San Francisco Injury Lawyer Blog

The family has gathered, the feast has been eaten, and the hosts are contemplating the inevitable leftovers.  Today is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season, although it seems like some stores have been holiday-ready for weeks!  As you begin to think about gifts for the youngest set, we urge you to consider the issues of toy safety.  Some of the hardest cases we see in our office involve children and our San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Rosa toy injury lawyer wants children in Northern California and worldwide to enjoy a fun and safe holiday season.

WATCH Releases 2015 10 Worst Toys Listgifts2

World Against Toys Causing Harm,  a mouthful of a name that lends itself to the handy acronym “WATCH,” believes (as does our firm) that “One injury to one child as a result of a poorly designed or manufactured children’s product is one too many.”  Sadly, the group explains on its website, the toy industry makes some $70 billion worth of sales worldwide each year and with thousands of avoidable toy injuries occurring every year, WATCH believes that “safety often takes a back seat to earnings.”

Continuing an annual undertaking started in 1973, last week WATCH issued a press release announcing its 2015 10 Worst Toys List, a tally of some of the toys that WATCH believes pose a risk of injury or even death.  The list is not intended to be inclusive, but instead illustrates some of the dangers lurking on toy store shelves.  While we won’t name the exact toys herein, some of the hazards (many of which apply to multiple toys) that “earned” items a spot on the list include:

  • Parts that can break/come off or toys that children may naturally put in their mouths and pose a INGESTING, CHOKING, or AIRWAY BLOCKING HAZARD
  • Overly REALISTIC TOY WEAPONS that pose a range of dangers
  • Toys that cause an undue risk or HEAD, NECK, and OTHER INJURIES, including when used unsupervised, by young children, or without safety equipment (especially when the child on the package is not using any).
  • ALLERGY-RELATED dangers, particularly when only noted on “throw-away packaging”
  • Items with a risk of EYE and/or FACIAL INJURIES, including toys with various forms of ammunition firing capacity or long protrusions (particularly if anticipated play might raise the risk)
  • Toys that could cause BLUNT FORCE INJURIES, such as rigid toys that encourage battle-like play
  • Items with the potential to cause STRANGULATION and/or ENTANGLEMENT, including pull-type toys with cords at or over 12 inches (a maximum length for playpen/crib-play toys

Warnings, Standards, and Ethical Duties

According to WATCH, at least one of the toys contains a warning that “babies and young children have no idea what is dangerous or potentially harmful, so supervision is important.”  We agree that parents should supervise children, but we also believe manufacturers have a duty to make toys that are reasonably safe for the intended audience and, as a back-up defense, issue recalls if the dangers later become apparent.

Notably, the Toy Industry Association states that:

“All toys sold in the U.S., regardless of where they are made, must be tested to verify compliance with rigorous U.S. toy safety requirements, including more than 100 safety tests and standards. These standards are shaped by a variety of considerations, including research on child development, dynamic safety testing, and risk analysis. U.S. toy safety requirements are among the most stringent in the world and are widely emulated in other markets around the globe.”

A Closer Look at the Danger and Our California Child Injury Law Firm

Last month, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (“CPSC”) released its “Toy-Related Deaths & Injuries: Calendar Year 2014.”  According to the CPSC, the agency received reports of 11 toy-related deaths involving children under age 15 (the actual ages of the victims ranged from 13 months to 9 years) in 2014.  Additionally, the CPSC reports that hospital emergency departments in the United States treated approximately 251,800 toy-related injuries in 2014.  Of these injuries, 73% percent (183,800) involved children under age 15 and 69% (173,300) involved children under age 5.

One of our firm’s core beliefs is that prevention is always best.  This is especially true when it comes to children who by their nature require adult protection.  Together, these precepts demand that toy manufacturers have a duty to produce toys that are reasonably safe.  In most cases, children cannot stand up to assert their own legal rights.  If your child has been injured by a toy or other dangerous/defective consumer good, call our child injury law firm in Santa Rosa, San Francisco, or Oakland.  We can help you obtain compensation for your child and also remind manufacturers that unsafe toys will not be tolerated, a message that can help prevent other child injuries or even child deaths.

See Related Blog Posts:

Northern California Child Injury Lawyer on Strangulation by Window Cord Blinds: The Product Danger Remains

Toy-Related Injuries in the Holiday Season

(Image by mateoutah)

It seems like food safety is in the news more and more.  Last week, officials announced that an e. coli outbreak tentatively linked to a major chain restaurant has hit California (CBS News).  Foodborne bacteria LOVE the holidays.  As you contemplate Thursday’s feast, our San Francisco food safety law firm has some advice on holiday food safety to ensure foodborne illness doesn’t hit your Thanksgiving table.

Foodborne Illness and Holiday Celebrations

thanksgiving2Foodborne bacteria can strike at home as well as in commercial dining establishments.  The Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) webpage Tracking and Reporting Foodborne Disease Outbreaks reports that 48% of the outbreaks linked to a known single setting from 2009-2010 involved a restaurant or deli while 21% involved food consumed in a private home.  We suspect these numbers might be skewed since it is easier to trace a larger outbreak to its source.  Regardless, consumers have much greater control when it comes to home cooking.

Many people associate foodborne bacteria with hot summer months.  However, the CDC’s “It’s Turkey Time” page notes that most outbreaks of clostridium perfringens, the second most common source of bacterial food poisoning, occur in November and December.

Turkey Safety

For most of us, centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal is the turkey.  Some tips from the CDC and on turkey safety:

  • Thawing/Storage – Purchase fresh turkeys no more than two days before preparation. Frozen turkeys are safe, but be sure not to leave them out for too long, including during your shopping trip (pick it up last, unpack it first!), and thaw safely.  The danger zone is 40 to 140⁰F when bacteria present before freezing may start to grow.   A sub-page contains some more detailed tips on thawing.
  • Pre-Cooking Handling/Preparation – Do not wash the raw turkey; it spreads more bacteria than it eliminates! Use separate tools, including different cutting boards, for raw and cooked meats.  Thoroughly clean hands, utensils, and work surfaces after working with raw poultry to avoid bacteria transfer.
  • Cooking – Set the oven to a minimum of 325°F and begin cooking only after the turkey is fully thawed. The CDC recommend cooking breast-side up on a wire rack over a 2 to 2.5-inch-deep roasting pan.  Cooking times vary.  Test temperature using a food thermometer, ensuring it hits at least 165°F in the meaty part of the breast, thigh, and wing joint.  Let stand for 20 minutes before removing stuffing (if relevant) and carving.
  • Stuffing – The safest way to prepare stuffing is outside the turkey in its own dish. If you do stuff the turkey itself, do so immediately before cooking and use a food thermometer to make sure the center area reaches 165°F.

The Fixins’ and the Leftovers

Of course, turkey is only part of the story.  Although all foods have their own safety issues, here are some general tips on holiday sides from

  • Avoid Cross-Contamination — Keep side dish components separate and away from raw turkey. Good cleaning of utensils, hands, and surfaces is a must.
  • Washing — Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables.
  • Cooking – Cook items completely, including cooking dishes containing eggs to at least 160°F.  Avoid partially cooking one day and finishing cooking another day, especially with multi-ingredient dishes like casseroles, because bacteria can multiply between cooking sessions even if the food is refrigerated. Resist the desire to taste foods before they are fully cooked (including that cookie dough!).
  • Meat/Poultry/Seafood — Take extra care with anything containing meat, even just crumbled bacon in a vegetable side. Cook meat, poultry, and shellfish to safe temperatures before adding them to a recipe.  Keep meat and/or cheese trays cold and make sure pre-assembled trays are refrigerated at the store.
  • Leftovers — For many, this is the best part of Thanksgiving! Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible and at least within two hours of cooking.  Do not store stuffing in the turkey.  Transfer leftovers out of cookware to help decrease temperature and limit the time food is in the unsafe 40°F to 140°F range.  Be sure the fridge is set at 40°F or below and consume leftovers within 3 to 4 days.  “Doggy bags” travelling more than two hours should be packed in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs.

A Message from Our Team

At Thanksgiving and year-round, our San Francisco injury law firm gives thanks to everyone who helps make the Bay Area such a great place to live and work.  We give special thanks to all of our clients for trusting us to help them in some of the most trying times of their lives.  It is an honor to work with all of you.

We wish all of our readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

See Related Blog Posts:

Foodborne Illness Litigation: Examining the Law and Looking at a Shigella Outbreak in San Jose

Spotlight on Listeria as Retailers Pull Dips from Shelves Nationwide

(Image by Jennifer Gaillard)

We’ve all been there, you’re driving and find yourself behind a truck carrying a load that just doesn’t look secure and you imagine the load shifting and falling towards your vehicle.  Sadly, cargo spill accidents are a reality, not just the product of overactive imaginations.  Our Oakland truck accident attorney knows the law and partners with top-notch experts to hold all responsible parties financially liable for injuries caused by falling or shifting cargo.

Log Spill Near Sunol and Some Curious Examples of Cargo Load Spills

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that two big-rig trucks collided on southbound I-680 near Highway 84 at
approximately 6:10 AM on Monday.  The collision caused one truck to spill its load of lumber onto the roadway
near Sunol.  While it took crews till 1:20 PM to completely clear the trucks and debris so that all lanes could be reopened, thankfully no one was injured in the incident.

A quick internet search reveals that cargo load spills are relatively common and involve a wide-range of goods.  Some of the more “unique” items spilled onto U.S. roadways in 2015 include:

  • Beer (spilled onto a Maryland mountain highway just last week, per WTOP);
  • Bees (14 Million spilled in Washington state in April per The Seattle Times);
  • Frozen poultry (September spill closed part of I-95 in Florida per First Coast News);
  • Pizza dough (more than 22 tons spilled in Arizona in late October per Time Magazine);
  • Squash (70,000 tons spilled in Michigan in late October per The Elkhart Truth).

Of course, there are also many cases of load spills involving more common products such as trash or lumber.

Rules Governing Cargo Securement and Transportation

trucklogsThe proper method of loading and securing cargo is governed by several laws at both the state and federal level.  Section 3 of California’s Commercial Driver Handbook, titled Transporting Cargo Safely, reviews some state requirements.  Introducing the cargo provisions, the Handbook warns:

“If you load cargo wrong or do not secure it, it can be a danger to others and yourself. Loose cargo that falls off a vehicle can cause traffic problems and others could be hurt or killed. Loose cargo could hurt or kill you during a quick stop or accident. Your vehicle could be damaged by an overload. Steering could be affected by how a vehicle is loaded, making it more difficult to control the vehicle.”

According to the Handbook, California truck drivers must inspect loads for balance, weight limits, and to ensure loads are properly secured.

On the federal side, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) has created additional rules governing the loading and securing of cargo in commercial vehicles that operate in interstate commerce.  The Cargo Securement Rules include both general rules and specific provisions applicable to certain types of cargo (e.g., logs, concrete pipes, heavy machinery).  At the most general level, the FMCSA requires that cargo is firmly immobilized or secured with sufficiently strong tiedowns or other equipment that supports, protects, and limits the movement of the cargo. More specific and detailed rules address the strength and efficacy of equipment for securing cargo loads.

Additional rules apply to trucks carrying hazardous materials such as flammable gases and radioactive materials.

California Injury Attorney Handling Load Spill Accident Litigation

Load spills can be the cause of an accident or the result.  For example, an unbalanced load may cause a truck to tip-over or jackknife.  In other cases, the cargo spill follows an accident (as it sounds like occurred in Monday’s I-680 accident).  With those cases, the failure to properly secure the load may still be highly relevant as it may be a secondary cause that increased the severity of the accident.  An unbalanced load can even turn a fender-bender into a fatal incident.

While some cargo spill stories are amusing given the variety of goods involved, cargo spill accidents can be quite serious and can cause catastrophic injuries or even death.  In these cases, the injured and/or grieving deserve the very best in legal representation.  Experienced San Francisco truck accident lawyer Gregory Brod is committed to exploring all avenues of recovery for load spill victims.  He considers a range of legal theories and evaluates all potential defendants including drivers, trucking companies, and even top-ranking executives.  Attorney Brod also works closely with expert witnesses whose opinions are often essential to proving causation and fault in load spill accidents.

With offices of our truck accident law firm in Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and Oakland, The Brod Law Firm serves all of Northern California.  Call to arrange a no-cost consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:

Bay Area Lawyer on the Danger of Big-Rig Crashes

Holding Trucking Companies Responsible When Mechanical Issues Lead to Tragic Crashes

(Image by Jeremy Rempel, Note: Image does not represent truck involved in referenced spills.)

As we prepare for our upcoming holiday feasts, our thoughts go out to those who are serving our country and are unable to be with their families for the holidays.   We give thanks to them and to their families and hope they all get to enjoy a special meal wherever they may be.  In an ironic twist, one of the latest settlements in the government contracts fraud arena involves a company that agreed to supply produce to our servicepersons.  The allegations are yet another reminder of the very real impact of government fraud, which takes money from taxpayer-funded coffers and, in the case of defense contract fraud, depletes funds needed for our nation’s defense and the protection of those who serve.  We believe those who blow the whistle on government fraud are, like the men and women in the military, true Americans and our defense contract fraud law firm is proud to help.

DOJ Alleges California Company Overcharged for Produce, Violated Defense Contract, and Obstructed Investigation
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Coast Produce Company (“Coast”), a California company, agreed to pay $4 million to resolve contract fraud allegations.  The settlement applies to both civil and criminal lawsuits alleging False Claims Act (“FCA”) violations and claims Coast obstructed a federal investigation.  Coast also agreed to institute measures to ensure future compliance.  It is important to note that Coast did not admit wrongdoing and the claims in the various suits remain allegations only.

navyAs the DOJ press release explains, Coast entered into contracts to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to certain military dining facilities and Navy ships in California.  The agreements allegedly state that Coast could only charge its own cost for the produce plus a fixed per-unit fee of $1.50.  According to the lawsuit, Coast overcharged the military in three ways: 1) Instructing suppliers to provide inflated price quotes that Coast submitted as support for their prices despite instructing the suppliers to actually charge Coast less; 2) Charging the military more than its cost for certain fruits; and 3) Submitting artificially inflated price quotes, often from vendors Coast did not intend to work with, to justify a higher price despite actually purchasing the produce at a lower cost and keeping the difference.

An industry consultant filed suit against Coast using the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the FCA in 2008.  After investigating, the government decided to intervene in the action and eventually negotiated the $4 million settlement.  The government did not claim Coast’s produce was unsatisfactory, just overpriced.  Additionally, the government asserted that Coast provided it with fake invoices during the investigation.  Those claims have been deferred and will be dismissed in two years if Coast institutes certain compliance measures and does not violate its government contracts.  The DOJ reports that, pursuant to the FCA, the whistleblower will receive $920,000 from the settlement money.

What They Risk: The Cost of Defense Contract Fraud

In the press release, an agent involved in the case explains the reason taking fraud seriously: “Overcharging the Department of Defense is always reprehensible because it drains precious funds and resources necessary to protect America’s warfighters.”  Discussing the Coast settlement, the Navy Times notes that Coast is hardly the only defense contractor to be charged with fraud.  The privately-produced newspaper cites a pending investigation into claims a port services contractor bribed Navy personnel using gifts, trips, prostitutes, and meals in exchange for steering ships to Asia-Pacific ports where the company then overcharged to the tune of $20 million.  At least one company leader has reportedly pled guilty in that case.

What We Do: Shutting Down Fraud, Returning Money to Strained Budgets

We live in complex times.  At the holidays and throughout the year, we are thankful for those who volunteer to keep us safe.  We, in turn, need to help keep them safe.  Overcharging the military diverts funds from important activities, including efforts to protect our servicemen and servicewomen.   If you are aware of or suspect defense contract fraud, call our office to learn more about the FCA.  In partnership, our military contract fraud law firm and honest whistleblowers can make a difference.

See Related Blog Posts:

Spotlight on Government Contracts Fraud: The Danger of Overcharging and Other Frauds Involving Military Contracts

When Competitors Collaborate and Costs Rise: Government Contract Fraud Attorney on Bid Rigging

(Image of dry-docked vessel by Rennett Stowe)


While they might be an unusual sight in rural locations, their big yellow counterparts excepted, buses are an important part of the transportation network in cities and tourist destinations.  In some ways, buses are a cross between a large truck and a passenger vehicle, carrying the heft of the larger vehicles with the precious cargo of a packed car.  Last week’s San Francisco tour bus accident has many taking a closer look at this special mode of transit.  Our San Francisco bus accident lawyer remains ready to help victims of any bus accidents in the Northern California region including passengers, occupants of other vehicles, and bystanders alike.

Authorities Eye History of Bus Involved in Union Square Crash

Earlier this week, NBC’s Bay Area affiliate provided an update on last week’s frightening Union Square crash involving a tour bus.  On Friday November 13, a tour bus plowed into a bicycle rider and hit multiple cars before crashing into scaffolding at the Union Square Apple store.  The incident left 20 people injured with three still in critical care and two listed in serious condition as of Monday.  Thus far, a city representative says the police suspect mechanical failure led to the crash, adding “This was 100 percent preventable if there was good recordkeeping and good maintenance reporting.”  She also said she would like the city to take over regulating city tour buses.

NBC now reports that the state’s Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) says that the bus’s license plates did not match the vehicle and actually belonged to another bus from the same company.  Further, the PUC states that there is no evidence the bus underwent required inspections nor had the company told the PUC they were adding a bus into service.  Per NBC, the agency spokeswoman also stated that various law enforcement agencies are working to determine if the plate switch was a deliberate attempt to avoid inspection rules.  Meanwhile, the company released a statement saying they inspect their vehicles at least every 45 days and that the vehicle involved had been inspected last month and is registered with the DMV.

Bus bustourAccident Statistics

According to the 2015 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”), buses travelled 15,167 million miles in the U.S. during 2013, a figure that has been steadily rising in recent years.  The pamphlet states there were more than 5.6 million total crashes nationwide in 2013 with some 66,000 involving buses.  Breaking these numbers down further, out of 30,057 fatal crashes nationwide in 2013, 280 involved buses and out of more than 1.59 million injury-causing crashes, 18,000 involved buses.  Overall, the FMSCA reports that 310 people died in bus crashes in the U.S. during 2013.

Although the FMSCA study reports statistics on bus accidents per million miles, it does not appear to compare those figures to the same statistics for passenger cars.  Citing the Journal of Safety Research (abstract only), a 2013 compilation report “Bus crashes in the United States: What does the Research Say?” by the Harvard-affiliated Journalists’ Resource states there are 3.04 accidents for every million miles driven by buses, a figure comparable to the 3.21 accidents per million miles driven for cars.  The original journal’s authors conclude that while bus accidents are a relatively small percentage of total vehicle accidents, “buses are not, by some measures, necessarily safer than cars.”  The website also cites a federal agency that found “buses and other commercial motor vehicles (CMV) have a higher likelihood of fatal accident involvement per registered vehicle.”

Your San Francisco Tour Bus Accident Attorney

Bus accidents often epitomize the lack of control felt by anyone involved in an accident that was not his/her fault.  As a San Francisco tour bus accident law firm, we can hone in on the cause of accidents and discover where fault lies.  Whether a bus accident is due to a careless company, a negligent driver, another party, or, as is often the case, some combination thereof, we can help the injured and grieving recover compensation for an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.  Contact us at (800) 427-7020 or via our electronic form to arrange a consultation with our experienced accident attorney.

See Related Blog Posts:

San Francisco Muni Accident Lawyer Looks at Non-Passenger Muni Accidents

Tour Bus Safety in San Francisco

Tour Bus Accidents & Liability Under California Law

(Image by Flicker user A National Acrobat; Image does not reflect bus or company involved in crash)

teddyChildren are our most precious resource and protecting them is both a duty and an honor.  Children are naturally curious and unable to fully appreciate potential dangers, making it important for adults to exercise vigilance to keep them safe.  The law reflects this shared responsibility, including in the context of children and premises liability law.  Our Oakland child injury lawyer helps parents fight for the rights of children who are injured or killed because someone else did not maintain their property in a safe manner.

Child Nearly Drowns at Oakley Pond

The Oakland Tribune reports that a young child nearly drowned in a pond in Oakley on Monday.  Responding to a call, East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District arrived at a pond near the 5300 block of Tule Tree Lane where a one-year-old had nearly drowned.  As of this writing, the child’s injuries are unknown but the article reports that an air ambulance transported the baby to a hospital.

Premises Liability Generally

While we cannot comment on the legal implications of the Oakley incident, we send our thoughts and wishes to the family involved.  This story serves as a reminder that children can be injured or even killed in mere moments as a result of unsafe property conditions.  Prevention is always best, but the law does provide protection for people injured on private property and has special provisions for the protection of children.

Generally speaking, premises liability law holds owners/occupiers legally responsible for certain accidents and injuries that occur on their property whether outdoors or inside a structure.  California Jury Instruction (“CACI”) 1000 details the elements that a plaintiff must show to win a premises liability claim:

  1. The defendant owned, leased, occupied, and/or controlled the property;
  2. The defendant was negligent using or maintaining the property;
  3. The plaintiff was harmed; and
  4. The defendant’s negligent was a substantial factor leading to the injury.

Like many other areas of law, premises liability law uses a negligence and reasonable care standard.  As to adults, CACI 1001 explains that an owner/occupier is considered negligent (element 2) if s/he does not use reasonable care to maintain reasonably safe conditions on the property, including making reasonable efforts to discover unsafe conditions.  The Instruction also lists some factors that can impact what is deemed reasonable such as property location, likelihood of someone entering the property, and seriousness of potential harm.

Premises Liability Law and Children

Children are afforded special protections under the law, in part because children cannot foresee consequences as well as adults.  CACI 412 “Duty of Care Owed Children” provides that, in California, adults must exercise extra care when dealing with children and anticipate children’s ordinary behavior.  Applying this principle to the premises liability context, a California appellate court explains:

When, as here children are the focus of care, the landlord’s duty is to protect the young from themselves and guard against perils that are reasonably foreseeable. The determination of the scope of foreseeable perils to children must take into consideration the known propensity for children to intermeddle. Rinehart, IV v. Boys & Girls Club of Chula Vista (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 419 (internal citations removed).

Essentially, the negligence and reasonable care analysis in the case of a child plaintiff is altered to account for the child’s youth.  For example, the premises liability analysis might look at whether the defendant knew or should have known that a condition on the property posed a danger to children, particularly if children are reasonably likely to enter the property.

A California Law Firm for Injured Children and Their Families

If your child was injured on someone else’s property in Northern California, call our office or fill out our online inquiry form.  Cases involving children are particularly emotional, even for our seasoned San Francisco child injury lawyer.  As with all our clients, if you engage our firm to fight on your child’s behalf or in your child’s memory, we promise to give you the attention and sensitivity you deserve.

See Related Blog Posts:

A Warning About the Danger of Falling Furniture from Our California Child Injury Law Office

As in Other Stadium Falls, Tragedy at Candlestick Raises Premises Liability Issue

(Image by Teemu Tretjakov)

At The Brod Law Firm, we are proud to work with motorcycle riders who’ve been injured by negligent drivers and we have long supported the motorcycle riding community.  However, ultimately our job is to help the wrongfully injured or those grieving the wrongfully killed.  While it is less common than pedestrian accidents caused by cars, pedestrian accidents caused by motorcycles are a threat.  When a negligent motorcycle rider harms a pedestrian, our San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney is, as always, prepared to fight for the wrongfully injured.  We know that most riders are as committed to safety as they are to the open road and suspect they’d support our efforts to help the victims of motorcycle riders who failed to appreciate the power two wheels can have.

Weekend San Francisco Motorcycle Crash Leaves Pedestrian Dead

Over the weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the arrest of a motorcycle rider on hit-and-run charges.  A police spokesman told reporters that a 67-year-old woman had been crossing 24th Street mid-block in the vicinity of Noriega Street shortly before 7 PM on Friday when a motorcyclist passed around a double-parked vehicle and hit the pedestrian.  The woman was transported to San Francisco General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The motorcyclist fled the scene on foot, leaving the pedestrian and his motorcycle behind.  Police were able to find video cameras that captured the deadly accident and the motorcycle rider, a 59-year-old male, later surrendered to police.  He faces vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, and speeding charges.

Numerous California Motorcycle vs. Pedestrian Accidents in 2015

pedsign2Friday’s crash is just one example of the motorcycle vs. pedestrian accidents that have occurred in California this year.* In September, The San Gabriel Times reported that a motorcycle struck a pedestrian who had been lying in the middle of a West Covina road.  It is unclear why the pedestrian was in the road and if he was unconscious, but he later died from his injuries.  In July, according to The San Diego Union Tribune, a woman suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries when she was hit by a motorcycle while crossing against the light in downtown San Diego.  Also in the San Diego area, ABC10 reported on a pedestrian who died after being hit by a motorcycle in January.

Closer to home, readers may recall that in July a motorcycle careened into a group gathered in Downtown San Francisco.  As ABC7 reported, the rider hit several pedestrians in the crosswalk at Market and 3rd.  Witnesses reported that the motorcyclist had been speeding.  Four people were hospitalized, one with life-threatening injuries.

Study: Elevated Relative Risk of Pedestrian Fatalities Per Mile for Motorcycles vs. Cars

After reviewing the events above, we continued to find even more examples of motorcycles hitting pedestrians, even limiting our research to California in 2015.  Surprisingly, there has been little research into this issue.  One of the few papers on the topic, a 2002 study published in Injury Prevention, found that 25 of the 4,875 pedestrian fatalities in 2002 involved motorcycles.  The authors suggested looking at deaths per mile travelled to obtain a fuller safety picture and found motorcycles were involved in 2.62 pedestrian deaths per billion miles travelled while the number for cars was 1.36.  Per the study, “motorcycles and buses were involved in relatively few pedestrian deaths, but were much more likely than passenger cars to be involved in a pedestrian fatality for every billion miles of travel.”  Stated another way: “Motorcycles and light trucks also showed a significantly increased relative risk compared with passenger cars.”  Notably, per mile, motorcycles were significantly more likely to kill pedestrians ages 0-14 years old compared to passenger cars.

Helping Northern California Pedestrians

Most motorcycle riders, like most drivers, are responsible and safe.  In fact, no group dislikes negligent riders more than safe riders whose reputations are sullied by those who don’t respect the power of a modern motorcycle.  If you were injured by a motorcycle while walking in Northern California or a loved one was killed because of a motorcycle rider’s negligence in Northern California, call our office to learn about your legal rights.  We are proud to serve the Bay Area and beyond with pedestrian injury law offices in Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Rosa.  Meeting in our office affords us access to a variety of resources, but we are happy to meet you elsewhere if you are unable to travel to us.

*Note: Since California uses a comparative negligence rule, the pedestrians in these cases may, depending on the exact facts, have a claim against the rider even though their own acts may have contributed to the incident.

See Related Blog Posts:

Pedestrian Fatalities: Local Accidents, National Statistics

Caught on Tape – Using Video Evidence in Support of a California Personal Injury Claim

(Image by Peter Blanchard)

Fraud follows the money.  If something is expensive, there is probably someone looking to steal it or profit from it.  Given the ever-rising cost of health care, it is hardly surprising that health care fraud is a growing problem and that Medicare and other government health programs are frequent targets.  Home health care services are among the priciest services covered by Medicare and, not surprisingly, home health fraud is a major threat to the Medicare system, Medicare beneficiaries, and to all Americans who seek any form of health care and/or all taxpayers.  Our home health Medicare fraud law firm partners with the brave, honest individuals who step forward to share knowledge, fight fraud, and return wrongfully obtained money to the government.

The Background: Home Health Services Under Medicare

Medicare covers certain home health services for qualified beneficiaries.  Eligible services include intermittent skilling nursing care and a range of additional services like physical, occupational, and speech therapy.  Generally, these services are coordinated by a home health agency (“HHA”).  Medicare’s home health benefit does not cover meal delivery, round-the-clock care, personal care, or help with cleaning and other homemaker services.

To qualify for home health services, a Medicare beneficiary must: 1) Be under a doctor’s regular care; 2) Obtain a doctor’s certification that the patient needs intermittent nursing service and/or rehabilitative treatment; 3) Be homebound, as certified by their doctor; 4) Have needs limited to those treatable via part-time or intermittent care; and 5) Work through a Medicare-certified HHA.  Some patients may be eligible for certain medical equipment (ex. wheelchairs, monitoring equipment).

To receive coverage for home-based rehabilitative services, a patient’s care plan must specify the amount, frequency, and time period of the care and a qualified therapist must be necessary to safely and effectively carry out the plan.  Further, the patient must either: A) Be expected to improve in a reasonable time frame; B) Need the treatment to create a maintenance plan; or C) Require skilled help to safely and effectively carry out maintenance therapy.

doctor2Medicare Home Health Services Fraud

In 2012, the Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) for the Department of Health and Human Services issued a report titled Inappropriate and Questionable Billing by Medicare Home Health Agencies.  Although a few years old, the report provides a useful overview of the problem, a problem we believe has likely grown since that time.  The OIG found that in 2010 Medicare paid 11,203 HHAs a total of $19.5 billion to serve 3.4 million beneficiaries.

The 2012 study was conducted because prior research showed home health is vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse.  According to the OIG, three specific errors (overlap between inpatient care and home health claims, overlap with inpatient skilled nursing facility care, and billing for services after a beneficiary’s death) alone accounted for $5 billion in inappropriate Medicare payments in 2010.  Additionally, the OIG found that one in four HHAs exceeded identified thresholds for unusually high billing in any of six measures indicating potential fraud.  Questionable billing by HHAs occurred most often in Texas, Florida, California, and Michigan.

A Continuing Threat

Although the OIG recommended practices to identify/prevent fraud, calling for closer scrutiny of home health service claims, and suggesting a moratorium on the enrollment of new HHAs in two states, home health service fraud remains a problem today.  In June 2015, Heathcare Dive cited a DOJ spokesman who said approximately half of the Department’s then-pending healthcare fraud caseload involved HHAs and an industry interest-group executive who reported seeing a new indictment or conviction almost every week.  While precise charges involving HHAs varied, the article notes many involved Medicare claims that were not medically necessary or were not actually provided.  Other common schemes involved paying/submitting kickbacks to obtain beneficiary information needed to file a (fraudulent) claim or paying recruiters to bring in Medicare patients which is not permitted by Medicare rules.  The industry representative noted that most cases did not involve a subjective disagreement on medical necessity, instead involving services that were clearly not indicated or were not in fact provided.  Simply put, he said: “These are pretty black and white.”

Cases continue to be filed involving alleged FCA violations in the home health arena.  Last month, the DOJ announced the indictment of a Miami physician accused of conspiring to commit health care fraud by taking kickbacks and bribes in exchange for writing prescriptions for Medicare beneficiaries to receive home health services and other treatments that were not medically necessary.  According to the DOJ, another person involved in the scheme has pled guilty and admitted that the conspirators’ acts cost Medicare $20 million.

Protecting the System, Returning Taxpayer Money to Medicare Coffers

Home health care is an important service for certain patients.  Protecting the right of appropriate Medicare beneficiaries to receive home health services means holding those who defraud accountable.  Legal action against these scammers helps return money to the Medicare program, making it available for those who genuinely need it and protecting funds that come from American taxpayers.  Vigilance in prosecuting wrongdoers also helps prevent future fraud by sending a clear message that it will not be tolerated.

If you are aware of a fraudulent home health care scheme or any other fraud on Medicare, Medicaid, or other government programs, you can be part of the solution.  Whistleblowers are brave, but they need not go it alone; our government fraud law firm and home health care fraud lawyer can help.  Remember, staying silent means contributing to the problem and we can help even if you’ve been involved in some of the fraudulent activities.

See Related Blog Posts:

Cheat the System, Pay the Price: Pursuing Those Who Knowingly Violate Medicare Rules

Putting Money Over Medicine: Health Care Fraud, Kickbacks and Patient Recruiters

(Image by Alex E. Proimos)

Some people never drive a car, some never travel by public transit, many never fly, but almost everyone is a pedestrian at some point.  Pedestrian safety is a critical piece of the transportation safety picture and Attorney Greg Brod is proud to serve as a pedestrian accident lawyer in Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and other Northern California communities.  In today’s post, we look at a tragic series of fatal pedestrian accidents in the Bay Area in recent days.  We then move to the national level and take a look at who is involved in pedestrian crashes plus when and where these tragedies occur.  Understanding accidents is critical to preventing accidents and serving our clients after a tragedy strikes.

At Least Three Northern California Pedestrian Deaths in November’s First Nine Days

Recent weeks have seen a number of fatal pedestrian accidents in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The San Jose Mercury News reports that Interstate 880 near Highway 237 in Milpitas saw at least two fatal pedestrian accidents pedkilledwithin a week’s time.  CHP personnel told reporters that a man was hit by multiple vehicles and killed when he tried to run across Interstate 880 on November 1.  Another accident occurred on the same road on November 6 around 5:10 PM.  According to the paper, a 65-year-old man was trying to cross the freeway’s southbound lanes just south of Dixon Landing Road.  In addition to the two pedestrian fatalities, a motorcycle rider was also killed in the same general area on November 3.

Despite the spate of accidents, Milpitas was not the local community to see a pedestrian death in the past two weeks.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a woman was hit and killed in Walnut Creek on the morning of Monday November 9.  The Chronicle reports that a driver ran a red light at Treat Boulevard and Candelero Drive, hitting a pedestrian in the crosswalk before broadsiding another vehicle and coming to a stop in the intersection.  The incident occurred around 7:50 AM and, after being taken to the hospital, the 56-year-old female pedestrian passed away at 9:15 AM.  Police are reportedly looking into whether the wet weather played a role in the tragedy.

Pedestrian Fatalities by the Numbers: Who, When, Where

In February, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) released its annual Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians report based on data from 2013.  Overall, the agency found that 4,735 pedestrians died and 66,000 were injured due to traffic crashes nationwide in 2013.  This works out to one pedestrian death every two hours and one pedestrian injury every 8 minutes.

  • Who?

According to the NHTSA, the average age of the pedestrians who were killed in the U.S. during 2013 was 46.   The report found that 5% of pedestrian fatalities were children age 14 and younger while 19% were people over the age of 65.  Looking at the age issue from a different angle, 14% of all traffic deaths involved pedestrians, but 21% of all traffic deaths involving children were pedestrian deaths, making it critically important that we focus on child pedestrian safety.  Males made up a whopping 69% of pedestrian deaths.  Another notable fact: Approximately 36% of pedestrians fatally injured in traffic accidents had blood alcohol content levels of 0.08 or higher.

  • When and Where?

The NHTSA found that nearly three-quarters of pedestrian fatalities in 2013 occurred in urban areas.  Further, approximately 69% of the fatal crashes occurred on roadways when the pedestrian was not in an intersection, 20% involved a pedestrian in an intersection, and 10% involved other locations like parking lots, sidewalks, and shared-use trails.  A total of 72% of fatal pedestrian accidents occurred in the dark.  Overall, 6 to 8:59 PM was the three-hour period that saw the highest percentage (26%) of pedestrian deaths.  Interestingly, the NHTSA found that pedestrian fatalities tended to occur earlier in the day during fall and winter than during spring and summer.

Helping Pedestrians in Northern California

Pedestrians should always obey traffic rules and should make every effort to travel in well-lit conditions.  That noted, pedestrians are always at the mercy of drivers and their safety is dependent on the behavior of every driver they encounter.  When driver negligence leads to a pedestrian tragedy, we help the injured and/or grieving hold the driver legally accountable and ensure the victims recover the compensation they need and deserve.  Remember, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, the law does not demand a plaintiff’s perfection so pedestrians may be able to recover compensation even if they made mistakes.  Call our San Francisco/Santa Rosa/Oakland pedestrian accident lawyer and arrange a no-cost consultation to learn more.

See Related Blog Posts:

Sharing the Road: Even the Safest Pedestrians and Motorcyclists Rely on Responsible Drivers

A California Law Firm Helping the Victims of the Hit-and-Run Epidemic

(Image by Joe Shlabotnik)

From hard corners softened with cushions to outlets plugged with guards, parents spend hours making their homes safe for their children.  Still, even the most diligent parent can’t spot every potential danger in their own homes or in other places children visit.  That truth is one of many reasons we demand that companies produce and sell safe products, a demand backed up by California’s strict liability rules in product liability cases.  At The Brod Law Firm, a San Francisco child injury law firm, we believe in both prevention and accountability.  Today’s blog entry looks at a danger lurking in many buildings including children’s homes, child care centers, and the residences of relatives or other caregivers – window blind cords.  We encourage every parent to be alert for this danger, but we also believe the manufacturers should be held responsible when unnecessarily dangerous products harm our children.

ABC7 Reports on Strangulation Danger Despite Industry Standards

The threat of strangulation by window blind cords is not an unknown danger, but ABC7 recently investigated and found the danger remains despite industry standards intended to prevent child injury and child deaths.  According to the report, the government estimates that one child dies every month after being strangled by blind cords.  The news channel relays the story of one California toddler whose mother had tied the pull cord out of reach to protect blindsher children and then, one tragic day, found her son dangling from blinds near his crib.  Sixteen month old Jacob had gotten trapped in the inner cord of the window coverings.

Blind cords can kill in seconds and, as ABC7 notes, children are unable to cry for help, resulting in 405 strangulations in the past three decades despite the fact that the industry is aware of cord dangers.  The news report says that Elliot Kaye, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), is working to ban blinds with any form of accessible cords.  Although two retailers have already stopped selling such blinds and more have pledged to follow suit, the industry is pushing back.

State Assemblywoman Susan Eggman has also joined the fight, contesting what she claims is an effort by lobbyists to shift blame and stating strongly, “Parents are not to blame.”  Eggman introduced a bill earlier this year to ban blinds with dangerous cords from stores and daycare locations in California, but much of the bill has already been altered.  Eggman suggests the manufacturing industry, which disputes the strangulation numbers and says changes have made an impact, stopped the bill.  Both Eggman and the CPSC are continuing their mission.

Keeping Your Children Safe

A CPSC safety poster warns of the danger with the vivid and upsetting image of a doll’s throat caught in a blind cord.  The agency suggests three steps for parents to take to keep their children safe: 1) Examine window coverings for any exposed cords; 2) Use only cordless blinds in homes that young children live in or visit; 3) If parents cannot purchase cordless blinds, see the website of the Window Covering Safety Council (a coalition of industry players) for additional safety tips and order a free retrofit kit that can mitigate dangers.

Demanding Accountability through Product Liability Litigation

While we applaud the industry for forming a safety-oriented coalition, ABC’s report suggests it may not be enough.  Companies must be held accountable for dangerous products, especially when those products threaten children.  If your child has been hurt or killed because of a window blind cord or any other unnecessarily dangerous consumer product in Northern California, please call our product safety law firm in Oakland, San Francisco, or Santa Rosa.  We offer a free consultation and we are committed to fighting for our children and yours.

See Related Blog Posts:

Water Heater Fires: A Threat on All Our Minds

Northern California Child Injury Attorney Examines Rising Number of Bounce House Injuries

A Warning About the Danger of Falling Furniture from Our California Child Injury Law Office

(Image by Tiffany Terry)