Dec 03 by Ralph L. Jacobson

The Death of a Defendant in a Civil Case – Can You Still Seek Damages?

A typical personal injury claim against an individual defendant resolves in one of two ways: (1) settlement with the defendant, or (more commonly) his or her insurer, either before or during litigation; or (2) collection of a judgment post-trial. By definition, the second scenario requires the filing of a lawsuit by the plaintiff. Frequently, the…

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Jun 10 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Hiring a Contingency Fee Attorney in California? Know your Rights!

What is a Contingency Fee? Contingency fee contracts (contracts in which a fee is payable to an attorney only if a sum is recovered for the client from someone else) are common in California, particularly for personal injury and related cases. These contracts serve a valuable purpose: they permit injured persons to pursue litigation against…

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Feb 03 by Ralph L. Jacobson

The ‘rescue doctrine’ in California: whose fault counts?

As common law doctrines evolve, sometimes their rationale, and proper application, can get lost; that can be because of just one “less than thoughtful” reported appellate decision. One example is an appellate decision in the 1990s limiting the application of the “rescue doctrine” in California. Five years afterwards, another court took a more serious look…

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Nov 12 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Seeking punitive damages in California drunk driving accident cases

In motor vehicle personal injury or wrongful death cases where the responsible driver was allegedly intoxicated, the injured plaintiff may want to consider seeking an award of punitive (or exemplary) damages against that driver. While the defendant’s insurer bears no obligation to pay such damages, sometimes the presence of such a claim can create a…

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Aug 24 by Ralph L. Jacobson

California’s doctrine of primary assumption of the risk: what, when, and how far?

California’s “primary assumption of the risk” doctrine was first set forth in Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal.4th 296. That case involved a plaintiff’s claim for personal injuries sustained when the defendant knocked her over and stepped on her finger while they were playing touch football. At issue was how the courts should apply the…

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May 12 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Further thoughts on liability and compensation issues for ‘self-driving’ cars

In a recent blog article, we suggested that the preferential tool for dealing with insurance, liability and compensation issues arising from the use of driverless cars would be one most in tune with, and least disruptive of, the civil justice system’s current operation. We noted that one way to implement that goal would be an…

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Apr 06 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Baby, you can drive my “self-driving” car: but what if it hits somebody?

photo credit: 2420 via photopin (license) It is clear that the object of romantic interest in the Beatles’ song never anticipated a self-driving (“autonomous”) car; but as that technology gets closer to becoming a commercial reality, minds are starting to boggle about the insurance and tort liability implications. A recent Wall Street Journal article1 opines…

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