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News Stories

Congratulations to Bentley & More LLP’s very own Super Lawyers 2019 Rising Stars

Bentley & More is beyond proud to announce that FIVE of our elite team of attorneys have been selected to the Super Lawyers Southern California Rising Stars list.  This designation is earned by less than 2.5% of attorneys under the age of 40 or in practice 10 years or less. Congratulations to Partners Clare Lucich & Matthew Clark and Trial Lawyers Whit Bertch, Evan Grant & Allegra Rineer.  We are proud of the work you put in and your dedication to the firm’s success. #dreamteam #superlawyers #superlawyersrisingstars2019 #bentleymorellp

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Feature Fridays at Bentley & More

For this installment of “Feature Friday” we bring to you Attorney of Counsel Denise Curran Davies. Ms. Davies obtained her undergraduate degree at U.C. Irvine in 1988 and traveled a semester abroad before completing her law degree at Pepperdine University School of Law in 1992 where she graduated with honors. While at Pepperdine, Denise founded the first Hispanic Law Student Association and served as their President.

She then spent 21 years as a worker’s compensation defense attorney and therefore understands the difficult challenges that insurance companies present to our clients. Accordingly, Denise is able to work around those obstacles in order to obtain the maximum benefits for our clients. Her knowledge on the defense aspect serves our offices well.  Denise now represents most of our professional athlete clients, as well as other workers compensation clients.

In her free time, Ms. Davies enjoys spending time with her family, her children, traveling, cooking and playing with her dogs. (The order of which depends on the day in court!)

#FeatureFridays #bentleymorellp #tellingyourstory #dauntlessdenise

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How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death refers to a loss of life because of someone else’s negligence, wanton disregard, or intent to harm. If someone causes wrongful death in California, the civil courts permit the victim’s surviving family members – typically a spouse or children – to demand compensation from the at-fault party. The burden of proof in a wrongful death claim falls on the plaintiff. The surviving family member must prove that the defendant did in fact... Read More

What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Case in California?

A wrongful death claim is an opportunity for surviving family members to seek reimbursement for their economic and noneconomic losses after the wrongful death of a loved one due to negligence. If someone is at fault for the death, that person or party should have to pay for the victim’s losses. In a fatal accident, surviving dependents may also qualify for damages. While each case is unique, all can qualify for the same types of damages in Cal... Read More

What Are the Top Causes of Death in the Construction Industry in California?

California’s construction industry can be extremely dangerous for workers. Even under the best working conditions, incidents can occur that cost construction workers their lives. In an unsafe workplace fraught with negligence, defective equipment, and lack of safety compliance, the risk to construction worker health and safety is enormous. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collects data on national construction industry ... Read More

Bentley & More fight for “Camp Fire” victim in Workers’ Comp case

Elaina Gonzales, a 52-year-old ex-military/ex-police officer fell victim to the November 8, 2018 Camp Fires in Paradise, CA.  At the time, Elaina was working for Allied Security as a security officer.  On that fateful Thursday in November, Elaina was on her way to work.  She was scheduled to report at Feather River Hospital. She got a call at approximately 6:30 a.m. from her Supervisory officer notifying her that the fires were two canyons away. When she arrived, the fires were fast approaching. Embers were flying, brush and trees were burning.  She immediately started evacuating patients of the hospital. It was her and 2 other security officers. She felt a burden of responsibility. She wanted to leave, to get home, get her dog and get to safety. But she couldn’t.

Elaina focused her attention to the emergency room. She lined up patients (some in wheelchairs, some unable to walk) assisting in the evacuation efforts.  Ambulances were unable to get to the hospital.  They had limited resources and were forced to transport patients three at a time down the hill to Enloe Hospital.  In all, she aided in the transport of about 60 patients to safety. She describes the scene as “Active burning. The flames were coming up from the canyon and the building was on fire”.  Once all the patients had been transported, Elaina was last to leave the burning building.  She and the other two security officers jumped in her car in an attempt to get down the mountain to safety.  Ultimately, Elaina ditched her car on the side of the road because traffic down the hill was deadlocked. Performing on adrenaline and impulse, she and the other passengers got out of the vehicle and started to run. Fire was creeping up the mountain on both sides of the road. It was a swirling scene of embers, trees burning, smoke and pandemonium. “Embers were flying…as we were running, one of the officer’s uniform caught fire”, Elaina recalls.  Despite the chaos and fear, she remained focused. She did not want to die. She commanded, “We have to run; we have to get ahead of this…”. Elaina was focused on the safety of the two officers first and foremost.

Elaina had wanted to go back to her home but was unable. Police Officers had the roads blocked and barricaded. Her Dog! She had to leave her dog. Elaina lost her home, her car and her dog in that fire. Unfortunately, it goes beyond physical possessions.

Elaina started experiencing onset anxiety & stress almost immediately. She was experiencing respiratory issues due to heavy smoke inhalation. In the face of these conditions, Elaina was ordered to report back to the Feather River Hospital the following day to the scene of the fire. The purpose, she believes – to secure the hospital from looting. Elaina didn’t feel safe. The conditions were still bad. Fire was still burning. Yet – she went and followed orders. Elaina expressed these concerns and made it clear to her supervisors but they were relentless. They were making demands despite the tragic circumstances. Elaina continued to work, and report, spent hours on the phone with other officers all day and night throughout the weekend. She recalls thinking, “I just wanted a moment to breathe…”.

The ensuing Monday, Elaina sat before her supervisors. She recalls expressing she thought she needed some time off. She asked the HR Manager what her options were.  In her recollection, his direct quote was “I am here to protect the company”.

Elaina retained Keith More, co-founder of Bentley & More LLP. A Workers’ Compensation claim was filed so that Elaina could get the necessary medical treatment for the smoke inhalation and anxiety.  Unfortunately, the claim has been denied. A letter dated February 5, 2019, states “After careful consideration of all available information, we are denying liability for your claim…there is a factual dispute surrounding the circumstances of your alleged injury…”  The work comp insurance carrier claims the fires were an act of G-d and hence not covered.


“How can anyone state these fires were an act of G-d when Pacific Gas & Electric has admitted its responsibility,” exclaimed Keith More.


The Workers’ Compensation system is in place for reasons exactly like this. Yet Elaina’s claim has been denied. Keith and his team at Bentley & More LLP will continue to fight the system. A Priority Conference is scheduled for later this month before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Keith will present facts in support of his client in hopes this decision will be reversed and Elaina will get the benefits she deserves.

          

The Feather River Hospital burns down during the Camp fire in Paradise, California on November 8, 2018.(Photo credit JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Claim?

In California, one could potentially file two different types of lawsuits after the death of a relative: a wrongful death claim and a survival action. Family members of the deceased person (decedent) could be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death claim. The decedent’s estate could also be eligible for an award, but this will take a survival action. Securing compensation from an at-fault party takes filing the correct type of legal acti... Read More