San Jose California Personal Injury Legal Blog

State sees multi-year increases in truck accident deaths

In 2017, California recorded a slight dip in the number of people who died in motor vehicle accidents. That year, 3,602 accident fatalities were recorded statewide compared to 3,837 in 2016. However, when looking at the number of deaths that resulted from accidents involving tractor-trailers or other large trucks, the story is different. The number of truck accident deaths in 2017 rose for the fourth consecutive year.

Between 2013 and 2017, vehicular fatalities involving large trucks increased every year from 259 in 2013 to 361 in 2017. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, there were 301, 305 and 354 deaths, respectively. This is a concerning trend, especially as the federal government has implemented new regulations designed to address trucker fatigue during this period of time. A new database focusing on substance abuse has also been in the works to prevent or crack down on impaired driving by truckers.

Recovering for loss of consortium in California

Like many of your neighbors, friends and family members, you have found the perfect person with whom to enjoy your life. If your spouse or domestic partner suffers a serious injury or dies, you may experience an unfillable void. Fortunately, California law may allow you to pursue compensation from whoever is responsible for your loved one’s injury or death. 

As you probably know, the law is full of terms that seem somewhat archaic. If you are not a lawyer, the words “loss of consortium” may mean nothing to you. Put simply, though, if you have a successful loss of consortium claim, you receive compensation for the intimacy, companionship and moral support you lose after a spouse or domestic partner suffers a serious injury or dies. To recover for loss of consortium in California, you must prove all of the following four elements: 

Facts about traumatic brain injuries

Many people in California have likely heard reports about incidents in which a person experiences trauma to their head. Some of these events can result in what is called a traumatic brain injury. As explained by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, a TBI is a special type of injury that is marked by a disruption in the brain's ability to function normally

A traumatic brain injury might be temporary or short-term or it may end up being severe. In the case of a severe TBI, a person often ends up with lifelong challenges or limitations due to the injury. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most mild TBIs are concussions that are characterized by a temporary loss of consciousness or altered mental state but that do not result in the presence of any negative, long-term symptoms.

How might concussions result in hearing loss?

Brain damage is one of the most common concerns when someone suffers a concussion, and while brain injury is perhaps the most thought of consequence from a blow to the head, a concussion can cause lasting harm to a person in other ways, such as negatively impacting a person’s ability to hear. This kind of damage can be temporary or permanent, and can drastically impact your quality of life in San Jose, California.

Everyday Hearing explains that hearing damage from a concussion can take different forms. A head blow can injure the ear or the pathways that transmit auditory stimuli to the brain. Bones inside the middle ear may take damage or become dislocated. A concussion can also rupture an eardrum. The membranes or the tissues that make up the inner ear might be damaged. Additionally, the cochlear nerve could suffer ischemia.

Helping your loved one communicate after a TBI

When you receive the call that your loved one has been involved in a serious accident that has resulted in a catastrophic brain injury, you may immediately think the worst. It will undoubtedly take time for your family member to recover from his or her injury and a full recovery may be impossible depending on the severity of the accident. At Shea & Shea, we have helped many victims of traumatic brain injuries in California.

One of the areas of function that may have been readily affected by your loved one's accident and subsequent injury is his or her ability to communicate. According to brainline.org, you may notice several changes to the level of effectiveness with which your loved one is able to communicate including the following:

  • Trouble figuring out how to begin or carry on a conversation. 
  • Inability to understand what is being said in a conversation including the ability to follow along.
  • Slurring, getting words mixed up or speaking too quickly and loudly. 
  • Mix-ups with which words to use to describe what it is that they want to say.

Key components of a successful negligence claim

When someone lets you down, it can be disappointing. However, when the letdown causes injury to you, it can lead to serious consequences.

Thankfully, it may be possible to seek restitution through a personal injury claim. To create a successful process, you must prove negligence. When doing so, consider a few key components.

TBIs and recovery

People in California who have a family member that has been involved in an accident in which they experienced a traumatic brain injury will need and want to learn about these very special types of injury and the potential recovery process. Every brain injury is unique which can make it difficult to determine a clear prognosis but there are ways that people can glean some insights into the potential future lives of their loved ones. 

As explained by Brainline, a person with a brain injury may end up with challenges in many areas of their life. They may experience both mental and physical disabilities that can last a lifetime. Some impairments may improve over time while others may not. Examples of potential lifelong challenges for people with brain injuries include walking, communicating, thinking, remembering details, paralysis and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationship.

What are catastrophic injuries?

Any personal injury resulting from an accident has the potential to be serious and necessitate you seeking compensation. However, you and other California residents may be interested in learning about catastrophic injuries, which signify a legal term describing a certain type of personal injury. Catastrophic injuries can differ from other types of injuries resulting from a car crash, workplace accident or other form of accident.

According to FindLaw, a catastrophic injury is an injury that is serious and usually permanent, which may result in a lifelong disability or ongoing pain and suffering. For example, if a drunk driver hits your car head-on, resulting in spinal injuries that leave you permanently in a wheelchair, your injuries would be considered catastrophic. You would likely need specialized medical care for the rest of your life, and depending on your limited abilities and the type of work you did before the accident, you might not be able to work anymore. Other catastrophic injuries can include the following:

  • A traumatic brain injury after slipping and falling on a spill at the grocery store
  • A limb amputation resulting from a workplace accident
  • Life-threatening burns from a faulty appliance that caught fire

Hours of service regulations for bus drivers

You know how tiring a long drive can be. Sometimes, it may be easier to simply buy a bus ticket in San Jose and leave the driving to someone else. Yet what is to say that the bus driver will not also become fatigued during your journey? It is well-known that long-haul truckers transporting freight are to follow strict hours of service regulations. Many come to us here at Shea & Shea - a Professional Law Corporation questioning whether the same standards are assigned to bus drivers. 

The answer to that question is yes...and no. The person driving your bus is not expected to adhere to the same working standard as a truck driver. That said, there are hours of service guidelines in place for drivers who transport passengers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, these are: 

  • Bus drivers may only drive a maximum of 10 hours after having taken eight consecutive hours off duty
  • A bus driver's 10 driving hours must be completed with a 15-hour time period, after which they are required to take eight consecutive hours off
  • A bus driver can only drive between 60-70 hours within seven to eight consecutive days

Autonomous vehicle testing and safety

People who live in California and particularly in the Bay Area have likely seen a self-driving car on the road at some point in the past few years as more of more of these vehicles are being deployed largely for testing purposes. However, this testing alone has garnered some criticism as opponents highlight the potential safety issues with doing so.

As reported by Curbed, there are many groups and individuals that dispute the ultimate safety of a computer-controlled vehicle, saying it is not appropriate to test autonomous cars on road with real human beings as it puts humans in harm's way. The death of a pedestrian in an Arizona accident involving a self-driving car was followed by an increase in these assertions.

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Shea & Shea - A Professional Law Corporation
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San Jose, CA 95128

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