On the highway little mistakes can quickly turn into big mistakes and then into outright disasters. One recent California accident led to a chain of car accidents that took the life of a male driver who made the impulsive decision to get out of his car in the middle of highway traffic after getting in an accident. The man was driving a Toyota Solara on the 134 Freeway in Glendale.
A little bit after midnight he rear-ended a Honda CRV that was stopped in the middle westbound lane of the highway. He exited his car and walked toward the center divider wall, according to the California Highway Patrol. A Lexus traveling about 75 miles per hour was merging into the left lane to avoid the two disabled vehicles.
The Lexus struck the man and flung him over the center divider wall and into eastbound traffic. Witnesses say he was still alive and kicking when hit and killed by an eastbound vehicle that then fled the scene. Authorities are investigating and have made no arrests.
Based on the currently available facts, several question come up. First, the decedent's estate is likely liable for injuries, if any, to the Honda driver and its occupants. An approaching driver must always keep a clear lookout ahead for stopped or slowing vehicles. He or she must have sufficient control in order to stop within an assured clear distance. The difficult question next arises as to whether the decedent's estate has a claim for wrongful death against the cars that struck and killed him.
California personal injury law considers first who was negligent in the subject car accidents. Considering the facts as reported, the Lexus operator was speeding and going too fast for conditions. If those reports hold true, then that driver will likely be liable to the decedent's estate for wrongful death damages. With respect to the hit-and-run driver, there may be compensation through the decedent's own uninsured motorists' coverage. In this situation, however the question must also be resolved whether the decedent remained an 'operator' of a car for insurance purposes when he exited the car and became a pedestrian.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Man struck twice and killed after accident on 134 Freeway," Joe Piasecki, June 15, 2013