Category Archives: California

California Texting While Driving Laws and Statistics

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

“It will only take a second.” 

“Mom wants to know where I am.” 

“Work had a question.”

These are just a few of the various excuses people have used to rationalize texting while driving. They’re also thoughts people have had right before they cause a major car accident.

Texting while driving is illegal in the state of California, and for good reasons. Because drivers take their hands, eyes, and mind off the road when texting, it’s an especially risky form of distracted driving. According to Go Safely, California, a campaign from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), the average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of traveling the length of an entire football field blindfolded. Additionally, engaging in a visual-manual task like texting increases your risk of getting into a crash by three times.

Despite these alarming statistics, plenty of Californians still text and drive. In 2019, the most recent year for data, 57.9 percent of California drivers surveyed said they had been hit or nearly hit by a driver talking or texting on a mobile device.

California law prohibits motorists from using a cellphone or mobile device while driving unless they are in “hands free” mode. That includes writing or reading texts, and applies to anyone driving on California roadways, even if you don’t live in California. The only exceptions to this law are if you are driving on private property or making an emergency call to something like an ambulance. 

According to California Vehicle Code, Section 23123, a violation of this law is punishable by a base fine of $20 for a first offense and by a fine of $50 for all subsequent infractions. That sounds like a small amount of money, but in reality, you will pay more — sometimes over $250 — once assessments are added. 

Previously, drivers did not receive a point on their driving record for texting and driving, but that has changed as of July 1, 2021. A texting-while-driving violation can now result in one point to your record if the violation is within 36 months of a prior distracted driving offense. Points added to your record can increase rates or even result in your license being revoked.

All of these laws are aimed at avoiding crashes, injuries, and fatalities that happen because of texting while driving. No matter what excuse our brains may tell us in the moment, texting while driving is never safe, and the possible consequences of doing it can be devastating to more than just the driver’s life.

Daniel Rodriguez, founder and president of Rodriguez & Associates and Robert Rodriguez of the California Highway Patrol, created this message stressing the importance of keeping your eyes on the road and avoid being distracted while driving. “Help save a life. Eyes forward, look up and live.”

Rodriguez & Associates takes the laws around texting and driving very seriously. We are willing to fight for anyone negatively impacted by another driver’s negligence. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by texting and driving, you may be able to claim compensation for damages. Please reach out to us today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 9:07 pm

California Statistics and Laws on Drinking and Driving

Monday, July 26, 2021

Drinking and driving, or driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, impairs a person’s ability to drive safely and threatens the well-being of other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians that they encounter on the road. 

Over the last 40 years, public information campaigns such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have set out to eliminate drunk driving through education, prevention, and enforcement by advocating for stricter laws to be passed for drunk driving offences, and while this has helped decrease the amount of DUIs nationwide, it has not ended the problem. In 2019, according to MADD, 10,142 people were killed due to drunk driving which makes it #1 cause of death on America’s roads. The state of California accounted for 1,066 of the nation’s drunk driving fatalities, approximately 10%. 

California Drinking and Driving Statistics 

The most comprehensive statistics for alcohol-impaired driving is from Responsibility.org for the year of 2018. 

  • Total alcohol-impaired driving fatalities: 1,069
  • Under 21 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities: 113
  • 69.8% of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities had a BAC of 0.15+
  • 77.9% of drivers with BAC 0.15+ were repeat offenders
  • Total DUI arrests: 127,250 (Nationwide: 1,001,329)

California Drunk Driving Laws

In California, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. The law does not distinguish between prescription, over-the-counter or illegal drugs. If the drug or medication impairs your ability to drive safely, you can still be charged with a DUI.

California has enforced tougher laws for first time and repeat offenders in an effort to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, drunk driving on our roads. Here is a summary of laws about driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handbook. 

  • It is illegal to use or possess alcohol or cannabis products in a vehicle. Any open containers must be stored in the trunk or where passengers do not sit.
  • It is illegal for any person to operate a vehicle with the following BAC limits:
    • 0.08% or higher, if the person is 21 years +
    • 0.01% or higher, if the person is under 21 years old
    • 0.04% or higher, when a passenger for hire is in the vehicle at the time of the offense
  • It is illegal for drivers under 21 years of age to carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless accompanied by a parent or other person as specified by law and the container is full, sealed, and unopened. If caught, the car may be impounded for up to 30 days, driving privileges may be suspended for up to 1 year or delay the issuance of a first driver’s license for up to 1 year, or a fine of up to $1000 may be charged.

Similar laws also prohibit riding bikes and scooters or driving boats under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

We Represent DUI Accident Victims in Kern County and California

A victim of a drunk driving accident can suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. Medical bills can pile up, they may not be able to work or perform their job as before, and their mental state may be different due to the accident. The criminal court system can punish a drunk driver for the accident, but it does not compensate victims of the accident. 

This is when a victim of a drunk driving accident would seek expert legal representation to pursue claims in a civil court for recovery of monetary damages from medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages from missed work, property damage, and/or modifications to a home or car because of the injuries incurred. Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates, are standing by to represent you or a loved one who has been injured as a result of a DUI accident. We will do everything possible to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

We represent DUI accident victims in Kern County and throughout California. Call us to request a free consultation at (661) 323-1400 or toll-free (800) 585-9262.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:29 pm

What is the California Good Samaritan Law?

Saturday, June 5, 2021

When you encounter an emergency situation, you may try to act as a Good Samaritan and help any injured victims instead of walking away from the scene. However, our actions may end up causing more harm than good—which often opens us up to civil liability. In these situations, California’s Good Samaritan laws can protect you from civil repercussions and allow you to render aid instead of worrying about potential litigation.

Who Qualifies As a Good Samaritan in California?

Under California Health and Safety Code Section 1799.102, a Good Samaritan is a person who renders emergency care to another and acts in good faith. A Good Samaritan provides this care without expecting compensation for his or her actions. As a result, this person will not face civil liability for any actions or omissions that may occur while providing aid.

Good Samaritan laws are important for several reasons. When someone is injured, it can take a long time for medical personnel to arrive at the scene. In these situations, emergency care from bystanders could increase the victim’s chances of survival. With Good Samaritan laws in place, bystanders have the opportunity to help others without worrying about potential liability, protecting both parties in an emergency situation.

Civil versus Criminal Liability

California’s Good Samaritan law protects bystanders from civil liability or paying for a victim’s economic and non-economic damages if they harm someone while providing aid. If a person sustains an injury due to the actions of another, he or she may file a lawsuit against the person responsible for the injury to recover compensatory damages related to his or her losses. These damages may include the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and loss of future earnings
  • Property damage
  • Chronic pain, disability, and disfigurement
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Disability accommodations
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Loss of quality of life

If a bystander renders aid in good faith, he or she will be exempt from civil liability if his or her actions injure the victim. However, California’s Good Samaritan law does not provide exemptions for criminal liability. If a bystander commits a crime while rendering aid, such as stealing the victim’s wallet or committing sexual assault, he or she can still face criminal charges for this act.

Exemptions to the Good Samaritan Law

Protection under California’s Good Samaritan laws does not apply to situations involving gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Gross negligence refers to a lack of any care while providing aid, or a departure from what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation. On the other hand, willful and wanton misconduct involves an intentional or reckless disregard for others’ safety.

For example, if a bystander encounters a person who is injured in a car accident and pulls him or her out of the vehicle, he or she will not be liable if he or she accidentally breaks the victim’s leg while dragging the victim to safety. However, if the bystander pulls the victim out of the vehicle and abandons the victim in the middle of the road, he or she may be liable for any injuries that occur.

If you are injured due to a Good Samaritan’s actions or are facing liability for providing aid to another person, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A California personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and identify your optimal legal options. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.

Posted by highrank at 7:57 pm

Bakersfield Gas Explosion Case Is Back On Track

Friday, June 4, 2021

Daniel Rodriguez and Chantal A. Trujillo of Rodriguez & Associates are co-representing Bakersfield, California neighbors injured by the Wildwood gas explosion.

In November 2015 the California almond farm, Wildwood, triggered a fire and explosion after rupturing an underground gas line while the farm was being excavated in preparation for planting almond trees, causing personal injury and property damages to nearby neighbors.

The injured neighbors sued Wildwood, along with the contractors, and in October 2018, the trial court initially granted summary judgment in Wildwood’s favor.

A 2021 appeals court reversed the original summary judgment in Wildwood’s favor and instructed the trial court to grant summary adjudication in the farm’s favor on every claim except peculiar risk. The state appeals court ruled that the farm can, in fact, be held vicariously liable for the contracted excavator that caused the explosion.

Chantal Trujillo, partner at Rodriguez & Associates, told Law360 that she and her clients are happy the “case is back on track” and can be put in front of a jury.

To read more about the case of Gloria Ruckman et al. v. Wildwood Farms LLC, click here.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 2:40 pm

What Are the Consequences for Driving Without Insurance?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

California is a fault insurance state that requires drivers who are responsible for car accidents to pay for their victims’ damages. To uphold this financial responsibility and comply with state law, you must carry certain amounts of car insurance. However, not all drivers comply with this requirement—but failure to do so can lead to hefty fines and other penalties. Additionally, uninsured motorists may be solely responsible for their victims’ damages, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

California Insurance Requirements

Liability insurance pays for the medical expenses, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and other losses that other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians suffer in accidents you cause. All drivers in California must carry the following amounts of insurance.

  • $15,000 for bodily injury or death per person per accident
  • $30,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage per accident

You can purchase higher amounts of coverage if you choose to do so. You can also purchase additional coverage, such as uninsured motorist and medical payments coverage, to pay for your own losses in an accident. Uninsured motorist coverage is especially important in cases where the at-fault driver does not have insurance.

If you do not want to purchase liability coverage, you can comply with California insurance laws using one of the following options.

  • A self-insurance certificate from the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV)
  • A cash deposit of $35,000 to the DMV
  • A $35,000 surety bond from a California-licensed issuer

Penalties for Driving without Insurance

Failure to comply with California insurance laws can result in serious penalties. If you are caught for driving without insurance, you can receive a $100 to $200 fine for a first offense. For a second offense, the fine increases to $200 to $500. For third and subsequent offenses, your fine will continue to increase.

In addition to financial penalties, the state could impound your vehicle. You will not be able to obtain it until you provide proof of insurance and pay for the towing and storage fees. The state may also require you to obtain an SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility certificate and carry an additional SR-22 insurance policy, which can be expensive.

If you are at fault for the accident and do not have insurance, you will still be financially liable for the victims’ damages. Instead of the insurance company paying for expenses like medical care, vehicle repairs, and lost wages, you will need to pay for these losses out of pocket. Although car insurance may seem expensive, it is not as costly as paying for multiple high-value claims by yourself.

What to Do After a California Car Accident

If you are in a car accident, it is important to seek help, preserve evidence, and protect your health. First, call 911 and report the accident to law enforcement. Receive emergency medical attention as soon as possible and save all records related to your injuries. If you are able, take photographs of your injuries, the area around the crash, and your vehicle damage. Speak to the other driver and exchange insurance, license, and contact information, and ask any witnesses in the area for their contact details as well.

Once you receive treatment for your injuries, contact a California car accident lawyer. If another driver caused your accident, you could hold him or her accountable for your injuries through an insurance claim or lawsuit. If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you could still recover compensation through an uninsured motorist claim. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your optimal path to recovery.

Posted by highrank at 5:57 pm

What Are Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Motorcyclists face many dangers on California roads. Any accident between a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle can result in devastating injuries with long-term complications. While safe driving practices can help motorcyclists avoid preventable collisions, these accidents can occur for several reasons, including poor weather, dangerous road conditions, and negligent driver behavior.

Unsafe Lane Changes

One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents involve unsafe lane changes. When a driver intends to merge into another lane, he or she must ensure that the roadway is clear before moving over. Unfortunately, a driver may rely on his or her mirrors to ensure the road is clear or fail to check the lane at all. A motorcyclist may be traveling in the driver’s blind spot when he or she is merging, leading to a serious collision.

Car Doors

A parked car can pose an unexpected risk to motorcyclists. In some cases, a driver may open his or her car door into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. The motorcyclist will then collide into the door, leading to very severe, often life-threatening injuries.

Driving Under the Influence

Alcohol and drugs impair many of the essential functions for driving. A driver may experience diminished concentration, motor skills, and judgement. He or she may be unable to focus on the road or react to unexpected situations on the road. As a result, the driver could easily lose control of his or her vehicle, run a red light, or commit another act of negligence that leads to a collision.

Speeding

Driving over the speed limit increases a vehicle’s risk of collision. If a driver is going too fast, he or she does not have enough time to react to a collision if he or she encounters a hazard on the road. Additionally, the faster that a vehicle is traveling, the greater the impact will be. A motorcyclist can sustain very serious injuries in a high-speed crash.

Motorcycle Part Defects

In some cases, driver negligence may not be responsible for a motorcycle collision at all. A defective motorcycle part, such as an improperly manufactured engine or poorly designed brakes, can cause an accident. A motorcyclist may lose control of his or her bike when an unexpected failure occurs, leading to severe injuries. In these situations, the motorcyclist could file a claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the defective part.

Dangerous Left-Hand Turns

Many motorcycle collisions occur when a driver makes an unsafe left-hand turn. The driver may run a red light or fail to yield the right of way, colliding with a motorcyclist as he or she travels through an intersection. The driver may attempt to overtake or pass the motorcycle in an unsafe manner, leading to a serious accident. Motorcycles are much smaller than passenger cars, making them more difficult to see and more vulnerable to these left-hand turn collisions.

Poor Road Conditions

Other accidents may involve dangerous conditions on the road itself, such as potholes, cracks, or poorly designed streets. If a motorcyclist encounters these road hazards, he or she can sustain a serious accident without another driver being involved. In these situations, the motorcyclist could file a lawsuit against the government agency responsible for maintaining the road.

If you are in a motorcycle accident, it is important to speak to a California motorcycle accident lawyer. An attorney can represent you in your claim against the government, product manufacturer, or negligent driver. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your accident and optimal path to recovery.

Posted by highrank at 5:32 pm

Who Is Liable for an Injury Caused by a Defective Product?

Sunday, May 2, 2021

When we purchase a product, we trust that the manufacturer, retailer, and distributor have ensured that it is safe to use. If there are any potential dangers when using the product, the manufacturer must provide proper warnings and instructions. Unfortunately, defective products can reach consumers—leading to serious injuries. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, you have the right to file a lawsuit against any party in the chain of distribution.

Types of Defective Products

There are three types of product defects recognized under California law: manufacturing defects, design defects, and failure to warn.

  • Manufacturing defects are errors that occur during the manufacturing process, rendering the product unsafe. For example, a snack manufacturer may accidentally taint a batch of food with a toxic substance in the factory.
  • Design defects occur when the product’s design is inherently unsafe and designed poorly. You will need to prove that a safer design would have been possible. For example, if a hair straightener is prone to catching fire when it reaches a certain temperature, the product is inherently defective in its design.
  • Failure to warn claims involve a manufacturer’s failure to warn consumers about a potential safety issue with the product. For example, if an infant’s toy has small parts that could be swallowed, the product’s label must include a warning about this hazard.

Strict Liability and Defective Products

Under California law, defective product lawsuits are subject to a strict liability standard. This means that you do not need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in order to file a lawsuit against the entity. However, you will need to provide sufficient evidence that the product is defective.

To secure compensation for a defective product injury, you will need to prove four key facts in your lawsuit.

  • You were injured or suffered damages.
  • The product was defective in some way.
  • The defective product caused your injury.
  • You were using the product as the manufacturer intended.

Liable Parties in a Defective Product Claim

You can name any party along the chain of distribution in a product liability lawsuit. This includes the manufacturer, the distributor or wholesaler, and the retailer. You can file a claim against these parties even if you did not buy the product directly, or even if you did not use the product. If you were hit by a flying blade from your father’s lawnmower, for example, you can still file a product liability claim even if you were not the owner.

The manufacturer is at the beginning of the chain of distribution and will likely be liable for any defects that occur during its development. Additionally, any outside consultants or contractors who were involved in the product design or manufacture could also be named in your lawsuit.

Although a retailer may not be responsible for the defect itself, it could be liable for selling a dangerous product. Any middlemen involved in the distribution of the product may be liable as well. To determine who to name in your lawsuit, speak with a California product liability attorney as soon as possible.

An attorney will conduct an in-depth investigation into your case to determine the source of the defect. He or she may consult with expert witnesses who can provide further insight into the dangerous product. Your lawyer will also represent you in your claim, handling negotiations and representing you in civil court. Contact a California product liability attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

 

Posted by highrank at 4:13 pm

Questions to Ask a Car Accident Witness

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

California follows a fault-based system when it comes to car accidents. This means that drivers who cause accidents are financially responsible for their victims’ damages. If you sustain injuries in a California car crash, you may be able to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

To prove your right to compensation, however, you will need to provide sufficient evidence that the driver caused your accident. Witness testimony can help validate your claim—but before you can use this evidence in your claim, you will need to ask a witness a few key questions at the scene.

#1: What Did You See?

The first step you should take when questioning witnesses is to establish what they actually saw. Approach the witness and ask him or her how the accident occurred. Ask the witness to go into detail and allow him or her to speak for as long as possible. Once the witness finishes relaying his or her story, you can ask follow-up questions about the other driver’s actions, his or her vantage point, and the timeline of events.

You can ask the following questions to get more detail about the witness’s point of view.

  • Did you have a clear view of the accident?
  • Where were you looking before the accident occurred?
  • How far away were you from the accident site?

#2: When Did You Arrive at the Scene?

After you establish what the witness saw, ask him or her how he or she arrived at the scene. Ask the witness where he or she was coming from before the collision and where he or she was headed when the accident occurred. Ask the witness for the approximate time that he or she entered the area. This information will help establish the accident timeline and clarify points of confusion.

#3: Was the Other Driver Breaking the Law?

Although you should avoid sounding combative or confrontational, it is important to know whether the other driver committed a traffic violation during the accident. Since California is a fault accident state, you will need to establish that the driver either broke the law or drove in a reckless or unsafe manner. If a witness establishes that the driver broke a traffic law, your case will become much stronger.

Ask the witness about the other driver’s behavior during the accident. You can ask the following questions for more detail.

  • Was the other driver speeding?
  • Did you see the other driver texting or talking on the phone?
  • Did it look like the driver was paying attention to the road?
  • Was the driver swerving or driving aggressively?
  • Do you think the driver was driving safely?

#4: Can I Have Your Contact Information?

Finally, you should ask the witness if he or she is willing to make a statement to the police and if you can have his or her contact information. By having a witness’s contact information on hand, you can ask follow-up questions and get more detail about the accident. Your lawyer may also contact the witness to ask him or her to provide a statement. Before you leave the accident scene, ask each witness for his or her name, phone number, and email address.

Speak to a California Car Accident Lawyer

If you are in a car accident in California, remain calm. After the accident, call 911, seek medical attention, and document evidence at the scene by taking photographs and speaking to witnesses. Once you receive treatment, it is important to contact a California car accident attorney as soon as possible.

A lawyer can strengthen your car accident claim in several ways, from handling negotiations with insurance companies to collecting relevant evidence to support your side of the story. Speak to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and legal options.

Posted by highrank at 1:43 pm

Who Is Liable for a Civilian’s Injury on a Construction Site?

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Construction sites can be very dangerous places. Civilians who visit these locations can encounter falling debris, heavy machinery, and many other unsafe situations. Although safety equipment and regulations are in place to prevent accidents, negligence on behalf of a site owner, subcontractor, or employee could lead to serious injuries. If a civilian suffers an injury on a construction site, he or she may be able to pursue legal action against the at-fault parties.

Common Causes of Construction Injuries

There are numerous accidents that can happen on a construction site. To prevent these incidents from happening, contractors, foremen, and employees must follow established safety protocols. They must ensure that all visitors to the site wear proper safety equipment and follow best safety practices to avoid injuries. They must also place barricades around the site to keep passersby at a safe distance.

Unfortunately, not all construction sites follow these safety precautions. Civilians can suffer accidents due to a wide range of dangerous conditions, including the following.

  • Falling debris and objects
  • Tripping over equipment and materials
  • Improperly marked holes and ditches
  • Defective and dangerous machinery
  • The presence of hazardous materials
  • Improper use of construction tools and equipment

Legal Options for Civilians Injured on Construction Sites

If someone else’s negligence caused an accident on the construction site, he or she may be liable for the victim’s damages. For example, if a civilian is walking by the construction site and the employees failed to place barricades around the site, he or she may be struck by falling debris. In this situation, he or she may have grounds to pursue a lawsuit against the company that oversees the site.

Many parties may be liable for a civilian’s injuries, depending on the circumstances surrounding his or her accident. Subcontractors, employees, foremen, and the construction company itself may be liable. In other cases, the developer or the landowner may be liable. In cases involving defective equipment or machinery, the civilian can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective item. To identify the relevant at-fault party or parties, civilians can enlist the help of a construction accident attorney who can conduct an in-depth investigation into the accident.

How to Prove Negligence in a Construction Accident Lawsuit

A construction accident lawsuit allows civilians to recover compensation for the economic and non-economic losses he or she sustained due to the at-fault party’s negligence. To secure this compensation, the civilian will need to supply evidence to prove four key facts.

  • The at-fault party owed a duty of care to keep the construction site safe.
  • The at-fault party breached the duty of care through a negligent act or omission.
  • The at-fault party’s breach of duty directly caused the civilian’s injuries.
  • The civilian suffered damages that he or she can collect in the lawsuit.

For example, say that a visitor to a construction site falls in a hole that an employee failed to properly mark. Companies are often liable for the actions of their employees while these employees are performing their job duties, so the visitor would likely bring a lawsuit against the construction company. The breach of duty would be the employee’s failure to properly mark the hole.

The civilian can use multiple pieces of evidence to prove causation and breach of duty, including surveillance footage, medical records, and witness testimony. However, proving a construction accident lawsuit can be a challenge without the resources and knowledge of a personal injury lawyer. If you sustain an accident on a construction site, contact a California construction accident lawyer to discuss your pathway to maximum compensation.

Posted by highrank at 6:02 pm

Can a Passenger Be Charged for Distracted Driving?

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Distracted driving, or any activity that removes a driver’s attention from the act of driving, is a very dangerous practice. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,841 people died due to distracted driving in 2018 alone.

When we think of distracted driving, we often assume the driver bears sole responsibility for the distraction itself. In some cases, however, a passenger inside the vehicle may be the reason for the distraction. In these situations, the passenger may be partially liable for the resulting accident.

What Is Distracted Driving?

As California drivers, we have a responsibility to operate our vehicles carefully and safely. This means that you must focus your attention on the road—manually, visually, and cognitively—so that you can adequately respond to hazards and follow traffic rules. Any distraction that takes your mind, eyes, or brain off the act of driving can raise the risk of an accident.

There are three forms of distractions that can occur while driving.

  • Manual distraction, or taking your hands off the steering wheel. Manual distractions may include eating and drinking, applying makeup, fiddling with GPS or radio controls, or texting or typing on a cell phone.
  • Visual distraction, or taking your eyes off the road. Visual distractions may include looking at a cell phone, GPS, or radio screen, looking at another person inside the vehicle, or reaching for something inside of the car.
  • Cognitive distraction, or taking your mind away from driving. Cognitive distractions may include having a conversation while driving, listening to the radio, daydreaming or becoming lost in thought, thinking about stressful situations, or driving while tired.

Passengers inside of a vehicle can distract a driver, leading to an accident. Passengers can initiate arguments, block the driver’s line of sight, show the driver content on a smartphone, or engage in many other behaviors that impact a driver’s ability to operate his or her vehicle safely.

Passenger Liability for Distracted Driving

California is a fault accident state, which means drivers who cause accidents must pay for victims’ damages. In most cases involving distracted driving, the driver himself or herself is liable for these costs. However, if a passenger’s actions are responsible for causing the accident, you may hold the passenger liable for your resulting injuries.

A driver or passenger may have sole liability for the accident, or both parties can share some portion of the blame based on their actions. Drivers have a responsibility to ignore any distraction to the furthest extent possible. If the driver failed to uphold this duty of care, he or she may be partially responsible for the accident. If the passenger’s actions prevented the driver from operating his or her vehicle safety, the passenger will likely be entirely at fault.

For example, say you are in an accident where a passenger grabbed the steering wheel and caused a vehicle to run a red light. In this situation, the passenger will be at fault for the accident as it would have been difficult for the driver to ignore or avoid the crash.

If you are in an accident where a passenger showed the driver a text message on his phone and the driver ran the red light due to the distraction, both parties will share fault. California’s joint and several liability laws will apply at this stage, which will enable you to file claims against both parties for specific damages.

Seek Help from a California Car Accident Lawyer

Liability in car accident claims involving negligent passengers can be complex. To ensure you file the correct claims and gather the evidence you need to secure compensation, seek the help of a California car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your dedicated car accident attorney can evaluate your case, determine which legal options are available to you, and initiate your first steps toward recovery.

Posted by highrank at 7:35 pm