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shutterstock_1207430194-300x200The advent of self-driving and AI-assisted driving systems has been accompanied by promises of increased driver and passenger safety, with some manufacturers suggesting that car accidents may become a relic of the past. Although self-driving vehicles offer some increased safety benefits when compared to standard vehicles, there are unique dangers to self-driving vehicles, and several people have been injured or killed by what appear to be defects or malfunctions in the self-driving function. The United States federal government is opening an investigation into one such crash involving a Tesla Model S that killed three people earlier this year in California.

According to a nationally published news report discussing the developing story, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation in the May 2022 fatal accident that occurred in Newport Beach, California, and involved a Tesla vehicle that was equipped with autopilot functions. The vehicle, which contained three occupants at the time of the crash, lost control and struck a curb, eventually crashing into stationary construction equipment and killing all the occupants.

According to the news report, the Tesla driver may have been using the autopilot function when the crash occurred, and the federal government wants to determine exactly what happened. This is not the first time that a Tesla vehicle has been involved in a crash while using the autopilot function. Since these vehicles have been allowed on the road, drivers, passengers, and pedestrians have each been killed in accidents that occurred with autopilot engaged. Although the federal investigation is not intended to directly benefit or compensate the accident victims for their losses from accidents that have already occurred, the investigation might lead to administrative or legal changes that protect consumers going forward.

shutterstock_253196071-300x188Speeding on California roads is a leading cause of injuries and deaths statewide. When people choose to drive high-performance vehicles that are capable of traveling well in excess of the posted speed limits, they are assuming responsibility for the consequences of a crash they may cause by speeding. A California court recently accepted a settlement to be paid to the family of a woman who was killed by a reckless driver behind the wheel of a Lamborghini supercar.

According to a local news report discussing the accident, the victim was making a left turn at an intersection in West Los Angeles when her vehicle was struck by a Lamborghini that was being driven by the 17-year-old son of a multi-millionaire businessman. The victim had the right-of-way to make the turn she was attempting, and the defendant was traveling at nearly 100 miles per hour on the urban street. The victim was killed in the accident. The defendant was charged criminally for his conduct, and also sued by the family of the victim, who sought significant damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant.

Liability for the accident was quite obvious, as the defendant was speeding and also failed to yield the right of way to the victim. In auto accidents that result in death, the bodily injury auto insurance coverage of the at-fault driver is supposed to compensate the family of the accident victim. Most insurance plans do not have sufficient coverage to compensate a victim’s family for a wrongful death claim. In the event that a driver’s liability coverage is not sufficient, the victim’s UIM (underinsured motorist) coverage can also kick in. Unfortunately, in the event of a death or serious injury, the liability and UIM coverage together will usually not be sufficient to fairly compensate the victim’s family for their loss.

shutterstock_1426611488-300x169It’s no surprise to rational Californians that speeding, and especially street racing, are dangerous practices that threaten the lives of innocent Californians every day. The act of racing itself takes drivers’ attention away from the road and multiplies the danger to both participants and bystanders as a result. The legislature and municipalities across the state have enacted statutes that criminalize exhibitional street racing at a level above and beyond the traffic violations that are committed during a race. Although these laws have been designed to discourage street racing on California roads, they will never be completely successful. A local news report discusses a recent crash that was caused by street racing and left two people dead.

According to the facts discussed in the news report, a group of drivers were in south LA late last month cruising the streets and occasionally racing. During a short race, one of the drivers struck another on the side and sent the second vehicle off the road and into a pole. When authorities arrived on the scene, both occupants of the crashed vehicle were pronounced dead. The driver of the other vehicle did not stop at the scene of the crash and the article does not mention if they have been identified or apprehended.

Determining fault and liability for a crash can be difficult when the negligence of multiple parties contributes to the accident. If two or more drivers agree to participate in a street race, then they are partially assuming the risk of injury or death if the racing results in a crash. Under the law, however, it is not that simple, and negligent parties still may be able to recover damages from other negligent parties. California is what is known as a “comparative negligence” state. This means that an injured plaintiff can recover damages from a negligent defendant, no matter how much the plaintiff’s own conduct contributed to the injury. Under California’s system, a plaintiff is only entitled to recover a proportion of the total damages that reflects the defendant’s share of the blame for the crash. For example, a plaintiff who was 75% responsible for an accident with $100,000 in total damages, while the defendant was 25% responsible, could recover $25,000 from the defendant.

shutterstock_1378529927-300x200Those who suffer injuries or lose a loved one to a drunk or otherwise impaired driver have the right to sue for compensation. A victim or their family can pursue a civil personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party even if the perpetrator has not been arrested, charged, or convicted of a DUI. Under California law, the victim need only prove that the driver was negligent.

In California, a driver is negligent when they fail to use reasonable care to prevent harm to others. Further, the driver may be negligent per se when they violate a statute designed to avoid the harm that occurred. In California, this means violating a statute such as:

  • Vehicle Code 23152(a), driving while under the influence,

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When trucks collide with passenger vehicles, the results can often be devastating. In fact, truck accidents remain one of the deadliest types of vehicle collisions because of the sheer force, weight, and size that trucks often have over passenger vehicles. The danger of these accidents is both in the initial impact but also in the potential injuries and property damage that often result from these crashes. In the most severe of collisions, truck accidents often result in significant physical injuries and even death.

According to a recent article, a local semi-truck accident left a van driver dead. The driver of the semi-truck rear-ended the van driver when he was stopped in one of the lanes of Highway 99. The force of the accident ejected the driver of the van from his vehicle, while the van slid into the right shoulder. The driver of the van was pronounced dead on the scene by local authorities. Initial reports from an investigation into the accident indicate that alcohol and drugs did not play a role in the crash, but police are still looking into the circumstances surrounding how the collision took place.

Truck accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere. Recent federal statistics indicate that 57 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas, 27 percent were on interstate highways, 13 percent took place on rural interstate highways, and there were 13 fatal large truck accidents per one million people in 2017 alone.

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California car accidents are complex events, and crashes involving large trucks only enhance the complexity and severity of accidents. Various elements can occur contemporaneously or hours, days, and months before an accident can result in an accident.

Some reasons may involve driver inexperience, vehicle defects, highway conditions, or weather conditions. Crash reconstruction experts generally find that accidents stem from a combination of reasons. For example, driver impairment, fatigue, and speeding are significant factors in many crashes; however, their existence alone is rarely the sole cause of an accident. Instead, a driver’s error in combination with another factor can increase the likelihood of an accident.

In combination with other agencies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determined that crash risk often involves three key variables: critical events, critical reasons, and associated factors. The three main types of critical events in California trucking accidents include:

shutterstock_1851011776-300x200Earlier this month, a fatal motorcycle accident claimed the life of one man after an SUV crashed into him. According to a recent news report, police are currently investigating whether the collision was the result of a road rage incident that turned into a high-speed chase.

Evidently, police received a call around 9 a.m., indicating that an SUV was chasing a motorcycle in the area of Shields Avenue and Fresno Street. During the call, the caller made it seem as though it was an incident of road rage. Before police arrived on the scene, they received another call from the same are reporting a collision between a motorcycle and an SUV. Further investigation revealed that the vehicles involved in the accident were the same two described in the initial call.

Police arrested both the driver and the passenger of the SUV, who are cooperating with the investigation. However, investigators have yet to determine if the fatal motorcycle accident was motivated by road rage.

shutterstock_1133386718-300x200At times, the aftermath of an accident can be just as bad as the accident itself, as the moments after a car crash are often crucial for the wellbeing of a vehicle’s passengers. When a person is injured in part because of a driver’s negligence, even after the accident itself, that person can bring a lawsuit against the driver to recover damages for their injuries.

Recently, four men were injured in an accident on Old Redwood Highway caused by drunk driving. According to a local news report, the four men and the driver were all intoxicated when they were driving one evening around 10:00pm. The driver, unable to focus on the road, ran a stop sign, crashed into a wall on the side of the road, and caused the vehicle to roll over as a result.

A witness to the accident dialed 911 immediately, and emergency responders arrived at the scene within minutes. A police officer used a fire extinguisher to put out a small engine fire that was still burning, then he turned to assist the vehicle’s occupants. At that moment, the driver pulled himself out of the car and ran away.

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.

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