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shutterstock_1174395058-300x188Recently, a car culture publication reported on a recent Tesla Model S crash involving a California passenger bus. While authorities have not indicated the cause of the accident, the crash follows a series of similar accidents, which are under a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) probe. Authorities stated that the Tesla seems to have crashed into the back of the bus that may have been stationary in a traffic lane. The fire department described the incident as a “multi-casualty,” which means numerous injuries among the parties. Accident scene photos illustrate the severity of the accident, as Tesla’s entire front end appears to have slid underneath the back of the bus.

The police and fire department have not indicated whether the vehicle’s Autopilot function was in use at the time of the incident. However, if the car’s Autopilot was not in use, the vehicle’s EV’s automatic emergency braking system should have responded to the solid object in its direct path. Witnesses reported that the bus did not appear to have much damage, and there were no skid marks around the incident.

The NHTSA is currently investigating the automaker following a series of crashes involving Teslas. Many accidents stem from crashes between Teslas and emergency responder vehicles, such as police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances. In many of these accidents, the driver’s Autopilot function was in use. The accident raises concerns regarding the efficacy of the car’s purported safety systems. While the NHTSA did not indicate whether they will investigate this crash, authorities urge drivers not to rely on Autopilot functions and adjust their driving to weather and traffic conditions.

shutterstock_1532327069-300x200Some accidents may not appear deadly at first, for instance, if a car is clipped by another vehicle speeding. Unfortunately, in many cases, these accidents can be worse than initially expected. When a person dies in a California car crash—whether at the scene or later after suffering extensive injuries—a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought on their behalf. While it cannot bring the deceased family member back, a wrongful death lawsuit can help the family of the victim to financially recover while they are emotionally grieving.

Recently, a man was killed and a Sacramento man suffered major injuries after a collision on Interstate 5. According to a local news report, the victim was driving southbound in the right lane when the Sacramento man approached his vehicle from behind. The Sacramento man then allowed the right front of his vehicle to hit the left rear of the other car. This caused the victim to go onto the west shoulder, where his car overturned. While police are still investigating the accident, it appears speed contributed to the crash, but alcohol and drugs did not.

Every state differs in what is required to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. While some states require the estate executor to bring the wrongful death lawsuits, other states—like California—allow family members to bring the suit on the deceased loved one’s behalf. According to California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, the following people are allowed to bring a wrongful death lawsuit: surviving spouses and domestic partners, children, and anyone who would be entitled to the deceased’s property under California laws.

shutterstock_20978254-300x205Following a major car accident, the parties usually stop to exchange information. When a California accident takes place on a busy freeway, it is especially important that the drivers move to a safe location to avoid further accidents or issues. When this does not happen and the vehicles and drivers are simply on the shoulder or obstructing the road, there could be devastating consequences.

According to a recent local news report, two drivers were killed in an early morning accident on the highway. Two drivers had gotten out of their vehicles after an initial accident had taken place between them and were on the freeway arguing when a third vehicle swerved around the stopped vehicles and hit them both. Both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene and a female passenger who also got out to argue was struck by debris from the accident and hospitalized with minor injuries. The driver of the third vehicle stayed at the scene and cooperated with the investigation. Drugs and alcohol do not appear to be involved in the accident at this time, but the collision remains under investigation.

In California, drivers are not allowed to stop, park, or leave standing any vehicles on a freeway unless there is an emergency or where stopping or standing is specifically permitted. Vehicles are only permitted to stop, park, or leave vehicles standing if it is necessary to avoid injury or damage to other individuals of property if they are engaged in construction, and if a vehicle is disabled and requiring roadside assistance.

shutterstock_1456160711-300x199Semi-truck or tractor-trailer accidents tend to result in the most catastrophic property damage and injury. After these incidents, California injury law allows victims and their loved ones to collect damages from any negligent party. While the negligence standard may seem straightforward, the law encompasses many complex nuances that make financial recovery a challenging process.

Damages after a California truck accident typically fall into two main categories, compensatory or punitive damages. Compensatory damages include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are designed to address objective losses that have a dollar value. Typical economic damages include medical expenses, emergency room treatment, prescription drugs, medical supplies, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity; non-economic damages refer to subjective non-monetary losses. Some common non-economic damages may include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, or loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. Punitive or “exemplary” damages refer to damages designed to punish and deter the at-fault party. Courts permit these damages in a narrow subset of cases that involve malice, oppression, or fraud.

After a California trucking accident, the victim may file a claim for damages against any liable party. Some negligent parties may include the truck driver, the trucking company, or any defective truck part manufacturer. In some instances, the exact cause of an accident is unclear. For example, local news reports described a California multi-vehicle crash on the Route 15 freeway. According to Highway Patrol, a sedan with a blown-out tire was traveling slowly when a semi-truck slammed into the vehicle. The truck continued and struck a pickup truck hauling a trailer. Emergency responders transported four people to local hospitals with one critically injured person life-flighted. The Highway Patrol stated that the cause of the accident is still under investigation.

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.

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