craneSomething about crane accidents capture the imagination and horror of many.  When a tragic crane accident occurs, it is often front page news, perhaps because it results in dramatic images of property damage, sometimes way up in a city’s skyline.  But the severe injuries and deaths that can occur in such a situation make an accident involving a crane something not to be ogled, but avoided at all costs.  Construction workers account for a disproportionate percentage of work-related fatalities yearly and are substantially more likely to receive serious injuries when compared to employees in other industries.

After a series of crane accidents making the news, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a program aimed at reducing significant injuries and deaths related to the operation of cranes in general industry, construction and maritime operations in the Pacific Northwest.  And to improve compliance with its program, OSHA conducted compliance inspections, training, consultations on-site, and outreach programs.  They also formed partnerships and alliances to help improve crane safety.

The guidelines that OSHA established in order to help prevent crane accident are as follows:

  • Inspection of the crane by a certified crane inspector for mechanical problems before use, followed by more comprehensive regular inspections for any issues such as cracks, or worn-out, faulty or otherwise damaged
  • Any repairs or modifications should be performed by a certified professional

The crane should be situated on stable and flat ground at least 10 feet away from electrical cables

  • Enforce strict adherence to the maximum capacity load of the crane – which is not more than 75% of the tipping weight under U.S. standards.
  • Install barriers around the construction site to prevent trespassers or other non-authorized people from getting close to the crane.
  • Ensure safety devices such as the level operator are functional.
  • Always have a qualified signal person to assist in crane maneuvers.
  • Use of fall protection
  • Use of a qualified rigger to ensure the loads are properly set
  • OSHA found that wind is one of the foremost causes of crane accidents in the United States and crane operators should always factor weather, especially wind, into the operation.
  • Recognize that cranes mounted on less stable platforms, such as ships and offshore surfaces, require more caution.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury attorney with the most comprehensive and informative injury site on the web, AutoAccident.com.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a crane accident, please call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 if outside the Sacramento area.  Our advice is friendly and free!

Be sure to read our reviews on Yelp! and Avvo.

               

A young Doctor came into my office today for serious injuries which he suffered when he and his family   were struck head on by a drunk driver.

He had graduated from Medical School a few years back as had his wife. He had his own Neurology practice which he had started in 2010 and his wife worked as

a Family Practice Doctor. They were just starting    their Own family and had little ones  8 months and 2 years old.

The injuries were severe. Both he and his wife suffered serious fractures and internal injuries. They were hospitalized for over 21 days. Luckily, their children   came out of this one with relatively minor injuries.

 

Stay with me a minute as I’m setting the stage.

The neurologist earns about 250K a year and his wife around 110K. Unfortunately, it will be months before either of them can return to work full-time.

Medical bills to date are estimated at $350,000 plus and their combined Loss of earnings will total minimally 100K till they return to work.

They had Blue Cross which paid the  Lion’s share of their medical bills, but came to me to see if there was a way to proceed against the drunk driver.

They also felt I’d be able to help them as they had the foresight To purchase a large  $1 Million Umbrella Policy on top of their $100,000  /$300,000 Underinsured Motorist policy.

A little research on our databases quickly revealed that the drunk was working as a line cook and renting a house in South Sacramento.

In other words, he had no significant assets. He had minimal auto insurance.

They didn’t need me to get the 15K insurance of the drunk or even the additional 85K of their own insurance company. In a case this severe, almost all insurers will pay immediately because the bills were so high and the injuries so severe.

I had the sad news of informing them that even a very experienced personal injury  lawyer such as myself,   really couldn’t help them because they could easily obtain the drunk’s policy just by asking, and their own underinsured motorist carrier would pay immediately as well. No need for them to pay me a fee when they could get that money just by asking. Their medical bills and wage loss to date far exceeded the assets and insurance of the defendant.

But how about our 1 Million Umbrella, the Neurologist said. We can go after that! “That’s why I paid for it”.

Sadly again, I needed to explain   that the Umbrella policy they paid for was useless in this situation.

“But my agent told me this would totally protect us” both clients exclaimed.

The agent was wrong and it’s a serious error I see all the time.

Many agents as well as most insured’s misunderstand what ordinary Umbrella Insurance protects against.

 

Here’s the scoop.

If you have a $100,000 /$300,000 Auto insurance policy and a One Million Dollar Umbrella, you or anyone driving your car with your permission is covered if they are negligent and hurt someone else in an accident.

If the injured party sues you and is hurt severely, your auto insurance will pay up to $100,000 for a single injury up to a maximum of $300,000 total if several people in the other car have serious injuries.

And if the other party has damages in excess of $100,000 there is another 1 Million Dollars available to protect you because you were negligent and injured other

people severely. So in total you are protected up to $1,100,000 for severe injuries to one person or $1,300,000 protection for injuries to all other people who may have been injured.

In other words, the auto policy and the Umbrella protect you if sued because you are negligent.

 

The Ordinary  Umbrella DOES NOT PROTECT YOU if you are if YOU or YOUR FAMILY are Injured thru the acts of another.

 

There IS A GOOD WAY TO PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY if you are seriously injured by someone else’s negligence, but again you have to know the

magic words, because most insurance agents don’t.

 

I suggest that Every person or family earning over $90,000 yearly purchase a $250,000/$500,000 Liability and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist policy from their auto insurance. These are common limits at State Farm, Allstate, CSAA and most other into insurers.

Additionally, and here are the “magic words”, you want to buy an Umbrella Insurance Policy with Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage.

 

In other words, this type insurance not only protects your assets if you are negligent, but protects you and your family up to the combined limits of your auto

uninsured motorist coverage plus the  Underinsured Umbrella Limits if someone else  is negligent and injures you or your family.

 

If the doctors I spoke with  had purchased the correct Umbrella policy, there would have been $1,250,000 to pay for their damages including past and potential future lost wages.

Again, I suggest every family making a good living purchase a UMBRELLA INSURANCE POLICY WITH UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED COVERAGE.

 The protection this type of policy provides is excellent but you may have to look far and wide to find an insurance agency that sells this or even knows that this policy exists.

The cost of such policy is modest, little more than the standard Umbrella policy.

The 2  companies that I know of that sell these policies are  US Liability Insurance and American Alternative Insurance(AAIC).

Locally, an Insurance agency familiar with this type of Umbrella policy is the Leland Agency. Their telephone number is 916-428-1309.

I’m Ed Smith, , a Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney since 1982 and I urge you and your family to purchase the correct auto and insurance to protect you fully.

You can find my firm’s Ratings on Yelp or Avvo . Call me anytime at 916-921-6400 in Sacramento or 800-404-5400 Elsewhere for free, friendly advice.

I handle serious auto, trucking and motorcycle  accident cases throughout the state of California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tractor

According to the United States Depart of Labor, half of the fatalities among agricultural workers (276 of 570) was due to vehicular accidents on a farm.  Between the years 2003 and 2011, approximately 1,533 deaths were attributed to farm tractors.  The deaths associated with farm tractors include laborers in the agriculture, fishing and forestry communities.  Fatalities resulting from vehicular accidents among agriculture workers were typically associated with tractor rollovers.  A survey in 2002 was conducted in the United States regarding the subject of tractor rollover accidents.  Of the 6,000 farm owners and farm operators interviewed about 1 in 10 farms experienced a tractor overturn.  For every fatality in a tractor accident another four other people are injured.  Sadly, the agriculture industry holds the third highest death rate that  equates to approximately 22.7 deaths per 100,000 agricultural workers.

Even if there is no fatality involved in a tractor rollover it is not uncommon for the tractor operator to experience severe injury due to being crushed or maimed by the tractor.   Much of the injury farmers experience due to tractor rollover accident can be associated with the lack of rollover protective structures.  A survey states that more than half of trailers in use on farms do not have rollover protective structures.  While newer tractors often come with a rollover protective structures some workers have removed the structure. A rollbar or rollover protective structure has been shown to do much reduce fatalities. The rollover protective structure works best when a seatbelt is also used. This prevents the person from being ejected into the path of the falling tractor.  Many farm accidents can be prevented with proper machinery design, guards, education and/or adequate safety warnings.

Some rollover protective structures have been removed by laborers without the farm owners knowledge.  At times, the removal is simply due to personal preference.  The device may have been removed to allow the tractor fit into a field or building with low clearings.  Others purchase tractors without these structures as they believe they and their workers ‘know how to operate a trailer.’ These protective structures are often sold as an optional item at the time of purchase.  Since tractor trailers are quite expensive, many farm owners do not purchase this item to save money.

Other tractor accidents may not involve design defect.  Tractor rollover accident may also be due to poor hitching or using the tractor on an incline that is too steep.  Additionally, excessive speed, holes in a roadway or field, or the tractor striking another object may all result in a tractor accident or tractor rollover.

Tractor accidents and fatalities may also result when a tractor strikes nearby bystanders.

Victims of tractor accidents includes family members who have lost a loved one. An injured person may not only have physical injuries but also significant financial problems while they recuperate from their injury.  Some injuries are so severe a person cannot return to their physical labor on the farm and they may sustain a long term wage loss.

Farm owners have a due diligence to ensure the safety of their employees.  As a result, farmhand and agricultural workers injured on the job have certain rights for compensation.  These rights to compensation may include both a workers’ compensation claim and potentially a lawsuit against other third parties  including but not limited to the owner, equipment designer and/or manufacturer.  A claim against a third party would require evidence of failure to warn of a danger, evidence of a design defect or a disabled safety feature.  Claims like this often require a lawyer  hire experts that can examine the tractor and experts who can reconstruct the accident or who are experts of safety.  The hiring of experts can be costly and a person seeking the aid of an attorney will want to make sure the lawyer they chose have the funds to cover the costs of these experts.

The Law Offices of Edward A. Smith encourages those injured in these types of accidents not to allow the insurance companies to bully them into a settlement offer that is unfair and that will not compensate them properly.

I have represented many hardworking Californians in the agriculture community.  I know that recovering from your injuries may be taking a lot of your time, energy and resources but it is imperative that you use some time and energy in finding a tractor accident attorney that will protect your rights.  Whether you need assistance with the workers’ compensation claim or wish to pursue a tractor accident claim against a responsible third party, my office can be of assistance to you.

My staff and I have been protecting the rights of injured Californians for more than 30 years.  Combined my staff has hundreds of years of experience in personal injury, premises liability, manufacture defect and wrongful death claims.  Please call me, Edward Smith, at (916)921-6400 or (800)404-5400 if you would like to discuss your matter.  We can discuss this in person or on the phone. If you are unable to come to us, we can come to you!

You can learn more about us by reading reviews found on Yelp, Google, and Avvo.

 

 

Photo Attribution  for the Tractor Photo above: Mary and Angus Hogg [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

chain.saw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chainsaw injuries can be fatal.

Chainsaws are extremely dangerous tools and require no license or formal training to own one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 36,000 people are injured by chainsaws annually. The most common injuries associated with chainsaws are to the head, upper body, arms, hands, leg and foot.

Chainsaw “kick-back” is the most serious risk of chainsaw use. It occurs when the teeth of the chain saw get caught on something causing the blade to forcefully kickback toward you injuring your eyes, face, head, neck, shoulder, hand and other parts of your body.

Tools of any kind should be used with caution. Always read the owner’s manual thoroughly and follow the manufacture’s operating instructions. Before using a chainsaw, it is recommended that you take a chain saw operation and safety course.

Chainsaw injuries can be minimized by wearing protective clothing and safety gear.  Some common safety gear to wear includes:

Leather chaps

Boots with steel toe

Gloves

Eye protection

Hearing protection

Hard hat

If you own a chainsaw, before you even think of using it, check the Consumer Protection Safety Commission site for any recalls on the type of chainsaw you have.

For chainsaw safety, see the US department of labor chain saw safety chart.

Most chainsaw injuries are preventable. And in some cases, an accident may actually be the result of the negligence of another. If you or a loved one has sustained chain saw injuries, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the chainsaw accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith for a free consultation at (9160 921-6400 or toll free at 1-800-404-5400. www.autoaccident.com.  You can find more about our office on Yelp and Avvo.

If any of us have been to a resort or beach location, we can’t help but feel drawn to watch or participate in parasailing.  For most participants, parasailing is a once in a lifetime event that remains a cherished happy memory.  Sadly, for hundreds of people each year parasailing has resulted in accidents causing severe injury, trauma and even death. Parasailing injuries tend to include traumatic brain injury, contusions, and broken bones.

Surprisingly parasailing safety standards, even in the United States, are not well regulated.  Parasailing safety standards abroad are nearly non-existent.  Additionally, regulations regarding the equipment and/or the paragliding operators  remain largely unregulated.  This had led to each parasailing business operator to set up their own standards of safety.

Of the parasailing accidents that have occurred in the United States alone, most of the reported accidents involved the body harness.  The body harness is strapped on in such a way that it is a useful ally when above water keeping the person firmly attached to the parasail.  However, drownings, choking and other injuries can occur once the person hits the water.  The harness which keeps the person attached to the parasail is very difficult to remove while in the water. This is especially so if the victim is confused or has just suffered a severe impact to the body or head or who experienced an expected crash into the ocean.  The Parasail Safety Council itself pleads for parasail operators to change the current use of the body harness used by most parasail operators to a safer device known as the gondola.

Overuse of parasailing equipment has led some of the harnesses and/or ropes to become frayed or otherwise weaken. This has resulted in the drop of a participant from a high altitude and  at a high speed.  Additionally, the rope, harnesses and other equipment used may not only be overused but the equipment loses integrity due to the daily exposure to sunrays and salt water.  While the most common culprit in parasailing accidents are related to the body harness and/or  rope used, other equipment that can prove faulty include maintenance issues with the boat being used to tow the participants, and/or may be due to the  bolts, latches, hitches, or the parachute/parasail used.  The manner in which the operator drives the boat may also play a role in an accident.  Weather may also be a contributing factor in a parasail/parachute accident.

Other parasailing accidents have occurred when boat operators have allowed the participants to fly to close to nearby buildings.  Parasailing accidents have also had tragic results when the parasailing operators misjudge the winds causing the participant to veer off the planned course.  A highly publicized collision that put two high school girls in critical condition occurred in  Florida when the operators misjudged the winds causing the girls to collide into nearby buildings.

The Parasail Safety Council believes that in the last 30 years approximately  130 million parasailing adventures have been had using a body harness attached to a parasail.  Of those 130 million trips, approximately 1,240 participants suffered minor injuries and 429 participants suffered severe injuries.  According to their statistics, 73 of the participants during this 30 year period sustained trauma resulting in immediate death. Of the 73 deaths, over 58 of these fatalities were attributed to the inability to remove themselves from the harness.  Approximately 10 of the fatalities were attributed to other equipment failure and 5 of the deaths remain unaccounted for.

I’m Ed Smith of the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith and have handled serious injury claims and wrongful death claims for thirty years.  If you or a loved one has been a victim of a parasailing or parachute accident or other tourist injury, please contact one of our experienced attorney at 800-404-5400. Please feel free to look at our track record of success.  A consultation with our office does not require any obligation on your part.  If you do choose us as your attorney we promise that we will never take a fee unless we win your case.  I encourage everyone to look at what past clients are say about their experiences with any potential law firm. I encourage you to do the same with my office.  Reviews can be found on Google, Yelp and Avvo.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Summer quickly approaching, we will start to see a lot of jet skis and wave runners on the Sacramento River and lakes in the region. Accidents involving watercraft can cause significant injuries or death. The U.S. Coast Guard reported that in 2013 there were 426 accidents involving watercraft in CA alone and over 4000 injuries nationwide. Additional statistics can be found here.  The primary injuries sustained in watercraft accidents are broken bones, lacerations, scrapes, and concussion.

Most jet ski and wave runner accidents occur due to inexperienced boaters, reckless driving, speed, alcohol use, lack of experience and training.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a jet ski accident, we recommend you contact an experienced jet ski personal injury attorney. In California, if you were injured in a jet ski accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages including pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Edward A Smith has over 30 years of experience handling jet ski accidents.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a jet ski, waverunner or boating accident, call the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith at (916) 921-6400.  If you are outside the Sacramento area, you can call us at (800) 404-5400 for a free consultation. www.autoaccident.com. Reviews of our office can be found on Yelp and Avvo.

 

 

forklift

Forklift accidents are a major cause of workforce injuries, especially in industrial warehouses.  We will examine some of the major causes of forklift-related accidents and injuries and discuss how to prevent them.

Preventing Tip-Overs

A forklift, especially when loaded, can be top-heavy.  An inexperienced or inattentive driver can make a move that results in the heavy vehicle to begin to tip.  When that occurs, many drivers respond with an instinctual reaction to jump from the truck.  This scenario is one of the leading causes of significant forklift-related injuries.  The forklift, which can weigh several tons, or some part of the forklift can land on the driver who has jumped from the truck.  This often results in severe injuries or death.

Several precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of forklift tip-over:

  • Turn at low speed and maintain that low speed throughout the entire turn.  The steering wheel should be rotated smoothly and slowly.
  • During operation, lower the forks and keep them tilted back to increase load stability.  Heavy loads that are angled too far forward or backward can cause the truck to tip.
  • Strictly adhere to the maximum capacity load of the forks, established by the manufacturer.
  • Do not move unstable loads.
  • Move awkwardly shaped loads more slowly and cautiously.

Employee training should not be complete without assessing the ability of the new driver to avoid tipping.

Monitor Employees and Enforce Responsible Behavior

Some people find forklifts fun to drive and cannot help but to engage in horseplay.  Any fooling around in the vicinity of heavy equipment should be immediately addressed by administration. The forklift driver must understand that by driving irresponsibly they are putting themselves and others – co-workers or pedestrians – at risk.

The nature of a forklift is that it is heavy and frequently unstable. Even very experienced drivers can make mistakes.  If a driver is not treating the machinery with respect and is operating it unsafely, he or she should be reported and disciplined.

Safeguard Co-Workers and Pedestrians

The forklift driver bears the same responsibility as other drivers – avoiding pedestrians, who always are given the right-of-way.  The driver is responsible for avoiding a pedestrian even if that person is directly in the path of the forklift.

In order to avoid pedestrians and co-workers – who are likely not always paying attention – the forklift driver must constantly look in the direction in which the truck is moving and if he encounters any intersections or blind spots, the policy of honking the horn should be strictly enforced.  A forklift driver must always make the assumption that people surrounding the vehicle are not paying attention.

Even if the forks are empty, employees should be strictly advised to never walk beneath them when they are raised.  Do not allow an employee to hold or position a load while the forklift is moving, as this is extremely dangerous.

Although the driver is ultimately responsible, all employees that work in an environment that uses forklifts should be given training in forklift safety, with periodic refresher meetings.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney with the most comprehensive and informative information on the web at www.AutoAccident.com.

If you or someone you love has been in a forklift accident, call me (916) 921-6400, or (800) 404-5400 if you are outside of the Sacramento area, for free, friendly advice.

Find out more about our office by reading our reviews on  Yelp or Avvo.

 

 

A tragic intersection accident in Stockton today took the life of a person in an SUV and injured the driver of the SUV and several

firefighters.

Police are investigating the cause of this fire truck accident  and hopefully traffic cameras near the scene will shed light on what

happened.

Although the circumstances of this fire truck intersection accident are presently unknown, fire truck accidents in intersections

are common.

When the occur, they happen with devastating force and consequences as can be seen above.

A recent Google  search of “emergency vehicle intersection collisions” showed almost 900,000 results so you can see

such accidents are far more common than suspected.

A driver approaching an intersection must have whats known as “perception of presence”..that is, he or she must be aware

either visually or audibly that the emergency vehicle is approaching.

In evaluating fault in Intersection Fire truck accident, the training of the operator of the fire vehicle is a keen focus

of a truck injury attorney.

The driver of the fire truck should have been trained not to rely on any warning devices such as lights or siren, to clear

oncoming traffic.

They need to be watchful approaching the intersection, to evaluate if other vehicles are making way.

The cadence of the siren is supposed to be changed

Eye contact with the other driver should be made.

There are safety videos available teaching firefighters how to approach intersections. They should be part of basic training of

any fire truck driver.

I’m Ed Smith, a Trucking Accident Lawyer practicing in Stockton and Sacramento since 1982. My website, AutoAccident.com

is the leading informational  site for truck accidents in California. Please call me anytime at 800-404-5400 or 916-921-6400 in

Sacramento for free, friendly advice.

We’re proud of our firm’s ratings on Yelp and Avvo.

 

LighningStorm

Falling trees or tree limbs have sadly resulted in severe debilitating injuries and even death.  An injured party has the right to seek compensation for their damages, pain and suffering, wage loss, future wage loss, necessary and reasonable medical expenses, anticipated future expenses, mental anguish and past or future impairment of ability to enjoy life.  Compensation can be collected from the responsible party.  However, from time to time, the party we believe to be responsible for the claim may deny liability of the damages caused by the falling-tree stating the fallen tree was an ‘Act of God.’

The definition of an Act of God varies. Court rulings clarify the legal use of this argument.  For the most part, an Act of God defense must demonstrate that the circumstance was so abnormal and unusual in nature that no human assistance or human influence would have changed the event.  An Act of God defense must demonstrate that the falling tree could not have been prevented by ordinary human foresight.

An Act of God defense in regards to falling-tree or limb cases may be alleged by the defendant (the responsible party) in severe weather related conditions such as a hurricane or tornado. In such cases, they may prevail.

The Act of God defense may also be alleged in weather related conditions such as lightning, storms or wind squalls.  The facts of these cases involving the condition of the tree will be crucial in determining liability.

In cases with weather complications, it must be proven that the fallen tree is determined to have been decayed, rotted or otherwise unsafe prior to the weather related incident.  If the court has evidence of this than the court may deem the fallen tree as being ‘defective’ or ‘dangerous’ irregardless of the weather.  This would result in a positive ruling for the injured person.  If the defect in the tree is determined to exist before the weather related incident than the weather related “Act of God” claim may be considered irrelevant to the court.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney, practicing for more than 30 years.  If you need assistance in pursuing a claim due to injures or death from a fallen tree or tree limb, I would be happy to review your case and represent you in your claim.

I have handled many injury related falling tree claims and understand the complexities involved in these types of cases.  Please contact me via phone (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.  To learn more about how my past clients feel about their experience with our office, you can see what people are saying about my office on Yelp, Google and Avvo.

Photo Attribution: Catalin.Fatu at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

By J.smith (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sacramento is known to be a City of Trees.  In fact, Sacramento is a city with the most trees per capita in the world. Most Sacramento dwellers find our beautiful trees, fall foliage and spring blossoms to be aesthetically pleasing.  From time to time however, our beautiful trees can become ‘dangerous’ during times of adverse weather conditions. Trees can also become ‘dangerous’ as a result of neglect in the care of a tree or due to a tree being decayed, rotted or dead.   Death, injury or damage to person or property has occurred due to fallen trees or fallen tree limbs.

To determine who is at fault for the injury or damage due to the fallen tree or fallen tree limb, the location of the tree needs to be taken into consideration.

In this blog, we will discuss trees near public streets, sidewalks or ways.  Some of these trees are cared for by a governmental agency and/or are located on public property.  To determine who is responsible for the damages, it needs to be determined who owns the property – state, city or county.  Additionally, it needs to be determined if the tree (even if located on private property) is cared for by a local municipality, the state or another government agency such as Caltrans – an agency that cares for public highway and streets.

The injured party and their lawyer will need to prove that the governmental authority had jurisdiction and control over the tree in questions and that the governmental agency had both the authority and duty to trim or remove the tree for the public safety. It will also need to be established that the governmental agency had notice or should have known the condition of the tree constituted a hazard to persons or property in its vicinity.  Below are some cases that demonstrate the Courts ruling on liability in these types of cases.

In Harris v East Hills (1975) a large limb from a silver maple tree fell onto the roof of the car passing below.  This rendered the driver a quadriplegic with injuries requiring medical care for the rest of his life.  In this case, the court ruled that while the governmental agency did not receive actual notice of the condition of the tree in question, a simple visual inspection of the tree demonstrated tree rot so extensive that the decay (an obvious large cavity in the trunk) would have been visually evident at least four to five years prior to the accident.  In this case the court ruled that the governmental agency was at fault for the injuries and damages that ensued for their not conducting a reasonable inspection of the tree.

If evidence exist that the governmental agency had in fact conducted diligent inspections and can produce evidence of such this may sway the court in the matter of liability. In the case of Lewis v State Dept of Transportation (1995) a vehicle collided with a falling tree.  The collision caused the car to spin out of control eventually landing in a large pond.  This caused one of the female passengers to sustain a large gash to the face requiring surgical intervention.  In this case, the court ruled that the evidence indicated that the records from the highway maintenance superintendent had conducted regular inspections of the area for hazardous conditions including an inspection of the trees.  While the court did not question that the tree that fell causing injury was in fact ‘dead’ the court felt that since the lower portion of the tree appeared ‘alive’ and dead limbs were obscured by the foliage created by nearby two continuous trees they ruled the State was not liable since they demonstrated they were diligent in inspecting the sight for hazardous conditions and this incident was not attributable to negligence on the state.

It should be mentioned that claims against a governmental agency, a city or state usually falls under claims that must be filed on immediately.  If a claim is not filed within six months from the date of injury a person can be barred from forever pursuing compensation for the resulting injury to person or property.  Since time is of the essence, contact a personal injury lawyer to assist you in this matter.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney, practicing for more than 30 years.  If you need assistance in pursuing a claim due to injures or death from a fallen tree or tree limb, I would be happy to review your case and represent you in your claim.

I have handled many injury claims due to fallen trees and limbs and understand the complexities involved in these types of cases.  Please contact me via phone (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.  To learn more about how my past clients feel about their experience with our office, you can see what people are saying about my office on Yelp, Google and Avvo.

Photo Attribution: By J.smith (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons