2017 – Changes in California Personal Injury Law

According to the Institute for Legal Reform, California’s overall legal environment ranked 47th out of the 50 states. California is ranked as the third-riskiest state to drive in because of its large number of uninsured motorists. Even when a motorist is insured, minimum liability insurance coverage requirements are low. Other changes are worth noting.

Cell Phone Use

Distracted driving causes many accidents in California as elsewhere. Prior to 2017, if a driver was using a cell phone when an accident occurred, a car accident attorney would be able to request access to phone records to prove the driver was having a conversation or texting when the accident occurred. Since this would break state laws, the weight of an illegal act would help establish fault. However, there was one loophole. The defendant might claim he or she was using the phone to get driving directions.

This ended in 2017. Now it is illegal for a driver to use a cell phone as a GPS unit. The new California law states that a cell phone must be mounted and cannot be either held in the hands or swiped.

Lane Splitting for Motorcyclists Now Illegal

Lane splitting is illegal in California as of 2017. While it was not illegal for a motorcyclist to ride between vehicles before, it wasn’t a good idea either. Passing vehicles between lanes was not only dangerous, it caused motorcycle accidents. Now, if it happens, the motorcyclist is, at the very least, fined. The illegality of the act will help potential claimants prove that the defendant acted recklessly.

Commercial and School Buses

New laws in 2017 also mandate that commercial buses are inspected more frequently. This is a major step since many bus accidents are caused by mechanical or other maintenance errors. Since commercial bus companies and drivers are required to keep logs, inspection lapses would be readily apparent and usable in a lawsuit.

School bus drivers also have a new task. They are required to check to make sure that no child is left behind in a school bus. This is in response to several tragic incidents where children left behind in a bus at the end of the day were injured or died. If this happens to child in the future, a school bus attorney can utilize this new mandate in a lawsuit against the driver and the company or city that is in charge of getting children around safely.

 Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Despite the legal requirement for liability insurance, California has about 4 million uninsured motorists, tops in the nation. California motorists often purchase uninsured motorist coverage to cover their own potential liability in the case of an accident with an uninsured motorist. Although uninsured motorist coverage is legally required in 20 states, California is not one of them.

Because California’s minimum liability insurance requirement is so low, many motorists have also purchased underinsured motorist insurance to protect them against a serious accident with a motorist who only carries only the minimum coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage is relatively expensive in California because of California’s low liability insurance minimums. No changes were made in 2017.

David Azizi Is Ready to Help You

David Azizi, a top truck accident and personal injury lawyer in California, is ready to work for you when you’ve suffered injury due to negligence. You can call him 24/7 at 800-991-5292, or use our online chat. In order to receive maximum compensation, it is important to have an attorney at your side.


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