5 notable case results from 2016 include motorcycle accident, civil rights, car accident cases

January 18, 2017 | 10:16 am


With 2017 just beginning, we wanted to take a look back at some noteworthy case results Chain | Cohn | Stiles obtained for the people of Kern County in their accident, wrongful death and workers’ compensation* cases.

 

$10 million — Motorcycle Accident 

In June 2014, 27-year-old John Doe was riding his motorcycle in the Oildale area. At that same moment, Doe Defendant was driving a mobile crane while in the course and scope of his employment with Doe Crane Company. He pulled out of a driveway and directly into the path of John Doe’s motorcycle, who was unable to avoid the collision. As a result, John Doe suffered catastrophic injuries, and after undergoing surgical procedures, he lost his right leg. Later, the plaintiff complained of impaired memory, concentration and behavioral alterations, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, pain, weakness and numbness in all extremities, and phantom leg pain.

David K. Cohn of Chain | Cohn | Stiles represented John Doe.

The law firm argued that the crane company negligently entrusted, supervised, and trained the driver, and also did not properly maintain the property, which created a dangerous condition that blocked views of employees from exiting the facility. Additionally, the company failed to terminate the driver, who had a blood alcohol level of .02 or above.

In early 2016, Chain | Cohn | Stiles settled the motorcyclist accident case for $10 million.

 

$3.4 million — Civil Rights / Wrongful Death

On the night of May 7, 2013, David Sal Silva fell asleep in front of a home in east Bakersfield, across from Kern Medical Center. Several law enforcement officers arrived on scene and proceeded to use unreasonable and excessive force in striking Silva with batons several times all over his body, while he screamed for his life and repeatedly begged the officers to stop.

After being repeatedly beaten, bitten and hog-tied, Silva stopped breathing. And shortly after midnight, Silva was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

These events and those that followed after this night made international news, including the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles on behalf of Silva’s family in 2013. Attorneys Neil Gehlawat and David Cohn represented the family.

On Wednesday, May 4, 2016, a settlement was reached by Silva’s family for $3.4 million. To read a full chronology of events from the case, click here.

 

$2.25 million — Car Accident 

Ms. Vargas was riding as a passenger in a car when a 2004 Ford Escape rear-ended her vehicle while stopped at a stop sign in Porterville, and suffered severe injuries as a result. The driver of the Ford Escape was in the course and scope of her employment with defendant VNZ Payroll Services.

Matthew Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles represented Vargas, who suffered severe personal injuries including fractured acetabulum, facial lacerations and scars, neck and back pain and a traumatic brain injury, confirmed by CT and MRI studies.

In July, Chain | Cohn | Stiles settled Vargas’ car accident case for $2.25 million.

 

$1.5 million — Rear-End / Car Accident 

Ms. Contreras was on her way home from a family function when she stopped at a red light at 24th Street approaching Buck Owens Boulevard. At that time, she was rear-ended by Stephen Domingue, who was in Bakersfield on business for Mason Specialty Tools, LLC.

The force of the impact was sufficient to push Contreras’ vehicle in the rear end of the vehicle in front of her. Domingue was found to be at fault by the Bakersfield Police Department for unsafe speed for prevailing conditions. As a result of the collision, Contreras suffered personal injuries, including traumatic disc herniation, and retained Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

The accident exacerbated Contreras’ lumbar spine disease and hastened the need for surgery and the need for early medical retirement. Doctors advised she would have some pain and limitations for the rest of her life. In 2016, Chain | Cohn | Stiles resolved her personal injury case for $1.5 million.

 

$1 million — Police Misconduct / Sexual Abuse  

This case arises out of the sexual assault of plaintiff Jane Doe in her Tehachapi home by Defendant Gabriel Lopez while in the course and scope of his employment with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the County of Kern. Lopez is currently serving time in prison for the acts committed against plaintiff (and another victim).

As a result of the sexual assault, plaintiff suffered and continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. She did not feel comfortable discussing the incident for approximately one year after the incident due to feelings of embarrassment and repression. Plaintiff’s expert psychologist has diagnosed her with PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder, based on her interviews with Plaintiff and psychological testing conducted.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles represented the sexual assault victim, and in 2016 resolved her case for $1 million.

———

For more results and case information, visit the Chain | Cohn | Stiles website at 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.

These results do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.

New Year, new laws in California for safer streets

December 28, 2016 | 11:51 am


In California, the New Year also means new laws.

And for 2017, several new transportation-related laws, and changes to existing laws, are taking effect starting Jan. 1. Many of them are aimed to keep drivers safer on our streets, including addressing the use cell phones in cars, child safety seats, and motorcycle lane splitting.

The accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles wanted to share some of these changes ahead of the New Year. Learn a little more about them below here, courtesy of the California Department of Motor Vehicles:

Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (AB 1785): Driving a motor vehicle while holding and operating a cellphone will be prohibited, unless the device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield or is affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console where it does not block the driver’s view of the road. According to the Sacramento Bee, “the law is designed to stop people from holding their phones for a variety of uses that have become popular in recent years, including checking and posting on Facebook, using Snapchat, scrolling through Spotify or Pandora playlists, typing addresses into the phone’s mapping system, or making videos and taking photos.”

A recent California Office of Traffic Safety study found that one out of eight drivers pays as much attention to his or her smartphone as on the road. Distracted driving accounts for some 80 percent of crashes.

Child Safety Seats (AB 53): This law requires a parent, legal guardian, or the driver of a motor vehicle to properly secure a child who is younger than 2 years of age in an appropriate rear-facing child passenger restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches in height.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting (AB 51): This law defines “lane splitting” as driving a two-wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The law authorizes the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting to help ensure the safety of all motorists. CHP would have to consult with safety agencies and organizations to craft the guidelines for motorcycle lane splitting.

DUI ‘Ignition’ Interlock Devices (SB 1046): This bill extends a pilot program that requires most convicted DUI drivers to install ignition interlock devices, which prevent them from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. Under the law, the DUI offender is able to obtain a restricted driver’s license, have their license reissued, or get their motor vehicle privileges reinstated on the condition that they install a device in their vehicle for a prescribed amount of time. The bill extends the pilot program in four California counties — Kern County not being one of them — before it expands to the entire state on Jan. 1, 2019.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is actively involved with Mother Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

Accident Reporting (SB 491): This law increases the minimum financial threshold for property damage that is required to be reported to the DMV from $750 to $1,000 when a driver is involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Vehicle Safety Recalls (AB 287): This law, called the Consumer Automotive Recall Safety (CARS) Act, requires the DMV to include a general advisory regarding vehicle recalls and needed repairs on each vehicle registration renewal notice. This law also bans a dealer or a rental car company from renting or loaning a vehicle with a manufacturer’s recall until the vehicle has been repaired.

Installing Counterfeit or Nonfunctional Air Bags (AB 2387): This law prohibits knowingly and intentionally manufacturing, importing, installing, reinstalling, distributing, or selling any device intended to replace an air bag system in any motor vehicle if the device is a counterfeit or nonfunctional air bag system, or does not meet federal safety requirements. This violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or up to a one year in county jail.

———

If you or someone you know is involved in a motor vehicle accident at the fault of another, please call the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Don’t snooze on the dangers of driving while drowsy

November 9, 2016 | 9:05 am


It’s a fact — driving drowsy is dangerous.

It’s estimated that 300,000 crashes every year involve drowsy driving, which also contributes to up to 6,400 deaths per year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The National Sleep Foundation is raising awareness of the danger of driving while drowsy, and educating drivers on sleep safety in an effort to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes and to ultimately save lives.

The annual Drowsy Driving Prevention Week campaign provides public education about the under-reported risks of driving while drowsy and countermeasures to improve safety on the road. And nearly one in four adults in the United States say they know someone personally who has fallen asleep at the wheel.

“Drowsiness impairs driving performance and reaction time,” said William Horrey, research scientist at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, in The Detroit News. “When our brains are tired, our attention, judgment and ability to act are greatly impacted, which has the potential for disaster on the road, particularly if there’s inclement weather or a critical situation requiring quick response.”

In fact, a new study by AAA showed that drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving, and that one in five fatal crashes is caused because a driver involved did not have enough sleep.

 

Drowsy Driving Safety 

So what can you do to prevent drowsy driving? Chain | Cohn | Stiles, with the help of National Sleep Foundation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests the following:

  • Get enough sleep before you drive. It’s recommended adult get seven to nine hours of sleep per day.
  • If you’re planning a long road trip, make sure you plan properly for rest stops — a break every 100 miles or every two hours on the road is suggested.
  • Also, try to travel during times you are normally awake.
  • If you have been up for 24 hours or more, do not drive. Period.
  • Drink caffeine if you feel sleepy, and see how you feel first before getting behind the wheel.
  • If you feel too sleepy, find someplace safe to take a nap or sleep, or stay the night somewhere. After, you’ll feel energized and ready to drive!

“If you’re tired, please don’t get behind the wheel. Think of your safety and your passengers, but also of the safety of others on the road,” said Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David K. Cohn. “And if you get tired while driving, please pull over and find a safe place to sleep.”

The Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm recently resolved a wrongful death lawsuit in which a driver fell asleep at wheel, jumped a curb and struck a jogger as he ran on the sidewalk. The jogger was also a husband and father of a little girl. That case settled for $6 million.

 

Drowsy Driving Research 

SleepJunkie, a website focused on improving sleeping habits, recently conducted a study to understand which roads, states, and times of day have the most sleep-related fatalities. The website analyzed six years of fatal driving accidents from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data to illustrate the deadly effects of driving while drowsy.

The study found that drowsy driving-related roadway fatalities spike in the early morning hours, with 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., marking the deadliest span. The hours just before and after — 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. — were the second and third most fatal times. This dispels the myth that the threat of falling asleep at the wheel happens most in the nighttime hours.

Busy interstates accounted for the most sleep-related driving deaths compared to other roadways. Utility vehicles were involved in the highest percentage of fatal sleepy-driver accidents with pickup trucks and vans next on the list, the study found. Dawn light and foggy skies contributed the most to fatal sleep-related accidents.

Three of the top five most dangerous counties for fatal drowsy-driving accidents were in California, although Kern County was not one of them. They included San Bernardino County, Riverside County and Los Angeles County.

———

If you or someone you know is hurt in a motor vehicle accident — whether it’s in a car, truck, bicycle, while walking or by a big rig — call the injury and accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Teenage driving is as dangerous as ever. What you can do to make sure they’re safe

April 20, 2016 | 8:53 am


Over the years, cars have gotten safer and so have our roadways. In fact, they’re the safest they’ve ever been in the history of automobiles. It’s no wonder that the number of motor vehicle crash fatalities in the United States has continued to decline since 2006, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But for teenage drivers in the United States, driving is as dangerous as ever.

Auto accidents are the No. 1 killer of American teenagers — more so than suicide, cancer and other types of accidents, according to The New York Times. On average, six teenagers died each day from injuries related to auto accidents in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are some notes to keep in mind that could help make sure your teenager gets from point A to point B safe and sound (courtesy of the New York Times):

  • Friends: Adding one non-family passenger to a car with a teenage driver increases the rate of accidents by 44 percent. Add a second non-family passenger, and that rate doubles, and add three or more passengers and it quadruples. As the NY Times, states: “Your cellphone isn’t encouraging your teen to go 80 in a 50, or 100 in a 70.”
  • Alcohol, Night Driving: Nearly a third of teenagers killed in car accidents had been drinking, according to U.S. Department of Transportation. Late-night driving significantly increased the risk, too.
  • Smartphones: It’s no secret that texting and phone usage can be a big distraction for teenagers at any time, but using smartphone while driving can be deadly. Even with hands-free equipment that is readily available in new cars, having your eyes on the road while your mind is elsewhere can negatively impact driver awareness. (FYI: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month).
  • Safety Technology: New car safety technology tools are no-doubt helping save lives. Features including forward-collision warnings, lane-keeping assist, and automatic braking have all led to declines in teenage driving deaths and injuries in recent years. It may be worth the extra payment to get the best safety features in a new car.
  • Parents: Parents are not doing enough to supervise their children, and chances are teenage drivers are not driving as safely as parents may think. The more a parent is involved when a teenager is learning to drive, the lower their chances are for a crash.

———

If you or someone you know is involved and injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles right away (661-323-4000). And remember to take the following 3 steps if you have been involved in an automobile accident:

  • 1) Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number (VIN) and driver’s license number of any and all persons involved in the accident, as well as the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
  • 2) Make sure that a report is filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol, but do not talk to anyone else, especially insurance adjusters, about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney.
  • 3) Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.

Testimonial videos: Former clients speak about their experience at Chain | Cohn | Stiles

February 17, 2015 | 10:41 am


The attorneys and staff at Chain | Cohn | Stiles take pride in their unwavering commitment to all clients.

When handling sensitive cases with distraught clients, the law firm employees take it upon themselves to treat clients not simply as case numbers, but as their own loved ones in times of need. As such, attorneys and staff answer all questions and concerns in a timely manner while making sure every client is aware of his or her legal options. It’s no wonder most new clients to the law firm come at the recommendation of former clients, and referrals.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles invites you to view real testimonials from clients who have retained the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers to represent them in times of hardship. Recently, several former clients were interviewed on camera to share their experience at the Bakersfield-based law firm. Meet them here:

CINDEE

Cindee suffered major injuries when she was involved in a car accident due to the fault of another driver. While she lay in the hospital, Cindee’s husband called the law firm. Chain | Cohn | Stiles lawyer Matt Clark visited her in the hospital, took the case, and received a substantial settlement for Cindee and her family.

“It’s an emotional journey to go through, but it’s very nice to know that you have somebody like Matt Clark representing you, and he’s going to take care of things so that you can get on with your life. So that you can get back, and enjoy your family, and get well and get back to work.”

Watch Cindee’s video testimonial here.

JOE

A pick-up truck pulled in front of Joe as he rode his motorcycle to work, which caused him to lose control, fly off the motorcycle and suffer major injuries. Chain | Cohn | Stiles came to his aid.

“There was never a time I didn’t have a question answered … If indeed I needed them again, they would be the ones to talk to,” Joe said. “If they take your case, they’re taking it for a reason.”

Watch Joe’s video testimonial here.

DOLORES 

Dolores was carrying a box while working when she slipped, fell and injured herself. She hired an attorney outside of Bakersfield, who was unable to help her in her case. Later, she hired Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

“They always communicated everything,” she said in Spanish. “If you call them with any question, they’ll always call you back as soon as possible. And we won our case, thank God.”

Watch Dolores’ video testimonial in Spanish here.

LOREEN

Loreen was injured when the car she was driving was crashed into by an uninsured motorist. She chose an attorney from the phone book, who was unable to help her in her case over two years. Eventually, she discussed her situation with Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ David Cohn, who took Loreen’s case.

“Within just months, it was completely settled,” she said.

Watch Loreen’s video testimonial here.

MARILYN

Marilyn was driving home when she was involved in a car accident, and suffered major injuries. Her husband called Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which took her case.

“They made me feel comfortable,” Mariyln said. “They reassured me that I didn’t need to worry about it.”

Watch Marilyn’s video testimonial here.

———-

To read more client testimonials, visit the Client Testimonials page here. And to watch more videos, visit the Media Center page here.

CCS on The Groove: Is there a time limit to obtain attorney help following an accident?

November 12, 2014 | 8:50 am


“If I’m injured in an auto accident, and maybe at that time I don’t think I’m hurt, how long do I have to obtain some legal advice or an attorney like yourself?”

That’s the questioned posed by DJ Sheri Ortiz recently on The Groove 99.3 to accident attorney Marshall Frasher, associate with the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Frasher appeared on the Buckley Radio station show to give advice to listeners on what they should do if they’re ever involved in a car accident.

“What we generally recommend is for people to contact our office as soon as they can after an accident,” Frasher said. “It’s pretty important.”

You can listen to the full segment here:

The reason for contacting an attorney quickly, Frasher shared with listeners, is to make sure the person who is injured knows what their rights are with regards to contacting the an insurance company and making sure they know what to do or what to say in those situations.

Many times, accident victims go to the hospital for treatment, and once they are released they have to handle potential property damage claims. This involved speaking with insurance companies and adjusters — conversations that can be vital to potential cases, Frasher said. Sometimes, accident victims can hurt their cases depending on what they say to adjusters.

“It’s very important that people understand what their rights are before they start talking to a claims adjuster,” Frasher said. “It’s always good to know what your options are, and to know that there is help available to you at an early junction in the case so that you can get a good recovery.”

As stated in the Chain | Cohn | Stiles website dedicated to assisting victims, automobile accident victims may be entitled to compensation from the negligent party’s insurance company and/or by your own insurance company if the negligent driver was uninsured or underinsured. It’s important to take the following three steps if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident:

  • Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number and driver’s license number of any and all people involved in the accident, as well as all witnesses.
  • Make sure that a report is filed with the law enforcement officers, but do not talk to anyone else (especially insurance adjusters) about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney.
  • Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.

If you are involved in an accident, contact the accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com. For help related to car accidents specifically, go here.

To listen to more tips and advice by lawyers on The Groove, go here.

Trick or Treat? No matter the choice, practice safety this Halloween

October 30, 2014 | 6:55 am


Trick or treat?!

No matter which one you and your family chooses this Halloween, make sure you take proper safety precautions. Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office reminds children and adults to keep the Halloween tradition fun by remembering to be safe.

“There is no real trick to making Halloween a treat for the whole family, but following safety tips and using common sense can help you make the most of your Halloween season,” the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The most common dangers on Halloween are falls and vehicle-pedestrian collisions and crashes. Another major concern is identifying candy that has been tampered with, which children are given.

Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for young pedestrians, with twice as many deaths as on a typical day, USA Today reported, according to State Farm. Most at risk are kids ages 12 to 18.

Drunken drivers, too, are another hazard for everyone walking the streets. The share of fatal crashes involving drunken drivers rises from the usual 30 percent to nearly 50 on Halloween, USA Today highlighted. About 20 percent of pedestrian deaths on Halloween involve a drunken driver.

Here are several tips provided by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and Chain | Cohn | Stiles to help make Halloween safe and fun:

Parents

  • Know the route your children will be taking if you aren’t going with them.
  • Make sure you set a time for them to be home. Have your children eat a good dinner before going out.
  • Make sure your children are properly supervised while out.
  • Make sure they trick or treat in a group if you are not with them.
  • Children 12 years and younger should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Tell your children to never go into a stranger’s house.
  • Tell your children to stay out of the street while walking.
  • Choose a costume that is brightly colored and easy to see in the dark.
  • Carefully inspect all food and candy before letting your child eat it (when in doubt, throw it out).

 Trick or Treaters

  • Carry a flashlight.
  • Stay on sidewalks.
  • Cross the street at intersections, never run out from behind a parked car.
  • Stay in familiar neighborhoods.
  • Make sure your costume fits you well.
  • Only approach houses that are well lit.
  • Walk from house to house, don’t run.
  • Never take shortcuts, such as alleyways or empty fields.
  • Don’t eat anything until your parents have had a chance to inspect it.

Children should also know the basics, such as their phone number and address in case of an emergency, and how to react if a stranger tries to approach them. If your child is late returning home or you cannot locate your child, immediately call 9-1-1 and report it to local law enforcement.

Pets 

Calls to animal poison control centers go up at Halloween, according to USA Today. Chocolate contains a compound that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even seizures and death in dogs. Raisins and the artificial sweeteners can also sicken dogs.

  • It’s best to keep all sorts of human treats stashed away.
  • Don’t feel the need to dress up pets in costumes. Pet costumes can cause stress in some pets, and some dogs might try to chew the unwanted costumes off their backs.

Adults

If you are planning on attending a Halloween party, consider the following:

  • In 2012, 23 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween involved a drunk driver.
  • In 2012, 48 percent of all traffic fatalities on Halloween resulted from a DUI-related accident.
  • Children are two times as likely to be hit and killed by a vehicle while walking on Halloween.
  • Drinking violations for criminal offenders increase by about 25 percent when Halloween is on a Friday.

And if you or a loved one are involved in an accident during Halloween, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are experts in pedestrian and car accident cases. Reach them 24 hours a day at 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com.

Make safety a priority for ‘National School Bus Safety Week’

October 21, 2014 | 9:39 am


Each day, thousands of buses leave their stations to pick up and carry some of our nation’s most precious cargo. It’s important other drivers on the road are extra careful when driving around these vehicles.

Schools across the country this week are recognizing “National School Bus Safety Week,” held this year from Oct. 20 to 24. And school and public safety officials are urging everyone — including parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus drivers, school administrator and others — to make safety a priority this week.

The Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, too, is promoting safety around Kern County school buses.

School buses continue to be the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In fact, students are 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends. And according to the National Safety Council, school buses are 172 times safer than the family car.

Still, accidents involving school buses can happen. Studies have proven that the most dangerous part of the school bus ride for children is when they get on and off the bus, according to the California School Employees Association (CSEA), which receives law firm benefits through the Group Law Services program with Chain | Cohn | Stiles. CSEA, which represents more than 8,500 school bus drivers and other transportation workers, is a leader in advocating for student safety in California, including sponsoring the 1968 law that requires all buses to carry the “Stop when Red Lights Flash” sign.

Here are school bus safety-related tips for all motorists can take into account:

Parents and Children

  • If your child rides the school bus, walk with him or her to the bus stop and wait until the school bus arrives.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least six feet away and wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Never walk behind the bus. If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Don’t try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

Motorists

  • Learn and obey the school bus laws in California. Learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions.
  • Yellow flashing lights mean that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms mean that the bus has stopped, and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop and wait for red lights to stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
  • Be mindful of pedestrians crossing at intersections or crosswalks and slowdown in school zones and residential areas, especially for children playing and gathering near bus stops.
  • Never overtake a school bus, unless you are traveling on a highway or interstate with multiple lanes.
  • Don’t be a distracted driver. You endanger your own life and the lives of others. Your call, text or email can wait.

For more school safety-related tips from Chain | Cohn | Stiles, visit the “Safety Alerts” section here. And if you or your loved one is ever involved in an accident, call the accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website, chainlaw.com.

CCS on The Groove: The importance of having uninsured motorist coverage

September 29, 2014 | 11:23 am


What should you do when you’re in a car accident, the other driver is at fault, and he or she has little or no auto insurance?

Knowing what to do when you are in a auto accident can be difficult, especially with complex insurance policies involved. If the driver at fault does not have insurance, or very little, you may have a difficult time obtaining compensation for damages suffered in the accident.

That’s why it’s important for you to purchase an insurance policy that includes coverage for “uninsured motorists” and “under-insured motorists.”

Bakersfield car accident attorney Matt Clark recently appeared on The Groove 99.3 (KKBB) with Sheri Ortiz to discuss the issue, and give advice to listeners on insurance policies.

You can listen to the two segments here:

As personal injury lawyer at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Clark represents a lot of people who are involved in auto accidents. Many times, he receives calls from people who have been injured by someone to didn’t have any insurance at the time of the accident.

Due to the accident, the injured client has had to miss work and has medical bills to pay, for example.

“What do you do to protect yourself?” Clark asked listeners on The Groove. “When you buy insurance, one of the cheapest things you can buy is uninsured motorist coverage. You want to have limits that can cover you in case someone hits you.”

Clark recommends motorist purchase a $100,000 over $300,000 auto insurance policy at a minimum to protect yourself. The policy allows you to collect from your insurance company to recoup your damages that exceed the responsible party’s limits.

“It’s not expensive to get that coverage and it protects you,” Clark said.

The uninsured and under-insured policies also cover you and your family in the case of an accident while walking, running, or riding a bike — you don’t have to be behind the wheel to take advantage of the policies, Clark said.

It’s important to note, Clark said, that many times, drivers have to specifically ask their insurance policy companies that uninsured and under-insured be added to policies.

While on the air, Clark and Ortiz received a call from a woman who was involved and injured in an auto accident, after the other driver ran a red light, she said. She took advantage of her uninsured motorist policy, which helped her out tremendously, she said.

“It’s definitely important,” Amanda said on the show. “I had uninsured motorist, and I will never get insurance without uninsured motorist ever again. Without having uninsured motorist, you’re going to be stuck.”

Added Clark: “It’s my job as a lawyer to make sure that my clients are fairly compensated, not only for the injuries they have right now, but for the injuries they may have in the future.”

Filing an uninsured motorist claim can often include complex legal issues that require the assistance of a lawyer experienced in dealing with insurance companies. The lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles can help. Call for a free consultation at 661-323-4000, or visit the personal injury and workers compensation* website Chainlaw.com.

To learn more about uninsured motorist policies and their importance, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on 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 values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

CCS represents victim in DUI hit-and-run crash involving Kern County worker

July 15, 2014 | 9:33 am


The Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are representing the victim of a car accident involving a Kern County worker who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and fled the scene after the collision.

CCS lawyer Matt Clark is the lead attorney on the case, which has been followed closely by local media. He spoke with KERO-23 (ABC) about the case, and also The Bakersfield Californian. See the news segment here, and read the article here.

Local law enforcement authorities say Erik Webb, a worker with the county of Kern, rear-ended another vehicle while in a county-issued truck on July 1, at the 4100 block of Union Avenue near Columbus Street. After the crash, Webb gathered his belongings from the truck and fled the scene, according to police reports.

He was later caught and arrested by law enforcement. Webb remained in Kern County jail until he sobered up, and was then cited and released. Webb was charged with a DUI and hit-and-run resulting in property damage, records from the Kern County Superior Court show.

Representatives from the county of Kern told local media that Webb went into work the day after the crash and told his supervisor what happened, and he was sent home. Webb was also suspended with pay. Webb was placed on administrative leave, and he was not assigned another vehicle.

Photos obtained by Eyewitness News show a crushed Ford F-150 badly damaged in a Kern County yard.

Clark on Monday spoke with KERO-23 news about the case on Monday, speaking on behalf of the injured victim. Police reports show that Webb also told authorities he had been “messing” with his phone prior to the crash. It’s important, Clark said, that drivers not use their phones while driving, and to drive sober — especially if driving a county-issued vehicle.

KERO also reported that Webb had resigned from his position at the county of Kern.

See media reports about the case here:

If you’re involved in a car accident, first, stay calm. If you are injured, and if it is safe to do so, remain inside your vehicle until emergency personnel respond to the scene. Once out of your vehicle, make certain to obtain the other parties personal and insurance information. Often times, the police or California Highway Patrol will do this for you. Also, if there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to obtain contact information (including name and phone number) for each witness. Later, witnesses can be important to your case. Most importantly, do not speak with an insurance adjuster until you contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles first. Law firm representatives are available by phone and email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you speak with an insurance adjuster first, oftentimes they will obtain a recorded statement from you, which could be used against you later. It is always best to speak with a lawyer who will protect your rights first.

For more tips and information on car accidents and the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles — including frequently asked questions and answers — visit our specialized car accident website HERE.