October 22, 2012—Valencia, Santa Clarita, CA—According to an ABC News report, a Santa Clarita hit-and-run accident is now being investigated as a hate crime. Officers are asking any witnesses to the accident, which took place on Pueblo Drive on Friday night, to come forward with information.

The victim, who asked not to be identified, was walking his dog when three young men approached in a maroon Toyota Corolla with a spoiler on the back and began yelling homophobic slurs at him. Tying up the dog, the man approached the car to talk to the young men. The driver deliberately hit the victim, then sped away, leaving him lying in the road with ankle injuries. The victim says that as the car approached, he attempted to jump out of the way, but landed on the hood of the car, whereupon the driver deliberately sped up, throwing him over the roof and rolling him off the back of the vehicle.

Anyone with information about the car or the attack is asked to contact the Los Angeles Police Department immediately. If anyone wishes to report information but remain anonymous, they can also contact the Hit-and-Run reward tip line at 1-800-644-8678. There is a cash reward for information leading to the conviction of hit-and-run suspects.

My sincere wishes for a speedy recovery go out to this victim.

Hate Crimes Prompt New Legislation

“Hate crimes” are a new category of charges available to prosecutors in many states. They build on existing laws, such as those barring assault and battery, and provide sentencing enhancement for those convicted of committing such crimes based on their prejudice against some group of people. This allows prosecutors to use special techniques when prosecuting those who persecute religious, gender-based, racially-based, or sexual-orientation-based groups.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, there are several separate laws relating to hate crimes in California, including civil legislation known as “The Ralph Act” and “The Bane Act.” These laws provide for special damages when someone is injured as the result of a hate crime, whether or not the person is actually a member of the targeted group.

How Hate Crime Legislation May Affect This Case

If and when these suspects are identified, they will face punishment on two fronts. First, the penal code will allow prosecutors not only to go after the driver for the hit-and-run but after every passenger in the car who may have participated in the hate crime act. Second, the driver and others may face civil liability for the man’s injuries, as well as payment of punitive damages. Punitive damages are usually paid when someone deliberately causes an injury to another person. A personal injury attorney can determine the victim’s best strategy to recover these damages once the perpetrators are caught.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of a hit and run accident you should seek advice from an attorney. Our Orange County auto pedestrian accident attorneys are experienced and provide free legal consultation.

October 12, 2012—Perris, CA--Fox News reports that a San Diego man has been identified as the fatality victim in a car accident that also injured another passenger.

Joel Tibbrine, 22, of Chula Vista was driving his car about 1:30 a.m. Friday on Nuevo Road near Menifee Road when the vehicle rolled over and crashed into a draining ditch. Tibbrine was killed, and his passenger, an unidentified 19-year-old, sustained minor injuries and was transported to a hospital for treatment.

Police have not released any information about the reason for the crash, but the investigation is ongoing.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Tibbrine’s family and I hope for a speedy recovery for his passenger.

Rollover Accident Statistics

Rollover accidents are some of the most deadly of all vehicular accidents, accounting for about twenty percent of all fatal vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. People killed in rollovers are often not wearing safety restraints; about two-thirds of those killed are ejected from the vehicle, and fully 75 percent of fatalities are not wearing seat belts.

DUI is also a common feature in single-vehicle rollover crashes. The NHTSA estimates that many drivers have elevated blood alcohol content levels when involved in a rollover, and that in these cases about 40 percent engaged in no “avoidance maneuvers” prior to the crash. This means that the driver made no attempt to avoid an obstruction in the road, an oncoming car, or other barrier, and simply drove straight into the cause of the accident, whatever that happens to be. This is indicative of very slow reaction times, a common feature of DUI accidents.

What Happened To This Driver?

The authorities have not yet released their findings from an autopsy or other information about the accident. Given that the accident happened at 1:30 in the morning and that it involved a single vehicle, it is statistically likely that the driver was drinking, but there is no evidence to that effect at this time. It is also possible that the driver fell asleep or had some other issue that caused him to leave the road and roll over into the ditch.

Liability Issues for a Deceased Driver

Contrary to popular belief, the death of a driver does not end the question of liability. A driver’s estate survives him or her and lawsuits can be filed against estates of people who are killed in the vehicle accidents they cause. While those who have been injured do not always choose to follow this path, depending on the circumstances, it is a legal right they can exercise with the help of a California car accident attorney.

October 15 , 2012 In: drunk driving

Actress Victim in Apparent DUI Accident

October 11, 2012—Los Angeles, CA—Sammi Kane Kraft, the actress whose baseball skills landed her a starring role in the “Bad News Bears” 2005 remake, was killed in a car accident today. She was 20 years old.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Kraft was a passenger in an Audi driven by Molly Kate Adams, 21. The Audi was speeding on the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles about 1:30 a.m. The driver apparently rear-ended a large truck, rebounded across the road, and hit another car. The driver suffered moderate injuries and Kraft was pronounced dead at an area hospital. Neither of the other drivers involved was seriously injured.

Adams was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the Kraft family on this terrible loss, and I pray for the speedy recovery of all those injured in this accident.

DUI is Deadly

At least 30 percent of all fatalities in car accidents can be attributed to alcohol use, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some experts have estimated that the actual number of fatalities due to alcohol at certain times of day, such as early-morning hours, may be as high as 75 percent.

Even using the 30 percent figure, at least 12,000 people die each year as a direct result of drinking and driving. Obviously, these numbers are disheartening in view of the fact that every DUI accident is completely preventable. As in this case, both young and old lives are cut short every day due to DUI accidents.

DUI Laws in California

The charges against the driver under California law could include felony DUI. If the driver is found to have had a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more, she could be charged with second-degree murder under what is known as the “Watson murder” law. This law allows a district attorney to charge a person with homicide if he or she drinks and drives then causes the death of another person.

Of course, there is no indication at this point that these charges are contemplated, and often the Watson rule is not invoked. It remains to be seen if the driver will be charged at this level or simply given a felony DUI charge.

Liability Issues

Regardless of the outcome of the criminal aspect of the case, there is definitely a question of legal liability for wrongful death. A personal injury attorney should examine the case and determine how to go about collecting damages for the loss of this young person by her family. If you have legal questions regarding a DUI or wrongful death case contact an accident injury attorney today.

Source: Huffington Post, “Sammi Kane Kraft Dead: 'Bad News Bears' Actress Dies In Car Accident At Age 20,” Staff Writers, October 11, 2012.

October 11 , 2012 In: Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcyclist Killed in Encinitas Crash

October 8, 2012—Encinitas, CA—Police are investigating the death of one motorcyclist and the injury of another in a Sunday collision with a vehicle, according to CBS News sources.

The unidentified motorcyclist, a 25-year-old man, was leading a group of three cyclists on South Coast Highway as they approached the intersection with K Street around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. A 69-year-old man driving a Toyota Camry stopped for a sign then pulled into the intersection, striking the first biker and injuring a second. The driver was taken to the hospital with minor to moderate injuries.

My sincere condolences go out to the family of the deceased victim as well as my heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to the two injured victims.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

When motorcyclists and cars collide, there are generally a limited number of reasons. According to the Hurt Report, a study conducted by the University of Southern California in the 1980s, the majority of two-vehicle motorcycle accidents were precipitated by the driver making a left-hand turn in front of the motorcyclist. The same is true today, according to the California Highway Patrol. The three major causes of motorcycle accidents are improper turning, speeding, and the use of alcohol or drugs. In cases where a motorcycle is involved in a collision with another vehicle, the majority of cases are the driver’s fault rather than the motorcyclist’s.

This Accident Highlights Problem With Car vs. Motorcycle Accidents

This accident illustrates a very common scenario in which a motorist either fails to see an oncoming motorcycle or fails to yield the right-of-way in time to avoid a collision. Experts have speculated on possible causes of this phenomenon, and many feel that the size and speed of a motorcycle give an illusion that it is farther away than it actually is or that it is traveling slower than it is in reality. This leads drivers to pull out in front of an oncoming motorcycle without enough room for the motorcycle to stop.

In this case, since the wording of the police report leads to the conclusion that the driver struck the motorcyclist, the conclusion might be drawn that the driver simply failed to see the oncoming motorcycle. Police will continue to investigate this accident to determine the real cause.

Liability Issues for Motorists and Motorcyclists

California allows for comparative liability, which means that both participants in an accident can share blame. However, in this case, unless the investigation reveals excessive speed on the part of the motorcyclist, it is likely the driver will bear sole responsibility for the accident and will be liable for damages.

A professional motorcycle accident attorney should investigate the circumstances of the accident and help the family of the victim decide what steps to take.

October 4 , 2012 In: Car Accidents

Man Killed When RV Pins Him While Working

October 2, 2012—Fountain Valley, CA—A man working on an RV Monday morning was killed when a GMC Blazer left the road and crashed into it, according to the Orange County Register and the Fountain Valley Police.

The victim, whom authorities identified only as a 48-year-old man, was working on the RV about 7:15 a.m. on Monday. The vehicle was broken down on the side of Lawson River Avenue near Ward Street. The victim was pinned beneath the RV, was unresponsive, and was pronounced dead at the scene by arriving paramedics.

The driver did not attempt to leave but stayed and talked with police officers. Authorities do not suspect alcohol or drugs to be a factor in the crash. However, they are asking anyone with information about the collision to contact Fountain Valley Police.
My sincere condolences go out to the family of the victim in this crash.

RVs And Other Heavy Vehicles Can Be Deadly

The number of RV or recreational vehicle crashes each year are very difficult to ascertain because these accidents are usually lumped in with “heavy vehicle” or “large truck” statistics. However, it is easier to find general information on large vehicle accidents, and in this case, the weight and size of the vehicle were far more important in the outcome of this accident than the type of vehicle.

For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s data shows that in one year, 4,822 people were killed in “jack collapse” accidents. These data are not broken down to show in how many of these incidents a car hitting the vehicle caused the jack collapse. However, it is easy to see that any precipitating event that causes a jack failure could lead to the same results as this accident’s outcome.

California Law Regarding Side-of-Road Vehicles

According to California Vehicle Code 22502, a vehicle must be parked on the side of the road no more than 18 inches from the curb and facing in the same direction as the flow of traffic. Although an RV is much larger than a regular vehicle, the same rules apply and seem to have been followed by the driver in this situation. If the driver was indeed in compliance with the California Vehicle Code, it could have grave implications for the car driver who hit him.

Liability for This Driver?

If the RV operator was in compliance with the law, there is little doubt that the car’s driver will be held liable for the death of the man working on the RV. The family of the victim should talk to an Orange County car accident attorney about the case and determine their rights.

Catherine Campion Ritz of Irvine, 57, who worked as a doctor at Newport Family Medicine and was a founding board member of Nautilus Healthcare Management Group, was fatally injured Wednesday when her bicycle was struck by what the Los Angeles Times describes as a full-sized black pickup truck. The driver fled the scene, though he was subsequently apprehended. The Orange County district attorney's office has charged Michael Jason Lopez, 39, of Anaheim with one felony count of hit-and-run causing death and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. Dr. Ritz was taken to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where she died four hours after the accident.
I offer my deepest sympathies to the family members and friends of this deceased hit-and-run car accident victim. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Car Accident Statistics

According to California Highway Patrol’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), car accidents in the city of Newport Beach caused four fatalities and injured 448 people. During the same year, 141 people died and 13,373 were injured due to Orange County car accidents.

Leaving the Scene of a Crash

Based on this news article, it appears that Michael Jason Lopez, the driver of the pickup truck, not only struck and fatally injured the Dr. Ritz, but also left her lying on the roadway without care or medical attention. Unconscionable!

Leaving the scene of an injury accident is not only inhumane and irresponsible, but it is also illegal. California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a) states: "The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident."

Liability Issues

In such cases, the family of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party seeking compensation for damages including medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, and loss of love and companionship. Victims' families would be well advised to contact an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer, who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.

SOURCE: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/09/irvine-doctor-killed-while-cycling-police-arrest-motorist-.html

September 20 , 2012 In: Truck Accidents

Semi Truck Accident Leaves 4 Dead Near Lancaster

September 12, 2012—Rosamund, CA—An accident between a semi truck and a car in Kern County left four dead on Sunday, according to ABC News sources.

The truck accident occurred near Lancaster at around 5:20 p.m. when a Cadillac ran a stop sign and collided with a tanker truck. All four people in the car were declared dead at the scene. The driver of the big truck was not injured, although he was shaken badly. None of the victims’ names have been released.

My sincere condolences go out to the families of these victims.

Big Trucks Have Big Accident Statistics

According to the Department of Transportation, big trucks account for only two percent of all motor vehicle collisions. However, when big trucks are involved in these collisions, the possibility of death or serious injury is higher than if the car is hit by a vehicle of similar size. In fact, 90 percent of all fatality victims in large-truck accidents are passenger car occupants rather than truck drivers.

Was The Car Driver Responsible for this Accident?

The initial police report in this crash suggests that the car driver ran a signal and pulled in front of the large truck. If this is indeed the case, the accident was the fault of the car driver and the family may not be able to recover damages from the truck driver. On the other hand, if there were mitigating circumstances, the family might be able to recover damages.
For example, if it can be shown that the brakes on this car were malfunctioning and the driver was not able to stop, it might change the entire responsibility and liability outlook of the case. A thorough investigation should take place to determine exactly why the driver did not stop, particularly since there are no surviving witnesses to testify about what happened just prior to the accident.

Liability Issues May Be Unclear

While the driver of the car may be responsible for the accident, this does not necessarily preclude all liability on the part of others. If there was a mechanical defect in the car that contributed to the accident, it is likely that the manufacturer of the part, the mechanic who worked on the car, or both could be liable. It is also possible that there could be liability on the part of the city if a stop sign was knocked down and not put back up, causing the driver to miss the stop, or if a signal was not working properly. A professional truck accident attorney should examine the case and make liability determinations.

September 19 , 2012 In: Hit-and-Run Accidents

Pedestrian Critically Injured in Hit-and-Run

September 7, 2012—Laguna Niguel, CA—According to the Orange County Register, police are looking for a driver who fled the scene after a Laguna Niguel hit and run accident in which the victim was dragged 25 feet. The pedestrian died a short time later at the hospital.

The victim, Carlos Salas, 20, was left on the ground near Golden Lantern and Marina Hills Drive, and was discovered around 3:45 a.m. Friday. Orange County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and transported the victim to a local hospital where he expired from his injuries.

Salas was apparently hit by a black Nissan Maxima that was found abandoned near the scene. Salas was believed to have been in the crosswalk at the time of the accident and may have been skateboarding.

 

Anyone with information about the crash should contact the Orange County Sheriff’s department immediately.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the victim in this tragic accident.

Hit-and-Run Common in Pedestrian Accidents

While hit-and-run accidents occur with every type of collision, pedestrians are more likely than some groups to be victims of these negligent drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Pedestrian Crash Report,” most pedestrian collisions occur between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on weekends. During these time periods, the likelihood that a driver is drinking is much higher and witnesses are far less likely to be available to give evidence about the crash. According to the NHTSA, fully 20 percent of all pedestrian accidents involve a hit-and-run driver.

What We Already Know About This Accident

While the vehicle that probably caused the crash has been identified, this may not bring the resolution that was expected. The vehicle’s owner has been identified but there is no evidence as yet that this person and the driver were the same. If the car was stolen, it could explain why the vehicle was so readily abandoned.

The evidence that is available at this time is that the driver was moving fast enough to cause a fatal pedestrian injury, was driving very late at night, fled the scene, and abandoned the car a short distance away. These factors all point to an alcohol-related crash. If this is the case, someone in the vicinity of the abandoned car may have seen or heard the driver, especially if he or she was acting erratically. Forensic evidence may also be available to help pinpoint who was driving the car.

Liability For the Crash

Unfortunately, a hit-and-run driver means there is no one at the point to hold liable for the accident. Hopefully someone will come forward with information so that the proper person can be held accountable and a pedestrian accident attorney in Laguna Niguel can assist the family in recovering damages.

September 1, 2012—Gardena, CA—Two vehicles ran off the side of the southbound San Diego Freeway Friday night, resulting in serious injuries to five men, according to NBC News sources. This serious car accident highlights the problems associated with reckless driving, which police sources believe to have been a factor.

California Highway Patrol’s preliminary report states that the two vehicles were possibly engaged in reckless driving when they both ran off the edge of the freeway, plunging fifty feet down an embankment. The accident occurred near Normandie Avenue in Gardena on the 405 Freeway at about 9:30 p.m. Firefighters responded immediately and extinguished a fire in one of the vehicles. All victims were transported to local hospitals.

My sincere wishes for a speedy recovery go out to the victims in this accident.

Reckless Driving Leads to Injuries and Death

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 33 percent of all fatal car accidents can be traced back to some form of reckless driving. Reckless driving, unlike simple driver error, means that the driver was engaged in some type of activity for some time before the accident that could reasonably lead to a collision. For example, speeding while weaving in and out of traffic would be considered reckless driving, while slamming on brakes suddenly to avoid a road obstruction would not.

Were These Drivers Reckless?

Depending on what the police find in their investigation, it is very possible that one or both of these drivers may be charged with reckless driving. Racing each other on the highway, for example, could lead to a charge of reckless driving for both drivers. On the other hand, if one driver was speeding and weaving dangerously through traffic and then lost control and ran the other driver off the road, only the at-fault driver would be charged.

Who Has Liability In A Reckless Driving Case?

If both drivers were engaged in reckless activity, it is possible they could share liability for the injuries sustained by the victims in this accident. On the other hand, if only one driver was driving recklessly, then that driver will probably have sole liability for the accident. It will be up to a professional car accident attorney to determine the nature of the liability and who was at fault in this crash.

September 13 , 2012 In: Dog Bites

Where Can You Turn After a Animal Attack?

A dog bite lawyer in Huntington Beach may be your most valuable asset if you have suffered from an animal attack.  The circumstances of most dog bite incidents are not conducive to recovering damages, so an attorney may be able to help you navigate the sometimes tricky problems associated with these types of cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 800,000 people are bitten by dogs each year.  However, only 40,000 of these seek medical treatment, and only a fraction of those treated actually file a claim for damages.  Why would someone avoid filing a lawsuit when it is obvious that a dog is dangerous and has caused physical harm? Read the rest of this entry »

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