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Puerta and Torres Case Case Study

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Updated: Dec 11th, 2019

Facts

In Puerta v. Torres (Cal. Ct. App. – May 25, 2011), Antonio Puerta alleged that Anna Berta Torres had injured him and damaged his vehicle after a motor vehicle accident that occurred on June 19, 2007. Therefore, Puerta sought payment due to the injuries and damages arising from the accident. During the day of the accident, Puerta was driving his car when Torres’ car stopped near his car.

Torres’ car was about one yard from Puerta’s car. While turning into the gas station entrance, Torres was unable to complete the turn. Therefore, she reversed to complete the turn. While reversing, she hit the front of Puerta’s car. Puerta claimed that he honked his car to alert Torres. However, this did not prevent her from hitting his car at a speed of approximately 30 miles per hour.

Torres continued driving after hitting Puerta. Puerta followed her as he thought she was running away from the scene of the accident. Puerta confronted Torres and claimed that she had hit his car. However, Torres disputed the claims. Torres called the police claiming that Puerta approached her aggressively.

Torres photographed both cars before the police came to the scene of the accident. Puerta claimed that Torres’ actions showed that she was guilty of the offense. Running from the scene of the accident was one of the actions that convinced Puerta that Torres was guilty. Puerta claimed that Torres thought that the accident was so small. Therefore, it did not warrant the exchange insurance information (Anon para 16).

Puerta alleged that the accident injured his neck and arm. In addition, the accident damaged his vehicle. However, Puerta did not seek medical care shortly after the accident. He sought medical care approximately one week later while he was in Spain. He claimed that he was feeling pain in his arm and neck. However, doctors did not prove that the pain was due to the accident.

Issues

The case presents issues on admission of liability by a party in an accident. Puerta claimed that Torres’ actions after the accident showed that she was guilty of the offense. She did not go to the gas station after hitting Puerta’s car. Instead, she drove to an alley behind the gas station.

In addition, by claiming that the accident was trivial and did not warrant the exchange of insurance details, Torres admitted that an accident occurred.

Puerta did not claim that he felt any pain on his arms or neck soon after the accident. He sought medical treatment approximately one week later. Puerta claimed that Torres did not provide an offer that included acceptance. Therefore, the court passed a wrong judgment in awarding the defendant $5,350 in expert witness fees.

Holding

The court held that Puerta failed to prove that Torres had committed the offense. He did not provide consistent evidence. On the other hand, Torres provided evidence that was consistent with the events that took place after the accident. However, the court reversed the ruling by Orange County Superior Court that granted Torres the right to claim $5,350 in expert witness fees.

Opinion

Puerta and Torres were involved in a road accident. Puerta took Torres to court claiming that her negligence led to the accident. However, after a trial that took one day, the court ruled in favor of Torres. Puerta appealed the ruling claiming that the court failed to provide a sufficient statement for its ruling. In addition, he claimed that the court did not provide enough evidence for its ruling. Therefore, the court erred in granting Torres costs under section 998 and section 1033 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Anon para 10).

Puerta claimed that Torres did not comply with section 998 of the Code of Civil procedure. The code requires the accepting party to sign the acceptance statement. This enables the court to determine if a party has accepted an offer. In the case, Torres did not provide a form that contained a line about acceptance (Martin para 2). Therefore, the California Court of Appeal reversed the Orange County Superior Court’s decision to award Torres costs.

Analysis

The events that took place showed that Torres was not guilty of the offense. Torres claimed that she had stopped while turning to a gas station due to the oncoming traffic. Torres claimed that she was following her daughter who was inside the gas station. In addition, she claimed that she did not engage reverse during the entire occasion.

Therefore, there was no way that she could have hit Puerta’s car. She claimed that she went behind the gas station to wait for her daughter. It is a fact that Torres is the one who called the police after the accident. Torres claimed that Puerta approached her aggressively.

She photographed both cars before police came to the accident scene. The photographs showed that the two vehicles did not have any damage. In fact, the police officer who went to the scene of the accident claimed that she did not notice any damages on the vehicle due to the accident. Therefore, the photographs were a strong piece of evidence.

After an accident, it is vital for an individual to seek medical treatment. Seeking medical treatment enables an individual to determine the extent of injuries that might have occurred due to the accident (Morissette 69). However, Puerta did not seek medical care shortly after the accident.

Instead, he sought medical treatment approximately one week later in Spain. In addition, Puerta did not claim that he felt any pain immediately after the accident. This made it difficult to prove that the injuries occurred due to the accident. Other accidents that occurred between the date of the accident and the day Puerta sought medical treatment may have caused the injuries. Therefore, Puerta may have sued Torres to benefit from non-existent injuries.

In addition, the fact that Puerta sought treatment approximately one week after the accident shows that he may have sued her after an afterthought. Puerta may have used the accident as a scapegoat to get payment. Reports from medical practitioners showed that Puerta got injuries from a previous accident. However, delay in seeking medical treatment made it difficult to pinpoint the accident. If Puerta had sought medical treatment immediately after the accident, he would have proved that the accident caused the injuries.

Torres made a CCP 998 offer that did not contain a line on acceptance. Acceptance helps in settling disputes between two parties. Failure to provide a line on acceptance invalidates the offer (Martin para 3). Therefore, the California Court of Appeal reversed the decision to award costs to Torres. However, the court did not find that Torres caused the accident.

Works Cited

Anon. “Puerta v. Torres.” FindLaw, 2011. Web.

Martin, Shaun. “Puerta v. Torres.” California Appellate Report, 2011. Web.

Morissette, Emily Lynch. Personal injury and the law of torts for paralegals. Aspen New York: Publishers, 2008. Print.

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