When two vehicles collide, the first instinct of both drivers and passengers is to leave their vehicles to inspect the damage and to exchange information about insurance coverage. Sometimes, this instinct only compounds the damage that results from the collision. A recent accident near Hercules, CA, provides devastating proof of the tragedy that results from motorists leaving their vehicles instead of waiting for the police to arrive.
“I will never forget a young mom I represented who still suffers from a serious brain injury due to the inattention of a truck driver’s air pressure.” – Mark Hiepler
What happened at the scene
According to police, a Honda Accord was stopped to repair a flat tire. The car was in the far left-hand lane. Several cars were forced to slow abruptly to avoid the stalled Honda. The rapid deceleration of these vehicles caused several rear-end collisions. None of the drivers or passengers in these vehicles were injured in these minor collisions. The real damage occurred as drivers and passengers left their vehicles to inspect the damage to their vehicles.
A Toyota Camry that was headed west in the left-hand lane swerved to avoid the stopped vehicles. The Camry swerved into the center lane and hit several individuals who were standing on the freeway. One woman was catapulted into the eastbound lane of I-80 and was struck by several vehicles. A man was thrown into the center median by the Camry.
The woman who was thrown into the eastbound lane was pronounced dead by the California Highway Patrol, but the hospital to which she had been taken said that she was brain dead and that the family had not given permission to disconnect her ventilator. The man in the median was declared dead at the scene. Several other individuals were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment of what police called “minor injuries.”
The potential to recover damages
The families of the two persons who died in the collision may have wrongful death claims against the driver of the Toyota. The persons who were struck but not killed by the vehicle may have claims for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Anyone who has suffered injuries or lost a loved one under similar conditions may wish to explore a claim for damages. A capable personal injury attorney can provide an evaluation of the evidence and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages from the party at fault.