There are proper rules for passing. Failing to abide by these rules might result in a significant accident. However, drivers do not always anticipate that another driver is immediately next to them or behind them. If you are involved in an improper passing accident, you may receive a phone call from another driver’s insurance adjuster. Although the adjuster may appear to be warm, the purpose of the call is usually to reduce the insured’s liability for the accident by shifting the blame to you. It is important to retain a lawyer before speaking to an insurance adjuster. The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC is an experienced Folsom car accident attorney who has previously worked in the insurance industry and law enforcement. He may be able to put his insights to work for you.
Determining Liability in Improper Passing Accidents
There are several code sections that address improper passing. Under California Vehicle Code section 21750, a driver who is trying to pass a car traveling in the same direction must pass to the left, keeping a safe space between them and not threatening the safety of the other driver. Under California Vehicle Code section 21751, you are not supposed to drive to the left side of the center of a road in order to pass a car going in the same direction unless you can see clearly on the left side, and there are no oncoming cars that are too close to pass. There are situations in which you are not allowed to drive to the left side of the road, such as if you are going within 100 feet of a railroad crossing or intersection.
There is very little protection for drivers and passengers who are struck from the side of the car, so if, for example, part of another car hits the side of the car, the person on the side feeling the impact might suffer very serious injuries. Sometimes the severity of the injuries does not become clear until later. If you were hurt as a result of someone else’s improper passing, you should call the police so that a report is created to memorialize what happened.
As time passes, memories fade and may change, and sometimes a contemporaneous report can give a more accurate account about what actually happened in the moment. In some cases, when there was a violation of the California Vehicle Code memorialized within a report, it is possible to assert negligence per se. Negligence per se requires that you show a violation of a safety law, causation, and proof that the injuries were of the type that the legislature was intending to avert.
In other cases, it may be necessary to prove ordinary negligence. This requires that your Folsom personal injury attorney show the other driver’s duty toward you and others on the road, a failure to live up to this duty, causation, and actual damages. When another driver fails to pass properly and hits your car, causing injuries, a jury is likely to find that there was negligence.
In some cases, two or more people’s negligence combines to create an accident. California follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. This means that the jury will consider all of the evidence and arguments and determine the fault of each party, in addition to determining damages. If your percentage of fault is 40%, the driver who improperly passed is 60% at fault, and the total damages are $80,000, you will be able to recover $48,000 from the other driver.
When another party’s negligence is established, your lawyer may be able to recover compensatory damages, including both noneconomic and economic losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, household services, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.