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From fender-benders to fatal pile-ups, car crashes can often be traced back to one fundamentally dangerous decision, a truth we are reminded of daily as your San Jose car accident injury law firm. Opting to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a choice that endangers countless lives. We are proud of our work helping victims of impaired driving and we are also committed to making these accidents a thing of the past.

Police Eye Alcohol-Involvement in San Jose Crash

Authorities believe alcohol consumption contributed to a serious crash in San Jose early Thursday morning. According to the San Jose Mercury News, it was just after midnight when a Chevy Suburban and Honda CRV collided near Almaden Expressway and Coleman Avenue. The Chevy driver was taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries. Police report that the other driver, who also incurred serious injuries, will be arrested on charges including suspicion of driving under the influence.

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Motorists face enough perils on the road, from unsafe driving conditions to distracted or drunken drivers and more to make driving an inherently risky proposition. Whenever there is a collision involving a motor vehicle it is often the passengers who bear the brunt of such incidents. And, as Santa Rosa automobile accident attorney Gregory J. Brod would point out, children are often the most vulnerable persons in a collision, a fact that was sadly evident in a deadly head-on collision in Carneros on Sunday.

According to the Napa Valley Register, the collision occurred when a Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle collided with an oncoming Lexus RX 450 SUV at about 3:30 p.m. on Highway 12/121. Both vehicles were reportedly traveling at the posted speed limit of 55 mph when, witnesses say, the Chevrolet crossed the double-yellow line into the path of the Lexus and the two vehicles collided head-on. The crash occurred on a curved portion of the roadway and its cause is still undetermined.

What we know, however, is that a 4-year-old Napa boy who was a passenger in the Chevrolet died in the crash, while his mother, Ariel Kirk, 25, who was not the driver, was injured. The boy was strapped into a booster seat that had a base-only apparatus, but the lap and shoulder seat belts were in use. The condition of Flavio Castellanos, the 23-year-old driver of the Chevrolet, is unknown, as are the conditions of John Watanabe, 66, the driver of the Lexus, and his wife and passenger, Cindy Pawlcyn, 58, a well-known St. Helena restaurateur.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during 2012, there were 33,561 traffic fatalities in the United States, of which 1,168, or 3 percent, were children 14 and younger. The latest data also showed that motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for children age 4 and every age 11 through 14 in this country.
However, the NHTSA also posted these statistics, some of which were grim while others more encouraging:

  • An average of three children 14 and younger were killed and 462 injured every day in the United States in motor vehicle crashes in 2012.
  • From 2003 to 2012, the number of fatalities in the 14-and-younger age group dropped by 45 percent, with the 8- to 14-year-old group showing the largest decrease at 53 percent.
  • Among children 14 and younger, males accounted for 56 percent of the fatalities and 51 percent of those injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012.

Part of the reason for the decrease in traffic fatalities among children 14 and younger from 2003 to 2012 may be attributable to the use of restraints, such as lap/shoulder seat belts. In 2012, there were 4,888 passenger vehicle occupants age 14 and younger who died in a motor vehicle crash. In cases where restraint use was known, 18 percent of the children were unrestrained; but among those children who were fatally injured, 40 percent were unrestrained.
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College should be a time of learning and growth, an opportunity for teens to grow into young men and women. College campuses should be a safe space for this transformation. Sadly, too often the danger of college sexual assault hangs over young women (and young men too, while we will primarily refer to female victims in this post, we recognize that men can also be victims of sexual assault) throughout their university years. Our Oakland assault attorney is committed to helping the victims and holding all responsible parties accountable for these crimes and the environment that allows them to occur.

UC Berkeley Student Reports Sexual Assault in Campus Housing Unit

help.jpgPolice report that a female student attending UC Berkeley was sexually assaulted last weekend in a campus housing unit located in Albany. As detailed in The Oakland Tribune, university police were called to a hospital on Sunday to initiate an investigation into the incident. The victim told officers that a male acquaintance had invited her to an off-campus bar before taking her to an Albany Village apartment where he assaulted her sexually. Police say the suspect, who has not yet been arrested, is a 40 year old Hispanic male, approximately 5’7″ and 170 pounds.

Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents occur every day. Drivers are expected to operate vehicles as that of an ordinarily reasonable person, otherwise, the driver can be found liable for their negligence. In the event the driver acts negligently while they are working, the victim may be able to sue the employee’s employer. The attorneys at Brod Law Firm are experienced in pedestrian accidents and the complexities involved in each case.

Pedestrian Killed By Garbage Truck

A pedestrian was struck and killed by garbage truck in San Francisco. As reported, witnesses observed the pedestrian walking behind a Recology garbage truck, and then the garbage truck backed over the pedestrian. This incident was the second pedestrian death in less than 24 hours in Bay area. Recology, the company that owns and operates the garbage truck, has had numerous unfortunate incidents over the past few months. In May, a bicyclist was fatally struck and in March a 7 year-old girl’s foot was crushed by a truck. In these cases, Recology may be liable for their employee’s negligence under the theory of vicarious liability.

Generally, a person has no duty to come to the aid of another. However, if a person elects to come to someone’s aid, the rescuer had a duty to exercise due care. Good Samaritan laws provide an exception to this due care requirement. The Good Samaritan laws are meant to protect those individuals who choose to tend to another person who is injured. The goal is to reduce the rescuer’s hesitation to assist the injured person in fear of a prosecution or lawsuit. As a matter of public policy, some jurisdictions implement Good Samaritan laws to prevent reluctance in assisting an injured person. The laws vary from one jurisdiction to another. Some states actually expand protection to any person who acts reasonably under the conditions.

California Law

In California, the Health and Safety Code 1799.102 governs the Good Samaritan laws. According to the Code, no person who acts in good faith rendering emergency care at the scene of an emergency, shall be liable for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omission by such person rendering the emergency care.

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Victims of automobile accidents in which the other party was driving under the influence of alcohol can breath a sigh of relief after the California Supreme Court handed down a key decision Thursday affirming the validity of Breathalyzers. The court’s decision will mean that blood-alcohol concentrations of 0.08 or greater will be enough for a guilty verdict in criminal court, as well as prove an indispensable legal weapon in civil cases in which DUI accident attorneys such as Gregory J. Brod seek compensation for the victims.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the state’s highest court ruled in People v. Vangelder that the defense could not call upon the expert witness testimony of scientists who would argue that the results of testing machines are inherently unreliable. While a defendant could call into question a malfunctioning testing machine or one used improperly, the BAC samples from a properly functioning machine would be considered valid:

“As the trial court observed, defendant remained free to argue, and present evidence, that the particular machines used in this case malfunctioned, or that they were improperly calibrated or employed. But as explained earlier, the 0.08 percent breath-alcohol concentration formulated by the Legislature in enacting the underlying per se offense, section 23152(b), was adopted on the basis of correlation studies employing just such breath-testing machines – and the various physiological factors that affect the results of breath machines generally, have already been taken into account by those studies and the widely accepted statutory partition ratio.”

In the foregoing passage from the state Supreme Court’s decision, the court was referring to the trial court that handed down a conviction against a motorist in San Diego County who was stopped by a California Highway Patrol officer in December 2007 when the CHP officer tracked the motorist in excess of 125 mph. The officer detected alcohol on the motorist’s breath and, with his consent, administered two Breathalyzer tests, in which the motorist registered .095 and .086 BAC figures. The motorist was then arrested and charged with drunken driving. Before the Superior Court, the motorist was convicted of speeding and driving with an excessive BAC, and he was fined nearly $2,000.

The Superior Court’s decision was appealed, and a state appeals court overturned the trial court’s decision, ruling that it erred in deeming an expert witness testimony – from a University of Washington professor of medicine and physiology and noted author of blood alcohol and its measurement – as speculative and largely inadmissible.

Fortunately, however, the state Supreme Court, in overruling the state appeals court, cited California state law, which requires police to employ machines that measure breath alcohol content whose accuracy are on a par with blood tests.

“The fundamental reliability of federally approved, properly calibrated and employed breath-testing machines … is a matter that has been determined as policy by the Legislature,” said Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in the state high court’s opinion.
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It is hard to imagine that anyone old enough to drive has not heard that alcohol and driving are not a safe combination. The dangers of drunk driving are taught in school (even outside of driver’s education classes) and by parents, reiterated in numerous public service announcements, and tucked in countless other media messages. Still, there are many people who think the warning doesn’t apply to them. These people know that driving under the influence can be deadly, but still step behind the wheel believing that they can handle it. Most would never explicitly say they are immune to danger, they just act like it. Our San Francisco drunk driving accident lawyer knows how wrong they are and that this attitude puts both the individual and innocent bystanders at risk.

San Francisco Police Officer Accused of Causing Crash When Driving Drunk

Police officers often receive advanced driving instruction and one wonders if this extra experience led one California officer to decide he could handle driving despite being severely intoxicated. At his arraignment on Thursday morning, covered by The San Francisco Chronicle, Sergeant Thomas Haymond pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the events of October 8. On that night, according to prosecutors, Haymond drove his personal vehicle into a parked car with enough force to push the parked vehicle into a tree. The incident occurred around 8:30 P.M. near the intersection of 12th Avenue and Lawton Street. Investigators believe that Haymond drove away from the scene to his Moraga Street home. Police arrested him approximately 30 minutes after the crash, having located him by following a trail of debris leading to his location.

For some, the adolescent years are fun and exciting, filled with new adventures and the start of lifelong friendships. For others, they are filled with torment. Bullying is not a new problem, but it has become increasingly serious. The internet and social media allow bullies to reach their targets 24/7, making it nearly impossible for the victims to escape. Our focus on school law has expanded to include this development and Attorney Greg Brod is proud to stand-up for victims as a San Francisco bullying lawyer. This is a fast-evolving area of law that continues to grow in importance with each story we hear of severe bullying, especially when those stories have ended with a victim turning to suicide to escape. We believe in civil liability for bullying, including claims against bullies and the adult/institutions that turn a blind eye to the cruelty.

The Story of a Child’s Torment

On September 9th, bullying claimed another young life. As detailed by ABC News, twelve year-old Rebecca Sedwick took her own life when she jumped from the tower of an abandoned concrete plant. It wasn’t her first suicide attempt; Rebecca cited bullying as the reason she cut her wrists back in December. A 14 year-old girl allegedly recruited Rebecca’s former best friend, also age 12, to help lead the torment which included intimidation, name-calling, and at least some physical violence. On at least one occasion, the older girl suggested Rebecca “drink bleach and die.” Online bullying involved as many as fifteen girls. The bullying continued even after Rebecca’s mother pulled her from the school. Reports suggest the bullying started over a boy.

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A person who has been subjected to sexual assault experiences one of the most degrading acts imaginable, and the issue of power is often at the center of the perpetrator’s unwanted advances toward the victim. But when it comes to an imbalance of power in the context of a sexual assault, nothing quite stoops as low as the sexual abuse of a minor, and San Francisco attorney Gregory J. Brod is experienced at seeking just compensation for the violation of such victims’ rights.

Two unrelated cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors in the Bay Area cropped up in the news this week, both involving cases in which the accused perpetrator was a law enforcement officer. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a Hayward police officer was arrested and booked Saturday on suspicion of substantial sexual conduct with a minor in connection with alleged acts of abuse with several girls while the officer worked in Livermore as an after-school program teacher. In the other case, a San Mateo County sheriff’s deputy was arraigned Monday on charges that he molested a young female relative, also according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Unfortunately, as shocking as it may seem, alleged cases of sexual abuse of minors by a figure known to the victim such as the aforementioned examples are all too common in the United States. Indeed, according to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 75 percent of adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well. In circumstances where a minor has been sexually assaulted, an authority figure such as a law enforcement officer, teacher, religious leader or adult relative has often won the trust of the child well before the violation occurs, making the abuse all the more reprehensible.

Here are some other notable statistics from studies on sexual abuse against children from the National Center for Victims of Crimes:

  • One in five girls and one in 20 boys is the victim of child sexual abuse;
  • During a one-year period in the United States, 16 percent of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28 percent of youth ages 14 to 17 in the United States had been sexually victimized;
  • Children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13

The consequences of sexual abuse against children can be profoundly damaging to its victims, both physically and psychologically. A minor who has been subjected to extended sexual abuse often develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. In addition, such children may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and they can even become suicidal.
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motorcycleline.jpgWhen we talk with families who have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, we often hear about how much the victim loved to ride. Some of the family members share the passion, many dedicating future rides to their lost relative. Others say they always worried about their loved one when he or she went out for a ride. As a San Francisco motorcycle fatality law firm, we’ve seen firsthand the rise in motorcycle deaths and we are dedicated to helping families recover vital compensation when a rider is killed in a crash because of someone else’s negligence.

California Motorcycle Rider Dies Following Accident in Idaho

An Idaho news channel, KVTB, recently reported on the death of a motorcycle rider from Walker, California, a city approximately 150 miles east of Sacramento. Warren Park, age 57, swerved off the roadway while operating a motorcycle on Interstate 84 near Hazelton, Idaho last Friday. According to a police press release, Park was hospitalized but succumbed to his injuries early Sunday morning. His passenger, Bonnie Trimble, age 56 of Reno, Nevada, was also hospitalized. Police did not comment further on her condition. Both Trimble and Park were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.