Monthly Archives: January 2014

2013 was deadliest year of past 7 for San Francisco pedestrians

As the post title says, 2013 was not a good year for pedestrian safety in San Francisco. The number of fatal accidents that occurred in those 12 months made it the deadliest year in the past seven for pedestrians. December was particularly bad, with seven total pedestrian fatalities.

Even though it is the pedestrian that most often suffers the fatal injuries in an auto-pedestrian collision, it is often the driver that is found to be at fault in causing it. Behaviors such as speeding, running a red light or failing to stop before the crosswalk limit lines are some of the common causes of these types of accidents — and the basis for a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Sadly, it can be easy for drivers to fail to grasp the seriousness of these types of negligent driving behaviors. Not every instance of speeding or every stop sign that is run results in an accident. Causing a serious or fatal accident could quickly put these risks into perspective, but San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr doesn’t want this to be way that the lesson is learned.

Instead, Chief Suhr hopes to deter drivers from committing traffic violations that put pedestrians at risk by increasing the enforcement of these laws. He announced on Thursday, Jan. 16, that he intends to up the amount of citations that the department hands out for these violations.

As an example of the seriousness of the campaign, he noted that in one day, the department had already issued 40 citations at a single intersection known as a dangerous one for pedestrians and bicyclists. “You will see more of that kind of enforcement,” he warned drivers.

Source: SF Gate, “S.F. police chief vows change in light of pedestrian deaths,” Michael Cabanatuan, Jan. 17, 2014

Improperly secured lid causes California woman’s burn injuries

Approximately 20 years ago, there was a personal injury lawsuit that caught national attention, drawing varied reactions. Many people still remember the basic details about the burn injury lawsuit. The party that was injured in this case was a woman who had purchased coffee that proved to be excessively hot at a McDonald’s restaurant. The coffee spilled into her lap, leaving her with very serious burns.

The jury determined in that case that the woman was entitled to damages for the third-degree burn injuries that were caused and the skin graft procedures that were required to treat the injury. Eventually, the case was brought to a final close in a settlement out of court. That lawsuit was put to rest several years ago, but a similar incident recently occurred in Los Angeles, California.

Similarities in this case include the fact that it was a woman who was seriously burned by scalding hot coffee served at a local McDonald’s restaurant. According to the complaint, the woman was injured on Jan. 12, 2012.

The issue in this case was not based soley on the temperature of the coffee. Instead, negligence was alleged in that the drive-through restaurant employee failed to properly secure the lid on the coffee cup. Then, when the cup was passed into the vehicle, the improperly secured lid fell off, causing the liquid to burn the woman.

The injuries in this case were not described in detail, but as the original lawsuit showed, scalding hot liquid can cause severe injuries. It is important to remember that media coverage is often limited in these cases, and the “facts” that are presented have not met the standard of admissibility required in a court of law. A California personal injury lawyer ensures that the jury hears all of the necessary details to make a fair ruling in a case.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “L.A. woman sues McDonald’s over hot coffee, 20 years after huge verdict,” Stuart Pfeifer, Jan. 9, 2014

Breastfeeding mixup poses serious risks to newborn child

In August, parents in California were told that another woman had breastfed their premature baby boy. It was an accident that was caused when a nurse brought the newborn to the wrong mother. Only a few months later, another report surfaced involving a similar baby mix-up in Texas.

The thought that someone else provided milk to your child could leave any mother in shock, but this type of situation poses a far greater risk than that. A woman could pass diseases or infection onto a newborn baby that doesn’t yet have the ability to fight them.

In the most recent case from Texas, tests taken to discover any disease that could have been transferred have proved negative, having thus far not raised a serious health issue. However, the long-term consequences still remain unknown.

The hospital in which the mistake occurred has taken corrective steps, including conducting an internal investigation and terminating the nurse responsible for the baby’s care.

For the California couple mentioned above, their boy has serious allergies that they believe could have been the result of the switch. In another case from 2012, the family was concerned that their child could have developed HIV or hepatitis, diseases that could have been passed from the other woman.

Having a baby is supposed to be the happiest time in a mother’s life. Constant worry comes with the job, but it shouldn’t be the result of medical malpractice. When a child suffers an injury from medical negligence such as this one, those in San Francisco have the right to seek recompense for damage that has been caused.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Parents Horrified After Hospital Mixup Allows Their Baby To Be Breastfed By Stranger,” Jan. 11, 2014

Do California cyclists need more protection than a bike lane?

Bike lanes were created to provide cyclists with a safe place on the roads, away from the congestion of pedestrian traffic but separate from vehicles. The lanes can work when everyone is doing what they are supposed to, following the laws of the road. But what happens when just one individual’s actions fall below these standards? In most cases, it is the cyclist that suffers a brain injury, spinal cord damage or other serious trauma.

Advocates for bicycle safety argue that in some cases, the repercussions for drivers that put cyclists at risk are simply too meager. There are seemingly endless stories of cyclists that are involved in near-miss accidents, injured or even killed by a driver that violates a traffic law. In many of these cases, a driver walks away with only a minimal fine for a minor traffic violation.

“I think the bottom line is just personal responsibility for your actions,” said the wife of a cyclist killed in a California accident. “Especially when you kill someone.” The truth is that a lot of these cases involve a person that never meant to hurt another, never meant to get in an accident at all. Yet, their actions change the lives of victims and their families forever.

The husband mentioned above was killed by a driver that had crossed the center lane and forced another vehicle into the bike lane in which he was travelling. Although there is a question as to whether distracted driving was involved, police suspect that the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel. It wasn’t a case in which police immediately filed charges, nor may any ever be filed.

A personal lawsuit can pick up where the criminal court leaves off in California. Negligence includes those reckless and careless actions that don’t rise to a criminal level and yet cause some of the most horrific damages. The verdicts or settlements in this case are about addressing the harm caused to the victim.

Source:, “The Failure of ‘Share the Road’,” Georgia Perry, Jan. 7, 2014

CHP says 280 pedestrian fatal will require major probe

A mysterious pedestrian fatality on Interstate 280 in Daly City this morning has the California Highway Patrol turning to the public for help. There are questions about who the man might have been and why he appeared to be scrambling to get away on foot when he was struck and killed.

Officials say they believe the man was hit more than once by motorists, but so far only one driver has come forward with an admission of involvement in this odd pedestrian accident case. They are asking anyone who might have struck the man to come forward, offering assurances that they aren’t necessarily in trouble.

That said, it would seem advisable for anyone thinking of responding to the appeal to contact an attorney before doing so to be sure their rights are protected.

The bizarre events of this case began to unfold around 5:30 a.m. Officials say an SUV and a small sedan collided. The female driver of the car apparently wasn’t hurt badly, but was hospitalized as a precaution.

The driver of the SUV apparently escaped unharmed, too, but officials say he also apparently tried to flee the scene. They say he ran across the northbound lanes of the freeway twice without any incident. He reportedly then jumped the center divider and was trying to cross the southbound lanes when he was struck by several cars and killed.

Officials say they haven’t concluded that the man had done anything illegal, but they do note that the license in his wallet was not his and may have been stolen. They also say that the SUV was not reported as being stolen, but the registration in the vehicle doesn’t match the license found on the victim. Equally mysterious, officials say, is that they found a small caliber rifle and a BB gun in the SUV.

It should be interesting to see how this case gets resolved.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, “CHP: Man killed on Interstate 280 was fleeing Daly City crash,” Erin Ivie, Jan 3, 2014

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