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Modesto Bicycling Accident Ends In Tragedy

A popular member of the Stanislaus County Bicycling Club died Monday after being struck by a pick-up truck. According to the Modesto Bee, William Foltz, 73, was an easygoing man who “always rode with a smile on his face.” Foltz was in the right lane and put his hand out to signal before attempting to cross the left lane. Unfortunately, the lane was not clear and he was hit from behind. The investigation is ongoing, but the driver has not been cited.

Foltz’ accident underscores the hazards of bicycling. Despite the prevalence of bicycling on California roadways, many motorists fail to share the road with cyclists. Unfortunately, in car vs. bike accidents, the bicyclist often suffers serious injuries such as broken bones, brain injuries and head trauma.

Some simple safety tips can help reduce your risk of injury. These include:

• Always wear a helmet

• Wear bright colors

• Obey traffic controls

• Ride your bike near the right-hand edge of the road

• Use hand signals when turning or stopping

• Be careful when checking traffic

Although bicyclists need to take precautions, motorists have to do their part and allow bicyclists room to maneuver. As a result of this latest accident, some cyclists are calling for Modesto to enact a “3-foot rule” such as that adopted in other cities requiring drivers yield at least 3 feet to bicyclists on the road.

As a bicycling enthusiast and bike accident attorney, I support efforts to increase bike safety on California roadways. For more information, or if you or a loved one has been injured in a bike accident, please contact the Law Office of Frederick J. Sette.

Prevent Serious California Boating Accidents By Wearing Life Jackets

Memorial Day weekend marks the traditional start of summer, and the Modesto Bee reports that local officials are speaking out against the dangers of boating on the Central Valley’s waterways without a life jacket.

According to the National Safe Boating Council, 520 boating accidents were reported in California in 2008, along with 45 deaths.

California law requires anyone under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket while boating.

Other safety precautions include:

• Always ensure you are prepared. This means having the right safety equipment on board as well as basic first aid kits.

• Check the weather before you head out. Storms with thunder and lightening can crop up in an instant.

• Do not exceed your boat’s capacity in weight or horsepower.

• Passengers should remain seated.

For a complete list of boating safety tips, see the California Department of Boating and Waterways.

Unfortunately, boating accidents can and do occur. When an accident does occur, certain circumstances such as significant personal injury or boat damage require that you must file a report.

As a California boating enthusiast and personal injury attorney, I encourage you to follow some simple rules to ensure safety on California waterways. For more information, or if you have been injured in a boating accident, please contact the Law Office of Frederick J. Sette.

Tour Of California Underscores Need For Bike Safety

The week provides a great opportunity to raise awareness among California bicyclists – as well as drivers – regarding bike safety. In conjunction with National Ride to Work Week, professional bike racers emphasized the need for safety after Lance Armstrong crashed in the Tour of California, causing him to drop out, and David Zabriskie, a bike/car collision survivor, won Stage 3 of the Tour from San Francisco to Monterey and took the overall lead.

Armstrong’s injuries include a large gash below his eye and a severe bruise.

Zabriskie’s injuries occurred several years ago, during a training ride.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), 540,000 bicyclists end up in the emergency room after suffering bicycling accidents.

In 2003, Zabriskie was injured when a car turned suddenly in front of him. He was hospitalized with a shattered leg. After his accident, Zabriskie started “Yield to Life,” an organization dedicated to raising bike-safety issues, emphasizing drivers and cyclists sharing the road.

Zabriskie states that safety is really about using common-sense. Car drivers need to be more patient. Even a “tap” from a car can make a cyclist fall, shattering bones or causing substantial injuries, such as brain, back or head injuries.

At the same time, cyclists need to follow the rules. They need to wear protective gear and pay attention to the rules of the road.

Zabriskie also notes that too often cyclists and drivers are pitted against each other. Instead they need to work together. Drivers should remember that cyclists have a right to the road, and cyclist need to remember that just because they have a right to the road, they don’t own the road.

By respecting each other, both California bicyclists and car drivers can avoid accidents. As an avid cyclist and California bicycle accident attorney, I’ve seen first hand the horrible accidents that occur when bicycle and cars collide.

With a little common sense and courtesy, both cars and bikes can share the road and reduce the number of accidents on California roadways.

California Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Not Responsible For High Insurance Premiums

As President Obama strives to implement health care reform – “tort reform” has become a hot button issue. “Tort reform” typically refers to caps on non-economic punitive damages in lawsuits where individuals have been injured by gross medical malpractice. Tort reform advocates erroneously blame medical malpractice lawsuits for high insurance premiums, causing doctors to flee states without caps and practice “defensive medicine,” further increasing health care costs.

However, as medical malpractice victims living in Marin County and throughout California know, the real cost of tort reform is born by those who been seriously injured or harmed by medical negligence. California currently has one of the nation’s most restrictive tort reform laws with its 34 year old “cap” of $250,000 on pain and suffering for injured patients, which essentially prevents victim of severe cases of malpractice from going forward in the courts and receiving just compensation.

Further, studies show that many of the tort reformer’s arguments are false and based on inaccurate information. According to a November report issued by the American Association for Justice, lawsuits do not drive up insurance premiums. In fact, studies show that jury awards, settlements and administrative costs add up to less than $10 billion a year – less than 0.3% of what the U.S. spends on health care every year.

The costs of defensive medicine are also greatly exaggerated. Recent studies show estimate that defensive medicine at most accounts for 3% of medical spending – and much of what is identified as defensive medicine is not motivated by liability, but simply the desire of physicians to generate more income.

Finally, little correlation exists between malpractice payouts and malpractice premiums. In fact, researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) noted, “increases in malpractice payments made on behalf of physicians do not seem to be the driving force behind increases in premiums.” Declining interest rates and investments in the insurance industry drive the rate increases – not malpractice payouts. One study found thatinsurers artificially raised doctors’ premiums and misled the public about the nature of medical negligence claims in order to justify “tort reform.”

As California personal injury attorneys concerned about medical malpractice, we believe that caps hurt those who need it most and do nothing to reduce insurance premiums and the cost of health care.

Legislation Approved To Treat California Brain Injury Victims

California legislators recently approved a bill that will provide funds to develop state-of-the-art treatment for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The San Jose Mercury Newsreports that on Tuesday, East Bay veterans signed a ceremonial copy of the bill – applauding the attention given to this significant and often debilitating – even fatal – condition.

Traumatic brain injuries are typically caused by a sudden blunt force or blow to the head, such as occurs in a car accident, a bike accident, a fall or even at a sporting event.

Symptoms may be difficult to detect and vague and may include mild headaches, confusion and slurred speech. However, without treatment these symptoms worsen and may affect motor skills, cognitive function, and the ability to communicate.

For veterans, brain injuries are called “invisible wounds of war” with service members returning from duty and not recognizing the symptoms for weeks, even years.

The new bill will provide training and education programs specifically designed to help medical professionals recognize the symptoms of TBIs and begin treating these injuries as soon as possible.

As a California personal injury attorney I support this legislation. Too often these debilitating injuries go undetected. With proper medical attention and treatment, brain injuries can be treated and the effects minimized or eliminated.

For more information, please call the Law Office of Frederick J. Sette. For over 15 years we have helped individuals who have suffered brain injuries obtain the compensation they deserve.

Serious Injuries Close Down Spider-Man Performance

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the California Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a company whose insurer was ordered to pay the full cost of treating anaccident victim.

The outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision in Howell v. Hamilton Meats, will likely have a major impact on almost every personal injury matter in Marin County and all over California, by affecting how medical damages are calculated.

For many years, California courts have unfairly limited a victim’s recovery of medical damages to the “discounted amount” paid by the insurance company. The discounted amount is the actual payment amount a hospital is willing to accept from an insurance company in exchange, for example, for business or prompt payment. This amount is often significantly less than the victim’s actual medical bills.

In a rare victory for accident victims, in November the state appeals court in San Diego determined that an injured person who has insurance could recover the full cost of treatment from the person responsible for the injury.

In Howell v. Hamilton Meats, a woman – Rebecca Howell – was injured when a truck made an illegal U-turn and hit her car. Her medical bills for surgery and treatment at 2 separate hospitals totaled $190,000, but the hospitals agreed to accept $60,000 from Howell’s insurer. In a 3-0 decision, the state appeals court determined that Howell was entitled to the full $190,000, in part because it was her foresight in getting health insurance that allowed for the discount in the first place. The court reasoned that Hamilton Meats shouldn’t reap the benefits of Howell’s planning.

The California Supreme Court granted review of this decision on March 11.

As a California Personal Injury attorney concerned that accident victims receive the full compensation they deserve, I will be following this case closely and reporting on how the California Supreme Court’s ruling will affect the recovery of medical damages.

Bay Bridge S-Curve Involved In 47 Car And Truck Accidents Since Installed

According to KTVU, 47 car and truck accidents have occurred on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge since the curve was installed, including the fatal truck accident last November. In that crash, Tahir Fakhar was driving on the S-Curve when the truck went on two wheels and then over the side. TheEast Bay News reports that Fakhar’s family filed a wrongful death suit against the State of California and Caltrans earlier this week.

The Bay Bridge links Oakland to San Francisco, with close to 300,000 vehicle crossings each day.

Fakhar’s case raises several questions sure to be discussed in the coming months concerning the design and safety of the Bay Bridge’s S Curve. Since November, the California Highway Patrol and CalTrans have been working together to slow down drivers and have also shut down lanes of traffic. Hopefully these measures will lead to greater safety when crossing the bridge.

Other issues raised by this matter include whether driver error – such as speeding as the result of a tight delivery schedule or exhaustion due to long driving hours with little rest – were contributing factors. Further, in some instances trucking companies push drivers beyond what is safe in order to meet deadlines. Whether trucking company demands were a factor will also likely be explored.

For more information or if you have been injured in a car or truck accident, please contact the Law Offices of Frederick J. Sette, a California personal injury attorney dedicated to the safety of California drivers.