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Running-a-Red-Light Accident Deaths on the Rise

11 Year Old Boy killed in Modesto Hit and Run

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analyzed data from traffic accidents caused by a driver running a red light. They found that, during 2016 alone, over 800 people died from these types of accidents. This represents a 17% increase since 2012. To highlight the critical importance of red light camera programs in municipalities across America, the IIHS and three other national safety organizations have released a checklist to guide the planning and implementation of red light camera programs.

Red light camera programs can save lives

“We developed the guidelines to help communities avoid the problems that have undermined programs in the past,” said David Harkey, President of the IIHS. Harkey went on to state that when camera programs aren’t consistently implemented, there is a rise in red light-related accidents, injuries, and deaths.

Critics of red light camera programs have claimed that their primary purpose is to generate revenue for municipalities. Jill Ingrassia, the managing director of Government Relations and Traffic Safety Advocacy of AAA, would like to debunk this misconception. She states, “When properly implemented, red light cameras can help save lives and can serve to supplement law enforcement efforts, rather than generate revenue for governments.” Ingrassia went on to state that the guidelines released by the national safety organizations can go a long way toward restoring public trust in red light camera programs, and in making the roadways safer for all.

Red light camera advocates face an uphill battle

There has been a decrease in the number of communities with red light camera programs from 2012 to 2018—the same period of time that saw a spike in traffic accidents caused by running red lights. The IIHS noted that new camera programs continue to be implemented, but the downward trend continues because more municipalities are turning off their cameras. Public opposition to the programs, reduction in camera-initiated citations, and financial strain are the top causes for a community turning off its cameras.

A closer look at the red light camera checklist

The red light camera checklist provides comprehensive best practices guidance regarding planning, oversight, and sustainable public support. The first step a community should take is to identify the intersections at which running the red light occurs regularly. Before installing a red light camera, communities can consider changes to the road design and signal timing to reduce accidents. Then, communities should solicit public input and statements from victim/advocates. The checklist also encourages communities to engage in ongoing evaluation to ensure the public’s support.

Ellis Injury Law: Successfully advocating on behalf of traffic accident victims

The LA car accident lawyers at Ellis Injury Law applaud every effort by state and national organizations to improve traffic safety and minimize preventable deaths. But even one fatality is one too many. If you’ve lost a loved one in a car accident, it’s only natural to want justice. Call us today at 888-675-8254 to request your free case review. Our legal team fights for the rights of accident victims and their families throughout southern California.

Additional resources about traffic safety:

  1. IIHS, New guidelines for automated enforcement programs emphasize safety amid rise in red-light-running crash deaths, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/new-guidelines-for-automated-enforcement-programs-emphasize-safety-amid-rise-in-red-light-running-crash-deaths
  2. CDC, Automated Red-Light Enforcement, https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/calculator/factsheet/redlight.html

What To Do When Someone Hits Your Parked Car

4 killed in big rig collision Desert Center

No one expects to return to a parking lot to find their car damaged but it happens every day in Los Angeles. Many people do not realize that it is a crime in California to leave the scene of an accident without leaving your contact information. In an accident that causes property damage, leaving the scene is a misdemeanor. But if the accident causes injury or death, it is a felony. If you are the victim of one of these hit and run parking lot accidents, there are a few things you can do to improve your situation.

Check for witnesses

You may be eager to track down the car that struck yours but time may be better spent looking around for witnesses who saw the event.

Look for security cameras

Shopping malls, stores, and banks often have cameras stationed near entrances where they may be able to pick up parking lot activity. If you are really lucky, a camera may have captured the license plate number. Even if the footage is not that detailed, you may at least be able to narrow down the type and color of the car or description of the driver.

Take photos of the damage

Take photos from several angles and the surrounding areas. Try to include any evidence that might point to the vehicle that caused the damage, such as scrapes of paint.

Make a police report

This is important even if you do not know which car caused the damage. Some insurance companies require a police report before they will pay for the damages. The police also have greater ability to obtain evidence like security footage, and to run reports if a witness saw the other car’s license plate.

Inform your insurance company

If you can identify the driver of the vehicle that caused the damage, you can make a third-party claim against their insurance. If that is not possible, then you can make a claim on your own insurance. But do not wait to see if you can find the other driver; notify your insurance carrier immediately if there might be a claim or you may need to battle with the company over whether your notice was unnecessarily delayed.

Speak with a lawyer

When you make an insurance claim, the company will ask you to sign a release. This document will prohibit you from filing a lawsuit or asking for more money if the damage turns out to be more than expected. Having an attorney represent you through this process will increase the likelihood that you will receive complete compensation in this process.

Finding unexpected damage to your vehicle in a parking lot can do more than just ruin your day. It can impair the safety of your bumper, reduce the value of your vehicle, and rob you of the time it takes to repair the problem. You do not need to handle this alone; call a southern California car accident lawywer at the Ellis Injury Law Firm. We proudly serve clients across California from our 20 office locations. Call today for a free confidential consultation.

Additional parking lot hit and run resources:

  1. California Legislature, Vehicle Code 20002, https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=20002.&lawCode=VEH
  2. California Legislature, Vehicle Code 20003, https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=20003.

The Best and Worst Bicycle Helmets

bicycle rider with helmetBicycle crashes can be just as threatening to life and limb as crashes in any other type of vehicle. Bicyclists are not protected by tons of metal, as motorists in cars and trucks are. Bicyclists can be thrown off bicycles by unforeseen divots in pavements or unexpected dashes in front of them by small animals.

Bicycle Fatalities Rising

In 2016, 835 bicyclists died in collisions with motor vehicles, the largest number of fatalities since 1991, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Like motorcyclists, bicyclists need to wear helmets to ensure their safety in the event of a collision or other bicycle accident. Use of a helmet can reduce the chances of sustaining a head injury by half.

A New Ratings System

Which helmet should you buy?

While helmet use has long been recommended, consumer information about the best brand of helmet has been scarce.

However, a partnership between Virginia Tech University and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reviewed 30 models of bicycle helmet and rated them. The ratings were published for the first time in June.

The rating system uses stars, with 5 being the highest (termed “best available” on the ratings list) and 2 being the lowest (termed “adequate”). Ratings with 4 stars are termed “very good” and those with 3 stars termed “good.”

The list in each category is given below. Note that models are listed from best helmet to worst helmet within each category.

Helmets are listed from best to worst within rating categories.

4-Star, Best Available

  1. Bontrager Ballista MIPS
  2. Garneau Raid MIPS
  3. Bell Stratus MIPS
  4. Specialized Chamonix MIPS

3-Star, Very Good

  1. Scott ARX Plus MIPS
  2. Bontrager Quantum MIPS
  3. Specialized Prevail II
  4. Smith Overtake
  5. Giro Savant
  6. Bell Draft MIPS
  7. POC Octal
  8. Giro Foray MIPS
  9. Giro Synthe
  10. Giro Sutton MIPS
  11. Specialized Evade II
  12. Garneau Le Tour II

3-Star, Good

  1. Triple 8 Dual Certified MIPS
  2. Bell Reflex
  3. Bontrager Solstice
  4. Bern Brentwood
  5. Bell Division
  6. Schwinn Thrasher
  7. Giro Revel
  8. Schwinn Flash
  9. Kali City
  10. Nutcase Street
  11. Specialized Centro
  12. Bontrager Electra

2-Star, Adequate

  1. Lazer Genesis
  2. Bern Watts

Call an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney in the Los Angeles Area

Bicycle accidents, whether they involve a collision with a motor vehicle or not, can do serious damage, causing injuries, property damage, and even death.

If you or a loved one are in need of an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in southern California, call the Ellis Injury Law Firm at 1-800-INJURED. Our initial consultation is always free. We have been serving the southern California community for more than 2 decades.

Additional Resources:

  1. National Safety Council. “Bike Safety: Live to Ride Another Day.” https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/summer/bicycles
  2. IIHC News. “New tests show some bike helmets protect better than others. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Highway Loss Data Institute. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/new-tests-show-some-bike-helmets-protect-better-than-others

Worst Vehicle Pileup Accidents in Southern California History

traffic jamSouthern California is, unfortunately, known for its car accidents. One of the most serious is the pileup, when vehicle after vehicle crashes. Injuries and loss of life from car accidents like this can be extensive.

Read on for 3 of the worst vehicle pileup accidents in southern California history.

1. Dust Storm Causes a 93-vehicle Pileup on I-5

We go back in the history books for the first one, which ended up in a 93-vehicle pileup in 1991. The cause? A huge dust storm, occasioned by a multiyear drought, that blinded drivers with winds up to 60 miles per hour.

The crashes included big rigs, whose gas tanks exploded. In the end, the carnage claimed 17 lives over a 160-mile portion of Interstate 5. Roughly 150 people were injured.

I-5 was closed down for miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles for more than a day. This is officially one of the worst multicar accidents in California history.

2. Tule Fog Results in a 100-Vehicle Pileup

Weather also caused a larger pileup in 2007, but this time, it was central California tule fog rather than drought-driven dust. Roughly 100 cars hit each other in a chain reaction, killing 2 people and injuring “dozens,” according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

Dozens of cars were “mangled and crushed” as well. The crash occurred on Highway 99 south of Fresno. The CHP indicated that visibility due to the fog was approximately two feet, so it was likely the cars may not have seen each other until it was too late to stop.

Large rigs were involved in this accident as well, but fortunately, no fires or hazardous material spills resulted.

3. A Truck Accident Causes 70 Cars to Collide on I-170 in Los Angeles

Weather was a contributing factor again in 2002 when a semi truck hit a freeway center divider on I-710 in Los Angeles. The semi accident, early in rush hour on a day where southern California fog was already impeding visibility, caused approximately 70 vehicles to end up in a domino effect.

Forty-five people were injured in the pileup, 5 seriously. Fortunately, no one died.

I-710 between I-405 and Highway 91 was closed for nearly a day.

How an Experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney Can Help

Vehicle pileups are only the most dramatic form of car accidents that occur every day, and can cause damage to people and property. In the worst case, they can cause fatalities. These pileups also illustrate how important it is to drive defensively and obey the rules of the road, including leaving adequate car lengths between yourself and other motorists.

A seasoned Los Angeles car crash attorney at our form can advise you of your legal rights and options for pursuing money compensation. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or death from a crash in southern California, contact Ellis Injury Law today at 1-800-INJURED for a discussion about your case, at no cost to you.

Additional Resources:

  1. “93-Vehicle Pileup Called Worst in California History.” Deseret News. December 1, 1991. https://www.deseretnews.com/article/196611/93-VEHICLE-PILEUP-CALLED-WORST-IN-CALIFORNIA-HISTORY.html
  2. “100 Car Pileup Kills 2 In California.” CBS. November 3, 2007. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/100-car-pileup-kills-2-in-california/
  3. “Fog causes 70-car pileup on I-710 in LA.” UPI. November 3, 2002. https://www.upi.com/Fog-causes-70-car-pileup-on-I-710-in-LA/53731036350654/

“Frightening” Pedestrian-Car Accident at LAX Sends 2 to the Hospital

ambulanceA car suddenly swerved out of a lane at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Thursday, June 21, hitting a person sitting on one of the benches in the terminal.

LAX police noted that neither the driver, who was alone in the car, or the person hit was seriously hurt. Both were listed in stable condition, and the pedestrian was being examined for cuts or bruises.

While the investigation is currently ongoing, police believe that the driver may have swerved due to a medical condition.

Observers said that the car made a frightening bump when it hit the bench and the pedestrian. The vehicle, a Toyota Prius, had a crumpled passenger side.

Negligence in Accidents Between Cars and Pedestrians

It’s not possible to know the causes of this particular accident since the investigation is still ongoing. It is, however, possible to make some general observations about the law that surrounds vehicles and pedestrians in the state of California. The person sitting on the bench would be classified as a pedestrian because that person was on the side of a roadway.

Drivers have a duty of reasonable care when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle, to everyone. That includes fellow drivers, their passengers, other vehicles, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. Reasonable care includes following the rules of the road, paying attention to traffic conditions, climate conditions, and any other factors which could affect driving conditions and safety.

Pedestrians are expected to follow the rules pertaining to them. They should not dart into areas reserved for moving cars, for example. If there are crosswalks or pedestrian stop signs, pedestrians need to follow them. If there are designated areas for pedestrians, such as terminal benches, they should use them.

In legal cases, one party can bring suit against another if injuries or death has been caused in an accident. One party may be found responsible for damages if they are deemed negligent by the court. “Negligent” means they didn’t exercise reasonable care. A driver going at 50 mph in a 25-mph zone, for example, could be found negligent because exceeding the speed limit failed to exercise reasonable care.

Call an Experienced Car and Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

There are far too many accidents involving cars and pedestrians in Los Angeles. If you or a loved one ever need a seasoned pedestrian accident attorney in southern California, call the attorneys at the Ellis Injury Law Firm. We have successfully litigated cases like these for 2 decades, winning maximum compensation for our clients. Trust in our track record — we have won 99% of the cases we take on! Please call today at 1-800-INJURED for a free initial consultation.

Additional Resources:

  1. ABC 7 Eyewitness News. Car swerves off road, injures pedestrian at LAX. June 21, 2018. http://abc7.com/disasters-accidents/car-swerves-off-road-injures-pedestrian-at-lax/3633360/
  2. Car swerves off road, injures pedestrian at LAX. Inglewood Today. June 21, 2018. http://www.inglewoodtoday.com/car-swerves-off-road-injures-pedestrian-at-lax/

NHTSA: 2,456 Lives Could Have Been Saved with Seat Belts

A report recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that, of the total fatalities caused by car accidents during 2016, 10,428 of them were not wearing their seat belts. The crash data further suggest that 2,456 lives could have been saved if every occupant over the age of five wore their seat belts.

Click It or Ticket campaign

The report comes on the heels of the annual Click It or Ticket campaign, which federal highway officials run nationwide from May 21 through June 3. The public awareness campaign is intended to encourage people to think twice before not wearing their seat belts. It warns of the consequences of not wearing a seat belt, including the potential legal consequences.

The data suggest that the Click It or Ticket campaign has been successful in recent years. There is been a steadily climbing percentage of motorists and passengers using their seat belts, culminating in a high of 88.5 percent during 2014. And it’s been estimated that, during 2016, seat belt usage saved about 15,000 lives. But clearly, more can be done.

During this year’s Click It or Ticket campaign, the roadways were extensively patrolled by officers from 10,000 law enforcement agencies from around the country. They followed a zero tolerance policy toward unbuckled drivers and occupants.

Risks of complacency regarding larger vehicles and back seats

One of the reasons why not everyone wears a seat belt all the time is the mistaken belief that they aren’t necessary when riding in a larger vehicle. It’s true that larger vehicles may withstand a crash better than small cars, but they don’t necessarily protect occupants any better. Humans are still highly vulnerable to the forces of a crash—no matter what type of car they’re riding in. The NHTSA reports that, during 2016, 61 percent of the occupants of trucks who were killed in an accident were not wearing their seat belts. This is in stark contrast to the 42 percent of passenger vehicle fatalities who were unbuckled.

It’s worth noting too, that many passengers are more complacent about seat belt use when they ride in the back seat. Again, it’s possible to be killed in a car no matter where a person is sitting. The NHTSA data show that, during 2016, 47 percent of all front passengers who were killed were not wearing their seat belts. This is compared to the 57 percent of back seat passengers who lost their lives, and who were not buckled in.

Effective legal advocacy services for car accident victims in Los Angeles

Every life lost is a tragedy. Here at Ellis Injury Law in southern California, we deeply sympathize with the families of individuals who lost their lives in accidents. Nothing can bring your loved one back, but you may be able to hold those responsible accountable for their reckless or negligent actions. Our car accident lawyers in Los Angeles offer complimentary, no-obligation case consultations to determine if you may have the basis to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Call us toll-free at 888-828-5603.

Additional resources for car accident victims

  1. NHTSA, Occupant Protection in Passenger Vehicles, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812494
  2. NHTSA, Click It or Ticket: Seat Belts Save Lives, https://www.nhtsa.gov/click-it-or-ticket-seat-belts-save-lives

3 Great California Road Trip Ideas

Bixby Bridge (Rocky Creek Bridge) and Pacific Coast Highway at sunset near Big Sur in California, USA. Long exposure.

The rumors of the road trip’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, people do tend to fly these days, and even when they drive, the destination usually takes priority over the journey itself. But many people still love the quintessentially American road trip. So get the car tuned up and get ready to see the amazing sights America has to offer. California is the perfect state for a classic summer road trip because of its many natural wonders, charming small towns, and exciting attractions.

Exploring the High Sierra

The High Sierra is a drop-dead gorgeous region in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in eastern California. Plan to take at least a week exploring this area. Start at Lake Tahoe, and take your time enjoying the crystal clear waters and clean air. The nearby resorts feature mountain biking and hiking trails for summer visitors. From there, drive about two hours south on I-395 to Bodie, a ghost town. After you explore, head down to Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. It’s a geologically unique, million-year-old lake. From there, head to Mammoth Lakes and Devils Postpile National Monument. The Devils Postpile is a weird rock formation that looks like it can’t possibly be natural—except that it is. Continue on to the rest of your road trip stops: The Manzanar National Historic Site, Mount Whitney, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Yosemite National Park, and Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

Fresno Blossom and Fruit Trails

If you’re in the mood for a shorter day trip, take the 62-mile loop east of Fresno. Late winter and early summer are the best times to go. You’ll see beautiful, blossoming cherry trees, and if you go in the early summer, you’ll have ample opportunities to sample the local fruit markets. Some must-see stops are Simonian Farms in Fresno, Cedar View Winery in Sanger, and Hillcrest Farm in Reedley.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway

The name says it all. It’s 100-plus miles of winding roads around mountains and overlooking lakes, cliffs, and the Pacific Ocean. Start at State Highway 18, which will take you around the San Bernardino Mountains, and get your camera ready as you head up to Big Bear Lake. Along the way, keep your eye out for stops like Lake Arrowhead, Heaps Peak Arboretum, and the Keller Peak Fire Lookout near the town of Running Springs. Bring your bathing suit for some summer fun at your final destination—Big Bear Lake. It has just about every water sport imaginable—paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, jet skiing, sailing, and power boating.

No matter how carefully you plan your road trip, unexpected problems can crop up when you least expect them. A car accident can completely derail your vacation plans, but with the help of the car accident lawyers in Los Angeles, California, you can move forward from the crash. At Ellis Injury Law, we have years of experience securing compensation for our clients’ medical bills and property damage. Call us today at 888-744-0191 for your free case consultation.

Additional resources for planning your California road trip:

  1. Good Housekeeping, 20+ Road Trip Must-Haves, https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/travel-products/g453/road-trip-essentials/
  2. Smarter Travel, 10 (and a Half) Tips for Road Trips, https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/06/19/10-half-tips-road-trips/

Is Uber or Lyft Cheaper in LA?

uber lyft rideshareWhether you need transport to LAX, or a late-night pick-up from your favorite bar, rideshare services are fast, convenient and affordably priced. Uber and Lyft dominate the app-based ride service connecting passengers with drivers, and if you’re like most people on a budget, you’re thrilled to have an alternative to traditional taxi cabs.

The cost of rideshare services can vary widely from one area of the country to another, but when stacked against taxi rates, they are still much easier on the wallet.

According to fare data collected by RideGuru, a four-mile jaunt in Los Angeles will set you back an average of $25 if you take a conventional taxi. By contrast, that same four-mile trip would cost between $10 and $11 dollars if you requested an UberX or Lyft driver.

Besides the obvious convenience of hailing a local driver with the tap of a button, this price difference is what has fueled Lyft and Uber’s success, particularly on long-haul trips that typically cost more than $30.

Uber vs Lyft price comparison

If you live in the greater Los Angeles metro area and are wondering which ride hailing service is cheaper, there is no easy answer as it really depends on your destination and timing. Some residents who are daily commuters to Beverly Hills report better deals with Uber about 80 percent of the time.

What do you need to watch out for to score the best rates? Promotional opportunities for one. Every now and then, Lyft or Uber may offer a small 5-10 percent discount on their rates. Surge pricing is another factor to keep on your radar. This occurs during peak travel times when there are limited pools of available drivers and the demand is high.  Surge rates can turn a normally reasonable fare into hundreds of dollars if you’re caught off guard. This dynamic pricing structure has annoyed thousands of Uber and Lyft customers, whose fares doubled or tripled during prime travel hours.

Both companies have launched a feature on their app that calculates the estimated total fare upfront, giving passengers a concrete idea of the cost before they accept the ride. If you’re not in a hurry, there are a few strategies to get around surge pricing. You can wait out the surge zone hours, try walking a few blocks to another destination where surge pricing isn’t in effect, or even try upgrading your vehicle choice. Some people report that UberX, the most economical and popular option, is more prone to surge pricing. In some cases, an Uber Black may end up being cheaper than an UberX because they are not surging.

If you’re still in doubt about which is cheaper, there are several online fare calculator services that will give you cost comparisons for your journey using Uber, Lyft and a regular taxi.

Helping victims of ride sharing accidents

If you or someone you love were injured in a ride sharing accident in Southern California, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Both Uber and Lyft’s drivers are covered by a $1 million liability and uninsured /underinsured motorist policy. Call Ellis Law in Los Angeles for a free, no-obligation case review with Uber and Lyft accident lawyers. Our award-winning legal team is available to take your call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call 1-800-INJURED today to explore your legal options with car accident lawyers Los Angeles residents trust.

Additional Resources on Uber & Lyft Pricing:

  1. UberHelp, How are fares calculated? https://help.uber.com/h/d2d43bbc-f4bb-4882-b8bb-4bd8acf03a9d
  2. EstomateFares.com, Los Angeles Lyft Rates https://estimatefares.com/rates/los-angeles
  3. Quora.com, Is Lyft or Uber Cheaper in LA https://www.quora.com/Is-Lyft-or-Uber-cheaper-in-LA
  4. RideGuru, Uber vs. Lyft vs. Taxi: Cost Analysis Across the United States https://ride.guru/content/newsroom/uber-vs-lyft-vs-taxi-cost-analysis-across-the-united-states

Can GPS Apps Cause Car Accidents? Baxter Street Residents Say Yes

United States MUTCD regulatory road sign - Only left.

Car accident-prone Baxter Street in Los Angeles began life on an 1853 surveyor’s map, and entered its adolescence in 1872 when it was officially declared a street. Rumor has it Baxter was originally designated as a goat thoroughfare. Others claim it was supposed to be a pedestrian access path. But during the early 1900s, Baxter Street became a publicity stunt. Photographers snapped as early automobile manufacturers showed off how their products could climb this ridiculously steep monstrosity.

At a 32-percent grade, Baxter Street is easily steeper than some of San Francisco’s notorious roadways. It’s even on a list of the top 10 steepest roads in America. This dubious designation might be more exciting for Los Angeles residents if it weren’t for the frequent car accidents here, allegedly made worse by navigation apps like Waze.

Can you sue a navigation app because of a crash?

GPS apps are intended to make everyday life easier for users, in part by diverting drivers to alternate routes during rush hour. In LA, one of those alternate routes is Baxter St. The problem is that navigation apps like Waze do not mark Baxter Street as potentially hazardous. This applies to all vehicles, which means drivers of big trucks, limousines, school buses, or other lengthy vehicles have no prior warning that the hill they are ascending has a very small summit before beginning a steep decline. The Baxter Street summit is notorious for scraping the undercarriages of vehicles, and it’s been said that some vehicles have had to be airlifted off the hill.

The traffic congestion isn’t just problematic for passersby; it’s a nightmare for residents. “The car came through our garden, went through two fences and ended up backwards hanging over our driveway,” said Jason Luther, a Baxter Street resident, discussing an accident that occurred during a recent rainfall. Another resident, Robbie Adams, said, “We had our garden wall knocked down twice, and my wife’s car got hit in our own driveway. I’ve seen five or six cars smash into other cars, and it’s getting worse.”

Baxter Street residents have mobilized in an attempt to get Waze to take Baxter Street off its list of suggested alternative routes—or at least, to mark it as a hazard when it rains. A spokesperson for the app said that making such a change was impossible due to technical issues.

Residents and local officials are getting together to discuss possible solutions, but in the meantime, accidents are still happening, and this begs the question: Can a navigation app be sued for car accidents? This is a legal issue that’s still in its infancy, but the question has increasingly been popping up all over the U.S. and abroad.

Filing a lawsuit against Waze is not without precedent. A homeowners’ association in Tel Aviv, Israel has filed a lawsuit against Waze after drivers using the app turned a sleepy neighborhood street into a major thoroughfare, virtually overnight. And last year, two Israeli soldiers were directed by Waze to enter a refugee camp housing Palestinians. They had to be rescued by the Israeli Army. One person was killed, and 10 were wounded. Although these incidents happened in foreign jurisdictions, they do point to the possibility that a navigation app may be held liable, assuming that it can be proven the app was negligent in suggesting Baxter Street as a safe alternative route.

Legal remedies for car accident victims

Even if it’s a stretch to sue a navigation app, car accident victims do have well-established legal avenues available to them. A driver may be held liable if it’s determined that he or she struck another car due to unsafe actions behind the wheel. If a crash happens because brakes fail, and a design defect is to blame, then the manufacturer of the brakes might be held liable. Homeowners may secure an insurance settlement or legal award against a driver who crashes into their home or other property, particularly if that driver was going too fast given the conditions of the road.

Residents in Los Angeles and throughout southern California turn to Ellis Injury Law when they have complex legal problems. Our experienced team of investigators and car accident lawyers in Los Angeles provide personalized, compassionate assistance to victims and their families. Anyone affected by a Baxter Street car accident, or a crash elsewhere in California, is encouraged to request a free case review at our office. Call toll-free at 888-981-9214, any time of the day or night.

Additional resources on app-driven car accidents:

  1. Los Angeles Times, On one of L.A.’s steepest streets, an app-driven frenzy of spinouts, confusion and crashes, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-lopez-echo-park-traffic-20180404-story.html
  2. Forward, Israelis Sue Waze Navigation App for Creating Neighborhood Traffic Jam, https://forward.com/news/israel/356487/israelis-sue-waze-navigation-app-for-creating-neighborhood-traffic-jam/

Is Your Sunroof Putting You in Danger?

palm trees in santa barbara through car sunroofRoughly 40 percent of all 2017 model year trucks and passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. came equipped with a sunroof – an optional feature that has been gaining popularity in recent years.

While sunroofs have tons of merits (fresh air and sunshine, for one), are these sought-after options putting drivers at risk?

Sunroof shattering incidents

Recent reports of sunroof glass exploding have rolled in with increasing frequency. One man was driving his 2013 Hyundai Tucson when the sunroof spontaneously shattered, raining glass over his head and body. According to a report by the Global News, there are certain models that have been more prone to this structural defect in sunroof glass. Among the top offenders were:

  • Hyundai Santa Fe (37 incidents)
  • Nissan Murano (19)
  • BMW 3 Series (13)
  • Kia Sorento (10)

Preliminary research points to contaminants in the glass that undermines the stability, especially during high temperatures.

A 2017 investigation by Consumer Reports discovered that sunroof exploding accidents are not that rare. According to their database, some 900 shattering incidents spanning 35 vehicle brands have been reported. Nearly three-quarters of the incidents have happened in the past six years – a period when larger panoramic sunroofs became more common.

Some automakers like General Motors have initiated their own internal review of the risks posed by panoramic sunroofs, even though their shattering rate was much lower than Kia and Hyundai models.

Congress and auto industry trade groups have been urged to review sunroof designs, particularly in newer panoramic sunroofs– and pay closer attention to this obvious safety issue.

Crash data on sunroof ejections

Whether open or closed during a crash, sunroofs can still be hazardous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that from 1997 -2008, 1,400 were injured and 300 more killed when they were ejected from their sunroofs. Between 2002- 2012, 500 people were hurt and 230 died when they were thrown through sunroofs that were closed at the time of impact.

Despite evidence that sunroof designs may be inherently dangerous, legislators have not come to consensus on design and safety standards for automakers. Last year, NHTSA made strides in creating a viable performance gauge to monitor the strength of laminated glass used in sunroofs. In the event that federal regulators do impose standards on sunroof design and manufacture, laminated glass (the same type used in windshields) will likely be top on the list.

Sunroof ejection crash reports shed light on the horrific nature of the injuries. 18-year old Liza Hankins – a Mississippi resident — was left permanently paralyzed when she was thrown out of her Ford’s sunroof during an accident. Others have suffered disfiguring scars, broken bones and internal injuries.

Los Angeles auto defect attorneys

Both the NHTSA and automakers have more than sufficient evidence of the dangers posed by defective sunroofs and those that are poorly designed. In order to recover monetary damages from a vehicle manufacturer in the wake of a sunroof-related injury, victims would need to assert claims of defective design or manufacture.

Establishing liability for your injuries and whether they were preventable are key to a successful lawsuit. Call Ellis Injury Law to schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles car accident attorney to explore your rights.

Additional Resources on Sunroof Safety: 

  1. New York Times, Sunroofs Are Growing in Size and Popularity. Rules Haven’t Kept Up https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/business/car-sunroof-safety.html
  2. New York Times, In a Rollover, You’re Safer Inside https://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/automobiles/in-a-rollover-youre-safer-inside.html
  3. Consumer Reports, GM Says It Will Review Safety of Panoramic Sunroofs https://www.consumerreports.org/car-safety/gm-review-safety-of-panoramic-sunroofs/
  4. Chicago Tribune, Sunroofs and safety: Reports of shattering glass on the rise http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/sc-auto-cover-0222-exploding-sunroofs-20180220-story.html