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San Francisco Personal Injury Law Blog

How fast is the fast track when the federal government is involved?

If you suffer from high blood pressure, you may not want to continue. This is a story about the federal government's response to major safety issues, and some readers may find it frustrating, if not outright alarming.

In March, the Associated Press published the results of a study about the speed ratings of tractor-trailer tires. The researchers reported that most truck tires are built to handle sustained speeds up to 75 mph. The tires were fine as long as state laws stuck to speed limits of 65 or 70 mph. In the last few years, though, 14 states have raised the speed limits on major highways to 75, 80 and even 85 mph.

Deadly wrong-way crashes have CHP, Caltrans looking for answers

A South San Francisco man was among the dead in a recent wrong-way accident near Sacramento -- the fourth wrong-way crash in 2015. Three people in all died in that accident, bringing the total number of lives lost in wrong-way accidents this year to 14. Both state police and lawmakers are wondering if this is just an unusual cluster of crashes or a trend.

According to reports from the California Highway Patrol, each crash occurred after dark when the driver was alone in the car; in the three highway crashes, each driver entered from an exit ramp. In at least two of the four accidents, the wrong-way driver was intoxicated -- one registered a 0.20 blood alcohol content level, more than double California's legal limit. Officials suggest that dementia may be another contributing factor in this type of crash.

Share the road, survive the ride: May is Motorcycle Safety Month

If you missed the Bay Area Motorcycle Show last weekend, there is still time to attend Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month events in other California cities. The California Highway Patrol and the state Office of Traffic Safety have begun their own awareness campaign, too, with the motto, "Survive the Ride."

California has more motorcycles on the roads -- well, more registered motorcycles, at least -- than any other state. The 830,000 bikes are operated by an estimated 1.4 million riders.

What are express and implied warranties under the UCC?

One of the primary sources of product liability law is the Uniform Commercial Code. The UCC came about as a way to harmonize laws governing commercial transactions from state to state. Each state legislature has adopted at least part of the UCC -- California has adopted the entire UCC -- and may have adapted at least one or two provisions to reflect conditions in their state.

Among the most frequently cited provisions of the U.C.C. are express and implied warranties. According to the Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute, if these warranties are not satisfied they can form the basis of a product liability lawsuit.

What are the 4 major grounds for product liability?

We are picking up our discussion of the legal theories of product liability. As we explained, the plaintiff -- or the plaintiff's attorney -- must answer "yes" to at least one of four questions about the claim. The first two, reviewed in our April 23 post, addressed negligence and warranties.

The subject came up in the wake of the "60 Minutes" exposé on laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators Inc. This case is unusual, because the trouble hasn't stopped with the laminate flooring.

What are the 4 major grounds for product liability?

In our March 27 post, '60 Minutes' questions safety of laminate flooring; CPSC responds, we mentioned that homeowners had filed multiple class action lawsuits against the manufacturers of defective drywall. Lumber Liquidators could find itself in equally hot water, if consumers can successfully link health problems to the toxins in the laminate flooring -- at least, the toxins "60 Minutes" alleged were in the laminate flooring.

The case wouldn't stop there, of course: Consumers would have to prove that the manufacturer, the distributor or the merchant was somehow responsible for the dangerous flooring making it to market and into consumers' homes.

SF Cyclists: watch out for distracted drivers

Motor vehicle accidents can cause serious injuries whether you are in a large truck, a compact car or on a bicycle. Here in San Francisco, there are a lot of bicyclists and bicycle accidents occur on a regular basis. Traffic accidents occur for a variety of reasons, of course, but cyclists in San Francisco have good cause to be particularly concerned about distracted driving.

That’s because a recent investigation revealed that the travel routes used by bicycle commuters are also among the areas most at risk for distracted driving. One common feature of routes with a high incidence of distracted driving is that speeding is easy and drivers can therefore become easily frustrated when traffic backs up. That frustration often leads to cell phone use and other distracted behaviors. That behavior often carries over into routes with high bicycle traffic. 

'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.

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