Two teens injured in a vehicle accident with a truck along a southern California highway received a renewed opportunity to recover for the injuries they suffered when the California Court of Appeal decided that the trial court wrongfully placed the fault for the accident on the teen driver’s inattentiveness. The appeals court ruled that, since the trucker violated the Vehicle Code, that infraction raised the conclusion that the trucker was negligent per se and his negligence led to the crash.
The facts at the teens’ trial against the trucker showed that the trucker, David Hernandez, was driving his truck and flatbed trailer northbound along the Pacific Coast Highway when he pulled off for a rest break. Hernandez chose not to park along the right side of the northbound lane because it was too narrow a space and because the area was marked with “No Parking” signs. Instead, the trucker pulled into a parking area alongside the southbound lane. Hernandez positioned his truck so that it faced north toward oncoming southbound traffic.
To reenter the highway, Hernandez had to cross both the southbound and northbound lanes. While executing his reentry, a southbound vehicle driven by 18-year-old Joshua David struck Hernandez’s trailer. The accident injured both David and his 18-year-old passenger, Natalie Pierson.
The jury hearing the case concluded that Hernandez was negligent but that his negligence did not cause David’s and Pierson’s injuries. The teens then asked the court for a new trial, but the court denied that motion.
On appeal, the teens made several arguments, but one in particular proved persuasive. While denying the request for a new trial, the trial court had specifically found that Hernandez was parked illegally. Section 22502 of the Vehicle Code prohibits parking in a direction opposite how traffic moves, which Hernandez had violated when he parked for his rest break. This mattered a great deal because of the legal concept of negligence per se. This concept says that an act that violates a statute is necessarily negligent.
The trial court also determined that Hernandez’s truck would not have been in the southbound lane of the highway had he not parked illegally. Putting these together, those findings indicated that Hernandez had acted negligently by parking his truck illegally, and that this negligent act placed his vehicle in “a position in which it had no legal right to be,” meaning that the trucker’s negligent act was a substantial cause in the collision with David’s vehicle. It was improper, the appeals court concluded, to pin the cause of the accident solely on David’s inattentiveness when, regardless of his level of attention, the accident would never have occurred had Hernandez not parked illegally.
The rules of the road, including laws in the Vehicle Code, exist to protect everyone traveling along California’s roads. When a driver violates those statutes, that driver creates a risk of harm and raises the legal implication that he or she has acted negligently. If you’ve been injured in a car accident because someone else broke a law, you may be entitled to recover for your injuries. For help with your car crash case, consult the Oakland auto injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. Our injury attorneys can help you pursue the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact us through our website, or call our office at (925) 463-1073 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Auto Maker Agrees to $1.2B Settlement to End Federal Probe of Defective Vehicle Accelerators, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, March 28, 2014
Trucker’s Improper Interstate Stop Results in Fiery Crash, $150M Wrongful Death Judgment, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Oct. 30, 2013
Photo credit: Downtowngal at Wikimedia Commons.