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Entries in wrongful death (5)

Tuesday
Apr052016

Save the MAMILs - Cyclist Injury & Death Statistics

Injury AttorneyWrongful Death Attorney

 

by Thomas Cecil

(818) 907-3292

 

According to a recent government report, MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) are the likeliest of all age groups and genders to be killed or seriously injured while riding a bicycle.

In its report to the US Congress last November (Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety), the General Accounting Office found that of the 743 cyclists who died and the estimated 48,000 who were injured in 2013, 87 percent of those killed were male with an average age of 44, and 83 percent of those injured were male with an average age of 33. Men between 55 and 59 “made up the largest number of cyclist fatalities”.

Although the report didn’t actually reference what the cyclists were wearing, it did confirm that more and more people, in fact over a million more, started riding or walking to work between 2005 and 2013. Riding a bicycle or walking to work clearly is not without risk. As the study points out, fatalities and injuries involving pedestrians and bicyclists remain relatively high while at the same time deaths and injuries from traffic collisions have fallen significantly.

The individual human tragedies are found in the numbers. In 2004, 727 cyclists were killed commuting to work and the annual number of deaths since then “has ranged between 623 and 786”. Cyclist injuries in 2004 were 41,000 and by 2013 were 48,000. Pedestrian deaths and injuries are worse:  4,675 deaths and 68,000 injures in 2004; 4,735 deaths and 66,000 injuries in 2013.

With respect to cyclists, the report notes that most traffic crashes that resulted in death in 2013 “occurred in urban areas, happened in clear weather conditions, and most frequently took place between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.”  Unlike pedestrian deaths which occurred under similar circumstances, “more cyclists (405) died during daylight rather than in the dark.”  

Why are MAMILs and Others in Such Danger?

The study notes many possible factors, including increased walking and cycling trips, alcohol use, distracted driving, cycling and walking due to cell phone use, texting and eating. Another factor is the fact that roadways are built to accommodate cars rather than bicyclists and pedestrians.

As noted, as more and more people bike and walk to work, it is more likely that more cyclists and pedestrians will be involved in crashes. The report indicates, however, that when the numbers of cyclists and walkers in a particular area increase, the number of fatalities and injuries in that area decreases. Reasons given include drivers become used to seeing walkers and riders and change their behavior by driving more slowly. Thus more walkers and cyclists may actually improve safety and decrease deaths and injuries.

As also noted, distracted driving remains a serious threat to cyclists and walkers. In 2013 alone, 3,154 people died in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driving. According to the report, 480 deaths “were pedestrians, cyclists, or other non-motorists.” 

With respect to road design, historically engineers designed roads meant to accommodate motor vehicles with wide straight roads often the goal. Unfortunately, the report notes, wide straight roads lead to faster traffic and speeding. A speeding driver has less time to react and the severity of the crash is much more likely to kill or seriously injure the cyclist or pedestrian.

So, what’s the solution?

Three Es of Safety for Pedestrians & Cyclists

1. Engineering:  better use of data to identify problem roadways and concentrations of cyclists and pedestrians; the use of highway design documents specific for cyclists and pedestrians such as the Pedestrian and Bike Guides, Urban Bikeway Design Guide and Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach.

2. Education:  collaborative education campaigns to educate the public on bike riding and walking safety along with officer training on pedestrian and cyclist safety and traffic laws.

3. Enforcement:  targeting areas with a high-frequency of crashes for law enforcement action.


(According to the Federal Highway Administration, there is typically a fourth “E” in highway safety, for “Emergency Medical Services” but it is not mentioned in this report.)

As bicycling and walking in urban areas is likely to only increase, and as more and more people look to biking and walking for exercise and recreation, drivers, city planners and walkers and bike riders will all have to learn to share the road. And remember, #SaveTheMamils.

Thomas Cecil is a Shareholder in our Personal Injury Practice Group

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Jul112013

Dog Attacks: Are Pit Bulls and Rottweilers More Likely to Cause Serious Injury?

Injury Attorney Los AngelesLos Angeles Injury Lawyer

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

According to California Health and Safety Code, no specific dog breed or mix shall be declared potentially dangerous or vicious, in city or county ordinances.

But the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) says certain breeds tend to be involved in serious dog bite injuries more frequently than others: German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and mixed breeds top the list of culprits.

Statistics show that Pit Bulls tend to be more involved in fatal dog attacks, followed by Rottweilers and then Huskies, and mixed breeds – though other, miscellaneous varieties account for 19 percent of fatalities from dog maulings. In short, it's always best to be on your guard when around dogs, particularly those you don't know well.

  People still argue over whether it's the owner or the breed that is at fault for vicious dog attacks. Whatever side of the argument you fall on, consider recent headlines throughout California, over the past few months:

  • A few weeks ago, a six year old boy died when he was mauled by a pit bull owned by his uncle – a dog that according to news reports, showed no previous signs of aggression.

  • A young woman in Stockton suffered serious injury when attacked by two pitbulls while staying at a friend's house.

  • Another woman in Stockton was mauled to death by a pit bull with a history of jumping fences and attacking animals.

  • In May, a pack of pit bulls and mixed-breed dogs fatally attacked a jogger here in Los Angeles County – the dog owner was recently charged with murder.

While the above stories do not necessarily settle the argument over whether it’s the owner or the breed that is responsible for the most serious attacks, they do highlight the most important point. 

In every dog attack case we have ever worked on and in every case above, there has been a lack of responsible pet ownership.  This includes ensuring the dogs are safely restrained on the property, ensuring they are not trained to be attack dogs, ensuring they are not allowed to be in situations where they can be a danger to someone else, etc.  Regardless of the breed, the owner must be responsible for the dog.

Most dog bites don't require medical attention. But those who do suffer serious injury when mauled or bitten by a dog, may need extensive medical treatment.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 866 dog bite victims sought emergency room treatment in 2008, resulting in $54M in treatment overall. Their injuries included skin and tissue damage and infection, wounds to the head, neck and torso, bone fractures and blood poisoning. They required wound debridement, sutures, skin grafts and other surgical procedures, not to mention counseling, in some cases.

 

Steps to Take After a Dog Attack

 

If you have been hurt because of a single dog bite or a vicious attack, the first thing you should do is seek medical help. Use the following as a guide:

  1. Treatment: You need to stop the bleeding and prevent infection immediately. Additional medical services such as surgery or physical therapy can be determined later.

  2. Identification: The next step to take is to identify the dog's owner, if s/he was not present during the attack. Identifying the owner is important for several reasons.  In terms of your treatment, you need to know the health of the dog and whether the dog has received certain vaccinations.  Legally, you may need to bring a claim against the owner, which is often covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy. 

  3. Report: Contact the local animal control authority and/or police department to report the attack.

  4. Evidence: Take photos of your injuries, and the premises where you were attacked or bitten. Gather witness information. Save torn or dirtied clothing. If you ran to a vehicle or behind a fence to escape, take pictures of the exterior doors or fences/gates that may have been scratched, especially if the dog attempted to follow you inside.   

 

How to Find a Dog Bite Attorney

 

California Civil Code Section 3342 clearly states that the owner of a dog is liable for damages suffered if a person is bitten in a public place or while lawfully in a private place. If you've been attacked by a Pit Bull, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, or any other breed, you may be eligible for damages related to your medical treatment, continued therapy, psychological treatment, loss of wages and more.

We can't stress this enough: If you've been injured, get treatment first. This principle applies to any type of injury, whether you're involved in a car accident, tripped over a dangerous condition, or been attacked by a Pit Bull. Your health should be your primary concern.

Once you've received initial medical treatment, you can then look for a personal injury attorney if you feel that's what is needed. Look for a law firm experienced in dog bite cases that offers free consultations and is willing to take your case on a contingency basis (both attorney fees and costs).

David B. Bobrosky is a Dog Bite Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via email: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com, for further information.

 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Aug232012

Insurance Companies Behaving Badly: The Progressive Fiasco

Personal Injury SettlementsInjury Attorney

 

(818) 907-3254
by David B. Bobrosky

 

Thanks to social media, the power is truly back with the people. 

It helped revive Betty White's career, thanks to a Facebook campaign by her fans. It got the Susan G. Komen Foundation to rethink its decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, and public outcry further prompted the resignation of five Foundation executives. Social media also sparked a movement to boycott Chick-fil-A, and then a counter-movement to support the chain, after the company president took a public stance for traditional marriage. 

 

Personal Injury Free ConsultationClick image to contact us for a free consultation.

Regardless of what side of these issues you fall, social media has proved to be powerful. Now, Progressive Insurance is the latest to be feeling the pain of public outcry in social networking forums. 

It started in 2010, when Progressive client Katilynn Fisher was killed in an automobile accident in Baltimore. Among other things, her insurance policy covered her for accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers.

Nationwide Insurance covered the other driver, and promptly paid out its policy limits of $25,000 to Fisher's estate.

Under Fisher’s underinsured policy with Progressive, there was another $75,000 available to the estate.  A total of $100,000 certainly seems like nothing for the death of a loved one, but that’s all that was available.  To make matters worse, Progressive refused to pay out even the $75,000, claiming Fisher may have been at fault for the accident.

Apparently, in the State of Maryland, if your insurance company refuses to settle your underinsured motorist claim, you must prove your damages against the other driver first in court. In this case the other driver’s company had already paid its own policy limits.  Nevertheless, Progressive still fought the family. 

In California, it would be a little different.  After recovering the third party policy, an insured could demand arbitration against its own insurance company if it refused to pay on the underinsured policy.

Progressive refused to settle the matter for anything more than a third of the policy, and then set out to defend the other driver even though he appeared to be at fault.

This prompted Fisher's brother, Matt Fisher, to post a blog about the insurer on August 13th entitled My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer in Court:

Here I address you, Prospective Progressive Insurance Customer: someday when you have your accident, I promise that there will be enough wiggle room for Progressive’s bottomless stack of in-house attorneys to make a court case out of it and to hammer at that court case until you or your surviving loved ones run out of money.... Which is what Progressive decided to do to my family. In hopes that a jury would hang or decide that the accident was her fault, they refused to pay the policy to my sister’s estate. 

Rather than accepting responsibility for its actions, Progressive posted a response to Matt Fisher’s blog.  Progressive stated:

            “Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant.”

On August 14th, Fisher posted a response to a statement by the insurer.  Fisher pointed out that the Progressive attorney sat at counsel table during the trial, presented an opening statement, questioned the witnesses, and presented the closing argument.  As Fisher stated, he was “comfortable characterizing this as a legal defense.”

The posts earned the case some national media attention. Fisher was invited to appear on national television and Progressive's Facebook page saw an onslaught of negative commentary.

A circuit court in Maryland awarded $760,000 to the Fisher family. Progressive paid the $75,000 it owed to begin with, and then paid an additional undisclosed settlement for the way the company handled its own insured’s claims.

Had Progressive treated its insured fairly, it would merely have paid the $75,000, and saved the insured’s family additional grief. Instead, Progressive paid significantly more and put the family through additional anguish.

I’d like to think Progressive, and other insurers, have learned a lesson here…but we know they probably haven't. Insurance companies will continue to do whatever they can to pay out as little as they can on all claims.

David B. Bobrosky is a San Fernando Valley Personal Injury Attorney and avid safe driving proponent. Contact him via e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Wednesday
Mar142012

Big Rig Truck, Motorcycle, Construction Zone - Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful Death Attorney 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

 

In our practice we deal with tragic accidents all too often.  While many people are significantly injured or sometimes killed in auto v. auto accidents, the most violent injuries occur in motorcycle accidents, big rig trucking accidents, and on construction sites.  And when all three are involved– it’s almost always deadly.

We were recently involved in such a case.  We represented a wonderful family who tragically lost their son when his motorcycle collided with a big rig truck.  The family was extremely close, and the loss was devastating for all of them.  

The accident occurred when the truck turned left out of a parking lot and entered the path of travel of our clients’ son.  He did not have time to react and his motorcycle collided with the truck, killing him.  The devastation was compounded by the fact that the investigating officer found our clients’ son – the motorcyclist – at fault for the accident.

The family came to us seeking answers.  They couldn’t understand how the accident could be their son’s fault when he was just proceeding straight when this truck blocked his right of away causing the accident. In reviewing the police report, the truck was turning left out of a parking lot across north bound traffic to head south.  The officer concluded that the trucker had entered the roadway and had essentially taken over the right of way from north bound traffic before finishing the turn to head south bound.

We immediately went to the scene of the accident to investigate, and noticed some very important factors: 

Van Nuys Wrongful Death1. The truck was not turning out of a typical driveway, it was turning out from a construction site.  This is very important because contractors and sub-contractors have strict regulations that need to be followed regarding safety.  Once in litigation, discovery showed that the truck driver was hauling material off of the job site. 

2.  Also, the driveway the trucker was turning out of was at the end of a sweeping curve.  When we put ourselves in his position, it was very difficult to see any traffic coming from his left to ever know if it was safe to turn.

Construction Site Safety

 

Safety is paramount to each and every construction project.  These safety requirements start with the State of California Construction Safety Orders established by CAL-OSHA.  These Orders establish minimum safety standards whenever employment exists in connection with the construction of any fixed structure.

The general contractor on any site is responsible for the overall safety of the jobsite and work environment.  Each contractor and worker involved in a construction project relies on the general contractor to establish the environment, framework and protocols within which they will work. 

Regardless of the general contractor’s responsibilities, however, each supporting contractor (e.g., a grading contractor) and equipment operator (e.g., the truck driver) is responsible for the safety of its own operations and equipment.  It is the responsibility of the general contractor to make sure each such supporting contractor and equipment operator is carrying out duties safely and complying with all safety protocols, rules and regulations.

The most glaring safety violations in relation to this tragic accident were the lack of signs and flaggers to notify and control traffic along the roadway adjacent to the construction site.  The use of warning signs and flaggers were required by CAL-OSHA Sections 1598 and 1599 when hazards exist because of traffic or haulage conditions at work sites that encroach upon public streets or highways.  Other standards required or recommended the use of flaggers as well, including: 

  • The Work Area Traffic Control Handbook (WATCH Manual)
  • Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
  • Manual of Accident Prevention for Construction (MAPC)

The use of flaggers and flagging has become a highly recognizable and important safety component of construction activity.  Because construction activity is temporary in nature, it calls for unexpected and unusual traffic to be moving on and off of the site. 

The large size of the vehicles that tend to be moving on and off of the site also added to the need for flaggers, as the vehicles require extra time to move across the roadway.  The need for flaggers in this situation was compounded by the large sweeping curve that made it more difficult for the trucker to see oncoming traffic, and difficult for our client's son and other drivers to see the truck exiting the parking lot.

Notwithstanding all of the regulations, standards, and industry practice related to signage and flaggers, the Defendants (including the truck driver and involved contractors), failed to provide any protection for motorists.  Once all of this information came out through litigation, the Defendants settled the case prior to a trial.

The settlement was an important step for the family on their road to recovering from this tragedy.  As we see time and again, such simple and obvious safety standards, if followed, would have prevented a tragic death.

David B. Bobrosky is a Wrongful Death Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com. 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Feb012012

Train Accident Tragedy: Dangerous Road & Railway Crossing Made Safer by Litigation

Injury AttorneyTrain Accident Lawyer

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

Many times dangerous conditions or negligent conduct are not changed until someone is injured and a lawsuit is filed.  

As part of a continuing series of articles on the Lewitt Hackman Personal Injury Blog, Lewitt Hackman attorneys will identify dangerous conditions or conduct from cases they have handled in the past, and how the conditions or conduct was changed as a result of the lawsuit. Below is such a case. 

Train Accident Attorney

A Dangerous Road & Railway Crossing

 

Our client was on the way home from work to have dinner with his wife, as he had done for the past 25 years. He traveled west down an old road that he had driven many times before.

As he traveled, he approached a railroad crossing from the east. When he approached the railroad crossing, another driver approached the crossing from the west. The intersection where the tracks cross the road is an “S” curve, with the railroad tracks in the middle of the “S.”  Unfortunately, there were no edge lines, lane lines, botts dots, or other signs guiding drivers through the intersection to safely follow the curve and stay in their own lane. 

The other driver, based on all accounts, failed to identify and negotiate the “S” curve and his car crossed into our client’s lane and struck his car head on. Our client’s car was stopped on the tracks, and severely damaged. 

Shortly after the collision, the signals started going off and the crossing arms came down – a train was coming. Despite a severely fractured leg, our client exited his vehicle through his window. Tragically, he was not able to completely escape and he was killed when the train plowed into him and his car. He was survived by a wonderful wife, and three great adult children.

When hired by his family, our office immediately investigated the scene of the accident. During that investigation, we determined that the accident was mostly caused by the dangerous condition of the railroad crossing. It was difficult for a driver to discern the curve, causing the driver to cross over into the other lane of traffic. Because this was not a heavily travelled area, there were no reports of other significant accidents. 

You can see a photo of the railroad crossing shot from a plane we hired to fly above and take photographs immediately after the accident in the image above. As you can see there are no lane lines guiding drivers through the crossing. 

A short time after the accident, the City painted lane lines as shown in this follow-up photograph, below right.Los Angeles Accident Injury Lawyers Making a Difference

As can be seen from the photographs, just the painting of the lane lines makes the curve significantly safer – and possibly would have prevented this tragic accident.

As part of our case, we hired traffic engineers to prepare renderings of what a safe crossing should look like, with additional lines and warning signs before and throughout the curve. After our case was settled, the City essentially made all of the changes suggested by our engineers. 

As with every case we handle, we attempt to obtain a fair recovery to compensate our clients for the injuries suffered as the result of another’s negligence. Equally important, is that our efforts result in dangerous conditions or conduct being changed so similar accidents do not happen again. We achieved both goals in this case. 

David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney experienced in train accidents and dangerous roadway cases. Contact him via e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com, or by phone: 818.990.2120.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

LEWITT HACKMAN | 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Eleventh Floor, Encino, California 91436-1865 | 818.990.2120