California Teen Sentenced in Fatal Car Accident

A California teenager recently received the maximum sentence for a car accident that killed a father and his 9-year-old daughter. The fatal accident occurred in Concord while the father and daughter were riding their bicycles on a sidewalk. Another daughter suffered minor injuries in the accident. The teen will be released when he reaches the age of 21 because he was convicted as a minor.

The court noted that the teen had a history of driving and disciplinary problems prior to the accident. He admitted to two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter and a misdemeanor count for reckless driving.

Authorities said the teen was driving a Cadillac Escalade at 72 mph in a 45 mph speed zone. He reportedly made an unsafe lane change just prior to the accident. Investigators reported that the teen was not texting and driving, nor was he under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In addition to criminal charges, a negligent driver such as the teen in this story may be held responsible for his actions in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Such a cause of action arises when a person is injured or killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another.

In order to file a wrongful death claim, several elements must be met. A person's death must have been caused by another person's negligence or misconduct. The surviving family members must have also suffered a monetary loss as a result of their loved one's death. Lastly, a probate estate must be opened and a personal representative appointed.

The loss of a loved one is devastating, but at the very least a victim's family members may be entitled to compensation for their loss. A variety of damages may be awarded in a wrongful death suit. Damages may include loss of support, services, medical expenses and funeral costs.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Youth sentenced for killing 2 in crash," Henry K. Lee, Oct. 22, 2012

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