Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

San Francisco Legal Blog

Do I need to have more than one type of car accident insurance?

By California law, you are required to have liability coverage for your car under California's laws regarding financial responsibility for auto accidents. But did you know you can buy more than one type of insurance for your car? Yet the real question is - do you need it in the event of a crash?

California only requires the minimum liability, but that does not mean there is no value in other types of insurance coverage. The California Department of Insurance details the various types, including the option to purchase more then the minimum liability insurance and the potential losses inherent if you do not have enough liability insurance to cover the full cost of damages in an accident where you are at fault. You can also buy medical coverage, which is a special type of insurance that will cover the costs of your and your passengers' medical care for injuries even if you were the one at fault. You get to choose what amount of coverage you buy above the $1,000 minimum.

Can gas and fumes on public transit cause personal injury?

When taking public transit, you have an expectation of reasonable safety assured to you by California public transit laws. You expect that the vehicle's operator will drive in a safe manner, that the vehicle itself is in sound condition and that all due action has been taken to ensure the safety of all passengers. Yet while riding a public transit bus, you find yourself inhaling odorous fumes that seem to be coming from the bus itself. Those fumes leave you dizzy, and worried about the effect on your brain from oxygen deprivation. Do you have a case for personal injury?

You may. A bill introduced in California legislature details, among other things, that it was already legally required for the cab of a vehicle to be reasonably sealed against any fumes, oils or other noxious substances. The bill also made it clear that the floors of vehicles must also be free of holes and sealed against intrusion of fumes and other substances. This provides greater coverage under the law for vehicles such as buses, shuttles, and trains, which may not have a separate cab area.

Do I have to report my accident to the California DMV?

When you are going about your busy day, the last thing you need is to hear that screech of tires and the impact of bumper to metal. Yet even if it turns out the accident is minor, you are still facing the hassle of police reports, insurance claims and reporting to the state DMV. Yet must every accident be reported to the California DMV? When are you free of this obligation?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles says you only have to file a report, Traffic Accident Report SR 1, if damage to the vehicle(s) or property exceeds $1,000, if someone was injured or if someone was killed. Even the smallest injury, such as a scraped elbow or strained neck from whiplash, mandates that you file a report. However, if you are involved in a minor fender-bender with less than $1,000 in damage and no one is in any way hurt or capable of filing a personal injury claim, then it is not necessary to file a report with the DMV.

Serious sports injuries that children can suffer

Kids love to be active. As their parents, you want to do everything you can to ensure that they are entertained and getting enough exercise. While engaging in sports and active hobbies is a great way to spend weekends and vacations, all sporting activities come with danger. It is quite common for children to suffer serious injuries as a result.

If your child does become injured during a sporting activity, it is important that you know your rights. If you have put your trust in a certain company and felt it was their responsibility to keep your child safe, it can be heartbreaking to know that they failed in their duty. Catastrophic injuries can often happen at ski schools, bounce houses or adventure playgrounds, and many families become faced with a heavy financial burden when it comes to medical costs.

Can cars drive in bicycle lanes?

When cars and bicycles share California streets, the hazard to bicyclists can seem extremely daunting. Only a single white line stands between bicyclists and thousands of pounds of steel moving at high speed, with little protection for you as the cyclist. Yet bicycle lanes should offer safety as a free riding lane clear of motor vehicle traffic - so why do you sometimes see cars merging into designated bicycle lanes? Is this legal, and is it safe?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles says that not only is it legal, it is sometimes required. Cars are required to merge into bicycle lanes when preparing to make a right turn. Even when remaining aware of traffic around you and watching for the turn signals of vehicles ahead of you, this can be startling and frightening when a car suddenly begins to merge toward you. Without adequate safety precautions and awareness on the part of both yourself and the driver, this can lead to a car crash and possible personal injury.

Can I request a copy of my accident report?

After a car collision on California roads, you may be too shaken to think of practical matters - or you may keep your head enough to call the police, exchange insurance information with the other driver and do everything you can to document the accident. Yet one critical document often required by insurance companies is a copy of the accident report. Can you request a copy of your accident report from the police?

Not only can you request a copy of your report, but the California Highway Patrol makes it fairly easy with a mail-in form. You may not be the only person who requires a copy of the police report, depending on extenuating circumstances. If you are not the owner of the vehicle and the insurance policy on the vehicle, perhaps if the car is registered in a spouse's or parent's name, then they may need to submit a request for a copy of the report to follow up on any damage claims. Passengers or owners of property damaged in an accident may also have the right to request a copy of the accident report.

Can I report potentially unsafe drivers?

Maybe your neighbor consistently backs into the trash cans as they reverse out of the drive every morning. Maybe your favorite aunt hunches nose to the steering wheel, peering through her glasses, weaving across the road as she drives you to your communal Sunday flea market pickings. Maybe your own spouse is losing the concentration required to safely drive, making you worry for their safety and the safety of those on California streets around them. No matter the person, you are concerned that an unsafe driver poses a danger to themselves and others, yet in the absence of convincing them to voluntarily abdicate their driving privileges...what can you do?

You can report them for evaluation, even if that may seem like drastic action. The California Department of Motor Vehicles offers Form DS 699, the Request for Driver Reexamination. You may also send a letter to your local Driver Safety office. If you choose to report a potentially unsafe driver either by form or by letter, you have the right to request confidentiality and have your identity kept secret from the person you reported. You may not wish a family member or friend to know that you reported them, yet you are making a moral and ethical decision to keep California's roads as safe as possible.

Are head-on crashes more common on rural roads?

 We have covered many facets of motor vehicle collisions on our blogs, but there are many more ways to take a closer look at the nature of traffic collisions. Sometimes, an accident can be especially dangerous and have a particularly high fatality rate, such as head-on collisions. In order to reduce the likelihood of a head-on crash, it may be helpful to go over statistics on these accidents and understand where they are most likely to occur.

According to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, head-on collisions take place more frequently in rural locations, as opposed to urban areas. Moreover, the majority of deadly accidents occur on roads that are straight, both in rural locations and on urban roads as well. As a result, it is important to keep in mind that even though roads may seem less hectic in rural parts of the country, the risk of a fatal accident is still present.

Trampoline dangers: 5 common injuries

Whether your child decides to go play on a trampoline at a friend's house or a trampoline park, the dangers remain. Slipping off a trampoline could result in head injuries, back injuries or broken bones. Sprains and strains often happen due to landing wrong, and even lacerations or friction burns can occur.

It's important to know the risks before allowing your child to use a trampoline. Here are five common injuries and how they occur.

Does CA have a statute of limitations on personal injury claims?

After a motor vehicle accident, you may be focused on immediate injuries and damages. Yet days, weeks, months or even years later you find pain creeping in, such as spinal issues or brain injury issues. A medical examination by a California doctor determines that this was damage from the motor vehicle accident that took longer to manifest over time. You are now facing an injury that could significantly impact your quality of life. But is it too late for you to make a personal injury claim for your trauma?

It depends on the length of time not just since the injury, but since the discovery of the injury. Per the Judicial Branch of California, you have two years to file a personal injury claim for the claim to be considered valid. However, that is assuming the injury was discovered right away. If you were unaware of the injury at first, then you have one year to file a personal injury claim from the time when the injury was discovered.


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