Catastrophic Damage in Car Accident Cases Can Come from Tiny Culprits

 

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Last month an elderly California man was killed in a car accident. This tragic occurrence would not likely have gained must attention by the news but for the manner in which the accident occurred. The man was traveling northbound on the highway at about the time a state-owned Caltrans water truck was traveling that same highway, going southbound. According to investigators, a metal cap used to seal the opening on the top of the truck’s water tank detached and flew across several lanes of traffic, striking the elderly man in his neck. The cap was described as being about the size of a baseball and about two to three inches in width. The man crashed into the center median before his car came to a stop. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

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When a “Simple” Car Accident is Not So Simple

When one hears of an injury or death resulting from a car crash, one might naturally assume that the cause for the crash is simple and straightforward: One or both drivers drove their cars in a careless fashion and the crash ensued as a result. For investigators and others looking at this case, determining the precise cause of the crash is not so simple. While it can be said that the cause of the crash was the metal cap that became detached and hit the man in his neck, this does not necessarily explain who or what entity was actually at fault. There could be any number of culprits responsible in this crash:

  •      The truck driver, if he or she failed to ensure that the cap was properly secured before driving;
  •      The truck’s maintenance department, if the cap was damaged in some manner and a maintenance worker should have or could have discovered the damage through routine inspection;
  •      The agency or office responsible for maintaining the road, if a defect in the road (such as a large pothole) caused the cap to come loose;
  •      The manufacturer of the cap, if a design or manufacturing defect resulted in the cap not being safe for its intended use.

Answering the questions necessary to determine liability in a case such as this (unfortunately) takes time – the sort of time that surviving family members and/or injury victims do not generally have. The sooner such an investigation is completed and responsible parties identified, however, the sooner the victim(s) can obtain compensation and monetary damages for their losses.

The Case for an Attorney

This is why hiring an experienced car crash attorney is crucial: The attorney’s experience and resources can be used to complete the requisite investigation in a timely manner. Injury victims who attempt to “go it alone” (unfortunately) find out quickly that obtaining adequate compensation for their losses is no easy task.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident or collision, contact Case Barnett Law right away for assistance. Our years of experience helping numerous car accident clients means that you can trust our firm to identify and pursue compensation against those responsible for your injuries in a prompt manner. Call our firm at (949) 861-2990 to learn how we can help you or your loved one. You can also contact our firm online for assistance.

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What To Do If You Are In A Rainy Day Car Accident

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With four El Niño-fueled storms currently bearing down on California we expect to see more accidents on the road. El Niño 2016 will have a profound affect on the climate as well as on driver’s safety while on the wet roads. While there are many steps you can take to avoid a rainy day car accident, not all accidents will be prevented.

Often time accidents can be minor and handled in small claims court.  However, what should you do if you are injured in a car accident?  Case Barnett Law can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

If you have been in an accident that was not your fault, you may be eligible for damages.

If you were injured in a car accident, you can ask the other drivers insurance to pay you a cash settlement. If that driver was not insured, you may request this settlement against your own under-insured motorist coverage on your own insurance, if you have this coverage.

Insurance companies may put pressure on you to rush the process after you have been in an accident.  They may make you feel that you do not have a case and that you will not be awarded any financial compensation for your accident.  There is no rush but you do need to be aware of your state’s Statute of Limitations.  The Statute of Limitations means that you must file a lawsuit or close or settle your case within your state time limits. The time clock starts on the day of the car accident. In California the statute of limitations is 2 years for injury and 3 years for property damage. To learn more about your State’s insurance rules and regulations visit California State Website for Insurance Questions.

After a car accident NEVER sign any documentation with the insurance companies in exchange for cash, until you have finished your medical treatment. By contacting an attorney at Case Barnett Law you will be protected through this process.

After you sign a release to close this case, no matter how serious your injuries in the future, you cannot go back for more treatment, or compensation, even if you made a mistake.

How To Make Sure You Receive Proper Compensation After A Car Accident

  • File a police report.
  • Seek medical attention quickly.
    • Visit the emergency room or your physician as soon as possible after an accident if you are injured.
  • Be aware of any pre-existing injuries that you are claiming became worse as a result of the accident.
    • Ask your physician to take new x-rays or ultrasounds of those injured areas. Comparisons in the pre-accident and post-accident scans can help show that the accident caused additional damage to the area. This will be crucial in court.
  • Avoid emotional statements that you make to other drivers or passengers after the accident.
    • Keep in mind that although your emotions might be intense following a car accident, you should avoid making promises or statements of blame.
  • Take witness testimonies.
  • Take photographs of the accident scene.
  • Gather up any records and documents that validate the number of days and wages you lost due to the accident.
  • Be aware of any personal injury limits written into your car insurance policy.
  • Take notes on anything you can remember about the accident as soon as you are physically able.
  • Document your injuries.
    • Take photographs and get medical attention to provide evidence of the seriousness of your injuries.
  • Contact witnesses.
    • If you collected witness contact information at the time of the accident, contact them as soon as possible to get their observations down on paper.
  • Return to the scene of the accident to search for and take pictures of evidence.
    • You may notice something, such as a dirty traffic sign, that led you to make a driving mistake and get into a car accident.

Damages In Car Accident Personal Injury Cases

Damages refer to the cost of your injuries. These can be a direct financial cost or an emotional and indirect cost.

  • Direct damages.
    • Cost of medical bills.
    • Lost wages.
    • Loss of earning capacity.
    • Property loss.
  • Indirect damages. 
    • Pain and suffering.
    • Emotional distress.
    • Inability to have children as a result of accident-related injuries.
    • Loss of an extremity.
    • Loss of consortium, if the accident caused a strain on your relationship.

If the defendant was especially careless when causing the accident, you may also receive punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant, and are imposed by the court.

If you have questions about damages or your personal injury case in general, speak to an attorney at Case Barnett Law.

 

California Distracted Driving Accidents

Traffic crashes are often referred to as “accidents” giving the impression that crashes just happen out of nowhere. But traffic crashes happen because someone was negligent. Someone wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do. Someone was not obeying traffic laws. Whether someone was driving too fast, or distracted because of their mobile device, accidents don’t just happen. According to The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2013, 3,154 people were killed in vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. If a person is traveling 55 mph, that is enough time to cover the length if a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI).

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Distracted Driving and Traffic Laws

Legislators in the state of California take traffic safety very seriously, and they are trying to reduce the number of car accidents by enforcing various laws that are supposed to deter drivers from speeding, running a red light, driving under the influence, or using cell phones while driving, which are some of the most common traffic violations in the U.S. Talking on a cell phone while driving is the most common cause of distracted driving, and most states have specific laws banning it. Distracted driving laws in the state of California have existed since 2006, when the first cell phone legislation was introduced.(dmv.com)

Distracted Driving Laws For Teen Drivers

Currently, there is a law in effect that prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using any type of wireless communications device while driving. This ban is an addition to the provisions that are already in existence, which prohibit teen drivers from using cell phones. (dmv.com)

Cell Phones

The prevalence of mobile devices in life, has created addictions and people can’t just stay off of their phones. It only takes a fraction of a second to change someone else’s life forever. There is no excuse for looking at a text messages or email while driving. “Everyone does it,” is not a defense. For more information on teen distracted driving data, please go to: http://www.distraction.gov/downloads/pdfs/11381-Distracted_Driving_Teens_2013_032415_v1a_tag.pdf

Text Messaging Bans

Sending text messages while driving is a huge distraction, but a lot of people don’t realize that and still do it. It’s a potentially dangerous activity because it requires you to take at least one hand off the steering wheel to type and send a message, and you can lose control of your vehicle pretty quickly that way. That’s why the state of California has banned all drivers from texting, and this ban is considered a primary law. Furthermore, drivers are also prohibited from hands-free text messaging, as well as voice-operated text messaging. The text messaging fine is $20 for a first offense, and $50 for a repeat offense. (dmv.com)

Using a GPS App

Using a smartphone while driving for navigational purposes is also not allowed. Drivers can’t use a GPS application while holding a smartphone in their hands, which used to be allowed until April 2013. (dmv.com)

Adult Drivers

Drivers aged 18 and above can only use a cell phone with an attached hands-free device. There is a hand-held ban for both adult and teen drivers, which is considered a primary law. (dmv.com)

School Bus Drivers

School bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones while driving, be it hands-free or hand-held. They have a special responsibility due to the fact that they transport children to school and that’s why they are not allowed to use a cell phone with a hands-free device, which other drivers are allowed to do. (dmv.com)

General Distracted Driving Laws

Some states forbid specific activities while driving. While recent years have seen states address telephones and electronic gadgets, some low-tech distractions have been specifically banned in certain states for a long time. States have specifically prohibited activities including personal grooming (such as shaving or putting on make-up), reading, writing, interacting with pets, and other common in-vehicle distractions. (findlaw.com)

Evidence of Negligence or Recklessness

A traffic ticket is by far the least serious outcome of distracted driving. Distracted driving poses far more serious dangers such as accidents and injuries which can lead to lawsuits. The fact that a driver was distracted greatly increases the likelihood that a driver will be found responsible for damages caused.

For example, if someone has an accident while or shortly after talking on a cell phone, evidence of their phone call could be presented to prove negligence or recklessness. With the issue of negligence deciding many auto injury lawsuits, evidence of distraction could result in potentially large monetary liabilities.

With cell phone records detailing when people use mobile devices and how, evidence relating to phone calls and messages sent or accessed close to the time of an accident become crucial in many auto accident related lawsuits.

Even if there is no specific law against what the driver was doing, evidence of distracted driving can help prove negligence, perhaps leading to civil liability, For example, even in states which have not banned texting while driving, evidence of texting while driving may cause a driver to lose a lawsuit stemming from an accident. (findlaw.com)

Conclusion

Distracted driving has many variations and can happen when tending to a crying child or looking at your phone when you receive a text message. California  has enacted laws banning specific acts such as texting or using a handheld phone while driving.

In addition to traffic tickets, distracted driving can cause accidents, injuries, or even death, and can be used as evidence of a driver’s negligence or recklessness in lawsuits stemming from an auto accident.

If someone is on their cell phone, tablet or otherwise just not paying attention while driving, and crashes in to you, contact Case Barnett Law so we can help you. Let Case Barnett Law deal with the insurance companies and all of those hassles so that you can focus on healing.

For more information on California distracted driving laws visit