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SEVERE LEG INJURY RESULTING IN AMPUTATION

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A client that I have known since 1982 contacted me after he was ejected from his wheelchair due to a dangerous condition on a private driveway.  There were large cracks both horizontally and vertically across sections of that driveway that were lifted, creating height variations.

As my client wheeled himself up the driveway, the front wheels of his wheelchair stopped dead in their tracks when they hit a significantly raised portion of the cracked driveway.  The abrupt stop in the forward momentum of his wheelchair’s front wheels caused the rear wheels to pitch up and forward.  The client was launched forward out of his chair and fell violently to the concrete driveway.

As a result of this terrible accident, our client sustained tibia/fibula fractures of his left leg.  After several weeks, skin ulcers developed at the fracture site.  Infection at that point was the greatest concern as it could have been life threatening.

Ultimately, the doctors recommended a left leg amputation at the level of the knee.  The client agreed and the amputation was successfully completed.

The law of premise liability is quite clear.  California’s basic rule of premise liability is codified in Civil Code Section 1714 which states in relevant part:

(a) Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person…(emphasis added)

The specific elements plaintiff need prove are codified in CACI (California Civil Jury Instruction) 1000.  We are instructed that to prevail on a premises liability cause of action, a plaintiff must prove: 1) that defendant owned/leased/occupied/controlled the property, 2) that defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property, 3) that plaintiff was harmed, and 4) that defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s harm.

CACI 1003 defines how a landowner is “negligent in the use or maintenance of the property”.  First, there must be a condition on the property that created an unreasonable risk or harm (aka – a dangerous condition).  The defendant must have known, or through the exercise of reasonable care should have known, about the condition.  And lastly, if the defendant then fails to repair the condition, protect against harm from the condition, or give adequate warning of the condition, he is considered negligent.  CACI 1003.

Lack of actual knowledge of the dangerous condition is no defense if there was an opportunity to inspect and the inspection would have revealed the dangerous condition.  Florez v. Groom Development Co. (1959) 53 Cal.2d 347.  Thus, a landowner has an affirmative, non-delegable duty to exercise care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition, AND must inspect the premises or take other proper means to ascertain their condition.  Swanberg v. O’Mectin (1984) 157 Cal.App.3d 325, Brown v. George Pepperdine Foundation (1943) 23 Cal.2d 256.  This duty of care includes appropriate warnings for latent or concealed defects of which the property owner knew or should have known in the exercise of reasonable care.  Laird v. T.W. Mather, Inc. (1958) 51 Cal.2d 210.

In this case, we had a significant defect in the driveway which created an unreasonable risk of harm to both wheelchair users and pedestrians alike.  This defect constituted a dangerous condition and an unreasonable risk of harm to my client.

As a result of this incident, my client suffered extreme pain, emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of his independence.  Recognizing the severity of the injuries and the exposure of a potential verdict in excess of the policy limit, the property  owner’s insurance carrier tendered or offered the full liability limit of $2,000,000.

JURY VERDICTS

Southern California juries also agree that leg amputations are very serious injuries that require extensive future medical care and heightened medical monitoring and/or care facilities that can provide the specialized care that amputees require.  These injuries also pose significant risks to overall well-being due to lack of mobility and extensive time in bed.

In September 2013, a Los Angeles jury returned a verdict in favor of an 84 year old plaintiff who suffered a leg amputation after being hit by a bus in the amount of $17,120,662.00.  The defendant’s employee, a bus driver, struck plaintiff while crossing the street in a crosswalk.  The only injury was to the right leg, and resulted in a below the knee amputation.  Huayanca v. Southland Transit Inc.

In July 2016, a San Bernardino jury awarded a 53 year old man $46,000,000.00.  Plaintiff suffered catastrophic injuries to his lower left leg when, as a pedestrian, he was struck by a passing vehicle. The vehicle operator was in the scope and course of his employment with Nissan.  Plaintiff required an above the knee amputation.  Faustino Soloria v. Nissan of Fontana

In July 2017, a Riverside jury awarded a 59 year old male $16,948,377.00 as a result of suffering serious leg injuries when he was run over by a fork lift being operated by a PennySaver employee.  The plaintiff required a below the knee amputation.  Meier v. PennySaver USA, LLC.

If interested in more jury verdicts for leg amputations, see also, McCoy v. California Department of Transportation (2016) – $22,588,041.00; Alan Casillas v. Landstar Ranger, Inc. (2014) – $34,500,000.00.

If you or a loved one has suffered an amputation of an arm or a leg as a result of the negligence of another, the impact on one’s life is tremendous and far reaching.  These types of cases require special experts, such as medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, life care planners, biomechanical and biomedical engineers and others to properly assess the best medical course of treatment and what your case is worth.

The Law Offices of Bruce S.  Meth has been handling all kinds of injury and accident cases for over 37 years in San Diego County.  Our primary office is located in Chula Vista but we also have a San Diego office in Mission Valley.

Call (619) 691-8942 for a free consultation with Attorney Bruce Meth or Attorney Jared Leuck.

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Signs of a Concussion in a Toddler

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Infants and toddlers love to explore the unknown which puts them more at risk of getting hurt and suffering a serious injury. The reality is, these small children are still grasping the concept of safety and often cannot distinguish between what is safe and what is not. It is for this reason that parents and caregivers must ensure they are only exposing children to hazard-free environments and are monitoring them to prevent any type of accident from happening.

Despite how careful a parent might be, the truth is, not all accidents can be prevented. Car crashes are happening all around us on account of driver error and children aren’t always being supervised as they should by school staff or the caregivers they are left with during the day. Sadly, many children suffer head injuries in auto crashes and while under the care of a daycare or VPK center employee.

When a small child such as an infant or toddler hits their head, it can be difficult for a parent to decipher whether the injury is mild or severe.

If your child was involved in an accident while at daycare or VPK or they were involved in a car collision and you think they may have suffered a concussion, it is best you have them checked out by a qualified medical professional who can determine if they suffered a head injury and how serious it is. To give you an idea of what a concussion might look like, here are a few signs and symptoms that are often displayed by a small child who has suffered a head injury.

  • The child complains of a headache or rubs his/her head.
  • They are nauseous or vomiting.
  • They aren’t able to walk steadily, they lose their balance easily, or are experiencing poor coordination.
  • They have lost the ability to carry out newly learned skills such as using the bathroom (i.e. toilet training).
  • They are cranky, irritable, and/or are difficult to console.
  • They tire out easily or are restless.
  • They are having difficulty seeing.
  • They are sensitive to light and/or noise.
  • You notice changes in their eating or sleeping patterns.

[Source: CanChild, a research center of McMaster University].

Important: CanChild research center says that “one of the most obvious symptoms of a concussion in infants and toddlers is a loss of balance, especially if [it is coupled with] nausea or vomiting.”

CanChild research center also explains that if any of the following symptoms listed down below develop, you should take your child to the nearest emergency room so a medical professional can evaluate them and render any care they might need.

  • They have large bumps, bruises, or unexplained swelling on their head.
  • Increased drowsiness or cannot be awakened.
  • Headaches that worsen or neck pain. If you have an infant, they might rub their head or neck continuously.
  • Persistent vomiting.
  • Blood or fluid in their ear.
  • Their pupils are unequal.
  • They are having seizures.

Important: While these symptoms are most often associated with a concussion, they are not meant to serve as medical advice or assist you with diagnosing your child. Only a licensed physician is qualified to provide you with a diagnosis for your child and you should seek medical attention if you suspect your child has suffered any type of head injury.

How to prevent a small child from suffering a concussion

If your child suffered a concussion, it is important that you take all precautionary measures to ensure they don’t bump their head again. “A second concussion while the brain is healing can be very dangerous” as “there is a risk of brain damage, and in rare cases, death.” Some of the things you can do to help prevent another injury include:

Do not let your child:

  • Play on riding toys, scooters, or bicycles. Children such as toddlers and infants still struggle with balance and these types of toys put them more at risk of losing their balance and falling.
  • Participate in games that use balls (i.e. kickball, soccer, etc.).
  • Run, wrestle, or climb.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Only allow your child to play where it is safe for them and where they can be adequately supervised by an adult.
  • Never leave your child unattended on a high surface.
  • Always use an approved infant/toddler car seat that is appropriate for their size and weight.
  • Toddlers should only participate in age-appropriate sport activities.

    Ensure your home is safe. You can do this by:

  • Keeping the floors free from clutter.
  • Blocking off stairways.
  • Using safety products such as a safety gate that help prevent a child from entering a potentially dangerous area.

[Source: CanChild].

If your child suffered a concussion after engaging in a car accident in Chula Vista, CA or fell as a result of being unsupervised at daycare or school, contact The Law Offices of Bruce S. Meth to speak with a Chula Vista, CA personal injury lawyer in your area. You may be entitled to recover compensation on your child’s behalf that can help you afford medical costs, medical equipment, therapy, and more.

You can reach The Law Offices of Bruce S. Meth at:

Phone: (619) 691-8942

Email: attorneymeth@gmail.com

 

Chula Vista Office

815 Third Ave., Ste. 115

Chula Vista, CA 91911

Website: www.attorneymeth.com

 

Mission Valley Office

1761 Hotel Court, Suite 250

San Diego, CA 92108

 

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Over 9,000 Cases of Elder Abuse are Reported in San Diego County Annually

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What would you do if you found out the nursing home your family member was living in was providing him/her with substandard care or abusing them? Would you know how to react to the news?

The sad reality is that many families are being presented with such news more frequently than we would like. According to the National Council on Aging, it is estimated that one in 10 Americans aged 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse. In fact, as many as five million elders are abused each year in the U.S. A few months back, San Diego 7 News reported that in San Diego County alone, more than 9,000 cases of elder abuse are reported annually.

While some of these individuals are still living at home, many are residing in an assisted-living facility such as a nursing home.

When you have a close friend or relative living in a nursing home who is dependent upon the staff to care for them, it is important to recognize the signs of elder abuse so that you can report it and the appropriate form of action can be taken to address the problem. Unfortunately, not all signs of abuse and neglect are obvious which can make it even more difficult for family members to identify when their loved one isn’t being treated properly. It is for this reason that families are encouraged to utilize all the resources that are available to them that can help identify a home that might not be a safe place for their loved one to live in.

For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has an online tool that can be used to identify facilities in a specific zip code or city that have had one or more cases of abuse or neglect occur there. In fact, the CMS flagged a few nursing homes near the San Diego area for abuse and neglect and recognized others for their below average rating.

All of the facilities that were flagged also had poor ratings on the Nursing Home Compare system. This system uses information and data to rate nursing homes located all across the U.S. Some of the things that are rated independently and affect a facility’s overall rating include health inspections, quality measures, and staffing levels.

Tip: If you are thinking of relocating a family member to a nursing home in San Diego or a neighboring city, visit the CMS website to learn more about the facilities in these areas and find out if they have been flagged for abuse or neglect. Although a facility that has been flagged doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one is going to be mistreated, these are usually the homes where incidents are more likely to occur.

What legal recourse can I take after finding out my relative is the victim of nursing home abuse?

When a family moves their aging relative into a nursing home in San Diego, CA, the last thing they expect is for harm to be inflicted upon them. But with homes becoming more and more understaffed and some hiring workers who are not qualified to care for aging individuals, the chances of a resident being abused increases. If your relative lives in San Diego and you believe he/she is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, the first thing you should do is contact a San Diego, CA nursing home abuse attorney.

The truth is, many individuals are uncertain as to how they should handle a situation involving their loved one who has been mistreated by a nursing home worker. While some assume that filing a complaint with the facility administration is going to resolve the problem, there is actually much more that can be done to ensure justice is served and those who inflicted the harm are punished. Each state has specific criminal and civil laws that can be utilized to bring abusers to justice.

For example, if your loved one suffered an injury as a result of being physically abused or neglected, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the home in an effort to collect damages. Some of the damages you may be able to recover for your loved one include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses
  • Mental anguish

Therefore, if you think your loved one was physically or emotionally harmed by a nursing home employee in San Diego, CA, The Law Offices of Bruce S. Meth is here to help you understand what your legal rights are as a relative.

You can reach The Law Offices of Bruce S. Meth at:

Phone: (619) 691-8942

Email: attorneymeth@gmail.com

Mission Valley Office

1761 Hotel Court, Suite 250

San Diego, CA 92108

Website: www.attorneymeth.com

Scripps Ranch Office

11704 Petenwell Road

San Diego, CA 92131

Chula Vista Office

815 Third Ave., Ste. 115

Chula Vista, CA 91911

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Teen Driver Killed in San Diego After Crashing Vehicle with 5 Teen Passengers Inside

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Tragedy stuck on the evening of January 7, 2020, when a vehicle full of teens was involved in a single-vehicle accident in San Diego. The Mercury News shared details regarding the crash that left one teen dead and five others injured. The source said that the vehicle hit a guardrail while heading west on Highway 905 just east of Interstate 5 when it crashed.

The vehicle being driven was a Chrysler 300, which only seats five, including the driver, but was occupied by six individuals between the ages of 15 to 19. The driver was ejected as a result of the impact and was declared dead at the scene. Two of the teens had to be extricated after they became trapped inside the vehicle and were transported to an area hospital with the remaining three to receive treatment for the injuries they suffered.

Although the age of the driver was not released, the source went on to highlight something very important that all teen drivers and their parents should be aware of. In the state of California, drivers who are under the age of 18 who receive their license are required to drive with an adult aged 25 or older in the vehicle with them during their first year of driving. Driving can be extremely dangerous for a teen driver to do, especially when they fail to abide by the law and get in the practice they need to operate a vehicle safely.

What are Some Common Factors that Contribute to Teen Car Crashes?

Although the news source failed to disclose the reason for why the accident transpired, there are a number of potential reasons. You see, teen drivers between the ages of 16-19 are already at a higher risk of engaging in a motor vehicle accident more than any other age group, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017, 2,364 teens between these ages were killed in a collision and an estimated 300,000 received treatment in an emergency room for the injuries they suffered in a crash.

While inexperience is one of the more obvious reasons why teenagers are engaging in accidents more often than anyone else, there are some other common factors that have been known to contribute to the high rate of teen accidents as well. These include:

  • The CDC cites that teen drivers are much more likely to speed than older drivers. While this is a serious problem in and of itself, teens are also known to only leave a short distance between them and the vehicle traveling in front of them. Not only does this make it more difficult for a driver to stop in time when traffic begins to slow, but when they speed, they significantly increase their chances of rear-ending a vehicle.
  • Alcohol use. Although it is illegal for a teen to drink, and do so while driving, many still do it. In 2017, 15% of drivers between the ages of 16-20 who were involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher. It is illegal for any driver age 21 and older to operate a vehicle with a BAC level of 0.08%, except for Utah where lawmakers recently lowered the BAC level to 0.05%.
  • Driving during the nighttime hours and on the weekends. Driving during the nighttime hours and on the weekends is especially dangerous for teen drivers to do. In 2017, “40% of motor vehicle crash deaths among teen drivers and passengers aged 13-19 occurred between 9 pm and 6 am, and 51% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.”

When is a teen between the ages of 16-19 more at risk of engaging in a crash?

The CDC says that teens who are more likely to engage in a crash include:

  1. The “motor vehicle death rate for male drivers aged 16-19 was over two times higher than the death rate for female drivers of the same age” in 2017.
  2. Teens driving with teen passengers. When teens drive with one or more teen passengers with them, their risk for an accident increases significantly. And the more passengers a teen travels with, the more the risk goes up.
  3. Newly licensed teens. During the first few months a teen receives their license, their probability of engaging in a crash is particularly higher, says the CDC. These drivers are not only new to the road, but they are also still in the process of learning how to physically operate their vehicle and react to other drivers’ behavior.

Was your teen recently involved in an accident while riding as a passenger in another vehicle?

If your teen suffered injuries in an accident in San Diego, CA and you are looking for ways to recover the compensation he/she needs to cover the various costs associated with the medical treatment they need, contact San Diego, CA car accident attorney Bruce S. Meth. If your teen is under the age of 18, you may be able to bring a claim against the driver in an effort to recover the money you and your family need to make up for your losses.

 

You can reach The Law Offices of Bruce S. Meth at:

Phone: (619) 691-8942

Email: attorneymeth@gmail.com

Mission Valley Office

1761 Hotel Court, Suite 250

San Diego, CA 92108

Website: www.attorneymeth.com

Scripps Ranch Office

11704 Petenwell Road

San Diego, CA 92131

Chula Vista Office

815 Third Ave., Ste. 115

Chula Vista, CA 91911

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Motorized Scooter Accidents

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Take a look around. Motorized scooters are showing up all over San Diego County. Unfortunately, Scooter drivers have been involved in many serious accidents in San Diego. Why is this?

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Was Your Car Totaled in an Accident?

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SAN DIEGO, California. If you have been in a serious accident, you will likely be dealing with insurance adjusters regarding damages to your vehicle and regarding seeking damages for your personal injury. If your car was seriously damaged in an accident, there is a chance that insurance adjusters will declare your vehicle a total loss. What does it mean when your insurance company declares your vehicle “totaled” and what are your rights?

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