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San Jose car accident lawyer, school bus safetyNear the end of last year, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Mark Rosekind met with the National Association for Pupil Transportation in order to discuss the use of seat belts on school buses. While the NHTSA’s position on this issue has been unclear in the past, the regulatory agency has now affirmatively stated that all school buses should be equipped with three-point seat belts. The NHTSA also requested that school districts, state and local governments, and school bus manufacturers all aid in implementing this new policy, with the goal of preventing serious injury to children in the event of an accident.

Three-Step Approach

The NHTSA reported that it will take a three-step approach to achieving its goal of making seat belts on school buses available to children. First, the agency announced a commitment to conduct additional research not only on school bus seat belts but on school bus safety in general. Second, the NHTSA has agreed to work with safety groups in order to address any financial barriers to installing seat belts on all school buses. Finally, Rosekind stated that the NHTSA plans to work closely with the six states that currently require seat belts on school buses so that regulators can learn from their experiences, insight, and recommendations concerning a potential national mandate.

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driverless car, San Jose peronsal injury attorneyFor the first time, according to reports, one of Google’s driverless cars was at fault for causing an accident in California. While there were no reported injuries in the crash, which occurred at very low speed while the car was attempting to merge back into traffic, the incident has raised some serious concerns about the ability of driverless technology to keep passengers and other drivers safe.  

Low-Speed Fender Bender

Last month, as part of the ongoing testing of the technology, a Google-owned Lexus with driverless capabilities was cruising the streets of Mountain View in Santa Clara County. Compliant with Google’s normal testing protocol, there was also a driver in the vehicle to supervise the process and to take over control in the event of a problem. As the vehicle approached an intersection to make a right turn, its sensors determined that the turn was blocked, so it began to merge back into the flow of traffic proceeding through the intersection. In the process of merging—reports indicate the Google car was travelling at about 2 miles per hour—the car brushed the side of a bus passing at about 15 miles per hour.

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San Jose personal injury attorneySeaWorld, once a beloved entertainment company with venues across America, has received major criticism from consumers and animal rights activists over the past few years. From trainer’s deaths, to claims of animal mistreatment, the Florida-based amusement park has faced many recent problems. Fortunately for the company, which has also experienced a recent decline in ticket sales, four safety and health citations issued against SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Inc. by the state of California have been dropped, and a settlement was recently reached. Issued last April, the citations given by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health alleged that proper safety protocol was not put in place to ensure employee safety.

Claims of Employee’s Safety at Risk

Along with possible fines of up to $25,770, California regulators issued the San Diego amusement park four safety citations after a review of the park in April 2015. Trainers have not been allowed in the water during performances with orcas, the park’s iconic marine mammals, since 2010, but state regulators remained concerned with employee safety. In 2010, an employee of SeaWorld’s Orlando park was killed during a performance involving an orca whale, an incident that led SeaWorld to keeping all trainers out of the water during performances. While current trainers are not in danger during public performances, state regulators found other safety concerns. One of the state’s citations involved medical treatment and training of the animals. Regulators said that while the trainers do stay out of the water during performances, they frequently share pools with the animals during training and when they need medical attention. The state’s citation claimed that the park had not done enough to ensure its employee’s safety when they are required to enter the water with the animals, and that employees were not trained properly to ensure their safety. Additionally, another citation claims that SeaWorld had asked its employees to sign a confidentiality agreement that would force them not to report any safety concerns and hazards.

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forceps, birth injury, San Jose personal injury attorneyThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more commonly known as the CDC, reports the latest data on annual births across the United States is at nearly 4 million, with an average birth rate of 12.4 percent per 1,000 population. The number of infant deaths is reported at 4,758.

Although the birth of a child is most often a joyous event, no child or family is immune from possible complications from biological or medical errors marring the expectations and hopes for the future. According to the Mayo Clinic, births involving the use of forceps heightens the risk of injury both to the mother and the baby. Forceps, resembling a pair of salad tongs, are used to facilitate and assist the newborn through the birth canal. Successful use of this medical device requires the physician to gently guide the baby’s head during each contraction but, when used improperly, the damage to the child can be both extensive and permanent.  

If too much force is applied or if the forceps are improperly placed, the strain on the child’s head can result in skull fractures, tearing of the vessels in the brain, swelling of the brain and intracranial trauma or brain bleed. There is also further risk of debilitating episodes of seizures, stroke, cerebral palsy as well as intellectual or developmental delays.

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dog bites, insurance coverage, San Jose personal injury attorneyEvery five years, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) releases the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook ranking the top/lowest ten states sharing a home with a pet, most often domesticated canines. As per the 2013 AVMA report, California ranked among the lowest ten states proclaiming pet ownership. It was reported that 52.9 percent of the California population shared their home with a domesticated pet but no matter where state rankings stand, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 4.5 million dog bites still occur every year across the United States.

Statistically, the complexities of pet ownership run even deeper than just welcoming your four-legged friend into the family fold. The Insurance Information Institute reported that in 2014, California residents reported 1,867 dog-related injury claims with an average cost of $33,649 per claim. It is understandable that dog-bite injuries can become a household’s largest liability and often leading to intricate legalities and lawsuits. It is often riskier for those who rent in comparison to homeowners who are minimally covered under their homeowner’s insurance policy. 

The costs associated with a dog bite claim have skyrocketed, so much so that in 2013, Farmers Insurance of California placed breed restrictions within their coverage often turning away business or denying a claim if a homeowner owned one of the following breeds: 

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appellate court, gas leak, San Jose personal injury lawyerWhen you have been hurt in any type of incident caused by the actions or negligence of another party, you deserve to collect compensation for your injuries. Your road to recovery may be made even easier when the responsible party admits their liability relatively early in the process. Admission of liability does not necessarily mean that everything is completely resolved, as a San Gabriel man recently learned. His compensation may finally be on its way, though, as a California appellate court last week upheld a $20 million verdict against a local utility provider.

Lighting a Cigarette

In 2011, the claimant was living in a remodeled garage in San Gabriel. According to court records, an employee of the Southern California Gas Company, opened a valve which allowed the man’s residence to fill with natural gas. When the resident went to light a cigarette, the gas-filled garage exploded, causing him severe burns and a traumatic brain injury, which experts believe will lead to dementia by about age 50. For a man who was only 23 at the time of the explosion, the impact is expected to be life-changing.

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train safety, jurisdiction, San Jose personal injury attorneyThe U.S. civil court system is an institution that has been established to protect the rights of those who have been wronged or injured in some way. When a party has suffered losses due to the actions or negligence of another, the damaged party may be forced to rely on the courts to provide the compensation and justice he or she needs and deserves. There are limits, however, to what the American justice system can do, especially when the case involves injuries that occurred in another country.

Continuing Trend

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its first ruling of the new term, reversing a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed a suit to continue in American court over an injury occurring in Innsbruck, Austria. The High Court unanimously rejected the lower court’s ruling on the grounds that the focal point of the case centered around events that took place outside of the United States, and that the American courts do not have sufficient jurisdiction to make a binding ruling. This marks the third time in less than four years that the Supreme Court has limited the reach of the U.S. court system.

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auto insurance, car accidents, San Jose personal injury attorneyAfter you purchase your auto insurance, you rarely give it a second thought, other than to pay the bill. But, after you have been in a car accident, you will need to know how your insurance works and what it covers.

The Basics

California is a “fault” state. This means that unless you have a special type of coverage, your insurance will not pay for your injuries or property damage. You will need to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.

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blackout wednesday, drunk driving accident, San Jose Car Accident AttorneyAs you and your loved ones get together this week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, there is likely to be a vibrant discussion of plans to take advantage well-publicized sales the next day. For some, the shopping may even begin Thanksgiving night. The retail event known as Black Friday has been a part of American culture for many years now, however its bookend counterpart on the opposite side of Thanksgiving is quickly developing a reputation of its own, but for vastly different reasons. The day once innocently called Thanksgiving Eve by those anticipating the next day’s celebration, has become known as Blackout Wednesday to bartenders and law enforcement, and hospitals around the country are preparing for a marked increase in drunk-driving injuries and deaths. If Black Friday represents consumer indulgence, Blackout Wednesday is synonymous with overindulgence, but with much higher stakes.

Contributing Factors

There are number of reasons that the day before Thanksgiving has become one of the year’s busiest nights for bars and clubs. Among college students and recent graduates, many are able to make it home for the long weekend, taking at least one night to meet up with classmates and friends who have all gone their separate ways. Established professionals, likewise, are often off work early on that day and do not have to work Thanksgiving, so a happy hour beer can quickly turn into a full night out. Many also look forward to a big meal the next day, hopefully one that will provide relief from the inevitable hangover.

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truck accident, event data recorder, San Jose personal injury attorneyUncertainty surrounding a fatal tractor-trailer accident from last year has demonstrated to regulators the need for so-called black boxes on commercial vehicles. Event data recorders, or black boxes, have been in use in the aviation industry for more than half a century, and their installation on trucks, buses, and other vehicles could provide investigators with additional resources in determining what factors may have contributed to accidents and roadway incidents. 

Charter Bus Tragedy

In April of 2014, a FedEx truck pulling two 28-foot trailers and headed southbound on Interstate 5 in Northern California crossed the median into northbound traffic. The truck collided head-on with a charter bus carrying Los Angeles-area high school students on their way to a college orientation program, killing ten, including the drivers of both the truck and the bus. Investigation into the cause of the accident began immediately, with many suspecting that a mechanical failure or a medical episode on the part of the truck driver may have led to tragic accident.

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sports, youth, assumption of risk, San Jose personal injury attorneyIn many towns throughout California and across the country, Friday nights during the fall mean just one thing: high school football. The sport, for a large number of communities, has grown to become more than just recreation or competition; it has become a cultural institution with roots that are several generations deep. Youth sports, of course, begin well before high school, with kids as young as four or five years old starting to play T-ball or soccer. During a practice or contest, young athletes often get hurt, and, as most coaches would say, injuries are part of the game. It is important, though, for parents to understand what constitutes “part of the game” and what is meant by the assumption of risk.

Risks Inherent to the Activity

Every sport or physical activity presents the possibility of certain types of injuries. Some, of course, may be more severe than others, but are still within the accepted parameters of the sport. For example, a baseball or softball player is susceptible to being hit by a thrown or batted ball. Similarly, a young athlete playing football is subject to violent physical contact, which can lead to broken bones and head injuries, all well within the rules of the game.

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cell phone notification, distracted driving, San Jose Personal Injury LawyerFor years now, public awareness campaigns have been reinforcing the inherent danger of cell phone use while driving. In fact, one could argue that the war against texting and driving is nearly equivalent to the anti-drunk driving efforts of the 1980’s. Today, 46 states and the District of Columbia have instituted complete bans on texting while driving, while Texas and Missouri maintain bans for younger drivers. Only Montana and Arizona have no laws prohibiting such mobile device use. However, a new study suggests that simply hearing a cell phone notification may be just as distracting as actually using the device.

Interesting Research

Conducted by researchers at Florida State University, the study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Lead author Cary Stothart and his team examined the impact to an individual’s attention caused by a cell phone notification—either an audible tone or vibration—while performing a task that demanded concentration. Using a non-driving computer project, test subjects were asked to perform an attention-intensive task twice. During the second round, participants received either a call, a text, or no notification, but were not permitted answer the call or read the message. The subjects were not aware that the texts and calls were part of the study.

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passenger injury claims, California personal injury lawyerMany people travel to and throughout California every year. The state is a popular vacation destination and is also the most populous state. Many people pay for transportation in the California, whether they fly in for a vacation, take a commuter train to work, or take a cab on a business trip. Unfortunately, travelers are often injured while using these types of transportation. If an injury was caused by the carelessness of the driver of the vehicle, the passenger might be able to recover compensation for his or her injuries.

Common Carriers

A common carrier is one who accepts a fee to transport a passenger from one place to another. To qualify as a common carrier in California, a person or company must:

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comparative negligence in California, San Jose injury lawyerDetermining liability in some personal injury cases is fairly straightforward. For example, you are sitting at a red light and your car is rear-ended by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol and speeding. That driver is likely to be held fully liable for any injuries you may have sustained. What if, however, your own actions played a role in causing your injuries? For example, you are driving along a city street, over the posted the speed limit while texting on your cell phone. Another driver blatantly runs a red light and crashes into your car. Could you still collect compensation for your injuries?

All or Nothing

Prior to 1975, the answer to that question would have been a flat no. Under the law in place at the time, if your own actions or negligence were found in any way to have contributed to your injuries, recovery would be completely barred. In 1975, the California Supreme Court’s ruling on Li v. Yellow Cab, set a new standard for the state, one that was determined to be more equitable albeit more complex. In its the ruling, the state’s High Court recognized that an “all-or-nothing” approach to recovery was outdated and that each contributor to an injury case should be held justly liable.

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1570 The Alameda, Suite 221, San Jose, CA 95126 408-286-2300
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