AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS, SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS, PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS – WHY IT TAKES TIME TO SETTLE THESE CLAIMS

Personal injury claims consist of many different types of claims. Those claims included automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents.

Ford_E-Series_Ambulance

Personal Injury Involving Ambulance Service

Generally, medical malpractice, elder abuse, defective drugs, train crashes and airplane crashes are handled differently then general personal injury claims. Personal injury claims such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims I have found common factors in the claims handling process.

Often clients feel it “takes too long” to get their cases settled and sometimes feel that the “offers are too low.” First you should know that no two claims are the same. Claims like people are individual and unique.

Why it often takes a long time to settle many personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims, is because the claims settlement process requires considerable documentation. An insurance company rarely if ever accepts an attorney’s representations without supporting documentation. Often the smaller the claim, the more difficult it is to settle, particularly when it comes to the “pain and suffering” aspects of the claim. As well, contested liability claims are very difficult to settle the insurance carrier takes the position “our insured did nothing wrong.”

When it comes to claims handling it is constantly entertaining to see how different companies choose individuals to manage its finances: in banks, the lowest paid staff members are usually tellers and count the cash; in a storehouse, the shipping clerk sends out and receives everything owned by the company; and in most accounting departments, a clerk prepares and issue checks giving only the most brief review of the invoice before mailing. Well, the truth is that insurance companies handle personal injury claims including automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims about the same way.

My experience has shown that the individual originally assigned to your case will not likely be the adjuster, who will ultimately be responsible for settling your claim. Often they assign a claim to an adjuster or clerk with little experience. In that last few years I have noticed a change with some personal injury insurance carriers and they assign your claim to a “team.” Unfortunately often the “team” has little experience. In any event, the first step in opening a personal injury claim requires the setting of an initial reserve. This requires assigning a value based upon the apparent seriousness of the loss, such as broken bones versus soft tissue only. Unless injuries are serious and self evident, initial claim evaluations made by the insurance company will be unrealistically low, which can lead to a problem settling your case down the road. We try to give the insurance company as much information known to us at the time of the incident but often the extent of personal injuries and other losses are unknown.

The days when these types of personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims. ln would be initially reviewed by a claims supervisor no longer exists. Years ago it would be usual for a claims supervisor to review a claim and designate an adjuster with the experience and ability to handle the claim to its conclusion efficiently.

TheBus_New_Flyer_D60LF_(080)_on_Kalakaua_Avenue_(Accident)_2011-05-14

Auttomobile Accidents Between Bues and Cars Are Common and Often Cause Personal Injuries to Drivers and Passengers*

Today with computer programs such Colossus and team approaches I have found that are still “levels of claims” adjuster. An assignment of claim should be based upon the complexity of the claim and seriousness of the injuries, however, often they base claim assignment exclusively on the expected value of the claim, i.e., the reserve the insurance company has set on the claim. By way of example, perceived small claims involving $5,000 or less may all be assigned to a very inexperienced claims handler, and we will call him Bill. But claims that say fall into the $5, 000 to $20,000 range may be assigned to a more experience claims adjuster. claims would be designated to James and more senior claims handler Susan would take the $20,000 to $75,000 claims and a supervisor would take all the claims anticipated to exceed $75,000 in settlement value. These “assignments” are done at the time the claim is initially submitted.

So what happens when your more than $20,000 claim gets assigned to “wrong level?”The fact that they have assigned your claim to an adjuster without sufficient authority does not mean that the adjustor is incompetent or that her supervisor does not respect her/his opinions. Therefore, attorneys need to work with the adjuster to enable them to evaluate your claim properly. Frequently cases / claims get reassigned to a different adjuster. The “new” adjuster now has to get up to speed on your claim.

Keep in mind that many adjusters have caseloads of more than a 125 files often higher, much higher. In order to settle a case, the adjuster needs “documentation.” This includes medical documentation for injuries, documentation for medical expenses, documentation for loss of income. Depending upon whom you have seen for medical care obtaining medical reports and medical records can be very difficult to get because the doctor’s office does not cooperate. I have had cases in which we wait months and months to get such documentation. The same is true for loss of income or for self-employed individuals who cannot provide documentation regarding loss of income. The insurance companies will not accept and pay claims that are not properly documented. All of this takes time. Sometimes clients are unhappy with the delays.

My experience has shown in personal injury cases, involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents, it is common for insurance adjusters to begin negotiations by making a very low first offer. Sometimes, the adjuster will deny all liability for the claim. These negotiation tactics often work because some personal injury attorneys out there accept the first or second lowball offer. Because we must tell clients of all offers, an impatient attorney or client to get, some money will take any amount, I think this is a mistake.

I have had personal injury claims in my office for more than a year but over weeks and months the offers increase often dramatically. I recently settled a personal injury automobile accident claim for $27,500.00, and the original offer on the case was $7,000.00. This case took almost 18 months to settle and the client was very anxious to have his case settled. This case has been through three different adjusters. At one point the client was willing to accept a far lower offer to “get it over.” I told him that it was not a good idea and please follow my advice. He did and we settled his case fairly.

However, as a claimant you need to keep in mind that as a lawyer we need to work with the adjusters to settle a claim.  Some of your reading this may believe that “if only my case got in front of jury” they would award me a lot of money. YOU ARE WRONG. On some cases, particularly smaller “fender bender” cases, resorting to litigation / filing a lawsuit is often losing proposition FOR YOU.

The fact is that personal injury claims such as involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents (Tort cases, as they are called) have been on the decline for decades. According to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), tort cases declined by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008 and are still on the decline. The belief that juries or judges award large amounts is wrong. The fact is that most lawsuits result in comparatively small verdicts.

Lawsuits are very expensive. No law firm can afford to accept weak or frivolous cases. In California I have found that jurors are usually fairly smart, not easily fooled and are not very sympathetic with soft tissue personal injury claims. It takes the average lawyer and law firm between 100-500 hours of time and thousands of dollars in court costs to prepare for a trial. The entire process often takes between 2 and 5 years – even a simple fender-bender case. The expense for even a simple jury trial begins at around $15,000.00. Unless your case is in limited jurisdiction you need live expert testimony concerning medical care, treatment and charges. If you have seen several physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers, most or all need to be called at the time of trial. Expert fees even for treating physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers can run into thousands of dollars.

Current studies show that personal injury claims involving back and neck strains in California have a median verdict of $10,885 ! ! ! So a jury trial can cost more than you are likely to recover. Now some of you may be thinking that does not happen often, YES IT DOES. Here are some examples:

2012 Corbin v. Pascarella $10,400 Verdict. The defendant hits plaintiffs’ vehicle in an intersection. Plaintiff’s 13-year-old daughter claimed lower back, necks, and shoulder pain because of the collision. Plaintiff (mother) settles her claim before trial. A Los Angeles County jury awards $10,400 to the daughter

2012 Messina v. Bayne $11,430 Verdict. Plaintiff is stopped with traffic when his vehicle is hit from behind. Initially plaintiff only took one day off and returned to his work at a supermarket. Shortly after the incident he sees a chiropractor for four visits. Plaintiff claims a “10 out of 10” on the pain scale. He changes chiropractors and gets additional treatment and he later takes an additional 11 days off of work. He receives physical therapy for about 8 months from February 2010 to November 2010. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company contests the need for the “second” chiropractor visits and treatments. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company denies that the plaintiff’s claim for lost wages beyond the first day were unreasonable. The jury award likely shows what the jury thought of the claim. .

2013 – Reveles v. O’Neal $5,000 Verdict. Defendant driver crossed double yellow line and collided into oncoming car. The plaintiff suffered injuries. Plaintiff had medical bills of about $70,000, but the medical expenses were not allowed to go to the jury because a medical expert was not called. The injuries appeared to be mainly soft tissue. A San Diego County jury awarded $5,000, which is paid by defendant’s insurance, Commerce West Group.

THE TAKE AWAY?

Be patient, and patience is a truly a virtue in settlement negotiations. Although you may “need” the money now, it is rarely to your advantage to “hurry through the process.” Allow your attorney to their job. Most attorney’s will give you good advice on these types of claims.

Believe me, claims adjusters are pretty good at sensing anxiety. If your attorney shows anxiousness, the adjuster will likely change her/his focus away from the settlement, and on the sense of desperation. The adjuster will likely then base further settlement discussions on that sense of anxiety, rather than the facts of the claim.

Does the adjuster have to treat you / your claim fairly? The simple answer is no. Under California law on third party claims, law does not bind the adjuster to treat you fairly. California does not recognize third party bad faith claims.

My advice is simple, stay calm. If you have trust and faith in your attorney allow him or her to do their job. If you do not have confidence in your attorney, well that is another story for another day.

In the event you have suffered or a loved one has suffered a personal injury from any type of incident (automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents) you should contact a personal injury attorney.

Richard M. Katz, Esq.,  is a Pasadena personal injury lawyer. We handle personal injury claims we specialize in accident, medical malpractice and Kaiser Permanente malpractice claims.

I 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. My office is located at 1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, California, 91106

*The Bus New Flyer Accident, public domain, by Daniel Ramirez

 

Personal Injury : Jury Awards $21 Million For Injuries Suffered by Family in Car Accident

People suffer severe personal injuries in traffic accidents and car accidents every day. Here is an example of one recent car accident case that was tried before a jury.

In June of this year (2015) a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded $21 Million to three family members after a 2011 DUI car crash caused them serious injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives. The incident occurred when a drunk driver of a Ford Explorer crossed a double yellow line and struck the family’s Ford Taurus head-on. Head-on collision can be the most serious. The injured suffered severe fractures and lacerations.

The family was on a trip Palmdale to Los Angeles to take their son to college. The drunk driver apparently lost control of his vehicle, crossed over into opposing traffic and slammed the family’s vehicle head on. Paramedics rushed all three family members to Antelope Valley Hospital from the scene of the crash, where they received emergency medical care.

The trial lasted 13 days. During the trial treating physicians, family members, friends of the family, and expert witnesses were called to testify on behalf of the injured. The evidence showed that each victim had suffered loss of income / damage to earning capacity, incurred substantial medical expenses and would suffer significant pain and suffering. The jury deliberated for two days, before arriving at their verdict.

While such verdicts, $21 million are not common, this jury verdict shows what a jury may do in a serious personal injury case. The fact that the defendant was intoxicated possibly had an influence on the juries deliberations.

Most car accidents do not cause such serious injuries as this family suffered. Nevertheless, even in a less significant traffic accident consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is usually a good idea. Experience personal injury attorneys will have experience working with insurance providers to get the highest possible settlement amounts for clients. If you have been injured or you have lost any type of personal or business property due to an accident, don’t wait to get the help you need and deserve.

If you or a loved one suffers a personal injury arising from a car accident  / traffic accident, 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.

DANGEROUS PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET CAUSE PERSONAL INJURIES

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.

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. www.ahrq.gov/qual/errback.htm.

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 https://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

ATV (all-terrain vehicles) Accidents – What You Need To Know

A car accident also known as a traffic collision, automobile accident, road traffic collision or car crash can be a terrible event. In the same vein, ATV (all-terrain vehicles)accidents can be devastating.

When a ATV collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree or utility pole or overturns the resulting collisions may cause injury, death, vehicle damage, and property damage.

A number of factors contribute to the risk of collision, including vehicle design, speed of operation, road design, road environment, driver skill and/or impairment, and driver behavior.

Vehicular collisions lead to death and disability as well as financial costs to both society and the individuals involved.

Since ATVs were introduced in the early 1970s, they have become increasingly popular. Many families use ATVs for weekend activities. But with increased use accidents and injuries have also increased. As reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as of 2012 over 100,000 ATV injuries were recorded. It is estimated that 25,000 of these ATV related were to children younger than 16 years of age. Over 2,900 children died from ATV-related accidents between 1982 and 2012, .

ATVs especially older ones are so dangerous because of their design. As the result of safety concerns expressed by the federal government almost 30 years ago ATV manufacturers entered into a consent decree in 1988. In the consent decree, manufactures agreed to halt production of three-wheeled ATVs, to provide safety training for new owners, to place warning labels on their products, and to make recommendations about what size of ATV is appropriate for different age groups. In 1998 the consent decree expired but ATV manufacturers have pledged to continue to follow most of its provisions.

Nevertheless because ATVs generally get far less use the cars or trucks many older ATVs are still in use and very dangerous.

Whether an ATV was made before or after 1988, they still all have common safety issues. Including many have no frame protecting the operator in the event of an accident. ATVs tend to ride on large, low-pressure tires that can have difficulty gripping the rough terrain over which they travel. Many have hand-operated brakes, which operated incorrectly can cause an ATV to overturn as one attempts to bring them to a stop.

As well ATVs have relatively large engines for their size and weight. Some ATVs are capable of speeds as high as 70 mph. At that speed while often going across broken and uneven terrain an accident is likely. Many ATVs are not designed for passengers but folks allow others to ride on the ATV again creating a potentially dangerous situation that can lead to death or injury.

Pre 1998 three-wheeled ATVs are less stable than the current four-wheeled ATVs, but even the four-wheeled models can be top-heavy and prone to serious rollover accidents causing death and injury.

Notwithstanding design changes the number of injuries and deaths per year attributable to ATV accidents continues to rise. The problem is twofold. One reason the number of injuries and deaths continue to rise is because the use of ATVs is increasing, it is a popular activity. AS well, ATV makers are building more powerful ATVs and marketing them to younger and younger children. Parents often and wrongfully believe these ATVs are “toys.”

One recent slick marketing tool is the “transitional” ATV. This ATV is sized between the smaller ATVs intended for children and a full-sized adult ATV. These “transitional” ATVs are marketed to generally teenage boys in the 14 to 15 year-old age group. And we all know how safety cautious 13 to 16 year-olds are. Kids in this age generally have no fear and without proper training, guidance and supervision there is an increasing likelihood of serious injuries or death.

As a group ATV manufacturers have fought any attempt to impose regulations on ATV ownership or use (such as age limits and mandatory helmet laws).

In my practice I have handled claims against various manufacturers of vehicles, including ATV and Motorcycles. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed while riding an ATV, please contact me, Richard M. Katz, Esq. at 626-796-6333 so that my office can help protect your legal rights. Visit us at our website https://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

 

 

What Everybody Ought To Know About The Kaiser Permanente Arbitration Process for Medical Malpractice Claims

It is no secret that Kaiser Permanente is the largest delivery system of its kind in the United States and has more than nine million members. In California they require all members of the organization to resolve all disputes related to claims for medical malpractice through a binding arbitration system. Members of Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) either directly or through their employer sign a binding arbitration agreement.

Many victims feel that somehow the arbitration process compromises their claim or ability to be compensated for their injuries. Clients often come to me and ask me “how do I get out of that arbitration system? ” Based upon my many years of experience and many victories against Kaiser Permanente, I assure them, that arbitrating a medical malpractice case against Kaiser Permanente depending on the circumstances of their claim may be beneficial.

A Brief History of Arbitrations
Our judicial system favors arbitrations. The arbitration statutory procedures are set forth in Code of Civil Procedure §1280, et seq. and the Kaiser Permanente arbitration rules. There are many state and federal court cases upholding the validity of private arbitrations, enforcement of private arbitration agreements, and enforcement of private arbitration awards.

Once arbitrations were problematic for claimants / plaintiffs because the healthcare provider / insurer had the money, manpower and volume of cases to manipulate the arbitration system to their advantage. This was especially true for Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group). This really was a problem and the propensity to manipulate the system was discussed in the case of Engalla v. Permanente Medical Group, Inc. (1997) 15 Cal.4th 951.

In the California Supreme Court in the Engalla case found that Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group) was manipulating the arbitration system. The Court found they were manipulating the system. One method they used was delaying the selection of a neutral arbitrator, which made it difficult to get cases resolved timely. There were instances when the claimant died during the pendency of the claim because of delays.

In the face of having their entire arbitration system disbanded Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group) established the Office of the Independent Administrator (OIA). This independent law office acts as a third party overseeing the entire Kaiser Permanente arbitration system. They have established a screening process for arbitrators and require all parties to comply with the arbitration rules. I think the system is fair and equitable. However, for that to be true, you must have an attorney who is experienced with the process Kaiser Permanente arbitration process from selecting an arbitrator to presenting evidence. Frankly, it is my opinion that arbitrating a case correctly is just as demanding as going to trial.

The Skill of Your Attorney is Important
Your attorney must have the background, training and experience to understand and navigate the arbitration process. If he or she does have that experience then good results are probable. In all arbitration processes the “key” is getting a real “neutral” neutral arbitrator. In Kaiser Permanente arbitrations they pay half or all of the neutral arbitrator’s fees. The challenge is that Kaiser Permanente has hundreds of cases where a neutral arbitrator can serve. This raises the specter that a neutral arbitrator may find for Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) to “keep the cases coming.”

My experience with the neutral arbitrators that I have used has not shown that. I have had several cases in which neutrals have award 100s of thousands of dollars to more than 1 million dollars. It is my experience that there is many honest and honorable neutral arbitrators who will not be “unduly” swayed by the money issue. Based upon my experience and network of attorneys I know which neutrals are the truly neutral arbitrators. I generally do not have difficulty getting Kaiser Permanente to agree with the selection of a neutral to hear a case. As well, although both parties are entitled to party arbitrators, over the years I have moved away from using party arbitrators because I think it adds another layer of complexity to the case and places an adverse advocate in the room with the neutral.

If your attorney has the experience, knowledge and ability a claimant can get a reasonable neutral arbitrator and Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) will pay the arbitrator’s entire fees. This will save you thousands of dollars and you will get a timely fair hearing.

Arbitration v. Trial
My experience has caused me to conclude that if a claimant has a strong liability case, the claimant has a higher probability of a successful result in arbitration than before a jury. I believe this to be true because the neutral arbitrators or arbitration panels that I have used are knowledgeable professionals who understand medicine and understand the medical/legal issues and are not easily bamboozled by slick experts. Nor are they intimidated by doctors or lawyers.

With juries you are dealing with twelve lay people (in state court) whom we must educate often in complex areas of medicine. I think if they do not understand the medicine, Plaintiff loses. If they do not understand the complex and confusing jury instructions Plaintiff loses. If they do not like the Plaintiff, you will probably lose.

However, if you win the liability aspect of your medical malpractice case, with a jury, your general damages are limited to $250,000.00. So even if a jury were likely to award a larger damage award then an arbitrator, the law caps the general damages at $250,000.00. I have not personally had a situation in which we prevailed on liability in an arbitration and had the arbitrator give inadequate damages for pain and suffering. Not saying this is always true but that has been my experience.

Concluding Thoughts
There is a myriad of variables that present in all medical malpractice claims, whether against Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) or other healthcare provider. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being a medical malpractice victim of Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) it is imperative that you choose a personal injury that has the skill training and experience to litigate in the arbitration venue. An attorney with experience and a good track record will give you the best possible chance of reaching your goal of successfully settling or winning your claim.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical negligence arising from the care and treatment provided to you by Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) please feel free to give me, Richard M. Katz, a call at 626-796-6333. We are found at 1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA. 91106.
My website is lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

FOOD POISONING – FOODBORNE GERMS IS AN ONGOING THREAT

The Centers for Disease Control issued an alarming report today concerning the problems of foodborne germs.

Foodborne germs, that are antibiotic resistance is a continuing public health threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that every year, antibiotic-resistant infections from foodborne germs cause an estimated 430,000 illnesses in the United States. Multi-drug resistant Salmonella, from food and other sources, causes about 100,000 illnesses in the United States each year.

Bacteria and viruses are the most common cause of food poisoning. The symptoms and severity of food poisoning vary, depending on which bacteria or virus has contaminated the food. The bacteria and viruses that cause the most illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States are Salmonella, Norovirus (Norwalk Virus), Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens. Foodborne illness in the United States causes an estimated 48 million illnesses and 3,000 deaths each year.

If you have eaten contaminated food, the onset of symptoms may occur within minutes to weeks and often presents itself as flu-like symptoms. Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever are common. The symptoms are often flu-like and many folks may not recognize that the illness is caused by pathogens or harmful bacteria.

Although recent data revealed that multi-drug resistant Salmonella decreased during the past decade. Unfortunately, Salmonella typhi, the germ that causes typhoid fever, resistance to quinolone drugs increased to 68 percent in 2012, raising concerns that one of the common treatments for typhoid fever may not work in many cases.

The Salmonella that has been linked to recent outbreaks associated with poultry. Is resistant to ceftriaxone, a cephalapsorin drug. Ceftriaxone resistance is a problem because it makes severe Salmonella infections harder to treat, especially in children.

A report from Centers for Disease Control NARMS compares resistance levels in human samples in 2012 to a baseline period of 2003-2007. According to Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases
“Our latest data show some progress in reducing resistance among some germs that make people sick but unfortunately we’re also seeing greater resistance in some pathogens, like certain types of Salmonella,” He said. “Infections with antibiotic-resistant germs are often more severe. These data will help doctors prescribe treatments that work and to help CDC and our public health partners identify and stop outbreaks caused by resistant germs faster and protect people’s health.”

The President’s budget for 2015 requests funding for CDC to improve early detection and tracking of multidrug resistant Salmonella and other urgent antibiotic resistance threats. The proposed initiative would increase CDC’s ability to test drug-resistant Salmonella. With a $30 million annual funding level over 5 years, CDC estimates that it could achieve a 25 percent reduction in multidrug resistant Salmonella infections, as well as significant reductions in other resistant infections.

What this all means is you need to be careful. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F. Remember to keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Store food in the refrigerator (40 °F or below) or freezer (0 °F or below). Always cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature.
Beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For raw ground ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal cook to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer. All poultry should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

In case of suspected foodborne illness use this general guidelines:
Preserve the evidence. If a portion of the suspect food is available, wrap it securely, mark “DANGER” and freeze it. Save all the packaging materials, such as cans or cartons. Write down the food type, the date, other identifying marks on the package, the time consumed, and when the onset of symptoms occurred. Save any identical unopened products.

Seek treatment as necessary. If the victim is in an “at risk” group, seek medical care immediately. Likewise, if symptoms persist or are severe (such as bloody diarrhea, excessive nausea and vomiting, or high temperature), call your doctor.

Call our office and we can assist you further. We are always here to help. Please call us, the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz at 626-796-6333. We are located at 1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, California 91106. We are here to assist you on your personal injury claims.

Medical Malpractice: Time Limitations

In California and is all states there exists strict time limits on when you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The time limits vary from state to state. So if you believe you have a medical malpractice claim whether in California or elsewhere it important to contact a local personal injury who handles medical negligence claims and he or she can tell you what the statute of limitations is.

A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Most lawsuits MUST be filed within a certain amount of time. In general, once the statute of limitations on a case “runs out,” the legal claim is not valid any longer. The tragedy is that if you have a valid claim but decide to pursue it after the time limit (statute of limitations) has run out, you are out of luck. I have at least one call a week in which that is the case, someone waited to long.

The lesson from all this is: do not keep your suspicions about medical negligence / medical malpractice a secret. If you suspect that you, or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence, find a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your concerns with. Most experienced medical malpractice attorneys will provide an initial free consultation either by telephone or in person. Often times he or she will be willing to look at some medical records or review a summary that you have prepared at no charge. Our office offers this service.

One of the most important things you will likely learn by consulting with a medical malpractice attorney is the type of the probable statue of limitations for your claim. For example, in California if a medical malpractice incident involves a private healthcare provider and the victim is an adult the California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5 provides “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.

For minors, not including birth related injuries, which is covered by a different statute, California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5 provides for such minors as follows: “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. ”
For claims involving medical malpractice claims involving California state public / governmental entities the following general guideline applies to medical negligence claim being made against a a public entity (including the state of California, a county, city or special district), including employees. A written claim must be filed. The current law required that the written claim be filed within six (6) months of the loss, even if the claimant is a minor. If the claim is not approved, a legal action must then be filed within a specified time.

You should know that many medical malpractice lawyers will not take on a new case when a claimant / injured party contacts them shortly before a statute of limitations is likely to run. There are exceptions but you must understand that an personal injury attorney / medical malpractice attorney needs enough time to properly consider and evaluate your claim. It can often take weeks or months to obtain medical records and then evaluate them.

So, do not be a victim twice, if you believe you or a loved one has been hurt because of medical negligence, seek legal counsel. 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 www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.

MC DONALD’S WAGES FOR THE FRIENDLY SKIES ?

As a personal injury attorney, I would like to share with you something that is a little disconcerting and raises questions about safety. Throughout the United States regional airline pilots earn less than cab drivers and some pilots  earn about the same as people working at fast food restaurants.

Today the regional airplane you get onto may have a pilot that earns roughly equivalent to fast-food wages and less than a cab driver.  According to the U.S. pilots union, starting pilot salaries at regional carriers in the United States average $22,400 a year, according to the largest U.S. pilots union. As of 2012, taxi drivers employed directly by taxi cab company have an average income of about $27,670 per year. Some smaller airline carriers pay as little as $15,000 a year, this is about what a full-time worker would earn annually at the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage. However, working at Mc Donald’s or Starbucks  does not take much special training .  However, becoming a commercial pilot takes time and money.  In 2010, Congress mandated that airlines’ first officers would need to hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and have at least 1,500 flight hours as opposed to the 250 hours and commercial pilot certificate previously required. This mandate was in response to the Continental Express regional flight crash of 2009. FAA investigators linked the Continental Express crash to inadequate pilots’ training.
Getting a commercial pilot license is not cheap and it now costs more than $100,000 for the necessary hours of training flights before getting a first job. Good if you are a passenger on a regional flight.

However, low salaries combined with expensive training costs put many new pilots deep in debt.  Not unlike those graduating college or graduate schools.  The result of low pay and expensive training, lack of pilots, especially for regional airlines. Exacerbating the situation, is the fact that the airline industry has a mandatory retirement age of 65, which has caused large airlines to replace their pilot ranks by hiring from the regional carriers.  Big airlines pay their pilot salaries that are much higher.

Next time you get onto a regional airline, consider that your pilot may be earning about the same as the guy or girl who handed you that hot cup of coffee at Mc Donald’s . . .  and less than the Yellow Cab driver who took you to the airport. . . Happy Flying

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