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shutterstock_594283319-300x200Recently, a California hit and run accident claimed the life of Mat George, a well-known podcast host. According to a news report, George was fatally hit as he was crossing an intersection on foot in Southern California. A statement from police indicated that George was walking across the street at an “unmarked crosswalk” when a white BMW hit him.

The driver of the BMW did not stop at the scene, as the law requires, and instead drove off. As of the time of the article’s publication, authorities were still looking for the hit and run driver and were offering a significant reward leading to an arrest.

South California Hit and Run Accidents

Hit and run accidents are some of the most tragic traffic accidents in that they often end in very serious or even fatal injuries due to a driver’s decision to leave the scene. In many car accidents, the accident victim suffers severe injuries but may be able to recover if they receive prompt medical treatment. At the same time, often, the only other witness to a hit and run accident is the at-fault driver. Thus, if the driver leaves the scene without calling the police, the victim may languish on the side of the road unless they are fortunate enough to be noticed by a passerby.

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shutterstock_1786946369-300x200While California wrong-way accidents are not the most frequently occurring type of collision, they often result in the most severe injuries. Further, reports from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and AAA reveal that wrong-way driving accidents are climbing throughout the United States. Wrong-way accidents involve vehicles traveling in the wrong direction on a roadway. These accidents are often fatal because they typically involve a head-on collision. The severity of an accident largely depends on the crash dynamics, such as the speed of the vehicles, location of the accident, and contributing factors.

For example, recent news reports described a tragic California wrong-way accident. Two people suffered fatal injuries in a head-on collision involving a driver on the wrong side of the freeway. Several witnesses reported the wrong-way driver shortly before the 5:00 a.m. accident. The callers told 911 that the driver was driving at around 90 miles per hour in the wrong direction. Highway Patrol responded to the reports and discovered a head-on collision. Another vehicle suffered damage a short distance from the initial crash. The victims were 30 and 21 years old.

In reviewing the rate and circumstances surrounding these accidents, researchers concluded that these incidents typically involve eight similar factors. The leading causes of wrong-way car accidents are DUI, driver distraction, drugged driving, poor visibility, missing traffic signs, driver fatigue, construction zone confusion, and product defect. However, the researchers concluded that three factors stand out as most likely to result in a wrong-way accident. The researchers found that the likelihood of a wrong-way accident increased when a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was older and driving without a passenger.

shutterstock_290605838-300x200When car accidents occur on fast-moving roadways, it is important for everyone involved to stay attentive to the ongoing danger after the initial accident. Exiting a disabled vehicle and walking onto an active roadway is almost always more dangerous than staying in the vehicle and waiting for help to arrive. A recent fatal auto-pedestrian crash in California appears to have occurred after a driver exited his vehicle after a crash and was struck by another car on the highway.

According to a local news article reporting on the fatality, the crashes occurred on Highway 101, near Prunedale. A male driver was involved in a minor accident, after which he exited his car to assess the accident and call 911 when he was struck and killed by another vehicle traveling on the road. A California Highway Patrol spokesperson quoted in the article advises drivers involved in accidents to stay in their vehicle, moving the vehicle out of active traffic if possible. The driver of a disabled vehicle should also activate their hazard lights and call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so.

Determining liability for a multi-part accident such as the recently occurring one noted in the article may not be a simple process. The person responsible for the initial accident that disabled the first vehicle may not be responsible for the death of the driver, as there was an intervening cause to him getting hit as a pedestrian on the highway. A driver who strikes a pedestrian on the highway may or may not be liable for any injuries caused by a crash. Liability for injuries or deaths caused by a series of accidents generally hinges on whether a person was acting negligently and whether that negligence caused the injury.

shutterstock_1218570208-300x200In a perfect world where all drivers followed the law and road conditions were always ideal, head-on collisions would not be an issue. Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from perfect. Head-on collisions result in hundreds of injuries and deaths in California each year. Head-on crashes may be caused by distracted or impaired drivers, inclement weather or road conditions, or dangerous driving behavior. Whatever the cause of the crash, nearly all head-on collisions could be avoided if everyone were exercising reasonable care while operating a motor vehicle. A recent California head-on collision demonstrates these facts and should remind drivers to use caution when out on the roads.

According to a local news article reporting on the crash, the two-vehicle accident occurred on Highway 166 near Santa Maria. The driver of a GMC Yukon appeared to cross over the double yellow line of the two-lane road for an unknown reason and collided with a Porsche SUV. The driver and passenger of the Porsche were seriously injured in the crash and transported to local hospitals for treatment. According to the report, the cause of the crash is still under investigation, although no mention of drugs or alcohol was made.

Distracted and impaired driving are contributing factors in many deadly accidents across the state. If a vehicle is traveling on an undivided highway, even a momentary lapse of attention can cause the driver to cross into oncoming traffic and cause a crash. In the present era, with most drivers having phones or other electronics in operation while driving, it is common for drivers to get distracted. California drivers have a legal duty to pay attention while operating a vehicle, and a crash that is caused by distracted driving can lead to criminal charges and civil liability for the negligent driver.

shutterstock_494994061-300x212Excessive speed is a common factor in many California auto accidents. Hurried drivers often ignore posted speed limits in an effort to get to their destination quicker, in spite of the fact that speeding usually only saves seconds or minutes over the course of a trip. When combined with other dangerous conditions such as heavy traffic, low lighting or inclement weather, the dangers of speeding are multiplied. Although speeding kills hundreds of people every year, the practice is pervasive on California roads, and the results are often tragic. A recent news article discusses a fatal head-on collision that is attributed in part to one of the vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed.

According to the news report, the tragic accident occurred on Highway 65 near Delano, when the speeding driver of a Honda Accord crossed into oncoming traffic and hit another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle, a Nissan, attempted to avoid the collision but was unable to swerve in time to prevent the crash. Authorities arrived at the scene of the crash, and the driver of the Nissan was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Honda was seriously injured and transported to a local hospital.

Victims of California car accidents and their families are entitled to compensation for the damages and loss related to the accident. If a driver is speeding or violates other traffic laws to cause an accident, they can be held personally responsible for the injuries or deaths related to the accident. An injured party should consult with a California personal injury attorney and pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. If the at-fault driver has liability insurance (as required by law), their insurance company should be responsible for paying any amount of damages up to the limits of the policy held by the driver. If an at-fault driver does not have insurance, the uninsured motorist coverage of other drivers may cover the damages, and the driver may also be held personally accountable for the damages related to their negligence.

shutterstock_1716326770-e1622138969244-300x188A California court of appeals recently held that Amazon may be held liable for a defective product sold by a third party on its site. The plaintiff in the case purchased a hoverboard on Amazon from a third-party seller on the site named TurnUpUp. After she received the hoverboard, it allegedly started a fire when it was charging, causing the plaintiff to suffer burns to her hand and foot. She filed a claim against Amazon claiming that it was responsible for the defective hoverboard she purchased on the site. Amazon argued that it is an “online mall” or “online storefront” for third-party sellers and could not be held liable under California products liability law. A judge initially agreed and dismissed the case against Amazon. However, a California appeals court disagreed, holding that Amazon may be liable under California strict liability law.

First, the court held that Amazon’s business practices make the company a direct link in the chain of distribution under California strict liability law. Under California law, a manufacturer, retailer, or “any business entity in the chain of production and marketing” is strictly liable if the article the manufacturer places on the market is defective and causes injury to a person. The approach is meant to hold liable all those engaged in producing and marketing a product and who should shoulder the cost of a defective product. The court held that Amazon’s business practices make it a direct link in the vertical chain of distribution under California’s strict liability law. The consumer found the item through Amazon’s website, Amazon took the order, processed the payment, and transmitted the order to the third party. The consumer sent a message to the seller through Amazon’s website and could not communicate with the seller directly. A return also would have been processed through Amazon. Amazon also transferred payment to the third party after deducting its fees. Thus, Amazon was unlike an “online mall” as malls normally do not serve as a conduit for payment and communication in every transaction between a buyer and a seller and do not charge a per-item fee.

In addition, the court found Amazon might be liable under a stream-of-commerce approach to strict liability. In California, if a defendant is not within the vertical chain of distribution, a defendant may still be held liable if the defendant received a direct financial benefit from the sale of the product and its activities, the defendant’s role was integral in bringing the product to the market, and the defendant controlled or had a substantial ability to influence the manufacturing or distribution process. The court held that there was a triable issue of material fact concerning whether Amazon received a direct financial benefit from its activities and sales of the product and whether its role was integral to the business enterprise. Thus, the appeals court reversed the decision to dismiss the case and sent the case back to the trial court.

shutterstock_541579396-300x199Following a California car accident, the customary thing to do is pull over and exchange information with the party or parties involved. Sometimes, however, the at-fault party flees the scene, which is against the law. When this happens, it is not only irresponsible and can leave anyone who was hit without redress from their insurer, who may deny the claim that arises from the accident.

According to a recent news report, a fatal car accident left three people dead after the at-fault driver fled the scene. A Mercedes and Kia collided, sending debris flying hundreds of feet across the road and igniting a small fire. Three individuals in the Kia were pronounced dead at the scene and have not yet been identified. By the time local authorities arrived, the driver and passenger of the Mercedes had fled the scene. The two individuals were later found at a hospital with moderate to serious injuries. Because California laws dictate that drivers have an obligation to stay on the scene following an accident, the driver could potentially face hit-and-run or vehicular manslaughter charges. The crash remains under investigation.

In California, there are laws in place that make it a crime to flee the scene of the accident without stopping and providing your information when the accident causes damage to other cars or property. California law categorizes these offenses as “misdemeanor hit and runs,” which could be punishable by up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $100,000. Drivers who commit these offenses could also be required to pay restitution to victims for property damage and receive two points on their California driving record.

shutterstock_207532981-1-300x210With vaccinations rolling out, more people are beginning to get out and about more frequently or considering traveling again. As the world opens up and more people make their way onto the roads, however, it is more important than ever to exercise caution as a driver. In the event that the negligence of another party causes a significant injury, or even death, to someone that you love through a car accident, those who are responsible must be held accountable.

According to a recent news report, a teenage driver was involved in a high-speed crash that killed a woman in Los Angeles. The woman was driving westbound and attempting to make a left turn when she was struck by the teenager traveling eastbound, resulting in a T-bone collision and sending the woman’s car flying into a tree. Following the accident, the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. As local authorities continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident, accident reconstruction experts have noted that the teenager was driving at 65 miles per hour, or nearly double the speed limit. Local authorities commented last week that the wreck has been a “costly reminder for everyone to slow down” and that “tragedies like this could be prevented if everyone drove responsibly.”

Following the loss of a loved one in a tragic but preventable accident, you may feel at a loss for what to do next. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit, however, can often be a part of the process of healing—and could potentially bring the responsible party to justice. It can also provide your family with significant monetary compensation to help you move on with your lives after the tragedy you’ve experienced.

shutterstock_304682648-300x200California civil lawsuits generally involve private disputes between people or entities. In contrast, criminal cases involve actions that the law considers harmful to society and violate a state or federal criminal law. In several situations, these offenses can overlap, and a defendant may face both criminal and civil charges. The critical differences in these cases involve the defendant’s penalties and the damages a victim can recover.

Civil cases commence when a plaintiff files a claim against a person who failed to meet a legal duty they owed to the plaintiff or victim. These lawsuits may be filed in state or federal court depending on where the offense occurred and the specific details of the incident. A judge or jury hears and decides the case, and if appropriate, they award damages to the plaintiff. On the other hand, criminal cases involve the government filing a formal indictment against the defendant. A District Attorney or United States Attorney’s Office pursues the claim against the defendant. A judge or jury hears the case and determines what criminal penalties are appropriate. Criminal penalties may include incarceration, probation, and restitution.

Overlaps may occur when the offense involves an act that may result in a civil and criminal charge, such as drunk driving, assaults, and batteries. Injury victims must often pursue civil charges to recover compensation for the injuries and damages they suffered. Criminal restitution typically does not meet the extent of a victim’s losses. As such, civil cases are especially important when the incident resulted in significant damages and losses. Injury victims do not need to await criminal charges or the result of a prosecution to pursue civil claims against the at-fault party especially, because these criminal cases may punish the defendant but not adequately compensate the victim.

shutterstock_1742482733-scaledCalifornia drunk and impaired driving accidents often result in serious and potentially fatal injuries. The trauma of these accidents ripple throughout the community and can have lifelong medical, psychological, and emotional consequences on everyone involved in the incident. Insurance payouts rarely meet the significant expenses that victims and loved ones face after a California accident. Victims must often pursue personal injury claims to ensure that they can appropriately address the extent of their losses.

Many drunk or impaired driving accidents result in both criminal charges and civil claims. However, California accident victims can pursue a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver regardless of whether a criminal charge is underway. Plaintiffs may file a claim for damages when they suffer injuries because of a drunk or impaired driver. The victim must prove that the driver was negligent, and the plaintiff suffered injuries because of that negligence. Under the theory of negligence per se, the law presumes that the other party was negligent if they violated a law, statute, or ordinance designed to prevent the injury that occurred. However, the defendant can rebut the presumption by showing evidence that they did not violate the statute or the violation did not result in the plaintiff’s injury.

For example, recently, a national news report described a harrowing California impaired driving accident where six people suffered injuries, and three people died. According to reports, an impaired driver drove over a curb and onto a sidewalk slamming into the victims. Police arrested the 71-year-old motorist for vehicular manslaughter, driving while impaired, and causing great bodily injury while committing a felony. It is unclear if the impairment was related to alcohol or another substance; however, the case is still under investigation.

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