OSHA Cracking down on CA Employers Who Hide Construction Injuries

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous work places in the country.  It is also a sector that has some of the highest rates of underreporting of injuries.  Many injuries in the sector are underreported, because employers who report higher than average workplace injuries are more likely to be subject to inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Employers have much incentive to underreport injuries, and when this happens, it can make it hard for OSHA and Los Angeles construction accident lawyers to determine the extent, nature and severity of injuries that have occurred every year.

Fortunately, OSHA is undertaking extensive inspections of workplaces across the country to determine the extent of underreporting.  The agency plans to conduct these inspections over a two-year period, and so far, it has managed to inspect about 185 workplaces.  It plans to inspect a total of 380 by the end of the year.  However, resources are stretched, and the agency needs dozens of inspectors to be able to complete this task.

Construction work places in California can be the site of several injuries, including scaffolding accidents and collapses, trench cave-ins, electrical accidents and electrocutions, slip and fall accidents, and other injuries.  Many of these injuries go undocumented, because employers want to present a picture of the perfect workplace to the world.  Employers hold so-called safety contests that reward employees for an ”injury free workplace.” 

In many cases, it's not so much that injuries have not occurred, as much as they have not been reported.

Automakers to Resist Ban on All Cell Phone Use While Driving

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Federal agencies are reporting that there has been a drop of about 360 deaths in distracted driving-related accidents in 2009 over 2008.  There were 5,474 fatalities in 2009, and 448,000 injuries in these accidents.  For the first time, federal agencies also isolated distractions that involve cell phone use.  Eighteen percent of all the distracted driving deaths in 2009 involved a motorist using a cell phone.  Cell phones also contributed to 5% of all injuries that occurred in distracted driving-related accidents last year. 

There is now talk of reducing these fatalities further by banning all cell phone use behind the wheel.  It's a move that has automakers very worried, because it could dramatically change the way motorists currently drive, and could render voice recognition technologies in a car less useful.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association is considering a ban on all cell phone use while driving, a move that would also include voice-activated technologies like the Sync  system that is currently in place in so many Ford vehicles.  The system allows motorists to make hands-free calls, and have text messages read out to them.  If the ban on cell phone use at the wheel goes into effect, these systems could be prohibited. 

Not surprisingly, Ford Motor Corporation is leading the automaker tirade against such measures.  The company opposes any efforts that would ban hands-free calls.  In spite of all the recalls and bankruptcies, the automaker lobby in the US continues to be a powerful one, and it's likely that any moves to impose a ban all cell phone technology will see a tough fight. 

The GHSA can only make a recommendation about banning cell phone use, and states are not required to implement these.  However, when an agency like the GHSA adds its voice to those of Los Angeles car accident lawyers to call for a ban on all cell phone use by motorists, it could bolster this cause, and place pressure on states to enact such legislation.  This explains all the panicking by the automakers.

In Spite Of Laws, Texting While Driving Still Rampant in CA Streets

Monday, September 20, 2010

Drivers in California continue to text while driving in spite of a ban on the practice.  In fact, the practice actually seems to be increasing. 

The Auto Club conducted a survey of 4,000 vehicles in Orange County, and found that 2.7% of the drivers could be observed texting while driving at any given point in time.  That is actually an increase of 100% since January 2009, when the law banning texting while driving went into effect.

The Auto Club says that the findings show the need for greater enforcement and other penalties for violations.  Los Angeles car accident lawyers would agree wholeheartedly.  Currently, the laws impose a paltry penalty of $20 for a first offense.  There are no points added to the driver's record.  There is also little indication that our legislators are taking seriously the accident risks to motorists from such practices.  A bill that would have toughened penalties for texting ban violators by adding a point to the driver’s records was recently defeated in the legislature.  The bill would have also increased penalties for violations.  The bill had been strongly supported by auto safety groups and Los Angeles car accident attorneys, but legislators were obviously not convinced that there was a serious need for stronger penalties.

As long as legislators continue to deny we have a problem with distracted drivers, we will continue to see drivers openly flouting the rules and placing other motorists and themselves at risk.  We don't need more proof that texting while driving substantially increases the risk of an accident.  However, we do to actually increase fines and toughen penalties for violations.  Until that happens, we can continue to expect more violations of the ban, and more risks to motorists.

Pit Bulls Attract Owners of Vicious Temperament

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It’s what California dog bite lawyers and veterinarians have been saying for years - pit bulls are aggressive breeds, and need owners who can dedicate the resources necessary to train these animals effectively.  Unfortunately, many of the people who end up owning these dogs treat them like trophies, and are completely ill-equipped to handle them properly.

The pit bull debate is heating up again in the city of Victorville, California, after several recent dog bites injured a number of people, including children.  In April, a 52-year-old woman was seriously injured by a pit bull as she  was getting her mail.  In Apple Valley earlier this year, a three-year-old child was killed by the family pit bull.  The San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control authorities say that pit bull breeds were responsible for all four human deaths from dog bites over the past five years.

Unfortunately, these incidents simply lead to an outcry against the breeds.  It makes more sense to target the kind of people that gravitate towards these breeds.  That's not to say that every pit bull owner is ill-equipped to handle these dogs.  However, dog safety experts say that there's a certain kind of dog owner that tends to gravitate towards pit bull breeds in comparison to other dogs.  These people typically have aggressive or vicious tendencies themselves, and they often do not have the kind of resources needed to raise pit bulls.  Someone who lives in a cramped apartment or a tiny house with no yard, and is not interested in walking or exercising his dog, and does not have the patience to deal with animals, is not an ideal pit bull owner.  These animals need lots of exercise and plenty of space to run about.  When they're chained in a tiny yard, and hardly ever taken out for exercise, their naturally aggressive tendencies simply increase.

A ban on pit bull breeds altogether is too extreme.  We would like to see more care taken while placing a pit bull breed in a home.  Something like this could be hard to implement, but veterinarians, animal shelters and others must try to ensure that these breeds end up with people who can care for them.

Los Angeles Listed as Unsafe City for Motorists

Thursday, September 09, 2010

There’s yet another list of the safest cities for motorists in the US, and yet again, Los Angeles car accident lawyers will not be surprised to find that their city features near the bottom.  The list is the 2010 edition of Allstate’s America's Best Drivers report on the best cities to drive a car. 

The safest city according to Allstate, is Fort Collins, Colorado where drivers have a 31.2% lower accident likelihood than the national average.  This is followed by:

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Eugene, Oregon
  • Reno, Nevada
  • Huntsville, Alabama
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa

At the other end of the spectrum, are the cities where motorists are at the highest risk of an accident.  The worst city in the US for motorists, according to Allstate, is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where motorists have a 53.5% greater accident likelihood than the national average.  Next in line is Los Angeles which has a 44.7% greater accident likelihood than the national average.  The other California city on the most unsafe cities list is San Diego where the risk of an accident is 8.3% higher than the national average.  The other unsafe cities include Dallas, Chicago, San Antonio, Houston, New York and Phoenix.

Cities like Los Angeles do struggle with challenges that impact motorist safety.  For instance, Los Angeles has an auto-centric culture, which means more vehicles on the road.  That doesn't mean that motorists here should be resigned to a higher probability of an accident.  It does mean however, that motorists must drive with greater precautions.  That includes switching off your Blackberry and iPhone while driving, and obeying traffic rules.  It also means never drinking and driving, and always buckling up.

Reputable Austin Texas Injury Lawyer

Friday, September 03, 2010

Over the years, we have encountered many different attorneys, very few of which have the experience necessary to be called true experts. When we do meet a lawyer that personifies expertise, we like to spread the word. One such attorney is Austin personal injury lawyer Michael Grossman of Grossman Law Offices P.C.

This experienced Austin trial lawyer has spent the past 20 years helping victims of trucking accidents, personal injuries, and wrongful deaths throughout the state of Texas. As a result of his dedicated work and commitment to his clients, attorney Michael Grossman has recovered literally millions of dollars for his clients to help them move past such a difficult time.

In fact, Michael Grossman has been inducted into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a private club that only grants admission to trial lawyers who have recovered multi-million dollar settlements or verdicts for their clients. Tractor trailer accident victims in Texas that are looking for an experienced Austin 18-wheeler accident attorney or Austin personal injury & wrongful death lawyer should contact Michael Grossman.

Metrolink $200 Million Liability Settlement is too Little too Late

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Last week, Metrolink filed court papers accepting $200 million liability in the Chatsworth train accident in 2008 that killed 25 people.  If the settlement is approved, both Metrolink and Connex Railroad will have no more liability in the deadly accident, the worst in Southern California in recent history.

A federal law caps Metrolink’s liability in the event of an accident at $200 million.  Metrolink is merely using that law to protect its back.  Unfortunately, for those who were injured in the accident, as well as the families of those who were killed, $200 million will not cover the kind of expenses these people have suffered, and are likely to suffer in the future. 

Metrolink says that a $200 million settlement will not only allow plaintiffs to be compensated quicker, but will also avoid the expense and time involved in litigation.  It seems that Metrolink has waited this long - about two years since the crash - precisely because it knows that victims are tired of waiting after 24 months, and are more likely to resign themselves to their options.

It's the kind of tactic that California train accident lawyers are familiar with, but considering that this was one of the worst train disasters in recent US history, it's fair to expect some compassion here.  We may not have heard the last of Metrolink yet.  One legislator from Ventura County has announced his intention to introduce a bill that would remove the $200 million cap because of the seriousness of the accident.  For the 130 persons injured in the accident and the families of the 25 who died, it seems absurd that Metrolink will choose to hide behind an archaic federal law Instead of facing up to all of its liability here.

The Toyota Effect: More Voluntary Auto Recalls this Year

Friday, August 27, 2010

Barely 12 months ago, the process of initiating an auto recall was a long one, and involved an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and lengthy negotiations between the automaker and the agency, before a recall was finally announced.  In fact, in the past, automakers avoided announcing recalls because of the damage to their reputation and brand value of their cars. 

Not anymore.  Ever since automakers got a first-hand glimpse of what can happen to an automaker and its carefully developed reputation, when it fails to inform Americans in time about possibly defective vehicles, they have become more enthusiastic about announcing recalls on their own, without prodding from the government.  It is a trend that Los Angeles car accident lawyers hope does not stop once the terms  "Toyota" and "sudden acceleration" begin to recede from memory.

Over the past 12 months, there has been a 100% increase in the number of cars and pickup trucks that have been recalled in the US.  Consumers received a total of 22.4 million recall notices, including 10 million from Toyota.  Auto safety groups who had always found it hard in the past to get automakers to admit that there was a problem and recall their vehicles, now say that it's much easier to get them to do the same. 

Auto manufacturers seem to be more tuned in to the need to step up and remove vehicles from the market when a problem is discovered, rather than procrastinating and delaying matters until it blows up in their faces.  The trend began late last year soon after the first few Toyota recalls, and has continued since then.  In 2010, there have been more numbers of cars recalled than in any other year.  In fact, we are set for a smash of the record set in 2004 when close to 31 million vehicles were recalled. 

How Safe Is Your Motorcycle Helmet?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It should be a simple enough requirement-wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle because it will significantly reduce the risks of suffering a serious or fatal traumatic brain injury during an accident.  Unfortunately, motorcyclists either refuse to wear helmets because of the comfort factor, or as Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers sometimes see, wear unapproved, non-federally certified helmets that do nothing to prevent brain injury during a crash.

The California Highway Patrol says that many motorcycle accident fatalities can be traced to helmet failure when a motorcyclist is not wearing a sturdy helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation.  You can determine whether your helmet has been approved by the DOT by looking for a sticker that is located at the back of the helmet. 

Unfortunately, helmet use isn't as pervasive in the motorcycle fraternity as Los Angeles brain injury attorneys would prefer.  Many motorcyclists find them too cumbersome, and believe they block vision and reduce hearing.  Others prefer the freedom that comes with wearing a novelty helmet that does not cover the face completely.  These novelty helmets also do not come with an inner lining, and are simply not believed to be as sturdy as federal certified helmets.  A motorcyclist wearing these helmets will find no protection from devastating full frontal facial injuries, with possibly fatal consequences.

However, many motorcyclists have their doubts about the testing that DOT-approved helmets are put to. For these motorcyclists, there are other private agencies that conduct helmet testing.  For instance, the Snell Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Sacramento, conducts independent testing of helmets.  The organization tests and certifies more than 3,500 helmets, and includes a number of impact tests, including face shield and chinstrap tests.  The results are posted online.  The Snell Memorial Foundation says it has a highly stringent testing process, and only those helmets that pass each and every single test make the cut.

Increase in Dog Bite Claims

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Claims resulting from dog bites on personal property accounted for a major portion of homeowner insurance liability claims in the US in 2009.  According to the US Insurance Information Institute, dog bite claims cost American home insurers 6.4% more than in 2008.  The average claim exceeded $24,000 for the third year in a row.  In 2009, dog bite claims cost insurers $412 million, compared to $387 million just one year before.  There was also an increase in the number of insurance claims for dog bites in 2009, compared to 2008.  The number increased by 4.8% over the previous year to a total of 16,586 claims. 

According to the Institute, dog bite claims now account for more than one third of all homeowner insurance liberty claims.  In fact, dog bite claims account for one in three homeowner’s insurance liability claims.

One of the reasons for this increase is that many states in the US have now passed strict liability statutes for dog bites.  California, for instance, has a strict liability statute.  That means that any dog owner can be held responsible for injuries or deaths caused by his animal, even if it was the animal’s very first such bite, or if the owner had never known of the animal’s propensity to bite.  Approximately one-third of all states in the country have such strict liability statutes.  All the other states have a “one bite free” principle, whereby a dog owner can get away with a first dog bite attack involving his animal, by showing that he was unaware of his dog’s propensity to bite. 

Some insurance companies are trying to push back against the spike in dog bite claims, by requiring that homeowners sign a liability waiver clause in their insurance.  Other insurers are insisting that they will provide coverage only if the dog is sent to behavior classes.

Los Angeles dog bite lawyers feel that insurer concern may be overblown.   The fact is that the number of dog bite claims every year is less than 1% of the total number of dog bite attacks in the US annually.


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