Heiting & Irwin Attorneys At Law
(951) 682-6400
5885 Brockton Avenue
Riverside, CA, 92506

About Our Firm

Heiting & Irwin began in 1976 out of a deep commitment to the fundamental values of the American justice system. In that spirit, we've dedicated … Learn More

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Meet the attorneys of Heiting & Irwin in Riverside, CA. Each attorney has many specialties and experiences that contribute to the overall … Learn More

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Initial consultations are always free and can be handled in person, over the phone, or by email. If you wonder if you have basis for a case, contact … Learn More

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Riverside, California celebrates Labor Day 2014!

LA County beachesCalifornians know a lot about working hard, and about taking time away from the daily grind to relax. Californians know how to enjoy our state’s weather year-round, but especially so during the summer months. It doesn’t matter if you head to the seaside or stay inland, this Labor Day, how about enjoying something fun? After all, you’ve earned it!

Labor Day 2014 is a great reminder of the social and economic achievement made by American workers, including those living right here in Riverside, California.

If you don’t mind driving a bit, the Newport Coast, Orange County and the City of Angels have plenty happening over the holiday weekend – not to mention the beaches!

If you have never attended The Taste hosted by the L.A. Times, here’s a chance to enjoy some of the finest cuisine and drinks available in all of Southern California. Starting Friday, August 29 and running through Sunday, August 31, experience a food and wine festival promoters bill as “authentically L.A.” Los Angeles’ best chefs invite you to enjoy themed meals like, “Field to Fork,” “Dinner with a Twist,” “Sunday Brunch,” and “Flavors of L.A.” (No smog jokes, please.) Tickets are available on the website, starting at $100 and up for adults, with added discounts for L.A. Times subscribers. [Read more...]

Medical Fraud Causing Malpractice

Medical malpracticeAn elaborate workers compensation fraud ring that put several Southern California doctors at the center of the controversy ended with indictments against some of the doctors.  The multi-million dollar fraud ring is claimed to have injured patients when doctors allegedly “put profits over patients,” even to the point of endangering the life of an infant. In an odd twist, the facts of the ring were revealed after a 6-month old ingested cream that had been prescribed by one of the indicted doctors. The infant later died from ingesting, according to the coroner on the case, “high levels of a pain reliever, cough suppressant, and antidepressant” that the mother had apparently been prescribed. The investigation into the baby’s death resulted in involuntary manslaughter charges in addition to fraud charges being brought against the doctors.

Although the mother is not being charged, the underlying issues highlight the issues of betrayal of trust and confidence we place in our medical professionals.

The case is an egregious example of the way that medical malpractice and personal injury resulting from negligent medical care can occur. So often, patients truly are at the mercy of the doctors who may have other, more personal, concerns than patient interests. When someone makes an appointment to seek medical treatment, the patient allows the doctor to guide diagnosis and treatment. [Read more...]

Comedian Tracy Morgan Sues Walmart after Car Accident

Walmart storeThe popular comedian and actor, Tracy Morgan, best known for his starring role in NBC’s “30Rock” decided to sue the Wal-Mart driver involved in the car accident that badly injured him and others this year.

The allegations of Mr. Morgan’s injury include a head-on collision with a Wal-Mart company semi-truck that crossed the median in the early hours of June 7, 2014. The vehicle crash left Mr. Morgan in the intensive care unit of the hospital with broken ribs, a broken nose, and a broken leg. The crash also resulted in injuries to several other passengers, and the death of one person, fellow comedian James McNair.

The fact that the semi-truck collided with a movie and television star merited a high amount of public attention. The fact that the truck was hauling for Walmart, an enormous corporate brand-name itself, created even more publicity for the case. While Mr. Morgan’s personal injuries continue to heal, there is no question that Mr. Morgan’s case will receive a great deal of attention by the court and with public outcries for compensation for his injuries.

But what if there had not been a famous person in the car accident? Would the “average Joe” be able to recover from Wal-Mart, or from the driver personally, if that were the scenario? [Read more...]

Tesla Model S Vehicle Catches Fire – Again.

Tesla S safety Electric car manufacturer Tesla made news recently regarding the safety of its vehicles following the death of a Los Angeles, California man fleeing the police. Apparently the man fled the police by stealing a Tesla Model S from the west L.A. service center. Seven other people were said to be injured when the man ran the luxury car into other vehicles driving on La Brea Avenue.

The Tesla Model S remained the “best-selling electric car for 2013” despite fire issues, including a couple of separate fires. Both fires were under suspicion as starting due to an overheated battery. U.S. regulators released the results of those investigations, however, and found that the battery did not cause the fires: “The U.S. regulators who reviewed the car safety required no changes aside from adding a titanium shield to strengthen the car’s battery pack.”

If you are an injured driver following a fire or other extraordinary occurrence, do you need to prove the reason for the occurrence in order to recover any personal injury compensation?

Generally speaking, in order to prove a defective product resulted in injury, the plaintiff (injured party) would need to prove the defect to the court. Even if U.S. regulators have found no defect in the batteries or other components the plaintiff may still gather the evidence to prove either negligence in the design, manufacture, repair, or in some other aspect of how the car’s preparation and distribution was handled.

These are highly fact-specific scenarios, and considering the technology speaking with a personal injury attorney who understands defective product lawsuits would be invaluable. We hope you do not ever become injured, but if you should, please know that the friendly staff and knowledgeable attorneys of Heiting& Irwin, Attorneys at Law are here to help you.

 

Photo Credit: jurvetson via Compfightcc

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SETTLEMENTS IN SERIOUS INJURY CASES HITTING HIGH MARKS

With each passing year it seems as if, despite the constraints of the California Workers’ Compensation system, we are able to settle many cases in the high six-figure, and at times, seven-figure range. This is in large part due to the nature of the injuries sustained by the injured worker (which are often considered catastrophic), but also to the necessity for a Medicare Set Aside.

A Medicare Set Aside (“MSA”), as used in the Workers’ Compensation system, is an allocation of a portion of a Workers’ Compensation settlement that is “set aside” to pay for future medical treatment related to the workplace injury or illness. These allocated monies must be spent before Medicare will pay for treatment related to the workplace injury or illness.

MSA’s are often required when a settlement exceeds a certain sum and, in addition, when an individual is either already entitled to Medicare, or has applied for Social Security Disability benefits, or is over a certain age.

Some companies offer evaluation services to recommend an appropriate MSA amount, and offer many benefits to the injured worker. At the (employer’s) insurance carriers’ expense, the evaluation provides a more realistic assessment of the total anticipated cost of an individual’s work-related medical expenses, projected over their “life expectancy”, or expected lifetime.

Additionally, in order for an (employer’s) insurance carrier to buy-out the injured worker’s future medical care portion of the Workers’ Compensation case, they must now pay no less, and usually significantly more than, the value of the projected MSA.

Because of the benefits offered to the injured worker, the (employer’s) insurance carrier would prefer to deal directly with the injured worker, paying them much less than full value to buy-out their “future medical”. Many times, the injured worker is very vulnerable; he or she may not be able to return to usual, customary duties due the severity of the injuries, may have run out of certain benefits, may have to care for family or loved ones, or any other stressors of daily life.

As a result, the injured worker is often anxious to settle and accept far less than full value for their cases. DON’T BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF! If you have serious or catastrophic injuries, speak to an attorney immediately. At Heiting & Irwin, we offer free consultations. You may call our office at (951) 682-6400.

SAVE OUR JURIES

The 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution ensures that citizens’ civil cases can be heard and decided upon by a jury of their peers. It provides parties to lawsuits with the opportunity to present facts and evidence for an eventual impartial decision under applicable law(s).

However, the civil jury trial is disappearing with the advent of forced mediation, arbitration and other settlement-based procedures.

As a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), I am very familiar with one of the principal missions of this organization: to uphold and preserve the jury system for present and future litigants. Judges now are more case managers than “trial judges”. Attorneys either lack or fail to develop trial skills, due at least in part to forced participation in other alternative dispute resolution processes. Another critical issue is the cost of jury trials, not only to the litigants but also to the prospective jurors, who must sacrifice their personal time and effort to preserve this face-to-face aspect of the justice system.

ABOTA has launched a website, devoted to the principal of upholding the jury system. More information regarding history, issues, problems, and solutions can be found at www.saveourjuries.org. ABOTA’s skilled trial lawyers (plaintiff and defense civil litigators throughout the country) are intent on preserving your right to a trial by a jury. The website contains valuable information, educational materials and commentary regarding this important yet disappearing fundamental right.

Should you have any questions on your legal rights, including your right to trial by jury, the attorneys at Heiting & Irwin are available for consult and to represent your rights. Let’s fight together to protect and preserve the civil litigation system that is the backbone of our society and one of our most fundamental rights!

Dennis R. Stout
HEITING & IRWIN
ABOTA member since 2002

FACIAL WOUNDS FROM DOG BITES

While all injuries from a dog bite or attack require careful treatment and attention, facial wounds, lacerations, puncture wounds, and abrasions can be especially problematic for victims. After the treatment stops, the victim is often left to cope with nightmares, flashbacks, and other negative feelings resulting from the attack, as well as the after-effects of a facial wound, including scarring, deformity, and discoloration. These permanent injuries are visible to the outside world, and the victim is reminded of the terrible ordeal every time they look into the mirror. The effects of such an attack can be especially problematic for children, who are less able to cope with their physical and emotional injuries.

Unfortunately, not all wounds are created equal. For example, a horrific wound that healed quickly and left little permanent scarring would generally be worth less than a more moderate wound that developed an infection or left noticeable permanent scarring. Even the gender of the victim can have an impact on the value of a dog bite case, with females tending to get higher recoveries than males.

In order to maximize the resources available to assist a victim with treatment and recovery, it is important to obtain competent, qualified medical care for the dog bite wounds. It may be necessary to consult with a plastic surgeon. It is also best to obtain legal counsel experienced in these types of cases, to provide guidance and assistance with all aspects of this type of incident, including requests for recorded statements and pictures, to medical authorizations, and to vividly document the progression of the victim’s injuries.

The law firm of Heiting & Irwin has over 100 years combined experience representing the interests of people who have been harmed by the actions of others. We offer free consultations, a warm and inviting office, and a friendly staff to anyone interested in speaking about a potential legal matter. If you would like to speak with someone about your circumstances, please call our office at (951) 682-6400 for a free consultation.

Lunch at Simple Simon’s Bakery & Bistro

Simple Simon's Bakery & Bistro SignAs a proud Riverside, California, business, we often have clients and friends who stop by our office throughout the morning, sometimes concluding their visits just before lunchtime. Inevitably, the question they ask before leaving is, “Where’s a good place around here to get lunch?”

In most circumstances, one Riverside lunch spot comes to mind: Simple Simon’s Bakery & Bistro. [Read more...]

Court Finds Strongly in City’s Favor in San Diego Slip & Fall Case

Square-Sign-Posts-SQB-ba

We’ve walked by them hundreds of times, maybe even noticed them before – the bases of street signs. Usually they consist of a larger piece of pipe embedded into the sidewalk into which the signpost slides. (See photo) Take a look the next time you see a sign.

For Mr. Heskel, he’ll probably be noticing these for the rest of his life.

On a late September evening in 2009, Mr. Heskel and his son Danny were out for a walk in San Diego. They were on the sidewalk. To Mr. Heskel’s great misfortune, the area was not well-lit and someone had removed a street sign from the sidewalk, leaving only the base embedded into the concrete. Not seeing the base, which was protruding “several inches,” he tripped over it, injured his back and broke his left wrist. There was nothing to alert Mr. Heskel’s attention to the pipe protruding from the sidewalk. It was not blocked off nor was it painted a bright, contrasting color.

Because they were the owners and controllers of the property, Mr. Heskel filed a complaint against the City of San Diego.

The law, as it relates to premises liability, is as follows:

To establish this claim, of premises liability plaintiff must prove all of the following:
1. That defendant owned/leased/occupied/controlled the property;
2. That defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property;
3. That plaintiff was harmed; and
4. That defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s harm.
CACI Jury Instruction No. 1000

There wasn’t much of a question that the city of San Diego owned and controlled the property where Mr. Heskel was injured. There was no question that Mr. Heskel was injured. The question for the court became one of whether the city was negligent in the maintenance of their property. Ultimately, it became a question of notice. Notice is determined as follows:

In determining whether defendant should have known of the condition that created the risk of harm, you must decide whether, under all the circumstances, the condition was of such a nature and existed long enough that defendant had sufficient time to discover it and, using reasonable care:
1. Repair the condition; or
2. Protect against harm from the condition; or
3. Adequately warn of the condition.
Defendant must make reasonable inspections of the property to discover unsafe conditions. If an inspection was not made within a reasonable time before the accident, this may show that the condition existed long enough so that a city using reasonable care would have discovered it.
CACI Jury Instruction No. 1011

Mr. Heskel introduced sworn statements of three individuals to show that the City of San Diego had notice of the dangerous condition posed by the protruding signpost.

One such statement was by another gentleman whom had tripped over the pipe “well over one year before” Heskel’s incident and that the city had quickly placed a “No Parking” sign in the pipe shortly after his fall.

Danny Heskel, who witnessed his father’s fall, provided testimony that the area around the pipe was painted a different color shortly after his father’s fall and confirmed that a sign was placed in the pipe shortly thereafter as well.

Another gentleman provided sworn testimony that he regularly worked in the area and that the pipe had been protruding from the sidewalk for “about 2 years.” He further testified that, prior to the sign being placed in the pipe, he had driven his truck on the sidewalk and punctured a tire due to the protrusion.

All of this testimony seems to raise, at the very least, a triable issue of fact as to the City’s liability right?

Not according to the Superior Court or the Appellate Court.

The appellate court concluded that the city carried its burden to demonstrate plaintiff lacked evidence as to the essential element of obviousness.

While plaintiff’s evidence suggested that the condition was above ground and visible, it did not demonstrate that it was of a substantial size or so visible from public thoroughfares that the city, in the exercise of due care, should have become aware of it and taken corrective action to cure it.

Because Mr. Heskel, in the Court’s opinion, failed to present any evidence that the condition was obvious such that the city, in the exercise of due care, should have become aware of it, his claim failed as a matter of law, notwithstanding his evidence that the condition was present for over one year before his accident.

It is very unfortunate that the Court has ruled in the City’s favor. It seems clear to me that, having been present for as much as 2 years (according to one declaration), the city had more than ample opportunity to discover this dangerous protrusion and make the changes necessary to ensure that its residents are safe. Clearly, once Mr. Heskel injured himself, the City wasted no time in fixing the problem.

If you are injured on public property, it is very important that you do not delay in presenting your claim. Claims against public entities in California must be made within 6 months.

We at Heiting & Irwin have decades of experience in presenting public entity claims and representing those injured on both public and private property.

The case referred to in this article is: Heskel v. City of San Diego, 227 Cal. App. 4th 313

Make Sure Your Burn Case is Properly Handled

by Kristopher Williams

When an injury occurs, sometimes it leaves a large scar, sometimes a small one, and sometimes, for the lucky, there is no scar; however, someone who has survived an injury involving burns to his/her body, catastrophic or minor, will always have scars (at least with today’s state of plastic surgery). All too often the burn survivor has his/her life permanently changed for the worse, regardless of the survivor’s ability to cover the scars with clothing. Where the burns cause scarring to portions of the body not easily covered by clothing, the physical scarring can often cause mental anguish, anxiety, and even depression that is more detrimental to the survivor than the original injury. A burn survivor can be the subject of ignorant ridicule and unwarranted embarrassment at the stares of onlookers. When a severe burn occurs, early, effective treatment is key to minimize the scarring. When another person is responsible for the burn-injury, seeking outstanding legal representation will help ensure that the survivor receives the maximum compensation. If you or someone you knows is a burn survivor, don’t let time go by without contacting a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights. The attorneys at Heiting & Irwin have been practicing personal injury and have successfully litigated cases involving burn survivors since 1978. A professional attorney is ready to discuss what legal rights you or your loved one may have. Don’t wait, contact us today.