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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Disturbing Increase in Traffic Deaths Reported

September 27, 2016 News

According to preliminary studies conducted by the National Safety Council, deaths in traffic accidents were up nine percent during the

Traffic fatality

According to preliminary studies conducted by the National Safety Council, deaths in traffic accidents were up nine percent during the first half of 2016 compared to the same six month period in 2015. Unfortunately, this is consistent with a surge in auto accident fatalities which began two years ago.

According to the research, between January and June this year, somewhere in the vicinity of 19,000 people died in the U.S. in auto accidents. This is a noticeable 18 percent more than two years earlier during the same time period. During the recorded 2016 six month period, almost 2.2 million people suffered serious injury.

The Salamati Law Firm finds these numbers unsettling. If this continues, there could be over 40,000 fatalities by the end of September. There were over 35,000 deaths as a result of auto accidents in all of 2015 and it is considered the most dangerous year for driving since 2008, when over 37,000 died on the road. Sadly, this year is well on its way to “besting” those numbers.

More drivers on the road in 2016

It is believed the more stable the economy and the more affordable gas is, the more people will drive and travel, increasing the possibility of accidents. The Federal Highway Administration says there was a 3.3 percent increase in driving in the first half of 2016 compared to 2015. In fact, drivers set a record 1.58 trillion miles on the road. Average gas prices between January and June were 16 percent lower than the same period in 2015. Historically, fatality numbers tend to dip during economic strife like recessions, oil embargoes and, most recently, during the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007.

Of course, we can attach all the data and trends we want. It does not change the fact that somewhere and someplace in Los Angeles, another family will lose a loved one in an auto accident due to another driver’s mistake. Running a red light, getting behind the wheel under the influence, speeding, texting or falling asleep at the wheel, are all hazards and have left families with immeasurable grief.

Speak with a traffic death attorney Los Angeles trusts

The Salamati Law Firm has met far too many families that regretted not getting in touch with a lawyer sooner rather than later. Insurance companies and lawyers for the other side will play sympathetic and understanding, but their job is to protect their interests. Our skilled Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys will ensure that the responsible parties will face the music to the full extent of the law and that all damages will be taken into account and factored into the compensation your family deserves.

If you have lost a loved one in auto accident as the result of someone’s negligence, give the Salamati Law Firm a call and find out what can be done to hold the responsible accountable. All case reviews are confidential and free of charge.

Resources:

  1. PBS, Traffic deaths up nearly 20 percent since 2014, government says, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/traffic-deaths-injuries-cost-205-billion-far-2016/
  2. NPR, Traffic Deaths In 2015 Climb By Largest Increase In Decades, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/29/491854557/traffic-deaths-climb-by-largest-increase-in-decades
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California Is Expected to Legalize Lane Splitting for Motorcyclists

September 15, 2016 News

Lane splitting, which is the practice of riding a motorcycle between lanes when traffic has stalled, has long been legal

Lane splitting, which is the practice of riding a motorcycle between lanes when traffic has stalled, has long been legal overseas. In the U.S., lane splitting is not considered normal practice, but in California, the practice is in a gray area-neither legal, nor illegal.

Traffic enforcement officers tend to look the other way when motorcyclists ride between lanes, as long as they do so in a safe manner. And in fact, lane splitting is so common that the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) previously released lane splitting guidelines to promote traffic safety. After a petitioner complained that a state agency is not allowed to set policy, the DMV was forced to take down the guidelines. However, lane splitting may soon become legal within California.

The passage of AB 51

AB 51 is the bill that would legalize lane splitting in California. The bill was sponsored by Assembly member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward). It easily passed the assembly with a 69-0 vote. Ahead of the vote, Assembly member Quirk praised the bill for its potential to relieve the notorious traffic congestion that plagues the Southern California area. He also lauded the bill for its potential to improve traffic safety.

Originally, AB 51 would allow lane splitting only if motorcyclists were traveling no more than 15 mph faster than the speed of traffic and no faster than 50 mph. After motorcyclist advocacy groups objected to the language of the bill, this stipulation was removed. The specifics of lane splitting guidelines will be left to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to determine.

“It will give the CHP the authority it needs to educate the drivers and riders of California on the safe guidelines,” said Nicholas Harris in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. Harris is a Western States Representative of the American Motorcyclist Association.

A look at the lane splitting issue

AB 51 still has its detractors, despite its unanimous passage. Critics of lane splitting argue that the practice can increase the risk of catastrophic motorcycle accidents. Of particular concern is the risk of a motorcyclist being struck by a vehicle that is in the process of changing lanes.

However, when lane splitting is done in a safe manner, proponents say it will actually decrease traffic accidents. Motorcyclists are already at a higher risk of injuries in heavy traffic than are motorists, and lane splitting would allow them to limit this risk.

Salamati Law Firm: Your legal advocates

Injured motorcyclists have long turned to the Salamati Law Firm for effective legal advocacy and sound advice. Our personal injury lawyers have established a reputation as being aggressive trial litigators with a track record of multi-million dollar jury awards and settlements.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicular crash, contact our law firm in Los Angeles today at 888-259-4060 to request a complimentary, no-obligation case review.

Resources:

  1. Los Angeles Times, California takes first step to establishing lane-splitting guidelines for motorcyclists, http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-sac-essential-politics-updates-california-to-establish-lane-splitting-1470328822-htmlstory.html
  2. California Motorcyclist Safety Program, Lane Splitting General Guidelines, http://www.ridetowork.org/files/docs/lanesplitting_guidelines.pdf
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AAA Releases Road Debris Accident Study

August 23, 2016 Auto Accidents

More than 200,000 car accidents – including 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths — were attributed to road debris from 2011

Policeman at road accident scene

More than 200,000 car accidents – including 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths — were attributed to road debris from 2011 to 2014, according to a new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Causes included improper road maintenance, unsecured truck loads, faulty tires, and poorly secured or maintained tow trailers. Researchers said ALL of these crashes were preventable.

“Drivers can easily save lives and prevent injuries by securing their loads and taking other simple precautions to prevent items from falling off the vehicle,” said Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a press release. He also urged drivers to keep their vehicles properly maintained to avoid tire blowouts or rusty mufflers from dropping off. Motorists should avoid tailgating, search the road 12-15 seconds ahead for debris, maintain open space on at least one side to steer around objects, and slow down when objects are unavoidable.

How is liability proved in road debris accidents?

Rear-end collisions and accidents occurring during left-hand turns often have very clear liability. If you slam into the back end of a car or hit someone as you are making a turn, you almost always bear at least some of the liability for what happened. It is common knowledge that drivers must leave sufficient space for safely stopping and always be prepared to stop for any reason. It is also common knowledge to yield right of way to vehicles traveling straight through the intersection. Exceptions can be made in rare circumstances, but the hard facts and evidence assembled become crucial to any case, no matter how cut-and-dry it may seem.

How is fault established in road debris accidents?

To prove fault in a road debris accident, attorneys may:

  • Establish that the defendant broke a traffic law. It is illegal in every state to have an item fall off or from your vehicle while it is driving. At least 16 states have made the crime punishable by jail time.
  • Use police reports to validate the facts and provide objective analysis. Police reports will include any citations for drugs or alcohol, as well as traffic law violations.
  • Assemble the evidence into a compelling argument. Pictures from the accident scene establish who hit who when testimonials conflict. Towing records and repair technician notes substantiate property damage claims. Eye-witnesses not immediately involved in what happened sway judge and jury with impartial recollections.

What persons or entities may be responsible for road debris?

Negligence in road debris lawsuits can extend well beyond the driver. In some cases, defendants include:

  • Employers like trucking companies
  • Subcontractors like cargo loaders
  • Construction contractors
  • Auto parts manufacturers, inspectors, or repair technicians
  • Municipalities and governments

How Salamati Law Firm can help

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the specialties at the Salamati Law Firm in Los Angeles, California. We’ve represented some of the toughest litigation possible, winning multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients since 2005. Access to experts and resources is one of the primary benefits in working with an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney.

Medical specialists, accident reconstruction experts, and industry experts who are willing to testify on your behalf carry a good deal of weight in court. We make sure all your paperwork is in order and that every piece of recoverable evidence is used to substantiate your injury claim. Call 888-259-4060 for a free no-obligation consultation.
Resources:

  1. AAA – American Drivers Aren’t Securing Their Loads http://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/08/american-drivers-arent-securing-loads-road/
  2. AAA – Road Debris Report http://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/RoadDebris_REPORT_2015.pdf
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Night Restrictions Aim to Lower Crash Rates Among Teen Drivers

August 11, 2016 News

A growing body of evidence suggests that young, inexperienced drivers have a much greater risk of being involved in fatal

A growing body of evidence suggests that young, inexperienced drivers have a much greater risk of being involved in fatal accidents at night. Though crash risk is higher at night for all motorists, newly licensed teens make up a disproportionate percentage of nighttime accident fatalities. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 percent of motorists aged 16 or 17 involved in deadly traffic accidents during 2009–2014 crashed between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.

Young beautiful black teenage driver holding car keys driving her new car

In an effort to curb crash risks for recently-licensed teenage drivers, states have imposed night driving restrictions (NDR), which go into effect once teens receive their provisional license. These restrictions stipulate the nighttime hours that a teen cannot drive without an adult supervisor, allowing them to gain driving experience in lower risk conditions. Two separate national evaluations demonstrated that NDRs helped to reduce accidents among newly licensed adolescents, with higher success rates associated with restrictions starting at 10:00 p.m. or earlier.

The Salamati Law Firm supports any program or legislation that reduces driver fatalities and injuries. In California and across the nation, teenage drivers are involved in a significant number of distracted driving accidents, many of which occur during nighttime hours when visibility is already compromised. If you or a loved one has had the unfortunate experience of being seriously injured in a crash, we encourage you to reach out for a free legal evaluation. Our attorneys work hard to ensure victims of negligence and reckless behavior are compensated justly for medical expenses, lost income, property damage, emotional suffering and other losses.

Teens more likely to engage in high risk behaviors

State and national data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) points to a number of high risk behaviors common among newly-licensed teens that contribute to heightened crash rates. Drunk driving, speeding, texting while driving, and carrying other teen passengers are a recipe for disaster when driving at night.

Data also shows that states which impose night driving restrictions at 10 p.m. or earlier have lower fatal crash rates compared to those that start at 12:00 am or later. At present, 23 states and the District of Columbia have NDRs that begin at 12:00 a.m. or later. “Because approximately one third of fatal crash involvements by drivers aged 16 or 17 years occur at night, broader implementation of targeted strategies to reduce the risk for these night crashes seems warranted… States could consider updating their NDR coverage to include earlier nighttime hours,” states the CDC report.

According to the national Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, car accidents are the leading cause of death among American teenagers, accounting for almost a third of all deaths of 16-19 year-olds.

Some of the characteristics common to fatal car accidents in this age group include:

  • Speeding
  • Driver error
  • Low rate of seat belt use
  • Alcohol use
  • Night driving
  • Carrying other teen passengers

Effective legal representation in Los Angeles

Graduating licensing provisions and nighttime driving restrictions have proven effective in curbing accident risks among teenage drivers, but their share of overall crash fatalities remains extremely high. Under California law, teens under the age of 18 are subject to provisional restrictions that limit driving hours for their first 12 months. In addition, teen drivers younger than 18 are not permitted to use electronic devices while driving — including “hands-free” mode. If a provisionally licensed teenager causes a car accident in California, the parents may held legally liable for the resulting injuries and losses.

Protect your rights after an accident — contact Salamati Law to discuss your legal options with a skilled car accident lawyer today. Dial 888-259-4060 to set up a complimentary consultation in our Los Angeles office.

Resources:

  1. CDC, Graduated Driver Licensing Night Driving Restrictions and Drivers Aged 16 or 17 Years Involved in Fatal Night Crashes — United States, 2009–2014 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6529a1.htm
  2. SCPR.org, Teen drivers FAQ: What are the rules in California? http://www.scpr.org/news/2014/10/06/47202/teen-driver-faq-what-are-the-rules-for-provisional/
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Is Tesla Liable for Autopilot Crashes?

July 12, 2016 Auto Accidents

On May 7, 2016, 40-year-old Joshua Brown and the car he had christened “Tessy” were traveling on a Florida highway

Indianapolis, US – March 29, 2016: Tesla Motors Store in Indianapolis Selling Electric Cars III

On May 7, 2016, 40-year-old Joshua Brown and the car he had christened “Tessy” were traveling on a Florida highway when a big rig made a left-hand turn in front of the car. Tessy “went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him,” said the truck driver afterward. The car and Brown came to rest about a quarter of a mile down the road when they struck a telephone pole. Media reports later indicated that Brown, a former Navy SEAL and technology consultant, believed in the ability of the autopilot so much that he had brought a portable DVD player into the car with him and was watching a “Harry Potter” movie at the time of the crash.

Brown’s family is grieving their loss, yet is expected to explore the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit against Tesla when the federal inquiry is completed. Through a family spokesperson, the surviving relatives have said that they hope the accident “will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways.”

Should hands-off drivers be held liable?

The key question at the heart of this accident is whether Tesla or the drivers should be held liable for accidents that occur when cars are being “driven” on autopilot. Tesla has vigorously denied liability, stating that the automated technology for braking, lane changing, and steering doesn’t shift liability from the driver to the car company. Other experts have weighed in on the case, suggesting that Tesla might be held liable if it can be determined that the company failed to conduct adequate testing on the system. Reportedly, Brown lost his life because the autopilot system failed to detect the white rig against the bright sky.

Yet, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, has insisted that “The onus is on the pilot to make sure the autopilot is doing the right thing,” and that the autopilot mode is a voluntary feature.

Rosemary Shahan, president of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety lobbying group, vehemently disagrees. She states, “On the one hand, they’re saying trust us, we can drive better than you would, but on the other hand, they are saying if something goes wrong, don’t ask us to stand behind our product. But if it’s controlled by an algorithm, why should you be liable?”

Exercising your legal rights after a crash

Whether an auto accident in Los Angeles was caused by a Tesla malfunction or otherwise, it’s imperative to seek counsel from an experienced Los Angeles auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. Deadlines do apply to filing a claim; if you fail to take action within this period of time, you can forfeit your right to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The Salamati Law Firm has provided effective and compassionate legal advocacy services to Los Angeles residents for 20 years. We’ve recovered million dollar-plus settlements and verdicts for our clients and we work on a contingency basis, which means we never charge a legal fee unless we secure compensation for you. Call our office today at 888-259-4060 for more information. Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers would like to extend an invitation to car and truck accident survivors to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.

Resources:

  1. Los Angeles Times, Tesla’s ‘autopilot mode’ puts it at risk for liability in crashes, http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-tesla-liabilty-20160705-snap-story.html
  2. Slate, The Tesla Autopilot Crash Victim Was Apparently Watching a Movie When He Died, http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/07/01/tesla_autopilot_crash_victim_joshua_brown_was_watching_a_movie_when_he_died.html
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Two Injured in Fiery L.A. Tanker Truck Collision

July 7, 2016 News

In the early morning hours of Monday, June 20, 2016, two men were seriously injured in a three-vehicle collision in

In the early morning hours of Monday, June 20, 2016, two men were seriously injured in a three-vehicle collision in Downtown Los Angeles. At about 3:30 a.m. in the 1500 block of Central Avenue at 16th Street in the vicinity of the entrance to the 10 Freeway, a car ran into a tanker truck which erupted into flames. Another car was also involved in the accident, which was caught on film by the security camera on a nearby building.

Driver trapped by flames

18-wheeler on the highway
18 Wheel Truck on the road during the day. Side view.

The crash occurred when a 22-year-old man driving a gray Honda Accord reportedly sped down 16th Street, headed the wrong direction on the one-way road. He was traveling at about 70 mph when he lost control. The Honda hit a dip in the road and then crashed head-on into the tanker and another car.

The driver of the truck saw the Honda coming and attempted to swerve it out of the way. The truck was carrying carbon monoxide, which is non-flammable and did not present a hazmat threat. The collision did, however, ignite a fire in the truck that quickly engulfed the Honda and also damaged the exterior of a nearby building. Several nearby streets were closed while authorities fought the fire.

Police needed to cut the roof off of the Honda to extract the driver, who was trapped in the fire; a witness tried to help . He was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The 61-year-old truck driver was also hospitalized and listed in fair condition. Early reports were that someone died in the crash but these were later corrected.

Truck crash liability questions

With news of a fiery crash involving a large tanker truck, it is easy to wonder what went wrong. Accidents that involve large commercial trucks can be complicated because they involve state and federal regulations affecting what and how much they can carry, how the loads are secured, and even how long the drivers can remain on the road without a break. They also raise complex ownership and maintenance questions.

However, negligence of other drivers, rather than the truck driver, can ultimately be the cause of a truck crash. Everyone operating a motor vehicle is under a duty to act reasonably and follow traffic laws. If the driver is careless or breaks a safety law and that breach of duty leads to the crash, he may be liable for any injuries or other losses that it causes. The victims may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and funeral expenses if the accident results in a wrongful death.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident, call the Los Angeles car crash lawyers at the Salamati Firm. Our experienced legal team is dedicated to fighting for the rights of accident victims in the greater LA area. We offer a free confidential consultation to help you determine whether filing a lawsuit is right for you and to outline our recommended strategy. For a free case evaluation, call 888-259-4060.

Resources:

  1. ABC7.com, Tanker Truck Bursts Into Flames In Crash Near Downtown LA, http://abc7.com/news/tanker-truck-bursts-into-flames-in-crash-near-dtla;-2-injured/1392911/
  2. Los Angeles Times, Head-on crash triggers tanker truck explosion in downtown L.A., http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-tanker-explosion-downtown-crash-20160620-snap-story.html
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Wrong-Way Crash on 101 Kills Young Man

June 21, 2016 News

In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 4, California Highway Patrol officers were flooded with phone calls reporting a

Policeman at road accident scene

In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 4, California Highway Patrol officers were flooded with phone calls reporting a wrong-way driver on the westbound 101 Freeway. By the time authorities arrived on the scene, the driver had crashed head-on with an oncoming vehicle, and succumbed to life-threatening injuries. The driver, a 25-year old man whose name has yet to be released, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle hit by the wrong-way motorist suffered minor injuries, and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The head-on collision, which occurred just west of Tujunga Avenue, caused serious traffic delays on the 101 for several hours, as crews removed debris. According to ABC 7 News, the name of the deceased is being kept confidential pending notification of the victim’s family.

Law enforcement officials have not yet announced if investigations indicate why the man was driving the wrong way on a busy California freeway. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), though wrong-way collisions rarely occur (accounting for a mere three percent of all traffic accidents on divided highways), they are much more likely to culminate in fatal injuries. In fact, one Virginia study found that the fatality rate was 27 times greater in wrong-way collisions compared to any other type of car accident.

Intoxication a top factor in wrong-way accidents

In light of the growing incidence of wrong-way collisions throughout the nation, the NTSB issued a special investigative report that underscored common characteristics and trends in these accidents. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of wrong way drivers are impaired by alcohol at the time of the crash, as drunk driving remains one of the most common causes (nearly 70 percent) of wrong way crashes.

Other incidences of wrong-way driving can be attributed to reckless behavior or simple negligence, though the NTSB found these factors to be a common thread in wrong-way accidents:

  • Accidents typically occur between 6pm and 6am when visibility is poor
  • Highways lack clear directional markings or have confusing signs
  • Some wrong-way movements involve a driver who inadvertently enters an exit ramp
  • Many wrong-way drivers are elderly or impaired

In California, an average of 23 deaths each year is attributed to wrong-way driving, according to a Caltrans report.

Liability in head-on collisions

This recent 101 Freeway accident highlights the catastrophic ramifications of wrong-way driving and head-on collisions.

Besides wrong way drivers, some of the leading causes of head-on crashes include:

In accidents where a negligent driver operates their vehicle while under the influence, or recklessly drives in the wrong lane, they have clearly endangered the lives of other motorists and may be held liable for ensuing injures and damages. Victims who pursue litigation can hold negligent parties liable for bodily injury, medical expenses, property damage, or death resulting from the crash.

After a serious car accident, it’s important to ally yourself with an experienced car accident attorney in Los Angeles who can identify liable parties and ensure you’re compensated for all damages and losses. Sean Salamati is a veteran litigator with over two decades of experience handling claims stemming from head-on collisions and other types of traffic accidents.

Contact the Salamati Law Firm at 888-259-4060 to schedule a free legal consultation today.

Resources

  1. ABC7 News, 1 DEAD, 1 HOSPITALIZED IN FATAL WRONG-WAY CRASH ON 101 FWY
    http://abc7.com/news/1-dead-1-hospitalized-in-fatal-wrong-way-crash-on-101-fwy/1371442/
  2. ABC10News, Team 10: Wrong-way crashes causing concern on San Diego freeways http://www.10news.com/news/team-10/team-10-wrong-way-crashes-causing-concern-on-san-diego-freeways-020816
  3. NTSB, Highway Special Investigation Report, http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/Documents/SIR1201.pdf
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Study Points To Sixth Sense Protecting Drivers, But Not While Texting

June 3, 2016 News

Over the past few years, studies have revealed that drivers are distracted by all sorts of things, including using a

Woman sending text messages while driving.

Over the past few years, studies have revealed that drivers are distracted by all sorts of things, including using a dashboard GPS and talking solely hands-free on a cell phone. But a recent study from the University of Houston and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute has shown that not all distractions are created equal. In fact, texting is among the most dangerous.

The study compared the driving of 59 volunteers as they faced three common sets of distractions. Each driver maneuvered the same stretch of highway in each of four states:

  • In a normal alert state
  • Under distraction by cognitively challenging questions
  • Under distraction by emotionally charged questions
  • While actively texting

The results showed that each type of distraction affected the driver’s performance, but also found that a type of sixth sense protected the drivers when they were not texting.

Any distraction can impact driving but the brain can sometimes correct

The volunteers’ performance was clearly impacted in the face of each distraction, with their steering becoming “jittery”. However, when they were distracted by questions, whether cognition-based or emotion-based, their driving was actually straighter. But while texting, the distraction led them to veer into other lanes.

According to the scientists conducting the study, the phenomenon is related to the brain’s “fight or flight response” – this leads the body to respond with jittery operation. But a portion of the brain, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), steps into action to counterbalance the jitters with alternate moves in the opposite direction, leading the vehicle on an ultra-straight path.

The key to the ACC’s correction mechanism is eyesight. The function relies on the driver’s eye-hand coordination, but that connection is broken when the driver looks away from the road to send or read a message. Those conducting the study referred to this as a sort of sixth sense that protects the drivers from danger while distracted, but this sense is cut short while texting.

Texting while driving is illegal in California

Distractions like texting while driving have an enormous impact on the road. It is estimated that 80 percent of vehicle crashes involve some sort of driver distraction. Across the country, up to 3000 people a year are killed in crash in crashes involving driver distractions. To curb these numbers, in 2008 California banned using a cell phone while driving and a year later specifically banned texting while driving. The base price of a ticket for texting is only $20 but counties add on fees so a texting violation in Los Angeles costs over $160.

A traffic ticket is only the beginning of the story. When a driver fails to operate a vehicle safely and does harm to others on the road, the victims may be entitled to compensation that can include reimbursement for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.

Los Angeles car crash attorneys

An all too common bad decision – to send text messages while driving – leads to deaths and injuries around the country every single day. If you have been the victim of one of these distracted drivers, that fateful moment may leave years of medical and financial battles. Under the law, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. The California car crash lawyers at the Salamati Law Firm represent personal injury victims throughout Los Angeles County. For a free consultation, call 888-259-4060.

Resources:

  1. University of Houston, A Sixth Sense Protects Drivers Except When Texting, http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2016/May/051216PavlidisTextingStudy.php
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