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Welcome Tanya Ortega to our San Luis Obispo office

Tanya Ortega

Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. is excited to announce the addition of a new attorney! We happily welcome Tanya Ortega to our San Luis Obispo office.

Tanya began her career defending Fortune 100 and 500 companies at a large firm in Chicago, Illinois where her practice focused on personal injury, products liability and premises liability matters in the retail market. For years, Tanya successfully represented the interests of insurance companies and corporations in both state and federal courts across Illinois. In so doing, she gained invaluable insight into the defenses used by insurance companies to gain an advantage in litigation.

Since moving from Chicago to California, Tanya has shifted her practice to a more fulfilling role of representing injured individuals and their families in catastrophic personal injury and premises liability cases. At Harris Personal Injury, Tanya uses her unique perspective of the defense and judiciary to better represent our clients against insurance companies, corporations and the government. Tanya invests in each client and devotes personal time to achieve maximum results in the courtroom as well as through settlement.

Tanya earned her law degree from Valparaiso University Law School in Valparaiso, Indiana, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. She also competed as a middle distance runner on the UH cross country and track teams. Outside of work, Tanya is an avid runner and enjoys training for half and full marathon races. She is also a CrossFit Level-1 Trainer.

Welcome, Tanya!

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This Halloween, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

This Halloween, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants party-goers to know that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, this Halloween. As with many other holiday weekends, Halloween often means an increase in parties and celebrations in California and across the U.S. Unfortunately, this also means an increase in drunk driving related injuries and fatalities. Law enforcement officials are expected to be out in full force on Halloween night in San Diego and across the Central Coast.

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

If you plan on celebrating Halloween with alcohol, make sure to designate a driver. Don’t plan on just having “a few.” Under the right circumstances, one drink can be one drink over the limit. Don’t put trick-or-treaters and other roadway users in danger. The best way to avoid a drunk driving accident is to avoid getting behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. Law enforcement officials are going to be out looking for drunk and buzzed drivers, so save yourself a ride to jail and a costumed mug shot too.

Halloween Drunk Driving Facts

• In 2012, nearly half of all car crash fatalities on Halloween night involved a drunk driver.
• In 2012 alone, 26 people were killed in wrecks involving drunk drivers on Halloween night.
• In 2012, 10,322 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, which represented a third of all traffic crash fatalities for the year.
• Young drivers (ages 21 to 34 years old) make up the largest group of drunk drivers in fatal crashes.
• In 2012, nearly a fifth (18 percent) of all drivers under the age of 21 involved in fatal crashes were drunk.

Keeping Halloween Happy and Safe

A safe Halloween is a happy Halloween, and the best way to stay safe is to stay sober if you plan on driving. Even one drink can be one drink too many, because buzzed driving is drunk driving. If you plan on celebrating with alcohol, line up a safe ride home and have a backup plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Pre-program a cab company’s number into your phone or make plans with a designated driver. If you or a loved one is injured by a drunk driver this Halloween, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The team at Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. wishes everybody a safe and Happy Halloween.

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Three Injured in Big Rig Crash

Three Injured in Big Rig Crash

On Tuesday, a semi-truck crash near Santa Maria sent at least three people to the hospital. According to Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk, the collision happened sometime after 7:00 a.m. at West Betteravia Road and Brown Road, just west of Santa Maria. Very few details about the crash were released, but it involved a tractor-trailer and an SUV. Officers with the California Highway Patrol were swiftly on the scene.

Three people were rushed to Marian Regional Medical Center with moderate injuries, but there’s no word on the extent of injuries or their current conditions. Brown Road was blocked for an extended period of time as crews and first responders worked the scene.

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Bicyclist in Encinitas Struck During Triathlon

Bicyclist in Encinitas Struck During Triathlon

On Sunday, a cyclist in Encinitas was struck and seriously injured by a car during a triathlon. He was not entered in the triathlon, but was cycling alongside participants. According to ABC Channel 10 News, the 56-year-old man was hit by a 2007 Honda sedan, sometime around 10:00 a.m. The incident happened on Manchester Avenue, near Mira Costa College Road.

His injuries were considered serious, but not life threatening, and he was rushed to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. The 61-year-old driver of the Honda apparently veered into the bike lane when she crashed into the cyclist. She did pull over after the collision to cooperate with local law enforcement authorities. At this time, there’s no word on what caused her to veer into the bicycle lane.

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7.8 Million Cars Recalled for Exploding Air Bags

takata airbag recall

7.8 Million Cars Recalled for Exploding Air Bags

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently issued a press release regarding the 7.8 million vehicles being recalled due to faulty air bags. We’ve been following the Takata air bag story for months. Under certain conditions, these air bags can become deadly, even in minor collisions. Cars in warm coastal climates are most at risk, but all potentially affected vehicles are currently being recalled. A variety of models from BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota are being recalled.

Exploding Air Bag Inflators

It’s not that these air bags don’t work properly or don’t inflate when they should. That’s not the problem. It’s that their inflators actually explode and send shrapnel into the neck, chest and facial regions of the driver and passengers in the car. At least four deaths have been linked with these bomb-like air bags, and dozens of injuries have been reported.

Recalls of 2014

If this story sounds frighteningly familiar, it’s because we’ve reported on the Tataka air bag issue more than once, and the poor mishandling of defective parts is strikingly reminiscent of the recent GM ignition switch debacle. Deadly and defective auto parts? Mismanaged and delayed safety recall? This is happening all too often.

Check for Recalls

Consumers are encouraged to check for recalls at Safercar.gov. You will need to locate your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which can be found on the driver’s side area of the dashboard in most cars. You can also check directly with your car’s manufacturer. This is especially important for anybody who has changed addresses since purchasing a car. Recall notices don’t always make it to your mailbox.

Before a Recall

Unfortunately, it can take months to years for a defective product to get recalled. This means consumers need to be on their toes. Report any suspected defects directly to the manufacturer and to the NHTSA. Furthermore, if you think your injury was the result of a defective or faulty product, contact the skilled team at Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. for a consultation immediately.

Current Recall List for Defective Takata Air Bags

BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible
Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen
Ford: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – Ranger
2005 – 2006 GT
2005 – 2007 Mustang
General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X
Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL
Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2007 Mazda6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 MPV
2004 – B-Series Truck
Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – 2005 Lancer
2006 – 2007 Raider
Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45
2003 – Infiniti FX
Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Baja
2003 – 2005 Legacy
2003 – 2005 Outback
2004 – 2005 Impreza
Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra

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Drunk Driver Strikes School Bus in Lompoc

Drunk Driver Strikes School Bus in Lompoc

On Friday afternoon, a suspected drunk driver rear-ended a school bus in Lompoc. According to Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk, the incident happened at the intersection of Central Avenue and North A Street at around 1:25 p.m. While the bus was stopped at the stop sign, a GMC pickup truck slammed into the back of it. The apparent intoxicated driver did not realize that the school bus was stopped in front of him and plowed into the school bus.

There were 26 students on the bus at the time of the crash. Thankfully, none of the children reported injuries on the scene. The pickup truck driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and the bus driver did report pain in her back, but was not transported to a hospital from the scene.

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Pedestrian Struck in Chula Vista

Pedestrian Struck in Chula Vista

On Sunday, a pedestrian was struck and injured in Chula Vista. According to Fox Channel Five News, the incident happened at about 1:30 a.m. A woman was apparently trying to cross Broadway, near C Street, when a southbound vehicle struck her. Witnesses saw the crash happen, and first responders were alerted.

Her condition was initially listed as critical, but she was expected to survive. There’s no word on the extent of her injuries. The driver did remain on the scene to cooperate with authorities. Very few details have been released about this crash, but law enforcement officials did rule out alcohol as a factor, and no citations were given on the scene.

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Excessive Speed on California Roadways



Obey The Sign or Pay The Fine

Excessive Speed on California Roadways

Speeding is becoming an increasingly important topic in Southern California and along the Central Coast. It seems like we’re seeing more one-car, run-off-the-road crashes where excessive speed is listed as a factor. Whether a person is endangering him or herself in a one-vehicle wreck or multiple other roadway users, excessive speed needs to be addressed on California roads.

Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” campaign is aimed at raising awareness about the direct economic expenses related to speeding. Unfortunately, not everybody is motivated to stop speeding because of the crash data. Although the total societal costs of fatal crashes related to speeding are astronomical, it sometimes takes reminding people that speeding tickets are expensive! It can directly impact their pocketbooks.

U.S. Speeding Facts

• In 2012, 10,219 speeding-related fatalities occurred across the U.S.
• Speeding-related fatalities increased by 2 percent form 2011 to 2012.
• In 2012, speeding was a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes.
• In 2012, 37 percent of 15 to 20-year-old and 37 percent of 21 to 24-year-old male drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding.
• In 2012, 42 percent of all speeding driers had blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher.
• Only 12 percent of speeding-related fatalities occurred on Interstate highways in 2012.

Speeding in School Zones and Work Zones

Sure, everybody knows it’s important to follow the posted speed limits. After all, they are put there to keep the roadways safe, but what about school zones and work zones? Fines are often much higher in these areas, and with good reason. The danger to child pedestrians and roadway workers is incredibly high when drivers aren’t following posted speeds. In addition to following all posted signs and speeds, drivers need to remain vigilant and alert in these areas. Vulnerable pedestrians are nearby.

After a Crash Involving a Speeding Driver

After a crash involving a speeding driver, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to get the ball rolling on your case. Although you may be out of work and in the hospital, a skilled injury attorney can be your advocate during this difficult time. If a speeding driver has injured you or a loved one, contact the skilled team at Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. for a free case consultation today.

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Pregnant Woman and Children Injured in Goleta Crash

Pregnant Woman and Children Injured in Goleta Crash

On Tuesday, at least three people were injured in a multi-car crash on Highway 101. According to Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk, initial reports indicate that five vehicles were involved in the crash, including a hit-and-run driver. At this time there’s no word on what caused the crash, which is likely still under investigation with authorities. The initial wreck involved only two vehicles, although other vehicles pulled over to help.

Among the injured victims were a pregnant woman and two children. They suffered from injuries when their vehicle rolled over. Thankfully, they were all buckled up and properly restrained, so their injuries were described as minor. They were taken to the hospital as a precaution. An additional victim from another car also reported minor injuries.

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Pedestrian Killed in La Jolla Identified

Pedestrian Killed in La Jolla Identified

Last week, a woman was struck by a car while exiting her vehicle in La Jolla. The incident happened on the 7700 block of Girard Avenue. According to KUSI News, the victim has been identified as Melissa Ratcliff, Vice President of Marketing for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Although she was rushed to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, she did not survive her injuries. NBC Channel Seven News reports that the 91-year-old driver was backing out of a parking spot before crossing the street and pinning the victim between the two cars. The team at Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. sends their deepest condolences to the family members, friends and coworkers or Melissa Ratcliff.

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