Habits to Avoid: The Top Causes of Car Accidents in the U.S.

car accident lawyer los angeles

Every day, millions of people entrust their lives to those who are sitting behind the wheels of private cars and public transport vehicles. Green Car Congress gathered the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and found that the average number of vehicles per lane on rural roads in 2016 was 433. The average volume shoots up to 2,236 for urban roads.

No one likes to start their day anticipating how things can go wrong. However, if doing so can save you a phone call to a car accident lawyer, then it would be worth spending ten or 20 minutes before you get inside your car mulling over situations that could harm you and your passengers while on the road.

There are approximately 14,894, 912 registered vehicles in California in 2019. Of that number, 8,154,560 cars are registered in Los Angeles. If you belong to this statistic, you should know the most top causes of car accidents are so that you’ll know to avoid them.

  1. Alcohol Intoxication and Drug Use

Impaired driving due to alcohol intoxication and drug use remains to be one of the top causes of accidents on the road. According to the latest data from the National Safety Council based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that was published in the Insurance Information Institute (iii) website, drunk driving accidents historically increase during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2019 data shows that 28 percent of the total fatalities from car accidents nationwide were due to alcohol-impaired driving.

  1. Driving Errors

There are a number of driver-related causes for car accidents that are prevalent today. These include negligence and inadequate training, both of which lead to poor decision-making on the road. Grave mistakes such as driving too fast in poor weather, driving despite lacking sleep, forgetting to slow down when rounding a curve, poor control of the wheel, and misjudging distances have resulted in fatal crashes.

  1. The Transition to Daylight Savings

The NHTSA classifies sleepy driving under driver-related errors, but it’s worth highlighting as a category of its own because of the data. According to the findings of a new study that looked at 732, 835 car accidents in the U.S. from 1996 to 2017, incidents of fatal car crashes increase by six percent one week after daylight savings time (DST) takes effect.

The researchers cite sleep deprivation which results in drowsiness and manifestations similar to jet lag as the cause of the spike in car accidents during this period.

  1. Vehicle Failure

Poor car maintenance, natural wear and tear, and criminal activities like vehicular sabotage are also leading causes of car accidents. Brake failure, non-responsive steering mechanisms, engine problems, breakdown of suspension components, and blown-out and bald tires are examples of vehicle-related causes.

  1. Environmental Factors

Inclement weather, coupled with negligence or lack of driving skills, can be deadly for many motorists and pedestrians. Heavy rains and snow that turn roads slick and zero visibility due to thick fog are the most common causes of environment-related causes for car accidents.

Stay Aware to Stay Safe

Awareness of the things that can put you in harm’s way is the first step to avoiding terrible outcomes on the road. Knowing that highways are extra dangerous during the holiday season, for example, will prompt you to complete your business early so that you’re off the streets at a time when most drivers are rushing to get home.

If an accident still happens despite your best efforts, you can count on our car accident lawyers in Los Angeles to help you file for claims and other legal proceedings if necessary. Visit our office or call 213-514-5681 to book an appointment. You can also fill out the contact form on our website.

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Personal Injury Claims for Pedestrians: What You Should Know

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Street laws and regulations give special preference to pedestrians. Given that they are the most vulnerable on the road, motorists are expected to give way. Unfortunately, accidents involving pedestrians still happen as a result of reckless driving and sometimes, of their own doing.

If you or someone you know falls victim to speeding drivers in LA who have no regard for pedestrians, you should contact personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles as quickly as possible.

Pedestrians Are Always at Risk

It’s nearly impossible to guarantee that pedestrians will be 100 percent safe if they stay on sidewalks and follow all street rules. Negligent and reckless drivers can still inflict injury and even death on law-abiding pedestrians.

The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that pedestrian fatalities made up 17 percent of all traffic deaths in the country in 2018 — an increase of 3.4 percent from 2017. It’s also worth noting that modern vehicles are equipped with various safety features to protect not just passengers but also the cars themselves. In contrast, pedestrians have nothing to shield them from the impact of oncoming vehicles.

A pedestrian hit by a car has every right to file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for the pain, trauma, medical expenses, and other financial burdens they suffered because of the accident.

The Rule of Comparative Negligence

Los Angeles operates under the comparative negligence rule when it comes to personal injury cases. Comparative negligence acknowledges the possibility that everyone involved in an accident might have a degree of fault. Under this rule, the compensation a victim receives might be less than what they demand if it is established that they are partly at fault. The compensation will be reduced according to the victim’s degree of fault (e.g., 25 percent less if the pedestrian is 25 percent at fault for the accident).

What If a Pedestrian Caused an Accident?

Road accidents caused by reckless pedestrians happens more often than most people think.

According to the NHTSA, 42 percent of car crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities were because of alcohol intoxication. The agency breaks down this statistic further and reveals a surprising finding: only pedestrians were alcohol-impaired in 26 percent of these incidents. In contrast, driver impairment was only at 10 percent. Alcohol impairment in both drivers and pedestrians constituted 6 percent of all incidents.

So what happens if a drunk pedestrian gets hit by a car? Who is at fault?

We shall once again refer to the comparative negligence law to determine fault and liability. If it is proven that the pedestrian stepped off the sidewalk or crossed the street at the wrong time because they were drunk, the court could rule them to be 100 percent at fault and be ineligible for a personal injury claim. They may still, however, be eligible for coverage from their personal health insurance.

What to Do If a Pedestrian Is Hit by a Car

Whether you are the pedestrian who got hit or you witnessed an accident on the street, the first thing you should do is call 911 and ask for paramedics to be at the scene. You should also alert your family and ask for assistance if necessary. If, however, you are seriously injured and struggling to stay alert, your next phone call should be to a personal injury attorney.

Keep Haffner Law’s hotline in your emergency contacts. Should you ever be in a road accident, you can call us immediately and our attorneys and staff will also respond in kind.

Haffner Law is a premier personal injury and insurance law practice in Los Angeles. Our attorneys have been offering legal advice and representation in personal injury class actions as early as 1994.

Talk to our personal injury lawyers today. Call 213-514-56881 or fill out the contact form on our homepage.

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Why Some Car Accidents Go to Trial

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Motor vehicle crashes are the leading safety issue in the US, accounting for 94% of transportation death and 99% of transportation injury. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the first half of 2020 shows that an estimated 16,650 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes.

Despite the numbers, auto accident lawsuits hardly ever make it to court. To avoid the risks and legal costs that come with trial, the at-fault party or insurance company will likely seek a settlement.

Settlements are typically less stressful and time-consuming than going to trial. As the injured party, you may be subjected to examination and cross-examination on the witness stand. With a settlement, however, you receive an agreed amount of compensation for your damages and the case is concluded.

However, the monetary awards for settlements are often lower than jury awards. Unlike settlements, trials are public records. You can rest assured that the defendant will be held accountable should you win your case.

In the event that your case goes to trial, you want a reliable attorney by your side. Haffner Law has years of experience handling high-stake cases against large corporations with high-powered legal teams. If you have been seriously injured or treated unfairly, trust us to help you get the compensation you truly deserve.

Filing a personal injury claim

Serious car accidents can leave you with catastrophic injuries that can affect your ability to work and enjoy life.

If you’ve been injured in a car crash that was caused by someone else’s recklessness or negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover your losses. Personal injury claims can help cover current and future medical bills, loss of income, and property repair costs.

As your trusted legal advocates, we’ll take care of all the paperwork and remove errors or omissions that could invalidate your case. We’ll conduct a thorough investigation of your case to determine fault and identify responsible parties.

Our team will help gather documentation such as images and videos of the accidents, witness statements, evidence of your injuries, medical records, and proof of property damage. The more evidence you have to support your auto accident injury claim, the higher your chance of receiving a fair settlement amount.

If the case still cannot be resolved through direct negotiation, a mediator may be asked to facilitate our discussions. However, if the other party still refuses to make a fair settlement offer, we won’t hesitate to fight on your behalf in front of a judge or jury. Take note that many cases that proceed to trial often settle before the court makes a final judgment or verdict.

Contact Haffner Law for legal guidance

The auto injury attorneys at Haffner Law have the knowledge, experience, and dedication to guide you throughout your case. If you’ve been injured through no fault of your own, call us at 1-844-HAFFNER to determine the best course of action. During your free consultation, we’ll analyze your case and discuss your options for securing ample compensation.

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Calculating Damages in Product Liability Personal Injury

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Every day, consumers are at risk of buying items that not only fail to meet customer expectations but worse, harm health and safety. Below are examples of products that often reported as defective:

  • Vape – Devices that ignite or explode, causing severe burns and wounds.
  • Infant car seats – Faulty straps or mechanical locks that entrap children
  • Children’s toys – Toys that are too tiny or have detachable, tiny parts that can be accidentally swallowed by toddlers.
  • Energy drinks
  • Car airbags – Airbags that deploy late or deploy at the slightest impact that it causes injury instead of preventing it.
  • Grooming products – Topical products that contain harmful chemicals.

If you encountered a defective product that has harmed you, you might have a case for a personal injury product liability claim.

What Is Personal Injury Product Liability?

Personal injury and product liability have different governing laws, but both sets can apply when in cases when a defective product results in a personal injury.

Personal injury occurs when a victim sustains physical, mental, and emotional trauma because of another person or entity’s negligence. Product liability, on the other hand, occurs when a product defect results in physical injuries and damages. Both protect the victims’ rights to demand compensation from the guilty party.

How Are Personal Injury and Product Liability Claims Calculated?

Product liability claims that are negotiated outside of court are settled between the plaintiff and defendant, as well as their respective insurance companies and personal injury attorneys. If the case goes to trial, the jury or a judge will decide how much the guilty party should pay in damages to the victim.

There is no mathematical formula for calculating the compensation for personal injury (and if ever there is, insurance adjusters are unlikely to reveal it during negotiation). Rather, the parties or judge decide the amount based on the following factors:

  1. Medical expenses and post-treatment rehabilitation costs
  2. Loss of income during recovery
  3. Loss of future income due to a resulting disability or disfigurement
  4. Emotional trauma
  5. Pain and suffering
  6. Wrongful death

The known costs such as the bills from the hospital, specialists’ fees, and payslips are typically added and then inflated to account for the non-quantifiable factors like emotional trauma and pain and suffering. Lost wages are also included in the calculation. The sum becomes the starting point for the negotiations of both parties.

Plaintiffs can negotiate for a higher settlement if:

  • They sustained serious injuries (e.g., head injuries, spinal injuries)
  • Their injuries require rehabilitation or lifelong medical treatment.
  • They have to undergo invasive procedures to recover from their injuries.
  • The consequences of their injuries are permanently visible (e.g., scars, deformities).
  • They became disabled as a result of the injury.

Qualified Liability Claims

Since the cause of the injury is a defective product, the victim is also burdened with proving product liability. These claims can fall in any of the three recognized categories in the U.S.:

  1. Manufacturing Defect – A flaw in the manufacturing process meant the product was defective before it left the manufacturing or distribution chain.
  2. Design Defect – The design itself is flawed.
  3. Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings – There are no warnings about the possible risks when using the product.

Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Specializing in Product Liability

Product liability victims cannot rely on the charity of product manufacturers. They also need fierce personal injury attorneys who have experience in proving product liability. More importantly, they need attorneys who will negotiate for the compensation they deserve.

You’ll find such attorneys here at Haffner Law. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our personal injury and product liability attorneys. Call 213-514-5681 or fill out the contact form on our website.

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If a Personal Injury Victim Dies, Who Gets the Settlement?

wrongful death settlement

One of the usual questions we get at Haffner Law is if a person who files for personal injury dies, what happens to the case, and, more importantly, who gets the settlement if the court awards it?

Here’s what happens if the plaintiff in a personal injury case succumbs to their injuries and dies before they could settle their claims:

  1. The personal injury case becomes a survival action.
  2. The right to pursue the lawsuit and claim the settlement the plaintiff justly deserves automatically goes to the plaintiff’s estate.

What Is a Survival Action?

A “survival action” focuses on the compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased or decedent. It preserves the deceased’s rights at the moment of death, including the right to receive just compensation for the injuries they sustained due to the defendant’s negligence. Survival actions are different from wrongful death claims — we’ll discuss this in further detail later in this article.

Who Receives the Settlement for a Survival Action?

As mentioned above, the decedent’s estate becomes responsible for continuing survival actions. This means that the personal representative, who may be the lawyer or executor of the deceased, can push through with the case and receive the settlement for the personal injury claims.

What happens to the money if the court awards the claims in a survival action?

All proceeds in survival actions are subject to inheritance and federal estate taxes. The money can also be used to pay any outstanding financial obligation of the decedent. If there’s still some left after paying off all the tax obligations and creditors, the estate can disburse the money according to the decedent’s last will and testament.

Now for another important question: what if the settlement is just enough to pay off the decedent’s taxes and creditors? Can the decedent’s family who might be dependent on him or her file a claim against the defendant as well? The answer is yes, through a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action

Survival actions are all about a decedent’s right to receive compensation for their personal injury. A wrongful death lawsuit, on the other hand, addresses the right of the surviving family to seek monetary damages for the death of their loved one. It seeks to compensate them for their losses (e.g., loss of income, if the victim is the breadwinner of the family), pain, and expenses for the victim’s medical and funeral bills.

No amount of money can ease the pain of losing someone you love. Settlement for a wrongful death claim can, however, alleviate the financial burden that could fall on the shoulders of the surviving family.

Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Claim?

The plaintiff gets all the proceeds in this case. The question now is who can file a wrongful death claim?

The specifics differ in each state, but federal law generally gives the right to the victim’s parents, spouse, children, or dependents. A domestic partner may also file a wrongful death claim, but only if their state recognizes common-law or same-sex marriage. California is one of those states.

If the decedent has no legal heirs (i.e., both parents have passed, has no children, is not yet married, and did not explicitly name an heir in their last will and testament), no one can be the plaintiff in the wrongful death case, and the defendant can walk free.

Hire an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

Unlike with survival actions, the damages recovered through wrongful death claims are non-taxable. It is, therefore, an opportunity to fight for the highest wrongful death compensation your family deserves and make the defendant accountable for their negligence. There is, however, the burden of proving that the decedent’s death is due to injury caused by the defendant. You will need a capable, experienced, and fierce wrongful death attorney for this.

You can find such lawyers at Haffner Law. We have attorneys with over 20 years of experience in personal injury cases and have successfully pursued wrongful death claims for clients in California.

Call us at 213-514-5681 to schedule a consultation. You can also speak with our attorneys for a free case review. Fill out the form on our website.

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