Written By Chris Dolan and Monica La
This week’s question comes from Gerry in San Francisco, CA, who asks: I know that recently, California passed a new law to raise the number of paid sick leave days from three to five days. Can you explain more about this new law and when this change will take effect?
Under California’s existing paid sick leave law, employers must provide at least 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave each year to most workers, including full-time, part-time, and temporary workers, who meet certain eligibility requirements. However, last month, the California state legislature passed Senate Bill No. 616 (“SB 616”), an amendment to the 2014 Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, to set an increased statewide minimum standard for paid sick leave.
According to the new law:
- Employers must provide at least 40 hours or five days of Paid Sick Leave per year.
- Employers must still provide 24 hours or three days of Paid Sick Leave time by the 120th day of employment. SB 616 additionally requires that an employee have no less than 40 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off by the 200th calendar day of employment each calendar year or in each 12-month period.
- Employers who use the accrual method are still required to allow an employee’s remaining accrued Paid Sick Time to carry over to the next year, year of employment, or 12-month period. However, employers may limit this carry-over. SB 616 raises the employer’s authorized limitation on the use of carryover sick leave from 24 hours or three days to 40 hours or five days in each year of employment.
- Under existing law, an employer has no obligation to allow an employee’s total accrual of paid sick leave to exceed 48 hours or six days, provided that an employee’s rights to accrue and use paid sick leave are not otherwise limited, as specified. SB 616 increases those accrual thresholds for paid sick leave to 80 hours or ten days.
- Employers must provide written notice to employees about the amount of paid sick leave available to them, including the amount on the employee’s itemized wage statement or in a separate writing provided on the designated pay date with the employee’s payment of wages. If an employer provides unlimited paid sick leave or unlimited paid time off to an employee, the employer may satisfy this section by indicating on the notice or the employee’s itemized wage statement “unlimited.”
SB 616 also includes an exemption for employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that provides for paid sick leave, subject to certain conditions. Specifically, the bill requires that such employees be permitted to use sick leave for the same reason as employees who are not subject to a CBA. Employers may not retaliate against employees who use paid sick leave, and employees are entitled to a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if the employer takes an adverse employment action within 30 days of certain protected activity.
The new California Paid Sick Leave law takes effect on January 1, 2024, affecting virtually all employers with employees in the state, preempting any local ordinance to the contrary.
Written By: Chris Dolan and Cioffi Remmer
This week’s question comes from Jane from Dublin, CA, who asks: I’ve seen news reports about cases of elder abuse. I know someone who may be a victim. Can you explain what constitutes an Elder Abuse case?
Almost 40 years ago, the California legislature enacted the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act to protect the elderly and dependent adults from abuse, neglect, and abandonment by caretakers, nursing facilities, and other custodial care providers. The statutes were enacted under the California Welfare & Institutions Code § 15600, et. seq.
Even where an elder or dependent adult may not suffer physical injury but suffers financial injury, California established a cause of action for Financial Elder (or Dependent Adult) Abuse. This occurs when a person or entity takes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for wrongful use or with intent to defraud. (Welfare & Institutions Code § 15610.30). This includes, but is not limited to, the all-too-common practice of identity theft, which can come with hefty criminal penalties.
One of the main purposes was to enact reporting requirements for health practitioners, care custodians, clergy members, and employees of county adult protective services and local law enforcement agencies of known or suspected cases of abuse of elders and dependent adults and to encourage community members to do so. (Welfare & Institutions Code § 15601(a)).
Elder and Dependent Adult abuse cases differ from negligent injury cases in that the legislature provided additional remedies not available in garden variety negligent cases. If a custodial caregiver is liable, the remedies include recovery of attorney fees, costs, and the availability of punitive damages. (Welfare & Institutions Code § 15657).
In California, an elder is anyone residing in the state, 65 or older. (Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.27). On the other hand, a dependent adult refers to anyone between 18 and 64 residing in California who has physical or mental impairments that limit their ability to carry out normal activities and protect their rights. This includes individuals with physical or developmental disabilities or those whose physical or mental abilities have declined due to aging. Additionally, anyone between 18 and 64 years of age admitted to a 24-hour health facility as an inpatient is considered a dependent adult. (Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.23).
As mentioned earlier, elder abuse refers to any action that involves mistreatment of an elderly or dependent adult. Abuse can be defined as physical harm, neglect, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or any other treatment that results in physical harm, pain, or mental suffering. Abuse can also be categorized as the deprivation of goods or services necessary to prevent physical harm or mental suffering or as financial abuse.
Neglect can refer to several things, such as failing to assist with personal hygiene or providing medical care for physical and mental health and safety hazards. Additionally, neglect can be defined as the failure to prevent malnutrition, dehydration, and other forms of neglect outlined in Section 15610.57 of the Welfare & Institutions Code.
Abandonment means deserting or willfully forsaking an elderly or dependent adult by anyone having care or custody of that person under circumstances where a reasonable person would continue to provide care and custody. (Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.05).
A care custodian is an administrator or an employee of certain public or private facilities or agencies, including members of the support and maintenance staff, such as 24-hour health facilities, clinics, home health agencies, adult day care, independent living centers, community care facilities, respite care facilities, and others listed in section 15610.17 of the Welfare & Institutions Code.
If you suspect you or a loved one might be an elder or dependent adult abuse victim, the Welfare & Institutions Code can aid in identifying acts that constitute elder and dependent adult abuse. However, it can be complex to navigate. It is advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney who can help you understand and navigate the legal process to ensure that you or your loved one receives the necessary help and support.
Written By: Christopher B. Dolan and Philip Johnson
This week’s question comes from Bronson from San Francisco, who asks: Is there such a thing as an elder abuse restraining order to protect seniors from mistreatment and abuse? If so, who can request one? Can they be someone other than a family member?
Yes, California courts grant elder or dependent adult restraining orders to protect victims of emotional, physical, or financial abuse or neglect. The order can require that someone not contact the elder, keep a certain distance from the elder, move out from the living space they previously shared with the elder, or undergo counseling. The restraining order can sometimes prevent someone from legally owning firearms or ammunition.
An elder is anyone who is at least 65 years old. Elders and dependent adults can request a restraining order to protect themselves. Conservators, trustees, attorneys, guardians ad litem, or county adult protective services workers can also request a restraining order to protect an elder.
To request a restraining order, you must complete several forms listed below. Be sure to make at least three copies of each document to distribute later.
- EA-100 Form: You will tell the judge the details of the elder abuse on this form. You will include what protection you seek and if you need immediate protection. Be detailed in describing the abuse. Start with the most recent incident of abuse or neglect. How often does it occur? When and where does it happen? Offer as many details as you know. As difficult as it will likely be to write, the judge must know what is going on.
- CLETS-001 Form: This document tells the police who they are being asked to restrain. Again, provide as much detail as possible. The person you seek to restrain will not get a copy of this document.
- EA-109 Form: This form is a Notice of Court Hearing. The court will complete most of this document. The applicant will only need to answer the first two parts of this document, which ask who is seeking protection and from whom you seek protection.
- EA-110 Form: This form is required when seeking immediate protection under a temporary restraining order. You can complete this form if necessary.
It is important to note that some county courthouses have their own local forms you must complete. You can find these documents at your local court’s free self-help center, or you can ask the court clerk.
Once the court reviews your documents, they will give you a hearing date on your EA-109 form. In item 5 on Page 2, the form will also tell you the date by which you must serve your papers on the restrained party. Reach out to your county sheriff to arrange service. Once served, the sheriff or marshal should provide you with a Proof of Service form.
On your hearing date, you can submit evidence and present witnesses. Make three copies of all pictures, text messages, emails, or other physical evidence. You must share a copy with the court and another with the person you seek to restrain.
Do appear at your hearing date, even if you need more time to gather evidence. If so, ask the judge at your hearing for more time. Of course, the judge may not grant this request, so be prepared to provide as much information as possible.
Typically, the judge will rule on the day of the hearing. If the judge grants the restraining order, they will likely sign an EA-130 form. On item 16 of that form, you will see if the judge ordered you to serve the restrained party with this document. It is also possible the judge will grant the order but instruct you to fill out the EA-130 form. If so, complete the form and submit it to the court clerk. Ask the court clerk when your form will be ready for you to pick up. The EA-130 form is the restraining order. Make at least two copies, and always keep one with you.
The Dolan Law Firm, PC unequivocally condemns attacks on innocent civilians in Israel, including the violent, despicable attacks on Israeli civilians by the terrorist organization, Hamas.
These heinous acts are indefensible, as are any and all hate crimes perpetrated against our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Middle East and worldwide. We stand in solidarity with the victims of these atrocities and their families, and firmly condemn any antisemitic hate crimes or threats of violence abroad or at home, whether in our workplaces, our schools, our places of worship, our public spaces, or in our own backyards.
We must collectively, unilaterally reject barbarism, violence and mass murder as tools for religious zealotry or political gain, and stand against it unwaveringly. We must regard these attacks for what they truly are: an act of terror on Jews.
Written By Chris Dolan and Jeremy Jessup
This week’s question comes from Thomas J. from Foster City, CA, who asks: Given the number of Amazon vans and delivery personnel who are on the road, do the Amazon delivery drivers have to undergo any specialized training.
Great question Thomas J.,
In a report released in 2022 by the Strategic Organizing Center, nearly one in five drivers making deliveries for Amazon suffered injuries in 2021, a 40% increase from the previous year’s injury rate. Despite this, California does not require any specialized training for drivers. The Strategic Organizing Center report also found that contracted Amazon delivery drivers suffered injuries at nearly two-and-a-half times the rate of the non-Amazon delivery industry.
In fact, most Amazon delivery drivers, with a few exceptions, do not even need to have a commercial drivers license. Below is a recent job posting and the qualifications needed to be an Amazon delivery driver:
- Eligible to work in the US
- At least 21 years of age
- Valid California Driver’s License
Some have indicated that it is not necessarily poor driving or lack of training that has resulted in an increase in injuries, but the demands of Amazon itself. According to the report, Amazon’s “unmanageably high quotas” for delivery drivers are a major catalyst behind the high injury rates. It cites a class-action lawsuit filed by a Wyoming Amazon delivery partner, which claimed the company expected drivers to deliver about 350-400 packages per day per van. This amounts to drivers making one delivery every 1 to 2 minutes, presuming they don’t take any breaks, the report said.
Unfortunately, it does not seem that California is doing anything about this, unlike Colorado.
In Colorado, as reported by Aldo Svaldi in the Denver Post, before an Amazon delivery driver hits the road in Denver, they have likely gone through a three-day course developed locally, one that could eventually serve as a model of delivery driver training across the country.
Mr. Svaldi reported that the Last Mile Delivery Academy is in unincorporated Adams County, Colorado, in a former distribution center. It has classrooms, virtual reality simulators and an indoor driving course, complete with facades of porches and parking lanes.
All of it is designed to help drivers deliver packages more efficiently and safely.
“We have trained 6,200 drivers since opening in March 2022, and we plan to train 2,000 more in the next several weeks,” said Terry Bailey, a program manager, during Mr. Svaldi’s tour of the academy Aug. 24.
Drivers spend the first day at the academy in classrooms, working through virtual reality simulations of scenarios that could come up.
The second day involves driving vans around an indoor track, complete with porch facades, with a trainer sitting nearby. The third day involves going out on the streets with a trainer. “Among Denver-area delivery drivers who have completed the Last Mile Delivery Academy course, there was an average 10% improvement among safe and distraction-free driving rates, road incidents and dog incident rates in the first 16 days alone compared to the same quarter last year,” said Nissa LaPoint, an Amazon spokeswoman.
Prior to the academy, driver training was limited and was primarily online.
Perhaps California Legislatures can work with Amazon to develop a similar type of program to ensure the safety of everyone.
Written by Chris Dolan
This week’s question comes from Lawrence from Marin County, CA, who asks: I have seen kids (ages 12-15) ride e-bikes resembling motorcycles. Some kids wear full-face helmets, while others wear regular helmets. I’m no stranger to riding motorcycles with full gear, but I have concerns when I see e-bikes on the sidewalk, local parking lots, bike paths, and fire roads. These kids have good handling skills doing wheelies on the sidewalk. Seems dangerous to me. Are these e-bikes considered bicycles? How are they classified? Do you need a license to operate one? They can travel at high speeds. I have concerns that someone will be seriously injured, both the rider and pedestrians.
You are not alone. Many people, especially sidewalk pedestrians, have safety concerns. We should briefly touch on what e-bikes are and how they are classified. Another problem is that the next wave of electric vehicles is approaching fast, and we are now seeing what appear to be electric motorcycles zooming past the e-bikes.
An electric bicycle (e-bike) is a bicycle with an electric motor that assists in the propulsion of the bike instead of being propelled solely by the pedaling of its rider, as with a traditional bicycle. In California, e-bikes’ motor must be less than 750 watts. This rule may sound familiar, as we have previously discussed the e-bike classifications on our blog. Right now, let’s focus on this new wave of electric motorcycles and talk about why they are not e-bikes according to the laws in California.
There are several other classifications of bicycles in California, and this new wave of electric motorbikes will likely fall into one of these classifications. The difference between these below classifications is the type of license needed and how fast the vehicles can be.
California licenses have three important endorsements: M-1, M-2, and Class C.
- An M-1 endorsement allows a licensed driver to operate any two-wheel motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized scooter and all vehicles listed under Class M2;
- An M-2 endorsement allows a licensed driver to operate any motorized bicycle, moped, or motorized scooter. These are the slower of the motorized bikes;
- Class C licensees, a standard driver’s license, may only operate a motorbike if it has a sidecar attached, is three-wheeled, or is a motorized scooter.
Knowing these three classifications informs us already that the riders of these motorized bikes should have a license. If they don’t, they could risk legal trouble or hurt others due to the lack of necessary precautions and training.
California Vehicle Code § 406(a) defines a motorized bicycle and moped as any two or three-wheeled device with fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power or no pedals if powered solely by electrical energy. Further, a motorized bicycle has an automatic transmission, a motor (electric or not) with some restrictions on horsepower. It can propel the device at a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on level ground. A valid driver’s license with at least an M-2 endorsement is required for a motorized bicycle like this.
California Vehicle Code § 405 sets forth yet another classification of bikes: Motor-Driven Cycle. These have a motor of less than 150cc. These are one step above the motorized bicycles and require an M-1 endorsement to ride. This is the same endorsement required for a standard motorcycle.
California Vehicle Code § 400 defines a motorcycle and it is important to know that these vehicles have more than 150cc of power in their engine. An M-1 endorsement is required to ride a motorcycle.
As a society, we have built a world of cars, trucks, and other massive, metal, high-speed tools that can devastate, injure, and kill at a moment’s notice. This devastation is amplified when someone is riding on an unprotected, two-wheeled, hard-to-see machine. These new motorized bikes are not “e-bikes” and certainly not bicycles. At Dolan Law Firm, we see this devastation and its impact on many lives. Even the most careful riders can be impacted by motorized vehicles’ dangers. It is very important to recognize why these bike classifications exist and why license endorsements are a requirement to ride motorized bikes.
Written By: Chris Dolan and Vanessa Deniston
This week’s question comes from Justin in San Leandro, CA, who asks: I work at a high-security facility monitored in various locations by video cameras. As a requirement part of the hiring process, I was required to undergo a background check and provide personal information I felt was overly invasive and not pertinent to my position. I also received a notice shortly after I began work that, as a matter of policy, my employer had the right to examine all communications sent to or from my email account and personal phone during work hours. Do you have any privacy rights at work?
We have all felt that unsettling feeling of being overly observed. While an employee relinquishes several privacy rights during the employment hiring process and upon entering a workplace environment, accepting a job does not equate to a wholesale forfeiture of your privacy rights, far from it.
Common Privacy Issues Arising in the Hiring Process
Many California employers utilize background checks in their hiring process. These background checks are typically customized depending on the information sought. Still, most employers seek to discover any concerning criminal history, past employment verification, and confirmation of education and/or credentials. However, some important limitations exist on how and when employers can run background checks on applicants.
California’s Fair Chance Act was passed into law in 2018 and codified in Cal. Gov. Code §12952 represents the country’s most restrictive criminal background check law. Under the Fair Chance Act, California employers can engage in a criminal background check for most positions only after the employer makes an initial offer of employment to the employee. Once an offer has been made, an employer cannot withdraw the offer due to information gleaned in a criminal background check until the employer conducts an individualized assessment, considering the nature of the offense and duties of the job applied for. Should an employer still decide to withdraw the offer, the employer must explain in writing the reason for rescinding, provide a copy of the background check, and give the potential employee five days to respond.
Collection of Personal Information in an Interview or Application
During the interview, an applicant can learn much about how a potential employer will treat their privacy through the employment relationship. Non-job-related questions seeking personal details about a candidate’s personal life are typically forbidden, for instance, inquiring about someone’s citizenship or immigration status, marital status, physical or mental health, religious affiliation, or when a candidate graduated from high school or college. While questions like, “So, where are you originally from?” or “We have a big work Christmas party every December. What holidays do you celebrate?” may appear at first blush harmless small talk, California prohibits questions seeking to learn information that can lead to discriminatory hiring practices, based on a candidate’s protected class set out in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Common Privacy Issues Within the Work Environment
Privacy Around the Office
Once an employee enters the work environment, the key inquiry is where, when, and in what context does an employee have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Generally, California courts have held employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in common areas or walkways in the workplace. But what about taking a non-work phone call behind a closed office door or sending a personal email from a work computer? While many factors go into determining whether an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy, generally, an employer can monitor workplace communications, including business phone calls, emails, voicemail, and instant message chats on a company computer.
Audio Recordings and Personal Phone Calls
California is a two-party state with respect to audio recordings of confidential conversations. In effect, this means employers cannot record confidential conversations without the express consent of all parties to the conversation. Indeed, California Penal Code 632 makes such unauthorized recordings a criminal offense. Employers can and often do navigate these restrictions by obtaining their employees’ written or verbal consent. Often, this comes in the form of written “acknowledgment” by the employee during their onboarding process of the employee’s agreement to a company HR policy permitting the employer to audio record conversations. When it comes to personal calls, employers are prohibited from monitoring them unless employees make them from business phones after being told not to.
Video recordings of workers in California are generally allowed if they occur in a “public” area and if all video monitoring is disclosed to employees. According to the California Labor Code § 435, an employer cannot audio or video record any employee in a restroom, locker room, or room designated for changing clothes. Again, each circumstance is unique, and many factors are considered with respect to areas and conditions under which an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Monitoring Activity on Company Computers
According to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a federal law passed in 1986, an employer-provided computer system is the employer’s property. This means an employee waives their reasonable expectation of privacy when using a work computer. Thus, an employer can monitor everything on that computer, including emails, downloads, internet browsing, etc. This is especially true if an employer states in their policies that electronic communications are to be used strictly for work-related matters and that the employer reserves the right to monitor or access all employee Internet or e-mail usage. Most employers provide a similar version of this policy in their employee handbook, which requires the employee to sign. Most Courts have found that just by providing this signature, an employee waives their expectation of workplace privacy.
Common Privacy Issues in the Virtual Space
A word to the wise: social media accounts that are publicly available are available for your employer or potential employer to comb through. Employers can and often do look up prospective and current employees’ social media accounts. Publicly posting any content to your page or your account is discoverable information. While an employer cannot discriminate or retaliate against you for posting about issues protected by law, for instance, workplace conditions or pay, you should always consider how an employer or prospective employer may view the information.
With that said, an employer cannot demand that you accept a friend request or hand over your private username and password unless a case of harassment, misconduct, or a violation of company policy or applicable law arises. If you have marked your account “private,” this affords at least some privacy, but understand an employer can always attempt to view the information through one of your followers. As California is an at-will state, we cannot understate the importance of exercising caution in posting online content.
If you believe your employer is unreasonably interfering with your right to privacy or is retaliating against you in connection with an invasion of privacy, contact an attorney like the Dolan Law Firm to discuss the circumstances and better understand your rights.
Christopher B. Dolan is the owner of the Dolan Law Firm. Vanessa Deniston is a senior associate attorney in our Oakland, CA, office. We serve San Francisco Bay Area and California clients from our San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles offices. Email any questions and topics for future articles to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each situation is different, and this column does not constitute legal advice. We recommend consulting with an experienced trial attorney to understand your rights fully.
Written By Chris Dolan and Anna Pantsulaya
This week’s question comes from George from San Francisco, CA, who asks: I see many Amazon truck drivers zipping by and rushing through neighborhoods. They all look like they are in a rush, and some appear to be speeding. In my neighborhood, it’s not rare to see two deliveries made in one day. What do I do if an Amazon truck crashes into me? Who is responsible, the driver or Amazon?
Amazon is one of the United States’ largest delivery service providers, with its delivery personnel distributing billions of packages annually. Regrettably, the heightened pressure to meet delivery targets and long hours to ensure timely package delivery elevates the potential for accidents involving Amazon drivers.
Most of Amazon’s delivery drivers can be classified into two categories: those who operate within the Amazon Flex system and those who serve as DSP drivers. Amazon provides commercial auto insurance exclusively to individuals using the Amazon Flex platform. It’s vital to underscore that Amazon considers Amazon Flex drivers as independent contractors, not employees of Amazon.
Amazon Flex v. Amazon DSP
Amazon considers DSP drivers as neither Amazon employees nor independent contractors. Instead, they think they are employees of separate independent delivery service partners, although they will often drive Amazon-branded vehicles. In comparison, Amazon Flex delivery drivers use their own vehicles to deliver packages for Amazon, similar to DoorDash/UberEats.
Amazon does not provide any auto insurance coverage to delivery drivers of a DSP. DSP drivers should have commercial auto insurance coverage through their employer. Their employer is considered a separate entity contracting with Amazon to perform delivery services for them.
Conversely, Amazon Flex delivery drivers qualify for Amazon Flex insurance provided they possess a valid personal auto insurance policy. This coverage applies if the accident occurred while the driver was actively engaged in a delivery assignment within their designated delivery block.
Amazon Flex insurance coverage includes:
- $1,000,000 in liability for bodily injury and damages to any third party;
- $50,000 in comprehensive and collision coverage for property damage to Amazon Flex delivery drivers’ vehicles, contingent upon whether they have comprehensive coverage on their personal policy;
- $1,000,000 in uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injury and damages to the driver.
What happens when you’ve been injured in an accident involving an Amazon delivery driver?
Amazon consistently maintains that it should bear no responsibility for its independent contractors. The company asserts that if the drivers are not classified as actual employees, they cannot be held accountable for the errors made by partner drivers. This argument is made even when Amazon’s regulations govern various aspects, ranging from the drivers’ presence on social media to the specifics of package delivery, including order and quantity. Despite drivers often operating vans adorned with the Amazon logo, donning Amazon uniforms, utilizing in-vehicle cameras for monitoring driving behavior with audible corrective feedback via companies like Netradyne, and following route guidance from Amazon’s proprietary mapping software, Amazon still contends it bears no responsibility.
Amazon uses various programs, including ASP, DFP, and the “Flex” driver programs, to avoid liability and paying in situations where their delivery drivers cause accidents. Although Amazon often controls delivery drivers’ routes, schedules, and safety rules, they do everything they can to characterize these drivers and operators as non-employees.
Consequently, if an Amazon delivery driver’s negligence has injured you, you must contact an attorney experienced in taking on cases against Amazon.
Written By Chris Dolan and Megan Irish
This week’s question comes from a Football fan Trace from Marin County, CA, who asks: My husband and I are ready to watch football. During this season we spend time with family and friends rooting for our NFL teams, our grandkids flag teams and our local high school football team. Yes, we like football. We’ve got tickets for a game at Levi Stadium ( Seahawks v. 49ers ) and cannot wait for November. We are really looking forward to the game at Levi! With all the excitement in the stands and crowds, what happens if one of us gets hurt at a game? I know I get excited, but I have seen people really get into it and maybe over do it.
It’s that time of year again when we all break out the chips and dip and coolers with all the great snacks, don the jerseys of our favorite players, and tune in for some football. It’s great that you two will go out to support your grandkids with their sports teams! Be sure to put on those school colors. Whether watching live at a stadium after a tailgate lunch, at a sports bar, or from your friend’s couch, it’s a time to cheer for your team! Regardless of where you guys are watching, fans can suffer personal injuries at a game. So, if one of you gets hurt, consider the following:
- Were you watching the game at a stadium? If so, who owns the stadium and surrounding land? Sometimes, a governmental entity owns, manages, or controls the local stadium. If so, you may have a short statute of limitations to bring a claim since it is only six months.
- Also, if your stadium or field belonged to the government, did the injury occur because of a dangerous condition on the public property, or did some third party’s actions cause the injury?
To succeed against the government in a personal injury claim from a game time event, you must show a dangerous condition on public property. To prove a dangerous condition, you must show that:
- The governmental entity owned and/or controlled the property,
- That the property was dangerous at the time of the injury,
- That the dangerous condition created a foreseeable risk of the kind of injury that occurred,
- Either an employee’s conduct created the condition, or the entity knew or should have known about the dangerous conditions and had the opportunity to correct them but failed to do so. You were harmed, and the condition was a substantial factor in causing your harm.
If you witness an injury, snap some photos of the area where it occurred, as it may be important evidence of the condition of the area. If you are the injured party, ask a friend, family member, or witness to take photographs and share them with you.
If you were at a sports bar or a friend’s house, you likely have a longer statute of limitations of two years, but you will still need to submit a claim with the proper insurance company promptly. To bring a claim against a sports bar and/or a friend’s homeowners’ policy, it is called a premises liability claim and would require you to show that:
- The defendant owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property,
- That the defendant was negligent in the use of the property or its maintenance,
- That you were harmed and
- That the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing your harm.
Regardless, if you or someone you know is injured at a game, seek the appropriate medical care to get better.
Another concern with the return of football is the increase of people who will drink and drive. According to the statistics the California Department of Motor Vehicles kept, there are over 1,000 DUI-involved fatalities each year in California. There are over 100,000 arrests each year for driving under the influence. With football games being a natural and regular place to partake in alcohol, have a designated driver or alternative way to get home instead of drinking and driving.
Nonetheless, sharing the fall season with family and friends and a camaraderie for the game is great. Chips, dips, chicken wings, and sweets, and whether you put on red, gold, silver, black, or local high school colors, be safe, cheer loudly, and enjoy the game.