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Riverside girl wins wrongful death lawsuit against trucker


The loss of a loved one in a car accident caused by a negligent or reckless driver can be devastating, particularly if it is a child who loses their parents. Recently, a jury in California has awarded a 13-year-old Riverside girl $150 million for the wrongful death of her mother, father and brother. The lawsuit stemmed from a 2009 auto accident in which the SUV the girl's family was traveling in slammed into the back of a semi-truck illegally parked on the shoulder of the 210 Freeway. The stretch of freeway in question only allowed emergency stopping, but the truck driver had stopped to sleep and failed to turn on any lights to alert other motorists of his presence. Though the truck driver claimed he had stopped to take medication for a severe headache and thus he was stopped for an emergency, the jury found his claim unpersuasive.

Losing a loved one to a preventable auto crash like this is tragic and can leave the surviving family reeling for understanding, comfort, support and closure. In the above-mentioned case, for example, the girl will be forced to grow up without her parents' love and emotional and financial support, her brother's companionship and understanding and without the memories that could have been.

Though a lost loved one cannot be brought back, a wrongful death lawsuit may help bring closure and compensation to help cover a surviving family's damages. A wrongful death attorney can work with the family to help them understand the process and what their legal options include. Then, the attorney may either seek to negotiate a settlement with the individual responsible for the deceased's death, or, if negotiations fail, he or she may zealously represent the family in court.

To win a wrongful death lawsuit at trial, a family usually must show the defendant was negligent and that negligence caused the deceased's death. This may require the attorney to gather witness testimony, analyze accident reports and apply relevant laws.

Success on one of these claims may help the family obtain a sense of justice. Awards sought may take the form of medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, funeral costs and loss of companionship. Hopefully, through a successful lawsuit, the surviving family will be able to live their lives while remembering the wonderful times they spent with their loved one.

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

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