Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

San Francisco Legal Blog

Are drunk driving standards harsher for drivers on probation?

If you have already been involved in a drunk driving case in California, you may wonder what will happen if you are caught operating under the influence again, or what even qualifies as "under the influence" when that definition may change in your specific circumstance. Particularly if you are on probation for a drunk driving incident that led to an accident or catastrophic injury, you may be asking yourself if you can even risk driving after a single sip of alcohol.

According to the California legislature website, it is a risk you would be better off avoiding. While typically it takes a 0.08 percent BAC to qualify as driving under the influence, a driver on probation after an incident can be found in violation of safe driving laws if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or higher. This violation may seem like a minor infraction, but can lead to arrest.

When negligent driving turns deadly

The term "negligent driver" can sound innocuous, as harmless as going a mile over the speed limit or parking an inch too close to the curb, but negligent driving can have serious consequences. Per a table on the CA.gov DMV portal, negligent driving in the state of California can encompass an extensive list of acts with varying ranges of severity, and are graded on a point system to determine the action taken against the driver on first and repeated offenses.

This table lists the codes when making cases for negligent operator charges, in which the "negligent operator" is the motor vehicle driver determined to be at fault in a collision. Collisions involving severe bodily harm or death, with or without a DUI, carry a higher weight in this point system and can lead to harsher penalties, the least of which is a fine and the worst of which can progress from license revocation to jail time for wrongful death.

Preventing sports injuries: Equipment matters

Sports injuries are bound to happen due to the nature of the activities. It's hard to imagine getting through a football or baseball season without at least one injury.

Although that's the case, it's possible to reduce the risk of sporting injuries significantly by using the right safety equipment. Safety equipment ranges based on the sport, but using it could help prevent concussions, neck injuries and other serious wounds.

Are you at fault in a car collision with objects on the road?

During a late night on California roads, it can be terrifying when your headlights suddenly sweep across an object in your path. You see the object, perhaps something that fell from a previous driver's vehicle, but not in time to avoid it. You swerve, but still drive into or over the object. Your vehicle is damaged, and it is possible you may be injured. In this case, you would think you are not at fault, and your insurance company and possibly anyone involved in the placement of the obstacle on the road would be liable for damages. But did you know that you can actually be held accountable for your accident?

This is because, according to the Los Angeles Times, California has a basic speed law integrated into the state Vehicle Code. This law assumes that you as the driver should be traveling at a reasonable and responsible speed that would allow you to recognize and steer around any objects in the road before they were close enough to become a danger to you. The presumption is that if you were unable to avoid the object, you were driving too quickly.

What happens if you are injured in an insurance fraud case?

It can be hard to believe, but not everyone on the road has your best interests in mind. A car accident in California may be more than just an accident. It may be the other driver's attempt to commit insurance fraud by deliberately causing a collision. Yet such drivers rarely think of the harm to anyone but themselves. What happens if you are involved in a car crash with a person attempting insurance fraud, and subsequently injured?

Per California penal code, your injuries may be used in the fraud case against the other driver. The case must determine if the other driver and/or their accomplices willfully caused the accident for the express purpose of committing insurance fraud. Depending on the number of people injured, the other driver may see a significant lengthening of their sentence in the event their case is decided as guilty. The qualifier is that your injuries must be determined as serious bodily injury in order to count against their sentencing, but nonetheless may still be presented as evidence in a fraud case.

Legal liability in self-driving car accidents

In an accident with most motor vehicles, blame can often be placed on one or both drivers, existing traffic conditions, vehicle safety issues, road safety issues or weather conditions. The issue of liability gets more complicated when dealing with self-driving cars that do not have a driver, when the self-driving car may or may not be at fault in the instance of an accident on California streets.

Self-driving cars are considered autonomous vehicles, and the state of California has proposed and revised a number of evolving regulations regarding autonomous vehicles. Operation and regulation of autonomous vehicles is still a new field continuously undergoing change as the technology advances and legislators discover new need for regulations covering particular instances, but the most recent version of proposed regulations only offers provisions regarding test vehicles.

What do you do when police arrive on the scene of a car accident?

When you have been involved in an accident on California's highways and city streets, the immediate response can be panic. Accidents are frightening and your emotions may be running high, whether you are upset over a near-miss fatality, angry over damage to your vehicle, or dealing with the pain and fear associated with injury. Regardless of your emotional state, however, you should be prepared to deal with police once they arrive on the scene of the accident.

Your first step after an accident would usually be, if you are physically capable, to call 911 if bystanders have not already done so. Some drivers are tempted to flee the scene of an accident, but that would transition the accident into a hit-and-run with legal consequences. If more than one person is involved in the accident, those who are physically capable generally exchange insurance information. If you are capable of remaining clear-headed, the information you provide once the police arrive can be instrumental in completing the accident report.

Bedsores aren't just minor nuisances for many people

People who are bedridden and those who have severe mobility issues often can't adjust their position to prevent pressure from being placed on specific points in the body. They will often rely on other people to help them out with repositioning.

Patients in nursing homes and those who depend on care aides should be moved frequently to reduce the risk of bedsores forming. These sores might not seem like they are big deals, but they can actually lead to death.

When accidents require an investigation

If the cause of a motor vehicle accident is unclear, California state or local police accident investigation teams may conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the accident, including agencies such as the California Highway Patrol Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Teams. Such investigations can be common in cases involving catastrophic injury or death, but less common in minor accidents unless an insurance company requires information to determine who was at fault and thus who is liable for monetary damages.

Insurance investigators only determine who is at fault in an accident, but it is up to either law enforcement or the victim in an accident to press charges. Law enforcement teams can determine if any charges may be involved for wrongful death or injury. One such instance of a case requiring investigation is a Yucca Valley case reported in the Hi-Desert Star. In this case, a three vehicle collision led to the deaths of two passengers and injury of two more.

Can the driver in a hit and run case be acquitted of fault?

A hit-and-run can happen out of nowhere. One moment you are walking the streets of California, and the next a driver crashes their vehicle into you. Rather than remain and take accountability, the driver speeds away and leaves you injured. You have been the victim of a hit-and-run, but if you pursue a case against the driver can the driver be acquitted for any reason?

California state law is very clear on this matter. The California legislative information website states that the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident is legally required to stop their vehicle and comply with law officials on the scene. Failure to remain on the scene constitutes a hit-and-run, while failure to comply with law officials may escalate to resisting arrest. A hit-and-run is considered fleeing the scene of a crime, which carries severe charges.


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