Chain | Cohn | Stiles: ‘Standing for Justice’ in Kern County for 85 Years

June 26, 2019 | 6:00 am


The year is 1934. The great Dust Bowl storm is sweeping across the Great Plains of the United States. Donald Duck premieres on television. And the FBI kills Bonnie and Clyde in a shootout in a Louisiana.

It’s also the year Morris B. Chain first set up shop in the Haberfelde Building in downtown Bakersfield. The Russian immigrant who grew up in Bakersfield had recently earned his law degree from University of Southern California and struggled to find a law firm that would hire a fresh-faced attorney. It was, after all, during the Great Depression era when “help wanted” signs were nowhere to be found. So, he made his own opportunity. He opened his own law practice, and began laying the foundation for what would become one of Central Valley’s most prominent and longstanding law firms, one whose mission became to fight for the everyday working man and woman.

The firm’s name has changed through the years — using variations of the law firm partners, including “Chain-Younger” for many years — but several things have remained constant. The most obvious: the Chain namesake has remained, and the firm today is known Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Another constant: For 85 years, the firm has been firmly cemented in downtown Bakersfield, and its office dedicated to helping our area’s residents in their time of greatest need.

For 2019, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is marking the 85-year anniversary in several ways:

  • The law firm is giving back to the community it has called home for 85 years. The law firm donated $10,000 to the Bakersfield Homeless Center in an effort to combat our community’s homeless epidemic, specifically the homeless center’s job skills training program and street cleaning team focusing on downtown Bakersfield.
  • Chain | Cohn | Stiles has released several videos focused on the history of the law firm. In the videos, law firm partners David Cohn, Jim Yoro, and Matt Clark share stories of the law firm’s origins, and its values that remain true today. Videos include:
  • The firm is serving as the presenting sponsor for the 2019 “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash” — benefiting the Kern County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving — to help raise awareness of the DUI problem locally, help crash victims, and help fundraise for local educational programs.
  • Chain | Cohn | Stiles is giving away items branded with the firm’s anniversary logo, including bags, portable chargers, and gift cards!
  • The law firm was featured as one of three organizations inducted into the inaugural “Best of Kern County” Hall of Fame, awarded to organizations with a long history of excellence in their respective fields, and who also give back to our community.
  • More is still to come! Stay tuned for surprises commemorating Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ 85-year anniversary.

As for the history of the law firm, The Bakersfield Californian in 2014 featured an article on what was then the law firm’s 80-year anniversary. You can read that article below, which has been updated to include news from the last five years, as well as several relevant links at the bottom of the page.

———

BAKERSFIELD ROOTS

Though born in Russia in 1904, Morris Chain developed his Bakersfield roots early. His father ran a store on 19th Street, and Chain attended Kern County Union High School and Bakersfield Junior College.

At BC, Chain is credited for coming up with the nickname “Renegades” while on the football team. It was in school, too, where Chain developed his love for drama, participating in speech, debate and theater – skills he would use throughout his career in the courtroom.

Known as a showman, Chain was also hard-working and aggressive. Making little money after opening his shop in 1934, he worked long 18-hour days, investigating his own cases with camera and subpoenas in hand. Car-less, he hitched rides with prosecuting attorneys on cases he was defending.

“If young lawyers today had to go through what I went through, I don’t think they would even enter the profession,” he told The Bakersfield Californian in 1976.

The hard work led to success. Chain moved into the Sill Building in 1938, on 18th Street and Chester Avenue, where he would become known for taking on some of the highest-profile criminal cases in the area, while also helping the everyday person.

In Chain’s obituary in 1977, Californian columnist Eddie Griffith wrote that “this stemmed from his continued life-long interest in the ‘little guy’ and the problem of the downtrodden, generally.”

“The greatest compliment you can get is from the little guy you do a lot of work for and who comes up and says thanks, you did a hell of a job,” Chain told The Bakersfield California.

With success, Chain’s team grew.

 

LOCAL LEADING LAWYERS 

The firm’s attorneys would also become servants to the local community, becoming leaders in local and statewide Democratic politics, labor and the arts, following Chain’s lead to serve the hometown. Most of the lawyers through the firm’s 80 years, including today, were either born or raised locally.

In 1936, Chain ran for Kern County District Attorney, but lost. Chain received the coveted Kern County Bench and Bar Award in 1976, recognizing outstanding service to the administration of justice and the legal profession.

In the 1970s, the firm moved over to the building on Truxtun Avenue and M Street. The year Chain died, 1977, he was praised for being “one of the most remarkable men in the history of the community and certainly in the history of the legal community of Kern County,” according to a Californian article on his death.

Through the 1980s, the firm was ahead of the curve in race relations in Bakersfield, including forming relationships with the local Sikh community, and hiring Latino, black and Asian attorneys and staff.  Whites numbered 80 percent of the Kern County population, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, but the minority population was ever increasing (today Latinos make up more than 50 percent).

“The firm promoted diversity long before it was even discussed in the mainstream,” said Robert Tafoya, Kern County Superior Court judge and attorney at Chain, Younger, Cohn and Stiles in the 1990s. “They were visionaries in having a diverse workforce.”

Tafoya joined the firm even after opening his own firm, calling the Chain firm “a major player in the community.”

“I was a fly on the wall, watching and asking questions,” Tafoya said. “I learned a lot at the firm about serving the community.”

The firm’s stellar reputation also attracted Gary Ingle – a retired Kern County Superior Court judge and attorney at the firm from the late 1970s to early 1980s.

“In my mind, the firm had the best reputation in town,” Ingle said. “They had flashy cases, but they were smart lawyers who made some good law.”

He continued: “The attorneys at the firm have always advertised themselves as being the working man’s attorney. I think that’s truly the case.”

In the courtroom, the law firm’s staff focused on making the world safer, said David Cohn, current managing attorney.

Since the Chain era, case results at the firm have led to significant changes: oilfield equipment and machinery have been made safer to reduce injuries, child car seats now require crash testing to make them more reliable, and turkey fryers have been revamped to prevent burns and injuries, for example.

Still today, the attorneys at firm remain at the forefront of civil law. The firm continues to take on high-profile wrongful death, work accident, and other personal injury cases.

Among its current lawyers, James Yoro is one of the most veteran workers’ compensation lawyers in the state, having appeared in front of the Supreme Court; Cohn continues to be lead counsel on some of the highest profile civil cases in Kern County; and Matt Clark, 42, has regularly been recognized in legal circles as a top up-and-coming attorney.

 

85 YEARS

At its largest stage, the Chain law firm had 18 attorneys and offered a multitude of legal services including family law and criminal defense. Today, the firm focuses only on accidents, injuries and workers’ compensation cases.

In 1990, the firm moved into the Bank of America building on Truxtun and Chester avenues, where it remained for 25 years. The law firm’s name changed to its current title to Chain | Cohn | Stiles in 2009, and today includes seven attorneys. Continuing a legacy of diversity, the firm includes Yoro, a Filipino; Beatriz Trejo, a rising leader in Kern County’s Latino community; and Tanya Alsheikh, who is fluent in Arabic.

As for advocacy and community commitment, the firm continues to take on cases aimed “to make our world better,” Cohn said, while also donating time and effort to local worthy causes. The firm is a presenting sponsor and organizer of a walk and run hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, gives away hundreds of bicycle lights and safety helmets each year with Bike Bakersfield, and this year donated to a Bakersfield Homeless Center program to combat our area’s homeless epidemic.

Through the years, it was important to keep the Chain name on the firm’s masthead as a symbol to local civic and community effort, Cohn said.

“The name takes us back to our roots,” Cohn said. “Morris Chain’s mission to stand up for the little guy is what founded this firm, and influences everything we do 85 years later – even those of us coming after him. It’s the guiding principal of everything we do.”

In 2015, the firm moved into a 30,000-square-foot historical building at 18th Street and Chester Avenue – occupied previously by the Goodwill Industries of South Central California.

“This move came at a special time, as we celebrated our 80th anniversary,” Cohn told media during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building. “We hope this new office will better serve our clients, and will help in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Bakersfield. And we look forward to serving Kern County for another 80 years.”

In recent year, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been inducted into the inaugural “Best of Kern County Hall of Fame,” awarded to men, women, businesses, and organizations with a long history of excellence in their respective fields, and who also give back to our community. The law firm has also been selected for inclusion in the 2019 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report.

Still, the new home of the firm is stark contrast to the way Chain first started his career, said local historian Gilbert Gia. But the law firm’s new home will have a view of Chain’s previous homes, including his first office in the Haberfelde building.

“When we look at the law firm today, we see a monolithic edifice, but the law firm started out in humble beginnings,” Gia said. “The firm today, inside of the walls, seems to be sticking to its roots.”

 

THE CHAIN GANG

Here are a few local attorneys, judges and legal professionals who have worked at the law firm founded by Morris Chain:

JUDGES

  • Gary Ingle: Kern County Superior Court judge, practiced in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
  • Stephen Schuett: Kern County Superior Court judge, practiced at Chain in the 1980s.
  • Louis P. Etcheverry: Kern County Superior Court judge, practiced in the 1980s.
  • Robert Tafoya: Kern County Superior Court judge, practiced from 1995 to 2002.

CHAIN | COHN | STILES TODAY

  • David Cohn: Current managing partner, having served under the Chain name for nearly 45 years.
  • James Yoro: Partner, managing the workers’ compensation division, who has worked at Chain for 34 years.
  • Matt Clark: Partner, joining the firm in 2006.
  • Associates: Tanya Alsheikh, Chad Boyles, Doug Fitz-Simmons, and Beatriz Trejo.
  • With the exception of Fitz-Simmons, all attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles were raised in Bakersfield.

NO LONGER PRACTICING

  • Paul Busacca: Partner in the 1970s and 1980s, now deceased.
  • Paul Welchans: Practiced at the Chain firm for 30 years, retired in 2012.
  • John Tello: Served at the Chain firm from the early 1980s until 2004.

IN HISTORY

  • Morris B. Chain: Namesake and founder of the Chain law firm; died in 1977.
  • Milton Younger: Joined Chain full time in 1956, and remained at the firm for 53 years; he died in 2018.
  • Timothy Lemucchi: Joined Chain in 1965, and remained at the firm for 30 years; now practices at Law Office of Timothy Lemucchi.
  • Leonard Winters: Investigator working directly with Chain at the firm for more than three decades. He joined Chain after first helping him in 1946 in his unsuccessful campaign for Kern County District Attorney – reportedly one of the only investigators working for an attorney at the time; now deceased.
  • Noriegas: Al Noriega, now deceased, began as a law clerk working directly with Chain. His son, James Edward Noriega, would also go on to work at the firm. He now practices at Law Office of James E. Noriega.
  • Daniel Rodriguez: Worked at the Chain law firm through the 1980s; now practices at Rodriguez & Associates.
  • Others: Rod Williams, Dustin Jameson, Todd Berry, Frank Butkiewicz, Scott Fontes, Stephen Klink, Indra Lahiri.

———

YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN …

Keeping safe at work in Kern County’s summer sun and adverse air quality

June 19, 2019 | 10:23 am


The month of June is National Safety Month, and in Bakersfield, we know June as the start of triple digit weather forecasts and stocking up on sunscreen.

For those working outdoors in Kern County, June and the summer months are also a time protection from the California sun, and adverse air quality. In fact, more injuries occur during the summer months in workplaces than at other times of the year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The industry sector experiencing the largest number of preventable fatal injuries is construction, followed by transportation and warehousing. Agriculture, forestry, transportation and warehousing sectors experience the highest fatality rates per 100,000 workers, according to the bureau. Taking preventative action can spare workers needless pain and suffering. For example, high temperatures can be dangerous to people at work and can lead to injuries, illnesses, and even death, the majority of which are preventable.

Read ahead to learn more about common threats to workers in the summer months, and how to prevent injuries.

 

Working in the heat

Every year, many workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some are fatally injured. These illnesses and fatalities are preventable.

Many people are exposed to heat on the job, in both indoor and outdoor environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness.

Indoor workplaces with hot conditions may include iron and steel foundries, brick-firing and ceramic plants, glass products facilities, electrical utilities (particularly boiler rooms), bakeries, commercial kitchens, laundries, chemical plants, material handling and distribution warehouses, and many other environments. Outdoor workplaces with work in hot weather and direct sun, such as farm work, construction, oil and gas well operations, landscaping, emergency response operations, and hazardous waste site activities, also increase the risk of heat-related illness in exposed workers.

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature through sweating. When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. If the person is not cooled down, fainting and even death could result.

Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention. Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions.

Heat-related illnesses can be prevented. Important ways to reduce heat exposure and the risk of heat-related illness include air conditioning and ventilation and work practices such as work-rest cycles, and staying hydrated. Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Also, it’s important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency and know what to do because acting quickly can save lives.

 

Air Quality & Valley Fever

Although not all workers who deal with the summer heat work outdoors, those who work outdoors are susceptible to many factors contributed to by bad air quality.  The workers in the fields have to be especially mindful of the side effects of the air they are breathing, but anyone outside could get unlucky.

Some illness or infections from breathing in bacteria and pollution are:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • valley fever
  • respiratory disease

Valley Fever and respiratory diseases have taken many lives in Kern County.  Those at a greater risk of getting valley fever and respiratory disease are workers in the fields. At any given month, workers have to contend with dust storms and breathing in soil ridden amounts of air.

What is valley fever? According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, valley fever — scientifically called coccidioidomycosis — is a fungal infection in the lungs from breathing in spores in the air.  The spores are microscopic fungi found in soil and it cannot be passed from person to person. The initial state of coccidioidomycosis can cause these symptoms that make it hard to diagnose:

  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Rash on upper body or legs

According to the Kern County Public Health Services Department, 2937 cases of Valley Fever were reported last year. However, it unknown how many cases go unreported because the symptoms are similar to the common cold. It is advised to be aware of these symptoms because this initial state could worsen into acute and chronic coccidioidomycosis. These stages can then lead to missing months of work or death.

The Environmental Health News stated that 23,634 deaths occurred between 2013-2016 in Kern Country from Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (CLRD).  Included in these diseases are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension.  There are no cures for these diseases, but treatment can prevent them from worsening.

Workers have to be careful and knowing of these illnesses in order to recognize the symptoms and seek immediate medical care if the symptoms listed above persist.

 

Lastly, workers can take a safety pledge to never compromise their own safety or the safety of co-workers to get the job done, actively look for hazards, promptly report them, and take appropriate action to warn others.

— Alexa Esparza contributed to this report. 

———

If you or someone you know is injured at work or becomes ill due to work condition, please contact the personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online 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.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins MADD Kern County in honoring locals fighting against DUI crimes

June 12, 2019 | 2:48 pm


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Kern County recognized and honored our local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other community members on Wednesday at Hodel’s Country Dining for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes.

In all, 67 officers from throughout Kern County agencies were awarded during the 2019 MADD Kern County Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon, as well as a prosecutor from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.  Awards were handed out to the top prosecutor, top probation officer, and the top law enforcement officer, among others.

“There are numerous ways we as a community can come together to fight against DUI crimes, whether it’s through law enforcement and prosecution, serving as a designated driver, or helping raise awareness of the DUI epidemic in Kern County,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “It’s important we acknowledge and award the special efforts made here. Simply, these people are saving lives.”

The award recipients were as follows (for a full awards list, scroll to the bottom of this post):

  • Top DUI Arresting Officer: Officer Robert Tyo, Bakersfield Police Department, 223 DUI arrests
  • Prosecutor of the Year: Kim Richardson, Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Probation Department Award: Brian Mara, DUI Program Supervisor
  • Community Champion Award: Jeff Platt, Eyewitness News
  • Top CHP Officer: Officer Rodney Black (Bakersfield), 117 DUI arrests

The awards ceremony was organized by MADD Kern County volunteers, and made possible by the financial support of local sponsors: Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Chevron, Ira and Carole Cohen with UBS Financial, Kern County Prosecutors Association, and Michael Yraceburn and Sally Herald CPA.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with nearly 4,400 DUI arrests in 2018, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s 12 DUI arrests per day. For the rate of DUI-related fatal collisions per 100,000 people, Kern County ranks highest in the state and second highest in the nation.

The awards luncheon is one of two MADD Kern County signature events aimed to bring awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and fight toward ending DUI crimes here. The second event, Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, will take place this year on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Park at River Walk.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board and regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and law firm marketing director is the planning committee chairman for the annual. Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash. For its work has been recognized and honored on several occasions:

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.

———

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

———

MEDIA COVERAGE

———

2019 MADD KERN COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT & PROSECUTOR

RECOGNITION AWARDS LUNCHEON

 

TOP DUI ARRESTING OFFICER OF KERN COUNTY

Officer Robert Tyo – 223 DUI Arrests: Bakersfield Police Department                       

 

PROSECUTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD

Kim Richardson: Prosecutor, Kern County District Attorney’s Office     

 

PROBATION DEPARTMENT AWARD

Brian Mara: DUI Program Supervisor, Kern County Probation Department                     

 

COMMUNITY CHAMPION AWARD

Jeffrey Platt: Eyewitness News

 

TOP ARRESTING OFFICER PER DEPARTMENT

Taft Police Department                                                Officer Andrew Avila              8

Shafter Police Department                               Officer Janet Fernandez                       9

Kern County Sheriff (Wasco)                          Deputy Brandon Routh                        9

Ridgecrest Police Department                          Officer Laura Kenney              13

California Highway Patrol (Fort Tejon)                        Officer Jason Lachaussee        10

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Bryan Lombardi          29

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Rodney Black              117

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Robert Tyo                  223

 

CENTURY AWARDS

More than 100 DUI arrests in 2018

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Adrian Tait                  103

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Dallas Plotner              114

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Rodney Black              117

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Robert Tyo                  223

 

DEUCE AWARDS

Between 1 and 49 DUI arrests in 2018

Taft Police Department                                                Sargent Corey Beilby               5

Taft Police Department                                                Officer Moises Martinez          5

California Highway Patrol (Fort Tejon)                        Officer Pablo Hinojosa                        6

Kern County Sheriff (Wasco)                          Senior Deputy Steve Davis      6

Shafter Police Department                               Officer William Draucker        7

Shafter Police Department                               Officer Eric Diaz                      7

Taft Police Department                                                Officer Andrew Avila              8

Shafter Police Department                               Officer Janet Fernandez                       9

Kern County Sheriff (Wasco)                          Deputy Brandon Routh                        9

Ridgecrest Police Department                          Officer Corey Rinaldi              10

California Highway Patrol (Fort Tejon)                        Officer Jason Lachaussee        10

Ridgecrest Police Department                          Officer Laura Kenney              13

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Victor Swall                 20

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Thomas Wahl              20

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Christopher Denman    23

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Jacqueline Smith          23

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Adam Clayton             24

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Tyler Olson                  25

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Michael Galvez                        26

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Michael Livesay          26

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Luis Ballesteros                       26

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Donald Mulligan          26

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Alejandro Zuniga         26

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Jason Carroll                27

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Richard Robles                        27

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Jeremiah Holt              29

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Bryan Lombardi          29

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Johnny Moreno                       35

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Kurtis Caid                  37

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Jordaon Hokit              38

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Bernabe Mejia             38

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Francisco Chavez        41

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jose Bravo                   41

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Kasey Knott                 42

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Hector Organista          43

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Ryan Grant                  44

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jason Wood                 45

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Brett Otto                     45

 

 

MADD AWARDS

Between 50 and 99 DUI arrests in 2018

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Freddie Garcia             52

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Chad Smithson                        53

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Brandon Carey                        59

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Michael Reynolds        59

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Andrew Marquez         61

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Brianna Pace                66

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Eric Medrano               67

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Ahearn Luca                70

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Jose M. Diaz                72

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Daniel Dinsing             73

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jessie Velasquez          74

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Michael Ramos                        77

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Matthew Iturriria          80

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Julio Villalobos                        80

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jaime Cervantes           81

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jarrod Bone                 82

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jeff Geer                     83

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Victor Valadez             84

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Arturo Aldrete             92

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Tomas Martinez           92

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Gregory Jorgensen       96

Chain | Cohn | Stiles lawyer Beatriz Trejo named to 2019 Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list

June 5, 2019 | 11:12 am


Beatriz A. Trejo, an associate attorney with the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles who focuses on workers’ compensation law, has been named to the 2019  Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list by Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine, the publication announced recently.

This is Trejo’s first 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. In addition, Trejo was also chosen to the “The Top Women Attorneys in Southern California — Rising Stars” list.

“My goal is to always represent injured workers to the best of my ability, and give each person the voice that he or she deserves,” said Trejo. “I am honored to be recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a ‘Rising Star,’ and will continue to advocate rigorously and compassionately for injured workers through my work at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.”

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 to resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.”

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.

To see Trejo’s official Super Lawyers awards for 2019, click here.

Other Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys chosen for the Super Lawyers distinction include law firm law partners David Cohn, James Yoro and Matthew Clark. The general Super Lawyers honor, for those over 40 years old, 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.

With all three partners at Chain | Cohn | Stiles selected as Southern California Super Lawyers in 2018, the law firm received a resolution from the California Legislature for the honor.

As for Trejo, she is a Certified Legal Specialist in Workers’ Compensation, a past recipient of the “Workers’ Compensation Young Lawyer of the Year” award in California, and she has also been recognized by her peers in the “Top Attorneys” poll voted on by local lawyers.  She is past president of the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA), Bakersfield Chapter and has been named as one of the 20 Under 40 People to Watch by Bakersfield Life Magazine.

Trejo is an active member of CAAA’s Latino Caucus, and serves on the panels of the Immigration Justice collaborative, which aim to educate immigrants on their constitutional rights.  She is a frequent speaker for Kern Country Small Business Academies and serves on the CSU Bakersfield Pre-Law Advisory Committee.

Outside of the office, Trejo is involved in Latina Leaders of Kern County, Kern Country Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center Foundation of Community Wellness.

— Alexa Esparza contributed to this report. 

———

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

———

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

‘100 Deadliest Days’: Summer period especially dangerous time for young drivers

May 29, 2019 | 5:04 pm


Did you know that the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” in the United States?

During this time span, which largely includes the summertime, our country’s roadways see a sharp increase in automobile fatalities, many involving teen drivers, according to AAA.

For example, in 2016 during this time period more than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver. That’s an average of 10 people per day – a 14 percent increase compared to the rest of the year, according to the AAA.

What are the reasons for the sharp increase?

It’s not that more teens are driving for longer periods in the summer with school out. In fact, driving behavior greatly increases the risk of a crash, AAA states. Distracted driving, inexperience, driving under the influence, not using safety belts, and driving in adverse conditions are the primary reasons.

Bakersfield’s 23ABC News reporter Lezly Gooden examined this annual issue, and discussed what we can do to decrease the numbers. The report also featured Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury Matt Clark, representing MADD Kern County as a board member regarding the alarming DUI-rates in Kern County, which sees more than 4,000 DUI arrests per year. Additionally, Kern County’s rate of DUI-related fatal crashes is the second highest in the country, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.

“The statistics are frankly embarrassing for our county,” said Matt Clark in the 23ABC News report. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is deeply involved with MADD Kern County efforts to raise awareness of the local DUI epidemic, and ways to combat the crimes. “It’s embarrassing that we live in a county in California where you are likely to die in a drunk driving accident than almost any other county in the country.”

Additionally, research shows that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people increased 51 percent. Speed and nighttime driving are also factors, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.

Here are a few tips for parents of teens and young adult drivers:

  • Evaluate your teen’s readiness. Talk with your teen about personal responsibility, ability to follow rules and any other concerns before beginning the learning-to-drive process.
  • Get informed. Graduated driver licensing, driver education, license restrictions and supervised practice driving are all part of today’s licensing process. And the state of California sets parameters throughout a multi-stage licensing process for young drivers, such as times of day they can drive and how many passengers they can carry.
  • Start talking now. Share any insight that could save your child from having to learn things the hard way. Talk about what it takes to be a safe driver, the rules and responsibilities once they start driving.
  • Focus on passenger safety. Talk to your teen about always buckling up, not riding with a teen driver without your advance permission, and being a safe passenger with teen and adult drivers.
  • Be involved. When you’re behind the wheel, talk about what you see (road signs, pedestrians, other vehicles) that could result in the need to change speed, direction or both. Maintain an ongoing dialogue about your teen’s driving, appropriately restrict driving privileges and conduct plenty of supervised practice driving. California requires that parents and their teens conduct 50 hours of supervised practice driving, including 10 hours at night.
  • Be a good role model. Make changes in your driving to prevent any poor driving habits from being passed on. Show you take driving seriously by always wearing your seat belt, obeying traffic laws, not using a cell phone while driving, watching your speed, not tailgating, using your turn signals, and not driving when angry or tired.
  • Responsible drivers never drive under the influence. As a parent, you can reinforce that message and help steer clear of dangers, including being a passenger of friends who have been drinking. Preventing underage drinking also helps avoid exposure to violence, risky sexual behavior, alcoholism and other serious concerns.

And, as always, share the road with pedestrian, scooter riders, bicyclists and motorcyclists. For more driving safety tips, go to bloggingforjustice.com.

———-

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

———-

MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles se junta con la program ‘Despierta Bakersfield’ para educar nuetra comunidad sobre cuestiones legales

May 22, 2019 | 10:00 am


La firma de abogados Chain | Cohn | Stiles se ha asociado con Univision Bakersfield, la estación de televisión en español, para educar a los Latinos locales sobre cuestiones legales, incluido qué hacer si estás en un accidente con algiuen con poco o sin seguro, los peligros de la fiebre del valle en el lugar de trabajo, y la importancia de contratar con abogados de compensación al trabajador que son certificados por el estado.

KABE Univision 39 es la estación de televisión en español más vista en Bakersfield, donde viven casi medio millón de Latinos, lo que representan el 57% de la población total. Para servir a nuestra comunidad, Univision Bakersfield organiza programas de asuntos públicos, como “Te Informa” y “Despierta Bakersfield”, que se centran en temas corrientes como la inmigración, la salud, las leyes, y la educación.

En la promgrama “Despierta América”, abogada asociada de Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Beatriz Trejo, se unió con la anfitriona Ofelia Aguirre para discutir los siguientes temas. Puede ver todos los segmentos a continuación, o en la página de YouTube de Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, la firma de abogados de accidentes, lesiones y compensación al trabajador, tiene dos abogados que están certificados por el estado como especialistas en la ley de compensación al trabajador — Beatriz Trejo y Jim Yoro. La certificación es dado a profesionales legales que han logrado extra los requisitos de licencia. El programa fue el primero de su tipo en los Estados Unidos y ha servido como modelo para otros programas estatales para certificar a especialistas legales en todo el país.

———

ENGLISH

Chain | Cohn | Stiles law firm has partnered with Spanish language television station Univision Bakersfield to educate viewers on various legal issues, including what to do if you’re involved in an accident with little or no insurance, valley fever dangers in the workplace, and the importance of hiring a certified workers’ compensation lawyers in the event of a work injury.

The award-winning KABE Univision 39 is the most watched Spanish-Language television station in Bakersfield, which is home to nearly a half million Hispanics, making up 57% of the total population. To serve our community, Univision Bakersfield hosts public affairs programs, like “Te Informa” and “Despierta Bakersfield,” focused around hot topics including immigration, health, law, and education.

For its “Despierta Bakersfield” show, Chain | Cohn | Stiles associate attorney Beatriz Trejo joined host Ofelia Aguirre to discuss the following topics. You can also watch the segments on the Chain | Cohn | Stiles YouTube Page.

The Bakersfield-based accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is home to two lawyers who are state certified as specialists in workers’ compensation law, Beatriz Trejo and James Yoro. The certification is awarded to legal professionals who have gone beyond the standard licensing requirements. According to the State Bar, the program was intended to provide a method for attorneys to earn the designation of certified specialist in particular areas of law, increasing public protection and encouraging attorney competence. The program was the first of its kind in the United States, and it has served as a model for other state programs for certifying legal specialists around the nation.

———

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online 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.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files claim on behalf of family of 8-year-old attacked by dog at school

May 16, 2019 | 10:04 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a claim on behalf of the family of a second-grade student who was bitten on the face by a dog while in her classroom.

Leilani, 8, suffered severe lacerations and tearing to her face when she was attacked by one of two large dogs visiting her classroom on May 9 at Wayside Elementary School (Bakersfield City School District) in south Bakersfield. The dogs belonged to a volunteer reader from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office.

The family alleges in the claim that Bakersfield City School District and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office negligently allowed the volunteer reader to bring into the classroom two dogs, and failed to supervise the dogs in a safe manner. As a result, Leilani suffered severe injuries. The family further alleges that the dog owner is strictly liable pursuant to California Civil Code section 3342 (Dog Bite Statute).

The dogs appear to be similar to Akita or Chow breeds.

This case is a warning to school officials and parents toward allowing animals near young students on school campuses.

“A school should know better than to allow dogs into a second grade classroom.  No matter how gentle the dogs may be, their behavior can be unpredictable,” said Matthew C. Clark, attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Unfortunately for Leilani, she is likely to have lifelong facial and lip scarring, and vision difficulties.  Let this be warning to schools, and to dog owners: Do not bring dogs onto school campuses. The risk is simply too great.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles resolved a lawsuit in 2016 on behalf of a Bakersfield woman for $2 million in what was the largest award for a dog bite case against a public entity in California at the time, according to VerdictSearch, a verdict and settlement database.

UPDATE: AUGUST 2019

Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a lawsuit against the Bakersfield City School District on behalf of Leilani Rivera.

“This little girl is scared to go back to school,” attorney Matthew Clark told The Bakersfield Californian. “It’s the last thing you want to see in your kid,” especially someone who “admittedly loved” going to school, Clark added.

A case management conference is scheduled for January 2020, and the trial is expected to be scheduled to begin in the later months of 2020 or early months of 2021.

“We think the system is going to do this young woman justice,” Clark said. “It’s a horribly unfortunate event.”

———

If you or someone you know is bitten by a dog, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

———

MEDIA COVERAGE

CASE FOLLOW-UP

LAWSUIT FILED

Bike Month 2019: Bike Bakersfield events, safety tips, crash checklist and more

May 8, 2019 | 10:41 am


Bike Month

May is National Bike Month, a time to celebrate the power of the bicycle, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles is partnering with the local bicycle advocacy group, Bike Bakersfield, to promote bike safety throughout Kern County.

Bicycle accidents are on the rise in Bakersfield and the Central Valley, and sadly, so are deaths. In 2016, 138 bicycle riders were killed on California roads, a nearly 25 percent increase from 2011, according to Bakersfield Police Department and the California Office of Traffic Safety. Among the main factors in these crashes were failing to yield right of way, speeding, improper turning, using the wrong side of the road, and not following traffic signs or signals.

Below you’ll find a listing of events hosted by Bike Bakersfield and sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, as well as bike riding safety tips, and a checklist to use in the case of a bicycle accident.

Safe riding!

 

BIKE MONTH EVENTS 2019

As part of its mission to reduce the number of accidents in our community, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered for years with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of free bicycle lights and safety helmets throughout Kern County through “Project Light Up The Night” and “Kidical Mass” events, the latter of which also features bike repairs, safety demonstrations, and a group bike ride.

Here are several Bike Bakersfield events taking place this month, sponsored in part by Chain | Cohn | Stiles:

  • May 3, Roller Race Competition: Sprint competition from 5 to 8 p.m. at
    the Library (1718 Chester Ave). Fastest sprinter each hour gets a drink.
  • May 4, Give Big Kern at CALM: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for kid’s roller
    races and information on Giving Day!
  • May 6, Bike Mechanics Workshop: Frame alignment, fit, greasing seat post, stem and chain checks.
  • May 7, Give Big Kern Giving Day: 12 to 1 p.m. Give, ride to the park, and eat. Lunch from Tacos La Villa for the first 25 people who donate on Giving Day.
  • May 8, Bike to School Day: Post a selfie with the hashtag #BakoBikeMonth2019 for a chance to win great prizes.
  • May 11, Pride Ride: Decorations are encouraged at this fun ride
    beginning at 9 a.m. at The Center. Register on Facebook — @BikeBakersfield.
  • May 12, CycloFemme Day: Join at 10 a.m. at Park at River Walk to Hart Park. Or join us at Hart Park by 11:30 a.m. for light snacks, and a cruise.
  • May 13, Bike Mechanics Workshop: Servicing brakes and shifters.
  • May 15, Ride of Silence Ceremony: Starts at 6:30 p.m. at Cafe Smitten. Join early for 10 percent off your purchase. Honor cyclists killed or injured on public roadways.
  • May 17, Bike to Work Day: Take a selfie with you and your bike on the
    GET Bus using the hashtag #BakoBikeMonth2019, and be entered to win great prizes.
  • May 18, Blood Drive for Houchin Blood Bank: At Bolthouse Drive, bring your kids for a bike rodeo, bike repairs, and help save a life. Partnering with the Kern County Asthma Collaborative.
  • May 18, Full Moon Ride: Family-friendly ride from Beach Park to The Marketplace starting at 7 p.m.
  • May 20, Bike Mechanics Workshop: Headset and bottom bracket overhaul.
  • May 27, Bike Mechanics Workshop: Hub overhaul and wheel tuning 101.

Bike Bakersfield is also hosting “commuter support stands” from 6 to 9 a.m. on Thursdays, providing water, snacks, coffee, minor repairs and support
for those walking and bicycling (courtesy of Costco and Aldi).

  • May 2 at the Park at River Walk, and Beach Park bike paths.
  • May 9 at the bike paths off Finish Line, and Niles and Mount Vernon.
  • May 16 at Planz Park and Bike Arvin.
  • May 23 at California and Union Avenue, and Chester and China Grade.
  • May 30 at locations to be determined.

 

RULES OF THE ROAD

Here are bike laws you need to know to pedal safely and legally, courtesy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition:

  • Pedestrians have the right of way: In the crosswalk or not, bike riders and drivers are required to yield to pedestrians.
  • Stop behind the crosswalk: Leave crosswalks free and clear for pedestrians. Always stop behind the line.
  • Mind the signs and lights: Stop at stop signs and obey red lights, just like all other vehicles.
  • Stay on the streets: It’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
  • Go with the flow: Ride the same direction as traffic. Walk your bike on the sidewalk if you find yourself on the wrong block of a one-way street.
  • Take the lane: If you’re next to parked cars or you’re riding in a narrow lane — if you feel safer, take the lane and ride outside the door zone.
  • It’s OK to leave the bike lane: If you feel safer outside the bike lane, you can ride in other vehicle travel lanes. Merge when safe and signal when changing lanes.
  • Light up the night: Reflectors and a front white light are required by law. We recommend you use a rear light as well.
  • Keep an ear clear: Even when using hands-free devices, bike riders and drivers are required to keep one ear free of headphones.
  • Be a friend to disabled neighbors: Sometimes people with disabilities need access to the curb. Paratransit carriers (including taxis) may have to enter the bikeway to drop them off. Be a good neighbor and give them room.
  • Pass on the left: Although bike lanes are often on the right side of the road, people biking and driving are required to pass on the left.

The Bakersfield Police Department this month also offers a few tips to ensure the safety of everyone on the road:

  • Drivers should look behind them before making a turn at an intersection, especially if crossing into a designated bike lane.
  • Drivers should use extra caution backing up or leaving a parking space.
  • Bicyclists should go with the flow of traffic and let faster traffic pass.
  • Bicyclists should make themselves visible and wear brightly colored clothing.
  • Bicyclists are advised to use lights from dusk to dawn (front white light and rear red flashing light or reflectors).
  • Bicyclists should always wear a helmet and use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Both drivers and bicyclists should avoid distractions like using their cell phone.

 

CRASH CHECKLIST

If you are involved in a collision while riding a bicycle, it’s important to know the steps to follow to ensure that you receive fair response from the police and collect information you may need for future legal issues. Even if you are not injured, follow this checklist — courtesy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition — as injuries can come up later.

Immediately after a crash

  • Tell the driver to stay until the police arrive. If they refuse to stay or don’t provide ID, get their and the car’s description, vehicle’s license plate # and state of issue.
  • Call (or ask someone to call) 9-1-1, and ask for the police to come to the scene.
  • Get name and contact info for any witnesses. Ask them to remain on the scene until police arrive, if possible.
  • Ask for the driver’s license and insurance card. Write down name, address, date of birth, and insurance information.

When the police arrive

  • Ask them to take an incident report.
  • Get reporting police officer’s name and badge number.
  • If you’ve been doored, ask the officer to cite the motorist for dooring.
  • Ask the officers to speak to witnesses, if possible.
  • While a doctor’s report of your injury is important for insurance and/or legal action, you do not need to take an ambulance.

In the days after the crash

  • Contact witnesses to ask them to email you their version of what happened while it’s fresh in their mind. Email yourself a description of what happened with relevant information and capture as much detail as you can.
  • Take good photos of your injuries and any bike damage. Get an estimate from a bike shop before making repairs.
  • Request a copy of the incident report from the police.
  • Contact an attorney who has experience with bicycle accidents.

— Martin Esteves contributed to this report.

———

If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle accident at the fault of someone else, contact the attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles inducted into first Best of Kern County Hall of Fame class, selected to ‘Best Law Firm’ list

May 1, 2019 | 11:21 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been inducted into the inaugural Best of Kern County Hall of Fame, awarded to men, women, businesses, and organizations with a long history of excellence in their respective fields, and who also give back to our community.

In addition, the Bakersfield-based law firm has been selected by people in Kern County as a favorite in the “Best Law Firm” category of the annual Best of Kern County Readers’ Choice Poll by The Bakersfield Californian, unveiled recently in Bakersfield Life Magazine.

“We do what we do because we care about our community, and the people in it,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “This is our hometown. We want to make sure we help our local residents in and out of our office.”

Cohn continued: “We don’t do legal work or community goodwill to receive accolades. Still, we want to thank the people of Kern County for voting us into the Best Law Firm category year after year, and also Bakersfield Life Magazine for selecting us into the first Hall of Fame class. We sincerely appreciate it.”

This is the seventh year in a row that the law firm has been selected into the “Best Law Firm” category — each year since the category was introduced to The Bakersfield Californian’s Readers’ Choice Poll. But for more than 25 years, TBC Media has conducted the Best of Readers’ Choice Poll to showcase the people, places and things that make Kern County truly unique.

This year, the poll received 100,000 nominations and nearly 325,000 votes.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles was one of three inductees in the inaugural Hall of Fame class, announced during a Bakersfield Life Magazine reception. Ten local companies were nominated for the Hall of Fame. Joining the law firm was Urner’s, a local furniture store celebrating 100 years this year, and Jim Burke Ford, a local Ford dealership and one of the largest such dealerships in the country.

While these three businesses are different, their community giving is what makes them all similar. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is commemorating 85 years of helping accident and injury victims in Bakersfield. The law firm works closely with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, to help DUI crash victims, raise awareness of DUI crimes, and provide educational programs locally. The law firm also partners with Bike Bakersfield year after year to donate hundreds of safety helmets and bicycle lights to students and bike riders in areas of Kern County that need them the most.

Most recently, Chain | Cohn | Stiles donated $10,000 to the Bakersfield Homeless Center in an effort to combat our community’s homeless epidemic.

You can see the complete poll results online here, or in the magazine version here. And you can find our Best of Kern County awards displayed proudly in our law firm lobby in downtown Bakersfield. Hall of Fame winners will be highlighted during a “Best of Winners Circle” publication in The Bakersfield Californian.

You can hear from the law firm partners about the award on our Instagram Story video by clicking here.

———

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Kids still playing on the monkey bars? Prevent emergency room visits with these playground injury prevention tips

April 24, 2019 | 12:00 pm


Every 2-1/2 minutes, a child in a United States visits an emergency room for a playground-related injury, according to playgroundsafety.org. And a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that emergency departments see more than 20,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related traumatic brain injury each year.

We all want our children to play, and we all want them to be safe. With playground season in full season, it’s important we all take steps to make sure no one ends their day at the playground with a trip to the emergency room.

Playground injuries can be decreased or avoided if we all take the time to make ourselves aware of the potential hazards. Take time to focus on the outdoor environments where our children play. If we are all active in identifying and addressing unsafe playgrounds or equipment, our children will be that much safer.

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the risks of playground equipment and these injury prevention strategies, courtesy of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Bakersfield’s accident and injury law firm:

 

Inspect Your Playground

Playgrounds require regular inspection for necessary maintenance and repairs. Help your local playground by inspecting and reporting any unsafe equipment. A few tips:

  • Check the surfaces under the play structures. They should provide a cushion for where your child jumps or falls.
  • Check playground equipment for hazards such as loose bolts, wood splinters, or sharp edges. Pick up any trash or animal waste that might make your playground unsafe or unsightly.
  • Identify old, unsafe play equipment. Monkey bars account for many injuries, and are being removed from playgrounds.

 

Practice Safe Play

Most playground injuries are caused by falls, but you can also prevent injuries by making sure children are practicing safe play. Here’s how to do that:

  • Dress appropriately. Do not let your children wear clothing which can get caught in the playground equipment. Remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings.
  • Wear the right shoes. Do not let them wear boots, sandals, or flip-flops, which make their footing less secure on the playground equipment.
  • Play nice. Teach your children to share, take turns on the equipment, and to get along with others. Pushing and shoving cannot be tolerated.
  • Supervise. Children must always be supervised by an adult. Make sure they are playing safe and playing nice. Swings should be set far enough away from other equipment that children won’t be hit by a moving swing. Little kids can play differently than big kids.

 

Take Action

Take further actions to bring awareness to playground safety. Here’s how:

  • If you see unsafe playground equipment, report it to someone who can address the issue such as the park authority or owner.
  • Help your school survey the children and parents to identify what playground equipment they like and don’t like, which equipment they feel is safe and unsafe.
  • Challenge your school to an injury-free week on the playground.
  • Enlist the help of your elected officials to show their support for safe environments and playgrounds for children.
  • Invite a local newscaster or other local celebrity to come to a few parks or schools to talk about the importance of safe play.
  • Write to your local newspaper to praise safe parks and to identify those which aren’t safe.

———

If you or someone you know is injured in a playground accident, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.