June 2011 Archives

But filing a Wrongful Death Claim Wont Bring My Loved One Back

June 30, 2011,

I hear this every time I discuss the need to file a wrongful death case for a potential client. Obviously, there is nothing we can do to help bring back a loved one when they are killed due to someone else's negligence. However, the filing of a wrongful death claim may be the most important thing you do to help preserve the memory of your loved one. Its not about the money, its about the legacy. grieving-man.jpg

There is no way to put a price on the life of a loved one. Obviously, no amount of money will compensate for the untimely loss of a loved one. So why bring the claim in the first place? There are many reasons to bring a wrongful death claim including:

To Punish and Deter Conduct: In some instances, when someone's action (or inaction) causes the death of another, and such action rises above mere negligence, a claimant would seek punitive punishment for the party responsible for the loved one's death. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit would act as a potential deterrent to others that may be behaving in a manner similar to the responsible party. This could potentially prevent the unfortunate death of others and leave a lasting legacy for your loved one. But for the filing of these claims, how would we deter people or companies from acting the same way again. Unfortunately, people act according to how their pocket book or wallet is affected. Many large corporations actually build the costs of death into their business model.

Continue reading "But filing a Wrongful Death Claim Wont Bring My Loved One Back" »

The Million Dollar Question: Do I Have a Case?

June 29, 2011,

Nearly every time I meet with a potential client regarding a personal injury matter, I am asked the same question: Do I have a case? Unfortunately, the answer is not always that easy. Generally, it is my impression that potential clients want to know whether they have a good case or not. A good case is not determined by the potential value of the case. Rather, a good case is one in which a client who has been harmed by another can recover both physically and financially to be put in the position they were prior to the injury.FAQ.jpg

After someone is injured in a car accident, they often come into my office to consult with me. When I discuss the case with a potential client, there are always five things I need to know before I can determine if the case is a "good case" or not:

  1. Is liability in dispute?
  2. What is the property damage?
  3. What are the insurance policy limits?
  4. What are the medical injuries and costs of medical treatment?
  5. Is the injury complained of a result of the accident in question?
Each of these questions is important to help determine the outcome of the case. Each of these factors is important and no one factor is necessarily more important than the other. Lets exam why each factor is important.

Continue reading "The Million Dollar Question: Do I Have a Case? " »

Rental Cars: Your Car Insurance Coverage May Not Be Enough To Protect You

June 28, 2011,

It's summer time. Most people travel with their families while the kids are on summer vacation. When many of us travel, we often rent cars to utilize in other cities and states. Often, we assume that our car insurance coverage will be sufficient to cover losses from a car accident that occurs while driving a rental car. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes we assume that the credit card we used to rent the vehicle will cover anything not covered by our primary insurance. This too is not always the case. It is up to you to make sure that you have the proper coverage when you rent a car so that you, your family and your assets are protected.Rental cars.jpg

Car accidents happen all too frequently. Because of this fact, car insurance is an absolute necessity. When purchasing car insurance, you must research and determine what coverages are important for you and your family. The same care must be taken when determining what coverages are available for you when renting a vehicle. Although many credit card companies offer insurance coverage when you rent a vehicle using the credit cars, the insurance offered various greatly by company. You must contact your company to determine what coverage is available and it's the type of coverage that will protect you and your family in case of an accident.

Credit card companies usually cover payments for damage to the vehicle or stolen items, but what about towing and storage fees, additional rental fees and the costs of lodging if no vehicle is available. Some credit cards, like American Express offer a special protection plans that are an additional cost but provide for more coverage such as rental and towing. Call before you go on your trip. It may be the best phone call you make and can save you thousands. You can determine what insurance coverage is available in advance.

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Contingency Fees: Why You Can't Afford To Represent Yourself

June 27, 2011,

A question that runs through people's minds when they are thinking about hiring a lawyer is, "How will I pay for it all?" I always sense hesitation in people's voices before they ask this question. There is no reason to fear. The answer, for most personal injury and medical malpractice cases, is a contingency fee . What does a contingency fee mean? What are the benefits or detriments of this system? Will I pay costs? These are all questions that I routinely answer for clients and will answer them below. Court House.jpg

What does a contingency fee mean?
With this arrangement, rather than pay a flat or hourly rate to the attorney, the client agrees to pay the attorney a percentage of any recovery in the case, if any. Usually that fee ranges from 25% to 45% of the recovery in the case. That doesn't mean, however, that you won't have to pay anything to the lawyer as the case moves along. In every case, there are costs. Many lawyers request some costs be paid up front or throughout the pending claim. Some firms, like my firm, have never requested payment of costs from clients until their case is resolved. Additionally, some firms request repayment of costs, regardless of the outcome of the matter. At Cohn & Swartzon, provided the client has listened to our advice, they are not responsible for payment of any fees or costs, unless we receive a recovery in your personal injury case.

What are costs?
In each case, attorneys need to gather documents, file documents or retain experts. These things cost money. Payment for these things are all accounted for costs (expenses) of the case. For instance, someone must pay for the medical records, trial exhibits and meetings with doctors. In most cases, the client pays for the costs as they are incurred by the attorney at the conclusion of the case.

So, how does the contingent fee system impact the client?
First, it means that most lawyers are going to assess the risks of accepting a case carefully. Contrary to what you may hear in the media, the fact that a lawyer is going to be paid a percentage of any recovery actually discourages frivolous litigation. No lawyer in his right mind is going to take on a frivolous case and then work hundreds of hours on it for ZERO payment.

Continue reading "Contingency Fees: Why You Can't Afford To Represent Yourself" »

Motorcycle Helmets: Fate over Fashion

June 24, 2011,

With warmer weather arriving, more and more motorcycle riders will take to the roads in the coming months. But with those additional riders, also come major concerns about their safety. Each time I represent someone who was injured in a motorcycle accident, I am shocked at the amount of inattentiveness and lack of awareness of motorcyclists on our road ways. Generally, the injuries suffered are much worse than when vehicles collide, especially at low speeds. Orange County's weather makes motorcycle riding ideal. However, before you hop on your motorcycle, please be aware of some of the statistics. 1016169_speed_of_motorcycle.jpg

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 5,290 motorcyclists were killed in 2008, an increase of 2 percent over 2007, which marks the eleventh straight year fatalities have increased. In addition, nearly 100,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2008. Part of the increase in fatalities can be attributed to the significantly higher number of motorcycles on the road (over 7.5 million now vs. 3.9 million in 1998), but some of the blame still has to go to the states. Only 20 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, require helmet use by all motorcyclists. Other states require just a subset of riders (such as riders under the age of 18) to wear helmets or have no requirement at all. Here in California, all riders are required to wear helmets and for good reason. Unfortunately, I often have to handle wrongful death cases of motorcyclists, even when someone is wearing a helmet.

According to estimates by the NHTSA, helmets saved the lives of 1,829 motorcyclists in 2008. Additionally, the NHTSA estimates that 823 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. There's simply no getting around it--motorcycle helmets save lives when motorcyclists wear them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets reduce the risk of a head injury by 69 percent, and in the case of a motorcycle crash, riders without helmets are 40 percent more likely to die from a head injury than those wearing helmets.

Continue reading "Motorcycle Helmets: Fate over Fashion" »

Drinking and Driving-The 8th Deadly Sin

June 23, 2011,

The effects of alcohol and driving while intoxicated are endless. The effects extend beyond the numbers of individuals arrested, injured or even killed as a result of drinking and driving. Drunk drivers don't discriminate. Everyday, there are countless accounts in the newspaper, on T.V. or on the radio about drunk driving and the aftermath. Unfortunately, it seems to be an all too common occurrence in today's society. As a personal injury attorney in Orange County, I often gets calls about the aftermath. I often have to hear the gruesome stories relating to the victims of drunk drivers. drunk-driving-stop-293x300.jpg

Just this week, Ryan Dunn, a young movie star and a passenger, were killed when he was traveling too fast, and hit a tree. He is suspected of being under the influence. Initial toxicology reports indicate that Ryan's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was twice the legal limit. Despite this, Ryan drove his Porsche with a passenger down a wooded street. Some Patrons at the bar said that Ryan Dunn did not appear to be intoxicated while others said that he was. Regardless, this is a tragedy for Ryan, his passenger and their family and friends. The real issue is when to say when.

Recent studies have shown that motor vehicle collisions caused by intoxication are among leading causes of death. Each year, 900,000 people are arrested for DUI/DWI and 1/3 of those are repeat offenders. The 2009 statistics are staggering:

  • 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
  • 181 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • 92 of the 181 child passengers ages 0 to 14 who died in alcohol-impaired driving accidents in were riding in the vehicle with the with the alcohol-impaired driver.
  • Over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
  • Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths.
  • On average, nearly 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver every day. This amounts to one death every 48 minutes-EVERYDAY.
  • The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion dollar.

Continue reading "Drinking and Driving-The 8th Deadly Sin" »

The Key to Choosing the Right Lawyer: Research

June 22, 2011,

If you've suffered an injury, finding the right attorney for your case can seem like a daunting, confusing task. Honestly, just trying to sort through the maze of lawyer advertising that's out there can be a little overwhelming. Between the Yellow Pages, bus signs and the internet, the choices seem endless. The key to choosing an attorney is developing and following a system. You should also trust your instincts. You need to find a lawyer that knows how to handle the specific type of case you have. For instance, I am a personal injury attorney and have a great deal of experience in this area. However, if someone came to me to prepare a will, regardless of legal knowledge of the subject, I would kindly decline to represent them and refer them to someone who is a specialist in that are of law.Scales.jpg

When looking for an attorney, start with research. The internet is a great resource to find out information about a lawyer. We recommend that you start out by researching and learning what you can about your legal problem. Nowadays, with the wealth of information available, it's relatively easy to track down good information and explanations about what you are facing. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, see if the lawyer you are considering has experience handling these types of cases.

You should also determine what type of help you may need from the attorney's office. Do you need medical care because you lack medical insurance and have suffered minor or major injuries? If so, make sure the lawyer you choose can help you obtain the medical help you need. Do you need the name of a good body shop to help get your vehicle repaired? Do you need to get an estimate for the repair or replacement of the bicycle you were riding? I once had a case where a client was riding a complete carbon fiber bicycle that looked undamaged to the naked eye. Before I would let my client get back on his bike, I have the bicycle X-rayed and determined that there were several small fractures in the frame which were not repairable. I then obtained a letter from the manufacturer of the bicycle stating that the bicycle needed to be replaced or they could not warrant its safety. This was done so the responsible parties insurance company would pay for the very expensive bicycle.

Next, find the names of potential lawyers in your local area. Call them or visit their websites, and then request written information from them. Once you have a solid list of possible attorneys in place, you should set up in-person interviews with them to get a better feel for how they handle cases and if they are a good fit for you. Will the attorneys be working on your case? Will paralegals? Case managers? Is this the first and last time you will see or hear from the attorney? These are all questions you can ask in person.

Finally, work on ranking the information you gathered in terms of importance to you. Over the years, many of our clients have told us some of the factors that they found were most important in helping them choose an attorney, such as:

  1. Consistent results in past cases (while previous results are not a guarantee of future success, they can serve as a good comparison tool.)
  2. Experience.
  3. Rated as a Super Lawyer.
  4. Martindale Hubbell "AV" rating.
  5. Members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
  6. A "Superb" rating by AVVO which list client testimonials
  7. Active participation in trial lawyer associations.

Once you've done your research and made your comparisons, you should be in a good position to select the right attorney for your case. Cohn & Swartzon has been handling personal injury lawsuits for many years and have helped individuals and families in and around Orange County, California and surrounding areas. Give us a call and come by to speak with Jason or Saar directly.

Related Web Resources:

Super Lawyers Directory
Martindale Hubbell Directory
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
AVVO Lawyer Ratings

Traumatic Brain Injury-The Silent Epidemic

June 21, 2011,

While most of us drive around Orange County, the last thing we are thinking about is getting in a car accident or even getting injured in a car accident. However, as drivers, we should be educated in the various types of injuries that can occur as a result of a car accident. Some of the most serious injuries may not even be visible. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), unfortunately can happen as a result of a car accident. Next to falls, car accidents are the leading cause of TBI. National TBI estimates 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually. Of theses people:

  • 52,000 die,
  • 275,000 are hospitalized, and
  • 1.365 million, nearly 80%, are treated and released from an emergency facility.
brain.jpgCar accidents, for all age groups, are the second leading cause of TBI (17.3%) and resulted in the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths (31.8%).

What is a TBI? A TBI is caused by a blow, bump or any force that penetrates or fractures the skull; or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The most common types of TBI resulting from motor vehicle accidents are closed brain injuries in which the skull is not broken or penetrated. Unfortunately, a closed brain injury can be difficult to diagnose at first as symptoms may not be readily apparent. In some cases, it can take several weeks before any symptoms (including headaches, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, confusion, slurred speech, etc.) appear.

Trauma to the brain can occur during an automobile accident when the skull strikes, for example, an object like a steering wheel or windshield. There may or may not be an open wound to the skull due to the accident, however in automobile accidents, the skull may not necessarily need to have been penetrated or fractured for a traumatic brain injury to occur. In the case of an automobile accident the sheer force of the accident can cause the brain to collide against the internal hard bone of the skull. The reason why this can occur is that when a moving head comes to a quick stop, the brain continues in its movement, striking the interior of the skull. This can cause bruising of the brain (referred to as a contusion) and bleeding (brain hemorrhage) which may not be visible at the time of injury.

Continue reading "Traumatic Brain Injury-The Silent Epidemic " »

After a Car Accident, Repalce Your Seat Belts or You May Be Putting Your Life In Jeopardy

June 20, 2011,

After a car accident, make sure to replace your seat belts. As a personal injury attorney in Orange County, I speak with many clients who are involved in car accidents. Many times, people think about repairing the outside of their cars and fail to think about the inside, such as replacing seat belts and child car seats. Failure to replace these items can lead to serious injury to the driver or occupants of the vehicle.602535_seatbelt.jpg

Thank fully, seat belt use is at an all time high. According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration ("NHTSA"), seat belt use has steadily increased since their introduction into automobiles but saw its most drastic increase with laws and regulations mandating their use. In today's world, many items such as laptops, cell phones and other items are designed to be used for a relatively short period of time and then recycled. So are seat belts, and they are actually designed to be replaced after a car accident. According to the NHTSA, seat belts are a "one-time" use item. They should be replaced after an accident.

When an individual is in a car accident, and especially a front end collision or frontal off-set accident, the body is jolted forward. When the body is jolted forward, a mechanism known as a pre-tensioner is activated which pulls the seat belt tight. There are two main types of pre-tensioners, mechanical and electronic. A mechanical pre-tensioner works by inertia, where a cable is pulled and a ratchet locks the belt in place. A electronic pre-tensioner uses a electronic charge that operates a piston which then locks the belt. In either case, when the seat belt is pulled tight and force is pressed against it, the stitching gradually tears to allow very little forward movement but does so at a controlled rate. During this event, the stitching tears which then significantly compromises the integrity and safety of the seat belt from that point forward. Moreover, in major accidents, often involving catastrophic injury or major damage to the vehicle, the seat belt permanently locks in place and cannot even be reused.

Continue reading "After a Car Accident, Repalce Your Seat Belts or You May Be Putting Your Life In Jeopardy" »

Skimping on Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage Could Be the Biggest Mistake of Your Life

June 17, 2011,

The scenario is all too familiar -- A person is injured in an auto accident only to find out that the other driver had little, or worse yet, no insurance. The reality is that many states do not require drivers to carry automobile insurance, and even in states in which insurance is required, many drivers are minimally insured. The State of California does require each driver to be insured. Unfortunately, insurance regulators and safety activists describe with alarm a developing climate in which many drivers are scaling back or even dropping their auto insurance coverage completely in order to save money during the economic downturn. UIM Accident.JPG

In California, auto insurance is required if a person intends to operate a motor vehicle upon the roads and highways. This requirement essentially ensures that most California drivers maintain at least a minimum policy in the event of a collision. That minimum coverage is $15.000 per person/$30,000 per accident. However, despite the generally recession-proof nature of the insurance industry, some insurance agencies are reporting that up to 20% of their clients either dropped their automobile policies or missed payments in recent months. Others warn that we may be looking at record numbers of uninsured motorists across the nation.

Industry figures seem to back up that concern. An auto insurance industry study now warns that an increasing number of drivers may not be insured by the end of 2009. By 2010, 1 of every 6 drivers on U.S. roadways is likely to be uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council.

You can protect yourself, though, by reviewing your own automobile insurance policy. Your "declarations page" lists the various coverages you have and the premiums you are paying for each. If your not sure what an automobile insurance declaration page looks like, here is an example. Sample Auto Declarations Sample

The most important item on that page (along with the limits of your liability coverage) is the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is critical because it protects you in the event that a person who causes you injury has little or no liability coverage himself. You should have coverage in the same amount as your liability coverage. In other words, if your liability coverage is in the amount of $300,000, then your uninsured motorist coverage should be in the amount of $300,000. You can elect to have less uninsured motorist coverage than liability coverage, but this is not recommended. Check with your insurance agent; you may be surprised at how little the additional cost is for this important coverage.

If you have uninsured or underinsured coverage in the amount of $300,000, and someone with $25,000 of coverage seriously injured you, their policy would pay the first $25,000 and your policy would step in to pay the next $275,000 to provide you with coverage to $300,000. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is a way for you to protect your family and yourself against irresponsible drivers and to help with the injuries you suffer from an accident.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which represents insurance regulators in all 50 states, said most Americans were woefully uninformed about what was covered by their auto policies. A quarter of Americans rarely or never review their policies, the association reported in a survey, while three-fifths review their coverage only when they file a claim or renew their policies. As a result, tens of millions of Americans are driving around with policies that don't reflect major changes in their incomes and family situations.

Cohn & Swartzon has been handling personal injury lawsuits for many years and have helped individuals and families with uninsured/underinsured cases in and around Orange County, California and surrounding areas, including Santa Ana, Irvine, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, Anaheim, Fullerton, Brea and the surrounding communities.

Related Insurance Industry Posts:

Friend or Foe: Insurance Adjusters Have a Bad Rap for a Reason

Related Web Sources:

Uninsured Motorist Statistics


Alarming Rise in Uninsured Motorists

Truck Accidents: Not All Accidents Are Created Equal

June 16, 2011,

How often have you been traveling in your car or small truck and observed a tractor trailer closing in on you with frightening speed? Or, found yourself between two large trucks on the interstate, white knuckles on your steering wheel, hoping that the truck just outside your window knows you're there?18 wheeler.jpg

The fear is justified. U.S. Federal Highway Administration statistics show that in 2008, nearly 75 percent of the 4,229 fatalities resulting from truck crashes were drivers or passengers in cars that were involved in a collision with a truck. With the average weight of a Honda Accord around 3,300 pounds and a loaded freight carrier or big rig that can weigh in at 70,000 pounds or more, the results of a big truck crash can be catastrophic.

Most people don't know that trucking companies often have separate insurance policies representing the tractor, the trailer, and the driver. Since most trucks are owned by large corporations, you are not only fighting them, but potentially several insurance companies as well. These companies are not looking out for you; they're focused on their own best interests. An experienced truck accident attorney will:

  • Talk to specialists who know about truck accidents and who might be able to give you information to support your case.
  • Understand your case and be able to fight the insurance companies for a fair settlement for the damages you incurred.
  • Know the law as it applies to your case. This includes federal and local laws and regulations that apply to insurance and trucking industries.
  • Ensure that the evidence in your case is secured and available to you to support your claim.
In short, an experienced truck accident attorney will fight for you, help you recover fair and full damages, and get your life back on track.

Continue reading "Truck Accidents: Not All Accidents Are Created Equal" »

The Dog Next Door May Not Be As Friendly As It Seems

June 15, 2011,

Dogs are mans best friend. Summer days are perfect for dogs to run and play in the parks and beaches. However, that cute and fluffy dog could take a bite out of you or your child. And it is not always the neighborhood dog, or dog in the park that will bite-it could be your own household pet. Dog bites are a serious problem in the United States, for people of all ages.rottweiler.jpg

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children have the highest bite related injuries and highest between the ages of 5 and 9. Small children are at the perfect height to have their face bit by a dog and younger children approach the dog too quickly to try to pet a dog without even thinking. By the time a warning cry is heard, it may be too late and the dog has already bit a face or hand. Facial injuries from dog bites are extremely painful and very traumatic. The face bleeds more because blood vessels in the head are closer to the skin then anywhere else in the body. Imagine a small child seeing so much blood after a dog bite-it adds more drama to the to the whole trauma. Some dog bites can even be deadly.

How big is the dog bite problem?
  • Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year.
  • One in five of those bit, which equates to a 885,000, require some kind of medical treatment for injuries sustained from the dog bite.
  • In 2006, more than 31,000 people had to undergo some type of reconstructive surgery as a result of a dog bite.
My youngest daughter has the nickname, "Dog Whisperer" because even the most rambunctious dogs calm down around her. We taught her at a very young age that dogs are animals and no matter how nice or tame they may seem, they are still an animal and one that can bite. We encouraged her to ALWAYS put her hand out first, palms down, and then let a dog sniff her hand before petting the dog. When it comes to dogs she does not know, she ALWAYS asks the owner first before approaching a dog. The owner appreciates this and will let her know how the dog behaves around children.

Continue reading "The Dog Next Door May Not Be As Friendly As It Seems" »

Personal Injury Primer: What Types of Compensation Can I Receive for My Injuries?

June 14, 2011,

When we sit down to discuss a client's personal injury case with them, many times they are dealing with not only financial losses as a result of their injuries, but also from the devastating emotional impact a serious accident can have. Each day I hear awful stories of how a person life is drastically changed due to someone else's negligence. The pain my clients feel is not just physical, but is emotional and even monetary due to loss of work as a result of a personal injury accident. As a result, I am often asked what type of compensation can I get as a result of my injuries.black-woman-stressed-out.jpg

A successful personal injury claim can enable a victim to recover both monetary and non-monetary damages.

Some common examples of monetary damages (which are also known as special damages) can include:

  • Lost wages, including wages lost while recovering from an injury including

  • Loss of future earning capacity.

  • Medical expenses, which can include both past and future medical care, and rehabilitation costs.

  • Costs associated with living with a disability, such as the cost to make a home wheelchair-accessible.

  • Costs of property damage associated with the accident

  • Funeral expenses (related to wrongful death cases)
  • Continue reading "Personal Injury Primer: What Types of Compensation Can I Receive for My Injuries?" »

    Elder Abuse: Recognizing the Warning Signs

    June 13, 2011,

    It's a scenario that plays out far too often in this country - you conducted your research, held your family meetings and ultimately decided to entrust the care of an elderly loved one to a home-based caregiver, a nursing home or assisted living facility, only to find that something just doesn't seem right. As a personal injury attorney in Orange County, I handle elder abuse cases for many very desperate people. I get a lot of calls that sound like this: "My loved one was happy and outgoing but lately, they have been really depressed, which is unusual for them. They've lost a lot of weight and I have noticed some strange marks on their arm."801960_reading_with_grandmother_in_wheelchair.jpg

    Is it possible that abuse is occurring? Elder abuse is a genuine problem in America, and unfortunately, it is a problem that continues to grow, especially with our aging population.
    While not every mood swing or small bruise is an indicator of abuse, it is critical to recognize some of the warning signs. You must be the advocate for your loved one as they often cannot do this themselves. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, some telltale signs include:

    • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns which may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
    • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness
    • and unusual depression which may be indicators of emotional abuse.
    • Bruises around the breasts or genital areas which can occur from sexual abuse.
    • Sudden changes in financial situations which may be the result of exploitation.
    • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss which are indicators of possible neglect.
    • Behavior such as belittling, threats and other uses of power and control by spouses which are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
    • Strained or tense relationships as well as frequent arguments between the caregiver and the elderly person.

    Continue reading "Elder Abuse: Recognizing the Warning Signs" »

    Friend or Foe? Insurance Adjusters Have a Bad Rap for a Reason

    June 10, 2011,

    If it hasn't happened to you already, you may know of someone who has gone through this nightmare scenario: They are involved in car accident, their car is totaled and it is the other parties fault. They begin to experience pain in their back, neck and tingling in the hands. They call their insurance company to set up a claim, and then it happens. A phone call comes in from the other driver's insurance company. The adversary adjuster sound nice and concerned, and by the end of the conversation, that friendly adjuster is trying to set up an appointment to meet personally. Most people think, "Wow, they are so nice and are so concerned about me and I am not even their insured." That's just it-they are NOT concerned about you or even care about how you feel. Thumbnail image for fingers-crossed.jpg

    They called because they have one thing in mind: maximize the insurance companies profits by paying out as little as possible. An experienced adjuster can smell a large claim from a mile away and it's their job is to save the insurance company as much money as possible-they get bonuses for doing just that. If the adjuster gets a whiff of your accident and claim, and they feel it has potential, they will try to make contact with you and settle right then and there before you know the true extent of your injuries.

    Recently, a client of our Firm, said this exact thing happened to them. Our client was not at fault for an accident with a drunk driver and has a serious wrist injury that may end up requiring surgery. She said that after contacting the other parties insurance company, the next day an adjuster called and wanted to meet with her. As our client had never been in an accident before, she thought this was standard practice. She then goes on to tell that the adjuster listened to her and heard all of her injuries and complaints, and then pulled out a checkbook and offered her a dollar amount on the spot. Our client found that weird as she had only been to the doctor once and was wondering how the adjuster could even know what the medical bills would cost, or even what the outcome could be. Needless to say, our client got the adjuster out of her house gracefully and immediately called our Firm. These tactics are used by insurance adjusters everyday because they know when a claim can end up costing the insurance company more money when they have to pay the true value of a claim and all the medical bills associated with an accident.

    Continue reading "Friend or Foe? Insurance Adjusters Have a Bad Rap for a Reason" »

    Crosswalks-Are You Really Safe?

    June 9, 2011,

    Orange County's cities are filled with cars and pedestrians. I was recently stopped at a red light, and I was the first car before the crosswalk line. I was stopped on a two lane road, with a sidewalk to my right. There was a family and their dog standing at the light to my right, waiting for the signal to turn to WALK so pedestrians could cross in the crosswalk. As the light changed to WALK, the family started to step off of the curb. At that moment, a truck coming my direction tried to squeeze by me on the right side to make a right turn. He entered a portion of the crosswalk, and almost hits the father and family dog. The next minute or so gets ugly as the pedestrian exchanges words with the driver who is clearly shaken once he realized that he could have hurt or killed these people.281260_crosswalk.jpg

    This scenario is far too common and often has dire outcomes. Pedestrian accidents are far too common. This same situation almost cost my youngest daughter while we were on our way to dinner. My family and I were waiting to cross in a crosswalk, the light turned to WALK for us and as we stepped off of the curb. A female driver and her son plowed through a tight right side and into the crosswalk crossing over the bike lane. My little one was skipping across the street and the car came within a foot of hitting her. I don't need to share my reaction, but the look on her face said it all-she ALMOST hit a pedestrian, let alone a small child. For the rest of the night and even the next day, my stomach hurt and I couldn't stop thinking about the "What-If's". Everyday I work with families who are not as lucky as we are, as they have had to deal with major injuries, permanent injuries or even death as a result of a car hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

    My firm is currently representing a 17 year old boy, who, on New Years Day 2011, was walking with his mother in a cross walk, when he saw a car drive through the crosswalk towards his mother. He called out her name, but by the time she turned around to see what he wanted, he had pushed her out of the way of the car saving her life. Unfortunately, he, and was stuck by the car and dragged a short distance under her car. When the driver finally stopped, his head was pinned under her tire. Our client was taken to CHOC Hospital, where he still is today. This boy has had several surgeries on his head and brain, the first being necessary to save his life. He has massive brain injuries, as well as other injuries as a result of this collision.

    A National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration 2008 study show the rampant rise of pedestrian safety issues in the US:

    • 4,378 pedestrians, and 716 pedal cyclists were killed in traffic crashes
    • 69,000 pedestrians and 52,000 pedal cyclists were injured in traffic crashes
    • On average, a pedestrian is killed almost every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes
    • 12 percent of all pedal cyclists killed were between 5 and 15 years old.

    Continue reading "Crosswalks-Are You Really Safe?" »

    Bounce House Dangers Are Not Amusing

    June 8, 2011,

    Many of us in Orange County rent bounce houses for birthday parties. Kids love them. They are used at parks and fairs all the time. Unfortunately, recent reports have surfaces about the very real dangers these bounce houses pose to all users and by-standards near by from flying away. These scary instances illustrate just how dangerous amusement rides can be and how many injuries are caused each year by amusement rides. These products are often found to defectively manufactured or improperly maintained. Bopunce House.jpg

    As a personal injury attorney, I was surprised to find out how dangerous benign looking rides and attractions can be, whether at amusement parks or in your backyard. Children suffer broken bones and even concussions on bounce houses every day. Recently, a two-story red, white and blue inflatable slide went soaring into the air at a youth soccer tournament in New York. Thirteen people were hospitalized with injuries, one person suffered serious injuries. The problem is that inflatable amusement rides suffer from a lack of industry-wide standards which can endanger lives when not properly installed or operated.

    No one would expect to see a bounce house or inflatable slide fly into the air but it happens all too often. "I wish this was a rarity, but it's not. It happens all the time," said Jim Barber, a spokesman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, based in Brandon, Fla. "These are probably the most dangerous amusement devices they have." A review of the NAARSO website reveals just how dangerous these products can be.


    Continue reading "Bounce House Dangers Are Not Amusing" »

    Whiplash: A Real Injury Requiring Real Medical Help

    June 7, 2011,

    As a personal injury attorney in Orange County, many individuals come in to my office with "soft-tissue" injuries of the neck or what many term whiplash. Most people have heard of the term "Whiplash" and almost immediately associate it with a neck injury as a result of an automobile accident. This makes sense as whiplash-type injuries often occur when a car or truck is rear ended. This sudden impact, or "jolt", causes victims necks to extend and flex back quickly in an unnatural whipping motion. This whipping motion can cause damage to muscles and other soft tissues in the cervical area.
    Whiplash.jpg

    But what most people don't know is that whiplash is often caused by much less extreme impacts. Some of these impacts can include:

    • Winter-related accidents, such as slipping on ice or falling while skiing or snowboarding.
    • Injuries in contact sports such as basketball, football or hockey. Soccer is another sport that can have the same kind of whiplash injury, by either contact or falling hard and fast.
    • Any assault that involves head trauma or a slip and fall where someone strikes their head.
    • Child abuse, including shaken baby syndrome.
    • Repetitive stress injuries resulting from a poorly designed non-ergonomic work area.
    • Accidents in stores or restaurants that result from unattended spills on the floor or other unsafe conditions which cause someone to slip and fall
    .

    Continue reading "Whiplash: A Real Injury Requiring Real Medical Help" »

    Planning a Summer Getaway? Don't Get Scammed

    June 6, 2011,

    As beautiful as Orange County is, we all still want to vacation elsewhere during the year. With 2.24 million people expected to travel via the friendly skies everyday this summer, it is more important now than ever before to protect yourself and loved ones from getting scammed. We all love a good deal. With a troubled economy, we all try to get the best deal on vacations. The best way to keep yourself protected is to be aware of some of the common tactics and"special offers" that crooks use to take advantage of unassuming and well intentioned travelers. 1003965_passenger__aeroplane__1.jpg

    A recent news report provided tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of a scam.

    * You make plans to travel to Europe and track down a travel website that offers an unbelievable rate on a hotel room. For payment though, the site wants a bank or wire transfer and won't let you pay with a credit card-definite signs of a scam.

    * An e-mail arrives that is supposedly from a friend who is traveling in Europe and had his wallet stolen and can't pay his hotel bill. What do you think happens next? You are asked to wire money-Don't do it!

    Continue reading "Planning a Summer Getaway? Don't Get Scammed" »

    Crossing the "Gore Point" is Not Only Dangerous, It is Illegal!!

    June 2, 2011,

    How many times have we been there, unable to exit the freeway or get on a transition, only at the last second to veer across a bordered, triangular concrete area to the right to get on the transition or take the exit? This area is called a "gore point." According to Wikipedia, "a gore, gore point, or gore zone is a triangular piece of land found where roads merge or split" and is often bordered by solid white lines.

    Gorepointatendofhighway.jpg

    Unfortunately, many car accidents occur in Orange County and throughout the United States because of motorists who cross the gore point and then pull in front other drivers already on the exit. I had the precise, tragic case where a motorist on the southbound 5 Freeway at the 605 North crossed the gore point in front of my client, causing my client to lose control of his vehicle and careen into a tree. My client was killed instantly and left a young son without a father. In fact, the other motorist kept going and may have never seen what he caused but a good Samaritan was able to obtain the license plate.

    In California, crossing the gore point can also lead to a traffic citation. Several Vehicle Code sections, such as 21755 (passing on the right), 21658 (unsafe lane change) 21461 (failure to obey traffic signs) or 22107 (unsafe turning movement), may be applicable.

    Avoiding a gore point is simple: leave earlier so you can be in less of a hurry, and move over sooner. The consequences otherwise can be drastic.

    If you, a family member or friend has been injured by another motorist crossing the gore point, contact Cohn & Swartzon today.

    In a World with Teen Drivers

    June 1, 2011,

    As I was on my way into the office, thinking about the school year winding down, a horrific thought came to mind! My oldest daughter will be able to get her learner's permit in less than two years. This was nauseating to me as she just turned 13, and she is still my baby. With that thought in mind, I looked around the streets of Orange County, and could recognize almost immediately the "new" drivers out there. They looked a tad bigger but no older than my daughter! In a few short years, that too will be my daughter-driving on the streets. I was laughing and crying at the same time. Laughing because it seems ridiculous to me having her out on the road and crying because it is reality. With all that being said, teen drivers are here to stay. One look at the statistics solidify that teen accidents are no laughing matter. As parents, we need to provide guidance to our kids to make sure they are safe. teen-driver-safety.jpg

    Getting a drivers license is in some ways like getting your high school diploma-it symbolizes freedom. This freedom comes with responsibility. Teen deaths are on the rise, with most occurring from motor vehicle crashes. I am not saying that the fault falls on your own teen driver, but rather on the lack of experience and know how when faced with certain conditions while driving a car. Every day I see car accident victims in the office dealing with life threatening injuries based upon someone else's negligence. I tell my daughter now, that even though her driving time is approaching, a car is like a huge weapon that can injure, or even kill her or anyone in the car. And that once she drives, it is something to be taken very serious. There are laws now that prevent a carload of teens to be together at any given time, but that doesn't mean that the teens can't all be in their own cars following each other, horsing around, racing down two lane streets.

    Continue reading "In a World with Teen Drivers" »