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Archive of posts published in the category: FindLaw
Apr
12

Defective Motor Vehicle Lawsuits – FindLaw

Motor vehicle defect cases include claims involving not only passenger automobiles, but also motorcycles, trucks, and vans. Unlike an ordinary personal injury claim for negligence after a motor vehicle accident, in order to establish a vehicle manufacturer or seller’s liability for a car defect, you do not need to show that they were careless.

Claims may be based on defects in:

  • The body and frame,
  • Brakes and braking system,
  • Cooling and temperature control system,
  • Electrical system,
  • Engine assembly,
  • Exhaust system,
  • Fuel system,
  • Lubrication system,
  • Passenger compartment,
  • Steering and suspension systems,
  • Transmission and drivetrain, and other parts and accessories.

Again, carelessness is not a requirement under the strict liability legal standard. Instead, liability in motor vehicle defect cases is controlled by the doctrine of strict liability. Regardless of what steps a manufacturer or dealer says it takes in designing, assembling, or handling a motor vehicle, you can make a strict liability claim based on a motor vehicle defect — without making any showing as to carelessness — if all three of the following conditions exist:

  • The vehicle or one of its components had an “unreasonably dangerous” defect that injured you. The defect can come into existence either in the design of the vehicle, during manufacture, during handling or shipment (i.e. delivery from the manufacturer), or through a failure to warn consumers of a dangerous aspect of the vehicle.
  • The defect caused an injury while the vehicle was being used in a way that it was intended to be used. For example, you may not be able to recover if a sports sedan were used to cross a stream.
  • The vehicle had not been substantially changed from the condition in which it was originally sold. “Substantially” means in a way that affects how the vehicle performs.

Defenses to Defective Motor Vehicle Lawsuits

The vehicle manufacturer and/or the seller may have a defense to your strict liability claims, particularly if you have owned the vehicle for some time, if it can be shown that you knew about the defect but continued to use the vehicle anyway. This is usually established either through the vehicle’s condition (which the manufacturer’s or seller’s insurance company will be able to examine if you bring a claim) or from your own description of your use of the vehicle. In some states, a manufacturer or seller may also be able to defend against your motor vehicle defect claim under the theory that your contributory or comparative negligence was the cause of, or a factor in, your injuries.

Punitive Damages

A recent trend in vehicle product liability cases is to increase awards of punitive damages for those who successfully bring a claim against a manufacturer or seller. These punitive damages awards are above and beyond damages to compensate a plaintiff for his or her injuries, and can range into the tens of millions of dollars in certain instances. Punitive damages are

Apr
4

Bicycle Laws – FindLaw

As with traffic laws in general, bicycle laws are enforced at the state and local levels. But while bicyclists generally are expected to follow the same traffic laws that apply to motorists, most jurisdictions also have laws that are specific to those operating bicycles on public thoroughfares. State laws and local ordinances also typically include bicycle helmet provisions, rules against riding a bike on the sidewalk, biking while under the influence and other bicycle-specific rules.

Some local bicycle ordinances have been criticized for making bikers (and pedestrians) less safe, such as requirements that bicyclists ride on the sidewalk or walk their bikes across intersections. Since bicycle laws can be different from one municipality to another, and not always intuitive, bicyclists should familiarize themselves with laws along regularly traveled routes. Read on to learn more about how bicycle laws work. 

Traffic violations incurred while riding a bicycle are handled just the same as for a moving violation involving an automobile. The ticket should indicate whether the violation involved a bicycle and will not affect your automobile insurance.

Common Bicycle Traffic Rules

Signaling

While some bicycles are equipped with turn signals, bicyclists are required to use the proper hand signals when turning, changing lanes or stopping. Failure to signal while biking in traffic can result in a traffic citation:

  • Right Turn / Lane Change: Right hand extended straight out
  • Left Turn / Lane Change: Right hand bent upward 90 degrees at the elbow
  • Stop: Right hand bent downward 90 degrees at the elbow

Helmet Laws

Most states and the District of Columbia require the use of bicycle helmets to some degree, often for children under the age of 16 or 18. And while there are no state laws requiring helmets for bicyclists all ages, many local ordinances do. Washington state, for example, has no state law addressing the use of helmets at all but many of its cities (including Seattle) require bicyclists of all ages to wear helmets.

Lights and Reflectors

In virtually every state, bicyclists are required to have red lights on the back and white lights on the front, as well as white reflectors on the front and red reflectors on the back. Details vary with respect to individual state and local laws.

Riding on Sidewalks

Most state and local ordinances prohibit bicyclists over a certain age (13 in San Francisco, for example) from biking on sidewalks, although bikers must always yield to pedestrians. However, some local ordinances allow bicycling on sidewalks and even prohibit bikes on certain streets.

Running a Stop Sign or Stoplight

As with motorists, bicyclists may not ride through a stop sign or stoplight without stopping completely first. Bikes move slowly (compared to automobiles) and so it may not seem practical to come to a complete stop–especially if stopping uphill–but failing to do so could result in a citation.

State Bicycle Laws

The California Vehicle Code Section

Apr
1

Car Accidents – FindLaw

Car accidents can be terrifying experiences. Often, at least some of the people involved are injured, sometimes severely, and the automobiles that crashed are damaged. The legal system can help the parties sort out who is at fault for the accident, and which party needs to pay the doctors’ and mechanics’ bills.

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