Articles Posted in Miscellaneous News

A fire that began in a Victorville neighborhood and raged through the hills, was started by illegal fireworks. ABC 7 News reported that after the fire began an explosion and a wind gust spread the fire quickly.  The fire caused damage to several homes and yards, though luckily, due to the quick response of firefighters, no homes were completely lost. One resident stated, “I pulled [my] curtain open, I looked through the blinds, and all I saw was a huge fire right above our house, it looked like it was going to fall into our back yard.” Fortunately for those who set off the illegal fireworks, there were no personal injuries caused by the fire.

Southern California fire marshals have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illegal fireworks because of how dangerous they can be in the dry, fire-prone, Southern California environment. With the 4th of July just around the corner, residents in this Victorville neighborhood are urging people to remember that when “You shoot off a firework, and it only takes one spark for it to light a whole street on fire, if it wasn’t for the fire department being right up that street, who knows what would have happened?”

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According to the Daily Breeze, many mobile traffic map apps are causing problems on small Los Angeles residential streets. The apps such as Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps attempt to help drivers take the fastest route to their destination and avoid detected traffic. The problem is that some of the traffic is diverted to small side streets or residential streets that are not designed for heavy traffic, and too much traffic on these small streets can lead to dangerous conditions.

A new motion before the Los Angeles city council proposes that the city get involved with these app makers to attempt to reduce the problems these apps cause. As one councilman put it, “Mobile app makers are sacrificing the quality of life in our neighborhoods, just so drivers can save a few seconds or minutes with an alternate route, we have an obligation to see what can be done to protect our neighborhoods and prevent these apps from continuing to divert drivers from major avenues onto small residential streets that aren’t designed to accommodate high-volume traffic.”  Continue Reading

According to ABC 7 News, a 5.3 magnitude earthquake shook Southern California Thursday afternoon. The earthquake struck of the coast, near the Channel Islands, approximately “39 miles southwest of Oxnard.” People in areas such as downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, West Los Angeles, Calabasas and Santa Monica all reported feeling the shaking of the quake.

Immediately following the quake the Los Angeles Fire Department surveyed and examined the Los Angeles area, checking buildings, transportation, and power. Luckily, no earthquake damage or injuries have been reported so far on the mainland, though the Channel Islands suffered some structural damage.

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According to the Agoura Patch, California’s drivers ranked 18th in the United States in the category of worst drivers. Only 17 states had worse drivers than California, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Further, the United States ranked 19th among similar economic countries in the category of destructive driving.

The items that were taken into account for these rankings included drunk driving, careless driving, auto accident fatalities, seatbelt use, driving without a license, speeding and failure to obey traffic laws. According to the statistics, the worst characteristics of California drivers was their drunk driving and speeding. Continue Reading

If you love animals like we do, we highly support contributing money to VETPAW –  Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife.  This organization not only helps protect African wildlife like elephants and rhinos from hunters and poachers, but it also employs United States military veterans.  Essentially, it is contributing to two great causes – protecting animals and employing veterans.

To learn more about the amazing job that VETPAW is doing with our veterans, to help protect animals, please visit their website at www.vetpaw.org.  Also, to donate money to their cause, visit the following page: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/vetpaw2015.

Our California personal injury attorneys at the Walch Law Corporation are animal lovers and support and donate money to many different animal welfare causes, including again today to VETPAW.  Attorney Robert Walch is a member of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and, in addition to donating money to the cause, attended their last symposium in May in downtown Los Angeles, to learn about more ways to help animals.

Did you know that there is a new device able to test if a driver has used recreational drugs and is driving while high?  As you may know, medical marijuana is used by many and there is a proposed ballot measure to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in California.   As a result, on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, California legislators proposed a new law to use this new technology to stop motorists who are driving while under the influence of drugs.

The proposed legislation – referred to as SB 1462 – would give California police authority to use an oral swab test when there is probable cause to believe a driver is impaired and failed a field sobriety test.  The swab is read by a hand held portable electronic device that is able to detect the presence of not only marijuana, but also cocaine, amphetamines and pain medications like opiates.

The proposed bill is authored and sponsored by Republican Senator Bob Huff of San Dimas, California.  This bill also is backed by the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Narcotic Officers Association.

Backers of SB 1462 referred to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which found a 22% increase in driving arrests relating to the use of drugs while driving from 2007 to 2014.

In Colorado, where recreational marijuana use was permitted in 2013, according to the Los Angeles Times, marijuana related traffic deaths went up by 32% in just one year!

If you have any thoughts about this new device and proposed legislation, you are encouraged to contact Senator Bob Huff of San Dimas or our personal injury & wrongful death accident lawyers.

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According to LAist, the City of Santa Monica will be putting in eleven pedestrian scrambles to help make the streets safer and attempt to prevent Santa Monica pedestrian accidents. Because of the amount of foot traffic in downtown Santa Monica, we hope that these measures will help prevent accidents and help move traffic along at a more efficient pace.

The pedestrian scrambles function by stopping all cars in all directions at the designated intersections so that pedestrians can cross in all directions, including diagonally across an intersection. With cars stopped in all directions, this should lead to fewer people getting hit by a car in Santa Monica.

Also, because drivers will not have to wait for pedestrians to cross when making turns, this should help cause less traffic congestion on the streets of downtown Santa Monica. The counter argument would be that since there must be a significant time after each traffic cycle where all vehicles are stopped, this could cause certain traffic backlogs.

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Assistant Los Angeles Sheriff Michael Rothans has announced his retirement from the Sheriff’s Department for “health reasons” while he is being investigated for purchasing an impounded Audi, believed to be year 2010, with 24,000 miles on it, for just $3,000 from Lisa Vernola, who happens to own Vernola Towing in Norwalk, California.  Vernola Towing has a contract with the Sheriff’s Department and such purchases by Sheriff officials are strictly prohibited.  Purportedly the Kelley Blue book lists a similar car – if in good condition – for $17,000.00.   But Rothans was able to buy it for only $3,000.

In fact, the subject Audi was not a 2010 model but is a 2012 model that reportedly was stolen while new from a car dealership in Mission Viejo.

Assistant Sheriff Rothans told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that he had no idea it was stolen and when he bought it it had 24,000 miles on it and needed a radio and had rear end damage.  Rothans allegedly could not provide any receipts for such alleged repairs.

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As you may have heard, Volkswagen (VW) is embroiled in a major fraud, where they are accused of falsifying records of emissions from its diesel engine cars covering the years 2009 to 2015.  As a result, owners of VW diesel engine vehicles in California have filed suit against VW to compel it to buyback its cars that do not meet emission results as previously represented by VW.

Reportedly, VW sold 482,000 diesel vehicles in the United States and VW has estimated that it could take at least one year for it to fix most of these vehicles that had “secret” software designed to trick pollution tests. Many believe it would take much longer than one year to fix all of its diesel engine vehicles to comply with emission standards in California and the U.S.

Apparently the “secret” software detects when the VW diesel vehicles are undergoing laboratory emission tests and alters how the diesel vehicles operate to trick the laboratory to conclude requirements are met when, in fact, the diesel engine under normal use does not comply with required emission standards.

Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are demanding that VW fix its diesel engine vehicles to comply with mandated emission standards.

According to the Kelley Blue Book, approximately 67,000 of these VW diesel engine vehicles are in California, manufactured from 2009 to 2015.

CARB has given VW until November 20, 2015, to submit remedies to bring its California VW fleet of diesel engine vehicles into compliance with California emission regulations. It is doubtful whether VW can timely comply with this demand.

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The California Judicial Council ended on Monday, June 8, 2015, the long standing unfair practice of requiring drivers to pay their fines for traffic tickets in advance if they want to contest their tickets in court.  The way it worked was if one received a ticket and wanted to challenge it in court, the driver was required to post bail in advance–that is to actually pay the amount of the ticket in advance, even before being found guilty.

The problem was that the fines, which initially may have run about $100 to $150 or so, then had fees or penalty assessments (PAs) added onto them and these PAs were several times the amount of the fine, so a fine of $100-150 with the PA became about $450 or more.  One purpose of the PAs is to help pay for the cost of special programs.  Such total fines now became totally disproportionate to the offense, not affordable for many and as a result many fines went unpaid, people did not appear in court and many driver’s licenses were suspended.

As a further result, the California legislature is reportedly preparing to vote on a proposal to cut the cost of delinquent fines, provide payment plans and reinstate licenses that may have been suspended for failure to pay and failure to appear in court.

The other issue to resolve is the harsh, oppressive and unconscionable PAs or additional fees that our legislature and courts have tacked onto such traffic tickets.

Meanwhile, according to the Los Angeles Times, the new rule about not having to pay in advance if one wants to fight his or her traffic ticket reportedly will apply only to those who have not yet missed their court date.  If you have already missed your court date, the new rule is not supposed to help you.  So, if you received a ticket but have not yet had your first appearance (i.e., court date), you may request a trial without paying the fine (technically posting bail) in advance.

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