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California residents have probably heard about the General Motors recall of many vehicles that could have defective ignition switches, but some may be unaware of how these recalls might influence the legal system. Several past criminal cases are being looked at in light of the new knowledge of the problem.

In one case, a 25-year-old woman previously spent three months in jail for a one-to-two year sentence when losing control of her Chevrolet Cobalt in 2010, which resulted in the death of a 16-year-old male passenger. The authorities thought she was speeding, but the woman said that she was not and that the brakes and vehicle stopped working. The Chevrolet's ignition went into the accessory position, and there was no power for steering or braking. Additionally, the airbags did not deploy when a crash occurred. Instances like this sounded unbelievable before the news about faulty ignition switches, and the woman pleaded guilty to reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter.

The woman's guilty plea was erased due to new evidence in August 2015, but this story highlights what some have gone through after unexplained accidents happened that now make sense due to vehicle recalls. GM knew about the ignition switch problem before issuing a public notice, and the company has created a fund to compensate those who suffered because of the defective ignition switches.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

Every year, car accidents cause serious injuries to California residents. However, some injuries don't show up right away. Mental trauma and many physical ailments can surface hours or days after an accident. It is important to recognize the symptoms of delayed trauma to ensure that certain injuries are not left untreated.

Many car accident victims suffer from headaches after a crash. Though usually benign, some headaches may indicate serious issues like a blood clot on the brain, a concussion or a neck injury. Delayed neck and shoulder stiffness, commonly known as whiplash, may also occur. Serious cases may require x-rays, MRIs or CT scans. The delayed onset of abdominal pain or swelling could indicate undetected internal bleeding. Other symptoms of internal bleeding include deep bruising and dizziness.

Car crash victims should also be on the lookout for back pain, numbness in the extremities and changes in their personality, which could all signal serious injuries. Post-traumatic stress disorder, which may involve disturbing dreams, could also occur after a crash. PTSD is especially common in children. To be on the safe side, health care professionals suggest that anyone involved in an accident should seek immediate medical attention even if they do not initially believe they suffered an injury.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

Vehicles with defective braking systems pose a danger to all California road users, but the threat is particularly serious when the vehicle involved is a semi-tractor trailer. The air braking systems used on large commercial vehicles are more complex and require more maintenance than the systems found on passenger cars, and random roadside inspections often result in citations for poorly maintained or defective truck brakes. Trucking companies can avoid such issues by ensuring that their vehicles are properly maintained, and truck drivers can help to improve road safety by pointing out vehicle behavior that could be caused by braking problems.

Commercial vehicle braking systems are designed to work evenly, and semi-truck accidents can occur when brakes on some wheels are not working as well as those on others. This kind of defect can sometimes go unnoticed during visual inspections, but truck drivers may be alerted to the problem by their vehicles pulling to one side or the other after the brakes are applied.

Timing issues are another common commercial vehicle braking problem. Air braking systems are designed to work in sequence, and semi-tractor trailers can become unstable if all of the brakes operate simultaneously. Timing issues are usually caused by leaks or blockages in the air lines that can either restrict air flow or prevent air escaping from the brake chamber.

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Tagged in: Truck Accidents

Motorcyclists in California might wonder how they can ride more safely. It is important to anticipate specific dangers and consider what can be done to avoid or deal with them.

For example, avoiding excessive speed can help prevent the dangers of taking a corner too fast as well as going around a blind corner and hitting a patch of leaves, gravel or other debris that can cause an accident. Riders should also be observant so that they will notice cars changing lanes or making left turns.

Motorcyclists should space themselves between cars or while riding among other motorcyclists to avoid being hit from behind. They should not ride between a traffic lane and a line of parked cars so they do not hit pedestrians or car doors. Practicing the use of the front brake is also important. The front brake is more powerful than many motorcyclists realize and riders who are unfamiliar with its operation may lock the brake and be thrown.

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Posted on in Car Accidents

As California motorists know, driving the wrong way on a highway is responsible for serious accidents. The National Transportation Safety Board completed a study detailing accidents caused by motorists accessing on ramps and off ramps incorrectly. The study did not include drivers who cross over the center or those driving on two-lane roads, since the recommendations for those types of accidents would be different.

Although wrong-way drivers account for only a small percentage of accidents every year, those types of accidents frequently result in serious injuries and fatalities. Because wrong-way drivers have been a problem since the introduction of the Interstate Highway System, research into ways to prevent it have been recommended since the 1960s.

Recommendations by the NTSB in 1990, following a study of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents, included establishing a standardized method for specimen collection. It also called for legislation requiring alcohol and drug testing of drivers who were involved in truck accidents that resulted in fatalities.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

California drivers may be interested to learn that newer technologies are making driving safer. Companies such as Volvo and BMW are introducing devices that help detect when a driver may be getting drowsy and alert the motorist to that possibility.

While it is difficult to measure fatigue as a factor in car accidents due in part to the fact that there is no test for drowsiness as there is for drunk driving, it is estimated that at least 7,500 fatal accidents each year have fatigue as a factor. It was considered one likely cause of the 2014 accident that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger in his limousine. The truck driver who hit them had been awake for 28 hours.

These new devices function by detecting when a driver makes an error such as slipping into another lane or when a front-end collision is likely. The devices sound an alert, and in some cases, may make a correction such as braking automatically to avoid a collision. Other devices and apps check for driver alertness through checks such as how often the driver is manipulating the steering wheel or by predicting if the driver will become drowsy based on factors such as how much the driver has slept. They sound alarms or flash lights if the driver is not responsive.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

California residents may be following the story of a gas explosion that injured three people at a Bronx high school. Workers were installing a new science lab when the accident took place at about 8 p.m. on Aug. 20. The accident occurred when a worker used a lit match to see if gas was going through the line as designed.

There were seven workers from a construction company at the school at the time of the accident. Three of the workers had serious burn injuries, and all seven were taken to area hospitals. The explosion caused damage to the 4th, 5th and 6th floor of the school with the 6th floor suffering the most damage.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the school would not be able to open on time, but that all students would be placed at nearby schools. An area assemblyman said that no one was going to be allowed back into the building until it was safe to do so. It is believed that some rooms on the 7th floor of the school suffered structural damage in the wake of the explosion.

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Tagged in: Workplace Accidents

Workers in manufacturing and other industries in California and throughout the United States will receive additional support in the prevention of certain types of serious workplace injuries. Specifically, the Occupational Safety Health Agency has recently issued an updated version of its National Emphasis Program directive on amputations.

OSHA's directive calls on employers to better identify and work to eliminate serious hazards in the workplace. The directive targets general industry workplaces where machinery is present that is likely to cause amputations. These industries include machine shops, bakeries, sawmills, meat processing plants and other manufacturers of food products. Data reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate these industries have the highest rates of amputations among workers.

Data from 2013 reveals that 2,000 workers suffered an amputation that year, with the manufacturing sector experiencing a rate of amputations more than double that of all private industry. According to OSHA, this sector had an amputation rate of 1.7 per 10,000 full-time employees in 2013, whereas private industry overall had only 0.7 amputations per 10,000 employees.

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Tagged in: Workplace Accidents

Although railroad companies are required to upgrade safety technology by the end of 2015, only three companies have filed formal plans to do so. The new technology upgrades are to involve positive train control, which is designed to automatically slow or stop trains when necessary via GPS as well as radio and computer software. Advocates hope that the technology can help prevent accidents due to trains traveling at unsafe speeds or into areas where crews may be working.

One such advocate is the National Transportation Safety Board, which has lobbied for such technology for more than 40 years. It believes that PTC would have prevented 145 crashes, which would have saved 300 lives and avoided 6,700 injuries. However, some railroad companies say that they have experienced unanticipated problems that have made it difficult to comply with the new rules.

Despite not being one of the companies that has submitted a plan for government approval, Amtrak says that it will have PTC available on its Northeast Corridor by Dec. 31. BNSF Railway, Metrolink and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority are the three railroads that have submitted plans. BNSF is the second-largest freight railroad in America while Metrolink and the PTA are commuter lines in Los Angles and Philadelphia, respectively.

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Tagged in: Workplace Accidents

California workers may be interested in a series of mining industry fatalities that occurred in a single day across the country. These deaths have prompted one government agency to step up its enforcement and education activities in order to prevent further harm.

On Aug. 3, three mine workers in three different states were killed in workplace accidents. One work accident victim, an 18-year-old at a Virginia quarry, was buried beneath tons of stone and sand when a silo on the job site collapsed. The other incidents took place in South Dakota and Nevada. This is the first time that this many incidents have occurred on a single day since 2002.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is increasing its enforcement of safety regulations in the wake of these three deaths. This will include more facility inspections, concentrating on particular violations that are commonly associated with mining fatalities. Additionally, the agency will put more effort into educating the industry on the dangers that these violations can present. This includes having inspectors on the ground and at the job sites, educating miners and site operators first-hand about the potential for serious and fatal accidents, along with how to prevent them. A spokesperson for the MSHA points out that these efforts will require cooperation industry-wide.

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Tagged in: Workplace Accidents

California residents may have read the national news reports about a person who was killed after a dump truck slammed into an overpass in New Jersey on Aug. 4. According to a state police captain, the truck was traveling on the New Jersey turnpike when it collided with the Wood Avenue overpass at about 10:30 a.m.

The crash occurred in the southbound lanes of the turnpike. The truck overturned and its driver was killed. The accident also caused a fire to ignite, and authorities closed both lanes of the turnpike until it could be determined if the overpass's stability had been compromised. Additionally, gas and power lines were also compromised. The traffic reportedly became backed up for miles and some of the lanes were expected to be closed until midnight.

Because trucks are much larger than other types of vehicles, an accident involving one is likely to leave people with serious injuries. In some cases, the injuries could be severe enough to result in death. If a person was killed in a crash caused by the negligence of a truck driver, the surviving family members may want to consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

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Tagged in: Truck Accidents

California drivers should always be aware of large trucks on the road, especially those transporting liquid loads. These vehicles are subject to special hazards the general public may be unaware of, and they are the topic of several myths about the conditions that can give rise to an accident. Understanding these myths and the actual causes of cargo tank rollovers can perhaps help to reduce the incidence of these accidents.

Contrary to popular belief, cargo tank rollover accidents are not commonly associated with speeding, nighttime driving, unsafe road conditions or lack of experience behind the wheel. Statistics compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration based on 2007 data reveal that most of these accidents occur during the day, on exit or on-ramps and straight roads, with commercial drivers who have more than 10 years of experience. Speeding is a factor in only about 28 percent of all cargo tank rollover accidents.

However, the factors that do influence the likelihood of a cargo tank tipping over include distracted or drowsy driving, which accounts for about 20 percent of these accidents. Cargo tanks are also subject to different physics than dry haulers, because liquids can slosh and surge due to sudden braking, such as when a driver cuts off the tanker, leading to 63 percent of rollovers. Brake conditions play a critical role as well.

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Tagged in: Truck Accidents

An outing among friends turned tragic on July 18 as four of eight women in a limousine were killed when the vehicle collided with a pickup truck. California residents may have heard about this accident that took place in Long Island, and the Suffolk County District Attorney said the crash may have happened because the driver of the truck had consumed alcohol earlier in the day.

The accident occurred when the pickup slammed into the limo that was attempting to turn at an intersection by making a legal U-turn, and the speed of both vehicles is currently unknown. Both drivers suffered injuries, and the four women who survived the crash all reportedly received serious injuries. The district attorney commented that the women in their early 20s did the right thing by hiring a limo since they were touring a winery, and a chemical test revealed that the limo driver had no alcohol in his system.

The truck driver reportedly admitted to drinking beer while at home but has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence. The charges may be upgraded depending on what a blood test reveals about his level of intoxication at the time of the accident. Police officers apparently brought the truck driver back to the scene of the crash when he left about 15 minutes after the accident.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

Iron workers in California perform some of the nation's most dangerous jobs. While doing construction work on multi-story buildings, these professionals are at a great risk of falling. To protect them from workplace injuries and deaths, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has fall protection standards that must be followed by employers.

OSHA standards for fall protection apply to all workers who perform tasks at least 15 feet above ground level. These workers must be protected with guardrails, safety nets, fall restraints, positioning devices and personal fall arrest systems. Despite these requirements, OSHA regularly cites construction employers for fall protection violations, and falls are among the leading causes of death and injury on construction sites. While employers are obligated to follow OSHA guidelines at a minimum, they are also advised to recognize hazards and develop their own policies for maintaining worker safety.

There are certain safety requirements for personal fall arrest systems that all employers must follow. A personal fall arrest system must not allow the worker to come into contact with a lower level after falling, and the worker must not be able to free fall more than 6 feet. Further, the personal fall arrest system must have the strength to withstand two times the potential impact energy that could be caused by the employee falling.

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Tagged in: Workplace Accidents

Employees in California may benefit from learning more about the issues associated with emergency response, hazmat identification and control. One of the most critical tasks to complete in a catastrophic accident involving hazardous materials is to determine the chemical compounds involved in the incident. Addressing errors in the chain-of-custody process may be one of the most effective strategies for improving how these accidents are managed. Railcars, tankers, containers and trailers are all significantly affected by the integrity of the controls within the global supply chain.

Current technology can help enterprises deploy hazmat railcars, containers and trailers that are equipped with container security devices, or CSDs. Making these conveyances and containers smart with more recent tech applications can help provide more precise evidence about details concerning the contents or the shipping. The evidence is often accessible by using an app on a smartphone or another similar device.

Verifying the identity of the personnel, the qualities of the content being shipped and any corresponding item numbers may be essential for quickly gathering accurate information in the event of a hazmat emergency. The CSD activates the system for communicating pertinent data, and can automatically transfer the data to emergency personnel. Some of the vital data that is transferred to emergency medical personnel include isolation procedures, protective actions and the amount of distance recommended for staying safe in the event of an accident.

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Tagged in: Workplace Accidents

On the night of July 7, it was reported that a vehicle slammed into a California Donut King shop after being involved in a two-car accident. The reported stated that five people were ultimately taken to a nearby hospital. One of the victims taken to the hospital, a 30-year-old female, later died as a result of her injuries.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Western and Marine avenues in Gardena at around 7 p.m. The impact caused one of the vehicles to crash into the structure. The donut shop was reportedly open when the incident occurred, but no one in the store suffered any injuries as a result of the crash.

No matter how serious a motor vehicle accident is, there is always the possibility that those involved could suffer serious injuries. These could include whiplash, broken bones and damage to internal organs.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

California residents should keep in mind that teenage drivers often engage in risky behavior, making them potentially dangerous to themselves, their passengers and others who are sharing the road with them. The root cause of accidents involving young drivers is often related to the invincibility complex many teenagers possess. They often believe that they can do certain things without facing consequences. Even though drivers under 21 only make up around 10 percent of all licensed drivers, they cause a disproportionate amount of fatal accidents that often involve drinking, texting or both.

Approximately 17 percent of all fatal alcohol-related accidents in the United States are caused by drivers under the age of 21. Even though most states have implemented strict laws related to the blood alcohol concentration of younger drivers, the problem remains. Approximately 2,000 underage drinkers die each year while operating a vehicle. Of all teen auto accidents, alcohol is a factor in one-third of them.

Teenagers also pose a threat to others on the road when they text while driving. Driving while under the influence of alcohol was previously the top cause of teen deaths in the United States, but texting while driving has now surpassed it. The behavior is responsible for over 3,000 teenage deaths every year, and the use of a cellphone while driving significantly slows a young driver's reaction time and accordingly increases the risk of being in an accident.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

While many seniors wish to stay independent as the get older, it is important for motorists in California and other states to be aware of the increased risks older drivers face. Across the country, there were nearly 36 million licensed drivers who were 65 and older in 2012, and of them, an average of 15 were killed in automobile accidents each day while an average of 586 were injured.

Older drivers face certain risks on the road because of declines in vision and cognitive function or even due to physical changes. The risk of a fatal crash also increases using the matrix of the amount of miles traveled and starts with those between the ages of 70 and 74. Seniors are not necessarily more likely to get into fatal accidents but are more susceptible to medical complications and injuries. Regardless of age, male drivers have higher death rates than females.

There are some negative stereotypes that exist about older drivers, but many already take steps to protect themselves and others while on the road. Nearly 25 percent of drivers between the ages of 21 and 64 who were involved in fatal accidents in 2012 had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit compared to only 7 percent of seniors. Older drivers also tend to wear their seat belts and limit their driving at night and during bad weather conditions.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

Temporary labor continues to be prevalent throughout California and continues to rise nationwide. An assessment of workplace injury data performed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that temporary employees suffer on-the-job accidents and injuries more often than those who are permanently employed.

Research published by ProPublica also supported this finding with figures that showed that temporary laborers faced injury rates twice as high as people in permanent positions. The research focused on severe injuries in which workers were crushed, broke bones or suffered punctures and lacerations.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, roughly 17 million people in 2013 filled positions designated as temporary. Confusion about whether the contracting employer or staffing agency was responsible for safety and hazard training has been mentioned as one of the potential reasons for the higher rate of injury. As an industry, staffing agencies are beginning to seek best practices to reduce injury rates. For example, a regional manager for Kelly Services explained that said staffing companies should partner with client companies to determine safety training needs and perform quarterly assessments. Ongoing training about workplace hazards should also take place.

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Tagged in: Workplace Accidents

The filming of a commercial for the upcoming film "Straight Outta Compton" turned deadly on California streets in January 2015 when a dispute erupted among Suge Knight, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and other workers near the set. Knight, age 50, appeared uninvited at the commercial shoot, and the resulting fight ended with Terry Carter dead and three other people injured after Knight ran them down with his truck in the parking lot of a Los Angeles burger restaurant.

Carter's family has filed a wrongful death suit against Knight, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Universal Studios, and other named defendants. The lawsuit named the movie studio because it allowed the commercial to be shot in a dangerous neighborhood and also allegedly allowed gang members to be hired for security. Negligent hiring and premises liability are the basis for the claims against Universal .

Dre and Knight had at one time been business partners, founding the rap label Death Row Records. Their subsequent falling out was so severe that Dre eventually won a restraining order against Knight. Knight, whose real name is Marion Hugh Knight Jr., also faces criminal charges for Carter's death. Claiming self-defense, he has pleaded not guilty. In the civil wrongful death action, the family is seeking compensation for funeral bills, lost income and punitive and other damages.

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Tagged in: Wrongful Death
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