The only surviving member of a California family that was devastated by a fatal car accident will receive an enormous $150 million settlement in connection with the wreck. The girl, who is now 13, watched her parents and older brother burn to death in their vehicle after an accident on Nov. 22, 2009. A wrongful death judgment in the case will require the driver of a commercial truck and his employer to pay a significant financial penalty for their roles in the crash.
The girl was not the only survivor to escape the car. Her brother also crawled to safety when the car crashed. That young man committed suicide in June, so the girl will receive his share of the judgment, as well.
Official reports show that the accident occurred when the family’s vehicle slammed into a commercial truck that was parked along the side of the 210 Freeway. The truck driver was accused of parking in a spot on the road that was not designed for stopping except in an emergency. In addition, that man did not activate his flashers or place emergency reflectors along the road to notify other drivers of his presence. The driver argued that he had pulled over to urinate and sleep, neither of which are considered valid reasons for using an emergency lane.
The driver’s attorneys said the man had been suffering from a headache, which could prevent him from safely operating his vehicle. They said the man had tried to pull over as far as he could, even parking in the dirt alongside the shoulder.
Lawyers for the surviving child say they hope the verdict will emphasize the need for truckers to drive and park safely on California roads. No other children should be forced to witness their family members’ deaths because another driver was negligent and unsafe.
www.latimes.com, “Jury awards $150 million to girl whose family died in crash” James Barragan, Oct. 29, 2013