Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Taxi Vouchers to Prevent DUI Deaths

In a merry month like December, parties are everywhere. People tend to drink alcohol beyond their limits. No wonder drunk driving incidents register at its highest in this month.

For people whose loved ones had been killed in drunk driving, giving taxi vouchers is their way of keeping drunk drivers off the streets.

Lev Foundation has been giving free $10 taxi vouchers to convince tipsy drivers to take the taxi instead of driving.

The foundation was established by the family and friends of Daniel Levian who was killed by a drunk driver.

In California, the Office of Traffic Safety and the California Highway Patrol are getting ready for the holidays. In fact, motorists are reminded of their plans these holidays hoping they would include as part of merry-making activities the wearing of seatbelts when driving and having a designated driver.

Victims of drunk driving may file a personal injury claim against a negligent motorist who caused the accident. An injured victim may hire a car accident lawyer to help him/her pursue compensation claims against a drunk driver.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Speeding Drunk Driver Kills Woman, Injures Her Passenger

Alcohol involvement and speeding often go hand-in-hand.

A woman from Ontario was fatally injured and killed while one of her passengers was seriously injured when a speeding drunk driver from Anaheim rear-ended her car on the I-10 freeway.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Thomas Vanauken, 43, was driving his 2009 Acura MDX SUV at a speed of more than 120 miles per hour. Vanauken crashed against the back of the woman’s 1995 Mitsubishi when she reduced her speed as the traffic slowed down.

Vanauken continued to drive after the collision but later on flipped and crashed his car himself when he hit the center divider wall in the car pool lane.

He was taken to Kaiser Hospital for his minor injuries but the 42-year-old driver of the Mitsubishi was pronounced dead at the same hospital. The 32-year old female passenger from Pomona suffered moderate injuries.

The CHP has indicated that Vanauken’s level of intoxication and unsafe speed caused the crash and will be facing charges including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated and causing injury or death.

A blood alcohol content level as low as 0.03–0.059 percent (.08 percent is California’s legal limit) already can decrease a person’s inhibitions and impair a driver’s alertness, judgment, coordination and concentration.

A lot of drivers, particularly male drivers, once under the influence, would drive above the reasonable speed. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol consumption is prevalent among drivers involved in speeding-related crashes.

As much as 40 percent of the drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher involved in fatal crashes were speeding in 2004.

This season, think twice before you drink and slow down before you speed. Driving drunk and speeding will reduce your ability to steer and drive your car safely and increase the risk of a fatal car crash.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Owners of Escondido Property to Remove Abandoned Shack Connected to Fatal DUI Crash

In what many call as a step a little too late, owners of an abandoned guard shack in unincorporated Escondido will be brought down after being linked to a fatal DUI car accident that killed an 18-year-old.

A spokesperson from New Urban-West, the owners of the building, said that they are making arrangements to tear down the building and clean up the 10-acre property at 2070 Country Club Drive to prevent any more trespassing.

This move came after it was discovered that some teens used the dilapidated shack to drink and party before the December 11 crash that killed Jeffrey David Hodson.

Hodson’s mother claimed that the shack should have been torn down years ago as it was being used by a lot of teens as a place to drink alcohol for years.

It took her son’s death to finally wake up the people who own the property.

Preventing car accidents, especially those related to DUI, needs active involvement from the community.

Both the residents and business owners have a role to play in preventing these tragedies from happening.

The parents should be able to educate the people in their household, especially their children about the dangers of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

The business owners in their little ways can also contribute.

Store owners can be stricter about requiring IDs from those buying alcohol or by making sure that their unused buildings or structures will not be used to secretly hold parties where teens drink alcohol.

Although, we can make a claim for personal injuries or wrongful death against drunk drivers, the money awarded cannot really replace the losses we incur in a car accident.

Preventing a DUI accident from happening is better than trying to handle the consequences after it has already happened.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Surviving SUV Rollover Accident

An SUV collision in Long Beach Freeway injured nine people, two of whom are children.

According to the California Highway Patrol, a Ford Explorer blew out its front left tire which led its driver to overcorrect and shoot across two lanes. It crashed against a GM SUV and the impact of the collision caused the Ford to rollover three to four times.

Nine people were riding in the Ford SUV and four were ejected during the rollover because they were not properly restrained. The driver suffered major injuries while the driver of the GM SUV was uninjured.

Car rollover accidents usually occur when drivers lose control of a vehicle – it can be triggered by a tire blow out; a sudden, sharp turn; and most of the time, it happens while driving an SUV.

SUVs, as well as pick-ups are notoriously prone to rollover. Its physical differences with smaller cars and sedans such as its width, higher mass distribution and higher center of gravity can increase the chances for a rollover accident especially if drivers are careless or reckless.

SUV occupants accounted for as much as 58 percent of all people killed in crashes were in vehicles that rolled over in 2008.

Rollover accidents usually result to more fatalities than any other kind of motor vehicle accident. Many rollovers lead to partial or full ejection of occupants from the vehicle and a lot of occupants who get ejected die from serious head injuries immediately.

In 2008 alone, 9,023 passenger vehicle occupants died in crashes where their vehicle rolled over.

While it would be impossible to predict exactly when a rollover accident can happen (it can be caused by the driver’s own negligence, another party’s negligence, or even the road conditions), there is a way to prevent serious injuries or at the worst case scenario, death.

Using a seatbelt is the easiest and most effective way to reduce the risk of injury or death in a rollover. Occupants in vehicles that roll can be thrown from the vehicle if not properly restrained – as much as 66 percent of people killed in passenger vehicle rollover crashes in 2007 were unbelted.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Police Commences 18-Day Crackdown on Drunk Drivers this Holiday Season

Bad news for drunk drivers in San Diego, various law enforcement agencies in the county has joined forces to begin an 18-day crackdown on possible DUI drivers.

Actually, this is more like good news as this program may save your life.
With the advent of the holiday season, authorities expect a rise in the number of DUI cases.

The police know that there are still a lot of negligent drivers out there who believes they can drive a car even when drunk.

Various agencies will set up a number of DUI checkpoints in key locations and flood the streets with police officers to deter these drunken drivers from causing car accidents.

This zero-tolerance effort will last through January 3, thanks to the grant from California’s Office of Traffic Safety.

This yearly program has been proven effective in decreasing the number of car accidents related to DUI.

Hopefully, this year will set another record with the lowest number of injuries and fatalities related to alcohol or drugs.

If that happens we truly will have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays.

5th DUI Offender Sentenced to a Year in Jail

Recently, prosecutors in Windsor have decried the one-year jail sentence imposed on a drunk driver convicted for the fifth time.

Thirty-five year old Emilio Guzman Garcia was busted for DUI last October 15 at around 1 AM in the area of Old Redwood Highway and Starr Road and driving with a suspended license.

He had a .12 percent blood-alcohol level which is above the state’s limit of .08 BAC and was also driving around with a half-full can of beer on the front seat and more cans of beer on the backseat.

Garcia had prior DUI convictions since 1996 and had previously also been sentenced to a year in county jail in his last conviction. He also had a previous conviction of possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

Judge Elliot Daum, who had sentenced Garcia in his last conviction, sentenced him again to one year in county jail and probation amidst protests for a harsher sentence from prosecutors.

In all the years Garcia has been driving drunk, he’s been lucky enough not to have been involved in any fatal car crash accident. In 2008 alone, 11,773 people died in highway crashes involving a drivers or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

California had 1,029 alcohol-related car crash fatalities and 28,457 were injured in collisions with drivers having a alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

Sooner or later, no matter how careful the driver is, driving under the influence will still result to an accident. Tragically, it may end up taking the driver’s life, his passenger or even an innocent motorist and pedestrian.

The California Office of Traffic Safety reminds drivers this holiday season to bear in mind, that if you drive and drink over the blood alcohol limit, you will be arrested and surely charged.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Trucker Found in Truck Stop after Leaving Accident Scene

A trucker fled the scene of a truck accident but was later found by Ontario police at a truck stop.

According to Ontario police, Francisco Lecaro of Perris of California left after hitting two people who were chaining up their own truck on a freeway off-ramp in Eastern Oregon.

Milton Belton, 49, died at the scene while Miguel Victorio-Alvarez, 45, sustained non-life threatening injuries.

Lecaro just made his situation even worse by running from the scene of the accident.
Instead of just worrying about civil liability lawsuits that could be taken care of the trucking company and its insurance company, he chose to leave the scene.

As a result, he gave the city a reason to prosecute him criminally.

The truck accident even resulted in death which means he could at be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

We all have a duty to stop after a vehicular accident. Not only because it is required by law but because it’s the right thing to do.

If he had stopped, he could have assisted the injured parties and could have avoided the death of Belton.

Instead, he left the scene and now he might be facing some serious jail time for his choices.

Fighting the Figures: LAPD’s Increased Motorcycle Safety Enforcement

In 2008, at least 5,091 people died in fatal motorcycle crashes – raising California’s motorcycle fatality statistics by as much as 91% from 2000 to 2008.

Los Angeles motorcycle accidents in particular, have also made a huge leap and there is as much as a 62% from 2004 to 2008 of motorcycle traffic collisions.

Following the loss of one of its own officers in a motorcycle accident, the Los Angeles Police Department has stepped up its motorcycle safety enforcement.

Additional officers will be dispatched two or three times a month in order to patrol areas which have a high rate of motorcycle accident. There will be increased patrols conducted by motorcycle officers in eight-hour stints.

Critical areas to be monitored include Topanga Canyon, Pacific Coast Highway, Crenshaw Boulevard and the San Fernando Valley.

However, officers will not just be citing motorcycle riders who commit traffic violations, other motorists will also be included in the patrol especially drivers who make unsafe lane changes and turns.

The motorcycle safety enforcement program will run until September 30, 2010 and is funded through a $100,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The proliferation of motorcycles on the roads these days is largely connected to the fact that they are more fuel-efficient and convenient than cars. But along with the upsurge of motorcycles running rampant are also the ballooning statistics of motorcycle accident injuries and deaths.

The majority of motorcycle accidents deaths involve a multiple vehicle collision. As many 2,767 people died in motorcycle traffic collisions and it makes up 54% of fatalities.

LAPD’s efforts to increase patrol will be a crucial element in helping to bring down the body count in motorcycle accidents.

Aside from unsafe lane changing, turning, reckless driving, speeding, and DUI, officers will also be able to implement California’s helmet laws more stringently which in turn would greatly reduce the number of motorcycle deaths by as much as 37 percent and brain injuries by as much as 67 percent.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pitbulls Attack 71-Year Old Man

In Encino, a 71-year old man was brutally attacked by two pit bulls while he was walking along Burbank Boulevard.

The old man got knocked by the pitbulls and tried to defend himself by raising his hands against the dogs but instead got multiple bite marks on his arms.

Nearby motorists came to the man’s aid and scared off the dogs. Some drivers used their car horns and one even nudged one of the dogs with his car bumper. The old man was rushed to the hospital and was reported to be in a stable condition.

According to the police, the dogs have escaped from the backyard of a nearby home being watched over by a house sitter while the owners were away.

Animal services are now investigating the attack and the owners may face criminal or civil action. The dogs may also either be impounded or quarantined.

Under the law in California, dog attacks fall under the strict liability doctrine – this means that the dog owner will be held liable for any damage inflicted by his dog even he wasn’t negligent or if his dog has no attack history.

But given the attack incident in Encino, the 71-year old man may file a claim for damages against the pet owner on the basis of the negligence.

Negligence can be proven on the part of the dog owner if he is:

• Mishandling a dog
• Ineffectively controlling or failing to control a dog
• Putting a dog in a situation that can possibly cause injuries
• Violating animal control laws (Leash Laws)

Under the law, the owner has the duty to exercise reasonable care and due diligence to prevent his pet from harming people or property (i.e. other pets).

If his dog has an aggressive nature (i.e. pitbulls), putting a leash on the pet as well as securing the dog in a backyard or having a fence will keep the dog from wrecking havoc in the community.

LAPD Officer in Fatal DUI Motorcycle Crash

After 19 years in the Los Angeles Police Department, Officer Kenneth Aragon lost his life in a single-vehicle crash while riding his motorcycle home last December 3, 2009. He was taken to Glendale Memorial Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, leaving behind five children.

An investigation on the cause of the crash however, revealed that the 47-year old police officer had drunk so much right before the accident that his blood-alcohol level was well over the legal limit of .08 percent.

According to the authorities, 90 minutes before the fatal motorcycle crash, Officer Aragon had been drinking at the bar on the department's training academy campus.

The academy bar is usually the go-to place for police officers to gather, drink and celebrate occasions such as “payday Wednesday.” Aragon allegedly spent several hours drinking and singing karaoke with other officers and guests at the bar.

Aside from the laws in California which prohibit operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, it is a misdemeanor in California to serve alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated.

Drunk motorcycle drivers also have the highest risk of fatality compared to other drivers.

In 2008 alone, 30 percent of all fatally injured motorcycle drivers had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent and single-vehicle crash fatalities who were DUI was at 43 percent.

Also, more than half of all motorcycle nighttime fatalities, as much as 58 percent had BACs at or above 0.08 percent.

While it is indeed a tragedy that Officer Aragon had to leave his family behind, his death could have easily been avoided had he simply followed the law he was sworn to protect and uphold.

Driving under the influence is already a risk, even if the driver is riding in a Hummer or a Benz. But DUI while riding a motorcycle, more often than not, is a fatal destination.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tila Tequila sued for Copyright Infringement

San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman sought the court’s intervention for a copyright infringement suit he filed against Yila Nguyen a.k.a Tila Tequila.

Merriman alleged that Tila used his pictures to drive traffic to her site. He claimed that his business dealing with Walmart for a t-shirt distribution was delayed due to Tila’s use of his “Lights Out” trademark. He added that with such use, consumers were led to believe that there was an affiliation, connection, sponsorship or other form of relationship between them.

A copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce or perform a copyrighted work. Any prohibited use by another will give rise to a case of copyright infringement.

In this case, if Tila is found to be violating the copyright law, she shall be made liable for it. It is advised that she consult with a copyright lawyer to defend herself in court.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Keeping Children Safe: Proper Use of Child Safety Restraints

The California Office of Traffic Safety has recently announced that it will endow a $207,000 state grant from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s funds for its “Keep ’Em Safe” program.

Under the program, parents will be taught how to safely transport children in vehicles and some 2,000 child-safety seats will be given for free to low-income families in San Diego County.

By far, car crashes are the leading cause of death for the age group 2 to 14 years old. The lack and misuse of child safety restraints is the primary cause of child passenger deaths and injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

The proper use of child safety seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by as much as 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars.

An 11-year old boy recently suffered serious head injuries because he was not properly restrained even by a seatbelt, in a rollover crash in Willits. A one-year old child also got hurt in the same accident because he also wasn’t secured in a child safety seat.

California imposes the following laws on proper child restraint:

• A child who is six years of age or older but less than 16 years of age, or who is less than six years of age and weighs 60 pounds or more, may not be transported in the motor vehicle without securing the child in an appropriate child passenger restraint system or safety belt.

• Any child under the age of six years old, weighing less than 60 pounds must be secured in a federally approved child passenger restraint system and ride in the back seat of a vehicle.

But even with a mandatory child restraint law, additional efforts should be made to address child passenger fatalities in California.

The “Keep ‘Em Safe” will not just provide families the equipment to keep their children safe but also the knowledge on how to actually and effectively use the child safety restraints in order to protect and save their children’s lives.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Damage suit filed against Facebook

Apart from finding long lost loved ones and friends, social networking sites also provides games and other applications appearing to be free of charge.

But a 41-year old dance instructor realized that its subscriptions to a social networking site entailed hidden charges.

In Santa Cruz, Rebecca Swift claimed that she lost $200 while playing games on Zynga. Swift added that Zynga should compensate users who had been scammed. Zynga is a site that allows Facebook users to play against each other using virtual coins.

In response, Facebook claimed that Swift’s case was baseless but promised to fight suspicious advertisers.

Most people resort to fraudulent acts to earn a living. False advertising is one of those acts hence, punishable by law. A damage suit may be filed against these scrupulous individuals for their tortuous conduct. In turn, victims should be compensated for the pain, suffering or sleepless nights caused by such false advertising.

This incident should also be a lesson to all social network users to never give any material information pertaining to their financial accounts.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Concord Police Department Involved in another Sexual Harassment Case

In its fourth sexual harassment case in two years, the Concord Police Department is now facing off against its highest-ranking female officer, Lt. Robin Heinemann.

In her complaint, Lt. Heinemann alleged that male officers were mostly given free rein while she was passed over for promotions and disciplined for minor infractions.

In one instance, she was passed over for the position of Investigations Manager which she should have gotten because she was the most experienced lieutenant.

She was previously part of a group of eight women who filed a case in the late 1990s for sexual harassment and won a settlement of $1.25 million settlement.

Her attorney said that Lt. Heinemann tried to work within the system and had to tolerate the department’s discriminatory practices and she had no other option but to file the sexual harassment lawsuit.

Sexual harassment and sexual discrimination are the two most common employment discrimination practices committed against female employees. A recent survey revealed that 35 percent of all female employees alleged that they have experienced harassment and discrimination because of their gender.

Gender bias and sexual harassment is often rooted in ignorance. Female employees, if they are victims of harassment or discrimination should not be afraid to speak out against it. The first step in any situation where there is discrimination is to tell the offender to stop.

Should the harassment or discrimination persist despite telling the offender to stop, the female employee should report it to the employer or use the grievance system within the company if there is anything available.

If the employer or the company doesn’t act on the complaint of harassment or discrimination, the female employee may file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or file a case directly in court.

Sexual harassment or gender discrimination should not be tolerated and at the same time, should be resolved promptly. A sexual harassment claim should be filed within 180 days although this may be extended depending on the employee’s state law.

Boy Bicyclist Struck and Killed by Pickup Truck

According to studies, bicycles are known to be involved in many childhood injuries compared to other consumer products, except automobiles. This may be true because bicycles provide little protection to a child’s fragile body during impact.

A 9-year-old boy bicyclist recently died after he was struck by a Ford F-250 pickup truck while on his way home from school.

According to authorities, both paramedics and police were called in after the boy was struck along Loara Street and Orangewood Avenue.

The unidentified bicyclist was brought to UCI Medical Center in Orange while he was still in a critical condition. He died after a short time.

Police said the pickup was moving westbound along Orangewood and then stopped at a stop sign. When they boy saw that the vehicle has stopped, it was apparent that he tried crossing the street in front of it when he was struck.

The incident may have been just a tragic accident, authorities said.

Parents should teach their children how to ride a bicycle properly and the ways on how to avoid being hit by passing vehicles. If they can, they should accompany their children to keep them safe from accidents.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wrongful Death Claim: Making the Best Out of a Tragedy

On July 26, 2006, 49-year old Michael Woods went to the emergency room at Kent Hospital in Warwick, Rhode Island because he had a sore throat and was vomiting.

Michael, who happened to be the younger brother of Oscar nominated actor, James Woods, died of a heart attack three hours later while he was left to wait for an available room on a gurney in a hallway outside of the nurses’ station.

The family, who felt bitter and angry over their perception that the hospital did not do enough to save Michael, filed a case for negligence and wrongful death against Kent Hospital.

The suit was instituted by James Woods and the son of his brother, Peyton Woods.

It was only this December that the wrongful death claim was settled with the Woods family. Sandra Coletta, the hospital’s Chief Executive apologized for Michael’s death because of medical mistakes made in Michael’s case and gave the family an undisclosed amount.

The settlement received by the Woods family which would allegedly help finance the education of the three children left behind by Michael. A “Michael J. Woods Institute” will also be set up at Kent Hospital in memory of Michael’s death.

$1.25 million will be invested by the hospital into the institute over the next five years on its research on human factors that will look into reducing the risk of errors based on human behavior and decision-making.

In a statement, the family said that the family is trying to make the best of a horrible tragedy.

Wrongful death claims are often the best way for the aggrieved family members to move on following the death of a loved one.

While it may not bring back the life of their mother, their father or their brother, for many families who have lost their breadwinner, the compensation received from a wrongful death claim will help fill the void left behind by the death of the person who supported their family.

Medical malpractice in particular, can be a valid ground for filing a wrongful death claim. While having a foundation or an institute established in the name of their deceased loved one is rare, the victim’s family may expect to receive wrongful death compensation such as:

• Medical and funeral expenses
• Loss of the deceased’s expected earnings between the time of the death and the expected retirement or death
• Loss of benefits like pension plans, medical coverage, and the like
• Loss of inheritance
• Damages for mental anguish or pain and suffering of the surviving family
• Loss of care, protection, nurturing, and companionship
• Punitive Damages

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Double Dangers of Drugged and Drunk Driving

It was revealed in a 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that there are around 10 million people who drive while under the influence of illicit drugs.

On Jan. 19, 2007, 28-year old Ryan Karr of Windsor was seen by witnesses driving at the speed of 70 mph during rush-hour traffic before he crashed his Mitsubishi Eclipse against a stopped Honda bearing 6 people.

Trapped inside the burning car, Maria Lopez Camacho, 54; Edith Carlos Medina, 23 and her son, Fernando Carlos, 7; Almadelia Mendera-Basurto, 16; and Carmina Solorio, 23, of Mexico were killed in the crash.

4-year-old Christian Flores Carlos survived the fiery crash but was badly burned and lost his arm and leg.

Karr allegedly worried more about the damage to his car than rescuing the victims.

According to the California Highway Patrol Officer Heather Bushey, he also did poorly on the field sobriety test where he was unable to keep his balance and failed to count correctly. Karr was also indicated to have glassy eyes.

The results from a blood sample which he gave revealed that he had consumed pot or coke within 4 to failed 8 hours of the crash. There was also a marijuana pipe found inside his car.

Karr is facing charges of five felony and five misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter and a count of driving under the influence of drugs and may face up to more than 6 years in state prison if convicted.

The Institute for Behavior and Health estimate that 20% of motor vehicle accidents were caused by drugged driving.

Drugged driving may in fact, soon become bigger than drunk driving as a recent survey showed that drugs were present 7 times more frequently than alcohol among weekend nighttime drivers in the U.S.

At least 16% were tested positive for drugs as compared to 2% of the drivers who tested at or above the legal limit for alcohol.

What’s worse about the rising incidence of drugged drivers is the fact that drugged drivers are also more likely to be drunk. In a research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, many drivers who tested positive for alcohol also tested positive for marijuana.

This makes drunk and drugged drivers, doubly dangerous.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Suspected DUI driver broke his Leg after Hitting a Tree

A suspected drunk driver broke his leg after losing control of his vehicle and crashing into a tree in the center divide of the road.
The alleged DUI car accident happened yesterday morning on Mira Mesa Boulevard near Scranton road in San Diego.

The force of the crash was so great, the engine popped out of the car and landed on the westbound lane of Mira Mesa where another vehicle struck it.

The driver and his passenger were brought to the hospital with the latter complaining about some pain.

After the driver recovers, he can be booked for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The owner of the first vehicle who got clipped and the car that struck the detached engine may also file a property damage claim against the driver for any repairs needed.

Lastly, if the passenger turns out to have sustained major harm in the accident, he or she can file a personal injury suit as well.

In California, a passenger is generally never held liable for a car accident.
The exception would be if he or she deliberately distracted the driver to cause an accident.

However, if the passenger is not wearing a seatbelt during the collision, it may prove some comparative negligence on his or her part.

If that is the case, the damages awarded will be reduced proportionate to the passenger’s level of liability.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Picking Safe Toys for the Holidays

For children, Christmas is not Christmas, if they don’t receive any toys.

But in its 24th annual Trouble in Toyland report, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has warned holiday shoppers to avoid dangerous toys, namely those with small parts, make loud sounds, made of soft plastics and have lead contamination.

Aside from toxic toys which contain excessive levels of lead, the PIRG is locking down on toys with small parts that can choke children younger than 3-years-old. According to the PIRG, choking is the number one cause of toy-related deaths and injuries and there are a lot of toys which just barely meet the federal standards on small parts.

A good indicator for potential small parts choking hazard is if a toy can fit into a toilet paper tube then it is too small for children under three.

Two toy hazards the group also focused on are toys which make loud sounds and soft plastic toys which may contain a chemical called phthalates.

The report found that 15 percent of children between 6 and 17 years old showed signs of hearing loss. Phthalates, which is widely used to make plastic products softer and can adversely affect children’s health, was recently found in a child’s lunch bag and a purse.

The Toy Industry Association in response to the report said that, "Consumers have every reason to trust the safety of the three billion toys sold in America each year."

In case you’re working on your Christmas list, the PIRG is advising to check for toy safety at http://toysafety.mobi through your mobile phones before buying gifts for kids.

Who knew that something as seemingly insignificant as a toy can be so dangerous to a child? But indeed, toys today have proven to be both fun and fatal, with most of their defects hidden and latent.

Under the product liability law, manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers may be held liable for manufacturing defects if consumers or children are hurt because of toy errors made in the manufacturing process and those with poor-quality materials or shoddy worksmanship.

While parents have a legal recourse should the toys hurt their kids, it’s always best to put safety first and choose your gifts wisely.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Firefighters Quick in Controlling La Habra Heights Brush Fire

Los Angeles firefighters were able to control a brush fire that had burned uphill in La Habra Heights yesterday evening.

The fire crawled through medium to heavy brush. It scorched about 2 to 3 acres.

Due to the swift actions of our firefighters, further damages have been averted.

Southern California is bracing for the effects of dry and warm conditions that is expected to last until after Thanksgiving.

Due to this dry weather, firefighters are alerted for fires that may start from dry bushes and grass.

Brush fires in California have proven to be a serious threat not only to the environment but the general population as well.

Past brush and forest fires have caused injuries, countless property damages and the displacement of animals and humans alike from their homes.

That is why homeowners who live near dry forests are advised to get comprehensive property and homeowners insurance so that in case of an emergency, all they have to worry about is your lives.

Properties can be replaced, and with your home insured, you do not have to worry about starting from scratch.

You should also consult a property damage lawyer to advise you about making claims so that you are sure that you are getting the right amount from the insurance company.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Less Is More: Female DUI Drivers

The ladies are certainly stealing the spotlight from the men, and this time, it’s not a good thing.

Lately, more and more women and even some notable female celebrities in particular have gotten arrested for driving under the influence.

The most recent female celebrity arrested is 36-year-old Alexandra Kerry, the daughter of a former presidential nominee and United States Senator John Kerry.

Alexandra Kerry, a graduate of the American Film Institute and an award-winning writer-director was pulled over in Los Angeles when she was driving erratically around 12:40 a.m. It was reported that she was placed under arrest after she failed a field sobriety test and was booked in the Hollywood Division station.

She later made bail of $5,000 around 5:30 a.m.

The police, who pulled Kerry over claimed to have detected signs and symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol. Although her blood alcohol level has not been confirmed, according to Richard French, a spokesman for the LAPD, there are people could be under the legal limit and still be impaired. The blood alcohol level is not as important as to how impaired her driving was.

Women have a greater tendency to be easily impaired by alcohol than men. The Hills’ starlet, Stephanie Pratt who was also recently arrested for DUI in Hollywood, is proof that even one drink of alcohol can result to a BAC of .08 and .09 percent.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the effects of alcoholic drinks vary greatly especially between men and women because the rate of absorption and other factors such as weight, amount of fat tissue, and stomach contents.

Thus, often even if they consume the same amount of alcohol, women can get impaired faster. Women, who are now as independent as men, are also catching up with the men in terms of the number of driving under the influence arrests.

For women who drink and drive, even two glasses of beer can mean more trouble. Even if they have less drinks than men, they are more get pulled over for impaired driving, much like Alexandra Kerry, the Senator’s daughter.

Under the law in California, the police can arrest a person on suspicion of drunken driving if officers believe the motorist is impaired.

Pregnant Driver Suspected of DUI Injured by Drunk Driver

This is pretty outrageous news.

In Montebello, a suspected drunk female driver who also happens to be pregnant was involved in a major car crash with another driver who also happens to be drunk.

According to the police, four people were injured in the vehicle collision which occurred at Whittier Boulevard and Concourse Avenue. One person was also reported to have been ejected from the vehicle because of the crash.

The drunk pregnant lady driver and the intoxicated male driver both incurred serious injuries. The man’s arms may be amputated because he suffered major trauma.

The police have said that the crash was triggered by the loss of control by one of the speeding vehicles. Lester Enrique Chupina of Whittier was booked for felony drunken driving and is being held at Montebello Jail for $100,000 bail.

The statistics of women driving under the influence are fast approaching the DUI figures which are usually dominated by men.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in its 2008 study revealed that 1,650 people died in the United States because of an alcohol-impaired female driver.

Further, the NHTSA reported that women arrested for DUI, 35 percent had one or more passengers in the vehicle at the time of the crash. While most of the passengers are male, a substantial percentage of them are child passengers.

The increasing trend of female drunk drivers is indeed a cause for concern. Kids in particular are vulnerable because mothers are often tasked to pick up their children from school and if she’s drunk, a tragic accident will almost surely happen.

Usually, law enforcement officers are more lenient towards female drivers, likewise, most DUI campaigns also target men.

Female drivers should fall under the same degree of scrutiny of male drivers. Drunk driving is a vast and encompassing social problem that affects everyone, whether they are man, woman or a teenager.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

House Destroyed by Fallen Crane

Not all injuries are limited to physical harm because property damage may also be involved in the issue. People can greatly suffer if their home or any kind of property is suddenly destroyed due to an outside force.

A home in Santa Rosa was recently destroyed after a large crane toppled backward and fell onto it.

According to authorities, the incident happened while the crane was removing an oak tree at Molly Court and Nightingale Drive. The impact caused the house to be divided in half.

The tree’s weight was more than the crane could carry so it toppled backward and smashed into the house. Its cab portion is still in the air.

The crane was about 90 feet tall and it also has a 25-foot-extension. Authorities are expecting that removing it will take one whole day.

No one was injured in the incident.

Projects like tree removals should be properly planned to avoid disastrous accidents. If the people involved in the project have only known that the tree’s weight is too much for the crane to carry, they may have done necessary actions to correct the situation.

Apple and AT&T Sued over MMS Services

A New York man is suing Cupertino IPhone, IPod, Apple and AT&T for allegedly misleading IPhone buyers.

According to the proposed class action business lawsuit that was filed in federal court in New York, the companies promised buyers multimedia messaging service, or MMS, functionality for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G S.

However, according to the complaint, it seems that the buyers will only get what they bargained for in terms of MMS once AT&T upgrades their network

Apple declined to comment while AT&T contends that the carrier actually does offer MMS on its network.

The class action lawsuit would try to gather other consumers that feel they have been misled by Apple and AT&T.

If proven, the members of the class action lawsuit will get a part of the settlement or damages that will be gained from the lawsuit.

Although it is quite a long shot, consumers who feel the same way could join the lawsuit even if they are not sure yet.

There is a statute of limitation that indicates up to when you can file a civil lawsuit against the manufacturers of the product. Once that time lapses, you would have lost a chance.

If you join the lawsuit against apple now and it turned out that the claim is true, then you will have a share of the damages that will be given by the courts.

If you don’t, you may end up outside looking in and wishing that you took the initiative to get the truth.

If the case lost, you would really have lost nothing as attorney fees for these kinds of cases are usually in a no win no fee basis.

Friday, November 13, 2009

SF Police Identifies Hit-And-Run Accident Victim

San Francisco Police has released the identity of the hit-and-run accident victim in the intersection of Alemany Boulevard and Congdon Street.

The victim was identified as Isaac Hudson, 84, of San Francisco.

The 2-car intersection collision occurred just after midnight and witnesses said that 3 men from the 2nd car ran away from the scene.

Hudson, on the other hand, died on his car.

All drivers are required to stop after being involved in an accident. Drivers are also required to provide reasonable assistance to people who are injured on the scene.

If the three people did not run, they could have helped Hudson and who knows, his death could have been averted.

Running away from the scene only aggravates their offense and they will be prosecuted for it.

For the family, if there is no way to identify the driver or owner of the car, they can make a claim under the uninsured motorist coverage of Hudson’s car accident insurance policy.

However, since the suspects may have left the scene by car, the police will have an easier way to identify the car’s owner, which makes the uninsured motorist coverage not applicable (unless the owner really does not have insurance).

Once the police identities the owner, the family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against him to recover damages they sustained for Hudson’s untimely demise.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Additional Complainants in Toyota Defects

Two people from Los Angeles now want to file a class-action suit against Toyota for the defects that prompted the 3.8-million-vehicle recall which is the largest recall of vehicles issued so far.

Seong Bae Choi owned a 2004 Camry while Chris Chan Park had a 2008 FJ Cruiser. Both of them claim that they have experience sudden acceleration which is common in latest models of Toyota vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initially found that the sudden acceleration is caused by the defective floor mats on the driver side as it can be stuck onto the acceleration pedal.

Furthermore, NHTSA also found that the vehicles are hard to put into neutral or turn off if ever the acceleration occurs.

Toyota will compensate for the losses of all victims as they have admitted the risky condition of the vehicles they have manufactured. They are likely to pay punitive damages if a class-action suit will ensue.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Million Strollers Recalled; Accidents Have Been Reported

Maclaren, one of the leading stroller manufacturers, has recently announced recalls of around a million strollers because of incident reports indicating that the stroller’s hinge has sliced off children’s fingertip.

The recent recall has been because of reports that twelve children had their fingertips cut off because of the hinge of their strollers.

The company apparently saw the potential danger to their customers and so they issued recalls on strollers that were made since 1999.

Other victims of this product liability must immediately seek the help of a personal injury lawyer who will see to it that the pain and suffering of the child, as well as the expenses paid by his parents, will be properly compensated.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Morning Sweeps Target Rail Crossing Violators

As part of the Annual Operation Lifesaver Program, authorities made a sweep throughout Orange County that targeted pedestrians and vehicles who are violating rail-crossing laws.

The sweep netted 233 citations and 6 arrests. Of the 233 citations, 205 were given to motorists while the other 28 went to pedestrians.

This is an annual activity organized by Metrolink in cooperation with various law enforcement agencies.

More than the enforcement of the law, the goal f the program is to educate people about how to legally and safely navigate railroad tracks.

People have been using train tracks as a shortcut to wherever they are going, ignoring the obvious dangers that comes with the action.

What most people do not know is that it is illegal.

In a train track, the right of way always belongs to the train as the tracks are private property.

In essence, people who use the tracks as shortcut are generally trespassing.

If arrested, the person could be charged with a misdemeanor, be fined and even get some jail time.

Coincidentally, while the sweep is ongoing a train non lethal accident occurred in Santa Fe Springs when a pickup stalled while crossing a railroad track.

No one was hurt as witnesses yelled at the driver to get out of the car.

Hopefully this would remind people of the dangers of passing though railroads.

Most often than not, a train will not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.

That is why it is up to motorists and pedestrians to make sure that they are careful enough when passing though a railroad crossing.

However, if does not remove the responsibility of railroad companies to keep the area safe not only for their trains, but also for motorists and pedestrians.

If the company or any of their employees have been negligent, they could be charged with both criminal and civil lawsuits if someone gets injured on their premises.

Morning Sweeps Target Rail Crossing Violators

As part of the Annual Operation Lifesaver Program, authorities made a sweep throughout Orange County that targeted pedestrians and vehicles who are violating rail-crossing laws.

The sweep netted 233 citations and 6 arrests. Of the 233 citations, 205 were given to motorists while the other 28 went to pedestrians.

This is an annual activity organized by Metrolink in cooperation with various law enforcement agencies.

More than the enforcement of the law, the goal f the program is to educate people about how to legally and safely navigate railroad tracks.

People have been using train tracks as a shortcut to wherever they are going, ignoring the obvious dangers that comes with the action.

What most people do not know is that it is illegal.

In a train track, the right of way always belongs to the train as the tracks are private property.

In essence, people who use the tracks as shortcut are generally trespassing.

If arrested, the person could be charged with a misdemeanor, be fined and even get some jail time.

Coincidentally, while the sweep is ongoing a train non lethal accident occurred in Santa Fe Springs when a pickup stalled while crossing a railroad track.

No one was hurt as witnesses yelled at the driver to get out of the car.

Hopefully this would remind people of the dangers of passing though railroads.

Most often than not, a train will not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.

That is why it is up to motorists and pedestrians to make sure that they are careful enough when passing though a railroad crossing.

However, if does not remove the responsibility of railroad companies to keep the area safe not only for their trains, but also for motorists and pedestrians.

If the company or any of their employees have been negligent, they could be charged with both criminal and civil lawsuits if someone gets injured on their premises.

Dangerous Intersection caused Deep Concern

Crossing the street is dangerous especially for children. But when a child accompanied by an adult cross at a designated crosswalk and still hit by a vehicle, then it becomes more alarming.

Concerned parents near the Campbell's Bucknall area showed their alarm when a young boy and his grandfather were hit by a Ford Explorer at an intersection.

The accident caused a signature campaign to be launched urging officials to do something about a very dangerous intersection near Harriet Avenue. Several residents and parents ignited grave concern not only for the victims but also for their children attending school situated few blocks from the intersection.

The authorities have been bombarded with complaints for years about the safety of the intersection. The residents asked for a crossing guard at the crosswalk. Forest Hill Principal Lani Potts showed support by working with the city and inviting city leaders to join community forum and meetings regarding the issue.

In response, the city officials were planning to make pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements at the intersection and install radar speed sign.

Accidents can happen anywhere at a time when you least expect it. When it does, the victim has cause of action against the party at fault. A personal injury lawyer can help him pursue a case for compensation claims.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Toyota Welcomes Federal Report That Floor Mats Are Sole Cause of Sudden Acceleration

Toyota and some safety experts are at odds in interpreting the new federal report that found that the sole cause of sudden acceleration incidents in their cars are the removable floor mats and that no other defects have been discovered.

Toyota welcomed the report which coincides with the floor mat recall letters that the car manufacturing giant had sent to owners of certain Toyota and Lexus models.

The company has been busy trying to do damage control especially after the Santee car accident that killed a CHP officer together with his family.

The company does not need any more investigations for other probable safety defect that could further damage their reputation.

They are happy that the NHTSA found no other defects and can now move on from the “floor mat” incidences.

However, safety experts disagree that the report gives Toyota a clean bill of health, when they claim that it is not the case.

They say that the investigation was focused on narrow issues and may have not discovered other possible safety defects.

The investigation, they said, did not explain sudden accelerations that were not caused by floor mats.

In any case, the floor mat issue is probably on its last legs and Toyota would probably settle with the victims that filed or plans to file for personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits under the product liability law.

Toyota did share some tips that we can use in case of sudden acceleration; so in case it happens to us, we can follow these guides:

  • Pull over and dislodge floor mat.
  • If not possible to pull over, step on brakes with both feet and do not pump the pedal.
  • Shift the gear to neutral.
  • If not possible, turn engine off or to the ACC.
  • Do not remove key as it may lock the steering wheel
If you are injured because of the sudden acceleration of your car, get yourself treated by a doctor and consult a car accident attorney as soon as possible.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jaguar Driver Charged with Vehicular Manslaugter after Causing Fatal Car Accident

Pamela Mckeirnan described in court yesterday how a speeding jaguar hit her car and then spun into the Volvo behind her that was carrying her daughter and grand daughter on State Route 67.

Her daughter Alexandria was killed but miraculously, her 4 month old grand daughter survived March 2009 crash.

The driver of the Jaguar, Melvin Leroy Pearles, 48, will be charged with vehicular manslaughter and is now in custody with bail set at $75,000.

If convicted, he may face up to 6 years in prison.

The judge said that Pearles showed extreme callousness and impatience on a very dangerous road and he is suspected to be involved in some form of speed contest.

According a testimony given to CHP by Pearles, he was speeding because he had to go to the bathroom and he feared being hit by a white BMW that eventually passed him.

However a witness said that he can’t believe how fast the Jaguar was going and he remembers it trying to pass a white car, which was later identified as a BMW.

The witness said his car was run off the road and the next he saw was the wreck of the Volvo.

Deputy Public Defender Dawn Beebee said the accident was tragic but it did not rise to the level of negligence.

Pearles’ answer to a police officer when asked if he knew he was driving at 80-100 mph did not help him as well. He told police that it was possible because he was driving a jaguar and “doesn’t drive 55.”

That would have come off not only as arrogant but also as admission that he was speeding.

The speed limit for Route 67 is 55 mph; he just admitted that he doesn’t drive 55.

His offense can automatically be raised from speeding to reckless driving if it is true that he is driving at least 80 mph and if he was involved in a speed contest.

Since his reckless driving resulted to death, the prosecutors have all the reasons to charge him with vehicle manslaughter.

Aside from that, the family can also file a wrongful death suit for his civil liability.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Student Receives $37,500 Settlement for Crushed Finger

A former Huntington Beach student received $37,500 in settlement after suing the school for a crushed finger.

According to the civil lawsuit, Alexina Karsh, 19, injured her finger when a campus door suddenly closed due to strong winds. The door, which was part of a campus remodeling, closed in her finger crushing it.

The finger was not broken but it bled profusely and required stitches.

The district official denied the allegations claiming that Karsh was negligent and failed to use the doors properly.

The two parties, though, agreed on a settlement that concluded this case.

However, a lot of people did raise their eyebrows at the amount of the settlement.

Under the premises liability law, the school does have a responsibility to keep the students free from obvious and hidden dangers.

However, the incident was an isolated case.

To prove a premises liability case, one of the elements needed is that the officials should have or could have known about the danger.

And since this is the first incident, they could have argued that there was no way they could have known about the school hazard.

Another point is that, although the finger bled profusely and needed stitches, it was in no way a serious injury.

The finger was not even broken so $37,500 seems to be a bit much.

In addition, they could have also argued some comparative negligence on the part of Karsh.

Anyway, the parties have agreed on the personal injury settlement, and we do not know all the details of the lawsuit.

The important thing is that both parties are now able to move on from the incident.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Driver Who Caused Multi Vehicle Collision Died at UCI Med

The man that caused a multi-vehicle collision the other day died after sustaining serious injuries in the accident.

According to reports, Martin Espinoza, 55, died at about 3:25 a.m. at UCI Medical Center in Orange.

The car accident started when the 1994 Dodge that Ezpinoza was driving failed to stop in time when he was approaching Adams Avenue from Brookhurst Avenue.

He eventually rear-ended a Dodge Caravan that triggered a chain reaction, which ended up damaging 6 vehicles.

The driver of the Dodge Caravan, Paige Beyer, 38, was treated for pain in the arms and legs

Nobody else was injured in the collision.

But what if there were people seriously hurt from the accident, now that the liable party died, can they still file for a personal injury case?

The answer is yes.

It does not matter, because you will actually end up not really going against the liable party but their insurance company.

The insurance company is who you should be worrying about because they are the ones who are actually going to make the payment so they will also be the one who will try to discredit your case.

So alive or dead, the personal injury claim can still continue.

You should consult a personal injury attorney though; insurance companies would have their own legal team to disprove your claim.

The help of an expert attorney should even the odds.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Famous R&B Singer Involved in Fatal Accident

When someone does a negligent act, he or she will be punished if proven guilty because the law applies to everyone. Today, a number of celebrities are constantly involved in different road accidents. They should remember that they can also be punished by law and their money will not save them from imprisonment if they are convicted.

Another celebrity is rumored to have been involved in a fatal crash. Brandy, a known R&B singer, was reportedly involved in an accident the previous month. Using the statements given by a witness, it appears like the incident happened due to her fault.

According to authorities, the accident occurred on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. The singer was driving her 2007 Land Rover at a speed of 65 mph and failed to see that vehicles in front had already reduced speed. Her vehicle reportedly hit a 2005 Toyota, causing the car to smash into a 1989 Toyota.

Then, the 2005 Toyota slid sideways and struck the center divider. A 1988 Acura then hit the 2005 Toyota as it came to a stop.

According to Brandy’s publicist, the singer has confirmed that she was indeed involved in the fatal accident.

The 2005 Toyota driver, Awatef Aboudihaj, 38, from Los Angeles, was in a critical condition when she was brought to Holy Cross Hospital. The woman reportedly died the following day.

Brandy was unharmed and the Acura driver sustained moderate injuries.
The singer was not detained and there is no proof that alcohol or drugs were involved.

Authorities are conducting a mechanical investigation of the vehicles involved to establish whether there was a malfunction.

Brandy will surely be punished if pieces of evidence establish her fault in the accident. She should have followed the traffic rules because a person’s life might be save by doing it.

Californians Suffer from Unemployment and Loss of Health Insurance

Health insurance is a benefit provided to employees. Through this insurance, financial help will be given to employees in the event that they acquired an illness. Due to the assistance it can give, many people rely on it to lessen their expenses.

However, a report released by Families USA showed that an estimated number of about 661,600 Californian’s who were laid off from their jobs also lost their health insurance.

The organization projected that four million additional Americans nationwide are going without such insurance this year compared to the previous one because they lost their jobs.

Although COBRA allows employees to continue their health insurance after the ties between them and their employer ends, it is often not an option for laid off employees because of its expensive price.

Families USA projects that the nationwide average monthly COBRA premium for individuals is $388 and for family is 1,069. Family premiums In 40 states and California, on the average, consume over three-fourths of regular unemployment insurance benefits.

Although the Congress approved a 65% COBRA subsidy as a part of the stimulus package, not more than four in every ten employees continued their coverage, the report stated.

It is clear that the government is trying to help laid off employees to overcome their financial problems. However, the extent of help provided is not enough to actually elevate the lives of these people.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stadium worker’s Slip and Fall Accident before Charger’s Game

A stadium worker identified as Walt Daniels fell 20-25 feet from the visiting coaches’ booth three hours before the game between the Chargers and the Broncos.

Daniels, who walks with a cane, was putting together program packages for dispersal to the media when he stumbled down the stairs and rolled out of Booth 35C at around 2:34 p.m.

He landed on the seats below where the Security team performed CPR on him.

Medics were able to revive him and he was brought to a hospital later.

I would recommend that he consult with a personal injury lawyer right away. If he has insurance, then he should notify them immediately as well.

Depending on the details of the cause of the accident, he may have some legal options available.

First, if the injury makes him unable to work, he could file for a worker’s compensation.

However, if the stadium owner is his boss, he will also be surrendering his right to sue them.

If he chooses to sue instead of availing worker’s compensation, he may have a cause for a premises liability case.

But again, it will depend on the details of the slip and fall accident.

The burden of proof will fall upon him to prove that the stadium owner’s negligence had caused the accident that resulted to his injuries.

That would be difficult as he would have to prove that there was a hazard in the stadium and that the owner failed to address the dangers that it poses.

To make sure that he is making the right move, he should consult with a personal injury lawyer to give him the pros and cons of his legal options.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Maria’s Mistake: Cell phone Use While Driving

According to the US Department of Transportation, nearly 6,000 people were killed and a half-million were injured in car crashes caused by distracted driving in 2008. They said that using a mobile phone while driving is almost as dangerous as driving drunk.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that in a nationwide survey last 2008, female drivers more frequently use hand-held cell phones than male drivers. Apparently, even the First Lady of California and Kennedy scion, Maria Shriver is not immune to the bad driver habit of using a cell phone while driving.

She recently got caught on video using her cell phone while driving in Brentwood. A rather ironic twist as it was her husband, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who made cell phone use illegal while driving.

In California, there is in fact a primary enforcement of a jurisdiction-wide ban on driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone.

All drivers are prohibited from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle although motorists 18 years old and over may use a “hands-free device.”

The first offense base fine for subsequent convictions is $20 and $50. But along with penalty assessments, the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount.

Governor Schwarzenegger said that there will be swift action regarding his wife’s cell phone law violation and recently, Maria Shriver has announced that she will donate her favorite old cell phone to a program that helps domestic violence shelters.

It just goes to show that distracted driving is an encompassing problem which affects even influential people,like celebrities and government officials whom the public often hold in high esteem. Picking up a call while driving may seem like a harmless thing but the bottomline is, it is still against the law. Maria Shriver’s well-publicized cell phone use infraction just shows that no one is above the law.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

[Blog Action Day] Speeding your way to climate change

The earth is like your body. It doesn’t revert back to its original state. Once you’ve abused it, there are serious effects afterwards—and it won’t be pretty. Putting anything that is not natural to it, the body will rebel and so will the earth.

These days, major problems of pollution, toxic waste materials and different diseases are signs of a different environment from circa 1980s. How can you exactly become more aware and actually help save our planet? It shouldn’t be just a trend to begin with. You have to make a real effort doing so.

One way to make a difference is through cars. Nope, I’m not talking about using green cars—although related. These days are a lot of people carrying car advertisements that speaks out loud climate change health warnings. The brighter and catchier the ads are, the better. These ads compete with the brand or the look of the car.

Ads may vary from the typical “Help Save the Planet” or “Go Green.” Why not wrap the entire car with a picture of the earth and its devastating effects? Maybe that will catch your attention.

But it shouldn’t be used as a business for the big guys to earn money. That’s when everything turns sour. Using global warming as a platform to gain big bucks is wrong. It’s taking advantage instead of doing something that will benefit everyone.

So the question is, is it even remotely effective? It does disseminate awareness since it passes through different people on the streets. Well with the advertisements on fuel efficiency, using green cars and saving on every single penny, perhaps it promotes awareness.

There were plans for cars to have color-coded emissions labels. Exactly like the ones stick on fridges and washing machines. And yes, colors it is—from dark green to red. There are bumper stickers on vehicles that tell us their rated emission.

In Europe, car ads have guidelines that cover issues on safety and environment, which are followed as basic principles by advertising agencies to promote cars.

Lately, there had been a lot of advertising done on vehicles which the going green bandwagon has joined the team.

No increase on MWD benefits

Apart from wages, many employees depend on their benefits to help them through hard times. Any increase either in salary or benefits is mostly welcome.

However, any hope of increase in benefits for employees of Metropolitan Water District (MWD) in Southern California had been cut off.

In a memo, General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said that the current financial condition does not allow any increase in benefits. Moreover, the employees’ concession in a five-year labor pact would be more than sufficient to pay for the increased pension benefit.

Critics noted, however, that the concessions were short-term while the pension benefits were long-term.

The decision not to grant the benefit increase affected about 2,000 employees. Consequently, protests erupted pushing for the increase. Protesters alleged that since MWD had raised water rates by double digits, the proposed increase could be sufficiently covered.

In a public debate, MWD board Chairman Timothy Brick claimed that the labor deal in its entirety would help reduce water bills.

Employee-employer relationship could be very complicated. Issues on salary or benefit increase can be a sensitive matter to deal with. As employer tries its best to save on costs, employees, on the other hand, push on increase to make ends meet t during the hard times.

If employees feel like they deserve an increase in salary or benefits, an employment attorney may be consulted to pursue their cause. Any employer’s unfair practice may be a subject of a labor case.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CA Passes 2 Laws on Ignition Interlock Device

Motor vehicle crashes involving drunk drivers had claimed a total of 11,773 lives last 2008. Many of these drunk drivers are repeat offenders or have been previously convicted of drunk driving.

Convicted drunken drivers, around 50 to 75 percent of them still continue to drink and drive despite having their licenses suspended. They make up for 1/3 of the drunk driving problem in the US.

Recently, the State of California, through Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has signed two new laws which strike directly at the issue of curbing drunk driving: ignition interlock device.

The first law, Assembly Bill 91, creates a pilot project where the installation of ignition interlock devices is required for individuals convicted of DUI in the counties of Alameda, Los Angeles, Tulare and Sacramento.

The second law, which was authored by Sen. Bob Huff, allows repeat DUI offenders to apply for restricted licenses if they install such devices.

Ignition interlock devices can prevent inebriated persons from driving their cars – the driver would have to driver would have to blow into it in order before the ignition starts. The car will not start if the driver has a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.

Studies have shown that ignition interlocks can decrease repeat offenses by 64%.
California is now one of the 12 states with ignition interlock programs such as Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Washington.

This is great news for a lot of Los Angeles residents, drunk drivers cannot be road hazards if they can’t get their cars to start in the first place.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Deputy not charge over Gibson’s arrest leak

Investigations regarding arrests of traffic violators must remain confidential. This is made to prevent any undue influence or comment that other people might have on the issue that could sensationalize the case. This is especially true if the case involved a celebrity like Mel Gibson.

When details about Mel Gibson’s arrest leaked, an investigation was made against Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy James Mee. The investigation was centered on how details about Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade leaked.

Harvey Levine, founder of a celebrity website TMZ.com, said that he did not pay anyone to get the details posted on the site. In 2006, the site posted Gibson’s rants following his drunken driving arrest.

Mee, on the other hand, denied leaking the details. Upon review, the prosecutors determined that aside from Mee, two other individuals had access to the information but no case was filed against them. Moreover, as to who made the call first between Levin and Mee was hard to trace.

After an investigation and in a nine page evaluation sheet, the prosecutors ruled on not pressing charges against Mee for lack of proof.

Drunk driving is not only penalized by law but also considered dangerous to other motorists. The investigation of a drunken charge must be of the same and equal standards whether the violator is a celebrity or not.

For victims of driving under the influence, personal injury attorneys may be consulted to file a compensation claims against the drunk driver.

Bus Driver Saves a Lost Child from Traffic

Although the law doesn’t require us to save anyone who is in danger, conscience dictates that we help people in need, especially if it is a small child who cannot protect himself or herself against any kind of danger.

This is exactly what a school bus driver did when she saved a four-year-old boy who was in the middle of traffic along Beach Boulevard in Westminster.

At least eight cars had avoided the child when he was spotted by Valerie Flanagan, a school bus driver working for Garden Grove Unified School District.

As it turned out, the child has been reported missing by his mother for almost ten minutes after the police was informed that the bus driver had the toddler, said Westminster police Sgt. Dan Schoonmaker.

It is good to know that people like Flanagan are still around who care about other people’s safety and welfare. However, the other drivers should not have ignored the child’s need of being rescued.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Putting Cameras to Metrolink Commuter Trains to Avoid Accidents

Monitoring the actions of workers may stimulate them to work hard. In addition, it may also be one way of preventing them from doing negligent acts.

Metrolink declared its plans of activating video cameras in all of its 52 passenger trains.

This plan is a response to an accident that happened last Sept. 12, 2008 wherein 25 people were killed when a Metrolink passenger train and a Union Pacific freight train collided head-on.

Robert Sanchez, the Metrolink engineer who also died due to the collision, was found to have been texting seconds prior to the accident.

The cameras will monitor each locomotive’s cab. Cameras will also be faced outward to record every activity that is a happening in front of the train.

Both visual and audio will be recorded.

However, this move is being opposed by the union which represents the nation’s train engineers. A number of safety experts also question its effectiveness.

Before opposing this plan, everyone should first give the rail transit system a chance to find out whether this strategy will bring in good results.

Those who are not in favor of it should state out their reasons why they feel that way. By doing this, adjustments may be made to further strengthen Metrolink’s course of action.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Missing Elderly Man found in Overturned Car

Today, the issue concerning elderly drivers is widely talked about. However, no stricter rule has been currently imposed that will prevent an elderly from operating a vehicle once they are impaired by their physical condition.

The capacity of the elderly to avoid an accident is significantly reduced because they now have poor eyesight and slower reflexes.

These may be the reasons why an 88-year-old driver was reported missing when his family failed to communicate with him as he was driving home.

According to California Highway Patrol (CHP), the man who was reported missing for several hours was later found in an overturned car near the San Pablo Reservoir in Orinda.

He was located after the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office tracked his GPS location through his mobile phone signal. The information was then given to a CHP helicopter crew.

The crew was conducting their second circling along the area when they saw an overturned car located 300 feet below a steep embankment and in thick trees and brush, out of view from the ground.

He suffered from cold exposure and minor bruises and scrapes.

Accidents involving the elderly may be avoided if they accept the fact that they are no longer fit to drive. If a stricter rule concerning their driving is actually implemented, they should follow it wholeheartedly.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Convicted for Fatal DUI

Roger Avary, a screen writer known for movies such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Beowulf” was sentenced to one year imprisonment and five years probation for the fatal accident he caused last year.

Avary earlier pled guilty to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and drinking under the influence of alcohol.

Reports indicate that the accident which happened in 2008 involved the death of Avery’s passenger and injuries of his wife after she was ejected from the vehicle when they hit a telephone pole.

Avary’s accident is among the estimated 34,000 fatal vehicular accidents which were reported in 2008.

These accidents can be prevented only if all motorists would be extra cautious while on the road and avoid driving while drunk.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mother Killed in a Fiery Crash Was Driving Drunk

The toxicology reports are out and the mother who died in a fiery crash on Highway 101 last September 3, 2009 was intoxicated. As in literally drop-dead drunk, her BAC results showed a 0.19 percent blood alcohol level, more than twice the legal limit of .08.

Authorities also speculated that Elucina Guevara Moyado, 39, who was still alive after the crash, was not able to get out of the van in time before it burst into flames because she was too drunk.

Her three children aged 5, 9 and 11 years old, who were with her in the van, survived the crash when they escaped through a broken backseat window. The children were hospitalized with various injuries.

Moyado, who was also driving with a level of methamphetamine of .03 milligrams per liter in her system, was on her way home when she veered left from the freeway fast lane and drove straight into the bridge construction zone where she struck a two-foot high bridgework.

The preliminary medical report shows that the drunken mother died because of the injuries related to the fire, not the crash.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is an increasing trend among women driving under the influence of alcohol based on 2007-2008 statistics. Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation further show that arrests for women driving under the influence increased by nearly 30 percent (28.8%) over the 10-year period from 1998 to 2007.

The NHTSA stated that about 2,000 fatalities a year involve an impaired female driver. The President of Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD), President Laura Dean-Moody said that women are unfortunately picking up some of the same terrible, reckless behaviors that men have exhibited.

Bad habits are hard to break and drinking and driving is a driver behavior that nobody should ever excuse or justify. What’s really bad these days is that even women, who are usually more disciplined or conscientious then men would think nothing of getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks. What’s worse too is the fact that some of these women who drink are mothers and they are often the designated drivers of the family when it comes to picking up their kids.

“A few drinks wouldn’t hurt anyone…” as some would say but in reality, a few drinks could really take the edge off a lot of driver’s skills, concentration and reflexes.

Some are just lucky they managed to get home in one piece but the rest, like Moyado, can only wish that they didn’t make the mistake of drinking and driving and paying for it with their lives or the lives of the other people they trample on because of their choice to drink and drive.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Failure to Wear a Seatbelt is An Act of Negligence

Seven teenagers aged 15 to 20 sustained minor to major injuries after the Honda car they were riding slammed into a parked big rig at an onramp to Highway 99 in Selma.

Apparently, the car was travelling south and exited Highway 99 at about 80 mph and failed to stop at the stop sign at Second Street.

They ended up in a rear-end collision with a big rig that was parked on the left shoulder.

According to reports, four of them were not wearing seatbelts during the collision.
The passengers could all file for personal injuries against either the parked truck driver if he committed any traffic infraction or against the driver of the car they were riding.

From the details of the report, the most liable party in the car accident though is the driver of the Honda car.

Running at 80 mph, which is beyond the speed limit and failing to stop at a stop sign can be considered by the courts as reckless driving, therefore a negligent act.

However, the conditions of the accident could affect the decision and the damages that will be given by the court.

Since four of the six passengers (excluding the driver) were not wearing a seatbelt during the car vehicle collision, the defendant could argue that those four had committed some comparative negligence.

Since the California seatbelt law requires that all vehicle riders wear a safety belt, the 6 passengers had a duty to wear their seatbelt while inside the car.

By not wearing a seatbelt, the four have breached or failed to fulfill that duty.

The defendant may also argue that the injuries may have been caused or has been aggravated by not wearing a seatbelt in the first place.

They could still win the case, but it would not be surprising if the amount of damages awarded would be significantly smaller compared to those who wore seatbelts.
We should all remember that the laws passed federally and by the state gives us a duty to follow it; failure to do so is an act of negligence.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Suspect in Parking Garage Fire still at Large

Fires usually break out due to accidents. However, in a fire incident that happened in a parking garage, two individuals deliberately set a vehicle on fire causing hundreds of dollars in damages.

In University City, Diana Dypvik, 21, and Derek Jones, 29 were the suspects in a $125,000 second-alarm fire that happened on June 10. Dyprik turned herself in while Jones remained at large.

Upon investigation, authorities learned that the couple drove to the parking structure, poured a flammable liquid in one of the vehicles then left. The flames spread to another car causing heavy smoke damage to the structure and melted overhanging utility lines and other fixtures. The possible motive of the fire was not disclosed.

If not due to the surveillance camera, authorities may have concluded that this was fruit of a negligent act. But the video clearly showed two individuals causing the fire.

Fire accidents happen due to negligence. While it entails penalty, a higher penalty awaits for culprits who deliberately set something on fire. The culprits will not only be criminally liable but also civilly liable for the costs of property damage caused by the fire. The employment of an experience lawyer is advised.

Teenage Drivers: Young Guns

Irresponsible drivers, if left unchecked, are a menace to the public.

A female teen driver is now in the hospital after two separate traffic accidents, the first being a hit and run which totaled another teenager’s car and the second, a fatal car crash which killed a 53-year old female driver.

The 17-year-old driver first crashed her black Ford pick-up truck against the Chevrolet Cavalier of University student Taya Chase who was then pulling out of her driveway. The impact of the crash caused Chase’s car to go off the road and onto the sidewalk, crashing into three utility boxes which caused a power outage in the neighborhood.

Chase, who was uninjured but complained of back and neck pain said that the teenager just drove away and was going at about 70 mph. The hit and run happened at 6:35 a.m. Chase, who tried to follow the driver memorized the license plate of the truck and described the female driver as looking pale with brown hair.

Shortly, right before 7:00 a.m., Pamela Sue Marabeas of Santee was killed when her Ford Explorer was broadsided by the same hit-and-run driver. The truck, which was going at a high rate of speed, pushed both vehicles across all westbound lanes of traffic and over the curb.

Authorities are still investigating the crash as there was also heavy fog in the area at the time of the collision. The female teenage driver, whose name was not released, is in critical condition.

At all ages, males had higher death rates in motor vehicle accidents than females but female drivers are quickly closing the gap. But all across the board, teenager drivers are still considered are major hazard as their numbers of crashes and crash deaths are disproportionately high.

One may consider their immaturity and relative experience as the cause behind such staggering statistics. After all, the mentality of being invincible as a young person may cause a lot of teenage drivers to engage in risky driving practices such as speeding and tailgating.

Teenagers too, may feel they can get away with a lot of things so they will most likely try to flee after an accident.

But youth doesn’t necessarily give teenagers the license to do as they please, without suffering the consequences of their actions. A lot of teenage drivers have been convicted and tried as an adult because of their gross negligence and the criminal repercussions of their acts.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Figures Continue to Rise for Motorcycle Deaths

In 2008, motorcycle accident deaths reached an all-time high since 1975 and doubled the 1997 figures. Motorcyclist deaths alone accounted for 14 percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities.

The news is splattered with motorcycle accident news – today alone, Marine Corps Officer Marleea A. Gerfen, 21 was identified to have been killed in a motorcycle crash in Descano. The awarded officer was killed when her motorcycle went down on a curve and struck a dirt berm.

Mark Taylor, 46, of Ramona was also killed today when he was struck by an unlicensed female driver who failed to see his motorcycle when she made a U-Turn. The woman, who was driving a rental car crossed in front of the motorcyclist's path and Taylor suffered major injuries when he struck the driver's side of the car.

The tragic deaths of Gerfen and Taylor are an example of most motorcycle accident deaths – in 2008, 46 percent of motorcyclist deaths occurred in single-vehicle crashes, and 54 percent occurred in multiple-vehicle crashes.

No matter how careful the motorcyclist, accidents can happen, on his own or because of the fault of another person. In fact, while multiple vehicle crashes are the majority, single vehicle motorcycle crashes are not that far behind.

A lot of people may opt to use motorcycles these days because it is cheap and fuel-efficient and the increased presence of more motorcycles on the road can create a huge traffic safety issue.

Reckless motorcycle driver’s habits such as lane splitting and speeding can also increase the potential for motorcycle accidents. And since motorcycles do not afford the same protection as other motor vehicles such as cars and SUVs could provide, the end can only be tragic.

Motorcycles can be dangerous and riders should be doubly careful because they can easily lose their lives on the road even if it is not their fault.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Car Crash Injuries still Mounting

According to the Department of Transportation Fatality Analysis Reporting System, although the number of injuries in car crash accidents has decreased in 2008, the numbers are still substantial.

In 2008, were a total of over 5.8 million car crashes, 1,630,000 which caused injury, 4,146,000 which resulted to property-damage, and 34,017 which ended in death. These staggering numbers from the year before have still failed to deter drivers from engaging in risky behavior.

A 38-year old female passenger has been recently left in critical condition in Laguna Beach when the silver BMW X3 she was riding in crashed into a barrier which separates the road from the sidewalk and flipped over.

The rollover caused the woman to get thrown out from the vehicle and she sustained serious head injuries when she was rushed to Mission Hospital. Authorities say that it is not sure whether the female passenger would survive.

The driver, 38-year old Matthew Craybas was under the influence at the time of the crash according to the police. Craybas was arrested and booked into Laguna Beach jail. Charges of a felony DUI may be filed against him.

Driving is a responsibility, not a privilege. Yet a lot of drivers continue wantonly disregard the laws such as driving under the influence and speeding, all to the detriment of their passengers or other people on the road who may just be unlucky enough to be at the right place at the wrong time.

For some people like Matthew Craybas, their refusal to act responsibly will now force them to face the consequences of their actions. Criminal charges may be filed against him as driving under the influence whether of drugs or alcohol is illegal in California.

Likewise, should the female passenger survive, she has a right to sue Craybas for the damages she suffered, actual, moral, physical even to the extent of the pain and suffering she will experience in the aftermath of a car accident.