Heiting & Irwin Attorneys At Law

5885 Brockton Avenue
Riverside, CA 92506
United States
Phone: (951) 682-6400
Fax: (951) 682-4072
Email: contact@heitingandirwin.com

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 Our Attorneys

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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Free Initial Consultation

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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YES, YOU DO HAVE A RIGHT TO YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS

Doctor Holding Up His Hand

(The following is being provided for informational purposes only, and does not constitute, nor substitute for, personalized legal advice.)

Well, actually, you have rights (plural) to your medical records. Where you live, or where you have treated, can have an impact on what your rights actually are.

Most people have heard of “HIPAA” (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which is a federal law (from the United States level of government) designed to help you get easier access to your own records, and make it harder for others to access your records.

In addition to this and other types of federal laws, many states give you the right to access your records, or get copies of your records sent to you or a doctor of your choosing, and may even set deadlines for these requests to be completed.

If you live in California, for example, you may have heard of “PAHRA” (the Patient Access to Health Records Act), which is a state law designed to provide “access to health care records or summaries of those records by patients and by those persons having responsibility for decisions respecting the health care of others”.

As stated above, the rights you have, and the way(s) you can enforce those rights, can vary based on your particular circumstances, so if you have any questions, or have encountered difficulties obtaining your records, you should contact an attorney for individualized advice.

WHEN TO RETAIN A WORKERS COMPENSATION ATTORNEY

BY:   ROBIN STEELE, PARALEGAL TO RICHARD H. IRWIN, ESQ.

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury and are wondering whether to hire a Workers’ Compensation attorney, the answer depends on the severity of your injury and the overall complexity of your case. The moment any complexity is introduced into your case is the moment you should think about hiring an attorney. For example, if your medical issues have prevented you from returning to your job or performing any type of work, and you fail to receive the benefits to which you are entitled promptly or at all, it may be time to hire a lawyer.

Regardless of the circumstances of your Workers’ Compensation claim, you are entitled to retain the services of an attorney. If your injuries are such that your life will be permanently altered, either because of permanent bodily impairment or a change in your ability to work, a Workers’ Compensation lawyer will be able to advocate on your behalf to ensure that you receive the medical care and Workers’ Compensation benefits you are entitled to.

A local and experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can assist you in selecting the appropriate work injury doctor, negotiate with the insurance carrier and represent you at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Most Workers’ Compensation cases settle before trial, and an experienced work injury attorney can assist in navigating a settlement to your best advantage. If your case goes go to trial, you are going to want a Workers’ Compensation attorney familiar with that court with years of Workers’ Compensation trial experience. Representing yourself is not recommended unless you have years of Workers’ Compensation experience and knowledge.

A reputable and local Workers’ Compensation lawyer will be familiar with your regional Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and their judges. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board is the court where your Workers’ Compensation case will be heard. The workers’ compensation system may have been intended to provide prompt and fair compensation for injured workers, but it now appears to work mostly to the benefit of employers and insurers. Hiring a seasoned attorney will go a long way toward assisting you in navigating your claim and advising you of your rights and entitlement to benefits.

Better yet, hire a Workers’ Compensation attorney who has been certified by the State Bar of California as a Certified Specialist in his/her field. This signifies that he/she has not only passed a comprehensive examination prepared by the State, but has also met or exceeded certain performance and experience requirements that entitle him/her to be a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation law.

If you have any doubt about your ability to handle your Workers’ Compensation claim yourself, don’t hesitate to call a Workers’ Compensation attorney for a free consultation.

Airbags: Technology reducing injury and saving lives

17ike-rav4-ng-srs-airbags-940x529Fatality rates from car accidents have been dropping every year and it’s fairly common for many of the most popular vehicles to earn top safety ratings from the federal government’s crash test program.

Airbags are a big part of this trend.  Frontal airbags have been a federal requirement since the 1999 model year. Side airbags, which are not federally mandated, were standard on 90.3% of 2013 vehicles, according to the IIHS.  Side impact airbags are designed to protect the head and torso in side impact collisions.

In frontal crashes, frontal airbags reduce driver fatalities by 29% and fatalities of front-seat passengers age 13 and older by 32 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Most new cars today come with a plethora of airbags: frontal airbags, side torso airbags and side curtain airbags. Some vehicles even have rear-seat airbags. [Read more…]

Big Rig Accidents

bigrigcrashTractor trailers are big trucks which can cause catastrophic injuries when they are involved in an accident.

Fortunately, they are required by law to carry insurance policies which are larger than the typical policy which you or I may have for our car.  Unfortunately, big rig accidents also typically involve many injured parties.  Having an attorney will ensure that you are properly represented and not at a disadvantage when your claim is compared to those of other injured parties.

When pursuing an accident claim involving a big rig, choose an attorney with years of experience handling such claims.  An experienced attorney will know the procedural tricks to ensure that you are treated fairly.  Unlike most vehicles on the road, big rigs often have cameras mounted in the cabin, often showing the road ahead as well as what’s going on in the cab.  Additionally, they often have some other type of monitoring system which records vehicle speeds and the number of hours the truck has been on the road.  A competent attorney may request logs to determine how many hours the offending driver had been driving at the time of the accident.  Knowing how to get this information could be the difference between a successful claim and one that is denied.

After an accident involving a semi, make sure you consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer.

BYSTANDER EMOTIONAL DISTRESS IN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASES

Patient’s Close Relatives Can Recover for Witnessing Medical Negligence

Sometimes, doctors (and other medical professionals) make noticeable mistakes when caring for patients, mistakes that the common person, lacking any medical training, is capable of recognizing. For those situations, some family members and other close relations make seek recovery for the mental and emotional trauma caused by witnessing such events. It is important to be able to establish that you were present at the scene, aware of the injury-producing event and its cause, a close relative of the patient, and that you suffer(ed) emotional distress beyond that which a disinterested observer would be expected to experience.

Many times, it can be difficult to show that the close relative of the patient was aware of the cause of the injury, or rather, aware that medical negligence was actually taking place, because the close relative often lacks the training, skill, education, and knowledge of a medical professional, or expert. But the courts in California have held that it is possible.

“Although a plaintiff need not contemporaneously understand that a defendant’s conduct constitutes legal negligence, the plaintiff must have a contemporaneous understanding that the conduct that is being observed is conduct that is actually causing harm.” Bird v. Saenz (2002) 28 Cal. 4th 910, 920 (emphasis added). The Bird case allows for the contemporaneous awareness of medical negligence by a layperson: under some extreme situations, even a lay person may contemporaneously perceive that incorrect medical treatment is causing an injury, such as if a patient’s family member observes a surgeon amputate the wrong limb of the patient. Bird v. Saenz (2002) 28 Cal. 4th 910, 918, 920-921.

Another such example now includes what befell the family of Madeline Knox, where her daughter and sister witnessed her stop breathing while receiving inadequate care from the medical facility where she was a patient. The First District Court of Appeal found that Ms. Knox’s family members “observed Knox’s acute respiratory distress and were aware that defendants’ inadequate response caused her death,” satisfying the standard established by Thing v. La Chusa (1989) 48 Cal.3d 644 and other cases.

Here at Heiting & Irwin, we understand that harm to patients has a way of effecting entire families, and we thoroughly explore the best possible remedies and recoveries for families injured by the negligence of medical and other professionals. If you or a close relative has experienced a medical injury and would like to speak with someone about your options, please feel free to give us a call and speak with one of our attorneys today.

CAN YOU SUE THE UNITED STATES?

In practicing personal injury, medical negligence and assorted tort litigation, we are frequently asked if a lawsuit can be brought against the United States of America, an agency of the federal government, or an employee of same. The simple answer to such an inquiry is . . . if they permit you to do so! The process to initiate such a lawsuit is tricky.

Claims against the federal government are governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act, which sets forth what claims are permitted. Assuming the Act allows a claim to proceed, the initial step (after gathering all evidence in support of any action) is to comply with the claims presentation requirements of the Federal Tort Claims Act. Generally, a claim must be presented to the appropriate federal agency within two years of the date that the incident occurred. Typical claims presentation statutes against state or local public entitles are six months. Claim forms may be available which outline the specific information required to be presented in a Federal Tort Claim.

The United States (or an agency thereof) generally has six months thereafter to act upon such a claim, although they can have more time if they want it! Rarely is a claim accepted, so typically a lawsuit must be filed in the appropriate U.S. District Court within six months of the decision on (rejection of) the claim. From that point forward, the litigation, including discovery and trial, are governed by the court and the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Federal Tort Claims, other public entity claims, and actions for personal injury(ies) in general are handled on a daily basis by the attorneys at Heiting & Irwin. If you have questions regarding your specific circumstances, please call us to speak to an attorney.

GIVE OUR FIRST RESPONDERS SOME ROOM ON THE ROAD

While waiting last Friday for the light to change green at Van Buren Boulevard and Wells Street here in Riverside, I watched in terror as an Emergency Vehicle, lights flashing and all, had to delicately maneuver around traffic approaching it from behind in order to make a left turn. It wasn’t dark, and the vehicle’s red color was easy to observe. Outrageous, I thought; there ought to be a law…..

Well, apparently there is. According to California’s Vehicle Code, Section 21706:

“No motor vehicle….shall follow within 300 feet of any authorized emergency vehicle….”

As a personal injury attorney, I am reminded on a daily basis of the important role that emergency first responders play in saving lives and preventing further harm to the patients they treat.

As anyone can imagine, however, there are a variety of reasons why the ambulances, fire trucks, police officers, and other first responders need to arrive at an emergency quickly and safely, without being themselves involved in some accident for which aid is required.

One day, it may be you or a loved one waiting for help to arrive. So let’s all be a bit more mindful while driving, and give our first responders some room on the road!

Why Should I Hire You?

I’m occasionally approached by a potential client who says, “I have a slam dunk case.  Why should I hire your office when I can handle this on my own and not have to pay fees?”

There are many answers to this question and the ones that apply vary from case to case.

There are very few “slam dunk” cases.  You’d be surprised how often an insurance company will fight over a seemingly obvious “clear liability” case.  I’ve seen cases where a defense is mounted after a defendant driver claims the injured party reversed into her… while they were traveling on the freeway!  Insurance companies will sometimes place roadblocks for the unrepresented party – roadblocks which may be difficult to overcome without the assistance of an attorney. Sometimes no settlement offers are made at all, forcing the injured party to file a lawsuit on their own or retain an attorney at the last minute.  Filing a lawsuit incorrectly or filing it late can harm your case or prevent you from recovering at all.

You may already have been offered the policy limit on your claim.  Why would you hire an attorney at that point?  You may not be constrained by the policy limit offered.  We make sure no stone is left unturned.  There may be other insurance policies that apply to your claim – policies of which you are not aware and may unknowingly agree to settle without.  There may be assets which the defendant can offer up as compensation in addition to the insurance policy presently offered.  Part of our representation involves looking into other policies of insurance and into the assets of the defendant.  We will also investigate your claim to see whether there are other liable parties – such as the city, county, or state.  With our representation, you will have the peace of mind that every avenue of recovery was explored.

There are a multitude of reasons you should hire Heiting & Irwin.  Contact us, or give us a call at (951) 682-6400 and one of our attorneys would be happy to discuss the reasons, as well as your case, with you.

James Otto Heiting Receives Avvo 2015 Top Contributor Award

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 11.12.35 AMHeiting & Irwin Attorneys At Law are very excited to announce that Avvo has named one of our attorneys, James Heiting, as a top contributor! Avvo is an online service dedicated to “helping people make the best decisions for their important legal needs.” People use this site to search for help on their legal issues. As for attorneys, they contribute the content and earn points in a variety of ways. [Read more…]

MICRA CAP BATTLE CONTINUES

In November 2014, voters rejected Proposition 46 by a substantial margin, maintaining California’s general damage cap of $250,000 in medical negligence cases. Undaunted by the defeat, trial lawyers (Consumer Attorneys of California) are continuing the fight to raise the present damage limits before the Appellate Court, arguing the unconstitutionality of the Act. As has been argued before, why are general damages to victims unlimited in personal injury, product defect and other negligence cases, but limited to $250,000 to victims of medical neglect? Where is the fairness?

Having failed in past attempts to obtain change through both the legislature and ballot measures, perhaps this effort before the Appellate Court will provide some success. Arguments will soon take place before the First District Court of Appeal, and win or lose, likely before the California Supreme Court thereafter. Obviously, Consumer Attorneys are lining up to provide supporting arguments in the current case of Chan v. Curran, but the supporters of MICRA cap are also plentiful, arguing decades of decisions affirming MICRA.

Time will tell. Hopefully sooner or later the California Supreme Court will address the MICRA issue and whether the Act violates a victim’s right to fairness under the law; whether MICRA is constitutional; and whether it lacks a “rational basis” in today’s environment.

Questions on medical negligence, damages and the ongoing battle regarding MICRA can be directed to attorneys at Heiting & Irwin, as well as questions on any issues involving claims for personal injuries and damages.