Of all of the types of California car accidents, hit-and-run accidents routinely generate the most questions among accident victims. To start, fleeing the scene after being involved in a car accident is against the law. Depending on certain circumstances, a hit-and-run accident can be graded either as a misdemeanor or as a felony. However, regardless of the grading, a criminal prosecution likely will not result in any victims of a hit-and-run accident being provided with compensation for their injuries.

Pick-Up TruckTo receive compensation for injuries sustained in a California hit-and-run accident, a motorist may file a claim with the hit-and-run driver’s insurance policy, if he was located by authorities. However, if the driver was not located, an injured motorist can file a claim with their own insurance policy under the underinsured/uninsured motorist clause. It is important for motorists to read their insurance policy closely because there are strict time limits imposed by the policy language that, if ignored, may result in the insurance company denying a claim.

Another important point for California accident victims to understand is that insurance companies routinely deny coverage or offer reduced compensation to accident victims in hopes of settling the case for as little compensation as possible. In these situations, it is imperative that an accident victim consult with a dedicated California personal injury attorney to discuss their case and devise a plan of action to ensure that they receive the compensation they are entitled to obtain.

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When an employee is injured in a California workplace accident, they will likely miss a substantial amount of work and may have significant medical expenses related to their injury. When it comes to recovering financially for injuries sustained in a California on-the-job accident, injured workers generally have two avenues of recovery:  a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party personal injury lawsuit.

Construction WorkersA workers’ compensation claim is designed to be a quick and efficient way to get an injured employee compensation for their injuries. The workers’ compensation program is a no-fault program, meaning that an employee does not need to establish that their injury was caused by the negligence of their employer or a fellow employee. However, workers’ compensation claims do not permit the recovery of damages related to an employee’s pain and suffering, which can be considerable.

An injured employee’s other option is to file a third-party personal injury claim against the party responsible for causing their injuries. Injured employees who file third-party injury claims will need to establish that the named defendant was somehow negligent and that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of their injuries. If successful, an injured employee who files a third-party personal injury claim may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering that was caused by the accident. In some cases involving “oppression, fraud, or malice,” the injured employee may also be eligible for punitive damages.

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When someone is injured in a California car accident, the initial focus is on recovering from the physical and emotional injuries caused by the accident. However, once those heal, the financial stress of the accident begins to set in. Often, an accident victim has missed work and has mounting medical expenses that must be paid.

Car AccidentIn the vast majority of car accident cases, one of the parties involved has car insurance that can provide compensation for a victim’s injuries. Indeed, under California law, all motorists are required to carry a certain amount of liability insurance to cover the costs of an injury that the driver causes. This mandatory coverage, however, does not necessarily cover the costs incurred by the insured if the at-fault driver does not have insurance. For that type of protection, uninsured motorist protection must be purchased.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Protection

As noted above, the bare-bones insurance requirement in California does not mandate that a driver insures against an accident caused by an underinsured or uninsured motorist. However, all insurance companies are required to offer this type of insurance. Uninsured motorist insurance protects drivers and passengers in the event that the at-fault driver does not have insurance coverage or has inadequate coverage limits to fully compensate an accident victim for their injuries.

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Each year, over 3,000 people die in California car accidents. While there are many potential causes of car accidents, certain causes routinely appear near the top of the list each year:  aggressive driving and intoxicated driving.

Police CarOf course, all motorists are required to drive in a safe manner and remain free from the intoxicating effects of drugs or alcohol. However, in reality, tens of thousands of California motorists engage in this prohibited conduct each day, putting everyone with whom they share the road at risk of being involved in a serious or fatal traffic accident.

When a motorist causes an accident due to intoxicated or aggressive driving, anyone injured as a result may be able to pursue a claim of compensation through a California personal injury lawsuit. These cases generally require that an accident victim establish that the other driver engaged in a negligent act that resulted in the accident victim’s injuries. In many cases involving intoxicated or aggressive driving, the fact that the other driver violated one or more traffic laws leading up to the accident can help an accident victim establish the other driver’s negligence.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a California personal injury case discussing how trial courts should treat potentially conflicting testimony from a witness. The case arose in the context of allegations made by the plaintiff that the defendant manufacturer caused his asbestos-related illnesses while he was employed for a public utility. The main issue in the appeal was whether the lower court was proper in disregarding the plaintiff’s witness testimony based on the fact that it could be interpreted as being self-contradictory.

Thin GasketThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for PG&E in the 1980s, and as a part of his employment, he was responsible for replacing gaskets. The defendant manufactured gaskets that, at that time, were sold to PG&E and contained asbestos. The plaintiff’s lawsuit named approximately 50 defendants, but this appeal focused only on one.

In support of his claim, the plaintiff presented a witness who worked for PG&E at the same time as the plaintiff. The witness first testified through a deposition that was held well in advance of trial. During the deposition, the witness explained that he was responsible for ordering the gaskets for PG&E during the time when the plaintiff was employed there, that he ordered gaskets from the defendant, that some of those gaskets were later discovered to contain asbestos, and that he personally saw the plaintiff working with the gaskets.

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As of January 1, 2018, California residents will be able to purchase marijuana for recreational use. This means that it will no longer be against state law for Californians to have a small amount of marijuana in their possession for personal use. Of course, marijuana remains heavily regulated by the government.

CannabisIt is undisputed, however, that marijuana has an effect on the motor skills of those who use it. Under California Vehicle Code section 23152, it is against the law for anyone “who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” This includes marijuana. Of course, it may not be easy to determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana because the indicators of intoxication are not necessarily as readily identifiable as alcohol intoxication.

Marijuana, like alcohol, remains in a driver’s system for some time after ingestion, and it can continue to affect the motor skills of a driver for many hours after consumption. Unlike alcohol, however, there is no convenient method for a driver to determine if they are still under the effects of marijuana. Thus, uninitiated consumers of marijuana may find themselves getting behind the wheel of a car when they are still under the drug’s influence, creating a serious risk of causing a California drugged driving accident.

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In California workplace injury cases, the general rule is that a workers’ compensation claim is the injured employee’s sole remedy against their employer. The idea is that the no-fault workers’ compensation program is a more efficient method of getting an injured employee the compensation they need while they recover from their injuries. However, damages are limited in California workers’ compensation cases to actual medical expenses and lost wages.

Grocery StoreCalifornia law also permits workplace injury cases to be filed against third parties that are responsible for an employee’s injuries. For example, if a truck driver is injured while unloading his cargo due to some hazard on the loading dock, the company receiving the delivery may be named as a third-party defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. However, special care must be taken in the preparation of these cases to avoid unintended consequences.

A recent case discusses the difficulties one plaintiff encountered after successfully obtaining a judgment against a third-party defendant. In that case, the plaintiff was injured in a Wal-Mart store while on the clock for another company. Immediately after her injury, the plaintiff sought and obtained workers’ compensation benefits through her employer for both medical expenses and lost wages.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California work injury case involving the enforceability of an arbitration agreement that was signed by the plaintiff’s employer and the defendant, but not the plaintiff. Ultimately, the court concluded that while the accident would otherwise have fallen under the arbitration agreement, since the plaintiff was not a party to the contract, he could not be forced to submit his claim to arbitration and was entitled to use the court system.

ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident when a tire on the U-Haul truck that his employer had rented blew out. The employer had rented the truck and instructed the plaintiff to deliver massage chairs to the state fairgrounds. This was the first time the plaintiff, who was normally a warehouse worker, was asked to deliver merchandise.

Prior to taking possession of the truck, the plaintiff’s employer signed the U-Haul rental agreement, which contained an agreement to arbitrate any claims arising from the use of the truck. The rental agreement specified that it applied to “agents and employees” of the party signing the contract.

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California, and Silicon Valley in particular, has long been a hot-bed for technology, starting back in the 1970s with the development of semiconductors. In recent years, California has broadened its focus to all kinds of technological advancements. Perhaps one of the most anticipated technologies brewing in the state has been that of the driverless car.

TeslaGiven the recent advancements in the technology, the day when driverless cars are a common sight on the road is not far away. When driverless cars do become common, there are going to be a host of legal issues that need to be resolved. For example, who is in charge – and thus, who is liable – in the event of an accident involving a driverless car?

In anticipation of the arrival of driverless cars, California lawmakers have started to wrestle with some of the issues the technology will present. According to a recent article, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is in the process of creating specific rules for driverless cars. The tension seems to be between fostering an innovative environment in which companies are encouraged to develop new products and the safety concerns presented by autonomous vehicles.

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The fact that seatbelts can save lives or reduce the severity of injuries in a California car accident is common knowledge. Indeed, California law requires all cars to have properly functioning seatbelts and also requires drivers and passengers over the age of eight to wear a seatbelt at all times.

SeatbeltWhile seatbelt use can save the life of a motorist involved in a car accident, the act of wearing a seatbelt does nothing to decrease the chance of being involved in an accident. This has led states to come to differing conclusions about whether a defendant in a car accident lawsuit can use the fact that the plaintiff was not wearing a seatbelt as a defense or as a way to limit their own liability.

California’s Approach to Seatbelt Non-Use Evidence

California takes an interesting approach when it comes to seatbelt non-use evidence in that courts allow a defendant to argue that a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt should factor into the jury’s determination of the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s conduct. To understand how this works, it is necessary to understand California’s comparative fault statute.

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