Articles Posted in Personal Injury

The California Court of Appeal recently upheld the trial court’s denial of a county’s motion for summary judgment in a California personal injury lawsuit involving the Government Code “natural condition immunity” claimed by San Mateo County after a 72-foot diseased tree fell on a sleeping child’s tent, causing catastrophic injuries.  The court analyzed whether the campground area had been improved, since that would defeat the natural condition immunity provided to the County by Government Code section 831.2.

Government Code section 831.2 is known as the “natural condition immunity.”  It states that neither a public entity nor a public employee may be held liable for injuries caused by natural conditions of unimproved public property.  The issue in this case was whether there were triable issues of fact regarding whether the property was “unimproved.”

The campground where the child was injured was in San Mateo County Memorial Park, owned by the County.  Over 499 wooded acres make up the park, with trails and campsites that have been cleared of trees. The campground was included in a “developed area” that the County inspected.

The California Court of Appeal recently addressed an appeal brought by a plaintiff who alleged his injuries were caused by a defective elevator.   Southern California injury lawyers understand that in cases like this, there may be legal claims against more than one defendant.  In this case, the plaintiff initially brought legal claims against multiple parties, including the manufacturer and the maintenance company for the elevator.

After stepping into an elevator at the CalTrans building in Los Angeles, the plaintiff in this personal injury case pressed the button for the first floor. According to the plaintiff, the elevator quickly dropped and then stopped between the first and second floors.  The plaintiff alleged he was thrown around and landed on his back in the elevator when it abruptly dropped.  The plaintiff claimed he suffered knee injuries due to the incident, and he brought legal claims against the elevator manufacturer and the maintenance company that services the elevator.

The plaintiff eventually dismissed his claims for product liability and negligence against the manufacturer, and the remaining defendant (the maintenance company) moved for summary judgment.  The trial court granted summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff had not met his burden of showing a material dispute of fact remained.

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California personal injury attorneys understand that individuals who participate in certain sports may place themselves at risk of injury. In a recent personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff had alleged that the defendant’s negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct harmed her.  She also alleged that the defendant had an animal with a dangerous propensity. The facts indicate that the plaintiff suffered injuries while endurance horseback riding, and the issue before the California appellate court was whether the plaintiff had assumed the risk inherent in horseback riding, which would bar her claim for recovery.  Additionally, the court examined whether the plaintiff had met her burden of showing there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding the defendant’s alleged recklessness.

Both the plaintiff and the defendant participated in an organized endurance horseback riding event, with approximately 50 other riders.  While stopped at a required checkpoint, the defendant’s horse struck the plaintiff while she was standing on the ground. She suffered injuries and brought this lawsuit against the defendant. After the trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, she appealed.

On appeal, the court examined whether the defendant met the burden of persuasion that one or more elements of the plaintiff’s cause of action could not be established, or there was a complete defense to the cause of action. If the defendant meets their burden of production, showing that there is not a triable issue of material fact, the burden of production shifts to the plaintiff to show a remaining triable issue of fact.

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After suffering injuries in a fall while working in the defendants’ home, the plaintiff in a recent personal injury case before the California Court of Appeal brought causes of action for premises liability and negligence.  A lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant homeowners, but the appellate court reversed, finding that triable issues of fact remained as to whether there had been a hidden dangerous condition the owners should have disclosed, and whether the parties involved in the lawsuit acted reasonably.

The defendants in this case hired a licensed contractor to paint their home, and the plaintiff was an employee of this contractor.  While moving a cabinet in an attic, on the second floor, the plaintiff stepped on a portion of the floor covered by a thin plastic sheet and fell 10 to 12 feet to the floor, suffering serious injuries.  While he believed he had stepped onto the floor, it was in fact a poorly constructed and concealed skylight, built into the floor.

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After suffering injuries when a water truck ran over her at a fire base camp, a plaintiff in a recent case before the California Court of Appeal brought a lawsuit against the Fire District and their employees. She alleged that her damages were caused by their negligence, a dangerous condition of public property, and their failure to warn. The lower court had held that the defendants were immune from liability, according to the firefighter’s rule, and on appeal, the court analyzed whether the defendants had waived their claim to immunity.

A fire broke out in the Plumas National Forest in September 2009, and a base camp was set up at Plumas County Fairgrounds.  The plaintiff worked as a Forest Service firefighter and slept in an area that had not been properly roped off and marked “no vehicles allowed.”  In the evening, a water truck servicing a nearby shower unit ran over the plaintiff, who was sleeping on the ground, and severely damaged her heart, lungs, and eyes.

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The California Court of Appeal reversed a decision in favor of a golf course owned by the City of Pasadena in a lawsuit brought by a baby and his mother after the baby was injured while on a trail adjacent to the golf course. The issue before the appellate court was whether the City was entitled to trail immunity.  The baby had been struck in the head by a golf ball while being pushed by his mother in a stroller. He was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with a brain injury.

The plaintiffs brought a lawsuit on the legal theory of a dangerous condition of public property posed by the golf course.  At issue was whether the City had established that design immunity entitled it to summary judgment.  The court stated that a dangerous condition of public property creates a substantial (as opposed to a minor) risk of injury when the property has been used with due care, in a manner that is foreseeable for its use.

Public entities are liable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions of property when the plaintiff shows that the property was dangerous at the time of the injury, the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, the condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury that resulted, and either an employee’s negligence created the condition or the public entity had notice of the condition.

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In a recent case before the California Court of Appeal, the court addressed whether the lower court had properly ruled in favor of the defendant, a company that shipped chemicals to the government that allegedly caused the plaintiff injuries while he was working for the government.

The plaintiff alleged he was harmed while working as a machinist for a company that contracted with the United States Navy to supply insulation for stainless steel piping.  He brought a lawsuit for general negligence and strict liability manufacturing and design defect claims, including claims for failing to warn of the hazards of the chemical use. First, the court analyzed whether the defendant was a government contractor, entitled to the defense that shields military contractors from state tort law liability when there is a defect in military equipment that has been supplied to the United States.

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The California Court of Appeal recently found in favor of a plaintiff who alleged that she had developed mesothelioma due to her husband’s exposure to asbestos fibers at work. The significance of this opinion is that it relies upon new case law set forth by the state Supreme Court. In light of the new law, the appellate court expanded the duty of care outside the employer-employee realm, holding that the employer may have owed a duty of care to the wife of the deceased employee.

In reviewing recent caselaw concerning the duty of care owed to family members, the court stated that we all have a duty to use due care, avoiding injuring others.  Turning to the Rowland v. Christian (1968) 69 Cal.2d 108 (Rowland) factors, the court had previously held that premises owners do not need to protect family members from harm caused by contact with family members wearing asbestos-contaminated work clothes home. However, Kesner v. Superior Court (2016) 1 Cal.5th 1132 (Kesner) was recently decided, and the California Court of Appeal stated that based on that decision, the employer in this case owed the plaintiff a duty.

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A proposed bill to be considered by California lawmakers will allow bicyclists to yield at stop signs, as opposed to coming to a complete stop, provided there is no oncoming traffic.  Assembly Bill 1103, is based on the “Idaho Stop” law that permits bicyclists within that state to treat stop signs as though they are yield signs.   According to the California Bill, bikers would have a legal duty to stop for pedestrians as well as cars that have the right of way.  This change in the Vehicle Code may benefit motorists by making intersections more efficient, encouraging bicyclists to simply roll through the stop sign if they have the right of way.

According to some studies, the law that has been adopted by Idaho, nearly three decades ago, has resulted in increased bicycle safety.  Injuries among bicyclists declined after the law took effect in 1982, and they have remained at the same level thereafter.

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In a personal injury claim following an accident while trimming trees, the plaintiff argued that the defendant tree trimming company’s negligence caused his injuries.  After the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, the California Court of Appeal reviewed whether substantial evidence supported their finding.  In their analysis, the court stated that whether a breached duty of care caused harm is within the jury’s domain to determine. Therefore, when a party to a lawsuit challenges the sufficiency of evidence, it is a “daunting burden.” In this case, the court upheld the jury’s determination that the defendant’s conduct had not substantially caused the accident.

According to the appellate court, there was a “lengthy chain of reasoning” set forth by the plaintiff that attacked the verdict. The facts indicated that the plaintiff and his brother were trimming trees under a power line. The plaintiff was using a metal rod to measure the evenness of the trees when he made contact with a power line and suffered injuries after falling to the ground from his ladder. He brought a lawsuit against a tree trimming company, among others, since the company had the duty of ensuring a clearance around the power lines. While the tree trimming company had inspected the trees months before the accident, they had decided the trees did not need trimming.

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