Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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 $5,000 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.

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.

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 as 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 burden 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.

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.

After rear-ending another vehicle that had been stopped, an insured individual sought uninsured motorist benefits from his car insurer.  The insurer denied his claim, and the arbitrator denied damages to the appellant.  The appellant petitioned the trial court to vacate the arbitration award, and the California Court of Appeal affirmed the court’s denial of his petition, finding it was not an appealable order.  Specifically, the appellate court turned to California law, which requires that physical contact support an uninsured motorist claim after a Southern California car accident involving allegations of a phantom vehicle.

The appellant in this case argued that he had been hit from behind and pushed into the vehicle in front of him.  He argued that the vehicle that struck him had left the scene immediately.  The insurer argued no evidence supported his position he had been pushed into the vehicle in front.

The insurance company inspected the appellant’s vehicle for repairs, which were estimated to total approximately $7,000.  The front of the vehicle sustained damage, and there was no damage listed to the rear bumper or trunk.  Photographs supported the estimate that the damage focused on the front end of the vehicle.

In a recent decision, the California Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred in granting defendant’s summary judgment motion regarding plaintiff’s claim for dangerous condition of public property.  After suffering serious injuries when a tree branch fell on her while walking through Mission Bay, in San Diego, the plaintiff brought a personal injury claim, alleging that the City negligently maintained the tree.  The City moved for trial immunity, under Government Code section 831.4.  While the lower court granted summary judgment based on this immunity, the appellate court found there had been a disputed issue of material fact as to where plaintiff had been when the branch struck her, and that the claim was based on negligent maintenance of the tree, not the trail.

Dangerous condition of public property includes conditions that create substantial risk of injury when the property is used with due care, in a manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable it will be used.  There must be a dangerous condition of public property, a foreseeable risk of injury, conduct connected to the condition (such as negligence), causation between the condition and injuries, and finally, damages.  Plaintiff’s allegation is that the City negligently trimmed tree branches, and was aware of the dangerous condition posed by negligently maintaining branches of the eucalyptus tree.  Therefore, the City is liable for harm caused when the branch fell from the tree.

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In an appeal taken in a California swimming pool accident lawsuit following the drowning death of a five-year-old boy, the California Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in favor of the defendants.  The issue before the appellate court was whether the defendants owed a duty of care and whether there was evidence a dangerous condition on their property contributed to the tragic accident.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, and the plaintiffs appealed.

In this case, the father of the deceased boy brought a general negligence action against the defendants for failing to supervise and pay attention to their child.  In their premises liability claim, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants ignored or allowed dangerous conditions in and around the pool.  The boy’s mother had left the boy’s grandfather in charge of the boy once he arrived at the party at the defendant’s home. The mother knew that her son did not know how to swim, and her father (the boy’s grandfather) advised the defendant that he would take over supervising the boy. After losing sight of the boy, his grandfather found him underneath the water in the main pool, and efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

After submitting evidence in support of their motion for summary judgment, the court found in favor of the defendants, since the boy’s grandfather had explicitly agreed to supervise the boy, and the mother had remained on the premises.  Despite the declaration of a civil engineer and expert in engineering, the court found that there was not a triable issue of material fact regarding whether the pool was in a dangerous condition.  Finally, there had not been evidence that a dangerous condition in the pool caused the boy’s death.

Following a California truck accident, the victim in a recent case before the California Court of Appeal pursued a personal injury claim against the truck driver and his trucking company.  The lower court awarded the plaintiff $3.3 million for damages, since he suffered serious physical injuries in the collision.  After the appellate court had reversed an earlier decision in the victim’s favor, the jury had found that it was reasonably certain the plaintiff would require four future shoulder surgeries.  The defendant argued that one surgery was reasonably certain, and the evidence did not support a finding that three other surgeries were required.

The appellate court in this opinion restated the facts, which indicate that at the time of the collision, the defendant driver had been crossing the southbound lanes of traffic on Pacific Coast Highway, heading north.  The plaintiff had been driving a minivan southbound when he crashed into the flatbed trailer at about 45 miles per hour.  After being extricated from the vehicle, he suffered an open fracture in his left shoulder.

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