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San Francisco Personal Injury Law Blog

'60 Minutes' questions safety of laminate flooring; CPSC responds

The Chinese building materials industry is again under scrutiny. A few years ago, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was fielding complaints from homeowners about health conditions that developed when they moved into newly constructed or renovated homes. Homeowners also found corrosion of copper wire and other metal components in their homes. All told, the CPSC received more than 4,000 reports from people in 44 states (37 reports from California), the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

The culprit proved to be sulfurous gases emitted by drywall imported from China. A number of class action lawsuits followed.

Company's many violations didn't keep the truck off the road

A tractor-trailer accident in Contra Costa County offers a tragic example of what happens when a trucking company is allowed to put poorly maintained vehicles on the road. The accident occurred during rush hour on a major road in Pittsburg when the truck clipped two vehicles before slamming into the front of a commercial building. An explosion followed and consumed the truck, the building and an adjacent building. The driver was killed.

Witnesses said the semi was clearly experiencing mechanical difficulties and that the driver, honking and flashing his lights, tried to downshift and brake as he maneuvered through traffic. Everyone interviewed said the driver did everything he could to avoid injuring others. Both buildings destroyed in the fire were unoccupied at the time.

CEM in new train cars - Metrolink's investment likely saved lives p2

In the 1952 movie, "The Greatest Show on Earth," the locomotive of one train hits an automobile and another train, both of which are stopped on the tracks. The force of the impact jolts the locomotive backwards and slows it down considerably. Each car behind it is slammed, in turn, by the car in front of it, but the train continues to move forward. When everything finally stops, both trains are one twisted mess. Cars overturned, crushed like soda cans, pushed far off the tracks.

Collision energy management technology sends the force of impact away from the passenger compartments. As we said in our last post, the rail cars are like automobiles: They have crumple zones at each end to absorb most of the impact and redirect remaining force away from the rail car -- a little like the way water splashes in every direction when you point a garden hose at the pavement.

CEM in new train cars - Metrolink's investment likely saved lives

We are continuing our discussion of the Feb. 24 collision between a commuter train and a heavy-duty pick-up truck at a road-grade crossing near Oxnard. Of the 28 people injured, four were reported in critical condition. Earlier this week, authorities announced that one of those victims, the engineer of the Metrolink train, had died from his injuries.

The hope in every accident, of course, is that there are no injuries and no fatalities. In a wreck like this, though, when a train crashes into a truck stopped on the tracks, Metrolink officials were grateful that more people weren't hurt. A similar accident in 2008 claimed 25 lives.

After crash, will Metrolink adopt Subaru's 'They lived' tagline?

No one was killed but dozens were injured in the Feb. 24 accident involving a heavy-duty pickup truck and a Metrolink commuter train. The accident happened between the Southern California cities of Oxnard and Camarillo, less than an hour away from the site of the 2008 train crash in Chatsworth that left 25 dead.

The reference to the 2008 crash is included here for an important reason: It was that crash that moved Metrolink to upgrade its cars with collision energy management technology. The objective of CEM technology is to minimize the force of the impact and to reduce the damage to the cars that derail. From the looks of this accident, it works.

Safety tips for driving in fog

There are many different weather conditions that can make driving more difficult. One such condition is fog. Fog can greatly reduce driver visibility, which could create an increased risk of vehicles colliding.

Given the traffic safety problems fog can pose, when a person knows there is going to be heavy fog in their area, it is often best to stay off the roads until the fog lifts. However, circumstances sometimes make it so an individual is unable to avoid driving in foggy conditions.

Hey, Big Spender, spend a little time with malpractice victims

Don't believe it for a second if someone tells you that money isn't a factor in important ballot initiatives. The Los Angeles Times reported recently that last November's Proposition 46 fight cost both camps about $70 million altogether. More than 80 percent of that came from opponents of the measure -- the winning side.

Prop 46 would have made important changes to California's medical malpractice laws. According to the state's Voter Information Guide, the proposal would have increased the cap on noneconomic damages for plaintiffs in med mal cases. The cap is currently set at $250,000, the same dollar amount lawmakers adopted in 1975. Prop 46 would have raised the cap to $1.1 million immediately; after that, the amount would increase every year based on the rate of inflation. The $1.1 million figure, by the way, is the 2014 equivalent of 1975's $250,000.

Work with an experienced attorney to maximize damages

Readers may have heard last month about a wrongful death case in which a San Francisco jury awarded $4 million in damages to the parents of a woman who was struck and killed by a truck while riding a bicycle in 2013.

The accident reportedly occurred when the truck driver made a right-turn in front of the 24-year-old woman and caused a collision. She later died from injuries at a local hospital. Although the trucker was not originally cited by police, he was later deemed to be at fault for the crash. Still, prosecutors never filed criminal charges on the grounds that there was no proof that the woman’s death was caused by the trucker.

Super Sunday is super dangerous on California roads

The Super Bowl is this Sunday, Feb. 1, and, while it isn't quite a national holiday, there is a little something for everyone: football, of course, but also the half-time show and the much-anticipated (and very expensive) commercials. This is a day for get-togethers with friends and family.

Those get-togethers may well start long before the kickoff and wrap up long after Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have signed off. That's the fun. That's also the problem.

Honda to NHTSA: 'Hmm, what? Oh, yeah, $70 million. Sure thing.' p2

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's early warning reporting system has been in place for almost 13 years. The agency collected data before the EWR's time, but it relied on consumer complaints and manufacturers' technical service bulletins as sources. Congress gave the NHTSA the authority to require manufacturers to report certain information about accidents with injuries and fatal accidents, both here and abroad.

The regulation requires that automakers and equipment manufacturers report quarterly. But it came to light in fall 2014 that Honda had not reported any information about 1,729 accidents that had resulted in injuries or deaths.

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