Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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When automobile drivers tafile000911994102ke their eyes off the road or experience distractions, serious and fatal accidents can occur.  Indeed, according to a recent report from NBC San Diego, a woman suffered fatal injuries after she was struck by an automobile while unloading her car “along a busy La Jolla street.”  The pedestrian accident occurred in the late morning on Girard Avenue, just across the street from Nosh Delicatessen and Orange Theory Fitness, the article reported.

Elderly Driver Strikes Victim

How did the accident happen?  According to reports, the victim, a 45-year-old woman who was a resident of La Jolla, was pinned between her own parked car and the vehicle of the elderly driver who caused the collision.  The driver, a 91-year-old, “backed out of a nearby parking spot on the west side of the street, crossed into the other side, and rammed into the woman,” according to San Diego Police Department Sergeant Joe A. Benavidas.

Benavidas emphasized that the 91-year-old driver stayed at the scene after the collision to answer questions from the police.  While the accident remains under investigation, the San Diego Police Department believes that “speed likely played a factor.”

This part of Girard Avenue—around the 7700 block—is particularly busy.  According to residents of the area, the street often produces “a difficult dance in the afternoons between shoppers and heavy traffic.”  One resident, Justin Rowley, told NBC San Diego that the intersection of Silverado and Girard, near to the victim’s fatal accident, “is always busy with foot traffic and cars.”  As such, if you are a pedestrian, “you always have to watch what you are doing when you are walking across the street.”

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in California

When you lose a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.  What is a wrongful death claim?  It is a civil lawsuit that is brought by the survivors of a person who sustained fatal injuries because of another person’s negligence or bad behavior.

A wrongful death claim is a lot like a personal injury lawsuit in that it allows for recovery of damages following a serious accident and injury.  Here is another way to think about it: if the deceased person had lived, she or he would have been able to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for injuries.  Since the deceased died as a result of those injuries, the survivors can step in and file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased person.

California law specifies that only certain people are eligible to file a wrongful death claim.  Typically, the following people are the ones to bring a lawsuit for another person’s wrongful death:

  •      Surviving spouse;
  •      Surviving children;
  •      Surviving domestic partner.

If the deceased person does not have a surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children, then the following people are the likely ones to file a wrongful death claim:

  •      Surviving parents of the deceased;
  •      Surviving siblings;
  •      Children of deceased siblings;
  •      Surviving grandparents;
  •      Persons who financially depended upon the deceased person.

Pedestrians who sustain severe and life-threatening injuries in traffic collisions may be eligible for compensation.  If you have lost a loved one in a dangerous pedestrian accident, you should speak to an experienced San Diego injury lawyer about filing a wrongful death claim.

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The Deadliest Year for the Hit-and-Run?

Have hit-and-run accidents become a serious problem in the San Diego area?  At the beginning of the summer, we told you about recent data suggesting that San Diego County is experiencing increasing incidents of deadly hit-and-run crashes.  By June of 2014, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) catalogued more than 17,000 of these dangerous collisions.  Those accidents resulted in 60 fatalities, and left more than 7,000 seriously injured.

Are pedestrian fatalities becoming the norm in Southern California?  According to a recent story from NBC San Diego, deadly hit-and-run accidents continue to happen in our area.

Marine Dies in Hit-and-Run Accident

The frightening trend surrounding hit-and-run accidents continued over the summer.  An active duty Marine suffered fatal injuries after he was struck by a box truck in Oceanside, California.  The 22-year-old Marine, Joseph Bizzarro, was riding his motorcycle when the truck hit the back of his bike.  Bizzarro “suffered major blunt head trauma,” while the “truck driver fled from the scene,” according to NBC San Diego.

The truck was identified as a “Bfile5051241612699udget Rental.” The driver attempted to make an illegal U-turn in front of the motorcyclist; after realizing the truck’s intended movement, Bizzarro was not able to stop in time.  Bizzarro was riding his bike to the military base when the accident occurred.

Emergency medical responders arrived on the scene the morning of the accident, and Bizzarro was airlifted to a local hospital, where he was placed on life support.  He died as a result of his injuries several hours later.

In Bizzarro’s case, the hit-and-run driver actually “changed his mind and returned to the scene,” according to Oceanside police.  The driver, Ezequiel Garcia, was arrested for a felony hit-and-run accident.  Later reports indicated that Garcia was driving on an expired driver’s license.

Bizzarro’s wife has mobilized members of the community to remember her husband and to seek justice.  In an interview with NBC San Diego, she emphasized that she wants Garcia to receive the maximum punishment for his role in the Marine’s death.

Hit-and-Run Laws in California

In California, an offender can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for a hit-and-run offense. Under the California Vehicle Code, one can be charged with a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an accident without identifying one’s self to those involved in the crash, and if another person’s property sustained damage in the collision.

One can be charged with a felony hit-and-run offense for leaving the scene of an accident without identifying one’s self to those involved in the crash, and if another person sustains an injury, which can run from a minor injury to a fatality.  In other words, a misdemeanor hit-and-run offense deals with property damage, while a felony offense applies to situations where a person suffers an injury–the seriousness of the injury does affect the charge.

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a dangerous hit-and-run accident, contact a San Diego car accident lawyer as soon as possible.  We may be able to help you secure compensation for your injuries.

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Earlier this month, a cyclist suffered catastrophic injuries after being struck by a wrong-way driver on Fiesta Island, according to a recent story from NBC San Diego.  Other riders in San Diego’s cycling community explained that the victimDSCN1797, Juan Carlos Vinolo, 49, sustained serious injuries after pushing another cyclist out of the way of the oncoming vehicle.  The car accident left Vinolo paralyzed with a severe spinal cord injury.

Wrong-Way DUI Driver Seriously Injures Bicyclists

Vinolo was riding with about thirty other cyclists, members of the San Diego Bicycle Club.  Vinolo’s wife, Emma Irarragorri, told NBC San Diego her husband “is always obsessed with safety when he rides his bicycle.”  When her husband saw the oncoming car, he “instinctively pushed the leader out of harm’s way,” saving that cyclist’s life but suffering serious injuries in the bicycle accident.

The auto accident caused serious injuries to other members of the San Diego Bicycle Club as well.  According to the article, the “impact of the crash shattered the car’s windshield and sent at least 10 cyclists to the hospital with injuries ranging from facial cuts to bruised ribs.”  Vinolo, however, was the most seriously injured of anyone on the group.  His injuries included two punctured lungs, broken ribs, a broken left clavicle, dislocated left shoulder, loss of one kidney, spleen laceration, and six broken vertebrae.

According to one of the cycling teammates, Logan Bass, several cyclists saw the car approaching and attempted to get out of the way.  Bass remembers seeing Vinolo on top of the car, and another cyclist on the car’s windshield.  Bass sustained a contusion to his ribs and a cut on his foot.  Although he spent two days in the hospital, he and the other cyclists are most concerned about Vinolo.

Police arrested and charged the vehicle’s driver, Theresa Lynn Owens, 49, with driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance.

Bicycle-Related Injuries: Facts and Statistics

How often do bicycle accidents occur?  In general, only about 1 percent of all trips taken in our country are on bicycle. Yet cyclists face a much higher risk of crash-related injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Some important facts about bicycle crashes:

  • In 2010, about 800 bicyclists sustained fatal injuries in collisions;
  • About 515,000 emergency room visits take place each year due to bicycle-related injuries;
  • On average, serious and fatal crash-related injuries result in medical costs and productivity losses of about $5 billion annually.

Who is at risk in a serious or fatal bicycle accident?  Risk factors include:

  • Age: Adolescents between the ages of 15-24 and adults aged 45 and older are at the highest risk of a bicycle accident fatality.  The highest rate of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries occurs among children under the age of 15.  In fact, about 60 percent of all bicycle-related injuries involve children under the age of 15.
  • Sex: The CDC reports that males are “much more likely to be killed or injured” in a bicycle-related accident than are female cyclists.
  • Area: Urban areas are much more dangerous for bicyclists, particularly at non-intersection locations.

Even nonfatal bicycle accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, including spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.  If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in a bicycle accident or traffic collision, it is important to discuss your case with a San Diego accident lawyer.  We can help you to seek compensation for your injuries.

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New Study Questions Significance of California’s Cell Phone Ban

Six years ago, the use of hand-held phones while driving was banned in California.  The ban, aimed at preventing serious car accidents, led other states to pass similar laws.  In fact, thirteen states now restrict the use of cell phones to hIMG_2322ands-free-only devices for people behind the wheel.  But has California’s cell phone ban actually reduced the number of traffic collisions?  According to arecent article in UT San Diego, a new study out of the University of Colorado questions the utility of the cell phone ban.

As the article points out, for almost a decade we have heard talk about the statistics surrounding texting and hand-held talking while driving. In particular, doing so results in distracted driving, and distracted driving causes life-threatening and fatal automobile accidents.  However, according to Daniel Kaffine, associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, there is no clear “statistical evidence of a reduction” in accidents associated with California’s cell phone ban.

The cell phone ban first went into effect in July 2008.  Over the six months that followed, “researchers determined there was no evidence crashes were reduced.”  Kaffine explained that, if talking on a handheld phone while driving was really so dangerous, “and if even just a fraction of people stopped using their phones, we would expect to find some decrease in accidents.”  Yet Kaffine’s research team found no such evidence.

Kaffine’s team at the University of Colorado is not the first group of researchers to question the efficacy of handheld cell phone bans.  In fact, a study from 2013 published in American Economic Journal looked closely at data surrounding “nationwide, single-vehicle, single-occupant crash numbers” near the time when a lot of states implemented texting-while-driving bans.  According to the study, “initially, there was a notable drop in collisions.”  However, only three months after the bans were enacted, “crashes had crept back up to levels seen before the texting ban was in place.”

Why Are Handheld Talking and Texting Bans Not Working?

Law enforcement officials say these bans are doing a lot of good, and California officials reject Kaffine’s study.  However, the recent research suggests some compelling reasons why neither ban made much of an impact in California or across the country:

  •      Distracted driving does not just result from handheld phone use.  It is possible many California drivers switched to hands-free devices. A number of researchers suggest this method of talking is “equally distracting;”
  •      Drivers choose to ignore the ban, and continue using handheld devices for talking and texting while driving;
  •      The drivers most likely to use handheld devices are “the type of drivers who engage in other distracting behaviors.”  In short, they replaced one distracting behavior—the handheld cell use—with another;
  •      Talking while driving is not as dangerous as believed.

Law enforcement officials stress that we, as drivers, are less perceptive when talking while driving.  According to one California Highway Patrol Officer, if the ban is not working, it is because people are not following the law. The number of tickets issued could support this point, with nearly 20,000 issued in 2011, more than 15,000 issued in 2012, and nearly 11,000 issued in 2013.  The California Highway Patrol predicts that number will rise in 2014.

Have you sustained serious injuries in a car accident?  Distracted driving can lead to fatal traffic collisions and debilitating injuries.  If you have been hurt, it is important to contact an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer.  You may be eligible for financial compensation.

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Hit and Run Data in San Diego County

San Diego County has been experiencing several years of “the deadly hit and run,” according to a recent article in Voice of San Diego.  Indeed, between the years of 2008 and 2012, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) reports that more than 17,000 hit-and-run accidents occurred across the county.  In those accidents, nearly 7,000 victims sustained serious injuries and nearly 60 suffered fatal injuries.

TearsWhat’s happening in San Diego County when it comes to deadly car accidents?  Officer Mark McCullough indicated that the sheer number of hit-and-run accidents hasn’t climbed dramatically in the last five years, but the egregiousness of the cases has grown.  For example, in 2014 alone, “11 pedestrians have been hit and killed by drivers who fled the scene,” according to data collected by the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office.  Let’s remember that the average number of deaths is about 10, and we already have 11 heinous cases reported by June of this year.

And to make matters worse, hit-and-run drivers, by and large, are getting away with these crimes.  The San Diego Police Department explained that it has only solved one of the fatal hit-and-runs that have occurred since January.  As early as February of this year, NBC 7 referred to the “spike in hit-and-runs as an epidemic,” and more of these catastrophic collisions have happened since.

Examples of Fatal Hit-and-Run Accidents in San Diego County

In February 2014, San Diego news agencies had reported a “quick succession” of hit-and-run accidents.  On January 31, Seamus O’Bryan, 32, was killed by a white sedan that struck his motorcycle.  O’Bryan had been transporting himself and a friend, Peter Newbigin, who had been visiting San Diego from Australia.  The white sedan “had been traveling in the wrong lane.”  It stopped only briefly after striking O’Bryan’s motorcycle before turning and “speeding out of sight.”

Many people in the area witnessed the crash and called for an emergency medical response team.  However, O’Bryan was pronounced dead less than 30 minutes later.  San Diego detectives “were never able to track down the driver of that white sedan.”

Just three days after O’Bryan’s death, a 23-year-old Albertsons employee, Benjamin Ramirez, died in a hit-and-run accident while walking home from work.  Shortly thereafter, Alonso Flores Pacheco, an 81-year-old man from San Ysidro, was struck and killed in a similar manner.

Accident Resources and Getting Legal Help

As the article points out, the more severe a crime, the more resources that a police department will provide to track down leads.  For hit and run cases that result in fatal injuries, the San Diego Police Department does its best to collect evidence that can lead to an arrest.

However, the traffic division of the San Diego Police Department has only six detectives assigned to it due to budget constraints.  As such, “detectives juggle a stack of cases each day, which include misdemeanor traffic cases as well as felonies, like hit-and-run fatalities.”

Have you been injured in a car accident or lost a loved one because of a fatal hit-and-run collision?  It’s important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego accident attorney, as you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries.  Contact our office to learn more about how we can assist with your case.

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Distracted Driving Fines and Accidents

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Distracted driving is a serious problem in Southern California, and it can result in serious car accidents. Whether you’re talking on your cell phone, texting while driving, or even attempting to use a GPS device, distracted driving can lead to catastrophic injuries.  Chula Vista police have been cracking down on distracted drivers.  According to a recent article in CBS 8 San Diego, “seventy south bay motorists were facing fines Monday for using their cellphones while driving.”  This was the fourth “crackdown operation” conducted by Chula Vista police in April.

Texting and Driving

Have you sustained injuries in a serious automobile accident?  Has a loved one been injured in a traffic collision caused by a distracted driver?  You may be eligible to file a claim for financial compensation.  At the Walton Law Firm, our experienced San Diego car accident attorneys have been handling cases for years and can answer your questions for you today.

Details of the Chula Vista Cell Phone Crackdown

According to the news report from CBS 8 San Diego, the ticketed drivers were issued citations between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on a Sunday.  Fifteen of them were cited for texting while driving, while the remaining 55 were cited for using a cell phone “in some other manner,” according to the Chula Vista Police.

This crackdown operation was the fourth in the month of April.  On April 10, 15 drivers were cited for texting while driving, while another 60 received citations for cell phone use.  Another operation took place on April 17, when 8 drivers received tickets for texting while driving and 44 were issued citations for additional cell phone use.  A third crackdown operation took place on April 24, when 83 Chula Vista police issued citations to a total of 83 drivers.  Of those motorists, police caught 13 of them texting while driving.  The minimum citation for first-time violator is enough to make Southern California drivers think twice, at a high price of $161.  For repeat offenders, the ticket increased substantially.  Repeat offenders are issued citations of at least $281.

In other words, San Diego drivers who use their cell phones will be ticketed for distracted driving.  In California, all drivers are “required to use hands-free equipment while talking on their cellular telephones,” according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.  In addition to hand-held talking, texting while driving is illegal in California.  In case you didn’t know, there’s a “law against driving while reading, writing or sending a text message,” and the law applies to emails and instant messages, too.

Distracted Driving Statistics

Given the devastating statistics connected with distracted driving, the Chula Vista police department may have saved lives and prevented injuries with its recent crackdowns.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 9 Americans suffer fatal injuries because of distracted driving everyday, and more than 1,060 sustain serious injuries.

Is distracted driving a term that only applies to using a phone in some manner while you’re behind the wheel?  The CDC explains that distracted driving is any kind of “driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving.”  Three primary types of driver distraction exist, and they include:

  •      Visual distraction, which involves “taking your eyes off the road”
  •      Manual distraction, which involves “taking your hands off the wheel”
  •      Cognitive distraction, which involves “taking your mind off of driving”

All three types of distraction can be very devastating, and they can result in severe accidents.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision caused by a distracted driver, it’s important to speak to an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer about your case.  The injury lawyers at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your case with you today.

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San Diego Crime Stoppers Addresses Hit-and-Run Accidents

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In recent months, San Diego has seen a number of fatal hit-and-run injuries and serious pedestrian accidents. Most notably, authorities recently asked for help in identifying a truck involved in an Escondido hit-and-run, while a San Diego mother died after being struck by a truck while walking her daughter to school. Is there a way to help curb these hazards in Southern California? According to a recent article from NBC San Diego, the city’s Crime Stoppers group is “looking for ways to help put an end to a recent rash of deaths stemming from hit and run accidents.”

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Based on the report, San Diego has seen a “recent spike in hit and runs,” and it led Crime Stoppers to think about how it can provide financial incentives to catch drivers who flee from the scene of an accident. The organization emphasized that it wants to “help create an incentive that would shake loose more information.” In short, Crime Stoppers believes that the solution may involve “big money for tipsters” who can provide valuable information about hit-and-run accidents.

Have you lost a loved one in a dangerous pedestrian accident? Have you suffered the consequences of a hit-and-run accident? You may be able to file a claim for compensation. At the Walton Law Firm, we know that pedestrian accidents are a serious issue in Southern California, and we can talk to you about your case today.

Recent Hit-and-Run Incidents in Southern California

According to NBC San Diego, the unfortunate hit-and-run trend that seems to be developing in Southern California began on January 31st, when a motorcyclist, Seamus O’Bryan, died after being struck by a white sedan that fled the scene of the crash. Only three days later, a white box truck struck and killed Benjamin Ramirez, 23, as he was walking home from work in Escondido. According to reports, the truck “slowed then left the scene.” Less than one week later, Alonso Flores Pacheco, 81, died while crossing the street in San Ysidro. His son witnessed the accident and noted that the car “just kept going.”

Since hit-and-run accidents often leave victims with severe and sometimes fatal accidents, it can be difficult to catch the drivers who fail to stop. According to Crime Stoppers Officer Jim Johnson, the primary problem with solving hit-and-run crashes is limited information about the driver. Without a clear idea of who caused the accident, solving these “frequent crimes” can be quite a challenge.

Crime Stoppers Hopes to Increase Cash Rewards

Since hit-and-run accidents nearly always rely on witnesses in order to be solved, Crime Stoppers believes it may be able to entice more bystanders to provide information about the drivers who perpetrate these crimes. Johnson told NBC San Diego that Crime Stoppers is operating under the assumption that, if a witness isn’t “willing to call for $1,000, maybe they’ll call for $10,000.” As of right now, the highest reward amount for tips concerning felony hit-and-run cases is $1,000. Higher amounts, like the $10,000 rewards offered for tips in arson cases, are considered “restricted” rewards. Johnson explained that “restricted rewards money is earmarked . . . specifically for a type of case or type of crime.”

Yet, NBC San Diego emphasized, “eyewitnesses are key to solving hit and run crimes.” Indeed, without eyewitnesses, “the trail goes cold quickly.” Crime Stoppers is seeking out private donors to add to the reward amount for tips related to hit-and-run accidents, and they’ll also be asking local governments “to fund a hit and run restricted rewards program in San Diego.”

Have you or a loved one sustained injuries in a car accident? Contact an experienced California accident lawyer today to learn more about filing a lawsuit.

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Truck Crash Kills Mother of Four
The Shelltown community in San Diego suffered a shocking loss last week after a truck accident killed a mother of four and two young children, according to a report in NBC San Diego. A San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) company utility truck driver “plowed into” Anna Herrera Rodriguez, 39, her 5-year-old daughter, and a 4-year-old neighbor. Police investigators at the scene confirmed that the driver had been distracted at the time of the auto accident. This tragic accident confirms that distracted driving and drowsy driving can have life-altering repercussions. No charges have yet been filed, but “the investigation is ongoing, and police said they do plan to pursue charges in this case,” according to NBC San Diego.

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What happened at the scene of the crash? The accident occurred on a Wednesday morning as Herrera was walking the two children to Balboa Elementary School. After the vehicle hit the pedestrians, Rodriguez was pinned under the utility truck. Her 11-year-old son reported that “he walked out of his home moments after the crash only to see his mother critically injured on the ground.” Neighbors heard screaming and described a “horrible scene” in the aftermath of the accident. Several neighbors actually rushed to the scene and lifted the truck from Rodriguez, but she died as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash.

The 4-year-old girl involved in the accident sustained injuries to her chest and leg, and she was taken to a nearby hospital. She was later released and is at home with her family. Rodriguez’s 5-year-old daughter sustained severe injuries in the crash, including liver damage and a fractured pelvis. She was transported to Rady Children’s Hospital where she is still undergoing treatment.

Community members reported that Rodriguez pushed the two girls out of the way in the moments before the collision, sacrificing her life to save theirs. SDG&E issued a statement acknowledging that the driver had been on duty while driving a company vehicle, and emphasizing that it would be “cooperating fully with authorities.”

Distracted Driving Dangers

This isn’t the first accident involved a distracted driver of an SDG&E truck. In fact, NBC San Diego ran a story earlier this month about a fatal hit and run accident on January 6th in El Cajon. An SDG&E driver, Hector Hoyt, was involved in the crash that killed 54-year-old Robert Fisher. According to authorities in that case, Hoyt’s truck struck the victim when he was crossing the street at an intersection. The truck “immediately fled the scene, leaving the pedestrian lying in the middle of the street.” As a result, the victim was run over a second time by a car that didn’t see him in the road. The car occupants remained at the scene and cooperated with police.

Like the recent Rodriguez case, this accident remains under investigation. As such, we don’t know for certain the extent of the reckless driving involved in these accidents, but we do know that driving distractions can be extremely hazardous and even fatal.

Did you know that texting while driving means that your eyes are off the road for a total of 4.6 seconds? While that may not seem like a high number, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “at 55 MPH, that’s like driving an entire football field blindfolded.” The NHTSA reports that distracted driving “is a dangerous epidemic on American’s roadways.” In fact, more than 3,300 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2012. Cell phone use was involved in 18 percent of these accidents.

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a distracted driving accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Don’t hesitate to contact the experienced San Diego accident lawyers at the Walton Law Firm. We can discuss your case with you today.

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Automobiles and Product Defects

Product liability cases frequently involve faulty automobile parts. Sometimes these flaws result in car accidents, while others cause injuries in different situations. These defective product injuries often vary widely, and defects can occur during the design process (before the part is even made), in the manufacturing stage, or at the marketing level. In fact, the recent Toyota fatal acceleration cases have been making news across the country. Recently, however, an article in Automotive News suggested that automobile dealerships might be liable for injuries sustained in defective passenger vehicles. Reporting on a recent California Court of Appeals case, the article explained that dealerships that “inspect and deliver new vehicles on behalf of manufacturers may be held liable for any defect, even if they didn’t actually sell the vehicles and weren’t negligent themselves.”

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In some product liability claims, injury victims may be able to pursue a legal theory of strict liability. In many of these cases, plaintiffs obtain financial compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured by a defective product in the San Diego area, it’s extremely important to speak to an experienced product liability attorney.

Details of the California Case
The California Court of Appeals case referenced here is one against Todey Motor Co., Inc. out of Oxnard, California. The plaintiff, Fernando Ibarra, suffered severe injuries, including paralysis, in a dangerous rollover accident involving a 2000 Chevrolet C3500 pickup purchased from the dealership.

According to the article in Automotive News, “California law has long held that a selling dealership is in the ‘chain of commerce’ for strict liability purposes.” Strict liability simply means that a defendant can be held liable for injuries even if it didn’t act negligently or with an intent to harm the plaintiff. In other words, simply being involved in the “chain of commerce” process involved in making and selling the vehicle, a selling dealership can be required to compensate injured plaintiffs.

But this case was a bit different, as Todey Motor Company wasn’t the seller of the vehicle—instead, it acted as a sort of weigh station between the manufacturer and the selling dealership. Todey did a “pre-delivery inspection” on the truck that didn’t involve examining the truck for any design or manufacturing defects, and it didn’t make a profit from the sale of the truck. Instead, Todey only earned $74.56 for the pre-delivery inspection.

Todey argued that it shouldn’t be liable for Ibarra’s injuries. Specifically, it asserted that it hadn’t actually been involved in the “chain of commerce” since it didn’t receive a profit from the ultimate sale of the vehicle. According to the Automotive News article, the store claimed that it “had received no direct financial benefit from the pickup’s sale, wasn’t integral to bringing the vehicle safely to market, and had no control or substantial influence over its manufacture or distribution.”

A lower court agreed with Todey, but the California appellate court said that Ibarra could go forward with a strict liability claim against the store. In the unpublished decision, the court explained that “Todey’s inspection and delivery of the truck placed it within the vertical chain of distribution for purposes of imposing strict liability for manufacturing or design defects.” Indeed, the court further emphasized that, “although Todey did not sell the pickup, it was the last link in getting the vehicle from its franchisor to the consumer,” and therefore had a “substantial ongoing relationship” to the manufacturer.

This decision suggests that plaintiffs in California may have more avenues of redress when they’ve been injured by a faulty automobile part. If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries in a car accident caused by a product defect, contact the injury lawyers at the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about filing a claim for financial compensation.

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Four Major Bus Crashes in December

Rainy weather in Southern California has made the highways slick and dangerous. Currently, four serious bus crashes have occurred on the California highways in the last month. Some commentators believe the rainy weather contributed significantly to the crashes.

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A tour bus on its way to Valley View Casino, just north of San Diego, crashed and caused serious injuries and one fatality, according to an article in Reuters. The bus accident injured more than 20 passengers when it overturned near Fallbrook in the middle of the afternoon, reported California Highway Patrol Office Jim Bettencourt. According to the article, the bus passengers were older adults on a casino excursion. The crash victims were transported to nearby hospitals, where their injuries were reported as “ranging from minor to serious.” In the hours after the accident, the cause of the charter bus crash remained under investigation.

Similar accidents have occurred since, making for a total of four very serious bus accidents in Southern California in the month of December alone. For example, every passenger on a 30-passengers bus sustained injuries “when it spun out near Corona,” according to an officer on the scene. Many of these passengers suffered minor injuries, “but several were taken to area hospitals with moderate injuries,” reported Reuters. One of those passengers later died from his injuries, according to an article in the Huffington Post. This bus had been on its way from Orange County to a casino in the San Diego area. This crash, too, remains under investigation, but one of the police officers on the scene indicated that “rain might be a factor.”

Does rain often cause serious bus accidents and traffic crashes? Travis Monks, a California Highway Patrol Officer, emphasized that drivers need to take extra precaution when it’s raining in Southern California. According to Monks, “the roadway was wet at the time of the accident.” Rain may also have been a factor in a Riverside County accident in which a Riverside Transit Agency bus “slid sideways and hit a car traveling in the opposite direction,” according to the Huffington Post.

Just a few days later, the Huffington Post reported that a tour bus heading north from a San Diego-area casino crashed off a freeway east of Los Angeles. In this bus accident, the vehicle crashed just after 4:30 a.m. when it careened off an I-10 shoulder. According to the article in the Huffington Post, “the bus wheels went into a small drainage ditch and it came to a rest against a fence and light pole.” The bus had been carrying 40 passengers, and 13 sustained injuries. Of those victims, only two reported moderate injuries, while eleven reported minor injuries.

While investigators haven’t yet determined with certainty whether slick roadways caused these accidents, the slippery highways combined with the speed of the buses likely played a role.

Rainy Highways Can Cause Serious Accidents

Is bus travel safe after heavy California rain? According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management Program, precipitation can significantly impact roadway safety. For instance, rain can lessen visibility distance, and it can cause pavement friction and lane obstruction. In addition, precipitation can negatively affect vehicle performance and driver behavior.

If you or a loved one has recently suffered injuries in a bus accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. It’s important to speak to an experienced California bus accident lawyer. Contact us today to discuss your claim.

Photo Credit: pantranco_bus via Compfight cc

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