Tag: auto accident

May is National Bike Safety Month

man on motorcycleWith that warm and beautiful weather, comes an even greater responsibility for adults and children be aware of your surroundings as you head out to share and enjoy the roads on your bicycle.

According to the NHTSA, 630 pedalcyclists were killed and an additional 51,000 were injured in 2009 in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Pedalcyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities, and made up 2 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes during the year.

The best guideline is: Be Alert. Be Wary. Be Seen.

Be Alert: Scan ahead, center, left and right.

woman standing by motorcycleAlthough drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists, many times the cyclist is not seen. All drivers and riders should be courteous.

Drivers should:

>allow at least three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road,

> look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space,

> and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals.

> Be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.

Cyclists need to

> keep your head up and look ahead, not at the ground. You need to see what is coming up so you have time  to react and maneuver.

> ride one person per bike. Riding with unsecured passengers puts you at risk for injury to yourself and others.

> ride in single file with space between bikes.

> ride on the right side of the road, never against traffic. Otherwise, you are at risk for an accident – or a ticket.

Be Wary: Pay attention to vehicles, pedestrians and others on the road.

woman who fell off bikeBicyclists are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.

Be Seen: Use your horn, hand signals and light to be seen by others on the road.

Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, dawn,

and dusk. To be noticed when riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.

Important Safety Reminder:

All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way

to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash. California state law requires helmets for all bicyclists under age 18.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Everything You Need to Know: Injury Car Accidents

 

air bag deployedby Will Daniels

You’ve been involved in an injury car accident. You don’t have obvious injuries — you’re alert and aware. But what should you do? The following offers tips of everything you need to know post car-accident. Being well-prepared can make your post- car accident experience less stressful and will ultimately make any claims clearer.

Injury car accidents can be stressful and usually happen at the most inconvenient time. You can significantly reduce this stress by being prepared. The following are a few tips to help prepare yourself in the unfortunate event you are involved in an injury automobile collision.

Be Prepared.

You should stock your car with a few essentials. One way to always ensure you have these essentials with you in one place is to keep a vehicle safety kit. This can take the form of either a premade or homemade safety kit.

At a very basic level a vehicle safety kit should include

:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Tow Strap
  • Reflective Emergency Triangle or Road Flares
  • Jumper Cables
  • Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Spare Batteries for Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Water / Food (Enough to last 2 days)

 

You also want to make sure you keep important information in your glovebox. This includes: vehicle insurance information, vehicle registration, emergency contacts, health insurance information, note pad and pencil or pen. (A disposable camera is a great addition to a glovebox if you don’t have a cellphone with a camera.)

If possible, try to keep your cell-phone charged and located in a place easily accessible in the event of an accident. (Never attempt to use a cell-phone while operating a motor vehicle!)


Don’t Panic!

When you experience an injury automobile collision, it is not uncommon to feel a variety of emotions ranging from anger to extreme anxiety. It is important, following a collision, to remain calm. Always flip on your “hazard” lights and, if possible, move to a safe area.

You should only attempt to move your car out of the collision location if there are no other threats in the vicinity. If you are unable to move your vehicle, ensure that you turn on your hazard lights and stay in the vehicle.

iphoneOnce in a safe location, check to see if there are any injured parties from the crash and call 911, even if the collision is minor. The police dispatcher will instruct you if an officer is required to view the scene and make a record.

DO NOT leave the scene of the collision without exchanging information. Leaving the scene of an automobile collision in which you were involved, without exchanging information, may result in civil or criminal liability.

Once you have ensured that all parties involved are all right, immediately contact your insurance agent or provider immediately.

Document, Document, Document.

After calling 911, document the damage to all cars involved in the collision. This generally involves making notes about the identities of the other driver(s) involved, taking photos of the damage to ALL vehicles and securing witness information. Any discrepancies in the vehicle’s insurance, registration or driver’s information should be noted.

Take notes  (Super helpful tip: most mobile phones have a “Notes” app — input/type the following, rather than using pieces of paper which can either be lost or later prove to be illegible, due to haste, anxiousness, nerves, or a proper surface on which to write).

Make sure to note

  • the time
  • the specific location of accident
  • description of all cars involved

Also list, for each car involved:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Year
  • License Plate Number
  • Damage(s)
  • description of all individuals involved in the injury car accident, including passengers.

Photo Op

If you can, try and take a picture of all the above. If there’s ever a time to be snapping mobile phone pics, this is it — take many photos of both cars from every angle possible.

Make sure to exchange information with the other driver(s), including:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • E-mail
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Insurance Company
  • Insured’s Policy Number

 

It’s Almost Over.

Generally, if you have only sustained minor property damage, your insurance company will take care of everything and you should not have to talk to a lawyer. If someone is injured, you may need to seek advice from a lawyer on how to resolve any issues that arise from the incident.

 

Will Daniels

Will Daniels is a law clerk with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA. A recent graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, Mr. Daniels is currently waiting on his bar results. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com

Understanding Your Rights After an Auto Accident

firefighters fighting fireFor police, fire fighters and ambulance personnel trained to handle emergencies on a daily basis, car accidents are a daily occurrence; for them—and for personal injury attorneys— accidents are just another day at the office. For the rest of us it’s not that easy. There are some things you should remember that might not have been included in the driver’s manual you studied before getting your license. Here are some of your rights, as a victim, after an auto accident and what they mean:

smashed carYou always have the right to hire an attorney after an accident. Your insurance company has attorneys and their insurance company has attorneys. You have a right to consult with an attorney to better explain your rights after an accident. He or she can advise you as to whether or not you have a case, exactly who and what you can sue for as well as give you an idea of what kind of settlement you can expect. An attorney can also advise you as to time limits to file your case and possibly keep you from losing before you have even gone to court. In particular, if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence you have the right to sue for things such as:

  • Bodily injuries
  • Past pain and suffering
  • Future pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Hospitalization expenses
  • Loss of ability to earn future money
  • Inconvenience
  • Property damage

You may also have the right to sue not only the driver of the other vehicle, but anyone else who may have been responsible for the accident. For example, if there was some defect to your car’s design or operation that caused the accident you may be able to sue the manufacturer.

You have the right to demand the other driver’s contact information such as driver’s license and insurance card, email address, and home, work, and cell phone numbers. This information is vital since not only will it allow you to be able to contact this person and his/her insurance company, but it will also be helpful if the other party is hiding the fact that he/she does not have insurance.

You have the right to take as many photos as you can. These days everyone has a camera within reach at nearly all times. Take pictures of the damage done to both cars and the area around the accident as well as any physical injuries. These photos can serve as invaluable tools in any future legal action.

You have the right to obtain the police report of the incident. Before the officer leaves the scene ask for his/her contact information such as badge number, name and department. Also ask for the reference or service number of the report. It should be made available to you after a few days.

You have a right to not make incriminating statements to the other party’s insurance company such as “It was my fault” or “I’m sorry.” The other party’s insurance is not your advocate. They are looking for admissions of guilt/liability and for reasons to deny your claim. You could end up saying something that could damage your case. A serious personal injury attorney in Los Angeles such as Daniels Law can communicate with the other party’s insurance.

For most of us accidents are a confusing time that tests our abilities at crisis management and also test our common sense and judgment.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Brain damage makes some blind to the left

A car accident caused traumatic brain injury resulting in hemispatial neglect.

“The brain’s parietal lobe’s role in terms of vision is that it sees two frames of visual information. One form allows you to know what things are. The other form of visual processing lets you know where things are”, explains neuroscientist-turned-author Lisa Genova.

Almost all cases of hemispatial neglect affect the left side. That’s thought to be because both hemispheres process visual information for the right side, so if damage is done to the left hemisphere, the right can compensate for that loss — but it doesn’t work the other way around.

Read more about the condition at msnbc.msn.com

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

Unreasonable failure to pay a judgment creditor

Unreasonable failure to pay a judgment creditor

The critical question thus left pregnant but unresolved by Murphy, supra, 17 Cal.3d 937, 132 Cal.Rptr. 424, 553 P.2d 584, is whether an unreasonable, bad faith refusal to pay a judgment creditor claimant the entire amount of the judgment, after it becomes final, implicates some recognizable duty of good faith by the insurer under its policy, which was intended to benefit such a third party beneficiary. We believe so.

Although the policy in this case does not appear in the record, it may safely be inferred that it included “the usual promise to pay ‘on behalf of the insured … all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury or property damage….’ ” (Zahn v. Canadian Indem. Co. (1976) 57 Cal.App.3d 509, 511, 129 Cal.Rptr. 286.) There can be no doubt that, pursuant to this express policy **266 undertaking, the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing imposes a duty not to withhold in bad faith payment of damages which the insured has become obligated by judgment to pay. Certainly with respect to the insured, “The duty to so act is immanent in the contract whether the company is attending to the claims of third persons against the insured or the claims of the insured itself. Accordingly, when the insurer unreasonably and in bad faith withholds payment of the claim of its insured, it is subject to liability in tort.” (Gruenberg v. Aetna Ins. Co., supra, 9 Cal.3d at p. 575, 108 Cal.Rptr. 480, 510 P.2d 1032.)

Moreover, unlike the duty to settle that was at issue in Murphy, supra, 17 Cal.3d 937, 132 Cal.Rptr. 424, 553 P.2d 584, the duty not to withhold in bad faith payment of adjudicated claims runs not only in favor of the insured but also in favor of a judgment creditor such as plaintiff here. Section 11580 operates as part of a larger body of California law that seeks to assure that accident victims will be securely compensated through automobile policies. (See Barrera, supra, 71 Cal.2d at p. 672, 79 Cal.Rptr. 106, 456 P.2d 674.) “The public policy expressed in the Financial Responsibility and related laws requires that we construe statutes applicable to automobile liability insurance policies, as well as contractual provisions in those policies, in light of its purpose to protect those who may be injured by the use of automobiles.” (Ibid.) Accordingly, the insurer’s policy duty to pay adjudicated liabilities is in place as much to protect adjudicated injured parties from uncompensated loss as to protect the insured from personal financial disaster.

To this end, once having secured a final judgment for damages, the plaintiff becomes a third party beneficiary of the policy, entitled to recover on the judgment on the policy. At that point the insurer’s duty to pay runs contractually to the plaintiff as well as the insured. And the plaintiff having also become a beneficiary of the covenant of good faith (Murphy, supra, 17 Cal.3d at pp. 943–944, 132 Cal.Rptr. 424, 553 P.2d 584), the duty to exercise good faith in not withholding adjudicated damages necessarily is owing to the plaintiff also.

Farmers argues that this conclusion ignores and conflicts with section 11580, in that the statute in terms provides the judgment creditor only a right of action against the insurer, not a right to payment without suit. In support, Farmers cites Billington v. Interinsurance Exchange (1969) 71 Cal.2d 728, 79 Cal.Rptr. 326, 456 P.2d 982 (Billington), in which the Supreme Court noted that “under our existing direct action statute [§ 11580] an injured party is compelled to bring two lawsuits if he seeks to collect a judgment from the insurer which issued a liability policy.” (Id. at pp. 744–745, 79 Cal.Rptr. 326, 456 P.2d 982.)

The quoted, descriptive statement was made in response to an argument that allowing insurers to assert the defense of the insured’s noncooperation would unfairly require a creditor to bring two suits. Farmers’s broader argument that the rights of the class enabled by section 11580 extend no further than its bare terms is fallacious, for several reasons.

13 First, section 11580 cannot be read to create merely a judicial remedy, without an underlying right; and it is clear from the history of the *1859 statute that its purpose and effect was to create a right in the insurance contract. (See Malmgren v. Southwestern A. Ins. Co. (1927) 201 Cal. 29, 33, 255 P. 512 [Malmgren].) Indeed, as a matter of public policy, duties beyond those specifically set forth in section 11580 have been imposed on insurers for the benefit of statutory creditors. (Barrera, supra, 71 Cal.2d at pp. 668–678, 79 Cal.Rptr. 106, 456 P.2d 674.)

Second, judgment creditors granted a right of action by the statute have been repeatedly and definitively held to be third party beneficiaries of the policy. (Murphy, supra, 17 Cal.3d at p. 943, 132 Cal.Rptr. 424, 553 P.2d 584.) And, as explained in Murphy, these beneficiaries are entitled to performance, without suit, of implied covenants and duties imposed to secure their benefits, just as they are not entitled to invoke duties unnecessary, or in addition, to their receiving “all intended benefit.” (Id. at p. 944, 132 Cal.Rptr. 424, 553 P.2d 584.)

Finally, contrary to Farmers’s insinuation, a right of action for breach of the implied covenant of good faith need not be sought or found in the statute, because the actionable duty has always been implied by law from and into the contract itself. Although particular legislation might possibly supersede or “repeal” the implied covenant, it is nowise the necessary source of it. Presently, section 11580 has been authoritatively construed as recognizing, not excluding, the covenant of good faith as part of the parties’ relationship. (Murphy, supra, 17 Cal.3d at p. 943, 132 Cal.Rptr. 424, 553 P.2d 584; see fn. 7, ante.)

Hand v. Farmers Ins. Exchange (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1847, 1857-59 [29 Cal.Rptr.2d 258, 265-67]

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Poor economy means more drivers are dropping their car insurance, which is bad news if you have a personal injury accident

In the news today, word that a rise in the unemployment rate is leading to a rise in uninsured drivers as people try to save money.  In California, roughly 25% of drivers aren’t insured.  That means if you stand on a street corner, one out of every four cars passing you has absolutely no insurance if they injure you in an accident.

Your best protection is to make sure you have adequate uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy.  This is something many people don’t pay attention to, or try to save money on by buying the lowest possible limits.

You need to be proactive in making sure you have enough uninsured motorist coverage on your policy.  Check your insurance policy declarations page and then ask your carrier how much extra they will charge for limits equal to what they would pay another driver if your were responsible for their personal injuries.

On the bright side, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is reporting that small cars are faring better in crashes than they used to, though they still show some weakness in side-impact collisions.

Top safety picks are the Scion xB, Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Lancer, Volkswagen Rabbit, Toyota Corolla and Honda Fit.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.