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Personal Injury Blog

Lane Splitting Accident: Understanding Who is Liable

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Lane splitting or lane sharing is the act of a motorcyclist riding between two lanes of traffic. If you are familiar with Los Angeles traffic gridlocks, you are likely familiar with at least seeing the process done. California is one of the few states in which the maneuver of lane splitting is explicitly stated as legal. Perhaps solely because traffic can get so bad in larger cities. While motorcycles are free to split the lane between stopped or slow-moving traffic, it must be done safely. If you have been in a lane splitting accident, here is who may hold the fault.

Who is at Fault in a Lane Splitting Accident?

If it happened in almost any other state, a lane splitting accident liability would be placed solely on the motorcyclist. They were at fault for engaging in an illegal – or at least unofficial – behavior, so the accident is on them. However, the legality of lane splitting in California is confirmed by California Vehicle Code 21658.1 that has been in effect since January 1st, 2017. This means that motorcycles are not the automatic culprit anymore.

Determining Fault

Immediately after an accident, the first thing you should do is contact the police. The police will file a police report on the accident. They will examine the scene, outline the details and events of the accident, and gather contact information. At times, even reviewing the police report can create a clear picture of liability in the accident.

The Benefit of Witnesses

One of the small benefits that lane splitting accidents have is that the only time motorcyclists would want to employ lane splitting is when there are quite a few other drivers around. Every driver nearby is a witness to your accident. This can work to your benefit if you are not at fault. Witness statements can be very powerful in cementing the events of an auto accident and defining clear liability. It may be a hard sell getting those drivers to stick around after a lane splitting accident. You do want to at least get their contact information for potential later use.

When Speed is a Factor

If a motorcyclist is driving defensively when they are lane splitting, in most cases the other driver will be at fault for not checking their blind spots. Outside of just swerving the motorcycle into another vehicle, there isn't much that can seemingly put the motorcyclist at fault. However, there is one consideration to keep in mind – speeding. The law that legalized lane splitting for motorcyclists put a flexible speed limit on the act. It is recommended that you don't go over 40 mph while lane splitting. So the act becomes illegal if you are going over 10 mph faster than traffic is currently moving. This means if you were cruising through at top speed, liability can be placed on the motorcyclist because they were technically speeding at the time.

Need Help?

If you have been in a lane splitting accident, you will want to make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve. Have you been in an accident and need help navigating the complicated insurance or legal process? Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can do to help you.

Bicycle Accidents: 3 Most Common Related Accidents to Look Out for

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

COVID lockdowns lead to an effort to avoid crowded public transportation. And just a general desire to be healthier, there has been a serious rise of cyclists on the roads. Unfortunately, even with more cyclists, the knowledge of how to share the road with cyclists has not increased too much. Accidents happen and sometimes the best way to prevent them is to know the common areas where bicycle accidents often occur.

Are you a cyclist looking to avoid the sharp rise of bicycle accidents that came with the sharp rise of cyclists on the roads? Here are where the common bicycle accidents happen and what you need to be looking out for.

3 Most Common Bicycle Accidents You Should Look Out for

Collisions with Turning Vehicles

Known as "right hook," "left hook," "or left cross" accidents. They are the most common bicycle accident – and can be the most fatal. Anytime you as a cyclist find yourself at an intersection, you want to remain as visible as possible and vigilant. What happens most often is that you are moving forward, but a car is turning either left or right. The slow-off-the-start nature of a bicycle stopping at an intersection also plays a role in this. You have less momentum to avoid these cars. In fact, you may find yourself getting hit in a full T-bone type accident.

Providing you had the right of way at these intervals, the driver will have liability in these accidents. But the issue is the fatality rate and how common they are. When at an intersection, sometimes a cyclist, especially a newer cyclist, just feels safer getting off the bike and walking across as a pedestrian or allowing turning cars to turn first before moving.

Doored by Parked Cars

There isn't a single cyclist that doesn't get at least a little nervous when they are riding past a line of parked cars. Even if they are in what should be a safe bike lane. Those who are parked by a bike lane often feel the safety of that buffer that keeps cars away. As such, they are less likely to check for actual cyclists using the bike lane before opening the door. Crashing headfirst into an open car door, as you'd expect, is pretty devastating. Furthermore, attempting to react and swerving into traffic could be just as dangerous.

Passed by a Car

In short, cars should treat passing a cyclist on the road like passing another car. Unfortunately, too few do that. What happens is that they see the cyclist off to the side a bit, and then try to inch past them. The lack of clearance either ends up with the car hitting the cyclist or the cyclist being pushed off the road and having to deal with rough terrain or a curb. This is why when there is no bike lane, you want to prevent cars from trying to inch past you by staying more center-oriented in the lane.

Are You an Injured Cyclist?

Have you been in a cycling accident and need help? Cyclists often face horrible injuries when it comes to auto-related accidents. If you have been in an accident, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you go over your case and represent your interests to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

Ridesharing Accidents - The Pros and Cons and Everything You Need to Know

Friday, January 22, 2021

Pros and Cons of Ridesharing

Everybody knows that Los Angeles is a city built around cars, with freeways and multi-lane highways taking us wherever we need to be. There are so many cars, but not a lot of places to park. Ridesharing has become a cottage industry in recent years that many of us not only find to be a major convenience but have also come to rely on. Typically in years past, mass transit and taxi services were what we relied on when it came to getting from place to place, especially if you didn't have your own vehicle. Not all cities have the resources to accommodate a taxi or reliable mass transit, and timetables and schedules can be confusing. Taxis are also notoriously expensive and not always available depending on the size of your city.

When rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft came around, it opened up all sorts of possibilities. Not only did it mean that you could call for a ride in just about any city where rideshare apps were active, but just about anyone with a vehicle and a clean motor vehicle record could run their own business from their own car. Risks also come with convenience and opportunity, and ridesharing is no different. Bus drivers, taxi drivers, and other licensed chauffeurs undergo background checks, training, and have to meet the requirements necessary to be professional drivers.  

Rideshare drivers don't have these sorts of requirements. They are mainly required to have a safe, properly working vehicle, a valid driver's license, and they are insured by the company they are driving for. Often, rideshare drivers drive for multiple rideshare services. Other than a bright sign in their window, it isn't much different than calling up someone you know to drive you across town.

Injuries

Vehicle accidents are common, and when you are trusting a stranger with your safety and well-being, that is a very large leap when it comes to trust. Without training or sufficient vetting, you don't know your driver's skill level until you are on the road. There have been quite a few reports of rideshare drivers being erratic or dangerous on the roads. A driver's rating won't always reflect that, especially if their rating of the passenger could be retaliatory. Oftentimes a poor rating goes unreported, leaving you to take a chance with whoever pulls up.

Some vehicles have higher safety standards than others, which is why taxi companies and car/limo services invest in specific models that are built to withstand an impact. Their safety devices such as airbags and seatbelts are also routinely inspected, which is much more than can be said of a lot of rideshare vehicles. 

With a stranger's car, you might also be injured in other ways that aren't just vehicle impacts. Broken glass, sharp pieces of metal, or debris left in the seats can also cause harm. Biohazards such as bodily fluids or other hazards might also go unnoticed or are not properly cleaned, which could make passengers very sick. For that, a driver should also be held liable, but this is not always the case when it comes to the insurance the rideshare services supply.

Injuries to pedestrians, bicycle riders, and other drivers have happened and are often due to the negligence of a badly prepared driver. Though you might not have been injured directly, witnessing an accident of this kind could be very traumatic.  

Insurance 

Most rideshare services provide insurance for their drivers, but there are some limitations to this. Many rideshare services offer insurance on a tiered scale. Depending on how much investment the driver has in the rideshare service determines how much insurance they carry on their vehicle.

Most rideshares, such as Lyft or Uber, provide full coverage insurance for the vehicle, which will cover collision as well as limited liability to medical bills/emergency services for passengers and/or anyone who has been hurt by the vehicle in an accident. This is usually only activated while the app is in service. Just like a cab driver or a limo chauffeur, they are only "hired" when you have sat down in their vehicle and travel is being tracked by the app.

Any time before or after actually riding in their vehicle is covered only by additional insurance they have purchased themselves or through the rideshare service. This leaves you vulnerable to no coverage or being under-covered by insurance if you are injured. Through the tiers of the insurance coverage, a driver might consider a lower level of insurance as to not cut into their profit margin. Remember that you are only covered by the rideshare's insurance while you are actively hiring the driver. As for potential drivers, you are only covered by that insurance while you are driving, not while you are on your way to pick up a fare or on your way home.

This could pose a major problem if for some reason the app malfunctions or the driver simply forgets to start the clock on the app. Be sure to check your own device to see if the ride is being properly recorded.

Contact us

If you have been injured in an accident while using a rideshare app in the Los Angeles area, you need the support of an expert Uber accident attorney or Lyft accident or rideshare accident attorney to protect your rights. The law is a tricky landscape to navigate, and going about it on your own can be confusing, frustrating, and even limit your ability to successfully argue a case. 

Contact us today and let us help you.


The Effects of Proposition 22 in California on Uber and Lyft

Saturday, January 16, 2021


With such a tense presidential election in 2020, some other contests and issues haven't gotten a great deal of coverage. For example, voters in California passed Proposition 22, a law that affects the status of gig workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers.

What is Proposition 22?

Proposition 22 was a measure on the ballot in California concerning the classification of gig workers. Gig workers, including drivers for Lyft and Uber, have been classified as independent contractors. This is favorable to businesses since it means that they don't have to hire these workers as employees and provide them with benefits. Lawmakers and labor leaders have been trying to change this and compel these companies to classify drivers (and other gig workers) as employees. Last year, a law called AB5 was passed, which compelled businesses to reclassify many independent contractors as employees. Proposition 22 was proposed to exempt drivers from this classification.

Some voters were confused about the implications of voting "yes" or "no" on Proposition 22. The confusion was due to the fact that passing this measure essentially maintains the status quo, reaffirming that gig workers are independent contractors and not employees. Voters passed the measure, which was seen as a rebuke to the lawmakers and activists who pushed for AB5.

Arguments for and Against Proposition 22

Here are the main pro and con arguments concerning this measure. Many of these points also pertain to the AB5 law.

In Favor

Gives independent contractors the freedom to work. Classifying them as employees might provide protection, but it also means companies can choose to not hire them at all.

Against

Allows businesses to treat gig workers as employees without providing them with benefits. Opponents of the bill argue that gig workers are compelled to work without important benefits such as health insurance.

Effects of Proposition 22 Passing

Proposition 22 passed comfortably in California. For the time being, Uber and Lyft drivers will remain classified as contractors and not employees. What are the implications of this for businesses, workers, and customers?

How it Affects Uber and Lyft

The companies themselves can breathe a sigh of relief. If the measure had been defeated, they'd be compelled to hire drivers as employees. In practice, this could have possibly meant these companies leaving California. At the very least, it would have likely resulted in cutting back on the number of drivers. It's far more costly for a business to hire employees and pay out benefits than to work with them as contractors.

How it Affects Drivers

The majority of drivers were in favor of Proposition 22. While laws such as AB5 are supposed to protect workers, in practice they often mean that there's less work available. If Uber and Lyft stopped operating in the state or cut back significantly, it would mean fewer jobs. While conditions for gig workers are far from ideal, they can now at least continue to work.

How it Affects Customers

Many of the voters who voted "yes" on Proposition 22 were most likely thinking of their own convenience. If the measure had been defeated, it would have become much harder for California residents to get rides, as ride-sharing companies would have either reduced the number of drivers or left the state altogether. What about ongoing concerns about the safety of ride-sharing services? If anything, the threat of legislation such as Proposition 22 should motivate Uber and Lyft to do everything in their power to provide a safe experience for customers and drivers alike.

The Future of Classifying Gig Workers

The debate over how to classify gig workers is far from over. There will likely be future legislative battles to reclassify gig workers as employees. Meanwhile, independent contractors in other industries (e.g. graphic designers, writers, etc.) are seeking to overturn AB5 or pass similar exemptions. Legislators in other states are watching how these debates play out in California to decide whether to propose similar laws in their own states. Thus, the long-term decision of how gig workers will be classified is still uncertain.

Freeman & Freeman, LLP are California personal injury attorneys who handle auto accidents, personal injury, wrongful death, and more. To learn more about our services, contact us.

Bicycle Laws in California Every LA Cyclist Should Know

Saturday, January 16, 2021

California is known for its progressive attitude towards cyclists. "The Sunshine State" boasts gorgeous weather and sluggish traffic. That's why so many residents prefer to commute, run errands, and get their daily workout on a bicycle. However, the state doesn't do much to inform cyclists of their rights and responsibilities publicly. After all, it's not as if we need a license to cycle!

  • Here in Los Angeles, we have a recognized problem of bicycle injuries and a remarkable number of fatalities.  
  • The good news is that bike lanes are cropping up everywhere throughout the state. That's great for biker safety.
  • The bad news is that more people are hitting the roadways without proper knowledge of California's bicycle laws.

So today, we're going to cover the laws every LA bicyclist should know. Feel free to bookmark this page or share it on social media. Our goal is to promote bicycle safety in Los Angeles.

As always, if you've been injured in a biking accident in LA and need legal help, contact us.

California Vehicle Codes Cyclists Should Know

CA VC 21200, On the Use of a Bicycle

On California's streets and highways, bikes are treated the same as motor vehicles. In other words, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as someone driving a car. You must obey stop signs, stay in the correct lane for your direction (don't ride facing into traffic), and use correct hand signals before braking or turning. Furthermore, motorists and bicyclists in California have an obligation to share the road. Each party owes a duty of care to the other.

CA VC 21200.5, Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Here in California, it's unlawful to operate a bicycle on the road while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The fines for adults are moderate, up to $250 for the first offense. But underage cyclists could lose their driving privileges for one year. 

Beyond your behavior as a safe and sober operator, California also has laws regarding a bicycle's equipment and operational ability. 

CA VC 21201, Bicycle Equipment Requirements

California sets specific minimum requirements for bicycles that operate on public roadways. These are very important for your safety and the safety of others.

  • All bikes must have operating brakes to be on a public roadway. 
  • A bike must have handlebars that rest below the user's shoulder level. "Ape hangers" look cool but aren't appropriate for street riding.
  • Bicycles must be an appropriate size for the rider. The official requirement is that the rider can sit on the bike and have one foot on the ground.
  • Any bicycle that operates on a public road in the dark must have a headlamp emitting white light, a red reflector on the rear, and reflectors on the pedals. If a bike doesn't have a headlamp, a rider may attach/wear one on their helmet or body.

Finally, let's remember that bicycle rider requirements are very straightforward. Minors must always wear a helmet when cycling, and headphones/earbuds are never allowed. This is for your safety and the safety of others.

Freeman & Freeman LLP — Personal Injury Attorneys for LA Bicyclists

At Freeman & Freeman LLP, our team of Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers knows how to get maximum compensation for our clients. If you or your family member was injured while riding a bike in LA, call the LA bicycle accident lawyers of Freeman & Freeman for a free consultation at 818-992-2919. Or contact us online. We can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injury or loss. Don't settle for less than you deserve!


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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.