Bakersfield Life Magazine highlights CCS 80-year anniversary

June 4, 2014 | 10:03 am


The newest issue of Bakersfield Life Magazine featured an article of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, highlighting the firm’s 80-year anniversary. Below is the article, which covers the history of our firm, our accomplishments in the last 80 years, and what’s ahead for the Bakersfield personal injury law firm.

Read the June 2014 magazine article to learn more.

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What is the history of Chain | Cohn | Stiles in Bakersfield?

Our law firm was founded in 1934 by Morris B. Chain, a local legend in Kern County courtrooms. Eventually, the firm developed practices in personal injury, wrongful death and social security disability, which are the core of the firm today. Some of the most respected names in local law were bred out of this firm, and our current attorneys continue to be the most respected in their fields – not only in Bakersfield and Kern County, but across the state.

Chain died in 1977, but his values are carried on today by David K. Cohn, David V. Stiles, six other dedicated attorneys and the firm’s professional staff.

How does Chain | Cohn | Stiles stand out from other firms today? 

As the oldest personal injury law firm in Bakersfield, with our attorneys and staff bred locally, we have an extra edge that a firm outside of Kern County – or in Kern County for that matter – would never have. We care about Kern County, and we hold those accountable to make sure our residents are treated properly.

Plus, we’re the only local firm to win “Best Law Firm” the last two years, and managing partner David Cohn has also been honored the last two years in the “Best Lawyer” category.

What firm accomplishments stand out from the last 80 years?

Our firm has more multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements than any other local law firm, and we’ve recovered more than half a billion dollars on behalf of our clients. Besides that, our commitment to help those in our local community has made workplaces safer. We’ve consistently held large corporations accountable – oilfield and agriculture companies included –which, in turn, has made workplaces safer for our community’s workers.

We’re also very proud of the deep connection this firm has made with our community – the firm’s roots are embedded in giving back. Our attorneys sit on local boards, including Clinica Sierra Vista, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and CASA Kern County, among many others. And our employees give back in many ways, too, including hosting teams for March of Dimes and Relay for Life, sharing their expertise at the university level, and donating their time to volunteer for local causes.

How are you commemorating 80 years in our community?

We’ve partnered with the City of Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Homeless Center to adopt a portion of the Westside Parkway, where we employ our homeless resident to keep our roads clean and beautify Bakersfield. You’ll see our sign on the Parkway, near Coffee Road, as reminder of our loyalty and service to our community for the last 80 years, and decades to come.

You’ll also see us giving back to a variety of local causes and events, including the Kern County Corporate Challenge, where our firm is going head-to-head against local businesses for the nonprofit, League of Dreams. And there’s more. To keep up to date, visit our website and blog –  bloggingforjustice.com – and follow us on social media.

MADD, Chain | Cohn | Stiles brings together Kern County residents for inaugural Walk Like MADD event to eliminate drunk driving

May 29, 2014 | 9:23 am


A 22-year-old respiratory therapist named Princess, who was the primary provider for her family. A 25-year-old pregnant mother-to-be. A 6-month-old daughter, and sister to a twin. What do all of these people have in common?

These are just some of the innocent lives taken away from Bakersfield this year at the hands of people driving under the influence. In 2014 thus far, Kern County has witnessed seven fatal crashes involving DUI drivers, according to Bakersfield Police Department and California Highway Patrol statistics. In 2013, Kern saw 15 DUI-related fatalities. They are statistics, arrests and tragedies that could have been 100 percent preventable – choices were made by people to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. That decision affected entire families and communities.

In an effort to raise awareness in our own community, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes, the Bakersfield/Kern County affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will host its first-ever “Walk/Run Like Madd” 5K at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Park at River Walk.

“This is our moment to say enough is enough,” said Carla Pearson, program coordinator and victim
advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. “We need to stop this madness on our
roadways.”

For Pearson, she knows too well the negative effects of drinking and driving. In 2002, her stepson, 23-year-old Adam Pierce, was killed by a repeat DUI offender. Following that tragedy, Pearson campaigned for victim’s rights in and out of the courtroom, and to take DUI offenders off of the streets. Her fight led to changes in California law in 2002 (Adam’s Law: AB 2173, VC 23593) that warned convicted DUI offenders that if they drove while drunk and someone died, they could be charged with murder.
Since 2011, MADD Kern County has assisted in more than 500 cases involving felony, injury and
fatal DUIs.

Today, Pearson is bringing the 5K walk and run to Kern County in hopes that local residents can help make a change in our community.

“The stories are still in the news, and we’re not getting it. Our community members are being killed by people’s wrong choices,” Pearson said. “We need to bring awareness. We need to make a change.”
Pearson is backed in this inaugural event by several local agencies including the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, Bakersfield Police Department, California Highway Patrol and sponsors including the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Walk Like MADD events are taking place in cities across the country, but ths is a first for Bakersfield. Registration is $15 for those ages 5-21, and $20 for those who are 21 and older. Corporations and groups are encouraged to form teams of 10 or more, and are asked to raise $100 each through donations. The goal in this inaugural walk and run is to raise $25,000 locally.

Individuals can participate in Walk Like MADD in three ways:

1) You can register to walk as an individual or form a team.
2) If you unable to attend, you can sign up online to raise money as a virtual walker.
3) Or, you can give a one-time donation to Walk Like MADD.

To sign up, donate or for more information, go to the local walk-run portal HERE.

You can also Google “Bakersfield Walk Like MADD” or search on Facebook: “Bakersfield Walk Like MADD.”

For more local information on the walk-run, to get in touch with local victims and/or families of victims, or if you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Jorge Barrientos at 661-334-4948, jbarrientos@chainlaw.com.

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ABOUT MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21 is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 8.6 minutes at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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SOBERING FACTS

MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING

  • MADD is a nonprofit, grassroots organization with more than 2 million members and supporters nationwide.
  • It was founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver.

DRUNK DRIVING IN BAKERSFIELD/KERN COUNTY

  • In 2014 thus far, Kern County has witnessed seven fatal crashes involving DUI drivers, according to Bakersfield Police Deparment and California Highway Patrol statistics.
  • In 2013, Kern saw 15 DUI-related fatalities.

DRUNK DRIVING IN CALIFORNIA

  • In 2012, California saw 802 drunk driving fatalities where drivers had .08 BAC or higher.
  • That represents nearly 30 percent of all total traffic deaths, and a nearly 4 percent increase from the year before.

DRUNK DRIVING IN THE UNITED STATES

  • In 2012, 10,322 people died in drunk driving crashes nationwide – one every 51 minutes.
  • Drunk driving makes up one-third of all highway fatalities in the United States.
  • Almost every 90 seconds, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash.
  • One in three people will be involved in drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
  •  Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

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EVENT INFORMATION

WHAT: The Kern County/Bakersfield affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosts its signature “Walk Like MADD” 5K fundraising walk and run on Saturday, Sept. 20, at The Park at River Walk. Local families, friends and co-workers will walk to raise funds and show support for MADD’s “Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.”

Funds raised through Walk Like MADD help further MADD’s life-saving mission and the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which calls for such things as high-visibility law enforcement, ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers and support for the development of advanced in-vehicle technology to prevent a drunk driver from operating the vehicle. Funds also support victims and survivors of drunk-driving crashes.

The timing for Walk Like MADD is significant because Bakersfield and Kern County have been host to one too many fatal DUI crashes in recent years.

WHEN: 6 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014; Pre-walk remarks begin at 6:30 a.m.; Walk begins at 7 a.m.

WHERE: The Park at River Walk, 11200 Stockdale Highway in Bakersfield.

WHY: In 2014 thus far, Kern County has witnessed seven fatal crashes involving DUI drivers, according to Bakersfield Police Department and California Highway Patrol statistics. In 2013, Kern County saw 15 DUI-related fatalities. Nationwide, more than 10,000 people were killed in 2012 and another 345,000 people were injured in drunk-driving crashes.

VISUALS: Families of victims of drunk-driving crashes, supporters, law enforcement personnel and
other community members walking and running for the cause.

SIGN UP: Go HERE

CONTACT: Jorge Barrientos, Marketing Director: 661-334-4948, jbarrientos@chainlaw.com

Cat saves Bakersfield boy from dog attack

May 14, 2014 | 8:53 am


Dog bite attacks can happen at any moment as evidenced by a Bakersfield video that has gone viral.

A cat came to the rescue of a boy when he was attacked in his driveway in southwest Bakersfield home. Surveillance video shows the boy playing on his bicycle in his front yard when a dog sneaks up behind him and grabs his leg.

The family’s cat, named Tara, according to KERO-23 (ABC) defends the boy, attacks the dog and chases it away. The boy’s mother told KERO that the boy was taken to a hospital and needed 10 stitches, but is doing fine now. The boy’s mother also was bit by the dog after she rescued her son.

The family spoke with The Bakersfield Californian, describing Tara as normally a tame cat.

“My cat, I have no idea where she was prior, honestly through the heat of it, I have no idea where she went after. Full lion safari moment,” the mother said.

The dog belonged to a neighbor, who took it to a local animal shelter, and it is now being quarantined for 10 days, The Bakersfield Californian reported

UPDATE: Since first appearing this morning, the video continues to spread through the web world and various media, from Los Angeles to Sacramento to San Francisco to New York. Other popular media including Time MagazineHuffington Post, and USA Today have also made mentions of the incident. It even reached the United Kingdom.

Tara the car also has earned her very own Facebook page that’s gotten tens of thousands of likes. The Bakersfield Californian reported on Tara’s quick rise in popularity worldwide.

Legal issues

“National Dog Bite Prevention Week” is from May 18 to 24 this year. According to State Farm insurance, California tops the list of states reporting the most dog bite claims, The Bakersfield Californian reported. 

The top 5 states for State Farm dog bite claims in 2013 were:

  • California — 449 claims $14.7 million paid
  • Illinois — 309 claims $8.9 million paid
  • Ohio — 221 claims $4.2 million paid
  • Texas — 207 claims $4.0 million paid
  • Pennsylvania — 180 claims $5.8 million paid

The Bakersfield dog bite and attack lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are well-equipped to handle personal injury cases involving animal attacks, most commonly dog bite cases. Statistically speaking, children under the age of 10 are at the highest risk for experiencing severe and often permanent impairments from a dog attack.

The attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have compiled several frequently asked questions that may help you in the case you or a loved one experiences such an incident.

Who can sue in an animal bite or animal knock-down case?

Any person, whether a minor or adult, who has been bitten or knocked down by an animal who has been improperly or inadequately leashed or contained can sue for injuries or death caused by an animal bite or knock-down.

Who can I sue?

If you were injured or a family member was injured or killed by any animal, you can sue the person who has or should have had control of the animal. For a person to be responsible they need not be the owner of the animal. However, an owner who retains some control over the animal remains liable even if the animal is partly under the care of others.

 Are there special protections under the law for people who are bitten by dogs?

Yes. California has a statute that holds that the “owner of a dog is liable for the damages suffered by anyone who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property, regardless of the prior viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of that viciousness.” Thus, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for anyone who is injured or killed by a dog bite. You do not have to prove that the owner was negligent. Although the dog bite statute does not apply to the person in possession or control of a dog, that person can still be found liable for your injuries if he or she was negligent in controlling or containing the dog.

 Is there a law that protects me and my family if we are attacked by any animal other than a dog?

Yes. The keeper of an animal of a species that is dangerous by nature, or that the keeper knows or has reason to know has dangerous propensities or traits, is strictly liable to anyone injured as a result of those propensities or traits. This rule provides greater protection than the dog bite statute, because it applies to keepers other than owners and animals other than dogs, including horses.

 My child suffered a severe injury after being knocked down by a large dog owned by a neighbor. Can my child bring a lawsuit and recover for his or her injuries?

Yes. If you can establish that the dog had dangerous propensities or traits you will be able to maintain a strict liability case against the owner and will not have to prove negligence. Further, the owner can be held responsible for negligence if you can prove that the owner failed to exercise ordinary care in controlling the dog. This can include failure to warn you and your child of the dog’s dangerous traits, failing to ascertain whether the dog had a dangerous propensity, failing to restrain a dangerous dog, or engaging in conduct likely to excite the dog causing him to knock down your child.

Further, if the dog was unleashed and you were in a city with a leash law, there will be a presumption that the owner was negligent in causing your child’s injuries.

 My aunt was walking down the street when a dog ran out of the house and charged at her. My aunt attempted to run away but tripped, fell and broke her hip. The dog never touched my aunt. Is she entitled to bring a lawsuit against the dog owner?

Although this may be a difficult case to prove, your aunt should be able to bring a case if she reasonably feared for her safety and she can prove that the owner or possessor of the dog knew or should have known of the dog’s propensity to attack people walking on the sidewalk and failed to act appropriately.

 My child was bitten by a dog when he crossed through my neighbor’s back yard to get to our house without being invited. Can he bring a lawsuit even though he was a trespasser?

Yes, but only if you can establish that your neighbor was negligent in leaving his dog in the back yard and that he knew or should have known that children would cross through his back yard. This will still be a difficult case, and you will not have the benefit of the strict liability rules that apply to other dog bite cases since trespassers are excluded under the dog bite statute.

What damages are recoverable in animal bite cases?

A Plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for past and future and medical expenses, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering, and if it is deemed that conduct is bad enough, punitive damages (i.e., punishment damages against the defendant). If the victim dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the victim’s death, as well as emotional distress damages which stem from the loss of society, care, and comfort of the decedent. If the survivors can prove that the victim lived for a period of time between the negligent act and death, they can also bring an action for punitive damages.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an animal attack, contact our Kern County personal injury law firm immediately.

Cycle safe in May, National Bike Month

May 12, 2014 | 9:38 am


The weather is beautiful. Gas prices are sky high. It’s all the more reason to get out in May and celebrate National Bike Month in Bakersfield. But before you hit the road, keep in mind that May is also Bicycle Safety Month.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has kicked off the “Be a Roll Model” campaign, aimed to encourage everyone to model safe behaviors to enhance the safety of all road users, including those who bicycle. The message: we can all play a part in being a “Roll Model” to decrease the risks of traffic crashes and preventable injuries and deaths.

The safety administration is inviting everyone to adopt this campaign to do the right (safe) thing when riding or driving around bicycles. Being a Role Model means:

  • Riding and driving focused, never distracted.
  • Riding and driving prepared; always expect the unexpected.
  • Putting safety first; we never know when a crash will occur, regardless of skill level or age; always wear a bicycle helmet when on a bicycle and a seat belt when in a car.
  • Following the rules of the road; a bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights on the roadway and responsibilities of motorized traffic.
  • Expecting law enforcement officers to monitor and address unsafe behaviors between motorists and bicyclists that put bicyclists at risk.
  • Sharing the road; both vehicle drivers (motorist and bicyclist) should look out for one another and show mutual respect.

National Bike Month is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast, including in Bakersfield and Kern County. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling, and encourage others to giving biking a try.

The campaign is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride, whether it’s biking to work or school, riding to save money or time, pumping those pedals to preserve your health or the environment, or simply to explore your community.

Closer to home, the California Highway Patrol is aiming to educate motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians about the rules of the road in an effort to reduce bicycle-involved collisions.

As of Sept. 16, California drivers will be required to give bicyclists three feet of clearance or slow down and pass when it would not endanger a bicyclist’s safety. The campaign suggests bicyclists wear a helmet and drivers wear a seat belt.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 142 bicyclists killed in California in 2011 and they accounted for five percent of the total collision fatalities in the state, The Bakersfield Californian reported.

And in March, according to The Californian, the California Household Travel Survey found that the number of California residents walking, biking or using public transportation in a typical day has more than doubled since 2000.

Also, Bike Bakersfield, a Bakersfield nonprofit bicycle advocacy group — whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally friendly means of everyday transportation — is hosting a number of events during Bike Month. For a list, go HERE.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe in bicycle safety. In fact, several of the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers and employees at the law firm practice safety measures each time they hop on their bicycles.

Sadly, accidents still happen even after taking proper safety measures. We’ve developed a list of questions and answers related to bicycle accidents. If you are ever in a bicycle accident, be sure to keep these answers and tips in mind. And for more resources related to bicycle accidents, including more questions and answers, see our Frequently Asked Questions section HERE.

If I am injured while riding my bicycle, can I sue the driver that hit me?

Yes, as long as you can establish that the driver was at fault.

Can I still bring a lawsuit against the driver if I was doing something I was not supposed to, such as riding on the wrong side of the street, not wearing a helmet or not having proper lights or reflectors at night?

Yes. You can bring a lawsuit as long as you can prove that the driver or some other person or entity was at fault. The bicyclist has the same duties and responsibilities on roadways as a motor vehicle driver. Further, there are some additional special requirements for bicyclists. Adult bicyclists are not required by law to wear helmets, although a jury can still find you negligent for not wearing a helmet even if you are an adult. Further, not following the law by riding on the wrong side of the road or not having proper gear to ride at night can, and often will be found to be negligent behavior on your part. However, a bicyclist’s negligence does not eliminate their ability to sue another party; it simply reduces the recovery by the percentage of their fault.

 My child was injured or killed while riding his bicycle. What are our rights?

Children, particularly young children, are not held to the same standard of care for their own safety as adults. Thus, drivers must be more cautious when they know that children riding bicycles are in the area. Even if your child was negligent, you may be able to recover against anyone responsible for causing the accident, including the driver of the vehicle that hit your child.

 I was riding my bicycle when I rode over a pothole which threw me off my bike and caused a serious head injury. Do I have a case?

Yes. You have a potential case. If you can establish that public or private property was in a dangerous condition and that it was foreseeable that someone would be riding a bicycle over that property, you will be able to bring a case. However, to win the case you must prove that the possessor or owner of the property created, knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition on the property and failed to repair or warn of the danger.

What damages are recoverable in bicycle accident cases?

A Plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering, and if it is deemed that conduct is bad enough, punitive damages (i.e., punishment damages against the defendant). If the bicyclist dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the bicyclist’s death as well as emotional distress damages which stem from the loss of society, care and comfort of the decedent. If the survivors can prove that the bicyclist lived for a period of time between the negligent act and death, they can also bring an action for punitive damages.

How soon do I need to bring a case after a bicycle accident?

A Bicycle Accidents and/or wrongful death action, under California law, must be brought within two years of the date of the accident, if the accident occurred on or after January 1, 2003; and one year from the date of the accident if the accident occurred prior to January 1, 2003.

In cases against public entities, a claim must be filed against the public entity within six months from the date of the accident. If the plaintiff is a minor, a minor has until their 19th birthday to bring case unless there is a government claim in which a minor should bring the claim within six months of the accident, or one year at the latest.

Will my bicycle accident case settle and does it make a difference if I hire an attorney?

It is always a good idea to consult or retain an attorney in a bicycle accident case because there usually will be some questions of comparative fault. In addition, expert witnesses may need to be retained to reconstruct the accident and help determine responsibility for the accident.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles marks one-year anniversary of David Silva wrongful death

May 8, 2014 | 10:50 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles on Thursday morning released a statement to local media marking the one-year anniversary of the wrongful death of David Silva. The Bakersfield personal injury law firm is representing the family of Silva. For news coverage of the anniversary of Silva’s death, follow CCS on social media or return to this blog.

UPDATE: Several media outlets covered the one-year anniversary and protests. See them below.

The news release is as follows:

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May 8, 2014

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Family, attorney mark one-year anniversary of wrongful death of David Silva

Bakersfield, Calif. (May 8, 2014) – On the night of May 7, 2013, David S. Silva was asleep in front of a home in east Bakersfield, across from Kern Medical Center. Several law enforcement officers arrived on scene and proceeded to use unreasonable and excessive force in striking Silva with batons several times all over his body, while he screamed for his life and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. After being repeatedly beaten, bitten and hog-tied, Silva stopped breathing.

Shortly after midnight, Silva was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

“Today marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic and unfortunate death of David Silva at the hands of local law enforcement from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner with Chain | Cohn | Stiles, who is representing the Silva family. “Although disappointed, we were not surprised by District Attorney Lisa Green’s decision several weeks ago to not pursue criminal charges against these officers. That being said, we remain committed to obtaining justice on behalf of David and his entire family, especially his four children, who will be without a father for the rest of their lives.”

He continued: “The road to obtaining justice will be a difficult one; however, we are confident that in the end, the truth will prevail and justice will be done. This case is certainly about David Silva and about what happened to him, but it is also about much more than that. It is about changing the culture of local law enforcement in this community, and holding law enforcement officers who use unreasonable and excessive force accountable for their actions.”

Attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles will be in attendance and support the family of David Silva as they hold a rally at 4 p.m. today at the Liberty Bell outside of Kern County Superior Court, on the corner of Truxtun and Chester avenues.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a civil rights lawsuit in connection with the wrongful death of David Silva. The lawsuit arises out of an incident at the intersection of Flower Street and Palm Street in Bakersfield, when David Silva died as a result of unreasonable and excessive force used by six Sheriff’s deputies, a sergeant, and two California Highway Patrol officers. The complaint seeks damages on behalf of David’s four young children, his significant other, his parents and his brother, for the loss of love, affection, society, service, comfort, support, right of support, expectations of future support and counseling, companionship, solace and mental support, as well as other benefits and assistance of Silva.

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1430 Truxtun Avenue, Suite 100 – Bakersfield, CA – 93301 – Phone: 661-323-4000

CHAIN | COHN | STILES is Kern County’s leading plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm. Our Bakersfield personal injury attorneys have represented clients from throughout the San Joaquin Valley and California for 80 years. We concentrate our efforts on protecting the rights of individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another. If you have been injured due to the fault of another, you have the right to hold that person or entity accountable, no matter how rich or powerful that person or entity may be. At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we pride ourselves on having the reputation and resources necessary to overcome the most difficult challenges while achieving the best possible results for our clients. For more information, go to chainlaw.com.

Find us on Facebook, Twitter (@chainlaw), Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp and Google+

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NEWS COVERAGE

KERO-23 (ABC): Silva family attorneys release statement on anniversary of David Silva’s death

KERO-23 (ABC): One year since David Silva died after confrontation with deputies

KERO-23 (ABC): Family marks one year anniversary of David Silva’s death with courthouse rally

New America Media/South Kern Sol: On Anniversary of David Silva Slaying, Protesters Demand Justice

KBAK/KBFX (Fox): Family says justice hasn’t been served for in-custody death

 

David K. Cohn: The most interesting man in the world?

May 7, 2014 | 9:34 am


He may not be “the most interesting man in the world” who you’ve probably seen on the beer commercials, but Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner and Bakersfield personal injury attorney David K. Cohn is close.

Bakersfield Life Magazine recently featured Cohn in the monthly “12 Random Things You Didn’t Know About …” section of the monthly Bakersfield publication. The section typically highlights a well-known personality in Kern County, who shares facts that most people around our community may not know.

Part of reason Cohn was chosen for this feature is because he has been practicing law for nearly 40 years, and today he is one of the most highly regarded personal injury lawyers in Kern County.

He’s also a scuba diver, an avid University of Southern California football fan and university alumnus, and a Bakersfield native.

Additionally, the feature story was included in the May 2014 issue of Bakersfield, which happens to the “Best of Bakersfield” issue, where the results of a city-wide poll by The Bakersfield Californian newspaper of everything related to Bakersfield are revealed. In the issue, Chain | Cohn | Stiles was voted by Bakersfield as the “Best Law Firm” for the second year in a row, and Cohn was voted as a “favorite” in the “Best Lawyer” category, also the second time he was chose for this category.

“… It’s in his practice where Cohn truly shines,” Bakersfield Life Magazine wrote in the recent issue, which you can find on newsstands around Kern County now. “In this year’s Best of Bakersfield competition, his firm — Chain | Cohn | Stiles — was voted Best Law Firm and Cohn bears the title of ‘Super Lawyer’ in Southern California, an honor bestowed upon only the top 5 percent of lawyers in the region.”

Among the random facts that Cohn shared with Bakersfield were:

  • Some of my first jobs included making pizzas at Pizzaville, vacuuming cars at Oak Street Car Wash and sweeping out box cars for Santa Fe Railroad.
  • I’ve known David Stiles, my law partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, since grade school. We attended Roosevelt Elementary.
  • I once dove down to 210 feet in the South Pacific. I also dove in Malaysia, Borneo, Micronesia and Tahiti.
  • If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would have been a pilot.
  • I’ve practiced law for nearly 40 years and have fought well over 10,000 cases in my career.

To see the rest of the random facts, read the online version HERE, or the magazine version HERE. And to read more about Cohn and his practice, see his biography HERE.

Tips: Celebrate with safety this Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2014 | 9:30 am


Bakersfield is rich with culture, especially within our Hispanic community. This Cinco de Mayo (May 5) will undoubtedly bring celebration citywide.

It’s important, however, to keep safety in mind today whether you are celebrating around town, or are traveling through local streets during this holiday. The popularity of Cinco de Mayo celebrations, especially among young people, has brought about some problems — alcohol-involved crashes.

Bakersfield Police Department and other local law enforcement has traditionally bumped up enforcement around this holiday.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives some sobering stats:

  • From 2008 to 2012, 233 people were killed in drunken driving crashes on Cinco de Mayo. 
  • In 2012, almost half (45 percent) of all traffic crash deaths on Cinco de Mayo involved drunk driving.

To increase your chances of enjoying a safe Cinco de Mayo celebration, the safety administration recommends that you plan ahead, and:

  • Designate your sober driver before the festivities begin.
  • If you’ve been drinking, call a friend or taxi, or use public transportation to get home.
  • Contact your local police if you see a drunk driver on the road. 
  • If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them find a safe ride home.

As the statistics show, DUI crashes and incidents are still bound to happen. The Bakersfield accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles also have some tips in the unfortunate case you are the victim in an accident.

The attorneys at CCS are passionate about keeping our streets as safe as possible. In fact, the law firm has partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County in the first Bakersfield “Walk (Run) Like MADD” fundraiser, which will be held this September.

Below are several “Frequently Asked Questions” and answers from the Bakersfield law firm’s website related to DUI accidents, and what you should do if you are ever a victim. And remember, if you are ever involved in an accident, call the firm at 661-323-4000.

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Does the law differentiate between people who are killed or seriously injured by drunk drivers as opposed to people who are injured or killed by people driving under the influence of street drugs or prescription drugs?

No. The law makes no distinction between driving under the influence of alcohol, street drugs or prescription drugs. That is why the term “DUI,” which means “driving under the influence” is used to describe the crime rather than “drunk driving.”

Who can sue in a DUI case?

Any person who is injured by the wrongful conduct of a person driving under the influence, or the survivors of someone who was killed by a defendant who was driving under the influence, can bring a lawsuit against the defendant driver and any other person or entity who was responsible for the accident.

Is it easier to prove a drunk driving case than a case in which a person is driving under the influence of drugs?

Yes. The relationship between a high blood alcohol level and driver impairment is well known and well established. The same relationship between prescription and street drugs has been far less studied and is not within the common knowledge of most drivers and jurors. Thus, drunk driving cases are easier to prove.

What if the person who injured me was found to be driving under the influence, but I feel like I also was probably at fault. Can I bring a lawsuit?

Yes. California is a comparative negligence State. This means that you can sue any responsible party even if you are partially at fault in the accident. However, your damage award will be reduced by the percentage of your own negligence.

How impaired must a defendant be for there to be a presumption under the law that the defendant was negligent?

A defendant will be presumed to be negligent for causing an accident if you can establish that the driver’s physical or mental abilities were so impaired by the drug or alcohol use that they could not drive with the caution or ability of a person of ordinary prudence and skill in similar circumstances. Thus, a person can have a few drinks or drive under the influence of prescription drugs without being presumed to be negligent.

Will expert testimony be necessary for me to establish that the other driver was under the influence?

Probably. Usually a toxicologist will have to be called at trial to establish the level of alcohol and/or drugs in a person’s body. In addition, a human factors expert may be necessary to testify to the relationship between the blood alcohol or drug level and driver impairment

What damages can I recover in a wrongful death or serious Drunk Driving Accidents case stemming from the negligence of a defendant who was driving under the influence?

The injured person is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical treatment, past and future wage loss, damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Further, plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages. If the injured person dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the injured person’s death, as well as monetary damages which stem from the loss of society, care, and comfort of the decedent.

What do I need to establish to prove punitive damages in a case in which the defendant was driving under the influence?

First of all, punitive damages are not recoverable in California in any wrongful death case. If your loved one has died, you can only claim punitive damages if they survived for at least a few moments after the collision that killed them. To recover punitive damages in an injury or a “survivor” action against a person who was driving under the influence, you must prove that:

  • That the defendant voluntarily drank or took drugs to the point of intoxication/impairment before they knew that they would be driving;
  • That the defendant was convicted of a felony under Civil Code Section 3245(d).
  • They were aware of the probable dangerous consequences of their conduct; and,
  • They willfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences.

Special settlement considerations in drunk driving cases?

Whether or not an insurance company wants to admit it, the jurors’ focus in a case in which the defendant was driving under the influence will be on the reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct more than it will be on the extent of a plaintiff’s damages. Thus, a plaintiff should never settle a case against a person who was driving under the influence for the same amount of money that they would settle any other case. The case will always be worth more money than a typical Drunk Driving Accidents or wrongful death case, and may be worth many more times the usual value of the case, depending upon the seriousness of defendant’s misconduct.

Do I need an attorney to pursue my case against a defendant who was driving under the influence?

Yes. You will need an attorney to help you establish the degree of impairment of the defendant. Further, a skilled attorney will understand that you will receive all of the benefit of the doubt that you will need in a case against a person driving under the influence and will prepare the damage part of your case accordingly. This will help you achieve a larger settlement or verdict than you would be able to achieve on your own.

We’re the best, again! Thank you Kern County!

April 26, 2014 | 7:28 am


Thank you Kern County! You’ve chosen us as the best once again!

This morning, Bakersfield Life Magazine and The Bakersfield Californian unveiled the “Best of Kern County” winners – and we’re on top once again!

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been voted “Best Law Firm,” and David K. Cohn was chosen as a “favorite” in the “Best Lawyer” category. This is the second year in a row that we have been honored in these two categories. The “best law firm” and “best lawyer” categories were added to The Bakersfield Californian’s Readers’ Choice Poll two years ago, and we’ve been winner each year now.

The recognition would not be possible without all of you – the people of Kern County. Thank you for acknowledging the hard work our attorneys and staff put in every day. Thank you for voting us as your choice law firm and lawyer for 2014, and allowing us to serve Kern County for the last 80 years.

Our passion is to bring justice and protect the rights of local residents who have been seriously injured due to the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another. We also strive today to assist local residents in need of social security disability and workers’ compensation* cases.

The recognition and awards, simply, are icing on the cake.

So, once again, thank you for trusting us to stand for you. We’ve been named the best, and we will keep on working hard and fighting for you to continue to be the best.

Warm regards,

The staff and attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with city, homeless center in freeway litter cleanup project

April 16, 2014 | 10:00 am


It was Bakersfield’s Buck Owens who made the “Streets of Bakersfield” famous in the 1970s, through his iconic country music song. In recent years, however, those streets have become infamous for the litter that scatters the pavement. 

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we’re proud of our community, our city and our streets, and we wish to keep our city as clean and healthy as possible. 

This year, on our 80-year anniversary and as a gift to the city we’ve served during that time, we’ve sponsored the City of Bakersfield’s “Freeway Litter Cleanup Project.” Here’s how it works:

Our sponsorship dollars go to pay residents from the Bakersfield Homeless Center to clean up our portion of the newest Bakersfield freeway — the Westside Parkway. Our sponsored highway section is at Coffee Road, eastbound on the Parkway. (see the picture of our sign HERE).

The program is a win for everyone involved: it keeps our freeway clean, increases community pride, gives jobs to the homeless, and sponsorships keep costs down for  the city and homeless center.

The program — partnering the homeless center with the city, and local business — has been hailed nationwide by other county and city governments. 

Recently, Chain | Cohn | Stiles received a letter from Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall thanking us for our participation.

“Working together we will best this blight, that for too long has marred the landscape in our city,” Hall wrote in the letter.

To learn more about the program, click on the following links:

Chain | Cohn | Stiles responds to Kern County District Attorney decision on Silva case

April 11, 2014 | 4:15 pm


Chain | Cohn | Stiles on Friday released the following news release after Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green announced that her office would not be seeking criminal charges against the law enforcement officers involved in the death of David Silva, represented by this firm:

Below the release are links to media coverage of the announcement, and the response from Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

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April 11, 2014                                                                                                       

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Attorney in David Silva case calls Kern County District Attorney’s Office decision a disappointment

The attorney for the family of David S. Silva on Friday called the decision by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office a disappointment, following its decision to not file charges against officers that beat and hogtied him before he died.

“This is the reason we need an independent advisory panel evaluating these types of cases,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner with Chain | Cohn | Stiles and attorney representing the Silva family. “Kern County District Attorney’s Office personnel work with these agencies every day, and they’re the ones in charge of prosecuting cases for them. Apparently, the way it works in Kern County is that unless they catch the officers red-handed, nothing will happen. It appears that they look for ways not to prosecute.”

Cohn continued: “Given that we do not have an independent panel in place to investigate, that’s the reason we filed a lawsuit in this case on behalf of the Silva family.  Through this lawsuit, we believe the truth will come out. We have the ability to question these officers under oath. We’ll be more thorough in this investigation than any investigation that the Kern County District Attorney’s Office has done thus far. We won’t just rely on the investigative reports prepared by the Sheriff’s office, which are self-serving, one-sided versions of the events leading up to David Silva’s tragic death.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a civil rights lawsuit in connection with the wrongful death of David Silva in May 7, 2013. The lawsuit arises out of an incident at the intersection of Flower Street and Palm Street in Bakersfield, when David Silva died as a consequence of unreasonable and excessive force used by six Sheriff’s deputies, a sergeant, and two California Highway Patrol officers.

The complaint seeks damages on behalf of David’s four young children, his significant other, his parents and his brother, for the loss of love, affection, society, service, comfort, support, right of support, expectations of future support and counseling, companionship, solace and mental support, as well as other benefits and assistance of the decedent, David Silva.

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Meanwhile, local, state and national news media has been covering the announcement and response. Here are some of those articles and videos. 

 

The Bakersfield Californian: Prosecutors won’t file charges in David Silva’s death, Letters to the Editor

KERO-23, ABC: Attorney in David Silva case calls Kern County District Attorney’s Office decision a disappointment

KBFX-58, KBAK-29, FOX: Kern County prosecutor: No charges in Silva in-custody death 

KGET-17, NBC: District attorney: No charges to be filed in David Silva case

KGET-17, NBC: DA: No charges for deputies in deadly Silva confrontation

KERO-23, ABC: Kern County District Attorney will not file charges in the alleged beating death of David Silva

CBS-2, KCAL-9, Los Angeles: No Charges Filed Against Deputies In Bakersfield Arrest Death

San Francisco Chronicle: No charges filed in Kern County arrest death