Monthly Archives: October 2013

Car Accidents Caused by Cell Phone Use in California

In an instant, you can be involved in a car accident. Even people who are not distracted by any surroundings or passengers in the car can still find themselves in a collision. Accidents are unavoidable, so why do people continue to put themselves at increased risk by using their cell phones? According to the National Safety Council, it is a national epidemic that causes about 1.6 million crashes a year. Drivers who are distracted using their cell phones or texting resemble those who are driving under the influence. Violators speed up, swerve, slow down and take their hands off the wheel. These actions are certainly unsafe while operating a vehicle at any time.

Eating, drinking, listening to the radio, talking to passengers or searching for something in the car are all distracting behaviors that can cause accidents. Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving takes a great amount of focus away from the road and increases the chances of an accident with another driver, pedestrians or road obstructions.

Under any circumstance drivers in California are not allowed to take their hands off the wheel to answer calls or text messages. In 2008, California motorists 18 and over were prohibited from using handheld devices and instead were only allowed to use “hands-free” devices, a law under California Vehicle Code. However, violators are still making their presence known. In 2011, California Highway Patrol officers issued more than 168,000 citations to motorists ignoring the hands-free law and using their cell phones. Those that are involved in an accident from a distracted driver can count on the experience of a personal injury attorney to make a claim for personal injuries as soon as possible.

A Personal injury lawyer helps those who were involved in a car accident from another driver’s negligence or wrongdoing. When another driver is responsible for a victim’s damages and injuries, the victim is entitled to recover financial compensation. Consult with an experienced car accident attorney at the Kaye Law Offices and claim the compensation that is deserved.

Cell Phone Use and Driving

California Vehicle Code states that no one should be using a wireless phone, unless the device allows the user to listen and talk hands-free while driving. Motorists under the age of 18 are not allowed to use their hands-free devices while driving. Despite the laws, if a driver is using a cell phone while driving and causes an accident the driver may be held liable. Careless driving caused by cell phone use includes the following:

  • Driving with only one hand on the steering wheel
  • Eyes off the road to reach for a cell phone or dial a number
  • Failing to pay attention to surrounding dangers because of distractions caused by the cell phone (this includes being distracted by a passenger’s cell phone use)
  • Distracted by a conversation on a cell phone

Alternatives to Texting and Driving

Driving and texting has proven to reduce a driver’s ability to react to other drivers, dangers and maintain control of their vehicle. California’s Wireless Communications Device Law was effective as of 2009 and has banned writing, sending or reading text messages on cell phones while driving. Despite the ban drivers continue to get cited and cause accidents. Solutions to texting and driving while only using hands-free devices include:

  • Use of Bluetooth Headset
  • Bluetooth in car
  • Voice to text apps
  • Pull over and text in extreme importance
  • Turn off the phone or silence it

Consult with an Attorney for Compensation

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident which leads you to believe that the driver was distracted by using their cell phone while driving then do not hesitate to call the Kaye Law Offices in Beverly Hills. Experienced personal injury attorneys are available to consult with you and protect your legal rights. Have them help you file your claim and recover the compensation you are entitled to. Call a Beverly Hills car accident attorney for a free consultation.

Left Hand Turn Auto Accidents – Who’s at Fault?

The common understanding regarding left hand turn auto accidents is that the person making the left hand turn in front of an oncoming vehicle is the one at fault for the accident.  While that certainly may be true in the majority of auto accident scenarios of that type, that is not always the answer.

Vehicle Code § 21801 (a) provides that the driver of a vehicle turning left ”shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard.”  Subsection (b) of that same code section, however, states that those left hand turners who have yielded and signaled as required by the code, can then legally turn left and it is the oncoming vehicle that must then yield.

If the left hand turner has yielded, and the light turns red, he can legally complete his turn.  It is the oncoming vehicle who must stop at the red light.  There are often traffic light disputes in such cases as to whether or not the oncoming vehicle entered the intersection on a red light.  If the light was yellow, the left hand turner was duty bound to allow the intersection to clear, before completing his turn.

There are also circumstances where the act commonly referred to as “curb sneaking” may provide ammunition to the injured party in an auto accident where the oncoming vehicle struck a left hand turner after having passed on the right.  It may be argued that the oncoming vehicle was wholly or partly at fault for an unsafe lane change, or for passing on the right.  VC §§ 21658, 21754, 21755.

Auto accidents frequently occur when left hander turners cross the paths of oncoming vehicles where one or more travel lanes stop and leave a gap.  Sometimes those stopped vehicles even wave on the left hand turners.  In such circumstances, operators of vehicles intending to turn left must proceed into oncoming lanes with caution, and must only do so when it is safe.  Sesler v. Ghumman, 219 Cal. App. 3d 218 (1990); In Re Kirk, 202 Cal. App. 2d 288 (1962).

It is important to understand the intricacies of the law, and the claims that may be made on behalf of the person injured in auto accidents stemming from a left hand turning vehicle.  The laws are often times misunderstood and misapplied.  Feel free to contact Kaye Law Offices for further guidance on this, and all other personal injury inquiries.

Auto Accidents – Act of God Defense

A potentially responsible party in an auto accident personal injury claim may try to assert as a defense that he had a sudden, unexpected illness and is therefore not responsible for the resulting personal injuries and damages.  It is important to understand when that defense may properly be asserted.

A driver who is suddenly stricken by illness is not liable for any resulting injury if he had no
reason to anticipate the sudden illness and the illness made it impossible for him to control the car.  Such illness must be a physical illness and the driver must  act as a reasonably prudent person would have acted in response to the illness.  The defendant would need to show the sudden illness, and that he had no reason to anticipate it.

What to Do in a Car Accident

Car accidents occur on the heavily traveled roads and highways of Southern California every day.  When car accidents result in serious personal injuries to drivers, passengers or bystanders, they can have devastating consequences.  It is important to do the right things after an auto accident so that the health and safety of the victims are assured, and so any future claims for personal injuries and damages are properly secured.  The following checklist is a guide to what victims should do after a car accident:

1.  Check for injuries and immediately call 911 if anyone is hurt.  Seek all necessary emergency medical attention.

2.   Safely get out of the way of traffic, and activate your emergency flashers to warn other cars of your stopped vehicle.

3.   Call the police if the auto accident involves damage, injury or death.

4.  Try to take photos of the vehicles involved, skid marks, the debris from the accident and the accident scene before any vehicles are moved.

5.  Be wary about what you say concerning the accident as those statements may be used against you if they are unfavorable.  If the other driver makes any statements that are favorable to you, it is best if you can get them to write it down, or if others hear those statements, as you can use that against them.

6.  Write down all the car accident information, including the following:  date, time, location and accident scene.

7.  Exchange complete information with the other driver, including the following:  name, address, telephone numbers, e-mail, driver’s license number, vehicle year, make, model, license plate number, VIN number, insurance company name, address, telephone number, policy number, etc.

8.  Obtain all witness information, including the following:  name, address, telephone numbers, e-mail, and have them write down any favorable statements about how the accident happened.

9.  Obtain all 
police officer information, including the following:  name, address, telephone numbers, badge numbers, police report number and how you can get a copy of the police report.

10.  Speak to an attorney who specializes in personal injury car accident cases before speaking to any insurance companies or to others.  If police are present at an accident scene, you must speak with them but me mindful about what you say as any unfavorable statement you make may be used against you.

11.  Feel free to contact KAYE LAW OFFICES who can handle your personal injury claim for you, and do all that is necessary to maximize your recovery.

Dog Bites and Attacks

 There are many misconceptions about what claims a person may bring on account of personal injuries from a dog bite or a dog attack.  People often times believe that you have to show that the dog had dangerous propensities to recover.  That used to be the law in what was termed the “one free bite” rule.  The laws have changed.  The bottom line is that there are various ways to hold the responsible parties accountable for your personal injuries and damages in such circumstances.

First, if there is an actual dog bite, the owner is strictly liable for the resulting personal injuries under California Civil Code section 3341.  That section provides:  “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

    Separate and apart from the strict liability, one may also hold an owner or keeper of the dog liable where they knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities. Hillman v. Garcia-Ruby, 44 Cal.2d 625, 626 (1955).  They must show the dog had dangerous propensities, and the owner or keeper knew or should have known about them.  This is generally shown through prior dangerous behavior such as a vicious bite or behavior that clearly demonstrates the vicious propensity to bite.  It may also be inferred by the dog’s general reputation, the size and breed of the dog or the fact that the dog is kept chained or muzzled.

Lastly, one can recover from a dog bite or attack on a general negliegnce theory.  This can occur from mishandling a dog (Barnett v. La Mesa Post No. 282 (1940) 15 Cal.2d 191[horse in a parade]), ineffectively controlling or failing to control a dog (Drake v. Dean (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 915 [leaping dog], putting a dog in a situation that foreseeably can cause injury (Baley v. J.F. Hink & Son (1955) 133 Cal.App.2d 102 [small dog on a leash]), or violating an animal control law (Delfino v. Sloan (1994) 20 Cal.App.4th 1429 [violation of leash law]).

Vehicle Code Sections Re Bicycles

Bicyclists often times fail to realize that most rules governing the operation of their bicycles are the same as those for cars.  While there are certainly differences and exceptions, it is important to know the laws and to use them to your advantage in any personal injury claim involving a bicycle or motor vehicles.  Some of the more pertinent laws pertaining to the use and operation of bicycles on our roadways are set forth below.

Vehicle Code §21200 provides that bicyclists are subject to the Vehicle Code just as drivers of motor vehicles.  Section 21663 provides that no motor vehicle shall be driven on a sidewalk except to enter or leave adjacent property.  Section 21650.1 provides that bicycles shall be operated in same direction as vehicles.  The Los Angeles County Code 15.76.080 expressly precludes a person from operating his bicycle on the sidewalk.  However, Los Angeles Municipal Code 56.15 only prohibits your riding a bicycle on a sidewalk if the bicycle is being driven in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.