The Reasons You Should Contact An Attorney If You’ve Been Injured On The Job

June 23, 2021 | 6:00 am


You get hurt on the job: What should you do, and when should you contact an attorney?

Chain | Cohn | Stiles work injury attorney Jim Yoro explains in a new video (below) four reasons when it’s important to contact a lawyer after you’ve been injured at work. We also share some bonus reasons you may want to contact a workers’ compensation attorney after being injured on the job.

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Hiring an attorney to handle your work injury claim costs nothing up front, and it gives you the best chance to receive a fair settlement or award for your injuries. But how do you know you actually need an attorney? Here are four reasons when it’s important to contact a lawyer after you’ve been injured at work:

1) If you think your employer has not filed a claim with their insurance company, you should contact a work injury lawyer. The worker’s compensation system in California has specific requirements that California employers and insurance companies must comply with when providing benefits to injured workers, and your employer is required to report your injury to its workers’ compensation insurance company. The employer must also give the injured employee a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC-1) to complete. If your employer refuses to report an injury, that is a red flag. They may be worried about safety violations, not having the right insurance, or a other potential issues.

2) If you expect to be out of work due to your injury, you should contact a work injury attorney. If you suffer permanent disability, either partial or total, that will prevent you from ever fully returning to work, insurance companies are more likely to contest such claims because they are the most expensive. Furthermore, if you have been released to work, but you can only do modified or alternative work, and your employer does not provide you a position that meets your restrictions, you may be entitled to additional benefits to help you get back to work. These benefits are called “supplemental job displacement benefits.” They are designed to help you get some training so you can go into a different line of work. If your employer cannot permanently accommodate your new restrictions, then you may be entitled to receive a retraining voucher. If your employers insurance company is refusing to provide you this voucher or has provided work that does not meet your restrictions or seems unreasonable, it is time to call in a workers’ compensation lawyer.

3) If you’re going to need medical treatment, you should contact an attorney. Your medical issues can prevent you from returning to your job, limit what you can do at work, or keep you from performing any work at all. If you’ve suffered permanent disability — whether partial or total — you may be entitled to payments to make up for your lost wages. These cases can be very expensive for insurance companies, and they’ll often stop at nothing to avoid paying you what you deserve. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney is essential in cases involving permanent injuries or illness.

4) If your employer or their insurance company seems unwilling to help you after an accident or injury at work, you should contact a work accident lawyer. You are entitled to medical care, lost wages, job training, and other benefits under California law if you are hurt on the job. It is supposed to be that straightforward. The most common reason employers deny a claim for benefits is because they do not think an employee was actually hurt at work or that an injury was not caused by something work-related. Employers and workers’ comp insurers also routinely reject legit claims, confident that many workers will fail to appeal.

 

On the other end, you may NOT need to contact a work injury lawyer if your employer and their insurance company if after you report your injury, the insurance company promptly contact you and starts providing you with benefits you’re entitled to receive under California law.

“If at any point, things start looking different, such as the insurance company is not paying you on time, you’re not getting the medical treatment requested, or there is a problem with getting a release to go back to work, that’s when would be a good idea to contact a lawyer,” says Yoro.

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Besides the above, here are a few other reasons you may want to contact an attorney after being injured on the job:

  • You were injured because of a third party‘s actions or your employer’s serious negligence. The workers’ comp system was designed to prevent civil lawsuits for work-related injuries. However, you are permitted to sue outside workers’ comp in certain situations, including when someone other than your employer contributed to your injury (such as a negligent driver who hit you while you were driving for work), your employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance, or your employer intentionally caused your injury. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain how the law applies to your situation.
  • If you plan to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, and if your settlement isn’t structured properly, your workers’ comp benefits could significantly lower Social Security disability payments. An experienced attorney will understand how to draft your settlement agreement to minimize or eliminate this offset.
  • If you are injured at work or while doing any activity that benefits your employer, and you are considered an employee under California law, then you should be getting workers’ compensation benefits.
  • If your boss retaliates against you for filing a workers’ comp claim, including firing you, demoting you, cutting your hours, reducing your pay, or discriminating, contact an attorney immediately to protect your legal rights. You should never be terminated by your employer just because you were injured on the job or because you have requested workers’ compensation benefits.
  • If you are having trouble communicating with the employer’s doctor, or the doctor does not seem to care about your well-being as much as your family physician might. If you want to make a change in your medical care, a workers’ compensation lawyer can be a great asset. He or she can provide helpful information about who would be the best person to use for your unique health situation and type of injury.
  • If you have permanent disability because of your work injury, your employer or their insurance company may offer to settle your claim. However, this settlement may not account for the full value of your disability. An attorney will be able to tell you about what the average workers’ compensation settlement might be for a case like yours.
  • Your employer’s settlement offer doesn’t cover all your lost wages or medical bills. If you’re not sure a settlement offer is good enough, don’t rely on the workers’ compensation judge to make sure that you’re getting a fair deal. Although workers’ comp settlements must have judicial approval, judges will usually sign off on any agreement as long as it’s not grossly unfair. If you really want someone to get you the best settlement possible, call an attorney.

In all, the average injured worker does not understand the workers’ compensation system. That means that you might not know how much money you are supposed to get after a work injury. Some people may not realize that they are supposed to get benefits at all. Many workers put a lot of trust in their employer or its insurance company and count on them to tell the worker what they should and should not do and how much money they should get. This trust is often misplaced, however.

The accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is home to two lawyers who are state certified as specialists in workers’ compensation law, awarded to legal professionals who have gone beyond the standard licensing requirements. In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is the only plaintiff’s law firm in Kern County that has two attorneys who are state certified as specialists in workers’ compensation. Learn more about Jim Yoro and Beatriz Trejo at 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.

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.

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

May 5, 2021 | 5:00 am


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BIKE MONTH

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

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

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

 

CRASH CHECKLIST

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

Immediately after a crash

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

When the police arrive

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

In the days after the crash

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

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

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files lawsuit in the choking death of 21-year-old at local for-profit care facility

March 31, 2021 | 8:44 am


Ryan Kowal, 21, had severe autism and required one-on-one care “at all times” when he was placed in the care of SAILS Westbrook Crisis Home in Bakersfield. That care was most important during meal times, as Ryan required a soft food-only diet due to his risk for choking.

Supervisors at SAILS Westbrook Crisis Home, a vendor of Kern County Regional Center and Golden Gate Regional Center, signed care plans confirming such knowledge. So, it was alarming to the Kowal family when Ryan choked while eating a corn dog, causing Ryan to lose consciousness and go into cardiac arrest. He had to be revived by emergency personnel, and spent days in the hospital recovering.

But it was a preventable tragedy when, 7 months later on Jan. 23, Ryan was left alone again with easy access to food that posed a choking hazard. While Ryan was left alone with no supervision, he accessed what is believed to be crackers, ate a large amount of the crackers, choked and died.

The Kowal family, along with attorney Matt Clark at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, say this is a warning to families of special-needs children and adults everywhere to beware of for-profit care facilities who sacrifice appropriate support and care, which they are contractually obligated to provide, to increase profit margins.

“SAILS Westbrook knew Ryan’s needs and care requirements, accepted him as a resident in its home, being paid by taxpayers to provide him the appropriate supervision and provide for his needs,” states the lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles on behalf of the Kowal family. “A lack of oversight from both regional centers, and SAILS Westbrook’s desire for profit, caused Ryan’s tragic death.”

Ryan’s parents Treena and John Kowal, along with their attorney Matt Clark, spoke with local media to discuss Ryan’s tragic death, their wrongful death lawsuit, and the state of for-profit care facilities. To see the media interviews and coverage, click the links at the listing below.

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

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Family of fatal New Year’s Eve crash victim, Chain | Cohn | Stiles speak about dangers of impaired driving

February 23, 2021 | 4:04 pm


The year 2020 is a year many of us are glad is in the past, but for the families of three young people who died in a New Year’s Eve crash, they would give anything to go back in time. And one of those local families is hoping their kind of loss is the last in our community.

The family of Andrew Ortiz – mother Sasha McKeen, stepfather Steven McKeen, and father Michael Ortiz – recently spoke with Jeff Platt at KBAK-29 Eyewitness News about the crash, their son, and the dangers of driving under the influence and unbuckled. They were joined also by Matt Clark, accident and injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Adam Teasdale, 21, was charged with three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of DUI causing bodily injury for the crash at Brimhall Road and Jewetta Avenue in northwest Bakersfield that killed Timothy Michael Wilson, Devin Lee Atha and Andrew Nicholas Ortiz, all 20. A fourth passenger suffered minor injuries.

Police said they believe Teasdale was driving about 60 mph when he swerved and lost control. The car went onto the raised concrete median and slammed into a tree, according to reports. The three people in the back were thrown through the window.

Police found “whip-it” canisters of nitrous oxide — which provide a brief high by inhaling the gas — and a bottle of consumed Fireball Whiskey at the crash scene, according to the media reports. A nitrous oxide canister was also found in one of Teasdale’s pockets.

“I just killed my friends,” he said, according to a witness who lives near where the crash. “Why did I swerve.”

Teasdale refused to take any field sobriety tests at the scene, according to media reports, and would only consent to a blood draw if he was arrested. One officer stated that Teasdale “displayed sings of being under the influence of alcohol.” He also said the devil was inside him.

Teasdale is being held on $1 million bail and is due in court March 26. He has pleaded not guilty.

“You may be lucky 99 times out of 100, but that last time your luck may run out,” Michael Ortiz, father of Andrew Ortiz, said in a statement. “I’m heartbroken by this tragedy. I hope someone will learn from it, and make a good decision to not drive impaired.”

Following the fatal crash, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County also shared with media other dangers and consequences of impaired driving, including hefty fines, court costs, attorney’s fees and suspension of a license. It’s much cheaper, and safer, to call an Uber or Lyft for a ride home.

“No one has to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking or impaired by drugs, it is that simple,” said Michael Yraceburn, board member for the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States.

“We suffer a lot here in Kern County, Bakersfield area from the tragic loss of impaired driving,” Yraceburn said. “Protect yourself and protect those that you love.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Since the law firm’s involvement with the first Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, MADD Kern County has raised nearly $400,000 to help local victims of impaired driving crashes. For its work, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been recognized and honored on several occasions, including receiving a “Community Champion” award and “Pursuit of Justice” award, among others.

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

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Nursing homes become ‘ground zero’ during COVID crisis in the United States and Kern County, Al Jazeera reports

December 9, 2020 | 5:00 am


More than 60,000 nursing home residents have died of COVID-19 in the United States. They account for roughly a quarter of all coronavirus fatalities in the country. So, what makes nursing homes so vulnerable to this pandemic?

A new report by media agency Al Jazeera English answers that question with the help of Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark. In its “Fault Lines” series, Al Jazeera reports on how an elder care system already in crisis imploded under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, which includes an interview with Clark, an elder abuse and neglect lawyer.

“When the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, nursing homes became ground zero,” Al Jazeera reported. “By November, more than 60,000 nursing home residents had died of COVID-19, accounting for roughly a quarter of all fatalities nationwide. Yet the nursing home industry had already struggled with chronic problems before the pandemic. From allegations of systematic understaffing to toothless government oversight, ‘Fault Lines’ examines what made residents and workers so vulnerable. Fault Lines meets relatives who accuse nursing homes of neglect – and asks if some facilities put profit before patients.”

The investigation focuses on Bakersfield’s own Kingston Healthcare Center, which is listed by the federal government as a “special focus” facility, one that officials monitor due to serious concerns about the quality of care. The report also highlights the shady business practices and structures of nursing homes, and the impact on real local families with loves ones in these facilities, as well as employees who feel they are being put in danger.

You can watch the full segment here:

 

As Al Jazeera reports, patients and their families have filed 192 formal complaints against it, compared with the state average of 21.

In America, the vast majority of long-term care facilities are private enterprises that rely on state funding, creating incentives that put profits over people, Al Jazeera reports. Operators receive government money on a per-patient basis, with the government doling out more money for some patients than others. In the most egregious circumstances, officials have accused nursing homes of a practice known as “dumping,” ejecting one person and replacing them with more billable patients.

As COVID numbers continue to rise, nursing homes will likely once again become hotspots this winter. Another expert in the report called nursing homes during this period “this country’s killing fields.”

Earlier this year, local media reported on the COVID-19 outbreak affecting staff and residents at Kingston, and subsequent takeover by the California Department of Public Health.

Matthew Clark shared with 23ABC News that families with loved ones in the Kingston facility have reached out to the law firm about the quality of care since the COVID pandemic. He says over the last three years his firm has had around a half dozen cases against the facility.

“… Any case we’ve had against Kingston or any other elder care facility for that matter, it almost results from inadequate staffing. It’s an inadequate amount of staffing that leads to poor patient care. Poor patient care leads to poor patient outcomes. Poor patient outcomes especially in the elder care world often times leads to death,” Clark said in an interview with 23ABC.

Clark shared with viewers that the best way for people to review nursing home conduct and reports is my visiting Medicare.gov. Users can research any skilled nursing facility, and check ratings and staffing ratios.

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If you or someone you know experiences elder abuse or neglect, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the law firm’s specialized website focused on elder abuse at bakersfieldelderabuse.com.

To report cases of abuse locally, whether it is on your own behalf or that of someone you know, please call Adult Protective Services or 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

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles participates in community ‘Real Talk’ discussions focused on race relations in America

September 16, 2020 | 10:00 am


Following the death of George Floyd while in police custody, and the nationwide protests that followed, Bakersfield College aimed to bring us all together. With the help of local media personality Danny Morrison, the college organized a full week of conversations, events, and celebrations for Juneteenth, a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

BC continued with a two-week virtual series called “Real Talk” to discuss racism and violence, and ways to overcome these issues; to “Light A Candle” and “Shine A Light” so to speak.

“It is a dark and confusing time, which makes it harder to see how to move forward,” Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian wrote on her blog. “But as Bakersfield College Renegades, we owe it to our community, to our veterans, and we each owe it to George Floyd, to join together, listen with humility, and to bring light that can illuminate the way ahead.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles was proud to join in on the conversations as well. Attorney Matt Clark joined Morrison and Bob Prater — author of “A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation” — to discuss white peoples’ roles in the ongoing racial conversation. Topics during the discussion included the Black Lives Matter movement, white identity, white supremacy, exploitation, and reverse racism.

“We understand this is a process and that people of color and people of all religions and races and backgrounds and creeds and socioeconomic backgrounds can all come together as one,” Morrison told local media about the series.

You can watch the full discussion at this link on the Chain | Cohn | Stiles YouTube page, or below.

And you can watch all of the “Real Talk” discussions on the Danny Morrison Media Facebook page by clicking here.

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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.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files lawsuit in the case of Wasco High coach convicted of sexual misconduct with student

August 26, 2020 | 10:30 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a lawsuit against the Wasco Union High School District on behalf of a student who was the victim of sexual misconduct by an assistant football coach at the high school.

Miguel Nicholas Saldana pleaded no contest to sending sexually explicit messages to the student, was sentenced to six months in jail, must perform 720 hours of community service and register as a sex offender, according to news reports.

Saldana, who was 23 years old at the time of the offenses, was an assistant football coach at Wasco High School as well as a Kern County detentions deputy. According to Kern County Sheriff’s Office reports, Saldana sent sexually explicit messages and asked for sexual favors from the student, who was 16 years old at the time, through Snapchat. The student then reported the messages to her mother, and then to school administrators.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a lawsuit against the Wasco Union High School District alleging failure to properly supervise the volunteer coach. In fact, Saldana sent messages while he was at football practice and sent sexually explicit pictures of himself while wearing Wasco High attire.

In a reprehensible component in the case, the law firm hired to defend the school district in the case — Robinson & Kellar — threatened in a letter to countersue the victim for as much as $70,000, stating the district was not responsible for the actions of the volunteer coach

“How would you interpret it?” Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark told KGET News. “I mean, it’s a threat, right? There’s a ‘Back off, dismiss your lawsuit or, should you ultimately lose, we’re going to pound you to the tune of $70,000.’”

Clark argues that illegal actions took place on school property, and the school could or should reasonably have known about the behavior. The civil case is ongoing.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing the victims of several other student victims of sexual misconduct while at school. The law firm filed claims on behalf of three students who were victims of sexual misconduct by a North High School equipment manager.

Edwin Rodriguez faces 13 counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old. Investigation reports state that Rodriguez sent sexually explicit messages to at least eight students through social media, and had sexual contact with several of them. He is in custody on $335,000 bail on the two cases. A trial has been scheduled for Sept. 18.

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

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Reward offered for information leading to the arrest in July 22 fatal hit-and-run crash

August 5, 2020 | 6:00 am


EDITORS NOTE / UPDATE (MAY 2021): Stephanie Heninger, 42, was arrested on suspicion of causing the fatal crash. The vehicle in the incident was seized in Riverside County, Bakersfield Police reported. The court case is ongoing. For media coverage, please see the listing below. 

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A reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect responsible for the July 22 hit-and-run crash near CSU Bakersfield that killed 65-year-old Deborah Ann Geneau.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles and family of Deborah Ann Geneau is offering a $2,500 reward to the person who helps identify the driver of a 2013-2019 dark gray Nissan Sentra that is suspected to causing the crash on Stockdale Highway near Don Hart Drive. That vehicle turned into bike path parking area across from CSUB immediately after the collision, police said. It has driver’s side damage.

Anyone with information is urged to call 326-3967 or the Kern Secret Witness line at (661) 322-4040.

“I spent yesterday at the mortuary collecting my mother’s belongings, including her crushed earrings and wedding ring. I couldn’t help but think about what the driver of the other vehicle might have been doing yesterday?” said Dawn Elliott, Deborah Ann Geneau’s daughter and only child, in a statement to media. “We really just want this person to come forward, or assistance to find the person responsible.”

Bakersfield Police Department released a new video of surveillance camera angles. The angles include traffic cameras and footage from a Golden Empire Transportation bus that was in the vicinity of the crash, police said. You can view the videos by clicking here.

“At this point, all indications are that this was an accident,” said Ray Pruitt, investigator with Chain | Cohn | Stiles, in a news conference. “But a person made a decision after being involved in a fatal accident to flee the scene. Now that person has to be held accountable.”

At the news conference for media 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.

“You see these lines on my face, they’re not from old age. They’re timelines that I’ve spent with my wife,” Rick Geneau told media. We all miss her deeply … I thought I was the strength of the family. Come to find out she was my strength.”

Our community — friends and strangers — have reached out to the family since the accident. The family is grateful for the outpouring of love, condolences, and support, Rick Geneau said. A GoFundMe page has been set up to pay for funeral expenses. Click here to access that page.

Rick Geneau, in speaking through media, said if the driver turned themselves in, he would stand beside them in court and ask for leniency.

“But if you don’t turn yourself in, I’ll be in court also and I’ll be seeking full prosecution to the max,” he said.

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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CRASH MEDIA COVERAGE

REWARD MEDIA COVERAGE

REWARD INCREASE MEDIA COVERAGE

NEW INFORMATION

ARREST COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark discusses COVID-19 outbreak at local skilled nursing facility, and how to protect loved ones

May 6, 2020 | 10:05 am


A local skilled nursing facility is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak affecting staff and residents alike, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles spoke with media on what people can do to protect their loved ones.

Kingston Healthcare Center, a skilled nursing facility in southwest Bakersfield, has reported 70 positive cases of the novel coronavirus as of May 5, according to data from the California Department of Public Health. The Kern County Department of Public Health said the facility requested immediate help with staffing shortages, and healthcare professionals throughout the state were sent to assist the facility.

The nursing home in a statement to media said they are working with health officials to manage confirmed cases. The facility said they’ve increased their housekeeping services and currently have appropriate personal protective equipment for staff.

“California Department of Public Health is on-site daily at the center and working together with center staff to ensure infection control process are being followed and assisting with some staffing needs,” according to the statement

Matthew Clark, Chain | Cohn | Stiles elder abuse and elder neglect attorney and senior partner, shared with 23ABC News that families with loved ones in the Kingston facility have reached out to the law firm about the quality of care since the COVID pandemic. He says over the last three years his firm has had around a half dozen cases against the facility.

“… Any case we’ve had against Kingston or any other elder care facility for that matter, it almost results from inadequate staffing. It’s an inadequate amount of staffing that leads to poor patient care. Poor patient care leads to poor patient outcomes. Poor patient outcomes especially in the elder care world often times leads to death,” Clark said in an interview with 23ABC.

23ABC reported in April that documents showed the California Department of Public Health cited the Kingston Health Care Facility more than 14 separate times since 2015. Within the last six months they were also cited with a Double-A citation, which is considered one of the most serious violations.

KGET-17 News also reported that Kingston has been sued six times since 2017, with allegations including medical malpractice, elder abuse and neglect and wrongful death. Many of those cases have been filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Clark shared with viewers that the best way for people to review nursing home conduct and reports is my visiting Medicare.gov. Users can research any skilled nursing facility, and check ratings and staffing ratios.

Kingston’s profile is now listed as a “Special Focus Facility.” According to the site this means the nursing home has had a history of persistent poor quality of care.

As of May 5, Kern County is reporting 1,055 positive cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths, according to Kern County Public Health Services Department.

UPDATE (MAY 11, 2020): Families of residents at Kingston, as well as staff members, are speaking out about conditions at the skilled nursing facility, and seeking justice. A certified nursing assistant said they were not given PPE equipment until about a “two weeks ago,” and were working 16-hour shifts.

UPDATE (JUNE 2, 2020): The Kern County Board of Supervisors moved forward with a plan to designate an accountability officer from the Kern County Emergency Services to oversee issues at the state-regulated nursing care faculties.

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If you or someone you know experiences elder abuse or neglect, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the law firm’s specialized website focused on elder abuse at bakersfieldelderabuse.com.

To report cases of abuse locally, whether it is on your own behalf or that of someone you know, please call Adult Protective Services or 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

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MEDIA COVERAGE