Category: Car Accidents – CA

Is It Legal To Drive With A Pet In Your Lap In California?

Is It Legal To Drive With A Pet In Your Lap In California?

We see it all the time. A cute little dog riding on an owner’s lap, its head out the window, while the owner is driving. We may think it is cute, but it can be dangerous as well. California has no specific law prohibiting the practice. However, having a dog on your lap while driving can cause conditions that may make it dangerous or illegal to drive.

What California Law Says About Pets Traveling in Cars

California law states that a pet may be unrestrained within an enclosed vehicle. That means it does not need to be crated or restrained with a pet seat belt inside a car. Beyond this basic law, however, a driver should make sure that their pet is safe within the vehicle and must make sure that it is safe to drive with the pet in the vehicle.  

Note that a pet must be restrained when riding in an unenclosed space such as a flat-bed truck. This makes sense and is safer for the pet involved. This means that a pet must be crated, and the crate secured when the pet is riding in the back of a pickup.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is prohibited in California. Distracted driving in California is more than just texting or using a cell phone while driving. Any activity which distracts the driver from paying attention to the road and which may cause the driver to either lose control of the vehicle or cause an accident is considered to be “distracted driving” in California.

California is cracking down on distracted driving. The California High Patrol is giving out more citations for distracted driving practices including eating, applying makeup, and the like. A pet in the lap of a driver could well earn the driver a citation for distracted driving.  

A pet can be a distraction in a car. This is especially true when the pet rides on the driver’s lap while driving. The owner may pet the dog and may look down at the pet instead of keeping their eyes on the road. If the pet barks suddenly near the driver’s ear, the driver could be startled and lose control of the car.

In California, if an accident occurs because of distracted driving, the driver can also be cited for reckless driving or driving too fast for the conditions. This increases the fines involved. A distracted driving ticket for a first offense can run upwards of $100 for a first offense once fees and surcharges are added.

A new law, AB 47 goes into effect in July 2021. The new law will increase penalties for distracted driving. More importantly, the bill will enable a point to be added to a driving record with each infraction. With enough points, a person may lose their driving privilege in California.

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in California. It is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to $1000 in fines.

Distracted Driving and Negligence

Distracted driving is at the bottom of many California car accidents. In 2018 alone, 2481 people in the U.S. died in car accidents due to distracted driving. Driving with a pet on the driver’s lap opens a driver to a lawsuit for negligence if an accident results. We all owe a duty of reasonable care to pedestrians and other drivers when we are driving. This duty of reasonable care is arguably breached when a driver is distracted and gets into an accident.

Pet Injuries

Another possible consequence of driving with a pet on a driver’s lap concerns injuries to the pet if an accident takes place. When a collision occurs, the weight and force of movement of the driver’s torso against the interior of the vehicle is tremendous. It can result in injuries or death to an animal located on the driver’s lap.

Likewise, airbags can cause severe injuries or death for an animal in the front seat.  This is why most pet harnessing systems are designed for use in the rear seat of a vehicle. Driving with a pet in your lap is not only dangerous for you, but also for your pet.

Animal Cruelty and Pets in Cars

Most animal cruelty charges brought with regard to pets in cars have to do with pets who are injured or die in hot cars. Charges may be brought against the owner for injuries or death to a pet that occurred because of an owner’s reckless behavior. Fines are substantial if convicted and an owner may lose their ability to own another pet.

Make Smart Choices When Driving With Pets in the Car

Sometimes, what seems like benign behavior can open doors to unintended consequences. Always take care to ensure your pet’s safety in your car. By doing so, you can ensure not only your own safety but the safety of others on the road. If you have questions regarding distracted driving or the culpability in a vehicular accident, make sure to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.

Is It Legal To Drive With A Pet In Your Lap In California?

If Airbags Did Not Deploy in a Car Accident, Is the Car Company Liable?

Airbags are designed to keep drivers and passengers protected. Vehicles are heavily marketed for their safety features, which includes having effective airbags.

Crash test results are boasted about by manufacturers who use successful results to attract buyers because they are deemed the “safest” car on the market. However, sadly, not all airbags are safe and there can be catastrophic injuries or even death if one fails to deploy during an accident. 

If you were in an accident and your airbag did not deploy, you may have a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle. You could also have a case against the manufacturer of the airbag or any company that inspected the vehicle for safety.

According to Michele Mirman, a car accident lawyer in New York City, “These companies have a duty to the consumer to make a safe product. If they violate that responsibility, they can be held accountable.”

How Do Airbags Deploy?

Cars and other automobiles are built with a number of safety measures, including airbags. Airbags can be both on the driver’s side and the passenger’s side. The purpose of an airbag is to reduce the physical effects of an automobile accident. More specifically, they are designed to reduce head injuries by cushioning the neck and head during the forward movement of a collision.

Airbags are most commonly located behind the steering wheel or the passenger side dashboard. They can also be located on the sides of the vehicle. Airbags rely on two things: timing and a small explosive charge. The airbag begins to inflate the second the vehicle begins to slow down as the result of a collision.

Each airbag has an accelerometer attached to it that detects the deacceleration of speed. If it is faster than a normal breaking pattern, the accelerometer will activate the airbag circuit.

The airbag circuit passes through a heated electrical current that ignites a slow chemical explosive. This explosion creates a harmless gas that fills the airbag when it deploys. The airbag begins to deflate the second it makes contact with the driver’s or passenger’s head. If functioning correctly, the airbag should be completely deflated by the time the automobile comes to a total stop.

What Causes Airbags to Not Deploy?

Speed or Type of Crash

Airbags do not deploy in every collision. One main reason they may not is the nature of the crash. The majority of airbags are most effective in moderate to severe crashes involving the front of the vehicle. Airbags generally deploy if the speed is at least 8 to 14 mph.

If the crash is minor or at a low speed, it may not trigger the circuit that deploys the airbag. Also, since most airbags are located at the front of the car, they may not deploy if the collision is to the back or side of the vehicle.    

Design or Manufacturing Defect

Defects in the manufacturing or design of the airbag may also be at fault. Types of defects include airbag sensor defects and defective electrical components. These defects are usually to blame when the airbag deploys early, late, or unexpectedly when there is no collision.

If the defect is great enough, the airbag could even explode. Additionally, there could be a defect in the design of the airbag itself which led to an injury because it did not deploy correctly.

Installation Errors

Finally, there may have been an issue with installation or safety check that caused the airbag to not deploy. A common example of this is car manufacturers cutting costs in the installation by making the location of the airbag ineffective because wires were routed through areas that were vulnerable to being severed or damaged.

It is also possible that a negligent safety check was performed that could have found the defect. However, the defect went unnoticed because the check was not done correctly or to the company standard.  

Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?

You may have a personal injury case if you have an injury that was caused by an airbag malfunction. Usually, these injuries are caused by the airbag not deploying or deploying at an incorrect time.

Examples of these types of injuries include neck whiplash, face lacerations, hearing damage, broken bones, soft tissue damage, brain injuries, concussions, organ damage, or even death. 

To prove that an airbag or automobile manufacturer is to blame for the injuries caused by a defective airbag, the law of strict liability applies. Automobile and airbag manufacturers have a responsibility for providing a product that is properly designed and tested to ensure customer safety.

To be successful in a personal injury claim, you will need to prove two things:

  1. The airbag had an unreasonably dangerous defect and, 
  2. The specific defect caused injury or harm.

If you can prove these things, you may be able to recover monetary compensation to help recover from your injury. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.

See a Doctor After Your Accident. Your Health and Injury Claim Will Thank You

Going to the hospital is one of the most important things you can do after a car accident. This is true even if you don’t think that you’ve been injured badly in the crash. In fact, it may be even more important to go if you think you’re okay. Why? There are three primary reasons.

Three Reasons You Need to See a Doctor Immediately After an Accident

First, if left untreated, injuries can pose a serious threat to your health and safety. Going to the doctor right away will help to rule out any internal injuries that wouldn’t have been able to identify on your own. Your doctor can make sure that you get the medical treatment you need to keep you safe.

Second, going to the hospital will help to establish a link between the accident and your injuries. You’re only entitled to recover compensation for injuries that were caused by your accident. According to Boris Lavent, a car accident lawyer, “Getting your injuries documented right away will help to strengthen the argument that they were a result of the crash.”

Lavent added,  “The longer you wait to see a doctor, the more vulnerable your claim begins.” The defendant may argue that there’s no hard evidence to show that the accident caused your injuries. A medical evaluation completed shortly after your accident will help to support your case.

Third, seeing a doctor for an assessment will help to show that you took reasonable steps to identify your injuries after the accident. This is important, because some injuries may not be evident right away. In fact, you may think that you’re perfectly fine until days, weeks, or months later when you begin to experience symptoms.

In California, you have two years to file a lawsuit for damages after an accident. What happens if you don’t realize that you’ve been injured until the deadline to file has come and gone? Delayed discovery of your injuries could allow you to file a lawsuit after the initial statute of limitations has expired.

However, it’s important to note that you must have failed to discover the injury despite reasonable efforts to do so.

Car Accident Injuries That May Not Show Up Right Away

Some car accident injuries will be very obvious after an accident. You’ll probably know that you’ve broken a bone or dislocated a joint. However, other injuries may not be clear to you right away. In fact, you may not even begin to experience symptoms until long after the accident.

Soft Tissue Injury: Soft tissue injuries involve damage to the muscle, tendons, and/or ligaments. This can include bruising, sprains, strains, and whiplash. That’s right. Whiplash, one of the most common car accident injuries, is a soft tissue injury that often goes unnoticed right away.

It’s important to keep an eye out for any common signs of a soft tissue injury, including limited mobility, painful movement, headaches, nausea and vomiting, and swelling.

Head Injury: Sometimes car accident victims will not know that they’ve suffered a serious head injury. This is particularly true if the victim did not seek medical attention after their accident. It’s also easy to dismiss the symptoms of a head injury.

A victim may simply believe that their discomfort is normal or brought on by stress. In truth, however, signs of a head injury likely indicate that you have a head injury. Seek medical attention immediately if you begin to experience headaches, loss of consciousness, blurred vision, difficulty speaking, limited mobility, unexplained anger or irritability, or seizures.

Emotional Trauma: You’re not only at risk of suffering physical injuries in a car accident. Victims, particularly those involved in violent crashes, can experience severe emotional trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is incredibly common after an accident.

However, the signs and symptoms of PTSD often take time to manifest. A victim may not truly identify the extent of their trauma until long after the accident. Signs of PTSD may include guilt, loneliness, withdrawal from social activities, hostility and agitation, insomnia, and flashbacks.

Back Injury: A car accident can be very violent. Your body can be subjected to extreme shock and trauma. This can pose a threat to your back and spine. However, you may not notice that you’ve suffered a back injury until the accident is in your rearview mirror.

Back injuries can, and often do, become worse over time. It’s important to make sure that your injury is treated promptly. See a doctor if you experience a loss of mobility or begin to experience swelling, bruising, or pain in the back.

When you’re injured in a car accident you may have the right to recover compensation. You can maximize your financial award by supporting your case with as much evidence as possible. Medical records and reports can be incredibly persuasive when your attorney is at the negotiating table. Take the time to see a doctor after your accident. You’ll be able to keep yourself safe and strengthen your legal case at the same time.