Feb 03 by Ralph L. Jacobson

The ‘rescue doctrine’ in California: whose fault counts?

As common law doctrines evolve, sometimes their rationale, and proper application, can get lost; that can be because of just one “less than thoughtful” reported appellate decision. One example is an appellate decision in the 1990s limiting the application of the “rescue doctrine” in California. Five years afterwards, another court took a more serious look…

Read More
Nov 12 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Seeking punitive damages in California drunk driving accident cases

In motor vehicle personal injury or wrongful death cases where the responsible driver was allegedly intoxicated, the injured plaintiff may want to consider seeking an award of punitive (or exemplary) damages against that driver. While the defendant’s insurer bears no obligation to pay such damages, sometimes the presence of such a claim can create a…

Read More
Aug 24 by Ralph L. Jacobson

California’s doctrine of primary assumption of the risk: what, when, and how far?

California’s “primary assumption of the risk” doctrine was first set forth in Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal.4th 296. That case involved a plaintiff’s claim for personal injuries sustained when the defendant knocked her over and stepped on her finger while they were playing touch football. At issue was how the courts should apply the…

Read More
May 12 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Further thoughts on liability and compensation issues for ‘self-driving’ cars

In a recent blog article, we suggested that the preferential tool for dealing with insurance, liability and compensation issues arising from the use of driverless cars would be one most in tune with, and least disruptive of, the civil justice system’s current operation. We noted that one way to implement that goal would be an…

Read More
Apr 06 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Baby, you can drive my “self-driving” car: but what if it hits somebody?

photo credit: 2420 via photopin (license) It is clear that the object of romantic interest in the Beatles’ song never anticipated a self-driving (“autonomous”) car; but as that technology gets closer to becoming a commercial reality, minds are starting to boggle about the insurance and tort liability implications. A recent Wall Street Journal article1 opines…

Read More
Dec 12 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Tort claimants’ liability for decedent’s pre-death medical expenses

In California tort litigation arising from a wrongful death, the question often arises as to whether plaintiff claimants bear legal responsibility for the pre-death medical expenses of their decedent. Frequently, this question arises in the context of the presentation, during litigation, of a lien by a health care provider, such as Medi-Cal, a hospital, or…

Read More
Dec 04 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Public access to court records vs. litigant privacy: leveling the playing field

Pursuant to Rule of Court 2.550(c) and its predecessor, California court records have long been “presumed to be open” to the public, absent exceptions for confidentiality required by law. But even ten or fifteen years ago, accessing civil court records in California and elsewhere was an arduous task. It took a great deal of effort…

Read More
May 20 by Ralph L. Jacobson

The legal liability of a social host in California

It happens more than it should. Someone (here we will call her Ms. H.) invites some friends, maybe a lot of friends and maybe their friends as well, to a social gathering, where food and drink, lots of drink, is provided. Something bad happens, either to one of the guests at the party, or maybe…

Read More