Archives for January 2011

A Lack of Security Creates Liability in Criminal Attacks

It’s an unquestioned assumption in our world today that crime can happen anywhere to anyone. As a result, there’s a perception that victims of criminal attacks and sexual assault were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Consequently, when people fall victim to a criminal attack in a parking lot or parking garage, on a BART or Caltrans platform, or inside an office building, they don’t always stop to ask themselves whether there was a lack of adequate security at the time. While no business, government agency or building manager can be expected to completely eradicate all criminal activity on their premises, they do have a duty of care to take steps to minimize security threats.

Inadequate Security and Premises Liability

Law enforcement professionals and plain common horse sense tells us that certain conditions are attractive to criminals. Darkened parking garages, remote stairwells and an absence of security cameras or security guards are likely to attract criminals intent on mugging or assaulting someone. Areas adjacent to high-crime neighborhoods, highways or vacant property can also attract certain kinds of criminal activity. When building managers, retailers or parking garage owners don’t install security measures to protect their patrons, they’re ignoring dangers and foreseeable risks.

Liability and the Issue of Foreseeability

While it may not be possible to completely prevent crime, if there are certain dangers or risks present that a retailer or property manager should have foreseen as contributing to crime, failure to take steps to remove or minimize those risks may constitute negligence.

For example, customers leave shopping malls and retail stores with items they’ve just purchased, some of them quite expensive. Store owners and property managers should recognize the increased risks patrons face when headed to their cars with shopping bags or electronics equipment. While it’s likely that malls and retailers have cameras and security guards inside stores to protect themselves against theft, they should foresee the existence of a similar threat in their parking lot or garage. Failure to provide cameras, proper lighting or security in the parking lot may be a violation of a duty of care businesses have toward patrons.

Have You Been Injured in a Criminal Assault? Contact Weber & Nierenberg

Even if you’ve been assaulted in your apartment building or place of work, there may be grounds for holding your building manager or employer liable for what happened. At the San Francisco personal injury law office of Weber & Nierenberg, our premises liability attorneys can evaluate your case and determine if you have grounds for legal action. It’s also important to remember that while your physical injuries may heal, there may be emotional and psychological scars that affect your quality of life and ability to function in the world. Working with psychologists and other experts, our personal injury attorneys demand compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

To schedule an appointment and discuss your case, contact San Francisco premises liability lawyers at Weber & Nierenberg today.

Dangerous Roads in California – Who’s Liable?

When an intersection, bend in the highway or stretch of road is repeatedly the scene of car, truck or motorcycle accidents, poor road design or faulty construction may be involved. Initially, design defects or construction flaws may not be suspected in a car accident, especially when more than one vehicle is involved in a crash. However, when reconstructing a car wreck, investigators may determine that various road design and construction defects contributed to an accident. Here, a municipality, construction company, county or Caltrans itself may be liable.

Poorly Designed Roads

When roads or highways are constructed, they must be properly graded to allow for water drainage and an even surface between roadway and shoulder. Differences in the level of pavement can cause a driver to suddenly lurch to the right or left. This propensity is especially dangerous when a driver inadvertently or intentionally pulls over onto the shoulder of the road. Alternatively, grading that results in water collecting on the road when it rains can lead to hydroplaning.

Sudden sharp curves or bends in a road should be properly marked with signs and reduced speed limits. Entry and exit ramps should be clearly marked and should not include sudden dips or unreasonably sharp turns. Intersections that sit at the bend of a curve or over the top of a hill should be properly marked and may need traffic lights to decrease the likelihood of collisions.

Additionally, lack of guardrails along bridges, slight bends in the road or embankments can lead to serious injury or death when accidents cause cars or trucks to leave the road.

Road Maintenance, Road Construction and Car Accidents

Municipalities that fail to trim back brush or tree branches along roadways may be liable when overgrowth obscures signs that warn drivers of steep grades, curves or dips in the road. Additionally, Caltrans or local counties can be held liable when potholes or broken pavement cause serious accidents. Here, it’s important to work with a personal injury attorney who can immediately take pictures of potholes or obscured signage before maintenance and repair crews fix the problem that played a role in an accident.

In accidents involving road construction, it’s important to determine whether or not construction crews were in compliance with applicable regulations governing road construction in the state of California. If traffic was diverted into an oncoming lane in order to make road repairs, was there sufficient signage warning drivers? If a construction crew was resurfacing an area road, were there grooves, uneven pavement or loose gravel that played a role in causing an accident? Did construction zone workers contribute to an accident by failing to properly use cones and signs to regulate traffic flow through a construction zone?

Contact San Francisco Dangerous Roads Attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg

If your accident was caused or complicated by dangerous road conditions, don’t expect Caltrans or the municipality involved to step forward and take responsibility. Since preserving evidence and gathering eyewitness testimony is crucial in these kinds of cases, it’s important to consult an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. To schedule a free consultation and discuss your case, contact San Francisco defective road design attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg today.

Protecting Your Job After an Injury – California Personal Injury

After an Accident — Talking to Your Employer

While most serious accident injuries require hospitalization and a period of recovery, most people don’t immediately think of protecting their job after they’ve had a car, truck, motorcycle or bicycle accident. This is unfortunate since a number of problems could be avoided if injured workers simply asserted the legal rights granted to them under the law. While California is an “at will” employment state — allowing employers to fire workers for little or no reason — workers cannot be fired for asserting their legal rights. Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), eligible employees have a right to take up to 12 weeks of medical leave without worry of losing their job. If an employer fires a worker for taking leave under FMLA or CFRA, that employer can be sued for financial damages.

Taking Medical Leave After an Accident

Once you are able to speak with your employer’s human resources department, you’ll need to file certain forms and provide information from your doctor regarding when you are able to return to work. (It’s important to remember, however, that companies that employ fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the requirements of CFRA; if you work for a small business with fewer than 50 employees, you should talk to your employer and get any agreement between you in writing.) In order to take medical leave under FMLA or CFRA, it’s necessary that you be employed with your current employer for at least 12 months prior to your request.

If you’ve suffered broken bones, a concussion or whiplash, you may be able to return to work in less than 12 weeks. Here, your employer will likely require a note from your doctor indicating when you are ready to return to work. If your employer tries to pressure you into returning to work before your doctor has indicated you are ready and before your 12 weeks of FMLA/CFRA is over, you should talk to an employment law attorney.

After Your Injuries Have Healed – Returning to Work After an Accident

California and federal law require that employees be allowed to return to the same job after a leave of medical absence. If your job has been eliminated for legitimate reasons, your employer is required to provide you with a similar job or one that pays roughly the same, offers the same kinds of opportunities and involves duties similar to your old one. However, if an employer can prove that an employee would have been laid off anyway or that a comparable job isn’t available, the employee doesn’t have a right to return to work.

San Francisco Personal Injury Attorneys Weber & Nierenberg

If you’ve been seriously injured in a car, truck, bike, construction, or slip and fall accident, we can help you take steps to protect your job while ensuring any employment or medical benefits you are eligible to receive are activated for you. To discuss your case and learn how we can help you, contact San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg today.

 
 
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