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Two Drivers Severely Injured in Brentwood Traffic Accident

A three-car collision on Vasco Road that occurred Monday afternoon resulted in severe injuries to two drivers who had to be airlifted to a local trauma center for their injuries.

The 3:09 p.m. crash happened about one mile south of where Walnut Boulevard intersects with Vasco Road in Brentwood.

Auto Accident Lawyer
Auto Accident

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is continuing its investigation, but at this point there are very few details about the cause of the accident. What is apparent is that a black Toyota Corolla broadsided a silver Audi A4. A helicopter flew the Audi’s driver to John Muir Medical Center’s trauma center in Walnut Creek with “massive trauma” as described by Craig Auzenne, Battalion Chief of East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).

The Toyota’s driver was up and walking right after the collision, but soon after he began suffering from his injuries. People assisting at the scene immediately after the accident loaded him into a passerby’s truck bed. When paramedics and firefighters arrived they initially treated him there before a CHP helicopter transported him to John Muir Medical Center. He suffered a broken wrist, chest pains, shortness of breath and it’s possible he had other injuries.

The third vehicle involved in the accident was a gray Nissan Versa and paramedics at the scene treated and released that driver, whose car had front-end damage. Authorities are unsure as to what caused that damage.

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The only occupants of the three vehicles involved were the drivers.

After the accident, Vasco Road remained closed between Camino Diablo and Walnut Boulevard while the victims were being rescued and treated and the two helicopters occupied the roadway.

Aside from the helicopters, Engines 52 and 59 of ECCFPD rushed to the scene, along with two AMR rescue ambulances, two battalion chiefs and a number of CHP officers. It took nearly 90 minutes to work the accident scene.

If you or a family member has been the victim of a traffic accident involving negligence and would like the advice of a reputable Bay Area attorney specializing in car accidents, please contact us. We can answer all your questions, advise you of your legal rights and how best to protect them. O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley has 50 years of experience in personal injury litigation and trials. We have the kind of expertise and track record of success that can help you prevail in this situation.

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

(Source: The Press )

Serious Nursing Home Abuse Often Not Reported To Police

If your loved one has been physically, medically, psychologically, or financially abused, neglected, or exploited, by a nursing home, assisted care facility or in-home care provider, call O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley, a personal injury law firm, today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation with an elder abuse/nursing home negligence attorney

Over 25% of serious abuse cases occurring in nursing homes are not being reported to law enforcement. The Office of Inspector General, which is part of the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services, issued an alert about this last Monday.

Despite state and federal law demanding that serious nursing home incidents involving abuse must be reported to the police, many cases never were.

Governmental investigators are doing an extensive ongoing review of reports of abuse and neglect occurring in nursing homes but are issuing the alert now because immediate action is required due to the seriousness of the cases they’ve found so far.

The abuse cases are so severe that the victims were sent to the emergency room. The alert cited an example of a woman who was terribly bruised from a sexual assault that occurred in her nursing home room, yet this was not reported to law enforcement.

Federal law requires that such an assault be reported to law enforcement within two hours of the crime being discovered. But that wasn’t done according to Curtis Roy, the Department of Health & Human Services’ assistant regional inspector general.

“Instead, they cleaned the victim up and this actually destroyed crucial evidence that the police could have relied on while investigating this crime.”

The nursing home did tell the family that their loved one had been sexually assaulted the previous day. The family then went to police to file a report on the crime. Even after the crime had been reported, the nursing home attempted to conceal the crime, according to Roy.

“They actually contacted the police department trying to persuade them that no investigation was necessary and attempted to dissuade them from coming out to the nursing home to look into the incident,” said Roy.

Examining records pulled from 2015 and 2016, Roy and his investigative team discovered 134 incidents of residents in nursing homes being abused so severely that they needed to go to the emergency room. The overwhelming majority of these incidents were sexual assaults.

“There is absolutely no excuse for allowing someone to suffer this degree of torture, never ever,” says Roy.

elder abuse lawyer

The abuse cases occurred in 33 different states, with Illinois having the most incidents, which numbered 17. Investigators found that in 72% of the cases law enforcement did get a report within the required two hours. But, that leaves 28% unreported. Investigators made the decision to report every single one of these 134 cases of abuse to the police. Roy said, “We were so worried that we would rather over-report than risk the chance that a single case would remain unreported.”

The Inspector General’s alert says nursing home regulators, who are the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), must do a better job of tracking these abuse cases. They said that CMS should do exactly what Curtis Roy’s team did: look at Medicare claims submitted by residents of nursing homes and cross-reference their emergency room claims. This way the investigators could see whether a Medicare recipient had filed a claim for emergency room care during the same time they were filing a claim for nursing home care. If so, the investigators could look at the emergency room diagnosis and determine whether the patient appeared to be a crime victim, as would be the case if the diagnosis indicated a physical and/or sexual assault.

The alert emphasized that in 2011 federal law regarding the issue of nursing home abuse was strengthened. The law now requires that anyone who even suspects that a resident in a nursing home had been abused to the extent that it caused them to suffer serious bodily injury are required to report these suspicions to the police within no more than two hours. If they suspect a nursing home resident has been abused, but not to the extent of serious bodily injury, they have up to 24 hours to report the abuse to law enforcement. 

Failure to make the required abuse report to law enforcement within the specified time period can result in fines being imposed of up to $300,000.

However, CMS never received specific instructions from the Secretary of Health & Human Services to exercise the authority to carry out the penalties and collect the fines. According to the alert, CMS only this year started to seek the authority to enforce the law. There was no one from CMS who would agree to be interviewed for this article. 

Obviously, the 134 incidents of severe nursing home abuse discovered by the investigators represent just a tiny percentage of the 1.4 million currently residing in the country’s nursing homes. But, according to Curtis Roy, these cases are likely to be just the tip of the ice burg, since his investigators were only able to pinpoint abuse victims who were sent for emergency room care. “This is the absolute worst possible thing,” he said. “I don’t believe for a second that anyone could possibly think this is anywhere near being acceptable.”

“We must do a whole lot better,” says Roy, at “ridding our healthcare system of any form of abuse, no matter how minor.”

One fact that investigators were not able to find out is whether or not any of the nursing homes where incidents of abuse occurred were ever fined or penalized in some way for ignoring the law in not reporting these incidents and in some cases, trying to cover up the evidence. That information will likely be covered in the Inspector General’s complete report, which should be released next year. 

(Source: NPR)

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

O’Connor, Runckel and O’Malley LLP 2017 Scholarship Recipient

O’Connor, Runckel and O’Malley LLP would like to announce our 2017 scholarship recipient, Jordyn Sequeira. Jordyn graduated Cum Laude from Arizona State University and is currently in her second year of law school at University of San Francisco. Throughout her first year of law school Jordyn exhibited a strong commitment to social justice, consistently volunteering through the USF’s ProBono Programs. Jordyn worked various clean slate clinics, where she provided free legal assistance to people who suffer from the collateral consequences of having criminal records. Over the summer she served as a legal intern in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. After she graduates she plans to continue to dedicate her time to battling social injustices.

Jordyn Sequeira
Jordyn Sequeira


We wish Jordyn continued success at UCSF School of Law.

One in Ten Highway Deaths Caused By Collision With Big Rig

Most of the highway deaths involving large truck collisions are of occupants in passenger vehicles. Occupants of smaller vehicles are extremely vulnerable because they must share the road with large trucks. Many trucks weigh 25-30 times as much as an average car and are much taller. The problem is that a smaller car following behind a huge truck risks an underride collision with the truck.

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Factors in Big Rig Collisions

The length of time it takes a fully loaded tractor-trailer to brake is one factor contributing to big rig collisions. It can take them 20% - 40% farther that it takes an average car to stop, and even farther if the road is wet or the brakes haven’t been properly maintained.

Another factor is truck driver fatigue. Federal law stipulates that drivers operating large trucks can drive no more than 11 hours in one stretch and no more than 77 hours in a week’s time. However, surveys suggest that many drivers ignore the law and drive for longer periods of time, which causes them to become overly fatigued.  

Truck Accident Fatality Statistics
Courtesy IIHS

Where Collisions With Trucks Happen

A study on fatal collisions in 2015 that involved large trucks provided the following statistics:

  • 53% occurred on major roads rather than on freeways and/or interstate highways
  • 30% occurred on freeways and/or interstate highways
  • 14% occurred on smaller, less traveled roads

Large Truck Collisions Compared to Passenger Vehicle Collisions

In 2015, over half of occupant deaths in large trucks occurred in collisions that caused their truck to roll over. This percentage was similar to the occupant fatalities in SUVs and pickup trucks that rolled over in crashes. Interestingly, those percentages were much higher than the 23% of occupant deaths that occurred in car rollovers.

Trucking Accident
Trucking Accident

Drunk Driving Has Subsided

Drivers of large trucks killed in fatal accidents almost never are found to have high levels of blood alcohol concentrations (BACs). Truck drivers are under very strict regulations by the government regarding drinking and driving. Only 3% of truck drivers killed in fatal collisions in 2015 showed a BAC level at or above 0.08%. That is far lower than the figure in 1982, which was 51%, so it is apparent that the trucking regulations in place now for drinking and driving are having the desired effect.

At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley we have over 50 years of experience. We have the expertise and a proven track record of success in personal injury lawIf you or a loved one has been the victim of trucking or big rig accident and would like to speak with an attorney, please contact us. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

(Source: IIHS)

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


Charges Filed in Death of Resident of Independent Living Facility

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – After an investigation by the California Department of Justice the owner of Manse on Marsh along with a former employee have been arrested in connection with the wrongful death of one of the independent living facility’s residents.

The Attorney General’s Office of the State of California filed charges on July 19, 2017 against Christopher Skiff, 54, and Gary Potts, 63, for involuntary manslaughter and dependent adult and elderly abuse. Investigators maintain that these men knowingly and willfully put the life of Mauricio Cardenas, 65, in danger, which led to his 2014 death, as alleged in the complaint.

Manse on Marshe Manslaughter
Manse on Marshe Independent Living Facility

“The inquiry was brought about because Cardenas’ death was so odd,” according to a report given in 2015 by Skiff to CalCoastNews. “Law enforcement and our own District Attorney absolved us both of any criminal wrong doing.”

On December 21, 2014, Cardenas was trying to cross Los Osos Valley Rd. in Los Osos when a 2010 Dodge Challenger hit and ultimately killed him. Ricardo Serafin, 26, was driving the Challenger at the time. Serafin was determined not to be at fault by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) because the area where Cardenas was trying to cross was in complete darkness.

The Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse got a letter on December 30, 2014 saying, “Cardenas should have never been admitted to the MMALF independent living facility since he had been diagnosed with dementia and MMALF does not have a dementia waiver and therefore is not allowed to house residents with dementia.”

The letter goes on to allege that, as a result, Cardenas never received the proper oversight and care that his condition required.

“The consensus is that if Cardenas had been placed in an appropriate living environment with the proper security precautions his safety could have been looked after and he would not have lost his life,” according to the letter.

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According to CalCoastNews, on March 24, 2015, investigators with California’s Medicare Fraud & Elder Abuse Division raided Manse on March seizing computers and files. Kristin Ford, DOJ Press Secretary, said that a search warrant had been issued, which justified the raid.  

“We will confirm that on March 24, 2015 we served a legal search warrant on the facilities of Manse on March, located in San Luis Obispo,” Ford said in replying to a 2015 email inquiry. “Because this involves an active criminal investigation, we cannot provide any additional information or make any official comments at the present time.”

Manse on March is an independent assisted living community providing seniors with some level of care along with certain amenities. There are 87 apartments situated on the property in three separate buildings.

One resident’s family member reported that once investigators started searching through the facility, Skiff met with residents and staff in a group setting and advised them to consult with an attorney before they spoke to any of the investigators.

Potts was booked into the Smith County Jail in Texas where he remains held without bail. Skiff was booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail and released the same day.

The most vulnerable adults among us are often our elderly. Often elderly adults become victims of abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. An estimated 1 to 2 million elderly adults are injured, exploited or mistreated every year. Problems of malnutrition, bedsores, neglect, infections, falls, fractures, dehydration, failure to medicate & monitor, financial abuse, as well as physical, verbal, and sexual abuse exists in many nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley, we are committed to helping the elderly and their families through these difficult situations. Every person deserves to be safe from harm by those who care for them. If your loved one has suffered abuse in a nursing home, assisted living facility or from in-home care provider, the personal injury attorneys at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley can help you obtain justice for your loved one. Contact us today for a free case evaluation with an experienced elder abuse attorney.

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