Posts tagged drunk driving accident

Halloween Safety Tips for Driving and Trick or Treating

October 11, 2018 Auto Accidents, Pedestrian Accident Injuries

As kids prepare for trick or treating fun, many parents are aware of the risks like taking candy from strangers.

Little children in Halloween costumes trick or treatingAs kids prepare for trick or treating fun, many parents are aware of the risks like taking candy from strangers. Often overlooked, however, are the risks of traffic accidents. Halloween is a time when both pedestrian fatalities and DUI accidents spike. Parents and motorists alike can help keep the festivities safe by following a few Halloween tips.

Halloween pedestrian accident risks

Halloween has all the makings for a pedestrian accident – throngs of (often unaccompanied) children lingering near driveways or rushing across streets, in the dark, wearing masks that obstruct their vision. It is not surprising, then, that the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car is more than twice as high on Halloween compared to other evenings throughout the year.

Parents can help protect their children by not letting them trick-or-treat alone; putting reflective tape on costumes and treat bags to increase your child’s visibility; teaching your children not to cross mid-road but instead cross at a corner or cross-walk; watching for cars moving near driveways; and making eye contact with drivers to be sure they are aware of the child’s presence.

Drivers should avoid going out during trick or treat hours if possible. Also, be on the lookout kids crossing in the middle of the road, running across driveways. Stay alert and minimize distractions.

Halloween DUI risk

Halloween is not just for kids; plenty of adults take part in the fun, and their celebration often involves alcohol. Federal statistics show that a significant number of motor vehicle accidents on Halloween involve drinking and driving. For example, in 2014, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data showed that more than 1/3 of traffic accidents on Halloween involved driving under the influence. In 2015, the number was even higher, at 46% of crashes involving DUI.

California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles police routinely set up sobriety checkpoints at times of the year when they expect an increase in drinking and driving. Therefore, expect that this Halloween, the LAPD and CHIP will set up DUI roadblocks to catch drunk drivers as they have in past years. A DUI can impact your life, even if you do not cause harm to a child or another adult.

If you will be attending an adult Halloween gathering, be aware of how much you are drinking. If you do imbibe, absolutely do not get behind the wheel – there is no such thing as “buzzed driving; it is still drunk driving. If your children will be trick or treating, do not let them go alone. Be on the lookout for erratic vehicles, and be cautious in and around driveways.

Speak with a personal injury lawyer in Southern California

Halloween can and should be a safe time for kids and adults alike. However, if you are involved in an accident, speak with experienced Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer Sean Salamati, who has built his reputation on his commitment to helping accident victims pursue justice. Call today for a free consultation. Remember, we never charge a fee unless we win money on your behalf.

Additional Halloween traffic safety resources:

  1. National Safety Council, Halloween Safety On and Off the Road, https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/autumn/halloween
  2. Madd, Surprising Stats Regarding the Dangers of Drunk Driving at Halloween, https://www.madd.org/tennessee/surprising-stats-regarding-the-dangers-of-drunk-driving-at-halloween/
, , Read More

DUI Deaths: Can the Bar That Sold the Alcohol Be Held Liable?

August 7, 2018 Auto Accidents

Every year, hundreds of innocent people are killed on California’s roads by intoxicated drivers.  According to CA traffic statistics, alcohol-impaired

Every year, hundreds of innocent people are killed on California’s roads by intoxicated drivers.  According to CA traffic statistics, alcohol-impaired accident fatalities increased to 1,059 in 2017.  When it comes to seeking justice in DUI deaths, can the bar that sold alcohol to the driver be held liable for damages?

Dram Shop Laws

A dram shop law is a statutory provision that holds a bar or business establishment liable for selling alcohol to an intoxicated patron who causes injury or death as a result of their drunken state. At present, 30 U.S. states have comprehensive dram shop laws that allow liquor stores, bars or restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages to be sued for damages in such cases.

California is among a handful of states that limits civil liability under dram shop laws. Civil Code Section 1714 affords protections for bar owners and other business establishments from liability in situations where a patron drinks alcohol at their premises, leaves and subsequently injures or kills another person in a drunk driving accident.

Civil Code 1714 mandates: “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care…the furnishing of alcoholic beverages is not the proximate cause of injuries resulting from intoxication, but rather the consumption of alcoholic beverages is the proximate cause of injuries inflicted upon another by an intoxicated person.”

While a bar owner may not be charged with a felony or sued for civil damages under California dram shop provisions, the bar owner can face misdemeanor charges, fines and possible jail time.

The reasoning behind this legislation is that it can be challenging to determine who is to blame if a drunk person injures another in an auto accident after leaving a bar or other establishment, since strict liability infers that the bar was directly responsible simply by serving alcohol. In other words, the consumption of alcohol, not the serving of it, is the proximate cause of the accident.

Liability for serving alcohol to a minor in California

California dram shop law does have one notable exception to this civil immunity. If a bar, restaurant or other commercial purveyor serves alcohol to a minor who is obviously inebriated at the time of service, they can be sued for any resulting injury or death caused by this individual.

Consequently, any club, bar, concert venue or establishment can be held liable for wrongful death or personal injury if they served alcohol to a person under the age of 21 who was visibly drunk and later caused an accident that killed or injured another.

Los Angeles DUI accident attorney

If you have questions about dram shop laws in California or need experienced representation from a DUI accident attorney Los Angeles trusts, contact the Salamati Law Firm for a free, private consultation.

Additional Resources on California DUI Deaths:

  1. ABC California, ENFORCEMENT AND VIOIATIONS https://www.abc.ca.gov/questions/enforcement_faq1.html
  2. National Conference of State Legislatures, AM SHOP CIVIL LIABILITY AND CRIMINAL PENALTY STATE STATUTES http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/dram-shop-liability-state-statutes.aspx
  3. OTS California, 2017 Annual Report https://www.ots.ca.gov/Media_and_Research/Publications_and_Reports/doc/CA_OTS_2017_Annual_Report.pdf
, , Read More

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
, , , Read More

DUIs Down, But Alarming Totals Continue

January 18, 2017 Auto Accidents

While new data shows there are fewer drunk drivers on the road today than there were a few short years

drink and driveWhile new data shows there are fewer drunk drivers on the road today than there were a few short years ago, the millions that continue to drive under the influence each year are still alarming. Recent information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that while we are making strides in the area of driving under the influence, there is still much work to be done to make the roads safer for drivers in Los Angeles and across the country.

Drops in DUI span 12 years

SAMHSA released their latest report on December 27, 2016, using data collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The information includes self-reported drug and alcohol use before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and spans 2002-2014. Although the rates of driving under the influence declined (from 15.3 percent in 2002 to 11.1 percent in 2014), there were still around 27.7 million drivers age 16 and over that got behind the wheel after drinking.

Some of the biggest drops in driving under the influence occurred among drivers between the ages of 21 and 25. These adults had a rate that dropped from 29.9 percent in 2002 to 18.9 percent in 2014. The research also found that rates of driving under the influence peaked by the age of 29 and then continued a steady decline all the way up to the senior years. Just 4.1 percent of adults age 65 and older reported driving after drinking in 2014.

“Although it is heartening to see a downward trend in the levels of driving under the influence of alcohol, it still kills thousands of people each year and shatters the lives of friends and loved ones left behind,” Frances Harding, Director of SAMSHA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, was quoted as saying in a press release on the organization’s website. “We must strive to save lives by reducing this public health threat through education, prevention and all other possible measures.”

Male drivers had higher rates of driving under the influence than females across all age brackets. Men were also more likely to drive under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. According to this new report, a total of 10.1 million, or 4.1 percent of the population age 16 and over, drove under the influence of illicit drugs during 2014. Another 2.5 percent got behind the wheel after using a combination of illicit drugs and alcohol during that same year, compounding the problem of impaired driving in this country.

Impact of DUI

While positive progress has been made, the number of drivers operating a motor vehicle is still extremely concerning, considering that 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2014 related to alcohol use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that more than 9,900 people were killed in accidents involving impaired driving during that year. Over 1.1 million were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2014, which made up only one percent of the total number of people that reported driving while impaired during that year.

Los Angeles car accident attorney Sean F. Salamati has seen firsthand how impaired driving can change lives in a split-second. Our team works with victims of these accidents every day to help them get the financial compensation they are entitled to for injuries, medical bills and lost wages. To get a free assessment of your particular case and answers to all of your legal questions, contact the Salamati Law Firm today.

Additional DUI victim resources

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, The Rate of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol has Steadily Declined from 2002-2014, https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/201612271200
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Drunk Driving, https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving
  3. MADD, Drunk Driving Statistics, http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/about/drunk-driving-statistics.html
  4. CDC, Impaired Driving: Get the Facts, https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html
, Read More

Numbers of Pedestrian Deaths in CA and Nationwide Climb

April 26, 2016 Pedestrian Accident Injuries

In California and elsewhere throughout the country, being a pedestrian is dangerous. A recent government report reveals that while traffic

Pedestrian AccidentsIn California and elsewhere throughout the country, being a pedestrian is dangerous. A recent government report reveals that while traffic fatalities have decreased, pedestrian deaths have risen. The swing marks pedestrians as the most at-risk group in traffic accidents over the past quarter century.

The source is the 2015 preliminary report Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, released by The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The GHSA collected information across the nation and Washington DC over the first six months of 2015. California topped the list with 347 fatalities in the first half of 2015. There was an increase of 24 California pedestrian deaths, about 7%, in the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014.

Campaign to walk may increase fatalities

Many states, including California, have poured resources into promoting walking as a mode of transportation. Advocates stress that walking is good for health, reduces traffic, does not cost anything, and reduces pollution. However, there are a number of hazards that can make walking as transportation especially dangerous. The GHSA report found major contributions to pedestrian fatalities to include:

  • Distractions from cell phones and other mobile devices
  • Alcohol
  • Evening and night time hours
  • Crossing the street where there is no intersection

Who is liable in a pedestrian accident?

Blame is not always clear-cut when a car strikes a pedestrian. More than 70% of the fatalities occur when a pedestrian is crossing outside a crosswalk. More than a third involve alcohol. The driver may have been speeding. Sometimes physics experts are needed to explain how exactly an accident happened. To complicate matters further, an at-fault driver may not own the car he was driving, bringing other parties, and often, additional insurance companies, into the mix.

The key will be determining whether each party acted reasonably. A driver is under a duty to operate the vehicle in accordance with traffic laws and in a way that does not harm others. Pedestrian are under a duty to be careful, including being aware of what is going on around them.

When a party is found liable, the victims or their families may be entitled to compensation that includes:

  • Reimbursement for past and future medical expenses
  • Related costs such as therapy or rehabilitation
  • Compensation for emotional distress or pain and suffering
  • Lost income
  • In fatal cases, funeral costs

California personal injury claims

Sometimes personal injury victims worry about the litigation process and the prospect of going to trial. Very few civil cases go to trial because the civil litigation process encourages the parties to settle before that point. State insurance laws mean that in most cases, the at-fault parties are insured and the insurance companies will step in to negotiate the case. These are the kinds of things that experienced California pedestrian accident lawyers look at with a trained eye.

If you have been injured in a car or pedestrian accident, the Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at The Salamati Firm will help you protect your rights. Call 888-259-4060, any time day or night, for a free case evaluation.

Resources:

  1. California Courts, Statute of Limitations, http://www.courts.ca.gov/9618.htm
, , , Read More

Can New Road Safety Measures Stop Rising Crash Death Toll?

March 15, 2016 Auto Accidents

Statistics indicate that fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents are rising across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

iStock_000022567058_roadside death crossStatistics indicate that fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents are rising across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is constantly exploring methods of reducing crash rates and improving transportation safety. The NHTSA recently concluded a series of regional workshops designed to promote “evidence-based” behavioral changes in traffic safety settings.

The summits included a diverse set of participants including advocacy groups, public health and safety experts, academic leaders, traffic safety personnel from state government, and other federal organizations.

The primary workshop goals included:

  • Discussing untested strategies and identifying long-term solutions to eliminate traffic fatalities
  • Exploring how evidence-based behavior change approaches can be implemented in broader policy discussions
  • Analyzing different approaches to changing driving behaviors

U.S. traffic deaths increasing

NHTSA officials see a number of red flags across the country and say now is the time to push “behavioral changes in traffic safety.” In addition to launching new initiatives, NHTSA administrators want to deal with persistent problems that claim thousands of lives every year. On their list of topics were fatigued and distracted driving, drunk driving and a failure to wear seat belts or use child safety seats, as well as pedestrian and cyclist safety.

The agency reports that traffic deaths in the United States are up almost 10 percent after years of steady decline. Between January and September of 2015, an estimated 26,000 individuals died in vehicle accidents. While each state had varying rates of traffic accident deaths, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Montana saw the biggest jump in fatalities at 20 percent.

The 2016 summits featured five separate workshops, and concluded at the U.S. DOT headquarters in Washington D.C. last March. Transportation officials remain hopeful that the collaborative efforts will lead to productive changes and improvements in transportation safety.

Negligent driving and legal recourse

Nearly 95 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by human errors, according to government data. When driving behavior is deemed negligent or reckless, victims may have the right to sue for monetary compensation. A car accident lawsuit in California can recover damages for:

  • Lost income
  • All related medical expenses
  • Reduced capacity to earn
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional distress
  • Plus other losses

California has strict laws that ban texting and all cell phone use while driving; drivers who ignore these rules and cause injury or death can be held accountable in court. If a car or truck accident is caused by a driver who is impaired by lack of sleep or drug/alcohol abuse, the victim may also be eligible for legal relief that can help offset the financial burdens of serious personal injury and extended time off of work. More catastrophic accidents that claim lives may warrant a wrongful death claim, which can be brought by surviving family members.

Car accident claims are not always cut and dry when it comes to liability issues, and insurance companies are only looking out for their own bottom line. The smartest way to ensure your rights are protected is allying with an experienced law firm with a proven track record of success.

The Salamati Law Firm offers effective personal injury representation in Los Angeles and throughout southern California. For a free, no-obligation case review, please call 888-259-4060.

Resources:

  1. NHTSA, Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/symposiums/march2016/index.html
  2. The Sacramento Bee, Traffic deaths climbing in California – Is there a fix? http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article36766929.html
, , , , Read More

NHTSA Reports Increased Roadway Deaths in 2015

March 1, 2016 News

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities on American roadways have been slowly dropping

Vertical view of policeman at road accident scene

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities on American roadways have been slowly dropping over the past several years. However, last year was something of an anomaly: during the first nine months of 2015, the agency logged more than 26,000 traffic deaths – marking a 9.3 spike over the previous year.

NHTSA administrators say the roadway fatality figures are red flags that need to be taken seriously before more preventable crashes occur. “It’s time to drive behavioral changes in traffic safety and that means taking on new initiatives and addressing persistent issues like drunk driving and failure to wear seat belts,” said agency official Dr. Mark Rosekind in a recent press release.

The numbers were released just as the NHTSA launched a series of regional conferences across the country to evaluate and discuss traffic safety initiatives, programs and solutions. Their most recent summit was held in Atlanta, Georgia on February 23.

Research shows human factors cause most car accidents

Not surprisingly, decades of NHTSA data suggests that human factors are the reason behind the majority of motor vehicle and truck accidents in the States, accounting for more than 94 percent of all crashes.

The NHTSA summits are designed to stimulate dialogue regarding new strategies on driving behavioral changes in traffic safety. Some of the issues being addressed include continuing problems with

  • Distracted driving and cell phone use behind the wheel
  • Drowsy driving
  • Drugged and drunk driving

Highway safety professionals will also discuss better initiatives to protect those who are most vulnerable to car accident injuries, including pedestrians and cyclists, in addition to ways to promote the use of child seats and seat belts.

Furthermore, the NHTSA regional conferences will be examining innovations and methods to discourage unsafe driving behaviors, while looking at other proven behavior change tactics (from other non-traffic disciplines) that can be applied to national programs and countermeasures.

Traffic fatalities in California up 3 percent

The 2015 statistics were collected from all states and reflect regional differences for traffic-related deaths. California and Arizona had a modest 3 percent uptick in roadway fatalities compared to 2014, whereas states like Washington, Oregon and Montana reported a whopping 20 percent increase in deaths.

Though California had only a slight increase in traffic deaths compared to other regions, Los Angeles continues to make headlines as one of the most dangerous cities for motorists and pedestrians. Crosswalk accidents, pedestrian-knock downs and drunk driving accidents claim the lives of hundreds each year in the greater LA metropolitan area.

In circumstances where poor judgement, alcohol consumption, excessive fatigue or blatant negligence causes serious personal injury or death, victims and their loved ones may be entitled to compensation through the courts.

To discuss your case with a practiced Los Angeles personal injury attorney free of charge or obligation, contact The Salamati Law Firm at 888-259-4060. We work hard to maximize the value of your claim and obtain damages for medical bills, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and emotional suffering and other losses.

Resources:

  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. DOT announces steep increase in roadway deaths based on 2015 early estimates and convenes first regional summit to drive traffic safety behavior changes http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/nhtsa-sees-roadway-deaths-increasing-02052016
  2. NHTSA, Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Nine Months (Jan–Sep) of 2015 http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812240.pdf
, , , Read More