Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP

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Murrieta Personal Injury Law Blog

Animal bites may quickly lead to serious infections, tetanus

Each year, more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs and more than 400,000 people are bitten by cats across the country, and many of these incidents take place in California. Though cat bites account for fewer animal bites, they have a greater risk of being infected. Approximately 50 percent of cat bites will become infected while only 10 to 15 percent of dog bites result in infection. Experts believe this could be because cats have sharp teeth that cause deep punctures.

When an animal bite punctures the skin, bacteria that are in the animal's mouth or saliva, in the environment or on the victim's skin may enter the wound. Once inside the body, the bacteria can quickly multiply, causing inflammation and swelling. If an infected bite is not treated promptly, a condition called tetanus may develop. Tetanus is a bacterial disease that attacks the nervous system and causes muscles to become stiff and rigid.

Road Safe America calls for mandatory speed limiters on trucks

On Jan. 28, Road Safe America released a sobering new report showing that large truck crashes have increased in California and most other states over the last eight years. In response to its findings, the organization is renewing its call for the mandatory use of speed limiters and automatic emergency braking systems by the trucking industry.

To prepare the report, Road Safe America researchers examined federal crash data from 2009 until 2017. During that time, 35,882 Americans died in traffic accidents involving large trucks. The states with the highest number of large truck deaths in 2017 were Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania. From 2009 through 2017, the states with the greatest percentage increases in truck accident fatalities were Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and Nevada.

Study finds that more drivers are texting behind the wheel

California drivers aren't talking on their cell phones as much as they were four years ago, according to a new report. However, the study revealed that drivers are now more likely to use their cell phones to text or send emails.

To prepare the report, which was issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, researchers analyzed the findings of two observational surveys that were conducted on drivers stopped at red lights in four Northern Virginia towns. One survey was conducted in 2014, and the other was done in 2018. The researchers found that drivers in 2018 were 57 percent more likely to use their cell phones for texting or emails than drivers in 2014. On the other hand, 2014 drivers were more likely to use their phones to make calls than 2018 drivers.

Safety coalition aims to eliminate traffic deaths by 2050

There are roughly 100 deaths per day on the roadways throughout California and the rest of the country. According to the Road to Zero Coalition, all of these deaths are preventable. That's why the coalition has set a goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by the year 2050. The CEO of the National Safety Council understands that the target date may be ambitious. However, she pointed out that sending a man to the moon seemed like an ambitious goal as well 50 years ago.

The group understands that both commercial and passenger vehicles have a role to play as it relates to cutting down on traffic deaths. For instance, all drivers should wear seat belts. While 90 percent of drivers do so today, those who don't wear safety belts account for 50 percent of traffic fatalities. Getting people the care that they need after an accident can also cut down on traffic deaths.

Avoiding large truck collisions in California

The U.S. DoT recorded 3,986 large truck crash fatalities in 2016 through its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. When compared to FARS data in 2009, this represents a 27 percent jump in fatalities. Considering the great weight of commercial trucks, it's no surprise that 66 percent of those fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants.

Drivers will want to know how they can stay safe around large trucks. First, drivers should not become distracted by their smartphones or other electrical devices. They should be aware of the trucker's movements, noting any unsafe behaviors like drifting in and out of lanes. Truckers may swerve out of the way of debris or oil spills, letting drivers know about road conditions ahead of time.

ADHD medication might lower car accident risk

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may pose special risks when it comes to driving, but people with ADHD might reduce the risks by taking medication. According to research published by JAMA Psychiatry, as many as 22.1 percent of car accidents involving ADHD patients may have been avoided if the patients had been taking proper medication.

Previous research has indicated that people with ADHD are involved in more car accidents than those who do not have ADHD. The symptoms of the disorder may include hyperactivity, lessened impulse control and an inability to pay steady attention. People with ADHD are more likely to excessively chatter, fidget or tap their fingers or feet. These symptoms can interfere with the person's ability to drive safely, according to a Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics researcher at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet.

Dump and concrete delivery truck crashes continue to rise

Truck drivers in California may be aware of the rising number of accidents in their industry. Too many truckers are engaging in bad driving habits, including speeding, driving drowsy and talking on the phone while behind the wheel. Some even feel urged to be negligent because of the incentives they receive with every load delivered.

It comes as no surprise that ready-mix concrete and dump trucks have experienced a rise in serious accidents, which is defined as anything requiring the vehicle to be towed away. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report shows a 9 and 9.6 percent jump in serious accidents involving dump and concrete delivery trucks, respectively, in the year 2016. This is the latest year for which statistics are available.

Researchers link increase in animal bites to climate change

Researchers at Stanford University believe the frequency and number of animal bites will likely continue to increase due to changes with the climate. What's referred to as a developmental sprawl has already been associated with increases in exposure to mosquitoes and ticks. Researchers also warn that the available habitat for some animals will likely continue to overlap with areas where humans live and enjoy recreational activities.

Increased encounters with animals also means more opportunities for serious injuries from bites and/or attacks. Animal-related injuries already account for about $1 billion in health costs in the U.S., a figure that may spike if the researchers' predictions hold true. According to university-cited stats, Americans spent $6 billion on care for animal bites over a five year period. This doesn't include additional expenses related to physician and outpatient client fees and lost productivity.

Bill requiring underride guards on big rigs stalls in Senate

A collision with a big rig on a California highway often turns deadly if a passenger vehicle lodges beneath the trailer, especially from the rear. Known as underride crashes, they can decapitate vehicle passengers at low speeds or inflict serious head and neck injuries. In 2011, 19 percent of fatal wrecks involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles were underride accidents. Federal legislation that would require guards to prevent vehicles from sliding beneath trailers has failed to move past the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 has languished for a year despite bipartisan support. The committee has not scheduled a hearing about the legislation, but the new Congress might revive it in January. If passed into law, the act would mandate that trucking fleets install underride guards that meet modern standards. The U.S. Department of Transportation would evaluate underride protection technology every five years and update standards as necessary.

ZF says external airbags reduce severity of side impact injuries

Side impact crashes are some of the most severe car crashes in California. Many car parts manufacturers, however, are working to perfect the technology behind external airbags. According to one of these manufacturers, the ZF Group, external airbags can reduce the injury severity of side collisions by up to 40 percent. This could encourage others to consider the technology.

ZF's external airbag model goes on a vehicle's sides and acts as an additional crumple zone, absorbing the shock of the crash. It weighs about 13 pounds, and its dimensions are 80 inches by 15 inches by 21 inches. Despite its size, it has an inflation time of 15 milliseconds, which is comparable to that of the typical steering wheel airbag.

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