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OAKLAND, CA – AC Transit has settled a lawsuit filed by an Oakland woman for injuries she suffered riding her bicycle when she was struck by a bus. The incident occurred in Emeryville back in 2012. The woman will receive a pay out of $2.5 million.

This is just one of a number of large settlements or verdicts announced against the transit agency in the past few years. Carter Zinn, the attorney who brought the case on behalf of the injured woman, said this case underscores a lack of training for AC Transit drivers as well as a lack of discipline and accountability for reckless drivers.

According to Zinn, “The AC Transit has systematically failed to identify and get the message to dangerous drivers that their driving habits are unacceptable and that they will be disciplined. If these drivers do not get the message they should be taken off the road.”

The board of directors of AC Transit last week approved the amount of the settlement in the civil case filed in Alameda County, McClendon v. Transit. No one from their office returned our calls asking for comment.

According to Zinn, on July 17, 2012 Cara McClendon, 35 was on her bicycle riding along San Pablo Ave. near 45th St. in Emeryville. An AC Transit bus, being driven by Lynn Jackson was making a left turn when she hit McClendon. The bus was empty at the time as it was returning to the transit yard located on 45th St. Jackson did not slow down to check if anyone was in the intersection, before she made the turn going 20 miles an hour. Zinn also said that AC Transit tells its drivers to enter turns driving no faster than 5 miles an hour.

Recent articles in the Contra Costa Times on cycling accidents have been alarming and cause for a rethinking of how we address the various types of riders on our roads. Our public roadways are for everyone; car drivers, trucks, bikers and cyclists.  Cyclists love riding Mount Diablo because it offers a test of vigor and skill, and scenic pleasures beyond a normal biking trail.  However, bikers do understand the dangers, as Bruce McConnell from the Press Democrat explains:

I will caution that nearly all of the cycling accidents on Diablo are on the downhill descent as riders overcook corners or collide with cars passing going uphill. Slow down, the view going down should be experienced not raced.

Laws on Use of Cell Phones

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
  • Put your cell phone on speaker mode
  • Rely on a Bluetooth wireless earpiece
  • Wear a wired headset attached to your phone
  • Have a car kit and mount installed

Motorcycle Accident LawyerThe Bay Area has its share of motorcycle accidents, perhaps due to the fair weather we have in the area that increases the use of motorcycles and convertibles. Last Tuesday, a motorcyclist was killed after colliding with a sedan during the last half of rush hour. The collision occurred just north of the Embarcadero Road off ramp in Palo Alto, according to the California Highway Patrol. Apparently, the motorcyclist was going quite fast when the bike crashed into the sedan, causing the rider to be thrown from the Yamaha. There was no evidence to support any impairment due to drugs or alcohol having anything to do with the crash.

The accident stopped traffic and with other traffic difficulties the first responders could not get to the driver for ten minutes. According to the Contra Costa Times, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman expressed concern about the failure to reach the accident scene quickly.

Contact O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley

Menlo's District Board of Directors had resolved the week prior to the accident to adopt new protocols which would put first responders on a scene within seven minutes of a dispatch report. In this case, the Fire Department failed to meet those standards.

Motorcycle accidents are always scary to read about because you instinctively know that there is either going to be a severe injury or fatality involved. Accidents are trending downwards due to safer vehicles and features that alert drivers to other vehicles in their vicinity, however, motorcycles still rank high in accidents. This is mostly due to vehicle operators not expecting, or not seeing them in their blind spots. Car and truck drivers often overlook motorcycles as they change lanes or make turns. It is in fact, rarely the motorcycle operator which causes accidents.

Motorcycle accident lawyers often must work with families of accident victims because the accident was either fatal or so severely debilitating that the victim is not available. Usually, it is their family looking for a personal injury attorney to help them facilitate insurance claims or file the lawsuit. Our firm provides compassionate advice to all our clients and when we must go to court or trial to provide compensation we do that, too. It's unfortunate that drivers are not better trained to look for motorcycle riders because the result of a moment's negligence can cost a life.

The 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 Costa County, San Francsico and Sacramento, we serve clients throughout Northern California. Our experience and expertise are available to you.

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

The truth is that a great number of people who must seek compensation for injury or death on our nation's roads do so for accidents related to trucks.  According to the data provided by the US Department of Transportation there are close to half a million truck accidents each year nationally, with a larger than average percentage of highway fatalities caused by accidents involving trucks.  These are sad and difficult statistics given just how few of them are on the roads comparative to other vehicles.  According to the 2013 SWITRS report on trucking fatalities compiled by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) where a truck driver was at fault, the five most common causes were:

  • Improper turning
  • Unsafe speeds
  • Not giving an automobile the right of way
  • Ignoring traffic signals and signs
  • Not giving pedestrians the right of way

Contra Costa County

A San Pablo man was arrested late Sunday evening following a fiery crash that left 3 people dead. At about 10 PM a 1971 Chevrolet Camaro, travelling eastbound  at high speed on San Pablo Dam road near El Sobrante, left its lane and sideswiped a Honda Civic in the westbound direction. The driver of the Camaro, 28  year old Justin Gardner, lost control of the vehicle, and hit a tree.

O’Connor, Runckel and O’Malley LLP would like to announce our 2015 scholarship recipient, Luis Beltran. Luis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He graduated UNLV with a 3.6 gpa. Luis is a strong member of his community while holding positions as a mediator, house parent, and probation officer. In the fall, Luis will be attending the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Luis expresses his commitment to utilizing his law degree in order to advocate for victims and to improve the quality of life for underserved communities.

O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley 2015 Scholarship Recipient
Luis Beltran

We look forward to watching Luis succeed in his upcoming years at Hastings.

If you have been seriously injured due to someone else's negligence, you have the right to seek compensation. In the case of a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person, also called the plaintiff, seeks compensation from the person or company that is legally responsible for the accident: the defendant or their insurers. A damage award can be agreed upon out of court in a private, negotiated settlement, or it can be ordered by a judge/jury following a court trial.

To determine how much your case is worth, it is important to know just what factors into a personal injury claim.

A CHP officer, Sean Harrington, 35, of Martinez is under investigation for allegedly forwarding nude photos of a woman in custody from her cell phone to his. The woman is a 23 year old DUI suspect who had nude and partially nude photos of herself stored on her cell phone.  The attorney representing the woman believes there are likely to be other victims.

The woman became aware of the theft when she noticed that the photos in question had been forwarded to a phone number that turned out to be Harrington's. The Contra Costa District Attorney's office served a search warrant at the officer's Martinez home and seized his cell phone, which contained photos, text messages and instant messages from the victim's phone. The attorney representing the woman believes that other victims will surface based on the fact that multiple search warrants were served in the investigation.

CHP officer suspected of stealing nude pictures from DUI suspect he arrested

The arrest occurred just after midnight on August 29th when Harrington and his partner stopped a white sedan on Interstate 680 near Crow Canyon Road in San Ramon. The woman failed a field sobriety test with a blood alcohol level of 0.29 and was taken into custody for suspicion of DUI. During the traffic stop Harrington asked for the woman's cell phone password, which she gave to him. Investigators used video surveillance of the booking area to determine that Harrington forwarded the photos to himself at 2:08 AM, while the woman was in custody.

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