In any civil lawsuit, steps like marshaling all of the evidence that supports your case is an obviously important part of the process. There are other procedural details, however, that can be easier to overlook or, alternatively, easier to get wrong if you aren’t keenly familiar with the rules. In one recent case involving a fatal vehicle crash, the plaintiffs retained counsel, and they did comply with the rules, which is why their $2 million judgment survived a defendant’s challenge to the manner in which they provided service of process.
If you are injured in an auto accident, you’ll likely have to jump through several hurdles as part of your pursuit of recovery. One of the keys to maximizing the chances of success is avoiding hurdles that are not mandatory but that can trip up your case. In one recent case involving an injured delivery driver, the Sixth Appellate District Court decided that the driver didn’t have to submit to an exam by the defense’s vocational rehabilitation expert because that type of exam wasn’t expressly listed in the California statutes.
In many walks of business (and life), you will hear people talk about “the fine print.” In legal matters, it helps to have a team on your side well-versed in identifying the little things that can make big differences in your injury case. For example, California law has a statutory section that requires plaintiffs, in some situations, to pay some of a defendant’s costs if the plaintiff received and refused a qualifying settlement offer. In the case of one injured pedestrian, she escaped paying any of the defendant’s costs because the defendant’s settlement offer did not meet the strict requirements of Section 998 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
When you are injured in a vehicle accident in California, whether you are a driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian, there are many hurdles along your path to obtaining a damages award to compensate you for the harm you’ve suffered. One of the biggest impediments can be the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company. In one recent case, a pair of teens struck by a drunk driver ended up in a prolonged battle with the driver’s insurance company regarding payment for their injuries. Since the insurance company improperly declined to settle the case, a California court awarded the teens $3 million, and the Second District Court of Appeal recently upheld that decision.
There are many vital decisions that you must make in an auto accident case. Are you willing to settle, and, if so, for what amount? If you are willing to settle, what degree of authority do you want to hand off to your legal team, and what do you want to hold onto yourself? Sometimes, the success or failure of a case may depend on these strategic decisions. In one case, recently decided by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the appeals court ruled in favor of an injured woman, deciding that she was not bound by a settlement agreement and was free to litigate the case against the driver who injured her. The injured woman won because the law required proof that the injured woman specifically authorized her law firm to settle the case on her behalf, and the at-fault driver lacked that evidence.
A California Appeals Court has held that the victims of a pedestrian accident may proceed with their personal injury case against the city. In the case, the plaintiffs had pressed the pedestrian warning beacon at a crosswalk before crossing the street. As they proceeded to travel across the road, they were struck by a driver who did not see the warning beacon or the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs filed suit against the city, claiming that the pedestrian crosswalk was a dangerous condition on public property. The city moved for summary judgment, contending that it was covered by government design immunity. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the city, and the plaintiffs appealed.
California law provides that a public entity may be liable for an injury proximately caused by the dangerous condition of its property if the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury sustained, and the public entity had actual or constructive notice of the condition a sufficient time before the injury to have taken preventative measures. A public entity is not liable, however, if the injury is caused by a plan or design to which the public entity reasonably gave its discretionary approval. In order to establish design immunity, the city must show: (1) a causal relationship between the plan or design and the accident, (2) discretionary approval of the plan or design before the construction or improvement, and (3) substantial evidence supporting the reasonableness of the plan or design.
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.
A California Court of Appeal reviewed a verdict in a wrongful death case in which two pedestrians were killed by a semi-truck driver while crossing at an intersection, ultimately affirming the $15 million jury award to the victims’ family members. In this case, the truck driver was stopped at an intersection, blocking the crosswalk. He then backed up the truck to allow the pedestrians to cross the street in front of him. The pedestrians then waited at the corner to cross the perpendicular street. When the light turned green, the pedestrians began to cross. The truck also pulled up, intending to make a right turn, although his signal was not on. As it was turning, the front of the truck struck the pedestrians from behind, and its back tires rolled over them, killing them. The two minor children of one of the victims brought wrongful death claims against the truck driver and the driver’s employer.
After a trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded each child $3.75 million for past non-economic damages and $3.75 million for future non-economic damages, a total of $7.5 million for each child. The defendants moved for a new trial, arguing that the trial court erred in excluding evidence that the decedent was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the accident, and that the damages awarded were excessive. The appeals court rejected both of the defendant’s arguments.
Even though reports of pedestrian accidents appear in the news at an alarming rate, people continue to suffer from serious injuries and even loss of life after being hit by a vehicle. San Francisco is no stranger to these tragedies, which take place for a variety of reasons, from obscured road signs to a reckless drunk driver. Anyone who has been personally impacted by a pedestrian accident should closely review their options, which may include filing a lawsuit.
As a 20-year-old pedestrian was recently trying to cross a Sunset District road in San Francisco, she was struck by car. The woman was able to survive the accident, which occurred in the afternoon, but required medical care for her non-life-threatening injuries.
Although the driver of the vehicle claims they did not see the pedestrian until it was too late, they did receive a citation for failing to yield. The accident marks the third time this year that a pedestrian has been hit while trying to cross the road in this particular crosswalk, which some local residents believe is unacceptably dangerous.
When someone is hit by a car or loses a loved one in a pedestrian accident, it is important for them to do everything they can to move forward. While the physical and emotional pain these incidents cause can be overwhelming, a pedestrian accident can lead to financial problems as well. Considering funeral expenses and medical bills, families may struggle with the costs associated with these tragedies. Too many of these stories appear in the San Francisco news, which should serve as a reminder to Bay Area drivers that they need to look out for pedestrians.
A 98-year-old man was struck by a car while he was attempting to cross an intersection in Berkeley. Although he had not lost consciousness when law enforcement officials first showed up, he lost his life after being taken to the hospital.
According to a spokeswoman for the police department, the driver cooperated with authorities and did not appear to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the collision occurred. The man who lost his life was a World War II veteran and had enjoyed walking every day for over 50 years. The former San Francisco State University teacher had four children and was also known for his accomplishments in the field of psychology.