CCS senior partner Matt Clark chosen by Bakersfield Life magazine as one of ’20 Under 40 People to Watch’

June 30, 2014 | 9:25 am


Bakersfield personal injury lawyer Matthew C. Clark has been chosen as one of the “20 Under 40 People to Watch” by Bakersfield Life Magazine for 2014.

Clark was featured in the 20 Under 40 feature in the local monthly lifestyle magazine released Saturday, June 28, in The Bakersfield Californian. It was the second annual 20 Under 40 feature, where about 100 up and coming local young professionals between 18 and 39 years old were nominated.

“It was difficult to choose, but in the end, Bakersfield Life’s selection committee could only honor 20 of these shining stars who are doing brilliant things for the city they call home,” according to the magazine. “Each leader is making their mark in a different way; some own their own businesses while others have put in time and love to causes dear to their heart.”

Clark was honored with 19 other local honorees during a recognition ceremony on Friday, June 27 at The Mark Restaurant, the day before the magazine was released.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this group. It makes me proud to live here,” Clark said after receiving a plaque and several certificates from local dignitaries and elected officials. “I moved back here after school … And being around all of you reminds me of why I moved.”

The magazine highlighted Clark’s community service, inspirations and secret talents, among other things. It read as follows:

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Matthew C. Clark

Attorney/senior partner with Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Age: 38

Community involvement: Clinica Sierra Vista board, San Joaquin Community Hospital Foundation board, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Miracle Society member, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Walk in Kern County volunteer and board member.

Professional in your field who inspires you: Although this may sound contrived, I am honestly inspired by my law partners, Dave Cohn, Dave Stiles and Jim Yoro. My successes are a result of their mentoring and encouragement.

Secret talent: Since helping my in-laws build a pizza oven in their backyard, I’ve become a pretty decent pizza chef. Also, it’s been said that I have an “intimidating head of hair,” at least according to Scott Cox.

How do you hope to make a difference in Bakersfield? I grew up in Bakersfield, moved away for school and then returned. I’ve been back for about 13 years now. During this time, I have worked with clients of every imaginable background and one thing is universal to all of them — the need for quality, local medical care. Through my volunteer activities and affiliations, I have tried to commit my time toward this goal and will continue to do so in the future.

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You can read the online version of the feature and view more pictures at bakersfieldlife.com. You can also read the magazine version online here, or read the entire magazine online here. And you can pick up a copy at The Bakersfield Californian.

CCS completes the first-ever Kern County Corporate Challenge

June 25, 2014 | 9:45 am


After six weeks of intense competitive games, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has completed the first ever Kern County Corporate Challenge.

Starting in May, our Bakersfield personal injury law firm went head-to-head with several other companies from throughout Kern County in the 2014 Kern Corporate Challenge. It was a six-week, Olympic-style competition that pitted similar-sized companies against each other in more than a dozen athletic and non-athletic games.

The entire competition was for a good cause: benefiting the League of Dreams, a Kern County sports league for children with disabilities.

Challenges include dodge ball, a 5K run, basketball, bowling, volleyball, flag football, golf, laser tag, soccer, softball, tug-o-war and more. Non-athletic events include billiards, poker and a T-shirt competition.

In the end, CCS came in third place overall. WorkLogic HR came in first place and AT&T came in second place. Here are a few other CCS highlights (and photos) from the Corporate Challenge:

  • Our poker team took first place. Check out our team by clicking here.
  • CCS also came in first in the Biggest Winner weight loss competition. Our “biggest winner” lost a whopping 35 pounds in the six weeks of the competition.
  • Our fundraising team raised $1,350 in the fundraising competition, benefiting The League of Dreams. Thank you to the following people and companies who kindly donated funds for the league:
  1. Bob Montgomery
  2. Steve Roach of Quantum Data Systems
  3. Chris Thornburg of Brown Armstrong
  4. O’Leary’s Office Products
  5. Metro Record Storage and Shredding
  6. Sunrise Coffee Service

To see even more pictures from the events, go to the Kern County Corporate Challenge Facebook page.

In the end, the 2014 Kern County Corporate Challenge was a success. The teams raised a lot of money for a worthy cause, CCS came together as a team, and the law firm got to compete against some worthy opponents. The Challenge is sure to be bigger and better in the years to come.

To learn more about the competition, click on some of the media coverage below:

Bakersfield Life Magazine

KERO-23 (ABC)

CCS sponsors Nathan’s Army 5K in fight against pediatric brain tumor

June 18, 2014 | 10:16 am


In January, 8-year-old Nathan Street of Bakersfield was diagnosed with a pediatric brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma — DIPG for short — which is highly aggressive and found in the brain stem, making it very difficult to treat.

The tumor is found in the pons area of the brain stem, which controls many of the body’s vital functions including breathing, blood pressure and heart rate, according to Boston’s Childrens Hospital. Radiation is the primary form of therapy for this newly diagnosed tumor, but it is a temporary fix. Experimental chemotherapy is also used; however, clinical trials have shown that the chemotherapy does not increase survival rates. Additionally, surgery is not an option as it can cause neurological damage and affect the body’s most vital functions.

Ultimately, the prognosis for DIPG is very poor, although a small percentage of patients can survive this disease, according to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The median survival is nine to 12 months, even with treatment.

The Bakersfield personal injury law firm of Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to support the Street family and the Nathan’s Army 5K as Nathan battles against this disease.

The goal of the event is to raise awareness of the disease and increase research funding. Sponsors and supporters of the 5K also hope to raise funds for Nathan’s medical treatment, along with any other costs that the Street family will inevitably incur as they endure this fight.

The cause of DIPG is not currently understood. There are no known factors or conditions that make your child more or less likely to develop this type of tumor, according to Boston’s Childrens Hospital.

All proceeds and donations to Nathan’s Army 5K will benefit Nathan Street and pediatric DIPG research. Giving to Legacy Behavioral Services, a nonprofit organization, will allow donations and sponsorship to be tax deductible.

All donors and sponsors are recognized on the Nathan’s Army Facebook page and on the race day.

The 5K, 3.1-mile run or walk will go through the historic Rio Bravo Ranch, which is on 9,000 acres of diverse and scenic landscape. The trail route will take you over rustic ranch roads and up through citrus orchards overlooking the majestic Kern River. The course is suitable for all ages and abilities, however, please keep in mind it is a trail run.

It will be a timed event with awards in age categories given at the conclusion of the race.

Registration starts at 6:45 a.m. with the 5K kicking off at 8 a.m. The kid’s fun-run will follow. The ranch is at 15701 Highway 178.

To sign up as a participant in the event, go to the Nathan’s Army Active.com page.

To learn more about DIPG:

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UPDATE:

  • The 5K was a huge success, and about 750 people participated in this event.
  • KERO-23 (ABC) covered the 5K, Watch the news story here.
  • See CCS employees participating in the 5K here.

Bakersfield Life Magazine highlights CCS 80-year anniversary

June 4, 2014 | 10:03 am


The newest issue of Bakersfield Life Magazine featured an article of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, highlighting the firm’s 80-year anniversary. Below is the article, which covers the history of our firm, our accomplishments in the last 80 years, and what’s ahead for the Bakersfield personal injury law firm.

Read the June 2014 magazine article to learn more.

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What is the history of Chain | Cohn | Stiles in Bakersfield?

Our law firm was founded in 1934 by Morris B. Chain, a local legend in Kern County courtrooms. Eventually, the firm developed practices in personal injury, wrongful death and social security disability, which are the core of the firm today. Some of the most respected names in local law were bred out of this firm, and our current attorneys continue to be the most respected in their fields – not only in Bakersfield and Kern County, but across the state.

Chain died in 1977, but his values are carried on today by David K. Cohn, David V. Stiles, six other dedicated attorneys and the firm’s professional staff.

How does Chain | Cohn | Stiles stand out from other firms today? 

As the oldest personal injury law firm in Bakersfield, with our attorneys and staff bred locally, we have an extra edge that a firm outside of Kern County – or in Kern County for that matter – would never have. We care about Kern County, and we hold those accountable to make sure our residents are treated properly.

Plus, we’re the only local firm to win “Best Law Firm” the last two years, and managing partner David Cohn has also been honored the last two years in the “Best Lawyer” category.

What firm accomplishments stand out from the last 80 years?

Our firm has more multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements than any other local law firm, and we’ve recovered more than half a billion dollars on behalf of our clients. Besides that, our commitment to help those in our local community has made workplaces safer. We’ve consistently held large corporations accountable – oilfield and agriculture companies included –which, in turn, has made workplaces safer for our community’s workers.

We’re also very proud of the deep connection this firm has made with our community – the firm’s roots are embedded in giving back. Our attorneys sit on local boards, including Clinica Sierra Vista, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and CASA Kern County, among many others. And our employees give back in many ways, too, including hosting teams for March of Dimes and Relay for Life, sharing their expertise at the university level, and donating their time to volunteer for local causes.

How are you commemorating 80 years in our community?

We’ve partnered with the City of Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Homeless Center to adopt a portion of the Westside Parkway, where we employ our homeless resident to keep our roads clean and beautify Bakersfield. You’ll see our sign on the Parkway, near Coffee Road, as reminder of our loyalty and service to our community for the last 80 years, and decades to come.

You’ll also see us giving back to a variety of local causes and events, including the Kern County Corporate Challenge, where our firm is going head-to-head against local businesses for the nonprofit, League of Dreams. And there’s more. To keep up to date, visit our website and blog –  chainlawblog.com – and follow us on social media.

MADD, Chain | Cohn | Stiles brings together Kern County residents for inaugural Walk Like MADD event to eliminate drunk driving

May 29, 2014 | 9:23 am


A 22-year-old respiratory therapist named Princess, who was the primary provider for her family. A 25-year-old pregnant mother-to-be. A 6-month-old daughter, and sister to a twin. What do all of these people have in common?

These are just some of the innocent lives taken away from Bakersfield this year at the hands of people driving under the influence. In 2014 thus far, Kern County has witnessed seven fatal crashes involving DUI drivers, according to Bakersfield Police Department and California Highway Patrol statistics. In 2013, Kern saw 15 DUI-related fatalities. They are statistics, arrests and tragedies that could have been 100 percent preventable – choices were made by people to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. That decision affected entire families and communities.

In an effort to raise awareness in our own community, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes, the Bakersfield/Kern County affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will host its first-ever “Walk/Run Like Madd” 5K at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Park at River Walk.

“This is our moment to say enough is enough,” said Carla Pearson, program coordinator and victim
advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. “We need to stop this madness on our
roadways.”

For Pearson, she knows too well the negative effects of drinking and driving. In 2002, her stepson, 23-year-old Adam Pierce, was killed by a repeat DUI offender. Following that tragedy, Pearson campaigned for victim’s rights in and out of the courtroom, and to take DUI offenders off of the streets. Her fight led to changes in California law in 2002 (Adam’s Law: AB 2173, VC 23593) that warned convicted DUI offenders that if they drove while drunk and someone died, they could be charged with murder.
Since 2011, MADD Kern County has assisted in more than 500 cases involving felony, injury and
fatal DUIs.

Today, Pearson is bringing the 5K walk and run to Kern County in hopes that local residents can help make a change in our community.

“The stories are still in the news, and we’re not getting it. Our community members are being killed by people’s wrong choices,” Pearson said. “We need to bring awareness. We need to make a change.”
Pearson is backed in this inaugural event by several local agencies including the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, Bakersfield Police Department, California Highway Patrol and sponsors including the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Walk Like MADD events are taking place in cities across the country, but ths is a first for Bakersfield. Registration is $15 for those ages 5-21, and $20 for those who are 21 and older. Corporations and groups are encouraged to form teams of 10 or more, and are asked to raise $100 each through donations. The goal in this inaugural walk and run is to raise $25,000 locally.

Individuals can participate in Walk Like MADD in three ways:

1) You can register to walk as an individual or form a team.
2) If you unable to attend, you can sign up online to raise money as a virtual walker.
3) Or, you can give a one-time donation to Walk Like MADD.

To sign up, donate or for more information, go to the local walk-run portal HERE.

You can also Google “Bakersfield Walk Like MADD” or search on Facebook: “Bakersfield Walk Like MADD.”

For more local information on the walk-run, to get in touch with local victims and/or families of victims, or if you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Jorge Barrientos at 661-334-4948, jbarrientos@chainlaw.com.

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ABOUT MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21 is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 8.6 minutes at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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SOBERING FACTS

MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING

  • MADD is a nonprofit, grassroots organization with more than 2 million members and supporters nationwide.
  • It was founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver.

DRUNK DRIVING IN BAKERSFIELD/KERN COUNTY

  • In 2014 thus far, Kern County has witnessed seven fatal crashes involving DUI drivers, according to Bakersfield Police Deparment and California Highway Patrol statistics.
  • In 2013, Kern saw 15 DUI-related fatalities.

DRUNK DRIVING IN CALIFORNIA

  • In 2012, California saw 802 drunk driving fatalities where drivers had .08 BAC or higher.
  • That represents nearly 30 percent of all total traffic deaths, and a nearly 4 percent increase from the year before.

DRUNK DRIVING IN THE UNITED STATES

  • In 2012, 10,322 people died in drunk driving crashes nationwide – one every 51 minutes.
  • Drunk driving makes up one-third of all highway fatalities in the United States.
  • Almost every 90 seconds, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash.
  • One in three people will be involved in drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
  •  Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

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EVENT INFORMATION

WHAT: The Kern County/Bakersfield affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosts its signature “Walk Like MADD” 5K fundraising walk and run on Saturday, Sept. 20, at The Park at River Walk. Local families, friends and co-workers will walk to raise funds and show support for MADD’s “Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.”

Funds raised through Walk Like MADD help further MADD’s life-saving mission and the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which calls for such things as high-visibility law enforcement, ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers and support for the development of advanced in-vehicle technology to prevent a drunk driver from operating the vehicle. Funds also support victims and survivors of drunk-driving crashes.

The timing for Walk Like MADD is significant because Bakersfield and Kern County have been host to one too many fatal DUI crashes in recent years.

WHEN: 6 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014; Pre-walk remarks begin at 6:30 a.m.; Walk begins at 7 a.m.

WHERE: The Park at River Walk, 11200 Stockdale Highway in Bakersfield.

WHY: In 2014 thus far, Kern County has witnessed seven fatal crashes involving DUI drivers, according to Bakersfield Police Department and California Highway Patrol statistics. In 2013, Kern County saw 15 DUI-related fatalities. Nationwide, more than 10,000 people were killed in 2012 and another 345,000 people were injured in drunk-driving crashes.

VISUALS: Families of victims of drunk-driving crashes, supporters, law enforcement personnel and
other community members walking and running for the cause.

SIGN UP: Go HERE

CONTACT: Jorge Barrientos, Marketing Director: 661-334-4948, jbarrientos@chainlaw.com

Chain | Cohn | Stiles supports one of Kern’s largest cultural events of the year

May 27, 2014 | 10:15 am


Among the largest cultural events in Kern County — and among the most popular in Bakersfield’s Hispanic and Latino communities — is the annual Menduo Cook-Off, presented each year by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

This year, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to be a supporter of the 16th annual Menudo Cook-Off, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 1, at the Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 P St.

The event, which draws more than 10,000 people to the fairgrounds, features vendor booths, live entertainment, kids’ activities, and, of course, a food competition that centers around the traditional Hispanic soup.

Menudo is a spicy tripe and hominy soup. Last year, 75 contestants from throughout the state entered the competition and a panel of 15 judges, ranging from Mexican restaurant owners and local chefs to local attorneys and celebrities, evaluated the entries.

Winners of the cook-off win cash prizes, and also bragging rights for having the best menudo in Kern County.

This year, live entertainment will also be a draw. Musical acts who will be featured include Velorio, Mento Buru, Mariachi San Marcos and Hind Site.

Hispanic chamber of commerce President Jay Tamsi told Bakersfield Life Magazine that the event caters to families who want to enjoy good music and food while supporting a good cause — the chamber. The event allows Hispanic chamber of commerce to continue its ongoing mission to promote, enhance and provide business services and cultural resources to our community in Kern County and provide scholarships to students.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe in supporting our community in and out of the courtroom. The Bakersfield personal injury law firm is a member of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which was started in 1985 to promote the interests of Hispanic and minority business owners. The chamber now has more than 600 members and represents more than 400,000 people of Hispanic heritage.

Also, Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos is the vice president of the Hispanic chamber of commerce’s Business Education Foundation, which grants students scholarships and provides resources for businesses in Kern County.

For the cook-off, you’ll see the Chain | Cohn | Stiles logo on event fliers showcased around town and at the event, and the law firm will also be hosting an informational booth on the day of the event.

For more information on the chamber or the menudo cook-off, call the chamber office at 633-5495 or visit www.kchcc.org.

Bike race, sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, to roll through streets of Bakersfield

May 16, 2014 | 11:37 am


As mentioned in a previous blog post, May is National Bike Month, as well as National Bike Safety Month.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe in bicycle safety, and several of the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers and employees at the law firm are bike enthusiasts and practice safety measures each time they hop on their bicycles. It’s also important for a community business, like ours, to support community programs and events.

Combining bike safety with community support, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is sponsoring the De VleesHuis race on Saturday, May 17, as well as the 2014 Downtown Criterium on Sunday, May 18.

Saturday’s De VleesHuis, slugged as “a road race for the strong,” will be a 30-mile loop through Bakersfield, with easy flats, a long stead climb and some puncher climbs in between the flats and back to the finish, according to even organizers. It will reach an elevation of nearly 2,500 feet. To see the route, go HERE.

The Downtown Criterium will be held on Sunday, and will feature Formula One style bike racing on Bakersfield’s city streets. The four-corner rectangle course will deliver a fun, exciting race around a downtown Bakersfield park venue. The course is .8 miles.

The family-friendly event will feature music, a kid’s race, food and “the fastest race in Kern County,” event organizers said. It is being sponsored and hosted by Bike Bakersfield, USA Cycling and, of course, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, among others.

For more on the events, visit SamBarn Promotions, which is putting on the event, or Bike Bakersfield, a local nonprofit bicycle advocacy group.

If you are planning to ride your bicycle throughout Bakersfield this weekend, please keep in mind these bicycle safety tips, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  • Ride and drive focused, never distracted.
  • Ride and drive prepared; always expect the unexpected.
  • Put safety first; we never know when a crash will occur, regardless of skill level or age; always wear a bicycle helmet when on a bicycle and a seat belt when in a car.
  • Follow the rules of the road; a bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights on the roadway and responsibilities of motorized traffic.
  • Expect law enforcement officers to monitor and address unsafe behaviors between motorists and bicyclists that put bicyclists at risk.
  • Share the road; both vehicle drivers (motorist and bicyclist) should look out for one another and show mutual respect.

For more resources related to bicycle safety and what to do in case of an bicycle accident, including Frequently Asked Questions, go HERE.

Tips: Celebrate with safety this Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2014 | 9:30 am


Bakersfield is rich with culture, especially within our Hispanic community. This Cinco de Mayo (May 5) will undoubtedly bring celebration citywide.

It’s important, however, to keep safety in mind today whether you are celebrating around town, or are traveling through local streets during this holiday. The popularity of Cinco de Mayo celebrations, especially among young people, has brought about some problems — alcohol-involved crashes.

Bakersfield Police Department and other local law enforcement has traditionally bumped up enforcement around this holiday.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives some sobering stats:

  • From 2008 to 2012, 233 people were killed in drunken driving crashes on Cinco de Mayo. 
  • In 2012, almost half (45 percent) of all traffic crash deaths on Cinco de Mayo involved drunk driving.

To increase your chances of enjoying a safe Cinco de Mayo celebration, the safety administration recommends that you plan ahead, and:

  • Designate your sober driver before the festivities begin.
  • If you’ve been drinking, call a friend or taxi, or use public transportation to get home.
  • Contact your local police if you see a drunk driver on the road. 
  • If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them find a safe ride home.

As the statistics show, DUI crashes and incidents are still bound to happen. The Bakersfield accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles also have some tips in the unfortunate case you are the victim in an accident.

The attorneys at CCS are passionate about keeping our streets as safe as possible. In fact, the law firm has partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County in the first Bakersfield “Walk (Run) Like MADD” fundraiser, which will be held this September.

Below are several “Frequently Asked Questions” and answers from the Bakersfield law firm’s website related to DUI accidents, and what you should do if you are ever a victim. And remember, if you are ever involved in an accident, call the firm at 661-323-4000.

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Does the law differentiate between people who are killed or seriously injured by drunk drivers as opposed to people who are injured or killed by people driving under the influence of street drugs or prescription drugs?

No. The law makes no distinction between driving under the influence of alcohol, street drugs or prescription drugs. That is why the term “DUI,” which means “driving under the influence” is used to describe the crime rather than “drunk driving.”

Who can sue in a DUI case?

Any person who is injured by the wrongful conduct of a person driving under the influence, or the survivors of someone who was killed by a defendant who was driving under the influence, can bring a lawsuit against the defendant driver and any other person or entity who was responsible for the accident.

Is it easier to prove a drunk driving case than a case in which a person is driving under the influence of drugs?

Yes. The relationship between a high blood alcohol level and driver impairment is well known and well established. The same relationship between prescription and street drugs has been far less studied and is not within the common knowledge of most drivers and jurors. Thus, drunk driving cases are easier to prove.

What if the person who injured me was found to be driving under the influence, but I feel like I also was probably at fault. Can I bring a lawsuit?

Yes. California is a comparative negligence State. This means that you can sue any responsible party even if you are partially at fault in the accident. However, your damage award will be reduced by the percentage of your own negligence.

How impaired must a defendant be for there to be a presumption under the law that the defendant was negligent?

A defendant will be presumed to be negligent for causing an accident if you can establish that the driver’s physical or mental abilities were so impaired by the drug or alcohol use that they could not drive with the caution or ability of a person of ordinary prudence and skill in similar circumstances. Thus, a person can have a few drinks or drive under the influence of prescription drugs without being presumed to be negligent.

Will expert testimony be necessary for me to establish that the other driver was under the influence?

Probably. Usually a toxicologist will have to be called at trial to establish the level of alcohol and/or drugs in a person’s body. In addition, a human factors expert may be necessary to testify to the relationship between the blood alcohol or drug level and driver impairment

What damages can I recover in a wrongful death or serious Drunk Driving Accidents case stemming from the negligence of a defendant who was driving under the influence?

The injured person is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical treatment, past and future wage loss, damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Further, plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages. If the injured person dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the injured person’s death, as well as monetary damages which stem from the loss of society, care, and comfort of the decedent.

What do I need to establish to prove punitive damages in a case in which the defendant was driving under the influence?

First of all, punitive damages are not recoverable in California in any wrongful death case. If your loved one has died, you can only claim punitive damages if they survived for at least a few moments after the collision that killed them. To recover punitive damages in an injury or a “survivor” action against a person who was driving under the influence, you must prove that:

  • That the defendant voluntarily drank or took drugs to the point of intoxication/impairment before they knew that they would be driving;
  • That the defendant was convicted of a felony under Civil Code Section 3245(d).
  • They were aware of the probable dangerous consequences of their conduct; and,
  • They willfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences.

Special settlement considerations in drunk driving cases?

Whether or not an insurance company wants to admit it, the jurors’ focus in a case in which the defendant was driving under the influence will be on the reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct more than it will be on the extent of a plaintiff’s damages. Thus, a plaintiff should never settle a case against a person who was driving under the influence for the same amount of money that they would settle any other case. The case will always be worth more money than a typical Drunk Driving Accidents or wrongful death case, and may be worth many more times the usual value of the case, depending upon the seriousness of defendant’s misconduct.

Do I need an attorney to pursue my case against a defendant who was driving under the influence?

Yes. You will need an attorney to help you establish the degree of impairment of the defendant. Further, a skilled attorney will understand that you will receive all of the benefit of the doubt that you will need in a case against a person driving under the influence and will prepare the damage part of your case accordingly. This will help you achieve a larger settlement or verdict than you would be able to achieve on your own.

Welcome our newest associate: Chad J.A. Boyles

April 29, 2014 | 10:55 am


The law firm of Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently welcomed its eighth attorney to serve Bakersfield and Kern County.

Chad J. A. Boyles, an associate with the firm, is focusing on personal injury and wrongful death cases. And like most of the attorneys at the law firm, Chad was born and raised in Bakersfield, and decided to serve in his hometown and the people of Kern County. He joins a team of attorneys who were raised on local soil, attended local schools, and after receiving a law school education, returned back home to serve.

Here’s a little more about Chad:

He graduated from Highland High School in 2002. He earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Cal State Bakersfield, where he was also a part of Pi Sigma Alpha, a national political science honor society. He then attended Whittier Law School where he served as Managing Editor of the Law Review, and had the honor of being published in the review. He graduated cum laude from Whittier in 2010.

After law school, Chad worked briefly in Pasadena before returning to Bakersfield and joining another local firm. For two years, he litigated state cases covering a wide variety of legal issues, including personal injury and civil rights. Chad has also provided advice and counseling to clients facing legal issues on a volunteer basis at Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc.

When he’s not working, Chad likes to cook, eat out at restaurants, and travel. He’s toured throughout the United States, studied abroad for a short time in France, and visited various other countries in Europe.

“I’m happy to be able to put my knowledge of our community to use in helping our clients,” Chad said.

If you have been seriously injured due to the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, call the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers, including Chad, at 661-323-4000. Also, find Chad on our website, chainlaw.com.

UPDATE: Chad has been featured in the “People in Business” section of The Bakersfield Californian. To see the article, click HERE.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps families with legal questions at Delano street faire

April 24, 2014 | 10:20 am


Earlier this week, Chain | Cohn | Stiles took park in the Delano Chamber of Commerce‘s “Cinco de Mayo Fiesta and Street Faire.” It was a chance for our law firm to answer local resident’s questions, share tips and information, and give out Chain | Cohn | Stiles goodies to the families in Delano and throughout Kern County.

Several Delano parents asked us about workers’ compensation cases. One Delano resident in particular hired a Los Angeles attorney to help him with his workers’ compensation case, but that attorney had done a poor job at communicating with him, and at resolving his case, he said. We explained to him that many residents in Kern County have this problem: They seek counsel from lawyers outside of our county — after getting their information from television commercials or other loud advertisements that these outside lawyers make — and quickly realize they made a mistake.

In fact, many times, the workers’ compensation*, social security disability and personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles get calls from clients who were unsatisfied with the attorneys they hired from Los Angeles, Fresno and other areas outside of Kern County.

As for the concerned Delano resident seeking workers’ compensation assistance — who was an employee of a prison in Delano — we helped him with the next steps he should take, and he vowed to call us for assistance.

Other Delano residents remarked to us that they had seen our commercials on television, and were impressed with their quality, and by the words of the attorneys.

And many others were happy to learn that the son of a longtime and well-known Delano pediatrician was one of our associate attorneys. Dr. Dilbagh Gehlawat of Delano Pediatrics Group for decades has taken care of children and families in Delano, and many times brought along his youngest son, Neil Gehlawat, to the office — from childhood to adulthood. Several people at the street fair remarked, “Is that little Neil?,” when they noticed him in brochures we were handing out. Now, Neil Gehlawat handles personal injury cases at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, while his father continues to serve families of Delano and Kern County.

The street faire — held on Main Street between 9th and 12 avenues — also featured booths from other service providers from throughout Kern County, though Chain | Cohn | Stiles was the sole Kern County law firm in attendance. Other booths included  Sunset Waste Systems and Delano Area Rapid Transit, to name a few.

Our message to the people of Delano was essentially this: We hope you never need a personal injury attorney, but if you do happen to need one, we would hope you choose a local, professional, and caring Kern County lawyer, like the ones at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Besides at Delano events, you can also find our law firm’s and lawyer’s information at several Delano restaurants and business — including Sylvia’s Clerical Solutions and Lupe’s Restaurant, among others.

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