San Francisco Injury Lawyer Blog

From the big yellow buses we put our children on each morning (image by Greg Goebel)to the city buses we ride in our daily commutes and the buses that let us tour a new city, we have a right to expect buses to be safe.  In addition to ensuring that the vehicles are functioning properly, bus companies should be held responsible for ensuring that their policies and practices encourage safe driving.  A recent study raises questions about whether a major bus company has been putting passengers at risk due to drowsy bus drivers.  With several high-profile bus accidents in our own region in recent years, this study is of great concern to our San Francisco bus accident lawyer.

CNN Investigation Suggests Bus Company Fails to Prevent Drowsy Driving

CNN recently looked into the safety practices of the Greyhound bus company, the largest bus company in North America that transports some 18 million passengers across approximately 5.5 billion miles each year.  The investigation was partly inspired by a 2013 accident that left one woman dead and many more injured.  Passengers on that tragic bus ride believe that their driver fell asleep at the wheel.  At least one pending lawsuit involving 22 of the passengers suggests that Greyhound is at fault for allowing a dangerously drowsy driver to operate a bus.  Greyhound denies that fatigue was a factor in that crash.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 3,074 people died in traffic-related incidents in California in 2014.  As far as our San Francisco car accident lawyer is concerned, that is 3,074 deaths too many.  At the Brod Law Firm, we represent people left grieving after a family member dies in a fatal car accident in the San Francisco Bay Area region or anywhere in Northern California.  We are also dedicated to providing our readers with information to help them stay safe.  We know about the tragedies that can stem from a car accident and we want to do everything in our power to prevent those tragedies.

Study Focuses on Causes of Traffic Fatalities by State

If we want to prevent fatal car accidents, we need to know what causes them.  Last year, the journal Business Insider  looked at this very question.  The report relies on a study conducted by the Auto Insurance Center, an insurance information website, that reviewed all fatal car accidents recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s information systems from 2009 to 2013 to determine what dangerous behaviors caused the highest number of fatal accidents in each state.  For purposes of the study, the researchers included pedestrian, passenger, and driver fatalities.

Most drivers have seen the bumper stickers that read: “Look Twice Save a Life – Motorcycles Are Everywhere.”  Tragically, many drivers fail to heed this warning.  Motorcycle accidents and motorcycle fatalities are far too common and often a careless or inattentive driver is to blame.  As an Oakland motorcycle accident attorney, Greg Brod advocates for riders and families whose lives are forever altered because of a driver’s negligence.

Two Motorcycle Rider Killed in Highway 113 Crash

CBS SF reports that two motorcycle riders died after a crash on Highway 113 near Dixon this past Saturday.  At around 6:48 PM, California Highway Patrol officers were called to the scene of an accident near Hay Road in unincorporated Solano County.  Police believe that a 36-year-old woman was making a left turn in a 2010 Dodge Charger and failed to yield the right of way to two oncoming motorcyclists.  The riders, who were travelling at around 55mph on separate motorcycles, crashed into the car and both were ejected from their bikes.

While it is no longer headline news, the impact of mortgage fraud continues to be felt nationwide.  As the fallout continues, so does the fight to make companies and individuals pay for violating the law and contributing to a major financial crisis.  The False Claims Act (“FCA”) is one of the most important tools in this fight.  Its use in this context is an important reminder of the FCA’s broad coverage, reach that extends far beyond health care fraud to include financial industry fraud that improperly takes money from the government or its agencies.  Our government fraud whistleblowers’ law firm works with honest individuals to combat fraud on the government using this important legislation.

Lender Pays $64 Million to Resolve Claims of Mortgage Fraud

On Friday May 13, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that M&T Bank had agreed to pay $64 million to resolve allegations its mortgage lending practices violated federal guidelines and the FCA.  The underlying suit dealt with the Bank’s role as a Direct Endorsement Lender (“DEL”) for the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”).  Under that program, M&T could originate, underwrite, and endorse FHA insured mortgages so that the holder of the loan could submit a cmoneyrolllaim to the FHA if the lender later defaults.  The government relies on DELs to follow program rules, including the use of a quality control program, and does not independently review the loans for compliance.  When companies violate this trust, it can lead to the government endorsing unqualified loans and paying out substantial money after lenders default on loans that should never have been approved.

boatfireThere’s a cruel irony to the thought of battling a fire when surrounded by nothing but water.  Nonetheless, boating fires are a very real threat to life, health, and property.  When boat fires result from unsafe products or from the negligence of an individual or entity, our San Francisco boating injury law firm is here to help.

Two Men and One Dog Rescued After Boat Fire in Half Moon Bay

The danger of a boat fire became all too real for two skilled Bay Area boaters this week.  According to KPIX, a well-known fisherman was headed back to Half Moon Bay when he started to smell smoke.  Another passenger and the fisherman’s dog were also on board.  A Venture County Fire Department official told reporters that when the passenger went to investigate, a large amount of smoke came pouring out of the vessel’s engine compartment.  The captain issued a mayday call and, after donning protective gear (yes, the dog had a life jacket too), the trio jumped into the water.  Thankfully, another boater was in the area and picked them up shortly thereafter.

pool2As summer nears, pools and lakes are becoming (forgive the pun) hot spots.  With the arrival of the water recreation season comes an increased danger of drowning and children are particularly at risk.  Often, drowning is a tragic accident.  However, sometimes drowning, in particular swimming pool drowning, occurs because a company or individual is negligent.  When negligence puts people in danger, our Santa Rosa pool injury lawyer fights for the victims and for their families.

Fatal Drowning in Rohnert Park Condo Pool

One of the first reported drowning deaths of the 2016 season occurred on Sunday according to a report from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.  Police believe that a young child was using a kickboard in the swimming pool at a Sonoma condominium complex when he slipped off the board.  Officers suspect that the 4-year-old boy was underwater for several minutes before he was spotted.  Bystanders attempted CPR and rescue workers, who arrived within four minutes of the 911 call, continued the efforts, but they were unsuccessful and the boy was pronounced dead at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.  A representative from the police office urged great care as the water activity season begins stating, “Whether you’re swimming or boating, in a lake, a pool or the ocean, it doesn’t matter the age, be observant, be aware.”

Marijuana has been a topic of discussion and debate for many years.  While medical marijuana is accepted here in California, debate continues over how to control medical usage, whether to permit recreational use, and how to resolve conflicts between state and federal law.  There is one question, however, that our San Francisco injury lawyer feels has not gotten nearly enough attention – the impact of marijuana use on driving ability.

The Debate Over Driving While High and the Criminal Law Question

Over the weekend, KPIX took a look at this important issue.  Three drivers with varying histories of marijuana usage were put through a testing course in Washington state.  On the first round, despite having an unclear amount of marijuana in their systems, all three drove acceptably.  However, after smoking again, the report notes that fact that all three were high “really started to show” and one driver almost hit the photographer.

Cancer.  Rarely can one word strike so much fear.  We have come so far in both cancer prevention and cancer treatment; yet we also have so much farther to go before we can truly say we’ve triumphed over this massive beast.  One major challenge is the cost of treating cancer.  While much of that cost is due to the challenges of medical research, some companies are deliberately over-charging cancer patients and their insurance providers by billing for expensive and unnecessary services.  The battle against cancer treatment fraud is yet another example of a front in which the False Claims Act can be a tool for justice and even a tool for health.  As a health care fraud law firm, we partner with whistleblowers to fight these wrongs and ensure health care funds are available for true medical needs.

Company Pays Nearly $34.7 Million to Settle Allegations of Overbilling for Cancer Treatment

Earlier this Spring, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that 21st Century Oncology agreed to pay nearly $34.7 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging they performed and billed federal health care agencies (e.g., healthcashMedicare, Tricare, Medicaid) for procedures that were not medically necessary.  The underlying suit involved a procedure called the Gamma function which measures the exit dose radiating from an individual after radiation treatments.  The government alleged that the company performed and billed for this procedure when it was not needed for any medically appropriate purpose.  Additionally, the suit alleged that 21st Century billed for Gamma function treatments in cases where no physician reviewed the results in a timely manner and in cases where technical equipment failures meant no results could be obtained.  The suit was originally brought by a former physicist with a Florida oncology company who filed the claims under the whistleblower or qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act and who will receive over $7 million for his role in the case.

Every year, the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) releases what it calls its “Most Wanted List.”  This list represents the NTSB’s top advocacy priorities for the year, improvements to safety that the NTSB believes can make the biggest difference in preventing transportation accidents and saving lives.  Our San Francisco injury law firm shares the NTSB’s commitment to transportation safety and, while we advocate for injury victims in California every day, we know that prevention is always the best goal.

The following items are on the NTSB’s 2016 Most Wanted List:

  • Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents: It is impossible to know exactly how many car accidents are due to drowsy driving, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes anywhere from 2% to 20% of yearly traffic fatalities are due to drowsy drivers.  The problem also extends to other areas of the transportation field and the NTSB identified fatigue as a probable cause in 20% of the Board’s 182 major investigations between 2001 and 2012.

Many smokers have turned to e-cigarettes in recent years, often with the hope that the product will be safer than traditional cigarettes.  However, the research is far from clear and e-cigarettes are far from harmless.  Aside from the danger to the person using them, a recent study notes the rising numbers of children being poisoned by the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes.  As a San Francisco dangerous products lawyer, Greg Brod is watching the e-cigarette poisoning story and ready to help Californians whenever unduly dangerous products put people, especially children, at risk.

E-Cigarettes Generally

E-cigarettes are, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), one of several forms of Electronic Nicotine Systems.  Vaporizers and vape pens are closely related.  These devices heat a liquid containing nicotine is heated into an aerosol form that is then inhaled by the user.  The liquids often contain flavorings and a range of other ingredients as well.  E-cigarette use has skyrocketed in the past few years, especially among teens.