car crash, accident law, CaliforniaIn an interesting personal injury claim coming out of California, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District, has reinstated a plaintiff’s case arising from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. (See Navarrete v. Meyer, (2015), CA Fourth District Court of Appeal, Case No. D067454).

Facts of the Case: On November 26, 2009, a vehicle driven by defendant, Brandon Coleman, was traveling with two passengers.  Defendant, Hayley Meyer, was riding in the front passenger seat and the second occupant was in the rear.  As the vehicle was traveling to a drug store, defendant Meyer is alleged to have encouraged the driver to turn down a street known to have a lot of “dips” and to go fast to attempt to “get airborne”.  Despite the stated speed limit of 25 m.p.h., the driver got the vehicle to an estimated 80 plus miles per hour, hit the “dip”, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a parked vehicle.  At the time of the collision, plaintiff’s husband was standing alongside the parked vehicle attempting to strap a child into a car seat.  He was struck, his legs were both severed and he died of his injuries.  His wife brought a wrongful death claim initially against the driver and the County of Riverside, CA (claiming negligence operation of a motor vehicle and a dangerous roadway condition of public property, respectively).  The lawsuit was later amended to add passenger Meyer as a defendant under theories of “civil conspiracy” and violation of California Vehicle Code 21701, which states, in pertinent part as follows:

“No person shall wilfully interfere with the driver of a vehicle or with the mechanism thereof in such manner as to affect the driver’s control of the vehicle.”

Defendant, Meyer brought a Motion for Summary Judgment, claiming there were no “triable issues of fact” for a jury to decide on the claims against her and that she should have the case dismissed in her favor.  The trial judge granted this motion.  The Court of Appeal reversed holding as follows:

“The evidence here permits a reasonable jury to infer that Coleman accelerated the vehicle at Meyer’s request so Meyer (and possibly Calhoun) could observe and experience the car “gain air,” as she had experienced in past trips along that road.”

” … for purposes of joint liability under a concert of action theory, it suffices that Meyer assist or encourage Coleman’s breach of a duty, which Vehicle Code section 23109 impose upon him (and also upon her not to aid and abet Coleman).”

“We cannot say on Meyer’s summary judgment showing that the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to support joint liability on a theory of civil conspiracy.   As we view it, the evidence raises a triable issue for a jury as to Meyer’s co-equal liability on such a theory.   Critically, the law imposed on Meyer personally an independent duty not to encourage or assist Coleman in engaging in an unlawful exhibition of speed.  (Veh.Code, § 23109.)”

My Analysis of this Decision as a California Accident Attorney and Injury Lawyer: Obviously, this was a tragic example of what engaging in and encouraging reckless driving can lead to (i.e. injury and/or, in this case, fatalities).  As personal injury attorneys, it is our job to zealously advocate for persons who suffer bodily harm or death as a result of the lack of reasonable care or outright wrongful or unlawful conduct of another.  Part of this advocacy process is to determine all the potential theories of recovery and decide who may have participated in the wrongful conduct or contributed to the incident giving rise to harm.

Given the facts of this case, I think the attorneys for the deceased were both thorough and creative in determining persons at fault and in crafting theories of recovery that went beyond a straight negligence claim against the driver.  Decisions like this one validate the reason for statutes which prohibit not only operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner but, interfering with or encouraging other persons to engage in such reckless driving.

Under California Rules of Civil Procedure, the defendants in this case may seek a review of the decision by the Court of Appeal to the California Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court may agree to hear the matter or may let the ruling stand.  I am hopeful that the case will not be overturned and will remain precedent to be used by attorneys advocating for injury victims in California in the future.

 

Additional Resources:

Legal Theories of Monetary Recovery in California Auto Accident Claims

duodenoscopes, infections, lawsuitsA functional duodenum is paramount to proper digestion and intestinal health. The duodenum handles a large portion of food digestion and acid neutralization. A condition within that body part can cause symptoms such as stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, bloating and more. A specialist may have to use a duodeonoscope in an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography to confirm a diagnosis of a duodenal disorder. The patient must ensure that he or she uses a reliable facility with a reliable team of experts. The dangers that can come from a duodenoscope are almost equal to the dangers that can arise from an undiagnosed duodenal problem. Two facilities were involved in duodenoscope malpractice scandals recently.

The Danger of Duodenoscopes

Two facilities had recent medical scandals that included the use of a duodenoscope. The Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the UCLA Medical Center are the two facilities that were involved in such incidents. At least two patients died at the UCLA Medical Center after receiving a procedure that involved a bacteria infested duodenoscope. Similar incidents occurred at medical centers such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and an Illinois facility called the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. More recently than the previously stated incidents, the Virginia Mason Medical Center lost 11 patients to death after they contracted infections from duodenoscopes. The outbreaks of deadly duodenoscope infections caused great concern, as more than 280 people developed infections from dirty devices.

The Fine Line Between Chance and Neglect

Some incidents occur by chance, and others occur because of neglect. The deadly duodenoscope statistics are too numerous for chance, but they do indicate that neglect may have occurred in each case. Researchers found that the duodenoscopes in many of the cases carried the E. coli bacteria. E. coli usually grows on unsanitary objects. The FDA released several supportive documents to assist medical facilities in providing high-level sterilization for their equipment. However, the releases cannot assist the people who have already been affected by the infected duodenoscopes.

Whose Fault Is It When a Patient Dies?

The family of the victims can collect monetary compensation if a judge finds that neglect played a factor in the incident. He or he may rule that medical practice took place. Medical malpractice is an incident in which a medical caretaker’s negligence causes a patient to die or suffer from an exaggerated medical condition. The survivors can look at one of two parties for medical malpractice compensation: the individual doctor or the entire facility. The victim’s family could claim that the person died an unnecessary death because of a medical employee’s failure to use the appropriate sanitation methods.

Ensuring that equipment is clean and sanitary is one of the responsibilities of medical workers, according to the oath. Such personnel are supposed to act in a manner that protects the patients’ best interests. Failing to ensure that an instrument is sanitary is a huge violation of a patient’s rights. A judge may hold the medical institutions in the previously mentioned situations liable for the wrongful death of multiple patients.

Getting Assistance for Duodenoscope Incidents

The family members of the deceased individuals in the above incidents may be eligible for two types of compensation: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages can cover their medical bills, household bills, counseling and funeral expenses. Punitive damages can cover them for their pain and suffering. The surviving victim can contact a medical negligence attorney and schedule a consultation to find out more about compensation. Medical negligence attorneys can assist living victims of duodenoscope infections or the families of deceased victims. The first step is scheduling a consultation with an attorney. The attorney may offer the person contingency coverage so that no additional stress is involved in the case. Contingency representation released the victim from the burden of retainer fees until the attorney wins the case. In some cases, the attorney will not ask for a penny until the settlement check arrives. At that point, the attorney would take a portion of the check.

Sources:
http://www.outpatientsurgery.net/surgical-facility-administration/infection-control/inside-the-deadly-duodenoscope-outbreaks–infection-control-15?utm-source=tod&utm-medium=email&utm-campaign=tips
http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/medical/duodenoscope.htm

Multiple Defective Auto PartsToo often, auto manufacturers negligently produce defectively designed or assembled parts that can cause a driver to lose control, cause a risk of fires, or create other dangerous hazards. In the wake of the Takata recall of an estimated 34 million cars,1 much attention has been focused on the possibility of having defective airbags in our vehicles. However, while you should definitely check whether your vehicle has been affected by the airbag recall, there are many other active recalls for defective auto parts that may lead to serious accidents and injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports new safety recalls2 on a constant basis so that consumers can always determine whether their car or truck is safe for use.

The following are only some examples of recalls that have been issued in recent months of which drivers should be aware:

Fleetline fender brackets – Fender brackets that were manufactured in early 2015 were reportedly not sufficiently welded and can cause a fender to either fall against the tires, causing steering hazards or can fall off of the vehicle entirely, potentially causing other vehicles to crash into the fender in the road. 

Chevy Malibu seat belts – Certain Malibu models from 2011 and 2012 have seat belt cables that can break and cause inadequate protection in the event of a crash.

GM brakes – The brakes on certain GM trucks may leak fluid, thereby decreasing the effectiveness of the brakes and creating an increased risk of a collision with other vehicles or objects. 

Ford steering systems – Some Ford F-150 trucks from 2015 have an improperly assembled steering upper intermediate shaft that can malfunction and cause a driver to lose control of the steering of a vehicle.

The above are only a few examples of the numerous auto recalls reported on the NHTSA website and more are issued on almost a daily basis. Auto recalls affect everyone across the country from California to Michigan to the east coast. If you have suffered injury in a collision caused by a defective auto part, an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer can help you today.

References:

1http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/10/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-takata-air-bag-recall/index.htm
2http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/recalls/recallmonthlyreports.cfm

Distracted Driving, Accidents, California, AttorneyAs the use of cellular phones has become almost ubiquitous in today’s everyday culture, both in California as well as across the country, distracted driving has becoming a correlative increasing danger. Many people are seriously injured or even killed in accidents every year caused by a distracted driver, both in California as well as elsewhere in the U.S.

While the idea of distracted driving has become almost synonymous with talking or texting on a cell phone while driving, the activity encompasses much more. As a recent study reported in the LA Times reports, cell phone use has become an increasing problem. Despite the risks, drivers continue to use cell phones and do other activities while they are driving.

National Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, an average of 1,153 people are injured and nine are killed every day due to the actions of a distracted driver in the country. That rate equated to 3,328 people killed in 2012 alone, with another 421,000 people injured in such accidents. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that 3,154 people were killed in accidents caused by distracted driving nationally.

State Statistics

A recent study reported by the LA Times underscores the fact that the problem of distracted driving is a growing one in California. The state’s Office of Traffic Safety, which conducted the study, reported that one out of 10 drivers reported being distracted by texting, answering, calling or otherwise handling their cell phones while driving. The office indicates the actual number is most likely closer to one in five drivers, however. This usage represents a 40 percent increase over the numbers from just last year, an astonishing increase in such a short period of time.

Why Multi-tasking Causes Distraction

The reasons why using cell phones or doing other assorted activities while also driving can cause distracted driving are threefold, according to the CDC. The act of driving requires visual, cognitive and manual attention. When a driver takes their eyes off of the road, even for a couple of seconds, they lose visual attention. Similarly, thinking about other things, such as an incoming message on a cell phone, causes cognitive distraction from the act of driving. Finally, manual distraction, such as that involved with manipulating a cell phone or other electronic equipment in a car, distracts a person’s manual attention. Cell phone use while driving is thus very dangerous, as it involves distraction in all three categories.

Youth most at Risk

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, reported that among drivers, young drivers up to age 20 reported the highest rate of accident involvement when they were simultaneously using a cell phone, at 13 percent. Similarly, the age group of drivers up to age 24 reported much higher rates of sending text messages or emails while driving as compared to older drivers, with between 44 and 49 percent of young drivers acknowledging doing so.

A shocking study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University and reported by NPR demonstrated the extent of distracted driving behaviors in teens and youth. In the study, teens reported not only texting or talking on their cell phones while driving, they also reported engaging in a whole host of activities. While 40 percent admitted to texting while driving, some also reported engaging in such activities as changing their clothing, doing homework, changing shoes, putting on makeup or even putting in contact lens, all while also operating their vehicles.

What can be Done

Educational campaigns regarding texting while driving have demonstrated some success. The Oregon study’s authors indicated that the results they obtained demonstrate a need to incorporate other types of distracting behaviors into driver education programs for teens. Parents should also refrain from using their cell phones and take steps to make certain their teens are well-educated about the dangers of all types of distraction while they are driving. They should themselves be good role models and not engage in similar behaviors.

In addition to the possibility of receiving a ticket for distracted driving behavior, people who continue to do so despite the risks entailed subject not only themselves but also everyone on the road around them to the danger of serious injury or even death. In the event someone is seriously injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, the injured victim may seek recompense through filing a personal injury civil lawsuit against the distracted driver for their negligence. When people are killed, their families can similarly file wrongful death civil lawsuits. Such civil actions may be filed in addition to any criminal prosecution, as they operate under two different bodies of law. Through such lawsuits, people may recover both economic and noneconomic damages.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Distracted driving,” Oct. 10, 2014.

LA Times, “More California motorists using phones while driving, study finds,” Katie Shepherd, July 16, 2015.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Young drivers report the highest level of phone involvement in crash or near-crash incidences,” April 2012.

NPR.org, “Teens say they change clothes and do homework while driving,” Maanvi Singh, March 18, 2015.

Brain Injury, Attorney, California

Brain injuries have been found to be a leading cause of many deaths in the United States. However, the state of California is recorded to have the most cases of brain injury death cases. According to the Center of Disease Control, there were 35,000 people who acquired brain injuries over a six year period specially 2004 to 2010. These numbers are evident that brain injuries can cause extensive damage to a person’s well-being.

Causes of Brain Injury

There are several ways a traumatic brain injury can occur. Some of the most common ways include:

  • Auto accidents
  • Slip and fall
  • Blunt Force
  • Defective products or equipment

The CDC also indicates that brain injuries occur frequently among young males who are the target of shootings. When these incidents occur, injury victims may lose consciousness, memory, their vision or life. While some brain injuries may be diagnosed immediately after an incident, some victims may not be aware of brain damage if not treated early. Brain injuries can have a long term effect on a person to the point of losing cognitive ability and physical mobility. The effects of brain injuries can also take a toll on a injured victim’s family. This is due to the attention that is required in assisting a brain injury victim with medical and home care. Emotional stress can also increase when a brain injury victim dies.

What to Do if You have a Brain Injury

The first thing you should do after being hitting you head is go to the nearest hospital to have your brain assessed. After you have received a brain injury diagnosis, you need to follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment. If surgery is required, it is important that you follow directives for this procedure as well as postoperative care.

Depending on the cause of your injury, you may be able to collect compensation to help you pay for brain injury medical expenses. However, you will need to consult with a brain injury attorney. Upon acceptance of your case, your attorney will begin to assist you by gather your medical records and incident report.

If it is discovered that your brain injury was due to someone else’s negligence, your attorney will begin the litigation process by filing a claim on your behalf. Since brain injuries are progressive, your case will be thoroughly investigated to present substantial evidence against the negligent party.

Legal Assistance

When you begin your search for legal assistance in California, you should review profiles, success rates, and testimonals. By doing so, you can weigh your options and make your decision to retain legal service based on the resources given to you. During your initial consultation, you will informed about what steps will be taken to pursue compensation for:

  • Medical expenses – These expenses include doctor appointments, tests, and procedures
  • Long term care – This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy

The state of California has numerous law firms that handle brain injury cases. These cases have involved clients who are still living with brain injuries and also those who have died as a result of brain injuries.

If you have a brain injury or a loved one has died because of brain trauma due someone else’s negligence while driving, walking, working or was involved in a physical altercation, it is recommended that you seek legal help immediately in order to protect your legal rights. Since a traumatic brain injury requires serious attention, the more medical and legal resources you receive to help make your daily living easier, the more equipped you’ll be to handle some of the physical challenges associated with a brain injury.  The law offices of Steven M. Sweat, APC, have been zealously advocating for the victims of head trauma for decades.

Avoid Missing the Filing Deadline

You may have a valid brain injury case, but if you don’t act fast to request compensation for your injury, you may lose your benefits forever. If you want to protect your legal rights as a brain injury victim, it is important to file your claim for benefits or find a law firm that represents brain injury victims within two years of the date of your injury incident.

Computer Dashboard, Distracted Driving, Auto AccidentsDistracted driving is a safety issue typically associated with performing other tasks while driving. Any non-driving activity you are engaged in while operating a motor vehicle significantly raises a risk of crashing and fatalities. Distraction transpires at any time you take your eyes off the road and do not concentrate on the primary task of driving.

Even with the alarming statistics, the car companies continue to furnish their vehicles with elaborate dashboards and enticing displays of information. Originally, the idea was created to aid the drivers with their transportation needs by providing Global Positioning System (GPS) allowing them to easily find their destination. The technology has since advanced into other methods of navigation that may lead to interference with safe driving causing an increased number of accidents worldwide.

The youngest drivers are at most risk as in addition to being distracted by the displays on the dashboard, they also engage in texting and talking on the cell phone simultaneously. On average, 660,000 cars are being operated by someone who is using their Smartphone accounting for 16 percent of distracted driving crashes involving people less than 20 years of age.

A recent study conducted by J.D Power revealed that there is an increased interest in purchasing the cars with the latest technology including dashboard screens equipped with voice control and options to sync the cell phones with the dashboard.

The makers of Audi allow the car operators to streamline their Twitter accounts with the dashboard, upload pictures taken with the smart phone and display the text messages including the location where the pictures were taken. Auto manufacturers of Hyundai integrate the dashboard software with the iOS and Android. Tesla has created a system that substitutes the Smartphone functions and allows the driver to view the information displayed on the screen in the car.

The National Highway Safety Administration has issued new guidelines advising against obstructive diversions such as moving images, but as of present, no official regulations have been imposed in regards to distracted driving. The statistics are staggering and only by educating the public about the possible dangers these numbers may be reduced.

• 3,154 people were killed in 2013 and 420,000 were injured in accidents involving distracted driving.
• 153. 3 billion texts were exchanged monthly in the USA.
• Drivers under the age of 20 accounted for 10 percent of crashes involving distracted driving.
• Fatalities involving people in their 20s accounted for 27 percent of all reported incidents related to distracted driving.
• Performing visually and manually engaging tasks triples the risk of a car crash.
• Both teens and parents admit they hold extended conversations via texting or talking using the dashboard options while driving.

It is a well known fact that a driver cannot safely operate the car and watch the screen concurrently. Car companies increase their profits by providing the latest technology and uphold their conviction that dashboard displays provide roadside assistance and fulfill the public demand. However, the law makers debate on how much technology is suitable and appropriate before it becomes a diversion and possible danger to road safety.

As the number of car crashes involving young generation is rising nationwide, many states have implemented Graduated Driving Licensing (GDL) laws which ban the use of certain devices while operating a vehicle. Violating these laws may lead to license suspension, fees or delayed approval to obtain a license. In efforts to curb the use of excessive technology, the legislators are actively working on implementation of stricter laws and regulations aimed at distraction-free driving. The public is also urged to promote safe driving within their communities by social networking and advertising the message of road safety.

References:

http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html

Dangerous Property, Death Claims, CaliforniaAccording to the latest investigation, rotted wood beams were the cause of a balcony collapse that killed six college students in Berkeley California.  The students were having a party and many were gathered on the upper floor of a 176 unit apartment building.  A probe was launched by the Building and Safety Division into the cause of the collapse.  It was noted that the joists that were supposed to be supporting the balconies, which extended out of the side of the building were completely dry rotted.

What is the duty of an apartment owner in California to inspect their property and make it safe?

This tragic incident raises the question of what legal duty the owner and/or maintenance company for an apartment building has to inspect their property and make it safe.  California law on this issue is as follows:

Under so-called “premises liability” principles, every person or entity that, “owns, possesses or controls” real property may be held legally liable for injury or death caused by their negligence in their “use or maintenance of the property.” Rowland v. Christian, 69 Cal.2d. 110Whether or not there as been “negligence” by a property owner

Clearly, this was a advertised and use for residential rental space and the apartment owner would have a duty to maintain the property in a reasonable manner to prevent injury or death.  The question becomes, could they have or, more importantly, should they have known about this dry rot condition in time to either warn about it or repair it?

California law makes very specific requirements on landlords of residential rental property as follows:

“A landlord must conduct reasonable periodic inspections of rental property whenever the landlord has the legal right of possession. Before giving possession of leased property to a tenant [or on renewal of a lease] [or after retaking possession from a tenant], a landlord must conduct a reasonable inspection of the property for unsafe conditions and must take reasonable precautions to prevent injury due to the conditions that were or reasonably should have been discovered in the process. The inspection must include common areas under the landlord’s control.

After a tenant has taken possession, a landlord must take reasonable precautions to prevent injury due to any unsafe condition in an area of the premises under the landlord’s control if the landlord knows or reasonably should have known about it.” See California Civil Jury Instruction 1006

I would argue that if you own a 176 unit apartment building with balconies that jut out of the side of the building and are several stories off the ground, you should absolutely inspect and detect rotted joists well before they get to the point of potential collapse!  Dry rot of wood beams does not happen “overnight” and some reasonable inspection could have detected this defect.  I believe there will probably be wrongful death claims filed out of this tragedy and claims paid out through settlement.  If the matter goes to trial, I would suspect that the California jury instruction cited above will be a key to a verdict.  The defense may argue that the condition was hidden and the plaintiffs will argue that there was a duty to inspect and detect the dangerous condition of the property.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims in this tragic case!

Additional Resources:

Legal Claims for Injury or Death Due to Dangerous Conditions of Property in CA

truck, accidents, CaliforniaThe trucking industry is a huge business across the nation as more than two-thirds of goods and merchandise are transported by trucks. A large portion of this truck traffic goes through California, carrying cargo that comes into west coast ports of entry. The U.S. Bureaus of Labor Statistics reports that 2.6 million people with commercial driver’s licenses are working in the industry, but nearly a million more have commercial driver’s licenses and are not using them. The American Trucking Assns. says that the industry is understaffed by between 35,000 and 40,000 drivers. By 2022, that number is expected to skyrocket to 240,000 drivers.

While the deficit is apparent over short distances, the long-haul industry feels the pinch the most. In addition, the lack of drivers affects ocean transportation and trains as they depend on truckers to complete the last leg of the journey.

Some companies have used shorter routes and signing bonuses to encourage new drivers. Other tactics include paying for training and special motivations for former military personnel, women or immigrants. However, these incentives are not making a permanent difference.

One of the factors that is contributing to the problem is the overall age of drivers, which averages more than seven years older than other workers. As they retire, no one is stepping up to take their place. Additionally, government regulations have limited the amount of time a driver can spend on the road, so other drivers need to bear the burden.

Most drivers are paid by the mile, but some people in the industry believe the issue could be addressed if they were paid by the hour instead. Under current models, a driver doesn’t earn anything when sitting at a light or waiting for merchandize. A driver might have to just accept inefficiency, even from their own company when they are the ones who end up paying for it. A driver might not be able to count on pay during a week as they don’t know if they will suffer a breakdown, deal with warehouse or traffic delays, or be at the mercy of weather-related delays.

However, the companies are resistant to change, partly because of the history of the industry. During the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt exempted drivers from Fair Labor Standards Act regulations so that the company did not need to pay them a traditional minimum wage.

A carrier in Lafayette, LA, Dupre Logistics, began paying truckers by the hour in about 2000. Although they had been compliant with industry rules regarding hours on the road, drivers were worn out and getting into accidents. The company shifted schedules and changed their pay structure as they transitioned to paying drivers by the hour. As a result, their accident rate dropped drastically. In addition, experienced drivers heard about the changes and were attracted to the company. Their turnover rate is just 17 percent in an industry known for rates of 90 percent or even higher. A reduction in turnover means that drivers are more familiar with their jobs and with regulations and are less likely to get into an accident.

The two major contributors to trucking accidents are speeding and fatigue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, semis and buses cost the national economy $40 billion annually in 2012. By changing how drivers are paid, the roads might be safer for everyone. Drivers no longer want to speed, push themselves when they are tired, or cut corners when it comes to maintenance and safety. Even if the drivers are focusing on compliance, a trucking company with a shortage of personnel might encourage drivers to violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations.

No matter how a truck driver is paid, he or she can still be in an accident that causes immense pain and expense. If you have been the victim of a trucking accident in California, contact our law firm to discuss your options.

teen driving accidentsAs kids become teenagers and young adults, parents all have the same worry, and with good reason: Teens and young adults are much more likely to be involved in auto accidents than virtually any other group of drivers on the road. Part of this obviously has to do with the inexperience of the new driver; however, there are also many other factors that must be considered by every parent who is facing the prospect of a new teen driver on the road.

The Lack of Driving Skill

Many state driving tests have actually been censured by special interest groups because they do not accurately portray the skill of a new driver. Although a lack of experience definitely contributes to many of the accidents that young drivers find themselves in, the lack of driving skill is another aspect of this statistic. Younger drivers get into accidents that older drivers might be able to avoid because of their familiarity with the small hazards of the road that cannot be accounted for on a standardized, static test.

Is a solution around the corner?

The combined efforts of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Center for Injury Research and Prevention and the University of Pennsylvania have come up with a novel idea on how to better assess driving technique of young drivers. The Simulated Driving Assessment (SDA) is a much more accurate portrayal of how a young driver will behave on the road than many of the stale tests that the state gives.

The University of Pennsylvania and CHOP published their results in the Injury Prevention journal. Their results were definitely interesting for anyone who is looking for a better way to assess the true skill of a young driver who is looking to receive a license. Because of the real-time techniques and real-world scenarios that the SDA simulated, young drivers were not able to finagle their way out of situations that would cause a problem on the road.

The test was created after a decade of research focused on the types of crashes that young drivers have as well as a five-year research period into how to best produce these situations as a simulation within the test.

The Results of the SDA Testing

During the SDA testing, a full 43 percent of newly licensed teenagers had a simulated crash compared with only 29 percent of more experienced drivers. The SDA testing found that young drivers were fairly adept at the basic skills of driving such as putting on a turn signal or breaking at a stop sign. The vast majority of the teens had problems during the more advanced real world simulations in which real-time decisions had to be made and advanced maneuvers were the only way to stay out of a crash. For instance, anticipating a hazard rather than reacting to it proved quite difficult for teen drivers. This coincides with the type of crashes that young drivers find themselves in most of the time – maneuvers involving long left turns, rear end situations and running themselves off of roads with difficult structures.

The Final Word on Helping Teens Avoid Crashes

The results seem to show that the older types of testing simply do not make an issue of the situations in which teens would actually have an increased chance of an accident. Simulated tests are the preferred method for creating the situations that a teenager would be more likely to have an accident in. With this knowledge in tow, perhaps better driving courses can be created that would help to simulate real world conditions for teenagers in the classroom before they got to their state driving test.

When you do business with a professional driver in California, you certainly expect that you will not end the interaction in an accident. However, this is not been the experience for many people who have recently patronized the Uber rideshare driving service in the state.

Claims in the Golden State from users of the Uber rideshare service have gone up in recent years, creating a real dilemma for insurance companies as well as for the rideshare company itself. It seems that drivers who are affiliated with the service have been getting into a great deal of trouble both on and off the clock, and it is uncertain why this is the case.

Many of the drivers have been saying that passengers in the rideshare vehicles have been creating untenable demands on them to somehow magically get to a remote location faster than traffic would allow. Because they are supposed to be “professional drivers,” they feel a pressure to perform more efficiently than the average driver would. However, anyone who has faced down the bumper-to-bumper traffic in CA understands exactly what even a professional driver is up against. Sometimes, there is simply no fighting the flow – you simply have to wait your turn.

However, this does not seem to explain the number of drivers who are getting into trouble off the clock. Perhaps they are being monitored more closely by law enforcement officials; it may be that they are simply more apt to get into an accident because of their increased number of hours on the road. However, this would seem to negate the notion of a professional driver, so maybe the company itself has some soul-searching to do when it reevaluates its hiring process.

Many of these professional drivers are protecting themselves by taking advantage of an extra insurance option that is available for people who are employed by a rideshare vehicle. The Insurance Commissioner of CA Dave Jones recently approved an insurance product that is to be offered by Farmers Insurance that fills in a huge gap in most insurance packages. For the most part, a regular insurance package will not cover a driver who is employed by a rideshare company to the extent that a professional driver needs to be protected by insurance coverage.

The minimum requirement for this extra insurance that is now required of rideshare drivers is $50,000. This number is down from $1 million. However, this insurance package only covers drivers while they are riding with a passenger in the vehicle or currently on route to pick up a passenger.

Metromile is another insurance company in the state that offers additional insurance coverage to rideshare drivers who are waiting to pick up a passenger. Combined, these two coverages take some of the ambiguity out of coverage for professional rideshare drivers.

If you have been the victim of an Uber rideshare accident, then you need a California attorney who understands the system. Whether you have the law on your side or not, you will need a reputable and experienced advocate in your corner in order to present your case – you can bet that the other side will. Do not leave your claims to the wind – give an established California attorney a call today.