The current headlines around sexual harassment claims will undoubtedly have an impact on the traditional office party. Companies will scrutinize and most likely curtail past practices such as serving alcohol, having risqué themes and mixing too much fun with business.
Homeowners will similarly look at the parties they host and perhaps be more wary of how people act, especially when alcohol, food and family dynamics converge.
Company and home parties offer a variety of potential liabilities that could turn the atmosphere from cheer to tears.
In California, all company-sponsored events fall within the scope of employment as they serve to boost the company’s image among employees. Serving alcohol at company parties can have serious consequences. In California, under the McCarty case, an employee’s drinking may fall within the course and scope of employment when (1) the consumption is allowed by the employer, and (2) the consumption is either a customary incident of employment or it benefits the employer. (McCarty v. Workmen’s Comp. Appeals Bd. (1974) 12 Cal.3d 677.) In the 2013 case of Purton v. Marriott Int’l, the California Supreme Court found that if alcohol consumption is the proximate cause of the injury, and the consumption occurred within the scope of employment, liability may be imposed. (Purton v. Marriott Int’l (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 499.)
For those who find themselves injured at a company or home party, contact our office.
However we want you to have a safe and enjoyable time with co-workers, friends and family, so here are some tips on avoiding injury during this Holiday Season:
- Limit the alcohol consumption to manageable levels. While many people like to have their libations at the holiday party, it’s not a time to re-create the toga parties from one’s college days. Excessive alcohol consumption simply leads to increased problems and potential hazards. In addition, social media means what happens at the company party will be available for the world to see. Also remember that not everyone likes to drink, so making everyone feel comfortable will lead to more cheer. Having options for designated drivers and rides home is advised.
- Do away with the tradition of mistletoe. Encouraging unwanted advances is always bad policy, especially at work.
- Know who is coming into your home and keep an eye out for unsavory behavior.
- If you are hosting a party, make sure walkways are free from ice and debris, clearly lit and easy to navigate.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention offers the following 12 “Ways to Health” for this Holiday Season:
Wash your hands often
- Stay warm
- Manage stress
- Travel safely
- Be smoke-free
- Get check-ups and vaccinations
- Watch the kids
- Prevent injuries
- Handle and prepare food safely
- Eat healthy and be active
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my friends, family and clients.
Please call my office should you need any advice or help this Holiday Season. Thank you for your confidence and your business!
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As California cities and counties grapple with the implications of the passage of Proposition 64 last year, which legalizes the use of marijuana by adults, California and the Federal government continue to be at odds regarding the legality of marijuana use both recreationally and for medical purposes. Both the City of Bakersfield and the County of Kern are currently pursuing a ban on the sale and distribution of marijuana. In the meantime, law enforcement agencies are wrestling with the enforcement of impaired driving as a result of marijuana use.
The Kern County District Attorney’s office stated recently in a Bakersfield Californian article that they will continue to aggressively pursue cases of driving while impaired, including cases involving marijuana. The fact is that while California may have approved the recreational use of marijuana through Prop. 64, the possession and use of marijuana remain illegal under federal law. In addition, it is illegal, even in California, to use marijuana in a motorized vehicle.
Unlike alcohol, there is not currently an accepted test that can measure the level of marijuana in an impaired driver’s system. As a result, law enforcement relies on drug awareness training and field sobriety tests to assess impairment.
The chances of marijuana being a factor in motor vehicle accidents is staggering. The District Attorney’s office stated recently that the majority (70%) of samples screened for drugs by the Kern County Regional Crime Lab tested positive for the active ingredient (THC) in marijuana.
With marijuana so pervasive in our communities, individuals should know they are liable for accidents caused while under the influence of marijuana. Consider this scenario:
Peter uses marijuana at home and decides to head to the local market to pick up some items for dinner. On the way he becomes distracted due to his impairment, and slams into a car waiting for a red light causing serious injuries to the man and woman on their way home from a show. Peter would likely face criminal charges related to his impairment due to marijuana as well as a possible lawsuit by the couple for the injuries that Peter caused through his negligence. Even though marijuana is legal in California, Peter failed to act with the same level of care and caution as a reasonable person and therefore could be held liable.
Federal and state data in Colorado have shown the number of drivers in fatal crashes in Colorado have risen sharply since marijuana was approved in 2012, more than doubling over the past three years.
Marijuana use can contribute to negligence in other ways such as carelessness in operating equipment, operating non-motorized vehicles or even improper supervision of children. Regardless of whether someone is “legally” high, its use can be seen as a significant cause of negligent behavior.
Individuals who have been victims of negligence may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that are awarded to compensate individuals for direct monetary loss such as lost wages, medical bills, etc. Non-economic damages are those that may be awarded to compensate for pain and suffering, reduction in quality of life and other factors. In some rare cases, punitive damages could be awarded to prevent similar behavior in the future, such as if a defendant has multiple convictions for driving while impaired.
Please call my office if you have suffered due to negligence from an impaired driver or if you have experienced a personal injury through no fault of your own.
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In January 2017, the National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation class action settlement became final. The Plaintiffs claimed that retired NFL players had experienced head trauma during their careers, that the NFL was aware of the risks of repetitive head trauma yet failed to warn players about the risks and that the NFL conspired to ignore and conceal evidence about the risks. The case rose to the supreme court, which upheld the settlement in December 2016.
Settlement Class Members will receive the following benefits from the litigation:
- Baseline Assessment Program – provides baseline neuropsychological and neurological examinations and additional medical testing and counseling
- Monetary awards for diagnoses of Death with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and other brain and neurological illnesses
- Education Programs promoting safety and injury prevention for youth and other football players
Concussions and head injuries are a risk in many sports, not just football. Fortunately the quality sports programs are taking this issue seriously and improving the protections for athletes. As new technologies become available and the education increases, programs will continue to make sports safer.
There are many ways to help reduce the risk of a concussion or serious brain injury, including:
- Starting with our youngest children, ensure that children travel in a proper car seat / booster seat that is properly installed. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death in minor children; yet having kids properly restrained reduces serious and fatal accidents by 50%.
- Utilize gates at the top of stairs to prevent infants and toddlers from falling.
- Frequent safe playgrounds that have considered safety. Playgrounds with soft-fill instead of hard dirt, surfaces that remain cool in the summer, surfaces that are age-appropriate should be considered.
- Insist that children wear helmets that are the right helmet for the activity they are engaged in. While there is no “concussion-proof” helmet, they will help reduce the risk of serious brain injury or skull fractures. Riding bikes, skateboards and scooters are all activities that should necessitate a helmet.
Sports and physical activity are vital to a healthy life in youth and adults. Physical activity helps provide a variety of health benefits. In fact, an Aspen Institute study of existing data and research found that physical activity is associated with reduced risk of 13 different types of cancer. Adolescents who play sports are eight times as likely to be physically active at age 24 compared to those who do not play sports, and high school athletes are more likely than non-athletes to attend college.
All of us can also insist on a creating a safe sports culture to help ensure that our young athletes grow up respecting the importance of safety. A safe sports culture includes:
- Reinforcing the importance of safety from day one and being consistent in focusing on safety with athletes and parents;
- Developing a concussion prevention plan with clear steps and expectations;
- Setting the expectation that athletes will support each other if sitting out of a game is required;
- Getting written instructions from doctors on an athlete’s ability to return to play;
- Calling out unsafe actions or play;
Played safely, sports bring communities together and develop the drive, determination and focus on teamwork that is necessary to be successful throughout life.
Know what to look for in a safe sports program. Understand what you can do at home to keep kids safe and prevent serious brain injuries. If you have experienced trauma through sports or negligent behavior or conditions, please call my office for a consultation.
Bakersfield doesn’t get a lot of rain, which makes car accidents more likely to happen when the streets get wet. You may need a car accident lawyer to help you receive payments that cover your injury and time lost at work, no matter how an accident happens.
Car Accident Lawyer Tips
We recommend taking steps to avoid causing an accident before wet weather happens. Pay attention to the following:
- Tires – Low tread or balding tires make traction difficult on slippery roads. Spend the time to have a professional check your tires for tread and also for inflation. Over- or under-inflated tires are also dangerous.
- Brakes – Brake pads require regular changes to remain effective. Also, if you’re driving on wet roads, don’t ‘hit the brakes’ hard. Tap the brakes to stop and avoid a skid.
- Headlights – Over time, headlights lose effectiveness due to a cloudy film on the headlight protector. See if you need to clean your headlights for brightest effect in the dark or on a cloudy, gray
- Windshield wipers – We tend to forget about windshield wipers until we need them. Your wipers must do a good job of removing water consistently without streaks. Not being able to see well may cause an accident.
When it does rain, be ready. It takes longer to stop on a wet road, and drivers in Bakersfield don’t always understand those conditions.
Five ways to avoid an accident on wet streets:
- Leave plenty of time to get where you’re going – The last thing you want is to be in a rush when driving in bad weather. You need more time in case of delays due to accidents and/or you need to slow down in water that pools in the road. Driving faster also increases chances of losing control of the car.
- Pay attention – It’s never a good idea to drive with distractions. But in wet weather, a text, phone call, eating, drinking, or other activities can be deadly.
- Avoid lanes with deep water – Side lanes may fill up with water that causes the car to hydroplane. While this may seem unlikely in Bakersfield, it is common in other markets where you may drive. Make an effort to drive in the driest lane possible.
- Keep a wider distance – Wet conditions create longer stop times, even with good tires and brakes. You need 2-3 times more distance to stop, so don’t tailgate.
- Keep control – If your car does skid on wet or icy roads, steer in the direction that the car is sliding. Slamming on the brakes makes a skid worse. However, with anti-lock brakes, a steady pressure is good. If the car starts to hydroplane (loses traction with the road), then gently ease off of the accelerator and steer straight ahead until the car is under control.
If you’re in a car accident because someone runs into you and you’re injured, talk with a car accident lawyer to understand how your bills and losses will be paid. We have experience working with victims of all types of car accidents.
The Law Offices of Kyle Jones recently reached a settlement of a 7 figure medical malpractice suit for their client. It’s ALWAYS important for you to have a patient advocate by your side and stay on top of your medical treatments.