Plan a Safe Route to School: Focus on Five to the Reduce Number of Wrongful Deaths

wrongful death attorney

Your child has a right to attend a safe, secure, and peaceful school environment and all reasonable steps are to be taken by the school district to protect its students (Ed. Code § 48200), but what about the route getting to and from school?  How do you protect your child from a catastrophic injury or worse – wrongful death – on their school route?  The number of fatalities to pedestrians and cyclists in San Francisco are decreasing each year since 2013, but it’s still too high (even one is too many and we support Vision Zero for San Francisco).  In 2017, 14 pedestrians, 4 motorcyclists, and 2 bicyclists were killed in vehicle collisions.  Pedestrians have continued to be the largest group for wrongful deaths due to vehicle collisions in San Francisco since at least 2010.  We want to help you with information about how to protect your child from a catastrophic injury when they are on their way to a safe place, to prevent you from needing a wrongful death attorney.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Sustainable Streets Division has created their list of the “Focus on the Five” for traffic enforcement officials to look at.  These five conditions result in the most injuries for pedestrians and cyclists.  To help your child be prepared for a safe walk to ride to school talk to them about these five conditions and what to look out for at intersections to prevent a catastrophic injury:

Focus on Five to the Reduce the Number of Wrongful Deaths:

  • Unsafe Speed
  • Failure to Yield to Pedestrians
  • Violation of Traffic Signal
  • Failure to Yield for Left/U-Turn
  • Failure to Stop at Stop Sign

Pedestrians in California have the right-of-way in many circumstances and drivers should yield to them, but it is important for children to understand the difference between “should” and “will.”  The same is true for stopping at Stop signs or even stopping completely and looking both ways for pedestrians at a crosswalk.  To protect your children on their route to school and keep them from the frightening statistics of wrongful deaths in San Francisco, take the time to walk with them often and help them understand these differences about drivers, especially when children may eventually be walking to school without a taller (more easily visible) adult.  If crosswalk flags are available on their route, they may be used as an added visibility tool, but they do not compensate for understanding the need for children to wait to be seen by the driver before stepping out away from the curb.  The majority of pedestrian wrongful deaths over the years in San Francisco were found to be in crosswalks by the SFMTA.

Plan the Route Carefully Away from Top 13% Streets:

Anyone who has reviewed Vision Zero before might already know about the dangerous areas to walk and ride.  The greater majority of catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths occur on a very small percentage of San Francisco’s streets: just 13% of the streets and intersections make up about 75% of the fatalities and major injuries.  These are often considered to be the “High Injury Corridors” of San Francisco.  There is an updated and interactive map available from City and County of San Francisco here.  Take time to review this map and look to see if your child’s route passes through an area known to be dangerous.  If one or more wrongful deaths have occurred at an intersection your child plans to pass through daily, consider changing their planned path and discussing with them the need for the new route so that they do not divert from the new plan.  If you are not currently looking at the map, 5th Street and Market Street has been at the top of the list for pedestrian and bicyclist collisions for several years.

safe routes to school in san francisco

(San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Sustainable Streets Division: San Francisco 2012-2015 Collisions Report, 2016)


Local Resources Are Available for Your Child’s Safety

Your school may provide crossing guards at specific intersections.  The school district’s liability is with the school’s grounds, but the school may have additional resources to offer to you.

Walk San Francisco provides annual safe route events to help children learn about planning and executing safe routes to school.  They also welcome your emails.  Rahman Law PC principal and founder, Shaana Rahman, is on the Board of Walk San Francisco, so don’t be surprised if you see her at one of Walk San Francisco’s events!  Learn more about Walk San Francisco’s programs for planning a safe route to school here:  Their next Walk & Roll to School Day will be Wednesday, October 10th, 2018.

If you are closer to our Paso Robles office, talk to Kidical Mass with Bike SLO County:  Rahman Law PC sponsors Bike SLO County and some of the Kidical Mass events.  There are no events currently scheduled.


A Wrongful Death Can Happen – Call Us

No one ever wants to think about losing their child.  In 2016, only 1 child was lost as a pedestrian fatality in San Francisco, but in California, the average is about 29% of children under 14 killed in a traffic collision are pedestrians which is actually higher than the overall average of 21% of total traffic collision deaths being pedestrians (CDPH Traffic Safety Reports: Pedestrian Injuries in California 2007-2013, June 2017).  Keep talking to your children.  If you or someone you know is injured as a pedestrian or bicyclist in a vehicle collision, call us.  You are welcome to speak with one of our wrongful death attorneys or pedestrian and bicycle accident attorneys.  Consultation are free.


Dangerous Sidewalks: Reduce Pedestrian Accidents by Reporting Them!

Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Dangerous Sidewalks

San Francisco was founded in 1776 and El Paso de Robles first established a post office in 1867, so both of the cities we operate offices in have a history to them and that brings with it old streets and often neglected, dangerous sidewalks (even neglected, dangerous roadways) in areas.  In fact, looking for examples of images to use as broken sidewalks through the Internet made us realize how much easier it would be to go outside and snap a few photos to get better examples.  In San Francisco, VisionZero is bringing attention to the “3 Es” of pedestrian safety: engineering, enforcement, and education.  Engineering will of course take time and we must all keep that in mind, but education and enforcement are things we can all take part of each and every day to reduce pedestrian accidents.

We are all pedestrians each and every day, even if we only walk to and from our cars.  Some people also ride bicycles or walk longer distances for health or to commute via public transportation.  So taking notice of a dangerous sidewalk or roadway and reporting it can begin a process to prevent a future accident for anyone, even yourself if it’s on a route you travel frequently.  Talking with a pedestrian accident lawyer is nearly always after an injury has occurred.


In Paso Robles, there is an online Action Request Form to use for any road-related repair request.  The City asks this be used from everything from pot-hole fills to sidewalk repairs:


In San Francisco there is a mobile SF311 app to use for reporting road-related repairs as well as an online form for potholes and street/road defects.  San Francisco uses separate forms for each item.  In San Francisco, there is also a lot of information about getting your adjacent property sidewalk repaired here:


However, not all sidewalks belong to the City or County government.  As pedestrian accident lawyers, we often must look at all addresses surrounding an accident or injury.  California Streets and Highway Code section 5610 clearly states that a property owner specifically has a duty to maintain any sidewalk that fronts his or her property in a safe manner.  Many cities have also adopted municipal ordinances consistent with California Streets and Highway Code section 5610, placing the burden of repair of sidewalks on the property owner. (E.g., Berk. Mun. Ord. § 16.04.010; San Luis Obispo Municipal Code § 12.16.020; Gonzales v. City of San Jose (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th 1127, 1137 [local ordinance expressly made landowners liable to members of public injured from unsafe conditions on abutting sidewalks].)  In these situations, reporting the dangerous sidewalk is still the thoughtful thing to do.  We have seen instances where the public entity has sent multiple notices to the property owner.  There are also zoning and coding departments that you may call or write to if you know the address of the property owner and wish to escalate the matter to ensure notices are sent.


If you are beginning to review the sidewalks you encounter on a daily basis in your mind, think about the difference in elevation between the defects, breaks, or cracks.  When reviewing cases as pedestrian accident attorneys, we’ve seen cases where differences of less than one inch have been considered “trivial” by the judge.  Knowing that both San Francisco and Paso Robles are both kept very busy with road maintenance and repairs, you may find reporting defects in the sidewalk of less than a one-inch rise in elevation get placed at the bottom of the repair list.  Your repair request may also be in a less-walked area and therefore a lower priority.  In San Francisco, the Sidewalk Inspection and Repair Program (SIRP) inspects and repairs sidewalks throughout the City on a 25 year cycle prioritizing by a number of factors including pedestrian usage.  Small defects can still be dangerous if unmarked and cause additional concerns for disabled pedestrians which we will address later, but if you look at the 12” defects in the sidewalks in Los Angeles, you’ll understand why some repairs might be first or last on the list.


Education and enforcement are two steps on the path to better pedestrian safety and the goal of eliminating traffic deaths within 10 years.  Remember you play a big part in this!





Catastrophic Pedestrian Accident on Market Street Secures Improvements in San Francisco

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Thu Phan’s tragic death.  She was killed while crossing Market Street at 7th in her wheelchair.  A ban on left turns onto Market Street had already been implemented to help mitigate the dangers of the intersection with an exemption covering City vehicles under certain duties.

The family became active in fighting for safety improvements after their catastrophic loss.  Thu Phan’s sister reached out to Human Streets, Walk San Francisco, and San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets.  Walk San Francisco reports that since the catastrophic pedestrian accident that took Thu Phan’s life, Walk San Francisco and their Vision Zero Coalition have worked to address the conditions that lead to her death.

As a result of these pedestrian advocacy efforts, San Francisco has now implemented:

  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs): walk signals to provide people crossing with a head start at six intersections along Market, including 7th;
  • More visible turn restriction signage at Market & 7th;
  • A City Administrator’s policy memo, which explicitly states that City drivers are not exempt from turn restrictions (a key factor in Thu Phan’s death);
  • A new, required driver training and education program for all City staff that specifically highlights how to drive safely around seniors and people with disabilities.

This last safety improvement deserves an extra comment.  Seniors are five times more at risk of a serious/fatal injury as pedestrians than younger adults according to information gathered by Walk San Francisco.

Here are a few more statistics that may make you realize the importance of a pedestrian accident lawyer, or a catastrophic injury attorney for when a loved one is fatally or catastrophically injured by a vehicle:

  • In 2015, 5,376 people were killed in pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes – nearly 15 people per day (NHTSA)
  • California is the state with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities (NHTSA)
  • 60% of all San Francisco’s traffic deaths are people walking – 4X the national average (Walk SF)

If you or a loved one is hit by a vehicle, know your rights and speak with a pedestrian accident lawyer in San Francisco or Paso Robles.  At Rahman Law PC, we offer personalized attention to every client in a supportive and respectful way.  We have offices in San Francisco and Paso Robles, California.

When the Worst Happens on Your Bike: Catastrophic Injury



We all like to talk about it: how to avoid the most common collisions on your bicycle, adding bicycle lanes, lights on bikes for visibility, law and regulation advocacy to prevent injuries… but all of these conversations come in the wake of something we don’t like to talk about – the catastrophic injury.  We know which collisions on a bicycle are the most common because cyclists end up in the hospital for them, and that lights save lives because people on bicycles are killed every year when the driver says they “didn’t see them.”  And so, we change the laws and regulations based on statistics of injuries and fatalities.  This is a cold, sad truth.  What if it happens to you?

Catastrophic Injury

Catastrophic injury covers a spectrum of the unthinkable: wrongful death, dismemberment, paralysis, severe brain damage, spinal cord injury, and the like.  These injuries are life changing and life ending.  This is why no one likes to talk about them.  So rather than go into those details, I’d like to talk to you about what to do if this happens in your life (to you or a loved one).

  1. Time Limits. Legal cases have time limits known as statutes of limitations.  They are different for their type of case.  It prevents someone from suing over a slip-and-fall that happened 80 years ago which would seem unreasonable.  So it is incredibly important that you start having conversations with a catastrophic injury attorney early to determine your time limits.
  2. Debt. The medical bills alone can be life changing for families.  This is actually another reason why talking to a catastrophic injury attorney early is valuable.  We can help you put a hold on those bills so that you are not being asked to pay them right now.  The payee will wait until the settlement of your case to be paid and if you’ve seen the tens-of-thousands of dollars in medical bills generated by an automobile’s collision with a bicyclist, you’ll understand what a relief that can be.  Insurance only covers so much, from either party.
  3. The Future. A catastrophic injury isn’t about replacing a damaged bicycle and fixing a dented fender.  Future lost wages, future increased medical costs, ongoing rehabilitation, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent disability coverage, and mental anguish are just a few of the considerations for the future for your and/or your family in the event of a life changing injury or wrongful death scenario. An experienced catastrophic injury attorney can help you plan, estimate, and navigate these considerations.

We’re here to help!  The experienced attorneys at Rahman Law PC are riders, too.  We understand rider safety and believe an ounce of prevention is absolutely worth a pound of cure.  However, when the unthinkable happens, we’re ready for that, too.

If you’d like more information on preventing some of the more common bicycle collisions, the following five examples from Velosurance can help you avoid the most common collisions when riding your bicycle on the road.  We are proud to be a trusted partner in their network of legal and bicycle repair shops (obviously, we’re the legal aid).

Download here: how-to-avoid-most-common-accidents-when-riding-on-the-road-handout


Drivers Who Kill Pedestrians Rarely Face Consequences

Accidents happen. It is an unfortunate truth. But accidents that happen as a result of a person carelessly wielding a dangerous weapon are punishable by law. People who are charged and convicted in accidental shooting deaths face severe consequences and often serve jail time. Yet, in the Bay Area, drivers who are charged in accidental pedestrian deaths often walk away without any consequences. Cars can be as dangerous as guns, oftentimes more so. 3,000 pounds of metal traveling 25-60 miles an hour is a undoubtedly deadly weapon. The broken bodies of the people struck by vehicles can attest to that. Unfortunately, the Bay Area has one of the highest pedestrian casualty rates in the entire nation. In the last 10 years pedestrians have accounted for more than 25% of the traffic-related fatalities in the Bay Area. Only the notorious New York and Los Angeles areas outpace us in pedestrian fatalities. Of these 434 pedestrian fatalities, 1/3 were in crosswalks when they were killed. That’s nearly 144 people killed while crossing in a safe zone, nearly three times the national average.

Adding insult to injury (or death), 60% of the 238 motorists found to be at fault or suspected of a crime in the death of a pedestrian faced no criminal charges. When drivers did face criminal charges, punishment was often light. Even more confounding, licenses were rarely suspended. Of those few people who were charged with a crime, less than 60% had their driving privileges suspended or revoked for even one day. 40% of those convicted faced no more than a day in jail. “If there isn’t a penalty, the message is that it’s all right to run people over and kill them,” said Elizabeth Stampe, executive director and the sole paid employee of nonprofit advocacy group Walk San Francisco on whose Board of Directors Shaana Rahman sits. “There’s a joke from New York that maybe isn’t very funny: If you want to kill someone and get away with it, use a car – and that’s true here as well.”

The disturbing truth of the matter is that by law each and every one of the 238 motorists found to be at fault are guilty. They have indeed committed a crime and should be prosecuted as such. However, D.A.s often refuse to bring charges because they feel that they could never get a jury to convict. As such, reckless drivers are rarely brought to justice and pedestrians continue to die in avoidable accidents at unbelievably high rates. To drive is to take the lives of others into your hands. The safety of the pedestrians around you becomes your responsibility. When that responsibility is blatantly ignored and someone is killed or seriously injured as a result, the law requires justice and action, not a blind-eye and shrug of regret as nothing is done and that family is left to grieve with neither.

If you ever need a pedestrian accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.


Fatalities in San Francisco bring Pedestrian Safety Back into Spotlight

Less than 5 months into 2013 and already 5 pedestrians have been killed by motorists on San Francisco’s city streets. If this tragic trend continues at this rate through the end of the year, than more people will be killed this year than last year. This is a frustrating statistic for many pedestrian advocates who have been waiting for the comprehensive pedestrian reform Mayor Gavin Newsom called for in 2010. The proposed reform would reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities by 25 percent by 2016 and 50 percent by 2021.

Many people, including Elizabeth Stampe of Walk SF, blame the Mayor’s Office for its lack of leadership on the issue. However, Jason Henderson, an urban planning professor at San Francisco State University, says that the Board of Supervisors also shares in the blame. In general, the stifling bureaucracy at City Hall stalls any actual safety improvements.

The tragic deaths over the last four months may be the catalyst for actual change. Or they could become just another yearly statistic, a tragic commentary on the lack of progress in pedestrian safety in the City.

If you ever need a pedestrian accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.


Widow Expected to Receive $900,000 in Muni Wrongful Death Suit

In 2009, a N-Judah operator failed to stop for journalist Bill Brand as he walked in a crosswalk. Now, Mr. Brand’s widow is “poised to receive one of the largest settlements Muni has issued in the past two years.”Along with operator error, the operator believed that Mr. Brand was going to yield to an oncoming car so he continued into the crosswalk colliding with Mr. Brand, the lawsuit stated that the company created dangerous conditions when it did not properly maintain the tracks, signals and signage near that intersection.

If the $900,000 settlement is approved, then “the amount the agency has paid out in accident-related incidents in the past two years would rise to $17 million.”


Unidentified Man Killed near Potrero by Drunk Driver

Streetsblog has reported a crash near a vehicle ramp southbound Potrero Avenue to Bayshore Boulevard over Cesar Chavez Street in which a drunk driver killed a pedestrian. The junction of Cesar Chavez and Highway 101 is known as “the hairball” for its dangerous intersections, and the particular danger for pedestrains and cyclists who venture into the mix. “This whole area is incredibly unfriendly and unsafe for walking right now, and local workers and residents have been asking for new crosswalks and other improvements,” said Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk SF. It is no suprise that the victim was reportedly in the road and not in a crosswalk, since, according to Streetsblog the “nearest crosswalks on that stretch of Potrero, at Cesar Chavez and 25th Street, are roughly 1,056 feet apart”.

The driver, a 25 year old San Francisco native, was arrested for driving under the influence and felony vehicular manslaughter in the death of the unidentified man.



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