case, and a personal injury attorney can assist you. Otherwise, the burden of gathering documentation is a heavy one. While you recover from your injuries, letting an attorney do this work is a major stress reliever.
Berg Injury Lawyers Is Ready to Assist You
Our clients are our top priority. In addition to seeking compensation on our clients’ behalf, we strive to make the legal process a smooth one that involves minimal effort on your part. In the past 40 years that we’ve been assisting accident victims as personal injury attorneys, Sacramento residents have come to know and recognize Berg Injury Lawyers as an outstanding resource in our community. We handle all types of personal injury cases, including car accidents, wrongful death cases, and cases involving defective products.
If you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. We’re ready to help you and your family today. Contact our office to set up a free case consultation with a personal injury attorney.
Settlement Factors in a Motorcycle Accident Case
January 9th, 2023|
When you’re hurt in a motorcycle accident, you may want to seek compensation for your medical bills and other financial losses. The events leading to the accident, the insurance policies, and whether an at-fault driver can pay for the damages can all affect your compensation.
Read on to learn what factors into a settlement in a motorcycle case and how our professional California motorcycle accident attorneys can help you determine what your case is worth and advocate for maximum compensation.
What Is a Settlement in a Motorcycle Accident Case?
A settlement is when two parties agree on an amount the plaintiff receives for the case without going to trial. Both parties give up their right to a future court case when they agree on a settlement amount.
For instance, say you sustain severe injuries after an accident with a car while riding your motorcycle. You required months of physical therapy after the accident and lost wages due to your inability to work. You want $50,000 as compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. The case would settle if both sides were willing to compromise and agree to the compensation.
How Much Are Most Motorcycle Accident Settlements?
The average motorcycle settlement depends on the severity of your injuries. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that motorcycle crashes resulted in a total $16 billion in direct costs nationally. Around 18% of direct motorcycle accident costs are medical expenses, second to 44% in lost wages.
Those who ride motorcycles are at a greater risk of sustaining severe injuries than passengers in other vehicles, with older riders suffering more serious injuries than younger riders. On average, the cost of nonfatal crashes ranged from $2,500 for minor injuries to $1.4 million for severe injuries. Motorcycle accident victims who suffer severe brain injuries may not be able to work and may require ongoing care, increasing their medical expenses.
Motorcycle Accidents and California Law
Since California is a fault-based auto insurance state, the state considers the at-fault party responsible for damages incurred to the rider. The state also considers comparative negligence when more than one party is liable for the motorcycle crash.
According to California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 406, there must be a 100% allocation of liability among all parties involved in the motorcycle collision. You may face liability in the collision if your actions partially caused your injuries. For example, if you weren’t wearing a helmet per California law.
If your lawyer persuades the jury that the other driver was also negligent, you will receive compensation, although the award damages are reduced according to your own percentage of fault. Your lawyer can use evidence from the accident to help prove the other driver’s negligence and calculate a fair settlement amount.
Major Factors in Motorcycle Accident Settlements
Many factors affect how much you can receive in your motorcycle accident case. When you file a compensation claim with the other driver’s insurance, the company will examine all aspects of the case to determine a settlement amount. These factors include the following:
Specific financial damages form the basis of your settlement, such as your medical bills, lost wages, and property damages. The value of your compensation also includes intangible losses, such as emotional pain and suffering that you and your family members suffer due to your changed quality of life.
The Driver’s Actions
Photos, dashcam videos, and smartphone footage can demonstrate whether the driver of the other vehicle was negligent in causing the motorcycle accident. These negligent actions can include:
- Speeding and racing
- Aggressive driving, such as illegal passing and running red lights
- Distracted driving, like texting and eating snacks
These may prove the driver violated traffic laws and caused the crash. Lawyers can also use your medical bills and records to connect your injuries to the crash.
Availability of Witnesses
If you have witnesses who saw your accident, they can provide details about what transpired before, during, and after it. This information can help determine fault and provide insight into what took place.
Other Things to Consider
A driver’s auto liability insurance policy may limit what they pay for injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents. The minimum auto insurance limits are $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 for property damage.
If your medical expenses exceed $15,000, you may not receive the full compensation for your injuries. You may instead need to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit to recover the full extent of your damages.
The party’s ability to pay also factors into your motorcycle accident settlement. For example, if the other driver doesn’t carry the required minimum liability insurance or any insurance, you may have trouble obtaining compensation. You can file for compensation against your own insurance if you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.
If you don’t have this coverage, you can seek damages from the driver in a personal injury lawsuit; however, damages would come from their personal assets, which means you may not see compensation.
Is it Better to Settle Your Motorcycle Accident Claim or Go to Trial?
You and your lawyer can accept or reject any settlement offer during the settlement process. You can also negotiate a better deal for future medical expenses and motorcycle replacement parts.
You can take your case to court if the insurance company refuses to negotiate further. You may feel more satisfied with justice when the negligent parties are found guilty of causing the accident, and the jury may award you the maximum amount.
It is best to explore your legal options with the motorcycle accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers, who can help you maximize your compensation in a motorcycle accident case.
Contact a California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer to Discuss Your Case
An experienced personal injury lawyer at Berg Injury Lawyers can determine whether a settlement offer is fair based on the factors that apply to your accident. Our attorneys can discuss your options if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident.
Contact our law office today to discuss your case with a skilled lawyer in a free, no-obligation consultation.
Who Can Be Held Responsible in a Self-Driving Car Accident?
January 5th, 2023|
Self-driving cars represent a new age in the auto industry. Along with implementing smart technologies like traffic sensors in major cities like Sacramento, vehicle manufacturers are creating self-driving cars to change the roadways for drivers.
The federal Department of Transportation has mapped safety standards and plans for integrating autonomous vehicles on American roads. Self-driving cars could create employment opportunities for two million people with disabilities and save the healthcare system $19 billion annually in healthcare costs of missed appointments.
However, no amount of technological advancement can put an end to all risks associated with driving. The California DMV has received 533 reports of accidents involving autonomous vehicles from manufacturers during test runs as of December 2022.
If you are involved in a self-driving vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, determining liability for this type of accident can be challenging. Learn more about liability in self-driving car collisions and how Berg Injury Lawyers can help you with your case.
How Self-Driving Cars Work
Self-driving cars rely on automated safety features to detect surrounding objects, cars, and other vehicles. These features include cameras and sensors to operate and navigate on highways and roads.
Cameras and Light Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology scan the car’s surroundings when out on the road. The vehicle’s computer builds a map of its surroundings and places the car within the map, allowing the technology to plan a route for the vehicle to travel.
Path planning allows driverless cars to find routes that are as safe and fast as possible while maneuvering in traffic. They start with a long-range plan and then generate short-range plans that can change as the trip progresses.
A self-driving vehicle’s map includes all visible and predicted obstacles it may face. Machine learning enables them to identify specific objects such as motorcycles and bicycles and avoid them accordingly.
Other self-driving vehicles can communicate with each other over a wireless connection to see if hidden objects are ahead. When one vehicle encounters an obstacle, it warns the other cars so they can avoid it.
The self-driving car may become dangerous if it cannot detect hazards effectively and efficiently. Sensor degradation and failure can cause detection errors, confuse the car’s computer, and make driving dangerous. A human driver may need to take over if the car’s systems fail during the trip. If this occurs, it may complicate identifying who was at fault in a car accident.
Who is Liable if Autopilot Crashes?
Self-driving car accident liability can fall on the human driver or the self-driving vehicle manufacturer. Responsibility depends on whether the car’s auto-pilot system was turned on during the accident.
California’s Vehicle Code 38750 requires self-driving cars to have safety alert systems to warn drivers of computer failures. The driver must regain complete control over the car’s brakes, acceleration, and steering wheel if a computer failure occurs. A driver who doesn’t take control during an emergency can be held responsible for the accident.
Since driverless vehicles use computers and cameras to plan routes, computing factors can contribute to defects in these vehicles. Computing problems can include:
- Software bugs
- System failures
- Inability to warn the operator to take over the vehicle
Product liability laws in California hold those who design, manufacture or sell defective products strictly responsible for any injuries. Vehicle manufacturers must consider collision safety when designing and building their products. Therefore, vehicle manufacturers are liable for damages caused by manufacturing or design defects.
The Question of Venue to File Your Lawsuit
The appropriate court or venue can be an issue in filing a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident. You can file in any judicial district where the crash happened or where the other party lives. However, venue issues can arise if the other party is an out-of-state corporation, such as an auto manufacturer.
You can work with the California auto accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers to help you with your lawsuit against the auto manufacturing company. We can help you establish the manufacturer’s minimum contacts, such as having an in-state physical location or accepting online orders in-state.
A state court must find these contacts sufficient to assert personal jurisdiction and allow you to sue the company in California. If your damages are at least $75,000, we can help you transfer your case to federal court.
Start Your Case with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Proving liability in a self-driving car accident can be complex with the assistance of an accomplished car accident attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers. We understand California’s self-driving vehicle laws and can help you build a claim against the driver and/or the manufacturer who caused your injuries.
Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with one of our lawyers.