Deadly Big Rig Hit and Run Accident Driver On the Run

May 20, 2016 News

Fleeing the scene of a crash is illegal in California, but unfortunately, that doesn’t stop negligent drivers from doing it

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

Fleeing the scene of a crash is illegal in California, but unfortunately, that doesn’t stop negligent drivers from doing it anyway. Usually, hit and run drivers are operators of passenger vehicles, but one big rig driver recently attempted to flee legal repercussions by unhitching the trailer and taking off in the cab. The 18-wheeler crushed a pickup truck in Vernon, CA on April 30, 2016. The crash happened during the early morning hours. The trucker has yet to be identified, but the Vernon Police Department has identified a person of interest whom they believe may have vital information pertaining to the crash.

Person of interest identified

The person of interest has been identified as Guillermo Ortiz Jr. He has been described as a Latino male who is in his 20s. He has not been identified as the truck driver. “He’s got information that we believe will be helpful with our investigation at this point, so we’re asking that he come forward and contact us,” said Detective Sgt. Brandon Gray of the Vernon Police Department. Gray went on to note that Ortiz is believed to be from out of state.

Pickup truck victims

Before the fatal crash occurred, the driver of the big rig is believed to have been involved in another hit and run crash. Police say that the trucker was involved in a minor crash in the area of Soto and 37th Street. Upon allegedly fleeing the scene of that crash, the trucker allegedly ran a red light at the intersection of 37th Street and Santa Fe Avenue. At that point, the big rig allegedly struck a Chevrolet pickup truck. The passenger was identified as 28-year-old Armando Murillo, a resident of Pacoima. Murillo was pronounced dead at the scene. Vernon firefighters had to use power tools to free the trapped driver of the pickup truck, which was flattened underneath the big rig. The driver, who has not been identified, was transported to a nearby hospital with minor injuries and is expected to survive.

Establishing liability in truck accident cases

In the event that the victims or family members of the victims of a truck accident decide to consult a lawyer about the crash, one of the first steps the lawyer will take is to try to establish liability. Liability simply means that a party is held responsible for the damages. In truck accident cases, driver error, including driver fatigue, is most often to blame for the crash. In cases that involve a hit and run, the truck driver is likely to face criminal charges, perhaps in addition to a civil lawsuit.

However, a truck accident lawsuit can identify more than one defendant. A personal injury lawyer might name the trucking company as a defendant, perhaps for failing to properly screen its employees or contractors and failing to implement sufficient training protocols.

For effective, compassionate legal advocacy services you can count on, turn to the personal injury attorneys at the Salamati Firm. Our lawyers offer complimentary, no-obligation case reviews to victims of truck accidents and other types of motor vehicle accidents. Families in the greater Los Angeles area can call 888-259-4060 to claim a free consultation.


  1. CBS News, Big-rig driver flees after deadly pickup truck crash,
  2. KTLA 5, ‘Person of Interest’ Sought After Vernon Hit-and-Run Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Injured: Police,
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Children May Suffer Long-Term Effects from Even Mild TBI

May 5, 2016 Personal Injury Lawsuits

Even mild brain trauma may leave a life-long impact on a child. According to a study published earlier this year

Even mild brain trauma may leave a life-long impact on a child. According to a study published earlier this year in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, the effects may impact learning and behavior longer than was originally understood.

Study followed children with TBIs for a decade

The JAMA study was published in late February after researchers from Ohio and Canada spent nearly a decade studying kids throughout the American Midwest. The children they followed enrolled in the study between January 2003 and October 2006, and the researchers completed their follow-ups from January 2010 to April 2015. The 130 participating children were studied in their homes, schools, and hospitals.

Of the participating children, just under half – 58 – had suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The remaining children – 72 – had undergone a broken bone or other orthopedic injury. The study compared the two groups to determine how a TBI affected behavioral and academic outcome.

Mild TBIs leave lasting impression

It does not take a severe TBI to make a serious impact on a child’s development. The researchers found that even with a mild TBI, children were twice as likely as the orthopedic injury group to suffer impairments in school. The researchers found more noticeable functional injuries among children with TBI who came from three types of home settings:

  • Permissive parenting
  • Authoritarian parenting
  • Few home resources

The significant long-term effects of even a mild TBI on a developing child underscores the need to protect young people from any type of head injury. It also indicates that in a healthy parenting environment, children may functionally recover from an early brain injury.

Litigating brain injuries in children

There is no everyday brain injury; they can arise in any context from recreation like sports to daily activities like driving to school, to slip and fall accidents or playground injuries. TBIs range in severity from the relatively mild concussion to serious physical trauma. The recent research provides a lesson in the long-term impact of even the seemingly minor injuries.

When a child suffers a head injury, there may be a party at fault whose negligence contributed to it. Some common examples are parties who own or are responsible for the location where the injury occurred or were responsible for looking after the child. These can include:

  • Daycare supervisors
  • Schools
  • Operators or maintainers of playground equipment
  • Youth sports leagues
  • Other property owners or managers

Establishing negligence in this type of case generally requires showing that:

  • The defendant had a duty to be careful toward the child
  • The defendant breached the duty of care
  • The child suffered an injury or other loss that is recognized by the law
  • The defendant’s breach cause the child’s injuries

Proving these elements often requires both experienced legal eyes and expert medical consultation.

If you are the parent or guardian of a child who has suffered a head injury and you suspect someone else is at fault, the Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at the Salamati Law Firm will help you understand your rights. For a free case evaluation, call 888-259-4060.


  1. JAMA Pediatrics, Social Environment Moderators of Long-term Functional Outcomes of Early Childhood Brain Injury,
  2. Brain Injury Association of America, Brain Injury in Children,
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Numbers of Pedestrian Deaths in CA and Nationwide Climb

April 26, 2016 Pedestrian Accident Injuries

In California and elsewhere throughout the country, being a pedestrian is dangerous. A recent government report reveals that while traffic

Pedestrian AccidentsIn California and elsewhere throughout the country, being a pedestrian is dangerous. A recent government report reveals that while traffic fatalities have decreased, pedestrian deaths have risen. The swing marks pedestrians as the most at-risk group in traffic accidents over the past quarter century.

The source is the 2015 preliminary report Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, released by The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The GHSA collected information across the nation and Washington DC over the first six months of 2015. California topped the list with 347 fatalities in the first half of 2015. There was an increase of 24 California pedestrian deaths, about 7%, in the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014.

Campaign to walk may increase fatalities

Many states, including California, have poured resources into promoting walking as a mode of transportation. Advocates stress that walking is good for health, reduces traffic, does not cost anything, and reduces pollution. However, there are a number of hazards that can make walking as transportation especially dangerous. The GHSA report found major contributions to pedestrian fatalities to include:

  • Distractions from cell phones and other mobile devices
  • Alcohol
  • Evening and night time hours
  • Crossing the street where there is no intersection

Who is liable in a pedestrian accident?

Blame is not always clear-cut when a car strikes a pedestrian. More than 70% of the fatalities occur when a pedestrian is crossing outside a crosswalk. More than a third involve alcohol. The driver may have been speeding. Sometimes physics experts are needed to explain how exactly an accident happened. To complicate matters further, an at-fault driver may not own the car he was driving, bringing other parties, and often, additional insurance companies, into the mix.

The key will be determining whether each party acted reasonably. A driver is under a duty to operate the vehicle in accordance with traffic laws and in a way that does not harm others. Pedestrian are under a duty to be careful, including being aware of what is going on around them.

When a party is found liable, the victims or their families may be entitled to compensation that includes:

  • Reimbursement for past and future medical expenses
  • Related costs such as therapy or rehabilitation
  • Compensation for emotional distress or pain and suffering
  • Lost income
  • In fatal cases, funeral costs

California personal injury claims

Sometimes personal injury victims worry about the litigation process and the prospect of going to trial. Very few civil cases go to trial because the civil litigation process encourages the parties to settle before that point. State insurance laws mean that in most cases, the at-fault parties are insured and the insurance companies will step in to negotiate the case. These are the kinds of things that experienced Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyers look at with a trained eye.

If you have been injured in a car or pedestrian accident, the Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at The Salamati Firm will help you protect your rights. Call 888-259-4060, any time day or night, for a free case evaluation.


  1. California Courts, Statute of Limitations,
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Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Take the Pledge to Drive Safely

April 20, 2016 Auto Accidents

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and attorneys at Salamati Law want to bring attention to the very real dangers of

Woman sending text messages while driving.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and attorneys at Salamati Law want to bring attention to the very real dangers of this deadly epidemic that claims thousands of lives every year. At any given moment, some 660,000 drivers in the United States are using handheld electronic devices or talking on their cell phones while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, statistics show that the problem of accidents due to distracted driving has only worsened in recent years, as more teenagers admit to sending SnapChats or texting while driving – activities that take their eyes off the road for an astounding five seconds.

In conjunction with the National Safety Council, our legal team hopes to raise awareness of this sweeping epidemic, in an effort to improve roadway safety and keep one less person from becoming another statistic in Los Angeles.

Distracted driving in California

Through educational campaigns, the National Safety Council hopes to empower Americans to take control of their safety while driving. However, recent research from UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center does not hold promising news for California drivers. According to the study, cell phone use while driving has increased by 39 percent since 2014. The results may be disturbing, but certainly not surprising given the widespread use of smartphones and apps.

During last year’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, California law enforcement officers ticketed nearly 50,000 motorists who were using cell phones while driving. That figure is almost double the number of tickets issued over an average month.

Educational campaigns can impart positive changes, but these changes can take years, cautions Chris Cochran, a spokesperson for the Office of Traffic Safety. Meanwhile, advanced technology and a slew of new apps have created a smartphone-addicted society; and cell phones are considered the number one leading distraction.

Take the pledge to drive safely

This month, authorities ask motorists to take the pledge to “Take Back My Drive” for the safety of themselves, their passengers and bystanders.

For the next 30 days, motorists are asked to refrain from the following while driving:

  • Sending SnapChats or texts
  • Taking videos or selfies
  • Checking or sending emails
  • Updating social media status
  • Talking on their cell phone – whether hands-free or handheld
  • Using voice-to-text features
  • Manually inputting GPS info while the vehicle is moving
  • Messaging or calling someone that you know is driving

Remember that distracting activities encompass much more than using a cell phone or handheld gadget. Talking to a passenger, eating, brushing your hair, or adjusting music can also divert your attention away from the task at hand.

Legal advocacy in Los Angeles

California’s ban on texting while driving and using handheld wireless phones highlights the real danger posed by distracted drivers. Any accidents or property damage resulting from a distracted driver may form the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.

At The Salamati Law Firm, our veteran Los Angeles car accident attorneys will do everything in our power to hold distracted drivers accountable for the injuries and financial losses they cause. If you or a loved one has been harmed, we encourage you to reach out for a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal options. We always fight for maximum compensation allowed under California law.

Call our office toll-free at 888-259-4060 to arrange a private, no-obligation consultation.

For more information on Distracted Driving follow these links:

  1. 7 Apps That Prevent Distracted Driving and Texting
  2. Disturbing Statistics on Distracted Driving in California


  1. The Mercury News, California’s distracted drivers more common this year, state says
  2. National Safety Council, April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
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Hit and Run Crash in South Gate Kills Two

April 14, 2016 News

A teenage girl and a 55-year-old man were identified as the two victims killed in a hit-and-run crash in South

Firefighter and paramedics taking victim out of crashed car

A teenage girl and a 55-year-old man were identified as the two victims killed in a hit-and-run crash in South Gate that left at least five others with serious injuries, confirms the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. Officials say that three of those harmed were listed in critical condition.

Police were alerted to the accident on Garfield Avenue, close to El Paseo Street, on March 26 around 4:30 p.m. The deceased – later identified as Angie Ruiz and Lester Larios of Bell — and the injured were riding in a Mitsubishi which was making a left turn on South Garfield Avenue into the Shopping Center. Both Ruiz and Larios were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the LA County Fire Department, while the injured were transported to an area hospital.

Vehicle T-boned by Mercedes

The accident happened when the Mitsubishi Galant was turning into the Town Center Plaza shopping plaza, and was T-boned by a beige Mercedes-Benz. Aaron Ponce who witnessed the horrific scene told police that the driver of the Mercedes was “was driving fast.” Police report that the driver of the Galant and a passenger fled the scene, but authorities were able to locate the passenger.

While excessive speed was the likely culprit in the collision, the South Gate Police Department reports that the two-vehicle accident is still under investigation. Police are hoping to locate some video footage of the crash to help piece together the sequence of events.

Authorities are currently looking for Bryan Rojas, 22, in connection with the fatal hit and run. Rojas, who is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall and Hispanic, is the suspected driver in the crash. He suffered a forehead injury in the accident and was last seen with a visible mark on his head. South Gate authorities are asking anyone who witnessed the accident or has information to please contact the police.

Liability issues in hit and run accidents

There are two kinds of hit and run offenses in California — misdemeanor and felony. Drivers may face charges of a misdemeanor hit and run under the following circumstances:

  • They leave the scene of the crash
  • Property damage resulted from the accident
  • They left the accident without providing identifying information to all involved parties

A felony hit and run is centered upon personal injury rather than property damage. Motorists may face felony charges if the hit and run accident caused another person to suffer serious injury or death. A criminal conviction may also serve as additional evidence in a civil claim, in which the plaintiffs may sue to recover for past and future medical expenses, lost income, loss of consortium, emotional distress, and other specific damages in the event of a death.

In some hit and run accidents, the driver flees the scene because of pending legal charges, intoxication, or lack of insurance or a driver’s license. Regardless of the cause, these types of crashes call for extensive knowledge of laws pertaining to uninsured and underinsured motorists in California.

At The Salamati Law Firm, our legal team specializes in personal injury law and achieving maximum recovery in car accident claims. Protect your rights in the wake of a hit and run by enlisting a Los Angeles car accident attorney who gets results every time. Schedule a free consultation with Sean F. Salamati by calling 888-259-4060. We don’t collect a dime unless we secure compensation for your personal injury claim.


  1. LosAngelesCBSLocal, 2 Dead, 3 Critically Injured In 2-Vehicle Crash, Hit-And-Run In South Gate
  2. LA Times, 15-year-old girl one of two victims named in South Gate hit-and-run,
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Risky Driver Behaviors that Lead to Accidents

March 30, 2016 Auto Accidents

In 2014, more than 3,000 Americans were killed in distracted driving accidents. Federal estimates have put the death toll closer

Woman sending text messages while driving.

In 2014, more than 3,000 Americans were killed in distracted driving accidents. Federal estimates have put the death toll closer to 5,000 last year. The wide-scale ramifications of this dangerous epidemic have prompted numerous studies on the types of behaviors that put motorists at greatest risk, from using cell phones to grooming or simply reaching for an object.

The findings from a recent report put out by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers show that some types of activities are more dangerous than others. The research is noteworthy as it’s the first driving study using large-scale, crash-only naturalistic data from 3,500 participants across the United States.

A Study looks at 1,600 verified crash events

Their report – the first ever of its kind in the States – was based on results from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study, which gave a first-hand glimpse at real-world driving behavior. All of the voluntary participants agreed to have their vehicles armed with sensors, cameras and radar equipment that collected hard data on driver behavior and performance.

The data showed that certain types of distractions, such as following a vehicle too closely, interacting with a child in the car, or applying makeup were not as risky as previously thought, since none of the activities featured prominently in the moments before accidents. 

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that 90 percent of the 1,600 crashes involved driver-related factors including drowsiness, impairment and errors. Another distraction that the study noted was the influence of driving while sad, angry or in another type of emotionally agitated state. The data indicated that driving while emotionally charged increased the risk of crashing nearly 10-fold.

Other factors that affect accident risk include slamming on the brakes too quickly or traveling in an unknown vehicle or roadway. Lastly, excessive speeding poses a 13-fold risk of getting into an accident.

“All of these findings are especially important as we work with policymakers, educators, drivers themselves, law enforcement officials, and vehicle designers to define and help mitigate driver risks,” said Virginia Tech Transportation Institute director Tom Dingus, who led the study.

Victims of distracted drivers have legal rights

Motorists who talk on the phone, use a touchscreen, eat or text while driving put others on the road at great risk for serious personal injury, or even death. California, like other states across the country, affords legal remedies to those who have been injured or suffered property damage caused by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver. Many of these preventable accidents resolve through the court system, allowing victims to pursue fair compensation for all related medical costs, lost income, emotional pain and suffering, and other damages. However, distracted driving victims must pursue a personal injury lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitation, which places a time limit on filing claims.

If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to see if litigation is the right course of action. The Salamati Law firm extends free consultations to anyone who wishes to explore their legal options with a skilled Los Angeles car accident lawyer.

Call us anytime, 24 hours a day at 888-259-4060 to discuss your rights to compensation.

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Can New Road Safety Measures Stop Rising Crash Death Toll?

March 15, 2016 Auto Accidents

Statistics indicate that fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents are rising across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Statistics indicate that fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents are rising across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is constantly exploring methods of reducing crash rates and improving transportation safety. The NHTSA recently concluded a series of regional workshops designed to promote “evidence-based” behavioral changes in traffic safety settings.

The summits included a diverse set of participants including advocacy groups, public health and safety experts, academic leaders, traffic safety personnel from state government, and other federal organizations.

The primary workshop goals included:

  • Discussing untested strategies and identifying long-term solutions to eliminate traffic fatalities
  • Exploring how evidence-based behavior change approaches can be implemented in broader policy discussions
  • Analyzing different approaches to changing driving behaviors

U.S. traffic deaths increasing

NHTSA officials see a number of red flags across the country and say now is the time to push “behavioral changes in traffic safety.” In addition to launching new initiatives, NHTSA administrators want to deal with persistent problems that claim thousands of lives every year. On their list of topics were fatigued and distracted driving, drunk driving and a failure to wear seat belts or use child safety seats, as well as pedestrian and cyclist safety.

The agency reports that traffic deaths in the United States are up almost 10 percent after years of steady decline. Between January and September of 2015, an estimated 26,000 individuals died in vehicle accidents. While each state had varying rates of traffic accident deaths, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Montana saw the biggest jump in fatalities at 20 percent.

The 2016 summits featured five separate workshops and concluded at the U.S. DOT headquarters in Washington D.C. last March. Transportation officials remain hopeful that the collaborative efforts will lead to productive changes and improvements in transportation safety.

Negligent driving and legal recourse

Nearly 95 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by human errors, according to government data. When driving behavior is deemed negligent or reckless, victims may have the right to sue for monetary compensation. A car accident lawyer in Los Angeles can help you recover damages for:

  • Lost income
  • All related medical expenses
  • Reduced capacity to earn
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional distress
  • Plus other losses

California has strict laws that ban texting and all cell phone use while driving; drivers who ignore these rules and cause injury or death can be held accountable in court. If a car or truck accident is caused by a driver who is impaired by lack of sleep or drug/alcohol abuse, the victim may also be eligible for legal relief that can help offset the financial burdens of serious personal injury and extended time off of work. More catastrophic accidents that claim lives may warrant a wrongful death claim, which can be brought by surviving family members.

Car accident claims are not always cut and dry when it comes to liability issues, and insurance companies are only looking out for their own bottom line. The smartest way to ensure your rights are protected is to ally with an experienced law firm with a proven track record of success.

The Salamati Law Firm offers effective personal injury legal representation in Los Angeles and throughout southern California. For a free, no-obligation case review, please call 888-259-4060.


  1. NHTSA, Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety
  2. The Sacramento Bee, Traffic deaths climbing in California – Is there a fix?
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NHTSA Reports Increased Roadway Deaths in 2015

March 1, 2016 News

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities on American roadways have been slowly dropping

Policeman at road accident scene

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities on American roadways have been slowly dropping over the past several years. However, last year was something of an anomaly: during the first nine months of 2015, the agency logged more than 26,000 traffic deaths – marking a 9.3 spike over the previous year.

NHTSA administrators say the roadway fatality figures are red flags that need to be taken seriously before more preventable crashes occur. “It’s time to drive behavioral changes in traffic safety and that means taking on new initiatives and addressing persistent issues like drunk driving and failure to wear seat belts,” said agency official Dr. Mark Rosekind in a recent press release.

The numbers were released just as the NHTSA launched a series of regional conferences across the country to evaluate and discuss traffic safety initiatives, programs and solutions. Their most recent summit was held in Atlanta, Georgia on February 23.

Research shows human factors cause most car accidents

Not surprisingly, decades of NHTSA data suggests that human factors are the reason behind the majority of motor vehicle and truck accidents in the States, accounting for more than 94 percent of all crashes.

The NHTSA summits are designed to stimulate dialogue regarding new strategies on driving behavioral changes in traffic safety. Some of the issues being addressed include continuing problems with

  • Distracted driving and cell phone use behind the wheel
  • Drowsy driving
  • Drugged and drunk driving

Highway safety professionals will also discuss better initiatives to protect those who are most vulnerable to car accident injuries, including pedestrians and cyclists, in addition to ways to promote the use of child seats and seat belts.

Furthermore, the NHTSA regional conferences will be examining innovations and methods to discourage unsafe driving behaviors, while looking at other proven behavior change tactics (from other non-traffic disciplines) that can be applied to national programs and countermeasures.

Traffic fatalities in California up 3 percent

The 2015 statistics were collected from all states and reflect regional differences for traffic-related deaths. California and Arizona had a modest 3 percent uptick in roadway fatalities compared to 2014, whereas states like Washington, Oregon and Montana reported a whopping 20 percent increase in deaths.

Though California had only a slight increase in traffic deaths compared to other regions, Los Angeles continues to make headlines as one of the most dangerous cities for motorists and pedestrians. Crosswalk accidents, pedestrian-knock downs and drunk driving accidents claim the lives of hundreds each year in the greater LA metropolitan area.

In circumstances where poor judgement, alcohol consumption, excessive fatigue or blatant negligence causes serious personal injury or death, victims and their loved ones may be entitled to compensation through the courts.

To discuss your case with a practiced Los Angeles personal injury attorney free of charge or obligation, contact The Salamati Law Firm at 888-259-4060. We work hard to maximize the value of your claim and obtain damages for medical bills, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and emotional suffering and other losses.


  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. DOT announces steep increase in roadway deaths based on 2015 early estimates and convenes first regional summit to drive traffic safety behavior changes
  2. NHTSA, Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Nine Months (Jan–Sep) of 2015
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