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Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can result from many different kinds of accidents; often, these serious and life-threatening injuries are not preventable. But if we know what kinds of accidents can put our kids at risk of a severe head trauma, can we work on better preventing these injuries from occurring?

Reasons for TBIs Shift from Cfile000478062624hildhood to Adulthood

A recent article on NPR discussed the different ways in which children sustain TBIs. Adults sustain brain injuries most often following involvement in a car accident, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children, however, tend to sustain TBIs more frequently from falls. According to the article, the changes in the ways that children, teens, and adults suffer injuries tend to shift as “their forms of motion change.” And the types of fall-related injuries also vary depending upon the age of the child.

An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine emphasized that young children sustain brain-related injuries from different types of falls than do young adults. The authors of the paper are members of the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network, and their research involved analyzing data from 43,000 children admitted into emergency rooms from “blunt force head trauma” between the years of 2004 and 2006.

Falls Most Common Cause of Childhood Head Injuries

The article’s authors found that three primary causes of blunt force head trauma exist for children under the age of two:

  • Falls from elevation, or falls from heights, accounted for 54 percent—more than half—of all emergency room visits related to blunt force trauma to the head;
  • Falls down the stairs led to 14 percent of all emergency room visits for kids under two years old;
  • Falls to the ground from a walking or standing position resulted in nine percent of emergency room visits.

As is evident, the top three causes of brain injuries for children under the age of two are all linked to fall-related injuries. By and large, falls from heights produce the highest number of serious injuries in these young kids. At the same time, however, it is important to note that falls that occur while a child is standing, walking, or running can also lead to a severe head trauma. How many times has your child slipped and fallen while running on the kitchen tile? How frequently does your toddler trip and fall on the playground asphalt?

For kids between the ages of two and twelve years old, the researchers also discovered that fall-related injuries are the major cause of serious head injuries. The top three causes of head trauma for kids in this age group include:

  • Falls from elevation, or falls from heights, accounted for 24 percent of head injuries;
  • Falls to the ground from the position of standing, walking, or running led to 14 percent of brain trauma in children between the ages of two and twelve;
  • About nine percent of head injuries in this age group resulted from being accidentally struck in the head by an object.

As children grow older, the causes of their head injuries look more like those of adults. Specifically, teen head traumas most frequently result from assault (24 percent), sports (19 percent), and car accidents (18 percent).

If your child suffered a brain injury in a dangerous slip and fall accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Contact a dedicated San Diego premises liability lawyer today to discuss your options.

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Did the NFL turn over a new leaf when it comes to traumatic brain injuries, or is the league attempting to paint itself in a better light in the media? According to a recent post in GeekWire, the NFL provided $3.5 million in funding for brain injury prevention projects across the country, including one in southern California.

Head Health Challe_DSC6907 (1)nges Allots Funds for Brain Injury Research Teams

In connection with Under Armour and GE, the league developed the “Head Health Challenge,” a plan designed to give researchers “funding to develop new ways to prevent, measure, and detect brain injury.” All in all, it is a $60 million initiative that will provide money to different groups in the months and years to come. The challenge was launched last year.

How is the money allotted? In many ways, it works like a contest, and the NFL recently announced the winners. Seven research teams will each receive $500,000, and they will also have a chance at winning an extra $1 million in 2015. They can award additional funds if the organizers find “continued innovation advancements, potential for commercialization, and on-field impact.” Researchers from 19 different countries submitted proposals, and the organizers received about 500 different proposals in total between September 2013 and February 2014, according to the NFL press release.

These winners are part of the second group to receive funding. The first group of winners received funds back in January; their projects were linked closely to the diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries. This second group of winners, according to the NFL’s press release, contains research projects that will focus more closely on protection from TBIs and new ways to measure head impacts upon collision.

Winning Projects Range from Helmet Improvement to TBI Diagnosis

Some of the winners include:

  • UCLA and Architected Materials, Inc.: Based in southern California, this winning research team is in the process of developing an “energy-absorbing microlattice materials for improved helmet performance.” The material would be used as an under-helmet liner that would help to absorb energy during head hits.
  • University of Miami Miller School of Medicine: This research team is in the process of developing a “portable eye-goggle that gathers and measures precise eye movements,” which “will assist in identifying mild traumatic brain injury in real time, leading to more accurate concussion diagnosis.”
  • Viconic Sporting, Inc.: In Detroit, this research group is creating a synthetic turf system that will be more absorbent, and thus will help to make the football fields themselves safer for players.
  • University of Washington and VICIS: This team will develop a “revolutionary football helmet” created with a shock-absorbing structure.

The San Diego area, as well as regions across the country with amateur and professional sports teams, needs more attention to brain injury prevention. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can lead to serious, life-threatening, and life-long consequences. If you or a loved one recently sustained a sports-related TBI, it is important to talk about your case with an experienced San Diego brain injury attorney. You may be eligible for compensation.

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A dangerous truck accident in Fresno recently took the life of a 22-year-old graduate student, Ana Tapia, according to an article in the New York Daily News. Trucking accidents can be particularly deadly given the size and weight of these vehicles. If you or someone you love was injured or killed in an automobile accident, you should discuss your case with a San Diego truck accident attorney. You may be entitled to compensation.

Tractor-Trailer “Flying Wheel” LOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeads to Fatal Injuries

How did the recent trucking accident happen in downtown Fresno? It appears Tapia’s car was hit by a “flying wheel from a tractor-trailer.” Tapia had been behind the wheel of a Toyota Corolla on Highway 99 when the wheel crushed her. Reports indicate that the wheel “rolled into her lane,” and then “smashed into the roof and driver’s side” of her vehicle. Investigators are not sure precisely how the wheel came detached from the vehicle, but the California Highway Patrol (CHP) continues to look into the matter. Some commentators described the scene as a “freak accident.”

But should we expect better safety inspections for tractor-trailers like the one involved in the deadly accident?  Should we need to anticipate that the wheels of big rigs can simply come dislodged when a traffic collision occurs? The victim was working toward a master’s in public health when she was killed, and those who knew her emphasize that “she was on her way to making a huge impact,” according to an article in the Fresno Bee.

Truck Accident Safety and Statistics

Big rigs tend to weigh 10,000 pounds or greater, so it is no wonder that these vehicles often cause fatal injuries when they are involved in automobile crashes. Indeed, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) emphasizes that large trucks often weigh “20-30 times as much as passenger vehicles,” and they are also “taller and have greater ground clearance than cars.” What does this information mean? In short, “lower-riding vehicles can slide beneath truck trailers, with deadly consequences.” And while federal safety standards require these trucks to have underride guards, the IIHS estimates that many of these guards often fail in low-speed accidents.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), fatal truck accidents happen more than ten times per day—every day—in the United States. Each year, these collisions result in about 4,000 deaths nationwide. And even when passengers are not killed in these dangerous crashes, more than 100,000 suffer serious injuries each year.

Based on data from the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of serious and fatal truck accidents rose over the last several years. What is causing the increase in trucking accidents? The IIHS predicts that three major factors are at work in fatal truck collisions:

  •      Driver speeding;
  •      Driver fatigue; and
  •      Truck braking capability.

If you are in a smaller passenger vehicle, it is important to stay alert while you are behind the wheel. But if you or a loved one sustained serious injuries in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego truck accident lawyer. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more.

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It is always scary to learn that we could be driving an automobile that was subject to a product recall. In the past months, millions of vehicles were affected by a Takata airbag recall, and according to a story from PBS Newshour, it looks as if that recall is only continuing to expand.

Were you been seriouAirbagsly injured in a car accident caused by a defective automobile product? It is important to know that you can file a lawsuit to hold the manufacturer liable for your injuries. Contact an experienced San Diego product liability lawyer today to find out more about how we can assist with your case.

Airbags Can Release Metal Shrapnel, Resulting in Fatal Injuries

The defective airbags involved in the urgent recalls involve at least seven different automakers. Indeed, Takata, the Japanese automobile parts manufacturer, provides airbags for many different types of cars, trucks, and SUVs. Back in October, the U.S. government issued “an immediate recall” for nearly 5 million vehicles that were installed with defective airbags. The airbags, in case you have not read about the serious dangers they can pose, “have released metal shrapnel during crashes that has led to the deaths of at least four people.”

Since the federal recall, the consumer website providing information about the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) of those cars implicated has not been working properly. As such, it is important to check your VIN directly to see if your automobile’s airbags could be defective. By early November, the numbers for potentially affected vehicles caught up in this recall looked like this:

  •      778,177 Toyota vehicles;
  •      2,803,214 Honda vehicles;
  •      437,712 Nissan vehicles;
  •      18,050 Mazda vehicles;
  •      573,935 BMW vehicles;
  •      133,221 General Motors vehicles.

As you can see, millions of American drivers are at risk of a serious or fatal injury resulting from the defective Takata airbags. And those numbers continue to grow.

Recall Numbers Grow, More Automakers and Models Implicated

By mid-November, the Takata airbag recall expanded to include more Honda vehicles. According to a report in Autoblog, investigators discovered that a pregnant woman in Malaysia suffered fatal injuries in a car accident when the airbag inflator ruptured. This victim’s case was the first to be reported outside the U.S., and it resulted in the additional recall of about 170,000 Honda vehicles in Europe and Asia. With these additional recalls, the total number of potentially affected vehicles grew to more than 14 million.

Meanwhile, vehicles manufactured by Ford Motor Co. were also added to the list. A report from Automotive News indicated that Ford pickup trucks across the country may have defective Takata Corp. airbags installed in them. The recent death in Malaysia actually alerted the automaker and manufacturer to a previously unknown defect in the airbags. As such, Ford will be adding its 2004 and 2005 model year trucks to the list of Takata recalls, and it will replace both the passenger airbags and the driver’s-side airbags.

If you or a loved one sustained severe or fatal injuries in an accident caused by a defective product, you deserve to be compensated. You may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit and should contact a San Diego defective product attorney to discuss your case.

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Over the last year, we have read many news stories and seen various advertisements related to California’s medical malpractice cap. A ballot initiative, Prop. 46, aimed to raise the current cap to $1.1 million and to allow for inflation adjustments. However, California residents “overwhelmingly voted down Proposition 46,” according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

In addition to voting against the medicameical-malpracticel malpractice cap increase, Californians also voted down an initiative that would have “required routine drug and alcohol testing for hospital doctors,” thereby reducing the number of preventable injuries in hospitals.

Background of the Medical Malpractice Cap Initiative

Just to remind you about Proposition 46 and how it would have changed medical negligence laws, we can take a look at the elements of the initiative. First and foremost, it sought to raise the state’s medical malpractice cap on non-economic compensatory damages from $250,000 to $1.1. million. Noneconomic damages are those for injuries like pain and suffering, which one cannot objectively quantifiy. The $250,000 cap was set back in 1975 with the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). In addition, Proposition 46 would have resulted in some of the following changes:

  • Allowing for additional changes to the cap based on inflation; back in 1975, accounting for inflation, the $250,000 cap is closer to about $57,000 in the 2010s;
  • Requiring hospital doctors to be tested for drugs and alcohol, and requiring doctors that test positive to report their results to the California Medical Board;
  • Requiring the suspension of doctors who test positive for drugs and alcohol, pending an investigation; if the doctor tested positive while on duty, the initiative would have required the California Medical Board to take disciplinary action;
  • Requiring other healthcare professionals to report doctors who may be impaired by drugs or alcohol, or who may have committed medical negligence;
  • Requiring healthcare providers who prescribe medications to consult the California prescription drug history database before providing prescriptions for some controlled substances.

Yet the initiative did not pass, and none of these important changes were made to California law. Why did voters not want to make sure some of these changes went into effect?

Why the Medical Malpractice Initiative Failed

According to the Wall Street Journal article, the “no” votes for Proposition 46 outnumbered the “yes” votes by nearly double—those opposed to the initiative won with a 2-to-1 margin. Why did more voters not say “yes” to Proposition 46?

Advertising may have played a considerable role in the voting numbers. Medical malpractice insurers provided substantial funding for the opposition campaign, raising nearly $58 million in total according to MapLight, which is a “nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that tracks campaign contributions.” All of that funding seems to have washed out the proponents of Proposition 46, who managed to raise about $8.5 million to promote the initiative. As such, the medical malpractice cap for non-economic damages will remain firmly at $250,000.

If you have questions about filing a claim for medical malpractice, it is very important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego medical malpractice lawyer. Although the cap for certain damages remains at $250,000, you may potentially file a claim for substantial compensation for your injuries. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

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file481287608833 (3)Sky-High Ambulance Costs Deter Injury Victims

When you have sustained an injury in a severe accident, it is important to seek immediate medical care.  Only a trained healthcare professional can assess the severity of your injuries, and this assessment can be essential to winning a personal injury lawsuit in Southern California.  Yet the high price of an ambulance ride can deter injury victims from seeking immediate treatment after an accident.  Should ambulance bills really cost such a high price?  And why are they not covered by all health insurance plans?

An article in the New York Times reported that a swim instructor in La Jolla, California sustained an injury in the pool where she worked, and another person at the facility called 911 for an ambulance.  The victim, Kira Milas, 23, had “swum into the side of the pool, breaking three teeth.”  The ambulance arrived, and it took Milas to Scripps Memorial Hospital.  Paramedics applied a neck brace as a precautionary measure.  While Milas is one of the lucky accident victims who did not necessarily require an ambulance trip to the hospital, her story about the massive ambulance bill is all too common in Southern California and, indeed, across the country.

A week after her release from the hospital, Milas received a bill for her fifteen-minute trip to Scripps Memorial Hospital totaling nearly $1,800.  Fortunately for Milas, her ambulance bill was paid by workers’ compensation insurance.  However, it is not uncommon for an ambulance ride like Milas’, covering fewer than ten miles, to cost upwards of $2,000.  For low-income injury victims, the prospect of paying for an ambulance can result in failing to receive the proper treatment and at the right time.

Ambulance Billing and Insurance Coverage

According to the New York Times, ambulance rides—even a few decades ago—used to be provided “free of charge, underwritten by taxpayers as a municipal service or provided by volunteers.”  Now, however, ambulances are run more like other businesses, and they can result in extremely high medical bills.  Indeed, the patient almost always receives the bill for his or her ambulance, and that bill can “range widely, from zero to tens of thousands of dollars.”

Even patients with health insurance can end up with a costly ambulance bill.  To be sure, many patients simply do not have coverage for an ambulance ride.  And the pricing can vary drastically depending on who is running the ambulance.  Some ambulances are run by fire departments and volunteer groups, while other are run by hospitals and private companies.  In short, “no two are alike,” according to Dr. Robert E. O’Connor, who serves as the vice president of the American College of Emergency Medicine.

Given that the pricing varies widely, it is often difficult to estimate the out-of-pocket expenses for a particular patient.  And because ambulances typically only transport patients in emergency situations, there is not a lot of time to “shop around,” so to speak.

If you were injured in an accident, it is important to receive proper medical care.  Although ambulance rides can be expensive, they are very important for ensuring that you get the treatment you need.  In accidents caused by another person’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be eligible to seek financial compensation.  Contact an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.  We may be able to help you negotiate the cost of your ambulance ride in addition to providing counsel for your personal injury claim.

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Spinal Cord Injury Breakthroughs: Fact or Fiction?

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Many Californians who suffered dfile0002014909352ebilitating spinal cord injuries maintain the hope that scientific innovations will result in the possibility to recover from paralysis.  But how realistic is such a cure?  According to a recent article in The Independent, reports of medical breakthroughs often lack the results that most spinal cord injury victims hope for.  Recent reports identified stem cell treatments and the possibility of transplanting regenerative cells into the spinal cord of those suffering from paralysis.  Will these new studies make headway for people across the country who sustained severe spinal cord injuries?

New Treatment May Help Americans with Spinal Cord Injuries

Recently, Professor Geoffrey Raisman of University College London performed a cell transplant on a Bulgarian firefighter who previously suffered from paralysis.  This “pioneering therapy” involved “transplanting regenerative cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord.”  According to Raisman, the treatment “represents an historic change in the outlook for people disabled by spinal cord injury.”

At the same time, however, it is important to remember that this treatment only worked on one person, and it repaired an injury that “was a clean severance of the spinal cord in one location.”  In other words, not all spinal cord injuries are created equal, so to speak.  Indeed, many are much more complex.

And regaining the ability to walk may not be of utmost important to those who suffered spinal cord injuries.  A spokesperson for the Spinal Injuries Association indicated that most people who suffered paralyzing injuries “would put control of the bladder, control of the bowel, and sexual function above actually being able to stand and walk around.”  As such, while breakthroughs in treating spinal cord injuries could be big news for Americans who currently are paralyzed, researchers and surgeons have been taking the news of the recent spinal cord treatment success with cautious optimism.

Spinal Cord Injury Statistics: Who is At Risk?

According to the Mayo Clinic, spinal cord injuries can vary drastically in type and severity.  In general, a spinal cord injury involves “damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal.”  These injuries usually result in severe and permanent changes to a person’s “strength, sensation, and other body functions below the site of the injury.”

Who is at greatest risk?  While spinal cord injuries typically result from unexpected accidents, certain groups of people are at greater risk than others.  The Mayo Clinic identifies some of those at greatest risk of suffering a spinal cord injury:

  • Males are disproportionately affected by spinal cord injuries, making up about 80 percent of reported cases in the United States;
  • Young persons ages 16 to 30 are most likely to suffer a serious spinal cord injury;
  • After young adults, the elderly, those over the age of 65 are most likely to sustain a spinal cord injury in a dangerous fall;
  • Those who take part in risky activities, for instance, playing contact sports without protective gear, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, or diving into shallow water, are more susceptible to life-altering spinal cord injury.

Have you sustained a serious spinal cord injury?  In many cases, the accident that led to the injury was preventable.  You may qualify for financial compensation, and you should contact an experienced San Diego spinal cord injury attorney to discuss your case.

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When automobile drivers tafile000911994102ke their eyes off the road or experience distractions, serious and fatal accidents can occur.  Indeed, according to a recent report from NBC San Diego, a woman suffered fatal injuries after she was struck by an automobile while unloading her car “along a busy La Jolla street.”  The pedestrian accident occurred in the late morning on Girard Avenue, just across the street from Nosh Delicatessen and Orange Theory Fitness, the article reported.

Elderly Driver Strikes Victim

How did the accident happen?  According to reports, the victim, a 45-year-old woman who was a resident of La Jolla, was pinned between her own parked car and the vehicle of the elderly driver who caused the collision.  The driver, a 91-year-old, “backed out of a nearby parking spot on the west side of the street, crossed into the other side, and rammed into the woman,” according to San Diego Police Department Sergeant Joe A. Benavidas.

Benavidas emphasized that the 91-year-old driver stayed at the scene after the collision to answer questions from the police.  While the accident remains under investigation, the San Diego Police Department believes that “speed likely played a factor.”

This part of Girard Avenue—around the 7700 block—is particularly busy.  According to residents of the area, the street often produces “a difficult dance in the afternoons between shoppers and heavy traffic.”  One resident, Justin Rowley, told NBC San Diego that the intersection of Silverado and Girard, near to the victim’s fatal accident, “is always busy with foot traffic and cars.”  As such, if you are a pedestrian, “you always have to watch what you are doing when you are walking across the street.”

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in California

When you lose a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.  What is a wrongful death claim?  It is a civil lawsuit that is brought by the survivors of a person who sustained fatal injuries because of another person’s negligence or bad behavior.

A wrongful death claim is a lot like a personal injury lawsuit in that it allows for recovery of damages following a serious accident and injury.  Here is another way to think about it: if the deceased person had lived, she or he would have been able to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for injuries.  Since the deceased died as a result of those injuries, the survivors can step in and file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased person.

California law specifies that only certain people are eligible to file a wrongful death claim.  Typically, the following people are the ones to bring a lawsuit for another person’s wrongful death:

  •      Surviving spouse;
  •      Surviving children;
  •      Surviving domestic partner.

If the deceased person does not have a surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children, then the following people are the likely ones to file a wrongful death claim:

  •      Surviving parents of the deceased;
  •      Surviving siblings;
  •      Children of deceased siblings;
  •      Surviving grandparents;
  •      Persons who financially depended upon the deceased person.

Pedestrians who sustain severe and life-threatening injuries in traffic collisions may be eligible for compensation.  If you have lost a loved one in a dangerous pedestrian accident, you should speak to an experienced San Diego injury lawyer about filing a wrongful death claim.

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Insurance Policies and Dog-Inflicted Damage

How often do severe dog bite injuries occur?  According to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, dog bite claims are on the rise across the country.  To be sure, data collected by the Insurance Information Institute showed that insurance claims related to animal attack injuries rose by nearly six percent last year, for a total of 17,359 claims.  This figure set a new record established back in 2003.

Across the country last year, aAmerican-Pit-Bull-Terrierverage dog bite insurance claims resulted in payments of about $28,000.  That is up by nearly 45 percent over the last ten years.  And to give this figure another spin, dog bite claims account for more than 33 percent of “all homeowners insurance liability-claim dollars paid out in 2013.”

In response, homeowners insurance policies are getting stricter when it comes to dog-inflicted damage.  Indeed, many insurance companies are charging higher premiums for homeowners with dogs, particularly when they are of a certain breed (such as pit bulls).  Other insurance companies will not cover dog-inflicted damage unless the homeowner has taken his or her dog to pet behavior classes.

California Leads the Pack in Dog Bite Injuries

It may not be surprising to many California residents that dog bite claims have spiked over the last year.  News sources across the state have reported on gruesome animal attacks that left victims in critical condition, according to an article from CBS Sacramento.  For instance, in early October a Modesto woman was attacked by four pit bulls inside her home.  When a relative arrived at the house, that relative also sustained dog bite injuries.  Both victims were reported to be in critical condition.

An article in Reuters recently reported that a man from Southern California whose pit bulls mauled a 63-year-old woman to death was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for second-degree murder.  The victim, Pamela Devitt, was out for a morning walk when the dogs attacked her.  She suffered approximately 200 puncture wounds, according to the report, and died as a result of blood loss.

In 2013 alone, insurance companies in the state of California paid out about $65 million in relation to dog bite claims.  The average of each claim was nearly $34,000.  Why are these settlements so pricey?  In many cases, California’s strict liability law may play a role.  What is strict liability?  In short, a dog owner is responsible for any bad action committed by the dog, regardless of any mitigating circumstances.  In other words, even if the owner was not clearly at fault, that owner is still liable.  So, for instance, if a dog jumps through a screen and attacks a child on the street, the owner is likely still liable for the dog’s behavior.  In a strict liability claim, the victim must only show that the injury occurred, and not that the owner did something wrong or negligent.

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a dog bite accident, you should know that you may be eligible for financial compensation.  Dog bites occur with some frequency in California, and the experienced San Diego dog bite lawyers at the Walton Law Firm can answer your questions today.  Contact us to learn more about how we can assist with your dog bite claim.

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Although the weather is beginning to cool down around the country, diving remains a popular sport in Southern California.  Indeed, lobster diving takes place with frequency at this time of year.  However, fatal diving accidents occur too often, and many of these deadly accidents are preventable.  If you lost a loved one in a diving-related incident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.

Deadly Diving Accident Near Cfile000316008356atalina

According to a recent article in CBS’s KUTV2, a vacationing physician was recently identified as the victim of a deadly diving accident off the coast of Orange County.  The victim, Jared Royer, 40, was on a lobster-diving vacation with a group of other physicians.  Royer’s brother-in-law indicated that it was an annual trip, and Royer “was an experienced diver who had been on several similar trips with his colleagues in previous years,” according to a report in The Spectrum.  The group was diving in Emerald Bay late in the evening, and around 11p.m., the other physicians noticed that Royer had not returned to the boat.

Royer was an anesthesiologist, and he worked in the operating room and birthing center at a Southern Utah hospital.  In addition to his work and prior diving experience, he was an “accomplished triathlete” who had also run the Boston Marathon.

What happened off the coast of Orange County, then?  While autopsy results are pending, early indications suggest that Royer “may have run out of air and made a rapid ascent.”  The accident happened on the third day of Royer’s dive, and according to the other physicians in the group, he was in about 110 feet of water at the time of the incident.

Royer made it to the surface and called for help, but the other divers could not locate him afterward.  After nearly 70 hours in which search and rescue officials from Los Angeles County attempted to locate him, including the Los Angeles County Fire Department dive team, divers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Coast Guard, Royer’s body was found nearly 100 feet underwater at around 11:30a.m.

Diving Accident Trend in Southern California

Since lobster season began on September 27th, Southern California has experienced a striking number of diving-related deaths.  While diving fatalities are more common among inexperienced divers or those with existing medical conditions, these dangerous accidents can happen to anyone.

As of October 2nd, five deaths were already been reported, according to Fox 5 San Diego.  Four of those deaths occurred at night during lobster-diving excursions, and one of the deaths resulted from a diver’s medical complications.  Royer was the fifth fatality reported in just about a week’s time.

What are the primary causes of diving fatalities?  According to statistics from the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN), the following represent the top three causes of death resulting from diving accidents:

  •      A pre-existing medical condition in the diver (such as a disease or other pathology);
  •      Poor buoyancy control;
  •      Rapid ascent or violent movement in the water.

While the overall risk of death during scuba diving is low (only 1 in every 211,000 divers suffers a fatal injury, according to the DAN), nighttime diving in Southern California can prove deadly.  If you lost a loved one in a diving accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego wrongful death lawyer.  You may qualify for compensation.

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