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Riverside County Personal Injury Law Blog

The nature of truck accident settlements

Civil law in California grants the victims of truck accidents the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, going through the civil court can cost victims a considerable amount of time and money, which is why many try instead to settle out of court. In most cases, trucking companies are willing to go this route too, which means that there is a greater chance for an amicable agreement.

Out-of-court settlements are achieved through alternative dispute resolution methods, the most widely used being negotiations, mediation and arbitration. This creates a confidential environment where both sides can candidly state their case without admitting to any fault. Trucking companies can be less defensive when hearing victims. Negotiations and mediation are non-binding, so victims can pursue litigation at the same time.

Passenger killed when engine explodes on Southwest flight

When California residents get on a commercial airplane, they expect the aircraft to be properly maintained. However, that is not always the case. On April 17, a passenger was killed on a Southwest Airlines plane when an engine blew apart on a flight from New York to Dallas.

According to media reports, one of the Boeing 737-700 plane's engines exploded mid-flight, hurling shrapnel into a fuselage window. The window broke and gave way, causing the cabin to rapidly depressurize. As a result, a female passenger was partially sucked out of the plane. Other passengers pulled her back in, but she suffered severe injuries. The plane began to rapidly descend, and many of the plane's passengers sent desperate messages to loved ones, fearing they were going to crash. However, the pilot was able to regain control of the aircraft and bring it in for an urgent landing in Philadelphia. The female passenger was transported to a local hospital, but she later died from her injuries. Seven other passengers were treated for minor injuries.

How to prevent distracted driving in semi-autonomous cars

Companies such as Waymo have shown people taking selfies and otherwise enjoying themselves riding in self-driving cars. However, it may not be safe for a driver to take his or her eyes off the road even while in a self-driving car. To prevent California drivers or others from getting too complacent while in such a vehicle, AI technology can be used to determine how attentive a driver really is.

A camera facing the driver inside of the vehicle can be used to keep track of that person's facial expressions and other information. If the car determines that the driver is not paying attention, it can sound an alarm or otherwise warn the driver to do so. This type of system is already used in Cadillacs that have the "Super Cruise" feature. It can also stop the vehicle and call OnStar if it detects that a driver isn't responding in a timely manner.

The growth of distracted driving

With smartphones, navigation systems and other technologies presenting more distractions than ever, drivers are at a greater risk for crashes. Drivers in California should know about a recent survey where 63 percent of drivers stated that they fear distracted drivers more than they do intoxicated drivers. Approximately 75 percent of drivers claimed that they see other drivers on their phones every day.

The most frequent distractions are text messages, phone calls, navigation systems and conversations with other occupants of the vehicle. Though distracted driving deaths are on the rise, the penalties regarding them are still light compared to those of DUI. The lack of a cultural stigma around distracted driving leaves many drivers with little motivation for changing their ways. The same survey states that 79 percent of drivers would be motivated if their auto insurers gave discounts to those who do not drive distracted.

Human behavior and autonomous vehicles

The programming of autonomous vehicles that are on California roads and elsewhere in the United States are rendering the vehicles unsafe as the programs mimic human behavior. This is according to a computer science professor who teaches in Arizona, the first state in which a pedestrian was struck and killed by a driverless vehicle.

The professor conducts research sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The research focuses on the creation of cyber-physical systems that can ensure how the systems will behave.

Survey finds drivers often use cellphones while driving

Some California drivers might be using their cellphones while driving even though they believe it is dangerous to do so. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety surveyed 2,613 licensed drivers and found that 46 percent more people said they talked on their phones regularly or fairly often while driving compared to 2013. Despite this, more than half said they believed that talking on a cellphone threatened their personal safety.

Similar contradictions appeared to be true for other actions. Even though 78 percent of people described texting and driving as being dangerous, almost 45 percent had read and more than a third had sent a text or email while behind the wheel. Just over 40 percent of people said they supported banning any kind of cellphone use while driving.

Common causes of traumatic brain injury

Suffering a brain injury can impact many areas of your life, and in severe cases, it may even mean that you or a loved one end up needing a lifetime of medical care and attention. Traumatic brain injuries, which range from mild to severe in nature, can lead to a wealth of sensory and cognitive issues, and while, often, brain injury sufferers experience similar symptoms, their injuries arise from a variety of different circumstances.

Brain injuries typically occur following a sudden, violent blow to the head or body, and they may, too, arise, if a sharp or penetrating object, such as a knife or bullet, comes in contact with your head. In some cases, the exact cause of a brain injury is hard to determine. In others, key symptoms associated with the injury do not become apparent until sometime after the initial impact. If, however, you suspect that you or someone you love suffered a TBI, know that many people suffer them after the following situations:

Most frequent causes of highway fatalities

Drivers in California should know about the many different causes of highway accidents. Collisions on the highway are often fatal, but there are safety features and systems that one can always take advantage of, such as seat belts, safety seats for young children, and airbags, to reduce the risk of death. Nonetheless, a lot depends on the driver's actions.

Many motorists drink lots of alcohol or take certain drugs and medications before getting behind the wheel, which are known to impair driving. Reflexes will slow down, vision will become blurred, and even the perception of speed and distance will be compromised. Drivers could also endanger themselves and others through distracted behavior. Texting, eating, putting on makeup, and adjusting the car's AC or sound system can all lead to an accident. Road rage often plays a part as well.

Spinal cord injuries lead to lifelong effects

Spinal cord injuries can have devastating and lifelong consequences for people in California who suffer this kind of damage in a workplace injury, car accident, fall or another catastrophic event. Sports can also be a major cause of spinal cord injuries; while brain injuries may be some of the more commonly known serious effects of sports accidents, spinal cord trauma can also result from harsh football tackles or other contact sports. Treatment for spinal cord injuries can be complex and the technologies to improve it are still developing.

Every year, there are around 17,000 spinal cord injuries that take place across the country, and over 280,000 Americans live daily with the impact of such trauma. The effects of these injuries can vary widely; when an injury occurs to a higher portion of the spinal cord, a person can lose greater function throughout their body and limbs. Depending on the severity of the injury, a person could need full-time in-home care and professional assistance for ongoing daily activities.

Questions about the FIU bridge collapse remain unanswered

California residents may be aware that on March 15, a bridge collapsed at Florida International University, crushing eight vehicles and causing six deaths. The bridge had just been completed five days before the incident occurred. There were still several questions that authorities were trying to answer while the investigation continued.

Authorities determined that the bridge had undergone some sort of stress testing just prior to collapsing. What was not understood, however, was why vehicles were permitted to drive under the structure while it was being tested. It was also still not known if the collapse was caused by a construction or engineering failure. The bridge itself was assembled and installed very quickly in an effort to reduce risks to workers, motorists and travelers.