Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

filippo-ascione-161021-copy-300x200Following a deadly charter bus accident in August 2016, Merced County district attorneys have brought multiple charges against the driver, Mario David Vasquez. A law enforcement investigation uncovered Vasquez was overly tired, talking on his cell phone, and violating multiple commercial regulations at the time of the crash, which led to four fatalities. Due to the evidence of Vasquez’s negligent actions while behind the wheel, he has been charged with four counts of vehicular manslaughter and five misdemeanor traffic violations.

While Vasquez faces criminal charges, he and his employer, Auto Buses Coordinados USA, could also face civil wrongful death suits based on his actions. If the families of those lost in the charter bus crash can prove the driver’s negligence, they may be able to obtain compensation for their losses.

California’s Wrongful Death Law

christina-sicoli-19892-copy-300x212William Sachs Goldman, 38, passed away in July after his small personal aircraft crashed for an unknown reason. Goldman was an assistant professor of international studies at the University of San Francisco. He was the son of Richard Goldman and Susan Sachs Goldman, and the grandson of well-known philanthropists Richard N. and Rhoda Goldman, who established the Goldman Environmental Prize. As a member of a philanthropic family, Goldman and his wife were on numerous institution’s boards.

Small Plane Accident to be Investigated

Goldman was one of four passengers in the single-engine Cirrus SR22 plane, which crashed in a field in Schell Vista, southwest of Sonoma Skypark Airport. Goldman’s two minor children, George and Marie, and their caretaker, Valeria Anselmi, were the other passengers. They were all taken to local hospitals to treat their serious injuries.

yaoqi-lai-227961-copy-300x200The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced on July 11 that inmate Frank Anaya, 22, who worked as a firefighter in San Diego County, passed away from work-related injuries. While fighting a grass fire on July 5, Anaya severely cut his leg with a chainsaw. Other firefighters on the scene provided care and CPR until he was taken to a nearby hospital. Anaya’s femoral artery was cut and he underwent multiple surgeries. Unfortunately, he did not recover from his injuries and passed away at the hospital.

A Previous Death for Inmate Firefighters

This is not the first inmate firefighter death in California this year. On May 24, Matthew Beck, 26, was clearing brush in Humboldt County with his firefighter crew when a 120-foot tree fell on him. He suffered serious head, neck, and back injuries and died before emergency crews could reach him. It is now known that the radio used by prison supervisors was unable to connect with emergency authorities. A supervisor attempted to use a mobile radio in a Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) emergency vehicle, which too had difficulties connecting to emergency officials. The supervisor had to drive a quarter mile down the road before being able to contact the command center.

samuel-zeller-118195-copy-300x200On Wednesday, June 14, a gunman opened fire in a United Parcel Service facility in San Francisco, killing three people and wounding two others before he killed himself. The shooter has been described as a UPS driver and was dressed in a company uniform at the time. Unfortunately, violence is committed by unhappy workers all too often. This violence leads to unnecessary injuries and fatalities that other workers and their families are left to deal with. In situations like these, the wounded employees and their families may have the right to pursue workers’ compensation claims with their employers and personal injury or wrongful death suits against the deceased gunman’s estate.

Filing a Lawsuit Against the Offender’s Estate

When an accident or violent act leads to the death of the at-fault party, the victims of the incident may worry that they can no longer recover the compensation they deserve. For instance, the individuals wounded in the San Francisco UPS shooting may worry about gaining compensation for their physical, emotional, and financial injuries. The families of those who were killed in such an incident may now wonder whether they can pursue a wrongful death claim and gain compensation for their injuries. The answer is yes, it is possible. California allows individuals injured by carelessness, recklessness, and intentional misconduct to pursue compensation from the at-fault party’s estate.

justin-luebke-43166-copy-300x200In early May, three men were involved in a deadly accident on Highway 168 between Auberry and Shaver Lake. The men were in a Chevrolet Avalanche truck, which rolled 200 to 300 feet down an embankment on the side of the highway. Two men from Clovis, aged 19 and 20, were ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. A third man, 24, was still within the vehicle, possibly up to 12 hours after the crash. Once he was extricated, he was airlifted to a Fresno-area hospital.

The tragic accident is also under investigation as a possible intentional act, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation’s direction was guided after statements made by the survivor of the accident rose some red flags for law enforcement officers.

A Wrongful Death Claim Following a Crash

hogarth-de-la-plante-17754-copy-300x179On May 1, the San Francisco Bay Area experienced at least three fatal traffic accidents between midnight and 5 in the morning. The first accident took place on Highway 880 in San Leandro, just south of Marina Boulevard. Two vehicles were part of the initial collision, though a total of four vehicles were involved. The driver of one vehicle died at the scene while another driver was taken to the hospital with major injuries. The other motorists were uninjured.

The second incident was on Highway 101 in San Francisco. A pedestrian walking within a crosswalk was hit by a motorist who lost control of his vehicle. Initial reports are that the motorist left the scene but later reported hitting the pedestrian through 911 and has been interviewed by investigators. There is no evidence that the driver was intoxicated at the time and no arrest has been made.

The third accident was also on Highway 880, but this time in Oakland. Three vehicles were involved in the crash and one of the vehicles caught on fire. Two individuals were killed, a 34-year-old man and a 4-year-old girl who was not properly restrained in a child safety seat. An initial statement by the California Highway Patrol said one of the diver’s may face charges for the unrestrained child’s death. Other passengers, including a 2-year-old girl, were hospitalized.                                                                

102abqkkhby-rezaul-karim-200x300A vehicle crashed into a Muni bus stand, injuring 10 people, several of them critically. The accident occurred on Stockton Street in Chinatown. The crash is under investigation. According to reports, the crash happened when a driver lost control of her vehicle. First, the car hit a parked vehicle and a moving car before careening into the bus stop enclosure. The crash happened on December 22, 2016.

Injuries Due to the Crash

Many people suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident. Reportedly, injuries included broken bones, head and neck injuries, and back injuries. An elderly woman suffered fractures to her pelvis, ribs, and leg. Most victims are expected to make a full recovery, but several were initially listed in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

800px-Peanut_Butter_TextureThe family of a 13-year-old girl who suddenly and tragically died after an allergic reaction brought on by consuming a snack containing peanut butter have settled their suit against the City of Sacramento and Camp Sacramento for several million dollars. According to the suit, the girl went into anaphylactic shock after consuming a Rice Krispies treat that contained peanut butter. According to the suit, the peanut butter had been mixed in with the other ingredients so that it would not have been noticeable by sight or by taste. There was also no warning label placed near the treats that would have alerted someone that peanut butter was present in the snack.

Settling Wrongful Death Cases is a Heart-Wrenching Experience

News reports do not disclose the reason the family decided to settle their case against the city. Nonetheless, the decision to settle any personal injury case – especially one involving the sudden death of a loved one – is not a decision many plaintiffs enter into lightly. By settling, plaintiffs may feel as if they are somehow letting the responsible party “off the hook” or allowing them to escape full accountability for their actions. However, settling a case may make sense when:

Jim_CarreyFamous actor and comedian Jim Carrey was named as the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estranged husband of Cathriona White. Ms. White and Mr. Carrey were involved in a dating relationship despite the fact that Ms. White was still married to her husband at the time. Ms. White committed suicide in 2015 by overdosing on several prescription medications. Now, Ms. White’s husband Mark Burton is claiming is claiming Carrey should pay compensation for causing and/or contributing to Ms. White’s death.

California Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The typical personal injury plaintiff prevails in his or her personal injury lawsuit if he or she can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (that is, more likely than not) that the defendant named in the suit acted in an irresponsible or careless manner and that this behavior caused the injured plaintiff’s losses and injuries. Wrongful death lawsuits in California are similar in that the plaintiff alleges the named defendant’s careless or (sometimes) intentional acts caused a person’s death. The main difference between a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit is the identity of the plaintiff: Whereas the injury victim him- or herself is the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit is usually the spouse, partner, or child of the decedent.

There are many benefits to living in California.  We have gorgeous weather, wonderful people, and beautiful natural spaces that range from beaches to mountains and deserts to forests.  Of course, there are downsides and perhaps the most-voiced concern (aside from cost of living!) is the ever-present risk of earthquakes.  While earthquakes are a natural phenomenon, the actions or inaction of people/entities can add to the risk of injury or property damage.  At the Brod Law Firm, our Northern California earthquake lawyer helps people bring civil lawsuits after a California earthquake.  These include suits against various parties whose negligence had tragic results as well as suits against insurance companies who deny valid claims.

Major Earthquakes Strike Italy and Myanmar Bringing Tragedy to Two Nations

This week, the world was reminded of the havoc and tragedy that earthquakes can unleash.  As CNN reported, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy in the early hours of Wednesday August 24.  Early reports put the death toll at 73 (Note: The number has since increased to at least 241.).  The mayor of Amatrice, where most of the fatalities occurred, told CNN: “The town is no more.”  At least 100 people were injured.  Officials expect death and injury tolls to rise in as rescuers dig through the rubble.  The risk is far from over as aftershocks are expected to roll through in the coming days.