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Top 40 Under 40 President Stephen Burg obtains $146K verdict for rear-end collision victim

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National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 President Stephen Burg secured a verdict plus interest and costs of $146,000 for the victim of a rear end collision in Colorado. Burg says his client, David Jimenez-Santana was driving his pickup truck and was rear-ended by the defendant, Robert Baker in December 2014 in Grand Junction. Although there was no visible physical damage to the plaintiff’s truck, the plaintiff was injured. The plaintiff had a prior worker’s compensation back injury to the same area injured. Burg reports Jimenez-Santana sustained a disc injury at L4-5, and had to undergo a discectomy at the L4-5. Burg says the verdict plus interest and costs was $146,532.67 and 18 times greater than the $7,500 defense offer. The verdict was handed down on June 8, 2018. Burg tried the case along with David Crough of Burg Simpson before Judge Kenneth Plotz. Burg is also a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100.

Case Name: David Jimenez-Santana v. Robert Baker

Case number: 17 CV 30484

Case Type: Jury Verdict

Verdict for: Plaintiff

Verdict Date: 06/08/2018

Amount: $83,788.76

Best offer from defense:$7,500

Area of Law: Personal Injury

Court: Grand Junction, Colorado



J&J’s Talc Appeal – Lack of Scientific Evidence and Jurisdiction Argument

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Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the $4.69 billion verdict to 22 women and their families, arguing insufficient scientific proof and jurisdiction.

St. Louis, MOJohnson & Johnson plans to appeal the $4.69 billion verdict awarded on July 12 to 22 women and their families who alleged that ovarian cancer cases was caused by asbestos in the company’s baby powder, and that J&J failed to warn that its talcum powder raised the risk of ovarian cancer. Experts say that J&J will argue the verdict based on insufficient scientific evidence and jurisdiction. And this asbestos-talc case is one of about 9,000 that J&J is facing.

The Science Argument

Plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Lanier successfully combined two theories in one case: he showed a connection between ovarian cancer and talc and that asbestos could cause something other than mesothelioma with regard to talc.

The Asbestos-Talc Theory

Plaintiffs, during this and former talc trials, have presented
studies and researchdating back to the 1970s showing that talcum powder contained asbestos and was linked to ovarian cancer. And women who developed ovarian cancer used J&J’s baby powder in the years when asbestos was an ingredient in talc. “There’s a lot of debate over whether the ovarian cancer is caused by the exposure to the talc, versus any other event, but it’s 100 percent certain that asbestos causes ovarian cancer,” said attorney Wendy Fleishman, whose firm is also representing plaintiffs. She also pointed out that earlier ovarian talc cancer lawsuits declined to bring cases on behalf of women over the age of 70 “because the overall increased cancer risk borne by women of that age made it difficult to clearly specify what caused their disease. The asbestos theory gives those plaintiffs a way forward, she said.

J&J said its scientific studies show talc itself is safe and never contained asbestos. Company spokesperson Carol Goodrich said that the company would pursue all available appellate remedies. J&J further stated that it has successfully overturned previous talc verdicts on technical legal grounds.

Reuters (July 12, 2018) reported that the FDA commissioned a study of various talc samples from 2009 to 2010, including J&J’s Baby Powder. No asbestos was found in any of the talc samples, the agency said. Lanier, however, told jurors during the trial that the agency and other laboratories and J&J have used flawed testing methods that did not allow for the proper detection of asbestos fibers.

The Jurisdiction Argument

J&J will also use jurisdiction to appeal this verdict. Because most of the 22 plaintiffs were not Missouri residents, the company will argue that they should not have been allowed to sue in St. Louis under a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that severely restricted state courts’ jurisdiction over injury lawsuits brought by non-residents against out-of-state companies. It had previously overturned talc verdicts in Missouri based on that decision.

But plaintiff’s attorney Mark Lanier countered, saying his team has “hundreds of pages of evidence” showing lobbying efforts and baby powder focus groups J&J conducted in the state. He added that 15 of his non-resident clients used a specific J&J talc-based product manufactured by Missouri-based contractor, according to Courtroom View Network. Elizabeth Burch, a law professor at the University of Georgia, said that even under the new Supreme Court guidance, the women’s claim that they used the specific product, if true, provided “a pretty strong link to Missouri.”

Failure to Warn

On Courtroom View Network, Lanier said that, “For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products.” He told the jury during closing arguments that evidence shows how J&J had covered up testing data and scientific studies that it knew showed talc in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower contained asbestos.

In last year’s talc lawsuit, Echeverria said “decades of documents demonstrated that J&J knew of the ovarian cancer risk posed by genital use of talcum powder, and remained intimately involved in suppressing information relating to the link. Citing a 1964 document in which a manager of the company noted that talc “of course” was not “found to be absorbed safely in the vagina,” Echeverria argued that J&J should have been warning women ever since. The case is Elisha Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson et al., number B286283 in the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District.

Unlike its competitors, Johnson & Johnson has not put a warning label on its talc, arguing that “such a label would be confusing, because although the company regularly expresses sympathy for these women, it vehemently denies that its powder has anything to do with their ovarian cancer,” according to CNN.
For instance, Assured’s Shower & Bath Absorbent Body Powder says that it is “intended for external use only” and adds, “Frequent application of talcum powder in the female genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.”

This latest case is Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number 1522-CC10417, in the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri.

Will the New Asbestos Regulation Put the Public at Risk?

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Critics and Consumer Groups say that, by enacting the “Significant New Use Rule” or SNUR the EPA has made it easier for companies to begin using asbestos again.

Washington, DCThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has enacted a new rule to purportedly strengthen oversight on asbestos: it will review applications for using asbestos in consumer products. But the agency’s critics and consumer groups argue that this rule makes it easier for asbestos to be used in consumer products, from construction materials to plastic bags.

Consumer groups say that, rather than the EPA “toughening oversight” it should be looking at ways to ban asbestos entirely, like almost every other country on the planet has done. Even people at the EPA have objections to this rule. The New York Times (Aug 10, 2018) reported conflict between upper management and EPA scientists: In an internal email, Sharon Cooperstein, an E.P.A. policy analyst, said “The new approach raises significant concerns about the potential health impacts,” and, along with a veteran E.P.A. scientist and a longtime agency attorney, said “the proposal as designed left open the possibility that businesses could start using asbestos in some cases without getting the government’s assessment, putting the public at risk.”

SNUR: Significant New Use Rule

On June 1, the EPA enacted a “Significant New Use Rule, commonly known as SNUR. It is intended to block industry from initiating new uses of a toxic substance such as asbestos without notifying the EPA, which could then regulate or deny those requests.

Donald Trump and Asbestos Industry

Bill Walsh, board president of the environmental advocacy group Healthy Building Network is also critical of this new regulation. He told Fast Company that “The Trump administration rewrote the rules to be dramatically less protective of human health … experts who have looked at [Snur] have said that in the end, it pretty much gives EPA discretion to do whatever it wants…The EPA’s failure to further regulate asbestos continues to provide a green light for its continued use in the U.S., even as it has been curtailed overseas.”

Asbestos Environmental Pollution

The Healthy Building Network (HBN) warns that the continued use of mercury and asbestos in the supply chain of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and other chlorine-based products, is a source of environmental pollution. HBN surveyed the 86 largest chlor-alkali and 56 largest PVC plants in the Americas, Europe and Africa and found that 32 chlor-alkali plants still use mercury and/or asbestos to produce chlorine. Chlorine-based production is responsible for some 300 tons of asbestos waste a year in the US, it said.

In the past, HBN and other not-for-profit organizations have tried to ban asbestos use from the chlor-alkali industry, which is the only industry in the US to still use asbestos—it imports 480 tons of asbestos annually. Walsh says that “Most of that chlorine is used to make plastics, and the largest single use of chlorine is for PVC or vinyl plastics,” which is found in many building materials, from pipes to tiles to flooring, and more.
The New York Times reported that the EPA has significantly narrowed the way it evaluates the risk of potentially harmful chemical substances, signaling a win for the powerful chemical lobby. According to the Times, the agency’s new report of evaluating risk details “how it would no longer consider the effect or presence of substances in the air, ground, or water in its risk assessments—effectively turning a blind eye to improper disposal, contamination, emissions, and other long-term environmental and health risks associated with chemical products, including those derived from asbestos.”

Asbestos Mesothelioma

Karen Selby is a registered nurse and patient advocate for the Mesothelioma Center. She told that the EPA’s “seemingly more relaxed approach to asbestos” is concerning. She is seeing more young women and children diagnosed with mesothelioma who have “no idea how early or when they were exposed to asbestos.” Mesothelioma can develop when asbestos fibers are inhaled and once a fiber is lodged on the lung, it could potentially cause scarring or cancer. “Anyone is subjected to it,” Selby added. Asbestos kills at least 12,000 to 15,000 Americans a year, states Asbestos Nation, and approximately 107,000 people worldwide die each year because of asbestos-related diseases, according to the World Health Organization.

NTL member Jonathan Pope gets $1.7M verdict for wreck victim

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National Trial Lawyers member Jonathan Pope has secured a $1,706,000 verdict for a Georgia woman injured when a driver struck her car after running a red light on Halloween in 2014. According to Pope, his client Donna Harry was injured when Marica Matasic ran a red light driving about 45 mph and crashed into the driver’s side door of her vehicle. Harry suffered injury to her arm, hand, neck, and back. Despite surgery, Harry suffered a permanent injury to her dominant arm and hand resulting in pain, numbness and weakness in her wrist, hand, and fingers. Harry’s past medical expenses were approximately $45,000 and she had future medical expenses of approximately $125,000 for neck surgery. Matasic claimed she was driving in an unfamiliar area, she was late, and she was distracted by her phone and ran a red-light traveling 45 mph. The accident happened on October 31, 2014. The verdict was handed down on May 10, 2018. The case was tried before Judge Pamela South in Gwinnett County state court.


IVC Filters May Increase 30-Day Death Rate in Certain Patients

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A new study found certain patients may be more likely to die within 30 days of receiving an IVC filter.

Researchers reviewed medical records of 126,000 patients. They found an increased mortality rate for patients with two conditions.

These were people with venous thromboembolic (VTE) disease and those who cannot take blood thinners. VTE includes deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism or both.

The researchers adjusted for several factors. Afterwards, they found an 18 percent increase in the risk of death within 30-days. Their study appears in JAMA Network Open.

IVC filters are cage-like devices. They prevent blood clots from reaching the heart or lungs. Surgeons place the devices in the inferior vena cava (IVC), the largest vein in the body.

Thousands of people have filed lawsuits over the devices. The suits claim people suffered serious injuries from the devices.


Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay nearly $4.7B in talcum powder case

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Jurors in St. Louis awarded nearly $4.7 billion in damages on Thursday in a suit that claimed Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused 22 women to get ovarian cancer, including six women who died.

Jurors awarded $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages, report the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs expect the defense to file a motion to reduce the award because state law restricts punitive damages to five times the amount of compensatory damages, according to the Post-Dispatch.

A female juror, who did not want her name used, told the Post-Dispatch that jurors arrived at the punitive damages amount by multiplying the figure Johnson & Johnson earns each year for selling baby powder by the 43 years that the company has denied the product contained asbestos.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mark Lanier, told jurors in opening arguments that Johnson & Johnson had “rigged the tests” to hide that its baby powder contained asbestos, the National Law Journal reported in June. He said the company should have replaced talcum powder with corn starch, which would be safer but less profitable.

Johnson & Johnson’s lawyer, Peter Bicks of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, had argued that many studies and government regulators had found no link between baby powder and ovarian cancer. He said Johnson & Johnson doesn’t want asbestos in its talc and it has been careful to make sure it wasn’t in the product.

Defense lawyers had sought to dismiss 17 of the plaintiffs who lived outside Missouri, citing the Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California. The decision said California courts did not have specific jurisdiction to hear the claims of nonresidents in a Plavix class action when those plaintiffs didn’t buy or ingest the drug in the state.

Judge Rex Burlison rejected the defense request because the plaintiffs had shown a Missouri connection, partly because a talc company that worked with J&J had a plant in Missouri, according to the National Law Journal.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said it is “deeply disappointed in the verdict” and it plans to “pursue all available appellate remedies.”

The statement said the verdict “was the product of a fundamentally unfair process that allowed plaintiffs to present a group of 22 women, most of whom had no connection to Missouri, in a single case all alleging that they developed ovarian cancer. The result of the verdict, which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding.

“Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed.”


NTL Top 40 Under 40 President Stephen Burg obtains $1.3M verdict for motorcycle accident victim

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National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 President Stephen Burg secured a $1.3 million verdict for a Colorado motorcyclist injured in a 2014 collision. According to Burg, the plaintiff was riding his motorcycle eastbound on Highlands Ranch Parkway in Highlands Ranch, Colorado on August 16, 2014. At the same time and place the defendant was driving west on Highlands Ranch Parkway. The defendant turned left directly in front of the plaintiff’s motorcycle. The front of the plaintiff’s motorcycle collided with the passenger side of the defendant’s vehicle. Burg says his client suffered a broken nose, separated shoulder, non-displaced fracture of the tibia, non-displaced fracture of the patella, as well as $10,000 in lost wages. Plaintiff had a left shoulder scope surgery and left knee scope surgery. Burg handled the case along with attorney David Crough of Burg Simpson before Judge David Stevens. Burg says the defense’s best pre-trial offer was  $265,000. The verdict plus interest and costs was $1,668,365.80, and was handed down on May 24, 2018.

Case Name: Moon v. Gooden

Case number: 16 CV 30907

Case Type: Jury Verdict

Verdict for: Plaintiff

Verdict Date: 5/24/2018

Amount: $1,300,000.00

Best offer from defense:$265,000

Area of Law: Personal Injury

Court: Douglas County, Colorado



Talcum Powder Lawsuits: $117M Verdict Upheld, $55M Verdict Tossed

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Johnson & Johnson will not have to pay $55 million in a talcum powder and ovarian cancer lawsuit. But the company is still on the hook for a $117 million verdict in a talcum powder and mesothelioma lawsuit.

A judge last week upheld the $117 million jury award against Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, Imerys Tal America Inc. The award was the first mesothelioma verdict involving Johnson & Johnson consumer products. It was also the largest mesothelioma award involving cosmetic talc.

At the same time, a Missouri appeals court overturned the $55 million ovarian cancer verdict on jurisdictional grounds. The court cited a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited where lawsuits can be brought.

The cases are among the growing number of talcum powder lawsuits. Some people are suing because they developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos in cosmetic talc products. Thousands of other lawsuits involve women who blame talcum powder for their ovarian cancer.


Takata Airbag Recall Heating Up

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The risk of a recalled Takata airbag eruption increases as the temperature climbs, but millions of vehicles with faulty airbags, including many Honda vehicles with airbag recalls (one of the most urgent threats), are rolling on.

Los Angeles, CAThe chances of a defective Takata airbag exploding and firing metal shards at you, even in a minor fender bender, increase with rising temperatures. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says many people driving unsafe cars, including Honda, Ford and Mazda, haven’t grasped the recall’s urgency.

Southern California Airbag Recall

Hot summer temperatures in southern states exacerbate the airbag defect. In San Fernando valley an outreach campaign is underway to encourage drivers with airbag recalls to get them replaced. Organizers with Airbag Recall: Operation Find & Fix, estimated that more than 2.5 million vehicles in California alone with recalled airbags have not yet been repaired. According to City News Service, recall-check events and other outreach efforts are planned to urge vehicle owners to get the bags replaced. “Tens of thousands of San Fernando Valley residents are still driving vehicles with defective airbag inflators,” said Christian Rubalcava, president of the Sylmar Neighborhood Council. “I urge all Southern Californians, regardless of what you drive, to check you and your family’s vehicles at You could save a life.”

Heidi King, NHTSA deputy administrator, told CNS that the urgency of having the recalled airbags replaced “cannot be overstated…This recall is an important public safety issue for all Americans, but it is especially critical for drivers in Southern California, where prolonged exposure to heat and humidity exacerbates the defect,” King said.

South Florida Airbag Recall

More than 450,000 vehicles with airbag recalls are yet to be fixed in South Florida. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that three deaths in the state are related to schrapnel exploding from Takata airbags and Florida’s hot and humid weather increased the risk of malfunction. The NHTSA online fact sheet states that exposure to these weather conditions over time can cause metal parts inside the airbags to explode and send metal shrapnel parts slicing into car occupants.

Mexico Honda Airbag Recall

Honda de Mexico said that it has replaced more than 300,000 defective Takata airbag inflators. While this number represents half of the potentially affected vehicles in Mexico, the company is urging drivers of Honda and Acura models to take their vehicles to the dealership where technicians will check the serial number (VIN) to identify whether their airbag has been recalled.

Takata Airbag Inflator Shortage

“Manufacturers need to do more to help people understand how deadly these airbags are. But at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to get your car fixed right away, if it’s got one of these defective Takata airbags,” said David Friedman, the Consumers Union policy director. No matter where you live, judging from such organizations as above and government departments, it seems like motorists are to blame for being lackadaisical. While there are statistics on the number of recalled vehicles and how many Takata inflators have been replaced, however, it’s not clear how many people have attempted to get their airbags replaced, only to find that the dealership has come up short. How many frustrated people like Delores Griffin have been waiting for a replacement?

The news program 5 On Your Side said that Griffin has been waiting since July 2016 to get her airbags fixed. Ford sent her a warning letter in December, 2017 saying that drivers should not allow anybody to sit in the passenger’s seat until parts are available and repairs can be made. But that is where she sits because getting in and out of the back seat is “a serious struggle.” Griffin called the dealership to get her Takata airbag replaced – as of last week, no parts.

Honda Ranks Most Urgent Threat on U.S. Gulf Coast

At least 15 people, including three people from Southern California have been killed by defective airbags. Experts say that, of the 19 automakers included in the recall, select 2001-2003 Hondas and Acuras, 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks, “pose the most urgent threat and are unsafe to drive.” Going back to 2015, cars and trucks from the 2008 model year or older that were originally sold or registered in high humidity areas along the U.S. Gulf Coast are getting top priority for repairs. Honda is the highest risk of all automakers, with nine models designated as having the potential from Takata airbag inflators to explode with too much force. Honda’s Acura luxury brand on the high-risk list date to the 2001 model year. Fiat Chrysler is runner-up with seven models.

Incorrect Honda Airbag Installations

To make matters worse for some owners, Honda is recalling 492 vehicles to replace front passenger airbag inflators because they may not have been installed correctly during a previous Takata airbag recall. Some dealership technicians apparently installed the replacement airbags in such a way that they may not deploy at all in a crash. Honda is sending out yet another round of recall notices to owners that begin this month.

Honda Airbags Black Market

Perhaps a lack of Honda airbag replacements is to account for airbag theft. Earlier this year, ABC7 reported that Honda airbag larcenies “have been on the rise in the City of Alexandria over the last several weeks”, and last year another community was hit by a rash of Honda airbag thefts.

More than 20 million Takata airbags are expected to be added to the already 50 million that have been recalled. More than 26 million airbags still need to be replaced.


Unlicensed Drivers Cause Two Recent California Car Accidents in One Week

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Underage drivers were responsible for two crashes in Santa Clara County, resulting in one fatality and critical injuries

San Jose, CAOn May 20, 2018, an Acura TL driven by a 16-year-old unlicensed driver jumped a curb on Highway 101, and skidded down an embankment before it was struck by another vehicle, killing a teen passenger. One week later, on Memorial Day, a stolen car driven by a 13-year-old was fleeing San Jose police when it collided with another vehicle in a head on crash, critically injuring one passenger and harming four others. California is notorious for its high rate of uninsured drivers, resulting in a large number of California car accidents. Accidents with an uninsured driver can result in the uncertainty of whether one’s injuries and property damage will be compensated, and if so, how?

Out of all fifty states, California ranks twelfth highest for its rate uninsured drivers. 15.2 percent of drivers on California’s roads are estimated to be uninsured, as measured by the rate of uninsured motorist claims compared to bodily injury claim frequencies. And according to the CDC, although teens represent only about 7 percent of the population in the United States, they account for a disproportionately high percentage of costs of motor vehicle injuries (at 11 percent, roughly $10 billion dollars every year).

In the May 20th accident, it is unclear why the Acura jumped the curb, but its driver did not have a license. A 19-year-old passenger riding in the Acura was killed, after being struck by a Toyota Camry driven by a 69-year-old San Jose man. Following the accident, a white van crashed into one of the vehicles strewn on the road, then swerved, hitting another car. The driver of the white van was intoxicated at the time. California auto accident law provides that anyone injured in a car accident caused by someone’s negligence (texting while driving, or driving while intoxicated) can recover monetary compensation for medical bills (past and future), property damage, lost wages, earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

In the Memorial Day accident, after police attempted a routine traffic stop, the suspect car packed with young teen drivers took off. San Jose police decided not to chase the car, which they had identified as stolen, in an effort to protect the public. Nevertheless, the car full of fleeing teens hit a Ford C-Max that was making a left hand turn in its path. The teen passengers attempted to flee the scene, but the 13-year-old driver was trapped in the vehicle and sustained critical injuries. These accidents occurred in the midst of a juvenile crime wave in Santa Clara County.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in California

California auto accident law requires all drivers to be bear responsibility for property damage or bodily injury that occurs as a result of a car accident on a public road. This is usually satisfied by carrying car insurance, which is necessary to register your car with the Department of Motor Vehicles in California. But not every driver abides by this law—in California your odds of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver are more than double what they would be in New York, and four times as high as they would be in Maine.

When involved in a car accident, everyone knows to get the insurance information and contact information of the other drivers involved in the accident. But what happens if it’s a hit-and-run accident, or an accident with an uninsured or unlicensed driver? Nearly every car insurance policy sold in the state of California includes uninsured motorist coverage. This is because insurance companies are required to include this type of coverage, unless explicitly opted out of in writing by the policyholder.

What Happens If You’re Involved in a California Car Crash with an Uninsured Driver?

If you are involved in any type of car accident, seek immediate medical attention. Sometimes, injuries can take weeks or even months to manifest, so get treatment even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. It is essential that you document your claim, and get prompt treatment to ensure a speedy recovery and avoid complications. At the time of the accident, take photos of the scene, and all the other vehicles involved. Get the contact information of other drivers and passengers involved in the accident, and also from any bystander witnesses. File a police report. It doesn’t hurt to keep a journal of your feelings and observations. Update your journal over time to document the improvement (or worsening) of your injuries, and include photos of your injuries taken every few days.

It is also important to contact an experienced California car crash lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. It is an insurance adjuster’s job to pay out as little as possible, so you need an experienced lawyer in your corner, fighting to hold the negligent parties accountable and get you the compensation you are entitled to under California auto accident law. There is also a statute of limitations for filing a claim for car accidents in California, so it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to preserve your right to file a claim.