California Becomes First State To Allow Lane Splitting For Motorcyclists

December 20, 2016 Motorcycle Accidents

California becomes the first state in the union to define rules for cars and motorcycles to share the road with

motorbike riding on the street

California becomes the first state in the union to define rules for cars and motorcycles to share the road with the passage of a bold new law set to go into effect on January 1, 2017.  Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorneys at the Salamati Firm say the passage of AB 51 can be an incredible asset to a personal injury lawsuit, but does not necessarily guarantee safety for motorcyclists or motorists.

Old California lane splitting rules

Lane splitting is a practice where motorcycles pass other vehicles moving in the same direction, within the same lane. Though it has been used by motorcyclists as a way to lessen congestion and help them maneuver out of harm’s way for decades, there has been no law explicitly allowing or prohibiting it. According to the OC Register, lane splitting sparks contention among some motorists, who say “it is reckless and burdens them to be on guard.”

Prior to August 19th 2016, California lane splitting rules were more like informal guidelines, asking that drivers and cyclists practice “common-sense traffic safety”. The law recommended that riders wear protective gear, abstain from intoxicating substances, avoid blind spots, and “ride responsibly,” within the designated speed limit. Motorists were expected to “stay alert” and use common courtesy on the road, allowing motorcycles to pass.

The publication of guidelines for safe lane splitting on the California Highway Patrol website in 2012 sparked a formal complaint from an individual who said there was no regulatory basis for the recommendations, calling them “underground regulations.” For a time, the CHP removed the guidelines from its website and curtailed their educational outreach campaigns, but they have resurfaced in a formal new bill.

New California lane splitting laws

The new California lane splitting law is still in the process of being drafted, but it will give the California Highway Patrol the authority to create laws on lane splitting. They also agreed to consult the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Traffic Safety, and a motorcyclist safety organization to draft the legislation.

The previously published CHP guidelines stated:

  • Lane splitting by motorcyclists is not illegal in California when done in a safe and prudent manner.
  • Motorists should not take it upon themselves to discourage motorcyclists from lane splitting.
  • Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider is illegal.
  • Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcycle is illegal.

They reminded drivers to avoid driving distracted, check mirrors and blind spots, signal before merging or changing lanes, and allowing 3-4 seconds of following distance when trailing a motorcycle rider.

Additional guidelines in the new California lane splitting law are expected to include:

  • The maximum speed motorcyclists are allowed to travel when lane-splitting is 30 mph.
  • The maximum speed motorcyclists can travel when lane-splitting in heavy traffic is 10 mph faster.
  • Lane splitting is safest in the furthest left lane, away from ramps or exits, and not around other lane splitters.

Furthermore, authorities say, it is not safe to lane split when:

  • There is no room to fit due to narrow lanes or wide motor vehicles like trucks, buses and RVs.
  • Dangerous road conditions exist like water, grit, construction, slippery pavement, metal grates, etc.
  • There is a blocked view and no visible way to get out of the space.
  • The road is curved.
  • Cyclists are not fully alert, aware and comfortable with the surroundings.

The more specific recommendations are based upon a 2015 study out of UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center. The OC Register says that an earlier version of AB51 would have prohibited lane-splitting above 50 mph or more than 15 mph faster than traffic, but the CHP struck these details from the bill because they wanted to comprehensively study what will work best. At its heart, the law will clarify to motorists that “lane-splitting is legal”, and serve as a reminder to motorcyclists “not to go too fast.”

California motorcycle accident lawyer

Formally defining lane splitting guidelines is a good step toward improved traffic safety in California. Motorcyclists who lane-split will be viewed as acting in accordance with the law, rather than brazen outlaws. Ideally, motorists will allow a little more time and space for these exchanges to take place. Unfortunately, laws cannot create perfect conditions for every situation and every driver. When accidents occur, the lawyers at the Salamati Firm will find an easier time assigning fault and pointing to areas of negligence with these laws more clearly defined.

Additional CA lane splitting resources:

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Negligent Hiring by Trucking Firms Puts Motorists at Risk

December 16, 2016 Truck Accidents

There are over 3.5 million commercial truck drivers in the United States. They are vital to the American economy –

trucks on highwayThere are over 3.5 million commercial truck drivers in the United States. They are vital to the American economy – but, weighing up to 80,000 pounds, these trucks can be extremely dangerous with the wrong person behind the wheel.

Our truck accident attorneys in Los Angeles have found that many crashes can be traced back to negligent hiring practices by trucking companies.

Past history of violations

All too often, trucking firms – desperate for workers – hire employees with poor driving records. Companies should carefully screen new hires for prior convictions like traveling at unsafe speeds, tail-gaiting, recklessness, or driving under the influence. They should avoid hiring truckers who have had previous suspensions or revocations. While it is not illegal to hire a driver with a past record of motor vehicle violations, companies who knowingly do so can be held liable if the driver continues to break the law behind the wheel.

Does the driver have the proper license credentials?

A person must hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in order to lawfully drive a commercial truck. Drivers must receive specialized training and pass exams administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Prospective employers must investigate the preceding three years or more to see that the new hire’s identification and employment information can be verified and that there were no serious issues leading to accidents.

Drivers require special credentials on top of the CDL when operating trucks with:

  • Double or triple trailers
  • Tanks and explosives
  • Hazardous materials
  • Passengers

Employing drivers without the right credentials is grounds to sue the company.

Has the driver been screened for drugs or alcohol?

The FMCSA mandates that commercial truck drivers be tested for illegal drugs prior to being hired. The FMCSA holds companies liable for routinely performing drug and alcohol testing before shifts. To return to work after failing a drug or alcohol test, drivers must serve a suspension, pass retest, and face random testing at least twice a year. Trucking firms can be held liable if their drivers fail to pass these tests and continue to operate commercial vehicles.

Negligent truck driver hiring practices

Less than two decades ago, the LA Times ran a report that 113 of the 2,600 city of LA truck drivers had failed drug tests or lost the right to drive their personal vehicles within a three-year period. One truck driver was involved in a fatal accident that resulted in a $19 million settlement in favor of the plaintiff. Acting as an employer, the City paid $19.3 million in judgments and settlements related to negligent hiring practices and driver monitoring. It was found that 95 city truck drivers returned to their jobs, despite testing positive for drugs or alcohol. Nearly half of those people failed a second test, but 23 still returned to work without penalty.

California 18 wheeler accident attorney

Litigating commercial truck accidents is one of our areas of expertise here at The Salamati Law Firm. Our Southern California 18 wheeler accident attorneys are committed to serving you and your family following a life-changing truck accident. We have a long track record of multi-million dollar wins for our truck accident victim clients. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. There is no fee unless we win your case.

Additional Resources:

  1. TruckingInfo, Trucking Statistics, http://www.truckinfo.net/trucking/stats.htm
  2. LA Times,City Truck Drivers Still on Road After Drug Test Failures
    http://articles.latimes.com/2000/feb/24/local/me-2169
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Nominees for “10 Worst Toys in 2016” Released

December 9, 2016 News

Toy stores are beefing up inventories with the latest products and gadgets as holiday shopping is in full swing. Once

Toy stores are beefing up inventories with the latest products and gadgets as holiday shopping is in full swing. Once again, the consumer advocacy group World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) has published its nominees for the “10 Worst Toys” of 2016 in the hopes of keeping dangerous toys out of the hands of small children. The organization releases such a list every year in an effort to prevent needless toy-related injuries, which cause more than 250,000 emergency room visits annually.

W.A.T.C.H. is urging both parents and caregivers to take caution when buying toys for their children this holiday season, as many are sold without adequate warnings about choking, suffocation and injury hazards. Dozens of the recalled toys in recent years were found to have design or manufacturing defects, or were put on the marketplace without sufficient testing.

Safety advocates say that between 2010 and 2014, an estimated 61 American children died because of toy-related injuries. Their 2016 “10 Worst Toys” nominees spotlight some of the many hazards posed to children.

10 Most Hazardous Toys for 2016

According to the W.A.T.C.H. report, the following ten products have inadequate warnings and may be extremely dangerous for children.

  1. Banzai Bump and Bounce Body Bumpers – Manufactured by ToyQuest, these inflatable suits worn by children allow kids to bounce off one another. However, there is no protective equipment included and this toy has a potential for impact injuries
  2. Kids Time Baby Children’s Elephant Pillow – Sold on Amazon, this plush stuffed animal comes with no warnings about the suffocation risks for infants.
  3. Peppa Pig’s Muddy Puddles Family – These cute figurines are marketed for children ages 2 and 3 or older, but without warnings about small plastic parts that pose choking hazards for this age group
  4. Slimeball Slinger – Much like a slingshot, the Slimeball Slinger lets kids launch projectiles more than 30 feet, but the toy has the potential to cause severe eye injuries
  5. Nerf Rival Apollo XV-700 Blaster – Nerf ammunition may be soft, but it can still result in serious eye injuries. The package includes photos of children wearing safety masks, though no protective gear is included.
  6. Flying Heroes Superman Launcher – A winged superhero figurine sold at major retail outlets, this product has the potential for face and eye injuries when used by small children
  7. Peppy Pups – This playpen toy, sold at ToysR US, is sold with a 31-inch long cord, posing strangulation risks to children aged 3 and younger.
  8. The Good Dinosaur Galloping Butch – Marketed to children 3 or older, this T-Rex toy has a sharp plastic tail that can cause significant puncture wound injuries.
  9. Warcraft Doomhammer – Blunt impact injuries are a potential danger when children play with this heavy weight plastic hammer
  10. Baby Magic Feed and Play Baby – Two-year olds are encouraged to spoon feed this interactive baby doll, but the spoon is small enough that it could block a child’s airway if used improperly

Los Angeles toy defect lawyers

The W.A.T.C.H. report, though helpful, is far from an exhaustive list of all toys that pose dangers for choking, strangulation, puncture wounds or impact injuries. If your child is hurt by a toy that is unsafe for its intended purpose, came without adequate warnings, or was defective in some manner, you may have grounds for legal action.

To learn more about filing a product liability lawsuit in Los Angeles, we encourage you to call The Salamati Law Firm for a free, no-obligation case review. Our veteran LA personal injury attorneys stand prepared to fight for maximum compensation. Call our offices today at 888-259-4060.

Resources

  1. ToySafety.org, 2016 “10 Worst Toy” List http://toysafety.org/toy-safety/2016-10-worst-toy-list/
  2. ToySafety.org, 2016, Nominee List http://toysafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/WATCH-2016-Press-Release-With-Nominees.pdf
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Traffic Deaths on Rise in 2016, New Report Finds

November 8, 2016 News

Traffic deaths saw a sharp uptick during the first half of 2016, according to data collected by federal traffic authorities.

The car which moved down in a ditch as a result of accident. The turned car.

Traffic deaths saw a sharp uptick during the first half of 2016, according to data collected by federal traffic authorities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has discovered a 10-percent increase in traffic deaths between 2015 and 2016, marking the largest jump in traffic fatalities in the past 50 years. The increase in fatalities has been seen among pedestrians and bicyclists as well as motorists, according to the latest numbers.

The new data, which was released in the October issue of Traffic Safety Facts, estimated that nearly 18,000 people, or 1.12 for every million people in the U.S., died in motor vehicle accidents from January to June this year. That compares to the same time frame in 2015, when almost 16,000 people, or 1.05 for every million people, lost their lives. The years both show increases in deaths over previous years, including the first six months of 2011 when an estimated 15,000 people died.

The researchers noted that the last seven calendar quarters have seen increases in traffic fatalities when compared with the corresponding quarter for the previous year. There appears to be a number of factors that might be contributing to this alarming trend, although researchers warn that those factors may become more apparent when final numbers are available in late fall of 2017. In the meantime, highway officials are examining some early clues into what might be driving this unfortunate trend.

Factors at play

The National Safety Commission has noted that the improving economy, which has led to higher employment rates and cheaper gasoline, may be one of the factors contributing to the higher mortality rates on the nation’s roadways. When the economy is slow, fewer people tend to be out and about going to work and other obligations. When the economy picks up, so do the miles logged on the nation’s highways.

The Federal Highway Administration has linked the increase in fatalities to an increase in miles traveled. During the first six months of 2016, the number of vehicles traveling on U.S. roadways increased by 50.5 billion miles, which is a 3.3 percent increase in miles traveled since the previous year.

Other factors that routinely contribute to increases in traffic fatalities include driving under the influence, distracted driving and speeding. At this time, it is too early to know exactly how much of a role these common factors may have played in the latest numbers.  However, that information should be available later next year, which will help officials determine whether further steps might need to be taken to reduce these risks.

Bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities

Researchers also noted that a rise in fatalities among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists could have contributed to the increase in traffic-related fatalities – at least during 2015. During this year alone, there was a 12.2 percent increase in bicycle accident fatalities and a 9.5 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities. Walking and biking to work have become increasingly popular modes of transportation as one million more people have been walking to work since 2005.

While people may opt to walk or bike to work for health reasons, the danger of such activity also needs to be noted. Many cities do not have designated lanes for walkers or bikers, which can bring them much closer to the street action than what is considered safe. These additional lanes can be expensive for cities, which is why many do not offer them. However, studies have shown that designated lanes can lower the incidence of pedestrian death and serious injury.

If you have been injured in an motor vehicle accident in Los Angeles, The Salamati Law Firm is here to help. Our Southern California car accident lawyers help navigate the complex legal system to ensure your rights are protected and just compensation is obtained. Schedule a free case evaluation by calling 888-259-4060.

Resources:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half (Jan-June) of 2016, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812332

KQED, With Rising Number of Highway Deaths, California Bucks National Trend, https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2015/11/24/with-rising-number-of-highway-deaths-california-bucks-national-trend/

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Lawsuits Filed After Deadly Tour Bus Crash

November 1, 2016 News

Lawsuits have been filed by the families of two of the victims who died in a tour bus crash outside of

Lawsuits have been filed by the families of two of the victims who died in a tour bus crash outside of Palm Springs, California on October 23. The lawsuits were filed against the bus company and its owner and driver the night of the accident. The driver was also killed in the crash, so the lawsuits are seeking damages from the deceased driver’s estate.

Family members of Gustavo Garcia, 63, and Tony Mia, 50, said the driver of the bus, 59-year-old Teodulo Elias Vides, was negligent and reckless, making him legally responsible for the accident. Specifically, the lawsuits cite failure to travel at a safe speed, failure to reduce speed at a construction zone and failure to keep a proper lookout and apply the brakes when necessary. The lawyers of the plaintiffs also list Vides’ failure to properly maintain the bus and operating a bus that was not equipped with seatbelts or other restraint systems.

Crash occurred in early morning hours

The bus was traveling back to the Los Angeles area from the Red Earth Casino at Salton City at around 5:15 a.m. when it slammed into the back of a tractor trailer on Interstate 10. Traffic in the area had slowed significantly at the time of the accident, due to roadwork. The big rig was traveling at about five miles per hour when the bus crashed into its back end. Investigators have told local media the bus must have been traveling much faster than the truck at the time of impact, due to the considerable damage the front of the bus suffered.

In addition, investigators noted there were no skid marks to indicate the brakes were ever applied on the bus prior to the collision. The only skid marks in the road after the accident were those of the truck as it was pushed forward from the accident. The investigation has also revealed that four of the eight tires on the bus were worn to the point the vehicle should have been put out of commission.

Investigation by NTSB ongoing

The investigation is continuing as the National Transportation Safety Board continues to collect clues as to what might have caused the deadly accident. Some of the factors they will consider include the driving records of both drivers involved in the crash, including their accident history and level of training for operating the vehicles they were driving.

Most of the passengers were asleep on the bus when the collision occurred. The 13 that were killed were all sitting close to the front of the bus, where the most significant damage occurred. Another 31 passengers were injured during the accidents, some of them severely.

The wrongful death lawsuits filed this week are the first involving this particular crash. A report from KPCC found that Vides was only carrying $5 million in insurance for his bus, which will not offer much compensation for the families of the 13 killed as well as the other 31 that suffered injuries. The $5 million is the legal limit for buses of this size – a limit that has not changed since the 1980s.

As the investigation into the cause of the crash continues, it remains to be seen whether other accident victims will seek legal reparations. Los Angeles car accident attorney Sean F. Salamati offers legal guidance to those who were injured in motor vehicle accidents. To make an appointment for a free consultation, please call 888-259-4060

Resources:

  1. CNN, Police: “No Appearance of Braking” in Deadly Bus Crash, http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/23/us/california-bus-accident/
  2. SCPR, Bus Crash Victims to get Little Compensation, http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/10/31/65827/bus-crash-victims-likely-to-get-little-compensatio/
  3. Las Vegas Review Journal, Casino Bus Crashes in U.S. Attracting More Safety Scrutiny, http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nation-and-world/casino-bus-crashes-us-attracting-more-safety-scrutiny
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Los Angeles Reports Spate of Motorcycle Accident Fatalities

October 27, 2016 Motorcycle Accidents

Recent headlines in the Los Angeles area underscore the dangers facing motorcyclists today. Motorcycle crashes and fatalities continue to be

Recent headlines in the Los Angeles area underscore the dangers facing motorcyclists today. Motorcycle crashes and fatalities continue to be an epidemic of tragic proportions in the LA metro area, with at least four deaths reported in the last few weeks. Police investigations commonly find reckless driving, road hazards and excess speed to be contributing factors in motorcycle-vehicle crashes, though distracted driving and alcohol impairment are often cited as well.

When careless motorists cause serious injury or death on California’s roads, victims have the law on their side. Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney Sean F. Salamati discusses liability issues and some of the more recent fatal crashes that made the news.

Recent motorcycle crashes claim lives

In late September, a left turn accident claimed the life of two people in Riverside.  Police say that a 61-year-old woman was waiting to make a turn onto Kearney Street, and as she turned her SUV left from Columbia Avenue, a motorcyclist and his passenger crashed into the vehicle. The impact of the collision ejected the biker and his passenger from the motorcycle, killing both.

Just two days later, downtown Los Angeles was the scene of a separate fatal motorcycle crash. According to the LA County Sheriff’s Department, a motorcyclist was struck by the Metro Expo Line train around 1:30 a.m. on Washington Boulevard and Flower Street. Investigators claim the motorcyclist was traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the fatal collision, which marks the first traffic fatality on the light-rail line.

Just two weeks ago, another motorcyclist died in a North Hills van accident, which happened in the  5100 block of Nordhoff Street. Officials say that the 28-year old victim, David Villatoro, smashed into the side of a passenger van that was carrying three people. Investigations are still pending, but police say that the biker’s speed was a definite factor in the accident.

Determining fault in accidents

Driver error is one of the most common causes of motorcycle and vehicle accidents. Motorists who fail to obey traffic laws, blow through a stop light, fail to yield the right of way, or make lane changes without checking their blind spot are at high risk of being involved in serious accidents.

More often than not, personal injury actions arising from motorcycle crashes are based on theories of negligence. When the driver of a passenger vehicle operates their car in a negligent manner and their actions or omissions cause injury to another, the motorcyclist has a valid claim for compensation.

Liability may also be assigned to defective or malfunctioning vehicle parts that caused the motorcycle rider to lose control and crash. Poorly designed or defective brakes and tires contribute to dozens of motorcycle accidents every year. In cases like these, victims may sue for damages in a product liability claim.

To discuss your options for legal recourse in the wake of a motorcycle accident, call Salamati Law at 888-259-4060. You may be entitled to seek damages for medical expenses, lost income, permanent disability, emotional hardships and other losses. All consultations are free and without obligation — call today!

Resources:

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Coalition Vows to Eliminate Traffic Deaths Within 30 Years

October 26, 2016 Auto Accidents

In early October, four government agencies overseeing transportation in the U.S. announced a plan with the goal of reducing traffic

International shipment, trucks and cars driving on the road. Logistics and warehousing

In early October, four government agencies overseeing transportation in the U.S. announced a plan with the goal of reducing traffic deaths to zero within 30 years.

The plan, called the Road to Zero Coalition initiative, was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The NHTSA is joined by the Federal Highway Administration (NHWA), the National Safety Council (NSC), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). All these agencies will be working together.

The initiatives address the multiple causes of traffic fatalities and plan to use targeted plans, education, innovative technology, and funding to reach the 30-year goal.

Because traffic deaths stem from multiple factors, including driver actions and roadway conditions, the near-term goals focus on increasing the safety of drivers and roadways.

To those ends, the inaugural efforts will 1) promote use of seat belts, a proven method of reducing fatalities, through specific enforcement; 2) put rumble strips in areas that are known to be hazardous sites of veering off; 3) enhance safety of commercial vehicles to reduce truck accidents; and 4) initiate educational campaigns to promote safe driving.

Longer term, the campaign will target the use of innovative technology, such as vehicles with self-driving capability, improved infrastructure and roadway design, safety behaviors, and enforcement of speed limits. The coalition hopes that technology developed for self-driving cars can be incorporated into all vehicles to reduce human error.

Initiative responds to spike in traffic fatalities

The consortium plans to generously fund organizations that create programs that save lives as part of the Road to Zero initiatives. It will be sponsoring $1 million in grant money every year over the next three years.

The programs will also target the risks that are the root cause of many highway vehicle accidents. The program plans to research new evidence-based strategies and systematic approaches that will make the risks a thing of the past.

The news of the formation of Road to Zero occurred shortly after the NHTSA had announced the first half 2016 statistics on traffic fatalities. Fatal traffic accidents occurred 10.4% more frequently in the period than in the first half of 2015. Last year’s first half, it should be noted, also saw a year-over-year increase, and registered the highest number of traffic deaths since 1996.

Deborah A.P. Hersman, the president and CEO of the NSC, observed that “The ‘4Es’ – Education, Engineering, Enforcement and Emergency Medical Services – provide a reliable roadmap for driving down fatalities. Coupled with new technologies and innovative approaches to mobility, we may now hold the keys that get us to zero.”

Trusted accident attorney in Los Angeles

The Zero in Thirty plans are admirable and future successes would be applauded. But for right now, the initiative offers little comfort for victims of reckless drivers

If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in a vehicle accident, Los Angeles car accident lawyer Sean F. Salamati offers skilled legal advice on your rights to compensation. Contact our office toll-free to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.

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Tour Bus Crash Leaves 13 Dead and 31 Injured on 10 Freeway

October 25, 2016 News

Thirteen people were killed and 31 injured on October 23 when a tour bus hit the back of a large

Firefighter and paramedics taking victim out of crashed car

Thirteen people were killed and 31 injured on October 23 when a tour bus hit the back of a large truck near Palm Springs. The bus originated in Los Angeles, and it is believed that most of the passengers were from the Los Angeles area.

The crash is one of the deadliest in California since a 1963 accident near Chualar. That collision, involving a flatbed truck transporting Mexican farm workers and a freight train, killed 32 people.

The accident occurred on the 10 Freeway in Desert Hot Springs during the predawn hours. Most of the passengers were asleep. They had been at a casino near Thermal, close to the Salton Sea.

The bus in which the victims were riding hit the rear end of the truck’s trailer, nearly destroying the front of the bus and severely impacting the first third of it. The Los Angeles Times noted that most of the fatalities were sitting near the front of the bus.

Given the damage to the bus, authorities noted that it might have been going much faster than the truck. However, officials noted that an investigation is pending and it is not known whether the bus driver was going over the speed limit.

Early indications were that the driver died in the crash. Although California Highway Patrol (CHP) authorities have not identified the driver, neighbors in Alhambra gave his name as Elias Vides.

The damaged vehicle was a USA Holiday tour bus. It did not have seat belts. USA Holiday is based in Alhambra and owns a single bus and has one driver.

CHP Border Division Chief Jim Abele said, “In almost 35 years, I’ve never been to a crash where there’s been 13 confirmed fatals. It’s tough … you never get used to this.”

Injured taken to nearby hospitals

Five of the injured were in critical condition.

Because of the lack of seat belts, some of the injured received facial injuries with soft tissue and bone injury involvement. Some may need plastic surgery as a result of their injuries, according to Dr. Ricard Townsend at Desert Regional Medical Center, where some of the injured were taken.

Other passengers were brought to area hospitals with noncritical injuries, including cuts, abrasions, and neck pain.

Many of the victims were Spanish-speaking. Local hospitals brought in healthcare personnel who spoke Spanish to help in the patients’ care.

Federal investigation begins

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were slated to arrive in the area on Monday to help with the ongoing investigation. They will look at causal factors, including whether the early morning hours meant the driver feel asleep, whether he was under the influence of substances, or had a medical emergency such as a heart attack. They also explore the possibility of mechanical problems with the bus.

Officials indicated they hope to find a data recorder to determine the bus’s speed and driver actions before the crash, such as braking. However, since the bus is 20 years old, they cautioned that it may not have had a data recorder on board.

Personal injury law firm serving Los Angeles

The Salamati Law Firm continues to follow investigations into the cause of this fatal accident, and our Southern California car accident attorneys extend their sincere condolences to those who were harmed or lost a loved one. To learn more about our legal services or to request a free consultation with a member of our firm, please call our Los Angeles office at 888-259-4060.

LA Times, 13 dead, 31 others injured in tour bus crash near Palm Springs http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-tour-bus-20161023-snap-story.html
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Nursing Home Residents No Longer Bound by Arbitration Agreements

October 19, 2016 Elder Abuse

On September 28, 2016 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized new rules that would serve to enhance

senior woman in nursing home clasped handOn September 28, 2016 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized new rules that would serve to enhance the safety and quality care of more than 1.5 million elders residing in our nation’s long-term nursing home facilities that are funded by the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The revamp included several policies, including one that will guarantee the rights of nursing home residents and their families to sue long-term care facilities in the event of neglect, abuse or other instances that result in physical, emotional or financial injury.

This new rule prohibits the use of binding arbitration clauses that have always been included in long-term facility contracts. These mandatory clauses require all disputes to go through arbitration, rather than the courts. The policy will officially go into effect on November 28 of this year, and will be implemented in more than 15,000 nursing homes and live-in facilities that are part of the Medicare and Medicaid system.

Proponents of the CMS changes applaud the new policy. “Today’s rule is a small but important victory in the long battle to root out these secretive, complicated arbitration clauses that favor corporate interests over consumer rights,” stated Senator Patrick Leahy (Vermont), who had criticized arbitration clauses that stripped patients of their right to legal recourse.

Long-term care residents previously forfeited their legal rights

The revamped rule will allow victims of nursing home abuse, fraud and neglect to have their day in court, giving victims and their loved ones the opportunity to seek financial compensation while holding negligent parties accountable for their actions. For many families who have been affected by such tragedy, this procedural change will make a world of difference. According to 2009 research, monies secured through arbitration are, on average, 35 percent lower than court awards.  The discrepancy may be attributed to the pre-dispute arbitration process, in which patients have few grounds for appeal.

Consumer watchdog activists point out that many families, who are already under pressure to find an affordable yet trustworthy long-term facility for their loved ones, don’t always read the contractual fine print that essentially stripped them of their right to sue.

The CMS changes intended to increase standards of care also touched on regulations that would improve staff training, medical care and treatment of residents, infection prevention and control and healthy dietary provisions.

Advocates for victims of elder abuse

An estimated 10 percent of seniors over the age of 60 experience some form of elder abuse, according to national statistics.  If you believe that a family member or loved one has been neglected, or physically or emotionally abused in a long-term care facility, it’s important to report your suspicions to authorities and seek legal counsel right away.

The Salamati Law Firm can review the facts surrounding your case and assist families in the pursuit of justice. Civil litigation against nursing homes, their management and staff may help recoup compensation for hospital and medical bills, emotional anguish, pain and suffering, and other losses. Call us toll-free to speak with a Los Angeles elder abuse lawyer today.

More information on nursing home abuse:

  1. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS finalizes improvements in care, safety, and consumer protections for long-term care facility residents https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2016-Press-releases-items/2016-09-28.html
  2. NPR.org, New Rule Preserves Patients’ Rights To Sue Nursing Homes In Court http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/29/495918132/new-rule-preserves-patients-rights-to-sue-nursing-homes-in-court
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Study Finds Pokemon Go a Dangerous Distraction

October 4, 2016 News

Pokemon Go, the popular augmented reality game, has proven itself to be one of the most played apps of all

Using a phone while driving a car

Pokemon Go, the popular augmented reality game, has proven itself to be one of the most played apps of all time since its introduction this past summer. Unfortunately, not all the news regarding the app has been positive, however. The game has recently been linked to a slew of car and pedestrian accidents, indicating the distraction of the game might be too much for some players trying to “catch ‘em all.”

Researchers have actually taken a closer look at the potential danger surrounding Pokemon Go. Scientists from San Diego State University studied the effects of the app on car crashes around the country. They specifically looked at the association between July 10 and July 19, when the game was first introduced to the general public.

Study uses news, social media reports

The study, which was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in September, used social media and news reports to collect data involving both motorists and pedestrians that were distracted by the game. Researchers found a total of 350,000 tweets that referred to both “Pokemon Go” and “driving a car.” A random sample of 4,000 of those tweets indicated the person playing the game was driving a vehicle, a passenger in a vehicle or a pedestrian interacting with traffic at the time of play.

Approximately one-third of those tweets suggested the player was distracted by the game. Although some of the tweets were perceived as jokes, researchers determined that around 114,000 traffic incidents were reported on Twitter within that 10-day time frame. Researchers also scanned Google News reports during that same time and found 321 stories referring to car crashes involving Pokemon Go.

“Pokemon Go is a new distraction for drivers and pedestrians, and safety messages are scarce,” researchers concluded. They are hoping their findings will motivate policy makers and game developers to take steps to make this game, and others like it, safer for play. For example, game manufacturers could make the game inaccessible once a certain driving speed is reached. Currently, Pokemon Go asks players if they are a driver or passenger when the vehicle moves faster than 10 miles per hour. The game also displays numerous warnings when the app is first launched.

Distracted driving a major concern

At a time when concerns have been on the rise over the potential risk of distracted driving, games like Pokemon Go are just one more factor to consider. Victims of distracted driving accidents may see their lives change in a matter of seconds, as they are sometimes left to deal with debilitating injuries or even the loss of a loved one as a result of these crashes.

When a driver is found to be at fault in an accident due to distracted driving, whether from texting, talking on a phone or playing a game, they can be held liable for the victim’s injuries and other losses. However, it takes experienced legal guidance to prove the driver was distracted and pursue maximum monetary damages.

If you or someone you love was injured in a traffic accident due to Pokemon Go or another distraction, help is available. Contact Los Angeles car accident attorneys at The Salamati Law Firm for a free case review and answers to all of your legal questions. Contact us 24/7 at at 888-259-4060.

Resources:

JAMA Internal Medicine, Pokemon Go: A New Distraction for Drivers and Pedestrians, http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2553331

FOX News, Death by Pokemon? Public Safety Fears Mount as Pokemon Go Craze Continues, http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2016/07/14/death-by-pokemon-public-safety-fears-mount-as-pokemon-go-craze-continues.html

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