Bakersfield drivers ranked 3rd worst in America due to accident rates, DUIs, speeding

July 28, 2021 | 5:00 am


Have you been cut-off while driving recently, or seen someone run a red light, text while behind the steering wheel, or drive way over the speed limit? If you’re in Bakersfield and answered “yes”, you’re not alone.

Based on accident rates, speeding tickets, DUIs, and citations, Bakersfield ranks third in the nation for bad driver quality, according to a new study by QuoteWizard. That is, Bakersfield ranks third for having the worst drivers in America.

The analysts at QuoteWizard each year review 2 million car insurance quotes from drivers in America’s 70 largest cities to determine which cities have the worst drivers in America, and which have the best. The cities are then evaluated on four factors to determine overall driver quality. Here’s how Bakersfield stacked against those factors:

  • Accidents: Bakersfield ranked 11th worst
  • Speeding Tickets: Bakersfield ranked 18th worst
  • DUIs: Bakersfield ranked 3rd worst
  • Citations: Bakersfield ranked 12th worst

Omaha ranked the overall worst, while Riverside ranked 2nd worst. QuoteWizard highlighted a pattern among the cities with the worst drivers. Each of the five worst driving cities also had high numbers of DUIs, while cities that ranked as the five best all had low numbers of speeding tickets and citations. On the opposite end, Birmingham, St. Louis, and Little Rock were ranked at the top, respectively, for having the best drivers in the nation.

Bakersfield appears to be getting worse. The city ranked 13th worst in the 2020 analysis.

“It’s simple: Slow down, always drive sober, and share the road with other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Taking these steps are the best ways to make sure that you, and everyone else, make it home safely.”

Last year, WalletHub named California the fourth worst state to drive in the United States based on 31 factors including cost of ownership and maintenance, traffic and infrastructure, safety, and access to vehicles and maintenance. California was found to have the highest percentage of rush hour traffic congestion, the second highest average gas prices, and the fifth highest car theft rate, according to WalletHub.

Insurance experts say the saturation of bad drivers on roadways has the ability to affect how much you pay for car insurance each month. Living in one of the worst driving cities can see your insurance rates go up, while living in one of the best driving cities can help you save money on your auto insurance.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles provides a few driving tips below to help you eliminate distracted driving, reduce traffic violations, and keep Kern County roadways as safe as possible:

  • Keep your cell phone on silent, and put in a place where you won’t be able to access it while driving.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and what other drivers around you are doing.
  • If you’re too tired to drive, find a place to stop so you can get rest before driving again.
  • If you need to eat and drink, make sure that you pull over to the side of the road.
  • Make sure that loose items in your car are secured so that they don’t startle you if they fall.
  • Never drive a vehicle if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Make sure that you have a driver who has not consumed alcohol, or use a service like Lyft or Uber who will be able to take you back to your home safely.

Lastly, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, follow these three steps:

1) Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number (VIN) and driver’s license number of any and all persons involved in the accident, as well as the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.

2) Make sure that a report is filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol, but do not talk to anyone else, especially insurance adjusters, about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney. Chain | Cohn | Stiles offers a free consultation.

3) Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.

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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.

Longtime Bakersfield attorney, former Chain | Cohn | Stiles partner dies at 84

July 14, 2021 | 10:15 am


Editor’s Note: The article below was compiled from local media reports. For a column on Mr. Lemucchi written by Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David Cohn for the Kern County Bar Association magazine, Res Ipsa Loquitur, please see below:

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Timothy Lemucchi, a longtime and prominent Bakersfield lawyer and former partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles has died at age 84.

Lemucchi participated in some of Bakersfield’s most memorable trials, including that of tire store owner William Robert Tyack, accused of killing two of his neighbors in 1982, and Offord Rollins, the Wasco star athlete accused of killing his girlfriend in 1991. He would be involved in more than 250 jury trials.

Colleagues, including Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David Cohn, say he had an uncanny ability to read jurors and keep his cool amid difficult circumstances. Cohn worked with Lemucchi for 20 years when the firm was known as Chain Younger Lemucchi.

Lemucchi exemplified the value of diligent pre-trial preparation, Cohn told local media, and he often tutored younger lawyers after completing his own work for the day. Part of what made him such a good defense and later a personal injury lawyer was his ability to shift tactics seamlessly after being overruled by a judge, Cohn said.

Lemuccci was the son of Italian immigrants who established the iconic Old Kern staple, Luigi’s Italian Restaurant, Deli & Wine, which celebrated 100 years of business in 2010. He attended East High School, Stanford University, and then Georgetown University for his law degree.

Outside of the courtroom, Lemucchi was a competitive athlete. He regularly competed in Ironman triatholons, took cross-country skiing, hiking and fishing trips, climbed Alaska’s Denali, Mount Whitney and peaks in Russia. He survived a helicopter crash, and mounted part of the wreckage on a plaque in his office, The Bakersfield Californian reported. He also displayed a photo of himself carrying the Olympic torch ahead of the 1984 games in Los Angeles.

His competitive spirt took him on the campaign trail in 1972, when he ran for Congress.

Lemucchi was also a writer, authoring books about his family’s history. The latest, “Eddies of the Kern,” is scheduled for release Sept. 1 of this year.

Lemucchi was also a longtime supporter of the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Lemucchi was “a very giving person,” Cohn shared with local media. “Tim was involved in a lot of charities here in Kern County. He always cared about the little guy.”

Lemucchi died July 7 while out on a casual bike ride with a friend, local media reported. He is survived by Margaret, his wife of 51 years; his daughter, Lisa Lemucchi, of Santa Cruz; his sister, Antonia Valpredo; niece Monica Sacco (husband John); niece Lanette Caratan (Christopher); nephew Gino Valpredo (Sandra); and numerous cousins and relatives, many of whom live in Kern County.

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‘Universally respected’: Longtime colleague David Cohn shares his memories of Tim Lemucchi

By David K. Cohn

For the “Res Ipsa Loquitur”

When Tim Lemucchi was a partner at the Chain Younger law firm, several of us attorneys challenged him. Daniel Rodriguez, James Yoro, and I bet we could beat him in the triathlon. I would do the bicycle portion, Danny would run, and Jim would swim. Tim – a tough, skilled, and experienced competitor – would, of course, do all three by himself. We trained a lot for the challenge, but we just weren’t as prepared as Tim was. In the end, we each ended up owing him $100 – which he gladly, but graciously, took. 

That was Tim. He outworked his opponents and was extremely well prepared. And though we lost, we couldn’t be upset with Tim because he was universally respected – by judges, other defense attorneys, and even his opponents.  

It was my privilege to be a legal partner of Tim’s for 20 years. During that time, I came to learn that Tim was trial lawyers, trial lawyer. 

His word was his bond. He never tried to pull a fast one. Tim was probably the most decent attorney I’ve ever met. I never really saw him lose his temper, and he always was cool under fire. His staff was also extremely loyal – he was a good boss and they respected him. He was the epitome of how to be civil

For a young lawyer, he was a great mentor.  I think I had been practicing for about 6 weeks, and Tim handed me a criminal file. He said, “Here, I think this would be a good experience for you to try a jury trial.” And I did! He gave me pointers and helped me out along the way. It wasn’t long after that I stumbled on a murder case. I went to Tim and said, “I’m not sure how to go about this.” He sat with me in court at a preliminary hearing, and he made some great suggestions, including for cross examining one of the police officers. I ended up getting the case dismissed at the preliminary hearing, mainly due to suggestions that Tim gave me. That was pretty cool for a young lawyer. 

It’s no wonder he was retained to represent Robert Tyack in the infamous double murder case. Tim used a self-defense argument even though the two men were shot in the back. While he didn’t get an acquittal, he ended up convincing a jury not to convict his client of murder. Instead, the jury came back with a verdict of manslaughter. The judge was astounded at the verdict, and how well Tim did in front of a jury. That was Tim’s biggest asset. He really knew how to connect with people, and was wonderful in front of juries. Tim’s low-key demeanor just resonated. He had that common person touch. 

In another famous case, Tim was hired for the Offord Rollins case. Rollins was a star athlete in Wasco accused of murdering his girlfriend. He did not win the case, but he gained a tremendous amount of respect throughout our community for his work in that trial. 

He knew the ins and outs of the evidence code better than any other attorney I’ve known.  

He was as close to a Renaissance man as they come. Not only was he an athlete and lawyer, but he was also an amazing writer, an outdoorsman who hiked, climbed the highest mountains, and survived helicopter crashes and snowstorms. 

As much as I was saddened to hear about Tim’s passing, I had a smile on my face knowing he was out on his bicycle, doing what he loved, riding through Hart Park at 84 years old. 

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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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How to celebrate Fourth of July safely, avoid tragedy, and report illegal fireworks

June 25, 2021 | 2:25 pm


This year’s Independence Day is perhaps extra special as our country continues to slowly come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. And what better way to celebrate than with traditional Fourth of July fireworks?

But festivities and fun can turn to a terrible tragedy in an instant without proper safety practices.

In fact, about 11,000 people are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries each year. And in the month surrounding July 4, our nation sees about 200 fireworks injuries per day, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Serious burns, eye injuries, and even death can occur. Injuries to people aside, fireworks start nearly 20,000 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires.

“With fireworks, disaster and catastrophe can really happen in an instant,” said David Cohn, managing partner at personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We can celebrate our great nation’s Independence, and still be safe by taking steps to keep you and your families safe.”

 

LOCAL FIREWORKS

Locally, Kern County Fire Department received 2,410 reports of illegal fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in 2020, The Bakersfield Californian reported, with 703 calls coming through their dispatch center and 1,707 reports made online — a large increase over 2019, local fire officials said. Kern Fire also issued 35 citations and seized 2,000 pounds of illegal fireworks during last year’s Fourth of July weekend.

Local residents are encouraged to fill out a simple form (by clicking here) at any time to report illegal fireworks. You can also email [email protected] The Bakersfield Fire Department is allowing residents to drop off illegal fireworks at their downtown Bakersfield station.

As for other areas in Kern County:

  • Delano residents can report illegal fireworks to the Delano Police Department at 661-721-3377.
  • McFarland residents can report illegal fireworks to the McFarland Police Department at 792-2121. You can also text 428-1265 to report a tip.
  • Tehachapi residents can report illegal fireworks to the Tehachapi Police Department Communications Center at 822-2222.

The City of Bakersfield will hold a fireworks show 9:15 p.m. on July 4 at the Park at River Walk, 11298 Stockdale Highway. Musical accompaniment for the show will be provided by 97.3 The Bull, and attendees can tune in during the fireworks show for a simulcast. The event will also be livestreamed on 23ABC’s digital platforms, including turnto23.com, as well as Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV.

In Delano, a fireworks show — hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Delano and the city of Delano — will be held at dusk on Saturday, July 3, at dusk, from the North end of the Delano Airport.

Buttonwillow Recreation and Parks District is presenting its 14th Annual Fireworks Show on Saturday, July 3, at Buttonwillow Park. The event is free and the gates open at 6:30 p.m., with the fireworks show starting at 9 p.m. Lawn seating will only be available — bring lawn chairs or a blanket. Pre-show entertainment includes a cornhole tournament, music, small business vendors, BBQ, snow cones, cold drinks and other food.

A show at Lake Isabella starts at 9:30 p.m. at Engineer Point.

McFarland will hold its’ annual Fourth of July celebration on Saturday, July 3, with fireworks launching at 9 p.m. You should be able to see the show from any of the parks in McFarland.

In Shafter, a fireworks show is scheduled for Saturday, July 3, at Shafter Recreation Fields next to the high school football stadium. The evening will begin at 6 p.m., with the fireworks setting off at about 8:45 p.m.

In Taft, festivities will take place from 4 to 10 p.m. on July 4, at Franklin Field, featuring bounce houses, games, sports, food and craft vendors, and music. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. and are free to the community.

Tehachapi will be holding a fireworks show on July 4 as a part of its All-American Festival at the Philip Marx Central Park. That show begins at 9 p.m.

Wasco will hold a fireworks show on July 3 as part of its One Nation Festival at Beale Park.

 

FIREWORKS SAFETY

Chain | Cohn | Stiles offers the following safety tips to make sure your Fourth of July is as fun and safe as possible.

  • Never give fireworks to small children, or allow them to ignite fireworks.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, and away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • Never light them indoors.
  • Never use illegal fireworks.

If someone is injured by fireworks, here’s what you can do:

  • If an eye injury happens, don’t let the injured person touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Don’t flush the eye out with water or try to put any ointment on it. Cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and get medical care right away — eyesight may depend on it.
  • If someone suffers a burn, remove clothing from the burned area, and call your doctor immediately.
  • If someone is injured due to the negligence of someone else, please contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles immediately to receive legal assistance, be compensated for injuries suffered, and continue to get medical care in the future.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles in recent years has represented victims of fireworks accidents and other burn injury cases. In 2014 attorney David Cohn represented two men who suffered from severe injuries caused in a fireworks accident while attending a party on Fourth of July in west Bakersfield. The two men arrived at the party where party-goers were allegedly setting off illegal fireworks and explosives. A blast injured two people, and the case settled in 2018 for $2.3 million.

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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.

Free Consultation? Keep These Points In Mind When Meeting With A Lawyer On Your Injury Case

June 16, 2021 | 6:00 am


You always hear about “free consultations” by lawyers, but what does that really mean, and what should a great consultation look like for someone who needs legal help?

Accident and injury attorney Matt Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles answers this frequently asked legal question in a new video below, and we share everything you need to know below about consultations from an accident and injury lawyer.

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Accident and personal injury claims can be complicated, which is why it’s most important to hire an experienced and reputable attorney. There are three main points to keep in mind when beginning the hiring process and meeting with a lawyer for a free consultation:

1) Make sure it’s a reputable law firm or lawyer giving you a consultation. Do your research. Look at reviews and comments from past clients. Negative reviews and lack of client feedback is a big red flag. Remember, personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers should be helping clients move forward with their lives. Don’t hesitate to ask a potential lawyer for references.

2) Make sure you’re meeting with an actual attorney. You’d be surprised how often injured clients never get to meet with an attorney either before their case is signed up, or during a case. That is unacceptable. A lawyer should always be available to meet with you and answer any questions you may have about your case from the first meeting on.

3) A consultation should be free, confidential, and with no obligation to commit. Anything other than free, confidential, and no-pressure meetings is never OK.

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Once you decide which attorneys you’ll meet with about your case, you’ll want to be aware of several things in preparation for the initial consultation. Most injury lawyers offer an initial consultation at no charge. Here are 5 points to keep in mind before you sit down with an attorney to discuss your case:

1) You Can Ask Questions: You want to make sure you hire someone you feel comfortable with, who you can trust, and who has your best interest at heart. Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • What is your experience with my type of case?
  • What is your success record?
  • Who will actually be working on my case? Make sure your case isn’t handed off to a paralegal or legal assistant. You want to make sure an actual lawyer is taking care of your case.
  • Who can I talk to if I have questions during my case? An attorney should always be available to answer any of your questions.
  • How long does it take to resolve a case like mine? Potential lawyers should be able to give you a rough estimate.
  • What is my case worth? A good, experienced lawyer should also have a good idea of what your case is worth. Be wary of attorneys who make estimates that seem unrealistic.

2) Fees: A consultation should always be free and confidential, and the injury lawyers should always work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing out of pocket until the legal team recovers money damages in your case through a settlement or verdict. At that point, the lawyer is given a percentage of that award, typically between 33% and 40% if the case is taken to trial. Review the contract and agree on the structure before signing it. In this format, the attorney is responsible for any legal costs if a case is unsuccessful, not the client.

3) Gather Evidence: The lawyer, too, can decide whether or not he or she wants to take your case. Be sure to come to your free consultation with any evidence of you incident and subsequent injuries. This could include photographs of the scene or injuries, a police report, and medical records. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the records; if a lawyer is interested in your case, the legal team will be able to gather all of that information for you. The attorney will also have some questions, including detail about any accident.

4) Legal Team: You need to feel comfortable working with and trusting the attorney and legal team you ultimately choose. Some law firms send non-attorneys to sign up your case, or even pretend to be local when their offices are actually in another city. Still others shift work to non-lawyers. Many lawyers, also, will take on too many cases, causing unnecessary delays. Lawyers should also focus on taking each to a jury trial, even this likely won’t be necessary. This guarantees each case reaches its fullest value, and your case isn’t settled for less.

5) No Agreement: While you have a choice on who to hire, the attorney too might not accept your case due to a number of factors: conflict of interest, statute of limitations expired, minor injuries and small recovery, you caused the accident, or the attorney doesn’t have expertise in your case. If a lawyer can’t help you with your case, he or she should be able to refer you to someone who could help.

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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.

How to identify, report elder abuse and neglect, and raise awareness to end these tragic cases

June 9, 2021 | 9:03 am


It’s hard to imagine that anyone would deliberately want to harm an elderly person — senior citizens, after all, are some of our frailest and most vulnerable citizens. Yet, elder abuse and neglect is a widespread problem.

California sees more than 175,000 cases of reported elder abuse cases each year, according to Kern County Aging & Adult Services. And officials estimate that for every case known to reporting agencies, 24 cases go unreported.

For Elder Abuse Awareness Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to draw attention to this problem and provide facts, prevention tips, vital resources, and other information to help reduce neglect and abuse (World Elder Abuse Awareness Day this year takes place June 15). The law firm has been at the forefront in fighting for victims of elder abuse and neglect in Bakersfield, Kern County and throughout the state.

Read below to learn more about elder abuse and neglect, and how we can work together to bring these cases to an end.

 

WHAT IS ELDER ABUSE / NEGLECT

Some instances of elder abuse are intended to exploit the person financially, including scams targeting seniors. In other cases, it’s simple negligence: Caregivers don’t provide the basic necessities, like nutritious food, appropriate medication, safety, or assistance with hygiene. Abuse can include physical, emotional, financial, abandonment, isolation, and neglect.

Here are five facts about elder abuse:

  1. Elder abuse instances happen mostly in the home where the senior lives.
  2. One in every 10 elder adults experience some form of abuse in their lifetime.
  3. The most common form of abuse is financial exploitation and extortion.
  4. In around 90% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member.
  5. Only one of every six instances of elder abuse and neglect is reported.

The purpose of elder abuse awareness is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed neglect and abuse tragedies in elder care and nursing home throughout the United States, including in Kern County. Local skilled nursing facilities experienced COVID-19 outbreaks that affected staff and residents alike. During the pandemic, Kern County Department of Public Health requested immediate help with staffing shortages at Kingston Health Care Facility in Bakersfield, and healthcare professionals throughout the state were sent to assist the facility.

A report by media agency Al Jazeera English highlighted how an elder care system already in crisis imploded under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic. The coverage included an interview with Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark, an elder abuse and neglect lawyer.

 

REPORTING ELDER ABUSE, NEGLECT

So why does elder abuse go unreported? Many times, elders have no family to report to. They also fear retaliation from “caregivers,” or they feel shame in regards to abuse. Another reason is they fear they will lose independence, or fear they will upset their own family members. Many times, however, victims simply lack understanding of how to report abuse.

Another issue lies is recognizing elder abuse and neglect. In fact, elder abuse can take many forms including:

  • Physical abuse: Inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior (slapping, bruising or restraining by physical or chemical means).
  • Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Neglect: The failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Exploitation: The illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
  • Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts (humiliating, intimidating, or threatening).
  • Abandonment: Desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
  • Self-neglect: Characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety.

So, how do you recognize elder abuse and neglect, and what are the warning signs. Here are a few of them:

  • Bruises, broken bones, abrasions and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene and unusual weight loss.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person.
  • If you notice changes in a senior’s personality or behavior, you should start to question what is going on.

It’s important to alert others if you have suspicions, and to retain an attorney. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. To report cases of elder abuse, whether it is on your own behalf or that of someone you know, please call Adult Protective Services as part of the Kern County Aging & Adult Services, or contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

  • Adult Protective Services responds to reports from individuals, concerned citizens, social service and health providers, and law enforcement representatives about developmental disabled adults, physically and mentally disabled adults, and the elderly who may be physically or financially abused, neglected, or exploited. Upon receipt of a referral, APS sends a social worker to make a home visit or contact the elder or dependent adult.
    • 24-Hour Hotline: 800-277-7866 or 661-868-1006
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program investigates elder abuse complaints in long-term care facilities and in residential care facilities for the elderly. The primary responsibility of the program is to investigate and endeavor to resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, individual residents in these facilities, including nursing homes, residential care facilities for the elderly, and assisted living facilities. The goal of the program is to advocate for the rights of all residents in long term care.
    • Phone: 661-323-7884

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Know the symptoms of abuse: Bedsores, bruises, or chafing could indicate that your loved one is being restrained to a bed or wheelchair, or otherwise physically abused. If he or she has recently lost weight, malnutrition or dehydration could be at play, while poor hygiene is also an indicator of possible abuse. Watch, too, for changes in the person’s mood; if they seem depressed, anxious, agitated, or listless, see if you can discover why. In short, any changes to an elder’s behavior, disposition or physical condition could be cause for concern.

If you suspect something, say something: If you do detect signs of abuse, document them. Take pictures of bruises or injuries, get a statement from the victim or any witnesses, and keep a log of any suspicious behavior or circumstances. You can then address your concerns with the manager or director of the long-term care facility or home care provider; if they do not take action, contact the police or an elder abuse attorney.

Spread the word with social media: There really is no better way to get the word out and foster awareness than through social platforms. Share informational articles and use the hashtag #WEAAD.

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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.

June is for summer, sunshine, and safety

June 2, 2021 | 11:14 am


With June comes summer, sun, and, we hope, safety.

June is National Safety Month, an opportunity to help prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths at work, on the roads, and in our homes and communities. With the United States is seeing the highest number of workplace deaths since 2007 – more than 5,000 fatal workplace injuries in 2019 – this observance is more important than ever. Additionally, more than 42,000 people estimated to have died on the roads in 2020, the highest number of motor vehicle deaths since 2007, according to National Safety Council.

“Dangerous circumstances can present themselves everywhere during the summer days,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “It’s important for each of us to do our part to keep ourselves, our neighbors, and our loved ones as safe as possible in June for National Safety Month, and beyond.”

National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health and the National Safety Council highlights weekly work-focused themes of emergency preparedness, wellness, falls and driving. You can find more information on these themes below, with some tips courtesy of Chain | Cohn | Stiles:

 

Emergency Preparedness

The message here is, “prevent incidents before they start.” Emergency situations can happen at any time, making it a priority to be prepared for the unexpected before it happens.

  • Research and prepare for natural disasters that may occur, like an earthquake.
  • Create an emergency kit for both your home and car.
  • Create a home emergency plan with your family and learn how to shut off your utilities.
  • Be a good participant in emergency drills at work and school by following instructions and paying attention to lessons learned.
  • Store important phone numbers, including those of family members, with other important documents in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box.
  • Learn first aid and CPR for children and adults.
  • Stock your emergency kits.

In the workplace, emergency situations can happen at any time including natural disasters, fires, active shooter situations or chemical or gas releases. Actively participate in workplace drills.

 

Wellness

As the pandemic continues, employers play an important role in expanding operations and returning remote workers to physical workspaces, building trust around vaccines, supporting mental health and much more.

Additionally, getting enough sleep is important to do your job safely. Sleep plays a more vital role in ensuring the safety and health of workers and the people they serve. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep every day is key.

High stress levels, especially for prolonged periods of time, can lead to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Work-related stress can lead to risk of injury and depression, which contributes to absenteeism, presenteeism (workers going to work when they are sick), disability, and unemployment. Providing training for supervisors on approaches to reducing stressful working conditions can improve employee health, reduce turnover, and increase employee retention.

 

Falls

Falls remain a persistent but preventable problem in the workplace. In fact, falls are the No. 1 cause of construction-worker fatalities, accounting for one-third of on-the-job deaths in the industry.

The highest number of nonfatal fall injuries continue to be associated with the health services and the wholesale and retail industries. Overall falls are the third leading cause of unintentional-injury-related deaths for all ages and the No. 1 cause of death for those 65 and older, according to Injury Facts.

 

Driving

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S. All workers are at risk of crashes, whether driving light or heavy vehicles, or whether driving is a main or incidental job duty. Up to 94 percent of motor vehicle crashes involve human error. There are simple actions you can take to stay safe while driving:

  • Buckle up every trip. It only takes a second to save a life.
  • Do not drive drowsy. Stop and take breaks as needed.
  • Focus on driving and stay alert. Other drivers on the road may be impaired, fatigued or distracted.
  • Avoid impaired driving, whether by alcohol, lack of sleep or drugs, including over the counter and prescription medication.
  • Avoid cell phone distracted driving, including hands-free.
  • Make sure all occupants are properly secured in age-appropriate restraints.
  • Never leave a child alone in a car and always keep your car locked when not in use.
  • Regularly check your vehicle for recalls at CheckToProtect.org and stay up to date on the safety features in your car by visiting MyCarDoesWhat.org.
  • Educate teens and all inexperienced drivers about the safety features present in the vehicle and how they work.

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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.

‘Look Twice And Save A Life’. Sharing The Road Is Vital For Motorcycle Safety

May 19, 2021 | 6:00 am


Preliminary state data shows that more than 500 people were killed in motorcycle-involved crashes in 2020, and more than 11,500 people were injured in California, according to the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.

In all, California has more than 1.4 million licensed motorcycle riders, and Kern County riders certainly make up a large percentage. So, with May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles reminds us all to make sure motorcyclists and drivers stay safe on the road, by sharing the road.

“Motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable people on our roadways, which is why it’s vital for us all to be mindful of all riders, as we are drivers,” said Matt Clark, senior partner at accident attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “For drivers, taking the time to look twice for motorcyclists can save a life.”

Accidents involving motorcycles account for nearly 15 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States, but motorcyclists make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

One way to make sure motorcyclists stay fresh on riding safety is to enroll in the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, which trains about 55,000 motorcyclists each year. To find a training site near you, visit motorcyclesafetyca.com.

To help drivers and motorcyclists alike on the road, here are some tips to prevent motorcycle-related collisions.

DRIVERS

  • Always us a turn signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful. Motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
  • Stay alert. Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Follow at a safe distance when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
  • Never drive distracted or impaired.
  • Motorcyclists can increase their safety by following these steps:

MOTORCYCLISTS

  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
  • Ride safely when lane sharing and always proceed at safe speeds.
  • Get properly licensed, and obey all traffic laws.
  • Use turn signals at every lane change or turn.
  • Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
  • Ride safely when lane sharing and always proceed at safe speeds.
  • Never ride distracted or impaired.

 

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT Q&As

In times of tragedy, clients often have a number of questions regarding their case. To better accommodate our clients’ needs, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions and answers for many of the practice areas that the firm specializes in, including motorcycle accidents. Here are a few of the questions and answers:

Is an investigation of my motorcycle accident case important?

It is critical. Since there is almost a presumption in the general public that motorcyclists assume the risk for their own injuries and they are usually at fault for causing accidents, it is essential that a quick and thorough investigation is performed to establish fault on other responsible people or entities and to establish that the motorcyclist did little or nothing to contribute to the accident.

Investigation should consist of an examination of the scene, an examination of the instrumentalities that were involved in the accident, obtaining statements from witnesses and obtaining the reports from investigating agencies. Of prime importance is maintaining the motorcycle and helmet in the exact condition they were in at the moment when the motorcyclist came to rest after an accident.

How long do I have after my accident to file my motorcycle injury case?

A motorcycle accident or wrongful death action, under California law, must be brought within two years of the date of the accident.

In cases against public entities, a claim must be filed against the public entity within six months from the date of the accident. If the plaintiff is a minor, a minor has until their 19th birthday to bring a case unless there is a government claim in which a minor should bring the claim within six months of the accident, or one year at the latest.

Is it important to retain an attorney for my motorcycle accident case?

Yes, if the motorcycle accident has resulted in a serious injury or death. Without an attorney, there will always be an assumption that the motorcyclist was at fault and evidence will be gathered by the other side to support that contention. You need to hire an attorney to perform investigation and retain the right experts to prove your case and your injuries. Further, through the litigation, an attorney will be able to cross-examine witnesses against you and hopefully turn their testimony to your favor.

 

KERN COUNTY CASES

The attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have successfully represented people who have been seriously injured in motorcycle accidents. In fact, we have obtained more multi-million dollar personal injury case results on behalf of our clients than any other law firm in Kern County.

In one recent case, the defendant entered the roadway and did not allow enough room for the plaintiff on a motorcycle to enter with traffic approaching, causing him to be hit by crane. The plaintiff in that case lost his right leg, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles helped resolve the lawsuit for $10 million.

In another case, the plaintiff was riding a motorcycle when the defendant in a truck that was parked on the side of the road pulled out in front of the motorcyclist. The crash caused the plaintiff to be thrown 50 yards down the road, and suffered severe injuries. That case resolved for $4.5 million.

And on July 14, 2015, Larry Maharrey was driving his motorcycle eastbound on Norris Road, when a Kern County Sheriff’s deputy abruptly made a left turn against a red light onto Airport Drive directly into Maharrey’s path. Maharrey was unable to avoid the collision with the deputy’s patrol vehicle, and died as a result of the crash. The deputy violated KCSO policies and procedures by failing to pre-clear the intersection before turning left against a red light. Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a wrongful death claim against the County of Kern on behalf of Maharrey’s wife, Paula, and other family members. A settlement was reached in April 2018 for $3.8 million.

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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.

Arrest Made In Fatal Hit-And-Run Crash Following 9-Month Investigation, Chain | Cohn | Stiles Reward Offer

May 12, 2021 | 5:00 am


A 42-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of causing the fatal hit-and-run crash last year that killed 65-year-old Deborah Ann Geneau, a case in which Chain | Cohn | Stiles and the Geneau family offered a reward.

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. That vehicle turned into the bike path parking area across from CSUB immediately after the collision, police said. It had driver’s side damage.

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.

“On behalf of the Geneau family, I want to extend their sincerest thank you to Bakersfield Police Department, and especially Officer Chad Ott,” said Chain | Cohn | Stiles lawyer Matt Clark, the Geneau family’s attorney. “It is a direct result of Officer Ott’s persistence and tenaciousness that a suspect has been brought to justice.”

After Bakersfield Police Department completed its report into the crash, which was 165-pages long, officers recommended felony charges against the driver, including hit-and-run, vehicular manslaughter, and unsafe lane change. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has 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.

Bakersfield Police Department released a video of surveillance camera angles. The angles included traffic cameras and footage from a Golden Empire Transportation bus that was in the vicinity of the crash.

At a previous press conference in July 2020 at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, husband Rick Geneau, husband of Debbie, 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.”

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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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CRASH MEDIA COVERAGE

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles Selected in 2021 ‘Best of Kern County’ Poll (Best Lawyer / Best Law Firm / Best Business)

April 28, 2021 | 5:00 am


As we all experienced, the past year was incredibly tough, especially for local businesses.

Still, Chain | Cohn | Stiles remained open during the pandemic as local residents in Kern County still needed legal help. This included current clients with active cases at the law firm, as well as those who suffered injuries in accidents and were new to hiring our law firm.

Those circumstances make this year’s “Best of Kern County” Readers’ Choice Poll results in Bakersfield Life Magazine extra special, as Chain | Cohn | Stiles was chosen in in the top three in these categories:

  • Best Law Firm
  • Best Lawyer (David Cohn)
  • Best Medium-Large Business

This is the ninth year in a row that the law firm has been selected into the “Best Law Firm” category, each year since the category was introduced. Attorney David Cohn has been selected into the category multiple times. This is the first year the poll has made available “Best Medium-Large Business” as category.

“The annual Best of Readers’ Choice Poll showcases the best of the best — from food and shopping to entertainment and services — as decided by those who call Bakersfield home,” editors of Bakersfield Life Magazine said. “Even though 2020 saw many changes locally and the pandemic impacted all types of businesses, readers still showed up to honor their favorites around town.”

Law firm managing partner David Cohn added: “We are committed to helping our injured neighbors day in and day out, no matter what is going on in our world. We are incredibly grateful, and will continue to work on behalf of the amazing people of Kern County.”

For more than 25 years, The Bakersfield Californian has conducted the Best of Readers’ Choice Poll to showcase the people, places and things that make Kern County truly unique. In 2019, Chain | Cohn | Stiles was inducted in the inaugural “Best of Kern County Hall of Fame,” awarded to honorees with a long history of excellence in their respective fields, and who also give back to our community.

See the full 2021 results, and the full issue of Bakersfield Life Magazine in the links at the bottom of this article.

Nationally, Chain | Cohn | Stiles was selected for inclusion in the 2020 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report. Law firms included in “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for “professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers,” according to U.S. News & World Report. Achieving a ranking “signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is an established and highly regarded personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm based in downtown Bakersfield since 1934, and today focuses on advocating for injured clients in the Central Valley and throughout California. Over the years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has obtained more multi-million dollar awards and settlements than any other law firm in Kern County. It’s also the oldest personal injury law firm in the area, and dedicated to giving back to its community in various ways. In all, the law firm has received more than half a billion dollars in the firm’s history on behalf of clients.

The law firm includes attorneys David Cohn, Jim Yoro, Matt ClarkChad BoylesBeatriz TrejoTanya Alsheikh, and Doug Fitz-Simmons. To learn more about each attorney, visit chainlaw.com.

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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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Crashes Caused By Speeding Have Spiked. Can New Automated Cameras Help Slow Drivers?

April 21, 2021 | 5:00 am


As the year of pandemic lockdowns and stay-at-home orders comes to an end, Americans are returning to deadlier streets.

Traffic deaths in the United States increased in 2020, even as people drove less because of the COVID-19 pandemic. National Safety Council estimates that 4.8 million people were injured in crashes last year and more than 42,000 people died in vehicle crashes, the latter of which is an 8% increase over 2019 and the first jump in four years. In addition, the fatality rate per 100 million miles driven spiked 24%, the largest annual percentage increase since the council began collecting data in 1923.

The reason: More people were speeding as roadways emptied, and police stopped enforcing as many traffic stops to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Those who ventured out found open lanes that invited reckless driving, leading to a sharp increase in traffic-crash deaths across the country, experts say.

Of the reckless behaviors, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show speed to be the top factor, and the high number of speeding drivers is continuing even as traffic is starting to return to pre-pandemic levels. In California, citations issued by the state highway patrol for speeding over 100 mph roughly doubled to 31,600 during the pandemic’s first year.

As an aside, seatbelt use has gone down, and more people have died in crashes with alcohol or other drugs in their system, according to a National Safety Council analysis of trauma centers.

“We need to address traffic violence on our streets,” said David Cohn, managing partner of Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We are seeing risk-taking driving leading to dramatic numbers of injuries and deaths that are 100 percent preventable. It’s terrifying what we’re seeing on our roads.”

Lawmakers have introduced dozens of bills to lower speed limits, set up speed camera programs and promote pedestrian safety.

 

SPEED LIMITS

Different states are addressing the speeding issue in various ways:
  • Some states want to boost the authority of localities to regulate traffic in their communities, such as giving cities and counties more control over speed limits, as legislators have proposed in Michigan, Nebraska and other states.
  • Some want to let communities use speed cameras, which is under consideration in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida and elsewhere.
  • Connecticut is considering a pedestrian safety bill that incorporates multiple concepts, including giving localities greater authority to lower speeds, and letting some municipalities test speed cameras around schools, hospitals and work zones.

California uses something called the “85th percentile” method, a decades-old federal standard. Here’s how it works:

Every 10 years, state engineers survey a stretch of road to see how fast people are driving. Then they base the speed limit on the 85th percentile of that speed, or how fast 85% of drivers are going. a federal report found the 85th percentile rule similarly inadequate to set speeds.

In addition to lowering speed limits, lawmakers also want to better enforce them. In California, two bills would reverse the state’s ban on automated speed enforcement by allowing cities to start speed camera pilot programs in places such as work zones, on particularly dangerous streets and around schools.

 

SPEED CAMERAS

California cities could soon set up automated cameras to catch and ticket speeders on their most dangerous streets. Also known as automated speed enforcement, the cameras measure the speeds of passing cars and snap photos of those going a certain mph over the limit, then mail a ticket to the owner. The cameras can be particularly effective on high-speed streets where serious crashes are common, some experts say. Drivers would be less likely to blast through an area they know has cameras, and while speeders wouldn’t be stopped in the moment, getting a ticket in the mail would make them slowdown in the future.

Assembly member David Chiu of San Francisco, who authored Assembly Bill 550 on automated cameras, says the measure includes safeguards to make the speed camera program fair. It would cap fees at $125, with a sliding scale for low-income drivers, and make violations civil offenses, not criminal.

Several California cities have for years used cameras to catch people who run red lights. But state law as it is currently written doesn’t authorize automated cameras to enforce speed limits. The legislation would authorize local transportation departments and Caltrans to use the cameras in pilot programs, and set up a state work group to create policies for the technology.

While conventional speeding tickets in California often cost hundreds of dollars and add “points” that could lead to the suspension of a driver’s license, fines generated by the cameras under the new bill would not generate points and would be capped at a total cost, fees included, of no more than $125.

Chiu’s bill also limits who can access photos, bans the use of facial-recognition technology in the cameras and requires programs to provide a diversion option for less-wealthy drivers who can’t afford to pay their fines.

“This has been about changing driver behavior,” Chiu told the San Jose Mercury News. “This is about saving lives and improving safety.”

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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.