BEWARE OF DOG LIABIILTY

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Dog Law ExpertsI often run on the Oso Creek trail in Mission Viejo. While running, I’ve encountered countless friendly, well behaved off-leash dogs. Thus far, I have been fortunate to not come across any unfriendly dogs on my runs; however, I have heard plenty of stories from clients who have been the victims of unprovoked dog attacks. Just last week, my mother-in-law, a total dog lover, fell victim to an unexpected, unprovoked dog attack in the streets of Manhattan Beach.

If dog owners are going to trust their dogs enough to let the dogs off leash, then they must do so with caution. California is tough on dog owners for dog related injuries. California Civil Code Sec. 3342, commonly known as the Dog Bite Statute, holds dog owners responsible for any dog bite, no matter how carefully they guard or restrain their dog. The law makes the owner strictly liable for the harm caused, even if the owner had no prior reason to suspect that the dog would bite or attack another person.

The Dog Bite Statute covers a broader range of injuries. For example, a dog can trip a child or an elderly person, knock over a bicyclist, or run into the street and cause a car crash. Under such circumstances a dog owner may be found liable for injuries caused by their dog.

Can a dog owner be liable if the dog did not draw blood?

Yes. It is not necessary for a bite/attack to draw blood. Furthermore, the dog owner could be subject to claims for emotional distress and anxiety.

Can a dog owner be liable for biting the veterinarian?

Probably not. A veterinarian or a veterinary assistant who accepts employment for the medical treatment of a dog, aware of the risk that any dog, regardless of its previous nature, might bite while being treated, has assumed this risk as part of his or her occupation. If the dog owner is aware of the dog’s propensity to bite, it would probably be a good idea to let the vet know.

Can a dog owner be liable if the dog was protecting its own home?

Yes. The Dog Bite Law protects people that are lawfully upon the private property of the owner. This includes, the mailman, the gardener, the pool boy, girl scouts selling cookies, or other solicitors that might knock on your door. So, unless the dog is attacking a burglar in the middle of the night, the owner will likely be responsible for the injuries caused.

Will homeowner’s insurance cover dog bites?

Maybe. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites and attacks account for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out. Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability legal expenses, up to the liability limits (typically $100,000 to $300,000). If the claim exceeds the limit, the dog owner is responsible for all damages above that amount. Some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own certain breeds of dogs categorized as dangerous, such as pit bulls. Others decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether an individual dog, regardless of its breed has been deemed vicious. Therefore, if you own a dog, it is important to contact your insurance company to make sure they are on notice of the dog and confirm they will cover dog related injury claims.

For more information regarding dog attacks, contact Gokal Law at 949-753-9100.

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New California Law Makes Electrically Motorized Boards (aka Hoverboards) Street Legal

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Smart Gear Hooverboard

Courtesy Of http://www.smartgeartoys.com/

Self-balancing motorized boards have many names: hoverboards, swagways, self-balancing scooters, and personal transporters. The good news for hoverboard riders is that they will now be street legal in California. Drivers should be cautious of hoverboard riders and recognize that they have rights and responsibilities on the roadways.

Southern California hoverboard riders and automobile drivers must be aware of new California law set to go into effect beginning January 1, 2016.

Here are some of the highlights of the law:

1)      Hoverboard riders must be at least 16 years or older to ride on public highways/roadways.

2)      Riders can only ride on public highways/roadways designated at 35 mph or less unless it the roadway has a Class II or Class IV bike lane. Sorry, still not allowed to ride on the 405 freeway during rush hour, even though it may be faster than sitting in traffic.

3)      Riders cannot operate their hoverboards on a highway, bikeway, or any other public bicycle path, sidewalk, or trail, at speeds over 15 mph.

4)      Department of Transportation and other local authorities restrict usage. Don’t be surprised if some of your favorite beach communities like San Clemente, Dana Point, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Manhattan Beach, pass regulations to restrict hoverboards on their streets.

5)      Helmets will be required when riding in the streets. This should be a no brainer, pun intended.

6)      If you are planning on riding on the streets at night you will need to be equipped with a lamp with a white headlights that can be seen from 300 feet in front of the hoverboard, a red reflector visible from 500 feet away when directly in front of a legal headlamp of a car, and yellow side reflectors.  If your Hoverboard not equipped with the proper safety equipment, the rider can also wear the headlamp, rear and side reflectors to be street legal.

7)      Operating a hoverboard on the streets while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any drugs is expressly illegal. Don’t Drink and Hover.

8)     The UC and Cal State Schools can restrict hoverboard usage on campus.

9)      Hoverboards are not expressly banned from sidewalks, bikeways, bicycle paths or trail, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trails. However, it does not mean that riding in these areas will be allowed. You will have to check with the local laws of your town or city.

You might be wondering if you can ride your hoverboard in outdoor public places such as the Irvine Spectrum Mall? Expect that most privately owned public spaces will likely ban the use of hoverboards on their property. Having riders zipping around pedestrians can not only be an annoyance, but also can pose a serious risk of safety to others, especially in crowded areas. Mall owners will likely not want to risk being liable allowing an reasonably dangerous condition to exist for other shoppers.

If you have any questions regarding the information provided in this article, please don’t hesitate to call Gokal Law at 949-753-9100.  Safe Riding!

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BICYCLISTS MUST KNOW AND OBEY THE LAW TO AVOID BEING BLAMED FOR CAUSING AN ACCIDENT

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Bicycle lawsBoth drivers and bicyclist have a responsibility use the roadways in a responsible and safe manner according to the laws. A bicycle rider is required to exercise ordinary care at all times to avoid collisions with vehicles. Furthermore, California Vehicle Code Section (“CVC”) 21200 gives bicyclists the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers. For example, a bicyclist is required to give the same turn signals required of automobile drivers.

Failure to follow the law and safety standards could seriously limit an injured bicyclist’s ability to recover in a lawsuit for damages.

Before you hit the road, it is important to know the law.

KNOW WHERE TO RIDE – RULES OF THE ROAD

  • Bicyclists can ride wherever they want as long as they’re traveling at the speed of traffic.
  • If the bicyclist is traveling slower than the speed of traffic, they can still position themselves wherever in the lane is necessary for safety. People who ride bikes must ride as close to the right side of the road as safely practicable except under the following conditions: when passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, if the lane is too narrow to share, or if approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. CVC 21202
  • Bike Lanes – On a roadway with a bike lane, bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use the bike lane except when making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazardous conditions, or approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. CV 21208
  • Direction of travel: Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. CVC 21650
  • Motorized bicycles: Motorized bicycles may not be used on trails, bike paths or lanes unless allowed by local authorities. CVC 21207.5
  • Sidewalks: Individual cities and counties control whether bicyclists may ride on sidewalks. CVC 21206
  • Bicycles (including motorized bicycles) may not be ridden on freeways and expressways where doing so is prohibited by the California Department of Transportation and local authorities. CVC 21960
  • Toll bridges: Bicyclists may not cross a toll bridge unless permitted to do so by the California Department of Transportation. CVC 23330

Bicycle lanes: On a roadway with a bike lane, bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use the bike lane except when making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazardous conditions, or approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. CVC 21208

Direction of travel: Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. CVC 21650

Motorized bicycles: Motorized bicycles may not be used on trails, bike paths or lanes unless allowed by local authorities. CVC 21207.5

Bike path obstruction: No one may stop on or park a bicycle on a bicycle path. CVC 21211

Sidewalks: Individual cities and counties control whether bicyclists may ride on sidewalks. CVC 21206

Freeways: Bicycles (including motorized bicycles) may not be ridden on freeways and expressways where doing so is prohibited by the California Department of Transportation and local authorities. CVC 21960

Toll bridges: Bicyclists may not cross a toll bridge unless permitted to do so by the California Department of Transportation. CVC 23330

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Car Accidents in Orange County

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Car Accident Injury Experts Orange CountyMost Orange County residents spend a great part of their life on the road. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, in Orange County there are over 20,000 reported accidents with injuries or fatalities per year. Losses from serious accidents can be an unfortunate reality. The team of lawyers  at Gokal Law go above and beyond to protect clients and maximize recovery.

IRRESPONSIBLE DRIVERS OFTEN CARRY THE $15,000 MINIMUM INSURANCE POLICY

In California, the Financial Responsibility (Insurance) Requirements for Vehicle Registration requires a minimum liability insurance for private passenger vehicles (California Insurance Code §11580.1b) of $15,000 for injury/death to one person and total of $30,000.00 for injury/death to more than one person.

What this means is that for a party that is seriously injured or killed by a driver carrying minimum policy requirements, the injured party or their family will only recover $15,000.00 from the liable party’s insurance company. From experience, we regularly assist victims who have been seriously injured by irresponsible drivers with insufficient insurance coverage.

A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION CAN LEAD TO MULTIPLE SOURCES OF INSURANCE COVERAGE

Where insurance coverage is insufficient to cover the harms and losses caused by dangerous drivers, we literally will leave no stone unturned to find coverage for our clients. We even send private investigators to the crash site to determine if there were any other causes of the accident. We often find multiple causes for accidents which are often overlooked in police reports.

AIRBAGS AND OTHER AUTOMOBILE DEFECTS OFTEN CAUSE SERIOUS INJURIES, MAKING THE MANUFACTURER LIABLE FOR INJURIES SUSTAINED IN CRASHES

Automobile manufacturers are legally responsible for making safe products that don’t cause accidents and keep their occupants safe in crashes. Gokal Law  has extensive experience in holding manufacturers of automobiles and car components responsible for selling unsafe products. There are a number of ways automobile design and manufacturing pose a risk to the consumer. This includes everything from defective airbags, defective brakes, and defective tires to name a few parts that could fail. Our team of mechanical engineers have the ability to run computerized tests and analysis to determine exactly what went wrong.

AUTOMOBILE BLACK BOXES CAN GIVE VITAL CRASH DETAILS

Most modern cars are equipped with black boxes similar to those found in airplanes. These black boxes can record vital crash statistics that accident reconstruction experts can use to figure out what exactly occurred moments before impact. The information includes vehicle speed, throttle position, airbag deployment times, whether the brakes were applied, if seatbelts were worn, engine speed, steering angles and more. If we are contacted reasonably soon after the impact, we may be able to get our experts to extract vital information in preparing our case.

THE SOONER YOU CONTACT US THE MORE EFFECTIVE WE ARE AT GATHERING AND PRESERVING NECESSARY EVIDENCE BEFORE IT DISAPPEARS.

The more time that goes by after an accident until we are involved, the harder it is for us to complete a thorough investigation. Once a car has been deemed a total loss, insurance companies often destroy the vehicle soon after making the insurance payment. Similarly, witness are harder to find and their memories quickly fade. The more information we have the better we can advocate for our client. It is important not to delay in contacting Gokal Law after a car accident.

MAL FUNCTIONING AIRBAGS AND OTHER AUTOMOBILE DEFECTS OFTEN CAUSE SERIOUS INJURIES AND MAY MAKE THE MANUFACTURER LIABLE FOR INJURIES SUSTAINED IN CRASHES.

Other automobile defects include: Fuel System Failures; Defective Tires; Inadequate Side – Impact Protection; Roof Crush/Rollovers; Door Failures; Seatbelt Failures. If you think you have been injured by a defective vehicle it is important to call us immediately so that the vehicle can be inspected before it is altered in anyway or destroyed.

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