In Los Angeles, a large number of accidents are caused by people turning left at intersections without yielding to oncoming drivers. In some cases, the drivers who turned left might try to argue that the oncoming vehicle’s driver was at fault if the driver was speeding. In Jessica Berrones v. Hailey Andrews and AndrewsAG, Inc., Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC 610177, the defendant driver attempted to make the argument that the plaintiff was at fault for the accident that injured her because she was speeding. However, the defendant’s argument was unsuccessful.
As numerous companies work to develop their self-driving cars in California, a recent crash in Arizona in which a pedestrian was killed by an autonomous Uber vehicle demonstrates that these vehicles are still in the development phase and may not be ready for mass distribution. When people are injured or killed in accidents with self-driving cars, there will likely be complex liability and insurance issues that arise. If these accidents are caused by the vehicles, it is possible that the families of people who are killed may be able to hold the companies liable under theories of negligence and strict products liability. Families may want to talk to personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles when they lose loved ones in accidents involving autonomous vehicles.
The Arizona case
Kate bobbed her head slowly as the soft music issued from her car’s stereo. She glanced down at her gas gauge, noting she would easily make it to her parent’s house before empty. The sun set heavy on the horizon as empty field after empty field passed by her window as she bustled along the highway.
She loved visiting family. Although she didn’t get to do it as often as she liked, she took every chance to visit her mom and dad back home. The drive was not that bad. Kate had driven it so much; she knew each turn. Every bend in the road was familiar to her.
As night began to fall, Kate began to drive a little more carefully. As she turned her lights on, the car behind her did as well. She noticed the car behind her was driving a little too close for comfort. She wished the other driver would keep a greater following distance.
Facts of the case
On July 21, 2017, 18-year-old Obdulia Sanchez was driving her 2003 Buick with her 14-year-old sister, Jacqueline, and her sister’s 14-year-old friend riding as passengers in the back seat. Sanchez was reportedly driving while under the influence of alcohol. According to the California Highway Patrol, Sanchez was traveling north of Los Banos. She was live streaming on Instagram using her mobile phone while she was driving with blaring music in the background.
Historically, one issue that led to some drivers fleeing the scenes of accidents is that some of them were undocumented immigrants. They fled because of fears of being deported based on driving without licenses and insurance. California passed a law in 2013 that became effective on Jan. 1, 2015 that allows undocumented immigrants to get special driver’s licenses to prevent them from driving without licenses and insurance, and a study has shown that the availability of these driver’s licenses has led to a decrease in the number of hit-and-run accidents in the state.
California AB 60
Factual background of the case
On April 17, 2015, a 33-year-old juvenile hall counselor was driving her 2005 GMC Yukon on Highway 221 in Napa County accompanied by her 3-year-old son. As she was traveling north in the number two righthand lane, a street sweeper that was being driven by an employee of Syar Industries was cleaning up gravel that had been spilled in the merge lane. The Syar Industries employee attempted to complete a U-turn and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle.
The researchers surveyed 2,511 licensed drivers who were ages 16 and older, asking them a number of questions about various risky driving behaviors as well as the views that the drivers had about different acts of dangerous driving. Eighty-eight percent of the drivers who were ages 19 to 24 admitted to engaging in one or more risky driving practices within the 30 days prior to the survey. The behaviors included using cellphones while driving, running red lights, speeding and impaired driving. Drivers ages 19 to 24 were 1.6 times more likely to read text messages while driving as compared to drivers in other age groups with 66.1 percent admitting to doing so. The younger millennials also were twice as likely to send text messages while driving with 59.3 percent admitting to doing so at least once in the prior month.
A class action lawsuit was recently filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against smartphone giant Apple. The lawsuit is seeking to hold Apple liable for a number of different automobile collisions that happened when drivers were distracted by texting or using features like apps on their iPhones while driving.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are asking that the court issue an injunction against Apple to prevent it from selling any new iPhone 6 phones in the state without the company first installing a safety lock feature. The feature would prevent people from texting while they drive, and Apple has apparently had the technology for the safety feature since 2008. The company was granted a patent for it in 2014 but has not installed it. The lawsuit is also asking that Apple is ordered to update phones that people have already purchased to add the feature to them.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2017, drivers in California will be prohibited from holding their cell phones while they drive. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1785 in September, and its effective date is on Jan. 1, 2017. The law prohibits holding a cell phone while driving for any purpose, including checking maps, texting, talking or for any other reason.
What the law allows
The new law is codified at California Vehicle Code Sect. 23123.5. It provides that people may only use their cell phones while they are driving if the phones are mounted on their dashes and are set up for voice activation or hands-free use. Systems that are embedded in the vehicle and installed by the manufacturer are exempted. Emergency personnel who are using their cell phones while they are driving emergency vehicles are also exempt from the law. The first offense of the statute is a fine of $20. Successive violations bring increasing fines.
Factual background of the case
A 65-year-old unemployed student was driving his Chrysler 300 on Feb. 16, 2012, in the number one lane of the Southbound Harbor Freeway. His vehicle was hit from behind by the defendant, who was working at the time of the accident. His vehicle had minor damage. When the police arrived, the man said that he was not injured and refused an ambulance. After the accident, the man went and took a final exam in one of his classes. Four days later, he went to see a chiropractor and continued treatment for 30 sessions before being discharged from treatment on May 26, 2012. Before being discharged from chiropractic care, the man had MRIs performed on his neck and lower back.