Without context, the phrase can be confusing. On the surface, the two words “open” and “obvious” don’t seem to go together.
In law, “open and obvious” typically comes into play in slip and fall cases. An open and obvious defense is something that a property owner would use to escape liability — to avoid being held responsible for another party’s fall.
A property owner has a legal duty to protect people against known — and sometimes unknown — dangers on their property.
Using an open and obvious defense, a property owner might claim that the danger encountered was out in the open and so obvious that the injured party could have avoided it.
How an Open and Obvious Defense Might Be Applied
To help illustrate this point, let’s consider hypothetical example. Imagine walking in a fantasy world and suddenly falling into a giant rabbit hole on somebody’s property.
If you saw the giant rabbit hole and then proceeded to fall into it, the property owner might have a legitimate claim that the hole was open and obvious. The hole was out in the open and was so obvious that, as you walked toward it, you shouldn’t have slipped and fallen into it.
In reality, matters are often quite different. Commonly, the question of whether something was actually open and obvious is unclear and confusing.
So, let’s change one fact in the fantasy hypothetical above. Everything else stays the same except for the fact that this fall happened at night in the dark.
There you are, walking in the dark and you suddenly fall into a giant rabbit hole. In that situation, you could argue that there nothing open or obvious about the hole. You couldn’t see it.
But what if there were a warning sign in front of the hole? What if the sign read, “WARNING: Giant Rabbit Hole Ahead.” In this case, the property owner would argue that they warned you about the hole. You might argue that you couldn’t see the warning sign because it was dark.
Dealing with an Open and Obvious Defense? Contact Negretti & Associates
As you can see, you can go down a giant rabbit hole wrestling with whether a danger is open and obvious. It’s a defense that is subject to wide interpretation.
For this reason, if you’ve been involved in a slip-and-fall case, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who is familiar with your state’s premises liability laws, including the open and obvious defense.
Depending on how you see things, the phrase “jackpot justice” can have two entirely different meanings. It’s a classic example of a loaded term, one that exposes a rift in political and economic values.
One commentator has referred to a jackpot justice as a “problem,” wherein juries “reward outsized judgments unrelated to actual damages.” Separately, a thinktank has published a 53-page document titled Jackpot Justice, The True Cost of America’s Tort System, but never explicitly defined the term in its analysis.
So, how can we unpack this loaded term? As a hypothetical, let’s imagine what jackpot justice might mean from the perspectives of two people. We’ll call them T.G.B. and J.T.N.
T.G.B. is an Ivy League academic who has spent his entire life with his nose in books. Sure, he’s book smart. But he’s not street smart. He is so caught up in research and number-crunching that he has isolated himself from the real people who are the bedrock of this country. He’s not relatable, and if he doesn’t have a data set to back up his point, he has nothing meaningful to say.
J.T.N. grew up poor, eventually fought his way out of the lower class, and then dedicated his life to helping others. He believes that everybody should be free from harm and that the people and companies who harm others should be held responsible for their actions. He’s your everyday man. A modern-day Robin Hood. He fights for what it right, based on a moral compass developed on the streets.
T.G.B., who has never felt the pangs of need, would define jackpot justice as “tort lawyers gone wild.” Actually, that phrase is too imaginative for T.G.B. He would say that injury lawsuits impede economic growth and that injury lawyers and their clients are a threat to the American economic system.
J.T.N. would define jackpot justice as a misnomer — a phrase coined by the conservative elite and overpaid insurance lobbyists who thrive on disinformation to keep the lower class low. J.T.N. would say that injustice occurs when a tortfeasor — in other words, a wrongdoer — prevents an injury victim from being made whole. In J.T.N.’s view, a cap on damages is a glass ceiling placed over the top our judicial system, so that the rich can get richer.
T.G.B. is deeply tied to the field of economics. He has devoted his life to the study of market behavior. But his perspective reaches far beyond his work. T.G.B. would avoid admitting to you that his personal asset holdings are tied to businesses growth and that tort reform personally benefits him. The only thing personal to T.G.B. is his own financial stability — even if that means turning a blind eye on justice.
J.T.N. would argue that lawsuits that have felled the tobacco industry, made our vehicles safer, and taken poisons out of our foods are a good thing. J.T.N. values society’s overall health and well-being more than a company’s profits. He believes that injuries are personal and that every single person is important.
When we think about holding a large, powerful industry accountable for the harms it commits to its users, we must answer a pivotal question: At what point does a business become responsible for the societal harms it commits? In turn, when does a business — or group of businesses — need to properly warn and educate consumers about the potential dangers of using its product?
The law would say that a business is responsible from the moment it knows, or has reason to know, that its product can cause harm. At that point, the business bears a responsibility to society at large to warn against dangers of using its product.
Some commentators might argue that a business may have a larger responsibility once the potential to harm is known: to stop producing the product that causes the harm. Others would argue that as long as the business is warning people, the business has done enough. If someone wants to engage with a dangerous or harmful product, that’s up to the individual to decide.
Clearing the Air After Big Tobacco
It’s hard to believe this, but cigarette smoking was once commonplace everywhere you went. For decades, people smoked in enclosed public spaces. People lit up in restaurants, banks, and waiting rooms as casually as we check our smartphones today.
It’s crazy to think that smoking on airplanes wasn’t banned on domestic flights until 1990. And it wasn’t until 1995 when California became the first state to enact a statewide smoking ban inside restaurants. Ever since, states and municipalities have continued to impose limitations on where people can smoke. Alaska finally signed into law its own statewide ban on smoking enclosed public spaces in 2018.
Over the years, we’ve gradually become accustomed to not being exposed to cigarette smoke in public venues. We might even take clean air for granted.
Getting to this point took decades of lawsuits — going back to the 1950s, but really culminating in the 1990s, with major class-action cases — that forced tobacco companies to admit to the dangerous, addictive properties of cigarettes.
From a legal standpoint, toppling “Big Tobacco” was a slow grind. You have to remember that tobacco companies once held tremendous influence over public opinion and policy.
Yet, the most shocking thing to come out of the Big Tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s was the fact that the tobacco makers knew their product was dangerous. They knew cigarettes were addictive and yet they kept on marketing them and selling them to anyone who could buy them.
Toxic Tech for Teens
What if an individual doesn’t even understand the dangerous or harmful nature of using or consuming a product? That is the dilemma facing Facebook — a wealthy, powerful company that holds tremendous influence over public opinion and policy, just as Big Tobacco did decades ago.
According to the Journal, researchers within Instagram have been conducting internal studies on its user base for the past three years. Many findings are alarming.
The Journal points to a slide presentation made by Instagram researchers in March 2020:
“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues.
“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
It should be no secret that body image and mental health decline when young users engage with Instagram. Spend less than one minute scrolling through the app and you will see a fictitious world filled with beautiful people who have perfect bodies and take amazing vacations to places you have never heard of. Exposure to idealized portrayals can wear on the average person over time. The way the app is designed, Instagram stimulates and reinforces social comparison.
A particular problem is that younger, more impressionable users don’t necessarily realize that many portrayals on Instagram are staged — or fictional in nature. Every day, about 22 million teens log onto Instagram in the U.S. alone and are inundated with opportunities for social comparison and resulting feelings of inadequacy. Their bodies and social standings cannot possibly compare to the perfect bodies and lifestyles that Instagram promotes.
Big Tobacco Version 2.0?
Lawmakers are already calling on Facebook to answer these reports. Additionally, drafts of bills have begun to circulate, potentially requiring businesses such as Facebook to submit regular reports to the Federal Trade Commission, so that the government can have more oversight. This seems to be more of about political jockeying than it does about actually protecting the public.
As a reminder, Big Tobacco didn’t do anything to change its ways until it was told by a jury that it had to pay for the harm it created. The dam was chipped away over the course of many years by the tireless efforts of plaintiff attorneys who wouldn’t let their clients get run over by a giant industry. It wasn’t until the dam broke when the government jumped in to make significant and substantial changes.
This might be the fate of Instagram — an app that, much like cigarettes, is not only harmful to one’s health, but incredibly addictive by design.
Facebook has already released statements that indicate that they are aware of the problems caused by using Instagram, and that they are working to fix problems. But that’s a sophisticated, PR-friendly way of saying they aren’t going to do anything meaningful. Instagram makes Facebook too much money.
The real path toward change will have to come in the form of individual lawsuits against Facebook. Unfortunately, this means that countless young people will continue to be hurt along the way, before these lawsuits surface.
https://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/instagram-like-big-tobacco-harms-teens-feature.webp545477Jonathan Negrettihttp://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/negretti_logo_o-1.webpJonathan Negretti2021-09-24 17:23:482021-10-21 04:30:02A Smoking Gun at Facebook: How Instagram, Like Big Tobacco, Harms Teens
Multiple-car accidents, which involve three or more vehicles, can lead to complicated legal cases and a variety of insurance issues. Think of multi-car accidents this way: It’s easy to split a pizza when there are only two people dining, but when you add a third person, splitting the pie equitably can be tricky — especially when the pie only has eight slices!
The Most Common Type of Multi-Car Accident
The most common example of a multiple-car accident is the three-car rear-end collision. This is when a car hits another car from behind and pushes the rear-ended car forward, into the car in front of it.
To illustrate, let’s imagine this example with color-coded cars. A red car causes the whole accident by running into a green car from behind. The impact then smashes the green car into the back bumper of the blue car. Is the red car responsible to the green and blue cars for any damages caused? Yes.
Let’s try a slightly different example: What if the driver of the blue car says she felt two impacts? In other words, what if the driver of the blue car says she was hit by the green car and then hit again when the red car hit the green car and pushed the green car into the blue car? This scenario is quite a bit more complicated. Is the red car responsible to both the green and blue cars — or just one of them? Is the green car responsible to the blue car as well? How does that work?
This simple example illustrates how quickly multiple-car accidents can become challenging to navigate. Multi-car accident cases are very different from your traditional two-car accident claims. For this reason, it’s important to work with an attorney who has experience with multiple-car accidents.
Multiple-Car Accident Insurance Issues Faced by Drivers
What are the most typical multiple car accident insurance issues faced by drivers?
By their very nature, multiple-car accidents involve multiple insurance companies, multiple insurance policies, and multiple attorneys. Finger pointing is often the result.
What’s more, when one of the vehicles involved doesn’t have insurance, or what if there isn’t enough coverage to fully compensate everybody involved, the tension between parties may only increase.
As you pursue your multi-car accident case, be wary of getting fooled by your own insurance company. Claims adjusters may speak with you informally and try to make you comfortable as they collect information about your case. They might give you the impression that they are going to take care of you. But the contrary is often true: Your insurance company will only look out for itself, by paying out as little in damages as possible.
Hiring an Attorney with Multiple-Car Accident Experience
How important is it for a personal injury lawyer to have experience handling multi-car accident cases, compared with typical two-car accidents?
An experienced attorney will investigate your multiple-car accident to collect evidence that will help determine who is at fault. Evidence can come from police reports, body camera footage, witness statements, surveillance videos, and even experts like an accident reconstructionist.
A personal injury lawyer who has experience in multiple-car accidents will make sure you are covered throughout your case.
An attorney will establish a roadmap of what you can expect as your case is processed, protect your legal rights, ensure that you get appropriate medical treatment, construct a case value, manage all the paperwork that needs to be executed related to your case, and — if necessary — file a lawsuit and go to trial.
Remember, the earlier you involve an experienced car accident attorney with your case, the better. This is because evidence is perishable and insurance policies can be exhausted.
If you wait too long to get a lawyer involved, you could miss out on your slice of the pie!
Call Negretti & Associates with Your Multi-Car Accident Questions
If you’ve been involved in a multi-car accident in Arizona, California, or Colorado, Negretti & Associates will be happy to explore your legal options with you.
If you have been in an accident and you’re wondering Should I get an attorney after a car accident?, here’s a quick and honest answer: not everyone needs an attorney after a car accident.
Even though I am a car accident lawyer, I firmly believe this. Just as you don’t need a real estate agent to sell a house or a certified public accountant to file your taxes, you don’t need to have an attorney to help you manage your car accident case.
Yet, the very reason we hire professionals — real estate agents, CPAs, and lawyers — is because they have skill sets that the rest of us simply don’t have. Professionals add value to our situations. The guidance insight of a professional can give you peace of mind that everything has been done the right way.
As a lawyer, I have bought and sold numerous houses. In each transaction, I have always had a real estate agent assisting me. I could certainly handle my own real estate transactions. However, I would rather have someone that does real estate every day by my side. I am capable of doing my own taxes, too, but I hire a CPA to help me to ensure everything is filed correctly.
The same goes for hiring an attorney to help you with your car accident claim. You simply have to decide if a legal professional’s help and peace of mind is worth the fees you may pay after your case settles or if it succeeds in court.
Why would you need a car accident lawyer? To answer this question, let me explain more about what a car accident lawyer does. This will help you make an educated decision about hiring a car accident lawyer to help you.
What a Car Accident Attorney Can Do To Help Your Case
Establish a roadmap of what to expect: This ensures that you always know where your claim is headed and that no surprises pop up along the way.
Protect your legal rights: Insurance companies and their attorneys are really proficient at getting you to say and do things that oppose your legal rights.
Help you get treatment: If you are struggling to find doctors or get the medical treatment that you need to recover from your injuries, a good car accident attorney can put you in touch with medical providers who can help you.
Construct a case value: Your compensation from a car accident is the sum of your economic damages (i.e. medical bills) and your non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering). You should expect your car accident lawyer to assist you in determining what your case is worth and how to properly present your claim to the opposing party.
Draft and review all the paperwork that needs to be executed related to your case: When filing a car accident claim, there is more paperwork than you realize. Some of the language in these documents can be hard to understand. Your car accident attorney should review and explain everything before you sign it.
File a lawsuit: Not all cases settle. If you find yourself filing a lawsuit, you would absolutely want to have a car accident lawyer representing you.
Go to trial: Some cases end up in trial. This is a complicated and stressful situation to be in. An experienced attorney can help you pick a jury, present your case, and argue for fair and just compensation for your damages.
What a Car Accident Attorney Does Not Do
Settle quickly: A car accident attorney should not settle your case too quickly. You only get one bite at the apple, so to speak. If you bite too soon, you could be left with lasting reminders of how poorly your case was handled.
Provide jackpot justice: There is a misconception that car accident attorneys support the idea that because you have been hurt you should be entitled to millions of dollars. When you’re in an accident, you haven’t won the lottery. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: you’ve been hurt and now have to deal with the aftermath of a life-altering event. The law allows for you to be compensated — to “make you whole” or, in more simple terms, give you the right amount of money to balance the imbalance that has occurred in your life. That’s it. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.
Send you to “their” doctors: Although your car accident lawyer may work with many different medical professionals, your lawyer won’t have any of these doctors on retainer. There is no back room deal between the doctor and the attorney. Your attorney should provide you with medical recommendations. From there, you and your treatment providers work together to resolve your injuries.
File frivolous lawsuits: The insurance industry loves to promote the idea that your lawsuit is frivolous and should be dismissed immediately. This is a bunch of rubbish! Car accident lawyers don’t file frivolous lawsuits. They file lawsuits because insurance companies treat your claim like it is frivolous. This is an important distinction.
Guarantee anything: No car accident lawyer should be guaranteeing a certain outcome. The world of car accident law is difficult, confusing, complicated, consuming, and overly intense. There are many moving parts and there are certainly no guarantees.
“Should I Get an Attorney After a Car Accident?”: Answers to Questions We’re Frequently Asked
Here are some “no B.S.” responses to many questions that our attorneys at Negretti & Associates get asked about hiring car accident lawyers.
Why would I need a car accident lawyer?
You don’t need a car accident lawyer to handle your case. But, more often than not, I would recommend that you have one. For reasons outlined above, you are making a choice to have someone help you.
Should I get an attorney after a car accident even if the accident wasn’t my fault?
First, if the accident was your fault, your insurance company will eventually appoint a defense attorney to represent you.
You do not need to hire a car accident lawyer if you are at fault. If you are not at fault, then see my previous answer.
How soon after my accident should I hire an attorney?
Fairly quickly. This is because evidence can perish over time. If certain evidence isn’t preserved right after a car accident, then you may be at a disadvantage later on down the road.
Is it ever too late to hire a car accident lawyer?
It’s probably never too late, but you may have a hard time finding a good car accident lawyer the longer you wait. This is because some car accident lawyers prefer to be involved early on. Free piece of advice: If your deadline to file (statute of limitations) is rapidly approaching, seek out a car accident attorney immediately. Most attorneys won’t take on a case if your deadline is just a few weeks away.
Do I need a lawyer to seek a car accident settlement?
No. Just like you don’t need a Realtor to buy a house. You have to decide if the value add is worth hiring a car accident attorney to help you.
What happens after I hire a car accident attorney?
Car accident lawyers do and do not do certain things. From a practical standpoint, typically the first thing a car accident lawyer does after you hire them is contact the insurance company and instruct them to stop contacting you. This allows you to receive treatment and get better without having the worry and concern of fielding phone calls from insurance adjusters. A good lawyer will ensure that you’re able to have the mental distance from your case, so that you can concentrate on healing.
Find a Car Accident Attorney in Arizona, California, or Colorado with Negretti & Associates
If you are considering hiring a car accident lawyer in Arizona, California, or Colorado, Negretti & Associates would be happy to see if we can help with your case.
https://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/should-i-get-an-attorney-after-a-car-accident.jpg6241000Jonathan Negrettihttp://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/negretti_logo_o-1.webpJonathan Negretti2021-08-31 12:00:502021-10-21 04:38:17Should I Get an Attorney After a Car Accident?
Personal injuries can come on all shapes and sizes. While car accidents get the most attention, the second most common type of personal injury claim is the slip and fall accident. Also referred to as “trip and fall” accidents, slips and falls fall under the umbrella of premise liability claims.
Considering how common slips and falls are, it’s surprising how poorly they’re understood. For this reason, Negretti & Associates would like to answer the most common slip and fall accident questions. We hope that people might gain a better understanding of what they are, what to do if you think that you have been injured in a slip and fall, and how a law firm can help pursue such an accident case. If you have additional questions, we’d be happy to hear from you.
What Are Slip and Fall Accidents?
Slip and fall accidents occur when a person slips and falls on someone else’s property and gets injured. While this might seem like an obvious way to define an accident, the second and third elements of this definition are vitally important.
A slip and fall accident must happen on someone else’s property. In a very rare situation, a slip and fall accident could occur on your own property. But this is the exception, not the rule.
Additionally, there needs to be an injury. This, too, might sound obvious, but our law firm has received many calls from people who have slipped and fallen, but didn’t actually get hurt. We typically tell them that they are among the fortunate ones and send them on their way. Put simply, if there’s no injury, there is no slip and fall accident claim.
What Should You Do If You Are Involved in a Slip and Fall Accident?
What should you be thinking about if you are involved in a slip and fall accident? This is perhaps the most common of all slip and fall accident questions.
First, get the medical attention you need. A medical doctor can evaluate your injuries, so that you can begin your healing process. What’s more, a doctor will create a medical record that documents the severity of your injuries — evidence that can be used in your case.
Second, turn yourself into a private investigator. Think about what you would want to see if you were on a jury for a slip and fall accident case.
You would probably want to see photos or videos of the condition of the area where you fell.
You would want to know what substance or object caused the slip and fall.
You would want to know whether other customers had slipped and fallen in this same area of the business — or on the same substance or object that caused your slip and fall.
You would want to talk to any witnesses that may have seen the slip and fall accident and get their statements.
You would want to know if the business had any policies or procedures in place to avoid slips and falls on their property. This investigation could be done by you, a family or friend, or even with the assistance of your attorney.
Third, don’t “do nothing.” So-called “he-said-she-said” claims never turn out in your favor and won’t go very far. If you are involved in a slip and fall accident and don’t have any evidence — as outlined above — you are going to have a tough time proving that the business did something wrong.
What Are Some “Real-World” Examples of Slip and Fall Accidents?
Slip and fall accidents are rather unique. No one fall is like another. Negretti & Associates has handled a wide variety of slip and fall accident cases, each with their own unique slip and fall accident questions.
To illustrate some of the uniqueness inherent in slip and fall accidents, here are some examples of real claims that our firm has handled.
Customer slips and falls in front of a drink machine at a fast-casual restaurant. This client hired us to assist them in pursuing a claim that occurred at a local restaurant. The client went to the soda machine to refill their drink. As they approached, they slipped on a piece of ice and broke their hand. The restaurant did not have a slip mat in front of the soda machine and had been told by other customers that there was ice on the floor.
Customer slips and falls at an amusement park. This client was at an amusement park with their family. The client attended one of the entertainment shows that the park schedules throughout the day. The weather turned and it began to rain. As the client made their way out of the arena, the client slipped and fell on some steps. There was no handrail or slip-resistant surface to make the walkway safe.
Customer slips and falls at a grocery store. This client was headed to the checkout when they slipped and fell on a substance on the ground. This client learned that the substance was a spill — and that the store knew about the spill. In fact, the store employees were on their way to get a mop when the slip and fall accident occurred. The store had a policy in place that required one employee to stay as the spill site while another employee went to get a mop, to ensure that no customers fell. The policy was not followed properly.
Customer slips and falls on a boat ramp. This client was at a lake. When the client docked their boat, they made their way off of the boat ramp to go retrieve their vehicle. The client slipped and fell on a wet surface on the ramp. The client understood that people were using the boat ramp after coming off of the lake and that the surface of the ramp might be wet. However, the boat ramp was made of metal and was extremely slippery without any slip-resistant traction. Furthermore, the ambulance that responded to the scene said that this was the fifth time they had responded to that same boat ramp and they had informed the business to take safety precautions to avoid future incidents. The business did not do anything to prevent future slip and fall accidents.
How Are Slip and Fall Cases Resolved?
Most slip and fall accidents end up in litigation. They typically go to court. This is not to say that cases can’t be settled prior to filing a lawsuit. However, in our experience, the injured party might be taking a significant discount if they settled early. There are rare cases when the business owner or insurance company does the right thing and offers a reasonable settlement ahead of trial. But these instances are few and far between.
Keep in mind that liability — or what we all call “fault” — is never guaranteed in a slip and fall accident. For this reason, pursuing these cases can be quite tricky.
Just because you have slipped and fallen doesn’t mean you automatically have a claim or that the business where this occurred is automatically at fault for what happened.
As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof. You have to prove that the business did something wrong. It’s not enough to simply say that you fell, and the accident should not have happened. The law requires you to prove that the business violated a standard of care or did something that caused your fall.
Fault means that someone else is responsible for your slip and fall accident. You could be partially at fault and still recover for your injuries. In other words, you could have paid better attention when you were walking to avoid the slip and fall accident. Still, you could be entitled to compensation.
In Arizona and California, you can be up to 99% at fault and still recover for the 1% that you weren’t at fault. Your compensation would be reduced by your percentage of fault.
In Colorado, if you are more that 50% at fault for your slip and fall accident, you cannot recover anything.
This is an important distinction in the law that should be considered. The most common defense in slip and fall accidents is something called “personal responsibility.” The defense — collectively, the business owner, insurance company, and defense attorney — will argue that you should have watched where you are going. Had you done that, the slip and fall accident would not have occurred. While this may not necessarily be true, the business will make this argument to buy down some of their responsibility in slip and fall accident claims.
How Do Slip and Fall Accidents Differ in Various States?
At Negretti & Associates, we practice in Arizona, California, and Colorado. While laws aren’t necessarily different in these three states, the types of claims that we see certainly are. For example:
In Denver, Colorado, where it often snows, businesses are held to a certain standard to clear sidewalks from snow and ice to allow for safe passage into one’s business.
In California, where businesses share boundaries with beaches, store owners are held to a certain standard to clear entrances and aisle ways of sand that may be tracked inside.
In Arizona, where resorts are plentiful, pool surfaces need to be designed with traction to avoid creating a slippery surface for pool goers.
Slip and fall accidents represent a very common type of personal injury. Slip and fall accidents are very difficult to pursue. Slip and fall accidents require a very thorough investigation to prove that the business did something wrong.
If you find yourself involved in a slip and fall accident in Arizona, California, or Colorado, Negretti & Associates would be happy to discuss your slip and fall accident questions and see if we can help with your case.
https://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/slip-and-fall-accident-questions-answered.jpg5011000Jonathan Negrettihttp://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/negretti_logo_o-1.webpJonathan Negretti2021-08-11 12:00:302021-10-21 04:42:12Slip and Fall Accident Questions Answered
The driverless vehicle is no longer science fiction. Fully autonomous vehicles are currently being tested on public roadways.
Yet, one large concern is acting as a roadblock to autonomous vehicles’ progress: liability. Who is at fault in a self-driving car accident? This is a complicated question.
When determining fault in a self-driving car accident, we cannot simply point the finger at one driver or another, as we would in a traditional car accident. Instead, we might point the finger at a technology — a product, rather than a person. This changes the legal standard entirely.
Self-driving car accidents are ultimately product liability claims, which are very different from negligence claims. Manufacturers of autonomous vehicles are likely to be named as defendants in instances where vehicles, not humans, are likely the causes of crashes.
Recent incidents are shaping the issues of fault related to self-driving vehicles. In March 2018, an Uber vehicle operated in autonomous mode killed a pedestrian. In December in 2017 a motorcyclist crashed into a Chevrolet Bolt being driven in self-driving mode.
Both of these cases have raised questions about fault for autonomous vehicle crashes. They also raise issues regarding safety standards.
Not surprisingly, self-driving car manufacturers are seeking government regulation and are urging lawmakers to create policies that grant them immunity in accidents and shield them from fault.
What Causes Self-Driving Cars to Crash?
More often than not, the root cause of a self-driving car crash is not autonomous technology. Rather, human error is the cause. This is not to say that the autonomous technology is fail-proof. It is not. The technology can fail and often has trouble with complex decision-making that, arguably, only the human mind is capable of.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, more than 36,000 people were killed as a result of a motor vehicle crashes. It is fair to say that a good portion of these fatalities were the result of some form of human error. However, it is also fair to say that product failure led to a significant portion of these deaths — airbags failed to deploy, brakes did not engage, and fuel tanks were designed poorly.
In order to better understand how self-driving cars work, it is important to explore the different levels of autonomous technology, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). This is an organization that provides the who, what, and when surrounding ever-evolving self-driving technology.
Level 2: Partial Automation. Example: vehicle can control speed and steering.
Level 3: Conditional Automation. Example: vehicle can drive itself under certain conditions.
Level 4: High Automation. Example: vehicle can complete entire journey start to finish.
Level 5: Full Automation. Example: driverless cars.
When autonomous technology fails, the product itself fails. Since we are only operating in Level 3 or conditional automation at this point, there is still very much a human component involved in how self-driving cars currently operate.
In a utopian society, the only way that a self-driving vehicle actually works is if all other vehicles are also self-driving. This is tough sell to the masses and may never actually become a reality.
Even if all vehicles became self-driving or fully autonomous, we would still run the real risk of infrastructure failure due to data breaches or sophisticated computer hacking efforts that could take control of roadways.
For now, fault is still in the eye of the beholder. In other words, juries have the opportunity to weigh these competing interests and the facts of loss to determine who was at fault for a crash involving a self-driving vehicle.
How Is a Self-Driving Vehicle Crash Different from a Normal Crash?
In most car crashes, fault is relatively clear-cut. Evidence usually tips the scales of justice one way of the other.
In a self-driving vehicle crash, vehicle data may need to be inspected carefully, to determine whether the vehicle, itself, violated the rules of the road or failed to respond as a reasonable person would have.
As is customary with a product defect claim, an analysis of the self-driving vehicle’s performance and prior testing may factor into a determination of fault.
Data experts — not crash experts — might have to be employed to crunch numbers and run modeling scenarios to find where a failure occurred. There may even need to be a balancing test between the subjectivity of safety overall and uniqueness of the crash itself.
Questions About Who Is at Fault in a Self-Driving Car Accident? Call Negretti & Associates
Self-driving vehicles crashes are complicated and uncertain. Remember, self-driving vehicle fault extends far beyond scenarios where human drivers and their passengers are hit by self-driving vehicles. In a situation where you were to engage the autonomous technology in your own vehicle and your vehicle causes a crash, you might have a claim against the maker of your vehicle’s automation technology.
https://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/who-is-at-fault-in-a-self-driving-car-accident.jpg5001000Jonathan Negrettihttp://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/negretti_logo_o-1.webpJonathan Negretti2021-07-28 12:00:242021-07-20 22:46:09Who Is at Fault in a Self-Driving Car Accident?
Dog bite claims are some of the most painful personal injury claims that we handle at Negretti & Associates. Our clients not only suffer physical injuries, but they also endure psychological trauma. There is a real mental component to being bitten by a dog. A bite will rattle most people and make them hesitant around dogs for the rest of their lives.
As we work with clients, we’re often asked questions about dog bite injury compensation amounts. With hopes that we can offer some insight into dog bite compensation and help you be better informed going forward, we have compiled answers to this list of commonly asked questions.
That said, if you have been involved in a dog bite and you don’t find the answer to your question, don’t hesitate to reach out to us to have a one-on-one conversation about your dog bite. You can contact us online, call us at 1-833-827-3535, or send us a text. We can ensure that you are taking all the necessary steps toward getting the compensation you deserve.
What Is the Average Compensation for a Dog Bite?
Let’s debunk a myth about dog bite injury compensation amounts.
There is no “average compensation” for a dog bite claim. There is no such thing as a settlement calculator for a dog bite claim.
Saying that there is an average dog bite is like saying every dog bite is the same. It not only minimizes the bite itself, but it also puts compensation in a box. This is factually flawed logic — a way of thinking that the insurance industry would love for you to subscribe to.
You see, if you believe there is an “average,” then insurance can convince you to resolve your case for an average, which may equate to pennies on the dollar.
Remember, your dog bite is not like any other. The bite you suffered is unique. It is personal. Your compensation should be, as well.
If an attorney gives you an average, consider them average and find another one!
How Much Do Insurance Companies Pay for Dog Bites?
Rather than ask the question How much do insurance companies pay for dog bites? recast the question as How much should I be compensated in order to resolve my claim? By flipping the script, you’re putting yourself in a much stronger position.
After all, you were the one who has been bitten. You are the one who decides whether the insurance company is offering you proper compensation.
The obvious question that follows is What is proper compensation? This is where a good, experienced attorney can be an incredible resource. A good attorney will summon his or her professional experience and past successes to arrive at an idea of proper compensation.
Understanding and advising on proper dog bite injury compensation amounts is exactly what the attorneys at Negretti & Associates excel in. We have handled a lot of different types of dog bite claims. When you hire Negretti & Associates, you automatically have a competitive advantage over an insurance company. We don’t advise clients to settle a claim if we wouldn’t take the settlement ourselves.
How Likely Is It for a Dog Bite Case to Go to Trial?
Dog bite cases, and frankly all personal injury cases, are unpredictable. When you initiate a claim, there is always a possibility of trial. It would be disingenuous to tell you that there is no way your case is going to trial.
How likely is it for a dog bite case to go to trial? The likelihood is greater than zero percent. But it’s a slight number — less than 5 percent.
The important thing to remember is that, as a client of a law firm, you are in control. You have the final say in how far your case goes.
As your dog bite case develops, up until you file a lawsuit, you are in the proverbial “driver’s seat.” However, once you file a lawsuit, you lose what we call total control and you become only partially in control. That’s because you have now engaged in a legal proceeding with another party. The court oversees that proceeding and has a say in what happens with your case.
How Long Will a Dog Bite Trial Last?
If your case were to end up in trial, the complexity of your case would be one factor in determining how long your trial would last. The more complex your case is, the longer the trial might be.
However, the court has the final say on the length of your trial and will shepherd things along to ensure that both parties get equal time to present their respective cases.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Dog Bite Claim?
As discussed above, you should settle your claim when the insurance company offers you proper compensation for your dog bite. Until that time, you should not settle your claim.
In order to achieve proper a dog bite injury compensation amount, you need to offer the insurance company documented evidence of your dog bite. You have to offer the insurance company a comprehensive package of information to convince them to resolve your claim for proper compensation.
A comprehensive package is not limited solely to medical bills. It is also not just limited to photographs of your injuries.
Just as you wouldn’t make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the bread, don’t settle your claim without fully understanding what ingredients you need to send the insurance company.
A trusted advisory board like the attorneys at Negretti & Associates can help you put together that package of information to ensure that when you decide to settle your dog bite claim, you are doing so for proper compensation.
Contact Negretti & Associates with Your Dog Bite Questions
If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to get medical treatment right away. After that, you’ll need to begin collecting evidence as quickly as possible.
Piecing together all of the circumstances of a car accident can be an extremely complicated task. After all, no two car accidents are the same.
Yet, determining fault in an accident — and proving fault to a jury — can be a much more daunting prospect. Fault is not always a clear-cut, all-or-nothing calculation.
For this reason, some states have laws that permit fault to be shared among two or more parties in an accident. Damages are awarded based on each party’s share of the fault.
This sharing of fault in an accident is what is called comparative fault, or comparative negligence.
Arizona, California, and 10 other states are what we call “pure comparative fault states.” In these states, anyone found partially at fault in an accident is responsible for paying his or her relative percentage of damages.
A Simple Comparative Fault Example
Let’s explore a comparative fault example through the following hypothetical accident, as described from two completely different points of view:
Testimony of Driver A: “I was driving down the road approaching an intersection. At that intersection, I intended to make a left-hand turn. I crept into the intersection waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. Eventually, the light turned yellow. I started to make a left turn and then, out of nowhere, an oncoming vehicle crashed into my passenger-side door. I did everything right. I was following the rules of the road.”
Testimony of Driver B: “I was driving down the road approaching an intersection. I was traveling straight ahead. I saw a vehicle in the left-turn lane waiting to make its turn. I clearly had the right of way. The light turned yellow, but I was almost at the intersection. I could not stop without slamming on my brakes and potentially causing an accident behind me. So, I proceeded through the intersection with caution. However, the vehicle waiting to make a left turn darted in front of me. I could not stop before hitting it in the passenger-side door. I did everything right. I was following the rules of the road.”
As you read these two accounts, who do you think is at fault?
Now, imagine you are on a jury and you are being asked to decide which driver was at fault. Fortunately for you, as a juror, you are in luck! The law has given you a tool called comparative fault, allowing you to apportion fault to drivers of both vehicles. You can say that both drivers are partially responsible for the accident. In this comparative fault example, you might choose to assign a 50% fault to each party.
Absent an agreement by the parties, by and through their insurance companies, partial fault is something decided by the trier of fact — in other words, a jury. Only a jury can arrive at a binding determination of fault.
To put this differently, the police do not have the authority to decide partial fault. One insurance company does not have the mandate to determine partial fault. An attorney does not have the grounds to assign a partial fault percentage.
How Does Comparative Fault Apply to Jury Awards?
Remember, anyone found partially at fault in a comparative fault state is responsible for paying its relative share of damages. If Driver A were found to be 50% at fault for the accident, and the jury awarded Driver A $100,000 in damages, Driver A’s award would be reduced by 50%. Driver A would only receive $50,000 of the $100,000 total award. The other half would be apportioned to Driver B.
https://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/comparative-fault-example.png5051381Jonathan Negrettihttp://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/negretti_logo_o-1.webpJonathan Negretti2021-06-30 12:00:062021-06-22 05:46:48Comparative Fault Example: How a Jury Might Determine Fault in an Accident
Above: The corner of Lincoln Blvd. and Marco Court in Venice, California, where an elderly man was recently killed by an intoxicated scooter rider. The red circle indicates how electric scooters are staged at this corner — just beyond the parking lot of Superba Food + Bread, a popular bakery and restaurant that serves wine, beer, and cocktails.
Can you get a DUI on a scooter?
The short answer is yes. Just as you can be charged with criminal misconduct for riding a bike while intoxicated, you can be charged for riding an electric scooter while intoxicated.
However, there’s a longer answer that’s a bit more complicated.
Let’s put it this way: You can get far more than a DUI on a scooter. You can literally kill someone while riding a scooter while intoxicated.
When you rent a scooter, the terms and conditions hidden found in the rental contract state that 1) you are to not operate the scooter while drunk and 2) you’re to ride the scooter alone, with no passengers. It’s a matter of common sense, but carrying a passenger can make an electric scooter far more difficult to steer and stop.
Unfortunately, drinking and common sense do not overlap.
Scooter Companies Share Blame for Scooter DUIs
As an attorney, having studied so many tragic scooter accidents such as these, I have come to strongly believe that the blame for scooter DUI’s extends beyond intoxicated scooter riders. Just as individuals need to be held responsible for riding scooters when drunk, scooter companies should be viewed as enablers of a greater danger to the public.
Why are electric scooters placed outside of bars and restaurants, available to be ridden late at night when intoxication is more likely?
This is an honest question that the electric scooter industry doesn’t want to talk about.
Granted, all of companies that “stage” electric scooters along city sidewalks have disclaimers in their user agreements that strictly forbid riders from using their equipment while intoxicated.
However, the actions of these companies seem to contradict their messaging.
Are these companies really trying to be informative, or are they simply seeking to escape legal liability?
I believe the answer is definitely the latter. If electric scooter companies were truly interested in safety, then they would put safeguards in place to prevent riders from activating scooters while intoxicated. At the very least, they could take preventative measures by not making scooters available for rent outside of bars, clubs, and restaurants.
At a certain point, the general welfare of our fellow humans should outweigh the profit centers that these scooters have turned into for the companies that produce them.
https://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/dui-on-a-scooter.jpg13001950Jonathan Negrettihttp://negrettilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/negretti_logo_o-1.webpJonathan Negretti2021-06-22 05:00:272021-10-21 15:09:25Can You Get a DUI on a Scooter?