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Although the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are the result of accidents, there are plenty of other circumstances under which one or more people may be held liable for another person's injury or wrongful death. Negligence comes in many forms, and sometimes doesn't happen until after someone is already injured.

An example is the case of a San Jose woman who was shot two years ago in the upstairs hallway of her family's apartment, just a few blocks away from a medical center. Her family members claim that just after the shooting a police dispatcher told them that paramedics were on their way. But when police arrived, they went across the street instead. The woman's husband, sister and other family members shouted that it was safe to come inside the building and that the woman was inside, in need of help.

After some time passed, the woman's husband went down to the street and begged the officers and paramedics to come inside the building and help his wife. But police instead were responding to a woman whom they found bleeding from a stab wound on the lawn outside the apartment complex, and told the husband of the gunshot victim to go back inside. They later said that with an assailant still inside the building, they didn't want to charge upstairs to the victim. Little did they know that the man accused of shooting her was inside his apartment, calmly waiting for police to arrest him.

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A San Jose woman who lost control of her car and struck a grandmother outside her home has been sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. The fatal accident happened on the first day of May 2011 -- in theory, a perfect day for the 79-year-old woman to garden in her front yard. There would have been no way for her to predict that an SUV would come speeding down her street and onto her property.

The accident was actually the second of three the driver of the Chevy Suburban caused that day. Shortly before the fatal crash, the woman struck a sedan just off Highway 85 in San Jose. Although the damage was minor, the driver left the scene, according to police. The Honda's driver followed the SUV as it went south, then attempted to make a sudden left turn. That's when it jumped the curb and a stone wall in front of the gardening woman's house.

After hitting the woman and her house, the front corner of which was crushed in the accident, the woman driving the SUV fled that crash scene, too, according to police. After making several more turns the vehicle struck a parked car. Police said the driver and her three passengers got out of the SUV and tried to abandon it, but police were able to stop them before they fled.

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The death of a close family member is hard for anyone to overcome. But when a hit-and-run crash is involved, those emotions seem to remain raw for a much longer time.

The family of a San Jose, California, woman who was run over by an SUV after an argument with her date is still struggling with her death, in part because she left two young sons behind. Considering the nature of her death and the need for someone to support her children, the family may consider filing a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the man accused of killing her.

It was late March when the 28-year-old mother met a man for a date in nearby Sunnyvale. After arranging to meet the man at a liquor store, a friend dropped her off there, according to police. While on the date, she and the 25-year-old man she was with got into an argument. According to a witness, the woman was pushed out of the SUV the two were riding and fell onto the road. The witness said he saw the driver put the vehicle in reverse, causing him to crash into a group of garbage and recycling bins on the road before he accelerated forward again and drove over the woman before taking off. She was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

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When parents send their children off to college, it's natural for them to be initially concerned for the students' well-being and safety, especially if the students are in a new city far away from home. But most don't expect their children to experience serious harm, let alone death.

Tragically, that's just what happened last month to two Chinese graduate students attending the University of Southern California. The students, both 23 and studying electronic engineering, were fatally shot in what police believe was a botched robbery. The students' parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against USC, accusing the university of claiming to have a safer environment than it actually does. USC is attempting to have the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, thrown out.

No arrests have been made yet in the shooting, which happened as the two were sitting in one of the student's BMW April 11. One of the students was found in the passenger seat; the other was found collapsed on the steps of a nearby home. Their parents' lawsuit says they were misled by USC's claims that it ranks among the safest universities and provides 24-hour security on the campus and in surrounding neighborhoods. The suit says that in reality, USC "provided no patrolling" in the area where the students were shot and kept up its "clearly misleading" claims to safety even after the shooting occurred.

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Often when people think of wrongful death lawsuits, they picture a fatal accident, perhaps caused by a drunk driver or someone who wasn't paying attention. But sometimes the facts of a wrongful death are much more complicated and negligence can be difficult to prove.

Oddly enough, this is especially true when the death involves not an accident, but intentional harm. Take for example the case of a 33-year-old long-haul truck driver who was fatally shot by a Gilroy, California, police officer in February 2008. Diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, the driver was usually able to effectively control his condition with medication. But one night he called relatives after becoming distraught on a trip. They picked him up, but he started acting irrationally in the car and ran off in the dark on Highway 152.

A police officer on patrol found him lying near the road and stopped his car, walked toward the man and pulled out his gun. At that point, the officer got a phone call from a colleague, who stayed on the line while the man got up, lunged at the officer and tried to take his gun, according to the officer. The colleague later said he heard the shots over the phone.

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While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with the attorney, please call at 408-293-7777 or complete the intake form below.

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John J. Garvey, III
10 Almaden Blvd, #1220
San Jose, CA 95113
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