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Personal Injury Blog

Is The Driver Liable When a Car Malfunction Causes an Accident?

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Car problems are an inevitable part of life. However, while a dead battery or a flat tire are frustrating, they aren't dangerous. Yet, car problems had while on the road can be major hazards not just to your own safety, but everyone around you.

If you have been in an accident, that is bad enough. However, if prior to that accident you were dealing with some sort of malfunction, such as a blown-out tire or faulty brakes, you may be looking for a little justice. Yet, even if your car caused the accident and not any negligence on your part, it is likely that the other party and their insurance company will still try to pin the blame on you, but that might not be quite right.

If your car did have a malfunction, there could be another party you could be holding responsible for your damages and those to the other vehicle in some circumstances.

Manufacturer Liability

It is possible for your auto accident to transform into a product liability case if the malfunction was caused by the manufacturer. If you can show that the problem was caused by a flaw in the design of the vehicle or a flaw that happened in the manufacturing process, you can pursue a claim with the manufacturer and hold them liable.

Unfortunately, this will take an examination by someone very knowledgeable about cars and it can be difficult to go after auto companies. Furthermore, if the cause in question has already been recalled, depending on the time the recall has been out, you may be liable for not visiting a dealer to have it rectified after you have been notified about the issue.

Repair Shop Liability

More commonly when a car malfunctions, it is not so much the manufacturer that caused it due to some defect, but it could have been potentially caused by the repair technician. Over time, your mechanic has a lot more contact with the car and its mechanical functions than the manufacturer.

If your vehicle malfunctioned, you may want to have it investigated after the wreck to see if it was a fault in your repair shop that caused the problem. If this proves true, you can hold the repair shop liable.

Unfortunately, many independent mechanics don't have the assets, funds, or even insurance to field a lawsuit like this. However, chain repair shops will often have insurance specifically to cover the mistakes of their employees.

Were You Actually At-Fault?

When a car accident happens due to a malfunction, you may be somewhat relieved to know you might not be held liable, but there are circumstances where this isn't true. For example, if the malfunction was caused due to your own work on the car, this means that you are still held liable for that accident.

Furthermore, if you suspected something was wrong with your car, such as your tires kept losing pressure, or your brakes were a little slower to stop your car, you may be held liable if you didn't take any action. This falls into the same vein as the aforementioned recalled defects on the part of the manufacturer. Similar to if you received a recall notice and did not take timely action to have the defect replaced, if you knew of a problem but did nothing, then the accident it caused is still your fault.

Need Help?

Have you been in an auto accident in the Los Angeles area? Whether it was caused by a defect or the negligence of another, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you navigate through the complex process of personal injury suits to help you get the compensation that you deserve.


4 Ways to be Safe when Using Uber & Lyft Rideshare Companies

Thursday, December 12, 2019

It sounds like a great idea. Use your smartphone, wherever you may be, and get a ride to wherever you want to go. But many individuals have concluded that "all that glitters is not gold." What started as a fresh idea for getting a ride when you need it, has now gone sour for many.  The "ease factor" is excellent. The downsides can be downright dangerous.

1. Be Extra-Safe when you Drive

In Seattle, 90,000 Uber or Lyft rides a day take place, which is more than the number of people that are transported by Seattle's light rail system. At the University of California Los Angeles, 11,000 Uber or Lyft trips occur within the boundaries of the university's boundaries. Walking seems no longer in fashion.

Of the cities with the highest Uber, Lyft, and rideshare users, driving has risen approximately 3 percent compared to cities that have a lower rate of Uber and Lyft usage. The overall effect is that more vehicles are on the roads that have too many vehicles already. Over-crowded streets set the perfect scene for accidents. This fact means when you are driving your personally-owned car, you must remain aware, cautious, and sensible.

2. Be Cognizant that Uber and Lyft Drivers may be Stressed or Anxious

Edward Escobar, a Denver Lyft and Uber driver, is the founder of the Alliance for Independent Workers. Escobar noted, in an interview this year, that:

The ride-hailing companies "are squeezing drivers into poverty, despair, suicide," Escobar said, pointing to a reported suicide by a Lyft driver in New York City last week, the ninth known suicide of a taxi or ride-hailing driver there since 2017.

Drivers are disturbed by the manner and amount they receive as payment. Escobar says he is making 80 percent less than he made last year.

Stressed drivers can make for bad drivers. If the driver of a vehicle is distracted or having anxiety-based difficulties, it is best to exit the car quickly.

3. Know that Not all Uber and Lyft Drivers are Who they Say they Are

In 2019, Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old South Carolina student, was kidnapped and killed by a man impersonating an Uber driver. In the past, there have been up to two dozen such attacks. This type of crime includes driver suspects who have attacked multiple women. In Connecticut, Chicago, South Carolina, and other cities, these rare, but nightmarish crimes have occurred. From this particularly heinous crime comes a measure of hope. South Carolina has proposed a law that would require all Uber, rideshare, or Lyft drivers to display a lighted sign from their company.

The University of South Carolina started a new safety campaign that urges riders to ask the driver, "What is my name?" The valid driver will know his party's name due to his or her electronic mail sent to hail the driver.

4. Bring Your Car Seat

If an infant or toddler is riding with you, you must ensure the young one has a proper car seat for his or her age. It is not the driver's responsibility to have this equipment. Along with that, Lyft and Uber require that a parent accompanies children under the age of 18.  Drivers can get in trouble for allowing children to ride with no accompaniment. Parents need to be vigilant and never let a child call a Lyft or an Uber on his or her own.

Uber, Lyft, and Rideshare Safety

Here at Freeman and Freeman, we are delighted when accidents do not take place and our community remains safe. But call us if you need help with any issues that may arise due to the negligence of Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare business. Contact us at our Los Angeles offices today.


What to Do If You're Involved in a Boating Accident

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Boating accidents can be as minor as little fender-scuffs or they can be devastating vessel-sinking collisions that put every passenger in harm's way. It all depends on the relative speeds and point of impact for both boats. Experiencing a boat accident can be surprising, devastating, and even tragic. But when one happens, the best thing you can do is know how to respond quickly and correctly.

Someone will need to keep their head in order to handle the situation and help others involved to deal with the disaster. If you are well enough to make decisions after a boat accident, it can help to know exactly the right steps to take. Let's dive into the correct process for dealing with a boating accident both ethically and legally.

Rescue Everyone from the Water

According to the US coast guard, over 70% of boating accident fatalities are caused by drowning. If not rescued quickly, they may not have the strength, ability, or wherewithal to stay above water. The accident could become an even greater tragedy if someone was lost during the post-accident chaos.

This is why the first priority in any boating accident is to get everyone out of the water. If either vessel is still afloat, they must render aid to all survivors. Do your best to get everyone in life jackets or hanging onto a sturdily floating piece of debris. Do a headcount immediately to ensure that everyone has been found and rescued from drowning. Remember to include boat staff in your count as well.

Move the Vessels to Safety

In many boating accidents, the collision occurred in an aquatic thoroughfare where water vehicles pass frequently at high speeds. Just like pulling off the highway in a car, you will need to get your vessels out of the direct path of boat traffic. It's best if the damaged vessels can dock to move on to the next steps. But floating in a low-traffic section of the water is often as much as damaged boats can manage.

Seek Medical Attention for All Involved

Every single person who was involved should go see their doctor and get inspected for signs of long-term damage. Injuries can appear overtime after an experience like the body-displacing whiplash caused by a boating accident. 

For anyone overtly injured, call 911 and ask them to meet you at whatever dock you tied up after the accident. Then, for everyone who feels alright, be sure to visit the doctor and have a few tests in the week following the accident. 

Do Not Apologize

No matter how rattled you feel or whether you think the accident might be your fault -- Do Not Apologize. Saying a sympathetic "I'm so sorry" can be legally construed as accepting fault in the accident which can hurt your chances of a fair insurance claim. No one who has received legal advice will make the mistake of accidentally accepting blame. Keep yourself out of trouble by watching what you say carefully. Help everyone get medical attention, but do not apologize for the accident.

Trade Operator and Insurance Information

Liability is also an immediate concern. Each party should trade the names of their boat operators and their insurance data so the other can make a claim. The drivers will also be held liable but each case will determine whether the fault lies with a boat operator or the company that employs them.

Make sure to give your operator's card and insurance information to the other boaters and get theirs in return.

Get Contact Info from Witnesses

Witnesses are incredibly useful in describing what they saw and determining who is truly at fault. If there were any witnesses of the accident, especially those that stuck around during the medical assistance, they should not be reached out to. Collect their names and contact info to get started and worry about using them as reference witnesses later.

In the meantime, just be friendly. Locals and vacationers who witness a boating accident are usually not shy about sharing what they saw from their perspective.

Take Photographs

Photographs tend to be quite powerful in both insurance and civil court cases. Photographs taken immediately after the accident can also serve as proof and a confirmation of what happened after the evidence and gone and wounds have started to heal. 

Report the Accident to Authorities

If anyone or any bot got seriously hurt, you'll need to report the boat accident to the coast guard. You may also need to make a report to local authorities. You will need to submit a Recreational Boating Accident Report form if anyone was injured, killed, if a boat was lost, or if property damage equals $2,000 in value or more.

Consult a Boating Accident Lawyer

Once you have taken care of your duties to yourself and others to begin post-accident recovery, it's time to reach out to a boating accident lawyer. If there are no great disputes, then a lawyer can help you get a fair assessment from the insurance companies who may be hesitant to pay your fair share. And if the accident was pointedly caused by another, a lawyer can help you build a strong civil case. Whether you're filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit after your boating accident, the Freeman & Freeman team can help you. Contact us today for a consultation on your post-boating-accident needs.



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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.