Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

Automobile Accidents. Legal causes in California including rules of the road. Personal injury law issues related to auto and car accident claims.

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hit-run-car-accident-lawyerHit-and-run crashes and fatalities are increasing and have reached a record high in California and across the nation. There are several reasons that are attributed to the rise in hit-and-run accidents. With the improvements in the economy, more people are sharing the roads. Smartphone use while driving has led to an increase in distracted driving accidents, including hit-and-run crashes. At the same time, more people are choosing to walk or to ride their bicycles to get where they need to go. Finally, drunk driving and speeding continue to be real problems. It is important for you to understand the risks of hit-and-run collisions and to take steps to protect yourself in the event that you are involved in one.

Prevalence of hit-and-run crashes

According to an investigative report by ABC News, hit-and-run fatalities have reached an all-time high.[1] When hit-and-run drivers are caught, ABC found that many are able to avoid jail time. The penalties that are imposed vary widely from state to state. Even in states in which the penalties have been increased, prosecutors still have the discretion to offer plea deals that limit or avoid incarceration even in cases in which the victims are killed.

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In California, drivers are mandated to carry minimum liability insurance that pays $15,000 per injured party or $30,000 per accident to protect others if the drivers cause accidents. However, these policy limits are often insufficient to pay for the losses that injured accident victims might suffer. In some cases, it is possible for injured plaintiffs to recover more compensation than the limits on an at-fault driver’s policy, as was demonstrated by the recent case of Marcia Arreola v. Susan Hanson, Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC600875. The case also demonstrates how fault can be apportioned in situations in which there are multiple tortfeasors.

Factual background

The plaintiff, a 48-year-old woman named Marcia Arreola, was stopped at a traffic light in Cerritos on Dec. 23, 2014. She was stopped at a light on Artesia Blvd. at its intersection with Norwalk Blvd. facing westbound. Defendant Susan Hanson was traveling eastbound on Artesia, and defendant John Austin Deapera Ella was heading north on Norwalk. The two defendants collided in the intersection, causing both vehicles to careen into Arreola’s vehicle.

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Traffic-Accident-Attorneys-Los-AngelesWhat are the new California traffic laws for 2019?  As we roll into a new year, Californians need to be aware of a number of new traffic laws that might affect them in 2019. These laws may have an impact on cyclists, motorists, minors, scooter riders, DUI offenders, and others. It is important for you to familiarize yourself with these laws so that you do not commit any traffic violations in the upcoming year. Here is a description of each of these new laws and what they might require you to do.

SB 1046

SB 1046 was sponsored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo. The law was effective on Jan. 1, 2019, and it deals with the installation of ignition interlock devices on vehicles of repeat DUI offenders. People who are convicted of a first DUI offense in which they caused injuries are also required to install ignition interlock devices under the law. Previously, this law had existed in Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento, and Tulare as a pilot program.

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Turo-Car-Rental-Accident-Injury-Lawyer-AttorneyVisitors to Los Angeles as well as California residents rely on rental cars to meet their transportation needs sometimes. While most people are familiar with traditional rental car agencies that you might see at the airport and dotted throughout the city, fewer might be familiar with a rental car app called Turo. This app allows individuals who own vehicles to rent them to others at deep discounts as compared to rental car agency prices. However, rentals from an app come with some risks to both the drivers and others who are traveling around them. If you have suffered an injury in a collision with a vehicle that was rented on the app, getting help from an experienced lawyer is important. Here is what you need to understand about the app and how to protect yourself.

Overview of the car rental service

Turo Inc. is a company that was originally founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 2009 and is now headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company offers an app that people can use to list a car rental or to rent a vehicle. People who want to rent cars can sign up with their email addresses, Facebook accounts or Google accounts. After submitting photocopies of their drivers’ licenses, they are able to browse and book vehicles. The owners who have listed the cars can take up to eight hours to respond and may accept or decline the booking. Once a booking is accepted, the renter and the vehicle owner arrange to meet and exchange the vehicle. The owners can choose to purchase accident insurance from the company at the time that they rent out the vehicles or may opt to waive coverage if they have their own policies. Turo states that people who rent vehicles on their website do not have to have their own insurance policies.

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Los-Angeles-Car-AccidentsBecause of the high accident fatality rate in Los Angeles, the city implemented its Vision Zero initiative in 2015. The initiative is focused on reducing traffic deaths to zero by 2025. However, the city has some of the highest fatality rates in the U.S., leading the city to try new approaches to curb fatalities. One of these new efforts is adding new speed limits and better signs on streets throughout the city. If you have been injured in an accident or have lost a loved one, getting help from an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat might help you to recover compensation for your losses.

New speed limits announced

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city was implementing new speed limits on 71 different streets around Los Angeles on Feb. 28. The new speed limits were implemented in an effort to address the city’s high motor vehicle fatality rate. Garcetti stated that the new speed limits would also come with increased enforcement efforts in order to gain higher compliance with them. He also stated that many drivers in the city simply drive with the flow of traffic and have no idea of what the speed limits are on the roads on which they travel. Most streets did not have their speed limits changed. However, 45 streets had their speed limits decreased while 26 had their limits increased. The mayor indicated that the changes were necessary to reduce the city’s fatality rate even further with the goal of reaching zero fatalities by 2025.

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High-speed police pursuits in Los Angeles and across California place the lives of innocent bystanders at risk. When police pursue suspects, they sometimes cause accidents with other motorists or pedestrians. People who are injured and the families of those who are killed in police pursuits may have little recourse because of governmental immunity. The California Supreme Court will soon hear the case of Ramirez v. City of Gardena, Cal. Ct. App. No. B279873, a case in which there is a question of how broadly the immunity from lawsuits should be interpreted when police engage in high-speed pursuits.

Factual and procedural background

On Feb. 15, 2015, Mark Gamar was riding as a passenger in a vehicle. A report had been made to law enforcement that cell phones had been stolen at gunpoint, and the vehicle in which Gamar was riding matched the description. Police officers who saw the truck in which Gamar was a passenger engaged in a high-speed pursuit of it. An officer performed a pursuit intervention technique maneuver in which the officer struck the left rear end of the truck to get it to stop. The collision caused the truck to spin out of control and strike a streetlight pole. Gamar was killed in the collision, and his mother filed a lawsuit against the city and the police department. The city filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it was protected from lawsuits by governmental immunity. The court agreed and granted the motion. Gamar’s mother, Irma Ramirez, appealed the dismissal to the California Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision. She then filed an appeal to the California Supreme Court, which will decide how broad qualified immunity for officers engaged in pursuits is when accidents happen.

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Drivers in California who are confronted with unexpected emergency situations and who react reasonably to the circumstances cannot be held to be liable if they cause injuries to others. In Shiver v. Laramie, (2018) Cal. App. 2d, Case No. B283420, the appeals court ruled that the emergency doctrine can apply in cases that involve road rage.

Factual background

In Sept. 2014, three cars were driving in the on-ramp to the U.S. 101 freeway in Santa Maria to merge into the southbound lanes. A tractor-trailer was being driven in the #3 lane of the freeway, which was the far right lane into which the three cars were trying to merge. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Charles Laramee, saw the three vehicles on the on-ramp and noticed that a black car was driving aggressively behind the front car. The front car was being driven by a woman named Michelle Adams.

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work-related-car-accidentsAs a Los Angeles work-related car accident injury attorney, I know that many people in L.A. are required to drive for their jobs on either an occasional or routine basis. In some cases, people who are driving for work reasons are involved in car accidents. People who are working within the course and scope of their employment when their accidents happen are entitled to file workers’ compensation claims with their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance carrier. In addition, if the other involved motorist was at fault in causing the accident, the injured victim may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Getting help from a Los Angeles personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyer might help you to recover the maximum potential compensation to pay for both your economic and noneconomic losses.

Types of Jobs that Require Employees to Drive

Many different types of jobs require workers to drive as a part of their work duties. Some common types of jobs that require employees to drive include the following:

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Los-Angeles-Drivers-Worst-CountryAre Los Angeles drivers the worst in the country? A new study suggests they may be.  Los Angeles is a dangerous city in which to drive. Many people have long complained about how badly people drive in Los Angeles, and their complaints have been validated by the findings of a recent study. According to the Allstate America’s Best Driver Report, Los Angeles ranked a dismal 193 out of 200 cities, demonstrating the problematic driving behaviors that are engaged in by L.A. drivers. In addition to the property losses caused by bad driving, many people are seriously injured or killed in the city each year because of bad driving. People who are injured and the families of victims who are killed because of bad driving by others may pursue compensation by filing civil lawsuits against the negligent drivers who caused their accidents or those of their loved ones.

The Allstate study showing Los Angeles drivers some of the worst in the country

Allstate looked at data from 200 U.S. cities in order to determine which cities had the best drivers and which had the worst. The company made their determinations based on the average number of years that drivers in the cities went between accidents. Los Angeles drivers average 5.9 years between accidents, placing the city near the bottom for the driving behaviors of its motorists. Kansas City, Kansas took the number one spot for safe driving. Drivers in that city average 14.9 years between accidents. The city with the worst drivers was Boston. Drivers there average just 3.6 years between accidents. The study points to the need for drivers to exercise caution while driving. There are several problematic driving behaviors that are engaged in by many Los Angeles motorists that can lead to accidents that injure others. These driving problems are prohibited by California law and are evidence of negligence when accidents result.

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Cause, Auto Accident, Injury, California LawCausation issues in auto accident cases are one of the biggest legal hurdles that can be faced by an injured party seeking compensation through the civil justice system.  As a California motor vehicle collision attorney with two decades of experience representing car accident victims, I can tell you that this is the most contested and litigated issue in these types of claims.  As I have discussed in other blogs, to prove your case in any personal injury negligence claim, it is the injured party’s “burden” to show a duty was owed by the defendant(s) to the plaintiff(s) [person(s) claiming personal injury]; that this duty was breached by some act or failure to act showing carelessness, unreasonable behavior or wrongdoing; that the breach was the actual and legal cause of injury; and that injury was in fact sustained (See Cal. legal definition of “negligence”).  The most common issues on this third element of “causation” include the following:

  • The delay between the collision and the treatment for the injury:   This scenario goes like this.  A person is involved in a crash and they don’t seek out immediate medical treatment.  They try to “tough it out” or see if the pain will “go away”.  This can begin with a denial of a offer for ambulance transportation from the accident scene to the hospital.  It may be compounded by factors such as a lack of health insurance which provides disincentive to incur medical bills.  The problem becomes when a serious injury is finally discovered (sometimes weeks or even months later), the defense (i.e. claims adjusters for the car insurance company of the at-fault driver), will claim: 1. Given the span of time between the accident and the diagnosis of injury, many other things could have happened that may have caused or contributed to the injury; 2. Defense argument: “If your client was really hurt, they would have gone to the doctor sooner!”
  • The date of the onset of symptoms from the date of accident: Sometimes injuries do not fully manifest themselves or show up at all until some time following the accident.  This is not often but, does happen.  In this instance, the same type of arguments by insurance defense personnel get made.
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