Semitruck Crash Award Exceeds $1 Million
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. News was released on August 30 that a jury awarded the family of a California man killed in a semitruck crash in 2012 an award of $1.2 million in this case of wrongful death that involved a collision between two semitrucks.
The crash occurred back in August 2012 in Nebraska at about 4:20 in the afternoon along Interstate 80 when a semi, driven by a 70-year-old man from Neenah, Wisconsin, slowed down his vehicle near the exit for Bradshaw because of emergency vehicles and was rear-ended by a Yuba City resident, 28-year-old Singh Atinderpal, who was driving a second truck. Fire departments from Henderson, Bradshaw and York were working at extinguishing a fire that had occurred on the grass in the median strip nearby at the time of the crash. Atinderpal died at the accident scene after being thrown out of his vehicle.
The federal jury in the case awarded the family of Atinderpal $2.25 million in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Atinderpal’s estate. According to the lawsuit, the driver of the first semi, who worked for Ecklund Logistics, had exhibited negligence by becoming distracted and making a lane change that was illegal, which contributed to the accident and the death of the other truck driver. The trial over the matter lasted for four days in an Omaha court. Because Atinderpal was found 45- percent responsible for the accident, the amount awarded in compensation was reduced to $1,237,500.
California is a pure comparative negligence state, and the jury award for the case above demonstrates that an accident victim in comparative negligence states, even if that person is responsible for part of an accident, is still able to receive compensation for damages. This means that each person in an accident is liable for an injury he or she caused. In this sense, if a defendant is responsible for driving through a stop sign and hitting a vehicle in the intersection, the driver would be 100 percent liable. But, let’s say that the plaintiff, or person who was hit in the crash, was speeding at the time the crash occurred. It could be reasonably argued that the plaintiff’s disregard for the rules of the road was 20 percent responsible for the crash. In this case, the defendant would only be liable for 80 percent of the costs of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Under California Law, an individual who has suffered a personal injury has two years in which to file against the responsible person or entity in order to claim damages under the Statute of Limitations. Claims submitted after the two-year period expires will not be heard by the court. Having an attorney who is aware of the time limits imposed by the state will make sure your case is able to be brought to court in a timely manner.
Effect of Comparative Negligence
The effect this rule of law has is to enable a plaintiff or his or her estate to collect damages against someone who was partially responsible for the accident. The first year comparative negligence was considered in California courts was 1975 in a case where a plaintiff crossed more than one lane of traffic when their vehicle was struck by another vehicle that was moving above the speed limit. The court decided that the use of comparative negligence was appropriate.
Wrongful Death Cases Involving Comparative Negligence
When a family member dies due to the negligence of another, even if the negligence was only partially responsible for the person’s death, the family members are still able to collect the damages for which their loved one was not responsible. In the case described above, the fact that the truck driver who hit the lead semi from behind was partially at fault did not disallow his family from collecting damages. The amount of the award was simply reduced.
In cases where an individual was killed due to the fault of another, the family can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. A wrongful death lawsuit has several elements:
- A family member died in the accident
- The person’s death was due to negligence
- The decedent’s family is under financial distress due to the person’s death
- A representative is available to represent the family
Pecuniary damages may be awarded as well as the cost of end of life services, including burial and funeral costs, medical expenses and loss of inheritance. In addition, if the decedent did not die immediately after the accident but suffered and was aware that he or she would die imminently, the family can also include a survivor action. This means that the personal injury suffered by the deceased outlives his or her death.
Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. Losing a loved one is a horrific experience that can be compounded when the death was caused by the negligence of another person. If you have lost a loved one through negligence, give me a phone call at (916) 921-6400 or on my toll-free line (800) 404-5400. I am here to offer you my advice, which is both free and friendly.
See my Verdicts and Settlements.
I have 35 years of experience as a California injury lawyer. It has been my privilege to have served many Californians, including Sacramento residents, in obtaining just compensation for their wrongful death and traumatic injury claims.
I belong to a group called the Million Dollar Advocates. This forum only allows those trial lawyers who have garnered at least $1 million in trial verdicts or case settlements for their clients to join. I am pleased to be a California member.
As founder/owner of autoaccident.com, I invite you to look around my website to find comprehensive and informative articles about personal injuries.
Photo Attribution: PRA (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], by way of Wikimedia Commons
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