Are Our Trains Safe?
Driving a car in Los Angeles is time-consuming, stressful and, at times, dangerous. That’s why many people opt to take the train. For many commuters, the train is the only way they can travel to their workplace reliably. But, is travelling by train safe? Though train fatalities are not as common as they once were, they can still happen at any time. Take, for example, the Amtrak derailment in Washington State or the pedestrian death that occurred in January. These are only a few incidents that come to mind, but there have been thousands of train accidents reported in the United States year after year. In fact, The Federal Railroad Administration documented over 10,000 train accidents in 2016 alone. As you can see, train accidents are not something of the past, but are occurring every day, taking the lives of hundreds and injuring thousands. In a car, instinct will make you slam on the breaks, swerve out of the way of oncoming traffic, stop for pedestrians, etc. When you’re a passenger on a train, you have zero control over what happens. The only thing you can do is be prepared in case of an accident. When boarding a train, keep the following tips from Vocativ in mind to help you survive a train accident: Do not sit in the front car. The safest cars to ride in tend to be one or two from the back. Sit facing backwards so you’re not flung out of your seat in case the train suddenly stops. If there is a café, do not linger in it too long. Avoid sitting near windows. Follow the captain’s and crew’s orders. Escape using a window or emergency exit. Taking precaution is never a wasted effort. You should use the above tips whenever you’re traveling by train to hopefully mitigate any injuries you may suffer from in the event of a train accident. Unlike train passengers, pedestrians and drivers do have full control over what actions they can take when they’re around trains. Still, according to Operation Lifesaver, a person or vehicle is struck by a train, every three hours! Operation Lifesaver recommends the following safety measures when driving or walking near train tracks: Only cross train tracks at designated public crossings that include a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate. Never walk around or under a gate when flashing. Don’t expect a train to stop in time before hitting you. They can take up to a mile or more for it to come to a full stop. Don’t walk on or near the train tracks! Trains have an overhang of at least three feet in both directions. Wait a minute before crossing train tracks after a train passes. It’s possible that a second train is following close behind them. Do not attempt to hop onto a moving train. Never rely on a train schedule. Next time you’re thinking about walking or driving on train tracks, remember that you could be one of the eight pedestrians and drivers that are struck every day! Our train accident attorneys understand that for many people, traveling by train is absolutely necessary. We implore that you take precaution when you do! If you or someone you know has been injured in a train accident, contact a Wilshire Law Firm attorney to discuss your case for free.
Which Express Lanes Can a Motorcyclist Use for Free?
As a motorcyclist, you want to reach your destination quickly and safely. Express Lanes help with this because they typically have less traffic on them, but the can be costly to use. Here’s some good news: motorcyclists may not have to pay the toll fees! Motorcyclists, carpools, and vanpools are afforded discounted or, oftentimes, free rates. This is a method that one cannot always rely on, though. While some Express Lanes are free, others are not. Before your next trip, take a moment to learn more about how you can use Express Lanes for free. How do you use an Express Lane? First things first, make sure to have a FasTrak Flex transponder mounted on your motorcycle where an overhead antenna can read it. Have no room to do so? No problem! An antenna can read your transponder through your pocket. Just make sure it is in a secure place. Please note that it is illegal to hold up a transponder while driving through a toll point. Check the toll rates on the overhead signs, especially for lanes that are not free to use for motorcyclists. You must decide whether or not you want to use the lane before the dashed line disappears and becomes a double line. To cross afterwards can result in a ticket. Each lane has a variety of entry points. Choose one to enter and ride in that lane until you need to exit. It’s as simple as that! Which Express Lanes are free for motorcyclists? Life would be much simpler if all of California’s Express Lanes were regulated in the same way. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While some lanes are free to use, others may require that you pay the toll. Here’s a breakdown of what lanes you can use for free and which ones you need to pay for: Interstate 10 and Interstate 110 Metro Express Lanes, Los Angeles CountyMotorcyclists can use Express Lanes on I-110 and I-10 free of charge and without transponders or a FasTrak account if they have a standard issued license plate. Personalized motorcycle plates may be registered as a vehicle unlawfully using the express lane. This can result in you getting ticketed! State Route 237 Express Lanes, Santa Clara ValleySR-237 is free during peak commute periods for motorcycles as long as they have the proper decals. Be aware that tolls may be required for carpool vehicles (which include motorcyclists) at later times. If Express Lane says “HOV only,” any carpool vehicles and motorcyclists may use it for free. Express Lanes are in operation Westbound (towards Sunnyvale), from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Express Lanes are in operation Eastbound (toward Milpitas) from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Outside of these posted hours, these lanes are free to use. State Route 125 South Bay Expressway, San Diego CountyUnfortunately, there is no free pass on State Route 125! This route requires motorcycles to pay the same toll rates as 2-axle vehicles. Interstate 15 Express Lanes, San Diego CountyIt’s toll-free for motorcyclists. You don’t need a FasTrak transponder. 91 Freeway Express Lanes, Orange CountyYou must apply for a [Special Access Account](https://www.91expresslanes.com/specapp.pdf) for discounted toll rates as a motorcyclist traveling on the 91 Freeway Express Lane. Interstate 580 Express Lanes, Alameda CountyMotorcyclists are allowed to drive on I-580 Express Lanes for free but are required to have their FasTrak transponder set to 2 or 3 plus people. Interstate 680 Sunol Southbound Express Lane, Alameda CountyMotorcycles can travel for free without a FasTrak transponder. If a motorcyclist has a transponder, they can set it to 2 or 3 plus people to avoid paying the toll. Interstate 680 Express Lanes, Contra CostaMotorcyclists are allowed to drive on I-680 Express Lanes for free but are required to set their FasTrak transponder to 2 or 3 plus people. Bay Area Bridges, San Francisco CountyMotorcyclists are allowed to ride in Bay Area Express Lanes toll-free, but are still required to own a FasTrak Flex transponder. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco CountyMotorcyclists must pay the toll but they may also use Carpool Toll Lane #2 on the right side of the Toll Plaza during HOV dedicated times which are: 5 am to 9 am (weekdays) 4pm to 6pm (weekdays) New Year’s Day Presidents’ Day Memorial Day Independence Day Labor Day Thanksgiving Day Christmas Day Always have your transponder mounted somewhere where it can be clearly read. Express Lanes are a great option when you need to get to where you’re going quickly and without having to resort to lane splitting techniques. When in doubt as to which lanes you can use for free, keep a FasTrak transponder on your windshield or somewhere where it can be read to ensure that you won’t receive a ticket. It’s better to pay a few dollars than to receive $300 or $400 ticket. While Express Lanes allow for more breathing room as you ride your motorcycle, accidents can still occur. If you have been hit by another driver while riding your motorcycle, call a Wilshire Law Firm motorcycle accident lawyer for a free case consultation at 1-800-522-7274.
Recreational Marijuana Driving Laws You Need to Be Aware of
January 1st marks not only a new year, but the first day in which legal marijuana will be available in California. You and your friend decide to kick off 2018 by purchasing some recreational marijuana. You both drive down to the dispensary and then drive back to your friend’s place to use it. After smoking and getting high, you remember that you were supposed to run an errand. You say bye to your friend and head out, still high from the weed. You sit in your car, ready to turn the key when a thought occurs to you: Is it legal for me to drive? Can you drive after using marijuana? It is common knowledge that you cannot drink and drive. The established law states that “it is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent of more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle” (California Vehicle Code Section 23152). As a further safety measure, the law makes is clear that it is unlawful for a person to drive under the influence of any drug. But, what about marijuana? Marijuana is treated in the same manner as alcohol. When you smoke, vape, and/or consume marijuana, you are considered to be “under the influence.” Currently, there is no reliable method to indicate when a person is “too stoned” to drive. Consider, though, that experiencing any effects from marijuana impairs your ability to drive, a fact that many people are unware of. Take, for example, Colorado. According to The Denver Post, 55 percent of marijuana users in Colorado believe it is safe to drive while under the influence of marijuana. This, in fact, is wrong. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana impacts all of the following when driving: Judgment Motor coordination Reaction time The consequences of driving while high are severe. The Washington Times reports that “roughly 10 percent of Washington state drivers involved in fatal car crashes between 2010 and 2014 tested positive for recent marijuana use, with the percentage of drivers who had used pot within hours of a crash doubling between 2013 and 2014.” Weed became available to Washington citizens in 2013, suggesting a strong correlation between the uptake in fatal car accidents and weed use. You would never drink and drive. So why would driving high be acceptable? If you have consumed weed but there’s somewhere you need to be, call someone to pick you up or take a taxi. It’s important to note that beginning January 1, 2018, California Vehicle Code Section 23220 will make it unlawful for drivers and passengers to smoke or ingest marijuana while a car is in motion. How long do the effects of marijuana last? Because there is no strict indicator as to how much weed is too much, it’s primarily your responsibility to avoid driving while high. It’s important to understand that the effects of marijuana differ depending on what form you take it in and your body’s metabolism. According to Herb.com, smoking marijuana can have lasting effects between an hour to three hours. Though oral cannabis takes longer for its effects to be felt (anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours), they can last four to eight hours! Your judgement suffers when high. This is a fact. So, if you have consumed marijuana, be prepared to stay where you are for a few hours until the effects have worn off. How can you spot someone who is driving under the influence? Though you may choose to be a responsible driver, other motorists may not. All too often, people who are high or drunk decide to get behind the wheel, putting both themselves and everyone else on the road in danger. These signs are strong indicators that a motorist near you is under the influence: Wide turns Weaving between lanes Straddling the lines Swerving Unable to maintain proper speed Difficulties stopping Driving the wrong way Inability to respond quickly to traffic signals Tailgating Making illegal turns Driving in improper lanes Drooping head When you come across a driver showing the above signs, take the necessary precautions, such as buckling up. Though it may be tempting to pass a DUI driver, it is actually best to keep a safe distance. If you notice consistent signs of impaired driving, call local law enforcement. If you are struck by a driver who is under the influence, contact the police. Your next call should be to the car accident lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm at 1-800-522-7274 so you can begin seeking compensation for your injuries. Driving high is the equivalent of driving drunk. If you decide to partake and consume marijuana, make plans like you would as if you were going out to drink. It is always best to be safe than sorry.
Beware of Ambulance Chasers
After experiencing a traffic accident, many Southern California law firms will take advantage of your vulnerable state to send people called ambulance chasers, also known as “runners,” “solicitors,” and “cappers,” in the hopes of obtaining your case. An ambulance chaser’s number one goal is to secure you as a client for the law firm they represent through manipulation and/or trickery. In return, they receive compensation for every new client they bring to their employers. Employing ambulance chasing methods is not only unethical, but illegal! Why is ambulance chasing illegal? Ambulance chasing is illegal in 21 states as well as in Washington D.C., ensuring that you receive the best representation for your case. Though these methods are not illegal in every state, it does violate the American Bar Association’s Code of Professional Ethics, Canon 28, which does hold licensed attorneys accountable for soliciting clients. It may come as a surprise, but California only recently enacted a law to prevent ambulance chasing methods. In 2011, the Business and Professions Code Section 6152 was passed, making it illegal for “any person, in an individual capacity or in a capacity as a public or private employee, or for any firm, corporation, partnership or association to act as a runner or capper for any attorneys or to solicit any business for any attorneys.” A lawyer caught using runners or cappers can be fined up to $15,000 or spend one year in county jail. Oftentimes, victims of ambulance chasing schemes find that the lawyers they were recommended are not best suited to work on their case. As part of California’s crack down on ambulance chasing methods, the California Business and Professions Code 6154 was established, which allows “any contract for professional services secured by an attorney at law or law firm in this state through the services of a runner or capper is void.” A voided contract means your fees are recoverable. It’s important to note that it is not illegal for someone to recommend you a lawyer as long as there is no compensation for them doing so. As you can see, California takes ambulance chasing seriously to protect you from soliciting lawyers who may not be best for your case. How does a runner or capper find victims? How is it that a runner or capper knows when an accident has occurred within minutes of it being reported? They tend to use two methods to track down potential clients. Many runners and cappers use police and emergency electronic scanners to hear when and where an accident has happened in Southern California. Suddenly, an ambulance chaser is there at the scene to “help” you by referring you to their lawyer. The second method involves people known as “insiders.” For a few hundred dollars, an “insider” will give your information to a runner who will then use it to track you down. Typically, “insiders” who are on an ambulance chaser’s pay roll include: Police department employees Hospital staff Tow truck drivers Once they find you, they employ a variety of schemes in an attempt to convince you to bring your case to their lawyers. What are schemes that you should be aware of? Ambulance chasers use manipulative means that are meant to convince you that their lawyers are best suited to handle your case. They have been known to do all of the following: Pretending to be a witness: Showing up minutes after a traffic collision, an ambulance chaser may pretend to be a witness to your accident and offer advice as to what lawyer you should use. Runners will promise large financial recoveries: After enticing you to use their lawyer’s services, they will have you sign agreements and make commitments to use their employer’s services. Calling a tow truck: Pretending to help, runners will call a tow truck for potential clients. This allows their law firm to secure additional information about your accident. Sending letters: The action of sending letters to a client is not, in itself, illegal, but how they obtain your information to send you letters is. Ambulance chasers may appear friendly and helpful, but they are attempting to solicit your case on behalf of a firm that may not represent your best interest. Don’t be fooled by their grandiose promises or cave into their solicitous ways through phone calls and junk mail. If an ambulance chaser tries to persuade you to use their firm, report their employer to The State Bar of California.
Los Angeles Unified School District in the Process of Being Sued
Scrolling through your Facebook and Twitter account, you see sexual harassment and abuse claims against famous celebrities such as Harvey Weinstein, Russell Simmons, and Senator Al Franken. The list goes on and on. It’s easy to get caught up in celebrity news, but are you aware of sexual abuse happening in your own neighborhood? Sexual abuse occurring in your own neighborhoods. Wilshire Law Firm has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on behalf of two female minors who were sexually abused at Harry Bridges Span School. Both victims described incidents where a male nurse took them into a small room and touched them inappropriately. The plaintiff claims that members of the LAUSD knew about the abuse and didn’t take appropriate measures against the nurse, protecting the abuser. In California, there were 42,364 cases of child sexual abuse in 2015. Los Angeles County, where Harry Bridges Span School resides, accounted for 187 of these cases. These numbers only include reported cases. Around 46% to 69% of children will not report abuse. Why don’t children report sexual abuse? Children victimized by sexual abuse often don’t report because the abuser will convince them otherwise. Here are some reasons why a child may not speak up about abuse: The abuser convinces them that they won’t be believed or it’s their fault The abuser may bribe the child to stay quite with gifts The abuser may threaten the child Children may stay silent to protect the non-abusive parent Abusers are oftentimes a person the child knows, so children keep quite or lie to protect them Children view adults, especially parents, as authority figures. This allows abusers to manipulate a child into silence. How can you protect children from their abusers? It’s up to you and other adults to recognize signs of abuse. The Rape, Abuse & Incest Nation Network (RAINN) organizes signs into three categories, which are: Behavioral Signs Avoiding physical contact Regressive behaviors (thumb sucking) Nightmares Changing hygiene routines Age-inappropriate sexual behaviors Sleep disturbances Physical Signs Bruising/swelling near genital area Blood clothes or bedding Broken bones Verbal Signs Using phrases “too adult” for their age Less talkative or unexplained silences If you notice a child exhibiting these signs, speak to them about it and report sexual abuse to the police, right away. With so many children suffering silently at the hands of their abusers, Wilshire Law Firm’s attorneys Bobby Saadian and Jon Teller aim to give victims a voice. Attorney Saadian states, “We are seeking justice on behalf of the victims and their families. LAUSD must accept responsibility for what happened to these victims. This could have happened to any of our children and it must be stopped, now.” Sexual abusers as well as institutions allowing abuse need to be held accountable, and that’s exactly what Wilshire Law Firm plans to do.
Wilshire Law Firm and Badge of Heart Join Forces to Give Back to our Community
The spirit of Thanksgiving brings people together in the most unexpected and beautiful ways. Earlier this year, Wilshire Law Firm’s Founding President and Managing Attorney, Bobby Saadian, was honored to meet a humble team of LAPD officers, who created a movement to help good families in our community. Ken Lew and Jessica Gutierrez-Gonzalez have been at the forefront of Badge of Heart’s major efforts, and this year is no exception. In a recent conversation with Ken Lew, Badge of Heart’s Founder and CEO, he reminded us that the organization’s main goal is to help families in need, and to share the goodwill of police officers, who truly care about helping the community, beyond keeping us safe through diligent law enforcement. On Saturday, November 18th, the LAPD Pacific Division will share holiday baskets with around 450 families, from 10 AM to 12 PM, at the Venice Japanese Community Center. The invitation-only event will see many volunteers materialize the combined effort of those who said yes to the Badge of Heart pledge to help families in our community. Moreover, on Sunday, November 19th, the LAPD Harbor Division will share holiday baskets with 100 families, in San Pedro, from 10 AM to 12 PM. “Wilshire Law Firm’s partnership with Badge of Heart is here to stay. Being of service is what defines our firm. We help good people, not just with outstanding legal support, representing accident victims against big business and insurance companies; but also with critical resources, through charitable organizations. It’s our moral duty to say yes to gestures of goodwill, and to be there for those, who express their support for families in need,” said Bobby Saadian. Throughout Wishire Law Firm’s decade-long history, helping good people across California, the firm has also been present for the community. It’s no surprise that Bobby Saadian was ready to extend his helping hand to Badge of Heart, on behalf of the 70 professionals, who make the firm an inspirational success. Saadian is a proud board member of the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charities. The LATLC provides financial support and volunteer service to over 60 organizations throughout our community. Wilshire Law Firm is also known for providing legal scholarship awards to deserving students. The firm has received numerous awards and is among the top 1% of lawyers, nationwide; as well, prestigious accolades, on behalf of consumers, and recognitions for a consistent involvement in the community. To learn more about Badge of Heart, visit them at https://badgeofheart.org/ or click here to donate to Badge of Hearts.