kalu-ci-146209-300x200For many San Diego residents, the relatively recent and seemingly ever-expanding Takata air bag recall was a source of anxiety and frustration. As you may remember, the Takata air bags installed in dozens of different automobile makes and models ran the risk of exploding as a result of a defective inflator, causing severe and life-threatening shrapnel injuries, and some victims even died as a result of their injuries. Over the last several weeks, Takata news stories have largely focused on culpability for the Takata executives who may have known about the serious product defect yet did not take steps to remedy the issue before consumers got hurt. However, according to a recent article in CNET.com, there is a new Takata air bag safety issue that has prompted another recall.

What do you need to know about the new recall, and what should you do if you drive one of the affected vehicles?

New Takata-Sourced Air Bag Product Defect

Lately, we have had several clients who were treated at Palomar Medical Center after being injured in car accidents (or other accidents), and were asked by hospital staff how the accident occurred, and whether the patient/client intended to hire a lawyer (remember, the accident just happened). The Palomar employee then informs the patient that it will not likely be billing the patient’s health insurance, but will wait and submit medical bills to the patient’s lawyer, and wait to get paid out of the case.

This situation causes a fair amount of confusion to the patient, and a high dose of concern. Some of these patients call to see if the hospital can do this, and worry that they will personally be on the hook for medical bills.

Can Palomar Hospital do this? The short answer is Yes. Under California’s Hospital Lien Act, a hospital that provides medical services to a person injured by an accident or some other wrongful act may place a lien on the damages recovered from the negligent party “to the extent of the amount of the reasonable and necessary charges of the hospital.” Civ. Code § 3045.1.  But what the hospital can recover is not absolute. For example, it cannot take more than half of any amount recovered by the injured party. Also, its lien is secondary to other liens. So, for example, if you hired a lawyer before the hospital perfected its lien, the hospital’s lien would be secondary to your attorney’s lien for fees. Since most personal injury fee arrangements are one-third of the recovery, Palomar could only make a claim for up to half of the rest, which is roughly 33%.

ian-schneider-38957-300x200While beaches in Carlsbad and Oceanside are popular throughout the year, these beaches grow particularly crowded during the summer when the risk of a drowning accident increases. According to a recent article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, a drowning death in Carlsbad last summer has left members of the community “looking for ways to improve safety at its three-quarter-mile North Beach before the busy season returns.” Currently, that area of the beach, which is very close to Oceanside, does not have lifeguards on duty. In the event of an emergency, state lifeguards will “respond from the nearby state beach.” However, safety advocates argue that such a response is insufficient.

Developing a Plan to Make Carlsbad Beach Area Safer

The City Council, according to the article, wants its staff to “develop a plan on how to make the beach safer, including the possibility of adding lifeguards there.” According to City Manager Kevin Crawford, City Council staff members will conduct research into different safety options and will seek involvement from Carlsbad residents before providing the City Council with “some options that could be implemented before summer.” As Crawford clarified, “It’s going to be a push . . . a lot of work, but I think we can do it.”

rmwtvqn5rzu-jesse-orrico-300x199If you or someone you love recently sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in San Marcos, you likely have many questions about how you will get medical care. Currently, regional disability services are not available to victims of TBIs when they sustain them after the age of 18, according to a report from KHTS Santa Clarita News. However, newly proposed legislation aims to allow younger California residents—between the ages of 18 and 22—to receive access to regional disability services. The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 283, is a measure introduced by State Senator Scott Wilk, a Republican from Santa Clarita.

If the bill passes, how will it better serve TBI victims in California? What else should you know in the meantime about traumatic brain injuries?

Senate Bill 283 Aims to Provide Disability Services to Broader Population

Walton_Law_Firm_FB_Ads_San_Marcos_Version4-216x300Eric S. is an avid triathlete. In his early 50s, he is a top age group finisher in the triathlons he enters. To train, he spends many weekly hours on his bike on North County roads. It’s not uncommon for him to ride from his home in San Marcos east through Escondido toward the desert, or west through Carlsbad and up to San Clemente. Like most avid cyclists, he has had many close calls with inattentive drivers, and on January 11, 2011 his luck finally ran out.

On that day, Eric was riding his bike in the bike lane of El Norte Parkway in Escondido when he was cut off by a pickup truck. Eric collided with truck, and the impact knocked him off his bike and into a busy traffic lane. Luckily, he wasn’t struck when he hit the ground. The California Highway Patrol who investigated and made a report of the incident, concluded that the driver of the pickup was at fault for this accident when he failed to yield the right of way to Eric in violation of 22107 of the California Vehicle Code.

Eric was taken to Palomar Medical Center from the scene of the accident, and complained of right shoulder and arm pain, as well as pain to his lower ribs and chest. He didn’t lose consciousness, but he did hit his head hard enough to crack his helmet.  Several CT scans were taken which showed that Eric suffered a right clavicle fracture and a right inferior scapula fracture, as well as friction burns and multiple contusions to his chest, ribs and back.

anja-137284-300x225What are some of the most common causes of fatal teen driving accidents in San Diego? According to a recent report from NBC San Diego, a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that speeding, a form of aggressive driving, and distracted driving top the list for common causes of deadly, yet preventable, crashes involving teens. It is important for teens who are getting behind the wheel in Southern California to recognize their own limited experience and to take extra precautions to avoid a dangerous or life-threatening car accident, but the impetus should also be on parents to ensure that their teenage drivers understand the serious risks associated with aggressive and distracted driving.

Details of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Report

As the report explains, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently conducted a large-scale study that aimed to determine the common causes of fatal accidents among teenage drivers. What did the survey determine? Over the last five years, “speeding was one of the top mistakes made by teen drivers in fatal crashes across the country.” The report indicated that teenagers have been drivers in around 14,000 deadly collisions during the time period, and of those crashes, about “4,200 involved speeding.” To put that number another way, around 30% of all fatal teen car accidents involved speeding. Yet it is often the other driver or drivers in the crash who suffer the consequences of the teen’s choices.

91px-Galago_spine_Mivart-46x300According to a recent study conducted at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and reported in Digital Journal, certain hospital-acquired infections at San Diego healthcare facilities can have a long-term negative impact on spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. SCI patients who acquire pneumonia and other infections while at the hospital being treated for their catastrophic injuries see a drastic impact on their ability to recover. Specifically, the report indicates that “hospital-acquired pneumonia and wound infections negatively affect the clinic long-term outcome after acute traumatic spinal cord injury.” The study appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology.

Importance of Reducing Hospital-Acquired Infections in California

One of the most significant takeaways from the recent Ohio State study is that hospitals must do more to prevent hospital-acquired infections if they are going to see spinal cord injury patients recover to the best of their abilities. Patient protection demands that hospitals take additional steps to reduce the rate of hospital-acquired infections if they are going to take patient safety seriously. As the report explains, “rates of microbial infections in hospitals, although falling due to improved hygiene, remain problematic.”

800px-Guardian_Interlock_AMS2000_1-300x225There is a new impaired-driving law that will take effect in San Diego in 2019, but right now, the law is already in force in certain counties in California, according to a report from AutoConnectedCar.com. Late last year, California Governor Brown signed SB 1046 into law, a piece of legislation that “establishes a statewide ignition interlock device (IID) program to prevent drunk drivers from re-offending.”

Background Information: SB 1046 and the Ignition Interlock Device Program

Given that impaired driving is a major cause of car accidents in California, it is important to take steps to prevent these crashes from occurring in the first place. Changes to California’s law when it comes to ignition interlock devices could be one such significant step in prevent crashes caused by alcohol-impaired driving. According to David Kelly, the Executive Director of the Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers (CIIM), “this new law is a positive step forward to help slow the revolving door of unlicensed, uninsured drunk drivers who continue driving at the public’s peril.”

Law professor Jane Siegel has spent more than two decades doing the things she loves: teaching law students and lawyers, and riding her Harley Davidson motorcycle. Last June, however, when the retired Marine Corp Colonel was riding to work on the southbound I-15 in Escondido, California, she was clipped by a Volkswagen Beetle car who merged into her lane without looking. Jane and her bike went down hard, and at 60 miles per hour she somersaulted across the concrete freeway before coming to a rest. As one would imagine, the injuries were severe. Jane was alive, but she had numerous broken bones requiring surgery, and spent the next several months in hospitals, rehab facilities, and at home in bed.

When well enough, she knew she needed legal representation, and many lawyers to choose from considering she had over the years trained several hundred San Diego lawyers. When it came time to pick up the phone she called Randy Walton at Walton Law Firm, a lawyer she taught over 20 years ago, and one she had always respected. The feeling was mutual. Randy was honored to take the case of his former professor, someone he always admired.

Here at Walton Law Firm we love happy endings. Jane is healing well and back on her motorcycle, and Randy was able to get Jane a very sizable monetary recovery for the damages she suffered in her motorcycle accident. In her appreciation for the work of Walton Law Firm, Jane sent Randy the following letter:

MYSINGSO-byk-300x116Did you recently purchase a beach chair at the IKEA store in San Diego on Fenton Parkway? While IKEA can be a great option for purchasing reasonably priced furniture, a recent report from the Newport Beach Patch indicates that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a safety recall of a number of the furniture store’s beach chairs due to the risk of a fall-related injury and the risk of fingertip amputation. To be clear, these chairs have a product defect and can pose an unreasonable risk of injury. If you bought a beach chair at IKEA between February 2013 and December 2016, it is extremely important to learn more about this recall and to take steps to avoid sustaining a preventable personal injury.

How Many Products Have Been Impacted By the Recall?

According to the report, thus far around 33,400 IKEA chairs have been recalled due to the risk of injury. The specific chair that is subject to the recall is the IKEA MYSINGÖ beach chair. They came in a variety of colors, but the chairs have a basic structure in common – they are all foldable and they have a wood base. Each has a polyester fabric seat attached. You can identify the recalled chairs based on the article numbers, which are smaller labels that should be present on the wooden frame of the chair, as well as sewn into the fabric. The following models are subject to the recall:

01 02 03 04