From the foregoing it is obvious that Ms. Jones knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that Plaintiff was not wearing his seat belt. In spite of this, she did not ask Plaintiff to put on his seat belt. At the time of the injury, Plaintiff was a minor. As operator of the vehicle, it was the responsibility of the operator, Ms. Jones, to make sure all minor passengers were seat-belted. Thus, if there is any negligence to be found for the fact that Plaintiff was not wearing his seat belt, it would seem the majority of this negligence would be directed to Ms. Jones as the operator of the vehicle.
The second issue is: had Plaintiff been wearing a seat belt, would it have made a difference? The rear roof of the Honda was crushed down to the seats. Accident Reconstructionist Mr. Barry concludes that the non-use of a seat belt by Plaintiff made no difference in the injuries he suffered in the crash. Thus, there is no causation between lack of use of seat belt and the injuries suffered by Plaintiff.
CONCLUSION REGARDING LIABILITY
The following conclusions can be reached:
1. This is a case of clear liability against defendant Ms. Jones. She caused the crash. The presence of frost or ice on the roadway made no difference. She was simply driving too fast. Ms. Jones admits she caused the crash.
2. If defendants wish to raise the seatbelt defense, they will be faced with two problems. First, it was the primary duty of defendant driver Jones to make sure her passengers were seat-belted. Second, there is no causal connection between lack of a seatbelt and the injuries suffered by Plaintiff. He was going to suffer these injuries regardless, as evidenced by the crushed roof.
CCP Section 998 – SETTLEMENT OFFER
On March 12, 2003, defendants were served with an offer under CCP Section 998 in the sum of $1,250,000. This is defendants’ policy limit of coverage. This offer of settlement will automatically terminate and expire on June 27, 2003, the date of the Dispute Resolution Conference. Should defendant’s decline Plaintiff’s offer, it will then be Plaintiff’s position that the Jones insurance policy is a “NO LIMITS” policy. It will then be my duty to seek the full compensation which this case justifies, a figure that is in clearly in excess of the Lehman insurance policy limit.
Because a failure of Farmers Insurance to accept Plaintiff’s settlement offer will expose the Lehmans’ to potential financial ruin, it is requested that a copy of this brief be forwarded by Farmers Insurance to the Jones so they may take whatever steps are necessary to protect themselves.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.