Do I Have a Medical Negligence / Medical Malpractice Claim?

We rely on our healthcare providers to take care of us and keep us healthy. We and/or our insurance company pay for the services provided by doctors, physicians, osteopaths, podiatrists and other healthcare professionals. Medical professionals are paid for the services they provide and we must rely upon them to care for us. Unfortunately, patients are hurt or killed everyday across the United States because of the negligence of healthcare professionals. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider fails to meet (breaches) the “standard of care” and a patient suffers harm from the breach. If you believe your doctor may have done something wrong, contact our attorneys as soon as possible to start getting help and make sure you don’t miss any legal deadlines.

Statute of Limitations

As with other kinds of personal injury claims, medical malpractice cases have a deadline, or a statute of limitations. California law provides for claims involving adult patients and minors for claims against non governmental entities or employees the following (this statute does not cover birth injuries) generally applies:

California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5.
In an action for injury or death against a health care provider based upon such person’s alleged professional negligence, the time for the commencement of action shall be three years after the date of injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first. In no event shall the time for commencement of legal action exceed three years unless tolled for any of the following: (1) upon proof of fraud, (2) intentional concealment, or (3) the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of the injured person. Actions by a minor shall be commenced within three years from the date of the alleged wrongful act except that actions by a minor under the full age of six years shall be commenced within three years or prior to his eighth birthday whichever provides a longer period. Such time limitation shall be tolled for minors for any period during which parent or guardian and defendant’s insurer or health care provider have committed fraud or collusion in the failure to bring an action on behalf of the injured minor for professional negligence.


Sometimes the harm caused by negligent medical care may not become apparent for months or years after the medical professional makes an error. Under these circumstances the “delayed discovery rule” may apply to your claim. The California courts have interpreted the “after the date of injury” provision narrowly. It is important that you have your particular claim and situation reviewed by a competent personal injury or medical malpractice attorney.

If a patient / victim does not file a claim a timely claim / lawsuit he or she loses the legal right to pursue compensation for damages.

Discovering a healthcare provider was negligent can happen in different ways and at different times. For instance if you suffered a bad result from treatment, procedure or operation that may place you on notice to investigate your claim (hire a personal injury or medical malpractice attorney) to examine your matter. Or a doctor mistakenly operates on the wrong body part, in that situation a patient and/or her / his family may know almost immediately that an error was made. Other errors may take longer to discover, such as failure to diagnosis and treat a medical condition, e.g., cancer.

We have had cases in which a healthcare provider has negligently left a sponge or instrument inside a patient’s body, but the victim might begin feeling discomfort for days, weeks, months, or even years after the surgery. Initially the patient very likely will self treatment assuming the condition will improve over time. The patient may try over-the-counter analgesics or other forms of treatment but the problems persist or worsen. Finally, the patient undergoes diagnostic imaging tests and learns that a foreign body is inside their body. Under California law the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect means you can pursue your claim even if the surgery were years earlier. Clearly scalpels, retractors and sponges fall into the “foreign body” exception. However, the California courts have interpreted this statute and you need professional advice concerning your particular situation.

No matter how long it takes to recognize a medical error, an injured patient should at least contact a personal injury attorney / medical malpractice attorney to ask about your rights.

What Will an Attorney Do?

During an initial free consultation, our legal professionals will listen to the details of your case and advise you whether or not you have a malpractice case. If you choose us to recover maximum compensation for you, we’ll start by obtaining your medical records. If you need a new doctor to help you repair the damage, let us know. We can do the legwork to find you a trustworthy medical professional in your area.

If you or a loved one suffers a personal injury arising from medical care, please feel free to contact me. Richard M. Katz at The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz, Pasadena, California. 626-796-63333. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and will differ from state to state because of different laws. For specific technical or legal advice on your situation you should, without delay contact an attorney of your choice.

Hospital Infections Leading Cause of Death

Los Angeles Times Outbreaks

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times “OUTBREAKS SHROUDED IN SECRECY” addresses the spread of infections at hospitals and how investigations are confidential keeping other patients in the dark. Almost every week I get a call from a potential client about how they or loved got an infection following a surgery, procedure or hospital stay. I am asked “Do I have a claim for medical malpractice” or “Do I have a claim for medical negligence.”

The CDC healthcare-associated infection (HAI) prevalence study shows that an estimate of the overall problem of HAIs in hospitals in the United States. Hospitals in the study included private hospitals, hospitals such as those operated by organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, government run hospitals. Based on sampling a large number of acute care hospitals in the United States, the survey found that about 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection every day. The CDC estimates that there were 722,000 HAIs in hospitals in 2011. About 75,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations. More than half of all HAIs occurred outside of the intensive care unit. We are talking hospitals here in the United States. 75,000 deaths a year is equal to over 205 deaths from hospital-acquired infections every day of the year.

According to the CDC the infections acquired by patients in hospitals are
Infection Estimated Nos. Per Year
Pneumonia 157,500
Gastrointestinal Illness 123,100
Urinary Tract Infections 93,300
Primary Bloodstream Infections 71,900
Surgical site infections 157,500
Other types of infections 118,500

Other infectious diseases can also easily spread in medical settings, where those who are actively ill mingle with others who have compromised immune systems.

The organization known as the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), estimates that, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, (MRSA) kills more Americans each year than the combined total of emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide. MRSA is generally a hospital acquired infection.

The CDC estimates that about 331/3 % of nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections are considered preventable. The most common nosocomial infections are pneumonia, gastrointestinal, urinary tract and surgical sites.

If you get an infection following a surgery, procedure or hospital stay does than mean you have case? The answer is maybe.

Medical findings show that almost all surgery, procedure and hospital infections are preventable if healthcare providers are correctly trained in and follow sterile procedures. However, the fact is that
“Despite the overwhelmingly large number of people who die of hospital-acquired infections each year, there are virtually no instances of successful litigation against doctors or hospitals.” Pamela Nolan, Unclean Hands: Holding Hospitals Responsible for Hospital-Acquired Infections, 34 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 133, 136 (2000).

In my experience in nosocomial (hospital/healthcare acquired infection) cases, the most success is achieved in situations that there were was a failure to properly diagnose and treat the infection, rather than causing the infection in the first place.

There of course issues related to whether prophylactic (pre-surgery) antibiotics should have been given. Whether post surgery antibiotics should have been given. Whether the patient was properly prepared for the procedure (injection, surgery, etc. . . . ). Whether the patient had a particular susceptibility for infection. Whether there was breach of sterile protocol.

In any claim involving infectious disease issues there are many issues the needs to looked into.

Retaining An Attorney

Nevertheless, despite the challenges infectious diseases case present, your or your loved ones claim should be looked into. You should contact a qualified medical malpractice lawyer immediately to learn your legal rights. However, understand the challenges that an infectious disease claim presents. Most medical malpractice attorneys offer at least an initial free consultation. Avail yourself of this valuable service. If you wish, please give me, Richard M. Katz, a call. Our office is ready to help you. Please call 626-796-6333.


I, Richard M. Katz, have been in practice for about thirty-five years and for most of those thirty-five years I have handled medical malpractice claims along with other personal injury claims. Medical malpractice claims present some unique challenges because of complex medical issues. As well, judges and juries tend to favor doctors, nurses and hospitals over injured patients in medical malpractice lawsuits. Under the best of circumstances medical malpractice cases are difficult to win.

An injured patient must prove his or her claim in a medical malpractice action. That is not easy. The news medial will often cover stories about folks whom juries have awarded millions of dollars in a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, the new media rarely covers stories about all of the injured patients who lost their medical malpractice cases. The sad fact is that more than 80% perhaps as high as 90% of the medical malpractice cases going to trial in California results in the doctors, nurses or hospitals winning. Most of the medical malpractice lawsuits that go to trial results in defense verdicts, i.e., the doctors, nurses and hospitals prevailed / won the trial.

There are many roadblocks to successfully bringing a medical malpractice case. The roadblocks that must be overcome include, proving the healthcare provider’s (doctor, nurse, hospital, etc.) negligence (i.e., showing that the healthcare provider failed to act as a reasonably careful doctor, nurse, hospital, etc. in the same or similar circumstances, convincing the defendant or ultimately a judge or jury that the defendant was negligent, retaining a qualified attorney to represent you

Proving the Healthcare Provider’s (Doctor, Nurse, Hospital, Etc.) Negligence

In order to “prove” negligence in a medical malpractice case an injured patient must show that there was an existence of a duty owed by the health care professional to the patient (for example, a doctor/patient relationship-this is usually not difficult ); The applicable standard of care, and the health care professional’s deviation from that standard, which is a breach of the duty owed the patient (this can be challenging and usually requires expert opinion); A causal connection between the health care professional’s deviation from the standard of care and the patient’s injury (this at times can be quite challenging, depending upon the circumstances).

A patient and their lawyer are often presented with nothing more to base the patient’s claim on then the healthcare provider’s own notes, which often is not only cryptic but self-serving. There is an old saying “if it is not in the chart it did not happen.” This can be both good and bad but either way one is often stuck with whatever the records show. Very few healthcare providers are going to accept responsibility, at least initially, for a mistake they have made. While information on the internet and medical textbooks may list multiple ways for treating a specific injury, illness, or disease an expert is usually necessary to establish negligence, breach and causation.

To prevail a patient and their lawyer must show that the healthcare provider’s (doctor, nurse, hospital, etc. ) conduct fell below an accepted standard of medical care. We generally need expert testimony to establish the standard of care. As well, expert testimony is required to show how the healthcare provided failed to meet the standard of care.

As side from negligent treatment or care, the healthcare provider can be held responsible for the negligent prescription of a medication or medical device if the healthcare provider ignored prescription recommendations such as prescribing an incorrect medication or dosage or a contraindication that resulted in injury to the patient. The healthcare provider has the duty of informing the patient of the risks and side effects of a medication or medical device they prescribe. As well, asking the patient questions to obtain all relevant information before prescribing medication or medical devices.
In many situations a healthcare provider fails to obtain a patient’s “informed consent” before administering a procedure or treatment is a form of medical negligence, and may even give rise to a cause of action. In California the informed consent law is challenging because it applies a “reasonable person” standard. The law essentially requires the following:

“A patient’s consent to a medical procedure must be “informed”. A patient gives an “informed consent” only after the healthcare provider has fully explained the proposed treatment or procedure.

The healthcare provider must explain the likelihood of success and the risks of agreeing to a medical procedure in language that the patient can understand. The healthcare provider must give the patient as much information as [he/she] needs to make an informed decision, including any risk that a reasonable person would consider important in deciding to have the proposed treatment or procedure, and any other information skilled practitioners would disclose to the patient under the same or similar circumstances. The patient must be told about any risk of death or serious injury or significant potential complications that may occur if the procedure is performed. A healthcare provider is not required to explain minor risks that are not likely to occur.”

The problem is if a healthcare provider fails to explain a risk but most folks would go forward with the treatment even if they knew the risk then a patient cannot win on that theory. By way of example a doctor fails to tell a patient that a colonoscopy can cause a puncture to the colon and a puncture occurs and had you known about the risk you would have declined the procedure, you are unlikely to win because most reasonable patients would have the procedure notwithstanding the risk.

The above is only some of the challenges an injured patient and his lawyer face.

A Patient Needs to Convince the Judge or Jury That the Healthcare Provider Was Negligent

Juries in California are tough on medical malpractice claims. Some jurisdictions are worse then others. The fact is that Healthcare providers win more than 80% of the time of the medical malpractice cases that go to trial. Many legal experts and trial lawyers differ on why this is so, but often times when something becomes too confusing the judge or jury defaults to the healthcare provider. The healthcare provider often times will explain “they did the best they could” and / or “there is more than one right way to provide care” and/or “that not all patients have a good outcome” or “there was something unusual about the patient.” I have heard it all and then some. Can you imagine some slams their car into the back your car and claims “they did the best they could.” Or someone runs a red light hits your car and then claims “if you had a different color car, they would have seen it”.

Nevertheless, judges and juries often give the healthcare provider the benefit of the doubt.

Retaining An Attorney

Nevertheless, healthcare providers are, at times, negligent. In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year. A study in a recent issue of the Journal of Patient Safety stated that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death, the study says.

If the study is correct and there is no reason to believe it is not, that would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second.

Therefore if you believe that you were the victim of medical malpractice, you should contact a qualified medical malpractice lawyer immediately to learn your legal rights. But understand the challenges that your potential claim faces. Most medical malpractice attorneys offer at least an initial free consultation. Avail yourself of this valuable service. If you or someone you love has been injured because of medical malpractice / medical negligence please give me, Richard M. Katz, a call. Our office is ready to help you. Please call 626-796-6333.


Countless numbers of consumers are injured each year by defective and dangerous products on the market. If you have suffered an injury from a defective product you may have a personal injury claim.

There are perhaps three areas of defective products they can be design defects, manufacturer defects, and defects in instructions or warnings. Below are examples. Example 1 are actual cases my office has handled and won. Example 2 is illustrative.

Defects in Design – Example 1: A trailer manufacturer specifies a wheel that cannot withstand exposure to salt water and disintegrates the wheel fails causing severe personal injuries. Example2: A bicycle manufacturer’s design specifies a handle bar that comes apart when the rider uses the bike in normal / intended use. i.e. mountain bikes.

Defects in Manufacturing – Example1: An automobile manufacturer does not have proper installed /designed rear seatbelts and they cause severe abdominal injuries in a collision to the passenger. Example 2: An automobile manufacture uses an ignition switch that tends to fail causing the vehicle to come to a stop, creating the possibility of a serious accident and injuries or death.

Defects in Warnings – Example 1: A manufacturer fails to provide an adequate written warning of the flammability of its product and fails to warn to use it an area free of open flames or exposed electrical circuits. Example2: The manufacturer of a space heater fails to provide an adequate written warning that the space heater is prone to overheating and causing a fire hazard if left on for more than 12 hours.

Designers and manufacturers who design, build and distribute defective products can be held responsible for personal injuries or damages that their defective products caused. The types of products are broad they can range from everyday consumer products to medical devices.
I am sure you have all of heard of products liability lawsuits involving the Ford Pinto, Firestone Tires, defective hip implants and just about another product you can imagine.
Of course, these lawsuits can damage a company’s reputation, stock value and their bottom line. One infamous case from the 1970s involved botulism in canned soup. Several people died or were badly injured. The company Bon Vivant ultimately went out of business. Some companies will go to great lengths to hide evidence that its products are defective and dangerous.

Let’s look at some notable cases. General Motors (GM) recently recalled millions of its cars to fix a faulty ignition switch that caused accidents and injuries. The evidence shows that GM had known about the problem for years but had hidden it to avoid having a recall. About a ten years ago Firestone Tire Company hid knowledge that the tires it put on certain vehicles were dangerous. Although the GM and Firestone cases may be particularly disturbing, they are far from the only companies that have hidden evidence of dangerous products.

There are examples involving all different kinds of products. Medical devices for instance, remember the Dalkon Shield, a contraceptive device sold in the 1970s. Despite receiving reports that the device caused infections, stillbirths, and even death, A.H. Robbins (the manufacturer) refused to stop its sale. When the FDA stopped its sale in the United States, the company continued to sell it overseas for another 10 years. Thousands of women lost their children, and some women died.

More recently, Guidant, a maker of implant defibrillators and other medical devices. They hid the fact that one of its implanted defibrillators could short-circuit and fail to operate. Despite the potentially grave consequences, Guidant chose to sell its existing stock of devices, and over the course of three years, it sold 37,000 defibrillators without warning doctors or their patients of the defect. Patients died and others were deprived of the opportunity to select a different implant.

The profits made from the sale of drugs also encourage companies to bury evidence of problems. Johnson & Johnson continued for years to market Propulsid to treat heartburn, all the time knowing it caused serious heart problems, especially in children. Bayer marketed Trasylol, a drug used to control bleeding, knowing it could cause kidney failure. GlaxoSmithKlein’s Avandia (a diabetes drug that caused heart problems), Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa (a psychotropic drug that caused diabetes), and the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that many makers sold to treat depression but that caused an increased risk of suicide are still other examples.

Food is another area in which some corporations place profits ahead of safety. Nine people died and hundreds were sickened by salmonella-contaminated peanut butter, despite the fact that the Peanut Corporation of America had known of the problem for at least three years, going so far as to hire a different testing lab to try to improve the results of tests for contamination. In 2002, Pilgrim’s Pride continued to distribute chicken processed at a plant that it knew was contaminated with Listeria, killing eight and causing others to become sickened or to miscarry. Just a few years before that, people across the upper Midwest were killed or sickened by beef contaminated with E. coli bacteria. The plant that processed the meat would be closed due to contamination, would immediately reopen, and then would close again, the company never solving the underlying problem.

Toys for children are not immune to these dangers. There are companies that sell products aimed at children with knowledge of potential or actual dangers. Magnetix toys, sold building blocks containing small magnets. The toys were popular. However, the company began to receive reports that small children would / could swallow the magnets, and that the magnets would then attach to each other in the child’s intestines and cause infections and bowel obstructions. Even when the United States government specifically asked, the company denied any knowledge of these injuries, and the product continued to be sold.

The fact of the matter is that for many companies, profits come before people, and the companies are willing to knowingly sell products that carry a danger of unnecessary death for those who use them.

Richard M. Katz is a Pasadena personal injury lawyer. He has more than 35 years of experience. We specialize in accident cases, medical malpractice and Kaiser Permanente malpractice claims.

If you or someone you love has been injured because of dangerous or defective product or suffered another type of personal injury, please give me, Richard M. Katz, a call. Our office is ready to help you. Please call 626-796-6333.




Rain in California, Southern California has come, thank goodness. But with rain comes more automobile accidents. You have just been involved in car accident, now what?

The scene can be chaotic immediately after a car crash, but following some basic steps can make things a little less stressful. You should always think about your safety and the safety of others. If someone has been injured, call 911 for assistance. Stay calm, being in a car accident is stressful and upsetting but failing to remain calm will only make things worse.

Stay at the Scene of the Accident
In an auto accident, California law says you must stop— if you drive away from the scene of an accident you can be charged with hit and run even if the accident was not your fault. Whether the accident involved a moving car, parked car, a pedestrian or someone’s property you must stop and identify yourself. Hit-and-run penalties are severe. Depending on the damage or injuries, you may be fined, sent to jail or both. You also could lose your driver’s license.

In addition to stopping you must also exchange information with the other driver or party —you must give your name and driver’s license number, the vehicle identification number of the car you are driving, the name and address of the car’s owner, the name and address of your insurance company and your insurance policy number.

If your accident involves other property or a parked car, you should attempt to locate the driver or owner. If you cannot locate the driver or owner, California law indicates that you may leave the scene of the incident only after you leave behind, in a conspicuous place, your name, address and an explanation of the accident, and the name and address of your car’s owner (if other than yourself). Also you are required to notify the local police or California Highway Patrol either by telephone or in person as soon as possible.

The law also requires that you call the local police or the California Highway Patrol if the accident caused a death or injury. An officer who comes to the scene of the accident will conduct an investigation. If an officer doesn’t show up, you must make a written report on a form available at the police department or CHP office as soon as possible.

Check on All Pedestrians, Drivers and Passengers
Immediately following an accident make sure everyone involved in the accident is basically okay, no broken bones or other emergency conditions. If someone is unconscious or has neck or back pain, don’t move them until qualified medical help arrives. The only exception to this suggestions is if a hazard is present that requires moving the person. Call 911 for emergency assistance. Check on all parties before assessing property damage,

Call the California Highway Patrol or local Police
If there is a death, physical injury or significant property damage you need to call the highway patrol or police. The appropriate authority will come to the scene of the accident and most likely prepare a report. It situations where officers do arrive at the accident scene, you should obtain the name and badge numbers of those responding.

Exchange Information
Even if officers come to the scene of the accident, you should get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers from the other drivers involved. As well, you should get the basic insurance information. A good idea is if you have a smart phone and conditions allow, take a photograph of the other driver’s insurance card (front and back). If there are pedestrians or passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses

Talk to Witnesses
If there are witnesses present. You probably should ask each witness what he or she saw and take some notes concerning their observations. As well if possible, get their names, telephone numbers, and or addresses, if possible. If the accident happened on a surface street you might want to ask if accidents have frequently occurred at the location.

You Have a Cell Phone, Use It, Take Pictures and Other Tips
If safe to do so, it is a good idea to take photographs of the scene of the accident and any damage to the vehicles. It is also a good idea to take pictures of your vehicle as soon as possible after the accident. Photographs can help establish fault and document property damage. As well, pictures of your car after the accident help show the severity of the collision in the event you or a passenger suffered personal injuries.

A simple diagram of the accident scene is often helpful later on. If you have paper or a smart phone draw the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If there are skid marks on the road and it is safe to do you may wish to pace them off and jot down your findings on your diagram. Be sure to point the skid marks out to investigation officers. Mark the positions of any crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights or streetlights..

Also take notes, about weather and road conditions. If the accident happened after dark, note whether the streetlights were on. Note if any stop signs or traffic lights were missing, out or covered, take a picture if such problems exist.

Again, do not place yourself in a position of danger in order to complete an accident diagram or other “investigation.” Be aware of traffic conditions and skip any suggestions that could place you in a position of possible danger or harm

Who’s at Fault
It is rarely a good idea to discuss fault at the scene of an accident. If the other driver is obviously at fault, i.e. unsafe lane change or other obvious circumstances. Stating the same to the other driver in my opinion is OK, however, when talking to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or witnesses always try to be pleasant and cooperative. DO NOT BE COME ARGUMENTATIVE.

It is probably not a good idea to apologize for anything at the scene. For example, if you say, “I did not see the stop sign! Is everyone all right?” Your statement may be considered an admission of fault. However, immediately after an accident, it might not be clear who was at fault for accident. For instance, may the stop sign was covered by a low hanging tree branch. Therefore, I suggest you do not accept responsibility for an accident at the scene of the accident. You will have plenty of time to consider what happened and ultimately decide whether or not you were responsible for accident.

Report the Car Accident to Your Insurance Company
Most insurance policies require that you promptly report the accident to your insurance company. Your insurance policy and common sense requires you to cooperate with your insurance carrier. They will interview you and you should tell them the truth about what occurred. When questioned clearly explain the facts as you believe them to be. Lying is very problematic, indeed if your insurance carrier finds out that you have been untruthful you can have serious problems including possible denial of your coverage for the accident or even insurance fraud.

Get Medical Attention and Keep Track of Your Medical Care
If you are concerned about possible personal injuries at the scene of the accident tell the investigating officers about your injuries. If you were hurt in the car crash seek medical attention as soon as possible. A checkup may be a good idea for both you and any of your passengers if any of you have concerns about having suffered injury. If you are concerned about possible personal injuries at the scene of the accident tell the investigating officers about your injuries. It is very a good idea to tell officers or the other party “I am fine.” Often one could be injured and not know it right away

If your personal injuries are troubling at the scene of the accident, you may wish to be taken to an emergency room by the ambulance. Often the day following an accident one is in more pain, if that is the case you may wish to call your doctor or another health care provider for advice. Keep in mind the your automobile insurance may pay some or all of your medical bills if you have medical payments coverage. You should consult your policy or agent for details on what is covered and for what amounts.

If you did suffer personal injuries you should keep a list of any facilities, doctors, chiropractors, or other medical professionals that you received treatment from.

Get a Property Damage Estimate
Depending upon your insurance company, you may wish to obtain an independent property damage estimate. Particularly, if you are unhappy or not satisfied with how your insurance company has evaluated your car. If you are unhappy, tell your adjuster about your concerns. If you have a reasonable position most adjustor will try and reach an amiable compromise. If your car is totaled and you can’t agree on automobile’s value, most policies provide for a mediation process to review the matter or you may wish to consult an attorney.

Use Caution in Posting or Discussing the Accident
It is not a good idea to post or discuss your car crash. I strongly recommend that you only talk to your lawyer, your insurance company, and the police about the accident. I suggest you do not talk to a representative of another insurance company, without the express knowledge and consent of your attorney or insurer. If contacted by the other driver’s insurance company, be polite, do not discuss the accident and ask him or her to call insurance company or your attorney to discuss. Be sure to get the name, address and telephone number of the adjustor so you can provide it your insurance company or attorney. Also, inform your lawyer and/or insurer about the call and provide them with the contact information.

The Danger of An Early Settlement Offer
Be careful if shortly after the accident you are contacted by an adjustor offering you a nominal settlement. Under California law you can settle your claim for personal injuries at anytime. Once a personal injury claim is settled you cannot re-open the matter even if your personal injuries are more severe then you originally believed. Before any settlement offer should be considered you must be certain that physical injuries have been treated and you have recovered from them. The truth is some injuries do not reveal themselves for days, weeks, months or even years later. Attempting to settle a claim in which you suffered moderate to significant personal injuries is a bad idea, in my opinion. At a bare minium consult a personal n attorney before settling any personal injury claim.

Consult or Hire a Personal Injury Attorney, The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz
If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident, it’s best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. A well qualified personal injury attorney can help you obtain proper compensation for your injuries and related damages. As well, as assisting in your defense if you are claimed to have been partially at fault. Our office works on a contingency fee basis. This means that we only receive a fee if we recover compensation for you. We offer free consultations – so don’t delay call me, Richard M. Katz at 626-796-6333. I look forward to talking to you soon. You can learn more about The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz at

How Do I Know if I Have a Personal Injury Case ?

Many who have suffered a personal injury ask the question, How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Case?

As a general rule the laws in all states provides a mechanism for people to obtain monetary compensation if they have been injured because of someone else’s negligence. The negligent act can range from driving car, to unsafe premises, to professional negligence. By way of example, I am talking about car accidents, slip and fall accidents and medical malpractice. If you have been physically hurt or injured as a result of a careless or negligent act, then you may have the right to claim compensation for your injuries.

Keep in mind that every personal injury case is different. A valid and compensable claim depends upon the facts in your specific situation. Although personal injury claims have common elements each type of personal injury claim (automobile accidents, trip and fall, medical negligence, etcetera) has specific laws that apply to the type of claim. This is why it is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney, such as me, Richard M. Katz, Esq. at the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz to discuss a potential claim you may have. Our telephone number is 626-796-6333 and our website is

Some of the common and main issues in establishing a personal injury claim include:
1. Liability, that is who is at fault?
In any personal injury claim arising from an accident or incident an individual or organization can be held legally responsible for your injuries and damages. If you can prove negligence. Sometimes negligence is referred to as the “failure to act in a reasonably prudent fashion.” Although the language may vary on the type of claim you have, essentially this is what must proven. Whether someone or an entity acted “negligently” is based upon the facts. For instances, in a car accident if speeding or following too close was the cause of the accident, probably negligent. For a trip and fall or slip and fall case a dangerous condition created by the owner of the property or failure to fix a bad staircase, probably negligent. In a medical malpractice claim a physician who fails to act as a reasonably prudent physician in the same or similar circumstances probably negligent. Ultimately the questions posed are the facts sufficient enough to prove that an individual, or organization, was in whole or in part responsible for your personal injuries. Keep in mind that in California and many other states you can pursue your claim even if you were partially at fault for the incident. The laws in many states, including California provide immunity (does not allow a claim to be brought) to certain entities or people. This is why it is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate your specific case.

2. Does it Make Economic Sense to Purse a Claim, That Is What Are the Nature and Extent of Damages?
Even if you feel that someone has acted negligently and caused you harm, the injuries, losses and damages stemming from the negligent act may be minimal. For instance you are in a car accident, hit from behind, it was a light tap, your car suffered no property damage and you were a little sore for a day or two. It is very likely that the costs involved in prosecuting a lawsuit may be more than the monetary damages you could recover.

3. Do I Still Have Time to Bring an Action, That Is What Are Statute of Limitations?
California like every state has a statute of limitations for every potential claim. Generally a lawsuit or claim must filed within the “window of time” allowed for a particular claim. The time limits are different depending on the nature of your case i.e. auto accident injury, medical malpractice, product liability claim. Is a governmental entity involved? It is critical to know the time limitations applicable to your claim because if a timely action is not brought or filed before the applicable statute of limitations has run, it is likely that your claim will be forever barred. Another good reason to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.

If you have questions about your personal injury matter, you need to speak to an experienced personal injury / medical malpractice attorney who can help you evaluate your situation and provide you with your legal rights and options. Remember consultations are free so there is no charge to have your case reviewed by me. I, Richard M. Katz, Esq., am here to answer your questions and give you help. For a free consultation, please feel free to give me a call. 626-796-6333. I look forward to talking to you. Our website is

Medical Malpractice? Corneal Injury?

Each year, Americans make nearly a million doctor visits for eye infections, resulting in $175 million in direct health care costs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated in the first study of its kind.

Keratitis, an infection of the cornea, causes pain and inflammation and can lead to blindness in severe cases. Keratitis occurs when germs invade the cornea, the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye. If a healthcare provider fails to properly evaluate the presentation the results can be devastating to the patient. The infection is most likely to occur when there is injury to the eye. This can be caused by trauma or from contact lenses that are worn too long or are not cared for correctly.

The Center for Disease Control analyzed a national databases of outpatient care centers and emergency rooms to develop the first national estimates of how much keratitis occurs in the United States. The CDC experts found that Americans made an estimated 930,000 visits to doctor’s offices and outpatient clinics and 58,000 emergency room visits annually due to eye infections. The report was published in the November 13, 2014 edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

When patients seek care quickly, most complications of keratitis can be easily treated by an eye doctor but failure to properly diagnosis and treat the condition can cause permanent injury. More serious infections can cause pain and lead to vision loss, depending on what germs caused the infection and how long the patient suffers from the problem before receiving appropriate medical attention.

The symptoms of keratitis usually include pain, tearing, redness, and blurring of vision. The pain may be mild to severe, depending on the cause and extent of the inflammation. Sensitivity to light may also be present. To the observer, the eye may appear red and watery; and if the cornea has extensive keratitis, the normally clear cornea may look gray or have white to gray areas.

The diagnosis of keratitis is made by obtaining a complete history and a physical examination of the eye. The history should consist of questions documenting a past medical and ocular history and the symptoms specific to the current visit. The eye examination should consist of checking the patient’s vision. Using a device called a slit lamp will allow a careful inspection of the cornea. A slit lamp provides magnification and illumination of the cornea in detail.

If an infection is suspected, a culture may be taken from the surface of the eye for specific identification of the bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite causing the keratitis.

If you believe you or a loved one has been hurt because of medical negligence, seek legal counsel. You should consult with a personal injury lawyer and/or a medical malpractice attorney. Please feel free to give me a call if you live in California and believe you may have a claim. You may contact me Richard M. Katz at 626-796-6333. Our website address is .

Car Accident Lawyer:Do I Need to Hire One or Can I Settle Myself ?

This may come as surprise but in fender bender car accidents, you often do not need a car accident lawyer to represent you. However, it is important that you are educated about the claims process and to understand the pros and cons of attempting settle a claim yourself, and those types of claim which require a personal injury lawyer.

There are four major factors that I consider important, they are:

1. Did you suffer injury?

If you suffered a serious personal injury such as facial injuries, broken bones or back injuries (i.e. herniated disk) you should seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer. You likely have a permanent injury that will likely affect you for the rest of your life, you have a potentially large claim and should hire a personal injury attorney to present you in your car collision claim.

If you suffered significant soft tissue injuries for which you feel you need medical attention for you should at least consult and probably hire a personal injury lawyer.

If you suffered no injuries or just a few aches and pain you may wish to consult with a car accident lawyer / personal injury attorney, consultations are free and you can educate yourself on your rights.

Based upon my experience generally speaking the larger a claimant’s case for injuries the stronger the insurance carrier fights the claim.

2. Who is at fault for the car crash? Is fault contested in your matter or does insurance carrier for the other driver accept fault / responsibility for the car accident?

Where fault for a car accident is contested, you must prove that the other driver was negligent and caused the accident. If you cannot carry your burden of proof you will lose and will not be entitled to recover your damages. If your only damage is property damage and you have collision coverage your own insurance company will take care of the loss and you will only be responsible for your deductible.

However, if you suffered injuries and there is a dispute over fault then there is too much at stake for you to try and handle the matter on your own, you need a automobile accident lawyer’s help.

3. How much is your claim worth?

You might feel confident settling your own claim if you have minor injuries and minor out-of-pocket expenses. Perhaps you have a few hundred dollars for medical expenses and some loss of income. Perhaps under those circumstance you would feel a $1,000 or $2,000 is a reasonable settlement.

However if you suffered injuries and incurred medical expenses of a few thousand dollars and suffered loss of income then you probably not want to handle your own claim.

Ultimately you have to decide at what level your case is too big to handle yourself, and your personal comfort level may be higher or lower than these figures.

However, keep in mind that when you are trying to settle your own car collision claim with an insurance company you are at distinct disadvantage. The carrier and its agents have experience and will likely take advantage of your ignorance.

4. Do you really want to handle your car collision claim yourself?

If you are going to handle your claim yourself you will need to educate yourself that will probably take a good 10 to 20 hours learning how to settle car accident claims. There are many “self help” books available and you should read at least one before you take any steps toward evaluating your claim. Then you must present your claim to the insurance company a well drafted letter covering all aspects of your claim should take a couple of hours to prepare. Then you will need to negotiate with the insurance company which can be a frustrating and nearly endless process depending upon the issues involved. If you cannot settle your case then you need to file a lawsuit. Depending upon the size of your claim small claims court may be appropriate.. Keep in mind that representing yourself in a personal injury claim in the Superior Court of California is not easy and one generally needs a lawyer who knows how to litigate a case. Keep in mind that you have represented yourself many lawyers will decline your matter because you have “poisoned the well.”

While not always true the proverb is based on the opinion, probably first expressed by a lawyer, that self-representation in court is likely to end badly. As with many proverbs, it is difficult to determine a precise origin but this expression first began appearing in print in the early 19th century. Henry Kett (1814) an eminent lawyer of the period observed “I hestitate not to pronounce, that every man who is his own lawyer, has a fool for a client.” Abraham Lincoln has been credited with stating “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Keep the foregoing in mind when choosing to represent yourself.

In automobile crash claims there are many claims you can handle yourself if you learn how, but it would be foolish to handle large claims yourself. You should hire a personal injury lawyer if you suffered injuries that is.

In my practice I have handled hundreds of car accidents. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, please contact me, Richard M. Katz, Esq. at 626-796-6333 so that my office can help protect you or your loved ones legal rights. Visit us at our website

Do I Have A Case? Premises Liability

Who is responsible for accidents that occur on or around buildings and grounds?

We often refer to personal injury accidents that are caused by a defective condition or a dangerous condition on property, either outside, such as a sidewalk or parking lot or inside a building, as “premises liability” accidents. These premises liability accidents can occur at commercial buildings (stores or offices), commercial venues (amusement parks or water parks) residences (private homes or rentals), or on public property (parks, streets, or public transportation facilities).

Many circumstances can cause a dangerous condition on premises, such as — unsafe design, poor construction or poor building materials, improper maintenance, improperly managed amusement rides. Dangerous conditions on premises can lead to many types of personal injury accidents including slip and fall, trip and fall, being hit by an item falling on you or any number of ways.

It may surprise you to learn that in order to recover for personal injuries suffered on another’s property you must prove that they were negligent in the use and management of their property. Sometimes the property owner / possessor of property is responsible and sometimes not. Premises liability personal injury claims are very dependent on the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

Generally the owner or possessor of a property has a duty to anyone who enters the property not to expose that individual an unreasonable risk of harm because of condition, construction or design of the property. The logic for the rule is understandable: The owner or possessor of the premises has complete control over of the premises and is in the best position to maintain and control the premises. A visitor at someone else’s property has a right to assume the property is in a reasonable safe condition for its intended use and purpose.

Nevertheless, a visitor must use the property properly. This can be somewhat moderated depending upon the age of the visitor. However, as a rule the conduct of the injured person can be an issue. By way of example, if a person gets injured while acting in an unexpected, unauthorized, or dangerously careless way, the property owner or occupier will probably not be responsible for the injury.

Under California law the owner (owner, possessor, renter, governmental entity) of a premise or location is not “automatically responsible” for the injuries suffered by a customer or a pedestrian. The California Supreme Court in Ortega v. Kmart (2001) 26 Cal.4th 1200 [114 Cal.Rptr.2d 470, 36 P.3d 11] set forth the law for slip and fall / trip and fall claims. Ortega involved a store in which a patron suffered an injury because of a slip and fall accident.

The Court stated that “It is well established in California that although a store owner is not an insurer of the safety of its patrons. (Ortega, supra, 26 Cal.4th at p. 1205.” The Court went on to state “Because the owner is not the insurer of the visitor’s personal safety, the owner’s actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition is a key to establishing its liability.” (Ortega, supra, 26 Cal.4th at p. 1206). The Court further held that “Courts have also held that where the plaintiff relies on the failure to correct a dangerous condition to prove the owner’s negligence, the plaintiff has the burden of showing that the owner had notice of the defect in sufficient time to correct it.” (Ortega, supra, 26 Cal.4th at p. 1206.)

In the case of Getchell v. Rogers Jewelry (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 381, 385 [136 Cal.Rptr.3d 641], the Court held that “Generally speaking, a property owner must have actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition before liability will be imposed. In the ordinary slip and fall case, . . . the cause of the dangerous condition is not necessarily linked to an employee. . .”

If you have been injured because of a premises accident at a commercial building (store or office), or at a commercial venue (amusement park or water park), or at a residence (private home or rental), or on public property (park, street, or public transportation facility), you may be thinking “Do I have a case?”

Consider this an owner / possessor of property will be found negligent in the use or maintenance of their property if 1) a condition on the property created an unreasonable risk of harm; 2) the owner / possessor knew or, through the exercise of reasonable care, should have known about the dangerous condition; and 3) the owner / possessor failed to repair the condition, protect against harm from the condition, or give adequate warning of the condition.

The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz has had many successful claims against property owners over the years we have had successful results against governmental entities, private homeowners, builders, amusement parks and venues. Some of these cases resulted in death and serious injury. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed possibly on someone else’s premises please give me a call for a free consultation. Please contact Richard M. Katz, Esq. at 626-796-6333 so that my office can help protect your legal rights.

Visit us at our website at

Medication Errors: Don’t Let Them Happen to You

Medication errors like happen frequently. According to the well respected 2006 report “Preventing Medication Errors” from the Institute of Medicine, medication errors injure 1.5 million Americans each year and cost $3.5 billion in lost productivity, wages, and additional medical expenses.

We have all seen that almost yearly there is an announcement of some new wonder drug to treat a condition or disease. We have all seen the drug commercial and the all important disclaimer. No drug or medication is without some adverse risk or reaction. The increase in the number of drugs available and in the number of drugs the average person takes has led to an explosion in the number of errors made in prescriptions.

These errors can take all kinds of forms and can occur in many different ways. Sometimes a drug other than the one prescribed is provided, or the correct drug is provided in the wrong dosage. Sometimes a drug is prescribed that interacts negatively with another drug the person is taking and the patient is not warned of the danger. Sometimes the mistake is made by the doctor prescribing the drug, sometimes by the pharmacist filling the prescription, sometimes by the person administering the prescribed drug. Mistakes can occur in hospitals, nursing homes, and the corner drugstore. Regardless of the many different ways that prescription problems can occur, they all share one thing: They can be serious and potentially deadly.

In 2008 it was estimated by researchers that preventable adverse drug events kill 7,000 Americans annually. The researchers also concluded that medication errors that result in harm are the number-one cause of inpatient fatalities. Experts believe at least one medication error occurs per hospital patient every day. However, error rates vary widely among facilities. It has been found that medication errors pose the greatest risks and consequences in critical care settings, the reason for this is that usually patients in such settings are quite ill and do not have the resilience to respond adequately to an adverse event. Further, critical care patients often receive twice as many medications as patients on general floors. It is estimated that some 20% of critical care medication errors are potentially life-threatening, and half of these medical errors necessitate
additional life-sustaining treatments.

A undercover investigation televised by ABC News in 2007 reported on errors committed at pharmacies in the United States. The report, Pharmacy Errors: Unreported Epidemic?, drew attention to a the dangers associated with the proliferation of dispensing errors. The ABC News report showed the devastating consequences that are possible when medication errors are made. The ABC News Reported implied that overworked healthcare providers (pharmacists) are prone to making medical mistakes.

In a poll conducted by the National Patient Safety Foundation, 42% of respondents had been affected by a medical error, either personally or through a friend or relative, and 32% indicated that the error had a permanent negative effect on the patient’s health. See Medical Errors: The Scope of the Problem. Fact sheet. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2000. Publication No. AHRQ 00-P037.

According to The Quality of Health Care in America Project, established by the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine (IOM), errors committed within the health care system have significant impact on patient safety and health care costs.

Some experts in the health industry consider the primary reason for the rise in medication errors to be financial—the doctors who write the prescriptions, the pharmacists who fill them, and the nurses who often administer them are pressured to serve more patients in less time, increasing profits, but also increasing the risk of an error. Others experts feel that the alarming rise in the marketing of drugs directly to patients is partially responsible. The advertisements are directed to a diverse audience, i.e. patients. It has been found that patients that see or read these advertisements are more likely to go to their doctors and demand a prescription for some drug they read about in a magazine ad or saw on television. Such patient driven requests leads to more prescriptions being written and greater chances for error.

A recent study concluded that out of 3 billion prescriptions filled each year, 51.5 million of them contain some kind of error. Although reliable statistics are hard to come by, these errors lead to thousands of unnecessary hospitalizations and hundreds of unnecessary deaths

Many factors can lead to medication errors. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has identified 10 key elements with the greatest influence on medication use, noting that weaknesses in these can lead to medication errors. They are patient information, drug information, adequate communication, drug packaging, labeling, and nomenclature, medication storage, stock, standardization, and distribution, drug device acquisition, use, and monitoring, environmental factors, staff education and competency, patient education, quality processes and risk management.

Solutions to this medication error problem have been suggested. The first is also the easiest, healthcare providers should slow down and make sure the prescription is correct for the patient. Another is to install more safeguards, such as flagging a patient’s file if they are allergic to a particular medication. Another is for pharmacists to check that the prescription they are filling is appropriate some prescriptions are virtually illegible and the pharmacist is guessing. Another solution is to make sure that different drugs or different dosages don’t look similar, reducing the chance that the wrong medication will be given to or used by a patient.

Cases involving prescription errors and medication errors can involve claims of negligence, medical malpractice, and products liability, these are complex areas of the law. In my practice I have handled claims involving prescription errors and medication errors of all types. Some leading to death and serious injury. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed possibly because of a prescription error and/or medication errors please contact give me a call. Contact Richard M. Katz, Esq. at 626-796-6333 so that my office can help protect your legal rights. Visit us at our website at

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