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Auto Accidents

Successful Results Achieved in
Over 15,000 Auto Accident Cases

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Motorcycle Accidents

Largest Motorcycle Accident Injury Verdicts
in San Luis Obispo County

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Truck Accidents

Even Professional Drivers Can Cause an Accident

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California Accident Injury Trial Lawyers

Here’s How to Make a Disaster Preparedness Plan for Your Family

If you live in northern California, you know about the constant news coverage of wildfires throughout the state. Recently, the raging Delta fire has scorched several northern California neighborhoods and cities, and the fires have closed down multiple sections of Interstate 5. It’s very important that you have a preparation plan in case you need to pick up and evacuate.

8 Key Components to Have in Your Disaster Preparedness Plan

The Red Cross Foundation has a complete disaster preparedness plan template that you can download and fill out. Fill this out with your whole family present so everybody is on the same page and knows what their responsibilities are.

  1. Determine what disasters are most likely to affect your family and your home. Right now, the most prevalent disaster is a wildfire, but discuss with your family how your plans would change in case of a flood, earthquake, or other event.
  2. Figure out escape routes from your home. It’s important to know the safest way you and your family will be able to leave your house during a disaster. Also, decide on a meeting place outside of your house and neighborhood that you will be evacuating to, and the route to get there.
  3. If separated, where will everyone meet? Pick a nearby and easy-to-access location or area that you and your family can meet at in case everyone is separated during an emergency.
  4. Write down emergency contact information. If there is no cell phone service or family members are unable to communicate with each other, everyone should know and memorize an emergency contact outside of the immediate area.
  5. Know where children will be evacuated. You can’t always be with your children, and if your kids are at school, daycare, or an after school event when a disaster strikes, everyone should know where they will be evacuating to (include an address and contact information).
  6. Have a detailed plan for people in the house with a disability or special needs. Write down the name(s) and a detailed plan to determine how these family members will be helped during an emergency.
  7. Is there a safe room? If it is too dangerous to leave the house, you should have an accessible and safe room with sealed windows, vents and doors.
  8. Allocate family responsibilities. Create or fill out a chart that outlines all tasks and descriptions with the family member who is responsible. Tasks can include stocking and grabbing the disaster kit, staying informed with the media and online, and accessing important medical and pet information.

Please follow our website for future safety tips, and if you have any further questions about wildfire liability, call our office at James McKiernan Lawyers today.

How Can San Luis Obispo Residents Drive Carefully During Harvest Season?

A 59-year-old man was killed late August when a farm tractor-trailer struck his Chevrolet Silverado east of Interstate 5. The truck had hit the farm implement from behind which caused the driver to lose control and drive into the northbound lanes, hitting a semi-trailer head on. After the fatal accident, the Modesto Area CHP issued an official warning to drivers about the dangers of sharing the road with farm equipment.

How Can I Avoid an Accident with Harvest Vehicles?

Late summer is peak harvest season, which means there will be a guaranteed increase of harvest vehicles and equipment on the road. In order to help avoid another deadly accident, drivers in the area should:

  • Keep a safe distance. Many harvest vehicles are very large and bulky, which means they can obstruct your view if you are driving directly behind them or next to them. To be safe, drive 15-20 feet behind and away from these vehicles so you can have a better and faster reaction time. Tools and other equipment can also sometimes fly off and hit your vehicle, which is another reason to stay away.
  • Drive with caution. Defensive driving is key when you are driving near a harvest vehicle on the highway. Keep both hands on your steering wheel, don’t be distracted by your cell phone or any other electronic device, and have your eyes on the road ahead.
  • Look out for warning signs and lights. Many farmers will place signs and lights on their vehicles in order to warn nearby drivers of their presence. These could include reflective signage, marking lights or written placards that help drivers be aware.

If you have been involved in an auto accident, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney for more information. Contact James McKiernan Lawyers today for a free consultation.

Who Is Liable in a Car Accident with an Autonomous Vehicle?

The new technology associated with autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles has raised some legal questions among curious drivers. Is the driver or the vehicle responsible for a self-driving accident? Companies such as Uber and Toyota have withdrawn their autonomous vehicle fleets after pedestrian accidents involving vehicles in autonomous driving mode resulted in fatalities. Car manufacturers and technology companies such as Tesla and GM plan on testing self-driving vehicles with the hopes of automating the trucking and ridesharing industries, but the subject of liability still remains a debate.

Understanding Self-Driving Car Accident Liability

Many self-driving vehicles that are currently on the road require a human driver to still be inside. This human presence is what raises the complication of liability during accidents. In car accidents that involve a self-driving car, finding out liability actually works the same way with any other sort of car accident. The same questions need to be brought up, such as:

  • Which vehicle had the right-of-way?
  • Was a traffic law violated?
  • Were there multiple parties involved in the fault for the accident?

However, in self-driving accidents, the question of whether the driver of that car or the car manufacturer is responsible exists as a separate concern. If the accident involved a commercial vehicle, such as the pedestrian accident with Uber, the company’s insurance policy would take liability if the company’s driver or car was found to be at fault.

In non-commercial situations, however, insurance companies and injury courts will need more information, such as whether or not the AV mode was activated in the right location, if there was a software or manufacturing defect, or if the driver could have reasonably intervened to prevent the accident.

If you have been injured in an accident involving an autonomous or self-driving vehicle, the legal process of filing an injury claim can get difficult. Contact a San Luis Obispo personal injury attorney at James McKiernan Lawyers today for more information.

Should Commercial Vehicles Be Equipped with Automated Driving Systems?

You have probably heard about automated driving systems that are being installed in self-driving, or autonomous, vehicles. Automated driving systems, or ADS, were designed to improve safety in all types of vehicles and to prevent serious accidents to occur. The U.S. Department of Transportation has played a huge role in improving ADS technology, and one of the most recent advancements has been with commercial vehicles.

Why Should Commercial Vehicles Have ADS Technology?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for providing and regulating safety management for motor carriers that operate commercial motor vehicles, or CMVs. CMVs can include trucks, buses or other transportation vehicles.

In July 2018, the FMCSA announced a public listening session where they discussed information on issues involving the design, testing, development and integration of ADS-equipped CMVs in the country. Specifically, the session related to the safety integration of ADS into CMVs and how it will prevent  accidents and injuries.

ADS technology would help decrease accidents and injuries involving CMVs by:

  • Designing the vehicles to maneuver the roadways safely.
  • Installing safety sensors that will alert the vehicle to stop in front of pedestrians, other motorists, and environmental hazards.
  • Producing alerts over potential software errors.
  • Increasing safety reliability

If you would like to know more about new safety regulations that can help reduce car accidents, stay updated on our website. Contact our James McKiernan Lawyers today if you would like a free consultation.

What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents During the Summer?

Summer is an exciting time for teenagers and adults to celebrate the summer holidays and take roads trips. Unfortunately, with this increase in traffic comes an increased risk of car accidents, especially for inexperienced teenage drivers. There are several factors that contribute to this period of dangerous driving for teens, also known as the 100 Deadliest Days of Driving. If you plan on being out and about,  you should know about the causes of car accidents during the summer in order to protect you and your family on the road.

What Are the Main Causes of Summer Car Accidents?

  • More teenagers driving. Since school is officially out by June in almost all states, teenagers are hitting the streets and driving on busy roads. Teenagers are inexperienced drivers, and an increase in inexperienced drivers results in more car accidents. All drivers should be aware of this risk, and parents of high schoolers should keep their children educated on the dangers of drunk and reckless driving.
  • More tourists on the road. Summer means an influx of vacationers, which means that there are extra people on the streets headed to their destinations. Tourists tend to drive slower and take sudden turns and maneuvers.
  • Construction hazards and re-routes. Since construction is harder to accomplish during the harsh winter weather, road maintenance tends to occur more often in the summer. Construction sites pose a hazard both to the workers and nearby drivers, and they also lead to more traffic.
  • More cyclists and motorcyclists. Warmer weather welcomes cyclists and motorcyclists to the streets, but these other vehicles can catch drivers off guard and even cause more congestion.
  • Extreme heat. Dehydration can lead to road rage and overheating of engines can lead to sudden accidents and stalls on the road. Prepare your car ahead of a long journey, especially if you will be travelling during the day.
  • Tire blowouts. Hot roads can severely wear down your tires and over-expand them, resulting in tire flats and blowouts in the middle of your drive. Check your tire pressure regularly so you can be better prepared.

If you were involved in a car accident this summer and you were injured, you should contact James McKiernan Lawyers today.

What Does My Home Insurance Policy Cover?

As a working adult, you’re probably aware of the importance of insurance and keeping all of your property safe. Car insurance, life insurance, and health insurance are pretty straightforward when it comes to knowing how you’ll be covered. However, many people might not understand the importance of home insurance as well. If you have recently purchased a home, you should know why home insurance is valuable in protecting you and your family.

Why Is Home Insurance Essential?

  • Minimum hazard coverage: Many mortgage lenders will require homebuyers to purchase a base level, “hazard” or “homeowner’s” insurance, or HOI. HOIs will provide coverage for property damage resulting from fire, wind, hail, theft or any other sort of similar damage.
  • Multiple lines of protection: Sometimes the base level of your HOI will only provide coverage for your home itself and not include other personal property protection. It’s important that as a new homebuyer you explore your options and buy insurance that covers multiple lines of damage and/or liability.
  • Liability coverage: Many standard HOI policies will provide liability coverage. This includes protection for personal liability to others that occurs on your property. Liability insurance will be extremely useful in order to protect against any injury claims from construction workers, trespassers, or other people who accidentally got hurt.
  • Personal property insurance: When purchasing a separate personal property insurance policy (if your HOI policy doesn’t include this type of coverage) you should make a list of personal property inventory. Personal property coverage will be especially useful in the case of a natural disaster or theft.

You can’t predict a natural disaster or some other unfortunate experience that may occur and damage your property. Home insurance is crucial if you have real and personal property that you would like to ensure will be safe in case of any damages or injuries. Contact our real estate lawyers at James McKiernan Lawyers today if someone has been injured on your property and wants to file a claim.

How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property?

There are many different methods of protection when it comes to tangible, or real property. There are a wide variety of insurance policies and other forms of protection coverage for your home, car, or other property. You might be wondering if there are forms of protection for intangible property. Intellectual property is a form of property that can include intangible creations, such as inventions, designs, or any other abstract findings. If you have an idea for the creation of intellectual property, it’s important that you know the three methods of protection to keep your idea safe and legally protected.

What Are the Forms of Protection for Intellectual Property?

  • Copyright: This is a tangible document of your legal rights to protect your intellectual property. If you copyright your creation, you will be protecting your right to sue infringers and can collect damages and attorney’s fees if you ever file a lawsuit. Any books, paintings, music, sculptures, films, computer programs, advertisements, or maps should be copyrighted.
  • Trademark: Registering your intellectual property under a trademark will simply give proper legitimacy to your product. Trademarks help distinguish your good or service of one enterprise from any other enterprise.
  • Patent: A patent gives you an exclusive right to an invention, which is defined as a good or service that provides a new way of doing something or offers a new solution to a problem. In order to receive a patent, you must provide technical information about your product or service to the public.

What Else Can I Do to Protect My Intellectual Property?

Besides registering your product or service under the appropriate IP protection, there are a few other things you can do to make sure your creation is protected from infringement. You can also:

  • Receive foreign registration: If you plan to sell or provide your creation oversees, it will be important for you to register it abroad.
  • Keep it a secret: In general, you should limit the people you speak to about your intellectual property until you know it is fully legally protected.
  • Oversee your marketplace: Keep an eye on your industry in case your IP protection misses something. Pay attention to new products and companies, watch out for Internet searches and alerts, and investigate any products that are similar to yours.

If you believe that your intellectual property has experienced infringement, you should take legal action as soon as possible. Contact our business dispute attorneys at James McKiernan Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.

Common Property Issues Encountered in Apartment Living

There is a big difference between living in an apartment and living in a house. If you have experienced living in both of these real estate options, then you know that apartment living has some unique problems that can be challenging to solve. There are multiple parties involved in apartment disputes, like landlords, property managers, tenants, repairmen, and more. This complicates disputes even further, because each party involved in an apartment-related issue may be seeking different solutions. There are a few common complaints, however, that can happen in almost any apartment dispute.

  • Deposit refund issues: Unfortunately, landlords will sometimes attempt to collect and keep a tenant’s deposits and refuse to distribute a refund. This type of complaint can also include charges against deposits and any other related deposit disputes.
  • Bed bug/other pest infestations: Bed bug complaints are related to improper care and treatment of an apartment. Pest control is extremely important for an apartment’s maintenance, but it can sometimes be overlooked by property managers and landlords.
  • Apartment repairs and maintenance: One of the most common complaints from tenants are neglected repairs. These repair problems can include broken appliances, carpeting, roofing, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and more.
  • Noise complaints: After quiet hours, tenants may raise complaints of excessive noise on their apartment floor or from their neighbors. Since walls can be thin in apartment buildings and units share walls, it can be expected for a tenant to be more sensitive to noises outside their units.
  • Health and safety hazards: This is directly related to having apartment repairs that require fixing, so it’s important to know the health consequences of these neglected issues. Some examples may include damaged flooring, gas leaks, unsafe appliances, broken smoke alarms, and more.
  • Breach of contract/agreement: There can also be a complaint referring to violations of lease agreements or apartment tenant’s rights or laws that were included in an agreement.

Our real estate litigation attorneys are well-versed in the real estate laws associated with your apartment dispute. Contact James McKiernan Lawyers today for a free consultation.

What’s the Difference Between a Living Trust and a Living Will?

During your estate planning process, you might come across a few new terms that you had previously never heard of. Two options that your attorney might present to you during the estate planning process are living wills and living trusts. There are key differences between these two choices, and it’s important that you know these differences in order to make the right decision for your estate plans.

How Are Living Trusts and Wills Different?

Living trusts and wills both allow you to name the beneficiaries for your property and belongings, but other than this similarity, they are used for very different reasons. A living trust is the number one way to avoid probate after your death, which is a big advantage because your beneficiary can transfer property quicker to the inheritors, all without involving the probate court. For many people, living trusts are a good option if you want to save your family time and money; however, not everyone needs a living trust, and that will depend on how wealthy you are, if you’re married, your age, etc. A living will might be a good option for you if you’d like a simpler method, and if you want some additional advantages. For example, a living trust might help you avoid probate, but it won’t allow you to name an executor or the guardians for your children like a will permits. Living wills generally give you more freedom and will help you be more detailed in your plan; even though it has to go through the probate court, you’ll know that everything you want to happen will be properly addressed.

How Do I Know Which to Choose?

First, weigh the pros and cons of each option, and depending on your personal and financial circumstances, make the right decision for you and your family. Our San Luis Obispo lawyers can help you through this entire process, and we will advise you on the right decision for your specific estate planning. Contact us today for a free consultation with our estate planning attorney.

How To Protect Your Home Against Wildfires

For families living in California, life can currently seem pretty dangerous. Your home, specifically, can be at risk when it comes to wildfires. Wildfires and forest fires can spread very quickly and can put your home, and family, in danger if you’re not prepared. Thankfully, there are a few ways to reduce your home’s flammability and prepare for any other future wildfires to keep your family safe. The three most important factors in protecting your home are knowing your location, eliminating flammable materials in your home, and ensuring defensible space.

Geography is extremely important; this refers to where in California your neighborhood is located and where your house is located on the landscape. Mountainous regions of California are the most likely regions to suffer from quick spreading wildfires; this is because of the wind tunnels and dry grass surrounding these neighborhoods. Building your home on a steep slope surrounded by wild lands will put your property at the highest risk.

The next factor is making sure to get rid of flammable objects and features in your home. These things could include nail polish remover, aerosol cans, open gasoline containers, and hand sanitizer, among others. One of the main hazards that can increase your home’s flammability is having open and wind-blown embers, specifically from fireplaces. You can install ember resistant vents, Class A Roofing, or just remove flammable materials from the proximity of open fires to prevent embers from causing problems.

The last factor in keeping your home safe from fires is having adequate defensible space. This means having enough cover around your house in order to reduce structure loss in case of a massive fire. One hundred feet is usually enough, and within that range, make sure there’s no excess vegetation hanging or touching your structure.

The San Luis Obispo property damage lawyers at James McKiernan will work at uncovering the cost of your home’s damage, establishing liability and defending you in court, if needed.

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