SAN DIGEO, CA — Most of our viewers know that Michael Ehline attended MCRDSD as a young Marine recruit. As such, Michael is a motorcycle lawyer, motorcyclist and avid supporter of all things Marine Corps. So when he heard about the death of San Diego-based Marine Corps. Drill Instructor Sgt. Gary Wilson’s motorcycle riding death, he took it especially hard.
“What is so sad,” said Ehline, is:
“He rescued two women in a fiery car crash earlier in the year, and then met his own fate in a Freeway crash on the same motorcycle he used when he rescued those two ladies who certainly would have burned alive.”
DI Sergeant Wilson hailed from Fairfield, Connecticut. After saving the two women, he was recommended for a Navy and Marine Corps Medal. This is the highest noncombat military decoration for heroism awarded by the Department of the U.S. Navy.
The facts relate that Wilson died in a motorcycle accident on the I-15 in Temecula, November 16, 2018, just a few days ago! After he passed away the award was granted posthumously.
How Did Drill Instructor Sergeant Wilson Earn the Award Commendation?
As discussed, Wilson earned his award in recognition of saving two ladies on state Route 163 in the Miramar last summer, Sept. 18. Wilson, 33 years old at the time, was operating his motorcycle, Northbound on the San Diego Freeway. The DI approached the scene of two car crash with one vehicle burning and the other under threat of a brush fire.
The brave Marine pulled two women from the desolation at great risk to himself. Typical of Marines, he ran to the sound of the danger. The good news is that he survived at that time to fight another day. But then he died in a motorcycle crash later. Sad story indeed.
During the Wilson’s memorial service, the C/O of the 3d RTBN, USMC, Lt. Col. David Becker, said that Sergeant Wilson had “positively affected thousands of lives.”
Light Colonel Becker went on to say:
“Former President Ronald Reagan once said that some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in this world,” Becker said. “Marines don’t have that problem, and Sergeant Wilson doesn’t have that problem.”
What Does Sgt. Wilson’s Posthumous Commendation Say?
In part, the citation reads:
“Without regard for his own safety and at great risk to his life from the quickly spreading flames, intense heat, smoke, and the possibility of explosion, Sergeant Wilson broke the passenger side window with his elbow, reached his body into the burning and smoke-filled car, and pulled out the trapped woman,” the citation reads. “Moments later, the car was engulfed in flames. Wilson then returned to the second car. After finding the doors stuck and the woman driver trapped by airbags, and the brush fire encroaching, he pried open the door, pulled out the woman, and carried her to safety.
“By his courageous and prompt actions in the face of great personal risk, Sgt. Wilson prevented the loss of life, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”
How Can You Donate Money to DI Sergeant Wilson’s Surviving Family?
We are still looking for a Go Fund Me page. But we do know you can reach out to The West Coast Drill Instructors Association. They have already donated a brick displaying Wilson’s name so it can be added to the Drill Instructor Monument at the recruit depot near Lindbergh Field. In fact, this is near Wilson’s original duty station.
If you cannot find a place to send his family donations, Michael Ehline said he is willing to assist in any way he can to make that happen for them. “Marines help Marines, that’s what we do,” Ehline said.
He Will Be Missed!
Wilson was an enlisted Marine. He joined the Corps in March 2010. He served in Okinawa, Japan, and at Camp Pendleton. He also has a global war on terrorism ribbon, among others. He became assigned to MCRD as a drill instructor back in March 2016. His other awards include two Good Conduct Ribbons, three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, and a National Defense Service Medal.
He met his end in a motorcycle crash. Marines use motorcycles because they are cheap and easy to store when deployed. But they are very dangerous. So let this be a warning to you young Marines. Even heroes are not exempt from a motorcycle accident. Semper Fidelis Drill Instructor Sergeant Wilson! Oooohrah!
Gatherings at night clubs or bars are thought of as a way to have fun with a friend or group of friends. People do not expect to be hurt when visiting these types of establishments. In fact, they expect the bouncers to keep order and the building to be safe.
There are many legal theories lawyers use to prove a case like this. But first you need to understand some basics, so here we go.
Constructive knowledge is the term that indicates such knowledge. It is to become assessed in these cases what had been happening around the business in the past.
Failing to provide adequate security doesn’t just mean hiring a guard. It also means guarding against dangerous conditions on your property.
Consuming alcohol diminishes your inhibitions, and this can lead to problems like tripping at a bar.
Slipping and falling on liquid, a chair or table in a high traffic area of an eatery is a typical scenario we also see.
But crimes and bouncer assaults are also a risk of harm to customers.
Type of harm suffered in negligence security cases includes:
Broken bones or sprains.
These types of incidents happen due to a defect or failure by the property owner or management. So they fail to maintain the building securely and properly.
The other types of harm that can occur may include criminal conduct in the form of:
Rape, and in rare cases, death.
What is The Main Function of Security Guards?
Most bouncer attack lawyers will tell you that patrons of a nightclub or bar are normally not concerned with criminal dangers. After all, these establishments usually have security guards right? Yes, they are referred to as bouncers.
And their job is to protect you and the club, or bar, etc. If there is a scuffle, they must peacefully try to diffuse the situation.
Bouncers are usually large men with presence enough to keep patrons from misbehaving. (Read more here.)
So the bouncer is usually the employee who will have contact and cooperate with the police. These are situations where the police are involved in subduing crime or responding to a potential crime. But the bouncer is not usually a sworn peace officer.
He is expected to observe, report and refrain from using emotions. And this is no easy task when dealing with patrons who may behave badly.
Sometimes customers are out of line and want to test their mixed martial arts skills on the bouncer or another visitor. In other cases the security guard can step over the line of their intended functions.
So now, rather than controlling dangerous situations, the bouncer makes it worse. If so, liability attaches.
What Are Some Examples of Bouncer Assaults?
There have been reported incidences and arrests of violent bouncers. Most happened in situations where bouncers assaulted patrons of nightclubs or bars.
In that case, a video went viral on the internet. Sadly, the security guard/ bouncer was seen punching the patron and then robbing him in the bathroom of a strip club. The bouncer later said he believed the man was dealing drugs in the club.
The man required emergency surgery. The bouncer was arrested and charged with assault and endangerment.
In Lawton Kansas, a veteran was attacked by a bouncer in a night club, with the soldier being beaten to the point that his face was fractured.
He required facial reconstructive surgery after being injured by an improvised explosive device prior to that beating. Police suspected this bouncer of two similar assaults that occurred at the same club!
In Henderson Kentucky, a patron ended up dead after complaining about his drink.
Police observed a photo that was taken the same night as the altercation, where one of the security team can be seen holding a baton. (Read More Here.)
Police believed it was the same baton witnesses claim saw striking the man who had complained about his drink. The bouncer was arrested, charged with murder and released on $50,000 bail.
Bouncers harming a patron can be criminally charged. And the patron who was hurt may be able to bring a lawsuit against the bouncer and the night club or bar.
The bar or night club owner can be held liable for negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent entrustment (examples include a road rage employee given a company vehicle), negligent hiring, negligent retention, and even dram shop. (depending on your jurisdiction.)
When businesses fail to provide the needed security to their customers its said that they showed negligence towards security measures. A business that has the public coming within its premises has to provide security to its customers.
If a crime causes harm the patron or his personal property, the business will become held liable. What about when a gang banger shoots up a club or a disco? Well, if the owner knows it’s a possibility, it is a foreseeable crime.
In other words, was there a history, or knowledge that gang-bangers have caused trouble in the area? If so, liability attaches.
From foreseeability we mean that it was in the knowledge of the business (the runners of the business) that a crime can take place.
Negligent security can occur when bouncers or owners and employees do not perform the functions they were hired for properly. So the result is a patron being harmed.
Below are some of the most common claims against establishments.
The security guard or bouncer failed to take action.
The patron was not protected from being harmed.
Knowledge of violence by the owner of crimes, or violent behavior of the bouncer can also be used when a bouncer attacks a patron.
What is Owner Premises Liability?
When a guest of a nightclub or bar is hurt, under the legal theory of premises liability. Premises liability in the state of California outlines that the owner of a property has a duty to provide reasonable safe conditions. And this duty includes preventing any foreseeable harm to any visitor to the business.
Negligent actions by the employees of a bar or nightclub owner in the performance of their duties can make them liable to you. But you must suffer harm. That is what gives rise to your money damages award.
For example, liability could exist because security had been alerted to a slippery spill, but it was not cleaned up quickly.
In that case, the owner could be held liable for negligent premises liability.
What is the Stance of Defense Counsel?
Attorneys for the defense will almost always argue they had no knowledge of any potential problem. They will come up with a litany of excuses to avoid paying for the injuries.
So victims at the bar, nightclub, or regular old corporate offices have to prove the case. We just discussed that courts will look for whether or not a duty is owed. The defense will argue that even if the duty was breached, it was not foreseeable.
So no liability lies even if someone was hurt from a crime. Plus, the mere fact a crime took place while you were hanging out matters not since it was not a PSI.
If those basic things are not present, the jury instructions will provide the framework to the trier of fact to find zero or partial liability.
Whether the victim will win in a case where a third party committed a crime against you majorly depends on proving foreseeability of the crime. Most of this test comes from case law. And as will be discussed, some courts have different thresholds and variations of this test in California.
But non the less, this is the threshold you must meet. If not, the court could dismiss your case with, or without prejudice to you re-filing the case.
So naturally, a true personal injury warrior will note that this is a very important element. This must become nailed down before you consider moving forward with your lawsuit. From foreseeability we mean that it was in the knowledge of the business (the runners of the business) that a crime can take place at or near the place.
What About the Businesses’ Knowledge of Prior Crimes or Accidents to Show Foreseeability?
In some cases, it’s implied that the business should have been aware of the fact that a crime or other dangers could happen on the premises.
Examples of non criminal events giving rise to landlord liability could be where could be:
Falling objects. For example, a ceiling fixture breaking loose from its anchors and falling on your head.
Trash in a parking area. This type of rubbish can hide or block liquid and grease, causing a slip, trip and fall case.
But how do you show the owner knew or should have known about the criminal or civil dangers to guests. Well, one way is to show they knew the ceiling was collapsing, or the trash in the garage was a fall hazard. However, most of the time it is not that easy. Most of the time we lawyers use the concept of constructive or implied knowledge.
Constructive knowledge is the term that indicates such knowledge. It is to become assessed in these cases what had been happening around the business in the past.
Any crime that took place in the past that gave an indication that a crime might take place is enough reason for a business to take security measures.
How recently a crime had taken place in the vicinity of the business where the victim has suffered harm. This is also of importance in deciding the foreseeability of the crime.
The same test is used to prove prior knowledge a litany of other accidents like:
Drowning in a public or private pool
Slipping, tripping and falling on public or private sidewalks
Various burn injuries in your workplace
Negligent Maintenance of roadway crashes, etc.
Yes this is key in most cases. So liability could lie if the incident that harmed you was similar to ones that had taken place in the past. But they must be in the proximity of the business or premises. It could be said the owner should have foreseen similar scenarios in future.
Discussed below is another important factor when proving the foreseeability of a crime or even a slippery floor case. It’s called Prior Similar Incidents.
What are Prior Similar Incidents or PSI?
The similarity between the incidents that took place in the past and the one that injured the plaintiff is important. PSI or prior similar incidents can show that this would have been avoided if not but for owner negligence.
Similarity Of Cases And Foreseeability
There is quite a debate and controversy in many court cases over PSI. Different state judges are of different opinions.
Some judges believe that only natural and similar crimes could allow a business to foresee an upcoming danger. Under this jurisdictional split, business are liable if there was a very similar type of crime, for example. Even if it’s a high crime area, a rape of a female patron next door would not give rise to knowledge criminals would assault a male customer at your business, for example.
So if for example, a past a robbery had taken place in the nearby store, that would not instantly prove security negligence unless there was a similar robbery at your location.
But if it’s not similar enough, you can lose. So in order to prove the foreseeability of the crime it had to be similar in nature. Get it so far?
But this PSI theory is not accepted by all courts.
Some courts in California contradict this theory of PSI. These judges say even if the crime is dissimilar, the fact there was high crime at all was enough notice to necessitate security. So some courts have given decisions in the favor victims even when the incidents were not similar.
What is The Stance Of The Plaintiff In Security Negligence Case?
From above information we can easily conclude that any victim who wants to prove that business’ security negligent must come up with ample evidence to show past crime, or PSI. You must show the business knew or should have known about the possibility of the crime at the minimum.
The plaintiff will have to collect information about past cases. It is always best that the plaintiff collect information about similar cases. But bear in mind some courts think any crimes in the vicinity of the business should have encouraged security measures.
Security Negligence Cases In Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is one of the most populous regions in the U.S. Crimes are taking place in this area every minute. So if you have been part of an incident and suffered harm or your property got damaged in a business’ premises, you should contact an experienced law firm as soon as possible.
Dram shop laws are on the books in 42 states and the District of Columbia. These laws hold the owner of the establishment and servers responsible in some cases. Examples include a drunken patron injuring another person inside or even outside of their establishment.
So in the case of a bar or nightclub, the owners and servers may be held liable. This remains true if they permit a patron to become visibly intoxicated at the establishment. But California uses the foreseeability test, not Dramshop laws.
What are the Wrongful Death Dangers?
When there is an incident at a nightclub or bar that kills a patron, it could be from negligence. If it was, wrongful death claims in California are brought by the spouse, children, grandchildren, domestic partner, other dependents. They can also be claims brought by personal representatives of the decedent.
So now the heirs can be awarded damages in a wrongful death lawsuit based on two things.
The pecuniary loss involves financial support for the victim. This is what the dead person would have provided had they lived. And this will include funeral and burial expenses.
Non-pecuniary damages are the loss of moral support, comfort, companionship, assistance in maintenance. And it can include other damages caused by the death.
What About Punitive Damages?
The one damage that heirs will not recover in a wrongful death lawsuit is punitive damages.
What About a Survivor’s Action?
If the person who died was hospitalized and had medical expenses, the decedent’s estate may bring a survivor’s lawsuit. This is done on behalf of the deceased victim’s estate.
How Do You Protect the Rights of Patrons?
Above we discussed the various types of cases, statistics and legal theories lawyers use to prove a negligent security case. Now that you understand more about your rights you need to make a decision.
Should you consult with a lawyer?
We think so.
An incident resulting in harm can have life changing consequences.
In law school, or while reading the law as an extern, the same classes/subjects are studied by all prospective lawyers. And each newly sworn lawyer makes the identical oath to maintain ethics and professionalism.
First-year students must master the concepts of “Contracts, Torts, and Criminal Law,” across all American Bar Association approved schools.
Same goes for most State Bar certified schools.
So in general, most licensed practitioners are masters of the basics, so to speak. (“Jack of all and master of none.”)
So does it really matter which type of attorney is chosen for your particular legal claim?Well, first you must understand how massive law is now insofar as its various subdivisions are concerned. Yes, there are specialists. Lawyers such as those who handle patent law are one class.
But there are also trial lawyers who focus only on a particular area of tort law, like mass torts.
Imagine the law is like a giant skyscraper.Each room of the building represents an area of legal knowledge like:
“Negligence Law,” which would be a small room in the basement. And then, in that tiny room, maybe a desk drawer would contain the legal know how to navigate a bodily injury insurance claim, mediation, and trial.
“Wills and Trusts” with its sub-areas would be in a small room down the hall and so forth.
And then for argument’s sake, make the first few top floors criminal law.
All the lower floors would be civil law, and you can start to see how the law is stacked.
So to answer the original question, yes, as a general rule, it does make sense to hire a personal injury lawyer for a PI case. But only so long as your lawyer is reasonably competent in their particular practice.
After all, you need someone with above average skill for the type of case you have.
Lawyers certainly are not all the same. Therefore, it does matter which type of legal expert you selected.
Some lawyers are general practitioners who handle cookie cutter types of cases. Usually, the cases they handle are not always that complex. This kind of specialist will be the one you call for a canned divorce or bankruptcy, or for a traffic ticket infraction, for example.
The takeaway from all of this is that a particular type of lawyer still may not always have the requisite training for your particular claim or case. So as a seeker of help, you must familiarize yourself with some best practices for consumers.
Then you’ll be able to hire the right type of help sensibly. So for now, we will drill down into a few of the many types of lawyers. So let’s try and understand the similarities and differences as discussed below.
What is a General Practice Lawyer (“GP”)?
Numerous types of attorneys have specialized knowledge in one particular area of law. And some even practice in a few different areas that are related. As noted, general practice lawyers do not just specialize in one particular area. In fact, GP’s usually practice simultaneously in some different areas of law.
It is not uncommon for a general lawyer to practice in several or all of the areas of law listed as follows:
Real Estate law
Corporate and Commercial Law
Civil Litigation Law
Labor and Employment Law
Intellectual Property Law
While there are some GP’s that limit the types of law they practice, this is rare. So there are some that accept cases and cash from virtually any type of client, in a multitude of legal claims.
But by far the most popular and notorious lawyers in our culture are the specialized tort or personal injury lawyers.
So one who is guilty of committing a crime may be punished with jail time. But when a crime is determined, the guilty party or their insurance agency may still have to pay monetary compensation.
Compensation is money that gets paid to the party or parties that suffered the injury as reparations for the criminal OR civil act.
The District or City Attorney prosecutes crimes. The punishment can be a fine, imprisonment, or both.
A civil, or private lawyer sues for money in torts. There is no jail-time.
Are you getting this so far? Personal injury attorneys often elect to take only accept specific kinds of negligence law cases. Most of them avoid hourly billing. So they don’t normally take on criminal clients at all.
Some areas of law he or she may choose to specialize in includes the following:
Work related accident
What are Some Differences between General Lawyers and Personal Injury Attorneys?
A general practice lawyer doesn’t just apply their skills to one particular area of law. So this means they have knowledge in a variety of different case types.
A tort attorney has specialized knowledge and skill in cases that involve personal injury and tort laws. So this means the knowledge they have about cases of bodily harm is more in-depth than a “GP.”
A general practitioner can be a tort specialist, and arguably can be a better lawyer. After all, he understands better how all the law interrelates.
For example, elder abuse law cases have elements of crimes and can even involve some probate issues. But in some cases, a GP lacks the specialized knowledge for a complex area of law, such as an asbestos case. So it can be a crap-shoot. That’s why you should hire ELFPI. PI cases are more targeted and that’s what we do.
To learn more about these issues, contact us at (213) 596-9642.
A personal injury is an injury to an individual’s person caused by another party. Personal injury law is the common term used by people who bring insurance or court claims to recover money for their injuries. Personal injury lawyers are the state bar members who will usually file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a plaintiff such as you. Is this making sense so far?
Good, because this is only the tip of the iceberg.
First, let’s understand that this is all to be handled under what law students call: “Tort Law.”
So let’s try it this way. Annually there are millions of accidents of various types. These can result in thousands of fatalities and millions of people injured.
When an injury or death occurs during an accidental incident, it is governed by personal injury law (aka “tort law.”)
In fact, personal injury law enables injured victims like you or your family to get money for your reasonable losses in a tort case. A tort case can also include losing a loved one in a wrongful death. You are entitled to money for the losses you suffered.
Because of the risks and rewards, specialized plaintiff’s personal injury attorneys are often called upon. These experts can help you to devise plaintiff’s tactics to win money.
The end game is M-O-N-E-Y!
So naturally, these advocates know how to maximize the compensation a tort victim can receive. At least, you hope they know what they are doing right?
So What Exactly is a Tort?
The thing to understand about tort law is that it does not involve criminal charges. Generally, only civil actions are involved in a California tort claim. But arguably, you can bring a private attorney general’s action in an unfair business practices case under a Business and Professions Code §17200 lawsuit.
But beyond that complex area of mixed bag claims, if a criminal violation is charged that resulted in harm, death or serious injury, these are charged under criminal law. That means they will not be a part of your civil case brought under tort law in a civil action. Getting this so far?
In other words, the guilty party can’t be tried in a civil court.
The liable party if accused of a criminal violation, will have that case heard in criminal court where they can get prosecuted. The criminal’s sentence can include fines or jail, or some other penalty.
But you as a tort victim can still sue the wayward defendant in a civil court if they hurt you or killed your loved one.
Are Traffic Accidents the Largest Percentage of Tort Law Cases?
Probably. There are a significant percentage of tort cases brought involving traffic accidents.
Mostly, these include negligence when the liable party’s actions were reckless or careless. That means actions or inaction led to the incident.
In these cases, the property owner has been careless. And this defendant may be entirely responsible or partially liable.
The other kinds of cases that involve tort law are:
Medical malpractice claims
Dog bite attack cases
Defective product claims, etc.
This type of case may also include defamation of character.
What are the Fundamentals of Tort Law?
Tort law has different fundamentals that apply in personal injury cases. Also, some elements may differ from one state to another. These claims will take place in the jurisdiction of the mishap, the plaintiff’s business or residence location. But this is based upon local or federal laws.
The most common claims that may involve parties in different places or even different states would be products liability.
Product liability laws include:
Defective products design.
Manufacturing defects; it may include distributors and retailers.
Another part of products liability law is the failure to warn of potential hazards; which can include the requirement of instructions or directions for a product that can be dangerous if improperly used.
How Do You Bring a Legal Action Under Tort Law?
You, as the plaintiff bring a legal action in tort law against the liable defendant.
Typically, you hire a lawyer to do this for you.
Next, your claim is either negotiated with the insurance company or it gets litigated in a civil state or federal court.
In many cases, your claim will be settled satisfactorily before the case goes to court for a specific settlement amount.
When a measure isn’t decided before going to court, a jury will hear the case. If you win, the panel awards you monetary compensation.
Some lawsuits brought in civil court using tort law are called class action claims. In those complex cases, there will be more than one plaintiff. Most of us have seen national TV class action campaigns for Vaginal Mesh and Asbestos claims right?
So in some cases means there will be many plaintiffs’ who have suffered harm by the same cause. And his could be something like a defective product, drug or automobile. In these cases, the jury award or negotiated settlement will be divided. In other words, it gets shared among the plaintiffs.
And usually the split is based upon a percentage of the degree of harm sustained by each wrongdoer. In tort cases, monetary damages are sought by the plaintiff for damages such as medical expenses. In class actions sometimes a gift certificate is awarded to most class members, and the main award goes to the original one or two class members and a ton of money goes to the lawyers.
Damages for most personal injuries include:
Future costs of permanent or temporary disabilities
Emotional pain and suffering
Is a Wrongful Death also a Tort?
Yes. Except here, the damages are for non contact injuries to you. In other words, you were not touched physically, at least not directly.
In wrongful death claims the damages will include money for:
Loss of companionship
Loss of earnings
Funeral, and burial costs
The defendants in these personal injury cases will use sneaky defenses and insurance company tactics. All of this is done to try and lower the amount of the settlement or jury award. In any event, personal injury cases are the specialty of the tort law lawyer. These are jurists who can litigate a solid court case against the tort defense attorney’s case.
In these types of claims the damages, your Los Angeles, wrongful death attorneys, for example, will include your other losses too. To learn more, contact a personal injury attorney at ELFPI (213) 596-9642.
Why Do So Many Truck Accidents Happen on Small Roads?
California’s roads age quickly. Not only is California the largest population in the country, but its roads and bridges show it. From freeways to country roads, the state regularly ranks towards the bottom in maintenance and upkeep. Furthermore, state funding for Caltrans and local construction regularly wasted.
The issue becomes even worse because of the heavy traffic on the state’s roads. Many large trucks supply cities with food and goods. Many of these items come straight from the inland part of the state. In fact, many of the smaller roads cannot handle such a large load. They cannot take the strain of modern tractor trailers. This is apparent especially in higher traffic areas. Each new car and truck adds extra weight and demise to the roads.
Example and Knowledge
Take, for example the crash in Temecula reported in Patch. A dump truck driver died due to a crash on a two lane road when it collided with another truck.
Many DPWs did not design for such a load. Furthermore, designers undersigned them and are not well lit. They were built for a different purpose in a different age. Caltrans is often aware of these issues yet has not fixed them. For drivers each one of these is a unique challenge. Often Caltrans and other agencies know of these issues and do nothing.
Truck drivers need to know the lay of the road before their route. However, state and local officials also need to keep the roads safe for passage. There is a unique responsibility to riders and motorists.
If you or a loved one were injured due to a road defect or flaw, contact the Ehline Law Firm APLC immediately. Our skilled attorneys specialize in cases like these. We’ve fought and won across the state for traffic accident victims. We leave no stone left unturned. Our team is second to none. We fight for safer roads and lobby the state on behalf of drivers everywhere.