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Who is Responsible for Accidents with Student Drivers?

Thursday, January 04, 2018

At one point, every single driver that travels the road was a learning student. They learned the rules of the road and then began to put them into practice under the instruction and supervision of a driving instructor. While an instructor's job is to make sure a student learns to drive safely, it is also part of their job to make sure they don't get into any accidents. Unfortunately, the thing about accidents is that no matter how hard you try to prevent them, they still happen. However, an accident with a student driver is tricky business. As they are not yet fully-fledged drivers and don't have insurance, does that automatically make you, the adult driver, responsible for covering the damage?

Negligence in Student Driver Accidents

If you, the adult driver, were the negligent party in an accident with the student driver, then it would work very much the same as a regular auto accident. Your insurance may be held on the hook for damages to both vehicles. However, if it can be proven that the student driver was the negligent one, then things will happen a little differently. Instead of the student being held responsible, since they have no insurance, instead the instructor will be held responsible.

If the instructor is part of a driving school, typically they have top-notch auto insurance and there is very little to worry about. However, quality of auto insurance can vary if the instructor comes as part a high school driver's education program, yet that doesn't change their liability. Similarly, if you got into an accident with a learning student while they were logging driving practice hours on their learner's permit with a parent, it will be the parent's auto insurance that will be used to cover your damages.

It is also important to remember that it is a driving instructor's job to intervene in dangerous situations to prevent accidents. In these cases, you may be able to hold the instructor as well as the driving school responsible for any injuries you sustained if they did not take enough precaution to prevent the accident. If the student was speeding or conditions on the road were not safe for driving, it is the instructor's duty to intervene in order to prevent accidents. If accidents happened as a result of that, then the instructor's skills can be called into question and the driving school can be pursued for negligent hiring practices.

However, this route should only be pursued if you were grievously injured in an accident. Otherwise, it will not result in much other than just ruining someone's life for a simple accident.

What to Do After an Accident with a Student Driver?

Actions taken after an auto accident with a student driver are actually very similar to any other auto accident. After the accident has occurred, you should:

  • Gather Information - Get the name of the student, the driving instructor, and the driving school as well as any insurance information. You may also want to gather witness statements, if possible, to verify how the accident happened and who appeared to be at fault.
  • Call the Police - It is crucial to call the police after an accident so they can create a police report. This is excellent evidence for your claim.
  • Take Photos - Be sure to snap as many photos as need be to document the damage to both vehicles, the scene of the accident, and any injuries that were the result of the accident.

Have you been in an accident with a student driver in the Los Angeles area only to find that the instructor is pushing back against covering the damage? Contact us today so the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you.

Safety: One Key to Avoiding a Motorcycle Accident

Thursday, December 21, 2017

If you are a motorcyclist, you likely know that you have to take even more precautions on the road than people driving cars or other larger vehicles. There are several things you can do as a motorcyclist to reduce your chances of being involved in a crash, whether with a vehicle, another motorcyclist, or something else.

  • Make yourself visible. Wearing bright, reflective clothing as well as having reflective devices on your motorcycle can help. You should also avoid riding in a motorist's blind spot. At times, this may mean slowing down, speeding up, or changing lanes.
  • Always give yourself enough room to ride safely. This includes giving yourself enough road to safely stop or switch lanes if the motorcyclist or driver in front of you stops suddenly. Never try to slip into a small gap in traffic.
  • Be aware of drivers and other motorcyclists around you. When needed, adjust your speed or take a different route to avoid someone who does not appear to be paying attention to others or who appears to be impaired.
  • Always use your turn signal when turning or changing lanes. Use it early, especially if you are unsure if the motorists around you are paying attention.
  • Use caution when lane splitting. California formally legalized lane splitting for motorcyclists last year. So far, we are the only state to do so. Lane splitting should only be done in stopped or slow-moving traffic. When lane splitting, follow the California Motorist Safety Program guidelines. You should not travel more than 10 MPH faster than other traffic. Avoid lane splitting when traffic is traveling 30 MPH or faster. Never use lane splitting as an excuse to weave unsafely between lanes of traffic, and always watch for motorists who may not be watching for you.  
  • Wear protective gear. In California, all motorcyclists are required by law to wear at least a helmet. Other protective gear, such as gloves, a heavy jacket, long pants, and boots, are also important. While protective gear will not prevent an accident, it can reduce your chances of being seriously injured if you do crash.
  • Never ride impaired. Some people assume this means not drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs before riding. It is about more than that, though. Even over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs could impair your judgment or influence your reaction time. If you are unsure how a medication is going to affect you, avoid riding your motorcycle until you are sure you can do so safely. Even riding while tired could increase your chances of being in an accident.
  • Be aware of road conditions. When possible, avoid traveling on poorly-maintained roads. Watch for potential road hazards, including debris. If other motorists appear to be slowing down or weaving around something, anticipate that there might be something on the road, and be ready to react appropriately.
  • Be aware of weather conditions that might impact your riding ability. Fog can make it harder for others on the road to see you, which means you may want to give yourself extra space. Wet roads may also cause a riding problem. While icy roads are rarely an issue in our area, slow down and make the appropriate accommodations if you are riding in an area where you may encounter slick or icy roads.
  • Maintain your motorcycle. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and in good condition, and make sure your lights are working properly.

While being a safe motorcyclist will reduce your chances of being involved in an accident, you cannot control the actions of others on the road. Unfortunately, drivers do not always pay attention to motorcyclists. If you were the unfortunate victim of a crash caused by someone else while you were riding your motorcycle, contact us. We serve clients throughout Southern California, and we will happily provide you with a free consultation.

Who is at Fault in a Jaywalking Pedestrian Accident?

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Almost everyone has jaywalked at some point in their life. Maybe at first, you are very diligent about making sure there are no cars even in sight, but after enough jaywalking, you tend to get a little lax with making sure things are safe. This is where jaywalking becomes dangerous as well as illegal.

Jaywalking is illegal for a very good reason. If you get hit at a crosswalk, usually it is because a car was going a little too fast. However, in jaywalking cases, often a car isn't slowing down at all, which can lead to catastrophic injury or even death. In these cases, you or your family may be able to file a personal injury case for compensation, but can you even recover damages if you were jaywalking?

California law states that a pedestrian must yield the right of way to motor vehicles if they are crossing anywhere other than a crosswalk. However, this does not mean that a pedestrian will have no right to damages if they were injured while illegally jaywalking. California is also a comparative negligence state, which means that if the driver also shared a percentage of the fault in the accident, they may be able to pay a percentage of the damages. Unfortunately, if you are determined to be more than fifty percent at fault for the accident, you cannot recover damages and you may need to pay for the other parties injuries.

Jaywalking is something you shouldn't be doing, but people still do it. However, it can make pedestrian accident cases much more difficult, which is why you need a skilled attorney on your side to make sure you can and should pursue damages for your injuries. If you have been in a pedestrian accident in the greater Los Angeles area, contact us today.

Are You Liable if Someone Trespass To Use Your Pool and is Injured?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pools are a great thing to enjoy when it starts heating up out there. You can enjoy them privately or with your friends and family. However, owning a pool can make them an attractive target to other people, particularly children and teens. Some might find it a thrill to sneak onto your property while you are asleep or away and take a quick dip. Mostly this is harmless, if not just plain unnerving, but what happens if that trespasser is injured?

Many landowners in California would be surprised to discover that the state has very little distinction between people you invited over and people who were trespassing. The law used to state that children injured on the property for trespassing were to be covered in case of injury or death by those who owned pool or playground equipment under attractive nuisance. However, that was repealed and replaced with the current law that states landowners are responsible for trespasser injuries if their property is not kept in safe condition.

This means that if a trespasser using your pool slips and injures themselves, you could technically be held responsible. However, if you made the effort to fence off your pool area or put down flooring that is naturally non-slip, you may be able to argue against it.

The truth is that in terms of trespassing, property liability can be a very difficult area of the law to sort out on your own. This is why if a trespasser was injured on your property, you need to contact us right away. The Law Office of Freeman and Freeman can help sort out the small distinctions and loopholes in your case so you don't have to cover the injuries of someone who was technically committing a crime.

Is There Liability for Stray Dog Bite?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Often when a person is bitten by a dog, the owner of the dog is held liable for their pet's actions. As such, lawsuits can be pressed against them to cover the extent of medical bills. However, not every dog has an owner. If you were attacked by a stray dog, what happens then? Is anyone held liable?

Those bitten by a stray dog may first look to the city as liable. After all, they are responsible for animal control. However, it is very rare that if you were bitten by a stray dog that anyone will be held responsible for the attack. There is one clause that states if the dog was already picked up and put in animal control, and it for some reason escapes, then the city can be held responsible for any injuries that occur. Yet, those circumstances are very rare. This means that if you are attacked by a stray, you will need to cover your own medical bills.

If you were attacked by a stray dog, your first priority is to get to safety. Afterwards, call emergency services in order to seek help for your injuries, and, if the dog is still present, be sure to contact animal control right away so they can prevent any more injuries from occurring. This is particularly important so they can arrive with or before emergency services to prevent the paramedics from becoming injured as well.

While there is not much we can do for you in the event of a stray attack, if it does turn out that the dog belonged to someone, even if they abandoned it somewhere, that dog's owners can still be held liable for the attack. If you were attacked by a dog, contact us today to see what we can do for you.


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From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.