Two-wheeled transportation safety tips for bike, motorcycle month and beyond

May 31, 2017 | 10:18 am


May is National Bike Month as well as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, where we celebrate the benefits of riding on two wheels, while remembering the dangers of doing so and measures to help keep everyone as safe as possible.

California is ranked No. 4 in the United States for percentage of commuters who bike to work, according to the 2016 Benchmarking Report by the Alliance for Walking & Biking. California was also above the state average in commuters who walk, bike or take public transit to work, and in getting 150 minutes or more of aerobic exercise.

But the increase of people enjoying life on two wheels has unfortunately led to an increase of bicycle and motorcycle accidents on our roadways.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 818 bicycle fatalities in 2015 in the United States, which was a 12 percent rise from the previous year. Nearly 40 percent of all these fatalities were influenced by alcohol. To combat this disturbing trend, California has passed legislation, including the “Move Over Law” which requires motorists to have a 3-foot space from cyclists. Read more about that law here.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe we should all share the road, and be extra careful when driving around motorcyclist and bicyclists.

Our law firm has been a proud partner of Bike Bakersfield, whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly means of everyday transportation. Recently, Chain | Cohn | Stiles served as a sponsor for Project Light Up The Night, where volunteers hand out hundreds of free bicycle lights in various locations throughout Bakersfield. The law firm also donated 100 safety helmets to east Bakersfield students during a Bike Bakersfield “Kidical Mass,” which featured bike repairs, safety demonstrations, and a group bike ride.

We ask you, the reader, to take responsibility in making sure our roadways are safe for cyclist and motorist alike. Here are a few tips on how we can make cycling, riding and driving in Bakersfield safer and more enjoyable:

Rules of the Road for All

  • Know the Rules of the Road: Bicycles and motorcycles are considered vehicles on the road with all the rights and responsibilities of automobiles.
  • Be Predictable: Ride in a straight line, use signal turns, and signal lane changes.
  • Be Easily Seen: Dress “bright and tight,” which means being seen, and not getting tangled up in your bike.
  • Think Ahead: Anticipate what other motorists will do next, whether it’s turning, braking or accelerating.
  • Ride Ready: Make sure everything on your bicycle is in working condition.
  • Ride and Drive Focused: Never ride or drive distracted.
  • Safety First: Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle or motorcycle, and a seat belt when in a vehicle. A DOT certified helmet is recommended for riders. Cyclists should consider a horn or bell to get others’ attention, as well as reflectors. Motorcyclists should make sure headlights and taillights are in working order, too.
  • Alcohol and Drug-Free: Never get behind the wheel (or wheels) under the influence of any substance.

For more bicycle and motorcycle safety tips, click here to read previous Blogging for Justice posts related to two-wheel safety.

 

— Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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

National Burn Awareness Week: Safety tips to prevent burn injuries in your household

February 8, 2017 | 9:13 am


Each year, nearly 500,000 people in the United States and Canada are treated for burn injuries caused by normal household activities including cooking, bathing and eating. Sadly, most of these traumatic burn injuries occur to young children.

This week, the Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles — with the help of U.S. Fire Administration and the American Burn Foundation — would like to raise awareness of common burn injury causes, and provide tips in hopes of preventing them altogether.

National Burn Awareness Week, observed from Feb. 5 to 11 this year, is designed to teach kids how to be responsible for their personal safety and to increase family awareness of potentially harmful situations in homes.

Most of these injuries occur due to lack of adult supervision and a failure to follow safe practices. Here are a few other facts about burn injuries in the home:

  • Hot water scalds are the leading cause of burns to young children, and almost one-third of all burn injuries occur in children under the age of 15.
  • Men are more likely to be burned than women
  • Most of the injuries occur in the home; second is work.

So what can we all do to prevent burn injuries? Here are a few tips:

  • Place objects so that they cannot be pulled down or knocked over.
  • Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.
  • Use dry oven mitts or potholders.
  • Carefully remove carefully that has been cooked in the microwave. Slowly open containers, and open them away from the face.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Never hold a child while you are cooking, drinking a hot liquid, or carrying hot items.

Sadly, accidents happen even when taking precautions. Here’s what you should do in the case of a burn injury:

  • Treat a burn right away by putting it under cool, running water. Cool the burn for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cover a burn with a clean, dry cloth. Do not apply creams, ointments, sprays or other home remedies.
  • Seek immediate emergency medical care for more serious burns to prevent infection and other complications.

For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been devoted to providing proper care for burn victims — in and out of the courtroom. In fact, when San Joaquin Community Hospital established a burn center in 2009 to help Bakersfield and Kern County residents in need of specialized burn care, the law firm’s partners donated $200,000 toward the center and it was named the Chain | Cohn | Stiles Burn Center. Additionally, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark sits on the board of directors for Adventist Health Bakersfield, and annually helps with the “5 Alarm Barbecue” fundraiser aimed to help burn survivors in Kern County during their recovery. And you may remember this touching story of boy who was burned by fallen power lines in Ridgecrest, and whose family came to Chain | Cohn | Stiles for help.

In other burn injury cases, lawyer David K. Cohn helped resolve a lawsuit for $10 million after a man was burned over 80 percent of his body in an oilfield accident. And the law firm is currently involved in several cases of exploding e-cigarettes that caused burn injuries.

If you or someone you know has suffered burn injuries at the fault of someone else, please contact the burn injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles Newsletter: Remembering 2016, looking ahead to 2017

January 11, 2017 | 9:28 am


Editor’s Note: The following was published in an e-newsletter sent out to those signed up to receive the Chain | Cohn | Stiles newsletter. View it in your browser here. To keep up with the latest news, contests and updates from Chain | Cohn | Stiles, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to input your email address into the “newsletter sign-up” section.

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A Happy New Year to you from all of us at Chain | Cohn | Stiles! As Albert Einstein once said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

Along those lines, we wanted to make you aware of some of the activities we’ve been involved with since the last time we checked in with you: 

  • We were the presenting sponsor for annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K, which raised more than $62,000 to fight against drinking and driving locally.

Today, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is continuing its work in serving our community, and representing injury and accident victims. For example … 

  • We joined local Spanish media to help answer legal questions from our Hispanic residents of Kern County.

And lastly, keep an eye out for Chain | Cohn | Stiles in 2017 in the following:  

  • Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been nominated as “Best Law Firm” in the Best of Kern County poll, and partners David Cohn and Matt Clark in the “Best Lawyer” category. We would be honored to have your vote! Go to bestofkern.com to vote.
  • We’ll be the presenting sponsor once again for the Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K, scheduled for Sept. 23, 2017, at Park at River Walk. Join us in the fight against drunk driving in Kern County.
  • Keep an eye out for new videos on our website, chainlaw.com, and your television.

We wish you a healthy and happy 2017. Keep up with Chain | Cohn | Stiles activities throughout the year by following our various social media pages listed below, which are updated daily, as well as our blog, Blogging for Justice.

Warm Regards,

All of us at Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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

Holiday season a time for cheer, a time for safety

December 14, 2016 | 10:44 am


It’s the time of cheer, and a time of celebration.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to make sure you and your family enjoy the holiday season, while staying as safe as possible. With so many potential dangers affiliated with the holiday season — driving and traveling, celebrating with alcohol, and decorating your home, as examples — it’s important for everyone be aware of how to remain as safe as possible and remain injury-free.

Please take note of the following safety tips as you celebrate with your family this holiday season.

 

Home Safety 

The holidays and “home” go hand in hand — home decorating and home cooking, for example. But each year, we see tens of thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating.

As you celebrate in your home, please keep these notes in mind, courtesy of the National Safety Council:

  • Make sure your Christmas tree has a stable platform.
  • If you choose an artificial tree, make sure that it is labeled as fire resistant. Also, spraying artificial snow can irritate your lungs if inhaled. Decorate the tree with your kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top.
  • Never use lighted candles near Christmas trees or boughs.
  • Keep your pets and children away from poisonous plants and other potential hazards.
  • If using a natural tree, make sure it is well watered.
  • Check holiday lights for fraying, bare spots, gaps in the insulation or excessive kinking in the wire.
  • Turn off all tree lights and decorations when not in use. Additionally, more than 10 percent of home candle fires take place in December. Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle.
  • When putting up decorations, use a step stool or ladder to reach high places.
  • When preparing a meal, wash hands, utensils, sink and anything else that touches raw meat. And reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees.

 

Celebrating with Alcohol 

It’s OK to have a little eggnog, but it’s important to plan ahead before celebrating with alcoholic drinks. During the holiday season, more people die in highway related crashes related to alcohol that any other time of year.

  • The best call is to just say “no.” Resist the pressure to drink alcohol.
  • If you do drink, designate a driver before the party begins. If you or your friends are going to a party and plan to use alcohol, decide in advance who will be the designated driver. Decide that drinking and driving is not an option.
  • The main purpose of a party is to have fun with people you know. You can stop yourself before you go too far, you just need to choose to do so.
  • Additionally, MADD and Uber has launched a national holiday campaign on Monday, in which Uber is directing riders to take a pledge on madd.org/uber to #LeavetheKeys on social media.

 

Traveling 

Tens of millions of people choose to travel during the holidays. Before you hit the road, keep these points in mind:

  • Never drink and drive. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31 percent of the all road-related crashes.
  • Use a designated driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party.
  • Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance being traveled.
  • Put that cell phone away; distracted driving causes one-quarter of all crashes.
  • Properly maintain the vehicle and keep an emergency kit with you.
  • Be prepared for heavy traffic, and possibly heavy snow.

The Bakersfield Police Department will be running its year-end “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement mobilization continuing into the New Year. The campaign includes DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols.

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If you or your family members are hurt this holiday season at the fault of someone else, please call the injury and accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles-sponsored ‘Project Light Up The Night’ focuses on bicycle safety

November 30, 2016 | 9:36 am


The sun begins to set on the streets of Bakersfield well before 5 p.m. these days, making safety paramount for those exercising, walking their pets, or driving about in the evening hours.

For bicyclists, in particular, the nighttime can pose a significant risk. It’s important for drivers to be aware of cyclists sharing the road with them, but also for bike riders to have the proper safety equipment and be easily seen.

Bike Bakersfield — in partnership with Bakersfield-based injury and accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles and PG&E — are hoping to make Kern County’s roads a little safer for drivers and cyclists alike through the Project Light Up The Night, where volunteers hand out hundreds of free bicycle lights in various locations throughout Bakersfield.

The giveaways will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday (except Dec. 14) until Jan. 25. Riders must bring their bikes to receive one set of lights per person. The four distribution locations are as follows:

  • Bike Bakersfield: 1708 Chester Ave.
  • Corner of Niles Street and Mt. Vernon Avenue
  • Corner of North Chester Avenue and Roberts Lane
  • Planz Park: Planz Road and South H Street

In California, the law states that any cyclist riding at night needs to have a white headlamp, a red rear reflector, white or yellow reflectors on the pedals, and white or yellow reflectors on each side. But when it comes to night riding, it pays to go well beyond the law to make your bike noticeable. A blinking red light, for example, is much more likely to get the attention of a passing motorist who might otherwise not notice you.

In Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Police Department has also joined the battle to make our community safer for cyclists. The department recently was awarded a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program for bicycle and pedestrian safety and education to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries. The number of people killed has climbed nearly 17 percent across the state with 3,176 killed in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Particularly alarming is the six year rise in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities.

For those cycling at night, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wishes to provide you with the following additional safety tips:

  • Have multiple lights, varying from ones that alert other road users to your presence to lights that are strong enough to illuminate the road ahead. LED technology has transformed cycle lights.
  • Don’t ride in the gutter when riding in the dark as this is where the majority of road debris will go.
  • Remember to take spares on a night ride. Riding in the dark could hide hazards such as potholes and broken glass that can cause punctures or other mechanical problems.
  • Plan your route.
  • Ride with fellow cyclists so you can be seen more easily.
  • Don’t assume you have been seen by other road users.
  • Be prepared for mechanical issues. Make sure to carry enough tools, including spare inner tubes.
  • Wear bright colors such as white and yellow instead of black to make yourself more visible.

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If you or someone you know is involved in a bicycle accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com to submit a contact form.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins Bakersfield Police in fight to end DUIs, distracted driving

November 23, 2016 | 6:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles for years has been fighting to end drunk driving in Kern County, while also raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and advocating for bicycle and pedestrian safety locally.

And with news that the Bakersfield Police Department was awarded a $415,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program, in part, for these same causes, the streets of Bakersfield may be getting safer.

Recently, local media highlighted the new grant that will fund educational presentations, DUI checkpoints, bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement, distracted driving enforcement and seat belt child safety seat enforcement, and more.

“The Bakersfield Police Department is committed to ensuring traffic safety on city roadways,” said Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson in a news release.

So, too, is the Bakersfield-based accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles Director of Marketing and Public Relations Jorge Barrientos spoke with media about grant, and what it means for MADD Kern County. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is a strong and active supporter of MADD Kern County, and deeply involved in the fight against drunk driving in our community. Barrientos serves as the planning committee chairman for MADD Kern County’s annual fundraising and awareness event. And attorneys Matt Clark and Neil Gehlawat are members of the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

“Currently we are seeing about 12 DUI arrests per day,” Barrientos told Eyewitness News. “That’s more than 4,000 a year. And, that’s just the people that are getting caught … We do know for a fact that a lot of people that are getting caught have been caught before … It’s a 100 percent preventable crime. You don’t have to get behind the wheel after you have a drink.”

In all, the grant will help fund the following efforts:
  • Educational presentations
  • DUI checkpoints
  • DUI saturation patrols
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement
  • Motorcycle safety enforcement
  • Distracted driving enforcement
  • Seat belt and child safety seat enforcement
  • Speed, red light, and stop sign enforcement
  • Warrant service operations targeting multiple DUI offenders
  • Compilation of DUI “Hot Sheets,” identifying worst-of-the-worst DUI offenders
  • Specialized DUI and drugged driving training such as Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, and Drug Recognition Evaluator
  • Court “sting” operations to cite individuals driving from DUI court after ignoring their license suspension or revocation
  • Stakeout operations to observe the “worst-of-the-worst” repeat DUI offender probationers with suspended or revoked driver licenses

In September this year, Kern County came together for the third Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K at the Park at River Walk, called for an end of drunk driving, and raised more than $62,000 in the process to fight against drinking and driving locally.

The 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes. Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K has raised more than $160,000.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently has also partnered with Bike Bakersfield, a local nonprofit bicycle advocacy group, to give out free safety helmets and bike safety lights.

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

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GRANT MEDIA COVERAGE

WALK LIKE MADD & MADD DASH 5K MEDIA COVERAGE

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.

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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.

Staying safe while driving after ‘deadliest year on the road’

October 12, 2016 | 9:12 am


A scary truth is that whenever you step into a vehicle, you risk the possibility of being involved in a crash, which could also result in injury, or even death.

In fact, USA Today recently reported that “U.S. traffic deaths jumped 7.7% in 2015, marking the deadliest year on the road since 2008.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 35,000 people died in 2015 from car crashes.

Even more, traffic fatalities in the United States rose by an estimated 10.4 percent in the first half of 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which called this an “immediate crisis.” And as traffic fatalities spike, the U.S. government announced a commitment to ending road deaths within 30 years, committing $1 million a year for the next three years for related grants, CNN reported.

For now, there are steps you can take to keep you and your family as safe as possible.

For example, distracted driving is becoming more of a problem in today’s society, accounting for 26 percent of fatalities in car crashes, according to the National Safety Council. It’s up to each driver on the road to focus on the road, and do his or her best to prevent crashes. In short, distracted driving includes the following:

  • Texting while driving or using a cell phone in any way
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Doing your makeup
  • Changing the radio station, song or volume
  • Using a hands-free device can also be a distraction
  • Having an emotional conversation while driving

Texting and driving is likely one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it requires drivers to take their eyes off the road to read and type a message, their hands off the steering wheel to type, and it requires their mind to be thinking about what to say or how to respond to the message instead of focusing on the road.

Here are several safety tips that will help you put the phone down, and help make the road a safer place:

  • Put your phone somewhere you cannot reach it, or turn it off completely so it will not be a distraction.
  • If you have to answer your phone wait until you can pull over safely to answer it.
  • If you have to eat or drink, pull over and do so safely.
  • Get enough sleep so you do not become fatigued; however, if you do find yourself getting tired, pull into a safe parking lot, lock your doors and take a nap.
  • Plan ahead enough time to get yourself ready for the day, so you don’t have to do any grooming in the car.
  • Have your car stereo set the way you want it before you start to drive.

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If you or someone you know is involved and injured in a car or motor vehicle accident, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles right away at (661) 323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com. And remember to take the following three 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.

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— By Marisol Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Tips: Are you protecting your loved ones with properly installed car seats?

September 21, 2016 | 7:48 am


Did you know car crashes are the leading cause of unintentional deaths to children in the United States? And of those children 8 years old and younger who tragically died in a vehicle crash in 2014, 26 percent were not restrained by an age-appropriate device, such as an infant seat, booster seat or seat belt.

During this week — Child Passenger Safety Week, observed this year from Sept. 18 to 24 — the car accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles want to remind parents and drivers to take the proper steps to make sure children are as safe as possible while in vehicles.

“It’s vital we protect our loved ones any time we step into a motor vehicle and go out on the roadways,” said Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David Cohn. “And our children are our most precious treasures. Please make sure they’re properly protected.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants by 71 percent and to toddlers by 54 percent. Booster seat use reduces the risk of serious injury by 45 percent for children ages 4 to 8 when compared to seat belt use alone.

Please review these tips, courtesy of the Safe Kids Worldwide, to make sure you’re protecting your loved one.

Choose the Right Direction

For the best protection, keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat until at least 2 years old. Exact height and weight limits of your car seat are typically on the side or back labels. Kids who ride in rear-facing seats have the best protection for the head, neck and spine. It is especially important for rear-facing children to ride in a back seat away from the airbag. When your children outgrow a rear-facing seat around age 2, move them to a forward-facing car seat. Some forward-facing car seats have harnesses for larger children. Check labels to find the exact height and weight limits for your seat.

Check the Label

Look at the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height and development. Your car seat has an expiration date – usually around six years. Double check to make sure it’s still safe. Discard a seat that is expired in a dark trash bag so that it cannot be pulled from the trash and reused.

Know Your Car Seat’s History

Buy a used car seat only if you know its full crash history. Once a car seat has been in a crash or is expired or broken, it needs to be replaced.

Make Sure Your Car Seat is Installed Correctly

Inch Test: Once your car seat is installed, give it a good tug at the base where the seat belt goes through it. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.

Pinch Test: Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots. With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.

For both rear- and forward-facing child safety seats, use either the car’s seat belt or the lower attachments and for forward-facing seats, remember to add the top tether to lock the car seat in place. If you are having even the slightest trouble, questions or concerns, certified child passenger safety technicians are able to help or even double check your work. Find a technician or car seat checkup event near you at safekids.org or nhtsa.gov.

Check Your Car Seat

Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly, so before you hit the road, check your car seat. It takes only 15 minutes.

 

Is it Time for a Booster Seat?

Take the next step to a booster seat when you answer “yes” to any of these questions: Does your child exceed the car seat’s height or weight limits? Are your child’s shoulders above the car seat’s top harness slots? Are the tops of your child’s ears above the top of the car seat? If the car seat with a harness still fits and your child is within the weight and height limits, continue to use it until it is outgrown.

Be Wary of Toys

Toys can injure your child in a crash, so be extra careful to choose ones that are soft and will not hurt your child. A small, loose toy can be dangerous and injure your baby in a crash. Secure loose objects and toys to protect everyone in the car.

Buckle Up

We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So set a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too. Buckling up the right way on every ride is the single most important thing a family can do to stay safe in the car.

 

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The California Highway Patrol, together with Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Public Health, are hosting a free car seat check-up event Saturday, Sept. 24, in the Target parking lot on Mall View Road in northeast Bakersfield.

If you or someone you know is involved in a car accident due to the fault of someone else, contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Safety Tips: Catch them all, but be careful while playing Pokémon Go

September 7, 2016 | 6:00 am


By now, you’ve likely heard of the game Pokemon Go, which has taken the country by storm and has been a huge hit for gamers of all ages. And if you have heard of the game, then you’ve probably heard of various incidents of people getting injured while playing. 

The Bakersfield injury, accident and workers’ compensation lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles remind all gamers to practice safety while playing Pokémon Go, and read the tips below for an injury-free experience.

If you haven’t heard of Pokémon Go, click here to learn all about the game. In short, it’s a location-based reality game in which players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. And it’s free!

There are 150 different types of Pokémon to be caught, but to catch them you have to find them first, and the game requires you to walk around to find Pokemon. “Poke stops” are everywhere, including at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. Visit the Park at River Walk in Bakersfield to find it full of kids, teens, and adults walking around catching Pokemon on their phones.

And while the game has players out and about being active, it’s also led to injuries and other incidents caused by distracted playing. In the last few weeks, Pokemon Go has been connected to the following incidents in the United States:

  • A 15-year-old Pennsylvania girl was struck by a car while playing (WPXI)
  • A 28-year-old driver in Auburn crashed into a tree while playing (Auburnpub.com)
  • Two men fell off cliffs in Encinitas while playing. (San Diego Tribune)
  • A man crashed into a parked police cruiser while playing the game. (Huffington Post)

The problem lies in distracted playing, as players focus on the phone in front of them instead of their surroundings. Please follow these tips to stay safe while catching Pokemon:

  • Do not go out alone to play Pokemon Go.
  • Always check your surroundings while playing.
  • Be alert at all times while playing.
  • Do not trespass onto private property.
  • Let someone know where you are going to be when venturing out.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, catch Pokemon while driving.
  • Do not go into unsafe or suspicious areas to catch a Pokemon.

Just recently, Pokemon Go updated the game to include safety warnings such as “remember to be alert at all times,” “stay aware of your surroundings,” “Do not trespass while playing Pokémon Go,” “Do not play Pokémon Go while driving,” and “Do not enter dangerous areas while playing Pokémon Go.”

And most recently, The California State Assembly introduced a measure that would expand the ban on texting while driving to include other distracting operations of smartphones, including searching for “Pokemon Go” characters, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Playing Pokemon Go is a great way to get active and explore areas around you, but Chain | Cohn | Stiles advises you to not put yours or others’ lives at risk to catch a Pokemon.

— By Marisol Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.