Articles Posted in Car Accident

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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California motor vehicle accidents involving tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles are the most deadly type of motor vehicle collisions. The sheer magnitude and design of these vehicles make them more prone to causing wide-reaching destruction. After a California tractor-trailer accident injury, victims may suffer from long-term physical and psychological medical conditions. Insurance companies’ initial offers rarely cover the full extent of an accident victim’s losses and expenses, and a personal injury lawsuit is often the best way to recover damages.

Accident victims may recover damages from the negligent truck driver, their employer, or any other party responsible for the accident and resulting injuries. California plaintiffs may pursue damages for losses such as medical expenses related to the accident, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In some rare cases, victims or their families may pursue punitive damages against the culpable party. Under California’s comparative fault framework, injury victims who bear some responsibility for their injuries may still be able to recover against the defendant.

Despite the state’s comparative negligence laws, tractor-trailer accident victims often face challenges determining fault after these accidents. Plaintiffs must establish negligence on the part of each potential defendant. For instance, in claims against a truck driver, plaintiffs may be able to prove negligence by establishing that the driver was distracted, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or they were engaged in other unsafe behavior. In cases against the trucking company, the plaintiff may be able to point to negligence by showing that the tractor-trailer was over or improperly loaded, the vehicle was not maintained, or the employer engaged in negligent hiring or training. Moreover, plaintiffs may be able to file a claim against a truck’s manufacturer if the vehicle or any of its parts was defective. In each of these cases, the plaintiff must prove that the other party’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries.

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.

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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.

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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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