Articles Posted in catastrophic injury

Shallow Water Diving Danger

Shallow Water Diving Danger

Shallow Water Diving Danger

I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove personal injury lawyer. We recently learned of a tragic accident where a young man dove into a swimming pool and suffered catastrophic injuries.

Child_angel_on_a_child's_grave_-_Oak_Hill_Cemetery_-_2013-09-04Wrongful death claims for deceased minors can include a claim for the loss of future wages.  How is this possible if the deceased child never worked a day or died while still an infant?  In fact, this is the question of doubt that defense lawyers use to sow doubt or to attempt to diminish the value of a claim in the minds of juror when discussing this portion of the wrongful death claim of a minor.

However, a good wrongful death lawyer does not shy away from pursuing a future wage loss claim when representing the relatives of the deceased child when the possibility for doing so exists.   What does a wrongful death lawyer do to calculate the future lost earnings of a deceased child?  Admittedly, the process used is not perfect but it is a process that courts generally accept.

When calculating wage loss for a working adult, the already existing work history of the injured adult can be used to create a fairly accurate estimation of potential future earnings.

Finding Life’s Purpose After Catastrophic Injury
Finding Life’s Purpose After Catastrophic Injury

If you are reading this, you or someone you know may have suffered a traumatic and/or catastrophic injury.

We hope you will find courage and inspiration as you read about Stephanie Decker in the story and video link that follows.

A terrible fatal car crash happened in Georgetown, California this week involving a pickup truck, DUI and a rollover.  The husband of the deceased victim was booked into the El Dorado County Jail on several charges, which included DUI with bodily injury, child endangerment and vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated.

Terrible facts, and the husband will pay for this incident forever.  Obviously, there is driver negligence in this case, but it always is worth looking at the crashworthiness of the involved vehicle.  The deceased wife and mother in this incident was likely killed due to her position in the vehicle coupled with the area of the rollover.  Could faulty design be partly at play in this instance?  The husband, and the two children (ages 14 and 3) walked away without injury.

Crashworthiness is the ability of a vehicle to protect its occupants in the event of an impact. The criteria used during testing vehicle crashworthiness depends on several factors including the nature of the impact as well as the type of vehicle involved.  Crash testing seeks to reduce the instances of fatal and serious injuries that occur yearly within the U.S., and researches new and improved vehicle safety designs.

A recent collision on Business 80 in Sacramento was only the latest in a rash of California highway wrong-way driver crashes — some of them deadly — that have occurred in recent months. Fortunately, this incident only resulted in “moderate” injuries to the wrong-way driver himself. The driver of the big rig that he hit was not injured. Unfortunately, this was not the case in a wrong-way crash in Long Beach that killed one driver and critically injured two other people.  Nor was it the case in a May collision on Interstate 80 in Sacramento that killed three people, a May crash on Highway 50 in Sacramento that killed four, or a January collision on Interstate 80 in Sacramento that killed three people.

A common factor in many wrong-way crashes is alcohol use.  The drivers in these incidents are frequently confused by highway on-ramps and off-ramps, entering against traffic on the off-ramps.  They are then frequently found to be driving against traffic in the left-hand fast lanes, thinking instead that they are “safely” driving in the correct direction in the right-hand slow lanes.  These accidents are most common at night, and the sudden appearance of the wrong-way driver in front of the right-way drivers — with combined closing speeds well over 100 mph — leaves other drivers with very, very little time to react.  The high combined closing speed also adds to the severity of the impacts that result.

Studies have also found that a large percentage of wrong-way highway collisions occur from intentional, illegal U-turns, and that the peak time of day for wrong-way collisions in California is between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. — not coincidentally, the hour immediately after bars are required to close.

Beware of Shoulder Edge Drop Off
Beware of Shoulder Edge Drop Off

I would like to warn you of the dangers of our highway shoulders. These highway shoulders are more commonly referred to as “pavement edge drop off” by the Federal Highway Administration. Information contained in California State design and maintenance standards reveal that the paved edge/shoulder of any given roadway should be built and maintained in a flat (flush) manner with its adjacent unpaved shoulder. A dangerous shoulder edge drop generally results from improper road maintenance. These roadway shoulders become unsafe and dangerous when a motorist leaves the roadway and then tries to re-enter over a shoulder edge drop off. What usually occurs is that the motorist needs to increase steering in order to come back up onto the pavement edge drop off to re-enter the road he pulled off of. When the motorist is successful at mounting the pavement edge drop off, the motorist instantly finds himself back on the road with an increase in steering motion. Couple this with the high speed that is necessary to merge back onto a highway and you have a recipe for disaster in that the motorist is unable to react to the movement caused by increased steering input and the car veers off the roadway opposite the pavement edge drop off and gets seriously injured.

This is sometimes easier to watch than to explain. Here is a YouTube link to the Federal Highway Administration video regarding unsafe shoulder edge drop off. Please watch the video for yourself and be aware of this type of dangerous roadway defect case in case it happens to you or someone you love.

Elk Grove Man Laid to Rest
Elk Grove Man Laid to Rest

Evan James Robertson, 23, of Elk Grove was laid to rest over the weekend after dying at the scene of an auto accident on July 18, 2015. According to the California Highway Patrol, Evan was a passenger in a vehicle with two other people traveling westbound on Highway 50 near Third Street when their vehicle rear ended another car that had broken down in the slow lane of the freeway. Evan, who was riding in the back seat of the car and was not wearing a seat belt, sustained serious head injuries which ended his young life.

We can only imagine the heartache family and friends are experiencing as they try to deal with Evan’s untimely and tragic death.  A memorial service in honor of Evan’s life was held this past Saturday, August 1 at 2 pm at East Lawn Elk Grove – See more at:

boating accidentsBoating accidents are numerically much less common than car crashes, but the “typical” boating accident can result in much more significant injuries than the “typical” car crash. Obviously, most people involved in car crashes will be using seat belts and/or shoulder harness, and in most cars will have the benefit of air bags and other modern safety equipment. In a boating accident, about the most that can be hoped for in terms of safety equipment is that victims will be wearing life jackets that may save them from drowning if they’re ejected from the boat.

A recent example was a boating accident on the Sacramento River near Red Bluff that resulted in injuries to seven people, three of whom had to be taken to a hospital, one of those with significant head injuries who was transported first by ambulance and then by helicopter to a trauma center. Other injuries included a broken arm and hip for the man who was driving the boat. The accident apparently happened when the boat crossed the large wake of another boat, causing the driver to lose control and crash into a bridge piling where Interstate-5 crosses the river.

boating accidentsOther factors leading to boating accidents include inexperienced operators — many boat owners will allow people to operate their boats whom they would never allow to operate their cars. And even experienced boat owners will have far less time at the tiller than experienced car owners have behind the wheel. Alcohol is also a significant factor in many major boating accidents due to its common presence during recreational boating. While operating a boat when intoxicated is certainly illegal in California — with potentially very significant penalties — there just isn’t the same level of law enforcement screening and observation on the waterways as there is on the roadways.

Deteriorating Highway Shoulders
Deteriorating highway shoulders can cause auto accidents with personal injuries and wrongful deaths on our roadways. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) says about 11,000 people get hurt and some 160 people actually die per year in motor vehicle accidents associated with dangerous pavement edges around highway shoulders of the roadway. The figures have resulted in a cost of approximately $1.2 billion.

The highway shoulder may be in a defective state if there is a dangerous drop-off zone between the roadway edge paving and the shoulder. These drop-offs are really unsafe when uneven height differences are present between road and shoulder surfaces. What sometimes happens here is vehicle stability is jeopardized and causes the driver to lose handling of the car.

Common causes of highway shoulders becoming dangerously defective may be roadway erosion and/or roadway wear and tear. This seems to be the most common cause of uneven pavement edge drop-offs. However, resurfacing performed on a roadway without including a “proper” transition in to the shoulder has also been noted as a possible factor in pavement edge defects.

Are You Using A Tree Harness?

Snap-hook and V-rings are parts used in tree harnesses commonly purchased by hunters to obtain optimal hunting shots from way up high in a tree.  Product liability issues may arise when these parts are defective and dangerous.  Some falls may be minor, moderate or may even result in a wrongful death.

Recently we learned of a case between a tree harness manufacturer and a component manufacturer of the tree harness and a settlement approaching close to $2,000,000. The hunter received major and permanent traumatic injuries when he climbed about 25 feet up a tree in Missouri and hooked himself in a tree harness manufactured by an unnamed tree harness manufacturer and tree harness part maker. The harness was advertised as giving hunters the maximum flexibility needed to maneuver in trees so that they can receive the widest variety of great shooting angles. To do this, hunters were told to twist around the trees to get their shots. Unfortunately, this snap-hook and v-ring combo did not have a locking mechanism, but rather could be “unhooked” in one quick twisting type movement. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is easy to figure out. The twisting movement of the hunter in the tree caused a roll-out situation from the twisting/torsional movement being applied to the snap-hook and V-ring combo.