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Northern California FELA Railroad Injury Blog

What are some common auto insurance myths?

When it comes to getting auto insurance in California, you may not know if you are getting a good deal or if you could do something different to get a better premium. All you do know is it is imperative to have insurance to protect you should you be involved in an auto accident.

You probably have heard many tips and gotten a lot of advice about car insurance and what you should and should not do, but how do you separate the truth from the myths? It is not always easy to do. There are many prevalent myths out there that could be having a negative impact on you if you think they are the truth.

Understanding California premises liability law

California residents who go to a store, office, theater, concert, amusement park, friend’s home or virtually anywhere else expect to be safe while they are there. They do not anticipate that they will be in danger or likely to hurt themselves because the property is poorly maintained. In other words, they expect the premises to be safe, both outside and inside.

When an accident happens and a visitor is injured, he or she may decide to sue the property owner for the harm sustained. This is called a premises liability suit, a civil action seeking money damages from the property owner.

Who is responsible for repairing damaged sidewalks?

If you live in the city of Oakland, California, you may wonder who is responsible for damage to the sidewalk in front of your home. According to the City of Oakland, local and state laws assign responsibility for the upkeep of sidewalks to you, the property owner. This means if the sidewalk in front of your home is damaged in any way, you must fix it. If someone were to fall and get injured because of the damaged sidewalk, he or she could sue you for medical bills and other associated costs. Essentially, the sidewalk becomes part of your premises liability.

It is important to note there is an exception to this general rule. If a city-owned tree causes damage to the sidewalk, then the city will become responsible for its repair. However, in order for this exception to be evoked, the tree must be an "official city tree." What is and what is not an official tree is determined by the city.

What are your rights under FELA?

If you are a railroad worker in California, you have rights under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. FELA, according to the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, was designed to reduce the number of accidents involving railroad workers. It was enacted when it was apparent the railroad was not doing enough to protect its workers and the federal government decided to step in.

In order to protect your rights under FELA, you must follow all guidelines for reporting an incident, along with following all safety rules and procedures. Any remedies you collect under the act can be reduced if you are found to be at fault or if the statute of limitations expires. The statute of limitations for claims is three years after the date of the incident or when symptoms were first discovered. You should always report accidents right away to your supervisor. You should fill out requested form, but do not provide any additional information until you have a witness or some form of representation.

What are the types and levels of brain injuries?

Brain injuries are a very serious medical condition. Even very minor brain injuries require medical care and attention. It is difficult to assess injuries to the brain because they cannot be seen in most cases without using special equipment. In addition, some conditions do not produce symptoms that speak to the seriousness of the injury. In any case, if you have been diagnosed with a brain injury, it is important to understand what it means and how severe your injury is.

The Brain Injury Association reports brain injuries are classified as mild, moderate or severe. Severe injuries are the worst and lead to unconsciousness. The period of being unconscious lasts for days or more. With this type of injury, you would be classified as being in a coma or vegetative state. You may also be categorized as being minimally responsive. Recovery is often guarded in these cases, and some people may never regain consciousness.

The three types of distracted driving

While most drivers in California have heard about how dangerous distracted driving is, there are many who still do not understand exactly what qualifies as a distraction. If you are in this group, you may be surprised to realize that distractions can fall into one of three categories or be a combination of multiple types. We at Hildebrand, McLeod and Nelson have created this guide to detail what these types are. 

According to EndDistractedDriving.org, averting your eyes from the road for any reason can be considered a visual distraction. This can occur if you simply look on the floor of your car to find something that fell or stare at something you as you pass. Removing your eyes from the road in front of you can prevent you from seeing oncoming dangers and can lead to an accident.

Dog bite laws and rental insurance

When a dog bite occurs, thoughts of liability usually come up immediately. The person bitten wants compensation for his or her injuries. The dog owner begins to worry about paying for such damages, and the landlord of the property may even be concerned about his or her liability, if any. A dog bite is an unfortunate situation, but when one occurs, the law usually steps in to handle liability issues.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the best way for a renter and landlord to protect against liability for a dog bite is be a responsible dog owner and to carry proper insurance. Obviously, landlords can refuse to rent to people who own dogs or own certain breeds of dogs. Dog owners should take proper precautions to protect others from their dogs, such as putting the dog in a kennel or erecting a fence. Most renters' and home owners' insurance policies offer coverage for such situations, but it is important for renters and landlords to check their policies for coverage stipulations.

Why railroad workers need underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage

Under the Federal Employers Liability Act, your railroad employer is required to provide a reasonably safe working environment. This is true whether you are working on your railroad’s property, a third-party owned industry yard, or any other place related to your work duties. It is also true if you are injured in a van accident during deadheading or transportation to a layover motel.

Yet, the railroad employer is not required to protect you if your injury is not the result of the van driver’s negligence. In other words, if someone else rams into the van you are riding in, your employer will not cover your injuries -- you will have to look to your own uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance (UIM coverage).

How do I submit FELA injury claims?

If you suffer an injury at work in California that is covered under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, you must file a claim using the proper forms and within the time limit to qualify for coverage. It is up to you to understand your rights and know what to do to file a claim. The Department of Labor states you must use Form CA-1 or CA-2 to file your initial FELA claim.

Within ten days, you also must provide medical evidence of your injuries and current medical situation. You will also need to file Form OWCP-1500 for medical service payment reimbursement. You should file your claim as soon as possible, but you must file it within 30 days of the date you were injured to meet FELA time requirements. If you cannot file the form because you are physically unable to due to the injury, someone can file it on your behalf, such as your spouse or a legal representative. You may need to file Form CA-7 if you will be unable to come back to work, but the time limits for this may be longer than the initial claim, especially if your medical provider is not sure of the extent of your injury or how it will affect you long-term.

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Call us toll free at 800-689-7066 or use the email contact form to tell us about the circumstances of your injury or wrongful death case. We offer a free consultation and handle all FELA, FRSA and personal injury litigation matters on a contingency-fee basis. No fees unless we help you recover financial damages in a settlement or trial verdict.

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