Articles Posted in Car Accident

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.

Semi

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.

motorcycle

Photo credit: Alexander Kirch / Shutterstock.com

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

Photo credit: oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

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.

jury box

Photo credit: Shutterstock/ggw

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

Photo Credit: BCFC / Shutterstock.com

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).

Continue reading

stop sign

Photo Credit: SHUBIN.INFO / Shutterstock.com

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.

Continue reading

distracted driving

Photo Credit: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock.com

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.

Continue reading

road rage

Photo Credit: kryzhov / Shutterstock.com

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.

Continue reading

Contact Information