Evaluating a Wrongful Death Case with an Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney

Orange County Wrongful Death AttorneyOrange County Wrongful Death Cases are Challenging. Here’s What You Need to Know!

If you have lost a loved one in an Orange County accident, you and other surviving family members may be entitled to damages. Wrongful death actions can be extremely difficult and emotionally draining. As a result, you will want to work with an experienced Orange County wrongful death lawyer to help evaluate your claim and review your options.

How to Prove Liability in a Wrongful Death Claim

California wrongful death law requires you to show several elements to prove fault in an Orange County wrongful death action. Even if there is a direct link between an accident and death, there is no guarantee that you can collect damages. Some elements that you may need to prove include:

  • Duty. The defendant must owe a duty to the Orange County victim such as the duty to keep the victim safe or away from danger. In other words, you will need to prove a relationship between the defendant and the victim
  • Breach of Duty. The defendant must have breached his or her duty to keep the victim safe such as by acting carelessly or unreasonably given the circumstances
  • Causation. The act by the defendant needs to have led to the Orange County accident
  • Death. This may sound obvious, but you will need to show that someone died in a California wrongful death action. This is what separates an Orange County wrongful death from other types of negligence actions
  • Relationship to Victim. You typically need to show that you are an immediate relative of the Orange County wrongful death victim to collect damages.

Collecting Damages With an Orange County Wrongful Death Lawyer

Your wrongful death lawyer can help you evaluate your claim and determine if you are eligible for damages. Some types of damages that you may be able to collect include:

  • Medical Costs. You may be able to collect the costs of medical bills and hospital expenses relating to the Orange County wrongful death case. In addition, you may collect for the costs of any drugs and other medication
  • Loss of Support. If you or other family members relied upon the deceased financially, you may be entitled to recover for the loss of financial support because of the Orange County wrongful death
  • Punitive Damages. In extreme cases where the defendant acted egregiously or recklessly, you may be entitled to collect punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the victim and can be significant.

More details about California and Orange County wrongful death cases (links, articles and videos) can be found at our popular blog post entitled, “Wrongful Death Lawyers in Orange County” 

Contact an Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have a question about a wrongful death claim, please feel free to contact an Orange County wrongful death attorney at Jackson & Wilson by clicking here or calling 800.661.7044 for an evaluation of your claim.

Backup Cameras in Cars

Backup cameras in cars and child safetyLately, there’s been a great deal of concern over children being left in their hot vehicles. We wrote about children and heat-related car deaths here and shared several good safety tips to avoid this from happening.

Another very big problem involving children and vehicles that we’re not hearing too much about is the tragedy of young children being run over by vehicles backing up down the street or from their driveway. Truly unthinkable nightmares for everyone involved and in most cases, accidents that probably could have been avoided.

NHTSA estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes. The agency said that children and the elderly are the most common victims. Children are killed in about 44% of such fatal accidents. A third of the fatalities are people over 70. Over the years, we’ve handled a number of these cases. All could have been avoided had everyone involved paid more attention to what was going on.

Because of our experiences in these matters, we think it is a good idea that the federal government require all automobile manufactures install backup cameras in all new vehicles. Owners of older vehicles might want to purchase an after market backup camera to improve safety.

Good backup cameras and related devices are designed to keep drivers from running over pedestrians (including unsuspecting young children) who might be playing or crossing behind a vehicle. The systems typically come with a bell or alarms that alerts the driver if something is located close by within the field of view of the camera.

“There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. A good back up camera will help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to back up.

Safety tipBefore backing up your vehicle, walk around the back of it to make sure someone isn’t walking, sitting or playing in the area.  Then, after getting in the vehicle, check all mirrors and your backup camera before putting the vehicle in to reverse.  Begin very slowly and proceed with caution.  Quick and sudden movements should be avoided. Honking your horn will also alert everyone behind you that you will be backing up.

Orange County Dog Bites and Dog Attacks- Have You Been Bitten By a Vicious Dog?

Dog bite attorney in Orange County CaliforniaMost people are not aware of the fact that each year across Orange County and the United States, close to 5,000,000 people are bitten or attacked by dogs. Of these dog bite victims, about 340,000 require emergency treatment and result in more than 1,000 dog bite hospital emergency room visits each day. Tragically, about 20 of these dog attacks result in loss of human life.

[Legal Update- One of our cases involving a dog harmed by a neighbor made new California law. Click here to read…]

Most dog bite victims are children who are bitten or attacked in their face and hands. Because you never know what the disposition of a dog is, it’s usually best to first talk to a dog owner before ever approaching and petting a dog. Children should be taught to approach dogs slowly and to allow the dog to get comfortable with him or her before trying to pet the animal.

When you really think about all of the unknowns, it’s probably best to avoid strange dogs altogether. The fact of the matter is that because we’ve handled so many disfiguring and life changing dog bite cases over the years, we think it’s smart to simply avoid putting yourself or child in a location or position that might result in a dog bite or attack. Dogs are animals and you just never know what they are going to do.

Dangerous and Vicious Dogs

According to Orange County Animal Care (OCAC), a dog can be determined to be dangerous or vicious if it behaves in any of the follow three ways:

First, if unprovoked, it engages in any behavior that requires a person to take defensive action to avoid bodily injury. The behavior must happen on two separate occasions with the prior 36-month period and it doesn’t matter if the behavior happens on or off the dog owner’s property.

Second, if the dog bites a person while unprovoked and causes an injury less severe than a “severe injury”.

Third, if the dog, when unprovoked, kills or seriously injures a domestic animal, horse or livestock.

Under California law, a “vicious” dog means

(1) any dog used and seized as a “fighting animal” under Penal Code 599a;

(2) Any dog, which unprovoked and in an aggressive manner, causes severe injury or death to a human being. Again, it doesn’t matter if the behavior happens on or off the owner’s property;

(3) Any dog previously determined to be a potentially dangerous dog that continues to act as a potentially dangerous dog. If certain restrictions were previously placed on a potentially dangerous dog and those restrictions are violated by the owner, then the dog can be determined to be a dangerous and vicious dog.


Keep in mind that there are certain common sense exceptions to the above guidelines and rules. For example, if someone is trespassing on to your property or breaking in to your house and your dog attacks, then your dog would not be deemed to have acted as a dangerous or vicious dog.

dog bite lawyer in orange county ca

In most California dog bite cases, a victim does not need to show that the dog owner was negligent or careless. In fact, pursuant to California Civil Code §3342, the owner of a dog is “strictly liable” for all dog bite related injuries and harm. Other California codes and court cases expand liability to include being knocked down by a dog while standing, walking or even riding a bike.


Over the years, we’ve represented dog bite victims who have been bitten in their faces, hands, chest and ankles. We helped clients who have lost fingers, parts of their hand, toes and even an ear to dog attacks.  The above is a trial exhibit of a 15 month old boy who was bitten in the face by a neighbor’s dog.  After being attached, his mother reached down to pull the dog off of her son.  The dog turned, grabbed the mother by the throat, and also took her to the ground.

We were able to successfully help these clients and to this day, still stay in touch.  We’d like to think that we’ve done a good job for our dog bite clients. Hopefully, their testimonials and posted case results speak for themselves.

When handling serious dog bite cases, there’s a right and wrong way to right the wrong, fix the harm, and maximize the results. Call us and we’ll be happy to take the time to explain the difference. We’ve been helping Orange County dog bite victims since 1986 and chances are, we can help you too.


Orange County lawyer Youtube videosVideo- Dog bites client’s finger off!

Video- Dog Bite Cases- Trial exhibits and maximizing your settlement or verdict

Video- Dog Bite Cases- Our message to dog owners

Click here to watch more dog bite related videos on our Youtube Channel

April is Injury Prevention Month

Injury and Death in the United StatesSerious injury and death affect all of us. Many people are not aware that each year in the United States, injuries (intentional and unintentional) account for more than half of all deaths among persons ages 1–44 years of age.

Here are several other related statistics:

  • There are more than 180,000 deaths from injury each year—1 person every 3 minutes
  • Injury is the leading cause of death for people ages 1–44 in the U.S.
  • An estimated 2.8 million people are hospitalized with injury each year
  • An estimated 31.7 million people are treated in Emergency Department for injury each year
  • Violence and injuries cost more than $406 billion in medical care and lost productivity each year
  • 4.1 million people suffer a workplace injury each year
  • 185 people (in the US) die each day from workplace injuries
  • Workplace Costs for Unintentional Injuries/Deaths: $164.7 billion
  • Injury related lost quality of life costs an additional $3,080.1 billion
  • Total injury days lost: 80,000,000

Other resources

California personal injury cases (rights and damages)
California wrongful death cases (rights and damages)

Rain, Hydroplaning and Driving Automobiles and Trucks on Wet Roads

Wet roads, cars and driving- hydroplaning danger[Note- this article was originally posted last year. Because of the recent storms, we’ve added some updates and are sharing again. Please go over these tips with all the drivers in your family. The chances are good they are not aware of all the hazards and risks]

It’s starting to rain here in Southern California.  Every night on the news serious accidents are being reported.  Our incoming phone lines are busy with one client after another calling with accident related questions.  Our web site traffic has almost doubled this week because of the bad weather and related accidents and injuries.

This weekend, Lisa had to drive up the 5 Freeway to pickup frozen turkeys from the Second Harvest Food Bank.  Together with members of our Rotary Club, she is going to distribute them later that day to several families in South Orange County.  It was pouring when she left the house and started to come down even harder as the day went on.

She called me on her way home.  I could tell from the sound of her voice that she was nervous.

After picking up the turkeys and heading home, her car began to hydroplane without any warning.  The massive amount of rain and water on the freeway resulted in a layer of water preventing the tires of her vehicle from contacting the road surface.

Fortunately, she was able to regain control.  She pulled off the freeway and took a slower and safer alternative route home.

When driving in rain, snow or ice, remember that hydroplaning accidents are a very real danger.  A layer of water on the road can prohibit your car tires from cleanly contacting the road surface.

The loss of friction between your tires and the roadway can result in the driver being unable to safely brake and steer the vehicle.  In some instances, a total loss of control happens.  Other factors like speeding, improperly balanced or overloaded trucks and worn out or underinflated tires can make hydroplaning even worse.

Here are several safety tips for driving in the rain

  • Exercise extreme caution after a long dry spell. During a dry period, engine oil and grease build up on the road over time. When mixed with water from a new rainfall, the road becomes extremely slick. Continued rainfall will eventually wash away the oil, but the first few hours can be the most dangerous.
  • Allow for more travel time. You should plan to drive at a slower pace than normal when the roads are wet. Keep in mind that traffic is likely to be moving slower as well. There’s also the possibility that your preplanned route may be flooded or jammed. Whatever the case, rushing equals higher risk.
  • Brake earlier and with less force than you would normally. Not only does this increase the stopping distance between you and the car in front of you, it also lets the driver behind you know that you’re slowing down. Also, be more meticulous about using turn signals, so that other drivers know your intentions, and take turns and curves with less speed than you would in dry conditions.
  • Most of America’s roads are crowned in the middle, which means that the water will run off to the sides. If possible, stay toward the middle of the road to avoid deep standing puddles.
  • Don’t use cruise control. If you hydroplane, there’s the chance your car could actually accelerate. Cruise control also allows drivers to be less vigilant and to take their foot away from the pedals — not a great idea when reaction time is so important.
  • If you see a large puddle up ahead, drive around it or choose a different route. Water splashing up into your car’s engine compartment could damage its internal electrical systems. Also, a pothole may be hiding under the water, just waiting in ambush to damage a wheel or knock your suspension out of alignment. If you can’t gauge the depth, or if it’s covering up the side curb, try to avoid it.
  • Don’t attempt to cross running water. This is not an SUV commercial, and you’ll probably get into trouble if the force of the water is greater than the weight of your vehicle. All-wheel drive isn’t going to be much help if your vehicle is being pushed sideways. Don’t end up like those folks on the nightly news who had to abandon their cars to Mother Nature.
  • After you cross a puddle, tap on your brake pedal lightly to dry off some of the water on your rotors.
  • Turn on your headlights, even when there’s a light sprinkle. It helps you see the road, and more importantly, it helps other motorists see you. However, don’t blast your high beams in the rain or fog — it’ll obscure your view further, as the light will reflect back at you off the water droplets in the air. If your car is equipped with foglights, you may find it helpful to turn these on, as they throw a little extra light on the road while making your car easier to see.
  • Watch out for pedestrians. An ordinarily observant pedestrian may become distracted by fiddling with an umbrella or a rain slicker. Plus, raindrops deaden sound, so the usual audio clues for measuring car distances become obscured. Keep a sharp lookout for people in the road.
  • If it’s raining so hard that you can’t see the road or the car in front of you, pull over safely away from the side of the road and wait it out.
  • Track the car ahead of you. Let the car ahead pave a clear path, so to speak, through the water.
  • Give a truck or bus extra distance. Their extra-large tires can create enough spray to block your vision completely. Avoid passing one, but if you must pass, do it as quickly as safety allows.
  • Defog your windows. Rain will quickly cause your windshield to fog up. Switch on both front and rear defrosters and make sure the air conditioning is turned on. Most cars’ climate control systems will automatically engage the A/C when the windshield defrost function is selected.
  • If you start to hydroplane, don’t brake suddenly or turn the wheel, or you might spin into a skid. Release the gas pedal slowly and steer straight until the car regains traction. If you must brake, tap the brake pedal (unless you have antilock brakes, in which case you can put your foot down).
  • Now that you know how to drive in the rain, take some precautionary measures to ensure that your vehicle is prepared to get you through a downpour.
  • Stay on top of your car’s condition. Its brakes, tire pressures, tire tread depth and defroster operation should be checked regularly so that you’ll be ready to deal with a deluge when the time comes.
  • Most vehicles are available with antilock brakes these days, and safety features like traction control, stability control and all-wheel drive are becoming increasingly popular as well. Although all-wheel drive is really only necessary if you frequently drive in snow and ice, traction and stability control can be very handy on rain-soaked roads. Traction control helps you maintain grip by putting the brakes on the tire(s) that don’t have traction, while a stability control system monitors your steering input, intervening with the brakes and/or reducing engine power as needed to keep you on your intended path.
  • Although several tire manufacturers design tires specifically for wet roads, a good set of all-season tires will do the job for most drivers.
  • Make sure that your wipers are in good condition and functioning properly. If the blades are brittle or damaged, replace them before you’re caught in a downpour. Some wipers are definitely better than others, so ask your retailer for recommendations.
  • If there’s a chance of freezing rain, double your precautions. Carry snow chains, as well as a supply of salt, sand or kitty litter (the non-clumping kind). If you’re stuck and uselessly spinning your tires on a patch of ice, stop what you’re doing and place some of said material around the drive wheels to gain traction. Then give it another go, giving the car as little gas as possible. If your car has a manual transmission, it also helps to start out in second gear rather than first. If you live in a particularly harsh climate, consider keeping a small shovel in the trunk to remove excess ice and snow from around the tires in the event that you get stuck.
  • Every car should have a good emergency kit. The contents of these kits vary, but when driving in rough weather, a tow rope is always a good idea — just in case.

When the weather’s bad, stay home if you can.  If you must drive, be careful.  Slow down and please drive defensively.

I want to get home in one piece this evening and so I’ll be playing it safe behind the wheel.  Please remind your family to do the same this holiday season.