California Court of Appeal Holds Truck Driver Parked Illegally May be Liable for Teenage Driver’s Injuries

In a case before the California Court of Appeal, the court addressed whether a teenager was at fault for an accident involving a truck parked illegally along a Southern California highway. The trucker had violated the Vehicle Code by parking illegally, although the trial court had ruled that the trucker’s actions were not the substantial cause of the accident.In this case, an experienced truck driver, David Hernandez, pulled his truck, consisting of a tractor and flatbed trailer, to the side of the Pacific Coast Highway to rest. Because of the narrow shoulder on the right side of the northbound lane, Mr. Hernandez decided to park in an area next to the southbound lane.  He positioned his truck headed north, toward oncoming traffic.

After taking a nap, at around 8:39 p.m. Mr. Hernandez crossed both the southbound and northbound lanes to reenter the highway. During this maneuver, a southbound vehicle struck Mr. Hernandez’s trailer. Eighteen-year-old Joshua David was driving the vehicle, and 18-year-old Natalie Pierson was in the passenger seat. There was no evidence that Mr. David applied the brakes before the collision.

An expert in accident reconstruction at the location of the collision testified that at the time of the accident, visibility was good to excellent.  After being instructed on the general principles of negligence and negligence per se, the  jury concluded that Mr. Hernandez was negligent, but his negligence was not a substantial cause of Mr. David’s and Ms. Pierson’s injuries.

The teenagers requested a new trial, but the court denied that motion.  The trial court had, however, determined that Mr. Hernandez’s truck was parked illegally, in violation of Vehicle Code section 22502.

On appeal, the court stated that since the trial court found that Mr. Hernandez violated Vehicle Code section 22502 by parking his truck on the left side of the highway, facing oncoming traffic, the trial court found that Mr. Hernandez had been negligent per se. Mr. David’s inattentiveness could not have been the sole cause of the accident, since the accident would not have occurred but for Mr. Hernandez’s negligence in violating the Vehicle Code. The court stated that according to the trial court’s findings, the tail end of Mr. Hernandez’s truck would not have been in the southbound lane at the time of the collision, and the collision would not have taken place, if Mr. Hernandez had not parked in violation of the Vehicle Code.  The court stated that the lower court was required to allow the jury to apply comparative fault principles of law.

The court reversed the judgment denying a new trial, and the matter was remanded for a new trial.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. The truck accident attorneys at Sharifi Firm provide a free consultation and can be reached by calling (866) 422-7222.

More Blog Posts:

California Court of Appeals Rules on Liability of Motor Carrier for Negligence of Contract Driver, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, August 13, 2015

California Court of Appeals Rules on Insurance Issue in Tractor Trailer Wrongful Death Case, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, March 24, 2015

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