Bakersfield’s Walk Like MADD – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – raises $57,000 to fight impaired driving in Kern County

September 29, 2021 | 11:28 am


Hundreds of crash victims, family members and friends, law enforcement officers and first responders, community leaders, and supporters came together Sept. 25 at the Park at River Walk to walk, run, and call for an end to impaired driving crashes in Kern County.

In the process, the eighth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – raised more than $57,000 for local educational programs and prevention services, and to support local crash victims. The event was help in-person this year after a virtual ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even during the pandemic, impaired driving crashes continue to tear apart the lives of local residents at record rates in our community,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “Kern County came together Saturday with three goals in mind: to remember victims, to inspire change, and to commit to a future of ‘No More Victims’.”

Our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. And during this pandemic, fatal crash rates have spiked, with speeding, lower seatbelt use, and impaired driving to blame.

At the state level, the “MADD Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving” calls for high-visibility law enforcement, ignition interlocks or in-car breathalyzers for all convicted drunk drivers, and support for the development of advanced technology.

Bakersfield’s Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, Assemblyman Vince Fong, and others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by Capital Dental Group, a timed 5K run, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runners in their respective age categories, and as well to top fundraisers. They were:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Punjabi Golf Association of Bakersfield
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: RoseMary Wahl
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Valley Strong Credit Union
  • Overall 5K Winners: Emma Mann and Troy Guess

Presented by the local law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the event was also supported this year by Chevron, Valley Strong Credit Union, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., Helping HART (Hit-and-Run Tragedies), STEPS Inc., and others. Since the first Bakersfield Walk Like MADD in 2014, thousands of local residents have made their voices heard while raising nearly $500,000 for MADD Kern County.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board and regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and law firm marketing director is the planning committee chairman for the annual. Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash. For its work has been recognized and honored on several occasions:

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.
  • Matt Clark received the “Pursuit of Justice Award” during Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s 2019 “Tie One On for Safety” Gala Awards. The event annually recognizes supporters of MADD Southern California – the regional area for MADD Kern County – which also includes Los Angeles and San Diego chapters.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

Local family hoping to spare others the heartache of fatal hit-and-run crashes, help victims and law enforcement

September 15, 2021 | 9:20 am


In the shadow of a hit-and-run tragedy, one local family is hoping to spare others the same grief they felt while helping victims, supporting law enforcement, and honoring their own loved one.

Dawn Elliott knows firsthand what it’s like to lose someone to a hit-and-run crash — her mother Deborah Ann Geneau was killed last year in Bakersfield. And she doesn’t want to see anyone one else to be affected. She and her husband started Helping HART (Hit-and-Run Tragedies), which aims to raise awareness of these crimes, help hit-and-run victims and their families, and help fund law enforcement by providing much-needed resources.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to support the cause by sponsoring  this nonprofit organization. The law firm also represents the family of Geneau, as well as other local hit-and-run victims, and knows too well the devastation caused by hit-and-run drivers.

 

THE CRASH

Stephanie Heninger was arrested and pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and hit-and-run charges connected to the July 22 crash near CSU Bakersfield. The family of Deborah Geneau and Bakersfield law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles had offered a reward to $7,500 for the person who helped identify the driver of a 2013-2019 dark gray Nissan Sentra that was suspected of causing the crash on Stockdale Highway near Don Hart Drive.

Police learned through GPS location data that Heninger had been at the scene of the crash, according to a probable cause declaration reported by KGET-17. Police also obtained a statement from Heninger confirming she was the driver who left the scene, according to reports. The vehicle in the incident was seized in Riverside County, Bakersfield Police reported. While police received several tips, police investigations ultimately led to the arrest. The court case is ongoing.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed lawsuits on behalf of the Geneau family against two other driver’s involved in the fatal crash. Both of those drivers were also speeding 10-15 mph above the 55 mph speed limit at the time of the collision, according to police.

At a press conference in July 2020 at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Debbie’s husband Rick Geneau and their daughter Dawn shared about their loss, and pleaded with the driver who caused the collision to turn him or herself in. Rick met Debbie met when they were both 14 years old. At the time of Debbie’s death, they had had been married for 45 years. Dawn Elliott told media she feels she’s had to take on her mother’s role and be the strength of the family during this time.

“You’ve not only taken my mom’s life, you’ve taken a piece of all of our lives.”

 

HELPING HART

Dawn and her husband Joe Elliott Jr. founded the nonprofit Helping HART just one year after the crash to honor mother and grandmother Deborah Geneau. And they’re not alone.

In 2019, the United States saw more than 2,000 fatalities due to hit-and-run crashes, according to national statistics provided on the Helping HART website.

“That means 2,005 people have been ripped away from the people who loved them,” the website states. “That is 2,005 men, women, grandparents, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends stolen away in a senseless act of cowardice.”

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, an average of one hit-and-run accident happens in the United States every minute.

“Everyone knows accidents happen, but people should not run from their mistakes by leaving the scene having no regard for doing the right thing,” according to Helping HART.

The nonprofit will offer assistance through home remodels or vehicle modifications to anyone who has developed handicaps as a result of hit-and-run crashes, and offer scholarships to children who lost a parent to a hit-and-run, Dawn Elliott told KGET-17 News.

“I will be able to continue doing things in memory of my mom,” Dawn told KGET. “Therefore, my mom is still with me. Helping me. Really neat that I get to work with my mom for the rest of my life.”

Anyone interested in supporting Helping HART can make a donation by visiting helpinghart.org or by emailing [email protected].

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney selected to 2021 Bakersfield Life Magazine’s “20 Under 40 People to Watch”

September 1, 2021 | 5:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Tanya D. Alsheikh has been selected as one of the 2021 “20 Under 40 People to Watch” in Bakersfield Life Magazine.

The magazine’s annual “20 Under 40 People to Watch” highlights outstanding young men and women whom Bakersfield can be proud of, who possess a hard work ethic, dedication, and a passion for volunteering.

“Bakersfield has always had an electric group of talent, from artists and musicians to lawyers and entrepreneurs. This year’s 20 Under 40 selections are no different,” the magazine stated in its introduction. “In this 2021 issue, we also celebrate the eighth year of recognizing 20 individuals who are rising stars in their professions and leaders in their places of business, as well as in the community. … (W)e are grateful to the class of 2021 — all their hard work and what they bring to the table.”

Alsheikh joined the law firm 5 years ago and focuses on accident, injury, and elder abuse cases. She was raised in Bakersfield and received her bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount, and her Juris Doctorate from University of San Diego School of Law. Tanya is involved in various activities at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Bakersfield. You can find her, for example, serving food at the annual Greek Food Festival, which benefits church and other community projects. She is also an Executive Board Member of the Bakersfield Christian High School Alumni Association. She is fluent in Arabic.

In the magazine’s editor’s note, Editor Shelby Parker writes: “Our 20 Under 40 selections have exemplary resumes and are making a difference in our community with their hearts and souls. They are leaders, business owners, givers, and change-makers … Those featured in this issue remind all of us, no matter what age you might be, no matter what you might have going on, that you can still go after your dreams and pursue your passions for what you really want in life.”

Alsheikh’s inclusion on the list now makes six people at the law firm who have been selected for this honor. And of the seven lawyers in the law firm, four of them have been selected. The six are:

The following profile was published in Bakersfield Life Magazine as part of the recognition

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Name: Tanya Alsheikh

Age: 30

Occupation/Business: Attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Hometown: Bakersfield

Tell us how you got into your field. Since I was pretty young — I’d say 10 years old or so, I decided I wanted to become a lawyer. When I was a freshman at Bakersfield Christian High School, I joined the debate team and automatically felt driven to learn how to properly research arguments and persuasively present them. I never really escaped that drive and I only became more passionate about my dream of becoming an attorney (despite my mom’s best efforts to convince me to become a doctor instead). I attended Loyola Marymount University, where I graduated a year early just so I could take that year to work at a law firm and verify that was the job environment I was looking for. After that year, I went straight to law school and never looked back or regretted it for one moment.

What is your “why?” (Why do you get out of bed every morning and do what you do?) It is extremely rewarding to wake up, walk into work, and know that I am really “standing up for the little guy.” I work on both personal injury and elder abuse/neglect cases. As one can reasonably expect, when someone is involved in an accident they become overwhelmed by all the paperwork the insurance companies start sending them and forget what is most important: getting better.

When I get involved in a case, I take away that element of stress associated with dealing with an insurance company. Insurance companies handle these claims daily and sometimes forget that there is an injured human being on the other end of the case and take advantage of that person. We allow the injured person to focus on his or her care and treatment, while we deal with the insurance company.

With respect to the elder abuse/neglect cases, we are representing elders or dependent adults who were entrusted into the care of nursing homes that took advantage of these people by receiving payment for services that were promised, but never provided. Sometimes, those failures end up resulting in very serious injuries, painful conditions requiring hospitalization, or death. We give a voice to a vulnerable population that can’t stand up for themselves. Honestly, when I’m describing the work we do, “rewarding” seems like such a small word.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Never lose track of your goals, but remember to be flexible. Face the challenges that come along the way head-on even if it leads you down a path you never expected to go.

What is the biggest challenge in the marketplace/business that you’ve overcome? I actually think this is a big obstacle all young attorneys face: being taken seriously as an attorney. When people think of lawyers, they usually think of someone who has the white hair to prove their level of knowledge and experience, but all those attorneys started out like me and there is no shame in being a young attorney. It was a matter of me making the conscious choice to feel comfortable and proud of the fact that I became an attorney at 25 years old, instead of trying to avoid the subject altogether.

What is your proudest achievement of your career thus far?

This is a tough one because it is hard to pinpoint just one specific instance.

Something I did not expect when I was starting my career is that the law is not always clear and sometimes the courts have not had any reason or opportunity to interpret that law. When you run into that situation, you feel like you’ve reached a total dead-end, but giving up is not an option. Every time I’m able to push through that feeling and find an answer or craft an argument despite the lack of case law is a time I feel accomplished.

What’s next for you in your career?

Continue to learn and grow. Regardless of your status as an associate or a partner, there is always something new to learn and I plan to push myself to the fullest extent to become as knowledgeable as I can to better serve my clients and community.

What advice would you give to other young professionals and entrepreneurs in Bakersfield? 

Don’t get discouraged or feel like you’re not successful because you ended up in a city like Bakersfield and not Los Angeles or New York. It is a lot easier to find opportunities for growth and the ability to have a real work-life balance in a place like Bakersfield than if you were in one of those big cities where you’re competing with thousands of people and your entire paycheck goes to your cost of living.

How do you hope to help improve Bakersfield, or bring to the community overall? 

I feel like Bakersfield really gets an undeserved reputation of being a terrible place to live, but in all reality, it has so much to offer that gets overlooked — whether it’s the cost of living or that small-town feel despite being a rather large city. I’m so happy to call it home. I am always on the lookout to give back to a city that has been my home for nearly 75 percent of my life. I love to get involved with organizations or groups that are looking to improve the city and provide a tangible reason for people to change their perception of the city. For instance, I was involved with The Innovation Lab, which is part of The Hub of Bakersfield — a team of individuals who work together to contribute to the betterment of downtown Bakersfield to make it a more desirable place to live and enjoy. Groups and organizations like that see the value that I do and what to share that with the community.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before starting your career? Loan forgiveness counts as income! (haha) and deadlines are everything and procrastination is not an option.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

MADD Kern County to host 8th annual ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

August 25, 2021 | 3:18 pm


For the eighth year, Kern County will come together on Saturday, Sept. 25, in the fight against impaired driving to proclaim, “No More Victims!”

Bakersfield’s Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — is Kern County’s chance to do something about drunk and drugged driving in our community. In what has become one of the largest fundraising walks and runs in town, the event brings together people from our community – surviving victims of crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, law enforcement, prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and community leaders and members – to march, rally and run for the cause.

Learn why local residents are participating in the “Why We Walk” video series at bit.ly/whywewalk2021.

Our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. And during this pandemic, fatal crash rates have spiked, with speeding, lower seatbelt use, and impaired driving to blame.

“Impaired driving continues to be one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries on our roadways, with devastating consequences for all involved, especially innocent bystanders,” said Carla Pearson, MADD Kern County’s victim services specialist. “Let’s all remember and remind our loved ones that these crashes are 100% preventable.”

Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has three main components:

  • Remember: We walk for those who no longer can and alongside those who are learning to walk again.
  • Inspire: We walk empowered even when we feel powerless, as survivors when we have been victimized, and with purpose when we have lost our way.
  • Commit: We walk with supporters who share our vision of No More Victims.

At the state level, the MADD Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving calls for high-visibility law enforcement, ignition interlocks or “in-car breathalyzers” for all convicted drunk drivers, and support for the development of advanced technology.

Funds raised in Kern County’s event funds local educational programs and prevention services, raises awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, and provides support to local victims and survivors of impaired driving crashes.

Presented by the local law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, it’s also supported this year by Chevron, Valley Strong Credit Union, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., and others. Since the first Bakersfield Walk Like MADD in 2014, thousands of local residents have made their voices heard while raising more than $400,000 for MADD Kern County.

  • When: 7-10am on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021
  • Where: Park at River Walk in Bakersfield
  • Packet Pick-Up: 3-7pm on Thursday, Sept. 23, at Action Sports (9500 Brimhall Road, #400)
  • Register / Information: walklikemadd.org/bakersfield

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board and regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and law firm marketing director is the planning committee chairman for the annual. Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash. For its work has been recognized and honored on several occasions:

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.
  • Matt Clark received the “Pursuit of Justice Award” during Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s 2019 “Tie One On for Safety” Gala Awards. The event annually recognizes supporters of MADD Southern California – the regional area for MADD Kern County – which also includes Los Angeles and San Diego chapters.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

Video Campaign Sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles Aims to Raise Awareness of Safety, Enjoyment of Bakersfield’s Kern River Parkway

May 5, 2021 | 5:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has helped launch a new video campaign focused on the safe use and enjoyment for all of Bakersfield’s Kern River Parkway — a paved trail over 30 miles long that runs from southwest to northwest Bakersfield used for recreational use and commuting.

The video campaign launched in conjunction with May’s “Bike Month”, an annual observation that showcases the many benefits of bicycling. Videos will be airing on local broadcast channels and throughout social media.

“We are all very lucky to have the Kern River Parkway in our community,” said Matt Clark, accident attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “As an avid cyclist, who has ridden all around our state, I can assure you that the Parkway is a rare and wonderful commodity. We encourage everyone to enjoy the path, and use it safely.”

The three videos highlight the rules of using the Parkway safely, how the entire family – adults with children and pets – can use the Parkway, and lastly, how the Parkway is “a trail to enjoy together,” as the campaign slogan states.

“Our community, unfortunately, has some of the highest rates of pedestrian and bicycle accidents in the state, and the nation,” said Asha Chandy, program manager at Bike Bakersfield. “We want everyone to be able to enjoy our trails, roadways, and other paths in Kern County. Let’s share the road safely.”

Bike Bakersfield has several events planned for Bike Month, which can be seen below and on bikebakersfield.org.

The video campaign is a partnership between three local organizations. Kern River Parkway Foundation works to protect, preserve, and restore the open area around the Kern River for the benefit of the citizens of Bakersfield and Kern County. Bike Bakersfield is a local bicycle advocacy nonprofit and bike kitchen. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is a Bakersfield-based accident and injury law firm, which annually gives out hundreds of bicycle lights, safety helmets, and participates in local safety campaigns. Mark Nessia is the campaign videographer.

The videos can be viewed on-demand at youtube.com/chaincohnstiles.

 

BIKE MONTH

Several groups are coming together this year to commemorate Kern County’s Bike Month.

Bike Bakersfield, Kern Council of Governments and Kern County Public Works are working with a coalition of active transportation partners for a month of events to get people out on two wheels, The Bakersfield Californian reports.

  • A kick-off celebration has local elected officials and bicycling clubs enjoy a ride of solidarity from Beach Park to the Liberty Bell.
  • On May 4, Bike Month celebrates a chance to support local organizations through Give Big Kern’s day of giving. Bike Bakersfield is collecting donations now through the big day.
  • A community swap meet will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 8 outside of Cafe Smitten, 909 18th St. Participants can set up their own table with their gear and parts to sell or trade. After the swap ends, there will be a community cruise through downtown.
  • On May 19 from 6 to 9 p.m., the Ride of Silence will be held, starting at Cafe Smitten. Sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the ride honors the lives lost to traffic violence, particularly those killed while bicycling on public roadways.
  • Whether you’re still working from home or headed to the office, you can participate in Bike to Work Day on May 21. From 6 to 9 a.m., Bike Bakersfield and Kern Wheelmen will set up along the Kern River Parkway with refreshments for those riding to work.
  • On May 22, an alley cat/on bike scavenger hunt will be held at 11 a.m. Not to be confused with the downtown bar, participants will meet at Bike Bakersfield’s shop, 1708 Chester Ave., to kick off a race to reach checkpoints in downtown Bakersfield and the Kern River Parkway leading to Snider’s Cyclery. At the finish line, winners will be announced and prizes will be awarded. Everyone wins with food and drinks from local vendors as well as a BMX and skate jam.
  • Finally a full moon ride rounds out the month on May 26. Starting at 7 p.m. at Beach Park, riders will enjoy a community sunset cruise down the Kern River Parkway to Lengthwise Brewing at The Marketplace, 9000 Ming Ave., T-1.

 

CRASH CHECKLIST

If you are involved in a collision while riding a bicycle, it’s important to know the steps to follow to ensure that you receive fair response from the police and collect information you may need for future legal issues. Even if you are not injured, follow this checklist as injuries can come up later.

Immediately after a crash

  • Tell the driver to stay until the police arrive. If they refuse to stay or don’t provide ID, get their and the car’s description, vehicle’s license plate number and state of issue.
  • Call (or ask someone to call) 9-1-1, and ask for the police to come to the scene.
  • Get name and contact info for any witnesses. Ask them to remain on the scene until police arrive, if possible.
  • Ask for the driver’s license and insurance card. Write down name, address, date of birth, and insurance information.

When the police arrive

  • Ask them to take an incident report.
  • Get reporting police officer’s name and badge number.
  • If you’ve been doored, ask the officer to cite the motorist for dooring.
  • Ask the officers to speak to witnesses, if possible.
  • While a doctor’s report of your injury is important for insurance and/or legal action, you do not need to take an ambulance.

In the days after the crash

  • Contact witnesses to ask them to email you their version of what happened while it’s fresh in their mind. Email yourself a description of what happened with relevant information and capture as much detail as you can.
  • Take good photos of your injuries and any bike damage. Get an estimate from a bike shop before making repairs.
  • Request a copy of the incident report from the police.
  • Contact an attorney who has experience with bicycle accidents.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles launches new educational grant program open to all Kern County students

February 3, 2021 | 5:00 am


While schooling may look different these days, one thing that hasn’t changed is the very real costs of education, which includes computers, textbooks, college application fees, and other school supplies and needs.

In an effort to help local students with the higher costs of education, local law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has introduced a new grant and educational video program open to all Kern County students.

The “Chats with Chain | Cohn | Stiles” educational grants program aims to give away $500 educational grants. How can students apply? Simple. Kern County students can visit bit.ly/chatswithccs, fill out the application, and ask our attorneys a question. It could be a question about the law, life as a lawyer, or anything in the legal field they may be curious about.

For the next 10 months, Chain | Cohn | Stiles will choose a question, and students will get to ask the lawyers that question on video at Scope Studios in Bakersfield. And, of course, they’ll get some cash for their education, too. Questions and answers will be posted on the Chain | Cohn | Stiles YouTube page for all to learn.

“We are especially mindful of the challenges students have faced during the pandemic,” said Matt Clark, senior partner at personal injury attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “This is our way of recognizing these challenges, and hopefully providing students with a little help, encouragement, and education.”

The scholarship application can be accessed at chainlaw.com, or by visiting the short URL http://bit.ly/chatswithccs. Scholarship program questions can be directed to [email protected]

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

‘CHATS WITH CHAIN | COHN | STILES’ VIDEOS

Holiday giving tips during this pandemic year of need

December 16, 2020 | 5:00 am


The holidays are a time for giving, and it’s needed now more than ever.

Traditionally, about one-third of all charitable giving is done in the last three months of the year, and of those donations, nearly 20 percent are given in December alone. But the end of this long, difficult year has seen millions of Americans unemployed and struggling to get food on the table. For those who are able, you may feel moved to be extra generous this holiday season.

For the Bakersfield-based injury and accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the law firm, its attorneys and staff supported dozens of worthy causes, nonprofits and charitable organizations throughout Kern County during the year.

“Kern County is the home of our law firm, but it is also the home of our clients, friends, and families,” said managing partner David Cohn. “It’s important we all come together to help our neighbors, especially during this pandemic year.”

As we enter the holidays and near the New Year, Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to recommend local causes and nonprofits you may consider supporting, as well as provide some giving tips, courtesy of Charity Navigator, at the bottom of this article. For a full list of causes supported by the law firm, visit our “Community” page at chainlaw.com.

  • The Hub of Bakersfield: The local nonprofit is committed to redefining and revitalizing Bakersfield’s urban core through various programs, events, and projects. As part of the nonprofit, the new Bakersfield Innovation Lab is a 10-month program where a select group of participants, who are passionate about the place they call home, come together to develop an impactful project to make the greater downtown Bakersfield area a more desirable place to live, work and be for all. Why is this relevant for Chain | Cohn | Stiles? Well, associate attorney Tanya Alsheikh was part of the inaugural Innovation Lab class, and marketing director Jorge Barrientos is a program facilitator and a member of the board of directors for The Hub! Not to mention, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has called downtown Bakersfield home for 85 years, so this is an important program. Learn more about Hub of Bakersfield and the Innovation Lab at thehubofbakersfield.org.
  • Bakersfield Museum of Art: Year-round, Chain | Cohn | Stiles supports the local art museum and its educational programs.
  • Bike Bakersfield: This nonprofit is a local bicycle advocacy coalition providing family friendly bike rides, bicycle safety education, and bike repair. In particular, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with Bike Bakersfield as part of its mission to reduce the number of accidents in our community, giving away hundreds of free bicycle lights and safety helmets throughout Kern County through “Project Light Up The Night”.
  • Bakersfield Homeless Center: Efforts by City of Bakersfield and Kern County to tackle the issue homelessness are underway. To help, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has donated $10,000 to the Bakersfield Homeless Center’s job skills training program and street cleaning team. The program helps homeless center residents move forward with their lives while making a difference in our community. The program is designed to be a transitional program, where participants gain real-world skills, build confidence, and develop experience to find long-term employment.
  • MADD Kern County: Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with nearly 4,400 DUI arrests in 2018, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s 12 DUI arrests per day. For the rate of DUI-related fatal collisions per 100,000 people, Kern County ranks highest in the state and second highest in the nation. Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime. We can all play a part to help make sure our streets are safe. Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board, regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and is the recent recipient of the “Pursuit of Justice” Award by MADD Southern California. Law firm marketing director Jorge Barrientos is the planning committee chairman for the annual “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash“, in which the firm is presenting sponsor.
  • Valley Fever: California experiences more than 2,000 new cases of Valley Fever each year, and most were reported in the southern Central Valley regions of Kern, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties. Chain | Cohn | Stiles along with California health officials warn people about Valley Fever year-round.
  • Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: The law firm sponsors several Hispanic chamber events throughout the year, which support local businesses, bring cultural awareness, and raise funds for scholarships, among other things.
  • California Highway Patrol CHiPs for Tips: The fundraiser supports the California Association of Highway Patrolmen Widows and Orphans Trust Fund, which goes toward to families when a loved one is killed in or off the line of duty.
  • CSU Bakersfield Alumni Association: The association’s annual event raises funds for alumni scholarships, membership outreach, and mentoring opportunities for current CSUB students. Attorneys Beatriz Trejo and Chad Boyles are alumni of CSUB, and Boyles is a member of the alumni association’s board of directors.

 

Giving Tips

  • Before you give to any charity, examine the charity’s finances. Make sure the group is a financially healthy organization, sustainable, accountable and transparent. Look for signs of effectiveness. The charity’s ability to bring about meaningful change is the key reason for their existence and for your donation. These websites will help you check on your charity:
  • Give to an organization that matches your beliefs and goals. There is a charity out there that matches your intentions. Take the time to find it and confirm it offers the programs and services that match your charitable interests.
  • Take the time to research your charity so that you can trust them, and then give an unrestricted gift so the charity has the flexibility to respond to changing demands for its services and to spend the money where it is most needed to continue their day-to-day good work. Don’t put strings on your gift.
  • If you gave earlier in the year to an organization helping in a disaster, go back to that organization and give more. Much of the need from any disaster comes later, during the recovery period.
  • Giving before the year’s end can get you a tax break. Check with your tax planner to see if you’ll benefit. This year, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, taxpayers who take the standard deduction are allowed an additional deduction of up to $300 for charitable donations made in cash.

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MADD Kern County hosts virtual ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

October 14, 2020 | 6:00 am


For the seventh year, Kern County came together on Saturday, Oct. 10, in the fight against impaired driving to proclaim, “No More Victims!”

Bakersfield’s virtual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — is Kern County’s chance to do something about drunk and drugged driving in our community. Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States.

Like many nonprofits, MADD Kern County has severely been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing a large percentage of funding intended to fight against impaired driving in our community. In fact, MADD California has lost over 80% of annual revenue, forcing drastic cuts that continue to disrupt grassroots programs and services, officials said. Meanwhile, impaired driving, unfortunately, continues to be one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries on our roadways.

In a unifying event, MADD California hosted a virtual Walk Like MADD ceremony on Oct. 10 using the #OneMADDCalifornia hashtag. The statewide virtual ceremony included CHP-Bakersfield officers, featuring Robert Rodriguez singing the national anthem, and local presenting sponsor Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

In Kern County, the event raised more than $42,000 to help fund local educational programs and prevention services, raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes. Statewide, the event raised more than $1.6 million!

You can watch the full ceremony at walklikemadd.org/bakersfield and on Facebook at “Bakersfield Virtual 2020 Walk Like MADD”.

“Our community annually comes together to fight this serious issue in Kern County, to remember the victims of these crimes, and demand change,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “MADD Kern County thanks our local community for helping for spread the message, and fundraise for vital local program. We all want a future of No More Victims.”

In what has become one of the largest fundraising walks and runs in town, the event brings together people from our community – surviving victims of crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, law enforcement, prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and community leaders and members – to march, rally and run for the cause.

Presented by the local law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the local event was also supported by Chevron, Valley Strong Credit Union, Clinica Sierra Vista, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Good Samaritan Hospital, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., and others.

Awards were given to race finishers and top fundraisers. They are as follows:

  • Fastest Male: Garret Sugimoto, Kern Regional Crime Lab
  • Fastest Female: Jessica Harrington, 23ABC News
  • Top Team: Madysyn & Kaleb’s Keepers
  • Top Fundraiser: Amber Morales
  • Top Law Enforcement Team: Kern County District Attorney’s Office

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MEDIA COVERAGE

PRE-EVENT MEDIA COVERAGE

‘U Drive U Text U Pay’: Officials cracking down on dangerous distracted driving

October 7, 2020 | 10:05 am


At any given moment across the United States, about 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And on a typical day, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes. Even more, nearly 3,000 people are killed and an estimated 400,000 are injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Simply, distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roadways because distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves, they’re a danger to everyone else on the road.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is joining national distracted driving efforts focusing on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education.

“Talking on a phone, even while using a hands-free device, or texting or using an infotainment system in your vehicle diverts your attention away from driving,” said Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner and attorney David Cohn. “Please focus on the road, and just drive.”

Locally, Bakersfield Police Department is stepping up patrols in search of distracted drivers in support of the NHTSA’s “U Drive U Text U Pay” enforcement campaign, according to the department. BPD is joining other law enforcement agencies across California in increase enforcement of distracted driving laws. In particular, officers will be looking out for drivers who break the state’s hands-free cellphone law.

Distracted driving is especially dangerous for younger drivers. In fact, drivers 15 to 19 years old are involved in more fatal crashes involving distractions than any other age group. To help, Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently awarded 11 drivers education scholarships as part of the new “Guided Partners in Safety (GPS) Scholarship” program aimed to help pay for student driver’s education training, while keeping safety at the forefront.

California law prohibits all motorists from using a cellphone while driving, except when used in hands-free mode. A first offense results in a $20 fine, and for a second or subsequent offense, the fine is $50. For violations that occur on or after July 1, 2021, the DMV will assess one point if the violation was within 36 months of a prior conviction. Emergency service professionals are exempt from the cellphone ban while operating an authorized emergency vehicle.

Here’s what you can do to eliminate distracted driving from your travels (courtesy of AARP).

  • Unplug: Keep your cell phone on silent and where you can’t see it light up for every notification you receive. If a phone call or text message is really important, it’s best to pull over into a safe location before using your phone.
  • Refuel: Drowsy driving is distracted driving, so never drive when you’re too tired.
  • Focus: When you’re behind the wheel, pay attention to what’s happening all around your vehicle. Frequently scan your mirrors and watch your speed.
  • Secure your cargo: Prevent loose items in your car from startling you in the event of sudden braking by securing your cargo. Also, never place smaller items on your lap or on the floor near the driver-side foot pedals.

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Students receive scholarships, sponsored in part by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, in 9th Grito de Dolores celebration

September 23, 2020 | 6:00 am


Twenty-five students received college scholarships during the 9th annual “Grito de Dolores” celebration hosted by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, sponsored in part by Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

This year’s Grito de Dolores commemorated the 210th Mexican Independence Day. The local socially-distanced celebration was pre-recorded in front of the Liberty Bell in downtown Bakersfield, and presented virtually on Sept. 15 on Telemundo.

The event included folkloric dancers, mariachi and banda music groups, and a scholarship recognition ceremony honoring 25 Kern County students and scholarship recipients, awarded by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation. Learn more about the scholarships program below.

Mexican Independence Day is Sept. 16 each year. The Grito, which occurred in the small Mexican town of Dolores, was the rallying call made by a Roman Catholic priest in front of his church to the battle against Spain.

 

SCHOLARSHIPS

The Bakersfield law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles each year sponsors student scholarships presented during El Grito celebration. Other sponsors included Adventist Health, Carlos A. Alvarez, M.D., Bank of the Sierra, Beautiful You Medical Aesthetics, Clinica Del Valle, KGET/Telemundo Valle Central, Valley Republic Bank, Valley Strong Credit Union, and XM Garcia Law.

The sponsors, in partnership with the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation, awarded 25 $250 and $500 scholarships to local students in pursuit of higher education, and who are giving back in various ways to our community. This year, the foundation received nearly 100 applications from students throughout Kern County.

“These students are some of the brightest in Kern County, who care about their futures and their community,” said Jorge Barrientos, KCHCC Business Education Foundation board member and Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director. “The KCHCC Business Education Foundation, along with the sponsors, is proud to annually award these scholarships to our local students to help them in their trek to make their goals a reality.”

The scholarship winners were:

  • Dayana Aguilar
  • Guadalupe Alcala
  • Isabel Angulo
  • Aydee Arredondo
  • Mia Faith Arredondo
  • Karen Vianney Garcia Barbosa
  • Juliana Garcia Cruz
  • Sergio Flores
  • Arly Galindo
  • Estefany Garcia
  • Haylee Gonzales
  • Dory Garnica Guttierez
  • Isaac Larroque
  • Cindy Maldonado
  • Ariana Naranjo
  • Azuzena Ortiz
  • Stephanie Pantoja
  • Karla Perez
  • Priscilla Perez
  • Daniela Ortiz Samayoa
  • Jacqueline Olivia Sala
  • Briana Salas
  • Jesus Trujillo
  • Ivan Vielma
  • Cynthia Villanueva

Scholarships are offered by the KCHCC Business Education Foundation annually in the fall. For more information on future opportunities, please visit kchcc.org.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE