While auto accidents in Oxnard happen at roughly the same frequency as in other cities, there are those that cause comment no matter where they occur. A good example is the spate of accidents that have transpired this past year involving civilians and the cars or property of government agencies. There are different rules that must be followed when a car accident happens between public-owned vehicles and privately-owned vehicles than if an accident occurs between civilians.
Negligence Per Se
One major difference is in the handling of the legal concept known as negligence per se. In many Oxnard car crashes, negligence per se helps ease the burden on the plaintiff, as they must prove certain things in order to be able to show the defendant was responsible for their injuries. California jury instructions state that if (1) the defendant violated a specific statute (for example, California’s prohibitions against drunk driving), and (2) that violation was a ‘substantial factor’ in the harms the plaintiff suffered, then the defendant must, by law, be found negligent. This is considerably easier than proving the four pillars of standard negligence law.
While this is a very common tool used in standard auto accident cases, the important thing to remember is that it is not permitted to allege negligence per se against government employees in auto accident cases. The reason for this is tied up in a piece of legislation called the California Tort Claims Act (CTCA). The CTCA shields the government and its employees from most causes of action in tort, but provides statutory exceptions under which some claims can be brought. If you are involved in an Oxnard car crash with a government employee, you may likely bring suit against them under a theory of vicarious liability, which is actually bringing suit against their employer to answer for their acts.
The other major difference in filing suit against a public employee or entity versus a private person is that any claim for money or other damages must first be announced, so to speak, by the filing of a claim under the CTCA. California law governs just how this must be done and what must be said in the claim to properly advise that a suit will be brought. The information is fairly common sense; you must provide your name and contact information, the information surrounding the incident, and the amount sought (specifically if over $10,000; if under $10,000, a general approximation is acceptable).
This must be done within six months, regardless of the statute of limitations on the actual injury incurred. It is important to remember that this must come before any kind of filing in court, or your suit may be dismissed for failure to conform with procedure.
Contact An Oxnard Car Accident Attorney
If you have sustained a personal injury in Ventura and need help understanding the process, it is in your best interests to hire a competent car crash lawyer. Quirk Law Firm, LLP has been handling cases related to auto accidents and personal injury in Oxnard for many years, and we understand how frightening and difficult the process can be. If you are injured, you need a car crash attorney in Oxnard who sees you as a human being in need of help, not just as a number. Contact us today at 805-650-7778.