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Personal Injury Blog

Rideshare Accidents in and Around Los Angeles

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Rideshare Accidents in and Around Los Angeles

It's unfortunate but true. Ride-hailing companies continue to grow at an unprecedented rate, and for some, the convenient ride services are a godsend, but more cars on the roads around Los Angeles mean more accidents. What began as transportation availability in neighborhoods and communities where transit or taxis are underserving the population, is now raising the number of fatal accidents.

New Study on Rideshare Crashes

The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, in a new working paper, points out that up to 2 to 3 percent of the crashes in a given area may relate to the introduction of Uber, Lyft, and other ride companies, such as Fare, GetMe, Curb, and others. The study acknowledges that many rideshare customers call Lyft or Uber to take them home after a night of celebration. This idea, one might think, is prudent. But the business students say:

Rideshare drivers have riders in their vehicle only a short time. More often, they are driving from fare to fare, location to location to find viable prospects. This activity is called deadheading. Traffic congestion has increased because of this practice.

People who would have taken public transit are now, because of the lowering of Uber and Lyft prices, using the rideshares. They are not substituting a trip taken in their automobile.

Before Uber launched in California, traffic deaths fell to the lowest number since 1949. This decline in deaths stopped and reversed after ridesharing became popular. The writers cannot pinpoint whether the effect is a "short-term adjustment or a longer-term pattern."

One American city, New York City, introduced a cap on ridesharing in August of 2018.

Lyft and Uber drivers have an array of regulations and procedures they must accept for them to be drivers for the companies. But what is a passenger to do if there is a fatal accident or a severe injury while riding in a ride-hail vehicle?

Cases

  • A Lyft passenger died in Sacramento, CA in 2014, after the Lyft driver swerved to avoid a Kia that spun out into the middle lanes. The passenger sitting in the left-back seat died in the crash.
  • In May of 2014,  a six-year-old child was killed in San Francisco when an Uber driver struck her as she was walking across a street near the Civic Center.
  • Pennsylvania woman was jerked out of the rideshare vehicle when the driver became disgruntled over an argument concerning the address the lady had chosen. The Uber driver pulled the woman out of his car in an unfamiliar area, at night, while it was raining.
  • A Miami man died when flames erupted in the Uber SUV in which he was riding. The driver of a Toyota Corolla slammed into the Uber vehicle, which was making a left-hand turn in Miami, causing it to roll over and burst into flames.

How We Can Help

At Freeman & Freeman, we know that many accidents are due to Lyft and Uber driver's mistakes, such as:

  • An Uber or Lyft driver who is under the influence
  • A driver who was distracted by an electronic device
  • The Uber or Lyft company overlooking thorough background checks
  • Improper vetting of drivers' health, and many more

Automobile accidents can be complex. Ridesharing accidents are even more complicated.

Uber and Lyft Attorneys

If you suffer any distress in any way during a rideshare trip, contact an experienced and trustworthy personal injury attorney, who knows the ins and outs of the ridesharing laws in California. Personal injury attorneys, like those at Freeman & Freeman, can:

  • Walk you through the insurance minefields
  • Assist you in deciding when the best time to settle your case to get maximum compensation
  • Help you navigate the rules of the rideshare company

Freeman & Freeman represents personal injury clients only. Personal injury law is what we have done for the past 30 years. Contact us today and let us guide you into getting the compensation you deserve.

Auto Accidents on California’s Interstate System

Thursday, August 01, 2019

When you get behind the wheel in California, you're surrounded by many beautiful environments, including mountains, beaches, and deserts. Life feels good, and it's easy to get lost in disbelief that such a paradise exists. However, there are many types of drivers about when you're traveling the roads, and, quite frankly, some are just not paying attention. Using the national highway system in the Los Angeles metro, which includes Interstates 5, 10, and 15, means you could be stuck hours in traffic and risking your life due to the carelessness of other drivers. If you get in a car accident, you could be seriously injured or killed and there could be a devastating effect on your family. It's important to learn about your rights as a crash victim if you've been involved in one of these auto accidents on California’s interstate system to determine if you should pursue a personal injury claim against the defendants in your case.

The Background

California drivers and tourists who visit throughout the year due to the warm climate and popular Hollywood attractions often expect that all motorists on the Interstates will follow the speed limit, which is typically 70 miles per hour. In a perfect world, drivers are always paying attention because they're ignoring frequent distractions from their cell phones, passengers and pets traveling in their vehicle, and events happening on the highway. These statistics about driving on our Interstates might surprise you:    

  • One report found that Interstate 5 was the fourth-deadliest highway in the U.S. 
  • A 2015 report from the Insurance Information Institute found 15 percent of California drivers were uninsured, which is 11 percent lower than the worst state (Florida). 

Tips for Driving Safely on the Interstate 

Using the Interstate system does not have to claim the lives of you or your loved ones. It's possible to use these highways for efficient commuting by remembering these safety tips:

  • Talk to your boss about changing your work shift. This could enable you to use the Interstate system at non-peak times. For example, starting at 7:00 am instead of 8:00 am could get you off the Interstate before most commuters are using it. Then, you could leave work and get home before rush hour in the afternoon.
  • Watch your GPS for alerts on accidents and construction zones. Most sections of the Interstate have an alternate route. A serious accident could shut down the highway for hours, especially to accommodate onlooker delays.
  • Pack a cooler with drinks, sandwiches, and snacks. Then, you can stop at rest areas and minimize stops on the exits.
  • Schedule sections of your trip when you're likely to be tired for non-peak hours. You need all of your wits about you on the road.
  • Avoid driving late at night and during inclement weather. If you must drive at night, travel with at least one other person. This person can talk to you and help you stay awake when the road is dark and less traveled. 
  • Keep your gas level above half a tank. If there is a long traffic delay, worrying about running out of gas could distract you.
  • Stop and rest your eyes. Take a walk. Relieve the stress of being on the road.

For more information about filing a claim for injuries sustained in a California car accident, contact us at Freeman & Freeman and schedule a free consultation. We help clients in the Los Angeles metro and nearby communities. There is a statute of limitations, which is a time limit on when you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in a car crash case. Typically, you have only two years to pursue a claim for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Damages can include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will determine if our dedicated legal team can aggressively pursue your rights under the law. 


Does Legal Marijuana Affect Personal Injury Case?

Friday, July 19, 2019

California, like many other states, is still getting used to the new legality of recreational marijuana use. When it became legal, not much else changed with it. Yet, it still has some important implications in various areas, including the realm of personal injury litigation. The question that is on everyone's mind is how legal marijuana use affects their personal injury case.

It is best to now think of marijuana in a similar vein to alcohol. Both have the ability to impair a person's judgment and ability to make decisions, but both are also quite legal to use. Furthermore, like alcohol, you are not legally allowed to drive if it has impaired your judgment and care.

Personal Injury When Injured By a Marijuana User

If you were, for example, sitting at a red light and a car slams into your rear end, they were clearly the negligent party in this accident. Maybe they didn't slow down enough or didn't even notice that the light was red. Regardless, they are negligent in the accident and you can pursue them for compensation for both your medical bills and damage to your car.

If the person was impaired by marijuana at the time of the accident, this doesn't change anything for you as the victim. They will still likely also face criminal charges despite the legality of the substance as they were driving while impaired. So in this regard, the legality of marijuana changes nothing.

Personal Injury When Injured As a Marijuana User

Alternatively, say you were a pedestrian who had smoked some perfectly legal marijuana in your home and decided to walk down the block to a shop. If you were crossing at the crosswalk with the right away and hit by a car that didn't stop, they are still the negligent party. You were not driving under the influence and had the sound judgment to follow pedestrian crossing laws. You did nothing wrong, and unlike the example above where the impaired person was operating a vehicle, you will face no criminal charges for it.

However, in this circumstance where you were the one under the influence of legal marijuana, it still comes with some complications for your personal injury case. Though legal, the insurance company that will pay for your damages will still try to claim that you were impaired, and in turn, were negligent or at least shared negligence. In these cases, you will need to work a little bit harder to get full compensation. You will be faced with a higher burden of proving that you had done nothing wrong. However, even if you had been sober, you would still likely be shouldered with this burden.

In these cases, witnesses and traffic cams can be crucial to proving that you had the right of way to cross and the vehicle was being the negligent one in the situation. Although marijuana is now legal in California and many other states, it still has that same stigma that insurance companies will try and take advantage of. You were high, albeit legally, but your judgment was impaired. Thus you must share the negligence. This is just an excuse that, with the right lawyer, you can easily unravel.

Need Help?

If you have been in any kind of accident, even one where legal marijuana was at play, you will need a stalwart and experienced personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies will try to browbeat you into accepting a lower settlement simply because you had used marijuana, but in many cases that should not be accepted. Contact us today to see how the knowledgeable attorneys at the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you.


The Differences of Being Injured in an Uber or Lyft vs a Taxi

Monday, May 20, 2019

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft do not employ their drivers. They are contracted as independent contractors. Under current circumstances, many insurance companies may deny coverage if the driver is driving "for profit."  Uber and Lyft drivers carry "excess insurance coverage," beyond the coverage that the driver carries for him or herself. This means if you are injured in the backseat of a rideshare car, the liability insurance the company carries covers for damages, even if your claims are denied by the driver's own liability insurance.

Taxi Companies vs. Rideshare Companies

Although taxicab companies have been advertising that Uber and Lyft do not carry adequate insurance to cover passenger injury, in practice, this is not the case. According to Uber and Lyft, the rideshares carry up to $1 million in coverage. Taxicab companies' coverage varies from state to state, usually between $250,000 and $500,000. This comes to about $30,000 maximum coverage for each case. The maximum coverage for collisions in a taxicab is around $60,000 for all passengers involved in the accident.

Uber and Lyft drivers are required to carry their own personal insurance policies. The rideshare companies carry a million dollar personal liability coverage policy and one million dollars in uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage. However, it gets more complicated; rideshare drivers are simply private drivers using their own vehicles. If you have an accident while the driver is not formally logged into the Uber or Lyft system, only the driver's personal insurance will cover you and these claims are often denied. If the collision happens while the driver is logged in, but waiting for a ride request (is in an on-call mode) the driver's personal insurance will have primary responsibility, but the rideshare company may provide some additional coverage. The full insurance policy of Uber or Lyft will apply only if the driver is en route to pick up a passenger or has a passenger in his or her car.

What Has to Be Done in Case of Accident?

Accidents are complicated from the standpoint of the Uber or Lyft driver as well as their passenger. In a normal accident, what happens is pretty clear-cut. The at-fault party is liable for property damages, medical bills, and other liabilities. However, for the Uber or Lyft driver, they have a passenger to worry about. They have to keep in mind Uber's or Lyft's terms and conditions. They have to consider what state they are driving in. They have to follow procedures in the aftermath of the accident. 

  • Assess any injuries and call emergency services (911).
  • Photograph damage to both cars.
  • Collect information from witnesses if possible.
  • Call the company's hotline.
  • Call their personal insurance company.
  • They must never admit they are at fault. Even if they believe they are, they must not say so.
  • They must never escalate the situation by acting angry or threatening.

Accidents in rideshare vehicles are complicated. If your Uber or Lyft driver has an accident which injures you, it's important that you treat the collision as a legal matter.

  • Consult an Uber Accident Attorney or Lyft Accident Attorney or Rideshare Accident Attorney.
  • Seek necessary medical attention and save the medical documents.
  • Obtain all of the driver's insurance information including both the Uber policy and the driver's own personal insurance.
  • Take pictures and the accident scene and your injuries.
  • Find out exactly what the driver's log-in status was at the time--try to document it.a
  • Inform law enforcement and file a police report.

Freeman & Freeman are rideshare accident attorneys who know the nuances of ridesharing laws in California. There are many benefits to having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.  Please contact us to learn more.

Can a Jaywalking Pedestrian Seek Compensation For an Accident?

Friday, February 15, 2019

If you live in California, you likely seek more than one jaywalker every day whether you are walking or driving. Chances are, if you are walking somewhere, you might be the one jaywalking because literally, everyone else seems to do it. If the roads seem clear, then making the extra effort to walk to the nearest crosswalk seems like a waste of effort and time when you can just cross right there. Unfortunately, there are laws against jaywalking specifically because of how unsafe it is for pedestrians. Yet, the question remains, if a pedestrian is struck by a driver while they are jaywalking, can they still get compensation for the accident?

The short and easy answer? Like usual, it is a maybe.

Duty of Care Required By Drivers and Pedestrians

By California law, both driver and pedestrian are required to exercise a certain duty of care that can be at play in these cases. Drivers are required to yield to the right of way of pedestrians at both marked and unmarked crosswalks at intersections. They are expected to reduce speed when approaching an intersection with potential pedestrians and take caution for any crossings. Unfortunately, there are times when the driver can't spot a pedestrian, and this becomes more likely when a pedestrian is jaywalking.

Similarly, the pedestrian is expected to take the same duty of care by not leaving the curb and walking into oncoming traffic. Doing so not only puts their safety at risk but the safety of the driver as well. Having to make an unexpected stop even at a crosswalk is dangerous when driving with even light other traffic as the driver can cause other auto accidents trying to avoid the pedestrian.

In truth, this duty of care still extends to jaywalking by both parties. However, as the pedestrian was jaywalking, it often limits their ability to get compensation for the accident. Though, the pedestrian is not without options. If the driver was also behaving badly, compensation can still be recovered.

Jaywalking pedestrians can still recover compensation if the driver was:

  • Speeding

  • Intoxicated

  • Distracted Driving

Unfortunately, all of the above can occasionally be difficult to prove without the help of a skilled lawyer.

California Comparative Negligence

As a comparative negligence state, the portion that the jaywalking pedestrian can be placed at fault will be deducted from the compensation they can receive. For example, if a pedestrian who was jaywalking was deemed to be about 50 percent at fault for an accident with a driver that was speeding, they can only recover 50 percent of the damages awarded by the court.

This does mean that even if you were jaywalking, you can still recover some compensation if you were hit by a motorist. However, it also means that you might not recover all the compensation that you need to cover your medical bills. For this reason, it is really best if you just make the effort to walk to the nearest crossing. Being hit by a car is pretty traumatic, but if you have to be hit by a car, you should at least be able to recover full compensation for it because you were both following the law and exercising your duty of care as a pedestrian.

Need Help?

Were you one of California's many jaywalking pedestrians that just, unfortunately, happened to be struck by a car? As you were doing something illegal, you may think your options for recovering compensation simply don't exist. However, that isn't true at all. Contact us today so we can look over your case. Come see how the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you get the compensation that you deserve from a traumatic pedestrian accident.


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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.