Monday, 26 July 2010

Los Angeles Woman Killed, Child Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident

Yet another person has been killed in an alcohol-related car accident in Los Angeles. A 51-year-old grandmother sustained fatal injuries, and her five-year-old grandchild was seriously injured in an accident caused when a drunk driver rammed into their car

The woman's husband, who had been driving the car, had just pulled up outside a residence on Wilbur Avenue, and had alighted from the car to unlock the gates of the residence. The woman stayed behind in the car to tend to her grandson. Just then, a Jeep Cherokee allegedly being driven by an intoxicated driver, rammed into the Toyota Prius. The five-year old child was ejected from the car, and landed in the street. The child has suffered lacerations and body trauma. The woman meanwhile sustained fatal injuries, and was declared dead at the scene of the crash. The Cherokee driver has been arrested.

Driving under the influence can definitely be grounds for a car accident claim in Los Angeles. It's comparatively easy to prove that an intoxicated driver was driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legally allowed limit of .08. Under California laws, victims of drunk driving accidents or families of those killed in such crashes, may be eligible for compensatory damages that include both economic and noneconomic compensation. Economic damages include the medical expenses that the victim has accumulated since the accident, as well as his lost income as a result of being off work from the day of the accident. Non-economic damages can include damages for pain and suffering. These can also include loss of care, affection, companionship and consortium that can also be named in a California car accident claim.

Your Los Angeles car accident lawyer may also seek punitive damages in your claim, depending on the severity of the accident and the extent of the motorist’s negligence. Punitive damages are not compensatory, and they are awarded to punish the defendant for his actions. These are awarded only in rare circumstances.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Number of Alcohol Drinkers in the US on an Increase

During the period between 1992 and 2002, the number of adult men and women in the United States drinking alcohol actually increased over previous decades. Those results came from a cross-ethnic study that found that this increase in alcohol intake was consistent across all races, including blacks, Latin Americans and whites. The percentage of men who drank increased by about 5%, while the percentage of women who drank increased by between 8 and 9%.

The one fact that really jumped out at Las Vegas drunk driving injury lawyers is that binge drinking in the US has spiked overall. There has been a spike in number of people drinking more than five drinks a day, which constitutes binge drinking. The percentage of adult white men in the US who admitted to drinking more than five drinks a day at least once a week, increased from 9% to 14%. The same kinds of increases were seen also in Hispanic and black persons.

Experts have called for a greater focus on this problem. The study only includes data between 1992 and 2002, when the economy was not as bad as it is today. Since 2008, the economy has tanked, and millions of Americans are out of jobs. This kind of stress and pressure typically leads to alcohol abuse, binge drinking and other kinds of alcohol excesses that increase the risk of drunk driving. It's highly possible that the number of Americans binge drinking is higher now, than is reported in the study.

Any increase in binge drinking is of great concern to Las Vegas drunk driving accident lawyers. This kind of behavior very often leads to motorists driving home intoxicated, and amplifies the risks of causing an accident. Las Vegas drunk driving accident attorneys would like to see a similar study conducted on Las Vegas residents. Las Vegas deals with a double whammy as far as binge drinking goes - the city's party culture is also combined with a dismal economic outlook for many Las Vegas residents.

Monday, 19 July 2010

CPSC Moving Faster Toward a Ban on Drop-side cribs

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has accelerated its plans to phase out unsafe drop-side cribs from the market altogether. This week, the agency announced a notice of proposed rulemaking for crib standards. On Wednesday, the commission voted 5-0 to approve the new proposed mandated standards for crib design. The standards are meant to address the dangers that have been associated with the use of drop-side cribs over the past couple of years. The dangers include strangulation, entrapment, suffocation and fall hazards associated with the use of these cribs. The standards were approved in consultation with the ATSM, manufacturers, consumer safety groups, and other children’s product experts. Basically, the standards will ban traditional cribs from having a drop-side.

The continued danger to children from the use of the drop-side cribs in particular, was evident last week when Pottery Barn Kids announced a recall of all its drop-side cribs. Approximately 82,000 cribs are included in this latest recall of cribs. According to Pottery Barn Kids, the drop-side can become detached because of malfunctioning or wearing out of the hardware. That resulted in the children becoming entrapped between the mattress and the drop-side. Several children got their legs entrapped between the mattress and the drop-side, while one child was stuck at the head, but was freed in time

The Pottery Barn recall includes all drop-side cribs sold under the Pottery Barn name, regardless of the model number. These were sold through the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, and online at www.PotteryBarnkids.com. They were also sold at the Pottery Barn Kids retail stores nationwide between January 1999 and March 2010. Pottery Barn Kids advises that consumers must immediately inspect the cribs involved in the recall, and see whether the hardware is broken. If the hardware is intact, they must contact Pottery Barn Kids to receive a free conversion kit that will immobilize the drop-side. These immobilization devices are meant to keep the drop-side in place, and prevent it from moving up and down. This eliminates much of the risk from the crib design.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

PG&E Will Pay San Jose Mother $5 Million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

It’s been a hard-fought victory for Lisa Bernstein, a San Jose mother who took on PG&E after her daughter was killed in an accident involving the utility company’s vehicle. She has agreed for a settlement of $5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit that she filed against the company, but PG&E has been forced to make compromises that it probably wouldn't have had she not been so persistent.

The accident that killed Bernstein's daughter occurred in 2006. Bernstein's daughter, a college student, and her boyfriend were killed in a crash when the car they were traveling in was struck by a PG&E utility truck. Later, prosecutors alleged that the truck driver, John Mayfield, who suffered from diabetes, had blacked out while driving. He had not checked his blood sugar levels, and that ultimately proved fatal to the two other persons involved in the accident.

Bernstein filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the utility company. She turned down a settlement offer when PG&E refused to support a law that would make companies more accountable for their errant drivers. She insisted on going to trial, not a decision that her attorneys supported. However, just before the trial, she chose to settle with the company for $5 million.

It hasn't been an easy settlement for PG&E to make. Under the terms of the settlement, PG&E agreed to record the resolution as a judgment. Typically in such cases, settlements are recorded as confidential. This makes it harder for California wrongful death attorneys to negotiate with the company in future accidents. The $5 million payout, according to Bernstein, is also higher than the typical value that is placed on a college student's life, which is around $2 million.

Bernstein is not giving up her crusade against PG&E, and their responsibilities towards their drivers and other motorists. She plans to seek legislation that would require companies with a minimum of 25 cars in their fleet to receive automatic notifications when one of their drivers receives a ticket. Currently, trucking companies and other commercial companies receive such notifications when their drivers are ticketed or involved in accidents. Bernstein wants that rule to cover more fleet owners.

She's also supporting a piece of legislation that would require diabetic drivers to test their blood sugar before they drive. She’s also making an effort to hit the company where it hurts. She says she'll use some of her settlement money to create an alternative energy sources foundation that would chip away at PG&E's monopoly.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Toyota Recalls Lexus SUVs Because of Fuel Leak Hazards

The latest Toyota recall is reminding class action attorneys of the Ford Pinto exploding gas tank crisis of the 70s. Toyota Motor Corp. has just announced a recall of approximately 17,000 Lexus HS 250h vehicles. This recall is linked to a possible fuel leak problem that could contribute to explosions and fires. In addition to the recall, Toyota has also announced a halt to the sales of these sport-utility vehicles.

For a company that prides itself on its auto safety record (or at least did, until the acceleration crisis broke last year) it is surprising that this fuel leak problem was not revealed by the company's own testing. It was testing authorized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that revealed that these vehicles could leak fuel during a rear impact accident. The NHTSA hired a contractor to do the testing, which found that upon impact, the vehicle leaked more than the maximum allowed limit for such leakage, which is 142 g. The NHTSA then informed Toyota that it was not in compliance of fuel leak standards, and Toyota promptly issued a recall. You don't need to be a class action attorney to know that excessive fuel leakage during an accident can lead to catastrophic explosions.

This latest recall confirms that it's not just acceleration problems that seem to plague Toyota vehicles. Another Lexus model was involved in a recall earlier this year. That recall came after a test by Consumer Reports found that the vehicle was at a high risk of a rollover while making turns. Toyota immediately conducted testing which confirmed the problem, and the company issued a recall.

In this latest recall, Toyota has no immediate plans to fix the problems. All in all, it doesn't look like Toyota's troubles are ending anytime soon. The company’s total tally of recalled vehicles has touched 10 million since last year when the first recalls came in response to the acceleration problem.