What To Do If You’re In A Car Accident

Owen, Patterson & Owen, LLP is the largest, most successful personal injury firm in the Santa Clarita Valley. Practicing for over 43 years, they take dozens of calls daily from injury victims, receiving cases worth several thousand dollars to those worth several million dollars. The goal is to help as many people as they can, providing legal services to their neighbors and community, both local and national.

When someone is in an accident, especially a horrific accident with injuries, no one can expect that the victims will be able to communicate clearly, obtain necessary information or provide the information needed. Over the years, we have assembled a recommendation list in order to help you and your loved ones be as prepared as possible in case of an accident:

  • Registration and insurance information must be readily available in more than one place, perhaps in the center divider and in the trunk.
  • It is also best to laminate your insurance card that you keep in your wallet.
  • Always have a portable phone charger. (It is easier to obtain the other driver(s)’ information by simply taking pictures of driver’s licenses, insurance cards, rather than writing it all down. Whenever possible, photograph property damage of all of the vehicles.)
  • Keep a tool for cutting the seatbelt in the car.
  • Keep blankets or jackets in the car at all times.
  • Go to the doctor immediately after the accident even if you do not feel pain at that moment as it always gets worse with time if there was a significant impact.

There is no guarantee that you can prevent an accident from happening. But being prepared can make it much easier for you to handle what needs to be done if it happens. OPO has registration and insurance card holders to get these documents organized. If you would like one, have any questions about this article or would like to reach us, please contact us at info@owenpatterson.com or at 661.799.3899.

Covid-19: What About Civil Liability?

COVID-19 is affecting us all. The news worsens daily. As of the writing of this article, there are more than 7,000 confirmed cases in the United States and 3 in Santa Clarita. All medical experts indicate that we will need to deal with COV-19 for the next months, at the very least. Seniors have been told to stay inside their homes. All individuals have been told to stay at least six feet away others outside of their household. Businesses have been told to close or provide remote access to the workplace, if possible. While a “shelter in place” order has not been given here as in the Bay Area, what are the ramifications if these rules are not followed? Will individuals who do not follow the “suggestions” of the CDC that are broadcasted repeatedly be subject to criminal or civil liability?

In Italy, there has been a national quarantine since March 9th, restricting all from leaving their homes except for work, health related reasons, or grocery shopping. One man who was out shopping and tested positive has been charged with “aiding the epidemic.” If convicted, he could face up to 12 years in prison. More than 40,000 people have been criminally charged with violating the quarantine. Is this where we are headed?

What about civil liability? There are neighbors getting together throughout Santa Clarita, looking for ways to occupy their children due to school closures. If one of them tests positive, should they be civilly liable for negligence? Should homeowner’s insurance cover that breach of duty of care if it occurs within the home? We would be hard-pressed to argue that we didn’t know of the risk that COVID-19 presented; that we didn’t owe a duty of care to guests in our home, and we didn’t breach that duty by gathering in groups of individuals outside our family unit or sitting on a couch watching a movie, which conceivably put the group in closer proximately that the six feet distance requirement.

Time will tell. But until then, stay home, wash your hands, and realize that this is a matter of life or death.

Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash: How To Successfully Prove A Wrongful Death Claim

The tragic helicopter accident of January 26, 2020 has captured the world’s attention. The public’s grief was evident: purple and gold was the temporary color of multiple Los Angeles monuments like LAX and the U.S. Bank Tower. But in addition to the sports world losing one of its most ferocious competitors, the private worlds of the families of those that perished have also been shattered. In addition to the most well-known passengers—Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna—there were 7 others onboard: John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, survived by an adult son and a minor daughter; Christina Mausner, survived by a husband and three minor children; Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton, survived by two minor sons; and the pilot, Ara Zobayan, survived by an adult brother and both parents.

It seems impossible to even try to place a value on the lives of these people; among other things they were parents, children, siblings, friends, and coaches. But that is what has already begun to happen as, on the day of the public memoriam held at Staples Center, Vanessa Bryant filed the first of what will likely be many “wrongful death” lawsuits.

To successfully prove a wrongful death claim, the families will need to show that it is more likely than not that negligence, or a breach of a duty of care, both (1) occurred and (2) was a substantial factor in causing the crash.

As the first lawsuits are filed, the first question to ask is: Who is entitled to make such a claim? In California, this list is established by law (Code of Civil Procedure § 377.60):

  • A surviving spouse or registered domestic partner;
  • Children (or grandchildren if children are deceased);
  • Dependent step-children and other dependent minors in particular circumstances; and/or
  • Parents, if dependent.

If there is no spouse or children, the claims will be governed by the same rules as if there was no will in effect.

There is no doubt that the world will be watching what will happen in this case. Our hearts go out to the families affected by this tragedy.