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Articles Posted in Rollovers

Spride, a provider of personal vehicle sharing services, and City CarShare, a Bay Area nonprofit car sharing organization have announced the availability of the first personal vehicle share program within a car sharing fleet. The new Spride Share pilot program enables car owners to loan their vehicles to members of City CarShare, which has more than 13,000 members, by equipping their cars with City CarShare’s access and tracking technology. The launch of the program is directly related to Assembly Bil 1871, a bill that Governor Schwarzenegger recently signed into law. The new law establishes that personal vehicle sharing does not constitute a commercial use of the automobile, eliminating the primary barrier to broad adoption of personal car sharing opportunities. Prior to the law, car owners ran the risk of losing their personal auto insurance if they received compensation for sharing their cars.

Now car owners can make their cars available for hourly reservations, and members can conveniently locate, reserve, and gain access to a car using their phone. What is more, car owners can make money by sharing something they already own, while the cost for borrowers is only about $7 dollars an hour. Because choosing reliable transportation in the bay area is always a challenge, car sharing may prove to be bay area resident’s greatest option. The program allows residents to collectively share the responsibility of reducing carbon emissions and eliminating some of the hassle their daily commuting routines, and it may just make commuters feel less harried and frantic, which may, in turn, lead to fewer accidents. Here at the Brod Law Firm we believe the creation of such program proves that citizens can band together to make up for the failures of public transportation, and the dissatisfaction and burden many people feel owning a car.

In 2007, very near Thanksgiving Day, an Illinois State trooper was driving over 100 miles per hour, responding to an accident. The former officer, Matt Mitchell, was reportedly talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend, and sending e-mails on the police car computer, while driving at outrageous speeds. It was estimated that Mitchell was driving approximately 126 miles per hour, and drove across the highway median, where he ran into an oncoming vehicle, and killed two, teenage sisters, aged 18 and 13. The police officer, who pled guilty in criminal court, but did not serve any jail time, has now denied any fault or responsibility in the civil action. In fact, the former police officer has applied for workers compensation benefits to receive payment for injuries he suffered as a result of the crash in which he killed two innocent girls.

Police officers and other law enforcement personnel are not above the law, and must be mindful of the safety of the general public, who they are sworn to serve and protect. In the horrible tragedy in Illinois, the accident that the former police officer was heading towards at the time of the crash, had already been responded to. Undoubtedly, the Illinois State Police are ashamed by this incident, which should have been avoided, and could have been prevented. Ideally, law enforcement agencies around the country will learn from incidents like this, and properly train their police officers to respect the safety of the public when in pursuit, or when responding to an emergency.

At the Brod Law Firm, we fight for people who have been injured due to the fault of others, including police officers driving in a high speed chase, in pursuit, or in response to an emergency. To learn more, please contact us at info@brodfirm.com.

Last night, on July 22, 2010, a Greyhound bus heading from Los Angeles to Sacramento hit an overturned SUV, killing six people, including three passengers in the SUV, and injuring many more. The CHP (California Highway Patrol) has not determined what caused the SUV, a Chevy Trailblazer, to turn over, and it is unclear as to whether or not the headlights were on, which would have affected the Greyhound bus driver’s ability to see it.

There were more than 30 people on the bus, which was not equipped with seatbelts for its passengers. California Vehicle Code Section 23715 requires taxicabs to install seatbelts in their vehicles, which addresses the policy to reduce highway deaths and injuries by encouraging the use of seatbelts. While the cause of this tragedy has yet to be determined, if the Greyhound bus involved had seatbelts available to its passengers, the number of serious injuries, and possibly some fatalities, would almost certainly have been reduced.

If you or a member of your family has been involved in a bus accident or a vehicle rollover, please call the Brod Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation.

Apropo our last blog, there is some addition information we would like to share. But before we do that, the following is a quick recap. Last week, according to AOL news, a Greyhound bus carrying 47 people on its way to Sacramento from Los Angeles crashed on a highway in California’s Central Valley on Thursday, killing six and injuring many others. The California Highway Patrol Officer at the scene said the bus driver swerved to try and avoid another crash involving an overturned SUV and slammed into a concrete center divider and then struck another vehicle shortly after 2am. The bus then went down an embankment, hit a eucalyptus tree and came to rest on a freeway off-ramp. 47 people were on board, six people died, and the driver was among the dead. This story brings to light two issues: SUV safety and bus safety.

First, this accident happened because the driver of the bus swerved to avoid an overturned SUV and could have been avoided if the SUV had not rolled over and obstructed the path of traffic, which forces the question–Why are some people are still under the impression that bigger is safer? Even though there is plenty evidence showing that SUV’s have a propensity for rollovers and instability at high speeds due their high center of gravity, plenty of people are still buying/driving them. Second, the accident resulted in serious injuries and 6 deaths, which forces the question–Can buses be made safer so that accidents such as this don’t have such catastrophic results? It turns out that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) is making it a priority to improve motor coach safety. In a meeting held in June 2010 they announced specific ways in which they will go about doing that. They will begin by addressing the root causes of motor coach crashes, such as driver fatigue, inattention, medical conditions and the oversight of unsafe carriers. Then they plan to address the root causes of fatalities and injuries in motor coaches by developing requirements for seatbelts for all seating positions to prevent ejections, strengthening the bus structure surrounding the windows to improve their crashworthiness, conducting verification rollover testing, develop performance requirements for motor coach structural integrity, leasing and testing Electronic Stability Controls to decide if they should be standard, upgrading the performance of tires used on motor coaches, and developing more stringent flammability and fire countermeasures and detection requirements. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe that consumers decisions about what form of travel they purchase should be tempered by their own research into the risks involved-which may, or may not, give them a better chance of staying safe than if they had not.

Last month a federal court jury awarded $18.3 million in damages to a Bay Area musician who suffered a fractured spine and was paralyzed when his bands rented Ford E-350 van rolled over on an icy highway in 2005. During the rollover his seat broke loose from the floor and pinned him against the roof. Usually death or injuries that occur during a rollover are the result of vehicle instability, roof crush and other compartment failures, or defective seatbelts– all of which are preventable. The overall large number of drashes involving fifteen-passenger vans, especially loaded fifteen-passenger vans, have raised the question as to whether they are unusually susceptible to rollovers. According to a piece of research put out by the NHTSA, fifteen-passenger vans differ from most light truck vehicle in that they have large payload capacity and the occupants sit fairly high up in the vehicle. Therefore, when loaded, the vehicle may have a much worse rollover propensity. Also, when a 15 passenger van is loaded, its center of gravity shifts upward and rearward, increasing the likelihood to rollover. This shift in the center of gravity also increases the potential for loss of control and panic maneuvers.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe the auto industry should be held accountable for death due to rollovers on roads and highways. As a result of the above mentioned types of litigation,and other types like it, the automobile industry is in the process of changing the design of these vehicles so that they are safer and more controllable. Some of the new technologies being employed are:

1. Electronic Steering Control, controls designed to assist drivers when they are in emergency situations. This technology helps drivers maintain control of the vehicle during extreme steering maneuvers by keeping the vehicle headed in the driver’s intended direction, even when the vehicle nears or exceeds the limits of road traction.

In October 2003, a Jeep was rear-ended by a tractor trailer in Virginia, causing the Jeep to roll over several times. A passenger in the Jeep suffered brain damage as a result of the crash, and a Virginia jury awarded her $10.2 million dollars. The trucking firm that was a defendant in the case argued that the woman’s brain injuries were due to a previous incident, not the crash involving the Jeep. Although the jury awarded $10.2 million dollars, the matter was appealed, and the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the jury verdict.

It is 2009, nearly six years after this tragic event, and the injured woman is only now receiving closure to her ordeal, at least as far as it relates to the judicial process. Corporate defendants often do not take any responsibility, whatsoever, for the injuries they cause. Despite a jury of her peers finding that she was entitled to an award of damages, the corporate defendants in the Virginia case fought for years, undoubtedly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. The “tort-reform” lobby, which is primarily funded by the insurance industry, puts massive efforts and spares no expense into labeling many lawsuits as “frivolous”. However, the public rarely hears about cases involving a “frivolous defenses”. There are many instances in which a corporate defendant or insurance company vigorously defends a claim (which results in a lawsuit), even though there is no good faith basis to do so, or even if it makes no sense from a financial basis. In many cases, the corporate defendant or insurance company will spend far more in defending a claim than the total amount sought by an injured person. The reason is to “send a message” to injured people that should they pursue their rights, it will be costly, time consuming, difficult, and will be fought tooth and nail. It is therefore very important to ensure that when an injured person in selecting a lawyer to help them, that the lawyer be prepared to vigorously fight for their rights.

The other day an article about a rollover accident, involving a black Ford Explorer in Orange County, California, caught our attention. The accident was a single vehicle accident in which the driver and passenger, an infant strapped in a car seat, were not injured after rolling over, at least once, through two lanes of traffic. We find stories such as these amazing, since so many rollover accidents usually end in injury or death of passengers. What is more, the amazing outcome of this accident proves car seats do save lives. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, regarding a study done by the Traffic Safety Center at the Department of Environmental Sciences at the UC Berkeley, placing infants and small children in age-appropriate car seats significantly reduces the odds that they will die if they are in a motor vehicle accident. Specifically, the study found, the odds of a baby under 1 year of age dying in a car accident dropped by 73 percent if the infant was riding in a baby car seat. And the odds of children between 1 and 2 dying in a collision went down by 76 percent when they were properly restrained. Also, car seats were found to be most effective in preventing fatalities in rollover accidents.
Not only are car seats important for providing safety to infants and toddlers, but finding the right safety car seat is key to saving their lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants should ride rear- facing, starting with their first ride home from the hospital. Once a child has reached the highest weight allowed by the manufacturer of a rear-facing car seat, they should ride in a forward-facing seat. They should ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness until they outgrow it-usually when they are about 4 years of age. Booster seats are recommended for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing seats. And a child should stay in a booster seat until adult seat belts fit correctly-usually when the child reaches about 4’9″ in height and is between 8-12 years of age.
We, the attorneys here at the Brod Law Firm, find these tips very useful for anyone who drives with their children, as our most important concern is public safety. Although we are ready to assist anyone involved in any type of accident, whether it is catastrophic or minor, we are glad when we hear about accidents like this one involving an unharmed driver and infant after a rollover.

Over this past 4th of July holiday, a 65 year old San Jose woman, Verna File and her friend, Royce McFadden were killed in a rollover crash as they were returning home to California from a dog show in Missouri. Verna File and husband, Bill, were traveling with their their friends, Royce and Vickie Mc Fadenns, along with both couples’ bichon frise dogs. According to the Colorado State Patrol, Bill File was driving a 2000 GMC Yukon on Westbound Interstate 70 Saturday evening when he drifted into the center meridian. The SUV rolled over twice before landing on its top. Verna File and Royce McFadden,62, were declared dead at the scene, and Bill File and Vickie McFadden sustained serious injuries. The Colorado State trooper who was at the scene said the bichon frise dogs traveling with the couples were transported to the local veterinarian and that alcohol and drugs were not factors in the motor vehicle accident. The state patrol suspect driver fatigue as the contributing factor. If driver fatigue was truly a factor in the accident, we hope drivers pay attention and remember this story the next time they feel drowsy and want to get behind the wheel of a car.

Most people don’t think about driving long distances while feeling fatigued as seriously risky behavior or as behavior that has deadly consequences. Yet according to data put out by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) regarding research conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Association(NHTSA)and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute(VTTI), the opposite is true. Their research measured real-world driver behavior through video and sensor devices on 100 vehicles over the course of one year, and researchers found:

• That nearly 80% of crashes and 60% near crashes recorded involved some type of

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