Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Legal news and analysis regarding California law on motor vehicle accident and injury claims.

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When people in California are injured in accidents, they may be able to recover compensation by filing lawsuits against parties who negligently contributed to their accidents and injuries. People who file lawsuits need to be aware of the discovery rules as shown by Du-All Safety, LLC v. Superior Court, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. A115119. The discovery rules outline when expert witnesses that the parties intend to call should be disclosed to the other side.

Factual background of the case

In Nov. 2015, Mark Krein was walking on a suspended steel footbridge at his job at the Tuolomne Water District. The bridge had been constructed in 1974 as a part of a wastewater treatment plant, and it connected one digester tank to another. While Krein was walking across the footbridge, it suddenly collapsed beneath him. He plummeted to the ground and suffered severe injuries that resulted in paraplegia.

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Californians who suffer serious injuries in accidents because of negligence may be entitled to recover compensation for their losses. However, as the decision in Stokes v. Muschinske, Cal. Ct. App, Case No. B280116 demonstrates, it is important to properly value your claim and that you do not overreach. Even when jury misconduct might have occurred, it may not be enough to secure a new trial when your damages award is much less than what you expected.

Factual and procedural background

Plaintiffs James Stokes and Patricia Stokes were traveling in their car on March 28, 2013. Defendant Martin Muschinske was operating a pickup truck with a horse trailer at the same time. The truck and trailer were fully loaded, and Muschinske rear-ended the Stokes’s car, causing serious injuries to James Stokes.

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company-car-accident-lawyerIn California, if you are injured in an accident that is caused by someone who is working, the at-fault driver’s employer may be liable to pay damages to you. Like other states, California assigns liability to employers when their employees negligently cause injuries to others while they are working. However, employers are not responsible for the negligent actions of their employees when their employees are not acting within the scope and course of their jobs.

In Moreno v. Visser Ranch, Cal. Ct. App., Case No. F075822, the court explored a situation in which a worker was driving an employer-provided vehicle after hours. However, since the worker was required to drive the employer-provided vehicle at all times and was on-call 24 hours per day, the court still found that he may have been acting within the scope and course of his job, meaning that his employer could be found to be liable by the trier of fact.

Factual and procedural background of the case

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When workers cause accidents in Los Angeles while they are acting in the course and scope of their jobs, their employers may be liable to pay damages to the injured victims. There are limits to what is considered to be acting in the course and scope of employment, however. In Ayon v. Esquire Deposition Solutions, Cal. Ct. Appeals, Case No. G054578, G055396, the court considered the limits of respondeat superior in cases involving after-hours phone calls between two employees.

Factual background of the case

Brittini Zuppardo had worked at Esquire Deposition Solutions since 2005 as its calendaring manager. Her job was to enter deposition information onto a calendar and to schedule with attorneys. She would call court reporters from a list until she could find one that was available on the date of the scheduled deposition. Zuppardo’s normal working hours were from 8;30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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In strict products liability cases, manufacturers are held to be strictly liable for their products when their defective designs injure people. While strict products liability is concerned with the nature of the products themselves and not the negligence of the manufacturers, evidence of the practices of others in the industry may be admissible for certain limited purposes as was found by the California Supreme Court in Kim v. Toyota Motor Corp., Cal. Supreme Court No. S232754 (2018).

Factual and procedural background of the case

On April 10, 2010, William Jae kim was driving a 2005 Toyota Tundra in the rain on the Angeles Forest Higwhay in the mountains. As he descended through a righthand curve at a speed of 45 to 50 mph, Kim saw another motorist who was driving in the opposite direction cross the center line into his lane. In an effort to avoid a collision, Kim steered right, left and then right again. These steering maneuvers forced Kim to lose control of his truck, and it ran off of the road and down a cliff before it came to a rest. Kim suffered severe spinal cord injuries which left him suffering from quadriplegia.

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Upland-CA-Accident-AttorneysIn California, personal injury claims may be filed against the government when governmental employees negligently cause accidents while they are working within the scope and course of their jobs. Governmental claims are more difficult than claims against private defendants. It is important for people to act quickly when their accidents were caused by governmental employees because of the much shorter statute of limitations. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help clients to navigate through the process so that they might be likelier to prevail on their claims.

In Mildred Najera v. City of Upland, San Bernardino Case No. CIVDS1505973, a woman who was injured by a municipal employee was able to recover damages. The woman suffered an exacerbation of pre-existing injuries in the accident.

Factual background of the case

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Left-Hand Turn Accidents in Los Angeles

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.

Factual background of the case

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Autonomous Vehicles

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

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car-safety-kitKate 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.

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girl-live-stream-sister-deathA tragic case in California in which a teenage girl live streamed the accident that claimed her sister’s life illustrates multiple risky teenage driving behaviors that are becoming increasingly prevalent. When minors engage in negligent and risky driving behavior, they endanger themselves, their passengers and the people who are traveling on the roadways around them. People who are seriously injured by the negligence of teenage drivers may benefit by consulting with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney.

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.

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