The end of Thanksgiving, for many people, means one thing: It’s almost time for Christmas.
With that comes the tradition of hanging beautiful Christmas lights. But stringing lights across your roof and around your home can be a safety hazard if you are not careful.
Each year, more than 15,000 people were injured during November and December, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And each year, injuries increase. The most common reported incidents include falls, lacerations and back strains. Fires are also common, which can lead to injuries, deaths and property loss.
But for those who decide to hang Christmas lights on their own, the Kern County attorneys would like you to take a look at a few safety tips, courtesy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
Before you string up a single strand of lights, carefully check them for cracked cords, frayed ends or loose connections.
Newer lights have fused plugs, which prevent sparks in case of a short circuit. Toss any old strands of lights in the trash that don’t have fuses.
If bulbs have burned out, replace them right away, but make sure you use the correct wattage bulbs.
Make sure outdoor lights are plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to reduce the risk of shorts and shocks.
Keep an eye on extension cords, as they can overheat. If the cord is hot, unplug it.
Don’t use tacks, nails or screws to hang lights. They can pierce the cable and become electrified. Use insulated hooks instead.
When running extension cords along the ground, make sure to elevate plugs and connectors with a brick to water and debris out of the connections.
Tape down any ground-level extensions cords to prevent people from tripping over them.
Not all lights are made for outdoor use. Make sure the ones you string up on the house belong out there.
When you put your lights back into storage, make sure to put them in a well-sealed container to prevent possible water damage and to block hungry rodents looking to turn the cords into lunch. My final advice? Be careful with ladders.
If you or a loved one is injured during the holiday season, call the Bakersfield personal injury law firm, Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com.
Bakersfield College recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary. The Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles this year is celebrating 80 years.
For the two local institutions, a partnership is only natural. The two Bakersfield staples are partnering this year to help bring all Bakersfield College “Renegades” football games to the people of Kern County.
The BC and Chain | Cohn | Stiles partnership is made possible because of another partnership between Bakersfield staples — BC and The Bakersfield Californian. The local newspaper, its affiliated publication and digital products (together called TBC Media) are partnering to bring Renegades football games in video to Bakersfield.com for the 2014 season.
For the first time, all 10 of Bakersfield College’s 2014 football games will be live streamed in video on Bakersfield.com and GoGades.com, where video highlights from the games will also be available for instant viewing.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles for the 2014-15 season has signed on to sponsor the Renegade football team. You’ll see local law firm in the football game programs distributed at each game (the picture above is from the full-page ad that will be highlighted in the football program — see it full screen here). You’ll see the newest commercials from the law firm airing during the live streamed football games. And you’ll also hear the law firm’s radio commercials when the games are broadcast on Newstalk KERN 1180 AM.
You can watch all of the law firm’s latest commercials by visiting a previous Blogging For Justice post HERE.
To listen to our two radio commercials that will air on KERN 1180, click the links below:
For Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the partnership is also natural because the law firm’s founder Morris Chain is credited for inventing the name “Renegades” for Bakersfield College. Chain played BC football for three years himself. Recently, the law firm accepted the “100 Stars Award” on Chain’s behalf (he died in 1977), awarded to 100 alumni, retirees and community members who had a great impact on Bakersfield College. See a previous blog post about this HERE.
The Renegades start their 2014 season at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 on road at Riverside City College. Bakersfield College returns to Memorial Stadium the following week, Sept. 13, for a 6 p.m. game against Golden West. Each game webcast will feature pre-game and post-game show.
To watch the games online, go to Bakersfield.com. TBC Media will build a section where all of the highlights, full games and other content will be stored for on-demand viewing.
UPDATE: Arrests have been made in this case. See the news stories below for more information.
Russell Lester and Bryan Walls were attending a party on Fourth of July in west Bakersfield, celebrating our nation’s independence and wedding reception. By the end of the night, they were in local hospitals.
The two arrived at the party where party-goers were allegedly setting off illegal fireworks and explosives. Lester and Walls were asked to hold the balloons while they were filled with acetylene gas, which is very unstable, highly flammable gas. The balloons were being taped to a pole when they exploded. It’s possible static electricity ignited them.
Four people were severely injured in the blast, including Lester and Walls. The two suffered burns to their face, chest and arms. Lester lost all the hearing in his right ear and partial hearing in his left ear, and lost peripheral vision in his left eye. Walls suffered hearing loss, too, and Lester’s burns were so severe that he was taken to a Fresno burn center. Others were taken to San Joaquin Community Hospital‘s Grossman Burn Center.
The incident has been covered by local media in recent days. The case was publicly revealed by KERO Channel-23 News on Aug. 4, a month after the actual accident.
Jim Trino, who allegedly was igniting the bombs, told KERO he was celebrating his wedding reception that night. He told KERO that he had been setting off legal and illegal fireworks for more than 30 years, including the acetylene bomb which he pumped the gas into balloons, hung on a metal pole in the middle of a field, and ignited.
The Bakersfield Californian also covered the case, including an article by Californian columnist Lois Henry, who argues that local safety agencies failed to inform the public properly about the incident. She calls it “a communications and training failure, something that can only be fixed from the top down.”
To catch up on the news coverage, click the links below:
The personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are major proponents of fireworks safety and providing burn victims with world-class care. Go HERE for tips on celebrating the Fourth of July safely. And read about our $200,000 donation to the Grossman Burn Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital HERE.
Several things set apart Chain | Cohn | Stiles from other law firms in Bakersfield, Kern County and the San Joaquin Valley. It’s one of the oldest and most successful personal injury law firms in the area, for example.
But another fact that makes Chain | Cohn | Stiles stand out is that most of the attorneys and staff at the personal injury law firm are from Bakersfield, or have called Bakersfield home for many, many years.
They’ve gone through local schools, have grown up in our community and have also raised their own kids in this town.
It’s something the lawyers and staff are proud of — to be able to represent their neighbors, who also call Kern County home. We wanted to share their stories with local residents.
With the help of the Bakersfield based agency Scope Studios, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has unveiled 90-second “Meet the Attorneys” videos, to give people of Kern County a chance to meet the lawyers and staff in this firm, and learn how and why they decided to become lawyers.
Watch each of the new “Meet the Attorneys” videos by clicking the names below:
These 90-second “Meet the Attorneys” videos have also been edited as 30-second videos, which have begun airing throughout Kern County. Watch them now throughout the day airing on Bright House Networks channels, KGET (NBC, 17), KERO (ABC, 23), KBFX (FOX, 58) and KBAK (CBS, 29). Or you can watch them here by clicking the names below:
Additionally, to help serve more of Kern County’s Hispanic and Spanish-speaking population, Chain | Cohn | Stiles and Scope Studios have also produced two 30-second Spanish language videos. They feature Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos, and focus on the practices of accidents and workers’ compensation*. They are airing now on OGET (Telemundo, 17-3) and KABE (Univision, 39). You can also watch them here by clicking the titles below:
Please let us know what you think after watching these videos by commenting below.
* NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.
The San Joaquin Valley heat continues to beat down on the streets of Bakersfield and Kern County. It’s important to be as safe as possible when outside, and remember Kaitlyn’s Law if you’re driving with young ones in your vehicle.
Kaitlyn’s Law was adopted in 2002 following the death of 6-month-old Kaitlyn Russell. She was left unattended in 100 degree heat by her babysitter for several hours and was later found dead. Kaitlyn’s Law makes it illegal for children ages 6 years or younger to be left unattended in a vehicle without supervision of a person who is 12 years or older when:
There are conditions that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety;
And when the vehicle’s engine is running and/or the vehicle’s key is in the ignition.
As temperatures in Bakersfield continue to remain in triple digits and high double digits, the risk of vehicular hyperthermia, or heat stroke remains – especially when young children are left unattended in vehicles. Regardless of how or why a child is left behind, the end result can be devastating, the Bakersfield Police Department states in a recently released advisory.
Studies have shown that within 20 minutes, air temperature in a small car exposed to the sun on a 95-degree day exceeded 122 degrees inside of the vehicle. Within 40 minutes the temperature soared to 150° degrees. Leaving a window slightly opened or cracked did little to prevent the temperature from rising to a level dangerous for children, vulnerable adults and pets, according to Bakersfield Police Department. No matter what the weather is like, or length of time you need to be away from your vehicle, leaving a child unattended in a vehicle is extremely risky, and can result in tragedy.
Recently, a father in North Carolina made national headlines and his video went viral when he tested the car heat. After seeing a story about yet another toddler death after the baby was left alone in a hot car, the father got into his car on a 90-degree day, rolled up the windows and switched off the air-conditioner. You can watch the video here.
Leaving children in cars also poses many dangers besides hyperthermia. Dangers to children left unattended in cars include carbon monoxide poisoning, runaway vehicles, carjacking, child abduction, trunk entrapment and emotional trauma, according to safety officials.
Following this post last week, Amber Rollins, the director of “Kids and Cars” — a nonprofit public safety awareness website for child safety around automobiles — wrote Chain | Cohn | Stiles to make readers aware of a campaign to prevent child heatstroke deaths in vehicles.
KidsAndCars.org has launched a “We the People” petition drive on the White House petition website to urge the White House to authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation to:
Provide funding for research and development of innovative technology to detect a child in the rear seat when a driver leaves the vehicle and a child is left alone.
Identify, evaluate and test new technology to accelerate implementation of the most feasible and effective solutions.
Require installation of technology in all vehicles and child safety seats to prevent children from being left alone in vehicles.
The goal of the campaign is to get 100,000 signatures on the petition by Aug. 12. Go to http://wh.gov/lL8nX to sign the petition.
Local law enforcement authorities say Erik Webb, a worker with the county of Kern, rear-ended another vehicle while in a county-issued truck on July 1, at the 4100 block of Union Avenue near Columbus Street. After the crash, Webb gathered his belongings from the truck and fled the scene, according to police reports.
He was later caught and arrested by law enforcement. Webb remained in Kern County jail until he sobered up, and was then cited and released. Webb was charged with a DUI and hit-and-run resulting in property damage, records from the Kern County Superior Court show.
Representatives from the county of Kern told local media that Webb went into work the day after the crash and told his supervisor what happened, and he was sent home. Webb was also suspended with pay. Webb was placed on administrative leave, and he was not assigned another vehicle.
Clark on Monday spoke with KERO-23 news about the case on Monday, speaking on behalf of the injured victim. Police reports show that Webb also told authorities he had been “messing” with his phone prior to the crash. It’s important, Clark said, that drivers not use their phones while driving, and to drive sober — especially if driving a county-issued vehicle.
KERO also reported that Webb had resigned from his position at the county of Kern.
If you’re involved in a car accident, first, stay calm. If you are injured, and if it is safe to do so, remain inside your vehicle until emergency personnel respond to the scene. Once out of your vehicle, make certain to obtain the other parties personal and insurance information. Often times, the police or California Highway Patrol will do this for you. Also, if there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to obtain contact information (including name and phone number) for each witness. Later, witnesses can be important to your case. Most importantly, do not speak with an insurance adjuster until you contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles first. Law firm representatives are available by phone and email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you speak with an insurance adjuster first, oftentimes they will obtain a recorded statement from you, which could be used against you later. It is always best to speak with a lawyer who will protect your rights first.
For more tips and information on car accidents and the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles — including frequently asked questions and answers — visit our specialized car accident website HERE.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
In 2009, San Joaquin Community Hospital established the Grossman Burn Center. Before then, Bakersfield and Kern County residents in need of specialized burn care had to travel more than 100 miles to Fresno or Los Angeles for treatment.
Since opening in Bakersfield, the Grossman Burn Center has averaged about 350 patients annually, according to The Bakersfield Californian.
Dr. A. Richard Grossman, for whom the center is named after, died recently at 81. The plastic and reconstructive surgeon pioneered care for burn patients in Sherman Oaks four decades ago. In the decades that followed, Grossman Burn Centers were established in Phoenix, Kansas City and, of course, in Bakersfield.
“We’ve seen firsthand in our work representing burn victims how the Grossman Burn Center at SJCH provides world-class care,” CCS managing partner David K. Cohn said in 2012 during a ceremony acknowledging the donation. “It was important to us as a law firm and as part of this community to be part of bringing state-of-the-art burn care to Kern County. In addition, the Grossman Burn Center’s assistance to the families of children without sufficient financial resources to battle serious burn injuries is something we are very proud to support.”
Today, we honor Dr. Grossman for his work that still resonates.
To learn more about the local Grossman Burn Center and its services, visit www.sjch.us/burncenter. And to learn more about how Chain | Cohn | Stiles serves burn victims, go HERE.
St. Patrick’s Day is the second most dangerous time of the year for drunk driving fatalities, just behind New Year’s Day. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 79 people in the United States were killed in drunk driving crashes on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012. This represents 48 percent of all highway fatalities for that time period, the second highest percentage of the year.
MADD Kern County leader and CCS friend Carla Pearson recently spoke with KGET-17 about the dangers and effect of drinking and driving locally. Today, the news station featured Pearson, discussed recent DUI tragedies, and highlighted how law enforcement agencies are tackling the issue today on St. Patrick’s Day. Watch the news clip by clicking HERE.
To learn what you can do if you’re ever the victim of a drunk driving accident, go HERE.