When you’ve suffered harm as a result of someone else’s negligence, there are many important hurdles that you and your legal counsel must clear to obtain the compensation you deserve. You have to collect all of the factual evidence you need, navigate all of the required procedural steps, and then, at trial, put on your case and thwart all of the defenses the other side will offer. In a case from earlier this year, juryveridctalert.com reported that a San Bernardino County jury imposed $3.5 million in damages against a negligent driver who crashed head-on into a mom’s SUV, injuring her and killing her 16-year-old daughter. The parents succeeded in part because they successfully countered the at-fault driver’s defense that she was not liable due to a “sudden emergency.”
Sometimes, legal concepts and rules are, in theory, based upon straightforward notions. For example, the law says that an injured person should be allowed to recover the “reasonable value” of the medical services she received as a result of her accident. This sounds like a direct and common-sense method, right? Unfortunately, these theoretically straightforward concepts can become highly complex in reality, especially given the ultra-complicated and byzantine system of medical billing and payment in this country. The Third District Court of Appeal tried to bring some clarity to this murky issue in a recent ruling, declaring that an injured plaintiff can use the full amount of a medical provider’s charges to establish “the reasonable value of the services” received.
A man injured in a Southern California auto accident received approval from the Second District Court of Appeal to resume pursuing his negligence case against the driver who injured him. The appeals court overturned a dismissal of the injured man’s case on statute of limitations grounds, ruling that, since the paramedic who allegedly caused the accident was not in the act of providing services to a patient, the injured man had two years, rather than one, to file his lawsuit.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling addressed a somewhat uncommon but nevertheless important situation. What happens when the judge in your injury case dismisses the jury but discovers, only minutes later, that the jury delivered a legally incorrect verdict? The high court’s recent decision concluded that, since the jury had not become tainted, and the judge had not issued a final judgment, the judge was allowed to bring the jury back, and the re-crafted verdict that the jury issued in favor of a man injured in an auto accident was allowed to stand.
A California Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether a nonrelative resident exclusion provision in an insurance policy should be upheld or struck as contrary to public policy. In the case, the driver and his college roommate, a passenger in the vehicle, were involved in a motor vehicle collision. The roommate brought a personal injury claim against the driver and the other motorist as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident. The driver’s insurance company filed a complaint for declaratory relief, alleging that the roommate was defined as an “insured” under the policy and did not have a duty to indemnify the driver for the amount awarded to the roommate. The superior court found in favor of the insurer, and the parties appealed.
After reviewing the entirety of the record, the Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that the insurance policy provision excluding the roommate from coverage was an overbroad expansion of a statutorily permitted exclusion for relative residents, and it was also contrary to public policy.
California law allows insurers to exclude claims for bodily injuries brought by an insured, with one of its goals to prevent fraud against insurance companies. In the case, the driver’s insurance policy defined insured to include residents who inhabit the same dwelling as the named insured. The policy thus excluded the driver’s roommate from coverage. In analyzing the law with respect to the insurance policy at issue, the Court of Appeal interpreted the relevant California statutory provisions together, holding that while they do provide authority for an insurer to exclude an insured, that person must have an insurable interest to be excluded.
In a pivotal opinion reversing both the trial and appellate courts’ decisions, a California Supreme Court holding alleviates the burden on plaintiffs bringing a wrongful death action against the government based on an alleged dangerous condition of public property. The issue before the court in this case was whether the Government Claims Act requires a plaintiff to establish that a dangerous condition not only caused a decedent’s fatal injury but also the third-party conduct that brought about the accident. The court held that it did not.
In this case, the decedents were in a fatal car accident, in which a collision by another car forced their vehicle over the curb and onto the grassy center median of the boulevard, where the car hit one of several large magnolia trees in the median. Although they were all wearing seat belts, the driver and passengers died from their injuries. A jury subsequently convicted the other driver of vehicular manslaughter.
The plaintiffs filed a wrongful death action against the City of Los Angeles, alleging that the particular road constituted a dangerous condition because the magnolia trees on the median were too close to the roadway, posing an unreasonable risk of harm to drivers who lose control of their cars, and in this case causing the decedents’ fatal injuries. In support of their case, the plaintiffs submitted affidavits from several experts who stated that the proximity of the trees in the median to the roadway was a foreseeable danger to the public. In addition, the plaintiffs presented evidence of 142 accidents on the boulevard between 1998 and 2009, as well as publications discussing roadside safety. The city moved for summary judgment, arguing that the public property did not cause the accident, and the other driver did. The motion was granted by the trial court and upheld by the court of appeals.
The California Court of Appeal reviewed a case involving a pedestrian killed by a motor vehicle, ultimately reversing the lower court’s grant of summary judgment and allowing the plaintiffs to proceed with their suit. In this case, the relatives of a pedestrian killed in a motor vehicle collision brought an action against the driver for negligence, as well as against the passenger for willfully interfering with the driver of a vehicle. The passenger filed a motion for summary judgment, which the lower court granted.
In the case, the occupants of the vehicle were driving to a drugstore when the front passenger told the driver to take a shortcut through a residential street, which had a posted speed limit of 25 mph. The passenger knew the street had dips that could cause a car traveling at a high rate of speed to become airborne, and she told the driver that he should drive fast over them to “catch air.” The driver sped up to such a degree that he lost control of the car and collided into the victim’s parked car as the victim was attempting to put a child in a car seat. The victim was killed by the impact. Evidence indicated that the defendants’ vehicle was traveling at approximately 70 miles per hour at the time of impact.
If you have been injured in a rear-end collision, fault may not be a disputed issue in your case, unless you stopped on a roadway for no reason. However, the extent of your injuries may be an issue. Insurance companies tend to minimize injuries, especially if your vehicle does not show extensive damage. If your vehicle does not show significant damage, the insurance company will argue that you could not have suffered significant injuries.
At the Colma Rear-End Auto Accident law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, our lawyers will help you recover compensation for everything you have lost in a rear-end collision or other type of car crash: medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability that may result. We act fast and work diligently to protect your interests at every stage of the legal process. Continue Reading