Automobile Accidents-2


Q. I was in a car accident during my pregnancy and my baby was born with a
deformity as a result of injuries from the accident. Does my child have any legal

A. Many states today will permit an action by a child for the consequences of such
prenatal (before birth) injuries. (In states with no-fault automobile insurance, your right to
sue often is limited.) Most courts also will allow a wrongful death action if the baby dies
from the injuries after birth.


Q. Someone recently stole my car and then wrecked it, injuring passengers in
another vehicle. Now one of those passengers is trying to sue me. Can they win? Am I

A. Probably not, since the thief did not have your permission to use the car,
although a lot would depend on the law in your state. Suppose you left your car unlocked
with the keys in it, making it easy for the thief to steal. This could be negligence. Even
then, most courts generally will not hold you liable if the thief later injures someone by
negligent driving. That is because courts hold that you could not foresee that your actions
ultimately would result in such injuries. In a few cases, though, courts have looked at
whether your actions caused an unreasonable risk of harm to someone else. If you left
your car parked with the engine running, for example, you might be liable if the car thief
then injures children playing nearby. In a no-fault state, on the other hand, it might be
difficult–if not impossible–for the passenger to sue you.



Q. I was hit by a car driven by a drunk driver who was going home after a
night out. What can I do, in addition to suing the drunk driver?

A. If you live in a state that has a Dram Shop Act, you may be able to recover from
the tavern owner where the drunk driver was served the liquor. Such acts usually come
into play when intoxicated people served by the bar later injure somebody while driving.
Some of those laws also make tavern owners liable when drunk customers injure others on
or off the premises. But some courts say a tavern owner will not be liable unless the sale
of the liquor itself was illegal.


Q. My wife was injured when her car was hit by one being driven by some
kids who had been drinking at the home of our neighbor. May I take any action
against the neighbor, who supplied the liquor to the youths?

A. Possibly. Courts have imposed liability against such neighbors or parents when
they have served liquor to minors. Parents can be liable for negligent supervision of their
children. But as a general rule, courts have said that social hosts are not responsible for the
conduct of their guests, unless the hosts routinely allow guests to drink too much–or take
illegal drugs-and then put them into their cars and send them out on the highway.


Q. I was injured when my automobile collided with a truck driven by a
delivery person. Can I recover damages from the driver or the employer?

A. You may be able to recover from both. Under a form of strict liability, known
as vicarious liability, you probably can recover from the deliveryperson employer. Under
the law, employers may be held liable to third persons for acts committed by employees within the scope of their job. Although the employer was not negligent, it becomes
indirectly liable for the negligence of its employee. Was the employee making a delivery
when the accident occurred? If so, the employer is liable, since deliveries clearly is part of
the driver’s job. But if the employee first stopped at a restaurant for drinks and dinner with
friends, the employer may be able to escape liability.


Q. A car ran over my dog. Can I recover from the driver?

A. Yes, you might win a lawsuit. A dog is property, and you have suffered
property damage. You will have to show that the driver was negligent.


Settlement Offered in Airport Death

Phoenix has offered a $250,000 settlement to the family of a New York City woman who accidentally strangled herself while in police custody two years ago at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
In a statement Monday, the Phoenix Police Department maintained its officers acted properly and acknowledged that the offer is just a fraction of the original $8 million negligence claim sought by Carol Ann Gotbaum’s three young children.

Continue reading “Settlement Offered in Airport Death”

Bong Water Is an Illegal Drug

Bong water can count as a controlled substance, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a decision that raises the threat of longer sentences for drug smokers who fail to dump the water out of their pipes.

In a 4-3 decision Thursday, the state”s highest court said a person can be prosecuted for a first-degree drug crime for 25 grams or more of bong water that tests positive for a controlled substance.

Continue reading “Bong Water Is an Illegal Drug”

Automobile Accidents



 Q. I was in a car accident, but I think I can prove it was not completely my
fault. Will this make a difference with regard to what damages ultimately are

A. In the past the rule was that if you could prove the other driver contributed in
any way to the accident, he or she could be totally barred from recovering anything from
you. But now most states have rejected such harsh results and instead look at the
comparative fault of the drivers. If a jury finds that you were negligent and that your
negligence, proportionally, contributed 25 percent to cause the injury and that the
defendant was 75 percent at fault, the defendant would only be responsible for 75 percent
of your damages, or $75,000 if your damages totaled $100,000. In some states, a plaintiff may recover even if he or she were more negligent than the defendant, that is, negligent in
the amount of 51 percent or more. (See the “Automobiles” chapter for more
on standards of negligence for car accidents.)


Q. A neighbor who rides with me to work was injured when I got into a car
accident. Do I have to pay her medical bills?

A. In many states today, no-fault automobile insurance would protect you–and
often passengers in your car–by compensating those injured up to a specified level,
regardless of who was at fault in the accident. About half of the states currently have nofault
insurance. Though there is a strong trend away from them, some states still have
automobile “guest statutes” that make drivers liable for injuries to nonpaying-or guest–
passengers only if the drivers were “grossly negligent” by failing to use even slight care in
their driving. In a guest statute state, if your neighbor can prove she was not a guest
passenger–that both of you agreed to share expenses–then she possibly could recover
from you under ordinary negligence principles. Cases have also held a driver liable for the
negligent operation of a car and for harm caused by known defects, but not for injuries
caused by defects in the vehicle about which the driver had no knowledge.


Q. I received an injury when the bus I ride to work was involved in an
accident. Is the bus company at fault?

A. It’s likely. “Common carriers”–bus lines, airlines and railroads–transport
people for a fee, owe their passengers “the highest degree of care” and are held to have a
special responsibility to their passengers. Common carriers must exercise extra caution in
protecting their riders and do everything they can to keep them safe. Whether you win
your case will depend on the circumstances of the accident. Did the driver pull out in front
of a car and have to slam on the brakes? What were the road conditions? A jury will have
to consider those factual circumstances to determine if your driver acted negligently. But
as an employee of a common carrier, the driver must provide you with a high degree of
care. (If the bus were hit by another car, the other driver may also be liable for your


Q. My car sustained damage when it hit a pothole on a city street. Can I
recover from the city?

A. Some cities have pothole ordinances, a form of immunity that releases them
from any liability for pothole accidents, except where they had prior notice. Whether you
can recover will depend on your city’s law controlling liability and its immunities against


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Negligence law




Q. If someone causes an accident and I am hurt, on what basis will that
person be responsible (liable)?

A. A person is liable if he or she was negligent in causing the accident. Persons
who act negligently never set out (intend) to cause a result like an injury to another person.
Rather, their liability stems from careless or thoughtless conduct or a failure to act when a
reasonable person would have acted. Conduct becomes “negligent” when it falls below a
legally recognized standard of taking reasonable care under the circumstances to protect
others from harm.




Q. Negligence law seems so confusing. It uses words such as duty and
causation. What do they mean?

A. Negligence law can be complex and confusing even for people who are familiar
with it. To understand it better, forget all the legal jargon and go back to casino online the car accident
example. A driver has a duty to use reasonable care to avoid injuring anyone he or she
meets on the road. If a driver fails to use reasonable care and as a result of that failure
injures you, then the driver is responsible (liable) to you for those injuries.




Q. Who determines whether a defendant has acted reasonably?

A. After being presented evidence by your lawyer, a judge or jury will decide what
an “ordinary” or “reasonable person” would have done in similar circumstances. In the
example of an automobile accident, a judge or jury is likely to find a driver negligent if his
or her conduct departed from what an ordinary reasonable person would have done in
similar circumstances. An example would be failing to stop at a stoplight or stop sign.


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