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Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

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

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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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Hit-and-run accidents have long been a problem in California and Los Angeles in particular. When people are victims of hit-and-run drivers, they may be left facing severe injuries and have difficulty with holding the responsible parties accountable. Under California law, drivers who are involved in accidents are required to remain at the scene for law enforcement officers. When they instead flee, they may face criminal liability as a result.

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

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In California accident cases, it is common for insurance carriers and defense attorneys to try to dispute liability in an effort to establish the comparative fault of injured plaintiffs. A recent case, Melissa Alvarez and Lorenzo Alvarez, a minor v. Syar Industries, Inc. – Napa County Superior Court Case No. 26-67154, demonstrates how some defense lawyers and insurance companies attempt to place blame on the injured victims as well as how having help from an experienced personal injury attorney might help to defeat the defense arguments.

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.

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millennial-driversAre Milliennials the worst drivers?  Do they pose the biggest safety risk of any demographic behind the wheel? As the use of smartphones and other technology has become pervasive over the 15 years, distracted driving and its dangers have increasingly come into focus. Multiple studies have demonstrated the dangers of distracted driving. Recently, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study with drivers of different age groups and found that millennials who were ages 19 to 24 engaged in the riskiest driving behaviors, and some of those behaviors were directly related to technology use while driving. When people engage in dangerous driving behaviors such as texting and driving, they place both themselves and others at risk of severe injuries in accidents. An experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer might help the victims of distracted drivers with recovering damages to compensate them for their losses.

Study results

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.

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texting, driving, accidentsA 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.

Lawsuit claims

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.

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