Chain | Cohn | Stiles matches donation to MADD Kern County by mother of Tehachapi teenager who died after being struck, killed by DUI driver

August 23, 2017 | 8:44 am


The mother of Leslie Balderrama, a Tehachapi teenager who was struck and killed by a DUI driver in 2015, has donated $2,500 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, following the settlement of her wrongful death lawsuit.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the law firm that represented mother Denise Natividad, matched the donation. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

“When we became victims of a DUI crime, MADD Kern County became our advocate and worked hard to make sure we had a voice, and treated our family with compassion,” said Denise Natividad, mother of Leslie Balderrama. “We’re able to give back now and help another local family who unfortunately will have to deal with the aftermath of the actions of a drunk or drugged driver.”

Added Matt Clark, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney for the Natividad family:

“The crash that claimed the life of Leslie Baldarrama was incredibly tragic and 100 percent avoidable like all DUI crashes. Our law firm is honored to continue to help MADD Kern County, and it’s touching to know that Leslie’s family feels the same way.”

The $5,000 will go toward the fourth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, MADD Kern County’s annual event that raises funds to help innocent victims of local DUI crashes, raises awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and helps fund MADD Kern County programs, including the court advocate program that helped the Natividad family through the criminal trial. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is serving as a presenting sponsor for the event.

“Our wish is to get to a point where MADD Kern County’s services aren’t needed,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist with MADD Kern County. “Until then, we’re grateful for the support from Denise Natividad, which helps us continue to advocate for victims, and fight to end drunk and drugged driving in Kern County forever.”

The 2017 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash will be held the morning of Sept. 23 at Park at River Walk. You can help by signing up to walk, run (free kid’s fun run, 5K or 10K), joining as a team captain, donating or volunteering. The family of Leslie Balderrama has formed a team, and will be in attendance. For more information, go to walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,056 DUI arrests in 2016, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Sadly, many impaired drivers weren’t stopped in time, and instead caused major damage to innocent lives.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash at the fault of someone else, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

PREVIOUS MEDIA COVERAGE

Fatal Hit-and-Run

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Sentencing

Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ David Cohn, James Yoro selected to ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ publication

August 16, 2017 | 12:21 pm


Two veteran attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have been recognized in the Best Lawyers in America program, which is the oldest and among the most respected attorney ranking services in the world.

David K. Cohn, managing partner at the law firm, was selected into the personal injury litigation category, while James A. Yoro, senior partner at the firm, was selected into the workers’ compensation law listings.

Attorneys named to “The Best Lawyers in America” are recognized by their peers in the legal industry
for their professional excellence in specific practice areas. For the 2018 edition of The Best
Lawyers in America, more than 7 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in nearly 55,000 leading
lawyers being included in the new edition.

“Best Lawyers believes that the best lawyers know who the best lawyers are,” according to the program’s methodology. “Thus, our recognitions are based purely on the feedback we receive from lawyers already highlighted in our publication.”

David Cohn is one of the most respected lawyers in the Central Valley, having been voted into the “Best Lawyer” category of The Bakersfield Californian’s Readers Choice Poll for the last five years straight. He is a Martindale-Hubbell AV preeminent-rated trial attorney, has been named to the Southern California Super Lawyers list, and was selected to join the International Society of Barristers. Over the course of his career, which spans more than 40 years, Cohn has obtained numerous multi-million dollar results on behalf of his clients, and his cases have led to workplace, roadway and vehicle safety measures.

James Yoro is a Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional in California, and is one of the most veteran and most respected workers’ compensation lawyers in the San Joaquin Valley. He is the president of the Kern County Bar Association. He has argued cases in front of the California Supreme Court, and for nearly 40 years has fought day in and day out for the rights of injured workers.

For more than 30 years, Best Lawyers has assisted those in need of legal services to identify the attorneys best qualified to represent them in distant jurisdictions or unfamiliar specialties. Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Its methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

Attorneys are nominated for consideration. They are divided by geographic region and practice areas, and are evaluated by their peers on the basis of professional expertise. Those who receive high peer reviews undergo an authentication process to make sure they are currently practicing and in good standing. Only then can top attorneys be included in Best Lawyers.

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If you or someone you know is injured on the job, or involved in an accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the Best Lawyers honorees at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Back-to-school tips: For students and parents, getting to and from campus safely should be top priority

August 9, 2017 | 9:24 am


With the close of each summer comes the return of school, including back-to-school shopping, hectic schedules, sports, and seemingly never-ending homework.

In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently helped our local students get in the school spirit as a sponsor of Childspree, which takes hundreds of underprivileged children back-to-school shopping at Kohl’s. The annual program organized by the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club provides students with a backpack full of school supplies and $125 for clothes. Volunteers, including Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys and staff, helped the students pick out new digs.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles takes this time of the year to remind parents and students to keep safety at the top of mind.

“Whether its students who are walking, cycling or taking the bus to school, parents dropping off their children, or other pedestrians and drivers around school campuses, safety should always be the top priority,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We want everyone to arrive to class, and back home, safely.”

Here are a few helpful safety tips for parents and students alike:

 

STROLL TO SCHOOL

  • Map a safe way for your children to walk to school or to the bus stop. Always use sidewalks or walking paths.
  • Check for moving cars at driveways and intersections.
  • Obey all traffic signs and crossing guards.
  • Cross streets safely. Stop at the curb or edge of the street; look left, right, left and behind you for traffic; wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing; keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing; walk and don’t run across the street; and don’t use your phone when crossing the street.
  • Work with other parents in the neighborhood to ensure that children in the neighborhood are supervised closely to and from school. Also, identify “safe houses,” homes of neighbors who your child is familiar with if your child is scared or needs help on the way to and from school.
  • Point out places they should avoid, such as vacant lots, alleyways and construction areas.
  • Encourage your children to use the “buddy system.”
  • Teach children to always be aware of their surroundings. Be aware of slow moving vehicles or parked vehicles that appear to be occupied.
  • Parents should also make sure the child knows his or her phone number, address, how to get in touch with a parent at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult, and how to dial 9-1-1.

 

CYCLING TO CLASS

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Ride in the direction of traffic.
  • Watch for opening car doors.
  • Wear bright clothing to help drivers see you.
  • Install reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes.
  • Install lights on the front and back of your bike.

 

WHEELS ON THE BUS

If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand back from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Other safety tips include:

  • Wait to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has signaled to get on.
  • Tell children they should only board their bus, and never an alternate one.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.

For more school bus safety information, check out this previous Blogging for Justice blog post on the subject.

 

DRIVING

If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

If a teenager is driving to school, parents should mandate that he or she use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.

As for parents and other drivers, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Obey the traffic laws.
  • Follow the ingress and egress patterns at your school.
  • If you want to avoid an unpleasant interaction with law enforcement, leave early, follow the rules of the road and be courteous.
  • If you want to walk your child to his or her classroom, park off-site so you are not creating a traffic jam.
  • Drivers should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean and be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down – especially in residential areas and school zones. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
  • Pull into a passenger loading zone for drop-off. If there is no passenger loading zone or any space available, park in a legal parking space farther away.
  • Drop your child off at the curb on the school side of the street rather than crossing into incoming traffic or having your child run across the street.
  • Don’t park in the loading zone or in a school bus zone. Also, never double park; this creates an unsafe situation for children who are often difficult to see between cars.

For more school-related safety tips — including at school safety and bullying prevention advice — visit a previous Chain | Cohn | Stiles blog post here.

— Alyssa Wood for Chain | Cohn | Stiles contributed to this article

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If you or someone you know is injured to and from school at the fault of someone else, contact the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files lawsuit against Bakersfield convalescent hospital after patient’s fall, death

August 2, 2017 | 8:03 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a lawsuit against Valley Convalescent Hospital in Bakersfield on behalf of the family of an 80-year-old patient who died as a result of neglect at the facility.

Robert Hopkins fell from his bed in February while housed at the facility after a nursing assistant failed to ensure a guard rail was properly set. He suffered a fracture in his vertebrae below the skull, spent a week in the hospital, returned to Valley Convalescent Hospital on Feb. 28, and died the following day.

The California Department of Public Health determined Hopkins’ death was a result of his fall. The Department fined the facility $100,000 and it received the most severe penalty under California law (Class AA Citation). Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed an elder neglect and wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Hopkins’ family.

“The purpose of filing this lawsuit is to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring again in the future,” said attorney Neil K. Gehlawat. Chain | Cohn | Stiles announced the filing of the lawsuit during a press conference, streamed live by KERO-23, ABC. “Valley Convalescent and other skilled nursing facilities need to understand that if they drop the ball when it comes to patient safety, there will be consequences, and those consequences will be severe.”

Valley Convalescent Hospital has had a long history of complaints for elder abuse and neglect. Since 2012, the California Department of Public Health has recorded nine complaints of patients falling, and has taken action against the facility 15 times since 2006, according to reports. Valley Convalescent has been fined more than $160,000 since 2003. This year, it has received eight complaints, and the Department has found 28 deficiencies, reports show.

The family of Robert Hopkins hopes to prevent future similar incidents in Kern County. The Hopkins family is being represented by Neil K. Gehlawat and Felicia Schoepfer-Altmiller of Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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VALLEY CONVALESCENT FINES, PENALTIES COVERAGE

LAWSUIT MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles celebrates 43rd Philippine Weekend in Delano

July 26, 2017 | 9:30 am


For 42 years, thousands of people from all around Kern County and the world have come together in the northern Kern County city of Delano to celebrate the vibrant Filipino history and culture during Philippine Weekend. And the 43rd year looks to continue to add to the rich memories and traditions that come with the annual event.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to be a sponsor of the Philippine Weekend once again this year, and are looking forward to celebrate the various contests, fiestas and tournaments that are in store. Here are a few details for just a few of the festivities you can join:

Activities for the Whole Family  

  • Adobo Cook-Off: A competition highlighting the powerful flavors of the very popular Filipino dish will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 28, at Cecil Avenue Park. Workers’ compensation* lawyer James Yoro will be a judge once again this year. Yoro, who has been a lawyer with Chain | Cohn | Stiles for 35 years, this year became the first president of Filipino descent of the Kern County Bar Association.
  • Grand Parade: A parade full of floats, bands, marching groups, and car and bike clubs will celebrate the rich Filipino history throughout downtown Delano at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 29.
  • Barrio Fiesta: The Barrio Fiesta brings together some of the values that Filipino people hold dear: pageantry, laughter, relationships and drama. It will feature food vendors and entertainment from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30, at Cecil Avenue Park.
  • Basketball Tournament: This is the event that started the Philippine Weekend celebration in 1974. The tournament will not only feature teams from around the city and Central Valley, but also teams from around California. The tournament will run from July 29 through July 31 at Delano and Cesar Chavez High School.
  • More Activities: For a full schedule, click here or go to philippineweekend.org.

The Man Behind the Weekend

Many, if not all, of the events that take place during the Philippine Weekend carry the spirit and character of Dr. Jose Rizal. Rizal is the Filipino national hero, who had dreams and beliefs so strong that he was able to bring forth the dreams and beliefs of Filipinos around the nation. When he died, his drive and determination became infectious to all the Filipino people.

This weekend blends the elder traditions that were born in the Philippines with the traditions that are being created in America.

The different contests that have come about during these weekends provide respect, sportsmanship, and growth throughout the Filipino community. The realization of the different contests and celebrations would not be possible if it wasn’t for the hardworking people whose dreams and beliefs were as strong as Dr. Jose Rizal.

A Cause for Good 

Philippine Weekend started in 1974 as a humble basketball tournament designed to pass on the rich traditions of Filipino culture. Fast forward to today, and Philippine Weekenden compasses a dozen events that span over the course of three days and draws massive crowds.

Community volunteering and local business sponsorships like the ones from Chain | Cohn | Stiles are the backbone for the Philippine Weekend, itself a nonprofit organization. These sponsorships allow the different events from the weekend to expand and improve with each year. They also provide graduating high school students with scholarships towards their college education.

Make sure to look for Chain | Cohn | Stiles in Philippine Weekend program books, website, souvenir book, and media coverage throughout the week.

— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know if hurt in an accident or injured at work, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

What cities in America have the worst drivers, and where does Bakersfield rank?

July 19, 2017 | 9:11 am


Where are the worst drivers in America?

The answer, unfortunately, appears to be in California, where a recent survey found five cities in the state listed in the top 10 cities with the worst drivers. Bakersfield ranked No. 10.

QuoteWizard, an auto insurance comparison company, analyzed 2016 statistics from the 75 most populous metro areas in the United States and calculated incident averages that included accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, and traffic citations, like running a red light and using a cellphone while driving.

No. 1 on the list was Sacramento, while Riverside (No. 3), San Diego (No. 5) and Los Angeles (No. 6) rounded out the California cities in the top 10 cities with the worst drivers.

In December, QuoteWizard ranked the worst drivers by state, and determined California to be No. 2, behind Utah. California was No. 7 for accidents, No. 9 for speeding, No. 5 for citations, and No. 2 for DUIs.

This matters for all drivers, according to insurance experts, because the saturation of bad drivers on roadways has the ability to affect how much you pay for car insurance each month. Living in one of the worst driving cities can see your insurance rates go up, while living in one of the best driving cities can help you save money on your auto insurance.

A spokesperson for QuoteWizard stated that Southern California has a high percentage of DUI arrests, and that could very well be because of the state’s law enforcement’s strong stance against drunk driving.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been a long-time advocate for safe driving and for sharing the road — that goes for other drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists alike.

The law firm for years has been deeply involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kern County, as well as other safety groups including Bike Bakersfield. The law firm also regularly publishes safety tips on a variety of issues on this blog, Blogging for Justice.

For this article, Chain | Cohn | Stiles provides a few driving tips below to help you eliminate distracted driving, reduce traffic violations, and keep Kern County roadways as safe as possible:

  • Keep your cell phone on silent, and put in a place where you won’t be able to access it while driving.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and what other drivers around you are doing.
  • If you’re too tired to drive, find a place to stop so you can get rest before driving again.
  • If you need to eat and drink, make sure that you pull over to the side of the road.
  • Make sure that loose items in your car are secured so that they don’t startle you if they fall.
  • Never drive a vehicle if you’re under the influence of alcohol. Make sure that you have a driver who has not consumed alcohol, or use a service like Lyft or Uber who will be able to take you back to your home safely.

— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash due to the fault of another driver, please call the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000 for a free consultation on your case, or visit chainlaw.com.

The death of Benjamin Greene and the legal issues surrounding it

July 12, 2017 | 10:06 am


On June 20, 2017, local lawyer Benjamin Greene collapsed and died while running in a 5K run at Hart Park. Temperatures were soaring in Bakersfield during the race, hovering around 107 degrees.

Immediately, civil liability and legal questions arose, and local media contacted the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles for expert legal opinions.

Questions circled around waivers distributed to all runners by Bakersfield Track Club, water and hydration stations available during the event, aid stations and medical care on site, “assumption of risk,” gross negligence, and more.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury lawyer Matthew Clark was interviewed by The Bakersfield Californian about the incident. Clark stated it was too early to come to any hard and fast conclusions about the circumstances behind the tragedy — Greene left behind a wife and nine children.

Legally speaking, Clark said, it was important to explore two major areas in investigating the question of civil liability: the waiver ostensibly signed by each 5K participant, and a legal doctrine known as “assumption of risk.”

“Was there a waiver?” Clark stated in The Bakersfield Californian. “Was it signed for that event, that date? Did it have all the right language?”

According to the track club’s website, the waiver reads as follows:

“In consideration of this entry acceptance, I hereby for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, waive all of my rights for damages I may have against the County of Kern, the Bakersfield Track Club, the race sponsors, or any individual associated with the above and for all injuries sustained by me in this event. I attest and verify that I am physically fit and have sufficiently trained for this race.”

KERO-23, ABC News interviewed Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat, also discussed the waiver issue in relation to the “assumption of risk doctrine,” which looks at whether a person knows the inherent risks and dangers for participation. Greene posted on Facebook before the race that he was nervous about the race, and his preparedness.

On KERN Radio 1180, Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David Cohn told host Richard Beene that the No. 1 factor in determining the liability is the cause of death, as well as the waiver issue. The Kern County Coroner’s Office has not yet released the cause of death.

— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles lawyer Neil Gehlawat named to 2017 Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list

July 5, 2017 | 2:11 pm


Neil Gehlawat, attorney and partner at the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has been named to the 2017 Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list by Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine, the publication announced.

This is Gehlawat’s second straight year of earning the “Rising Stars” distinction, which is granted to just 2.5 percent of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region.

Each year, the Super Lawyers selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. According to the program, Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a multi-phase selection process where each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. The objective of the recognition program is “to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners David Cohn, James Yoro and Matthew Clark have also been chosen for the Super Lawyer list for those attorneys over the age of 40. This distinction is awarded to no more than 5 percent of lawyers in the Southern California region based on a high-degree of peer recognition and personal achievement. Non-Rising Stars Super Lawyers awardees are announced each January.

As part of the honor, those selected are highlighted in issues of Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine alongside other awarded legal professionals. They also receive profiles on superlawyers.com, which you can see by clicking here.

You can see Gehlawat’s mention in the magazine by clicking here.

All four partners at Chain | Cohn | Stiles were selected as Southern California Super Lawyers last year. For this achievement, the law firm has received a resolution from the California Legislature for the honor, presented by Michael Bowers from Sen. Andy Vidak’s Office, and signed by Vidak, Sen. Jean Fuller, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove and Assemblyman Rudy Salas.

Cohn, Clark and Gehlawat all work in Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury department, focusing on car accident, oilfield accident, civil rights, wrongful termination, wrongful death and other injury and accident cases. Gehlawat also focuses on civil rights, elder abuse and wrongful termination cases. Yoro leads the firm’s workers’ compensation* department.

To learn more about each of the attorneys and their practice areas, visit chainlaw.com.

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If you or someone you know is hurt on the job, or hurt in an accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com for more information.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Tips: Safety with fireworks, sober driving for that perfect Fourth of July

June 30, 2017 | 10:07 am


Each year, the Fourth of July holiday in Kern County brings with it swimming, barbecuing and celebration with fireworks.

Independence Day bears not only fun and excitement, but unfortunately, it also can bring chaos and injury. While enjoying the holiday, individuals must remain aware of possible dangers, and helpful tips, to prevent fireworks-related injury. It’s the reason that National Fireworks Safety Month, observed each July, reminds individuals to remain safe throughout the year when handling various forms of fireworks.

Kern County’s annual Fourth of July celebration is not only full of fireworks-related injuries, but is met with many tragic motor vehicle crashes as well, due to those who make the wrong decision to drive under the influence.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles advises Kern County community members to to read various safety tips below related to fireworks and safe driving.

 

Fireworks Safety 

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks were the cause of an estimated 11,900 injuries in 2015, and of those, an estimated 8,000 fireworks-related injuries (or 67 percent) were during the one-month period between, from June 19 and July 19. To prevent further injuries, the National Council on Fireworks Safety offers some helpful tips:

  • Consumers should purchase fireworks from a reputable company or fireworks stand, check local and state laws for fireworks use in your city, and check all instructions on fireworks packaging before use.
  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never re-light a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water before you discard it.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down, and place them in a metal trashcan away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • Ensure all pets and animals are away from fireworks noise.
  • With the rise in stress-related disorders affecting American servicemen and women, pay special consideration to individuals who may be sensitive to loud noises in proximity to your fireworks show.
  • Report illegal explosives.

The personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles remain proponents of fireworks safety, and in recent years past have represented victims of fireworks accidents and other burn injury cases. In 2014, attorney David Cohn represented two men who suffered from severe injuries caused in a fireworks accident.

Remain aware of local codes and ordinances in Kern County and assist others in the safety of handling fireworks to make the community a safer place, not only throughout National Fireworks Safety Month, but as a permanent preventative measure throughout the year.

For more information and tips on fireworks safety, click here, and for more information regarding illegal fireworks, click here.

The Bakersfield Californian, too, has a handy guide related to fireworks safety specific to Bakersfield and Kern County, called “Fireworks 411.”

 

Drinking and Driving

Not only should those in the community be aware of precautions when handling fireworks, all of Kern County can help make Fourth of July a safer celebration for all by planning ahead. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County urges the community to remain aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, and continuously support the goal to end driving under the influence.

To help prepare for the holiday celebration, MADD has provided various helpful tips:

  • If your plans include alcohol, whether on land or on water, designate a non-drinking driver to make sure celebrations don’t end in tragedy. Call an Uber, take a taxi or public transportation.
  • As a parent, talk to your teens about the dangers of alcohol. Set a firm house rule that there is no drinking under 21 — and that goes for their friends as well.
  • General car safety should be part of the plan: wear your seat belt, don’t speed, and for young drivers, don’t drive with too many passengers. Distractions are dangerous, too.
  • For boating, many road rules apply. The most important one concerns alcohol. If you’re going to operate a boat, don’t drink. It’s illegal; but more importantly, it’s deadly and dangerous.
  • In 2015, 146 were killed in drunk driving crashes over the Fourth of July holiday, representing 36 percent of all traffic fatalities during that period.
  • Drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people and injures 290,000 others each year in the United States, and every single crash is preventable.
  • Law enforcement will be on patrol throughout the Kern County during this holiday weekend, so make sure you, your family and friends don’t drink and drive.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles continues to support MADD Kern County in the ongoing fight against drinking and driving in our community.

 

— By Alyssa Wood for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or at the website chainlaw.com.

How to keep your home safe to avoid common accidents, injuries

June 28, 2017 | 9:31 am


Nearly 150,000 people in the United States died from accidental deaths in 2015, and many of these tragedies happened in the home. Today, unintentional injury-related deaths are an all-time high, according to the National Safety Council. In the home, the accidents include poisonings from prescriptions drugs, falls, drownings, and burns, among others.

For the month of June, during “National Home Safety Month,” Chain | Cohn | Stiles is focusing on proper safety precautions you can take to avoid common accidents and injuries, and make sure you and your families are as safe as possible while at home.

 

Poisoning

While more and more people are being put on prescription pain medications to be treated for injuries, we are also seeing an increase in the amount of people who suffer or die because of accidental drug overdoses.

In 2011, poisonings overtook motor vehicle crashes for the first time as the leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death for all ages combined. In fact, about 2.2 million people calling poison control every single year, and more than 90 percent of all poisonings happen at home. Tragically, every day, 52 people die because of opioids.

For tips on finding where the dangers lurk at home, visit the National Safety Council’s website. And if you need help, call the National Poison Control Center number at (800) 222-1222.

 

Falls

According to Injury Facts, falls are the No.1 cause of injury-related deaths among individuals who are age 65 and older. Approximately 9,500 elderly Americans will fall this year, and among those who fracture a bone, 87 percent of them will fall again within the next 6 months. However, these falls are preventable. Here are some tips, courtesy of “Stand Up to Falls”.

  • Eliminate tripping hazards.
  • Electrical and phone cords should be secured in a non-walking area. All cabinets should be closed when they are not being used.
  • If there is spilled water or drinks in the house, make sure they are cleaned.
  • Finally, make sure you’re not carrying anything heavier than you are able to carry. Have someone help you with heavy items, or take more than one trip for multiple items, like groceries.

For more tips, visit the National Safety Council website.

 

Choking and Suffocation 

Suffocation is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury-related death over all age groups, and choking on food or other objects is a primary cause. Suffocation is also the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for people 87 and older.

If a person is coughing forcefully, encourage continued coughing to clear the object. A person who can’t cough, speak or breathe, however, needs immediate help. Ask if they are choking and let them know you will use abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver, to prevent suffocation. Learn how to do the Heimlich maneuver by clicking here.

If the victim is or becomes unresponsive, lower the person to the ground, expose the chest and start CPR.

Choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for infants, who require a different rescue procedure than adults. Clear the airway, and do the following only if the infant cannot cry, cough or breathe

 

Drowning

About 10 people drown every day, and drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death over all ages. It’s also the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, mostly due to children falling into pools or being left alone in bathtubs.

Fortunately, there are several tips available for children and adults to prevent these tragedies.

For children:

  • Always watch your child while he or she is bathing, swimming or around water
  • Gather everything needed (towel, bath toys and sunscreen) before the child enters the water; if you must leave the area, take the child with you.
  • Do not allow your child to play or swim in canals or streams
  • Install a fence with self-closing gate latches around your pool or hot tub
  • Consider installing door alarms to alert adults when a child has unexpectedly opened a door leading to a pool or hot tub
  • Keep a phone and life preserver near the pool or hot tub in case of emergency
  • Use snug-fitting life jackets instead of floaties, but remember that a child can still drown with a life jacket on if not carefully watched

For adults:

  • Always swim with a buddy
  • Never swim if you have been drinking alcohol or have taken certain medications
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Swim in designated areas with lifeguards

 

Fires and Burns 

Fire is the sixth leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death over all ages. Often, fires start at night, when family members are asleep. A working smoke alarm will cut the chances of dying in a fire in half.

The National Safety Council provides the following tips to keep your home safe from fire:

  • Install smoke alarms (ionization and photoelectric) and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Plan and practice an escape route and agree on a meeting place outside of your home
  • Know two ways out of every room in the home
  • Learn how to use your fire extinguisher
  • If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll
  • When evacuating, if door handles are hot, pick an alternate route
  • Leave your house and call for help; do not go back to help someone else

The U.S. Fire Administration offers these additional tips to keep children safe from fire and burns:

  • Keep children 3 feet away from anything hot, like candles, space heaters and stove-tops
  • Keep smoking materials locked up in a high place; never leave cigarette lighters or matches where children can reach them
  • Never play with lighters or matches when you are with your children; they may try to imitate you

For more ways to stay safe and protected from home emergencies, click here to read previous Blogging for Justice posts related to home safety.

— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident due to the fault of someone else, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles as soon as possible at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.