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Santa Clara County personal injury attorneyGetting into a car accident can have devastating consequences for those in the vehicles affected. Astoundingly, almost 1.3 million people die each year in car accidents and an additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. Whenever a person gets into a vehicle, they are taking a risk. Drivers can lessen the risk that they will get into an accident by never driving after consuming drugs or alcohol, avoiding distractions like cell phones, and keeping a lookout for careless drivers. There are many things that can trigger a car accident, but you may be surprised as to the main causes of such accidents.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become a more serious problem every year. Having the world at our fingertips on a cell phone has made it more tempting than ever to take your eyes off of the road. The National Safety Council reports that 1.6 million crashes each year are caused by distracted drivers. In fact, distracted driving is so dangerous that 1 out of 4 of all car accidents are caused by it.

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San Jose car accident lawyerThe moments after a car accident can be frightening and overwhelming. Even as the vehicles are coming to a stop, many people have a variety of thoughts racing through their heads, all at the same time. Is everyone okay? Is anyone injured? Am I hurt?

While you are taking stock of your situation following a crash, you should, of course, check yourself for injuries, keeping in mind that injuries are not always immediately apparent. Car accident victims may suffer whiplash, damage to soft tissue, concussions, spinal injuries, broken bones, and other serious injuries that may not become obvious for several hours or even days after the accident. Many of those who are involved in a car accident are quick to conclude that they are not injured, but these assumptions can be dangerous.

Fight or Flight Hormones Mask Pain

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san jose personal injury attorneyWhether it be by a yellow school bus, the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA), an intrastate bus line connecting various cities throughout California, or an interstate bus line that transports people from one state to the next, public transit buses are a valuable and affordable transportation option for all. Unfortunately, they can also be exceedingly dangerous when an accident occurs, and the dangers are not limited to passengers only. When it comes to bus accidents, anyone in the vicinity, including pedestrians, bicyclists, other drivers, motorcyclists could be at risk—children and adults alike.

Buses on American Roadways Experience Thousands of Accidents per Year

Although buses are thought to experience fewer accidents than the collective of individual drivers each year, a 2010 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute shows that these accidents occur far more often than most realize—and many are catastrophic. According to the study’s findings analysis, approximately 63,000 accidents involving buses occur each and every year. Furthermore, a comparative study from the Journal of Safety Research found that, while bus accidents account for an overall small share of the traffic accidents in America each year, their accident per million passenger miles is comparable to those of individual automobile drivers.

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San Jose personal injury attorneyWhen you have been hurt in a car accident, a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, or any other type of incident, your first priority should be making a full physical recovery if at all possible. Of course, depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to collect compensation for your injuries from the party who caused or allowed the accident to happen. While there is no legal requirement for you to hire a personal injury attorney following an accident, doing so could be the key to getting the money you need to put your life back together.

Analyze the Situation

If your accident left you with a few bumps and bruises and relatively minor damage to your property—common in minor fender-benders—you might be able to navigate filing an insurance claim on your own. While the insurance company may still try to offer you a lowball settlement, there are not very many uncertainties to be addressed. However, if your accident totaled your car, put you in the hospital for a few days, and caused long-lasting injuries that will affect you for years to come, you should probably call a lawyer. An attorney is also useful if the insurance company refuses to pay, regardless of the severity of the accident.

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San Jose personal injury lawyerIf you or a loved one has recently suffered an injury due to the negligence of someone else, you have likely been visiting health professionals in an attempt to get back to normal. For this, you are spending your time and hard earned money to resolve something that was not your fault. That does not seem very fair, does it? The person who is at fault should pay for the damages they have caused. This principle is the basis of personal injury claims.

Civil Court

There two types of cases in the American court system: civil and criminal. Personal injury cases are tried in a civil court because a civil court is where private citizens or companies can take action against one another. No criminal laws are addressed here. Unlike criminal cases, there is no right to a court-appointed attorney, so you will need to secure your representation. Judges, commissioners, or juries decide the verdict. Decisions are on the amount of the evidence but the believability of one story over the other.

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personal injury claim, San Jose personal injury attorneyIf you have been in a car accident that was caused by another driver, you may have a personal injury claim. Under California law, there are some very specific steps you have to take to protect your rights and to pursue a claim for compensation for your damages. A personal injury claim is a process, not a single event.

Understanding Negligence

Before you can successfully bring a claim for personal injury, you will need to show that the other driver acted negligently and that that their negligence caused your injuries. All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care. Negligence is when this duty to drive with reasonable care is breached.

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Theme parks can invoke many images and feelings-from carefree fun and excitement, to the monotony of waiting in long lines. Safety, or lack thereof, is not one the first things that comes to mind. However, all of the rides that bring joy to many visitors require maintenance, and accidents such as scaffolding and ladder falls can happen.

Recently, a park worker fell while cleaning the exterior of a popular roller coaster ride, Space Mountain, at Disneyland. The worker endured broken bones, and was in critical condition after the accident. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health conducted an investigation, and recently proposed a fine of $235,000 against the theme park in connection with the accident, and fined the contractor, who employed the worker $60,995. It was determined that the contractor failed to follow safety regulations by not ensuring that the worker had the proper anchors or tie-backs for performing maintenance on the exterior of the building.

In addition to the possibility of fines by regulatory authorities, the employer of a worker who has been injured on the job may be required to provide workers' compensation insurance to the worker. This insurance provides compensation to injured workers, regardless of who was at fault for the injury. These benefits often include medical care, vocational rehabilitation and replacement income. Workers' compensation is intended to be a substitute for a lawsuit against the employer.

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Working for a public transit authority can involve many risks. The potential for a work injury can rest in any number of areas, given the type and size of the vehicles, and even the need for late night shift to ensure that the vehicles are properly serviced and maintained.

Recently, a VTA employee was killed when he was hit by a bus in the maintenance yard. The 62-year-old man was a 22-year veteran employee who was working his regular late-night shift. He was cleaning and fueling buses when the accident occurred. Another VTA worker was driving the bus that hit and killed the man. After the accident, he was taken to a local hospital, where he died.

Laws vary by state, but many workplace injuries are covered by worker's compensation. When an employee is injured or killed on the job, they may be entitled to those worker's comp benefits. Benefits typically include monetary compensation for replacement income and retaining, as well as medical expenses associated with treatment of the injury and compensation for any injuries that are deemed permanent. In an instance where a worker has been killed in a workplace accident, the surviving family members may be entitled to benefits. However, worker's comp generally does not cover damages for pain and suffering.

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In downtown areas, drivers may naturally be on the look-out for pedestrians, especially where there are many office buildings or tourist areas. However, pedestrian accidents can occur anywhere at any time, even where there are sidewalks and designated crossing areas.

Recently, an elderly man was hit by a car that was making a right turn while he was crossing the street. The man experienced head trauma and is in critical condition at a local hospital. The accident occurred near Mt. San Antonio College at about 6:40 a.m., and authorities are still investigating the cause. At this time, the driver has not received a citation.

Pedestrians are particularly susceptible to injury when stuck by vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), over 78,000 pedestrians are injured per year by car accidents. Pedestrians who are injured by a driver may be able to recover damages against that driver if the driver acted negligently. Generally, drivers are required to use reasonable care, which typically means abiding traffic signals and the speed limit. Drivers must exercise a special, greater, duty of care where children are likely to be present, such as near schools and residential areas.

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When a parent sends a child to school in the morning, safety is often a top concern. No one expects a child to be the victim in a serious car accident, especially within the immediate vicinity of the school where speed limits are lower.

One California parent experienced what may be a mother's worst fear-witnessing her daughters getting hit by a vehicle while trying to cross the street. The children's mother drove them to school, dropping them off on the opposite side of the road. As the sisters attempted to cross, they were struck by a minivan. The mother, who was still pulled over on the side of the road, rushed to them. The driver of the minivan did stop and cooperated with authorities. The minivan was driving under the speed limit. Both accident victims were treated at the hospital and released the same day.

Drivers are required to exercise reasonable care when driving. However, where children are present or where the driver knows that children are likely to be present, this duty of care increases. Because children are smaller, and thus harder to see from a vehicle, and because they are more likely to run out into the street while playing, drivers must use increased vigilance.

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Driver fatigue can be a problem on the road for all drivers but, for drivers of 18 wheelers, the consequences can be fatal. Recently, a series of truck accidents led to the deaths of an entire family moving to California.

First, a truck driver died when he crashed into a stalled vehicle on the side of a highway. Next, as emergency crews were responding to that accident, a second truck driver failed to slow down as he approached the first accident and he crashed into a stopped car. A chain reaction killed the occupants of two separate cars.

Authorities investigating the crash found that the driver of the second truck had driven for 13 to 15 hours, which is in violation of laws that limit the number of hours commercial drivers can work without rest breaks. Investigators believe the driver was asleep at the wheel at the time of the accident. The driver of the big rig has been charged with four counts of manslaughter, and five counts of motor vehicle homicide.

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California residents likely remember the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which shook the Gulf Coast in 2005. After the devastating storms, many people were left homeless. As a quick response to the need for temporary housing, several companies manufactured and installed government-issued trailers to the storm victims.

However, when many of these people started complaining about medical complications, including wrongful death in some cases, it became apparent that something was wrong. Among the concerns were headaches, nosebleeds and difficulty breathing, stemming from asthma. At least one woman reportedly died from leukemia after she lived in such a trailer.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against the companies that manufactured the housing, claiming that hazardous fumes contained in the trailers were to blame for making the inhabitants of the trailers sick. When tested, it was discovered that the trailers were emitting formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen, yet is commonly found in building materials.

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Fatal auto accidents can happen in a split second and can have devastating consequences on a family and community, especially when the victim is a child. A serious car accident involving a child can leave the accident victim and his or her family wondering just what went wrong. Where children are likely to be present, drivers must use increased care.

San Jose residents are mourning the tragic death of a child hit while riding a "pocket bike." The boy, age eight, was attempting to make a turn onto a busy road while riding his miniature electric motorcycle when he was struck by a pick-up truck. Riding pocket bikes is illegal on streets, sidewalks and parking lots, and at the time of the accident, the boy was not wearing a helmet.

Area residents agree that the accident calls for increased safety measures, such as speed bumps. Neighbors noted that the serious car accident could also have occurred if the boy had been chasing a ball in the street or riding a skateboard.

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Pedestrians are always at risk near busy roadways because they have little protection when cars and trucks speed past them. Just because traffic laws require that drivers yield to pedestrians crossing roads, sometimes motorists neglect to do so, often resulting in catastrophic injuries or death to the victim.

During a recent accident in San Jose, an 81-year-old woman was hit and killed by a car as she crossed a road at daybreak. Police report that there was no indication that the 50-year-old driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Drivers must exercise reasonable care to avoid accidents and failure to do so is considered negligence. Some common instances of negligence include:

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Some advice for elevator mechanics everywhere courtesy of a Florida jury; take the passengers out of the elevator before trying to fix it. A 54 year-old woman who was bounced and jounced from the 23rd floor to the basement of a Jacksonville high rise office building was awarded millions of dollars in damages for her ordeal. The ride of terror left her with partial paralysis of her left leg, pseudoseizures, chronic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, injuries that left her wheelchair-bound for years.

The $13 million judgment capped litigation that spanned more than a decade. In 1999 the woman was in the elevator on the 23rd floor of the building when the elevator malfunctioned. It dropped to the 8th floor and then stopped. An in-house mechanic employed by the Schindler Elevator Company was summoned to fix the balky lift. Rather than take the woman out of the car before working on it, he left her inside. The elevator then fell several more times - short falls arrested by safety devices - landing the car and its battered passenger in the building's basement.

After a two week trial the civil jury issued the award against Schindler Elevator Company and the owners of the high-rise office building. The jury decided that Schindler was not responsible for the initial plunge, but the mechanic's failure to get everyone out of the car before he attempted repairs was careless. Her attorney called that decision, "grossly negligent."

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A worker injured on the job can face a number of financial problems. Construction accidents, driving accidents and injuries from defective equipment can leave workers with medical bills and other expenses. The system of workers' compensation insurance is designed to protect workers in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the state from shouldering those high costs on their own.

For anyone who was recently injured or is currently seeking workers' compensation benefits in California, things just got more complicated, however. State legislators overwhelmingly passed a bill that revises the state's system by limiting lawsuits for workplace injuries and increasing disability benefits. Now, anyone injured at work must navigate a new process to in order to find financial relief.

Those who turn to the workers' compensation system may find that the payments they receive are not equivalent to their average wage. This is because workers' compensation is set up to provide benefits to people who sustain a work injury, regardless of whether an employer or the employee is at fault. The workers' compensation system was not set up to fully compensate an employee for all potential damages, as in a civil lawsuit, or to provide benefits for harm caused by a third party, such as the maker of a defective product or a subcontractor of the employer. Instead, compensation from third parties requires a separate legal claim.

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In the blink of an eye, an automobile accident changes lives. It usually raises questions regarding our own liability (responsibility for the accident), liability of other drivers and the effects on the people peripherally involved.

A recent California motor vehicle accident raised some interesting liability questions; questions about who was responsible and to what extent the at-fault driver was responsible. An undercover San Jose police officer drove his van in front of a retired Sunnyvale police captain's motorcycle, causing a crash that severely injured the motorcycle driver.

The motorcyclist sued the city that employed the police officer driving the van for $1.4 million and was awarded over $600,000 by the jury. During the trial, the retired officer claimed that there had been an organized attempt on behalf of the city to minimize the blame on the San Jose police officer.

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In July, The U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill to prevent rental car companies from hiring out cars that have recalls due to safety risks. The new law was proposed after two women died in a rented car that had been recalled by its manufacturer. The car they rented apparently started to leak steering fluid, abruptly starting the car on fire, causing a collision with an oncoming semi-truck.

A 2010 ABC News investigation found that the car was under a safety recall for the potential fire hazard, yet the rental company still leased the car to the two women. The news report caused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open an investigation into how fast rental car companies repaired their vehicles after a recall has been issued.

The surviving family sued the rental company, winning after a long legal battle. The company ultimately admitted negligence, and was ordered to pay $15 million in damages to the family.

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Recovery from a serious car accident requires more than just good medical care. Injury sufferers also need money to afford that care. The parents of a San Jose woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a collision three years ago are all too aware of the costs of her recovery, which is ongoing without an end in sight.

The young woman, now 21, was on her way to church when her car was hit head-on by another vehicle. The collision left her in a vegetative state, and although she continues to improve, her medical costs continue to pile up. Both her parents, who are divorced, quit their jobs to care for her around the clock. The family does have insurance but it doesn't cover all of the costs , including her physical, occupational or speech therapy. One form of this therapy began in May 2011, almost two years after her accident. "Waking" treatment allowed her to communicate with her family for the first time using "yes or no" buttons. But this treatment isn't covered by insurance, either.

To help offset the cost of the treatments that are helping her improve, her family has collaborated with the International Brain Research Foundation to hold a 5 kilometer run benefit. The third annual event will take place at the end of this month and aims to raise $100,000.

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A surprising and alarming trend is appearing in the urinalysis results of some safety industry workers Americans trust most. More and more of these workers are failing their drug tests.

Recent results show that truck drivers, bus drivers, rail operators and even pilots are flunking their drug tests and performing their jobs under the influence of illegal drugs. The problem is that these employees work in the safety industry and are responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of people's lives.

Recent studies conducted by Qwest Diagnostics show, in random drug tests throughout the country, that drug and alcohol use have dramatically increased, including a 33 percent increase in positive cocaine results. The U.S. Department of Transportation has also added heroin and ecstasy to the list of drugs for which it screens transportation workers. The worry is that increased use of drugs and/or alcohol on the job leads to an increase in accidents and injuries.

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