The Golden State has some of the most plaintiff-friendly laws in the country designed to protect citizens from negligence and harm. The California State Legislature has worked hard through the years to provide a system of laws that keep us safe on and off the job, and when accidents happen the laws provide for the injured, giving them rights to seek damages for their pain and suffering. Whether your injury occurred due to the reckless, careless, or even intentional act of another party, make no mistake, California law is there to protect you. But defendants accused of negligence will often try to shirk their responsibilities to get out of paying, so although the laws are designed to protect the injured, you’ll need a personal injury attorney in Southern California who has the experience to make sure the law sticks, and that you get compensated for all of your pain and suffering, for your medical bills, rehabilitation, and ongoing care for as long as it is needed—even if that means forever.
There are many ways that injuries can happen, too many to list here; however, let’s consider some of the more common.
Motor Vehicle/Pedestrian/Motorcycle/Bicycle Accidents
Laws Designed To Protect Pedestrians
Unfortunately many times a year, in every city, pedestrians are struck, sometimes killed, when legally crossing streets at designated crosswalks. While the pedestrian does have the right of way, pedestrians should always use common sense and exercise extreme caution in unmarked, but legal, crosswalks. Pedestrians should never enter a crosswalk when the counting clock only has a few seconds left or when the crosswalk light illuminates a ‘wait’ or ‘don’t walk’ signal. And of course, if a pedestrian is attempting to cross a road or street that is not marked or has no crosswalk, the pedestrian should yield to oncoming vehicles. But all in all, when a pedestrian is crossing legally in a designated crosswalk, the law is designed to protect their rights, and they should be compensated for their injuries if a negligent driver is at fault.
Vehicle drivers are required to abide by many laws designed to provide for their safety, and the safety of others.
Drivers are required to pass on the left, give the other vehicle plenty of room, and not return to the driving lane until they have sufficiently created a safe distance between the two vehicles such that they can safely pull in front after passing.
Drivers are required to follow other drivers from a safe distance behind. Hovering, or ‘riding the bumper’ are unsafe driving practices and can lead to accidents.
Many people are confused about intersections, so to be clear—when two or more vehicles approach an intersection at the same time, and there are no traffic lights to guide them, the driver on the left must always yield the right of way to the driver on the right.
Drivers must always alert other vehicles of their intention to turn by signaling. A visual blinking signal will let vehicles know that you intend to turn; without signals, accidents happen.
No driver should ever use a smartphone or mobile device while driving unless it is in a voice-command/hands-free mode such that the driver can simply talk to the device and listen to instructions given. Operating a vehicle while using a mobile device in any other way than the aforementioned can be deadly. Many people die annually from texting and/or talking with smartphones or mobile devices in their hands. These are preventable deaths and the laws are in place to provide for public safety.
Laws Regarding Motorcycles
In California, anyone riding a motorcycle on a street, road, highway, or other roadway is required to wear a helmet. Additionally, as with any other vehicle, a motorcycle must have working headlights and signal lights for use when in operation.
Southern California is a great place to get outdoors and ride your bike. Many Californians enjoy the pathways and trails all over the state, but when bicycles meet vehicles in collisions, the bicyclist is bound to lose. California has an assortment of laws in place to protect the rights of cyclists. Learn the rules of the road before heading out, and always wear a helmet. And if an accident happens, contact a personal injury attorney in Southern California to help you protect your rights and recover damages.
Insurance & Liability
Southern California is serious about insurance, and vehicle owners must carry insurance policies that meet state required minimums for liability coverage. Talk to your Southern California personal injury lawyer or contact a licensed insurance agent for more information on minimums and requirements. California abides by the no-fault insurance system which mandates that all owners of motor vehicles are liable for injuries and property damage caused by negligent acts or ‘lack of action’ up to the state-enforced liability limits.
Giving Information/Providing Aid
When an accident happens on the road, drivers are required by law to stop, provide their contact and insurance information, etc., and also provide aid to any injured persons. Additionally, drivers must report accidents to the California Highway Patrol or police of proper jurisdiction within 24 hours of the accident.
The Dram Shop Law
This law is designed to provide further protection to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians from intoxicated drivers. The law establishes—places of business that serve alcohol can be liable if/when their patrons cause injury to others due to intoxication.
Unfortunately, there are many cases of medical malpractice per year that have ended with patient sickness or even death. When a medical worker or healthcare provider is found to be in breach of upholding the required appropriate standard of care when providing services to a patient, that worker or provider can be held liable if injury results due to their negligence. This is a very complex area of law and there are many factors, variables, requirements, and nuanced laws, so if you or a loved one have been injured due to possible medical malpractice, consult with a Southern California personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Regarding Dog Bites
In California, there is no ‘second chance’ that you might find in other states. Some states will forgive a dog owner, protect them from liability if their dog bites someone, having never bitten anyone before, and the dog owner claims to have had no knowledge of the dog being dangerous at all. This is not how the law in California works. In California, even a first bite will firmly place liability upon the dog owner for any injuries their dog causes.
Product Defects & Liability
Products we use can sometimes have defects. Defects in manufacturing or failure to provide safety information can lead to injuries. Many lawsuits are brought per year that deal with personal injuries resulting from product defects. However, claims must be substantiated by establishing certain facts. A plaintiff in a product defect liability case must establish that the defendant did in fact design, manufacture, and distribute a defective product, that the product already had a defect when it left the defendant’s actual possession, and that the plaintiff used the product in a reasonable way in accordance with the intended use(s) of the product, and finally—that the plaintiff did suffer harm due to the defect.
Property owners and anyone who is designated to be in control of premises, can be held liable for injuries as well as damages that occur due to negligence or inaction. These injuries may include slip and fall accidents, construction accidents, dog bites, or simply injuries caused by negligence or willful misconduct.
This, like some other areas of liability and personal injury law, is a complex area of law and can require a skilled Southern California personal injury lawyer to interpret the law and present a case that will be effective. Therefore, if you’ve suffered an injury that you feel is due to the negligence or willful misconduct of another, or if there were hazards upon a property that caused your injury, or put you in a dangerous situation, contact a personal injury attorney in Southern California right away and get counsel.