Archives for July 2011

San Francisco Bicycle – Bus Accident Claim Settles for $5.36 Million

The San Francisco Examiner recently reported on the multimillion-dollar settlement of a civil lawsuit for injuries suffered by a bicycle rider when struck by a Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI) bus near Ocean Beach in November 2008.

Though neither party provided comment about the injuries or the settlement, the $5.36 million amount was negotiated between the injured bicyclist’s attorneys and the San Francisco City Attorney’s office. The settlement was later approved by MUNI’s board.

Settlement documents filed in June 2011 stated that the injured man is under a court – approved conservatorship to manage his financial affairs, which indicates that his injuries were severe enough to render him incapable of accepting the settlement on his own. The Examiner report went on to mention that the amount paid to resolve his claim was more than double the amount necessary to settle the claims filed against MUNI following a 2009 light-rail accident at the West Portal Station, in which more than 40 people were injured.

MUNI now carries liability insurance to cover catastrophic injury claims in excess of $5 million up to a limit of $25 million, but the agency carried no such insurance at the time of the November 2008 bus – bike accident. The settlement will be paid from MUNI’s 2011–12 operating fund.

Proving Liability and Damages in Catastrophic Injury Cases

Proof of catastrophic injury claims in a bicycle-bus accident first depends on the plaintiff’s ability to show that the defendant driver was negligent. In the Ocean Beach accident, the bus driver was alleged to have failed to stop before making a left turn onto the highway where the bicyclist was struck. The driver also allegedly failed to signal the turn while accelerating through it. The bicyclist was hit while crossing the highway from a bike path. Proof of these allegations would have been more than enough to prove negligence in court.

Although the specific nature of the injuries was not reported in the settlement, they must have been horrific to support a settlement of more than $5 million. Proof of damages in cases of permanent or disabling injuries typically depends on the plaintiff’s ability to provide detailed documentation as to the full range of injuries suffered, past and projected treatment expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

In the most severe cases, the anticipated cost of the injured person’s in – home assistance, nursing care, adaptive technology, rehabilitative or vocational therapy, and other expenses will also be included in the damages demand. Each of these elements of loss will normally need to be proved through qualified experts.

Call a San Francisco Bike Accident Lawyer: 866-288-6010

With offices in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and San Rafael, the personal injury attorneys of Weber & Nierenberg offer dependable advice and highly skilled advocacy on behalf of people throughout northern California who need to understand their legal options in the aftermath of a serious bicycle accident. To find out how our lawyers can meet the challenges of your case, contact us by e-mail or phone to arrange a free consultation at any of our locations, or visit our website.

Spinal Disc Injuries – Causes and Treatment

San Francisco Bay Area Back Injury Attorney

Back pain is a common problem, afflicting millions of Americans. Back pain is typically caused by personal injury, age, conditions such as osteoarthritis or Paget’s disease, and weight. As a result, the cause of back pain generally involves injuries to ligaments and muscles, fractures, and torn or ruptured discs. In cases involving pulls or strains, back pain usually goes away by itself in about four weeks. In cases involving herniated discs or fractures link to herniated discs or fractures, matters can be complicated by nerve pressure and inflammation. If flare ups continue with some regularity, eventually chronic pain and decreased mobility may require back surgery.

Herniated Discs and Back Pain

A disc sits above the spinal canal containing nerves that run from the brain to the rest of the body. A disc contains gelatinous matter that helps confer flexibility on the spine. In a back injury where excessive weight or pressure is transferred to the spine, the outer membrane of a disc may tear, allowing its gelatinous core to create a bulge that compresses nerve roots along the spinal canal. This can result in pinched nerves, leading to loss of sensation or tingling in the extremities. If the disc does not heal or is prone to herniation, the result may be chronic pain that is difficult to treat. In these kinds of cases, spinal fusion surgery may be necessary.

Spinal Fusion Surgery and Herniated Discs

When rest or physical therapy is not enough to heal a herniated disc, spinal fusion surgery may be required. Spinal fusion surgery involves taking a bone graft and using it to fuse two bones together to create a stable encasement for a bulging disc. This involves fusing the vertebra above and below the herniated disc to prevent movement between them. Screws and plates are then affixed to make sure the vertebrae are secure until the bulging disc heals. While expensive, spinal fusion surgery may be the only option people have when a herniated disc will not heal properly.

Contact Bay Area San Francisco Back Injury Attorneys

Any award or settlement in a personal injury case involving back injuries should take into consideration the considerable costs of spinal fusion surgery. If a car, truck, motorcycle, or construction accident has left you with a herniated disc, it’s important to consult an experienced back doctor to determine whether you need spinal fusion or surgery or may need it in the future.

For more information regarding back pain and personal injuries, contact San Francisco personal injury attorneys Weber & Nierenberg today.

Bay Area Bicycle Accidents

San Francisco Bay Area Bicycle Accident Attorneys

Regardless of whether you’ve driven in downtown San Francisco or biked along the Embarcadero, it’s clear the combination of cars, buses, and streetcars can make for a confusing mix that puts bicyclists in danger. As a result, most people aren’t surprise when they learn that from 2005 to 2009, there were roughly 2,200 bike accidents in San Francisco. But what about the suburbs – shouldn’t they be safer?

Bicycle Accidents and Bay Area Suburbs

According to data gathered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the number of bicycle accidents in some suburbs is alarmingly high. For example, from 2005 to 2009 there were 1,179 bicycle accidents in San Mateo, 3,564 in Santa Clara, 1,144 in Contra Costa, and an alarming 3,444 in Alameda. In areas with relatively little population, numbers were high as well: Napa saw 335 bicycle accidents while Solano witnessed 472. As a percentage of bicycle commuters in both areas, these numbers mean that 12.8% and 16.1% of all bicycle commuters in Napa and Solano respectively were involved in accidents.

Car Drivers must be to Blame – Rights? Not Necessarily . . .

Most bicyclists have a few horror stories to tell about car drivers who yell at them, pass too close, or don’t pay attention at intersections and nearly hit them. So, it must be car drivers who are responsible for most of these bicycle accidents, right? Think again – according to the data collected, 52% of the 14,000 bicycle accidents from 2005 to 2009 in the Bay Area were the fault of bicyclists. Car drivers were responsible for 34%. Even if solo crashes are taken out of the mix, in car-bicycle accidents, bicyclists were still responsible 48% of the time compared against 37% for motorists.

Bicycle Accidents in the Bay Area – Considering the Numbers

While it may be difficult to determine why the counties surrounding San Francisco have witnessed such a large number of bicycle accidents, perhaps the numbers themselves are due to the increasing numbers of cyclists on the road. As more and more people bike to get to and from work, cycling is no longer the province of sports enthusiasts. As a result, the increase in bicycle accidents is only to be expected, as there are now more cyclists on the road.

Hurt in a Bicycle Accident? Contact Weber & Nierenberg

If you’ve been hit by a motorist, it’s important to consult an experience personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the specifics of your case, it may be important to investigate the scene of your accident, gather evidence, and track down witnesses. At the San Francisco personal injury law office of Weber & Nierenberg, we have the resources and knowledge needed to investigate the cause of a bicycle accident and hold those responsible financially liable.

To schedule an appointment and discuss your case, contact Bay Area bicycle accident attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg today.

Locations & Contact Information
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1 Sansome Street, Suite 3500 San Francisco, CA 94104
P. 415-788-3900

1999 Harrison Street, Suite 1800 Oakland, CA 94612
P. 510-663-6000