Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Recently, the California Court of Appeal reversed a trial court judgment in favor of the defendants that had granted their motion for summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ negligence allegations.  After a victim suffered injuries at work and eventually died, the relatives brought a negligence claim against his employer and another employee.  On appeal, the court assessed whether the trial court had erred in finding there had not been a triable issue of material fact regarding the employer’s negligence. Specifically, the issue was whether the court had wrongly excluded dying declarations that the deceased made concerning details of his accident.

potatoes
In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged the employer negligently stacked and loaded potato pallets, since they operate a potato packing operation.  This negligence caused a pallet to topple on and crush the deceased. When opposing the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the plaintiffs contended that the potato boxes had not been properly wrapped together.

The plaintiffs submitted declarations, which provided the deceased’s version of facts as he told them to relatives while he was in the hospital. The defendants objected to the statements in the personal declarations as hearsay.   The trial court analyzed whether the evidence supported the finding that the deceased had been relating facts concerning the cause of his death, rather than a hearsay account of another event, unrelated to his death.  The court sustained the objections to the personal declarations and held there was no proof of negligence on the part of the defendants.

In a California premises liability case involving whether the trial court properly applied the Medical Injury Compensation Act’s (MICRA) one-year statute of limitations for professional negligence, the appellate court held that it had been an error to apply the one-year statute of limitations for professional negligence. The court assessed whether the statute of limitations applied to bar her case, since the plaintiff argued that her injury was not caused by rendering professional services but in fact was caused by ordinary negligence.wheelchair

The facts indicate that the plaintiff had been at a medical clinic, with the goal of reviewing test results with a nurse-practitioner. After her consult, the plaintiff left the treatment room in order to exit the building.  She tripped on a scale that, she alleged, partly blocked the path from her room to the hall. As she tripped, she fell and suffered serious injuries.

The plaintiff’s complaint was filed nearly two years after the incident, and the health center alleged her injuries were caused by “a negligent act or omission in rendering professional services.” As a result, they contended she was subject to the one-year statute of limitations for professional negligence, and her complaint was time-barred.

After plaintiffs filed a personal injury complaint against a defendant for injuries sustained in a California car accident, the defendant demurred to the complaint on the ground that the statute of limitations had run.  The lower court sustained the demurrer and entered judgment in favor of the defendant. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that their attorney had shown an excusable error that justifiecar accidentd relief against the statute of limitations bar. In the alternative, they requested a ruling that would toll the applicable limitations period.

An accident occurred on January 18, 2014, and the plaintiffs filed their complaint on February 16, 2016.  In opposition to the defendant’s demurrer that stated that the statute of limitations had run, the plaintiffs filed an opposition on the day before the hearing. They argued that settlement negotiations had occurred, and there had been a delay in receiving medical records. Additionally, the plaintiffs’ attorney stated he had personal problems and had relied on staff personnel.  While the plaintiffs argued these excuses qualified as “excusable neglect,” by law, the court sustained the demurrer for the plaintiffs’ failure to state facts sufficient to state a cause of action.

On appeal, the court stated that in the situation of a demurrer based on an affirmative defense, the court asks if the complaint makes clear the action is necessarily barred. Regarding the statute of limitations, there are policy considerations in favor of stopping tardy claims, while also disposing of claims on the merits.

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In a recent Southern California personal injury case before the Court of Appeal, the judgment in favor of the defendants was affirmed.  The plaintiff in this case was injured when the basket carrying her in a hot air balloon crashed in Temecula wine country.  On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s judgment in favor of the defendants, but on different grounds.hot air balloon

After the plaintiff asserted a negligence claim against the tour company, the pilot, and the company’s agent, the defendants moved for summary judgment.  In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged she had been injured when the balloon crash-landed into a fence, and this was caused by negligent piloting and a failure to provide safety instructions.  The defendants argued the plaintiff did not satisfy the elements of her negligence claim, and even if she had, she had waived the right to assert a claim by signing the liability waiver before the flight. The lower court found that the plaintiff had not established the element of duty and had assumed the risk of harm inherent in riding in a hot air balloon. The court determined that the company did not owe her a duty.

In their analysis, the lower court held that hot air ballooning is a risky activity and can involve crash landings.  By voluntarily riding in the balloon, the plaintiff had assumed the risk of injury.

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Recently, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment denying a plaintiff’s motion for a new trial on the ground that the damages that she was awarded by a jury in a California premises liability action were inadequate.  The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the award of $5,000walker support for non-economic damages was inadequate, since the evidence had not shown that after the accident, she suffered a decreased quality of life.

The plaintiff in this case lived alone in an apartment in an adult living facility. At 91 years old, she suffered from macular degeneration and used a cane or walker occasionally.  The plaintiff’s son eventually contracted for two hours of caregiving services daily, and he had made clear to both caretaker defendants (and the defendant caretaker company) that the plaintiff was not to leave the premises of the adult living facility.

After taking the plaintiff to a store, without her cane or walker, the plaintiff fell at the curb, stepping toward the car.  She was taken to the hospital and found that she had sustained a right hip fracture. Her surgery and care totaled $14,118.29, which the parties agreed was reasonable and necessary. The plaintiff was discharged from the hospital and entered rehabilitative care, which totaled over $30,000.

A California appellate court recently rejected an argument set forth by an individual who alleged the trial court erred in overlooking material facts, among other claims. The court focused on the fact that as the plaintiff in the underlying action, and the appellant, she had failed to cite portions of the record in support of her arguments.  The analysis set forth by the court made clear that while the court was not obligated to search the record after evaluating her arguments, they did so and found nothing supporting her allegations.

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In her brief on appeal, the plaintiff in the underlying California personal injury claim stated that she had argued with the defendant, inside the office of her property manager, after inquiring into why her full security deposit had not been returned. She claimed that he shut the door on her foot, causing her injuries.  She sued the company and the individual defendant for negligence, and she stated she suffered from a pain syndrome that would affect her for the remainder of her life.

The jury determined that the defendants had not been negligent. They did not award the plaintiff damages, and judgment was entered for the defendants.

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The California Court of Appeal recently held in favor of the defendant in an underlying Southern California car accident lawsuit brought after a rear-end motor vehicle collision. The plaintiff in this case appealed the lower court’s judgment in favor of the defendant, finding that her negligence had not substantially caused the plaintiff’s harm.  On appeal, the court held that the trial court had not abused its discretion in allowing the defendant’s expert to testify that the plaintiff had not suffered his alleged injuries in the accident.

rear-end collision

The defendant in this case rear-ended the plaintiff on the 405 freeway in Costa Mesa, pushing the plaintiff’s car into the vehicle in front of him.  The defendant’s airbags deployed upon impact, but the plaintiff’s airbags did not.  The insurance companies held that both vehicles were total losses.

At the scene of the crash, the plaintiff’s visible injury was a cut on his lip, and he did not accept treatment from the paramedics.  Prior to the accident, the plaintiff had not suffered back pain. The plaintiff experienced pain in his lower back and eventually underwent an MRI that revealed a herniated disc.  Eventually, the plaintiff underwent fusion surgery to correct a herniated disc.

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In a recent decision, the California Court of Appeal upheld a judgment in favor of the defendants after the plaintiff alleged that their negligence had caused his injuries, but he failed to meet his burden of proof.  After suffering injuries while participating in a class on motorcycle basic rider training offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit for negligence against another participant, as well amotorcycle accidents the Foundation.  The appellate court reviewed the evidence supporting the lower court’s decision to grant the defendants’ motion for summary judgment in this California motorcycle accident case.

The facts indicate that the plaintiff had signed a form, titled “Waiver and Indemnification,” for the course.  His complaint against the defendants alleged negligence, gross negligence, and negligent training and supervision.  The defendants moved for summary judgment and asserted the waiver the plaintiff signed barred his causes of action.

The plaintiff contended that his gross negligence cause of action remained, and he also contended the waiver was not enforceable because of fraud.  The trial court agreed that the plaintiff had not shown evidence of gross negligence and had not demonstrated the waiver should be void. The plaintiff appealed.

Recently, the California Appellate Court reversed a judgment in favor of a defendant hotel after a plaintiff sued the hotel for breaching their duty of care by setting up a stage in a way that created a dangerous gap and eventually led to her falling and injuring herself.  In this California premises liability lawsuit, which alleged claims of negligence and premises liability, the court analyzed whether the defendant had met their burden on summary judgment.  After analyzing the defendant’s supporting evidence, the court held that they had failed to carry their burdfoot injuryen of showing that they had not breached their duty of care.

The plaintiff had attended a banquet at the defendant hotel, and while standing onstage, she stepped behind her and fell into a gap between the stage and the wall. The plaintiff suffered broken bones in her foot and ligament damage. In her legal claim against the hotel, she claimed that hotel employees were negligent in installing the stage and that the hotel breached its duty of care by failing to warn her of the dangerous condition.

After the defendant moved for summary judgment, they submitted the declaration of an architect who had been hired to evaluate whether the stage met safety standards.  The hotel defendant also submitted declarations from employees who stated they had no notice of anyone falling from the back of the stage in previous events.  In opposition, the plaintiff argued there remained triable issues of material fact as to whether there had been a dangerous condition by setting the stage on a diagonal and whether the hotel had breached its duty of care by failing to warn her of the dangers posed by falling.

In an appeal before the Second Appellate District, the California Court of Appeal addressed an appeal brought by the City of Long Beach after the lower court awarded $99,000 in pain and suffering damages to the 81-year-old plaintiff in a Southern California trip and fall case.  After reviewing the jury’s award and supporting evidence, the court affirmed the award in favor of the injured plaintiff.

crosswalk signage
The 81-year-old plaintiff and his daughter were at a boat parade in Long Beach, and while walking to their car after the festivities, the plaintiff’s foot caught a curb, which caused him to fall into a crosswalk in the street. The plaintiff’s injuries included a broken shoulder. He received treatment non-surgically. The plaintiff then brought a complaint for premises liability against Long Beach on the grounds that it was negligent and created a dangerous condition of public property.

After deliberations, the jury found that the City was 51% at fault for the incident, and the plaintiff was 49% at fault.  The jury determined that the plaintiff’s pain and suffering was $194,118. This included $174,706 for past pain and suffering and $19,412 for future pain and suffering. The final judgment awarded the plaintiff $99,000.

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