Older Pedestrians: Accident Statistics & Legal Rights

October 22, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

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)

San Mateo Collision Is Example of Perils for Pedestrians That Go Beyond Crosswalks

September 11, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

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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.

Continue reading "San Mateo Collision Is Example of Perils for Pedestrians That Go Beyond Crosswalks" »

Back to School Safety II - San Francisco Child Injury Attorney on School Zone Safety

August 22, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

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)

Pedestrian Injury in S.F.’s Sunset District Fits Pattern of Similar Incidents

May 9, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

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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.

Continue reading "Pedestrian Injury in S.F.’s Sunset District Fits Pattern of Similar Incidents" »

As Collisions with Cars Prove Relentless, Pedestrians Suffer Deadly Week

April 10, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

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Since Sunday, it has been a deadly week in the Bay Area for pedestrians who have been hit by motor vehicles, with fatalities in San Francisco, San Jose, Alameda and Sebastopol, and life-threatening injuries for a boy in San Francisco. The rash of deaths and severe injuries has several community advocates as well as San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney Gregory J. Brod hoping that the spate of bad news is not a trend that is sustained through the rest of the year and calling for measures to improve pedestrian safety.

Late Sunday night, a man was struck and killed on Van Ness and and Golden Gate avenues near City Hall in San Francisco. The death was the seventh recorded in San Francisco in 2014, in spite of the fact that the San Francisco Police Department has stepped up its issuing of traffic citations through the first three months of this year in an attempt to curb the uptick in pedestrian deaths in the city.

Wednesday was a particularly deadly day for pedestrians in the Bay Area, with one fatality in San Jose, another in Alameda and yet another in Sebastopol.

In San Jose on Wednesday, a man died after being struck on the East Capitol Expressway in an incident that the San Jose Police Department is investigating as a hit-and-run incident. According to KTVU News, Officers arrived on the scene to find the victim mortally wounded after the suspect vehicle struck him and fled the scene.

In Alameda on Wednesday, a woman died on Otis Drive in front of the South Shore Shopping Center while crossing the street after being stuck by a minivan. According to KTVU News, the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

In Sebastopol on Wednesday, a man taking a stroll on Healdsburg Avenue was struck while in a crosswalk by an automobile. According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the man died in the impact.

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And on Thursday in San Francisco’s Richmond district, a 3-year-old boy who was either walking or riding his bicycle in a crosswalk at Fulton Street just outside Golden Gate Park was struck by a light truck, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The boy, who was run over by the light truck and dragged several feet, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

2013 was a particularly deadly year for pedestrians in the Bay Area. In the region’s three largest cities, San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland, there were a total of 50 pedestrian deaths, including 26 in San Jose, 17 in San Francisco and seven in Oakland. Unfortunately, those figures dovetail with a trend that has been recorded nationwide: pedestrians have been one of the few groups of people using roadways who experienced an increase in fatalities in the United States in 2011 to 4,432, according to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Continue reading "As Collisions with Cars Prove Relentless, Pedestrians Suffer Deadly Week" »

S.F.’s Newly Announced Safety Measures Are Encouraging, but Pedestrians Still at Risk on City Streets

March 7, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

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The mayor and police chief of San Francisco unveiled on Thursday a program to improve pedestrian safety on the streets of the city by the bay, and the campaign could not come soon enough for those, including San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney Gregory J. Brod, who have been alarmed by the significant number of pedestrian fatalities and injuries there.

According to local CBS station KPIX 5, Mayor Ed Lee has pledged that the city would spend $17 million into redesigning intersections and streets, with the anticipation that the modification would lead to greater pedestrian safety. There have been four pedestrian deaths this year, 21 in all of 2013, and 120 over the last seven years in San Francisco. During that same seven-year period, there have been more than 5,600 collisions involving a pedestrian, most of them with a motor vehicle.

The gravity of the situation was not lost on Police Chief Greg Suhr, who said that the San Francisco Police Department would be cracking down on traffic violators, both drivers and pedestrians, by issuing citations at the five most dangerous intersections in each police district. And the police chief made an observation that drove home the seriousness of the problem.

“Year to date, we’ve had more people killed on the streets of San Francisco in vehicle collisions than we have by homicide,” Suhr said. “It’s a problem.”

A measure of how dangerous some intersections can be has been on grim display this year at Sunset Boulevard and Yorba Street, where on Feb. 3 a man crossing the street was killed after being struck by a car and where, just two weeks later, a teenager was seriously injured while crossing at the same intersection after being hit by an automobile. Most recently, a pedestrian was hit and seriously injured Thursday when a taxi struck him while he was attempting to cross Van Ness Avenue, another notoriously dangerous stretch of road in San Francisco.

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According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city’s WalkFirst program has compiled statistics and analyzed more than 2,000 crashes over a five-year period in the city. The program found that during that timeframe, there have been more than 100 fatal or severe injury accidents each year, with another 800 injury-producing collisions, each year in San Francisco. The study determined that just 6 percent of the city’s streets accounted for 60 percent of the severe and fatal injuries.

In an ominous prediction, an official with the Municipal Transportation Agency’s Livable Streets program said that the week after daylight-saving time should be more perilous for pedestrians because drivers tend to be a bit sleepy and due to the darker conditions.

Continue reading "S.F.’s Newly Announced Safety Measures Are Encouraging, but Pedestrians Still at Risk on City Streets" »

S.F.'s Van Ness Avenue’s Reputation for Peril Worsens as Another Pedestrian is Struck, Killed by Motor Vehicle

February 13, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

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When statistics suggest the evidence of a pattern, it is usually noteworthy enough for those interested in the subject matter to pay attention. But when the pattern involves a really life-and-death matter such as pedestrian safety, action as much as attention is required. And that, San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney Gregory J. Brod would point out, is what is called for in the city by the bay in the wake of yet another pedestrian death on Van Ness Avenue.

According to KTVU News, a 35-year-old man lost his life at about 12:55 a.m. Wednesday near Van Ness and Pacific avenues when a motorist slammed into the man, abandoned his vehicle and then walked away from the scene. The police pronounced the pedestrian who was struck by the automobile dead at the scene and officers took the motorist whose car had hit him into custody. The motorist was booked into jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident and on a misdemeanor warrant.

It is bad enough that the man who died Wednesday represented San Francisco’s fourth pedestrian fatality of 2014 — there were 21 pedestrian fatalities in the city in 2013, the most since 2007 — but perhaps just as troublesome is the fact that three of those four deaths occurred on Van Ness Avenue. In addition, there have been 84 accidents involving pedestrians on that street between 2008 and 2013. A major six-lane thoroughfare, Van Ness Avenue’s reputation as a dangerous street to cross is so notorious that some have dubbed it “Van Mess Avenue.”

While Van Ness Avenue is not the only dangerous street for pedestrians to cross in San Francisco — 19th Avenue, among others, has also earned a reputation as a deadly street to navigate — it certainly has been getting more than its share of bad press lately. And, since the street passes right by City Hall as well as some of the city’s cultural landmarks, it stands to reason that at least a few city officials have noticed the carnage.

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However, it seems as though official awareness of the tragic circumstances on Van Ness Avenue has not necessarily translated into a substantive solution to the problem, or at least a solution that is in the works. Some yet-to-be-adopted plans that have been floated include ladder-style painting of crosswalks that are more visible to motorists.

“The design process takes too long,” said San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner, commenting on the steps needed to make Van Ness Avenue and other streets safer for pedestrians. “The public process takes too long. Everything takes too long. And it’s just completely broken.”

Another plan that has been on the city’s drawing board since last September is to institute a rapid transit bus line down the center of Van Ness Avenue. That measure, traffic experts have said, would lessen congestion and make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street. Unfortunately, the express bus corridor is not slated to be completed for another four years.

Continue reading "S.F.'s Van Ness Avenue’s Reputation for Peril Worsens as Another Pedestrian is Struck, Killed by Motor Vehicle" »

The (Dangerous) Streets of San Francisco and the Role of the City in Pedestrian and Cyclist Injuries

February 10, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

The problem of pedestrian and cyclist accidents in San Francisco is a topic all-too-familiar to readers of this blog. As a San Francisco personal injury law firm, our team is always focused on the “Why?” This question is part of our client representation, but it is also part of our commitment to prevention. We want to make the fabled Streets of San Francisco safer for all travelers; a key piece of this effort is identifying common factors in previous accidents. We are particularly concerned when this examination leads to the conclusion that the city and dangerous roads may be partly to blame.

Statistics Point to High-Injury Corridors that See a Disproportionate Share of Serious Accidents
As noted in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, the city has spent time and directed funds toward the problem of pedestrian and cyclist accidents, but the threat continues and many suggest a failure to follow through with planed proposals is a key part of the problem. The spike in pedestrian deaths in late 2013 has continued into 2014, including the death of a pedestrian in the Parkside neighborhood last week. While driver behavior is obviously a major cause of dangerous accidents, statistic reveal that a mere 6 percent of San Francisco streets see a whopping 60 percent of auto collisions in which a pedestrian is killed or seriously hurt. Likewise, 5.2% of the city’s street miles can be deemed “high-injury corridors” since they see more than half of pedestrian injuries and deaths.

Officials and Interest Groups Point to Paralysis in Decisions, Actions
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City officials have earmarked tens of millions of dollars in recent years to re-engineer dangerous corridors, but projects lag and remain unfinished while death counts rise. Insiders say planned education and awareness initiatives will not work without physical street improvements and a commitment to enforce traffic laws. There have been some street improvements, such as Valencia’s widened sidewalks and designated bike lanes and the recently rolled-out traffic calming measures on Cesar Chavez Street. Still, many officials say the efforts are too slow and too few.

Supervisor Scott Wiener is one of these officials. In particular, he notes that a desire for consensus appears to paralyze San Francisco’s decision-makers, leading to a lag in implementation and a tendency for final efforts to be watered down. He adds that public opposition, such as concerns about lost parking spaces or traffic lanes lost to sidewalk-widening projects, can leave the city paralyzed and that it seems like every agency has a veto. Weiner says, “We are a democracy, we have to make decisions and move forward, even if people are scared."

Leaders from interest groups, such as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (Attorney Brod is a member) and Walk San Francisco, praise positive changes in the way city leaders view bicycling and walking and add that they appreciate the added resources directed towards those areas. Still, they say the pace of change is frustratingly slow, citing a plan to add bike lanes to two blocks of Polk Street that has sat on the city’s “to do” list for a decade (officials say it will be done by May). Like Weiner, they point to a tendency to “over-process” and “let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

To be fair in our coverage, the frustration is not universal. Supervisor Jane Kim, who oversees two areas that see a large share of serious collisions, applauds the city for applying creative solutions to its problems. She cites specific projects including plans for Second Street as responsive to the problem of pedestrian- and cyclist-involved collisions.

Holding the City and City Agencies Responsible for Dangerous Streets
We are glad some officials see improvements, but we share the opinion that changes are too few and too slow to come to fruition. Under some scenarios, the refusal to respond to known dangers may open the city and/or its agencies to significant liability. When we represent the injured and the grieving, we look to all parties responsible for the tragedy. This can, and should, include municipal actors. As a San Francisco municipal liability lawyer, Attorney Brod understands the very complex rules and procedures that govern such claims. Of course, our practice extends to injury claims against San Jose, Oakland, Santa Rosa, and any other California locality (or even the state itself). Call to learn more and schedule a free consultation focused on your unique case.

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Chronicle Highlights Dangerous Roadway in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill Neighborhood

(Photo by Prayitno Photography)

Hit-and-Run in Hercules All the More Shocking Due to Film Footage

January 24, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

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Collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians are often unnerving enough on their own, but when the pedestrian is injured by a hit-and-run motorist, the incident suddenly becomes much more disturbing — and criminal — in nature. San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney Gregory J. Brod would point out that, unfortunately for the victim, a hit-and-run motorist is literally driving off with some key evidence. In a world that is increasingly filmed, though, sometimes the motorist’s actions are caught on camera.

That, apparently, is what happened in Hercules early on the morning of Jan. 17, when, according to KTVU News, a surveillance video from a passing bus caught a sport utility vehicle strike a man who was trying to complete his passage in a crosswalk. But what the SUV’s motorist did after his vehicle collided with the 70-year-old victim was truly shocking.

“He then stopped his vehicle, got out, and walked over to the victim,” said Hercules Police Department spokeswoman Connie van Putten. “And then when somebody asked him if the victim was OK, he said ‘well, he’s breathing,’ then got back in his car, backed up, drove around the victim and left.”

The police recently released the surveillance video from the bus, whose driver witnessed the hit-and-run incident and helped to alert the police. According to the police, the motorist remained at the site of the collision less than one minute before ditching the scene, leaving a stunned witness to call for help.

The victim, who was crossing the street to catch the bus, hit his head after being struck by the SUV, which lunged forward from a complete stop to hit him. The victim was hospitalized for a few days but is now recovering at home.

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In taking off from the scene, the motorist was dashing away with some valuable evidence, namely, his vehicle, which could very well have emerged from the collision with telling front-end damage. But fortunately in this case, the motorist did leave behind a valuable piece of evidence in the form of the film image of him striking the pedestrian. And that video left little doubt for the police to conclude that this hit-and-run accident was an easy call to make.

“They (motorists) have a bump and think maybe they hit a rock or an animal or something,” said van Patten. “They don’t realize they had an accident, but in this case, it was very clear he did hit a person.”

The availability of a video of the incident will help to identify and track the suspect in the hit-and-run collision, who, if caught, faces felony charges. It also serves as a reminder that anyone who has been injured in a collision with a motor vehicle should, if at all possible, take as many photographs and/or video of the scene of the incident, or, even better, of the incident itself.

Continue reading "Hit-and-Run in Hercules All the More Shocking Due to Film Footage" »

With Numbers in, 2013 Goes Down as Deadly Year for Pedestrians in San Francisco

January 16, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

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When there is a collision between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, the encounter is almost always a no-contest situation — the pedestrian usually emerges as the decided loser from the collision. Unfortunately, San Francisco pedestrians were on the wrong and fatal end of an encounter with a motor vehicle 21 times in 2013, the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in the city since 2007. And San Francisco personal injury attorney Gregory J. Brod is particularly troubled that the city set a six-year high for pedestrian fatalities.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the unenviable numbers for pedestrian fatalities in San Francisco were registered through a deadly December, when six people died, including two on New Year’s Eve alone. But while the city did not surpass the 24 deaths recorded in 2007, the number of collisions between pedestrians and motor vehicles has been on an upward trajectory every year since 2009, when there were 734 collisions, to 2012 when there were 948 such collisions. The number of collisions for last year is not yet available.

There have been some notable cofactors involved with pedestrian fatalities or injuries in San Francisco, including the following:

  • The higher a motor vehicle’s speed, the more likely the pedestrian it strikes will die, as 90 percent die when the vehicle is traveling at 55 mph, 50 percent die at 40 mph, and 10 percent die at 25 mph
  • The failure of a motorist to yield to a pedestrian is cited as the cause of more than 40 percent of pedestrian collisions
  • Of those pedestrians who are injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, 70 percent sustained their injuries in an intersection
  • Approximately one-fourth of pedestrians injured are struck by motor vehicles making a left turn; 10 percent are injured by drivers making a right turn
  • Sixty percent of all severe injuries and fatalities occurred on just 6 percent of San Francisco’s total miles of streets

A more dangerous environment for pedestrians in San Francisco has become evident even as the city has long had a reputation for being one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the nation. Indeed, city officials have long vowed to address pedestrian safety, and successive mayors have made a reduction in the number of severe injuries and fatalities a municipal priority.

Interestingly enough, when it came to assessing fault in fatal collisions between motorists and pedestrians in 2013, the San Francisco Police Department put the blame on the motorist in 14 of the 21 cases and determined that the pedestrian was at fault in seven of the cases.

Continue reading "With Numbers in, 2013 Goes Down as Deadly Year for Pedestrians in San Francisco" »

Pedestrian Safety Tips Following Series of Fatal Pedestrian Accidents

January 7, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

Pedestrian safety is often on our minds as a leading San Francisco personal injury law firm. Sadly, it has also been on the minds of many in our region lately, with multiple pedestrian fatalities and pedestrian injuries marking the end of 2013 and the early days of 2014. We are proud to represent the wrongfully injured, but we are even prouder of our commitment to prevention and we felt this was an important time to share some pedestrian safety tips.

Pedestrian Accidents Mark End of 2013 and Start of 2014
pedsign2.jpgWe recently wrote about the death of an 11 year-old boy who succumbed to injuries incurred in a pedestrian accident in Sacramento on December 22. Unfortunately, the threat to pedestrians in our region continued through the late days of 2013 and the opening week of 2014, as documented by a report in last week’s Oakland Tribune. The final day of 2013 saw two pedestrian fatalities in two separate accidents. One of the incidents claimed the life of a 6 year-old girl and led to the driver being charged with both failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and vehicular manslaughter involving gross negligence. The trend continued into 2014 and, on January 2 at approximately 5 P.M., police were called to the intersection of Bush and Leavenworth Streets after a car hit a pedestrian. The victim, described by officers as a man in his 20s, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital in serious condition with life-threatening injuries. Police are investigating and talking to the driver, who remained at the scene.

Prevention: Keeping Pedestrians Safe
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association provides research-backed advice on the prevention of pedestrian accidents, including tips aimed at both individuals and communities. Key elements of the NHTSA guidance include:
For Drivers – Always stay alert for pedestrians, paying particular attention in lower visibility conditions. Two special circumstances demanding extra vigilance include passing through crosswalks and backing up (children are especially likely to be victims of back-up pedestrian accidents).
For Pedestrians – Follow traffic rules, look before crossing streets, and generally try to behave in a predictable manner so that drivers can anticipate your likely actions. Walk facing traffic and, while never assuming a driver can see you, try to make eye contact with approaching drivers. Stay alert to traffic and avoid distractions such as mobile communications equipment and music devices.
For Parents & Others interested in child safety – Teach children pedestrian safety rules at an early age and model good behavior. Identify the safest walking routes in your area.
For States and Communities – Develop partnerships with law enforcement, schools, and public health/safety groups to educate the public on pedestrian safety. Enforce pedestrian safety laws, including high-visibility campaigns focused on drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians. Identify trouble spots and consult programs such as Safe Routes http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/ for further advice on improving pedestrian safety in your community.

Representation: Advocating for Injured Pedestrians & Grieving Families
We hope that this series of pedestrian accidents proves an isolated event and that these tips help prevent future tragedies. When a negligent driver causes a pedestrian accident in Northern California, we can help the injured pedestrian or grieving family recover critically needed monetary compensation. Call to arrange a free consultation with our experienced accident attorney.

Update: After this was written, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on yet another pedestrian fatality in our region.

See Related Blog Posts:
Young Sacramento Pedestrian Dies in Crosswalk Crash

S.F. Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Fatality Latest in Disturbing National Trend

(Photo by Peter Blanchard)

Young Sacramento Pedestrian Dies in Crosswalk Crash

December 29, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

When it comes to cars versus pedestrians, it will never be a fair fight. A typical car weighs around 4,000 pounds while an average American male weighs in around 195lbs. Cars can easily top 100 miles per hours while the very fastest a person has been able to run (and for not nearly as long) is 27mph. When it is a car versus a pedestrian, the car is likely to “win” – an equation that makes pedestrian safety rules an important part of traffic safety and one of the reasons we believe so strongly in our work as a Sacramento pedestrian accident law firm. Pedestrian safety

Boy Hit By Two Cars Succumbs to Injuries
December 2013 turned tragic for a Sacramento family when, as reported by The Sacramento Bee, an 11 year old boy died after being hit by two vehicles on Bruceville Road. On Monday December 22 at 5:23 P.M., Moses Galang and another boy were running south on Bruceville when they passed through the crosswalk at the intersection with Cosumnes River Boulevard. While his companion passed safely, Galang was hit by two vehicles in a row. While the first vehicle stopped, the second did not. The latter vehicle is described as a white or light-colored full-sized van, believed to be a Ford or Chevy from the late 1970s or early 1980s. Moses was taken for treatment but succumbed to his injuries on Thursday morning.

Crosswalks & Safety: Surprising Study Results
pedkilled.jpg Crosswalks are considered a key element in pedestrian safety plans, but they don’t always have the life-saving effect one would expect. In 2005, the Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”) conducted a study comparing marked and unmarked crosswalks. The examination focused on “uncontrolled locations” meaning there was neither a traffic signal nor a stop sign at the location. Comparing 1,000 marked crosswalks with 1,000 unmarked comparison sites, the FHWA found no significant difference in the rate of pedestrian crashes on two-lane roads in the two groups. Stated another way, without the addition of other safety devices, marked crosswalks made no apparent impact on pedestrian safety on the two-lane spans. The result held the same or multilane roads that saw less than 12,000 vehicles passing through per day. Notably, however, on multi-lane roads with a traffic volume exceeding 12,000 daily vehicles, there was a HIGHER pedestrian accident rate at crosswalk locations than was observed at the unmarked comparison sites. The increase grew to become significantly higher when there was also a raised median present on both the marked and unmarked roads.

Why? It is hard to say exactly but the authors noted that the crosswalk might have been installed at locations where there was already a higher-than-average crash rate, even though the FHWA tried to use comparable locations in the two samples. It is also possible that more pedestrians opted to cross at the crosswalk locations than other comparable sites, meaning the crosswalks were more heavily travelled than other comparable spots. This may be especially true with respect to both children and the elderly, two groups that the study noted are more likely than the average pedestrian to be crash victims at crosswalk locations. Pedestrians may also take a bit less car when crossing in a crosswalk (i.e. spend less time checking for oncoming vehicles).

Drivers: The Ultimate Safety Tool, The Ultimate Safety Threat
Of course, the crosswalk study does not mean pedestrian safety efforts are fruitless. Rather, it means we need to work on tying efforts to results. Crosswalks had better safety records when coupled with safety islands, traffic signals (for automobile and/or pedestrian traffic), extra lighting, and other traffic-calming measures. Driver education is also a vital component of pedestrian safety. No matter what safety devices are in place, they can only be effective when drivers are responsible and paying attention to both vehicles and pedestrians. Drivers themselves are the ultimate safety device and also the ultimate safety threat. Of course, pedestrians should also exercise due care, even at locations that appear pedestrian-friendly.

Attorney Greg Brod, an experienced Sacramento accident attorney, represents injured pedestrians and grieving families throughout Northern California. Call to arrange a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
Protecting Older Pedestrians

S.F. Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Fatality Latest in Disturbing National Trend

(Photo by Joe Shlabotnik)

S.F. Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Fatality Latest in Disturbing National Trend

December 6, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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When a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian it’s not hard to figure out which side is more likely to come out on the losing end with respect to injuries. But what makes an encounter between a motorist and a pedestrian even more problematic for the latter is when the motor vehicle collides with a person and then leaves the scene. Sadly, the deadly problem of hit-and-run collisions claimed another life on the streets of San Francisco on Thursday, a deadly turn of events that Bay Area pedestrian accident attorney Gregory J. Brod has seen all too often and which, unfortunately, is a growing menace across the country as well as in San Francisco.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Kurt Dalen, a 30-year-old artist and graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, was crossing Valencia Street near Clinton Park at 2:45 a.m. Thursday when he was hit by a dark, four-door sedan that then fled the scene. Dalen, whose figurative paintings were greatly inspired by the surrounding Mission district, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.

A San Francisco Police Department probe has been launched, and department investigators are searching for leads into the death of Dalen. But at this point the SFPD can neither detail exactly how Dalen was hit nor identify the driver who hit him or his whereabouts.

The tragic death of yet another pedestrian struck by a hit-and-run motor vehicle in San Francisco and the Bay Area is unsettling news on its own. However, the latest hit-and-run fatality in this region has added another statistic to the troubling upward trend nationwide of hit-and-run collisions.

The most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety make the disturbing growth in hit-and-run collisions all too clear, including these statistics:

  • The number of fatal hit-and-run collisions have steadily gone up from 1,274 in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011
  • Hit-and-run fatalities increased by 13.7 percent over the three-year period from 2009 to 2011 even as traffic deaths fell overall by 4.5 percent during the same period
  • One in five of all pedestrian fatalities are due to hit-and-run collisions
  • Sixty percent of all hit-and-run collisions claim pedestrians as victims

In response to this growing deadly trend, many states have enacted tougher laws to punish drivers involved in hit-and-run crashes, but the punitive measures are often cold comfort for the victims left trying to recover from such encounters or, worse yet, don’t live to tell the tale of what happened to them.

Continue reading "S.F. Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Fatality Latest in Disturbing National Trend" »

Black Friday Caps Off Grim Week for Pedestrians Hit by Motorists in Bay Area

November 29, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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Holiday weeks are supposed to be times when people can, among other things, relax and enjoy the company of their family and friends. Thanksgiving probably is the iconic holiday for such pleasant pursuits, but as Bay Area personal injury attorney Gregory J. Brod has pointed out, holiday weeks can also be a deadly time for people on our roadways. In that respect, sadly, this Thanksgiving week has been notable for several tragic deaths of pedestrians struck by motorists on Bay Area streets and highways.

During the week from Friday, Nov. 22 through Friday, Nov. 29, it has been particularly perilous for pedestrians to cross the streets of San Jose. According to ABC7 News, there were three separate roadway incidents involving pedestrian fatalities in the Bay Area’s largest city since the holiday week commenced last weekend, and all tragic deaths occurred within a 48-hour time span.

Toddler Killed While Riding in Stroller
The first of the pedestrian fatalities was an especially heart-breaking one Sunday afternoon, as a 3-year-old boy riding in a stroller his mother was pushing at the intersection of Vine and Oak and was struck and killed by a motorist making a left turn. Two other pedestrians in the group were also hit while crossing the street, but they suffered minor injuries and were released from the hospital Sunday.

According to KTVU News, the boy was killed while his mother was taking him to a nearby playground from an intersection where neighbors have complained that a lack of a left-turn signal has set up a dangerous zone for pedestrians and motorists to cross paths. Now, at that same intersection, a makeshift memorial of candles and flowers has been created for the toddler.

On Sunday night, a ninth-grade student at James Lick High School in East San Jose was struck and killed by a car after she left her boyfriend’s house and attempted to cross White Road. The 14-year-old girl was taken to the hospital, where she later died, and her classmates were left mourning the teen as the school closed for Thanksgiving vacation.

San Jose Reaches Unenviable Milestone
On Monday just before 11 p.m., a 50-year-old woman was attempting to cross Monterey Road in San Jose when she was struck and killed by a motorist. With that victim’s passing, the 24th pedestrian death in San Jose this year, the city’s pedestrian fatalities hit an eight-year high.

On Friday, a man was pronounced dead on Interstate 80 after his body was found on a stretch of the highway west of Solano Avenue in Richmond at around 12:25 a.m., according to KTVU News. The California Highway Patrol said that the 32-year-old man was apparently hit and killed by a car after he got out of his own disabled automobile that was involved in a solo-vehicle crash and tried to walk to the highway's right shoulder. Witnesses told the CHP that the man was struck several times by other vehicles that did not stop.

Finally, on Friday at about 5:30 a.m., a woman crossing Interstate 80 near 7th Street in San Francisco was struck and killed by an eastbound truck, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The woman was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where she died from her injuries. Police said that it was not clear what the pedestrian was doing on the freeway.

Continue reading "Black Friday Caps Off Grim Week for Pedestrians Hit by Motorists in Bay Area" »

National School Bus Safety Week

October 30, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Our children are our nation’s most precious natural resource and they can’t achieve without an education. Safety in our schools has been a hot topic of late, with recent tragedies focusing the discussion on school violence. School safety is, however, a much broader issue and it begins even before children cross the threshold of the school building. School bus safety, a topic that our San Francisco school injury law firm believes receives far too little attention, requires the cooperation of many groups and individuals. School bus drivers, vehicle manufacturers, operating companies, school boards, bus riders, and all the drivers who share the road with school-related vehicles all play a role in ensuring children are safe while travelling to and from school.

CHP Joins in National School Bus Safety Week
schoolbus.jpg Last week, schools in California and nationwide observed School Bus Safety Week. California Highway Patrol (“CHP”) announced its involvement in a press release, stating a desire to bring awareness to the issue of safe transportation for students statewide. According to the CHP, nearly one million students ride on California’s school buses every day, cared for by more than 25,000 certified bus drivers. School bus drivers undergo a rigorous certification process that include 40 hours of training, background clearance, drug testing, and physical examinations. Drivers are also required to hold a current first aid and medical card. Buses also undergo an annual inspection.

The press release also recognizes the role other drivers play in ensuring school bus safety, with an emphasis on obeying laws related to school bus lights (i.e. stopping when the bus displays flashing red lights indicating the bus is in the process of loading/unloading passengers). The CHP cites studies finding that most dangerous portion of any school bus trip is when students are boarding or disembarking the bus. CHP Commissioner Farrow urged motorists to use caution around a stopped school bus at to avoid letting distractions compromise the safety of California’s schoolchildren.

School Bus Safety Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) studies school-related travel and, in June 2013, released a fact sheet focused on crashes involving school transportation vehicles (school buses and other vehicles transporting students to school or school activities) from 2002 through 2011. During that time, there were 1,221 fatal accidents involving school transportation vehicles. These incidents claimed 1,351 lives. The majority of those killed were occupants of other vehicles (72%). Bus occupants accounted for 7% of the fatalities, including 41 drivers and 54 passengers. The remaining 21% of fatalities involved non-occupants, such as pedestrians or bicyclists. In the ten year span, a total of 123 school-age pedestrians were killed in crashes involving school transportation vehicle. On average, 9 children were struck and killed by school transport vehicles each year while 4 children died due to being hit by another vehicle involved in a collision that included a school transit vehicle. The NHTSA fact sheet did not include statistics on injuries that occurred during collisions involving school buses and related vehicles.

California School Bus Safety Lawyer
School bus accidents represent only a fraction of the collisions on California’s roadways. However, they are still a very real problem with very real victims. If your child was hurt or, and we hate to even write the word, killed in a school bus crash in our region (or if you were injured as a non-occupant in a similar accident), please call to schedule a free consultation with our San Francisco child injury lawyer. We promise to handle your case with sensitivity and work with you to get the compensation you and your family deserve.

See Related Blog Posts:
Lawsuit Seeks to Hold School Liable for Oakland Sexual Abuse Case Involving 14 Year-Old Child

Youth Sports-Related Injuries by the Numbers: a Hefty, Growing Toll


(Photo by John Siebert)

Be Aware of Halloween Dangers

October 29, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

For many, fright is part of the fun on Halloween. However, the best fear is controlled; a scare that comes while knowing one is ultimately safe and secure. Attention to Halloween safety is crucial to ensuring that the thrills and chills don’t turn into true danger. There are many elements to a safe October 31st and this post will focus on only two of the many safety issues: the threat of burn injuries and the danger to pedestrians on Halloween. Both of these topics are of great concern to our San Francisco injury attorney and we encourage victims of either threat to call our firm if someone else’s negligence contributed to your injury.

Halloween Burn Injuries
jacko.jpgBurn injuries are one of the biggest threats to a safe Halloween celebration. Despite a federal law requiring costumes meet flame-resistance standards, flammable costumes remain a real threat. ABC News references 16 costume-related burn injuries since 1980, including a twelve year old who died after a brush with a lit pumpkin caused her costume to ignite. These numbers likely fail to account for fires blamed on other causes, including fires started by decorative items. Halloween is, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, one of the top five days for fires sparked by candles in the U.S. Preventing fires and burns requires vigilance. We also believe that using product liability laws to hold companies liable for unsafe products will also help prevent future burn injuries.

Pedestrian Dangers Lurking on October 31st
Pedestrian safety is important every day, but particularly on Halloween. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analyzed data from 1997 to 2006 and concluded October 31st was the second deadliest day for pedestrians nationwide. Another study, conducted by State Farm and researcher Bert Sperling focused on data from 1990 to 2010, concluded Halloween was actually the most deadly day for young pedestrians (under age 18). During the time frame, 115 child pedestrians died on October 31st for an average of 5.5 deaths each Halloween, more than twice the average daily rate of 2.6 child pedestrian fatalities a day. 25% of pedestrian deaths occurred between 6 and 7 P.M., the day’s riskiest hour. Most accidents (70%) occurred mid-block (i.e. outside of a crosswalk or intersection). Drivers between 15 and 25 years old were behind the wheel for more of these crashes (70%) than any other age group. As for the pedestrians, ages 12 to 15 were most at risk for a fatal crash (32% of victims), followed by 5 to 8 year olds (23%).

Keeping pedestrians safe on Halloween, like other days, requires the commitment of drivers and pedestrians alike. It is a commitment that is especially important on an evening when children are out later than normal, walking around neighborhoods (or, more likely, running !).

Wishing You a Safe Halloween
Staying safe on Halloween requires following a few basic rules: 1) Supervise children appropriately; 2) Ensure children can see and be seen; 3) Walk with care, even if you hear that house down the block is handing out full-size candy bars (we’d still want to run!). If a dangerous product, negligent driver, or otherwise careless person or company turns the Halloween scares all-too-real, we can help. Our San Francisco personal injury law firm wishes you a happy and safe Halloween. May the only danger be a bit of a bellyache from one sweet too many!

See Related Blog Posts:
Northern California Injury Law Firm’s Tips for Staying Safe on Halloween

Holiday Accidents in Oakland and Northern California


(Photo by Randy Robertson)

Protecting Older Pedestrians

September 29, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Living in a city, particularly a temperate one, means that walking can be a realistic option for day-to-day errands and social engagements. Walking also helps individuals improve and maintain their personal health. This is particularly true for older pedestrians who can benefit from the low-impact cardiovascular exercise. Unfortunately, pedestrians also face the threat of accidents and this risk is particularly high for older pedestrians whose bodies may also make them more vulnerable to serious injury or death. When these accidents are the result of driver negligence, our Oakland pedestrian injury law firm can help.

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Seventy-One Year Old Pedestrian Hit and Killed in Oakland’s Chinatown
Last week, according to an article in the Oakland Tribune, an elderly pedestrian was hit and killed in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood. Police believe that 71 year old Quinoon Li was on her way to do some shopping on the morning of Wednesday September 25. She was crossing Alice Street, heading south in the crosswalk at the intersection with Ninth Street, when she was hit by a Toyota pickup truck. The vehicle was driven by an unidentified 44 year-old man from San Lorenzo who told police he had been blinded by the sun while travelling east on Ninth Street and did not see Li. Responders took Li to Highland Hospital where she died later that morning. Police released the driver pending further investigation.

NHTSA Focuses on Drivers Age Sixty-Five and Older
One of the Traffic Safety Facts reports authored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) focuses on individuals ages 65 and older. The most recent report, released in April 2013 and focusing on data from 2011, notes that this group comprised 13% of the total U.S. population in that year. The data report looks at a range of motor vehicle accident data. Overall, older individuals comprised 17% of all traffic fatalities and 8% of traffic injury victims.

Table One breaks down the accident statistics and notes that 845 of the 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011 involved people over age 65. This is 19.1% of the total, a disproportionate figure given the 13% population share. Breaking this statistic down by gender, the older pedestrian fatalities included 522 men (16.9% of all male pedestrian deaths) and 323 women (24% of all female pedestrian deaths). All of these figures represent a lower proportion of total fatalities than were seen in 2002.

Breaking Down the Statistics and Learning From the Details
The NHTSA study included a number of interesting details. For non-seniors, 83% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in non-intersection locations while 69% of older pedestrian fatalities occurred outside of intersections. While still a majority, this distinction means older people are more likely than other individuals to be killed in an intersection. This fact may be useful in shaping safety programs, including educating drivers on watching for older people at intersections and programming signals to allow sufficient time for a senior to cross.

Further, of all the age groups studied (under 16, 16-20, 21-34, 35-54, 55-64), the 65 and older group was the least likely to have had a BAC of .08 or higher at the time they suffered a fatal pedestrian accident. Although this is only one element, it suggests that the reason elderly pedestrians are hit may be different than the reasons younger pedestrians are killed (i.e. because they stumble into the roadway from the sidewalk or, perhaps in the younger groups, play chicken with oncoming traffic). Once again, age-related differences are key to developing safety protocol.

Pedestrian Advocate Lawyer Committed to Helping, Calling on Others to Join
Just as keeping the highways safe requires the effort of every driver, keeping older pedestrians safe take a community-wide efforts. Drivers need to slow down, be aware, and remember that some people may require more time to make a crossing or may be unsteady walking on the shoulder. Passersby need to recall the lessons they used to teach at Boy Scouts and offer to help if it appears someone may have difficulty making a crossing.

We believe our work as a law firm for Panama City pedestrians is also part of this effort. We remind people that there are consequences to their actions and make sure a name and a face makes a death more real. We also help injured pedestrians and the families of those that don’t make it get the compensation to make it through these trying times. Who knows, maybe the damage award will help a victim’s granddaughter to get grief counseling that allows her to return to school, become an engineer, and create a traffic safety device that none of us can even dream us yet.

See Related Blog Posts:
San Jose Pedestrian Accident Claims Life of 81 Year-Old Woman

Vallejo Accident Reminds Residents of the Importance of Exercising Caution as Drivers Age

(Photo by Joe Shlabotnik)

Hit-and-Run Fatality in S.F. Park Yet Another Shocking Personal Injury Incident

September 6, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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Ask most people to offer a list of activities they would associate with leisure and it’s safe to say that an outing to one’s local park facilities, especially with family or friends, would rank among the likely candidates. It’s therefore hard to imagine that a relaxing day in the park would turn out to be the nightmare that took the life of a Daly City mother spending time with her baby and dog in San Francisco’s Holly Park on Thursday, and one that triggered not only criminal charges but also civil law questions of liability, negligence and wrongful death.

City Vehicle at Center of Tragedy
As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Christine Svanemyr, 35, her baby girl, Isa Amalie, and the family dog were spending the afternoon lying on the lawn at Holly Park in the Bernal Heights neighborhood when a Recreation and Park Department truck ran her over and killed her shortly after 2 p.m. Svanemyr’s daughter and dog were unharmed in the incident, according to the San Francisco Police Department, and in addition to Isa Amalie, she leaves her husband, Vegar Svanemyr.

The driver of the Recreation and Park vehicle, Thomas Burnowski, 57, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run. It’s not clear whether Burnowski was the gardener several neighborhood residents recall driving recklessly at the park, but the SFPD said an investigation into Svanemyr’s death is continuing. The Recreation and Park Department has placed Burnowski on administrative leave without pay pending the investigation.

A spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department stated that the department’s vehicle policy is that employees are not allowed to drive on park pathways, sidewalks, closed roads or the actual park area “merely for convenience purposes.”
“If work requirements necessitate operating a city vehicle on a park-scape or other surface not designed for vehicle operation, utilize a staff person outside the vehicle to serve as a safety watch or otherwise guide vehicle movement,” the Recreation and Park Department policy reads.

Driver Faces Multiple Felony Charges
Whether Burnowski violated Recreation and Park Department policy while driving his vehicle on park land is definitely one issue to consider, but one thing is certain, according to the SFPD: the parks department employee took off from Holly Park after hitting Svanemyr and was detained several blocks away and then arrested — and both manslaughter and hit-and-run is are serious felonies.

Unfortunately, Svanemyr is far from the only American to die as a result of a motor vehicle striking a pedestrian or other nonmotorist, as 5,307 such people died in the United States in 2011, according to the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration. The NTHSA figure in that category has been creeping up since 2009 after generally falling off since the mid-1970s. The majority of pedestrian deaths as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle in an urban area in 2011 occurred on roads with speed limits or 40 mph or less, according to the NTHSA.

Continue reading "Hit-and-Run Fatality in S.F. Park Yet Another Shocking Personal Injury Incident" »

California Victims’ Law Firm Applauds One Community’s Commitment to Pedestrian Safety

June 28, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

There are a variety of ways to travel from Point A to Pont B. Cars, buses, trains, bikes, and planes are just a sampling of our transportation options. Notably, we often overlook the most basic and most natural – walking. At our Sacramento pedestrian injury law firm, we support efforts to make walking a more realistic option for people in our community. We applaud efforts by communities to improve pedestrian safety, a key part of opening up walking as a transportation option. Walking is a win-win, providing benefits to the individual (fitness, health, financial savings, etc.) and the community (environmental protection, public health benefits, reduced traffic, etc.) as a whole.

pedsign2.jpg Folsom Announces Pedestrian Safety Campaign
The Folsom Police Department is beginning a campaign aimed at educating the public and improving pedestrian safety, an effort recently detailed by The Sacramento Bee. Folsom’s campaign, entitled “It’s Up to All of Us,” looks to use law enforcement, outreach efforts, advertising, and the Internet to ultimately reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths. The California Department of Public Health is funding the effort using grant money from the California Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Officials may have been spurred to action by an increase in pedestrian accidents last year. In 2011, six pedestrian-involved vehicle accidents resulted in six injured pedestrians. In 2012, eleven accidents involving pedestrians left eleven pedestrians injured. Thankfully, no pedestrians suffered fatal injuries due to accidents in Folsom during the two year span.

Campaign Plans and Goals
Police Department efforts will include educational campaigns in schools and the community at large. It will also include patrols looking specifically for right-of-way and other pedestrian-related violations. Officers also plan to use decoy pedestrians to see whether drivers stop when a pedestrian is lawfully making use of a crosswalk at an intersection.

The Folsom campaign has a number of both general and more specific goals. Officer Andrew Bates reminds drivers that they are required to stop when a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk or moving through any intersection. More generally, the campaign looks to motivate community members to walk more and to feel safe, a key issue many people cite as a reason for not walking frequently. In addition to urging drivers to slow down, Folsom officials also want to remind pedestrians to be safe. Reminders aimed at pedestrians include avoiding being distracted by a call or text when crossing a street, looking both ways before crossing, and to be proactive, never assuming that a driver spots them.

Advocating for Pedestrian Safety Throughout California and the Nation
According to the Center for Disease Control, 4,280 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in the United States during 2010, with an additional 70,000 incurring non-fatal injuries. To put this another way, one pedestrian died due to a crash every two hours and one was injured every eight minutes. Until these numbers change dramatically, improving pedestrian safety should be among the top concerns of every community. It is one of the top concerns of our legal team. We also believe in advocating for the victims of pedestrian accidents in Sacramento, San Francisco, and throughout Northern California. Call if Attorney Greg Brod can help you recover crucial money damages and send a clear message that California supports pedestrians.

See Related Blog Posts:
San Mateo Pedestrian Accident – A Reminder of an All-too-Common Safety Threat

The Dangers of Distracted Walking: Report Indicates Three-Fold Rise in Injuries to Headphone-Wearing Pedestrians

(Photo by Peter Blanchard)

San Francisco Pedestrian Lawyer Examines California Law on Bicycles & Sidewalks

June 12, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

We teach children to look both ways before they cross the road. We teach them to watch for cars pulling in or out of driveway. While we tell them to always be alert, we also teach them that sidewalks are the safest place for pedestrians. However, many pedestrians have experienced a scare due to a bicycle speeding along on a sidewalk. Bicycles on sidewalks have led to pedestrian injury and even death. While our firm is a staunch supporter of bicycle riders, we are also committed to serving as a San Francisco pedestrian injury law firm when rider negligence threatens pedestrian safety.

San Francisco Pedestrian Hit &Injured By Bicyclist Riding on Sidewalk
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Although most bicyclists ride responsibly, a story in the San Francisco Chronicle highlights the potential for bikes to be a threat to pedestrians. A woman in her 60s was walking on Market Street, heading east near Stockton Street on Sunday June 9. At approximately 12:25 P.M., the woman was hit by a 21-year-old bicyclist travelling west. Officer Gordon Shyy reports that the pedestrian fell and hit her head after the collision. Emergency services transported her to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries. The bike rider did stop and cooperated with the police. Initially, he was cited for riding his bike on the sidewalk, but that citation has been put on hold as investigators decide whether additional charges are warranted.

Northern California Law on Bicycle Riding on Sidewalks
California leaves the issue of whether bicycles are permitted on sidewalks to local cities and counties. In San Francisco, as noted by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, it is against the law to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk if you are thirteen years old or older. The Coalition notes that it often hears from people who have felt threatened by a bicycle riding on the sidewalk. The group says that its position conforms to the law and holds that sidewalks are for pedestrians. Bicycle riders who use the sidewalk may do so because they are afraid of riding on the busy streets. Instead of condoning this behavior, the Coalition focuses its advocacy work on making the streets safer for bicycle riders. The Coalition collaborates with Walk San Francisco as well as with the “Sidewalks are for Pedestrians” campaign, a Senior Action Network project.

In addition to San Francisco, many other Northern California locales prohibit bicycles from riding on sidewalks. In Oakland, Section 10.16.150 of the Municipal Code provides that bicycles are not permitted on sidewalks if the frame is 14 inches or greater or if the wheels have a diameter of 20 inches or greater (essentially allows only children to ride on sidewalks). Berkley Municipal Code 14.68.130 similarly prohibits civilian bicyclists from riding on sidewalks, with the exception of juveniles. Riding on sidewalks is also prohibited in Sacramento, unless the sidewalk is part of a designated bike route, pursuant to City Code 10.76.010.

Even where sidewalk riding is permissible, a pedestrian hit by a bicycle may still have a civil personal injury case against the rider based on general principles of negligence and recklessness.

Our Commitment to Keeping Sidewalks Safe
The Brod Firm supports bicycle riders and Attorney Greg Brod is a member of both the San Francisco and Marin County Bicycle Coalitions. However, riders owe a duty of care to those around them and cannot be blind to pedestrian safety. If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a negligent rider, please call our San Francisco injury law firm to arrange a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
School Zone Car Accident in Antioch Raises Major Safety Concerns

San Mateo Pedestrian Accident – A Reminder of an All-too-Common Safety Threat


(Photo by Alain Rouiller)

Crushed Foot Injury: Young Girl Faces Serious Foot Injury Following Embarcadero Pedestrian Accident

March 29, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

In our work as your San Francisco injury law firm, we see the impact that serious injuries have on victims. We’ve all stubbed a toe and many of us have faced some form of foot pain, but these ailments pale in comparison to seriousness of a crushed foot injury. It is an injury that can result from a falling object or a pedestrian accident. When a crushed foot is the result of someone else’s negligence, our team is prepared to help the victim seek compensation for the victim.

Garbage Truck Hits Seven Year Old Girl Walking With Grandmother
An accident detailed in the San Francisco Chronicle is the type of story that makes the reader wince. A Recology garbage truck was travelling east on Broadway around 7:30 A.M. on Wednesday. The truck made a southward turn onto the Embarcadero and hit a seven year girl and her sixty-six year old grandmother who were crossing the road. According to Officer Gordon Shyy, a police spokesman, the victims were in the crosswalk at the time of the collision. The truck crushed the foot of the young girl who was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital for surgery. Office Shyy reported that she may lose the foot or part of her leg. The grandmother suffered bruises and a leg injury but she was not run over. The accident remains under investigation. Adam Alberti, a spokesman for Recology, did not comment beyond noting that the truck involved was a combination garbage and recycling truck.

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Crushed Foot Injuries
Foot injuries are relatively common and, according to WebMd, one in ten broken bones occurs in the foot. A human foot contains twenty-six bones with the majority being found in the forefoot. While a fractured toe is a relatively simple injury with a very positive outlook, crush injuries are much more complex. An article in Podiatry Today notes that crush injuries are serious and often difficult to manage. They can involve not only broken bones but also soft tissue damage. There is a risk of compartment syndrome, a condition where there is not enough blood being supplied to the area and can result in the loss of the limb.

Crushed foot injuries often require emergency surgery. Long-term effects can range from weakness and pain to amputation. Patients may require rehabilitative physical therapy. Overall, victims of these injuries face pain, potentially significant lifestyle changes, and high medical costs.

Representing Victims of Serious Injuries in Northern California
Medical attention should be the first priority of anyone facing a crushed foot or similar injury. When the injury is the result of someone else’s negligence, such as a pedestrian accident caused by an inattentive driver or a negligently stocked item falling from a store shelf, victims should also reach out to legal counsel. Our San Francisco personal injury law firm has experience representing victims of serious, life-changing injuries. We will work closely with your treating physicians and medical experts to ensure you receive the money needed to confront both the physical and emotional impact of your injury. Most injury cases are handled on a contingent fee basis so there is no fee unless you recover money. Call to arrange a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
San Mateo Pedestrian Accident – A Reminder of an All-too-Common Safety Threat

Head-On Collisions: Less Common, But More Dangerous, Than Many Imagine


(Photo by Irenaeus Herwindo)

Focusing on Drugged Driving Following the Death of a Young Victim

January 18, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Once again, a local headline not only captured our attention but also pulled at the hearts of all the members of our Sacramento injury law firm. The Sacramento Bee’s story is accompanied by a picture of a young boy whose smile takes up half the frame. The boy is six year old Henry Perez-Rocha. He passed away in the early hours of January 16, three months after a tragic car crash allegedly fueled by the mix of illegal drugs and driving. The death is a reminder of the on-going threat of drugged driving in California and across the nation.

Eight Year Old Dies Following October Crash, Police Suspect Drugged Driving Was Key Factor
ERsign.pngOn October 5, 2012, Henry and his eight year old brother Juan were walking to Skycrest Elementary in Citrus Heights with their mother close behind. As they passed through the crosswalk at Greenback Lane and Mariposa Avenue, a Chrysler 300 collided with a Chevy Suburban and then spun out and hit the children. The intersection had a reputation for being busy and dangerous, with drivers often travelling over 50mph despite the 40mph speed limit. Police later arrested fifty-two year old Tres Bales-Sterba of Orangeville, who was behind the wheel of the Chrysler at the time of the crash, on suspicion of misdemeanor charges for driving on a suspended license and suspected felony charges of driving under the influence and causing injury. A toxicology report revealed methamphetamine and other drugs in Bales-Sterba’s system.

The accident left Henry in critical condition at UC Davis Medical Center. According to an aunt, as of mid-October he was in a coma. He succumbed to his injuries three months later. His brother Juan was sent home to recover from his own injuries following the accident.

National and State Studies Show Extent of Drugged Driving Threat
Driving under the influence of alcohol may receive more attention, but driving under the influence of drugs is also a major threat. The National Institute on Drug Abuse labels drugged driving a public health issue because it poses a danger not only to the drug user but also to passengers and bystanders on the road. According to a 2009 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 18% of fatally injured drivers nationwide tested positive for at least one drug including illicit, prescription, and over-the-counter formulas. Another study from 2007 found that more than 16% of drivers travelling on weekends or during nighttime hours tested positive for some form of drugs, including more than 11% who tested positive for illicit substances.

While the number of drivers using alcohol has declined in recent years, the rate of drugged driving has not. In November 2012, the California Office of Traffic Safety released results of a roadside study that found one in seven weekend nighttime drivers in the state were under the influence of a drug that affects driving ability. Almost twice as many drivers tested positive for such substances than tested positive for alcohol (14% vs. 7.3%). The most prevalent drug found was marijuana, identified in 7.4% of drivers, slightly more than had consumed alcohol. In response to the problem, the state is funding specialized programs to train officers to detect drugged driving as well and also investing in testing equipment. Governor Brown recently signed into law a provision that moves DUI offenses into separate categories for drugs, alcohol, and alcohol plus drugs. This move will help in data collection and hopefully translate into targeted prevention and enforcement strategies.

Attorney for Northern California Drugged Driving Victims
Our sympathies go out to the family of Henry Perez-Rocha and all those impacted by drugged driving. The threat of drugged driving includes both drivers impaired by illicit drugs as well as drivers impaired by legal substances -- or, as is often the case, drivers impaired by both. We hope that more attention will be paid to this threat and that education efforts focused on drunk driving will expand to include other forms of driving under the influence.

Attorney Brod represents victims of drugged driving in Sacramento and throughout Northern California in personal injury and wrongful death cases. As we often remind readers of this blog, civil injury and wrongful death cases may proceed whether or not criminal charges are filed. Most of our injury and wrongful death cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so there is no fee unless you recover money. Please call to schedule a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
Northern California Injury Attorney on Drugged Driving and Medication Take-Back Programs

The Danger of Mixing Drugs and Driving

(Photo by Robert Linder)

Considering Punitive Damages in the Wake of Fatal Accident

January 4, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Any accident that causes a serious injury or death is a tragedy. It is upsetting how an innocent victim can suffer severe consequences due to another driver’s negligence. Despite serving as a San Francisco accident law firm for many years, there are still some cases that shock our team with the disregard shown for human lives. These cases in particular also lead our clients to ask us about the applicability of punitive damages in California injury cases.

Two Dead, One Seriously Injured in Collision After Gun Suspect Flees Police Stop
carcrash.jpg The first day of 2013 was marked by tragedy for a pedestrian and the occupants of a vehicle travelling in the Mission District. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the incident began fifteen minutes prior to the ultimate collision when police responded to reports of gunshots fired from a vehicle at the Valencia Gardens housing project, located at 14th and Guerro streets. Shortly thereafter, police spotted and pulled over a black Chevrolet Impala matching witness descriptions of the suspect vehicle. As officers approached, the driver sped off, heading east on 21st Street and running two intersections before colliding with a white Toyota proceeding north on South Van Ness Avenue. The impact caused the Toyota to spin into the intersection, hitting a pedestrian before landing in front of a liquor shop.

Witnesses described the accident as resembling an explosion that shook local buildings. Debris from the collision was strewn thirty feet down the roadway. The male pedestrian, twenty-six year old Francisco Gutierrez of San Francisco, and the Toyota’s passenger, identified only as a woman in her 20s, were both pronounced dead at the scene. Emergency responders transported the driver of the Toyota to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police declined to identify the driver of the Impala but said the suspect was a male in his mid-twenties and was known to law enforcement. He was taken into custody and taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The crash is still under investigation. A gun was found in the suspect’s car and police report the Gang Task Force is part of the investigation. Police Chief Greg Suhr emphasized to reporters that police did not have the opportunity to even begin a pursuit after the suspect fled the initial traffic stop.

Punitive Damages in California Injury Cases
As a victim’s law firm, we believe that all driver negligence is a serious problem. Some incidents, however, involve more than simple negligence. In such cases, victims often ask about the potential for punitive damages. While most damages available in civil personal injury cases are designed to compensate the victim, punitive damages are intended to punish a wrongdoer. In addition to punishment, the imposition of punitive damages is justified by the goal of preventing or deterring the defendant from similar actions in the future and setting an example to show others that they will pay a high price if they engage in similar behavior. Punitive damages are also referred to as “exemplary damages.”

Punitive damages are, as per California Civil Code Section 3294, reserved for the most serious cases and require proof that the defendant acted with malice or was guilty of oppression or fraud. In this context, malice is defined as conduct intended to cause injury to another or despicable conduct done with conscious, willful disregard of others’ rights or safety. Proof of these factors must be “clear and convincing,” a higher standard than is typically required in civil injury cases.

Most injury cases in California do not qualify for punitive damages. However, some defendants show such conscious disregard for safety or even outright malice that the court will be willing to impose these additional damages. These are often the cases that shock and disturb the community. In some circumstances, California courts are also willing to impose punitive damages against drunk drivers.

Our San Francisco personal injury law firm helps our clients pursue all available damages. We specialize in helping victims who have suffered serious injuries recover the money necessary to moving forward after tragedy. We also believe in making sure justice is served and will not hesitate to seek punitive damage under appropriate circumstances.

See Related Blog Posts:
The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Rule in San Francisco Injury Lawsuits

Guilty Plea in Fatal Hit-And-Run: The Aftermath of a Pedestrian Fatality


San Mateo Pedestrian Accident – A Reminder of an All-too-Common Safety Threat

November 28, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

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Pedestrian accidents are all too common, a reality brought to the attention of our community and our San Francisco personal injury law firm by a recent tragedy in San Mateo. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a hit-and-run claimed the life of sixty-seven year old Reynaldo Aguinga over the weekend. Police believe that Josue Lopez, a twenty-six year old from San Mateo, lost control of his 1994 Camaro while exiting a parking lot in the 1700 block of South Delaware Street. The car hit a concrete garbage can, knocking it into Aguinga and slamming the pedestrian against a tree. Witnesses report the driver got out of the car to check on the victim before speeding off, leaving him pinned between the tree and the concrete can. Police later apprehended Lopez due to a partial license plate and other details observed by those at the scene. Officials do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor. Aguinga died at a nearby hospital. Reports suggest a five year-old child was in the back seat of the car at the time of the incident. Lopez is charged with vehicular manslaughter, felony hit and run, and child endangerment.

Benefits & Risks: Pedestrian Safety Statistics
Our Northern California pedestrian accident law firm believes in keeping the roads safe for all those who walk, whether it is a mode of transportation or a form of exercise. Walkinginfo.org, a resource funded through the Department of Transportation, notes that there are numerous benefits to travelling by foot. Walking protects the health of individuals and the well-being of our environment, reduces traffic congestion, and has economic benefits for both the walker and the community as a whole.

Unfortunately, per statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (“NHTSA”), 4,280 pedestrians died as a result of collisions with motor vehicles in 2010. While this is an improvement from the 5,858 fatalities in 1995, it still translates into twelve pedestrian lives lost on an average day nationwide. Nearly three-quarters of these fatalities occur in urban areas. Additionally, the NHTSA reported 70,000 pedestrian injuries in 2010. This number is likely well-below the actual number of injuries since only people report only a fraction of injury-causing pedestrian accidents to police authorities. Another disturbing statistic – California joins Texas, New York, and Florida as the four states with the highest number of pedestrian deaths. These four states alone account for a whopping forty-one percent of pedestrian fatalities nationwide.

California Law on Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities
Chapter Five of Division 11 of the California Vehicle Code sets forth the general rights and duties of California pedestrians. The opening paragraph, Section 21949, states that it is the policy of the state to provide residents with “safe and convenient pedestrian travel and access.” This policy continues in Section 21950 which requires that drivers yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks and intersections. This Section specifically adds that pedestrians are also required to take care for their own safety. Importantly, Section 21951 adds that a driver may not pass another vehicle that has stopped to allow a pedestrian safe passage.

California’s civil courts also protect pedestrians injured due to the negligent or wrongful acts of drivers on our roadways. As a San Francisco injury lawyer, Attorney Greg Brod represents pedestrians seeking money damages in civil courts. A civil claim can exist even where police do not charge the driver with any crime. Attorney Brod offers a free consultation to injured pedestrians throughout Northern California.

See Related Blog Posts:
Oakland Injury Attorney Comments on Coverage for Hit-and-Run Accidents

San Jose Pedestrian Accident Claims Life of 81 Year-Old Woman


(Photo by mzacha)

Northern California Injury Law Firm’s Tips for Staying Safe on Halloween

October 30, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

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You can almost feel the excitement in the air as the kids begin counting down the hours until the can step into their costumes and out to the street for a night of trick-or-treating and the candy buzz to follow. Parents are looking forward to pulling out their cameras to document this year’s costume and other households are getting ready to greet the kids who ring the bell and see this year’s variety of cute, scary, and creative outfits. Before the fun begins, our San Francisco injury law firm wants to take a moment to remind readers about Halloween safety.


A Few Safety Statistics
Halloween should leave behind great memories, with the only dark spot being an upset tummy from too much chocolate. However, Halloween can quickly turn tragic. In October 2011, SafeKids Worldwide http://www.safekids.org/our-work/research/reports/halloween-research-report.pdf (a group focused on preventing unintentional injuries to children worldwide) published a report on Halloween safety. Eighty-nine percent of the parents surveyed for the report said their children take part in some form of Halloween activity, with 73% reporting the activities included trick-or-treating. This leads to an increase in foot traffic and, unfortunately an increase in accidents. More than twice as many children die in pedestrian/vehicle accidents between 4 and 10 P.M. on October 31 than on a typical evening.

Celebrating Halloween Safely
Ensuring pedestrian safety on Halloween requires cooperation from trick-or-treaters and those driving during celebrations. Talking about pedestrian safety is always important, but parents should make special efforts to discuss safe travelling on Halloween. Safe Kids recommends parents accompany children under age twelve, although the report notes that a surprising 12% of parents (or one in nine) allow children age five or younger to go without adult supervision. Trick-or-treaters, like all pedestrians, should use sidewalks when possible and walk to the far left side of the road, facing traffic, when none is available. Likewise, they should cross at corners, obeying all traffic signs and looking both ways before crossing a road. Parents should remind children that it isn’t worth risking an accident just to get to another door more quickly – no piece of candy is worth risking their life or a serious injury.

Driver should also take extra care on Halloween. Vehicles should slow down and drivers should stay alert, especially in residential areas. Distracted driving is always dangerous but the risk of an accident is even higher on a night where children are more likely to be out. It can be helpful to turn on headlights early to help increase visibility. Remember that children, especially excited children, are often unpredictable and may dart into the road unexpectedly.

Costumes and candy, two of the hallmarks of the Halloween holiday, can also pose safety risks. Parents should ensure that costumes do not impede visibility and that children can move freely without tripping on any loose material. Ideally, costumes or treat bags should have some reflective elements and children should carry flashlights or glow sticks. The latter can be toxic so children should be supervised and told not to chew on or break open the sticks. Swords, sticks, and similar costume elements pose dangers both in terms of potential rough play and the possibility of stumbling and falling on the item. While studies suggest tainted candy is relatively uncommon, it is still wise to check items for tampering and throw out anything with torn packaging or any unwrapped items.

Helping Victims on Halloween and Beyond
The San Francisco personal injury team at The Brod Law Firm wishes everyone a safe and fun Halloween. As always, if an accident does occur and you or your child is injured due to someone else’s negligence, please call for a free consultation. Remember that the law does not require perfection and you may still have a claim even if the injured victim failed to adhere to all safety guidelines.

See Related Blog Posts:
San Francisco Law Firm Reminds Residents and Visitors to Be Safe During the Holiday Weekend

New Year’s Eve Has the Highest Instance of Pedestrian Fatalities


Oakland Injury Attorney Comments on Coverage for Hit-and-Run Accidents

October 12, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

With his extensive experience as an Oakland personal injury lawyer, Greg Brod understands that car accidents leave victims with both physical and emotional scars. The mental suffering is compounded when the driver responsible for the crash fails to take responsibility for his or her actions. Hit-and-run accidents leave the victim and the community as a whole angry and looking for answers.

Fremont Hit-and-Run Injures Young Pedestrian
Residents of the City of Fremont are wondering who is responsible for an accident that injured a young teen. The story is currently running in the Oakland Tribune. At 7:30 A.M. on Monday October 8 officers responded to reports of an accident at the intersection of Nicolet Avenue and Mackenzie Place. According to Geneva Bosques, a police spokeswoman, a car struck a fourteen year old boy in the crosswalk. The teen incurred minor injuries and was taken to an area hospital by his father. Witnesses describe the driver as a Hispanic male between the ages of 35 and 45. Police report he was observed driving a red, four-door sedan, heading south on Nicolet Avenue in the direction of Alder Avenue.

California Criminal Law on Duty to Stop Following an Accident
It goes without saying that committing a hit-and-run is against the law. It is a felony to leave the scene of an accident involving injury to another person (Califronia Vehicle Code Section 20001) and a misdemeanor to leave the scene of an accident involving property damage (California Vehicle Code Section 20002). Notably, the California hit-and-run laws apply regardless of fault. In the case of an injury accident, the law requires stopping, providing identifying information to other parties and law enforcement, and contacting police if none are present. The provision also requires drivers to provide reasonable assistance in helping the injured person to obtain medical attention.

Recovering for Hit-and-Run Accident Costs Via Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Beyond criminal and moral/ethical issues, hit-and-run crashes often leave a victim wondering about the myriad of related expenses. Obviously, you cannot bring a personal injury claim against an unknown driver. However, uninsured motorist coverage through your own insurance company will usually include hit-and-run accidents where there is contact between your car and an unknown vehicle. While California law does not require drivers to obtain uninsured motorist coverage, it is a part of most policies and auto insurance companies must offer this type of coverage. Uninsured motorists policies include both economic and non-economic damages, meaning that a hit-and-run victim may be able to obtain compensation not only for medical bills and lost wages but also for intangibles like pain and suffering. In addition to accidents between vehicles, uninsured motorist coverage may also provide coverage for an accident where a driver flees after hitting a pedestrian. This may also include members of the insured’s household such as a child.

In order to receive coverage for a hit-an-run accident under an uninsured motorist policy, it is important that you contact law enforcement after the crash. The insurance company will want to be certain that every effort was made to find the other driver. It is also important to remember that even though coverage is through your own insurance company, the company is not on your side. They will want to resolve the claim as cheaply as possible and may make you a low offer in the hope that you will take it in order to simply have the matter done with quickly. In order to ensure you receive full and fair compensation in the event of a hit-and-run, you should always contact an experienced Oakland insurance law firm. At the Brod Firm, our team has vast experience dealing with insurance companies and car accident injuries so we can help you get all

See Related Blog Posts:
Understanding Auto Insurance Coverage in California

Is uninsured and underinsured motorist protection a good idea?

School Zone Car Accident in Antioch Raises Major Safety Concerns

October 10, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

School zone speed limits exist for a reason. Drivers often neglect to obey school zone rules, putting children and safety personnel at risk. Our Oakland personal injury law firm believes that civil injury suits serve to compensate victims and that they also serve as a preventative measure, providing an additional incentive for safe and responsible driving behavior.

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Two Adults and One Child Injured in School Zone at Turner Elementary
According to The Oakland Tribune, school had only been in session for five minutes when an accident injured two adult and one child in front of Turner Elementary School in Antioch. Police report that the driver of a rented Audi SUV was speeding at around sixty miles per hour and generally driving carelessly in the eastbound lane of Delta Fair Boulevard at about 8:05 A.M. The SUV swerved around another vehicle that was stopped at a red traffic signal and hit three pedestrians before hitting another car that was turning onto School Street. The victims included a crossing guard, her eleven year old son, and another woman. Both adults suffered severe injuries and a medical helicopter transported them to John Muir Medical Center. The child suffered minor injuries. Witnesses report the crossing guard and the other woman were talking on the corner of a crosswalk and the boy, who was out of school for fall break and celebrating his birthday that day, was seated in a chair nearby.

After the crash, both the SUV driver and a passenger escaped from the vehicle that was left sitting on its passenger side in a nearby driveway. Bystanders report both occupants of the SUV were males in their early twenties. Both men fled, but one returned after running about a block and said that he was the driver. The man appeared intoxicated and he told officers that his companion had an outstanding arrest warrant. Police Captain Steve McConnell said he found the confession to be suspicious and that the man may have taken the blame for his companion.

Legal and Safety Concerns in School Zones
According to California law, unless posted signs state otherwise, drivers must slow to 25mph when travelling within 500 to 1,000 feet of a school when children are either outside or crossing the street. In some school zones, speed limits are as low as 15mph. These reduced speeds exist because children may be unable to accurately judge speeds and distances to determine when to safely cross and because children may also dart suddenly into the road. Specific traffic laws also govern driving near a school bus, requiring drivers in either direction (unless travelling on the other side or a divided highway) to stop when a bus flashes red lights and remain stopped until the lights are turned off.

According to a report by SafeKids USA, distracted drivers are a concern nationwide, but they pose a particular danger in school zones. The study found one in six drivers travelling through a school zone were distracted. Cell phones are a common issue, but things like eating, reaching for objects, or even personal grooming also cause distraction. The study did not specifically examine the tie between distraction and accidents in school zones, but the safety risk seems evident. The report also cited a Canadian study that concluded the area within 150 meters of schools had a higher risk of accidents and fatalities involving children than areas more than 300 meters from a school facility.

Unsafe driving is never okay, but it is particularly disconcerting when it occurs in areas frequented by children. If you or your child suffered an injury due to a school zone accident in Oakland or elsewhere in the Northern California region, please contact our firm. Attorney Greg Brod and his support team are committed to helping victims and to reminding drivers that risky behaviors on the road will not be tolerated.

See Related Blog Posts:
San Jose Pedestrian Accident Claims Life of 81 Year-Old Woman

Pedestrian Fatality Claims the Life of Newly Minted U.S. Citizen


San Jose Pedestrian Accident Claims Life of 81 Year-Old Woman

September 14, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

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Our Oakland pedestrian accident law firm believes in keeping the road safe for all travelers. Walking is a wonderful form of both exercise and transportation. It benefits both the individual and the community, protecting the health of the walker and the environment as well as saving money for the pedestrian as well as the tax-paying public. However, walking more often makes headlines for tragedies rather than the many positives associated with travelling by foot.

According to the Oakland Tribune, an eighty-one year old woman lost her life while walking near the Regional Medical Center of San Jose on Wednesday. The San Jose resident was crossing North Jackson Avenue in the early morning hours when struck by a vehicle travelling south near Alexian Avenue. Reports did not immediately identify the driver of the 1993 Toyota Tercel, a fifty year old man who also calls San Jose home. Police do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident. Investigators from the San Jose Police Department’s Traffic Investigations Unit are asking for calls from witnesses and also invite anonymous calls to the Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers Unit.

Right-of-way rules, including those governing intersections, seek to promote traffic safety. This is especially important for the well-being of pedestrian, bicycle riders, and motorcyclists. Per the California Department of Motor Vehicles, failure to obey right-of-way rules causes a high percentage of injury crashes in California. Drivers must respect pedestrian rights, including stopping for a pedestrian in any crosswalk. Motorists must also stop for pedestrians crossing at a corner where there is no traffic signal, even if there is not a marked crosswalk. Additionally, the law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians when the driver crosses a sidewalk to enter a parking lot, alley, or driveway. Older or disabled pedestrians, as well as those travelling with young children, often need extra time to navigate a crossing. One new issue of modern transport – hybrid and electric vehicles are often silent, or at least quieter than gas engines, and drivers of these vehicles should take extra caution.

Pedestrians should always take part in safety efforts. Approximately nineteen percent of all California traffic fatalities are pedestrian deaths. Pedestrians should use sidewalks where available and should always look carefully at all intersections, crossing in designated crosswalks whenever possible. Distracted walking, when a pedestrian focuses on a mobile device or something similar instead of on surrounding conditions, is an increasing danger. While pedestrians should take safety measures, remember that the law does not require perfection. Pedestrians can and do win lawsuits. Do not let fear that you may have shared in the fault stop you from seeking compensation after being injured in a pedestrian versus motor vehicle crash.

An experienced attorney is often essential to winning injury cases, including those involving an injured Oakland pedestrian. Our experienced attorney will help evaluate your case and advocate for your legal rights. Insurance companies will contest cases even where the driver was clearly at fault. Engaging a lawyer does not always mean a long, drawn-out trial. Many injury cases settle out of courts and injured people get significantly higher settlement amounts when they have an attorney on their side. Whether concluded in negotiations or at trial, The Brod Law Firm gets results for injured Californians. Call to schedule a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
Pedestrian Fatality Claims the Life of Newly Minted U.S. Citizen
San Francisco Lawyer Comments on Taxi Accident Law After Pedestrian Dies in Cab Collision

Tribune Article Reminds Bay Area Residents to Share the Road

June 27, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

As your Oakland injury law firm, we hope that this blog helps injured Californians know that they have rights after an accident and that we are here to help them navigate the complex process of obtaining compensation when someone else’s actions cause them harm. We also hope that this blog helps prevent accidents by sharing safety tips relevant to life in 2012. While we’ve covered the importance of cars, bicycles, and pedestrians sharing the road before, a recent piece in The Oakland Tribune reminds us that it is a topic worth revisiting.

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The article, originally carried by the Contra Costa Times, focuses on making the roads safe for everyone. It has been nearly three months since a father and his nine year old daughter, Solaiman and Hadessa Nuri, were struck and killed while biking near a fire department training center on Treat Boulevard in Concord. Flowers and candles can still be found at the site where officials believe a seventeen year old boy hit the pair while driving an SUV. Sadly, as traffic officers told the reporter, the accident is just one example of a growing adversarial relationship between cars and others using the roads, including pedestrians and cyclists. One of the first officers to respond to the tragic crash on April 7th noted that travelers have adopted a “take every inch you can” mentality.

In 2010, according to the California Office of Traffic and Safety, more than 3,100 people were killed or injured in crashes involving pedestrians, bicycle riders, or skateboarders in Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Not only is this an increase from the 2,800 injured or killed in similar accidents in the three county region in 2006, there is also a disturbing increase in the portion of the incidents involving young people. In 2006, one in eight of the victims in such crashes was age 15 or younger. In 2010, that ratio was closer to one in six. Biking accidents have decreased in recent years but pedestrian accidents in California increased 5.4 percent between 2009 and 2010.

The Tribune article referenced several other tragedies in the Bay Area including fatal crashes involving bicyclists, pedestrians, and even a fifty-two year old man in a wheelchair. According to an observational study in 2010, nine percent of drivers on California roads were talking and texting at any given moment. Traffic officers suggest the statistic, released by the Office of Traffic and Safety, was a conservative estimate. Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of Transportation, recently referred to distracted driving as a “national epidemic.” He also awarded $2.4 million to California to conduct a pilot campaign aimed at the problem involving both police enforcement and publicity efforts. Traffic safety officers have suggested additional efforts should also target the use of technological distractions by pedestrians and cyclists, noting that many fail to pay adequate attention to their environments.

We hope readers of the Tribune article and of this blog will heed the message and pay adequate attention when travelling on our roadways. As always, we are available to help victims of distracted driving in Oakland and throughout the Northern California region.

For additional safety information for drivers, pedestrians, motorcycle riders and bicyclists, see the Share the Road Safely website from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Pedestrian Fatality Claims the Life of Newly Minted U.S. Citizen

May 19, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

At our San Francisco personal injury law firm, we hear many tragic stories. We represent those injured in San Francisco car accidents and the families of those killed in area collisions because we know that financial compensation can help victims move forward after a tragedy. Compensation in civil court is important, but it cannot undo a tragic event, especially a fatality.

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A recent report in The San Francisco Chronicle served as a particular reminder of the fact that every victim lost in a traffic fatality had his or her own story. Sena Putra, a 47 year old Oakland resident, was returning to work after lunch on Thursday. He was crossing 13th Street in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco when he was hit by a gasoline tanker truck as it turned onto 13th from Folsom Street. Investigators reported that Putra was crossing in a crosswalk and had a green light. Putra died at the accident scene. The driver of the truck did remain at the scene and cooperated with police. As of the time of the report, no arrest had been made.

Details of Putra’s personal story make this crash particularly poignant. Putra had emigrated to the United States from Indonesia nearly ten years ago. On April 17, he proudly became a citizen. Colleagues report that Putra loved his adopted country and was proud to have become an American. Putra worked as an accountant at UCSF’s Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital. After learning of his death, Putra’s former supervisor checked his briefcase. Inside, she found his newly completed voter registration forms. The supervisor noted that Putra had expressed looking forward to his first opportunity to vote. They also noted that Putra’s family was gathered for a wedding in Jakarta but that he was unable to afford the trip to join the celebration after having made a visit last year.

It is because every victim has a story that we are proud to serve as a San Francisco accident law firm. We make it a point to know the story behind every case we work on, providing a level of personal service that is often lacking at the larger law firms. Our work on each case begins with a free consultation. In this initial meeting, we will learn the details of your unique case and discuss how California law applies to your circumstances. If you decide to engage our firm, you will have the benefit of Attorney Gregory Brod’s experience representing clients in civil court for more than fifteen years. In most accident cases, including those involving personal injury and wrongful death claims, we work on a contingency basis. This means that we only get paid if you receive compensation for your losses. We believe in the cases we take and we align our own financial interests directly with the interests of our clients.

If you have suffered injury or lost a loved one due to the negligence of another driver in a San Francisco auto accident, please contact our team. We cannot turn back time, but we can work with you to understand your unique story and to help you receive the compensation due under California law.

See Related Blog Posts:
Recent Car Accidents in San Francisco are a Reminder of the Most Common Causes of Crashes
Head-On Collision Leads Attorney to Consider the Danger of Drowsy Driving

Two Recent Pedestrian Deaths Highlight San Francisco’s High Pedestrian Injury Rate

March 27, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

PED2.jpgTwo pedestrians died on Sunday, March 25 after crossing the street mid-block. SFGate reports that Thomas Ferguson (45) was crossing Lombard Street between Van Ness and Franklin when a car struck him. Ferguson died on the scene. Earlier that day, a man was hit by a Muni bus when he emerged between two parked cars to cross Fillmore Street. KTVU.com reports that he was rushed to the hospital, but declared dead shortly thereafter.

According to a study by UCSF, Profile of Injury in San Francisco (2004), more pedestrians died in San Francisco over the last ten years than motor vehicle occupants, while the state average varies from 17.2%-20.2% per year. Moreover, the national average for pedestrian fatalities among all crash fatalities is much lower at around 12%. Part of the higher rate is due to the urban nature of many California cities, including San Francisco. For example, the most pedestrian fatalities and injuries alike were concentrated in downtown San Francisco and other high traffic areas, as shown in the study named Cost of Auto versus Pedestrian Injuries in San Francisco, 2004-2008.

The logical conclusion is that areas with more pedestrian deaths require more measures to protect pedestrians and encourage safer behavior by both pedestrians and drivers. In 2002, San Francisco was one of three cities, along with Las Vegas and Miami, to be chosen for a PedSafe Study because of the high rate of pedestrian fatalities. The study tested various traffic signs and street markings to identify the most effective methods to promote pedestrian safety.

The most effective measures included flashing beacons at crosswalks without traffic signals, signs that reminded drivers to watch out for pedestrians, and head start crossing for pedestrians at intersections where cars make relatively more unprotected left turns.

An article by Wray Herbert on the Association for Psychological Science website, cites a University of London study that found the reason children under 15 years old are more likely to be injured by cars, is not limited to lack of attention to potential dangers. In fact, children are less likely to see oncoming vehicles at all because they are physically smaller. In addition, their brains have a harder time than adults judging the rate at which cars driving at different speeds will approach them.

These two studies help root out the causes of pedestrian injuries and deaths at all ages. One reason appears to be the visibility of both cars and pedestrians. Flashing beacons, head start intersections, and raised curbs help improve the visibility of pedestrians to vehicles, and also help pedestrians assess possible dangers when traversing the street. The above accidents also demonstrate that crossing in designated intersections is important, because pedestrians are more visible to vehicles at crosswalks.

Another reason highlighted by both the March 25 crashes and the studies is the issue of right of way. Although Californian pedestrians always have the right of way by law, traffic measures are implemented to make driving, walking, and biking safer and require that pedestrians sometimes temporarily give up the right of way for their own safety. Pedestrians often cross against lights and without the protection of crosswalks because they are sure they can make it across in time. As the tragic accidents at Lombard Street and Fillmore Street show, this is a dangerous state of mind. However, pedestrians are also struck when they obey all traffic laws. For instance, cars make premature left and right turns through intersections where they are supposed to yield to pedestrians, because, similar to the previous example, drivers think they can “make it” before the pedestrian reaches the end of the intersection. Thus, the PedSafe Study found that signs, markers, and head start intersections successfully reminded many drivers to yield to pedestrians.

Continue reading "Two Recent Pedestrian Deaths Highlight San Francisco’s High Pedestrian Injury Rate" »

Two Separate Sacramento Pedestrian Deaths Share the Headlines

January 23, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

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Serving as a Sacramento pedestrian injury law firm means that our team is particularly aware that auto accidents are all too common in our car-driven culture. The reality of Sacramento pedestrian fatalities is particularly clear after two separate accidents claimed the lives of young adults in the past week.

According to The Sacramento Bee report, the first of these dual tragedies occurred in the early morning hours. At approximately 3:50AM, a twenty-one year old resident of Foster was struck by a car while walking on 113 North in Woodland. The victim was killed in the accident and the driver fled the scene. The California Highway Patrol is looking for witnesses who may have information relating to this fatal hit-and-run.

A second crash, also reported by The Bee, claimed an even younger victim. Sixteen year old Michelle Murigi of Sacramento was hit by a car while crossing Fruitridge Road at 58th Avenue. One eastbound vehicle had stopped to allow the teen to cross but a second car continued through the crosswalk and struck the girl. The crash occurred on Thursday afternoon and Murigi was taken to UC Davis Medical Center. She was placed on life support but succumbed to her injuries and passed away on Friday night. The unidentified driver reportedly said that he did not see the pedestrian and the accident remains under investigation.

Pedestrian fatalities remain a serious problem, despite many efforts to encourage both safe driving and safe pedestrian behavior. According to a report from the National Highway Administration, 4,092 pedestrians were killed in vehicle-related crashes is 2009. This figure represented a seven percent drop from 2008. Notably, between 2000 and 2009, the percentage of traffic deaths involving pedestrians remained fairly steady with pedestrians representing between eleven and twelve percent of all traffic fatalities. This number increases for the youngest victims with pedestrians accounting for twenty-two percent of traffic victims under age five. Weather does not appear to be a primary factor with eighty-nine percent of the pedestrian deaths in 2009 occurring during normal weather conditions. Time-of-day had a much greater statistical impact and sixty-nine percent of the 2009 deaths occurred during nighttime hours. Nearly three-quarters of the accidents occurred in an urban setting. Alcohol is also a significant factor and nearly half of the 2009 pedestrian fatalities involved either an intoxicated driver or an intoxicated pedestrian.

It sounds a bit cliché, but we truly believe that even a single pedestrian death in Sacramento or elsewhere is a death too many. We urge drivers to exercise caution, especially in urban areas where sharing the road is a reality and at night when visibility is an extra challenge. We also urge the families of pedestrian victims to pursue civil litigation after an accident. No amount of money can bring back a lost loved one, but compensation can help survivors pursue help as they grieve and address the economic consequences of the incident. Seeking justice in court also sends a strong message that carelessness will not be tolerated. Our Sacramento wrongful death lawyer is experienced in helping grieving family members navigate the legal system and move forward from tragedy. Please contact us if we can help you and your family in the aftermath of tragedy.

See Related Blog Posts:
Wrongful Death Attorney on Arrest of Driver in Fatal DUI Crash in San Jose

Oakland Accident Law Firm Comments on San Jose Pedestrian Fatality

The Dangers of Distracted Walking: Report Indicates Three-Fold Rise in Injuries to Headphone-Wearing Pedestrians

January 18, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

As an experienced San Francisco personal injury law office, The Brod Law Firm knows that vehicle crashes can involve pedestrian victims in addition to the vehicle occupants. Our San Francisco pedestrian injury attorney also knows that these cases often result from a myriad of causes that all contribute to an accident. It is our mission to hold negligent drivers and operators responsible for their actions but we also urge residents to exercise caution while walking to help avoid tragic results.
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CNN’s website is reporting on a study published in Injury Prevention that drives home the importance of being aware of your surroundings, even when you are on foot rather than behind the wheel. The study by a team at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that serious injuries and fatalities involving headphone-wearing pedestrians tripled in the period between 2004 and 2011. Half of the reported incidents involved train collisions while the other half involved cars, trucks, buses, or bicycles. Although headphones have been around for decades, they have become increasingly prevalent in our wired 21st century lives. The danger appears especially prevalent for younger people with twenty-one being the median age of the pedestrians. Headphones can render pedestrians inattentive and limit their ability to hear oncoming vehicles. In response to the danger of distracted pedestrians, some lawmakers have even considered legislation forbidding the use of headphones in city intersections.

As a victim’s personal injury law firm in San Francisco, we know that accidents are complex. While we urge residents to use caution and take steps to avoid pedestrian injury, we also believe that those injured by negligent drivers deserve compensation even if their own actions were not without fault. Until 1975, California used a legal principle that barred any recovery whenever the victim’s own negligence contributed to the accident. This is no longer the case. The California Supreme Court has since made it clear that victims can recover even in cases of contributory negligence, the legal term for the victim’s own imperfect actions. Victims can still bring, and win, personal injury suits where their own negligence was a factor. Instead of barring recovery, the court may reduce the amount of damages awarded in order to take the plaintiff’s role into account. For example, if the court finds that a speeding driver held 85% of the responsibility for a crash with 15% of the fault being due to the pedestrian’s own distraction, the court will calculate the amount of damages and award 85% of the total figure.

It is a prevalent theme of this blog that prevention is always best. We urge area pedestrians to be fully aware of their surroundings, taking particular care on busy streets, near intersections, and at railroad crossings. Headphones should be used responsibly and pedestrians should always be sure they can hear the traffic noises around them and that they do not allow their mobile devices to distract them from their safety. However, we also know that most accidents include a myriad of factors and do not believe that simply having worn headphones should prevent a victim from seeking compensation when another person’s negligence led to their injuries. If you have suffered injury in a pedestrian accident in San Francisco or the surrounding Northern California communities, please contact our team for a free consultation to discuss your unique case and your legal rights.

See Related Blog Posts:
New Year’s Eve Has the Highest Instances of Pedestrian Fatalities
Oakland Accident Law Firm Comments on San Jose Pedestrian Fatality

New Year’s Eve Has the Highest Instances of Pedestrian Fatalities

December 29, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Everyone has heard it before- Don’t drink and drive. Fatal automobile accidents increase dramatically during high traffic seasons, and holidays are the worst, combining more vehicles on the road with an increased number of intoxicated drivers.

But what about intoxicated pedestrians? New Year’s Eve has the fifth highest number of crash fatalities overall, but it is the number one day for pedestrian crash deaths. The same factors that are involved with general crash fatalities are present on New Year’s Eve, with the added component that many pedestrians choose to walk home intoxicated, rather than risk their lives and the lives of others behind the wheel.

However, drunken walkers are still engaging in a risky undertaking. Alcohol negatively affects the brain’s ability to focus and it slows down the whole body’s reaction time. Consequently, intoxicated drivers and intoxicated pedestrians have less coordination, difficulty processing information, and following moving objects. The physical limitations imposed by drinking heavily makes driving or even walking near traffic dangerous in itself. However, drinking also limits a person’s mental faculties. In addition to the physical effects of alcohol, intoxicated persons experience loss of judgment and a decreased ability to perform two tasks at once. In other words, a drunk person makes more bad decisions than a sober person, but is less capable of handling the consequences.

For example, a pedestrian may leave a bar with a group of friends headed to the night’s next destination. The group has a boisterous conversation and is quite unaware of their surroundings. The leader of the group walks backwards in order to see everyone. Although he is aware that a crosswalk is coming up, his brain has trouble processing risk, and he does not stop to determine whether he has the right of way. Crossing without a second thought, the pedestrian is hit by a driver with a green light who thought the pedestrian would stop at the edge of the sidewalk.

To prevent such tragedies, pedestrians who plan on drinking should find a friend to look out for their safety and might consider taking a taxi or public transportation instead of walking. Drivers should never assume that a pedestrian will yield to an oncoming car and should approach crosswalks with caution.

California Vehicle Code Section 21950 gives the right of way to pedestrians in marked crosswalks and at unmarked intersections. The statute places a heavy burden on drivers of vehicles. Despite having the right of way at a green light, drivers are still responsible for slowing down at intersections for bold or inattentive pedestrians who challenge the light. The statute imposes a duty on drivers to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian in a marked crosswalk and at intersections. Pedestrians also have the duty of using due care to ensure their own safety, and they are admonished not to walk into the path of oncoming vehicles. However, the statute also provides that the pedestrian’s duty to act in a safe manner does not relieve any driver’s duty to exercise due care. Drivers who are not reasonably cautious may find themselves fully or partially liable for the costs of an accident for breaching the duty imposed by California Vehicle Code Section 21950.

Finally, December is the darkest month in the United States and low visibility increases the chance of pedestrian fatalities on days like New Year’s Eve. The Brod Law Firm encourages pedestrians and drivers to remain prudent and to plan their night ahead of time to limit exposure to dangerous situations. Revelers can celebrate at a hotel, hand their car key over to a trustworthy friend, and keep a taxi’s number on hand.

Continue reading "New Year’s Eve Has the Highest Instances of Pedestrian Fatalities" »

Oakland Accident Law Firm Comments on San Jose Pedestrian Fatality

December 7, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Marking a sad milestone, The Oakland Tribune reported on the twentieth pedestrian or bicyclist fatality to occur this year in San Jose. As your Oakland personal injury law firm, we are particularly dismayed to note that this pedestrian death comes only a week after a cyclist was killed on the very same road.

The victim, a 34 year-old man whose name has not been released, was killed Monday evening. He was crossing a busy stretch of road just south of downtown Jose near where Monterrey Highway and Old Tully Road intersect. It is unclear whether he was in a marked crosswalk when he was hit and killed by a Toyota Tundra. The female driver did remain at the scene and alcohol does not appear to have been a factor in the crash. As of the time of the Tribune’s report, the driver had not been arrested or identified. highway.png

Although it is unclear whether the pedestrian in this accident was utilizing a crosswalk, the Oakland pedestrian accident attorney at The Brod Law Firm wants to remind readers that California law requires that drivers yield to pedestrians in a marked crosswalk. This rule also applies at unmarked crosswalks at our intersections. Pedestrians are required to exercise caution and the law does prohibit a pedestrian from suddenly leaving the sidewalk or otherwise stepping into the path of automobile traffic. However, the law does place the bulk of responsibility on drivers to prevent the injury or death of a pedestrian who is using appropriate precautions. While the law does prohibit pedestrians from crossing roads outside of intersections or marked crosswalks, that does not alleviate the duty of all drivers to be alert for pedestrians and exercise care at all times.

California is well-known for its driving-centered culture. At the Brod Law Firm, we believe that drivers have a strong responsibility to obey the law and drive responsibly. We also believe in the continued efforts of our state and our Northern California towns to create roadways that are safe for all of our residents. As your Oakland car accident lawyers, we know that automobile accidents are a very real part of life in our region but believe that the numbers can be reduced. We urge our local and state officials to make safety a priority. Well-marked crosswalks, appropriate speed limits, and a continued emphasis on preventing driver distraction can help prevent pedestrian injuries and deaths. We also support research studies aimed at finding the very best ways to protect our residents. These are studies that might have initial costs but will ultimately lead to economic savings and, more importantly, can save lives.

Pedestrian accidents are tragic, as are other automobile-related accidents that cause injury and death. We recognize that the aftermath of an accident is difficult for surviving victims and the loved ones of an individual whose life is lost. We encourage victims to seek emotional support in the difficult days after an accident. The legal system cannot undo an accident, but it can help victims or their families recover damages. If you or someone you love is injured in a Northern California car accident, please contact the Brod Law Firm team for help. In most of our personal injury cases, we do operate on a contingency fee and we do not get paid unless we help you recover. We work with victims in Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, and throughout the Northern California region.

We advocate for prevention first but accidents do happen and we are here to help.

See Related Blog Posts:
The Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrians in San Francisco
Guilty Plea in Fatal Hit-And-Run: The Aftermath of a Pedestrian Fatality

Guilty Plea in Fatal Hit-And-Run: The Aftermath of a Pedestrian Fatality

December 2, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

At the Brod Law Firm, we are attorneys for Oakland car accident victims. We represent individuals injured in Oakland car crashes and those who lose a loved one in an automobile crash throughout Northern California. Sadly, car crashes continue to impact the lives of too many innocent residents of our region. The Oakland Tribune reported on one such tragedy this week bringing attention to the sad truth that automobile accidents remain a serious danger.

ped%20sign.pngThe Tribune report focused on the criminal trial of a San Bruno driver who pled guilty this week to a fatal hit-and-run. It was 1:35AM on February 20 when twenty-eight year old Scott Garrigan was killed while crossing Skyline Boulevard near Sharp Park Road. Leonard Nierras Tobilla, 58, hit Garrigan and then left the scene. Tobilla did not pull over and did not immediately call the police but did call his insurance company when he arrived home. The company advised him to return to the scene and Tobilla turned himself into authorities about 40 minutes later. His blood alcohol level was elevated at .06 but was below the legal limit of .08. The initial charges included a DUI count which was later changed to reckless driving involving alcohol. A second driver also hit Garrigan after the first crash, fleeing the scene and turning himself in four days later. This driver was not charged with a crime although it is not clear which impact caused the fatality. Reports indicate that the area was dark with no crosswalk in the vicinity and that the victim had a .23 blood alcohol level at the time of his death.

Statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the number of pedestrian fatalities in vehicle accidents declined steadily between 2005 and 2009. Despite our driving-centered culture, California’s overall pedestrian fatality rate (fatal accidents per 100,000 population) is lower than the national average. While these numbers show positive trends and show that most Californians are responsible drivers, every fatality represents a very real individual and every fatal accident is a tragedy. These numbers also do not include accidents resulting in non-fatal injury to pedestrians, accidents that are significantly more common. Non-fatal pedestrian accidents can have a very real, and sometimes quite severe, impact on the victim.

The days following any automobile accident are difficult. The period after a fatal pedestrian crash are emotional for the family of the deceased. A non-fatal is often followed by a difficult medical journey to recover as well as emotional trauma for the victim. Although a criminal investigation will be initiated by police and the district attorney, reaching out to an experienced Oakland lawyer for car accident victims is crucial. The civil system can help victims or surviving loved ones recover damages for their losses, something that cannot occur in criminal court.

Seeking compensation after an accident is NOT about greed. It is about obtaining the compensation that the law provides, compensation that can help an injured pedestrian or the surviving loved ones of a deceased victim begin the journey of recovery. We are proud Oakland personal injury attorneys because we believe in helping victims recover. The Brod Law Firm does this work because our hearts go out to victims, like the loved ones Garrigan left behind. We want to help and we can help, but only if the victim’s reach out to us. If you or a loved one was the victim of a car crash, please contact us for a free consultation. Most of these cases are handled on a contingency basis so you will not pay attorney’s fees unless we successfully help you recover.

See Related Blog Posts:
Outer Mission Pedestrian Accident Takes Life of San Francisco Man
The Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrians in San Francisco


Disabled Person Seriously Injured in San Francisco Intersection

October 31, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

A person in a wheelchair suffered life-threatening injuries Saturday morning after being hit by a pickup truck in a South of Market intersection, San Francisco police said. Most drivers on Harrison waited for the wheelchair to cross, but the driver of a Toyota pickup truck pulled forward and struck the victim, who was in the closest crosswalk, according to one report. People in a crosswalk have the right-of-way even when the light for cross-traffic turns green. Both drivers and walkers need to obey traffic laws to avoid stiff penalties. Motorists who fail to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk can face a $212 fine. Likewise, pedestrians who cross against a red light can be issued a $108 citation. To avoid accidents, drivers should avoid using cell phones to talk or text while driving, and pedestrians should look for cars even when they have the right-of-way. CC Section 21950 describes pedestrian right-of way:

21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.
(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.


The SOMA district where the accident occurred is notorious for its dangerous intersections and has the highest incidents of fatalities and injuries. The injury that happened Saturday is a good example of how dangerous our intersections are. Have you notice how many of SOMA’s streets look and feel like four lane mini freeways? And doesn’t it feel like you are risking your life trying to cross them? I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen pedestrians begin to cross at an intersection and then have to turn around and head back to the curb because light changed to quickly or because a car was speeding through the intersection. At the same time, as a driver, I have had to slam on the brakes many times in order to avoid hitting someone who walked into the middle of a busy SOMA street without looking. Whether you travel by foot or car, navigating San Francisco requires care and vigilance for the sake of pedestrians, especially the disabled.

Pedestrian safety in the SOMA district gets a lot of lip service for the fact that it does have some of the most dangerous intersections. A 2007 SFMTA Collision Report studied the number of intersection auto collisions with pedestrians and cyclists and found that six of the ten intersections with the most collisions are located in this district. The reason this seems to be so, in our minds, is because most streets in SOMA connect drivers who want to enter and exit local freeways. As such, SOMA’s streets have many speeding cars and large trucks, which are not compatible with pedestrians. Also, the booming development of housing and business in that area has caused its population to grow, along with that the area has seen a rise in accidents. Sadly, pedestrians are often hit in this thriving district as drivers negligently travel toward their destinations. But don’t forget accidents can occur when a pedestrian is distracted—and that pedestrian safety is a two-way street!.

Continue reading "Disabled Person Seriously Injured in San Francisco Intersection" »

Outer Mission Pedestrian Accident Takes Life of San Francisco Man

October 6, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

All big cities are filled with a hustle and bustle throughout the day as cars, bikes, trolleys, buses, and pedestrians move about the streets as residents go about their business. The energy created by so much activity is exactly what draws many people to these urban areas. However, our San Francisco pedestrian accident lawyer knows that it the commotion on our streets can also be dangerous for those caught up in traveling accidents. For too often local drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians suffer serious injuries or even death after crashes on and near our local roadways. crosswalk.jpg

That appears to be what happened earlier this week to Sulpicio Jimenez, a 57-year old resident of San Francisco’s Outer Mission neighborhood. According to reports in the San Francisco Chronicle, the man was on foot crossing Mission Street near Excelsior Avenue shortly before seven in the evening when he was struck by a car. Local emergency crews rushed to the scene and the man was taken to a local hospital. However, there was little that could be done, and the man ultimately passed away from his injuries. Authorities are still investing this San Francisco car accident, and no arrests or other citations have been issued yet.

There are still too many unknowns about this latest tragedy to understand what legal issues might be involved. However, far too often drivers fail to recognize that they owe a duty of care to those pedestrians who are traveling nearby. Tens of thousands of pedestrians are injured or killed near roadways every year. More than other traveling incidents, San Francisco pedestrian accidents often involve particularly serious harm to those involved because walkers have no protection. A car does not have to be traveling very fast for it to cause immense damage to a pedestrian in its crosshairs.

The particular vulnerabilities of those who travel by foot are exactly why certain legal protections have been enacted by our legislature in an attempt to make our roadways safer for travelers. For example, it is illegal in our state to operate a car while using a cell phone. In addition, all drivers must yield the right of way to those in crosswalks, even when they are unmarked at an intersection. Drivers who violate these laws and hit those walking nearby are likely liable for the injuries that they cause. Our San Francisco car accident attorneys have worked on many cases where vehicles have negligently hit pedestrians. There are a wide variety of causes of these accidents, but upon close examination they can often be traced back to drivers who fail to abide by reasonable standard of care.

Most victims of these accidents and their families have a vague idea that they have a legal right to file a claim when another mistake led to their harm. However, many residents remain unsure about what they should do to protect those rights. To complicate things even more, insurance companies often get involved right away before some victims are able to determine what course of action is in their best interest. In virtually all cases it is beneficial to have seek the advice of a legal professional as soon as possible. There is no denying that the laws regarding pedestrian accidents can be confusing, and no local resident should go it alone.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

The Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrians in San Francisco

Strong San Francisco Pedestrian Advocacy Needed: One Pedestrian Death is One Too Many

The Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrians in San Francisco

September 16, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Over the past two weeks a few serious pedestrian accidents occurred at different intersections in San Francisco. The first occurred last week in Duboce Triangle. A 59-year-old man, was struck and fatally injured by an SUV as he was crossing the street in that area. He was resident of the mission district, was a regular in the neighborhood where he was fatally injured, and, according to his friends, he was a beloved member of that community. Police stated that the driver of the SUV was not cited and that he stopped after the crash and cooperated with investigators. Also last week, a mother was walking with two children southbound on Third Street at Williams Street at around 3:30pm. She had one child next to her and her five-year-old was following behind her as they crossed the street. As they were crossing private shuttle bus was driving eastbound on Williams Street and stuck the5-year-old boy as it turned right onto Third Street. He was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. The shuttle bus had one passenger who was not injured and the driver of the bus cooperated with the investigation. And this week, a pedestrian suffered suffered injuries after being struck by a car near the Haight-Ashbury district. The accident happened around midnight at the intersection of Page and Divisadero streets. The pedestrian was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.


These accidents should be a reminder that of all the potential hazards to pedestrians, it is intersections that are riskiest of all. The major problem with intersections is that they are unanticipated or sudden requirement, and, in general, they are considered a necessary inconvenience by drivers. As a result drivers are not always patient and cautious when they reach them. What is more, most people feel intersections are an obstacle they feel forced to negotiate. Think about the psychology involved: Every person who arrives at an intersection is heading different directions with different purposes, and all trying to quickly get through on their way to their desired destination. For this reason, collisions regularly happen at intersections. So it is important for everyone who approaches an intersections become hyper vigilant, especially pedestrians. The following is a nice long list of tips for getting through intersections safely:
• Drivers need to remember that the law requires drivers to stop once someone has entered the crosswalk.
• A red light does not guarantee that vehicles will stop.
• drivers and pedestrians make eye contact with each other.
• Drivers should always yield to pedestrians at an intersection.
• When making a left turn, always yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic.
• Leave enough space between your car and the one in front.
• Leave early, allowing extra travel time in case of delays.
• Remember: yellow lights mean stop unless it’s unsafe to do so.
• Look for—and expect to see-pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles.
• Don’t make any sudden moves that might confuse another driver—or a cyclist or pedestrian.
• If you haven’t just seen the traffic light up ahead turn green, be ready to stop in case it changes to yellow.
• Always check your mirrors and look around. Slow down well in advance.
• Only go through a yellow light if it is unsafe to stop.
• Check the pedestrian signals—at most crosswalks the signal will change from a white figure to an red hand just before the light turns yellow, or will show how many seconds are left before the traffic light will change.
• Make sure you are always in the correct lane before a turn.
• Don’t change lanes in an intersection.
• Always use your turn signals well before you make a move, as it helps other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians know what you are doing.
• If you’re the first car to stop—make sure you remain behind the crosswalk.
• Ignore aggressive drivers—pay no attention if they’re honking their horns behind you.

Continue reading "The Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrians in San Francisco" »

Strong San Francisco Pedestrian Adovacy Needed: One Pedestrian Death is One Too Many

August 22, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Last Friday a MUNI bus struck and killed a pedestrian, according to sfgate.com. The crash occurred at 18th and Hartford around 2:30pm. It was unusual because there is not a bus route on Hartford Street. The bus was sent there from another place to act as a shuttle and ease commuter congestion on the F-line. The driver is undergoing routine drug and alcohol tests. Acting as a shuttle. The unidentified victim was described as being between 25 and 30 years old.

Our own observations of pedestrian accidents and our understanding of the research regarding the subject, has shown us that most pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas where there is a concentrated amount pedestrian activity. Therefore it makes sense that pedestrian deaths occur most often in urban settings, even if there seems to be a higher ratio of deaths to injuries in rural areas due to higher speeds on rural roads and limited access to trauma centers. Strange as it may sound, the most common crash scenario involves pedestrians crossing in front of a passenger vehicle that is traveling straight, which typically occurs in daylight and roads with speed limits below 40mph. What does make sense is that the majority of pedestrian deaths occur when it is dark or twilight and at locations other than intersections, where vehicle speeds may be higher and drivers do not expect to have to stop.

Usually, pedestrians are struck by the front of a vehicle. The outcome of such a situation depends on a few factors, which include the speed of the vehicle and how tall the pedestrian is. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle the initial contact tends to be with the bumper and/or the front edge of the hood, depending on the type of vehicle. When pedestrians are struck by larger, higher vehicles such SUVs or buses, the impact is higher on the body and typically leads serious injuries and higher risk of death. It is very easy for a bus to completely run over a person’s entire body in an instant at slow speed. Common driver errors that contribute to pedestrian accidents include disregarding a crosswalk, meaning drivers not paying attention to crosswalks, or at other points of an intersection or roadway, thereby creating significant risk of an accident.

We agree with pedestrian advocates when they propose extending the signal time available for pedestrians to cross at intersections as a way of reducing pedestrian accidents, especially for older pedestrians. Studies has found that providing pedestrians a 3-second head start through a leading pedestrian interval, a signal that allows pedestrians to begin crossing before the release of turning vehicles, reduces incidents between pedestrians and turning vehicles. Here in our own city we are proud of Walk SF, our pedestrian advocacy group, and hope this current MUNI accident strengthens and furthers their efforts to make San Francisco one of the most walkable cities in the country, as well as spur their goals of activism and influencing of public policy advocacy.

Continue reading "Strong San Francisco Pedestrian Adovacy Needed: One Pedestrian Death is One Too Many " »

New Crosswalk for a Dangerous San Francisco Intersection, and Other Issues Regarding Road Improvements

July 28, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Apropos our last blog, we would like to comment on other safety improvements created for San Francisco’s streets. Monday of this week, SFMTA crews have installed new continental crosswalks at the intersection of Harrison and Main streets, and the pedestrian countdown signals have been timed to give pedestrians a four second head start, according to a report by streetsblog.org. The report points out it has been seven years since advocates in Rincon Hill began lobbying the agency for changes following the death of retired sf state journalism professor Beverley Keyes (see: our blog on that particular accident). Harrison and main is notorious for being one of the more dangerous intersections in the city, and drivers often lose their patience at that spot, as it serves as four-lane westbound throughfare for people headed in that dirction, and there is a fifth eastbound lane that carries 12,000 drivers daily, most of whom are strictly headed to the bay bridge. Drivers routinely speed and block the crosswalk as they crawl towards their destinations. Three people have died there since 2003, and many others have been injured.

We are lucky that city officials are paying attention to the need for safety improvements and are figuring out ways, fiscally, to make them happen. But what about the rest of the country? We found some insight into that question in separate report by streetsblog.org that highlights the fact our country’s roads, bridges and transit systems are deteriorating, the effects of which are gradual and difficult to detect, and describes what will happen if government fails to act and spend money on the problem. As a result, we would like to share what we learned. According to the report, if government decides to defer maintenance costs, it will cost families and businesses directly. To be more specific, damaged roads lead to damaged private and commercial vehicles, and extra miles driven to avoid congested roadways lead to more money spent on gas, and unreliable roads lead to unreliable transit and commercial trucking routes, which will ultimately lead to diminished productivity becuase people won't arrive to work on time. And, if spending costs are reduced by a third, as Rep. John Mica has proposed, then by 2040 efficiency related losses are expected to directly result in the loss of 400,000 jobs. On top of that, if current investment trends stay the same, then by 2020 businesses would need to pay an extra $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by $7,000 and U.S. exports would fall by $28 billion.

So it makes sense when economic experts proclaim that reducing infrastructure spending to ease the debt crisis will make the crisis worse than it already is, and that whether we borrow money or defer maintenance, either way, we would be transferring that cost on future generations. But the failure to do nothing will definitely erode our nation’s economy further, hurt our global economic competitiveness and degrade the quality of life for all. In this situation, less is definitely not more. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out, as there is no easy solution.

Continue reading "New Crosswalk for a Dangerous San Francisco Intersection, and Other Issues Regarding Road Improvements" »

Safety Improvements Scheduled for San Francisco Streets

July 26, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Last week the SFMTA approved a measure to lower speed limits on Harrison and Bryant Streets from 30 mph to 24 mph, according to a report by streetsblog.org. We think that is a great idea and would like to point out a few impotant bits of information from that report. It turns out that pedestrian crashes are reported to be the most highly concentrated in this area. Last year, 240 people were injured and four were killed on SOMA’s streets—a situation that proves costly to the city. The Department of Public Health reported that the average price of admitting an injured pedestrian to the hospital is nearly $80,000, of which 76% is paid by public funds, and that at least 20 percent of pedestrian crashes go unreported. Hopefully this measure will improve safety in the area without costing the SFMTA too much, as they have less than $1 million in revenue available to them each year for pedestrian improvement projects, which, as they always claim, is their biggest hurdle. Other projects, like the proposed 15 mph school zone pilot, have been on hold as the agency waits for grants to do study and implementation. Lack of proper funding has been such an impediment to safety improvements, as well as good old fashioned bureaucracy, that the agency hopes to create change with the help of community groups and other city agencies, not just government funding, just like what took place for Cesar Chavez Street improvements.

Earlier this year, also according to streetsblog.org, the SFMTA approved a blue print to improve safety project on Cesar Chavez street, a project that had been in the works for five years and was created by the department of Public Works, the Public utilities Commission, and the SFMTA. They all worked together to build the project, and, for the all those who participated, it proved to be a powerfully inspiring example of what can happen when community groups band together. The safety plan includes cost-efficient features, such as bike lanes, a landscaped median, and sidewalk bulb-outs, as well as sewer pipe and lighting projects that have already been planned by the PUC. The changes will no doubt be a welcome sight for cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, and residents alike, as that stretch of road has been dangerous and unsightly for years, and was just becoming worse. Construction on the street portion of the plan is scheduled for the fall. New speed limits along the Embarcadero to 13th street at Harrison and the Embarcadero to 11th street at Bryant are also expected to receive approval from the SFTA in the near future.

With two to three people being hit by cars every day on San Francisco Streets, these changes are likely going to save lives and ease the economic toll from injury accidents. Pedestrian accidents alone have racked up millions of dollars worth of bills for injuries, and, as a consequence, advocates have urged safety measures be taken immediately. Residents can no longer afford to pay the price for living in a district with lacking safety conditions. San Francisco has been celebrated for being a walking city, but how can that be if you are four times more likely to die walking than if you are driving? Hopefully, the upcoming safety projects lower those statistics and help make walking safely in the city a reality for everyone.

Continue reading "Safety Improvements Scheduled for San Francisco Streets" »

A Cyclist Injurs a Pedestrian--Not the Usual Type of San Francisco Bicycle Accident

July 19, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Last week a cyclist ran a red light on the Embarcadero and hit a pedestrian, sending her to the hospital with a life threatening head injury. The cyclist was not injured and has not been cited or arrested for the infraction. The police may or may not file charges, as the investigation is pending. Here in California cyclists face the same potential legal repercussions a driver of a car involved in a car accident might face, if they were found to be responsible. Albie Esparza, the officer on the scene, pointed out cyclists need to remember to stop at every stop sign and every stop light, as they are considered a motor vehicle, with the human being acting as the motor. He also pointed out, in not so many words, that while officers do conduct traffic stops on cyclists, it just isn’t practical to go after a cyclist every time they commit infraction.

Often we hear about pedestrians who have been injured by cars, but few pedestrians are injured by cyclists. This kind of thing, however rare it may be, can happen to any cyclist and pedestrian at any moment. In their fight for their right to share on the road, some cyclists have forgotten the bigger picture: that everyone has the right expect others to follow the rules of the road and that drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians need to look out for each other. At the same time, however, the rules of safety on the road go both ways-- both drivers and non drivers need to be aware of traffic. It is true that pedestrians need to learn how to walk defensively in this city, as sidewalks are occupied by not just pedestrians. They are home to rollerbladers, skateboarders, scooters, and even segways. And the intersections between sidewalks include not only cars—there are bicycles, skateboarders, and scooters there, too. Pedestrians need to look out for their own safety and not assume cars and bicyclist are paying attention. It would be wise for all pedestrians in San Francisco to adapt situational awareness everywhere they walk. It is important for pedestrians to stay out of a driver’s blind spot, make eye contact with drivers when crossing busy streets, and cross the street only when it is safe, not only when the signal tells your or when you have the right of way. Keeping things in perspective is key. It doesn’t matter if you have the right of way when an inattentive driver comes along and runs over you. Being right isn’t always point out there in the streets. Staying alive is.

Continue reading "A Cyclist Injurs a Pedestrian--Not the Usual Type of San Francisco Bicycle Accident" »

Sacramento-San Francisco Train Accident Attorney Comments on BART Incident

July 1, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Yesterday, a woman lying the tracks at Glen Park Station escaped with minor injuries after a train traveling at 30mph passed over her, according sfexaminer.com. Bart police shut down the station during the morning commute to determine how the woman managed to get on the tracks. The spokesman for Bart said that a train operator tried to slow down when he saw the woman standing up on the Glen Park tracks at around 8:15 a.m. The woman managed to lie flat on her back as the train traveled over her. Seven train cars passed over before she was able to climb up out of the tracks. When BART police found her she was covered in soot and distraught, but without major injuries. The woman was not a disabled or blind passenger. She went to the hospital for evaluation of her injuries. As a result of the incident, passengers traveling in all directions experienced major delays yesterday.

It is astonishing that the woman walked away without any major injuries. There has been several train accidents involving pedestrians in the Bay Area this year, and those victims were not as lucky. Common injuries from train accidents include brain injury, spinal cord injury, broken bones and fractures, internal organ damage, and death. Train accidents involving pedestrians usually occur because people, for whatever reason, either purposefully or by accident, wander onto train property and rights-of-way.

If you or someone you know sustained an injury related to a BART accident, or any other form of public transportation, please contact our firm for a free consultation. After sustaining a personal injury in accident involving BART or other public transportation, you want to make sure to hire an experienced personal injury attorney, as different municipal transportation case has different insurance procedures. Here at the Brod Law Firm we will be there to guide you through the process, make sure your rights are protected, and make it easy help you get the compensation you deserve.


San Francisco-Oakland Pedestrian Accident Attorney Comments on Recent Pedestrian Accidents in San Francisco

June 20, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to different reports put out over the past week by sfexaminer.com , a few traffic collisions sent many to the emergency room. The most recent occurred over the weekend when a man was struck and killed by vehicle at the intersection of 18th and Mission streets on Saturday morning. Witnesses say a man driving a minivan fled after hitting the victim at around 10:3a.m. In a separate accident involving a pedestrian, an elderly woman was struck by a mail truck on Saturday morning at the intersection of 19th Avenue and Quintara Street in the Sunset district. She was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Last Monday a paratransit van was broadsided in Bernal Heights that morning, sending eight people to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

When you mix high volumes of traffic and large numbers of pedestrians in the same area, such as we have here in many districts in San Francisco, it is inevitable that someone gets hurt. According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, there were more than 800 collisions involving pedestrians in 2008; pedestrians typically account for half the people killed in traffic collisions in San Francisco; more pedestrians are involved in collisions at intersections, on Fridays, during the month of December between the hours of 3:00p.m. and 6:00p.m; and the leading cause of non-fatal pedestrian injury collisions is motorist failure to yield. Consequently, the SFMTA has begun to implement a variety of measures to improve pedestrian safety, including installing new pedestrian signs, improved crosswalk markings, leading pedestrian signal intervals, pedestrian only signal phases, stop signs, audible pedestrian signals, red zones to improve sight distances, and traffic calming improvements.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury as a pedestrian, please contact our firm for a free consultation today. Our personal injury attorney understands how and why pedestrian accidents occur and is prepared to put the law on your side. After an accident, it is important that you contact our firm promptly so that we can act quickly to protect your rights.

San Francisco-Oakland Attorney Comments on Dangerous Intersections in San Francisco

June 17, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According The Bay Citizen, earlier this week seniors were protesting at a dangerous intersection in San Francisco, the intersction at Third Street and Yosmite Street. On Wednesday of this week, a group of seniors stood at the intersection and held protest signs, demanding more senior-friendly crossings in all of San Francisco, not just that one. In fact, that intersection they protested has been the site of just one accident in the last five years, but that does not change the fact that seniors feel many intersections in the city, like that one, do not allow enough time for seniors to cross. All along Third Street it is dangerous to cross. Most seniors who cross third street only make it to the median, which is just a cement sliver in between tow sets of Muni tacks where the T-Train travels.

The protest comes on the heels of a national report that found seniors and minorities were the most likely to be hit and killed while walking on the strets. The study found that ove the past decade there were nearly 7,000 pedestrian deaths in California, and nearly 700 in San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont. A spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says that crosswalk times are set by federal guidelines based on the length of the crosswalk and the type of intersection. He said that the agency has no plans to change the signal time. The signal at the Third Street intersection gives 20 seconds for pedestrians to cross five lanes of traffic, not an easy task for some seniors. Needless to say, many seniors are aftraid of crossing the street, regardless of the statistics and federal guidelines. Simply put, it is dangerous for them to cross large, busy intersections, and they risk their lives when they do.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to crossing at an unsafe intersection, please contact our qualified pedestrian accident attorney for a free consultation. Our firm has over 10 years experience representing injured pedestrians of all ages and helping them receive the compensation they deserve.

San Francisco Attorney Discusses Safety Measures in District 6, at Main and Harrison

June 13, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to streetsblog, on December 10, 2004, as Katie Liddell was walking to her Portside apartment at Harrison and Main in Ricon Hill, she noticed emergency vehicles surrounding the intersection near there. As she approached, she came upon a terrifying scene: her neighbor had been hit and killed, and lie in the middle of the street with a tarp covering her body. The force of the big rig truck had thrown 63-year-old Beverly Kees out of the cross walk so violently that the impact killed her. Kees was a SF State journalism professor who had recently retired and lived across the street from Liddell in the Bay Crest Towers. The dog she had been walking was also hit and injured. It turns out that Kee’s doctor told her that she needed to walk more, so she asked her neighbor if she could walk her dog. Her neighbor walks a lot too and feels, like most San Franciscans who enjoy walking in the city, that pedestrians are considered an inconvenience.

The intersection of Harrison and Main is the kind of place that is dangerous in the one of the city’s densest neighbor hoods. Harrison serves as a four-lane westbound thoroughfare that carries 12,600 drivers daily, most of whom are headed to the bay bridge. During peak-hour traffic, drivers are continually seen speeding and blocking the crosswalk. Three people have died there since 2003, and many others have been injured. Voters are expected to vote on a street bond measure in November. If they approve the bond measure, some of that money will be directed to pedestrian safety improvements in District 6. The SFMTA is also planning some engineering measures that they expect to improve Harrison and Main, which include:
• A head start for pedestrians crossing Harrison Street.
• The flashing red hand will now count down from 15 seconds instead of the current 9 seconds for pedestrians.
• Painting white continental crosswalks at the intersection.
• Pursuing legislation for No U-Turns for eastbound Harrison Street at Main Street.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we fully support any effort to change a dangerous, traffic clogged neighborhood and make it better for everyone, especially the pedestrains who reside there. We hope to see some positive changes soon. Every neighborhood needs this kind of advocacy and change. For now it remains a small step in terms of improving the quality of life in San Francisco neighborhoods, but it speaks volumes in terms of city officials waking up to the need for change. If you have been injured in an accident in San Francisco, please contact our firm for a free consultation. Whether you were injured while walking, driving, or cycling, our personal injury attorney has the experience to handle any type of claim. We have over 10 years experience helping injured clients successfully settle their claims, and we will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve.

Caltrain Strikes and Kills a Man

April 8, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Yesterday, a southbound Caltrain struck and killed a man in San Mateo Thursday morning, according to the San Francisco Examiner. Train No. 198 left San Francisco station at 12:01 a.m. and hit the pedestrian on the tracks about 100 yards north of 25th Avenue at around 1am. Authorities are investigating how the man ended up on the tracks. There were 62 passengers on the train at the time of the incident, which continued southbound shortly after 2 a.m. and made all scheduled stops.

When a train accident occurs and you are injured or a family member is injured or killed, you may think that seeking monetary damages is an inadequate form of compensation, but monetary compensation can help pay for the medical bills and living needs of the train accident victim’s family. Victims injured by a train need to prove, with the aid of an attorney, that the defendants failed to act in a carful manner when they had a duty to do so and that the accident caused their injuries. Since each train crash is different, and each victim’s injuries and losses are unique, the types of damages available in each train crash will be different. An attorney can help you decide which kind of damages you should seek, such as medical bills and health care costs, future health care costs, property damage, impaired earning capacity, lost wages, pain and suffering, life care, and wrongful death. And because each train accident is unique, as they can have a single cause or multiple causes, a qualified and experienced attorney can decipher, with the help of accident reconstructionists, engineers and other experts, all the parties that can be held liable for a victim’s injuries.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we have litigated and settled a large number of personal injury claims on our clients’ behalf, and we are able put our legal expertise to work on any personal injury case, including train accidnets. If you or a family member suffered an injury due to the negligence of another, please contact our firm. Our firm will work hard on your claim to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries, and we will fight on your behalf in court when a settlement is not possible

San Francisco-Oakland Car Accident Attorney Comments on a Case of Road Rage in San Francisco

March 14, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to SFWeekly, a speeding driver suffering from a bout of road rage beat a woman and her boyfriend walking through the Excelsior neighborhood earlier this week. Early that morning, the couple was walking across the street at Persia Avenue and Madrid Street when a driver speeding in a green car sped passed them. The woman looked at the driver and yelled out “whoa.” Then the driver made a U-turn, stopped the car, got out, and started beating the woman. The passenger of the car also jumped in on the attack and began punching the woman. The victim’s boyfriend tried to help her, but the men punched him and broke his nose. Both suspects got back into the car and sped off. But the best part of the story is what happened next, an incident of sweet justice that underlines the fact that many criminals are not so smart: one of the men left his driver’s license and DMV papers on the street where the beating occurred. Amazingly, at that moment, the couple still had their wits about them, and they were able to grab the papers and call the police, who were able to broadcast the name of one of the suspects. Both men were quickly found and arrested. The cops described the incident as “the best arrest of the day.”

The inability to handle anger, and/or deflect it, is usually the major factor behind road rage. More often than not, the typical road rager may be violent in other parts of his or her life, and exhibit one or all of the following personality traits—selfish, addicted to power, angry, and vindictive. But sometimes just the tension of a daily commute can turn a normally calm person into a road rager. Whatever the case may be, it is obvious that there is a need for anger management on the roads so that fewer drivers and pedestrians are victimized. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we heard many stories of car accidents that were either the direct or indirect result of road rage. If you or loved one suffered an injury due to a car accident, contact our firm for a free consultation today.


Oakland-San Francisco Accident Attorney Comments on Train Accidnets

February 1, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Last Saturday a train hit a truck in Watsonville at Kirby and Elkhorn road just after 1pm. The engineer did try to apply the emergency system to bring the train to a stop, but there was not enough time to do so. The train ended up hitting the truck at approximately 50 miles per hour. Both people in the pick-up died at the scene. Nobody on the train was hurt. The specific cause of the collision is still under investigation, but CHP said the driver wasn’t speeding and doesn’t believe she was under the influence.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis (FRAOSA), Highway-rail and trespassing incidents account for 95.46% of all fatalities, and highway-rail incidents represent 17.73% of all reported events. As defined by the FRAOSA, a highway-rail incident is any impact between a rail and a highway user at a crossing site, regardless of severity and includes motor vehicles and other highway/roadway/sidewalk users at both public and private crossings. In 2010, there were 1817 incidents, 245 fatalities and 751 nonfatal incidents at crossings, and 428 fatalities and 351 incidents at non-crossings.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we are usually surprised by reports of train-crossing accidents, as it is hard to comprehend how a train could sneak up on someone. However train accidents, such as the one that happened over the weekend, and the above statistics prove that they happen more than one would think, which underlies the need for learning life-saving practices to help avoid a collision with a train. The following are a few safety tips to keep in mind the next time you approach a railroad crossing:
• Never drive around a crossing gate that is down
• If you drive into the crossing and the gate behind you comes down, keep driving, even if that means you have to break the crossing gate in front of you.
• Remember that any time is train time.
• Always listen and look both ways twice at a crossing.
• It is your responsibility to avoid a train since it can not avoid you
• Don’t be fooled by train distance--a train is always moving faster and is much closer than you think.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries due to a collision with train, contact our firm. We have over ten years experience helping victims of train accidents receive the compensation they deserve.

Okland-San Francisco Injury Attorney Comments on Pedestrian Accidents in San Francisco

January 6, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to sfexaminer.com, on average, 22 pedestrians are killed each year in San Francisco and 800 are injured, which means over two walkers are hurt every day on city streets. Almost 50 percent of all traffic deaths in San Francisco are pedestrians, an amount more than four times the national average. Pedestrian accidents in San Francisco cost the city millions every year. To address this point, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an executive directive that outlines goals to cut down serious traffic injuries and fatalities 25 percent by 2016, and 50 percent by 2021.

The directive states nine short-term goals, one of which includes a plan to reduce speed limits in school zones to 15 mph, the threshold for which pedestrians can struck by a car and survive, according to Walk SF. The directive also orders new approaches to secure funding for traffic-calming projects, stronger emphasis of pedestrian realms in all planning projects, and increased outreach with community organizations. Newsom is also creating a new Pedestrian Safety Task Force, which will be comprised of officials from SFMTA, the Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Police Department and other city agencies. He also wants a coordinated Citywide Pedestrian Action Plan to be established within 12 months.

Considering the fact that pedestrians account for about half the people killed in traffic collisions in San Francisco, it goes without saying that spending time and money to prevent such accidents is time and money well spent. At the same time this new directive will ultimately save the city money, money it usually spends to settle accident claims--it is estimated that collisions on San Francisco Streets cost the city $280 million a year, or about $350 per resident per year. Included in those costs are medical care, property damage, insurance expenses and loss of income. If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a collision on the street, please contact our firm. We have over 10 experience winning injured pedestrians the compensation they deserve.


Oakland-San Francisco Attorney Comments on Dangerous Intersections

November 19, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

According to streetsblog.com, surveillance video from a Tenderloin market shows a 65-year-old woman, who clearly had the right of way, in the crosswalk on Geary Boulevard and Leavenworth Street Wednesday afternoon when the driver of a UCSF shuttle bus loaded with passengers made a left turn onto Geary and struck and killed her. Suman Dhakal, who works at Star Market on the southeast corner, played the video for streetsblog before turning it over to SFPD investigators. It looks like it’s the driver’s fault from the shop video, because the light was a green and the woman was right in front of the bus. Dhakal said he thought that the driver was not paying attention, but, from looking at the video, it looks like he should have seen the lady.

What is particularly grim about this accident is the driver hit her once and then, perhaps out of fear, panic, and confusion, backed up and hit her again. Elizabeth Stampe, the executive director of Walk SF, said that the intersection of Geary and Leavenworth has been a troublesome spot for years. Dhakal said that he sees minor crashes and near misses on a daily basis. Most intersections like this one, intersections where a pedestrian walks alongside fast-moving, one-way traffic, are very dangerous indeed. Most drivers forget to slow down when they begin to turn, and slow down only when they see a pedestrian a few inches in front of them, which often leaves little time to safely stop. Like that shop owner at Geary and Leavenworth, you’re likely to see near misses at all these types of intersections. What is needed at intersections like this one is better street design, design that makes pedestrians a top priority and drivers aware.

Whether you have been injured or harmed in a pedestrian accident or whether you are the relative of someone injured as the result of a pedestrian accident caused by a negligent driver, you should seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At the Brod Law Firm we can help you get the compensation that you deserve. It is important to hire an attorney right away after an accident, so that your attorney may take statements from witnesses and have enough time to prepare a solid case. If you are unsure if you have grounds for a claim, please call us for a free consultation.

San Francisco Pedestrian Accident Attorney Comments on Street Safety

August 24, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

Due to the recent bicycle fatality on Masonic Avenue, the pedestrian fatality last month at 19th and Folsom, and all the other numerous dangers pedestrians and cyclists face, pedestrian advocates and city health professionals are urging city leaders to develop a comprehensive action plan for the streets of San Francisco. Just today, a driver coming down a hill in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley neighborhood Tuesday, lost power and her SUV careened out of control, striking five pedestrians near a Muni bus stop. Currently the SFMTA doesn’t have a concrete target for reducing pedestrian collisions, nor a comprehensive plan to reach a target; however, the Sustainable Streets division is dedicated to making San Francisco streets safer for all modes of transportation to co-exist. It has developed a comprehensive action plan, whereby it conducts corridor and program-specific studies and tries to mitigate problem areas like Market and Octavia streets. The agency’s signal re-timing and other engineering work on Valencia Street are a success story. Even though these changes are benefitial, San Francisco needs to push to make it easier to implement changes that benefit both pedestrians and cyclists. Right now, most state departments of transportation, including Caltrans, make it extremely difficult to implement "design exemptions" like slower speed zones, traffic calming, and separated bicycle tracks. Despite the good news, city and state agencies responsible for making the roads safer haven't implemented serious engineering solutions such as putting in traffic circles or more bulb outs at intersections. San Francisco needs to get serious about pedestrian safety and develop a plan and start by targeting the areas with the highest incidences of injury collisions.
According to missionlocal.org, Chris Cochran, a spokesman for the California Office of Traffic Safety, said San Francisco has had a chronic problem with pedestrian safety for years. He said that every year the traffic safety office suggests California cities apply for its pedestrian safety grants and that they usually don’t need to tell San Francisco to apply—San Francisco knows it has a problem. San Francisco ranks first in pedestrian fatalities statewide, with the highest number of deaths each year since 2003, and it’s currently fourth on the national level, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Roughly 48 percent of all fatal collisions in the city involve pedestrians, which is four times higher than the national average of 11.3 percent. At a recent Board of Supervisors meeting the board accepted a $200,000 grant awarded by state traffic safety office to the city health department for citywide pedestrian safety research. The grant will be used to evaluate streets and intersections that are dangerous for pedestrians. The health department will research and develop a list of recommended improvements for pedestrian safety between October 2010 and June 2011. The funds won’t be used to make any physical changes to improve safety in the city, but rather to study key safety improvements to be added to the city’s general plan by September 2011. If you or a loved one has been injured as pedestrian or cyclist, please contact our office. We have the experience to win you the compensation you deserve.


San Francisco Bike Attorney: Bike Accidents with Cars or Trucks

June 22, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

There are multiple California Vehicle Code sections that impose responsibilities on drivers of automobiles with respect to bicyclists. For example, California Vehicle Code § 22107 states: “No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.” In addition, California Vehicle Code § 21801(a) states: “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction (emphasis added) which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.” Finally, though persons riding bicycles are not defined as “pedestrians” under the Vehicle Code, Vehicle Code § 21950(a) requires a driver of a vehicle to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk.

While the laws designed to protect cyclists may govern the fault and responsibility of a driver of a car or truck after an accident, they cannot, however, protect you as a cyclist. That’s why it is important to be as aware of the cars and trucks around you as possible, and to ride defensively. Assume that drivers do not see you, and always wear a helmet. In the event you’re involved in an accident with a car or truck, or even doored, ensure the local police are called so they can document what happened, take witness statements, and get the insurance information of the driver. The most important thing to do after an accident with a car or truck is to monitor your body and seek proper medical treatment for anything that’s bothering you. You should consult an attorney prior to speaking with the insurance company of the driver involved in your accident, though your health, not your legal case or claim for damages, is the most important thing.

At the Brod Law Firm, we have been advocating on behalf of injured cyclists for over ten years, and have helped clients who have suffered minor injuries to catastrophic injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured by the fault of someone else, please contact us for a free consultation.

Imagining Traffic Calming in San Francsico

November 16, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we are big fans of Streetfilms.org, the video segment of the Livable Streets Initiative. Streetfilms produce short on-line videos, covering a range of topics from traffic calming in Paris to Sunday Streets in Bogata, also known as Ciclovia (an event after which San Francisco modeled its Sundaystreets). There is also video posted on Streetsblog that capture street confrontations, such as that between a New York City driver with a serious case of road rage and a pedicab simply trying to make his way through the congested city streets. We find all their videos entertaining and educational, giving us insight, while also keeping us in loop, into how our city compares to other cities in terms of the different ways a city can transform its streets into safe and sustainable places, for both vehicles and non-vehicles, as well as livable, vibrant places for social interaction.
The video on traffic calming in Paris we found especially interesting and inspiring. Some examples of their traffic calming strategies are: curbs are removed so that bikes, pedistrians and cars coexist; on the wider roads, bikes share lanes with buses and taxis; some crosswalks are raised, and cobblestone streets and neckdowns are implemented to slow oncomoing or turning traffic. Street calming is a powerful tool for changing behavior and improving safety, as it forces vehicles and cyclists and pedestrians to tolerate each other. And it is not just Paris, other cities, like Copenhagen, Demark, have been implemented extensive traffic calming techniques. Some cities go further to promote non-vehicle transportation, such as Curitiba, Brazil, where, on Rua XV de Novembro (15th of November Street), all vehicle traffic is blocked and only pedestrians are allowed.
Whenever we take on a new case where a cyclist or pedestrian has been injured by a vehicle, we are reminded that these accidents only reinforce San Francisco’s need for street transformation and street calming. In order for San Francisco to maintain a competitive edge in the global economy and its status as a world class city, it must implement, through education and marketing, strategies that place people over cars and reduce the convenience of driving a car. Advertising campaigns that show the burdens of owning a car in the city often outweigh the benefits can be an effective impetus for change. And we need not look to cities overseas for inspiration; cities here in the U.S., like Portland and Cincinnati, have done an excellent job developing and implementing techniques for traffic calming. If they can do it, then San Francisco can do it. These traffic calming techniques would not only benefit pedestrians and cyclists here in our beautiful city, they would also benefit the entire planet by reducing green house gas emissions.

October 7th, A Day to Consider the Pedestrians of San Francisco

October 6, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

Tomorrow San Francisco will be joining cities from 42 countries around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day. International Walk to School Day aims to create safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists and to emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, reducing traffic congestion and crime in neighborhoods, raising concern for the environment, and building connections between families and schools and the broader community. The biggest challenge facing any pedestrian safety campaign will be to re-educate a culture so centered around and dependent upon using their cars to transport them every place. The US department of Transportation reports:
• On average, 5,000 pedestrians are killed each year.
• 85,000 pedestrians are injured every year.
• In a typical 8-hour workday, 4-5 pedestrians are killed.
• 190 pedestrians are killed every two weeks.
• Everyday about 232 pedestrians are injured.
• Of pedestrians killed, 60 percent are working adults, 23 percent are elderly person aged 65 or older, and 17 percent are children up to the age of 20.
Ever since the introduction of freeways and the creation of zoning laws, Americans have been forced to center their lives around the automobile and automobile ownership. As a consequence, we have forgotten that we are all pedestrians at some point in the day. David Goldberg, an official of Transportation for America, says that “freeways literally have separated the suburbs from the city… and zoning codes separate homes from shops, shops from workplaces, workplaces from schools and schools from neighborhoods.” Here at the Brod Law Firm, we know it won’t be easy sensitizing drivers to the fact that pedestrians are legitimate road users or educating pedestrians on minimizing the risks to their safety, but campaigns such as Walk to School Day are a great way for communities, here and around the globe, to start moving toward their goals. According to Walkscore.com, San Francisco is the most walkable city in America. We may have the most walkable streets(i.e., the city is sectioned by neighborhoods that each have their own grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters etc., and the entire city is small enough that you can walk from end to the other), but we have yet to prove if they are the most pedestrian friendly (i.e., pedestrians are often injured at dangerous intersections).