Law Office of Frederick J. Sette
Personal Injury Attorney
Serving The Petaluma California Region

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Petaluma Attorneys Delve into Premises Liability and Balcony Collapse

Petaluma personal injury attorneys at Sette Law know that negligence on the part of some property owners can inflict severe hardship when an oversight causes a painful and costly injury. Lawyers, unfortunately, also encounter negligence cases in which there is a wrongful death.

Our attorneys want to outline some key elements of premises liability to help readers understand this complicated arena of law which was recently highlighted by a tragic accident in Berkeley where six young people died and seven other sustained injuries after a 4th floor balcony collapsed. Our Petaluma personal injury and wrongful death attorneys anticipate premises liability actions will be lodged given the initial findings by building inspectors. In mid-June, our accident lawyers also learned that criminal negligence may lead to manslaughter charges.

As an illustration of how complex this kind of liability is, our personal injury lawyers point out that Alameda County prosecutors may have many potential targets since building inspectors quickly discovered structural flaws that almost certainly contributed to the tragic accident. Attorneys in Petaluma explain that architectural and building problems could potentially be traced to a number of sources such as building owners, management, contractors and/or subcontractors. In fact, our personal injury lawyers say Alameda County's top prosecutor declined to be specific about the targets of her investigation, such as whether it includes the people and businesses who built, owned, managed or maintained the apartment complex. Our injury and wrongful death lawyers say that responsibility may be shared in the event of legal actions.

The Berkeley accident, attorneys say, is one example of premises liability and, as an extreme, it played out across the national (and international) press. In Petaluma, our personal injury attorneys ordinarily deal with liability cases that never rise to this level of public awareness. But, our accident lawyers are well aware of the pain, suffering and costs that individuals suffer when irresponsible property owners allow conditions that lead to death or injury. Our attorneys add that tragic accidents such as the balcony collapse highlight the subject of premises liability and may serve to prevent future wrongful death and personal injury. Experience lawyers know that high profile news stories can, indeed, impact behavior while the liability cases we regularly work will seldom have such widespread influence. Our Petaluma personal injury and wrongful death attorneys will monitor the developments with the hope that the balcony collapse will serve as a lesson that will prevent future accidents, save lives and prevent injury.

Accident attorneys know that most accident victims know little or nothing about premises liability. Our Petaluma personal injury lawyers understand this is entirely natural. However, when it comes to property owners, our accident attorneys have higher expectations. The repercussions of negligence and liability are often severe and individuals should be educated about their legal responsibilities as property owners in Petaluma.

Personal injury lawyers at Sette law advise property owners to be well acquainted with the concept of ‘duty of care.’ Our accident attorneys know this is the underlying concept that will apply to any claim of premises liability that leads to a personal injury. Attorneys explain this is a legal requirement that creates the expectation that individuals exhibit a standard of reasonable care when creating conditions that could potentially lead to harm. For example, our Petaluma injury attorneys refer to a well-known 2001 decision in Florida in which property owners failed to provide adequate security at an apartment complex. The court awarded the victim of a brutal kidnapping and shooting $15.7 million. In this case, the court showed that owners did not demonstrate a duty of care, allowing a dangerous environment that led to a life-threatening injury. Our attorneys hasten to add that proof of such a breech is not simple to reach but the financial consequences can be ruinous to property owners.

There are many kinds of negligence issues associated with premises liability, according Petaluma wrongful death and property lawyers. Among the most commonly recognized is the ‘slip and fall,’ when, say, a patron in a supermarket steps on spilled water, falls and receives a serious injury. But attorneys say that many other environments present similar dangers to the public and responsibilities for property owners. Petaluma accident lawyers deal with diverse liability cases from backyard trampolines to concert venues where conditions may put patrons at risk of injury. Lawyers know that none of these examples is necessarily ‘simple’ in nature. For example, the user of a trampoline might be solely responsible for an accident that led to injury. Or, lawyers explain, it might be the trampoline maker, the owner or even another jumper on the recreational device. Petaluma personal injury attorneys know that determining the responsible party is key to recovering financial damages for the injury. Lawyers for a plaintiff will not be able to win damages if the incorrect responsible party is named.

Our Petaluma personal injury lawyers further explain that determining who is at fault impacts the type of lawsuit filed over the trampoline injury. Lawyers may file a product liability claim against a manufacturer, a negligence claim against a fellow user of the trampoline, or a premises liability action if the owner is found to be responsible for the injury.

Our attorneys offer this deceptively simple example to illustrate the many decision points and avenues a legal case can travel. And, since premises liability includes countless environments and events, our Petaluma accident lawyers must have, not only broad-based knowledge of existing cases, but also specific tactics to steer a case to the most successful path recovery of financial damages due to costly injury.


Attorneys at Sette Law encourage all property owners to become better educated about the responsibilities they bear. We suggest that homeowners delve deeply into their home insurance policies to know their liability for wrongful death or injury, and lawyers trust that all business owners want to know the full extent of potential liability for accidents.  As attorneys we have daily contact with the nuances of premises liability and still, we encounter new situations that require us to dive into research and develop unique solutions to help our Petaluma personal injury clients. Attorneys at Sette Law support safe environments and informed clients.

Delights and Dangers of Summer in Petaluma

Attorneys at Sette Law fully appreciate how our niche of Northern California beckons to tourists. But along with the increased traffic comes heightened risk of Petaluma automobile accidents. Our injury lawyers want to provide some information that’s intended to help our local families remain safe from a traffic death or injury.

Our attorneys are (sometimes painfully) aware of the sudden and costly shock that often accompanies a serious car accident. Our lawyers also know that the summer season calls an increased number of visitors to our beautiful region, drivers unfamiliar with the winding, rural roads that surround Petaluma. An accident, our attorneys observe, can happen anywhere, including on our peaceful city streets and country byways. And, whether it’s a slow speed crash or high speed on the 101, most people involved never anticipated a car accident.

Lawyers focused personal injury and accident cases know that many car crashes are preventable. A prime example, our injury lawyers say, is drinking and driving in Petaluma. Accident attorneys report that, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), DUI fatalities rose this year over last year and represent 28.9 percent of the state’s traffic deaths. This news is particularly concerning to our Petaluma accident lawyers because California is already the second ranked state (just behind Texas) for alcohol related deaths due to a car accident. Attorneys say that Alcoholalert.com attributes 34 percent of the state’s traffic related deaths to DUI drivers. This high number puts our personal injury attorneys on high alert, particularly since wine tasting attracts so many visitors to the Wine County and Petaluma.

Accident lawyers, however, know that local drivers add to the grim DUI statistics. In June of 2014 a drunk driver from our city killed a young mother and seriously injured her 8-year-old daughter. Our Petaluma injury lawyers say the driver was found guilty and sentenced to a five year prison term. And this June, another Petaluma man was arrested for an alleged DUI, sending the driver he hit to Queen of the Valley hospital with injuries due to the accident. Our attorneys know that drunk driving is a preventable. Accident lawyers say that options are available to keep drunk drivers off the road.

Of course, car crashes also happen because of distracted driving, yet another source of preventable accidents, according to our Petaluma personal injury attorneys. Who has not seen a motorist driving fast and chatting on his or her hand-held cell phone in Petaluma? Lawyers, of course, know this practice is illegal. Nonetheless, it’s all too common. Yet another growing and dangerous distraction is texting. Just a split second of looking at a phone screen can cause a potentially deadly car accident. Injury attorneys are frustrated by the lack of adherence to traffic laws that are simple to follow, yet so widely ignored. We know that, in retrospect, someone who caused a car crash due to distracted driving quickly realizes that no text or phone call is worth a car accident.

Injury lawyers deal with the painful aftermath of car crashes, whether from a preventable cause or sheer accident. Attorneys represent people who seek compensation for losses because of physical injury and attendant financial losses suffered because of a car accident. Our lawyers must establish four conditions to show a court that a driver’s “Negligence” caused our plaintiff’s accident injury. Lawyers explain that the principles of harm, breach, duty and causation are necessary elements in Negligence.

Let’s briefly look at each item that contributes to negligence in a car accident. Our attorneys define “harm” as injury that happened directly because of the accident; lawyers define “breach” as a failure of the potential defendant to act on the legal obligation of a driver; our injury attorneys say that duty includes the mandate that drivers follow traffic regulations and laws, and, finally, our Petaluma accident lawyers add that causation means a direct link between the accident and the injury. For a personal injury attorney to represent a car crash victim in court and fight for compensation for losses incurred due to the accident, all of these conditions must be verified.

Of course, once in a court of law, the defendant’s accident lawyer will work to protect his or her client. That means our plaintiff’s accident attorney must be confident about the details of the incident and often be able to call on expert witnesses to testify. For example, the personal injury attorney for the defense may claim that our plaintiff’s injury was pre-existing and caused by the car accident. Our injury lawyer may call, say, a physician to testify to the court why our client’s injury is due to the ‘negligence’ of the defendant – a ‘harm’ directly inflicted by the accident. Our attorney may be able to demonstrate there was a ‘breach’ because, for example, the defendant’s blood alcohol level was .08 at the scene of the accident. The attorney for our plaintiff might also counter that the defendant didn’t fulfill his ‘duty’ as a motorist because he was, say, speeding at the time of the Petaluma accident. Finally, our lawyer will then demonstrate the clear link of accident to injury and establish ‘causation.’

After an Accident in Petaluma
Personal injury lawyers at Sette Law counsel all car crash victims to follow some simple rules that can protect them after a Petaluma car accident. Attorneys urge all involved to get medical examination and treatment. Not only does this practice safeguard health, it also can protect people should their incident come to trial. Our Petaluma personal injury lawyers know that a defendant’s lawyer can allege an injury was pre-existing or happened after the accident. Our injury lawyers for the plaintiff trying to recover losses, is better supported if a medical report is available.

In addition, Petaluma accident attorneys suggest that accident victims keep verbal communication to a minimum, sharing only basic information such as contact information for insurance companies. Engaging in conversation or argument, according to our injury lawyers, can lead to problems later in court as we seek compensation for losses from the car accident.

Our attorneys in Petaluma are hoping for safe motoring for members of our community through increased awareness of the dangers of the road as summer is upon us.

Car Owners risk Liability in Petaluma Accidents

Personal injury lawyers must specialize in liability law while also having broad general knowledge of law for clients in Petaluma. Our accident attorneys at Sette Law know that liability can apply over a wide spectrum of circumstances but that specific liability principles will apply in most cases. And, that liability can extend beyond the actual driver in the car accident.

Essentially, Petaluma personal injury attorneys are tasked with showing that a defendant bears responsibility for acting – or not acting – in a manner that resulted in harm to the defendant. If this principle is valid, Petaluma injury lawyers can justifiably ask for compensation on behalf of the defendant. Although this legal tenet may sound simple, our personal injury attorneys know that proving liability is often a high bar to reach and requires keen knowledge of the legal process and applicable precedents for our clients in Petaluma.

Personal injury lawyers will seek to establish certain facts within liability and accident law. Fundamental to the argument is a principle known as “The duty to Act.” Accident and injury lawyers seek to show that a plaintiff’s injuries directly resulted from the defendant’s failure to fulfill his or her duty in the Petaluma case. Personal injury attorneys, for example, may demonstrate that a defendant was driving at a very high rate of speed that resulted in a crash causing serious injury to our client in Petaluma. Injury lawyers for the defendant, conversely, will look for evidence the driver was not speeding – or that the plaintiff, in fact, failed to exercise duty of care.

While Petaluma accident attorneys compile evidence of a defendant’s liability, we may also look beyond the individual behind the wheel. For instance, we may discover the defendant was working – driving on behalf of an employer at the time of the accident in Petaluma. An injury lawyer then may choose to pursue ‘vicarious liability’ and include the employer in the lawsuit to recover losses. Often, personal injury lawyers ask a jury to consider shared responsibility for duty of care and to make a determination about the percentage of liability shared by both employer and driver in the Petaluma accident. Our attorneys explain that defendants can’t recover total damages from both parties but that percentages of liability will be determined.

Shared liability, however, is not assured according to our personal injury attorneys. If the driver caused the accident outside of working hours and was driving without permission of the employer, the employer would likely not be held liable for the accident in Petaluma.

Personal injury attorneys say that other individuals may also share liability for drivers who cause accidents in Petaluma. Lawyers explain that parents who allow reckless, inexperienced or unlicensed children to drive their vehicles can be held liable for an accident – just as can vehicle owners who loan cars to friends who subsequently have an accident. Injury attorneys can employ the principle of Negligent Entrustment in such cases.

Petaluma personal injury attorneys advise the car owners to be aware of these potential liability risks when letting others drive their vehicles. There’s a lot to lose!



Legal Representation in Petaluma Wrongful Death

Attorneys at Sette Law recognize that little in life is more devastating than a wrongful death. Our lawyers know the personal pain, shock and suffering of surviving family. Because California has a two-year window to file a lawsuit in wrongful death, attorneys work with families before the pain has healed. Of course, our Petaluma wrongful death lawyers are aware that financial compensation for losses never makes up for the death of a loved one. However, as injury and accident lawyers, it’s our experience that lifting financial burdens from the shoulders of survivors can facilitate moving forward.
A wrongful death involves careless and/or intentional actions, recklessness or negligence. Our Petaluma wrongful death lawyers point to medical malpractice, vehicle accidents and industrial accidents as major sources of legal actions in wrongful death. Our attorneys work to establish that our client is, and will continue, to experience emotional and financial hardship due to the loss of a loved one in a Petaluma wrongful death.

Our attorneys seek reimbursement for costs of funerals and for related medical expenses in the wrongful death. But lawyers also look ahead – to the loss of future wages once expected within the family. Just as important to our Petaluma wrongful death lawyers are long term emotional impacts such as loss of companionship, love and personal support caused by the wrongful death. Attorneys also consider another key factor – the negligence that led to the death. Punitive damages in a wrongful death give lawyers an opportunity to speak to the justified anger survivors often feel. Our Petaluma wrongful death attorneys say that family often seeks to protect others from a similar loss by publicly showing the defendant’s liability.

Our Petaluma accident attorneys point to cases that today illustrate this example. Wrongful death lawyers are representing families whose loved ones died in car crashes related to faulty Takata airbags. By holding car makers and Takata responsible for wrongful deaths, attorneys and survivors hope to save others from experiencing the same pain and loss. This legal drama is still unfolding as the companies defend themselves from legal actions.

Petaluma wrongful death lawyers also handle difficult cases involving medical malpractice – incidents in which the acts of physicians caused or contributed to a wrongful death.  Basic to this category of wrongful death is the attorney’s ability to show that a clear patient-doctor relationship existed. Further, we must show the doctor’s negligence caused the Petaluma wrongful death. Our attorneys explain that medical malpractice is a challenging and complex arena of law.

Petaluma wrongful death attorneys most often represent close family members who suffer financial and emotional harm related to a wrongful death. But, lawyers explain that unrelated individuals who experience loss of care or support may also file suit for a wrongful death. But, lawyers know that no matter who is left behind by a wrongful death, we must work with compassion and with an awareness that sudden death brings unimaginable pain to those left in its wake. Petaluma wrongful death attorneys set out on an emotional journey along with clients in each case we handle.

Nothing Simple about Petaluma Car accidents

Attorneys at Sette Law in know that proving liability in a car accident is no easy task. Car accident law is more complicated than it might first appear – even though people injured in an accident may be certain of the other driver’s negligence, according to our Petaluma personal injury attorneys. States generally govern accident law which is fairly consistent across the nation, including in Petaluma. Car accident attorneys are required to present evidence relevant to a set of four principles we’ll outline here.

The first is Cause, meaning your Petaluma personal injury lawyer must prove to the court that the car accident was directly responsible for injuries received in Petaluma. An Accident attorney representing the defendant may allege the injury is unrelated to the car crash. The plaintiff’s personal injury attorney can present medical evidence and expert testimony to support the victim’s case. Conversely, the Petaluma injury lawyer for the defendant could do the same. Consequently, it makes good sense for accident victims to engage a Petaluma car accident lawyer, rather than face the opposition’s lawyer in a court of law.

Your Petaluma injury lawyer will also seek to prove a Breach has been committed by the defendant. This means the other driver violated a law or acted irresponsibly - for example a plaintiff’s accident attorney may be able to prove the defendant was texting or talking on a cell phone at the time of the Petaluma car accident. Your attorney will carefully examine police reports and any evidence from you or witnesses to the accident in Petaluma. A personal injury lawyer may find the defendant had been driving under the influence or speeding – any number of negligent behaviors that may have contributed to your car accident.
Your attorney also has the job of proving that harm was done to you in the car accident. The lawyer for the defendant may allege you were not injured or an injury you have is unrelated to the car accident. Your attorney will establish facts for the court to prove that harm was done to you directly because of the Petaluma car accident.

Your lawyer essentially needs to highlight facts that establish the defendant was not in accordance with the last principle of Duty. This principle is fundamental to car accident law and dictates that it’s the responsibility of all motorists to drive safely and heed traffic laws. Your Petaluma injury attorney will highlight behavior such as speeding, distracted driving, intoxication and other behaviors that indicate the defendant violated his or her Duty, leading to the Petaluma car accident. Lawyers will access evidence, witness testimony and law enforcement data to demonstrate the defendant’s lack of performance of Duty.

Our Petaluma accident attorneys point out that victims can be a big help in supporting their case in court. Capturing evidence with photos or video at the scene of the car accident helps lawyers build your case. Cell phones make it easy to do this! And, our Petaluma personal injury attorneys urge people to keep their wits about them after a car accident. Our lawyers say that remaining calm and quiet is the best approach in the aftermath of a crash. Words said in anger or apologies made can come back to haunt victims after a car accident, leaving attorneys with a problem later in court.

Riders Lose Most in Petaluma Motorcycle Accidents

Attorneys at Sette Law understand the attraction of riding motorcycles – our temperate climate combined with natural beauty and ease of commuting in traffic! However, as Petaluma motorcycle accidents lawyers, we are very aware of the inherent dangers of riding bikes for fun and for transportation in Petaluma.

Our personal injury attorneys collect data compiled by state and national entities that found a 175% increase in fatalities between 1998 and 2008. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out that motorcycle riders have a 26% increased chance of death per miles traveled than those riding in cars. Petaluma motorcycle accident lawyers are also aware that there is a perception that the motorcyclist is usually at fault in motorcycle accidents. As with many assumptions, our Petaluma injury attorneys know this perception is unfair and often erroneous. But, based on statistics, it’s clear that motorcyclists must exercise extreme caution when riding on the streets and freeways of Petaluma.

Our motorcycle accident lawyers know that even minor lapses of attention put riders in danger. There is small margin for error when the rider is so vulnerable. And, according to our motorcycle accident attorneys, the OTS (California Office of Traffic safety) has pinpointed the riskiest behavior of riders. Speeding tops the list of causes in accidents along with a motorcyclist making improper turns or driving under the influence. Naturally, the same behaviors lead to car accidents as well in Petaluma. But, motorcycle accident lawyers remind riders that they are at far greater risk of death than are occupants of cars. The NHTSA has numbers to back up this statement for riders in Petaluma. Motorcycle accidents in 2006 resulted in 72.34% deaths out of 100,000 accidents nationwide. Compare that to 13.10% fatalities in car crashes over the same period.  In 2012, the NHTSA reported that motorcycle riders were 26 times more apt to die in a crash than were the occupants of a car, per vehicle miles traveled.

Education is Key to Safety in Petaluma

Our motorcycle accident lawyers find statistics like the aforementioned, shocking. However, we know that simple changes to riding habits can save lives in Petaluma. Motorcycle accidents can be avoided through education and enhanced safety practices. The California Highway Patrol sponsors a very effective program that teaches riding skills to lower the danger of Petaluma motorcycle accidents. Attorneys at Sette Law explain that the California Motorcyclist Safety Program also results in a certificate that waives the requirement for riders to pass a driving exam at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Petaluma.

Personal injury attorneys at Sette feel it’s particularly important for older motorcyclists to practice consistent safety habits. The NHTSA reports that 56% of fatalities in the U.S. were suffered by riders over the age of 40. The stats likely apply to as well to riders in Petaluma. Motorcycle accident lawyers point out that this age group also experienced more severe injuries. Brown University searched for the factors behind older riders facing higher threat of injury and death nationwide and in Petaluma motorcycle accidents. Our lawyers believe the Brown findings should be taken seriously by motorcyclists over the age of forty who favor large motorcycles (think Harleys). Big machines like these are harder to control and prone to roll-over in a motorcycle accident.

But personal injury lawyers say that young riders have their own set of challenges. Inexperienced riders often favor the light, fast and powerful motorcycles in Petaluma. Motorcycle accidents, attorneys say, are more severe at high speeds that can be quickly reached on sports-model bikes. The data supports this statement and applies to Petaluma motorcycle accidents. Our lawyers say that risk of a crash is four times greater on a sports bike than it is on conventional motorcycles in Petaluma.

Motorcycle Accident Lawyers support Safety Measures in Petaluma

Motorcycle riders can enhance their safety by adhering to proven safe-riding practices. Our Petaluma injury attorneys believe these safety tips are highly effective and easy for riders to adopt in Petaluma.

Motorcycle accident lawyers say first, always be aware that one of the most common motorcycle accidents is caused by cars making unplanned turns in front of motorcycle riders in Petaluma. Motorcycle accident lawyers say this reality should be ever-present in the minds of motorcyclists. The same is true of cars changing lanes on roadways in Petaluma. Injury attorneys explain that most automobile drivers are looking at other cars, not anticipating the smaller bikes as part of the traffic flow. A survival skill for motorcyclists is awareness – awareness of blind spots for motorists. According to Petaluma motorcycle accident lawyers, riders should get out of blind spots as soon as feasible. When a rider can see the eyes of a motorist in the car’s mirror, the motorist can also see the rider.

As elsewhere across the U.S., wearing a quality motorcycle helmet can protect the rider from brain injury in a motorcycle accident. Our lawyers know that a rider without a helmet has a 40% greater risk of dying from a brain injury in a Petaluma motorcycle accident. Our lawyers, of course, are aware that California law requires helmets – but the quality of the protective helmet can vary. Nationwide, it’s estimated that riders wearing proper helmets have 37% less chance of dying in a motorcycle accident in Petaluma. And, the temptation to ride sans helmet outside of the Golden State should be resisted – helmets save lives whether in Reno, Nevada or Petaluma.

Motorcycle accident lawyers support safety through education and good riding practices. But when Petaluma motorcycle accidents happen, lawyers at Sette Law help injured riders get compensation for injuries they’ve suffered due to no fault of their own. Consequently, it’s important to establish the details of any Petaluma motorcycle accident. Our attorneys tap police reports, witnesses and recall of the individual involved in a motorcycle accident. Our lawyers determine liability and then support the victim through a legal process that is often complex and requires legal expertise.

Petaluma Injury Attorneys Advocate for Duty of Care

An accident can sideline life for any individual in Petaluma. Personal injury lawyers can help people recover financially from an accident due to negligence. At Settle Law in Petaluma our injury attorneys are specialists in this niche of law that calls for us to follow relevant cases across the nation to help our clients in Petaluma.

Personal injury lawyers must be prepared to handle a wide range of cases with one important aspect in common: clients must have suffered an injury that was caused by negligence. As we practice this area of litigation, our Petaluma injury lawyers expect each case to be unique yet fall within the legal framework of tort law.

Our clients come to us having suffered financial losses due to the neglect of others – an individual, a company or institution – that’s caused harm to our client in Petaluma. Personal injury lawyers consider many aspects of harm, from financial to medical and emotional. There is public responsibility that requires all parties to adhere to Duty of Care – a legal principle in tort law that calls for attention to safety for all people in Petaluma. Injury attorneys explain the Duty of Care traces its history back to the early 20th century Industrial Revolution when end-users were no longer in personal touch with the makers of products.

According to our Petaluma personal injury lawyers, the principle evolved and, since then, has been tested in courts internationally, and in Petaluma. Injury attorneys study case precedent and monitor the outcome of personal injury lawsuits to best represent clients in Petaluma. Our injury lawyers are prepared for the broad spectrum of cases – from dog bites to injuries related to the recent recall of millions of cars for defects impacting drivers in Petaluma. Personal injury lawyers at Sette Law work to guide clients through the complicated process of winning fair restitution.

Petaluma Injury Lawyers Monitor GM Response to Recalls

Petaluma car accident lawyers watch with great concern as the number of deaths due to auto defects in GM cars continues to increase. As of Sept. 24, the number of attributed deaths reached 21, up from the initial count of 13. Sette’s Petaluma accident attorneys are also aware of 467 injury claims made against GM, including those for brain injuries, amputations, burns, loss of sight and spinal cord injuries. In Petaluma, our car accident lawyers anticipate these numbers will rise as more injured parties step forward.

More Recalls impacting drivers in Petaluma 
Personal injury attorneys express concern about the recent allegation that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may have been less than vigilant in calling attention to certain GM defects. Our Petaluma car accident lawyers, like drivers throughout America, rely on the NHTSA for accurate assessments of automobile models. A recent Congressional report says the watchdog agency knew about a problem with ignition switches in some GM models in 2007 but did not issue a public alert. Our Petaluma personal injury attorneys say an agency official did write a report to its Office of Defects Investigation but the ODI declined to pursue the matter. It was only when GM announced the defect late in 2013 that NHTSA publically affirmed the defect, alerting car owners in the nation and in Petaluma. Car accident attorneys at Sette Law believe that earlier notification by NTSHA officials could have prevented accidents and saved lives.

Yet another red flag for Petaluma personal injury attorneys is NHTSA’s 5-Star rating of the Chevy Cruze shortly before the model was recalled by GM because of faulty airbags manufactured by the Takata Corp. According to Petaluma car accident lawyers, airbags deployed with such force, they shot metal shrapnel into the car – in at least one case, causing the driver to become blind in one eye. Furthermore, the airbags burst and failed to protect vehicle occupants. Takata is one of the world’s largest makers of automobile airbags and our Petaluma injury lawyers advise Chevy Cruze owners to immediately take their cars to a GM dealer for repair.

With at least 39 million GM models recalled, our Petaluma car accident lawyers believe the NHTSA must step up and perform its public service. The agency has enjoyed the trust of the car buying public for 44 years and it’s often the first place families look for information about purchasing a car in Petaluma. But car accident lawyers and the public must now demand increased accountability, given these recent events. Our personal injury attorneys note that, in its defense, NHTSA officials said GM embarked on a campaign to minimize problems – going so far as ordering the word “defect” to be stricken from some reports to the NHTSA. Clearly, these allegations must be cleared up in the interest of safety and trust for drivers in Petaluma.

Car Accident Lawyers watch Settlement Decision
GM has created a settlement program estimated at $600 million or more. Petaluma injury attorneys at Sette Law say this compensation program is meant to address injuries and fatalities related to the recall of models having defective switches that can shut down a vehicle’s engine, preventing power steering from working and airbags from deploying. But, personal injury lawyers at Sette Law note that GM mounts strong defense against claims in cases across the U.S. and in Petaluma.

Car accident lawyers are following a 2010 case in which a young woman was killed in a Chevy Cobalt. The family settled with the company prior to the model’s defective airbag being disclosed. Just months later the still-grieving parents learned of the recall and asked a judge to set aside the court’s settlement. They felt it was important to make GM publicly responsible for the death of their daughter. The judge agreed and the family will be able to sue GM in court – affecting future cases, including those in Petaluma.

Car accident lawyers also point to a case in a 2006 collision that claimed two lives. Again, the crash was related to an airbag defect. Lawyers for GM accepted liability for the driver of the vehicle but said GM was not responsible for the death of the passenger in the back seat – where there was no airbag. Our Petaluma personal injury attorneys find this approach is grossly unfair the family of these and other victims – and falls far short of inspiring public trust in the car maker’s motives.