August 29, 2014

Bike Riding to Become Safer in Santa Ana

English: Bike lanes were created in 2010 on Ja...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bike riding and walking is about to become safer in Santa Ana. California has awarded the city $3 million in grant funds to add new bicycle lanes and upgrade traffic signals, reported the Orange County Register. Along with several other cities across the state, Santa Ana applied for funding for the projects with the California Transportation Commission through its Active Transportation Program, which received requests for a total of $184 million in projects. Approved for six of the eleven projects it submitted to the agency, Santa Ana will spend the funding it receives on ‘bicycle boulevards’ along Bishop Street, Pacific Avenue, and Shelton Street and on designated bike lanes along Newhope Street, Civic Center Drive, and Grand Avenue. It will also be modifying traffic lights and signage near schools.

Much of the population relies on bike riding and walking to get around, so hopefully these improvements will have an affect on Santa Ana’s poor safety record for bicycle and pedestrian accidents. In 2011, the most current year for which the California Office of Traffic Safety has published accident data, Santa Ana ranked 4th out 13 cities with populations of over 250,000 for bicycle and pedestrian accidents in a ranking system in which 1st place is considered the worst.

Improving a city’s infrastructure for bike riding and walking is a critical element of any motor vehicle crash reduction program, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This includes ensuring the city is equipped with signed routes, marked lanes, wide curb lanes, and paved shoulders, as well as sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, and paths.

Adding bike lanes can not only reduce injuries but also boost the economy: after adding protected bike lanes to two car-congested streets in Manhattan, 8th and 9th Avenues, the city’s transportation department recorded a 35 percent drop in accident-related injuries for all street users on 8th Avenue and a 58 percent decrease on 9th Avenue. Business along 9th Avenue reported a 50 percent increase in income from retail sales—which is understandable, as stopping to make a purchase or check out a new business is much easier on a bicycle than in a car.

We’re looking forward to seeing how the new infrastructure in Santa Ana improves bike riding and walking, and maybe even the economy and traffic congestion too.

What do you think of Santa Ana’s new transportation projects? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Additional articles on health and public safety are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

August 20, 2014

Peanut & Almond Butter Sold in Health & Grocery Stores Recalled

Peanut butter is a semi-solid and can therefor...

Peanut butter is a semi-solid and can therefore hold peaks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether you buy your peanut or almond butter at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or Ralphs, you should throw it out and contact the producer, nSpired Natural Foods Inc., for a refund. After routine testing of nSpired’s nut butters revealed the risk of Salmonella contamination, the Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that the company would be voluntarily recalling several lots of its products.


The recall affects peanut, almond, and nut butters sold under the following brands: Arrowhead Mills, MaraNatha, Kroger, Safeway, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods’ 365 label. Four illnesses that may be related to the use of these products have been reported. For a complete listing of recalled items, visit the FDA’s website.


To request a refund or a replacement, contact nSpired Natural Foods Inc. at 1-800-937-7008 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CT.


Salmonella causes an estimated 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The onset of symptoms, which include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, occurs 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually persists for four to seven days and does not require medical treatment. In severe cases, however, hospitalization may be necessary and the infection may spread from the intestines into the blood stream, possibly causing death. Individuals with impaired immune systems, the elderly, and infants are more susceptible to severe illness.


Additional articles on health and public safety are available free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.


August 19, 2014

L.A. Council: Fix Sidewalks with Biggest Risk of Legal Liability First

Broken asphalt road by Chuetsu Earthquake, 200...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In their 40 years practicing personal injury law in California, the lawyers in our office have handled hundreds of cases involving pedestrians injured in accidents that were the result of the failure of city governments to properly maintain walkways. In Los Angeles, where 40 percent of the sidewalks were estimated to be damaged in the late 1990s—a proportion that’s most likely grown by now—and where citizens routinely file trip-and-fall claims against the city, officials have decided to use their $27 million budget to fix the sidewalks with the biggest risk of legal liability first, reported the Los Angeles Times.


In order to avoid liability for pedestrian accidents on property for which the city “is indisputably responsible” and to ensure access to public amenities, sidewalks on or near city properties like parks and libraries will be repaired first, though this year’s budget will not cover the cost to fix all of them.


As for fixing the buckled, crumbling sidewalks lining residents’ homes, the L.A. City Council is still debating who should pay for the repairs. Under California law, property owners are responsible for properly maintaining their sidewalks. In the 1970s, the city voluntarily repaired sidewalks that had been damaged by street trees, shifting the burden of maintaining them away from homeowners and onto the city. However, the city lacked the resources for such a program and soon left sidewalks to deteriorate. One proposal is to have the city share responsibility for sidewalk repair with property owners by splitting the cost.


While L.A.’s dilapidated sidewalks are not the only cause of pedestrian accidents and injuries, they’re certainly a contributing factor to the city’s poor pedestrian safety ranking. In a comparison of 13 cities with populations of over 250,000, the California Office of Traffic Safety ranked Los Angeles the 3rd worst for pedestrian accidents.


What do you think? Should homeowners split the bill for sidewalk repairs with the city?


Additional articles on transportation safety and the civil claims process after an accident are available through our office free of charge. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.


August 15, 2014

Anyone Hear of Morgellons?

I was introduced to this terrible condition two years ago. So why discuss this today? How is it relevant to you? Please take a moment to read on.

A good friend started having breakouts that caused him to feel like bugs were crawling under his skin. He became quite sick, as did a family member. Soon, he was at the doctor’s office and undergoing multiple tests.

Eventually, all the tests came back normal. He had neither a virus nor an apparent bacterial infection nor elevated chemical panels in his liver or kidneys. The doctors threw up their hands saying, “We do not know what it is.”

He began to research the condition. I hired a professional researcher to help as well. When he examined the lesion on his skin, he could pull out a fibrous material. Under a microscope it looked a lot like Morgellons.

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Despite the physical evidence, doctors were telling my friend that his condition isn’t explainable; that he must be picking at his skin causing this condition and that it is probably stress. Some people have been under the same scrutiny and getting the same advice as you can see from this site discussing Morgellons.


Soon we had numerous physical specimens. We also had plenty of doctors telling us that they weren’t identifiable. The experience was harrowing for him, a real hardship.

Ultimately, we discovered that thousands of people suffer from this and are without any help. See the latest study of Kaiser patients.

My friend moved out of the home in which he had been living at the onset of his symptoms. In the following months, his condition cleared up. We concluded something in his prior home must have been causing the breakouts.

We are only speculating, but the incidence of Morgellons seems to be growing, especially in California. His house was like so many, nothing unusual, but there was something in it that must not have been right. Fortunately, he moved and his condition improved.

We are of the unscientific opinion that the cause of Morgellons is something normally found in many homes, and yet the scientific and medical communities want to treat it as a disease of the mind. I am convinced something lurking in all our homes is a contributing factor—though some homes may be worse than others and some people more susceptible.

A new site has recently been added to the web, Solvemorgellons.com. Its creator is proposing exactly what we suspected: the environment in the home is causing the condition. If you know anyone with this oft-misunderstood condition, refer him or her to the site. I imagine in the coming months, the results may prove it necessary for all of us to test the environments of our homes.


Additional articles on health and public safety are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

August 14, 2014

Nationwide DUI Crackdown on Now Through Labor Day

Between backyard parties, festivals, and barbecues, we may find ourselves drinking more than usual during the summer. This is especially true on the season’s holidays, first Memorial Day then the Fourth of July and finally the quickly approaching unofficial end of summer, Labor Day. Unfortunately, at these times the line between celebration and tragedy is dangerously thin—and can be crossed the instant a drunk driver turns the key in the ignition.


Year after year, summer ends in death on our roads and highways, with alcohol-involved crashes claiming more than 750 lives over the last five Labor Day weekends. In California, the most current Office of Traffic Safety accident statistics indicate that driving while under the influence killed 34 people and injured another 1,894 on Labor Day weekend in 2011.

The victims of drunk driving accidents are often innocent motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists: 35 percent of the more than 10,000 people who die in DUI crashes every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

To combat drunk driving when it’s at its peak, over 10,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country will be out in full force cracking down on impaired drivers now through the end of Labor Day weekend.

As the final weeks of summer pass, the NHTSA, local and national authorities, and the attorneys and staff in our office—where we see the tragic consequences of drinking and driving far too often—would like to remind you of your responsibilities to others on the road and to yourself.

How do you avoid drinking and driving?


Additional articles on public safety and the civil claims process following an accident resulting in injury or death are available to the public free of charge through our office. If you would like to request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

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August 13, 2014

Beauty Contestant Busted for Fraud after YouTube Video

Privacy is fleeting these days. A Google search of almost anyone will yield at least a few results, in many cases from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The widespread attention one Riverside beauty contestant received on YouTube would have probably been welcome had it not resulted in a year in county jail, three years probation, and $24,000 in restitution—if she’s convicted of Workers’ Compensation Fraud.


Last March, 22-year-old Shawna Lynn Palmer, a clerk for Stater Brothers, claimed to have fractured her toe, insisting she couldn’t put weight on her foot or wear a shoe. Not long after making these claims, and while collecting workers’ comp benefits, Palmer competed in the 2014 Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix pageant. A YouTube video of the event shows her walking and standing in high heels without any indication of discomfort. A week later she was back at the doctor’s office with the same complaints of pain.

Investigators for the California Department of Insurance had little trouble finding the YouTube video of the aspiring beauty queen and she was arrested last Friday, reported KTLA.com

‘People might want to say …here’s a young lady who had beauty and … bravado in making these claims … but it really didn’t add up on the brains side of it,’ said Deputy Insurance Commissioner Byron Tucker.

While we’re glad Ms. Palmer didn’t get away with her scheme, we’d like to point out that revealing too much on social media can do more than expose a criminal; it could ruin an honest accident victim’s claim. As with this case, insurance companies have investigators monitoring the social media accounts of plaintiffs, looking for evidence that could contradict their claims of injury, disability, or suffering. That’s why in our office, we warn clients to keep their social media accounts private and to be careful about what they share.

What do you think of this case? How much do you normally reveal about yourself on social media?

Additional articles on the civil claims process after an accident are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474.

August 6, 2014

New App Could Prevent Deaths from Cardiac Arrest

English: CPR training

English: CPR training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of about 600,000 people and accounting for 1 in every 4 fatalities annually. Sufferers of heart disease are more prone to cardiac arrest, and about 47 percent of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. A new app alerts its users whenever someone’s heart has stopped beating. The hope is that good Samaritans will perform CPR, in many cases sooner than emergency responders arrive, ensuring the brain continues to receive oxygen and preventing death.


Using the PulsePoint Respond mobile app, an emergency dispatch system alerts CPR-trained bystanders and off-duty professionals when people near them suffer a Sudden Cardiac Arrest event and where to find the closest automated external defibrillator (AED).


Already connected to 650 emergency response systems, PulsePoint will now be available to Los Angeles residents. In a county where it takes 5 minutes on average for emergency crews to respond—and even longer in remote communities like Lancaster and Palmdale—having citizens help each other sooner could prove crucial to improving the chances of those suffering a Sudden Cardiac Arrest event of survival with a good quality of life, which diminishes after about 3 or 4 minutes.


So far, about 13,000 people, primarily first responders and their friends and families, have downloaded the app, reported the Los Angeles Times. Hopefully, as the fire department continues to notify the public of the app’s existence, more and more people will prepare themselves to save lives by becoming users.


What do you think? Will you download the PulsePoint Respond app?

Additional articles on health and public safety are available free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.


July 31, 2014

Laguna Beach Most Dangerous City for Pedestrians

Southbound PCH in Crystal Cove State Park near...

Southbound PCH in Crystal Cove State Park near Laguna Beach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Annually, 3 million people flock to Laguna Beach for its temperate year-round climate, scenic beaches and coves, and art galleries and festivals. Throughout the year—but especially in summer—swimsuit-clad tourists can be seen spilling out of crosswalks as they traverse Pacific Coast Highway to the ocean. Given the popularity of this seaside resort, you would think more would be done to accommodate visitors walking and cycling through the city, as well as full-time residents. For a city its size, Laguna Beach ranked the most dangerous for pedestrians.


In an effort to identify emerging and ongoing traffic safety problems that may be ameliorated with grants, the California Office of Traffic Safety compares the accident statistics of cities with populations of a similar size, ranking those with the worst records the highest, starting with 1st place. In 2011, the most current year for which crash data are available, Laguna Beach ranked 1st out of 102 cities with populations of between 50,001 and 100,000 for its incidence of pedestrian accidents. Laguna Beach ranked 18th for accidents involving bicyclists and 4th for those involving motorcyclists.


Citizens Call for Safety Improvements


After a series of accidents claimed the lives of local cyclists and pedestrians, the families of the victims and several concerned citizens gathered at the Laguna Beach City Hall in mid-July to call for safety improvements. Joan Marcus-Colvin, whose husband John was killed while riding along PCH last June, expressed her dismay over the city’s lack of infrastructure for cyclists at the rally, pointing out that Laguna Beach does not have one dedicated bike lane. She also questioned whether rumble strips on the road shoulders along PCH and the addition of a traffic signal near the site where her husband was struck could have warned the driver that he was drifting out of his lane and slowed him down, possibly saving John’s life.


Benefits of Infrastructure for Cyclists & Pedestrians


Incorporating infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, such as bicycle lanes, sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and pedestrian signals, improves safety and prevents accidents. Studies have indicated that the addition of such infrastructure results in fewer collisions between vehicles and cyclists and pedestrians. For example, after installing protected bike lanes on 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan in 2007, the city’s transportation department reported a 35 percent decrease in crash-related injuries to all street users on the 8th Avenue path and a 58 percent decrease on the 9th Avenue path.


In response to the rally, Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig indicated the city was taking steps to address the problem of pedestrian and cyclist safety, including assessing the traffic circulation and bike and pedestrian access along Laguna Canyon Road; studying the mobility needs of pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and bus riders; and conducting a transit study, reported the Laguna Beach Independent. Pietig also said the “Orange County Transportation Authority is conducting a corridor study of Coast Highway throughout the county…as well as a five-year bike corridor plan to prioritize local improvements and encourage funding.”


Additional articles on transportation safety and the civil claims process following an accident are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.


July 25, 2014

Porcelain Dolls Resembling Little Girls Left on Doorsteps in San Clemente

Earlier this week, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department received reports that porcelain dolls had been left on the doorsteps of eight homes in the upscale community of Talega in San Clemente. The impacted families expressed concern to authorities that the dolls bared an eerie resemblance to their daughters.

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Authorities immediately began investigating the matter. After interviewing the families, they were able to link the dolls to a female adult who lived in the local community and attended church with many of the families. She admitted to leaving the dolls on the porches of her neighbors; however, it was determined that her motivation was out of goodwill. The investigation has been closed.


Given the resemblance of the dolls to the girls living in these homes and the way they were anonymously gifted, it’s not surprising the recipients were alarmed. Fortunately, the case was solved quickly. Next time the woman wants to give back to her community, hopefully she won’t choose such a creepy way to do it.


What do you think? Would you have been worried if you found a porcelain doll resembling your child on your doorstep?


Additional articles on health and public safety are available free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

July 23, 2014

Stone Fruits Recalled Nationwide Due to Listeria Contamination

Yummy peach!

Yummy peach! (Photo credit: skyseeker)

Summer barbecues and picnics are often made sweeter with stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, and plums. This year, eating these fruits may leave you feeling pretty awful unless you’re certain they didn’t come from Wawona Packing Co. A supplier to Costco, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, and Walmart, which also operates Sam’s Club stores, Ralphs, and Food 4 Less, Wawona is voluntarily recalling these fruits nationwide, as well as pluots, that were packed at its Cutler, California, warehouses between June 1 and July 12 due to potential Listeria contamination discovered during internal testing. Consumers should avoid fruit with a sticker that says, ‘SWEET 2 EAT,’ reported CNN.


Listeria was last the focus of media attention in 2011, when infected cantaloupes from Colorado caused 147 people to become ill and claimed the lives of nearly 36 others. Caused by food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, Listeriosis presents with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea. Those with weakened immune systems, the elderly, infants, and pregnant women are susceptible to acute infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that listeriosis causes 260 fatalities and 1600 illnesses each year in the United States.


Consumers who believe they’ve ingested recalled fruit and are feeling sick are urged to seek immediate medical attention.


Those with questions concerning the recall may contact Wawona Packing at 888-232-9912 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays or visit the company’s website.


Have you bought stone fruit yet this summer?

Additional articles on health and public safety are available free of charge through our office. If you would like to request one, please call 888-752-7474 or complete our online contact form.


July 22, 2014

Newest Member of California Supreme Court Could Be from Mexico

English: Seal of the Supreme Court of California

English: Seal of the Supreme Court of California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The newest member of the California Supreme Court could be from Mexico. Today, Governor Jerry Brown announced his nomination of Mexican-born Stanford law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar to the state’s high court, reported the Los Angeles Times.


Born in Matamoros, Mexico, Cuellar crossed the border by foot for years to attend school in Texas before moving to the Imperial Valley with his family at the age of 14. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, a law degree from Yale Law School, and a doctorate in political science from Stanford. If elected, he will fill the vacancy created when Justice Marvin R. Baxter retires in January.


Last January, the California Supreme Court granted a law license to Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. While the justices decided that Garcia could not work as an employee of a law firm due to a federal law that prohibits businesses from hiring undocumented immigrants, they ruled that he could do legal work on a pro bono basis.


With more immigrants than any other state, California had about twice the population of foreign-born residents (27 percent) as the United States in 2011, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Forty-seven percent of immigrants in the state are naturalized U.S. citizens. The majority of immigrants to California are from Latin America (53 percent) and Asia (37 percent), with 4.3 million from Mexico, 812,000 from the Philippines, and 760,700 from China.


What do you think of Governor Brown’s selection for the high court?


Additional articles on legal issues and health and public safety are available free of charge through our office. If you would like to request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.


July 17, 2014

Beware of Toll Road Billing Scam

Morning commute: Toll booth

Morning commute: Toll booth (Photo credit: soumit)

In Orange County, there’s been a lot of confusion in recent months as to how to pay to use local toll roads. In the first few weeks after the Transportation Corridor Agencies removed toll booths and switched to a cash-free payment system, the number of toll violations spiked to about 15,000 a day, reported the Orange County Register. Drivers who think they may owe the toll agency, however, should beware of an email billing scam.


Nationwide, drivers have been receiving a phishing email with a logo mimicking the design of E-ZPass, the agency responsible for managing electronic tolling services on the East Coast, that reads, ‘You have not paid for driving on a toll road. This invoice is sent repeatedly, please service your debt in the shortest possible time.’ Representatives from both Transportation Corridor Agencies and E-ZPay have said these agencies did not send the emails, reported the Los Angeles Times. Those who receive the email are urged not to open it, respond to it, or download attachments.


Phishing is becoming an increasingly common way for hackers to steal information from and spy on people. In 2012, almost every incident of online espionage involved some form of a phishing attack, according to a survey by Verizon Communications that the Los Angeles Times reported on. The FBI urges people to report potential e-scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.


For those of you in Orange County still wondering about how to pay your tolls, you can get a transponder, which will debit an established amount, or pay online. If you’ve received your first violation and pay it within thirty days, the TCA will wave its penalties—but only until Labor Day.


Have you ever received a phishing email?


Additional articles on Internet scams, transportation, and civil law are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request them, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.