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Driving During an Earthquake? DON'T Do This

Credit: National Park Service (NPS) Photo Since the magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake in 1994, Los Angeles and Southern California have been lucky to avoid other major significant seismic activity. But that period of relative quiet ended with some fireworks on the Fourth of July in 2019 when a magnitude 6.4 quake in Ridgecrest, California, rocking communities from Las Vegas to Baja California, followed by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in the same area the next day, as well as numerous aftershocks. Because you never know when another big one is going to strike, it’s important to always be prepared, and that includes knowing what to do if you’re on the road when an earthquake hits. What NOT to Do When Driving During an Earthquake Most Californians know to drop, cover, and hold during an earthquake, but those rules go out the window if you’re driving when the quake occurs. Before the ground starts shaking and you’re left unsure of what to do, below are a few tips of what not to do in an earthquake while driving. Do NOT… Brake Suddenly: When you stop suddenly, you risk surprising other motorists and causing accidents. Sudden braking can lead to a rear-end collision and multi-vehicle pileup. Try to Out-Drive the Quake: Although it might be tempting to try this, you’re not going to be able to out-drive the earthquake. P Waves can travel up to 14 kilometers per second, which is significantly faster than whatever vehicle you happen to be driving. Get Out and Run: Do not get out of your vehicle and start running, either. Not only are you unlikely to escape the radius of a major earthquake, but large cracks, strong shaking, and fallen power lines, debris, glass, gas leaks, etc. are a recipe for disaster when you’re on foot. When you are in the car, you should avoid leaving it unless remaining in the car puts you at immediate risk.  Drive Under or Over a Bridge: Bridges are at high risk for earthquake damage, especially during large earthquakes. You should avoid them if at all possible, including immediately after the quake. It is best to avoid driving over bridges if you notice shaking. Use Your Phone Unless Necessary: Avoid using your phone unless absolutely necessary, such as if you need to call 911 because you’re injured. It is important to keep lines clear so that emergency calls can go through and emergency personnel can communicate. Only use your phone if absolutely necessary.  How to Avoid an Accident During an Earthquake The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services have partnered together to create a list of recommended protective actions that will reduce injury and damage in the event of an earthquake. If you’re hoping to avoid a car accident or motorcycle accident during an earthquake, you should do the following.  DO… Reduce Speed Gradually: During an earthquake, reduce your speed gradually to avoid surprising other motorists and getting into a rear-end accident or multi-vehicle pileup. Pull Over: Pull over to the side of the road away from bridges, overpasses, power lines, and other hazards. If there is no clear space to pull over, keep driving until you find one. Park: Set your parking brake, turn your vehicle off, and leave on your seatbelt. Your car is a safe place to be during an earthquake, as long as it is not in the path of anything that could be dangerous, like a bridge, power line, or pillar.  Turn on the Radio: During an earthquake, instructions from the government or local authorities are broadcast over the radio. Leaving your radio on is the best way to stay informed of the situation and avoid the risk of further danger. Wait: Occupants of a vehicle should remain in the car until the shaking stops. Only leave your car if staying in the vehicle poses an immediate safety hazard. Stock your car with emergency supplies or an earthquake survival kit to be on the safe side. Once the shaking has subsided, proceed carefully. In the wake of the Ridgecrest quake, and with the Big One still sure to hit California someday, planning for an earthquake has never been more important than it is now. For more information about earthquake safety and help with emergency planning, review FEMA’s Earthquake Safety Checklist. Additional Precautions to Take After the Quake Even once the strong earthquake has passed, it is important to act with caution. An earthquake can damage the integrity of buildings, roadways, and services. Once the shaking stops and it’s safe to drive again, you should proceed with caution.  Drivers should make sure to avoid driving under or over bridges, near downed power lines, on highway ramps, or other structures that may have sustained damage during the quake.  You should also be aware that earthquakes might have aftershocks. These can be dangerous. If you notice further shaking or tremors, it is best to pull over again.  The biggest danger during an earthquake is not the quake itself but the environment where you are when the earthquake happens. More often than not, accidents and injuries during an earthquake result from damage to a nearby man-made structure or building. The highest death tolls from earthquakes in history, going as far back as 1556 and as recently as the 21st Century, are due to improper building conditions. Computer analysis suggests that an 8.0 earthquake in Los Angeles would cause about 10,000 more deaths during the day than it would at night because the population would be on freeways and in large buildings.  While structures are a huge factor, injuries can also occur from accidents involving other drivers on the road, which could be caused by the shaking itself or by those drivers not taking the correct precautions for road saftey during and after an earthquake. Wilshire Law Firm: Experienced Car Accident Lawyers As experienced car accident lawyers, we do whatever we can to promote road safety, which is why we’re bringing you these helpful tips. While no one can know when an earthquake is going to strike while they’re driving, there are many types of avoidable motor vehicle accidents, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, and more that are caused by another person’s negligence (i.e., traffic violations, drunk driving, distracted driving, etc.). When these accidents occur, our injury attorneys are here to help. Recovering more than $850,000,000 in compensation on behalf of our clients, we’re committed to helping injury victims get the best results possible in their cases. To find out how we can assist you, call us today at (800) 522-7274 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.

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Minimum Wage Raised in LA County, But Not For Everyone

California and Los Angeles County’s Minimum Wage Inches Closer to $15.00 per Hour Although the California minimum wage is now $12.00 per hour for large employers and $11.00 per hour for small employers, that hasn’t stopped many counties and municipalities across the state from increasing their minimum wages. Starting July 1st, 2019, workers in the City of Los Angeles and Unincorporated Los Angeles County received [a small bump in pay](https://abc7.com/society/cities-across-la-county-see-new-minimum-wage-increase/5375233/) as part of the county’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by 2021. What are LA County’s New Minimum Wage Laws? Cities all throughout California have varying wage and hour laws—in fact, California has some of the most complicated minimum wage laws in the country. The actual minimum wage paid out depends on a few things, namely: the location, the employer’s size, and the employee’s line of work. In Unincorporated LA County, the new minimum wage laws are as follows: Employers with fewer than 26 employees must pay at least $13.25 per hour. If an employer has 26 or more employees, they are now required to pay at least $14.25 per hour. Both figures represent a $1.00 per hour increase over the previous minimum wage. Although the City of Los Angeles raised its minimum wage in accordance with Los Angeles County, special provisions have been granted to hotel workers within the City of Los Angeles. Wages for hotel employees made a small jump from their previous rate of $16.10 per hour to $16.63 per hour. Where Else Has The Minimum Wage Changed? These developments are not unique to LA—localities stretching from San Francisco to Santa Monica are pushing their minimum wages higher in-step with Los Angeles. But cities like Long Beach and Torrance are failing to keep pace, refusing to raise their minimum wage above the state-required levels. For a complete list of all recent minimum wage changes in California, The National Law Review has compiled a complete list of changes throughout the state.

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Rental Car Insurance: Everything You Need to Know

A car accident may be the furthest thing from your mind when you’re researching rental cars. But the rental car agent will most certainly bring it up when you pick up your vehicle. That’s because they’ll offer you additional insurance coverage. Do you know what coverage to accept and what to turn down? It’s so important to research and find out what your own insurance and credit card cover way before you reach the rental car counter. Otherwise, if you do get into a car accident with your rental, you could be looking at some major problems. Keep in mind, this information applies only to passenger vehicles rented in the United States from traditional car rental companies. If you are renting a car for business purposes, odds are that your personal auto insurance will not cover your rental. First, let’s look at the five most common rental car company coverage choices: Loss/Collision Damage Waiver – The rental car company won’t charge you if the vehicle is damaged or stolen. This also covers what’s deemed “loss of use charges” if the car has to go into a shop to be repaired, causing it to be out of the rental car company’s fleet for any period of time. Liability Coverage – Protects you if you injure someone or damage property due to a car accident. Personal Accident Insurance – Covers medical bills for the driver and any passengers in the rental vehicle. Sometimes ambulance expenses are covered as well. Personal Effects Coverage – Coverage for personal belongings stolen or damaged while in the rental. Roadside Assistance – Most rental car companies offer roadside assistance– at a fee. This protects you from additional charges for problems that may arise, such as running out of gas, lost keys or a dead battery. Note, flat tire services are not always covered or may only be offered separately, adding on yet another fee. Rental car agents often employ scare tactics when they offer you additional insurance coverage. That’s because they’re not service employees, they’re salespeople. You might be surprised to learn that they make commissions on every extra they can tack onto to your rental car bill, hence the hard sell. It’s so important to research and find out what your own insurance and credit card cover way before you reach the rental car counter. Are any of the car rental company’s added coverages worth buying? A lot will depend on your individual circumstances. You certainly don’t want to waste money and pay for the same coverage twice, but you don’t want to be on the hook for thousands of dollars in bills either. There are some situations where the choice is more obvious. YES: You currently don’t have car insurance – You must have some sort of insurance before you get behind the wheel. If you have homeowner’s, renter’s or health insurance, check to see if and what rental car coverage they offer. If they don’t cover your rental, check with your credit card company. If they only offer secondary coverage, which is more common, you’ll need to take at least part of the rental car company’s coverage. See below for an explanation of what your credit card will cover. You’re not confident behind the wheel or driving in a new city – If you’re nervous about driving in a new city and/or a new, unfamiliar vehicle, you may want to add their collision coverage for added peace of mind. MAYBE: Your own auto insurance policy has a high deductible and/or minimum liability coverage – If you only carry your state’s minimum in coverage and you’re involved in a major accident, your policy may not cover all of the damages. You’ll have to pay the difference. That can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. You may also have to pay a large deductible. You have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance that covers your personal belongings –Some consumers want to avoid filing a claim through their own insurance because they’re afraid their premiums will go up. If that’s your situation, go ahead and add personal effects coverage. It’s one of the lower priced add-ons so it doesn’t add much to your rental car bill anyway. Of course, check to see how much the daily charges add up to before you do. NO: You are covered by your own personal auto insurance – Consumers who are fully covered and have high liability limits on their personal insurance policies can usually decline any extra coverage from the car rental company. Your health insurance company offers personal accident insurance – You can probably decline this coverage. Check with your health insurance provider to make sure. Some rental car companies also offer wrongful death coverage. If you have life insurance, you may already have coverage. Some health insurance companies offer it as well. Check to see if that’s the case. You already have roadside assistance – If you have roadside assistance, either through an organization, your insurance or your credit card, you can waive this coverage. Double check with them to make sure they cover rental vehicles. For consumers who haven’t rented a car in a while, note that the days of free roadside assistance are pretty much gone. The majority of rental car companies now charge for the service and that can really add to your final bill. Won’t my credit card cover car rental insurance? That depends. First some requirements. In order to have any insurance coverage through your credit card, you must: Use that card to book your vehicle. The person behind the wheel at the time of the accident must match the name on the credit card used to book the reservation. You must decline collision coverage from the rental car company when you pick up your vehicle. If you can tick off all three of these, then it depends on whether your credit card offers primary or secondary coverage. Primary Coverage – If you have primary coverage, you’re covered in an accident. In fact, your auto insurance company will not be involved at all. The problem is that not too many credit cards offer primary coverage. Secondary Coverage – Most credit cards only offer secondary coverage. That means your personal auto insurance pays out on the claim first. It only kicks in after your own coverage has been exhausted. An example would be to reimburse you for any deductible paid. What can I do to avoid any surprises at the end of my rental? Inspect the vehicle at pick up – One of the most important things you can do at pick up is to inspect the car thoroughly with the agent present. Take your time doing this. Don’t be afraid to point out anything that looks like a scratch or a dent. Videotape or take photos as you inspect it. Don’t forget the interior as well. Sit inside the car. Lower and raise the windows and make sure everything else is in working order. Rushing things may cause you to overlook a scratch or dent. That can end up costing you hundreds of dollars when you return the car. Inspect it again when you drop it off – When you bring it back, videotape or photograph the vehicle again, especially if no rental agent is present. Ask questions – Don’t be shy. Ask questions regarding the actual rental paperwork. If there’s a fee you don’t understand, ask what it’s for. There are cheaper car rental insurance options out there. Through online booking services – If you rented your car through an online travel service, you can purchase additional coverage directly through their site. Most offer the same rental car insurance for considerably less than what the rental car companies charge. You need to add it at the time of booking. Third party car rental insurance providers – Another lower priced choice is car rental insurance through a third-party provider. Again, you’ll have to plan in advance. These policies are offered by several established insurance companies at up to 1/3 less than what the rental car companies are charging. What happens if I do get into an accident with my rental car? Getting into an accident with a rental car is a little more complicated than with your own car. There’s a third party involved: the car rental company. Here’s how they’re likely to proceed. The rental car company doesn’t really care who’s at fault. When you rent a vehicle, you promise to return it in the exact same condition it was in when you were handed the keys, whether you caused the accident or not. That is clearly spelled out in the paperwork you sign on the day that you pick up the vehicle. The state of their vehicle is their main concern. The rental car company will tap your insurance even if you didn’t cause the accident. The rental car company will want their vehicle back in circulation as soon as possible. They will go through the insurance you used when you booked your reservation to make sure they’re covered, whether you are at fault for the accident or not. As for any deductible, generally, you’ll have to pay that directly to the rental car company. Again, it doesn’t matter if you were at fault for the accident or not. They may charge a “loss of use” fee for each day the rental vehicle is in the shop being repaired. Depending on your insurance coverage, you could potentially be billed for rental charges while the vehicle is being repaired. This is called ‘loss of use”. If it takes a week to get the car fixed and back into the rental car company’s fleet, you might be on the hook for an additional week’s rent. If you have loss of use coverage, but the time the vehicle is in the shop exceeds the limits of your coverage, you’ll be billed for the difference. All that aside, you should consider contesting this controversial fee. Many consumers have successfully challenged it through their insurance companies. What about the other driver and you? If you are at fault – If you have complete personal coverage, your insurance will cover all expenses. However, your insurance rates could go up as well. If you are at fault but don’t have sufficient coverage, you will be liable for any property and personal damages due to the accident. The other party may also come after you for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you are not at fault – If you’re injured in a car accident, you should pursue legal action against the at-fault party to recoup any damages, deductibles, medical bills and lost wages incurred. It’s important to call a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident. A good personal injury attorney will have experience dealing with accidents involving rental cars. You have the facts, now the final decision is yours. Deciding what coverage to accept and turn down is a highly personal one. For some, a $1,000 deductible is not a big deal, for others it absolutely is. Then there’s the question of how much liability you want to expose yourself to. That all depends on what you’re comfortable with. You might be the type of person who wants a stress-free rental and doesn’t mind spending extra for that. Or you may be willing to take a chance to save some money. The bottom line is: Know what your personal insurance and credit card cover before you reach the rental car counter. Hopefully, you’ll have an incident-free rental. But if you are injured in a car accident and were not at fault, you’ll want an experienced car accident attorney by your side. At Wilshire Law Firm we know the complexities that accidents involving a rental car can present. Our attorneys will fight to make sure you obtain a fair and just settlement. We have your best interests at heart and are ready to assist you every step of the way. Contact us today at 1-800-522-7274. For further reading and information, visit: DMV: When to buy rental car insurance Consumer Affairs: Car rental insurance tip sheet Department of Insurance: Things to know about car insurance and rental cars before starting your road trip

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Motorcycle Safety in All Types of Weather

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. While that usually means warmer weather, the month kicked off with an uncharacteristically cool and gloomy day in Southern California. Of course, this being the Golden State warm sunny days are on the horizon, just in time for the weekend. Given this generally great weather, it’s no surprise to learn that California has the highest number of registered motorcycles in the country.[1] One would think that with all of those motorcycles, California motorists would be much more careful when sharing the road with them. That, unfortunately, is not always the case. That lack of awareness coupled with unexpectedly slick roads can lead to an uptick in motorcycle accidents. Here are some safe riding tips for different weather conditions: Riding Your Motorcycle In rain, wind, drizzle and fog: Slow down! Jokes about California drivers and rain aside, some rainy-day accidents are due to road conditions themselves. That’s because Southern California roads don’t receive much rain. When they do, all of that motor oil and other vehicles fluids come to the surface making for some very slick roadways. Roads are slickest when the rain first starts. If you can avoid going out on your motorcycle during the first hour of that rainfall, you should. If you’re out riding and heavy rain starts falling, there’s nothing wrong with taking cover. It’s always a good idea to slow down in the rain, no matter where you are, but it’s especially important in Southern California. But Don’t Go Too Slow Safety first, but common sense is important too. If you’re riding your motorcycle too slowly, impatient motorists can cause an accident attempting to pass you. Avoid Standing Water Because Southern California doesn’t get lots of rain, there’s a greater danger of flash flooding and its aftermath, standing water. Avoid standing water as much as possible and always look for higher ground. You don’t want to experience water anywhere near your engine and there can be deep, hidden potholes under that water as well. Don’t Tense Up in Windy Conditions Wind is unavoidable if you ride a motorcycle. What can be daunting to any rider, but more so to the novice, are heavy crosswinds. These are more common when crossing a bridge or on winding mountain roads. Many riders tense up and tighten their grips, which makes it harder to steer. Instead, stay loose and continually adjust your steering to continue forward in a straight line. But if wind conditions become too dangerous, again, take cover if you can. Riding Your Motorcycle in Warm or Hot Conditions: The beauty of living in California is that you can experience the beaches of Orange County in the morning then be out in Palm Springs in the afternoon. While that can be exhilarating, it’s important to make sure your bike and you make the transition from cool to hot smoothly. Tire Pressure and Baking Hot Asphalt Your tires should be inflated to the proper air pressure specifications. Road temperatures can easily soar into triple digits, even on a warm day. Baking hot asphalt and under-inflated tires can result in a blowout. The risk becomes greater if your motorcycle is heavier because of a passenger and/or any gear. Hot Weather Gear If you’re riding in the desert, don’t wear leather. Mesh textile clothing is the way to go. As tempting as it may be, don’t go sleeveless or wear shorts. Exposed skin can easily burn in the sun and wind. Also, if you get into an accident, you don’t want your bare skin making contact with the pavement. And don’t forget to cover or put sunscreen on the back of your neck! Many riders forget about this area with painful results. Ride with a Buddy A breakdown or accident in the desert can quickly become a dangerous situation. Ideally, don’t ride alone. If that’s unavoidable, make sure you carry extra hydration and some sort of covering. You could end up stranded in an area with no shade. Solo riders should also let those closest to them know their general trip itinerary. May all of your motorcycle riding be filled with beautiful sunny days. But if they’re not, be ready for it and stay safe! Sources: [1] worldatlas.com

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