Official Says System To Recall Faulty Tires is Broken

November 16th 2015 by

The federal recall system, which is intended to keep defective and potentially dangerous car tires off the road is “completely broken,” federal safety regulators have said.

According to an NBC News report, accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that tire problems cause 33,000 accidents and kill more than 500 motorists each year.

However, only one in five defective tires is being taken out of service through safety recalls. That means more than half of recalled tires remain in use.

Dr. Rob Molloy, acting director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety said the system is absolutely useless to consumers. The problem, according to the NTSB report, is that tire manufacturers cannot reach tire owners to warn them.

Independent tire dealers are not required to register the tires they sell with manufacturers. So, most of them just don’t do it. Between 2009 and 2013, 3.2 million defective tires were recalled. However, a majority of drivers are still using them unaware of the recalls.

Even mechanics have no way of knowing about tire recalls, officials said.

Lack of Monitoring and Oversight

Yes, when it comes to recalled tires, it’s the wild, wild, west. Drivers will be surprised to find out that there is no government or industry database to notify owners or mechanics about recalled tires.

It is also a distressing fact that when consumers go into a shop and have their tires inspected, no one can tell them if they have a recalled tire on their car in 2015.

Investigators say there have been several accidents in 2014 that have been linked to defective tires including a multi-passenger van that crashed in Lake City, Florida. In that case, two passengers died and eight others were injured.

The van’s tire had been recalled more than a year before the crash because of an internal defect, but had not been registered with the manufacturer.

In 2014, Joan Morro was killed and her husband injured after a recalled tire on their pickup blew and caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle. That fatal accident was caused by a recalled Michelin tire. While Morro died, her husband suffered multiple fractures, brain and eye injuries.

Consumers Need to Know

As product liability lawyers who represent victims of dangerous and defective products including auto parts, we agree 100 percent with the NTSB’s recommendation. Congress must mandate tire registration in addition to requiring drivers to register their tires with manufacturers.

This usually entails sending your name, address and tire identification number to the manufacturer. Consumers need to know when they are driving with faulty tires. These are potentially deadly defects.

Without reliable tires, we are putting ourselves and our families in danger.

Period After Time Change Most Dangerous For San Diego Pedestrians

November 12th 2015 by

The weeks and months after the fall time change is apparently the most dangerous time to be a pedestrian in the city of San Diego.

According to a news report in the Voice of San Diego, San Diegans are most likely to be struck by cars between September and January, according to a 2014 pedestrian safety study that looked at crash data between 2008 and 2012.

The report says this could be connected to earlier sunsets when commuters are driving home in the dark. A majority of pedestrian collisions occur during the evening rush hour.

Who Tends to Be at Fault?

Often, when we talk about vehicle versus pedestrian accidents, there is the question of who is most often as fault. Well, this study provides an answer: Drivers are more often at fault than pedestrians.

According to the report, drivers were at fault in 1,093 pedestrian versus vehicle collisions, while pedestrians were determined to have been at fault in 743 cases. In cases where motorists were at fault, about 64 percent of the cases involved drivers making improper turns and striking pedestrians.

Other causes included speeding and failure to stop or yield to pedestrians. In cases where pedestrians were at fault, the most common violations included jaywalking and inattention. The busiest and most population-dense neighborhoods were also where the collisions often occurred.

Areas in the city with the highest number of pedestrian accidents are downtown, City Heights and southeastern San Diego, which includes Logan Heights, Sherman Heights and Grant Hill.

Preventing Pedestrian Accidents

There are steps drivers and pedestrians can take to ensure safety. Drivers would be well advised to remain alert at crosswalks and intersections. California law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections.

Do not drive while impaired, fatigued or distracted. Slow down and drive at a speed that is safe given traffic and roadway conditions.

Pedestrians should cross the street with care and make eye contact with drivers. Don’t be a distracted pedestrian. Don’t walk with headphones or while talking on your cell phone. Do not jaywalk. Use crosswalks and intersections. Do not cross when the flashing hand or countdown signal has started. Wear bright clothes and reflective gear especially when it’s raining or when light is low.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney who will fight hard to protect your legal rights and best interests.

Orange County Company Fined For Wage Violations

October 30th 2015 by

Employment LawSan Juan Capistrano-based Greenstone Materials, a concrete and asphalt recycler, is facing a $149,000 fine from the Labor Department for wage violations.

According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the company has been ordered to pay back wages and damages to 40 employers after an investigation by federal officials found that the company had misclassified them as independent contractors and had not paid them properly for overtime work.

The company told investigators it started all new hires as independent contractors during a probationary period of up to three months and that they could opt after that to continue as such or be considered employees.

It was apparently this misclassification that led to wage violations because the company paid straight time rates for overtime hours. Greenstone also did not account for bonuses in employees’ regular pay when calculating time and a half as required by the law.

The company failed to maintain accurate pay records and did not display required postings.

The Issue of Misclassification

When workers are misclassified as independent contractors, they lose their rights because they are not subject to minimum wage and overtime protection laws.

Also, workers have no workers’ compensation coverage if they are ever injured on the job, no right to family leave, unemployment insurance or protection against employer retaliation.

In addition, the misclassification of workers as independent contractors creates an unfair playing field for responsible employers who honor their lawful obligations to their employees.

It also results in loss of payroll tax revenue too the state, which is estimated at $7 billion per year.

Protecting Your Rights

Employers do end up saving a lot of money when they classify employees as independent contractors. That is precisely why many companies do that even when they know workers should be treated as employees under the law.

If you have been misclassified as a contractor, there are steps you can take to protect your rights.

First, talk to your employer to see if you can be properly reclassified. Maybe, that’s all it will take. However, if talking to your employer doesn’t get the job done, get the Internal Revenue Service involved. If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, you can request that the IRS determine your employment status for federal tax purposes by filing a Form SS-8.

The only issue with this method is that the IRS might disclose your name to your employer.

If your employer is unresponsive to your concern about misclassification, contact an experienced Orange County employment lawyer who will fight for your rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your losses.

Study Finds Hands-Free Technology Can Still Distract Drivers

October 25th 2015 by

A new study released by the AAA this week shows that hands-free technology can still mentally distract drivers, even when they are focused on the road.

According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found potentially unsafe mental conditions could occur for as long as 27 seconds after a driver sends out a text message using voice commands, changes music or even makes a phone call using hands-free systems in the vehicle.

Persisting Levels of Distraction

Researchers say the lasting effects of mental distraction “pose a hidden and pervasive danger” to drivers. This could cause motorists to miss stop signs, traffic lights or pedestrians in crosswalks as the mind is readjusting to the task of driving.

For the purpose of this study, researchers compared 10 vehicles, all 2015 models, and three types of smart phones as they rated levels of distraction based on a five-point scale.

Category one denoted a mild level of distraction such as listening to the radio or an audio book. Level two involved talking on the phone and level three involved sending voice-activated text messages. Category four represented major distractions such as updating social media accounts while driving and category five represented the highest level of distraction.

Researchers say anything beyond category two is dangerous while driving.

Avoid All Distractions While Driving

While hands-free technology systems in vehicles have been marketed as safe alternatives to handheld cell phones, recent studies are showing that they are still dangerous and could potentially distract drivers. As California car accident attorneys who represent injured victims, we advise all drivers to put away all devices, handheld or hands-free, and focus on the road when they are operating a vehicle.

This is because our mind gets drawn away from the task of driving even when we are carrying on a conversation with someone, hands-free. Try reading a book while you are watching a television program. You will find that you cannot do both effectively at the same time. The same applies to driving as well.

If you are driving, turn off your cell phone and put it away, out of reach. If you must make a call or take a call while driving, pull over to a safe location. Remember, distracted driving is negligent driving. You can be held financially responsible for any accident or injuries that result from a distracted driving accident. Above all, no call or text is really worth risking your life or the lives of others.

Proposed Federal Rule Could Better Protect Nursing Home Abuse Victims

October 23rd 2015 by

nursing home safetyIf a proposed federal rule passes, nursing home abuse victims and their families would have to worry less about ensuring that their legal rights are protected.

According to an NPR news report, the federal government is now considering safeguards that would regulate the way nursing homes present arbitration agreements when residents are admitted.

These are basically documents that are part of a nursing home resident’s admission package, which serves as a binding agreement to go to arbitration if the resident or his or her family brings a claim against the facility.

Arbitration Works in Nursing Homes’ Favor

Going to arbitration naturally works in the nursing home’s favor because they are able to keep their costs and payouts very low. Patient safety advocates, 34 U.S. senators and attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia have also called for banning these agreements that provide an unfair advantage to nursing homes over vulnerable residents.

The proposed federal regulation would require nursing homes to explain these arbitration agreements so residents and families understand what they are signing.

The rule would also ensure that agreeing to arbitration is not a requirement for nursing home admission. Nursing homes have argued that this rule would be unfair to them and that arbitration actually allows consumers to get an expedited award without having to go through complex legal proceedings. However, a study commissioned in 2009 shows that such as “expedited award” is 35 percent lower than if the plaintiff had gone to court.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

There is no question that nursing home abuse and neglect are steadily increasing in the U.S. as more and more aging Baby Boomers enter these care facilities.

As California nursing home abuse lawyers who represent victims and their families, we welcome this proposed new rule. It is unfair for families to be coerced into signing this arbitration agreement at the time of admission.

Even if nursing homes may argue that it is “not coercion,” it does amount to arm-twisting when you make a patient’s admission contingent on signing all paperwork including the said agreement.

Nursing homes know very well that families are more likely to sign the agreement at the time of admission because they will be eager to get their loved one into the facility to ensure continuity of care. It’s nothing short of exploitation.

The Problem with Nursing Homes & Antipsychotics

October 09th 2015 by

nursing home safetyA recent in-depth article on Al Jazeera talks about a very important issue our nursing home abuse lawyers have been raising for several years now.

The article states that more than 40 nursing home rated five stars by Medicare actually give patients antipsychotics at twice the national average.

This is particularly true of nursing homes dealing with dementia patients.

One example in the article is of Idle Care Convalescent, a 59-bed facility in Los Angeles. More than half of Idle Care residents receive antipsychotics, the article says, despite strong warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that these powerful drugs can increase the risk of death in the elderly.

It wasn’t until February that Medicare began factoring in antipsychotic use into its rating system. Medicare started doing this as a way of nudging nursing homes and assisted living facilities away from these dangerous drugs.

Using Antipsychotics as Chemical Restraint

Still Al Jazeera found through its investigation that more than 40 nursing homes, such as Idle Care, with five-star ratings use antipsychotics excessively. At Idle Care, for example, 52 percent of residents received these drugs from July 2014 through March 2015.

The FDA has approved antipsychotic drug use for use in those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Nursing home advocates, however, say that these drugs are often used off label as “chemical restraints” so understaffed facilities can easily care for residents who are agitated or aggressive simply by sedating them with these drugs. A report issued by the Government Accountability Office this year found that one-third of nursing home residents with dementia receive antipsychotics.

The Need for More Enforcement

Dinging a nursing home on the five-star rating system for an act as egregious as chemically restraining residents, is simply not going to cut it. How are these negligent nursing homes, who place a higher value on profits than on the sanctity of human lives, to be held accountable?

If these nursing homes are drugging people just to make their jobs easier and so they won’t have to hire more employees, that’s wrong and they should pay for it, period.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact an experienced California nursing home lawyer who will fight for your rights and help you obtain justice and fair compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.

The best personal injury law firms will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to injured victims and their families.

Bus Company Pledges To Improve Safety After Autistic Students Death

September 20th 2015 by

A Los Angeles area bus company has pledged to put additional safety measures after a 19-year-old autistic student died of heat exhaustion.

According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the body of Hun-Joon “Paul” Lee was discovered in a sweltering school district parking lot the afternoon of September 11, 2015 after his family reported that the teen was missing.

Lee’s parents said their son, who was autistic, was left unattended on the bus from 8:30 a.m. until he was found at 4 p.m. as temperatures soared to 100 degrees. The bus was operated by Pupil Transportation Cooperative.

A spokesman for the bus company said this week that the company is taking additional security measures. He said two adults will monitor every bus to make sure that all students have been cleared out.

The company is also looking into installing electronic devices that can further ensure buses are empty before they are left.

We offer our deepest condolences to the family members of Hun-Joon “Paul” Lee, whose death has apparently devastated and shocked the special needs community. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Who Dropped the Ball?

Based on this news report, it appears that the teenager was left on the school bus for eight hours. No one noticed he was missing until his family members called the authorities.

While it is good that the bus company is putting safety measures in place now, after Lee’s tragic death, it is not clear why the company did not have safety measures already in place.

Obviously, they knew that they were transporting individuals with special needs. Why did they not have back-up plans and electronic devices in place to ensure the safety of their passengers? We hope there will be a thorough investigation into this matter and that the negligent parties will be held accountable.

Liability Issues

In this particular case, all the agencies responsible for Lee’s safety and care can be held financially responsible for his wrongful death.

In cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, family members of deceased victims can file a wrongful death claim not only seeking compensation for damages such as funeral costs and pain and suffering, but also to help ensure that such an incident does not repeat.

An experienced Los Angeles wrongful death attorney will be able to guide families through what can be a complex process and help them get justice for their loved one.

Study Finds Older Bicyclists At Greater Risk of Injury

September 04th 2015 by

Bicyclists over the age of 45 are more susceptible to suffering serious injuries, results of a study published by the University of California San Francisco found.

The report, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), looked at nationwide statistics from 1998 to 2013 and found that injuries to bicyclists in general increased by 28 percent and that the number of hospitalizations more than doubled.

The proportion of injuries suffered by those 45 and older went up from 23 percent to 42 percent and hospital admissions in that age group went up from 39 percent to 65 percent.

Increase in Injuries

Researchers at the university used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which presents a sample of about 100 emergency departments nationwide.

The study’s authors say these numbers reflect an increase in older adult cyclists in recent years and that the overall increases were possibly caused by a rise in street accidents and an increase in sport cycling associated with faster speeds.

In addition, the study found that the proportion of cyclists with head injuries increased from 10 percent to 16 percent and 35 percent of injuries overall occurred in women.

Motorist Negligence

Under California Vehicle Code, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. However, very often, motorists forget that they share the road with bicyclists.

A number of bicycle accidents occur because motorists fail to yield the right-of-way to bicyclists, fail to see bicyclists while changing lanes or open the car door without looking for bicyclists who may be passing by. All of these accidents have the potential to result in catastrophic injuries or even fatalities.

Compensation for Injured Bicyclists

If you are a bicyclist who has been injured in a collision, it is important that you understand your legal rights and options. Injured bicycle accident victims can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

Injured victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced California personal injury attorney who has successfully represented bicycle accident victims and their families. The best personal injury law firms will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to injured victims and their families.

Criminal Charges Filed against Southern California Nursing Home

September 01st 2015 by

Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre in Montrose and two of its nurses are facing criminal charges in connection with a resident’s death.

According to a news report in The Sacramento Bee, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced that the nursing home will face involuntary manslaughter charges for its “grossly negligent” care of a resident who was a burn victim.

The report states that the resident, James Populus, suffered burns over 90 percent of his body as the result of an arson fire. Investigators allege that despite the resident’s fragile health, he was not frequently examined by the doctor.

Populus died in August 2014, after 14 months at the facility. The state says nursing home neglect caused Populus to suffer severe weight loss, sepsis and pneumonia and that he died as a result of multiple system failure and sepsis with infections all over his body.

Increased Scrutiny

The state’s action once again turns the spotlight on nursing homes owned by Schlomo Rechnitz whose facilities have been increasingly scrutinized by state and federal health regulators. Since October, three of his nursing homes have lost their certification for poor quality care.

The Attorney General’s office has filed charges of dependent adult abuse against the nursing home’s director of nursing and a charge of abuse causing great bodily injury against a supervising nurse. Both employees face several years in prison if convicted.

Holding Nursing Homes Accountable

Nursing homes that facilitate an environment that is ripe for neglect and abuse should be held responsible. As Los Angeles nursing home abuse lawyers who advocate and fight for the rights of victims and their families, we are pleased to note that the Attorney General has filed criminal charges against not only the nursing home in this case, but also staff members who were directly linked.

Negligent nursing home owners and staff members should be held both criminally and civilly accountable.

We count on nursing homes to care for our loved ones during their golden years. Nursing home abuse and neglect not only leave vulnerable residents physically injured, but they also emotionally devastate families that trust these facilities with the care of a precious family member.

If you or a loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it is critical that you understand your legal rights and options. File a complaint with the local law enforcement agency and the state ombudsman.

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.

How A Brain Injury Can Haunt You For Years to Come

August 28th 2015 by

Traumatic Brain InjuryA traumatic brain injury early on in your life can haunt you years later.

According to a new study, there is a significant link between adults suffering from attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury at some point in their lives.

This study gives yet another reason why we should wear protective helmets during work or play – be it at a construction site or while cycling or playing contact sports.

What the Study Shows

The study considered 4,000 people, 18 years and above. The researchers considered only those who had suffered traumatic head injuries, which means that the injury should have resulted in an unconscious state for at least five minutes or one night’s stay in a hospital or emergency care unit.

The results of the study showed that in the adults with a history of traumatic brain injury, 5.9 percent had been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their life. These results support other studies, which show a link between ADHD and traumatic injuries that occurred during childhood.

Some prior studies have also shown that traumatic brain injury may lead to changes of a psycho-neurological nature, which could in the long run cause ADHD.

These studies assume further significance after the World Health Organization’s prediction that traumatic brain injuries will become the third major contributor of disease and disability worldwide by the year 2020.

Living with Brain Injuries

Millions of Americans live with traumatic brain injuries. Some are able to function more or less normally and are able to work and earn a livelihood. Others are in varying levels of dependency and have long-term or lifelong disabilities that prevent them from leading a normal life.

The most common causes of traumatic brain injuries are car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, sports and acts of violence.

If you have suffered a brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, it is important that you understand your legal rights and options. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

An experienced brain injury lawyer will remain on your side, fight for your rights and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your significant losses.

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