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San Francisco Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

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

There used to be an ad campaign for some brand of margarine that had the tag line, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature." Mother Nature's irritation took the form of enormous thunderclouds and huge bolts of lightning.

It's not nice to fool the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration either, but the agency's response will be more than bluster. Honda Motor Co. has learned the hard way that NHTSA can impose steep fines on companies that fail to report accident and injury data. Earlier in January, the company agreed to pay two $35 million fines for its transgressions.

Older Americans and teens have something in common: Bad driving

An accident in Sacramento raises an interesting public policy issue: driving privileges for the elderly. A 94-year-old man approached a drive-through car wash and apparently mistook the gas pedal for the brake on his sedan. The car blew through the car wash, taking out a good deal of equipment as it went.

The incident was recorded by a surveillance camera, so it is possible to watch it over and over again. Auto World News reports that the video quickly went viral. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the manager estimates that property damage could run as high as $100,000. Immediately following the accident, the driver said he believed insurance would cover it.

2013 NHTSA fatal crash report shows minor but noteworthy shifts

Overall, U.S. highways were safer in 2013 than they have ever been. The number of people killed in all types of vehicle crashes declined by 3.1 percent from 2012, to 32,719.

Nearly 4,000 of those deaths occurred in accidents with big rigs. And though the number increased only slightly from the year before -- 0.5 percent -- it shows a continuing trend in the wrong direction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2013 was the fourth year in a row that the death toll increased for accidents involving heavy trucks.

Take the earbuds out and listen: Distracted walking is dangerous

If you watched the second (and last) season of "Smash," a television show about putting on a Broadway show, you may remember the death of one of the characters. He was walking the streets of New York, singing his heart out, when he heedlessly stepped into the path of an oncoming car.

The show's writers may not have realized how timely his death was. When that episode aired in May 2013, the editors of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention were just putting the August issue to bed. One article, "Pedestrian injuries due to mobile phone use in public places," would catch the attention of national news outlets.

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