Van Blois Law Specialists in Catastrophic Personal Injury

Oakland Personal Injury Law Blog

Traumatic brain injuries: The quiet crisis

If you ask a medical professional how much of an impact a traumatic brain injury can have on someone's life, they'll quickly point out that it can be one of the most disruptive and problematic injuries a person can suffer. The symptoms may last for the rest of their life.

The ramifications are even greater, some argue, than a spinal injury or a burn injury -- two other catastrophic events. With a brain injury, it feels like who you actually are is fundamentally altered, perhaps forever.

Pedestrian Deaths Hit a 28-Year High in 2018

Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. hit a 28 year high in 2018 according to the Governor's Highway Safety Association. The number of pedestrian deaths involving SUVs increased by 50 percent from 2013 through 2017 and the number of pedestrian deaths caused by passenger cars increased by 30 percent over the same period.

The increased sales of SUVs and the fact that pedestrians are less likely to survive when struck by an SUV are a factor in the increase of fatalities. Pedestrian deaths now make up 16 percent of all road deaths, up from 12 percent in 2009. Distracted driving and distracted walking are factors leading to the increase. More people walk to work, insufficient pedestrian road crossings, and speeding driving are additional factors causing this increase. 

Flaws in Self-driving Vehicles

The first fatality involving a "self-driving" vehicle occurred in a pedestrian accident in Tempe, Arizona on March 18, 2018. A pedestrian, walking a bicycle across a 4-lane roadway at night was struck by a self-driving UBER traveling at 38 MPH. Although the pedestrian had walked across three roadway lanes in front of the UBER neither the vehicle nor the human safety driver detected the pedestrian prior to impact. The UBER was approximately 450 feet from the point of impact when the pedestrian started to cross the road. The operator of the car did not have her eyes on the road or hands on the steering wheel before the crash occurred.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that the radar and LIDAR systems registered the pedestrian 6 seconds before impact. The system first classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, then as a vehicle, then as a bicycle. The system waited until 1.3 seconds before impact to determine that an emergency breaking maneuver was needed.

Could magnetic stimulation therapy help my brain injury?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have left numerous individuals with lifelong cognitive, emotional, psychological and physical disabilities. Sometimes, TBI patients are left unconscious and in a coma.

TBIs are difficult to treat. In many cases, doctors admit that the best medicine for a TBI is rest and time. However, medical advancements are always occurring. For example, one new treatment for TBI involves the stimulation of the brain with magnets.

Broken bones can lead to permanent disability in some cases

When it comes to catastrophic car crashes or workplace injuries, people often think of broken bones as less severe injuries. While a broken bone may impact your life less than a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury, it doesn't mean that the consequences of a broken bone are negligible.

Even a simple fracture can leave you with months of recovery time when you are unable to work. Fractures in young children could cause growth plate issues, which could result in the slowing or termination of the growth process in that particular limb.

Children may 'grow into' brain injuries

You get in a car accident when an 18-wheeler does not stop in time and rear-ends your vehicle in a construction zone. Your child is in the back seat during the crash. You both get airlifted to a nearby hospital.

Immediately after the wreck, your child does not seem to have any serious injuries. Everything turns out far better than the emergency crews anticipated. You count yourself lucky on the way home, knowing you could have gotten killed.


The highest rate of increase of traffic deaths between 2010 and 2016 in the world belongs to the United States. Only 5 of 29 Countries had an increase in traffic deaths during this period and the U.S. led with a 13.5 percent increase according to a study by the International Transportation Forum. The U.S. also had the highest increase in pedestrian deaths and bicyclists deaths. In the same time frame Worldwide, traffic fatalities in 2016 went down 3.6 percent.

These increases in deaths appear to be caused primarily by distracted drivers and an increase of cars on the road. Distracted driving is more prevalent in the U.S. than any other Country. Risky activities like speeding and driving while texting is proving deadly for American drivers.

Life after a spinal cord injury: The challenges ahead

Spinal cord injuries are serious matters. Not only do you have to think about how your physical abilities have changed, you will need to consider how those changes are impacting your family members. This means that there will be emotional aspects to address on top of the physical ones.

One of the most important things that you can do when you suffer from a spinal cord injury is to learn all you can about the injury. Here is some essential information about spinal cord injuries:

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. 

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