Here is the transcript from the video:
Hello everyone and thanks for watching. My name is Robert Mansour, and we're going to spend a few minutes talking about California's basic speed law. I'm a lawyer in the northern Los Angeles County area. I can be reached at www.valencialawyer.com or call the office at 661‑414‑7100. I used to work as a defense attorney for a major insurance company for many years, and for the last several years I've been representing victims of serious car accidents, and one issue that always comes up is California's basic speed law.
Now, at the top of the slide you'll notice that there is a speed limit sign. Please understand California's basic speed law and the speed limit are two different things. The speed limit is the fastest speed you should be driving in a particular area, but that doesn't necessarily mean doing so is a reasonable speed. Let's take a closer look.
California's basic speed law can be found in California Vehicle Code § 22350. Now, what does that mean? All that means is that California has a lot of rules and regulations about everything. There is the Business and Professions Code, there is the Criminal Code, there is the Civil Code, there is the Evidence Code, there's the Probate Code and guess what? We have a Vehicle Code that governs cars and motor vehicles in California just like any other state, and Section 22350 is our basic speed law, and you're going to see this citation or this Vehicle Code section in many police reports because oftentimes somebody was going too fast for, uh, the circumstances and was cited or noted to have been in violation of California Vehicle Code § 22350.
So let's take a closer look at what this section actually says. Section 22350 reads as follows: No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on and the surface and width of the highway and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property. That's California's basic speed law as codified in Section 22350 of the California Vehicle Code.
Now, you'll notice there is no mention in this section of the speed limit. It doesn't say anything about the speed limit. Basically, the second line is probably the most important. It says you have to drive at a speed that is reasonable or prudent given the circumstances, so in many cases that I handle in personal injury matters, my clients or the other party might try to say, "well hey, I was driving the speed limit." Well, that's not really a defense because the speed limit is the fastest speed you should be going. It's not necessarily reasonable or prudent to have been driving that speed at the time the accident occurred. So keep in mind the California Vehicle Code basic speed law is not necessarily the same thing as the speed limit. They are two separate things.
Thank you very much for taking the time to watch this short video. I hope you found it helpful. If I can of service to you, and you've been involved in a serious car accident in the Santa Clarita area or anywhere in Los Angeles County, visit my web site at www.valencialawyer.com or call the office at 661‑414‑7100. Thank you very much.
I admit this is a bit of a rant. I recently took on a case where the impact was relatively minor at first glance. It's not my favorite kind of case to handle because the damage is not very visible and in most cases, it's hard to convince an insurance adjuster of injury in low-impact cases. However, in some cases I might take such a case if the client is compelling, believable, and truly injured.
Although there are plenty of scientific studies supporting the fact that folks can get injured in lower speed accidents, some insurance adjusters still employ the knee-jerk reaction that little property damage necessarily means little to no injury. There is an adjuster I'm dealing with right now who keeps sending me letters on this particular case. From "Day One," his letters basically read as follows, "We consider this a low impact case and expect your client's injuries to be minor. Please send us your client's medical records when she's finished treating." Then another letter came last week that stated, "This is a minor accident. Both cars did not have much damage. Your client should be done with her treatment by now...."
As you can see, this adjuster has already made up his mind and by "implying" it in his letters, he basically wants me to adopt his framework for the case. While I agree that low impact car accidents present some challenges when convincing others of injury, I have been a bit surprised about how presumptive this adjuster has been. He has already concluded my client should have no injury without talking to her, without seeing her records, without knowing anything about her. He took one part of the puzzle (the low property damage), and he extrapolated a complete "analysis" that precludes the notion someone could be injured.
Truth is I'm not terribly surprised because insurance adjusters are bombarded with bogus and inflated claims. As a former defense lawyer, I understand it's hard to persuade adjusters with lower speed impact cases. However, what some insurance adjusters fail to realize is that every so often, a claim is legitimate. Some folks injure more easily than others. Some may have a pre-existing problem. Sometimes, age is a factor.
What troubles me the most is how myopic and conclusory some adjusters can be. Sometimes I just want to ask them, "Well, if low property damage ALWAYS means little or no injury, then why are you involved at all? Why don't you just resign and stay home? Why don't they just use robots to do your job?" Of course, there are also true insurance professionals out there who take into account all the facts before they jump to conclusions. That's the kind of adjuster I usually hope to get on my cases, but I don't always get so lucky.
I truly feel I can make these assertions after working for a major insurance company as a defense lawyer for over 10 years. I've seen both kinds of adjusters, and whether I'm working for plaintiff or defense, I appreciate adjusters who soak in ALL the information before making a decision. Thank you for allowing me to rant today. However, these are not only MY realities but also my client's realities. My job is to educate them that there are adjusters who won't see matters any other way. They will always analyze a case from within their paradigm.
If you need help with a personal injury case, please call (661) 414-7100 for a consultation. If an adjuster is giving you a hard time and refuses to see things any other way, take comfort in knowing you are not alone.
by Robert Mansour