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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a California car accident case discussing the sudden emergency doctrine. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant driver was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because her actions that led to the collision were in response to a sudden emergency.

The Sudden Emergency Doctrine

Under California law, a motorist can be held liable for any injuries that are the natural result of their negligence. However, under the sudden emergency doctrine, a defendant’s actions may be excused if the defendant “acting with reasonable care, is suddenly and unexpectedly confronted by an emergency he did not cause.”

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was in a line of cars that were entering Highway 101. As the vehicles approached the end of the onramp, one of the cars entered the highway and sped past the rest of the line, making an obscene gesture to the motorist at the front of the line. Shortly after this, the car that had just passed the other cars slammed on the brakes, causing the other vehicles in the line to slow down.

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California personal injury case involving a plaintiff’s claim against a ski resort. While the opinion discussed several issues that are pertinent to California injury claims, most interesting was the court’s discussion of liability release waivers and the doctrine of assumption of the risk.

The Factual Scenario

Per the court’s holding, the plaintiff sustained a serious injury when she ran into a snowcat at the end of a day of snowboarding at a ski resort (the defendant). Evidently, the plaintiff ran into the back of the snowcat after it made an abrupt turn, cutting her off. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff was seriously injured. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the ski resort claiming that it was grossly negligent.

Apparently, the plaintiff was a season pass holder at the defendant ski resort. And before the plaintiff was issued her season pass, she signed a liability release waiver. The waiver indicated that the plaintiff understood that skiing and snowboarding were dangerous sports and that she released the resort from any liability “for any damage, injury or death . . . arising from participation in the sport or use of the facilities” regardless of the cause of the accident, including the “alleged negligence” of the resort. The agreement also provided a list of hazards that should be expected, including the possibility of “collisions with natural and man-made objects, including trees, rocks, fences, posts, lift towers, snowmaking equipment, snowmobiles and other over-snow vehicles.”

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This cases arises out of a product liability action. The plaintiffs allegedly suffered injuries after breast implants they received ruptured and leaked. Plaintiffs can recover damages from the manufacturers of defective products. As your experienced Southern California product liability attorney can tell you, California law allows recovery as long as the plaintiff proves four different elements. First, they must prove that the defendant manufactured the product. Second, plaintiffs must prove that the product was defective when it left the possession of the defendant. Third, plaintiffs must show that they used the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner. Finally, the plaintiff needs to prove that they suffered harm due to the defect.

Jurisdiction

While the underlying action is a product liability action, the case recently heard by the Federal District Court in the Central District of California was focused on a jurisdictional issue. The court here had to determine whether this case should be heard by the state court of the federal court. State courts have original jurisdiction over personal injury claims. However, these claims can be moved to federal court in certain instances.

When someone is injured due to the fault of another, there are a number of different kinds of damages that can be claimed in California. One kind of damages is “loss of consortium.” Rather than being brought by the injured person themselves, loss of consortium is a claim brought by their spouse. Loss of consortium is the loss of companionship, assistance, care, affection, moral support, and/or intimacy. Essentially, the spouse has been injured by the tortfeasor in that they do not have all of the services and companionship of their spouse due to the injuries they have suffered. Your knowledgeable California personal injury attorney can help you to determine whether you or your spouse may be able to recover damages for loss of consortium.

Loss of Consortium

In order to recover for loss of consortium, the spouse of the injured party needs to prove four things. First, the plaintiff must prove that their spouse was injured by the negligence or wrongful act of another person. Second, they must prove that they were lawfully married or were valid registered domestic partners at the time of the injury. Third, the plaintiff must prove that they have suffered from the loss of their partner’s consortium. Finally, they need to prove that the loss was caused by the defendant’s wrongdoing.

One kind of claim that a California personal injury attorney may take is a product liability claim. Product liability claims are based in the theory that a manufacturer of a product is responsible for the injuries that occurred while a plaintiff was using that product. Of course, manufacturers aren’t always responsible for injuries that happen while someone is using their product, but if a plaintiff can prove that some aspect of the product is unreasonably dangerous, then they may be able to recover damages.

Kinds of Defects

Plaintiffs can pursue damages under a few different theories, including manufacturing defect, design defect, or failure to warn. A manufacturing defect is when most of the products are fine, but something happened during the manufacturing process to make the specific product the plaintiff used defective and the defect resulted in injury. With a design defect, all of the products made with that design are defective because of the way the product is designed. Failure to warn means that there is a dangerous element to the product that is not obvious and the manufacturer did not warn consumers about the danger. Continue reading

California has two different kinds of schemes for personal injury claims, depending on where you were injured. If you are injured at work, you will usually need to bring your claim through the workers’ compensation system. However, if you are injured during your leisure time, and your injuries were caused by the negligence of someone else, you will often be able to hold the wrongdoer accountable through the civil legal system through a tort claim. Typically, plaintiffs prefer to bring their claims under tort law because there is the potential for much greater damages to be awarded. The problem is that plaintiffs cannot bring a tort claim when workers’ compensation has been designated the exclusive remedy for the harm suffered. The California Supreme Court recently heard a case that addressed whether a specific kind of personal injury claim can be brought under a tort claim or whether it has to be funneled through the workers’ compensation system. This may all sound complicated – and it is- but a knowledgeable Southern California personal injury attorney can help you understand the best way to move your injury claim forward.

California Workers’ Compensation System

The court here explained that the workers’ compensation system gives employees relatively certain benefit payments, but they give up many kinds of potentially available damages in exchange. Part of the benefits provided by the workers’ compensation system is payment of necessary medical costs related to the injury. To ensure that the recommended treatments are actually “necessary,” the California workers’ compensation system has set up an independent review process. The process works by an independent reviewer who is tasked with approving or disapproving requests for treatment by program participants.

This wrongful death action was brought on behalf of a man who died from cardiac arrest after completing a half marathon. He was given CPR by another racer and a bystander, but by the time the automatic external defibrillator was brought to him his heart had no shockable rhythm. The man’s family brought suit against the organizations and individuals who oversaw and put on the race. They alleged that those responsible for the race were negligent, especially regarding the availability of emergency medical services. When loved ones die due to the negligence of others, families – generally with the assistance of knowledgeable California personal injury attorneys – may be able to hold the wrongdoers accountable.

Assumption of the Risk

Generally, when someone engages in a dangerous sport or activity, they are considered to be assuming certain risks based on their choice to engage in the behavior. Frequently, in order to participate in the activity you will need to sign a waiver stating that you understand the risks and will not hold the organizers liable for any injuries that occur. However, even when a waiver is signed, those responsible for the event can still be held liable if they were grossly negligent.

A motion for summary judgment is granted when the judge believes that there are no issues of material fact between the parties and one of the parties is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In other words, summary judgment motions are granted when even if the facts are looked at in the light most favorable to the other party, it is still clear that one party should prevail. In this case, summary judgment was granted to the yoga studio because the plaintiff did not meet her burden of showing that there was actual a triable issue here. The laws around personal injury can be complicated, which is why it is important to contact a knowledgeable California personal injury attorney if you are injured. They can help you to understand whether you have a case or not.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was at a yoga class at the defendant’s yoga studio. During the class, the instructor used a yoga belt to help position her right leg over her left, pushed down on the plaintiff’s lower back, and twisted her neck. While she claimed that these adjustments caused her pain, she did not inform the yoga instructor of any issues or ask him to stop.

California tort law allows employers to be held responsible for the tortious conduct of their employees under certain circumstances. One of the theories under which liability can fall on the employer is when they negligently hire someone that they should have known posed a danger. This also extends to negligent supervision when the employer should have known that the employee needed more supervision than their employer gave them. The California Supreme Court recently addressed some of these issues in a case that centered around whether an employer’s insurance company had to pay claims that arose from these causes of action. If you have been injured by someone else, you may be able to hold their employer responsible for your injuries. A knowledgeable Southern California personal injury attorney can help you to hold all the responsible parties accountable.

 Tortious Conduct

A Southern California school district hired contractors to oversee a building project. One of the contractor’s employees allegedly sexually abused one of the students at the school. Her representatives sued several parties, including the contractors. They alleged that the contractors should be held liable for negligently hiring and supervising the employee who assaulted the student. The contractors reached out to their insurers to defend them against the claims, but the insurance company argued that their policy did not cover this incident.

There are many chemicals that can cause birth defects in pregnant women who are exposed to them. Generally, the statute of limitations for toxic exposure cases is only two years. That means that if you try to bring a toxic exposure claim after the two years have elapsed, the claims will likely be time barred. However, with cases of in utero toxic exposure, it may take much longer than two years to fully understand the nature and causes of the injuries. Thatis why prenatal injuries have a six year statute of limitations.

Seemingly in conflict with the two- and six-year statute of limitations, the statute of limitations for toxic exposure cases is generally tolled while the injured party is a minor. A case heard by the California Supreme Court centers around whether the six years apply to in utero toxic exposure or whether a potential plaintiff has until they are 19 or 20 (18 plus the two years, give or take a bit due to when the exposure occurs) to bring the claim.

If you suspect that you have been injured by toxic exposure, whether in utero or as an adult, you should contact a knowledgeable Southern California personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Time is of the essence to make sure you get your claim filed within the time limits.

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