Thursday, 24 June 2010

Los Angeles Red-Light Cameras - Boycott or Safety Issue?

Today the LA Times reports about the Los Angeles City Council members decision to continue the red-light camera program, even though the camera systems operator is an Arizona based company - which should be boycotted under the political decisions of the council related to Arizona's new immigration-enforcement policy.

The cameras are operated at 32 intersections, and the  LA Police Department says red-light-related accidents declined about 9% those intersections. However, those appear to be the overall statistics, because at half of those intersections, no change in accidents or an actual increase was observed. No doubt about it, Los Angeles intersections are car accident prone, and those varying stats might not be significant in showing that accidents are less likely at camera controlled intersections.

Interestingly, the financial aspects of the red light cameras don't make sense - a report from the City of Los Angeles budget advisor says the revenue from tickets in less than payments to the Arizona Company and the LAPD's costs to run the ticketing program.

If the statistics are clear for safety, and money isn't being made, maybe it is time for a new program to lower southern California injury and accident rates? Better laws, education, and punishment for alcohol related accidents might be a good start, as prevention of the most dangerous accidents should be a priority.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Trial Lawyers, Automakers Argue over Preemption Provision in Auto Safety Bill

There’s much behind-the-scenes wrangling going on between automakers and trial lawyers over a missing provision in the auto safety bill version that was approved by a Senate committee this week.

Last week, the far-reaching auto safety bill was approved by the Senate Committee, but it was missing one provision that had been included in the earlier version that passed the House last month. The House-approved version included a measure that would allow more American consumers to file auto defect product liability lawsuits against automakers. That measure was removed from the version that finally made it to the Senate, under pressure from automakers.

The Bush administration in all its wisdom decided that auto companies, whose vehicles met federal safety regulations, could not be sued by motorists in state courts in case of accidents caused by defects under the so-called federal preemption doctrine. The former administration was a huge fan of federal preemption, but the Obama administration has publicly made clear its objection to such laws.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, Democrat-California, and Rep. Bruce Braley, drafted a measure that would make it easier for consumers who suffered injuries because of auto defects, to sue automakers in a state court. The measure was expected to be attached to the final version of the massive auto safety bill that includes a wide range of safety measures.

Not surprisingly, the automaker lobby has been up in arms against this measure. They insist that removing federal preemption would drive up costs because of lawsuits brought by American consumers. The powerful Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says that state courts should not have the power to overrule federal regulations.

No class action attorney - or for that matter, no American - should call the auto safety bill complete, if it denies consumers the right to seek justice in a civil court for injuries caused by auto defects. Increased penalty powers for the NHTSA and the installation of more gadgetry in cars is all great, but these can’t help an injured person or the family of a person killed in an accident caused by a defect, to recover justice.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Handyman Service, Los Angeles Home Repair

Although the real estate and construction industry is not what is was a few years ago, home repair services are very much in demand. As things around the house break or need upgrading, not everyone is do-it-yourselfer (DIYer). Many people have handy friend or relative to call on, others have a reliable handyman to call, and some thumb through yellow pages to find help.  Of course the internet is great resource. On sites such as you can see what handyman services are offered and even read testimonials from past clients.

In addition to testimonials and services offered, the site includes information about the owner, a licensed general contractor.  Having a personal touch is nice for people wary of having a stranger come into their home. In fact, many other home  repair service websites are just referral services that send your phone or email inquiry to whomever subscribes to their service.

The FixitDudes site is part of Modaa Inc, a southern CA construction company. They are a green-certified builder and strive to reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible for the projects.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Premises Liability Lawsuit Filed in Lake Tahoe Ski Resort Accident

The family of a man who was killed in a ski lift accident at a resort in Lake Tahoe, has filed a premises liability lawsuit against the facility. The lawsuit has been filed against the resort, Heavenly Mountain Resort, as well as other companies, including Samson Rope Technologies and Terra Nova LLC.

The lawsuit relates to the death of Mark Dickson, who died in a ski lift accident in August last year. Dickson was riding the Tamarack Express Chairlift at the resort when the chairlift became entangled in a line from the ZipRider zip line ride. Dickson died of his injuries, and his wife of one month, was seriously injured. Dickson’s family has now filed a lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages from the three companies.

California's premises liability laws apply when a person suffers injuries on another person's property. The nature and scope of these injuries may be vast. There may include slip and fall accidents, drownings, fires and explosions. Assaults, rapes and other violent incidents that occur on another's property, may also fall under the purview of premises liability laws.

However, it isn't enough for an injury to occur on a person's property for that person to be named by a California premises liability lawyer in a lawsuit. A plaintiff must be able to show that the property owner - or person who had control over the property - was negligent in providing a safe property. The responsibility of providing safe premises rests not just on the owner of the property, but also on the property manager, any contractors on the property, tenants, and companies involved in the maintenance and upkeep of the property. Therefore, there may be more than one person who has control over the property, and therefore, is responsible for the injury.

California's laws also expect a person using the property, to exercise reasonable care. This means that if there is a dangerous condition on the property that is obvious, customers, guests, visitors or other users of the property are expected to be aware of the dangerous condition, and exercise due care in maintaining their own safety. If the injured victim has been found to be at least partially to blame for his own injury, then theories of comparative negligence will come into play. Here, the damages awarded to the victim will be reduced, depending on the proportion of his negligence.