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Santa Monica Personal Injury Law Blog

Legal Staff Finds Support at CAALA

GB&W's long time legal assistant, Sheri Dempsey, is the newly appointed Chair of the Legal Staff Support Group for the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA). This is the inaugural year for the all legal staff six-person team which is responsible for organizing four local seminars a year and the Legal Staff Track at the CAALA Las Vegas Seminar to help legal staffers.

The goal is to provide guidance, advice and resources to law firm assistants and paralegals who play a critical role in keeping lawyers organized and on schedule so they can better serve their clients. "Many attorneys resolve their cases without actually going to trial, so it is important that we pass along knowledge and offer suggestions on how to handle situations that a less experienced staff member may not have encountered," said Dempsey, who has worked as a legal assistant to plaintiff attorneys Browne Greene and Geoff Wells for the past 26 years. She added, "The law and the codes are constantly changing so it is important that we stay informed and share information."

Key reasons why accidents happen, and what you can do about it

A major study was published in 2008 by researchers at the University of Michigan that largely has gone unnoticed in the years since. Part of this is because for the better part of the last decade, car accidents and fatalities related to those accidents were on the decline. But that all changed int he last couple of years. Accidents and deaths have jumped up in alarmingly large chunks.

But the study is still important. It looked at nearly 7,000 accident from all across the country and analyzed causes of the wrecks and behaviors of the drivers involved in them. The study concluded that there are a few common reasons why accidents happen.

Avoiding accidents: Essential tips for pedestrians and bikers

Every week, numerous pedestrians and bikers are hurt on the streets of Southern California. Many of these injured people are struck by motor vehicles as they are crossing the street, riding a bicycle, preparing to board a bus or get into a car, or simply standing on the corner. Sometimes distracted driving is to blame, but not always.

Some injuries can be avoided, even if drivers are behaving negligently. Here are some practical steps you can take to steer clear of accidents and keep yourself safe on city and suburban streets.

Car hits, kills bicyclist from behind on Pacific Coast Highway

Tragedy struck yet again on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, California recently. The accident involved a bicyclist and a car. The wreck occurred at about 7 p.m. a few weeks back, and it left the bicyclist with terrible, and ultimately fatal, injuries. The bicyclist was traveling north along the Pacific Coast Highway and he was struck from behind by a car. The driver of the car initially fled the scene of the accident, but eventually returned and cooperated with police.

The crash is being investigated and there are no signs that the driver of the vehicle was intoxicated. This was at least the eighth fatal accident in Santa Monica this year, and in the past two years there have only been one fatal pedestrian accident each year. We are clearly seeing a trend when it comes to road and public safety, and it isn't trending in the right direction.

More details emerge about deadly Palm Springs bus crash

Last October we wrote about a fatal tour bus crash near Palm Springs. 13 people died and dozens were injured when the bus collided with the back of a big rig truck. At the time, the cause of the accident was unclear but the following months revealed additional details about what happened on that dark highway.

The crash occurred on Interstate 10 near Palm Springs, a stretch of road where California Highway Patrol Officers had briefly stopped traffic because of utility work. When traffic resumed, the driver of the truck in question did not resume driving because he had fallen asleep. An investigation by the California Highway Patrol found that the driver had been working illegally long hours – but, according to new evidence, that was not the sole cause of the accident.

2016 survey, national data show dangers of distracted driving

It should go without saying that distracted driving is an incredibly dangerous behavior. How could it not be seen this way? Drivers that engage in looking at their phones or sending a text while driving are actively taking their eyes and minds off the road, and instead focusing on emojis and social media. It's blatantly obvious that it is dangerous, and yet people still do it.

In 2013, 3,154 were killed in distracted driving accidents in the United States. Another 424,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents. Additionally, about 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 that were involved in fatal wrecks were distracted at the time of the crash. This problem isn't going away -- in fact, given that last piece of information, it may only be getting worse.

Investigation is crucial after a truck accident

Just like with any motor vehicle accident, no two truck accidents will ever be the same. The force of the collision will be different every time. The circumstances involved in the crash will be unique and one-of-a-kind, just like a fingerprint. However, the pain and suffering that the victims will go through after a truck accident will be eerily similar. Every victim of a truck accident will see their lives changed -- whether it is temporary or permanent depends on those unique circumstances though.

In many of these truck accidents, the blame can be found in the driver's seat. Truck drivers are supposed to be highly trained and safe operators of a powerful vehicle. But in many cases, the drivers end up rushed, tired, or downright negligent when operating their vehicles.

Establishing liability after a car accident

This may seem like a silly question at first, but: how do you prove liability in a car accident? From a subjective point of view, it may seem clear. When you are involved in a wreck, you have clear emotions and feelings of anger, and you may think the other driver's actions or behaviors out on the road make it obvious how they are at fault for the wreck. But from an objective and legal point of view, clear evidence needs to be established.

So how do you get such evidence? Well, there are a few sources for this information. The first is a police report. If the police are called to your accident scene -- which won't always happen -- you can look through a copy of the report they write up about the accident. It could provide critical information that establishes fault.

Will new program reduce distracted driving among teenagers?

There are plenty of statistics that paint a very scary picture about teenage drivers and how distracted driving affects them. First of all, take this broader statistic: car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Then consider this statistic: about 10 percent of drivers age 15-19 that got into fatal car accidents were distracted at the time of the wreck.

It is for these reasons, among many others, that the California Highway Patrol is teaming up with Impact Teen Drivers (ITD) to launch a new campaign to reach out to teenage drivers and try to convince them to keep their cell phones in their pockets when they are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

Words of Wisdom: The value of mentoring new lawyers

Aspiring attorneys face a variety of challenges, which can derail their dreams of entering the legal field. A dramatic drop in law school applicants has forced more law schools to close. There is increased competition for fewer full-time job openings and the growing automation of legal services is outsourcing a significant amount of legal work. These hurdles make it all th e more critical for young lawyers to get practice-based, hands-on experience before entering the workforce.

For fresh law school graduates, one of the best ways to get a leg up on the competition is to find strong mentoring programs that offer insight and opportunities to engage with the day-to-day activities of practicing law. While law school lays the foundation in preparing the next generation of lawyers, it's the legal community at large that must share in this obligation to prepare and mentor. It is the responsibility of seasoned attorneys to mentor law students to better prepare them for real world scenarios so they can handle stressful situations with confidence.

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