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The ATV Accident in California

ATV Accident

California is known for its outdoor adventures. Our beautiful mountains provide recreation, with fishing in the lakes, skiing and hunting. The ocean welcomes you to the coastline, inviting you to surf, swim and explore its depths, with deep sea excursions. Huge expanses of dirt and sand comprise the deserts of California, where people take their dirt bikes, jeeps and ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) out for a spin. But it’s not all fun and games. An ATV accident could land you in the hospital, or worse, if you’re not careful.

Recreational Toys

Of course, having off-road, all-terrain vehicles can alleviate an afternoon of boredom, but there is also a great responsibility that comes with these “toys.” They are powerful machines capable of catastrophic injuries or even death, if not handled properly. Sometimes, even when being used exactly as directed, mayhem can ensue due to manufacturer issues.

ATV Accident Dangers

Even if you are operating safely, there are a number of things that could derail your fun.

  • Design Flaw – Is there a feature or aspect of the ATV that makes it unsafe or defective?
  • Driver Error – Were you hit while someone was speeding, intoxicated or driving recklessly?
  • Trail Maintenance – Are there dangerous conditions or obstacles that helped contribute to an ATV accident?

A common issue with ATVs is the design; they rollover easily. This is the main cause for ATV accidents. Manufactures don’t always provide sufficient warning or instructions on how to avoid rollovers, and that could make them liable.

Safety Tips

The Consumer Product Safety Commission releases statistics on ATV-related deaths and injuries. Between 1982 and 2012, there were 12,391 reports of ATV fatalities, with 24 percent of that number comprising minors younger than 16 years of age.

There are a few things you can do to prepare and protect yourself against accidents and against liability. One of them is to read the owner’s manual and enroll in a training course to ensure you know how to operate the ATV safely. Also, always wear a helmet and other protective gear. Never ride on pavement or in traffic with an ATV, and never ride while intoxicated.

Protect Yourself

Maison Law Firm is a premier law firm that specializes in personal injury claims. Call us today to see what we can do for you – 559-203-3333.

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The Function of the California Victim Compensation Board

California Victim Compensation Board

While originally first formed in 1965 under the Department of Social Welfare, the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) wasn’t officially named that until 2016. Previously, it was called the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). They regulated the California Victim Compensation Program, the Revenue Recovery Program and the Government Claims Program. As their responsibilities changed and grew, they evolved into the CalVCB we know today.

California Victim Compensation Board

This is a state-run program that facilitates reimbursement for crime-related expenses to people who experience physical injury or the threat of physical injury, as the aftermath of a violent crime. Medical and dental treatments, mental health services, income loss, funeral expenses, home vehicle modification, relocation, crime scene cleanup and even relocation are a few things they can help with. They receive funding from criminal restitution received from fines, penalties and federal funds.

Eligibility

The list is quite extensive. Here are a few of the circumstances the California Victim Compensation Board can help you with.

  • Elder Abuse
  • Child Endangerment
  • Murder
  • Robbery
  • Sexual Battery and Assault
  • Online Harassment
  • Domestic Violence
  • Vehicular Manslaughter
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon
  • Human Trafficking

Other people affected by monetary loss due to a crime can also benefit. That includes legal guardians, brothers, sisters, grandparents, spouses, children and grandchildren.

Education

Not only do they help resolve monetary issues that may result from a violent crime, they offer information to better educate the public on some of the different types of crimes. You can find the definition of stalking, what it includes and statistics on the crime, along with the effects it can have on a victim. There’s also a section on how to receive help, not only through their agency, but through other sources, as well. It’s all on the California Victim Compensation Board website.

Awareness

Part of their services is to make people aware of the California Victim Compensation Board and how to help. They have advocate meetings and support materials. They also hold public fundraisers for various causes, like the Sexual Assault Awareness Clothing Drive to raise awareness.

A Helping Hand

Maison Law Firm is here to help you if you need legal representation. We specialize in personal injury law, and we can help you get through a difficult time. Call us for your free case evaluation, at 559-203-3333.

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Prescription Drugs and Driving

Prescription Drugs, Driving

You know the law when it comes to driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, but you may not be as familiar with “drugged driving” laws. The term “driving under the influence” is actually a legal term that refers to ingestion of anything that could affect the nervous system, muscles or brain in such a way that affects your ability to safely operate a vehicle. This includes certain doctor-prescribed medications, as well. Prescription drugs do fall under this category.

Basically, the statutes that regulate alcohol DUIs in California are also applied to the use of drugs. It is illegal to drive under the influence of any drug or combination of drugs and alcohol (California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)).

Prescription Drugs and Driving

Not all prescribed drugs affect your ability to drive, but some clearly do. Painkillers, marijuana and even some herbal supplements are classified as drugs that are prohibited, even if legally prescribed. Simply having permission to use that particular substance is not a valid defense if you receive a drugged driving charge.

Costs and Consequences

In general, the same penalties that apply to driving under the influence of alcohol apply to prescription drugs and driving. They are enforced under the same statutes. The costs and consequences of a drug DUI, as with alcohol, varies, depending on how many offenses you have.

In California, the first offense is a misdemeanor. There is up to a $1000 penalty, plus other assessments that may make that number go up. Usually, there is probation for at least 3 years, which prohibits driving under the influence, and requires the offender to willingly submitting to roadside testing and refraining from other law violations. The more offenses you have, the higher the penalties and probation restrictions.

Implied Consent

In California, when you operate a vehicle, you are giving your implied consent to submit to a drug or alcohol test. The law enforcement officer is required to explain the consequences of refusal. Refusal to agree could result in license suspension, paying fines or you could even face jail time, if convicted. If you don’t comply with the implied consent law, your refusal can be entered into evidence against you if you have to go to trial.

Peace of Mind

Contact Maison Law Firm to find out what your rights are with prescription drugs and driving. You don’t have to worry and fight it alone. We offer free case evaluation. Contact us today.

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Driving Under the Influence: Blood Tests

Driving Under the Influence

If your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or more in California, you are considered to be driving under the influence. If you fail a breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test, there’s a good chance you’ll be submitting to blood tests. These tests are conducted to measure how much alcohol is in your blood stream, and it’s compared to the legal limit allowed. These standards have been set by scientifically conducted experiments showing stages of impairment with alcohol in the system and they pinpoint when operating heavy machinery becomes a safety issue.

Driving While Under the Influence

In California, refusal to take a blood test will usually result in additional penalties under the “implied consent law”. By driving a motor vehicle, you have agreed to chemical analysis of your breath, blood or urine, if asked to comply by a law enforcement officer. To refuse is to have one more charges added. There are a few exceptions. Hemophiliacs and those who take coagulants for a heart condition are usually exempted.

Blood Tests and Reading Errors

While blood tests are considered reliable due to the scientific nature of the results, the human process to harvest the blood for the test is not always perfect. There have been and still are instances of mishandling of the specimen by the officers. These instances include not recording the chain of custody, contamination by the lab, and the accidental introduction of another toxin or chemical. Something as simple as using a 2 percent alcohol swab for sanitation of the injection site could affect results and render them inaccurate and, therefore, inadmissible.

Why the Right Attorney is Important

If you or a loved one has been hurt by someone that was driving under the influence, it’s critical to find an attorney who will fight for you.  At Maison Law Firm, we are ready to put our education and experience to work for you. Call us at 559-203-3333. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Passing and Overtaking Waste Vehicles

Waste Vehicles

It’s happened to all of us. We’re driving down the road when we close the distance to and end up behind waste vehicles.

Garbage trucks are massive. There are people hopping off and on. Trash is falling through the air. The truck itself has jerky movements and unpredictable direction changes. It’s a hazard waiting to happen.

Waste Vehicles on the Road

Garbage trucks are a necessary service. Without them, the streets would be overrun with rodents and bugs. As necessary as they are, their design makes them dangerous. The risk to motorcycle drivers, bicycle riders and pedestrians is high. These cumbersome and erratic trucks travel mostly down residential streets, where there is a higher percentage of people on foot. They have poor visibility, blind spots and no rear-view mirrors.

The risk isn’t only for the public, but includes the safety of the sanitation workers themselves.

California Assembly Bill No 2115

To protect more people, California has introduced into legislation a bill that would prevent people from passing to the left in unsafe conditions. Instead, the requirement would be to make a legal lane change while the waste vehicle is stopped and flashing amber lights. If maneuvering around the garbage or recycling truck is unsafe, you must stop and wait until it is safe to proceed.

Complexity of Waste Vehicle Cases

Due to the specific nature of a garbage or recycling truck, there are often experts called in to evaluate the condition of the waste vehicle. Has it been well maintained? Is there a safety feature that isn’t working? These questions, along with juggling the possibility of dealing with multiple insurance companies, can make these cases overwhelming.

Someone on Your Side

If you believe you’ve been injured by a waste vehicle and aren’t sure about what your rights are, call Maison Law Firm. We have an experienced team of attorneys who know what your rights are and want to fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Located in California’s Central Valley, we can focus on your case while you focus on recovery. Your first consultation is free! Call 559-203-3333 at any time – 24/7. Someone will be here to help you.

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School Bus Passenger Restraints: What Took So Long?

School Bus Passenger Restraints

When school buses were designed, they were created with safety in mind. Their size and weight, combined with high-backed seats, were tested and found to be safe without restraints from a rear or front crash. Nothing was said about side-impact wrecks.

When hit from the side, children without school bus passenger restraints fly sideways out of their seats. Neither are they protected in the event the bus rolls over. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets school bus safety standards. They require three-point belt systems on buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds. States are free to decide whether or not to get seat belts on larger school buses.

School Bus Passenger Restraints

It’s been hotly debated whether school bus passenger restraints are needed. Some argue emergency evacuations would be less efficient. Some also argue there would be more injuries due to improperly fastened belts. Even with this opposition, more and more states are requiring a restraint system.

Not Federally Mandated

The design of the bus once again comes into play as to why school bus passenger restraints aren’t required. It’s believed children are protected from the full force of the crash due to the “compartmentalization” design: strong, closely spaced seats. The NHTSA claims bus passengers feel much less impact from a crash than in any other kind of transportation, due to the interior design of large buses.

Numbers Don’t Lie

While school buses are still the safest way to get to and from school, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports an average of 128 fatalities per year. Taking a school bus is still 70 times safer than travelling by car. School bus passenger restraints could make that number even better.

Turn to Us

An injury is an injury, and you shouldn’t have to face it with uncertainty. Call us, at Maison Law. We are skilled in every aspect of personal injury and have a team ready to help you. We have 3 locations: Visalia, Bakersfield and Fresno. Let us welcome you to our family.

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What Seniors Need to Know About Their Driver’s License Renewal

Driver's License Renewal

Inevitability, the time comes for your driver’s license renewal. If it’s your turn, you might want to get some information on the process. Even seniors have the chance to renew by mail or online if certain criteria are met.

Driver’s License Renewal

Excluding commercial licenses and some other restrictions, you can generally renew under these rules:

  • Your license must be within 60 days of expiring
  • You must be 70 years of age or under when your current license expires
  • You must not be on any driving probation or suspension

Field Trip to the DMV

Of course, if you aren’t eligible for mail-in or online renewal, a trip to the DMV is in your future. If the thought of it makes you tense, you can relax. There are some ways ensure your visit goes more smoothly. One of those ways is to make an appointment and bring your renewal notice. You’ll spend considerably less time waiting.

Requirements for Seniors

In addition to making an appointment, there are other aspects of the tests you will want to prepare for. Be sure you are ready for the vision test. If you’re having some issues, get them checked out now. If your eyesight needs correction, make sure you have a current prescription that gives you 20/40 vision.

Good advice for anyone going for their driver’s license renewal, regardless of age, is to study the California Driver’s Handbook. Laws are updated all the time, and you need be aware of current laws to pass the written knowledge exam.

Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation

Seniors may be tested for cognitive ability by a driving test examiner in order to get their driver’s license renewal. This is to ensure you are implementing safe driving practices. Some may ask you to follow multiple directions, one after the other in a single sentence. They may talk to distract you, ask you to get on the freeway or have you perform more lane changes than usual.

Keeping Your Driving Privileges

Driving is often translated into freedom, so having to go in and take tests can feel like a threat to independence. It’s not a perfect system and sometimes people can’t get past the paperwork to be able to enjoy driving again.

That’s where Maison Law comes in. You don’t have to muddle through the red tape alone. We can help you better understand your rights as a senior driver. We have offices in Bakersfield, Fresno and Visalia. Visit us online at maisonlaw.com to see how we can help you.

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Handling Claims of Sexual Harassment from a Teacher

Sexual Harassment

Claims of sexual harassment are stressful for anyone in a managerial capacity to handle, but they can be particularly tough for school administrators working to do their best by teachers and students while complying with Title IX on top of state, local and federal laws surrounding this delicate subject.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

When a teacher comes forward with a claim of sexual harassment, either from a student or a co-worker, it’s not always easy for administrators to navigate the legal and ethical minefield it creates. Since it’s also vital to create a culture among faculty and staff which encourages coming forward, since the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimates 25 percent to 85 percent of women, in particular, have experienced workplace harassment, but only 25 percent of incidents are reported. Low reporting rates may be attributable to fear of retribution; the same task force report indicates up to 75 percent of those who reported such treatment in the workplace were subjected to retaliation.

How to Proceed When a Teacher Alleges Sexual Harassment

Because Title IX compliance is understandably a concern for school administrators in the middle of a sexual harassment case, obtaining legal counsel is usually a wise course of action.

Title IX specifically protects students from sexual harassment from other students and from faculty, but it does not protect teachers from harassment. If a teacher is being sexually harassed, they’re not afforded Title IX protections. If a teacher is reporting the sexual harassment of a student, either by another student or a coworker, however, it does come into play.

Under section Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, faculty and administrators of a school receiving federal funding must work to create a space where steps are actively taken to prevent and remedy sex-based discrimination. This means a teacher is mandated to report sex- and gender-based harassment if they have knowledge of such behavior, and administrators are required to take further action.

As an administrator or principal, you want to foster learning and curiosity on your campus, not a culture of sex-based harassment and fear. This means taking allegations seriously and working to handle them in accordance with all applicable laws. Sometimes it also means working with experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel.

We understand how difficult and painful any sexual harassment claims can be for all involved parties, particularly in an education setting. If you’re not sure how to proceed in the face of such a situation, contact Martin Gasparian at the Maison Law Firm for the legal expertise you need in a difficult time.

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The California Distracted Driving Law

Distracted Driving

The California distracted driving law is intended to help dramatically reduce road accidents that occur as the result of drivers becoming distracted while in command of a vehicle. Expansion of the law already in place became necessary due to increased reliance on mobile devices, such as cell phones. Even if the device in question aids in navigation, additions to the current distracted driving law are designed to restrict use in a number of ways.

Under the California distracted driving law, you are not allowed to hold an electronic device in your hands while commanding a vehicle. While devices are permitted on hands-free systems or when cradled, what you can do with that device is still subject to the law. A single swipe or tap for the purposes of activating or deactivating a feature is permissible. Conversely, actions such as texting, continuous scrolling or multiple taps are not permitted.

In-Car Devices

The same principle applies to in-car devices, regardless of whether they are used for entertainment or navigational purposes. If your dash is fitted with gadgets and gizmos designed to help you find your way around the roads of California, you cannot spend time scrolling through menus or inputting directions while driving.

Any such actions are considered distracted driving and are in violation of California law AB 1785. Similarly, if you have to stretch or strain in such a way that it causes you to take your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel, that action is considered distracted driving.

None Included Distractions

The push to reduce distracted driving is a serious effort in California and a number of other states. As a result, police officers are likely to adhere to other laws which may apply. One way in which an officer may cite you is through the use of vehicle sections such as VC 22350, which would cover disregard for the safety of persons or property.

Examples of when VC 22350 may apply would include eating while driving, carrying objects on your lap that are impeding control and personal grooming while driving. The main take-away from the California Distracted Driving law is that failing to pay due care and attention while operating a vehicle may cause an accident which could result in serious injuries or even fatalities.

Injured Due to Distracted Driving

If you have been injured due to distracted driving on the part of another driver, you may wish to seek compensation for any damages. A personal injury claim can help cover the costs of medical bills, and loss of past and future earnings. As part of a potential reward, you may even receive compensation for emotional damages, including the loss of personal and familial relationships.

If you would like to find out more about what is involved in a personal injury claim due to distracted driving, call Maison Law, today. We provide excellence in free, no-obligation consultation over the phone, at our offices or at your home, for greater convenience.

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4 Road Safety Rules That Can Save Your Life

Road Safety

Choosing 4 road safety rules that can save your life probably sounds like a major gamble; it makes a lot more sense when you focus on the broader picture. For instance, if you were to sit down and answer questions on every type of road sign or symbol, you would probably come unstuck very quickly, which is perfectly fine. So long as you observe excellence in road safety, there is a greater chance of not getting killed because of those gaps in your knowledge.

The following 4 road safety rules are universal, in that they apply regardless of which state you are in, the vehicle you are driving or the type of road on which you are traveling.

Purge Distractions

Distracted driving has become an increasingly alarming concern, not just here in California, but on roads and highways all over the world. There are so many things that can distract both drivers and pedestrians, the chances of life-threatening accidents occurring as a result of them are significantly increased. Removing as many distractions as possible is a fundamental road safety rule that has never been more important.

Not having conversations while driving, keeping the radio turned down and making sure you are wearing your seatbelt before taking off are long-standing to-dos. Now you can add not texting, not fiddling with your phone or other dashboard gizmos and gadgets to that list.

Observe Your Surroundings

While you are not being distracted, it is equally important to keep an eye on your surroundings – including other road users. Some of the hazards you should be on the lookout for include roadwork, pedestrians and the behavior of drivers on all sides of your vehicle. It is especially important to remain extra vigilant when the weather is poor, as driving and road conditions will become hazardous.

If you encounter road signs you are not familiar with, avoid making assumptions. You have time to deviate from your journey long enough to exercise road safety by pulling over and checking that the route is not likely to represent a risk to life and limb.

Make Way for Large Vehicles

Larger vehicles need much more space and deserve to be treated with respect. It is basic courtesy to allow a larger vehicle extra room. They take longer to stop and their drivers face greater challenges when it comes to blind spots. Accommodating large vehicles is a road safety rule that could prevent a multi-vehicle pileup resulting in mass fatalities.

Never pull directly in front of a large vehicle and avoid driving too closely behind. In general, give these mammoths of the road enough space to stop, turn and maneuver, so that everyone gets home safe.

Never Drive Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and other controlled substances is against the law for a reason. When intoxicated, drivers cannot react as quickly and may not have the concentration needed to observe adequate road safety. If you know you have had too much to drink, do not attempt to operate a vehicle.

If you have been injured due to someone driving while under the influence, Maison Law can provide you with representation in your personal injury case. Call today to learn more about how we will fight to help win you fair compensation.