In a period of three weeks, 15 serious accidents occurred on a stretch of road in Brentwood, California. One of the accidents took the life of a Clayton man when he stopped to help another driver whose car had gone off the road due to the resurfacing work. While the man was offering aid, another car began to drift off the road in a similar manner, striking the man and killing him.
After the fatal accident, the man's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and California Highway Patrol. His wife and daughter claimed that both parties had been negligent in taking appropriate steps to prevent accidents from occurring while the resurfacing work was going on. Just recently a jury returned a verdict, ordering the county to pay several million dollars to the man's family.
This accident was not the first fatal crash that occurred over the same period of time. Days before the man was killed, a woman had been driving and lost control of her vehicle. She was killed after her car crashed into a tree.
There were several factors that could have contributed to the high number of accidents. First, state guidelines require that reduced speed limit signs must be seen by drivers. Apparently the county failed to cover all of the signs, likely resulting in confusion as to which speed limit was the actual posted limit. Additionally, there was a lot of loose gravel that could have made it easier for drivers to lose control of their vehicles.
The lawsuit likely raised the question of whether the man would still be alive if the signs had been prominently displayed, the other vehicle had not been traveling as fast, and the driver had not lost control partially in part due to the loose gravel. And even with an award for damages, the man's family will always have to deal with the loss of their loved one.
Source: Contra Costa Times: "County to pay $11.7 million to Clayton family for Marsh Creek Road facility," Malaika Fraley, Sept. 7, 2011
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