Monday, November 24, 2008

California DUI may be a contributing factor at who is at fault in a collision

California DUI criminal defense lawyers and California dui criminal defense attorneys were posed this question:

Is it true that if a collision occurs when a vehicle is backing out of a parking-lot space at a store or business, the driver of that vehicle is at fault?

Some are aware of friends being involved in two incidents and their insurance companies claimed that's the rule. Even if the other driver runs into you after you started backing up and it's clear you couldn't see the other vehicle. This doesn't seem reasonable.

Answer from California Highway Patrol: Because most business parking areas are private property, many "rules of the road" or general driving laws don't apply in determining liability or fault in collisions, noting exceptions such as certain serious violations like driving under the influence and hit-and-run do apply on private property.

"Thus, there's no specific or automatic right-of-way or at-fault," he said. And the majority of collisions on private-property lots do not draw a police response and generally are not documented by law enforcement. The involved parties are left to deal with it themselves, exchanging names, numbers and insurance information."

In investigating collisions anywhere, most California Highway Patrol officers, are looking for "reasonableness."

Also, what insurance companies consider "fault" sometimes is different from what law enforcement officials determine.
"When some insurance companies dissect a collision due to a lawsuit, they often determine percentages of fault -- or better put, it's called 'responsibility' or 'liability,' " . "Car A is on a freeway at 60 miles an hour when traffic ahead stops suddenly," he said. "Driver A hits his brakes and stops a few feet behind other cars. Driver B, behind Driver A, slows and stops behind Driver B. But Driver C, who's behind Driver B, fails to stop in time and rear-ends B, pushing B into A. Law enforcement would list Driver C at fault. But insurance companies often will assign some degree of risk or liability to B because B's car actually hit and damaged A's car."

"There are no hard and fast rules that should place a person at-fault automatically in a collision anyway. "There have been collisions involving California DUI drivers who were not at-fault for causing the collision, but were found to be under the influence and charged with a California DUI, even though they did not err in driving at that specific time of the collision. Could the California DUI have been a contributing factor? Yes, but not the primary collision factor."

"Fault should depend on at what point the backing-up car was struck. If the backing car driver observed it was clear to back up, began the maneuver and suddenly a car turned into the isle of the backing car and struck the backing car, it probably would be the fault of the non-backing car. It also is dependent on the speeds and positions of both vehicles. And how far each was into the maneuver or movement. Fault is determined by many factors."