Articles Posted in Car Accident

Pedestrian-228x300Car accidents can cause serious injuries, but when an automobile strikes a pedestrian, it is almost always catastrophic. Even when the vehicle is traveling at a slow rate of speed, it can cause life-altering injuries when it strikes a human being. The average midsized sedan weighs about 3,300 pounds, or a little over one-and-a-half tons (in case you’re wondering why trucks are categorized as “half-ton” or “one-ton” trucks when the average sedan weighs more than one-and-a-half tons, the truck category is referring to its payload capacity). A fundamental principle of physics is that the heavier an object is and the faster it is traveling, the more violent the impact will be when it collides with another object. This is why a pedestrian accidents are so devastating. Who pays for the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering of the injured pedestrian?

The answer to this question requires first determining who was at fault for the accident. In legal terms, the pedestrian seeking compensation must establish the ‘liability’ of the driver. The question of liability is usually first evaluated by the law enforcement personnel responding to the accident—however, their conclusions are not final.

When a pedestrian is severely injured by an automobile, the local police department, sheriff’s department, or highway patrol will prepare an accident report. Someone from the responding agency will interview the parties involved, to the extent they are able to answer questions, as well as any witnesses. They will also retrieve any video footage of the accident, which is not uncommon, given the ubiquitous nature of close circuit security recordings. An experienced investigator will survey the area for any cameras that happen to capture the area where the accident happened, as well as the surrounding areas. Even if there is no footage of the vehicle striking the pedestrian, there may be video from a block or two away showing unsafe speeds or other erratic or dangerous behavior.

motorcycle

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A California personal injury case is about more than proving that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. A plaintiff must also prove that they are entitled to financial compensation for the injuries they sustained. Some types of damages are easy to calculate because they have already been incurred, such as past medical expenses. However, future damages are harder to estimate.

Future damages are those that are designed to compensate a plaintiff for expenses or losses that will result from the defendant’s negligence but have not yet been incurred. Typically, these types of damages include future medical expenses, future lost wages, and future pain and suffering. Not only can the future value of these damages be difficult to ascertain, there can also be an issue when attempting to determining the present value of a damages award.

truck

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A California appellate court recently decided a case where the plaintiffs requested a negligence per se instruction after a driver crashed into the defendant who had stopped to the side of the highway. The semi-truck was parked in a zone between the highway and the exit ramp, known as the gore point, when the driver drove his car into the back of a truck. The driver and his wife sued the truck driver and his employer.

At trial, the court instructed the jury that it could find the defendant negligent per se for parking in the gore point under section 21718 of California’s Vehicle Code. It also instructed the jury that it could find the plaintiff negligent per se for driving into the gore point under section 21651 of the Vehicle Code. However, the court declined to instruct the jury, as the plaintiffs requested, that the defendant could be found negligent per se for driving into the gore point to park his vehicle under section 21651. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury decided that the defendant was not negligent for parking in the gore point, and the court entered judgment for the defendant.

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California car accident case discussing whether the plaintiff was entitled to a new trial based on juror misconduct when a juror failed to disclose that he had been named in two prior lawsuits as a defendant. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was no misconduct, dismissing the plaintiff’s appeal.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant conceded liability, but disputed the causation, nature, and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, the trial proceeded only on the issue of damages.

lady justice

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appeals court for all California district courts) recently considered a case in which a plaintiff argued that his claim should have been tolled when he failed to timely file while he was a minor.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s father died in a car accident in February 2005, when the plaintiff was nine years old. The plaintiff’s mother filed a claim against the U.S. Federal Highway Administration in May 2011, on behalf of the plaintiff and other potential beneficiaries. The claim in that lawsuit was that the highway barrier was not tested and approved according to the Federal Highway Administration’s rules. The plaintiff was sixteen years old when that suit was filed.

The Statute of Limitations Under the Federal Tort Claims Act

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) requires that plaintiffs exhaust certain administrative remedies before filing a case in court. Under the FTCA, in order for a plaintiff can bring a tort claim against the United States for the negligence of U.S. agencies and employees, a plaintiff must first file a claim with the relevant federal agency and receive a decision from that agency. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b), a claim must be made to the agency within two years “after such claim accrues.” In addition, if the agency denies the claim, a claim must be presented in court within six months (beginning on the date of mailing of the denial of the claim).

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stop sign

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In a recent personal injury case before a California appeals court, the facts as explained by the court were as follows. The plaintiff sued the city and a driver after she was hit walking across a street in Salinas, California, causing her to suffer severe injuries. The plaintiff was in the crosswalk when she was hit. The crosswalk was painted in 1997 and never repainted.

By 2013, when the accident occurred, the crosswalk had faded to the point that it was almost invisible. The crosswalk was located next to private property with a shopping plaza, on which there was a driveway, bushes, pink cement leading to the crosswalk, and a stop sign. The plaintiff claimed that the city was at fault due to the dangerous condition of the city’s property.

Evidently, A Salinas city ordinance stated that the city must maintain crosswalks at intersections with the appropriate markings. At trial, the plaintiff requested that the judge give jury instructions on negligence per se based on the city ordinance. The judge refused to give the instruction, and instead gave a jury instruction requested by the city. The instruction stated in part that to find that the driveway presented a dangerous condition, the jury could not rely on characteristics of the driveway itself, and could not rely on the design elements of the intersection to find a dangerous condition existed. The jury ultimately found the truck driver was liable, but found the city was not liable, and the plaintiff appealed.

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distracted driving

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Texting while driving is a serious concern for drivers in California, as well as across the country. As the dangers become increasingly recognized, some are questioning the role that phone manufacturers have in texting-while-driving accidents. One of the major issues that accident victims face in this type of case is establishing what is known as “causation.”

Proving Causation in California Injury Claims

Causation is an essential element in any personal injury claim. Causation requires the plaintiff to establish that the defendant’s actions constituted the proximate cause of their injuries. This has two separate requirements: proving that the defendant’s actions were the cause-in-fact of the plaintiff’s injuries as well as showing that policy considerations support a finding of liability against the defendant. To prove cause-in-fact, a plaintiff must show that something is a substantial factor in bringing about the injury. To prove the second element of a proximate-cause analysis, a plaintiff must show that there is a sufficient connection between the defendant’s conduct and the injury, and also that the defendant should be held accountable in light of public policy considerations.

Recently, a federal district court of appeals issued a decision in a case brought against Apple due to its alleged role in a distracted driving accident.

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road rage

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a California car accident case discussing the sudden emergency doctrine. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant driver was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because her actions that led to the collision were in response to a sudden emergency.

The Sudden Emergency Doctrine

Under California law, a motorist can be held liable for any injuries that are the natural result of their negligence. However, under the sudden emergency doctrine, a defendant’s actions may be excused if the defendant “acting with reasonable care, is suddenly and unexpectedly confronted by an emergency he did not cause.”

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was in a line of cars that were entering Highway 101. As the vehicles approached the end of the onramp, one of the cars entered the highway and sped past the rest of the line, making an obscene gesture to the motorist at the front of the line. Shortly after this, the car that had just passed the other cars slammed on the brakes, causing the other vehicles in the line to slow down.

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car insurance

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When someone is injured due to the fault of another, there are a number of different kinds of damages that can be claimed in California. One kind of damages is “loss of consortium.” Rather than being brought by the injured person themselves, loss of consortium is a claim brought by their spouse. Loss of consortium is the loss of companionship, assistance, care, affection, moral support, and/or intimacy. Essentially, the spouse has been injured by the tortfeasor in that they do not have all of the services and companionship of their spouse due to the injuries they have suffered. Your knowledgeable California personal injury attorney can help you to determine whether you or your spouse may be able to recover damages for loss of consortium.

Loss of Consortium

If you injure someone while engaging in your normal job duties, your employer may be able to be held liable for those injuries. This is called “vicarious liability.” The problem is that if you are sometimes required to use your personal vehicle for work and there is an accident, it may not be clear whether there should be vicarious liability or not. This case clarifies when an employer can be held liable through vicarious liability when an employee injures someone while driving their personal vehicle. If you are injured in an accident, it’s important to contact a skilled Southern California personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They can help you to figure out who should be held responsible for your injuries, and make sure that all potentially liable parties are, in fact, held responsible.

Facts of the Case

In this case, the driver and owner of the vehicle was an attorney who worked for the County of Los Angeles. As part of his job he would often need to use his personal vehicle to visit clients in jail, go to different courthouses where clients were being tried, and visit crime scenes or meet witnesses. It would have been impossible for him to do his job without using his car relatively frequently. The attorney was eligible to be paid mileage by his employer when he used his car for these purposes.

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