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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

A lot of times, when you hear the words “premises liability,” you might first think of a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident in a store or other place of business. The reality is, though, that the law of premises liability in California exists to protect more than shoppers and other guests on commercial properties. It can include slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents, but also swimming pool accidents or broken sidewalk accidents, as well. Basically, if you’ve been hurt on property belonging to someone else because they didn’t keep their property sufficiently safe, you may have a case for compensation and should contact a knowledgeable San Mateo injury attorney without delay.

Another kind of accident that may potentially present a case for premises liability damages is falling tree branch accidents. California has seen several of these accidents trigger litigation in recent years, and another falling tree branch accident has occurred just recently here in San Mateo County, this time with tragic results.

Late last month, according to a Facebook post issued by Burlingame City Hall, a tree limb of approximately 60 feet in length “dropped suddenly.” The branch crashed down upon a group of people picnicking in Washington Park and killed a 29-year-old woman. Additionally, three other people were hospitalized as a result of the impact, according to the San Mateo Daily Journal. The Daily Journal also indicated that the city had, following the accident, hired independent arborists to examine and assess the condition of the large pine tree.

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When you are injured due to someone’s else negligence, you may find yourself facing an argument that, despite that negligence, the other person isn’t liable – and not entitled to compensation – because you “assumed the risk” of the kind of danger that ultimately hurt you. There are many circumstances, though, where you can successfully overcome an “assumption of the risk” defense and win your case. To get the help you need to do that, be sure you’re represented by a skilled San Mateo injury attorney.

A Bay Area woman’s injury was an example of an “assumption of the risk” case. D.W. was walking her dog at the Tilden Regional Park in the East Bay Regional Park District when she was hurt. Another park visitor’s dog, which was a very large breed, wandered over to where D.W. was and, although the dog’s owner told his dog to sit, the dog did not sit. Eventually, the dog returned to his owner but, as he did so, he collided with D.W., causing her to fall, break her leg and dislocate her ankle.

D.W., having been seriously hurt, sued the owner, A.W., for the harm she suffered. The injured woman accused the large dog’s owner of negligence that caused her accident. The injured woman also shrewdly added an additional assertion: that A.W. was negligent per se because he violated an East Bay Regional Park District Ordinance that said that allowed dogs at the park to be off-leash, but required that owners maintain control over their off-leash animals at all times.

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News reports have revealed a new surge of COVID-19 cases. CNN reported that, on June 23, California logged more than 7,000 new cases. That was a new record. The old record? Just over 5,000… on June 22. It’s clear the dangers of COVID-19 aren’t going away anytime soon, and that may lead you to a question: what happens if I become infected as a result of visiting a store, restaurant or other establishment? Do I have any legal recourse for that business’s failure to protect me? Depending on the facts of your case, you may have a basis for a civil lawsuit, so it is worth your while to consult a knowledgeable San Mateo personal injury attorney if that happens to you.

In California, as in every other state, there’s something called premises liability law. This is the area of law that applies to things like “slip-and-fall” cases, “trip-and-fall” cases, swimming pool accidents or a bedbug lawsuit against a hotel. It can apply in most situations where someone responsible for a property failed to act in a reasonable manner to keep the property reasonably safe. If there was a hazard that posed a foreseeable risk of harm and the person or entity who owned, leased, managed or controlled that property knew or should have known about the danger, but failed to take proper steps to address the hazard or else to post proper warnings about the dangerous condition, then that’s potentially a case of premises liability.

In the circumstance of a COVID-19 infection, the hazard (the coronavirus) is obviously well-known in the general public, as is the potential risk of harm (infection.) Nevertheless, a successful case will still require the harmed individual to prove that this general knowledge met the law’s standard for actual notice or constructive notice on the part of the property manager.

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When you’re hurt and you have to sue for damages, a trial may be part of the process. It’s important to remember, though, that the trial itself is not the beginning, middle and end of your case. There is a great deal of work that goes into the period before your trial in order to ensure that the outcome you get is the outcome you need. To be sure you have the right legal help to get you to a successful outcome, make sure you have an experienced San Mateo injury attorney working for you.

I.T.’s case was an example of the importance of success in the pre-trial phase. I.T. was a construction worker who fell through a skylight at a construction site and who, as a result, sued the general contractor on the project. Before the trial, the defense filed a motion arguing that I.T. was an independent contractor, that the contractor could not be liable under California law and that it was entitled to summary judgment in its favor.

The battle over a defense motion for summary judgment is an extremely important crossroads in any injury case. In a civil lawsuit, there are generally two ways to arrive at a successful outcome. One is through settlement and one is via a judgment. To receive substantial compensation via either of these paths, it is often necessary to defeat a defense motion for summary judgment. A summary judgment for the defense is something ordered by the court that says that, regardless of what evidence you might put on at trial, there is no possible way under the law that you could succeed in getting a judgment in your favor.

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Many of us have heard a lot on the cable news channels about the importance of “precedent” in the law in recent years. Precedent is, of course, very important. It means that, generally, if past rulings said that a defendant was not liable in a particular set of circumstances, then you typically won’t win your case if the circumstances surrounding your injury were substantially similar to those past cases. Sometimes, though, the law should – and does – change. Just because previous injured people have lost their cases that seem similar to yours, that alone is not reason to give up on your case. Instead of giving up, discuss your situation with an experienced San Mateo injury attorney to find out if there may still be possibilities for success for you.

A recent case involving a baseball spectator is an example of how changing standards in an industry may mean a change in the law. S.J. was a 12-year-old girl attending a baseball game in Long Beach. She and her mother were seated just beyond the protective netting behind home plate. A foul ball struck the girl in the face, causing massive damage including a cranial hemorrhage and severe damage to her optic nerve. The girl required the insertion of a metal plate behind her eye, which was the first of several surgeries she would require to treat fully the harm caused by the foul ball.

Historically, baseball spectators who suffer injuries after a foul ball hits them have had very little success in personal injury lawsuits. That’s because of a legal concept called “assumption of risk.” That concept says that, if you voluntarily engage in an activity that carries with it certain inherent risks, then you become the person responsible for any harm occurring as a result of that activity. That has often included baseball spectators, as voluntarily choosing to attend a baseball game carries with it the inherent risk that a foul ball (or a homerun ball) might hit you and hurt you, meaning that the player, the league/association or the stadium owner were not responsible.

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If your family is harmed in a serious accident, there are many hurdles you must clear to achieve a full and fair recovery through litigation. You must be able to prove exactly how extensively you and your family have been harmed. However, before you do that, you first have to choose correctly when it comes to naming a defendant in your case. Sometimes, the question of who was at fault may be murky. When that happens you and your legal team need to be sure you correctly assessed the situation and correctly identified the party (or parties) legally culpable. Naming the wrong defendants can delay or reduce your recovery, or possibly can lead to total defeat in your case. For making essential choices like this, be sure to rely on representation from an experienced San Mateo premises liability attorney.

A terrible accident in Southern California was an example of naming the right defendant and eventually obtaining a beneficial result for the family harmed in the accident. A.P., a 2-year-old girl playing at the Linda Vista Children’s Center, suffered massive injuries when a 20-foot eucalyptus tree branch fell and struck her. Her injuries injured a fractured neck, a cracked skull, a brain injury and a fractured leg, according to ABC 7.

When a child is seriously hurt in an accident, while she may be the only one physically injured by the incident, she may not be the only one harmed by it. That was the case for this California family. The girl’s mother told ABC 7 that both she and the girl’s father had to quit their jobs as the little girl required around-the-clock care.

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Many people injured in auto accidents, dog attacks, trip-and-fall accidents and slip-and-fall accidents resolve their cases by settling instead of proceeding to a verdict. Settlement may offer you the opportunity to acquire much-needed financial compensation without the stress and time that must be invested in pursuing a case all the way to a verdict. Your settlement will almost certainly come with a settlement agreement, which will probably contain some limitations about what you and your opponent can and cannot say about your case. It is very important to have a skilled San Mateo injury attorney by your side and that you understand and follow those contractual requirements. And, if your opponent does not follow them, then you may be entitled to recover additional compensation for your opponent’s breach of the contract.

Here’s an example from Southern California. E.L. and M.J. were neighbors in Los Angeles County. The neighbors’ legal battle began after E.L.’s dog killed M.J.’s cat. Each neighbor hired an attorney and, ultimately, the two neighbors agreed to a settlement where the dog owner paid the cat owner $2,000. The settlement agreement also contained a clause that said that neither neighbor was allowed to disparage the other.

Sometime after the two neighbors signed the agreement, E.L. posted a “hostile message” about M.J. on the website Nextdoor.com. M.J. then responded by suing E.L. (again.) This time, he sued for defamation, as well as breach of contract.

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When you are suing someone in a trip-and-fall accident, it is important that the defect that tripped you up not be so slight that the law defines it as “trivial.” That means that the defect was so minor or small that a reasonable person would have been able to navigate it without harm. If you can overcome this “trivial defect” argument hurdle, then you have an enhanced chance of getting your day in court to prove your case and recover compensation. To make sure you are clearing the “trivial defect” and all other hurdles, be sure you have a skilled San Mateo trip and fall attorney working on your behalf.

A pair of cases illustrate each side of this legal coin. M.M. was successful in her premises liability lawsuit because of the strong evidence she had, while C.H. was not successful in his case.

M.M. overcame the “trivial defect” argument in her case against a hotel due to her evidence regarding size. In some cases, California courts have held that defects as small as ½ inch were not trivial and allowed the injured person to proceed to trial. However, cases with defects of less than 1” often have a greater chance of overcoming this “trivial defect” hurdle if there are special or “aggravating” circumstances, like broken or jagged concrete edges, cracks or potholes.

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Too many times, people associate “slip-and-fall” accidents in a negative way. If this type of harm has never affected you, you may think of these accidents as ones involving trivially injured people exaggerating their injuries. The reality is actually very different. Slip-and-fall accidents often are very seriously harmful things. According to statistics published by the CDC, accidental falls were the #1 cause of injuries requiring hospital ER treatment in 2017. At almost 8.6 million incidents, the number of these falls was almost equal to the second, third and fourth causes combined.

Sounds pretty far from trivial, doesn’t it? So, the next time you’re hurt in a slip-and-fall, don’t dismiss it as nothing. Get the medical care necessary to protect your health and then get the legal representation you need to protect your rights by contacting an experienced San Mateo premises liability attorney.

J.P. was someone who suffered an obviously serious injury in a fall. While at an Asian buffet restaurant in Los Angeles County, J.P. went to the restroom. On his way back to his seat, J.P. slipped, fell and shattered his left knee in multiple places. After the accident, J.P. sued the restraint for premises liability. (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC659957.)

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As you may know if you’ve attended certain events, property owners and event organizers sometimes may seek to use forms with titles like “release and waiver of liability” to limit their possibility of having pay damages for injury accidents that occur on their properties. If you are someone entering a property whose owner is requiring such a form, it is extremely important to make sure you understand exactly what you’re signing before you sign it.

However, even if you did sign, even if it is enforceable and even if it is broad in its coverage, that doesn’t mean that you are completely without options if you’re hurt while on that property. A recent ruling in a Northern California accident case is a good reminder that possibilities for success in a premises liability case can still exist, even in the face of a signed waiver. To discover what options you have for recovering the compensation you need, talk to an experienced San Mateo personal injury attorney right away.

The injured person in that recent accident case was G.V., an attendee at a two-day motorcycle race held in a remote part of San Benito County. He was there to watch his grandson participate in the race. When the grandfather and grandson entered, race organizers had each man sign a “Release and Waiver of Liability” form.

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