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Traffic Safety

Your headlights aren’t good enough

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, well known for crash testing cars to see how well they protect people in an accident, tested the performance of 82 headlights on 31 different cars.

The reports were dismal. Only one car tested was rated “Good.” And that was just with LED headlights. The Prius equipped with headlights passed the test with a Good rating, when it was equipped with LED lights and high beam assist. The other 30 cars failed, and the Prius also failed when equipped with Halogen lights.

LED lights do better on the tests than Halogen lights in general.

The IIHS thinks that headlights shoot illuminate at least 330 feet straight ahead. Motorists going at least 60 mph might not have enough light to see hazards in time to stop.


Read more here


Child Injuries

Properly restraining your children in the car is important

San Diego Child Death Car Accident Lawyer Discusses Proper Car Seat Installation

According to a new report in the Journal of Pediatrics, up to “43 Percent Of Kids Killed In Car Crashes Aren’t Properly Restrained.” Some estimate as many as 95% of families install their newborn’s car seats improperly. 75% of families face their childrens’ car seats the wrong way, and many older kids aren’t using booster seats as recommended.

The report from The Journal of Pediatrics presented several factors that may increase the likelihood of the death of a child in a motor vehicle accident in the US based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The report looked at 18,116 kids under 15 involved in fatal crashes from 2010 to 2014. Of those 18,116 kids, nearly 16% of them died in that crash. 43% of those kids who died in the accident were improperly restrained, or even worse, not restrained at all. 13% of those kids who died were improperly seated in the front seat.

There were major regional differences. 52% of the children involved in fatal crashes were from the south, 19% in the midwest, 7.5% in the Northeast, and 21% in the west.

Car seat laws in California that help prevent injuries in car crashes

In 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics recommended toddlers stay rear-facing until the age of 2, or until they exceed the height and weight limit for their seat.

In California:

  • Children under 2 years of age shall ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds OR is 40 or more inches tall.
  • The child shall be secured in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer of the car seat.
  • ​Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.
  • Children who are 8 years of age OR have reached 4’9” in height must be secured by a safety belt.
  • Passengers who are 16 years of age and over are subject to California’s Mandatory Seat Belt law.

Use Booster Seats To Help Prevent Injury To Children in Car Accidents

When should you move your child to a booster seat? There is no specific law on graduating children from a car seat to a booster seat. It is recommended you wait as long as possible to do so.

According to the CHP, your children is ready for a booster seat when they outgrow their forward facing car seat, typically between 40-65 pounds. Read your car seat manual to determine the weight and height limits, but keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible.

Safety belts are designed for 165 lb male adults, so they are not properly fitted for your child. The booster seat helps position the children higher, but also the seat belt lower. It is important to use a booster seat when your child outgrows their car seat.

San Diego, CA Child Injury and Death Lawyer

In the United States, unintentional injury is the most common cause of pediatric death, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury. If your child is injured in an accident, give our office a call right now, or fill out our online contact form.

Adjusters Auto Insurance Companies

Getting a fair offer from the insurance adjuster on your own

San Diego personal injury and car accident lawyer discusses obtaining a fair offer from the insurance adjuster

California freeway motor vehicles

I probably don’t even have to tell you that getting a reasonable offer from the insurance companies on your own is tough. The insurance companies aren’t in the business of paying out as much as they can.

On the contrary, they’re out to pay as little as they can. If they can get you to accept $1,000 when you might win $10,000 or more from a jury, that’s a huge win for them. They have endless amounts of data from many trials and settlements. They have a good idea what you would win in a jury trial (although there are always surprises). They also know that if they can get you to accept a lower amount in settlement, they’ll have great numbers to tell their supervisors and managers.

So if you’re in a car accident what can you do? You can be extra cautious when dealing with any insurance adjusters. That includes your own adjusters. They also have a job to do. And that job may include opposing you, if you end up filing an uninsured motorist claim! So they will look to add “arrows to their quiver.” This means if they come across any information that can be used against you, they will file it away and pull it out if necessary.

So be extra careful when any insurance adjuster contacts you. Don’t agree to give out a statement to the other driver. You may have to give your own insurance company a statement, depending on the terms of your policy. But you don’t have to give it right away. You can ask if a written statement or questions can be submitted instead. Finally, yes you’re on law firm website, so you are doing the right thing by seeking legal information and/or advice.

When can I handle this without a car accident lawyer?

On smaller cases, where total case value is $5,000-6,000, hiring a lawyer might not add value to the case. We are talking about cases where the property damage isn’t substantial, and there was minimal care, such as chiropractic and/or physical therapy only.

In that situation maybe you don’t need to hire a lawyer. If the adjuster offers you enough to satisfy you, then you don’t have to pay the lawyer a significant portion of your settlement.

But that situation is rare, and more often than not, they’re trying to reduce the settlement they’ll have to pay out.

Do I answer then the adjuster calls about my car accident?

Slow down. Don’t tell them much. Speak to a lawyer about your case. Most lawyers offer a free consultation so it doesn’t hurt to give one a call.

Personal Injury Lawyer

How do pre-existing injuries affect your San Diego personal injury case

Will prior injuries or preexisting injuries destroy or affect my injury claim?

Not necessarily. Having a preexisting injury isn’t going to destroy your case. When someone causes your injuries, due to their own negligence, they are responsible for the damage they cause.

So long as the most recent accident caused your injuries, and you can show this, you are entitled to full and fair compensation.

Now, your prior injuries and preexisting conditions are important to your case. You need to disclose all of your injuries to your attorney, whether they happened right before the most recent accident or 20 years ago.

Preexisting conditions need to be disclosed so that an analysis can be done. We need to determine if your present symptoms are caused by the most recent accident. Maybe it is a mix of existing symptoms that are made worse by the most recent accident.

Also, preexisting conditions can make your case better. Prior injuries make you more susceptible to injury to those sections of your body. If you already have back problems, and get hit by another car or fall down, your back might be in worse shape than someone else who didn’t have any existing injuries there.

It’s only fair to analyze your case in this manner. If the negligent person who caused your injuries was only responsible for 50% or 70% of your present injuries, then that is how much they should be responsible for. Also, if your prior injuries made it easier for you to suffer greater injuries, then the defendant should be responsible for that.

So, it is important that you are not afraid to tell your doctors and attorney about any prior injuries, accidents or conditions you have. If your pain or symptoms are worse after an accident than before, than it’ll be shown that the defendant caused you injury, and owes you full and fair compensation.

California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

California has two relevant jury instructions on pre-existing conditions.

3927. Aggravation of Preexisting Condition or Disability

[Name of plaintiff] is not entitled to damages for any physical or emotional condition that [he/she] had before [name of defendant]’s conduct occurred. However, if [name of plaintiff] had a physical or emotional condition that was made worse by [name of defendant]’s wrongful conduct, you must award damages that will reasonably and fairly compensate [him/her] for the effect on that condition.

Sources and Authority

A tortfeasor may be held responsible where the effect of his negligence is to aggravate a preexisting condition or disease.” (Hastie v. Handeland (1969) 274 Cal.App.2d 599, 604 [79 Cal.Rptr. 268], internal citations omitted.)

Plaintiff may recover to the full extent that his condition has worsened as a result of defendant’s tortious act.” (Ng v. Hudson (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 250, 255 [142 Cal.Rptr. 69], internal citations omitted, overruled on another ground in Soule v. General Motors (1994) 8 Cal.4th 548, 574 [34 Cal.Rptr.2d 607, 882 P.2d 298].)

It is by no means self-evident that an act which precipitates a flare-up of a pre-existing condition should be considered a ’cause which, in natural and continuous sequence, produces the injury.’ Thus, general instructions on proximate cause were not sufficient to inform the jury on the more specific issue of aggravation of pre-existing conditions.” (Ng, supra, 75 Cal.App.3d at p. 256.)

“[An instruction on preexisting condition] is proper only where the injured is the claimant seeking compensation for his injuries. That is not the case here in a wrongful death action.” (Vecchione v. Carlin (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 351, 358 [168 Cal.Rptr. 571].)

3928. Unusually Susceptible Plaintiff

You must decide the full amount of money that will reasonably and fairly compensate [name of plaintiff] for all damages caused by the wrongful conduct of [name of defendant], even if [name of plaintiff] was more susceptible to injury than a normally healthy person would have been, and even if a normally healthy person would not have suffered similar injury.

Sources and Authority

“That a plaintiff without such a [preexisting] condition would probably have suffered less injury or no injury does not exonerate a defendant from liability.” (Ng v. Hudson (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 250, 255 [142 Cal.Rptr. 69], internal citations omitted, overruled on another ground in Soule v. General Motors (1994) 8 Cal.4th 548, 574 [34 Cal.Rptr.2d 607, 882 P.2d 298].)

“The tortfeasor takes the person he injures as he finds him. If, by reason of some preexisting condition, his victim is more susceptible to injury, the tortfeasor is not thereby exonerated from liability.” (Rideau v. Los Angeles Transit Lines (1954) 124 Cal.App.2d 466, 471 [268 P.2d 772], internal citations omitted.)

Don’t hide pre-existing injuries from your injury and accident lawyer

As you see, even if you have pre-existing injuries, or you were more susceptible to injury, you can still recover fair compensation from the person who caused your injuries.

But your attorney needs to know about these issues before the defendants and their attorneys do. We can usually deal with pre-existing issues as long as we know about it.

So you must absolutely tell your personal injury attorney about any possible issues.

Traffic Safety

Seatbelt usage will reduce injury in car accidents

Seat belts are extremely effective in reducing injuries and the severity of those injuries passengers suffer in car accidents. Despite this, many people choose not to buckle up. There are many reasons that show why this is a terrible idea. First, the stats.

  • Seat beat usage reduces injury by up to 50%.
  • Airbags are not a replacent for a properly secured seat belt, but an airbag + seatbelt is the best protection
  • 2.3 million people are treated in emergency rooms each year due to car accidents
  • Younger passengers are less likely to wear a seatbelt
  • Men are less likely to wear one than women
  • People in rural areas are less likely to wear a seatbelt than those from urban areas.

So, the evidence shows, it’s a good idea to wear your seat belt.

How wearing a seatbelt can destroy your car accident case

But that’s not all. There is a legal reason to wear your seat belt – and I’m not talking about getting a ticket for not wearing your seat belt. If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else, and you were not wearing a seatbelt, the other side will try to use that against you.

In other words, they will claim that your injuries were partially caused by you. Yes, you were partially at fault for your injuries, because you did not wear a seat belt as is required by law. In California, this is known as the seatbelt defense. You can read about it here in California’s jury instructions. If they can prove:

  1. That a working seatbelt was available
  2. That a reasonably careful person in your situation would have worn one
  3. That you failed to wear a seat belt
  4. Your injuries would have been less severe or avoided altogether
  5. Then they may have an affirmative defense that will reduce or eliminate your award all together.

So you see, it isn’t just a good idea to wear a seat belt. It is imperative that you do so. You must wear a seatbelt on every trip, no matter how short. Even if you’re going across the street. Especially if you cross an intersection, where many serious accidents occur.

So you must wear a seatbelt on every trip, no matter how short. Also, require everyone in your car to wear one before you even put the car in gear.

Traffic Safety

Is your car recalled, or in need of repairs?

San Diego Car Accident Attorney Discusses Used Vehicles Under Recall

According to research conducted by Carfax, there were 2 million cars advertised in 2012 … that were under a product recall and in need of repairs.

And those were just from the cars sold online that Carfax was able to catalog. The real number is actually much higher.

So how does Carfax even know which cars have not been repaired? Because car manufacturers and dealers track the Vehicle Identification Number of each car that is repaired.

So is selling a car that is under recall but not repaired, a good thing or a bad thing for you?


It’s bad because vehicles with potential defects large enough to warrant a recall are not repaired, and you may end up driving yourself, family and friends in that car.

On the other hand, if you are aware of the recall, you can actually use that as a bargaining chip.

Either way, it’s a good idea to check whether cars you are looking to buy, or already own, are under a vehicle recall and needs to be fixed. You can start by using the following site:

How can used-car dealers get away with selling vehicles currently under recall?

Federal laws prohibit sales of new cars with unfixed recalls. Rental car companies can’t rent unfixed cars. But used cars? There are no protections from unfixed recalled vehicles.

It’s known as the used-car loophole. Used cars with faulty Takata airbags and bad GM ignition switches can be sold on the used car lot with no repercussions from federal laws.

Safety advocates say this loophole is putting lives at risk, while used car dealers argue the ban would reduce values of cars for owners. Some estimates are as high as $1,200.00 in reduced car value if the law was changed.

Stop-drive warnings

Most recalls do not involve a defect serious enough to ground the car. However, there are some recalls that receive a “stop-drive” notice, meaning the defect is so dangerous you need to stop driving. Regulators advise dealers and rental car companies not to sell or rent the vehicle, but they have no power to enforce this.

The NHTSA and NADA would like for all recalls on cars to be fixed before the car is sold, or rented. That is unlikely to happen even with a passed law.

Un-repaired vehicles can contribute to injuries sustained in car accidents

The FTC is being sued because it allows car dealers to advertise used cars as being safe even when there are potentially fatal defects with a recall on the vehicle.

So a vehicle can kill you, but the dealer can argue that the car is safe even if the repair is not complete. So how do you protect yourself?

Go to Safecar and see if the car you are looking to buy is under a potentially dangerous recall.

Traffic Safety

Turning left over double solid yellow lines in California

San Diego Car Accident lawyer discusses what happens when you turn left over double yellow lines

In California, what happens when the road has double yellow lines? Can you turn across them?

Yes, if there are two solid yellow lines, you can still turn left across them, as long as a few rules are followed. This is important because if you are in a car accident and your car or the other car crossed these double yellow lines, these rules can help determine who caused the accident.

Solid double yellow lines indicates the center of the road with two way traffic.

If there are solid double yellow lines dividing road, it means simply that you cannot pass a car in front of you by crossing these lines (and driving to the left of the lines).

On some roads there may be two yellow lines, but one will be solid while the other will be broken. If the broken line is on your side of the road, you can pass a slower car in front of you.

Car accidents involving solid double yellow lines in California

However if both lines are solid and are close together, you cannot cross those lines for any reason unless:

  • You are turning left at an intersection. Be sure not to turn too soon (before the actual intersection). You also must slow down, signal early, and move your car as far left in the lane as possible. If not, you might be cited for unsafe turn movements (Vehicle Code 22107)
  • You may turn into into or out of a private road or driveway.
  • Into carpool lanes
  • You have to because construction signs, or workers direct you to cross to the other side, around any construction happening.

Now, if there are two sets of solid double yellow lines at least 2 feet or more (4 total lines), this is considered a barrier and you cannot cross that to make any turn.

San Diego car accident attorneys is ready to help you

Were you injured in an accident involving solid double lines? If you’re in California, we are ready to help you. Give us a call immediately or fill out a contact form on this page.

Personal Injury Lawyer

Will hiring a personal injury lawyer increase the value of your case?

When does hiring a personal injury lawyer increase the value of the case?

Studies by the Insurance Research Council (an insurance organization) consistently show, injured victims who hire attorneys to represent them in their car accident cases recover 40% to 350% more than those who don’t.

Why? Because insurance companies hire adjusters to pay you as little as they can get away with. So if you don’t hire an attorney, they will often refuse to pay you reasonable value for your injuries. Without a reasonable threat of a lawsuit, they will offer unreasonably low amounts, hoping you get frustrated and settle.

Unfortunately this happens enough for them to keep with this strategy.

When hiring a personal injury lawyer doesn’t help

There are times when perhaps hiring a lawyer will not help. When the accident, injuries and medical costs are relatively minor, you might not gain a financial advantage by hiring an attorney. When the amounts are smaller, there is a better chance of getting a reasonable offer. Even if the amount they offer is lower than what you truly deserve, you won’t have to pay for a lawyer.

A lawyer’s fee is usually a percentage of the total settlement. If you don’t have to pay this fee, it makes up for the slightly lower settlement offer.

But be careful here. No matter how small the accident, I wouldn’t put it past the insurance company to try and cheat you out of your money anyway. Insurance adjusters have been known to participate in contests to see who can negotiate the lowest settlement offers. One adjuster boasting they obtained a $10 settlement!

So be aware of your rights, and try to figure out what a reasonable offer for your accident would be.

When hiring a lawyer does help

If you are involved in a serious accident, with significant damage to your car, visits to the emergency room, and extensive medical treatment lasting months or even years, then you need to speak to an attorney right away.

The higher your medical bills are, the more likely the insurance company is going to pull out every dirty trick in the book to keep from paying you fairly. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. It is their sole purpose to take in as much money as possible, and pay out as little as possible. It’s their business model. So you have to fight for your just and fair compensation.

Too often I see victims trying to handle their case on their own and being tricked or forced to accept a lower settlement offer. It is your right to handle the case on your own. Just make sure you understand what a reasonable offer should be, and compare that number to the one offered you. If your medical bills total $20,000, $50,000 or more, then I highly recommend you contact my office to discuss your rights. If you suffered a lot of damages, it is imperative you tell your story. The stronger the story, the bigger the settlement or jury verdict.


Swimming With Sharks: Dealing with Insurance Companies, Adjusters and Defense Attorneys

I battle insurance companies, adjusters, and defense attorneys on a daily basis. I battle them to fight for justice for my clients, injured victims in accidents caused by someone else.

After spending years battling insurance companies and their hired defenders, I learned that they have a playbook that is remarkably similar across all insurance companies, and the many different adjusters and attorneys. The playbook can be boiled down to 3 words:

Delay. Deny. Defend.

In order to maximize profits, insurance companies will gladly take your insurance premiums every single month. But when it comes time to file a claim they will

  1. Delay processing of your claim. Delay payment of your claim.
  2. Deny your claim.
  3. Defend against your lawsuit.

Most adjusters and defense attorneys are not bad people. Some are, but most are not. But they have a directive they must carry out. So it leads them to do some very unsavory things. Like delay, deny, and defend.

So I came across an article written by Voltaire Cousteau, an author who died in Paris, back in 1812. He wrote, “HOW TO SWIM WITH SHARKS: A PRIMER” It was written with sponge divers in mind. Sponge diving is the oldest form of known underwater diving (in order to retrieve sponges).

The author begins his forward by writing,

Actually, nobody wants to swim with sharks. It is not an acknowledged sport and it is neither enjoyable nor exhilarating

I will say, while tussling with insurance companies is neither enjoyable or exhilarating, fighting for and obtaining justice for my clients is quite enjoyable. It’s why I get up in the morning and drive to work. It’s all we ever do here at Severe Accidents.

The author continues to say:

Finally, swimming with sharks is like any other skill: It cannot be learned from books alone; the novice must practice in order to develop the skill. The following rules simply set forth the fundamental principles which, if followed will make it possible to survive while becoming expert through practice.

I will agree with the author here. I have summarized his instructions below, but reading these instructions doesn’t give a novice competence, or turn them into an expert. But it’s a quick, fun read, so here we go.

How to Swim With Insurance Companies, Adjusters, and Defense Attorneys

1. Assume unidentified fish are sharks. Not all sharks look like sharks, and some fish which are not sharks sometimes act like sharks.

This is sage advice. The insurance adjusters are going to be really nice, and courteous to you. They are hiding the fact that they are a shark. They’ll tell you that they are there for you, that they are going to take care of you, and your medical bills, and that you guys can solve this together, without needing to get an attorney involved. If that were true, then the countless personal injury attorneys have no reason to exist.

It’s not true. Their own studies have shown the faster they can get a claim settled, the less they will pay. And if they can settle a claim without an attorney, their windfall is even bigger.

2. Do not bleed. It is a cardinal principle that if you are injured either by accident or by intent you must not bleed. Experience shows that bleeding prompts an even more aggressive attack.

Well, it’s kind of hard not to bleed when you are bit. But when it comes to your car accident claim, do not bleed. Don’t show any weakness in your case or a willingness to settle quickly. If they find out you do not have an appetite for a long litigation process, then any offer by them will be lower.

From day 1, they have to believe you are willing to take your case all the way through trial. Doing anything less will let them know they can lower their settlement offer to you.

3. Counter any aggression promptly. Sharks rarely attack a swimmer without warning. Usually there is some tentative exploratory action. The appropriate counter move is a sharp blow to the nose.

When I was just starting out in personal injury and car accident law, I wasn’t so aggressive, for fear of overstepping in an industry new to me. Those days are long gone. Now I am as aggressive as I can be, without violating any rules or ethics guidelines. I don’t let them have whatever information they ask for.

I control the flow of information from our side. They are on a need to know basis. Sure they complain, but that’s all it is, a complaint. I know the justice system is waiting for me no matter what tricks or games the insurance companies want to play.

4. Get out if someone else is bleeding. If another swimmer has been injured and is bleeding get out of the water promptly.

Now, this one doesn’t apply directly to personal injury cases except perhaps when you have a weakness in your case. Not every case is perfect. Most have warts. Some cases have more warts than others. And those warts are bigger. But if you have a weakness in your case, and the other side finds it, move on. Acknowledge the wart, but focus on the strengths of your case and move on from the weakness.

That’ll tell the insurance company their “coup de grace” isn’t as strong as they thought it would be.

5. Use anticipatory retaliation.

Attack before being attacked. This can only come with experience. You must anticipate their moves and take counter measures before they’re needed.

6. Disorganized and organized attacks.

Everyone on the other side is well trained and acting in concert to delay, deny, or defend your claim. Most ordinary people are not experienced nor have the requisite training to battle these adjusters.

Help with your San Diego, CA car accident or personal injury claim.

Don’t wait to contact a skilled car accident attorney.It is important you take the right steps from the very beginning of your case.

Get it right from the beginning by contacting Jonathan M. Feigenbaum, Esq., a Boston Massachusetts ERISA attorney, at (617) 681-7815 or toll free (866) 816-3171.