Initial press reports regarding an auto accident can be sparse on the facts and even inaccurate in what they do report. With respect to car accidents in California, and other states for that matter, one should not generally make conclusions from short news articles that obviously present a brief summary and nothing else. That being said, a brief news report regarding a recent car crash near Lancaster may nonetheless give a good picture of the allocation of liability between the parties.
If the general scenario of reported facts turns out to be accurate, there will be little doubt that the accident was caused by a driver who veered suddenly into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The crash occurred near Avenue D and the southbound 14 Freeway onramp, according to the California Highway Patrol. A car driven by a 37-year-old male of Palmdale was traveling westbound when it suddenly turned left into the path of an oncoming car driven by a 61-year-old female.
The Highway Patrol reports that the male driver was ejected from his car on impact and that his two female passengers, ages 36 and 37, were pronounced dead at the scene. In addition, a toddler in the car was taken to a hospital where she was declared dead. Both drivers were hospitalized with critical injuries.
Under these facts, the male driver is legally responsible for causing the accident and is liable to the decedent estates for wrongful death damages under California law. He is also liable to the injured driver for her damages. In car accidents of this magnitude, however, it is unlikely that the tortfeasor had adequate insurance to fully compensate the victims. In such cases, the victims’ own auto insurance policies and possibly other policies in their household must be consulted. The best way to assure that all insurance sources are identified is to consult with a personal injury attorney with experience in serious injury and death cases.
Source: abc7.com, “2 women, toddler killed in car crash near Lancaster“, June 19, 2016