On January 3, 2018, Jeffrey Levi slammed into the rear-end of a Toyota sedan on Interstate 15 in San Diego. He was reportedly driving at a speed of more than 100 MPH at the time of the collision. His vehicle veered down an embankment, while the Toyota remained on the highway.
Shortly after the crash, an off-duty police officer slammed into the back of the disabled Toyota. The Toyota burst into flames. Two of the passengers in the Toyota were killed and another was severely injured.
Levi was arrested on suspicion of DUI and for his role in the San Diego car accident. Tests revealed that his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .167 percent, more than twice the legal limit. In addition to facing criminal charges for the accident, Levi is also named as a defendant in several personal injury lawsuits.
Defendant Seeks to Shift Blame For Fatal Crash
Nearly a year after the accident, Levi is attempting to shift some of the blame away from him. He argues that the off-duty police officer was negligent and shares some of the responsibility for the fatal crash. Specifically, he claims that the officer “struck a disabled vehicle on the freeway causing the death of two occupants and injuries to the third.”
In other words, Levi argues that the deaths and injuries caused by the accident were not his fault. Instead, he points the finger at the off duty officer who, in his opinion, should have been able to avoid a collision with the Toyota.
Shifting Blame as a Tactic to Reduce Liability
Why would a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit try to shift blame to another person? The answer is simple: liability. You are liable for another person’s injuries if your negligent or wrongful actions cause them to get hurt. Here, Levi is accused of causing the deaths of two individuals and injuries suffered by a third. Why? He drove drunk, sped, and slammed into the back of their car on a busy San Diego highway.
If there were no other contributing factors in the case, he would be entirely at fault for the accident. As a result, he’d be liable for 100 percent of the damages suffered by the victims and their families. However, if there were other contributing factors, Levi may not be on the hook for all of the damages.
In California, anyone who contributes to an accident or injury can be liable for damages. When more than one person is to blame, liability is shared between them. This is known as comparative negligence. The less fault you share for an accident or injury, the less liability you share. Liability is directly associated with how much money you’ll owe to victims and/or their families.
Here, Levi claims that the deaths and injuries resulting from the accident aren’t entirely his fault. He argues that the off duty police officer and San Diego Police Department share some of the blame. If these arguments are successful, the officer and agency will also be responsible for some of the victims’ monetary damages.
Example. Let’s say that it’s determined that Levi is 80 percent responsible for the fatal and injury-causing crash. However, a jury also believes that the off-duty officer could have avoided the chain-reaction collision that ultimately killed and injured the Toyota passengers. They assign 20 percent of the fault to the officer and police department. Levi will now only be responsible for 80 percent of the victims’ damages, rather than all 100 percent. The officer and police department would be on the hook for the remaining 20 percent.
It’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer in San Diego if you’re accused of sharing some of the blame for an accident. Call Injury Trial Lawyers, APC to find out how we can help protect you and your right to recover compensation.