Articles Posted in Car Accidents

All drivers owe others on the road a duty of care to exercise reasonable caution.  When driving, it is negligent to use any substance that impairs your ability to drive.  Alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs affect the ability of drivers to safely operate their vehicles and may cause harm to others on the road. When a driver’s negligence causes an accident and resulting harm, injured victims may hold the driver accountable in a legal claim.

impaired driving crash

California motor vehicle collision claims involving marijuana use by drivers are rising.  Since marijuana has been legalized, it is likely the state will see an increase in car accidents caused by drivers impaired by smoking or ingesting marijuana.  According to a recent insurance study, crash statistics in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado indicate that after legalizing recreational marijuana, there was an increase in the number of car accident claims in those states. After suffering injuries in an accident with a driver impaired by marijuana, victims may recover damages by filing personal injury civil claims against the at-fault drivers.

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Recently, the California Court of Appeal addressed whether the lower court had properly excluded evidence that the defendant in a pedestrian collision lawsuit had fled the scene of the accident, without rendering aid to the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that excluding this evidence prejudiced her, since she suffered mental distress due to the defendant’s conduct. The defendant countered that she had already been deemed negligent, and the issue before the jury was damages.  The evidence, according to the defendant and affirmed by the appellate court, was not relevant to the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s damages.

pedestrian collision

Together with her husband, the plaintiff brought a complaint against the defendant for negligence and loss of consortium after the defendant struck the plaintiff while she was crossing a street on North Figueroa Avenue in Los Angeles.  The defendant admitted negligence but disputed the extent of the alleged damages and injuries.  The trial court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on negligence and awarded the plaintiffs a net judgment of $876.85.  The plaintiffs appealed from the judgment.

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After suffering injuries in a car accident, the plaintiff in a recent case before the Superior Court of Orange County argued that her insurance company breached their implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.  While the court had found that the insurance company was entitled to summary judgment, based on the legal doctrine of “genuine dispute,” the plaintiff appealed. The California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District held that there were triable issues regarding whether the insurance company’s decision that the plaintiff did not need steroid injections was made without conducting a good faith investigation and without a reasonabstethoscopele basis for a genuine dispute.

The case followed a vehicle collision in which another driver ran a red light and struck the plaintiff’s car. The other driver had caused the accident, and the plaintiff reported the accident to her insurance company the next day.  She also immediately reported chest pain in a police report at the scene of the accident. She was transported by ambulance to the hospital, where she complained of pain in her face and arm.

The plaintiff then sought medical treatment from a chiropractor, first stating she had back pain. Later, she saw an osteopath, who recommended she receive a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test for her spine.  The MRI was noted to indicate significant disc protrusion, requiring more therapy, medications, and injections.

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Pedestrian accidents and fatalities are unfortunately a common occurrence on California roads. Aggressive or careless drivers who speed near intersections or otherwise violate a statute put others at risk of severe harm.  Victims hurt in a pedestrian accident can file a civil lawsuit to pursue damages from the at-fault driver. By proving the other driver failed to meet their duty of care and did not drive reasonably under the circumstances, a victim may present a strong claim for compensation.
pedestrian sign

According to the California Vehicle Code, pedestrians are entitled to safe travel and access to roads.  Drivers are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians who are crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk.  Motorists are also required to yield when pulling out of a parking lot or a driveway.  However, the law also states that pedestrians must use due care for their safety, and they cannot unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in the crosswalk. In a legal claim for damages, a pedestrian deemed to have contributed to their injuries may find their recovery reduced by their percentage of fault.

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In a recent case before the California Court of Appeal, the court addressed a plaintiff’s allegations of error concerning the trial court’s exclusion of evidence in her single-vehicle personal injury lawsuit.  The court analyzed whether the plaintiff had met the elements of showing that a dangerous condition of public property existed on the road.  They also made clear that the standard on review was whether there was a reasonable probability the jury would have reached a result more favorable to the plaintiff, had there been no error.

overpass

The plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the State of California for severe and permanent injuries she suffered in an accident on State Route 127 in July 2012.  She contended that a puddle on the road caused her vehicle to veer and roll over.  On behalf of the state, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) prevailed in a jury trial, when the jury found no dangerous condition existed.

In her appeal, the plaintiff contended that it had been a prejudicial error to exclude testimony from her biomechanical expert and a witness to the accident. Regarding the biomechanical expert, whom the plaintiff had designated to testify regarding how her injuries occurred during the car accident, Caltrans had contended that the expert was not qualified to offer opinions on the topic of accident reconstruction and traffic engineering.  The expert was going to testify regarding the number of rollovers that took place in the accident.

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Following a motor vehicle collision, the plaintiffs took inconsistent positions regarding the damage to their vehicle.  In a recent decision, the California appellate court affirmed the lower court’s judgment in favor of the insurance company.  Not only did the court find that evidence had been properly excluded regarding whether the plaintiff’s vehicle was a total loss, but also the court upheld the finding that the insurer was not liable on the claim of negligence per se.

car servicing

The defendant in this case had been insured, and the company took responsibility for damage to the plaintiffs’ car after a motor vehicle accident.  The plaintiffs had repaired their vehicle, but the insurer notified the DMV that it had been a total loss salvage vehicle. This notification took place before reaching a settlement with the plaintiffs.

After the notification, the plaintiffs were unable to register their car and temporarily lost use of it until Mercury informed the DMV of the error. One of the plaintiffs then suffered a heart attack, allegedly from the stress of this dispute with the insurer and the effect of the DMV notification.

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In a recent case before a California appellate court, the issue on appeal was whether there remained triable issues of material fact concerning whether an intersection where an accident took place constituted a dangerous condition of public property.  Dangerous conditions of property exist when property is defective or damaged in a way that foreseeably endangers those using the property. In analyzing whether the trial court properly granted judgment in favor of the city, the appellate court focused on whether the plaintiffs met their burden of establishing a genuine issue of material fact regarding causation.intersection

The lawsuit centered on a motor vehicle collision in which the defendant driver lost control of his car and hit the plaintiff, a pedestrian, injuring him.  The plaintiff and his family members brought a complaint against the driver and the City of San Jose. On appeal, the claims against the City remained at issue, including allegations of negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, dangerous condition of public property, and loss of consortium.

According to the plaintiffs, the intersection was an unreasonably dangerous condition of public property and caused the accident and the resulting injuries.  They alleged that the intersection did not have proper signage, despite previous accidents caused by lack of visibility and lack of proper controls.  The plaintiffs claimed that the City had been on notice of these issues.

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At issue before the California Court of Appeal recently was whether there had been a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit, and if there had, whether the plaintiff showed good cause to prevent the dismissal of the case.  The appellate court held the parties had not reached a settlement, and any umediationnresolved dispute concerning the insurance policy was good cause to prevent dismissal.  The court reversed the judgment, requiring the lower court to place the case on the civil active list.

The plaintiff in this case brought an action for injuries he suffered in a car accident with the defendants.  After attending private mediation, the parties returned to court for a status conference.  However, the court was advised there had been an issue concerning the insurance policy. The plaintiff’s counsel made clear that she wanted to file an underinsured motorist claim against the plaintiff’s insurance carrier.  She understood that before making that claim, she needed to obtain the plaintiff’s insurance company’s permission to settle with the defendants.  The matter was continued on the calendar, and potential insurance coverage issues remained, thwarting resolution.

At a hearing, the judge ordered the plaintiff’s counsel to appear, since a special appearance had been made on behalf of the plaintiff, requesting a jury trial.  At the next hearing, the trial court dismissed the case on the grounds that the same issue was addressed at a prior hearing and that the plaintiff’s counsel had been ordered to appear but failed to do so.

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A proposed bill to be considered by California lawmakers will allow bicyclists to yield at stop signs, as opposed to coming to a complete stop, provided there is no oncoming traffic.  Assembly Bill 1103, is based on the “Idaho Stop” law that permits bicyclists within that state to treat stop signs as though they are yield signs.   According to the California Bill, bikers would have a legal duty to stop for pedestrians as well as cars that have the right of way.  This change in the Vehicle Code may benefit motorists by making intersections more efficient, encouraging bicyclists to simply roll through the stop sign if they have the right of way.

stop sign

According to some studies, the law that has been adopted by Idaho, nearly three decades ago, has resulted in increased bicycle safety.  Injuries among bicyclists declined after the law took effect in 1982, and they have remained at the same level thereafter.

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In a recent California appeal, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit following a motor vehicle collision argued that the trial court should not have admitted certain portions of the defendant’s medical expert’s testimony.  Since the issues to be determined by the jury included negligence and causation, on appeal, the plaitraffic lightntiff argued that the jury verdict in favor of the defendant should be reversed. She contended the expert testified as to matters outside the scope of his expert designation, and that testimony should have been offered by an accident reconstruction expert.

At the trial level, the issue was whether the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s harm.  The facts showed that the defendant had been in his pickup truck, stopped about 10-12 feet behind the plaintiff’s car.  While reaching for an item in his cab, the defendant stated that his foot slipped off the brake, and his truck collided with the back of the plaintiff’s car.  At the time, there was minimal damage to the vehicles, and no emergency services or tow trucks were called. Both drivers separately drove away in their vehicles.

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