Earlier this month, a charter bus carrying upwards of 30 people to a workplace holiday party was involved in a serious accident on Highway 101, near the Cesar Chavez St. off ramp in San Francisco. According to a recent news report, the accident occurred shortly after 8 p.m. after the bus began fishtailing for an unknown reason. Once the driver of the bus lost control, the bus flipped over onto its side, blocking all of the lanes of traffic. Thankfully, no other cars were involved in the collision.

Bus SeatsIn total, nearly 30 people were taken to the hospital with varying injuries. Witnesses to the accident told reporters that at least two people were unconscious and trapped inside the bus until emergency responders arrived on scene and were able to remove them from the bus.

Police spoke with the driver of the bus, who told them that he was not sure why the bus began to fishtail, but it may have been due to “excessive speed.” The driver remained on the scene and assisted the victims before getting any medical treatment himself. Police do not believe that alcohol was involved, but the accident is still under investigation.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a California car accident case involving the alleged negligence of a police officer. The case required the court to discuss the Government Claims Act and whether the plaintiffs’ non-compliance with the Act should prevent the plaintiffs from proceeding with their case against the government defendants. Ultimately, since the court determined that the government officials involved in the case may have made misleading statements to the plaintiffs and their attorney, the court permitted the plaintiffs’ case to proceed in order for a jury to determine whether the plaintiffs should be excused from compliance with the Act.

Police CarThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were seriously injured when a car driven by a police officer with the L.A. School Police Department (LASPD) ran a red light and crashed into their vehicle. After the accident, but before the plaintiffs were taken to the hospital in an ambulance, the plaintiffs were provided a business card indicating that the responsible party was LASPD. The card listed the LASPD address and website.

Four days after the accident, the plaintiffs’ attorney filed a claim for damages against LASPD. The attorney obtained the complaint form from the LASPD website. The plaintiffs later filed a personal injury case against LASPD. Once the case was filed, certain information was passed, including the name of the officer responsible for the accident as well as the name of the government organization that owned the vehicle, the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD). The plaintiffs then amended their complaint to add LAUSD.

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Despite the efforts of the state and federal governments to curb intoxicated driving, drunk and drugged driving account for a large percentage of the overall traffic deaths caused by California car accidents. Indeed, according to the Center for Disease Control, between the years of 2003 and 2012, over 10,000 Californians lost their lives in car accidents involving an intoxicated driver.

Nighttime HighwayResearch conducted over the past several decades has confirmed what most Californians already knew – that driving in an intoxicated state greatly reduces judgment and reaction time. This has led the state’s lawmakers to enact a strict set of penalties for drunk drivers. In California, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater. Similarly, motorists are prohibited from driving while they are under the influence of any drug or medication – even if the medication is lawfully prescribed. This includes marijuana.

When a motorist causes an accident due to their intoxication, they may be subject to both criminal and civil liability. Criminal cases are brought by the State of California, and while there may be some restitution ordered as a result of a criminal case, compensating a victim of a California DUI accident is not necessarily the goal of a criminal trial. Accident victims seeking compensation for their injuries should file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the allegedly drunk driver.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case requiring the court to determine which state’s law applied to the case. While the opinion is from a Georgia court, the choice-of-law issue is one that could potentially arise in any California car accident case.

Insurance ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was formerly a Georgia resident who was attending school in California. Prior to leaving for California, the plaintiff’s parents bought her a car. The car was licensed and insured in Georgia.

One day, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident that she claimed was caused by the other driver’s negligence. The plaintiff settled her claim with the other driver and executed a general release of liability pursuant to the negotiations between the parties. However, the plaintiff claimed that her injuries exceeded the amount she recovered from the other driver, so she filed a claim with her own insurance company under the underinsured motorist provision.

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Earlier this month, the state’s supreme court issued a written opinion in a California premises liability case brought by a man who was seriously injured as he was crossing the road from an off-site parking lot to the defendant church. The case required the court to determine whether the church owed the plaintiff a duty of care to prevent the type of injury he sustained. Ultimately, the court concluded that the church did not owe the plaintiff a duty.

Busy RoadThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was planning on attending an evening service at the defendant church. As the plaintiff arrived at the church, he was directed to an overflow parking lot across a five-lane highway. When he pulled into the parking lot, he found a parking spot and exited his vehicle.

The plaintiff needed to cross the street to get to the church. However, the parking attendant did not tell the plaintiff that the church had volunteers stationed at the intersection about 100 feet away. Rather than walk to the nearest intersection, the plaintiff attempted to cross the street mid-block. As he was navigating the five-lane highway, he was struck by a passing motorist.

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Among all the types of accidents that occur on California highways, none are more serious than head-on accidents that occur on the highway. Not only do these California car accidents present a grave risk that someone will be seriously injured or killed, but also they are puzzling because highways are commonly divided, and traffic traveling in opposite directions is normally separated by thick concrete barriers.

Wrong Way SignIndeed, most California wrong-way accidents that occur on that state’s freeways involve a driver getting on the highway going the wrong direction. Of course, anyone who has driven in Southern California knows that highway on- and off-ramps are well marked, making the possibility of a mistake fairly low. However, the fact remains that dozens of motorists each year negligently cause wrong-way accidents. Most of these drivers are intoxicated.

Earlier this week, four people died in two separate wrong-way car accidents, one in Porter Ranch and the other in Baldwin Park. In each of the accidents, a driver was traveling in the opposite lane of travel for some distance before smashing into the other vehicle. One of the accidents was preceded by numerous phone calls to California Highway Patrol, warning them about the wrong-way driver. According to a local news report covering the two fatal accidents, drugs and alcohol were suspected to be a factor in at least one of the accidents.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a California car accident case requiring the court to discuss whether the lower court was proper to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim in a pre-trial motion for summary judgment. The lower court based its decision to dismiss the case on its finding that the defendant did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care. Ultimately, on appeal, the court concluded that the defendant may have owed the plaintiff a duty of care, and therefore it reversed the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

Traffic LightThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident when the vehicle in which she was traveling entered an intersection during a power outage and was struck by another motorist. At the time of the collision, the traffic light was not illuminated despite the fact that the traffic light had a back-up battery power source.

The defendant was a private company that was contracted by the city to perform the necessary maintenance on the back-up battery systems in all of the city’s traffic lights. Evidently, earlier in the year, the back-up battery system in the traffic light at the intersection where the accident occurred was failing to hold a charge. The defendant eventually installed a new battery pack in the light in August. However, a new battery was not placed in the unit, so the light was left without a functioning back-up power source.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a California car accident case involving the allegedly negligent acts of an employee and whether his employer could be held liable for the wrongful death of the plaintiffs’ loved one. After discussing the doctrine of respondeat superior and applying it to the facts of the case, the court ultimately determined that the employer could not legally be responsible for the employee’s actions. Specifically, the court noted that the “going and coming” rule precluded liability because the employee was traveling to work when the accident occurred.

Golden Gate BridgeThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of a woman who was killed when the vehicle in which she was riding was struck by another driver while crossing the San Mateo Bridge. The other driver was employed by the defendant.

On the day of the accident, at around 3:30 a.m., the employee was driving to work in San Francisco when he struck the vehicle carrying the plaintiffs’ loved one. The employee worked the night shift, which began at 7 p.m., and it was undisputed that this trip to work was not for the employee’s regular shift.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a California workers’ compensation case requiring the court to determine if an employee’s misdemeanor conviction for workers’ compensation fraud per se precluded him from recovering benefits for his injury. The court concluded that the employee may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, notwithstanding the fraudulent conduct, if there is independent evidence of a compensable injury.

Car DealershipThe Facts of the Case

The claimant was an employee at a car dealership. One day, while on the job, the employee slammed his hand in the trunk of a vehicle. No bones were broken, but the employee was unable to continue work due to the pain in his hand and shoulder. The employee filed a workers’ compensation claim.

For four years, the employee received workers’ compensation benefits and also was provided with medical care. However, the evidence suggested that the employee was not entirely receptive to the medical treatment provided and would at times refuse to allow the doctors to examine him or perform certain exercises on his hand. Notwithstanding his lack of cooperation, the employee was treated with opioid painkillers.

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Earlier this month, a California appellate court issued a written opinion in an employment discrimination case involving the validity of an arbitration clause. The case is relevant to California nursing home abuse victims who may have signed an arbitration agreement prior to their injury, and who believe that the defendant may assert arbitration as a defense.

ContractWhat Is an Arbitration Clause?

An arbitration clause is a contractual term by which the parties agree to settle a dispute through binding arbitration rather than through the court system. In theory, arbitration can present benefits to both sides, including decreased cost of litigation and quicker resolution of claims. However, in effect, arbitration clauses are often written to favor the party that writes them.

Issues involving arbitration agreements commonly arise in some California personal injury cases. Cases alleging California nursing home abuse or neglect very frequently involve an arbitration agreement because nursing homes usually include these agreements in the pre-admission contract that must be signed before care is provided.

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