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A “tort” is what it’s called when someone commits a wrongful act for which they can be held responsible. California tort law dictates that a person may be held liable under one or more of the following theories.
The negligence standard is the most widely known form of tort liability, and the most commonly used in car accident or truck accident cases. The fact finder must determine the following in order to find a party negligent:
When a person is found to be negligent, they are legally responsible for the damages incurred by the victim. In a car accident case, every driver has a legal duty to exercise caution and obey the laws when driving. If the driver makes dangerous choices, like texting while driving, they are breaching that duty.
Less straightforward is the strict liability standard. If a personal is held to be strictly liable, this means that a finding of intent or negligence is not required. This area is primarily confined to ultra-hazardous activities and product liability cases, but can also apply to employment cases as well.
An activity is ultra-hazardous if it is so inherently dangerous that even the highest degree of care will not eliminate the risk of harm.
If someone is injured because of such activity, the defendant is liable regardless of the level of care he or she exercised. Some examples of ultra-hazardous activities include:
A familiar example of the latter was the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. In the wake of that tragedy, strict liability provisions of the Refuse Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act meant that oil carriers would be liable for any violation, regardless of whether it occurred accidentally or as a result of intentional misconduct. Both scenarios are handled the same when viewed through the lens of strict liability. The Restatement of Torts Section 520 states that in determining whether an activity is, in fact, “abnormally dangerous”, a court will consider the following:
Vicarious liability makes one person responsible for a wrongful act committed by another person. There are a number of contexts in which this situation arises.
Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is liable for an employee’s harmful actions if the employee was acting within the scope of employment. How do we determine “scope”?
Example: An employee is driving a car during standard business hours, delivering supplies from one office to another. During that time, he strikes and injures a pedestrian. Was this work in the scope of employment?
Someone who engages an independent contractor is not liable to others for the acts or omissions of the independent contractor. An independent contractor is a person who performs services for another person under agreement and who maintains control over the way he performs the work.
If two or more people are found liable for an injury, they will be held jointly and severally liable. This means that each person is liable for the entire award regardless of the individual degree of fault. Because a so-called “deep pocket” defendant may be held liable for an entire damage award even if he is only partly responsible, California has modified the doctrine of joint and several liability for personal injury cases. To apportion financial liability closer to the degree of fault, California does not apply several liability for non-economic damages.
In February of this year, a bill was introduced by Assembly Member Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) that would have it illegal for law enforcement officials to engage in “motorcycle profiling.” The successful passing of this bill likely would have had a significant impact on future California motorcycle accident cases. Co-authored by Speaker Pro Tempore Kevin Mullin (D-South San […]
Laws about whether or not you can file a lawsuit against a school vary from state to state. In California you certainly can, but first you must file a Notice of Claim within six months of the date of injury. School districts are government entities and as such are protected by what is known as […]
Commencing July 1, 2018, a California DUI law will go into effect making it illegal for drivers with a blood alcohol content level of .04 percent or higher to operate a vehicle that carries a passenger for hire. “Passenger for hire” is a legal definition meaning “a passenger for whom consideration is contributed as a […]