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.