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Personal Injury Attorney - Michael Ehline
Personal Injury Attorney – Michael Ehline

Welcome to the ELFPI.com law blog. Here we discuss everything and anything about serious personal injuries in Greater Los Angeles. So the topics covered here go from drone injuries, commercial driver-less vehicles and beyond.

More than anything, public figure Michael Ehline and invited guests to discuss the many territories of accidents, injuries, science, biomechanics, legislation, court cases and more. Come check out our blog now.

Editorial on Gullibility of Seniors to Scams

Ambulance Chasing Lawyer
Personal injury lawyer winks as she signs a gullible client.

Gullibility is defined as:

“… a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill advised course of action.”

(read more.)

As will be shown, elders trust even dishonest people.

The Most Recent Studies on the Elderly Brain

  • Easier to Scam Old Folks

Two studies show that the aging brain is not able to process scams or misleading information. Professor Shelley Taylor of the University of California, Los Angeles conducted one of the studies. The study data showed that a section of the brain known as the anterior insula makes the elderly are more susceptible to becoming victims of scams.


Seniors are Less Likely to Doubt or Process Visually Deceptive Information

This study data and a survey carried out earlier in the year by the University of Iowa researchers was telling. It showed that aging of the Ventromedial prefrontal cortex leads to a lesser ability to process both skepticism and doubt in visual information.


The Study Itself

The study conducted by Professor Taylor involved 119 elderly residents of a senior living home, who ranged between the ages of 55 and 84. So here, subjects saw photographs of natural or trustworthy faces. Next, they saw pictures of faces that were non-trustworthy. These were pictures of people smiling without the eyes lit-up, shifty gazes, and facial hair. Consequently, the participants were asked to rate the level of trustworthiness.

These same photographs were handed to a group of 24 staff members and students, who were between the ages of 20 and 42. Both groups had equal ratings reported for the real or neutral faces; the difference was evident with the elderly participants when assessing the untrustworthy photos.

So here, the elders were incapable of seeing the visual clues in the untrustworthy photos. Consequently, the research expanded into MRI machine monitoring. Also, the study included 23 senior citizens and 24 staff and students, who saw the same photos. As a result, testing led to the discovery that the anterior insula in the younger group became very active. Conversely, the anterior insula of elderly participants was barely active.


The “Gut Reaction” Part of the Brain

The “gut reaction,” part of the brain alarms you of the ill-at-ease feelings and stress people feel about difficult decisions, ideas, places, and people. UCLA researchers believe the lack of activity in the anterior insula causes the elderly not to notice behaviors or signals with scams. Yet, younger people have no problem picking up on these red flags. Also, this study adds to published data by University of Iowa researchers in August of 2012.

  • This study compared the ability to categorize information that was misleading in people that were elderly or who had damage from injuries to the Ventromedial prefrontal cortex, (vmPFC).
  • This organ is a softball-sized section of the brain. It remains located above the eyes.  And it controls emotions and behaviors. And these are related to the ability to feel doubt and skepticism. Plus, it is related to your impulse control.

And during this study, there were 18 patients with damage to the vmPFC and 21 patients with brain injury, but good vmPFC’s. But 21 patients had healthy brains. Patients saw advertisements deemed misleading by the Federal Trade Commission.

Remarkably, elders were twice as likely to fall for the misleading ads. And this remained true even if the ads included a disclaimer about the validity of the information. Also, the National Institute for Justice conducted a study in 2009. Of particular concern, that study showed around 12% of those over 60 were financially scammed. In 2011 Met Life Inc.’s report rated the annual loss of exploited elderly citizens around 2.9 billion dollars.


This Is Not News to Most Experienced Nursing Abuse Lawyers

As an elder abuse and nursing abuse lawyer, I did not need a study like this to tell me what has been evident in my law office practice for years now on end. Also, most of my colleagues agree. In fact, recent cases of elder financial abuse (click here) already prove that shady characters target seniors. The problem is that many of the abusers are people with a special duty of care and trust over their elder wards.

Because it is so easy to scam the elder, society as a whole must remain vigilant. And that laws already on the books need aggressive enforcement. To learn more about protecting them, contact Ehline Law Firm at 633 West 5th Street #2890 Los Angeles, CA 90071. (213) 596-9642.

Sources:

http://www.examiner.com/article/elderly-brains-can-t-process-scams-misleading-information-two-studies-show

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2012/12/why-senior-citizens-may-be-overly-trusting/

California Law—Negligence and Fireworks Explosion Incidents

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The Fourth of July means cookouts, great foods coming off of the grill, picnics, and watching fireworks with the family. While usually, this is a fun and exciting time, this year the fireworks display in Simi Valley, California was startling. The events that took place approximately five minutes into the twenty-five-minute show.

It occurred when multiple fireworks canisters exploded close to the ground. This explosion resulted in debris shooting out at nearby spectators causing the crowd to scatter and spectators to be burned and injured.


Simi Valley Shout Out

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this year’s Simi Valley fireworks mishap. Last Independence Day there was a similar incident, with a pyrotechnics display in the San Diego, California area. These two Fourth of July mishaps are enough to warrant exploring the legal issues involved in these types of situations.

In incidences where fireworks malfunctions have legal issues, and these typically will constitute negligence, which can vary between the parties involved in the display of fireworks that include the pyrotechnic professional(s), the manufacturer and the party or entity that is responsible for setting up the fireworks display event.

In incidences where fireworks malfunctions have legal issues, and these typically will constitute negligence, which can vary between the parties involved in the display of fireworks that include the pyrotechnic professional(s), the manufacturer and the party or entity that is responsible for setting up the fireworks display event.


Ordinary Care and “Extreme Caution” Distinguished

Under California law, negligence is established when there is injury or damage caused by a lack of “ordinary care.” In California and other jurisdictions when this involves dangerous activities, there is a higher standard required, to use “extreme caution.” So when the dangerous activities involve fireworks, people besides the pyrotechnic professional’s company may be liable.

An example that is in some ways similar it’s the owner of a shooting gallery, who is held to a higher standard of care. In the case of Warner v. Santa Catalina Island Company, 44 Cal.2d 310, 317; a patron was injured when bullets malfunctioned. The court determined the business should be held to this higher standard.

This was because of the use of inherently dangerous ammunition and explosive materials. The industry had the higher standard of care to inspect and test ammunition used in close range shooting. They had to ensure the ammo was safe before distributing bullets to patrons. Makes sense right?


The duty of Care Must Consider the Potential Danger

The California Supreme Court ruled that the burden of care must be proportionate to the risk that may be reasonably anticipated to avoid consequences that could occur. This reasonableness is then open to reason that the person or entity responsible for the setting up and ignition of fireworks would be held to this higher standard of “extreme care.” One case that mainly addresses this issue is Ramsey v. Marutamaya Ogatsu Fireworks Company, 72 Cal.App.3d 516.

This case involves fireworks display, where the pyrotechnics resulted in a premature explosion causing injuries to spectators, including burns. There were cla ims brought against the pyrotechnics professionals, the manufacturer and the sponsors of the event. This case also included the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and a Japanese trade organization and was a non-jury trial. The defendants were found liable.

The Appeal.

The sponsors of the fireworks display appealed, arguing that their standard of duty was to hire pyrotechnic professionals and were not liable for the negligent actions of these experts. They also argued they could not be held liable for faulty manufacturing or the setting off of the fireworks.

The verdict was upheld by the California Supreme Court. So the Court denied the appeal against the sponsors and pyrotechnic professionals. In making the ruling, the court depended upon the Restatement Second of Torts Section 423.

Most of all, employers of parties who engage in dangerous activities are liable in the same manner they would be with any other contractor the company hires. This part of the ruling can be seen on page 525 of Ramsey.

One of the other elements of this case, while the plaintiff brought a lawsuit for negligence, it also included strict liability. The reason for use of this theory was to hold the manufacturer and chain of distribution entities liable for defective products or materials. And in this case, they were explosive fireworks.


Plaintiff’s Duty of Care Matters

The other side of this is the plaintiff bringing an action does have a legal responsibility to a certain degree, which is to act responsibly when attending a fireworks display. “Comparative negligence and apportionment of fault” is the formula to determine fault. Most of all, plaintiffs can lose even if they have injuries.

This form of negligence is seen in the legal action of Matthews v. City of Albany 36, Cal.App.2d 147. So in that case, the plaintiff suffered harm from an unexploded firework at an event. And the plaintiff made the decision to explode it by himself. Obviously, the court ruled against the plaintiff. Of particular interest here, this ruling found the show sponsor or pyrotechnics professional was not liable.


Heightened Standard of Care?

Due to the higher duty of attention, the incident of malfunctioning fireworks in Simi Valley this Independence Day and other incidences of this nature, the civil liability applies. The recent episode like all legal issues will depend on facts. Often these facts remain hidden until the investigation gets completed. This evidence will provide answers about if there was a malfunction.

For example, what if the fireworks had a faulty ignition or were defective in any manner? The law is that if there was negligence in the duty of care or caution used in setting the display, there is a legal liability.

  • Example of Plaintiff’s Burden versus Burden of Defendant

Another answer that will be necessary is whether the spectators were in too close of proximity to where the pyrotechnic professionals were setting these materials off. For example, were the spectators behind an area that had been marked off?

This would speak volumes whether the victims contributed to their misfortune. What was the hiring process by the sponsor for this event of the pyrotechnic company? So here, the harmed spectators could bring civil personal injury claims against the liable entities.

But this will depend on a thorough and timely investigation taking place. This study will determine what happened. And it should also provide the information necessary to prevent this type of incident from occurring during any other fireworks display.

Let’s work
together

Ehline Law Firm
Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 W 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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