Thomas Sokat is a loyal caring human being and good at his job. He took care of everything. All I had to do was sit back and wait for my money - Carrie Adkins

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Tom Sokat

Tom is a personal injury attorney with over 30 years experience. He has two offices in the East Bay, one in Danville, another in Pleasanton, and one now in San Luis Obispo. He is passionate about being the champion for the little guy and getting them compensation for their injuries when due.

How Should You Settle Your California Personal Injury Case: Alone or With Attorney?

After an accident your life has likely changed dramatically. You’re living with the physical and emotional trauma of your accident, and you likely need money for medical bills and time you’ve lost at work. Pursuing a personal injury case may be your best option.

But how should you do it? Should you handle it yourself or hire an attorney? Read on to learn some of the factors you should consider: why you might choose to forgo an attorney, how you would go about working on your own, common pitfalls, and more.

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Here’s why an attorney won’t take your personal injury case

…and why you should not take no for an answer

Is this you?

You’ve been injured through no fault of your own. You could’ve slipped in a puddle of water at the grocery store  or maybe your neck is hurting after a fender bender.  Because you’re certain it was not your fault, you’re either certain you deserve restitution from the offending party or you just want to know if you do.

But try as you may you can’t get an attorney to agree to take your case or even hear you out. Do you want to know why? I’ll explain below, as well as tell you what you can do about it. In many cases you should not take no for an answer.

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Cyclist Harassments Are Always Too Close for Comfort

They’re in the way. They’re too slow. They’re taking over the road.

That’s what some drivers say about cyclists, and sometimes their impatience leads to hostility.

Some time ago Ken Adams and his buddy were cycling Glendora Mountain Road/Glendora Ridge Road,  a popular cycling path in southern California, when a CHP officer buzzed by them. The SUV was about two feet away when it passed them, and later the same CHP SUV did it again, coming even closer to the cycling pair. Shortly after the second pass, the patrol vehicle turned and came at the cyclists from the front.

You can hear for yourself just what the officer had to say about his performance in this video posted in Facebook taken after the officer U-turned to have a chat.

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AT&T’s distracted driving video hits home

The worst part about “Close to Home” is the tension.

You know there’s going to be a crash but the video does not rush to it. It lets the dread build, to the point that you start wishing for the accident to happen just to get it over with.

You wonder who the victims will be — the school age cyclist from the opening, the young mother and her daughter, the married man talking with his wife, or the hispanohablante who just stepped outside?

By the time the crash happens you’ve stopped expecting it, leaving you with shock at the suddenness of it and horror mirroring that of the observers.

It’s a lot like a real accident, but with a last minute rewind and a reminder that “no post/glance/etc. is worth a life” and a voiceover reminding you that “it can wait”.

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What to Do When You’re in a Bike Accident

You’re biking along, and come to an intersection. You have the green. As you head through, a car coming in the opposite direction tries to make a left turn. They clearly don’t see you coming through, and they hit you – hard.

Stories like this one are more common than most of us would like to think. The U.S. saw 45,000 non-fatal bicycle accidents in 2015 – and those are just the ones reported to authorities.

Many people in bicycle accidents don’t know what to do, or assume they have no legal recourse. Read on to learn more about your next steps.

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Can You Trust the Insurance Claims Adjuster in Your Personal Injury Claim?

Insurance adjusters are the people who determine how much money the insurance company should give you in response to your personal injury case. They do this by weighing your version of events, the evidence on hand, the other party’s liability, and other important variables.

As you might imagine, these people have a lot of power – and unfortunately they often don’t use it in your favor. Read on to learn more about insurance adjusters: how their goals differ from yours, how they try to get what they want, why you shouldn’t trust them, and how to avoid getting caught in their web.

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Making Mt. Diablo Safe for Cyclists: A Model For All Communities

Mt. Diablo’s the tallest mountain in the Bay Area, and the view from the summit is world-class. Most days the whole Bay Area is laid out for you, and on particularly clear days you can see all the way to Yosemite, Mount Lassen or Mount Shasta.

Thousands of people visit the Mount Diablo State Park every week to hike, bike, picnic and sightsee. Therein lies the rub: the park’s Summit Road is famously twisty, narrow (lanes are 8 to 9 feet), and shared between motorists and cyclists. Before 2014, Mt. Diablo saw an average 23 collisions reported per year, about one every two weeks. 2017 saw 10 in total, and only one car-and-bike accident. 2018 is on track to have even fewer accidents thanks to road safety improvements, and, as of this writing, no vehicular collisions at all (keep those fingers crossed!).

The trend is not random chance, statistical noise, or fewer people visiting the park—in fact, 700,000 people visit the park annually.

What changed, why did the number of accidents drop?

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3 Year Old Killed in Sears Parking Lot, Antioch

Her name was Angela Nguyen and she was just 3 years old.

She was in the Sears parking lot on Somersville Road when she was hit by a car. An eyewitness told KPIX 5 that “the vehicle barreled through the parking lot at a high speed when the child and her parent were coming out of the Sears store”.

The driver remained on the scene, and apparently no drugs or alcohol were involved.

This deserves a deep pause here.

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California Supreme Court overturns “no duty” rule in Cabral v. Ralph’s

And what we can all learn from this tragedy

In Maria Cabral v. Ralph’s Grocery Company, S178799, filed by the California Supreme Court on February 28, 2011, the Court held in favor of an accident victim and took a very restrictive view of the “no duty rule”.

What is the “no duty rule”?

According to the Findlaw dictionary, under the “no duty rule,” a defendant cannot be held liable for an injury if no duty is owed to the plaintiff.

Court can’t make up its mind

The case of Cabral arose from a motor vehicle collision in which a truck driver working for Ralph’s Grocery Company (“Ralph’s”) stopped his tractor-trailer rig alongside an interstate highway in order to have a snack. The plaintiff’s husband, decedent Adelelmo Cabral, for reasons unknown, veered off the highway and collided with the tractor-trailer, resulting in his death.

Perhaps if we all ask what is best (safe) for everyone and not just what is best for me, more of these tragedies can be avoided.

The case was tried to a jury. The jury found both parties to be negligent, but allocated 90% of the fault for the accident to Cabral and 10% of the fault to Ralph’s tractor trailer driver.

Under California’s comparative fault law, the trial court entered a judgment for Cabral’s widow for 10% of her damages.

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Are drivers still liable if they are hit by a cyclist riding on the sidewalk?

Law enforcement officers sometimes mistakenly cite cyclists who are involved in traffic accidents for violating Vehicle Code §21650.1.

In general, under California law, if someone is riding a bicycle on a roadway, he or she must ride in the same direction as motor vehicles (Vehicle Code §21650.1).

Sidewalks, however, are not legally considered part of the roadway (Vehicle Code §555). Therefore cyclists do not violate Section 21650.1, even if they are riding against the flow and direction of traffic along and within a sidewalk.

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