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San Francisco Personal Injury Law Blog

NTSB: NHTSA should beef up tractor-trailer safety regulations

The National Transportation Safety Board recently sent the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration a list of recommendations that the NTSB believes will reduce the number and the severity of accidents involving tractor-trailers. The board based its proposals on its own research and research conducted by others. Notably, however, one of the recommendations addresses the lack of data on truck accidents.

First up: blind spots. Most drivers understand the concept of blind spots in a passenger vehicle. Some part of the car obstructs the driver's view of traffic in the right-hand lane, and the driver has to turn his head or rely on mirrors to make sure the way is clear before moving over. Tractor-trailers are the same, except that the thing blocking their view is not a rear window post a few inches wide; it is the rig itself, all 18 wheels of it.

Hidden Reality of Age Discrimination: Older Workers Need Not Apply

In our continuing look at age discrimination, there are some worrisome issues related to the economic downturn. According to a recent Federal Reserve study, older workers are having an especially difficult time finding work despite recent improvements in the job market. The average duration of joblessness for 55 to 64 year-olds was 49 weeks as of March, 2014, almost double that experienced by the 20-24 year-old cohort, based on the latest Labor Department numbers.

GM heads for the Hill over ignition switch recalls p2

T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month. General Motors Corp. may disagree. The company just finished up March by adding another 824,000 cars to its ignition switch recall. A few days earlier, plaintiffs' attorneys moved to consolidate a number of personal injury lawsuits against the carmaker.

Many of the lawsuits are seeking class action status, and the attorneys believe treating the claims as multidistrict litigation would be more efficient for the judicial system and fairer to both the defendant and the plaintiffs. The attorneys suggested that the consolidated actions be heard by the same California judge that heard the consolidated sudden acceleration cases against Toyota Motor Corp.

GM heads for the Hill over ignition switch recalls

Executives from General Motors Co. -- most likely led by new CEO Mary Barra -- will be spending some time with Congress next month. Both Senate and House committees have scheduled hearings on how the automaker handled the recall of 1.6 million cars last month. The recall related to the faulty ignition switches that resulted in at least a dozen fatal accidents.

We wrote about the recall in our March 6, 2014, post. The recall has spawned more than a few lawsuits, including a multistate lawsuit filed in San Francisco that may become a class action. According to USA Today, thirteen plaintiffs from seven states claim the company's fix for the switch is inadequate. If the court agrees, the class could include everyone who owned or leased one of the 1.6 million recalled vehicles.

Market Street looks for marked improvements in safety

Market Street is pretty much a miracle of modern transit. An average weekday will see 24 Muni routes along Market, as well as a number of regional transit vehicles and private shuttles for employees making the trip to and from Silicon Valley. Add to that about 200,000 pedestrians and an ever-increasing number of bicyclists, and it is easy to understand why the city of San Francisco is looking for ways to reduce the number of private motor vehicles on the street. 

Few locals will argue that Market is a safe place, that cars, bikers, buses, trolleys and pedestrians share the street without incident. The stretch of Market between Eighth and Montgomery has just a third of the traffic that Mission Street has one block over, yet Market sees twice as many collisions as Mission. Market is also home to four of the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians and two of the most dangerous for bikers.

Table Saw Products Liability: Profits Over Amputations

It sometimes appears that a products liability issue is never truly resolved. Sometimes, sadly, an industry just can't stop its bad behavior. Case in point? Way back in October of 2001, The Cartwright Law Firm successfully brought suit on behalf of a client whose hand was severed by an unguarded power saw made by Sears Roebuck Company. Though many other such cases had been tried before, this was one of the first successful cases brought to trial for the lack of a simple blade guard, an obvious safety feature for table saws, a lack that had been responsible for many similar amputations and disfigurements for decades. Of particular help in our case was information that the makers of such saws had actually developed appropriate guards years before but decided against offering them as standard equipment on their products.

Study uncovers another risk for aging boomers

Another sad truth for baby boomers: We just can't hold our liquor the way we used to. A recent study showed that adults age 55 and over are more susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol than their younger counterparts, and the news poses some interesting public policy questions.

The study involved 72 drivers. Half were between 25 and 35 years old, the other half between 55 and 70. The researchers put the participants behind the wheel on a (simulated) three-mile stretch of winding country road where distractions, including other vehicles, were few. The participants drove the course sober and after consuming alcohol. While the results were a little surprising, the study showed at the very least that local baby boomers may want to become familiar with San Francisco's public transit system.

In The News: Acetaminophen May Increase ADHD Risk During Pregnancy

In the news: Pregnant women who take acetaminophen for pain or fever-- best known by the brand Tylenol - face an elevated risk their child will develop attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new long-term study out of Denmark suggests. Children whose mothers took acetaminophen during pregnancy showed up to a 40 percent higher probability of an ADHD diagnosis. The research involved more than 64,000 Danish mothers and their children, who were born between 1996 and 2002.

NHTSA rattles its saber at GM over ignition problem and recalls

On the East Coast, people tend to get in your face if they are upset with you, or, for that matter, with anything. In the Midwest, there is a joke about natives being so polite that their in-your-face reaction is, "Oooooh, I'm going to write such a letter!" Here in California, we are a little more laid back, but we stand up for what we know is right.

Critics are saying that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking too much of a Midwestern polite approach about the General Motors Corp. recall. The automaker has recalled about 1.6 million older-model compact cars because of a dangerous ignition problem. The number of fatalities linked to the defect is now at 13.

Disability Rights: Confusions abound regarding accommodation of service animals

The use by a disabled person of a legitimate service animal to aid them in tasks associated with their daily life is well-established in both therapeutic effectiveness and in disability rights laws. Such animals as visual aid dogs, hearing aid dogs, and other equally important service animals make a clear difference for thousands of Californians every day. But there has risen an issue with the proliferation of non-legitimate pets posing as service animals that is aided by shady web sites selling fake vests and other identifiers, without any requirements to prove these pets were properly trained and registered as required by law.

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