Drunk driving often leads to serious bodily injuries and even death. In California, the act of driving while intoxicated is generally regarded as establishing negligence because the driver generally is unable to control the vehicle. If the driver is convicted of a DWI offence before the civil case comes to trial, the driver is generally considered to be negligent per se, that is, negligent without further proof beyond evidence of the conviction. This rule will most likely be invoked in the case of a traffic fatality in El Dorado County.
According to the California Highway Patrol, a teenage girl was arrested this week on suspicion of being intoxicated when she lost control of her vehicle and crashed into a roadside pond on a highway in El Dorado County. Her female passenger was pulled from the vehicle and the pond by a passerby, but she was pronounced dead at UC Davis Medical Center later in the day.
After the teenage driver was treated for minor injuries at a nearby hospital, she was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The family of the girl who died in the accident has a claim against the driver for the “wrongful death” of the passenger. Under California law, the survivors of a person who dies due to another person’s wrongful conduct or neglect, in this case the girl’s operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, may sue the negligent party for damages resulting from the wrongful death of the family member. The facts of this case, insofar as they have been released by the California Highway patrol, appear to provide strong support for a wrongful death action.
Anyone who believes that they may have a cause of action for wrongful death, may wish to consult an experienced auto accident attorney for an analysis and evaluation of the evidence and an opinion on the likelihood of recovering damages.