We all want our kids to be safe from harm. This applies to the home where they live, areas where they play, and most assuredly at school where they learn. It feels like an especially large breach of trust when we think that they may have been the victim of an increasingly alarming problem at many schools across the nation: sexual misconduct/assault.

This at times might feel like fear mongering, taking something extremely rare and using it to capture public attention, but unfortunately in recent years the problem has been identified at more and more schools.  Most teachers and school administrators are upstanding people who dedicate their lives to helping children learn and grow and ardently look out for them when they are in their care. However bad actors among them, along with fellow students, are frequently in positions where they can violate the trust given to them by unsuspecting parents.

K-12 programs are not required to track or report cases of sexual assault to the federal government, so finding nationwide numbers can be difficult. Luckily, in California K-12 schools are required to report sexual assault and battery incidents, and recent statewide reporting (from the associated press survey of state education departments) shows that over the last 4 years almost 5,000 such incidents were reported!

The largest vehicle recall ever continues to grow over a year after it first started. Takata is an airbag manufacturer who produces airbags for most of the major car companies. Numerous deaths all across the United States have been blamed for these airbags deploying incorrectly and causing serious injury. To-date, vehicles from around 20 different automakers have been recalled because of defective airbags on the passenger side, driver side or both.

The airbags have a defective inflator that sometimes explodes with enough force to send sharp pieces of metal from the airbag into the car leading to catastrophic or fatal injuries. The National Health and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated and found that the problem is the result of ammonium nitrate without a drying agent. When this particular chemical deteriorates, especially in hot climates like here in Los Angeles, the airbags would explode with too much force, turning them from life-saving devices into essentially grenades.

The NHTSA has put out a tool that lets you look and see if your vehicle has been affected. It can be found at: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls. NHTSA also recommends that you use the VIN Look-up Tool at least twice a year to see if your vehicle is under any safety recall. Please note that vehicles that have not yet been recalled, but are scheduled to be recalled in the future under NHTSA’s Consent Order with Takata, will not be searchable until they are actually recalled – and it recommends checking for recalls twice each year in order to be sure.

Early last year, you might remember the case of Jesse Hernandez. Jesse was a 13 year old boy who was playing here in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park (between the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood) during a family Easter celebration, when his family suddenly noticed him missing. They searched all over the park calling his name without success. Eventually they realized that he may have fallen into a drainage pipe after a wooden plank he had been standing on gave way and he fell approximately 25 feet into the sewage line. A massive multi-agency search commenced on ground and in the air. Search and rescue specialists ended up dropping video cameras into the sewage lines and were able to detect hands marks on the walls of the underground pipeline which allowed them to narrow down the area he might be. For over 12 hours Jesse wandered the sewage system yelling for help and trying to find his way out.

The fire department, assisted by the LAPD, the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks, Park Rangers, the Department of Water and Power and the Department of Sanitation, eventually were able to locate him, gain entrance to the tunnel, pull him out of the tunnel, and get him proper medical care to treat his injuries from both the fall and from exposure to raw sewage and chemicals while underground.  All of this occurred because the city had simply covered up an exposed drainage pipe with some wooden boards at a poorly cordoned-off sanitation facility.

Public parks can also include sports facilities like tennis and basketball courts, public pools, city benches, volleyball areas by the beach, etc. The thing that they all share is that they are owned and operated by the city and as such, it’s the city’s responsibility to make sure that they are maintained in a state that is safe for anyone using those facilities.

Here in Los Angeles it is already starting to turn into summer, and (like most of the year) the weather makes it more tempting than ever to ride your motorcycle. In addition to them using less gas than cars, you can often navigate traffic more quickly and have an easier time finding parking. However, riding a motorcycle in California is not without its dangers.

New statistics from the California Department of Transportation show that if you are injured while riding a motorcycle –there’s a greater than 25% chance it was a rear-end collision while the motorcyclist was stuck in traffic. This runs counter to the typical perception of riding a motorcycle as being a hazardous activity because of road conditions (like gravel on the road, or black ice) or of dangerous maneuvers like merging or splitting lanes. Instead, what it means is that even if you exercise due diligence riding a bike, make sure it’s running well, are aware of your surroundings, don’t speed, and stay attentive to drivers around you, you are still at a great risk of being hit by a driver directly behind you while waiting in traffic. In many ways this is worse than any of those other factors, as it is something completely out of your control.

The only thing within your control in a situation like that, is to make sure to contact an attorney right away who is skilled in personal injury law and can hold that other driver responsible.  In addition to shedding light on the necessity of utilizing a good attorney should these type of accidents occur, it also has re-engergized the controversy around lane-splitting.

When we see a character slip and fall down in a movie or on TV, it can just as easily be for comedic effect as it can be for demonstrating any danger. However, in the real world slip and falls are anything but a laughing matter. In the real world, keeping a property free of the types of dangers that can result in a slip and fall (or other type of accident) is not just a good idea but a legal responsibility that is too often not taken seriously.

When someone slips and falls down in a supermarket because of a spill, or tumbles down poorly designed stairs, the accidents are called “premises liability cases” and can entitle the victim to serious compensation for the injuries they received. It’s for this reason that it is extremely important to have a skilled attorney on your side if you are ever hurt on someone else’s property, in order to make sure that the owner(s) is held to the exacting standards of the law in how safe they need to make their property.

Premises liability cases can be very complicated and cover a huge variety of accident types. Dog bites, insufficient security, and pool accidents are just some examples of the wide variety of incidents that fall under the same umbrella of the law. Beyond just the type of accident, the type of property makes a difference. Premises liability cases can happen on public property (like a city park), private property (like a person’s home), or even a workplace. In addition, the relationship of the injured party to the property makes a difference in establishing the owner’s liability. A person who was invited onto the property or who is contracted to work there is more protected under the law than someone who is there without permission, but it’s important to note that even if you are on someone else’s property without their permission, you still have protections under the law if you are injured.

Under California law, the death of a fetus isn’t the same as a fully developed person dying. As such, rather than it being a case of wrongful death (like it would have been had the person been born) it is instead a case of emotional distress -compensating you for all the hurt and loss that was described above. Because of this distinction, these cases can be much more difficult to litigate and so require a skilled attorney to look at all the facts and hold the right people accountable.

In order to prove the case, it is extremely important that you seek out a medical professional and have that person diagnose your suffering as being adequately severe and connected directly to the miscarriage and causally to the accident which likely precipitated it. This is what creates “causation” in the eyes of the court – a legal requirement for getting financial relief- through showing that “more likely than not” the accident caused the miscarriage and had the accident not happened the pregnancy would have resulted in a birth, and the emotional distress you endured would have been prevented. This means that the closer you were to a live birth, the easier it will be for the court to make this determination. For this reason, first trimester miscarriages are more difficult to litigate than pregnancies that are further. The closer you are to giving birth, the easier it is for your attorney to show that in your case the miscarriage was “proximately caused” by the accident (meaning it was a direct result of the accident) and otherwise would not have happened.

This can get tricky, as some doctors don’t want to get involved in this type of legal cases or are unable to give good testimony that will actually help. In situations like this, it is more important than ever to have an attorney who has relationships with skilled doctors who know not only how much someone suffers when they lose a child like this, but can draw accurate connections between that pain and the person(s) who cause an accident resulting in a miscarriage like the one you suffered.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) reports that summer is the most dangerous time of year in terms of drowning incidents, with an average of over 150 accidents each year during the hot months. Drowning happens extremely quickly and often occur before anyone is even aware someone has fallen in. Because of this, the USCPSC has advised the following measures be taken in order to reduce the chance of someone drowning in a pool:

-Having a float, reaching poll, life ring, or other lifesaving equipment by any body of water on someone’s property.

-Using a lockable cover on a spa to prevent children from getting in.

One of the things California is famous for is wine tasting. People flock to the state from all over the world looking to sample from some of the best vineyards. Unfortunately, they bring with them an increased risk of car accidents.

Many of the people visiting these wine destinations are driving from vineyard to vineyard and imbibing alcohol along the way. This compounded with the fact that out-of-towners are unfamiliar with the local roads means the chance of one hitting and injuring you or someone you know increases dramatically.

When you or someone you know is hit by a person who you suspect may have been sampling wines (or any other alcohol for that matter), the question of who is responsible for your injuries can get messy.

These days, driving in California is more dangerous than ever. The number of accidents has grown steadily, and with it the number of back injuries attributed to those car accidents. When you or someone you know is the victim of a car accident some injuries are visible right away, but the majority of injuries from car accidents are internal and difficult to spot.

Even more challenging is the fact that sometimes you feel fine right after the accident, maybe even after the initial shock of the accident wears off, and only days later do you start to realize the true scope of the injuries you’ve received. Back injuries in particular have been shown to often take days (or longer) to develop after a car accident without having any outside signs of the real damage your body has sustained.

A headache could often indicate soft tissue injury to the back or neck, and what you may think is whiplash can very frequently be instead a pinched nerve or herniated disc. Even low speed crashes that don’t seem particularly bad can result in numbness or some tingling in your limbs or fingers/toes and these have been shown to be linked to spinal cord injuries and damage to your lumbar region (your lower back).

The skilled attorneys at Slatter Law Firm will be able to give you an answer, and it might be YES.

Homeowner’s insurance policies typically provide coverage for dog bites their owners’ pets inflict on others. This means even if the owner of a dog  who bites you doesn’t have much money, you might be able to recover money for your injuries from the insurance company instead. This is because the policies often have a section called “personal liability protection”.

“Personal liability protection is a type of insurance coverage that not only protects the owner of the home, but also anyone living with them. This means not just the owners of the house/apartment but also renters, their spouses, roommates, etc. against claims for negligence (which means against dog bites like the one you suffered from). So if anyone living in the home/apartment has a dog and lets that dog off a leash or lets them run outside and that dog bites someone, the insurance company will cover the costs of any injuries received by a person that dog bites.

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