Hitting the Road
As the spring weather heats up, more and more Modesto and Stockton families and 'weekend warriors' will be 'hitting the road' to their respective recreational destinations. Unfortunately, some of these families will be injured in an car accident. As traffic increases along with the seasonal temperatures, so too does the risk of being involved in vehicle collisions which may cause personal injury. These circumstances necessitate enhanced vigilance with regard to road safety by those behind the wheel or otherwise on the road. Driving defensively and maintaining constant awareness of one's surroundings while driving greatly decreases the risk of being involved in an accident. The following tips should prove helpful:
- Maintaining an appropriate distance from the car ahead
- Ensuring that lane changes and turns are made only when it is completely safe
- Avoiding driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or heavy medication
- No driving when suffering from exhaustion or fatigue
- Eliminating driving distractions such as eating smoking and cell phone use.
Tips like these and more can be found at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Your Rights as a Victim of Negligence
However, in the event that a person does find themselves in such an unfortunate circumstance, they may have means of recourse in a Personal Injury Attorney (through Civil Litigation). In vehicle collisions, as well as other accidents (incidents) involving negligence, wrongdoers and negligent parties may be held accountable through the Civil Justice System. Negligence involves the breach of a duty which causes damages or injuries to innocent parties. In the following case, The Modesto Bee reports that a 31 year old Murphy's Woman crashed head-on into a tree in an attempt to avoid a deer. At a glance, any negligence would appear to be absent from the case, yet, upon further investigation or discovery as it is called in Civil Litigation, facts may be revealed to show not only that the driver was not at fault, but that another entity (aside from the deer, of course) may be at fault.
Hypothetically, the area surrounding French Gulch Road in Sonora, a rural and moderately forested area, may have a dense deer population, which arguably presents a hazard to drivers. Such a hazard could be considered a dangerous condition, and a failure to warn drivers on the part of the entity with domain over it, could impute liability.
In all likelihood, the road in the case mentioned above is maintained by a government entity, an issue which presents its own legal hurdles. There is a possibility that the road was not maintained correctly or the government failed to warn drivers of known hazards. For example a deer crossing waring sign is an example of when the government properly warns drivers of dangerous conditions. A person with a potential civil claim against a local government entity, for instance, must comply with the California Government Tort Claims Act (Government Code §814, et Seq.) or The Federal Tort Claims Act. The time limits and procedural requirements under which a lawsuit subject to these regulations are very strict. For example, in order to sue Stanislaus County or Modesto, or one of their employees, the complainant must first file a claim with the local government entity concerned. Under California Law, such local claims must be filed within 6 months of the harm to the complainant, without fail. In the event the claim is not filed under these deadlines, the injured party may not proceed to file a civil lawsuit. Once the government entity has received the claim, it has 45 days to either honor or deny the claim, and in the event of a denial the injured party must adhere to another 6 month time constraint within which the civil claim must be filed with the Superior Court. Again, failure to adhere to the time limitations at this juncture eliminates the complainant's ability to recover through litigation.