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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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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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Dui traffic collisions in West Covina CA continue to be a problem.  Based upon the statistics provided by the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Transportation, car accidents, bicycle crashes, pedestrian mishaps and related incidents involving the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the most recent year for which data is available (2013) were as follows:

  • Thirty six traffic collisions in which alcohol or drug consumption was involved.
  • Twenty three of these collisions involved bodily injury.
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Auto Accident Injuries, California Car Crash LawyerThe most common injuries following an auto accident have been the subject of many studies.  As a car crash lawyer who has been representing traffic collision victims in Los Angeles and throughout California, I have also seen many of these statistics born out in my practice.  I thought I would summarize what these are and what the normal course of medical diagnosis, treatment and prognosis with these particular types of bodily harm.

What are the top 5 Most Common Physical Injuries Following an Auto Accident:

  1. Neck, Back, Chest and Shoulder Sprains and Strains: A “sprain” is defined as a stretch or tear of a “ligament” (the fibrous tissues that connect bone to bone at or near joints in the body) or “tendons” (fibers that connect muscle to bone).  A “strain” is the stretch or tear of tendons or the surrounding muscle tissue.  This is probably the single most common injury resulting from being involved either as a driver or passenger in a motor vehicle collision.  Sometimes, these sprains and strains do not manifest in pain until hours or sometimes days after the incident.  Some sprains and strains are minor and resolve on their own and many times, they healing process is affected by the severity and whether or not the victim seeks medical treatment including emergency trauma care, and follow up care such as physical therapy.  If the “sprain or strain” is due to a severe tear of ligament, tendon or muscle, surgery may be required to repair the torn tissue before full relief can ever be achieved.
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child accidents, car accidents, California LawChild safety seat laws in California are based upon federal regulations and manufacturer recommendations.  There can be no more “precious cargo” than our children and proper use of safety seats and boosters can have a major impact on the level of injury and fatalities in motor vehicle collisions involving children in California.

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The Basics of California Laws on Child Safety Restraint

Under California’s Child Passenger Safety Law effective January 1, 2012, the following rules apply:

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Auto Body Shop Repairs in California, California Law, Los Angeles Car Accident LawyerCalifornia law on auto body shop repairs are very consumer-friendly in my opinion as a consumer attorney who represents auto accident victims.  If you are involved in a traffic collision in the Golden State, you will obviously have questions about the repair of your vehicle.  I thought I would post some of the more common questions that I am asked as an auto accident lawyer in CA and the answers in this blog post.

  1. Do I have the right to take my car to the repair facility of my choice or do I have to go to the one the insurance company “recommended”?  This is probably the most common question I am asked by crash victims.  We all know that auto insurance carriers, like any other corporation, are trying to always save on “the bottom line”.  One of the ways they do this is to steer consumers towards their “preferred” or “direct repair facility”.  While many of these facilities do fine work, the California legislature decided a few years ago that this it was inherently unfair to force consumers to go with the auto body shop recommended by the insurance company.  Therefore, the CA Insurance Code was supplemented to add CA Ins. Code § 758.5, which states, in pertinent part, as follows: “No insurer shall require that an automobile be repaired at a specific automotive repair dealer.”  In addition, the car insurance company can only recommend a specific place of repair under the following conditions: (a) The consumer specifically requests a recommendation; (b) the consumer has been informed in writing of the right to the repair shop of their choice; (c) if the insured chooses the facility recommended by the carrier, the vehicle must be fully restored to its original condition and the customer should not incur any additional charges that would not otherwise be charged or allowed by law if they had used a different shop; and (d) if the auto insurance company gives an oral recommendation for a particular body shop, they must follow up with a written notice of consumer rights within five days of the verbal recommendation.
  2. Does the body shop have to guarantee the quality of their work? By law, auto body repair businesses are not required to guarantee their work but, most reputable repair facilities will provide such a guarantee.  If a warranty is provided, it must be in writing.
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