Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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The summer months increase the risk of childhood drowning. The weather is at its warmest, and many people in the San Diego area enjoy swimming at the beach and in pools throughout the area. However, it is extremely important to keep a close eye on children when they are near the water to prevent drowning accidents. According to arecent article from San Diego News 6, the last week of August saw six near-fatal child drownings in San Diego County.

According to Oseana Bratton, file2041245784619a nurse at Rady Children’s Hospital, “six cases of young children nearly drowning in a 48-hour period may seem like a lot, but it’s not that uncommon this time of year, and there’s plenty more hot weather ahead.” Are parents and caregivers keeping an appropriately watchful eye?

One-year-old Gabriel Clark, his four-year-old sister, and the children’s nanny were swimming in a neighbor’s pool in Oceanside. According to the article, “it was just another day for his parents, both of them at work, until his mom Karen got a heart-stopping text.” The nanny texted Gabriel’s mother with a “terrifying text” that simply said “please call me.” The nanny had placed Gabriel in a flotation device—“the kind where his feet were in the water.” Karen told San Diego News 6 that the nanny reportedly “turned away for just a few seconds to help four-year-old Mia jump into the pool.”

In the brief moment during which the nanny turned her attention away from young Gabriel, he “had just tried to get out, so he wasn’t totally out, but his head was submerged,” according to the victim’s mother. When the nanny removed Gabriel from the water, “he was blue and not breathing.” The nanny performed CPR on Gabriel. When emergency medical responders arrived, Gabriel was breathing on his own again.

Though Gabriel was okay in the end, secondary drowning can be a serious—and often deadly—result of a near-drowning. As a precaution, Gabriel stayed in the pediatric intensive care unit at Rady Children’s Hospital overnight.

Unintentional Drownings: Keeping Kids Safe

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately ten people suffer fatal drowning injuries each day in the U.S. About 20 percent of those victims are kids under the age of 15. The CDC emphasizes that drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in our country. Those figures do not include people who die in boating-related accidents.

To prevent unintentional drownings, it is important to know the risk factors:

  • Males are much more likely than females to die from drowning. In fact, about 80 percent of fatal drowning victims are males.
  • Children between the ages of one and four years old are at greatest risk of drowning. About one-third of accident related fatalities of children in that age group are caused by drowning.

According to the CDC, important prevention measures include the following:

  • Learn to swim, or ensure that your children have swimming skills before you go near or into the water;
  • Learn CPR;
  • Wear a lifejacket or other flotation device;
  • Always make sure children are supervised when they are in the water or around water;
  • Teach children to use the buddy system when in the pool or at the beach;
  • Always avoid drinking alcohol before swimming.

If your child died in a drowning accident, it is important to talk to an experienced San Diego wrongful death attorney. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn how we can assist you.

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Last week, two teenagers were involved in a serious train accident in Marysville, California, according to an article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.  The transit accident resulted in the death of one of the teens, Mateus Moore, and serious injuries to the other, Mickayla Friend.  The young high school couple had been on their way to a school dance when they were struck by an oncoming freight train.  Friend remains in critical condition in the Sutter Roseville Medical Center, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.

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Train accidents can be very serious and often are life-threatening.  It’s very important to take steps to ensure your own safety, and that of others, when you’re walking near train tracks.  If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a dangerous transit accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.  In some cases, the train conductor or the train company may have been negligent. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your case.  You may be able to file a wrongful death claim.

Details of the Train Accident

On the Friday night of a Sadie Hawkins dance, Moore and Friend were walking southbound on the train tracks, which, according to KCRA-TV, was the same direction in which a Union Pacific freight train was traveling.  Witnesses at the scene indicated that the train engineer blew the horn and even activated the emergency brakes, “but the two kids didn’t move out of the way in time.”

Based on witness reports, Moore pushed Friend out of the way of the oncoming train, saving her life, according to an article in the New York Daily News.  Sean Stark, one of the witnesses, told the newspaper that “the engineer was on the horn when finally, they both looked back at the same time.”  According to Stark, “they would have both been underneath that train if he didn’t push her out of the way at the last second.”

The accident occurred close to the high school and nearby to a crowded little league park in Marysville.  Witnesses rushed to the scene of the accident to try to save the two teenagers.  Moore died at the scene, and Friend was airlifted to Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

Authorities currently are investigating the accident, and are “looking into whether the pair was distracted by headphones or something else with the accident occurred.”  A spokesperson for Union Pacific indicated that it “takes more than a mile for a train to stop,” explaining why the emergency brakes couldn’t halt the train before it crashed into the teenagers.

Train and Transit Safety

How can you stay safe around trains and tracks?  According to the Rail Safety Education network, there are some important tips to remember when you’re a passenger on a light rail or commuter train, as well as when you’re walking or driving near train tracks.  These safety tips include:

·      Keeping alert: it’s important to remember that trains can come from both directions of a track, and in many cases, they’re quite quiet.

·      Obeying warning signs: since passerby often don’t hear trains coming, it’s especially important to abide the warning signs and signals, and to be especially careful if you’re wearing headphones or talking on a cell phone.

·      Watching out for the overhang: since trains are wider than train tracks, it’s very dangerous to sit on the edge of a platform at the station.

·      Watching your step: when you get on or off a train, there’s often a gap that can lead to a fall.

·      Only crossing the tracks where it’s legal: directional signs and safety warnings are in place for a reason—if you cross the tracks or walk along the tracks in any place except a designated crossing zone, you could be risking your life.

If your loved one has been injured or killed in an accident or has sustained a catastrophic injury, a San Diego accident lawyer can talk with you today about your case.

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Four Major Bus Crashes in December

Rainy weather in Southern California has made the highways slick and dangerous. Currently, four serious bus crashes have occurred on the California highways in the last month. Some commentators believe the rainy weather contributed significantly to the crashes.

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A tour bus on its way to Valley View Casino, just north of San Diego, crashed and caused serious injuries and one fatality, according to an article in Reuters. The bus accident injured more than 20 passengers when it overturned near Fallbrook in the middle of the afternoon, reported California Highway Patrol Office Jim Bettencourt. According to the article, the bus passengers were older adults on a casino excursion. The crash victims were transported to nearby hospitals, where their injuries were reported as “ranging from minor to serious.” In the hours after the accident, the cause of the charter bus crash remained under investigation.

Similar accidents have occurred since, making for a total of four very serious bus accidents in Southern California in the month of December alone. For example, every passenger on a 30-passengers bus sustained injuries “when it spun out near Corona,” according to an officer on the scene. Many of these passengers suffered minor injuries, “but several were taken to area hospitals with moderate injuries,” reported Reuters. One of those passengers later died from his injuries, according to an article in the Huffington Post. This bus had been on its way from Orange County to a casino in the San Diego area. This crash, too, remains under investigation, but one of the police officers on the scene indicated that “rain might be a factor.”

Does rain often cause serious bus accidents and traffic crashes? Travis Monks, a California Highway Patrol Officer, emphasized that drivers need to take extra precaution when it’s raining in Southern California. According to Monks, “the roadway was wet at the time of the accident.” Rain may also have been a factor in a Riverside County accident in which a Riverside Transit Agency bus “slid sideways and hit a car traveling in the opposite direction,” according to the Huffington Post.

Just a few days later, the Huffington Post reported that a tour bus heading north from a San Diego-area casino crashed off a freeway east of Los Angeles. In this bus accident, the vehicle crashed just after 4:30 a.m. when it careened off an I-10 shoulder. According to the article in the Huffington Post, “the bus wheels went into a small drainage ditch and it came to a rest against a fence and light pole.” The bus had been carrying 40 passengers, and 13 sustained injuries. Of those victims, only two reported moderate injuries, while eleven reported minor injuries.

While investigators haven’t yet determined with certainty whether slick roadways caused these accidents, the slippery highways combined with the speed of the buses likely played a role.

Rainy Highways Can Cause Serious Accidents

Is bus travel safe after heavy California rain? According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management Program, precipitation can significantly impact roadway safety. For instance, rain can lessen visibility distance, and it can cause pavement friction and lane obstruction. In addition, precipitation can negatively affect vehicle performance and driver behavior.

If you or a loved one has recently suffered injuries in a bus accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. It’s important to speak to an experienced California bus accident lawyer. Contact us today to discuss your claim.

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Bus accidents happen with some frequency in California, and such mass transit accidents can be especially dangerous. An article in the Huffington Post reported that federal bus safety regulators recently shut down 52 companies due to poor safety records and failures to meet certain standards. In southern California, buses are not only responsible for transporting San Diego residents on daily commutes through the city, but they also provide transportation for school students and senior citizens. And when these buses aren’t safe, victims can sustain severe injuries.

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In California, there’s a statute of limitations for filing a bus accident injury claim. In our state, under California Code of Civil Procedure §335.1, you must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of your accident. If you have been injured in a bus accident, it is extremely important to speak to an experienced California bus accident lawyer.

Motor Coach Industry Statistics

Each year, buses carry about 700 million passengers—that number is pretty similar to the number of yearly passengers on domestic airlines. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal motorcoach crashes don’t happen very frequently. However, when these dangerous accidents occur, statistics suggest that there’s no single factor at work.

For instance, between 1996-2005, the NHTSA conducted research on different types of motorcoach accidents and the related number of fatalities. The study showed that about one-third of the crashes were rollover or turnover crashes, in which passengers often were ejected from the bus. Of the remaining crashes, about one-third resulted from roadside accidents. Then, about one-fourth resulted from multi-vehicle crashes, with the remainder occurring in “non collision” situations. One statistic has remained constant, however: passengers are injured and suffer fatalities much more frequently than drivers when bus crashes occur.

Details of the Federal Shut Downs
One of the most surprising features of the recent government bus company shut downs is that these companies aren’t likely offenders. As the Huffington Post article explains, “the companies aren’t just low-cost, fly-by-night carriers.” In fact, according to Anne S. Ferro, the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), some of these companies have been chartered for school trips and by many different reputable organizations.

The FMCSA began its investigations back in April, looking into about 250 motor coach companies that had “poor safety records.” This set of investigations was known as “Operation Quick Strike,” a project that resulted in part from crashes in bus companies that were known to have “dismal safety records,” the Huffington Post reported.

The FMCSA’s inspectors took a close look at more than 1,300 buses, and they ended up taking 340 of those buses “off the road, at least temporarily.”

Some of the violations included safety problems, as well as maintenance standard violations. In addition, some of the companies violated the “hours of service” rules that prevent bus drivers from being on the road for too long without a taking break.

The FMCSA has faced scrutiny from other federal agencies following fatal bus accidents in California and elsewhere in the U.S., and the recent inspections are intended to correct the problems that might have led to those dangerous accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, you will need experienced legal counsel on your side. Contact an experienced bus accident attorney at the Walton Law Firm today.

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Medical research involving brain damage has increased dramatically in the past few years, and researchers have begun to learn more about the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Recent studies reported in U.S. News & World Report suggest that athletes and soldiers may be at even greater risk of memory loss and harmful behavioral changes than originally thought. While the Brain Injury Association of California and other advocacy groups engage in awareness work throughout our state, brain injuries continue to plague many California residents.

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If you or a loved one have suffered a mild or severe brain injury, it’s important to speak to an experienced California brain injury lawyer. In many cases, another person’s negligence may have caused your injury, and you may be eligible to seek compensation.

Brain Scans and Alzheimer’s-Like Symptoms

A November article in U.S. News & World Report reported on new brain injury research that showed a link between TBIs and later-life memory problems. The study appeared in JAMA Neurology. It used new brain imaging technology that’s known as positron emission tomography (PET), and the study revealed that persons who had suffered a traumatic brain injury even early in life developed certain “plaques” in their brains that mimicked those typically seen in Alzheimer’s patients. These plaques are amyloid deposits, and according to the study’s author, Dr. David Menron, “these deposits can show up within hours of the blow to the head.”

Previous studies had emphasized a possible link between TBIs and memory problems down the road, but there remains no definite link between the two. Even the results from the new brain scan technology need to undergo further scrutiny. According to Menon, “patients can be imaged with PET to detect early amyloid deposition, and then followed up to see whether this early amyloid deposition resolves, whether it recurs, and how these processes relate to later cognitive mental decline.”

This new research can tell us, however, that harder blows to the head do result in more Alzheimer’s-like plaque in the brain. Menon explained, the “greater the blow to the dead, the more amyloid plaque accumulation and dementia risk was seen.” While this study didn’t include athletes, on average the participants were in their 30s. The connection between younger brains and dangerous amyloid deposits strikes other researchers as particularly relevant to many different brain injuries in athletes and other younger adults. Indeed, a former sideline physician with the N.Y. Jets emphasized that “this type of imaging may potentially play a role in helping to understand how traumatic brain injury affects the brain and serve as a marker to evaluate such patients over the long term.”

Even Mild Brain Injuries Produce Long-Term Effects

The PET study makes clear that there’s a potential connection between memory loss and TBIs. Another recent study from HealthDay News suggested that even mild brain injuries produce long-term effects. Studying soldiers who suffered brain injuries from blasts, the new research revealed that a “special type of MRI called diffusion tensor imaging” highlights the changes salient changes in the brain.

Previously, medical professionals found it difficult to study mild brain injuries caused by explosions, as standard CT and MRI scans couldn’t provide sufficient information for researchers to determine brain problems later in life. Now, the new MRI technology has shown “significant differences in the brain’s white matter” in veterans who have experienced minor brain injuries. This part of the brain “consists mostly of signal-carrying nerve fibers,” and changes within it are “linked with attention problems, delayed memory and poorer psychomotor test scores.”

What’s the key takeaway here? Equipped with new medical technology, medical researchers are beginning to discover that both mild and severe brain injuries, whether one-time or recurring, can produce serious long-term effects. If you or a loved one have sustained a brain injury, you should seek legal counsel. You may be eligible for financial compensation, and the California brain injury attorneys at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your case with you today.

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Over the last year, news about traumatic brain injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) have been making news across the country. Back in October, we explained that California, through new legislation, would be taking steps to significantly limit the number of sports players who could file workers’ compensation claims in the state. An article in the Los Angeles Times recently reported that Tony Dorsett, a 59-year-old former NFL running back, filed a brain injury claim with the California workers’ compensation panel only to have his claim denied. But now, players facing claim denials may have new evidence for their appeals, as researchers can accurately diagnose CTE in in living brains.

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As the number of former NFL players who show signs of CTE continues to rise, we’re likely going to see an increase in lawsuits in California and across the country. While researchers and medical professionals previously could only diagnose CTE postmortem, new medical advances allow doctors to detect signs of CTE in the living through brain scans and tests. There are hundreds of former sports players who may have suffered brain injuries in the course of their employment by the NFL and other professional sports leagues. And now, if those players can be diagnosed with CTE, they might be eligible for compensation.

Dorsett’s Brain Injury Claim

Last May, Dorsett’s workers’ compensation claim was dismissed, according to the judge, because he “had agreed to an $85,000 settlement for injuries to multiple orthopaedic body parts in 1991,” and as a result he “could not file another claim for any subsequent injury.” Dorsett appealed this decision, but the judge’s dismissal was upheld in August. According to the Los Angeles Times, the “three-judge panel found that language in the 1991 settlement released the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos from all future claims involving virtually any body part, including the head.”

Yet, there’s a new factor in play. Researchers at UCLA discovered that Dorsett and other former NFL players “showed signs of CTE.” As we’ve mentioned in earlier posts, this disease formerly was detected only upon autopsy. The UCLA researchers used “brain scans and other tests” to diagnose CTE. These tests revealed that Dorsett, as well as former Hall of Fame offensive lineman Joe DeLamielleure and former All-Pro defensive lineman Leonard Marshall, could be accurately diagnosed with CTE. Dorsett hasn’t filed an appeal, but other former players who accepted settlements similar to Dorsett’s are claiming that CTE isn’t covered by the “boilerplate language in the settlement that precluded future injury claims.”

CTE Claims May Be Different

Some of the attorneys for the former players argue that CTE diagnoses are more like “asbestos-related claims because it takes years for symptoms to surface.” For example, workers who had been exposed to asbestos agreed to workers’ compensation settlements at the outset, “only to file asbestosis or mesothelioma claims decades later,” and “the courts ultimately allowed those cases to proceed.”

Former player Jimmie Giles accepted a settlement similar to Dorsett’s. Now, he’s appealing the decision. His attorney raised the question, “How can you release your right to a claim for a condition that hasn’t manifested itself?” Indeed, if Giles’ appeal is successful, “it could open the door to many more claims from athletes who long ago accepted workers’ compensation awards only to develop serious brain disease years later.”

Have you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion? When a person experiences multiple concussions, she or he may be at risk for CTE. It’s important to contact an experienced brain injury lawyer if you believe you may be eligible for compensation. Contact the experienced California brain injury attorneys at the Walton Law Firm today.

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You might remember a product liability case when talked about back in August concerning the fatal acceleration of a Toyota Camry. The victim, Noriko Uno, 66, died after her 2006 Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated to speeds of more than 100 miles per hour and struck a tree and a telephone pole, according to an article in CNN News. Uno’s family filed a claim against Toyota, arguing that there was a defect in the Camry’s design and that the company should have installed a brake override system. News agencies quickly picked up the story and deemed the lawsuit a “bellwether” case that was likely to influence similar claims arising throughout the country. However, in mid-October, a California jury in the Los Angeles Superior Court returned a verdict in favor of Toyota.

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At the time, Toyota too emphasized that Uno’s suit was a “bellwether,” explaining that the verdict in the company’s favor would “set a significant benchmark that its vehicles are safe with or without a brake override system,” according to CNN News. In a statement on Toyota’s website, the company highlighted its win: “We are gratified that the jury concluded the design of the 2006 Camry did not contribute to this unfortunate accident.” Toyota went on to depict the verdict as an affirmation “that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle at issue in this case.”

As you might remember from our previous post, consumers began complaining about a problem with the Toyota Camry model that caused sudden acceleration. The problem, according to the Los Angeles Times, concerned an electronic throttle system in the vehicles. Despite the loss in California, however, a recent jury verdict in favor of two Oklahoma plaintiffs suggests that Toyota might have to pay more settlements than it initially thought.

A Plaintiff Win and a Toyota Settlement in Oklahoma

After the California verdict, commentators suspected that Toyota likely wouldn’t be held responsible for most of the “sudden acceleration” claims cropping up. However, late in October, an Oklahoma jury decided that Toyota Motor Corp. should pay $3 million in a sudden acceleration case that caused the death of one woman and the serious injury of another, according to an article in Bloomberg. The $3 million includes compensatory damages for both victims, with $1.5 million for each. The jury was set to deliberate on punitive damages in this case when Toyota settled with the victims, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Indeed, the jury found that Toyota had “acted with reckless disregard,” reported the New York Times. The company had reports about problems with the Camry model, and yet they didn’t take steps to correct them. As a result, the jury had planned to award punitive damages. The lawyer for the plaintiffs, J. Cole Portis, said that he was “fully convinced that Toyota’s conduct from the time the electronic throttle control system was designed has been shameful,” and he expressed gratitude for the jury, who “had the courage to let Toyota and the public know that Toyota was reckless.”

A Toyota spokesperson, Carly Schaffner, issued statement in which she explained that Toyota “strongly disagreed with the verdict,” but that the company was “satisfied that the parties reached a mutually acceptable agreement to settle this case.” Legal analysts have underscored the connection between Toyota’s settlement and the company’s likely desire to avoid having to pay punitive damages.

What Happened Between California and Oklahoma?

While it’s upsetting to learn that the California jury who heard Uno’s case found in favor of Toyota, the recent Oklahoma settlement suggests that Toyota might be willing to take more responsibility for its defective products. Indeed, legal analysts have emphasized that “the verdict could give a lift to plaintiffs in other cases.”

Have you or a loved one been injured by a defective product? Consumers file product liability claims everyday, and the dedicated team of California product liability lawyers at the Walton Law Firm can speak to you today about your case.

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A recent out-of-court medical malpractice settlement in Sacramento awarded the parents of Leah Gumb $9 million. Nearly two years ago, Leah Gumb suffered permanent brain damage after she was born at the UC Davis Medical Center, according to KTXL Sacramento. This case concerned a C-section that doctors failed to perform after Leah’s heart rate dropped. As a result, the infant requires “24-hour nursing care for the rest of her life,” reported CBS 13 Sacramento.

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Have you been the victim of medical malpractice? It’s important to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. California law has a statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims, which affects the time period in which you’re permitted to file a lawsuit. At the Walton Law Firm, we have years of experience handling medical negligence cases and can discuss your claim with you today.

What is Medical Malpractice?

In California, medical malpractice refers to a situation where a professional health care provider acts negligently. Many different kinds of health care providers can be held liable for medical negligence, including physicians, nurses, hospital and office staff, and dentists. Whenever one of these healthcare providers doesn’t abide by a certain standard of care, they can be guilty of medical malpractice.

Keep in mind, surgeries and medical procedures don’t always go as planned—that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re dealing with a medical negligence case. Only an experienced California medical malpractice lawyer can assess the details of your case and make recommendations for moving forward with your claim.

Obstetrics and Medical Negligence in the Sacramento Case
What happened in the Leah Gumb case? Leah’s mother, Jenny Kaminer, signed a waiver form to deliver her baby via a C-section. While she was in labor, Leah’s heart rate “would drop, and there wasn’t enough blood from her mother’s placenta to give her oxygen.” Kaminer was taken into the operating room, but while she was in there, she was surprised to learn that her doctors weren’t planning to perform a C-section.

Referring to Leah’s drop in heart rate, Kaminer explained, “I was told, ‘if this happens again, you need a C-section,’ which is why I signed the consent without any hesitation. And I still don’t know to this day when doctors made the decision not to perform the C-section.”

Because doctors didn’t perform the C-section, Leah suffered permanent brain damage. Kaminer recalled, “they took her right away to resuscitate her, and then she was put on a cooling blanket.” According to Kaminer, Leah “was blue and lifeless. Didn’t cry, didn’t move. It was obvious to us that something was catastrophically wrong with her.” Leah stayed in the UC Davis Medical Center for 30 days, and even after being released, she remained on a feeding tube until very recently.

The parents filed a lawsuit, seeking $15 million in damages to pay for Leah’s care. They decided to settle for $9 million, which will provide them with “the money they need to give Leah the best chance at a normal life as possible.” After the settlement had been decided, Kaminer described it as “very welcome in the sense that it relieves out financial burden . . . it allows us to get her as much therapy as she needs without worrying about the cost.”

Medical malpractice can have a significant impact on the life of the victim and the victim’s family. If you or a loved one have been injured by medical negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a California medical negligence lawyer today to learn more.

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The family of a man who was hit by a cement truck at the intersection of Mission Gorge Road and Cottonwood Avenue wants the driver arrested. A surveillance video purportedly shows the victim, 24-year-old Stevie Eastman crossing the intersection at a green light, and the truck striking him as he walked. Mr. Eastman died in the accident.

Fernando Diaz, the manager nearby Ferny’s Taco Shop, saw the driver get out of the truck and kneel next to Mr. Eastman right after the collision.

San Diego Sheriffs told 10News that is reluctant to arrest the driver because the surveillance, according to it, is inconclusive as to whether or not a crime has been committed.

“What we want to do is look into everyone’s life for 48, 72 hours before this happened,” the Sheriff’s Department said. “What were they doing? Who were they with? Why were they there?” An accident reconstruction investigator has been assigned to the case, but it could be weeks before the results of the investigation are complete.

Under California law, even if no arrest is made, the family would still have an avenue to justice in the civil court system. The family could sue the driver, and maybe his employer, for the negligent operation of his truck, and get some of the answers they are looking for.

In the 10News report (seen here), Mr. Eastman’s 13-year-old sister was inconsolable:

“He loved everyone, I know he loved me. He was just the best,” she said. “He was always there for me and stuff. I don’t know why he had to leave.”

Watch the 10News coverage here:

Walton Law Firm is a San Diego personal injury law firm representing individual and families in cases of serious personal injury and wrongful death matters. Free consultations can be obtained by calling (866) 607-1325 or locally (760) 571-5500.

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Back in 2009, a tragic accident in Southern California killed three family members when their SUV crashed into the back of an illegally parked truck. The truck accident left two surviving children, then aged 11 and 9. The surviving daughter, Kylie, filed a wrongful death claim and the 13-year-old girl just won a shockingly immense $150 million in damages, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

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Wrongful death claims in California can lead to very high verdicts, as evidenced by the recent jury decision in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. If you have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced California injury attorneys at the Walton Law Firm today.

Details of the Truck Accident

In November 2009, the Asam family had been traveling to Oregon for Thanksgiving. According to ABC 7 Los Angeles, the family’s GMC Yukon SUV “rear-ended and 18-wheeler parked alongside the freeway” in Sunland. The crash killed both parents, Michael and Shannon Asam, and their 14-year-old soon Brennan. The Asam’s two younger children, Blaine and Kylie, survived the crash but witnessed the fiery deaths of their parents and brother, who were trapped in the family’s car when it caught fire.

Nearly four years after the accident, Blaine Asam committed suicide, according to CBS Sacramento. As such, Kylie Asam was the final survivor to bring the wrongful death claim against the truck driver, Rudolph Ortiz, and his employer, the Watsonville-based Bhandal Bros. Trucking.

Details of the Wrongful Death Case and Jury Verdict

At trial, Kylie Asam’s case alleged that Ortiz had been parked illegally on the 210 freeway shoulder near La Crescenta, according to the Los Angeles Times. The area where Ortiz parked was designed “for emergencies only,” and he hadn’t turned on his trailer lights or his emergency reflectors, according to Asam’s attorney, Brian Brandt.

Brandt told the Los Angeles Times that Ortiz’s attorney argued that his client had pulled over “to take medication for a severe headache, which constituted an emergency,” and that “Ortiz had parked on the dirt to the right of the shoulder.” Yet, Brandt told the jury that Ortiz had “given multiple accounts of why he was parked in the area, including stopping to urinate and pulling over to sleep.”

The jury deliberated for three days before it returned with a verdict that found Ortiz “negligent for parking on the side of the freeway in the early morning darkness without leaving on any light or emergency reflector,” according to CBS Sacramento. The jury found Ortiz and Bhandal Bros. Trucking jointly liable for more than $150 million in damages. That amount includes $8.75 million awarded to Kylie’s brother, Blaine. That $8.75 million will pass to Kylie, and it will be placed, along with the remaining damages, in a trust until she’s 18 years old.

Referring to Kylie, Brandt explained that “it’s hard for her to comprehend the scope” of this verdict, yet he emphasized that he hoped it would “send a message to the entire trucking industry and the nation,” telling drivers “they can’t endanger us.”

Have you lost a loved one because of another person’s negligence or bad act? Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced California wrongful death lawyer. There’s a statute of limitations that governs the amount of time you have to file a case, so it’s important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

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