Pedestrian Injured In Riverside County Hit-And-Run Car Accident

A pedestrian in his 50s suffered serious injuries when he was struck by an unidentified SUV on May 18, 2011, around 12:35 a.m. in the Homeland area of Hemet. According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the pedestrian was walking across Highway 74 when an SUV struck him. The SUV was described as a dark-colored Ford Expedition or Lincoln Navigator with chrome rims, estimated to be a 2002 to 2006 model. Riverside police are searching for the driver.

The pedestrian suffered major injuries and was immediately transported to Riverside County Regional Medical Center for medical treatment. It is absolutely inhuman that the SUV driver did not stop and fled from the accident scene, leaving the elderly pedestrian unattended.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious violation under California law. California Vehicle Code 20001 (a) states:

“The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident.”

Morally, the SUV driver should have remained at the accident scene and waited until authorities got there.

The pedestrian’s family members should immediately seek counsel from an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer serving Riverside County to learn about their legal rights and obtain fair compensation to cover treatment, medical and hospitalization costs, and other accident-related damages. A Riverside County pedestrian lawyer would assure that the at-fault SUV driver is apprehended and brought to justice.

Our sincere prayers go out to the injured pedestrian and we hope that he recovers quickly.

Women Injured In San Clemente Hit & Run Accident

A woman was injured in a tragic Orange County pedestrian accident on May 14, 2010, at El Camino Real and Avenida Pico at San Clemente, when she was struck by a car while she crossing the street. Officials reported that the car driver, who was believed to be under the influence of alcohol, hit her and fled from the scene.

The victim was immediately taken to a local hospital where she received medical treatment for her injuries. Police have described the hit and run vehicle as a Saab, but no one has been taken into custody as yet.

We hope that the driver is caught and brought to justice. There are few things worse than a person who causes a serious injury and flees the scene of the accident without helping the person they injured. Before the accident, the driver was facing a driving under the influence criminal charge. Now, after leaving the scene, the driver is now about to be charged with felony drunk driving and hit-and-run with injury. California Vehicle Code 20001(a) requires those responsible for causing an accident to remain at the scene until authorities arrive, to exchange insurance and contact information, and to assist the injury victim.

Explosion Rattles San Diego Construction Site; Injures 14

On Tuesday, the windows of our office rattled. It wasn’t an earthquake, but it seemed like it was from an explosion. Only later on that afternoon did we discover that an explosion had occurred at the nearby Downtown San Diego Hilton, injuring 14.

Original thoughts turned to whether the incident was a terrorist attack. Then to whether a boiler in the hotel had exploded. Now it appears that the accident was caused by a natural gas leak inside the hotel.

Of the 14 injured, three were critically injured and were placed into medically induced comas. These workers sustained burns from 20-35 percent of their bodies, including some areas of third-degree burns. They were taken to the UCSD Medical Center burn unit for treatment.

Construction accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries, leading either to permanent injuries or death. In those cases, an injured worker or his family needs an experienced group of lawyers to navigate through the Workers’ Compensation and Civil systems in order to maximize the recovery that will provide for that worker and his family for the remainder of his life.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a construction accident, please contact us for a free consultation.

Boy Hit in Encinitas Bicycle Accident Dies from Injuries

An Encinitas boy who was struck by a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle more than two weeks ago is now dead, as reported by the Medical Examiner’s Office. The 11-year-old boy, Robert Franklin Thompson, had been on life support since his May 6 accident at Rady’s Children’s Hospital, and passed away Friday at 3:30 p.m.

The boy had been on a motorized “pocket bike”, which resembles a small scooter but can go up to 15 mph. He had been crossing the 1000 block of Double LL Ranch Road, a private, gated road in Olivenhain, when this fatal San Diego area accident took place. Witnesses reported to San Diego police that the boy was coming out of a driveway and went directly into the path on the oncoming car. The sheriff’s report had no indication of excessive speed or alcohol being involved with the accident.

Injured San Diego Workers May Receive Greater Disability Payments

In 2004, in the face of ever increasing insurance premiums, the California passed extensive Workers’ Compensation reform. One of the targets of the reforms was to reduce permanent disability payments to workers who had been permanently injured at work.

The result of the reforms was that disability payments to injured workers were slashed by at least 50%, insurance premiums for employers dropped dramatically, and the insurance carriers reported their highest profits in 30 years. The losers were clearly injured employees.

Now, after vetoing proposed permanent disability payment increases the last 2 years, Governor Schwarzenegger now appears willing to increase benefits to injured workers by at least 16%.

Increased benefits are definitely needed. According to the political action group, Voters Injured at Work, Californians are being shortchanged:

According to one group, Voters Injured at Work, people who lose a foot get $28,820, compared with the national average of $80,976. A lost eye fetches $17,714 versus $74,558. And deafness in one ear is worth $5,280, 83% below the national average.

Honestly, an increase of 16% is a good start, but it is not enough. The 2004 Reforms–and some reform was needed to reign in premium costs–went too far and left injured workers without a way to be compensated for life-changing injuries. Remember, the Workers’ Compensation system exists because more than a century ago, the states took away the right of injured workers to sue their employers and coworkers in civil court for workplace injuries.

If the Workers’ Compensation system doesn’t provide adequate compensation, injured workers are left without any recourse and assistance.

Orange County Girl Injured In Vicious Dog Bite Incident

A dog bite attack in Lake Forest on May 19, 2010, left a six-year-old girl seriously injured. The dog, which was described as a pit bull mix or a boxer, attacked the girl when she was playing in the driveway of her home. According to police, the dog pushed the child to the ground and began biting her fiercely.

The mother of the girl was coming out of her house with her infant child and her 14-year old son at the time of the attack. Despite her efforts and the help of a neighbor, the dog would not let go until her older brother jumped on the dog and punched it until it let go. The mother took all her children inside only to emerge with a handgun and began chasing the attacking animal. She chased the dog and shot it while it was on the porch. The dog survived the gunshot, but the girl sustained serious personal injuries including several bites on her leg, body, and face. The Police are currently looking for the dog owner to investigate why the dog was acting violently and why he was off leash and unsupervised at the time of the accident.

We hope that the young girl comes out of the shock and pain that this vicious attack and is not left with severe physical and emotional scars. Dog bite attacks can be extremely traumatic to anyone—people are hardwired to generally like dogs and it is scary when they turn and injure a person. However, as traumatic as it is for an adult, it is infinitely more traumatic for a child. Dog owners need to know that under California’s Dog Bite Statute, they are strictly liable for any damage or injuries that their dog causes to another person provided that the injury victim is lawfully on the property at the time of the attack.

San Diego Man Awarded $5.7 Million for Undiagnosed Skin Cancer

It’s always nice to trumpet the accomplishments of friends and their deserving clients.

Last Friday, a San Diego Superior Court jury awarded $5.7 million verdict to a bedridden San Diego man who claimed a doctor failed to diagnose his skin cancer. Under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, the award will be reduced to $1.9 million. The 1975 state act requires the court to cut general damages to $250,000 in medical-malpractice cases. It is the largest medical malpractice award in the state this year. The verdict came after a four week trial.

The jury agreed that the plaintiff, Regis M. Reilly, 53, suffered from life-threatening skin cancer after dermatologist James C. Powers failed to remove cysts on the right shoulder that eventually metastasized into cancer.

Reilly’s attorney, Denise Asher, said she was pleased by the size of the award because it represented a sum large enough to offset the trauma caused by the misdiagnosis.

“When you see pictures of the cysts, they are football-sized and deep in the tissue,” Asher said. Reilly went through a series of surgeries to remove the cancerous tissue. His wife, Karen Reilly, served as his nurse during the multiple surgeries and radiation treatments.

Reilly is confined to his home under around-the-clock medical care and had to be hospitalized during trial.

Good job, Denise.

Study Suggests Trauma Center Care May Reduce Long-Term Disability

Care at a specialized trauma center immediately after a serious accident may reduce the number or severity of permanent disabilities, according to a recent article in The Chicago Tribune.

The article examined studies performed in Australia and other countries on the death and disability rates of patients treated in various kinds of trauma center or emergency settings. The studies showed that patients treated at Level I trauma centers were 25 percent less likely to die after a serious accident than patients treated at other types of emergency or urgent care centers. Level I trauma centers are required to have a certain number of physicians on call at all times, specializing in various types of medical care often needed in the case of serious injury.

Another study examined the long-term disability outcomes of patients who were treated in systems that coordinated emergency care, long-term care, and government services. The study found that when services worked together, patients were better able to get the care they needed when they needed it – whether that was emergency care or rehabilitation and therapy during the healing process. Patients who had better access to needed care were able to make more complete recoveries from their injuries, and some even suffered no long-term disabilities.

Accidents of all kinds can cause serious injuries, with many often resulting in permanent disabilities or even death. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car crash, on-the-job incident, or similar accident, the knowledgeable disability attorneys at Disability Help Group in Arizona can help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

Record San Diego Roll-Over Verdict To Be Reviewed….Again (x3)

Know all those HUGE, “outrageous” verdicts that tort reformers cite as proof that juries are out of their minds and are too plaintiff-friendly? This is the story of one such verdict and, unfortunately, it is not unusual.

In 2004, a San Diego jury awarded Benetta Buell-Wilson and her family nearly $370 Million dollars in a Ford Explorer roll-over auto accident case. Now, the Supreme Court will review the verdict and possibly reduce it. The Supreme Court will be the third court to do so after the trial court and the Fourth District Court of Appeals both reduced the verdict from $122 Million in compensatory damages and $246 Million in punitive damages to $27.6 Million (compensatory) and $55 Million (punitive).

What happened to Benetta?:

On a January afternoon in 2002, Buell-Wilson was driving at a normal speed on Interstate 8 east of San Diego when she swerved to avoid a metal object that had fallen off a motor home. Her 1997 Explorer fishtailed and rolled over four times. Part of its roof was crushed, and Buell-Wilson suffered a severe spinal injury.

As a result of the accident, Benetta is now paralyzed and confined to a wheel-chair.

Now, Ford had previously won 13 trials without a loss. And they weren’t shy about sharing that fact during litigation in the hopes of forcing Benetta and her husband to settle.

Plaintiffs were 0-13 and Benetta and her attorneys were risking a huge disappointment. These cases are not cheap to try. I’ve heard some estimates that Benetta’s attorneys paid upwards of $750,000 to experts to prepare and try the case. And if they lost, the lawyers would lose that investment, Benetta would be forced to pay for all future care by herself out of her own pocket, and, worse still, Benetta would be forced to pay Ford’s litigation costs.

Given all this risk, and the evidence that Ford knew of problems with its’ vehicles for roof crush and roll over propensity, is $370 Million dollars outrageous to pay for a permanent injury and to punish Ford for its’ callousness?

In fact, the problem had been well-documented for years:

No recall has ever been ordered for these vehicles. How many are still out on the road? How many more roof crush injuries or deaths will still occur? Will Ford EVER be forced to pay enough that they will consider the safety of their customers?

The Supreme Court should uphold the reduced verdict. Ford is already emboldened by the two prior reductions. No need to make it worse for consumer safety.

Buena Park Pedestrian Accident Injures Orange County Teen

A teenager was injured on Tuesday in Buena Park when he was stuck by a 1996 Ford Ranger. The injuries are believed to be minor to moderate. The teenager sustained some cuts and abrasions and was treated at a local emergency and discharged.

The accident happened at Knott Avenue south of the 91 Freeway around at 9:12 p.m. Buena Park Sgt. Bill Kohanek stated that the 17-year old teenager was running towards a van parked on Knott Avenue that was about to pick him up. He was accompanied by another teen and both boys were returning to the van after doing door-to-door sales. The other teen made it to the van but the second boy was struck by the truck. The van was scheduled to take them home somewhere in the Los Angeles area.

Police are still investigating the pedestrian accident.

Our office wishes the teen boy a speedy recovery and a healthy life ahead. We should all be more careful and aware of our surroundings while walking on the road as we are more vulnerable to injuries from drivers who may not be looking out for pedestrians or bicyclists. Drivers should also drive slow and carefully in residential and highly populated areas.

San Diego Consumers Ripped Off by Baskin Robbins; $491K in Fines Paid

Last week, the San Diego District Attorney and California Attorney General settled a consumer protection lawsuit against Baskin Robbins from the company’s selling of hand-packed, pint sized containers of ice cream.

Baskin Robbins agreed to pay over $491,000 in fines and costs.

Inspections of 188 locations in 29 different counties found that 83% of all hand packed pint sized ice cream packages were underweight by approximately 4 ounces, or 25%.
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I’m not sure what Baskin Robbins pint sized sales are in California, but the company was definitely reaping a significant profit by underselling ice cream to its customers. If a pint of ice cream sells for $3 per pint, Baskin Robbins was collecting $3 for a “pint” that was only worth $2.25.

If you assume that Baskin Robbins sells 10,000 pints per week in California (I don’t know whether this is accurate, but sounds reasonable for a state of 38 million people and a market leading company with approximately 200 locations statewide), Baskin Robbins was reaping an undue profit of $7,500 per week or $30,000 a month. That’s a huge effect from a missing 4 ounces.

Escondido Pedestrian Bridge Opened in North San Diego County

North San Diego County recently saw the unveiling of a pedestrian bridge, to help walkers and bikers traverse Lake Hodges, usually traveled by those going between destinations in Escondido and San Diego.

Many who took this route have long been waiting for an alternate to having to take the busy Interstate 15, which has experienced many accidents and deaths in San Diego. Frank Lary, a cyclist who frequently was forced to take this highway over the lake noted that it was “very uncomfortable. I was always looking back at the cars, seeing people on their cell phones and not paying attention.”

The San Dieguito River Park officially opened the highly anticipated pedestrian path on May 15, 2009, just in time for San Diego’s Bike to Work Day. Having been in the works for about a decade, the 990-foot-long span is not only a slim stress-ribbon bridge, but it is the longest stress-ribbon bridge in the world. The $10.5 million bridge is designed to safely guide cyclists and pedestrians over Lake Hodges and out of the way of automobiles. It is constructed of steel, tensioned steel cable, concrete, and precast concrete panels.

The David Kreitzer Lake Hodges BBicyclePedestrian Bridge, as it has been named, will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. It has benches on two points of its’ long span. Horses and fishing are both banned along the bridge.

Most Likely Areas For Dog Bites in San Diego; Bites by Breed

A recent news story by NBC 7/39 highlights the areas in San Diego where victims are most likely to be bitten, the breeds most likely to bite, the months in which dog bites are most likely to occur, and the typical age of victims.

Not surprisingly, the months when dog bites are most likely to occur are warm-weather months, the most prevalent being July, when people are outside with their dogs enjoying the weather.

Also, not surprisingly, the highest number of reported dog bites come from pit bulls. Not surprisingly because the breed is very popular amongst owners who are either irresponsible or do not have the experience to control a very physical breed like a pit bull. However, the #2 breed–Labrador Retrievers–is a surprise. This breed is particularly popular amongst owners with young children and is known for its’ great temperament. We suspect the placing is due to the sheer number of the breed in San Diego County. As the news story states, any dog can bite at any time depending on the circumstances.

Our office actually gets more calls for the #4 breed, the chihuahua, than any other breed other than the pit bull. In our experience, the chihuahua is a particularly aggressive breed and will lash out at its’ owners and others. There are probably more bites by chihuahuas than the number reported. The saving grace is that, due to the animal’s size, the damage does not tend to be as serious or life-threatening as when a larger breed bites.

Last, the areas where most dog bites occur and the age of the victims raises a great deal of concern. Most dog bites occur in areas where pit bulls and more menacing dogs are popular. Coupled with the fact that most victims are under 10 years old, and this is a recipe for disaster.

Dog owners must take all steps to protect other members of the public from their animals’ aggressive actions. If you or a loved one has been bitten, knocked down, or otherwise injured by a dog, please contact us for an immediate consultation.

San Diego Bike Riders Experience Increase in Theft

A recent rash of bicycle thefts has made the San Diego City Courthouse begin to rethink the way it treats bicycles, including where to lock them. As a high-profile cycling city, San Diego bike riders have ample opportunity and plenty of good weather to commute via bicycle rather than a car. However, due to the volume of, and demand for, bicycles, it is no surprise that thieves target them.

Brienne Thompson was one such victim when she locked up her $1,000 Fuji Roubaix in front of the Hall of Justice while serving jury duty. She even locked her bike with two very secure U-Lock locks, only to emerge from the courthouse to find that both had been cut off. San Diego Sheriff’s Department notes that the problem has “become an epidemic” and are even considering moving those specific bike racks to an area more clearly visible to law enforcement from the Hall of Justice.

The owner of the San Diego Bike shop in Downtown San Diego, Mohammad Karimi, was quoted “Bike theft is very bad in San Diego… with the situation with the economy, it’s more organize — seems to be more happening.” Karimi recommends Kryptonite locks which are great deterrents, and the company also now ensures bikes that use the locks up to $4,500.

San Diego County Bus Crash Injures 11 Children

A school bus accident on the Campo Indian reservation has left eleven children hurt, according to San Diego County’s authorities. State Fire Department spokesperson Mike Mohler said that the bus struck a light pole at approximately 8 a.m. causing the bus to crash. Mohler said that all the eleven children were immediately taken to a local hospital and ten out of them have been released after treating their moderate injuries.

According to the California Highway Patrol, this bus accident occurred in the parking lot of the reservation’s Golden Acorn casino. The reservation is located about forty miles south-east of Downtown San Diego.

Our office wishes for all the injured children to reach a full recovery. It is hard to imagine that the bus driver failed to pay such attention to his job that the bus struck a light pole. One would think that a driver charged with the safety of kids would be more careful while operating a vehicle.

We sincerely hope and pray that none of the injured victims sustain any life-threatening injuries.

Encinitas Man Loses Life in Pedestrian Accident While Trying to Cross El Camino Real

A man from Encinitas lost his life recently when he was hit by a car while attempting to cross El Camino Real. The 46-year-old tried to cross the busy road on a recent evening when he was hit by a Toyota Camry traveling north in the 100 block of El Camino Real, according to witnesses. Investigators are still looking into the case and planning to speak to the driver and examine the vehicle involved in the crash.

The 46-year-old man, who suffered severe injuries in the crash, was rushed by rescue workers to a nearby hospital for treatment. He did not have any identification on him at the time. Unfortunately, hospital staff were unable to save his life; his injuries proved fatal approximately one day after the accident.

Approximately 60 San Diego County residents lose their lives in pedestrian accidents each year, according to the California Department of Public Health. Anywhere from 350 to 500 people are injured in San Diego County pedestrian accidents each year. In recent years, men have been slightly more likely than women to be hit in pedestrian accidents, but women have been slightly more likely to die as a result of their injuries.

The number of pedestrian accidents has decreased slightly in recent years, but motorists should still take care to watch for pedestrians in order to help avoid accidents.

Car accidents can cause serious harm, especially when an unprotected pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist is involved. If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident, a skilled San Diego fatal car accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you need. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

Wheelchair Bound Woman Killed in San Diego Hit-and-Run Car Crash

50-year-old Laurie Susan Whitlow was struck and killed in a severe car accident that took place on May 11, 2012, around 9:05 p.m. at 15000 block of Olde Highway 80, near Flinn Springs Road. According to San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, Whitlow was struck by a dark colored SUV-type vehicle driven by Anthony Wayne Olsen that was headed east as she tried to cross the road. The driver then fled the scene.

Whitlow was thrown from her wheelchair and into lanes of traffic. Whitlow suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the accident scene. Olsen was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious violation under California law. California Vehicle Code 20001 (a) states: “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident.”

The family of a victim killed in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing would be well advised to seek the guidance of an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer, who will stay on top of the official investigation and make sure that the family’s legal rights and best interests are protected.

The family could also file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver seeking compensation for medical and funeral expenses, lost future income, loss of love and companionship, and other related damages.

Our law office sends sincere condolences to the victim’s family and friends.

San Diego Injury Victims: How Not to Perform at a Deposition

Every person I know gets nervous when it is time to sit for a deposition. They worry that they’ll have to deal with the worst imaginable movie deposition with opposing counsel yelling at them, wagging their finger, and calling them a liar.

Very rarely does that ever happen. Most of the time, it is a very simple question and answers session.

Our office instructs clients that there are two simple rules for performing at deposition:
1. Listen carefully and answer directly.
2. Be truthful.

If you follow those rules, you’ll be fine. But here are a few examples of what not to do at a deposition.

First, don’t lose your temper. Don’t rise to the bait.

Second, speak clearly and act……well, sane.

Third, don’t get in a fight with the attorney.

Fourth, don’t act superior…or a jerk

It’s enough to drive court reporters and videographers nuts….or just lame.

Two Injured in Redlands Single-Vehicle Rollover Collision

Two people, both in their mid-40s, suffered serious injuries in a solo-vehicle rollover crash that took place on May 9, 2012, around 3:30 p.m. eastbound Interstate 10(I-10). According to California Highway Patrol Officer Mario Lopez, a green Ford Bronco went out of control and landed north of the 500 block of 11th Street, trapping a woman passenger.

Both the injured victims were immediately transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center for treatment. From the present facts, it is unclear as to how this traffic collision occurred. However, the driver reported a problem with a tire, suggesting that a blowout might be the cause. It seems that a vehicular malfunction may have contributed to this serious crash.

The injured victim in such cases could seek compensation to cover medical expenses, loss of earnings, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and other related damages.

Our personal injury law office hopes that the injuries suffered by both the victims heal soon and do not prove fatal.

Recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury in San Diego

About 1.7 million U.S. residents suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 75% of these injuries are mild, offering a chance of complete or near-complete recovery. The more serious a TBI is, or the more TBIs suffered over time, the more likely it is that permanent disabilities will result.

To help maximize the chances of recovery, the CDC recommends the following care tips:

  • Avoid suffering another blow to the head, which could cause another TBI. Stay out of sports, workplaces, and other situations where head trauma is likely. Get someone to “spot” you if you have trouble walking after an injury, as a fall could also cause re-injury.
  • Rest. Plenty of rest is necessary for the brain to heal itself. Take time off work or school if needed to give your TBI a chance to heal.
  • Your ability to react to dangers is often decreased after a TBI. Ask your doctor when it’s safe for you to return to driving, work, or other activities that require you to be alert.
  • Avoid alcohol and any drugs other than those your doctor has prescribed.
  • See your doctor immediately if you begin vomiting, losing consciousness, suffer severe headaches, or cannot stay awake.

Even mild traumatic brain injuries can leave lingering disabilities, and moderate or serious ones can cause permanent injury or death. Our knowledgeable San Diego traumatic brain injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you need after an accident. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation.

Bicyclist Killed in Ventura County Hit and Run Accident

An unidentified bicyclist was killed and three others suffered serious injuries in a fatal hit-and-run bicycle crash that occurred on May 11, 2011 in Ventura County. According to the responding California Highway Patrol Officers, the driver of the Hummer struck four bicyclists in two separate locations around 6:51 p.m. Wednesday.

One bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. The other three were immediately transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The investigating officers are trying to determine whether the Hummer driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, distracted by cell phone or had any medical issue.

If found guilty of driving under these circumstances, then he may be held liable for the victim’s wrongful death and the injuries suffered by the other bicyclists.

Regardless of the reason, the victims’ family members should immediately seek counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney in Ventura County to obtain compensation to cover medical bills, loss of future income, loss of love and companionship and other accident-related expenses. A personal injury attorney can help get the justice they deserve and would ensure that the driver of the Hummer is held responsible.

Our law office offers sincere condolences to all those injured in this tragedy.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed to Protect San Diegans

Earlier today, a class action lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles, alleging that State Farm Insurance had unjustly enriched itself by receiving and retaining payments that belonged to its’ insureds. According to the complaint, State Farm obtained these payments by violating California law by the “Make Whole Doctrine.”

Typically, insurance policies contain provisions which require an insured to reimburse their insurance company for benefits paid by the insurance company if the insured receives money from another source, such as when the insured receives money from a wrongdoer after an accident.

However, the “Make Whole Doctrine” prevents the insurance company from receiving reimbursement from its’ insured unless the insured has already been made whole by the other source. In other words, if the other source fails to pay 100% of the insured’s damages, the insurance company cannot claim a right to reimbursement.

The claims for reimbursement are very common. The named class representative in this lawsuit had $63.49 wrongfully withheld by State Farm. State Farm processes more than 12 million claims per year. Even if State Farm wrongfully exercised a right of reimbursement in 10% of those case, that would be 1.2 million cases. Multiply that by $63.49 per case and the unjust enrichment obtained by State Farm would be close to $75 million.

And that’s the amount that State Farm would have wrongfully profited by in one year alone.

Riverside Rollover Crash Results in Injuries

One person was severely injured in a rollover auto accident that took place on May 9, 2012, around 8:30 p.m. near Bradley Street and Harbart Drive in Riverside. According to Riverside fire Battalion Chief Scott Blair, one person sustained serious injuries in a possible off-road vehicle crash.

The injured victim was immediately transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The investigating officers need to determine whether the loss of control was due to negligence or any vehicular malfunction.

The victim’s family members may file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer to obtain compensation to cover treatment, hospital, loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, and other related damages.

Our personal injury law office sincerely hopes that the injuries suffered by the victim heal soon and do not prove fatal.

House Investigates Defective Medical Device Protections

Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court held in Riegel v. Medtronic that lawsuits based upon state tort law were preempted (barred) by federal law IF the FDA had granted the alleged defective product “pre-market approval” as a medical device.

The protections given to medical device manufacturers in Riegel may be extended to pharmaceutical drug manufacturers when the Supreme Court hears Wyeth v. Levine later this year.

However, Congress is looking at legislatively reversing the Supreme Court’s ruling. Beginning tomorrow, hearings will be held in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to discuss the effect of the Riegel decision and the effect an extension in Wyeth may have.

Write your Congressman and Senators and tell them that legislative reform is needed to provide protections to victims of defectively designed medical devices. If a medical product is defective, a manufacturer should not escape liability simply because the FDA signed off on it–perhaps before the actual defect is discovered after long-term human use.

Britney Spears Involved in Third Notable Car Accident

Earlier today, Britney Spears crashed the front of her Mercedes SL into the rear of a red Ford Explorer while driving on the Strip in Los Angeles. Luckily there were no significant injuries.

This is the third notable accident Britney has been involved in. On April 14, it was reported that Ms. Spears rear-ended another vehicle when she failed to realize that the vehicle in front of her came to a stop.

She was also involved in a hit and run accident when she struck a parked car while trying to park her vehicle:

We say this (slightly) jokingly: “Will she spend the money to hire a driver before she kills someone?”

It is very clear that Ms. Spears is an extremely poor driver and is a danger to herself and others. Her license should be revoked. If Ms. Spears was not a celebrity and just a regular driver, she would have already lost her license after being involved in multiple accidents, including a hit and run accident.

We can only hope she stops driving before she does kill someone.

Boy Killed in Encinitas Bicycle Accident

An 11 year-old boy in Encinitas was hospitilized with serious injuries after being hit by a car while riding an electric pocket bike, according to authorities.

According to witnesses, the child rode into the path of a car from a driveway, onto the 1000 block of Double LL Ranch Road on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after 4:30 p.m., as informed by Sgt. Randy Webb of San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. While the child’s name and medical condition have not been released, it is known that he was flown to Rady’s Children’s Hospital. There is no evidence supporting the idea that drugs or alcohol played a role in the San Diego bicycle accident.

CPSC Warns of Dangers Associated with Water-Walking Balls

“Water walking” is a new summer activity that is becoming popular at beaches, amusement parks, and other summer fun spots all over the U.S. During water walking, a person climbs inside a large flexible plastic ball, which is floating on a pool or other body of water, and can walk or ride on the water’s surface without getting wet.

While water walking looks like fun, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that it can also cause serious injuries. The CPSC has received several reports of injuries from water walking-related hazards.

First, the large plastic balls used in water walking are airtight. If a person is inside a ball too long, he or she may use up the oxygen inside it while breathing, creating an increased risk for suffocation.

Next, most balls used in water walking cannot be opened by the person inside the ball if there is an emergency and can only be opened from the outside. Constant close supervision is necessary in order to prevent an accident.

Finally, water walking balls are not padded. If the person inside the ball collides with another person, a pier, a boat, or another obstacle, he or she could be seriously injured in a San Diego watercraft accident. Since the balls are not easy to control, the risk of a collision is high.

Nobody wants a child they care about to be injured during summer fun. When a defective product causes injury, however, an experienced defective product injury lawyer in San Diego can help. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation.

San Diego Lawsuit Brings Attention to Food Contamination

Last week, a man diagnosed with hepatitis A filed a lawsuit against a La Mesa Chipotle restaurant.

The man, Terry Wesley, claims that he became sick on April 24 after eating at the Chipotle restaurant and remains sick to this day.

The lawsuit was filed just as San Diego County health officials reported another hepatitis A case that officials believe may also be linked to the La Mesa restaurant. If that is the case, officials have documented 21 people sickened by food contamination at the restaurant between March 1 and April 22.

Food contamination is a serious problem, particularly common among fast food restaurants and any other restaurant where health preparations are sacrificed in the name of speed and profit. Hepatitis A is a particularly serious disease that attacks the liver and is spread by contamination of food or water through fecal matter.

If you have suffered from food poisoning and incurred a serious infection, such as hepatitis A, please contact us for a free initial consultation. Not only are you entitled to compensation, but your claim draws attention to the poor sanitary conditions at the violating restaurant.

Tort Reform Hypocrite Settles Slip and Fall Lawsuit

As reported by the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog, former Supreme Court nominee, strict constructionist judge, and tort-reform advocate Robert Bork settled his lawsuit against the Yale Club after he fell while attempting to step onto the dais to speak.

The settlement terms were undisclosed, so little is known about the lawsuit other than those pleadings filed with the Court. However, a review of the complaint filed by Judge Bork’s attorneys at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher–who are typically defense counsel and presumably represented Bork because of his high profile–reveals two absolute truths about the case: (1) Regardless of whether the Yale Club was liable for Judge Bork’s injuries, Judge Bork was seriously injured and required significant medical care to address his injuries; and (2) Judge Bork’s lawsuit embodies many of the tactics and strategies that Judge Bork decried in his tort reform efforts.

San Diego Consumers Protected By Defeat of Tort Reform Class Action Legislation

Earlier today, the California Assembly rejected AB 1505 by failing to pass it out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The bill received so little support that when Van Tran (R-Costa Mesa) moved the bill, it did not receive a second and therefore failed without a vote.

The Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) continues to press the meat of AB 1505 through a costly initiative process.

Assemblymember Nicole Parra (D-Hanford) stated, in bringing the bill, that it would do nothing to prevent legitimate class actions from being brought. However, she hoped that it would prevent lawyers from gaining large verdicts and plaintiff class membes seeing little compensation as a result. She further stated that AB 1505 attempted to align state with federal law.

However, according to the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), AB 1505 would undermine the civil justice system by preventing an ordinary citizens’ right to bring a class action lawsuit in California. Among the provisions of AB 1505 that CAOC objected to:

1. The bill would have required each individual class member to prove their individual claim and extent of damages. Most importantly, it would have required trial evidence on both the plaintiff and defense side to be “substantially the same”.
2. The bill would have given the defendant the right to bypass class counsel to communicate directly with class members to make a settlement offer directly to the defense. This would have bypassed and destroyed the attorney-client relationship. It would have also allowed the defendant to make low ball offers and use threats to force class members to disregard their counsel’s advice.
3. The bill would also have stayed discovery of the merits of the case until the class was certified. This provision ignores the fact that the discovery process allows plaintiffs the ability to prove the existence of a broader class by being able to identify potential class members.

Our office is pleased by the defeat of this bill. Tort Reform supporters fail to recognize the need for class action attorneys to represent the rights of numerous consumers who have been wronged by the illegal acts of large companies. The importance of class action attorneys has been heightened in recent decades due to the reluctance of the government to enforce its’ own laws, leaving it to class action attorneys as “private attorney generals.”

If there is an objection to class action attorneys being paid for their services, it should be that we–as taxpayers–have already paid the government to do the job through our taxes and they have failed to do so.

Pedestrian Struck And Killed In Los Angeles County Crosswalk Accident

Aurelia Arciniega, 47, was struck and killed in a fatal Los Angeles pedestrian accident that occurred on May 4, 2011, around 6 p.m. in the 6300 block of Florence Avenue. According to Coroner’s Office Assistant Chief Ed Winter, the pedestrian was struck by a motorist in the Bell Gardens neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Arciniega was immediately transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and was later pronounced dead. From the limited information available, it is quite evident that the negligent driving of the motorist leads to this fatal car accident. From the facts set forth in the news story, it appears that the motorist failed to notice the pedestrian crossing the intersection in a crosswalk and hit her. This leads us to question his alertness while driving. Was the driver using a cell phone? Was he driving under influence? Did he do enough to avoid the accident?

In any case, striking a pedestrian legally in a crosswalk is negligence per se under California law. Under California Vehicle Code Section 21950(a), “The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection….”

The pedestrian’s family members should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles to discuss their legal rights and options. An experienced lawyer can help the family obtain fair compensation to cover for funeral and burial costs, loss of future earnings, loss of love and companionship, and other accident-related expenses.

Our law office offers sincere condolences to all those who knew Arciniega for their loss. If it is found that the driver was operating his care illegally, either because he was driving under the influence of alcohol or without a valid driver’s license, we hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Tips for Southern California Pool Safety

Southern California is a great spot for lounging by the pool or throwing backyard parties, especially in the warm summer months. However, swimming pools can also cause serious injuries and even death. Young children are especially at risk from swimming pool drowning injuries.

If you’re preparing a pool for summer fun, here are a few things to consider in order to prevent injuries.

  • Use a fence that goes all the way around the perimeter of your pool, hot tub, or both. The fence should have self-latching gates that small children cannot open on their own. Alarms on doors or gates leading to the pool offer an extra layer of protection.
  • Anti-entrapment drain covers prevent swimmers or their clothing from getting caught in drains, which can result in drowning.
  • Make sure pool and spa covers meet federal and state safety requirements, to decrease the chance that someone will get stuck underneath them.
  • Make sure everyone in the family knows how to swim. If you have family members who can’t swim, keep them out of the pool unless they are wearing personal floatation devices (PFDs) appropriate for their height, weight, and body size.
  • Have at least one family member take classes in emergency first aid and CPR. These skills help protect everyone in the family and can literally save a life.

Swimming pool-related injuries can be severe. If you or someone you care for has been injured in a swimming pool, the knowledgeable San Diego swimming pool injury lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Newport Yacht Race Participant

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for the last of four boaters who were lost when the yacht they were racing collided with another object on the ocean, possibly a large ship. The other three boaters all lost their lives in the accident.

The suspected crash involved a yacht known as the Aegean. The yacht and her four crew members were competing in the Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race. The accident was discovered by two race employees riding in a safety boat, who first realized something was wrong when they came across shards of the yacht floating in the water, none more than six inches long. Once they came across a lifeboat with an identification number and the yacht’s nameplate, they were able to identify the lost vessel.

Two of the lost yachters were recovered by the team in the safety boat that discovered the accident and another was found by the U.S. Coast Guard. The fourth member of the yacht’s crew is still missing.

Investigators speculate that the yacht was hit by a larger vessel, such as a freighter. Other race participants had reported hearing a larger ship in the area near the time when the accident likely occurred.

Boating is a popular summer activity on southern California’s sunny ocean waters, but when something goes wrong, a fun trip or a challenging race can turn quickly into a tragedy. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident, please don’t hesitate to call the experienced San Diego boat accident attorneys. Your initial telephone consultation is free and confidential.

Fatal Los Angeles Pedestrian Accident Happens in Parking Lot

The Los Angeles Police reported that a man lost his life when he was hit by a woman driver who accidentally accelerated in a 7-Eleven parking lot. The pedestrian accident at Reseda and Burbank Boulevards around 9 p.m. on Monday, May 3, 2010, when the man was walking into the store to do some shopping.

Valley Traffic Division investigators remained at the car crash scene on Tuesday morning, more than five hours after the fatality to determine the cause of the traffic accident. The woman was found not to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If that is the case, then the accident is most likely due to the pedestrian suddenly entering the path of the car, the driver being inattentive, or both.

We wish the family of the accident victim our prayers and condolences. There is nothing worse than losing a loved one. Drivers should always be careful when driving to look out for pedestrians, skateboarders, or other possible sudden impediments to their car’s path. Drivers should never assume that sudden danger will not prevent themselves.

Bad Owners Lead to Ban, Euthanization of Pit Bulls

These are bad times if you are a pit bull, or own one, in Denver.

Scared by the damage that pit bulls can inflict when they attack, the City Council of Aurora approved a ban of new pit bulls within the city limits. Owners of existing pit bulls can keep their pet if the meet new rules, including a special, breed-specific licensing fee of $200, carrying $100,000 of liability insurance, be at least 21 years of age, and post warning signs in the front of their property.

With the exception of the breed-specific licensing fee, none of these requirements are outrageous. They are simply the minimum requirements of being a responsible dog owner–of any breed.

However, the ban is the result of not only urban myths about the breed, but, most importantly, bad owners.

So are pit bulls the product of the breed or bad owners? And who is responsible for the damages they cause–the dog or the owner?

First, let’s deal with the public’s fear of the breed. As many are aware, this muscular breed looks like this:

Pit%20Bull.bmp

Quite menancing looking, huh?

But, if we’re going to condemn the big, muscular, adult version of the breed universally, then we also have to condemn these guys as equally bad:

Not ready to do that? Unfortunately, one of the consequences of Aurora’s ban is that pit bulls of all ages are being sent to the pound.

Even more unfortunate is that this breed has been the victim of poor owners and, in most cases that come into our office, completely irresponsible owners. It seems common sense that dog owners should keep their animals closed in their property, should carry sufficient insurance to pay for damages caused by their animal, and–if there are signs of prior aggressive behavior–place warning signs outside their property.

Yet, I can’t tell you how many times we have received telephone calls from the parents of small children who have been mauled by pit bulls owned by irresponsible owners who (1) let their animal wander the neighborhood unsupervised, (2) do not carry ANY insurance at all, and (3) do not take any extra steps to safeguard others after their animal had shown prior aggression.

Dog bites obviously aren’t limited to pit bulls. We’ve received a greater number of calls from dog bites from smaller dogs (chihuahuas, poodles, etc.) than pit bulls. The difference, though, is that the pit bull owners have been irresponsible almost to a man while the other dog owners possess insurance and supervised their dogs.

This is not an indictment of pit bull owners in total. Just a certain group of owners. The public should hold these owners to a higher standard of responsibility than they hold themselves. The public should also take a little time to find out about these often misunderstood animals.

But they should cut the animals some slack for the shortcomings of their owners.

Carlsbad Pedestrian Seriously Injured After Being Hit by Car

A Carlsbad pedestrian accident occurred Sunday, May 3, at the intersection of El Camino Real and Kelly Drive in Carlsbad when a pedestrian was struck by car just before 8:30 p.m. Carlsbad police Sgt. Paul Mendes reported that the Carlsbad pedestrian was taken to Scripps La Jolla Hospital with numerous critical injuries.

Pedestrian Struck And Killed After Being Hit by Car in Sacramento

An unidentified 29-year-old man fatal threatening injuries in a solo vehicle-pedestrian accident that occurred on May 4, 2011, at 9 p.m. on Watt Avenue in Sacramento. The California Highway Patrol Officers report the pedestrian stepped out into the traffic lane and was struck by a black Volkswagen Jetta driven by a 51-year-old Sacramento woman.

California Highway Patrol Spokeswoman Lizz Dutton said that the female driver stopped at the accident scene until the rescue crew arrived. Paramedics responding to the pedestrian accident immediately pronounced the victim dead.

From the limited amount of information, it is unclear what lead to this fatal car accident that took the pedestrian’s life. Based upon a reading of California Vehicle Code Section 21950, it is quite possible that both the driver and pedestrian may be responsible for this deadly pedestrian accident. Further, because the pedestrian may not be 100% at fault and the driver may not be 100% fault-free under their responsibilities set forth by California law, the family of the pedestrian may still be able to recover damages for the loss of their loved one in this accident.

The pedestrian’s family members should immediately consult with an experienced Sacramento pedestrian accident lawyer to obtain compensation to pay funeral and burial costs, loss of anticipated earnings, loss of love and companionship, and other accident-related damages.

Our personal injury law office offers our sincere condolences to all those who knew and loved the victim for such a tragic loss.

Former Chargers Linebacker Junior Seau Dead in Apparent Suicide

San Diego NFL legend Junior Seau died early Wednesday, May 2, 2012, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

According to law enforcement, Seau’s girlfriend discovered his bleeding, unconscious body at their Oceanside home. A 911 call was placed around 10am in the morning. Life-saving efforts were attempted but unsuccessful. The former San Diego Charger was pronounced dead at the scene.

Despite widespread rumors, a law enforcement official told reporters that there was no suicide note left at the scene.

However, it is believed that Seau’s suicide was caused by depression and mental impairment brought on by head trauma he endured during his football career. Head trauma is an unfortunately continuous tragedy among football players, who constantly endure multiple and repeated hits to the head.

Born and raised in San Diego, Junior Seau came to be a local celebrity. The 12-time Pro Bowl player started his football career at Oceanside High School and went on to play for the University of Southern California (USC) before being drafted into the NFL as a San Diego Charger.

The 43-year-old athlete is survived by 4 children and an ex-wife.

We are saddened by this loss and sends our condolences to Seau’s family, friends, and loyal fans. This is a huge loss to the San Diego community. He is and will forever be San Diego’s most renowned Charger.

Driver in Fatal Central California Tour Bus Crash had History of Prior Accidents

You have likely heard about the recent deadly tour bus carrying tourists, mostly from France, from the San Francisco area down to Los Angeles, where they were due to depart back to France. The Orion Pacific tour bus had overturned on a highway overpass in Central California where four passengers were ejected from the bus as it lay in a wreck around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday. There were five confirmed deaths from the bus accident.

A new detail reveals that the American driver, John Egnew, 69, of Corona in Riverside County, had been involved in another accident about three years ago. The Associated Press found evidence that in 2005, Egnew struck a 71-year-old woman in Las Vegas as she was crossing the street with her husband, leaving the woman with serious injuries. Egnew claimed that he didn’t see the pedestrian on the road.