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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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Sports and recreational activity participants may be barred from recovering damages following injury accidents during those activities if what occurred was an inherent risk associated with that sport or activity. When people choose to engage in risky activities, California law says that they have assumed the risk of injury by participating in them. In Swigart v. Bruno, Cal.App.4, Case No. D071072, the court ruled that a woman who was injured by a horse while participating in an endurance riding event could not recover in a lawsuit alleging negligence against another rider.

Issue: Whether a participant in a sport or other recreational activity can sue another participant for negligence in the case of an injury accident?

The plaintiff, Kathleen Swigart, and the defendant, Carl Bruno, both participated in an endurance horseback riding event in Perris, California on March 3, 2012. The course was 50 miles long. Swigart dismounted at the eight-mile card checkpoint. While she was on the ground, Bruno’s horse contacted the horse in front of it, causing that horse to kick Bruno’s horse. Bruno’s horse then bolted, throwing Bruno off and striking Swigart, injuring her. Swigart filed a lawsuit against Bruno alleging negligence and gross negligence. Bruno filed a motion for summary judgment, and the trial court agreed, dismissing the action. Swigart then appealed to the Califonia Court of Appeals.

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Brain-Injury-Attorney-CaliforniaPeople who are injured in accidents and who are already are injured may be able to recover damages for the aggravation of their preexisting conditions or injuries. In M.C. v. Victor Matthews, Los Angeles Superior Court case number BC557692, the jury returned a substantial verdict to a child with a learning disability who suffered a traumatic brain injury in an automobile accident, illustrating how California courts treat cases in which a preexisting condition is worsened by injuries in accidents.

Factual background of the case

The plaintiff was a 10-year-old girl who was riding as a passenger in a vehicle that was struck by the defendant. The girl was sitting in the backseat behind the driver when the car in which she was riding was rear-ended. She suffered fractures and claimed that she also received a traumatic brain injury.

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In California, residential care facilities owe a duty of care to their residents. In some cases, that duty extends to when the residents are off of the facility’s campus, depending on the circumstances. In Doe v. FamiliesFirst Inc., Sacramento Superior Court, case number 34-2014-00172564, how that duty applies when residents wander off of campus and are harmed was demonstrated.

Factual background of the case

EMQ FamiliesFirst was a residential care facility that provided educational services, housing and mental health to children between the ages of six and 15. The plaintiff was a child who lived in the home and received services. He was sexually assaulted when he wandered away from the facility.

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California-Truck-AccidentsThe trucking industry in the United states have grown immensely in the last few years. The nation moves over 70% of its freight tonnage via trucks. In 2015, the trucking business generated over $700 billion, surpassing industry standards. This opened a myriad of possibilities for truck-related business owners, logistics companies, and many employment opportunities for truck drivers. As of 2016, the demand for qualified, licensed drivers have resulted to more than 115,000 job vacancies for truck drivers.

There is an estimated 8.9 million people employed in truck-related jobs in the U.S. From that figure, about 3.5 million are truck drivers occupying U.S highways and logging over 288 billion miles a year.

How safe is trucking in California?

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Uber-Drunk-DriversShould Uber get sued if its driver is drunk and injures or kills someone after ignoring complaints about that driver being DUI? People routinely use Uber and similar ride-share services for transportation throughout Southern California and the state. Ride-share services in California are regulated by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, which requires them to conduct background checks of their drivers. Reportedly, Uber is facing a fine of $1.13 million for its alleged failure to investigate complaints of drunk Uber drivers and to suspend them.

Uber’s stated policy and regulatory obligation on drunk driving

The Public Utility Commission requires Uber and other ride-share services to have zero-tolerance policies about drunk driving. Under Uber’s policy, drivers who are found to be driving under the influence while using Uber’s ride-share app are supposed to be permanently deactivated, meaning that they will not be able to use the app or drive for Uber any longer.

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Employer, Drunk Driving, Liability, CaliforniaIn some cases, employers in California may be liable when their employees are intoxicated and cause accidents. Plaintiffs may be able to sue the employers under a legal doctrine called vicarious liability. Employers may also be liable if they negligently retain or hire an employee who then injures others while drinking and driving. In a recent case in Los Angeles, the principles of negligent retention and vicarious liability were demonstrated.

Factual background

In George v. Firstservice Residential California LLC, Los Angeles Superior Court case number BC534796, a man was seriously injured when he was being driven by an employee of Firstservice Residential California LLC. Lance Sandman was a general manager of the company, and he was driving the plaintiff home after the pair had left a pub on March 17, 2013. The plaintiff, Tomislav George, was the vice president of a homeowners’ association board, which was a client of Sandman’s company. Both men had drunk alcohol at the club. On their way to the plaintiff’s home, Sandman crashed into another vehicle, seriously injuring the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s injuries included a near-amputation of his arm that later required more than 30 surgeries.

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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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fire-photo-2-300x193The tragic Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, California resulted in the deaths of 36 people. The warehouse had been illegally converted into living and working spaces for artists, and the victims of the fire died during a music concert that was being held in the building. The fire demonstrates the problems that can happen when buildings are used for purposes for which they were not intended. Unfortunately, the high real estate prices and rents in cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles has contributed to people using these spaces to work and live even though the buildings are not intended for doing so. Experienced personal injury attorneys may hold the landowners liable by filing lawsuits against them, helping to deter the negligent conduct even when code enforcement may be difficult.

Use of illegally converted buildings

The illegal conversion of buildings into spaces for entertainment, work and living quarters has been a growing problem in Southern California and in the Bay Area. This is because the real estate prices and rents are high enough that some people, including artists, have trouble finding affordable places to live. Some building owners have reacted by allowing people to rent and use the spaces as living quarters despite the fact that the buildings are not zoned for residential purposes. The state legislature is now trying to determine how to handle the growing problem through stepped-up enforcement of codes and zoning laws. Unfortunately, the resources are not available to cities and municipalities to adequately investigate all potential zoning and code violations. The civil justice system may provide an alternative means to deter landlords and leaseholders from committing code and zoning violations by holding them liable for negligence under the state’s tort law.

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