How to ring in the New Year safely, without drinking and driving

December 30, 2014 | 9:04 am


Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that drunk driving fatalities in the United States last year topped 10,000 for yet another year – 10,076 in fact. Sadly, the risk of sharing the road with a drunk driver is even higher on holidays, especially around New Year’s.

In fact, New Year’s Day is the most dangerous day of the year for drunk driving on our nation’s roadways, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. On New Year’s Day in 2012 – after the ball dropped at midnight – 70 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in the United States, which represented more than half of all traffic fatalities that day.

The Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to remind Kern County drivers to make this New Year’s, and every other day of the year, safe for traveling.

“This is a time of year when, unfortunately, we see too many people out there driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Matt Clark, car accident lawyer and partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, during an interview on The Groove 99.3 with Sheri Ortiz. “There are a lot of holiday parties. People go out. I don’t want to discourage people from going out and having a good time, and enjoying the holidays, but there’s a way to do that responsibly.”

Clark continued: “In my line of work, unfortunately, we see the worst of it often times — where there’s been a DUI accident and someone is injured. Too often somebody is killed. And then I have to console their families after they’ve lost a loved one. I just don’t want to see that happen during this holiday.”

You can listen to the full interview by clicking here.

To make sure you have a safe and fun New Year’s celebration for everyone, use these tips (courtesy of MADD):

Going out?

  • Designate a non-drinking driver to make sure you, and everyone with you, arrive home safely.
  • Save the number of a cab service in your phone before heading out, consider hiring a shuttle or limousine service to transport you and your friends to and from your event, or arrange a hotel stay for you and your friends on the evening of the event so no one drives home impaired. Ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber is partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving this New Year’s Eve.
  • Don’t get in a car with someone who has been drinking.

Planning a party?

  • As guests RSVP, confirm that at least one person in each group is prepared to be the sober designated driver or has a plan to get home.
  • Provide plenty of food to keep your guests from drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
  • Have the number of a taxi service on hand for those who need a ride. Also, be ready with some clean linen so you can turn your sofa into a bed for guests who need to sleep it off.
  • If someone who’s impaired is trying to drive, stop them.

“There are so many ways you can go out and have a good time without putting yourself, or other people on the road, at risk,” Clark said on the radio show.

DUI crashes with injury have dramatically increased in Kern County, according to local news reports. The latest state DUI Management Report released last year shows that 4,633 DUI arrests were made county-wide.

It’s the reason Clark and other personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have been deeply involved in sponsoring and organizing the Bakersfield “Walk/Run Like MADD,” hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. The second annual event will be held Saturday, Sept. 19, at The Park at River Walk.

The 5K is aimed at raising awareness about the DUI epidemic in Kern County, and to raise money to help victims of drunk driving, among other things. Last year’s walk and run raised $46,000 and brought together 700 people including DUI crash victims and families of victims.

If you are interested in taking part or sponsoring the upcoming MADD walk/run in Bakersfield, call 661-334-4948 or email jbarrientos@chainlaw.com. You can also visit the local event website at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

Kern Business Journal highlights law firm’s purchase of downtown Bakersfield building

December 12, 2014 | 10:00 am


Recently, The Bakersfield Californian highlighted the continuing evolution of Bakersfield’s commercial and historical core, and the hopeful signs with investment suddenly pouring into the intersection of Chester Avenue and 18th Street in downtown Bakersfield.

The article included the news that Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles completed its purchase of the two-story space at the intersection.

“We like to think that, in some small part, we’re going to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Bakersfield,” said Matt Clark, partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

This week, the Kern Business Journal also highlighted the news, which you can read by clicking here, or by reading the article below.

The Kern Business Journal is a bi-monthly publication printed by The Bakersfield Californian that showcases business and industry developments across Kern County. To read the latest December-January issue of the Kern Business Journal, or read past issues, click here to visit its website.

To read The Bakersfield Californian’s article that highlights Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ purchase of the downtown building, click here. The law firm plans to move into the building in 2015.

———-

Chain Cohn Stiles law firm purchases historic building in downtown Bakersfield

Since 1870, the southwest corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue in downtown Bakersfield has been home to vital businesses.

It was the site of the first Kern Valley Bank until it closed in 1911, and would remain home to several other banks in the century that followed including National Bank, Crocker-Anglo Bank, and most currently Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual.

Goodwill Industries took over the 30,000 square-foot building in the 2000s until it moved out three years ago. The building has been empty since – until now.

Chain Cohn Stiles, the longtime Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm, will soon call the two-story building at 1731 Chester Avenue home after purchasing it in October.

Chain Cohn Stiles plans to occupy the ground floor and lease out the upper level, and possibly basement space, after it completes improvements to the building. The purchase includes a small parking lot to the west, on Eye Street. The firm also expects to install parking at an east-west alleyway south of the building for clients, many of whom have been disabled by some kind of injury.

Historically speaking, the purchase couldn’t have come at a better time – the law firm is commemorating 80 years in Bakersfield this year. Through that time, the law firm has served clients in downtown Bakersfield, a central location that’s also near Kern County’s courtrooms. For the past several decades, Chain Cohn Stiles has occupied space in the nearby Bank of America building.

Along with other nearby development, The Bakersfield Californian recently called the law firm’s purchase of the building “a hopeful sign for the continuing evolution of Bakersfield’s commercial and historical core.” The partners at Chain Cohn Stiles agree.

“We like to think that, in some small part, we’re going to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Bakersfield,” said Matt Clark, partner at Chain Cohn Stiles.

CCS takes part in American Heart Association’s ‘Heart Walk,’ ‘Lawyers Have Heart’ fundraiser

October 17, 2014 | 9:24 am


It’s widely known that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, which claims more than 800,000 American lives each year.

In Bakersfield, the American Heart Association hosts the annual Bakersfield Heart Walk to celebrate those who have made lifestyle changes and encourage others to take the pledge to live healthier lifestyles. The event also raises money needed to fund life-saving research and initiatives in our own local community.

This year, the Bakersfield Heart Walk will be held Saturday, Oct. 17, at Cal State Bakersfield (CSUB). The Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to support the American Heart Association and the Bakersfield Heart Walk this year.

The Heart Walk will also feature the “Lawyers Have Heart” 5K, which also raises money for the research and community education programs related to the American Heart Association. The event brings together law firms and attorneys to raise awareness of heart disease and strokes. 

This year, CCS partner Matt Clark will take part in the Lawyers Have Heart 5K. This event began in 1991, and since then has raised more than $7.5 million for the American Heart Association and its causes. The event aims to raise awareness, and to also show local communities that local attorneys case about making a difference, while also promoting exercise and fitness. Today, Lawyers Have Heart has grown to by one of the largest philanthropic endeavors supported law firms and legal vendors in the United States.  

The Lawyers Have Heart 5K and Heart Walk in Bakersfield has raised $185,000 so far, with the goal of raising $210,000 to fund life-saving research and health initiatives in Kern County.

The Oct. 18 event will feature a 5K timed run, 5K walk, 2-mile walk, survivor’s lap, kid’s zone, health screenings, VIP tent for Top Walkers, vendor tents, a team T-shirt contest and more. Adult survivors will be honored with hats, and child survivor will receive special Heart Hero capes. Lunch will be donated by Subway.

There is still time to sign up to help. The Lawyer Have Heart run is $35 per participant, and all runners will receive a T-shirt.

This year an estimated 785,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack and about 470,000 will have a recurrent attack. It is also estimated that an additional 195,000 silent heart attacks occur each year. Join Chain | Cohn | Stiles and support the American Heart Association.

For more information, go to Kern County’s American Heart Association’s web page here or visit the American Heart Association Kern County’s Facebook page here.

———-

UPDATE: CCS partner Matt Clark competed and came in second place overall in the “Lawyers Have Heart” 5K on Saturday at Cal State Bakersfield. See his photo finish here.

CCS on The Groove: The importance of having uninsured motorist coverage

September 29, 2014 | 11:23 am


What should you do when you’re in a car accident, the other driver is at fault, and he or she has little or no auto insurance?

Knowing what to do when you are in a auto accident can be difficult, especially with complex insurance policies involved. If the driver at fault does not have insurance, or very little, you may have a difficult time obtaining compensation for damages suffered in the accident.

That’s why it’s important for you to purchase an insurance policy that includes coverage for “uninsured motorists” and “under-insured motorists.”

Bakersfield car accident attorney Matt Clark recently appeared on The Groove 99.3 (KKBB) with Sheri Ortiz to discuss the issue, and give advice to listeners on insurance policies.

You can listen to the two segments here:

As personal injury lawyer at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Clark represents a lot of people who are involved in auto accidents. Many times, he receives calls from people who have been injured by someone to didn’t have any insurance at the time of the accident.

Due to the accident, the injured client has had to miss work and has medical bills to pay, for example.

“What do you do to protect yourself?” Clark asked listeners on The Groove. “When you buy insurance, one of the cheapest things you can buy is uninsured motorist coverage. You want to have limits that can cover you in case someone hits you.”

Clark recommends motorist purchase a $100,000 over $300,000 auto insurance policy at a minimum to protect yourself. The policy allows you to collect from your insurance company to recoup your damages that exceed the responsible party’s limits.

“It’s not expensive to get that coverage and it protects you,” Clark said.

The uninsured and under-insured policies also cover you and your family in the case of an accident while walking, running, or riding a bike — you don’t have to be behind the wheel to take advantage of the policies, Clark said.

It’s important to note, Clark said, that many times, drivers have to specifically ask their insurance policy companies that uninsured and under-insured be added to policies.

While on the air, Clark and Ortiz received a call from a woman who was involved and injured in an auto accident, after the other driver ran a red light, she said. She took advantage of her uninsured motorist policy, which helped her out tremendously, she said.

“It’s definitely important,” Amanda said on the show. “I had uninsured motorist, and I will never get insurance without uninsured motorist ever again. Without having uninsured motorist, you’re going to be stuck.”

Added Clark: “It’s my job as a lawyer to make sure that my clients are fairly compensated, not only for the injuries they have right now, but for the injuries they may have in the future.”

Filing an uninsured motorist claim can often include complex legal issues that require the assistance of a lawyer experienced in dealing with insurance companies. The lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles can help. Call for a free consultation at 661-323-4000, or visit the personal injury and workers compensation* website Chainlaw.com.

To learn more about uninsured motorist policies and their importance, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on chainlaw.com.

————-

*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

CCS represents victim in DUI hit-and-run crash involving Kern County worker

July 15, 2014 | 9:33 am


The Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are representing the victim of a car accident involving a Kern County worker who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and fled the scene after the collision.

CCS lawyer Matt Clark is the lead attorney on the case, which has been followed closely by local media. He spoke with KERO-23 (ABC) about the case, and also The Bakersfield Californian. See the news segment here, and read the article here.

Local law enforcement authorities say Erik Webb, a worker with the county of Kern, rear-ended another vehicle while in a county-issued truck on July 1, at the 4100 block of Union Avenue near Columbus Street. After the crash, Webb gathered his belongings from the truck and fled the scene, according to police reports.

He was later caught and arrested by law enforcement. Webb remained in Kern County jail until he sobered up, and was then cited and released. Webb was charged with a DUI and hit-and-run resulting in property damage, records from the Kern County Superior Court show.

Representatives from the county of Kern told local media that Webb went into work the day after the crash and told his supervisor what happened, and he was sent home. Webb was also suspended with pay. Webb was placed on administrative leave, and he was not assigned another vehicle.

Photos obtained by Eyewitness News show a crushed Ford F-150 badly damaged in a Kern County yard.

Clark on Monday spoke with KERO-23 news about the case on Monday, speaking on behalf of the injured victim. Police reports show that Webb also told authorities he had been “messing” with his phone prior to the crash. It’s important, Clark said, that drivers not use their phones while driving, and to drive sober — especially if driving a county-issued vehicle.

KERO also reported that Webb had resigned from his position at the county of Kern.

See media reports about the case here:

If you’re involved in a car accident, first, stay calm. If you are injured, and if it is safe to do so, remain inside your vehicle until emergency personnel respond to the scene. Once out of your vehicle, make certain to obtain the other parties personal and insurance information. Often times, the police or California Highway Patrol will do this for you. Also, if there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to obtain contact information (including name and phone number) for each witness. Later, witnesses can be important to your case. Most importantly, do not speak with an insurance adjuster until you contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles first. Law firm representatives are available by phone and email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you speak with an insurance adjuster first, oftentimes they will obtain a recorded statement from you, which could be used against you later. It is always best to speak with a lawyer who will protect your rights first.

For more tips and information on car accidents and the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles — including frequently asked questions and answers — visit our specialized car accident website HERE.