Law Office of Frederick J. Sette
Personal Injury Attorney
Serving The Greater Sacramento California Region
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Sacramento Accident Lawyers Pitch in for Bicycle Safety

Spring came very early this year, inviting bicyclists to the streets of Sacramento. Personal injury attorneys at Sette Law want local riders to adopt proven safety habits that that help to prevent Sacramento accidents. Our lawyers, of course, support bike riding as a good alternative to driving and for recreation as well. However, injury attorneys find themselves dealing with too many preventable bicycle accidents. Facing lawyers for defendants of automobile drivers who have hit bicyclists can be challenging and frustrating for our injured plaintiff. Attorneys at Sette know that victims of a car verses bike accident, often suffer very serious injuries, and court proceedings can add extra stress. Consequently, our personal injury lawyers offer advice from some of the nation’s most prominent experts about how to safeguard against Sacramento bicycle accidents.

Attorneys Tap NHTSA for Bicycle Safety Data
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration monitors vehicle accidents across America, including car vs. bicycle accidents. Lawyers point out that the NHTSA acknowledges that many such accidents are caused because of the bicyclist’s actions – such as ignoring important safety measures -  like always wearing a helmet, or failing to observe common traffic rules. Our Sacramento personal injury attorneys have direct experience that verifies the NHTSA statement. That’s why we reiterate some simple bicycle safety practices – as a reminder that bicyclists can help prevent accidents that often leave the bicyclist with the most serious injury.

Our lawyers remind riders that traffic laws apply equally to motorized vehicles and bicycles. Actions like running through stop signs and riding against traffic are common contributors to Sacramento bicycle accidents. Our lawyers point out that motorists are simply not expecting bicyclists to ride on the wrong side of a roadway, or to speed through a stop sign. This kind of behavior simply isn’t anticipated by motorists, and our Sacramento personal injury attorneys think bicyclists must be aware of the risks they take when disobeying traffic laws. Yet another practice that surprises motorists, according to the NHSTA and our Sacramento personal injury lawyers, is when bicyclists swerve in and out of traffic. It’s so important to remember that, in a car verses bicycle collision, it’s usually the bicyclist who ends up with the most severe injury. Attorneys at Sette Law emphasize this most fundamental rule for bicyclist safety – follow traffic laws as if your life depends on it!

Some Good Bicycle Habits for Riders in Sacramento
Personal injury lawyers urge all bike riders to wear regulation helmets, and then to develop some additional safety habits. The NHTSA says that the street is actually the safest place to ride a bicycle. Our accident and injury attorneys assume this is because the rules of the road apply to cars and to bicycles as well. When riding, bicyclists are advised to make themselves stand out – wear brightly colored clothing, equip bikes with proper reflectors and make eye contact with drivers to avoid an accident. Injury attorneys further encourage bicyclists to ride consciously – that means thinking ahead about automobile traffic. For example, bicyclists should notice parked cars with doors that might suddenly open and cause a serious bicycle accident on the street of Sacramento. Injury lawyers know it’s hard for any rider to monitor multiple elements in the traffic environment. But our Sacramento personal injury lawyers also know that it’s the bicyclist who has the most to lose in an accident.

Our Sacramento personal injury lawyers, however, add that the NHTSA believes that children under the age of 10 should not ride in the street. Experts say that riders that young do not yet have the maturity to monitor the complexities of street traffic. But to avoid injury, attorneys say that riders on sidewalks must also be very aware. Motorists backing out of driveways are a particular danger and present the threat of grave injury to children. Of course, motorists must be responsible when entering or exiting driveways for this very reason.

Sacramento personal injury lawyers are monitoring local policies regarding riding bikes on sidewalks. There is some belief that local ordinances are not clear about the limits of riding bicycles on sidewalks in Sacramento. Accident attorneys recall that a pedestrian injured by a bicyclist highlighted the issue when she challenged a city code and filed suit for compensation for serious injury. Attorneys say, bike riders, whether riding in a street or on a sidewalk, must exercise focus as well as awareness.
Personal injury attorneys work with bicycle accident victims who might have avoided accidents by simply making a habit of thinking ahead and monitoring traffic. Motorists often are not aware of bicyclists and may change lanes or turn unexpectedly. As Sacramento accident and injury lawyers, we know this puts the onus on the bicyclist – perhaps unfairly. Nonetheless, personal injury attorneys at Sacramento’s Sette Law say this kind of constant vigilance is required for bicycle riders to protect themselves from grave injury.

Lawyers Quote Disturbing Data on Bike Accidents
Our attorneys refer to Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Center statistics that clearly show the hazards faced by bicyclists. The organization’s 2012 study showed that about two bicyclists were killed each day of that year and a whopping 29,000 bicyclists suffered various degrees of injury. Attorneys know that this latter figure is likely skewed low due to the fact that many bicycle accidents go unreported.

What to Do After a Sacramento Bicycle Accident
Attorneys at Sette Law suggest that bicycle accident victims adopt the same practices used in any vehicle accident. It’s critical that while people involved exchange information, they do not engage in extra conversation that might later be used in court. Personal injury lawyers for a defendant may quote parts of a verbal exchange that might imply the bicyclist admitted culpability! Our Sacramento accident attorneys know that people often say unintended things when under stress, so it’s best to limit conversation. In addition, our personal injury lawyers advise bicycle accident victims to document events and the environment with a cell phone camera or texting details to themselves. Also, it’s critical to seek immediate medical attention, according to our Sacramento personal injury lawyers. Delaying medical care could harm any claim of an accident related injury. And, attorneys  advise seeking legal representation to minimize any financial and personal losses caused because of a bicycle accident.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys face High Standards of Proof in Court

Sacramento medical malpractice attorneys must have command of numerous and complex legal details regarding health care, hospitals and their employees, and the actions of specific physicians. At Sette Law in Sacramento, our malpractice lawyers must draw information from numerous disciplines and venues to establish an injury was caused due to a physician’s, a hospital’s or a hospital employee’s malpractice. Attorneys explain that each of these areas is governed by slightly different nuances and application of existing law regarding medical malpractice.

Injury lawyers, however, point out that in each case, a defendant will be required to prove four fundamental conditions in any malpractice action in Sacramento. Our personal injury attorneys will look first to establish the injured party has a mutually agreed upon, patient-doctor relationship. This is often simple to prove when individuals hire doctors and physicians agree to treat a patient in Sacramento. Malpractice lawyers may find that direct relationship is problematic if a defendant brings charges against, say, a consulting physician who did not have direct treatment responsibilities. Our Sacramento medical malpractice lawyers add that no person can claim such a relationship with a doctor whom they overheard dispensing medical information to another person. Although, personal injury lawyers usually have little trouble affirming the doctor-patient link, this relationship is fundamental (and not always clear) in any claim of malpractice.

Secondly, lawyers will seek to establish that a physician’s diagnosis or treatment regimen was, in fact, negligent. Again, our Sacramento personal injury lawyers say this factor can be more complicated than it appears. A defendant must show that another qualified doctor in the same circumstances would not have harmed the defendant in the same manner. However, our malpractice lawyers are quick to point out that this doesn’t mean the doctor has to be the best in his or her discipline. It’s not a test of physician quality but, rather, of a doctor demonstrating ‘reasonable skill and care.’ Our Sacramento malpractice attorneys say this can often be a ‘moving target’ of proof, with competing opinions about what constitutes a lack reasonable skill and care that leads to an injury.

Malpractice lawyers ordinarily will call in an expert witness to testify about this aspect of a Sacramento malpractice case. An attorney will ask the witness – who is ordinarily a physician in the same specialty as the plaintiff – about what the standard for care is and to comment on how the plaintiff’s care was below standard and how that care caused the alleged injury. Lawyers on both sides may debate these findings. Our Sacramento malpractice lawyers further report that this bar is particularly high for physicians in a medical specialty. Their extensive education and training raises the expectations for the standard of care in disciplines such as radiology, anesthesiology, internal medicine and other medical specialties.

Sacramento malpractice attorneys at Sette Law must also demonstrate a very clear link between the  defendant’s alleged negligence and the  plaintiff’s  injuries – a challenge for plaintiffs who were suffering from an illness or injury prior to the defendant’s care. For example, if a patient has terminal cancer and dies in the midst of an operation, was it the procedure poorly done or the cancer causing the death? Malpractice lawyers must clearly establish that it was the actions of the physician that led to the fatality and not the presence of the disease. One again, the onus is on the Sacramento malpractice lawyer to ferret through medical testimony, literature and case files to establish the necessary link.

Finally, our Sacramento malpractice attorneys must show that the physician’s actions led to tangible harm and caused personal injury. Lawyers look to show physical pain and mental harm, and also consider the harm done because of medical costs and lost earnings. So, even if the plaintiff can demonstrate a doctor showed an unacceptably low standard of care, without real harm done, there is no malpractice.

Injury attorneys deal with a wide variety of malpractice cases. From news reports, the public may be aware of instances in which a sponge was left inside a patient’s body during a surgery, leading to additional harm and personal injury. Our lawyers may represent a client whose physician neglected to inform him or her that a prescription medication could cause cardiac arrest. Our Sacramento malpractice lawyers say that most of their cases involve improper treatment, a failure of a physician to properly diagnose and failing to inform patients of risks involved in procedures or treatments (including medications).

Sacramento personal injury attorneys say that, unlike some court actions, malpractice cases have a rather short statute of limitations. Since rules vary from state to state, the limits can be from six months to two years. Our Sacramento malpractice lawyers report that California requires that injured parties file actions within one year from when the date the injury was (or should have been) discovered to three years from the date it occurred. According to our personal injury attorneys, if an injured party in California files outside these limits the court will dismiss the claim – no matter how strong the evidence of medical malpractice.
Injury lawyers are also bound by California’s limits on damages awarded in cases of medical malpractice. Attorneys say the state has capped non-economic awards at $250,000 and a personal injury attorney cannot request an award beyond that amount. The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, (MICRA), passed in 1975, compensates victims for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, psychological damage and other damages that are hard to quantify in dollars and cents. Sacramento malpractice attorneys say many efforts to raise this cap have hit the ballot box over the decades. They point out that MICRA never addressed inflation and for 40 years the diminishing value of $250,000 has unfairly impacted victims of medical malpractice. But attorneys point out there is no cap on compensation for past and future medical care, on loss of income or a plaintiff’s earning ability because these matters are quantifiable as economic damages in medical malpractice.

Sacramento personal injury lawyers say this arena of law requires particular expertise and urge injured parties to seek experienced, legal representation.

Early Spring may bring More Sacramento Motorcycle Accidents

Accident attorneys at Sette Law in Sacramento are well aware of the sobering statistics – in car crashes and solo accidents the biggest loser is almost always the rider of a motorcycle. Injury lawyers personally deal with the pain and disabilities inherent in most vehicle verses motorcycle accidents and we feel the time is now, as early as April, to remind all drivers to be aware of the risks faced by Sacramento motorcycle riders.

Attorneys work with statistics compiled by state law enforcement and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Unfortunately, our Sacramento accident lawyers report that motorcycle riders experience much higher accident rates than do drivers of automobiles. The NTHSA reports that out of 100,000 car accidents in 2006 – 13.10 involved fatalities. Our Sacramento injury attorneys say the comparison to motorcycle deaths in crashes is staggering – 72.34 percent per 100,000 crashes.

As Sacramento injury lawyers who also appreciate and participate in the recreational sport of motorcycle riding, we want to offer a few more sobering statistics. In 2012 motorcycle accidents rose 7.1 percent over the previous year with 4,957 deaths due to motorcycle accidents. Furthermore, injury lawyers say the NHTSA calculates bike riders are 26 times more apt than vehicle occupants to die in a motorcycle accident. Our injury attorneys also point out that motorcyclists face a five-fold greater risk of injury in an accident. In fact, in 2012, 93,000 people recorded injuries due to a motorcycle accident. Our Sacramento injury lawyers think these statistics are pretty compelling.

Sacramento Injury Lawyers note Disproportionate Injury Rates
In addition, older riders seem to be disproportionally represented in motorcycle accidents. Our attorneys point out that NHTSA data from 2011 indicates 56 percent of bike riders killed were over 40 years old. One reason may be the popular of bigger heavier bikes among more mature riders. Large ‘touring’ type bikes have a greater tendency to roll over in a motorcycle accident. Our Sacramento accident lawyers also attribute the increase of injury to older riders to more fragile physical condition that can come with age. Our Sacramento injury lawyers say the data supports the heightened risk for mature riders – between 2002 and 2011, there was a 78 percent increase in deaths to riders over the age of 40 in motorcycle accidents. Injury attorneys compare this to deaths over the same period to younger riders, which declined.

However, our Sacramento accident lawyers point out that there is an exception. In 2007, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that riders of “Super Bikes,” that can reach speeds of 190 mph, had a four times higher rate of death rate in motorcycle accidents. Lawyers say this may be due to a couple of factors – speed, of course, and inexperienced young riders.
Our Sacramento injury attorneys understand the allure of motorcycles – our region is a great place to enjoy the freedom and excitement of riding a motorcycle. Accidents, both our attorneys and safety officials say, are preventable, and conscientious riders can enjoy the freedom of motor bikes by employing effective safety measures.

For example, helmets can significantly reduce the severity of injury or of death in a motorcycle accident. Injury lawyers know that head injuries are the number one cause of death in motorcycle accidents. Compared to a rider wearing a helmet, a rider not wearing an approved helmet faces a 40 percent greater chance of death in a Sacramento motorcycle accident. Attorneys also point to a 15 percent increase of a serious injury to riders with no helmet. Our Sacramento accident lawyers see this mitigation as both easy and affordable for motorcycle riders throughout our community.

Our Sacramento injury attorneys also look to motorcycle associations for tips about safe riding. One group states that most accidents are caused by a car turning left in front of a motorcycle. Accident attorneys point out that motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable on this kind of crash. Avoiding this situation calls for extreme awareness on the part of the motorcyclist in order to avoid a Sacramento accident. Our attorneys say this is also true when it comes to lane changes. Automobile drivers may not notice a motorcyclist and precipitously dart over into the bike rider’s lane. Again, our Sacramento injury lawyers say it’s in the motorcyclist’s best interest to survey traffic constantly and anticipate movements that could lead to a motorcycle accident.

Injury attorneys know that it seems a bit ‘unfair’ that so much responsibility be placed on the motorcyclist. However, considering the statistics on death and injury it’s clear the rider has the most to lose in a Sacramento motorcycle accident. Our injury attorneys also want to highlight another very serious threat to motorcyclists, one that can easily be avoided! NHTSA figures for 2012 that show about 27 percent of fatalities were legally drunk at the time of their motorcycle accident. Injury lawyers say that 2,000 of those fatalities were due to single-car crashes. An astounding 43 percent of riders were alcohol impaired. Sacramento injury lawyers add that the incidence is even higher on weekend evenings when authorities recorded an increase of 64 percent of rider fatalities registering inebriated at the time of the motorcycle accident.

Sacramento injury attorneys may be pointing out the obvious – but drinking alcohol and driving a motorcycle is a high risk recipe for disaster. When alcohol plays a role in a motorcycle accident, lawyers know that judgment is impaired and the rider may be the actual cause of the motorcycle accident. Attorneys say that following vehicles too closely or pushing the bike to excessive speed, can lead to the bike rider being held liable for a Sacramento motorcycle accident.

Our injury attorneys at Sette Law, like so many people in our region, appreciate the thrill of riding a motorcycle. However, our profession also highlights the serious nature of any motorcycle accident. Lawyers regularly work with the often painful aftermath of accidents. Our injury attorneys are consequently involved in the details and statistics about motorcycle accidents. Thus, we know that riders are vulnerable and bear great responsibility for their own safety.