Monthly Archives: October 2014

California bike accident draws attention to 3-feet law

California residents may be aware of the requirement to allow 3 feet of clearance when passing a bicycle, but in a recent Coachella Valley incident, an investigator drew attention to the need for further education on the matter. According to a member of a cycling group, the investigator in the case did not cite the woman who hit another cyclist in his group.

The law was passed to reduce the potential for bicycle accidents by establishing the requirement that motorists allow 3 feet of clearance between the vehicle and a bicycle when travel is in the same direction. The law has been highlighted by the bicycling community through the development of websites and apparel with messages and logos emphasizing safety concerns when the road is shared by both automobiles and bicycles. In this particular incident, members of the group expressed that the lack of awareness by officers undermines the confidence and sense of safety intended by the legislation.

A representative of the sheriff’s office did not comment on the incident but noted that officers are continually informed of current legislation and issues. Cyclists indicate that there is hope that this incident will prompt better education efforts for both officers and motorists. An individual injured in a cycling accident in which a vehicle has not given sufficient clearance might find that legal action is warranted to address pain, suffering and other damages experienced due to the incident.

In filing a claim, a plaintiff is not dependent on the citing of a motorist or on any criminal action in the case to prove the motorist’s fault. Although such issues could add credence to a personal injury claim, a lawyer can demonstrate a motorist’s responsibility for a client’s injuries without these factors.

Source: KESQ, “Three-feet law gaining attention after accident“, Angelo Caruso, October 23, 2014

Understanding spinal cord injuries

California residents may benefit from reviewing some of the information available on the Spinal Cord Injury Fact Sheet produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Spinal cord injuries may be caused by suffering damage to the neck, upper and middle back, or lower back. Because the spinal cord is responsible for transmitting signals from the brain, any damage to the spine could result in significant permanent or temporary neurological damage.

According to the CDC, approximately 200,000 people with spinal cord injuries are currently living in the United States. Researchers estimate there to be 12,000 to 20,000 new cases every year. The CDC also claims that alcohol is a contributing factor in about 25 percent of all spinal cord injuries. Some of the long-term psychological complications that may result from these injuries include anxiety and depression. Spinal cord injuries can also adversely affect gastrointestinal, urinary, respiratory and musculoskeletal body systems.

On average, these injuries may cost patients between $15,000 and $30,000 each year. Depending on the severity of the injuries, these costs can amount to $500,000 to $3 million during a patient’s lifetime. The CDC estimates that 46 percent are caused by motor vehicle accidents and that 22 percent are caused by falls. Violent incidents causes 16 percent of the injuries and sports constitute the remaining 12 percent. Approximately 50 to 70 percent of all spinal cord injury patients are 15 to 35 years old.

People who have suffered a spinal cord injury caused by another person’s actions or inaction may be entitled to obtain restitution to help offset the damages. Plaintiffs in these cases are often entitled to recover restitution that can account for medical expenses, loss of income, ongoing healthcare and other related hardships. In order to receive an award thorough civil action, lawyers may need to prove that the defendant is liable for the ensuing damages.

Source: CDC, “Spinal Cord Injury (SCI): Fact Sheet “, October 17, 2014

Determining the likelihood of a pedestrian being hurt by a car

In California, pedestrians made up 14 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2012. Overall, 4,743 pedestrians died, which was slightly higher than in 2011. However, the percentage of pedestrian fatalities remained the same due to a slight increase in overall traffic fatalities from 2011 to 2012. Of pedestrians who were killed, 73 percent were killed on urban roads, and only 20 percent were killed as a result of a crash at an intersection.

In 2012, 89 percent of pedestrians who died in traffic accidents were killed in accidents that took place in clear or cloudy weather. Only 9 percent were killed in accidents where snowy or rainy conditions were reported at the time of the crash. An additional 1 percent of accidents took place when foggy conditions were reported. These numbers were identical to statistics for crashes involving pedestrians in 2011.

The majority of accidents in which a pedestrian was killed took place at night and involved an older person. Pedestrians who were over the age of 45 were more likely to be killed in an accident compared to younger people. Those who were over the age of 65 made up 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities despite being only 14 percent of the population in 2012.

Pedestrians who are hurt in a car accident may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident. The families of pedestrians who are killed may have the ability to file a wrongful death suit. In either case, the driver who caused the crash may be held financially liable for medical bills incurred or the final expenses of a pedestrian. An attorney may be able to help those who wish to take legal action against a potentially negligent driver.

Source: NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, “Traffic Safety Facts Pedestrians“, October 14, 2014

San Francisco man hit by taxi driver while in crosswalk

Shortly after 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, a San Francisco man in his 20s suffered injuries after getting struck by a taxi. The man was in a crosswalk in the Marina District when the accident occurred. The driver of the taxi left the scene of the accident after hitting the pedestrian but later returned.

The San Francisco man suffered a broken leg and upper body injuries because of the incident. He was transported to a hospital for medical treatment. A spokesperson for the San Francisco Police said that the driver of the taxi was at fault. He received a citation for speeding, which according to authorities, was the chief violation related to the incident.

In order to receive compensation for damages resulting from a situation such as this, the injured individual might seek out legal representation. If a personal injury lawyer was able to convince a judge or a judge and jury that the taxi driver is guilty of negligence, or if the parties involved choose to negotiate a pretrial settlement, the plaintiff might receive significant recompense for damages. This might include medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages associated with the motor vehicle accident.

A concept frequently brought up in cases such as this is a legal obligation known as duty of care. This obligation requires individuals, such as taxi drivers, to adhere to a certain standard of safety when doing something that might cause harm to others. Establishing that the defendant abandoned his or her duty of care when the accident happened may be a one of the steps involved in demonstrating the negligence of another party.

Source: SF Gate, “Man struck by taxi in S.F.’s Marina district“, Hamed Aleaziz, October 04, 2014

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