Van Blois Law Firm Specialists in Catastrophic Personal Injury

Oakland Personal Injury Law Blog

Drugged Driving Tops Drunk Driving in Fatal Accidents

U.S. studies show that driving under the influence of drugs causes more fatal crashes than alcohol related drunk driving. Data reported to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed forty-three percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a drug while 37 percent showed alcohol levels above a legal limit. Drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for drugs showed that 36.5 percent had used marijuana and 9.3 percent used amphetamines. 

PG&E Power-Line Restart Devices Implicated in Wildfires

In a letter to the legislature sent on 12/28/17, PG&E stated it would continue to expand its pilot program disabling recloser devices. State investigators are investigating the cause of the wine country fires and PG&E power lines are believed to have started or contributed to the deadly wild fires in October 2017. There are dozens of reports of damaged or sparking power lines and transformers across Sonoma County on October 8 and October 9, 2017.

Local power lines are programmed to restart themselves in case service is interrupted even if they are tangled in a tree or knocked to the ground. Devices called reclosers are similar to automatic circuit breakers. They send electricity pulses through the lines that tripped off. If the lines are in contact with tree branches or brush on the ground, the pulses of electricity can start a fire. 

Tips to help you prevent slips, trips and falls

Slipping or tripping on a slippery surface can lead to serious accidents. It is imperative that you use proper safety techniques to try to prevent these falls from occurring.

While there are some options to keep yourself safe, some aspects of safety don't depend on you. Property owners must ensure that they are keeping the property free of hazards and obstacles that might cause a fall.

Best Lawyers of the Year Award for 2018

Best Lawyers, a peer review magazine, announced on November 3, 2017 the 2018 "Lawyer of the Year" Awards for Northern California. R. Lewis Van Blois of the Van Blois Law Firm in Oakland, California was selected as the Plaintiff Product Liability "Lawyer of the Year" for Northern California. Michael E. Gatto of the Van Blois Law Firm was selected as the "Lawyer of the Year" for Plaintiff Personal Injury Litigation. The Best Lawyers awards appeared in a supplement to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper and the Wall Street Journal. Best Lawyers conducts exhaustive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers.

Why are Large Truck Crashes on the Rise?

The most common causes of large truck accidents are driving too fast for road conditions, straying from the lane of travel, failure to keep a proper lookout, following too closely, driver fatigue, mechanical defects, tire blowouts and shifting cargo caused by negligent loading. Large trucks are big heavy vehicles and are different from cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks. A large truck weighs more than 10,000 pounds and can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. They can weigh 40 times more than an automobile.

Santa Rosa Fire Burn Victims Face Lengthy Recovery

The fires ignited in Northern California on the windy night of October 8, 2017 killed 43 people and left several burn victims who face long painful recoveries. The wine country burn victims were taken to the Bothin Burn Center at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco and U.C. Davis Medical Center in Sacramento; both regional burn centers. The most severe burns are third-degree burns that go through all the layers of skin and sometimes into the subcutaneous fat and underlying muscle. The skin traps pressure inside that must be relieved by an incision called an escharotomy preventing limbs from bursting like an overcooked sausage. 

Big rig accidents happen for many reasons

As one of our California readers, living in a state where traveling on the roads is, arguably, the mainstay of transportation and commutation, we know that you may have some fears about driving in close proximity to large commercial trucks. These big rigs don't always pay close attention to passenger vehicles, which can make your time on the road stressful.

Unfortunately, big rig accidents happen all too often. When a commercial truck collides with a smaller vehicle, there's always the possibility that the passengers in the smaller vehicle will suffer a serious injury.

Federal Officials Fail to Protect Public from Fatigued Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are abandoning planned regulations that require testing for fatigue-inducing disorders for truck drivers and train engineers. Safety experts say that millions of lives will continue to be at risk for accidents caused by fatigued commercial drivers. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have found that driver fatigue is a factor in one third of all commercial truck crashes. Sleep apnea can cause daytime drowsiness and is to blame for multiple train derailments and deaths. The Metro-North Railroad found that 11.6 percent of its engineers suffer from sleep apnea. 

Deadly Truck Underride Crashes Continue to Occur

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that half of the fatal crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles involve underride accidents where the top half of the car is sheared off. Airbags and safety harnesses provide no protection in underride collisions. Underride accidents occur when a car collides with the rear or side of a truck-trailer and submarines underneath. The force of the impact combined with the weight of the trailer can crush or shear off the car's roof. Occupants often suffer severe or fatal head and upper torso injuries and sometimes decapitation.

Big rigs are required to have rear underride guards to keep cars from traveling beneath the back of a trailer. Usually two vertical steel bars support a horizontal bar less than 2 feet from the ground. They are called "Mansfield Bars" named after a deadly underride crash that killed actress Jayne Mansfield fifty years ago. 

Serious Dangers When Buying Used Tires

About 35 million used tires are sold in the United States each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over 11,000 car accidents are caused by tire defects each year and a minimum of 500 deaths occur each year because of tire-related crashes. Old, aged or used tires are common causes of blow-outs and tire de-tread. Used tires often present unseen and unknown danger to consumers. Age, poor maintenance and defects in design and manufacture cannot be seen by the average consumer. Used tire sales are unregulated and used tires cannot be traced to obtain a history of their use.

Used tires are supplied by tire recyclers who obtain used tires from salvage yards, scrap heaps and on the internet. Any tire with a tread over 2/32 of tread depth is resold. Some used tire dealers conceal visual defects and paint the tires to make them look new. Recently a used tire shop in Antioch, California was found to be using a mixture of gasoline and tar to make used tires look better. Used tire dealers are not adequately trained in tire inspection and safety and do not receive recall notices from tire manufacturers. Many do not know how to interpret the DOT code on the tire for information about the tire. 

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Oakland, CA 94621

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