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Riverside County Personal Injury Law Blog

Scientists investigate genetics of spinal cord injury treatment

Spinal cord injuries can be life-changing for accident victims in California. These kinds of injuries could lead to a loss of sensory function, loss of motor abilities and even paralysis. Many doctors and scientists are researching the causes and effects of these injuries and looking for new treatment mechanisms that could help to restore lost functionality. In one study, researchers at the University of British Columbia found a gene signature that switches on and off in response to spinal cord injuries; it appears to be tied to the severity of the damage sustained.

There are still no widely available ways to treat spinal cord injuries or repair lost motor function. However, these researchers think that further analysis of the genes involved could pinpoint biomarkers that help to predict the likelihood of recovery and indicate fruitful areas for treatment.

Deadly limo accident happened at dangerous intersection

When people in California hire a limousine, they might not be aware of limousine safety issues. A deadly limousine crash that grabbed national headlines has highlighted some dangers associated with limousines. Locals already considered the intersection where the crash occurred dangerous. Only a stop sign marked the intersection where one state road met another state road at the bottom of a steep hill.

A distracted driver could have easily missed the stop sign. Although investigators have not determined if the limousine driver had been distracted by a phone, the rise of smartphones has accompanied an increase in traffic accidents. In 2013, researchers recorded 5.7 million accidents. By 2017, the figure had risen to 6.4 million accidents.

Safety groups consider all vehicle autopilot systems flawed

Partially autonomous systems in vehicles meant to assist drivers and prevent accidents have proven popular with California motorists. Automotive safety groups, like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Thatcham in the United Kingdom, caution people against crediting autopilot features with perfect capabilities. They all require an attentive driver, and some systems should only be used under narrow circumstances.

For example, the manual for the Tesla Model S specifically states that autosteer should only be used on restricted use roads like freeways. Autosteer is designed to keep a vehicle between the painted lane lines. Self-driving features have been targeted by critics who say that some people might rely on the autonomous systems too much and misunderstand their limitations.

Recent trends in car crash deaths

Many drivers in California have been involved in a car accident at some point during their lives. Most of these accidents are minor, but car accidents continue to be a significant cause of death every year. According to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fatalities from car accidents decreased from 2016 to 2017.

According to the data, there was an overall decrease in deaths from car accidents of about two percent. However, deaths from SUV and tractor-trailer crashes increased by 5.8 percent, and deaths from large straight-truck accidents were up by 18.7 percent.

Over-reliance on car safety tech can backfire on drivers

Technology is changing the way that many California residents drive, and not always for the better. Over-reliance on collision avoidance systems and other safety features can make drivers complacent and a danger to themselves and others. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has analyzed this trend and come up with some startling statistics.

For instance, 80 percent of drivers are unaware that their blind-spot monitoring system has only a limited ability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. 20 percent put so much trust in this feature that they never look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

Most drivers believe they are better than average

According to several research studies, most people think that they are better drivers than the average person, regardless of their driving histories. There are many factors that may affect how good a person actually is at driving compared to the average driver, such as age and where a person lives. Drivers in California and New York have been rated as some of the safest ones, despite the reputation of motorists in these states.

Car insurance companies have conducted extensive research on which age groups drive most safely. The accident rate per mile driven is about twice as high for teenagers as it is for any other age group. The group with the lowest accident rate is ages 60-69. Drivers over age 80 are only in about one-third as many accidents as teen drivers.

Report links distracted driving to phone use

A recently released report about distracted driving appears to confirm what many California residents likely suspect. The study, which was conducted by the workforce management company Motus, discovered that a 12.3 percent increase in motor vehicle accidents between 2013 and 2017 coincided with a 22 percent rise in smartphone ownership. The researchers concluded that American drivers spend more than 100 million hours distracted by phones or other electronic devices each year. They also found that phone distraction is highest on weekdays between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

The problem is especially pronounced among mobile drivers, according to the Motus distracted driving report. The Boston-based company says that vehicle mobile workers travel about 1,200 miles each year while distracted because they take 49 percent more trips than other types of workers. These are workers who use their personal vehicles to make business-related trips. The resulting accidents cost employers about $1,680 every year for each mobile worker, according to the report.

Statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim in court

Even the most minor car accidents can result in injuries and substantial property damage. One recent example took place in Palm Springs, where a three-vehicle crash resulted in one woman going to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Even cases like these can still result in litigation, and people need to make sure they file all claims in a prompt fashion. 

In the state of California, people only have two years from the date of the accident to bring the case to court. In the event that the accident involved a government vehicle, then the statute of limitations reduces to only six months. There is a high likelihood a government agency will deny the claim, and at that point, the individual has another six months to re-file to have any hope of bringing the entity to court. 

Humans to blame in most self-driving car crashes

There have been several high-profile car accidents involving self-driving technology over the last few years. However, a new study of autonomous car crashes in California indicates that human error is to blame in most cases.

Axios researchers looked at vehicle incident reports from autonomous car crashes between 2014 and 2018. During that period of time, there were 38 crashes involving moving self-driving vehicles in autonomous mode. Of those crashes, only one was linked to a technological error. There were also 24 incidents involving self-driving vehicles that were not in motion. None of those were linked to technological errors. Meanwhile, there were 19 incidents involving cars in conventional mode, which allows for human interaction. Six of those incidents were linked to technological errors. Finally, there were three incidents where humans either attacked or jumped on top of autonomous vehicles. Obviously, those incidents were not linked to technological issues.

How grocery stores limit liability

Slippery floors and spoiled produce can pose problems for grocery store owners and operators in California. To combat the problem of slip-and-fall accidents, grocery stores may put down mats or other materials that are easier to walk on. They will also mop floors on a regular basis or wax them to keep people from slipping or otherwise getting hurt. In some cases, employees will walk the store and take note of potential hazards.

However, tools such as Argo Risk Tech make it possible to collect data about hazards in a store and take steps to mitigate them. It also allows store managers to learn about the most common types of incidents being reported at a given location. Having this information makes it possible to eliminate dangerous conditions before they exist on the premises. One of the top benefits of using a software program to collect data is that store owners can count on the information being recorded.