An extremely talented young doctor, raised in Chico, had just started her first year of residency at U.C. Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. One day, while jogging along Freeport Boulevard in Sacramento, she was struck by a vehicle while she was in a crosswalk.
She was badly injured, including serious head trauma, potentially ending her career as a doctor. We showed that the cause of this tragedy could be traced to the fact that the cross walk was in the second half of an “s” curve—creating dangerously poor visibility for both drivers and pedestrians.
The city recognized the danger and planned to install a pedestrian signal light. But the city of Sacramento did nothing.
The jury found that the circumstances created a serious danger, and that the city could have avoided it by simply closing the crosswalk until the signal was installed.
There’s an old myth that dogs are allowed one free bite before their owners are liable for injuries. Of course that’s false.
As sweet as your dog may be, if it feels you, or your family, are being threatened, it may react aggressively. A bite from even a small dog can cause physical disfigurement and emotional trauma, especially in children.
Make sure your dog is properly fenced or tied while outside, always leash your dog while walking, and make sure there is no possibility that neighboring children can wander into the dog’s area.
If your dog exhibits aggressive behavior, try modifying that behavior by utilizing professional trainers. Most importantly give your dog proper care, treatment and respect, which will help ensure a happy well adjusted animal.
Many people have preconceived notions about their liability as property owners. Most believe that they’re responsible for any injuries that occur on their property.
But that’s not always the case. Liability depends on whether the owner exercised reasonable care.
Was the owner aware of the dangerous condition or should he have been aware of it?
Did the owner have time to correct it before the accident occurred?
Had there been prior similar incidents?
The best defense against property injury lawsuits is to make sure your property is in good order. Routinely inspect decks, trees, railings, sprinklers and all walkways, including the city-owned sidewalk in front of your house. Even though it’s owned by the city, it most likely is your responsibility.
And most importantly, make sure you have adequate liability coverage, because no matter what you do to prevent accidents, stuff happens!
When it comes to 60,000 volt high tension power lines, how close is “too close?”
In this case, a lineman was on the ground replacing a phone cable that was carried on the same poles as high tension line. He was pulling up the phone cable by means of a pulley.
Due to the ruggedness of terrain, the cable came too close to the high tension line, the electricity arced, and the lineman was severely shocked and burned.
The power company and the cable manufacturer said the resulting injury was the lineman’s fault for getting too close.
Barr & Mudford was able to show that the phone cable had a small copper wire embedded within it which caused the arc to occur — and that cable was not labeled properly. The lineman had no way of knowing that he was in a dangerous situation.
This personal injury case was settled for $2.7 million.
This case represents an issue that we at Barr & Mudford are passionate about: Automobile manufacturers have a responsibility for making sure the automobile passenger compartment is not compromised in an accident, and that passengers are contained within the vehicle.
In this case, a young girl was killed when the car she was riding in was struck by a driver high on methamphetamine.
The car rolled over and when the roof crushed, the side window next to her broke away.
And even though she was wearing a seat belt, the belt was not able to keep the upper part of her body from extending through the broken window, resulting in her death.
We showed in this case that the auto manufacturer was responsible because side windows should be made with safety glass in the same way that windshields are, and that current seat belts don’t always keep the occupant safe.
Passengers that are ejected from an automobile almost always experience severe injury or death.
By holding manufacturers accountable for automobile passenger safety, the end result is safer vehicle design that benefits us all.
This case was settled for $500,000.
In this case our client was hit and severely injured by an off-duty undercover narcotics officer.
The police officer left the scene of the accident, demonstrating reckless indifference. We took legal action and were able to get a judgment against the city because an employer, even the police department, is responsible for the harm caused by an employee while working in the scope of their employment.
In this case we argued that an undercover police officer driving an unmarked police car is never really off-duty, our client received a settlement for $1,500,000.
Anytime two or more people are working together there is the possibility of confusion if there are not adequate rules, training, and procedures. For example, we had a case where two mechanics didn’t communicate and one did something unexpected—he started a vehicle engine while it was in gear. The result caused terrible injury to the other mechanic.
In another case, management and the crew at a lumber mill each had a different idea on how to safely unload a log truck. As a result a log fell from the truck causing serious injuries to our client, the truck driver. We showed the jury that confusion about procedures is what caused the accident and the jury awarded our client a substantial sum.
We’ve had so many cases where drivers ignore traffic signs and signals causing serious injury. One case involved a car hit broadside by a delivery truck that ran a stop sign.
The driver of the truck argued that the police report was wrong, that he had stopped and that our client, the driver of the car, was partially to blame for not anticipating the trucks’ entry onto the highway. Not a very convincing argument. Our client received a settlement of over $500,000.
We got a call from a man who encountered a cow on a rural highway. He wanted to know who had the right-of-way, the driver or the cow.
In fact some parts of California are Open Range because of the amount of grazing land in California. If you are in an accident involving livestock the jury cannot presume negligence on the part of the rancher—or the cow.
We encounter these kinds of cases regularly, including this one. The driver, our client, was travelling at 55 miles an hour when he hit a black cow on a rural road on a moonless night. An investigation showed this was not open range, the cow should not have been on the road, and our client received a settlement of $1,000,000 dollars.
Product liability occurs when a product causes injury or death as the result of a design or manufacturing flaw. It might be a product that unexpectedly breaks, cuts, or explodes. For example, when fluorocarbons were banned for use in aerosol cans, many manufacturers started using propane as propellant. Propane is an explosive gas and its use made all sorts of products extremely dangerous, including hair sprays, flat tire repair products, and spray lubricants.
At Barr and Mudford, we have represented a number of victims injured by defective products. In one case, our client used a lubricant spray to stop a squeak in an electrical appliance. When the spray hit an electrical connection, an explosion occurred, causing injury. Our client received $550,000 in damages.
Distractions are a major cause of automobile accidents. We represented the family of a pedestrian who had been walking along a two-lane road. The driver of an approaching vehicle looked down to change the radio, drifted onto the shoulder and hit the walker. A significant settlement was negotiated for the family.
In another case the driver of an agricultural vehicle was driving—legally—on the shoulder of the road when he was hit by a distracted driver reaching for a cup of coffee. The victim’s family received a settlement of one million dollars.
In car crashes there are sometimes multiple causes that contribute to serious injuries. Those causes may include driver error, the safety of the vehicles (think recalls), and the safety of the roadway. In order to discover all the possible causes, a prompt and thorough investigation should be done, over and above the police reports.
The vehicle manufacturers, the highway department and the insurance companies typically do not volunteer that an injury was their fault so it’s important to get competent help from a law firm right away.
In one case we helped a seriously injured passenger where both the driver of the car and car safety were factors in causing the injuries. Our client received a settlement of over $1,000,000.