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.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Most Child Deaths Caused by Accidents

Children, because of their minority are extremely vulnerable to getting injured or even killed without proper adult supervision. Their immaturity leads them to underestimate threats or often, they would just be too helpless to defend themselves against danger.

The San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency and Safe Kids San Diego recently released a report which emphasized most child fatalities are caused unintentionally. In San Diego alone, about 25 children under the age of 15 die each year because of motor vehicle accidents, falls and drowning.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children aged 5 to 14.

Drowning accident on the other hand, is the primary cause of death for children aged 1-4 years old. Also, for children in this age group, the top causes of hospitalization are falls, poisoning and burns and scalds.

Infants or children younger than 1 year old often die because of suffocation or choking.

While the child restraint laws have helped to decrease statistics, drowning is a major concern in San Diego. According to Mary Beth Moran, coordinator of Safe Kids San Diego, drowning reached its highest peak since 10 years last July with 30 nearly drowning.

Child deaths are tragic, not only because of the loss of life and great potential but also because most of these deaths could have been easily prevented.

Adult supervision is the single most protection against child deaths. Parents should be aware that children should be watched over at all times and that all safety measures that can be used to protect children should be used.

Young children should be supervised around bodies of water or taught how to swim. They should be taught road safety, such as when it is safe to cross the street and where. Parents should also follow child restraint laws, few are actually even are aware that children should stay in the back seat until they are 13.

The vigilance of parents as well as their adherence to laws with regard to child safety goes a long way in curbing the incidence of child deaths.

Floor Mat Eyed To Be the Cause of Tragic Accident

It was a tragic end for four people whose lives held so much promise.

California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor and his wife Cleofe, a molecular biologist and senior research associate, their 13-year-old daughter Mahala, and Chris Lastrella, a basketball coach and enrollment adviser never would have thought having their vehicle serviced and getting a loaner car would have caused them their lives – but it did.

The car, a 2009 Lexus ES 350, was a loaner from Bob Baker Lexus El Cajon. The dealer has not said a word regarding what they believe may have caused the accident and is waiting for the results of the investigation.

Minutes before the crash, Latrella managed to call 911 and report that they could not stop the vehicle, and worse, they were going at a deadly speed because the accelerator was stuck.

A rubber mat may have caused the accelerator to get stuck, according to the preliminary investigation. The loaner car was equipped with “all-weather” floor mats, the same mats which has been the subject of a 2007 product recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that the mats could slip if not properly installed and entrap the gas pedal, causing sudden acceleration. The all-weather mats installed in 2007 and 2008 models of the Lexus ES 350 were recalled by manufacturer Toyota.

Under the law, manufacturers, sellers and distributors may be responsible for products that pose a danger to users or consumers as a result of design and/or manufacturing defects or if the product liability is the cause of the accident.

Since the floor mat apparently caused the accident and now, the subject of a recall, its presence in the loaner car may pin the blame firmly on the dealer.

A potentially dangerous or defective product like the all weather mat should have been removed from the loaner vehicle. The negligence of the dealer to do so, will likely result in a civil suit for damages, most likely, for the wrongful death of the family from Chula Vista.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Major Holidays and Accident Magnets

While holidays are always a cause for fun and celebration, especially if it’s on a weekend—it doesn’t give people the license to do stupid things, like say, drinking and driving.

But given how history has always shown people to be more impulsive and less inhibited on holiday weekends, the California Highway Patrol has prepared for drunk drivers (and other reckless, driving violators) the past Labor Day weekend by holding various checkpoints and showing an increased presence.

The law enforcement efforts have certainly paid off. Statewide statistics show that 10 people were killed on highways between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday as compared to the 23 fatalities during the same period last year.

The CHP has reported that at least half of those killed were not wearing seatbelts. (Yet another frequently careless or impaired mistake)

In Orange County alone, the CHP has arrested 73 people on suspicion of drunk driving, an increase from 67 arrests made last year. There were 35 DUI suspects arrested in checkpoints in Dana Point and Mission Viejo and Newport Beach police arrested 10 people suspected of drunken driving.

Indeed, major holidays are one of those times where people can just relax and have a blast either with family or friends. But those who go out and drive, should bear in mind that drinking and driving is dangerous. A designated driver should at least be with a group out on a Labor Day weekend.

It would also help if people stay in one place and not go out and drive if alcohol is unavoidable. But if one needs to go out and drive to a destination, the driver should remain sober and maintain a clear head.

Drunk drivers are accident magnets – no matter how skilled they are, if they’re impaired by alcohol, fender-benders and metal crushes are just a couple of miles per hour away.

It is often too late to avoid an accident and with your reflexes impaired, attempts will be futile.

This is why authorities are mindful to keep a tight rein especially during holiday weekends because for some people who choose to drink and drive, can bring about the tragic end for several parties involved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ventura County Sued for Disability Discrimination by Justice Department

Government employees and offices are supposed to lead by example, after all, who can better set the bar for integrity and excellence than the government itself, which is sworn to uphold the laws of the land?

But the US Justice Department is now suing Ventura County for unlawful employment discrimination. The lawsuit filed was in behalf of a deaf woman whom the county failed to hire back in 2005.

The woman allegedly applied for the position of children's social service worker and despite the high ratings during her first interview, she was denied due to her disability.

According to the Justice Department, the woman was previously employed in the same position with Los Angeles County for 10 years and had excelled in her job.

Ventura county is being charged by the government with violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or the ADA is a civil-rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The federal government recognizes the fact that people with disabilities are often treated as lesser members of society and the law protects them from various forms of abuses and discrimination.

Title I of the ADA in particular, prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

The scope of the law expressly covers all employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. A qualified individual with disabilities is any employee or applicant who can perform the essential functions of the job in question.

Ventura county’s act of not hiring the woman merely because she was deaf defeats the whole purpose of ADA. The woman was clearly qualified, with 10 years of performing the same job under her belt and there is no other justifiable ground stated for which employment was denied her aside from her condition.

People with disabilities are just as able as normal employees and the failure of the county to hire her on the basis of her deafness is a clear violation of civil rights and the federal law.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cate’s Case and Worker’s Compensation

Workplace injuries are a common occurrence, so common that in fact, even Oscar-winners can be a victim of it.

Cate Blanchett, a highly respected actress in tinsel town was reportedly injured while performing in a stage play, A Streetcar Named Desire when she got hit by a prop.

40-year old Blanchett suffered a head injury. During the play, one of the actors lifted a radio and she somehow got injured by it. The theater’s spokesman denies that it was intentionally thrown at the actress.

The audience even saw the blood which streamed down the fair actress’ head and neck.
While Blanchett has the money to see to her own treatment, other workers aren’t as lucky. Workplace injuries can be catastrophic not just to one’s health but also to a person’s livelihood.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every day U.S. workers suffer injury, disability, and on average, 15 workers die each day from traumatic injuries. In 2007, more than 4 million workers had a nonfatal injury or illness.

Generally in the US, workers who are injured in the course of employment are provided compensation for medical care in case of workplace injuries. This type of insurance is called Worker’s Compensation.

In California in particular, workers are further protected as the state imposes the duty that every employer has a legal obligation to provide and maintain a safe and healthful workplace for employees.

Also in California, if employees get hurt while on the job, regardless of whose fault it is, they will be provided six basic benefits such as medical care, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits or vocational rehabilitation and death benefits.

Workplace injuries can be devastating to any employee, especially those whose family depends on his income to make ends meet. But fortunately, with a worker’s compensation in place for employee’s, they can focus on getting better instead of worrying how to make ends meet when they get hurt on the job.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

CHP Officer in Fatal and Fiery Crash

Minutes before a fatal and fiery crash, one of the passengers of the ill-fated Lexus made a 911 call saying that the accelerator was stuck and the car could not be stopped. The Lexus, after crashing against a Ford Explorer, rolled over several times before bursting into flames.

The occupants of the vehicle, who were burned beyond recognition, are believed to be CHP Officer Mark Saylor and his family, wife Cleofe, daughter Mahala and brother-in-law Chris Lastrella. Their car was a 2009 ES 350 Lexus loaned from a dealership while Saylor’s car was in service.

The sales manager of the dealership, Blair Carter expressed disbelief and sadness at the tragic accident. It said that all its cars have no problems as it been inspected and had run through diagnostic tests and that it has a double redundant fail-safe system that would shut the car off if there were a major malfunction.

Further, the dealership said that there was never a situation where the accelerator was stuck and the car could not be stopped. But just the same, the driver could have just put the car into neutral.

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that there were 7 crashes, 12 injuries and 40 complaints in 2007 when Toyota Motor Corp. recalled more than 30,000 “all weather” floor mats used in the 2008 Lexus ES 350 and some 24,000 Camry vehicles because mats would allegedly slip forward and jam the accelerator.

The unintended accelerations could reach speeds of more than 90 mph before the cars were stopped, and some drivers reacted by hitting the brakes multiple times which depleted the vehicle's vacuum based power assist.

The NHTSA further alleged that some drivers tried to turn the car off with the engine control button but were unaware that the button must be held for three seconds to stop the engine but that it was not explained adequately in the owner's manual.

The NHTSA said that there is no recall order for the 2009 ES 350 yet.

When a dangerous or defective motor vehicle, or when there is a failure to warn consumers which causes death or serious injury, the vehicle manufacturer, component part manufacturers and dealers may be held liable under the Product Liability Law.

It is the duty of manufacturers and dealers to ensure that the products are safe for their consumers and the failure of these parties to observe their duty constitutes a breach of duty and warranty. Victims of defective products such as cars may then be indemnified for injuries or damages suffered.

While technology and the advent of smart cars like Lexus with engine button controls may seem like a breakthrough for transportation, not all of its users can sufficiently adapt or learn its mechanism. The lack of understanding and knowledge of operating vehicles such as these can be deadly.