Diana Hanson, 24, an intern at a big cat sanctuary in Dunlap, Calif., was mauled to death by a lion on March 6, 2013. According to an ABC News report, the fatal incident occurred at the Cat Haven in Dunlap, a small town in Fresno County near Kings Canyon National Park. Officials say Hanson was inside the cat enclosure when a 4-year-old African lion named Cous Cous attacked her. It was not immediately clear what Hanson was doing inside the enclosure or what caused the attack.
'Her True Passion in Life'
Another employer unsuccessfully tried to lure the lion away from Hanson. The lion was eventually shot by a Fresno County sheriff's deputy who responded to the call. The park was closed at the time of the attack and there were no visitors inside. Hanson's father tells ABC News that his daughter loved being around large cats and that working with them was her true passion in life. Hanson trained with three tigers and a lion while in college at Western Washington State University, her father said.
Based on this news report, officials are still trying to determine what caused this attack. The lion had apparently been raised at the preserve by the owner since he was an 8-week-old cub. Employees at the reserve were also puzzled about how and why Hanson got into the lion's space.
There are several unanswered questions here. What type of security did the lion's cage have? What were policies and procedures at the sanctuary when it comes to handling the cats and stepping into the cages? Did Cat Haven have a written policy in place? Were all employees, volunteers and interns trained with regard to those safety procedures? I trust officials are looking into these and other issues in order to determine precisely what occurred here and why. A wrongful death lawsuit is a possibility.
It is not clear if anyone's negligence played a part in Hanson's tragic death. I hope that her grieving family members and friends get answers to their questions. In such cases, it would also be in the best interests of victims' families to contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that the victims' and their families' rights are protected.
The Swedish car maker best known for its high commitment to safety engineering has taken its features a step further to protect those outside the vehicle as well as inside it. Volvo's 2013 V40, currently on sale in Australia, has incorporated pedestrian airbags to protect anyone hit by the car while walking, according to recent industry reports.
Why Are Pedestrian Airbags Necessary?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that of all the auto-related fatalities in 2012, 16 percent involved people not inside the car such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Pedestrian injury is a very real problem for Americans, but it is also a large problem abroad where more people walk or ride a bicycle to their destinations. The European Union passed laws about ten years ago to address this problem and provide for pedestrian safety. Due to these laws, auto makers in Europe began examining ways to manufacture cars that could prevent a pedestrian accident or at least lessen the severity if one did occur.
What Do Pedestrian Airbags Do?
Jaguar began making vehicles that utilized a pedestrian contact "sensing system" that opens the car's hood if it senses a pedestrian impact. A Dutch car company, TNO, also designed a prototype airbag that would prevent bikers from being injured in a collision.
Volvo has taken these ideas and combined them. The pedestrian detection system on Volvo's new model uses sensors to determine if a collision is imminent and automatically slows the car down. These sensors operate from the grille of the car and the back of the rearview mirror. The sensor also alerts the driver with a warning signal and light if a pedestrian appears to be in danger. The car can brake itself completely at speeds less than 21 miles per hour and can slow down significantly at speeds over that level. The automatic braking system also works to prevent collisions with other vehicles, buildings, poles or any other obstruction.
If a human leg comes into contact with the bumper of the car, the hood of the car raises and an airbag deploys in less than one second. The resulting configuration shields the windshield and front area of the car, and the raised hood dents more easily to cushion impact.
Since most fatal pedestrian accidents are related to speed, the most significant factor of this system is actually the automatic braking feature. However, if there is an impact, the airbag is designed to deploy in the areas where most pedestrian injuries occur--the windshield and hood of the car.
What Can I Do If I Suffer Injuries In A Pedestrian Accident?
If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, it is very important that you protect your rights by consulting a pedestrian accident attorney. A pedestrian accident lawyer can explain your options and work with you to recover damages for your medical bills, your pain and suffering, and the other costs associated with your accident. It is crucial that you and your family protect yourselves from the long-term financial effects of an accident.
This Valentine's Day was special for a Georgia couple, Jennifer and Darren Ford. Jennifer, who had suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car crash in November, was home and learning to walk. According to a Fox 5 news report, the brain injury put Jennifer in a coma. Her husband has remained by her side, learning to assist her and helping her recover. Jennifer, a mother of two, is now learning to walk and talk again.
Although she received a graduation certificate from her rehabilitation facility, she will continue her outpatient therapy, which her family hopes, will put her on the road to recovery and help her brain heal. The community has rallied around the family by helping to pay mounting medical bills and organizing a motorcycle ride to benefit the family. He husband, Darren, says that it has been a "very emotional ride" for him and his family.
Brain Injury Facts and Statistics
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, an estimated 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury annually. Brain injuries are a contributing factor in one-third or 30.5 percent of all injury-related deaths in the United States. About 35.2 percent of brain injuries are caused by falls while car crashes cause about 17.3 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. Among all age groups, car accidents were the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (17.3 percent) and resulted in the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths.
A Long Road to Recovery
Brain injury victims and their families, much like the Ford family, go through an emotional rollercoaster ride. They face daunting financial challenges. Often, when a loved one suffers a brain injury, his or her spouse may have to take time off work and still figure out a way to pay everyday expenses and mounting medical and rehabilitation bills. Health insurance may not cover rehabilitation costs, which puts additional financial pressure on victims and their families. Like Jennifer Ford, many victims have to relearn a number of basic skills including walking and talking.
Compensation for Brain Injury Victims
When a brain injury is caused by someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, injured victims and their families can seek compensation for their losses from the at-fault parties. Victims may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, loss of wages, lost future income, hospitalization, rehabilitation and pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to better advise injured victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.
Crystal Crawford-McClure, 28, was critically injured and lost her unborn child in a rear-end collision after the vehicle in which she was a passenger was struck by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper's car.
According to a news report in The News-Press, the rear-end accident occurred the night of February 15, 2013 on the southbound Interstate 75 near mile marker 134. Officials say Crawford-McClure was a passenger in a Jeep traveling south on the I-75. The officer's vehicle struck the Jeep's rear bumper, causing the Jeep to veer onto the grass shoulder and overturn.
The driver, Christopher McClure, suffered minor injuries. But Crawford-McClure was ejected and suffered critical injuries. Her unborn child was killed as well. A 1-year-old child also escaped with minor injuries. It is not clear if Crawford-McClure was wearing a seatbelt at the time. The News-Press reports that the trooper was not responding to a call when the crash occurred and that the lights and sirens on the patrol vehicle were not on.
What Caused the Rear-End Crash?
Rear-end crashes often result in major injury if not fatal accidents nationwide. In any rear-end accident, a number of questions must be asked. The report states that the officer was not responding to an emergency at the time. Was the driver of the striking vehicle inebriated or fatigued at the time? Was the driver distracted in some way?
In this case, was the officer talking to someone on the radio, checking his computer screen or using a cell phone? Did excessive speed play a part in this tragic crash? I trust investigators are looking into these and other issues in order to determine precisely what occurred here and why.
Fault and Liability
If the FHP officer is determined to have been at fault, both he and his employer can be held liable for the injuries and damages caused. Injured victims in such cases can seek compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation and other related damages.
Injured victims or families of deceased victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced car accident attorney who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that the negligent parties are held liable. In cases involving government employees or public agencies, it is important to remember that the statute of limitations may require victims to file claims much sooner.
Harry Holzhauer, 68, was killed in a boat accident after a 22-foot motorboat collided with the MS San Francisco, a Golden Gate ferry, carrying about 500 passengers. According to a news report in The San Francisco Chronicle, the crash occurred the afternoon of February 16, 2013 in San Francisco Bay. Holzhauer died from his injuries. A second person in the motorboat, who has not been identified, was hospitalized with serious injuries. None of the passengers in the ferry was injured. The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the collision.
Hanel Lozano, 18, of Bellflower, was killed in a Buena Park crash the night of Feb. 17, 2013. The Orange County Register reports that the fatal car crash occurred on southbound Valley View Street north of La Palma Avenue. Police say the driver of a black Jeep Cherokee lost control of the vehicle and struck at least two other vehicles and then hit a tree in the median near the intersection of Valley View and La Palma. The Jeep Cherokee then overturned. Lozano was a passenger in the Jeep. Other passengers, who were between 18 and 20 years of age, had to be extricated from the vehicle. None of the other passengers in other vehicles were seriously injured. It is not known if alcohol or drugs played a part in the crash.
Santa Ana resident, 63-year-old Piedad Orozco, died and eight others were severely injured in an SUV rollover accident in Fresno that was caused by a blown-out tire. The Orange County Register reports that the incident occurred the afternoon of February 16, 2013.
California Highway Patrol officials say the driver, 43-year-old Adan Acosta, was driving a 2003 Ford Expedition going 80 to 85 mph when the right rear tire blew out. The vehicle rolled several times, finally resting on its wheels by the center median on the 5 Freeway north near Kamm Avenue.
Orozco died at the scene. Officials suspect Orozco was not wearing a seatbelt. Acosta was transported to an area hospital with life threatening injuries. Officials said Yesenia Villicana, 21, Rosa Villicana, 42, and three minors ages 17, 8 and 13 were taken to area hospitals with moderate injuries. Nevia Villicana, 19, and Bianca Maynor, 21, were also taken to an area hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2008, the most recent year for which these statistics are available, 58 percent of SUV occupants who were killed in crashes were in vehicles that rolled over. In comparison, 47 percent of deaths in pickups and 25 percent of deaths in cars were in rollover accidents.
The Danger of SUV Rollover Accidents
Based on this news report, this Ford Expedition rollover crash was caused by a blown tire. It is not clear if the incident occurred due to a tire defect. When a tire blowout occurs on a Ford SUV, the consequences have proven to be catastrophic. When a tire blows, even experienced drivers struggle to regain control of the vehicle.
Ford SUVs especially the Explorer and the Expedition are poorly designed. These vehicles have a high center of gravity and a narrower track width, making them prone to devastating rollover crashes. Occupants of rollover accidents tend to suffer injuries such as brain damage and spinal cord injuries that can leave them paralyzed or disabled for the rest of their lives.
In such cases, injured victims or families of deceased victims would be well advised to preserve the vehicle in its crashed state, unaltered, so an expert can thoroughly examine it for defects, malfunctions and design flaws. Injured victims or families of deceased victims may be able to file an auto products liability claim against the vehicle's manufacturer. An experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to assist victims and their families pursue their legal rights.
Police in Chicago have arrested 44-year-old Lisa Elner on suspicion of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a Jan. 26 fatal DUI crash that killed two other women - Michelle Miranda, 37, and Sandra Frankum, 36. According to a news report in The Chicago Tribune, Miranda and Frankum were killed when the SUV in which they were traveling fell at least 50 feet from Harlem Avenue in Lyons to Canal Bank Drive in Summit. Elner, the alleged driver of the SUV, faces charges of failure to report an accident involving death, aggravated driving under the influence involving death, possession of cocaine, and other traffic charges.
Police say Elner was silent about the accident hours later when she was found walking near the entrance ramp to southbound Interstate 55 at Harlem Avenue. Elner, who was also seriously injured in the crash, was taken to a local hospital for treatment and told officials she was walking home from a bar, but told them nothing about the crash.
Failure to Report Deadly Crash
The overturned SUV was discovered about five hours after police found Elner. Piecing together evidence, police determined that the southbound SUV was approaching the I-55 ramp when it lost control, jumped a curb and crashed through a barrier before plunging down to the road below. Apparently, no one called 911 after it happened.
Based on this news report, officials say Elner allegedly survived the 50-foot plunge, but left her passengers in the vehicle for hours without care or medical attention. The article states that it was several hours before the vehicle was even found. Had the women obtained medical attention earlier, it is possible that they would have survived. Drivers have a responsibility to report any crash they are involved in right away to police and help injured victims. This help could be something as simple as calling 911.
Protecting Victims' Rights
Victims of DUI and hit-and-run crashes have rights. Families that have lost loved ones as a result of someone else's negligence and wrongdoing can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income and loss of love and companionship. Victims' families would also be well advised to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who will fight for their rights and ensure that the negligent parties are held liable.
Federal officials have shut down the company whose tour bus went out of control before a catastrophic collision with two other vehicles on February 3, 2013. According to a news report in The Press-Enterprise, federal officials said the bus company is an "imminent hazard" to public safety after finding mechanical problems with its other buses. Eight people, including seven passengers, were killed in that bus crash that occurred near Yucaipa. The victims who were killed in this crash have been identified as Fred B. Richardon, 72; Guadalupe Olivas, 61; Elvira Garcia Jimenez, 40; Victor Cabrera Garcia, 13; Aleida Adriana Arce Hernandez, 38, Rubicelia Escobedo Flores, 34; Liliana Camerina Sanchez Sauceda, 24; and Mario Garcia Santoyo, 32.
In addition, U.S. Department of Transportation investigators determined that Tijuana-based Scapadas Magicas provided them with documentation during a January compliance check that falsely stated that its buses were well maintained and that its drivers were properly licensed.
Bus Company Lied to Inspectors
It is not rare for a bus company to get caught lying to officials on these important matters, a federal official told The Press-Enterprise. The Department of Transportation and California Highway Patrol periodically do compliance reviews of bus companies. During these reviews, investigators will make unscheduled visits to review licenses, medical certificates, driver logs and maintenance records as well as result of drug and alcohol testing programs.
CHP officers may conduct random inspections in the field usually at the bus company or terminal to verify documentation. An officer has the power to take a bus out of service on the spot if he or she decides it is in poor mechanical shape or that the driver is not properly licensed. Scapadas Magicas supplied documentation to officials in January suggesting no problems. But when officials inspected two other buses that the company operates in the United States, they found serious mechanical safety violations.
It is critical that those who have been injured or have lost loved ones in this tragic bus crash contact an experienced California bus accident attorney who will strive to preserve important evidence in this case and hold the bus company accountable. It is appalling that this bus company gambled with the lives of its passengers and apparently, did so routinely. I'm relieved that federal officials have banned this company from operating, at least for now.
February 7, 2013--Lakewood, California--A 25-year-old man who has a previous conviction for felony DUI was arrested and charged with murder after being involved in a fatal crash while allegedly under the influence of alcohol, according to the Los Angeles Times. The suspect is also charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence, causing bodily injury and theft of a vehicle.
The crash occurred on State Route 330 near State Route 18 when the driver rolled his vehicle, ejecting a female passenger from the car. The 18-year-old girl died of her injuries and the suspect was arrested on suspicion of DUI Murder. Two other passengers were injured in the crash.
Investigators later learned that the suspect had already been involved in a fatal DUI collision in 2009 and had been convicted of felony DUI, a charge usually made when alcohol is involved in a crash with injuries or fatalities. He was re-arrested for the current charges with murder being added.
California DUI Laws Provide Escalating Penalties
While a first-time DUI offense is normally a misdemeanor, California law provides prosecutors with a way to enhance charges and sentencing if the driver injures or kills someone or leaves the scene of an accident. In those cases, drivers can be charged with felonies up to and including murder, as in the present case. This gives prosecutors the flexibility to match the charge to the offense. If an offender has already killed someone in a DUI accident, it is far more appropriate to charge that individual with a more serious crime than if the person is a first-time offender who has not caused any damage or injury.
How Big Is the DUI Problem?
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs continues to be a major problem for Californians. According to the Century Council, 2010 saw 791 drunk driving fatalities on California highways, 94 of which were victims under the age of 21. More than 71 percent of these drivers had blood alcohol contents of .15 or more, twice the legal limit for intoxication.
These grim statistics are tempered by the fact that California has seen a reduction of 27 percent in overall DUI fatalities since 2000 and a 53 percent reduction in fatalities of victims under 21 years of age. Better DUI education may be responsible for these encouraging numbers, but the fact is that DUI remains one of the biggest killers of people of all ages in the state.
What Should I Do If I Am The Victim of a Drunk Driver?
If you are involved in a crash with a drunk driver, it is important for you to protect your rights. Whether or not the criminal justice system brings the driver to justice, you will still have to collect compensation for your medical bills, your living expenses and other costs. You are also entitled to payment for the pain and suffering you endure as a result of the collision. A personal injury attorney can help you collect these damages.
Tiffany A. Beene and her passenger Samuel Jonathan Hampton, both 24, were killed in a car crash in Florida after the Lamborghini in which they were traveling crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed into a Nissan. According to a Fox 35 news report, Beene is the daughter of Michael and Roxanne Beene, who founded Faith In Action, a missionary group based in Kissimmee. The driver of the other vehicle, Linh C. Luu, 38, is said to be in critical condition with life-threatening injuries. Tan P. Phan, a passenger in the Nissan, was treated and released.
Investigators say Beene and Hampton were traveling west in a green 2008 Lamborghini when it crossed over the center median on University Boulevard and collided with a 2013 Nissan. All victims were buckled up at the time of the collision. Family members said Beene was driving Hampton's Lamborghini at the time. The investigation is still ongoing.
What Caused This Crash?
Based on this news report, it is unclear as to what caused this fatal car crash. There are still several unanswered questions here. What caused this crash? Who was at fault? What caused Beene to cross over the center median? Was speed a factor in this collision? Did a vehicle defect or mechanical malfunction cause Beene to lose control of the Lamborghini? Did driver distraction or inattention cause this crash? I trust officials are looking into these and other issues in order to determine precisely what occurred here and why.
If Beene is determined to have been at fault, then, the injured victims can seek compensation from her liability insurance. If a dangerous or defective auto caused the accident, then, the vehicle manufacturer can be held liable. In such cases, injured victims can seek compensation from the at-fault party for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Families of deceased victims can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation as well. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to advise victims or their families in such cases regarding their legal rights and options.
A 51-year-old man suffered major injuries after being struck by a taxi in Newport Beach. According to a news report in the Daily Pilot, the critical injury crash occurred the night of February 4, 2013 near East Coast Highway and MacArthur Boulevard. Officials say the man was walking toward the sidewalk in the transition lane at East Coast Highway and MacArthur Boulevard when a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria taxicab struck him. The man was transported to a regional trauma center. The taxi driver, a 54-year-old Santa Ana man, was uninjured. Police do not believe drugs or alcohol were factors in this collision. No citations or arrests were reported. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 949-644-3747.
An 81-year-old man was killed and a 50-year-old man was critically injured after both were struck by an MTA bus while they were crossing an intersection in West Hollywood. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the fatal crash occurred the night of February 4, 2013 at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Palm Avenue. The driver of the MTA bus told officials that he was driving the vehicle back to the depot at the end of the shift when the collision occurred. The elderly man died while the younger man has been hospitalized in critical condition. The driver underwent a toxicology test. No passengers were on board the bus at the time of the crash. The investigation is ongoing.
Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities
In West Hollywood, two pedestrians were killed and 50 were injured as a result of auto accidents in 2010, according to California Highway Patrol's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). In Los Angeles County as a whole, 195 people died and 4,535 were injured due to pedestrian versus vehicle collisions.
Based on this news report, it appears that the men were crossing at the intersection of Palm and Santa Monica Boulevard, where there are painted crosswalks. It is not clear why the MTA bus driver did not stop and yield the right-of-way to the pedestrians. Under California Vehicle Code Section 21950, motorists are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians walking in marked or unmarked crosswalks.
The same section also states that the driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk "shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of a vehicle or take any other action relating to the operating of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian."
Who is Liable?
I trust officials are looking into whether the bus driver was intoxicated, drowsy, speeding or distracted when this collision occurred. If the bus driver is determined to have been at fault, he and his employer could be held liable for the elderly pedestrian's wrongful death and the serious injuries caused to the other pedestrian. If a dangerous roadway or intersection caused this collision, the city or governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadway can also be held liable. Please remember that any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental agency must be filed within 180 days of the incident.