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CalFire Captain Killed in Los Banos Head-On Crash

CalFire Captain Killed in Los Banos Head-On Crash

A CalFire captain and one other person were killed in a Los Banos head-on crash on the morning of October 2, 2019. The collision was reported to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) shortly after 7:00 a.m. It occurred along Highway 140 near Gustine, just north of Los Banos. Authorities said a motorist of a westbound Dodge Ram truck was involved in a head-on collision with an eastbound Ford Ranger. The impact of the crash reportedly caused the Dodge Ram to overturn along the south shoulder of the highway while the Ford Ranger veered out of control and caught fire. The car accident also involved a Ford Crown Victoria carrying two occupants, both of which suffered minor injuries. Sadly, both drivers of the Ford and the Dodge pickups were pronounced deceased at the scene.

Loved One Forever Remembered

The Ford Ranger driver was identified as CalFire captain, 36-year-old Paul Rotondaro. A spokesperson for Merced County CalFire said Mr. Rotondaro had just left the fire station in Gustine when the crash happened. Prior to starting his career with CalFire in 2006, Mr. Rotondaro took pride in serving the communities of Merced, Mariposa, and Madera. Those who knew and loved him say he lived life to the fullest and was deeply dedicated to the fire service and his community. He is survived by his wife, 13-year-old daughter, and 16-month-old son. Moreover, a GoFundMe page has been established to help the Rotondaro family in their time of loss.

Wrongful Death in a Los Banos Head-On Crash

Wrongful death is defined as a loss of life due to the recklessness or negligence of someone else. In the case of a car accident, a loved one’s wrongful death may be the fault of another driver, an auto manufacturer for a vehicle defect, or even the government entity responsible for the upkeep of the roadways. In either of these situations, a family may seek recourse through a wrongful death claim to hold negligent parties financially accountable for their loved one’s untimely passing.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out in a Los Banos Head-On Crash?

A settlement for a wrongful death case is usually offered by the negligent driver’s insurance company. They take into account the intangible and financial harms a family has suffered due to a loved one’s wrongful death, such as:

  • Costs of medical care required to treat the deceased before his or her passing
  • Expenses for a loved one’s funeral and burial
  • Lost wages the deceased was earning, including the loss of future financial support for the family
  • Loss of parental guidance and training the decedent would have provided to surviving children had he or she reached his or her anticipated life expectancy
  • Mental anguish and emotional suffering caused by the wrongful death car accident
  • Services that the deceased would have provided to the household, such as lawn maintenance and childcare

Understanding how a wrongful death case works may be challenging, particularly when coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. For a breakdown of these types of claims, watch the following video.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

In California, specific relatives of the decedent may bring a wrongful death case. This includes spouses, domestic partners, and children. Under the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60, there may be some exceptions for eligibility if such parties do not exist. Any individual who was dependent on the deceased might be able to conduct a claim, such as parents, stepchildren, putative spouse, and children from the putative spouse. Any minor who lived with the decedent for 180 days before his or her death and was financially dependent for at least 50 percent may also be eligible to file for wrongful death.

How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Help Our Family?

After a wrongful death auto accident, insurance companies of negligent drivers will act quickly to minimize their financial exposure for wrongful death cases. They may do so by using tactics to limit the amount of compensation they offer to survivors. In times like these, a family should be focused on mourning instead of dealing with unsympathetic insurance claims adjusters who do not take into account how much a loved one meant to his or her family. This is why a family needs to have an experienced attorney at their side. A family can rest assured knowing their attorney will protect them from insurers who may take advantage of them during their time of loss and grief.

Merced Wrongful Death Attorneys

I’m Ed Smith, a Merced wrongful death lawyer. When a loved one is lost in a car accident, it may create an overwhelming emotional hardship for surviving family members. This is especially true if the crash was caused by the negligence of another. If this situation applies to you and your family, you may benefit from the insight and assistance of an experienced attorney. Please call me anytime at (209) 227-1931 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 to receive my compassionate, free, and friendly advice.

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As a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, I join other lawyers who have helped their clients obtain $1 million or more through a case settlement or verdict. I am also proud to belong to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel, an organization that promotes the top one percent of lawyers nationwide.

Since 1982, I have helped families of Merced County with their personal injury and wrongful death cases to obtain the compensation they deserve. To see the results of cases our law firm has previously handled, go to our Verdicts and Settlements page.

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