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Month: September 2014

Google Unmanned Cars To Bankrupt PI Lawyers?

Self driving meter
The words Self-Driving on a vehicle speedometer to illustrate the rise of autonomous vehicles to increase safety and reduce accidents

Logan’s Run, the hit 70’s TV show, warned of days like this. But it appears that nothing will stop the wave of technology that places the citizen under control of an Orwellian, government monitored computer database. We already know that our texts and emails are being monitored and stored by the NSA, in violation of the plain language 4th Amendment.

We also know that many politicians and judges they appoint, actually think that our unalienable rights are mere privileges. But many tort and consumer attorneys still look to more government regulation and control over the lives of everyday citizens as a positive thing.

Well, just as Obamacare will eviscerate what is left of the collateral source rule, and reduce economic damages under the Nishihama, Hanif and Howell line of cases in California, the driverless car could very well bankrupt what is left of the personal injury plaintiff’s bar. However, there are always winners and losers. Products liability attorneys may still be able to thrive in the car accident field, by pursuing products liability lawsuits against Google and their technology companies when, or if these cars go haywire, maim and kill.

The Google cars not requiring a driver to operate the vehicle may change the car accident rate on the nation’s highways and suburban streets forever. The Google non-driver car could change the way people look at commuting and travel, much the same as the company’s search engine changed Internet searches.

Engineers have focused on building a car that is self-driving that will use sensors, computer data, and satellites, with Google claiming the vehicle will reduce the number of car accidents. The company known for its Internet search engine believes there will be a reduction in car mishaps due to technology intervention, rather than vehicles relying on human drivers who may become distracted, drive while fatigued or drive under the influence.


Google Says There Will Be Fewer Accidents

and Diminished Congestion?

The computer data and sensors the cars will use can see 360 degrees at all times, which is something that human drivers are not able to do when operating a motor vehicle. Blind spots, weather conditions, limited vision all are eliminated with these driverless cars. Google alleges that in testing the unmanned vehicles over thousands of miles, the only accidents occurring have been due to other drivers. The company believes the use of this type of vehicle by drivers in the future may reduce traffic congestion as well. And this is because the vehicles will be able to drive closer to the one in front.

The other way Google feels will reduce traffic congestion possibly is by virtually linking the vehicles together with them being connected by a unified computer network, similar to a train. Google cars are not available to consumers and won’t be for some time. The company wants the autonomous vehicles to be tested for one million miles before putting them on the market. Google vehicle technology will be paired with an automaker in manufacturing the automobiles.

Do Vibrations Save Lives?

Auto manufacturers have been using technology to make cars safer and reduce some human error and continue to improve safety in motor vehicles, primarily to reduce human error. The manufacturers include Ford Motor Vehicles. They have been installing lane keeping technology in their vehicles to alert the driver if an auto has veered out of its lane.

It does so by causing the steering wheel to vibrate. If the driver does not correct leaving the lane the car will auto correct. The road feature can help in avoiding accidents caused by driver distraction or a driver who has fallen asleep at the wheel.


At-Fault Liability with Driverless Cars

While testing continues on the vehicles that operate on their own without the need for a driver, also known as robot cars, they will be sharing the road with autos operated by a driver. This poses the question about accidents and at-fault liability. The states of California and Nevada are both proposing or passing legislation that will place requirements on the testing on roadways of these latest technology vehicles.


Colorado is expected to follow in proposed legislation. Even though it may be some time before this future generation of automobiles is available to consumers rules and regulations for manufacturing specifications and testing need to be in place, as well as roadway use.

The proposal of legislation before the cars being on the market for consumers is an important factor since liability could become an issue not only in crash mishaps but also in defective products. The Google car is a vehicle might reduce traffic accidents since it does not require a driver behind the wheel, but is dependent on software and other technology that may pose a hazard if defective making it essential to have laws involving liability for this type of vehicle. When this fails, and it will, there will be casualties.

The Future of Car Accident Claims from a Lawyer’s Perspective

Already, we are seeing the Google will probably be able to carve out exceptions for itself from lawmakers it donates money to on both sides of the aisle regarding liability for lawsuits. So the concern among the plaintiff’s bar is that the same legal standards must apply to Google cars, as is for any other technology.

The real issue here is if Google can make technology part of a government program, potentially shielding the internet powerhouse with sovereign immunity. We have seen similar things happen when the state takes over a train or transit system.

When the government designs something under part of an approved plan, it can also try and assert immunity. So this could throw a wrench in any potential suit as far as the timing goes, among other problems. Presently, under the law, if a Google car causes a wreck, a consumer can just bring products claim, and not have to worry about all these potential defenses. But just think of the partnership between Big Brother and Google that could be. We already know that California is issuing licenses for these cars.

As more and more businesses flee California to business friendly states, and more and more driverless cars take the roads, it is highly likely there will be a dip in car accidents. This will certainly devastate the car crash attorney’s bar. But as seen above, this is clearly not a technology that is ready for prime time. If it is rushed to market, it could be the next Pinto case.

The choices are clear, find a chink in the technology and sue now while you can, or plan on your practice taking a big hit. If this pattern continues, it is only a matter of time before motorcycles are either outlawed or made driverless in the interests of controlling government run healthcare costs, just as kitchen knives and glass beer mugs are being slated for retirement in the UK. At some point, the crystal ball is showing a stark future for personal injury attorneys. Soon we will all live in a common padded room.

Common Types of Moped Accidents and Prevention

Keeping Safe at Any Speed on a Moped

Riding mopeds may not immediately strike a person as a dangerous pursuit. However, inexperienced riders, road conditions, and other drivers can cause some obstacles. Each one of these can cause tremendous challenges, which can lead to serious injury or even death. A moped or Vespa is not a toy– it’s a legitimate form of transportation that should be respected on the road.

Our lead attorney, Michael Ehline with his bike

Why is Moped A Small Mode of Travel?

Mopeds are not the most common type of vehicle on the road but are still common in and around cities across California. Their little profile and great gas mileage make them an excellent choice for commuters or a number of businesses. These little bikes are an integral part of the road. Drivers take care to treat them with respect.

Unfortunately, several key factors often cause Moped accidents. These include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Poor visibility, including blind spots
  • Turnouts in front of a scooter
  • Other motorists speeding
  • Driving under the influence
  • Inability to determine distance to the moped
  • Poor weather conditions

With these factors understood, there are several key ways to prevent an accident or injury. Some are very basic, such as following traffic patterns and wearing a helmet. Others should be employed steadily, such as wearing reflective or bright clothing. Moped riders should make sure to ride defensively and assume the other driver cannot see them. Keep feet on the footrests. Slow down in the case of issues coming forward like traffic signals and obstructions.

Using these tips and gaining experience can avoid needless tragedy. Our team here at Ehline Law has helped many scooters, and moped riders get back on their feet after such an accident. Only with the right attention can such accidents be avoided. In case they occur, our team is ready to help you and your family become whole again.

New Bike Regulations Introduce Fines for Close By Drivers

Injured rider
Man fallen

Bicycling in California can be a sheer pleasure. The great topography and weather year round has made the Golden State one of the premier biking regions. Bicyclists from across the country come to the state to compete or just ride around for fun. With the many bikers from and around the state, there are many actions that the state legislature has done intended to make the roads safer.

There were 124 bicycle fatalities on California’s roads in 2012 according to the state Office of Traffic Safety. This figure is higher than 2011’s figure. And in turn, this was higher than in 2010. The increase led to the state doing multiple things to try and protect riders on the road.

CVC Section 21760.

One of the chief parts of legislation was CVC Section 21760, the Three Feet for Safety Act. The act, which became effective in September 2014 according to the DMV’s website, causes drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet distance when passing.

When violated, drivers must pay a $35 fine and if a collision is involved, the fee increases to $220. Coupled with administrative fees and local fines, the real price paid by drivers can be significantly higher.

With the high number of cars on the roads, riding a bike must always come with special cognizance of who or what is on the road. Many parts of the state are extremely bicycle friendly and others, like the Los Angeles area, are not. This is because it can be more difficult to ride in traffic. No matter what the case, pay attention remains vital to your surroundings and ensuring your safety.

If you have any questions about this law and how it could affect you or about bicycle law, Los Angeles’ premier personal injury and bike accident attorney Michael Ehline stands to help. Ehline Law has helped many clients that have had issues with bikes. Our team of experts will be able to assist you and get you back on your feet — both literally and figuratively. Call or email us today for a free consultation.

Knowing the Yearly Motorcycle Casualties Can Save a Bikers Life

Determining the Causes of Motorcycle Accident Injuries

There are many reasons for motorcycle accidents each year. They vary from rider and driver error to issues with faulty parts of maintenance. In many cases, there is an unfortunate combination of factors that cause the crash. Regardless, there are many ways to prevent injury if the rider knows the common causes of such accidents, as well as their effects.

Hurt due to a motorcycle accident?

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there are over 4,000 motorcycle fatalities on America’s roads each year. Furthermore, one of the most common causes of deaths is due to head injury, according to the CDC. Motorcycle fatalities occur at far higher rates than in other automobile accidents. In fact, government statistics show that motorcyclists are 37 times more likely to die due to such a crash. Additionally, this is even more shocking considering that motorcycles are just 2% of all registered vehicles.

Unfortunately, motorcycle accident fatalities are on the rise nationwide. Between 1997 and 2008 there was not a single year in which deaths declined. The increase is not due to more motorcyclists. Instead, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the rate increased separately than the increase in bikes.

Did You Know Alcohol if the Largest Factor in Motorcycle Accidents?

Also, alcohol is one of the most important factors that causes such accidents, according to the NHTSA. As a matter of fact, in 2003, a full 30% of all motorcycle accident fatalities was due in part to alcohol. Drinking and driving is a terrible factor in too many deaths.

Awareness can save your life. When riding bikes, there is a special obligation to keep track of your surroundings. Not just your life depends on it, but also other riders and drivers. Keep the roads safe and be a good example for the others on it.

If you or a loved one was injured due to a motorcycle accident, the experts at the Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC are there for you. Led by a motorcycle enthusiast, we understand the causes and effects of such accidents and will stop at nothing to get you the justice you deserve.

Common Bicycle Accidents and How to Avoid Them

Child Run Over While Auto in Reverse
BMW runs over a bicycle with training wheels.

Riding bikes has been popular for a long time and is becoming more popular outdoor sport in the U.S. since it has cardiovascular health benefits. Riding has definite advantages, but there is also risk involved when riding on public roadways and trails where motor vehicles are in the same vicinity. Bicycle-motor vehicle accidents are not uncommon.

Accidents on the roadway happen daily and being a bicyclist sharing the roads can increase the risk of danger. Implementing these safety tips while riding will reduce injuries. When security measures fail, victims must obtain immediate and proper legal advice. The reputable law firm of Ehline Law Firm specializes in bicycle related mishaps and is one phone call away.

Bicycle Safety.

One of the most common types of bicycle incidents involving adults are:

  1. When the front of the vehicle strikes the bike head on, and,
  2. The less obvious scenario is with vehicles in reverse. In that case, the vehicle the rider is unceremoniously run over while the car is backing up. So this happens to children more than adults. Also, it is most common when vehicles back out of driveways.

Below are some methods to reduce the risk collisions.

  • Wearing a helmet and other protective gear can help avoid injury.
  • Installing a headlight on the bicycle and having one on the helmet.The bike headlight is best when it has a bright light with a flashing mode. Law does not require bicycle headlights. But these items can increase safety in low visibility or at night. Having a headlamp on the helmet can also decrease risks. This is because it also makes the rider more visible to motor vehicle drivers.
  • Bicycle horns or waving to a driver to make eye contact. This helps prevent accidents from happening where the driver reports they did not see the bicycle rider until it was too late.
    Always ride in a bicycle lane or surface road when possible. By doing this, drivers can more easily to spot the bicycle. And that makes it easier to keep a safe distance between the passing vehicle and rider. Moving to the left as far as possible makes it easier to avoid collisions with motor vehicles.

Crosswalk Dangers.

Other than the common pathway, or parkway, crosswalks are an extremely dangerous area for bicyclists. And this remains one of the most common types of bicycle collisions Ehline Law Firm has seen.

Some Tips to Reduce Cross Walk Risks.

  • When going through a crosswalk, come to a complete stop. Then get off your bike and walk. It is a cross-walk, not a cross-ride. Get it? Also, this allows the rider to observe traffic for drivers making a turn or a motorist that may travel through the crosswalk without watching the pedestrian’s right-of-way.
  • Use the bicycle headlight to be more noticeable when riding at dusk, at night or on days with poor visibility conditions.

Sidewalks and Parking Lots.

Avoid riding a bicycle on sidewalks, which may appear to be safer than riding on a roadway. It is a sidewalk for a reason. In fact, in most cities, riding on the sidewalk remains illegal. Also, it puts the rider at greater risk.

Vehicles can pull or back out of driveways. And cars parked on the street can open doors that can hit the bicyclist. Or they may create an obstruction that must be quickly maneuvered around. Riding a bicycle in a parking lot is hazardous for the rider. This is because vehicles pulling in and out of the area may not see the bike or rider in time to avoid a collision. The bicyclist often does not have a way to maneuver the bike to prevent the accident. Plus, garage floors are notoriously slippery for skinny bike rims and tires.

In some instances, the bicyclist may be able to maneuver out of the path of the vehicle. But in doing so, the rider may be struck by another motorist. In this case, it remains possible that both drivers may be held responsible. But the driver that created the dangerous circumstances should be held accountable.

Staying safe while riding is getting more difficult. Higher fuel costs are leading to more cyclists occupying the limited space available to regular riders and enthusiasts alike. Following these basic tips can help mitigate the risks of suffering at the hands of another.

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Ehline Law Firm
Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 W 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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