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

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Sound Safety Practices for Petaluma

Accident attorneys regularly represent people who have experienced severe accidents due to the negligence of others. Our Petaluma personal injury law attorneys are particularly concerned that car crash injuries appear to be on the rise. Safety officials, car accident attorneys report, say that a decline in car crash injuries after 2008 was likely due to the Recession. With the improved economy around the Bay Area and Petaluma, personal injury attorneys note that accident rates are up. Unfortunately, our accident attorneys say that drivers are repeating their bad habits on the roadways of Petaluma.

Our personal injury attorneys think the upcoming holiday season is a good time remind drivers of motoring practices that can save lives in Petaluma. Accident attorneys consult State Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) data for 2012 information about accidents in Petaluma. Our personal injury law attorneys report there were 242 fatal or injury car accidents. Our lawyers say the biggest cause was drunk drivers. Also at risk of death were bicyclists in Petaluma. Personal injury attorneys looked at the ‘type of arrests’ listed by OTS in Petaluma. Car accident attorneys say that 261 DUI arrests were logged. This puts our community in a dubious place. Petaluma, personal injury law attorneys report, ranks 88th out of 102 similar cities for DUI arrests. Clearly, personal injury attorneys see a need to reinforce the dangers of driving and drinking in Petaluma. Car accident lawyers believe that drinking and driving is one of the most preventable accidents in Petaluma. 

Personal injury law attorneys at Sette Law say that many people are unaware that a free mobile app is available to support designated drivers in California and Petaluma. Car accident attorneys say the app was developed by OTS and features special offers to designated drivers. Restaurants and bars offer ‘deals’ on nonalcoholic drinks, according to our Petaluma car crash lawyers plus many other benefits; and the app has links to Uber, Lyft and Curb for drivers in Petaluma. Personal injury law attorneys say the app is called DDVIP (Designated Driver VIP), available for iOS and Android devices.

At Sette law, our personal injury law attorneys are also paying close attention to another escalating driving-under-the-influence problem - prescription drugs and marijuana use. And, our car accident attorneys worry that with the moves for legalization of marijuana, DUI dangers may increase in Petaluma. 

Personal injury attorneys point to distracted driving as another burgeoning threat to safety in Petaluma. Our accident attorneys believe that the state’s ban on texting and hand-held calls needs greater attention. A significant percentage of drivers admit they’ve been distracted due to smart phone use, despite tickets and fines. Personal injury law attorneys know that technology continues to offer more smart phone conveniences that will tempt drivers in Petaluma. Car accidents, attorneys say, will only increase so long as drivers continue to defy the law and common sense.

Our personal injury law attorneys say that some automobile technology innovations might contribute to distracted driving by making drivers less attentive in Petaluma. Our accident attorneys point to the self-braking systems already in some cars. Will drivers assume the technology makes driver-attention less necessary on roadways of Petaluma? Personal injury law attorneys know that such rapid innovation defies the ability of state traffic laws to keep pace. According to our Petaluma accident attorneys the real solution is for drivers to take their responsibilities seriously.

A Call for Attention to Accident Increase
Other Petaluma accidents, lawyers report, are also on the rise. Motorcycle accidents are up, as are bicycle and pedestrian accidents. This increase, say personal injury law attorneys, comes after a significant drop in car crash injuries from 2006 to 2009. Safety officials attribute that 36 percent decline, report car accident attorneys, to the mandatory use of seat belts, adoption of air bags and other measures in Petaluma.

Therefore, personal injury law attorneys believe the increase in accidents since 2010 deserves to be examined. As we previously mentioned, our Petaluma car accident attorneys are particularly concerned about the increase in DUI car crash injuries and deaths. With the growing threat of driving with a marijuana high and increased use of prescription drugs, our Petaluma personal injury lawyers worry this trend may continue, potentially becoming a crisis for California and Petaluma. Car accident attorneys at Sette Law urge policy makers to work with law enforcement to better enforce existing laws. In addition, our personal injury law attorneys wonder if new laws are needed to address the potential legalization of marijuana. Clearly, the increase in DUI accidents indicates a troubling trend, according to our car accident attorneys in Petaluma.

Our personal injury attorneys suggest the same is true of laws that govern distracted driving. As new technologies replace driver controls in Petaluma, car accident attorneys believe motorists may become even more distracted. Until the full implementation of driverless cars, our personal injury lawyers say that motorists need to have their full attention on the task of driving in Petaluma. Accident attorneys say driverless vehicles remain in the future, but other innovations are already available in Petaluma. Accident car attorneys say self-parking and automatic braking are just the beginning. Will drivers assume they can turn their attention to other tasks, our car accident attorneys wonder. When technology assumes what was once driver responsibility, will distracted driving become more prevalent in Petaluma? Personal injury law attorneys suspect there will be a period of adjustment before traffic safety policy catches up.

At Sette law in Petaluma, our personal injury attorneys know that, ultimately, drivers must take individual responsibility for safety on our roads. Defensive driving, say car accident lawyers, is always a good tactic on the streets and freeways of Petaluma. Our personal injury law attorneys work with many people who have been car accident victims. Attorneys help them get compensation when they’ve been injured due to the negligence of another driver in Petaluma.  Our car accident attorneys know, however, that our clients would much rather the accident never happened. And, in many cases, our personal injury attorneys note, the Petaluma car crash injuries would not have happened, had one or both drivers been completely focused on the job of driving safely.

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.

Safeguard Pedestrian Safety in Petaluma

Personal injury attorneys at Sette Law appreciate nature’s call to enjoy the charming streets and byways of Petaluma. Our accident lawyers, however, are also aware of the grave and sometimes deadly results of a Petaluma pedestrian accident. Our attorneys deal directly with injured people and, sadly, with family members who have lost a loved one in a tragic pedestrian accident. Lawyers, like others close to profound personal loss, seek to keep our neighbors and visitors safe while enjoying the natural beauty that abounds in Petaluma.

Our accident attorneys say one of the allures of our region in Northern California is the near-year around temperate climate that makes Petaluma a walkers dream. However, a pedestrian accident forces injury attorneys to deal with a nightmare. Fortunately, our local area has a relatively low incidence of vehicle and pedestrian accidents our attorneys point out. All the more reason for people to remain vigilant and strive to maintain that good record!

National Figures Show Dangers of Pedestrian Accident

Attorneys look at data from the CDC for national numbers. Shockingly, in 2012, the Center reports that every two hours of the day, one pedestrian is killed and every seven minutes someone is injured in a pedestrian accident. Our attorneys say this risk is 1.5 higher to pedestrians than it is to people in cars. Fortunately, the statistics are quite different for people in Petaluma. Our personal injury lawyers speculate that this disparity may be due, in part, to street and roadway configuration in Petaluma. Local attorneys know that our streets and many rural roads are relatively narrow and not conducive to speeding traffic, unlike those in many big cities where roadways are very wide and constructed for automobile traffic rather than for pedestrians.

Accident attorneys point out that a survey done by the CDC  shows that that 20% of deaths and accidents involved pedestrians age 65 and over. Petaluma personal injury lawyers say streets in urban and suburban areas are often significantly wider, sometimes making it difficult for older people and individuals with disabilities to safely cross streets. Petaluma injury lawyers say that National Safety Council data indicates 85 percent of pedestrian injury accidents take place in urban, verses rural, environments.

Children are also vulnerable to pedestrian accidents. Our attorneys say that accidents involving children are the most trying and emotional of cases they must handle. We are thankful that safety conditions appear to be better in Petaluma. Accident lawyers know that children between five and 15 years of age represent 20 percent of deaths due to a pedestrian accident. Our attorneys recommend that, despite our area’s comparatively strong safety record, drivers remain vigilant about children in the city of Petaluma.

Personal injury lawyers add that our city’s walkable nature does not alter the third highest risk  - drinking and driving. Our injury attorneys are aware of the significant record of accidents caused by persons driving – or walking  -  under the influence of alcohol. Again, we draw upon studies done by the CDC that show 48 percent of accidents resulting in deaths were related to alcohol consumption. Our Petaluma accident lawyers say 34 percent of pedestrians died and 14 percent of DUI motorists were fatalities. Realistically, our personal injury attorneys believe similar figures would apply to the community of Petaluma.

Injury lawyers know Pedestrians are vulnerable in any Petaluma accident. Attorneys say that pedestrians routinely receive the worst injuries in an accident. No matter what speed a car is traveling its weight and thrust (even at 10 mph) can be a deadly weapon against a pedestrian. Our personal injury lawyers know of low speed accidents that have disabled pedestrian victims for life. While proud of our community’s pedestrian safety record, Petaluma accident attorneys urge drivers to be consciously aware of walkers and children playing in neighborhoods.

Pedestrians May Share Responsibility for a Petaluma Accident
Attorneys in California must work within state statutes that specify “negligence” will be related to fault in court.  For example, if a pedestrian darted out into the road from a line of parked cars and was hit by a driver, the pedestrian might bear some responsibility for the accident. Our injury lawyers explain this is related to the concept of “reasonable standard of care.” A pedestrian demonstrating reasonable care would not dash out into moving traffic and, in doing so, may be assessed some responsibility for the accident. Attorneys say this declaration can affect the amount of compensation the injured pedestrian might receive from the driver’s insurance carrier. Our Petaluma accident lawyers explain that a court will determine the percentage of liability for both driver and pedestrian.

Of course, our injury attorneys advise motorists to be hyper-aware of pedestrians in their immediate environment. And the definition of ‘pedestrian’ should be pretty wide, our accident lawyers add. Think kids on skate boards or roller blades, disabled people in motorized chairs, children playing ball. Our Petaluma personal injury attorneys know that sometimes the actions of pedestrians can lead to an accident, but the sheer power of a vehicle to cause harm puts extra onus on drivers.
Finally, our Petaluma accident lawyers share some basic advice for people involved in an accident. Always call for medical help, even if you think injuries are not severe. Injury lawyers know that, in court, the failure of a plaintiff to seek immediate medical attention can be used by a defendant’s accident attorney in court. He or she might claim that no injury happened due to the pedestrian accident. The Lawyer for the plaintiff will have to explain why the injured party didn’t call for medical support, making a case even more challenging for a Petaluma accident lawyer.

Indeed, adjudicating the law can be very complicated, even for seasoned personal injury attorneys. That’s why our Petaluma accident lawyers want to educate our community about public safety and also about issues they may face in court of law. While pleased and proud that our community has a good record of safety regarding Petaluma pedestrian accidents, attorneys at Sette Law believe that we all benefit from working together.

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 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.