Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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Regardless of age, car accidents can cause serious and fatal injuries. Yet all auto accidents don’t produce the same level of damage or personal injuries. Indeed, some traffic collisions are more severe than others. However, when younger people sustain minor or moderate injuries in an auto crash, they tend to recover more quickly than older adults, according to a recent article in Science Daily. Given that information, it’s important to think carefully about the long-term injuries and problems the elderly can face after a car accident.Four Wheels In The Air, Plate 4

Measuring Quality of Life After a Traffic Collision

A recent study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine reported that “many seniors injured in motor vehicle crashes remain in pain for months afterwards, which negatively affects their quality of life, including the ability to live independently.” Indeed, according to Timothy Platts-Mills, MD, MSc, “the types of injuries that younger people recover from relatively quickly seem to put many seniors into a negative spiral of pain and disability.” Platts-Mills is the lead author of the study, and his academic home is in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Many seniors suffer injuries in car accidents, and Platts-Mills emphasizes the importance of analyzing their ability to recover after they’re involved in a collision. His research is particularly relevant given that America’s senior population is expected to double in the next twenty years.

Platts-Mills’ study looked at patients who required emergency room treatment for injuries they sustained in car crashes. At the time of the emergency room evaluation, about three-quarters of those in the study indicated they were experiencing “moderate to severe pain.” Six months later, more than one-quarter of those patients “were still reporting moderate to severe motor vehicle crash-related pain.”

And for those patients with persistent pain, nearly 75 percent of them “experienced a decline in their physical function,” while nearly 25 percent “experienced a change in living situation in order to obtain additional help.” In other words, car accident injuries can dramatically impact the daily lives—in the long term—of older adults who suffer moderate to severe injuries. Older adults who experienced lasting pain after a car accident were also “twice as likely to have visited the emergency department at some point during the 6 months after the motor vehicle crash.”

Preventing Car Accidents Among the Elderly

For Platts-Mills, learning about ways to identify patients who are likely to experience lasting pain upon a first emergency visit can allow physicians to begin therapies early on to deal with chronic pain. But in such cases, older adults still suffer significant pain from auto accident injuries. How can we prevent accidents from happening in the first place? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses that “the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as you age.” To be sure, more than 580 seniors, on average, suffer injuries each day in auto accidents.

The CDC recommends the following for preventing traffic collisions among the elderly:

  • Wearing seatbelts anytime you’re behind the wheel;
  • Only driving when conditions are good: driving during daylight hours and avoiding inclement weather can help seniors to avoid car accidents;
  • Exercising on a regular basis to improve flexibility and strength behind the wheel;
  • Having eyes checked on a regular basis;
  • Planning or mapping out your route before you get into the car;
  • Avoiding driving distractions, including cell phone use; and
  • Considering driving alternatives, such as public transportation or riding with a family member to your destination.

If your elderly parent or loved one recently sustained injuries in an auto accident, you should contact a San Diego car accident lawyer to learn more about filing a claim for compensation.

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Road Safety and Summer Vacations

Car Recalls: What Should You Know?

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San Diego officials recently announced the launch of a program called “Vision Zero,” which aims to “eliminate traffic deaths by 2025” and to “make the city more pedestrian and bike-friendly,” according to a report from NBC San Diego. Many of us have read news stories about hit-and-run accidents in the San Diego area, as well as severe pedestrian and bicycle accidents that occur on our streets. The new program aspires to put an end to such accidents in the next ten years.2300190277_360853ae0d

Slowing Down the Speed with “Vision Zero”

What’s involved in a program created to end traffic fatalities within a decade? According to Jim Stone, the Executive Director of Circulate San Diego, the most important part of the initiative is its focus on safety. In other words, we need to take a look at the reasons for the program in order to understand how it might help to reduce traffic-related deaths in the city. As Stone explained, “We have a traffic fatality rate in San Diego that’s greater than our murder rate.”

One of the first orders of business is speed of travel. Speeding is a serious problem, and it’s a type of aggressive driving that’s responsible for numerous preventable accidents. For instance, Juniper Aavang suffered fatal injuries in a traffic collision caused by speeding just a couple of months ago “as her father pushed her in a stroller through a crosswalk at the intersection of Catalina and Cannon in Point Loma.”

Stone elaborated on the cause of the death, explaining, “we know that if someone is hit by a car going 40 miles per hour they have a 20 percent chance of surviving a crash.” Given those statistics, one of the primary goals of Vision Zero is “to slow things down to a safer speed.”

City Planning Measures Can Help to Reduce Speeding

If we know that speeding is a serious problem, what steps can be taken to help reduce it? The architects of Vision Zero are looking to areas such as Allison Street, which is next to La Mesa City Hall. There, “diagonal parking lines reduce the size of the street.” According to Stone, “studies show smaller streets help slow traffic.”

But it’s not just about reducing the urge to drive fast. To be sure, Vision Zero will also need to take steps to increase pedestrian visibility. Crosswalk lights on the ground, for example, can help to alert drivers that they need to stop. In addition, more signs pointing to crosswalks and curb extensions can help to reduce pedestrian fatalities. As you might imagine, some of these methods are relatively easy to implement—adding pedestrian-crossing signs to crosswalk areas can be accomplished with relative ease, and diagonal parking lines should be relatively straightforward to implement. However, curb extensions could take more time.

Curb extensions are very important in the Vision Zero scheme, though. With curb extensions, pedestrians “can see cars coming, but more importantly the cars can see them coming.” As such, Stone articulates, “it’s a great way to improve pedestrian safety.”

Vision Zero will hone in on “eight major corridors” in San Diego, including University Avenue, Market Street, and El Cajon Boulevard. News agencies recently reported that University Avenue is the most dangerous street for pedestrian accidents in our city. Getting the program underway will cost about $15 million.

Contact a San Diego Accident Attorney

Let’s hope that “Vision Zero” can help to eradicate the car crashes and traffic fatalities that plague Southern California. In the meantime, traffic-related accidents do happen. If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto collision or a pedestrian accident, you should discuss your case with an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer. An advocate at the Walton Law Firm can speak with you today.

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Fatal Pedestrian Accident in La Jolla

Police Looking for Hit-and-Run Driver After Escondido Pedestrian Fatality

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Many San Diego residents decide to take vacations during the summer months, but traffic collisions can occur without warning. Whether you’re a weekend getaway or a family vacation is in your future, it’s important to think about highway safety. To be sure, a recent article from CNN emphasized that, beginning with Memorial Day, May through August are among the busiest road travel months of the year. As such, it’s important to stay cautious when you’re behind the wheel and to do everything you can to prevent a fatal car accident.4104830230_8176dd136f

Vacation Travel on the Highway

On the Memorial Day holiday alone, AAA estimates that about 33 million Americans take a trip that involves road travel. Indeed, the weekend “brings the start of the summer driving season” to our country, including to the scenic highways of California. At the same time, however, “between now and Labor Day can be one of the most dangerous times of the year to be behind the wheel.” As a result, it’s essential to think about safety matters.

One of the most important actions you and your family can take is, simply, to buckle up when you’re in an automobile. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more Americans than ever are using seat belts. Indeed, “Seat belt use reached an all-time high of 87 percent in 2013.” Yet many California residents still need a reminder to wear their seat belts. Nearly 50 percent of all Americans who died in car accidents last year weren’t buckled up.

In addition to wearing a seat belt, it’s also important to think carefully about your teenager’s driving experience. While a lot of teenagers in San Diego hope to take road trips once school lets our, “inexperience can put them at greater risk for accidents.” If you are going to allow your teenager to get behind the wheel this summer for a trip with friends, you should remind him or her about the dangers of distracted driving with the following rules:

  • Don’t use a smartphone in the car;
  • Limit the number of passengers in your teen’s vehicle; and
  • No nighttime driving.

Summer also tends to mean more roadside construction. It’s easier for construction crews to do some of the necessary repairs to our highways, and as such it’s essential to drive slowly in construction zones. Construction can also lead to detours, and you’ll need to stay alert to avoid getting lost or causing an accident.

Safety Tips for Long Drives and Road Trips

In addition to general safety tips for summertime driving, you should also consider particular issues that can arise on road trips and longer highway stints. An article in Independent Traveler provides some important tips for long hauls on the road:

  • Make sure to get enough sleep before you hit the road.
  • Take breaks and pull over, even if you don’t think you’re tired.
  • Share the drive with other reliable adults.
  • Don’t break cell phone laws in other states—know the laws before you set out, and don’t get distracted by using a smartphone while you’re on the road.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before your road trip.
  • Have a plan for inclement weather, including potential detours.
  • Always bring a map, as GPS devices aren’t infallible.
  • Have your vehicle tuned up before you get on the road.
  • Become a member of AAA or another roadside assistance program.

If you or someone you love recently sustained a serious injury in an auto accident, it’s important to discuss your situation with an experienced San Diego car accident attorney. Depending on the specific facts of your case, you may be eligible to file a claim for financial compensation.

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Car Recalls: What Should You Know?

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Late last month, a commuter train crash led to 30 serious personal injuries. Now, the top prosecutor in Ventura County is deciding whether or not to bring criminal charges, according to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report.

Train accidents and derailments can be devastating, often resulting in severe and fatal injuries. If you or someone you love has been injured in a train collision, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak with an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer. You may be able to file a claim for compensation.

Details of the Train Accident

What happened in Oxnard? According to reports, three out of five train cars on a Metrolink commuter train derailed after it crashed into a truck in the early hours of the morning. Images from the crash show that the derailed cars “tumbled onto their sides,” leaving four people with critical injuries. Investigators initially arrested the truck driver, Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, for “leaving the scene of an injury accident.” Given that many Southern California cities have witnessed a rise in hit-and-run accidents over the last year, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that law enforcement agencies are taking the train crash very seriously.

Investigators have indicated that they continue to seek information about the crash, and a video of the train derailment was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C. for additional analysis, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. By and large, investigators aren’t exactly sure how the accident happened.

Sanchez-Ramirez argues that, while driving his Ford F-450 truck and trailer over the track, it “became stuck,” and Sanchez-Ramirez “tried unsuccessfully to get it moving again.” When he saw the train coming, he got out of the vehicle and “ran for help,” his attorney indicated. The driver’s lawyer pointed out that Sanchez-Ramirez did all that he could to prevent the accident, as he “turned on his high beams and tried to extricate the truck from the tracks, even getting out to push it, but it wouldn’t move.”

Reports indicate that the Metrolink train crashed into the truck, turning Sanchez-Ramirez’s vehicle into “a fireball,” which resulted in 28 passengers being rushed to nearby hospitals. The train engineer, in addition to two other passengers, remained in critical condition as of late last week.

Liability for the Dangerous Crash

Who is liable for the accident? Sanchez-Ramirez’s initial arrest suggests that the truck driver may have behaved not only negligently, but also criminally, when he fled the scene. However, investigators have emphasized that they need to finish their investigation before any decisions will be made about a criminal prosecution.

We do know that the police located Sanchez-Ramirez more than a mile from the scene of the crash. The driver also has a history of traffic violations, including a DUI, failure to obey a police officer, and failure to obey a traffic control device.

Even if prosecutors don’t elect to file criminal charges, the driver still may be liable for damages. When a loved one suffers injuries in a serious automobile accident, it’s important to talk with an experienced California accident lawyer about your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist you.

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California Bus Crash Report

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Every year, thousands and thousands of car recalls take place. For many Americans, hearing about a product defect can be very scary. But are all recalls emergency situations? A large number of these recalls aren’t going to have a serious effect on the drivers. According to a recent article from ConsumerReports.org, numerous recalls happen for “less than perilous reasons.”

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For example, “sometimes they’re for something as benign as a mislabeled sticker.” Or, in other cases, “durability tests find a suspension spring could wear out prematurely.” And even if your car is subject to a more serious recall, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll experience that problem. To be sure, “a vast majority of affected cars will never experience the potential problems outlined in a recall notice.”

Yet many of us aren’t always sure how to tell the difference between a relatively benign and a more serious recall. How can you learn specific details about recalls and whether you need to pay particular attention? And in the event that your car is recalled for a significant reason, what should you do?

Recent Recalls and Consumer Injuries

In 2014, a number of automobile recalls shook the news. Nearly 8 million recalls took place for cars that had certain Takata airbags installed. If you’ve been reading about the Takata air bag recall, you know that these automobile parts “are prone to explode in collisions, spraying passengers with shrapnel,” and “sometimes with fatal results.” Some of the automakers that use Takata airbags include GM, Honda, Toyota, and BMW. Honda was just recently fined $70 million for failing to report more than 1,700 injuries and deaths that occurred in its automobiles, according to an article in the Washington Post.

In addition to the Takata recall, GM also recalled about 2.6 million vehicles in 2014 due to a defective ignition switch. In certain cases, these cars could simply turn off during operation, resulting in serious and fatal accidents. And just shortly before news about the GM recall hit the internet, Toyota and Lexus recalled more than 10 million automobiles because of a problem that resulted in “unintended acceleration” and deadly car accidents.

Learning About a Recall

How do most of us find out about recalls? Whether an auto manufacturer issues a recall for a minor or a serious problem, it will contact car owners by snail mail or email, and it will provide instructions for having the defective part repaired or replaced. How long does an automaker have to alert you to the recall? Once it has informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the recall, it must let you know within 60 days.

If you find out that your car is part of a recall, you should follow the instructions—which usually involve visiting the nearest dealership—and have the fix or replacement completed. In some cases, the dealership won’t have the parts in stock that are needed for the repair. In such a case, you should find out if the recall “involves a key operating component, such as the acceleration, brake, steering, suspension, or fuel systems.” If it does, and the automaker suggests that you stop driving the vehicle until it can be repaired, it “should tow your car to a dealership and provide a loaner.”

Social Media and Product Recalls

If you want to stay informed about product recalls, social media can provide very useful tools. For example, you can follow your automaker on Twitter or Facebook. After GM instituted its massive recalls, it began using these precise social media platforms to let consumers know that they needed to pay attention.

If you do sustain an injury from a defective car part, you should always report the problem to the NHTSA and contact an experienced San Diego product defect attorney. You may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries.

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Do Product Recalls Prevent Consumer Injury?

Dangerous Airbag Recall Expands

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Was 2014 really the year of the deadly hit-and-run accident in Southern California? Three deadly collisions that occurred just before the end of the year don’t bode well for car accident prevention and pedestrian fatalities in 2015. Hit-and-run crashes often are preventable, but when they do happen, it’s important to remember that you have legal rights.

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Deadly Pedestrian Accidents in the San Diego Area

According to a recent article from NBC 7 San Diego, police have been dealing with a number of serious and fatal hit-and-run collisions at the end of the holiday season. By December 29, authorities were investigating three separate hit-and-run accidents that occurred on the same day in National City, City Heights, and Oceanside, respectively.

How did these deadly accidents happen, and could they have been prevented? The first accident occurred in the early hours of the evening at around 6:30 p.m. in National City. An elderly pedestrian, Armando Guerrero, 75, had been crossing the street in a crosswalk. While in the bounds of the crosswalk, a white pickup truck struck Guerrero before fleeing the scene. The victim sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene of the collision. Authorities have yet to locate the truck involved in the crash, which they believe to be an older-model Nissan or Toyota with front-end damage.

A second pedestrian accident occurred at around the same time. In this case, the victim was a 23-year-old man who had been standing on a center divide near 52nd Street and University Avenue in City Heights. According to U-T San Diego, police received a call about a hit-and run accident at 6:21 p.m. on December 29th, and emergency responders rushed to the area. However, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Almost concurrently, another 24-year-old man sustained fatal injuries in a hit-and-run accident near Camp Pendleton. The victim tried to cross Interstate 5, and he was struck by more than one vehicle, according to police reports.

And hit-and-run accidents aren’t the only ones taking place near San Diego. Just a day prior to these deadly accidents, a tow truck driver was seriously injured in another collision in Encinitas. The tow truck driver responded to an accident that occurred early in the morning on the northbound side of Interstate 5, according to a report from NBC 7 San Diego. That accident involved only property damage, and required that one of the cars be towed from the interstate. An oncoming car “collided into the tow driver as he was attempting to get the vehicle up on the back of the tow truck.”

Hit and Run Facts and Figures

Hit-and-run accidents are on the rise in the San Diego area, but they’re also happening with more frequency across the country. A report in USA Today suggested that hit-and-run collisions are becoming epidemic in a number of major American cities, in particular in Los Angeles and San Diego. The number of fatal accidents of this type reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the last several years confirms this trend:

  •      2009: 1,274 fatal hit-and-run accidents
  •      2010: 1,393 fatal hit-and-run accidents
  •      2011: 1,449 fatal hit-and-run accidents

The NHTSA continues to collect data on hit-and-run fatalities between 2012-14, but the early numbers appear to show a continuation of the upward trend. Can we make 2015 a year of pedestrian safety in San Diego? Time will tell whether hit-and-run prevention measures can help to decrease the occurrence of these deadly accidents.

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a serious hit-and-run accident, you should speak to an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer today.

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Fatal Pedestrian Accident in La Jolla

More Hit-and-Run Accidents in San Diego

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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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More GM Recalls Amidst Release of Defect Report

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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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The Deadliest Year for the Hit-and-Run?

Have hit-and-run accidents become a serious problem in the San Diego area?  At the beginning of the summer, we told you about recent data suggesting that San Diego County is experiencing increasing incidents of deadly hit-and-run crashes.  By June of 2014, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) catalogued more than 17,000 of these dangerous collisions.  Those accidents resulted in 60 fatalities, and left more than 7,000 seriously injured.

Are pedestrian fatalities becoming the norm in Southern California?  According to a recent story from NBC San Diego, deadly hit-and-run accidents continue to happen in our area.

Marine Dies in Hit-and-Run Accident

The frightening trend surrounding hit-and-run accidents continued over the summer.  An active duty Marine suffered fatal injuries after he was struck by a box truck in Oceanside, California.  The 22-year-old Marine, Joseph Bizzarro, was riding his motorcycle when the truck hit the back of his bike.  Bizzarro “suffered major blunt head trauma,” while the “truck driver fled from the scene,” according to NBC San Diego.

The truck was identified as a “Bfile5051241612699udget Rental.” The driver attempted to make an illegal U-turn in front of the motorcyclist; after realizing the truck’s intended movement, Bizzarro was not able to stop in time.  Bizzarro was riding his bike to the military base when the accident occurred.

Emergency medical responders arrived on the scene the morning of the accident, and Bizzarro was airlifted to a local hospital, where he was placed on life support.  He died as a result of his injuries several hours later.

In Bizzarro’s case, the hit-and-run driver actually “changed his mind and returned to the scene,” according to Oceanside police.  The driver, Ezequiel Garcia, was arrested for a felony hit-and-run accident.  Later reports indicated that Garcia was driving on an expired driver’s license.

Bizzarro’s wife has mobilized members of the community to remember her husband and to seek justice.  In an interview with NBC San Diego, she emphasized that she wants Garcia to receive the maximum punishment for his role in the Marine’s death.

Hit-and-Run Laws in California

In California, an offender can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for a hit-and-run offense. Under the California Vehicle Code, one can be charged with a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an accident without identifying one’s self to those involved in the crash, and if another person’s property sustained damage in the collision.

One can be charged with a felony hit-and-run offense for leaving the scene of an accident without identifying one’s self to those involved in the crash, and if another person sustains an injury, which can run from a minor injury to a fatality.  In other words, a misdemeanor hit-and-run offense deals with property damage, while a felony offense applies to situations where a person suffers an injury–the seriousness of the injury does affect the charge.

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a dangerous hit-and-run accident, contact a San Diego car accident lawyer as soon as possible.  We may be able to help you secure compensation for your injuries.

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Deadly Hit and Run Accidents in San Diego

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Earlier this month, a cyclist suffered catastrophic injuries after being struck by a wrong-way driver on Fiesta Island, according to a recent story from NBC San Diego.  Other riders in San Diego’s cycling community explained that the victimDSCN1797, Juan Carlos Vinolo, 49, sustained serious injuries after pushing another cyclist out of the way of the oncoming vehicle.  The car accident left Vinolo paralyzed with a severe spinal cord injury.

Wrong-Way DUI Driver Seriously Injures Bicyclists

Vinolo was riding with about thirty other cyclists, members of the San Diego Bicycle Club.  Vinolo’s wife, Emma Irarragorri, told NBC San Diego her husband “is always obsessed with safety when he rides his bicycle.”  When her husband saw the oncoming car, he “instinctively pushed the leader out of harm’s way,” saving that cyclist’s life but suffering serious injuries in the bicycle accident.

The auto accident caused serious injuries to other members of the San Diego Bicycle Club as well.  According to the article, the “impact of the crash shattered the car’s windshield and sent at least 10 cyclists to the hospital with injuries ranging from facial cuts to bruised ribs.”  Vinolo, however, was the most seriously injured of anyone on the group.  His injuries included two punctured lungs, broken ribs, a broken left clavicle, dislocated left shoulder, loss of one kidney, spleen laceration, and six broken vertebrae.

According to one of the cycling teammates, Logan Bass, several cyclists saw the car approaching and attempted to get out of the way.  Bass remembers seeing Vinolo on top of the car, and another cyclist on the car’s windshield.  Bass sustained a contusion to his ribs and a cut on his foot.  Although he spent two days in the hospital, he and the other cyclists are most concerned about Vinolo.

Police arrested and charged the vehicle’s driver, Theresa Lynn Owens, 49, with driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance.

Bicycle-Related Injuries: Facts and Statistics

How often do bicycle accidents occur?  In general, only about 1 percent of all trips taken in our country are on bicycle. Yet cyclists face a much higher risk of crash-related injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Some important facts about bicycle crashes:

  • In 2010, about 800 bicyclists sustained fatal injuries in collisions;
  • About 515,000 emergency room visits take place each year due to bicycle-related injuries;
  • On average, serious and fatal crash-related injuries result in medical costs and productivity losses of about $5 billion annually.

Who is at risk in a serious or fatal bicycle accident?  Risk factors include:

  • Age: Adolescents between the ages of 15-24 and adults aged 45 and older are at the highest risk of a bicycle accident fatality.  The highest rate of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries occurs among children under the age of 15.  In fact, about 60 percent of all bicycle-related injuries involve children under the age of 15.
  • Sex: The CDC reports that males are “much more likely to be killed or injured” in a bicycle-related accident than are female cyclists.
  • Area: Urban areas are much more dangerous for bicyclists, particularly at non-intersection locations.

Even nonfatal bicycle accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, including spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.  If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in a bicycle accident or traffic collision, it is important to discuss your case with a San Diego accident lawyer.  We can help you to seek compensation for your injuries.

Photo Credit: pippalou via morgueFile

See Related Blog Posts:

Preventing Bicycle Accidents with San Diego Bike Loop

Cyclist Dies in Carlsbad Accident