Charges Now Pending In Fatal CHP Motorcycle-Pedestrian Accident
The City of Long Beach filed vehicular manslaughter charges stemming from an October 2019 incident which involved a motorcycle officer and a 24-year-old pedestrian.
According to a civil lawsuit filed by the victim’s survivors, the officer was travelling over 70mph on his way to work in an area known for its high pedestrian traffic. Furthermore, according to the family, the officer had four prior speeding tickets and raced dirt bikes on the side.
“As prosecutors we need to put aside our emotions and focus on the facts of the case, treating every defendant fairly, without prejudice for or against,” Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert remarked in a statement. “In this case, that meant filing vehicular manslaughter charges related to the death of Cezannie Mount.”
When pedestrians are in a crosswalk and crossing with the light, they have the right-of-way. All other traffic, including motor vehicles, must yield. If they do not do so, the negligence per se doctrine usually applies. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) could be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate safety laws, and
- These violations cause injury.
Frequently, police officers have official immunity in negligence per se matters. If they were discharging their official duties, they are only liable for damages in some situations. However, this officer was apparently on his way to work when the accident occurred. So, official immunity is inapplicable.
Most pedestrian knockdowns occur outside intersections. Although pedestrians do not have the right-of-way, the driver could still be legally responsible for their damages. The duty of reasonable care requires drivers to avoid accidents when possible. If drivers breach this duty of reasonable care, they are likewise responsible for damages. Evidence in ordinary negligence claims includes:
- Erratic operation, such as speeding or making an unsafe turn,
- Layout of the area (e. was it relatively easy for the tortfeasor to see pedestrians),
- The presence of pedestrians in the area, and
- The tortfeasor’s driving record.
A San Jose personal injury attorney can usually obtain substantial damages in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The sudden emergency defense and the distracted walking defense, which is an offshoot of comparative fault, are the most common insurance company defenses in pedestrian accident claims.
In court documents, insurance companies often claim that the victim “darted out into traffic.” Language such as this sets up the sudden emergency defense. This legal loophole excuses negligence if the tortfeasor:
- Reasonably reacted to
- A “sudden emergency.”
We put sudden emergency in quotation marks because, in this context, this phrase has a very specific meaning. A sudden emergency is a completely unexpected hazard, like a hood fly-up or tire blowout. Jaywalking pedestrians are not in this category. Instead, jaywalking pedestrians are more like stalled cars or potholes. Drivers should be ready to deal with such hazards.
Distracted walking usually involves device use. Most people have their head down when they use devices. Insurance companies usually rely on witness statements and device use logs to establish this defense in court.
If jurors agree that both the victim and tortfeasor were at fault, they must apportion liability between them on a percentage basis. California is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor is liable for a proportionate share of damages.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Attorney
Pedestrians risk serious injury every time they cross the street. For a free consultation with an experienced San Jose personal injury lawyer, contact Solution Now Law Firm. You have a limited amount of time to act.