Negligence, or a lack of care, causes most traffic accidents in Santa Clara County. Sometimes, the “reasonable person” standard sets the bar. In other words, if an operator did not drive defensively, that operator could be responsible for damages. Other times, the law establishes the standard of care. This doctrine is called negligence per se.
If emergency responders gave the tortfeasor (negligent driver) a ticket, liability is usually easier to prove. However, these claims are still complex, especially regarding damages. So, unless you have a good San Jose car accident lawyer, you may end up settling your claim for less than it’s worth.
Excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of the fatal car wrecks in California. Speed increases the risk of a collision and the force in a collision.
Speeding drivers have very little reaction time. At 30mph, most vehicles travel about six car lengths between the moment a driver sees a hazard and applies the brakes, and the moment the car safely stops. At 60mph, stopping distance multiplies to eighteen car lengths. Speed also multiplies the force in a collision. Non-injury fender-benders become serious injury crashes.
These sudden, dangerous lane shifts often either cause sideswipe collisions or evasive maneuver crashes.
Sideswipe collisions usually cause serious injuries. Much of the turning car’s force is directed against the side of another vehicle, where it is relatively unprotected. Side curtain airbags absorb some of this force, but certainly not all of it. Other drivers suddenly swerve to get out of the way. These emergency maneuvers often cause worse crashes than the ones they prevented.
California law does not define this infraction very well. The Vehicle Code says it is operating “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Typically, emergency responders issue these citations if a driver breaks two traffic laws at once, or multiple traffic laws in rapid succession. In civil court, juries almost always hold reckless drivers liable for damages, regardless of the surrounding circumstances.
Many drivers do not share the road with bicycles, mopeds, and other such vehicles. Yet according to the Vehicle Code, these riders have the same rights as four-wheel vehicles. When drivers cut off bicyclists or do not give them enough space, the resulting crash often causes serious or fatal injuries. The victim is almost always the bicycle, moped, or other rider.
These infractions usually involve drivers who blatantly ignore traffic control devices or drivers who make unsafe “California stops,” or rolling right turns.
Many motorists are only semi-conscious behind the wheel. They are so distracted that they do not see traffic control devices, or they are substance-impaired and their senses are dim. Rolling right turns are especially dangerous for pedestrians. Most of these tortfeasors only look to the left at oncoming traffic when they turn. If a pedestrian is in the crosswalk to the driver’s right, the driver usually never sees the victim.
Motorists have a duty to obey the rules of the road. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in San Jose, contact Solution Now Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.
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