Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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Hit and Run Data in San Diego County

San Diego County has been experiencing several years of “the deadly hit and run,” according to a recent article in Voice of San Diego.  Indeed, between the years of 2008 and 2012, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) reports that more than 17,000 hit-and-run accidents occurred across the county.  In those accidents, nearly 7,000 victims sustained serious injuries and nearly 60 suffered fatal injuries.

TearsWhat’s happening in San Diego County when it comes to deadly car accidents?  Officer Mark McCullough indicated that the sheer number of hit-and-run accidents hasn’t climbed dramatically in the last five years, but the egregiousness of the cases has grown.  For example, in 2014 alone, “11 pedestrians have been hit and killed by drivers who fled the scene,” according to data collected by the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office.  Let’s remember that the average number of deaths is about 10, and we already have 11 heinous cases reported by June of this year.

And to make matters worse, hit-and-run drivers, by and large, are getting away with these crimes.  The San Diego Police Department explained that it has only solved one of the fatal hit-and-runs that have occurred since January.  As early as February of this year, NBC 7 referred to the “spike in hit-and-runs as an epidemic,” and more of these catastrophic collisions have happened since.

Examples of Fatal Hit-and-Run Accidents in San Diego County

In February 2014, San Diego news agencies had reported a “quick succession” of hit-and-run accidents.  On January 31, Seamus O’Bryan, 32, was killed by a white sedan that struck his motorcycle.  O’Bryan had been transporting himself and a friend, Peter Newbigin, who had been visiting San Diego from Australia.  The white sedan “had been traveling in the wrong lane.”  It stopped only briefly after striking O’Bryan’s motorcycle before turning and “speeding out of sight.”

Many people in the area witnessed the crash and called for an emergency medical response team.  However, O’Bryan was pronounced dead less than 30 minutes later.  San Diego detectives “were never able to track down the driver of that white sedan.”

Just three days after O’Bryan’s death, a 23-year-old Albertsons employee, Benjamin Ramirez, died in a hit-and-run accident while walking home from work.  Shortly thereafter, Alonso Flores Pacheco, an 81-year-old man from San Ysidro, was struck and killed in a similar manner.

Accident Resources and Getting Legal Help

As the article points out, the more severe a crime, the more resources that a police department will provide to track down leads.  For hit and run cases that result in fatal injuries, the San Diego Police Department does its best to collect evidence that can lead to an arrest.

However, the traffic division of the San Diego Police Department has only six detectives assigned to it due to budget constraints.  As such, “detectives juggle a stack of cases each day, which include misdemeanor traffic cases as well as felonies, like hit-and-run fatalities.”

Have you been injured in a car accident or lost a loved one because of a fatal hit-and-run collision?  It’s important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego accident attorney, as you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries.  Contact our office to learn more about how we can assist with your case.

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Distracted Driving Fines and Accidents

San Diego Crime Stoppers Addresses Hit-and-Run Accidents

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Distracted driving is a serious problem in Southern California, and it can result in serious car accidents. Whether you’re talking on your cell phone, texting while driving, or even attempting to use a GPS device, distracted driving can lead to catastrophic injuries.  Chula Vista police have been cracking down on distracted drivers.  According to a recent article in CBS 8 San Diego, “seventy south bay motorists were facing fines Monday for using their cellphones while driving.”  This was the fourth “crackdown operation” conducted by Chula Vista police in April.

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Have you sustained injuries in a serious automobile accident?  Has a loved one been injured in a traffic collision caused by a distracted driver?  You may be eligible to file a claim for financial compensation.  At the Walton Law Firm, our experienced San Diego car accident attorneys have been handling cases for years and can answer your questions for you today.

Details of the Chula Vista Cell Phone Crackdown

According to the news report from CBS 8 San Diego, the ticketed drivers were issued citations between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on a Sunday.  Fifteen of them were cited for texting while driving, while the remaining 55 were cited for using a cell phone “in some other manner,” according to the Chula Vista Police.

This crackdown operation was the fourth in the month of April.  On April 10, 15 drivers were cited for texting while driving, while another 60 received citations for cell phone use.  Another operation took place on April 17, when 8 drivers received tickets for texting while driving and 44 were issued citations for additional cell phone use.  A third crackdown operation took place on April 24, when 83 Chula Vista police issued citations to a total of 83 drivers.  Of those motorists, police caught 13 of them texting while driving.  The minimum citation for first-time violator is enough to make Southern California drivers think twice, at a high price of $161.  For repeat offenders, the ticket increased substantially.  Repeat offenders are issued citations of at least $281.

In other words, San Diego drivers who use their cell phones will be ticketed for distracted driving.  In California, all drivers are “required to use hands-free equipment while talking on their cellular telephones,” according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.  In addition to hand-held talking, texting while driving is illegal in California.  In case you didn’t know, there’s a “law against driving while reading, writing or sending a text message,” and the law applies to emails and instant messages, too.

Distracted Driving Statistics

Given the devastating statistics connected with distracted driving, the Chula Vista police department may have saved lives and prevented injuries with its recent crackdowns.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 9 Americans suffer fatal injuries because of distracted driving everyday, and more than 1,060 sustain serious injuries.

Is distracted driving a term that only applies to using a phone in some manner while you’re behind the wheel?  The CDC explains that distracted driving is any kind of “driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving.”  Three primary types of driver distraction exist, and they include:

  •      Visual distraction, which involves “taking your eyes off the road”
  •      Manual distraction, which involves “taking your hands off the wheel”
  •      Cognitive distraction, which involves “taking your mind off of driving”

All three types of distraction can be very devastating, and they can result in severe accidents.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision caused by a distracted driver, it’s important to speak to an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer about your case.  The injury lawyers at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your case with you today.

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San Diego Crime Stoppers Addresses Hit-and-Run Accidents

Fatal Distracted Driving Accident in San Diego

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In recent months, San Diego has seen a number of fatal hit-and-run injuries and serious pedestrian accidents. Most notably, authorities recently asked for help in identifying a truck involved in an Escondido hit-and-run, while a San Diego mother died after being struck by a truck while walking her daughter to school. Is there a way to help curb these hazards in Southern California? According to a recent article from NBC San Diego, the city’s Crime Stoppers group is “looking for ways to help put an end to a recent rash of deaths stemming from hit and run accidents.”

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Based on the report, San Diego has seen a “recent spike in hit and runs,” and it led Crime Stoppers to think about how it can provide financial incentives to catch drivers who flee from the scene of an accident. The organization emphasized that it wants to “help create an incentive that would shake loose more information.” In short, Crime Stoppers believes that the solution may involve “big money for tipsters” who can provide valuable information about hit-and-run accidents.

Have you lost a loved one in a dangerous pedestrian accident? Have you suffered the consequences of a hit-and-run accident? You may be able to file a claim for compensation. At the Walton Law Firm, we know that pedestrian accidents are a serious issue in Southern California, and we can talk to you about your case today.

Recent Hit-and-Run Incidents in Southern California

According to NBC San Diego, the unfortunate hit-and-run trend that seems to be developing in Southern California began on January 31st, when a motorcyclist, Seamus O’Bryan, died after being struck by a white sedan that fled the scene of the crash. Only three days later, a white box truck struck and killed Benjamin Ramirez, 23, as he was walking home from work in Escondido. According to reports, the truck “slowed then left the scene.” Less than one week later, Alonso Flores Pacheco, 81, died while crossing the street in San Ysidro. His son witnessed the accident and noted that the car “just kept going.”

Since hit-and-run accidents often leave victims with severe and sometimes fatal accidents, it can be difficult to catch the drivers who fail to stop. According to Crime Stoppers Officer Jim Johnson, the primary problem with solving hit-and-run crashes is limited information about the driver. Without a clear idea of who caused the accident, solving these “frequent crimes” can be quite a challenge.

Crime Stoppers Hopes to Increase Cash Rewards

Since hit-and-run accidents nearly always rely on witnesses in order to be solved, Crime Stoppers believes it may be able to entice more bystanders to provide information about the drivers who perpetrate these crimes. Johnson told NBC San Diego that Crime Stoppers is operating under the assumption that, if a witness isn’t “willing to call for $1,000, maybe they’ll call for $10,000.” As of right now, the highest reward amount for tips concerning felony hit-and-run cases is $1,000. Higher amounts, like the $10,000 rewards offered for tips in arson cases, are considered “restricted” rewards. Johnson explained that “restricted rewards money is earmarked . . . specifically for a type of case or type of crime.”

Yet, NBC San Diego emphasized, “eyewitnesses are key to solving hit and run crimes.” Indeed, without eyewitnesses, “the trail goes cold quickly.” Crime Stoppers is seeking out private donors to add to the reward amount for tips related to hit-and-run accidents, and they’ll also be asking local governments “to fund a hit and run restricted rewards program in San Diego.”

Have you or a loved one sustained injuries in a car accident? Contact an experienced California accident lawyer today to learn more about filing a lawsuit.

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Truck Crash Kills Mother of Four
The Shelltown community in San Diego suffered a shocking loss last week after a truck accident killed a mother of four and two young children, according to a report in NBC San Diego. A San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) company utility truck driver “plowed into” Anna Herrera Rodriguez, 39, her 5-year-old daughter, and a 4-year-old neighbor. Police investigators at the scene confirmed that the driver had been distracted at the time of the auto accident. This tragic accident confirms that distracted driving and drowsy driving can have life-altering repercussions. No charges have yet been filed, but “the investigation is ongoing, and police said they do plan to pursue charges in this case,” according to NBC San Diego.

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What happened at the scene of the crash? The accident occurred on a Wednesday morning as Herrera was walking the two children to Balboa Elementary School. After the vehicle hit the pedestrians, Rodriguez was pinned under the utility truck. Her 11-year-old son reported that “he walked out of his home moments after the crash only to see his mother critically injured on the ground.” Neighbors heard screaming and described a “horrible scene” in the aftermath of the accident. Several neighbors actually rushed to the scene and lifted the truck from Rodriguez, but she died as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash.

The 4-year-old girl involved in the accident sustained injuries to her chest and leg, and she was taken to a nearby hospital. She was later released and is at home with her family. Rodriguez’s 5-year-old daughter sustained severe injuries in the crash, including liver damage and a fractured pelvis. She was transported to Rady Children’s Hospital where she is still undergoing treatment.

Community members reported that Rodriguez pushed the two girls out of the way in the moments before the collision, sacrificing her life to save theirs. SDG&E issued a statement acknowledging that the driver had been on duty while driving a company vehicle, and emphasizing that it would be “cooperating fully with authorities.”

Distracted Driving Dangers

This isn’t the first accident involved a distracted driver of an SDG&E truck. In fact, NBC San Diego ran a story earlier this month about a fatal hit and run accident on January 6th in El Cajon. An SDG&E driver, Hector Hoyt, was involved in the crash that killed 54-year-old Robert Fisher. According to authorities in that case, Hoyt’s truck struck the victim when he was crossing the street at an intersection. The truck “immediately fled the scene, leaving the pedestrian lying in the middle of the street.” As a result, the victim was run over a second time by a car that didn’t see him in the road. The car occupants remained at the scene and cooperated with police.

Like the recent Rodriguez case, this accident remains under investigation. As such, we don’t know for certain the extent of the reckless driving involved in these accidents, but we do know that driving distractions can be extremely hazardous and even fatal.

Did you know that texting while driving means that your eyes are off the road for a total of 4.6 seconds? While that may not seem like a high number, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “at 55 MPH, that’s like driving an entire football field blindfolded.” The NHTSA reports that distracted driving “is a dangerous epidemic on American’s roadways.” In fact, more than 3,300 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2012. Cell phone use was involved in 18 percent of these accidents.

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a distracted driving accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Don’t hesitate to contact the experienced San Diego accident lawyers at the Walton Law Firm. We can discuss your case with you today.

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Automobiles and Product Defects

Product liability cases frequently involve faulty automobile parts. Sometimes these flaws result in car accidents, while others cause injuries in different situations. These defective product injuries often vary widely, and defects can occur during the design process (before the part is even made), in the manufacturing stage, or at the marketing level. In fact, the recent Toyota fatal acceleration cases have been making news across the country. Recently, however, an article in Automotive News suggested that automobile dealerships might be liable for injuries sustained in defective passenger vehicles. Reporting on a recent California Court of Appeals case, the article explained that dealerships that “inspect and deliver new vehicles on behalf of manufacturers may be held liable for any defect, even if they didn’t actually sell the vehicles and weren’t negligent themselves.”

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In some product liability claims, injury victims may be able to pursue a legal theory of strict liability. In many of these cases, plaintiffs obtain financial compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured by a defective product in the San Diego area, it’s extremely important to speak to an experienced product liability attorney.

Details of the California Case
The California Court of Appeals case referenced here is one against Todey Motor Co., Inc. out of Oxnard, California. The plaintiff, Fernando Ibarra, suffered severe injuries, including paralysis, in a dangerous rollover accident involving a 2000 Chevrolet C3500 pickup purchased from the dealership.

According to the article in Automotive News, “California law has long held that a selling dealership is in the ‘chain of commerce’ for strict liability purposes.” Strict liability simply means that a defendant can be held liable for injuries even if it didn’t act negligently or with an intent to harm the plaintiff. In other words, simply being involved in the “chain of commerce” process involved in making and selling the vehicle, a selling dealership can be required to compensate injured plaintiffs.

But this case was a bit different, as Todey Motor Company wasn’t the seller of the vehicle—instead, it acted as a sort of weigh station between the manufacturer and the selling dealership. Todey did a “pre-delivery inspection” on the truck that didn’t involve examining the truck for any design or manufacturing defects, and it didn’t make a profit from the sale of the truck. Instead, Todey only earned $74.56 for the pre-delivery inspection.

Todey argued that it shouldn’t be liable for Ibarra’s injuries. Specifically, it asserted that it hadn’t actually been involved in the “chain of commerce” since it didn’t receive a profit from the ultimate sale of the vehicle. According to the Automotive News article, the store claimed that it “had received no direct financial benefit from the pickup’s sale, wasn’t integral to bringing the vehicle safely to market, and had no control or substantial influence over its manufacture or distribution.”

A lower court agreed with Todey, but the California appellate court said that Ibarra could go forward with a strict liability claim against the store. In the unpublished decision, the court explained that “Todey’s inspection and delivery of the truck placed it within the vertical chain of distribution for purposes of imposing strict liability for manufacturing or design defects.” Indeed, the court further emphasized that, “although Todey did not sell the pickup, it was the last link in getting the vehicle from its franchisor to the consumer,” and therefore had a “substantial ongoing relationship” to the manufacturer.

This decision suggests that plaintiffs in California may have more avenues of redress when they’ve been injured by a faulty automobile part. If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries in a car accident caused by a product defect, contact the injury lawyers at the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about filing a claim for financial compensation.

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Four Major Bus Crashes in December

Rainy weather in Southern California has made the highways slick and dangerous. Currently, four serious bus crashes have occurred on the California highways in the last month. Some commentators believe the rainy weather contributed significantly to the crashes.

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A tour bus on its way to Valley View Casino, just north of San Diego, crashed and caused serious injuries and one fatality, according to an article in Reuters. The bus accident injured more than 20 passengers when it overturned near Fallbrook in the middle of the afternoon, reported California Highway Patrol Office Jim Bettencourt. According to the article, the bus passengers were older adults on a casino excursion. The crash victims were transported to nearby hospitals, where their injuries were reported as “ranging from minor to serious.” In the hours after the accident, the cause of the charter bus crash remained under investigation.

Similar accidents have occurred since, making for a total of four very serious bus accidents in Southern California in the month of December alone. For example, every passenger on a 30-passengers bus sustained injuries “when it spun out near Corona,” according to an officer on the scene. Many of these passengers suffered minor injuries, “but several were taken to area hospitals with moderate injuries,” reported Reuters. One of those passengers later died from his injuries, according to an article in the Huffington Post. This bus had been on its way from Orange County to a casino in the San Diego area. This crash, too, remains under investigation, but one of the police officers on the scene indicated that “rain might be a factor.”

Does rain often cause serious bus accidents and traffic crashes? Travis Monks, a California Highway Patrol Officer, emphasized that drivers need to take extra precaution when it’s raining in Southern California. According to Monks, “the roadway was wet at the time of the accident.” Rain may also have been a factor in a Riverside County accident in which a Riverside Transit Agency bus “slid sideways and hit a car traveling in the opposite direction,” according to the Huffington Post.

Just a few days later, the Huffington Post reported that a tour bus heading north from a San Diego-area casino crashed off a freeway east of Los Angeles. In this bus accident, the vehicle crashed just after 4:30 a.m. when it careened off an I-10 shoulder. According to the article in the Huffington Post, “the bus wheels went into a small drainage ditch and it came to a rest against a fence and light pole.” The bus had been carrying 40 passengers, and 13 sustained injuries. Of those victims, only two reported moderate injuries, while eleven reported minor injuries.

While investigators haven’t yet determined with certainty whether slick roadways caused these accidents, the slippery highways combined with the speed of the buses likely played a role.

Rainy Highways Can Cause Serious Accidents

Is bus travel safe after heavy California rain? According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management Program, precipitation can significantly impact roadway safety. For instance, rain can lessen visibility distance, and it can cause pavement friction and lane obstruction. In addition, precipitation can negatively affect vehicle performance and driver behavior.

If you or a loved one has recently suffered injuries in a bus accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. It’s important to speak to an experienced California bus accident lawyer. Contact us today to discuss your claim.

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Federal Safety Regulators Shut Down 52 Bus Companies
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Bus accidents happen with some frequency in California, and such mass transit accidents can be especially dangerous. An article in the Huffington Post reported that federal bus safety regulators recently shut down 52 companies due to poor safety records and failures to meet certain standards. In southern California, buses are not only responsible for transporting San Diego residents on daily commutes through the city, but they also provide transportation for school students and senior citizens. And when these buses aren’t safe, victims can sustain severe injuries.

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In California, there’s a statute of limitations for filing a bus accident injury claim. In our state, under California Code of Civil Procedure §335.1, you must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of your accident. If you have been injured in a bus accident, it is extremely important to speak to an experienced California bus accident lawyer.

Motor Coach Industry Statistics

Each year, buses carry about 700 million passengers—that number is pretty similar to the number of yearly passengers on domestic airlines. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal motorcoach crashes don’t happen very frequently. However, when these dangerous accidents occur, statistics suggest that there’s no single factor at work.

For instance, between 1996-2005, the NHTSA conducted research on different types of motorcoach accidents and the related number of fatalities. The study showed that about one-third of the crashes were rollover or turnover crashes, in which passengers often were ejected from the bus. Of the remaining crashes, about one-third resulted from roadside accidents. Then, about one-fourth resulted from multi-vehicle crashes, with the remainder occurring in “non collision” situations. One statistic has remained constant, however: passengers are injured and suffer fatalities much more frequently than drivers when bus crashes occur.

Details of the Federal Shut Downs
One of the most surprising features of the recent government bus company shut downs is that these companies aren’t likely offenders. As the Huffington Post article explains, “the companies aren’t just low-cost, fly-by-night carriers.” In fact, according to Anne S. Ferro, the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), some of these companies have been chartered for school trips and by many different reputable organizations.

The FMCSA began its investigations back in April, looking into about 250 motor coach companies that had “poor safety records.” This set of investigations was known as “Operation Quick Strike,” a project that resulted in part from crashes in bus companies that were known to have “dismal safety records,” the Huffington Post reported.

The FMCSA’s inspectors took a close look at more than 1,300 buses, and they ended up taking 340 of those buses “off the road, at least temporarily.”

Some of the violations included safety problems, as well as maintenance standard violations. In addition, some of the companies violated the “hours of service” rules that prevent bus drivers from being on the road for too long without a taking break.

The FMCSA has faced scrutiny from other federal agencies following fatal bus accidents in California and elsewhere in the U.S., and the recent inspections are intended to correct the problems that might have led to those dangerous accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, you will need experienced legal counsel on your side. Contact an experienced bus accident attorney at the Walton Law Firm today.

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Tour_bus_crash.jpgLess than two weeks after federal authorities closed down 52 tour bus companies nationwide, San Diego has had another bus tragedy. Yesterday in I-15 south, a tour bus carrying 22 passengers lost control on the wet freeway and flipped on its side. One woman, identified as Tayde Murguia, 64, of Van Nuys was killed, and at least 20 others were injured, six seriously.

According to news accounts, the bus was owned and operated by Five Star Bus Charter in Bell, California, and was on its way to Valley View Casino when the accident occurred in I-15 just south of SR-76 near Bonsall.

Coincidentally, another casino-bound bus crashed just up the freeway at nearly the same time. A tour bus on its way to Pala Casino crashed on I-15 near Corona injuring 23 people. That bus, operated by Sina Coach, was reported traveling at unsafe speeds for the weather conditions.

Ironically, these accidents come less than two weeks after federal bus safety regulators announced the shutdown of 52 tour bus companies who were considered to be unsafe. Only one California company, Salcido Tours, was on the list.

Walton Law Firm provides free consultations to individuals who have suffered injury or personal loss due to the negligence or recklessness of others, including cases of car, motorcycle, and tour bus accidents. Call (760) 571-5500 or (866) 607-1325 for a confidential consultation.

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It’s not very often that we hear about hot air balloon accidents. However, hot air balloon rides can be very dangerous, and the owners or operators of the hot air balloon may be liable for resulting burn injuries and other catastrophic damages. Earlier this month, a hot air balloon took off in Southern California over some of the wine country in Temecula, according to an article in US News. Just after the hot air balloon landed, it exploded and caused serious injuries to four people who had been onboard. What kinds of injuries are usually sustained during a hot air balloon accident? And can the victims file negligence claims, seeking recovery for their injuries?

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Hot air balloon cases can involve a number of different types of claims, including those similar to motor vehicle accidents and those connected to burn injuries, as we mentioned, as well as other serious disfigurements. In some circumstances, you may even be dealing with a product defect or a wrongful death lawsuit. While riding in a hot air balloon over Riverside County wine country may sound like a relaxing feat, it ended in serious injuries for the victims earlier in November. If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in any type of motor vehicle accident, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact the California burn injury lawyers at the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about filing a claim.

Details of the Temecula Hot Air Balloon Explosion

After witnesses saw the balloon exploded, news originally circulated that the hot air balloon had crashed, according to an article in NBC Los Angeles. However, the article reported that “officials later clarified that the balloon landed safety before a small explosion occurred.” The balloon landed at 7:44 a.m. on a Saturday morning close to the Temecula vineyards at Vino Way and Calle Cabernet.

According to Mark Annas, the Riverside County Fire Department spokesman, visitors to the Southern California wine region often sign up for these hot air balloon trips, which have grown immensely popular due to the Temecula Valley scenery. There are 35 member wineries across a total of 35,000 acres, according to the Temecula Valley Wine Grower’s Association.

A total of five passengers had been in the vehicle when it exploded, and four suffered serious injuries. Of those victims, the Riverside County Fire Department reported that one was rushed to a burn center. Two other victims were transported to a trauma center, while the third was rushed to a local hospital.

Since the incident occurred, it has been under investigation by the Federal Aviation Agency and the National Transportation Safety Board. The cause of this injurious explosion remains unclear.

Filing a Lawsuit After a California Hot Air Balloon Accident

Were you or a loved one seriously injured in a hot air balloon accident? You may be dealing with severe burns and other life-altering injuries. Who can you sue for compensation? Only an experienced personal injury lawyer can assess the specific elements of your case, but it’s important to know that California law takes into account the potential hazards of hot air balloon travel.

Essentially, all commercial air operators have to provide certain insurance coverage in order to operate their vehicles in California. Under California Code Section 5513, anyone “owning, controlling, operating, renting, managing, furnishing, or otherwise providing transportation by hot air balloon for hire” must have particular liability insurance coverage in the case of an accident.

Have you been injured in an accident? It’s never too soon to contact an experienced California injury lawyer. At the Walton Law Firm, we have years of experience handling claims connected to motor vehicle accidents, burn injuries, and product liability. Hot air balloon accidents might be extremely unlikely, but the recent Temecula explosion reminds us that they do happen, and they cause serious injuries. Contact us today to discuss your claim.

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You might remember a product liability case when talked about back in August concerning the fatal acceleration of a Toyota Camry. The victim, Noriko Uno, 66, died after her 2006 Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated to speeds of more than 100 miles per hour and struck a tree and a telephone pole, according to an article in CNN News. Uno’s family filed a claim against Toyota, arguing that there was a defect in the Camry’s design and that the company should have installed a brake override system. News agencies quickly picked up the story and deemed the lawsuit a “bellwether” case that was likely to influence similar claims arising throughout the country. However, in mid-October, a California jury in the Los Angeles Superior Court returned a verdict in favor of Toyota.

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At the time, Toyota too emphasized that Uno’s suit was a “bellwether,” explaining that the verdict in the company’s favor would “set a significant benchmark that its vehicles are safe with or without a brake override system,” according to CNN News. In a statement on Toyota’s website, the company highlighted its win: “We are gratified that the jury concluded the design of the 2006 Camry did not contribute to this unfortunate accident.” Toyota went on to depict the verdict as an affirmation “that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle at issue in this case.”

As you might remember from our previous post, consumers began complaining about a problem with the Toyota Camry model that caused sudden acceleration. The problem, according to the Los Angeles Times, concerned an electronic throttle system in the vehicles. Despite the loss in California, however, a recent jury verdict in favor of two Oklahoma plaintiffs suggests that Toyota might have to pay more settlements than it initially thought.

A Plaintiff Win and a Toyota Settlement in Oklahoma

After the California verdict, commentators suspected that Toyota likely wouldn’t be held responsible for most of the “sudden acceleration” claims cropping up. However, late in October, an Oklahoma jury decided that Toyota Motor Corp. should pay $3 million in a sudden acceleration case that caused the death of one woman and the serious injury of another, according to an article in Bloomberg. The $3 million includes compensatory damages for both victims, with $1.5 million for each. The jury was set to deliberate on punitive damages in this case when Toyota settled with the victims, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Indeed, the jury found that Toyota had “acted with reckless disregard,” reported the New York Times. The company had reports about problems with the Camry model, and yet they didn’t take steps to correct them. As a result, the jury had planned to award punitive damages. The lawyer for the plaintiffs, J. Cole Portis, said that he was “fully convinced that Toyota’s conduct from the time the electronic throttle control system was designed has been shameful,” and he expressed gratitude for the jury, who “had the courage to let Toyota and the public know that Toyota was reckless.”

A Toyota spokesperson, Carly Schaffner, issued statement in which she explained that Toyota “strongly disagreed with the verdict,” but that the company was “satisfied that the parties reached a mutually acceptable agreement to settle this case.” Legal analysts have underscored the connection between Toyota’s settlement and the company’s likely desire to avoid having to pay punitive damages.

What Happened Between California and Oklahoma?

While it’s upsetting to learn that the California jury who heard Uno’s case found in favor of Toyota, the recent Oklahoma settlement suggests that Toyota might be willing to take more responsibility for its defective products. Indeed, legal analysts have emphasized that “the verdict could give a lift to plaintiffs in other cases.”

Have you or a loved one been injured by a defective product? Consumers file product liability claims everyday, and the dedicated team of California product liability lawyers at the Walton Law Firm can speak to you today about your case.

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