Auto Accident

Tips for Driving in California’s Extreme Heat

by Staff Blogger | July 6th, 2020

In California, we’re fortunate to have some of the most accommodating, beautiful weather in the U.S. But we’re also no strangers to extreme heat. Northern California has already experienced one heat wave this year, and the chances are good that more will come.

As we head into the hottest days of summer, it’s a good time to re-evaluate your plan for dealing with extreme heat on our roads. A well-laid plan can be the difference between a mild roadside inconvenience and a serious emergency.

Vehicle Maintenance

Before you even think about hitting the road, you’ll want to be sure your vehicle is prepared for the heat. During the summer months, it’s especially important to:

  • Check your car battery often – The heat is a major drain on your battery. Check it frequently throughout the summer, especially if the battery is old or shows signs of corrosion.
  • Watch your coolant levels – If it’s been several thousand miles since you checked or replaced your coolant, the beginning of the summer is the perfect time to make sure levels are adequate to keep your engine cool and running smoothly.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated – Check your tire pressure at least once a month during the summer. Check your owner’s manual to find out the optimal tire pressure for both the front and rear tires on your vehicle, and don’t forget to check your spare tire’s air pressure level, too.

To make sure your vehicle is ready for the summer, get your car serviced and tell the mechanic what you want them to check. In addition to the items listed above, tell them to inspect your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, belts, hoses, fluid levels, and wiper blades.

Keep Yourself and Your Passengers Safe

Create an emergency safety kit

Your summer emergency safety kit could be a lifesaver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests several items to keep in your kit in case you get stranded on the side of the road, including:

  • Cell phone charger and portable external battery pack
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares or caution flags
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Tire jack
  • Basic repair tools
  • Duct tape
  • Nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines
  • Jumper cables

Keep these items easily accessible inside your vehicle, and don’t hesitate to include anything else you feel could make a difference in the event of an emergency.

Use your air conditioner

When it’s 90 degrees outside, you probably don’t need a reminder to turn on your air conditioner, but it’s worth emphasizing the importance of staying cool while driving in extreme heat.

Air conditioners help keep drivers alert, as driving for prolonged periods in extreme heat causes drowsiness. Children, older passengers, and pets are also more vulnerable to high temperatures, so it’s important to think about your passenger’s comfort level in addition to your own and watch for signs of heat-induced illness.

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Headache
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Flushed skin
  • Nausea
  • Confusion or irritability

Choose highways over secondary streets

Secondary streets are more likely to “fail” during the summer months. Smaller roads can easily buckle, warp, or crack, which means they’re also more likely to cause damage to your vehicle.

Highways are typically better maintained and capable of withstanding heavier traffic. Water drainage is also less of an issue on larger roadways than smaller ones. So, when you have a choice, opt for highways and interstates.

Follow child safety practices

  • No matter the time of year, always double check the size, fit, and effectiveness of your child safety seats before driving somewhere with your child.
  • Be aware that children are also more likely to play outside during the summer, so always be on the lookout for young pedestrians while driving.
  • One of the most important things to remember during the hottest months of the year is how quickly the inside your vehicle becomes. On a hot summer day, a vehicle’s dashboard can reach up to 160 degrees in about an hour. And within just a few minutes without AC, the interior of a vehicle can reach temperatures that pose a major health risk to occupants, especially children.

And Don’t Forget to Share the Road

During the summer months, more pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are traveling our roads. It’s important to give them the space they need. One of the best ways to do this is to slow down at intersections and keep extra space between your vehicle and pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

If You’re Involved in a Crash, Contact Us for a Free Consultation

The Northern California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers know how to get clients fair compensation after crashes. If you’ve had the misfortune of being injured by a negligent driver, we want to help you explore your legal options.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free, no-obligation case review.

How to Sue Rideshare Companies After Accidents

by Staff Blogger | June 22nd, 2020

Suing a rideshare companyRideshare services have become perhaps the most common way to hail a ride. As of 2019, more than one-third of American adults had used a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber, more than double the percentage from 2015.

Judging by those numbers, rideshare services seem like they’re here to stay. That means we’ll inevitably see an increase in the number of crashes involving vehicles bearing the Lyft or Uber logo—and the person in the other vehicle could be you or someone you love.

This brings us to our topic of discussion: How can you sue a rideshare company after being involved in an accident?

The Complexity of Suing a Rideshare Company

This biggest issue when filing a rideshare accident lawsuit is whether you’re suing the driver of the vehicle or the company that backs them. Lyft and Uber drivers are considered contractors, which means they aren’t technically employees of the rideshare service they drive for.

There are several reasons rideshare companies don’t “hire” drivers, one of which is the issue of liability. By working with contractors instead of employees, companies like Lyft and Uber insulate themselves from accountability if their driver is involved in a crash—at least partially.

Who Exactly Are You Suing?

To determine who you should take legal action against, you’ll need to pay close attention to the details of your situation. If a rideshare driver isn’t actively working (meaning they’re off the clock) when the accident happens, you will likely file a lawsuit against the driver.

If a driver is working but has no passenger, you have more options available. The rideshare company might have an insurance policy that covers these situations, though the policy will likely pay out less than if the driver was actively transporting a passenger. In these cases, you could have the option of suing the driver or the company.

Once a rideshare driver has a passenger in the vehicle, the company that they have a contract with can be sued for the compensation you’re owed. This is true whether you’re the passenger in the rideshare vehicle or the driver of a vehicle involved in a collision with the rideshare vehicle.

Ultimately, these claims can quickly become more complex than the average vehicle accident case. You’re not only dealing with a driver, but the company they’re contracting for and either or both parties’ insurers.

We can tell you from experience that insurance companies aren’t quick to offer fair settlements. In many cases, they’ll offer a lowball settlement to eliminate the possibility of any claims. It’s important that you speak to an attorney to make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of.

How to File a Lawsuit Against a Rideshare Service

To take legal action against a rideshare service, you’ll need to go through the traditional process of filing a lawsuit. This includes filing a complaint, serving the complaint to the defendant (the person you’re alleging fault against), waiting for their response, gathering evidence and building a case in the discovery phase, and settling the claim or going to trial, depending on the willingness of the defendant to comply with your demands.

This a very simplistic summary of what is asked of someone filing a personal injury claim. Each of these steps can quickly become more complicated if the defendant pushes back. Keep in mind that if you choose to go it alone in a lawsuit against a big company like Lyft or Uber, you’ll be up against a well-funded opponent who handles these types of cases regularly.

As attorneys who have handled many crash-related lawsuits against big companies, we strongly suggest you speak to an attorney as soon as possible after your crash. Avoid speaking to the representatives of any insurance company that isn’t your own. The sooner you have an advocate on your side to handle the insurance company, the better your chances of a successful outcome.

The Future of Rideshare Lawsuits

In May 2020, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit in San Francisco County Superior Court against both Uber and Lyft. The lawsuit alleges that these companies are depriving workers of essential protections by misclassifying them as contractors instead of employees.

Depending on how this lawsuit plays out, the ways in which injured people can file claims against rideshare companies could change dramatically. In the meantime, it’s important for injured motorists not to accept initial offers from rideshare companies’ insurers without knowing what their claims are truly worth.

If You Need an Attorney Who Will Fight for You, Contact Us

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we’ve been standing up for injured motorists for nearly four decades. We deal firmly with insurance companies to make sure our clients get treated fairly. If you want to discuss the details of your case to find out your best path to compensation, schedule a free consultation with our Northern California auto accident attorneys.

Worried about our fees and whether you can afford them? Don’t be. We don’t get paid unless we win you money. Contact our team today for a free case assessment.

What Should You Do if You Witness an Accident?

by Staff Blogger | June 1st, 2020

Witness an accidentCrashes are an everyday occurrence in California. In fact, there were nearly 500,000 auto accidents in California in 2017.  That’s an average of more than 1,300 crashes every day. If you’ve never witnessed one, the chances are good you will at some point in your lifetime.

So, if you’re wondering what to do when you witness an accident, you’ve come to the right place. The steps you take in the moments after a crash can make a big difference in people’s lives.

Let’s look at the most important things you should (and shouldn’t) do after witnessing a car accident in California.

What to Do If You Witnessed a Car Accident

As a witness, your first priority is to provide assistance without doing any harm to yourself or those involved in the crash. While your actions can be helpful or even lifesaving, taking the wrong steps may put you and others in danger. Keep the following steps in mind to be an effective and safety-conscious Good Samaritan:

Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Throughout every step listed below, keep your own safety in mind. If a crash happens in heavy traffic, be mindful of oncoming vehicles. If a vehicle has been badly damaged, remember that the vehicle itself is a threat to your safety. Always act with caution.

Report a crash to the authorities as soon as possible. Typically, someone involved in the crash will notify the authorities. However, it’s possible they might not be able to do so. For example, if a driver strikes a pedestrian or an idle vehicle and speeds away, a third party’s report might be necessary. That’s why you should always call 911—never assume someone else already has.

Give a statement to the police officer responding to the scene. When a police officer responds to the scene, you can give the officer your account of what happened. This information might play an important role in the report the officer files. Once you’re finished speaking to the officer, you can ask them if they need any other information before you leave.

Offer your contact information to one of the drivers involved in the crash. When you’ve witnessed a car accident, you can offer your contact information so they, their insurance company, or their lawyer have the option of following up with you later if they need more information. Insurance claims stemming from crashes are often contested by insurance companies, so your account of what you witnessed could be a valuable asset for the driver.

Call for medical assistance rather than trying to move an injured person yourself. If someone inside the vehicles involved is badly injured, let emergency medical responders handle them. You might inadvertently worsen injuries by trying to move the person to a safe place. Of course, there are exceptions.

California’s Good Samaritan Law protects people from liability when they try to help someone who needs to be rescued. If it’s an absolute emergency, and you’re confident in your ability to help, then you can. In all other circumstances, call emergency responders and wait for help.

Take pictures of the scene—if needed. Photographs of a crash can be valuable in the insurance claims process. If drivers are incapacitated, you might be able to help them by taking pictures of the crash’s aftermath. However, if at all possible, consider asking one of the drivers for permission first.

Look for other ways to help injured people. You might be able to help an injured person by contacting their loved ones, supplying first aid items, or doing something as simple as offering them water, a blanket, or a pen and paper to write down important information. The best way to find out how to help those involved in a crash is by simply asking.

There are also several things you don’t want to do when you witness a car accident. Tensions sometimes run high after a crash, so you don’t want to introduce any additional hostility. When you lend your hand to those involved, try your best to be a calming presence.

In summary, there are several ways to help crash victims without putting yourself or others in harm’s way. Be cautious, contact the authorities, and look for unobtrusive ways to make people’s lives easier. Consider the help you’d need if you were involved in a crash and act accordingly.

If You Need Help After a Crash, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we have years of experience helping people after a serious vehicle accident. We know how important the minutes, days, and weeks after a crash can be, especially when it comes to the insurance claims process.

We help our clients get the service and legal representation they need to get their lives back in order after a wreck. If you or someone you care about was involved in a crash, you can call our firm anytime to schedule a free consultation.

What are California’s Crosswalk Laws?

by Staff Blogger | May 25th, 2020

California crosswalk lawsCalifornia’s road laws aren’t just for motorists. Pedestrians have clear rights and laws they must follow, too.

It’s important for both drivers and pedestrians to understand the laws (and best practices) for navigating intersections, which is why we’re giving pedestrians the lowdown on California’s crosswalk laws.

So, What Are California’s Crosswalk Laws?

CVC §21950 says that drivers should yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. However, there are a couple of important caveats.

California’s law does not absolve a pedestrian from the duty of “using care” for their safety. The statute says that “no pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.”

The remainder of the statutes in this law pertain specifically to the responsibilities of drivers. It states that drivers approaching a pedestrian within “any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action” required to keep pedestrians safe.

What Does That Mean for Pedestrians?

California’s pedestrian law is somewhat at odds with commonly held wisdom that pedestrians always have the right-of-way, but it doesn’t absolve drivers from their share of responsibilities, either. It’s true that pedestrians using crosswalks have the right-of-way, but from both a legal and safety standpoint, it’s important not to stop in the middle of that crosswalk, if at all possible.

Some of the other language used in the statute is also open to interpretation. For example, the laws states that pedestrians shouldn’t “suddenly leave a curb into the path of a vehicle” in a way that presents an “immediate hazard.”

Terms like “suddenly” and “immediate hazard” introduce ambiguity into an otherwise clear-cut law. As you can imagine, this ambiguity is a focus for attorneys who are representing clients in cases involving pedestrian collisions on both sides of the issue.

The Legal Implications of a Pedestrian Collision

If a pedestrian is injured by a driver and files a legal claim, it’s possible the driver’s attorney will argue that the pedestrian walked into the street without warning, even if the pedestrian believes it would be obvious to any responsible driver that they were crossing the street.

This highlights the need for an experienced attorney when a legal dispute emerges from a pedestrian collision. An injured pedestrian will likely need an advocate to make their case using all available facts.

An injured pedestrian’s attorney might look for several types of evidence to back up their client’s argument. For example, security or street cameras might have captured footage of the accident, which can be used to reinforce the pedestrian’s claim. An attorney could also ask any eyewitnesses for their account of the collision.

What Can Pedestrians Do to Stay Safe?

Pedestrians can keep these safety tips in mind when walking near or across roads:

  • Whenever possible, use sidewalks and designated crossings.
  • Whether or not you’re using a designated crossing, be mindful of oncoming traffic and, when possible, try to make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you.
  • If walking at night, wear brightly colored or reflective clothing.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic while maintaining a safe distance from the road.

What Are Driver’s Responsibilities Near Pedestrians?

Drivers must follow all the rules of the road to keep pedestrians safe. They can further protect pedestrians by following these guidelines:

  • Always give pedestrians the right-of-way.
  • Slow down when near crosswalks or in areas where pedestrian traffic volume is high.
  • Never pass a vehicle when it is stopped at an intersection or crosswalk.
  • Never come to a stop in a crosswalk.
  • If a pedestrian makes eye contact with you, assume they’re crossing the street.
  • Give vulnerable pedestrians (elderly or disabled people) more time to cross the street.

When You’ve Been Injured by a Careless Driver, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

Though pedestrians do have the right-of-way in crosswalks, it’s possible that a driver will argue that a pedestrian acted unpredictably when crossing the road. It won’t surprise anyone who’s dealt with another party’s insurance company that insurers will use any argument possible to lessen or deny an injured pedestrian’s claim to compensation.

It’s vital that injured pedestrians get legal representation to make sure they aren’t taken advantage of by insurance companies. Berg Injury Lawyers has been representing injured people across Northern California for nearly four decades, and we’ve seen insurance companies make many outlandish claims, all for the sake of denying payments.

When you hire our California personal injury attorneys, you’ll be working with a firm that has a reputation for dealing firmly with insurance companies. We know what you’re going through, and we’re committed to fighting for maximum compensation on your behalf.

Let us hear your story, so we can help you explore your legal options. All you need to do is schedule a free consultation with our team. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.

How to Celebrate National Bicycle Safety Month in California

by Staff Blogger | May 4th, 2020

Celebrate Bicycle Safety MonthMay is National Bicycle Safety Month, and it’s the perfect time of year to take stock of the best practices for cyclists and other motorists.

This is an important annual observance, especially here in California. Kaiser Health News reported that the rate of bicycle accidents in California from 2016 to 2018 was at its highest for any three-year period since the mid-1990s. Traffic accidents killed 455 cyclists in California in that three-year span. Those kinds of numbers are unacceptable for preventable incidents like bicycle accidents.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to curb the number of crashes involving cyclists. To reduce these accidents, we all need to play a role. Let’s start with what cyclists should know to ensure their next ride is a safe one.

Tips for Bicyclists

Part I: The Gear

Whether you’re a new cyclist or a crafty veteran, it never hurts to revisit the basics, and that means equipping yourself with the right gear. Step one is finding a bicycle that is the right size for you. Bikes that are too big or too small are difficult to operate and could put you at an increased risk of crashing.

Once you have a bike that suits you, you should consider the most essential piece of safety equipment every cyclist needs to own: a helmet.

Get the Right Helmet

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a great list of tips to help you in your search for the best helmet. Here are its suggestions:

  • Measure your head to determine your size. You want a snug fit, but the helmet shouldn’t be so tight that it is uncomfortable or restricts blood flow.
  • A helmet should be centered on your head and leave only two fingers worth of space above your eyebrows.
  • When you buckle the strap under your chin, make sure that you can fit no more than two fingers between your chin and the strap.
  • Make sure your helmet doesn’t rock when you move your head.
  • As a final test to make sure the helmet is secure, open your mouth wide, as if you were yawning. You should feel the helmet pull down on your head.

If you’re ever involved in a crash, even a small one, replace your helmet. Even if it shows no visible signs of damage, your helmet is likely to be less effective after a bicycle accident.

Other Safety Equipment

To make sure your next ride is a safe one, use all necessary safety equipment.

  • When you ride during the day, wear brightly colored clothing to make yourself more visible.
  • When you ride at night, wear reflective clothing so drivers can see you.
  • If your bike doesn’t include reflective material, place some on your bike before riding at night, or purchase and install reflectors.
  • Make sure your bike has a white front light and red rear light, especially when riding at night or in areas where visibility is low.

Part II: The Ride

You’re all set with the right equipment. Now, it’s time to follow best practices when riding. Here are five tips to help you stay safe:

  • When carrying items, put them in a backpack or in a bag securely fixed on the back of your bike.
  • Make sure your shoelaces are tied and tucked in place.
  • Always practice defensive riding—travel in the same direction as traffic, follow the rules of the road, assume motorists can’t see you, and avoid any visual or audible distractions.
  • Be as predictable as possible by signaling your intentions to drivers and staying in designated biking lanes.
  • If you’re a less experienced cyclist, limit your rides to sparsely trafficked areas until you feel more comfortable with your cycling skills.

Tips for Motorists

Even non-cyclists can observe National Bicycle Safety Month by sharing the road safely with cyclists. Here are the best practices for keeping cyclists safe:

  • Give cyclists the same space and courtesy you would any other driver.
  • Never underestimate the speed of a cyclist when anticipating their movements.
  • Be mindful of a cyclist’s presence at stop signs, red lights, and in parking lots.
  • When passing a cyclist, leave plenty of room. If possible, pull over to another lane like you would when passing any other vehicle.
  • As always, follow the rules of the road—avoid speeding, distractions, or other reckless driving habits.

Follow These Tips Year-Round

The tips above aren’t just helpful during National Bicycle Safety Month; they’re always best practice for cyclists and other motorists. As cycling becomes more popular in the Bay Area, it’s vital we all take cyclists’ safety seriously.

Though we can control our actions, we can’t control those of others. When drivers cause bicyclists harm, our only option is to hold them accountable for the costs innocent victims face. If you’ve had the misfortune of being involved in a bicycle accident with a careless driver, know that you have legal options available.

If You Need Help, Call the Bicycle Accident Attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know how important it is to hold reckless drivers accountable for the harm they cause others. We’ve helped many California cyclists get compensation for their medical bills, lost income, and a host of other damages.

If you or a loved one has been injured in crash, contact the California bicycle accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with our team.

How to Get Someone’s Car Insurance Information

by Staff Blogger | April 27th, 2020

How to get someone's insurance information

Whether you forgot to collect the other driver’s insurance information at the scene, lost it after the fact, or were the victim of a hit-and-run, you might be wondering how to obtain someone else’s car insurance information.

The access you have to this information depends on the circumstances. Let’s take a closer look.


How to Get Someone’s Car Insurance Information After a Crash

There are three main approaches to obtaining this information.

  1. You can exchange information with the other driver.
  2. You can find basic information by referencing the police report.
  3. You or your attorney can request the information through a lawsuit discovery process.

Let’s dig into each of these three approaches.

Exchanging information with the other driver. This is the most common way that people get someone’s car insurance information. Exchanging information should always be done after a crash, and the other driver should be compliant.

Referencing the police report. Immediately after a collision, the police respond to the scene to file an accident report. While completing this report, the responding officer will write down the insurance information of each driver involved in the accident. If the officer filing the report doesn’t give you a copy of the report in person, you can get a copy by submitting a request to the police department. You can do this yourself or, if you’ve hired an attorney, they can request the information on your behalf.

Requesting the information through a lawsuit discovery process. If you file a lawsuit, you or your attorney can request the information as part of the discovery process of that legal action.

It’s worth noting that your own insurer can also be useful in this process. After you report the crash to your insurance company, which you should do as soon as possible after the wreck, your insurer will seek more details about the scope of the other driver’s policy.

How to Get Someone’s Insurance Information if There is No Crash

If there’s no accident, and you’re simply wanting to get someone’s info for some other reason, you’ll most likely be out of luck. The details of a person’s vehicle insurance policy are private, so you won’t get access to this information unless you have a valid legal reason to obtain it.

What Information Should You Gather After a Car Accident?

The more information you obtain, the easier the claims process will be. If possible, get the following information from the other driver (and any passengers):

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Insurance provider
  • Insurance policy number
  • License number
  • Registration information
  • Vehicle make and model
  • License plate number

At the bare minimum, you want the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance policy. You can also note the location and time of the crash. If there were any witnesses to the crash, gather their names and contact information.

What if the Other Driver Refuses to Give You Insurance Details?

If the other driver refuses to give insurance details, notify the police. The police officer who responds to the scene will have taken their insurance information to put in their report, which means you will have access to the information you need to file a claim.

Does a Police Report Include Insurance Information?

Yes, the police report will include insurance information of all the drivers involved in the accident. It will also contain any relevant facts uncovered by the responding officer, including the date, time, weather conditions, crash diagrams, vehicle damage, and any violations of the drivers. In some cases, the police report includes the opinions of the officer.

It’s important to obtain a copy of the police report after a crash. The report is an information-rich document that is essential for any claims that stem from the crash.

Getting Insurance Information After a Hit-and-Run Accident

Getting insurance information after a hit-and-run is difficult. If you managed to obtain the vehicle’s license plate number, you can report it to the police. Even if you don’t get the license plate, providing the police with the vehicle type and color can help identify the driver.

If you have no information about the hit-and-run driver, you should still notify the police (hit-and-runs are misdemeanor crimes in California) and your insurance company. Hit-and-run victims can often get compensation from their own insurance companies when the identities of the other drivers are unknown.

When to Contact an Attorney for Help

If you’ve been involved in a crash, it never hurts to explore your legal options. The greater your damages, the greater your need for experienced legal representation.

Remember that the other driver’s insurance provider will seek every opportunity to lessen the perceived fault of their policyholder. If possible, they’ll shift blame onto you and look for ways to deny you the compensation you deserve.

However, each step of the claims process, beginning with the information-gathering process immediately following the crash, also presents you with opportunities to build a solid case for compensation. By contacting an attorney early in the process, you’ll maximize your chances of getting the total compensation you need.

If You Need an Attorney, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

The California auto accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers know what to do after an accident. The sooner you put us on your case, the more work we can take off your plate. Whether you were recently involved in a crash or you are partway into the claims process, contact a lawyer for help.

If you need assistance getting someone’s insurance information or you want someone to handle correspondence with the other driver’s insurer, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana—What’s a Driver’s Liability?

by Staff Blogger | April 20th, 2020

how THC affects drivers

Marijuana is detected in the bloodstream of drivers who have been involved in car crashes more frequently than any other drug. Some research indicates that drivers with marijuana in their system are twice as likely to be responsible for causing crashes than a typical driver.

Whether you believe marijuana impairs a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle, or you think it has no impact at all, one thing is indisputable: driving with THC in your system has legal consequences.

California Considers a High Driver an Impaired Driver

Though recreational use of marijuana is legal in California, it isn’t legal if you’re driving. The consequences of driving while impaired by marijuana can be severe, including a misdemeanor charge, probation, and license suspension.

According to the California Highway Patrol, one impaired driving offense can cost a driver up to $13,500 when including insurance price raises, legal fees, missed time at work for court dates, restricted licensing, criminal records, and other related costs.

What’s A Person’s Liability for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?

An impaired driver is a negligent driver. So, if a driver is under the influence of a mind-altering substance such as marijuana, they should be considered at fault when involved in a collision with another vehicle. However, detecting and proving marijuana impairment isn’t easy (which we’ll get to shortly).

Even if a driver’s impairment isn’t detected, their mistakes still make them legally liable for the costs the other driver faces. For example, a stoned driver might rear end another vehicle because their reaction times were impaired. They may not be held accountable for driving impaired if it can’t be proven they were still under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident, but they can be held responsible for causing the accident.

How Does Marijuana Impact a Driver’s Performance?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse said that marijuana greatly affects a user’s judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time.

The effects of marijuana vary widely from one user to another, which makes it much more difficult to study than alcohol. That’s because a person’s blood-alcohol content is a consistent indicator of their level of impairment, while the same is not true for marijuana.

For example, once a driver’s BAC is double the legal limit, their performance behind the wheel will be severely impacted. Conversely, two people with the same level of THC in their system will be affected in very different ways. However, research shows that marijuana will impact any driver’s performance if they ingest enough of it.

Some drivers who are impaired by marijuana are also driving under the influence of alcohol. THC and alcohol compound each other’s effects, so even if a driver’s BAC is lower than the legal limit, they could still be significantly impaired if they’ve also ingested THC.

How Do You Know if a Driver Is Impaired by THC?

There’s currently no great way to tell if a driver is impaired by marijuana, and it’s a problem for law enforcement. In some cases, an officer who pulls a reckless driver over might smell marijuana in the vehicle or see physical signs of THC impairment, which could justify a request for blood or urine tests.

But even if an officer tests the blood or urine of someone they suspect is impaired, it’s difficult for tests to reveal whether the driver used marijuana minutes, hours, or days before the crash.

Though science could offer solutions that give officers a way to detect marijuana use immediately, it will take time for these technologies to be made available to local police.

The fact that THC is difficult to detect not only makes policing marijuana-impaired drivers difficult, it also makes it hard for someone who was involved in a crash with a potentially stoned driver to prove it.

What to Do If You Suspect the Driver Who Hit You Was High?

First, document the scene of the crash as best as possible. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, the license plate of the other driver’s vehicle, and the location of the crash. Call 911 to request an officer, so they can respond to the scene and file a report. If you’ve been injured, seek immediate medical attention.

After you speak to the police and get the care you need, call your insurance company to tell them about the crash. Then, call an attorney, so they can remove any doubt you were at fault, and make sure you get a fair offer from the other driver’s insurance company.

Need Help? Call Berg Injury Lawyers

If you’re involved in a crash with an impaired driver, you deserve payment for all the costs you face. We help our clients get compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost income, and any other costs they face.

Contact our California auto accident attorneys today to schedule a free case review with our team. Let us help you explore all your available legal options.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Why Distraction Threatens Your Safety

by Staff Blogger | April 13th, 2020

distracted driving in California

Every driver is tempted by distractions. We all have smartphones buzzing with notifications that demand our attention, favorite songs that compel us to blast our car stereos, or chatty passengers who draw our focus from the task of driving.

However, giving into these distractions has consequences. The safety of drivers, passengers, and anyone else on or near the road is constantly at stake whenever drivers get distracted by texts and other notifications.

We want to tell you why distracted driving awareness matters, who it affects, and what you should do to combat it.

5 Facts About Distracted Driving

To illustrate how serious the threat of distracted driving is on our roads, consider these five statistics:

  1. Each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured because of distracted driving.
  2. At any given point in the day, nearly one out of 10 drivers are using mobile devices.
  3. More than two-thirds of respondents to a AAA survey reported talking on cell phones while driving during the previous month.
  4. Nearly one-third of survey respondents admitted engaging in distracting behaviors fairly often or regularly.
  5. Hands-free isn’t risk-free: One study found that listening to someone talking decreased activity in the part of the brain associated with driving by 37%.

What Are California’s Laws on Distracted Driving?

California law bans all driver use of hand-held devices. Certain drivers, like minors and school bus drivers, are prohibited from using cellphones entirely, even as hands-free devices. You can also be given a “reckless driving” or “speed unsafe for conditions” ticket for driving while performing distracting activities, such as drinking, eating, grooming, or reaching for objects on the floor. 

Who Is Affected by Distracted Driving?

We all have a stake in raising distracted driving awareness. That includes distracted drivers, their victims, and the loved ones of those victims.

Few drivers intend to cause themselves or other drivers harm. Causing a crash because you couldn’t resist the temptation to pick up a mobile device could ruin a person’s life.

Consider the lives of all the people connected to those who cause crashes and those that suffer injuries because of another driver’s inattention. The chances are good that you or someone you know has been affected by distracted driving in some way.

Are Certain Drivers More Susceptible to Distraction?

Most California’s drivers know our state’s “Put Your Phone Down. Just Drive” campaign that targeted drivers between the ages of 16 and 24. There’s a reason that younger, less-experienced drivers are often the focus of safety awareness campaigns; drivers under the age of 20 are involved in a disproportionate number of distraction-related crashes compared to drivers of other age groups.

However, young people are not the only distracted drivers. For example, a study from the AAA Foundation for Driving Safety reported that drivers age 55 and older were distracted for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers when programming navigational devices or using their car stereo.

How to Observe Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The most important thing you can do is purge distracting activities from your routine. If you’re tempted by your smartphone, place the device in an out-of-reach place inside your vehicle to avoid the urge to use it. If you’re a parent, setting a positive example could influence your child to be equally diligent when they get behind the wheel.

Several apps and smartphone settings are capable of preventing distracting notifications. Consider using Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, the AT&T DriveMode app, or Samsung’s In-Traffic Reply app.

You might also consider spreading the word about the dangers of distracted driving. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which is the perfect opportunity to talk about this important issue. Don’t be afraid to tell a friend or family member to put away their phone if you notice them texting while driving.

When Distracted Drivers Cause Accidents in California, Call Our Team

We hope that safety awareness campaigns make our roads safer, and you never need to deal with the fallout of a distracted driving accident. However, if you do, know that the law is on your side.

Never pay the price for another driver’s mistakes. Holding that driver accountable for their carelessness is a key part of making our roads safer for everyone.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we’ve represented countless clients in Northern California who have been injured by reckless drivers, including drivers who injured others because they were texting while driving. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, we can help.

Insurance companies will want you to accept the first settlement they offer. In some cases, they’ll deny your claim entirely.

Before you speak to an insurance company’s representative, talk to an attorney. Contact the California car accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers and schedule your free consultation today.

Are California Safety Laws Too Lax for Teen Drivers?

by Staff Blogger | April 6th, 2020

Is California law too lax on teen drivers?

California drivers know that our state’s traffic laws are some of the strictest in the nation. However, some safety groups, such as the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety (AHAS), say that when it comes to teen drivers, our laws might not go far enough.

AHAS evaluates laws concerning distracted driving, seat belt usage, and teen drivers to determine their effectiveness at reducing accidents. Though California scores well overall, it falters when it comes to teen driving laws.

Why Does California Fall Short on Teen Driving Laws?

Though California currently bans first-year drivers from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., AHAS suggests that the ban should begin an hour earlier and include drivers up to the age of 18. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 40% of crashes involving teens (as both drivers and passengers) happen between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

California also bans first-year drivers from transporting passengers under the age of 20 unless they’re traveling with a licensed parent, driving instructor, or driver age 25 or over. AHAS suggests that California extend that restriction to include drivers up to the age of 18.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research suggests that fatality rates for teen drivers increased by 45% when their passengers are other teens. The fatality risk increases even more (56%) for occupants of vehicles that are involved in crashes with teen drivers. For each additional teen passenger that a teen driver transports, the greater the risk of a crash.

Understanding the Risks Young Drivers Face

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, who are three times more likely than drivers age 20 and over to be in a fatal crash.

AHAS’s push to broaden the scope of these bans is a much-needed effort, and it’s backed by research; a 2017 National Household Travel Survey found that the crash-per-mile rate for 16-year-old drivers is 1.5 times greater than it is for 18- and 19-year-old drivers.

Studies consistently show that teen drivers engage in riskier behavior than older drivers. For example, teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and follow vehicles too closely. They’re also less likely to wear seat belts.

California’s Teen Driving Laws Get Some Things Right

Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from cell phone use of any kind when behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, even with hands-free functionality. Because younger drivers are more likely to engage in distracting activities while driving, laws that restrict mobile device use of any kind could save lives.

Critics of these laws cite a study showing that, despite stricter laws in California regarding mobile device usage by drivers, the rate of drivers using their phones behind the wheel actually increased the following year. But advocates insist that laws take time to make an impact, and they often reference California’s seat belt laws to make their point.

When the state announced its seat belt requirement in 1985, seat belt use increased from about 20% to 40%. By 1997, compliance had risen to about 88%. By 2016, compliance rates reached approximately 97%.

Preventing Teen Driver Crashes Requires More Than Just Laws

Studies show that parents have many ways to keep teen drivers safe, and it starts with setting a good example. A 2018 study found that approximately half of parents driving with children in their vehicles talked on their cell phones, while one-third read text messages in front of their children while driving.

Parents also expect their children to respond when they call, even when their teens are driving. Research suggests that more than half of teens who talk on their phones while driving talked to a parent, compared to 46% who talk to friends.

A parent’s presence inside the vehicle is enough to make a difference; AAA found that when a teen driver is accompanied by someone age 35 or older, their fatality risk decreases by 8%.

If You’re Injured in a Crash, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

Berg Injury Lawyers represents injured people throughout Northern California to help get them the compensation they deserve. We know how quickly things can go from bad to worse when you’ve been injured by a reckless or distracted driver, so consider contacting an attorney as quickly as possible after an accident.

If you need legal assistance, we’re here to help. Contact the California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free case review.

Pros and Cons of New Vehicle Technology

by Staff Blogger | February 10th, 2020

When you read an article about self-driving cars or interactive dashboards, what do you feel? Do automated vehicles fill you with dread, or are you excitedly anticipating the day when you can get in your car and have it drive itself?

As a law firm that pays close attention to road and vehicle safety, we know that these advances will present both good and bad consequences for all of us.

In other words, there are pros and cons of new vehicle technology, which we should all consider as we cruise into this brave new world. Before we dive into the potential downsides of emerging technologies, let’s focus on the perks.

Pro – A Safer Commute

More than 35,000 people die in vehicle crashes every year in the United States. For each of those deaths, even more motorists are involved in nonfatal crashes that often result in injuries. The biggest upside of improved vehicle technology is the potential to reduce the number of overall crashes.

This is exactly what the U.S. Department of Transportation and countless road safety advocates are hoping automated systems will accomplish. Officials also hope that automation will bring less traffic and improved fuel efficiency in vehicles.

Pro – A Better Experience for Motorists

From smart displays on windshields to brain wave technology that helps drivers avoid crashes, new vehicles could offer features we can’t even imagine. Many of these innovations might dramatically improve our experience behind the wheel and, in some cases, improve our health.

For example, vehicle technology could not only get better in diagnosing problems with vehicles, but also diagnosing the health of drivers. Ford is currently developing technology that monitors a driver’s heart health through sensors placed in the seats of its vehicles.

Con ­– The Growing Pains of New Technologies

Over the years, manufacturers have made safety features available that were anything but safe. For example, seatbelts and airbags are some of the most basic but useful features in vehicles. However, several incarnations of the technologies have posed a threat to vehicle occupants. The latest examples of potential dangers include Takata airbags that could cause shrapnel injuries when deployed and allegations of Honda seatbelt defects.

Automation is likely to become integrated into our vehicles slowly as cars edge toward being fully autonomous. During this transition, we will need to learn how to operate new semi-autonomous systems. That could present an entirely new learning curve for drivers. So far, manufacturers and safety officials don’t seem to know who will be responsible for educating buyers on how to operate semi-autonomous vehicles safely.

Con – Smart Cars are Vulnerable to Hackers

An increasingly digital world has made our lives easier in many ways. But we are also more vulnerable to fraud and hackers. As our vehicles become more reliant on technology, they too are susceptible to hackers.

Cybersecurity concerns prompted a 2015 recall involving 1.4 million vehicles after researchers discovered that it was possible to disable vehicles’ brakes and steering capabilities while they were on the highway. Hackers have already found ways to access the information of drivers and even shut down some engines remotely.

Understanding Your Rights as a Consumer

You likely have your own list of pros and cons of new vehicle technology. If you’re skeptical of automakers’ capacity to address some of our biggest road safety challenges, we understand your reservations. Manufacturers often make mistakes that have serious consequences for all of us.

Consider some of the fatal defects in vehicles over the past few decades. From GM’s faulty ignition switches to Takata’s defective airbags to the top-heavy design of Ford’s Bronco II, manufacturers haven’t always inspired hope in car buyers.

When a defective product harms a consumer, the consumer have the right to hold the manufacturer accountable through product liability claims. These claims don’t just offer consumers a pathway to compensation; they also make the market safer for others who might purchase potentially dangerous products.

Schedule a Free Case Assessment with Berg Injury Lawyers

The good news is that you have the right to hold a manufacturer accountable if they sell you a product that causes you harm. If you have been sold a defective vehicle or vehicle part, we encourage you to contact the team at Berg Injury Lawyers.

Our California defective product lawyers have years of experience handling these claims. We believe that unless consumers take a stand against negligent manufacturers, companies will continue to sell dangerous products to buyers. Don’t pay the price for a manufacturer’s mistakes.

We know you might have questions you want answered about your legal options, which is why we offer free consultations. Fill out our online contact form today to get started with a case evaluation.