Disturbing Statistics on Distracted Driving in California

November 21, 2017 Auto Accidents

Driverless cars will be a boon to commuters who text and update social media during their daily drives. Until driving

Using a phone in a car texting while driving concept for danger of text message and being distractedDriverless cars will be a boon to commuters who text and update social media during their daily drives. Until driving becomes wholly automated, however, drivers need to put their phones down and devote their full attention to piloting their vehicles through crowded Los Angeles streets and highways.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that distracted driving accounts for 80% of all vehicle accidents. In 2014, approximately 3,000 people died in car crashes caused by driver distraction, and more than 400,000 drivers and automobile passengers suffered injuries in distracted driving accidents. In the same year, more than 60% of California drivers remarked that they had either been in collisions or barely avoided crashes with drivers who were using their smartphones at the time of the event.

Correlation Between Smartphones and Distracted Driving

Data and statistics collected by the NHTSA show a clear connection between smartphone usage and accidents caused by distracted driving:

  • A driver whose focus shifts from controlling a car to reaching for a smartphone is three times more likely to have an accident.
  • Texting while driving creates an accident risk that is 23 times greater than non-distracted driving.
  • On average, a regular text message takes a driver’s eyes off of the road for five seconds, which, at highway speeds, is long enough for a car to travel more than 100 yards.

Distracted Driving and Liability for Injuries

Recovering damages for property loss and injuries that you have suffered in an accident will depend, among other matters, upon your and your attorney’s ability to prove that another party’s negligence was the “proximate cause” of your loss and injuries. If the other party failed to pay attention to road conditions and traffic, for example, because he or she was texting or using a cell phone, then your attorney can use that as solid evidence to prove proximate cause and negligence.

Every cell phone creates its own time stamp on texts and social media postings, and your car accident lawyer will connect that time stamp to the exact time of the accident to establish the other party’s liability.

Every year, California collects fines from several hundred thousand drivers who are convicted of using handheld smartphone or texting while they are driving. Using a smartphone is rapidly being treated as per se proof of negligence in an auto accident.

What to Do if You Are in an Accident Caused by a Distracted Driver

Drivers in Los Angeles are obligated to refrain from using their smartphones in ways that create distractions. If a distracted driver does collide with you, call the Los Angeles car accident lawyers at The Salamati Law Firm at your earliest opportunity. Our car accident attorneys will gather and preserve all proof of the distractions that caused the accident, including smartphone records, and will interview witnesses and analyze police reports before memories fade and the cause of the accident is thrown into question.

In theory, driverless cars will lead to substantial reductions and improved safety on roads and highways by reducing the level of human error that goes hand-in-hand with distracted driving. Until that happens, the auto accident attorneys at The Salamati Law Firm will help drivers and pedestrians who have been injured in distracted driving accidents to recover the compensation that is justly due to them.

Additional “California Distracted Driving” Resources:

  1. CA.gov, Cell Phones, Texting. It’s Not Worth it. It’s Just That Simple. http://test-www.ots.ca.gov/Media_and_Research/Campaigns/Distracted_Driving.asp
  2. Mercury News, California’s Distracted Drivers More Common This Year, State Says. http://www.mercurynews.com/2015/07/14/californias-distracted-drivers-more-common-this-year-state-says/
  3. Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Take the Pledge to Drive Safely
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Brain Injury Symptoms to Look for After a Car Accident

October 17, 2017 Auto Accidents

Many people know that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a risk after a car accident, especially one in which the

mri head scan brain injuryMany people know that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a risk after a car accident, especially one in which the head has been hit, jostled, or injured. It’s one of the reasons that standard care advice for people who have been in auto accidents is to visit a doctor. A concussion, for example, may not present symptoms immediately, but could have life-threatening consequences. A physician can help rule out brain injury, including concussion.

Brain Injuries After a Car Accident

Brain injuries are surprisingly common after an auto accident. Of the 2 million brain injuries suffered in the United States every year, more than 14% are caused by traffic accidents. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are the third most common cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI), behind falls and being struck by an object.

Roughly 50,000 people die of TBI every year, and 17% of these fatalities are caused by vehicle collisions.

TBI also contributes to 282,000 hospitalizations and 2.5 million emergency department visits annually, according to the CDC.

Be Aware of Brain Injury Symptoms

Given the widespread nature of brain injuries in the wake of car accidents in the Los Angeles area, it’s a good idea to be aware of both the nature of the injuries and their symptoms.

There are two types of brain injuries, in general: open and closed.

An open brain injury is one in which the head has been penetrated. If glass from a windshield or wreckage has penetrated the head, for example, a person may suffer an open brain injury.

In a closed brain injury, there is no penetration. However, the brain can be jostled severely in the cranium if the impact of an accident, for example, has caused the head to move back and forth. This is the type of injury that football players suffer, for example, and which can cause concussions.

  • Drowsiness and/or fatigue
  • Headache, nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion and/or disorientation
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Dizziness and/or loss of balance
  • Pupils dilated, or unequally dilated
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing ears (tinnitus)
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Memory or concentration issues
  • Mood changes, including signs of being depressed, irritable, or anxious

A physician should check anyone who has been in a car accident involving the head for concussion. They will check pupil dilation, for instance.

These symptoms may not manifest immediately. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, being aware and monitoring possible symptoms is a very good idea.

Need a Brain Injury Lawyer in Southern California?  

If you need legal advice about an auto accident in the Los Angeles region, contact the Salamati Law Firm today. We are experienced Los Angeles auto accident attorneys. Our investigators can uncover the true causes of your accident and gather strong evidence to support your claim for monetary compensation. We are relentless in fighting for the rights of those who have had their lives drastically impacted due to injury in Southern California.

Your case will be reviewed by seasoned lawyers. An initial consultation is at no cost to you.

Additional “brain injury symptoms after a car accident” resources:

  1. Black, Peter M., Patricio C. Gargollo, and Adam C. Lipson, the Dana Foundation. Brain Trauma, Concussion, and Coma. Brainline. WETA Public Television. https://www.brainline.org/article/brain-trauma-concussion-and-coma.
  2. Masters, Jacob. Car Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injury. Brain Injury Society, October 27, 2014. http://www.bisociety.org/car-accidents-traumatic-brain-injury/.
  3. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion. Basic Information. TBI: Get the Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html
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Quadriplegic Love Stories: Inspiring Stories of Hope After Tragedy

October 16, 2017 Auto Accidents

Car accidents can cause debilitating injuries. If the spinal cord or column is damaged or severed, for example, it can

Car accidents can cause debilitating injuries. If the spinal cord or column is damaged or severed, for example, it can result in quadriplegia, or paralysis of all four limbs.

Yet quadriplegia is no barrier to love and long-term relationships.

Rekindling a Second Grade Crush

Valentines day. Red hearts on wooden backgroundTake the case of Ryan Atkins and Stephanie Perry. He was in college junior when he lost control of his SUV. The accident partly severed his spinal cord. Ryan spent four months in the hospital with a feeding tube and on a ventilator.

At first, Ryan was hopeful he would walk again. Gradually, he realized that was unlikely to happen soon. But he reconnected with faith and friends, sharing his story in a Facebook group.

Another member of the group? Stephanie, who’d gone to second grade with him. In fact, he’d had a crush on her in those long-ago days.

Stephanie was learning how to be a massage therapist. She got in touch with him through Facebook, asking if he’d like a massage. She thought it would be a one-time get-together.

But it wasn’t, and over time, a relationship grew.

They were married close to the seventh anniversary of his accident. Why? Because they were replacing memories of a sudden crash with long-term love and joy .

A 30-Year Celebration

If Ryan and Stephanie are young lovers, southern Californians Joni Eareckson and Ken Tada illustrate a more than 30-year marriage.

Joni received a spinal cord injury as a teenager more than 40 years ago, when a dive crushed her spinal cord. She learned to paint holding a brush in her teeth and moving her head. Her artistic ability led to television interviews and several books about her achievements.

But love was waiting closer to home. She met Ken through church. He was a local teacher. She had never been on a date.

He asked her out. They were married within the year. The two are partners in everything. She supports his dreams, he says, and he supports hers.

It just goes to show that love really does conquer all, and that people with accident-caused injuries can go on to love and achieve.

If You Need a Los Angeles-Area Lawyer

Injuries that cause quadriplegia are often a result of car accidents, although other accidents can cause spinal cord and other traumatic injuries as well.

If you or a loved one want legal advice about a car accident in southern California, call The Salamati Law Firm at 888-259-4060. We are experienced Los Angeles auto accident attorneys. Our investigators can get the real facts of the accident that caused harm to you or a loved one. We fight aggressively for justice, while means maximum compensation for a lifetime of medical bills, lost wages and the other financial and emotional costs of paraplegia and quadriplegia.

We will examine your case on a complimentary basis. An initial consultation is conducted at no cost to you.

Additional Resources:

  1. James, Susan Donaldson. “Deciding to Marry a Quadriplegic: Couple Tells Love Story.” ABC News. May 30, 2013. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/deciding-marry-quadriplegic-couple-tells-love-story/story?id=19282468.
  2. Sanahori, Sheeka. “Tragic Car Accident Leads to Love Story for Quadriplegic.” USA Today. March 29, 2016. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/humankind/2016/03/29/tragic-car-accident-leads-love-story-quadriplegic/82380398/.
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Uber Accidents and Ride Sharing Liability in California

October 9, 2017 Auto Accidents

There is no doubt Uber has revolutionized transportation, but many drivers and riders are unaware of the liability issues ride-sharing

passenger waiting for Uber car

There is no doubt Uber has revolutionized transportation, but many drivers and riders are unaware of the liability issues ride-sharing accidents raise. Unfortunately, it is often not until someone experiences a ride-sharing accident that they realize what is and is not covered by insurance. If you drive for or ride with Uber, Lyft, or another ride-sharing company, it pays to find out before an accident occurs. If you have already been in a ride sharing accident, speak with a Los Angeles car accident attorney.

Ride sharing liability issues in California

Uber and Lyft, termed “Transportation Network Companies” in California, fall somewhere in between commercial taxi companies and personal vehicle use, leading to unique rules affecting liability.

  • Independent contractor v. employee: Since ride sharing relies on personal vehicles of non-commercial drivers, the drivers maintain their own vehicles, set their own schedules, and do not display signage of the company for which they drive. In the event of an accident, Uber consistently maintains that drivers are independent contractors, so the company is not responsible for their actions. In California, Uber drivers are viewed as independent contractors for employment issues, but there has been a push to view them as employees in the case of accidents. If drivers were considered employees, the company would be liable if the driver is negligent.
  • Insurance coverage: Many people falsely assume that the driver’s personal insurance policy will provide coverage in case of an accident, but personal auto policies typically exclude driving for hire. Uber and Lyft both provide insurance coverage but it is important to know what it covers and when it applies. Uber drivers may also wish to protect themselves by purchasing add-on ride-sharing coverage through an auto insurance company.

What does Uber insurance cover in California?

Uber provides some insurance coverage to its drivers, and in California the coverage is different than in most other states. The amount and terms of coverage depend on what is referred to as service periods:

Period 1 App is on; Driver is available and waiting for rider In California, $50,000 liability per person/$100,000 per accident; $30,000 property damage; $200,000 excess liability
Period 2 Driver en route to rider $1 million liability; $1 million uninsured/underinsured injury; Collision and Comprehensive if it is also offered on driver’s personal policy
Period 3 Rider on board; trip in progress

In plain English, Uber insurance often covers someone else’s loss if the driver is at fault. If you are the driver and are injured or experience property damage, you may need to sue the other driver because it is not covered unless you were en route or in process of a ride and you have comp and collision coverage on your own policy.

Consult a California car accident lawyer

Uber is a convenient service when needed, but it adds a layer of complexity when it comes to sorting out liability. If you have been injured in an Uber accident, speak with an LA car accident lawyer to find out whether the ride-sharing company may be liable; experienced attorneys at the Salamati Law Firm are ready to speak with you. The initial case review is free and we never charge a fee unless we win you money.

Additional “Uber Accident Liability” Resources:

  1. Uber, Insurance: How you’re covered, https://www.uber.com/drive/insurance
  2. Uber, Insurance Update for California Driver-Partners, https://www.uber.com/blog/california/insurance-update-for-california-driver-partners/
  3. Nerdwallet, Rideshare Insurance for Drivers: Where to Buy, What it Covers, https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/best-ridesharing-insurance/
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How is Paralysis and Nerve Damage Evaluated in a Car Accident Case?

September 22, 2017 Auto Accidents

Paralysis from a traumatic event such as a car accident results in severe physical limitations that present serious health challenges

Standard manual wheelchair standing in empty hospital corridorParalysis from a traumatic event such as a car accident results in severe physical limitations that present serious health challenges while often preventing the victim from holding a job, enjoying prior hobbies and activities, and being able to take personal care of him- or herself. Other types of nerve damage may lead to fewer restrictions while still impairing daily life.

Though there is often no way to undo paralysis or nerve damage, when it was caused by someone else’s negligence a financial recovery can fill in some of the gaps. The Salamati Law Firm understands the hurdles that Los Angeles individuals and families face when it comes to establishing liability for such serious cases.

What damages can be recovered for a paralysis or nerve damage injury?

In California, personal injury victims can generally recover for both economic (or “special”) damages and non-economic (or “general”) damages. This means an injury victim is typically entitled to be compensated for:

  • Medical bills – both those already incurred and those reasonably anticipated in the future so long as they are related to the personal injury; this can also include related expenses such as rehabilitation services and in-home specialized nursing care
  • Lost wages – including those that have already been lost due to inability to work and those that will be lost in the future
  • Pain and suffering – includes both physical pain and mental suffering or anguish; California caps these non-economic damages at $250,00

A plaintiff’s recovery may be reduced if the plaintiff was also partially at fault. A jury is usually asked to make a determination of fault for each party and this is used to reduce the plaintiff’s recovery by his or her percentage of assigned fault. Insurance adjusters and defense lawyers may imply that you will not be allowed to recover compensation if you were partially at fault, but this is not true.

How to file a car accident lawsuit in California

California has a two-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you were injured in an accident and believe someone else was at fault, it is important to not delay filing an action because the claim can be completely barred after the two-year period.

Personal injury claims are often paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company but the insurance company is usually not a party to the case. Instead, the lawsuit is started by filing a complaint against the at-fault driver.

The causes and prognosis of complex injuries like nerve damage and paralysis are topics outside the knowledge of the average person. Therefore to prove the case, a plaintiff will need to work with expert witnesses like a doctor and possibly a biomechanical expert skilled in recreating and analyzing accidents. This may seem overwhelming, but a seasoned car accident lawyer will handle coordination with these expert witnesses.

How a car accident lawyer can help

After a serious accident, the last thing anyone looks forward to is an injury claim or lawsuit. At the Salamati Law Firm, we are prepared to take the lead; you can rest assured that your claim will be fought aggressively in the pursuit of full and fair compensation.

Contact us today, either by filling out an online contact form or by calling our office to schedule a case review with a Los Angeles car accident lawyer.

Additional “Paralysis and Nerve Damage from Car Accidents” Resources:

  1. WebMD, Nerve Pain and Nerve Damage, http://www.webmd.com/brain/nerve-pain-and-nerve-damage-symptoms-and-causes#1
  2. Mayo Clinic, Spinal Cord Injury Basics, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spinal-cord-injury/basics/definition/con-20023837
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Zero Tolerance: California Underage DUI Laws and Penalties

September 19, 2017 Auto Accidents

Every day, eight teenagers across the country die in crashes caused by driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Deaths

Alcoholism among young people - teenager drinking beerEvery day, eight teenagers across the country die in crashes caused by driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Deaths among teenagers make up 20% of all alcohol-related crashes.

Even though people between 12 and 20 years of age cannot legally drink alcohol, this age group is responsible for 11% of all alcohol consumption in the U.S. every year. Of that consumption, 90% comes from binge drinking.

As a result, people under the legal drinking age are high risk drivers. Many states, including California, have enacted a zero tolerance policy in an attempt to reduce underage drinking and driving. Zero tolerance means that drivers in this category can be charged for driving after having consumed a very small quantity of alcohol.

Zero Tolerance Laws and Penalties

In California, a DUI arrest depends on two things:

  1. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measured by the police in a breathalyzer, and
  2. Your age

If you are under 21 years of age, you can be arrested under the zero tolerance law if you have a minimum BAC of 0.1%. The penalties of the zero tolerance law are as much as $250 in fines, a minimum of one year license suspension, and a three-month mandatory alcohol education course that you pay for and attend.

In other words, if convicted under zero tolerance law, you will lose your license for one year, as well as having to pay fines and take a course.

A zero tolerance conviction does not go on your record as a criminal conviction. It also doesn’t add any points to your driver’s license.

Underage DUI Laws and Penalties

There is a related charge, however, that can apply to people under the age of 21 who have a BAC of 0.05% or higher. This is known as the “underage DUI.”

If you are convicted of an underage DUI, you can have your license suspended for one year and be fined a minimum of $100 and as much as $300. Mandatory alcohol education is also a part of this conviction.

Underage DUIs will be on your criminal record for at least 10 years if you are convicted. This is important because both college and job applications often ask if applicants have ever been convicted of a crime. You will have to answer yes, which can be grounds for denying the application.

Two points go on a driver’s license for an underage DUI conviction.

DUI Laws and Penalties for Adults of Legal Drinking Age

If an adult 21 or older is arrested with a BAC of 0.08% or above, penalties for a DUI conviction include fines, a jail sentence, and may include license suspension and a mandatory alcohol education that the defendant must pay for and attend.

It can also include points on a driver’s license, and is always part of the permanent criminal record.

All the Laws and Penalties Can Be Combined for Underage Drivers

It’s important to know that underage drivers can be charged with a combination of these laws.

In other words, a driver under 21 years old with a BAC of 0.08% can be charged with a violation of the zero tolerance law, the underage DUI law, and the standard DUI law that applies to those over 21. A combination of penalties, including fines, jail time, license suspension, and points on a driver’s license, may apply.

When You Need an L.A. Auto Accident Lawyer

The statistics on people under 21 combining drinking and driving are very sobering. The penalties if arrested and convicted can be very serious and have life-long consequences.

If you need an experienced Los Angeles auto accident lawyer because of a suspected DUI collision, contact us. The Salamati Law Firm has an excellent record of obtaining justice for clients in auto accidents caused by drunk drivers throughout Southern California.

Call us today! We will provide a consultation at no charge. Payment will come from any final jury award or settlement amount.

More info on underage drinking & driving laws in CA:

  1. Teen Driving Crash and Fatality Stats. Administrative Office of the Courts, State of California. http://www2.courtinfo.ca.gov/stopteendui/teens/facts/teen-driving-crash-and-fatality-stats.cfm
  2. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol & Public Health. Fact Sheets. Underage Drinking. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm
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Can I Recover for PTSD Damages in a Car Accident Personal Injury Case?

August 30, 2017 Auto Accidents

The most obvious result of a car accident may be a physical injury, but many motor vehicle accident victims also

PTSD acronym Post Traumatic Stress Disorder handwritten with white chalk on blackboard.The most obvious result of a car accident may be a physical injury, but many motor vehicle accident victims also go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This anxiety disorder can wreak havoc on the life of someone who was involved in or witnessed a traumatic event.

California car accident lawyer Sean Salamati understands that PTSD resulting from motor vehicle accidents is an especially pressing issue in Los Angeles, which leads the state in traffic injuries and fatalities. California recognizes the right of personal injury victims to receive compensation for injuries and physical losses caused by someone else’s carelessness; damages related to PTSD may also be recovered.

What is needed to recover compensation for PTSD?

To prove any sort of personal injury claim in a car accident case, a plaintiff needs to be able to establish that the defendant was careless or breached a duty to do or not do something. In car accidents, this often means establishing that the defendant violated a traffic law or drove carelessly. Next, it must be demonstrated that the defendant’s action directly caused the accident, and then that the injury was directly and logically related to the accident.

To meet this burden when the injury includes PTSD, expert testimony is required. A plaintiff needs to be prepared to offer the testimony of a doctor who can explain to a jury what PTSD is, what symptoms look like, and how it is diagnosed.

The signs and symptoms of PTSD can vary dramatically but in general they include:

  • Intrusive memories that can include recurring and distressing thoughts, nightmares, or extremely emotional reactions to things that conjure up memories of the traumatic event
  • Avoidance of thoughts, discussions, places, or activities that trigger memories of the event
  • Negative patterns of thought and mood that can include hopelessness, detachedness, lack of interest in hobbies, and memory problems
  • Altered reactions, such as being easily frightened or experiencing overwhelming guilt
  • Intensification of symptoms when stressed

What is a PTSD claim worth?

Calculating potential PTSD car accident compensation depends on a number of variables including:

  • The course and expense of PTSD treatment already received
  • The prognosis and anticipated future treatment
  • The severity of the accident and/or the physical injuries suffered
  • The extent to which the PTSD has interfered with the plaintiff’s quality of life
  • Lost wages and future inability to work
  • The availability of insurance assets

An experienced personal injury lawyer is in the best position to help determine how the specific facts in a case may affect its outcome.

PTSD car accident settlement

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of PTSD but insurance adjusters and jurors often overlook this debilitating condition because it does not leave physical scars. Our team at the Salamati Law Firm has established a track record of putting forth winning cases for personal injury victims and can help you make your PTSD case. We work with industry-leading experts and a top-notch staff to help you reach a fair PTSD car accident settlement. Call a Los Angeles car accident attorney from the Salamati Firm today for a free case analysis.

 Additional “PTSD car accident compensation” resources:

  1. NCBI, Assessment and treatment of PTSD after a motor vehicle collision: Empirical findings and clinical observations, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2396820/
  2. Mayo Clinic, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Symptoms and causes, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/dxc-20308550
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What Is The Seat Belt Defense?

July 26, 2017 Auto Accidents

Car accidents where one driver hits another can seem like open-and-shut cases. Clearly the insurer of the vehicle that plowed

Hand fastening seat belt in the carCar accidents where one driver hits another can seem like open-and-shut cases. Clearly the insurer of the vehicle that plowed into you should pay for the full extent of your damages, right? Many times, that is exactly what happens. There is, however, one caveat allowed in California – if you were not wearing your seat belt.

Is it illegal to ride in a moving vehicle without wearing a seat belt in California?

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act makes it pretty clear that everyone is expected to buckle up in California. Technically, a California police officer may issue a ticket for “failure to wear a seat belt” except for cases where:

  • You are a passenger in the backseat of a limousine or taxicab.
  • You are a minor under 16 years of age, where the responsibility of your buckling falls to an adult present.

Fines range from $20 to $100 for a first offense. Drivers may be expected to attend driver safety courses. Regardless of the legality of riding in a vehicle without a safety belt on, plaintiffs may find that the amount of compensation they are entitled to is substantially reduced because they were not belted at the time of the collision.

What is the seat belt defense?

Defense counsels may argue that the amount of damages could have been substantially reduced had the victims been wearing their seat belts. State courts may choose to reduce damage awards when the injured party fails to “take reasonable actions to limit the extent of injury” – which means wearing a seat belt while riding in a motor vehicle.

The State of California allows for Comparative Negligence, which means the liability of the defendant can be reduced if the plaintiff was at least partially liable for what happened. California allows for “pure” rules of recovery, which means plaintiffs whose decisions and actions contributed to their own injuries can still collect reduced compensation, even if they were deemed 99% at fault. States with “modified” comparative negligence do not allow the awarding of compensation to plaintiffs determined to be more than 50% at fault.

Which states do not permit the seat belt defense?

While California plaintiffs are subject to reduced damages based on the seat belt defense, plaintiffs in the following states and districts are not beholden to this law:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.
  • Wyoming

Some states allow for the seat belt defense, but limit the reduction in damages. For instance, Missouri only allows for a 1% reduction in damages if the plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Similarly, Iowa, Michigan, and Oregon reduce damages by a mere 5%, and Wisconsin allows for reductions of 15%.

Arguments against the seat belt defense

Skilled Los Angeles car accident attorneys at the Salamati Firm are prepared to fight for maximum compensation for your injuries, whether you were wearing a belt at the time or not. Depending on your situation, arguments that may counter the Seat Belt Defense include:

  • Failure to wear a seat belt did not cause the accident itself in any way, so the “comparative negligence” rule does not apply.
  • Traditional mitigation of damages applies to what a plaintiff does after the accident occurs. Since fastening a seat belt after the fact would do nothing to mitigate damages, the plaintiff cannot logically be held liable for failure to mitigate damages in the traditional sense.
  • Plaintiffs should not have to anticipate the negligence of others.
  • The amount of damages a plaintiff may have sustained had he or she been wearing a belt cannot be precisely assessed. The calculation is just a guess at best, even with the help of experts.
  • Numerous other legislatures have deemed the seat belt defense an intrusion into individual freedom.
  • The seat belt was worn, but broke or failed to protect the plaintiff because it was defective or malfunctioning.
  • Seat belt tests using test dummies cannot accurately be compared to the plaintiff’s size, weight, and stature.
  • The other side has no proof that a seat belt was not worn by the plaintiff.

If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident where seat belts were not worn, contact The Salamati Firm. Since 2005, our experienced team of personal injury lawyers have taken on some of the most complex court cases – and won! Contact us for a free consultation and pay no legal fees unless we take on your case and secure just compensation on your behalf.

Additional “Seat Belt Defense” Resources:

  1. California Driving University, CA Seat Belt Laws, http://california.drivinguniversity.com/driving-safety/california-seat-belt-law
  2. Tulsa Law Review, The Seatbelt Defense: A Doctrine Based in Common Sense, http://digitalcommons.law.utulsa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2407&context=tlr
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Five Keys to Passing Your Driving Test

July 22, 2017 Auto Accidents

Getting a driver’s license can be a route to independence. No more relying on friends, family, or public transportation. You

Student driver passes exam and instructor hands her car keysGetting a driver’s license can be a route to independence. No more relying on friends, family, or public transportation. You can get where you need to go. It can also be a route to more convenience and even a means of obtaining a job.

So when you take your driver’s test, you want to make sure you pass it! Here are the 5 crucial keys to passing a driving test.

1. Study, Study, Study

Most driving tests are composed of a written part, with multiple choice questions, and a road test with a person who will rate your competence. To pass the written exam and to make sure you know all laws and regulations, there is no substitute for studying. Don’t expect the driving you may have been doing with a learner’s permit to be completely enough. Even If you’re licensed in another state, it’s still important to know the laws and regulations of the one you’re taking the test for. State laws and rules vary.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

For the driving component, there is no substitute for practice. Drive in all sorts of conditions and all weathers. Practice parallel parking, backing up, and turning. Even if you never parallel park in real life, most tests require proficiency at it. A good way to practice is to drive with a learner’s permit, of course. But it’s also okay to go to a large parking lot after hours and drive, drive, drive. Parking lots can be great places to practice turning, braking, and so on because there’s little or no traffic or speed requirements to worry about.

3. Don’t Be Nervous

Ever had the experience of everything you know leaving your mind if you’re nervous? You don’t want that to happen when the person next to you is rating your driving. You want to remember, for example, the correct order of who goes first at a four-way stop. Also, anxiety can make you drive and brake jerkily, especially if your palms are sweating. You don’t want that either.

Calm yourself down before the test by breathing deeply. Most importantly, remember that in the worst case scenario, nothing too terrible happens. Even if you fail one or both parts of the test, you simply take it over again once enough time has elapsed. There’s no cause for embarrassment: people flunk these tests all the time. It’s not a reflection on you. It just means you have to study or practice more.

4. Learn From Any Mistakes

Key #3 leads us to this advice: learn from any mistakes. In most places, you’ll see any incorrectly answered written questions. Make a note of what the correct answer was. Make sure you commit it to memory.

If you don’t pass the driving test, make similar note. The assessor will tell you of any problem areas. Those are the ones you practice for next time.

5. Prepare the Night Before

Don’t go to your driving test tired or hungry. Get a good night’s rest. Eat a healthy breakfast. Those prepare your mind and body to recall information and respond quickly to traffic and other road conditions. You need those to optimize your results. If it might be sunny, take sunglasses.

These 5 keys will help you pass both written and road tests. Good luck!

An Experienced Attorney in Southern California

If you need a car accident lawyer in the Los Angeles area, The Salamati Law Firm has an excellent record of obtaining justice for clients in auto accidents and more. Call us at 888-259-4060. We will provide a consultation at no charge.

More on tips for passing your driving test:

  1. Lamboy, Jen. “7 Reasons Student Drivers Fail Their Written Permit Exam.” DMV.org. http://www.dmv.org/articles/7-reasons-student-drivers-fail-their-written-permit-exam/
  2. Zakhareuski, Andrei. “You Can Do It! How to Pass a DMV Driving Test on Your FIRST Attempt.” Driving-Tests.org. http://driving-tests.org/beginner-drivers/you-can-do-it-how-to-pass-a-dmv-driving-test-on-your-first-attempt/
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Can Hackers Crash My Car?

July 22, 2017 Auto Accidents

Some recent car-hacking research unveiled in a WIRED article read like something out of a terrifying sci-fi movie. A late-model

finger on dashboard with gps panel and tv/dvd/audio systemSome recent car-hacking research unveiled in a WIRED article read like something out of a terrifying sci-fi movie. A late-model Jeep Cherokee driven by reporter and test-dummy Andy Greenberg suddenly goes rogue as “hackers” tap into the car’s internal network. The tech-savvy hackers first tamper with the Jeep’s air conditioning, before changing the radio station and bumping up the volume to full blast. Next, they play with the car’s windshield wipers, but then things suddenly get more serious. Greenberg reports that the Jeep’s accelerator stops working, causing him to crawl along on a busy St. Louis overpass.

Fortunately, Greenberg’s experience was a demonstration designed by none other than the “hackers” themselves — professional security researchers who develop software patches to make smart cars less vulnerable to such breaches. The simulation raises an important question about the security and safety of passenger cars that boast a range of Internet-connected features. Can a malicious hacker tamper with your brakes, your steering and other critical features, causing your car to crash? Technically, the ability is there in some models, but there have been no reports of vehicles being taken over remotely by hackers to date.

Researchers simulate remote car hacking

The WIRED article has been labeled “scare-tactic” journalism by some critics, but many others underscore its value in highlighting the potential dangers facing the automobile industry and unsuspecting consumers who are willing to shell out big money for connected vehicles. The underlying issue, according to tech-wizards Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, is tied to the “Internet of Things.” Increasing numbers of auto makers are churning out sedans, trucks and SUVs akin to giant smart phones. An onboard computer controls navigation, entertainment, and lets drivers make phone calls. Some even feature a WiFi signal and hotspot.

Though it hasn’t yet happened, hackers could theoretically tap into this Internet-connected computer to gain control of vital functions like steering, power and brakes. Since 2013, Chrysler has installed Uconnect (an Internet-driven computer) on hundreds of thousands of cars. Miller and Valasek’s ground-breaking research has been shared with auto makers like Chrysler to help the company identify software vulnerabilities and develop solutions.

Digital security a concern for auto makers

Keeping a vehicle’s essential control circuits separate from Internet-controlled devices may help improve security and minimize remote car hacking threats.

Ultimately, car makers should be held accountable for vulnerabilities with their vehicles’ software and security. “If consumers don’t realize this is an issue, they should, and they should start complaining to carmakers,” Miller told WIRED, adding “This might be the kind of software bug most likely to kill someone.”

Legal guidance from Salamati Law

Today’s vehicles are being made to be smarter and more connected. Engineers are even collaborating on Internet-based technology that would allow passenger cars to “talk to” each other. Remote car hacking may be hypothetical now, but it remains a very real concern for the future.

If you or a loved one was injured because of a defective or recalled vehicle, The Salamati Law Firm offers seasoned legal advice. Contact our Los Angeles car accident attorneys for a free case evaluation.

More answers to “Can cars be hacked?”: 

  1. Wired, HACKERS REMOTELY KILL A JEEP ON THE HIGHWAY—WITH ME IN IT https://www.wired.com/2015/07/hackers-remotely-kill-jeep-highway/
  2. Scientific American, Why Car Hacking Is Nearly Impossible https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-car-hacking-is-nearly-impossible/
  3. Vox, Hackers can now crash cars from hundreds of miles away https://www.vox.com/2015/7/21/9010295/car-hacking-jeep-cherokee
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