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California girl awarded millions for the death of her family

Previous postings in this blog have discussed the dangers involved when large commercial motor vehicles collide with other, smaller cars with which they are sharing the road. An accident that occurred in November of 2009 is a perfect example of how tragic these accidents can be. The recent decision by the court system regarding this fatal accident is also a good example of the compensation injured parties may be able to recover.

The accident occurred when the family was driving their SUV down the freeway while on their way to visit relatives in Oregon to celebrate Thanksgiving. A semi-truck was parked illegally in an area on the freeway that was designated for emergencies only and the family’s SUV crashed into the back of it.

Two of the children that were passengers in the SUV were able to crawl out a broken rear window and survived. Unfortunately, both of their parents as well as their brother were not able to get out of the vehicle before dying. In June, the boy who had survived the accident committed suicide.

The girl, now 13 years old, had filed a lawsuit against the truck driver and the trucking company for the death of her family. They claimed that the driver’s negligence in illegally parking in an emergency zone caused the accident and therefore the death of her family. The truck driver provided multiple conflicting accounts for why he had pulled over, including going to the bathroom and sleeping, neither of which are considered emergencies.

After three days of deliberation, the jury determined that the girl was entitled to $150 million in compensation for the loss of a loved one. Of that $150 million, $8.75 million was awarded in damages to her brother, which will now go to her. The award will remain in a trust fund for the young girl.

When death is caused by another party’s negligence it is important that the party is held accountable for their actions. Although nothing will bring back this young girl’s family, it is good to see that she has finally received the compensation she deserves.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Jury awards $150 million to girl whose family died in crash,” James Barragan, Oct. 29, 2013

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