Jan 7, 2024: As time goes on, we native Californians have seen the state turn to crap, so we automatically want to blame politicians for accidents, etc. However, the state has many defenses when someone is hit and killed in a road crash. If you’ve been caught up in an accident on the 5 Freeway near Bakersfield, CA, and are unsure of your legal standing, this car accident article may provide some direction.
Here is a Map of the Accident Location
The 5 Freeway accident in question was a horrific 35-vehicle wreckage that happened on a foggy Saturday morning, according to the Kern County Fire Department. So far, at least 18 big rigs have crashed, leaving two individuals dead and nine injured. If you’re one of the unfortunate victims, you have the right to fight for compensation, and the first step is identifying who you can hold accountable to the families since many people died at the crash scene.
But navigating the legal complexity of such cases is no piece of cake, mainly when authorities are already spread thin dealing with mammoth crime and LEOs fleeing California in droves.
That’s where the experience of Ehline Law Firm comes in as the premier 5 Freeway accident lawyers in California. We will relentlessly pursue information from the California Highway Patrol, but for now, let’s look at what he knows so far, from minor injuries to when the names of those pronounced dead will be released.
See the Video
Facts According to ABC News
Two people were killed and nine others were injured in a major 35-vehicle pile-up in Bakersfield. The collision happened along the 5 Freeway Saturday morning, and it appears fog may have played a role. Police said 35 vehicles – including 18 big rigs – crashed into each other, causing a major chain-reaction collision. The California Highway Patrol closed southbound lanes of the 5 Freeway between Millux Road and Old River Road for several hours. All lanes were reopened by 8 a.m. Sunday after the car accident debacle.
Who Can Survive Victims Sue and For What?
The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans)
Yes, CalTrans could also be held accountable if it is found that poor road conditions, inadequate signage, or negligent maintenance contributed to the cause of the accident. In these scenarios, it is often crucial to consult with a legal professional who has dealt with CalTrans previously and knows how to handle such cases effectively. They are responsible for highway safety and ensuring all measures are in place to mitigate preventable accidents. If they fell short in this respect, their negligence could have contributed to the accident. However, they may escape legal liability here due to foggy conditions unless CalTrans is soon aware of a threat warranting freeway closure.
Could it be possible to sue the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) for not sufficiently managing these weather hazards on California freeways? Or does the California Vehicle Code hold the drivers responsible? Let’s take a deep dive into these considerations and clarify the confusion.
Note: Every case will depend on its unique facts and the applicable laws. Always consult with an attorney for accurate information tailored to your specific situation.
- Understanding the legal aspects of fog-related accidents on California freeways
- Analyzing the role of CalTrans in ensuring freeway safety
- Deciphering the California Vehicle Code about accidents in foggy conditions
- Evaluating the possibility of suing CalTrans for mishaps in a fog bank
To decide whether to proceed with a lawsuit, it’s essential to understand a few key concepts in this area of law. Please stick with us as we unravel these complexities.
First off, let’s delve into the question of guilt. Who is indeed legally liable for accidents caused by fog on the freeway? In the exciting world of legal issues, liability usually falls on those who fail to exercise due care and caution, thus resulting in the accident.
California Vehicle Code guides drivers’ behavior when driving conditions are less than optimal, such as in a fog. More specifically, Section 22350 of the code stipulates that no person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed more incredible than is reasonable or prudent considering weather conditions.
The driver should keep in mind the visibility conditions and a speed that will allow adequate and safe stopping distance.
In essence, drivers must adapt their driving behavior to align with the prevailing conditions. Failing to do so would likely square the liability burden on their shoulders. It’s not unlike expecting someone to walk carefully on a slippery surface: if they decide to run and subsequently slip, the fault lies with them, not the condition of the surface.
Now, you must be wondering, “What about the role of CalTrans in all of this? Can I sue CalTrans for fog accidents on the freeway?” Well, that’s a tricky question. CalTrans, short for the California Department of Transportation, maintains the state’s highway system. However, proving that CalTrans is at fault for an accident that resulted from fog can be rather complex.
Here’s why. CalTrans’s duties include maintaining road surfaces, signage, lighting, and weather management. That’s not in their job description. Moreover, they must issue fog advisories and take appropriate precautions, such as reducing speed limits in adverse weather. Nevertheless, it’s the driver’s responsibility to alter their driving behavior to fit the given situation.
Still, there can be exceptions. For example, if you can convincingly prove that CalTrans’ negligence, say, in failing to issue a fog advisory, played a significant role in your accident, you might have a case. But remember, these cases are challenging to prove and usually require expert legal guidance.
To sum it all up, while it’s not impossible to sue CalTrans for fog-related accidents, the responsibility almost always lies with the driver. And the law, specifically the California Vehicle Code, supports this standpoint.
Reckless driving or failure to adhere to traffic rules by other drivers involved in the accident could make them accountable for the detriment caused.
In such instances, you can sue the drivers who were at fault. Your case will typically rest on proving negligence, which means showing that the other driver breached their duty of care on the road, leading to the accident and resulting in injuries or death. This usually involves gathering evidence of reckless or inappropriate behavior, such as speeding, alcohol or drug impairment, distraction, fatigue, or failure to maintain their vehicle correctly.
If a commercial truck was part of the collision, there might be grounds to file a lawsuit against the trucking company. This is possible if the company violated safety standards or regulations, failed to maintain their trucks properly, or pressured drivers into harmful practices like overworking, leading to the accident.
Potential Injuries and Deaths from Highway Pile-ups?
Sadly, major highway accidents like those experienced on the 5 Freeway can lead to severe injuries and even fatalities. Victims often sustain injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, and internal damage. In the worst scenarios, lives are lost.
In other words, the survivors can sue for wrongful death, as well as for their past, present, and future special, as well as general damages from their physical and mental injuries.
How Much Can I Get in Compensation Damages?
Every case is unique, but compensation can cover various areas.
This might include:
- Medical expenses (current and future)
- Lost earnings
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages.
Some successful claims have reached six- or seven-figure settlements or awards, given the severity of the injuries or circumstances surrounding the case.
How Can Ehline Law Firm’s Years of Experience Help?
Ehline Law Firm is a seasoned veteran in car accident cases. Operating with an experienced team of lawyers and legal professionals, they have secured millions in financial compensation for their clients. Their expertise is particularly invaluable when you face giant entities, including CalTrans.
With their years of practical courtroom experience, they understand the nuances of personal injury and wrongful death claims. They know how to build a compelling case and work hard to ensure you get maximum financial compensation. Moreover, Ehline Law Firm goes the extra mile by offering personalized legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
- In 2019, there were 3,606 fatal crashes in California
- Large trucks were involved in 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2019
- In 2019, 74% of fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred on weekdays
- In 2019, 52% of fatal crashes in California occurred in urban areas
- In 2019, 48% of fatal crashes in California involved a single vehicle
- In 2019, 32% of fatal crashes involved speeding.