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UPDATE: Carol Major Killed In Santa Clara Lyft Car Accident on Lawrence Expressway


Aug 27, 2019

Carol Major Santa Clara: Carol Major Killed In Santa Clara Lyft Car Accident on Lawrence Expressway

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA (August 27, 2019) – A 28-year-old Apple employee and UC Berkeley graduate identified as Carol Major has tragically died in a car accident while riding in a Lyft on the Lawrence Expressway. 

Santa Clara police are saying that a car thief ran a red light and hit the Lyft car that Carol Major was a passenger in. Police were pursuing the suspect but called off the pursuit just minutes before the accident. 

The suspect is believed to have stolen a 1996 Honda Accord from the parking lot of a strip mall. Police put spike strips underneath the car hoping to disable the Honda and capture the suspect early. 

But the spike strips failed and allowed the suspect to escape. Sunnyvale officials decided not to pursue because the suspect was traveling too fast. 

It was shortly after this that the suspect ran a red light a broadsided the Lyft carrying Carol Major and one other passenger as it was turning left. Paramedics rushed to the scene of the accident in order to help all of the victims. 

Carol Major was transported to the hospital with serious injuries. Despite life-saving efforts she later died as a result of the crash. The other passenger in the Lyft as well as the driver were also seriously injured. 

Police arrested the suspect on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter. Any person that may have witnessed the collision is encouraged to call Traffic Investigator Nick Cusimano at (408) 615-4764.

Lyft Car Accident Statistics

According to a new study conducted by the University of Chicago and Rice University, Uber and Lyft have been behind a sharp increase in US traffic deaths. “Researchers took statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and compared them with the dates Uber or Lyft launched in a specific city. Then they checked accident rates in those cities relative to vehicle miles traveled. That rate shot up in San Francisco after Uber launched in 2010, a phenomenon that was replicated in other cities.,” according to one review of the study. 

This has been due in part to the fact that Uber and Lyft drivers spend around 40% to 60% of their time searching for new passengers. In order to help alleviate the burden this has put on cities Lyft and Uber both offer $1,000,000 liability limits to protect passengers. According to Lyft’s website, “Our primary liability insurance is designed to act as the primary coverage from the time you accept a ride request until the time the ride has ended in the app. The policy has a $1,000,000 per accident limit.” Depending on the facts of any particular accident there may be numerous sources of liability for an accident involving a ride-share vehicle for Lyft or Uber. 

Liability In Lyft and Uber Car Accidents

A federal judge has held that ride-share companies like Uber can be considered “common carriers” under the law. Drivers are therefore held to a very high standard in terms of safety. According to Squaw Valley Ski Corporation v. Superior Court, “The elevated standard of care for common carriers is “based on a recognition that the privilege of serving the public as a common carrier necessarily entails great responsibility, requiring common carriers to exercise a high duty of care towards their customers.” In order for  passengers to be covered in an accident the driver would have to have the app on and be in the middle of transport. 

In many situations, however, there may be numerous sources of liability aside from a ride-share company like Uber and Lyft. Companies that manufacturer products like spike strips have a legal responsibility to make sure their products are reasonably safe. Products like spike strips can be defective under three broad categories:

  • Design Defects – These are inherent to a product and exist before it is manufactured. 
  • Manufacturing Defects – These occur when there are defects in the creation of a product.
  • Marketing Defects – These occur when companies fail to warn about the non-obvious dangers of a product. 

If a spike strip fails to puncture a car’s tires and lets a suspect escape this may be due to a design defect. Supposing that this were the case, the company that manufactured the spike strips may face civil liability if there is an accident. Similarly, a police department may also face civil liability for an accident if they were pursuing a suspect and that suspect crashed into another vehicle. 

Generally speaking, police departments have a great deal of immunity for accidents involving vehicle pursuits under Vehicle Code § 17004.7. As clarified in California Supreme Court case  Ramirez v. Gardena (2018 Cal. LEXIS 5750), police departments must fulfill the following requirements in order to be granted immunity for accidents during vehicle pursuits:

  • They must have a written policy that addresses the 13 subjects in Vehicle Code § 17004.7
  • They must provide officers with “regular and periodic” training about when police pursuits are allowed. 
  • They must promulgate policy regarding acceptable police pursuit tactics and have officers certify in writing that they have read and understand it. 

If a police department fails to meet these requirements they could be open to civil liability in the event of a crash. The family of any victim that died may be able to seek justice through California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60. Damages in a civil claim can help cover funeral expenses, medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Claimants in a civil matter may include a victim’s parents, children, spouse and siblings. A Lyft accident attorney can investigate the specific facts of any accident and let you know what your legal options are. 

Investigating A Lyft Car Accident

We at West Coast Trial Lawyers extend our deepest condolences to the family of Carol Major. Any person that may have seen the accident should come forward and speak with Santa Clara police officials. It is our sincere hope that measures will be put in place to help prevent accidents like this in the future. Cars are material objects that can be replaced unlike people. It is not worth it for the police to put lives in danger over material objects. Every single officer should understand this and take it to heart. 

If you or someone that you care about has been involved in a Lyft car accident you may have legal recourse. Our team of personal injury attorneys are here to answer any legal questions that you may have. We are committed to making sure that accident victims are aware of their rights so that they can make informed decisions. Whether you need a free, independent investigation into a particular incident or would like a free police report about a particular event we are here for you. You’re always welcome to reach out to us anytime at (888) 888-9285. 

UPDATE: Carol Major Killed In Santa Clara Lyft Car Accident on Lawrence Expressway

UPDATE: Carol Major Killed In Santa Clara Lyft Car Accident on Lawrence Expressway

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