California Court of Appeals Rules in Potential Joint Liability Car Accident Case

In a recent California Court of Appeals case, Vollaro v. Lispi, 224 Cal. App. 4th 93 (2014), the court had before it an appeal stemming from a car accident in which Lispi rear-ended the car in which Vollaro was a passenger. The driver and owner of the car that was struck were not parties to the action.

At the time of the accident, Lispi stopped and asked whether anyone was injured, which they were not at the time, and exchanged the relevant information. She saw that the vehicle had rear bumper and trunk damage, but her car was not damaged.

Shortly thereafter, Vollaro sued Lispi for alleged personal injuries. She alleged that Lispi was driving in a negligent, careless, and reckless fashion, and therefore she caused Vollaro to suffer physical and emotional injuries and lost wages.

During trial, the only witnesses were the plaintiff and defendants themselves. The plaintiff denied that the car she was riding in had made a sudden stop. The defendant testified that, when she exited the freeway, the car that the plaintiff was riding in was moving towards a merge, when the defendant looked over her shoulder to check for oncoming traffic and then began accelerating, colliding with the car that had apparently stopped suddenly for no apparent reason. The defendant then hit her brakes but was unable to avoid hitting the car in front of her.

The defendant testified that, although she was responsible for hitting the car in front of her, the other driver was also liable for making a sudden stop without explanation. The defendant also did not believe that the plaintiff’s injuries, which included a surgically repaired hernia and rib injury requiring surgery, were sustained as a result of the accident.

Based on her theory that both drivers were at fault in causing the accident, the defendant submitted a proposed special verdict form that would have required the jury to consider the fault of each driver, and to allocate fault accordingly. The plaintiff objected to the special verdict form and claimed that the defendant’s testimony was legally insufficient to establish any potential fault on behalf of the other driver.

The court found that the plaintiff bears the risk of loss for any unpaid noneconomic damages that are attributable to someone responsible who has either not been sued or is statutorily immune. It further found that the defendant’s testimony was sufficient to give support for the necessity of the special jury verdict form. The judgment was thus reversed and remanded for a determination regarding the potential negligence and percentage of fault attributable to the other driver.

If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to understand your rights so that you can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at Sharifi Firm, APC have significant experience in handling car accident cases throughout California.  If you have been involved in a car accident, contact us today for a free consultation. We can be reached through this website or by calling (866) 422-7222.

More Blog Posts:

California Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Car Accident Case, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, published June 5, 2015

Car Crashes into LAX Terminal, Hits Little Girl, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, published June 2, 2015

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