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  • I have been in a crash, now what?

    If you have been in a collision there is certain information you need to exchange with the other parties. In California, by law, under Vehicle Code section 16025, you must exchange:

    1. Driver’s name

    2. Driver’s current residence address

    3. Driver’s license number

    4. Vehicle identification number

    5. Owner’s name

    6. Owner’s current residence address

    7. Evidence of financial responsibility, such as company name, address, and policy number of valid automobile insurance

    If you do not exchange this information, you can be charged with violation of this code section and fined. Some people type up this information on an index card that they can hand to somebody, but I would be wary of just accepting something like that at face value. People move, owners change, and policies can lapse. An up-to-date proof of insurance card holds more weight.

    Also, you should write down the information yourself if possible. Take notes on your phone if you do not have pen or paper. You can even send yourself a quick e-mail with the information so you have it in two places. If you allow them to write it down for you, they may lie, transpose numbers, or purposely give you the wrong information. Ask to see their driver’s license and write down the information. Be sure to note if the license is valid because those expire too.

    This list is only what is required by law. If you are in a collision, we recommend you get as much information at possible. It becomes much easier later on if you know exactly who hit you. Once a case is filed, the Defendant needs to be personally served. In order to do that we need to know where they live. It can be expensive to hire a private investigator to hunt these people down, so it is a good idea to get the information when the collision happens.

    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin has designed a fillable form to make this sometimes awkward process easier. You can print it off and keep in your car. If you do happen to get in a collision, fill it out, and you will have a head start. If you are hurt, call us, and we'll help you.

    Exchange of Information Form

  • Case Spotlight: Dog Attack Jury Verdict of $205,000.00

    On March 14, 2015, Alan Laskin began a trial in Sacramento County concerning a woman who was attacked by two dogs. She was knocked down into a drainage ditch on the side of the road. The dogs were run off by a neighbor who rescued our client by pulling her over the fence onto his property.

    These dogs were known menaces in the neighborhood and their owner, the defendant, did nothing to protect the public from their violent behavior. The defendant tried to claim that it wasn’t his dogs that perpetrated the attack, but our client was sure they had come from the defendant’s yard. The home insurance company sided with their insured and fought the claim tooth and nail.

    Despite multiple anecdotes from neighbors detailing the violent history of the dogs in question, the defense refused to move from their stance of denial. Early on in the case we served an Offer to Compromise Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure   998 for $79,999.99. This is a very serious offer for settlement because to make it or reject it comes with consequences. The offer was rejected.

    Right before trial, we made another 998 offer. This time for $39,999.99. Our client did not want to deal with the stress of going to trial and we honored her request to try and settle the case. It was no use though, the defendant’s attorney rejected that offer as well.

    During trial, the defendant continued to claim that our client was lying. He then stated that every witness that testified against him was lying, including the neighbor that saved our client. We had to subpoena practically the whole neighborhood, but everyone was in agreement that the defendant’s dogs were violent and uncontrolled. The defendant’s attitude that he just didn’t care that his dogs had injured this woman came across to the jury and in the end, they sided with our client.

    Alan even had a very “Perry Mason” moment. While questioning the veterinarian hired by the defense to say it couldn’t have been the defendant’s dog that bit our client because of the dog’s poor health, it was revealed that the subject dog was missing a tooth. The vet testified that it would have a different bite pattern than a dog with all of its teeth. Alan then showed a picture of one of the puncture wounds on the client and asked her if it would look like this (the picture showed two punctures, a space, and then a third puncture). The vet agreed that a bite mark from the defendant’s dog would look like the picture. We believe that was the nail in the coffin moment for the jury. There was no doubt that it was the defendant’s dogs that attacked.

    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin always endeavors to do right by our clients. In this case, our client did not want to go to trial and would have accepted a much lower amount to avoid the stress. We made the offer on her behalf and she was incredibly fortunate that the defense did not take it. At trial the truth prevailed and the jury awarded $165,000.00 over what our client would have accepted.

  • Case Spotlight: $250,000.00 Policy Limits Settlement

    Our client injured her back in a car collision in November 2013. She underwent conservative treatment, but it did not help her symptoms. She underwent surgery on May 13, 2014. The surgery reduced some of her symptoms, but her back continued to be extremely painful. After an x-ray and another MRI the cause was finally revealed, there was an infection in her spine.

    Throughout our client’s treatment, the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California had requested that the adverse party disclose their policy limits multiple times. We sent medical records showing the conservative treatment, the injections my client underwent, and even the necessary surgery. Nothing moved the adverse party and the insurance company was not allowed to disclose the limit.

    However, once the infection in her spine was revealed, the policy was no longer our biggest concern. Her doctor immediately installed a pick line in her arm in order to effectively administer the antibiotics and referred our client to a specialist who would monitor her treatment for the life-threatening infection. Treatment included six appointments with the specialist, the administration of antibiotics by our client’s daughter, weekly blood draws to determine her progress, and home nurse visits once a week to clean and maintain the pick line. The antibiotics themselves were very expensive and had to be paid for in advance.

    Our client could not afford this treatment and called the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in tears, convinced she was going to die. Our office set her up with a medical funding company and we were able to get her the treatment she needed and I am glad to say that she is doing much better.

    Infection is a risk everyone undergoing surgery takes. It can happen to anyone in any hospital and it just happened to happen to our client this time. Together we were able to address the problem head on and save her life. The infection was the tipping point for the insurance company. Because of treatment she had already undergone and the additional treatment necessary to treat the infection, we were able to get a policy limits offer from the adverse insurance company in the amount of $250,000.00.

    Some people may wonder why the adverse driver was responsible for the infection and the answer is because she got the infection through the treatment of injuries that the adverse driver caused. There is a chain of events that occurred due the actions of the adverse driver. The car collision led to injuries which led our client to treat for those injuries which led her get an infection in her spine. There is no break in the chain of causation.

    If my client had gotten the infection because of surgery on her elbow, which was not injured in the collision, then the adverse driver would not have been responsible for the treatment of the infection.

    Need advice? Feel you have a potential personal injury case? Contact the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California today. 

  • Who is at fault? T-Bone

    An interesting case came up this week at the personal injury law offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California. We have a client who was approaching an intersection riding a bicycle on a roadway with the intention of going straight through the uncontrolled intersection. A car coming the opposite direction approached the intersection and turned left in front of her. The vehicle moved directly into our client’s path of travel and caused a T-Bone collision, however, our client was the one who struck the vehicle with her bicycle. So who is at fault?

    The insurance company is making the argument that the car had control of the intersection and the bicyclist should have yielded the right-of-way. The rule of thumb when approaching an uncontrolled intersection is that whoever is there first has control of it. But Vehicle Code Section 21801 says a driver intending to turn to the left or complete a U-turn shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement.

    We know our client at the personal injury law offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California was close enough to constitute a hazard because if she had not been, a collision would not have occurred. The code section goes on to say that once the yielding vehicle has signaled and it is safe to go, they can make their turn and oncoming vehicles must yield the right-of-way to the turning vehicle.

    Remember that a bicycle is treated like a car on the road, they have the same rights and responsibilities and must obey traffic laws just like everybody else. So, our bicyclist was proceeding straight and the other vehicle was turning. Our client states that the vehicle never signaled and she had no idea the woman was going to turn left in front of her until the collision occurred. The woman even admitted to the bicyclist after the crash that she did not see our client and so she thought the intersection was clear.

    Downtown Sacramento has a lot of intersections that are either uncontrolled, pedestrian walkway controlled only, or left turn yields on green. All of these types of intersections have the possibility of causing T-Bone collisions. I once worked with a woman who believed that whoever moves first at "left turn yield on green" intersections has control of the intersection. This is NOT TRUE. The people going straight on the green light get to go first, you may turn left AFTER them if the intersection is clear (watch for pedestrians).

    T-Bone collisions are bad. Cars are designed to get hit on the front and back because we follow each other. In recent decades more attention has been made to protecting people from injury during sideways hits, but the cars still are not that great when it comes to getting hit that way. It makes your spine move in ways it is not supposed to and it can cause a lot of damage. It is in everybody’s best interest to be more cautious at these strange intersections.

    If you have questions about your T-Bone collision and you think you are getting blamed when it was not your fault, give us a call and we can help you figure it out. The bicyclist we represent is going into litigation because the adverse insurance company may have denied liability, but that does not mean we are giving up. We will see that driver in court.

    Need advice? Feel you have a potential personal injury case? Contact the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California today. 

  • Did You Know? California Has Self-Driving Cars on its Roads

    I just learned this fact recently. I had no idea that technology was getting to the point where we actually have prototypes driving around California. Google Inc. has been testing these cars on California roads for at least six years. In that time, there have only been 11 accidents. Google claims that none of the accidents were their fault, but that can’t be verified independently.

    The car can see more than a football field away and has lines and lines of code telling it how to react to every situation the designers could think of. To perform the tests, California requires there to be a human driver behind the wheel. But you can recognize them due to the rig on top that allows them to “see” the road all around them. California also requires testers to have an insurance policy with a $5 million liability limit.

    This could be the start of a whole new specialty of personal injury law in the legal industry. A collision with a self-driving car may become a products liability case if there is no human driver. Right now, cases against adverse drivers are fought under the common law idea of Negligence. If someone is going to drive a vehicle they have a duty to others using the roads to drive it in a safe manner. When they hit someone, they have breached that duty and caused them damage. And that is why we can sue.

    But what duty does an operator of a self-driving car have? They put their trust in a machine. If they get injured there may be defense argument of assumption of the risk for the people in the self-driving car. The use of these autonomous cars raises many questions. To what standard shall we hold these vehicles? Should they be expected to drive even safer than humans? Or should they be held to a lower standard, after all, they are only computers. And computers are not perfect.

    How many times has a computer died on you? Are you familiar with the blue screen of death? Do you install updates regularly? Do the updates regularly screw up your computer and you have to undo them?

    What about the concept of negligent entrustment? In personal injury cases, if the owner of a vehicle lends the car to someone and that person gets in a collision, we name both the driver and the owner as defendants because the owner trusted the wrong person to drive their vehicle. This is seen all the time when parents let their kids drive. Does this idea transfer to the driverless car as well? The owner negligently entrusted the movement of the vehicle to the manufacturer of the vehicle? For that matter, not only is the manufacturer of the vehicle responsible, but the creator of the software moving the car could be responsible as well if it is a different entity.

    How much responsibility should the owner of a self-driving car have in the maintenance of the driving system? An owner of a vehicle has a duty to maintain their vehicle in a non-dangerous condition, we just settled a case this year where a defendant’s trailer lost a wheel and smashed into our client’s vehicle. You are responsible for your vehicle. So where does the liability of the self-driving vehicle begin and where does it end?

    These cars sound very cool and futuristic, but they evoke a lot of legal questions that should have been answered before they hit the road. And they need to be answered now. The technology is still in the testing phase, but it’s possible these cars will be available to the public starting in 2020.

    Need advice? Feel you have a potential personal injury case? Contact the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California today.