How to Determine Responsibility in a Self-Driving Car Accident

Technology continues to grow in every aspect of American society, including the automotive industry. The auto-industry estimates autonomous vehicles won’t make it to mass-market until 2025 because technological hurdles still remain before mass-market. Recent incidents involving many self-driving cars on California roads have raised safety concerns. This raises an interesting question of liability. In an injury by a self-driving car, who is at fault for the accident? Is it the manufacturer or the operator?

What is a Self-Driving Car

According to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, there are 5 levels of autonomous vehicles:

  • Level 1: Driver Assistance. Offers some driving assist features, but the vehicle is controlled by a driver.
  • Level 2: Partial Automation: The vehicle has combined automated functions, like acceleration and steering, but the driver must remain engaged and monitor the environment at all times.
  • Level 3: Conditional Automation: A driver is necessary but not required to monitor the environment. The driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times with notice.
  • Level 4: High Automation: The vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions.
  • Level 5: Full Automation: The car performs all driving functions under all conditions.

When Is the Driver Responsible After a Self-Driving Car Accident?

At the present moment, most autonomous cars operate at Level 2 or 3 of the Automated driving levels. That means that even though the vehicle can perform functions independently, a driver is still necessary to monitor the surroundings. These self-driving cars alert the driver to disengage autonomous mode and control the vehicle to avoid a crash.

In March 2018, a self-driving Volvo hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. The test car was part of Uber’s testing. The car’s technology couldn’t predict the direction of the woman walking. Unfortunately, the driver inside wasn’t watching the road. Instead, she watched an episode of “The Voice.”

In the end, blame was shared among the driver, Uber, the car manufacturer, and even the pedestrian. These are complex cases that require investigation into the most minor details. However, since a driver is still responsible for monitoring the environment and avoiding such a crash, the driver will most likely be one of the parties at fault.

When Is the Manufacturer Responsible After a Self-Driving Car Accident?

Just because the driver is responsible doesn’t mean that the manufacturer is home-free. In 2018, a Tesla Model X was on autopilot and collided with a highway barrier in California. The impact killed the driver. The victim’s family sued Tesla because they believed that the design, manufacture, testing, and maintenance of the Tesla model failed to adequately instruct drivers to take control of the vehicle. Although Tesla settled the case, The State of California’s Department of Transportation was also named a party in the suit because they failed to fix a crash attenuator. California’s Department of Transportation conducted an investigation. It found many contributing factors that led to the death, including the driver, Tesla’s autopilot system, and a damaged crash attenuator.

Contact a Skilled Attorney

Injury by a self-driving car presents complex issues. To determine liability, whether it was the driver or manufacturer’s responsibility, can be difficult. The car’s level of autonomy will become a factor in assigning blame. Additionally, the software and hardware may be supplied by many different companies. That can make it harder to determine fault.  An experienced car accident attorney at Dan Rose Law Firm can help you investigate your situation to develop a successful legal strategy.

Who is Liable for an Accident in a Blind Spot?

What makes blind spots so dangerous while driving is that it requires the driver to break from their standard field of vision. Checking a blind spot usually requires that the driver break contact with the road ahead to look behind their shoulder. Technology continues to improve driver safety with inventions like blind spot indicators. Even still, accidents occur when a driver hits another car in a blind spot. In those situations, who is to blame? Is it the driver who merged into another driver’s blind spot? Or the driver who missed what was in their blind spot?

What is a Blind Spot?

A blind spot is an area surrounding the vehicle that the driver cannot see within their usual field of vision. A driver’s normal field of vision usually includes what’s in front of the vehicle, the car’s peripheral, and what can be seen by side and rearview mirrors.

A blind-spot hides objects, like other cars, cyclists, and pedestrians, from a driver. Despite how a vehicle was engineered, every vehicle has blind spots. There will be objects out of the driver’s direct sight.

The automobile industry has created technological advances to assist with blind spots. For example, many cars now have back-up cameras that assist with object that aren’t in a driver’s normal field of vision. Some cars also have blind spot monitors that alert a driver when they are switching lanes. Even with the creation of these gadgets, it is still important that the driver recognize their blind spots.

Who is Responsible in a Blind Spot Accident?

It depends on the circumstances of the accident. For example, let’s say a driver is preparing to change lanes. The driver looks in their mirrors, turns their head to look at the car’s sides, and determines it’s clear to switch lanes. However, the driver failed to see a vehicle already in the lane because of their blind spot. In such instances, the driver who merged into the other lane will be liable.

Under California law, the responsibility for any accident is determined by the person “at-fault.” However, that doesn’t mean that there is only one party to blame. In any one accident, there may be multiple parties to blame.

Ways to determine blame include showing that the driver failed to exercise reasonable care in operating their vehicle. Police reports, witness statements, and other investigatory tools are used to prove the driver’s negligence, such as if one of the drivers violated any driving laws, like running a red light or speeding. Suppose a driver is already in a lane and sees another car trying to merge. He speeds up to prevent the vehicle from merging, and the two cars collide. Then it is likely that the vehicle driving in the blind spot could be liable.

Therefore, in any blind spot accident, many factors will come into play to determine who is to blame for the accident.

 Contact a Skilled Attorney

The circumstances surrounding an accident caused by a blind spot can be complicated and require expert advice to rectify so that accurate responsibility can be assigned. An experienced attorney at Dan Rose Law Firm can help assess your situation and develop a successful legal strategy.

Safety Driving Tips for Expectant Mothers

Whether it’s your first pregnancy or third, expectant mothers have to avoid things like hot yoga, roller coaster rides, and even certain cleaning products. It’s a long list indeed, and the mother-to-be must make temporary adjustments to ensure her safety and that of her baby.

According to a national study conducted in the U.S., women represented almost half of the workforce in 2019. Plus, even if work isn’t the reason you drive, it’s something that can’t be easily avoided. However, suppose a pregnant woman is involved in a car accident and risks injury to herself and her unborn baby. Luckily, there are many adjustments an expecting mother can make to ensure a safe ride.

Seatbelts

Experts agree that seatbelts are the most effective means to save lives and lessen injuries in car accidents. And everyone, including women who are pregnant, should wear seatbelts.

If you are pregnant, ensuring that your seatbelt is placed correctly can avoid serious injury in the event of a car crash or other accident. An expecting mother should remove a coat or any other bulky clothing that prevents a seat belt from fitting snugly. The lap portion of the belt should rest across the hips or below. You never want the lap portion to go across your lower abdomen because it can cause serious injury if there is an accident or a sudden stop.

Even if uncomfortable, the shoulder strap should always be worn. It should rest in the middle of your chest. It shouldn’t be placed behind you or under your arm.

Proper Vehicle Adjustments

An expecting mother should ensure that she is adequately distanced from the steering wheel. This is especially true if the car has an air bag feature. If an airbag deploys, proper seat positioning ensures that the force doesn’t directly hit the abdomen. Any abdominal trauma sustained in a car accident can lead to severe injury or death of the fetus. For example, placental abruption could alter the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Or the force can cause a uterine rupture.

Ideally, the driver’s seat should be about 25 cm, or a belly distance away from the steering wheel. Also, the steering wheel should point away from your belly. It should be directed towards the chest.

As your belly grows, your seat adjustments will also change. So, it is essential to position all the mirrors.

 Contact a Skilled Attorney

Pregnant women who have been injured in a car accident may have more significant expenses than other car accident victims. That is true because an expectant mother will require more medical attention, especially to monitor the fetus. Also, a mother-to-be might also have increased pain and suffering from worrying about whether her unborn child is healthy. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney at the Dan Rose Law Firm can help you assess your damages and make the right decisions for you and your family. Call us at 415-946-8900 or visit us online.

Filing a Lawsuit Against a Deceased Defendant

If you suffered injuries or losses because of someone else’s negligence, you may have the legal right to bring a claim to receive both economic and non-economic damages. However, in some cases, the liable party dies as a result of the accident or during the process of filing a legal claim. Learn more about what your options are regarding filing a lawsuit against a deceased defendant.

The Estate of the Deceased Defendant

If you experienced any type of personal injury that resulted in injuries or losses due to someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you have a right to become whole and receive both justice and compensation. However, if the negligent party dies, you cannot sue them directly. However, you do have the right as a victim to file a claim against their estate, which is the remaining assets that they leave behind when they die.

Motion for Scire Fascias Substitution

A motion for scire fascias substitution is a legal action that specifically requests that the court substitute a party as a representative for the deceased party’s estate. If the negligent party dies either at the scene of the car accident (or any other type of accident) or prior to filing the lawsuit, the party that will be held responsible and liable to compensate the victim will be the deceased’s estate. In some cases, there may already be a probate case pending. If this is the case, then the victim has the legal option to either intervene in that probate case or file a different and separate civil case along with the motion for scire fascias substitution.

Finding the Executor of the Deceased Defendant’s Estate

One of the other challenges may be finding the executor (representative) of the deceased defendant’s estate. If the deceased person has their estate going through the probate process, this may be easier; however, there are instances where there is no case in the probate court which makes it more challenging to find the executor of the estate.

Legal Challenges Against a Deceased Defendant

There are several complex legal challenges that may occur when a victim files a lawsuit against a deceased defendant. Because there is an inability to interview the defendant regarding the accident, a great deal of information or evidence may be lost due to. Additionally, finding the executor of the deceased defendant’s estate can also prove challenging. Finally, a victim will have to navigate not only a personal injury case but, in some cases, the probate process to winning compensation for their injuries and losses resulting from someone else’s negligence.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Our experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Daniel H. Rose can navigate both the personal injury portion of your claim as well as the probate portions of this potential lawsuit. It is important to consider visiting with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible due to the complexity and challenge of cases where the defendant has died. If you suffered injuries or losses related to another person’s negligence who has since died, consider visiting with our personal injury attorneys and legal team at 415-946-8900 or online today.

Ways to Handle a Car Accident Involving Children

Many people experience car accidents in California, however, when a child is involved in the accident, you may feel even more terrified and overwhelmed. While some of the steps will be the same, it is important to highlight both the physical and emotional challenges of handling a car accident involving children.

Physical Injuries of Children in Car Accidents

In some ways, children are more resilient than adults physically, and in other ways, they are much more fragile. Make sure to contact 911 immediately after any car accident involving a child and ask whether or not you should move the child for their safety. If you have any indication that the child is badly injured, make sure that you tell the 911 operator in order to get a better answer as to whether or not you should move the child away from the accident scene. Once the ambulance and medical professionals arrive, they will have the expertise to provide a complete medical evaluation and make the determination whether or not the child should be taken to the emergency room.

Seek Medical Attention for the Child

Even if the EMTs indicates that there is no medical emergency, you should still consider taking the child to their healthcare provider to receive a full medical evaluation. In some cases, serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or internal organ damage do not show symptoms until hours or days after the accident. Take the time to make sure that your child receives a complete and full medical evaluation to ensure that they do not have any hidden or serious injuries. In some cases, a child will experience a rush of adrenaline which can mask symptoms or pain following a car accident.

Consider Obtaining Psychological Counseling for Your Child

In many cases involving serious car accidents, children can suffer from psychological damage or even post-traumatic stress disorder. Children often do not understand the experience they suffered in the same way that adults do and need time and assistance to process the fear that they have following a serious car accident. Make sure to get the physical and emotional help that they may need after a car accident. In order to obtain compensation from an insurance company for both physical and psychological injuries, make sure to keep a record of all of your medical appointments and any bills you incur.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you had a car accident involving a child, you likely feel scared and unsure of your next steps. We want to help you through this traumatic time. Our experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Daniel H. Rose can help you understand the types of compensation you may have a right to receive for both you and your child after your car accident. Consider visiting with our personal injury attorneys and legal team at 415-946-8900 or online today.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Seizure-Related Car Accidents?

In many car accident cases, there will be a clear indication regarding who is at fault for the crash. However, what if one of the drivers experienced a seizure that caused the car accident? If you experienced a car accident that was related to another person having a seizure, who can you hold responsible and liable for your injuries and losses?

Understanding Seizures

In most cases, seizures occur as a result of a medical condition known as epilepsy. If a person has epilepsy, they may pose a greater challenge to other motorists on the roadway because they could have a seizure. However, seizures are often predictable based on identifiable factors. In the United States, people with epilepsy and other seizure disorders are allowed to drive with some legal restrictions if the condition is controlled by medication.

Seizures and Car Accidents

According to the United States National Library of Medicine, only 11 percent of all car accidents involve individuals who had a seizure as a result of epilepsy. This means that most accidents involving drivers with epilepsy are similar to any other car accident. However, there are instances the driver lost control of the vehicle due to a seizure.

Liability When a Driver Has a Seizure

Drivers with epilepsy and other seizure-related disorders often need to get clearance from their doctor in order to drive a vehicle. If you are in an accident with a driver having a seizure, you may have the right to receive compensation for your injuries and losses from them as a result.

Consider the following questions:

  • Did the driver have a medical history of seizures and know that they may have a seizure while driving?
  • How long was the driver seizure-free prior to the accident?
  • Did the driver receive any treatment for epilepsy?
  • Was the driver taking their medication as required?
  • Did the driver lose consciousness before the car accident? How long did the driver feel they were going to lose consciousness before they had a seizure?
  • Did the driver receive a false recommendation from a doctor regarding their ability to drive?

As a victim of a car accident involving a driver who experienced a seizure, you may be able to file a claim against either the driver or even the doctor who negligently certified that the driver could drive with their medical condition.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you experienced a car accident as a result of another driver having a seizure, you will need to ensure that a full investigation occurs in order to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. These types of cases can prove to be legally complex and challenging. Learn more about your options to hold the other driver liable for your seizure-related car accident by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney at The Law Office of Daniel H. Rose at 415-946-8900 or online today.

 

Determining Fault for Car Accidents with Disabled Drivers

All states allow people with disabilities to obtain a driver’s license. Many drivers, including teens and those with certain disabilities, are issued licenses with certain driving restrictions. If a disabled driver is involved in a car accident, they will be treated just like any driver involved in an accident. That’s because every driver, whether disabled or not, must prove that they would drive safely and responsibly.

Disabled Driver

A disabled driver is a person who is unable to operate a motor vehicle without special accommodation. The term disabled driver refers to a person who has lost at least one limb and requires a special adjustment to operate a car.

Disabled drivers are required to inform the DMV of their disability. A restricted license will be issued, depending on the disability. The vehicle will also be modified to accommodate the disabled driver. A disabled driver will have their disability status notation on their driver’s license.

California Car Accident Basics

In California, responsibility for car accidents is determined by who is “at-fault.” That means that before an auto insurer pays out any money, they must first find who caused the accident.

There are two ways to determine fault: (1) common law negligence and (2) by a statute. The first, common law negligence, requires proof that the driver failed to exercise reasonable care in operating their vehicle. Police reports, witness statements, and other investigatory tools are used to prove the driver’s negligence.

The second way, proving fault through statute, is easier to prove. California lawmakers have already found certain conduct negligent, like speeding. It’s outlined in the California Vehicle Code. If the driver involved in the car accident violates the California Vehicle Code by running through a red light, then the driver will be presumed to be negligent.

Determining Fault for Disabled Drivers

Aside from the two ways to determine fault listed above, a disabled driver will have additional factors to determine negligence. Usually, negligence will hinge on whether the disabled driver complied with their license restrictions.

Disabled and restricted drivers must abide by the restrictions placed on their driving privileges. If they fail to comply with those restrictions, it will be considered a traffic law violation. Any violation of a traffic law amounts to negligence because those laws exist for safety reasons.
For example, if a disabled driver is required to modify their vehicle for safe operation, and the driver failed to use that equipment, that can be a traffic citation. Anyone injured in the accident will be able to use the citation as evidence that the disabled driver was negligent because they failed to comply with required safety requirements.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

The issue of negligence in an auto accident doesn’t end when one party shows that the other was negligent. Even if one party was negligent in California, damages could be reduced if the other party also acted negligently. Contact our attorneys at 415-946-8900 or at Dan Rose Law to schedule a free consultation about your specific case.

How Gap Insurance Can Help You After a Car Accident

GAP Insurance, or Guaranteed Asset Protection, fills the gap between the auto insurance company’s payout and the actual damages. Even though California requires all drivers to have car insurance, there are many instances when damages can be higher than a driver’s coverage limits. Other times, the driver who caused the accident may not have insurance at all. Having gap insurance is not required, but it can lessen your out-of-pocket expenses if you are involved in a car accident.

In California, the minimum policy insurance limit required is $15,000 for personal injury and $30,000 for personal injuries if multiple people are involved. The minimum limit for property damage is $5,000. Therefore, if a driver does not carry full coverage insurance, the chances of damages from a car accident exceeding policy limits are very likely.

GAP Insurance

The purpose of GAP insurance is to cover the difference between what’s owed to the lessor for a totaled vehicle and the fair market value that car insurance pays on a total loss. Most new cars lose a full 20 percent of their value within the first year. Depending on the vehicle, the price paid, and interest rates, the balance remaining can sometimes be more than the car’s actual value.

Where standard auto insurance policies only cover your vehicle’s actual cash value at the time of the accident, the gap insurance can provide the driver with the exact amount still owed on the car. Gap insurance may be more beneficial in accidents involving a new or leased car.

Car Accidents

In California, the most typical auto-insurance policies include:

  • Bodily injury liability
  • Property damage liability
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist. Covers expenses if the at-fault party doesn’t have enough insurance to cover damages.
  • Personal Injury Protection. Also referred to as PIP or no-fault. This type of coverage is provided as per-person or per-accident limits. It’s used to cover medical expenses, rehabilitation, disability, or loss of income caused by a car accident.

 GAP insurance does provide restitution for bodily injury, emotional trauma, medical expenses, or other damages incurred from a car accident. GAP insurance’s primary purpose is to protect buyers from the cost of financing a new vehicle. GAP policies are only applicable to vehicle losses.

To find out what your particular Gap insurance covers, it is crucial to understand the details of your policy. For example, Gap insurance usually provides restitution for major damage or total loss. It usually doesn’t cover ordinary maintenance on a vehicle.

Involved in a Car Accident

In California, a person injured in a car accident has two years from the accident date to file a personal injury claim. Once this two-year time frame passes, the injured person is no longer entitled to collect injuries.

Understanding Options if Damages are Greater Than Insurance Coverage

The at-fault party’s policy limits do not bind you. If you are injured, you may seek compensation beyond the auto insurance policy limitations. Other options may include:

  1. Identify Other Liable Parties

Sometimes, there may be more than one party responsible for the accident. If another party is also responsible for the accident, the injured party can recover damages from them.

  1. Sue the Liable Party Beyond Their Insurance Coverage

If the at-fault party’s policy limits do not cover your damages, you have the right to sue the individual if their negligence caused your accident personally.

  1. File a Claim Against Your Uninsured Motorist Policy

Contact a Skilled Attorney

Deciding on whether Gap insurance is the right decision for you depends on your financial circumstances. Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney at the Dan Rose Law Firm to help make the right decision for you.

Key Differences Between Personal Injury Lawsuits and Workers’ Compensation Claims

Suppose you are injured at your place of employment during work hours. You may be wondering what options you have to recover medical expenses and lost wages. Understanding the differences between filing a personal injury lawsuit or a claim under workers’ compensation is an essential first step.

Only certain classes of workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Unpaid volunteers, independent contractors, and domestic employees in private homes cannot receive workers’ compensation. Therefore, determining whether you qualify can assist you in deciding which claim to pursue.

If workers’ compensation covers your injury, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) provides administrative and judicial services for benefits. An injured party files a claim with their employer’s insurance carrier. For personal injury lawsuits, a case only starts when the injured party files a petition with a California court.

Below are some key differences between both claims.

  1. Workers’ compensation provides immediate relief

Workers’ compensation provides immediate relief to a worker who suffers a work-related accident. That’s because workers’ compensation benefits are designed to provide the injured employee with medical treatment needed to recover from a work-related injury or illness. It may also include lost wages during the recovery period, rehabilitation, and temporary disability pension while you are unable to work. With very few exceptions, California requires employers to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, even if they only have one employee.

In a personal injury lawsuit, the court tries to quantify the worker’s injuries with a monetary award because it can’t mend broken bones. Depending on the extent of the worker’s injuries, damages can include pain and suffering and punitive damages. Workers’ compensation benefits do not have pain and suffering damages.

  1. No-Fault Needed for Workers’ Compensation

In a workers’ compensation claim, the injured party does not have to show that the employer was “at fault” to prevail on their claim. Workers’ compensation would cover specific injuries, even if the employer or supervisor were not a fault. The injury only needs to be work-related.

Not having to show the employer’s fault is crucial when compared to a personal injury lawsuit. In almost all personal injury lawsuits, the injured party must show that the employer was negligent in their actions, leading to the injury. If the employer can show that they were not negligent, they can immediately dismiss the case.

  1. Workers’ Compensation Does Not Cover All Damages

In a worker’s compensation claim, an injured employee is only entitled to recover reasonable medical care expenses, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, job displacement benefits if the injured worker cannot return to work, and death benefits.

For personal injury claims, an injured party has the potential to recover the same benefits offered under workers’ compensation, but also pain and suffering damages.

Contact a Skilled Attorney

Once an injured party files a workers’ compensation claim, they cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney at the Dan Rose Law Firm can help you make the right decision for you.

What Happens if You Get into a Car Crash in Another State?

The last thing that anyone expects is to have a car crash in another state. Whether you are visiting another state for business or for a vacation, a car accident can cause many different types of complications. Having a car accident in unfamiliar territory with a different set of state laws may make you ever more stressed and anxious. Learn more about your legal rights following a car crash in another state below.

Car Insurance Coverage in Another State

Every state has a different set of minimum standards that all drivers must maintain regarding their car insurance coverage. While every state has different minimum standards, your car insurance will likely cover the standards of all states. This means that if you travel to a different state that has higher financial threshold limits for both personal or property damage, your car insurance will (in most cases) provide you that minimum level of coverage under your policy. Always take the time to read your actual policy as well as visit with a representative to make certain of all of your coverages and legal rights. If you ever have any questions regarding a discrepancy between what the insurance company representative is telling you and what you believe your policy covers, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can ensure that your rights remain protected.

No-Fault Insurance States

Again, every state has a different set of rules and regulations regarding car insurance. No-fault insurance states are ones in which the insurance policy of the victim must pay for injuries and losses suffered by that victim. This is the case even if the victim was the responsible party that directly caused the accident. The states that are considered “no-fault” insurance states are Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah. If you experience an accident in one of these states, visiting with an attorney can help you better understand the process by which you have a legal right to receive compensation from your own insurance company.

Differences Between Comparative Fault and Contributory Negligence

States have different ways of also handling fault and responsibility with respect to car accidents. Some states have a comparative fault standard, while others have a contributory negligence standard. These are complicated legal standards, and some states allow a victim to still receive compensation for their injuries even though they are partially responsible for the accident, while other states indicate that a victim must only remain less than 50 percent responsible for the accident tin order to receive compensation.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

While you may have an insurance policy that will cover the injuries and losses of others if you were negligent in a car accident, there are also many circumstances in which you will also be able to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. You could still be awarded damages from your own insurance company, even if you were partially to blame for your accident. Every state has specific laws, and in order to better understand your legal rights, contact an experienced car accident attorney at The Law Office of Daniel H. Rose at 415-946-8900 or online today.