San Francisco Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accident

At times, it seems like reading the paper or watching the news requires a level of detachment.  With so many stories of personal tragedy, connecting emotionally with every report can be overwhelming.  Yet, connecting the story to the law is a key part of what we do at our San Francisco wrongful death law firm.  Connecting allows us to serve our clients on the emotional, as well as the legal, journey that follows tragedy.  Ensuring the jury connects with the plaintiff and/or victim can help us recover compensation for the client.  A personalized story can also drive home a message about accident prevention.  Today, we look at the story and the law behind a recent pedestrian fatality and we consider the potential legal implications for an accident caused by someone fleeing the police.

Kind, Warm-Hearted Woman Killed in Pedestrian Crash

crosswalk2Last Friday, a 42-year-old female pedestrian was struck and killed in San Francisco’s Financial District.  On Monday, one of the headline stories on the San Francisco Chronicle website took a closer look at the victim and the fatal accident.  At around 10 P.M., police say three men held up an individual near the intersection of Clay and Larkin.  Shortly thereafter, officers attempted to pull the trio over and the suspects fled in a Toyota Corolla.  Around the same time, Bridget Klecher was walking in the Financial District after dining with a friend.  With police in pursuit, the Toyota sped north on Leavenworth Street and plowed into Klecher as she crossed near Kearny Street.  The vehicle continued fleeing and hit another person at Post and Powell Streets before the suspects abandoned the car on Treasure Island.  While the second victim is expected to survive, Kearney later died at San Francisco General Hospital.

Friends held a memorial service for Klecher on Sunday.  They described her as kind and warm, a jokester, and “the coolest girl I’ve ever met” without a mean bone in her body.  She’d moved to San Francisco from Maryland in the mid-1990s.  Klecher was a Giants fanatic and eagerly awaited the home opener.  Now, her friends await a break in the case

Civil and Criminal Implications of a Death Caused By Perpetrators Fleeing Police

Often, mourners find some solace in seeing those responsible for an untimely death held responsible.  Regular readers of this blog know that the criminal and civil arms of the law operate separately.  Family members can pursue a wrongful death case in civil court at the same time as prosecutors bring criminal charges, or even if authorities choose not to prosecute.

Special criminal charges may apply when someone is killed by perpetrators fleeing the scene of another crime.  Vehicular Manslaughter, defined in Penal Code 192(c), involves (1) killing another (2) when driving with negligence or gross negligence and (3) committing either a non-felony unlawful act or a lawful act that might lead to a death.  While murder typically requires proof of malice, a special Felony Murder Rule (CA Penal Code Sec. 189) allows the charge when the death occurred during the commission of one of the listed felonies (including robbery, burglary, and sexual assault) or another inherently dangerous felony.  It can apply even if a co-conspirator actually killed the victim.  The Felony Murder Rule only applies if the death occurred during the commission of the felony, but that generally includes an immediate escape attempt that continues until the individual reaches a temporary place of safety (see Criminal Jury Instruction 3261 which further defines a place of temporary safety as having escaped from the crime scene and no longer being chased).

On the civil side, the case would most likely be brought as a wrongful death action under Civil Code 377.60 et. seq.  This claim typically belongs to the deceased’s closest relative(s).  Punitive damages, which are intended to punish the responsible party rather than compensate the victim, may be deemed appropriate.  This can greatly increase the amount of money that the defendant owes the plaintiffs.

Choosing a Lawyer

Choosing a lawyer is a difficult decision.  We encourage you to look at the information on our webpage and arrange an initial consultation with Attorney Brod, a skilled and experienced San Francisco injury lawyer.  We promise to handle your civil claims with the utmost respect, keep you informed throughout the attorney/client relationship, and, of course, provide top-notch legal services while never forgetting the human side of our relationship.  Please call to learn more.

 

See Related Blog Posts:

Compensation & Change: Our Law Firm’s Goals Following a Pedestrian Death

The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Rule in San Francisco Injury Lawsuits

(Image by Robert Vega)

At the Brod Law Firm, we are more than a personal injury law office, we are a personal safety law office. We work to get compensation for those who are paying the price for someone else’s negligence, including families of those who paid the very highest price. We are also advocates for safety, encouraging people to take steps to prevent accidents. We believe in preventing people from causing accidents and also helping people avoid becoming victims. Safety tips are rarely perfect, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still be followed, a truth that came to mind as our Santa Rosa pedestrian injury lawyer learned about a recent accident and explored the evidence regarding crosswalk injuries.

Crosswalk Crash Leaves Girl in Critical Condition Last Sunday night, a Santa Rosa family was walking to their car after visiting with relatives when their world was suddenly shattered by a terrible accident. The Press Democrat reports that the father and son had already crossed Petaluma Hill Road in the vicinity of Breeze Way and the mother and 6 year-old daughter were walking hand-in-hand through the crosswalk when tragedy struck. Police say the pedestrian warning lights were activated when a northbound car approached the crosswalk. Reportedly the driver saw the mother and daughter at the last moment and applied his brakes but he still hit the little girl, despite the duo’s attempt to jump out of the way. The child was thrown approximately 25 feet up the road. She was initially taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and then flown to Children’s Hospital in Oakland. As of Tuesday, she remained hospitalized with critical, life-threatening injuries. An investigation into the crash is underway and the driver is cooperating with police.

crosswalk2.jpgThe NHTSA on Crosswalk Safety Despite Sunday’s accident, we strongly recommend pedestrians use (and localities install/maintain) crosswalks. In June 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a National Pedestrian Crash Report aimed at analyzing trends in pedestrian accidents between 1997 and 2006. The research found that only 9% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in crosswalks compared to 80% occurring in roadways. The report concludes: “This indicates that using a crosswalk is the safest way to cross a street.” Many other research pieces and safety guides from the NHTSA echo this sentiment, such as a 2012 Consumer Advisory that urges pedestrians to “walk with care” and use crosswalks whenever possible.

Crosswalk Controversy Perhaps surprisingly, crosswalks are not without controversy. There are groups that suggest crosswalks can be dangerous, pointing primarily to over-confidence on the part of pedestrians. These groups say that pedestrians are too quick to presume a crosswalk will be safe and do not take other appropriate safety precautions (ex. looking for approaching vehicles). We don’t disagree that it is important for pedestrians to watch for traffic whenever crossing a road, but we ultimately agree with the NHTSA that crosswalks, when used appropriately, are a net positive. This does not mean accidents cannot occur, as Sunday’s events show all too well, but we still encourage pedestrians to use crosswalks.

Additionally, some groups use research that points to a higher number of injuries on roads with crosswalks. We would respond by pointing out that crosswalks tend to be placed on busier roads and are unlikely to be found on smaller roads that have less traffic and thus fewer accidents.

Focusing on Safety and Compensation Crosswalks only work when pedestrians use them and drivers respect them. It is too soon and we have too little information to pass judgment on Sunday’s crash. However, the fact that the victim was utilizing a crosswalk can be a key piece of evidence supporting the plaintiff’s case in a personal injury or wrongful death case. If you or a loved one was injured in a crosswalk accident in Northern California, please call our office. Our pedestrian injury law office in Santa Rosa, along with our other locations in San Francisco and Oakland, is here to help you recover compensation from those at fault.

See Related Blog Posts:
Caught on Tape – Using Video Evidence in Support of a California Personal Injury Claim
With Numbers in, 2013 Goes Down as Deadly Year for Pedestrians in San Francisco

(Image by Robert Vega)

One of the key parts of our job as an injury law firm is gathering evidence to help reconstruct life-changing moments. In the majority of cases, no one expected these moments to occur and it is only afterwards that the importance of the minutes or even seconds of an incident is realized. Fact-gathering is an important part of our work as an Oakland injury law firm and being brought onto a case in a timely fashion ensures we can collect the evidence necessary to help our client recover needed compensation.

A Fact-Intensive Hearing in an Oakland Hit-and-Run
While focused on a pending criminal case (versus our work in civil court), a recent news report serves as a reminder that injury law is very fact-intensive. An Oakland Tribune report details some of the pieces of evidence that led a Santa Cruz County Superior Court to rule that there is enough evidence to have Oakland-scales.jpgresident Joanna Steele stand trial for the hit-and-run death of 70 year-old Adolfo “Adolf” Galvan. The incident occurred on August 24 on Pacific Avenue and Galvan spent 11 days in a coma before passing. Evidence presented at the preliminary hearing included: Testimony of a police officer who interviewed Steele after the incident and told the court she first denied and then later admitted to driving the vehicle believed to be involved in the crash; Records of a test that put Steele’s blood alcohol level at 0.15 three hours after the crash; Testimony of two brothers who together reported witnessing the moments before, during, and after a truck collided with a pedestrian sending him flying into the air; and Video recordings of the truck from a short period prior to the crash.

Steele remains out on bail. She is due back in court for another pre-trial hearing in January and faces up to four years in prison. Preliminary hearings are typically focused on the prosecution’s case and Steele’s defense attorney will no doubt present his own evidence when the case goes to trial.

The Intersection of Law & Facts: The Essential Role of Fact-Gathering in Injury Cases
Injury cases are about the intersection of the law and the facts. As California judges instruct juries: “In criminal trials, the prosecution must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But in civil trials, such as this one, the party who is required to prove something need prove only that it is more likely to be true than not true” (Civil Jury Instruction 200). Most injury cases rest on a theory of negligence and the plaintiff must show that the defendant was negligent, that the plaintiff suffered harm, and that the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor leading to that harm (see Civil Jury Instruction).

When you are hurt, medical care should be your first priority. We do, however, urge you to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. While the law remains relatively constant, facts require proof and proof can be a fleeting thing — witnesses can disappear, recordings may be taped over, cars are repaired. When we work for an injured client, we invest considerable time in uncovering all the evidence available in order to reconstruct the injury-causing event. In some cases, the police are also conducting an investigation but this is not always the case (in part because of the aforementioned difference in evidentiary standards) and it is important to conduct our own inquiry. Our team is experienced and thorough and we know what to look for in order to help prove our client is entitled to compensation. Call our offices 24/7 to talk to a representative and arrange a free consultation with at our injury law offices in Oakland, San Francisco, or Santa Rosa.

See Related Blog Posts:
Caught on Tape – Using Video Evidence in Support of a California Personal Injury Claim
Compensation & Change: Our Law Firm’s Goals Following a Pedestrian Death

(Photo by Clyde Robinson of work by Jason Luper)

The heart of personal injury law lies at the intersection of the law and the facts. At the Brod Law Firm, we pride ourselves on knowing the law and on our ability to gather evidence to support our client’s claim for monetary compensation. Two important precepts that govern litigation are: 1) Evidence is not simply what happened, but what can be proven; and 2) If it isn’t in evidence (including testimonial evidence and all other forms) then, as far as the court is concerned, it didn’t happen. Surveillance video evidence is among the most powerful forms of evidence in the personal injury arena and a side effect of our digital world is that it isn’t unusual to have an injury-causing event captured on camera. When video evidence is available, our San Francisco personal injury lawyer works to obtain the video and to ensure the video fits together with all the evidence to tell our client’s story and, ultimately, help our client recover all the compensation the law allows.

Video May Hold Clues to Jogger’s Death
A surveillance video may prove critical to understanding what led to the death of a pedestrian in San Francisco on Thursday morning. As reported in The San Francisco Chronicle, 51 year-old Lori Helmer was jogging when she was struck by a Golden Gate Transit bus at 6:15 A.M. According to police, the bus was making a left turn to head northbound on Van Ness Avenue from eastbound Lombard Street. There is a traffic light at the intersection, but it is not yet clear what color light the bus had when it made the turn. Helmer was in or near the crosswalk at the time of impact.

An ambulance transported Helmer to San Francisco General Hospital where doctors declared her dead as a result of her injuries. Neither the bus driver nor his passengers were injured in the crash. Police are investigating the crash and plan to consult video footage recorded by the bus’s front-facing camera.

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Video evidence in motor vehicle injury cases can come from a number of sources. Dashboard cameras can be found on police cruisers, buses, taxicabs, and even some private vehicles. Surveillance videos from nearby stores may also catch useful footage. Cell phone videos are a more recent addition to the pool of video evidence. In some cases, a bystander may accidentally capture an accident while filming something else. More often, both people involved in an incident as well as bystanders may pull out their phones and capture the moments following a collision. Among the evidence the latter sort of videos can capture are statements that contradict what a defendant says at a later date.

Obtaining Video Footage in California Injury Cases
After we identify the existence of video evidence, the next step is obtaining the footage. Time is of the essence and too long of a delay may result in evidence being lost (ex. a store surveillance camera might have captured useful footage of a crash, but may only keep recordings for a set time). In some cases, particularly when the footage is in the hands of a third-party, all we have to do to obtain it is ask. However, often we need to file a subpoena or other legal paperwork in order to obtain footage. There are special processes for evidence in the hands of a government entity. Obtaining evidence properly is critical to ensuring admissibility.

In many cases, video evidence is in the hands of the other party (ex. a private bus company may have footage of the bus hitting a minivan and injuring the family inside). We use the formal discovery process to find out what evidence the other party (or parties) has, knows about, or intends to use in their case. This is a complex process and having an experienced attorney on your side makes a difference. Even the “self-help” information provided by the California judicial system notes, “Discovery is very complicated and often requires knowledge of evidence rules and other legal strategies. It is often necessary to have a lawyer help you with discovery.”

Using Videos and Other Evidence to Help the Injured
Attorney Brod has many years’ experience litigating personal injury cases in California’s state and federal courts. He understands how to obtain evidence, how to get it admitted into court, and how to use it to tell the story behind an injury or death. In some cases, evidence is admitted for some purposes but not others. This is a complex legal reality that requires an experienced legal practitioner, able to frame evidence in a manner that satisfies the court and persuades the jury to find in the plaintiff’s favor. Video evidence can also be extremely useful in settlement negotiations.

Working with video evidence is just one of the ways we help our clients recover critically needed and much deserved compensation. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of someone else’s actions (or inaction), call us. From our convenient personal injury law offices in San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Rosa we serve the full Northern California region and we take cases elsewhere in the state on a case-by-case basis.

See Related Blog Posts:
Understanding Injury Law: Preparing Your Case Begins with the Facts
Law 101: The Hearsay Rule

(Image by Frédéric Bisson)

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Our children are very precious to us, and we want them to enjoy their childhood, including such child-pleasing major events as Halloween. But while the kids love Halloween, the occasion can be fraught with danger, too, for trick-or-treaters out to have a good time on an evening that does not have the best record when it comes to traffic safety. As a parent, San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney Gregory J. Brod, has the same concerns that every parent has for their children to have a fun yet safe time on Halloween.

As it is, evening hours are already among the most deadly on the road, and if a driver impaired by alcohol or controlled substances is a factor, that can make a bad situation even worse. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the combination of drinking and increased pedestrian traffic on Halloween has been a particularly dangerous one. On Halloween of 2012 alone, 54 people died in crashes in the United States. Of those fatalities, 26, or nearly half, involved a collision with a drunken driver. By comparison, on an average day, one-third of all traffic fatalities involve a drunken driver. In addition, 28 percent of Halloween collision fatalities were pedestrians, whereas, on an average day, that figure stands at 14 percent. During the period from 2008 to 2012, 21 percent of pedestrian deaths on Halloween night involved a drunken driver.

And the perils that Halloween poses extends into the next day, as Daylight Savings Time ends, because of the earlier onset of evening hours. It cannot be underestimated how dangerous evening hours are for pedestrians relative to the remainder of a day: the majority of pedestrian fatalities occur when it is dark, including 24 percent from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and another 32 percent from 8 p.m. to midnight.

The NHTSA offers the following key tips for pedestrians, particularly young trick-or-treaters and their parents, to stay safe on Halloween:

  • All children out on Halloween night and under the age of 12 should have adult supervision.
  • Children should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
  • When possible, face paint is preferable to masks, because masks can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Decorate costumes with reflective tape and equip children with glow sticks or flashlights.
  • Always cross the street at corners, use traffic signals and crosswalks, and make sure to look left, right and left again when crossing; continue looking as you cross.

Continue Reading

Sometimes it takes a tragedy that really hits home in order to lead to meaningful change. As advocates for safer roads who believe that commitment includes the full-range of travelers, the Brod Law Firm team is always saddened to hear about pedestrian deaths. We believe our work as a San Francisco pedestrian death law firm not only compensates victims but deters future tragedies. Our hearts go out to those impacted by the recent tragedy and we hope the death of a City Hall employee inspires meaningful changes that will make the streets safer for everyone.

Veteran City Employee Hit and Killed by Motorized Cable Car While Walking Near City Hall
As CBS San Francisco reports, officials continue to investigate the collision between a motorized cable car and a pedestrian on Thursday October 23. It was approximately 11:30 A.M. when the cable car struck 68 year-old Priscila “Precy” Moreto in a crosswalk near San Francisco’s City Hall, by the intersection of Polk and McAllister streets. Moreto, an accountant and longtime employee of the City Controller’s Office, was taken to the hospital in critical condition and died as a result of her injuries.

Investigators say it is unclear why the cable car’s driver did not see Moreto. The vehicle, which was operating as a tour bus, is owned by Classic Cable Car Charter. Managing Partner Bob Salmon told reporters that he believes there was a separate tour guide and that the driver was not serving as the tour’s narrator, but he could not confirm that with full certainty. Notably, it is legal for tour bus drivers to wear headsets and narrate while driving. Police report that something distracted the driver who said he did not see Moreto until she was underneath the vehicle’s wheels. Passengers had little to add, saying they were looking at City Hall at the time of impact.

City Responds to Tragedy, Calls for Safety Measures
pedkilled.jpgMayor Ed Lee referred to the incident as tragic, adding that it “reminds us that we all have a shared responsibility to protect and care for one another on our busy streets.” He also called it an example of the potential dangers on city streets and urged voters to pass Proposition A. Lee said that the measure calls for a $500 million transportation bond with $300 million focused on pedestrian safety including added signs and signals. A signal is due to be installed next year at the crosswalk where the death occurred. Supervisor Scott Weiner also called for increased traffic enforcement to encourage all road users to be on the lookout and navigate the city with care.

Our Work and Our Goals as a Wrongful Death Law Firm
When we are brought in to represent the grieving family in a wrongful death case, we typically begin by conducting a thorough investigation into the events. We gather as much evidence as we can as quickly as we can to avoid evidence being lost or memories beginning to fade. From the facts, we consider all possible legal claims and all potential defendants. We cannot say what claims are appropriate in the recent pedestrian fatality without all the facts, but a similar scenario might lead us to consider potential claims against the driver individually, the tour company, or even the City.

Our primary goal as a Northern California wrongful death law firm is to ensure our client(s) are compensated for their loss (see California Jury Instruction 3921 for details on damages in wrongful death cases involving adults). Prevention is often another goal in our practice. Many of our clients express a desire to help prevent others from suffering a similar loss, a goal that can help give meaning to their loved one’s passing. We hope the loss of an employee helps push the City to make safety a top priority and allow a public servant to continue to serve the City even after her passing.

See Related Blog Posts:
Government Immunity & Injury Law
Older Pedestrians: Accident Statistics & Legal Rights

(Image by Joe Shlabotnik)

San Francisco is consistently listed as one of America’s most walkable cities (see e.g., CBS article ranking San Francisco #4 in June 2014). Walkability attracts both residents and tourists to our region. Pedestrian accidents are one of the biggest threats to walkability. Older pedestrians in particular deserve extra deference from drivers. Walking can keep aging bodies healthy and choosing two feet over four wheels might be safer for some. Our San Francisco pedestrian accident law firm represents injured elderly pedestrians and families who have lost an older relative in these terrible crashes.

Older Pedestrian Killed in San Francisco
Early Tuesday morning, a man in his 70s was hit and killed near the intersection of Sloat Boulevard and 43rd Avenue. ABC7 reported that the accident occurred just before 7 A.M., approximately one-quarter mile from the Zoo. Police believe the man, who lived on Sloat Blvd., was taking his morning walk. The driver was going west on Sloat, travelling the speed limit towards the ocean, when the pedestrian began crossing. Police say the pedestrian crossed mid-block and was not in the crosswalk. Light may have been a factor, daylight was breaking and fog keeps the beach area darker longer. However, the area is generally well-lit and accidents there are not common. At the time of the article, the driver was cooperating.

Statistics on Older Pedestrians
In June 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) published a report reviewing safety research on pedestrians and bicyclists conducted from 1991 through 2007. By way of introduction, the report notes that 4,092 pedestrians were killed in 2009 and an estimated 59,000 pedestrians injured. The agency notes the figures include only traffic incidents and exclude those occurring on private property (e.g., parking lots, driveways, certain trails). Lower-severity injuries are often not reported to police and thus are also excluded.

oldfriendswalking.jpgNarrowing the focus to pedestrians ages 65 and older, the NHTSA reports that 2009 saw 775 deaths and approximately 5,000 injuries due to traffic events. In comparison, 996 older pedestrians died in traffic incidents in 2000. Notably, pedestrians 65 and older had a higher population-based fatality rate in 2009 than adults ages 21 to 54. Reviewing studies, the NHTSA found that, on a per capita basis, pedestrians 65 to 74 had a lower crash rate than any other age segment. However, the likelihood that a crash would lead to a pedestrian fatality increased steadily with pedestrian age, with the 75 and older segment having a fatality rate of 25%.

The studies revealed some interesting facts about the nature of accidents involving older pedestrians. For the 65+ group, 64% of the pedestrian deaths in 2009 involved non-intersection locations versus 78% for other pedestrians. Older pedestrians were involved in more fatal crashes in the fall and winter than in spring and summer. Those age 65+ were less likely than pedestrians in other age groups to be hit on the weekend. With the exception of young children, a higher portion of older pedestrian accidents occurred during daylight than other age groups.

Obtaining Justice for Older Pedestrians
Importantly, the law compensates victims for their injuries even if the same event might not cause as significant an injury to an “average” individual. Therefore, even if a younger pedestrian would not have been as severely injured, an older pedestrian hurt by a negligent driver can recover compensation for the injuries incurred. The same principle applies in a wrongful death case; the family of an older pedestrian killed in a car accident that is the driver’s fault can recover compensation regardless of whether the same accident would have killed a younger individual.

If you are an older individual and you were injured in a pedestrian crash in Northern California that was not your fault, or if an older relative was killed by a negligent driver while walking in our region, you deserve justice. Call to arrange a consultation with Gregory Brod, an experienced lawyer representing injured pedestrians in San Francisco and surrounding areas.

See Related Blog Posts:

San Mateo Collision Is Example of Perils for Pedestrians That Go Beyond Crosswalks
The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Rule in San Francisco Injury Lawsuits

(Image by Martin Fisch)

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As we have seen on these pages numerous times, the act of being a pedestrian is not an easy one, at least not on American streets. But as San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney Gregory J. Brod would point out, there are multiple perils that can prove dangerous for a pedestrian that go beyond our city streets and crosswalks. Indeed, as we saw on Wednesday morning in San Mateo in one of the more bizarre incidents, pedestrians can even run the risk of getting hurt when they are on the sidewalk.

The incident in question occurred at about 10:30 a.m. when, according to the San Jose Mercury News, a group of five teachers and 15 students from Hillsdale High School were walking on the 300 block of West Hillsdale Boulevard in San Mateo on a school field trip and one student teacher and three special needs teenage boys, ages 15, 16 and 18, were struck by a car that inexplicably veered onto the sidewalk.

The student teacher, a 28-year-old woman, suffered head trauma and broken bones. The three teenage students suffered minor injuries, including abrasions and lacerations. The four were about one block from their school when a car driving west on west Hillsdale by a 53-year-old man suddenly turned onto the sidewalk, striking the quartet.

According to San Mateo police, the driver was driving through the neighborhood west on Hillsdale Boulevard when he failed to follow a curve on the roadway, ended up on the sidewalk, and hit the teacher and trio of students as well as a lightpole. Police said that the motorist followed an erratic course not to miss a roadway hazard, and the crash does not appear to have been an intentional act.

The crash is still under investigation and police do not yet know what caused the motorist to take an errant course. Both the driver and the pedestrians were taken to area hospitals. The driver remained in police custody, but he has not yet been arrested on any specific charges. Police have also not indicated whether they believed that drugs or alcohol were a factor in the collision.

There are some sobering statistics on the perils that pedestrians face on the streets and sidewalks in the United States, including these from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • There were 4,280 pedestrians who died in traffic crashes in 2010, a 4 percent increase from the total reported in 2009.
  • In 2011, an estimated 69,000 pedestrians were injured on streets and sidewalks; 11,000 of those were children age 14 or younger, and males accounted for 65 percent of that total.
  • In 2009, 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States were suffered by people 65 or older.

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Earlier this week, we focused on school bus safety. However, the safety of students is too important to confine to one blog entry. We all know that drivers should pay extra attention and slow down when passing through school zones. Still, far too often, drivers choose shaving a few moments off their travel time over protecting our school children and teens. When school zone injuries or fatalities stem from a driver’s failure to value school zone safety, our San Francisco school injury attorney is ready to help.

SFPD Increases Safety Patrols As Students Return to School
This week, SF Weekly reported that the SFPD is stepping up efforts to target drivers who might endanger students as they return to school. Police are watching for speeders, drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians, and those who simply aren’t focused on the path before them. Notably, while 42% of San Francisco elementary students live within walking distance of their school, only a quarter actually walk because of safety worries.

School zone safety has been an on-going effort. Two years ago, San Francisco became the first California city to set 15mph speed limits for school zones citywide. More recently, the SFPD became one of the first city agencies to create a plan aimed at eliminating pedestrian deaths in the next ten years through the Vision Zero program. In the first half of 2014, SFPD wrote 61% more traffic citations than in the same timeframe last year before when the plan was in effect.

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In October 2010, The Early Show investigated school zone safety, prompted by two school zone crashes that each claimed a child’s life. These accidents were, as they quickly found, not isolated events. The Transportation Research Board reported 100 children die and 25,000 are injured each year when walking to and from school.

When Early Show reporters observed a Long Island, NY school zone, they found nearly every driver was speeding despite a clearly marked 20mph speed limit. Many of the observed drivers were travelling two or even three times the posted max, endangering student pedestrians and many others. The higher the speed, the longer it takes to stop. In a test, reporters found hitting the brakes at 20mph created a 23 foot stopping distance, 30mph led to a 41 foot braking distance, and 40mph travel left a 68 foot gap between stepping on the brake and coming to a stop. Adding to the danger, a crash at 30mph is eight times more likely to kill a pedestrian than one at 20mph.

School Zones & Distracted Drivers
In 2009, Safe Kids reported on another threat to school zone safety – distracted drivers in school zones. After observing more than 41,000 drivers in school zone areas, the study found that one in six drivers passing through active school zones was distracted. While cell phones were the top source of distraction, there were others including eating/drinking, reaching/looking behind, grooming, or even reading. Notably, drivers who weren’t wearing their seatbelts were 35% more likely to be distracted than their buckled in peers. Flashing lights appeared to reduce the rate of school-zone distraction and drivers in states with handheld electronics bans that include all ages were 13% less likely to drive distracted in school zones than those in states with no restrictions. Importantly, the study could only evaluate observable distractions (like talking on the phone) and not those invisible to the eye (like talking to a passenger).

Representing School Zone Accident Victims
Our children are our most important asset and educating them is one of the most important investments we can make in the future. Drivers should always be alert for children, especially in areas where they congregate. While we should teach our kids about street safety, children are less able to appreciate risk and anyone who has ever seen children at recess or at school dismissal knows they frequently dart into the road. Drivers must exercise the highest level of care when passing through school zones.

If a negligent or reckless driver caused a school zone accident that injured your child or ended a young life in Northern California, call our child injury law firm in San Francisco or at any of our area offices. We can help you recover damages on your child’s behalf, money that is especially critical when an injury will impact a child for a lifetime.

See Related Blog Posts:
Back to School Safety: School Bus Accidents & School Transportation Safety
School Zone Car Accident in Antioch Raises Major Safety Concerns

(Image by Al Muya)

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Notwithstanding San Francisco’s recent efforts to curb the number of incidents in which pedestrians have sustained injuries in collisions with motor vehicles, the city by the bay remains a perilous place for pedestrians. And San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney Gregory J. Brod found Thursday’s latest example of another pedestrian suffering injuries while crossing the street particularly troubling because it happened on a roadway that has already seen two other high-profile injuries that made the news this year.

A 20-year-old woman was crossing the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Yorba Street in the city’s Sunset district when, according to KTVU News, she was struck by a Honda CRV. The woman entered the crosswalk after pushing a button to activate several flashing beacons to alert motorists to stop, which several did, but the driver of the Honda CRV did not stop, noticed the woman too late and skidded into her. The impact between the car and the woman sent the latter spinning to the pavement, and she was transported to the hospital with moderate injuries.

One other pedestrian suffered more serious injuries and another one died at the same intersection, which has six lanes and a center island, earlier this year. In February, a 77-year-old man was struck and killed, and in that same month a teenage boy was hit and sustained head injuries. As in the case of Thursday’s incident, the man who was killed and the teenage boy had pushed a button that triggered the flashing beacon alert system prior to crossing the street.

The roadway conditions at Sunset Boulevard and Yorba Street – six lanes and no signal for several blocks that allow traffic to pick up speed – unfortunately, are conducive to pedestrian-motorist collisions, and dozens of people have been hit on Sunset Boulevard over the years. Indeed, the perilous conditions at the intersection are an example of why pedestrian-motorist collisions have been concentrated in a limited number of particularly dangerous intersections in San Francisco.
There are several troubling statistics that point to a definite profile for pedestrian-motorist collisions in San Francisco, including the following that were compiled by KQED:

  • Every year in San Francisco at least 800 people are injured in collisions with motor vehicles, and 100 are severely injured or killed;
  • Six percent of the streets in San Francisco account for 60 percent of all severe and fatal pedestrian injuries;
  • Fifty percent of all pedestrian fatalities involved a motorist who was driving at 40 mph or faster, whereas only 10 percent of fatalities involved a motorist who was driving at 25 mph or slower;
  • Sixty-four percent of drivers in pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions are found at fault, with 41 percent of that total failing to yield to the pedestrian;
  • Twenty-eight percent of all pedestrian injuries in a collision with a motor vehicle were preceded by the latter making a left turn; and
  • Seniors suffer fatal injuries at a rate five times greater than younger adults.

The city had been planning to install a stop light at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Yorba Street in 2016. However, in the wake of the fatality in February, those plans have been moved up by one year.
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