A Sacramento jury found Ford Motor Company responsible to the victims of a rollover crash involving a Ford E350 15 passenger van that experienced a tread separation. The jury found that the 15 passenger vans were dangerously defective and susceptible to loss of control from a tread separation. The jury also determined that Ford had information from its tire supplier, Goodyear, about defective tires that had been installed on the vans, but failed to provide information to owners of the 15 Passenger Vans that the defective Goodyear tires needed to be replaced. The jury’s award included $50 million in punitive damages in addition to $23 million in compensatory damages to the victims of the crash. Greene, Broillet & Wheeler partner Christine Spagnoli represented the family of driver Bill Brownell and injured passenger Alex Bessonov. Sacramento attorney Roger Dreyer, of the Dreyer, Babich, Buccola and Wood firm represented Tony Mauro's widow, Susan Mauro and their children Cody and Michael Mauro.
The modern automobile is a technological marvel. Anti-lock brakes allow drivers to brake on slick surfaces while retaining control of the car. Airbags keep passengers from slamming their heads into dashboards during a crash. And automatic emergency braking systems sense potential collisions and initiate braking.
But what happens if these car safety features fail? Fortunately, drivers and passengers may receive financial compensation for their injuries by suing the manufacturer.
How to Prove a Defect
Car safety features should work as advertised. When they don’t, they can cause injuries—to you and to others. However, to receive compensation, you need to do more than point to your injury. Instead, you will probably need to show that the car was defective because the safety feature did not work as designed or manufactured. If you bring a strict products liability lawsuit, you will need to pinpoint some defect, such as:
- Defective design. The car or safety feature was manufactured and assembled according to its design, but something about the design made the feature malfunction.
- Defective manufacture. Maybe nothing is wrong with the design, but the part or car was assembled in a defective manner.
In your lawsuit, you can sue the manufacturer of the part as well as the manufacturer of the car. For example, an automobile manufacturer might install anti-lock brakes made by a different company. In this situation, you might hold both the manufacturer of the part and the car manufacturer liable.
As part of a strict products liability lawsuit, you can sue anyone who moved the vehicle along the stream of commerce, including:
In California, you might also hold someone responsible for the safety failure for negligence or breach of warranty. These will require that you show a different set of facts.
Compensation for Your Injuries
If you can convince a jury that someone bears responsibility for the defective product, then you can receive compensation for your injuries, including economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care
- Lost wages
- Lost future wages if you can’t return to your old job
You might also qualify for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, which covers:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Lost enjoyment of life
The key is gathering enough evidence to prove both economic and non-economic damages. For example, hold onto all medical bills and receipts to prove how much medical care you have paid for, as well as information regarding medical expenses paid by insurance or any other party. To prove pain and suffering, you can use testimony from your therapist or friends and family to establish how the injury has damaged your life.
Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles, California
Many manufacturers highlight their cars’ safety features when marketing to the public. As a result, consumers rely on these cars to work as expected while on the road. If your vehicle’s safety features fail, the law may entitle you to compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer at Greene Broillet & Wheeler today online, or call (310) 576-1200 for a free consultation.
Self-driving vehicles promise a world of convenience, less stress, and—if you believe the hype—safer roads. However, a number of crashes have already involved self-driving vehicles. In November 2017, a self-driving bus was involved in a crash with a truck, making headlines around the country. Who will face responsibility for these crashes when no driver is to blame?
Today, human error causes more than 90 percent of all car crashes. Generally, people sue the other driver for negligence after a crash. In particular, the victim points to a sufficiently careless thing the driver did or failed to do that qualifies as negligence. For example, a driver might:
- Drive while distracted, such as texting or speaking on the phone
- Engage in aggressive driving, such as tailgating or passing at high speeds
- Get behind the wheel while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Fail to keep the car maintained so that it suffers a breakdown that causes an accident
You can hold a driver who failed to drive with sufficient care legally responsible for your injuries. As a result, they probably will have to pay damages for property damage, medical treatments, and lost wages.
A Driverless World
But what happens if a driver isn’t behind the wheel, or if the driver isn’t in control of the car? In this fast-approaching world, will no one face responsibility for a car accident?
In some situations, nothing will change. For example, a car owner who did not keep the car sufficiently maintained might face responsibility for the crash of a self-driving car. An autonomous car might fail to stop because its owner failed to replace the brakes, for example, and in that situation, the car owner might face responsibility for the crash—just as today.
Furthermore, drivers still retain some control over autonomous cars. Owners who decide to turn off the autopilot will still drive the vehicle, and they will still face legal responsibility for any crashes they cause.
However, in other situations, victims might need to sue the car manufacturer for designing or manufacturing a defective product. In fact, experts predict that liability will fall most heavily on manufacturers, whom victims can already sue today when their vehicles or vehicle parts malfunction. The car manufacturer Volvo has even accepted liability for crashes of its autonomous cars, in the hopes of spurring their greater acceptance by the public and by governments. In the future, cases will probably depend heavily on black box data pulled from the car that should show if the car made a judgmental mistake or otherwise failed to operate properly.
Speak with a Los Angeles, California, Car Accident Lawyer
Whether injured by a driver or by an autonomous car, the law might entitle you to compensation. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, our car accident attorneys understand the devastation you feel from a car accident. Our team of attorneys will analyze the evidence and pinpoint whom you can hold legally responsible. Call us today at (310) 576-1200 or fill out our online contact form.
Everyone likes to think that on holidays and other special days, that nothing bad happens — that somehow everyone has a perfect day. But that isn’t the case, and for five people in the Los Angeles area, this past Christmas was an unfortunate reminder of that. An accident involving two vehicles left the five people with serious injuries, and all of the victims were listed in critical condition after they arrived at a hospital.
The wreck occurred just after 10 p.m. on Christmas, and two of the accident victims needed to be extricated from the wreckage. The other three were flung from their vehicles. Little else is know about this crash at this point, but the California Highway Patrol did say that they believe one of the vehicles hit a tree, but this is unconfirmed at the moment.
There will be more information on this wreck as the days pass by, but in the meantime there are serious questions about this crash. Were either of the drivers distracted? Given the time of the crash, could either of the drivers been intoxicated or fatigued? Are there other circumstances that could have been involved here that we aren’t considering?
After any crash, these questions are pertinent. A full investigation into any serious crash will happen, but they also take a lot of time. Victims of these crashes need to be patient as they await justice.
Source: Eyewitness News ABC 7, “5 injured in 2-car crash in South Los Angeles,” Dec. 25, 2017
Pokemon Go has been out for nearly a year and a half at this point, and while the initial popularity has faded, there are still many people that enjoy the mobile game. If you don’t how the game functions, here is a quick primer: it is an augmented reality game, meaning that people use the app to find places in the real world where they can collect items and monsters that are used in the app.
What this means, though, is that the app has to make certain waypoints for people to walk to in order to play the game. And you can probably tell where this is going.
With so many people walking around looking down at their phones in an effort to find these waypoints (or “PokeStops” as they are called in the game), there have been a lot of accidents that have occurred as a result of distracted pedestrians and distracted drivers.
One study, which looked at a particular county in Indiana, found that Pokemon Go was responsible for alarming amount of accidents. According to the researchers, there were 134 accidents in the 148 days that followed the game’s release in the county that could be tied to Pokemon Go. They extrapolated the data for a national scale, and though it is extremely speculative, they say that the app could be responsible for some 29,000 injuries, 145,000 accidents, and 256 deaths.
It raises an interesting point in the distracted driving debate. Sometimes it is the pedestrian that is distracted. But regardless of who is absent-minded in an accident, the negligence shown is still a problem.
Source: Rolling Stone, “Study: ‘Pokémon Go’ Led to Increase in Traffic Accidents,” Stefanie Fogel, Dec. 19, 2017
Supermodel Miranda Kerr has been spotted wearing a neck brace after she was injured in a Los Angeles car accident. We can only hope this starts a fashion trend: If you are injured in a car accident, sport your neck brace! Healing is beautiful.
Thankfully for Kerr, who is married to Orlando Bloom, her injuries were not serious — whiplash and back injuries — though the supermodel is in “a lot of pain,” according to her representative.
Yet, even minor injuries such as whiplash and soft tissue injuries can come with significant physical and financial challenges. Wearing a neck brace can be challenging, for example, when your job requires you to be in the spotlight at all times. For others, accident injuries can mean days spent out of the office and a resulting loss of income.
If you have been involved in an injury-causing car accident, your doctor will outline a plan for your physical recovery, but what about your financial recovery? You may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver to recover compensation for your medical bills, loss of income and even emotional damages, such as pain and suffering.
In Kerr’s case, the other driver ran into her car on the L.A. freeway. He or she could face reckless driving charges in addition to civil damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Miranda Kerr Spotted In Neck Brace After L.A. Car Accident,” Nardine Saad, Mar. 13, 2013
Want to know if there are any safety recalls on your vehicle? Thinking about buying a new car? The NHTSA has released an application that will make it possible for consumers to look up car safety information on their iPhones.
“This app takes advantage of the latest technology to ensure that consumers have the real-time information they need to buy safe, drive safe and stay safe,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced. The SaferCar app will allow consumers to:
- Search 5-Star Safety Ratings
- Look up recall information
- Subscribe to recall notices
- File a vehicle safety complaint
- Find help for installing car seats
The NHTSA is also working on an Android-compatible version. Hopefully, by having better access to car safety information such as car recalls, consumers will make decisions that will reduce car accidents.
Source: NHTSA, “NHTSA Unveils ‘SaferCar’ App For iPhones,” Karen Aldana, Mar. 21, 2013
Insure.com recently released data showing the highest rates for car insurance in the country. California is seventh on the list, with the average annual auto insurance premium cost at $1,819. Compare that to Louisiana — $2,699 — and it seems okay. Compare it to Maine, however, where the average premiums are $934, and you may ask: Are Californians paying too much in auto insurance?
Some insurance experts point to car accident litigation as the reason car insurance rates are higher in some states than others. They go so far as to claim that injured parties in Louisiana bring personal injury lawsuits more often than injured parties in other states.
Even if this is true, should people be forced to pay more for car insurance because they sought out fair compensation for their injuries? Remember: Insurance companies, protecting their bottom line, often low-ball settlements and refuse to pay for a victim’s full injury, even if that injury is covered by an insurance policy.
Whether you live in Louisiana, California or Maine, the cost of insurance may seem immense. Yet, driving without it can lead to much more than a criminal record; If you are involved in a car accident, you may face bankruptcy. The cost of the average injury-causing car accident is still much greater than the premiums you pay.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “California Auto Insurance Premiums Among Most Expensive In The U.S.,” Ronald White, Mar. 19, 2013
Learn more by visiting our webpage on auto insurance.
Five Los Angeles residents were killed and two more critically injured when a suspected drunk driver hit the van they were riding in, causing it to flip over. The family was returning from a visit to their dying patriarch in Colorado.
The Los Angeles Times tells a heart-wrenching story about the family the deceased have left behind and a brother that finds it challenging to eat or drink. “I don’t think we’ll be able to move on until we can bury them,” the brother told the Times.
Burying five family members, including three brothers, one of the brother’s wives and a 13-year-old girl will not only be difficult emotionally but also financially.
The teenage driver who caused the accident is being held under suspicion of drunk driving and driving without a license. It is questionable whether he had insurance. If he did, the family will be able to bring a lawsuit against him to recover compensation for the funeral expenses, medical expenses, loss of income and other economic damages caused by the accident. They may also seek noneconomic damages for the pain and suffering they have experienced since the accident, and punitive damages to punish him for his decision to drink and drive.
If, however, the teenage driver does not have insurance or the financial means to pay the family for their losses, the family may have to turn to their own insurance’s uninsured/underinsured driver policy, if they have elected that insurance. They are also seeking donations to help them through this very difficult time.
Our hearts go out to the family and friends who lost so many loved ones in this tragic accident.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “In An Instant, Deadly Car Crash Reshapes Family Forever,” Ruban Vives, Joseph Serna, Joe Mozingo, Apr. 2, 2013
Learn more about drunk driving accident lawsuits by visiting our pages on car accidents.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, teenage drivers (drivers between 16 and 19 years old) have the “highest average annual crash and traffic violation rates of any age group.” In fact, teenagers account for more than 35 percent of all fatal car accidents caused by speeding.
Teenagers take risks while driving, and those risks can have disastrous results. Compared to adults, teenage drivers are less experienced, less likely to detect hazards and more likely to take risks.
Now, some parents are choosing to monitor their teenage drivers and teach lessons even when they are not in the car with their kids. Dashboard cameras such as Drivecam monitor teenagers’ driving and report unsafe driving behavior to parents. The parents can then use that information to teach their teenagers better driving habits. This is a step up from the more traditional “how’s my driving?” stickers that allow other drivers to call and report a teenager’s poor driving.
It is a step that many teenagers are skeptical about — they may question whether their parents trust them. If you choose to use a dashboard camera, tell your teenager about it and explain that the goal is not to monitor them but to help them improve their driving skills.
Of course, even with a dashboard camera, it is important to speak to your teenager about driving safety and set a good example on the road. If we all do our part to help our teenagers understand the consequences of risky driving behavior, we can reduce the number of fatal teenage accidents. Today, car accidents are the number one cause of teenage death in the U.S. With the right instruction, they don’t have to be.
Source: CBS New York, “Seen At 11: New Technology Could Help Teens Stay Safe Behind The Wheel,” Apr. 4, 2013