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 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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cell phone, driving, laws, CaliforniaBeginning 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.

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car accident, Los AngelesA recent personal injury case that was heard in Los Angeles Superior Court demonstrates a legal concept that is called the eggshell plaintiff rule as well as the difficulties with proving injuries in minor impact soft tissue cases. People who have received soft tissue injuries such as whiplash injuries or others in accidents that were caused by the negligence of other people might need to get help from an experienced personal injury attorney.

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.

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Autonomous Vehicles, Self Driving Cars, Moral DilemmaIs there a moral dilemma for self-driving cars?  As the time nears when autonomous cars may make a full entry into the marketplace, ethical questions regarding their programming may impact both public safety and the actual adoption by the public of autonomous cars. In 2015, 4.5 million people were seriously injured and almost 40,000 people were killed in traffic accidents. A large number of the accidents that occur every year are due to human error. The thought about autonomous cars is that removing the potential for human error will drastically cut down the injury and fatality rates by preventing accidents. A recent study shows a moral dilemma that exists when autonomous cars would be forced to make decisions about protecting the safety of their occupants or instead those of pedestrians.

A question of the public good versus self-sacrifice: The study

Researchers in the U.S. and France were interested in exploring an ethical dilemma that could arise when autonomous cars are programmed. Specifically, when the cars encounter situations in which the cars could act in order to preserve the lives of their passengers or instead to preserve the lives of pedestrians were studied. The researchers surveyed 2,000 participants, a majority of whom agreed that they thought cars programmed to save the greatest number of people over protecting the passengers in the vehicles was a good idea. However, when they were presented with the idea of actually purchasing a vehicle that was programmed with such a utilitarian purpose, a majority then stated that they would not want to own a car that was not programmed to protect them and their families regardless of how many other lives could be potentially lost.

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Speeding, Car Accidents, Injury LawyerSpeeding is one of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. More than 10,000 deaths each year are attributable to accidents in which one or more of the drivers was speeding. In terms of economic impact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts the cost of accidents caused by speeding at more than $40 billion a year.

There are 34 states that have maximum speed limits of 70 mph or higher for motor vehicles. Although the highest posted speed limits in California of 70 mph speed are restricted to rural interstate highways and limited access roads, a new report linking speeding and motor vehicle accident fatalities offers evidence that drivers in populated urban areas, such as Oakland and San Jose, are ignoring posted speed restrictions.

California cities lead the nation in speeding fatalities

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eggshell plaintiff rule CaliforniaA California woman was awarded more than $2.8 million by a jury as compensation for past and future damages for injuries she suffered in a car accident. The verdict appears to rely on a legal doctrine known as the “eggshell plaintiff rule.” Although generations of budding attorneys have learned about the rule in law school, its significance in personal injury cases is oftentimes lost to anyone who has not been subjected to a professor’s lecture about it in a first-year torts class.  It is still a useful and practical argument for party’s who have pre-existing medical conditions who suffer emotional or physical harm due to negligence.  Such was the case here.

An admission of liability and a concession by the defense

The defendant in the Sacramento case admitted that she was at fault in causing the car accident in which her vehicle hit the passenger side of a car driven by the 26-year-old plaintiff. Both sides in the case agreed that the speed of the defendant’s car was no more than 15 mph when it struck the plaintiff’s vehicle.

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On Feb. 4, 2016, a jury unanimously awarded more than $3.5 million to two plaintiffs, the successors of the deceased, in a wrongful death case in San Bernardino. Damages included funeral expenses, past and future costs for bodily injury for one of the plaintiffs, and past and future non-economic losses.

Facts of the Case

On July 6, 2011, the plaintiff was driving her minivan with her two children in Rice on Highway 62 in San Bernardino County.

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Los Angeles, Street Accidents, Injury Attorneys, Accident LawyersAmong all of the traffic fatalities that happen each year in Los Angeles, almost half are pedestrians or cyclists. This is true even though pedestrians and cyclists are involved in around 14 percent of traffic accidents in the city. In order to combat this problem, the City of Los Angeles implemented the Vision Zero initiative, which is a concerted effort to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injury accidents by 2025. The primary focus is on pedestrians and bicyclists since they have the highest risk of death. To carry out the city’s initiative, the Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance is working towards bringing the goals to fruition.

Vision Zero is a collaborative, worldwide effort aimed at eliminating traffic deaths by involving multiple government departments and agencies utilizing accident data in order to identify and address the highest risk categories and areas. Because they have very little protection, pedestrians and bicyclists are the most vulnerable of all people traveling on the roads.

Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive directive on Aug. 24, 2015, which established the Vision Zero initiative in Los Angeles as a citywide effort. Prior to that, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation had adopted the initiative in Sept. 2014 as a component of the department’s strategic plan. The City Council likewise adopted Vision Zero in Jan. 2016, making it a key part of the City’s Mobility Plan 2035.

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