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PITTSBURG – Gemma Bassi, a 70-year-old woman, was badly injured last year in a bus accident as a result of being thrown from her wheelchair while riding the bus. She has filed a lawsuit for $250,000 against the city of Pittsburg and the bus company, Tri-Delta Transit.

In the lawsuit, Bassa claims she suffered multiple fractured bones, a sprained neck, injuries to her lower back and multiple contusions when a Dial-a-Ride bus she was taking slammed into a speed bump on Norine Road while allegedly going too fast. The accident occurred on December 23, 2014, causing Bassi to be thrown from her wheelchair into the interior side of the bus. As she was thrown her feet became jammed beneath an interior wheel well, causing several toes to break and her dentures to be permanently damaged, according to her attorney. Ironically, Bassi was returning from the hospital when the accident occurred.

WALNUT CREEK – A crash involving three vehicles on an interstate interchange ultimately took the life of an Oakland woman nearly a week after the accident, authorities announced Tuesday.

A GoFundMe campaign was set up by Krystal Bystrom’s friends to raise money for funeral expenses. Bystrom died October 20th, having survived for six days after the tragic accident. The crash occurred on the ramp connecting the southbound Interstate 680 to Hwy 24 going westbound. Traffic suddenly slowed down causing a chain-reaction of vehicles crashing. This forced Bystrom’s Toyota Prius into the back end of a big rig truck.

The Contra Costa County Coroner confirmed Bystrom’s death in the hospital. It was determined that she died of injuries suffered in the accident. Her death came just a few days before turning 34.

A 33-year-old female was riding with Bystrom in the Prius at the time of the accident, and although seriously injured, she is recovering.

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 overlook 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.