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Los Angeles Settles Cyclist’s Pothole Injury Lawsuit for $6.5M

Peter Godefroy was riding his bicycle on Valley Vista Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, California two years ago when struck a pothole, crashed his bike, and suffered "severe traumatic brain injury and numerous broken or fractured bones throughout his body." Godefroy sued the City of Los Angeles, claiming poor lighting and even worse maintenance led to a simple pothole becoming a "concealed trap for bicyclists." The L.A. City Council settled that lawsuit last week, voting 11-0 to approve granting Godefroy $6.5 million in damages. It's the second such settlement this year, after the council also awarded $4.5 million to the family of a man killed after he was thrown from his bike when he hit uneven pavement in the city. Bike Suits Bicycle accidents are sadly more common than you would hope. And if you don't have cycling insurance (yes, those policies do exist), you may be wondering about your legal options. In a crash scenario, hopefully the other party -- whether it be a driver in their car, a business-owned vehicle, another cyclist, or even a pedestrian -- will be insured and that will cover your injuries. If not, you may have to file a lawsuit in order to recoup medical bills and lost wages. Most cycling accidents can be treated just like car accidents: exchange insurance information with the other party or parties, document the accident and any injuries as thoroughly as possible, and consider contacting the police if there are serious injuries or property damage. And the work doesn't stop the day after an accident -- make sure to track initial ambulance or hospital bills, additional or ongoing medical expenses, and lost work or wages as well as future income. City Liability It may sound daunting, but you can sue city hall. You may have to file a claim of injury with the city before filing a civil lawsuit to give the city a chance to compensate you or respond to the claim, and you'll have to do so within specific statutes of limitation. If the city fails to respond or denies your claim, you can move on to a full-blown lawsuit. As a general rule, municipalities are responsible for maintaining roadways (including bike lanes and sidewalks) so that they're safe for cyclists, and can be held liable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions on public roadways. If a city or municipal entity fails to exercise reasonable care in keeping the roadways in good repair, they can be found liable for injuries that occur. However, in order to prove a city was negligent in repairing the road, you would also need to prove the city had or should have had notice of the dangerous condition and failed to fix it. If you're considering a bike injury lawsuit against a city, talk to an experienced attorney first. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Severely Injured Cyclist Settles Broken Sidewalk 'Launch Ramp' Case for $4.84M (FindLaw's Injured) San Diego Cyclist Injured by Pothole Gets $235K Settlement From City (FindLaw's Injured) NYPD Accused of 'Hit and Lie' on Cyclist (FindLaw's Injured)
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Nurse Arrested for Not Drawing Coma Patient’s Blood for Police

National news outlets have been reporting the sensational story of a Salt Lake City, Utah nurse who was arrested after refusing the command of a police officer to draw the blood of a comatose patient for an investigation. Fortunately for Alex Wubbels, the nurse involved in the incident, police body cameras recorded the entire event. The nurse cited the hospital policy of requiring a patient's consent, a warrant, or an intent to arrest, before drawing blood for police. When the officer insisted on getting the blood draw done despite not satisfying any of these conditions, Wubbels refused and was then arrested on the spot. What Happened Here? Surprisingly, the coma patient, a truck driver, whom the police were seeking a blood draw from is an innocent victim. Police were chasing a fleeing suspect, when that suspecting crashed head on into the truck driver's big rig, resulting in a fiery crash. The suspect died at the scene, while the truck driver survived, but fell into a coma. The police, in conducting a thorough investigation, were seeking a blood sample from the truck driver to rule out any liability on his end (note: police may not have a legal right to this sample thanks to the Fourth Amendment's protections). The body camera footage clearly shows nurse Wubbels explaining the policy to the officer in charge, and then the officer losing his cool, grabbing her, cuffing her, and forcefully pulling her out of the hospital. During the ordeal, Wubbels can be heard yelling that she did nothing wrong, and that the officer is hurting her. Fortunately, when the superior officer arrived at the scene, she was released. It was explained to the officer that the hospital already took a blood draw, but that they would not release it without proper legal authorization. The city's administration has been extraordinarily embarrassed, issued apologies, and has stated that it is committed to changing policies to prevent this from happening again. The arresting officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation into his actions (though the report he filed asserts his superior instructed him to arrest Wubbels). What's the Claim? When officers of law cross the line in performing their duties, both the officers, individually, and the municipality, state, or other government entity can be held liable. Generally, under federal law, 42 USC 1983 protects individuals from police misconduct, including false arrest or excessive force. There may also be claims under state laws, depending on the state where the incident occurred. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) How Does the iPhone's New 'Cop Button' Work? (FindLaw Blotter) NY DMV Busts 4k Fraudsters With Facial Recognition Tech (FindLaw Blotter) Criminal Charges Following Violence, Death in Charlottesville (FindLaw Blotter)
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Criminal Charges Following Violence, Death in Charlottesville

Much of the country was shocked to see white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, and horrified at the images of one of those men driving a car through a crowd, killing one woman and wounding 19 others. There were clashes throughout the city between protestors (ostensibly there in defense of a statue of Robert E. Lee) and counter-protestors, and surely there will be criminal charges and repercussions as well. Here's a roundup of the criminal charges that have been filed so far in the wake of the Charlottesville violence, and a few that may yet be. James Fields, Jr. The worst of the violence was James Fields, Jr.'s attack on a group of counter-protestors, when he drove his car through a peaceful crowd. Fields injured 19 people and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The incident was caught on video and Fields was quickly arrested and initially charged with second-degree murder, malicious wounding, and failure to stop after a crash that resulted in a death. Late last week, the Charlottesville Police Department announced it would be adding five more felonies to Fields' ticket: three counts of aggravated malicious wounding, and two of malicious wounding. Thus far, Fields has not been charged with a hate crime or terrorism. Deandre Harris The other high-profile attack was the beating of 20-year-old Deandre Harris, whose assault at the hands of white supremacists was also caught on camera. "The beating happened right beside the police department," Harris said, "and no police were there to help me at all." No charges or arrest warrants have been filed in the case, despite concerted efforts -- some successful -- to identify his attackers. Other Charges Along with Fields, six other people were arrested following the violence, most charged with misdemeanors ranging from assault and battery to carrying a concealed weapon. Jacob Leigh Smith was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery after allegedly hitting a reporter; Troy Dunigan was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, for throwing objects at "Nazi protesters"; James M. O'Brien was charged with misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon; David Parrot was charged with failure to disperse a riot; Steven C. Balcaitis was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery; and Robert K. Litzenberger was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery after a Virginia State Trooper allegedly saw him spit on rally organizer Jason Kessler. Additional charges could be filed as investigations progress. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Increased Access to Hate Content Online Leads to More Crime in Real Life, Study Says (FindLaw Blotter) Top Legal Questions on Hate Crimes (FindLaw Blotter) 5 More Tips for Protesting (Legally) (FindLaw Blotter)
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Suing for Injuries at Walmart and Other Big Box Stores

If you are injured by someone else’s negligence while shopping at a Walmart, or any big box store, you may be wondering what you need to do in order to recover. Depending on how the injury happened, you may be able to negotiate a settlement with a claims representative. If your claim is against Walmart itself, you’ll likely need to file a lawsuit against the store (as Walmart has a bad reputation for not settling injury claims). What might come as a shock to many is that Walmart tops the charts when it comes to the number of lawsuits they face annually. While recent statistics are difficult to track down, at one point, the goliath faced approximately 5,000 new cases per year, or nearly 13 lawsuits every single day. In and Around the Big Box Big box stores like Walmart, Target, and Costco typically will have internal procedures that they will want to follow to document an injury that occurs on their premises. Usually, the internal procedures require the store management to gather information about how the injury occurred, as well as collecting witness information. If the injury is severe, sometimes a store may require a person be transported via ambulance, or be treated by paramedics on-site. While it may be helpful for your legal case to cooperate when injured, focusing on your health and safety should be your first priority. Lawsuits from slip and fall injuries in stores are fairly common. Depending on your state’s laws, and how your injury occurred, the complexity of your case can vary drastically. Not all injuries are the result of negligence, or the fault of another. In some states, slip and fall injuries put a much higher burden of proof on the plaintiff than in others. Typical personal injury claims while shopping at a retail store will be for negligence or premises liability. Product and Delivery Driver Liability In addition to all the lawsuits Walmart faces for in-store injuries by customers and employees, lawsuits also occur over delivery drivers accidents and dangerous products. Most prominently, comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in a fatal bus accident caused by a Walmart truck, which resulted in a rare high value settlement from Walmart, rumored to be close to $100 million. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) Disabled Woman’s Parents Sue Walmart Over Shoplifting Arrest (FindLaw’s Injured) Walmart Dress Caused Sexless Marriage, Lawsuit Claims (FindLaw’s Legally Weird) Long-Haired Woman Sues Walmart Over Shampoo-Related ‘Suffering’ (FindLaw’s Legally Weird)
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Easter Egg Hunt Injury Lawsuit: Mom Sues for $112K

The Clakamas County annual Easter Eggstravaganza egg hunt is scheduled to proceed this year with 20,000 eggs, and the Easter bunny being flown in by Helicopter, just like tradition dictates. However, a recent lawsuit for $112,000 filed against the Eggstravaganza venue and organizer as a result of an injury that occurred last year is attracting attention in the lead up to this year’s event. Although the event is geared towards participants under 12, last year, an adult who was accompanying their child was injured when the crowd rushed in, knocking her over, causing her a severe knee injury. The injury required surgery and a protracted recovery. The lawsuit alleges that the venue and organizer were negligent in not providing sufficient staff, security, and/or crowd control to ensure the safety of attendees. Event Organizer and Venue Liability The organizers of an event, as well as the venue where an event takes place, can both be held liable if an event attendee is injured as a result of negligence, such as poor property conditions, or allowing overcrowding to occur. Generally, organizers and venues are responsible for ensuring the safety of their guests, and must take reasonable steps to do so. When reasonable steps are not taken, organizers and venue owners can be sued under a legal theory of negligence or premises liability. In the Eggstravaganza case, for instance, the plaintiff is alleging that the organizers and venue allowed overcrowding to occur, and did not have effective crowd control. The complaint explains that this was case, particularly, when people who were not supposed to be on the Easter egg field, ran onto the field and knocked the plaintiff over, causing her injury. Eggshell Plaintiffs An injury victim can sometimes seem to have a disproportionately large injury given the circumstances surrounding an accident or event. However, under the law, a person with a pre-existing condition, or a high-susceptibility to injury, is entitled to recover for the full extent of their injuries. In lawyer-talk, these types of individuals are often referred to as eggshell plaintiffs, and can include the elderly, disabled, or those with medical conditions. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) 3 Easter Injuries to Avoid (FindLaw’s Injured) Is It Legal to Dye Baby Chickens? (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life) First Grader Handcuffed After Easter Egg Tantrum (FindLaw Blotter)
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Time to Get the Sledge Hammers Out

Although the loss of the opportunity to see the first woman become the president of the United States was both devastating and completely unpredictable (at least to me, as evidenced by my blog post here), as criminal defense attorneys we have a first-hand understanding that, when an injustice occurs, that means it’s our time to gear up for a fight. This isn’t the time to sit on the sidelines, feeling sorry for ourselves and fearful of what comes next. It’s time to get our sledge hammers out and start forcing the glass ceiling open ourselves. As much as I believed that this election would serve as a statement that things were changing for women through Hillary winning, her loss is a statement of how deep the roots of inequality still are for women in our culture when a supremely qualified woman is passed over for a man with no experience. It was hard to explain to my eight-year-old daughter what happened and why our country didn’t celebrate or embrace the opportunity to put the first woman into the White House. And on hearing the news, she was shattered and angry. Hillary spoke to her and countless other young girls in her concession speech when she said: To all the women and especially the young women who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder then to be your champion. Now, I know, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but some day someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now. And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every change and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams. So what to do? For me the answer is simple, we have to dig deeper and do more. This isn’t the time to stop. It’s time to ramp up. I personally refuse to accept that we are second- or third-class citizens. I am not accepting the scraps from the men that will be holding the power in this country come January. We have to work together to change that. We need to walk the walk. We need to open doors for each other. We need to make sure that we include each other at every table we are seated at. We need to take our successes and stop simply asking for them. We need to refuse to accept second-chair positions and insignificant token roles just so we can be in the room. And above all – as many times as I have said this on this blog I will say it again until I am blue in the face – we need to SEND EACH OTHER BUSINESS. We are the only ones who are going to assure our own success. If this election teaches us one thing, it is that we need to take primary responsibility in looking out for one another out there. The post Time to Get the Sledge Hammers Out appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Air Force One is About to Crash Through the Glass Ceiling

On this historic election day when our country will hopefully elect its first woman president, I am filled with hope and excitement. I took my daughter with me to the poll this morning so she could one day tell her daughter that she was there to witness this moment in history. When I told her that, 100 years ago, women still did not have a right to vote, let alone have a chance of becoming President, there was a look of bewilderment on her face as she processed such a foreign concept from a not-so-very distant time in our history. Already this historic presidential race has inspired my daughter to one day want to be president too. But it’s not just our daughters that are affected by this race; after the ballots are counted, all women everywhere will be living in a new world, forever changed. I have never intended for this blog to be political and I don’t intend to start now. However, regardless of your party affiliation or political beliefs, the significance of this moment for all women and women criminal defense attorneys cannot be overstated. This isn’t just another break in the glass ceiling – Air Force One is crashing straight through it as a woman will take over the most powerful job in the world. That doesn’t mean we still don’t have work to do. We still have enormous pay inequity in law. We still have women leaving the practice of law in much larger percentages than their male counterparts. Women are still seriously underrepresented as equity partners in law firms. We still have men outpacing women as being named lead counsel in larger, more lucrative complex litigation matters, and this is especially true in larger white collar matters. Yet, I can’t help but feel like we women criminal defense attorneys can breathe a little easier when we survey our remaining issues after witnessing the shattering of the glass ceiling this election cycle. And that new breath might give life to a renewed energy to work through the problems that remain. During the last two months I have struggled with finding the time to blog, falling short of the promise I made to myself that I would “never” miss a week. I’m not sure if this is a testament to the Anne-Marie Slaughter line of thinking that women can’t have it all, or is simply symptomatic of the time pressures many lawyers face, regardless of gender. In spite of this lapse, my commitment to highlight and support of women in this field remains unwavering. I continue to make efforts to get to know other women in the field and organize more formal opportunities for more and more of us to connect and help one another. Thankfully that hasn’t stopped, even as the blogging has been less consistent. And it was during a recent dinner that I shared with some amazing women defenders that I realized I needed to recommit myself to telling our stories through this blog. There is still a need to highlight and promote the great work that women are doing in the field, although I admit I struggle with finding cases in the media identifying women criminal lawyers. So I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to fill that void. I need to hear about your cases or about cases other women defenders are handling. We need to work as hard in assuring our own success in this field as we have in placing a woman in the White House. The kind of success that is not just about earning a seat at the table; it’s about sitting at the head of the table and deciding who sits there with us. Much like the distinction between being Secretary of State and the President of the United States. I look forward to these next four years and beyond and to hearing your stories from the front lines of criminal defense. The post Air Force One is About to Crash Through the Glass Ceiling appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Driver Liability for Cell Phone Related Car Accident

How an accident happens will largely determine who is ultimately held liable. If the at fault driver was found to have caused the accident while talking or texting, they will likely have more difficulty defending their case, and they may potentially face additional penalties. Nearly every state has laws on distracted driving, and most include some limitations on the use of cell phones by drivers. Regardless of whether you have an ear piece, integrated Bluetooth, or speakerphone system, if you are talking or texting on a cell phone while driving, an officer or other party can claim that you were driving while distracted. According to the most recent report by the NHTSA, one in ten on the road fatalities involved distraction. Accidents While Phoning or Texting If a driver is found to be at fault for an accident, then they can also be found liable for the injuries and property damage they caused. While a majority of auto accident cases settle out of court, the facts concerning how the crash happened are relevant to establishing the injured party's case for damages. When a jury is asked to decide an auto accident injury case, they will usually be tasked with deciding two primary issues:Whether the defendant caused the injuries and damages.How much money should be awarded to the plaintiff for suffering the injuries and damages. In most jurisdictions, if both parties are considered to be partly at fault, or fault is uncertain, the party that is found to be more than 50% at fault, generally is the party held responsible for the damages. If a party was on the phone when the accident occurred, they may be found some percentage (comparatively) at fault. In states like California, if a driver is found to be 25% at fault, any award they receive will be reduced by their percentage of fault. Rear-Ended While Talking on the Phone There are some auto-accident cases where it won't matter if the victim was on the phone or texting. If you are stopped at a red light, and you get rear-ended while texting or talking on the phone, it is highly unlikely that your texting or talking had anything to do with causing the accident. In this sort of a situation, your phone use, while still potentially against the law, generally cannot be used to attack liability. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) What's More Dangerous Than Texting and Driving? (FindLaw's Injured) 1 in 4 Car Crashes Involves Cell Phone Use: Report (FindLaw's Injured) Is Apple Liable for Distracted Driving Accidents? (FindLaw's Injured)
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Juvenile Carjacker Arrested Twice in 48 Hours

Last week, a juvenile carjacker in New Jersey made headlines for being arrested twice within 48 hours for two separate carjacking incidents. Police released the minor into the custody of a relative after his arrest on a Friday for carjacking, and on Sunday, the teen was rearrested for another carjacking. The juvenile carjacker, surprisingly, is only 13 years old. Fortunately, there were no injuries as a result of his actions, however, police have linked an additional two to three car thefts from surrounding communities to the young suspect. Penalties for Juvenile Carjacking While criminal laws vary from state to state, juveniles can face very serious penalties for carjacking. The penalties can become exponentially worse if a weapon, or gun, is involved. Additionally, older juveniles may be charged as adults. While some juvenile offenses may be summarily dealt with if they are minor, or offenses that relate to the minor's age (such as possession of alcohol or tobacco), carjacking, especially when a weapon is involved, is not one of these. Unlike a joyriding charge, which can be charged as a misdemeanor in some jurisdictions, when a carjacker physically removes the driver of a vehicle by force and takes the keys and car, the likelihood is that even a juvenile will be charged with a felony. When a carjacker does not intend to permanently deprive the vehicle owner of possession, a joyriding charge may still apply, however, the act of stealing the car directly from the victim's possession will likely impose additional charges. Recent Trends Over the past few months, there have been several news stories across the country involving juvenile carjackings. The story out of New Jersey comes after a brutal story out of Oakland, California, where four juveniles punched an old lady and stole her vehicle. A month prior to that, a nearby city saw not only a juvenile carjacking, but it led to a high-speed pursuit, ending in a crash and arrest. In Denver, a juvenile carjacker that was fleeing from police was shot in the leg. Carjacking is a serious criminal offense that can land a juvenile in adult prison. Due to the fact that it involves more than simply taking the car, but potentially assault and/or battery (with or without a weapon), the charges tend to more serious than simply joyriding. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Juveniles and Age ("Status") Offenses (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Shooting at George Zimmerman Illegal, Florida Man Learns (FindLaw Blotter) BB Guns Are Not Firearms, Minnesota Supreme Court Rules (FindLaw Blotter)
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Top 5 Travel Injury Legal Issues

It’s almost summertime, so time to hit the road, see the sights, and travel the high seas. But with travels come trouble sometimes, accidents and injuries, which could be costly. Here is some advice for travelers, whatever your mode of transport, be it trains, planes, automobiles, boats, or a combo. Find out how to handle travel accident recovery. Travel Accident Recovery 1. Injured on an Airplane: How Can You Recover? You probably don’t realize just how treacherous being on a plane is, and that is apart from the hazard of hurtling through the skies. Injuries on airplanes can happen due to fallen luggage from overhead compartments, turbulence, airline employee error and more. Airlines owe passengers a high duty of care and passengers do recover when they are proven negligent. 2. Injured in a Bus Crash: How Much Is My Case Worth? It is never a good idea to guess at what a case is worth without knowing all the details, and even then it’s probably best not to assume. But bus crash injuries can be severe and you can certainly sue if you are hurt while traveling on this type of common carrier. 3. Can I Sue for a Railroad Crossing Accident? If you’re on a train that crashes or are injured in some way while traveling Orient Express style, you can certainly sue to recover for your expenses and pain and suffering. As for drivers injured in a railroad crossing accident, that too is an unfortunately common occurrence and a basis for recovery. 4. Cruise Ship Injury: Can I Sue? Traveling on a cruise ship combines the fun of staying at a hotel with the thrill of being on the high seas and a dash of the old-fashioned. But cruise ships are also a prime place to get injured — not only are there activities of all kinds but there’s the risk of accidents in restaurants, on decks, and with the movement of the ship itself. If your vacation ends in a sea of sorrows due to the negligence of the cruise ship company, you can sue. 5. Road Trip Safety Tips: How to Not Get Injured The most American vacation of them all is the road trip, a journey great artists have paid tribute to in books, film, music, and more. But before you hit the road, know the score on staying safe. Traveling in a car for long hours can be dangerous. Talk to a Lawyer If you are injured during your travels or at any other time and you believe it is due to the negligence of another, speak to a lawyer. Tell your story. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) Cruise Ship Sickness: Can Passengers Sue? (FindLaw’s Injured) Cruise Ship Injuries: What Are Your Rights? (FindLaw’s Injured) Top Ten Road Trip Legal Tips (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
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