When it comes to car accident insurance, there are two kinds of systems: fault and no-fault. Each state has its own laws, and those laws can impact your car accident claim. So what about California? Is California a no-fault state?
The simple answer is no. California is a fault state, meaning that in order to recover damages from a car accident, you have to prove that someone was at fault. Below, we explain the difference between the fault and no-fault systems, and what you have to do in order to obtain compensation. To learn more, contact Russell & Lazarus APC today.
What Is a No-Fault State?
In the United States, 12 states follow the no-fault system, which has the following characteristics:
- Fault takes lower precedence to personal protection. This means that even if you are not at fault in an accident, you are responsible for recovering your losses, typically through your insurance company.
- You are responsible for clearing all medical bills and any other financial losses (like damage to property), incurred in the accident.
- Accordingly, no-fault states generally make it mandatory for licensed car owners to insure themselves with PIP (Personal Injury Protection) in order to cover potential accident costs.
But fault states have a different approach to determining legal compensation for the victim.
What Is a Fault State?
The majority of states, including California, follow a fault system (also called tort system).
- The party at fault is responsible for losses incurred during the accident. If the fault is shared, the responsibility for recovering damages is also shared.
- This means that if you want to extract the money from your insurance company, or sue for losses incurred in the accident, you may need to get an attorney involved early. An effective attorney can help you prove that the other party was at fault at least to some extent, and contributed to your personal injury. They will assist you with a police report, details of your insurance coverage, and a thorough legal investigation as needed.
- Once the state validates your claim on the other party’s fault, the at-fault party will be legally directed to cover your losses, based on their share of involvement in causing the accident.
California Has a Pure Comparative Negligence System
As discussed above, the answer to the question “Is California a no-fault state?” is no. But there’s more to it than whether or not the system is fault or no-fault. California also follows a “Pure Comparative Negligence” system.
Under this system, even if you are 99 percent at fault for the accident that caused your personal injury, and the other party is only one percent responsible, you can still recover damages to the extent of one percent.
For this reason, you should work with a knowledgeable attorney to protect your legal interests. We have an in-depth understanding of California’s laws pertaining to proving fault in accidents. We can to advise you with the best legal steps forward to obtain maximum compensation.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
A car accident lawyer can help you gather evidence to substantiate your claim and increase your chances of recovering damages.
- Proof of financial responsibility: California law mandates drivers to have adequate accident coverage at all times. Your attorney can review your present insurance conditions, and suggest the best way forward for claiming compensation.
- Police report: While this is important to your case, it may not always be enough to absolve you of any fault for the accident. Your attorney can suggest additional methods to gain evidence favorable to your case.
- Video footage, photos, testimony from eyewitnesses: This type of evidence can significantly strengthen your case.
- Obtaining compensation: Whether it is claiming compensation from your insurance company, or from the other party, your attorney can recommend the best way to maximize damage recovery.
Schedule a Consultation With Russell & Lazarus APC
For answers to more questions like “Is California a no-fault state?” speak to a car accident attorney at Russell & Lazarus APC today. We may be able to help you receive compensation for your injuries.
Orange County Fault Car Insurance
Like many states, California has a fault car insurance system. If you were injured by a negligent driver in Orange County, you might have a lot of questions about filing a claim and your right to compensation. While the value of your claim depends on circumstances surrounding the accident and the strength of your evidence, there are some fault car insurance basics that apply to most claims. Learn more about our fault-based system below.
What Is Fault Car Insurance?
A fault car insurance policy only covers accident-related expenses if you caused the accident and the injuries. For example, suppose another driver hits your car after running a red light and gets a ticket. At the time of the accident, you were following all of California’s traffic laws and could not have avoided the accident. In this situation, the other driver is at fault — and his or her insurance policy should cover your medical expenses, property damage, and other expenses. If you were at fault for an accident, your insurance policy should cover both your claim and the claims of others involved in the crash.
Before you can receive compensation for your injuries, you must file a timely claim with the correct insurance company. At Russell & Lazarus, we understand that the insurance claim process can feel overwhelming — especially when you recovering from serious injuries. A personal injury lawyer might help you:
- Identify the relevant insurance companies,
- File claim paperwork,
- Identify evidence supporting your claim, and
- File a lawsuit.
Contact us for more information today.
California’s Insurance Coverage Requirements
California requires that all drivers carry a minimum level of fault auto insurance coverage.
- $15,000 for the injury or death of someone who was not at-fault (such as another driver, passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist),
- $30,000 for accidents involving two or more people, and
- $5,000 in property damage coverage.
Once the insurance company reaches the policy limit, it will no longer cover the claim. Unfortunately, California’s minimum insurance requirements will not fully cover serious or catastrophic injuries. And, if the other driver is uninsured, you might be unable to collect against the driver.
For this reason, we encourage all our friends and clients to purchase robust auto insurance policies, including uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you have questions about your policy and legal rights, contact Russell & Lazarus for more information.
How Do I Prove Fault After a Car Accident?
Most car accident claims involve negligence. To prove negligence, you must show:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care,
- The driver violated this duty of care,
- The violation caused your injuries, and
- You suffered actual damages.
While this might sound like a simple analysis, auto negligence claims can quickly become complicated.
Insurance companies are for-profit companies. They are therefore constantly looking for reasons to deny fault car insurance claims and cut their costs. For example, the fault car insurance company might deny your claim if there is:
- Evidence suggesting that you had pre-existing injuries,
- A factual dispute about who caused the accident, or
- Disagreement about the extent of your damages.
If the insurance company denies your claim — or gives you the runaround — contact a fault car insurance attorney at Russell & Lazarus immediately.
What Is Comparative Fault?
Sometimes, multiple drivers cause or contribute to an accident. California is a comparative fault or comparative negligence state. In other words, you are liable for your percentage of fault. Therefore, if you were 50% responsible for the accident, your insurance company must pay 50% of the damages (up to your policy limits). However, insurance companies frequently try to manipulate comparative fault percentages to minimize their liability. If you need help understanding how California’s comparative fault laws apply in your claim, contact us for a free consultation.
Discuss Your Claim With an Orange County Fault Car Insurance Lawyer
If you need help filing a fault car insurance claim or lawsuit, schedule a free evaluation with one of our personal injury lawyers. Since 1998, Russell & Lazarus has exclusively represented Orange County residents in accident-related claims. We look forward to speaking with you.
How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident in California
Because car accidents can cause serious injuries and even death, determining fault is crucial. At a minimum, you need to know enough about how to determine fault in a car accident to hold the at-fault driver responsible. This is true even if you only have to worry about damages to your car.
Finger-pointing isn’t enough. You need to move forward with determination and solid knowledge of the law. You also need to know who determines fault.
The Importance of the Police Report
If possible, do not leave the scene of a car accident, even a minor one, before the police arrive. You need them there to start the investigation process and to tell them your side of the story. When you believe the accident is the other driver’s fault, this is critical.
The only exception is when you’re severely injured. Let EMTs do their jobs and take you to the hospital; you can deal with the rest later. This situation is not ideal, but your life is more important.
The final report may or may not include a statement of who was at fault. However, if the police issue a citation against the other driver for any reason, their insurance company will be more likely to settle. Citations and criminal charges — especially DUIs — are important factors in the police officer’s decision on how to determine fault in a car accident.
Who Else Can Determine Fault?
You can count on a police report’s accuracy most of the time, but sometimes they get it wrong. This happens most often when you can’t speak for yourself at the time of the accident — for instance, because you’ve already been taken to a hospital. The same is true if the victim (for example, one of your family members) dies at the scene. If that’s the case, the police have limited information, and unfortunately, people tend to lie to protect themselves.
While the police report is important, the officer was not at the scene of the accident, only the aftermath. Their word is not automatically law. If you think the police report is in error, hire a good law firm that has its own investigators who will reconstruct the accident scene and talk to witnesses, police, and EMTs. If their investigators find the police were wrong, they’ll fight it out with the at-fault driver’s insurance company — in court, if necessary.
Beware of Insurance Investigators
The other driver’s insurance company will have its own ideas about how to determine fault in a car accident. Don’t expect them to just settle if they think you may be even slightly at fault. They may also send out investigators to the scene to reconstruct the accident. If they decide their driver wasn’t at fault, even though your evidence and even police evidence says otherwise, expect to see them in court.
This may happen even if they decide their driver was at fault, if they can pin part of the fault on you. If they can prove even a little negligence on your part, they’ll lower any settlement offer — a lot. Then you’ll definitely have to file a lawsuit to obtain decent compensation.
What Might Constitute Negligence on My Part?
The most common negligence accusations include:
- Aggressive driving.
- Breaking traffic laws.
- Distracted driving.
- Poor auto maintenance.
Some insurance companies may even blame other factors rather than admit fault. Common “outside” claims include defective auto parts (the fault of whoever sold the other driver their car) and bad roads (the government’s fault).
Can I Get Compensation If I’m Partly at Fault?
Yes, but it will be less than you would get if you were found completely not at fault. Investigators assign partial fault more often than you might think, especially in accidents involving three or more cars. But don’t assume you’ll have no luck in getting compensation. It’s possible to get a decent settlement from the insurance of the other driver(s). Realize, however, that they may seek a settlement from your insurance company as well.
Learn More About How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident
We’re experienced car accident attorneys who will be happy to answer your questions. Contact Russell & Lazarus APC today. Don’t lose out on potential compensation just because you don’t understand how to determine fault in a car accident.
Steps to Proving Fault in a Car Accident
After a car accident, you likely will almost immediately be concerned with figuring out who caused the collision. Since the at-fault party’s insurance company is the one that pays for injuries and property damage, this is a critical determination.
Sometimes, determining liability is simple. More often, however, proving fault in a car accident is challenging, due to confusing laws, unusual circumstances, and the possibility that both drivers share the blame.
Don’t try to deal with the process alone. At Russell & Lazarus APC, we can fight on your behalf and help you increase your chances of obtaining compensation. Contact us today.
How Can I Prove the Other Driver Was at Fault?
Proving fault in a car accident case can hinge on the little details. It’s best to do whatever possible to document the events that occurred that day. Focusing on the following can help establish liability:
Call the Police and File an Accident Report
After any car accident, call the police. The officer that responds will write an accident report, which will include pertinent information, including:
- The date and time of the accident
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- All parties’ contact and insurance information
- Both drivers’ accounts of the accident
- Statements and contact information from witnesses
- Explanations of property damage
- Explanations of injuries
- Traffic violations
In many cases, the officer also will indicate in the report whether anyone violated traffic laws or committed any other crimes. For example, the police may note that one driver smelled of alcohol or an open container was seen in a vehicle. In this situation, police may note that field sobriety tests were completed or that the person was sent for blood tests to determine whether he/she was driving under the influence.
If citations were issued, if anyone was placed under arrest, or the officer thought one of the driver’s acted recklessly, this also would be in the accident report. All of this evidence could be used to bolster a case, and prove which party was responsible for the crash. Be sure to request a copy of the report, which often can be picked up from the police station a few days after the accident.
Take Note of Where Vehicles Sustained Damaged
The location of the damage on a vehicle can be a key piece of evidence, showing how the accident occurred. For example, if a vehicle is struck while waiting to make a left-hand turn, it will have damage to the driver’s side. The striking vehicle will have front-end damage. In general, the driver making the left-hand turn would be found responsible. This is because laws require them to yield to oncoming traffic, which have the right of way. Exceptions would be if the vehicle that struck the turning vehicle was speeding or blew a red light.
Take Photos of the Accident Scene
A picture is worth a thousand words, and they can be invaluable in proving fault in a car accident. Before evidence gets destroyed or washed away, take photos of both vehicles and their damage. The shots should be taken at multiple angles, so nothing relevant is missed. Make sure to get images of the vehicles’ license plate and any other debris around the vehicle, such as falling bumpers. Snap photos of the inside of the vehicles, as well. Get up close shots of any broken equipment, shattered glass, deployed airbags, or blood stains. Also, take pictures that depict the weather conditions and unusual road conditions, such as potholes, as well as tire marks, and other property damage beyond the vehicles. Finally, get photos of any injuries. All of these images can help give a clearer picture of what happened and who is responsible.
Request Cell Phone Records
Distracted driving, which is engaging in any other activity that takes a motorist’s focus off the road, is the culprit in many car accidents. Specifically, texting, making a phone call, or looking at content on a smartphone have led to many collisions. If your accident occurred because a motorist was using a phone while driving, then the person’s phone provider can provide records of his/her use.
Unfortunately, a wireless provider cannot turn records over to a private citizen, even if the person was a victim in a car accident. However, an attorney can obtain this information, which may help prove liability.
Contact an Orange County Car Accident Lawyer
If you need help proving fault in a car accident case, Russell & Lazarus APC can help. Contact us today to learn more.
How Does Comparative Negligence Come Into Play With Both Drivers at Fault?
In many car accidents, determining who is at fault is often pretty cut and dry. But what happens when both drivers share responsibility for the collision? Can you still recover damages if you were partially to blame, or if multiple parties contributed to the accident?
The short answer is, yes, you can. You may still be able to collect damages under California’s comparative negligence system.
At Russell & Lazarus APC, we can help you wade through the legal system and seek compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to learn more about how an Orange County car accident lawyer can help.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence law allows both drivers at fault to collect damages for their injuries and losses. It aims to better assess and distribute liability among all parties.
In California, pure comparative negligence laws limit the amount of damages an individual may recover based on that person’s percentage of negligence, which led to the accident and resulting injuries in the case. This often comes into play in cases that involve multiple defendants, such as car accidents.
How the Court Determines Damages Based on Comparative Fault
In car accident cases with both drivers at fault, the court will determine the percentage of negligence of each party. In other words, if both drivers’ actions contributed to a car accident, the court would need to determine which percentage of damage each driver caused.
For example, let’s say the plaintiff’s damages totalled $100,000. If the court determines that the plaintiff caused 20% of the damage, then the defendant is deemed 80% at fault. Using these percentages, the plaintiff would be entitled to collect $80,000 from the defendant.
How does the court determine these percentages? It does so by considering the actions that led to the accident injuries, including:
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failing to follow traffic signs and signals
- Driving with a flat tire or broken tail light or brake light
The mental and physical states of the parties involved also help the court in determining negligence.
What If Multiple Defendants Contributed to the Accident?
When multiple defendants contributed to a car accident, they must share the responsibility of covering the innocent party’s financial damages.
How does that work? Well, let’s say Driver A was hit by two different drivers (Driver B and Driver C) in a case that incurs $100,000 in damages. Driver B is found 75% at fault, and Driver C is found 25% at fault.
In theory, Driver B should have to pay $75,000 in damages, while Driver C only has to pay $25,000. But in order to make it somewhat easier for Driver A to collect damages, the law makes it so that both Driver B and Driver C are both liable for the full amount of $100,000. The idea is that they can settle the amount between themselves later.
What Is Joint and Several Liability?
Though recovering damages from multiple defendants is possible, it can present its own challenges. So in order to make the process even simpler for plaintiffs, there is a limited form of joint and several liability that allows the plaintiff to recover damages from only one of the negligent parties. The one at-fault party can then seek contributions from the other responsible parties.
Joint and Several Liability Limits Damages
Though it seems like the simpler path for plaintiffs, joint and several liability in California significantly restricts the damages that may be collected. Only economic damages, such as medical treatment expenses or lost wages, may be collected. To receive economic damages, as well as non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, you must file a claim against each defendant separately.
You Can Still Collect Damages, Even If You Are Partially at Fault
The point is, under California’s comparative negligence laws, you may still be able to recover damages even if you or multiple parties were at fault for the accident. If you sustained injuries in an accident, an experienced injury attorney help you navigate California accident laws. An attorney can examine how comparative fault applies in your case and inform you of your options.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today
Determining Fault by Location of Damage in Car Accident Claims
When it comes to establishing car accident fault, massive dents in the hood, broken axles, or twisted frames may be significant in shedding light as to the circumstances that led up to the crash.
Determining fault by location of damage can help you in your claim for compensation. Along with speed, weather, toxicology reports, tire marks, and the backgrounds of drivers, the location of damage can be integral to your case.
At Russell & Lazarus APC, we can walk you through the legal process and help you recover compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to learn more about how an Orange County car accident lawyer can help.
How Vehicle Damage Can Tell a Story
The location of impact and vehicle damage can speak volumes about how the car accident occurred. Investigators and accident re-constructionists use a vehicle’s damage to trail back to where the accident may have begun.
There must be force for any two objects like vehicles to collide. Those who investigate crashes know that certain speeds and the direction a vehicle travels are likely to result in certain types of damage. In some cases, the damage gives the full picture of what caused the collision. Sometimes, it is not that simple. However, damage can help eliminate some causes for the accident. This may not seem helpful, but it is a good start. After certain causes are ruled out, other investigative tools and evidence may be used to conclude the cause and the party or parties at fault.
For example, let’s say someone rear-ended you. While your vehicle would have damage in the back, the other driver would have damage at the front of their vehicle. In most instances, the rear-ending driver is at fault.
However, let’s say your car has damage on your left passenger side and the other car has damage at the front of their care. Determining fault by location of damage would be difficult in this case. While chances are the damage occurred as you were turning left and the other car hit you, that still doesn’t paint a complete picture. Who had the right of way? Did someone run a red light? That’s why the location of damage is simply one piece of the entire puzzle.
Preserve Evidence of the Damage
Whether the location of vehicle damage ends up being important or not, it is best to assume that it matters. Preserve the evidence by taking these steps:
- Call Police to the Scene: If the accident resulted in death or injuries, even minor ones, California law requires you to file a written report about the accident with police or the state highway patrol. This is not required if the police come to the scene because the responding officer will write a report. Additionally, if a crash resulted in property damage of more than $750, it must be reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the incident.
- Take Pictures of the Damage of Both Vehicles: When taking pictures of both vehicles, be sure to get views from many different angles. Make sure some pictures include the other driver’s license plate number. If the other driver is uncooperative and unwilling to provide contact information, police will be able to locate the owner of the vehicle with the plate number. Also, take pictures of any vehicle debris, property damage, weather conditions, skid marks, or anything else relevant at the scene. Skid marks, for example, indicate a vehicle slid or spun on the roadway’s surface.
- Get Contact Information of Witnesses: Accident witnesses can make or break a case. Many times, liability comes down to one driver’s word over another. Witnesses can clear up any inconsistencies.
Mechanics and Accident Reconstructionists Can Help Fill in the Missing Pieces
In addition to photos, other alternative methods, like talking to experts, can assist in determining fault by location of damage to a vehicle. Mechanics and auto body technicians understand car damage, what causes it, and likely have seen the results of car accidents. Mechanics can examine vehicles, give comprehensive lists of repairs, and estimate the costs. This also can provide insight into what caused the accident.
When you work with attorneys, they may turn to accident reconstructionists for their expertise. They use physics and technology to recreate accidents. A reconstructionist conducts an in-depth analysis of the scene, consults with witnesses, and considers contributing factors, like:
- Steering angles
- Use of lights
- Engine rpm (rotations per minute)
- Use of cruise control
Accident re-constructionists can be called as expert witnesses in court, which is why attorneys look to them for their expertise.
Contact an Orange County Car Accident Attorney to Learn More
Rear-End Collision Fault: If You Rear-End Someone Is It Always Your Fault?
When it comes to rear-end accidents, most people assume that the guy in back is always at fault. But is that always the case? The truth is, both the rear driver and lead driver could because of a rear-end crash, and determining liability depends on a variety of factors.
Below, we explain what factors determine rear-end collision fault, and what you should do if you were involved in a rear-end accident. To learn more about how to determine fault in a car accident, contact Russell & Lazarus APC today.
When Does Rear-End Collision Fault Fall on the Rear Driver?
Fault in rear-end collisions isn’t automatic. For example, let’s say you rear-ended someone, but there were factors beyond your control that contributed to the accident. The driver in front of you may have stopped short, or you tried to stop but your brakes wouldn’t work, or there was ice on the road. Whatever the case may be, if you took the proper precautions to avoid the accident, the court may find you only partially at fault for the accident.
As the rear driver, you will be held liable for a rear-end collision if you were negligent — meaning that you failed to meet a reasonable standard of care. When drivers step behind a steering wheel, they have a duty to do whatever they can to protect the people around them, including other drivers and pedestrians. The following are some examples of when the rear driver may not have been exercising proper standard of care:
- Not paying attention to the road
- Driving over the speed limit
- Losing control of the vehicle
- Not using turn signals properly
- Following the vehicle ahead too closely
While the above situations may be used as proof you were at fault for a rear-end collision, the lead driver must still prove the following:
- Your negligence caused the accident.
- The accident caused damage either to the vehicle and/or to anyone inside of it.
When Does Rear-End Collision Fault Fall on the Lead Driver?
Rear-end collision fault can go both ways. For example, let’s say the situation was reversed and you were the lead driver, and someone rear-ended you. You may still be at fault (at least partially) even if the guy in back did the rear-ending. These are some scenarios where this may be the case. The lead driver:
- Reversed without notice
- Didn’t use proper signaling before making a turn and slows down or stops suddenly
- Had brake lights that were not functioning properly
- had a vehicle that wasn’t operating safely, and he or she continued to drive without engaging the hazard lights
In the above scenarios, it’s possible that despite having adequate distance between both vehicles, the rear driver wasn’t able stop in time.
So what can you do if you were involved in a rear-end car accident?
California Has a Pure Comparative Negligence System
Pure comparative negligence comes into play in rear-end collision situations in which both parties did not exercise an adequate level of care. How much fault each party had in the accident determines liability.
For instance, if you rear-ended a vehicle because the lead driver stopped short, you may only be 60% liable for the accident. The other driver may be 40% liable. If the other driver has $10,000 in damages, he can only collect 60% of that amount or $6,000. In turn, if you have $5,000 in damages, you may only collect 40% of that amount from him.
It’s Possible to Reduce Liability in a Rear-End Collision Case
It’s possible to reduce your liability in a rear-end collision case, but it’s not easy. You must prove the other driver was at fault for it as much as you were (or more) for the accident.
Many people believe they can handle an accident case on their own, or they decide to let the insurance company deal with it. This isn’t in your best interest. It’s imperative to gather enough evidence against the other driver to show he was negligent to reduce your liability. It can be difficult to do this when you don’t know exactly what you need to show the court. In addition, insurance companies only consider their best interests. They simply want to save money and pay out as little money as possible, which may not always align with what you need for your case.
That’s why it’s important to have an experienced car accident attorney on your side.
Contact an Experienced Accident Attorney to Learn More About Establishing Rear-End Collision Fault
Who is at fault in a California rear-end accident?
In almost all cases, the person who struck the rear of the car in a rear-end car accident is at fault for the crash. Very simply, traffic laws state all drivers should stop safely when the car in front of them slows down or comes to a stop, regardless of the situation. As Orange County auto accident lawyers, we understand that all cases are different.
However, there are some limited situations in which the striking driver is not at fault. For example, if you are in a vehicle which was struck from behind and that collision caused your vehicle to strike the car in front of you, you may not be at fault for that accident. You should hire an Orange County auto accident lawyers in such cases.
California Law on rear-end accidents
It is important to understand that California uses the comparative negligence system. This means the court understands that a driver can be partially at fault for an accident, and an injured victim may claim a percentage of damages based on what their exact involvement was in the crash. For example, if you rear-ended a car, but the other driver was drunk or suddenly swerved into your lane in front of you, you could still attempt to file an injury claim.
Contact the Orange County Auto Accident Lawyer
After a rear-end accident in California and a serious injury, you may want to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney even if you have been told that the accident was your fault. The experienced Orange County auto accident lawyers at Russell & Lazarus can review the details of your case to help you determine whether you could be eligible for compensation. To schedule your free, confidential case evaluation, call our office today, toll-free at (800) 268-9228.
REAR-END COLLISIONS, COMPENSATION, AND LIABILITY
Rear-end collisions range from minor accidents involving no injury to major accidents involving serious injuries. But even with the most minor accidents, it can be a nuisance to obtain compensation. Not only should you be compensated for your injuries and damages to your vehicle, but also to your property, such as an infant or child car seat (car seats are required to be replaced even in minor accidents not involving any injuries).
INFORMATION AND EVIDENCE
The first thing you should do if you’re involved in a rear-end collision is to obtain the other driver’s identification and insurance information, and report it to your insurance company.
Afterward, photographs of the damages sustained to your vehicle and to the other party’s vehicle will prove valuable to a Newport Beach car accident lawyer. Not only will this reveal the extent of the damages sustained to the exterior of the vehicle, but will also provide insight on other aspects of the accident, including the point of impact and the speed at which the vehicles were traveling. To a Newport Beach car accident lawyer, the damages depicted in the photographs will also provide persuasive evidence pertaining to the plausibility of the gravity of your injuries caused by the rear-end collision.
INVESTIGATION AND POLICE REPORTS
If and when law enforcement becomes involved, they will conduct a thorough investigation of the scene. This will involve interviewing the drivers of the vehicles involved in the rear-end collision, along with any witnesses who may be present at the accident scene. The police offer’s findings and conclusion will be submitted through a police report. A Newport Beach car accident lawyer will immediately obtain the police report and the information it contains.
Should any injuries occur, seek medical attention immediately, even if the symptoms are as minor as neck pain due to whiplash. In doing so, you are simultaneously trying to heal from your injuries as well as verifying their extent. This is helpful because insurance companies may dispute your injuries and ask you to undergo an independent medical examination to determine the validity of your injuries. Because the insurance company does this through an independent medical examiner, the medical opinion will likely be more beneficial to them than to you.
Accidents seem minor when they happen to other people. But if you were in a crash, you know that the worst injuries are not always immediately apparent. Whiplash, for example, can cause internal damage that leads to chronic pain or disability due to damage to the neck and spine. Certain risk factors increase the odds you’ll suffer whiplash. Learn what they are below from a Newport Beach Car Accident Lawyer:
A Newport Beach car accident attorney will ensure you don’t get cheated out of the compensation you are due by the insurance companies. Contact Russell & Lazarus APC now for help with evaluating your claim. Call today at (949) 851-0222.
How to Determine Parking Lot Accident Fault
Most drivers do not anticipate getting into an accident in a parking lot. The good news is that these types of accidents typically aren’t very serious, since cars are usually moving at lower speeds in parking lots. The bad news, however, is that since cars are going in every direction, it’s difficult to determine parking lot accident fault.
Since these types of accidents tend to be low impact and often do not require a police report, it is up to each driver to work on building a case for their side. Like all accidents, it is important to take speed, visibility, and each vehicle’s right-of-way into consideration. At Russell & Lazarus APC, we can help you navigate the claims process after a parking lot accident.
Right of Way Rules in the Parking Lot
Most drivers are aware of parking lot rules — such as cutting through parking spaces, driving too fast, not giving thoroughfare lanes the right of way, and stopping in the feeder lane if you are approaching a thoroughfare lane.
What are thoroughfare and feeder lanes?
- Thoroughfare lane: main lanes that lead to either the entrance or the exit.
- Feeder lane: lanes that link thoroughfare lanes and which often lead to parking spots.
So what scenarios could lead to parking lot accidents, and who is most likely at fault?
How to Determine Parking Lot Accident Fault
Cars Backing Into Each Other
If two cars back into each other while pulling out a spot, neither of them have the right of way. This means each driver is responsible for their vehicle’s movements. Most likely, both drivers will share the fault for this type of accident since everyone is responsible for watching their surroundings while backing out of a parking space.
Collision in the Feeder Lane After Driving Through an Empty Space
Cars in the feeder lane of a parking lot always have the right of way. Cars that hit a vehicle in the feeder lane while racing through parking spots will most likely be found liable for the accident. Still, it is the responsibility of both drivers to be observant while moving through the parking lot.
Backing Into a Passing Car
A car that backs up into a vehicle in the feeder lane will probably be more liable for the accident. Cars in the feeder land always have the right of way. Vehicles who are backing out of a spot have an obligation to watch for other cars while moving.
Collision in the Same Parking Space
Two cars that collide while trying to move into the same space presents a tricky situation for insurance companies. Both drivers most likely have some fault, but the right of way will depend on the situation. For example, a car who is crossing traffic lanes to turn into a spot has a greater chance of being held liable for the accident. With this type of collision, responsibility will be determined after figuring out the point of impact, each car’s speed, and how far the vehicles made it into the spot.
Rear-Ending at a Stop Sign
The car at the stop sign would not be held at fault since it was not moving. Even if the front car suddenly slammed on the brakes before the sign, a driver following behind should be maintaining enough space between the vehicles.
What to Do After a Parking Lot Accident
Police are often not called to the scene of a parking lot accident. This means you must take the initiative after the accident to collect important information for your case. Be sure to exchange insurance information with the other driver, take photographs of each vehicle and any damage, and try to get contact details from any witnesses.
The more information you are able to get, the stronger your insurance claim will be. Make sure to speak with your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident so the claims process can start.
We Can Help Determine Who Was at Fault in a Parking Lot Accident
At Russell & Lazarus APC, we know that establishing parking lot accident fault can be tricky. We can help you through a car accident claim and advocate on your behalf if you choose to go to court. Contact us today to speak to an experienced Orange County car accident lawyer.
Left Turn Accident: Is the Car Making a Left Turn Always at Fault?
About 40% of all car accidents are intersection accidents, and a large number of those are left turn accidents. Most drivers who turn left into oncoming traffic and get into an accident almost always get at least some of the blame, but they’re not always at fault.
If you believe you’re not really at fault for your left turn car accident — or not entirely — you may be right. We can help you clarify that issue. Let’s take a look at the relevant laws and regulations concerning left turns in the state of California.
What Are California’s Right-of-Way Rules?
State law makes it very clear that anyone making a left turn must yield the right-of-way to any oncoming cars deemed to be close enough to be hazardous. According to California Vehicle Code 21801, this applies to everything from intersections and highways to turning into parking lots or private property, to leaving the same — until “the left turn… can be made with reasonable safety.”
What comprises “reasonable safety” is left to your discretion, which leaves you wide open to liability in most situations. The authorities and insurers may assume you didn’t practice reasonable safety if your turn resulted in an accident. But you do have legal recourse if you can convince them the accident was at least partially caused by the other driver or other factors.
When You Are Not at Fault in a Left Turn Car Accident
Assuming you can prove it, you can be cleared of causing a left turn car accident under specific circumstances. For example, you’re not necessarily at fault if:
- You were turning on a green turn arrow, and the other driver didn’t yield the right-of-way.
- The traffic signal was malfunctioning in such a way that the other driver was unaware you had the right-of-way.
- The other driver:
- ran a red light or stop sign.
- was driving while intoxicated.
- wasn’t there when you started your turn, because they were speeding.
- was texting or otherwise distracted.
- was driving without a valid license.
- Something you didn’t expect, like an animal crossing the road, bad road conditions, or the person turning ahead of you braking suddenly caused you to slow your vehicle as you made the turn.
While the last point may be arguable, don’t discount such contributions to the accident.
Assigning Fault to the Other Driver — or Other Causes
If someone or something else was to blame for your car accident, the burden of proof is on you. You may be able to prove fault by hiring legal experts, including experienced car accident attorneys. When you do, the accident’s police report may be your most valuable piece of evidence, as the officer would have recorded their opinions of fault, as well as the condition or actions of the other driver.
Your legal team can also:
- Interview the officer(s) who authored the report, as well as other authorities at the scene (e.g., paramedics or firemen).
- Interview eyewitnesses from the scene of the accident.
- Collect photographic evidence showing the geography of the road and intersection, natural hazards, damage to both vehicles, skid marks, etc.
- Review photo and video evidence if there was a traffic camera at the intersection.
- Have a professional reconstruct the accident, creating a credible fault scenario.
- Ask for the other driver’s cell phone records to check whether they were distracted.
What Is Comparative Liability?
In California, drivers can share fault for an accident. This is called comparative liability. Suppose the other driver was found to be 100% at fault, and you received $100,000 in compensatory damages. But if a judge found you 40% at fault, with the other driver 60% at fault, they would reduce the reward by 40% to $60,000, or 60% of $100,000. The other driver can also ask for damages since the judge deemed you 40% at fault, but the reward would be reduced by 60%. So even if you’re found partially at fault, you can still seek damages!
Have You Suffered a Left Turn Accident? Contact Us
At Russell & Lazarus APC, we’re recognized experts in all aspects of California car accident law, including the laws covering left turn car accidents. If you live in the Orange County area and need help dealing with your left turn car accident, call us today.
How to Determine Side Swipe Collision Fault
Car accidents can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining. And trying to establish who is at fault for a crash often makes things even more difficult. This is especially true when it comes to side swipe accident cases.
If you were in a side swipe accident, an Orange County car accident lawyer at Russell & Lazarus APC can help. Below, we explain what factors affect side swipe collision fault, and how an attorney can help ensure you receive compensation for your injuries. Contact our firm today to learn more.
What Is the Difference Between Side Swipe Accidents and T-Bone Crashes?
Side swipe car accidents often occur when two vehicles are traveling in the same direction on a roadway, and one vehicle’s right side hits the left side of the other motor vehicle. In many cases, this occurs when one of the vehicles attempts to make a lane change.
A side swipe accident differs from a T-bone crash in that it is not a direct hit to the middle of the vehicle. In a side swipe crash, the impact occurs at an angle. In general, T-bone accidents happen at intersections, and they result in one vehicle’s front end striking another directly in the middle. When the two vehicles impact, they look like a “T.”
In most T-bone accidents, the driver of the vehicle that strikes the other vehicle is considered the at-fault party. Establishing side swipe collision fault, however is much more complex.
What Factors Influence Side Swipe Collision Fault?
A driver could be at fault for the accident if they engaged in the following types of behaviors:
- Moving into another lane of travel without checking blind spots
- Weaving between two lanes of travel
- Failing to use a turn signal, as required
- Aggressive driving
- Driving over a solid line
- Failing to yield
- Driving while using drugs or alcohol
- Failing to leave enough room between vehicles
If a driver did not violate any of the traffic laws, they may still be at fault if the person was engaged in distracted driving. Distracted driving is when a motorist does something other than drive and pay attention to the road. Examples of distracted driving include:
- Texting, making a call, or reading news on a smartphone
- Eating or drinking
- Changing radio stations, using a GPS device, or adjusting the air conditioning
- Driving while fatigued
- Putting on make-up
- Watching an accident or something else happening on the road
- Talking to a passenger
Sometimes, a vehicle defect, such as brake failure, can lead to a side swipe accident as well. If a car’s brakes failed while a driver attempted to change lanes, fault could fall on the vehicle manufacturer. Manufacturers or repair shops also could be at fault if the accident occurred due to faulty suspensions or if one of the vehicle’s tires blew out due to its treads separating.
Understanding Side Swipe Collision Fault With Examples
Determining fault in a car accident is crucial because the person responsible is the one who is responsible for paying for damages. In some cases, one driver is 100% at fault. In other cases, fault may be split 50/50 between the two parties.
Let’s say one person is responsible for 75%, and the other responsible for 25%. The driver who is 75% at fault would be responsible for 75% of the damages, and the other driver would be responsible for the rest. Since California is a comparative negligence state, drivers can recover damages from another motorist even if the person is responsible for a small percentage of fault for the collision.
For example, if a driver crossed a center line and sideswipes a vehicle that is traveling legally, the striking vehicle would be at fault. If both vehicles were trying to changes lanes at the same time and didn’t check their blind spots and they collided, both drivers would share the blame.
However, side swipe collision fault is often confusing, which is why the legal knowledge of an experienced car accident attorney can prove invaluable. A lawyer can guide you through the process, offer support, and help gather evidence that supports your case.
Contact an Orange County Car Accident Attorney Today
To learn more about how to determine side swipe collision fault, contact a car accident lawyer at Russell & Lazarus APC today.
How Is Left Turn Collision Fault Determined?
Left turn accidents are pretty common on roadways, especially in the congested parts of California’s cities. In most cases, the driver at fault is the one was making the left turn. This is because the car driving straight typically has the right of way. But establishing left turn collision isn’t always so cut and dry.
Who Is at Fault for a Left Turn Accident?
Left turn collision fault is usually determined by the location of damage on the vehicles. While either driver can be held accountable for the crash, there are a few situations where one driver might be found more liable.
Making a Left Turn in Front of Another Car
Most left turn collisions occur when one motorist is going straight and another driver makes a left turn in front. This often causes the car going straight to swerve out of the way. If the damage to the non-turning motorist was on the left side or front corner of their vehicle, this can serve as evidence that they tried to avoid the collision.
If the damage to the turning vehicle is at the rear right corner, this may be evidence that the driver going straight wasn’t paying attention to traffic and may have caused the accident.
Yielding the Right of Way Prior to Turning
While motorists who are turning left must yield to other drivers, they are only responsible for yielding a reasonable right of way. A car that is going straight and runs a red light or is speeding — and subsequently hits a car trying to make a left turn — could be at least partially at fault for the accident.
In some situations, the car driving straight could be cleared of liability if there were circumstances that made it difficult for them to obey traffic laws. For example, if the traffic light was malfunctioning or there was another anomaly, like an animal crossing the road, the straight-driving car might be able to argue for reduced fault if they are able to prove their claim.
What Should I Do After a Left Turn Accident?
After a left turn collision, you will want to get a copy of the police report for the accident. Officers usually write down their opinions of fault, or will at least note the actions and condition of other motorists. Taking the time to interview accident witnesses and taking photographs of any damage to vehicles could strengthen your case. An experienced car accident lawyer may be able to get access to an intersection’s traffic camera to review the photo and video footage.
California’s Comparative Negligence System
Car accident cases are based on the concept of negligence. The law distributes left turn collision fault based on who was more negligent in the accident. California has a comparative negligence system, which assigns each party a degree of fault after an accident.
This percentage corresponds to a reduction in any received claims. For example, if you were deemed to be 30% responsible for a left turn collision, any settlement or judgment will be reduced by 30%. This means drivers who were almost totally responsible for an accident still could recover settlement money.
There are a few ways you can prove negligence in a car accident:
- Defendant owed reasonable care for the safety of another
- Defendant did not act reasonably. This might be a driver who was speeding, driving recklessly, or ran a red light before getting into a crash
- Defendant knew their recklessness would cause injury
- If a plaintiff suffered any injuries and is eligible to recover damages
Learn More About Establishing Left Turn Collision Fault
Whether you were hit by a car turning left, or you were the driver who was turning left, an experienced Orange County car accident attorney can help you establish liability. It’s important to have expert legal counsel to prove that you were not at fault, and to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. At Russell & Lazarus APC, we can guide you through the claims process, help you collect evidence, and develop a comprehensive legal strategy. Call us today to learn more about our services.
How Is 3 Car Accident Fault Determined in Pile Up Wrecks?
Getting into an accident can be a scary affair if you happen to suffer an injury or experience heavy vehicle damage. And while navigating through the insurance process after an accident can cause a lot of headaches, trying to figure out what to do after a 3 car pile up can be even more confusing.
Three-car accidents can lead to a lot of hassle over liability because it might not be immediately clear who was at fault. Usually, 3 car accident fault usually hinges on what position your vehicle is in regard to the other cars.
How Does California’s Contributory Negligence System Work?
The fault for a car accident is based on the legal theory of negligence. Put simply, negligence is the failure to act in a way that a reasonable and prudent person would have. Negligence can be shown by proving other drivers were careless before causing an accident, or if an accident led to physical or property damage.
California is known as a contributory negligent state. This means each party is just responsible for their share of fault in an accident. A judge or jury decides percentages of fault for each party after reviewing case details.
The system of contributory negligence means a party with a high degree of fault might still be able to recover after an accident. For example, if a driver suffered $1 million in damages and was deemed to be 99% at fault, they might be able to receive $10,000 in compensation.
No matter the circumstances of an accident, it is always vitally important to seek proper treatment for any injuries. Be sure to collect the insurance information from everyone involved to make the case filing process more seamless. Taking photos of all involved vehicles, any car damage, and skid marks on the road will give your attorney useful information to reference while building a case on your behalf.
Liability of the Front Car
In a three-car accident, the first vehicle is known as the front car. In general, the front car’s driver is usually not found liable for a three-car accident. However, this might not be the case if the front car slammed on the brakes quickly and got rear-ended.
If there is proof that a front car braked suddenly, then the liability for a three-car accident might be distributed in a different manner.
Liability of the Middle Car
In a three-car accident, the middle car will be seen as responsible for any damages to the front car. This holds true even if the last car actually caused an accident.
The driver of the first car has the ability to file a case against the middle (and last car) if necessary. This situation usually arises when a driver does not have enough policy coverage. For example, let’s say the driver of the front car suffers grave injuries in an accident. The middle driver just has a minimum policy. In that case, the front driver might file a case against the middle and end vehicles to receive compensation.
California law requires drivers to have a minimum insurance amount of:
- $5,000 for property damage,
- $15,000 for bodily injury, per each person, and
- $30,000 for total bodily damage.
Many insurance policies have much more coverage since these amounts are usually inadequate for many drivers.
Liability of the End Car
The last car in a three-car accident is usually the one seen as liable. However, the situation might change if the first or middle car suddenly braked. Often, the middle vehicle in a three-car accident will try to file a case against the driver of the last car for any accident-related injuries.
Learn More About Determining 3 Car Accident Fault
Determining Fault in Intersection Accidents
Intersection accidents are among the most common car accidents, with hundreds occurring daily in California alone. If you’ve been injured in such an accident, you may be wondering if you have any recourse for compensation.
You might — and not just from the other driver(s) involved. To learn more, contact Russell & Lazarus APC today.
Who Is at Fault for the Accident?
According to traffic statistics, about 40% of all car accidents happen at intersections. Human error causes nearly all of them. When cars travel in opposite directions on the same road and cross one or more streams of traffic on other roads, the accident risk skyrockets, even where there are clear signs and traffic lights. Changing lanes, turning left or right, and trying to go through an intersection when traffic is coming on the other road(s) are the main culprits.
However, accidents are sometimes the result of badly-designed intersections. If the approach isn’t obvious, if warning signs aren’t in place or are obscured by vegetation, or there’s not a clear view of other traffic, then you may be able to sue the city, county, or municipality for neglect. They’re responsible for providing a decent intersection.
Proving Road Hazard Faults
A known trouble spot should have enough traffic signs, lights, and other devices in place to help drivers avoid accidents. Stop signs or caution lights, for example, may not be enough if road construction on other routes increases traffic on the route you’re driving; so at least temporarily, the lights should be upgraded. Dedicated left-turn lanes can also decrease accident rates.
To prove your accident intersection was hazardous, you’ll need a lawyer to help you collect evidence of the hazard and prove it was already known or should have been obvious. This may involve investigating other traffic accidents at the intersection. If the local highway agency hasn’t made a serious effort to improve the intersection and cut down on the accidents, you may have a case.
According to state laws, specific drivers have the right-of-way (ROW) in certain situations. If you had the ROW and someone hit you, you may have a case against them; at least, they’re liable for your injuries and damages. So make a sincere effort to determine who had the ROW when your accident occurred.
You can prove you had ROW if you:
- Had a protected green light as you navigated the intersection.
- Stopped at lights or stop signs on your side of the intersection.
- Yielded to traffic on a through street that lacked signs or signals.
- Treated the road as at least a two-way stop (if existing lights were turned off).
- Yielded to autos in the intersection already.
- Got to the intersection at the same time as a car on the right and yielded to them.
- Entered a multi-lane road from a two-lane road and yielded to cars on the larger road.
- Yielded to vehicles on a highway as you entered from an on-ramp unless you had a protected lane.
- Yielded to cars on the frontage road when exiting a highway.
Don’t Let Insurers Determine Fault Without Your Input
When you make a claim with an insurer, the company investigates and tries to determine who was at fault in the accident. (Otherwise, a jury will determine the fault in a trial.) In California, both drivers can share some degree of fault. This doesn’t prevent you from seeking compensation from the other at-fault driver, though that compensation may be lowered depending on your percentage of fault.
So be sure to get a police report! Try to keep the other person from leaving until the police arrive and determine fault. Because of the reliability of a police report, it’ll weigh heavily in the insurance company’s determination of fault.
If You Were in an Intersection Accident, Contact Us Today
Russell & Lazarus APC has years of experience in handling car accident cases in the Orange County area. If you need help getting compensation for a loved one or yourself, contact us today for a free consultation. We may be able to help.
Who Is Liable in a Car Accident, Owner or Driver?
In the majority of situations, the individual who is driving the car is liable for an accident. But that’s not always the case. There are several situations in which the car’s owner is liable for the damage and injuries they cause in a car accident.
So who is liable in a car accident, owner or driver? In this article, we’ll cover situations in which the car owner is liable. We’ll also discuss what you can do if you’ve sustained injuries due to a driver who does not own the vehicle they are driving.
Who Is a Liable in a Car Accident Involving an Employee-Driven Vehicle?
When the employee of a company causes an accident while on the job, the company is held liable. This is called either vicarious liability or imputed negligence. Both hold that if an employee behaves irresponsibly while on duty for a company, the company is responsible for paying out damages. It is the company who is liable in a car accident in a car accident caused by their employee.
Typically, companies that own and deploy vehicles while doing business have their own insurance policies. The policies cover any employee who is using the vehicle. These policies, however, do not cover employees who use the vehicles without permission. If an employee takes a company car and goes to the bar, later causing an accident. The company would not be at fault unless they were aware that their employee was doing this regularly.
Who Is a Liable in a Car Accident Caused by a Non-Owner?
Let’s say Joe his car to Bill. Bill drives Joe’s car into Sarah’s car causing injuries and property damage. Who is liable for this car accident?
The answer is Joe.
Since Joe is the owner of the car and Bill drove the car with Joe’s permission, it’s Joe who picks up the tab for any damage Bill causes.
Sarah sues Joe. Joe’s car insurance pays for both her injuries and her property damage. Hence ends the sad story of Joe.
Now, a plot twist. Let’s say Bill causes serious damage to Sarah’s car. Not only does he total the car, but Sarah’s medical costs are nearing six figures. In other words, Sarah’s damages go far beyond what Joe’s insurance policy covers. At this point, Sarah can sue Joe for the difference. Bill, on the other hand, does not have to pay a dime.
Vicarious liability means that Joe, who owns the car, is responsible for any accident caused by a driver he gave permission to use it. With this knowledge in his mind, Joe forces anyone who drives his car to carry “non-owner’s auto insurance.” This means that it will they will be liable in a car accident, not him.
Who Is a Liable in a Car Accident Caused by an Incompetent Driver?
Let’s say Joe owns a car. Joe lets Bill borrow his car to pick up some beer. Bill is not only completely wasted, but he doesn’t have a license and is under the age of 16. Bill crashes the car causing serious injuries to Sarah.
Joe is liable under the doctrine of negligent entrustment. Joe lent his car to someone who was unfit to drive. Not only is Joe responsible for Sarah’s injuries, Joe is also responsible for Bill’s injuries. Joe will likely face criminal charges as well for endangering a minor, providing alcohol to a minor, and facilitating a drunk minor with a car.
Other than being drunk, not having a license, or being a minor, there are several other reasons why a car owner could be held liable under negligent entrustment. Those include:
- The driver was inexperienced. Allowing an inexperienced driver to drive your car is an example of negligent entrustment.
- The driver is elderly. If you lend your car to an elderly person who later drives into a Starbucks, the law can hold you liable under negligent entrustment.
- The driver is impaired by illness. If Bill suffers from sleep apnea, and Joe lets him drive his car, then Bill falls asleep at the wheel causing an accident, Joe can be guilty of negligent entrustment.
- The driver has a history of reckless driving. If you lend your car to someone you know has a history of driving recklessly, then you can be held liable under negligent entrustment.
To Learn More About How to Determine Who Is a Liable in a Car Accident, Contact Us Today
If you are a car owner, you should only allow those to drive your car when you’re willing to cover the costs of any accidents they cause. What if you were injured by a driver who was driving someone else’s car? Then you are entitled to collect from the owner. A car accident attorney can help you with this process. Russell & Lazarus APC can help you recover damages no matter who is liable in a car accident.
If I was struck by an emergency vehicle, who is at fault?
If you were in a California auto accident with an emergency vehicle, who is at fault?
With all California motor vehicle accidents, who is at fault for your car accident and injury depends on the details of your case and the evidence available. However, we can let you know a few helpful pieces of information about traffic accidents involving emergency vehicles:
- If an emergency vehicle has on its lights and sirens, it does not have to follow traditional traffic laws. It can swerve out of lanes, go through red lights, and drive the wrong way down the street.
- You are expected by law to pull to the right side of the road when an emergency vehicle—such as an ambulance, fire truck, or police cruiser—approaches with its lights flashing.
- It is also illegal to follow within 500 feet of a moving emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.
Emergency lights don’t necessarily mean they are in the right
However, simply because an emergency vehicle’s lights were flashing does not automatically mean it is in the right. In the past, drivers of emergency vehicles have been cited for driving recklessly and for negligence; it simply depends on the facts of each case. Talk to a Newport Beach Personal Injury Attorney about the specifics of your accident.
Also, if an emergency vehicle did not have its warning lights or sirens on at the time of the accident, you may also have a case. In some situations, the town, city, or hospital in charge of hiring and training emergency drivers may be responsible for a crash.
Contact a Newport Beach Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident involving an emergency vehicle, it is vital that you consult with an attorney about your case, regardless of whether the vehicle was actively responding to an accident scene or rushing to the hospital. Call Russell & Lazarus today to schedule a meeting with a Newport Beach personal injury attorney: (800) 268-9228.
Car Accidents and Negligence: When you are liable for another person’s driving
A Newport Beach Car Accident Lawyer Explains When You Are Liable for Another Person’s Driving
Usually, if a motor vehicle driver’s negligence caused an accident then the driver is partially or fully responsible for the accident; however, under certain circumstances, non-drivers can be held responsible for accidents. A seasoned Newport Beach car accident lawyer knows under which circumstances a non-driver can be held responsible for a motor vehicle accident, even if the non-driver was not present during the accident.
Drivers Who Are Minors
In many states, parents are responsible for their minor children’s negligent or willful conduct, including driving. For example, California has several statutes holding parents or legal guardians liable for a minor’s negligent operation of a vehicle resulting in an accident. For example:
- Vehicle Code Section 17707: the parent or legal guardian who signed the minor’s driver’s license application is jointly and severally liable with the minor for damages arising from the minor’s negligent or wrongful acts or omissions while driving a motor vehicle.
- Vehicle Code Section 17708: a parent or legal guardian is potentially liable for all foreseeable damages whenever the parent gives expressed or implied permission for the minor to operate the parent’s vehicle, and the minor causes a car accident.
An experienced Newport Beach car accident attorney notes that although California Vehicle Code Section 1714.1 limits a parent’s or legal guardian’s liability for the minor’s willful misconduct to $25,000 for actual damages, the driving-related statutes make the parent or legal guardian liable for “any damages proximately resulting” from the accident, even if the damages exceed $25,000.
Someone Else Driving
Some states make vehicle owners liable for any damages arising from an accident that resulted from the negligent operation of the owner’s vehicle, even if the owner was not the driver. For example, California Vehicle Code section 17150 states that vehicle owners are held vicariously liable for a driver’s negligent, wrongful act or omission in the operation of the motor vehicle as long as the driver had express or implied permission from the owner to drive the vehicle. Thus, if you give your friend permission to drive your car and your friend gets into an accident due to his negligence, you can be held liable for the resulting damages.
Many, if not all, states have upheld the common law doctrine of respondeat superior, meaning “Let the master answer.” It is a legal principle holding the master responsible for the actions of his servants. In modern times, respondeat superior makes employers vicariously liable for their employee’s negligent actions, including negligent driving, performed within the course and scope of the employee’s employment.
The key element is whether the employee was acting within the course and scope of his or her employment when he or she committed the negligent act. Several factors are considered:
- What was the employee’s intent?
- What were the nature, time and place of the employee’s conduct?
- What type of work was the employee hired to do?
- What incidental acts should the employer reasonably expect the employee to do?
- How much freedom is the employee allowed to perform his or her duties?
- How much time is consumed in the employee’s personal activity?
For example, if you were delivering products for your employer and you caused an accident due to speeding, your employer could be held responsible for the resulting damages because the above-mentioned factors weigh in favor of you acting within the course of your employment. However, if your accident occurred ten miles off your regular route where you had driven to visit a friend, then the above-mentioned factors arguably lean towards finding that you departed from the course and scope of your employment and thus, your employer may not be held responsible for the accident.
A vehicle owner could also be held liable for negligence if the driver who caused an accident was unlicensed, incompetent, unfit or reckless and the owner knew or should have known of the driver’s condition. Examples include if the driver was:
- Unlicensed or underage
- Elderly with terrible eyesight, hearing or reaction time
- Sick in way that affects his or her driving (e.g., drowsy)
- Previously reckless while driving
Contact a Newport Beach Car Accident Lawyer
For more information, consult an Orange County car accident attorney with Russell & Lazarus APC at (949) 851-0222.