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Collateral Effects of the Pandemic in California: Fewer Vehicle on the Road Has Meant More Speeding and More Fatalities

The lockdowns that all states, including California, instituted during the coronavirus pandemic affected all aspects of life. As workplaces and other businesses shut down, the volume of traffic on roads and freeways declined dramatically, which was predictable. What was perhaps less expected was the uptick in extreme speeding and in fatal crashes during the lockdown. Those two facts are not unconnected. Driving at very high rates of speed greatly increases the risk that a crash will occur and, when it does, the odds also go up that someone will die. Whether you were injured, or a loved one was killed, because someone was driving dangerously fast, that driver’s speeding may be a key in helping to get the substantial sum of damages that you deserve. An experienced Oakland car accident attorney can help you get that done.

According to ABC 10 in Sacramento, the California Highway Patrol witnessed the effects of the pandemic in the tickets they wrote. In the first month of the lockdown (March 19 – April 19,) they wrote more than 2,493 tickets to drivers traveling at speeds of 100+ mph. That was 87% increase over that same March 19 – April 19 period in 2019, when 1,335 drivers were ticketed for going 100+.

Law enforcement officers urged drivers to slow down, but to no avail. From April 19 – May 19, the problem actually got worse, with officers writing an additional 3,550 tickets for drivers going 100+. Across the two-month span of March 19- May 19, officers wrote 6,043 tickets for speeding at 100 mph or greater, ABC 10 reported. That represented a 124% uptick over those same two months in 2019, when officers wrote roughly 2,700 such tickets.

Fatal accidents have also been on the rise during the pandemic. The fact that drivers are going faster and that more people are dying in accidents is almost certainly interrelated. Speeding to any degree puts everyone on the road in danger, and that’s especially true if the speeder is traveling at speeds of 25, 30, 35 (or more) over the posted speed limit. Federal statistics show that speed was a factor in more than one-quarter of all fatal accidents nationwide.

How that speeding driver’s citation can bolster your liability case

If you’re hurt (or if you have a loved one who was killed) in an accident caused by another driver’s traveling at excessive speeds, you may be able to use that speeding citation to strengthen your case.

In terms of establishing liability, the law has a concept called “negligence per se.” Negligence per se can, for certain plaintiffs, makes establishing liability quicker and easier. This concept basically says that, if you have proof that the driver you sued violated a traffic law and that the violation played a substantial role in causing the crash, then that evidence can be enough to establish the defendant’s liability.

That driver’s extreme speed may also trigger an award of additional damages

Additionally, if the driver who hurt you was going at an extreme speed, proof of that may allow you to recover an additional type of award called “punitive damages.” Punitive damages are available when a defendant acts in a way that is particularly outrageous. California law requires you to prove that the driver engaged in conduct that was “despicable and was done with a willful and knowing disregard of the rights or safety of another.” Proving the conduct was despicable means demonstrating that the action was “so vile, base, or contemptible that it would be looked down on and despised by reasonable people.”

In your injury case brought on by a speeding driver, there is the potential to recover significant compensation. To do that, though, you’ll need the right legal arguments and the right evidence, whether that’s documentation, eyewitness testimony, expert testimony or something else. To make sure you’ll have all those things for success, call upon the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. Attorney Fuerch is an experienced Oakland car accident attorney who has more than 40 years of experience and who is ready to start working for you. To learn more, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-2575 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

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