In these articles, we will discuss the common causes of car accidents, the legal rights of those who have been injured in a car accident, and the steps you should take if you have been injured in a car accident.
Car accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in the United States. If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
A car accident can cause many different types of injuries, ranging from minor all the way up to catastrophic and possibly fatal. Generally speaking, there are two different categories of injuries resulting from car accidents:
Impact injuries: These are caused by the victim being slammed into part(s) of the car.
Penetrating injuries: These are caused by objects penetrating into the victim.
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
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.
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. ProCon.org 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.
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.
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.
Weather conditions can have a huge impact on driver safety. It can affect driver visibility and control as well the vehicle’s maneuverability, stability, and traction. Rain, high winds and extreme temperatures affect roadway conditions, pavement friction and the flow of traffic, all of which can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Weather conditions affect roadways, the flow of traffic and the operational decisions that follow.
In an average year there are more than 5,748,000 car crashes occurring on U.S. roadways. Statistics show that in approximately 1,259.000 (22%) of these accidents, weather played a role. Weather-related traffic collisions are defined as car crashes that happen in bad weather. It could be fog, rain, snow, sleet, heavy crosswinds, the wind blowing sand, debris or snow across the road, and/or slick/slushy pavement caused by rain, snow, or ice. As a result of these weather-related collisions, nearly 6,000 people lose their lives and more than 445,000 are injured every year.
The overwhelming majority of these accidents occur when it’s raining and on wet pavement: 46% occur when it’s raining and 73% occur on wet pavement. Other weather-related collisions happen during typical winter weather conditions: 3% happen in the fog, 13% happen on icy roadways, 14% happen on snowy/slushy roads and 17% happen during sleet or snow storms.
What Drivers Should Do to Stay Safe
Everyone’s driving is affected by extreme weather. Heavy fog, rain, snow, sleet, ice and dust will all diminish your visibility.
Of all the various weather conditions that driver’s face, fog is considered the most treacherous. If you find yourself driving in heavy fog, slow down and turn on your car’s low-beam lights. If the fog is so thick that you barely have any visibility, pull off the road to safety and wait until the fog lifts to resume driving.
When it first starts drizzling, raining or snowing, slow down because this is exactly when roads are the most slippery. When moisture in the air mixes with dust and oil on the road, it can get very slippery, causing reduced traction. Under these conditions you are at risk of losing control of your car.
It’s not just cold winter weather, rain, sleet, ice and snow that can affect your driving, but high temperatures, heavy winds and glare from the sun can cause problems as well.
Bright sunlight and/or how light reflects on a streaked or dirty windshield will diminish visibility and this puts you at risk. Before starting your car you should remove dew, frost, or ice from not just your windshield, but all the windows as well.
It’s up to you to ensure that you are able to see clearly and be seen by other drivers. If you’re driving in rain or snow, stop regularly to wipe any mud or snow off all the windows, as well as the side mirrors, headlights and even the taillights. In an abundance of caution, even in daylight during perfectly clear weather, keep your headlights on so that other drivers can see you.
When it’s windy outside it can affect how well you can control the steering. Head winds can slow you down, whereas tail winds will push the car forward, increasing your speed.
Crosswinds can push the car sideways, causing it to swerve. This affects larger vehicles like vans, SUVs and trucks more. If you find yourself driving in a crosswind, slow down and steer very carefully. If heavy winds persist, pull over to safety until the winds die down.
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.
Roads in the Bay Area are becoming more dangerous, not just for drivers trying to navigate the crowded highways, but for pedestrians and cyclists, as well who are increasingly getting killed making their way through city streets.
MTC researcher David Vautin said, “There are definitely more people living in the Bay Area and using the roads, which may be responsible for a portion of the increase. Plus, more drivers are coming in from further away, on long boring commutes.”
The increase in the area’s population and the longer distances commuters are driving still cannot account for the increase in the number of people being killed on Bay Area roads and highways during those years, according to Vautin. In 2010 there were 318 fatal crashes, which rose to 455 in 2016. In five out of those six years, the fatalities increased and this was after declines during the previous four years. However, 2016 wasn’t the year with the most because there were 509 deadly crashes in 2003, which was the high point in the 16 years that the study spanned.
Some traffic experts think there are more “distracted drivers,” with people using their cell phones to make calls, send text messages or check Facebook while driving, he explained. While others blame the decrease in life-saving technology after the widespread adoption of anti-lock brakes, shatterproof windshields and seat belts. New breakthroughs have not been implemented to the same extent.
But, at the end of the day, the real problem is basic human error, according to Stephanie Mak, an MTC data analyst. In analyzing reports of fatal collisions that occurred between 2010 and 2016, she discovered three major culprits: excessive speed, unsafe turns and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Mak concluded that it was “unsafe behavior on the part of drivers” that caused the majority of fatal crashes, nothing more, nothing less.
This situation is not exclusive to the Bay Area. Across California and the nation at large, fatal collisions have been on the increase ever since the recession, according to spokesman Chris Cochran of the California Office of Traffic Safety. He said that deadly traffic collisions rose 33% in California between 2010 and 2016, adding that this wasn’t totally unexpected.
What usually happens is that in an economic down turn, fewer people are on the roads traveling or commuting for recreation or work. Once the economy improves, people start hitting the roads more often.
“We’re basically returning to pre-recession figures,” he said. “However, there is a real danger that we could move beyond that.”
Cochran went on to say that recent technological developments, like interactive dashboards in cars can be very distracting. But other automatic innovations, such as “driver-assist” technology in the form of alarms that sound when you are about to collide with another vehicle or when you swerve out of your lane, can certainly help, he added.
However, these highly advanced features are not prevalent in most vehicles. Driverless cars, which are being touted as the no-collision option, are many years away from being adopted by the masses.
Until that time comes, Mak has been conferring with other officials working in regional transportation planning agencies as well as her colleagues at the state to determine what they are doing to lower the numbers of fatal crashes. She’s trying to figure out what could specifically be done better in the Bay Area. In the end, it could be more effective enforcement for impaired drivers and those who speed, she said. Or, possibly more campaigns and outreach to better educate motorists.
There are some cities in which residents and business owners are speaking up about their desire for safer streets, wanting their streets designed to be safer. San Jose, Fremont and San Francisco have decided to join the “Vision Zero” traffic safety movement, which is promoting an effort to redesign city roads and highways in ways that will eliminate deadly collisions.
The roads that have already been redesigned seem to be making a difference, according to Cathy DeLuca, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group, Walk SF. In 2014, the city of San Francisco enacted Vision Zero as a policy. As a result, the number of deadly crashes in 2016 went down, according to preliminary data. DeLuca remarked that figures for 2017 look promising, with approximately 33% fewer deaths having occurred on roads so far this year.
Ginger Jui, spokeswoman for Bike East Bay, a nonprofit group advocating for cyclists, said that there are more cyclists than ever navigating the roads in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and this could be the reason for the increase in fatal crashes. However, she commented that the addition of protected bike lanes and adjustments to city streets designed to slow down speeding vehicles are definitely working to save lives.
She said, “Whenever you can reduce speeding, it benefits everyone on the road.”
The auto accident lawyers at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley are very experienced in this area of the law and highly respected in the legal community. We provide our legal expertise to people throughout Northern California from our offices in Sacramento, San Francisco and Contra Costa County. Please reach out to us if you or a family member has been in an auto accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of another. We will gladly offer you our legal advice and expertise.
Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP
In the US, Wrong Way Driving accidents result in an average of 300 to 400 deaths per year, speaking to around 1 percent of the aggregate number traffic fatalities that happen yearly. While this is a small overall percentage, because wrong way driving crashes include head-on or opposite direction sideswipe crashes at high speeds, they have a tendency to be more extreme than different sorts of accidents.
Wrong-way driving is a result of drivers making wrong way entries onto freeways or other controlled-access highways, or making mainline moves that bring about driving the wrong way/direction. Impacts from wrong-way drivers is a persistent issue on US roadways. Because the results of wrong-way driving accidents are a great deal more serious than different sorts of crashes, government traffic safety agencies consistently audit various access control measures. Typical measures include the design of on/exit ramp approaches and signage. The goal is to find potential changes or additions that will reduce wrong-way entries.
Furthermore, they look to investigate the potential advantages of detecting wrong way driving incidents, and providing quick warnings to the wrong way driver, to relevant authorities, and to other drivers in the immediate area. In Sacramento and San Diego, they are testing just such a system, with positive results.
It was immediately obvious that a car was heading the wrong way as it entered an off-ramp of a highway in West Sacramento. It occurred on the 5th and Bridge St. exit ramp of Highway 50, which is across from the home of Egor Mikhayloeskiy. He’s witnessed too many near-accidents caused by wrong-way drivers. Mikhayloeskiy reported, “I see drivers doing this several times a day.”
Many visitors to the Bay Area use the exit on 5th and Bridge St. on their way to Raley Field to see the Rivercats, the Giants’ AAA team, play. But that particular off-ramp is very often mistaken for an on-ramp. “I always see cars from all directions honking at drivers heading onto the off-ramp, trying to warn them not to go there,” said Mikhayloeskiy. That’s why the California Highway Patrol has partnered with Caltrans in a trial program to prevent accidents caused by wrong-way drivers.
The program is being tried out in Sacramento and areas of San Diego to start with. The 5th and Bridge St. off-ramp in Sacramento is among 17 spots along Highway 50 that are included in the project, said Gilbert Mohtes-Chan, spokesperson for Caltrans. “These countermeasures are our latest attempt to aggressively combat the serious problem posed by wrong-way driving,” he said. There are huge “Do not enter” signs posted on the off-ramp, along with bright red reflectors warning drivers that they are going the wrong way. “We are trying to get drivers to self-correct so they turn their car around on the off-ramp and drive back off,” said Mike Sheets, a CHP Officer.
Additional countermeasures have been taken on six off-ramps by equipping them with a specialized radar system run on solar power. When the system’s sensors detect a vehicle driving the wrong way, it sets off a series of warnings: the signs start flashing LED lights, video cameras start operating and the vehicle’s license plates are captured, plus a loud alarm goes off on highway patrol cell phones and computers at Rancho Cordova’s Traffic Management Center.
“Every second counts when you have a wrong-way driver,” Officer Sheets explained. “We need to get there as fast as possible so we can stop this driver.” The project, which is slated to run for two years, just began in January. Since then it’s detected 2 wrong-way drivers. One suffered a minor crash. The driver was subsequently arrested for DUI, according to Sheets.
The second driver heeded the warnings at 5th and Bridge St., and turned the car around before entering the highway going the wrong way. So, the system worked as planned. “It seems to be working well so far,” Officer Sheets exclaimed.
The wrong-way driver that we saw stopped after spotting the warning signs. A police officer driving by helped guide the car off the ramp. “Drivers suddenly realize now that they’re going the wrong way and turn around on their own,” Mikhayloeskiy said.
“As a result of these safety measures, I’m not seeing wrong-way drivers entering the highway on the off-ramp like I used to,” Mikhayloeskiy said.
O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP is a law firm serving the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Our attorneys represent clients in a wide array of serious personal injury claims. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to another's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys possess the specialized knowledge needed to win maximum compensation in complex cases.
The chances of getting into a traffic accident go up during times when more cars are out on the road, like during rush hour, or when road conditions and/or visibility are compromised, like during inclement weather. However, the odds of an accident skyrocket when there is an increase in the number of people driving under the influence. Research has been done as to when motorists are most apt to be involved in an accident involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The results offer good information as to when those times occur the most so we can avoid being out on the road when we are at the greatest risk of being involved in an accident.
California law prohibits any driver from using a handheld mobile phone or device while driving. Drivers under the age of 18 in California are considered novices, and as such are prohibited from any use of cell phones while driving, handheld or not.
Since the law does not permit the use of handheld cell phones while driving, these are the remaining options:
While driving simply abstain from using your cell phone
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