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O'Connor, Runckel and O'Malley LLP would like to announce our 2019 law school scholarship recipient, Kristina Nakao. Kristina received her Political Science B.A., Magna Cum Laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles. Upon graduation, she worked as a Legal Assistant at a family law firm assisting in dissolution matters. Kristina is committed to serving the Asian and Pacific Islander community and is a volunteer with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Kristina is currently a first year law student at the University of San Diego School of Law.

2019 Law School Scholarship Recipient
Kristina Nakao

We look forward to seeing Kristina succeed in her upcoming years at the University of San Diego School of Law.

According to the California Highway Patrol, this powerful head-on collision resulted in “catastrophic damage.”

The California Highway Patrol has reported that two people have died so far, and five others were badly hurt in an apparent wrong-way crash that occurred in the early hours of the morning last Sunday, not far from Orinda.

Although the investigation is still in the early stages, it is suspected that the male driving a Saturn Vue was traveling east in the westbound lanes of Highway 24 between Fish Ranch Rd. and Wilder Rd. when his vehicle crashed head-on into the Toyota Camry, the CHP reported. 

The CHP said that a male passenger riding in the Saturn Vue was pronounced dead by first responders at the scene. The Saturn’s driver was rushed to a local hospital, where he later died.

The Toyota was carrying five males, all apparently in their 20s, when the two cars collided. They all sustained major injuries and were taken to various local hospitals, according to the CHP.

The CHP reported that the Saturn’s driver may have been driving with alcohol and/or drugs in his system when the cars collided. The Toyota’s driver was not under suspicion of driving under the influence.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Wrong Way Car Crash Wrongful Death
Wrong Way Car Crash Wrongful Death

Anyone who witnessed or has information about this car crash is asked to reach out to the Contra Costa CHP by calling (925) 646-4980.

Wrong Way Driving accidents in the U.S. each year cause the deaths of 300 to 400 people, which accounts for about 1% of the number of fatalities in traffic accidents annually. This may seem like a small percentage, but since crashes involving a wrong-way driver are head-on or sideswipe crashes going the opposite direction at high speeds, they tend to be far more severe than other types of traffic accidents.  

Wrong way driving results from drivers entering onto a freeway or highway from an exit ramp going the wrong way. It can also result from a driver losing control and/or crossing the center divider into the traffic lanes going the opposite way. Accidents resulting from wrong way drivers is a constant problem on roadways in the U.S.

A wrongful death is defined as a death resulting from the intentional, careless, reckless or negligent act of someone else or even a corporation. Every state in the U.S. guarantees victims’ children and families the right to compensation in the event of a wrongful death.

Contact O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley

The Law Firm of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley has more than 50 years of experience litigating or taking wrongful death cases to court. Our track record of gaining substantial settlements and winning in court proves our expertise. If you or a family member has been victimized by motor vehicle negligence it could be of great benefit to talk with a Bay Area attorney who specializes in auto accidents, so please contact us. We will listen to what happened, answer any questions you have while explaining your legal rights and how best to protect them.

(Source: 1 )

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The family of the driver who lost his life in a Santa Clara County car crash filed a lawsuit against Tesla on Wednesday. The lawsuit claims that Tesla is beta testing autopilot technology on open roadways in California.

The man who was killed was riding in his Tesla, which was on autopilot at the time of the crash. His family is suing the car manufacturer and others for wrongful death.

The lawsuit is not only against Tesla, but it could also include subcontractors who helped design and build the autopilot system on Tesla’s Model X. 

Walter Huang was killed in March 2018 when his 2017 Tesla Model X smashed into a barrier on Hwy.101 in the city of Mountain View while it was on autopilot. 

His grieving wife Sevonne Huang told the press that this Tesla was her husband’s dream car.

“I gave the car to him for his birthday,” she said.

Tesla Crash Lawyer
Auto Crash Lawyer

The family is convinced that the autopilot system is defective and probably the cause of Huang’s death.

Mark Fong, the family’s lawyer, said, “The car moved out of a safe lane, headed directly towards a solid concrete barrier while accelerating nearly 10 miles an hour in 3 seconds.”

Family members claim that Huang complained about the car constantly veering towards the same barrier at the very same location where the crash occurred. They also said that he took his car to the dealership a number of times to tell them about the malfunctioning autopilot.

The lawsuit is being filed on the grounds of defective product design along with intentional misrepresentation.

The company released a statement soon after the crash that said, “The driver took no evasive action even though he had a 5-second view of the divider before crashing into it.” The company went on to say, “Mr. Huang had received both visual and audible hands-on warnings earlier while driving and his hands were not on the steering wheel for a full 6 seconds before colliding into the barrier.”

Attorney Doris Cheng said, “Attempting to put the blame on Mr. Huang by suggesting that it was up to him to figure out what was wrong with his Tesla, is very unfair.”

The family also filed a lawsuit against the State of California, claiming that the highway median had no protective crash guard, which could have possibly prevented the death.

The lawsuit is for monetary damages, as yet unspecified.

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Huang’s wife said, “I’m doing this so that other families don’t suffer through the same experience.”

The NTSB has not yet released the final report of its investigation into the accident. When asked, a Tesla representative declined to comment on the lawsuit.

A number of other Tesla drivers have lodged complaints and filed lawsuits against Tesla for autopilot errors.

The autopilot feature is one of Tesla’s most popular features because it is supposed to take over other functions, like steering, braking, changing lanes and speed.

Last year a Tesla driver whose car was on autopilot fell asleep while the car kept driving all on its own. Eventually CHP officers boxed the Tesla in with their cars, slowing it down until it stopped. They then arrested the driver when he couldn’t pass the field sobriety test.

Source: (1)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

According to the California Highway Patrol, there may be as much as a 70% increase in DUI arrests in marijuana-related traffic accidents. Last year they released 2017 stats for the CHP Golden Gate District : 

For All of 2017: 

  • DUI arrests just for using cannabis: 197
  • DUI arrests for both cannabis and alcohol: 183
  • Traffic collision causing property damage plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 22
  • Traffic collisions causing an injury plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 7
  • Traffic collisions causing a death and a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 0
  • When alcohol is combined with cannabis, injury collisions in 2017 rose to 24 and fatal collisions were at 7
Marijuana DUI Arrests
Marijuana DUI Arrests

From January to mid-April of 2018:

  • DUI arrests just for cannabis: 87
  • DUI arrests for both cannabis and alcohol: 60
  • Traffic collision causing property damage plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 9
  • Traffic collisions causing an injury plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 7
  • Traffic collisions causing a death and a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 0
  • When alcohol is combined with cannabis, injury collisions were at 4 and fatal collisions were at 1

The CHP began keeping track of incidents in which drivers were stopped for erratic driving and the officer detected marijuana due to drug paraphernalia being found or a passenger was stoned. In these cases there was no DUI arrest. Through April 2018 that number was 3,754.

Marijuana-related traffic accidents have been getting a lot of attention in the news these past few years since 9 states plus the District of Columbia started legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. These states include: Colorado, Washington, California, Oregon, Alaska, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.

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Controversy still surrounds the discussion on exactly what a “marijuana-related accident” is because law enforcement in these states hasn’t yet completely defined the problem. The controversy began in 2016, which was 4 years after Colorado legalized the recreational use of pot, one of two states to do so at the time. Gary Johnson, who was running for President as the Libertarian candidate said, “’Marijuana-related’ hospital visits, fatal traffic accidents and school suspensions in Colorado have ‘not gone up significantly’ since the state legalized marijuana.”

Several official sources immediately refuted that claim, showing that there had been a huge rise in those exact problems since the drug had been legalized. The issue is that there is limited data, which makes it utterly impossible to know precisely which of these incidents were caused directly by the use of marijuana. explained it this way, “Unlike with alcohol use, when you test positive for marijuana it does not definitively mean that you were under the influence of marijuana when the traffic accident occurred.”

In any case, marijuana use is at the forefront in a number of fatal traffic accidents in those states where the laws pertaining to marijuana use have become less stringent. 

If you or a loved one has been the victim of motor vehicle negligence related to marijuana use and would like to speak with a Bay Area auto accident attorney, please contact us. At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley we have 50 years of litigation and trial experience. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

(Source: 1)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Two people were killed and nine injured in a collision that occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning, as reported by the California Highway Patrol.

CHP Officer Bert Diaz said a call came in at 2:33 a.m. about a three-car collision caused by a vehicle going south in the northbound lanes of the freeway near Vermont Street hitting two other vehicles. The wrong-way driver is thought to have used the Vermont Street off-ramp to enter the freeway. 

Officer Diaz went on to say that the wrong-way vehicle continued on, striking another vehicle near Cesar Chavez Street. That crash caused someone to be thrown from a vehicle and they later died. The wrong-way driver, who was later identified as Kayla Wilson, 21, from San Jose, was also killed.

Auto Accident Lawyer
Auto Accident

Diaz was not able to say at the time whether the person ejected was a passenger in the vehicle going the wrong way or was in the vehicle going northbound on the freeway.  

All freeway lanes going northbound were totally blocked from about 2:40 a.m. until just before 10:00 a.m.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner identified the other deceased person as Waheedullah Etimad, who was driving for Uber. Uber released a statement Sunday afternoon that said, “This was an extremely tragic incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and his heartbroken family. We will work with authorities in every way possible to assist in their investigation.”

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Etimad was a 40-year-old Afghan immigrant who had assisted the U.S. Army in his home country before coming to the United States in 2015 to support his family. He leaves behind a wife and seven children.

He worked with the U.S. Army as a translator, but chose to relocate to the U.S. when it became too dangerous. In one Taliban attack he was shot a total of five times.

The victim’s son, Yahya Etimad said, “There were so many Taliban and they knew he was helping the Americans, so they shot him. Luckily, he was taken to the hospital and his life was spared.” 

Etimad was studying computer science at Pleasant Hill’s Diablo Valley College while working full time, which included weekends, driving for Uber. 

A GoFundMe campaign has been started to raise money for Etimad’s family. Nearly $30,000 had already been raised as of Sunday night.

A group of six people had called for an Uber and were riding in Etimad’s Van when it was struck. Those six are currently recovering from their injuries, according to Dena Romios, a Power Muse concert promoter who employed two of those six.

Romios said Power Muse was planning on producing a Panos Kiamos concert, but the Greek pop star couldn’t get a U.S. visa due to a computer glitch at the American embassy in Canada. So, the singer had to cancel his concert.

A group consisting of two production staffers along with four fans had gone out for dinner in Redwood City and later arranged for an Uber, which turned out to be Waheed Etimad’s van.

Romios said of those six Uber passengers, four are in stable condition at Zuckerberg General Hospital and the other two have been released. 

(Source: 1 )

If you live with stress and anxiety, you know just how great a toll both can take on your life. Worry, anxiety and other forms of emotional distress may make it difficult for you to concentrate at work, enjoy your downtime or live a generally happy existence. If another person or entity caused your mental anguish due to their negligence, you may be able to gain compensation for your suffering.

Stress and Anxiety
Stress and Anxiety


Mental Anguish as a Non-Economic Damage

More often than not, the courts will classify emotional anguish as a non-economic damage. If this is the case, the courts will likely categorize your distress as "pain and suffering." Depending on in which state you live, and the nature of your accident, you may not be able to recover for pain and suffering. If you can recover compensation for these damages, the state may cap the amount you can recover.

Emotional Suffering as a Medically Documented Illness

In extreme cases, stress is a medically-documented illness. For instance, PTSD is a medically-documented form of strain. Signs your anxiety is a medical condition and not just pain and suffering are as follows:

  • You cannot identify the source of your tension.
  • Your friends, family and advisors cannot pinpoint the cause of your anguish.
  • Your primary care doctor suspects the source of your strain is a symptom of a physical ailment and he or she has the means to help ease it.

Documenting Emotional Damages

Regardless of the cause of your stress, you need to document your damages to maximize the amount you may recover. Some steps you can take to strengthen your personal injury claim are as follows:

  • Identify the type of emotional distress you're experiencing (fear, anxiety, depression).
  • Keep a journal in which you discuss how you feel on a daily basis.
  • Keep the bottles or labels of prescription medications you use to control your emotions.
  • Consult with a personal injury attorney who can advise you on what more you need to do to fortify your claim based on your individual situation.

Emotional distress can be just as damaging to your life as physical injuries. If another person's actions caused you to live with emotional agony, contact a lawyer for guidance today.

(Sources: 1, 2)

BRENTWOOD, CA – A three-vehicle traffic accident occurred Sunday night and injured two when the driver of a black Jeep Wrangler sped through a red light, according to what witnesses told the CHP.

It was just before 9:00 p.m. when the accident happened at the intersection of Marsh Creek Road and Walnut Boulevard. A CalStar air ambulance transported one of those injured to John Muir Medical Center’s Trauma Center in Walnut Creek. According to Captain Dan Baio from the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, the victim showed signs of a head injury.

Auto Accident Lawyer
Auto Accident

An ambulance transported the other injured person to Antioch’s Sutter Delta Medical Center. She had only suffered minor injuries to her shoulder and abdomen.

CHP officers at the scene of the accident said that a white Toyota Venza was being driven south on Walnut Boulevard when it slammed into the passenger side of a black Jeep Wrangler. The driver of the Jeep was going west on Marsh Creek Road when it ran the red light, according to CHP officers. The force of the collision rolled the Jeep over until it came to rest on its side. After initially colliding, both cars slammed into a white Ford F-350 stopped at the intersection.

CHP officers said they did not observe any indication that either driver was impaired, however, expectations are that the driver who ran the red light would be tested after being treated for his injuries.

Engines 52 and 59 of the EECCFPD responded to the accident as well as Battalion Chief Craig Auzenne plus several AMR medical units. East of the scene on Marsh Creek Road was where a landing zone was established for the medical helicopter and this affected traffic for about an hour.

The automobile accident attorneys at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley are well known and respected throughout the legal community and among our clients. From our offices in Contra Contra Costa County, San Francisco, and Sacramento, we serve clients throughout Northern California. Our experience and expertise are available to you.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of motor vehicle negligence and would like to speak with a Bay Area auto accident attorney, please contact us. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

(Source: 1)

Update: Oakland police said a suspect was taken into custody Wednesday; a second suspect was still being sought.

OAKLAND, CA – A 14-year-old boy riding his bike in the area of the Fruitvale BART Station was critically injured Wednesday after being struck by a car, then dragged for several blocks down the street, according to police.

The accident occurred Wednesday afternoon on 35th Avenue in the 1100 block. Police officers arrived on the scene in response to calls coming in about the incident, where they located the boy lying in the street.

Police said the car hit the cyclist and then dragged him for four long blocks before abruptly stopping, dislodging the boy from the car and leaving him injured in the street injured. 

Hit and Run
Hit and Run

The 14-year-old was transported in critical condition to a local hospital where he is now being treated, according to an OPD spokesperson.    

Police officers eventually found the suspect’s vehicle abandoned near the scene of the accident. They later found out that a passenger was also in the car when it struck the bicyclist.  

Police have not yet provided the public with a description of the hit-and-run vehicle, but are encouraging the driver and passenger to both turn themselves in to authorities.

No other information about the victim, car, driver or passenger was immediately available.

The Oakland Police Department asks anyone who witnessed this accident to report what they witnessed to their Traffic Investigative Section by phoning (510) 777-8570.

Crime Stoppers of Oakland has joined the Oakland Police Department in offering a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest in this case.

The bicycle accident attorneys at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley  work with medical professionals, vocational rehabilitation experts, and financial planners to determine all of the effects of serious injuries. We have the skill and experience to ensure that individuals and their families receive the financial support necessary to help them move forward with their lives. Contact us now for a free consultation with a bicycle accident injury attorney.

(Source: 1 )

If you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft accident, it can be hard to understand your rights when it comes to recovering injury-related expenses. That’s because ride-sharing apps occupy a legal gray area between the personal use of automobiles and commercial taxi operations in many states.

According to NOLO, the online legal reference library that works to break down legal concepts to the general public, ride sharing accidents usually fall under the driver’s personal insurance if the driver is at fault unless the insurance policy specifically excludes ride-sharing. Otherwise, a lawsuit on your behalf to recover damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance is common.

Uber Lyft Accident Lawyer
Uber Lyft Accident Lawyer

Immediately After an Uber or Lyft Crash

If you’re in a crash, take these steps to protect your legal rights down the road so you can get the medical treatment you need and recover the costs associated with your injury.

  • Contact 911 if the driver has not already done so, to report the accident.
  • Check to see if anyone in the car is injured and report it to the dispatcher if they are.
  • Get the insurance information from all the drivers involved so you can be sure you have what you need once fault is determined.
  • Contact the rideshare company’s customer service to report to them.

The Changing Insurance Landscape

More and more insurance companies are excluding rideshare time from their personal vehicle coverage policies. If an Uber or Lyft driver’s policy excludes rideshare, they should have a ride sharing insurance policy. One of the reasons it is important to contact customer service for your rideshare company is because they are carrying insurance on the drivers’ behalf more and more. According to a firsthand account in Fortune, the company began carrying its own insurance in 2013 in response to the rising tide of rideshare exclusions on personal policies.

The car accident attorneys at the law offices of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley provide legal expertise, strong trial skills and the essential investigation in order to successfully litigate your personal injury claims. If you have recently been in an accident and you have medical expenses or other losses associated with it, you should talk to an attorney before accepting any settlement. For a consultation with experienced attorneys, contact O’Connor, Runkel, and O’Malley LLP today.

Sources:  1, 2, 3

Just as there are apps to help decrease standard automobile accidents, there are also mandates going into effect in the trucking industry in an effort to reduce truck accidents. Electronic Logging Devices keep track of how long a trucker has been on the road to better ensure she or he doesn’t sit across the table from a truck accident attorney after falling asleep at the wheel. But are the devices effective?  

The Aim of the Devices

In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimated that ELDs could prevent roughly 1,700 crashes, 500 injuries and 20 deaths a year. This is because the devices make it so truck drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours in the road without resting. As truck accident attorney I can tell you that driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents.

Besides preventing accidents, logging devices can improve the trucking industry at large. Specifically, if truckers aren’t driving more than they should be, they’re less likely to burn themselves out. Fewer overworked truckers is likely to result in a lower employee turnover rate.

Trucking Accident
Trucking Accident

Are the Devices Reducing Salaries Along With Accidents?

For all the good they’re supposed to do, ELDs aren’t beloved by all truckers. One issue is the devices can actually make truckers drive a bit more recklessly than they normally would. This is because when drivers near their 11-hour limit and haven’t made it to their destination, some of them may speed up to get there faster.

There are still problems even when a truck driver hasn’t neared her or his destination when the 11-hour limit approaches. The issue is that not all truckers are able to find a safe place to park their vehicles when they reach their time limit. 

If you were recently involved in an accident with a truck, it may have been due to reckless or fatigued driving. Either way, it’s best you reach out to a truck accident attorney to explore your rights.

Sources: (12, 3 )


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