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Oakland Legal Issues Blog

Fully autonomous cars to arrive in California

Technology in the automobile industry is increasing at a rapid rate, particularly with regards to self-driving vehicles. Several companies have already put autonomous vehicles on the roads, albeit with a human conductor in them. However, Waymo, Google's autonomous car company, is set to test totally driverless cars on California roadways.

Recently, Waymo received regulatory approval to have autonomous vehicles run in California without backup drivers. The vehicles may go as fast as 65 miles per hour. However, the vehicles will still be monitored by a human engineer at a remote location. This person will be allowed to steer and decelerate the autonomous cars if necessary.

Wage loss can be a greater threat than medical bills

If you or a family member has been injured or become sick, it probably comes as no surprise to you that the medical bills can set you back, as can the lost income from taking the time you need to recover. But the financial hit is not just limited to the time you are out of work. As reported in The New York Times, data now show that the economic impact of wage loss is a greater threat to economic security than medical bills themselves. For people who are in their fifties, being hospitalized correlates with a 20 percent decrease in income that lasts for more than six years.


California sees uptick in cumulative trauma claims

When a person thinks of workplace injuries, they may picture a worker suffering an injury based on a one-time incident, such as straining to lift something heavy or falling off a ladder. However, some injuries build up over time simply by performing normal workplace duties. Known as cumulative trauma injuries, these injuries are increasingly giving rise to workers' compensation claims.

There has been a 50 percent uptick in workers' compensation claims in California based on cumulative trauma injuries, according to the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California. The report examined claims based on injuries that were caused by repetitive physical or mental tasks. The hospitality sector and manufacturing sector have seen the biggest uptick, at 14 percent and 22 percent respectively.

Can people with desk jobs reduce the risk of CTD?

Cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) is one of the most common injuries found in the workplace. Rather than getting it from falling down or having something bump your head, these are conditions that build up over time as your body’s tendons and muscles tear from repetitive actions.

This issue has become present for both workers with physically demanding jobs and employees who sit at the computer all day typing. Given how much of these positions are active in the Golden State, it is important for these types of workers to figure out methods to reduce the chances of wearing their sensitive nerve tissue down.

How do motorcycle helmet laws affect a potential lawsuit?

It is well-known that motorcyclists who wear a helmet can experience significantly less serious injuries should they be struck by a car than motorcyclists who do not wear a helmet. In fact, in California all motorcycle riders must wear a helmet when operating their vehicles. However, if a motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet, and is hit by a car, does this preclude him or her from obtaining compensation in a subsequent lawsuit?

California follows the laws of pure comparative negligence. Under this rule, even if a party is 99 percent at fault, he or she can still pursue compensation in a lawsuit. However, the amount of compensation he or she may receive will be reduced by the amount he or she was at fault for the crash.

New law allows coverage for out of state peace workers

In October of 2017, a mass shooter took the lives of 58 people in Las Vegas. The event threw the nation’s politicians into multiple safety debates and saw numerous bills proposed in an attempt to either minimize the number of victims or help them recover from similar tragedies.

One year after the shooting, California Governor Jerry Brown chose to sign one of these bills into law. The state realized that the guidelines of workers’ compensation for police officers and firefighters were not flexible enough to cover for men and women who may be forced to take action outside of the state or off the clock. They chose to pass Assembly Bill No. 1749 to fix that problem, so it is important to know if you or a loved one is a California peace officer.

Don't Drink and Ride

Driving a car while intoxicated is not the only means by which to get a DUI. Riding a bike or the increasingly ubiquitous Bird or Lime Scooters while under the influence can also lead to such charges. Indeed, Los Angeles has reportedly just concluded its first such case against the operator of a Bird scooter who hit and injured a 64 year old pedestrian while riding the scooter in an intoxicated state: https://apnews.com/ea871e6bb5f149a59f7d883a221de018. The scooter operator allegedly had a blood alcohol level of more than 3 times the legal limit! The operator must pay a fine and restitution, will be on probation for 36 months and will have to complete a DUI program. These scooters are dangerous enough as it is when illegally operated on city sidewalks; adding alcohol to the mix is simply a recipe for disaster for the operator or others.

California has a variety of workers' compensation benefits

While some occupations are inherently more dangerous than others, the fact of the matter is that just about anyone in California can be injured or made ill in the course of performing their job duties. When this happens, they may be unable to work for a period of time. In serious cases, a person might be permanently injured. Being unable to work can cause additional stress during what is already a difficult time. Fortunately, there are several types of workers' compensation benefits Californians can pursue, in order to help cope with the expenses related to their illness or injury.

One type of benefit one could obtain is medical care. This includes expenses associated with medical appointments, tests, medication and other reasonably necessary costs associated with recovering from the ailment the worker suffered on the job. It is paid for by the worker's employer.

Herniated disks can be career-ending injuries

As some Californians can attest, nothing can be as debilitating as a back injury. Some back injuries just put a person out of commission and on the couch for a few days, but the person is otherwise able to return to work as normal. However, other back injuries can disable a person entirely, forcing them to exit the workforce. One of these potentially career-ending injuries is a herniated disk.

The bones in our spine (vertebrae) stack one on top of the other like a series of blocks to form the spine. In-between each vertebra is a spinal disk. These disks have a strong exterior, but a soft jelly-like interior. They provide a cushion between each vertebra. However, an injury known as a "herniated disk" takes place when the exterior of the disk tears, causing the soft material in the center to come out of the disk.

Do you feel lucky?

I recently saw this sign in an ice skating rink. Everyone in my group was wearing a helmet, and it proved to be a good thing as one person fell and hit her head. Apart from a headache, there was no lasting damage. Had she not been wearing a helmet things would have been much much worse.

As I walk around the streets of Oakland and see all of the Lime and Bird scooters flitting about, I have no doubt that we will start to hear about scooter related accidents with greater frequency very soon. This conclusion stems from the fact that scooter drivers predominantly operate the scooters on city sidewalks, and the scooters are capable of achieving speeds that are clearly unsafe for sidewalks. Collisions will occur as people step out of doorways and get clobbered by a passing scooter, deviate from a straight line when a scooter is approaching from behind or other scenarios.

Sadly, of the hundreds of riders I have seen since these programs started, I have yet to see a single rider wear a helmet. While you "probably won't need a helmet today," why not wear one anyway?

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