Archive for the ‘ Personal Injury ’ Category

Who Should Be Sued For A Defective Product?

Posted on: December 18, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Dangers are everywhere in the 21st century. In 2015, for example, federal agencies in the United States issued 4,217 product recalls for dangerous and defective consumer items, and the number of product liability lawsuits in the U.S. is increasing. Are the products you buy safe for you and your family? What happens when a defective consumer product injures someone? Keep reading, and you’ll learn how California law protects consumers from defective products.

If you or someone you love is injured by a dangerous consumer product, you’ll need this information. And if you are injured because your brakes failed, if you’re burned by a defective toaster, injured by a defective power tool, or made ill by a bad prescription, an experienced Orange County product liability attorney can explain how California’s product liability law applies to your own circumstances and determine if you have grounds for taking legal action.

When someone is injured by a consumer item, identifying the responsible party or parties is the first step. It sounds simple, but determining precisely who should be targeted by your product liability lawsuit can be quite complicated. Generally speaking, each party in a product’s chain of distribution – from the manufacturer to the retailer – can be considered as possible defendants in a product liability lawsuit.


Often, more than a single manufacturer can be named as a defendant in a defective product case. Large items with many parts – vehicles and appliances, for example – are made by a number of manufacturers. If, for example, you are injured by a defective automobile airbag, both the airbag manufacturer and the vehicle manufacturer should be defendants in your case.

Japan’s Takata Corporation, for example, provided nineteen automobile manufacturers around the world with defective airbags. Those airbags have been linked to eleven fatalities and more than a hundred serious injuries in the United States. The defective air bags are at risk of exploding violently, with no warning, and launching shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

Those who design and market consumer items may also be considered as defendants in product liability lawsuits. A potential plaintiff and his or her product liability attorney should attempt to obtain the names of everyone who worked to design the product. A product liability lawsuit may name as a defendant the company that built the product and the company or companies that designed it, contributed parts, or inspected the item for quality.


And although the retailer who sold the product may have had no direct link to the product’s design or manufacture, the seller of a defective product is also usually named as a defendant in product liability cases. California applies its strict product liability laws to all products sold to the public, and the liability for injuries caused by defective items extends to all parties in the design, manufacture, production, distribution, and sale of those products.

If you are injured in this state while using a defective consumer item, and if you need compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, and related expenses, you and your attorney will have to prove that you were using the product as it was meant to be used. You can’t sue if you hurt yourself by misusing a product that isn’t defective when it’s used as intended.

Defective products can be anything you buy – from a child’s dangerous toy to faulty appliances, defective auto parts, contaminated food products, and defective over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Sometimes, however, product liability cases are more difficult when the manufacturer, retailer, or other parties with liability are located in other nations.


Legally speaking, foreign corporations are subject to the laws in the jurisdictions where they do business, but foreign companies usually fight inclusion as defendants in product liability lawsuits, and the requirements for “serving papers” on a non-U.S. corporation can be laborious, technical – and sometimes, not worth your effort.

When a corporation that has manufactured, designed, or sold a defective consumer product changes owners or reorganizes before a consumer is injured by the product, the consumer still has legal recourse. The legal doctrine of “successor liability” means that a successor company “inherits” the previous company’s liability.

Injuries caused by defective consumer products range from trivial cuts and bruises to permanent disabilities. A personal injury linked to a defective vehicle or vehicle part, a defective power tool, a defective electrical appliance, or a defective prescription or over-the-counter drug may cause long-term, catastrophic physical damage.


Injury victims who have sustained traumatic brain injuries or severe spinal cord injuries, those who require amputations or multiple surgeries, and those who require lifelong medical treatment and care will need the maximum amount of compensation that’s available – and they’ll also need an attorney who will not settle for less.

That’s why it’s imperative for you and your personal injury attorney to carefully consider every party that may conceivably be liable for a product-related injury. When a victim’s lawsuit prevails, that victim may be compensated for all of his or her injury-related medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and all other related damages.


If you are injured in southern California while using any consumer item, seek medical treatment without delay. Do not discuss the case with any insurance company before you have advice from a knowledgeable product liability attorney. An insurance company may try to offer you a fast, “lowball” settlement amount. Don’t take it. Instead, have an Orange County product liability attorney – a trained and experienced negotiator – represent you and negotiate on your behalf.

Here in California, the overwhelming majority of product liability cases are settled out of court before a trial can begin. Most corporations will do anything to avoid the bad press that can accompany an acrimonious product liability trial. Still, if no acceptable settlement is offered in out-of-court negotiations, you must be represented by an attorney who will take your case to court and fight hard for the justice you deserve.

The law in California makes it clear that the negligent designers, manufacturers, and sellers of dangerous and defective consumer products can be ordered by a court to pay for the injuries caused by those products. If you are injured by a defective consumer product in this state, the law is on your side. Legal help is available, and compensation is your right.

Rideshare Accidents: What Are Your Rights?

Posted on: November 21, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are now a popular transportation option in cities all around the world. But if you are injured in a collision while you’re an Uber or Lyft passenger, what happens? How does rideshare insurance work? Will you be compensated if you’re severely injured? Before you take another ride with Uber or Lyft, here’s what you should know.

Rideshare companies provide a number of benefits and amenities. They’re smart, fast, discreet, and usually less expensive than a taxi. The rideshare industry is still new – as well as overwhelmingly popular – so many rideshare passengers probably have not considered the risk, liability, and insurance concerns that may arise when passengers are transported commercially.


Exactly how does insurance coverage work for Uber and Lyft? Even if you don’t use rideshare services, you need to know, because you could be injured in a collision with a rideshare vehicle. In 2013, 6-year-old Sofia Liu was struck and killed by an Uber driver while walking with her family in San Francisco.

The family claimed that the driver was distracted by the Uber app and was looking for a passenger when the tragedy occurred. Uber claimed that because the driver was not carrying a passenger, he was not working for the company at the time. Nevertheless, Uber settled the family’s wrongful death lawsuit in 2015 for an undisclosed amount.


Insurance coverage for Uber and Lyft vehicles hinges on whether or not the driver is waiting for a passenger, carrying a passenger, or off duty. When a passenger is in the vehicle, Uber and Lyft cover the driver and passenger – and third parties as well – with a one-million dollar liability policy and a one-million dollar uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.

After Sofia Liu’s death, Uber extended that coverage to third-party injury victims if an accident happens while a driver is waiting or looking for a passenger. However, consumers should know that while they are technically “covered” as rideshare passengers or as third parties, the insurance companies providing that coverage may seek to limit their liability and to pay minimal compensation to injury victims.

Furthermore, if your injuries as a passenger are catastrophic or disabling, and your damages total more than one million dollars – the Uber and Lyft coverage limit – acquiring the compensation you will need may be a considerable challenge, and you will very likely need to have a personal injury attorney advocating on your behalf.

In southern California, if you are injured in traffic while you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, or if you are injured by a driver working for Lyft, Uber, or another rideshare service, seek the sound legal advice of an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney, and do it as soon as possible after you’ve been examined for any injuries sustained in the accident.


Rideshare services as well as limousine, bus, and taxicab companies have a legal obligation that the law calls a “duty of care” to passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. If you sustain an injury or lose a family member due to a transportation company’s negligence, you are entitled by California law to full compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and all other injury-related damages.

Of course, being legally entitled to compensation is something you may have to prove. If a rideshare service’s insurance company refuses to offer you adequate compensation, an Orange County personal injury attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf and will fight aggressively for the compensation you need as an injury victim – and for the justice you deserve.


Anyone who is injured in a traffic crash as a rideshare passenger should try to take the same steps he or she would take after any other vehicle collision. Call for medical help first, then summon the police. Get all of the information from both drivers that you can – especially names, personal contact details, and insurance company contact information.

Take photos of the accident scene, the vehicle damages, and to the extent that’s possible, your own injuries. If there were witnesses to the crash, get their names and phone numbers if you can. You may need their statements or testimony, especially if your injuries are extensive. No attorney will be at the accident scene to help, so you must try to remember these steps.

And even if you don’t seem to be injured, have a checkup anyway after any traffic accident, and do it within a day. A latent or undetected injury could develop quickly – or over time – into a serious medical situation. If you require compensation as the result of a traffic accident, a checkup will provide some of the medical documentation you’ll need.

Do not give a recorded or written statement to a rideshare service’s insurance company, don’t admit to or confess anything, and don’t sign any insurance paperwork without first consulting an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney. Don’t settle your insurance claim too hastily, either.


Instead, get some good advice from your healthcare provider and your personal injury attorney. Make certain that you understand the full extent of your injuries, and make sure that all of your medical expenses – including projected future costs – are included in your injury claim and settlement, because accepting a settlement means losing your right to any further compensation or legal action.

Finally, if you are injured in any traffic collision in California, it is imperative to act at once. California’s statute of limitations gives an injury victim two years from the date of the injury or injuries to file a personal injury lawsuit, although if the injury is latent and is not discovered right away, the time limit becomes one year from the date that the injury is discovered.

Of course, you don’t want to wait two years after you’ve been injured and then scramble to bring a legal action at the last moment. Don’t even wait two weeks – a good personal injury attorney will need some time to consider the evidence and to determine the best legal strategy for moving forward on your behalf.

If you are injured by a rideshare driver or by any negligent driver in southern California, get the legal help you to obtain the compensation and justice you deserve. If you’ve been injured by negligence, compensation is your right, and nothing is more important than your health and your future. Do what it takes to protect yourself.

New Bill Aims To Reduce Child Drownings

Posted on: October 18, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Parents in California need to know. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children from one to four-years-old in this state. It’s often a quick, silent killer. Is your own child at risk – from your own swimming pool or a neighbor’s? In October, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 442, legislation to make residential swimming pools safer. What will the new law require? You’re about to get some answers.

Swimming pools provide exceptional recreation, but residential swimming pool owners must take every reasonable precaution to keep the fun from turning to tragedy. Parents are obligated to monitor their children near swimming pools and to teach water safety rules. Pool owners must keep pools and the surrounding areas safe and secure.

California Senate Bill 442 requires new safety features for new residential swimming pools and for residential pools that are being remodeled or repaired. It also requires a homeowner to disclose any safety problems with the pool when the residence is sold. Why did state lawmakers believe that new swimming pool legislation was called for? Why now?


According to the California Department of Public Health and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2010 through 2014, more than 160 children died from drowning in California. And from 2010 through 2016, 740 other California children survived near-fatal drowning incidents that resulted in hospitalizations and traumatic brain damage. It’s a growing concern in all parts of the state.

The loss of life is tragic, and the cost to California taxpayers for swimming pool injuries is astronomical. Hospitalization and long-term care for just one brain-damaged child can cost up to $5 million. According to the California Department of Developmental Services, when a near-drowning victim is institutionalized, the cost is about $30,000 a month. Last year, 770 near-drowning patients were in state care.


Precisely what does Senate Bill 442 do? It revises the California Pool Safety Act of 1996. Owners of new pools and pools with repairs or upgrades that require a building permit must have two safety barriers installed before a final permit is approved. Owners must choose from the barrier options listed below. Barriers must meet ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) safety standards.

A pool owner’s choices are:

– a pool cover
– an in-the-pool alarm
– an alarm on the door to the pool
– removable mesh fencing with a self-closing, latching gate
– isolation fencing with a self-closing, latching gate
– a self-closing, latching door to the pool with a latch 54 inches above the floor
– another pool safety barrier approved by the ASTM

Pools attached to California homes that are being sold must be inspected by a licensed home inspector, and any non-compliance with Senate Bill 442 or the rest of the Pool Safety Act must be disclosed in the inspector’s home defect report. The new legislation also makes the Pool Safety Act – and its enforcement – uniform across the state.


A child’s wrongful death is always tragic. So are the traumatic brain injuries that are so often the result of a near-drowning incident. If you or someone you love has been injured in a swimming pool in southern California, or if you have lost someone you love in a swimming pool incident, discuss your legal situation – promptly – with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney.

California’s statute of limitations restricts the amount of time you have to launch a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit subsequent to a swimming pool accident. In most cases, and with very limited exceptions under California law, injury victims or surviving family members must bring a legal action within two years of the date of the personal injury or wrongful death.

Don’t wait two years or even two weeks after a personal injury or a wrongful death to arrange an initial consultation with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney. Over time, evidence in a personal injury case may deteriorate or even vanish. The memories of witnesses can fade quickly. The sooner you can put a personal injury lawyer on the case, the more likely you are to receive the full compensation you’ll need.


“Premises liability” is the legal term for the liability of a property owner. California property owners have a legal duty to keep their properties safe, to repair any hazardous condition in a reasonable amount of time, and to warn anyone coming onto a property about any existing hazard.

If a residential swimming pool owner is negligent, and an accident happens, that owner may be liable. If the owner was not in compliance with the California Pool Safety Act, that non-compliance may be considered evidence of negligence and lead to a quick settlement. Most personal injury and wrongful death cases are settled out of court when the attorneys for both sides meet to negotiate the case.

That’s why, in cases arising from swimming pool injuries and fatalities, you must be represented by a personal injury attorney who is a skilled negotiator as well as an experienced civil trial lawyer.

If there’s evidence that the owner of a swimming pool was negligent, and your attorney recommends a personal injury lawsuit, you can be compensated for:

– all injury-related medical expenses – past, present, and future
– all wages lost because of the injury and all lost future earning capacity
– all other monetary expenses, and in some cases, compensation for pain and suffering


Surviving family members whose wrongful death claims prevail can be reimbursed for the victim’s final medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and in some cases, lost earning capacity and loss of consortium. An experienced Orange County personal injury attorney fighting on your behalf will not settle for anything less than the complete compensation you need – and the justice you deserve.

Every tragedy is unique. After a swimming injury or a wrongful death, you’ll need a lawyer who offers sound advice tailored to your personal situation and needs. If you or someone you love has been injured in a swimming pool in southern California, or if you have lost a loved one in a swimming pool incident, get justice. Get the legal help you need. It’s your right.

Car Insurance Laws In California

Posted on: September 18, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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It can happen to anyone, at any time. You could be severely injured in a traffic collision because of another person’s negligent driving. If this happens to you, you must take action to protect your health, your finances, and your future. In the state of California, taking that action might mean filing a personal injury lawsuit with the help of an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney.

This is a general introduction to auto insurance laws in California – and how those laws may apply in personal injury cases – but for specific and personalized legal advice about any particular case, you should speak directly with a California personal injury lawyer.

The first thing to understand about the auto insurance laws in this state is that California is an automobile insurance “fault” state rather than a “no-fault” state. Thus, in California, if you are injured in a traffic crash but you were not the at-fault driver – you were the other driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian – the law in our state gives you several options.

You may file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company and policy or you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. Because California is a “fault state,” drivers must be deemed at fault for a collision before their insurance companies will pay any damages.

If you sustain only vehicle damage or other property damage in a Southern California traffic collision, you may want to file the damage claim on your own and negotiate directly and personally with the other driver’s insurance company. However, if you’ve sustained any kind of physical, personal injury, take your case directly to an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney.

Your health and future are too important to risk. Don’t accept any settlement offer from an insurance company until you’ve consulted a personal injury lawyer, and don’t sign any insurance company documents – you could be signing away to your right to file a lawsuit.


State law in California obligates vehicle owners to purchase liability coverage for every motor vehicle that operates in our state. Liability insurance is intended to compensate motorists, passengers, and pedestrians for their vehicle and other property damages and for their personal injuries if a traffic accident happens.

The minimum liability coverages required by California law are:

– $5,000 for property damage
– $15,000 for the death or injury of one person
– $30,000 total for the deaths or injuries of more than one person in a single accident

These are the minimum liability coverage amounts required by California law. Drivers can and in most cases probably should have more coverage. Understand that if you are sued by another party with a personal injury lawsuit, if that lawsuit prevails and the plaintiff is awarded an amount that is beyond the limits of your coverage, you’ll be held personally responsible for the balance of the damages.

Most California vehicle owners have automobile insurance that meets or surpasses the state’s minimum insurance requirements. However, California law also allows a vehicle owner to choose from several other ways to comply with California’s financial responsibility statutes.

Rather than purchasing a conventional automobile insurance policy, a vehicle owner in California may instead choose to:

– make a $35,000 cash deposit with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
– obtain a self-insurance certificate from the California DMV
– obtain a $35,000 surety bond


Too many Californians are injured each year by drivers with no auto insurance or only the legal minimum. When someone is injured on a California street or highway by a motorist who is simultaneously negligent and underinsured or uninsured, what happens to the injury victim’s rights? Can that victim be compensated in some way for his or her medical expenses and lost wages, even if the other driver is broke and has no insurance?

California doesn’t make drivers purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, but drivers in this state should know about these options and understand the protection they offer. Having uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is a smart idea when you consider that one out of every seven motorists in California is driving with no automobile insurance coverage whatsoever.

Uninsured motorist insurance covers you in an accident with an at-fault and negligent driver who has no auto insurance at all. It’s usually futile to sue drivers who have no insurance because they usually have no money, so even winning a personal injury trial against an uninsured driver would likely not benefit you. With uninsured motorist coverage, when the driver who injures you has no insurance, you can file an injury claim against your own auto insurer and policy.

“Underinsured” motorist coverage is also a good idea for drivers in California. If a negligent driver injures you in this state, but his or her auto insurance is inadequate to cover the full amount of compensation you need, underinsured motorist insurance lets you file a claim against your own insurer if your underinsured driver coverage exceeds the underinsured driver’s coverage limit.


If you are injured by someone else’s negligent driving in California, whether or not that negligent motorist has auto insurance coverage, you are entitled under the law to complete reimbursement for all of your accident-related current and future medical expenses, your lost wages and any future lost earnings capacity, and all other accident and injury-related damages and losses.

However, to obtain the compensation that is rightfully yours if you are a negligence victim, you’ll have to prove first that the other driver was, in fact, negligent, and secondly, that the negligence was a direct cause of your injury or injuries. You’ll need help from an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney.

You should consider the following suggestions before you proceed with any personal injury lawsuit:

– At the scene of an accident, seek medical attention at once, it’s your highest priority. An insurance company might allege that a failure to seek treatment means that you weren’t really hurt.

– Do not believe, speak with, or listen to any insurance adjuster before consulting your injury attorney, who is a trained, experienced negotiator.

In Orange County, Riverside County, or anywhere else in Southern California, if you are injured by a negligent driver, discuss your options with an experienced California personal injury lawyer as quickly as you can after you’ve had a medical examination, and put a trustworthy attorney on the case from the very beginning. It’s the best way to ensure that you’ll be treated right.

California’s Pedestrian And Crosswalk Laws

Posted on: August 20, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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About twelve pedestrians are killed every day in traffic in the United States. Scores more are injured – about 70,000 pedestrians every year. Negligence – either a negligent driver or a careless pedestrian – is inevitably the cause of most pedestrian accidents, and most of these accidents are preventable. If you are injured by a negligent motorist, bus driver, truck driver, or motorcyclist while you are a pedestrian in Southern California – and everybody’s a pedestrian sometimes – discuss your rights, options, and legal recourse with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney.

The state of California enforces a number of laws and regulations governing crosswalks and pedestrian traffic. While there is, of course, no way to control the behavior of others who are walking or driving, adherence to the rules regarding crosswalks and pedestrians – when combined with a large dose of caution – is the best way to stay safe as a pedestrian on Southern California’s streets, sidewalks, and parking lots.

California’s crosswalk laws require motorists to yield in marked crosswalks and intersections. Pedestrians, for their part, have a legal duty to be cautious and careful when crossing a street. When a negligent motorist collides with a pedestrian, in some cases, it is the pedestrian who was negligent. In Mendelson v. Peton (1955), the plaintiff, Morris Mendelson, sued for injuries suffered when he was struck by Marcelle Peton’s automobile on Sunset Boulevard. The plaintiff, according to the defendant, suddenly “loomed” in front of her, so a California jury found that Mr. Mendelson was negligent for failing to consider the hazard of walking into heavy traffic.


As a “pure comparative negligence” state, California allows the injured victims of negligence to recover compensation for injuries even when they are partly at fault for a traffic collision. If an injury case generated by a pedestrian accident goes to a trial, jurors determine the percentage of fault to be assigned to each party. The determination of liability, of course, is central in a personal injury case.

For a personal injury claim to prevail, the injured person bringing the claim (the plaintiff) must prove that person named as the defendant was negligent by demonstrating that:

– The defendant owed what the law calls a “duty of care” to the plaintiff.
– A breach of that duty of care happened when the defendant was negligent.
– The defendant’s negligence was the primary cause of the accident.
– The defendant thus owes quantifiable damages to the plaintiff for medical costs, lost wages, and for pain and suffering.

California crosswalk laws allow pedestrians to cross the street in marked and unmarked crosswalks if the pedestrians have a green light. Pedestrians, however, must yield to vehicles that are already legally in the intersection when the signal first turns green. In Myers vs. Carini (1968), the plaintiff, Ian Myers, was struck a vehicle driven by the defendant, John Carini.

When the jury learned that Mr. Myers had walked five feet into the intersection before the signal turned green, jurors determined that Mr. Carini was not negligent or liable for Mr. Myers’ injuries, and no compensation was awarded.


You might be surprised to learn that crowded urban centers are not where most pedestrian mishaps happen. In fact, the pedestrians injured most frequently in California are away from cities and out on the highways; drivers changing flat tires, highway maintenance personnel, and police officers conducting a traffic stop or investigating a collision. But wherever someone is injured by a negligent driver in California, that victim is entitled to complete compensation for all medical care and all other injury-related expenses and damages.

The safety suggestions for pedestrians are basic. When it’s possible, use a sidewalk, and if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic but stay as far from the traffic as you can. Stay alert and focused – “walk defensively” – and be prepared for anything. If you need to text someone, stop, because if you keep walking while you’re texting, you could walk into a car or something equally dangerous.

Stop and look both ways before crossing a street, and cross streets only at crosswalks and intersections. At night, bring a flashlight with you, and wear bright clothes. If you’ve had anything to drink, think twice about walking near traffic. If an accident happens to a pedestrian who is intoxicated, that pedestrian will almost certainly be considered the negligent party, and damages will not be available.


Southern California drivers can help to protect pedestrians – and can also protect themselves from personal injury lawsuits filed by injured pedestrians – by not texting or talking on a cell phone while driving; by not drinking or using intoxicating drugs while driving; by keeping their vehicles safe and routinely maintained; and by compliance with all California traffic rules and regulations.

Pedestrians don’t expect to be in accidents so they generally wear no safety equipment at all.
That means that many of the injuries sustained by pedestrians are catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain and spinal cord damage. When an injury is permanently disabling, a victim requires the maximum possible compensation. An experienced Orange County personal injury attorney can help.

If you are injured by a negligent motorist while you are a pedestrian in Southern California, seek medical attention at once, and do not discuss your case with any insurance company representative before consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Your attorney can review the details of your injury claim, provide the frank and honest legal advice you’ll require, and if necessary, fight for the compensation and justice that a pedestrian accident victim deserves. Be aware that California, like every state, enforces a time limit – a
statutes of limitations” – in personal injury cases, so it’s important to act promptly after being injured by negligence.

In most personal injury cases, with several exceptions spelled out by the law, injury victims in California have two years to file an injury claim, but you should not wait two years and then try to file a claim at the last minute. The sooner you put an attorney on your case, the more likely it is that your injury claim will prevail and that you’ll receive the full compensation amount you need.

How To File A Third-Party Insurance Claim

Posted on: July 21, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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If you have been injured by another driver’s negligence in Orange County – or anywhere in Southern California – once you’ve been seen by a doctor, have an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney explain your recourse, your rights, and your options. A personal injury attorney can determine if you have grounds for filing a personal injury claim, and if so, how much that claim might be worth.

If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence in California, you are entitled to complete reimbursement for your medical expenses, lost wages, and all injury-related losses and damages. Whenever you file an auto insurance injury claim against another driver’s insurance policy – or in any situation where you are not the policyholder – it’s called a “third-party” claim.

Here are several examples of third-party injury claims that are generated by traffic accidents and how those claims would work:

If you were injured while you were a passenger in a vehicle when the vehicle was involved in a collision, you would pursue an injury claim against the policy owned by the vehicle’s driver.

If you were injured but judged not at fault in an accident in a fault-only state (a state that does not operate under a no-fault auto insurance system), you would pursue an injury claim against the other driver’s policy and company. California is a fault state, so a driver must be found at fault for an accident before that driver’s insurance will pay for damages.

If you were injured while driving a company vehicle that is involved in a crash, you would pursue an injury claim against the company’s auto insurer.

If you were injured in an accident while driving your own vehicle on job-related business, you might be able to pursue a claim against your employer’s insurance company.

In other words, any time you file an auto insurance claim in a situation where you are not the policyholder, you are filing a third-party claim. Most no-fault states allow you to file a third-party claim against the other motorist’s policy only if your claim rises to the level of what the state considers “serious injury.” In states without no-fault insurance, such as California, an injury victim can file a claim against the other driver’s policy simply if the other driver was at fault.


California civil courts use the pure comparative negligence approach to automobile collisions. In California, if an injury victim is partly liable for his or her own injury in a collision, the damages that can be awarded are lowered by the percentage of fault. How does pure comparative negligence work? Let’s take this accident as an example: Motorist X is driving six or eight miles per hour above the speed limit. As Motorist X rolls through a green traffic signal, Motorist Y collides with and seriously injures Motorist X.

Motorist Y was driving recklessly, at twenty-five miles per hour above the posted limit. A breath test also showed that Motorist Y was legally impaired. It’s possible that Motorist Y could be found one hundred percent liable for the accident, but since Motorist X was slightly exceeding the speed limit, it’s also possible that Motorist X could be found twenty or twenty-five percent liable for his or her own injuries.

If Motorist X’s damages total $100,000, but Motorist X is found twenty percent liable, Motorist Y will be responsible for only $80,000 or eighty percent of Motorist X’s medical costs, lost wages, and other damages. Pure comparative negligence also applies if the percentages are reversed. If Motorist X in this example had been eighty percent liable, he or she could still recover the remaining twenty percent or $20,000. California is one of only thirteen states that operate under a pure comparative negligence auto insurance system.


If you need to file a third-party injury claim in Southern California, you should contact an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney as quickly as possible after you’ve been examined by a doctor. If your only injuries were scratches, or if you weren’t injured but suffered some property damage to your vehicle, in most cases it’s okay to “go it alone,” but if your health and your future are involved, you should put your case in the hands of a trustworthy personal injury lawyer at once.

However, even before you can speak with a lawyer, you need to begin gathering evidence. Only you can gather the evidence at the scene of an accident in its immediate aftermath. Get as much information from the other driver as you can: a name, phone number, residential address, employer and employer’s address, and information about that driver’s auto insurer and policy. If the other driver is too injured, impaired, or hostile to help you, ask the police to help you get the information you need, and make sure that you’ll be able to obtain a copy of the police report.

If there are eyewitnesses to the accident, try to get their names and a way to contact them. Your attorney may need to reach them later for statements or testimony. Take as many photos as you can of the accident scene, the damages to the vehicles, the license plates, and your own injuries that are visible.

You cannot take too many photographs, and your photos can make all the difference if your claim turns into a personal injury trial. If you are too injured to take photos or get the names of eyewitnesses, ask one of your passengers to help – or even a friendly-looking bystander. You only have one opportunity to compile at-the-scene evidence.


Seek medical attention immediately after any traffic collision. You need to know precisely what your injuries are and their extent. If you don’t think you’ve been injured in a crash, get checked out anyway. A latent injury could emerge weeks later as a genuine medical problem if you don’t seek medical attention after a crash. An exam provides the first piece of the medical documentation that you’ll need if you choose to pursue a third-party personal injury claim.

After a traffic crash in Southern California, and after you’ve been checked out by a doctor, discuss your options with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney. The victims of negligent drivers should know that they have extensive legal rights under California law and that the law is on their side.

In most cases in California, the statute of limitations for filing a third-party personal injury lawsuit is two years, but the sooner an attorney can go to work on your claim, the more likely it is that your claim will prevail and that you will receive the full compensation you deserve and need.

How Does The State Of California Define The Right Of Way?

Posted on: May 24, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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pedestrian rights california

When motor vehicles are in potential conflict with other vehicles or with pedestrians because their paths intersect, the legal principle that determines who goes first is called “right of way.” Right of way decides who has the right to use the disputed part of the road first and who is required to wait.

In the state of California, who has the right to proceed first hinges upon where the potential conflict takes place and whether the parties involved are on foot, on horses or bicycles, in motor vehicles, or in emergency vehicles.

At many intersections in California, traffic signals, stop signs, and yield signs are used to indicate explicitly who has the right of way. When no signs or signals are at an intersection, generally speaking, if two vehicles arrive at the intersection simultaneously, the vehicle on the left should yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.

However, there are a number of exceptions and complications:

  • At defective traffic signals: When a traffic light is out or functioning improperly, a driver must stop before entering the intersection and must wait until it is safe to cross. At a four-way intersection, if two drivers arrive at the intersection simultaneously, the vehicle on the right should go first. At a three-way intersection with a defective traffic signal, a vehicle on the road that ends should yield to vehicles on the road that does not end.
  • At a three-way stop: At a three-way intersection with no signs or signals, the vehicle on the road that ends should yield to those on the road that continues. At three-way intersections with stop signs, drivers on the left should yield to drivers on the right.

Of course, California intersections with working traffic signals or with stop signs or yield signs give particular vehicles the right of way, and drivers must do what those signs and signals tell them to do. When a driver wants to make a left turn, he or she must yield to oncoming traffic. However, once a driver has started making a left turn, any oncoming traffic must yield to the turning vehicle.


You need to be as alert when you’re walking in Southern California as when you’re driving. Adhere to the old “stop-look-and-listen” rules, look both ways, and cross only at crosswalks. If you walk after dark, wear brightly-colored clothes and bring a flashlight.

Don’t become distracted while walking – it’s as hazardous as distracted driving. Although pedestrians usually have the right of way, in some instances, it’s the pedestrian who must yield.

Wherever two roads intersect and no crosswalk is marked, both drivers and pedestrians should presume that an “unmarked” crosswalk exists. Where there is no marked crosswalk, a pedestrian must yield to traffic.

Pedestrians have a duty to stay alert for their own safety, to not cross in a negligent or dangerous manner, and to not obstruct or stop oncoming traffic. Both drivers and pedestrians must exercise what the law calls “due care.”


California’s right of way rules also specify what it is that drivers and pedestrians should do in some of the more infrequent or rare traffic circumstances. When either drivers or pedestrians are trying to cross or enter a road from a location that is not a road – a driveway, an alley, a parking lot, a shoulder, or even an empty field – they must yield to the oncoming traffic until it is safe to enter or cross the road. Where an intersecting path or road has been marked “Equestrian Crossing,” motorists must yield to horses that are already in the intersection. Horseback riders are obligated to cross the road cautiously.

Where an intersecting path or road has been marked “Equestrian Crossing,” motorists must yield to horses that are already in the intersection. Horseback riders are obligated to cross the road cautiously.

If you are driving and you see or hear an emergency vehicle flashing its lights and/or sounding its siren, you must yield the right of way and pull over to the right side of the road until the emergency vehicle has passed. Don’t block an intersection when you pull over to the right. If you are driving in a car pool lane, you must exit the lane to allow an emergency vehicle to pass. In this circumstance, a driver may cross double yellow lines.

Don’t block an intersection when you pull over to the right. If you are driving in a car pool lane, you must exit the lane to allow an emergency vehicle to pass. In this circumstance, a driver may cross double yellow lines.

Pedestrians also must yield to emergency vehicles. When an emergency vehicle is flashing its lights and/or sounding its siren, pedestrians must get to a curb or another safe spot until the vehicle passes. Those who drive emergency vehicles also have a duty to drive cautiously.

If you are driving and you approach an emergency vehicle, a tow truck, or a Cal Trans vehicle that is stationary and the vehicle’s lights are flashing, safely switch lanes so that you’re not in the lane next to the stopped vehicle. If switching lanes isn’t possible or isn’t safe, pass the emergency vehicle slowly and cautiously.


Failing to yield the right of way when you are legally obligated to do so is negligent driving. If you are injured in a traffic collision in Southern California with a driver who violated your right of way, after you’ve obtained medical attention, speak at once with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney. By filing a personal injury claim, the injured victim of a negligent driver may be reimbursed for all of his or her medical expenses, lost wages, and all other injury and accident-related expenses and losses.

However, after a traffic crash in California, determining which driver had the right of way and which driver was at fault is not always easy. If a driver receives a traffic citation for running a red light, running a stop sign, or some other failure to yield the right of way, that is strong evidence of negligent driving and strong evidence in support of an accident victim’s personal injury claim. Most cases, however, will be somewhat more complicated.

If you are injured in traffic by a negligent driver in Southern California, let an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney review the details of your accident and injury, gather the evidence, protect your legal rights, and advocate aggressively for justice on your behalf.

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in California gives those who are injured by negligent drivers two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury claim. Don’t wait two years. If you are injured by a negligent driver in California, the wisest thing you can do is to put a good personal injury lawyer on the case immediately.

How Long Does It Take To Settle A Car Accident Claim?

Posted on: March 22, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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If you are injured by the carelessness of another motorist in a traffic crash in Southern California, after you obtain medical treatment, consider discussing your rights and options with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney. A good Southern California personal injury lawyer will investigate the crash, interrogate the witnesses, analyze the medical results and the police report, explain your rights and options, and tell you if you have legal grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit – and how much that lawsuit could potentially be worth.

If you do have legal grounds and you choose to file a lawsuit after being injured in traffic, you’ll surely want to know the value of your case.

After investigating the accident, questioning the witnesses, and examining the facts, your personal injury lawyer should be able to determine a precise figure based on several factors:

  • Liability is the main issue when determining the value of a personal injury case. Who was at fault? If the defendant you sue turns out to be only partially responsible for your injuries, you’ll receive less.
  • The cause of the injuries must be accurately identified. Can the injury be directly traced to the traffic collision? Were there pre-existing injuries? If so, the value of the case will probably be less.
  • Insurance is also key. How much is available? The more insurance that is available, the more value can be assigned to a personal injury lawsuit. But if a defendant is uninsured or underinsured, there may not be much to sue for.


Along with the value of your case, you’ll also want to know how long it’s going to take. Some personal injury cases can take a year or more to resolve, and the most complicated cases – where multiple attorneys, multiple defendants, and large sums of money are involved – can take years to resolve, when you also consider the appeals process. If your goal is a quick settlement, that can usually be accomplished, but you may have to accept a smaller settlement amount.

Why do so many personal injury cases take so long? The three main reasons are:

  • Legal or factual complications delay the case.
  • A large sum of money is at stake.
  • The plaintiff (that is, the victim filing the lawsuit) has not yet reached the point of “maximum medical improvement” from the injuries he or she suffered.

What kind of legal or factual complications can delay a personal injury case? In the most complex personal injury cases, there can be difficulties determining liability – that is, finding who was at fault – as well as difficulties determining the damages – the amount of compensation that an injury victim needs and deserves. When liability is difficult to prove, an insurance company is not likely to offer a settlement until the liability question is finally resolved. It is always the plaintiff’s burden to prove that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injury.


If there are other legal issues in the case, probably no offer will be made until a judge rules on those issues. Often, however, the key problem in a personal injury case is arriving at a precise figure for the damages – especially if the plaintiff has sustained a long-term or permanent disability and needs ongoing compensation for medical treatment both now and in the future. Projecting potential medical expenses into the future is always “iffy” and is almost always a matter of dispute in a personal injury case.

Moreover, whenever a large amount of money is at stake, a settlement is almost always going to be delayed. Insurance companies simply will not pay a substantial amount on a settlement until the company has completed its own investigation of every aspect of the case. In almost all cases, an insurance company will not offer a significant settlement amount until the company is persuaded that the plaintiff is truthful, that the injuries are as serious as the plaintiff claims they are, and the company has no defenses remaining against the plaintiff’s attorney’s arguments.

Frequently, insurance companies will also refuse to settle in order to see if a plaintiff will cave in out of frustration and accept a less generous settlement. Since most people who are severely injured can’t work and have medical bills coming in, they can’t wait long. Insurance companies know this, and unlike injured plaintiffs, insurers have all the time in the world. Don’t let an insurance company cajole you against your will into accepting less than you need and deserve.


A somewhat more legitimate reason why a personal injury case can take time is because the plaintiff is still recovering from his or her injuries. When a plaintiff can wait, it is best to postpone a settlement until the plaintiff reaches the “MMI” point – the point of maximum medical improvement, which means that the plaintiff is as healed as he or she is going to get. If you reach the MMI point before you settle a personal injury claim, you and your attorney can more confidently put a precise figure on the damages you are entitled to receive.

When a plaintiff cannot wait – even while knowing that waiting would increase the value of his or her claim – what’s the best way to get the best early settlement? There really are no rules or guidelines regarding “short” settlements. An insurance company might offer an injury victim a third of the amount that could be awarded in a trial. On the other hand, an insurance company could offer an injury victim as little as five percent of what the victim might receive at a trial – or nothing at all.

If you have been injured in Southern California, but you do not want to spend a year – or perhaps longer – waiting to be compensated, an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney can probably settle your case quickly – and also explain what you’re forfeiting and the other risks of accepting a short settlement. Most personal injury attorneys would recommend staying the course and working for the maximum possible amount, but when you are a victim of negligence, the choice is entirely yours.

Playground Accidents And Injuries: Who Is Liable?

Posted on: January 30, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Spring is right around the corner, and that means more children will be spending more time on this nation’s thousands of public and private playgrounds. When children go back to school in the fall, they continue playing on school playgrounds. Playgrounds are places where children can challenge themselves and make new friends, but playgrounds also present genuine risks and serious hidden dangers.

Every year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 200,000 children under the age of 14 are taken to emergency rooms for injuries that happen on playgrounds. Almost half of all playground-related injuries are serious injuries – concussions, fractures, internal injuries, dislocations, and injuries that require amputation. In the United States from 1990 through the year 2000, 147 children ages 14 and under died from injuries sustained on playgrounds, primarily from falls and from strangulation.

If your own child is injured on a playground in Southern California, after obtaining medical attention, seek legal advice at once by speaking with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney. If you can prove that your child was injured because of someone else’s negligence, your family is entitled to compensation for your child’s medical expenses and other injury-related expenses and losses.

Injuries on playgrounds can happen when a child is climbing, sliding, or swinging. If a child slips while climbing, the fall can be several feet or more. Slipping while climbing on a jungle gym or climbing bars can often mean falling against hard metal parts of the device. Bruises, cuts, broken or fractured bones, and concussions and other serious head injuries commonly happen to children on playgrounds. These injuries can happen for any number of reasons, including the poor design and maintenance of playground equipment and the lack of appropriate adult supervision.


Playground equipment is often years old and is sometimes decades old. When municipalities and school districts face financial crunches, upgrading and maintaining playgrounds for safety is not a priority. Over the years, the metal components in outdoor playground equipment will rust or fatigue. Wood rots and weakens, bolts and screws work themselves loose, and ropes become frayed and frail.

Daily exposure and daily use take a hard toll on outdoors equipment. Playgrounds and playground equipment must be inspected and maintained regularly and frequently. The design of a playground and the playground equipment is also essential for safety. Padded equipment and soft surfaces are almost always part of the design of a new playground, but older playgrounds seldom offer these kinds of contemporary safety features. Of course, even a playground with every state-of-the art safety feature still must be inspected frequently.

On any playground – with or without modern safety features – the adult supervision of children is imperative for the prevention of serious injuries. Children don’t have enough experience to understand the risk of climbing too high or behaving foolishly on playground equipment. Adequate and involved adult supervision is integral to the task of keeping children safe on a playground. The failure to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of children on a playground can trigger a negligence claim if a child is injured because of inadequate supervision.


Identifying the persons or organizations that may have legal responsibility for a child’s injury on a playground will hinge on the answers to these several questions: Who is the owner of the playground? Who manufactured and installed the playground equipment, and who is responsible for its maintenance? Who was supervising – or responsible for supervising – the child or children?

If a playground is located in a public park, the responsibility for maintenance probably belongs to the local municipality, town, city, or county. Playgrounds at national parks are the responsibility of the federal government. Playgrounds located at schools are typically owned and maintained by the local public school district. School districts, like other governmental bodies, enjoy what is called “sovereign immunity,” so they often cannot be sued, but most states allow at least some types of lawsuits against school districts for injuries to students.

However, there are usually some very precise rules and procedures that must be followed before you can even file a lawsuit against a city, a county, or a school district. If you fail to adhere to these rules, a premises liability lawsuit won’t go anywhere. In southern California, if your child is injured on a school playground or a public playground, discuss your family’s legal rights and options with an experienced Orange County premises liability lawyer.


In the case of a private school, a church, or a private daycare facility, the owner of the playground may be a non-profit corporation or a for-profit company or corporation. Several national restaurant chains also feature playgrounds on their properties. Any of these corporations or organizations might be legally liable if a child is injured on a playground located on their property.

However, playgrounds are rarely designed or constructed by their owners. That job is typically awarded to one or more local contractors. Specific pieces of playground equipment may be selected by the property owners or by the construction contractors. Depending on the reason for a child’s injury on a playground, the playground owner(s), the contractor(s) who built the playground, and the company or companies that manufactured the playground equipment might have liability for a child’s injury.

Some states now enforce laws that establish minimum safety standards for playgrounds including design standards for playground equipment. Even though playground injuries may not be the direct fault of the governmental bodies, school districts, or private companies that operate playgrounds, under premises liability law, land owners and playground operators have a legal duty to inspect their premises to eliminate safety hazards.

Nothing is more important than your children. When a family can prove that their child was injured on a playground because of negligence, an owner or a playground operator can be held liable with a premises liability claim. Product liability claims can be filed against the manufacturers of dangerous or defective playground equipment. In southern California, if your child is injured on a playground, an experienced Orange County premises liability lawyer can assess the case and determine if grounds exist for filing a claim.

Are Frivolous Personal Injury Lawsuits Really A Problem?

Posted on: December 22, 2016 by in Personal Injury
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It’s the big businesses that have the most to lose – and the politicians that those businesses buy and pay for – who are so often telling the public about the alleged “epidemic” of “frivolous” lawsuits purportedly crippling our justice system. They make it sound like the U.S. is filled with con artists promiscuously filing phony personal injury claims to “hit the jackpot” or “win the lottery.” These con artists supposedly force innocent small businesses to spend vast amounts for a lawyer and legal fees – just to survive.

You shouldn’t believe it. What these businesses and their spokespersons are handing us are not the facts. Instead, they’ve created a narrative that simply isn’t true. If you heard about the man who sued the topless dancer for whiplash – after her large breasts knocked him in the head – that case was dismissed. So was the lawsuit from the fellow who sued a beer company because bikini-clad models didn’t magically appear when he opened a bottle of brew.

Sure, frivolous lawsuits make the news, but that’s because they stand out from the thousands of routine and legitimate personal injury cases that courts handle every day. If a lawsuit is frivolous, it’s thrown out of court at once. Attorneys don’t take on frivolous lawsuits because they’re seeking cases they can win, and since most personal injury claims are handled on a contingency basis, a lawyer who takes phony lawsuits will soon be looking for another line of work.


Personal injury attorneys can also be penalized for filing frivolous claims. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and similar rules enforced in each state require personal injury lawyers to conduct a due diligence investigation regarding the factual basis for any personal injury or product liability claim. Because a frivolous claim wastes the court’s and the defendant’s time and money, sanctions may be imposed by a court upon any attorney who brings a frivolous claim. The attorney’s law firm may even be sanctioned, or in some cases, held in contempt.

Pennsylvania attorney Daniel Evans has written, “[W]hen a judge calls an argument ‘ridiculous’ or ‘frivolous,’ it is absolutely the worst thing the judge could say. It means that the person arguing the position has absolutely no idea of what he is doing, and has completely wasted everyone’s time. It doesn’t mean that the case wasn’t well argued, or that judge simply decided for the other side, it means that there was no other side. The argument was absolutely, positively, incompetent. The judge is not telling you that you were ‘wrong.’ The judge is telling you that you are out of your mind.”


While attorneys seek the cases they can win, injury victims who file personal injury claims are seeking justice and sometimes trying to prevent the same suffering from happening to others. It’s not about “winning” anything a victim doesn’t deserve or isn’t entitled to under the law. Of course, some people will do crazy things for money, but no ethical attorney will represent a plaintiff in a personal injury case unless it’s a real case, there’s been a real injury, and justice requires someone to be held legally accountable. Those who push the “frivolous lawsuits are everywhere” narrative are usually trying to help someone escape accountability for negligence.


Think about it. Without legal penalties, would polluters stop polluting? Would alcoholics stop drinking and driving, or would thieves stop stealing? Of course not. We’d all eat poisonous foods, drive around in death traps, and breathe polluted air. A world without penalties for wrongdoing is a place where no one would want to live. Personal injury claims hold the guilty accountable and bring justice to personal injury victims.

And because they work on your behalf, personal injury attorneys are the targets of polluters, food and drug makers, automobile manufacturers, and others who are seeking to cut corners and limit your rights. There is no “explosion” of frivolous lawsuits. In fact, over the last ten years, the number of personal injury claims being filed has declined by 24 percent, and personal injury awards have declined by 18 percent. There’s nothing frivolous about a lawsuit when you’ve lost an arm or a leg – or a loved one.

Everyone knows that in the 21st century, life can be dangerous – and especially in Southern California. A run to the convenience store, a visit to the doctor or pharmacy, or a night out could lead to a catastrophic traffic accident, medical malpractice, food poisoning, or a number of other undesirable scenarios. Even at home, you could be injured by poisoned food or drugs or a defective electrical appliance.


Of course, anyone who is injured by someone else’s negligence in southern California should discuss his or her legal rights and options with an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer. Injury victims must act quickly because California’s statute of limitations restricts the amount of time they have to file a claim. Those who can prove they’ve been injured by negligence are entitled by law to complete reimbursement for their medical expenses, lost wages, and all other injury-related losses and expenses.

Do you really need to retain counsel if you’ve been injured? Not in every case, and especially if no one is at fault, like the injuries that happen in natural disasters. But if you’ve been injured or if you are injured in the future, and you don’t know if another person is or is not legally responsible, at least discuss the situation with an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer. You’ll get honest advice, and you might even be told that you have no case, or that pursuing a claim won’t be worth it.

Always speak with an attorney before accepting any settlement for a personal injury, because you will very probably be offered a sum that is significantly below the actual value of your personal injury. When you’ve really been injured, when you have real grounds for a personal injury claim – and you have the proof – filing a claim is still your choice, although the right lawyer can provide important insights and guidance. If you haven’t really been injured, however, don’t even try to file a frivolous lawsuit. It won’t go anywhere.